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Welcome to Commissioner Amanda Fritz's site!
Thank you for visiting my website.
The most significant issue this week is the approval of the Union Contract between the Portland Police Association (PPA) and the City. A summary of Frequently Asked Questions, with the Mayor's responses, is posted here.
I gave a long speech while voting, because reforms in the contract leading to safety for all community members is a hugely important issue. Short summary: Police staffing has fallen to unacceptable levels, due to retirements, not enough recruits, and 12 terminations/resignations in lieu of termination, over the past three years. Officers are working huge amounts of overtime, and those in specialty units such as domestic violence investigators are being pulled to regular patrol shifts to cover 911 dispatches. Tired workers are more likely to make poor decisions. The contract ratified this week provides incentives for new recruits, and for retirees to augment staffing by allowing the Chief to re-hire valued retired officers to assist with shift coverage, along with pay raises for all officers to reduce transfers to other jurisdictions. The need to provide incentives to boost applications to join the Bureau and/or delay retirements is real, and urgent.
Many testifiers at the two public hearings where dozens of Portlanders spoke, asked me to delay action on the PPA contract until after Mayor Wheeler assumes control of the Police Bureau. Two factors influenced my decision to ratify the contract now. First, Mayor-elect Wheeler has followed the discussions, and didn't ask me to delay ratification. And second, staffing in the Police Bureau needs emergency actions now, not waiting for 2017.
It takes at least six months to conduct background checks on applicants wishing to join the Portland Police Bureau. The background investigators check the 8 references given by the applicant, and ask each reference to provide two or three additional references. The secondary references are then asked to give two or three more. By doing this, hiring panels have much more information than just relying on the references given by the applicant. After initial hiring, recruits are trained for 18 months before being cleared to work independently. Many Portlanders requested the Council to delay action on the contract until Mayor Wheeler takes office. If we wait another six months to provide recruitment incentives, staffing levels would fall to unsafe levels - unsafe for officers, and unsafe for the communities they serve.
In return for investments in recruitment incentives and higher pay for all officers (which will likely increase lateral transfers of experienced officers from nearby jurisdictions, as well as reducing loss from ours), the Council achieved a victory that has been demanded by community advocates for many years - deletion of the "48-hour rule". Previous contracts with PPA have included a restriction than officers are not required to be questioned on use of deadly force incidents until 48 hours after the event. Community activists have railed against that clause repeatedly, in my time on the Council since 2009. This week's vote deletes that restriction from the PPA Union Contract. By accepting the contract, the Union also accepted the Discipline Guide, which sets clear standards for action when officers don't follow bureau policies.
I voted to approve the Contract largely because of those two clauses - recruitment incentives, and deletion of the 48-hour rule. More details on my thinking are in the very-long statement I read at the vote. This issue was very difficult for me, to choose the right action considering all the information I received from many Portlanders. I understand why some Portlanders disagree with my decision. I pledge to continue working towards a Portland where all residents and City staff are safe, and where all Portlanders value community conversations intended to create mutual respect and understanding - even when we disagree on decisions regarding the pathways needed to reach the goal.
Are you wondering what is being done to help people experiencing houselessness? Wonder no more! An easy-to-read summary of the City/County plan, known as A Home For Everyone, is posted here.
Note, I use the term "houseless" not "homeless". A survey has shown that 80% of the people unsheltered in Portland today have been Multnomah County residents for more than two years. Portland is their home. They don't have houses or apartments, but they are still our neighbors. Only 15% of those seeking services in Portland came to our city from elsewhere. Often, those folks come from other parts of the Metro region or the state of Oregon.
In the past 10 years, the City, County, and Home Forward (formerly the Housing Authority of Portland) have helped over 12,000 people get off the streets and into homes. In the past ten years, average rent has increased 30% while average wage has decreased 5%. People are losing their housing every day due to this imbalance.
To fix this, the plan identifies $30 million in additional funding is needed - $20 million ongoing for services, such as rent assistance, subsidies, social services, etc.,; and $10 million for construction of new affordable housing. The plan calls for $5 million in additional funding for shelters, and $12.5 million for permanent supportive housing, in order to cut the number of people living outside by 50% in two years (i.e., by the end of 2017).
The City Council allocated more than $28 million to this work in the 2016-17 Adopted City Budget. This is in addition to the Council tripling the budget for the Portland Housing Bureau, previously over the seven years I have been in office and voting on budgets. The plan states; "What it takes to end homelessness: Do enough, for long enough". The question is now, are Portlanders willing to pay what it takes to do enough, for long enough? We know what needs to be done. We know what works and how to get to the goal. Are Portlanders willing to sacrifice other services, to pay for what it takes?
On December 2nd 2015, Council voted unanimously to provide Paid Parental Leave for City workers, and allow City staff to donate Earned Sick Time to colleagues experiencing catastrophic illnesses. The latter is an improvement over Portland's Paid Sick Time ordinance. The statewide Sick Time legislation was adopted by the courageous Democratic Majority in the 2015 Legislature. Portland's Protected Sick Time standards went into effect January 1, 2014. The City has a comprehensive web site providing information and resources, here: www.portlandoregon.gov/sicktime
My assigned bureaus are Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R or Parks), and the Office of Neighborhood Involvement (ONI). Both are bureaus dealing with multiple services, and it's important that you have easy, clear paths to receive assistance from the appropriate departments and staff.
For Parks, call 503-823-PLAY as your first point of triage. If your question isn't answered, email Director Mike Abbate. On my staff, you may contact Pooja Bhatt (503-823-3229), if you need assistance after trying those first two steps.
For problems when you are in a park:
For the Office of Neighborhood Involvement, and for all City, County, and Portland Development Commission issues, please call 503-823-4000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org This route works both if you need urgent attention, and when you don't know which bureau handles the issue you're concerned about. This is by far the most efficient way to find out which bureau/staff can best solve your problem. My staff and I often call 823-4000 to seek advice and information on navigating Portland's Commission form of government. For policy questions and comments regarding ONI, please contact Claire Adamsick in my office at 503-823-3021.
I am no longer in charge of the Bureau of Development Services (land use reviews, building permits, rental housing health/safety concerns, and nuisance inspections). Contact Colleen Poole who will assist in directing your questions to the appropriate staff. Her phone number is 503-823-7889. File housing/zoning nuisance reports here. If you need help after asking BDS staff to address your concern, please Matt Grumm in Commissioner Saltzman's office.
If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal or having another kind of mental health crisis, call 503-972-3456 instead of 9-1-1, to talk with mental health professionals and trained volunteers at Lines for Life, a community non-profit. Last year, they took 19,000 crisis calls, and resolved 99% of them by the phone conversation. If you need mental health help, call 503-972-3456.
** Here's a useful link to the website where you can see your personal recycling/garbage/yard waste collection schedule, and sign up for a reminder email each week:
Let us embrace the call to action of our President, Barack Obama. In his second Inauguration Speech on the holiday celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., President Obama said,
"You and I, as citizens, have the obligation to shape the debates of our time - not only with the votes we cast, but with the voices we lift in defense of our most ancient values and enduring ideals. Let each of us now embrace, with solemn duty and awesome joy, what is our lasting birthright. With common effort and common purpose, with passion and dedication, let us answer the call of history and carry into an uncertain future that precious light of freedom."
Thank you for engaging in making decisions with your Council.
Our Office Mission:
As public servants and advocates, we provide effective leadership by using resources wisely, promoting cityzen* engagement, listening to and analyzing input, and sharing information and access.
* "cityzen" denotes a person who lives, works, pays, plays, or prays in Portland, regardless of whether they are a Citizen of the United States of America eligible to vote in Portland.
As an elected official, the Commissioner makes decisions based on facts and broad public input, seeking the long term public good for the whole city, with shared benefits and responsibilities for all Portlanders present and future.
Helpful phone numbers:
City/County Information - 503-823-4000
Call this number to find the answer on any local issue
Multnomah County Crisis Line, for people experiencing mental illnesses - 503-988-4888
Statewide Information - 1-800-SAFENET (723-3638)
Call this number for State of Oregon services
Photo by Robert Wilson
The 2009 Pride Parade was especially fun for me, as my three children
Luke, Ali, and Maxwell
carried the banner for our group.
Many thanks to everyone who cheered and clapped for us.
See here for summaries of last week/next week's calendars
My team's goal for this web site is that it will be one of your favorite places for finding out information quickly, and for giving feedback on projects and issues you care about. For instance, check Coming Down The Pike for frequent updates informing you of upcoming meetings and events we believe you may find interesting.
I believe the people of Portland, when given accurate, inclusive information that isn't full of acronyms and insider-speak, make good choices about what's worth spending time and money on, and what isn't. As a community organizer, I experienced problems with finding that accurate, clear data. It shouldn't be so hard for citizens to find out what is going on in City government. I promised during my campaign for City Commissioner to work to make it easier, and this site is part of the process of honoring that commitment.
Click here for tips on how to use my site to stay connected with what's happening at City Hall, in my bureaus, and in Portland's neighborhoods.