Dear Friends & Neighbors,
In these last days of 2020, I know I’m not alone in reflecting on the unimaginable ways our world has changed from a year ago. At the end of 2019, I was saying goodbye to my sister and her family as they were moving to Spain for the year, getting ready for an election season, and preparing for the bumpy transition of kids returning to school after a two-week break. In no way would I have thought that in a few months’ time we would be facing a global pandemic, that my sister and her family would be scrambling to get a flight home from a country in lock-down, and that my children would be packing up their school books to a start distance learning process that’s still in effect 10 months later.
Throughout the last year we witnessed events that have been inspiring and events that have been demoralizing. To know that there are hundreds of thousands of people who have taken to the streets worldwide to support Black lives and protest police violence and that there have been commitments to end systemic racism that are backed with millions of dollars in investment and changes in law gives me so much hope. And yet to have witnessed the attacks on our democracy through rumors of voter fraud, baseless lawsuits against states that ran clean, legitimate elections, and attempts to influence elected officials to overturn those certified results should chill us all.
To know that we have lost almost 1.8 million lives to COVID globally and that so many of those deaths in the United States could have been prevented through a more consistent government response and more responsible actions by individuals is heartbreaking. But I find inspiration in the courage and dedication of those on the front lines fighting this disease and real hope that the vaccine that even now is beginning to protect those front line workers will mean that in the next 12-months the distance we had to keep from families, friends, co-workers, even strangers, may end.
All of these events in 2020 motivate me to keep doing more to create and shape a world where every person has an equal chance to thrive and where we don’t shy away from the big challenges that confront us around economic justice, racism, our climate crisis and strengthening our democracy. And all of this important work we have to do can only be done together.
I am proud of the way our community came together in 2020 to pass Preschool for All, which is all about giving every child in Multnomah County that chance to thrive. I am so grateful to all of our Multnomah County workers who are responding to this public health crisis and continuously center our response to COVID and its effects on those who are impacted the most. Each of us have stepped forward in myriad ways this year to respond to what 2020 brought with courage, compassion, and determination, and that, more than anything, convinces me that whatever 2021 has in store, we can face it together.
Wishing you and yours a bright and joyous new year,
Prioritizing Safety, Equity and Climate
This year has been one of the most deadly when it comes to traffic-related fatalities, with 73 people being killed this year on Multnomah County roadways. The clock continues to tick as our window closes to avert the most devastating impacts of climate change. And we know of the need to address the racial inequities in traffic deaths and climate change, as well as the damage our transportation investments have inflicted on communities of color. That's why I testified before the Oregon Transportation Commission earlier this month on the need to invest in transportation safety and equity and in projects that reduce our carbon footprint. The OTC was determining the funding allocations for the 2024-2027 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). While the OTC decided to set aside a record amount - $255 million - for non-highway funding in safety, equity, and climate mitigation, I believe we should have gone farther, and that it is imperative that we move forward locally with transportation decisions that center these issues. You can read more about the OTC's decision here.
With the end of the year just around the corner, thousands of families in our community and millions more around the nation are facing housing insecurity as eviction moratoriums expire. This crisis requires us to step up and take decisive action to keep families housed and prevent our homelessness crisis from spiraling out of control.
Earlier this month, I was proud to join my colleagues in taking important steps to protect our communities and keep families housed. Specifically we:
- Extended the County’s COVID-19 state of emergency and the County’s moratorium on residential evictions for nonpayment of rent, which includes a six-month repayment grace period for back-rent;
- Funded the purchase of two new shelter sites;
- Adopted a groundbreaking plan for how to spend $100 million a year addressing chronic homelessness;
- And donated vacant land in Troutdale to Home Forward to construct 100 affordable housing units
These steps will help support our community in the coming months and years, but they are not sufficient to address the immediate crisis at hand.
Two weeks ago the Oregon legislature took critical actions to of their own to protect struggling Oregonians, including:
- Extending the statewide eviction moratorium;
- Providing critical relief to tenants & landlords; and
- Funding the next steps in our COVID and wildfire recovery.
Congress also reached an agreement on a short-term relief bill that will support millions of struggling Americans. This bill will, among other things:
- Extend the federal eviction moratorium through January 31; and
- Provide $25 billion in emergency rental assistance to support tenants & landlords.
These actions, while important, are clearly inadequate. We need true relief for struggling Americans, be they tenants and unemployed workers, or small businesses that form the backbone of our economy.
I will continue to fight to ensure our struggling neighbors and small businesses receive the support they need.
New Staff: Olivia Cleaveland
Olivia Cleaveland joined my office in late October as our new Constituent Relations and Policy Liaison. She brings a variety of experience in nonprofit and local government, supporting communities and working on important equity issues, including housing, urban planning, environmental justice, and reproductive health. A major facet of Olivia’s identity is being born and raised in San Francisco, where she grew up with a deep respect for urban life and local government.
Olivia recently graduated from the University of Oregon with a bachelor’s degree in Planning, Public Policy, and Management, and a minor in Spanish. In Eugene, Olivia dedicated her time to advocating for community-driven policy and implementation. She interned with the City of Eugene’s planning department and worked on House Bill 2001, the statewide housing density zoning ordinance. She worked as an organizer at Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon and managed a student-run sexual assault prevention shuttle, Safe Ride.
You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the Community
Earlier this month I had the opportunity to sit down with community members at a virtual constituent coffee. This was an hour-long conversation on my policy priorities heading into the new year, next steps for Preschool for All implementation, revitalization efforts along the 82nd Ave transportation corridor, and best practices for community safety during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Last week, I hosted a virtual town hall with two expert panelists, U.S. Senator Merkley and Michelle J. DePass, an assistant administrator at the EPA during President Obama’s administration and the current CEO of the Meyer Memorial Trust, to discuss President-elect Joe Biden's tools and plans for his first 100 days in office.
I want to thank those who attended one or both of these events, asked questions, and engaged in these topics. I hope to host events like these in the future. If you have feedback or suggestions for how we can continue to improve this event, please email email@example.com. And if you weren’t able to attend the virtual town hall, you can watch a recording of the event here.
Our Fave Podcasts
This year has been full of breaking news, reflection, and great podcasts, among other things. My team often shares our favorites with each other, and we thought we would share our top podcasts from 2020 with you!
If you’d like to send us your recommendations, please do so to firstname.lastname@example.org. And thanks in advance!
- The Life and Legacy of John Lewis, The Daily
Broadcast after the death of Representative John Lewis in July, this episode takes a look at his life, lessons, and legacy. This podcast resonated during the time when his death was still raw. The episode contains disturbing language, including slurs.
- Rises and false: markets v the economy, The Economist
This episode looks at one of the most perplexing aspects of 2020: How can stock markets be so healthy when many businesses are so unwell.
- How Do I Get This Out? Your Guide to Stain Removal, Life Kit
Hands down the most practical podcast I listened to this year!
- Are you listening?, Ear Hustle
In its sixth season, Ear Hustle--a podcast produced by incarcerated and formerly incarcerated men from San Quentin State Prison--has pivoted to share stories from people who are tangentially impacted by incarceration. In this episode, the focus is on a support circle and we hear stories from children with parents who are incarcerated. **If you are new to this podcast, I highly recommend starting with season one, episode one.**
- I will always leave you, Dolly Parton’s America
This episode looks at Dolly’s rise to stardom while managing her contentious relationship with country star, Porter Wagoner, as a guest performer on the Porter Wagoner Show.
- The D.B. Cooper Heist, the Stuff You Should Know podcast
Required listening for anyone unfamiliar with this mysterious, PNW folklore. A passenger, D.B. Cooper, boards a plane in Portland headed for Seattle with the ultimate goal of parachuting away a thousand dollars(!) richer.
- Hall of Shame, Bad Tiger
A hilarious and educational exploration of the scandal that engulfed golf superstar Tiger Woods.
- Why Is This Happening with Chris Hayes, Caste in America with Isabel Wilkerson
An insightful conversation on the systematic way that America’s racial caste system operates and continues to yield inequitable outcomes.
- The Ezra Klein Show, Why the Hell Did America Invade Iraq?
As a person who grew up in the shadow of the War on Terror, I never understood the dynamics that pushed America into the costliest mistake in our history until I listened to this podcast. Robert Draper, an expert journalist, has done a deep dive into the history of the Iraq War and its ramifications on our country and world.
- On Being with Krista Tippet, “Notice the Rage; Notice the Silence”
Moving conversation with Resmaa Menakem about the personal work necessary to address trauma, racism, and white supremacy.
- The Ezra Klein Show, Jia Tolentino on What Happens When Life is an Endless Performance
Most insightful synopsis of the corrupting influence of social media on our perceptions, opinions, culture, and sense of self.
- The Daily, “A Speck in the Sea”
A survival story about a man lost at sea, and the people that try to rescue him.
Preschool for All
While voters just approved Preschool for All last month, we are quickly moving ahead hiring staff, forming an advisory committee, finalizing the tax components, and working with partners to get the program up and running so that children are enrolled by September 2022.