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Hales shifts Fritz's bureaus

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Mayor Charlie Hales unexpectedly reassigned two politically sensitive bureaus Wednesday.

Hales moved the Bureau of Development Services from Commissioner Amanda Fritz to Commissioner Dan Saltzman. Fritz has been criticized by neighborhood activists for not doing to more to restrict the demolition and replacement of existing housing in established neighborhoods, a process regulated by the bureau.

At the same time, Hales transferred the Office of Neighborhood Involvement, which he was overseeing, to Fritz. Despite the criticism, Fritz is still seen by many as a strong neighborhood advocate.

Hales and Fritz did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the shifts.

The changes go into effect July 15. Fritz is up for reelection next year.

“For most bureaus and offices, I am leaving the oversight unchanged. The changes I’m making match the interests, skills and experience of their new commissioners-in-charge,” Hales said in a prepared statement. “These changes also reinforce the alignment of ONI and the Portland Bureau of Parks and Recreation, and the alignment of BDS and the Portland Housing Bureau by putting each pair under a single commissioner.”

The Portland charter gives the mayor authority to assign offices and bureaus to the five member of the Portland City Council. Portland is the only city in the United States to use the commission form of government, in which elected members of the City Council oversee specific bureaus.

According to Hales' office, the city’s major bureaus were last distributed in July 2013. They include: Hales, with Portland Police Bureau, Finance and Administration, Planning and Sustainability, and the Portland Development Commission; Commissioner Saltzman with Housing, Fire & Rescue, and now BDS; Commissioner Nick Fish with Water Bureau and Bureau of Environmental Services; Commissioner Fritz with Parks & Recreation, and now ONI; Commissioner Steve Novick with Transportation, and the Bureaus of Emergency Management and Emergency Communications (911).