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The City of Portland, Oregon

Nick Fish (In Memoriam)

City of Portland Commissioner

phone: 503-823-3589


1221 S.W. 4th, Room 240, Portland, OR 97204

The Weekly Catch

County steps up to housing state of emergency

Sandra McDonough in The Oregonian


Stakeholders Spar On Contracting Projects

Christen McCurdy in The Skanner


Oregon's road construction crews more diverse, but barriers remain for women, people of color

Casey Park in The Oregonian


PSU debuts 'Four Years Free' program for low-income students with good grades

Andrew Theen in The Oregonian


Housing growth? Not in my backyard

Nick Budnick in the Portland Tribune


'Made in America' for the 21st century (Opinion)

Prenny Pritzker in The Oregonian

A Fresh Look at Maintaining Portland's Water Supply (Opinion)

October 10, 2016

Nick Fish and Michael Stuhr in Sunday's edition of The Oregonian

Portlanders are justifiably proud of their drinking water. The Bull Run Watershed is the envy of the nation, storing 10 billion gallons of pristine water. The Portland Water Bureau delivers clean, safe and reliable water to almost 1 million people. And our abundant supply of water is, and will continue to be, one of our region's competitive advantages.

Water quality and safety have become high-profile issues for many Americans. From Salem to Newark, families are asking questions about lead in their drinking water. Locally, the Water Bureau is deeply committed to protecting public health and safety; we have been for a long time.

Here's how we know your water is safe.

First, we've never used lead service lines and don't have lead pipes in our distribution system.

Second, we are in compliance with all state and federal regulations, including the Lead and Copper Rule. We publish our water quality testing results in an annual water quality report, which is posted online at the Water Bureau website.

Third, we partner with the Multnomah County Health Department to monitor and protect public health. One of their roles is to test children for lead. In 15,000 tests conducted over the past three years, none of the 188 cases of elevated blood lead levels were attributed to water.

As a public health agency, we're always evaluating our system to see whether we can do more. Twenty years ago, City Council adopted the Lead Hazard Reduction Program. The goal: to reduce lead exposure from all sources in our community. Our approach includes free lead-test kits, community education, funding for lead paint removal in homes, and chemical treatment of our water.

Bull Run water is naturally "soft." That means when our water interacts with lead in bad pipes, faucets and sinks, they can corrode and potentially leach lead. That's why Congress has banned lead in solder and plumbing, and why we add sodium hydroxide to adjust the pH level of our water. This balanced approach has substantially reduced exposure to lead in drinking water. And in our semi-annual tests of Portland's highest-risk homes, lead levels have exceeded the EPA's action level only once since 2006.

Can we do more? With big changes underway in our system, including the decommissioning of our open-air reservoirs, we have an opportunity to take a fresh look at our treatment options.

In 2014, the bureau launched a corrosion study. Data from the study will provide us with the information we need to weigh options for potential changes to our water. When the study is completed, the Water Bureau will report the findings to its regulators at the Oregon Health Authority and the Environmental Protection Agency. Any recommendations to adjust the chemistry of our water will be submitted to the City Council for consideration in 2017.

This Tuesday, in a work session, the Water Bureau will brief the City Council on its work so far, and lay out a roadmap for future decision-making. The meeting at City Hall begins at 9:30 a.m. and is open to the public.

The Portland Water Bureau has delivered clean and safe water for over 100 years. We are proud to lead a team of professionals dedicated to public health and safety. As we make important decisions about the future of our Bull Run water, we will be guided by good science and Portland values.

Nick Fish is a Portland City Commissioner and Michael Stuhr is director of the Portland Water Bureau

Photo courtesy Steve Kucas

The Portland Building presents the third annual "Dia de los Muertos" Art Installation

October 11, 2016

The Portland Building’s art installation space is celebrating the dead with its third annual Dia de los Muertos installation. 

This month is Hispanic Heritage Month and artists from Unidos Latinos Americanos (ULA) will present a Dia de los Muertos altar that will be the central display of the exhibition – including various photos, objects, and favored food & drinks.

Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a holiday that remembers and celebrates loved ones that have passed on. Originated in Mexico, the holiday is now celebrated widely throughout Latin America, the US, and beyond.

The installation invites the public to join in on the celebration and remembrance by submitting images of their own loved ones who have passed. To submit a piece, email

The Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) sponsors the Installation Art Series. Selected through a juried process, each installation questions common perspectives through art. 

Check out RACC’s website for more information about the Installation Art Series.

Portland Building Installation Art Series

1120 SW 5th Avenue

October 19 – November 4

8 am – 5 pm

Photo courtesy of ULA

Commissioner Fish Statement on Police Contract

October 12, 2016

Let’s start with something we can all agree on: one of Council’s core responsibilities is to provide adequate funding for fire and police. The community expects nothing less.

And let me be clear about my values: the important work of police reform and accountability is essential to maintaining public trust, and is a core responsibility of this Council.

The people we serve expect us to invest in public safety. What does that mean? A prompt response to a 911 call. A firefighter and an ambulance when needed. A personal relationship with a cop—which is the heart of community policing.

And that explains why, during good times and bad, this Council has worked hard to protect public safety from budget cuts.

The debate over this proposed police contract has been charged. I have spent a lot of time listening to testimony, reading emails, and getting input from trusted friends and community leaders like Avel Gordly, Dr. T. Alan Bethel, and Speaker Tina Kotek.

They remind me that there is history in our community to be accounted for. There are lingering trust issues. And there are unfulfilled promises of justice and reform.

During my service on this Council, I have been proud to support important reforms and accountability measures. This includes the Department of Justice settlement, discipline of officers who engaged in misconduct, a new police training facility, and proposals to reform the Independent Police Review process.

Not long ago, I spent the night on patrol with officers from the Gang Enforcement Unit. I saw firsthand their professionalism and dedication. They did the right thing under difficult circumstances.

But they can’t do their job if we don’t support them.

The challenge before us is a staffing shortage that is reaching crisis proportions. 911 response times are now six minutes or longer, putting Portlanders at risk. Chief Marshman reports that officers cannot follow up on some 911 calls, such as thefts with no suspects, because they are responding to 35 percent more calls than four years ago. We have a shortage of 65 officers—and 21 more vacancies to come this month. And the trend only gets worse. Over the next five years, the Police Bureau anticipates nearly 400 retirements.

To address this problem, there are proposals on the table to cannibalize specialty units like Gang Enforcement and the Domestic Violence Reduction Unit to get more officers on the streets. This would do violence to the spirit and the letter of community policing. It’s unacceptable to me and to the people who depend on these important services.

This proposed contract isn’t perfect, but it makes progress in a number of areas:

  • Addressing the acute staffing shortage,
  • Making Portland Police salaries competitive to help us recruit and retain qualified officers,
  • Advancing our reform agenda by removing the 48-hour rule, and
  • Affirming the City’s right to discipline officers who engage in misconduct.

The proposed agreement is also significant for what is not in it. As the Mayor’s amendment makes clear, it does not establish a policy on body cameras, which must be negotiated separately and then brought back to Council for a public hearing and vote.

Three final observations.

First, I have reviewed Ted Wheeler’s 10-point plan for police reform. This contract addresses a number of the concerns he raises—while other issues can be addressed through Council or executive action.

Second, if we are to make this investment in new officers, and retaining experienced officers, we must seize the moment to advance our equity and diversity goals. At my request, the Mayor has pledged to hold a work session in November to outline his plan for making our police force more representative of the people they serve.

And finally, some have questioned the cost of this agreement. I am more concerned about the cost of doing nothing. The alternative to approving this contract is unacceptable to me. It could be years before we get a new contract. The 48-hour rule would still be in effect. And there’s no guarantee that we would get a better deal in the future.

I know that my vote today will disappoint some in our community. However, leaders are called upon to make the best decisions consistent with their values. This proposed contract supports two of my top priorities: supporting police reform and investing in public safety.

I vote aye.

The Weekly Catch

A fresh look at maintaining Portland's water supply (Opinion)

Nick Fish and Michael Stuhr in The Oregonian


Portland Water Bureau Operations Update

Council Work Session Video, October 11, 2016


Commissioner Fish Statement on Police Contract

Nick Fish Blog


Nick Fish: New PPB contract is right for Portland

Andrew Dymburt and KOIN 6 News


Portland City Council approves police contract amid unruly protest

Brad Schmidt in The Oregonian


City Says YES To New Police Contract, Activists Protest

KXL News


Protests Erupt Over Portland Police Contract

Nick McCann in Courthouse News Service


Portland still hasn't inked lease for Terminal 1 homeless shelter

Brad Schmidt in The Oregonian


‘Oregon Harbor of Hope’ may open in November

Emily Sinovic and KOIN 6 News Staff


Ron Wyden Discusses Encryption, Data Privacy and Security

Cecilia Kang in the New York Times


Experts share 5 ways to protect yourself during a big storm

Lizzy Acker in The Oregonian