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.”
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:
- Read some background about the Commission’s two subcommittees on Form of Government and City Council Elections.
- Refresh your memory of the LWVPDX position on local government.
- 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!
Announcing a new LWV of Oregon Study and LWV of Portland Video on Pesticides
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.
LWVPDX Board adopts new position on Portland Police Bureau Oversight
A Call for Change to The Culture of The Portland Police Bureau
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.
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.
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.