Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Lane Metro Partnership?
For complete poll results, click here.
Do you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of Lane Metro Partnership?
For complete poll results, click here.
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.
From: SORENSON Pete
Sent: Sunday, November 03, 2013 1:02 PM
To: *LC Board of County Commissioners
Cc: HAYS Alicia A
Subject: Request for Work Sessions
November 3, 2013
Commissioner Sid leiken
Chair, Lane County Board of Commissioners
Dear Chair Leiken,
The events of past two and one half years have been very unproductive because of the virtual refusal of the Board of Commissioners to oversee the operation of the county government. It is clear that the Board overdelegated to the former county administrator. Worse yet, the Board has time after time refused reasonable requests by me to improve this situation.
Here are but a few examples and requests:
1) I have expressed concern about the appointment of the county administrator without a proper vetting process. The board went ahead on a 3-2 vote to hire Ms. Richardson. Three of the board’s five members were the commissioners who took this unpreceded action. I hope that there will be ample opportunity in the near future for the board to discuss the process and progress of hiring a new administrator. I am hopeful, following my initial discussion with the recruiter, that we are off to a good start, but I do want to be reassured in a work session that the process will remain clean, open and transparent — a clear departure from what happened last time.
2) I have expressed concern about the failure of the Board to appoint an independent performance auditor. The Board has refused to fill this important position. Now that the county will be receiving some unanticipated federal revenue, the board should devote some of this additional resource to staffing an independent performance auditor. The board should request that our budget staff prepare the necessary amendment to our budget and direct human resources to start a search for an independent performance auditor. We need a work session to clearly direct this priority.
3) Concerning the hiring of a new county administrator, I have a big problem with the political nature of our former administrator and how we must make it clear that this position should have nothing whatsoever to do with politics. I know that one of Ms. Richardson’s first public talk after being appointed county administrator was to speak to the Lane County Chapter of Americans for Prosperity. This organization is widely regarded as a right wing organization. This apparently was at the request of a commissioner. On top of these political activities, it now appears — from what I see in recent news reports — that her activities involved traveling to conferences at public expense but for private purposes and directing staff to arrange travel for at least one person not legitimately in county business. I think the county adminstrator should be present when the Board meets and be willing to answer questions put to him or her by commissioners.
4) I am a big supporter of the county’s deferred compensation program. I am appalled that the Board would allow the county administrator to use this committee in ways that demean this organization. We need a work session to inquire about the circumstances of this matter and how it will be changed to make it right.
I ask you to place on our agenda an opportunity to get to the bottom of these matters, so that the public can be assured that changes are taking place. Without an acknowledgment of the failure of this board’s mistakes, it’s doubtful that the Board will be able to fix these mistakes.
Very truly yours,
Lane County Commissioner
South Eugene District
c: Ms. Hays, acting Lane County Administrator
In the four numbered paragraphs above, Commissioner Sorenson makes some distinct points. I will respond to each of these numbered paragraphs in a subsequent post.
In an article to be published at midnight on November 2, 2013 (an hour after this post) the Eugene Register Guard (RG) will state that Lane County Commissioner Pete Sorenson is saying that the county board failed to adequately oversee an internal county committee concerned with county employees’ deferred compensation. (the article is available on the RG website at the time of this writing, and includes a publication time of 12:00 A.M., NOV 2.)
Sorenson sent a late email to the RG writer in response to an article published on November 1 that former county administrator Liane Richardson had an affair with a Eugene police officer. He had not responded to a request for comments for the article.
Once again the Commissioner is faulting the county and certain commissioners seemingly without any substance to the allegations.
He says, “The board’s leadership…failed in its oversight responsibility in this instance.”
He did not have suggestions as to how the board leadership could have, or how he would have, done anything differently: “Sorenson did not respond to a follow-up email Friday asking what the board could have done differently in its oversight.” (from article).
In fact the committee in question is an administration-appointed committee which is formed and acts separately from the board. Internal work groups of this type are the purview of administration, not the Board of County Commissioner. While all comings and goings in county government are within the Board’s scope of responsibility, it is not expected that such work groups seek input from the Board. I am curious to hear from Commissioner Sorenson when and how he has had continuous input on such committees in the past, as he states he has: “in prior years, the county administrator would inform the board of issues pending before the committee.” One may suppose, by this statement, that he has had reports and provided input on all internal work groups or committees.
Commissioner Sorenson spends very little time in his office, so my question to him is, “At what point would you have stepped in and suggested to the Board that something was amiss?” And a follow up: ”Why didn’t you?”
Other than the Long Tom Watershed Council, Sorenson does not participate in any of the committees that actually involve County Commissioners, so it is unfathomable how he can suggest he keep an eye on internal committees that have zero board involvement.
It is my hope that Commissioner Sorenson will, at some point, respond to my requests to work together collaboratively. With his experience he has much to offer, but unfortunately his energy is spent almost entirely finding ways to gainsay board action.
If any of the administrator-appointed committees or work groups need greater oversight from the Board, the Board should consider changing the makeup of the committee to include timely reporting in a public meeting. In the case of committees that help establish administrative rules for financial issues, the Board’s Finance and Audit Committee meets regularly to review such issues as real estate transactions, fee changes and, now, levee spending. A short report on a regular basis would be easy to manage, with the caveat that policy recommendations that ultimately might govern the functioning of such committees must be deliberated in detail before the administrator is instructed to alter the makeup or charge of the committee.
Additionally, if it is deemed necessary to provide policy input for a broader range of administrative work groups, a subcommittee of the Board should be formed to make recommendations to the Board as a whole regarding changes.
Such Board committees are made up of two Commissioners and can include other county elected officials, such as the County Assessor, the Sheriff or the District Attorney.
I would welcome an appointment to such a subcommittee of the Board, and I would suggest that Commissioner Sorenson join me as the other Board member on the committee.
Lane County, ORE — The rate of certain STDs and STIs, Pertussis, Influenza and several other communicable diseases are on the rise in Lane County. This fact, along with the threat of new “drug-resistant” strains, is cause for concern among many public health authorities. Fortunately, awareness, a high immunization rate and proper preventative care can curtail this trend.
“We have all the preventative tools to keep our community safe,” says Lane County Public Health Officer, Dr. Patrick Luedtke, “now it’s a matter of helping our community understand the importance of using those tools.”
In order to kick-off this important effort, Lane County Health & Human Services, in collaboration with Trillium Community Health Plan, University of Oregon and Lane Community College, is hosting a one day FREE FLU SHOT CLINIC open to any and all community members on a walk-in basis as well as a town hall about communicable diseases.
“While immunization clinics and community discussions are only a piece of the solution, we must act to prevent more severe consequences,” added Luedtke.
Luedtke will be joined by a panel of communicable disease experts to discuss the rising rate of communicable disease infections in Lane County, outline the current situation and causation and discuss strategies to keep our community safe from the next big outbreak. Among these experts are Dr. Anna Stern, Medical Director for Trillium Community Health Plan, James Mough, University of Oregon Labs Manager, Dr. Lisandra Guzman, Community Health Centers of Lane County and Renee Yandel, Program Director for HIV Alliance. The town hall will take place Wednesday, October 30th, from 6-7 p.m. on the University of Oregon campus in Willamette Hall, room 100. (See map here).
The free flu clinic will take place the same day (Wednesday, October 30th) at Lane Community College’s downtown campus (101 West 10th Ave) on the first floor in the Center for Media and Learning (rooms 112-114) from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
For more information, please contact Lane County Health & Human Services at: 541-682-4041
Almost since time immemorial the Lane County Board of Commissioners has viewed money passed down from obligations regarding timber harvest on federally-owned lands as a “windfall.” And time after time the money has been spent, in drunken-sailor fashion, as it came in. Little regard has been paid (until recently) to putting some of the money aside to cover future budget shortfalls.
Historically, large sums of money generated from natural resource use (timber harvest) on Oregon and California Railroad lands (O&C lands), which are not subject to property taxes the way land that you and I own is, was given to Oregon counties to offset the revenue loss.
The lands were originally granted to the Oregon and California Railroad Company by the federal government in the 1860′s to encourage development in western Oregon.
When the railroad failed to meet its obligations to sell the land to settlers, the government took back the land in 1916. The 1937 legislation was passed by Congress to compensate counties for being deprived of property tax revenues and a privately-owned land base for economic development.
The O&C Act directs that 75 percent of receipts from the sale of timber be distributed to the 18 O&C counties. Over the years, the counties voluntarily returned one-third of their entitlement to be plowed back into the management of the lands. These plow-back funds, with a present value exceeding $2.0 billion, have helped pay for reforestation, road construction and maintenance, campgrounds, recreational facilities and other improvements on the land.
We all know that lawsuits have diminished harvest on these lands to almost zero. Last time I checked 75% of zero is…zero.
So the federal government has been giving O & C counties a ever-decreasing handout. Begging, cap in hand, has worked with diminishing returns.
In 2012 the Board of Commissioner, by majority, opted to consider the handouts to be uncertain, and passed a budget with no federal money from the handouts included. When money was given, to the tune of a little less than $10 million, it was not appropriated until the 2013-14 budget.
This year the budget was once again passed without the uncertain money as a part of it. The federal government has opted again to dole out a relatively small amount to ease its guilt over not covering its share of Lane County’s revenue in ways they 1937 legislature intended. (Of course, based on the act its self, since we are not harvesting timber, no money is actually owed).
We will, once again, not spend the money as it comes in, but rather use it to help balance next year’s budget.
Do you approve or disapprove of how Lane County government is handling homeless protesters?
For complete poll results, click here.
Topics will include “where and when is sleep a legal right?”; efforts to address homelessness in Eugene and Lane County; local agencies working on homeless and other poverty issues…it will be a continuation of the City Club of Eugene program aired by KLCC on Monday October 14.
When: Tuesday, October 22nd
Where: River Ridge Golf Course
3800 North Delta Highway, Eugene
Time: 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.
Invited Guest panelists include Alley Valkyrie, activist and community organizer and Professor Ofer Raban (or substitute), University of Oregon School of Law
To view the newsletter in its entirety, click here.
That was the question City Club of Eugene asked me to debate on Friday October 12. Seated on a panel of three, along with activist and community organizer Alley Valkyrie and U of O Law School Professor Ofer Raban, I presented my views and responded to questions from the City Club audience for about an hour and a half. I stayed after the panel discussion for another 30 minutes or so to answer questions in more detail. The entire discussion will be broadcast Monday October 14 at 6:30 pm (89.7 FM). You can listen to it now on KLCC’s website, www.klcc.org.
(shown above, Professor Ofer Raban; Alley Valkyrie and me at City Club panel discussion October 11, 2013)
City club host Mary Leighton introduced the panel by saying, “Nobody will suggest that the problem of homelessness will be solved…”
Ms. Valkyrie spoke first, delivering an old message with her entertaining theatrical style. You will hear her speaking passionately about homelessness and about her views of the current landscape and a little about the long history of homelessness in Eugene.
Professor Raban was eloquent, calm and authoritative in his well-studied responses to questions surrounding the US, Oregon and international constitutions. He holds advanced degrees from Harvard and Oxford Universities. In his introductory remarks he stated that the Federal Constitution or the State Constitution “recognize no obligation on the part of government, be it the state or the city, to provide for shelter for the homeless, or even to designate land specifically set aside for the homeless.”
In my initial statement I responded by reminding the audience that the city and county have a long history of providing for service to homeless and other at-risk families and individuals as outlined in a six-page document covering the details. I mentioned the work of the Council Committee on Homelessness and Youth (CCHY) that I chaired for four years and I discussed ongoing efforts by government and nonprofit organizations. I have written over three dozen articles about homelessness on Forum Lane (click here).
I pointed out that the audience included providers I have worked with for years, including Susan Ban from Lane ShelterCare, Beverlee Hughes from FOOD for Lane County, Terry McDonald from St. Vincent DePaul, Peggy Whalen from WomenSpace, Steve Manella from the Human Service Commission and Richie Weinman, City of Eugene staffer for the CCHY (and long-time manager of Eugene’s Housing Program).
In subsequent posts I will cover details of the questions and responses.
In the short time we had to hold the discussion it was impossible to even scratch the surface of the long-term work, that is ongoing, on providing shelter for children and women and men who are homeless or at risk of being so. Every person who is homeless has his or her own story regarding the conditions that brought them to homelessness. I will discuss the conditions and the ongoing and upcoming ways of addressing them.
I will be conducting a Town Hall on October 22, at a place to be announced, to dig deeper into the discussion. I have invited Professor Raban and Ms. Valkyrie to join me.