[pjw] UPDATE re ACTION: City should not change investments policy without public input

Peace and Justice Works pjw at pjw.info
Sun Dec 19 18:01:31 EST 2021

Peace and Justice Works supporters

Last Wednesday at City Council only four people from the community 
testified about the investments policy-- me, two people from Jewish Voice 
for Peace, and Kelly Campbell from Oregon Physicians for Social 
Responsibility. As I noted on Tuesday, the new policy eliminates the limit 
on city investments to just 12 corporations and replaces it with loose, if 
good-sounding, guidlines of what NOT to buy.

Our efforts were mildly successful. First of all, we took an agenda item 
slated to last 5 minutes and turned it into a 30 minute long discussion.

Commissioner Rubio was cocnerned hearing about the history of the 
Socially Responsible Investments Committee, which was dissolved by Council 
after they supported community calls not to invest in businesses illegally 
operating in the occupied territories of Palestine. Rubio was confused 
because the City Treasurer said there is still an advisory board.

The Treasurer was kind of cagey about that, saying that existing board has 
two community members on it and indicating that their meetings are open to 
the public and they welcome input. However, she also said both that the 
SRIC was created "for a short term" and that it was "dissolved."

The Treasurer also said that even though it's not prohbited by the new 
rules, the City would not invest in nuclear weapons as they violate the 
spirit of Portland's values. But that is only so good as the City Council 
transcript. For me, I need to see it in writing.

To be clear, Commissioner Mapps and Mayor Wheeler felt fine with the new 
policy. Hardesty said she also asked the Treasurer about the nuclear 
weapons issue and for her, a verbal assurance is enough.

I think our allies are reaching out to Commissioner Rubio's office hoping 
to modify the proposed policy.

Ideally, Commissoiner Rubio will ask the Council to revert the policy to 
its existing form until there's more time for community discussion.

However, the Council members seemed to be leaning toward "let's see how 
this goes for 6 months or a year and then revisit it" (the policy is 
required to be reviewed annually by state law).

The problem with that is, except for a verbal assurance that Hardesty said 
she got from the Treasurer, the City COULD invest in nuclear weapons, 
large arms sales (only small arms sales are banned) and environmentallly 
harmful products other than fossil fuels while awaiting the new rules.

The result of Rubio's discomfort is that the item was held back and will 
be voted on this Wednesday, December 22. However, as a second reading 
(essentially) there's no public testimony. So if this issue concerns you, 
use the Council email addresses in our outgoing email below to connect 
with all five members.

I've left our written testimony pasted in below. I added concerns about 
nuclear weapons and a few other things into my oral testimony. Video of 
the hearing can be seen at:


Here's the link to the agenda item for this week.


Here's the redline which is a bit messed up because the numbering didn't 
carry over right:


And here's the proposed policy in a "clean" copy.


If you contact council, especially if you hear back, let us know.

dan handelman
peace and justice works iraq affinity group

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 14 Dec 2021 15:05:41
From: Peace and Justice Works <pjw at pjw.info>
Subject: [pjw] INFO/ACTION?: City should not change investments policy without
     public input

PJW supporters
The Iraq Affinity Group has regularly tracked the City investment policy issue 
for years, in particular in partnership with our allies working for justice in 

I noticed a major change being proposed to the investment policy on Sunday 
(though the agenda was put up on Friday) and only just now got some comments to 
Council. I'm signed up to testify-- which you can only do if you happen to read 
this email before 4 PM by clicking on item 902 here:


The Council meeting starts at 9:30 AM and this could come up as early as 10 or 
10:15 AM.

If you don't get to sign up you can email the Council at the below addresses or 
at least send testimony to the Council Clerk who will distribute it:

cctestimony at portlandoregon.gov

I'll let our email to Council do the rest of the talking a it explains the 
history of the policy and some of the problems with the current proposal.

dan handelman
peace and justice works iraq affinity group

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 14 Dec 2021 15:00:20
From: Peace and Justice Works <pjw at pjw.info>
To: Portland City Council -- Commissioner Carmen Rubio
      <comm.rubio at portlandoregon.gov>,
      Commissioner Dan Ryan <commissionerryanoffice at portlandoregon.gov>,
      Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty <joann at portlandoregon.gov>,
      Commissioner Mingus Mapps <mappsoffice at portlandoregon.gov>,
      Portland City Council Mayor Ted Wheeler <mayorwheeler at portlandoregon.gov>
Cc: cctestimony at portlandoregon.gov, Peace and Justice Works <pjw at pjw.info>
Subject: COMMENT: City should not change investments policy without public 

To Mayor Wheeler and Commissioners:

Peace and Justice Works is concerned that the new City investments policy being 
considered on Wednesday's agenda leaves open too many loopholes to invest in 
companies that do not support human rights.

There was an intense debate several years ago when the Human Rights Commission 
and community groups pushed to ensure that the investment policy would not 
allow investments in companies illegally doing business in Israeli occupied 
territories. This led to the City making a sweeping but mostly responsive 
decision not to make any investments at all in specific companies, with the 
exception of 12 which are explicitly listed in the existing policy. While some 
of these corporations are morally questionable, the narrowed field improved the 
probability that our City would not be benefiting from human rights violations.

The new policy creates prohibited categories of oil companies, small arm, 
alcoholic beverages, casinos, correctional facilities and security services. We 
support these prohibitions but what about large arms manufacturers and 
companies that add to climate change issues other than oil, for example?

Several states have disinvested from Ben and Jerry's ice cream because they 
made a decision not to sell their products in the occupied Palestinian 
territories. It is notable that Ben and Jerry are both of Jewish heritage, so 
this is about Israeli state policy and not, as claimed by those crying foul, 
anti-Semitism. But the point is that regardless of how you feel about this 
decision, the City is now free to invest or disinvest in Ben and Jerry's or any 
company that does -- or does not-- want to do business in territories that have 
been called illegal by
many United Nations resolutions.

The previous outline for a just investment policy came from a community board 
that gave input to the Council. It is not clear that this new policy came from 
anywhere but the Office of Management and Finance.

Thus we urge Council to retain the current investment policy until a public 
discussion can happen that leads to a true moral document.

Thank you
dan handelman
peace and justice works iraq affinity group


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