Archive for the ‘Pat Farr’ Category

Initiative process in Lane County needs to be reviewed and fixed, but not today. by Pat Farr

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016
Board of Lane County Commissioners, Faye Stewart, Pat Farr, Sid Leiken, Jay Bozievich and Pete Sorenson

Board of Lane County Commissioners, Faye Stewart, Pat Farr, Sid Leiken, Jay Bozievich and Pete Sorenson

Today, August 31, 2016, Lane County faces the possibility of two lawsuits– one: if the commissioners change the current process for gathering signatures and filing for a voter initiative and, two:  if commissioners don’t change the current process for gathering signatures and filing for a voter initiative.  Hmm.  Looks like courts will likely be involved whatever action or inaction the commissioners engage in.

Clearly, with hours of public testimony and volumes of written testimony and drafts of law suites already heard and seen, Lane County Board of Commissioners (BCC) need to take time to take a close look at the current process that allows–in fact, encourages (as it should)–voters to gather signatures and file for an initiative.  But, with limited time actually spent in study of how the system works in the Lane County Charter and Code and how it fits into the system prescribed in the Oregon Constitution, now is not the time to make decisions on any changes.

Much work needs to be done, and much more public involvement in the process needs to be charted.  With three current initiatives in process any fast decisions on the part of the BCC would at least have the appearance of targeting specific initiatives and not addressing the system and process.

An article in today’s Register Guard (click here) partially covers the limited debate that BCC has had.

Three initiatives are currently in process.  Two lawsuits have been thrown into the melee.

Much more to come.

Homelessness can be reduced–and Lane County has a plan to do it. by Pat Farr

Sunday, August 28th, 2016

 

The Poverty and Homelessness Board (PHB) provides advice to the Board of County Commissioners and the intergovernmental Human Services Commission with the goal of reducing and preventing poverty and homelessness in Lane County.

Operation 365 was part of the Poverty and Homelessness Board's strategy to reduce homelessness in Lane County.

Operation 365 was part of the Poverty and Homelessness Board’s strategy to reduce homelessness in Lane County.

It assists the development of the delivery of housing and services to meet the specific needs of people who are impoverished or homeless improving their stability. It assists to maximize the allocation of local, state and federal funds made available for this purpose. It serves as the administrative board for the Lane County Community Action Agency and as the oversight board for the Lane County Continuum of Care.

On Thursday August 25, 2016, PHB Chair Pat Walsh, PHB member Mayor Kitty Piercy,  PHB Staff Steve Manella and Pearl Wolfe joined me in a discussion with Register Guard Editorial Board Jack Wilson and Ilene Aleshire about the makeup and strategies of the PHB.  They published an article in Sunday August 28, 2016 Register-Guard:  “Intractable, but not impossible” which gives the reader good insights about the PHB strategic plan to reduce homelessness in Lane County.

See the entire PHB Strategic Plan here.

Lane County Board of Commissioners agenda for August 2, 2016. by Pat Farr

Sunday, July 31st, 2016
Lane County Courthouse, home of Lane County Government, in 1908

Lane County Courthouse, home of Lane County Government, in 1908

To see the agenda for Lane County Board of Commissioners meeting August 2, 2016 click here.   This link includes links to all materials provided to the board for discussion.

To see all past agendas including links to all agenda material click here.

Messages or thoughts?  Contact me at pat.farr@co.lane.or.us

 

Open and accountable government: see what Lane County Commissioners are doing or have done. by Pat Farr

Sunday, July 3rd, 2016

 

No secrets:  Lane County Commission actions and meetings are available online.

Board of Lane County Commissioners, Faye Stewart, Pat Farr, Sid Leiken, Jay Bozievich and Pete Sorenson

Board of Lane County Commissioners, Faye Stewart, Pat Farr, Sid Leiken, Jay Bozievich and Pete Sorenson

To view a meeting in progress or to replay archived and recent webcasts of meetings, visit:http://apps.lanecounty.org/webcast/default.aspx

To see upcoming agendas as well as recent and archived agendas (including links to details of all agenda items) visit: http://www.lanecounty.org/Departments/BCC/Pages/AgendaHome.aspx

To see all passed orders, actions, ordinances and resolutions visit: http://www.lanecounty.org/Departments/BCC/Pages/2016Orders.aspx.

I welcome questions and comments via email:  pat.farr@co.lane.or.us ; US mail:  Lane County Commissioner Pat Farr, 125 E. 8th Avenue, Eugene OR 97401; or phone call:  541-682-4203.

 

Clackamas County looks to join Lane County in housing homeless veterans. by Pat Farr

Saturday, July 2nd, 2016

 

I spent the day this past Monday with Clackamas County Commissiones Martha Shrader and Paul Savas sharing the details of Lane County’s success with Operation 365 housing homeless veterans. I received this “Thank you” message (which I pass along to Kitty Piercy, Terry McDonald, Pearl Wolfe and all of the men and women here in Lane County who made placing 404 homeless veterans in housing possible, drawing national attention). Thanks Tena Olsen for delivering this:

Thank you from Clackamas

“I would like to express my appreciation to Commissioner Pat Farr! I want to thank you for reaching out to my Clackamas County Commissioners and discussing Veterans Homelessness. On Monday everyone was impressed with your vast knowledge of your Program that your County has done with Homelessness. I look forward to continuing this relationship and to future meetings with both you and Clackamas County. Again, I want to express my gratitude for your time that you spent with my County Commissioners and H3S on moving forward with a program here in Clackamas County.”

I am looking forward to helping Clackamas and other counties with their commitment and success housing homeless veterans.

Promises made, promises kept: Lane County tackles public safety needs. by Pat Farr

Thursday, May 5th, 2016

Lane County Commissioners will address serious public saferty needs when we pass the 2016-2017 budget this year.

Sherriff Byron Trapp outlines additional beds and mental health specialists for the Lane County Jail

Sherriff Byron Trapp outlines additional beds and mental health specialists for the Lane County Jail

After passing the Sheriff’s levy in 2013, voters were promised rigorous standards in keeping dangerous criminals off the streets. We have exceeded the promises made to the voters, while responsibly managing taxpayer resources. The levy was approved to fund a minimum of 255 local adult jail beds and additional services for youth offenders. Currently, there are 317 local jail beds – exceeding the minimum promised by 62 beds, with an additional five to open in 2016.

The additional local jail beds funded by the levy have reduced capacity-based releases (CBRs) by 65 percent and eliminated the pre-trial release of violent, Measure 11 offenders.

Lane County Commissioners will now consider reducing the existing levy rate and continuing to operate the jail more efficiently than anyone thought possible.

Reasons for the proposed levy rate reduction:

  • Lane County property tax revenue and state corrections funding have increased more than anticipated.
  • The County has provided $6.5 million more General Fund support for the jail than anticipated. This is due to unanticipated Secure Rural Schools payments for two additional years following the passage of the levy. (The Secure Rural Schools program has since ended.)
  • The hiring process at the jail to fill levy-funded positions has taken longer than anticipated, saving money.

Sheriff Byron Trapp shared that “our community put great faith in us when they approved the levy. We want to show them that we are being responsible with their money and continuing to provide the services we promised. Every dollar counts to our residents and families.”

Additional public safety needs will be addressed:

At the Budget Committee meeting on May 2, County administrator Steve Mokrohisky and Sheriff Byron Trapp outlined plans to address the burgeoning needs in behavioral health, including mental illness and substance abuse.

In addition to keeping more sentenced violent criminals behind bars, the Commission will consider using general fund dollars to add three full-time mental health specialists and an additional parole and probation officer to the jail staff to ensure that people suffering from behavioral health disorders will receive adequate treatment and complete their sentences while reducing their likelihood of returning to courts and jail.

Treating behavioral health needs, including substance abuse, will create a path to reducing crime and helping affected men and women enjoy more productive and satisfying lives.

 

Behavioral Health is a key focus of Lane County Government. by Pat Farr

Monday, April 4th, 2016
Private, public and non profit agencies combine resources to provide behavioral health care

Private, public and non profit agencies combine resources to provide behavioral health care

Behavioral health often begins with treatment for addictions. At the ribbon-cutting grand opening of the Serenity Lane Campus in Lane County, I am standing with Leann–who will be an intern at the new facility, helping men and women overcome addictions to alcohol and other drugs. Behavioral health and physical health are inseparable. Lane County Government operates six Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHC’s) that team with private and nonprofit centers to provide physical and behavioral health in the same facilities.

Lane County uses federal, state and local funding and other resources to provide mental health care

Lane County uses federal, state and local funding and other resources to provide mental health care

A safer Lane County. by Pat Farr

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016
Sheriff Byron Trapp is working with County Commissioners to make Lane County a safer place to live.

Sheriff Byron Trapp is working with County Commissioners to make Lane County a safer place to live.

Six years ago, in 2010, a prior board of Lane County Commissioners cut funding for rural Sheriff’s Deputy patrol to 16 hours per day–leaving Lane County residents and visitors without on-duty patrol response for eight hours every day.

During my first year of office the current Board of Commissioners restored funding for 24-hour patrol in the 2013-14 fiscal year and the Sheriff’s Office initiated recruitment, hiring and training immediately following the return of funding.

The process of hiring and training a new deputy takes more than 12 months, including written and physical testing, a rigorous interview, in-depth background check, medical and psychological examinations, 16 weeks of academy training and 15 weeks of field training.

Sheriff Byron Trapp explained, “Returning to 24-hour patrol means that we can respond more quickly to life-threatening, in-progress calls rather than calling in off-duty staff, which can create significant delays in service.”

Lane County has high standards for its deputies and the Sheriff has rebuilt a very talented and dedicated team focused on providing Lane County with quality public safety services.

Lane County fleet vehicles are continuing to become more efficient and clean. by Pat Farr

Tuesday, March 8th, 2016
Lane County is a World Class place to live and visit

Lane County is a World Class place to live and visit

As a County operation, Fleet is a significant fuel consumer and greenhouse gas emission producer. Over the past 15 years, Fleet has tested numerous methods for both reducing fuel consumption and reducing emissions.

1.  Renewable diesel pilot project. In conjunction with our partners at EWEB, the City of Eugene and City of Portland, Lane County started a renewable diesel pilot project in the Fall of 2015. This was the first wide-spread adoption of renewable diesel in Oregon. To date, this pilot program has been a complete success with no negative impacts noted due to use of renewable diesel and has resulted in a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of over 65% for diesel powered equipment. Using a regular gallon of diesel fuel (ultra-low Sulphur diesel) emits more than 30 pounds of greenhouse gases into the air. Using a gallon of renewable diesel emits fewer than 10. Renewable diesel is much easier on vehicle engines and diesel particulate filters and is expected to reduce maintenance costs and equipment down-time. Renewable diesel background. Renewable diesel is a broad class of fuels derived from biomass feed stocks including oils or animal fats that is processed in the same fashion as traditional petroleum based diesel. Renewable diesel offers several benefits over biodiesel including reduced waste and by-products, higher energy density and improved cold flow properties. Renewable diesel can be used exactly like petroleum diesel with no special logistics or blending limitations. Renewable diesel has major benefits over petroleum and biodiesel in areas of greenhouse gas emission and air pollution reductions as well as reduced equipment maintenance. Known obstacles to renewable diesel use. The technical results of renewable diesel use have been outstanding with no known negative impacts. The major obstacles in widespread adoption of the fuel are supply chain and economic issues. Currently, the renewable diesel used in Oregon is shipped from Southeast Asia to California (where the fuel is widely used) and then barged to Portland and trucked to end-users. As demand for BCC Report Climate Change Agenda Memo 03 08 16 (5).docxPage 5 of 6 renewable diesel increases this supply chain will be severely limiting. Current prices for renewable diesel are less than B20 biodiesel and if this pricing parity is maintained then renewable diesel will be economically feasible for wide-spread adoption.

2.  Hybrid vehicle technology. Beginning in the early 2000s, Lane County Fleet has been purchasing hybrid vehicles such as Toyota Prius and Ford C-Max. Initially these vehicles cost significantly more than standard vehicles and even when gas prices were high, economically they were more expensive for County operations than more traditional technology. More recently, the cost for these vehicles is more in line with standard equipment and they are equitable in terms of economic function while being far superior in terms of emissions and consumption.

3.  Charging Stations. Electric charging stations were installed at Fleet and the Customer Service Center and have been functioning routinely for the past three years. It is envisioned that additional charging stations be installed at the Public Service Building (PSB) as well, but there is currently no funding source or formal plan to implement this step.

4.  Other fuel alternatives. County forklifts are powered with propane, lowering emissions and running the equipment more economically. Alternative fuels continue to be explored by staff for opportunities to both reduce County impact on the environment and to reduce costs. CNG (Compressed Natural Gas) has been used in municipal fleets in many areas in the US and its use is growing; however, after significant research, it is not yet feasible for Lane County. The initial infrastructure capital expenditures for CNG would cost in excess of $2 million and there is no current funding for these capital costs. This would include siting and installation of tanks, manifolds, and distribution assemblies. Fleet maintenance facilities would need major retrofitting to accommodate this lighter than air fuel. For example, all electrical installations would need to be replaced with explosionproof or vapor-proof installations (every switch, outlet, light, and control panel). Tools used for maintenance would need to be replaced with tools less likely to cause sparks such as rubberized or brass. Additionally, Fleet would need to begin purchasing vehicles that can use CNG. An additional limiting factor is that County Waste Management and Road vehicles operate in a distributed environment across the County and there are no available distribution facilities in Florence or Oakridge, for example. Biodiesel and Ethanol. County fleet vehicles are all compatible with biodiesel (e.g. B20) and ultra-low sulphur diesel. Additionally, many older pieces of County equipment have been retro-fitted with particulate traps to reduce emissions. While the costs for the retrofits have often been subsidized through grants and special programs, ongoing maintenance costs have increased due to the traps. County gasoline powered vehicles all run on E10 ethanol blends (mandated by the State). While the County has some flex-fuel vehicles capable of running on higher percent blends of ethanol, availability of the fuel is extremely limited within the County. Additionally, the fuel itself is less efficient leading to less power and higher consumption rates.

5.  Facility Retrofits. Numerous facilities have gone through major remodels and less ambitious retrofits. For example, the Data Center in the PSB went through a major remodel. This was designed not only to improve the functionality of this major information infrastructure, but also to dramatically reduce energy consumption. Additionally, particularly in the PSB but also other County facilities, lighting controls and lamps have been retrofitted with more energy efficient technology. Staff believes that the County should experience a reduction in energy costs around $60,000 as compared to costs two years ago.

Lane County continues to be a leader in exploring reliable, sustainable and well-researched alternatives for combining efficient and effective government with responsible stewardship of its natural resources.

Lane County Performance Auditor will help create open, efficient government. by Pat Farr

Monday, February 15th, 2016
Lane County Performance Auditor Shanda Miller

Lane County Performance Auditor Shanda Miller

Lane County Government is becoming more efficient, open and effective.  After the newly-created position of Lane County Performance Auditor was filled by Shanda Miller a Temporary Internal Audit Committee was commissioned to help Ms. Miller create a work plan. The temporary committee also helped form a three-year  strategic plan and a prioritized list of opportunities for avoiding risk and making Lane County Government more efficient.

The temporary committee has completed its work ahead of schedule and Ms. Miller is moving forward with the next phase of the job:  implementation of the work plan and priorities.

I chaired the temporary committee. The other voting members were:  Commissioner Sid Leiken, Lane County Sheriff Byron Trapp, County Administrator Steve Mokrohisky and Budget Committee Chair Denis Hijmans.  A permanent committee will now be formed and will include two County Commissioners and three non-elected members with expertise in accounting, auditing and/or general operational management.

The Temporary Internal Audit Committee has been assigned to be the candidate review committee for the permanent Performance Audit Committee.  There is currently a meeting scheduled for March 14 2016 to review, deliberate and recommend candidates to the Board of County Commissioners.

The fiscal year 2015-16 Work Plan for the office of the Auditor will include:

1.   Implementation of a Fraud, Waste and Abuse Hotline

2.   Financial Indicators Audit:  Fieldwork is complete and the first draft of the audit report has been written.  We anticipate the draft report will be submitted to department management and staff by the end of February.  Staff and management will give feedback and comments on the draft report and the final audit report is scheduled to be finished by the end of March.

3.   Behavioral Health Audit:  Behavioral Health, including mental health and substance abuse issues, has been identified as the highest priority for full audit.  The audit will begin in early March.  Ms. Miller has two interns lined up to assist on this large project.

The work plan of the Performance Auditor is designed to give the public a clearer insight into how Lane County Government operates and to identify areas of risk and opportunity to create a more efficient and responsive Government.

The temporary committee worked for a year in conjunction with Lane County Counsel and Human Resources to create a work plan and strategic priorities that fit the charge of the office.  Reports will be regularly provided to outline the progress of the plan and priorities.

Click here to go to the Lane County Performance Auditor website