LANE COUNTY ACHIEVES ITS BEST CREDIT RATING EVER as a result of five years of excellent leadership in financial management. by Pat Farr

STARTING SIX YEARS AGO Lane County Board of Commissioners has overseen continuing excellence in financial management

 

On Wednesday July 17 I received this message about Lane County’s continuing improvement in financial management that has resulted in its second credit rating upgrade:

“Dear Pat:

“Citing “prudent, proactive leadership,” Moody’s Investors Service has upgraded Lane County’s credit rating from Aa2 to Aa1, which is the second highest rating it provides.
 
“This latest upgrade is a result of diligent efforts over several years to create structurally balanced budgets, lower debt, manage benefit costs and increase reserves.

“In addition to financial stewardship of taxpayer resources, Lane County has also stabilized and increased service levels in several critical areas, including public health, safety and infrastructure.

“Moody’s highlighted Lane County’s “strong finances, prudent management and low debt” as strengths that led to its decision to upgrade the County’s rating. In its credit analysis, released on July 15, 2019, Moody’s stated that Lane County’s “five year operating history was unusually strong for 2014-2018” due to prudent financial management. It also noted: “The fiscal 2020 budget marks the third consecutive budget without draws on reserves to support operations, and did not include layoffs or service reductions” and “employee healthcare benefit costs remain in-check for the fourth consecutive year.”

“This decision is particularly notable given the fact that Lane County receives the third lowest per capita local revenue among the 36 counties in Oregon. Our focus is to make sound financial decisions with our limited resources by proactively managing expenses and investing in services that improve lives in Lane County.

“In 2017, Moody’s upgraded Lane County’s credit rating from Aa3 to Aa2. Additionally, independent financial auditor Moss Adams, LLP has rated Lane County as a low-risk auditee for several years in a row. In 2016, the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office removed Lane County from a list of high-risk counties in regard to its financial health due to the County’s efforts to create long-term financial stability.”

LANE COUNTY PUBLIC HEALTH ONE OF ONLY 11 PUBLIC HEALTH DEPARTMENTS NATIONWIDE TO BE GRANTED INITIAL ACCREDIDATION STATUS. by Pat Farr

Lane County Board of Commissioners also serves as the Board of Health

Last week, the nation Public Health Accreditation Board (PHAB) granted Lane County Public Health initial accreditation status. To receive national initial accreditation through PHAB, a health department must undergo a rigorous, multi-faceted, peer-reviewed assessment process to ensure it meets or exceeds a set of public health quality standards and measures. Lane County Public Health has been undergoing this review process for the last several years.

“The value of becoming a PHAB-accredited health department extends far beyond the interior walls of the health department,” said PHAB President and CEO Kaye Bender, PhD, RN, FAAN. “People living and working in the communities served by these health departments can be assured that their health department is strong and has the capacity to protect and promote their health. Just going through the accreditation process itself helps health departments pinpoint the areas that are critical to improving the work they do for their communities.”

Lane County Public Health (LCPH) plays a critical role in protecting and improving the health of people in communities across Lane County by providing a range of services aimed at promoting healthy behaviors; preventing diseases and injuries; ensuring access to safe food, water, clean air, and life-saving immunizations; and preparing for and responding to health emergencies. New research and best practices are helping to make this task more efficient and effective, and accreditation is one way to insure LCPH is staying on track and up to speed.

Poverty and Homelessness Board is the logical place for Lane County’s Homeless System Transformation to be housed. by Pat Farr

Cooperation between Lane County and its cities will be key to maximizing resources to create shelter and supportive housing

A steering committee worked through the data and recommendations provided by the Housing and Shelter Feasibility Study (“TAC Report”), to provide a road map, or an implementation framework, to guide local jurisdictions in their efforts to build and operate affordable housing and shelter in Lane County.  (See TAC here)

Lane County’s Poverty and Homelessness Board has broad membership that includes a matrix of policy makers, providers and consumers who have been working extensively on issues and conditions surrounding the cause and response to homelessness issues. (See PHB here for links to membership and strategic plan of the PHB).

This Implementation Framework that has been recommended and adopted by Lane County and City of Eugene governments is designed to move forward with the Technical Assistance Collaborative’s (TAC) 10 recommendations delivered to the Lane County Commissioners and Eugene City Councilors in January. TAC recommendations may be broadly organized into three categories:

1) Expanding the edges of the homeless service and supportive housing system by enhancing and more effectively outreaching to people experiencing homelessness and building out the inventory of supportive housing and services;

2) Strengthening the core of Lane County’s coordinated systems approach to homelessness by better coordinating, a strategic and data driven community-wide response, adding to diversion, prevention coordinated entry and navigation services; and

3) Enhancing the rapid response by providing better emergency housing with integrated supportive services and housing navigation; building a new low- barrier 75-bed Shelter/Navigation Center; developing mobiles socio-health care teams to serve people where they are and allocating flexible funds to creatively respond to emerging needs.

3+ year Implementation Framework

The Framework below identifies key milestones for each year of implementation.  The majority of TAC’s recommendations are achievable in 3 years.  However, the complexity inherent in developing Permanent Supportive housing necessitates a 5+ year implementation strategy for this item.

Immediate Difference Makers.

  • Establishment of a navigation center at the Dusk to Dawn site to provide expanded supportive navigation services This is intended as a bridge strategy until a new Emergency Shelter/Navigation Center comes online
  • Design and siting work toward a new 75-bed, Low-Barrier Emergency Shelter/Navigation Center
  • Develop and Implement Mobile teams to deliver services to people where they are.
  • 51 Units of Permanent Supportive Housing beginning construction in Fall of 2019
  • Strengthening system coordination for diversion, coordinated entry, navigation and move on
  • Flexible Funding to respond to people’s immediate needs
  • Collective impact process led by a Strategic Initiatives Manager

Linked to existing efforts

TAC Implementation will complement and link to existing homeless and supportive housing and service programs and initiatives sponsored by the City and County to address homelessness. The following are some examples of existing initiatives that have added capacity in recent years:

Dusk to Dawn:  Established by Lane County and the City of Eugene in December 2015, Dusk to Dawn provides sites for people to sleep overnight. A St. Vincent de Paul site for individuals in northwest Eugene has been expanded over the past three years from 80 beds, to 115 and this year to 215 beds. St. Vincent de Paul also operates a site for families with children in southeast Eugene that has a capacity to serve 20 families.

Car Camping and Safe Parking Programs: Car Camping and Safe Parking programs, run in partnership with St. Vincent de Paul, currently hosts over 90 single spaces and eight family spaces at over 43 addresses, both public and private. The City of Eugene and Lane County sponsor these programs. St. Vincent de Paul administers the program, providing sanitary facilities as well as camper screening and placement.

Rest Stops: Rest stops provide approved sites where people experiencing homelessness can sleep in tents or Conestoga huts, keep their belongings, and receive assistance connecting with social services. Currently, five rest stops managed by local non-profits are in operation, serving up to 92 people at any one time.

Community Outreach and Response Team (CORT): A partnership between the Downtown Police Team and CAHOOTS, this team identifies top users of police resources in the downtown area and spends two days a week working with individuals to help them address underlying needs and barriers. CORT has helped 31% of their clients enter housing.

Frequent User System Engagement (FUSE): Lane County’s FUSE, is a supportive housing program for the top 100 homeless individuals who have been the most “frequent utilizers” of Lane County’s public services including law enforcement, jails, and emergency medical services. A partnership between Lane County, Laurel Hill, ShelterCare, Willamette Family Treatment Senior & Disabled Services, local jails and law enforcement, FUSE engages people with outreach, case management, housing search, housing units and/or rental assistance, care coordination and ongoing support.  In its pilot year, participants experienced an 82% drop in arrests, a 75% drop in citations, a 26% decrease in emergency room visits, a 53% drop in healthcare costs, and a 50% decline in jail intakes.

Veterans Housing Project: An extension of operation 365, the Veterans Housing Project is a collaborative effort between individuals, businesses, governmental agencies, non-profits, service clubs and others to acquire and rehabilitate distressed properties to provide affordable rental housing for veterans and their families.  More than 500 veterans have been housed since program inception in 2014.

Timing:

The County Administrator and Eugene City Manager will bring back to the County Board and the City Council for approval in June their recommendation for financing the first year of the implementation plan. Additional service capacity will be phased in during year one.

Homelessness in San Diego, Houston, Lane County has similar faces. Tony the Movie is a must watch. by Pat Farr

 

On June 6 2019 I joined an audience of perhaps a hundred at the Bijou Arts Cinemas to watch a screening of “Tony the Movie” at the invitation of Reverend Wayne Martin.

Tony the Movie inspires watchers to take action

The movie follows Tony Rodriguez, a homeless man in San Diego, through days and weeks of his life.  He accompanies a news reporter to other cities to see first-hand how chronic homelessness has been addressed in those communities.

As the movie progresses, watchers are shown examples of how regional action committees have been established to provide effective housing to transform homeless support systems.  “Housing First”, Permanent Supportive Housing, has proven effective across the nation to efficiently and humanely end the cycle of homelessness for people with behavioral health conditions.  Lane County’s Poverty and Homelessness Board is such a “committee.”

The audience included housed people who are excited about finding solutions in Lane County as well as people who are living on the streets.

Wayne Martin asked for impressions after the movie and heard a number of quotes, including these:

“I get off work at 2 in the morning and then I need to find a place to sleep.  The stress builds up inside me, and all the money I earn is used to just survive…”

“I have a home now.  A lot has been going on here in the last 12 months…”

While the movie elicits deep emotion as you watch Tony trying “to live in society” while working, storing his belongings daily and being moved along regularly, it also gives a ray of hope and anticipation of how Lane County and its cities are pro-actively working together to help men and women and families “live in society.”

You can watch the movie here.  

 

The recently concluded “TAC Report”–a shelter feasibility study–has given birth to an action plan that will include strategies with short- and long-term tactics to “Transform our Homeless Support System.”

If you are interested in seeing, hearing and reading more please contact me via my public email at pat.farr@co.lane.or.us , please reference “Tony.”  I will give links and lists of how plans are being laid to make an immediate difference and tie future solutions to existing efforts.

Evening Lane County Commission Public Forums will be held to accommodate day workers, Diana Jones publishes schedule. by Pat Farr.

 

On May 21 I suggested that Lane County Commissioners begin holding evening public comment sessions to facilitate testimony from people with day jobs.

Late in the day on May 21, 2019 I suggested that the board of Lane County Commissioners begin holding monthly evening public comment sessions in order to accommodate people who work days and are unable to state their opinion at our regular board meetings on Tuesdays or Wednesdays. See the webcast of the May 21 meeting here.

In 1997, as President of the Eugene City Council, I changed public forum sessions from once monthly to each Monday regularly scheduled meeting.  My change was received with enthusiasm and that schedule continues to this day.

At the regular Board of Commissioners meeting on May 21 a large number of people signed up for public comment, usually held from just after 9 am until all comments had been received and ending before 9:30 most meeting days.  On that day so many people wanted to testify on one particular subject that others had to leave before their turn to talk was called.  Time certain agenda items were delayed causing staff and other presenters to wait beyond their allocated time or leave the meeting.

At my suggestion, the Lane County Board of Commissioners is increasing opportunity for public participation by holding regular evening public comment sessions. The evening public comment sessions are in addition to the regular daytime opportunities.

 The evening public comment sessions will generally be held on the third Thursday of the month at 5:30 p.m. (I initially suggested 5:00 pm) in Harris Hall, as long as there is also a regular, daytime meeting scheduled on that date.

Public comment will last from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. and be open to all Lane County residents to comment on any topic. Speakers will be given a maximum of three minutes.

The currently scheduled evening public comment sessions for 2019 are:

  • Tuesday, June 18, at 5:30 p.m. in Willamalane’s Ken Long Room (250 S. 32nd Street, Springfield)
  • Tuesday, July 23, 2019 at 5:30 p.m. in Harris Hall (125 E. 8th Avenue, Eugene)
  • Tuesday, August 20, 2019 at 5:30 p.m. in Harris Hall (125 E. 8th Avenue, Eugene)
  • Tuesday, October 15, 2019 at 5:30 p.m. in Harris Hall (125 E. 8th Avenue, Eugene)
  • Tuesday, December 17, 2019 at 5:30 p.m. in Harris Hall (125 E. 8th Avenue, Eugene)

 I would like to thank the Board of Commissioners, including Jay Bozievich, Joe Berney, Heather Buch and Pete Sorenson for unanimously supporting my recommendation for evening public comment sessions, and particularly thank Diana Jones for building the schedule.

Scheduled evening public comment sessions are listed on the County’s online calendar at www.lanecounty.org/calendar.

Giving Veterans a Home. by Pat Farr

A new house for returning Veterans.

Volunteers and Veterans gather in front of Veterans House for its dedication

St. Vincent DePaul of Lane County and Bethel School District teamed with a host of volunteers and veterans to refurbish, remodel and repurpose this house in west Eugene to serve as a home for the household of a veteran returning from active duty.  Here.

School Board Chair Debi Farr, Superintendent Chris Parra and Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis at the dedication of Bethel Schools and St. Vincent DePaul Veterans House in Bethel

This house becomes a part of the tremendous effort in Lane County to house homeless veterans.  Operation 365 in 2015/6 housed over 400 veterans’ families in a single year and has housed over 500 more since.  Here.

Henry Farr’s memorial flag flies on the lawn of Veteran House 10 in Bethel. Henry served in the Royal Navy

 

Brenda Wilson, Pete Kerns and Jon Ruiz at the VetHouse dedication on April 4 2019

Advocates recommendations for Shelter and Supportive Housing Steering Committee. by Pat Farr

Coordination behavioral health help, support, advice, gudance and assistance with public safety will be a powerful focus in 2019-21

I had a substantial conversation with Larry Abel and Wayne Martin, both tireless advocates for programs addressing poverty and homelessness.  They had recommendations for consideration by the Steering Committee that will be deliberating on and making policy recommendations for implementation of the TAC Shelter and Housing Report here to the City of Eugene and Lane County.  Following is my summary and response to the conversation:

Larry and Wayne
Thanks for taking the time yesterday to meet with me in my office. It was not only informative and productive but also quite pleasant. I have started a file on the three recommendations that you’ve given to me and I will be certain that they are included during the upcoming Steering Committee for the TAC recommendations meetings.

The three recommendations, as I wrote them, are:

1. Conduct a nationwide search for an individual with experience in successfully implementing innovative ways to coordinate and effectively conduct response to homelessness issues including permanent supportive housing and low barrier shelter. I have included 24-hour Community Crisis Center aimed at jail diversion.

2. Include a currently unhoused individual in committee and/or board work. This individual could be a voice for an “A-Team” or consulting group of unhoused individuals which might be dynamic in composition.

3. Establish reasonably defined timelines for the response, including specific timelines for specific efforts/projects that contribute to the broad strategy. I called this a “Medusa head of timelines emanating from a single separate strategic plan.

I added that the strategies and policies recommended will be contained within already existing strategic plans including

1. Lane County Strategic plan here

2. Poverty and Homelessness Board Strategic Plan here

3. Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP) here

 

Both 2. and 3. are contained inside of 1.

PF

Pat Farr
Lane County CommissioneTo:
ABEL Larry (SMTP);
Cc:
Wayne Martin <justwayne1154@gmail.com>;

Larry and Wayne
Thanks for taking the time yesterday to meet with me in my office. It was not only informative and productive but also quite pleasant. I have started a file on the three recommendations that you’ve given to me and I will be certain that they are included during the upcoming Steering Committee for the TAC recommendations meetings.

The three recommendations, as I wrote them, are:

1. Conduct a nationwide search for an individual with experience in successfully implementing innovative ways to coordinate and effectively conduct response to homelessness issues including permanent supportive housing and low barrier shelter. I have included 24-hour Community Crisis Center aimed at jail diversion.

2. Include a currently unhoused individual in committee and/or board work. This individual could be a voice for an “A-Team” or consulting group of unhoused individuals which might be dynamic in composition.

3. Establish reasonably defined timelines for the response, including specific timelines for specific efforts/projects that contribute to the broad strategy. I called this a “Medusa head of timelines emanating from a single separate strategic plan.

I added that the strategies and policies recommended will be contained within already existing strategic plans including

1. Lane County Strategic plan https://www.lanecounty.org/government/county_departments/county_administration/administration/strategic_planning

2. Poverty and Homelessness Board Strategic Plan: https://lanecounty.org/government/county_departments/health_and_human_services/human_services_division/poverty_and_homelessness_board

3. Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP): https://preventionlane.org/chip

Both 2. and 3. are contained inside of 1.

PF

Pat Farr
Lane County Commissione

Flakiest crust ever tops these turkey pot pies. “The Only Pie Crust I’m Ever Going To Use.” by Pat Farr

Sour cream helps make this crust remarkably light and flaky…

I adapted this crust from a classic recipe.  I wasn’t sure how it would come out of the oven when I put it in…Here’s the result: it is the flakiest, tastiest I’ve ever had…would work well for pasties, fruit pies or quiche.

Recipe: The Only Pie Crust I’m Ever Going To Use 

Ingredients:

  • 2-1/2 c     All purpose flour
  • 1/2 c         Unsalted butter
  • 1/2 c         Shortening
  • 1 t             Salt
  • 8 T           Ice water
  • 1/2 c        Sour cream

Sift the flour and salt together.  Cut the butter and shortening into the flour mix until it becomes small (tiny, that is) chunks.  With a fork, stir the water into the blend and incorporate fully.  Stir in the sour cream and form the dough into a ball.  Refrigerate for an hour.  For a fruit pie you can add 2 T granulated sugar, but it’s not necessary.  You can also add a little more salt if you’d like it a bit more savory.

Form six balls and roll into 6-1/2″ rounds.  This (obviously) makes enough for six six-inch pot pies.  It’s also just enough for a top and bottom crust on an apple pie (my personal favorite fruit pie…) or for a dozen Yorkshire Pasties (here).

Use it with you favorite pot-pie filling.  Here’s mine:

Recipe:  Turkey Pot Pies

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs.     Cooked moist turkey breast
  • 1 lb.       Tiny baby carrots or chopped carrots
  • 1 c          Chopped onions
  • 1 c          Chopped Celery
  • 1c           Or more frozen peas
  •                Garlic, sage, pepper to taste
  •                Enough rich chicken stock to barely cover veggies (less peas)
  •                Flour and water slurry to thicken

Simmer the veggies (less peas) and spices in the chicken stock until they are just barely tender.  Add the turkey and bring to a boil.  Add the slurry and stir until very thick.  You can add a little half and half but keep the stock very thick.  Add the peas and simmer until they are warmed through.  You can cool it now to use later or ladle into pot pie bowls immediately.

Top with The Only Pie Crust I’m Ever Going To Use rounds and bake at 425-degrees until golden brown, check at 15 minutes…

Yorkshire pudding becomes a classic toad-in-the-hole. by Pat Farr

 

Classic Toad-in-the-Hole doesn’t have to be rough or boring.

Classic “Toad-in-the-hole” does not have to be rough or boring. This Italiano version incorporates Italian Cheeses with basil-garlic chicken meatballs

When you take a time-honored Yorkshire pudding recipe and cooking technique, like the one I inherited from my mother and she from her mother, and add pieces of English bangers it becomes toad-in-the-hole.

TIH was served in school, at restaurants and in my home when I was growing up in Sheffield.  This simple variation lets you know how only your imagination holds you back from a broad variety of options.

Ingredients:

2c     Flour

1c      Milk and water

3        Eggs

1T       each, chopped oregano, chopped fresh garlic (or to taste)

pinch black pepper, salt to taste

12      cooked seasoned chicken meatballs or chicken sausage chunks

12T   Mozarella cheese

12×1/2t     Parmesan Cheese

vegetable oil for cooking

Beat the flour, liquid, eggs and spices until smooth.   Add more or less of the liquid to make a pancake-batter consistency smooth mix.  This can be made early and reserved until ready to cook.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  Add the oil to muffin (or Yorkshire pudding) tins and bring to oven temperature.

Fill the tins nearly to the top with the batter, in the hot oil.  Place a meatball in the middle and spoon and sprinkle the Italian cheeses on top.

Bake in the oven until fully risen and golden brown, check after 15 minutes.

You can serve this version of TIH with a marinara sauce…

Substitute any meat you love and any spice blend to compliment the meat:  boudin blanc, Mexican, Hawaiian–you be the creator!

Students at Willamette High School are leading the way to government policy changes. by Pat Farr

Willamette High School seniors Nate and Harrison met with me in my office on February 3 2019 to plan strategies for implementing their ideas about shelter and housing

Willamette High School social studies teacher Leslie Simmons each school year has students complete a public policy project.  Together she and fellow teacher Steve Miller help them prepare a two-day Public Policy Forum.

The students select a policy they believe needs to be addressed. It can be anything from filling potholes to school funding to immigration. The student do the research and determine a pathway for moving their policy through local, state, or federal law.

Then they prepare a report and display.  Policy makers and educators participate in interviewing students and scoring these projects.

In January this year I participated for the third time.  I met groups of students from three classes over the course of the days on January 23 and 24 in the WilHi media center.  It is among the most enjoyable things I have done as an elected official.

Each year I have been amazed at the choices of policy changes–or laws–that they bring to the forum.  This year the preparation through research, report-writing and display presentation reached a new high.  The students were in groups of two to four and gave convincing arguments that would deliver results through formal city, county or state policy processes.

I personally attended 22 presentations by these remarkable high school seniors. Among the reports I reviewed and evaluated were:

  • Sex Trafficking–not in my state!
  • Delta Highway-Beltline Road interchange improvements
  • Childhood Obesity
  • Distracted Driving and Texting
  • Teen Homelessness
  • Bully Prevention
  • Fighting Hunger and Malnutrition
  • Homeless Shelter on Public Property
  • Protecting Pollenators

 

Several of the student teams will meet with me and others to plan strategies for implementation and expansion of their ideas.

Students receive this clear advise: “It is essential that students are in class while we prepare for the Policy Project. Failure to attend can devastate your grade!”  But my experience is that these high school seniors are participating for far more than just a good grade in a class…

 

To see the detailed assignment given to the students, including selection and preparation checklists,  visit this site:  Mrs. Simmons and Mr. Miller’s page