Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Trouble at OHCS

Does anybody know where this Resource List came from?    -- Warren Bednarz, 12/1/16


Remember hearing ten months ago about the community's need for a resource guide, something that didn't require an app, that you could hand to someone you wanted to evict from your rental unit or alleyway, so you would feel like, you know, you were helping them?

While, for 10 months, the Task Force and its committees debated the feasibility of paper guides and investigated costly alternatives to 211info, Polk County quietly developed its own resource guide.  And, yesterday, they announced that Salem Health has "graciously agreed to print several thousand" in English and Spanish, for use in and by the community.  (Polk County's guide is a booklet, not a 2-page list.)

Fortunately for Councilor Bednarz, the Polk County guide contains most Marion County resources as well, on account of West Salem being in Polk County, because the list he asked about at the last meeting is many years old, so old, in fact, no one could say where it came from.  It's doubtful it even exists in electronic form anymore.  This is what the Task Force came up with for Marion County.  

The Secretary of State's audit report on Oregon's housing agency, OHCS, which came out yesterday, casts doubt (at least in the minds of some of us) on Governor Kitzhaber's decision in 2012 to let the agency "live."  Director Margaret Salazar, commented on the audit report and the need for a Statewide Housing Plan, currently in the works, in yesterday's Message to all staff.  She wrote,

As Oregon grapples with the current housing crisis, a plan that uses data and research to inform the investments of scarce housing dollars is a priority. The plan will include robust data analysis and broad stakeholder engagement.    
She continued, "[t]ransparency in how we do our work, both internally and externally, is crucial to this agency's success."     

It's too bad the remaining Task Force co-chairs (Carlson and Clark) don't similarly value data analysis,  broad stakeholder engagement and transparency in their planning, but then, they haven't exactly shown Salazar's humility in the face of failure, either.  So, it was refreshing to receive yesterday, instead of the usual bloviating rah-rah summary of what happened at the last Task Force meeting, this simple message from staff,

The work of the task force is wrapping up. Subcommittees will bring their final recommendations to the group at the January meeting, and the task force will review and adopt a strategic plan at the February meeting. 

One could take the absence of any statement about pivoting, launching a successor organization, getting funding commitments, etc., as a small sign of something approaching humility, a sign that someone at least connected to the "leadership" might be beginning to realize that there are real problems with Task Force recommendations, that they lack coherence and buy-in, and, except for the self-executing ones, will probably never be implemented.  Let's hope that's the case, anyway, because the community needs to move on.  The next Task Force meeting is January 23.


  1. Lack coherence and buy in? I don't see any effort made in you document to support that inflammatory language. Judging from your language you seem frustrated. When the task force started I asked you why you were not attending the subcommittee meetings with me. You made some excuse but then you started coming to the meetings. To your credit you come to a lot of the subcommittee meetings now. Google "Man in the Arena" and see what Theodore Roosevelt had to say in Paris in 1910, it is a self evident truth.
    Some of your criticism is right on target but you lose credibility when you become vituperative, credibility hard won with research and evidence that has earned you credit in public meetings of the Task Force. You are a valuable asset to this effort that is being made to serve and protect those who cannot speak for themselves. Keep coming back. If you see an action that makes you want to paint a dire picture with these broad strokes call out that specific action and let us know what you think/feel and why. Or not. It's your blog and you can rant if you want to. See you soon Sarah.

  2. Victor, thank you for the kind words. The support for the assertion that the recommendations lack coherence and buy-in can be found at the blog linked in the sentence where those terms occur, and in the blogs linked in that blog, and in other blogs about the work of the Task Force. Disagree that "lack coherence and buy-in" constitute vituperative (uttering or given to censure : containing or characterized by verbal abuse) or inflammatory language (tending to excite anger, disorder, or tumult : seditious) or a "rant" (bombastic declamatory utterance). We think the actions described in our blogs on the Task Force paint a picture that's more pathetic than dire, but it is up to the reader to decide.