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Editorial Staff of The Skanner News
Published: 30 May 2013

As Mayor Hales gets ready to parcel out city bureaus to his fellow commissioners, we know he's getting unsolicited advice from all sides.  Mr. Mayor, you probably feel that everyone thinks they know what you should do, better than you do.  So not to be left out, The Skanner decided to put forward a few suggestions of our own.

Mayor Charlie Hales:  
Mr. Mayor we know you are going to want to keep the Police Bureau. If you're serious about police reforms – and we believe you are—  keeping your eyes on the bureau as you build on your strong working relationship with Police Chief Reese is a must.

You also should hold on to:

Office of Management and Finance: because the person who holds the purse strings has the real power.

Transportation: because you ran on fixing basic problems. Potholes and street safety are as basic as city services get.

Bureau of Emergency Management: The mayor has the last say in an emergency. He might as well have the first say too.

Office of Emergency Communications: if you have police and emergency management, you'd better make sure they can talk to one another. 

Portland Development Commission: Because the PDC is about the city's big idea and our mayor needs to steer Portland's big idea. And please Mr. Mayor, can it include economic development, business opportunity and job creation.

Commissioner Dan Saltzman:
With four terms under his belt, Commissioner Saltzman is Portland's most  seasoned commissioner. The Children's Levy passed thanks to Saltzman, and we appreciate his dedication to that initiative.  Saltzman could turn his hand to any bureau, but we think his talents could be best used right now by handing him:

The Water Bureau: because as an engineer he understands what it takes to get water to our taps. And as one of the coolest heads on your team, Saltzman will be able to give the bureau the thorough overhaul it needs. Call it cracking heads without creating headaches.  We think he'll find a way to keep our water affordable.

Fire and Police Retirement Fund: Saltzman's done a good job here. He should keep going.

Commissioner Amanda Fritz:
If there's one way not to get the bureaus you want, it probably would include publicly trashing your colleague's budget, the week before he dishes out assignments. But then that's why we love Commissioner Fritz. She doesn't let little things like politics or even self interest  get in the way of speaking her truth. Mayor Hales, that's why you should get your own back by making sure Fritz has some big issues to solve this time around.  You should give her:

The Fire Bureau: Because Fritz is a reformer and the Fire Bureau needs to make some deep changes. She's also a people person, so she'll be able to bring change to the bureau without setting it ablaze. She'll pay attention to what's most important to firefighters –and to the public.

Office of Neighborhood Involvement: Fritz has done a good job with neighborhood involvement.  If she stays at the helm here, it will continue to run well.  

Office of Equity: Let Fritz have another try at the Office of Equity, which after all, was her baby.  This time around, let's hope she directs the staff to connect more with folks outside the city hierarchy as well as looking for internal reforms.

Bureau of Planning and Sustainability: because long-term thinking is what she does best. And because equity is at the heart of sustainability.

Commissioner Nick Fish:
After earning a national gold medal for Portland Parks Department, and building a solid foundation at the Housing Bureau, Commissioner Fish has proved himself to be a capable, politically savvy leader. He would do a great job with:

The Parks Bureau:  The bureau doesn't need much reform. What it needs is expansion to the underserved communities in the city.  If any commissioner has the drive and passion to go out and get that bond money, it's Commissioner Fish.

Bureau of Environmental Services:  because it's a natural fit with the Parks Bureau. Because sewers, stormwater drains and waste management are not glamorous, but Fish will love them anyway.

Procurement: Fish has managed to increase diversity at Parks, and would carry that into city business and contracting.

Commissioner Steve Novick:
Portland's newest commissioner has a powerful grasp of what's wrong with our economy and has deep roots in the state's plans for Obamacare. He needs bureaus where he can build on a solid base and use his creativity. That's why you should give him:

Housing: Because Novick will find ways to house more needy people by leveraging his healthcare knowledge and connections.

Office of Community Technology: Because Novick has an intuitive grasp of why everyone needs high-speed internet. Maybe just maybe Novick could find a way to make this happen in Portland.

Bureau of Development Services: Because Novick's strengths include day-to-day deal making, and because he can connect with small business owners and community activists.

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