Paid Sick Leave in Oregon?

Do you approve or disapprove of requiring all businesses in Oregon with at least 10 employees to provide paid sick leave?

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Eugene City Minimum Wage Increase Supported

Do you support or oppose a $15/hour minimum wage within Eugene city limits?

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Eugene City Storm Water Fee Increase Opposed

Do you support or oppose increasing the City of Eugene storm water fee to support parks?

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Envision Eugene Process Supported but Relatively Unknown After Years of Work

Do you approve or disapprove of the Envision Eugene planning process to chart future urban growth?

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Eugene Urban Growth Boundary Expansion Supported

Do you support or oppose expanding Eugene’s urban growth boundary?

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Board of County Commissioners Urges Residents to Comply with Fire Precautions. by Pat Farr

The Lane County Board of Commissioners has taken action on a unanimous vote to strongly urge all Lane County residents to comply with the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) Industrial Fire Precautions (IFP) Level 4. The same precautions have been adopted by fire districts across Lane County.

Lane County logo blue

The IFP Level 4 restrictions are:

  1.   1.  No open flames are allowed out of doors, including no campfires, warming fires, cooking fires, or ceremonial fires.   Fires are prohibited at all campgrounds and other sites with developed fire pits.  Gas powered barbeques are allowed, but are restricted to use on hard, non-flammable surfaces such as patios and driveways, or green irrigated lawns.
  2.   2.  No power equipment such as mowers, chain saws, stump grinders, etc. may be operated on or near dry grass, brush, or trees at any time, EXCEPT that mowing of green, irrigated lawns is allowed.
  3.   3.  No smoking outside of buildings or vehicles in any area with dry grass, brush, or trees.
  4.   4.  No operation of welding or metal cutting equipment out of doors in any area with dry grass, brush, or trees.
  5.   5.  All logging operations, including power saws, cable yarders, tractor/skidder, feller-buncher, forwarder, or shovel logging operations are prohibited.
  6.   6.  All construction operations involving dozers or graders are restricted to streets or roads, developed building sites, or other areas of non-flammable surfaces.
  7.   7.  Any other spark-emitting operation not specifically mentioned is prohibited out of doors.

The current Oregon Department of Forestry updated precautions for districts around Oregon can be found online here

“We want to make sure everyone throughout Lane County is aware of the emergency orders being issued by our local fire chiefs. We need to do everything we can to prevent fire starts and I would hope that all citizens will support and comply with the IFP Level 4 restrictions,” said Linda Cook, Lane County Emergency Management Program Manager.

These restrictions will continue until the current high temperature and low humidity weather conditions end, and the ODF and other fire districts return to IFP Level 3.

County Performance Auditor’s strategic plan and work plan are ready for approval. by Pat Farr


Lane County Commissioners’ Performance Auditor, Shanda Miller, has spared no moments in her first six months on the job as the county’s first ever Performance Auditor.

Lane County Performance Auditory's (draft) strategic plan states the County Performance Auditor’s mission is to improve the performance, accountability, and transparency of Lane County government.

Lane County Performance Auditor’s (draft) strategic plan states: the County Performance Auditor’s mission is to improve the performance, accountability, and transparency of Lane County government.

Different to positions that have been staffed in the past her work will be focused on audit of systems and departments to determine how policy and procedure analysis can identify areas of opportunity for the county to operate ever more efficiently and effectively.  Significantly, the Performance Auditor’s work will  highlight the areas that the county is currently operating at a high level.  She is one of only three county employees who report to the Board of Commissioners directly, joining Administrator Steve Mokrohisky and County Counsel Steve Dingle.  ( I asked Shanda if she would change her name to “Steve” to help avoid confusion, but she has adamantly refused to do so).

Ms. Miller has spent much of her initial time working with county staff to review areas of the county’s operation that potentially hold the highest risk and has given the Temporary (Internal) Audit Committee a ranked list.

Along with preparation of the risk assessment the committee has also received and reviewed a draft strategic plan for the Office of the Performance Auditor and a work plan for the fiscal 2015/16 year.

The one-page strategic plan for the County Performance Auditor is aligned with Lane County’s 2014-2017 Strategic Plan and includes the county vision and values. This strategic plan states the County Performance Auditor’s mission is to improve the performance, accountability, and transparency of Lane County government.

Strategic plan, the three strategic areas of focus are:

1) Improve service and performance;

2) Responsible management; and

3) Public agent.

The County Performance Auditor’s Vision is to provide relevant timely analysis and information so the county can continuously improve its services and build public trust. The values specific to the County Performance Auditor are independence, objectivity, and credibility.

 FY 15-16 Work Plan:

Using the results of the risk assessment, the County Performance Auditor identified two audit topics to include in the draft proposed fiscal year 2015-2016 work plan. Two additional administrative projects related to forming the Performance Audit function were included in the draft proposed work plan. At the July 28, 2015 meeting of the Temporary Internal Audit Committee, a motion was discussed and approved to recommend to the Board of County Commissioners approval of the County Performance Auditor’s proposed fiscal year 2015-2016 work plan:

Audit Projects

1. Financial Indicators A number of local government auditors across the U.S. are conducting performance audits to assess and report on the financial health of their organizations using indicators and trends. Similarly, this performance audit will:  Evaluate retrospective and prospective financial indicators and trends using data from the audited Comprehensive Annual Financial Report and other sources  Highlight indicators of good fiscal management  Identify both favorable and unfavorable trends, as well as emerging financial threats and opportunities

2. Behavioral Health This performance audit will assess behavioral health services system-wide, and will include a review of:  Business and funding models  Service delivery processes  Coordination and private/public partnerships  The intersection between behavioral health and public safety

Administrative Projects

3. Fraud, Waste, and Abuse Hotline Implementation  Policies & Procedures  Online employee training  Marketing plan  Implement electronic case management system

4. County Performance Auditor Operating Structure Implementation  Policies & Procedures  Templates  Audit Tools  Implement electronic work paper system

County Commissioners will discussed and approved the two plans at its regular board meeting on August 18 2015, (agenda here).

November Eugene Library Levy Starts Well

If the election were held today, would you vote yes or no on Eugene’s proposed library levy?

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Undecided Still Dominates Eugene Mayoral Contest

Polling on Eugene’s potential mayoral candidates can be seen here.

Open Lane County’s Forest Work Camp to stage forest fire fighters? I made the decision and I’ll stand by it. by Pat Farr


On a steamy and still summer night in 2014 at about three o’clock in the morning my phone on the night stand beside my bed rang…I picked it up with appropriately and predictably blurry eyes and an equally blurry brain.  I had been dreaming about fishing on a calm lake in the high Cascades and suddenly I was brought back into reality by the sound of  “Time keeps on slippin’ slippin’ slippin’…”

Forest fire central command was established at Lane County's mothballed forest work camp

Forest fire central command was established at Lane County’s mothballed forest work camp

When I say my phone rang, what I actually mean is that my iPhone woke up and played my ring tone, Steve Miller Band’s “Fly like an Eagle.”

The tone and identity of the voice on the other end of the phone cleared my eyes and my brain within about five seconds, “Commissioner Farr, this is Sheriff Turner.”

Holy cow, the sheriff is calling me in the middle of the night.  How many people ever—ever get a call from the sheriff in the middle of the night?  In that it is not a regular occurrence for me, my newly cleared mind began racing to answer the question, “What is wrong?”

Because nothing right could be coming from this call.

And my assessment was correct.  “We have a big fire…”  So why was Sheriff Tom Turner calling me about a fire?

“The Forest Service has crews coming in and they need a staging area…we have a building in Alma and I need permission to let them in…”

I said, “OK, go ahead and open it…”  I was hoping he did not expect me to have a key.

As is turned out the “building in Alma” was our mothballed Forest Work Camp, which is quite a bit more than a building.  It’s about 30 acres of dormitories, commissaries, classrooms and service buildings.  And opening it did not mean turning the key and swinging the door.  It meant turning the facility over to the firefighting command and letting them bring in equipment, helicopters, hundreds of fire fighters and occupying the entire property as a central command point for a lot of fires that had started to erupt in one of the hottest, driest summers on record.

And as it turned out I did not have the authority to say, “OK.”  But I did and I would again, a hundred times, given the same set of circumstances.

What progressed was an efficient and dynamic command center that saved millions and millions of dollars’ worth of timber resources and irreplaceable recreation land and wildlife habitat.  Having a well-located and well-equipped command center very likely saved lives.

The next day I had to answer for my actions…”That was not your call…”

Well, I begged to differ.  I did in fact receive the call and if I had taken time to think the request through instead of making a split-second decision I would have drawn the same conclusion a hundred times:  fight the fire—I’ll handle the paperwork details later…

Aftermath of my decision was not just the saved timber and resources but Lane County began to reevaluate its emergency plan.  Another benefit was that the Forest Service completely cleaned up the camp, knocked down the brush and breathed new life into the Alma Forest Work Camp.

It will never again be a work camp for inmates, but its new life may include residential training, veterans support, farming…

and, oh, yes, a command center for forest fires.