We started the new year in full Eugene style. Our Monday night public forum this week included 43 speakers.
Close to half of the speakers addressed the need for an auditor role in the city. About ten people represented the City Accountability Measure 22-283 for an independent auditor; and ten others represented a new group of advocates, Citizens for Sensible Oversight, who urged the council to review and consider their alternative auditor proposal. Council took this request seriously and at Wednesday’s work session directed the city attorney to review the proposed alternative.
This is a controversial issue, and an important one. City Accountability representatives are angered by the discussion, as are a couple of councilors. I have said since last spring when the initiative first became public that I value the role of an auditor and wanted to have more than an up or down vote on one proposal. This was the reason I initiated the study group – to ensure that we had more information and context for reviewing both the initiative and possible options. It is healthy and right that a decision of this magnitude is scrutinized and open for debate.
Council’s hesitation to act in December prompted a group of citizens to draft an alternative and to urge the council to consider their options. I want to emphasize that this process, of citizens stepping forward with draft proposals for Council, is a key attribute of our public process. Our Climate Recovery Ordinance, Vision Zero and Sanctuary City ordinances all originated this way. City Accountability could have chosen this path, but chose instead to create their own initiative without Council input and to collect signatures to get it on the ballot.
Council is scheduled to have at least two more discussions: on Wednesday , the 17th, the City Attorney will gather input, questions and suggested modifications to the alternative proposal; and then will return the week of Jan. 22nd with a modified proposal. This will give constituents another public forum on the 22nd to offer their insights.
I will be in Washington, D.C. next week on the annual United Front lobbying trip and will miss the Jan. 17th Council work session.