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Welcome to Amanda's blog
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 Oregon has spent $63 million of the funds it has withdrawn, mostly in the form of no-interest loans to help unemployed homeowners make their mortgage payments, according to state housing officials.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)
City Budget Office, Next Steps
Last Friday, I announced my proposal to form a City Budget Office, moving financial planning staff out of the Bureau of Financial Services where they are now housed within the Office of Management and Finance. As I noted in this post, this is a significant change to the City’s internal structure, and as such deserves thoughtful and inclusive consideration.
I am thrilled with the level of interest in this proposal since Friday. As I hoped, putting it on the Council Agenda has attracted more community members into the review and discussion of the problems and proposed solutions. Some Portlanders want more information about what I have proposed, others have suggestions for alternative mechanisms to achieve the goals of transparency, accountability, and improving good governance within the commission structure of Council. I have heard support for the concept both inside City Hall and from others, like this Oregonian Editorial. I have also listened to folks who want more time and details prior to full Council review and decision-making.
To summarize, the proposal would move 12 staff out of the Bureau of Financial Services in the Office of Management and Finance, and assign them to work within Financial Planning's existing $1.7m budget to form a new City Budget Office, directly accountable to all elected officials.
The remaining 646 staff, five bureaus, and $449 million budget for administrative functions of the City would continue to be under the direction of the Chief Administrative Officer in the Office of Management and Finance.
Instead of holding the public hearing on Wednesday with brief testimony from citizens, I asked for the item to be returned to my office, so that more Portlanders have time to consider it and have opportunities to give meaningful input and discussion. Office of Management and Finance Director Jack Graham will work with me so that we can make the best decisions concerning this new proposal, as we move forward together.
To receive email notification of public meetings and ways to give/receive input on this project, please contact Tim Crail at 503-823-3988.
October 23, 2012 | Comments (0) | Post a Comment (Sign-In Required)
OHSU Magnet Celebration
Wednesday, October 17 was "Portland Celebrates OHSU Magnet Status Day", per proclamation of Mayor Adams. I read the announcement in Council Chambers, where the Proclamation was accepted by Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) nurses Sharon Dunham and Basilia Basin.
Photo by Karla Moore-Love
For more information on OHSU Magnet status, what it means and what it took to achieve it, see here. Shared commitment to seek Magnet status was one of the outcomes of the OHSU Nurses strike, in which I was active from December 17. 2001 to February 13, 2002 -- 56 days that changed my life. See here for comments on the strike, on the community blog I started in December 2006.
Later last Wednesday, I attended the OHSU Nurses' celebration at Doernbecher Hospital, and read the Proclamation again.
Photo by Sharon Dunham
I was particularly impressed with the poster from 1NW, where I worked for 22 years in Inpatient Psychiatry. From their exhibit:
Being part of the Magnet celebration as both a former OHSU nurse and current City Commissioner was a joyful experience for me. Nurses rock!
October 21, 2012 | Comments (0) | Post a Comment (Sign-In Required)
City Budget Office proposal
On Wednesday 10/24/12 in the morning session, City Council will take public testimony and consider my proposal to create a City Budget Office. If approved, the City’s Financial Planning Division, currently within the Bureau of Financial Services within the Office of Management and Finance, will become an independent office reporting directly to the Mayor and all Commissioners.
This new structure will have minimal impact on the cost of budgeting, while potentially saving millions through better decision-making by Council.
It is a significant reform to our internal City structure, which will improve our budgeting process and lead to better, more accountable spending decisions.
Under our Commission form of government, every member of Council has both executive and legislative responsibilities. Elected officials will make better decisions when we receive direct assistance and information from independent budget analysts.
The proposal includes hiring three utility experts, who will monitor Portland’s utility bureaus throughout the year and make recommendations about utility rates, contracts, and capital expenditures. These positions will be funded by the utility bureaus within existing resources. This concept was discussed during the 2011 Charter Commission’s consideration of an Independent Utility Commission. It will provide more expert oversight of rates and performance.
I look forward to the conversation at the public hearing on Wednesday, October 24th regarding my proposal. I encourage you to read the ordinance and proposed implementation Code. Depending on public testimony and Council direction at the hearing on Wednesday, I may delay the vote to allow for deeper discussion of the initiative. This is a significant change to the City’s internal structure, and as such deserves thoughtful and inclusive consideration.
For more information, please contact Tim Crail at 503-823-3988.
October 19, 2012 | Comments (0) | Post a Comment (Sign-In Required)
City moves further into the 21st Century
The City of Portland took another big step forward in creating better customer service systems on Wednesday, October 10, when the Council unanimously passed my Resolution agreeing to work to establish a one-call-does-it-all 3-1-1 non-emergency number and process. The Resolution is posted here. The action items are:
* City leadership will support a citywide effort to look at current service delivery efforts and how these efforts could be improved with the implementation of a 311 and common customer relationship management system;
* The Bureau of Emergency Communications and Commissioner Fritz will form a citywide advisory committee, made up of staff and community members, to ensure that City bureaus’ needs and concerns, as well as those of the community at large, are addressed;
* The citywide advisory committee will work with the 311 steering committee and the consultant in devising an implementation plan that ensures a successful organization wide implementation;
* The City will learn from best practices of those cities that have already implemented 311 systems while tailoring our approach to the individual needs of our city and its community members
In other words, we're not going to re-invent the wheel, and we want community members to be integral to planning and implementing the system that is responsive to community needs. If you're interested in volunteering, please contact Tim Crail.
I am very pleased the entire Council supports implementing 3-1-1. Mayor Adams had to miss the vote, but is solidly in favor. Like establishing the Office of Equity and Human Rights and carrying out its mission, the 3-1-1 system development and implementation will require active participation by all members of Council and by every bureau to create a successful, efficient and responsive service. The 3-1-1 project is another strategy to make the Commission form of government work better for everyone.
October 12, 2012 | Comments (0) | Post a Comment (Sign-In Required)
Sunday Parkways in East Portland
Beautiful weather and a great route for Sunday Parkways in East Portland yesterday. It seemed to me that there were fewer riders from nearby neighborhoods, though, compared with 2010 when the Parkways event was in conjunction with the East Portland Expo. I will be interested to hear from East Portland residents and businesses on preferences for timing of next year's events. Both festivities showcase the beauty of East Portland and its diverse communities, and I always enjoy attending whether they are held on the same day or two different ones.
East Portland Expo, photograph courtesy of Event Coordinator Mark White
October 1, 2012 | Comments (0) | Post a Comment (Sign-In Required)
Transit Tickets for Oct 3 Stand Down Day for Veterans
Each year, Central City Concern partners with the Department of Veterans Affairs, Returning Veterans Project, Oregon Paralyzed Veterans of America and WorkSource Oregon and other community organizations to produce a free event that brings dozens of employers and agencies together to assist ALL Veterans. Last year, nearly 800 Veterans attended, visting with more than 50 potential employers and 70 service providers to offer FREE services for veterans in the Stand Down Day Job Fair.
This year's event will be held this coming Wednesday, October 3, at the Oregon Convention Center.
In previous years, veterans living downtown (either in housing or outdoors) were able to use the Free Rail zone to get to the event. TriMet has ended that program, and does not make exceptions on requiring fares for all passengers. Central City Concern is providing tickets for their clients, but some veterans may not have access. In order to ensure every veteran has transportation to this important event, I will give TriMet tickets to any veteran who needs one (or two, depending on how long you plan to stay at the Fair) for October 3. Veterans are warmly invited to stop by the Office of Neighborhood Involvement on the first floor of City Hall, 1221 SW 4th Avenue. Show the friendly staff in ONI your military ID, and ask for one or two tickets as needed.
Thank you for serving, veterans.
September 25, 2012 | Comments (0) | Post a Comment (Sign-In Required)
Statement on Appeal of Frashour ruling
Aaron Campbell's family deserves that the City Council pushes for justice in every arena. The Employment Relations Board made clear in their decision that they are limited by court precedent in their interpretation of state statutes. While I am not surprised by the decision ordering the reinstatement of Officer Frashour, I am deeply disappointed.
Unless I hear new reasoning at the public hearing to decide whether the City should appeal, I believe we must take the next step to ask the Court of Appeals to look at the unique facts of the Frashour case, and ask the Court to overturn the decision of the ERB. I have also suggested to Mayor Adams that we ask the 2013 Legislature to amend any statutes that are not clear and reasonable, so everyone understands the lines of accountability and responsibility.
September 26, 2012 | Comments (0) | Post a Comment (Sign-In Required)
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