Dear friends and neighbors,
Two winters ago, our community was rocked by the news that harmful toxins were being spewed into our air at alarming rates. Words like hexavalent chromium, Uroboros Glass, selenium, and lead poisoning were suddenly household words.
That’s why families, advocates, industry leaders, and elected officials showed up for a rally in support of the Cleaner Air Oregon initiative late last month. We heard from students like Sophie Wilson, a 17-year-old student at Lincoln High School and member of the school’s environmental justice club, who said public health is an environmental justice issue. We heard from Dr. Paul Lewis, the Multnomah County Health Officer, who compared our children to hummingbirds, whose rapid breathing and heart beating make them more vulnerable to polluted air. Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury and I were able to speak to the need for our political leaders to step up and make the right choice for Oregon’s air and Oregonians’ health.
During the legislative session, lawmakers failed to make polluters pay for the Cleaner Air program or fund the program at all. If the state fails to take the necessary steps to improve our air, we at the local level will. We will protect the health of those in our community.
But the better policy is to protect the health of all Oregonians. After all, people in The Dalles have the same right to breathe clean air as a family in Hillsboro or children in Ashland or workers in Burns.
We care about the health of our fellow Oregonians, which is why we need strong and enforced statewide health standards. We should demand nothing less.
If you agree, take a moment to fill out this petition to Governor Kate Brown, asking her to prioritize public health and make Cleaner Air Oregon work.
County Files Lawsuit Against Addictive Prescription Drugs Manufacturer
For so many families in our community, the epidemic of addiction to prescription opioid pills has caused irreparable harm and suffering. From a child that has lost a parent to addiction, to a young adult facing incarceration on opioid-related charges, to a person who suffered an injury, but ended up addicted to pain pills and then heroin, this epidemic is claiming lives at alarming and unprecedented rates.
Big pharma knowingly delivered a highly addictive drug to unsuspecting patients, many of whom have seen their lives ruined or even ended as a result of being exposed to this product. Our community has borne the brunt of the resulting problems: addiction, homelessness, crime, strain on social services.
This month, the Multnomah County Board of Commissioners declared the wrongful supply and distribution of prescription opioid pain pills an unreasonable threat to public health. I was proud to stand with my fellow commissioners in declaring our intent to hold accountable those responsible for the improper and careless dumping of pain pills into our community.
You can read stories of those affected by the opioid epidemic and more about the lawsuit we’ve initiated here.
Summer Meals at Midland Library
Last week, I helped serve lunches at Multnomah County’s summer meals program at the Midland Library. With school out, many families need support providing nutritious meals to their children. The three library meal locations - located at the Midland, Rockwood and Gresham libraries - will provide roughly 15,000 lunches to kids in our community this summer. Because of their location, children can check out books and take advantage of the many other programs offered at our libraries.
That’s what Briana and her three year old daughter Sylvia were doing. They picked up books as part of the Summer Reading program and regularly stop in for the healthy meals the program provides. The rotating weekly menu includes turkey sandwiches, chicken burritos, hamburgers, sloppy joes, along with fruit, vegetables and a milk.
I worked alongside, Gabby, a summer lunch coordinator, at the library. Gabby speaks fluent Spanish and brought a smile to everyone’s face that she encountered.
You can find summer meals at locations throughout our region by texting FOOD to 877-877 (or COMIDA for a reply in Spanish). The program runs through August 25th. For more information regarding the library events calendar, visit www.multcolib.org/events.
In the Community
This past month I spent a good amount of time in the community, visiting and learning about county programs and issues.
I spent time at the Rose Haven Shelter in NW Portland. This day shelter -- the largest and oldest in Portland -- serves women and children experiencing homelessness, abuse, or other disruptive life circumstances.
I travelled through east county to learn more about our land use policies in the rural reaches of our community and the long-term challenges the area faces with housing, tourism and transportation.
I also visited the Beaverton Clinic of the Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center. In 1975, Virginia Garcia was a six-year old girl who lost her life after a cut on her foot became infected. Her parents, migrant farmworkers in Oregon, lacked access to the affordable and culturally responsive healthcare that would have saved Virginia’s life. Today, the health center that bears her name serves over 45,000 patients per year in our neighboring Washington and Yamhill counties.
And I spent time in the west hills, where I learned about the stress on our road system from our more severe weather events, such as the snow and rain storms that led to several landslides earlier this year. We also toured Cornelius Pass Road to see up close the safety improvements that will be coming to this dangerous stretch in the coming years.