Biggest issue in Portland right now is a proposal to change the name of a street. And it's not a small thing.
The place is Interstate Boulevard, which doesn't seem a likely spot for social controversy. It is a road in northeast Portland running (very) roughly parallel to Interstate 5, mainly north of the downtown area. Because of hills and freeway ramps and bridges, we got stuck on it a time or two navigating around the area, and it's mostly not an especially memorable stretch. Much of it is industrial, and most of the rest fronts a range of businesses. Residential areas are nearby and peek through here and there. It's not one of the gentrified areas of Portland, but along with the rest of north Portland, it's moving gradually upscale.
Mayor Tom Potter has gotten behind the plan to rename Interstate Boulevard - a pretty generic name, to be sure - as Cesar Chavez Boulevard. Evidently recognizing that not everyone was going to agree, he noted on his web site, "I urge all Portlanders to learn more about this project and what it means the Latino community. Take the time to listen – and I mean really listen – before making a fearful reaction to the idea of change. More importantly in this debate, let’s respect one another. For when we do this, we are really saying to one another 'I respect your right to be here.'”
Fair enough, though respect has to run in all directions, and there are quite a few directions on this. So many, in fact, that we've gotten e-mail inquiries about the subject from as far away as Idaho.