Archive for the ‘Pat Farr’ Category

Waterloo at 8th Avenue and Pearl Street? by Pat Farr

Thursday, July 17th, 2014

 

Wait a moment!  Do we really have to do this?

Wait a moment! Do we really have to do this?      (painting by William Holmes Sullivan)

To a casual observer it may seem evident that the City of Eugene’s government and that of Lane County have irreconcilable differences.  Such an observation is likely boosted by the current clash regarding the City of Eugene’s proposed sick leave ordinance.  The City has published a draft ordinance (click here, then select Council Bill 5125) that Lane County officials believe may be costly to the county’s weakened general fund budget.

So  Lane County Commissioners responded by drafting three ordinances (click here for Forum Lane links to the ordinances) that would intervene, ahead of the passage of the Eugene ordinance, to preclude the city from placing regulations on public bodies and private businesses in their human resource practices.

It seems like a battle is brewing, in fact may have already begun.  But it does not have to be so.  In the The Art of War, Sun Tzu says that the best way to win a battle is without fighting.  He also implies that, “Where the army is, prices are high; when prices rise the wealth of the people is exhausted…”

By fighting a battle on any front the City of Eugene and Lane County will exhaust both their resources and their credibility with the people they serve.

The Eugene City Council moved very quickly to its action point regarding passing a sick leave ordinance.  Little or no contact was made with other overlapping and adjacent jurisdictions to coordinate efforts or to work out compromise in a way that could result in no battle being fought. In seeming disregard for its stated desire for exhaustive public process and input the Council has ignored both.

The Council deadline, a work session and possible action set for July 21, caused a quickly crafted response from the county in order to fulfill its public hearing requirements before considering action prior to the Council’s work session.  Unlike the city, Lane County requires a 13-day period between first reading and passage of any ordinance, thus allowing for increased public input.  In order to pass any precluding ordinance prior to the city’s July 21 meeting, the County’s first reading had to take place on July 8.  County Commissioners were seizing the high ground in the upcoming battle, and the stakes are high.

This hasty back-and-forth action/reaction is not evidence of good government.   The city and the county must work together, today and for the future.  We have too many mutual concerns and overlapping duties to not do so.  We have too few resources to not consolidate all we have and serve in the best way possible.

The list of current and pressing issues that are being worked on together is long.  An abundance of issues are swirling that cannot be resolved without great coordination and great mutual respect.  The battle lines that are currently being drawn are dimming to the point of possibly extinguishing  the shoulder-to-shoulder efforts we are involved in.

Here are but a few current reasons that it is important to keep the city and the county on the highest level of working terms:

1.         Poverty and Homelessness Commission.  This newly-formed work group has replaced other separate committees to consolidate its efforts and resources to maximize available funds and staff.  This will further our needed ability to care for the working poor and the indigent in our community.  Four elected officials are a part of this group, including Mayor Kitty Piercy, Mayor Christine Lundberg, Representative Val Hoyle and me (chair of the Lane County Board of Commissioners).  There is no room for tension.

2.         Downtown Farmers’ Market.  It is widely considered to be an invaluable addition to Eugene’s downtown vitality to facilitate a year-round farmers’ market some place near the government center and the court house.  Conditions exist that will take great coordination between the city and the county if the market’s potential is to be realized.  There is no room for tension.

3.         Envision Eugene:  residential and industrial land use.  The city and county are currently working on a long-studied expansion of Eugene’s urban growth boundary.  This will require cooperation and coordination to add residential land and industrial land in the most appropriate places.  There is no room for tension.

Eugene and Lane County have a long list of other cooperative efforts that have been fostered and nurtured for years.  We work together on the Human Services Commission; Lane Area Commission on Transportation; the Metropolitan Policy Commission; Lane Council of Governments and a plethora of other committees, commissions and joint efforts that also have no room for tension.

Additionally, the City of Eugene is currently using part of Lane County’s Public Service Building and Harris Hall meeting chamber as a temporary city hall.  The contract is due for reinstatement and/or renegotiation.  There is no room for tension.

In short, the city and county have to work together starting now to resolve what could turn into a tense and nonproductive episode in our relationship.  The city should put the brakes on passage of its sick leave ordinance until details have been worked out in the actual language of the ordinance.  Details that more closely satisfy the needs (and wants) of staff, elected officials and most importantly the people we serve.

If the Eugene City Council can provide more time to answer outstanding questions, I have to believe that satisfactory resolutions can be achieved.

 

Lane County sets second reading on ordinances in response to Eugene’s impending “mandatory sick leave ordinance” passage. by Pat Farr

Thursday, July 10th, 2014

 

Lane County logo blue

Lane County’s Board of County Commissioners passed the first reading of three ordinances which were designed to respond to the fast-tracked forwarding and passage of the City of Eugene’s Council Bill 5125, an Ordinance Concerning Sick Leave (Click here for Eugene’s website, then click on Council Bill 5125).

Ordinance 14-04 (Click here for full text)  This ordinance, if passed, would exempt Lane County from any other local government’s attempt to change terms or conditions of employment for that jurisdiction.

Ordinance 14-05 (Click here for full text)  This ordinance, if passed, would do the same for any local government (cities, for instance) that are in Lane County.

Ordinance 14-06 (Click here for full text)  This ordinance, if passed, would exempt any employer with employees located in Lane County from the same.

What the first two would accomplish would be protecting either (14-04) Lane County government from mandates of Eugene’s sick leave ordinance or (14-04) any government body in Lane County (14-05) from the same.

Ordinance 14-06 would exempt “Any Employer That Has Employees Located in Lane County from Any Resolution, Ordinance, Rule or Regulation Adopted by Any Unit of Local Government That Mandates, Regulates, Orders, or Requires Any Terms or Conditions of Employment for Any Employer, Their Commissioners, Directors, Managers, Employees…Located in Lane County,” in effect rendering Eugene’s possible ordinance ineffective.

The Board has scheduled a second reading, public hearing, deliberation and possible action for 9 am on Monday July 21 2014.

I am anxious to hear comments.  Please forward any comments you may have to me at pat.farr@co.lane.or.us 

 

 

Sick leave for everyone? by Pat Farr

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

Paid sick leave

I am going to make some assumptions about the way people operate, based upon the standards I would like to adhere to in my life:

1.            They have a job that they either love or need and they  want to do it the best that it can be done.

2.            They  care about the people they work with, around and for and do not want to cause them discomfort or place them at unnecessary risk.

3.            They  do not like to be ill.

Allowing for days off while sick should be a fundamental part of an employer’s terms of agreement with employees.

Clearly an ill staff member is not going to perform his or her duty in a manner to the standard their peers expect and need, that  their employer feels is needed for the work to be completed at standard, or significantly to the level that customers demand and deserve.

Just as clearly, the risk of infection spreading to the men women and children that an ill person comes into contact with is a risk that should not be taken.  To that same end, Lane County’s Community Health Improvement Plan calls for inoculation and vaccination levels to be increased to produce “herd immunity” and to prevent outbreak of communicable diseases.  Workers who are go to work while ill are directly opposed to the Health Improvement Plan’s basic tenets.

The first option for an ill worker, in order to avoid substandard work or potential wide spread health threat, is to stay home.  For all involved, that  is nearly always the preferred option—whether you are a coworker, employer or customer.

Ignoring these threats leaves a working poor person with a second choice that is not good.  In the case of workers who lose pay while staying home to prevent outbreak, substandard job performance or customer dissatisfaction the choice is untenable:  “Do I lose money from my paycheck or do I expose others to unacceptable risk?”

The choice might seem clear to those among us who do not rely on every penny earned to pay the rent, put gas in the car, buy antihistamines or feed our children.  Take home less pay and sacrifice something that we enjoy, perhaps, or something that is not necessary to meet our basic needs.  Stay home and get better at the same time making sure that we are not causing others we work around to be at risk or be unable to do our job the way we would like to do it.

Those among us who have work that covers our bills have many choices in our lives that we hold dear.  We can buy presents for our loved ones.  We can wear stylish clothing.  We can buy medication that keeps our noses from running.  We can go to the coast or up the river for a day or a weekend.  These are but a few areas we have choices in every day.

But I regularly think about those among us whose paycheck either does not cover the bills or just barely does so without allowing for choices such as an extra cup of coffee, dessert or a mini-vacation—the working poor.  There are thousands of people that you may see daily that suffer far beyond illness if they lose pay by missing work for illness.

I believe that there is an obligation to help the working poor who we live alongside, whose children attend school with our children.  The working poor, we should assume, would like to buy a new pair of shoes for their child, or not face eviction or have their electricity shut off, or want to make sure their kids don’t go through the day hungry during the summer when schools aren’t providing meals.  People who need to have a sense of security that they aren’t going to even further lower their standard of living by missing a day of work.

Employers should be encouraged to find a way to help themselves while fostering a level of security in daily needs that everybody in this country should have.

Immediately, I consider the potential abuse of paid sick leave that becomes possible.  The possibility of people staying home just because they didn’t get enough sleep.  Or staying home because they just don’t feel like working today.

But those risks are present even without paid sick leave.  Those are disciplinary issues that an employer should have a plan to deal with.  That is a symptom of a bad worker issue that becomes part of the standard disciplinary process.

I think about people who have worked for me and how well I have always wanted to care for them, by offering benefits beyond a paycheck.  By offering a productive and supportive work environment.  I think that I should not be told how to run my business.  Of course I shouldn’t be told how to run my business.  I should be able to operate my business in a way that is sustainable for me, my staff and my customers.

But then I also think that making certain that I am not placing myself at risk, or placing my staff or my customers at risk is the way I want to run my business.  I do not want employees who are sick jeopardizing their own health or others they work with.

That being said, the city of Eugene’s ordinance reaches too far the way it is written.  Relying on administrative rules to cover the stretch beyond the boundaries of the city’s jurisdiction is not a risk that Lane County should assume.  Jurisdictions operating on ever diminishing general fund dollars, using revenue streams produced by taxes, cannot afford for their expenses to be increased by other jurisdictions.  Such increases in expenses, however small, cannot be absorbed and therefore result in a reduction of services.

To that end, the Board of County Commissioners have a duty to protect and preserve its resources and cannot rely on speculative administrative rules of another jurisdiction for assurance.

 

 

Health Improvement Plan Target Area Two: Prevent and Reduce Tobacco Use. by Pat Farr

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2014

 

The Lane County Board of County Commissioners has started its process of installing a new strategic plan.  The Health and Human Services Department began the work two years ago and has developed a Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP).  It makes sense that the Board’s strategic plan embed this comprehensive and targeted CHIP into its own long- and short-term strategic plan.  This fits with the goal that I have stated, and will continue to push, “Make Lane the Healthiest County in the US.”

The CHIP has five target areas, as reported in the previous Forum Lane post  “Lane County’s Community Health Improvement Plan Targets Targets Prevention of Outbreaks and Epidemics” (click here).  Each of the target areas has a defined list of STRATEGIES.  Specific tactics will continue to be developed to support the strategies.

Target Area Two: Prevent and Reduce Tobacco Use

If you smoke, find ways to help you quit.  If you don't smoke, DON'T START

If you smoke, find ways to help you quit. If you don’t smoke, DON’T START

STRATEGIES:

Strategy 1: Build community leaders and decision makers understanding of the WHO MPOWER (click here) framework for tobacco control, the history of tobacco control in Lane County and the strategies
below:

Strategy 2: Engage in efforts to encourage support for statewide legislation to increase the price of
cigarettes by $1/pack excise tax (and proportionate amount on other tobacco products) and dedicate
10% ($40 million) to comprehensive and effective efforts at the state and local levels to reduce
tobacco use and exposure in adults and children

 
Strategy 3: Increase the number of environments where tobacco use is prohibited:
• City & county operated campuses
• Parks and outdoor recreational spaces
• Early through higher education campuses
• Places where people connect with physical and mental health services and support services
• Worksites

 
Strategy 4: Support adoption and implementation of tobacco-free multi-unit housing complex
policies (indoors)

 
Strategy 5: Promote the Oregon Tobacco Quitline as part of every local tobacco-free initiative

 
Strategy 6: Promote the Oregon Tobacco Quitline and incorporate Healthy Communities, Healthy
People messaging developed by the state Public Health Division’s media contractor into all earned
media and other communications

 
Strategy 7: Support and encourage the City of Eugene to conduct annual compliance inspections of
all licensed tobacco retail outlets and ensure enforcement action is taken against those outlets out of
compliance

It is important that the cost of smoking, not only in life quality and not only to the smoker, but also in actual dramatically increased health care costs for all people, is made clear.  Cessation of tobacco smoking may not be popular with everyone, but when people make unhealthy choices for themselves, others around them should not have to share the consequences.

Lane County’s Community Health Improvement Plan targets prevention of outbreaks and epidemics. by Pat Farr

Friday, June 27th, 2014

 

HIV Alliance staff join me and other elected officials to kick off free testing for early detection

HIV Alliance staff join me and other elected officials to kick off free testing for early detection

COMMUNITY HEALTH IMPROVEMENT PLAN. Lane County’s plan has five target areas (click here) for helping make Lane County become (in my words) “The healthiest county in the US.”

One area is to Improve Health Equity by examining “the implementation of all Community Health Improvement Plan strategies through an ‘equity lens’ to assess any disproportionate impacts on specific populations and make any necessary modifications to improve health equity”

To those ends, Lane County’s HIV Alliance announced on Thursday June 26 a free HIV testing day.  I joined Eugene Mayor Kitty Piercy, Cottage Grove Mayor Chuck Munroe, Springfield City Councilor Marilee Woodrow, HIV Alliance director Diane Lang and the volunteer and paid staff of the alliance at the Lane County Health and Human Services Building for the milestone event.

 

 

Oregon Trees survive and grow. by Pat Farr

Thursday, June 26th, 2014

 

Patrick and Evan Farr kayaking on Fern Ridge Lake

Patrick and Evan Farr kayaking on Fern Ridge Lake

I love this picture.  Our two sons are kayaking on Fern Ridge Lake just west of our home in Eugene. I am a preservationist, and we preservationists have to be happy to see the backdrop of Douglas fir trees in their many phases of growth.  In this picture you see old growth, second growth, third growth and ornamentally planted Doug fir, which is (as you likely know) our state tree.

Oh, off to the left you see a clear cut, also.

Honoring the mother of our children: Debi Farr. by Pat Farr

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

 

Debi Smith and I met on the University of Oregon Campus on September the fifth 1973.  I had arrived in Eugene 15 minutes earlier and had decided, with my friend and Bean Complex Dormitory roommate Doug Kaufman to take a quick tour of campus before checking into our room.  Doug saw Debi, singing under a street lamp on 13th Avenue just in front of Chapman Hall.  He had competed in forensics against her in high school.  He said, “Look, Debi Smith…you need to meet her.”

I agreed.  We will celebrate our 39th wedding anniversary on August 17 this year.

The Lady Guinevere rose that I bought for Debi Farr on Mothers' Day 2001

The Lady Guinevere rose that I bought for Debi Farr on Mothers’ Day 2001

This is Debi Farr‘s GUINEVERE rose blooming on Mothers’ Day 2014. I bought this rose for her when I was GM at Gray’s Garden Centers. It had just been introduced into the United States and we had only one. Debi played Guinevere on stage in Camelot and I thought it fitting for her…it’s delicate creamy apricot shades and lovely fragrance are perfect. (It’s a floribunda with nearly grandiflora-size blooms).

Debi and I with our fantastically talented children Patrick Jr., Hayley and Evan

Debi and I with our fantastically talented children Patrick Jr., Hayley and Evan

We are the proud parents of Patrick Jr., a master in philosophy (MA, University of Arizona); Evan, a Doctor of Political Theory (PhD, University of Virginia; and Hayley, a world champion in forensics (Croatia, 2008) and arachnologist (Oregon State University).

When Pat met Debi

When Pat met Debi

Through the years we have built our family together while Debi has excelled in musical theater on big stages.  She’s been Guinevere in Camelot; Gilda and Hodel in Fiddler on the Roof; Fred in Princess and the Pea; Miss Hannigan and Grace Farrell in Annie; Sheila in Hair and so many other roles.  She’s been my State Representative and a Bethel School Board member; she’s been a top-level salesperson and a medical professional.

But mainly, she’s been the greatest MOM this world has seen.

Now that's something to be proud of!

Now that’s something to be proud of!

Happy Mothers Day, Darling

Thank you, Debi Smith…oops, Debi Farr.

 

Buford Park/Mt. Pisgah/Emerald Meadows is a jewel. by Pat Farr

Wednesday, May 14th, 2014

 

If you’ve never been to Lane County’s Buford Park which features the magnificent Mt. Pisgah and it arboretum and Emerald Meadows at the confluence of the Coast and Middle Forks of the Willamette River you owe it to yourself to visit there.  If you have been there before, go back often at all times of the year.  There is nothing like it.

Camas blooming in the meadows at Buford Park

Camas blooming in the meadows at Buford Park

It is not a place for large invasive mass gatherings with blasting music lasting for days into the small hours of the morning.  It’s not a place where unruly crowds that leave untenable messes for the park’s neighbors and stewards to clean up should be allowed.  It’s not a place that should be choked by mile-long lines of misbehaving drivers who wait impatiently to get in and out while people who live nearby are blocked in or out of their homes.  It’s not a place for a music festival such as the one Kaleidoscope dropped in there last year (the summer of 2013).

But is it a place where a far more gentle audience of friendly and courteous lovers of nature along with their own particular sort of congregation and music can coexist with others who want to use the park or who live nearby?  An audience that is committed to leaving the place cleaner and more appealing to the next visitor than they found it?

Well, we may never know.

The Lane County Board of Commissioners voted 4-1 to cancel future (already contracted) events at the park after the upcoming 2014 season.  This cancellation includes Faerieworlds, which is the type of event that I described in paragraph two, above.  I was the dissenting vote.

The reason that I cast the negative vote was not because I am a frequenter of Faerieworlds.  I’ve only viewed it from a distance.  Not because I think that large events should be a regular occurrence in the park.  They shouldn’t.

I simply believe that Faerieworlds was amalgamated with the Kaleidoscope debacle last summer and it was deemed to be as unwelcome as that festival.  I had hoped that the organizers of Faerieworlds would be granted the chance to demonstrate through their event this coming summer that they could be compatible and even a positive partner in the long-term stewardship of this great natural resource.

Faerieworlds will have their event this year.  Through the vote by the Commission on May 13, however, no matter how well the organizers and the audiences behave and act in congruence with recently agreed on rules and regulations, they will not be back.

I was not opposed to making the judgement call regarding future events after this year’s performances.  In fact, I would be willing to lead the charge to dismiss it forever if it had not met all of the expectations that have been and would be outlined for it.

Unfortunately for the people who follow Faerieworlds, the Kaleidoscope ruckus led to the dismissal of their event.

I wish that we could have waited until after this year’s shows to make the call.

New Lane County Administrator’s first day of work is a long one. by Pat Farr

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

 

I wanted to make certain that Steve Mokrohisky’s first day of work with the Board of Commissioners was a long one.  A very long one.  So his schedule was arranged to begin with his first meeting around sunrise on May 6 and his last meeting adjourned sometime around sunset.  It did –and for those of us on the 45th parallel, we know that in May that’s a long day. (See video here)

Going over upcoming Board of Commissioners agenda items with Mokrohiski

Going over upcoming Board of Commissioners agenda items with Mokrohisky 

The day began with a one-on-one in my office followed with an agenda setting meeting at 8 for the May 13 Board meeting.

Next was a regular Board meeting followed by a lengthy executive meeting.

Steve then took a few minutes for lunch, which was followed at 2 pm by a Budget Committee meeting.

At 6 pm he joined the Board of Commissioners for a land-use public hearing in Saginaw north of Cottage Grove.

His last meeting as the sun was setting was a debrief in the lobby of Saginaw Christian Church.

When he and I said, “Goodnight,” to each other he looked a little tired, but at the same time envigorated.  It was a good beginning.

 

A year-round Farmers’ Market downtown Eugene: discussions are under way. by Pat Farr

Sunday, May 4th, 2014

 

Who wouldn’t want to see a year-round farmers’ market replace the current, highly popular but seasonal and Saturday only (plus an occasional Thursday) market that exists today?

If you've been to the weekend Farmers' Market in Eugene you know it can be crowded

If you’ve been to the weekend Farmers’ Market in Eugene you know it can be crowded

Here’s the deal:  there’s a bunch of talk going on about a land-swap deal between Lane County and the City of Eugene ( see video here). There are so many reasons that the deal won’t work.  Trading one half-city-block for another goes against all reasonable thinking.

Eugene and Lane County have started talking about trading the “Butterfly Parking Lot” for the eastern half of the block that formerly housed Eugene’s City Hall.  As soon as the talk began, people began amassing the many reasons that will not work.  Where will people park?  What about Eugene and Mary Skinner’s original (mid-1800′s) view of what downtown Eugene should look like?  What about the disparity in value of the two parcels?  The list goes on, and grows daily.

So why now do I find myself talking with the editorial boards of both The Register-Guard and Eugene Weekly about the subject?  And, why am I joined by Mayor Kitty Piercy and City Manager and assistant Jon Ruiz and Sarah Medary as well as interim County Administrator Alicia Hays in these discussions.

The answer:  because there are compelling reasons that now is the first time in history that the swap may make sense.  The discussion involves Lane County giving up the butterfly lot, which is currently slated for a replacement County Court House and allowing Eugene to enter an agreement with Lane County Farmers’ Market to position a year-round market in that space.  At the same time Eugene would give up half of its current City Hall block for a future Lane County Court House.

The idea could work beautifully.  And it could be a bust.  But the time is correct right now to look at all of the reasons pro- and con.

Whereas, if you've been to the Farmers' Market in Olympia you know it is a great place to hang out...

Whereas, if you’ve been to the year-round Farmers’ Market in Olympia you know it is a great place to buy an amazing variety of fresh food in a comfortable setting, meet friends, have lunch, entertain visitors or simply hang out…

There will be a joint public forum with the Lane County Board of Commissioners and the Eugene City Council on June 3 2014, 6 pm at Harris Hall to hear from you why or why not the two governments should pursue the concept.