With its mandate running out in days, Portland's Charter Review Commission—a group of volunteers tasked with helping propose amendments to the city's constitution—wound up deciding to pull the plug on its work early.
Left on the table were a package of police accountability proposals loathed by insiders in City Hall, but also a proposal that had major political backing from Mayor Sam Adams and Commissioner Dan Saltzman: a plan for an independent panel that would set water and sewer rates.
The Portland City Council tomorrow had planned to consider a short extension of the charter panel's work—from Friday to Monday, March 5—to help get a vote on the utility panel. But now that item will be pulled from the council agenda.
Adams told the Mercury earlier this month that he didn't want to allow more time than that.
Charter commissioners had wanted to keep developing two proposals that would ban cops from using chemicals and horses to bust up protests and a third proposal that would directly enshrine
the city's Independent Police Review some brand of independent police review system in the charter.
The commission last night announced that a meeting planned for Wednesday on police accountability had been canceled, but nothing else. (For a good wrapup of earlier testimony at on those measures, check out the Portland Occupier's website), they sent an email to Saltzman's office:
From: Sue Pearce Sent: Monday, February 27, 2012 11:33 PM
To: Callahan, Shannon
Cc: Villarreal, Alexander; Finn, Brendan; Saltzman, Dan; 'Mark White'; Subject: Please cancel request for 3/5 meeting; still need Alex
Dear Shannon, et al,
Please cancel the request for City Council consideration for extension of Charter Commission appointments to allow for a possible meeting on 3/5/2012.
The Charter Commission elected this evening to bring this session to a close.
I have written a similar request to Mayor Adams and City Council members.
However, since there a many loose ends still to pull together to complete the records of this Charter Commission, I am hoping to have some continued use of Alex Villarreal's time.
Perhaps I could discuss this sometime within the next day or two with one of you.
Many thanks from me and the full Charter Commission for all the help and support we have received from your office....
I'll post more when I learn more. Dan Handelman of Portland Copwatch, who contributed the language for the IPR proposal, had asked Saltzman's office to pull the term extension from the council's consent agenda (where it would be approved without any discussion) and stick it, instead, on the regular council agenda. Saltzman's office emailed back and told him it was now a moot point.
One problem has been attracting enough members to charter meetings to hold votes—especially as the council has declined to fill vacancies. With 15 votes, the commission can send items directly to voters. With 11 votes, items must head before council to be seconded.
"I'm very disappointed," Handelman says.