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Welcome to Amanda's blog
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)
Cascade Aids Project walk
Cascade Aids Project raised over half a million dollars with the walk through downtown today. The Multnomah Youth Commission sponsored a team again, shown here in Pioneer Courthouse Square.
Photo by Marc Fernandes, staff for the Youth Commission from Multnomah County
Michael Kaplan, Executive Director of CAP, said on stage that early treatment when people are HIV positive is 96% successful in avoiding transmission of the virus to partners. People can live long, productive lives after HIV infection with access to treatment. The Walk is aimed at raising both money and awareness. Get tested! Get help! For more information, see Cascade Aids Project.
This was Michael Kaplan's fifth and final walk as Executive Director. He is moving to Washington D.C. after winning the position of President & CEO of AIDS United, a leading national organization focused on advocacy, grant making, and public policy. Thank you for your service to our community, Michael.
Michael Kaplan in red, with others invited on stage. Photo by Cameron Whitten.
September 23, 2012 | Comments (0) | Post a Comment (Sign-In Required)
Feeling suicidal? Don't call 9-1-1. Call 503-97-23456
Too many people die from suicide in Portland. It is the ninth highest cause of death in Oregon. And both people experiencing mental illnesses, and police officers responding to 9-1-1 calls, are endangered when police act as first responders in situations involving people in mental health crisis.
One effective solution to these problems: Make it easy for people feeling suicidal, and/or people worried about them, to talk with mental health care specialists 24/7/365.
Feeling suicidal? Don't call 9-1-1. Call 503 - 97 - 23456.
On Wednesday, the Portland City Council unanimously passed a Resolution establishing enhanced service by Lines for Life (formerly Oregon Partnership). Working with Mayor Adams and Lines for Life leader Judy Cushing, I led the agreement to fund and publicize the great work of this non-profit, and the new number. They take more than 19,000 calls per year, with 98% resolved by talking on the phone without the need to dispatch public safety officers. They provide follow-up care, calling back after a few hours to check on progress, then sending postcards regularly to give ongoing support. And they are suicide prevention experts.
The City's more care-ful approach also includes posting new signs on bridges that are often locations for people jumping to suicide. The one shown at the Council hearing (see this article in The Skanner) states, "We can help you cross this bridge" then gives the Lines for Life numbers. The national Suicide Prevention Hotline number still works in Portland, too - that is 800-SUICIDE. We are establishing the 503-97-23456 phone line with memorable numbers, in addition, to give people good choices.
Lines for Life also staffs the Military Help Line, and a teen peer counseling program. Family or friends concerned about loved ones who seem to be going through a rough time are also welcome to call. All these services are also accessed by calling 503 -97 - 23456.
Please pass this message along to everyone you know. Approximately 20% of Americans experience mental illness at some point in our lives, so someone you know may need to know this number now or in the future.
Feeling suicidal? Don't call 9-1-1. Call 503 - 97 - 23456.
For more information
September 20, 2012 | Comments (0) | Post a Comment (Sign-In Required)
Central City Concern Celebrates 40th Anniversary of Hooper Program
On Monday, September 10, 2012, the public is invited to attend a celebration of recovery at the Hooper 40th Anniversary from 4:30 to 7:00 p.m. at the Left Bank Annex, 101 N. Weidler Street. All are welcome. I will represent the City of Portland at the event; Lt. Robert King from the Portland Police Bureau, will also join the program. Free parking at the Garden Garage at the Rose Garden; public transportation is encouraged.
Alumni, staff, neighbors, and friends are welcome at the free celebration. Commemorative coins will be given to the first 400 people, attendees will be encouraged to document their clean date and guests will have the opportunity to share their Hooper story on video. In addition, Central City Concern will showcase 40 years of Hooper Center memorabilia and will honor Hooper Heroes, staff who have worked 20+ years in the program. In the photo below, a Central City Concern staffer assembles memorabilia and signage in preparation for the Hooper 40th Anniversary Celebration.
"Hooper" – known throughout the city as an entry point for drug and alcohol recovery – opened initially in October 1971 with support from a National Inebriate Grant. Two program areas make up "Hooper" – Sobering Station/CHIERS located in NE Portland and Hooper Detoxification Stabilization Center in North Portland near the Rose Quarter. CHIERS staff are medically-trained and authorized to transport intoxicated people to the 24-hour Sobering Station for a few hours as a safe place to sober up. The Sobering Station serves approximately 6,000 people yearly.
Hooper Detoxification Stabilization Center provides residential, medical detoxification and stabilization for individuals over a 4-10 day stay. More than 2,000 people (many of whom are homeless and without insurance) start their drug/alcohol recovery process at Hooper Detox every year. Once individuals exit Hooper Detox, staff work to connect them with ongoing recovery support and housing if needed.
The event, sponsored by the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, coincides with National Recovery Month promoted by the Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA); this year's theme for recovery month is "It's Worth It."
September 5, 2012 | Comments (0) | Post a Comment (Sign-In Required)
Recycling Facility Tour
The changes in the garbage and recycling services for residential customer continue to prompt spirited emails flowing into my inbox.
Last week, I visited Far West Fibers Inc., the facility where all of Portland’s recycling - including the contents of residential “blue bins” - goes for sorting. Since the implementation of curbside composting and every-other-week garbage pickup, Far West Fibers' east side location has seen a dramatic increase in the amount of trash and diapers contaminating residential recycling bins. This mixing is detrimental to Far West Fibers’ operations. All the contents of our blue bins race across a conveyor belt and individuals manually sort out non-recyclables. I was fascinated by how quickly the belt and their hands moved. It reminded me of the famous I Love Lucy Chocolate Factory episode.... except the amazingly skilled workers are picking out trash and dirty diapers, not candy.
I enjoyed the factory tour very much, and learned a great deal about recycling business operations. Seeing the process in action also helps me better understand and remember the rules of recycling. For example, I learned that the lids of plastic milk jugs can be recycled as long as they are screwed onto the rinsed-out jug. It is not necessary to remove labels from plastic, glass bottles, or metal cans. Rigid plastic frozen food containers are OK, but paper packaging that has been in the freezer goes in the garbage. It was also illustrative to see how plastic bags really do jam the machines, forcing them to stop everything and manually un-jam them every few hours.
Below is a picture of my very fashion-forward assistant, Milena, with President and CEO Keith Ristau, who was so kind to invite and take us on the tour.
Since curbside compost and every-other-week garbage pickup began last October, I have received both positive and negative feedback from Portlanders. I appreciate and consider all comments, and I am open to reconsidering or adjusting the program to make it work better for everybody. I have heard stories about neighbors offering space in half-full garbage bins when extra room is needed. I believe creative, neighborly solutions like these are the heart of what Portland is about.
August 3, 2012 | Comments (0) | Post a Comment (Sign-In Required)
The Big Float 2012
On Sunday, July 29th, I attended the second annual Big Float event on the Willamette River. Sponsored in part by the Office of Healthy Working Rivers along with founders the Willamette Riverkeepers and Popina Swimwear co-owner Will Levinson, The Big Float was created to encourage recreational use of the Willamette. The water in the area around the Hawthorne Bridge is safe for swimming, thanks to ratepayers' investment of $1.4 billion to end frequent Combined Sewer Overflows. Participants in The Big Float paddle on inner tubes or other sometimes-creative devices from the east side of the river to the west. In addition to offering a chance to cool off on a hot summer day, The Big Float featured a floating music barge, a pre-float parade, a Kids Activity Area provided by members of the Grand Ronde Tribe, an after-float party, and several other attractions.
Eric (shown) and Cindy hosted me on the river in their boat to help me count the participants in the attempt to break the Guinness World Record for number of people holding hands while floating on inner tubes. We had 492 in line, plus about another 100 in a second disconnected line. The world record is 550 all holding hands for 30 seconds, so next year we hope to break it if we can get everyone organized.
Thanks to Will Levinson the lead organizer of The Big Float, the Office of Healthy Working Rivers (sponsor, and Director Ann Beier participated), Eric, Cindy and boat-mates Dave and Laura, The Skanner/KBOO's Lisa Loving who helped with counting, and all 600+ who participated.
July 30, 2012 | Comments (0) | Post a Comment (Sign-In Required)
Golden Leaf Education Foundation Fundraiser
To celebrate my three children graduating from college, last year I sponsored the purchase of desks that were donated to Taing Krosaing Junior High School in Kompong Charm Province, Cambodia, through the Golden Leaf Education Foundation. The desks are shown in the photo below. I am amused to note the students look like they are at the end of a long day and seem ready for the bell to ring ... similar expressions to those my kids have displayed in school photos at times.
Photo provided by Sophorn Cheang at the Golden Leaf Education Foundation
The Golden Leaf Education Foundation will hold its third annual fundraising auction gala, "A Magical Night in Cambodia," on Saturday, August 4th, 2012 at the Scottish Rite Center (709 SW 15th Avenue) in Portland. All are welcome at this event - tickets may be purchased via the link above.
July 25, 2012 | Comments (0) | Post a Comment (Sign-In Required)
Honkin' Huge Burritos Day
At the beginning of this morning's City Council session, Mayor Adams declared July 18, 2012 to be "Honkin' Huge Burritos Day" in honor of the 20th anniversary of one of Portland's longest-operating food carts. The Proclamation was drafted by Milena Malone in my office.
Owner Shelly Sorenson (pictured below) is a native Portlander who attended Portland Public Schools, beginning at Chief Joseph Elementary and graduating with honors from Woodrow Wilson High School in 1981.
As a member of the Columbia River Girl Scouts for ten years, Shelly Sorenson learned the value of setting goals and serving others. She designed and created a business plan for her first vending cart at age 10.
In 1992, with the help of her mother and father, Shelly comined her passion for nutrition, customer service, and community-building and created Shelly’s Garden, a mobile food unit specializing in salads. The following year, after expanding its menu since salads didn't sell so well in the rain, 'Shelly's Garden Honkin’ Huge Burritos' found its current home at Pioneer Courthouse Square. Shelly cooks and sells from this cart, serving Portlanders and visitors from all walks of life, and she has built relationships lasting two decades.
The local food cart industry has grown in recent years, and today comprises more than 450 individual businesses and about 700 carts.
It is with great pride that we congratulate the owner-operator of one of our original food carts, which have transformed the food scene in Portland, on celebrating her 20th anniversary.
July 18, 2012 | Comments (0) | Post a Comment (Sign-In Required)
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