One so much wants to slap the Portland City Council up the side of the head and take away jurisdiction of water and sewer oversight.
As on so many other issues (roads!) they have funded their own pet projects rather than paying attention to water and sewer needs of the people. If this passes, it is in part a legacy of Randy Leonard's arrogance. The City Council's misuse of power should have consequences. But, is this even a plausible fix?
With awful reluctance, I have to say no.
First, the problem is not that the City has jurisdiction. The problem is the people City of Portland voters elect to oversee the Water Bureau and Bureau of Environmental Services. The same voters will elect the new board. How likely is it that the same voters will now show good sense in electing the new water and sewer district directors while not showing good sense in electing Portland city commissioners?
Second, there is a spotlight on current Water Bureau decisions because there is always a spotlight on the City Council. But, there won't be the same level of scrutiny or news reporting on the new board just as there is not the same scrutiny on Metro or Multnomah County Library District decisions that there is on the Portland City Council or Multnomah County Board of Commissioners. It's just life that the bigger fish get more attention. So, stupid and wasteful decisions by the new board will not be as noticed or reported as they are now.
Third, this adds another layer of bureaucracy of seven unpaid (for how long?) directors.
Finally, there is no indication that any jobs will go away. There will be new auditing expenses as the City Auditor will no longer be charged with this function. There will undoubtedly be other additions in recruiting, mail delivery, information technology support, etc. Paid staff which are now provided by the larger City bureaucracy will have to be funded by the new district itself. It would be crazy if the new employees were not transferred over from current Water Bureau and Bureau of Environmental Services staffs since they know the system and aren't at fault for the boondoggle decisions the City Council has made. The only clear difference is seven new elected directors will make decisions in place of the current five members of the Portland City Council.
If there was any real chance that the new elected directors would be chosen by wiser people than those currently electing City Council members, I would lean toward this fix even with the added bureaucracy and expense. But this change seems to be more in the category of cutting off your nose to spite your face than in doing any real good.