Dear friends & neighbors,
As we contend with a historic pandemic that has claimed the lives of over 400,000 of our fellow Americans, I entered the new year with cautious optimism for what’s ahead: a new President, a vaccine distribution plan the brings the full power of the federal government to bear to defeat COVID-19, and action to address our climate crisis.
Over the last four years we’ve been barraged with one terrible act after another from the Trump Administration. Watching President Biden and Vice President Harris take office and immediately undo the damage of the Trump era, I was reminded of how good it feels to have positive news coming from the White House again.
Upon taking office, President Biden articulated a commitment to addressing our broken and dysfunctional immigration system. He began to repeal some of Trump’s most divisive acts such as the Muslim travel ban, and I was proud to see many of his initial actions respond to the demands that I and 33 other elected officials from around the country sent to him earlier this month; including undoing Trump’s attacks on sanctuary jurisdictions and protecting our census count from undo political interference.
Four years ago, I was proud to champion our county’s passage of a 100% renewable by 2050 commitment on the same day that President Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement. On day one of his administration, President Biden rejoined the agreement, allowing America to once again have a seat at the table tackling the crisis. The President has also enacted a moratorium on new oil and gas leases on public lands and centered environmental justice in the government’s response to climate change.
And there has been no greater relief than watching the new administration take the reigns of our nation’s COVID-19 response. In his first hours as President, Joe Biden has: expanded coordination between federal, state, and local partners; unveiled a coordinated federal response plan for the pandemic; and begun long-needed planning for how the federal government will ensure an equitable distribution of the vaccines.
All together, these actions have reminded us that government can be a force for good, and that the federal mobilization of resources and policies to address issues such as these - a pandemic, an economic recession, and climate change - are exactly why we need the federal government. I’m excited to get to work alongside the new administration so we can all build back better.
In his inaugural address, President Biden reflected on the many common foes we face today, including anger, extremism, disinformation, disease, joblessness, and hopelessness. The President committed “his whole soul” to unifying our nation and fighting these common foes as one America.
Let’s all follow the President’s example and commit to build a more just and equitable community.
Eviction Moratorium Changes
Starting on February 1, 2021, renters in Multnomah County will be protected by Oregon’s statewide eviction moratorium.
In order to be protected by the moratorium, renters must sign and return a “Declaration of Financial Hardship for Eviction Protection” form to their landlord stating that they are unable to afford their rent. Renters do not have to provide proof of their inability to pay.
You can find the declaration form here, and additional resources regarding the eviction moratorium can be found at oregonlawcenter.org
I will be working with the Joint Office of Homeless Services and Chair Kafoury to identify additional resources we can allocate to protect renters. Additionally, it is critical that the state legislature and Congress take immediate action to protect renters from evictions and property owners from foreclosure.
If the Oregon State Legislature does not act to protect renters beyond June 30, 2021, I will take additional action to protect landlords and renters in Multnomah County.
Preschool for All
This month the board finalized and approved the new personal income tax regulations that will fund our free, universal preschool program, Preschool for All. High income earners will be subject to the marginal tax on taxable income above $125,000 for single filers and $250,000 for joint filers. Rules around employer withholding, deductions for certain business income, penalties for late or non-payment, and other guidance is available here.
The County is also in the final stages of hiring the Preschool and Early Learning division director, who will oversee the Preschool for All program, and I hope to share that announcement with you next month. Additional information on Preschool for All, which will enroll three and four year olds in the fall of 2022, is available here.
February Virtual Event
Next month I hope to convene a panel of leaders to discuss the Black Lives Matter movement and what’s next in centering equity and social justice in all realms of our community.
Stay tuned for additional details and registration information.
Our Next Bridge
An important next step in the process of building an earthquake ready Burnside Bridge is to select the type of long span bridge to build – a Tied Arch (like the Fremont Bridge), a Cable Supported (like the Tilikum), a Truss (like the Hawthorne) a Bascule (like the Burnside Bridge) or a Lift (like the Steel Bridge).
Visit our online open house through February 21st to learn about the different bridge options and share your thoughts.