Dear Friends and Neighbors,

It's a little know fact that the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners also serves as the Multnomah County Board of Health  In that vein, we have a responsibility to prevent illness and promote health -- by ensuring safe drinking water, combating the spread of infectious diseases, and keeping tobacco and now e-cigarettes out of the hands of kids.

This week, our board took the first step toward an ordinance that will make it illegal for kids to buy and use e-cigarettes and vape pens. These unregulated products often include harmful chemicals and highly addictive ingredients like nicotine that adversely affect youth brain development.

Eight years ago, e-cigarettes were not even sold in the United States. Today, vaping is a common sight across the country. It's taken 50 years, but we have made progress in reducing smoking among adults and kids. I fear that e-cigarettes are putting all that progress at risk.  As teens at Madison High School have told me -- kids are using these untested products and it is re-normalizing smoking for both youth and adults. Even our youngest children are getting their hands on the sweetly flavored e-liquids, driving up calls to Poison Control.

I'm proud that the Health Department has raised the alarm and that hundreds of county residents have shared their concerns at public hearings and on our website. Our board is taking action and you can read more about our ordinance and upcoming vote on this emerging health issue here.


Deborah Kafoury

Multnomah County Committee seeks your input

Multnomah County Seal

Join the Charter Review Committee: Every six years, residents of Multnomah County are required to review the county home rule charter. The charter is the local version of a constitution, essentially creating the structure of Multnomah County government. A committee, appointed by state Senators and Representatives, meet to review the charter and suggest revisions which are put to public vote. An example of a charter change suggested by past Charter Review Committees includes the creation of the Library District (2010).

Click here for more information and how to join the Charter Review Committee.

Looking to get involved with Multnomah County? Click here for current volunteer opportunities.

Multnomah County moves to ban e-cigarette sales and use by minors, and in workplaces

Top: Chair Deborah Kafoury; bottom left: Health Department director Joanne Fuller and Environmental Health director Jae Douglas; bottom right: lobbyist from the Northwest Vapor Association Matt Minahan

On Feb. 12 the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners  took the first step toward prohibiting the sale, use and possession of e-cigarettes by minors, and barring vaping in the workplace.

In a 5-0 vote, commissioners, acting as the Board of Health, adopted a policy to prohibit vaping and other inhalant delivery systems in any place of employment where smoking is already prohibited. The order also bans sales to, and use and possession by, people under age 18.

Commissioners will take final action March 5 on the ordinance to implement the Board of Health order. The new law could take effect 30 days after the final vote.

"The complete lack of regulation and education about all these products that has made for a lot of confusion. Today, we will bring some clarity to this issue," said Chair Deborah Kafoury.

Click here to view full article.

Chair Kafoury wants 'common sense' approach on guns

Chair Kafoury and Congressman Earl Blumenauer sat down with concerned parents, medical professionals and gun owners for a frank conversation about practical, possible ways to cut down on gun violence.

"At Multnomah County, we see the effects of gun violence on a daily basis -- in our health care clinics, our jails and our schools" Chair Kafoury said. "We protect our children from car accidents, from tobacco and nicotine. As lawmakers, it is our responsibility to protect them from rampant gun violence."

The report calls for, among other things, increasing firearm product safety, empowering health care officials and finding ways to effectively regulate those who sell guns.

"I don't just want to call for another moment of silence," said Kafoury. "Our children deserve action from us."

Some of the roundtable participants included: Dr. Jim Scott of the National Physicians Alliance; Nova Newcomer, a concerned parent; Donna Noonan, a youth suicide prevention coordinator; and Michael DeLong of Ceasefire Oregon.

Click here to view full article.

NARA, NW honors Chair Kafoury and ongoing county partnership

The Native American Rehabilitation Association, Northwest (NARA, NW) stopped by the Multnomah Building on Jan. 14 to honor Chair Kafoury for being sworn in to office and to acknowledge the county's ongoing partnership with the organization.

Community partners join forces to create a new food pantry at Glenfair Elementary

Thanks to a partnership between the Portland Children's Levy. Metropolitan Family Services and Multnomah County, children and families at Glenfair Elementary School will now have access to fresh, healthy food after-school and on weekends. 

Glenfair's newly opened school-based community food pantry currently serves approximately 50 families per week and has the capacity to serve 100.

We know that hungry kids can't learn and there are far too many families in the Reynolds School District who live in poverty. At Glenfair, 93 percent of students receive free or reduced-price lunch.

This is the 14th school-based community food pantry in Multnomah County. 

Click here to view Gresham Outlook's article on the local community food pantries.

Oregon Historical Society (OHS) Levy helps sustain history in East Multnomah County

Chair Kafoury and Twila Mysinger, President of the East County Historical Organization

In 2010, Multnomah County Commissioners referred the Oregon Historical Society (OHS) levy to a vote of the people. Broad based support from residents allowed OHS to keep its doors open and to provide funds to historical societies operating in East Multnomah County. Today, the Chair's Office staffs the OHS Levy Oversight Committee that is responsible for making exhibits accessible and reflective of the entire community.

In 2015, the Chair has committed to visiting all of the organizations that receive levy funds, including Crown Point Historical Society, Gresham Historical Society and Troutdale Historical Society. She recently visited The Jacob Zimmerman House which was built in 1874 and is currently managed by the East Portland Historical Society.

Inclusive senior housing for LGBT residents

Multnomah County's Aging, Disability and Veteran Services has designated nine of its licensed adult care homes as "LGBT Welcoming." It plans to offer another series of classes for adult care home providers this year.

The county licenses and inspects about 650 adult care homes; single-family residences where up to five seniors or adults with disabilities live, and where they also receive meals, medications and other services. To be awarded the designation, adult care home operators must:

  • Complete three trainings to advance their understanding of and sensitivity to the needs of LGBT adults.
  • Follow guidelines promoting respect, confidentiality, and a safe environment.
  • Sign and post a code of conduct demonstrating a commitment to values which support a respectful, inclusive home.
  • Post a welcoming symbol in the window nearest the home's entrance.

Adult Care Homes with the designation can be found on the Adult Care Options website.

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