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Commissioner Steve Novick

Official Website for Commissioner Steve Novick

Phone: 503-823-4682

fax: 503-823-4019

1221 SW 4th Ave. Suite 210, Portland, OR 97204

Come have your say about taxi service, safety measures for Uber, Lyft & other taxi companies Feb. 26

  • How’s taxi service in Portland?
  • What safety measures do we need for Uber, Lyft, taxis and other transportation companies?
  • What consumer protections do we need?

The taxi industry faces growing challenges to meet the needs of consumers and adapt to new technology. Accessible, reliable and safe for-hire transportation options are an important part of Portland's transportation network.

Commissioner Steve Novick convened an Innovation Task Force to help modernize the for-hire rules of the road. Come meet the task force and share your ideas and experiences with private for-hire transportation. 

We want to hear from you about how Portland can improve taxi and other for-hire transportation service:

PDX Rides Community Forum
Thursday, February 26, 2015  |  6 - 8:30 p.m.  
Portland Building, Second Floor
1120 SW Fifth Ave.

Lincoln on Government

by Steve Novick-- The following is adapted from a piece of mine that the Register-Guard was kind enough to print a few years ago:

Abraham Lincoln is, of course, best known as the first Presidential candidate to win Oregon. (As you know, we became a state in 1859 – and we made the right choice.) Then of course there was that whole business of freeing the slaves and winning the Civil War. But Abraham Lincoln should also be remembered as one of America’s most eloquent explainers and defenders of the role of government.

In a July 1854 essay, Lincoln wrote:

“Why … should we have government? Why not each individual take to himself the whole fruit of his labor, without having any of it taxed away?” He answered his own question: “The legitimate object of government, is to do for the people whatever they need to have done, but which they can not do, at all, or can not do, so well, for themselves – in their separate and individual capacities … There are many such things … roads, bridges and the like; providing for the helpless young and afflicted; common schools … the criminal and civil [justice] departments.”
In the same essay, Lincoln made this observation: “The best framed and best administered governments are necessarily expensive.” In other words: in government, as in life, you get what you pay for. That seemed obvious to Lincoln – but today, most supporters of government services would probably be too scared to be that blunt.

Lincoln’s views on taxation were somewhat out of sync with modern Republicanism; he thought that the wealthier members of society should pay a good deal of the cost of government. As President he enacted a progressive income tax. As an Illinois state legislator in 1839, he defended a proposed tax increase this way: “I believe it can be sustained, as it does not increase the tax upon the ‘many poor,’ but upon the ‘wealthy few.’”

He added, with a touch of mischief:

“The wealthy can not justly complain, because the change is equitable … If, however, the wealthy should, regardless of the justness of the complaint, as men often are, when interest is involved, complain of the change, it is still to be remembered, that they are not sufficiently numerous to carry the elections.”
Smart guy, that Lincoln.

Originally posted on on Feb. 12, 2009

Photo credit: Smithsonian

New regional organization launched to prepare Portland-Vancouver area for earthquakes, other disasters

Several local and regional governments in the Portland-Vancouver metropolitan region formally launched a new public-private-non-profit organization devoted to creating a secure and disaster-resilient region. Known as the Regional Disaster Preparedness Organization, or “RDPO” for short, participants include the City of Portland, Clackamas, Clark, Columbia, Multnomah, and Washington counties, Metro, Port of Portland, and TriMet along with other cities and special districts in the region.

The RDPO offers a venue to bring together elected leaders, public safety officials, emergency responders, planners, and the wider community to work toward a shared goal of making the region more prepared for a disaster, including a major Cascadia earthquake. Initially formed in 2012, the RDPO became official this January when TriMet, the group’s eighth and final core funding partner, voted to ratify the agreement. More than a dozen other local jurisdictions, along with several private and non-profit sector organizations, are also expected to formally join the RDPO in 2015.

“We live in a region with many interdependencies, including our hospitals, telecommunications and transportation systems. As was evidenced during the 1996 Oregon floods and the 2007 Vernonia flood, disaster response and recovery requires coordination of many partners,” said Tony Hyde, RDPO Policy Committee Chair and Columbia County Commissioner.

“A few years ago, local governments and private and non-profit sector partners saw a critical need to unify existing preparedness efforts,” said Hyde. “The formal adoption of the RDPO demonstrates our shared commitment to work as a region to make this happen.”

RDPO members coordinate by participating on committees, work groups, and task forces established to discuss broad policy topics and specific preparedness issues, setting funding priorities for the regional use of federal homeland security grant funds, developing plans, offering trainings, and conducting emergency drills.

“The work isn’t flashy, but it’s vitally important toward getting us ready for the hazards we know will affect us in the future,” said Denise Barrett, RDPO Manager. “The RDPO has already achieved several major successes, including bringing together fire, law enforcement and other public safety agencies throughout the region to agree on a plan on how they would coordinate in the event of a major disaster.”

More information on the RDPO can be found at

ATTACHMENT: RDPO Background Document

FY 2015-16 Requested Budget: Portland Bureau of Transportation

As you are aware, the Portland Bureau of Transportation has, since the late 1980s, been facing constrained resources available for basic maintenance of the streets, sidewalks, roads, bridges and bike lanes that residents use every day. As inflation continues to erode the purchasing power of PBOT’s discretionary funds, the community rightly demands more access to public transit, safer routes for biking and walking, more comfortable routes for seniors to reach services and more preventive maintenance of the pavement system that comprises the City’s largest asset. Mayor Hales and I started the Our Streets PDX community conversation last year to try to find a new funding source that would provide on-going dollars for critical maintenance and safety needs. That conversation led to the Portland Street Fund proposal last fall and will continue with the State Legislature this spring and with the community later this year. As the Mayor said in his State of the City address, we hope for action from Congress and the state Legislature, but regardless of what they do, the needs are great enough that Portland will still have to find a new way to fund our local transportation needs.

In this light, PBOT is requesting $30.1 million in General Fund additions. Here is a description of each, in order of priority:

PBOT has submitted two general fund requests in the budget document that benefit assets and infrastructure. The first is a request for funding maintenance and safety projects as identified through the Our Streets effort, and the second is a request for funding through the existing asset maintenance and replacement program. Those details are READ FULL BUDGET REQUEST

FY 2015-16 Requested Budget: Bureau of Emergency Communications

I respectfully submit the Bureau of Emergency Communications (BOEC) FY 2015-16 Requested Budget for your consideration. We have developed this budget as a stability budget with decision packages essential for ensuring the bureau has the resources it needs to answer 9-1-1 calls and dispatch an appropriate response.

BOEC’s job is immense. In 2013, BOEC answered 913,063 calls, including 395,792 9-1-1 calls. Seconds count when a crime is happening, when fire is beginning to spread, or when someone is experiencing a cardiac arrest. So, BOEC’s goal is to answer 99% of 9-1-1 calls within 60 seconds, and the Bureau tracks the percentage of those calls answered within 2 seconds, 20 seconds, 60 seconds, and 120 seconds. Investing in a timely and effective 9-1-1 response is often the best way to improve total response times to these emergency incidents.

The Bureau’s front line staff, generally, are fully trained and certified both as calltakers and dispatchers, and the Bureau uses a model that moves staff from one role to another throughout their shifts. When the Bureau’s staffing level dips, there is a cascade of effects, including delays in answering and dispatching 9-1-1 calls, increased use of mandatory and voluntary overtime, and declining staff morale. Since new recruits require a minimum of 18 months to train fully and the nature of the work makes retaining those new recruits challenging, it takes time for the Bureau to recover from a staffing dip.

Currently, the bureau has 79 certified dispatchers, 8 certified calltakers, and 14 trainees. These levels are low by historical standards because the Bureau continues to recover from a staffing freeze implemented from fall 2010 through spring 2011 in order to train existing staff on the new READ FULL BUDGET REQUEST