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Charter Commission November 2021 Update

News Article
Published
Picture of pioneer square with people socially distancing. Image reads: Portland Charter Commission November 2021

Dear Community Members,

Charter Commissioners have been making progress in charter review. In our October email update, we shared more information about our two subcommittees, Form of Government & City Council Elections, desired outcomes, and our Community Listening Sessions.

What's happened?

Form of Government

To date, the Form of Government Committee has:

  1. Determined desired outcomes for our form of government
  2. Established initial research questions
  3. Built an understanding about our current commission form of government
  4. Identified problems with our current form of government and how those problems represent gaps with our desired outcomes
  5. Built an understanding about two alternative forms of government—the Mayor-Council form and the Council-Manager form
  6. Agreed to early reforms (please note these are not full Commission agreements):
  • Increase the size of City Council
  • Remove the role of Commissioner-in-Charge of bureaus from city commissioners and shift the management authority elsewhere
  • Clearly (re)define the roles and responsibilities of the Mayor and City Council

Current work is focused on an analysis of some key areas of tension between the Mayor-Council form of government and the Council-Manager form of government:

  • Where the power center is and who has the authority to influence it
  • The role and purpose of the Mayor, and when and how the Mayor votes or has veto authority
  • The Mayor-Chief Administrative Officer (CAO) relationship and the role of the CAO in a Mayor-Council form, and the Council-City Manager relationship and the role of the City Manager in a Council-Manager form

We also have Form of Government Committee members reviewing and analyzing community input to date related to form of government including all written and verbal public comment, takeaways from meetings with City elected officials and bureau directors, community groups and others, and presentations to the Commission.

Finally, several Committee members are gathering information from other cities in the United States that have had efforts to change their forms of government and what lessons we can learn from those experiences.

All the above work will be presented at the next meeting of the Form of Government Committee on Tuesday, November 30th, 6pm-8pm.

City Council Elections 

To date, the City Council Elections Committee has:

  1. Determined desired outcomes for our City Council elections
  2. Established initial research questions
  3. Built an understanding about our current elections
  4. Identified problems with our current elections and how those problems represent gaps with our desired outcomes
  5. Built understanding about multi-member districts, alternative voting methods including ranked choice and Score then Automatic Runoff (STAR), and the impacts of timing of elections
  6. Agreed to early reforms (please note these are not full Commission agreements):
  • Increase the size of City Council
  • Shift to a form of voting that allows for a result in one election and captures people's preference

Current work is focused on

  • City Council constituency and size, including an analysis of alternative constituencies (at-large without positions, single-member and multi-member districts, and hybrid models)
  • Form of voting, including an analysis of alternative forms of voting

We also have City Council Elections Committee members reviewing and analyzing community input to date related to elections including all written and verbal public comment, takeaways from meetings with City elected officials and bureau directors, community groups and others, and presentations to the Commission.

All the above work will be presented at the next meeting of the City Council Elections Committee on Thursday, December 2nd, 6pm–8pm.

Engagement

Coming up We have a full Commission meeting Monday, December 13th, from 6–8pm. Don’t forget to sign up to give verbal public comment here. At this meeting, the Form of Government and City Council Elections Committees will present to the full Charter Commission. At that time, the Charter Commission will consider the range of policy options to send out to community for feedback through community listening sessions and surveying in December and January.

Community Listening Sessions

Thank you for everyone who came to our Virtual Community Listening Sessions in November! Did you miss our Community Listening Sessions? Don't worry! Watch a recording of the session and take a short survey of the questions asked in the breakout rooms here. Survey closes on Monday, November 29th. A report of the our Community Listening Sessions will be available in early December.

The Coalition of Communities of Color and its fall collaborative members are also hosting Charter Commission Community Listening Sessions. Unite Oregon, Verde, Next Up, Muslim Educational Trust, Immigrant & Refugee Community Organization, Street Roots, Native American Youth & Family Center, Urban League of Portland, and Hacienda CDC will be hosting sessions through the end of November.

Part II of our Community Listening Sessions will take place in January 2022 and focus on options for reforming our government and elections. Community members are invited to attend either of the Part II Community Listening Sessions. The sessions will have the same content just offered on different days to accommodate more community members. More information coming soon!

  • Tuesday, January 11th from 6-8pm
  • Saturday, January 22nd from 12-2pm

Please share your comments

We are so thankful for all the individuals we’ve had the opportunity to hear from. Thank you to all who’ve submitted public comments or signed up to give verbal public comments. From October 26th to November 22nd, we received 117 public comments through our online public comment form, via email, and through verbal public comments.

Of the 117 total comments received, 45% mention climate justice, 44% mention houselessness, 26% mention form of government, 22% mention city council elections, 2% mention police, and 2% mention safety. In total we’ve received 636 public comments, of the total comments 57% mention form of government, 41% mention city council elections and alternative voting methods, 15% mention houselessness, 9% mention climate justice, 8% mention safety, and 6% mention police.

We encourage folks to continue to submit public comment at any time through our online public comment form or via email to CharterReview@portlandoregon.gov. The Charter Commission wants to understand your perspectives on:

  • Form of government
  • City Council elections
  • Other topics you want us to consider

Digital Toolkit

The Coalition of Communities of Color has created a Charter Review digital toolkit in partnership with Next Up and City Club of Portland.

The toolkit was designed as an educational tool for you to use and inform your family, friends, and community about the Charter Review process and why it matters! The digital toolkit can be used by Portlanders across your social media channels, and it can also be used by community members seeking to educate their community about the Charter Review process and how to get involved. Make sure to checkout the digital toolkit here!

Contact

Sofía Álvarez-Castro

Engagement & Communications Coordinator