Finally, months after Mayor Sam Adams "laid down a marker" in his State of the City Speech (as Nick Fish put it this afternoon), the Portland City Council unanimously approved the creation of a new Office of Equity and Human Rights.
"There is no more important use of taxpayers' money than making sure that everyone has access to good jobs, that everyone has access to city services," Fritz declared.
It was a good time. Until, that is, Commissioner Dan Saltzman decided to land at least one good shot, reminding everyone that the celebration might be a bit premature. Noting the $1.1 million office budget this year, a one-time expense, he gave a warning: No action, no funding next year.
"$1.1 million can buy a lot of swimming pool hours, a lot of mental health crisis workers. I'll be watching very closely. If the Office of Equity and Human Rights does nothing more than brown bags and diversity dialogues... then you will not have achieved success. You need to achieve tangible practices, things city employees and city supervisors can get. I will not be supporting $1.1 million in ongoing funds if you fail. But if you succeed, and i hope you do, we will all be better off."
And not everyone thinks $1.1 million is enough. Said Sharon Gary Smith, director of outreach group McKenzie River Gathering: "I want multi-millions of my money spent to ensure everyone my city has access to equality and opportunity."
We'll see next year if Fritz and Adams' colleagues share that sentiment.
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