QUESTION: Shall the Charter be amended to exempt from classified civil services City bureau directors appointed after December 31, 2000?

SUMMARY: Section 4-101 of the City Charter places City employees under a civil service system. There are certain exceptions, however. "All officers chosen by popular election or by appointment by the Council, the members of all boards and commissions, the deputies of the City Attorney, the City Engineer, the Superintendent and Chief Engineer of the Bureau of Water Works, the Secretary of the Civil Service Board and of the Auditor, the Chief Deputy City Auditor, the secretary and administrative staff of each Council member, and the Chief of Police." This measure adds to the list of exempted personnel all bureau directors appointed after December 31, 2000. Employees exempted from civil service are not subject to civil service requirements for selection and dismissal. Exempt employees are appointed and serve at the pleasure of the appointing authority designated by the Charter or City Code. The appointing authority is either the Council, a Council member, or the Auditor.


Commissioners-in-Charge and the Mayor are held accountable for each of their Bureau's performance. This proposed amendment to the Charter will give the elected officials the ability to promote accountability in two ways.

In the event it is determined that a bureau director is unable to effectively manage the bureau, this measure gives the Commissioner-in-Charge or Mayor the authority to hold the bureau director accountable. This amendment will make bureau directors "at will" employees. This means the director will no longer have civil service protections. This amendment would allow a Commissioner-in-charge or the Mayor to fire a bureau director for failing to carry out the policies of the Council or Commissioner-in-Charge or when the bureau is not being run in a satisfactory manner.

This proposed amendment will give Commissioner-in-Charge and Mayor the authority to employ and put in place a leadership team which will manage the public resources in an effective and efficient manner.

Submitted by
Commissioner Dan Saltzman
City of Portland

No arguments AGAINST this measure were filed.


As Commissioners-in-Charge or as Mayor, we are held accountable to our citizens for each of our Bureau's performance. To be held fully accountable, we must be given a reasonable and fair ability to put in place a quality leadership team to assure the proper functioning of our bureaus.

In the event that a bureau director is unable to effectively manage their bureau, the Commissioner-in-Charge or Mayor needs to be able to retain direct authority over that director and hold them fully accountable.

Citizens have written and called me to express their dissatisfaction in our inability to discipline employees who are not adequately performing their duties as a bureau director.

That is why the Portland City Council is asking you to change our City Charter to make all bureau directors for the City of Portland hired after December 31, 2000 exempt from the protections of the civil service system. The Mayor and Commissioners need to be able to make decisions as to whether they feel that their bureau is being run in a satisfactory manner and they need to be provided the ability to make changes when it is not.

As in the private sector, bureau directors are highly paid senior executives. They should hold their job based on their ability to inspire employees, to manage a budget, to be a team leader — not on their ability to abuse the civil service system.


(This information furnished by Dan Saltzman)

The printing of this argument does not constitute an endorsement by Multnomah County, nor does the county warrant the accuracy or truth of any statements made in the argument.