Portland's mayor Sam Adams has sanctioned the Housing Authority of Portland to ignore a request for Public Housing Statistical Data made by Richard Ellmyer on behalf of Portland police sergeant Willie Halliburton (see below) for two weeks, taking advantage of the major flaw in what has become known as the "Keep Oregon Records From The Public Law" that allows jurisdictions to indefinitely ignore requests for public information thereby preventing county district attorney's and the Oregon Attorney General from enforcing the law.

This case will become an important example in the Oregon Attorney General's admirable effort to gather information which will aid him in crafting legislation to improve the Oregon Public Records law which has morphed from serving transparency, accountability and the public interest into a shield to protect public entities from those very few citizen activists who would expose hidden activities to sunlight.

The recent shootings and murder at New Columbia prompted Portland police sergeant Willie Halliburton to imply in his public comment in the Portland Tribune* that the number and type of HAP clients at New Columbia did NOT require the assignment of two full time officers to keep the peace. This challenged my proposal that two additional officers were needed to provide public safety in New Columbia, Portsmouth and North Portland. The request for Public Housing Statistical Data goes directly to this issue and is necessary to further the public conversation/debate.

HUD officials should be supportive of publishing Public Housing Statistical Data by HAP and all housing authorities throughout America because the Obama administrations newly proposed Public Housing legislation, designed to DECENTRALIZE Public Housing known as PETRA, the Preservation, Enhancement, and Transformation of Rental Assistance Act of 2010**, CANNOT be achieved without Public Housing Statistical Data that identifies client locations by neighborhood or census tract. In fact, I will soon formally ask HUD and senators Wyden and Merkley and representative Blumenauer to introduce and support an amendment to PETRA that would require housing authorities to publish client location data by neighborhood or census tract as is most appropriate.

I ask HUD officials to join my Oregon Public Records Law request for HAP's Public Housing Statistical Data by sending a letter to the elected official with direct control over HAP, its board and its data, Portland's mayor, Sam Adams.

Oregon legislators and gubernatorial candidates Kitzhaber and Dudley should reevaluate the statutes that created the Housing Authority of Portland and gave singular authority to the mayor of Portland to nominate and dismiss HAP board members. HAP is actually the Multnomah County Housing Authority except that 200,000 citizens of Multnomah county CANNOT vote for the elected official in charge, Portland's mayor.

Portland's current mayor, Sam Adams, and its most recent former mayor, Tom Potter, both, as candidates, publicly promised to publish HAP's Public Housing Statistical Data. However, upon election to mayor both Potter and now Adams not only reneged on their promises but completely reversed their positions on transparency and accountability and became the supreme guardians of HAP's public data vault. This behavior is in direct contrast to the Washington County Housing Authority that willingly and without fuss or charge made their Public Housing Statistical Data available.

This Oregon Public Records Law request will prove that HAP CANNOT produce even inaccurate and incomplete computer records presumably under its control for all of its claimed 33,000 clients.

Oregon legislators and gubernatorial candidates Kitzhaber and Dudley need to follow this Oregon Public Records Law request as evidence that the Housing Authority of Portland must be renamed and reassigned to either Multnomah county or, more preferably, to the Metro regional government along with the housing authorities of Washington and Clackamas counties.

The job description of HAP's board members is to serve the interests of the jurisdictions which they represent. It is NOT in the interests of the citizens of Portland, Gresham and Multnomah county to be denied access to Public Housing Statistical Data nor to be unable to vote for the person responsible for controlling the policies and annual expenditures of $80,000,000 that affects their lives and businesses, namely, the mayor of Portland, Sam Adams.

I ask the members of the Portland and Gresham city councils and the Multnomah county commission to take the responsibility of monitoring and informing their representatives on the HAP board that the interests of their jurisdictions are best served by producing the Public Housing Statistical Data in this request made under the Oregon Public Records Law. A refusal by HAP's board to provide this information immediately and at no charge translates directly to the Portland and Gresham city councils and the Multnomah county commission since they can always ask the mayor of Portland to dismiss their representatives on the HAP board for failing to act in the interests of their jurisdictions.


Richard Ellmyer 35 Year Homeowner and Small Business Owner in Portsmouth Neighborhood. Standards for Equitable Distribution of Public Housing Resolution author and project champion. Writer/Publisher - HAP Watchers commentary - Published on the Internet (http://www.goodgrowthnw.org) and distributed to thousands of readers interested in public housing policy in Multnomah County. To subscribe send request to hwcomments@goodgrowthnw.org