Action Committee

Action Committee meetings

All League members are welcome to attend Action Committee meetings. Contact Action Chair Debbie Aiona with questions:

Fall 2020-Spring 2021 Action Committee meetings via Zoom

In March 2021, the Action Committee heard from speakers from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA): 

    • Caleb Shaffer, EPA Region 10 Portland Harbor Team Lead
    • Richard Francis, EPA Region 10 Portland Harbor Remedial Project Manager
    • Laura Knudsen, EPA Region 10 Community Involvement Coordinator

They spoke about progress with the Portland Harbor Superfund Cleanup. The project recently reached a turning point when EPA announced that the contaminated sites throughout the 10-mile-long project area are now in the remedial design stage. During this part of the process, new sediment and water samples will be taken to guide the final remedial design. 

In February 2021, Daniel Lewkow, deputy director of Portland’s Open and Accountable Elections, explained how the program works. Portland’s Open and Accountable Elections program, a publicly funded campaign finance matching system, was enacted in 2016 by city council and is available to candidates running for city office. It is modeled on similar programs operating throughout the country. In order to participate, candidates must meet specific requirements, such as raising qualifying contributions, limiting the size of contributions they accept, and participating in a training program. Data from the 2020 Portland elections show donors from a wider range of income, ethnicity, and location are able to participate in the process of political campaigns through their contributions. The program reduces reliance on big money and brings in new voices. 

In January 2021, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jared Hager spoke to the Action Committee about the history of the U.S. Department of Justice Settlement Agreement with the City of Portland. In 2014, the city and DOJ finalized a 180-paragraph Settlement Agreement requiring the city to make a number of improvements to PPB and other related functions, including the city’s police oversight system. The agreement primarily covers use of force, training, crisis intervention, employee information systems, officer accountability, and community engagement. The DOJ and a Compliance Officer/Community Liaison (COCL) provide regular progress assessments and report annually to U.S. District Judge Michael Simon. 

In November 2020, the Action Committee heard about wildfire management from Dr. John Bailey, a Professor of Silviculture and Fire Management in the College of Forestry at Oregon State University. Dr. Bailey previously worked with the Environmental Protection Agency in Corvallis and at Northern Arizona University. His expertise includes forest stressors, ponderosa pine silviculture, fuels/fire management, ecological restoration, sustainable forestry in drier fire-prone forest types, and multi-story management in mixed forest types. He showed how wildfire suppression, combined with climate change, has created conditions for wildfires that are hotter, more difficult to manage and spread more quickly. He also discussed ways to reduce the threat of wildfires in the future.

In October 2020, Steve Kountz, senior economic planner for the Portland’s Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, continued the discussion of Portland’s Economic Opportunities Analysis (OEA). He explained to the Action Committee  that Portland’s challenge is identifying land sufficient for industrial uses, particularly marine industrial. This has been made more difficult because of the upzoning of industrial lands into residential uses, such as at the South Waterfront and Terminal 1, or commercial uses like Cascade Station mall and the possible siting of a baseball stadium at Port of Portland’s Terminal 2. The upcoming OEA process will include careful analysis of employment types, wages, racial income disparities, neighborhood affordability and occupational segregation, among other factors. At key points during the analysis phase, the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability will host workshops at which staff will share the information and participants can provide feedback.

In September 2020, Bob Salinger, the Audubon Society Conservation Director, spoke to Action Committee members about Portland’s upcoming Economic Opportunities Analysis (OEA). Background for this discussion is that in 1973, Gov. Tom McCall signed into law Senate Bill 100, Oregon’s statewide land use planning program. It established 19 goals that have guided the planning efforts of local jurisdictions over the last 45+ years. Goals 9 and 10 require adequate buildable land inventories to meet 20-year jobs and housing forecasts.  Salinger pointed out that open space and natural areas are quite often where the city looks for industrial land expansion. 

Winter/Spring 2020 Action Committee meetings
The Action Committee meeting scheduled for March 27, 2020 was cancelled due to the COVID-19 health crisis. 

In February 2020, the Action Committee heard a presentation on Seismic Resiliency and Portland’s Critical Energy Infrastructure Hub, with speakers Trent Nagele, Oregon Seismic Safety Policy Advisory Committee member, and Mike Myers, director, Portland Bureau of Emergency Management. The Critical Energy Infrastructure (CEI) Hub is located in NW Portland along the Willamette River. The Hub is home to tanks that contain more than 90% of Oregon’s liquid fuel supply and 100% of the jet fuel for the Portland airport. The vast majority of the fuel tanks were built before modern codes were adopted and sit on soils subject to liquefaction. Scientists estimate there is a 20-40% chance of a major offshore Cascadia Subduction Zone earthquake occurring in the next 50 years. Spillage of the fuels would result in environmental devastation that could extend as far away as the Pacific Ocean.

Sara Wolk, executive director of the Equal Vote Coalition (, spoke at the January 2020 Action Committee meeting.  The coalition is an Oregon-based group working to promote a new approach to voting that is fair, accurate, and nationally viable.  They have identified the STAR (Score Then Automatic Runoff) voting system as their preferred option. The STAR system is a hybrid of Ranked Choice and Score Voting.  The STAR ballot asks voters to score each candidate on the ballot on a scale of 0 – 5 stars.  The two highest scoring candidates are the finalists and the finalist preferred by the majority of voters wins the race. 

Fall 2019 Action Committee meetings

In November 2019, the Action Committee heard from Alejandro Queral, executive director of the Oregon Center for Public Policy. Queral spoke to the committee about the center’s contribution to well-researched information related to issues facing Oregonians. The research is used to make the case to the Legislature for policies affecting working families and those living in poverty. Queral highlighted a recently released fact sheet on income inequality. You can find a wealth of research and analysis on the organization’s website, including information about other issues such as the state budget, education, healthcare, housing, and taxes.

The October Action Committee Meeting was about Civic Engagement in Portland and the 3.96 Code Change Project.  Winta Yohannes, policy adviser to City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, shared information about the efforts and rationale for revising City Code Section 3.96, which currently describes the structure and functions of the city’s Neighborhood Association system. She explained that the Office of Neighborhood Involvement was renamed a few years ago and is now known as the Office of Community and Civic Life.. More information on the project is available at the Office of Community and Civic Life website.

The September Action Committee meeting featured two presentations: one by Friends of the Library representative Kirsten Leonard, who spoke about the services and critical space needs of the Multnomah County Library System, and another by PSU Professor Mary C. King, who is advocating for free universal preschool. A report on their presentations is in our October 2019 eVoter newsletter.

 Winter & Spring 2019 Action Committee meetings

The April Action Committee Meeting was on Friday, April 26, 2019, with Nui Bezaire, Multnomah County Joint Office of Homeless Services, and Melissa Arnold, Home Forward, Community Services program supervisor, speaking on Permanent Supportive Housing.

The March Action Committee meeting was on Friday, March 22, 1:30-3:30. The subject was “Compassionate Change District – Central Eastside Industrial District.” Sandra Comstock, Right 2 Survive and Compassionate Change District representative, was the speaker.

The February Action Committee meeting was on the City of Portland’s Role in the Portland Harbor Superfund Site. The speakers were Cindy Ryals, technical program manager for Portland Harbor Superfund, and Jessica Terlikowski, senior community outreach and information representative for Portland Harbor Superfund. They both work for the Portland Bureau of Environmental Services. The slide presentation that they prepared for this meeting may be viewed by clicking here.

The January Action Committee meeting was on Proposals for Tax Reform in Oregon, with John Tapogna, ECONorthwest, president/partner

Fall 2018 Action Committee meetings

The September Action Committee meeting featured a presentation by staff members from the Portland City Budget Office. Shannon Fairchild, Senior Financial Analyst, and Josh Harwood, Chief Economist, explained the budget process and answered the committee’s questions. A full report about this meeting was in the November issue of the Voter newsletter.

The subject of the October Action Committee meeting was Oregon’s Air Quality. Mary Peveto, president of Neighbors for Clean Air, spoke to committee members. An article about this meeting was in the December issue of the Voter newsletter.

The November 2018 Action Committee meeting was on juvenile justice. A report will be in the January newsletter. For more information about the Action Committee, contact Debbie Aiona at

Winter and Spring 2018 Action Committee meetings

The January Action Committee meeting was a presentation and discussion about Prosper Portland, formerly the  Portland Development Commission – Portland’s Economic Development agency. A report on this meeting was in our March newsletter.

The February Action Committee meeting  featured a discussion about Metro’s Equitable Housing Initiative, with Metro Councilor Sam Chase. For more background information on the topic, refer to the fact sheet here. There was a report on this meeting in our April newsletter.

The March Action Committee meeting was a discussion about Criminal Justice Reform with Kate Gonsalves, political director, Oregon Justice Resource Center. There was a report in our May newsletter.

The April Action Committee meeting featured a discussion about Protecting and Improving Portland’s Water Quality and Environment, with speakers from Portland’s Bureau of Environmental Services:

  • Sallie Edmunds, Central City, River and Environmental Planning Manager
  • Jeff Caudill, South Reach Project Manager
  • Mindy Brooks Environmental-zone Map Correction Project Manager