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The City of Portland, Oregon

Nick Fish

Commissioner, City of Portland

phone: 503-823-3589

Email: nick@portlandoregon.gov

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

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Commissioner Fish announces groundbreaking new partnership with consumer advocate Citizens' Utility Board of Oregon

January 2, 2014

Today, Commissioner Fish announced a first-of-its-kind partnership between the City of Portland and the Citizens’ Utility Board of Oregon (CUB). Next Wednesday, January 8, the City Council will take up a Resolution, co-sponsored by Commissioners Nick Fish and Steve Novick, formally approving the agreement.

CUB, a public benefit non-profit, was created in 1984 by a citizens’ ballot initiative to represent the interests of residential utility customers state-wide.

The City of Portland provides sewer, stormwater, and water services to 180,000 customer accounts, almost 90% of which are residential.

In its three decades of service, CUB has been a leader in ratepayer advocacy, achieving an estimated savings of $5.8 billion for residential ratepayers across Oregon. CUB has a track record of successful advocacy for residential ratepayers across Oregon – older adults on fixed incomes, hardworking parents, young families just starting out.

During this proposed five-year partnership, CUB will provide outside, independent analysis of the operations and budgeting of the City’s two utility bureaus, the Bureau of Environmental Services (BES) and the Portland Water Bureau (PWB), and will make recommendations to the Council based on that analysis.

CUB will conduct extensive community outreach to key stakeholders, including neighborhood groups, commercial and large industrial customers, civic groups, and environmental organizations to identify issues that are important to ratepayers. CUB will then develop recommendations concerning the bureaus’ budgets, capital planning, and longer-term policy questions.

Commissioner Fish is committed to high standards of accountability and transparency in his bureaus, and we believe that sunshine leads to better decisions and outcomes.

To acknowledge and honor CUB’s independence, the City will not pay for this outside oversight. Instead, the City will publicize its partnership with CUB and ask Portland customers to consider joining the member-supported organization.

Portland City Council to consider giving independent watchdog group 'keys to kingdom' of city water, sewer bureaus

Andrew Theen in The Oregonian

Citizen Utility Board asked to review water and sewer bureaus

Jim Redden in the Portland Tribune

Friday Roundup

Portland City Council to consider giving independent watchdog group 'keys to kingdom' of city water, sewer bureaus 

Andrew Theen in The Oregonian

Portland considers giving group access to analyze water, sewer services

KATU News

Portland utilities OK watchdog access

Chris Woodard on KOIN

Another Set of Eyes on Portland's Controversial Water and Sewer Spending

Dirk Vanderhart in The Portland Mercury

The Portland Building needs $95 million overhaul to fix structural problems, water damage

Brad Schmidt in The Oregonian

Utility advocate could assume huge Portland water management role

Andy Giegerich in the Portland Business Journal

Citizen Utility Board asked to review water and sewer bureaus

Jim Redden in the Portland Tribune

Charlie Hales: What others said about the Portland mayor's performance in 2013

Andrew Theen in The Oregonian

Elders in Action helps older adults fight scams

January 6, 2014

On Friday, KGW News highlighted an increase in telephone and email scams aimed toward older adults in our community.

Scammers pose as family members, businesses, and even utility companies to steal money from people. Unfortunately, the scams are becoming more sophisticated – and many older adults don’t realize they are victims until it’s too late.

Nick is proud to serve as City Council Liaison to Elders in Action, a mission-driven nonprofit focused on creating a vibrant community with active and engaged older adults.

Elders in Action volunteers have been hard at work, educating seniors in our community about possible scams, how to avoid them, and what to do if they become victims. Executive Director Leslie Foren and her staff regularly meet with the Department of Justice and local law enforcement to rally together against these scams.

As more Baby Boomers reach retirement years, scams aimed at seniors are likely to continue. We want our community to be a place where our aging population feels safe and secure. In October 2013, Portland adopted an Action Plan for an Age-Friendly Portland – a plan which will help our community better prepare for an aging population and the unique challenges they face. The Plan outlines goals and action areas to ensure our older adults are respected, involved, and receive quality care and services.

Special thanks to KGW for highlighting this growing problem, and to Elders in Action for advocating for our seniors. Learn more about Elders in Action by visiting their website, or calling (503) 238-5474.

Con artists increase their scams on seniors

Wayne Havrelly, KGW News

BES publishes new Stormwater Management Manual

January 7, 2014

The City’s Bureau of Environmental Services has published an updated Stormwater Management Manual. The manual creates a guideline to help manage stormwater at development and improvement project sites in our community.

Previously updated in 2008, the manual teaches developers and property owners how to reduce the effects of stormwater runoff to help protect watershed health, water quality in rivers and streams, and groundwater as a drinking water source.

Stormwater management tools can include landscaped swales, stormwater planters, vegetative filters, and landscape or underground infiltration.

Thanks to Portland’s robust environmental programs and investments in our sewer infrastructure, our local waterways are cleaner and safer for people and fish.

The 2014 Stormwater Management Manual is available online: www.portlandoregon.gov/bes/SWMM. Free CDs with the manual are available at the Development Services Center (1900 SW 4th Avenue) or by calling (503) 823-7103.

Citizens' Utility Board of Oregon

January 8, 2014

This morning, Commissioner Steve Novick and I asked City Council to support an unprecedented new partnership with the Citizens’ Utility Board of Oregon (CUB). City Council supported our Resolution by a vote of 4-0.

Commissioner Novick first raised the idea of working with CUB last spring, after his brief tenure as Commissioner in charge of the Portland Water Bureau.

Six months ago, when Mayor Hales assigned me the City’s two utility bureaus – the Bureau of Environmental Services and the Portland Water Bureau – I invited CUB to consider providing outside, independent analysis of the City’s utilities and to advocate for Portland’s residential ratepayers.

This action is consistent with two of my priorities: strengthen accountability and transparency, and stabilize rates.

CUB, a public benefit non-profit, was created in 1984 by a citizens’ ballot initiative to represent the interests of residential ratepayers statewide. For 30 years, CUB has been a leader in ratepayer advocacy, achieving an estimated savings of $5.8 billion for residential ratepayers across Oregon. This is the first time that CUB has agreed to a new role of public utility oversight.

Our agreement with CUB is simple: we have asked them to act as a consumer watchdog on behalf of residential ratepayers. We will provide CUB with the documents, people, and information they need to do their analysis, and when they have recommendations, we will publicize their suggestions so that the Council and the public have a chance to discuss and consider their proposals.

Best of all, this additional oversight has no cost to Portland ratepayers – instead, we will publicize our partnership with CUB and let Portland utility customers know they can join CUB as members.

I am grateful to my colleague Steve Novick, and to CUB, for this bold new partnership.

Portland City Council approves deal to bring in Citizens' Utility Board of Oregon as watchdog for water, sewer bureaus

Andrew Theen in The Oregonian
Utility advocate could assume huge Portland water management role
Andy Giegerich in the Portland Business Journal