We had a wonderful hearing on the evening of Wednesday August 31, with over one hundred Portlanders packing both levels of the City Council chambers in support of creation of the Office of Equity. More than 70 people testified, not a single one in opposition. My emails on the topic include a few skeptics, but many more supporters. Reaching such unanimity in just six months since the Mayor's announcement of the concept in his State of the City Address is a tribute to the dozens of Portlanders who have participated in the process to shape the Office. I especially thank the 36 community members who met with the Mayor and me every two weeks for three months, to define the proposal that attained so many accolades on Wednesday.
See KATU's coverage and video.
It is especially satisfying that those most involved see the value of creating a new bureau and hiring three more staff, as an appropriate and necessary mechanism to reach for more equitable outcomes in Portland within City government and in the community. Beth Slovic of the Oregonian noted the similarities in concerns about this office, with those expressed when Commissioner Saltzman established the Office of Sustainable Development in his first term.
At the end of the hearing, the other members of Council asked Mayor Adams and me to bring back a revised ordinance on September 21 at 11 a.m., including the Office of Human Relations and staffing for the Human Rights Commission in the new structure. For the past week, the Mayor and I have worked with the Human Rights Commission, the Portland Commission on Disability which will also be staffed by the new entity, and members of the Creation Committee, to draft a revised proposal.
The draft calls for a single Office of Equity and Human Rights. Draft ordinance and work plan language is posted here. Please send comments and suggestions for amendments to Sara Hussein.