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PDX Update

GOVERNMENT

Reform push brewing

Battle lines are being drawn over the city charter reform measures that will appear on the May ballot.

After weeks of uncertainty, veteran political consultant Patricia McCaig has agreed to help the effort to pass the measures. She previously had coordinated a yet-to-be released public opinion poll on the measure on a volunteer basis.

The leadership of the campaign and its relationship with McCaig was still being finalized at press time.

The opponents continued to outorganize the supporters, however. In addition to the grass-roots campaign being coordinated by former Mayor Bud Clark and transportation activist Chris Smith, a new committee is being formed by the two opponents on the City Council, Commissioners Randy Leonard and Erik Sten.

Longtime political consultant Mark Wiener has agreed to help them with strategic advice and communications services. Wiener traditionally receives a percentage of all political ads he places.

Mayor Tom Potter has made charter reform one of his priorities. The most controversial measure would increase the power of the mayor's office by placing all city agencies under a chief administrative officer hired by the mayor and confirmed by the council.

Other measures would give the council control over the budget of the semi-independent Portland Development Commission and reform the civil service system.

EDUCATION

Francesconi confirmed

Former city Commissioner Jim Francesconi was confirmed to serve on the Oregon State Board of Higher Education by the Senate on Wednesday.

State Sen. Vicki Walker, D-Lane County, was the only vote against Francesconi, who recently was made a partner of the Haglund Kelley Horngren Jones and Wilder law firm. He replaces former AFL-CIO President Tim Nesbitt, who resigned from the board to become Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski's chief of staff.

During his confirmation hearing, Francesconi said he supports greater cooperation between the state colleges, universities and community colleges.

He opposed the bill by state Rep. Mitch Greenlick, D-Portland, to merge Portland State University and Oregon Health and Science University, however.