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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's Statement in Support of Auditor's Proposed Charter Amendments

January 25, 2017

Thank you Mayor.

We do our best work in the light of day, and we can never take public trust for granted.

During my 8 years on Council, we have adopted many important reforms to increase transparency and accountability.

   • We established a new oversight body for our public utilities, the Portland Utility Board.

   • We made it easier for people to appeal administrative decisions made by the City.

   • We created an independent budget office, accountable to the Council as a whole.

   • We restored the City’s Chief Financial Officer position, bringing back the independent guidance we need to make good decisions about taxpayer money.

   • And last year, we became the second city in the country to require Political Consultants to disclose their relationships with City Council members.

Today’s proposed Charter referral is yet another important reform, designed to protect the independence of the elected Auditor, the City’s watchdog.

I support the Auditor’s proposal for a number of reasons.

   • First, I agree we should update the charter to reflect the increase in responsibilities over the last 30 years.

   • Second, I strongly believe the Auditor should have the right to seek independent legal advice.

   • Third, I believe that the Auditor must have the freedom to issue tough audits without the fear of retaliation from the Council or City bureaus.

I have heard two basic arguments against referring this package to the May ballot.

   • First, that these changes can be accomplished through changes to our Code and not our Charter. While this has been the approach in some other cities, I believe that a Charter change provides an extra measure of protection going forward.

   • Second, some argue that this referral has been rushed, and that we should hold off until next year. While we should never refer a charter change that is not well considered, the Auditor has worked closely with the Council to answer questions, clarify details, and make reasonable changes. And today, I expect that my colleagues will have additional suggestions to strengthen the proposal. I actually have one of my own. That’s not unusual, and I see no reason for further delay.

The debate today should not be about whether strengthening the Auditor’s independence is a good idea.

Of course it is. 

On that question, there can be no debate.

If this proposal is referred to the voters and passes, successful implementation will depend on a high level of cooperation between the Auditor’s office, the City Council, bureau leadership and the public.

And that’s true of any Charter change.

Therefore, I am proposing an amendment which provides for public comment in the rulemaking phase assuming this is approved by the voters. It was suggested by the League of Women Voters – thank you Debbie Aiona – and has the support of the Auditor.

To our Auditor, thank you for the spirit of collaboration and the open mind you have brought to these conversations.

I look forward to the presentation, testimony, and discussion.

The Weekly Catch

Barney Frank Visits PSU

Barney Frank on Trump-era Politics

Emily Green in Street Roots

 

Barney Frank Speaks to Reporters in Portland

KGW News

 

Trump’s first week: Portlanders react to new policies

Andrew Dymburt and KOIN 6 News

Auditor’s Charter Proposal

Commissioner Fish's Statement in Support of Auditor's Proposed Charter Amendments

Nick Fish Blog

 

Portland's City Auditor is Pushing for More Freedom—And Asking Portlanders to Help

Dirk VanderHart in the Portland Mercury

 

Council postpones placing auditor's reform measure on ballot

Jim Redden in the Portland Tribune

Winter Weather

Surprising reason why Portland’s water mains break

Kohr Harlan and KOIN 6 News

 

Portland's cold weather causes water main breaks to spike

Jessica Floum in The Oregonian

Sanctuary City

'Sanctuary city' means Portland will remain welcoming to all (Opinion)

Mayor Ted Wheeler in The Oregonian

 

Cuts to 'Sanctuary Cities' Could Affect Portland Housing Funds

Amelia Templeton

 

Mayor Wheeler: Portland 'will resist' after Trump's crackdown on sanctuary cities

Sara Roth in KGW News

 

Portland would not be hurt much by Trump's 'sanctuary cities' budget cuts

Jim Redden in the Portland Tribune

In Other News

Everything You Need To Know about Lunar New Year in Portland

Matthew Korfhage in Willamette Week

 

Portland Aerial Tram marks its 10th anniversary

Elliot Njus in The Oregonian

Muslim Educational Trust Emergency Forum Tonight

February 1, 2017

Nick is proud to join many other community leaders tonight at an emergency forum hosted by the Muslim Educational Trust.

The purpose of the forum – Understanding Justice and Equality for All Through the Strength of Law and Compassion – is to discuss President Trump’s recent executive orders and express solidarity with Portland’s refugee and immigrant communities.

Find more information about the event here.

Council Refers Auditor's Proposal to Increase Independence to the Voters

February 1, 2017

Today, Council voted 5-0 to refer the City Auditor’s proposed Charter amendments to the May ballot.

Nick was proud to support this historic proposal, which strengthens the independence of the Auditor and will lead to a more transparent and accountable government. Nick’s statement from last week’s first hearing is below:

Thank you Mayor.

We do our best work in the light of day, and we can never take public trust for granted.

During my 8 years on Council, we have adopted many important reforms to increase transparency and accountability.

   • We established a new oversight body for our public utilities, the Portland Utility Board.

   • We made it easier for people to appeal administrative decisions made by the City.

   • We created an independent budget office, accountable to the Council as a whole.

   • We restored the City’s Chief Financial Officer position, bringing back the independent guidance we need to make good decisions about taxpayer money.

   • And last year, we became the second city in the country to require Political Consultants to disclose their relationships with City Council members.

Today’s proposed Charter referral is yet another important reform, designed to protect the independence of the elected Auditor, the City’s watchdog.

I support the Auditor’s proposal for a number of reasons.

   • First, I agree we should update the charter to reflect the increase in responsibilities over the last 30 years.

   • Second, I strongly believe the Auditor should have the right to seek independent legal advice.

   • Third, I believe that the Auditor must have the freedom to issue tough audits without the fear of retaliation from the Council or City bureaus.

I have heard two basic arguments against referring this package to the May ballot.

   • First, that these changes can be accomplished through changes to our Code and not our Charter. While this has been the approach in some other cities, I believe that a Charter change provides an extra measure of protection going forward.

   • Second, some argue that this referral has been rushed, and that we should hold off until next year. While we should never refer a charter change that is not well considered, the Auditor has worked closely with the Council to answer questions, clarify details, and make reasonable changes. And today, I expect that my colleagues will have additional suggestions to strengthen the proposal. I actually have one of my own. That’s not unusual, and I see no reason for further delay.

The debate today should not be about whether strengthening the Auditor’s independence is a good idea.

Of course it is. 

On that question, there can be no debate.

If this proposal is referred to the voters and passes, successful implementation will depend on a high level of cooperation between the Auditor’s office, the City Council, bureau leadership and the public.

And that’s true of any Charter change.

Therefore, I am proposing an amendment which provides for public comment in the rulemaking phase assuming this is approved by the voters. It was suggested by the League of Women Voters – thank you Debbie Aiona – and has the support of the Auditor.

To our Auditor, thank you for the spirit of collaboration and the open mind you have brought to these conversations.

I look forward to the presentation, testimony, and discussion.