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