During the legislative session, I think the Captiol building should be...
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Vaccines: Who Gets it and Who Doesn’t
Winners and losers and how the are picked

As COVID-19 vaccines are distributed to states, they are then distributed to the public according to a formula developed by each state. In oregon, Oregon Health Authority websiteseveral phases have been identified to earmark the vaccine to be administered.

Everyone is Phase 1A, Groups 1, 2, 3 and 4 are currently eligible for the vaccine.

Group 1
Group 2
Group 3
Group 4
Phase 1B, IC and Phase 2 have yet to be specifically determined, but the Oregon Health Authority is beginning to map out who will be next. Adding to the complexity of vaccine administration is that both the Moderna and the Pfizer vaccines require two injections. First, a priming dose must be given, followed by a booster shot. The interval between Moderna doses is 28 days. The Pfizer vaccine's interval is 21 days.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-01-15 08:22:27Last Update: 2021-01-15 14:04:44

Gov. Brown Visits Vaccine Administration Site
Government rationing of vaccine slows the pace

As Oregon stumbles to get vaccines distributed to certain selected members of the public, Oregon Governor Kate Brown visited Salem Health's vaccination clinic at the Oregon State Fairgrounds, where she visited with Oregon National Guard members who are administering vaccines at the clinic, spoke with community members in the 1a vaccination group who were attending the clinic, and met with officials from Salem Health. The Governor was joined by Adjutant General Michael Stencel, Salem Health President and CEO Cheryl Wolfe, and Salem Health Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ralph Yates.

"Today I had the opportunity to visit with Jason, a hospice care worker who received a COVID-19 vaccine administered by Private First Class Juan Rojas," said Governor Brown. "It's truly overwhelming. As a hospice worker, not only does Jason make people feel more comfortable as they're nearing the end of their lives, he also provides massage therapy for cancer patients. With this vaccination, we're going to make sure Jason can continue this important and honorable work.

"I am very proud of the leadership of Salem Health, who stood up this vaccination clinic on their own, and who are vaccinating hundreds of people a day. They also have a great partner with the Oregon National Guard, who are providing vaccination support. We are working to develop more partnerships like this one—in communities large and small across the state—to get Oregonians vaccinated as quickly as possible."

As of this point in time, the Oregon Health Authority is reporting that 133,090 persons have been vaccinated in Oregon, or about 3% of the population. The daily record for vaccines is 12,039 on January 8. Even at that record pace, it would take over a year to get all Oregonians vaccinated.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-01-15 08:02:33

Rep. Wilde Proposes Tax on Business Aid
Put a tax on assistance. Yeah, that will work.

Representative Marty Wilde (D-Eugene) introduced HB 2253 that would “surcharge” those that received forgiven loans received as a corporate excise or personal income taxpayer through Paycheck Protection Program of Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. His proposal would apply to tax years beginning on or after January 1, 2020, and before January 1, 2021.

The Governor continues to keep Oregon closed, so businesses have resorted to alternative means to keep their businesses above the red line with the help of forgiveness loans. It has kept millions employed while unemployment has skyrocketed and many businesses have gone beyond that to keep employees in jobs. Do they get thanked? NO! They get reprimanded for making the slightest effort for survival. Those businesses not hit the hardest are expected to spread their wealth, which will ultimately put more businesses into bankrupt status.

One businessman told Northwest Observer that he was able to keep his staff and not reduce any hours even though clients cancelled. He said, “My landlord was able to collect full rent from me at the office, my utilities were able to be paid, and I was able to take what little revenue my business generated during the toughest months of the pandemic and keep my rent paid at home and my wife and baby fed and clothed.” He calculated his addition tax -- or surcharge, as it is called -- would be around $1000.

That may not sound like a lot, but another business owner said they have been in the red $4-5,000 monthly since last May, and none of the surcharge will help his business as the Governor has put her focus for relief on minority business and restaurants.

If the bill passes, any business that increased receipts by five percent over 2019 will be charged a 10% tax on moneys received under the CARES Act. How will that restore Oregon’s economy? Maybe we're not all in this together.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-01-14 20:42:14Last Update: 2021-01-14 20:53:53

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Supports Forest Management
Rule addresses a harmful court decision

This week the Associated Press reported wildfire smoke has accounted for up to half of all health-damaging small particle air pollution in the western U.S. in recent years. Even as pollution emissions declined from other sources including vehicle exhaust and power plants, the amount from fires have increased sharply, researchers said.

The news continues to illustrate the need for proactive and science-based forest management as part of the solution to reducing the risk of severe wildfire. To protect our communities, wildlife habitat, recreation, clean air and water, the federal government must allow its professional land managers to do their jobs.

Fortunately, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed a new rule changing their regulations on duplicative interagency consultations for existing Forest Plans. The rule addresses a harmful court decision, known as "Cottonwood" that has stalled many important forest management, wildlife habitat enhancement and wildfire fuel reduction projects developed by the U.S. Forest Service. Lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) are also impacted.

This solution is bipartisan. It reflects efforts by both Democratic and Republican administrations and members of the U.S. Congress to resolve lawsuits over duplicative interagency consultation procedures that have prevented work from being done on public lands.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-01-14 18:40:47Last Update: 2021-01-14 18:49:03

Public Employee Union Membership in Decline
Public workers don’t have to join a government union

Oregon’s largest government employee union, SEIU 503, had been on a decades-long winning streak prior to June 2018, when the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed in Janus v. AFSCME that mandatory union membership and/or agency fees in the public sector are a violation of the workers’ Constitutional rights.

Knowing the union had no intention of notifying its members of this landmark decision, the Freedom Foundation developed and distributed mail, emails, texts and other materials to SEIU 503 members all over Oregon to inform them of their rights.

SEIU 503s’ 2017 LM-2 report filed with the U.S. Department of Labor claimed the union had 58,384 members/fee-payers. However, by 2018 — the year Janus was decided — that number had already been whittled down to 45,741.

And with fewer paychecks to be plundered came a major reduction in the amount of dues money the union was able to spend influencing Oregon politics.

This was a victory public employees in Oregon, who now won’t have to fund political causes they don’t agree with. And the trend has only continued. According to the union’s newest report, membership declined yet again in 2020 – for the third year in a row since Janus – meaning that, in total, SEIU 503 has lost at least 15,284 members/fee payers since the decision, resulting in a $3.6 million reduction in dues revenue and a $3 million drop in spending on political and lobbying activities.

Editor's note: this article is excerpted from a post that first appeared on the Freedom Foundation website

--Josh Ebert

Post Date: 2021-01-14 17:52:42Last Update: 2021-01-14 18:40:47

Majority Party Consolidates Legislative Power
House Republican Leader Calls for Good Government Reforms and Increased Transparency

As the Oregon Legislative Session begins, and Democrats double down on the exercise of raw power, House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby) released a statement on the adopted rule changes for the upcoming 81st Legislative Session which will continue to deny direct public involvement in the legislative process:

“As I have said before, we are the people’s legislature here to do the people’s business. Once again, Democrats have passed a set of rules that require us to meet without public input or involvement as the Capitol remains closed to Oregonians. This absolute denial of all access undermines the legislative process. House Republicans requested we find a way to safely allow for the Capitol to be open on a limited basis, relying on existing public health guidance. This request was dismissed and in response Republicans proposed additional adjustments to rules to increase transparency and public engagement.

"We are kicking off a new Legislative Session where we will discuss important issues such as safely re-opening Oregon’s schools, health care liability protections and continued COVID relief for impacted individuals and small businesses. These proposals deserve a fair and inclusive discussion from all Oregonians.”

"House Republicans requested additional good government provisions to improve transparency, fairness and accountability including: A Minority Report is an amendment presented by members of a committee who are members of the minority party and are proposed to be substituted for the underlying bill.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-01-13 19:47:07

Schrader Backtracks
Oregon Congressman issues apology

Oregon Congressman Kurt Schrader (D-OR-5) issued a statement apologizing for his previous statement earlier this week, that likened impeaching Trump to a "lynching," and said it would divide the nation.

The Oregon Democrat's comments led his spokesperson, Larkin Parker, to resign. Schrader's statement said:

Over the last several days I have reached out and spoken to my colleagues, constituents and staff. The pain and harm caused by my words is immeasurable. As I work to build trust and do what is right by the people of Oregon’s 5th Congressional District, I am making the following commitments:

  1. I will participate in Diversity, Equity and Inclusion training and will ask President-elect Biden to overturn Trump’s Executive Order banning such training in the federal government workforce;
  2. Intentional hiring in my congressional offices;
  3. Specific actions I can take while serving as a Member of Congress to ensure full representation of Black, Indigenous and People of Color.

It is an honor and privilege to serve Oregonians in the United States Congress.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-01-13 13:23:51Last Update: 2021-01-13 19:52:27

Brown Activates National Guard in Salem
Will be utilized by Oregon State Police

According to a press release from the Oregon State Police, the Oregon National Guard will be utilized by OSP.

Oregon State Police Superintendent Terri Davie requested and was granted the activation of members of the Oregon National Guard to assist with potential upcoming civil unrest/protests by Governor Kate Brown.

“The Oregon State Police will continue to take a neutral role in ensuring Oregonians exercise their First Amendment rights,” said Oregon State Police Superintendent Davie. “For the past seven months, your Troopers have responded throughout Oregon to various protests, unlawful assemblies and riots. Our goals have always been to protect people, protect people’s rights and to protect property. The recent events at our Nation's Capitol building and at our own statehouse illustrate the need for law enforcement to be prepared and appropriately staffed for any large gatherings,” Davie added.

The Oregon Army National Guard will be deployed as necessary and their deployment locations will not be made public. OSP and the ONG routinely work and train together in response to Oregon’s challenges, including civil unrest, human remain recovery in the recent wildfire response and safeguarding our communities in times of crisis.

“With the Oregon National Guard supplementing OSP ranks, we will be ready to ensure peaceful events and handle emergency situations,” said Oregon State Police Captain Timothy Fox.

Oregon State Police will continue to work with our local, state and federal partners in planning for potential events at the Oregon State Capitol or any other jurisdiction in Oregon. OSP will continue to leverage their strong partnerships with local and federal law enforcement, in efforts to provide safety to legislators and employees conducting the people’s business in the Capitol.

The Oregon State Police declares they do not discuss the specifics of potential threats or tactical plans made unless it is determined there is a public safety need.

--Ben Fisher

Post Date: 2021-01-13 12:22:30Last Update: 2021-01-13 12:34:51

Clerks: Voting in Oregon is Fair
This is not Chicago

Election Integrity is on everyone’s mind these days. How does Oregon rate in the eyes of an elections expert? Surprisingly good, according to some county clerks. Let’s look at what we can do to assure there’s no fraud.

In Oregon, the counties are the only place where the voter rolls are administrated. Anyone can request and get the voter rolls from their county clerk.

Challenges to voted ballots can be made to the county clerk by any citizen of that county. Challenges to the voter rolls are complaint based.

You can find the relevant statues online

253.700 Duty to challenge ballot; procedures.

254.415 Challenging ballot of person offering to vote; statement of challenge.

254.426 Procedure on challenged ballot.

254.431 Special procedure for ballots challenged due to failure to sign return envelope or nonmatching signature; public record limitation.

The accuser can request a hearing of the county clerk. The accuser and accused appear before the clerk who adjudicates the complaint on its merits. The accused must appear, or they will go to inactive status. Voters must qualify by age and citizenship plus have a correct residential address and signature on file. Challenges can be based on legal status, proper or multiple addresses, correct signature, being deceased and being less than 18 years age. Challenging U.S. citizenship by E verify needs to be done legally.

Ballots are mailed out 20 days before an election and may be cast by U.S. mail or at a ballot drop box or in person at the Clerk’s Office any time after being received.

Survivors of deceased voters are to write “deceased” on the ballot envelope and return it in the mail, drop box or in person. The same is true for any person who receives in their mail a ballot for someone no longer living at that address – write “moved” or “no longer at this address” on the envelope and return to the Clerk’s Office.

For voters planning travel, absentee ballots may be obtained from the county clerk 29 days before an election. Voters living away but in-country are mailed ballots 29 days before elections. Military, both in-country and abroad are mailed, or emailed ballots 46 days prior to an election as are voters living out-of-country. Those choosing email sacrifice privacy. Ballots in Oregon may be returned in any county and will be forwarded to the voter’s county of residence for counting. College students, people living in vehicles and people with second homes can have only one voter registration file for voting – that file can include their residence address (where they live), their mailing address (where they receive mail) and their absentee address (where they temporarily receive mail).

Oregon counties compare names and likely eliminate multiple addresses for a voter. The county clerk updates a voter’s registration each time they receive an update. They keep a record of every change made. The voter’s registration can only have one “current” address for each of the types (residence and mailing). Each time a change is made, we mail out correspondence to that voter.

Out of state voters with multiple addresses would be detected a year late. Oregon participates in the ERIC system but the effectiveness is highly dependent on the participation level of each state.

Address changes by out-of-country voters aren’t tracked, they must be reported. When Oregon issues a driver’s license to someone 18 years of age or older their name goes to the Secretary of State if they show a U.S. Passport or a U.S. birth certificate to verify their U.S. citizenship. The SOS gives them 21 days to choose a party affiliation. If they do not respond in that time period they are assigned Non-Affiliated Voter status and their information is forwarded to the appropriate county. The SOS doesn’t describe consequences of NAV status in a primary election. Lists of voters can be obtained by anyone from the clerk’s office or the Secretary of State’s office at any time. Political Parties get a free copy each year.

Those NAV persons could be contacted and solicited to join a party so they can vote in the primary. Persons on the voter rolls are listed by name and residential address only. To get their phone number and/or email address you must work with a third party such as Oregon Data in Tigard, or Melissa Data, an out-of-state company.

The ballot counting process is done only by paid employees of the county. Volunteers and observers can’t touch ballots or envelopes. Temporary workers are hired for each election. They are screened as to impartial performance of their duties by the county clerk’s office. Counties may have to increase their staff 6 to 10 times to handle election day work load. Signature verification is done by staff specially trained in handwriting. They can check about 180 signatures an hour from the signatures on file. Ballots and envelopes with signatures are retained for two years. All election counting has been done on camera since 2005 with implementation of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA). Irregularities in recent years have been minor with none being “out of the ordinary”. For instance, Ballot measure 107 concerning campaign contribution preference had many votes changed from yes to no. Ballots can be changed up to the moment they are cast. Ballot harvesting and coaching of voters is a concern, but not illegal. To be part of the election process, work through your county clerk.

--Tom Hammer

Post Date: 2021-01-12 22:35:09Last Update: 2021-01-14 08:44:37

Legislative session starts on an unconstitutional note
Public attendance will remain illegal

If you think that such mandates as wearing masks and the increased programs for tests as well as tracking of positive results is about Covid-19 and public safety, it isn’t playing out that way.

Today, the Oregon Senate began to fulfill its constitutional mandate to conduct the people’s business in 2021.

What does that have to do with Covid-19?

It established a level of fear that the Democratically-controlled Senate passed unconstitutional rules that lock the public out of their Legislature. The Oregon Health Authority knows that the BionaxNow POC tests have a very high false positives and admit the PCR tests detect other coronaviruses and still they are recommending it’s use. It sets up a perfect reason for Governor Brown to keep from how many objects to her policies, and legislators from seeing in-person testimonies that can’t be cut off by the switch of a button.

Article 4 Section 14 of the Oregon Constitution states, “deliberations of each house… shall be open.” But under the Democrat rules, the public may not enter the Capitol, give public in-person testimony, nor view the people’s business in-person. The move continues anti-public involvement rules from last year’s legislative sessions. All the while big box stores, schools, and even the California Legislature are partially open to the public.

The people have a right to participate in their democracy,” said Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod (R-Lyons). “This participation doesn’t stop after they vote in November and locking the public out of their house is just wrong. Their input is imperative to good public policy. The decision to lock the public out of their Capitol isn’t based on science – not even close,” Leader Girod continued. “We are nearly a year into this pandemic. We have data and information on how to make public spaces safe. Some restaurants are open, big box stores are open, and even California, a state whose COVID case numbers are among the grimmest in the county, has acknowledged the importance of allowing the people to safely access their capitol.”

“Some things are sacred, and the public’s full participation in their democracy is one of those things.”

As of yesterday, California has the third-highest daily reported cases per capita in the country. Oregon is ranked 48th.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-01-12 17:55:12Last Update: 2021-01-12 18:39:45

Representative Nearman Releases Statement
Capitol building should be open to the public

Oregon Republican House District 23 Representative Mike Nearman has released the following statement:

On January 7, Senate President Peter Courtney and House Speaker Tina Kotek put out a statement on Capitol operations for the upcoming session. One of the priorities listed in the statement was "Safety – for the public, building employees, legislators and their staff." During their press conference, Speaker Kotek told the press that I “did open a door to allow demonstrators into the building.” For the last few days, I and my family have been subjected to criticism, attacks at my home and threats via email, social media and phone. Many of these messages have been hate-filled and profanity laced.

After several terms in the legislature, I've grown thick skin -- and while nobody likes to be called names and described in profane language -- I can handle it as part of the job that I do, just as I was able to handle the hundreds of public union protestors who waged a physical attack on the House chamber in 2015, as the House held a floor session.

As the Speaker pretends to know my motivations, I will guess at some of hers. The fact that she was in possession of a video for sixteen days, and only chose to reveal the video and implicate me on the day after an ugly mob descended on the Capitol in Washington, DC, tells me that her motivations are about politics and not about safety. The timing of the release is not lost on my wife, who has also had to endure a share of attacks.

I hope for due process, and not the mob justice to which Speaker Kotek is subjecting me. I also hope for a similar outcome enjoyed by her staffer, who was arrested in September for a class-A misdemeanor for interfering with a peace officer, never charged and kept her job. The District Attorney, Mike Schmidt, who never charged the Speaker's staffer for her participation in the Portland riots, was endorsed by Speaker Kotek. So much for a commitment to public safety.

I don't condone violence nor participate in it. I do think that when Article IV, Section 14 of the Oregon Constitution says that the legislative proceedings shall be "open," it means open, and as anyone who has spent the last nine months staring at a screen doing virtual meetings will tell you, it's not the same thing as being open.

Where is the media and why aren't they asking the tough questions of the Speaker? For instance, "When did you acquire the video?", "Why did you wait 16 days until January 7 to release the video?", "Did it occur to you that releasing that video on the day after the unrest in Washington, DC, that there might be a safety impact to Rep. Nearman?", "How do you know what Rep. Nearman's intent was?", "Is it hypocritical of you to employ a person who is accused of directly interfering with a police officer, while calling out Rep. Nearman for walking out a door?", and "When you publicly implicate Rep. Nearman, do you think that impacts his due process and ability to get a fair outcome?" Questions like these would expose the political nature of what is really going on.

I implore the Capitol leadership to open the building to the public as required by the Oregon Constitution.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-01-12 16:52:42Last Update: 2021-01-12 17:13:30

Youth Summit Approaching
Registration closes February 4

Teens are watching the world splitting in pieces with no answers coming from adults or leadership. How do they face life with such adversity? Teens can get help preparing for life during and after high school through the ILEAD Youth Leadership Summit, set for Saturday, Feb. 6, 2021. This free, one-day event is online this year and open to any high school-aged teen living in the Mid-Willamette Valley.

The summit will feature highly interactive workshops presented by guest speakers and teen panels. Participants choose from workshop topics covering personal and leadership development, mental health and self-care, workforce readiness and other “adulting” topics such as finances, credit, student loans, and insurance coverage.

“2020 was just a rough year for all of us, especially teens,” said Evyn Baker, a senior at West Salem High School and summit youth committee member.

His fellow committee member, Angel Franco, a junior at South Salem High School agreed. “As teens, we’re so used to going out and interacting with friends and teachers. Having school daily on a screen sounded like a dream until it happened. Now we’re left wondering what life after COVID and high school will look like.”

The youth committee decided to do something about it by bringing “sunshine vibes to the Mid-Willamette Valley.” Members representing Salem-Keizer, Central, and Woodburn school districts wanted to offer an online event experience where high schoolers could laugh, feel safe, improve their well-being, and reconnect with peers from the safety of their homes.

“I feel like the older I become, the more anxiety and stress I get from both school and knowing that I’m getting closer to becoming an adult,” said Jennifer Valdivia an 11th grader at McKay High School. “It’s just a very scary thought, especially when you have no idea how to do taxes, rent a house, or just don’t know what you want do after high school.” Youth Committee members hope the summit will begin to help their classmates who feel the same way.

Registration closes February 4, 2021. Registration link is found on the event website including a video tutorial on how to sign up for workshops. The event runs from 10:00 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and includes games, challenges, raffle prizes, breaks, a LIVE lounge, an event T-shirt and other swag for all teen participants.

Coordinated by the City of Salem Youth Development Services, ILEAD is produced each year by a youth committee, college student event staff, and a planning committee made up of local youth development, prevention, and workforce readiness professionals. Marion County Health and Human Services and City of Salem are the 2021 sponsors.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-01-11 19:36:22Last Update: 2021-01-11 19:47:07

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