Portland LWV Advocates for Public Involvement in Police Oversight

On August 24, LWVPDX Action Chair Debbie Aiona testified before the Portland City Council on the proposed Portland Committee on Community-Engaged Policing (PCCEP). She expressed appreciation for the steps being taken to involve the public in the selection of PCCEP members, while also strongly recommending that all PCCEP meetings be open to the public. Read all of her testimony here.

How to Contact Elected Officials

Our directory of Elected Officials is an easy Guide

First page of the 6-page LWVPDX Directory of Election Officials

Do you have ideas or questions about voting or how your government is working for you? Here is a resource you can use. Just updated in November 2019, the League’s Directory of Elected Officials has information and ways to contact your government representatives. Everyone who represents you is included – from the President and US Congress, to City Councils, School Boards and Special District directors. If you contact them, they do pay attention! To download a copy, click here.

For more information, check these website pages:

Thanks to City Council

When our government does something well, we thank them!

Promoting public involvement in government is part of our mission! In July, the League asked the Portland City Council get input from the public when they set priorities for the Portland Police Association Contract. The contract is being renewed in 2020. The Council responded by holding two community forums to learn about the public’s concerns. We are pleased and grateful that they have begun a process to inform and involve the public.

So we sent a follow-up letter thanking them. We also urged them to continue to engage the public. You can read our July letter here and our November letter of appreciation here.

We have also made some suggestions for improvements in the Portland Police Bureau’s new Community Engagement Plan. You can read our post about that here.

Thorough Public Process – Key to Code Change

Part of the League’s letter

On November 12, 2019, the League submitted comments to the City Council about the process for changing  City Code Chapter 3.96. This part of the City Code governs the way the Office of Community and Civic Life engages with people in Portland.  Action Chair Debbie Aiona also testified  at the Council’s November 14 hearing.

The City Council resolution calls for a multi-bureau work group to carry out the next phase of this process. The League urges opening the work group’s meetings to the public for observation. We also  recommend following up the work group’s proposals with a thorough public process that includes a broad group of Portlanders.

You can read our testimony here.

Should we change Portland’s Government?

During November and December 2019, League members are considering whether and how Portland’s city government should change.  Their work is the final step in a process that began more than two years ago. In May 2017, members voted to restudy of our government.  A summary of the results of the two-year study – The City That Works: Preparing Portland for the Future – was published in September. Then the study committee sent copies to all Portland LWV members. The study’s cover is shown in the photo above. You can read the online version of the study by clicking here.

After reading the study, members are gathering in groups to discuss its findings. In preparation for the discussions, members also attended or viewed the recording of a panel discussion. The panel explored the Portland government’s strengths and weaknesses. You can see the recording of that panel discussion here. The panelists were Mike Gleason, who served for 18 years as Eugene’s city manager; Chris Tobkin, who worked for Bud Clark during his two terms as Portland Mayor; Julia DeGraw, who is part of Portland Forward and was a candidate for Portland City Council; and Betsy Pratt, who was the chair of the study committee.

We expect that the members’ discussions will lead to a general agreement or consensus on how to make Portland’s government more effective. That member agreement will become the basis for a new LWVPDX advocacy position.

New Study of Portland’s Government!

Just Released: Restudy of City government

In September 2019, the League of Women Voters of Portland  completed our city government study, The City that Works: Preparing Portland for the Future.”

Portland League members voted to conduct this two-year restudy of city government in May 2017. Members realized that Portland’s voters needed more up-to-date and complete information to decide on possible changes to the City Charter.

The restudy looks closely at many parts of our current government. It examines strengths and weaknesses of the government’s structure and then explores different options for changing it. The goal is to provide useful ideas for how to improve the government so it serves the people of Portland as well as possible.

Read the study

You can read full text of the study report here.

View the panel Discussion

The video of a panel discussion about Portland’s government is now available here.

The panel included these speakers:

  • Mike Gleason, speaking on Why Do Cities Matter? What Does It Mean to Be a Successful City? Gleason served for 18 years as Eugene’s city manager.
  • Chris Tobkin, addressing the strengths of Portland’s commission form of government. Tobkin worked for Bud Clark during his two terms as Portland Mayor.
  • Julia DeGraw, looking at the weaknesses of the commission form, why it needs to change, and what should be changed.  DeGraw is an  activist and community organizer.
  • Betsy Pratt concluded the panel presentation with additional information on Portland’s government. Pratt was the chair of the League of Women Voters of Portland city government study committee.

The Multnomah Bar Foundation and the Carol & Velma Saling Foundation donated funding for the recording.