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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on May 2, 2007 10:26 AM. The previous post in this blog was Survivor Portland Bureaucracy: Tribal Council No. 2. The next post in this blog is Blowing the whistle. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.



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Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Too many cooks?

While putting together Survivor: Portland Bureaucracy, I had to take a closer look at the city government's current organizational chart than I ever have before. And I'm puzzled. Here are five agencies whose work I would have thought could have been handled by three, or even two:

Sustainable Development
Development Commission
Development Services
Planning Bureau
Environmental Services

Could it be that we're a little silo-heavy in these areas? I can see lots of room for "synergies" and "economies of scale" there, people.

Comments (24)

Why do you hate public employees?

I've never thought Jack hated public employees. His animus is directed at top-heavy organizational charts in public organizations. As a retired public employee, I agree with Jack. There are too many chiefs and, often, not enough indians.

Oh, if I had to guess, I'd say Jack thinks that occasionally there are too many of both. Even so, I wouldn't be so rash as to presume how Jack directs his animus - accusing him of using his pets to attack government waste is unwarranted.


Department of Redundancy Department, Bureau of Drawers, how may I help you?

The fact that we have three different agencies called "Development" shows you what's wrong with this town nowadays. In its Tom McCall heyday, development was the enemy of Portland. Then Goldschmidt decided that development was fine, so long as he got paid. Now we have the "strong developer" form of city government.

you forgot the Portland Development Commission - though not technically a bureau.

oops. you do have it. hangs head in shame

No, they're in there as one of the unholy trinity.

To: DoRD, BoD,

I was looking for the Department of Making Really Important Pronouncements that Have Nothing To Do With Our Jobs but Pander To Interest Groups who just Might Provide Campaign Funds or Future Employment Opportunities office.

Can you help?

I was looking for the Department of Making Really Important Pronouncements that Have Nothing To Do With Our Jobs but Pander To Interest Groups who just Might Provide Campaign Funds or Future Employment Opportunities office.

I believe you are looking for the Oregonian.


Each Commissioner is in charge of their own standalone DMRIPTHNTDWOJBPTIGWJMPCFFEO office. Cntact the commissioner's campaign manager for the contact info.


Each Commissioner is in charge of their own standalone DMRIPTHNTDWOJBPTIGWJMPCFFEO office.

But, but, isn't there an Overseeing Overarching, Overreaching, Sustainable, Organic, Recyclably Diverse Committee for the Betterment of Partnering with the Various DMRIPTHNTDWOJBPTIGWJMPCFFEO offices?

Is there no OUTREACH, dammit?!?!

Oh, and will I need a permit to see them?

One of the reasons there are so many bureaus is that there are 4 mini mayors in addition to the actual mayor.

Every mini mayor has to have a portfolio of several bureaus to "manage", so they can act and feel ( as contrasted to being) important.

So the mini mayors have an instiutional bias toward and a vested intrested in the proliforation of bureaus.

Yet another reason to vote in the charter changes.

Yet another reason to vote in the charter changes.
JK:Yeah, but not those ones. What we need is fewer bureaus so that we can elect bureau heads directly and vote on their budgets.

Any bureau with "development" in their title should be summarily shut down.

I suspect that we only really need a few bureaus:

water & sewer

What else is really needed?


What else is really needed?


Parks - even if Zari was voted off the island...

Sustainable Development
Development Commission
Development Services
Planning Bureau
Environmental Services

Part of the problem is the city gets cute with its naming conventions. What was once the inelegant Bureau of Buildings became Office of Planning and Development Review, then morphed into Bureau of Development Services. In the meantime Neighborhood Inspections was both in --and then back out of-- the Office of Neighborhood Involvement, which itself used to be Office of Neighborhood Associations but then branched out. Whew. Got it?

Environmental Services is more elegant than Sewers and Sustainable Development is certainly cathier than Garbage Collection Services, ow whatver they morphed out of. (I don't even remember.)

I used to Manage the Assessments & Liens Division in the Auditor's Office, but now I'm supervising the Liens Section of the Operations Division of the Revenue Bureau. What remains behind in the Auditor's Office is the Assessments, Finance, and Foreclosure Division, or section, or cell, or whatever they are now.

All in all I don't think there's really been a proliferation of bureaus, and, in fact, consolidation is more the rule. What has increased is the number of words in names, and their complexity. Why call a bureau Computer Services when you can call it Bureau of Information Technology. All this stuff is s'possed to better reflect what we do, but sometimes our names get so convoluted it's hard to figure out what some bureaus do.

At least the Mayor's Office is still the Mayor's Office.

And there's a lot of unused letterhead that gets recycled.

Can we rename the Mayor's office.
The Bureau of Wealth Redistribution?

Frank, I sure do miss the old days when I could just go down to the "Buiding Department" or tell a client to do such, and all your business could transpire in one building. Then the common name became Bureau of Buildings-see a planner, get a permit-it was all there. Now I am even corrected with a snide correction if I happen to call a sub bureau or bureau by the wrong name. Where in the heck do you go with a plumbing question-Bureau of Environmental Services? The name is not even close for a layperson.

If you make a call after you try to figure out which department, bureau, section, "office" you should call, you always get a recorded message that says you'll maybe get a call back in one or two days. Of course, you'll wait around by the phone for that return call that takes even longer than the one or two days.

and the award goes to.....

At least the Mayor's Office is still the Mayor's Office.

My first call is always to 503-823-4000. It dials professional resource staff whose job is to find the right person in the right department for you. Whenever the Mayor or one of the other Charter Change proponents has said in a forum, "Citizens don't know who to call when they have a problem with city government", in the same time and with the same breath they could have said, "Right now, the only city number you need to know is eight-two-three-four-thousand." It's the same number for both city and county information, even.

The Planning Bureau and the old Bureau of Buildings (now Bureau of Development Services) were going to be merged in the "Blueprint 2000" process. Developers wanted them together, for the same reason they want the new form of government - only one polician and bureau director would matter, not two/five. Citizens lobbied hard to keep Planning (= deciding what we should do) separate from Development (= issuing permits for how to do it).

I agree Sustainability and Environmental Services could go together, but Environmental Services is already so huge the newer policy directions might get lost in all the sewer and clean water issues.

Jack --

Didn't you leave the letter "R" out of the title to this thread?


I think the vast majority of employees of these bureaus are honest. But that "r" belongs somewhere up the chain of command.

My first call is always to 503-823-4000. It dials professional resource staff whose job is to find the right person in the right department for you.

Amanda's point is right on. Those folks do an awesome job, I use them all the time, and they really care about getting people to the right place.

Every bureaucracy is confusing. Ever deal with Sprint, AT&T, or, god help you, your satellite dish company?

And thank you, Jack, for your comment about "the vast majority of employees of these bureaus are honest." I think we are, and for most of us, we take "serving the public" to heart. Besides, we're also the public too, and we all know what it is to deal with the downsides of bureaucracy.

we all know what it is to deal with the downsides of bureaucracy.

In my experience, that is something that some Portland city employees forget after they've been on the job for a while.


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In Vino Veritas

Lange, Pinot Gris 2015
Kiona, Lemberger 2014
Willamette Valley, Pinot Gris 2015
Aix, Rosé de Provence 2016
Marchigüe, Cabernet 2013
Inazío Irruzola, Getariako Txakolina Rosé 2015
Maso Canali, Pinot Grigio 2015
Campo Viejo, Rioja Reserva 2011
Kirkland, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2016
Cantele, Salice Salentino Reserva 2013
Whispering Angel, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2013
Avissi, Prosecco
Cleto Charli, Lambrusco di Sorbara Secco, Vecchia Modena
Pique Poul, Rosé 2016
Edmunds St. John, Bone-Jolly Rosé 2016
Stoller, Pinot Noir Rosé 2016
Chehalem, Inox Chardonnay 2015
The Four Graces, Pinot Gris 2015
Gascón, Colosal Red 2013
Cardwell Hill, Pinot Gris 2015
L'Ecole No. 41, Merlot 2013
Della Terra, Anonymus
Willamette Valley, Dijon Clone Chardonnay 2013
Wraith, Cabernet, Eidolon Estate 2012
Januik, Red 2015
Tomassi, Valpolicella, Rafaél, 2014
Sharecropper's Pinot Noir 2013
Helix, Pomatia Red Blend 2013
La Espera, Cabernet 2011
Campo Viejo, Rioja Reserva 2011
Villa Antinori, Toscana 2013
Locations, Spanish Red Wine
Locations, Argentinian Red Wine
La Antigua Clásico, Rioja 2011
Shatter, Grenache, Maury 2012
Argyle, Vintage Brut 2011
Abacela, Vintner's Blend #16 Abacela, Fiesta Tempranillo 2014
Benton Hill, Pinot Gris 2015
Primarius, Pinot Gris 2015
Januik, Merlot 2013
Napa Cellars, Cabernet 2013
J. Bookwalter, Protagonist 2012
LAN, Rioja Edicion Limitada 2011
Beaulieu, Cabernet, Rutherford 2009
Denada Cellars, Cabernet, Maipo Valley 2014
Marchigüe, Cabernet, Colchagua Valley 2013
Oberon, Cabernet 2014
Hedges, Red Mountain 2012
Balboa, Rose of Grenache 2015
Ontañón, Rioja Reserva 2015
Three Horse Ranch, Pinot Gris 2014
Archery Summit, Vireton Pinot Gris 2014
Nelms Road, Merlot 2013
Chateau Ste. Michelle, Pinot Gris 2014
Conn Creek, Cabernet, Napa 2012
Conn Creek, Cabernet, Napa 2013
Villa Maria, Sauvignon Blanc 2015
G3, Cabernet 2013
Chateau Smith, Cabernet, Washington State 2014
Abacela, Vintner's Blend #16
Willamette Valley, Rose of Pinot Noir, Whole Clusters 2015
Albero, Bobal Rose 2015
Ca' del Baio Barbaresco Valgrande 2012
Goodfellow, Reserve Pinot Gris, Clover 2014
Lugana, San Benedetto 2014
Wente, Cabernet, Charles Wetmore 2011
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King Estate, Pinot Gris 2015
Adelsheim, Pinot Gris 2015
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Abbot's Table, Columbia Valley 2014
Intrinsic, Cabernet 2014
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Occhipinti, SP68 Bianco 2014
Layer Cake, Shiraz 2013
Desert Wind, Ruah 2011
WillaKenzie, Pinot Gris 2014
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Des Amis, Rose 2014
Dunham, Trautina 2012
RoxyAnn, Claret 2012
Del Ri, Claret 2012
Stoppa, Emilia, Red 2004
Primarius, Pinot Noir 2013
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Albero, Bobal Rose 2015
Deer Creek, Pinot Gris 2015
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Archery Summit, Vireton Pinot Gris 2014
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Conundrum, White 2013
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The Occasional Book

Marc Maron - Waiting for the Punch
Phil Stanford - Rose City Vice
Kenneth R. Feinberg - What is Life Worth?
Kent Haruf - Our Souls at Night
Peter Carey - True History of the Kelly Gang
Suzanne Collins - The Hunger Games
Amy Stewart - Girl Waits With Gun
Philip Roth - The Plot Against America
Norm Macdonald - Based on a True Story
Christopher Buckley - Boomsday
Ryan Holiday - The Obstacle is the Way
Ruth Sepetys - Between Shades of Gray
Richard Adams - Watership Down
Claire Vaye Watkins - Gold Fame Citrus
Markus Zusak - I am the Messenger
Anthony Doerr - All the Light We Cannot See
James Joyce - Dubliners
Cheryl Strayed - Torch
William Golding - Lord of the Flies
Saul Bellow - Mister Sammler's Planet
Phil Stanford - White House Call Girl
John Kaplan & Jon R. Waltz - The Trial of Jack Ruby
Kent Haruf - Eventide
David Halberstam - Summer of '49
Norman Mailer - The Naked and the Dead
Maria Dermoȗt - The Ten Thousand Things
William Faulkner - As I Lay Dying
Markus Zusak - The Book Thief
Christopher Buckley - Thank You for Smoking
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Joseph Conrad - Heart of Darkness
Bill Bryson - A Short History of Nearly Everything
Cheryl Strayed - Tiny Beautiful Things
Sara Varon - Bake Sale
Stephen King - 11/22/63
Paul Goldstein - Errors and Omissions
Mark Twain - A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
Steve Martin - Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life
Beverly Cleary - A Girl from Yamhill, a Memoir
Kent Haruf - Plainsong
Hope Larson - A Wrinkle in Time, the Graphic Novel
Rudyard Kipling - Kim
Peter Ames Carlin - Bruce
Fran Cannon Slayton - When the Whistle Blows
Neil Young - Waging Heavy Peace
Mark Bego - Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul (2012 ed.)
Jenny Lawson - Let's Pretend This Never Happened
J.D. Salinger - Franny and Zooey
Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol
Timothy Egan - The Big Burn
Deborah Eisenberg - Transactions in a Foreign Currency
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. - Slaughterhouse Five
Kathryn Lance - Pandora's Genes
Cheryl Strayed - Wild
Fyodor Dostoyevsky - The Brothers Karamazov
Jack London - The House of Pride, and Other Tales of Hawaii
Jack Walker - The Extraordinary Rendition of Vincent Dellamaria
Colum McCann - Let the Great World Spin
Niccolò Machiavelli - The Prince
Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird
Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus - The Nanny Diaries
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Sharon Creech - Walk Two Moons
Keith Richards - Life
F. Sionil Jose - Dusk
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Justin Halpern - S#*t My Dad Says
Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
Barry Glassner - The Gospel of Food
Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
Jesse Katz - The Opposite Field
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice
Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
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William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 5
At this date last year: 3
Total run in 2017: 113
In 2016: 155
In 2015: 271
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