Unionists appointed to City of Portland Charter Review panel

Union members Judy O’Connor and Ed Hall have been appointed to the City of Portland’s Charter Review Commission by Mayor Tom Potter.

O’Connor is executive secretary-treasurer of the Northwest Oregon Labor Council and Hall is a member of Portland Fire Fighters Local 43 and is active in Portland Jobs with Justice. O’Connor is a member of Office and Professional Employees Local 11.

Charles Wilhoite, a financial consultant and chair of the Urban League of Portland, was appointed chair of the 25-member commission. It is the first group to review the city’s charter since 1922. More than 160 residents applied to sit on the commission.

Additionally, Potter named 11 Portlanders to serve on an Honorary Advisory Committee that will offer expertise and guidance to the commission. The group includes former Oregon Gov. Barbara Roberts and former Portland Mayor Vera Katz.

A resolution charging the Charter Review Commission with reviewing the city’s form of government, examining the role of the quasi-independent Portland Development Commission and reforming Civil Service rules was heard by the City Council on Nov 9. 

“The commission has a daunting task ahead of it, but the experience of its members, their deep roots in our community and sense of civic responsibility will ensure its success,” said Potter. “The backgrounds of those who have volunteered to serve reflect the diversity of our community.”

The City of Portland’s Charter, much like the U.S. Constitution, contains the rules and laws which describe how the city functions, organizes itself, and makes the decisions that affect its citizens’ daily lives. The Charter determines how effective the city government is, how city employees are hired and retained, what kind of service the public receives, and how tax dollars are collected and spent.

Minor changes to the Charter have been made every few years, but this is the first complete review of its form of government in more than 80 years. Portland is the last major city in the country with a commission-style of government.

The commission has a July 1, 2006 deadline. Its recommendations then will be presented to the City Council before being forwarded to the public as a ballot measure in the November 2006 election.

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