Mayor Sam Adams—deploying one of the primary perks allotted to Portland's chief executive—announced today he was juggling the work portfolios of his fellow commissioners, handing over more work to a potential mayoral rival in 2012, Dan Saltzman.
Saltzman, whose main bureau after Adams stripped the police bureau from him last year was Environmental Servces, will pick up the Bureau of Development Services from Randy Leonard (whose reign has been marked by controversy and layoffs, but also improvements in efficiency) and the Office of Cable and Franchise Management from Amanda Fritz.
"Commissioner Dan Saltzman has stated his willingness to take on more work assignments," Adams said in a statement. Last fall, Saltzman very publicly aired that complaint in an interview with the O.
None of Adams' many bureaus—partly a source of criticism that the mayor has too much on his plate—are moving. Previously, the mayor said he would look to reallocate bureaus after the budget process.
Three of the five commissioners, Saltzman, Fritz, and Nick fish, are currently sitting in city council's afternoon session, so some reaction may have to wait. Adams excused himself early to phone Washington, DC, and Leonard was absent from the meeting this afternoon despite being here this morning.
Update 3:56 PM: Leonard and his chief of staff, Ty Kovatch, are out for the day, his office says. But the mayor's office tells me that it was Leonard who nudged Adams to explore a reorganization—a bid to free up time he could then spend managing the city's $72 million fire bond, approved by voters last fall. "He expressed that he wanted to focus on the implementation of the fire bond," mayoral spokesman Roy Kaufmann explains.
Read the rest of the updates and the full statement from Adams' office below the cut.
Update continued: Commissioner Nick Fish agreed the move was more about rebalancing workloads than anything else. "It's an awful lot," he said of Leonard's workload before the shift. In addition to managing the fire bond, Leonard (a bit like a Greek Titan) remains in charge of two other big bureaus, Fire and Water.
Saltzman managed the cable office just before Fritz took it over, and his chief of staff, Brendan Finn, had been working with Fritz's staff on a citywide broadband project. Saltzman now adds BDS to a long list of other major bureaus he's run and improved over the years, from water to police to sustainability to the office in charge of public safety retirements.
He takes over BDS amid a building downturn that has spurred layoffs, and now must oversee a new digital permitting system the council took steps to approve this morning. That project will dovetail with his recent effort to provide central oversight of—and better cost controls for—of all the city's proposed technology upgrades.
In Fritz's office, meanwhile, no one was feeling slighted over the loss of the cable office. Policy adviser Tim Crail said the shift will free his boss up to work on creating the mayor's newly announced Office of Equity. The office, announced in Adams' State of the City speech, is aimed at addressing structural inequities in Portland, based on things like race, gender, and even disability. It's expected to suck up huge amounts of Fritz's time this spring as she tries to figure out what that office should look like and while also navigating the wilds of budget season.
"It's a major commitment, and we're going to be very busy with that," Crail says.
Portland, Ore. — Portland Mayor Sam Adams announced today he is reassigning two city bureaus to Commissioner Dan Saltzman. Mayor Adams will be transferring the Bureau of Development Services out of Commissioner Randy Leonard’s portfolio and moving the Office of Cable and Franchise Management out of the portfolio of Commissioner Amanda Fritz.
“Today, to better balance workloads on the City Council, I am reassigning the Bureau of Development Services and Office of Cable and Franchise Management to City Commissioner Dan Saltzman,” Mayor Adams said.
“I am taking this immediate action for several reasons.
“First, there is additional work required of City Commissioner Randy Leonard to implement the $72 million fire and public safety technology bond, which he championed and voters approved last November. His tenure as Commissioner-in-Charge of Bureau of Development Services has been marked by historic service and efficiency improvements.
“Second, Commissioner Amanda Fritz has completed reforms of the Office of Cable and Franchise Management that have improved the office’s effectiveness, and significantly increased revenues to the City. Also, Commissioner Fritz has agreed to take on a significant new assignment. Portland's Equity Initiative will engage City government and community in changing the way the City does business, to better align with Portlander's values of increased opportunity for all. This will require extra efforts, working with our community to shape policies and implement the resulting work plan.
“Finally, Commissioner Dan Saltzman has stated his willingness to take on more work assignments. The assignment of the Bureau of Development Services is a very important and challenging assignment. Recently, BDS has taken the deepest budget cuts in the city while working to automate its services. And the Office of Cable and Franchise Management is a key regulatory platform to upgrade the technology available to our residents and businesses. I appreciate Commissioner Saltzman taking on these new assignments.”
“I look forward to taking on the new challenges these assignments present and working with the dedicated professionals in the Bureau Development Services and the Office of Cable and Franchise Management.” said Commissioner Saltzman.
“I am continually assessing city bureau assignments and the workloads required of each Commissioner,” Mayor Adams stated. “Running this city is a team effort, and I want to thank my colleagues for their willingness to tackle these new assignments, and for their ongoing commitment to serving Portlanders.”