By Daisy Caballero
PORTLAND, Ore. — The Portland's Ombudsman office investigates official complaints about city government to find ways to resolve them — and its annual report about 2022 was just released.
"The idea of the report was just to give a snapshot of our work during the year," said Jennifer Croft, Portland’s ombudsman. "In terms of complaint numbers, they were fairly similar to previous years."
The office got 542 complaints. Just over half of those were related to city bureaus — the rest were meant for the county or state.
Portland's Bureau of Transportation had the most complaints, which has been the case in past years, and mainly involved vehicles being towed. In many cases, the ombudsman’s investigation helped those who couldn't pay towing fees, get a reimbursement from the city.
"We do particularly try to prioritize cases that involve egregious individual injustice when someone's basic human needs are at stake," said Croft.
Portland police and development services, like complaints about housing, round out the top three. For example, people filed complaints about police spike strips popping their tires, police demanding vehicles be towed, or rat infestations on neighboring properties.
Just 15% of eligible complaints needed to be investigated. One-third were found to be substantiated, another third were unfounded and the last third were undetermined.
"I think it's important to note that we're not an advocate for the complainant, or for the city,” said Croft. “We are independent and impartial, but we are an advocate for fairness and justice and accountability."
Croft is new to the position — she was hired back in December. She says she's ready to bring the people of Portland's concerns to the attention of policymakers and point out systemic problems.
You can read the full report here.