Council candidate's appearance at neighborhood meeting draws ire
Members of the Hillsdale Neighborhood Association are at odds over the appearance of only one of the candidates for Portland City Council at the association's recent meetings.
On Aug. 5, Mingus Mapps appeared as a guest at the Hillsdale group's meeting. Mapps is challenging Commissioner Chloe Eudaly for her seat on the council. Eudaly was also invited to speak to the association, but her city staff said her schedule was full and she likely couldn't attend until early 2021.
Some say that gave Mapps an unfair advantage before the election.
Email correspondence shows Tatiana Lifshitz, president of the Hillsdale group, reached out to Mapps and Commissioner Eudaly via her city email address and by phone message on July 17.
"We would like to cordially invite you to speak at our virtual meeting August 5th at 7 or 8 p.m. at the Hillsdale Neighborhood Association meeting on the current topics most dear to you in the context of this election," the invite stated.
Lifshitz was able to book Mapps, but couldn't get a response from Eudaly's staff.
The following month, Lifshitz followed up again to try to lock in a date when Eudaly could speak to the Southwest Portland neighborhood association.
"We are trying to invite her to speak before the elections," Lifshitz noted in an August email to Eudaly's office. "Do you have any suggestions how I could catch her attention? Many residents have been asking me to invite her."
Lifshitz invited both Eudaly and Suk Rhee, director of the Office of Community and Civic Life--the city bureau Eudaly oversees.
Eudaly's chief of staff later advised that the commissioner's schedule was full until December.
"She said she didn't have time, that she was too busy," Lifshitz said of Eudaly and her staff. She said despite the efforts to host both political candidates, only one was able to attend.
Eudaly's campaign staff said no one from the Hillsdale Neighborhood Association reached out to them to invite Eudaly to speak. Marie Tyvoll, a member of the neighborhood association who served as president until Lifshitz was appointed to the position in July, says that was unfair.
Tyvoll points out that Eudaly cannot commingle her election events with events she attends or appears at in her official capacity as a city commissioner.
Not channeling the invite through Eudaly's campaign, Tyvoll said, looks like a political move.
"In July, I learned Mingus Mapps was invited to an HNA meeting and I inquired if Chloe Eudaly had also been invited. As a former Hillsdale Neighborhood Association President and HNA board member, I am obligated to ensure HNA does not appear to be giving any City Council candidate an unfair advantage since HNA is expressly prohibited from being biased in favor of any political candidate," Tyvoll said, noting concerns over the group's nonprofit status with the IRS.
She said by hosting only one candidate, it created an unlevel playing field for Eudaly.
Eudaly was elected to the Portland City Council in 2016 on a platform of housing protection for renters and a commitment to the city's small businesses. She also has called for a more critical look at the role neighborhood associations play in the city, and whether they are exclusive of renters and minorities.
Lifshitz denied any politics were at play and downplayed Tyvoll's concerns, calling them a "fishing expedition."
Part of the clash stemmed from Lifshitz's refusal to share copies of the email invites sent to Mapps and Eudaly with Tyvoll or anyone else from the neighborhood association.
"I have responded to her four times," Lifshitz said by phone. "Chloe [Eudaly] was invited and I have responded to everybody. Marie is fishing. She is demanding copies of emails and everything. I'm the president and I don't have to provide that information."
Tyvoll has been an outspoken advocate for more transparency and adherence to procedural rules within neighborhood associations and the coalitions that oversee them. She also happens to be a plaintiff in a lawsuit against Southwest Neighborhoods Inc. (SWNI), the parent organization to the neighborhood associations in Southwest Portland.
Eamon Molloy, manager of the Hillsdale Farmers Market and a former Hillsdale Neighborhood Association president, said during his tenure, the association was careful to ensure equal time for political candidates.
"We had candidates come and we always made sure that every candidate had an opportunity to speak," Molloy recalled. "If we had anyone, it had to be everyone."
Molloy said he would have gone through each candidate's campaign when reaching out to invite them to speak.
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