Seila Sar, Cambodia
Organizing Grantee: ICMA
YSEALI Theme: Environmental Sustainability
Host: City of Albany, OR
After the program orientation in Washington, D.C., I was paired with an Indonesian fellow, Sugeng Hartanto, to come and work with the local government here in the City of Albany, Oregon. I was placed based on my topic of interest which is waste management.
Albany is the county seat of Linn County and is located in the Willamette Valley at the confluence of the Calapooia River and the Willamette River in both Linn and Benton counties. It is home to 51,270 population and is known as the rare metals capitol of the world where local industries produce zirconium, hafnium, and titanium. Albany is actually about 2 hours by car from Portland, the largest city in Oregon, where I was picked up by the city manager, Mr. Wes Hare, when I first arrived in the State of Oregon after a 5 hour flight from Washington, DC.
I was very excited with my first day working at the city hall. I received very warm welcome and hospitality from the city manager and his planning manager, Mr. Bob Richardson. At the beginning of the day, I was allowed to join the staff monthly meeting chaired by the city planning manager. The meeting was about their work plan during the week. During the meeting, I was asked to introduce myself and explain briefly about my project so that they could place me in the right division as well as put me in contact with people working in relation to my interest. The staffs here in the city hall are so friendly and helpful and they were so curious about my project as well as my country, Cambodia.
Today I was again allowed to attend the Director’s meeting where the directors from all the divisions in the city meet and discuss about the development plan as well as the issues happened in city during the last few weeks. Today meeting was more about the city budget plan as the public budget hearing has been scheduled for tomorrow afternoon.
I am really impressed by the way people work here in the U.S. local government. They place the right person in the right place meaning that they have enough expertise in each division and they are placed to work in the field that is directly relevant to their background and skills. Other than that, they are very open to new ideas and criticism. I am planning to attend the public budget hearing tomorrow and I hope to learn more on how local people engage in process of the city budget plan and to what extent are their opinions taken into consideration.
I have already planned with the city planning manager for the site visits next week to the wastewater treatment facilities and solid waste landfill and I am sure that I will learn a lot from their local experts here in Albany.