A committee advising the city of Portland as it transitions to a new form of government plans to send a letter today to the City Council, complaining that it’s been left out of decision-making and is being wielded as a political tool.
“We feel that our expertise and wisdom is not being respected or heeded and, instead, that we are primarily being used as a political tool, engaged and referenced when it is beneficial to City leadership,” a draft of the letter reads. “Since we are not being consulted or engaged on key issues with Charter implementation, we find ourselves in the uncomfortable position of being a community oversight body that is not able to provide community oversight.”
The Government Transition Advisory Committee first convened in March to help advise city officials on how to overhaul the city’s form of government by the end of 2024 to comply with the major changes voters approved last November at the ballot box.
But that body, composed of 15 members appointed by Mayor Ted Wheeler, now says it’s been left out of the decision-making process and its members are treated as shills.
“A primary reason for convening GTAC was to build confidence about Charter implementation in the community, acknowledging general public distrust in government and the well-documented opposition to elements of Charter reform that have been expressed by the Mayor and several council members,” the drafted letter reads. “Without clarity on the role of GTAC, the community cannot benefit from the trust and accountability provided by an oversight body, lacks imperative education on some aspects of the transition, and is being deterred from engaging in the transition more broadly.”
The body intends to send the letter to the City Council on Friday.
The drafted letter points to two examples of where the body feels it wasn’t properly involved: when Commissioners Rene Gonzalez and Dan Ryan attempted to alter parts of the ballot measure last month, and when the mayor’s office articulated at a recent meeting of the advisory body that its members would not be involved in city reorganization decisions (in the committee’s version of events).
The transition committee was one of three volunteer panels put together to help the city transition to its new form of government, a massive overhaul that was prompted by the passage of Measure 26-228 on the November ballot. A second committee recommended salaries for elected officials under the new system; a third body is drawing maps for voting district boundaries.