Siuslaw Bridge and Sealion

State of the City; John Pitcher Honored for Service; New Law Protects Janitorial Workers

State of the City Report

Mayor Joe Henry in his state of the city speech says that Florence is to be proud of the work accomplished over the past year.  Florence, according to Mayor Henry, has had a hefty agenda of projects that were started and some even accomplished over the 12 month period.  One of the most significant goals accomplished was that of community involvement through communication.

“We wanted to become much more user friendly to our community and change the culture of our city council as well as our staff.”

Henry says that the amount of information available to the public has grown leaps and bounds and the city has a very extensive online presence through traditional websites as well as social media outlets.  The ability to disseminate information has made it easier for the community to trust the process and have a buy in to the many projects that the city has undertaken.  City manager Erin Reynolds says the switch to a 24 month budget cycle has also helped to streamline government and make it more productive.

“Traditionally we end up stopping all things for about 2 months internally and focus only on the budget.”

The move to a 24 month cycle saves and extensive amount of manpower over a 12 month budget process.  Additionally Mayor Henry says the progress the city has made in bringing new jobs, updating infrastructure, and even preparations for additional housing have advanced significantly over the past 12 months.

City Recognizes Commander Pitcher

The city of Florence recognized Commander John Pitcher for 30 years of service at last night’s City Council meeting.  City Manager Erin Reynolds says that the contribution of Pitcher’s service has helped make the Florence Police Department what it is today.

203:  “Really appreciate the service that John has provided to the city of Florence and its residents and visitors and our family and neighbors over the years he has just been an integral part of that department.”

Commander Pitcher was presented a plaque commemorating his years of service.  Tomorrow the city will be holding a work session at 10 am.  Due to a scheduling conflict the meeting will be held at the senior center on kingwood.  On the agenda is the progress and next steps for the Housing and Economic Opportunities Project along with the City Council’s Grant Program.


Oregon Lawmakers Pass Workplace Harassment Laws

Months before the #MeToo Movement gained steam, Oregon lawmakers passed legislation to protect women working in the shadows, literally. Now that law is in effect. At the beginning of this year, janitorial contractors started joining a registry that ensures they’re in compliance with workplace harassment laws. State Representative Andrea Salinas says sexual harassment and even assault are pervasive in the janitorial industry and women in this industry often aren’t able to speak up because of non-disclosure agreements from settlements or threats from their managers. Even so, Salinas says the testimonies women gave in support of this legislation last year were moving.

“This just shows you that an industry where the workers truly do work in the shadows – they work at night, they work alone, sometimes their families don’t know the locations of where they’re working, their job site – for a few of them to come forward was really powerful.”

Salinas says there are some technical issues the Legislature will clear up this session. She says the law ended up capturing more contractors than lawmakers intended.   Many people who work in the janitorial industry are undocumented, making it harder for them to come forward and report harassment or assault. Some receive threats of deportation if they speak up. Salinas says a big component of this law is making sure undocumented folks know their rights and that they can go to law enforcement in these situations. Still, Salinas says some contractors have complained that the law is too onerous on their business.

“We have gotten some pushback, but I think it’s really hard to argue against putting in place a system that will help to prevent women and workers from being raped at their worksites.”

Felisa Hagins is political director for Service Employees International Union Local 49, which helped pass this law. She says it’s important for women to know where to go and what to do when inappropriate behavior starts, and that this law provides a process where you can report that behavior early and be heard.