It didn't take Steve Novick long to lay out his City Council agenda. It took six minutes, in fact.
On Dec. 31, the day before Novick was sworn in as a Portland City Commissioner, he launched a blog on the city's website. The first five posts—published between 3:12 pm and 3:18 pm—lay out a series of ambitious policy initiatives.
They're not new concepts. Novick, a former environmental lawyer, began during the May primary to sound out these ideas, many of which fall outside the scope of city government. But this sudden upload of proposals shows Novick hasn't scaled back his goals.
His posts are characteristically voluble. But here's Novick's agenda, in five points.
1. Reduce health care costs by focusing treatment and prevention on city employees who have used medical care the most often. "Employers and workers can get together to design programs like the Atlantic City casino workers' union's wellness program/primary care clinic, which reduced the costs of the union's least healthiest members. [...] And if the City of Portland became #1 in the country at controlling health care costs, we'd have a big economic advantage over other places."
2. Ask prosecutors to seek shorter sentences, and use the savings from prison costs to fund crime prevention. "[T]he State could give counties more money for treatment and supervision of released offenders, and rehabilitation programs, if the counties stop increasing the prison population. [...] I think that's a great idea, and have been encouraging legislators to adopt the Governor's vision and encouraging County officials to take that deal."
3. Reform property tax code, with an emphasis on reversing the home-value freeze created by Measures 47 and 50. "I argued that if we're going to allow local options to be collected outside the Measure 5 limits, at least the tax rate should apply to real market value, not the goofy Measure 47 / 50 assessed value. That way everyone with the same property value would pay the same amount."
4. Bolt down houses to prepare for earthquakes. "Fortunately, in most cases, it is not insanely expensive to bolt a house down. [...] Philanthropic organizations and individuals can also play a role in the effort. Phil Knight gave $100 million to Oregon Health & Sciences University. If he would pay the same amount to bolt down 29,411 houses, here's one vote for putting a swoosh on the entrance to City Hall."
5. Get citizens to stop worrying about governmental jurisdiction and love the big ideas. "There are some issues the City handles pretty much by itself—but not quite; other issues where the City plays one role as part of a bigger system involving multiple governments; and other issues where the City has no direct responsibility or authority, but has a big interest in them."