Promoting Public Involvement

Promoting public involvement is central to the Portland League’s mission. We believe our democracy works best when the public is involved in decision making.

Letter to City Council

On July 16, we advocated for more public involvement in the process of changing city code. (Click here to see our earlier post.)

Now, we are urging our City Council to involve the public when the City negotiates the next Portland Police Association (PPA) contract. 

 

Our July 30 letter says in part:

…we recommend a robust public engagement process leading into the 2020 negotiations. …we urge you to ensure that the upcoming process involves the community so that their input will have an impact on the outcome.

Portland is a stronger and more vibrant place when its people can bring their skills, knowledge, and lived experiences to the policymaking process.

You can read the entire letter here.

A Related event

The Albina Ministerial Alliance Coalition for Justice and Police Reform is sponsoring a forum about the contract.  Here are details.

  • Community forum on the Portland Police Association Contract
  • Monday, August 26 from 6-7:30 PM
  • Maranatha Church, 4222 NE 12th at Skidmore.
  • A 20-minute presentation on background; then community input.

Preventing More Gun Deaths

Stag-15 assault rifle used in the 2012 Clackamas Town Center mass shooting: shown by Paul Kemp, Gun Owners for Responsible Ownership, for LWV of Portland event

We are saddened by the recent mass shootings in El Paso,TX and in the “Oregon District” of Dayton, OH. There have now been 251 mass shootings in the US this year! But mass shootings are only part of the problem. We also have too many gun suicides and accidents. Preventing gun deaths is a priority for the League.

Gun Safety Advocacy

The LWV of Oregon has been advocating for better gun safety for many years. Responsible gun owners DO support practical measures to prevent gun deaths. LWVOR advocated for the passage of Oregon’s current laws to keep guns out of the hands of people who are identified as a danger to themselves and others. We also support secure gun storage and requirements to report stolen guns. The following appalling statistics show how urgent this issue has become in the US.

Some sobering Statistics

According to the National Center for Health Statistics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2017, 486 people in the United States died of unintentional gun injuries. 23,854 people committed suicide with a gun and 14,542 people were intentionally killed by gun injuries. About 10 percent of these deaths were children. Among U.S. adolescents and young adults 10-24 years old, gun homicides are the third leading cause of death; gun suicides are the second. In 2010, 15,576 children were treated for gun injuries in U.S. emergency departments, and 1,970 of them died. The medical cost of treating gun injuries in children alone was over $330 million in 2010

Studies have found that adolescents’ risk for suicide increases as their access to firearms increases. Suicide attempts in children are more likely to be successful when they have access to lethal weapons: 90 percent of suicide attempts with guns are successful, compared to less than 5 percent of suicide attempts using less lethal means, like medications or sharp objects. The risk for unintentional injury and suicide in children is reduced by 73 percent when guns are kept locked, and by 70 percent when they are kept unloaded.

Stolen guns represent a significant factor contributing to gun violence. More than 237,000 guns nationwide were reported stolen to the National Crime Information Center in 2016, a database maintained by the FBI. That represents a 68 percent increase in stolen weapons reported to the FBI since 2005. In addition, the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives has estimated that 500,000 guns are stolen annually from residences, many of which are never reported. A 2010 study by Mayors Against Illegal Guns found that, per capita, states without lost or stolen reporting laws are the source of more than 2.5 times as many crime guns recovered in other states as states with a lost or stolen reporting requirement.*

2019 Gun Safety Bills

In the recently completed 2019 Oregon legislative session, House Bill 2013 passed and is now law. It closed loopholes in the law to prevent people from possessing guns, if they are likely to harm themselves or others. The LWVOR also supported  Senate Bill 978, which unfortunately died in committee. It would have required secure methods of storing and locking guns and prompt reporting of stolen guns. Here is the League testimony supporting these bills. HB 2013 Testimony. SB 978 Testimony.

More Information

The League of Women Voters of Portland held a Civic Panel Discussion on Gun Safety in 2017, which is summarized in our Gun Safety Highlights Video here.

*Statistics quoted from the Oregon Legislative Staff’s Background for 2019 Senate Bill 978, a gun safety bill that LWVOR strongly supported.

League Submits Brief to Supreme Court

Support for Limiting MoNey in Politics

The League of Women Voters of Oregon and the League of Women Voters of Portland have submitted a Friend of the Court Brief (Amicus Brief) to the Oregon Supreme Court. We are supporting the right of voters to limit campaign contributions in Multnomah County elections. In 2016, Multnomah County voters passed Ballot Measure 26-184 with 89% yes votes! It was an outstanding victory for reforming money in politics. If enacted, the measure would limit campaign contributions to $500 or less per person for each candidate. It would not allow contributions to candidates from corporations. It also would require that candidates disclose their five largest donors in campaign ads.

The League strongly believes in reducing the influence of money in politics. So we support Multnomah County in arguing that the measure  should take effect. You can read our Brief here: S066445_amicus_brief_lwvor

The Case

The case before the Oregon Supreme Court is about the constitutionality of campaign contribution limits in Oregon.

Opponents of the measure argue that limiting campaign contributions violates the free speech clause in Oregon’s Constitution. However, 45 other states have limits on contributions to candidates and 37 of them have free speech clauses in their constitutions. There is persuasive evidence that large donations give donors more access to lawmakers and more influence over the laws that are passed or defeated. In addition, Oregon is the only state that doesn’t identify the sources of funding for political ads. Our Brief cites these reasons to show that the measure is constitutional.

We understand that the Supreme Court will hear this case on November 1, 2019.

 

Civic Life – How do Neighborhood Associations fit?

The public needs more opportunities to be involved

The League of Women Voters of Portland has sent a letter to Commissioner Eudaly and Director Suk Rhee of the Office of Community and Civic Life. We are asking for more transparency and public involvement in the work of the committee proposing changes to the section of the City Code that governs community involvement and Neighborhood Associations. We believe most Portlanders don’t know about the Code 3.96 Committee’s efforts to change the City Code.  The public should have their say on changes to policies that may affect how the public interacts with our city government and the livability of Portland’s neighborhoods.

You can read the City’s information about the Code Change Committee and its proposal here: https://www.portlandoregon.gov/civic/77951

Our RECOMMENDATIONS

“The League recommends that once the Code 3.96 Committee determines its proposal is ready for public review, it should schedule one or more public forums to address questions and accept comments and suggestions from interested community members.”

Our Questions

“It is hard to tell from the initial code language available on the website what the proposed changes will mean for Neighborhood Associations and other community organizations.”

“How will the public be provided avenues to stay informed and participate in a way that ensures a conduit for public input?”

“We understand the existing contracts district coalitions have with the City may be reconfigured and other entities could be chosen to replace them sometime in the future. If that is the case, will those entities provide services to Neighborhood Associations that are similar to the services provided by the district coalition offices?”

Our Mission: Encourage Public Participation

The League works to inform all people about policies that could affect their lives and to help them have a voice in government decisions.  We believe the Neighborhood Associations have “the potential for serving the public good by providing important opportunities for civic participation and improving neighborhood livability.”  And, “If the current system isn’t working for community members, the League is interested in understanding why and how new systems would be better.”

You can read the whole letter here: LWV Code 3.96 committee 7-19 

The LWV Way: Study First!

Early LWV History

(Excerpts from More Power than We Knew, A History of the League of Women Voters of Oregon: 1920-2012)

“In 1920, when the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution was adopted, Oregon women already had the right to vote…In 1912, Oregon became the ninth state to grant full suffrage to women.”

When the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NASWA) held its 50th anniversary convention in March 1919, “The call to the convention included an invitation to ‘the women voters of the fifteen full suffrage states*…to join their forces in a League of Women Voters, one of whose objects shall be to speed the suffrage campaign in our own and other countries.’”… “(T)he governing council of the new League decided to recommend as its first activity a study of state laws having to do with education and the legal status of women. That recommendation set the pattern the League was to follow all its life—study first, then action.

Today –

 “Study first, then action.” This is the process the League of Women Voters has followed since its beginning. Our activities are based upon thorough, balanced studies of public policy issues.

  • We offer nonpartisan and unbiased information to voters through our voter service activities, such as election forums, debates and carefully researched voting guides.
  • We conduct multiyear studies of governmental, environmental and social issues. Our study committees read relevant research and interview experts and advocates representing many different viewpoints. The committees publish reports about what they have learned. LWV members and the public can read these reports online or in print.
  • When LWV members discuss a study, they may come to an agreement about how to address the issues. Their discussions lead to our advocacy positions

The League of Women Voters of Portland is now finishing a restudy of Portland’s City Government. The League of Women Voters of Oregon recently completed a study of Hard Rock Mining in Oregon. Also, LWVOR members just voted to study Cyber Security and Privacy and Pesticides and other Biocides in Oregon. You can read about all these studies here. Then you can view our advocacy positions, based on previous studies, here.

 

*States granting women the right to vote prior to the 19th Amendment: Wyoming 1890, Colorado 1893, Utah 1896, Idaho 1896, Washington 1910, California 1911, Arizona 1912, Kansas 1912, Oregon 1912, Montana 1914, Nevada 1914, New York 1917, Michigan 1918, Oklahoma 1918, South Dakota 1918

Source: National Constitution Center