2012 September Meeting Minutes

September 11, 2012 Humboldt Neighborhood Association Board Meeting

Board members in attendance: Brian Murtagh, Clifford Walker, Emily Wilson, Mike Salmond

[Need to confirm Susan and Will]

15 neighbors present

 

Announcements:

Salvation Army staff: Please try to end the meeting in an hour; I am the only staff member present.

Brian: NECN Small Grant applications are available. Collaborative projects are preferred. Applications here: http://necoalition.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/08/NECN-NSG-2013-APPLICATION.pdf

Cherry Sprout and Mississippi Records provided coupons to their businesses to neighbors and to those in attendance at tonight’s meeting.

The Neighborhood Tree Steward Program trainings are happening in October. This is a community resource for tree identification, tree planting regulations, and other forms of advocacy for urban tree planting. http://www.portlandonline.com/parks/index.cfm?a=410593&c=45124 or mlemily@gmail.com

There is a free naturescaping workshop on September 30th. More information at www.emscd.org.

September 29th and September 30th are the dates for the Street Painting Block Party at N. Haight and N. Emerson, to paint a Unity Circle in the intersection. kymberlyjeka@gmail.com

Addition of two agenda items:

Scott and Richard [last names?] will provide information on the School Bond on the November ballot.

Announcements from PCC.

Items for approval: Minutes not taken at July’s meeting, no vote.

Items for discussion:

Multnomah County Library District measure:

Brian Wilson, Campaign Chair for LibrariesYes.com spoke about why he is advocating for the creation of a Library District. “Libraries are a community resource and a de facto community center. Providing more than books, libraries offer before- and after-school programs, year round; homework assistance for students; classes for children and adults; book delivery for the homebound; job seeker resources and training; CDs, movies, and other media; small business resources; and all of this is available for free in 19 branches county-wide. Portland has the second-highest circulation of any library system in the country, 2 ½ times higher circulation than other systems.”

Brian advocates a new district be formed to create a permanent and stable funding source for the public libraries of Multnomah County, via a $1.22-1.24 per $1000 assessed home property value. The current funding comes from 3-5 year renewable levies that force the library system to compete with other county resources. Brian states that the accountability and auditing of the library budget will remain in place if the measure passes.

Brian (facilitator/Board member) asks: How will this show on a property tax statement? Does this come from the general fund?

Brian W.: The Multnomah County Special Operating Levy will change to the Library Levy. The money comes from the general fund; it shifts the way dollars are spent from the general fund.

[Brian Facilitator? Other neighbor?]:  What is the current rate of tax for library funding from the general fund?

Brian W: $.89/$1000 is the rate, but because money gets recommitted to other items (not libraries), it amounts to closer to $.35-.40/$1000.

[?]: You mentioned other parts of Oregon have districts like this; are their rates fixed?

Brian W.: Yes, the fixed rate is required as part of designating a district like this.

School Fund:

Richard and Scott [last names?] from Our Portland, Our Schools presented in support of the School Fund ballot measure #26-144.

Scott: “I am an economist and good schools are crucial to our economy. There are 78 Portland Public Schools, and PPS is unique in not having a bond [for school building maintenance and improvements] since 1995. Prior to that, the last bond was in 1945.

Most school buildings in the system are older than WWII. Some are 40-60 years old but had a 30 year lifetime expectancy. Problems include plumbing and electrical concerns, no natural light in some classrooms, temperature variances between classrooms housed in the same building, roof leaks, and a lack of seismic upgrades. These are not comfortable learning environments; in some cases they are unsafe. Additionally, due to architectural setup, these are not environments accommodating of modern educational practices. An ongoing, 30 year bond is sought to address these deficiencies. Bonds will be voted for and implemented in stages to address concerns that the Portland economy cannot handle a large tax increase.

Three high schools (Grant, Roosevelt, and Franklin) would be funded first for maintenance and renovations. Over 60 buildings would see improvements over the life of the bonds, prioritized by need like new roofs, ADA compliance, and seismic upgrades. The bond would also cover the repayment of debts owed by PPS for necessary maintenance costs.”

[?]: I am concerned that Jefferson will be closed.

Scott: Jeff is staying; the Middle College is a great program. JHS is likely to be a round-two pick for funding.

Kymberly Jeka: Could Humboldt reopen as a public school or is that route closed off?

Scott: I don’t know. PPS enrollment is raising, which could lead to schools re-opening.

Matt: Nothing is off the table. It’s an enrollment-driven system; it’s cyclical. This bond is a safety issue. Additionally, by improving high schools first, more students will have the opportunity to attend an improved school throughout the life of the bond.

Richard from Our Portland, Our Schools advocates the school improvements as a way to create jobs (especially among women and people of color as a result of the recent workforce equity program) and apprenticeship opportunities for students. Richard also advocates the role of schools as community centers, beyond the needs of children attending said schools.

[?]: Is there a larger funding plan beyond the first bonds?

[Richard?]: To start, the bond calls for a lower amount than the measure that was defeated in May 2011. In four years, if the economy and other factors allow, voters may be asked to increase the bond.

Clifford Walker: What about the naming of Jefferson? This is a problem, and no one is listening. If you’re going to “modernize” the schools, what about schools with racist names? Can we change those schools’ names to ones that are more relatable? Does this issue even come up in funding or other school board discussions?

Scott: It will now. That is something to really consider.

Cliff: It’s been a challenge to get this discussed. I hope you add that to the discussion of remodeling and expanding ideas.

Scott: Matt, is this on the agenda?

Matt: Not so much lately.

Brian M.: Clifford has the neighborhood association’s support in this issue.

Richard: This is good to hear; we want community involvement in Our Portland, Our Schools.

Scott: We know there is a lack of trust and we want to repair that.

[librarian neighbor–name?]: Where does the $482m [from the bond measure] go? To new schools?

Scott: No, no new schools are created. This money goes towards renovations of existing schools.

[?]: How will the logistics of student displacement be handled during construction phases?

Scott: Hopefully much of the work will be done during summers. “Swing space” will also be used, where students are moved throughout the building to avoid areas of construction .

Clifford: What are the most key elements of a “good learning environment”?

[?]: Sunlight, consistent comfortable temperatures, good airflow. Having smaller, flexible spaces to accommodate modern educational practices.

Emily: There is a trust issue in this neighborhood regarding the schools; Matt is rarely present at HNA meetings, including when we faced the closure of Humboldt and Tubman. Tonight he came to the meeting, when money and favors are needed. What makes this measure different the last one?

[?]: Before, there was no public process. This time, there is, and we prioritized the items being funded with clear criteria. It is also spread over a longer period of time to minimize the impact on voters’ budgets.

Announcements from PCC:

Abe’s e-mail statement President Preston Pulliams is resigning. The recruitment of a new president begins in October 2012, and takes about six months. By April of 2013 the Board will elect a new president. On October 4, at 4:30 p.,m. there is a forum in Humboldt neighborhood in Moriarty Auditorium at Killingsworth and Albina. Weigh in on these questions:“What are the educational challenges in our community that you think the next PCC president should be focused on? What do you think the next PCC president’s top priorities should be? What are the key characteristics that the next PCC president should have?”

Final announcements: [HNA?] is sending a certified letter to a developer for a project planned for 5314 N. Borthwick, inviting them to the next neighborhood association meeting for the purpose of providing community input to the project. The developer wants to place a duplex building on a single-sized lot. This could create an aesthetic issue. This is the developer who infamously wanted to cut down the monkey puzzle tree at N. Simpson and N. Albina.

Meeting adjourned at 8:30 p.m.

The next HNA meeting is on October 9.

About Isa Dean

With a passion for assisting others with refining and achieving their goals, accepting the Program Coordinator position with the Multnomah County Library became the perfect bridge career - from working 10 years in web design and web development to becoming an ever more involved, contributing member of our community.

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