Portland Mayor Says Public Will Vet Police Chief Candidates | KUOW News and Information

Portland Mayor Says Public Will Vet Police Chief Candidates

Jan 6, 2017

Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler plans to start a national search for a new police chief starting in February.

In his first press conference as mayor, Wheeler said he will give the public an opportunity to weigh in on his hiring choice.

“When we get down to the top few of finalists, let’s say three today as a marker, I’d like to have an opportunity for the public to be able to vet the finalists,” he said.

Portland’s current chief, Mike Marshman, has been in the job for less than a year. His predecessor, Larry O’Dea, resigned amid criminal and internal investigations into his accidental shooting of a friend on a hunting trip in April.

Wheeler appeared before the press for just over 20 minutes Friday, and took questions on a wide range of subjects from the weather to the EPA-ordered cleanup of the Portland Harbor superfund site.

Wheeler pledged to put racial justice front and center in his administration.

"These are very difficult conversations to have — as a middle aged white guy, they are probably doubly difficult to have, but it is an extremely important conversation," he said.

He also pledged to support new commissioner Chloe Eudaly as she works to reform the city's Office of Neighborhood Involvement.

"I told her I'm not just handing it to her and saying 'good luck.' I very much intend to work with her and have my staff work with her to the degree that she would like us to," Wheeler said.

Asked about the city’s attempt to regulate short-term rentals like Airbnb, Wheeler said Portland failed to come up with a working system.

Less than a quarter of Airbnb hosts are paying the city’s short-term lodging tax, according to Willamette Week.

Wheeler said he thinks other cities are doing a better job regulating the company. He did not reveal what model he thinks Portland should adopt, but said he is in discussions with the company about a new approach to regulation.

Airbnb opened a North American headquarters office in Portland in 2014 and employs more than 200 people in the city.

Wheeler also pledged to make himself available to the press.

In the last year of his administration, former Mayor Charlie Hales increasingly avoided holding press conferences. He announced some major policy issues via emailed press releases, notably the decision to enforce the city's ban on public camping after several months of suspending sweeps of homeless camps.

"I do not intend for people from the news media to have to chase me around the city or stake out locations so you can gain access to me," Wheeler said.

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