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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

Not bureau or office specific

Year

Problem

Resolution

2017

A small business owner decided not to extend his solid waste disposal contract with a private waste management company. The waste management company responded that the contract could only be terminated at least 90 days -- but not more than 180 days -- before the end of the contract. Because the business owner had missed the window to terminate his contract, the waste management company said it was entitled to assess a financial penalty equivalent to six months of charges.  

The Ombudsman suggested the business owner file a consumer complaint with the Oregon Department of Justice, as the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability currently only regulates residential and not commercial solid waste hauling. After being contacted by the Department of Justice, the waste management company agreed to waive the six-month penalty. The waste management company then sent the store owner a bill that included excessive charges to pick up trash and recycling containers.

At the Ombudsman’s request, a Bureau employee contacted the waste management company, which then agreed to waive all fees. he Ombudsman suggested the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability consider regulating commercial solid waste hauling to provide adequate consumer protection for business owners. The Bureau agreed to consider proposing regulations if it receives additional complaints.

2017

 

A community member who was arrested in 2009 complained that her booking photo had recently been posted on a website that features mugshots. A representative of the website told her the photo would only be removed if she could provide evidence that the charges were dismissed. The complainant requested the records from the Independent Police Review, which had reviewed a complaint she filed against the arresting officer. Her records request was denied because the complaint against the officer was resolved through mediation and such records are exempt from disclosure under the Public Records Law.

The Ombudsman sought and obtained from the District Attorney’s Office a copy of a record establishing that the charges were dropped. The complainant was then able to get her photo removed from the website.

2012

A City employee questioned whether the City’s hosting of Red Cross blood donation drives violates the City’s nondiscrimination policies because of the Red Cross policy prohibiting sexually active gay and bisexual men from donating blood (the “MSM Policy”). 

The Ombudsman conducted extensive research and determined that the Red Cross blood donation eligibility criteria at issue is actually federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) policy. Since 2006, the Red Cross has publicly supported changing the MSM Policy, calling the current policy scientifically and medically unwarranted. n 2010, an FDA subcommittee acknowledged that the MSM Policy is “suboptimal,” and efforts are underway to develop an alternative policy. In the meantime, several major cities have passed resolutions calling upon the FDA to revise the MSM Policy.

The Ombudsman advocated that the City pass a similar resolution and testified in support of City Resolution 37029, calling on the FDA to reverse its longstanding prohibition on gay men donating blood. The resolution passed with unanimous Council support.

2012

Several City employees sought ethical guidance regarding unsolicited gifts. 

In conjunction with the City Attorney’s Office, the Ombudsman provided information about the requirements of City and State Ethics Law and advised the City employees about any relevant acceptance restrictions and disclosure obligations.