Mid-June News Update

May ended with a somewhat curious PolitiFact entry in the Oregonian, in which my opponent's criticism that I manage less than 5 percent of city operations is found to be true. Not a big surprise - I never disputed the claim.

Since City bureaus are assigned by the Mayor, it's unclear why this fact or appraisal has any particular meaning.

As I am quoted in the article, "the amount of work is not related to the number of employees or the budget of the bureau." The article also notes, "She also pointed out that she previously oversaw the city’s Cable Communications and Franchise Office, which was the second highest revenue generator for the city during the recession [and had the highest ever revenue brought into the City's General Fund under my leadership - AF]. The article also notes, "What’s more, Fritz has been in charge of creating two new offices (Equity and Healthy Working Rivers)--something that she said is particularly time intensive. 'Establishing a new bureau is a lot more difficult than taking over a bureau,' she said. Finally, she noted that the office of Neighborhood Involvement may have just 39 budgeted positions, but it works with a network of thousands of volunteers."

I believe helping volunteers become empowered in our system is in many ways more difficult than making sure City staff to do their jobs. I've done both well, and I'm proud of both our volunteers and the City staff who work so hard in my bureaus.

At the June 6th City Council meeting, the Commissioners authorized security cameras to be mounted on buildings in Old Town.

I voted against the decision, as I wanted an annual report on how the cameras have been used, their costs and their effectiveness. Inexplicably, I did not get any other Commissioner seconding my amendment, despite having had a discussion about reporting and accountability at the first hearing. Sometimes the Portland City Council is not as progressive as we like to think. The surveillance is opposed by "the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon and Portland Copwatch, among others. They argue that cameras are ineffective at reducing crime and violate the privacy of citizens who are not breaking the law."

Continuing the 2009-12 Council's focus on education and college support, I was delighted to promote, along with Mayor Adams, PSU President Wim Wievel and PCC President Preston Pulliams, an agreement to expand the Future Connect program, which provides college scholarships for more than 200 low-income, Metro-area high school graduates. As Sam told the audience at PSU, “Every time we increase degree attainment by just 1 percent, that translates to an additional $1.6 billion for our local economy."

Meanwhile, behaviors progress and change with the new curbside food composting program. According to that Oregonian article, "Portland is sending far less waste to landfills, and the switch to every-other-week garbage pickup seems to have encouraged residents to recycle more, too." This is great news. I also recognize that many Portlanders want to return to weekly garbage pickup. There is much more in the article, which is presented in a Q&A format. It should make clear what's behind the changes, what costs and savings are, and much more. Last fall there were about 6500 calls to the composting hotline. In May, there were only 1500 and almost half of those were not directly related to composting.

The City Council is considered ways of enforcing the rules of the program. Fines were suggested by the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, but Randy Leonard and I oppose that approach.

Stay tuned to the news here and on my City Web site.

And, it's Parade Season! Dan Saltzman and I were at the Junior Parade over in Northeast Portland and I will be going to many neighborhood events all summer. Parades are fun! Please call Sunshine if you would like to walk with me in one or more over the next two months.

Recent mayoral candidate and Occupy Portland participant Cameron Whitten is outside City Hall staging a hunger strike to bring attention to homelessness and poverty in Portland. I have responded to some of his emails and had a good conversation with him on 6/11. I noted in an interview with The Oregonian that the City Council works to care for Portlanders experiencing homelessness, including potentially eventually waiving fines against the Right 2 Dream, Too camp at the corner of West Burnside and NW 4th Avenue. For the record, I did not refer to people experiencing homelessness as "those people" as quoted in the Oregonian. People experiencing homelessness are not "those people". They are my friends and neighbors, people I care about and work hard to support. I am encouraging Cameron and other activists to seek change by working within the system, as I did as a community organizer before being elected to be a City Commissioner.

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