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Portland Charter Review Commission

Summer Updates

Every ten years, the City of Portland appoints a commission to review its Charter. The City Charter is the organizing document that structures the City and its leadership.  LWVPDX is following the Charter Review Commission, which  has been underway since late spring. Several of our board members are attending the public meetings. We are seeking ways the League can contribute to the discussions, considering our long-term commitment to improving local governance.

The Charter Commission identified early that two critical topics needing research by subcommittees are Portland’s form of government and City Council election processes. These are both areas important to LWVPDX. Our expertise was recognized in a presentation by Charter Commission Project Manager Julia Meier when she presented a chart from the LWVPDX’s 2019 study report on city government.

These two topics will be the focus of the first phase of subcommittee work, which aims to be completed in time to submit charter amendments to the November 2022 election. Three other topics (service alignment across bureaus; growth of democracy; transparency and accountability) will be researched in the second phase of subcommittee work, which will work toward amendments for later elections.

President offering testimony at June 2021 public meeting by zoom
LWVPDX President Debbie Kaye testifying to the Charter Review Commission

At the commission’s June 28 meeting, LWVPDX President Debbie Kaye provided testimony in support of the Charter Commission considering how to include transparency of city functions in their review (testimony by zoom pictured above). The League joined the Society of Professional Journalists, ACLU-Oregon, and Open Oregon in signing a joint letter proposing a new city position of Transparency Advocate to help ensure city bureaus are open and accessible to the public and to organizations such as news media that rely on public information.

The Charter Review is an exciting time to make a long-term difference to improve how our city operates, identifying key ways to make City Hall more responsive and more effective in implementing the changes Portlanders want.

To learn more about the Charter review process from the city, click here. You can sign up for email updates from the Charter Commission at this website. Oregon Humanities has shared a helpful comic strip by Beka Feathers and Aki Ruiz that makes sense of the process.

Please contact board member Audrey Zunkel-deCoursey to learn more or share your perspectives on the City Charter Commission.

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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.

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.

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New Directory of Elected Officials

We’ve updated our Directory of Elected Officials, with information from the results of the May 2021 election. Read it by clicking here. You’ll find information about how to contact all the elected representatives who serve people in our area. There are websites, emails, or phone numbers for everyone from President Biden to the directors of the Fire Districts.

When you have a concern about government, you can use this contact info to ask questions or express your opinion. The Directory also has information about political parties and voter registration. Finally, if you need more details about area governments, check out the Contact Elected Officials page of this website.

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Let’s pass the For the People Act

please contact Oregon’s senators

THE FIGHT HAS JUST BEGUN. THE SENATE NEEDS TO AGREE TO DEBATE THIS BILL WHEN IT IS INTRODUCED AGAIN. AS VOTERS AND CITIZENS, WE CAN KEEP PUSHING. OUR VOICES COUNT. 

Thank Senator Merkley for sponsoring this important legislation. Ask him to keep pushing for it. Call 202-224-3753, or email from: https://www.merkley.senate.gov/contact

Urge Senator Wyden to speak out and vote for it! Call 202-224-5244, or email from:  https://www.wyden.senate.gov/contact/email-ron

on June 22, Senator Schumer asked for a vote on S1, the For the People Act. Even though Republican senators filibustered it,  supporters can try again. We need to persuade the Republicans that debating and voting on this bill will benefit them too. All Americans will benefit from passage of the For the People Act. It gives all eligible voters the freedom to vote easily, securely and according to their values. It helps all political parties, and also voters who do not belong to any party. Making voting accessible to all eligible voters is not a partisan value; it is an American value.

We want a government that works for all of us—that gives us all a say and puts our needs ahead of special interests. The #ForThePeople Act is a sweeping reform package that addresses everything from voting rights, to campaign finance reform, to redistricting. The House of Representatives has passed this bill.  Demand that the Senate also makes a bold show of support for our democracy and the #ForThePeopleAct. Call 202-224-3121.

Ask your Friends and family To contact their senators too, by calling 202-224-3121 or with the direct number. (See below)

If you have friends and family members in Oregon, please ask them to contact Senators Wyden and Merkley too.

If they live in other states, please ask them to call or email their senators. They can find their senators on this US Senate website: https://www.senate.gov/senators/

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LWV – Getting Ready for Next Year

Setting our course for 2021-22

The “crew” of the LWV Opportunity with Captain Kaye in the center of the front row.

On May 19, the League of Women Voters of Portland held our Annual Membership Business Meeting. Our job was to elect our 2021-22 Board of Directors, approve a budget and prepare for the year ahead. For fun, we envisioned the meeting as a cruise on the LWV Member-Ship of Opportunity.  A few board members – all fully vaccinated – dressed as a crew of sailors. This crew steered the ship from our new office “wheelhouse.” Our passengers participated by Zoom. During the “cruise,” we accomplished a lot and enjoyed the adventure. For more information about the work we did, see this webpage.

A quick review of the past year

At the beginning of the “cruise,” we played a video created by another one of our board members. Although she is not pictured above, Audrey has helped us in many ways this past year. This one-minute video is a very quick overview of highlights of our 2020-21 year.

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Watch Our Video on Portland Police Oversight

This excellent video adds valuable information to our study of Portland Police Oversight. Listen as three expert panelists explain the problems we face and the work being done on these difficult issues. The speakers also use slides and stories to make their points.

      • Attorney Carol Johnson reviews some of the main points in the study.
      • Training Advisory Council Chair Shawn Campbell talks about the progress made so far. He also addresses the remaining issues of inequity, use of deadly force and lack of transparency.
      • Then, Representative Janelle Bynum highlights the work of the Oregon Legislature in 2020 and 2021 to address police accountability.

Finally, all three speakers answer questions from the audience to round out the discussion. Click the arrow below to view the video.

This program is also being rebroadcast on public access TV channels. See the schedule below for dates and times.

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NEW LWVPDX Study of Police Accountability



We are excited and proud to present our new study of the Portland Police Bureau: Oversight and Accountability. For decades, Portlanders have responded to police violence by demanding reforms and better oversight. This study describes both the problems encountered and the progress made. A major section lists the “Opportunities for Change” that will improve safety and fairness for both Portland civilians and the police officers who serve them. As the study’s conclusion states:

Portland’s police and City officials have work ahead to improve police accountability structures and authentic community engagement. The relationship between the public and the police is necessarily a two-way street, demanding mutual participation and investment, to build mutual respect and trust. The League stands ready to continue upholding our part in advancing a public safety environment that is fair, healthy, and just for all.

This study is the product of nine months of work by a 22-member volunteer study committee. Committee members reviewed 55 documents and also interviewed 22 key stakeholders, including police leadership, elected officials, and advocates for change.

Read the study online here.  When this study has been printed, we will send some copies to the county libraries.

Read the Executive Summary of the study here.

An important addition to the study report is the Online Appendix, which you can read here. This not only has links to key source documents, but also brief summaries of each. It offers information that truly enhances the data in the study.

And a Panel Discussion of the Issues!

We also produced a panel discussion about Portland Police Oversight and Accountability. You’ll find the recording above this post. The panelists are:

  • Representative Janelle Bynum, who serves in the Oregon Legislature representing the 51st District, which includes East Portland and cities in east Multnomah County. Rep. Bynum serves as Chair of the House Judiciary Committee and Subcommittee on Equitable Policing. Her legislative proposals in the 2021 session include bills for a database on police use of force, prompt medical assessment for arrested persons, and limits on the use of arbitration to reverse police agency findings of police misconduct.
  • Shawn Campbell, Chair of the Training Advisory Council (TAC) for the Portland Police Bureau. The TAC is a group of civilians who advise the PPB Training Division and Chief of Police. The TAC has outlined how changes in accountability, officer wellness, public safety specialization, procedural justice, and restorative justice could improve public safety.
  • Carol Johnson, JD, MA, an attorney who has spent her career working on civil rights. In 2019, she was appointed to Portland Police Citizen’s Review Committee, which advises the Bureau’s Independent Police Review (IPR). Johnson worked with the Portland League and The Links, Inc. on our newly published study, Portland Police Bureau: Oversight and Accountability.

MetroEast Community Media records our panel discussions and our candidate interviews and forums.

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Watch the Video on Climate Action!

This video explains what’s being done now in Oregon to address our climate crisis. An expert panel discusses ways to reduce carbon emissions, while also providing jobs and improving the environment. The speakers represent the Portland Clean Energy Fund, Verde, Oregon Business for Climate, and the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. Listen as they discuss their priorities and projects.  Click the arrow below.

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Climate Action! Here and Now

Our March 2021 Panel Discussion

What can we do here and now to reduce the threat of climate change? In March, the Portland LWV recorded an online panel discussion with local and state experts. Our speakers work for organizations that are addressing the climate emergency and environmental justice in Oregon. The recording is now available for viewing from the lwvpdx.org website.

The panel includes the following speakers.
  • Cady Lister is the Deputy Director of the Portland Clean Energy Fund. Ms. Lister has nearly 20 years of experience in advocating for renewable energy and community engagement. She updates us on the Portland Clean Energy Community Benefits Fund. In addition, she discusses the fund’s connection to environmental justice and to Portland’s Climate Action Plan.
  • Oriana Magnera is the Energy and Climate Policy Coordinator for Verde. She leads their work on energy and climate policy. Her focus is on community-led participation and program development. Ms. Magnera also is a member of the Oregon Global Warming Commission and the Portland Planning and Sustainability Commission. She discusses three current legislative bills on Affordable Energy, Healthy Homes, and 100% Clean Electricity. In addition, she talks about the transition to zero-emission transportation, as well as how to design programs that improve equity of access for vulnerable communities.
  • Tim Miller, Director of Oregon Business for Climate, discusses the important role of business in addressing climate change. He serves on the boards of multiple climate policy organizations and has provided strategic consulting to over 30 clean-tech companies, non-profits, and agencies. He also has launched his own clean-tech start-up in the transportation sector.
  • Richard Whitman is the Director of the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality. He discusses what DEQ is doing to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. He also explains DEQ’s involvement in legislative bills to combat climate change and the proposed move of the Environmental Justice Task Force into DEQ.

Robin Tokmakian moderates the program. A League member, Robin has represented the LWVUS since 2017 as part of the Observer Corps to the United Nations, with an emphasis on climate issues. She also serves as LWV Oregon’s representative to the NW Energy Coalition.

Making an energy transition

In the coming years, we must change the ways we produce and use energy. The League of Women Voters supports climate goals and policies that are consistent with the best available science and that will ensure a stable climate system for future generations.  Our country and the Northwest are already experiencing extreme weather, drought, ocean warming and acidification, king tides and forest fires. We cannot wait to start making the changes needed to address this climate emergency.  

Viewing this program

MetroEast Community Media recorded this program.  Look for the recording on this LWVPDX website.  

Below is  the schedule for viewing the program on Portland area public access television channels.

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101 Years, Making Democracy Work

February 14th is a momentous day for the League – especially in Oregon. The League of Women Voters was founded on February 14, 1920. Oregon became a state 162 years ago on February 14, 1859. (And of course it’s Valentine’s Day.)

In 2020, we celebrated our Centennial with memorabilia, a slide show and a video highlighting past and present achievements. Then we had a panel discussion, which not only reviewed the past, but also pointed to our future. And ended with a toast to our second century!

Our 101st year has been a blockbuster, with more than 101 important achievements!

Voter Service

-Since our Centennial, our voter service has included:
  • Producing neutral nonpartisan voter information for the Primary, Special and  General Elections
  • Distributing 10,600 printed copies of English and Spanish voters’ guides for the Primary and General Elections  (in spite of the pandemic)
  • Producing a total of 83 candidate-interview videos for our Video Voters’ Guides in the Primary and General Elections. These videos had more than 17,000 views.
  • Producing a total of nine videos of voter forums (five for candidates; four for measures). These had 3,721 views.
  • Providing voter registration information in person (when possible) and online
  • Reaching at least 59,873 Portland area voters with Vote411.org
  • Reaching about 43,000 voters with the voting resources on our website
  • Presenting 18 online Speakers’ Bureau presentations to 502 voters
  • Updating our Directory of Elected Officials for Multnomah County

Advocacy

-Our advocacy work in this past year has included:
  • Five letters to the Portland City Council and one to US District Judge Simon (Click here to read these and other advocacy statements.)
  • An In Our Opinion column and a Letter to the Editor in The Oregonian
  • Support for six local ballot measures, including two Voters’ Pamphlet statements, based on our research and advocacy positions
  • Helping gather signatures for the redistricting (“People not Politicians”) ballot initiative
  • Action Committee presentations on earthquake risks, industrial land, economic opportunities planning, wildfire management, and police reform.

Civic Education

-In addition, we produced four free recorded informational programs which have had more than 700 combined views:

And More!

-To publicize all the information we offered, we used our social media (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram), sent out hundreds of press releases, and paid for ads on three radio stations and in four online and print newspapers.
-Plus, our 2020-21 study of Police Accountability is almost finished! And we have given copies of our recent study and position on Portland’s City Government to members of the Charter Review Commission.

Thanks to our volunteers and our donors for their gifts of time and money, which made these achievements possible.

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Watch the video: From Houseless to Housing

We are living at a time when many people cannot afford decent housing. But there are creative solutions to the problems these people face.

The three speakers for our “From Houseless to Housing” panel discussion were:

Listen as they explain how their organizations help people overcome the obstacles that made them homeless. The work being done is amazing in its scope.  And the outcomes are inspiring. With housing and supportive services, people can turn their lives around.

Click the arrow below to watch the recording.

You can read more about the speakers here.

(NOTE: Dr. Solotaroff had to cancel unexpectedly just before the program.)

This video also will be cablecast on public access channels. See the schedule below.

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FEBRUARY: From Houseless to Housing

The Pines, affordable housing in SE Portland -Photo by Human Solutions

Our February Civic Education event features speakers on how to address homelessness in the Portland area. Starting on February 12, you can view the recorded  panel discussion, From Houseless to Housing and Services, from our YouTube Channel. Or click here to view the recording of this compelling panel discussion.

About the invited panelists :
  • Marc Jolin, Executive Director of the Multnomah County Joint Office of Homeless Services. He leads an initiative, “A Home for Everyone,” which involves officials from Multnomah County, the City of Portland, the City of Gresham, business leaders, social services and other service groups that collaborate on finding new resources and strategies to end homelessness.
  • Andy Miller, Executive Director of Human Solutions, which builds, operates and supports families in permanent affordable housing. Before he joined Human Solutions in 2015, Miller was the Chief Operating Officer at Volunteers of America Oregon. Previously, he spent 13 years with the Portland Housing Bureau.
  • Jeff D. Riddle, Administrative Support Manager at Transition Projects.Transition Projects manages shelters and offers programs and resources to individuals through services including case workers, healthcare, mentorship, and housing. Jeff has served as a mentor, street outreach engagement specialist, residential advocate, client service specialist, case manager, shelter manager, and income development program manager. In 2018, he received the Beverly “Ma” Curtis Award, given to a formerly homeless person who has made a significant contribution to ending homelessness.
  • Rachel Solotaroff, MD, CEO and President of Central City Concern. Dr. Solotaroff, has worked with Central City Concern (CCC) since 2006. She became CCC’s Chief Medical Officer in 2014. During her time there, she has overseen alcohol and drug treatment, primary care and mental health care. CCC provides services to help people find housing and achieve self-sufficiency.

(Dr. Solotaroff was unable to participate, because of a last-minute unexpected complication. We hope to include her in a future event.)

Doreen Binder, League member and former Executive Director of Transition Projects, will moderate the program. For over 50 years, Transition Projects has helped people transition from homelessness and living on the streets to housing in Portland. It manages shelters and offers programs and resources to individuals through access to services including case workers, healthcare, mentorship and housing.

This panel discussion will focus on what is being done, as well as what is still needed, to serve homeless individuals and families.

MetroEast logoMetroEast Community Media will record the program for streaming from this website and for later broadcast on Comcast and Frontier public access cable channels.  Funding for the recording was provided by the Carol & Velma Saling Foundation.

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Participation, not violence

Portrait of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., 1964. Nobel Foundation, via Wikimedia Commons

“Nonviolence is a powerful and just weapon, which cuts without wounding and ennobles the man who wields it. It is a sword that heals.”   Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

As we honor the 92nd anniversary of the birth of civil rights hero, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., we are reminded of his policy of nonviolent protest. The League’s mission is to promote public participation in government—nonviolently.

We know that sometimes the changes we seek require constant advocacy over time and even may take years to accomplish. However, we also know that nonviolent advocacy is more effective and long-lasting. League members talk with the elected officials who serve in our local, state and national governments. We testify at public hearings. We sometimes participate in peaceful demonstrations. And we write letters, social media posts, opinion articles and press releases to express our views.

The League always bases its advocacy on in-depth studies of the issues—on the facts, the evidence and member agreement on each study’s findings. We also make sure our advocacy conforms to our Principles. Violence and destructive acts often turn public opinion against the stated goals of protesters. But carefully researched persuasion can gradually achieve better government policies and a more inclusive, just and equitable society.

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From our LWVPDX President

Seal of the US Congress

The year 2020 presented a remarkable quantity of huge challenges. Most recently, they included President Trump’s refusal to accept the verified results of the November election. His words and actions culminated in the January 6, 2021 assault on the U.S. Capitol and demonstrations at the Oregon Capitol, too.

The League of Women Voters is a nonpartisan political organization. We believe in Empowering Voters and Defending Democracy. In supporting free and fair elections with information, we empower voters. In all of our work at the local, state and national levels, we defend democracy.

Our national leadership wrote: “The League condemns the attack for what it was: domestic terrorism” and issued the statement posted below on this website.

Despite the violent and frightening interruption to Congress’s mandated task of certifying the electors’ votes for president and vice president, our elected representatives returned to their constitutional duty, completing their task in the middle of the night. The rule of law prevailed. We thank them.

There will be many opinions about the consequences of those events, and many possible responses. We may feel fear, anger and deep concern for the future of our democracy. These worries, while very jarring, can also cause us to recognize the value of our democratic institutions and work even more diligently to protect them. The League has done this work for the last 100 years. We will persist in our mission, standing resolutely together with all who treasure democracy.

League of Women Voters of Portland President Debbie Kaye

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Election Debrief – Now What?

The LWV of Portland has debriefed the experts about this election’s meaning and impact. What do the results mean – locally, statewide and nationally?

photo credit -Multnomah County Elections

The League of Women Voters of Portland asked three experienced political analysts to discuss the 2020 election. Who voted?  What influenced the outcomes? What are the implications for our community and democracy. You can watch their recorded discussion on this website now.

View the recording of this program by clicking below:

The panelists are:

Barbara Dudley  – Senior fellow at Portland State University’s Center for Public Service. Barbara appears regularly on OPB’s Think Out Loud Friday News Roundtable. She is also a senior policy adviser for the Oregon Working Families Party. She formerly served as president/executive director, National Lawyers Guild; executive director, Greenpeace USA; and national AFL-CIO Assistant Director for Strategic Campaigns.

John Horvick – Director for Client Relations and Political Research at DHM Research, a nonpartisan and independent public opinion research firm. He regularly speaks on issues of community, policy, and governance to public officials and governing bodies and is a political analyst for OPB and Fox 12 News.

Priscilla Southwell – University of Oregon professor with expertise in U.S., European, and Oregon politics, elections, voting by mail, and political behavior. Previously, she headed the U of O Department of Political Science and served as the university’s Associate Dean of Social Sciences.

Moderator: James Ofsink. James  currently leads the LWVPDX Criminal Justice Interest Group and is a member of the Police Accountability Study Group. He is also serving a four-year term as a Tax Supervising and Conservation Commissioner, appointed by the governor.

MetroEast Community Media recorded the program for streaming from this website and for later broadcast on public access cable channels. 

Funding for the recording was provided by the Carol & Velma Saling Foundation.

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“Future of Healthcare” Video

Our Panel Discussion, recorded on September 15, features an outstanding panel of physicians. These health care experts share their views of how health care is changing because of the COVID-19 pandemic and how it needs to change. Click below to watch this very timely and important discussion.

You can read more about the speakers in our previous post: https://lwvpdx.org/the-future-of-healthcare/

This program was recorded by MetroEast Community Media. It is shown from time to time on Comcast cable channels 21, 29, 321, 329 and Frontier cable channels 37, 32. The Carol & Velma Saling Foundation provided funding for the recording.