Jason Renaud: Why I'm running

Jason Renaud is co-founder of the Mental Health Association of Portland, an advocacy organization for persons with mental illness and addiction. Learn more at www.jasonforportland.com

I made an investment of my life in Portland. I grew up here, went to public schools here, made friends here, learned to work here, bought a house here, got married here, had a kid here, became a political activist here, my large and complicated family is here, my future is here.

I am invested in the city and in the success of the city. I want to make Portland a better city where my son and your children will be proud to have their homes and families.

In the campaign for City Commissioner, Position No. 3, the issues are clear.

* Civilian Oversight of the Portland Police Bureau - Police Commissioner Dan Saltzman fails to live up to community and police officer expectations for creating trust and accountability. I can change this.
* Schools and Livability - Public schools in Portland must be excellent to attract both new and established business; the City must be entirely engaged as PPS reworks itself by committing new support to families and infrastructure.
* Emerging from the National Recession - How city government is relevant and helpful during these days of high unemployment - strategic and prudent investment.


Over the past two months I've campaigned to be qualified for the Campaign Finance Fund by collecting signatures and contributions of $5. During the brief dash to qualification, I focused on repairs to the most complicated and controversial city bureau - the police.

You can help by sending an email TODAY to receive a signature form, sign it, and have a volunteer pick it up. Our deadline is January 29. Email - [email protected]

What launched my campaign for City Council is the inept response to the death of James Chasse.

For forty months I followed what happened to James Chasse. People are angry. They know what happened to James, they know how he lived and how he died, and they know no one - no police officer, no medical technician, no fireman, no jail deputy or jail nurse - no one is accountable for his death. The city's lack of action is intolerable to by persons interested in justice.

I've spent the past 17 years helping people with insurmountable problems make a plan, stick to a plan, and be successful. As a barefoot social worker on Portland's skid road, as a program manager for persons with addiction and mental illness, as a paid and unpaid spokesperson for the welfare of persons with mental illness and addiction, I am acutely aware of the complex and integrated difficulties to bureaucracy - from bottom to top.

What I do well is understand and talk about subjects other people avoid. The job of commissioner isn't to be clever or figure out problems alone; it’s more complicated. Commissioners need courage to find solutions within affected communities, to guide leadership, protect a place at the table for dissent, make sure everyone is heard, make certain all options are explored. The job is to be accountable, available, curious, engaged, to listen and decide what’s best for all.

Police Commissioner Saltzman is not alert to the needs of the community.

The community gives the police permission to use a great power - force. That power is a privileged - never a right, never to be taken for granted, never to be violated. Revoking this power is the decision of an alert representative of the community, and officers, paid employees, should not stall or quibble.

Forty months since James Chasse was killed and a basic truth is, talk is cheap. Dan Saltzman doesn't get it - he can't speak in public about his slow decision to leave Christopher Humphreys on the streets, later to shoot a twelve year-old girl with a lead pellet bag.

What we learn from these incidents - an innocent man with schizophrenia or a twelve year-old girl - is active and potent civilian oversight of police provides a necessary check and balance, which must be public and transparent and used. Protecting civilian oversight of the police was Saltzman's primary task, and he failed.

Comments

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    Police Commissioner Dan Saltzman fails to live up to community and police officer expectations for creating trust and accountability. I can change this.

    Hot beans. How?

  • Jason Renaud (unverified)
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    Eleven Point Plan to Reform the Portland Police - http://www.jasonforportland.com/news/2009/12/30/eleven-point-plan-to-reform-the-portland-police/

    Let me take a wack at the parks question from Mary's column. A parks levy idea has been floated. I love our parks, they're a great treasure for the city. Have you been to the tricycle speedway at Gammans Park? Speaking of speedways, what's the only major American city with a international raceway inside a city park? Portland and Portland International Raceway.

    But in a recession, with thousands of Portlanders out of work, with $5+ billion in current debt, with other more pressing issues such as public safety and homelessness, I think it is not the right time to take on additional debt for parks.

  • rw (unverified)
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    Doesn't "Renaud" mean, "Fox" in French?

    How could a handsome, middling-aged feller like Renaud POSSIBLY be a community activist as well?

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    Uh-Oh, Now we have a candidate offering specifics.......

    This can only end badly.

  • Mrs M (unverified)
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    Jason, I actually thought your 11 point outline was pretty good. It illustrates a number of proposed action items I would hope to see from any candidate on (at least) the top ten priorities he/she has identified. I know PPB oversight is an issue you have been passionate about. So, I have to ask if you are a one trick pony, or do you have very detailed plans /action steps for other important issues (schools, livability, transportation, jobs)as well. Also, I would like to know if publicly support or reject the effort to recall Mayor Sam Adams.

    Thank you

  • Todd Lursey (unverified)
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    [Off-topic gibberish deleted. -editor.]

  • Jason Renaud (unverified)
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    Mrs. M - good questions. I decided to focus my thinking for the qualifying period on ideas to fix the cops because time is short and they're the most complex problem we face. The passion and the thoughtfulness exemplifies what I plan to bring to City Hall. I'm also probably the only person who has Dan Handelman and Scott Westerman on my cell phone.

    About Sam. This issue splits the city, but I think about 10%-90%. The first recall didn't make a sufficient case to proceed. The second recall hasn't made it's case to proceed and seems politically shortsighted. Further, the funders of the second recall are mysterious. These items need to be immaculate prior to my signing up.

  • Mrs M (unverified)
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    Jason

    Thanks for responding. That's another step in the right direction.

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    Would you be in favor of giving tax dollars or privileges to some one or some group that wants help in building a stadium so a sports team can relocate here?

    Bob Tiernan Portland

  • Jason Renaud (unverified)
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    Hey Bob - Thanks for asking. I've attended a lot of the Rose Quarter Stakeholder meetings and watched the process un-fold to find what to do next with the Memorial Coliseum. Tonight is the big night where 40+ proposals will be unveiled. Two are viable - meaning they seem to have some business plan attached, the MARC plan and the Blazer's plan. The process has been very good; I'm disappointed the options were so limited (the bowl and box were assumed to stay.)

    Public / private partnerships are an essential part of doing government business. We don't ignore them because the private-side makes a profit. That's their incentive. But the public-side needs to be well-served with profit, community need, community engagement and agreement, and a strong record of success by the private partner.

    It's that strong record of success which is missing from the Paulson proposal (well, and the public need / process, etc.) If Portland invests $X, what is the assurance the sports team remains for the duration of the investment - none. What would balance this proposal is for Paulson to back his bet with an escrow account, say the amount of the city's investment, to be returned after ten years - or some amount of time.

    Again, trust is the key here. Do you trust your public avatars in this negotiation. No? You have the power to change them by emailing me at [email protected], receiving a signature form, signing it, and making the city-required $5 contribution. Email me today, Thursday is our real deadline.

  • SeymourGlass (unverified)
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    Jason: re the 10% - 90% split, which way do you think the 10% feels?

  • Jason Renaud (unverified)
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    Sorry - unclear about the 10% comment. I've just taken an anecdotal and completely unscientific poll, knocking on doors of about 300 houses in inner SE and NE Portland. No one expressed that removing Sam Adams from office is a priority for Portland right now.

    My guess is 90% were or are disappointed with Sam's behavior, but understand it is within the best interest of the city to proceed. Ten percent can't abide what he did and put his removal from office ahead of the rest of the city's business.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    Pat brought a rare grin.

    Thanks for addressing the Parks issue and the 12 point plan! You're back in the black on my ledger.

  • Jason Renaud (unverified)
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    Efcharisto! I can check one more item as achieved from my comprehensive campaign plan.

  • SeymourGlass (unverified)
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    Jason: thanks for the answer. I'm hoping, if you're elected, you'll use more than anecdotal, unscientific evidence upon which to base the decisions you'll make.

  • Zarathustra (unverified)
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    Forgot the FWIW. Hmmm...beware of Greek speakers bearing gifts?

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    Bob T:

    Would you be in favor of giving tax dollars or privileges to some one or some group that wants help in building a stadium so a sports team can relocate here?

    Jason Renaud:

    Public / private partnerships are an essential part of doing government business. We don't ignore them because the private-side makes a profit.

    Bob T:

    So then, if Safeway starts asking for cities to build stores for them as a condition to stay here or locate more of them here, this would be okay? By going along with the notion that these partnerships are "an essential part of doing government business", you encourage it.

    Provide proof that professional sports would disappear if no level of government subsidized the teams, stadiums, and arenas, and no privileges. Baseball, football etc were growing w/o government $$$, and will survive w/o it. All you would need to do as a member of any city council would be to inform any such team owner that if he can find a large enough parcel of land for the stadium, and the landowners are all willing to sell, that the city won't play games with him provided he pays for the infrastructure needed. If it's a case where a team is already here and threatens to relocate unless subsidized, say goodbye.

    Subsidizing these team owners so that a city can then brag that they are important for having a team is really flimsy, and the owners laugh all the way to the bank. This kind of deal also conditions citizens to believe that the government really needs to engage in all of these partnerships in order to make sure they exist to begin with, when that is total nonsense.

    Well, you don't get my vote. The only member of the city council who's shown any sense in this sort of thing is Amanda Fritz.

    Bob Tiernan Portland

  • Jason Renaud (unverified)
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    Bob, you assert in your comment ideas and sarcasm, essentially saying being open to opportunities with business is akin to accepting blackmail. I didn't say or infer that.

    "Would you be in favor of giving tax dollars or privileges to some one or some group that wants help in building a stadium so a sports team can relocate here?" was your question - a general, not specific question. I now see you were referring only to the Paulson deal.

    The Paulson deal is so cloudy and confusing everyone except soccer fans and self-interested vendors are concerned. The City has not supported many professional sports ventures - I assume they weren't viable. I agree tho; today Paulson is laughing.

    My hope is the integrity and acumen of the City's negotiators be equal or better than the business side. We have far more common interests than profit and need to assert those interests confidently and publicly. This, I think, is attractive policy to enterprises which understand a fair deal for both sides is the best way to do business.

  • Bob Tiernan (unverified)
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    Jason Renaud:

    Bob, you assert in your comment ideas and sarcasm, essentially saying being open to opportunities with business is akin to accepting blackmail. I didn't say or infer that.

    Bob T:

    The "blackmailing" is done by the team owner(s), not the politician. But they do it only because the politicians let them.

    Jason Renaud:

    I now see you were referring only to the Paulson deal.

    Bob T:

    That's a recent example one can't help but hint at, but I'm speaking of all such deals. Far worse than than piddling soccer deal was what was being contemplated here when there was a (very slim) chance of luring the Expos here not too many years ago. It included such obnoxious ideas as letting the millionaire players' state income taxes go right into paying for their place of employment. Would it not be the same thing as taking Safeway employees' state income taxes and using it to build/maintain the stores they work in? It gets really absurd by going down this route. Politicians with guts and integrity are the ones who say "No" to team owners trying to get money that will make them even richer (like GW Bush did in Texas).

    Jason Renaud:

    The City has not supported many professional sports ventures - I assume they weren't viable.

    Bob T:

    Most likely because Porltand is not a big city, despite what many politicians and other elitists want to believe. It helps their egoes to believe that. After all, why wouldn't they want to think that they are in a city important enough to have major league baseball and direct flights to Europe and Asia? The news anchors are among them, yet they let slip how big Portland really is when the second or third story on the news is about the zoo's goat dying.

    Because of government's intervention in professional sports stadiums, etc., the sports in question were not allowed to find their proper level in the market. We'd have smaller, less expensive stadiums and arenas, and perhaps players making $500,000 per year at most. This form of entertainment would not have disappeared at all but would have continued to grow as it had been since the beginning. We'll never run out of young adults who'd love to play a sport for a living -- even $50K a year.

    These deals cause people to shift their entertainment dollars around a bit, but that's all. Studies show that, clearly. If not at a game one day, they'd be at the movies, or at a nice restaurant, or a picnic at Rooster Rock State Park.

    We don't people who'll play into this "Gee, if we don't use tax dollars to get that team, some other city will get it". So what. You might learn something from Michael Moore's "Roger & Me", where he exposes the "community cultural center" for what it was -- an expensive nonsense project sold to the taxpayers with all kinds of promises that could never materialize. We do the same thing with the convention center ("Gee, we have to make our bigger again because we're losing conventions to San Francico again").

    Bob Tiernan Portland

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