Following last night's private inaugural meeting of Mayor Charlie Hales' "Homeless Task Force"—an otherwise little-noticed item on the mayor's calendar—Hales' office has supplied the names of those invited to the meeting in response to a Mercury request.
The basic list comes from Hales' spokesman, Dana Haynes. I've added the descriptors for clarity's sake.
• Mayor Charlie Hales
• Gail Shibley—Hales' chief of staff
• Baruti Artharee—Hales' public safety adviser
• Chad Stover—policy analyst
• Matthew Robinson—policy analyst
• Ed Blackburn—director of Central City Concern
• Doreen Binder—director of Transition Projects Inc, which runs city-funded shelters; Binder has close ties to the Portland Business Alliance and the Portland Police Bureau (she was treasurer of Chief Mike Reese's nascent mayoral campaign)
• Marc Jolin—executive director of JOIN, which helps pair homeless people with housing.
• Lynnae Berg—retired assistant police chief serving as director of Clean & Safe and vice president of downtown services for the PBA
• Lieutenant Cliff Bacigalupi—16-year Portland cop running day-to-day operations for the city's new, federally mandated Behavioral Health Unit
• Jacob Brostoff—Office of Neighborhood Involvement crime prevention coordinator for large swaths of SE Portland
• Laurie Abraham—Multnomah County deputy district attorney specializing in West side/downtown neighborhood issues
It's not clear whether this group is it—the final kitchen cabinet Hales will consult on homelessness and panhandling issues. Or if he'll expand the group based on particular subjects he and his staff might be researching. I've asked Haynes for some answers on that, and I've yet to hear back.
I've also asked whether Hales considered inviting any advocates who are formerly or currently homeless—a noticeable omission, notwithstanding the street-level viewpoints proffered by the advocates and cops on the list.
Haynes told me via email, before I asked those questions, that more meetings are planned but not yet scheduled. He also said the meeting was "informal," meaning there are no minutes to request and review.
"The mayor called these folks together," Haynes wrote, "to let him know what he doesn’t know—but needs to know—moving forward with a plan to address homelessness and panhandling."
Update 2:15 PM: Haynes says the makeup of the task force is expected to change and that the mayor is open to suggestions from those advising him about whom else to speak with.
"Yes, the list of advisers likely will change," he wrote back. "It’s an informal process so far. Some, likely, told the mayor the things they wanted to say and won’t feel a need to advise him any more. Others would feel the opposite. And Person X likely will say, “You really ought to talk to Person Y…” And so on.
"He chose people he thought had a perspective he needed on the topic."
As for why Hales hadn't asked someone currently or formerly homeless to speak, Haynes was still checking. I've also asked why this initial group lacked someone concerned about civil liberties, a key issue when balancing a push against aggressive panhandling with the reality of discrimination against people who are homeless and have done nothing wrong.