Skip to Main Content View Text-Only

The City of Portland, Oregon

Office of the Ombudsman

A division of the Portland City Auditor's Office

phone: 503-823-0144

email: ombudsman@portlandoregon.gov

1221 SW 4th Avenue, Room 310, Portland, OR 97204

Openness & Transparency

Year & Bureau

Problem

Resolution

2018

Parks & Recreation

A Parks Board’s subcommittee on off-road cycling met in violation of Oregon’s public meetings law, which requires notice, the taking of minutes, and public access. 

The Ombudsman recommended Parks immediately bring the subcommittee meetings into compliance. Parks changed the reporting structure to exempt the subcommittee from the public meetings law requirements.

2017

Transportation

A community member regularly attends public meetings of the Bureau of Transportation’s traffic safety committee. The Bureau provides materials to committee members prior to each meeting concerning issues on the agenda. The community member asked that he receive the same materials ahead of meetings, but the Bureau declined. He also questioned the practice of allowing public testimony in the middle of meetings, rather than at the end, reasoning that if a member of the public wanted to raise a question about an issue that arose during the second half of the meeting, they would have to wait until the middle of the next meeting to do so.

The Ombudsman questioned why the Bureau was withholding documents that could be obtained via public records request. The Ombudsman also asked why public testimony was taken in the middle of a meeting, an unconventional practice. The Bureau agreed to provide the community member with the materials prior to the meetings. The Bureau also agreed to hear public testimony at the end of each meeting.

2016

Police

The Ombudsman’s Office received a number of complaints about the Portland Police Bureau’s response to public records requests. Some cases involved the Police Bureau taking as long as four months to respond to routine records requests. The delayed response resulted in a hardship for crime victims who urgently needed their reports to resolve medical bills and outstanding identity theft charges. 

Several requesters said it was unfair to charge crime victims for their police reports. One elderly woman on a fixed income could not afford the Police Bureau’s fee.

In one case, the Police Bureau improperly withheld records from a victim of an alleged sexual assault.

The Ombudsman worked with the Police Bureau to quickly provide records for urgent matters, establish a financial hardship fee waiver policy, and reverse course and disclose records improperly withheld.

 

2016

Human Resources

A Bureau of Human Resources committee refused to allow a member of the public to attend a meeting about healthcare plan design in violation of state open meetings law.

Based on the Ombudsman’s involvement, the bureau agreed to conduct future meetings in compliance with open meetings law by posting notice and allowing full public access.

2015

Fire & Rescue

A City employee requested records of an investigation into the conduct of a high level Portland Fire & Rescue manager accused of misconduct. Although the Fire Bureau had already provided the same records to the media, it refused to turn them over to the employee.

The Ombudsman suggested the employee petition the District Attorney’s Office to overturn the bureau's decision because it was contrary to law. On appeal, the District Attorney rejected the bureau's arguments for keeping the documents secret and ordered it to turn them over.

2015

Development Services

A Bureau of Development Services subcommittee met regarding house demolitions in violation of state open meetings law, which requires public notice and the publication of minutes.

Based on the Ombudsman’s recommendation, the bureau re-held the meeting in compliance with open meetings law.