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.
Archive for the ‘Pat Farr’ Category
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.
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 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.
THE SHERIFF’S LEVY PASSED IN 2013 IS MAKING LANE COUNTY A SAFER PLACE TO LIVE (And a much worse place to commit a crime)
When Lane County Commissioners asked for passage of ballot measure 20-213, a levy to assure increased public safety in Lane County by opening more jail beds, 255 beds were promised.
20 more jail beds were reopened Saturday February 13, 2016, bringing the number of beds available for local offenders to the highest number in 13 years, 317. Again, a very big thank you to all of you involved in making this happen and accommodating the media this week to help share this important news with the community.
On February 13, a headline in the Register-Guard accurately stated: “Lane County audit verifies spending of jail money “ and continued, stating “The audit, conducted by Moss Adams, a Eugene accounting firm, determined that the county kept at least 255 local adult beds and at least 16 youth detention and drug and alcohol treatment beds open, as promised to voters. The audit covers the fiscal year that ran from July 1, 2014, to June 30, 2015.”
For a full copy of the Moss Adams audit report, including the Board of Commissioners agenda item summary from January 26, 2015 click: Moss Adams Report
The Lane County Board of Commissioners agenda for this past calendar year centered on the priorities of its 2014-17 Strategic Plan.
The three strategic priorites of the plan are:
1. A Safe, Healthy County
2. Vibrant Communities
Throughout 2015 the Strategic Plan moved forward on a broad range of fronts. While working closely with the full board and administration I was able to focus on a number of specifics that are of particular importance to me in the areas of accountable government, public safety and economic vitality.
Performance Auditor: I chaired the committee that developed a work plan and Lane Manual Office of Performance Auditor charter.
Community Health Improvement Plan (CHIP): Lane County Commissioners also serve as the Board of Health for Lane County.
Behavioral Health: identified as the greatest risk to the county, a new focus on solutions for behavioral health issues that includes housing, case work and wet beds has gained momentum.
Year-round Lane County Farmers’ Market: the goal of establishing a year-round farmers’ market in downtown Eugene is movin closer to reality.
Poverty and Homelessness Board: the enormous and unprecedented work of the the PHB has led to great strides in addressing homelessness, poverty, mental health issues and solutions.
Operation 365, housing homeless veterans: I chaired the PHB’s Veterans’ Housing Subcommittee which teamed with the Mayor’s Challenge to place 365 homeless veterans and their families into housing.
Jail Levy audit: an independent external audit found that the county is using the dollars from the Sheriff’s levy as promised and is exceeding stated objectives.
Equity and Human Rights Task Force: a task force has started work to identify ways and means to ensure equity and diversity in Lane County public practices.
Much progress has been reported and measured in each of these areas. I will provide reports detailing specific accomplishments made by Lane County staff.
Top 5 Holiday Scams to be aware of…
Black Friday/Cyber Monday Specials
This time of year, online scams use a variety of lures to get unsuspecting buyers to click on links or open attachments. Bad guys build complete copies of well-known sites, send emails promoting great deals, sell products and take credit card information – but never deliver the goods. Sites that seem to have incredible discounts should be a red flag. Remember that when a “special offer” is too good to be true, it usually is. For instance, never click on links in emails or popups with very deep discount offers for watches, phones or tablets. Go to the website yourself through your browser and check if that offer is legit.
Complimentary Vouchers or Gift Cards
A popular holiday scam is big discounts on gift cards. Don’t fall for offers from retailers or social media posts that offer phony vouchers or (Starbucks) gift cards paired with special promotions or contests. Some posts or emails even appear to be shared by a friend (who may have been hacked). Develop a healthy dose of skepticism and “Think Before You Click” on offers or attachments with any gift cards or vouchers!
Bogus Shipping Notices From UPS and FedEx
You are going to see emails supposedly from UPS and FedEx in your inbox that claim your package has a problem and/or could not be delivered. Many of these are phishing attacks that try to make you click on a link or open an attachment. However, what happens when you do that is that your computer gets infected with a virus or even ransomware which holds all your files hostage until you pay 500 dollars in ransom.
Holiday Refund Scams
These emails seem to come from retail chains or e-commerce companies such as Amazon or eBay claiming there’s a “wrong transaction” and prompt you to click the refund link. However, when you do that and are asked to fill out a form, the personal information you give out will be sold to cyber criminals who use it against you. Oh, and never, never, never pay online with a debit card, only use credit cards. Why? if the debit card gets compromised, the bad guys can empty your bank account quickly.
Phishing on the Dark Side
A new phishing email has begun circulating that tricks people into thinking they could win movie tickets for the highly-anticipated film, “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” due out on Dec. 18. However, the email is a phishing attack. Leading up to the film’s release, and shortly after, you need to watch out for this social engineering attack and not fall for the scam. Stay safe online!
BONUS TIP: Never use an insecure public Wi-Fi to shop with your credit card!
Happy holidays to you and your family!
(Thanks to the Lane County Government Security Advisor for this message) (more…)
Providing more affordable housing will boost local economy, save lives (not necessarily in that order). by Pat FarrFriday, November 20th, 2015
Portland Business Alliance, Portland’s Chamber of Commerce, is a strong group of mainly Portland-area members.
PBA is the Portland’s Chamber of Commerce (see link here) and its mission is clearly stated:
Advocating for commerce, building community and supporting regional prosperity.
When adding affordable housing to the most difficult people to house was the topic of their monthly breakfast at the Sentinel Hotel in downtown Portland they had to move from their normal meeting room into the grand ballroom of the hotel. Because (by my count) more than 800 men and women, before going to work that morning, wanted to hear more.
I joined Matt Roberts at the University of Oregon’s table along with Lane County Housing and Community Services Agency (HACSA) director Jacob Fox, Dave Hauser of Eugene Area Chamber of Commerce and Jim Jacks of Oregon Solutions to hear Lloyd Pendelton tell how Utah started and operated its “Housing First” program.
Utah’s program began by placing homeless people who were frequent users of hospital emergency rooms and the public safety system into stable housing. This included men and women who were suffering from alcohol and other drug addictions. And the results were immediate and significant.
The people who were suddenly housed suddenly quit causing police calls. Then, by being in a stable living environment they began healing. Kicking their addictions that often landed them in jail or the ER.
Just as suddenly the businesses located in the areas where the homeless men and women had been crashing experienced more business.
Men and women’s lives were being saved. Businesses were growing and thriving. People were feeling safer, both the ones who were newly housed and the families who wanted to go down town. Everybody was winning. (see more on Utah’s Housing First program here)
Later in the day I visited Bud Clark Commons, which is the location of a housing first model in Portland and also serves as an emergency shelter and day use center for homeless people.
Utah’s model has elements that may not be replicable in Lane County, as does Bud Clark Commons. But some of the elements of both can serve Lane County as ways to save lives, make our community safer and boost the local economy.
Lane County, working with State Government and its cities including Eugene, Springfield, Cottage Grove etc. can employ a pilot project, possibly with as few as 12-20 living units, to demonstrate the effectiveness of providing housing to the men and women who have historically been the most difficult to help. Men and women whose lives can be saved.
When I stood on Jim Evonuk’s farm on a warm Friday evening in a place where you would normally hear the frogs croaking and the water of the Willamette River rippling I knew that this was not the way this county should be governed. Jim stood within a foot of where I was standing, his mouth an inch from my ear, yelling–and I couldn’t understand a word he was saying. I went back to my car, nearby, and Debi Farr from inside the Jeep said, “Let’s get out of here…” I concurred, realizing that Mr. Evonuk had to stay behind.
Mr. Evonuk’s family farm is a few hundred feet away from the main sound stage that was set up in Buford Park for the “Kaleidoscope Music Festival” (see video here) on the opposite bank of the Willamette River. His family’s peace and quiet was destroyed completely over a three-day weekend during which mind-numbing techno music blared night and day.
The Large Events Task Force was formed within two weeks. When Steve Mokrohisky announced the makeup of the task force I was concerned that the membership, which had five of 14 members who were close neighbors of Buford Park, would be addressing a single park and responding to a single issue. But I was soon satisfied that the group would address issues surrounding all 70 Lane County Parks which encompass 4300 acres of a county the size of Connecticut and stretches from the Pacific Ocean surf to the top of the high peaks of the Cascade Mountains.
At the Lane County Commissioners meeting on November 10, 2015, Mary Moore, a member of the task force who lives near Buford Park, testified to a particular point that I was personally quite concerned about when the composition of the task force was announced.
She said, “I felt some of the ‘not in my back yard’ sentiment at times…”´ but ultimately “not in my back yard” was not a factor in the decision making of the task force. The recommendations made by the committee reflect the diversity and variety of Lane County’s broad offering of experiences and enjoyment available in our parks.
This report is the culmination of a year-long process that is nothing short of monumental. It is a model of public involvement that can serve as a template for how difficult and contentious circumstances and events can be addressed in a manner that delivers a strong and lasting product. A product that is unilaterally heralded and well-received.
While there is much detail and content in this report, I’m going to mention just a single passage that fully sums up the work of the Large Events Task Force and the product it has presented us with:
“It became clear during the Task Force’s deliberations that the mission of the Lane County Parks is challenging to accomplish…It also became clear from the public input opportunities provided by the Task Force that people are passionate about Lane County Parks—but often for different reasons. Some value natural and spiritual amenities that open space provides, while others enjoyu the chance to simply experience the outdoors while exercising, camping, boating, fishing or attending a festival or concert…”
The Task Force presented the Board with 34 recommendations for the implementation of its work. (Item 7C “view here)
Gratitude and thanks to the Large Events Task Force: John Hellmer, chair, Jeff Gaulton, Alan Murphy, Anna Lawrence, Brad van Appel, Bruce Newhouse, Dale Stoneburg, Don Hansen, Holly Stanley, Janis Ross, Larry Dunlap, Leslie Scott, Mary Moore, Randy Hledik, Mike Russel (staff support).
In February 2014 I carried a resolution on gun violence to the National Association of Counties Health Steering Committee. The resolution focused on supporting the continuous and increased use of federal funds to improve early intervention community-based mental health programs, in coordination with local human service and law enforcement, as part of a comprehensive response to gun violence.
A growing number of communities have been forced to deal with the convergence of gun violence and mental health issues. A comprehensive response to gun violence must focus on funding for community-based mental health programs in addition to other types of regulations being discussed. Mental health services are critical to overall population health. Providing treatment in a community-based setting allows people the opportunity to stay connected with family, to learn the skills needed to be more independent, to be engaged in their community and when possible to enter the general work force.
As with most federal efforts, the effort to stream more funds to addressing gun violence through behavioral health care is taking time.
I will carry the resolution forward in 2016, anticipating broad support from other members of the National Health Steering Committee and making it a part of the National Association of Counties federal priority list.
The potential fiscal impact to counties across the nation will be significant as community-based mental health programs are typically underfunded as a whole. The recent rise in gun and ammunition sales suggests that funding for wildlife conservation under the Pittman-Robertson Act will not experience a decrease, but will be able to maintain its funding at a rate similar to that of previous years.
Go here to see Lane Counties federal and state priorities for 2016.