Charter reviewers get the cold shoulder
Portland's reputed love of process and citizen input took a hit last month. For the better part of a year, the Charter Review Commission appointed by Mayor Tom Potter has spent countless hours debating and researching how Portland's form of government might be improved.
On June 22, commission members went to the City Council and asked for feedback on their tentative recommendation: to switch the Rose City to a strong mayor-city manager form of government, as is common in other cities.
In response, city Commissioners Randy Leonard and Erik Sten essentially dismissed the citizens' conclusions. Instead, they voiced support for Portland's current form of government, which gives members of the City Council broader powers than in other cities.
At the next Charter Review Commission meeting, last Thursday, members took a half-hour break from government-speak to talk about how disappointed and insulted they felt.
Leonard wants fresh squint of PDC deal
The strained relations between the Portland Development Commission and at least some members of the City Council will resurface Wednesday.
That's when Commissioner Randy Leonard will float a resolution calling for an outside audit of a PDC-brokered deal for redevelopment of the block at Southeast Oak Street and Second Avenue. Leonard says he has some questions as to why the PDC originally said the block was worth $850,000, bought it for $1.2 million, then declared it was worth negative $2.7 million - before transferring it for free to the Trammell Crow development company for an upscale condo tower.
Although PDC officials and commissioners have attempted to answer his questions, Leonard says he doesn't quite understand the explanations; he would like fresh eyes to go over the transactions. Leonard says he has not lobbied the other council members on the request but wants to have a full and open discussion about it.
He also says he is discussing the quasi-independent status of the PDC with some of the other commissioners, noting the council has until early August to place a measure on the November ballot that would take away PDC's independence, making it a conventional city agency under full council control.
Spend first, ask questions later
The city of Portland has paid at least $110,000 to a Los Angeles-based consultant, called the Police Assessment Resource Center, to prepare two reports on investigating officer-involved shootings. Last Thursday and Friday, the city paid $275 each for four police supervisors to attend a seminar in Portland given by a group, the Minnesota-based Force Science Research Center, that thinks PARC is full of hooey.
This seeming contradiction was first noticed by Dan Handelman of Copwatch, leading to a story in The Oregonian on Friday. While it might seem weird that the city is paying two consultants to give conflicting advice to the cop shop, Sources Say thinks the bigger story may be that the person who heads the Minnesota group, William Lewinski, is controversial in law enforcement circles. In September 2001, a prosecutor in Columbus, Ohio, blamed Lewinski for the acquittal of a cop who had killed an unarmed teenager, calling his testimony 'radical views.'