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Welcome to Amanda's blog
Reminder: Front desk job opening in my office, applications due Sunday 5 p.m.
Although we have already received over 100 applications for my office team's Front Desk/Constituent Services Specialist opening, additional submissions are still welcome. Details here. Applications received by 5 p.m. on Sunday, April 7 will be considered first. Please be sure to include a cover letter telling me why you want to work with my staff and me, and a resume that includes your current and past volunteer community service.
April 6, 2013
Job opening in my Office
I am seeking an energetic, self-motivated, positive individual with customer service experience to join my office team as an Administrative Assistant. The successful applicant will staff the front desk and serve Portlanders as my Constituent Services Specialist, answering phone, email and letter communications and coordinating office management. Details here. Applications received by 5 p.m. on Sunday, April 7 will be considered first. Please pass along this information to anyone who may be interested.
March 15, 2013
Portland Passes Protected Sick Leave ordinance
On March 13, 2013, the Portland City Council unanimously adopted the ordinance that provides Protected Sick Leave to all employees, starting in January 2014. The adopted Code is here. The standards require all businesses to provide Protected Sick Leave for employees who work more than 240 hours in a calendar year within the city of Portland. Businesses with 6 or more employees will have to provide up to 40 hours of paid Sick Leave annually, earned at one hour of Sick Time per thirty hours worked. Smaller businesses will be required to allow employees to earn and take up to 40 hours a year of unpaid leave without fear of being fired for missing work, due to personal health care needs, safety from domestic violence, or caring for a sick child. The ordinance will take effect on January 1, 2014. Information on the process leading to adoption of the Ordinance is here.
My comments when voting for the Ordinance:
This is an historic moment for human rights in the United States of America. This is about public health and well being, the health of workers, their families and consequently the health of our community.
I thank the members of the Everybody Benefits Portland coalition - led by Andrea Paluso, Sharon Bernstein, Lisa Frack and other staff from Family Forward Oregon. And thanks to coalition members:
There are many others who joined in this grassroots campaign. Thank you to every one.
Supporters after the vote. Chief architect and craftsman of the ordinance,
my Chief of Staff Tom Bizeau, is out of the limelight on the far right
Eleanor Roosevelt said, "Do what you believe in your heart is right, because you will be criticized anyway."
I believe in my heart that this is right. It will provide people and businesses with a means to maintain their health, which means satisfaction in the job and consequently productivity, which means thriving, sustainable businesses.
People matter. Jobs matter.
There will be costs to businesses, and there are other ways that the Council will support businesses in the coming months. This Code was crafted as simply as possible, to minimize the administrative burden on businesses. Thanks to Bernie Bottomly of the Portland Business Alliance, and Heather Hoell of Venture Portland who along with others participated in the Task Force process which improved the Code details after the hearing on January 31. Thanks to Commissioner Dan Saltzman who proposed the Task Force process and co-led it with me. The standards adopted today are better because of that process.
Real change does not come without sacrifice.
The stories that I have heard from the workers who have had to come to work sick or be fired, or not be able to make the rent, or not be able to care for a child or a loved one, made me understand the scope of the problem that we are trying to solve. These people now have names that I know, since many Portlanders both for and against the ordinance have participated in the public review.
Many businesses here in Portland already have paid sick leave benefits. Sixty percent of all employees receive some paid leave. These are the true pioneers of this regulation because they provided it without government having to ask. Now, we need to take care of the other 40% who need protection and pay when they need to stay home due to illness.
We have worked hard to accommodate the needs of businesses, especially the smaller ones. I believe the true cost of this benefit will be a minimal expense in comparison to all the other expenses that a business is confronted with. And it comes with responsibilities. Employees work for money and job security, the Employer needs good workers who know the job and can be good long term workers because it saves them money as well. We are all in this together. We need to care for each other, and this regulation seeks to do that.
I am hopeful that the State will pass as good or better requirements state-wide as we are passing here today. I am already lobbying to pass HB 3390 and SB 801. As Senator Steiner Hayward said when I visited Salem on Friday, "It's not fair that employees in Portland should have a benefit that employees in Medford don't have." The more workers covered by paid sick leave, the better. I hope this will become a national standard.
I thank all my colleagues who recognize how important it is to Portland, to the State and to the people that are in real need of protection. I thank all those legislators in the County and at the state who have supported and continue to strive for broad and lasting regulations outside the City of Portland.
Our President, Barack Obama, said in his State of the Union speech this year:
"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."
As an elected official, I make 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.
Thank you for engaging in making this decision with your Council. I am happy to vote Aye.
March 13, 2013 | Comments (0) | Post a Comment (Sign-In Required)
Volunteers needed for the Portland Utility Review Board
Here's a great volunteer opportunity! Most of the following information is from Janis Adler, citizen chair of the Portland Utility Review Board (PURB):
The PURB reviews proposed water, sewer, solid waste and recycling rates and makes recommendations regarding adoption of the proposed rates from a citizen and business user’s perspective, to the Portland City Council. Advised by high-level staff from the Portland Water Bureau, the Bureau of Environmental Services, and the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, the PURB receives administrative assistance from the Office of Management and Finance. They also consider comments from affected ratepayers. While the PURB's recommendation is advisory rather than mandatory in the rate-setting process, it is an important Board whose advice the Council considers carefully.
The PURB is intended to be a 9-person board. Currently, there are two vacancies: one at-large position and another member representing commercial/industrial ratepayers. Ideally, one or both of these positions would be filled with someone with an engineering background.
The PURB as a valuable, on-going resource to help gauge community sentiment on utility rates and related issues. The PURB meets monthly at 4:30 PM, on the third Thursday of the month in the Lovejoy Room at City Hall.
Please contact Patti Howard in my office if you are interested in volunteering for this important Board.
February 28, 2013 | Comments (0) | Post a Comment (Sign-In Required)
Draft Police Use of Force Policy revisions posted
The Portland Police bureau has posted proposed changes to the Use of Force policy, here.
Comments on the proposed policy should be sent to Matt Robinson and Chad Stover in the office of Mayor Hales. You are also welcome to copy Dora Perry in my office, since Dora is tracking public safety issues with me.
February 24, 2013 | Comments (0) | Post a Comment (Sign-In Required)
Email of the Week, on gun violence
I have received many messages related to the issue of violence using guns. This weekend, Portlander Betsy Toll sent me the following, which I consider especially pertinent:
"Missing from most discussion about gun violence are some stark facts as to who tends to commit violent crimes. If we are choosing to target specific demographic groups for restrictions, rather than, or in addition to, weapons, we must acknowledge that alcohol and drugs are implicated in violent crime at a dramatically higher rate than mental illness.
In homicides, armed assaults, and domestic violence, a huge number of perpetrators are either under the influence or have a history of alcohol and/or drug abuse. As noted in a New York Times article on Dec. 17, 2012, Dr. Richard A. Freeman reports that:
"Alcohol and drug abuse are far more likely to result in violent behavior than mental illness by itself. In the National Institute of Mental Health’s E.C.A. [Epidemiologic Catchment Area] study, for example, people with no mental disorder who abused alcohol or drugs were nearly seven times as likely as those without substance abuse to commit violent acts."
That bears repeating: People with no mental disorder who abused alcohol or drugs were nearly seven times as likely as those without substance abuse to commit violent acts.
Restricting the gun rights of anyone with any alcohol or drug offense history would be an important step in reducing the tens of thousands of gun-crimes and suicides that occur in our country every year. I urge you to bring this perspective to the gun rights debates that will be happening in coming months."
Thank you, Betsy, for this thoughtful comment.
February 25, 2013 | Comments (0) | Post a Comment (Sign-In Required)
Comment period open for Regional Transportation investments
Susan Patterson-Sale on the Metro staff informs me that from Friday, February 22, to Monday, April 8, 2013, Metro will hold a 45-day public comment period on proposed project list changes for the 2035 Regional Transportation Plan (RTP). Susan says:
"The RTP establishes a comprehensive policy direction for the regional transportation system and recommends a balanced program of transportation investments to implement that policy direction. The RTP is updated every four years, as required by federal law. In between full updates to the RTP, it may be necessary to amend the plan in response to changing local conditions and newly adopted plans. To be eligible to build a project with federal funds, the project must first be amended into the RTP.
Comments made during this period will be presented to decision makers for consideration before taking action in May. Proposed changes to the RTP project list include projects in Washington County, Hillsboro, Beaverton, Portland, East Multnomah County and Oregon Department of Transportation projects along I-205. You can also comment on analysis of how these changes may affect regional air quality.
For project information or to comment online, see: www.oregonmetro.gov/rtp, mail comments to 2013 Amendments to 2035 RTP, Metro 600 NE Grand Ave., Portland, OR 97232, or email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Comments must be received by Metro by 5 p.m., Monday, April 8, 2013."
February 24, 2013
Foreclosure assistance that works
Last June, I wrote about Larry Cross and his unusual appeal for help in what has become a much-too-usual problem - threatened foreclosure on his home in SE Portland.
Last week, I received a joyful email from Larry. He writes:
<<I signed the necessary papers today to prevent my foreclosure.
Funds came from the federal “Hardest Hit Fund.” These funds, that prevent foreclosure, pay the arrears in full as a 5-year loan that is “forgiven” at the end of the 5-year period. The State of Oregon maintains a “junior lien” on the property for the 5 years. >>
As noted in a Huffington Post article,
<<“Long a national leader in keeping its populace caffeinated, Oregon can claim bragging rights in another category: spending federal dollars to help its homeowners avoid foreclosure.
As of June 30, Oregon had drawn down $107 million of the $220 million allocated under the Hardest Hit Fund, a $7.6 billion program administered by the Treasury Department that pushes bailout dollars to housing agencies in states especially battered by the foreclosure crisis. Oregon has spent $63 million of the funds it has withdrawn, mostly in the form of no-interest loans to help unemployed homeowners make their mortgage payments, according to state housing officials.
.... Oregon -- long a national leader in espresso carts and artisanal cupcake bakers -- can add another feather to its cap. The state has proven relatively efficient at getting Hardest Hit Fund aid into the hands of residents in danger of losing their homes to foreclosure.
"We took a lot of homeowner applications at the beginning," said Margaret Van Vliet, the director of Oregon's housing finance agency, which oversees the state's program, in explaining why her state's program has distributed more aid than average. "We got out of the gate faster.">>
Margaret Van Vliet in the Huffington Post? I know her! She was Commissioner Fish's first Director of the Portland Housing Bureau, before moving up to the state. Yay Margaret! Yay us!
So, there is still plenty of money left to assist qualifying homeowners in need of a new loan to prevent foreclosure. Please pass this information to anyone who may need it.
Congratulations, Larry! And thanks to State Representative Alissa Keny-Guyer, who joined me in encouraging Larry while he worked with Senator Merkley's great staff and with responsive mortgage experts at Wells Fargo Bank. Also to Fernando Guzman, the Hacienda CDC counselor who helped Larry negotiate the process, and the State Legislature and staff who provided assistance. Please pass on the information to anyone who may be eligible.
January 26, 2013 | Comments (0) | Post a Comment (Sign-In Required)
Earned Sick Leave forum and process
About 65 people attended the forum I hosted on Earned Sick Leave on Wednesday evening. Employers and employees of both large and small businesses, all-local through multinational corporations, participated and gave constructive feedback on the proposal, posted here. I greatly appreciate all the input, and the constructive, courteous approach of all attendees. Please email your comments and any suggested amendments to all members of the Council (thus comments are not open on this blog post).
I will file the Ordinance and Code proposal on Thursday 1/24, for posting on Friday prior to the hearing next Thursday, January 31st, in City Hall starting at 2 p.m. There may be changes in the filed documents, compared with the previously posted versions, based on feedback received.
After the hearing next week, Commissioner Saltzman and I will co-chair a Task Force to identify and discuss potential amendments to the proposed Code. I anticipate 11 - 13 people, invited by Council members to represent the broad range of stakeholder communities, meeting weekly for three weeks. A report from the Task Force will be posted. Council members may choose to propose amendments identified in the report, or suggested by others submitted via open public input. A second hearing will be held at the end of February to consider amendment requests, with a Council vote anticipated the first week of March. The new standards would be implemented January 2014.
I hope the Legislature will pass a statewide Earned Sick Leave standard. I am open to revisiting Portland's ordinance if that happens. I will also lead the work to identify benchmarks and gather data before, during, and after implementation, likely with a monitoring committee comprised of Portland employers and employees. If the Code is implemented in January 2014 as currently proposed, I will bring a follow-up report Council mid-2015. I believe sick leave standards are necessary and reasonable, and I appreciate the constructive engagement of Portlanders on all sides to identify the details for the Code the Council will vote on at the end of February or beginning of March.
January 23, 2013
Earned Sick Leave Proposal
Portland City Council to consider Earned Sick Leave policy January 31st
Informational Forum scheduled for January 23rd
Although an estimated 60% of employees working in Portland are currently provided paid time off when they are ill, up to 40% of Portland’s workers can’t take even a single day off to recover from contagious diseases, accidents, or major surgery. Some are even threatened with losing their job if they don’t show up at work due to illness. This issue is of particular concern during the flu season, and with recent outbreaks of Norwalk virus, with illnesses spreading when people who are sick don’t stay home to recover. But almost everyone gets sick sometimes.
Like minimum wage and safe employment conditions, ideally standards on emergency sick leave would be set by the State Legislature. The Portland City Council adopted a State Legislative Agenda this week that includes asking for statewide Paid Sick Time regulations. In the meantime, I am proposing a local measure that would be implemented for employees working within city boundaries. My proposal will only go into effect if the Legislature fails to adopt standards that are equal or better in safeguarding public health and employee rights. As a retired Registered Nurse, former public school mom, and now Commissioner in charge of wellness for over 5,000 City employees, I believe protected sick leave is an important element of workplace safety and public health.
My proposal would allow employees who work in Portland for more than 240 hours in a year to earn one hour of sick time per 30 hours worked, and then use up to five days of earned sick time per year for specified emergency absences. Employees in businesses with six or more employees would be eligible for paid sick time. Those working in businesses with five or fewer employees would not be paid for time off due to sickness, but they would have the right to use their earned sick leave without fear of retribution.
The proposed Ordinance and Code are posted here.
I will host an informational forum next Wednesday, January 23, from 6 – 8 p.m. in the PortlandBuilding, Room C on the 2nd floor, 1120 SW 5th Avenue. This event will give an overview of the proposed standards, with an extended question and answer opportunity. It is a public meeting, but for review of the proposal rather than a hearing designed for proponents and opponents to advocate for or against the proposal.
The Council will hold a hearing on the proposed Protected Sick Leave Ordinance and Code on Thursday, January 31st in City Council chambers starting at 2 p.m.
Following that hearing, I will convene a stakeholder Task Force which will meet weekly for three weeks to discuss the details and potentially propose amendments for Council members to consider presenting at the second hearing at the end of February. Following the Council vote, administrative rules used in implementation of the new code will be adopted in collaboration with the City Attorney’s office and the state Bureau of Labor and Industries. If adopted by City Council, the new sick leave standards would then be in effect January 1, 2014.
January 17, 2013 | Comments (2) | Post a Comment (Sign-In Required)
Lower cost Landline Phone Service, Cell and Internet Options
City Council's action in November equalizing taxes on land line phone services highlighted the fact that customers have options in buying phone services. The City of Portland's Office for Community Technology manager, Mary Beth Henry, writes:
For more information from the Office for Community Technology, call 503-823-5385 during business hours.
December 30, 2012 | Comments (2) | Post a Comment (Sign-In Required)
NW Parking Plan - Proposed Amendments
Last Friday, Mayor Adams announced the City Council will hold a public hearing this coming Thursday, December 6 at 3 p.m., to consider the Recommended Northwest Parking Plan. The Recommended Plan including a map showing the proposed district boundaries and sub-areas, and the Mayor's filed Resolution and Ordinance to implement it, may be found here. The hearing will be held in City Hall, 1221 SW 4th Avenue.
In 2009, the City Council directed the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) to work with residents, business owners and employees, nonprofits, schools, and other stakeholders in NW Portland to propose strategies for managing parking in the area. The initial directive was to return to Council in fall 2009; that timeline was extended. The Recommended Plan was publshed early in 2012. Since then, I have considered input from many, many people concerned about the issues involved. It is clear that we can all agree on one conclusion -- that we don't all agree.
Based on the feedback I've heard, I am proposing amendments to the Recommended Plan that I hope will set a path to moving forward. I propose a phased approach, outlined here. If adopted, the first phase will include adding permit parking south of Lovejoy and west of 19th, and also establishing a Transportation Management Association (TMA). The TMA will include 17 voting members, with representation from a wide range of interests. Members will be nominated by stakeholder groups and appointed by the Commissioner in Charge of PBOT After each phase, the TMA must provide an evaluation and report to the PBOT Commissioner, who will send it to City Council. The recommendations may include changing the plan for the next phase. Any two members of Council can mandate a public hearing to consider the recommendation of the TMA for the next phase, before it is implemented.
I am proposing that the second phase, if recommended by the TMA and accepted by the PBOT Commissioner and Council, is permits in the rest of the district. The third phase, again subject to revisions by the TMA, PBOT Commissioner, and Council, is pay station meters in the commercial corridors of NW 21st and 23rd.
I am proposing that CLASS Academy be included in the district, so that their staff, parents and visitors qualify for all benefits. One of the member slots of the TMA is for a representative from the Metropolitan Learning Center (MLC) or CLASS Academny PTA, since these schools share the characteristic of attracting students from outside the NW area.
I am proposing all employees would be eligible to buy parking permits, rather than the proposal in the Recommended Plan which limits employee permits thus necessitating a bartering process.
The current Zone K, which is in the northwest edge of the parking district, is unchanged. Currently Zone L, near Burnside, has permit parking related to events at Jeld-Wen Field. I want to hear input on how far north the stadium-impact zone should be, in the proposed first phase.
The Mayor's proposed Organizational Framework for the Transportation Management Asociation, its charge and membership, is here. My proposed amendments to it, inserting the process for phased evaluation/reports/decisions, are shown in green strikethrough/underline.
I want to hear feedback on my proposed amendments, and I am open to suggestions for improvements. If your comments are extensive, please send by email to me.
December 1, 2012 | Comments (0) | Post a Comment (Sign-In Required)
Thankful for Street Roots, and local businesses
Happy Thanksgiving! I hope your day is going well. I feel blessed still further, after watching this video starring Street Roots vendor Raymond. Thankful that we live in the City of Roses, where people care about each other.
If your thoughts are turning to shopping, there are many worthy organizations offering thoughtful gifts that also give back to worthy causes in our community, at the Give!Guide web site. Remember, when you shop at locally owned businesses, your money helps support Portland's economy to a greater extent than if you buy from out-of-state corporations.
November 22, 2012 | Comments (0) | Post a Comment (Sign-In Required)
Feast for Southeast on Thanksgiving Day
Feast for Southeast is a grassroots organization providing a free Thanksgiving meal to people in the Southeast Portland community. They do not cater to any particular demographic group, rather they simply give people from all walks of life a chance to meet and -- through sharing a meal -- see each other for who we truly are: neighbors. This is their third year, and they plan to feed approximately 450 people.
From their web site:
"This meal is put together for the community, by the community and is about so much more than food...it's about service, compassion, change, and impact - truly neighbors loving and caring for one another.
This is an important service, providing an open holiday meal on Thanksgiving in outer Southeast Portland. I appreciate how much the organizers love Portland, and what they're doing to make Portland an even better place to live - everywhere.
Please help spread the word - the invitation is open, and everyone is welcome.
Dinner is at Mt. Scott Community Center, 5530 SE 72nd Avenue, from 2-4 pm on Thanksgiving Day.
Questions, or wanting to volunteer/donate? Please contact Director Louisa Lakos or visit the web site link, above.
November 20, 2012 | Comments (0) | Post a Comment (Sign-In Required)
Comments regarding Department of Justice Settlement Agreement
As a member of the City Council, I will be intensely involved in improving the outcomes when Portland Police officers interact with people experiencing mental illnesses, and in changing the dispatching protocols for the Bureau of Emergency Communications after changes in training and staffing of police crisis teams are made. In my unique position also being a retired Registered Nurse who worked for 22 years in inpatient psychiatry at OHSU, I will also work on coordination of community mental health care services, as they intersect with police officers' ongoing expectation of being first responders to crisis events in the community.
The proposed Agreement is here. It will be discussed at a public hearing in Council Chambers at 2 p.m. on Thursday, November 1.
My comments at the Press Conference announcing the Settlement with the US Department of Justice on their allegation that the Portland Police Bureau has engaged in unconstitutional use of force against people experiencing mental illnesses:
It is clear that while the County and the State are principally responsible for mental health care services, our police are often first responders to people experiencing mental illnesses in Portland, dispatched by the Bureau of Emergency Communications which I am in charge of.
For three years, I have been working with our community partners including MultnomahCounty, Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare, Central City Concern, Lifeworks, area hospitals, people with lived experience with mental illness and their advocates, and others to work toward a system of care that provides appropriate and sufficient services for people experiencing mental illness.
This work through Safer PDX, formerly known as the Bazelon Project, resulted in my recommendations for improvements to our regional system of crisis and community mental health care which I shared with the Mayor and the United States Department of Justice earlier this year.
The City’s agreement with the Department of Justice confirms the need for many changes in our City.
The agreement cites:
“The absence of a comprehensive community mental health infrastructure often shifts to law enforcement agencies throughoutOregonthe burden of being first responders to individuals in mental health crisis.”
I agree. This is the reality in which we must operate, and we must improve the outcomes for people experiencing mental illnesses.
** Having a core group of police officers who choose to receive supplemental training and are dispatched to all 911 calls related to people with mental illness, is a valuable step in the right direction.
** The ability for PPB officers and qualified mental health professionals to work together on crisis prevention for folks who our officers interact with frequently will help connect those who need mental health services with treatment.
** And careful, principled collaboration sharing information about individuals who police officers come into contact with will help us and our partners more effectively care for the most vulnerable people in our community.
I am particularly hopeful that we can begin implementing many of the changes called for in our crisis and community mental health systems through partnership with the regional Coordinated Care Organizations (CCOs) and MultnomahCounty immediately. We have a unique opportunity to truly fix our system and provide coordinated care.
In the agreement, the Department of Justice states its expectation that the regional CCOs will establish, by mid-2013, one or more drop-off centers for first responders and public walk-in centers for individuals with addictions and/or behavioral health service needs.
The City will work closely with crisis and community mental health providers to pursue the establishment of these services. We will also focus on how hospital emergency departments, community clinics or urgent care facilities admit highly acute individuals and focus care plans on appropriate discharge and community based treatment options.
The agreement notes, the City will participate on the mental health and addictions workgroups of the CCOs as well as review County Requests For Proposals for contracts for these services, to pursue the following improvements to the system:
** Increased sharing of information between agencies and organizations including the Bureau of Emergency Communications, Multnomah County, and health care providers to share information among first responders and providers to better serve people experiencing mental illness;
** The creation of rapid-access clinics so people in crisis have access to timely appointments for treatment and medications;
** Enhancing access to primary care providers for low-acuity patients, creating more capacity for acute patients in existing outpatient crisis mental health systems;
Pursuing the expansion of options and available capacity for 9-1-1 Operators to appropriately divert calls to qualified civilian mental health providers as first responders;
We have already initiated changes, and more will be forthcoming. Last month, we set up a new number for people to call when feeling suicidal, or their loved ones to call. That number is 503-97-23456. It goes to Lines for Life, formerly Oregon Partnership, where mental health care professionals and highly trained volunteers provide support over the phone. Last year, Lines for Life handled 19,000 crisis calls, and 98% of them were resolved on the phone with no need to dispatch anyone.
** Expanding and strengthening networks of Peer-provided services, such as NAMI Northstar and Folktime; and
** Addressing other unmet needs indentified by Safer PDX and its community partners.
I will continue to work to support the implementation of these provisions of the agreement. I believe they will help strengthen our system of care. I will also engage with the Office of Neighborhood Involvement and the Office of Equity and Human Rights in community oversight processes. The ongoing work must be transparent and accountable to everyone in the community.
October 26, 2012 | Comments (0) | Post a Comment (Sign-In Required)
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