Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Charter review omits neighborhoods, vision

I can't attend Thursday's Portland City Council deliberations on the Charter Review Commission's recommendations at 2 p.m. at City Hall, so I've sent my comments.

I have serious concerns about both the commission's process and its recommendations. Here's what I've written the City Council...


I'm writing because I have concerns that the process followed by the Charter Review Commission suffers from serious disconnects.

Specifically, the commission makes no recommendations regarding the role the City wants neighborhoods to play. As the mayor has said many times, the City can't do its job alone. It needs the energy found in the neighborhoods. The neighborhoods should be partners in the business of the city, and yet the Commission's recommendations utterly fail to acknowledge or formalize that partnership.

Moreover, there seems to be an inexplicable disconnect between visionPDX and the Commission's deliberations. As one who has read hundreds of visionPDX responses, I believe ignoring the concerns expressed in the responses is a travesty.

Consider just one area, education. Respondents were nearly unanimous about the need to bring equity to our schools, and yet their concerns were being directed to the City, NOT the School District. There is obvious need to tear down the walls between these two governments, if not actually combine them. The commission is silent on the question of consolidation or structures for improved communications.

I urge you to slow down the Charter Review process so that neighborhoods and visionPDX become part of the commission's deliberations and recommendations.


Rick Seifert
Hillsdale Neighborhood

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Blogger Frank Dufay said...

So what would happen if, under this “new deal,” the City turned over real power to the neighborhoods?...

The above is from one of your first posts, Rick, and relates to what's happened to Charter Review.

We can't count on "government" to "hand over" anything. We need to step to the plate and accept more responsibility then that. This is our government, not someone else's. And, as part of that, we need more than being offered yes or no "choices"...we need an active role in determining, defining, and framing those choices. Not a handfull of folks, but all of us.

For Charter changes to happen, the community needs to be invested in them, and the process that got us there. We're no where near there yet. Let's not rush this.

It's interesting that Mayor Potter gets so much of this right, with his emphasis on community involvement, but misses the boat with these charter changes that haven't been vetted out in the community.

5:57 AM  

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