POL Government Elected Officials Commissioner Nick Fish News Blog Archive Blog

Friday Roundup

February 27, 2015

The Water Bureau's news stream

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  5. Confirm your e-mail address and make a password.

Check out the Water Bureau’s website for more information. 

February 26, 2015

Portland's State of the Arts

This morning, Nick was proud to host the Regional Arts & Culture Council’s 2014 State of the Arts report at City Hall.

We wish every Council meeting was as inspiring! Members of the Portland Opera performed an aria from Carmen, students from Northeast Portland's King School sang "Oh Freedom," and poetry slam winner Bella Trent read a moving poem.

2014 was a big year for the arts:

• The Right Brain Initiative is making a huge difference in our schools.


• RACC awarded $2 million in grants to more than 250 diverse nonprofits, individual artists, and schools across Portland.


• Thanks to the voter-approved Arts Education & Access Fund, about 70 certified art teachers were restored in our public elementary schools.


• We welcomed new works of public art, including a natural play installation at Westmoreland Park and whimsical sculptures along Southeast Division.


• Portland hosted a premiere of the Academy Award nominated film, Wild, and the production had a positive impact on our local economy.

This year, we’ll celebrate a number of important milestones:

Work for Art, our workplace giving program, turns 10.


RACC celebrates 20 years as our regional arts champion.


Portlandia, our copper goddess, turns 30.


• The Percent for Art program turns 35.

From film and theater to the visual arts, music, dance, and more, Portland is a special place to live and work thanks to the arts!

Regional Arts & Culture Council Council Presentation

Portland Opera performs at City Hall 
Andrew Theen in The Oregonian

King School students perform "Oh Freedom" 
Andrew Theen in The Oregonian

Portland arts funding: City Council celebrates money for Regional Arts & Culture Council
Andrew Theen in The Oregonian

February 25, 2015

Portland Jazz Festival

The Portland Jazz Festival is in full swing!


The festival is dedicated to preserving America’s indigenous art by presenting an array of talented local and international jazz musicians – and it’s a great way to celebrate Black History Month.


Along with its swinging beats, the Jazz Festival also provides education and outreach programs for Portland’s schools and neighborhoods. 


PDX Jazz, a local non-profit cultural arts organization, partners with Travel Portland each year to produce the festival. The Regional Arts & Culture Council is also proud to provide funding for the event.   


2015’s festival runs through March 1.  Check out the Portland Jazz Festival’s website for a schedule and locations. 

February 24, 2015

People Blind/Prospect & Refuge

Local artist and landscape architect Peg Butler provides an artistic opportunity for visitors to observe their fellow humans in the Portland Building’s latest art installation, People Blind/Prospect & Refuge


The installation provides a hidden, forest-like setting to watch people as they walk through their natural habitat: work.  The objective is to perceive ourselves as though we are animals, connected to nature and one another.


The Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) sponsors the Installation Art Series.  Selected through a juried process, each installation questions common perspectives through art.


People Blind/Prospect & Refuge is now up through March 20 in the Portland Building’s lobby.


Check out RACC’s website for more information.


Portland Building Installation Art Series

1120 SW 5th Avenue

8 am – 5 pm

Photo courtesy of RACC. 

February 23, 2015

Fix-It Fair

Tomorrow, check out the latest Fix-It Fair at David Douglas High School!


Fit-It Fairs are great, free events that teach you easy ways to save money and keep your family healthy.


The fair features a diverse array of workshops and exhibits from community partners.  Experts will be on hand to discuss recycling, health, community resources, and more!


While you are there, visit staffers at the Portland Water Bureau and the Bureau of Environmental Services’ booths to learn about water conservation and watershed health. 


Free, professional childcare and lunch are provided. 


Fix-It Fair ¡Clases en español!

Saturday, February 21, 9:30 am – 3 pm

David Douglas High School

1001 SE 135th Ave.


Visit Fix-It Fair’s website for more information. 

February 20, 2015

Friday Roundup

What will it take to end homelessness?
Nick Fish in Street Roots


Independent Board Says Water Bureau Properly Handled It’s Rainy-Day Fund

Aaron Mesh in the Willamette Week


Sewer Office Building Investigation Says City Bureaus Should Report When Projects Get Bigger
Aaron Mesh in the Willamette Week


Portland investigation says Columbia Building payment process ‘appears improper’

Brad Schmidt in The Oregonian


Portland changes way surplus properties sold

Chris Woodard and KOIN 6 News Staff

Polices set for sale of city properties

Jim Redden in the Portland Tribune


Activists want bigger, faster effort by city to save neighborhoods

Jim Redden in the Portland Tribune


Council passes demolition reforms, promises more action

Jim Redden in the Portland Tribune


Portland’s $15 Movement Keeps Growing! Now Amanda Fritz Says Some Seasonal Workers Need a Raise

Dirk Vanderhart in the Portland Mercury


Portland’s minimum wage: $15-an-hour advocates see victory, push for more

Andrew Theen in The Oregonian


Portland’s minimum wage: Mayor Charlie Hales holding Twitter ‘town hall’ on $15-an-hour proposal

Andrew Theen in The Oregonian


No smoking allowed: Portland City Council approves smoking ban for city parks, nature areas

Andrew Theen in The Oregonian


The backstory behind Portland’s fractured ‘trust relationship’ between Nick Fish and Dean Marriott

Brad Schmidt in The Oregonian

Hales, with "Reluctant" Vote, Swings Portland Back into FBI Anti-Terror Task Force

Denis C. Theriault in the Portland Mercury

Portland will assign two officers to Joint Terrorism Task Force

Brad Schmidt in The Oregonian


Portland should join JTTF fully: Editorial Agenda 2015

The Oregonian Editorial Board

February 19, 2015

Statement from Commissioner Fish: the Joint Terrorism Task Force

Today, I voted to fully rejoin the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF).


Why? Because I believe that we can strengthen public safety and security without sacrificing Oregon values.


In 2011, following a lengthy and thoughtful community-wide debate, I supported a compromise approach: the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) would rejoin the JTTF on as “as-needed” basis. In spite of the best efforts of all involved, it did not work as planned.


As a City Commissioner, I take very seriously my duty to keep Portlanders safe.


Since 2011, the world has become an even more dangerous place. We have been witness to senseless violence, both domestic and foreign. Recent terror attacks in Boston, Paris, and Copenhagen are stark reminders that freedom requires vigilance at home and abroad.


Every other major city in America, including New York and San Francisco, participates in the JTTF. As former and current police chiefs and U.S. attorneys explained to me, we are safer when local, state and federal law enforcement share information and talk to each other on a regular basis.


And when our trained Portland Police officers are at the table, they help guide investigations consistent with our values.


As a former civil rights lawyer, I also take very seriously my responsibility to protect our cherished Constitutional freedoms and liberties. At a recent Council hearing, critics of the JTTF raised concerns about erosion of Constitutionally-protected privacy, the legacy of the FBI, and our ability to ensure compliance with Oregon laws prohibiting the random collection of data on Oregonians outside of a criminal investigation. These are important concerns, and we must enter any new relationship with our eyes wide open.


We do not have to sacrifice accountability in order to participate in the JTTF. Police Chief Larry O’Dea has stated his preference to post two highly-trained officers with the JTTF, supervised by a sergeant, all reporting to the Chief and Mayor.


The Chief already has “secret” clearance, while the Mayor can access all relevant information under the terms of a standard non-disclosure agreement. The City Attorney would provide regular legal advice to the Chief and the Mayor, and training on Oregon law to the PPB officers. This ensures that the proper chain of command is followed.


Effective community policing is based on strong relationships between community members and federal, state, and local law enforcement partners. Portland police officers already work closely and effectively with federal law enforcement in numerous task forces, including the FBI Child Exploitation Task Force, Safe Streets Task Force, and the High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Task Force.


The task force model strengthens community policing by coordinating multiple resources to focus on some of our most difficult public safety issues.


Whether we are addressing the national problems of child sex trafficking or domestic terrorism, we are stronger when we work together.


Finally, today’s JTTF is supervised by the Obama Justice Department – not  Bush, Cheney, or Ashcroft.


Speaking to the JTTF in New York, the President said:


“Together your success in thwarting terrorist attacks, the strong intelligence you've gathered, and the hard-nosed investigations you've pursued has proved to be a model for law enforcement officials across the country.”

The time has come to fully join with the JTTF. Portlanders rightly expect that protecting their safety is a fundamental responsibility of their Mayor and City Council. I believe that we can meet that responsibility and safeguard civil liberties by joining the JTTF.

February 19, 2015

Outside council report on BES Columbia Building

In response to the Auditor’s report about the new Bureau of Environmental Services employee building at the Columbia Boulevard Wastewater Treatment Plant, I committed to bring in an outside law firm to review the findings, conduct an investigation, and issue a written report on lessons learned and “best practices.” Attached is a copy of the report.


In its report, Barran Liebman LLP found no evidence that laws, rules, or ethical guidelines were violated. However, the report raises a number of red flags about bureau practices and decisions.


Barran Liebman’s report includes eleven thoughtful recommendations for improving how the bureau completes capital projects. We are reviewing them carefully, and expect to implement many of them.


Prior to the issuance of this report, I already initiated a number of reforms that address many of the findings. They are designed to strengthen accountability and transparency. For example:

  • Projects with investments totaling more than $500,000 now come to Council on the Regular agenda (not Consent agenda) to ensure robust public discussion. 
  • The Citizens Utility Board has been brought in to conduct regular, independent reviews of bureau capital projects.
  • This fall, based on the recommendations of the Utility Oversight Blue Ribbon Commission, we will launch a new Public Utility Board, with independent professional staff to scrutinize the capital projects and budgets of both BES and the Portland Water Bureau.

Next week, I am launching a national search for a new Director. I am confident that with new leadership, a renewed commitment to transparency and accountability, and with the full support of our dedicated employees and the Council, BES will continue to deliver high-quality services to Portlanders.


Please let me or my staff know if you have any questions about this report.

Barran Liebman LLP Report

Portland investigation says Columbia Building payment process 'appears improper'

Brad Schmidt in The Oregonian

Sewer Office Building Investigation Says City Bureaus Should Report When Projects Get Bigger

Aaron Mesh in the Willamette Week

February 19, 2015

Jerome Kersey, 1962-2015

Yesterday, our community lost one of the greats: former Portland Trail Blazer Jerome Kersey.


I do not have the words to express my shock and sadness at his sudden passing.


I was lucky enough to spend some time with Jerome at Schoolhouse Supplies' Celebrity Spelling Bee last month -- we were on the same team. He brought his lovely wife and step-daughter as guests.


It was easy to tell that Jerome was the biggest "celebrity" there -- throughout the evening, people asked for his autograph and a photograph. He was always more than happy to oblige.


Before that, I once played a game of H-O-R-S-E with him.


I lost, naturally.


Jerome was a great player and ambassador for the Trail Blazers and our entire community. He was also a wonderful human being. Wherever I saw him, people were drawn to him. He always found time to give back.


It was an honor to know him. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and fans today.



February 19, 2015

Improving our Surplus Property Policy

This morning, Nick was pleased to brief City Council on a new “Surplus Property Policy,” developed by the Bureau of Environmental Services and the Water Bureau.


The new policy increases transparency and accountability, and creates a robust public process for selling public land.


After Nick became Commissioner in charge of our two public utilities in 2013, he learned that the “Freeman Tank” property, a surplus Water Bureau site in Southwest Portland, was being sold to a private developer.  Community members in the Multnomah neighborhood objected – claiming they were not adequately notified of the sale, and were not briefed on the future plans to develop in their neighborhood.


While the Water Bureau followed the City’s then existing policy for surplus property, Nick agreed with neighbors – the policy needed to be strengthened! 


The new policy, developed with significant community input, includes expanded public notices to our local government partners like Metro and Multnomah County, and to neighborhood associations and business associations, ads in community newspapers, and a new “Surplus Property” section on each of our bureaus’ websites. The new BES and Water Bureau sites include photos, detailed information about each surplus site, and information about each site’s status.


This new policy would not have been possible without the thoughtful feedback and recommendations from Moses Ross and fellow neighbors in the Multnomah Neighborhood Association.


Tell us what you think! Review the new policy online, and submit your feedback.  


Policies set for sale of city properties

Jim Redden in the Portland Tribune

February 18, 2015

Planning a greener future for the Central Eastside

This Thursday, the Southeast Quadrant Plan is offering an open house for Portlanders to learn about the future of the Central Eastside.  It’s a great opportunity to get involved and discuss goals, policies, and upcoming projects in the district. 


The Central Eastside is a dynamic part of Portland’s tech and factory industry.  It significantly contributes to our economy and job growth. 


The Bureau of Environmental Services is proud to partner with fellow City bureaus on the Southeast Quadrant Plan.  Last year, BES staff helped complete the SE Clay Green Street project.  This year’s focus includes adding more green infrastructure to address stormwater runoff.  Other topics include enhancing river habitat, providing park-like spaces, improving bicycle and pedestrian corridors, and more!


Check out the Bureau of Environmental Services’ website for more information about the open house.


Southeast Quadrant Open House

Thursday, February 19, 4 – 7 pm

Oregon Rail Heritage Center

2250 SE Water Ave.

February 17, 2015

Let’s show small businesses the love this Valentine’s Day!

This morning, Nick was pleased to help kick off Hidden Hearts at Crafty Wonderland.


Hidden Hearts is a Valentine’s Day shopping event that showcases Portland’s great neighborhood small businesses.  It was created by Supportland co-founder Katrina Scotto di Carlo as a way to reward those who shop locally. 


Here is how it works: collect ‘Hidden Hearts’ at participating Supportland businesses today. On Sunday, each heart will become 20 Supportland Merits to use towards a 24-hour shopping spree!


Neighborhood small businesses are the backbone of our local economy.  They strengthen our community and support good causes. For every dollar spent at a local small business, 70 cents stays in our community. 


So this Valentine’s Day, let’s show them some love. 


Special thanks to Supportland co-founder Katrina Scotto di Carlo and Crafty Wonderland Co-owner Torie Nguyen!


Check out Supportland’s website for more information.

February 13, 2015

Friday Roundup

February 12, 2015

Keep your family safe from lead exposure

Homes built between 1970 and 1985 may have lead in their pipes, which can add lead in your water. It’s a major health risk for children and pregnant women.


The Portland Water Bureau wants you and your family to stay safe! They offer free lead testing kits to all customers. Order a lead kit today to test your tap water. 


The Water Bureau also has simple tips to avoid lead exposure from household plumbing.

  • Avoid using water that has been standing in household pipes. Let faucets run for at least 30 seconds to allow fresh water to come through.   
  • Use a filter that removes lead.
  • Buy low-lead fixtures.

Check out Multnomah County Health Department’s LeadLine website for more information, and to order a lead-in-water test kit.

February 12, 2015

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