Katz chides city council, boards

When Vera Katz accepted an award from the College of Urban and Public Affairs Wednesday, she did it with a speech that stayed true to her opinionated nature.

“When preparing this speech I thought I would be brief, gracious and non-controversial … but it wouldn’t be me,” Katz said.

Katz proceeded to express her disappointment with the city council and school board’s decision not to renew the Multnomah County income tax, the audience applauding her conclusion that “the most important infrastructure in our community is our schools.”

She spoke of the relationship and value of rural and urban Oregon and thanked people for supporting her during her 32 years of public service.

The former Portland mayor was honored at the fourth annual Urban Pioneer Awards dinner, held by the Portland State College of Urban and Public Affairs.

Other Portland notables such as former governor Barbara Roberts, Nick Fish and Mayor Tom Potter attended the Hilton event, which also served as a fundraiser for Urban and Public Affairs scholarships.

The award is given to a state and community leader who contributes to the city and state.

This year’s recipients were Katz and Kay Toran, head of the Oregon chapter of Volunteers of America and Central City Concern, which provides support services for people dealing with addiction, homelessness and mental illness.

Katz is currently a dean’s visiting fellow in the College of Urban and Public Affairs at PSU. Lawrence Wallack, Dean of the College of Urban and Public Affairs, called Katz a treasure chest for PSU students.

“When you think of why we love this place, there’s a good chance the former mayor had something to do with it,” Wallack said.