It's a tad unfortunate that Willamette Week chose to draw attention to this blog last week, under the title "When candidates blog". Readers who have come here frequently since December 2006 recognize I hardly ever have time to post here these days, so new visitors may be unimpressed. I made a commitment several months ago that I will continue to provide at least a cursory Next Up at City Council review of the upcoming Portland City Council meeting Agenda each week, however, so here is this week's. New readers, type "Next Up at City Council" in the handy dandy search feature in the left sidebar, to get a better sense of the service provided here before my daily activity meter went off the scale.
There are many important items on the Agenda this coming week, so please check the link yourselves. Among the most notable:
347 TIME CERTAIN: 10:45 AM - Report on the Performance Review of the Independent Police Review Division (Report introduced by Mayor Potter; Previous Agenda 289)
which curiously is not paired with this:
CONSENT AGENDA - NO DISCUSSION
Mayor Tom Potter
*349 Create Office of Human Relations and Human Rights Commission; assign Racial Profiling Committee and implementation of the Immigrant and Refugee Task Force recommendations to Office of Human Relations (Ordinance; add Code Chapters 3.128 and 3.129)
It seems to me these items are related, and that public discussion of the purpose and future functions of the Office of Human Relations and Human Rights Commission might be helpful. Anyone present may pull an item from Consent and ask for discussion and public testimony. You have to be there right at the start of the meeting, and it does take guts to yell out the request. I contact the office of the sponsor to tell them I intend to do so - sometimes the Council member then pulls it.
Here's good news on Consent: more security on TriMet, and someone else is paying for it.
*355 Amend an Intergovernmental Agreement with TriMet and the City of Tigard for Tigard to provide an additional officer to the TriMet Transit Police and for TriMet to compensate Tigard for those services
This first item on the Regular Agenda is also encouraging to see:
370 Affirm the City Council's intent to manage stormwater as a resource through the use of green infrastructure techniques using onsite surface vegetated facilities (Resolution introduced by Mayor Potter and Commissioners Adams, Leonard and Sten)
Seventeen years ago, the City bureau referenced as "BES" was pretty much the Bureau of Engineering and Sewage. Thanks to the leadership of bureau Director Dean Marriott, contributions of excellent staff, and the support and policy direction of multiple City Commissioners starting with Mike Lindberg in the early 1990s, it is now becoming truly the Bureau of Environmental Services. And it turns out it's less expensive to manage stormater in green vegetated surface installations instead of pipes, as well as better for the environment.
This item should receive considerable discussion.... and probably won't:
*371 Authorize downtown waterfront urban renewal and redevelopment bonds (Ordinance)
Translation: Borrow more money for an Urban Renewal Area that began in 1974 and has already been extended twice. The bonds being authorized on Wednesday are under the existing program, squeezing in the maximum allowed debt by the deadline of April 24, 2008. Downtown Waterfront is an "Option 3" Urban Renewal Area, which means that all Portland taxpayers are required to contribute to paying off this debt, directly -- see the line item for Urban Renewal on your November property tax statement. Here are some important parts of the ordinance:
3. In City Ordinance No. 172356 the City approved a maximum indebtedness limit for the Area of $165,000,000.
4. The City has executed a bond declaration (the “First Lien Bond Declaration”) that governs the terms under which the City may issue obligations that are secured by a first lien on the Tax Increment Revenues of the Area, and has issued urban renewal and redevelopment bonds pursuant to the First Lien Bond Declaration.
7. The City may be able to achieve a favorable reorganization of its permanent debt structure by refunding all or a portion of the outstanding bonds issued to finance urban renewal projects in the Area (the “Outstanding DTWF Bonds”).
8. The City adopts this Ordinance to authorize the issuance of urban renewal and redevelopment bonds for the Area to finance projects in the Area, to refinance outstanding interim financings for urban renewal projects in the Area, to refund all or a portion of the Outstanding DTWF Bonds, to fund bond reserves and to pay related costs.
I believe it would be helpful if Portlanders were provided accurate, easy-to-understand information about urban renewal funding, to allow meaningful involvement in deciding how much debt the City should take on.
This is an "Emergency Ordinance" as indicated by the asterisk... as if nobody saw the need to put this on the Agenda last month.
OK, moving on. The Council has chosen not to have a Wednesday evening session, even though meeting at 6 p.m. is allowed on the the third Wednesday only. This despite the fact that there are several items scheduled for Thursday afternoon, all of which working Portlanders are likely concerned about. Why are the following scheduled for Thursday afternoon instead of Wednesday evening?