Bringing More Sunshine to City Hall
March 29, 2016
The City of Portland is committed to open, transparent and accountable government.
This week, Nick will file an Ordinance to increase transparency in decision-making at the City. His proposal would establish new disclosure and reporting requirements for “Political Consultants.” It builds on the ethics reforms adopted by the City to cover lobbyists, and is modeled after reforms adopted by the City of San Francisco. It will be heard by Council on April 13.
Political Consultants advise City elected officials and enjoy privileged, confidential access to them. Locally and nationally, they increasingly play an important role in shaping public policy. Consultants who provide advice to elected officials may also act as registered lobbyists. When a Political Consultant acts as a registered lobbyist, and lobbies her own client, she is in effect representing both the “buyer” and the “seller” in the same transaction.
Nick’s proposal would require disclosure of the relationships between City elected officials and their Political Consultants.
In developing this new policy, Nick worked with the elected City Auditor and the City Elections Officer, as well as public interest groups including the Oregon League of Women Voters of Portland, Represent Us, Common Cause Oregon, Portland Alliance for Democracy, and the ACLU of Oregon.
This Political Consultant proposal builds on a number of actions Nick and the Council have taken to bring more sunshine and accountability to the public’s business.
Nick led the creation of two new citizen oversight bodies – the Portland Utility Board, which provides community oversight of the Water Bureau (PWB) and Bureau of Environmental Services (BES), and the Portland Housing Advisory Commission, which oversees the work of the Portland Housing Bureau. He established a unique new partnership with the Citizens’ Utility Board of Oregon (CUB), and directed his bureaus to place contracts of $500,000 or more on the Council’s discussion (Regular) agenda rather than the Consent agenda.
Finally, he supported the City Auditor’s proposal to waive fees for citizens challenging City decisions, worked with Commissioner Fritz to establish the independent City Budget Office, and pushed for reinstatement of the Chief Financial Officer role at the City.