POL Government Elected Officials Commissioner Nick Fish News Blog Archive Blog

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

Talk to Strangers

Talk to Strangers is a wonderful art project that documents Portland’s diverse populations through daily personal stories and photos.   


Created by talented local photographer Julie Keefe, the ongoing project provides a unique peek into the lives of Portlanders of all ages and backgrounds. 


Keefe was inspired by a quote from the famous poet, William Stafford: “Don't forget to talk to strangers, because if you don't, how will you learn anything?” She presents a story and a portrait of new people she meets every day. Keefe takes a photo every day – her goal is to have an art show featuring all 365 portraits in early 2016.   


Keefe is Portland’s first-ever creative laureate.  Created in collaboration with the Regional Arts & Culture Council and the City of Portland, the creative laureate is an artistic professional who serves as a cultural ambassador of Portland.


Check out Keefe’s Facebook page, Talk to Strangers, to see daily posts and portraits of your fellow Portlanders.

Photo courtesy of Julie Keefe. 

March 10, 2015

National Groundwater Awareness Week

This week is dedicated to one of our most valuable renewable resources: groundwater!


Groundwater makes up 95% of all fresh water in the world.  It occurs when rain soaks into soil and moves deep underground to fill natural aquifers. 


Groundwater serves as the secondary source for Portland’s drinking water, after the Bull Run Watershed.  The Portland Water Bureau has 27 wells in three regional aquifers in the Columbia South Shore Well Field.  The Well Field can provide nearly 100 million gallons of quality drinking water each day in an emergency, or to augment the Bull Run’s supply during the hot summer months. 


Help keep our groundwater clean by reporting any chemical spills or illegal dumping.  Call Oregon Emergency Response System at 1-800-452-0311 and the Bureau of Environmental Services at (503) 823-7180. 


Check out the Portland Water Bureau’s website to learn more about Portland’s groundwater. 

March 9, 2015

Friday Roundup

March 6, 2015

Reusing Biogas

The Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) continues to be a leader in green infrastructure with an upcoming project dedicated toward using 100% of its biogas. 


Biogas is a by-product created when treating solids at the Columbia Boulevard Wastewater Treatment Plant. A new facility at the treatment plant will turn the biogas into reusable energy. 


After exploring options for the biogas, BES staff determined that converting the biogas into compressed natural gas vehicle fuel is the most economical and environmentally friendly.  It will reduce diesel fuel use and cuts greenhouse gas emissions. 


Once completed, the project will re-use nearly all of the 600 million cubic feet of biogas the treatment plant produces annually.  And, it’ll save money for sewer ratepayers! 

BES expects the new facility could be operational by 2017.


Learn more about the project on BES’ website.


Portland treatment plant moves towards 100% biogas utilization

News Release

March 5, 2015

Italian Style

The Portland Art Museum has a glamorous new exhibit dedicated to one of Italy’s most well-known art forms: fashion.    


The exhibit, Italian Style: Fashion Since 1945, provides a historical and artistic journey of Italian fashion, from the end of WWII to today. 


The exhibit examines Italy’s post-war devastation in the late 40s, the Hollywood bustle of the 1950s and ‘60s, and into the global powerhouse of fashion that Italy is today.

Italian Style includes both women’s fashion and menswear.  There are over 100 pieces by leading Italian fashion artists, including Valentino, Giorgio Armani, Versace, and many more! 


The Portland Art Museum is funded, in part, by the Regional Arts & Culture Council and the voter-approved Arts Education & Access Fund.


See Italian Style at the museum through May 3.  Visit Portland Art Museum’s website for more information. 


Italian Style: Fashion Since 1945

Portland Art Museum

1219 S.W. Park Ave.

Photo courtesy of the Portland Art Museum.

March 4, 2015

BES Director Recruitment

The City of Portland is looking for a highly qualified professional to lead the Bureau of Environmental Services.    


The director is responsible for managing a workforce of over 500 represented and non-represented full-time employees.  


Environmental Services is dedicated to protecting our environment, water quality, and public health.  BES is a national leader in green infrastructure, which keeps nearly 3 billion gallons of stormwater runoff out of our sewer system each year.       


Applications are due March 27. 

Learn more about the Director position on BES’ website

March 3, 2015

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