December 2015

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

December is a time for reflection. We look back on the year that's quickly coming to a close and look ahead to next year.

It's also an important time to reconnect with family and friends. I'm incredibly grateful to my husband and children who have supported me during a challenging year of transition.

As our community continues to grow, we are experiencing growing pains -- housing costs are rising and too many of us can't find a good-paying job or afford health care.

But I am inspired everyday by the sense of commitment in our community. I believe we are willing to do the hard work it will take to make our community more fair and equitable. And I look forward to working with all of you in the new year to make Portland and Multnomah County the great place that we want it to be.

Happy holidays,

Deborah Kafoury

Chair condemns fear rhetoric against Muslims

Chair Deborah Kafoury delivered the following statement during the Dec. 17 Board of County Commissioners meeting:

"I want to take a moment today to reflect upon and comment on something that is touching many members of our community and our staff.

The fear-based rhetoric being spread nationally and locally about the Muslim community runs counter to the values of the United States and of Multnomah County.

The best moments in our nation's history have not been defined by fear, but by hope.

This nation's founding documents emphasized the freedom of religion and religious pluralism. This County and this board is committed to valuing and honoring the many different cultures, religions and traditions that our residents embrace. We work towards these values every day and we recognize the immense contributions of Muslims to our community.

No one should live in fear form the threat of violence, and profiling, oppression or persecution because of the way they look, the religion they practice, places they worship, or the part of the world they come from.

As a government, we must ensure that everyone is treated equally under the law. Not only because it is the right thing to do, but because the laws of this county require us to.

But if we want the kind of society that is envisioned by the ideals of our nation we must individually take action every day to make that place a reality.

I am confident that you will join me in resisting fear and hate, and stand together for peace and understanding."

Multnomah County urges reopening of Willamette Falls locks

The Multnomah County Board of Commissioners passed a resolution supporting the repair and reopening of the Willamette Falls Navigation Canal and Locks Dec. 10.

The Willamette locks operated continuously from 1873 to 2011 and hold a vast amount of historical and cultural significance.

The closure of the locks has essentially cut the Willamette River in two. Commercial and recreational users upstream can no longer access markets or areas downstream, and vice versa.

The county joined Metro, the Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde, AOC, and the Counties of Clackamas, Linn, Marion and Polk, the city of Portland and others in urging the federal government to reopen the locks.

New Sellwood Bridge to open in late winter

The new Sellwood Bridge should open to traffic in late February or early March 2016, project managers told Multnomah County commissioners on Dec. 15.

"The schedule is weather dependent," said county program manager Ian Cannon at the board briefing. "But it looks like we are just a few months from having traffic on the new bridge."

Read full article here.

Community Members Applaud County's Sustainability Leadership

Since 2010, the community has guided the County's sustainability work through the Advisory Committee on Sustainability and Innovation (ACSI). ACSI members are community volunteers with a wide range of sustainability expertise, including public health, energy efficiency, environmental justice, and affordable housing. On December 9th, ACSI presented to the County Board highlights from the past year and recommendations for County action in 2016.

In 2015, ACSI played a key role in developing the County's 2015 Climate Action Plan, launching an energy finance program for commercial buildings, and addressing the region's air quality issues. ACSI applauded Chair Kafoury and the Board for championing these issues locally and at the state legislature.

Looking ahead to 2016, ACSI encouraged the County Board to continue to its leadership on air quality by adopting clean diesel contracting language to limit community exposure to air pollutants, educating the community about the health risks of wood smoke, and adopting a "burn ban" on days with worst air quality. ACSI also urge the Board to continue to address climate change locally and at the state level, including ensuring that new affordable housing is both healthy and energy efficient.

Home for the Holidays: Pet adoption fees match the date in December

Every creature should have a warm place to call home on these cold winter nights. In an effort to find homes for the animals spending this holiday season in our shelter, Multnomah County Animal Services is launching operation Home for the Holidays.

Beginning Dec. 1, adoption fees for all pets 6 months or older will match the date. The special will run through Dec. 31, or until all the pets have found homes.

Read full article here.

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