The report on Portland's involvement in the Joint Terrorism Task Force came out, just after I last posted here in mid-February,. As the Oregonian reported, it "bears little resemblance to the model called for last year by the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon and City Commissioner Amanda Fritz."
The ACLU and I asked that the report "be as transparent and detailed as possible." This was "to ensure Portland Police Bureau compliance with Oregon laws and request police bureau to the attorney general, including a number of consultations and the types of issues and the actions taken as a result of the number of investigations, and time and at what stage the Portland police officers were asked to work with the JTTF. The annual number of hours and officers participating. The number of briefings from the FBI to the police chief and commissioner in charge. And how often terror alert information was shared with city officials."
Although more details were provided due to my advocacy and the work of the ACLU, the report accepted on a 4-1 vote does not state even a ballpark range for how many hours Portland Police officers worked with the JTTF on terrorism cases over the year. Portland Police Chief Mike Reese claimed that revealing the actual number of hours "would be likely to compromise ongoing investigations and reveal the operational tempo of our work on terrorism."
ACLU of Oregon executive director David Fidanque stated it was "disappointing, silly and hard to understand how having a little bit more of a sense of the officers' involvement would compromise security." I agree. The Portland Mercury reported Mayor Adams cut off debate, stating he would not recognize me to speak because I was asking questions "that should not be asked in Council chambers" according to Commissioner Nick Fish. I had made my point, that the Report was not as transparent as I wanted it to be, and that it was clear no further information would be forthcoming. I am disappointed. But there is always next year for me to keep asking .... as long as I win re-election on May 15.
Meanwhile, out in the neighborhoods, the Oregonian reported on a Vernon Neighborhood Association meeting Senator Chip Shields and I attended, where residents were opposing 7-11 opening new convenience stores in Vernon and St. Johns.
As the Woodstock community discovered last year, and as I affirmed at the meeting, if the zoning allows it, "They have the right to do this." Along with the residents, I called for 7-11 to work with the neighborhood and I will attend any follow-up meeting that is held. The upper managers of 7-11 have agreed to meet with Mayor Adams and me to discuss issues. I also suggested the community talk to the Bureau of Transportation about a traffic study and any impact on neighborhood safety that might have. It turns out such a study was already done. I very much want to be on the Council next year, to ensure that the Portland Plan is implemented in neighborhoods through improved zoning and Zoning Code standards.
I led the creation of the Office of Equity and Human Rights, to address appalling, persistent disparities fof people of color and people with disabilities in Portland. The Oregonian reported on my hiring of Dante James as its first director. He comes from Denver, where he worked for the Mayor on equitable contracting, as well as having experience in the public, political, and non-profit arenas. He also worked with President and Mrs. Clinton for six years. Nice Q& A on the Portland Mercury as he started work here.
More information about Dante is posted on my City blog, Dante is a proven leader in the public, private, and non-profit sectors, who will bring energy, passion, and a wealth of varied experiences to help us address the inequities that are apparent in our community. He brings knowledge and dedication to the Office in this crucial time, when more than ever Portlanders need action and improved outcomes. Welcome, Dante!
Still in February, Mayor Adams and I presented a plan for more diversity and equity required of arts groups asking for public money. It will ask groups to increase the multi-ethnic participation on staff, boards and contractors, as well as a hoped for 30% of their budgets on communities of color. I am excited how the arts community is embracing the equity challenge. Atter all, if we can't celebrate and encourage diversity in cultural groups, we are in even more trouble than we are already aware of, given the State of Black Oregon Report and the Coalition of Communities of Color reports. Our new Office of Equity and Human Rights will be partnering in this work..
Liquor licenses for food carts? Really?? I have serious concerns about allowing food cards to sell alcohol. The OLCC is supposed to monitor establishments selling liquor, but has only nine enforcement agents for the Tri-County area. Portland alone has 2,800 liquor licenses already, and there are close to 700 food carts in our City - many in residential neighborhoods where daily outdoor sales and consumption of alcohol will cause significant noise, livability, and safety problems..
Despite the concerns expressed by the City through a unanimously-passed resolution I authored, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission last week issued a liquor license to the Cartlandia food cart pod.
As I said to KGW, “We asked [the OLCC] to wait until a public process could be conducted and they have not done that. They seem to not care about the problems we're having in neighborhoods and seem to be looking directly at revenue from alcohol sale. Regardless, we have to deal with the problems. “Noise, livability and neighborhood safety are significant – we will be looking at legal and legislative options”.
See also this KATU report I will, of course, keep you up to date on City plans to deal with this problem. I have asked the City Attorney to prepare a lawsuit against OLCC.. Enough is enough.
The Council is working on the budget with our community --and things are looking tough. In fact, as I said, "It’s going to be awful.” We already made 5% cuts in 2009 and 4% in 2010. This year, the Mayor asked the bureaus to cut 4 - 8%. In small bureaus like Neighborhood Involvement, those cuts will impact programs and services to citizens. There are no other places left to cut.
The Council already held one public forum on March 5 and we will have another on March 21 in the Cleveland High School Cafeteria, 3400 S.E. 26th Ave., just off Powell Blvd.
I also recommend you take a look at the budget informaton.
BikePortland.org posted a plea from the PBOT Budget Advisory Committee asking Council to look at new revenue sources. The article noted that there will be new faces on City Council, and we must about Bureau of Transportation issues as it faces significant budget cuts. I will be open to discussing new funding when there are more citizens scrutinizing the entire PBOT budget. And after the recession eases. This year it is not appropriate to ask taxpayers to add additional fees.
One of the joys of my job is seeing engaged Portland citizens come to City Council meetings to advocate for their issues. This month, King Neighborhood residents and St. Andrews students told the Council about the value of the Portland Playhouse.
The Playhouse, "in one of the most sympathetic denials likely ever issued," was told by a City code Hearing Officer that, as a theater, it was "a commercial enterprise operating in a building not zoned for commercial use." However, the Council agreed with the Portland residents that the Playhouse is an arts center for the neighborhood, and a Community Service use.
“I am so overwhelmed by this testimony and the value to community this playhouse brings,” I noted at the meeting, as the Council allowed the Playhouse to be in their church home at NE Prescott and Sixth. There was an interesting (and annoying) twist added at the vote after the hearing, as reported by Denis on Mercury Blogtown. Commissioner Leonard and Mayor Adams scolded staff in the Bureau of Development Services ..... for following the rules in the Zoning Code. If I am put in charge of BDS in my second term, you can be sure I will empower staff to act with principles and values that honor appropriate public process.
A fun and interesting campaign event was the Candidates Arts Forum that I experienced with other candidates for the open Commissioner seat, and for Mayor. The Gerding Theatre in the Armory building was the setting and the whole thing is available on video at the link above. The part with me, Steve Novick and Brian Parrott is right at the beginning. I appreciated the Oregonian's report
I am especially proud of this comment from the ArtsWatch article's author, Barry Johnson: "The diversity discussion proved to be the most interesting to me, maybe because Fritz has such a passion for it, and that passion seemed infectious. Support for the new RACC diversity standards was the litmus test, and everyone passed it, but for Fritz it seemed more like a crusade." Yes, it is one of the main reasons I am running again. We cannot fail, this time.
Family Forward Oregon and the MotherPAC sponsored another forum.. Check out the video here.
The Oregonian editorial board called on me, as the Commissioner in charge of the Office of Healthy Working Rivers, to lead "a dialogue that also will invite public input" into the Portland Harbor Superfund site, in their editorial "Choosing the right cleanup". It's unfortunate the Oregonian's editors didn't call me to ask what is being done, before printing this editorial. The Office of Healthy Working Rivers is working with me to coordinate public involvement in making decisions on the Harbor. A public presentation to City Council is planned for March 28.
The Oregonian also ran an article this past week discussing, in particular, River Mile 11, an especially contaminated spot between the Broadway and Fremont bridges on the east side of the Willamette. The City has been working to coordinate cleanup on this site, even though we likely have limited liability at this location. I want to be on the Council in 2013 to make sure we spend taxpayer and ratepayer money wisely at each step. We must clean up the environment, reduce risk to humans and wildlife, encourage continued viability and growth of good industrial jobs, and look to coordinate cleanup and restoration in ways that minimize costs and develop new green techniques that can be marketed in other cities.
Willamette Week asked the leading candidates for Mayor and City Council to release the completed questionnaires they have sent to endorsing groups. WW reports: "The mayoral campaigns for Brady, Hales and Smith released stacks of these documents to the newspaper. Two candidates for City Council—Steve Novick and incumbent Amanda Fritz—have also released some questionnaires. Rep. Mary Nolan, Fritz’s challenger, has declined to release any." I released the AFSCME response I sent, as I am especially proud of my work with this City union with members in the Office of Neighborhood Involvement, Bureau of Emergency Communications, and Office of Cable Communications and Franchise Management. Many of the members of AFSCME who have worked with me are strong supporters who are volunteering on my campaign. We lost the membership vote for the AFSCME endorsement by 12 votes to 10. My opponent has refused to release what she said to AFSCME to win their endorsement.
This is a very full update, so I have asked my volunteer, Bill Michtom, to help me get them out more often. He has enthusiastically agreed. So, stay tuned! Thank you, Bill, for keeping track of all my "earned media."