This morning, Chair Jose Ibarra, and I left Portland and departed our homes for an AM meeting with The Dalles city officials, Mr. Nolan Young (City Manager), Chief Waterbury, and Mayor Wilcox at City Hall. After weeks of correspondence, long phone conferences, we came out here to introduce ourselves and try and facilitate a conversation between city officials and local Latino community residents and members of We The People, a Latino community-based organization, on unresolved disputes. After back-to-back meetings all day, and an afternoon of drafting a report for the Chair and our partners in state government, I’m coming back to a statement made earlier: “if we had known you all existed a year ago, I think we would have already resolved this issue.” Another one: “thank goodness an organization exists like the Oregon Commission on Hispanic Affairs, we’d not heard about you before.” Certainly, we don’t have the funds, staffing or resources, at least from my perspective, to execute the work that needs to happen in Oregon to improve the lives of all Oregonian Latinos and be of resource to elected and appointed officials, and meet every Latino community, but we’ll try very hard. As evident today, Ibarra and I demonstrated like every good commissioner before us and those currently onboard, commissioner-driven commissions are not just necessary, but a requirement, and small efforts by small efforts add up.
The Oregon Commission on Hispanic Affairs has been on the offense meeting with both university leaders, city elected officials and Latino community leaders, far and wide, in an effort to improve Oregon for all of us. We recently launched a Facebook community page another tool for Latino Oregonians to communicate with us. We’re informed by over half a dozen organizations by email, phone, RSS feeds, mail, social media etc to shape our agenda. Commissioners work with elected officials on a daily basis; we have meetings with key decision makers on a daily basis; and, correspond with key state partners to resolve issues. We’re practically part of the Univision team, where our commissioners have been on their En Comunidad program at least over half-a-dozen times.
For the first time in many moons, this commission is proposing a key legislative proposal in the 2011 legislative session that improves the public safety of all drivers on the road, and increases business. If elected officials don’t know we exist as a resource, that’s a shame. If Latino residents in Oregon don’t know we exist, that’s a tragedy. We are part liaisons, part communicators, part negotiators, part quarterback, part policy and advocacy, and part diplomats.
Our offices are anywhere in Oregon and our commissioners have extensive networks throughout the state and country. At the 39,000 feet level we handle strategy, but along with our community partners we’re very skilled at the ground-level to shape those environments. This commission’s members are spread from Portland to Medford, and like all great organizations, it’s only as good as the commissioner’s aboard. Fortunately, commissioners are appointed to replace others coming off all the time. This commissioner-driven commission is how we get things done. And, they start by meeting folks in their backyard and understanding the situation on the ground. Community by community we resolve issues. Now back to family and non-commission related work (at least momentarily).
Cheers again, from The Dalles, Oregon! Oh, and if you’re going to the Cherry Festival, we’ll see you there! -Commissioner Molina — Commissioner David Molina, a community activist, has served on the Commission since April 2006 and served as Vice Chair from July 1, 2008 to July 16, 2009.