Policy Proposal That Would Muzzle Volunteers From Talking to the Press Will Be Amended

Ethics reform for boards and commissions includes draft language that limits commission members' ability to talk to the press.

A Portland city policy that would have limited the ability of members of boards and commissions from speaking to the press is being hastily revised.

The City Council, led by Commissioner Nick Fish's office, has embarked on an effort to reform the ethics rules for the many city boards and commissions staffed by volunteers.

A new round of reforms, sponsored by Fish, Commissioner Chloe Eudaly and Commissioner Amanda Fritz, goes before Council this Wednesday.

It includes bylaws that would limit the volunteers' ability to speak to the press, the Portland Tribune first reported.

These provisions include at least three that appear to attempt to limit the contact between the media and the volunteers:

—”Members agree to raise all their concerns, especially those being raised for the first time, at a meeting and not in or through the media.”

—"Members agree to not negotiate through the media, or to use the media to undermine the work of the Body."

—”While not precluded from communicating with the media, members agree to generally defer to the Bureau liaison to field and route all media communications related to the Body’s processes and recommendations.”

Related: This isn’t the first time this year Portland leaders have gotten confused about how the First Amendment works.

Fish says it's not clear how the language ended up in the draft.

"My first amendment on this Wednesday will be to strike it," says Fish, adding he'll explicitly refer to the other First Amendment in his remarks. "This was never discussed and never our intent to restrict what board and commission members say to the media."

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