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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

August 10, 2012

Portland Commission on Disability


Friday, August 10, 2012

10:00 am – 11:30 am


Portland Building: 2nd Floor, Conference Room C

1220 SW Fifth Avenue, Portland, OR 97204

Commissioners Present:

Amy Anderson                Steven Brown                 Alan DeLa Torre  

Eli Ettinger                    Sophie Goddyn                Jewls Harris

Lavaun Heaster              Jim Jackson                    Nicholas Johnson

Adam Kriss                    Chris Logan                    Nyla McCarthy

Phyllis Petteys               Carrie Jo Stairs               Joe VanderVeer

City of Portland Staff:

Dante James, Office of Equity & Human Rights Director

Patrick Philpott, Staff Support to the Commission

Danielle Brooks, Office of Management & Finance

Nickole Cheron, Office of Neighborhood Involvement

Shoshanah Oppenheim, Portland Streetcar Project

Debbie Bischoff, Bureau of Planning & Sustainability

Terry Whitehill, Bureau of Developmental Services

Ronault (Polo) Catalani, Office of Equity & Human Rights

Public attendees:

Marian George               Theresa Soto                  Pam VanderVeer

Kathleen O’Brien            Lydia Corran                   John Murphy

Therese Grayson            Dan Pierce                      Teresa Boze

Debra Hubbard              


Call to Order


Chair Nyla McCarthy called the meeting to order and roll call was conducted. It was noted that a quorum existed.


Public Comment


Marian George introduced herself and spoke to the impending closure of the Providence Therapy Pool. Although other facilities offer therapy pools, they do not offer the accessibility provided at the Providence pool, especially safe and less stressful methods to help patients transition between dry areas into and out of the water. Commissioners asked further questions about the pool, its use, accessibility and Providence’s stance on its elimination. Jewls spoke for the Livability & Wellness Committee and offered to write a letter of concern to Cleavon Parks at Providence Healthcare Centers.


Agenda & Minutes


Review and Approval of Agenda

Motion: Lavaun made a motion to approve the agenda. Jewls seconded the motion with the inclusion of a period for announcements. The agenda was approved unanimously.

Review and Approval of Minutes (April 2012 Commission Meeting)

Motion: Adam made a motion to approve the June 2012 meeting minutes. Joe seconded the motion. The minutes were approved unanimously.


Chair Report

Nyla reminded Commissioners that this would be a shortened Commission meeting to be followed by a Mayoral Candidates’ Forum, starting at 12:30 pm. She also noted that the Human Rights Commission will hold a Candidates’ Forum on September 19 with PCOD co-sponsoring.

The City is conducting sessions for public participation on its 2013 Legislative Agenda. The next one will be September 27 and Nyla encouraged Commissioners to attend and participate. Alan mentioned that he had attended the first session and would be in attendance at the second one.

Another announcement was that the subcommittees would not be meeting in August. With vacations, the committees were taking a break and would renew their regular schedules in September. A question was raised about a possible combination of Livability & Wellness and the Public Outreach & Awareness subcommittees. Jewls responded that was not being considered at this time and work plans were being updated. Nyla reminded the Commission that attendance of one subcommittee meeting per month was a requirement of membership. She encouraged reviewing work plans and considering which committee might fit their interests.

Nyla reviewed developments with the Office of Equity and Human Rights, indicating a second seat on the steering group had been added at the final Creation Committee meeting to represent people with disabilities. The Connecting Communities Coalition would be filling that opening. PCOD will have one representative and she encouraged the group to consider the position, since she would not be available. The Commission would be making a selection from applications submitted.

The State has submitted a request for a grant to development sexual assault and response for seniors, people with developmental disabilities and others with mental concerns in three counties. The number of sexual assaults being committed are very high in the three targeted counties. She discussed other openings in the State jobs programs.



Attendee Debra Hubbard shared information that a low-cost chiropractic center has opened that is accessible for wheelchair users. The clinic is downtown at SW 4th Avenue and Stark Street. She also added that the Special Office for Disabilities had indicated it was going to use the ADA to have all medical facilities made accessible.

Several commissioners shared information on news and upcoming events:

  • Jim announced that protests and actions were going to      be held concerning Goodwill Industries and how it pays subminimum wages to      people with disabilities.
  • Chris added that his organization, Easter Seals, was      conducting a Talent Fair on September 26 to highlight available, qualified      talent for employers.
  • The June 29 Colored Pencils event that featured art and      talent of people with disabilities was well attended, reported Lavaun, who      had worked with the group. She also provided information on the August      event that would be held at Directors’ Park and would feature the local      Hmong culture.
  • Nicholas followed with a report that he attended a      street repair forum and Debbie Bishoff thanked Nicholas for his      involvement and the announcement.
  • Amy updated the Commission on the progress made by      Health Share of Oregon (previously known as the Tri-County Medicaid      Collaborative) that would be conducting open meetings once there was      adequate accommodation for people with disabilities. She also wished to be      the POCD liaison, representing the Commission’s interests.


Old Business


Storytelling Workshop

Lavaun announced that the storytelling workshop would be held on September 6 in the Portland Building. All Commissioners were encouraged to attend and learn the techniques for public outreach by telling PCOD’s story and their own. The workshop would have a very interactive format with snacks and beverages provided.


New Business


Portland Streetcar Tactile Warning Strips

Shoshanah Oppenheimer, from the Portland Bureau of Transportation, spoke on the request to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) for a Finding of Equivalent Facilitation for Modified Detectable Warning Strips on Streetcar Station Platforms. She was appearing before the Commission to request a letter of support. Background information was provided on the opening of the eastside loop and her work with the Accessibility in the Built Environment Committee.

She explained that her visual boards showed the tactile warning strips where the bridge plates come into contact with them. The application is asking for a finding that the City’s bright yellow tactile warning strip is equal to or surpasses the standard specified by the FTA. Commissioner Jackson participated in a recent demonstration of the strips and felt the central feature for accessibility was not diminished by the modified tactile warning strip. The ramp would be hindered if the finding is not made.

The commissioners asked questions for clarification for Shoshanah’s response. She explained that the strip is a warning that there is a change in the environment for the user to recognize. Nyla did request that the explanation be clearer and avoid jargon since several commissioners were having difficulty following the explanation. The Westside is currently using this method, but it is required on the Eastside because of the federal funding that is being provided.

Motion: Adam moved, seconded by Jewls, for the Portland Commission on Disability to write and provide a letter in support for the Streetcar Project’s request for modification. The motion was approved unanimously.

On a related matter, Phyllis reported that the lift stops were being addressed by the cycle track being remade to go around the lift stop, removing two parking spots. The Commission indicated it was in favor of the improvements for accessibility for those using the lift service.


Commission Action Request from Employment Committee

Travis was unable to attend the meeting and the Chair requested that an Employment Committee member explain the reques. It was pointed out that, because Congress had not reauthorized the Social Security Administration’s Work Incentives and Planning Assistance (WIPA) program, Commissioners were being asked to participate in sending a letter to restore funding. Disability Rights Oregon was one local organization whose funding was being affected in helping people with disabilities review their employment opportunities. The program provides help in finding employing while still preserving benefits to sustain the person. Lavaun explained that the letter was to support a bill to maintain the program. Travis had provided a draft letter for reference. Nyla explained that Commissioners could also use the sample letter as an example to write their own letters to add more impact to funding restoration.

Motion: Joe moved, seconded by Jewls, for the Commission to send a letter to Congressional members to approve the bill that would restore WIPA funding. The motion was approved unanimously.

Nyla reminded the group that the regular Commission meeting would be ending with an hour-long break. She encouraged all the Commissioners and the public in attendance to return for the Mayoral Candidates’ Forum from 12:30 to 2 pm. She explained that the executive committee would be sitting at the front tables with the candidates. They were present to provide questions specific to their subcommittee work plans. The other Commissioners would be seated in the audience section.



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