photo of Lan Su Chinese Garden at it's 20th anniversary ground breaking celebration on June 7, 2019.
Lan Su Chinese Garden 20th anniversary groundbreaking celebration, June 7, 2019.

Dear friends and neighbors,

I hope you’ve been staying cool and enjoying your summer! June has brought us hot, sunny days and much to celebrate. I kicked off June with a community coffee at Stomping Grounds in Fairview. I enjoyed connecting with East County residents to talk about issues that really matter to them, such as operations at Animal Services. Every time I talk to a Multnomah County resident, I am reminded of the importance of elected officials’ relationships to communities and community members. These relationships – connecting with one another, understanding our shared values and utilizing our differences of opinion to achieve positive outcomes – rely on those of us in positions of power to understand and respect the historical and cultural context of the communities we serve.

Understanding these contexts is critical to providing you with audits that help to improve your County government. And several community celebrations this month – from the Lan Su Chinese Garden's 20th anniversary groundbreaking celebration to the Coalition of Communities of Color's Summer Soirée – reminded me of that, as well as of the power that comes from recognizing our past and using it to build a better future together.

On June 19th, I celebrated Juneteenth at Vance Park in Gresham, which was hosted by Beyond Black, a community development corporation that focuses on strengthening the African American community in the Rockwood neighborhood. Juneteenth, also known as Juneteenth Independence Day or Freedom Day, is a holiday that commemorates the June 19, 1865 announcement of the abolition of slavery and the emancipation of African American slaves in the westernmost slave state of Texas. Juneteenth commemorates when U.S. soldiers brought word of President Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation to Galveston, Texas, two years after it was issued. It is the oldest celebration of the end of slavery in the United States.

Finally, June is when our County commemorates Pride and the resiliency and contributions of our LGBTQ+ communities. Part of the context for Pride is why we celebrate it in June: On June 28, 1969, New York City police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay club in Greenwich Village. Fed up with discrimination and police harassment, patrons and neighborhood residents stayed on site. A riot ensued that was a galvanizing moment in the movement for LGBTQ+ rights. My office strives to espouse the values of human rights that underpin events like Pride and Juneteenth throughout our work.

This is one reason why my staff and I are  out in the community more, engaging with both  employees and community members to build relationships to support audit efforts. My office met twice this past month with Department of Community Justice line staff to learn about their workplace concerns. We continue to work diligently on audits of mental health services, primary care clinics, and services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We also presented our annual Good Government Hotline Report to the Board of County Commissioners. The Hotline received 86 reports in 2018, a 26% increase of reports from 2017. We are making some changes to the Hotline to improve its effectiveness, and I will update you more on this next month.