Why is Commissioner Amanda Fritz 'concerned' about Chief Resilience Officer proposal?
8 Oct 2014
Does Portland really need a new government administrator called a Chief Resilience Officer?
Portland Commissioner Amanda Fritz has a long list of concerns.
And some City Hall staffers have wanted clarity about how the new job would be any different from an existing post held by Carmen Merlo, the director of Portland's Bureau of Emergency Management.
On Wednesday, the Portland City Council is being asked to approve a $1 million grant application to the Rockefeller Foundation to fund the new post. The City Council had been scheduled to vote on the grant application last month, but action was delayed following the death of Fritz's husband.
Fritz began questioning the proposal on Sept. 12, according to documents released to The Oregonian in response to a public records request.
Fritz told the Portland Bureau of Emergency Management in an email that she was "concerned" about expanding the scope of preparedness work when the city didn't have enough money to address known needs, such as replacing emergency fuel tanks.
Fritz also questioned the need for a new layer of bureaucracy, particularly for a position that would report to Mayor Charlie Hales even though the Chief Resiliency Officer would be assigned to the emergency management bureau headed by Commissioner Steve Novick.
"It seems the application is proposing to create an entire new bureau, not just one staff person? What would be the different functions of the Office of Resilience and the Office of Emergency Management?" Fritz wrote.
In some ways, those are some of the same distinctions that other City Hall employees were seeking a week earlier, as they reviewed the city's grant application.
Even one of Novick's staffers asked the Portland Bureau of Emergency Management for help explaining the proposal:
"Help me explain how a Resiliency Plan is different from your Strategic Plan or (Continuity of Operations Planning)? Where would the Resiliency Officer sit? How would that job be different than what Carmen does?"
Merlo, who is out of the office this month, told employees in an email she was able to answer many questions in a meeting with top City Hall aides.
Public answers to those private questions should emerge during today's City Council meeting, scheduled to begin at 9:30 a.m.