The City Manager shared an inspiration to staff and
Council this week with the title “There is no finish line” which is the title
of a blog by a writer named Austin Kleon. The essence of his message is that we
are not in a marathon; we are in a contest to stay the course – one loop after
another. To set our sight on a finish line is not helpful; to keep going
around each loop, each day, is the way through.
This valuable insight is very helpful this week. Our city is
reverberating from another officer-involved shooting, our ongoing crisis with
homelessness, and increasing impacts from the pandemic. It feels as if there is
no end in sight – because there isn’t. These are the challenges of our
age, not just of 2020. We won’t resolve all these issues on a known
timeline; but we will put one step in front of the other to resolve the
challenges that face us each day. And as we do that work, we keep our vision of
a healthy, safe and equitable community in front of us.
A police shooting is a traumatic event and I understand and appreciate the
level of concern in our community. I want to extend my compassion to all
The tension of this moment is compounded by our need to wait for more
information. In order to maintain the independence of the investigation and
comply with Oregon state law, the investigation must be turned over to the
Interagency Deadly Force Investigation Team (IDFIT) and the District Attorney’s
office. This means our police department is limited in the amount of information
they have and can provide.
The integrity of this investigation is critical, and it will take time. I
know that is frustrating – we all care deeply. But please be patient for the
legal wheels to turn.
In the meantime, the City Council remains dedicated to the work we’ve
started with the Ad Hoc committee on police policies. We have a committed group
of representatives that have been working hard to look deeply at existing
policies and craft recommendations. It is as important as ever that we focus on
the progress we can make together.
On another challenging issue, the City this weekend cleaned a large campsite
in the Whiteaker neighborhood. I have heard from several people
questioning this action amidst COVID; and suggestions that if we simply helped
people manage their garbage, we would not have to clear campsites. The
city’s policy through the pandemic is for the most part to let people who are
unhoused remain in place in order to reduce the spread of COVID-19. We
have outreach teams, parks ambassadors, and social service providers who
connect with campers to try to help them into shelter or, at least, stay
healthy and safe.
We have neighborhoods that are struggling with the challenges of people
camping near their homes and businesses. In the case of this site, in addition
to the buildup of garbage, there was dangerous and illegal activity taking place.
The city had provided them with a portable restroom. Campers were given a
week’s notice and were visited by social service providers for several weeks
prior to the dispersal of the site.
This is not the situation any of us want. We want people to be able to
access the housing and services they need; and we want our neighborhoods to
feel safe. We continue to invest in solutions – one rest stop, microsite or car
camping location at a time. It’s not a marathon – it's test of perseverance and