Well, this year has started much as the last one ended - with the surge of the COVID-19 Omicron variant playing a defining role in how we venture out in our county’s neighborhoods (or attempt to do so), how we take care of our loved ones and ourselves, and how we work.
For those who work onsite, whether in health care, schools, service industries, or other kinds of work, I thank you for your endurance. I can only begin to imagine the challenges you’re facing.
In my office, the challenges are different: ensuring government accountability and transparency without impacting service delivery. Acknowledging the long hours and painstaking work county employees are doing, while calling attention to important improvements that need to occur. My staff and I are privileged to do this work on your behalf.
I hope you will take some time to recap the office’s 2021 accomplishments by reading our annual report. And, you can check out our new audit schedule to see what we will work on in 2022. This month, for example, we started an audit of the Joint Office of Homeless Services information systems and reporting, as well as work to evaluate the status of recommendations from our pandemic response audit and 2019 audit of Integrated Clinical Services’ primary care.
This month doesn’t just mark a transition from one year to another, but also some internal changes in our office. After more than 16 years in the Auditor's Office, Principal Auditor Fran Davison is retiring. Fran was my first audit partner, and I have learned so much from her about serving an accountability function with empathy and compassion. (All the mistakes I've made along the way are fully my own.) We are all excited for Fran to start this new chapter, but will miss working with her very much.
With Fran's upcoming departure, I had an opening for an auditor. I am thrilled to say that Mandi Hood, who has served admirably as my Constituent Relations Specialist, is now a Management Auditor. She has a master’s degree in clinical psychology and a background in mental health, supportive housing, trauma-informed practices, community outreach, and project management.
With Mandi's new role, I have an opening for a Constituent Relations Specialist. This is a critical role that assists me, manages office communications of all kinds (including this newsletter), and supports our office’s community engagement efforts. People can apply for the job through February 12. Please consider applying or tell your networks about this opportunity!
County Charter Review Committee to consider Auditor’s role - your input is welcome!
The Multnomah County Charter Review Committee (MCCRC) has created four subcommittees through which it will carry out its work to review and recommend amendments to the County Charter. I am excited that the MCCRC will consider the Auditor’s role in two of its subcommittees:
- Subcommittee 1 is tasked with exploring Charter topics related to the County Auditor, Office of Community Involvement, Charter review, salary commission, County Manager, and Charter language.
- Subcommittee 2 is tasked with exploring Charter topics related to the District Attorney, Sheriff's Office, and the County Auditor (as relates to possible criminal justice oversight).
The other two committees will focus on the following:
- Subcommittee 3 is tasked with exploring Charter topics related to voting methods, electing officials, campaign finance, commissioner districts, resolution of a tied election, requirements for elected officials, number of commissioners, and the creation and/or filling of office vacancies.
- The Public Engagement Subcommittee will focus on public engagement with the MCCRC and its processes.
In December, I submitted an overview of proposed amendments to the County Charter to the MCCRC. The proposed amendments would make our office more transparent and accountable to the public, and strengthen our independence from the county operations we audit. Members of my Community Advisory Committee have also submitted comments in support of the proposed amendments. If you support these amendments, please let the Committee know! You can submit public comment or make public comment during one of their meetings.
Salary Commission is at work
County Charter directs me to appoint a five-person salary commission by January each even year. The Charter states that Salary Commissioners must be human resource professionals with compensation experience. With their particular skills, the Salary Commissioners determine the salaries for the County Chair, County Commissioners, and Sheriff, as well as the county supplementary pay for the District Attorney. (My salary is set in Charter as ⅘ of a circuit court judge’s salary.) I’m pleased that three of our 2022 Salary Commissioners are returning Commissioners. We had a competitive recruitment process for the two open positions and received impressive applications. Our 2022 Salary Commissioners are:
- Kelly Anderson, new commissioner
- Koffi Dessou, DBA, returning commissioner
- Heather Pedersen, returning commissioner
- LeeAnna Rappleyea, returning commissioner
- Allie Szymoniak, new commissioner
Helpful COVID-19 Links
- COVID-19 rent relief information for Multnomah County residents: Found out how to apply for emergency rent assistance.
- Complete list of current Multnomah County vaccination clinics, along with information about who is eligible (everyone!), accessing support for language access and for seniors, and information about the vaccination process.
- If you would like information on how to stay healthy, slow the spread of the virus, or how to report any issues, please visit https://multco.us/novel-coronavirus-covid-19.
- Unfortunately, some communities have experienced acts of racism and xenophobia because of the myths surrounding COVID-19; this county site has information about how to report discrimination and find support.
- If you are at work and your employer does not seem to be following public health directives, you can report that to Oregon's Occupational Safety and Health Division.
- This page contains resources to support our communities as we experience the COVID-19 pandemic and get through this together.
- Learn more about COVID-19 community and business guidance from Multnomah County.
- Learn more about disability rights and COVID-19.