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Immigration & Refugee Resettlement

Every year, Oregon offers new homes and a new start to hundreds of refugees who have escaped intolerable conditions in their home countries. Now in late 2021 and 2022, we are preparing for resettling as many as 1,200 new Afghan refugees. In November 2021, the League of Women Voters of Portland presented a panel discussion about the important ways in which Oregon helps immigrants and refugees.

Watch the video of the panel discussion by clicking the arrow below:

 

The panel included:

  • Shannon Singleton, Governor Brown’s Director of Equity and Racial Justice
  • Lee Po Cha, Executive Director, Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO)
  • Safia Iman Ali Noor, Upward Bound Academic Advisor and Administrative Assistant, IRCO
  • Matthew Westerbeck, Director of Refugee Services, Catholic Charities of Oregon
  • Moderator, Kathleen Hersh, co-chair, League of Women Voters of Washington County

MetroEast Community Media records Portland League programs for rebroadcast and online streaming. See the schedule for replays on public access channels below.  The Carol & Velma Saling Foundation provided the funding for presenting and recording this program.

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Portlanders: Share Public Testimony with the Charter Review Commission

Important topics for comments now

Do you think Portland should have a city manager? Should city commissioners be elected by districts? Does the Portland City Council need more members? Should the City Council be primarily a legislative body (and not also an administrative one)?

League members and the public are invited to share their thoughts with the Portland City Charter Review Commission. The commission has decided to focus their initial research on two topics. These may result in ballot measures in the November 2022 election, if they identify the need for change:

      • the city’s form of government;
      • the election methods used for selecting city councilors.

After the Portland League restudied our city government in 2017-19, we adopted our current 2020 LWVPDX position. This position features the two topics the commission selected (as well as several other topics). Here is an excerpt from our position:

“The highest priorities for change are to improve citizen representation by increasing the number of commissioners, to institute a city manager, and to establish the city council as a legislative or policy-setting body. We also support electing some or all city councilors by district.”

You may read the League’s testimony

If you would like to see how we testified on the changes we want, you can read our testimony below. These statements use information we learned in our research, as well as our position statements. We used not only our City Government position and study, but also our positions on Election Methods.

Testimony to Charter Review Commission Form of Government Subcommittee – October 2021. In this testimony, we recommended making the City Council a legislative body, without the commissioners’ current administrative duties. We also recommended hiring a City Manager.

Testimony to Charter Review Commission Subcommittee on Elections – October 2021. In this testimony, we recommended increasing the size of the City Council and electing them in a way that would more equitably represent city residents.

Transparency is important too

The issue of transparency in city government is also of concern to the League; we offered testimony about it to the Commission in June, and will follow up this topic next year when the Commission returns to study the issue.

How to share your ideas

The Commission accepts written public comment from Portlanders at any time, not only at meetings. Now is the time to share your support for changes in these two important areas! We encourage you to submit a public comment about why these two topics are important to you. If you are a League member, please remember that when you do so, you are testifying as a private individual and not as a representative of LWVPDX. If you agree with the League’s positions, you  may quote LWVPDX statements in your testimony as a private individual.  Of course you also may offer your own ideas or ideas from other organizations. (Learn more about League testimony guidelines here.)

Three steps to speaking out at this important moment:

  1. Read some background about the Commission’s two subcommittees on Form of Government and City Council Elections.
  2. Refresh your memory of the LWVPDX position on local government.
  3. Share your public comments. (When you send your comments, please thank the commissioners for their service. They are volunteers.)
More about the Charter Review Commission

In July 2021, the League posted an explanation about the work of the Charter Review Commission. You can read that here.

Thanks for taking action!
Featured

Pesticides: Balancing Benefits & Risks

Announcing a new LWV of Oregon Study and LWV of Portland Video on Pesticides

Cover of the LWVOR 2021 Study Report on Pesticide Use in Oregon

What are the best ways to control pests, while also protecting our environment and people’s health? To address these issues, the League of Women Voters of Oregon has published a study report on improving the safe use of pesticides in Oregon. You can read the full study report at the LWVOR.org website.

To supplement the study, the Portland League has recorded a panel discussion on what Oregonians should know about pesticides. The video recording of this presentation may be viewed by clicking on the arrow below.

The distinguished panel in the video presentation includes:

    • Amelia Nestler, PhD, Chair of the League Study and Senior Scientist at Northwest Green Chemistry
    • Kevin Masterson, Toxics Coordinator, Oregon Department of Environmental Quality
    • Lisa Arkin, Executive Director, Beyond Toxics
    • Andrea Sonnen, Enforcement Case Reviewer, Interim Pesticides Lead Investigator, Oregon Department of Agriculture – Pesticides Program
    • Stephanie Page, Director, Natural Resources Program Area, Oregon Department of Agriculture (participating for the Q & A)
    • Moderator,Paula Grisafi, Co-Chair of study.

The study identified five key areas of pesticide policy to be considered, with recommendations for action.  These include   1) Education, Training and Labeling, 2) Transparency and Information Gathering, 3) Funding, Research, and Evaluation, 4) Adaptive Management and Integrated Pest Management, and 5) Burden of Proof and the Precautionary Principle.

During the fall of 2021, local Leagues throughout Oregon discussed the study and video.  The goal is to find consensus on how the League should support or oppose policies that will affect the use of pesticides and biocides in the future.

MetroEast Community Media records Portland League programs for rebroadcast and online streaming from lwvpdx.org . Funding is provided by the Carol & Velma Saling Foundation.

To find recordings of previous LWVPDX panels on community issues, click here.

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Police Oversight Advocacy Position

LWVPDX Board adopts new position on Portland Police Bureau Oversight

A Call for Change to The Culture of The Portland Police Bureau

Portland Police Headquarters – Photo by Aaron Hockley, licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

Changing the culture of the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) must be a key goal of bureau leadership, according to the new LWVPDX advocacy position. After conducting a year-long study of Portland police oversight and accountability, the League’s membership concluded that, “PPB must end practices that systematically place police in opposition to or in domination of the public, or that treat community members as enemies.”

The LWVPDX position statement, “Portland Police Bureau: Oversight and Accountability,” begins by calling on the PPB to meet the following goals:

    • Accountability for police officers who violate community standards and PPB policies and directives.
    • Reduction in the use of force.
    • Fair, equitable, and respectful treatment of community members.
    • Reduction of bias-based policing with a goal of eliminating it.

The new position is based on the results of a careful nonpartisan study of the PPB.

An all-volunteer 22-member study committee began its work shortly before George Floyd was killed. Committee members reviewed 55 documents on PPB history and policies.  They also interviewed 22 key stakeholders, including police leadership, city council members, state legislators and community advocates. See more about the resulting  study report on this website here.

MEmber discussion and Consensus were Key to writing the position statement

The study then went to the LWVPDX membership for review. Portland League members participated in discussion groups, answering questions about the issues the study covered.  A “consensus committee” wrote the new advocacy position using the points upon which members reached consensus during their discussions.

In addition to calling for reduction in bias-based policing and fair and equitable treatment of community members, the new position statement on PPB Oversight and Accountability calls for reduction in use of force through de-escalation and for alternatives to armed police, such as using unarmed, appropriately trained civilian employees to respond to certain calls.  It also calls for improved transparency in the scope and timeliness of releasing police records, as well as for strengthening civilian oversight and community involvement. It supports giving authority to oversight groups to conduct independent investigations of police misconduct and to recommend discipline.

Read the whole position on Portland Police Bureau Oversight and Accountability here.