“Portlanders will vote in May whether to strengthen the independence of the elected auditor who oversees Portland’s Independent Police Review Division and evaluates the performance of the city’s bureaus.
“The Portland City Council voted unanimously Wednesday (Feb 1) to put before voters changes to the city’s charter that would give the auditor greater independence over spending, hiring and legal decisions.
“Mayor Ted Wheeler called the unanimous decision “historic” and noted that Portland City Council needs to give the public confidence in a time when “government accountability is under siege.”
City Commissioner Dan Saltzman introduced an amendment that would greatly weaken the Auditor’s proposal, placing the Ombudsman’s role in City code instead of the City Charter. That amendment failed 4-1.
The Ombudsman earlier found undisclosed potential conflicts of interest in a key City of Portland Stakeholder Advisory Committee. That committee, the West Quadrant Plan SAC, was advising the City on real estate development deregulation, as part of the Central City 2035 Plan. The Ombudsman found that members of the SAC are public officials under ethics laws, and that the City erred in not requiring such disclosures. The Saltzman family is also known to have a number of development interests around the city.