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The City of Portland, Oregon

Office of Equity and Human Rights

Realizing Equity. Enhancing the City of Portland.

Phone: 503-823-4433

Fax: 503-823-4420

421 SW 6th Avenue, Suite 500, Portland, OR 97204

More Contact Info

April 13, 2012

Portland Commission on Disability


Friday, April 13, 2012

10:00 am – 1:00 pm


Portland Building: 2nd Floor, Conference Room C

1220 SW Fifth Avenue, Portland, OR 97204

Commissioners Present:

Amy Anderson               Steven Brown                 Jan Campbell

Christina Cooper             Alan DeLa Torre              Eli Ettinger

Sophie Goddyn               Jewls Harris                    Lavaun Heaster

Jim Jackson                   Nicholas Johnson             Adam Kriss

Chris Logan                   Phyllis Petteys                 Martha Simpson

Suzanne Stahl                Michael Szporluk             Joe VanderVeer

Travis Wall                    Caitlin Wood

City of Portland Staff:

Nickole Cheron, Disability Program Coordinator

Patrick Philpott, Staff Support to the Commission

Dante James, Office of Equity & Human Rights Director

Debbie Bischoff, Bureau of Planning & Sustainability

Public attendees:

Daniel Vazquez, Community Advocate from OHER

Erika Petersen, ASL interpreter

Christine Peries, ASL interpreter

Debra Hubbard



Call to Order


Vice Chair Jewls called the meeting to order in Nyla’s absence and roll call was conducted. It was noted that a quorum existed.


Public Comment


Daniel Vazquez spoke about the Colored Pencils program and that an upcoming event would be featuring artists from the disability community. The event will be June 29 with a location to be announced soon. Lavaun has been working with Colored Pencils to provide a visual and a performing artist for the June event.

Agenda & Minutes


Review and Approval of Agenda

Motion: Jan made a motion to approve the agenda. Joe seconded the motion. The agenda was approved unanimously.

Review and Approval of Minutes (December 2011 Commission Meeting)

Motion: Jan made a motion to approve the December 2011 meeting minutes. Travis seconded the motion. The minutes were approved unanimously.

Review and Approval of Minutes (February 2012 Commission Retreat)

Motion: Jan made a motion to approve the February 2012 retreat minutes. Travis seconded the motion. The minutes were approved unanimously.


Executive Committee Report

Jewls opened by thanking Nickole Cheron for her work in forming and leading the Commission. She added that Nickole would be missed now that the Commission has moved to the Office of Equity & Human Rights. She then noted several candidate forums were being held in Portland with Alan noting another one to be held at the Hollywood Senior Center. She called for commissioners to consider attending and asking questions to help determine candidates’ awareness related to issues for people with disabilities.

There was further discussion about candidate forums and the possibility for PCOD to conduct one. Questions were asked whether the Commission could sponsor a forum that would relate to people with disabilities. The Commission can hold a forum, but cannot make endorsements. Further discussion led to the suggestion of forming an ad hoc subcommittee to work on holding a candidate forum with Connecting Communities as a co-sponsor. It was unclear whether a forum could be held prior to the primary, especially since there were 24 candidates for mayor and all 24 might have to be invited. Jewls, Michael, Jan and Sophie volunteered for the ad hoc subcommittee and the rest of the commission was instructed to contact Patrick if they decided they were interested in participating.

Motion: Adam made a motion to create an ad hoc subcommittee to explore a dialogue in whatever format that may take place with the mayor and council candidates. Jan seconded the motion. The motion was approved unanimously.

Alan mentioned that all 24 mayoral candidates would have to be invited and that the primary voting date is May 15, leaving a very short time to plan and stage the event.


Subcommittee Reports


Public Outreach & Awareness Subcommittee

Caitlin repeated that the Commission would be co-sponsoring the Colored Pencils event on June 29 with Connecting Communities and Disabilities Arts & Culture Project. She added that the Disability Pride Art & Culture Festival is slated for April 26 with details on the PCOD Facebook page. She encouraged Commissioners to visit the page and post a like. A press release for the Commission has also been developed and Chris spoke to its specifics. The chair approved that the press release be sent out to the commission for review. He has also been pursuing outreach opportunities with other non-profit organizations and has been in contact with Oregon Adaptive Sports, Julia West House and community newspapers. Chris offered to provide information to interested commissioners.

Jan commented that a festival would be held towards the end of April from the 22nd to the 28th at Project Grow. Caitlin offered to send out the schedule to the entire commission and post it on the Facebook page.

Livability & Wellness Subcommittee

It was announced that the subcommittee would be participating in the Wellness Fair at Portland State University on May 9. Jewls requested that any commissioners who may have applicable information to share to forward it to her. The plan is to provide interactive, hands-on experiences for attendees. The subcommittee is also starting to review emergency management plans and continuing to move forward with Portland Parks and Recreation. There will be reviews on park events for accessibility. They are looking at having more captioning provided for the movies in the park program. Questions were raised concerning possible cuts in providing accessibility at park events and whether non-profits would have to pay for a Sunday Parkways booth. The chair was uncertain and would check for further information.

Accessibility in the Built Environment (ABE) Subcommittee

Joe reported that the subcommittee had held three meetings since the February retreat and attendance continues to be excellent with an average of 20 persons in attendance. The subcommittee has established a relationship with AARP for future collaboration. Input has been provided on the cyclist/pedestrian project down by the waterfront and a PSU student project. Work on the Portland Plan comments has been completed and there is a disability section in the final draft. Several subcommittee members will be attending a transportation summit in Salem on the 17th. Concerning the summit, Alan reported that Lavaun has been the point person.

The status of the Parking Task Force plan for SB 716 was discussed and that the city attorney had not reported back to ABE. ABE has voted to sign onto the community letter that asks for another extension to allow for work in the legislature to address the concerns. The cycle track installation for SW 12th Avenue, northbound, is being considered. The subcommittee hopes to avoid some design flaws that would endanger people with disabilities. They will be tracking that and several other projects from transportation and housing. The interview process has finished for hiring the firm to perform the ADA Transition Plan to upgrade the city’s facilities.

The Comprehensive Plan follows the Portland Plan to become a guide for growth. Debbie Bischoff and Alan explained it to the group. The last comprehensive plan was adopted in 1980 and must be updated every 20 years. The plan is a policy document, a map for future growth and a list of capital improvements. Currently the bureau is recruiting for eight Policy Expert Groups (PEG). There are a number of interesting topics and commissioners were encouraged to apply. Commissioners had several questions regarding the comprehensive plan. Information for applying to participate on a PEG would be sent to commissioners.

Discussion turned to the Alternatives Conference that is scheduled for October 10 through 14 in Portland. The conference focuses on a broad range of topics that are not normally covered at most conferences. The theme is “Honoring Our History and Building the Future.”

Motion: Alan made a motion to submit an abstract to the Alternatives Conference by May 7. Nicholas seconded the motion. The motion was approved unanimously.

Employment Subcommittee

The subcommittee was scheduled to meet with Mayor Adams on May 5 to discuss the model employer proposal. They had previously met with Commissioner Fritz to discuss the plan with her and Dante James, OEHR’s director, is also familiar with the proposal. The subcommittee hopes to meet with the remainder of City Council. The project is reaching a critical point and the subcommittee is looking to move forward. Phyllis had drafted a resolution document to use for Council approval.

Travis shared information on other important employment developments that relate to people with disabilities. Part of Disability Rights Oregon’s Work Incentives Plan may not be reauthorized by Congress. Delays have many concerned about the program that provides work incentives, counseling and benefits planning to people with disabilities on how to use their benefits with incentive to obtain work. The program’s data shows a demonstrable benefit for participants. There is work to mobilize the community and write Congress for the need to reauthorize the program as soon as possible. Commissioners asked questions about obtaining information to use in a letter-writing campaign.


New Business


Introduction of Office of Equity & Human Rights Director

Jewls mentioned that the Commission is settling into its new home at the Office of Equity & Human Rights (OEHR) and that the new director, Dante James, was present to speak to the Commission. Dante thanked the Commission for its hard work and the invitation. He said that he came to listen to them and hear what the needs are for the community. There are the obvious ones, but the not-so-obvious needs were important to know for the City in properly serving and delivering to people with disabilities. He had been working to configure the Office and also develop its vision and mission statements with the help of staff. He emphasized using education and technical support to remove barriers to equity. The Office would look at overall processes of the bureaus to assess if they are fair by using an equity lens.

James had received a copy of the model employer proposal and shared it with Commissioner Fritz. They are both enthusiastic to have it adopted with the help of staff and the Commission. They were looking at how to move forward and ensure its success. He hoped to see the Commission being very active to address concerns for people with disabilities.

There were comments from the commissioners concerning the mission statement’s phrase of “barriers based on race and other disparities.” The concern was that the Office not overlook barriers to people with disabilities in light of other issues. Dante assured the Commission that concerns for people with disabilities are a part of his conversations with bureau managers when he is speaks to equity issues regarding bureau policies, practices and services. Other comments addressed goals, preventing divisiveness in terms of the marginalized groups, people disclosing their disabilities, the role of the Office, examples of the actions the Office may take and engaging the community. Travis commented on the issue of diversity on the Commission because it is losing its diversity due to recent resignations. Dante thanked the Commissioners for their responses and that they had provided him with much to think about.


Hearing Loss Presentation

David Viers provided his personal experiences regarding his hearing loss. Commissioner Brown had invited David to speak to the Commission and share the information. David explained that he grew up with normal hearing, but experienced loss due to genetic and environmental causes. He outlined differences between being Hard of Hearing and being Deaf. Eight to 10 percent of the population have hearing loss and experience difficulty understanding speech. The situation is likely to increase due to aging and lack of care used with personal listening devices like iPods and other music players.

Despite hearing aids, ASL interpretation, hearing loops and captioning, he explained that he has to utilize a coping strategy to engage others. Distance from the sound and background noise present challenges in everyday life. He encouraged people to project their voice, speak slower and recognize their environment. He provided other tips to assist the group in communicating with people who have hearing loss. He added that there is a national Hearing Loss Association with an Oregon chapter. David was the founding president of the chapter in 1985. The 2013 national convention is slated to be held in Portland. He addressed several questions from the Commission and offered to remain after the meeting to answer more.




Motion: Joe moved, seconded by Jam, to adjourn the Commission meeting. The motion was approved unanimously.