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Judge's Rule on Business Alliance's Challenge to Charter Reform

The Multnomah County Circuit Court ruled against the Portland Business Alliance’s (PBA) challenge to voting and governance measures scheduled for the November ballot. The PBA argued that the broad package of changes submitted for vote by the Charter Review Board violated the single subject requirement of the state constitution.

In today’s judgment, Justice Stephen K. Bushong concluded that the action did not violate that requirement.

This is the PBA’s second charter reform defeat this summer. In July, the city auditor’s office rejected the PBA’s request to conduct a constitutional review of the proposed reforms, with the auditor reviewing only “initiatives” (measures brought to vote by signature), He replied that it was not a “request” to a vote conducted by a governing body. Despite its setbacks, the PBA was unable to push this same claim to the Circuit Court.

In response to the ruling, Charter Review Board Co-Chair Melanie Billings-Yun told BikePortland:

The court agreed that the Portland Charter Commission had developed an integral and comprehensive plan to bring about meaningful change in city government. As Justice Bouchon stated in his decision, “All the provisions of this reform package are aptly related to the unifying principle of reforming the structure and operation of city government.” , to create a system of governance that is responsive and representative of all people in Portland. Portland voters now have the power to choose a better future for our city.

Today’s decision ends a bizarre interlude for the City Council, which has been in an awkward position to oversee the offices of the City’s auditors and attorneys defending the legitimacy of recommendations made by the Council’s appointed Charter Review Board. increase. A complete package of these recommendations ranges from lukewarm to spicy.

The Charter Review Commission (CRC) is an independent body of 20 volunteers convened by the Portland City Council every ten years to review and recommend changes to the city’s constitution, Portland’s charter. Each member of the council may nominate four charter her commissioners, who must then be approved by the council. An overwhelming majority of 15 out of 20 CRC commissioners can refer voters directly for recommended changes. This he voted 17 to 3 in June, and the current CRC has submitted its fix package to a vote in November.

Mayor Wheeler summarized the relationship between the City Council and the Charter Review Committee at the June 29 City Council meeting, and the CRC communicated their recommendations to the City Council.

Voted overwhelmingly to refer this directly to Portland residents. Obviously, you are their body, not ours. Our comments here are for informational purposes only, as opposed to policy decisions.

As of today’s Circuit Court ruling, the fate of changes to Portland’s form of government and how city officials are elected will rest in the hands of November voters.

But between now and November, the charter reform bill will face systemic opposition. Both Commissioner Mingus Maps and former council candidate Vadim Modzilski have political action committees opposing all the proposed changes in the bill. As BikePortland previously reported, Mapps’ Ulysses PAC will host a forum on alternatives to the current bill, and Mapps himself will submit a draft alternative for his Spring 2023 ballot.

Mozyrsky worked with former staffers of Chuck Duffy and former Mayor Bud Clark of Steven Moskowitz to form a partnership for the Common Sense Government to boldly oppose the ballot measure.

But the bill has a growing number of supporters, including the City of Portland Club, the League of Women Voters, and the Urban League. Also, a recently formed group, Portland United for Change, is a coalition of organizations working to help combat the CRC.

Stay tuned for more on this story.