Corporate Minimum Tax Receives Strong Support

Tuesday, January 5th, 2016

Do you support or oppose a ballot measure increasing the corporate minimum tax when sales exceed $25 million; funds education, healthcare, senior services?

For complete poll results, click here.

Providing more affordable housing will boost local economy, save lives (not necessarily in that order). by Pat Farr

Friday, November 20th, 2015

Portland Business Alliance, Portland’s Chamber of Commerce, is a strong group of mainly Portland-area members.

This program at PBA drew what may be the largest audience the group has attracted

This program at PBA drew what may be the largest audience the group has attracted

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.

Portland's Bud Clark Commons provides day use, emergency shelter and a housing first model

Portland’s Bud Clark Commons provides day use, emergency shelter and a housing first model

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.

How Do You Rate Business Downtown?

Wednesday, October 7th, 2015

How would you rate the business environment in downtown Eugene?

For complete poll results, click here.

Eugene City Minimum Wage Increase Supported

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015

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

For complete poll results, click here.

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

Monday, August 10th, 2015

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

Because nothing right could be coming from this call.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How is Lane County doing its job?

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

How well is Lane County doing in the following areas:

– Fighting crime
– Maintaining roads
– Spending its budget
– Supporting economic growth
– Protecting the environment

For complete poll results, click here.

Eugene Supports $15 Minimum Wage

Wednesday, July 1st, 2015

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

For complete poll results, click here.

Eugene Mandatory Paid Sick Leave Proposal

Friday, June 20th, 2014

Do you support or oppose the City of Eugene requiring businesses providing services within the city limits to offer sick time to employees on an annual basis?

For complete poll results, click here.

Economic prosperity in Lane County is in “process.” by Pat Farr

Friday, November 15th, 2013


processing

Its all in process:  Jobs and prosperity are coming to Lane County.  And it’s all about processing!

Hard hit by a long and deep double recession, Lane County is still reeling from the loss of jobs, timber harvest and the accompanying lack of dollars to pay for needed services.  For the County, public safety in particular has been hard hit, shutting down sections of the jail and reducing rural Sheriff patrol to less than a skeleton of what is needed.

At the Lane County Economic Prosperity Summit meeting, assembled by the Eugene Chamber of Commerce and Lane County’s Economic Development team on November 14, participants heard from Oregon Community Foundation President and CEO Max Williams and three panels of employers that things are looking brighter.  That we can expect more job growth and prosperity if we read the signs and work together to foster such.

Max Williams, my colleague from the Oregon Legislature (and former Oregon Department of Corrections chief) spoke about investments by his foundation in entrepreneurial companies throughout Oregon.  Investments that are leveraging private support from Ontario to Tillamook and from Gold Beach to Pendleton, creating new jobs in new previously untapped technologies and ventures.

The three panels represented large and growing sections of our economy in Lane County:

1.  TECHNOLOGY (processing information);

2.  MANUFACTURING (processing raw goods into finished products), and,

3.  FOOD PRODUCTION (processing what we grow into high-quality finished products).

All three areas have tremendous potential for putting people in our county back to work.  Through these processing ventures, we can also expect an influx of new talent bringing new dollars and new ideas to further bolster our diversity.

Williams talked about our long dependence on our chief natural resource, forests and timber lands, and how its resurgence can be augmented by increased attention to our other natural resources:  our wealth of energetic and enthused people and our wide-spread agricultural land.  While we might never see the complete return of the mills and processing plants that once dotted our landscape, we can expect Oregonians to thrive in new and exciting areas.

The three groups of panelists spoke specifically about the possibility of further growth not only of their companies, but of others that will be attracted by the critical mass of successful enterprises that is being accumulated here in Lane County.

Three major threads wove through the panels:

1.  “Branding” our county and its cities in a way that takes advantage of the livability and opportunities that abound here,

2.  Local governments allowing companies to grow by providing land, transportation infrastructure and eliminating burdening bureaucracy that inhibits job creation, and,

3.  Maintaining and enhancing our excellent kindergarten through graduation (k-12) and higher education opportunities.

Look for details of the panel discussions in subsequent Forum Lane posts.

Where is Eugene’s Economy Heading?

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013

In general, do you feel Eugene’s economy is heading in the right direction or do you think things have gotten off on the wrong track?

For complete poll results, click here.