With last week's vote on the city budget behind him, the next move for Mayor Charlie Hales was to divvy up the city bureaus he'd taken over while commissioners and staffers and budget wonks puzzled over how to close a $21.5 million deficit.
After a day of back-to-back-to-back-to-back meetings with his colleagues Friday, Hales has made his picks. And it's a major shakeup. Every major bureau has a new home. Put another way, despite some fervent lobbying, no commissioner got to keep any of the major bureaus they had before the shakeup.
It's also worth pointing out that, even though she's not the rookie any more (that's Steve Novick)—and despite causing Hales a lot of trouble without having a lot on her plate to keep her busy otherwise—Amanda Fritz still has the smallest list of assignments.
Some other surprises: Fish loses both of his major bureaus, parks and housing, but picks up both of the city's somewhat troubled utility bureaus. That's likely a disappointment for Fish, but a nod to his political acumen and reputation for helping bureaus run themselves.
Novick is the transportation commissioner, meaning Hales won't be keeping it. Instead, Hales kept the Office of Neighborhood Involvement, which Fritz really, really wanted and has said she'd continue to stick up for.
Take a look! (And look at how wrong I was when I tried to play along at home last month.)
Mayor Charlie Hales
• Portland Police Bureau
• Portland Development Commission
• Bureau of Planning and Sustainability
• Office of Neighborhood Involvement
• Office of Equity and Human Rights
• Office of Management and Finance
• Office of Government Relations
• City Attorney
• City Budget Office
• Oversight of the Willamette River Super Fund cleanup project
• Fire & Police Disability and Retirement
Commissioner Dan Saltzman
• Bureau of Housing
• Bureau of Fire & Rescue
• Gateway Domestic Violence Center
• Portland Children’s Investment Fund (Children’s Levy)
• Liaison to the League of Oregon Cities; Travel Portland; Visitors Development Fund; and Home Forward
Commissioner Nick Fish
• Bureau of Environmental Services
• Water Bureau
• Regional Arts and Culture Council
• Liaison to Elders in Action; Regional Water Consortium Board; Venture Portland; Water Quality Advisory Committee; and Portland Utility Review Board
Commissioner Amanda Fritz
• Bureau of Parks & Recreation
• Bureau of Development Services
• Liaison to Royal Rosarians; BDS Adjustment Committee; Building Board of Appeals; County Animal Control
Commissioner Steve Novick
• Bureau of Transportation
• Bureau of Emergency Management
• Bureau of Emergency Communications
• Liaison to: Joint Policy Advisory Committee on Transportation (JPACT); Portland Streetcar Inc.; Regional Emergency Management Group; BOEC Users Group; BOEC Finance Committee; Taxi Cab Board of Review; Towing Board of Review
Update 5:45 PM: After the jump, Fish and Novick have sent out statements talking about their assignments. Fish lists his accomplishments in parks and housing. He also notes that it was partly at his behest that the housing bureau as we know it was born. Fish also tells me this may be the first time a commissioner has had both utility bureaus.
"I was honored he had that much confidence in me," Fish said, talking about his "mixed emotions." "It's a big assignment. I'm going to have to roll up my sleeves."
Novick hints at some of his priorities in transportation—and I'm reminded of his advocacy on safety, when I broke the news that the council had pushed Hales to keep funding for sidewalk projects in East Portland after the death of a girl who was hit by a car while crossing SE 136th. He also hypes bicycling by noting that though he doesn't ride, when he does see someone on a bike "I think 'she is reducing my health insurance premiums.'"
I've also reconsidered my early assessment that Fritz has the lightest load. Parks, especially if Hales is dedicated to a revenue bond, won't make for light work. Fritz also gets to help decide the future of gray-to-green programs and management. And though Saltzman, for example, has more stuff under his name, much of it won't require the same hands-on work that BDS and Parks will. He can have staff and capable bureau directors take the lead—which could make his life easier if he decides not run for re-election. //end update
The changes are effective tomorrow morning. Read the mayor's full statement after the jump.
Mayor Charlie Hales has reassigned the bureaus of the City of Portland to members of the Portland City Council, effective 8 a.m. Tuesday, June 4.
“Holding the bureaus under the mayor’s auspices allowed us to tackle the worst city budget anyone remembers, with a $21.5 million shortfall,” Hales said. “That’s done. It’s time to move forward with our commission mode of government.”
When Mayor Hales took over the bureaus in February, he said he wanted to create a “board of directors” on the City Council. “I wanted commissioners asking tough questions about all of the bureaus, not just about ‘their’ bureau,” he said.
“I feel we accomplished that. Now we have to keep it up,” Hales said. “I’ve shaken up the bureau assignments and have given commissioners new bureaus, where possible. This will allow commissioners to interact, and to share their passion and knowledge for the various bureaus. We also will continue our new practice of combining two commissioners as a subcommittee, focusing on some particular problem or opportunity for Portland.”
Hales said bureau reassignments likely are a “bigger deal inside City Hall” than around the city.
“If you wake up, brush your teeth, walk your child to school, pass a park on your way to a business that is built in, and protected by, city services, you’ve interacted with half of the city’s bureaus. What you want are reliable services provided, and taxes and utility rates kept low. You want your city’s elected leaders to manager their bureaus well, and to work together as an effective team. So that’s our mission.”
Hales said he took into account the strengths and passions of each commissioner. “Bureaus need to focus on the basic services they provide. But they also need to work well with each other, and be accountable to an elected leader. That’s where our commission style of government helps.”
Hales also gave each commissioner a set of goals he is asking them to achieve: maintaining environmentally friendly policies; forcefully seeking equity; and looking for efficiencies in day-to-day bureau duties.
Some of the mayor’s own assignments are inevitable – Portland mayors historically have had oversight for Management and Finance, as well as the Police Bureau. Others, like the city attorney and the city’s lobbyists, fit naturally into the mayoral role.
Other assignments blend well together: Planning and Sustainability, along with the Portland Development Commission, are future-oriented.
Likewise, the mayor’s priority of community policing fits well with Police Bureau, the Office of Neighborhood involvement and the Office of Equity and Human Rights. “Blending those efforts strengthens each,” Hales said. “It creates a nexus of community empowerment. Plus, it elevates their profile.”
The mayor also is taking the “bureau” of the Willamette River Superfund clean-up project.
“Only the mayor can take this,” he said. “The project requires working closely with various federal agencies, state agencies, tribal governments and the public sector. Standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Commissioner Nick Fish – who has the Water Bureau and Bureau of Environmental Services – we will make sure that Portland is a responsible partner in this Herculean task.”
However, Hales also said the entire Portland City Council will need to come together as the plan evolves to clean up the river – and to keep it clean for generations to come.