Dear friends and neighbors
Last week I had the privilege of watching 13 people raise their right hand and swear an oath to the United States of America. I felt such a profound hope for our great country.
There was Kenny Mani, a software engineer from India. There was Roxana Geacar, a community college staffer from Romania. There was Kiet Nguyen, a salesman from Vietnam. I thought about my own history, that I wouldn't be here if it weren't for a similar journey, that of my great grandfather, who came, by himself, as a teenager, from Syria.
I wanted these newest Americans to hear the same message my family instilled in me. Follow your passions. Pursue your dreams. Build a United States that makes us proud. And more than anything, wake up each day and ask, how can I make life better for the people I love, and the people I don't even know.
Chair Kafoury's State of the County Address - Friday, April 21
On Fri, April 21 Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury will deliver the 2017 State of the County address, an assessment of what the county has accomplished and where it will focus its efforts in the coming year.
In Kafoury's third State of the County speech she'll highlight the county's work in combating homelessness, moving essential capital projects forward, supporting immigrant and refugee residents and more.
The April 21 event is hosted by the City Club of Portland. For those who can't attend, there are still plenty of ways to tune in
City Club of Portland has opened up their live stream to members of the general public. Watch live starting at noon on Friday, April 21.
Multnomah County communications staff will be reporting live @Multco on Twitter beginning at noon.
Listen to the rebroadcast of the State of the County on Oregon Public Broadcasting beginning Friday, April 21 at 7 p.m. on 91.5 FM or streaming at opb.org.
Watch a rebroadcast of the State of the County on Open Signal cable channel 30 Friday at 8 p.m. or Sunday at 6 p.m.
Read the full speech and a video of the speech, which will be posted on the Multnomah County website after the event.
"A pledge to our children's future" moving to 100 percent renewable energy
City of Portland and Multnomah County leaders vowed on April 10 to transition 100 percent clean energy by 2050. The goal is to meet the community's electricity needs from renewable sources by 2035 and shift all remaining energy sources to renewables in the 15 years after. The City of Portland currently powers all of its operations with renewable energy and starting in 2018, Multnomah County will purchase green energy to meet its operational needs.
The announcement places the Portland-metro region alongside 25 other cities that have committed to 100 percent renewables, including Salt Lake City and San Diego. Nearly 90 major U.S. companies have also committed.
Counties and cities have to lead on climate change because federal leaders are delaying or abdicating facing what is one of the most serious problems underway. Already, 2015 was the warmest year on record in Oregon; this past winter was the wettest winter on record and February was the wettest February on record, said Chair Kafoury. The harm is hitting hardest on people who can't escape heat, storms and poor air quality.
"This is a pledge to our children's future," said Chair Kafoury. "100 percent renewables means a future with cleaner air, a stable climate and more jobs and economic opportunity."
Lawmakers respond to county request for stronger protection from immigration raids at sensitive locations
Six weeks after County Commissioner asked Oregon's Congressional delegation to help dissuade immigration officials from targeting courthouses, those lawmakers introduced a bill to expand federal guidelines protecting schools, hospitals and other sensitive locations from immigration enforcement.
The Protecting Sensitive Locations Act would "make sure immigrant families can take their kids to school, go to worship or seek protective orders and police assistance," Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) said Friday in Portland during a roundtable with local government officials, community advocates and faith leaders.
Immigration and Custom Enforcement has arrested people visiting the Multnomah County courthouse. Rumors of raids at health clinics and schools have caused immigrant parents to keep children home from classes and caused clients to skip immunization and well-baby appointments.
Chair Kafoury said at least 10 domestic violence survivors, all of whom are either legal residents or living in mixed-immigration families, have stopped short of getting a protection order for fear they would be arrested themselves. Although there are no reports of this happening in Oregon, a Texas woman was detained when she went to an El Paso courthouse to file a restraining order.
"These dramatic detentions don't make us safer, they incite panic," Kafoury said. "Think about it. Women are now more afraid of the federal government than of the person who is abusing them."
New shelter opened Monday thanks to partnership with business community
Multnomah County and the city of Portland have joined with a pair of Portland development firms to find a new home for downtown's Columbia shelter -- building on a strong partnership with the business community that's helped hundreds of vulnerable neighbors find safety off the streets.
Columbia's new location -- in the historic Shleifer Furniture building at 509 S.E. Grand at Stark -- began welcoming guests Monday, April 17. It will continue providing overnight accommodations for up to 100 people, including men, women and some couples.
The Shleifer building's co-owners, Beam Development and Urban Development + Partners, are offering up the space as a shelter before they begin work restoring the 111-year-old building for use as a hotel later this year. The building will remain open as a shelter into the fall.
That collaboration means the community can maintain needed capacity in our shelter system. It also shows the continued power of partnership between the public and private sectors when it comes to addressing homelessness -- and directly easing suffering on the streets.
"In true Portland spirit, when we asked the business community to help, they stepped up," said Chair Kafoury. "First it was the Menashe family, then it was Tom Cody and Project, and now it's Brad Malsin and Beam. Who's next?"
Morrison Bridge deck work begins April 3
The failing deck of the Morrison Bridge lift span will be replaced with a solid new deck in 2017. The work will require major traffic changes starting April 3 as the old deck is removed and the new one is installed.
Construction work in March 2017 focused on strengthening the lift span, which did not impact traffic. Work to replace the lift span deck will close four traffic lanes from April 3 through October 2017. A single lane is open in each direction over the river, but the westbound lane is only for traffic exiting I-5 and I-84. Several night-time bridge closures are planned this spring but two-way traffic will be maintained on the bridge at other times. Westbound access from the eastside will be limited to Interstate 5 north access only. Westbound bridge users will need to use a different bridge from the inner eastside, such as the Hawthorne or Burnside.
There will be several closures of the bicycle and pedestrian path on the south side of the bridge. When the south path is closed, the north sidewalk will be open. The north sidewalk has stairs under two freeway ramps, so bicyclists and people who cannot navigate stairs should use the Hawthorne or Burnside bridges when the south path is closed.
Watch Multnomah County Capital Projects LIVE
Health headquarters webcam goes live, capturing construction 24/7
The Health Department headquarters construction webcam is live. The camera has been mounted on the iconic Union Station tower to give a birdseye view of the Gladys McCoy building construction site. The Multnomah County Commissioners broke ground on the project in December. Work began on the site in February.
The camera allows for a 24/7 observation of the property, on the east side of the Bud Clark Commons. Construction manager and General contractor JE Dunn has undertaken the demolition of low walls, and excavation work in addition to pile installation and tower crane foundations.
Watch as the nine-story building, designed by ZGF Architects, begins to take shape.
Central Courthouse webcam
Watch a live view of the courthouse construction site from our camera on the Hawthorne Bridge. Live feed available during daytime work hours. Follow the link to our webcam site hosted by Hoffman Construction.