My intention is to use this post to support our community conversations by offering notes on the work of the week, recognizing individuals or organizations for their contributions, and sharing my thoughts on challenges and opportunities before us. Your responses will tailor my posts – please ask questions or make comments about issues or events of concern.
I will begin by saying that it was a relief to finally be sworn into office on Monday evening, and to find that I was able to actually drive to my new job on Tuesday morning without snow, ice, or freezing rain imperiling the trip. I want to thank our fearless and hard-working Public Works and EWEB crews who cleared the roads, cut and removed fallen trees and limbs, and restored power.
On Wednesday I presided over my first City Council work session. This was not a session of much public interest – we reviewed our agreements about the structure, content, and timing of meetings. The most significant issue of public concern discussed in the meeting was the Council’s focus on improving the quality of meeting minutes to make it easier for the public to track specific issues. This is still a work in progress, but the City has already enhanced the webcast recordings. Feedback is welcome.
On Thursday, I joined a crowd of over 100 community members and community leaders in the first of two listening sessions about discrimination and harassment. We shared experiences, worries, and hopes about divisions and prejudices in our community. A second “Listening Leads to Action” session is scheduled for February 2, 6:30-8:00 p.m., at which we will begin to direct our conversation toward solutions about how to build a greater sense of safety and acceptance for everyone in our community. The University of Oregon hosted the event which was chaired by Colt Gill, former Bethel School Superintendent and now the State’s Education Innovation Officer; and Charles Martinez, UO Professor in the Education Department and Director of the Center for Equity Promotion. Thanks and appreciation to former Mayor Kitty Piercy, former Representative Val Hoyle and former State Senator Chris Edwards who supported the vision for this constructive community conversation.
This week has been darkened by the death of Carrie Miller, a homeless woman who died overnight on Tuesday on the steps of the White Bird Clinic. Her death is a tragic reminder of our failure as a community, state, and nation to ensure that everyone has a safe place to live. We will continue to work for immediate and long-term solutions to homelessness. For those of you who knew and worked with Carrie, I am sorry for your personal loss. For those of you who work to shelter, feed, and counsel community members who are homeless, thank you for your compassion and hard work.