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Affordable Housing Segregation
Government policy has to get away from segregating neighborhoods

The term "ghetto" originated from the name of the Jewish quarter in Venice, Italy. Venetian authorities compelled the city's Jews to live in the quarter, which was established in 1516. The African-American ghetto is a creation of the twentieth century. Fifty years after the repeal of Jim Crow, many African-Americans still live in segregated ghettos in the country's metropolitan areas.

Richard Rothstein, a research associate at the Economic Policy Institute, has spent years studying the history of residential segregation in America. His assertion is that the government created the modern ghetto. “A ghetto is, as I define it, a neighborhood which is homogeneous and from which there are serious barriers to exit. That’s the technical definition of a ghetto.” He goes on to say that government policy has taken integrated neighborhoods and made them segregated.

Where public housing or subsidized housing is meant to provide affordable housing to a diversified class of citizens, it runs the risk of creating segregated communities that overflows into more segregated schools, higher unemployment, higher use of public health care, and more transportation needs. Under FDR the left started taking integrated neighborhoods and converting them into segregated neighborhoods under federal government policies of the New Deal. Are they again using diversity and equity to segregate for the purpose of providing benefits or is it for control?

Representative Mark Meek (D-Clackamas) wants $1 million to expand the accessory dwelling unit community pilot program for low-income rental homes. HB 3335 allocates funds to the Hacienda Community.

Development Corporation to assess suitable property for siting and construction of an Accessory Dwelling Unit in an area outside of Portland. For a homeowner to be eligible for an ADU construction, their income must be at or below the area median income. If a nonprofit organization owns a home, it must be rented to a household with an income at or below the area median income. HB 3335 requires the Hacienda Community Development Corporation provide professional property management services for the eligible homeowners receiving grants. If a homeowner submits to the project, they are micromanaged for upkeep and compliance for 10 years, or under penalty to repay grant monies.

HB 3335 passed out of the Full Ways and Means Committee headed to the House floor for a vote. Two other bills that have made it through the process: HB 2708 allows the Department of Land Conservation and Development to approve local governments' plans for urban growth boundary expansion areas if 30 percent is used for affordable housing for no less than 50 years. It died in committee.

How does a state provide affordable housing without creating class-based or segregated communities that turn into ghettos? Some bills offer grants to organizations providing assistance to find housing, including low-income, mentally disabled, and minorities. And, many bills that allowed tax credits for construction of affordable housing that would have integrated them throughout the community were turned down.

In order to get away from segregation, government policy has to get away from taking integrated neighborhoods and segregating them through policy.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-06-21 08:36:37Last Update: 2021-06-21 09:00:32

Nearman Appointment Attacked by Proposal
One would presume that such a bill has support in the House.

In a move clearly directed against former State Representative Mike Nearman, a bill has been introduced in the Oregon House to prohibit a person who has been expelled from the legislature to be appointed back to their seat. Representative Nearman was expelled from the Legislature last week. He has submitted a form indicating his willingness to serve if appointed.

HB 3413, introduced by State Representative Marty Wilde (D-Eugene) creates the prohibition. One would presume that such a bill has support in the House. It's less clear in the Senate.

This bill is just one more in a series of election reform bills designed to thwart Republican political activity. Earlier this session, SB 865 was proposed by Senators Lynn Findley (R-Vale), Bill Hansell (R-Athena) and Rob Wagner (D-Lake Oswego) to prohibit a person from simultaneously serving as holder of state office and as officer of state central committee of political party. Currently, Senator Dallas Heard (R-Roseburg) is the Chair of the Oregon Republican Party and Senator Dennis Linthicum (R-Klamath Falls) is the Treasurer.

The Convention of Precinct Committeepersons to select nominees for Nearman's seat in House District 23 is set for Friday. Some of Nearman's supporters have pointed out that his expulsion was anti-democratic, where 59 persons who do not live in House District 23 have denied representation for the nearly 60,000 voters who do live in his district.

HB 3413 is scheduled be first read on the floor of the House today.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-06-21 08:34:58

Remembering Those Who Fought in Vietnam
Nearly 50 years after the conflict ended

SB 319 which dedicates a portion of State Capitol State Park to a Vietnam War memorial to be funded and constructed on the corner of Cottage and State Streets by a nonprofit corporation. Some think that it's about time, nearly 50 years after the conflict ended and when many who fought are no longer with us.

Vietnam was a different kind of war. Though it was fought for the undeniably noble cause of stopping the spread of Communism in Southeast Asia, the left so demonized the war that the hatred and discrimination that was directed at those who risked and even gave their lives during the war has resulted in the shameful, decades-long delay of the memorialization of these brave soldiers.

Nancy Menagh, the National President of the Gold Star Wives of America, left these thoughts with the House Committee on Rules, as they considered this bill.

When my late husband, Captain Philip Menagh, USMC, returned from Vietnam, he faced much derision and disrespect. Even when we were stationed at Camp Pendleton in the 1970’s, I felt the animosity when we would go into town -- with the tell-tale buzz cut, it was easy for anyone to spot a Marine.

My husband was killed on active duty in 1984, so he will not see this monument. But it will mean the world to me and to our children to see this monument come to fruition.

For some, the monument need to memorialize not only the brave soldiers who fought to keep Southeast Asia free from Communist tyranny, but, to remember the victims of that conflict who were the Vietnamese people -- called the "boat people" in their day -- who fled the country in great numbers for the decades following the war.

The bill will likely pass on the floor of the House this week and be presented to Governor Brown for her signature.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-06-20 17:02:23Last Update: 2021-06-20 17:34:58

Sandy Mayor Exploring Gubernatorial Run
Stan Pulliam has been making waves

Stan Pulliam was born and raised in the Sandy area and is now governing as Mayor, one of the fastest growing cities in Oregon. The Mayor made national news when he urged small businesses to open up for indoor service against Governor Brown’s risk-based rating counties on coronavirus safety measures. He stated, “a county’s smaller towns should not be held to the same standards as their urban counterparts.”

Mayor Stan, as he is called, says, ”I have had enough. My breaking point has been reached and that’s why I am exploring a gubernatorial run to bring real change and leadership to Oregon government. I’m the Mayor of Sandy—one of the fastest growing cities in Oregon. We do things differently here than what goes on in the Governor’s Mansion. We’ve found ways to get things done that help our working families without destroying our small businesses and watching our communities fall apart. As a non-partisan executive, I have experience overseeing law enforcement, infrastructure, tourism, and more. I’m ready to take this experience to the state level. But running for governor needs a commitment not just from me, but from you.”

Mayor Stan is on a statewide tour speaking with other mayors on unifying Oregon, combined with a statewide listening tour to form his gubernatorial campaign and get that commitment. He is outspoken in opposition to Governor Brown’s crippling regulations and thinks his pro-growth policies will resonate with Oregonians as a means to recover from the pandemic.

Mayor Stan says, “I am a pro-life, pro-gun, fiscal conservative Republican with a record of implementing real results for working families. I’m exploring a run for governor because I don’t want to give up on Oregon. I believe our best days are yet to come.”

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-06-20 15:13:55Last Update: 2021-06-18 15:17:09

Predatory Ed
Why do colleges have to be told to make school convenient?

If you've ever wondered if there was some vast conspiracy among institutions of higher education to suck students in, jump them though senseless hoops, all the while bleeding them of cash that they procure through mountains of debt (debt that will be tough to pay back if they pick a Mickey Mouse course of study or don't finish), you may be onto something.

Higher Education may be -- like much of government -- slow and clunky, but at the end of the day, they should have the student's best interests at heart. The long run objective should be to work hard to help all students achieve life-fulfilling learning. Higher Ed is about knowledge and the last thing Universities have on their mind is money, especially tuition money, which is hard to come by for many students.

SB 233 might make you go back to being a conspiracy theorist. This bill requires schools to have a common system of course numbers and easy transfer policies for commonly transferred lower-division courses. Calculus is calculus, no matter where you take it. And after all, why wouldn't colleges want to support students on a path to success, at the very least by numbering courses and accepting transfer credits? Apparently, they need to be told by the Legislature. Emily Wanous, the Legislative Director for the Oregon Student's Association provided this testimony, during the committee hearing on SB 233:

According to the HECC report, approximately half of state public university students in Oregon have transferred from an Oregon community college each year. This work is urgent and necessary considering the number of students going through the transfer process every year who experience the myriad of issues when it comes to transferring their credits from one institution to another. Far too often, students are faced with the reality of retaking and repaying for courses they have already completed purely due to the lack of continuity between institutions. Transferring is often looked at on the campus level, which does little to increase the cohesion we need across institutions.

We recognize transfer has and continues to be an issue for many of our students. This bill would make the transfer work more intentional and guided for statewide success. A common course numbering system will not solve all issues in transfer, but it is a great step in making Oregon’s transfer system more efficient and most importantly: easier on students.

For Wanous, it's a shame that this issue (which is as old as some of the ivy-covered buildings at these institutions) is not resolved, and it's a shame that the Oregon Legislature has to tell them what to do, for some over a century after their founding.

The Legislature has had to take a similar tack with requiring colleges to let the students know the cost of a class before the student enrolls. In previous sessions, the legislature has had to prop up a program for modular, online, low-cost textbooks -- something that some think the colleges should have done long ago.

State legislators on Thursday also passed HB 2919 which will require the higher education institutions to clearly display the costs of course materials, such as textbooks, at the time students are registering for classes.

The House will most likely vote on the floor on SB 233 this week.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-06-19 16:38:34Last Update: 2021-06-19 17:54:10

Closed Out of the Legislative Process
Virtual access isn’t cutting it

The end of the 2021 Legislative Session is a week away, and everything is in fast pace. The public has been locked out of the capitol for hearings, and technical issues have prevented many from testifying. But it goes deeper, procedures are set to determine the outcome halfway through the process. Bills that have a financial impact are sent to the Joint Committee on Ways and Means directly from the originating committee.

Before we go further, the process is for a bill to work through both Houses refining the policy issues, but there doesn’t seem to be any history of how a bill needing financial appropriations is allowed to interrupt that process. It has been done this way for the past 15 years -- as far back as OLIS records go.

There is bi-partisan questioning of this process. Senator Chris Gorsek (D-Troutdale) and Senator Bill Hansell (R-Athena) were both concerned with the process and Gorsek stated “it’s unfortunately how these things are structured because subcommittees aren’t setup to deal with policy.” Hansell agreed and questioned having big package bills rushed through by the subcommittee and not given “due process” venting for policy.

When the originating committee completes its review on a bill that has a financial impact, they pass it out to the Joint Committee on Ways and Means. There they are farmed out to subcommittees for a work session to chew over amendments for funding requests. This is done in a vacuum as if there were unlimited funds. The bill has not been fully vented by both houses, so in essence, their vote is based on their own agenda and moral views on what the bill does. The bill is then returned to the full Ways and Means committee, which takes the recommendation of the subcommittee and drills through our money like there is no tomorrow.

The Full Joint Committee on Ways and Means is simply a test of whether the bill will pass on the floor. There is no real discussion in work sessions. All the work is done behind closed doors balancing budget items within the statutory limits based on what the committee leaders want to see funded. That’s the only way that Ways and Means can possible get votes on 44 bills in 2-3 hours on the agenda this week. Included on the list are five full agency budgets. These bills are only heard in Ways and Means Subcommittees.

The Oregon State Legislature website says, “A bill may be introduced in either the Senate or the House with the exception of revenue bills which must originate in the House.” Still, three of the agency budget bills on the agenda were introduced and assigned by the President of the Senate.

What this process does, by going through Ways and Means before it goes to the second House, is it makes the second House simply a formality without meaning. By the time it reaches the second House everything is settled.

The process doesn’t just short cut the process, but it denies half of our representation. It also denies us the public hearing opportunity to be heard when it counts, prior to decisions made. Quite often a bill is heard in the first house before many are aware of its existence, and now the hearing in the second house has been rendered meaningless.

When one party controls both Houses and the Administration, it doesn’t leave any room for opposition.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-06-19 15:55:01Last Update: 2021-06-19 16:08:46

Flip-flopping Authority
The OHA lacks a cohesive strategic plan

The Oregon Legislative Assembly established the Housing for Mental Health Fund in 2015 when it dedicated $20 million in lottery bonds and housed the fund in the Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS). These funds were to provide financial assistance for the development, acquisition, renovation or improvement of affordable housing for Oregonians who have mental illnesses or addiction disorders.

In 2017, HB 3063 brings the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) in as collaborator on how to distribute the funds by convening an advisory group to make recommendations for the Housing for Mental Health Fun.

Fast forward to this session, Representative Andrea Salinas, (D-Lake Oswego) introduced HB 2316 transferring responsibility for administering the Housing for Mental Health Fund from HCSD to OHA and changes the name to the Behavioral Health Housing Incentive Fund. The directives stay the same carrying out provisions of ORS 458.385, so perhaps the name change is to appear more like a health issue rather than a housing issue, or maybe it’s an indication of more changes to the use of the funds.

What is puzzling about this bill is that when searching Oregon.gov, the Housing for Mental Health Fund isn’t found, except for this bill. OHCS lacks any reference to mental health housing needs. However, the bill may be codifying what is in practice since OHA, Behavioral Health Services, Affordable Housing unit provides an affordable housing inventory listing. But there is still no mention of the Housing for Mental Health Fund. It does beg the question as to how $20 million lottery funds were spent, and spent equitably when the fund can’t be searched.

Along with this bill, there are 172 bills introduced this legislative session aimed at adding more responsibility to the Oregon Health Authority, with little accountability. OHA Director, Pat Allen, has stood by Governor Brown’s decisions and supporting her “powers of persuasion” issuing Guidelines as though they were laws. Whatever the Governor wants proof for, he makes sure the numbers are there. Is there some kind of payback reflected in building an OHA empire?

Many of the 172 are studies aimed at the probability of new programs, some are collaboration with other agencies, some expand existing programs or give new direction, but sixteen are clearly new programs to the agency and two transfer the administration of a program from another agency to OHA. The Secretary of State’s audited Oregon’s Mental Health in 2020 indicating the statues do not fully support mental health service delivery. Oregon lacks a vision for behavioral health, OHA lacks a cohesive strategic plan with high turnover in staff affecting delivery of care, and accountability needs improving. This is the department we entrust care of our most vulnerable.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-06-18 22:42:04Last Update: 2021-06-18 22:46:49

Eviction Moratorium Extended
Property owners may have a chance to recover lost revenue

The Oregon House has passed SB 278 to extend eviction protections for tenants who applied for renters assistance. Added to the bill is an amendment negotiated by House Republicans that will allow property owners to seek the full amount of rent deferred by the COVID-19 emergency.

This part of the amendment reads:

The Housing and Community Services Department shall make distributions to adjust the compensation under section 2 (1), chapter 3, Oregon Laws 2020 (third special session), for landlords whose applications were approved before the effective date of this 2021 Act without requiring that the landlord submit an additional application.

A previous bill, HB 4401, required property owners to forgive 20 percent of rent when the state reopens. Now they will be able to get the full amount of rent lost in order to repay mortgage loans, cover deferred maintenance or necessary repairs, and pay for property taxes. The Oregon Legislature passed $150 million in compensation for housing providers, but that was not enough to cover the losses.

“It’s important that we help Oregonians recover, and that includes property owners who kept people housed during the pandemic,” said House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby). “We have to make a promise that Oregon will continue to be a state with sensible housing policies that allow property owners to collect rent in order operate. We can’t afford an exodus of landlords which will exacerbate the housing crisis.”

Photo by Zachary Keimig on Unsplash

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-06-18 07:08:11Last Update: 2021-06-17 16:14:37

Nearman Files to be Appointed to His Former Seat
“Several people from my district have reached out to me”

State Representative Mike Nearman has ended speculation about whether he will try to regain his old office and has filed a form indicating his willingness to serve, if appointed. The Oregon Republican Party will host a House District 23 Nominating Convention on Friday, June 25, when -- according to Oregon law -- the Precinct Committeepersons from House District 23 will nominate between 3 and 5 persons to present to the county commissioners. The district includes parts of four counties: Polk, Yamhill, Marion and Benton.

Nearman was expelled from the Oregon House of Representatives on June 10 of this year by a vote of 59-1. He was first elected to the seat in 2014.

"Several people from my district have reached out to me and urged me to run," said Nearman. "I think many of them are upset that their choice for State Representative was removed by 59 people who don't live in the district." Nearman teased the idea on the Lars Larson show on June 11 and speculation has been rampant as to whether or not he was serious.

All of the votes, both from the Precinct Committeepersons and the County Commissioners are weighted so that they reflect the number of persons represented.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-06-17 16:14:37Last Update: 2021-06-17 18:29:29

Tenants and Housing Providers Need Streamlined Process For Housing Assistance
Housing providers have repeatedly been promised they would be made whole

On June 30, the eviction moratorium will end, requiring tenants to start paying their bills but will allow months to repay any back rent from the last year. Yet two recent programs designed to alleviate the impact of evictions and delinquent payment, the Landlord Compensation Fund, and the Emergency Rental Assistance Program, have been delayed by bureaucratic technical errors.

“For months, lawmakers have known that this day would come, that the eviction moratorium would come to an end,” said Senator Dick Anderson (R-Lincoln City), a member of the Senate Housing and Development Committee. “This is the second time this year our state housing agency has made a commitment to vulnerable Oregonians in need of help and has failed. Kicking the can down the road by extending the moratorium won’t fix the problem. There needs to be a change in the system, and it needs to happen fast.

“In my conversations with advocates and service providers, the biggest problem is the software that is being used to administer applications and funds. It's not flexible enough to get help to those who need it on time. Without any change from the government, there isn’t any guarantee that the proposed 60-day eviction moratorium extension will be enough. We may just be back in the same position, scrambling to keep people housed.”

Housing providers have repeatedly been promised they would be made whole by lawmakers. Yet the latest move to extend the moratorium another 60 days has them worried that money will be delayed again. Lawsuits against the state loom, if this doesn't get resolved and many experts think that the housing providers have a good case, since they were effectively required to run a welfare program out of their back pockets.

“Nobody wants to see people lose their homes,” Sen. Anderson continued. “Government failures might cause that to happen. Tenants and housing providers need a fix fast if we want people to stay in their homes.”

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-06-17 14:43:46

Entire Portland Police Team Resigns
Primary role has been crowd events

On June 16, 2021, Portland Police Bureau employees serving as members of the Rapid Response Team (RRT) left their voluntary positions and no longer comprise a team. Its members were sworn employees of the Portland Police who served on RRT in addition to their daily assignment in the Bureau. Despite no longer serving on RRT, they will continue in their regular assignments. There were approximately 50 employees serving as RRT members.

The Rapid Response Team is an all-hazard incident response team that has received advanced specialized training to respond to incidents requiring higher levels of technical expertise including public order policing, natural or man-made disasters. The primary role has been to provide public safety at crowd events when there was a threat of harm to the community. All Rapid Response Team members are trained in advanced skills related to crowd management and crowd control including crowd psychology and behavior, team formations and movements, the use of enhanced personal protective equipment, use of force, de-escalation and arrests.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-06-17 10:59:11Last Update: 2021-06-17 11:11:45

Legislation Will Shield Public Records Advocate from Political Interference
The bill has broad support from journalists and advocates

The Oregon Senate passed SB 500, introduced by Senator Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer) on a vote of 28-1. Under the legislation, the public records advocate will become an independent office, giving it separation from the Governor and political influence.

By creating an independent office, the public records advocate would be granted more autonomy, rather than the position and office being under the governor’s control.

“The public’s access to government records shouldn’t be political,” said Senator Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer), author of the legislation. “This bill will rebuild trust between Oregonians and their government. It will ensure more transparency and accountability in the handling of public records.”

Since 2019, two public records advocates appointed by the Governor have resigned. Ginger McCall had alleged political pressure from the Governor’s office in handling public records requests. Becky Chiao also resigned after concerns arose over her objection to making the office independent from politics.

The bill has broad support from journalists, advocates, and the current public records advocate, Todd Albert.

In written testimony in support of SB 500, Albert said that making the office independent would “focus its limited resources on continuing the day-to-day work of being an impartial, consistently reliable office that has become a trusted voice in the ongoing conversation about transparency and access to information in Oregon.”

The bill will now head to the House for consideration.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-06-16 11:34:49Last Update: 2021-06-18 15:13:55

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