Tag Archives: Mayor Sam Adams

Mayor Sam Adams defends proposal on city surveillance cameras

By Joanne Zuhl
Staff Writer

Mayor Sam Adams stood firm on his support of the proliferation of camera use by police under allegations from civil liberties advocates that they are ineffective and infringe on the public’s rights.

“I think the protection of civil liberties is very important but I also don’t want any of us to just dismiss the idea that this can help prevent crimes and solve crimes, because it does,” Adams told the audience at City Council today.

At issue is, by one description, a technicality in protecting property owners from damage caused by the installation, use and retrieval of cameras on their property. But it is more widely seen as a proposal by the mayor to allow the Portland Police Bureau to partner with property owners to install cameras aimed at public areas in the Old Town Chinatown neighborhood to support the illegal drug impact area program there.

The proposal had been on last week’s City Council agenda, but it was pushed to this week under pressure from Portland Copwatch and the American Civil Liberties Union to allow for more time for public consideration.

Today it was again postponed to next week after Commissioners Dan Saltzman and Amanda Fritz said they wanted to see the policies guiding the use of the cameras, which can tilt and zoom, under police control.

Dan Handelman, with the police watchdog group Portland Copwatch, said he is concerned the cameras violate the Oregon statute that prohibits the collecting and maintaining of information outside of criminal activity. Handelman testified before City Council that he was surprised to hear from City Attorney David Woboril that the city has cameras “all over the city.”

“We’re talking about giving them to law enforcement. That’s where the danger is,” Handelman said. “I don’t think there’s anything sinister about this, but I think we do need to have a discussion before this goes through.”

Becky Straus, the ACLU’s legislative director, testified that the cameras do not strike the right balance between safety and privacy.

“It’s a waste of money and there’s no evidence that it deters crime,” she told the council.

The mayor interrupted her testimony and told her to Google it.

“You said they don’t work, that they don’t prevent or solve crime,” Adams said. “We can tell you that that is patently not accurate. We do have cases where videotape has helped us apprehend someone who was dangerous … There is evidence. You can argue whether or not it’s worth the tradeoff, but there is compelling evidence that it does work.”

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Mayor Adams: Local obligations will suffer under planned federal budget cuts

By Sam Adams, Contributing Columnist

Last August, Congress passed a bill authorizing the president to increase the nation’s debt ceiling, while also requiring that the deficit be reduced by cutting spending by $2.3 trillion over 10 years. However, $860 billion of these cuts come from non-defense discretionary spending — community development block grants, housing programs, education, social programs, workforce development, transportation, and other programs that are vital to cities like Portland. Local jurisdictions rely on those funds — either directly from the federal government, or as pass-throughs from state government — to keep our local programs and safety nets intact.

The proposed federal cuts could be devastating locally, in Portland and Multnomah County, and in other metro areas. From social-service programs and affordable housing to economic development programs and infrastructure projects that put people back to work directly, our city and county rely on federal funding. Continue reading

Walking the talk for an Office of Equity and Human Rights

By Commissioner Amanda Fritz and Mayor Sam Adams

Portland has the reputation of being a progressive and innovative city, however, not all Portlanders have access to opportunities or feel welcome. People of color and people with disabilities experience higher rates of poverty and unemployment, and have shorter lifes compared with other Portlanders.

Despite past and current equity-related efforts of various bureaus in the Portland City government, significant disparities persist.  The median income for black-headed households is $30,000, while the median income for white-headed households is $46,800 (State of Black Oregon, 2009).  Although 26.3 percent of the people living in Multnomah County are of color, nearly 30 percent of people who are unhoused are of color (Communities of Color in Multnomah County: An Unsettling Profile, 2010).  The unemployment rate for persons with disabilities living outside of institutions in Oregon is 74 percent (U.S. Dept of Labor).  These numbers do not reflect who we want to be as Portlanders.

What city government has done in the past hasn’t resulted in the desired outcome of everyone sharing in the riches of our city. Disparities persist in city hiring, promotions and contracting, and services in neighborhoods. To achieve different outcomes, we need a different approach. Continue reading

Portland’s “War on Drugs” Impact Area

By Amanda Waldroupe, Staff Writer

People accused of possessing, dealing or using drugs are being excluded from or prohibited from physically entering Old Town/Chinatown. For the first time in Portland’s history, they are also being excluded from downtown Portland and the Lloyd District.

Since the program began on June 1, Portland’s new drug impact area policy has already excluded 30 people from entering those areas for at least one year, and up to three. Continue reading

Interstate and beyond: Lessons of history resonate as the city prepares to expand Urban Renewal Area

by Jake Thomas

Roslyn Hill can no longer quite visualize the neighborhood she grew up in. Probably because it doesn’t exist anymore.

While in the third grade, in the mid 1950s, her family had to leave their neighborhood in Northeast Portland to make way for development that would become the Memorial Coliseum.

The construction of the stadium has been part of the vexed history between the city and North and Northeast Portland. But the 64-year-old African American real estate developer with greying dreadlocks seems hardly bitter when recalling how her family was forced from their home. Instead she seems more focused on the commercial properties she’s been developing in Northeast Portland since moving back to the city in 1990 after a stint in the Bay Area.

Hill has been part of a renewed economic interest in Alberta Street and the surrounding area and has developed properties into coffee shops and art galleries. Today, the once gritty and crime-ridden street that is now better known for its eateries, boutiques and the creative types that have been drawn to it in recent decades.

Called the “Queen of Alberta” by some, Hill hopes that the revitalization will help transform the area into a vibrant neighborhood that retains its multicultural character while drawing newcomers who are genuinely vested in it.

But, according to Hill, Alberta isn’t reaching its full commercial potential and large chunks of it remain “underdeveloped” and could use the help of a powerful city agency that has big plans for the street and other parts of North and Northeast Portland that have followed a similar trajectory.

The Portland Development Commission, the city’s economic development arm, has had an uneasy relationship with North and Northeast Portland, a part of town that has been the heart of Portland’s African American community and has suffered from racially motivated disinvestment in the past. Continue reading

Mayor Sam Adams talks with Street Roots

By Joanne Zuhl and Israel Bayer, Staff writers

Support him or not, probably few people would want to trade places with Sam Adams right now. His first 18 months in office as Portland’s mayor has been saddled with a crushed economy that has hobbled the city’s financial status while fueling the need for city services. It has been plagued by ongoing flare-ups with police and the public, resulting in the firing of the police chief and the takeover of the bureau by the mayor’s office. And lurking in the shadows has been the rattling of recall efforts that twice failed to garner enough signatures to reach the ballot.

If it’s getting him down, it doesn’t seem to effect his game face, which more often than not remains stern and straight ahead. When we talked with him, he had just completed the 2010 City Budget — the 17th of his career working under former Mayor Vera Katz and now as mayor himself. This budget not only reflects the funding available now, but also projects a warning to bureau chiefs of the bumpy ride still to come.

Street Roots questioned the mayor about the budget and how he’s going to keep the so-called “city that works” working for everyone.

Street Roots: How does this budget stack up in terms of difficulty, obligations, priorities, etc.

Sam Adams: Putting together a city budget that balances basic services with smart investments in our city’s future is always challenging. This year’s budget was especially challenging due to the cuts to ongoing and one-time funds available. Fortunately, I work with a smart, dynamic and pragmatic group of colleagues on City Council. They fight for their bureau’s needs, but they also recognize the financial landscape we’re navigating through, and each is willing to compromise where necessary.

In terms of obligations and priorities, my first priority for this coming year’s budget (fiscal year 2010-11) was protecting the core services of the City and the services to help people most at need. It’s why I directed non-public safety agencies to cut 4 percent from their budgets and asked public safety agencies to target 2-3 percent. It’s also why I worked with Commissioner Nick Fish to increase funding to pay for increased shelter bed capacity, especially to meet more of the demand for women’s shelter beds. And, coupled with the Portland Development Commission’s budget, we’re putting $2 million toward construction of the Hooper Detox Center and additional funds toward the construction of the joint city-county mental health crisis center.

In the face of deepening county and state budget shortfalls, the City of Portland is going to have to find ways to fill the gaps created by other jurisdictions. When a person in our city is on the streets and needs services, they’re not saying to themselves, “I wish the county better funded these services.” They’re saying, “Who can I turn to for help?” So, I’ll continue to push for better funding for services for those most at-need, but I’m also committed to getting other jurisdictions — neighboring counties like Washington County and cities in our region — to increase their financial commitment to these services.

S.R.: You called this a recovery budget— what do you mean by that and what’s the forecast for Portlanders in the years to come?

S.A.: A recovery budget means that we’re not just helping people day-by-day, but that we’re funding the programs and services for people to make long-term improvements in their lives. So, for example, the Police Bureau’s Prostitution Coordination Team is about enforcing laws to curb prostitution. But it’s also coupled with a contract with LifeWorks Northwest, an amazing organization that helps women transition from lives in the sex trade to safer, healthier lives and livelihoods in the community. And I’ve continued to fund economic development efforts that help small businesses get access to start-up capital and storefront improvement dollars. At my direction, the PDC made administrative cuts that transferred $4 million toward economic development front-line programs. Continue reading

You’ve stepped up to the plate, mayor; lets hit a home run

By Jenny Westberg

An Open Letter to Sam Adams:

Dear Sam,

Thank you for responding, finally, to our repeated calls to bring accountability to the Portland Police Bureau. It may have taken a couple of months, but you took our requests to heart.

We wrote and asked you to take a specific set of actions to address serious problems in the Portland Police Bureau. We directed your attention to an alarming number of tragic outcomes between police and people with mental illness. We noted a failure of police accountability that seemed to guarantee more tragedies in the future. Continue reading