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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.”

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.)
Thanks for taking action!
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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 will discuss 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.

See the schedule below for replays of this recording on public access TV.

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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.

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.

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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 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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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.