The League strongly supports the City Charter reforms that voters passed in November 2022. Now we are working hard to make sure the reforms are being carried out appropriately and well. We firmly believe these reforms will make Portland’s government and elections better.
Our new page on City Charter Reform links to resources explaining ranked choice voting and the decisions being made now about our 2025 city government. We’ll be adding more resources as these decisions are finalized. Stay tuned!
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.
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/
Speaking out again for better community oversight of police
The Portland League has sent testimony to the City Council, supporting Commissioner Hardesty’s proposed charter amendment on police oversight. The City Council will discuss this proposal on Wednesday, July 29, at 3:30.
Although we recognize that it will take more than a charter change, this proposal has the potential to bring us much closer to the type of system envisioned by the majority of Mayor Katz’s workgroup in 2000. That workgroup called for an independent civilian agency guided by a community board with the power to investigate complaints of police misconduct, compel officer testimony, and make policy recommendations to the police bureau and city council.
In addition, the League’s testimony recommends building on the successful parts of our current oversight system. We also believe that improving the current system requires input from the community.