Dear friends and neighbors,

Thank you! 

Last month, I asked you to support an amendment to remove the following language from the County Code: Independent performance audits will be conducted on the use of funds generated by the Preschool For All Personal Income Tax. I had asked the Board to remove this language because it wasn’t needed; the County Charter already requires the County Auditor to conduct performance audits of all county operations and financial affairs, which includes Preschool For All. 

Thank you to those who answered the call and told the Board of County Commissioners that you supported the amendment! I am pleased to report that the Board approved both readings of the amendment; the language will be removed from the County Code 30 days after the second reading, which was April 18.

I am grateful to elected auditors Kristine Adams-Wannberg, Washington County Auditor; Brian Evans, Metro Auditor; and Simone Rede, Portland Auditor for their support of the amendment. I also want to thank members of the Auditor’s Community Advisory Committee for their letters of support - and I extend my thanks to all of you in the community who supported the amendment too. 

Meanwhile, my office is moving into the fieldwork phase of our performance audit of Preschool For All. You can learn more about this audit, and all of our in-process audits here.

Thank you,

We published our Joint Office of Homeless Services’ data audit report

This month my office published our second report from our recent audit work about the Joint Office of Homeless Services. The office’s first report on this audit came out in August 2023 and focused on contract management, communication, and equity.

We started this audit after finding (as reported in a 2021 letter to management) that the Joint Office was using the Project Start Date to count placements into housing, rather than the Housing Move-in Date. The Project Start Date is the date the client entered into a program or started receiving services, and Housing Move-in Date is the date the client moved into permanent housing. The letter to management also said that “approximately 60% of clients were missing address data or had address data that were not actual addresses.”

We found that the Joint Office is now correctly using Housing Move-in Date for reporting housing placements. We also determined that the Joint Office’s housing placement data was an accurate reflection of homeless service provider data most of the time. We made this determination based on interviews and data tests of 11 providers that provided 60% of the Joint Office’s housing placements for fiscal year 2023.

As we reported in our 2021 letter to management, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development does not require that the HMIS include address data. Through this most recent audit, we learned that another reason homeless services providers don’t typically enter address data into the HMIS is that the system is difficult to use. Many providers use a second, more user-friendly system where they put the majority of information, including addresses.
It needs to be easier for homeless service providers to get their data into HMIS. Right now, not all data about people experiencing homelessness are in HMIS, which has limited the Joint Office of Homeless Services’ ability to assess how the system is working, address problems, and make systems improvements. To improve efficiency, usefulness of data, and reduce the potential for errors in HMIS, we recommended that the Joint Office implement a database compatible with an application programming interface that allows homeless service providers to upload data from their internal systems.

Salary Commission completed its report

The County Charter directs me to appoint a Salary Commission every even year that sets the salaries for the Chair, Commissioners, and Sheriff, as well as a county supplement for the District Attorney’s salary. Salary Commissioners are human resource professionals with compensation experience. 

Salary Commission Committee 2024

The 2024 Salary Commission met regularly between January and this month and has issued their report. I am very grateful to the Salary Commissioners for their thoughtfulness and dedication. Thank you to our Salary Commissioners:

  • Heather Pedersen, Chair
  • Travis Southworth-Neumeyer, Secretary
  • Kelly Anderson
  • Dr. Koffi Dessou
  • Karen Ehn  

(The Salary Commission does not set the salary for the County Auditor; County Charter states that the County Auditor’s salary will be 4/5 of a circuit court judge’s salary.) 

Community Engagement

As we celebrate Arab American Heritage Month, I want to recognize the contributions and important roles made by Multnomah County’s Arab American community members. On April 23, Audit Director Nicole Dewees, Constituent Relations and DEI Engagement Specialist Raymond De Silva, and I attended a county employee-led and sponsored Arab American Heritage Month event at the Multnomah Building. The event was an inspiring and welcoming space that uplifted the diversity of Arab American experiences through culture and history. Speaker Ahmed Alzubidi shared the intense challenges and raised awareness of anti-Arab hate and Islamophobia.

Public Health Middle Eastern Culture Program Specialist KSA and Arab American Cultural Center of Oregon Board Member Ahmed Alzubidi speaks on "Awareness of Anti-Arab Hate and Islamophobia", at Multnomah County Arab Heritage Month event.
My office recognizes that Arab Americans and Muslims more broadly have been unfairly targeted. We denounce Islamophobia, discrimination, and hate crimes. This is unacceptable. I want to take this opportunity to remind everyone that we can stand against any kind of hate crime by using the Oregon Department of Justice Non-Emergency Bias Response Hotline: 1-844-924-BIAS (1-844-924-2427). We can together create greater understanding and an inclusive community. Let us take this opportunity to learn more about Arab American history in Multnomah County by learning from the 2024 Arab American Heritage Month website that was developed by the Department of County Human Services and the Employees of Color and Immigrants and Refugees Employee Resource Groups.

On April 27, I attended the Burmese/Cambodian/Lao/Thai New Year in the Park Festival at Portland’s Glenhaven Park. This year was the 10th year of the New Year in the Park, celebrating the new years for Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Myanmar. This year is also the year 2567 for the Lao people. The event featured a Lao blessing dance, cultural music, traditional food, and vibrant selection of art to celebrate rich cultural heritage from Southeast Asian countries. 

2024 New Year in the Park 2024, at Glenhaven Park. This celebration is the largest traditional Southeast Asian festival that honors elders, families, friends, monks, and community, in Multnomah County.

Wishing you and our community a Happy Burmese, Cambodian, Lao, and Thai new year! May this year bring joy, success, and good health. I look forward to a great year ahead!

If you’d like me and or staff to attend or speak at a meeting with your community group, simply fill out this form.