Good Government for the People
About this Episode
February 4, 2020
Sarah releases her plans for a healthy, grassroots democracy, powered by community politics. Read her full Good Government for the People policy at sarah2020.com/goodgov
- Tweet of the week by @JoAnnPDX
- Check out our new events page and get involved in the campaign at sarah2020.com/events
Have a question for Sarah? Email it to [email protected].
Announcer: [00:02] Welcome to our Portland with Sarah Iannarone. Made possible by contributors to Friends of Sarah for Portland. Portlanders have everything we need to make radical progress today on emergencies like climate chaos, housing affordability, and staggering inequality. Each episode we'll hear how Sarah plans to be the mayor to lead the city of Portland to a more equitable and sustainable future. And now, here's Sarah.
Sarah: [00:32] Welcome to the Our Portland podcast, I'm Sarah Iannarone and I am running for Portland mayor in the May primary election. It's just about four months until election day and we are in full swing. I use the pronouns she and her. In this episode I will cover a few news stories from the past two weeks, talking through my new Good Government By The People policy, and of course the tweet of the week.
Sarah: [00:57] In big news we now have an events page on our website at sarah2020.com/events, but make sure you visit sarah2020.com/volunteer if you want to be on the front end, bringing those events together, helping us deliver lawn signs, other really fun activities you can find on our events page or even opportunities if you want to cook for folks or help distribute literature at events, things like that.
Sarah: [01:26] A few news updates before we get into the meat of the good government policy. Today kicks off the Oregon legislature short session. As KATU news reported today are going to start with a renewed battle over cap and trade. It looks like this is not going to be easy. This is a short 35 day session that happens every other year and both Oregon Democrats and Republicans are going to talk once again about cap and trade. It doesn't look like the Republicans are going to be particularly cooperative on this. If you remember, in 2019, they actually walked out of the Capitol amid protests over House Bill 2020, which would have installed a carbon tax on Oregon businesses. That walkout was followed by a massive protest outside the Capitol building by a group called Timber Unity, some rural Oregonians who are concerned about economic impacts of the bill, ostensibly. I'm not sure how we're going to pull this off. I'm looking forward to some leadership out of Salem and seeing how that's going to go.
Sarah: [02:35] State Senator Ginny Burdick said she doesn't really expect Republican lawmakers to walk out of the Capitol this time around. She was quoted as saying, I think the voters vote us in to do a job. If they don't come to work and they stopped the session, the voices of their constituents will not be heard and that's wrong. This is going to be the overriding issue, continued Burdick, a lot of what we do in the short session is very important, but none of them are as controversial as this issue.
Sarah: [02:59] And now on the serious side, Fox 12 Oregon is reporting that a 50 pound crystal has been stolen from a Southeast Portland jewelry store and the owner's quoted as saying, at least they left me a rock. So last week a Southeast Portland jewelry store fell victim to a smash and grab the thief made off with a 50 pound quartz crystal. It's something you would like to see almost in a museum. It's so beautiful, said, Jody Howard, the owner. The jewelry store has been on Hawthorne Boulevard for over a year. It's a small business and I don't ever like to see small businesses hurt. So while I'm making light of this situation, and while I haven't really seen where Marianne Williamson is hanging out since that debate last fall, I do hope that that jewelry store recovers because they do want to see our small businesses in our neighborhood business districts succeed. For those of you who are paying attention on the crystal scene, keep your eyes out. The crystal's a translucent smoky gray with jagged edges. Despite the setback the store owner believes the crystal likely won't be found, but nevertheless, they're going to maintain a sense of optimism. At least they left me a rock in place of the one they stole. Howard said, that's my attitude. Tactical optimism day in, day out wins the race.
Sarah: [04:20] So it's all fun and games until the Portland police tell us they're going to seek our feedback on a door hanger initiative that they've come up with to engage the community around combating gun violence. They put out a press release on February 3rd talking about gun violence as a significant problem in Portland neighborhoods, touching virtually every corner of the city. But the Portland Police Bureau is proposing a new door hanger initiative designed to help members of the Bureau engage the community to be part of the solution. They are currently seeking public comment on the proposed door hanger design. Members of the Gun Violence Reduction team, which I would actually like to defund, will be distributing the door hangers in neighborhoods where gun violence has happened, which according to the press releases all over the neighborhood.
Sarah: [05:11] So while it's common for the officers to canvass neighborhoods after a shooting, they write in the press release, they're often not able to make contact with every resident, business or community member in the area. Soon officers will leave door hangers with contact information and a request that the community member reach out if they saw or heard anything or have pictures of video of the incident that they could share. So even though the police press-release asked for feedback on the door hanger design, I'm going to give some more general feedback on the program and my feedback is this, don't do it. I don't know who came up with this idea, but sending armed officers to knock the doors of private residences is scary for people who are from vulnerable populations. I know I don't even like to have armed officers knocking on the door of my house.
Sarah: [06:00] It's an invasion of privacy. I find it very offensive that police would come to my house uncalled, it feels like a waste. I'm not sure if this is a best practice that they've got proof that this has worked in other cities. Somehow I doubt it. If they'd like to substantiate that this has worked to reduce gun violence in other places, maybe I would think twice about it, but from what I'm hearing now, I just can't say that I agree. And ultimately as someone who's about to be out knocking doors day in and day out for the next four months, rain or shine as part of an election, I want people to open that door feeling safe, like they're being part of a healthy democracy, not threatened when people come knocking on the doors. So I really don't want to be competing with Portland Police when it comes to canvassing time, and I'm sure there are so many other people in Portland who are going to be out canvassing for elections who agree with me on this point, that we shouldn't be sending armed police officers to canvass private residences as an anti gun violence tactic.
Sarah: [07:03] And segueing from my commentary on the police gun violence door hanger program, I want to move into the Tweet of the Week. This week's Tweet of the Week goes out to City of Portland commissioner Joanne Hardesty. You can find her online, @JoAnnPDX. And what she commented on was a work session that was held at City Hall last week on a proposed ban on facial recognition technology. And what she said is this, a ban on facial recognition technology is about racial justice and a right to privacy. This is about whether or not we will allow companies that have a financial motive to gather our information, to sell it and utilize it in a way that is detrimental to our community.
Sarah: [07:48] She continues this proposal respects the right of every person in the city of Portland to own their body and their biometrics. It is totally within our personal right to decide whether or not we want Google or Amazon to have our individual data. I agree with her 100% and I am grateful for her leadership on this issue. I have listened carefully to that work session. I listened carefully to experts on this issue. I listened carefully to community members on this issue and following the lead of commissioner Hardesty have put something along these lines into my Good Government policy, which we're going to dive into next.
Sarah: [08:28] All right, folks, for those of you who've been following this campaign, you understand that we have a few things we're doing differently than other campaigns. One we're running as a publicly financed campaign. I was the first candidate in the history of our city to qualify for our new Open and Accountable Elections program, which means every contribution from a Portland resident up to the first $50 is matched six to one from a public fund.
Sarah: [08:55] Now, the purpose of this program is to ensure that everyday Portlanders like me, small business owners, people who send their kids to public schools, people who just earn the median wage, can actually viably compete against the old money, the big money, the entrenched networks, the people with high name recognition for leadership positions and positions of power. And why is that important? Because controlling the decision making in those positions of power, generally has only benefited elites. The affluent, the established, the people who have towns and cities and streets named after them, not everyday Portlanders. So this is a remarkable program and I'm encouraging everyone of you who's listening to, if you haven't contributed that first $50 or if you've only contributed five or 10 to please get that first $50 into our campaign as soon as possible. So that we can grow this effort to unseat the incumbent and really make some positive change in the City of Portland. If we're gonna achieve our community goals, we must invest in a healthy grassroots democracy.
Sarah: [10:06] Now another thing that's pretty different about our campaign is the fact that in addition to some very engaging grassroots organizing that we've been doing out in the community, talking with everyone from high school students to families in their homes, to business owners, in their offices to public appearances at conferences and community forums and debates, we are putting out comprehensive policy packages that are made up of some of the most progressive but also vetted by experts, by community members, by best practices from other cities, that you're going to see in a municipal election in the US today. So the first one that we released when the campaign was just getting underway last fall was our climate justice plan. That was our green new deal for our Portland. Um, you can find that at sarah2020.com/greennewdeal.
Sarah: [10:59] After that we released a sweeping public safety plan that really thinks critically about how we spend our public safety dollars and how we can actually use those dollars to keep Portlanders safe every day as they move about our city. That's at sarah2020.com/publicsafety. The plan that followed that was our Housing for All plan and in there we talk about the range of issues and the range of housing styles and affordability mechanisms that we can use to make sure that there's a place for every single Portlander to call home, and you can find that at sarah2020.com/housing. And so all three of those are worth a good sit down or you can listen to the podcasts that were released with those. So when you visit those pages, there are podcasts just like this one that have me talking through the policy.
Sarah: [11:49] This week we're really proud to announce our Good Government By The People plan. As Portland grows, it can feel more crowded, uncaring, and inaccessible than ever before. And I'm running for mayor because I understand that despite these growing pains, city government is one of the most important levels for problem solving. It's not the lowest on the food chain after federal, state, and county governments. I truly believe that cities are a place where we can make a difference in the lives of people and also on global issues like inequality and climate change. It's a time worn saying that I think holds true now more than perhaps ever, that we must think globally, act locally as a city, we can work to make sure that our people are protected from the threats that are emerging, whether that's climate chaos, inequality, the rise of authoritarian nationalism, which we're seeing in cities all around the world, and for us to achieve our goals, we have to have a healthy democracy that's no longer powered by big money and special interests that got us into this mess, but instead, that's powered by community based politics.
Sarah: [13:00] Big money in politics is an existential threat to our democracy. Because of that, I am fiercely committed to ensuring that Portlanders are empowered to be change agents in their own lives and communities with direct access to the levers of power that for too long have been reserved from political insiders, wealthy donors, and corporate lobbyists. I want to make sure that the people that I believe in most to make transformative change in the city aren't the ones that are being locked out of City Hall. I want them to have access to the power inside City Hall and I'm going to use everything that I can do once elected mayor to ensure that residents from all walks of life in every corner of this city who want to be a part of our democracy and contribute to making Portland a better place, feel their voices are heard, and that their experience and expertise are valued in building the future of our Portland.
Sarah: [13:55] I've said it before and I'm probably not going to stop saying it, but I firmly believe that we have everything we need to make radical progress on our most pressing issues, climate change, the housing crisis, inequality. If we harness our resources, empower our people and organize our communities into a formidable force for change. But our 19th and 20th century governance models, they're not even remotely equipped to handle these problems, let alone the problems we can't even envision coming at us in the 21st century. I firmly believe that this election, we have a unique opportunity to dismantle outdated institutions and come together to begin building a new society based on the values of sustainability, inclusivity, and community prosperity that I know we share. In 2019 half of Portlanders responding to the community insight survey felt they had little or no power to influence city decisions on issues important to them.
Sarah: [14:54] If we want to put power in the hands of everyday Portlanders, then we must invest in a healthy grassroots democracy from Garden Home to Hayden Island, Cathedral Park to Powell Butte. The policies I'm going to talk about briefly here on the podcast now are my roadmap for ensuring that we as a city are as effective, efficient, and equitable as possible. We're going to go through this next section pretty quickly, but I want you to know that you can go to our website, sarah2020.com/goodgovernment and read these more in depth. But there are a few things that I wanted to point out to you, just that you have a sense of how I'm looking at this problem and the five aspects that we're going to approach it from.
Sarah: [15:37] Number one is making sure that our elections are honest and inclusive. So a few of the ideas that I proposed for us to be able to do this are making sure that our city ballot is open to all residents. I think immigrants, refugees, and asylee strengthened every aspect of our city. And so I'm going to work to make sure that their perspectives are involved as we shape policies moving forward. These are community members who live work, pay taxes, raise families and own businesses here, and they're disenfranchised from our democratic decision making. While federal law prohibits them from voting in federal elections, states and cities are free to make our decisions about who votes. And so I think that we should join, say the San Francisco school board that allows non-citizen residents to participate in the decisions of their district. Another part of honest, inclusive elections is making sure that we're voting properly. The winner takes all model. Is that fair? We should probably look at things like they're doing in Lane County. I know it didn't pass, but the people of Lane County talked about a rank choice voting, other methods like star voting, and as the charter review process gets underway, we might want to think about how we vote in the city. It would help us make sure our elections are more inclusive and representative.
Sarah: [16:50] Another thing we can do is petition electronically. Our civic institutions are changing and some segments of our city are pretty comfortable engaging on social media and public discussion boards. So making things available electronically can help us expand access. Now I've talked about this a bit, but getting big money out of Portland politics is very important. And throughout this whole campaign, I've committed not only to getting big money out of politics, but promoting the policies that Portlanders have said that they want to ensure this happens. So in 2018 I was one of the 87.4% of Portland voters who supported an update to the city charter that outlawed contributions in elections larger than $500. Now of course there are people like the Portland Business Alliance who see this as a infringement of their free speech and are taking us to court so that we can allow them to write the big checks that represent their free speech. But I'm against that. So I have kept all contributions to my campaign at $250. I won't be accepting any contributions over $250.
Sarah: [17:58] Furthermore, we need to strengthen and expand the Open and Accountable Elections program. I'm honored to be the first candidate in history to qualify for it. I think it's going to make it possible for us to win this grassroots campaign against a millionaire incumbent with deep pockets and big money donors. This is transformative policy and it's going to bring new voices in new ideas into the city's halls of power. However, as it's currently structured, the program is vulnerable and so we want to make sure that the program is successful for future generations of Portlanders and we make sure that it's sustainably funded, housed in a safe place permanently in the city that insulates it from the day to day politics on City Council. So that's the first part, making sure that we have really inclusive and honest elections processes.
Sarah: [18:45] The second part, we need a government that represents the people. Now a lot of people come to me and say, what are you going to do about the commission form of government? And my position is that we need to reform the weak mayor commission through a robust charter review process. Now I don't have a preconceived notion of what the community will come out on the other side of this process, but I trust in them to engage in it in ways that reflect our values, an unwavering commitment to both spacial and social justice to equity and inclusion. I don't want us to just go away from what doesn't work, which is a form of government that has historically been whiter, wealthier, more male and with power concentrated west of the Willamette. But rather for us to think carefully about how we're going to govern ourselves and meet our goals in the future.
Sarah: [19:45] A few more things I think we can do apart from the form of government that can help us be more representative. We can improve the appointment process to make sure that they're open and transparent with justification provided for appointments and clear conflicts of interests stated and people recusing themselves when they do have conflicts of interest. We need to make sure that we're matching people with the skills, life, experience and interest that put them in the best place to contribute to the city for the public good. I've also proposed that we engage in participatory budgeting. I've long been an advocate for this model in which I understand that community members know best what their community needs. I serve on a budget committee. I disagree sometimes when the decisions and how they're made. And a participatory budgeting model is very democratic. It has worked in many cities around the world to bring otherwise underrepresented groups into active development of their city.
Sarah: [20:43] Participatory budgeting helps us build the next cohort of city leaders by giving people an opportunity to learn how the city works and see effects of their participation. So yeah, go participatory budgeting. I want to make investments in voter turnout and civic education. I want to make sure that the language we're using in city government, in our documents, in our meetings and processes is simple, clear that everyone can understand presented in a range of formats that are translated and accessible. And this is going to be very important moving forward if we're going to ensure an accessible municipal government. I firmly believe that the best ideas for our city come from the people who face and surmount everyday challenges here, and we need to make sure that Portlanders are able to communicate with our city. So reducing barriers to participating in city government is something that I will champion.
Sarah: [21:39] I want to make sure that every Portlander is equipped and empowered to be a part of making Portland the best place that it can be. Adoption and adherence to open data standards and formats and preferences for non proprietary systems will make our city more accessible and actually lower our costs, opening our government to the people in the long term. I can point you toward a podcast I think was pretty influential in my thinking on this, it's by Beth Noveck, N O V E C K, and it's called Demand a more Open Source Government. When you're done listening to this podcast, maybe you want to go listen to that one in the Ted Talks library. Beth Noveck, N O V E C K, about demanding a more open source government.
Announcer: [22:27] We just wanted to remind you that Sarah 2020 stickers, spoke cards for your bike, and posters are available for purchase online at sarah2020.com/store. These items are sold at cost for less than $2 each, so please consider supporting the campaign by adding a donation to your purchase. Now, back to Sarah.
Sarah: [22:50] And finally when it comes to representation, the last thing I thought we should talk about is the role of neighborhoods. On July 18th, 2018 city council passed a resolution number 37373 which began the process of updating the city code chapter 3.96 to define the functions and responsibilities of the office of community and civic life. As Portlanders we need to think long and hard about our civic engagement processes at the neighborhood scale to make sure we're meeting our primary goals of affordability, equity, and climate change adaptation. Resilient cities are well prepared with the empowered connected communities necessary to face the challenges of increasing uncertainty. At present, our fractured neighborhoods are not ready or prepared to deal with natural economic or political upheaval. I don't know that I have the answers, but I do know that we need to come together to address these problems while improving livability and ensuring equitable prosperity for all residents.
Sarah: [23:57] New leadership in the mayor's office offers a prime opportunity for us to reframe these issues as opportunities largely within the public safety framework that I laid out in my other policy, which means that we come together as a community to develop solutions, especially when it comes to keeping Portlanders safe. Does this mean dealing with homelessness? Yes. Does this mean creating solutions for people who are in mental health crisis? Yes. It also means disaster preparedness and even emergency management. I believe that with creativity, commitment to equity and empirically driven decision making, we can begin to come together to address these diverse yet intersecting sets of problems at the neighborhood scale.
Sarah: [24:42] When it comes to big ideas that aren't any shortages in this campaign. It's one of the things that we've thought very hard about, which is Portlanders are feeling uninspired, disconnected, and maybe even afraid about the future. Dismayed by the lack of leadership and the lack of bold ideas because we're facing a lot of problems. And so I wanted us to think big in this next section I called Bold Government for 21st century solutions where I lay out a few of the things that we need to think, structural changes that we can make to ensure Portland is sustainable and prosperous well into the next century. What do those look like? Municipal broadband. Hello, this is a no brainer for me. When you think about the fact that Sandy, Oregon has already accomplished it, that with approximately $500 million we could have high speed fiber to every household in the city. When you think about the economic capacity that would build for us, not just in the people being able to access that, but that people in the companies that we will be growing and cultivating who are installing this. We've got to do this. I support municipal broadband.
Sarah: [25:48] Public bank. Again, hello, we're spending absurd amounts of money developing our city and most of the profits from that are being exported from our city directly to Wall Street every time we renovate a school building or build a new public building. I want to charter a municipal bank that will help us become financially independent of wealthy financeers and keep millions of dollars of our money circulating in our community. Again, is it going to be easy? No. Do we need to do it? Yes, and let's do it as quickly as we can.
Sarah: [26:27] And then another one which brings us back to the tweet by Commissioner Hardesty that I referenced is digital rights and sovereignty. This is something that we need to think very deliberately about as Portlanders. Digital technology be used in service of democracy or it can lead us right into authoritarian repression. The rapid pace of innovation on this front represents an unprecedented challenge for communities, especially marginalized and communities of color for whom the deployment of emerging technologies historically has exacerbated economic and racial inequities. We are going to need to come together as Portlanders in a robust dialogue about the risks and opportunities of technological innovation for our democratic institutions and for equity and inclusion as well as for privacy and data ownership for Portlanders. I worry that despite the gains we've made since we applied for but didn't get that federal challenge grant back in 2016 that propelled us onto the global stage in terms of smart cities, we're falling short in my estimation of our mandate to implement a human and civil rights centric framework, which will protect the rights of Portlanders above profit-seeking from industry and this is what Commissioner Hardesty was talking about in terms of protecting Portlanders from Amazon and Google.
Sarah: [27:57] Following the lead of cities like Barcelona, Amsterdam, New York, I propose that we craft Portland's manifesto for technological sovereignty in digital rights for our people. Keep your eye out. We're going to be putting something out about that in the future as a standalone, but for now I just want you to know that I'm thinking very carefully about technological sovereignty in digital rights for Portlanders in this framework.
Sarah: [28:23] The fourth thing that we need to talk about is transparency and accountability. You can't talk about good government without transparency and accountability. It's one of our biggest challenges. But again, I think with clear objectives, clear plans, and clear metrics, we can start to make more progress on this front than we've been able to make to date. One of the biggest things I've heard while I was out on the campaign trail is the way that the current administration has been diluting the city's commitment to community benefit agreements in public investments, which would ensure that we were putting our tax dollars on capital investments to work not only in creation of public infrastructure, or sometimes maintenance of public infrastructure, but that those dollars support minority and women in the trades and growth of contracting companies owned by members of disadvantaged communities.
Sarah: [29:18] So I propose a robust project labor agreements policy for all capital improvement projects built with public money. Now under mayor Ted Wheeler, the city has raised the cost at which these click into effect to $25 million. Now when you look at Seattle and what they do there, their community workforce agreements process clicks in at $5 million project costs. So I want us to make sure that as we're making these public investments, we are both accountable and transparent in those expenditures and making sure that communities, people right here in Portland are benefiting from those investments in multiple ways.
Sarah: [30:00] In that same vein, I want us to look at the purchasing public process. So in April of 2019 the council doubled the procurement offices contracting authority to $1 million, which means in theory the city could use $999,999 without any public debate or discussion. The public has little ability to challenge or will even know about city contracts. So there are some things I think below $1 million that have political, ethical quality of life implications that we should probably think carefully about. My administration is going to review the efficacy of this change and develop policies that still allow for efficient council sessions while also requiring public discussion and debate for expenditures that are of interest to the public.
Sarah: [30:50] Another part of this is public records requests. So I want to increase transparency in public records requests by claiming exemptions only when they're necessary to prevent harm or to protect legitimate public interests, not political interests. I want to increase access to public records by charging predictable fees designed to encourage vigilance by the public impress and to tax bulk data mining by corporations. Further, I want to provide low cost access to anyone who requests records related to themselves or lost loved ones. Portland should treat the police Bureau like other agencies. Right now they keep a separate outdated email system that's harder to search and easier to quote unquote lose emails. PPB needs to transition to Office 365 like the rest of the city bureaus. As mayor I will institute a $20 flat fee for any email search that captures fewer than 100 email documents and also provide public access to all records requests on a website, but allow the requester to opt into a 72 hour embargo to protect journalists.
Sarah: [32:01] Another point in accountability and transparency, we need to streamline the public complaint process. The City provides many distinct services to the public from building permits to police to sewer and water pipes. Today, if a community member has reason to complain, they're subject to a huge variety in processes across different services. I want us to implement a single standard centralized process for community member complaints. These complaints can be tracked easily so that we know where we are in the process and also whether or not we've resolved them. This is something I think will be very popular across a wide range of Portlanders who express frustration to me day in and day out that they have a very hard time solving any problems in our city government right now.
Sarah: [32:46] And finally when it comes to accountability and transparency, we need to solicit public input that matters. As someone who serves on many advisory committees, I don't always know that that's a good use of my time and I'm one of the more privileged people in Portland. Our local government is pretty good at soliciting community input, but from there what happens with it? In some cases it seems to be ignored completely. In other cases, it's manipulated or cherry picked and used when it conveniently supports a preexisting preference. This uncertainty teaches the public that it can be a waste of their time to participate. If elected, I'm going to work really hard based on my firsthand experience to change the city's public engagement processes to make sure that the community engagement model is meaningful, accountable, efficient, and effective.
Sarah: [33:36] And the last point I want to talk about before we wrap up is the notion of leadership in civic innovation. As many of you know, my job the last decade has been to host visiting leaders from around the world who come to Portland to study policies and best practices that they can then take home to make their places better. Now, many people may know that leaders from Japan or Korea or Australia or Europe come here to study transportation systems, neighborhood redevelopment, community investments like the Portland Mercado. But they may not know that many people come here to study a civic innovation that many of us take for granted, which was the development of our neighborhood system. As much as we're struggling with that now, making sure that it's equitable, accountable, transparent, and working effectively, other places haven't even begin to thought about that Jeffersonian level of democracy and what it means to engage people at small scale where they are the experts and know best.
Sarah: [34:35] So I want us to think carefully about, you know, a lot of the stories that we tell ourselves about our leadership are stories that are 40 and 50 years old, and the neighborhood associations go back to the seventies, but what would it mean for us to be leaders in civic innovation today? I think there are a few things that we can do to really own that legacy and make good on our claims that we are a leader in terms of not only sustainable prosperity, but making sure that we have a truly healthy democracy for our people. So we're hunkered down here in the Silicon forest. Technology is one of our economic clusters. We have a very strong tech sector. We need to think about civic software for community engagement. We can use open source software to engage the expertise and lived experience of our residents when there are more people than can fit in one location.
Sarah: [35:32] Perhaps a digital forum would allow us to discuss issues and communicate directly with our government, propose ideas or even vote on them with the most discussed proposals being brought before city council for consideration. If participation has meaningful feedback from city staff as to why it may be isn't possible, then people see a purpose in contributing their time, their intelligence, their creativity to a public forum that's directly integrated to municipal government. How many times have you shown up at a community forum or community conversation or listening session to give your input only to have it ignored. We need to make sure that we're doing everything we can, so civic engagement here is meaningful. There are models that can be adapted. We're not reinventing the wheel here, but Reykjavik, Madrid, Barcelona, and Taiwan are all exploring this and I think Portland should do the same. We need to be open for good ideas.
Sarah: [36:29] The Obama White House hosted a feature called Open for Questions that allowed Americans to post questions publicly and users from across the country could up vote or down vote the ones they wanted to hear the White House address. When I was in Seoul, South Korea last year, they had a big digital board on the outside of city hall where residents could post their questions and if they were popular then the government would answer them. I think that this platform would be very popular in Portland and so I'm gonna make sure that my office, once I'm elected, commits to researching and responding to the most popular ideas that Portlanders put forward, including next steps for making them happen.
Sarah: [37:08] We need to tap into our strengths here. When it comes to startups and startup cultures, this mindset of innovation can help us transform government services. When you think about how government has worked historically, it's not always the most efficient. As a small business founder have a really good understanding about how being nimble keeps you successful. And historically, city agencies have drafted RFPs, which are requests for proposals that spell out exactly what we're looking for from vendors, and then the vendors fill out those requests and we do problem solving from there. But modeling on a program out of Scotland called CivTech, I think that we can take our innovation to the next level, encouraging bureaus and agencies around the city to focus on problem solving foremost rather than just standardized processes because that's the way that something's always been done. So if we partner with emerging entrepreneurs, our government agencies are going to be able to solve problems faster and more effectively while making sure, again that our precious tax dollars that go into these contracting efforts are supporting our emerging startups. It seems like a win win to me. Again, another no-brainer.
Sarah: [38:19] And finally we need to get out of downtown when it comes to engaging people in our democracy. In the Good Government plan, I call this move City Hall. If I'm elected mayor, I will be the first mayor residing east of 60th street. It doesn't even really seem that far out. Right. But I will be the furthest east residing mayor ever elected in the City of Portland. I don't know about you, but downtown is a finance center. It's a commerce center. And I know there are a lot of government offices here, but there's no reason why Portlanders who want to engage with our city should need to travel downtown in the middle of the day to participate in a city council meeting. The current schedule worked pretty well for me because I worked at Portland State right down the street, so if I needed to take time on my lunch hour and take some time off to testify at city council, that worked for me. But for just about anybody else in the city, that's not very accessible. So my administration is going to pilot a program of moving official city council meetings to different locations and times around the city. Feedback from this pilot is going to help us determine if permanent changes are warranted. I have a pretty good guess that we're going to need to set up some spaces outside the urban core that are dedicated to civic engagement to deliberation to city government, not close in in the downtown. I'm going to work with local technologists and accessibility focused and democracy focused nonprofits to make sure that in the meantime we can enhance the virtual and remote experiences of city council meetings for our residents.
Sarah: [40:05] So there's a lot there. Maybe not quite as much as there was in the public safety or housing and green new deals because it's a lot more discreet, right? City government has clear boundaries. We know if you're working inside of it or outside of it, there are clear rules that we're supposed to follow. There are processes for changing those rules. And so the question really is going to be as we move forward is what does it mean to look at local government as an asset in some of our most critical problem solving? And how can we make sure that that government is as inclusive, as representative, as equitable as possible, but also as nimble as possible so that as many new things come our way, some of which we're not even able to predict right now given the pace of change that we as Portlanders are prepared for very prosperous future. Thanks for listening to me. Thanks for supporting this campaign and talk to you on the next podcast.
Announcer: [41:04] Thanks for listening to Our Portland. If you have a question for Sarah, record a voice memo on your phone and email it to [email protected] or use the #OurPortland hashtag and send us a message on social media. If you appreciate a campaign with straight talk on issues that matter, consider signing up to be a monthly supporter of $5, $10 or even $35 between now and election day in May, 2020. Find out more at sarah2020.com. You can also show your support for the campaign by visiting our merch store at sarah2020.com/store. This has been a production of Friends of Sarah for Portland.