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Amanda Fritz touts street funding plan and hopes for third term

Posted by on January 29th, 2015 at 3:42 pm

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Commissioner Amanda Fritz in 2011.
(Photo: J.Maus/BikePortland)

The 2016 election cycle is revving up all over the country, Portland City Hall included.

City Commissioner Amanda Fritz surprised many local political pundits yesterday when she announced her plans to seek a third term. The announcement came the same day that the once-marginalized city council member won a 4-1 vote to dedicate 50 percent of surplus money over the next four years to “infrastructure maintenance and replacement” for roads, parks and emergency services.

The Oregonian reports that Fritz’s proposal will apply to “one-time funding identified during the annual budget process or excess money carried from one budget to the next.” It’s apparently intended as a sort of make-up call for the city’s infamous failure to follow through on a 1988 plan to dedicate 28 percent of utility license fees for transportation.

Opposing Fritz’s measure was her colleague Dan Saltzman, who said the council was “setting ourselves up to be criticized” by attempting to tie the hands of future councils.

For yesterday’s article, Fritz told The Oregonian’s Brad Schmidt that she plans to finance her 2016 campaign largely out of a life insurance payment from her late husband Steve Fritz, who died in a freeway crash in September when a person headed the opposite direction hit a tanker trailer and then veered across the grassy median into him. He’d been commuting to his job as a psychiatrist for Oregon State Hospital in Salem.

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Amanda Fritz is the only non-incumbent ever elected to Portland’s city council with public financing. Two years after her 2008 victory, Portland voters killed publicly funded elections, which were loudly opposed by the Portland Business Alliance, the regional chamber of commerce. In 2012, Fritz won a second term by donating $300,000 of her own money into the campaign.

“Fritz said her husband had picked up extra shifts, working the equivalent of two full-time jobs, in the years since to help rebuild their savings,” Schmidt reported Wednesday.

Fritz has been an uneasy ally for low-car transportation advocates over the years, sometimes passionately supporting sidewalks or opposing the Columbia River Crossing and other times saying she couldn’t support a bike sharing system until people stopped riding bikes illegally downtown.

In her reelection announcement, Fritz listed “Identify funding to maintain basic infrastructure” as one of her priorities for the next two years.

More recently, she joined the Bicycle Transportation Alliance and Oregon Walks in support of a “street fund” based on a progressive income tax, but not until opposition from the PBA and others had apparently driven her colleagues away from that plan.

Schmidt’s piece called Fritz “the city’s most unconventional and unlikely politician,” and that may be true.

Two other council members will also be up for reelection in 2016: the pair that at least for the moment are most tightly in charge of the city’s transportation policy.

Mayor Charlie Hales said this month that he’s started fundraising for a reelection campaign. Schmidt reported Wednesday that Transportation Commissioner Steve Novick “said he’ll run again in 2016.”

NOTE: We love your comments and work hard to ensure they are productive, considerate, and welcoming of all perspectives. Disagreements are encouraged, but only if done with tact and respect. If you see a mean or inappropriate comment, please contact us and we'll take a look at it right away. Also, if you comment frequently, please consider holding your thoughts so that others can step forward. Thank you — Jonathan

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sorendavemesswsbobjjJonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor) Recent comment authors
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Adam H.
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Adam H.

Mayor Hales should take PBOT away from Novick and give it to Fritz.

Brian
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Brian

I’m cool with that, if they give Parks to someone else.

Alexander H.
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Alexander H.

Since Hales put in in charge of Parks, the Springwater Corridor has become an even bigger homeless camp, and all she’s done about it is give them bathrooms.

soren
Guest
soren

Despite the transportation fee debacle, I think Novick is the closest thing we have to a friend of cycling on the city council (and that’s not saying much).

My take on bike-friendliness:

Novick > Hales > Fish > Saltzman > Fritz.

Alex
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Alex

This seems like a pretty sane assessment of the situation. Although, I would love to see Fritz removed from the Parks spot, putting her in the PBOT spot would be not so great either. Can we just keep her away from anything bicycle related at all?

From OPB:
“I may support a bike sharing program downtown when I see bike riders using downtown streets and sidewalks in a safe manner,” she said during a city council meeting.

This is not the kind of person you want heading PBOT.

Reza
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Reza

Um, no.

John Liu
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John Liu

I’d like to see who runs against her. Fritz hasn’t done much (anything?) to support cycling, as far as I know.

Joe Adamski
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Joe Adamski

While our focus on this venue is cycling, a Commissioner is responsible to the entire City. Comm. Fritz helped us resolve issues with the lack of an ADA trail as the Pier-Chimney Parks bridge was nearing construction. And then she found SDC monies to build it.
I don’t see Comm Fritz as the “Bike Commissioner”. Sadly, I don’t see much from any on Council that sounds ‘loud and proud’ regarding cycling and peds
.
I am not sure how much is Adams backlash, or the economy, or just what. I do believe we get the level of support we accept without pushing for more.

Joe Adamski
Guest
Joe Adamski

And while I don’t see Amanda assuming the role of ‘bike commissioner’ she still has my support.For reasons of keen awareness of neighborhoods and activism, a sharp mind and a great grasp of detail, and most of all, the willingness to listen.

soren
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soren

I think Fritz’s infamous “cyclists riding on sidewalks” rant suggests that, if anything, she would be an obstacle to funding cycling infrastructure improvements in Portland.

Gary
Guest
Gary

Not trying to be an apologist, as I don’t that much about it other than the remarks reported here. But one could infer that if she’s against cyclists on sidewalks, maybe she’s more likely to support proper bike infrastructure? She did allude to that in her response to Jonathan, re spending that money on Barbur improvements (e.g.). But that might just be wishful thinking.

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Admin

I disagree. But then again, I’m an optimist when it comes to believing that people – even elected officials! – can learn new things and change their perspectives as a result. Like many Americans who have not taken the time to understand the transportation issue from a bicycling perspective, I think Fritz is just unaware of the finer points of this discussion.

Alex Reed
Guest
Alex Reed

Personally, I am very impressed with Fritz’s dedication to her role and financial independence, her engagement with concerned citizens (until her family tragedy, she responded personally to every email I wrote!), and how she seems to come to decisions based on an earnest assessment of what she thinks is best for the city rather than what the powerful lobbies would like. Although I more or less agree with you (Soren’s) assessment of the commissioners’ past actions and statements w.r.t. biking, I’m with Jonathan in being quite hopeful that Fritz would come around if exposed to persistent, respectful, and fact-based advocates for biking.

In a best-case scenario, I think Fritz’s independence from lobbies could make her a far stronger advocate for biking and other liveable streets measures than any of the other commissioners if she made it her business.

Anne Hawley
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Anne Hawley

See, right here? You guys have significantly altered my perception of Fritz with just two thoughtful and well considered comments.

wsbob
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wsbob

“…and how she seems to come to decisions based on an earnest assessment of what she thinks is best for the city rather than what the powerful lobbies would like. …” Alex Reed

Fritz’s arriving at decisions, borrowing your words: “based on an earnest assessment of what she thinks is best for the city rather than what the powerful lobbies would like”, is why it seemed to me that Fritz’s stated condition for supporting bike share, may have been expressed out of a genuine concern for some negative consequences that could come with bike share.

From Fritz’s comment, bike advocates in Portland could have taken her remark about bike share as a head’s up tip to make efforts to reduce some of the bad riding behavior occurring on city streets and sidewalks. That would have had biking advocates taking the initiative to put bike share in a far better light in terms of user impact on the city, than bike share has now.

If I lived in Portland, I’d seriously consider voting for Fritz.

Joe Adamski
Guest
Joe Adamski

ANY elected representative knows ‘You dance with the one that brung ya”. Which means that when cycling is that important to you, one must remind that elected representative of what is important to you, clearly and often. I suspect political fatigue has something to do with the malaise that seems to affect transportation cyclings voice at City Hall. Commissioner Fritz,and all of Council, our Metro Councillors, our State Legislature all need to hear our chorus, often, loudly and in harmony.

David Sweet
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David Sweet

The problem with Commissioner Fritz’s resolution is that it gives away a percentage of a guaranteed pot of money–the utility license fee (ULF)–and replaces it with percentage of an unknown and perhaps nonexistent pot of money–unanticipated budget surpluses.

The ULF is paid by utilities for their use of the public right-of-way. It makes good sense to dedicate it to right-of-way maintenance, and it is a practice that Portland citizens understand and support. PBOT initially received 80% of the ULF. That was reduced to a “target” of 28% (in practice about 2%) and now it will be zero. I don’t see this as a win for street maintenance.

Gary
Guest
Gary

Interesting point. And I assume that ULF pot stands to grow substantially if the Google Fiber proposal comes to fruition at some point?

Brian
Guest
Brian

Very recently Parks was handed a petition with over 2,500 signatures asking that a Comprehensive Mountain Bike plan be a part of their upcoming budget (similar to what was done in 2009 for skateboarders). Their response to this request will be very interesting knowing that Ms. Fritz is running for re-election.

rick
Guest
rick

Fritz is helping get parks developed in places that haven’t had developed parks (Spring Garden Park near SW Barbur Blvd)

Brian
Guest
Brian

And what a golden opportunity to add some bicycle skills parks for kids. It’s too bad that bicycles aren’t part of the conversation yet in the Parks dept.

Alex
Guest
Alex

I agree with this. Not only are they not part of the conversation, she put them way on the back-burner and stalled any progress on moving things forward with them.

davemess
Guest
davemess

And doing that while parks all over the city are apparently in complete disrepair (thus strong arming the city to pass another parks bond).

Dwaine Dibbly
Guest
Dwaine Dibbly

I wonder how much of a sympathy vote she’ll get. I suppose it depends on how she campaigns, but they’ve already mentioned that she’s financing herself via the life insurance money.

TrailLover
Guest
TrailLover

As reported by the Oregonian, “Portland’s Budget Office is forecasting $14.4 million in “one-time” money for the 2016 budget. That means at least $7.2 million would have to be spent on transportation, parks or emergency management.”

I’m sure there are many worthy projects in the transportation and emergency management buckets, as well as parks, but it sure seems to me that if she still can’t find enough money to build/designate some singeltrack trails for cycling in Forest Park (as well as fully supporting Gateway Green, Riverview and maybe sprucing up Powell Butte), then she is going to need to face some wrath. Aren’t we supposed to see her new list of budget priorities sometime in the next few days/weeks?

meh
Guest
meh

I think we need to go to district based commissioners. Right now they don’t do a good job a representing the entire city. Each area needs a voice.

John
Guest
John

I’ll support Fritz as soon as people stop driving cars illegally downtown.

davemess
Guest
davemess

Term limits.

Toby
Guest
Toby

The headline makes it sound like she’s not just announcing her campaign for reelection, but that she’s making it happen, single-handed – “I’m reelected – pow!”

Jonathan Maus (Publisher/Editor)
Admin

you’re right it does. That headline was bugging me anyways. changed it. thanks Toby.

jj
Guest
jj

Fritz is a good leader according to Alex Reed because of her “financial independence.” She won last time mainly because she spent her own money and will be doing it again this time. The lesson is we should support independently wealthy candidates?

Fritz singlehandedly killed the street fee. She was the key third vote against. She got together with BTA to support a progressive income tax but she did so when saying she could not support the progressive income tax proposal on the table. And at the same time saying that any tax would have to go to the voters–the same thing as killing it. Don’t be fooled, she’s playing you on the street fee, trying to sound progressive but also playing to the anti-tax crowd.

wsbob
Guest
wsbob

“Fritz is a good leader according to Alex Reed because of her “financial independence.”… ” jj

Not so fast, jj.

Here’s the introductory statement from the comment Alex Reed wrote, which you excerpted a part of to push your own complaint:

“Personally, I am very impressed with Fritz’s dedication to her role and financial independence, her engagement with concerned citizens (until her family tragedy, she responded personally to every email I wrote!), and how she seems to come to decisions based on an earnest assessment of what she thinks is best for the city rather than what the powerful lobbies would like. …” alex reed

Notice that Reed also mentions about Fritz, her dedication to her role, engagement with concerned citizens, and how she comes to decisions, despite what powerful lobbies may or may not want.

People that can think independently and that have good judgment and values are the kinds of people the public is fortunate to have working for them.

Portland residents pay part of their hard earned money to provide the city’s transportation department with a budget to keep the city’s streets in good condition. If the amount of money provided, isn’t sufficient to do the work, the city should ask for an increase in the budget. If the voters believe the request is justified, they’ll open their wallets and pay for an increase to the budget.

The ‘street fee’ idea sounds like a way to force their hand on that decision, possibly against their wishes, by way of city council. Fritz being skeptical about going along with this is likely to be in her favor come election time.

davemess
Guest
davemess

“progressive but also playing to the anti-tax crowd”

The street fee was a VERY complex issue. Lumping people into two categories really doesn’t help anything.

soren
Guest
soren

http://www.oregonlive.com/business/index.ssf/2015/02/under_amanda_fritz_portland_de.html

Amanda Fritz has joined the protect parking and block density crowd.
#portlandteaparty