The Charter Commission, charged with recommending a clean elections system for Portland, has surprised us with the changes they are drafting. These include voting privileges for undocumented noncitizen residents, increased numbers and pay for city councilors and School Board members, several standing commissions, additional powers and staff for the mayor, and more.
Where does this expansive agenda come from? We have yet to see any data documenting alleged problems with the police. It is unsettling to see some members’ eyes darting back and forth between their home screens and some other device: who are they communicating with? Anne Pringle has rightly raised concerns about unseen and unofficial commission participants. There is no privacy when you are doing the people’s business, and commission members, who have bent over backward to share their research with the public, should be more open about naming all of their sources if they truly believe in government transparency.
Whether or not the commission completes all its work before the May deadline, they must share with us the fiscal impact of proposed changes, whether renovations for City Hall or new staff and committees. We face another large tax increase next fall, and it matters.