I began the month of August with two efforts to listen and learn on a pair of long-running city issues.
On Tuesday, August 1st, I invited people who are camping in Alton Baker Park for a Mayor’s Listening Session. This idea came from a meeting with a local advocate for the homeless, Kathy Walker, and Jennifer Frenzer Knowlton, past chair of the Human Rights Commission. Our goal was to focus on two issues that affect everyone who uses and lives in the park – managing personal possessions and garbage. We were joined by City of Eugene staff from Parks and Open Spaces, two police officers, and representatives from Occupy Medical, Whitebird, the Oregon Track Club, Councilor Semple and others. It was constructive and respectful, and people who attended recommended we hold more of these sessions. Our hope is to at least move forward in keeping the parks cleaner and safer, while respecting the challenges campers face in keeping their possessions safe and dry. I will advocate to meet our urgent need for lockers or storage space.
On Wednesday, I convened the first meeting of the Eugene Performance Auditor study group. This is not an official City of Eugene committee; City staff are not involved, and I reserved a library meeting room just as any other citizen group would, in order to assure the public that research is independent and impartial. In my position as a citizen who is also mayor, I have called people together to help us understand the framework of decisions in implementing a performance auditor role. Their task is to build a framework. They will not recommend a specific auditor role or scope, nor will they advocate for or oppose the initiative currently gathering signatures. This is part of my commitment for transparent decision making. The meetings are open to the public; information and materials are available on a new website: EugenePerformanceAuditor.org