Incoming Housing Bureau Director Kurt Creager Says Portland's on the Verge of Something Big
Portland's "other" independently elected official, City Auditor LaVonne Griffin-Valade, announced in a release this afternoon that she won't be seeking re-election—meaning she'll leave office next year after just
one term one full term as the city's primary fiscal, elections, police oversight, and policy watchdog. Her statement sheds no light on her plans. Griffin-Valade also served the final 18 months of her predecessor's term.
“I first want to thank my team in the Auditor’s Office," she said in a statement. "Their professionalism and commitment to the public have made it possible for me to accomplish much of what I set out to achieve here at the City."
Her decision comes after at least one opponent had decided to try taking her on in next May's primary. Mary Hull Caballero, an auditor at Metro, announced her interest in moving over to Portland in July. Griffin-Valade's decision also comes in the midst of some ongoing high-profile efforts by her office.
Later this fall, she plans on joining Independent Police Review Director Constantin Severe, whom she oversees, in asking for greater powers in police misconduct investigations. Those efforts follow a federal investigation of the Portland Police Bureau and mark a continuation of a 2010 expansion of IPR's powers—an area where Griffin-Valade found herself working closely with retired City Commissioner Randy Leonard.
Her office, which also runs the city's clerk's office and city ombudsman's office, is working on improvements to the city's record-keeping system and proposing new rules relating to the treatment of city whistleblowers. Griffin-Valade has publicly questioned the risks involved in Mayor Charlie Hales' decision to strip away Portland's chief financial officer post—a move Hales said was made for budget reasons. Rich Goward, who held that job, outed himself as a whistleblower in an investigation his boss, Jack Graham, the head of the city's Office of Management and Finance.
"All of these important measures increase oversight, accountability, and transparency at the City," Griffin-Valade's statement said.
Her office's audits, in recent years, have played a prominent role in city hall's political hurly-burly. A 2011 audit questioning the spending of utility rate money on projects like the water bureau's "water house" and the Rose Festival headquarters wound up leading to a lawsuit that's now also given way to a ballot effort meant to rip away city hall's control of the water and environmental services bureaus. She also released a pair of audits this year describing the bureau of transportation's deep woes in paying for road maintenance. And an audit on city-county relations also wound up helping frame Portland's budget debate.
“Over the next 16 months, we will continue working full speed on a slate of important accountability initiatives and audit work.” Griffin-Valade said in her statement. “We have an ambitious schedule of performance audits to be completed by the end of 2014,” when her term is over. Some upcoming reports include audits of Housing Bureau asset management and loans; City procurement processes; Streetcar governance and operations; garbage collection and composting; and systems development charges."
The release is after the jump.
CITY OF PORTLAND
Office of City Auditor LaVonne Griffin-Valade
1221 SW 4th Avenue, Room 140
Portland, Oregon 97204
phone: (503) 823-4078
web: HYPERLINK "http://www.portlandoregon.gov/auditor" www.portlandoregon.gov/auditor
August 30, 2013
CITY AUDITOR WILL NOT SEEK RE-ELECTION IN 2014
Today City Auditor LaVonne Griffin-Valade announced that she will not run for re-election next year. “I first want to thank my team in the Auditor’s Office. Their professionalism and commitment to the public have made it possible for me to accomplish much of what I set out to achieve here at the City,” Griffin-Valade said. “Our efforts over the last several years improved the system of civilian oversight of police, questioned the appropriate spending of utility ratepayer dollars, and raised significant concerns about the City’s long-term fiscal sustainability. This work has created powerful tools to reform City government and develop policy for the public good.”
“Over the next 16 months, we will continue working full speed on a slate of important accountability initiatives and audit work.” Griffin-Valade said. “We have an ambitious schedule of performance audits to be completed by the end of 2014,” when her term is over. Some upcoming reports include audits of Housing Bureau asset management and loans; City procurement processes; Streetcar governance and operations; garbage collection and composting; and systems development charges.
In addition, Griffin-Valade and managers from the Auditor’s Independent Police Review division will go before City Council to further strengthen their authority to investigate police misconduct. The City Ombudsman in the Auditor’s Office will bring forward a proposed set of whistleblower protections for consideration by Council. Archives & Records Management will lead efforts for full Citywide implementation of the system for managing, retaining, and accessing electronic records and documents. All of these important measures increase oversight, accountability, and transparency at the City.
“I thank Portlanders for their support and appreciation of the role of the independent City Auditor,” Griffin-Valade said. “It’s that independence from Portland politics that makes having an elected auditor critical to achieving responsive and responsible government.”
Griffin-Valade began her career as a government performance auditor in the Multnomah County Auditor’s Office in 1998. She was elected Portland City Auditor in 2009 and served as the elected County Auditor before that. Along with the Audit Services Division, the Independent Police Review division, the Ombudsman, and the Archives & Records Management division, the City Auditor oversees a number of other good government functions: the Hearings Office, Elections, Council Clerk/Contracts, and the Assessments, Finance, and Foreclosure unit.