OPB reporters asked candidates for Portland mayor a series of questions about pressing issues facing Oregon’s largest city. Here’s a rundown on how David Schor, a lawyer with the Oregon Department of Justice, answered.
Q&A with David Schor
OPB: How would you describe the relationship between the Portland Police Bureau and the people of Portland? What steps would you take to build trust in the police?
David Schor: Right now, the most generous way I can describe it would be strained. It’s a very, very difficult relationship right now. Part of it is that we need to make sure the people believe their police will be accountable in some ways. We’ve had trouble actually keeping our human resources decisions intact, they’ve been challenged, they’ve gone to arbitration.
A good part of it is going to be education, for the officers as well as the public. … The reality is most of our police officers are doing a very good job. But there are areas in our community that the police are being more aggressive than others, and it has a disproportionate impact unfortunately on minority communities. We know there’s a lot of racial disparity that’s indicative of racial profiling. That’s not acceptable.
OPB: Do you agree with Mayor Charlie Hales’ decision to temporarily allow public camping in Portland? What is one step you would take to ease the homeless crisis?
DS: The reality is I don’t think he can ban public camping … For someone that doesn’t have any other place to go, rousing them from sleep and moving them along actually can constitute cruel and unusual punishment.
These are members of the Portland citizenry that need to have a safe place to sleep, and right now we don’t have a place to send them in a shelter, we don’t have temporary housing for them … . Until we have a way to give people access to a better facility, I don’t see how we can tell people to move. For lack of a better approach, as a short-term solution, I don’t think we have a lot of other options.
One of the biggest things I’m talking about in my campaign is affordable housing. That’s a longer-term solution, but it’s really really critical. We have a lot of short-term solutions. None of those are going to solve this problem if we don’t invest in the true long-term solution of permanent, affordable housing.
OPB: What should city government’s role be in ensuring bike and pedestrian safety?
DS: The city bears a primary responsibility in a lot of ways. As the manager for most of the infrastructure in our city, if there’s a problem with infrastructure that’s putting people in danger, that’s a city problem. For the most part, in the outlying area in our city, there’s a deficiency of sidewalks and bike lanes. Those are things that are causing people in our community to die.
We need to make an investment to try to at least meet a baseline requirement that it’s safe to travel as a pedestrian or bicyclist in all parts of our city.
OPB: Are you satisfied with the work being done by the Portland Development Commission? Describe the approach you would take as mayor toward economic development and how it would differ from the PDC’s current approach.
DS: No. I think the Portland Development Commission unfortunately is not meeting the needs of our community. The work they’re doing right now is leading to disruption and displacement … . I don’t’ think we’re getting the benefits we should be getting from the agreements we’re making. We need to look holistically at what’s in the best interests of Portland the people who live here. We have to make sure the priority is on the people. Right now, I don’t feel that’s what we are seeing based on the results we’re getting.
I’d like to see us strengthen economic development citywide, rather than focus on a few intense developments. … Beyond that, in terms of the city’s finances, one big proposal I’m putting on the table is that we create a public bank, a municipal bank for the city of Portland.
OPB: Name one distinct neighborhood or area of Portland that needs more attention from city government, and why.
DS: There are a lot of areas that need more attention, but if I have to choose one, it’s East Portland. It goes without saying that the outer eastern portion of Portland has been neglected. We need to correct that. It’s not something that’s going to get fixed in one mayoral term, in two mayoral terms. It will take decades. But if we don’t start that process now, it will only take longer.
I’m hoping at least initially we can focus on getting some of the basic infrastructure out to East Portland. The safety needs are a primary concern … and along with that, some transit access.