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The City of Portland, Oregon

Auditor Mary Hull Caballero

Promoting open and accountable government

We're hiring a complaint investigator

Apply online by August 23!

The City Auditor's Office is seeking an impartial public servant to listen to community members who believe an interaction with a Portland Police Officer was improper, develop facts related to their allegations, and recommend to Police Bureau officials whether disciplinary action is warranted.
 
This Complaint Investigator position is one of eight in the Auditor's Independent Police Review (IPR) division, which forms the foundation of the City's civilian police accountability system. IPR reports to the elected City Auditor, who is independent of the Mayor and City Commissioners. This structure is critical to ensuring that police misconduct complaints receive the appropriate investigative resources before the Chief and Police Commissioner make their final decisions about an officer's conduct or cases are closed for insufficient evidence.
 
IPR is the central intake location for misconduct complaints. IPR conducts investigations and monitors all cases investigated by the Police Bureau's Internal Affairs unit. IPR and Internal Affairs share investigative responsibilities. IPR generally investigates misconduct complaints involving high-ranking officers; vulnerable populations, such as children or people experiencing homelessness; and large events, such as street protests.
 
Responsibilities of the Complaint Investigator I include...Keep reading! 

Commitments missed in Fixing Our Streets program

Street being repavedPortland City Council did not fulfill some commitments it made when it asked voters to approve a local gas tax to fund the Fixing our Streets Program, according to an audit released May 19, 2019.

Portland voters narrowly approved a temporary gas tax in May 2016 to fund a Bureau of Transportation program dedicated to street repair and traffic safety. Council passed a separate tax on heavy vehicles to help ensure that all vehicle owners funded the program.

Two years into the program, we assessed how the Bureau is delivering on the Fixing our Streets program and accountability commitments. While projects were consistent with those promised to voters, most were behind the schedules that the Bureau set after the tax passed. Tax revenues from heavy vehicle owners were below the amount that experts said was needed to fund their share of the program. Many of the other accountability commitments were not fulfilled.

The audit recommends the Bureau make changes to improve program oversight and meet public expectations. Responses from Commissioner Eudaly and the Bureau of Transportation are included in the report

--Performance Auditor III Jennifer Scott

Long-term sustainability of Golf Program in question

Map of City golf courses

Portland Parks and Recreation should present alternatives to City Council to determine the future direction of the golf program and improve its contract management, according to an audit released May 23, 2019.

Intended to be self-supporting, the golf program required an infusion of $800,000 of taxpayer funds in 2017 to remain solvent. While Parks has taken steps to cut costs and increase the number of golfers, it is fighting a national trend of a sport in decline and past ineffective program management.
Many of the factors that led to the funding shortfall in 2017 remain in place.

To ensure the golf program is viable for the long term, we recommend that Parks and Recreation:
• Present alternative financial forecast scenarios to City Council for direction
• Negotiate contracts to reflect current conditions
• Increase contract monitoring to ensure provisions are followed
• Present contracts to City Council for approval and renewal.

Response from Portland Parks and Recreation is included in the report.

-- Performance Auditor II Bob MacKay

Cannabis tax spending decisions not transparent

 

The City should improve the transparency and accountability of its recreational cannabis tax revenue, according to an audit released May 2, 2019, by City Auditor Mary Hull Caballero.

Oregon voters legalized the possession and sale of recreational cannabis in November 2014, and in November 2016, Portland voters approved a 3 percent local sales tax. The ballot measure specified the tax revenue should be used in three categories, drug and alcohol programs, public safety, and support for small businesses.

The categories are intentionally broad, to meet changing community needs. The tax was promoted as funds that would benefit and support individuals and cannabis businesses owners that were adversely impacted when cannabis was illegal. Council established expectations that community members would be involved in allocation decisions, and there would be a link between the source and use of the tax.

Since that time, most of the taxes collected have been used for police and transportation programs. While the uses are allowed under the ballot measure, community members, cannabis businesses, or others impacted by past cannabis policies have not been involved in the budget decisions, and the City has not reported on how it’s used the tax revenues.

The audit recommends the City improve the transparency of tax allocation decisions and results and ensure an effective distribution of cannabis grants. Response from Commissioner Eudaly and the Office of Community & Civic Life is included in the report.

Find a one-page summary here and the full report here.

--Performance Auditor II Alexandra Fercak

Ombudsman's Year in Review: 2018

Former Mayor Vera Katz

This year our cover is a playful tribute to the late Mayor Vera Katz, who started the ombudsman program in her office in 1993. In the quarter century since, the ombudsman program has gradually gained more authority, access and structural independence, culminating with voters enshrining it in City Charter in 2017.

With our independence secured, we continued watch-dogging City bureaus on behalf of the public in 2018. Demand for our services has grown in each of the last four years, but we know there are many community members still unaware of the service we provide. We are currently developing a new outreach plan to increase awareness of use of our services, particularly by Portland’s historically underserved communities.

More than 20 percent of complaints in 2018 were about the Bureau of Transportation, and ranged from concerns about development charges, car camping and sidewalk repair. We worked to resolve the problems community members raised through information, facilitation and investigation. We sometimes had occasion to make recommendations for a bureau to take corrective action or change policy. Bureaus accepted nearly all of our recommendations in 2018, and financial savings to complainants topped $156,000. To see how we resolved specific cases check out our case examples page here.   

-- City Ombudsman Margie Sollinger