Mayor Lucy Vinis
WelcomeBelow you will find links to my weekly blog, monthly recaps, and the Mayor’s Report, a dynamic list of projects that council and staff are working on – a real-time living tool to track our work and progress online, providing consistent updates of where we are on important issues. I hope everyone finds these tools useful.
In recent months, Eugene City Council meetings embraced global, national and local issues. We opened with a remembrance of Sept. 11, 2001, and a decision to dedicate $10,000 in scholarships to help Dreamers pay the application fees to renew their status under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. On Oct. 9, we held our first annual commemoration of Indigenous Peoples Day.
Some have criticized the DACA action as an inappropriate expenditure of city funds on an issue beyond our scope and authority. I recognize that as a local government, we cannot create an expectation that any group can request financial support outside our budget process.
But this seemed to me a moment to stand for our values and walk the talk of our support for young, law-abiding immigrant friends and neighbors for whom a federal pledge has been broken.
Global and national issues stop at our door. Our core values matter.
This is also apparent in our continuing struggle to address the needs of people who are homeless. This past month, we received the good news from Lane County that the Human Services Commission will make available almost $50,000 in state funds to support a study of the feasibility of a permanent homeless shelter. This work will move us toward identifying the resources, partners, revenues and possible locations that will make the shelter a reality.
Increasingly I see this as an issue of health and safety: Think about a shelter not as a solution to homelessness, but as a solution to a health crisis. Homelessness affects our whole community as we confront the potential for disease to spread when people live without proper sanitation and shelter.
September also saw significant progress by the Mayor’s Ad Hoc Committee on the Climate Recovery Ordinance, which completed its update of strategies and tactics for reaching our goal of reducing our 2010 fossil fuel use by half by 2030. The core document is an update of the Climate Energy Action Plan, written in 2010. The updated plan outlines a communication strategy for educating and engaging the community, along with strategies for moving toward carbon neutrality, reducing our fossil fuel use, and adjusting to the effects of climate change. Vital to this work are “large lever” organizations, whose actions reverberate broadly — such as schools, hospitals and major industries.
The foundation of our progress toward greater equity and a sustainable environment is our investment in the infrastructure that enables our economy to grow. Two significant endeavors are underway.
First, the city has put on the November ballot a $51.2 million road bond. This is a continuation of the current bond at the existing tax rate.
As with the previous two road bonds, this one includes a specific list of roads, bike and pedestrian improvements. The bond also includes an audit to ensure that funds were spent effectively and for the stated purpose. Passage of the bond enables road work to continue without interruption through the coming summer construction season. The City Council endorses this work as crucial to everyone’s safety.
Second, I am reviewing 54 applications to fill seven positions on the new River Guides advisory committee. This group of citizens will advise the development of the riverfront property the city has purchased from the Eugene Water & Electric Board. The new development will fulfill a long-held goal of connecting our city to the Willamette River, and will create housing, commercial buildings and a new city park. The council will approve the final list of committee members at its Oct. 23 meeting.
I promised as a candidate and new mayor to improve communication with the public. This column is a part of that commitment. The other part is the work I do every day. Most recently, that commitment has been reflected in my appointment of a study group to review and define options for the role of a performance auditor. My goal has been clarity, transparency and communication. An initiative to create an independent auditor department has successfully gained an impressive 13,000 signatures.
Clearly, many people see the value of creating this role. I join them in supporting an auditor position, which I believe will increase transparency and trust in government.
That said, there is more than one way to do this. The committee has put together a factual, objective matrix with profiles that describe how other cities have structured this accountability role.
The report is almost complete and can be seen at www.eugeneperformanceauditor.org. I hope people will find it useful as we consider investing in this new branch of government. The City Council will hold a work session in November to hear about this research.