Meet the Lane County Performance Auditor. by Pat Farr

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2015

Meet Shanda Miller, the new Lane County Performance Auditor (click here)–and visit Bethel’s brand new Malabon Elementary School (click here) on Wednesday September 23 at 6 pm.

Lane County Performance Auditor Shanda Miller

Lane County Performance Auditor Shanda Miller (view website here)

After reviewing 28 departments and divisions in Lane County Government, the new auditor has determined that issues and funding surrounding Behavioral Health provide the greatest risk to the ongoing operation of the county.

Shanda Miller will join me at Malabon Elementary School (click here) library, Wednesday September 23, 6-7 pm.  You will have a chance to hear how the new office is progressing and what can be expected for the future.

Lane County’s recently appointed performance auditor wants to ensure the public understands what her office does and how its actions will affect day-to-day operations of county government and why this important to Lane County citizens.

County Performance Auditor Shanda Miller and Lane County commissioners will host a “Meet the Auditor” information session in each of the five districts.

Miller will share information with the public on how and why her office conducts performance audits and how audit results will affect residents and influence County business.


Wednesday, September 23, 6:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m.

Malabon Elementary School, 1380 Taney Street, Eugene – Library

Housing homeless veterans local efforts achieving results. by Pat Farr

Sunday, September 6th, 2015


A powerful coordinated effort between public, private and non-profit organizations is on target for achieving our goal of housing 365 homeless veterans by the end of this year.

Mayor Kitty Piercy and I are listening to Anne Williams from St. Vincent dePaul at our kickoff event last year for Operation 365...housing homeless veterans

Mayor Kitty Piercy and I are listening to Anne Williams from St. Vincent dePaul at our kickoff event last November for Operation 365…housing homeless veterans

We are making use of funding from all three sources and we are demonstrating that, “Housing homeless veterans has benefits as well as costs.  Some benefits are economic, because veterans are less likely to end up in jails, hospital emergency rooms or morgues, and stand a better chance of being productive citizens.

“Other benefits are less langible, such as the reduction in the sense of shame Americans should feel about every homeless veteran who wants help but can’t get it.”  Editorial, Register-Guard September 5, 2015 (full text here).

In addition to Kitty Piercy and my efforts toward first lady Michelle Obama’s Mayor’s Challenge mentioned in the editorial, a debt of gratitude is owed to Lane County’s Poverty and Homelessness Board Veterans’ Housing Subcommittee comprised of PHB chair Pat Walsh, Pearl Wolfe, Lane County; Anne Williams, St. Vincent dePaul; Cindy Leming, Veterans Administration; Tod Schneider, city of Eugene; Tim Engle, Supportive Services for Veterans’ Families; Jacob Fox, Lane County Housing and Community Services Agency (HACSA); Sponsors as well as Piercy, me and others.

Thanks additionally to Jon Barofski of LaPerla Restaurant for his gifts of restaurant certificates to the many landlords who have helped find housing solutions where they did not exist before.

As we progress in our work housing homeless veterans, similar efforts will follow to assist other segments of the homeless population, including single mothers, teenagers and other groups deserving high-priority attention.



Board of County Commissioners Urges Residents to Comply with Fire Precautions. by Pat Farr

Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

The Lane County Board of Commissioners has taken action on a unanimous vote to strongly urge all Lane County residents to comply with the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) Industrial Fire Precautions (IFP) Level 4. The same precautions have been adopted by fire districts across Lane County.

Lane County logo blue

The IFP Level 4 restrictions are:

  1.   1.  No open flames are allowed out of doors, including no campfires, warming fires, cooking fires, or ceremonial fires.   Fires are prohibited at all campgrounds and other sites with developed fire pits.  Gas powered barbeques are allowed, but are restricted to use on hard, non-flammable surfaces such as patios and driveways, or green irrigated lawns.
  2.   2.  No power equipment such as mowers, chain saws, stump grinders, etc. may be operated on or near dry grass, brush, or trees at any time, EXCEPT that mowing of green, irrigated lawns is allowed.
  3.   3.  No smoking outside of buildings or vehicles in any area with dry grass, brush, or trees.
  4.   4.  No operation of welding or metal cutting equipment out of doors in any area with dry grass, brush, or trees.
  5.   5.  All logging operations, including power saws, cable yarders, tractor/skidder, feller-buncher, forwarder, or shovel logging operations are prohibited.
  6.   6.  All construction operations involving dozers or graders are restricted to streets or roads, developed building sites, or other areas of non-flammable surfaces.
  7.   7.  Any other spark-emitting operation not specifically mentioned is prohibited out of doors.

The current Oregon Department of Forestry updated precautions for districts around Oregon can be found online here

“We want to make sure everyone throughout Lane County is aware of the emergency orders being issued by our local fire chiefs. We need to do everything we can to prevent fire starts and I would hope that all citizens will support and comply with the IFP Level 4 restrictions,” said Linda Cook, Lane County Emergency Management Program Manager.

These restrictions will continue until the current high temperature and low humidity weather conditions end, and the ODF and other fire districts return to IFP Level 3.

County Performance Auditor’s strategic plan and work plan are ready for approval. by Pat Farr

Sunday, August 16th, 2015


Lane County Commissioners’ Performance Auditor, Shanda Miller, has spared no moments in her first six months on the job as the county’s first ever Performance Auditor.

Lane County Performance Auditory's (draft) strategic plan states the County Performance Auditor’s mission is to improve the performance, accountability, and transparency of Lane County government.

Lane County Performance Auditor’s (draft) strategic plan states: the County Performance Auditor’s mission is to improve the performance, accountability, and transparency of Lane County government.

Different to positions that have been staffed in the past her work will be focused on audit of systems and departments to determine how policy and procedure analysis can identify areas of opportunity for the county to operate ever more efficiently and effectively.  Significantly, the Performance Auditor’s work will  highlight the areas that the county is currently operating at a high level.  She is one of only three county employees who report to the Board of Commissioners directly, joining Administrator Steve Mokrohisky and County Counsel Steve Dingle.  ( I asked Shanda if she would change her name to “Steve” to help avoid confusion, but she has adamantly refused to do so).

Ms. Miller has spent much of her initial time working with county staff to review areas of the county’s operation that potentially hold the highest risk and has given the Temporary (Internal) Audit Committee a ranked list.

Along with preparation of the risk assessment the committee has also received and reviewed a draft strategic plan for the Office of the Performance Auditor and a work plan for the fiscal 2015/16 year.

The one-page strategic plan for the County Performance Auditor is aligned with Lane County’s 2014-2017 Strategic Plan and includes the county vision and values. This strategic plan states the County Performance Auditor’s mission is to improve the performance, accountability, and transparency of Lane County government.

Strategic plan, the three strategic areas of focus are:

1) Improve service and performance;

2) Responsible management; and

3) Public agent.

The County Performance Auditor’s Vision is to provide relevant timely analysis and information so the county can continuously improve its services and build public trust. The values specific to the County Performance Auditor are independence, objectivity, and credibility.

 FY 15-16 Work Plan:

Using the results of the risk assessment, the County Performance Auditor identified two audit topics to include in the draft proposed fiscal year 2015-2016 work plan. Two additional administrative projects related to forming the Performance Audit function were included in the draft proposed work plan. At the July 28, 2015 meeting of the Temporary Internal Audit Committee, a motion was discussed and approved to recommend to the Board of County Commissioners approval of the County Performance Auditor’s proposed fiscal year 2015-2016 work plan:

Audit Projects

1. Financial Indicators A number of local government auditors across the U.S. are conducting performance audits to assess and report on the financial health of their organizations using indicators and trends. Similarly, this performance audit will:  Evaluate retrospective and prospective financial indicators and trends using data from the audited Comprehensive Annual Financial Report and other sources  Highlight indicators of good fiscal management  Identify both favorable and unfavorable trends, as well as emerging financial threats and opportunities

2. Behavioral Health This performance audit will assess behavioral health services system-wide, and will include a review of:  Business and funding models  Service delivery processes  Coordination and private/public partnerships  The intersection between behavioral health and public safety

Administrative Projects

3. Fraud, Waste, and Abuse Hotline Implementation  Policies & Procedures  Online employee training  Marketing plan  Implement electronic case management system

4. County Performance Auditor Operating Structure Implementation  Policies & Procedures  Templates  Audit Tools  Implement electronic work paper system

County Commissioners will discussed and approved the two plans at its regular board meeting on August 18 2015, (agenda 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.

Lane County Commissioners seeking applicants for the Public Health Advisory Committee. by Pat Farr

Monday, August 3rd, 2015


Public Service Building

The Lane County Board of Commissioners is seeking applications from citizens interested in serving on the LANE COUNTY PUBLIC HEALTH ADVISORY COMMITTEE (PHAC).

This important committee makes recommendations to the Health Administrator and advises the Board of Health and the Board of Commissioners on matters of public health, planning, policy development, control measures, funding, public education, and advocacy; acts in a community liaison capacity to provide a link between the community and the Health Division.  Follow this link to see the PHAC website.

PUBLIC HEALTH ADVISORY COMMITTEE:  Makes recommendations to the Public Health Administrator and advises the Board of Health and the Board of Commissioners on matters of public health, planning, policy development, control measures, funding, public education and advocacy; and acts in a community liaison capacity to provide a link between the community and the Public Health Division.

MEETING SCHEDULE:  Second Tuesday of the month from 5:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

VACANCIES: Three (3): Two (2) At-Large positions and one (1) designated to be filled by a person “licensed by the state as a health care practitioner”.

TERM: The positions are 4 year terms (commencing 9/2015 and ending on 8/31/2019).

MEMBERSHIP:  Consists of twelve (12) members with a broad public health interest and concern, not limited to single interests or issues.  Committee representation shall include geographic, socioeconomic, and professional interests.  Membership shall include: five (5) persons “licensed by this state as health care practitioners” and seven (7) “persons who are informed on and interested in public health matters”. (ORS 431.412 (5) (a) (b) Public members with diverse backgrounds are preferred.  County employees are not eligible for membership.

APPLICATION DEADLINE:  5 p.m., August 25.

Applications are available on line at and in the Board of Commissioners’ Office located on the 2nd floor of the Public Service Building, 125 East 8th Avenue, Eugene.  To request an application by mail, please call 541-682-4203.


Mental Health/Drug and Alcohol advisory committee has an opening. by Pat Farr

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015


I have served on the Mental Health Advisory/Local Alcohol and Drug Planning Committee for the past 2-1/2 years.  This high impact committee is a board of professional private and public care providers (plus me) who take the work of giving the Board of County Commissioners expert advise on how to best serve their clients and those in need of service while using resources as effectively as possible.

The Lane County Public Service Building, site of Harris Hall.  The City of Eugene is currently leasing space in the building while City Hall is reconstructed.

The Lane County Public Service Building, site of Harris Hall. The City of Eugene is currently leasing space in the building while City Hall is reconstructed.

The work ranges from reviewing strategic planning and operational tactics to identifying new effective ways to provide cures and treatment.  I have listed the current opening on the committee below.  If you’re interested you would join certificated professionals and clients in this important line of work.  For more on the committee work click here.


DATE:        July 16, 2015


CONTACT:  Diana Avery, 541-682-8781

The Lane County Board of Commissioners is seeking applications from citizens interested in serving on the Lane County Mental Health Advisory/Local Alcohol and Drug Planning Committee (MHA/LADPC).  Committee members’ responsibilities, in addition to serving on the MHA/LADPC, may include serving on a steering committee and will require two daytime meetings per month.  People with interest and background in mental health, developmental disabilities, and addiction issues are encouraged to apply.

MENTAL HEALTH ADVISORY/LOCAL ALCOHOL & DRUG PLANNING COMMITTEE:  Advises the Board of Commissioners and Health & Human Services Department on matters relating to mental health, developmental disabilities, and addiction issues in Lane County by reviewing major policies of the community mental health program and makes recommendations to the Director and assists in identifying needs and priorities.

METING SCHEDULE:  Monthly, third Wednesday of the month at 2:30p.m. – 4:30p.m.  In addition, the successful applicant may also volunteer to serve on the MHA/LADPC steering subcommittee which will entail attendance at that meeting one or two times per month.

VACANCIES:  Three (3) lay-member position representatives of the community with a specific interest and knowledge in mental health, developmental disabilities, and/or addictions issues is open at this time.

TERM OF APPOINTMENT:  Four-year term

MEMBERSHIP:  Thirteen (13).

APPLICATION DEADLINE:  Monday, August 17, 2015, 11:30 a.m.

People representing the diversity of our community are encouraged to apply. Applications are available online at and in the Board of Commissioners’ Office located on the 2nd floor of the Public Service Building, 125 East 8th Avenue, Eugene.

To request an application by mail, please call 541-682-4203.


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.

Lane County has a plan in case of emergencies. by Pat Farr

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015



Earthquakes?  Tsunamis?  Volcanoes?

In the event of the unimaginable, Lane County Commissioners have a plan.

Lane County logo blue

On June 2, 2015, the Lane County Board of Commissioners conducted a work session on various aspects of emergency preparedness and response by Lane County government in general, the Board and the County Administrator. In addition to the entire Board, Linda Cook, Emergency Manager and Steve Mokrohisky, County Administrator (CAO) attended and participated in the work session.

During the work session the Board identified a number of areas that it wanted discussed and evaluated at another Board meeting:

  1.    1.  A review of Board procedures to make certain that none of the measures taken by the Board are in conflict with the existing Lane County Emergency Operations Plan (EOP);
  2.    2.  Draft and approve a Board Order (BO) to meet the requirements of ORS 476.280;
  3.    3.  Create a template, and fill in as many of the blanks as possible in advance, for the Declaration of Conflagration (and associated BO);
  4.    4.  Agree upon in advance a procedure for calling emergency meetings and notifications for such meetings required by natural or manmade emergencies;
  5.    5.  Create a BO delegating authority for the CAO to expend and commit county resources in the event of an emergency;
  6.    6.  Consider creating an automatic review process that would bring these emergency procedures before the Board each year, possibly in January, for review, possible modification and renewal;
  7.    7.  Determine which emergency preparedness procedures require Board action and which procedures can be implemented by the CAO using the Lane County Administrative Procedures Manual (APM); and
  1. Decide if the Board will pass BO’s with different authority for different emergencies depending upon the nature of the emergency or general BO’s that apply to all emergencies.



Lane County Commissioners are discussing the plan and the report back from the emergency management team on July 21 2015.  For the entire agenda item click here.



Lane County Commissioner Job Performance Trend

Thursday, July 16th, 2015

The Lane County Commissioners’ job performance trend can be seen here.