Rob’s Values and Views

Excerpts from Rob’s writings and speeches:

I was born and, in my early years, raised in New England, its towns and villages independent, and embracing of town hall meeting democracy of the people. I moved to Oregon as a teenager, embracing the maverick tradition of Oregon politics – common sense, fairness, and open mind to new ideas. That blend of East and West gives me a great foundation to operate from as County Commissioner!

Let’s talk about our common values, and address our community’s needs and aspirations. They say half of life is showing up, which is how I learn about our neighborhoods and communities. I ask “how can I help?” I’m here to make a difference. Let’s create policies in line with our values and principles.

I am here to address our intractable issues. Let’s have the grittier and courageous conversations; we need a whole systems approach to gathering information, exploring a range of options, and making decisions in the public interest. I’ve seen the solution, and it is us. We must turn to, not on, each other.

Since being elected, I’ve met some people who think a County Commissioner must know everything about everything . I don’t. What I do possess is an endless curiosity and an unwavering moral compass.

My litmus test for moving forward with any decision is:
1) What is the problem we are trying to fix?
2) Who are the winners? The losers?
3) Can the losers afford to lose?
4) Do the winners need to win?

To craft sound public policy, my objective is to have a bipartisan approach to soliciting good ideas from the community. Committees and Commissions are an important way to move public policy, to discuss and argue the important issues, and to forge proposals that are the foundation for lasting solutions.

Government’s role is to support the general welfare, and help those who are least able to help themselves. Government has a fundamental commitment to protecting civil rights and promoting human rights. The laws of our land protect against discrimination, and I will stand by, and with, those who are subject to discrimination. Human Rights are about raising the standard even further, so that respect and dignity are accorded to every person.

Justice, Fairness and Equity are for all, not just the privileged few. I am here to help the needy, not the greedy.

If we cannot rise from our current predicament, we will never achieve the goals for our children, our families, our veterans, our vulnerable people and the innovation that is critical for Lane County’s future. If we fail to take every action possible to lift ourselves up, we fail Oregon and we betray the future of our children.

Why do I go to rallies and stand up for Labor? Why do I champion local businesses and local jobs? The more family wage jobs with benefits, the stronger a community we have. The best thing we can do for our local economy is to have a strong middle class. We need to have at least 75% of the community above the poverty line to have the possibility of economic stability. We need to have 100% of our people above the poverty line to be a just and equitable society. Economic justice is necessary for a healthy society.

In the Masai culture, a greeting: How are our children? Are all of our Children well? For our children - we need to set our expectations higher as a community. We need to get upstream of poverty and neglect and abuse – and get out of the downstream or reactive mode to important issues. Kids need to be ready to learn when they arrive in school. Focus on brain development. Focus services where they need to be—at schools. We are seeing a return to schools being the centerpiece of community activity. I will continue to rally and harness the energy of the community towards these goals. We must set policy, and funding priorities, coordinate existing services, to support these community goals.

Community Health and Public Safety is a continuum. We must focus on treatment, prevention, education and evidence-based outcomes. Corrections facilities are important: we must keep working on changing CONDITIONS, while also working on addressing CONSEQUENCES. Still, we are never going to punish our way to success. We must reject the false dichotomy of choosing between public safety and prioritizing a healthy start to life for our kids, our families and the needs of our veterans.

Public safety is improved by a wide array of services provided by non-profits, proved to be effective at reducing recidivism in Lane County. Coordinating prevention efforts with evidence-based, validated treatment programs for most offenders reduces the over-reliance on expensive incarceration beds. We must and can do better.

Taxation fairness is long overdue. Lane County supports the largest industrial timber harvest in Oregon, where corporations are exporting huge volumes while paying few taxes. These tax exemptions run into tens of millions of dollars a year that should be available to support essential county public safety services – and education. I am working to ease the burden on middle class tax payers, we can no longer afford to have corporate timber not pay their fair share.

No doubt I have ruffled some feathers along the way. That’s what change agents do. I will always work in the public interest, and maintain that focus, even in the face of the mud-slinging that will come my way. I will not lose sight of what is important: I’ll continue to fight to improve our schools, to end child abuse and neglect, I’ll champion local businesses and local jobs, and I’ll never allow large corporations and special interest groups to influence my decisions.