Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As we near the end of 2023, I have been reflecting on my office’s unique role in the county. My team and I are continually assessing the operation of county programs, and how they can be more effective, accountable, and equitable.
Our responsibility to tell other parts of the county how they can improve is something we take seriously, and we apply this same critical eye to our own practices.
Our ongoing self assessment regularly leads to positive change - like our ongoing efforts to engage with community and to follow a trauma-informed approach in our work. This month, my office started another important practice of providing post-audit informational sessions to county employees in the area we audited.
Earlier this month, the team who conducted the office’s library audit held several information sessions with library staff to share the audit’s findings, answer questions, and receive important critical feedback about the audit. The team held a session for staff who identify as Black, Indigenous, or People of Color, as well as two sessions open to all library staff. The feedback the team heard will help our office as we assess the implementation of the audit recommendations, as well as help improve our practices on future audits. We are grateful to the staff who participated in one of the information sessions for sharing their impressions, experiences, and ideas for our improvement.
I am excited to see the ideas that my office will develop in 2024 to keep improving how we serve our county’s diverse communities. I am grateful for the continuing opportunity to serve the people of Multnomah County.
With best wishes for 2024,
Multnomah County Auditor
Update on our recommendations to improve jail conditions
In 2022, my office issued an audit report on county jail conditions. We made 13 recommendations for improvement. This month, we published a report on the status of those recommendations . We found that the Sheriff’s Office has implemented two of the recommendations and seven are in the process of being implemented. We determined that the following four recommendations were not implemented:
- Eliminate the use of isolation as a disciplinary sanction for individuals with mental health conditions.
- Eliminate the use of disciplinary sanctions that involve isolation.
- Review the results of our survey of adults in custody to examine the areas of concern that adults in custody identified and implement changes to address those areas of concern.
- Explore an independent review function for jail operations, such as discipline and use of force incidents.
The audit found that employees are frustrated about the gaps in the response to serious incidents and concerned about staffing and workforce equity. In recent years, the Library has hired its most diverse workforce to better reflect the diverse communities it serves. However, the audit team heard that employees with specific language and cultural skills need more clarity about their roles. Services have also been reduced due to staffing issues and pandemic disruptions. Employees report lower staffing levels in neighborhood libraries contributes to reduced services, poor morale, and concerns about workplace safety.
The full report is available on our website here.
On December 1, Hotline Director Marc Rose and Constituent Relations & DEI Engagement Specialist Raymond De Silva participated in Democracy in Action, an annual event at Central Catholic High School for students to meet government and political party officials. Every year, we are impressed by the thoughtful and intelligent questions from students about how local government serves the community.
On the longest night of the year, December 21, Sisters of the Road hosted a Houseless Day of Remembrance event, in Old Town/Chinatown neighborhood. The gathering was solemn by heartfelt tributes with a memorial wall to honor and remember those who have lost their lives without a permanent home. There was a ceremony with shared moments of reflection, emphasizing the need for compassion and advocacy for those affected by houselesness. Through this remembrance event, Management Auditor Mical Yohannes and Constituent Relations & DEI Engagement Specialist Raymond De Silva represented my office by listening, learning, and lamenting about the systemic challenges faced by community members without housing in Multnomah County.
If you’d like me and or staff to attend or speak at a meeting with your community group, simply fill out this form.
Photo on left: Good Government Hotline Director Marc Rose speaking with a Central Catholic High School student at Democracy in Action event.
Photo on right: Sisters of the Road Houseless Day of Remembrance event had a memorial wall with names and photographs of community members who've been lost while experiencing houselesness.