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Our Opinion: City bureaus get fresh sets of eyes

Portland Mayor Charlie Hales on Monday demonstrated his willingness to disrupt the status quo at City Hall when he reassigned bureaus to his City Council colleagues.

In several cases, Hales denied city commissioners the opportunity to continue leading bureaus they’ve had for years, but at the same time he handed out important new assignments. The result is a nearly complete realignment of political leadership for the city’s major bureaus.

Commissioner Nick Fish, who had become a fierce advocate for housing and parks, is no longer in charge of the bureaus responsible for those functions, Instead, he will take on the equally daunting issues faced by the Water Bureau and Bureau of Environmental Services.

Commissioner Dan Saltzman will hold onto his pet project, the Portland Children’s Investment Fund, but he’ll also have to tackle the housing and fire bureaus. Amanda Fritz will oversee parks, while the newest commissioner, Steve Novick, was handed one of the largest and most complex bureaus — transportation.

Hales will oversee the Police Bureau, the Portland Development Commission and the Office of Neighborhood Involvement, among others.

How well the bureaus will function under their new political leaders remains to be seen, but the reshuffling of responsibilities at City Hall will produce two positive outcomes: Most bureaus will be viewed by fresh sets of eyes, and incumbent commissioners may find themselves re-energized by new duties and challenges.