Due to that other thing I'm doing taking more than 12 hours every day, I haven't had time to post the Portland City Council Agenda for today. And instead of sitting in Council chambers to observe, as I've done often over the past two months, I am watching the meeting at home, on Cable Channel 30, so I can do laundry at the same time. The upside of these factors is that I can provide coverage of the outcomes, instead of the prospects. I'm typing this while following the broadcast live.
I like the Citizen Communications section of the Wednesday morning Agenda each week. Anyone who wishes, once per month, may contact the Council Clerk (Karla Moore-Love, 503-823-4085) to reserve three minutes to talk on any subject. Today, we heard about some of the 170 Americorps volunteers working in Portland, the Peterson's store downtown, aircraft chemtrails, and laws disproportionately affecting homeless people. The Council members rarely respond to issues raised, at least in public. I would like to see a staff person assigned to talk with each testifier after their spot, to follow up on their issue and tell them whether or not anything is being done about them. I've seen Sam Adams do that in the past, and I heard new Commissioner Nick Fish invited one speaker to visit him in his office, to go over her concerns in more depth. I like that.
There are (or were, since you'll be reading this later) only two items on the Regular Agenda:
Office of Transportation
1077 Dedicate a portion of the Utility License Fee to fund Portland's transportation operations, maintenance and safety needs (Ordinance)
This dedicates increased revenues coming from hikes in Utility rates, to fund some of the $400m+ backlog of transportation maintenance and improvements. It returns to a concept first instituted by Mayor Bud Clark, and gradually eroded during revenue cuts over the 1990s. Mayor-elect Adams referred to the increased revenue as a "windfall", which some would challenge, but the move to assign it to basic services is A Good Thing. Sam discussed whether to sunset the allocation after five years, and with the Office of Management and Finance determined this would not be prudent. Of course, future Councils may change the practice, as happened before. The Portland Business Alliance's representative spoke in favor of the proposal, citing the importance of well-maintained streets to businesses. Transportation advocate Chris Smith supported the allocation, while noting it will take care of a mere fraction of the backlog. I missed the name of the third speaker, also in favor. Richard Beetle, business manager of Laborers Local 483 which represents the workers performing street maintenance, spoke in support. He noted eloquently that his members are doing more with less, providing essential services for Portlanders, and that the transportation system needs these resources and more to be able to upgrade to standards.
Commissioner Adams noted the money equals that which would be generated by a 2.5 cent gas tax. The Council will vote on the ordinance next week.
Parks and Recreation
1078 Authorize a Shared Use/Management Agreement between the Woodstock Neighborhood Association and the Bureau of Parks and Recreation for Woodstock Community Center (Ordinance)
Neighbors in Woodstock have done absolutely amazing work in keeping their community center open, taking responsibility for it, and attracting programs to help fund it. It's a delightful place - I've visited more than once, and look forward to going back often. It can be troublesome when government relies on volunteers to provide basic services, but the vibrant Woodstock Community Center is evidence it can foster We Can Do It attitudes -- as well as being a huge amount of work.