We shouldn’t need DIY government

I’ve lived in Portland most of my life. I’ve raised my kids here. I run my businesses here. I have deep roots in my community.

When I was young, we used to say that Portland was a big small town. That’s no longer true. We have a world class food industry, an amazing arts culture, innovative tech companies, and more. I love the New Portland. But I loved Old Portland, too, and our growth has brought growing pains. Housing is increasingly unaffordable, homelessness is a humanitarian crisis and has become a public safety issue, and despite recent revenue surpluses we don’t seem to have enough money to pay for basic services. And I ask myself… What happened?

Too much vision. Too little common sense.

While city council has spent the past past few years making parts of Portland world class, they have ignored the potholes, the people without a place to live, staffing issues at our public safety bureaus, and East Portland all together. Increasingly, it’s a great city for some and a crumbling city for others.

But this is my Portland, one of the most compassionate cities I know. As I go around the city, I find community groups and neighborhood associations and non profits trying to do what the city won’t. Providing outreach to the homeless, creating best practices for developers, even marking bike lanes.  This is all great, but where is City Hall in this?

Portland has a great Do It Yourself maker community, but we shouldn’t have to do DIY government.

What I’ve learned from being an engaged community member on three different boards and from my days working against the Street Fee is that City Hall thinks the public input is simply a box to be checked while they dream the impossible dream and leave most of the rest of us behind.

We can do better. Our citizens are our best resources. They are smart and innovative and rather than governing despite them, we should be embracing and collaborating with them.

We need to set good priorities, placing basic services for everyone first.

We need good, innovative ideas mixed with plenty of common sense.

And we need good management of our revenue dollars, making sure that we take care of our needs list before working on our wish list.

If you agree, I hope you’ll support me in my bid to make those things happen.