Next Up at City Council, 2/4/09

  • Posted on: 1 February 2009
  • By: Amanda Fritz

My City web site is having some kind of technical problem, not allowing me to create a new page. So here is the preview of this upcoming week's Portland City Council Agenda. I'm glad I have options, for web postings and other stuff.

I'm going to be particularly interested in the first of three Citizen Communications:

87 Request of Steve Gunther to address Council regarding Maintenance Bureau opportunity to protect the Willamette River (Communication)

My staff and I have devoted much of the past month to researching the problems and potential solutions on the Willamette and Columbia Rivers, to propose the structure and scope of the new Office of Healthy Working Rivers. We will try to contact Mr. Gunther before the Council session on Wednesday, to find out more about his ideas than we will be able to hear in three minutes during the hearing.

The first items on Wednesday, after Citizen Communications, are a series of commendations regarding staff and citizen work during the December/January snowstorms. My office has received a number of complaints about neighborhood streets not being cleared, and that is certainly a valid concern. And buses didn't run on time. And there was confusion about which City staff were working and whether they would be paid if they couldn't get in. Mayor Adams is asking workers and community members to evaluate how improvements will be made, for the next events. But many citizens are unaware of the extraordinary efforts and teamwork given by staff and volunteers during the storm, and it's important that side of the story is also told. That's what the 9:30 am Time Certain items will do.

Then there are a bunch of contracts on the Consent Agenda. My staff and I are looking into each one, and asking lots of questions. I am suggesting that items over $1 million should be placed on the Regular Agenda, rather than Consent. Citizens would know more clearly that large quantities of taxpayers' money are being spent, and potential contractors become more aware of the upcoming opportunity to make bids to apply for the contracts, by putting big ticket items on the Regular Agenda.

There's a housekeeping item on Consent, which I note because otherwise folks who follow Council actions routinely will wonder about a change in process:

*105 Revise Council procedures regarding placement of items on the Council Agenda and order of voting (Ordinance; amend Code Sections 3.02.030 and 3.02.040)

Essentially, instead of having items heard in alphabetical order based on last name of the Commissioner, from now on both placement of issues on the Agenda and order of voting will be done in rotation, using the Position numbers of the Commissioners. I'm # 1 (yay!), Nick Fish's position is # 2, Dan Saltzman's is # 3, and Randy Leonard's position title is # 4. The order of item listing and voting will change quarterly. As in current code, the Mayor's items are always on the Agenda first, and s/he always votes last. When I served on the Planning Commission, we instituted a rotation for order of voting. It seems more fair than always using the arbitrary alphabetical order.

This item is listed as an emergency, which is a bit of a stretch, but no harm is done by that in this case, in my opinion.

There are only two items on the Regular Agenda. The first comes from my portfolio:

Office of Cable Communications and Franchise Management

107 Add definition of Cable Communications Utility (Ordinance; amend Code Section 7.14.040)

What this does, is clarify that phone-like services delivered over the Internet through the use of cables in the city's rights-of-way are subject to the City's franchise fees. It will result in new revenue to help pay for basic services in transportation maintenance and other general fund services, to the tune of at least $600,000 annually.

The other Regular Agenda item is similar to one last week, assessing properties for sidewalk repairs. My staff and I are collecting the data on which addresses are being cited, to monitor patterns in assessments relating to geographic and other demographics.

There are no meetings Wednesday afternoon or Thursday this week.