Murmurs: Campaign Season Begins for Expanded City Council

In other news: Reedies reluctant to narc.

Robin Ye, Angelita Morillo, and Jesse Cornett (L-R).

CAMPAIGN SEASON BEGINS FOR EXPANDED CITY COUNCIL: It’s going to be a big election for Portland City Council in 2024—as in, a lot of candidates. Just one week ago, a citizens committee cemented the boundaries of four geographic voting districts, each of which will elect three candidates to the 12-member council. In the days that followed, at least seven people filed paperwork declaring their intention to seek a council seat. Oddly, all but one live in District 3, which comprises most of Southeast Portland west of Interstate 205. They include longtime progressive political staffer Jesse Cornett; Tony Morse, policy director for the advocacy group Oregon Recovers; Robin Ye, chief of staff to state Rep. Khanh Pham (D- East Portland); Angelita Morillo, policymaker for Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon (who also runs a widely followed political TikTok account); Portland Housing Bureau employee Chris Flanary; and pharmacist Sandeep Bali. One candidate, transportation advocate Steph Routh, has announced her bid for a seat in District 1, which covers East Portland. An Oregonian reporter noted Tuesday that two additional candidates, Centennial School District board member David Linn and communications specialist Stephen Hall, had registered political action committees with the state to run in Districts 1 and 4, respectively. Pollster John Horvick says the most candidates to run for a City Council seat in a single election in the past 50 years was 12, in 2022.

REEDIES RELUCTANT TO NARC: As Reed College resumes classes this week, student house advisers are furious about changes to their job descriptions. Reed HAs (a role typically known on other campuses as a resident adviser, or RA) now must walk rounds through campus housing five times a week and serve as mandatory reporters of violations to the college’s drug and alcohol policies. While walking around and narcing on fellow students are standard RA duties at most colleges, they’re new at Reed. And they conflict with the experimental counterculture Reedies are known for. “Putting the HA in the role of a snitch isolates them from community,” says Rachel Fazio, the mother of a senior HA. “Because let’s face it—Reed does a lot of drugs.” Another part of the problem: Some of the rounds are at midnight and cut close to homeless encampments at Southeast Steele Street and 28th Avenue. (The city conveniently finished clearing the Steele camp Aug. 21, the date residence halls opened for new students.) Karnell McConnell-Black, Reed’s vice president for student life, wrote in a statement to WW that the new duties are “part of fostering a community of care on campus” and that the rounds were “clearly stated in the job description students accessed before applying for an HA position.”

PERMITTING BATTLE ENDS WITH RUBIO VICTORIOUS: A monthlong battle between City Commissioners Carmen Rubio and Mingus Mapps over how best to fix the city’s broken permitting system has ended with a Rubio victory. At Wednesday’s City Council meeting, Rubio will ask her four colleagues to approve her plan to consolidate all permitting functions in one city office by next summer. According to a copy of Rubio’s resolution, all four of her colleagues—including Mapps—intend to support her plan. That’s despite Mapps’ announcement a month ago he would make an alternative proposal to the council that he said was “fundamentally incompatible” with Rubio’s. Shortly after Mapps’ announcement, however, a number of the most powerful business groups in the city and state came out in strong support of Rubio’s plan, as did a labor union. After that, Mapps backed off. Mapps spokesman Adam Lyons says, “City Council has found a compromise path forward and is bringing forward a resolution that is acceptable to everyone and will improve permitting in Portland.”

PROBATION OFFICER WHO REPORTED SEXUAL ASSAULT ACCUSES COUNTY OF RETALIATION: A Multnomah County probation officer has filed suit against her employer, the county’s Department of Community Justice, alleging gender discrimination and retaliation. According to the complaint, filed in federal court Aug. 28, the officer, Holly Fischer, was “treated like a perpetrator” after accusing a co-worker, her boyfriend at the time, of sodomizing her without her consent on St. Patrick’s Day 2017. The co-worker, Kevin Novinger, claimed the act never happened, and prosecutors declined to press charges. WW reported the allegation last year after the county concluded Novinger was lying about what happened that night (“The Odd Squad,” WW, Aug. 10, 2022). Fischer’s lawsuit alleges what happened next. She says she was forced to take a demotion in 2019 after making two errors during firearms training. The county subsequently forwarded “ninety pages of email communications and allegations of misconduct” to a psychologist, who ruled her unfit for service. The ruling was overturned after another psychologist found the emails “were consistent with an individual processing a traumatic event” and that the first doctor had assumed the assault didn’t occur. Fischer returned to her job as a probation officer in December 2021, although she continues to be the subject of “negative gossip” and “unfounded oral reprimands,” according to the complaint. The Oregon Bureau of Labor & Industries has already dismissed multiple complaints by Fischer regarding her treatment by the county. The county did not respond to a request for comment prior to publication.

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