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Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely
If you can’t beat ‘em, water ‘em down.

In what world is it okay for a sitting legislator to leverage his position to alter the people’s vote and voice? State Representative Paul Evans is attempting to do just that.

The Northwest Observer has received a copy of a letter sent to the Board of Directors of the Salem-Keizer Schools by Democrat lawmaker, Paul Evans that includes a thinly veiled threat and promise of future legislation that changes the rules of democracy. Don’t like the outcomes of an election? If you are a Democrat in a Super Majority, just change the rules to suit your agenda.

Salem-Keizer school board recently voted in a new Chairman, Satya Chandragiri MD this past July. He was first elected to the board in 2019. Prior to this vote, there had been and remains, significant pushback in personal attacks and character assassinations against conservative board members who have been elected through a full and fair election. Most recently the board voted to adjust public comments to remain inclusive while keeping the discussion civil and polite. Salem-Keizer has one of the most open and transparent school board websites and meetings allow for robust public input. Salem-Keizer has two different times allotted for public comment related to both the agenda and other non-agenda items with ample time to participate via video and written testimony. School board member, Marty Heyen voted in support of the change of the tone to public comments, “There’s nothing wrong with asking them to be polite.”

For context, Representative Evans sent a letter to the Salem Keizer School District objecting to these public input changes. The Board Chair, Satya Chandragiri sent an email to the Representative explaining the rationale behind the new policy. That reply was met with the political threat from Representative Evans.

This is the decorum in the State Capitol, where the testifying public is asked not to impugn legislators and remain on topic. Legal counsel, Paul Dakopolos said the amendment wasn’t legally needed on limiting vitriol. In light of the sensitive environment of equitable advocacy, issue of SROS’s and the new ODE and Governor Brown directives to remove all hate symbols, Chair Chandragiri said the amendment is not meant to silence anyone but will help them be a trauma informed community. You can view public comments in both English and Spanish on the video stream from the December 9 work session where the public is still falsely accusing board members of being with supremacists as they have since March. The driving force behind these attacks appear to be led by bitter Democrat groups such as LUS or Latinos Unidos Siempre and PCUN or Pineros y Campesinos Unidos del Noroeste. The controversy continues because the Democrats cannot stand the fact they lost the school board election last year. Ironically, LUS has been on the workforce group tasked with reviewing the issue of exclusionary discipline.

In spite of the open policies at Salem-Keizer School Board, Representative Paul Evans is calling for a subversion of the entire democratic process.

Mr. Chairman: This letter is a formal notice of my intention to increase the formal nature of the relationship between the State of Oregon and Salem-Keizer School District 24j. Your recent actions underscore the unintended consequences of benign neglect. Your board has drifted because of a lack of support. Therefore, I have drafted – and shall seek to advance for passage – legislation that adds appointed positions (Governor appointed, Senate-confirmed) in equal number to elected positions and legislation that transforms the zone-based elections model to an at-large, position-based model.

This new governance model should provide our state and community a blended “best practices” approach for resolving our short-term and long-term challenges. It will provide for a more effective and efficient model for expanding dialogue, increasing equity, and policies that are the result of thoughtful, transparent decision-making. Your actions limiting the input for the men and women you represent have served to ring the bell for all of us: there is an exigent need for real, transformative change at 24j. We shall answer the call.

To be clear, this is a board-packing maneuver in which because he doesn't like the makeup of the board, he wants to create new board positions -- unelected -- that are more likely to share his political vision.

Undemocratic moves like this are the reason we have a state beholden to Democrats in control of every facet of our lives whether it’s the packed courts or other government agencies. Don’t Oregon Democrats have enough power? Pat Allen of OHA was appointed by Kate Brown and he has been in charge of creating all the sector guidance for the duration of the Covid-19 lockdowns. Oregon Director of Education, Colt Gill was appointed by Governor Brown and the list goes on.

This new model insisted on by Representative Evans will have far reaching consequences. It will not expand equity or improve transparency and a state representative who thinks his solution is “best practices’ for Oregonians, does not serve his constituency well.

--Nicole DeGraff

Post Date: 2020-12-22 16:35:29Last Update: 2020-12-22 20:50:33

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