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PORTLAND-Bruce Warner, the current director of the Oregon Department of Transportation, has been named executive director of the Portland Development Commission, the city‘s urban renewal agency. Warner replaces Don Mazziotti who resigned earlier this year and whose last day is June 30. Warner will assume his new role on August 1. As Director of ODOT, Warner leads and manages a biennial budget of more than $2 billion and a workforce of 4,600. Prior to ODOT, he served as COO and director of environmental management at Metro, a Portland-area regional government. Warner has also served as director of land use and transportation for Washington County; as the city engineer and building official for the City of Hillsboro, and; as an environmental engineer for the US Army Corps of Engineers.The PDC, which has an annual budget in excess of $280 million, has taken heat on several fronts in recent weeks. It has been criticized for decisions related to a $250-million redevelopment at the east end of the Burnside Bridge; for an overpriced consulting contract that did not produce the expected results; for its no-bid contracts, and; for Mazziotti’s extraordinary expense account. In early June, its financial director resigned in the midst of an outside audit of contracting practices at the city agency prompted by critical local news reports. Most recently, it took heat for almost killing a major redevelopment of the Downtown Meier & Frank Department store by drafting a public participation contract that kicked into effect prevailing wage law, prompting the developer to threaten to walk away from the $100-million project. The agency is believed to have saved the project with an 11th-hour alteration of the contract’s wording. It has not responded to a request for comment on the issue.”We believe Bruce has exactly the right combination of skills to lead PDC at this stage in its history,” says PDC Chairman Matt Hennessee, who announced the new hire after the unanimous recommendation of its five-member commission at a special commission meeting today. “He has demonstrated experience in leading large public agencies through change and has excellent administrative strengths.”PDC has some tremendous work ahead of it,” he adds. “The agency must focus on improving internal oversight, working closely with the Mayor and City Council and, most importantly, rebuilding the public’s trust through increased transparency and improved public participation. Bruce has a huge job in front of him, but we feel confident he is up to the task.”

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