UPDATE 2/28:  The Charter Commission announced last night that ending their work early, according to a Portland Mercury story. This means voters will not get a chance to vote on proposals to create an independent utility commission and ban horses and chemical weapons for crowd control. Charter Commission members complained that the City Council worked to frustrate their progress after they decided to tackle tough issues like police accountability.


Several of the proposals being considered by the Charter Commission are making city officials nervous, according to Steve Weiss, a member of the commission.

The 20-member city council-appointed group is given the power to create proposals that (if 15 of them agree) are then placed on the ballot to be decided by voters. Housekeeping measures and an independent utility commission proposal were supported by the city council and mayor, but when the commission started considering other more radical ideas— like instant runoff voting and police accountability— the city leaders’ nervousness began.

Two votes are expected this week: Monday, February 27 on an independent utility commission proposal and Wednesday, February 29 on a proposals that would ban the use of horses and chemical weapons for crowd control. Activists are asking for more time to work on these issues, but the mayor hasn’t agreed so far.

At the subcommittee on police accountability on Wednesday, February 22, members said public comment on that issue was still being accepted for another week, so there’s still a few more days for submissions. Take action and comment by email at: villarreal at portlandoregon dot gov or by phone at 503-823-4151 or at their website at www.portlandonline.com/chartercommission/index.cfm?=54375.

The major point made by those testifying at the police accountability subcommittee meeting was that pepper spray, tear gas and horses don’t break up protests— they only make them more chaotic and dangerous. The commission asked for comments from protesters who have had to deal with horses and chemical weapons up close, so any comments based on personal experience would help inform their opinion.

Would Portlanders ban horses and chemical weapons if given the chance to vote on it? Possibly. Should Portlanders be given the chance to vote on these issues? Definitely.

Possible vote on police accountability measure * 2/29/12 * Portland City Hall, 1221 SW 4th Avenue, 3rd Floor, Rose Room * 6 – 9 PM