Revisions in Parks sponsorship/naming policies
Revised proposals by Portland Parks & Recreation (PPR) staff for new Sponsorship and Naming policies are now posted on line. Comments will be taken on line until April 30, 5 p.m. (Pet Peeve: why not make it May 1, 8 a.m.? I doubt staff will start working on them until the next morning, and people with other jobs might benefit from the extra evening).
Only three at-large citizens were able to scramble to make the hastily-called meeting at 5:30 p.m. last Thursday (another Pet Peeve: don't schedule meetings that require people to go downtown - or anywhere - at rush hour!). It was worth the hour-long trip on the bus, for me at least. Linda Robinson from East Portland and Mary Ann Schwab from inner SE made time in their busy schedules, too. I mention them by name because I think community volunteers, often women, who show up and donate precious hours in meetings time after time after time, don't get nearly enough credit for affecting public policy for the long term public good. Woody Allen said 90% of success is showing up, and showing up at this meeting resulted in more improvements in the recommendation.
The changes since the last draft, on the table last Thursday, are shown on the PPR website. At that meeting, I heard promises to consider further improvements, including:
* Reduce the threshold requiring Council approval of Sponsorship deals from $500,000 to $100,000. Currently, no sponsorship deals are reviewed by Council; they're all approved administatively within PPR and by its Commissioner-in-charge.
* Add review by a committee of stakeholders for Sponsorships over the threshold, and specify notifying the affected Neighborhood Association as part of that process.
* Add a specific line item stating that corporate logos are only allowed on sponsor recognition walls and plaques, and temporary signs and banners, not as permanent signs in parks facilities.
Those are the highlights I remember. Bob Schulz of PPR said they considered my other requests and will be getting back to me on why my suggestions aren't incorporated. The most important of those is probably the core policy question of whether we should rely on corporate sponsors and major donors to fund Portland's parks. That is a bigger question, and the battle perhaps belongs more appropriately in a wider budget and overall city policy discussion on taxes and service provision, rather than in these relatively minor specific administrative rules. Too bad it wasn't a core issue in the Visioning process.
Overall, I see significant improvements and tightening of the Sponsorship and Naming policies resulting from this quick public process to review the administrative policies PPR had been using for years. I believe they make the prospect of McParks less likely, and I would like to see the City adopt similar versions for sponsorships and naming of all other public properties including Water Bureau open space ("HydroParks") and City buildings and facilities. If such policies had been adopted a decade ago, we wouldn't have swooshes on public basketball courts, and we would still have Civic Stadium in our midst.