POL Government Elected Officials Commissioner Nick Fish News Blog Archive Blog

Thank you, George Hocker

After six years of working with the Fish team, we bid a fond farewell to our dear friend and colleague George Hocker.


George has served as Nick’s Public Advocate since 2008. He has been the liaison to the Disability Commission, Elders in Actions, Age Friendly Cities, and a variety of other community groups.  


George has had a lifetime of accomplishments. A graduate of Howard University, he spent over thirty years working for the Central Intelligence Agency, with significant time spent in Africa, South America, and the South Pacific. George recently served as an administrative Pastor in the faith community before joining the Fish team.   


We thank you George, for everything you have done for this office! And, we wish you well on your next adventure. 

March 31, 2015


Plant trees and save money!


The Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) has a great seasonal program called Treebate that rewards Portland residents for planting trees.


Trees help contribute to clean rivers and healthy watersheds by keeping rainwater out of our sewer system. A large tree can absorb nearly 600 gallons of stormwater a year! If you plant an eligible tree, BES will credit your city utility bill! Your Treebate credit will depend on your tree’s size and future potential to help manage stormwater.   


Treebate is easy: purchase an eligible tree (or trees) and plant it in your residential yard. Then, submit a Treebate application along with your receipt. Applications are due by April 30. 


Check out BES’ website to learn more about Treebate.

March 30, 2015

Friday Roundup

March 27, 2015

Sakura Sakura

The cherry blossoms have bloomed, and spring is in the air!


Talented local photographer Motoya Nakamura has a stunning photo and video exhibit called Sakura Sakura


Sakura is the Japanese name for cherry blossom trees. Over the course of a year, Nakamura captured the beauty of the cherry blossom trees at Waterfront Park and the Japanese American Historical Plaza. 


The trees were gifts from Japan. They evoke cultural wonder, and symbolize Japanese-American history and friendship that is unique to our region. 


Sakura Sakura is funded in part by the Regional Arts & Culture Council.  It’s up through June 14th at the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center. 


Sakura Sakura

Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center

121 NW 2nd Avenue

Portland, OR 97209


Photo courtesy of the Regional Arts & Culture Council.

March 26, 2015

Keeping our water clean

The Bull Run Watershed provides Portlanders with some of the best drinking water in the world.  Because it’s so high in quality, we only have to minimally treat our water to make it safe to drink. 


The Portland Water Bureau treats our water through a process called chloramination. Chlorine is lightly added at the source to protect us from possible harmful bacteria and micro-organisms. Ammonia is then added to ensure the disinfection remains stable throughout the system as it travels to our homes and businesses. 


The bureau tracks our water quality carefully, and adjusts chlorine levels as needed. The bureau will sometimes adjust levels during the warmer months of spring and summer, as warm temperatures could cause chlorine to decrease more rapidly (like evaporation).


Some people are sensitive to changes in chlorine levels. If your water smells like chlorine, you can minimize it by putting water in the refrigerator overnight, adding a slice of lemon or cucumber, or by boiling it. 


Visit the Water Bureau’s website to learn more about water quality, or call the Water Quality Line at (503) 823-7525.

March 25, 2015

The splendor of energy efficiency

Energy Trust of Oregon awarded the Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) for their dedication to green energy. 


Energy Trust is a statewide nonprofit that promotes energy conservation and renewable energy sources. 


As one of its services, the nonprofit provides cash incentives to public agencies and nonprofit organizations that work to conserve and generate renewable energy.  Recently, BES received an incentive check for $284,810 for one of their projects!


BES’ award-winning project involved making aeration tanks at the Columbia Boulevard Wastewater Treatment Plant more energy efficient.  The machines that blow air into the aeration tanks use more power than any other equipment at the plant.  Modifying those blowers to use less electricity reduces energy costs, which means long term cost savings for ratepayers!


This isn’t BES’ first time getting an incentive check from Energy Trust.  In 2008, the bureau installed a co-generation system that used biogas as fuel to generate power and heat for plant operations. 


Congrats to the Bureau of Environmental Services for their success and dedication to being energy efficient! 

March 24, 2015

PNCA celebrates its new home


On Friday evening, Nick was honored to represent the city at an important milestone: the grand opening of the Pacific Northwest College of Art’s new home, the Arlene and Harold Schnitzer Center for Art & Design.


Nick joined PNCA President Tom Manley, Arlene and Jordan Schnitzer, Governor Kate Brown, Senator Ron Wyden, Congressmen Earl Blumenauer and Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici, former and current PDC staff and Board members, architect Brad Cloepfil, and many others to celebrate the grand opening.


PNCA’s new home at 511 NW Broadway was almost a decade in the making. The historic building opened in 1919 as a Post Office, and later served as Federal offices before becoming vacant in 2005. That’s when Tom Manley’s vision for a new PNCA took shape.


Congratulations to all the public and private partners for securing PNCA’s foundation for the next 100 years.

March 23, 2015

Friday Roundup

Remember Dan Weidinger? OPB News followed up with the Bull Run's Lone Ranger

Andrew Theen in The Oregonian


At Home In The Bull Run Watershed

Julie Sabatier and Alan Sylvestre in OPB


Plugged In

Joseph Gallivan in the Portland Tribune


Nick Fish names Sonia Schmanski as next chief of staff

Andrew Theen in The Oregonian


Portland Water Bureau Chief David Shaff is Retiring

Aaron Mesh in the Willamette Week


Water Bureau Head David Shaff is Retiring

Dirk Vanderhart in the Portland Tribune


David Shaff, Water Bureau administrator, is retiring

Andrew Theen in The Oregonian


David Shaff talks Randy Leonard, Mount Tabor reservoirs, earthquakes (Q&A)

Andrew Theen in The Oregonian


How Gretchen Kafoury left an indelible stamp on Portland

Andy Giegerich in the Portland Business Journal


Mountain bikers protest River View Natural Area off-road cycling ban

Tony Hernandez in The Oregonian

Mountain bikers protest park riding ban

KGW News Staff


Portland rain sends sewage into Willamette River

The Associated Press in KOIN 6 News


City: Rain causes sewer overflow into Willamette

Jim Redden in the Portland Tribune


Heavy Portland rainfall causes sewage overflow into Willamette River
Rebecca Woolington in The Oregonian

March 20, 2015

The Lents Grown Story Yard

City Hall’s atrium got a little more inspiring with a traveling version of the “Lents Grown” Story Yard

Designed by local non-profit ROSE CDC and Propel Studio Architecture, the Story Yard is an art installation that celebrates the wonderful diversity of the Lents neighborhood in Southeast Portland. 


The original Story Yard is located on a corner lot at SE 88th & Foster, on land owned by the Portland Development Commission (PDC). In an effort to activate empty, unused neighborhood land, PDC issued grants to ROSE and Propel to create the Story Yard. Local photographer Dawn DeAno photographed local small business owners and farmers market vendors. Their photographs – and their stories – are installed in the Story Yard. The installation strengthens neighborhood connections through the photos and stories that represent what makes Lents great: its people. 


The traveling version of the Story Yard in City Hall emulates the beauty of the original, just on a smaller scale. Come to Portland City Hall’s atrium and check it out! The installation will be up through March 27. The full Story Yard on SE Foster will be up through 2015.

Photo courtesy of Rose Community Development. 

March 19, 2015

Our Lone Ranger


Portland Water Bureau employee Dan Weidinger patrols the Bull Run Watershed – he  is the hero who protects our water supply.  


Today on OPB’s Think Out Loud, Dan and his wife, Sacha Synder, took viewers into their watershed home in the beautiful Mt. Hood National Forest. 


The Bull Run Watershed is Portland’s main source of drinking water.  It includes the Bull Run Lake and two reservoirs, as well as the Bull Run River, tributaries, and other feeders.  The two reservoirs hold nearly 14 billion gallons of usable water, and serve nearly a million Oregonians. 


As Ranger, Dan is responsible for watching and patrolling over 147 square miles daily. Right now he’s the only full-time ranger on duty, but he won’t be solo for long. Commissioner Fish prioritized funding to hire a second ranger to help patrol the watershed.


Thank you for your great service to our city, and to our fellow Oregonians, Dan!


At Home In The Bull Run Watershed

Julie Sabatier and Alan Sylvestre in OPB


Remember Dan Weidinger? OPB News follows up with the Bull Run’s Lone Ranger

Andrew Theen in The Oregonian

March 18, 2015

David Shaff to retire from Water Bureau after 37 years of service

This morning, Water Bureau Administrator David Shaff announced his retirement, after 37 years of service to the City:


I recently let Commissioner Fish know that I intend to retire effective June 30, 2015, my 37th anniversary as an employee of the City of Portland and my 10th anniversary as the Administrator of the Portland Water Bureau.


Commissioner Fish has asked me if I will stay on beyond June 30th if necessary while he and his staff conduct a search for a new director and I have said that I would.


I cannot describe how proud I am to have worked for the Portland Water Bureau these last ten years. My entire career at the City of Portland has been incredibly fulfilling and rewarding, but these last ten years have been the most special.


Keep Reading


Nick is grateful for David's service to the City, and released the following statement:


Today, Portland Water Bureau Director David Shaff announced his decision to retire after 37 years of service to the City.


While I was surprised by David’s decision, I respect his choice and am grateful that he has committed to work with me and the bureau on a transition plan.


Since I was assigned to lead the City’s two utility bureaus in June 2013, I have admired his dedication and professionalism, his willingness to explore new and better ways of doing business, his customer service ethic, and his strong commitment to using ratepayer dollars wisely. David has been instrumental in recruiting and developing a high performance team at the bureau. 


Keep Reading


Thank you, David, for your 37 years of service!


David Shaff, Portland Water Bureau administrator, is retiring

Andrew Theen in The Oregonian


Water Bureau Head David Shaff is Retiring

Dirk Vanderhart in the Portland Mercury


Water Bureau director to retire

Jim Redden in the Portland Tribune

Portland Water Bureau Chief David Shaff is Retiring

Aaron Mesh in the Willamette Week

March 17, 2015

City Commissioner Nick Fish Appoints Sonia Schmanski as Chief of Staff

City Commissioner Nick Fish announced the appointment of Sonia Schmanski as his Chief of Staff, effective today, March 16, 2015.


“Sonia Schmanski joined my team about the time I came to City Hall and has a depth of experience across all of our work here,” said Fish. “I’m delighted that she’s agreed to be my new Chief of Staff.”


Ms. Schmanski joined the staff of Commissioner Fish in the fall of 2008 as a temporary staff person, and rose through the ranks.


She has held numerous leadership positions in the office, including acting as bureau liaison and advising the Commissioner on a range of citywide issues including land use, transportation, housing, utilities, and planning.


From January 2012 through early February 2013, she was Commissioner Fish’s liaison to the Portland Housing Bureau. In that role she facilitated implementation of the Commissioner’s Fair Housing Action Plan; the successful conclusion of the City’s 11x13 housing preservation campaign; and the opening of Gray’s Landing, which brought the South Waterfront its first affordable homes.


From June 2013 until her appointment as Chief of Staff, Ms. Schmanski served as liaison to the Portland Water Bureau, managing the roll-out of key utility reforms. Those reforms included the Blue Ribbon Commission launched in the spring of 2014, development of a new policy to guide the disposal of surplus property, the launch of monthly billing, and a groundbreaking new partnership with the Citizen’s Utility Board of Oregon.


“I’m honored by the opportunity to serve Commissioner Fish and Portlanders in this new role,” said Ms. Schmanski. “Working in City Hall is both challenging and rewarding. I look forward to leading our terrific team.”


Ms. Schmanski studied International Relations at Boston University and spent time at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars before returning to Portland in 2008. A 6th-generation Oregonian, she grew up in the Grant Park neighborhood of Northeast Portland, and now lives in St. Johns.

Nick Fish names Sonia Schmanski as next chief of staff

Andrew Theen in The Oregonian

March 16, 2015

Friday Roundup

March 13, 2015

Slough 101

This Saturday, join the Columbia Slough Watershed Council at Slough 101


Slough 101 is a hands-on introductory workshop, led by local experts, that’s dedicated to our beautiful watershed.  It covers the local history, watershed health, abundant wildlife, recreational access, and more!  The workshop also includes levee and pump station tours and fascinating macro-invertebrate identification. 


Slough 101 is free and perfect for adults and teens 14 and up!


The workshop is sponsored by the Bureau of Environmental Services and the Portland Water Bureau.


Check out the Columbia Slough Watershed Council’s website to register for the event. 


Slough 101

Saturday, March 14, 9 am – 12:45 pm

Multnomah County Drainage District #1

1880 NE Elrod Dr.

March 12, 2015

Children’s Clean Water Festival


Yesterday, Nick enjoyed attending the 22nd Annual Children’s Clean Water Festival at the University of Portland.


The festival is a great one-day educational event for 4th and 5th graders from around Portland.  Students learned all about clean water, stream bugs, groundwater, and more! It reinforces important educational programs, including STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Math), Common Core, and Next Generation Science through lively stage shows, exhibits, and presentations.


The Portland Water Bureau and the Bureau of Environmental Services were proud to partner with the Regional Water Providers Consortium and other public and private partners to make the festival a success!   

Check out Children’s Clean Water Festival’s website to learn more about the annual event. 

March 11, 2015

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