I am pleased to share my 2016 mid-year report with you.
The first six-months of 2016 have been marked by big changes, more senseless gun violence, and progress on many fronts. We elected a new Mayor, Ted Wheeler. I am looking forward to serving with him. We witnessed a terrible mass shooting in Orlando, targeting the LGBTQ community. Portland responded with love, not hate. And we are moving forward on many issues you and I care about.
A Balanced Budget
The Council passed a balanced budget for 2016-2017. It reflects my values—with significant new investments in affordable housing and homeless services, neighborhood small businesses, public safety, and safe streets and sidewalks. (I opposed raising new business taxes because we continue to enjoy healthy budget surpluses.)
Stabilizing Water and Sewer Rates
As Commissioner-in-Charge of our public utilities (Environmental Services and the Water Bureau), I once again directed my bureaus to keep the combined rate increase under 5%. Working with our partners at the Portland Utility Board (PUB) and the Citizens’ Utility Board of Oregon (CUB), both bureaus delivered.
We continue to focus on providing good value to our ratepayers and investing in basic services like replacing old pipes and preparing for the “Big One.” For example, we are moving forward with plans to fortify the Washington Park Reservoirs, which serve water to the west side of the city, including hospitals, homes and businesses.
And, we are moving forward with the sale of BES' "Terminal 1" property, 14 acres of Prime Industrial land along the river in Northwest Portland - and a key part of our family-wage jobs forecast for the next 20 years.
More Sunshine at City Hall
I sponsored new ethics reforms, designed to strengthen transparency at City Hall. Portland is now the second city in the nation to require “political consultants” to register and disclose their activities.
And I co-sponsored the independent City Auditor's legislation to close the revolving door loophole and make it easier for the public to review elected officials' calendars.
We made progress implementing the all-user restroom policy I sponsored in the fall. Our initial goal is to expand choice and options for everyone by converting about 600 single-stall restrooms to all-user restrooms by September.
An Age-Friendly Portland
I secured new funding to support the important work PSU’s Institute on Aging is doing to implement our Age-Friendly Plan, participated in a Q&A with AARP, attended a forum at Terwilliger Plaza, and spoke at the annual awards dinner for Elders in Action.
Celebrating the Arts
As Arts Commissioner, I participated in a City Club of Portland Friday Forum, "Are the Arts Getting Squeezed Out?"; was interviewed by Jessica Rand of KMHD Jazz Radio about living "A Jazz Life"; and spoke at the inaugural Vanport Mosaic Festival, commemorating the 68th Anniversary of the Vanport flood.
Recently I played a small role in “The Skin of our Teeth” at the ART and visited Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts in Pendleton, which showcases the work of Native American artists like James Lavadour and Rick Bartow.
And I was honored to receive the "Angel Award" from my friends Walter Jaffe and Paul King of White Bird. Their Nest program allows low-income families to experience the joy of modern dance.
Supporting Small Business
We celebrated the 30th birthday of Venture Portland, which advocates for our 50 neighborhood business districts. And, working with our partners, we secured additional funding for the East Portland Pilot Project, to build capacity in emerging Eastside business districts.
A Blueprint for Portland's Future
The Council completed work on the Comprehensive Plan, which will guide the growth of our city for the next 20 years. I am particularly pleased with the focus on housing affordability.
In June, I voted to refer a ballot measure asking our community to support a bond to fund development of new affordable homes. This will be a powerful new tool to address the housing and homelessness crisis facing our community, and I will be actively campaigning for it.
I wrote about what "Home" means to me for the Upper Left Edge, and “What I Learned About Health and Fitness from a Champion Bodybuilder" in the Lund Report.
My family spent the last year in Europe. This spring, I visited Patricia, Chapin and Maria in Cordoba, Spain, where we watched Chapin play soccer for his club team. He was named captain, and his team won! And Maria wrapped up a year on a Fulbright in Andorra. So proud of them.
The volunteers with Elders in Action who serve as Personal Advocates for vulnerable older adults. They epitomize the "Spirit of Portland."
As always, it’s an honor to serve you on the City Council, to work with the talented professionals at our public utilities, and to partner with Venture Portland, the Regional Arts & Culture Council, Elders in Action, and Regional Solutions.
Thanks for all you do for our community!