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 NEWLY UPDATED directory of Elected Officials is an easy Guide

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 January 2020, 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:

Change Portland’s Government!

We have a new Position!

The Board of Directors of the Portland League has approved a new – and dramatically different – advocacy position on Portland’s City Government.

The position is the result of a thorough two-year study of Portland’s government, which led to the report shown at the left. After publishing this report, the study committee presented a panel discussion. Then, groups of League members discussed the findings and agreed upon key changes needed for Portland’s government.

The League’s new City Government position calls for major improvements in the government’s structure and also in the way voters elect the City Councilors. Here are some of our recommendations, which we will use during the City Charter Review process in 2021:

  • improve citizen representation by increasing the number of commissioners
  • institute a city manager
  • establish the City Council as a legislative or policy-setting body
  • elect some or all city councilors by district

You can read the entire new League position by clicking here.

During their two-year study, the study committee read more than 30 source documents. They also interviewed 15 government experts and city officials. Then they wrote their report, The City That Works: Preparing Portland for the Future. You can read the this report here. You may view the video of the panel discussion of Portland’s government here.

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.