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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

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

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

Lane County Businessman Darin Harbick Announces for Governor
He says he understands budget, law, and most importantly how to listen

More and more people are thinking this state needs a business owner for governor to get us in the right direction. Darin Harbick thinks he has the experience, even though he isn’t political. He is selling his Takoda’s Restaurant to his daughter and son-in-law to give him the time to run for governor.

Darin Harbick has experienced first-hand the obstacles of building a business from the ground up and wants to help those Oregonians who have aspirations of owning a business. At one time Darin operated five businesses and managed over 100 employees. When he learned about the need in Oregon to help those with mental health problems, opioid addiction, and homelessness he and his wife, Kail, began a five-bed recovery center for those who are suffering.

Darin Harbick, born and raised in Lane County, has served 14 years on the McKenzie School Board, 15 years on the Chamber of Commerce Board and 3 years on Travel Lane County. At the same time, he owned and operated his businesses and served his local community. He coached a girls’ high school basketball team to State Championship. He also coached women’s basketball at a private college in Eugene.

He has a strong sense of community helping fire victims, moving logs and trees so people can rebuild their homes. He also owns and drives a log truck like his father before him.

From his fourteen years of experience on the school board, he says he understands budget, law, and most importantly how to support parents and listen carefully to their concerns about their children’s education. His friends say Darin is not one to see a problem and hope somebody else does something. He will get involved to help bring the change.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-06-15 20:21:03Last Update: 2021-06-16 01:16:27

Brown Urged to Fully Open the State
The state is getting close to the artificial threshold of 70%

In a letter to Governor Kate Brown House Republican Leader Christine Drazan scolded the Governor for the level of COVID-19 restrictions still in place in Oregon and asked her to consider easing restrictions, comparing Oregon to California and other states.

We urge you to join California today by reopening Oregon immediately and rescinding the COVID-19 emergency orders in the state. Oregon does not need to be the most restrictive state on the West Coast, or one of the last states to reopen nationwide. Oregonians have sacrificed so much during this pandemic. We should recognize their contributions by reopening the state at the same time as our neighbors.

Hospitals are much better equipped to treat COVID-19 patients, and vaccines have greatly reduced the potential for emergency room visits for our at-risk population. The effectiveness of natural immunity is very promising. If we include Oregonians with natural immunity, then we are well above the 70 percent threshold to reopen the state.

Oregonians have been through enough. They do not need to wait another day. Vaccines are readily available and individuals can still wear masks if they choose. It is time for the state to return to normal by lifting emergency orders now.

Oregon has failed to develop policies that address natural immunity that is acquired by persons who have had COVID-19 and recovered. About 5% of Oregon's population has natural immunity to COVID1-19 and some think that these should be classified with the vaccinated. The state is getting close to the artificial threshold of 70% but the rate of vaccinations is slowing, making that target ever elusive.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-06-15 12:45:36Last Update: 2021-06-15 16:21:03

Utopian Spending Mandates
Lots and lots of free stuff

The Oregon Legislature has passed SJR 12, which refers Measure 401 to the voters. If approved by the voters, it would add to the Oregon Constitution, a right of every Oregonian to receive health care and require the State of Oregon to fund this right.

Though Oregon is very close to having nearly all Oregonians with some kind of health care, the passage of this measure could be very expensive for the state. One can easily imagine what happens when an industry whose costs are spiraling out of control secures a mandate that government pay the bill. If you think there's little incentive for the health care industry to control costs now, wait until they can send unlimited invoices to the government, which is required to pay them.

This isn't the first time Oregonians have been presented with a chance to get the government to fully fund an industry. At the turn of the century, education activists -- driven by teachers' unions and spearheaded by then Governor John Kitzhaber -- proposed a ballot measure to change the Oregon Constitution which would require the state to fully fund education at levels to achieve goals set by Oregon law. The voters overwhelmingly approved it by a vote of 66%. Article VIII, Section 8 of the Oregon Constitution now reads:

Adequate and Equitable Funding. (1) The Legislative Assembly shall appropriate in each biennium a sum of money sufficient to ensure that the state's system of public education meets quality goals established by law, and publish a report that either demonstrates the appropriation is sufficient, or identifies the reasons for the insufficiency, its extent, and its impact on the ability of the state's system of public education to meet those goals.

Soon after, a lawsuit was filed, Pendleton School District v. State of Oregon, by 18 school districts and seven students demanding more funding based on this provision. The case made it's way to the Oregon Supreme Court where the court decided that, though the state was not adequately funding education, the voters did not intend for the courts to enforce it.

Might the same thing happen with health care funding? As with education funding, the voters are presented with an unarguable good -- then education, now health care -- that's hard to vote against. As with education, the state is merely required to fund it. No funding mechanism or revenue source is identified, making it easier for the voters to support. Like education funding, health care funding might find a similar fate, as idealists propose a utopian solution, and a sober state finds a way to not fund the dream.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-06-14 15:33:11Last Update: 2021-06-14 16:56:15

House Republicans Push to Ban Vaccine Passports in Oregon
House Democrats unite to maintain controversial policy option

Oregon House Republicans have voted in favor of banning vaccine passports in Oregon. However, the motion to pull HB 3407, introduced by Mark Owens from the Speaker’s desk failed on party lines.

The requirement for businesses to check the vaccination status of customers before they can remove their mask has been the focus of criticism from Oregonians, labor groups and businesses.

This legislation would prevent any public body - state, local or special government body - from issuing a requirement for proof of vaccination through a vaccine passport from COVID-19 or variants of COVID-19.

“This bill protects Oregonians’ rights to privacy,” said House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby). “We’ve already seen public opposition for the Governor’s vaccine verification executive order. We’re the only state in the country with this kind of mandate. People deserve the right to keep this confidential medical information private without a mask requirement.”

In order to prevent discriminatory actions and repercussions, the bill would prohibit a person or public body from being able to legally require an individual to state or document vaccine status against COVID-19 to access credit, insurance, education, facilities, medical services, housing or accommodations, travel, entry into this state, employment or purchase goods or services.

It would also prohibit these entities from being legally able to require an individual to wear a face covering if the individual does not wish to disclose vaccine status.

The bill applies only to the COVID-19 vaccinations.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-06-14 09:58:31Last Update: 2021-06-14 14:39:54

Brownfields are a Business Opportunity
Equal opportunity or Equity?

Two federal cases are redefining diversity policies according to the constitution and these might have an impact on Oregon.

First, U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor ruled to approve a temporary restraining order forbidding President Biden’s administration from giving out grants in a program aimed at prioritizing applicants due to their race and/or gender and told plaintiff, Philip Greer, he is likely to succeed. Greer prepared an application on behalf of his restaurant and is otherwise eligible to receive Restaurant Revitalization Fund grant, but for the allegedly unconstitutional prioritization scheme.

More recently federal Judge William Griesbach in Wisconsin sided with White farmers and ranchers, including Adam Faust, a double amputee and the owner of a dairy farm. The judge issued a temporary restraining order on the Department of Agriculture program that was to start paying out and forgive loans for Black and other minority farmers. The assistance program, which was passed by the Senate as part of the Biden administration’s $1.9 trillion stimulus relief package, was intended to correct long-standing disadvantages faced by Black, Latino, and other minority farmers in getting loans from banks and the government. The plaintiffs argue the program is unconstitutional because it discriminates against them.

White farmers in other regions of the country are also suing the debt relief program. Adding to the constitutional issue is the prohibition by the Civil Rights Act of 1864. Loans based on race and sex are not allowable under Title VI.

COVID-19 has been used as an excuse for disproportionately affecting communities of color making it more difficult to access relief programs due to systemic racism and other issues. But judges aren’t buying the argument. Representative Ken Helm (D-Portland) and Senator Lew Frederick (D-Portland) are tempting Oregon businesses to join suits by introducing HB 2518. This bill establishes and allocates funding to the Oregon Brownfield Properties Revitalization Fund to support a forgivable loan program for owners or operators of brownfield properties that incur eligible costs in the recovery of the brownfield property. A brownfield is a former industrial site that is environmentally contaminated

HB 2518 runs into shady territory by requiring Business Oregon to develop the forgivable loan program for minority-owned and woman-owned businesses, and emerging small businesses controlled by socially disadvantaged individuals as defined in ORS 200.005. That definition identifies businesses owned and controlled by women, veterans, and people deemed “socially and economically disadvantaged.” A minority-owned business is at least 51 percent controlled by minority individuals, women or disabled veterans. Minority individuals are any race but White.

HB 2518 strays from its focus on restoring brownfields and obligates the state -- that is, the taxpayers -- to pay for the restoration so social disadvantaged can use it for businesses. It seems the legislators have been doing the two-step skirting around federal laws on a number of fronts. Governor Brown physically changed Oregon’s objective from equal to equity. Equity is the opposite of equal opportunity. Equity demands an equal outcome and that only happens when you gerrymander to favor one group over another.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-06-14 08:42:43Last Update: 2021-06-14 09:58:31

The Road to 70%
"Oregon is so close to more fully reopening our economy”

As Oregon limps toward a 70% vaccination rate, we're sitting within sight of the target and the rate at which people are being vaccinated is dropping seriously.

It's not hard to speculate as to why the rate of vaccination is dropping. Those willing to be vaccinated -- some people would have crawled across broken glass to get the vaccine -- have all been done. Large, easy to herd groups that would be considered low-hanging fruit by the number-counters have probably been done. These would be large employers, large living situations, etc.

What's left on the last few uphill miles on the road to 70% are people with medical issues who are reluctant to get the vaccine, and rural, hard-to-reach people who, in addition to being hard to get to, might not be so warm to getting the vaccine. Part of getting some people to get the vaccine involves trust and it seems that trust has been trampled on at nearly every turn by the Governor and the Oregon Health Authority.

"Oregon is so close to more fully reopening our economy, and I am grateful to everyone who has stepped up to get vaccinated. We will soon need to reach fewer than 100,000 Oregonians to achieve our statewide vaccination goal of 70% and lift the county risk level framework," said Governor Kate Brown.

Democrat Counties are doing better than rural ones. Washington and Hood River Counties lead with 71%, followed by Multnomah and Benton Counties with 70%. Vaccines seem not to be a priority in Lake County where scant more than a third of the residents have been vaccinated. Are the low numbers in Eastern Oregon due to an inability to overcome the logistical challenges of administering vaccines to a sparse population, or to the population's resistance to getting vaccinated -- perhaps driven by the sparseness of the population. Someone who lives 30 miles from the nearest town and 10 miles from the nearest neighbor might not see the need.

Though there doesn't seem to be any basis in science for the threshold of 70%, it's an important number. We're getting to the point where the continued COVID-19 regulations will have more than just economic consequences. They will have political consequences.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-06-13 20:37:24Last Update: 2021-06-14 08:42:43

Segregating Students
Studies that segregate are demoralizing the groups they are intended to benefit

If you are one of many that look at bill sponsors to give you an idea of which way the bill might be leaning, that all goes out the window when a bill is “gut-and-stuffed.” Take for example HB 2962. It was introduced with bi-partisan sponsors directing school districts to evaluate instructional needs of students as a result of school closures due to COVID-19 and to report summaries of evaluations to Department of Education. But, before the first hearing took place, one of the sponsors proposed a “gut-and-stuff” amendment changing the trajectory of the bill.

Representative Teresa Alonso León (D- Woodburn) cosponsored HB 2962, but turned on her cosponsors and submitted an amendment that now requires the Legislative Policy and Research Director to conduct a study based on disaggregated data of student groups, including students from racial or ethnic groups that have historically experienced academic disparities, students who have a disability, economically disadvantaged students, students from different geographic regions of this state, students who are parents and students who are English language learners -- now in the Ways & Means Committee.

Science News reports that education researchers have found major flaws in the education policy aiming to have ability groupings as the norm in key subjects. Two new separate studies show that sorting school children into sets is neither an accurate way of assessing ability, nor is it beneficial to their learning. The study, which analyzed the results of different methods of teaching math in three American high schools, found that an approach that involved students not being divided into ability groups, but being given a shared responsibility for each other's learning, led to a significant improvement in the achievements of high and low achieving students alike. The approach had further benefits in that it taught students to take responsibility for each other and to regard that responsibility as an important part of life.

Professor Jo Boaler, Stanford associate professor of education, states that her "recent study of a new system of grouping in the US showed that the system benefited students at high and low levels and the high attaining students were the most advantaged by the mixed ability grouping, because they had opportunities to learn work in greater depth."

Studies that segregate are demoralizing the groups they are intended to benefit by singling them out for specific help. The studies show that challenging students equally and together produces far higher results.

There are other useful research requirements in HB 2962, but it is now looking for one solution to fit the entire state and removes flexibility from school boards to adapt to their district’s own needs.

Other bills that tout this disaggregation of students into groups are: We all agree that student’s reaction to the lockdowns went unnoticed too long and now we need to open our schools and let them thrive.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-06-13 07:43:40Last Update: 2021-06-12 17:55:24

The Voice of Science in the Legislature
Much of what he has been saying over the years is becoming reality

Art Robinson is a biochemist and a longtime Southern Oregon resident and a Constitutional conservative. He has spent decades standing up to radical environmentalists who continue to threaten our most vital industries like logging, ranching, farming and mining. After repeated defeats for Peter DeFazio’s seat in Congress, he saw a win in replacing Senator Herman Baertschiger for State Senate District 2, which includes Josephine and Northern Jackson counties and the towns of Grants Pass, Central Point, Rogue River, Eagle Point, White City, Gold Hill and Cave Junction.

In 2020, after Robinson switched his race to the State Senate, Daily Kos labeled him as the Crazy/Stupid Republican of the Day for the seventh year in a row. Besides his repeated losses challenging Rep. Peter DeFazio, they labeled him as “the weirdest opinions on science of any member of the GOP we’ve ever profiled.” They weren’t the only ones making fun of Robinson’s scientific theories. If you’re not a scientist, it might be a little difficult to track Robinson’s theories, but much of what he has been saying over the years is becoming reality. After all, he was a professor of chemistry at the University of California until 1972.

Robison isn’t very popular with the Oregon leadership on his support to remove all taxes on energy, but they love tax credits. So, when Robinson sponsored SB 825 to create an income tax credit for energy production and establish a task force on free-market energy production, it was given a courtesy hearing. But that’s all it was, the bill died in committee.

That hasn’t stopped Senator Robinson from getting his message out. At almost every Senate floor session you can hear him deliver a two-minute speech about science. He starts by discussing how much of climate change is related to human activity. “Your carbon footprint is not causing the oceans to rise,” he said in March. Lately he’s been talking about various scientists and building blocks of science, including molecules and amino acids.

In 1980, he established the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine. Of all the poking fun at his urine collection project, Robinson’s experiment is to catalogize patterns of health issues that could be used for diagnosing such things as early-stage breast cancer or an approaching heart attack. He aims for a cheap noninvasive test that will help a physician in the proper treatment. It is identified as quaky to some, but the potential could be lifesaving.

So, it’s no surprise that he is one of the sponsors for HB 2648, which allows pharmacist or pharmacy technician to sell drugs containing pseudoephedrine without prescription to person who is at least 18 years of age and presents person's valid government-issued photo identification. The bill goes to the Senate floor for its final vote.

For all the criticism thrown at Senator Robinson, he continues to try and break through the walls of consensus science ingrained in society and distribute a few facts, if only for two-minutes on the Senate floor.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-06-12 16:30:38Last Update: 2021-06-12 16:43:06

“Flag Called Freedom”
Give Paul a thumbs up.

January 6 has been engraved in American history as a day of revolt with a mob storming the United States Capitol. When President Trump invited everyone to come to their State Capitols and Washington DC, a big U.S. flag became the center of attention. There were several people hunting down the 30ft by 60ft “Flag Called Freedom” that had been seen at multiple events up and down the west coast. Last year the flag was seen at "We the People of Lane County" events in Springfield and Salem, the Dunes and Deplorables event at the coast, and the star of the Creswell 4th of July Parade.

The flag belongs to a man named Paul who lives south of Eugene. Ultimately, Paul, his brother and nephew drove the flag on a 42-hour drive to DC for the January 6 celebration. There were at least 20 people that traveled to DC from Oregon.

Once there, the morning of the 6th, the flag was released into the crowd at the Washington Monument where it “Patriot Surfed” through hundreds of thousands during President Trump’s speech. Then parading to the capitol steps, it crowd-surfed with just hands of everyone keeping it up. It was going well like a great celebration should. When the flag made its way to the front of the Capitol, where some scaffolding was standing, it was swept up in the emotion and someone climbed the scaffolding and lifted the “Flag Called Freedom” vertical for all to see, and where it stayed well after sundown.

What happened next has been the topic of the news for the past six months and we still don’t know the truth on what transpired. But the fate of the “Flag Called Freedom” ended up in the Capitol Police hands, when the area was closed off. Since then it has been held in an evidence locker pending an FBI investigation.

None of the people from Lane County are known to have entered the Capitol, but that hasn’t stopped the FBI from interviewing at least seven people from Oregon. So, when Paul was notified, he could have his flag back, it seems people in DC are afraid to retrieve the flag for Paul and send it to him.

Paul purchased his “Flag Called Freedom” as a way to share his love of this country. He has made a legacy of special value for the flag. He plans to get his flag back even if he has to fly to DC and get it himself. In the meantime, he is working several angles including attempting to get staff from Representative Cliff Benz’s office to ship it, whom also seems to be afraid of getting into a political mouse trap.

Paul says his plan for the “Flag Called Freedom” is to auction it off and give the proceeds to a nonprofit veterans group. That isn’t the end. Paul plans to buy another “Flag Called Liberty.” In the meantime, the “Flag Called Freedom” will again be at the Creswell 4th of July Parade, and if you see it there or the next time you attend a rally, look for the enormous “Flag Called Freedom” and give Paul a thumbs up.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-06-12 15:04:55Last Update: 2021-06-12 16:43:40

Protections For Babies
Pro-life legislation in Oregon

Oregon is out of step with an unprecedented wave of states passing pro-life laws preventing abortions after six or eight weeks. Nine states passed laws in 2019, and in 2021, 46 states introduced 536 pro-life bills with 61 new pro-life laws, many recognizing the civil rights of unborn children. In Oregon, six abortion bills were introduced, but none received a hearing.

Two bills in Oregon are aimed at live birth abortions that take place after a fetus is viable and would survive. HB 2699, and SB 586 requires health care practitioner to exercise proper degree of care to preserve health and life of child born alive after abortion or attempted abortion. It requires the health care practitioner to ensure a child born alive is transported to a hospital.

The bill defines “born alive” as the complete expulsion or extraction of a child from a person at any stage of the child’s development and after the expulsion or extraction, the child is breathing or has a beating heart, pulsation of the umbilical cord or definite movement of voluntary muscles, whether the umbilical cord has been severed or not. Expulsion or extraction may occur by natural or induced labor, cesarean section or induced abortion.

On June 10, Senator Kim Thatcher moved to withdraw SB 586 from the Committee on Health Care for discussion on the floor. The motion to withdraw failed with 11 Ayes, and 18 Nays. The vote was along party line with Democrats voting Nay.

Senator Thatcher’s explanation was to “close a gap in Oregon law providing protection for a child. The Federal Born Alive Infants Act defines the infants as persons but there are no guarantees they are entitled to the same level of medical care as a baby born of the same age. This bill would have made it clear that a baby surviving a failed abortion receive the same medical care as a baby born of the same gestation age without the attempted abortion.”

Senator Thatcher goes on to describe that a “January 2020 survey shows there is strong bi-partisan support for this concept in Oregon. Seventy-eight percent of Oregonians believe that a baby that survives a failed abortion should be given the same level of medical care that a baby otherwise born of the same age. We always try and protect the most vulnerable among us and who is more vulnerable that this tiny little human. These babies should be given the same level of care regardless of how they are brought into this world.”

Senator Linthicum also made a vote explanation saying, “the issue isn’t whether it’s a failed abortion or not, the issue is worthy of debate because it would simply allow a live human being to be treated with the same level of care as any other live new born human being. This is worthy of debate on the Senate floor as an important ideological discussion.”

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-06-12 12:00:34Last Update: 2021-06-13 14:41:50

Gomez Announces for Governor
Former candidate for State Senate isn’t new to politics

Jessica Gomez wears many hats, but will put that all aside for a 2022 run for Oregon Governor. As CEO of Medford’s Rogue Valley Microdevices, she earned recognition by the Portland Business Journal on the 2021 list of “Women of Influence.” She currently serves as Chair of the Oregon Tech Board of Trustees. She has also been honored as Jackson County/Medford Chamber Member of the Year, most recognized speaker at MEMS World Summit, and selected as the first executive in Spotlight on SEMI Women.

Jessica moved to Oregon at age twelve. Her dad started a cabinetry making business right as the timber industry started declining. Watching her dad struggle impacted her on the plight of rural Oregon and the reliance on timber. After moving to Long Island to live with her grandmother, then moving to Los Angeles in 2000 to begin a career as programmer/analyst, she meant her husband. In 2003, the dot.com bubble burst and being out of work, they moved back to Oregon. Not finding jobs, they borrowed funding to start Rogue Valley Microdevices. They now employ 20 employees.

Jessica is “passionate about transforming the community and driving the technology industry into a new phase of innovation. I believe technology has limitless potential and impacts everything from farming, to the Internet to medical device manufacturing and much more.”

In her announcement to run for Governor, Jessica states, “It is time for Oregonians to work together to build a future in which we can all be proud. I firmly believe the strength of our state lies in our differences.”

In an interview with kdrv.com, she said Oregon hasn’t had a business owner for Governor for a very long time that understands the challenges of business. Coming out of the pandemic we need to focus on our businesses. Her priority is to work on key differences. We are a diverse state, which is our strength. Finding ways to support growth through broadband and water structures so all of Oregon can grow.

Jessica Gomez isn’t new to politics. She ran for Oregon State Senate to represent District 3 in 2018 and only lost by ten percent to her Democrat opponent, Jeff Golden.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-06-11 17:31:50Last Update: 2021-06-12 22:28:42

Veterans Were Left Out of Lottery
Vaccinated veterans need to take additional steps

The Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs is informing veterans, spouses, employees and others who received their COVID-19 vaccine through the Federal VA Health Care System, on Tribal lands or out of state, that they will need to take an additional steps to be entered in the state’s COVID-19 Lottery on June 28.

While most vaccinated Oregonians were entered in the state’s drawing automatically, those who received their shots at the VA or out of state were not, due to privacy laws that prevent federal agencies from sharing protected information with state partners. Therefore, the State of Oregon is offering the chance for those who were not entered automatically to voluntarily self-register at takeyourshot.oregon.gov.

The personal information submitted will supposedly be held securely by the Oregon Health Authority. It is only supposed to be used for this drawing. For those who wish to enter, please ensure that you submit your registration form by June 27.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-06-11 16:53:27Last Update: 2021-06-11 17:03:40

Reactions to Nearman Expulsion
Armed people are allowed in the Capitol

The expulsion of Mike Nearman from the Oregon House of Representatives has reached national news and is a call for everyone to opine on the issue. It's also an occasion to reflect on how others have been treated recently in the Capitol and how their treatment compares to Nearman's.

For instance, Senate Majority Leader Rob Wagner issued a statement on Nearman's expulsion.

“I support and respect the vote the House of Representatives took this evening to expel Mike Nearman. His actions were abhorrent. On December 21, 2020, those who work in the State Capitol were rightfully afraid for their safety. Their loved ones at home were afraid for their safety.

“The individuals who trespassed the Oregon State Capitol, facilitated by now-former Representative Nearman, were intent on harm. They had ties to right wing extremism and white supremacist groups, and many were armed.

“His abhorrent actions warrant this historic response. It is right that he is being held accountable by his colleagues, and I hope he is also held accountable in the court of law.”

Senator Wagner forgets that -- at least now -- armed people are allowed in the Capitol. And as much as Senator Wagner tries to tie Nearman to "white supremacist groups," he has been accused of racism for his mishandling of a hazing incident directed toward a black student as chair of the Lake Oswego School District.

The harsh treatment of Nearman stands in contrast to the comparatively lack of any serious consequences for Representative Brad Witt (D-Clatskanie).

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-06-11 16:49:23Last Update: 2021-06-11 17:31:50

Bailey’s Bill Heads to Governor’s Desk
Increases penalties for teachers who sexually abuse students

The House of Representative unanimously passed SB 649. ‘Bailey’s Bill’ would close a loophole in state law that lets teachers off with lighter penalties than coaches for sexually abusing students.

“I am proud to have gotten this important legislation across the finish line, but the true champion is Bailey,” said Senator Bill Hansell (R-Athena), the author of the legislation. “Her courageous voice and strong advocacy made it possible. Thank you to my colleagues in the House for passing this important bill.”

Representative Bobby Levy (R-Echo) carried the bill on the House floor.

“Bailey’s advocacy will give other girls access to justice that she did not have access to,” Representative Levy said. “It’s been an honor to work with her to pass this bill in the Legislature. It will make our communities a little bit safer for young Oregonians. That is something I am extremely proud of.”

SB 649 now heads to the Governor’s desk for her signature.

The legislation is named after Bailey Munck, a student at Weston-McEwen High School in Athena. In 2019, she was sexually abused by her English teacher after a state playoff volleyball game in Coquille. The teacher was the scorekeeper for the volleyball team.

After pleading guilty to sexual harassment and touching, her abuser spent only 2 days in jail and 5 years of probation. He did not have to register as a sex offender. If he would have been Bailey’s coach, he would have been convicted of a Class C felony and received up to 5 years in jail and a $125,000 fine. Because he was Bailey’s teacher, he barely got a slap on the wrist. SB 649 would put teachers on the same level as coaches for penalties of crimes of sexual abuse in the second degree.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-06-11 16:43:29Last Update: 2021-06-11 16:49:23

Rep. Nearman Expelled from Legislature
“It’s June 10, we’re three weeks from the end and this building is still closed”

The Oregon House of Representatives has voted to expel Representative Mike Nearman (R-Independence) for his December 21, 2020 exiting of the Capitol which allowed people into the building. Criminal charges have been filed against Nearman, who has maintained that the Capitol should be open during the legislative session. No legislator has ever been expelled from the body in the history of the State of Oregon.

The case has made national news as a video -- recently leaked from evidence in the trial against him -- has come to light showing him speaking to a group from Oregon Citizens Lobby about entering the Capitol during one of the 2020 special sessions.

Article IV, Section 15 of the Oregon Constitution describes expulsion from the Legislature. "Either house may punish its members for disorderly behavior, and may with the concurrence of two thirds, expel a member; but not a second time for the same cause."

In his speech on the motion to expel him, Nearman read the portions of the Oregon Constitution which talk about the right of the people to instruct their legislators and the requirement that legislative deliberations be open to the public. He chided the assembly for keeping the Capitol closed:

"It’s June 10 and we’re three weeks from the end of the session and this building is still closed to the public. After the afternoon floor session this afternoon, we’re all going to go out to dinner, or stop at the grocery store, or tomorrow go shop for clothes or get our oil changed, because all of those places are open. But not this building."

Democrats brought the motion to expel Nearman in a surprise move just days before he was scheduled to appear before the House Committee on Conduct on a complaint that he created a hostile work environment. The expulsion vote required a 2/3 majority, so at least three Republicans were needed to vote to expel. The vote was unanimous, except for the vote of Nearman, who voted not to expel himself.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-06-10 20:01:34Last Update: 2021-06-10 20:58:21

The Homeless Money Pit
“It’s appalling, the lack of creativity that we have in finding solutions”

Homelessness is one of the hottest topics at all levels of government, but it seems that no matter how much is done or how much is spent, the problem never gets better. It always gets worse.

Now, the Oregon Legislature is considering HB 2004, introduced by House Speaker Tina Kotek. The bill allocates millions of dollars "to support emergency shelters through grants to local community organizations for the acquisition, retrofitting and operation of emergency shelters throughout this state."

The bill first was written to send the money to the Oregon Housing and Community Services Agency to provide funding for low-barrier housing. Low-barrier housing is housing that has fewer rules -- euphemistically known as barriers -- such as requirements that the resident be drug-free, sober, not have pets, etc. It has since been amended so that the nearly $10 million in grant money will be distributed by a non-profit organization, the Oregon Community Foundation.

It's worth asking why the money goes to a non-profit -- especially one where at least nine of the 15 board members are Democrats, and many of them high dollar donors to Kate Brown. Is it because if the money stays in a state agency, there is accountability and if it goes to the non-profit, the public loses the ability to watch the money.

One legislator had this to say, about the bill. "It's appalling, the lack of creativity that we have in finding solutions to the homeless problem. Sending $10 million dollar in a grant to a non-profit so that they can give out grants, doesn't seem like a solution."

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-06-10 12:31:28Last Update: 2021-06-10 18:20:43

Paul Romero Announces for Governor
He was a Republican candidate for US Senate in 2020

Paul Romero, most recently a candidate for US Senate, has announced a run for the Republican nomination for Oregon Governor.

Growing up in Central Oregon, Romero's first venture into public service was as a Navy Enlisted man where he crossed Libya's Line-of-Death, traversed the Red Sea and Persian Gulf in support of Desert Shield, and Desert Storm.

Paul has created “The Contract With Oregon” to reflect the inspirations of Americans like Newt Gingrich and the impacts on the people of The United States of America.

Romero points out that Oregon has made national news regarding several issues including a continued lockdown disregarding CDC updated guidelines, a hard experimental vaccine push, and passing bills that could put an Oregonian with a Concealed Carry Permit into the category of felon.

Asked what makes him different, Romero stated, "I'm not a politician, I'm a pragmatist. A problem solver, problem fixer, and crisis manager. Oregon is in deep crisis. Portland's 800% crime rate increase is unacceptable. My personal goal is to become a true Statesman who represents the people's interest and wants to provide the safety and security each Oregonian deserves through law enforcement, removal of laws repugnant to the Constitutions, and an invigorated economy through lower taxes and eco-friendly industries."

Romero claims that after decades moving to the left, Oregonians are moving right. According to Gallup, Conservatives have a four-point advantage over Liberals in the Beaver state. This trend is especially obvious when we look at Tillamook and Columbia Counties. In 2008 Obama won Tillamook County with a 12.02% advantage over McCain, which was cut in half in 2012 when Romney challenged him. Trump received a 11.46% advantage over Clinton, a 23.48% flip in just eight years.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-06-10 10:06:58Last Update: 2021-06-10 12:31:28

Analysis: Taxes and Freedom
There’s a war on property ownership

Sometimes don’t you just want to cut through all the lawmaking and get to the point?

The IRS was founded in 1913, a little over 100 years ago. Besides raising revenue for public goods, taxes serve to control people. The state has record revenues right now and the Democrat run, public union controlled legislature is still raising our taxes. That doesn’t make any sense you say, that kills the goose that lays the egg. Well it makes sense if you understand the game. The more you’re taxed the less freedom you have and the easier it is to control you.

You don’t have the economic freedom to send your kids to a decent private school because you’re already paying big time for public schools. You are paying for colleges that tell your kids their parent’s world is wrong. Those schools must be the merchants of doom or lose their government grant money which you helped provide.

Your taxes subsidize the purchase of government approved hybrid cars which means the SUV you prefer costs more than it should to meet regulations. Instead of road improvements you are paying for bike lanes you’re not using with each gallon of gas you buy. You drive on deliberately congested roads as the government wages war on the automobile you depend on to live your life. The government solution - toll the roads. You’re paying for big busses and light rail to travel millions of miles with just a few people riding to limited destinations.

You’re paying for inefficient health care you’re not using. Do you know people go to foreign countries to get good health care for about 20% of what we pay in this country? That’s what it really costs when you strip away the bloated bureaucracy, bogus lawsuits, needless testing, over paid administrative staff and a government managed profit structure.

You’re paying to feed, house, clothe, treat and protect people who are in the country illegally. You’re paying to house people who don’t want to work. Both groups are future voters for big government.

The sky hasn’t been cleaner, nor the waters clearer for decades and still we pay a huge bureaucracy to increase regulations and fines, build inefficient windmill and solar farms with money confiscated from gas and electric ratepayers by the Governor appointed Public Utilities Commissioner. To satisfy Democrat voters, century old dams are breached ruining agriculture and eliminating efficient electricity generation.

You, the taxpayer and law abiding citizen aren’t trusted to own a gun, to speak up against tyrannical government, to visit your elected representative, or decide what your children will be taught in teachers' union -- government – public schools that you pay for.

Your minister is bullied about what to say or the church will lose its tax status. Government protected Facebook decides what you can say or they’ll cancel you. You’re paying an inefficient regulatory bureaucracy huge fees to be inefficient, to delay or deny your plans to build or remodel. You’re paying inspectors huge fees to shut down your business if you resist their politically motivated rules.

The war on property ownership has government increase its holdings of formerly private property to the point of grossly mismanaged forests, streams, parks and rangeland. The government is not harvesting trees that could give you relief from all the taxes you’re paying. You’re paying for district attorneys that don’t prosecute criminals, future voters for government that wants to control you. If you own a commercial building you are paying property taxes to a government that put your tenants out of business. Apartment owners house increasing numbers each year and are rewarded with huge penalties if they manage their property as a business. Do you sometimes think that it’s heads tyrannical government wins, tails you lose?

--Tom Hammer

Post Date: 2021-06-10 09:48:35Last Update: 2021-06-10 10:06:58

Witt Removed from Chair of Committee
The Democrat sent inappropriate texts to another member

Representative Brad Witt (D-Clatskanie) has been removed as Chair of the House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources for his sending of texts to another member, Representative Vikki Breese-Iverson (R-Prineville) seemingly asking for a date. Despite conclusions of an investigator to the contrary, local media attempted to cover for Representative Witt.

Representative Breese-Iverson was texting Representative Witt to ask for a vote, and he was responding with offers to "get a beer" and other requests.

Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) issued a letter to members of the House. “In my authority as Speaker, I am removing Representative Witt as chair of the House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources. I hold all chairs to a high standard of conduct, and Representative Witt failed to meet that standard.”

Freshman, Zach Hudson (D-Portland) has been named chair of the House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-06-09 17:14:11Last Update: 2021-06-11 17:27:07

Senate Republicans Vote to Expand Opportunity in Education
Overall support for school choice is increasing

Senate Republicans proposed an addition to HB 2954 to allow more students options in their education.

The minority report, carried by Senator Chuck Thomsen (R-Hood River), mirrors the bill passed out of committee, but would also raise the decade-old arbitrary cap on virtual public charter school enrollment from three percent to four percent of the school district’s student population.

“The reality is, many students don’t thrive under traditional learning models,” said Senator Thomsen, the vice-chair of the Senate Education Committee. “Virtual public charter schools are a great option for many kids for many different reasons, whether it be bullying, the flexibility to learn at their own pace, or to accommodate mental and physical health conditions. The current cap is a cap on student potential. It doesn’t serve what should be the main goal of our education system: to serve Oregon students’ needs and set them up for future success.”

Despite overwhelming support from families and students to raise the cap, Democrats voted in lockstep to defeat the motion to include this provision.

“This is the time for real education reform,” said Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod (R-Lyons). “This session, the Democrats have lowered education standards and avoided meaningful reform by throwing more money at a failing system. School choice is fundamentally about giving students, regardless of wealth, the best education possible for them. Republicans will continue to be the party of educational opportunity and school choice.”

Increasing the cap on virtual charter schools would have been a small victory for those trapped in a system that doesn’t meet their needs. For communities of color and low-income households, too few education options exist. Without options, families will be stuck in a failing system that hinders upward mobility. Giving these families the freedom to choose an education that works for their students correlates with increased academic achievement.

Despite promising to promote “Access and Equity in Public Education,” Senate Democrats have blocked all school choice measures from advancing this session, including a measure that would have completely lifted the cap on virtual public charter school attendance. Senate Democrats held a public hearing for SB 240, but only after it was ‘dead’ due to legislative deadlines.

Public support for school choice has skyrocketed since the onset of the pandemic. Traditional, government-run public school models were no longer a viable option for many, including our most vulnerable populations. When Governor Brown shut down schools in the spring of 2020, students and parents flocked to virtual public charter schools. The current three percent cap on enrollment led to record transfer rejection numbers. Since July of 2020, the Oregon Department of Education has received at least 839 rejection appeals, the vast majority of which have been upheld without reasonable explanation as to why.

Yet, at least 41 school districts in Oregon have exceeded the three percent cap on virtual public charter school attendance, further demonstrating the demand for education alternatives. New data from Real Clear Opinion Research finds overall support for school choice is increasing as parents need more options than ever before: The minority report for HB 2954 was voted down by Democrats. The Senate passed the original bill that carries the same language but fails to provide necessary education options.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-06-09 10:38:04Last Update: 2021-06-09 12:19:58

Resolution Introduced to Censure Representative Witt
“I want victims to know that it is safe to come forward”

Representative Shelly Boshart Davis (R-Albany) has introduced House Resolution 4 to formally censure Representative Brad Witt (D-Clatskanie).

The resolution was introduced following the failure of the House Committee on Conduct to agree on appropriate consequences for Representative Witt’s violation of sexual harassment rules.

“This response is necessary for us to take as a legislative body to declare that this kind of behavior has no place in our Capitol,” said Representative Boshart Davis. “This should have been recommended by the House Committee on Conduct, but unfortunately they failed to reach agreement. Furthermore, the announcement from the Speaker’s office that merely takes a gavel from someone who committed sexual harassment is an inadequate response to address a hostile work environment in the building. I want victims to know that it is safe to come forward, and this is the only way.”

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-06-08 20:02:49Last Update: 2021-06-08 20:17:47

Expulsion Resolution Introduced for Rep. Nearman
He would be the first to be expelled in the history of Oregon

The Oregon House of Representatives is poised to expel one of it's members. House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland), failing to get Representative Mike Nearman to resign his seat, has introduced HR 3 which would expel Representative Nearman from the Legislature.

Be It Resolved by the House of Representatives of the State of Oregon:

That we, the members of the House of Representatives of the Eighty-first Legislative Assembly, find that Representative Mike Nearman has engaged in disorderly behavior within the meaning of Article IV, section 15, of the Oregon Constitution, and be it further

Resolved, That, with the concurrence of two-thirds of the members of the House of Representatives, Representative Nearman be expelled from the House of Representatives and that Representative Nearman’s seat be considered vacant.

Speaker Kotek introduced the resolution to expel Nearman in a surprise move just two days before he was scheduled to appear before the House Committee on Conduct. That meeting has since been cancelled. Insiders are speculating that for some reason, Speaker Kotek and her fellow Democrats were afraid to let that process go forward, and chose instead just to bring an expulsion measure to the floor. The expulsion vote requires a 2/3 majority, so at least three Republicans were needed to vote to expel.

A special committee has been created to have a hearing on HR 3, The House Special Committee On December 21, 2020. The resolution will be heard Thursday afternoon at 3:00pm. For those wishing to submit testimony, a link has been provided on the Legislative website. The committee will also be taking live, virtual testimony from the public.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-06-08 07:36:39Last Update: 2021-06-08 20:02:49

Cold Medicine in Oregon Soon to be More Affordable
HB 2648 allows pseudoephedrine products to be sold

A proposal from Representative Bill Post (R-Keizer) to allow the sale of pseudoephedrine products without a prescription passed out of the Senate today and will be sent to the Governor’s desk.

This is the third attempt from Rep. Post to remove an unnecessary barrier for Oregonians that will lower their health care costs when purchasing pseudoephedrine products. Sudafed and other similar drugs will still be restricted to people who are at least 18 years of age with a valid ID under the proposal.

Currently, purchasing a pseudoephedrine product requires a visit to your doctor to receive a prescription, which comes with an expensive bill.

“Third time is the charm to pass this common-sense bill which will help Oregonians looking for a quick and affordable remedy for allergies and head colds,” said Rep. Post. “People shouldn’t be asked to visit a doctor to obtain a prescription for common cold medicine, especially when Oregon is the ONLY state requiring a prescription. We can trust Oregonians more than that.”

HB 2648 passed out of the Senate with bipartisan support.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-06-07 12:29:52Last Update: 2021-06-07 12:38:40

Kate Brown Likely to Maintain State of Emergency
Fully reopened doesn’t mean what you think

Oregon's Governor Kate Brown recently addressed the public in a press conference where she detailed what she intends for Oregon now that the Covid vaccination goal she set is about to be met. Brown has stated that when Oregon reaches 70% first dose vaccination rate for adults, most county and individual health and safety restrictions will lift. It seems that she knew that Oregonians want to hear her say that she will fully reopen Oregon's economy, so those are the exact words she used.

"What does fully reopen mean?", Brown said. "Masks will "largely" no longer be required in businesses and most other places, with the exception of public settings currently outlined by the CDC such as public transportation."

"No more physical distancing," Brown added."

In discerning what she really means by this, however, it seems that she very much intends on keeping as many restrictions in place as she can, even among school children.

As of June 3, Oregon had achieved a 66.2% vaccination rate for individuals 18 and older, with 127,308 more people needing to receive a first dose to reach 70%.

“I want to be very clear that we are able to reopen like this because of the efficacy of the vaccines. For those of you who are vaccinated, you’ve helped us reach this point — and you are protected from this virus,” said Governor Brown. “However, there are still Oregonians who need to take extra precautions to feel and stay safe. People battling cancer and immunocompromised Oregonians, to name a couple. There are also many Oregon kids who are not yet eligible for a vaccine.

“So, it will remain incredibly important for Oregonians to continue making smart choices. And, to respect the choices of others. Let’s respect one another as we prepare to make this transition.

“This has really become a tale of two pandemics. If you are vaccinated, then you’re safe, you can carry on safely without wearing a mask and social distancing.

“If you are not vaccinated, this virus still poses a very real threat.”

It seems that the OHA does not have any guidance on whether actual COVID survivors should be vaccinated, as they would likely already have natural immunity to the virus.

Details of the restrictions that will remain for school children were provided by Brown and outlined here: Skeptics of Brown's "reopening announcement" believe that she intends to keep these and other restrictions in place, as well as the continued state of emergency.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-06-07 09:39:58Last Update: 2021-06-07 10:28:53

Another Democrat Small Business Tax Proposal
Public hearing announced late

As if there weren't enough disincentives for business in Oregon with increasing taxation coming from the Kate Brown administration, more tax bills keep coming, with the intent of finding additional sources of revenue to cover the State's out of control spending habit.

There is yet another small business tax proposal from Oregon Democrats that is scheduled for a public hearing in the Senate Finance and Revenue hearing this Monday, June 7, at 1:00. It was only made public on late on Friday before the weekend so that people would not know about it until the last minute. You can find the link to that meeting by clicking here.

The bill is SB 139 and it will raise the tax rate for small businesses that are also known as pass-throughs income.

This tax only applies to small businesses.

Scott Bruun, Director of Tax and Fiscal Policy for Oregon Business and Industry gave the following testimony earlier this session:

"SB 139 would raise taxes on thousands of Oregon partnership businesses at a time when many of those businesses are still reeling from the economic effects of COVID. These businesses are not the euphemistic “large corporations,” they are small and medium-size businesses that operate in every corner of our state, and in every commercial business activity you could think of. These could be businesses with two employees, 20 employees, or even 200 employees, each with an interest in keeping those employees working and maintaining operations during perhaps the biggest economic challenge of our lifetime."

"There is no question that some Oregon businesses have done well during the current crisis. Some have even done exceptionally well. That’s actually great news! It’s something we should celebrate, not punish or lament. Those businesses, whether they employ 2 or 200, have kept Oregon moving forward. They’ve kept their people working; they have played by the rules; they’ve overcome hurdles; and they will pay the full taxes they owe under current statute - more than they would pay, of course, if they had not done as well."

"But we shouldn’t let success stories sidetrack us. The fact is most businesses have suffered and are behind where they would otherwise be if not for COVID. SB 139 would raise taxes on those businesses during this time of economic stress. These tax increases would make it harder for Oregon businesses to compete, harder for them to hire, harder for them to give raises, and maybe even harder for them to retain the people they currently employ."

"It is also important to remember, as we’ve discussed before, that every Oregon business, partnership or not, will already be experiencing a 41% increase in their overall tax burden by 2022 when tax measures approved in 2019 are fully implemented.

COVID notwithstanding, Oregon’s business tax burden has increased from 40th highest in the nation, to 19th highest in a very short period of time. Respectfully, the businesses which employ Oregonians are having a hard enough time swallowing that big pill, they are certainly not in a position to take on yet another tax increase.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-06-06 16:12:34Last Update: 2021-06-07 18:30:37

Hospitalizations Surging?
Has Governor Brown Reduced Bed Counts?

While other states continue to open and show a decrease in hospitalizations and COVID-19 cases, such as Texas, Oregon has remained locked down with excessive restrictions on severely struggling businesses.

Governor Kate Brown has now imposed a three-week lock-down, despite the minimal COVID impact Oregon has seen when measured against other state case and fatality data nationwide and worldwide.

The “two weeks to flatten the curve” lock-down measures she announced in March 2020 were meant to help our healthcare systems get through an additional surge. Yet Governor Brown has announced that 15 counties back into the “extreme high risk” category for COVID-19, and also re-instituting restrictions on other Oregon counties.

She claims that hospitals are beginning to overflow once again with COVID-19 patients. But is that really true?

According to the Oregon Health Authority, as of April 23rd, 2021, out of approximately 3.8 million residents, there are only 305 Oregonians currently hospitalized due to COVID, with 543 Adult non-ICU beds and 149 Adult ICU beds still available specifically for COVID-19 patients. This is a far cry from the winter peak of COVID-19 hospitalizations on December 14th, 2020, where 601 Oregonians were hospitalized due to COVID, while an additional 739 Adult non-ICU beds and 149 Adult ICU beds remained available for COVID-19 patients.

On December 14th, 2020, there were 1,489 total hospital beds allocated for COVID-19 patients, but that by April 23rd, 2021, it seems that number had been reduced to only 997 hospital beds.

We can all agree that, if this is still an emergency situation that hospital bed counts should be maintained at 1,489 until the crisis is over. That doesn't seem to be what has been happening, according to School Superintendent Marc Theilman, of the Alsea School District, who has been in weekly contact with hospitals to stay abreast of the situation after concluding he could not rely exclusively on Oregon Health Authority(OHA)data.

“You know, it’s been interesting because the information I’ve been getting from hospital staff hasn’t been that the situation is getting worse again, despite the concern over variants, a lack of preventative nutritional guidance issued or access to available medical treatments known to be effective that are separate from the vaccine rollout,” shared Thielman. “And, despite what Brown’s Friday meeting tried to paint a picture of, the current situation is not about those who are choosing to forgo receiving an experimental vaccine—the reality is that hospitals are removing available beds for COVID-19 patients, as it’s not economically feasible to keep so many beds empty. However, this is an easy data point to manipulate to use to tell the public that hospital capacity is getting maxed out,” he added. “In fact, I just spoke with a ranking member of the Oregon Nurses Association who gave me advanced warning about the political narrative being set forth,” said Theilman, “As one contact put it, ‘the reality is that bed use continues to dramatically decline’ and he told me, don’t believe the spin, he actually said we should be celebrating at the waning of this pandemic.”

“What hospital staff have been sharing with me is that they have been reducing their COVID bed counts due to lack of public need so they could make those beds available for people who actually are in need with other conditions,” Thielman noted. “I was told point blank that they’ve been in discussions with representatives from Governor Brown’s office and that she’s fully aware of these reductions. Personally, I think this is good news and should be openly discussed, not be a reason to consider going back into lockdowns,” he added. “Since there seems to be federal money for this very purpose, we should just increase bed counts again if necessary, without disrupting the lives of countless Oregonians, who have been great throughout this—that would make the most sense to me.”

Critics are wondering if Governor Brown may not be telling the public that she authorized the reduction in COVID bed counts.

In 2008, and quite possibly during other years as well, Oregon received Federal grants specifically to help build pandemic preparedness.

And here is a another newsletter statement, describing additional federal grant money:

With any previous federal funds and additional money in new federal aid that Oregon has received over the last year, it seems that Governor Brown could simply support hospitals financially, in the isolated counties where hospitalizations may be rising slightly, to increase their available bed counts once again.

Oregonians will definitely have to continue to pick up the pieces created not just by COVID, but by abysmal public health policies that sometimes create an illusion of responsible action, but in fact only hurt healthy residents ready to get on with their lives.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-06-06 11:59:50Last Update: 2021-06-06 12:01:34

What about the COVID survivors?
Do they have to wear a mask? Asking for a friend.

The Centers for Disease Control and the Oregon Health Authority have provided updated guidance on mask requirements for those with synthetic immunity -- from a vaccine -- but have failed to create guidance for those who have natural immunity from having had the disease.

The numbers are not large, but neither are they trivial. According to the OHA website, there have been 202,675 cases, which when spread among 4,300,000 means that about 4.7% of Oregonians have had a recorded case. This number needs some adjustment. Some unrecorded cases need to be added. Some 2,686 deaths need to be subtracted as do cases that were subsequently vaccinated, but a number of persons near 5% are COVID survivors.

The CDC suggests that COVID survivors get the vaccine, but candidly admits that it doesn't know.

Yes, you should be vaccinated regardless of whether you already had COVID-19. That’s because experts do not yet know how long you are protected from getting sick again after recovering from COVID-19. Even if you have already recovered from COVID-19, it is possible—although rare—that you could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 again. Learn more about why getting vaccinated is a safer way to build protection than getting infected.

If you were treated for COVID-19 with monoclonal antibodies or convalescent plasma, you should wait 90 days before getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Talk to your doctor if you are unsure what treatments you received or if you have more questions about getting a COVID-19 vaccine.

Experts are still learning more about how long vaccines protect against COVID-19 in real-world conditions. CDC will keep the public informed as new evidence becomes available.

The OHA does not have any guidance on whether COVID survivors should be vaccinated.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-06-05 21:22:53Last Update: 2021-06-06 09:12:15

COVID Exposure To Prompt Compensation
Proposal may further discourage commerce

There is a proposal in the Oregon legislature which would add the exposure to COVID-19 as a occupational hazard which may require the worker to be financially compensated by the employer.

SB 488 is sponsored by Senator Kathleen Taylor (D-Portland) and currently sits in the Oregon legislature's Senate Committee On Labor and Business.

The bill includes the following details: As they often do, the Supermajority Democrats in the Oregon legislature attached the emergency clause to the bill, rendering it not able to be referred to the voter's of Oregon via citizen referendum.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-06-05 17:46:34Last Update: 2021-06-05 21:36:29

Irony in the Capitol...again
Is $9.3 Billion (with a B) enough for schools?

Another House floor session began with an attempt by House Republicans to bring a bill out of committee to an immediate vote on the floor. Rep. Breese-Iverson (R- Prineville) called for immediate consideration of HB 3399. It requires all Public Schools to be back to 5 day a week, face-to-face learning in the fall. On a party line the vote, the House Democrats unanimously disagreed and voted the motion down. It would give school districts the certainty they need to budget and plan for bringing all student back full-time in the fall. In a previous article, “Back to school in the fall...maybe”, HB 3399 was discussed in detail.

A similar attempt was made by the Senate Republicans late last month when they requested immediate consideration of the Senate version of HB 3399. Senator Anderson (R-Lincoln City) introduced the legislation reported on earlier in “Senate Republicans Support Teachers Union Effort to Fully Reopen Schools”. However, it was also voted down on a party line vote by the Democrats. Senate Republican Leader Girod (R-Lyons) commented on the bill saying,

“Republicans have been beating this drum for months. Now with the Democrat’s union on board, there is no excuse for them to sit back and allow the Governor to dictate if our kids will get a proper education next year. We need to give kids and parents assurance that they will return to the classroom.”

Today on the floor, after the Democrats denied the motion to vote on reopening schools to full-time, face-to-face learning in the fall they, ironically, took up debate on the State School Fund budget.

The House Republicans immediately made a motion to send the school budget back to committee to increase the amount from $9.3B to $9.6B before it passed. During the debate, House Republican Leader Drazen (R-Canby) stated, “We should not be moving forward with a budget that will harm our kids’ education in the long run. Schools tell us that $9.6 Billion is needed to avoid cuts next year, and we must believe them. Our state has more money than ever, and we’re committed to giving families the choice of in-person learning next fall. This is the wrong time to move forward with a ‘cuts’ budget. Our kids deserve better.”

The $9.6B came from a request by the Oregon School Employees Association, Oregon Education Association, and the Coalition of Oregon School Administrators. They testified earlier to the budget committee regarding the $9.6B and specifically to the need to invest and protect the needs of the students coming out of an unprecedented year of lost learning. They also spoke to the various funding for which they are restricted in use. Iton Udosenata, COSA President stated in written testimony that,

“Our funding is not interchangeable. The Student Investment Account is targeted toward equitable investments to better serve our students and their communities. It is meant to supplement the operational funding of school districts in the State School Fund. Federal funds (CARES ACT funding) are intended to provide schools the resources to safely reopen and address the added costs of operating our schools and supporting our students for the next three-plus years.

The State School Fund is still the primary source of funding for our school districts. A budget that does not meet our financial needs means we take a huge step backward in our ability to serve students.”

However, House Democrats again, unanimously opposed the motion.

They then moved on to debating the $9.3B budget proposal. Several Democrat House members spoke against the request for the additional $300M. They reminded the Republicans that there are other funding streams being fed into school budgets that will help schools meet the needs of “all students”.

However, most of that additional funding they mentioned is the funding that COSA spoke about in committee. The carrier of the bill, Rep. McLain (D - Hillsboro) summed up many of her Democratic colleagues’ comments in her closing remarks saying,

“This budget is a good solid investment and foundation for our schools in Oregon but it’s only one of the sources of funding that we are sending out to our schools. Please do not forget the Student Success Act, please do not forget that we are putting investments into our BIPOC diversity and inclusion programs. There will be millions more dollars going into those programs focused on development of inclusion and diversity to support all students”.

However, the reality is that the only current funding source that provides equal funding for all students is the State School Fund, and it is also the primary source of funding. The rest is volatile, limited duration, or grant based and not available to every school district.

The bill finally passed on a party line vote with the Supermajority Democrats once again voting to go against the Republicans, but this time they also voted against the wishes of the Teachers and School Administrators.

--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-06-04 10:44:57Last Update: 2021-06-04 11:49:47

Vaccine Passport Ban Proposed
“The Governor’s vaccine passport scheme is an extreme invasion of Oregonians’ privacy”

Senator Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer) has introduced civil rights legislation to ban vaccine passports in Oregon.

SB 872 would prohibit public and private entities from conditioning service or employment opportunities based on vaccination status or the possession of a vaccine credential. The anti-discrimination legislation would also ban the government from preventing Oregonians from exercising first amendment rights because of COVID-19 risks.

“The Governor’s vaccine passport scheme is an extreme invasion of Oregonians’ privacy,” said Senator Thatcher. “No Oregonian should have to divulge medical information to participate in everyday life. This bill is about making clear Oregonians’ rights, which have been railroaded by the Governor during the pandemic. One person cannot and should not have this much power over Oregonians’ lives and livelihoods.”

Civil rights and business and labor groups agree that the move by the Governor to implement vaccine passports, contrary to the White House and CDC, is alarming.

According to news reports, a spokesperson for UFCW Local 555, which represents grocery store workers, said, “Telling essential employees to be the mask police and asking customers for their medical information puts them in harm’s way…”

A recent survey conducted by the local Chamber of Commerce in Medford found that 93% of businesses do not want to condition maskless service on asking customers for medical information. The ACLU has said that vaccine passports, “threaten to exacerbate racial disparities and harm the civil liberties of all.”

“Our local businesses have gone through a lot this year,” continued Sen. Thatcher. “The last thing we should be doing is making them play mask and vaccine cop. They have much more important things to do, like getting back to normal so Oregonians can earn a living.”

The legislation comes as Oregon approaches a 70% vaccination rate, the threshold the Governor has set to “fully reopen the economy,” although it is still unclear what that means given the Governor’s constant shifting of the goal-posts.

According to the New York Times, Oregon is one of 3 states in the nation that have refused to set a date for reopening. Oregon’s vaccine passport scheme runs contrary to the approaches taken by California and Washington, which have both opted to trust their residents.

SB 872 is waiting to be first read, after which it will be referred to a committee by the Senate President.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-06-04 10:40:06Last Update: 2021-06-04 11:59:12

St. Paul Rodeo is Returning
After hiatus, the tradition continues

The fun is about to break out of the chutes at the St. Paul Rodeo in St. Paul, Oregon!

For the 85th year, the Nation’s Greatest Rodeo will take place June 30-July 4, and tickets are on sale now!

The rodeo is the biggest event in the small town of St. Paul, Oregon and one of the top twenty largest rodeos in the nation.

Fans know it best for the fun it provides. Rodeo clown JJ Harrison will be on hand to provide the laughs, and the Full Throttle trick riders will entertain in flashy sequined costumes, while they do gymnastic stunts on the backs of galloping horses!

And the food! The St. Paul Rodeo is known for its homemade strawberry shortcake, complete with locally grown berries and a big dollop of whipped cream on top! Plus, there’s barbecue chicken, cotton candy, popcorn, and more!

It’s good to be able to rodeo and invite fans to return, said Cindy Schonholtz, general manager of the St. Paul Rodeo, who has an informal “theme” for this year’s rodeo: “More fun in ’21.”

“We are proud to be a family celebration where moms and dads, kids and grandkids, grandmas and granddads can get together, enjoy each other’s company, and celebrate Independence Day.”

Tickets range in price from $16 to $26, not including a convenience fee, and can be purchased online.

As Covid restrictions are lifted, more tickets will be released for sale.

“Come and celebrate with us at the St. Paul Rodeo,” Schonholtz said.

Rodeo performances are at 7:30 pm nightly, June 30-July 4, with a 1:30 pm matinee on July 4.

For more information, visit the rodeo’s website or call 800.237.5920. Covid guidelines will be in place during the rodeo. Tickets purchased earlier in the year will be honored.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-06-04 09:37:16Last Update: 2021-06-04 10:00:26

Bill Proposes Presumption of Discrimination
13,000 businesses closed spring of 2020

SB 483, by Senator Taylor is another attack on business owners. The bill creates a presumption that a person engaged in retaliation or discrimination against employee if person takes certain action against employee or prospective employee within 60 days after employee or prospective employee has engaged in certain protected activities -- such as filing a complaint.

Recent bills focus on jobs, not employers, not owners. The report out by State Economist Gail Krumenauer told us it must be favorable. That there was an increase in jobs. But under the surface the big producers of Gross Domestic Product in Oregon, privately owned, showed no recovery.

It seems that State Democrats want us to focus on already adequately protected employees instead of other things like the basic health of the economy? The Bureau of Labor and Industry only shows a business is closed permanently after four quarters of no reporting. The Secretary of State statistics don’t show a loss until the license is not renewed. We are sitting in a time spot where a lot of the loss of private business ownership is concealed.

The one report out was one reported by Small Business Association on Portland. They reported 19.4 percent of business district business is closed, in the first quarter of 2021. A 14.7 percent rate for the city overall. Jacob Pavlik, of Colliers Real Estate Research, reported 900,476 feet of unoccupied space for first quarter in the City of Portland.

Oregon Live.com said there were 13,000 businesses closed spring of 2020. This is the largest tally in 30 years and twice as much as any single quarter.

--Liz Turner

Post Date: 2021-06-03 22:05:56Last Update: 2021-06-03 23:24:15

Referendum Filed on Gun Restrictions
SB 554 may get a vote of the people

A referendum on SB 554 seeking to overturn the recently passed law has been filed by a handful of state legislators in Oregon.

State Representatives Mike Nearman (R-Independence), E. Werner Reschke (R-Malin) and David Brock Smith (R-Gold Beach) filed the referendum and now have about 4 months to gather 79,680 valid signatures. If they are successful in gathering these signatures, SB 554 will be presented to the voters in November 2022.

The referendum effort looks to capitalize on gathering signatures at events such as the State and county fairs that are aiming to have a big come-back after a year of Covid lock-downs. They have an online presence as well at www.ResponsibleResponse.com.

The bill as passed requires a person to secure a firearm with a trigger or cable lock, in a locked container or in a gun room, with violations punished by a maximum of $500 fine or maximum of $2,000 fine if a minor obtains an unsecured firearm as result of the violation.

It also requires a person to report the loss or theft of a firearm within 72 hours of the time the person knew or reasonably should have known of the loss or theft. Punishes violation of this requirement by maximum of $1,000 fine.

It also authorizes the boards of public universities, community colleges or school districts to adopt policies providing that affirmative defense for concealed handgun licensees possessing firearms on school grounds does not apply, effectively making these places gun-free zones.

Critics have been outspoken about SB 554 since it's inception, citing that it merely criminalizes some normal and legal behavior of responsible firearms owners, and does nothing to reduce societal violence. It makes criminals out of responsible citizens, and does not help improve public safety. It seems SB 554 also restricts one's ability to defend oneself at home.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-06-03 13:30:04Last Update: 2021-06-03 20:29:37

Annual Government Waste Hotline Report Released
Waste, inefficiency, and abuse

Secretary of State Shemia Fagan and the Audits Division have now released the 2020 Government Waste Hotline Report, summarizing the activity of the Government Waste Hotline for 2020. The hotline received 273 initial reports in calendar year 2020, ranging from requests for information to reports that warranted further investigation.

The hotline is for members of the public and state employees to report alleged waste, inefficiency, or abuse of state funds or resources by state agencies, employees, or contractors. Tips and complaints to the hotline have steadily increased over time, from 149 ten years ago to 273 in 2020, an increase of nearly 85 percent. This year, reports to the hotline included:

“My mission as Oregon Secretary of State is to build trust with Oregonians so that public services can make a difference in their everyday lives,” Secretary Fagan said. “The Oregon Government Waste Hotline is one of many tools we use to build trust through transparency and accountability in state government. Anyone who has knowledge of or concerns about state government waste, inefficiency, or abuse can report this information confidentially to our hotline.”

Complaints include allegations of fraud, theft, unethical or improper workplace conduct, time theft, and misuse of state resources, such as state vehicles or other property. State law ensures confidentiality to every person making a report through the hotline.

Upon receiving a tip or complaint, the Audits Division conducts an initial investigation of the allegation to determine if the matter should be further investigated. The Audits Division is required to notify the Oregon Government Ethics Commission if potential violations of Oregon ethics laws are discovered. Law enforcement must be notified if potential criminal activity is discovered.

A 2020 study by the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners found that tips are consistently the most common fraud detection method. The study indicated organizations with a reporting hotline have a higher likelihood of fraud being reported and addressed than organizations without a hotline.

Oregonians and state employees concerned about government waste and inefficiency should contact the hotline at (800) 336-8218, or submit a report using the online form at the Secretary of State’s website.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-06-02 16:32:13Last Update: 2021-06-02 16:51:43

When Chambers don’t agree
Go ask your dad

Last week was one of the final deadlines as the 2021 Legislative session winds down. Bills must have been moved out of the committee in the second chamber to remain alive, with a few exceptions.

Bills that had been sent from the House to the Senate needed to be moved out of committee either to the floor or to a revenue, rules or ways and means committee. The same process applies for bills sent from the Senate to the House.

While there have been plenty of bills that have moved beyond this deadline, it is always interesting to see what the second chamber decided to kill. Here are a few of the highlights.

Senate bills killed by House committees House bills killed by Senate committees
--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-06-02 10:32:58Last Update: 2021-06-02 11:13:13

Democrats Block Effort to Reintroduce ‘Ezra’s’ Law
Would provide parity in sentencing for victims

Oregon House Democrats have opposed renewed efforts from Republicans to adopt HB 2339, otherwise known as ‘Ezra’s Law,’ a bill to allow for sentencing that better reflects the impacts of permanent injuries for victims.

The bill is named after Ezra Thomas who was just 2 years old when his mother’s boyfriend, Josue Mendoza-Melo, attacked him. Today, as a result of the injuries, Ezra cannot walk, talk or see. While Ezra’s injuries have given him a life sentence of disability, Josue will serve no more than 12 years in prison.

The proposed law would secure longer sentences for people who cause permanent physical injury to their victim.

“This is a very sensitive bill that provides parity in sentencing for victims,” said House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby). “Consequences for violent person-on-person crimes should reflect the permanent damages that someone suffers as a direct result of a criminal’s actions."

"This bill should have bipartisan support this session and should not be a political issue.”

"It’s a terrible result for victims that this attempt was sidelined by partisan agendas," said Representative Daniel Bonham (R-The Dalles), a chief sponsor of the original bill.

"We shouldn’t let politics get in the way of an issue as important as this." Earlier this session, the Chair of the House Judiciary Committee refused to allow ‘Ezra’s Law’ to move to a work session. The scenario mirrors a similar situation that almost happened to ‘Bailey’s Bill,’ a proposal that protects victims of sex crimes with appropriate sentencing. This bill was also held hostage, and almost died, in favor of proposals that would reduce prison sentences for violent crimes.

“Ezra, and victims like him, should not have to wait for true justice,” said Representative Bonham.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-06-01 14:43:11Last Update: 2021-06-01 22:13:37

“Socially and Economically Disadvantaged”
Are they trying to hide the social justice agenda?

Recent ruling by U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor may impact the direction of many bills being considered by the Oregon Legislature. Judge O’Connor approved a temporary restraining order forbidding President Biden’s administration from giving out grants in a program aimed at prioritizing applicants due to their race and/or gender after he told plaintiff Philip Greer he is likely to succeed.

Greer prepared an application on behalf of his restaurant and is otherwise eligible to receive an RRF grant, but for the allegedly unconstitutional prioritization scheme.

At issue is the fact that the Biden administration directs prioritization of restaurants that are owned and controlled by women, veterans, and people deemed “socially and economically disadvantaged,” which includes those owned at least 51 percent by some Indian tribes or Native Hawaiian organizations. The lawsuit goes forward claiming “this is illegal, it is unconstitutional, it is wrong, and it must stop.”

Oregon’s leadership has been following the Biden administration in bills covering education, land use, energy, and business. These are a few examples of bills that could result in an unconstitutional law suit: Could it be that “socially and economically disadvantaged” is being used to pull on the heart-strings to hide the social justice agenda?

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-06-01 11:08:11Last Update: 2021-06-01 12:30:17

State Employment Numbers Released
Jobs Don’t Equate Recovery To Business GDP

Numbers were recently released for Oregon jobs on May 18, 2021 by State Economist Gail Krumenauer on jobs, states a monthly gain in employment in the government sector and in leisure and hospitality. She states a 59% return of jobs that were lost between February and April 2020.

How do these numbers look as far as they impact the GDP -- the value of goods and services provided in one year -- in Oregon? First the section of measured economy for Leisure and Hospitality is only 4.4 percent of our GDP. Oregon statistics also cite that regular unemployment received; 100% replacement wage as unemployed, but those in the leisure and hospitality trade received 134% of their wage. Ironically those best off under unemployment now have more jobs.

Government and government enterprises has a 25.68 GDP. Krumenauer reports 2,300 more jobs in government. What are those? Are they new regulators, like OSHA inspectors? Government regulates, it legislates, it does not create anything.

An example of what that GDP translates into: Agriculture, has a 13.2% or 50 billion of all Oregon sales. 10.6% or 22.9 billion of Oregon's net product and 13.8% of part time and full time jobs. This information from Agricultural statistics State of Oregon. Now that your nearly asleep, why do all these numbers matter?

Jobs lost in Oregon; 46.9% were in the leisure or hospitality section. These were the highest paid under unemployment to the tune of 34% more. So, is a reduction in their unemployment really a win?

Industries still showing significant stress among those which are significantly affecting our GDP are manufacturing, metal machinery, wood, electric products, transportation and equipment, and other durables. These industries represent a large part of our GDP. They are all still underwater in April of 2021. Aerospace is in fact still going lower and timber or wood at levels of the 1920’s. Reality is these numbers show that private enterprise is still suffering or still declining. These sectors actually produce products. The example of agriculture above shows that production enterprises filter down through several parts and layers of our economy. Products equate to consumer spending. Consumer spending is the number one biggest component of GDP or 2/3 of GDP.

--Liz Turner

Post Date: 2021-06-01 07:05:54Last Update: 2021-06-01 08:25:15

The Cost of Free Money
The Federal government is shoveling out money

Governor Kate Brown’s state budget included a quarter billion-dollar tax increase on mostly small businesses. According to the Taxpayers Association of Oregon, Brown wants to gut the 2013 small business tax savings and raise $273 million by closing tax loopholes. If Governor Kate Brown gets her way, small family-owned businesses will be paying more taxes than big C-corporation businesses on the same level of revenue.

What should be a sign of relief to receive $1.4 billion from the federal relief bill passed in March, may be costly. There are strings attached to that windfall. If states accept the funds, they are restricted from lowering their taxes. Governor Brown’s push for new taxes is not what state governors are doing in states that are thriving. Oregon’s $1.4 billion is after Oregon received $1.1 billion for Oregon schools, and $155 million for capital projects, and $1.5 billion for county, city and other local governments. The numbers start whirling when you think that in 2020 Oregon received $1.8 billion designated for specific projects by the emergency board, and $499 million for schools from Congress’ December relief bill, and $2.45 billion from the CARES act earlier in 2020. How much did all this money prop up the rosy May forecast?

Why would we accept restricted conditions to not lower taxes when accepting additional funds? Not to speak of the begging and graveling the counties and cities need to do to get their share released. While the state is focused on relief from the impact of COVID-19, the priorities seem to go deeper.

Despite all that inflow of federal dollars, the legislature still wants our kicker refund. Some bills take advantage of the emergency to justify tax credits for undocumented without social security numbers, landlords, spouse seeking degree, teaching in rural schools, and increasing workforce. And more specifically, health bills such as HB 2337, introduced by Representatives Andrea Salinas (D-Lake Oswego), Teresa Alonso Leon (D-Woodburn) and Courtney Neron (D-Wilsonville), are coming out of the legislative session in lock-step with federal requirements for funds. HB 2337 appropriates $2 million General Funds for two pilot mobile health units. The bill “declares racism a public health crisis; requires a study of the collection of information with respect to race, ethnicity, preferred spoken and written languages, and disability status; establishes grants to operate two mobile health units for underserved communities as a pilot program; and requires OHA to develop recommendations to fund culturally and linguistically specific intervention programs across all relevant state agencies.”

HB 2474 is another bill that will impact low-income families the most by the costs to businesses, stop production, and delay harvesting increasing food costs during an emergency. “During a public health emergency, the amount of time an employee must work for an employer before becoming eligible to take leave is reduced from 180 to 30 days and eligibility for employees can be reestablished if they separate and are reemployed by the same employer within 180 days or because of a temporary cessation of scheduled hours.”

The Federal government is shoveling out money rewarding states that made bad policies, and now enabling them to stick with those bad policies. Federal funds may not be the relief we hope for when it’s used for new projects that demands new taxes. What were policies to help the low income is having the reverse effect.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-05-31 20:02:07Last Update: 2021-05-31 20:04:03

COVID Cold War
Who is going to blink first?

The Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration has been the agency which has been responsible for fining businesses for non-compliance with COVID-19 regulations. The director, Michael Wood, appeared before the House Health Care SubCommittee on COVID-19 to answer various questions.

After Oregon Health Authority Director Pat Allen made it clear that businesses could not use an "honor system" to allow customers into their stores, State Representative Cedric Hayden asked Woods what the fine would be for a business using the honor system. Woods explained some less-than-relevant scenarios and then said:

If an employer refused to comply or simply said, "I'm going to use the honor system. I don't care what the State says." Well, the minimum penalty for a willful violation is $8,900.

At this point in time, it appears that many -- if not most -- businesses are not checking vaccination status at the door, and OSHA isn't doing anything about it.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-05-31 17:40:03Last Update: 2021-05-31 18:24:26

Veterans Memorial Wall Defaced
Wall of Honor Memorial in Eugene park

"I refuse to glorify imperialism" was found written in graffiti on a veterans Memorial Wall at Skinner Butte Park in Eugene, Oregon on May 30th, 2021.

On Sunday, May 30, at 9:20 a.m. Eugene Police received reports that someone had defaced the Veterans of Foreign Wars Memorial wall, which is along the park’s bike path, and which includes the names of people who have died serving the country.

The 12-foot granite memorial wall is inscribed with the names of 451 Lane County veterans who were killed in the war from World War I through Operation Desert Storm. It was dedicated May 30, 1996 and again September 11, 2010. The base reads, “Many millions of men, women and children have perished in war. May there be an end to war.”

Included in the criminal mischief was an anarchy symbol.

When police arrived, an unknown person was cleaning most of the paint off of it.

Eugene Police has alerted staff to pay extra attention with patrol checks near the memorial this weekend. If anyone has tips in the case they are asked to report those to the Eugene Police Department.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-05-31 13:17:39Last Update: 2021-06-01 13:22:53

Pay Per-Mile Road Usage in Oregon
Republicans and others are opposing the bill

Recently passed out of Oregon's Joint Committee On Transportation, HB 2342 is a bill that will mandate a Road Usage Charge on Oregonians that would be paid per-mile driven.

The bill is sponsored by Representative John Lively (D-Springfield) and will be headed next to the Ways and Means Committee for further discussion. The language of the bill proposes the following: Republican legislators and others, including the company Tesla, are opposing the bill, citing several issues with it. Representative Shelly Boshart Davis (R-Albany) has raised additional concerns about the privacy of Oregonians in the future during the Joint Committee On Transportation meeting on May 25th, 2021.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-05-31 11:43:03Last Update: 2021-06-05 17:46:34

Columbia County Tries to Weaken Sanctuary Ordinance
The 2nd Amendment initiative recently passed

The Columbia County Second Amendment Sanctuary Ordinance, recently adopted by the Columbia County Board of Commissioners is seen by many as an attempt to undermine the Sanctuary Ordinance initiative which was passed by the voters in November 2020.

Citizens of the county passed the “Second Amendment Preservation Ordinance” in 2018 and the “Second Amendment Sanctuary Ordinance” in 2020, and the county has now passed its own ordinance and the whole matter is in the hands of Circuit Court Judge Ted Grove for ‘Judicial Examination and Judgement of the Court as to the Regularity, Legality, Validity and Effect’ of the ordinance via a petition for validation of local government action.

Everytown For Gun Safety, a Bloomberg funded anti-gun-rights organization, has intervened in the case along with a New York law firm. While apparently Everytown knew this ordinance was going to be referred for review, and may have even requested the review, the chief petitioner for both initiatives, Chris Brumbles was never informed about this action. The county eliminated two Second Amendment ordinances passed by the people and created their own that stripped out important safeguards built into the ordinances. The Oregon Firearms Federation and Gun Owners of America have petitioned the court to intervene in the review. It may even be possible that the county commissioners actually violated the ordinance they were seeking to “review” just by demanding the review.

Under ORS 33.710, the Columbia County Circuit Court is authorized to conduct an examination of the ordinance and to provide a judgement as to the legality of the authority of a county governing body to enact the Second Amendment Sanctuary Ordinance.

Though the County claims they have filed the petition to clear up several important legal questions about what firearm regulations can be enforced in Columbia County, it is seen by many as an attempt by the County Commissioners to weaken -- and effectively eliminate -- the Sanctuary ordinances.

“To be clear, the County is not seeking to invalidate the Ordinance, only to get answers to the many legal questions raised by it,” County Counsel Sarah Hanson said. “As an example, Oregon law generally does not permit the County to regulate within the City limits without consent. We have asked the Court to inform us whether the cites have consented."

Hanson said this and many other questions arising from the two voter-passed initiatives and the Ordinance implementing them put the County and its residents in legal “limbo,” so the Ordinance has been put before the Court for answers. The statutory process will enable the County to get binding decisions from the Court which will allow the Ordinance to move forward in a form that is legal. It will provide the Sheriff and District Attorney with certainty as to what can and cannot be prosecuted.

“This proceeding will also inform residents of the County what firearm laws do apply to them so that no one is unwittingly found to violate a federal or state firearm law that they believe doesn’t apply because of the initiative measures,” Hanson said. “We don’t think anyone would want that result.”

The County expects a briefing schedule to be approved by the Court soon and hopes to have a hearing before the end of June, 2021.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-05-30 17:28:01Last Update: 2021-05-31 13:30:41

Kids in Control
Is there any relevance to best practices?

Involving kids into pollical decisions has been a priority for Governor Brown. So much so that HB 3363 establishes a Racial Equity and Justice Student Collaborative, which is directed by a work group of at least 6 students and 3 adults to filter prospective members of the Collaborative for the Governor’s selection. The majority of the members of the Collaborative must be students between the ages of 11 to 18. The Collaborative duties are to set goals, success criteria and progress measures related to student leadership and engagement in the policymaking process in this state.

The Collaborative gives students ages 11 to 18 a lot of power to be heard on policy for the state. But where they are considered an asset for their critical thinking, they aren’t trusted in other areas. Some laws proposed have a basis in the science of brain development and the permanent damage caused: Then there are those bills that take no account for brain development and the effect of real life experiences: Judicial treatment indicates a pattern of forgiveness: Consent and disclosure are at odds. SB 792 protects disclosing child’s identifiable information under 16 years of age when applying to State Fish and Wildlife Commission for license and tags.

However, parents should be aware of HB 3284, which allows 14-year-olds to give consent to collect, use or disclose personal health data. “Personal health data” is protected data and not for sharing without expressed consent, which your 14-year-old can give under this bill. This includes information that is collected to track, monitor or trace exposures to infections caused by or related to COVID-19 that can be used to identify a resident individual or others.

One thing seems clear, age is being used to the advantage of the issue at hand and has no relevance to best practices.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-05-30 12:05:20Last Update: 2021-05-30 17:40:03

Yamhill County Strikes at Gov. Brown
“Unsupported by science”

In a show of bipartisan unity, all three Yamhill County Commissioners prevailed upon Governor Brown to rescind her order to make vaccine police of those who operate places open to the public. The Board of Commissioners' letter opposes Governor driven mandates by Oregon Health Authority and Oregon OSHA requiring churches and businesses to verify vaccination for COVID-19, or require mask wearing before allowing entry. The mandate includes required training for employees in determining authenticity of medical records and knowing the protocols for the different vaccines available. Any mistakes by these employees could result in a fine. The other option is to require 100% wearing of masks until further notice.

In the letter, the commissioners point out that:

As a practical matter, requiring busine3sses and churches, and the employees of those businesses and churches, to verify a person's vaccine status is only going to lead to conflict between employees and customers...the last thing that any of these businesses and churches need is a yet another, unsupported by science, mandate from the State of Oregon that is only going to lead to conflict and these businesses and churches and their employees begin the long and arduous task of attempting to rebuild what they have lost.

This mandate is not supported by requirements from the White House, CDC or any federal agency. With both the federal government and Oregon’s Governor claiming the high ground in following the science on mask efficacy who’s right? A comparison to recent results in mask free Texas and Florida versus California ought to answer that one. Or is this not a matter of following the science but just a matter of exerting control over citizen’s lives? Oregon’s Governor has survived two recall efforts. Clearly there are many who question her judgement in balancing the needs of all citizens. The federal agencies stance may indicate a wish to avoid a challenge in court over violations of HIPPA laws.

According to many, Yamhill County Commissioner Kulla is a leader in Progressive Yamhill. He typically supports policies that favor Democrat control in all things regardless of Constitutionality. Fresh from his latest focus group, Kulla’s signature on this letter is significant in that it may signal even more progressive leaders and habitual critics of conservative commissioners, are becoming cautious of aligning with the Governor’s heavy-handed measures.

The deaths of six one hundredths of 1% of Oregonians have been attributed to COVID-19. The number of new cases reported nationally is at its lowest point since cases first rose in April of 2020. The curve has not only flattened, it is soon a candidate for the endangered species list. Maybe the Governor is concerned we’ve arrived at a point where Oregon’s counties may discontinue funding the salaries of hundreds of COVID-19 trackers.

Maybe she’s waiting for the teachers union to give her the green light.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-05-30 10:31:24Last Update: 2021-05-30 12:05:20

Another Government Employee Union
Just what Oregon needs

In a 75 to 31 vote (total eligible voters estimated at 180), Oregon Legislative staff -- the people who work for the State Senators and Representatives -- voted to unionize.

However, the union conversation is not new. SB 759 introduced by Senator Dembrow (D–Portland), Senator Gorsek (D–Portland) and Representative Wilde (D–Eugene) this session aimed to direct the Legislative Administrator to represent legislative departments in collective bargaining negotiations with legislative department employees, i.e., legislative employee unions.

However, after the bill passed the Senate on a party line vote, it was assigned to the House Rules committee where it has received just one hearing. This is possibly due to waiting for the outcome of the Legislative staff vote. During initial testimony on the bill, The Freedom Foundation testified that,

“Following recent attempts to organize a union of legislative employees, the Oregon Department of Justice (DOJ) has filed multiple objections with the Employee Relations Board (ERB) on behalf of the Legislature arguing that such efforts would violate both the Oregon Constitution and the state’s collective bargaining laws.”

The pending outcome of the latest round of objections by Legislators themselves, however, did not stop a few other Legislators from continuing the conversation.

The union vote was organized by IBEW Local 89, located in Washington state. IBEW Local 89 represents workers in numerous industries including: Telecommunications Installation and Repair, Telecommunications Network Construction, Satellite installation and Repair, Warehouse and Logistics, Manufacturing, Clerical and Campaign workers. However, currently most state employees are unionized under SEIU 503. Staffers selected the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 89 to represent them, in part, because the IBEW does not actively lobby in state politics and SEIU 503 does.

In an email sent to Legislative staff from IBEW Local 89 they announced:

We are happy to announce the results of this morning’s union election. Through an overwhelming showing of bipartisan support, you and your coworkers have voted “UNION YES”!

This is a monumental win for every staffer in Oregon as well as those watching across the country. Through your solidarity, strength and determination, you all are leading the way for legislative staff everywhere to have a legitimate voice in their workplace and the power to make a difference.

What is interesting about the statement is that they said, “Through an overwhelming showing of bipartisan support”. However, the balloting process was portrayed to staff as a secret ballot. How does the IBEW know it was bipartisan?

The announcement from IBEW was quickly followed by a joint press release from House Speaker Kotek (D- Portland) and Senate President Courtney (D – Salem) saying:

“We are committed to supporting the needs of the Legislature’s dedicated staff. The people’s work could not be done without them. Today, Oregon legislative aides took the historic step of becoming the first union of legislative staff in the country. We respect their decision, hear their voices and look forward to bargaining in good faith with their new union.”

Several issues may still be unresolved even after the vote. Department of Justice lawyer Tessa Sugahara, was quoted in a February OPB article saying, “Legislative Branch employees are exempt from, and generally not subject to, the State Personnel Relations Law”. She went on to add “The collective bargaining policy objectives of the Public Employee Collective Bargaining Act are irreconcilable with the policy objectives of the Oregon Legislative Assembly, and This situation raises both conflict and loyalty considerations that the PECBA policy did not anticipate.”

When the union movement gets to a point of actual negotiations, it may also be the solution to a bill that Rep. Wilde (D- Eugene) brought forth this session but that has yet to be heard in the House Rules Committee. HB 2220 removes the ability for member of Legislative Assembly to appoint or employ relatives or members of their household as their legislative staff unless relative or member of household serves as unpaid volunteer.

As most Legislators do not live in Salem year-round, they often employ their spouse or family member as a way to spend more time together and to supplement their legislative / household income. In addition, having a family member as their Chief of staff is often important to maintaining confidentiality and consistent communications with their constituents. After all, who know them better than their family. Also, many of the Legislative staff positions are limited duration positions, meaning they work only during the actual legislative session and not during the “off season”. By hiring family, the Legislator is also able to maintain some historical knowledge from session to session. This becomes even more important if they are a long serving member. Institutional knowledge of past legislation and actions can help make them more successful in the representation of their constituents.

One thing is certain, for better or worse, Oregon is once again a trailblazer in the political world as the first in the nation Legislative Staff union. However, there are still potential legal challenges surrounding the separation of powers clause in the Oregon Constitution, and unanswered questions about how the union will operate with the potential conflicts with the PECBA policy objectives. But what mostly remains is the potential problems that will arise when political leaders must bargain with the very employees who possibly share the same household with them.

--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-05-30 09:14:37Last Update: 2021-05-30 17:54:22

Oregon County Clerks Ask for a Piece of the Pie
“We believe these would be truly transformational investments”

The May 2021 revenue forecast was rosy, and with the influx of federal assistance, Oregon has an opportunity to make critical investments. Oregon Association of County Clerks is asking for $40 million to update and improve the aging election infrastructure.

They request consideration to fund targeted investments to help secure and improve our election systems that Oregonians rely upon: Bobbi A Childers, President of Oregon Association of County Clerks stated, “We believe these would be truly transformational investments and improvement to our election system across the state.”

Our county election officials are trying to do a good job. Still, No one can deny that there is a problem with election data being corrupted in our country. But Oregon still lacks an in-depth investigation into what types of voter fraud has taken place. Oregon received Election Security Funds from the Help America Vote Act (HAVA) to provide states with additional resources to secure and improve election systems. In 2018 Oregon received $380 million and in 2020 Oregon received $425 million, which doesn’t include funds to cover costs for the pandemic incurred by county election offices. Shouldn’t we ask them to account for these funds?

Janice Dysinger, Oregonians for Fair Election, is probably one of the most knowledgeable on Oregon’s voting systems. She says, “the weakest system in Oregon is the thumb drive transfer to the Election Night Reporting (ENR) system. Our data is obtained by querying the county election equipment tabulators and writing that information on a USB thumb drive then taking it out of the secure counting area and inserting it into another computer that is connected to the internet to send to the ENR system. A flaw in this system was recently reported in Douglas County in the May 18th, 2021, election which reported 5000 more voters than Douglas County sent.”

Until the investigation is completed over the 2020 election, new equipment from the same vendor connections with the same algorithms will solve nothing. Dysinger says, “Until we can see that there are no algorithms inserted into election tabulators and computers, that the programing is open source for all to see the computer's operations, by all parties and no interference with the data transfer routing through other countries to the Election ENR system, we need to hold off on spending more money on equipment. A more honest approach would be to fund a back-up plan to count ballots by hand in the precincts and posting the results with the signatures of witnesses at the precinct level and a second copy with real witness signatures sent with the ballots and posted in the county elections office window and on their website. Then securely faxing the results to the Secretary of State to post on their website. Until then the American people will not feel secure in the results."

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-05-29 21:52:46Last Update: 2021-05-29 22:11:07

Your Friendly Local Neighborhood Felon May be Voting
He’s still impacting your community

Senators Sara Gelser (D-Corvallis), Floyd Prozanski (D-Eugene), Michael Dembrow (D-Portland), Chris Gorsek (D-Portland), Kate Lieber (D-Beaverton), Representatives Janelle Bynum (D-Clackamas), Pam Marsh (D-Ashland), Andrea Salinas (D-Lake Oswego) have sponsored SB 571, a simple bill which would let incarcerated felons vote from the comfort and safety of their own jail cell

The bill did not poll well.

Strongly Support 18%
Somewhat Support 18%
Somewhat Oppose 16%
Strongly Oppose 37%
Don't Know 10%

The bill provides that the incarcerated felon's place of residence -- for the purpose of identifying what districts they vote in -- will be their last voluntary residence. So, not only does the felon get to impact the community through crimes committed, but once incarcerated, they get to impact that same community through a vote:

Section 5, (2) The Secretary of State shall by rule establish a process for identifying, for an individual confined in a jail, prison or correctional facility, including a local correctional facility as defined in ORS 169.005 or youth correctional facility as defined in ORS 420.005, the last voluntary residence of the individual prior to the confinement for the purposes of the individual registering to vote or updating the individual’s voter registration.

The bill passed out of a Senate Committee on a partisan vote, and was sent to the Joint Committee on Ways and Means, where it will most likely not be passed out.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-05-29 16:36:54Last Update: 2021-05-29 17:22:49

Gun Storage Bill Awaiting Brown’s Signature
SB 554 may be unenforceable

Currently awaiting the signature of Governor Kate Brown, Oregon seems about to adopt a very controversial and likely unenforceable law with SB 554. The bill has passed in both legislative chambers. It mandates gun storage requirements on all Oregonians.

Representative Boomer Wright (R-Coos Bay) made the following statement upon it's passage in the House:

SB 554 includes a mandatory storage component to hold victims of theft liable if their firearm is stolen and used in a crime before they can report it missing after a short time. In some parts of Oregon, reasonable access to a firearm is the only immediate form of defense that homeowners have against intruders, while it may take more than 30 minutes for law enforcement to arrive after a 911 call.

This proposal would criminalize law-abiding citizens by making it a felony for individuals with concealed carry permits to bring their form of protection to an area near a public building. SB 554 would make felons of responsible gun owners.

Meanwhile, suicidal ideation among children continues to climb, and numerous studies have tied this to distanced learning.

SB 554 does nothing to provide them with support and resources, failing to address the mental health issues that are often at the root of unwanted firearm usage. “This is certainly a bad bill for Oregonians, and I wish blocking this proposal was as simple as walking out,” said Representative Boomer Wright (R-Coos Bay.)

“This tool has been successfully used in the past to stop other harmful proposals and save Oregon nearly $1 billion. Unfortunately, walking out is not a realistic option to prevent SB 554 from passing."

Under the current “State of Emergency”, Governor Brown can (and will) issue an Executive Order in response to a walk out that would create a special session with NO quorum rules. If this occurs, the super-majority will pass anything they want.

The House Speaker enacted a $500 fine per day, per person for any unexcused absence. This money would be required to come out of each legislator’s own pocket, and could exceed $500,000 for all Republican members.

“Unfortunately, the supermajority has made it clear that they have zero regard for constitutional rights to personal safety,” added Representative Wright.

“This misguided proposal will make people less safe in their homes while criminalizing responsible and law-abiding gun owners. It does not address the root of the problem, but instead makes felons of responsible gun owners, levies misplaced accountability, and will have ZERO impact on criminal violence. We should be focusing on the root of the problem, not criminalizing citizens or putting them in danger.”

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-05-29 10:17:38Last Update: 2021-05-29 19:15:30

Vaccine Lottery In Oregon
To shoot or not to shoot?

Editor's note: A previous version of this article said that the Red Cross was not accepting blood donations from vaccinated people. This is untrue. We regret the error.

How much is your health worth? Would you play Russian roulette with your own health? There have been many concerns about the coronavirus, and now concerns have surfaced about the safety of the covid vaccines.

However, it seems Governor Kate Brown doesn’t care about the shortage of blood supply. She announced the launch of the Take Your Shot Oregon Campaign for all vaccinated Oregonians. Her aim is to get 70 percent of Oregonians vaccinated so it seems that leaves just 30 percent potential donors to give blood for surgeries and other situations where antibodies are needed in blood replacement.

It’s a double lottery one must play to win. Oregonian’s 18 and older will have the chance to win $1 million or one of 36 $10,000 prizes––with one winner in each county in Oregon. Oregonian’s age 12 to 17 will have a chance to win one of five $100,000 Oregon College Savings Plan scholarships. All Oregonians who have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by the draw date will be entered to win.

Who approved the $1.86 million used from the federal Coronavirus Relief Act funds Oregon received? Is this the best way for funds to be used for economic relief and recovery? How many having reactions to the shots will have a case to sue over manipulation? How many still-born babies will be casualties?

The lives of America’s youth may also now be at risk over an experimental injection for a virus which is 99.97% survivable and 99.998% for children 17 and under, and those number are before current medications have been proven effective. While all children are capable of getting the virus that causes COVID-19, they don't become sick as often as adults. Most children have mild symptoms or no symptoms, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Children's Hospital Association, and in the U.S. children represent only about 13% of all COVID-19 cases.

Children are not severely affected by COVID-19, so why should they receive an experimental vaccine? CDC admits that no completed experiments have been performed to know if there may be long term effects. Now our children are being pressured to take a shot in order to return to their old, normal lives (school, sports, friends).

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-05-28 14:20:23Last Update: 2021-05-29 21:52:46

Early Release For Prisoners
At the heart of the issue is recidivism

SB 819 is proposing prisoners serving time be allowed to go back to court and ask for a sentence reduction. This is another way to break Measure 11 sentencing.

This bill is designed to allow Multnomah County District Attorney Mike Schmidt -- known for his "catch-and-release" policies --, and one or two other District Attorneys of like mind, to get together with criminal defense attorneys and petition the county circuit courts to set aside Measure 11 convictions and sentences so as to allow lesser crimes of convictions and sentences -- with no mandatory minimum prison sentence -- to replace the original conviction.

Is this a solution to the Oregon's high prison population? During this time of a slowdown asked for by our head Supreme Court Justice led to 209,122 fewer criminal cases were filed in court statewide, from 2019 to 2020. More than a third lower. It adds cost at the county level by pushing even more cases on the court now -- which even at reduced numbers is 3% slower processing cases through the system. Sadly, it doesn’t equate to less crime -- but to more tickets. There are many crimes that cannot be given a ticket or violation resulted in jail because of COVID rules. We have more crime and less punishment. Less chance for those damaged to collect damages. More repeats.

At the heart of the issue is recidivism. How often do they repeat their crime? This is biggest impact on society. Looking at Oregon statistics showed that 41% committed a new crime within 3 years for a misdemeanor. Rate for felonies is higher, 55% committing new crimes within 3 years.

Thomas Paine, a founding father who wrote about effective government said: When a man has so far corrupted and prostituted the chastity of his mind as to subscribe his professional belief to things he doesn’t believe, he has prepared himself for the commission of every other crime.

Carolyn Leaf, PhD, brain expert and writer of Who Shut Off My Brain, exposes the real issue. Are we effectively changing the strongholds in the minds of those with a pattern of crime? The mind develops our response to any given situation by our past reaction. If we allow a certain response and act on it, it becomes a tree built in our mind. The next time the same situation comes up we do the same thing prompted by our mind.

Here’s some bright spots liberals ought to notice: Private rehab organizations have recidivism rates as low as 7%. Bridges for Change, SE Works, PEP, Prison Entrepreneurship, Delancey Street Foundation, Safer Foundation, and The Last Mile, are all examples. These programs show we do know what does work. Why are we ignoring this?

--Liz Turner

Post Date: 2021-05-28 09:46:41Last Update: 2021-05-30 10:22:52

Brown Vetos Motorcycle Bill
Bill approved limited lane splitting

Governor Kate Brown has vetoed SB 574, a bill that would allow motorcycle traffic to "filter" into traffic under certain conditions. As required by Article V of the Oregon Constitution, she notified both chambers of the legislature of her reasons for doing a veto.

This bill would allow a person operating a motorcycle to travel between lanes of traffic, under certain conditions and in specific circumstances. Some of the conditions set forth in the bill include the requirement that traffic is either stopped or has slowed to a speed of ten miles per hour or less, that the motorcyclist travels between lanes at no more than ten miles per hour above the speed of traffic, and that the motorcyclist does not impede normal movement of traffic. This practice, known as "lane filtering," is currently unlawful-as it is in many other states-due to legitimate public safety concerns.

While I appreciate that SB 574 is more tailored than previous attempts to legalize lane filtering, I have several concerns with the bill as currently drafted, particularly related to public safety and noncompliance with the proposed conditions, which prevent me from approving it. First, many stakeholders, including law enforcement agencies and members of the public, remain concerned that lane filtering is unsafe for both the motorcyclists and the drivers sharing the road, due to the serious injuries and death that commonly result from motorcycle-involved accidents. Second, although the bill proposes conditions with which a motorcyclist must comply (such as a maximum speed at which motorcyclists can travel between lanes), I remain worried that some will not adhere to these conditions.

Based on these concerns, I am returning SB 574 unsigned and disapproved.

According to the Oregon Constitution, if two-thirds of the members present in each chamber vote to override the veto, it becomes law, but most insiders think that this is unlikely, despite the fact that it passed by more than a two-thirds vote in the House, and might be expected to garner a two-thirds vote in the Senate, if all of the Republicans and Independents show.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-05-27 14:45:22Last Update: 2021-05-28 09:46:41

Jackson County Asks for Easing of COVID Restrictions
"This is the time to be easing restrictions"

The Jackson County Commissioners -- Rick Dyer, Dave Dotterrer and Colleen Roberts -- have sent a letter to Oregon Governor Kate Brown asking for COVID-19 restrictions to be eased, calling these restrictions "misguided" and saying that they "place unfair and undue responsibilities on local businesses and churches, and their employees and leaders."

The letter describes the burden on public establishments:

As a practical matter, requiring businesses and churches, and the employees of those businesses and churches, to verify a person's vaccine status is only going to lead to conflict between employees and customers. As Jackson County's restaurants, venues, churches, and other businesses have been devastated by shutdowns, restrictions, and limitations on their ability to provide service and function for over a year, the last thing any of these businesses and churches need is yet another, unsupported by science, mandate from the State of Oregon that is only going to lead to conflict as these businesses and churches and their employees begin the long and arduous task of attempting to rebuild what they have lost.

A de facto ethos seems to be evolving in the state in which public establishments ask patrons to be vaccinated or wear a mask, but fail to insist on proof of vaccination -- what amounts to an honor system. The commissioners closed by tying the availability of vaccines to the easing of restrictions:

Vaccines are readily accessible to any resident of Jackson County who wants to receive a vaccine. Any resident of Jackson County can walk up and obtain a vaccine without an appointment. This is the time to be easing restrictions, not creating new mandates in the guise of easing restrictions.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-05-27 13:48:01Last Update: 2021-05-27 14:45:22

Flags in School
More than just honoring our country

The Gresham-Barlow School District Board of Directors has had a busy month. They started out the month by accepting Superintendent Dr. A. Katrise Perera's letter of resignation, effective June 30, 2021, they saw 3 board seats changed in the election and 1 incumbent member drop out of the race, and this week they will vote on whether to change its flag display policy (Policy INDB). If approved, all schools in this district could display a Black Lives Matter (BLM) flag and a Progressive Pride flag, on school grounds and in all classrooms, along with the statutorily required American flag, Oregon flag, and POW/MIA flag as mandated in law by ORS 339.875 - Procurement, display and salute of flags. Which reads in part:

(1) Each district school board and public charter school governing body shall:
(a) Procure a United States flag and an Oregon State flag of suitable sizes and shall cause the flags to be displayed upon or near each school building under the control of the board or used by the governing body:
(A) During school hours, except in unsuitable weather; and
(B) At any other time the board or the governing body deems proper.
(b) Procure United States flags of a suitable size for classrooms and cause a flag to be displayed in each classroom in each school building under the control of the board or used by the governing body.
(c) Provide students with the opportunity to salute the United States flag at least once each week of the school year.

#BlackLivesMatter was founded in 2013 in response to the acquittal of Trayvon Martin’s death. The flag used by the organization is an adaptation of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) flag developed in the 1920’s to draw attention to lynching’s. 90 years later, Brooklyn-based artist and activist, Dread Scott, re-created the flag because he saw a parallel between the lynching’s and current day police killings and the Black Lives Matter flag was born.

The Progressive Pride flag is a take on the original rainbow Pride flag designed in 1978 by artist and gay rights activist Gilbert Baker. He came up with the design after prominent gay rights leader Harvey Milk urged him to create a new, positive symbol that the entire LGBTQIA+ community could rally behind. Today there are more than 20 different takes on the original design. However, the proposed change to the GBSD policy explicitly states the display of the Progressive Pride Flag. It was designed by Portland queer, non-binary demisexual designer, Daniel Quasar.

In addition to the flag discussion, the other change being considered is whether to expand the policies to give all students the time to learn and sing the Black National Anthem, adding to existing state statute requirement that public schools provide a weekly opportunity to recite the pledge of allegiance. The proposed policy change says: They (students) will also receive instruction on native land acknowledgements and have the opportunity to recite it at least once each week. Students shall learn the U.S. national anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner, AND the Black National Anthem, Lift Every Voice and Sing.

The Black National Anthem, Lift Every Voice and Sing, was written as a poem by James Johnson. In 1919, the (NAACP) dubbed it "the Negro National Anthem" for its power in voicing a cry for liberation and affirmation for African-American people. The song is a prayer of thanksgiving for faithfulness and freedom, with imagery evoking the biblical Exodus from slavery to freedom. If you are interested in watching the District Board meeting live, it takes place on Thursday May 27 at 6:00pm Link to join the board meeting via zoom:

Meeting ID: 851 3968 6099
Passcode: 388656

Or join by phone:
Dial US: 1-253-215-8782

--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-05-27 09:27:18Last Update: 2021-06-01 09:32:07

Democrats Derail Business Protections
“This bill provides protections to keep our main streets open right now.

A bi-partisan coalition of Republicans and Democrats nearly approved common-sense liability protections for small businesses during the pandemic.

HB 2638 limits liability for certain claims for damages arising out of acts or omissions taken during COVID-19 emergency period in reasonable compliance with government guidance related to COVID-19. Oregon House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby) made a motion to pull the bill from committee to the House floor for a vote.

Republicans and Democrats believe limited common-sense liability protections are needed to protect small businesses who follow the rules from bad actors trying to take advantage of the ongoing pandemic.

The motion narrowly failed, despite bipartisan support.

“COVID-19 health requirements for businesses have constantly evolved during the pandemic as circumstances have changed and we learn new information,” said Leader Drazan. “This bill simply provides better protections to keep our businesses and main streets open right now.”

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-05-26 14:40:33Last Update: 2021-05-26 17:51:11

Analysis: Maybe It’s Time for a Change
Let NAVs vote in the Republican Primary?

Instead of the constant drumbeat of "voter fraud" how about we tackle the real issue concerning elections in Oregon? Voter registration. These numbers are for real. No they didn't change 300,000 voter's registration. That is not happening. Not 300,000. Maybe a mistake here or there. Folks, we must focus on those NAV (non affiliated voters). I believe it's time for Oregon Republicans to change the state platform and allow NAV's to vote in our Primary. It's a fact that when "Bob" votes for "Bill" in a primary, he will very likely vote for "Bill" again in the General. I am not seeking an "open primary" which would let any registered voter in, just NAV's and Republicans. The Democrats hate this idea and will not adopt it.

I believe we can take this state in one election if we do this. Otherwise, we are stuck in the same holding pattern of losing due to the sheer numbers of Democrats now registered in Oregon. Instead of complaining about a "problem" that no one can really seem to prove, let's make something real happen. I know the "old dog" GOP will hate this idea....but it's time for fresh ideas and I am offering one.

One more note: it's not 6 or 7 counties that swing elections in Oregon anymore....count them...there are now thirteen!! That's one third of the state. Folks: we need to really come to grips with these numbers and change our approach.

Oregon Republicans: think about it.

The SOS site shows registration by county, representative, senate and Congressional districts as of April 2021. The numbers don't lie. I am open to ideas of how to overcome that 300,000 voter registration gap. Feel free to give your ideas in social media. I only see positives with letting NAV's into our primary.

--State Representative Bill Post

Post Date: 2021-05-26 13:42:34Last Update: 2021-05-26 14:08:22

Justice in Oregon
Facing your accuser is vital.

Founding Father James Madison said: “Justice is the end of the government. It is the end of civil society.” Justice is one of two, guaranteed in our pledge of allegiance, which ends with Justice and Liberty for all.

SB 296 is a request to continue to extend the time frames in court for any or all cases, based on a request from Chief Justice Marsha L. Walters. What might that mean to you personally?

Take a look at some statistics from the State of Oregon:

2019 saw 721,911 cases filed statewide. That includes all types of cases. 10% of those ran past the goal in time to be finished. 58% of the cases were done in 0-6 months.

In 2020 under our first agreement to allow the Chief Justice to extend time:

Cases filed 456,613 statewide. 13% ran past goal of time to be finished. 46.6 were complete in 0-6 months.

In the end, more than a quarter of a million fewer cases were filed. Even with 265,298 fewer cases filed to finish was 3% slower.

In Wasco County the main courtroom seats around 300. Isn’t it possible for a few people to have live court with that much distancing?? Facing your accuser is vital. Seeing the evidence, seeing the expressions, all are needed. Justice is for all.

--Liz Turner

Post Date: 2021-05-26 12:36:48Last Update: 2021-05-26 14:25:06

Linfield University and Stable Higher Education
President Davis is standing his ground

Linfield University is a small college located in McMinnville. big changes at a small University.

Miles Davis has been president of Linfield University since 2018. Enrollment at the University is up 40% since he took the helm. A black man from humble beginnings with no Ivy League credentials, he has offered buyouts to 13 professors in liberal-arts programs with shrinking enrollments. Most of the over 4600 institutions of higher learning in the U.S. are bleeding money. Quietly going broke would be a more direct way of stating their condition.

Students keep funding the economically unsound higher education system with ever larger government backed loans many hope they won’t have to repay. Miles Davis is trying to get out ahead of the unstable economic problem by returning to education that prepares students to make a living in a free market world in addition to gaining a well-rounded education. He is also concerned that “schools are failing to encourage open-mindedness”, with professors “coming into academia believing their narrow minded perspective is right.”

Linfield Trustees prepared to finalize a change to their governance that would give nursing and business programs equal representation to liberal-arts on Linfield’s board. Two thirds of Linfield’s graduates come from its nursing and business programs. A Jewish liberal-arts professor was the faculty representative designated by opposing viewpoints. Going beyond arguments concerned with a proper response to declining enrollments in liberal-arts, he cited past claims of sexual harassment against trustees on the board to discredit their decisions to elevate nursing and business representation on the board.

Miles Davis fought back claiming the professor was unfairly hurting the University for personal reasons. The professor was fired by his dean, provost and legal counsel not the board of trustees. 2000 professors nationwide have signed a letter in defense of this “whistleblower”. Claims of restricted free speech and threats to faculty governance are lead arguments in their May 17th announcement of an investigation into the firing. President Davis is standing his ground claiming change is necessary and not without challenges.

--Tom Hammer

Post Date: 2021-05-26 11:46:45Last Update: 2021-05-26 12:01:18

Review: Climate Change: A Convenient Truth
So, in which group are you?

Finally, a book on climate that anyone can understand. If you master the forty-eight short chapters in this little book you will be well on your way to understanding the basics of climate change: Man’s part and Nature’s. This is a book that needs to be read more than once and then shared with your friends. Careful reading should convince you that even a majority can be wrong.

A lot has been written about global warming/climate change, especially in the last couple of years. We have been led to believe that if we do not take immediate, expensive and decisive action the world as we know it will come to a dramatic end.

But, is it true? Where is the evidence that man is the cause of this warming? Can we do anything about it, or do we just let nature have its way?

No-one can dispute the fact that the earth is warming. It has continued to warm since the end of the last ice age, about 10,000 years ago. At one time North Idaho was buried under a mile of ice.

But what is the evidence that man is the chief cause of this warming, or that we can stop a further increase in temperature simply by ending our use of all fossil fuels, (coal, oil, natural gas etc.)? This book was written for you. It is time that you had a chance to know the truth. The mainstream media wants to convince you that we are headed for a catastrophe if we simply do nothing. Twelve years ago we were told we only had ten years left, yet those ten years have come and gone without any change in our climate.

There are three types of people who consider climate change.
  1. The first is the government paid scientists and those associated with them who will not be convinced no matter what is said, because if they had to admit they were wrong it would end their employment.
  2. The second are those who only watch television, never pick up a book and really do not want to know the truth until their house goes dark and it is too late to do anything about it.
  3. The third group includes a large number of people who have received much conflicting information and still do not know the truth, yet they seek to understand it.
So, in which group are you? This book was written for the third group. It is written so you can understand climate change and how it affects you. You have to understand that the program of the first group has to do with a lot more than just climate. You can have no effect on them unless you know the truth.

There were some great principles in the founding of America, which allowed us to use our coal, oil and natural gas to make America the greatest nation in the world -- a nation that was ready and able to help other peoples when they had dire needs from floods, earthquakes, fires, and other calamities. If the program of the Green New Deal becomes the law of the land we may never be able to help the needy again.

The book is available on Amazon in paperback and Kindle formats.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-05-26 11:12:33Last Update: 2021-05-26 11:20:23

Vaccine Passports: Legal Action Taken
“This guidance puts Oregon at odds with the CDC, the White House, and nearly every other state in the country”

Oregon once again made national headlines last week for being the first state in the union to move forward with a vaccine verification system for its residents.

The May 18 Interim Guidance for Fully Vaccinated Individuals, from the Oregon Health Authority, reads “a business, employer or faith institution that has a policy requesting and checking for proof of vaccination and requests and reviews proof of vaccination may permit fully vaccinated individuals with proof of vaccination to go without a mask, face covering or face shield, and does not need to enforce physical distancing requirements for such individuals”.

The Freedom Foundation quickly released a statement, condemning the guidance and compelling the governor to rescind the order.

“The Freedom Foundation was the first to sue Gov. Brown over her mask mandates last year and we’re prepared to fight her in court over this ludicrous vaccine passport, as well.

Today, The Freedom Foundation began making good on its promise to challenge Governor Kate Brown’s implementation of “vaccine passports” in Oregon.

A demand letter sent to Governor Brown and the Oregon Health Authority argues that the guidance violates the right to be free from compelled speech and association guaranteed by the First Amendment, the right to informational privacy guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment, and the right to equal protection of the law, also guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment.

The letter gives the Governor three options – rescind the order entirely, provide Oregonians data to justify why the guidance is necessary, or expect the matter to be resolved in court.

“The fact that the Governor has not yet rescinded the order is laughable,” said Jason Dudash, Oregon Director of the Freedom Foundation.

Dudash continued, “This guidance puts Oregon’s Coronavirus response at odds with the CDC, the White House, and nearly every other state in the country, save our equally tyrannical governor to the north, Jay Inslee. Assuredly this is not because our Governor has a brilliant mind for public health policy; rather it’s because everyone else can recognize the glaring flaws and significant constitutional issues that exist in implementing a policy such as this”.

“At every step through this pandemic, Gov. Brown has showcased her disdain and her distrust of Oregonians. She needs to recognize that Oregonians from every walk of life have made immense sacrifices over the last year to get through the pandemic, and she should trust that we will continue to do the work to get to the finish line without the need for her regressive policymaking”.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-05-26 10:08:30Last Update: 2021-05-26 11:32:35

Republicans Demand End to Vaccine Passports
“We request that you end vaccine passport immediately”

In a letter to Governor Kate Brown Oregon House Republicans are requesting that the Governor end the vaccine passport system that is nominally in place in Oregon. Anecdotally, compliance with the decree -- at least in terms of retail establishments actually checking for proof of vaccination status -- has been spotty.

The letter describes policies in both Washington and California -- both of which are less strict than Oregon's and then goes on to make the case for Oregon:

Unlike Washington and California, Oregon’s response to the announcement from the White House and the CDC puts pressure on businesses and exposes front-line workers to confrontation. Patrons are required to either display proof of vaccination as a passport or continue to wear masks regardless of their vaccine or immunity status. Both options for businesses contradict CDC guidelines.

At the beginning of the pandemic Oregon committed to aligning regulations with Washington and California. We should not become an outlier now. We are reaching the end of the pandemic and should be lifting mandates, not adding new ones.

The letter concludes with the request that the Governor "end this vaccine passport/verification system immediately."

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-05-25 16:03:39Last Update: 2021-05-26 08:27:18

Crater Lake Bill Signed by Governor
“This is something all Oregonians can take pride in”

In 1902 President Theodore Roosevelt set aside territory in south central Oregon to create Crater Lake National Park on May 22nd. This year, 119 years later, Crater Lake National Park gets its own official day in Oregon. State Representative E. Werner Reschke (R-Klamath Falls) introduced HB 3162 and teamed up with State Representative Vikki Breese-Iverson (R-Prineville) to build a coalition of supporting legislators to shepherd the bill to passage.

“We were able to get support from urban legislators and rural legislators, Democrats and Republicans, Senators and Representatives to join us in designating May 22nd as Crater Lake National Park Day in Oregon,” said Representative Reschke. “Crater Lake National Park is Oregon’s only national park. It is a special place; it needed its own special day.”

Located in Klamath County, Crater Lake was formed by an eruption on Mount Mazama 7,700 years ago. Local Native Americans witnessed the collapse of Mount Mazama and kept the event alive in their legends. Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States and 9th deepest in the world. 750,000 people a year, from around the world visit Crater Lake National Park on an annual basis.

“Crater Lake National Park is renown for its pristine, deep blue water, and the amazing 360- degree bowl that majestically surrounds the lake. Crater Lake National Park is truly a national treasure located in Klamath County Oregon. We need to celebrate Oregon’s only national park and now we have a day to do just that. This is something all Oregonians can take pride in,” said Rep. Reschke.

Governor Brown signed HB 3162 into law on May 21, 2021.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-05-25 09:37:11Last Update: 2021-05-25 09:56:59

Complaint Filed Against Former Yamhill County Counsel
He and others used Yamhill County government to circumvent land use law.

On May 24th a complaint was filed with the Oregon State Bar against Yamhill County Chief Counsel Timothy “Todd” Sadlo. The Oregon State Bar Association is the disciplinary agency for lawyers in Oregon.

Yamhill County began to acquire property and started construction on a recreational trail in rural Yamhill County. Several residents objected and the Land Use Board of Appeals denied the County's request for variances.

The complaint was filed on behalf of farmers who have been plaintiffs in five actions against the County before the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals over a three year period. The County, with Sadlo as counsel, has lost those actions every time. The complaint alleges illegal activity that stemmed from County Counsel ignoring Land Use Board of Appeals directives while in remand.

Recently requested public records show Sadlo’s actions were a deliberate part of a strategy involving others inside and outside of Yamhill County government to circumvent land use law. His role in the matter has the County potentially liable for millions of dollars in grant money obtained through ODOT under false pretenses. A June 2020 email from ODOT warned the County its actions may have negative consequences. He could also be charged with violating ORS 294.100 which deals with government officials who willfully and wantonly squander public funds. That carries a high level of proof and a much higher penalty of personal financial liability.

Sadlo was named applicant for a pedestrian pathway on an abandoned rail right-of-way by the 2012 Board of Commissioners. The Commissioners acted on an official but false report that said farmers had no objection to the Trail. The Trail was to be a recreational facility inserted into exclusive farm use zoning. Under Oregon’s Land Use Law the pathway, named Yamhelas-Westsider Trail, would be a non-conforming use. To operate the non-conforming recreational pathway the County would need to obtain a Conditional Use Permit before proceeding. To receive such a permit the County would first have to pass an Agriculture Impact Study showing no substantial harm to farming practices.

The County failed to pass such a Study but proceeded to buy the abandoned right of way and begin construction of a bridge substantial enough to carry light rail. A change to the Board of Commissioners brought the improper actions to light and now Sadlo and other County staff complicit in the matter are likely to be held accountable. Improper actions also involved two past commissioners and one current commissioner who will face the voters in 2022.

--Tom Hammer

Post Date: 2021-05-25 07:15:36Last Update: 2021-05-25 09:37:11

Land Use in Yamhill County
Is the system working?

The Department of Land Conservation and Development is responsible for land use policy in Oregon. Part of their mission is to balance 19 different goals intertwined with land use. Three of their many goals are the preservation of farmland, provide for housing and provide for commercial growth. Yamhill County has need for all three.

Agriculture built this county and is still the number one industry. Population growth has used up most of the inventory of buildable residential sites within the Urban Growth Boundaries of Yamhill County’s cities and towns.

Urban Growth Boundaries, used to reign in urban sprawl and define areas of buildable land, were established near 45 years ago. Since then they have expanded about 20% while the population has doubled. Originally land use planning was to have a 20 year supply of residential land in inventory. Oregon has not kept pace with that goal, putting a strain on housing and artificially increasing the price of an average home.

Yamhill County has many second and third generation residents, but will future generations find a home and job here, or will they have to move away.

Photo by Dan Meyers on Unsplash

--Tom Hammer

Post Date: 2021-05-24 18:38:05Last Update: 2021-05-24 18:55:03

Senator Heard Votes ‘Yes’
Only bills intended to restore freedom

Senator Dallas Heard (R-Roseburg) released the following statement:

“Today we as Senate Republicans pulled to the floor SB 867 which would have required public schools return to full-time and in-person classroom instruction during the 2021-2022 school year. For the first time this entire session I was able to vote yes on a measure.

Only bills intended to restore the freedoms stolen from our citizens during the past 14 months should be passing the Senate floor until the people of Oregon have been restored to their rightful place in the State Capitol building. Our children's education has suffered a great and lasting impact due to the reckless decisions made by Kate Brown and her supporters within the Democrat elected power base. If we, as Oregonians, hope to continue to be a prosperous and blessed people, we must restore our children to their rightful place in the classroom.

I am calling on the free people of Oregon to demand that their elected House and Senate members legislatively strip Kate Brown of her emergency powers that she has repeatedly used in an abusive, discriminatory, and tyrannical manner by passing SR 2.”

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-05-24 18:33:07Last Update: 2021-05-24 18:38:05

Segregation Returns to Oregon
If you’re not vaccinated, get ready to be a part of the “out” group

Today Governor Brown announced that “Oregon Health Authority (OHA) will be revising health and safety protocols for businesses in Lower Risk counties to allow for the option of creating vaccinated sections. Before this latest move of the goal posts, the following applied to the Low Risk categories:

Eating and Drinking Establishments: Indoor Recreational and Fitness Businesses (gyms, indoor K-12 sports and indoor recreation activities) Indoor & Outdoor Entertainment Establishments (aquariums, movie theaters, museums, concerts) Retail Stores / Indoor and Outdoor Shopping Centers / Malls Faith Institutions The change announced by Brown states that the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) is updating the guidance for Lower Risk counties allowing the option for vaccinated sections for businesses, venues, and faith institutions. This means that: The press release also says that the Portland Trail Blazers drove the conversation to promote the changes. They will “be the first indoor sports venue in Oregon to welcome fans back to vaccinated sections this week” Governor Brown stated. The Portland Trail Blazers appear to be going against the recent movement by professional athletes and sports teams who have been speaking out against discrimination and lack of equity. The adoption of segregated seating sections may very well end up be discriminating and take the equity discussion in the opposite direction intended.

The Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) communities are one of the lowest vaccinated groups in Oregon, according to OHA data. Approximately 23% compared to the white population at 38% and the total population of almost 51%. Does this mean that the Moda Center will not only segregate vaccinated from unvaccinated, but inadvertently also separate Oregonians by race?

--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-05-24 13:52:54Last Update: 2021-05-24 14:10:54

Senate Republicans Vote to Get Kids Back in School
Democrats kill bill along party lines, continuing the Governor’s power to lock kids out of the classroom

Senate Republicans have attempted to pass SB 867, a bill that would reopen schools for full-time, in-person instruction for the 2021-2022 school year.

According to data, Governor Brown’s arbitrary COVID-19 metrics are putting Oregon third-worst in the country on school re-openings. Barely 1/3rd of Oregon schools are in “On-Site” instruction while the majority are in hybrid.

“Kids deserve to be in the classroom,” Senator Dick Anderson, chief sponsor of the legislation, said. “It’s past time to give students a guarantee that they will get a real education next year. This past year and a half has devastated learning for our kids and wreaked havoc for parents trying to make ends meet. This bill was about making a promise to Oregon students that their education matters.”

Recent scientific studies have shown that kids hospitalized for COVID have been overcounted, further quelling fears about COVID-19 in schools. Just over a week ago, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten came out in support of getting American students back into the classroom for full-time instruction:

"Given current circumstances, nothing should stand in the way of fully reopening our public schools this fall and keeping them open,” Weingarten said in a speech. "The United States will not be fully back until we are fully back in school. And my union is all in.”

“The evidence is overwhelming that schools are safe, but Democrats believe the science is different here in Oregon. Other states have returned kids to the classroom, but our students and families are still struggling with a Governor that doesn’t listen and an education system that isn't required to meet their needs,” Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod (R-Lyons) said.

Republicans have advocated to fully fund and fully reopen K-12 schools with school districts’ recommended budget of $9.6 billion. Senate Republicans have also put forward a robust education reform agenda this session that would have given kids and parents more control over their education. Democrats have blocked all but one of them.

SB 867 was blocked from consideration by Democrats along party lines, leaving in limbo another year of education for Oregon students.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-05-24 12:14:28Last Update: 2021-05-24 12:48:02

Let’s Make Slavery Illegal in Oregon
We may have become too sensitive

Senator James Manning Jr (D-Eugene), Senator Lew Frederick (D-Portland), and Senator Rob Wagner (D-Lake Oswego) would like us to believe that Oregon was and is a slave state by what is written in the Oregon Constitution, Article I, Section 34. This is what that section reads on the Secretary of State’s website:

Section 34. Slavery or involuntary servitude. There shall be neither slavery, nor involuntary servitude in the State, otherwise than as a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted. -- [Added to Bill of Rights as unnumbered section by vote of the people at time of adoption of the Oregon Constitution in accordance with section 4 of Article XVIII thereof]

These legislators have introduced SJR 10, which proposes to amend Section 34 “to prohibit slavery and involuntary servitude in all circumstances.” There proposed revision would read: Sec. 34. There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in this state. Deleting: [the State, otherwise than as a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted].

Perhaps they didn’t see the reference to Article XVIII, Section 4, which references and repeats the same wording referring to Article I, Sec. 34. In 1925, Oregon voters repealed the constitutional provisions relating to the exclusion of African-Americans. However, the language relating to race remained in the Oregon Constitution. In 2002, SJR. 7, 2001, the voters passed Ballot Measure 14 removing historical race references. At that time, Section 34 did not trigger any connection between slavery as a race identification for the incarcerated.

We may have become too sensitive to now suggest actual circumstances would tie race together with slavery in the context of Section 34. Removing "otherwise than as a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.” was not meant to imply the incarcerated were slaves any more than anyone else. Prisons employ the incarcerated, whether voluntary or involuntary servitude, to maintain the facilities, clean our highways, make our license plate, among other things. If we remove the “involuntary” from chore assignment and discipline assignment, we have gutted the rehabilitation framework to incorporate them back into society.

If this bill is put to the voters, and we ignorantly pass it, how many people will the state need to employ, at taxpayer’s expense, to do the work that prisoners now do?

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-05-24 11:52:34Last Update: 2021-05-24 12:14:28

Social Studies in Oregon
Amending the standards

SB 702, sponsored by Oregon Democrats, is an effort to establish a task force to review social studies that may work to exclude parents.

Currently, Oregon's content standards for K-12 schools are reviewed on a rotating basis by the State Board of Education. Notably, the Senate Committee on Education recently amended the bill SB 702 to direct the State Board of Education to review social studies standards.

Senator Knopp (R-Bend) submitted Amendment A-2, which was adopted by the committee, and that amendment at least added a parent to the list of contacts and the constitution as a point of instruction. It seems the original bill did not include that specific criteria.

What makes this bill of particular concern is the treatment of “standards,” which is supposed to incorporate research of social studies disciplines and best practices into a curriculum. The bill requires as a part of the review, the State Board of Education is to consult with any combination of the following but must include at least one person who is: It seems very notable that there are no experts in the discipline of social studies on that list.

ORS 329.045, requirements for review, specifically involves “teachers and other educators, parents of students and other citizens and shall provide ample opportunity for public comment.” One parent and one educator and no public comment does not seem to meet statutory requirements.

When conducting the review, the State Board of Education is also required to consider emphasizing civics education and making more accessible instruction related to: This raises a lot of questions. Do they intend to teach children a biased view of why violent riots in Portland or justify them as a social movement? Will that teaching include how violence is being condoned because it is associated with a social movement? Is this an attempt to incorporate Critical Race Theory into the curriculum?

How are Oregon students to achieve any success when they are not guided by best practices? Without public and parent input, how can parents stay involved in their children's lives.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-05-23 14:30:54Last Update: 2021-05-23 16:10:40

Suspected Sex Trafficker Wins Re-election
Oregon democrat Dave Hunt ran unopposed

Former Democrat Speaker of the House and current lobbyist Dave Hunt of Milwaukie, Oregon was just recently caught and charged in a sex trafficking sting operation, and now it seems that he has secured re-election to the Clackamas Community College Zone 3 Board Director position, running unopposed and getting 92 percent of the total vote.

The only other option for voter's on the ballot was for a write-in candidate, which is known to be nearly impossible. Write-in candidates received 230 votes, or 7.43 percent of the total vote.

Since his arrest, Hunt has taken a leave of absence from his board duties, and his continued service to the Clackamas Community College seems unlikely.

Hunt is the former Oregon Speaker of the House during the 2009-11 Oregon legislative session and the Democrat House Majority Leader from the 2007-2009. He also served as a representative in the Oregon state legislature for District 40, where he represented the Clackamas area. He served from 2003 to 2013.

Hunt helped to pass a bill criminalizing sex trafficking in 2007.

The Portland Police Bureau's Human Trafficking Unit cited 8 men total during the sting, including Hunt, conducted in April 2021. They were lured through known trafficking websites.

Hunt, along with others arrested apparently arranged payment for sexual acts. Hunt will be charged with at least Commercial Sexual Solicitation.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-05-23 14:13:14Last Update: 2021-05-23 15:49:54

Government Overcharging Itself for Labor
Because you have the votes?

Oregon is one of 29 states that has a prevailing wage law requiring that state and local governments pay a higher amount to workers on public projects than market-based wages. While these laws have the effect of raising wages of workers, they also make government more expensive and in some cases make public projects impossible.

SB 493, introduced by Senators Rob Wagner (D-Lake Oswego) and Kathleen Taylor (D-Portland) is a proposal to make significant changes in how the wage is calculated. Currently, the employment department does a survey of relevant wages and presents them to the Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries who decides what the wage will be.

Now, SB 493 proposes that the prevailing wage be the highest wage on any collective bargaining agreement -- a move which will surely drive up most wages.

What will be the final effect? Many projects simply will not be undertaken. Projects that will be undertaken will be only the most necessary infrastructure projects, while leaving behind some of the less-necessary but more glamorous parks, paths and pools.

Representative Daniel Bonham (R-The Dalles) led a Republican revolt against the bill. In his floor speech, he pondered, "Why are we doing this now? Why is this the right time? Because you have the votes?"

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-05-23 10:16:31Last Update: 2021-05-22 16:33:41

“Take your shot Oregon” at Winning the COVID Lottery
Nope. I want a dozen Krispy Kremes and a free tee shirt, too.

This week the Governor Brown announced the next plan for getting people past vaccine hesitancy, free money! During her press conference, Brown stated “If you've been waiting to get a vaccine or you just haven't gotten around to it yet, we're going to give you an extra incentive, how about a million dollars?"

So, if you are 18 years of age or older and still not vaccinated, here is your chance to be rich -- sort of. Oregonians 18 and over who receive at least one dose of the vaccine before June 27th will be entered into both a state wise lottery and an individual county drawing. Those ages 12-17, will not be left out of the game. It they also receive their first dose by June 27th, they will be entered into an Oregon Saves Scholarship drawing.

The statewide cash lottery winner will receive $1,000,000 and each county lottery winner will receive $10,000, before taxes. That’s right, lotter winning are considered ordinary taxable income for both federal and state tax purposes. That means winnings are taxed the same as wages or salary and the entire amount must be reported on the winners tax return.

If you’re the lucky statewide winner, you will have both the 8% state tax and 24% federal taxe withheld. So automatically, the $1,000.000 = $680,000 after taxes. Still not a bad deal for most working-class Oregonians. If you are the county winner, your $10,000 = $6,800 after tax obligation. There may also be additional tax implication depending on your current tax filing status. Only your accountant can answer specific tax questions.

The state will also offer five $100,000 scholarships through the Oregon College Savings Plan (OCSP). The OCSP allows for pre-tax contributions to be made to the state managed college savings accounts and students can then withdraw the funds for qualifying post-secondary education expenses.

While OCSP does not have the same income tax implications as the lottery winnings, there are still annual asset-based fee. These have varied historically between 0.25% and 0.72% depending on the types of investments the owner directs the funds to be places in. Theoretically, the $250 to $720 annual asset-based management fee charged by the state should be less than the earning of the investment. However, like the stock market, there is o guarantee on the investment.

So, for a minor intending to seek post-secondary education this might be better than winning the lottery. However, if the student choses to not attend a qualified post-secondary school option and withdraws the money for something other than education, there will be state and federal tax penalties taken out of the funds. Again, only your personal account can answer these detailed questions.

So, for the procrastinators of the world, this may be your chance to get rich if you chose to get vaccinated. For those that don’t chose to get the shot, the current Oregon Lotter jackpot is at $3, Megan Million is at $20M, and Powerball is at $218M, and every Casino in the state is up and running 7 days a week. Like they say, “you can’t win if you don’t play”. Which game you chose to play in this case is up to you.

--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-05-23 08:23:24Last Update: 2021-05-22 16:29:05

The Road to 70%
Are the goal posts going to move again?

Editor's note: A previous version of this article contained a math error. Thanks to a reader for pointing this out. It has been corrected below. Since her press conference in which Oregon Governor Kate Brown announced the target of 70% of the population vaccinated, Oregonians crave clarity on two basic issues.

When are we going to reach 70%?

The definition of who is vaccinated is not always made clear. Some reports show number of doses administered, and few count that as being vaccinated. Some count the administration of both doses -- in the case of the Moderna and Pfizer which need two doses -- which probably equals "vaccinated" for most, but the vaccines require that the subject wait two weeks for the vaccine to fully take effect, so for most, the safe definition of "vaccinated" is both doses plus two weeks.

Governor Brown's definition of vaccinated is, in her own words "the number of Oregonians age 16 and older that we need to reach with a first dose."

According to the Oregon Health Authority website as of this posting, 2,150,964 Oregonians have received at least one dose. The US Census Bureau estimates that 20.5% of the population is under 18, which means 17 and younger -- not quite an exact amount to subtract to get 16 and older, but very close. If the population of Oregon is about 4,300,000, that means that The target population is about 3,500,000 and that we are at about 61.4%.

This means we need another 299,036 people to get vaccinated to get to the golden 70%. The OHA reports that it is doing about 30,000 doses per day, and one could conservatively surmise that this number will slip due to the fact that the remaining unvaccinated people are fewer, harder to find, and in many cases harder to convince. If the OHA were to average 25,000 per day, they could get to 70% in a couple of weeks. Governor Brown is "confident we can get there in June."

What happens once we reach 70%?

Again, in Governor Brown's words, from her press conference, "Once we cross that statewide goal, yes, that means, no more county risk levels, and a lifting of most restrictions –– including capacity limits for venues and businesses, and limits on group sizes.

That sounds like good news, but she manages expectations.

Common sense safety measures, like wearing masks and physical distancing may remain in effect, in line with CDC guidance. We will continue to evaluate CDC’s recommendations on these measures and align them with Oregon’s needs. Public health will remain focused on testing, contact tracing, and continuing to monitor hospital admissions so we can do this safely. We still have some work to do to reach our 70% goal, but I am confident we can get there in June and return Oregon to a sense of normalcy.

Remember, though, this speech was delivered prior to the CDC's declaration that vaccinated persons no longer need to wear masks. Watch for the goal posts to be moved. In the little over a year that COVID-19 has been upon us, we've seen a slew of executive orders and retooling of information.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-05-22 17:01:23Last Update: 2021-05-23 12:57:35

Election Humor to be Restricted
No more joking about when to vote

Joking about elections in Oregon may about to become some real serious business.

Legislation is on the horizon which would make communicating false statements about an election illegal and punishable by a fine up to $10,000.

HB 2323 is a bill currently awaiting action in the Senate Committee On Rules. It has a public hearing scheduled on May 25th, although the public is currently not actually allowed to attend.

The legislation is summarized as follows:

Prohibits knowingly communicating materially false statement, including by electronic or telephonic means, with intent to mislead electors about date of election, deadline for delivering ballot, voter registration deadline, method of registering to vote, locations at which elector may deposit ballot, qualifications of electors or voter registration status within 30 days of primary election or special election or within 60 days of general election. Authorizes Attorney General] Secretary of State to prosecute violation and establishes civil penalty of up to $10,000 for violation. Expressly states that current prohibition on circulating materially false statement relating to candidate, political committee or measure includes circulation by electronic or telephonic means. Prohibits printing or circulation of imitation voters' pamphlet unless pamphlet is clearly marked as unofficial. Establishes fine of up to $10,000 for violation.

The bill has bi-partisan support, and is sponsored chiefly by Representative Julie Fahey (D-Eugene) Perhaps it is a good idea, perhaps not. Critics may note the potential for unequal and unequitable application of this law, and the possible danger of selective enforcement. The law may prove to be entirely unenforceable. It seems that Oregon legislators are willing to experiment with how to run the lives of Oregonians these days, so look for this bill to be passed into law in the near future.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-05-22 11:29:54Last Update: 2021-05-22 11:50:24

The OHA Has Your Vaccine Information. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
The state had a breach in health data a couple of years ago

As the debate over vaccine passports rages and a cold war between retail businesses and state COVID-19 enforcement officials brews, citizens -- even those who are grateful to get the vaccine -- are starting to question the need for the Oregon Health Authority to collect and store data on their vaccination status.

It's pretty clear from the form to request a duplicate vaccination status card that the OHA has collected information that could be a significant threat in the case of an identity theft incident.

Two years ago, the Department of Human Services had a breach in which hundreds of thousands of records containing highly sensitive identity information was compromised. The DHS released a statement, required by law, describing the breach.

On January 28, 2019 DHS and Enterprise Security Office Cyber Security team confirmed that a breach of regulated information had occurred. Nine individual employees opened a phishing email and clicked on a link that compromised their email mailboxes and allowed access to these employees’ email information. Current information indicates on January 8th, a spear phishing email was sent to DHS employees. Through our process of discovery, we learned that there were nearly 2 million emails in those email mailboxes.

The unauthorized access to the affected email mailboxes was successfully stopped. DHS is in the process of thoroughly reviewing the incident and the information involved. This investigation includes clarifying the number of impacted records that might contain personal information of clients receiving services from DHS.

Clients’ Protected Health Information under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was accessible to an unauthorized person. Client information may include first and last names, addresses, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, case number and other information used to administer DHS programs.

For some, this is just another argument against vaccine passports and the like, in which the government maintains control of the data.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-05-21 15:06:25Last Update: 2021-05-21 17:11:09

Indigenous Peoples’ Day
Indigenous People should be alarmed

Passed into law this week is a curious bill that pleads for explanation. HB 2526 passed mostly on party lines with Democrats carrying the torch for Indigenous people. But, do they?

The bill becomes very confusing as to what the real purpose is. The bill is summarized as, “Designates second Monday of October of each year as Indigenous Peoples' Day.” However, in 1971, the second Monday in October became Columbus Day, which was declared a federal holiday In 1937.

Oregon does not observe Columbus Day as a state holiday. So is this an excuse to celebrate the day with the rest of the nation? The bill doesn’t make Indigenous Peoples’ Day a holiday, so it has no more value than Columbus Day has. Or, is the bill using the Indigenous People as a tool to belittle and critic the founding of America? After all, the bill begins with “Whereas Christopher Columbus, a man who is known to have “discovered” the Americas, came upon land that was already inhabited by Indigenous People, his historically cited contributions being either inaccurate or facially not worthy of celebrating; and Whereas Columbus’ voyage to the Americas opened the door to heinous crimes against humanity, including but not limited to the introduction of transatlantic slavery and genocidal acts against Indigenous People.”

There is a lot to push back on those two statements that are now engrained into Oregon law. For instance, you can’t push the 1619 Project and say Columbus opened the door to heinous crimes against humanity. Even though Columbus has a history of dealing in slave traffic, the Mayflower did not bring slaves to Plymouth Rock.

Indigenous People should be alarmed at how the leadership in Oregon has continuously and slowly included them into Oregon laws and invading their sovereignty to provide services. Being a part of the “underserved” and “underrepresented” is endangering the sovereignty of tribal nations. Tribal nation is used as a tool to control, and given them a used holiday is throwing crumbs of disrespect. So, what was the real purpose of HB 2526?

Senator Boquist explains it this way: “HB 2526 replaces Columbus Day with Indigenous Day instead of giving true Native Americans their own holiday. Strange the virtue signally proponents inside the Legislative Assembly did not want to give indigenous people their own day. Instead, they want to revise history. It is inappropriate to only give the first people a ‘hand me down’ day. They deserve better...”

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-05-20 10:02:01Last Update: 2021-05-20 10:42:23

Stan Pulliam Announces Federal Lawsuit Against Gov. Brown
“The constitution provides us specific guarantees of liberty”

Sandy Mayor Stan Pulliam is announcing a lawsuit to be filed in Federal court on behalf of Heart of Main Street, the Oregon Mom’s Union, and several businesses and individuals. The lawsuit challenges Oregon Governor Kate Brown’s authority to continue using executive action to maintain a state of emergency.

“The constitution provides us specific guarantees of liberty,” stated Stan Pulliam. “The Governor’s broadly applied authority continues to be shrouded in opaque rationale, undisclosed science, and arbitrary metrics. After 14 months, it’s time to put an end to this and restore our constitutionally protected rights as Americans.”

The announcement will be made outside of Spud Monkeys, a Gresham restaurant and bar owned by Melissa Adams. Late last year, Spud Monkeys was visited by an Oregon Health Authority employee, who ordered a burger and a beer from her restaurant, and then cited her for illegally opening.

The lawsuit will be filed early this week in Federal court by Ed Trompke, an attorney with Portland law firm, Jordan Ramis, PC, seeking to restrain enforcement of the Governor’s order.

“The state of emergency was necessary when we didn’t know anything about the virus,” said Stan Pulliam. “But we now have a vaccine, we understand how it’s transmitted and how it’s not, and we don’t see any discernible difference in outcomes between states that are open and the increasingly few that aren’t.”

"Parents should not have to go to court to get their kids back to school," said MacKensey Pulliam, board member for the Oregon Moms Union. "We've been given hope time and time again and each time our leaders have broken their promises and failed to get our kids back to school. Parents and kids can wait no longer."

The discovery process of the lawsuit will force the Governor’s office to produce the scientific data Stan Pulliam and others have been demanding for several months, forcing Brown to prove why it has been necessary to lock down main street businesses while big-box stores remain open.

“A governor’s powers in a state of emergency must be narrowly defined and temporary. Instead, they have been broad and ceaseless. It’s clear Governor Brown has no intention of relinquishing this absolute power herself, so we are forced to petition our judiciary branch to do it for her,” concluded Stan Pulliam.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-05-19 18:40:01Last Update: 2021-05-19 18:49:25

“Swimming in Cash”
Republicans Set Priorities For Excess Tax Revenue

According to the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis, Oregon is swimming in money. After devastating lockdowns that have resulted in the highest long-term unemployment rate in nine years, the state still brought in billions over projection, indicating that calls for federal bailouts for state governments were overblown

This will trigger one of the largest kicker refunds in state history at $1.4 billion. That’s enough to give every individual in Oregon $330, despite Democrat book cooking to keep some of the kicker.

“Money is coming out of our ears. This one-time dump of federal money needs to be used responsibly. We must first ensure taxpayers get their full Kicker. That money belongs to them, and there is no justification to take it from them,” Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod (R-Lyons) said.

After the kicker, the Legislature has a little over a month to appropriate an extra $1.182 billion this budget cycle. Today’s announcement also projects the state to bring in an extra $1.250 billion in the 2021-2023 biennium.

“This money should be directed to Oregonians' most pressing needs. We must fully fund and fully reopen our schools, invest in our workforce, and assist in wildfire recovery efforts,” Senator Girod said.

Senate Republicans are proposing the following allocations from excess revenue that has come into the state:

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-05-19 18:28:44Last Update: 2021-05-19 18:38:04

Why Bills Die
In this case, it’s unwanted and unneeded

On of the police reform bills introduced this session is a ban on police use of HB 2928 which regulates use of chemical incapacitants, kinetic impact projectiles, sound devices and strobe lights by law enforcement agencies.

Introduuced by Representative Bynum, the bill has been assigned to the Joint Committee on Ways and Means, where no one seems to be paying attention to it. It's co-sponsored by a host of Democrats, including Representative Wlnsvey Campos(D-Aloha), Maxine Dexter(D-Portland), Khanh Pham (D-Portland), Karin Power (D-Portland), Lisa Reynolds (D-Portland, and Andrea Valderrama (D-Portland).

In a recent poll, some similar concepts did not do well. Whan asked if they would like to "prohibit police from using pepper spray except when riots are officially declared," Oregonians were tame to the idea.

Strongly Support23%
Somewhat Support21%
Somewhat Oppose17%
Strongly Oppose30%
Don't know8%

In the case of this bill, it passed out of the House Committee on Judiciary, Chaired by Representative Bynum, no less and has now spent more than a month in Ways & Means, where it seems destined to die.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-05-19 17:03:40Last Update: 2021-05-19 18:40:01

Government Meddling in Business
Mandated requirements for board directors

HB 3110 has passed in the Oregon House of Representatives on party lines and moves to the Senate for consideration. This bill requires board of directors of publicly traded corporation to have at least one female director and one director who is a member of an underrepresented community.

Board composition is ultimately up to a corporation's shareholders votes. Representative John Lively points out, “there is a great deal of evidence showing that these decisions are not always made fairly or with the financial health of the corporation in mind. There is quite a bit of data showing a certain percentage of a Board of Directors being composed of women results in greater profitability, for example, yet a surprisingly high number of Boards still do not include any women.” So, according to Representative Lively, it’s big government’s responsibility to force a more profitable scenario for a corporation.

Lively also says, “HB 3110 preserves the shareholders' choice in Board selection but levees a fine if they decide not to be inclusive in a few specific ways.” If no females run for a board, or shareholders don’t vote for at least one female, it’s a civil penalty of at least $10,000 for publicly traded corporations. Isn’t this voter manipulation, also called voter fraud?

Not to make this bill more confusing, but the bill defines “Female” as meaning an individual who self-identifies as a woman, regardless of the sex assigned to the individual at birth. It seems a man can self-identify as a female or qualify as underrepresented.

Representative David Brock Smith (R-Port Orford) submitted a Vote Explanation:

“Forcing a corporation to have specified proportions of female directors and members of BIPOC communities is not something this legislative body should be doing and as many women and BIPOC leaders have said, this action would diminish the hard work of those that currently hold these positions. A perfect example of this are within this very House of Representatives, where the majority of members are women.”

The bill degrades females and underrepresented. Women work hard to earn their place and this is offensive and belittling to a woman that would be appointed to a board for any other reason than her ability. The same applies to underrepresented, which is an individual who identifies as having a low income or very low income background, including almost anyone except a straight white person from a moderate to wealthy background, and they should feel the same about their ability to qualify.

It goes against business concept that shareholders electing board members. Shareholders have many interests, but first and foremost it is the financial health of the business. Companies and board members have a fiduciary duty to shareholders to maximize their return on investment. That means that directors are voted on based on whether they will further the goal of benefiting shareholders, not the community at-large. Trying to tie a false sense of equity is government capturing the free market into captivity.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-05-19 09:00:39Last Update: 2021-05-19 09:50:29

Free Health Care
Counties could be required to finance what was enacted by the legislature

Many bills this session have moved through both chambers on party line votes. However, with the Democrat Party in charge there has been little the Republicans have been able to do to stop legislation from moving into law.

SJR 12 introduced by Senator Elizabeth Steiner-Hayward (D–Portland) and Representative Rob Nosse (D-Portland) has been 16 years in the making and pays homage the late Rep. Mitch Greenlick. In 2005, Greenlick filed a petition for the “Hope for Oregon Families” ballot initiative. The HOPE for Oregon Families initiative if passed by the voters would have added Section 46 to Article 1 of the Oregon Constitution stating that: Health care is an essential safeguard of human life and dignity and there is an obligation for the state to ensure that every Oregon resident has access to effective and affordable health care as a fundamental right.

Although it failed to make the ballot it did spark a movement to provide healthcare for all in Oregonians which has partially been adopted through the passage of Cover Oregon, the Federal Affordable Care Act, and the Oregon Healthy Kids program. Since then, several attempts have been made to pass similar legislation onto the voters for approval. Each of those measurers failed in the legislature despite the Democratic party having control of the House, the Senate and the Governor’s office. During the House floor debate Rep. Brock-Smith (R-Port Orford) reminded his colleagues that “This is not the first time this bill has appeared in this chamber and I think it needs to be said that, with all due respect to the late Representative Greenlick and his body of work for all Oregonians, we have not passed this bill because it is not a good bill and his passing does not make the bill any better”.

However, this time the majority party pushed it over the finish line and SJR 12 is headed to the voters in November. They will now decide if Section 1 of the Oregon Constitution should be changed to ensure that every resident of the state has access to cost-effective, clinically appropriate, and affordable health care.

If approved by the voters, the aspirations of the resolution will then need to be codified into law by the Legislature. In her remarks during the Senate Floor vote, Senator Steiner Hayward stated “It will require substantial action on the part of this legislature, in consultation with a wide range of experts, to determine the best way to fulfill the requirements put forward in this constitutional amendment. Those legislative actions will then be evaluated as part of the process for their costs and how they will be paid for. In other words, it is aspirational until it is passed by the voters, then it becomes the obligation of the legislature.

Representative Christine Drazen (R-Canby) agreed that sending it to the voters under Section 1 of the Constitution it becomes an obligation of the state if passed. “SJR 12 is either aspirational or it is a right, it can’t be both” she stated to her colleagues during floor debate. “Upon passage it becomes an obligation of the state of Oregon to provide every resident of the state with access to cost-effective, clinically appropriate, and affordable health care” she concluded.

If approved by the voters, the Legislature will need to balance it with that of other existing obligations such as funding public schools and other essential public services. However, as noted by the Legislative Council, the state could also be responsible for right of action claims (lawsuits) against the state if they fail to meet that obligation. In their report they stated,

“If SJR 12 is adopted by the voters, the state could be subject to a lawsuit if it fails to satisfactorily implement each resident of Oregon’s fundamental right to access cost-effective, clinically appropriate and affordable health care. The text of SJR 12establishes a state obligation and a corresponding individual right. Further, Sen. Steiner Hayward (D-Portland) acknowledged that an action could be brought against the state”. The concluded that, “We believe a court would likely conclude that subsections (1) and (2) of section 47 (of the SJR 12) read together, along with the legislative history, create a private right that could be enforced in court and that the adoption of SJR 12 by the people constitutes a waiver of sovereign immunity.

In addition, if the voters approve the ballot measure generated by SJR 12, the Legislature could place the aspirational responsibility onto the counties, cities and other entities. Representative Cedric Hayden (R–Roseburg), who initiated the conversation with Legislative Council, told the members of the House that “It has been stated that this may not cost the state anything. I believe there is a loophole”. Again, he referred to the response from Legislative Council which stated,

“The Legislative Assembly would not be prohibited by the Oregon Constitution from enacting legislation to require county governments to establish and maintain health care delivery systems so that county residents can have access to cost-effective, clinically appropriate and affordable health care”.

They also concluded that counties could be required to finance what was enacted by the legislature if it passed the legislature by a 3/5 majority which would remove the unfunded mandate argument.

Many members of both chambers agreed that Oregon can do better when it comes to healthcare services for its citizens, but they disagreed along party lines that SJR 12 is the answer. The voters will now decide and if passed the Legislature will decide what access to cost-effective, clinically appropriate, and affordable health care means, how to pay for it and what other services within he state budget may need to be reduced.

--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-05-19 07:59:20Last Update: 2021-05-19 18:36:15

The COVID Police
OSHA, OLCC and BOLI will continue to enforce

The Oregon Health Authority released its new Statewide mask requirements today. Here is what you need to know.

Interim Guidance for Fully Vaccinated Individuals

All businesses, employers and faith institutions are required to continue to apply and enforce the mask, face covering and face shield guidance, and physical distancing requirements in state COVID-19 guidance to all individuals unless a business, employer or faith institution: Business that chose not to have a policy for checking proof of vaccine may remain open with face coverings required for all customers.

In a press conference regarding the release of the new options, Dr. Dean Sidelinger, the Director of the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), was asked about the burden this places on businesses to be the ones to ask for proof and then “validate” the proof. He replied “That is why businesses have a choice to wear the mask or ask for customers to show their vaccine card. If it is too hard or they don’t want to review records they can continue to require masks.”

Dr. Siedlinger was also asked about enforcement and who or what state agencies would be responsible for enforcing the business implementation of vaccine proof for those businesses that chose to drop the masks. He responded that “enforcement will continue to be done like it has been done throughout the pandemic by using existing Executive Order authority which includes the use of the Occupational Safety and Health Agency (OSHA), Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) and local public health departments. Also, individuals can file complaints and OSHA will follow up on the complaint.

The current enforcement language Dr. Sidelinger was referring to is contained in Executive Order 20-66, section 10.

10. Enforcement.
a. This Executive Order, the Risk Level Metrics, and any guidance issued by OHA or another state agency designated by the Governor to implement this Executive Order, are public health laws as defined in ORS 431A.005, and may be enforced as permitted under ORS 43lA.010, including but not limited to enforcement via civil penalties as provided in that statute, which has a statutory maximum fine of $500 per day per violation.

b. In addition to any other penalty that may be imposed under applicable laws, any person, business, or entity found to be in violation of this Executive Order, the Risk Level Metrics, or any guidance issued by OHA or other state agencies to implement this Executive Order, is subject to the penalties described in ORS 401.990, in particular, that any person knowingly violating this Executive Order shall, upon conviction thereof, be guilty of a Class C misdemeanor, which is punishable by up to 30 days in jail or a fine of $1,250 or both.

c. I direct other state agencies with regulatory enforcement authority, including but not limited to Oregon Occupational Safety and Health (Oregon OSHA) and the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC), to continue their efforts to protect the lives and health of Oregonians by enforcing, under existing civil and administrative enforcement authorities, the directives in this Executive Order, the Risk Level Metrics, and any guidance issued by OHA or other state agencies to implement this Executive Order.

d. I direct the Superintendent of the Oregon State Police to coordinate with law enforcement agencies throughout the state to enforce the directives of this Executive Order, the Risk Level Metrics, or any guidance issued by OHA or other state agencies to implement this Executive Order, as appropriate. It is my expectation that law enforcement agencies will primarily focus on referral to civil enforcement authorities and will reserve criminal citations for willful and flagrant violations of this order.

So, the question is, how will business know if a vaccine card is authentic? Rachel Monahan with Willamette Week also asked Dr. Sidelinger during the press conference about the authenticity of vaccine cards and the fact that they can be easily faked. Dr. Sidelinger responded saying “We are not expecting businesses to check vax cards for authenticity”. He went on to add that vaccine proof could be “the actual paper record issued during the vaccination, a copy of the record or photograph of the record on your smart phone”. He also assured reporters that “the proof will NOT be recorded by the business they just need to see it”.

The Biden administration has also declared it would not create a federal vaccination database, citing privacy concerns, paving the way for the cards to become the country’s default national way to verify if someone has been vaccinated according to an NBC News Report on forged vaccine certificates. In addition, in an April 6th press conference, White House Press Secretary, Jen Psaki said "The government is not now, nor will be, supporting a system that requires Americans to carry a credential. Our interest is very simple from the federal government, which is Americans' privacy and rights should be protected, and so that these systems are not used against people unfairly." So, do the new OHA rules go against the federal government and the Biden administration?

In a press release from the Oregon Senate Republicans, Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod (R-Lyons) said,

“Vaccine passports are completely contrary to Oregonians' sense of privacy,” in a democracy, having to present proper paperwork to engage in everyday activities is a complete violation of public trust and an invasion of privacy. This kind of dictatorial control over the everyday lives of Oregonians must stop. The Governor should immediately rescind this misguided edict and trust Oregonians.”

The press release went on to say that, to date, Oregon is one of the first, if not the first, to mandate that its residents present credentials to engage in everyday activities without a mask. Struggling small businesses will now need to hire extra staff to question Oregonians’ medical history at these checkpoints or reject scientific recommendations by still mandating masks for vaccinated Oregonians.

--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-05-19 07:25:44Last Update: 2021-05-19 07:59:20

New Mask Guidelines are Out
Spoiler alert: You need a mask or proof of vaccinations

Driven by the CDC announcement that its guidance would be that masks need not be worn, Oregon Governor Kate Brown has struggled to produce a response with the major point being whether businesses will be required to ask customers to prove or demonstrate that they have been vaccinated, new mask guidelines have been produced by OSHA today. These guidelines are strangely silent on any requirement that businesses check vaccination status.

If your hopes were raised, they should now be dashed as a press conference with the Oregon Health Authority has made it clear that businesses are required to check vaccination status.

If a business, employer or faith institution chooses to no longer require masks and physical distancing, the business, employer or faith institution must require visitors to show proof of vaccination and review the proof of vaccination. In that case, a business would need to have a policy for checking the vaccination status of customers and employees if they are not wearing masks. Fully vaccinated individuals would need to provide proof they’d been vaccinated if they want to remove face coverings and not observe physical distancing guidelines.

These policies are echoed in a one-page explanatory document issued by the Oregon Health Authority.

The guidance seems to indicate that businesses are to develop their own policy for checking "proof" of vaccination and doesn't describe that process. The guidance doesn't take up such issues as people who cannot be vaccinated and people who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the past and may have natural immunity.

Several businesses have opened to maskless shopping. We'll see if Governor Brown has enough clout to turn that around.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-05-18 12:27:38Last Update: 2021-05-18 16:04:31

The Pink Tax
What problem are you trying to solve?

It's no secret that prescription drug prices are spiraling out of control. The cause of the high cost isn't so well understood by some. Take SB 711, introduced by Senator Deb Patterson (D-Salem) which requires the Department of Consumer and Business Services to study cost differences in hormone replacement drugs used by men and pharmaceuticals] hormone replacement drugs used by women and report findings to Legislative Assembly. Patterson describes what she calls a "Pink Tax" in her testimony on the bill:

"In retail sales, it is a common practice to charge more for items targeted at women than items targeted at men. Such gender-specific pricing is commonly referred to as the “Pink Tax.” We see It in items such as personal care products such as shampoo or razors and in services such as dry cleaning -- a woman’s cotton blouse costs more to dry clean than a man’s cotton shirt."

Patterson ignores the fact that in a free-market economy, anyone can set any price they want, and if there really were an arbitrary reason for charging more for personal care products or dry cleaning, some crafty entrepreneur would by now have cut the price on these items and cornered the market. Price injustice almost only occurs under monopolies, during natural disasters and under the reign of government price fixing. Patterson concludes her testimony:

Finally, I would like to remind the Health Committee that a gender pay gap exists, as well, with white women making on average 79 cents for every dollar a white man makes. For women of color, the disparity is greater, dropping to 62 cents for black women and 54 cents for Hispanic women. We must work to close these gaps, and to address inequities where they exist across our economy. Exploring whether there is gender inequity in pharmaceutical costs, which have risen by 33% in the last seven years, is another piece of that puzzle.

Senator Patterson seems at once very progressive, while at the same time a step behind the current left-leaning thought on gender, which is characterized at least by an utter inability to define a man or a woman.

Senator Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer), also provided testimony on the bill from the perspective of someone who -- at least at one time -- knew man from woman.

As written, the bill is problematic in that we should be looking at pharmaceutical costs in aggregate, and not based on preconceived notions of what “female” drugs or “male” drugs are. In classifying drugs this way, without looking at the real reasons behind the costs of the drugs, we fail to consider that drugs aren’t used specific to gender, specific to men or specific to women. Drugs are used to treat medical ailments, or to promote positive health outcomes for those to whom they’ve been prescribed.

Her testimony continued

If we start categorizing these types of hormone therapies as men’s and women’s drugs, we are missing the point that the goal should be to treat patients where they’re at with their health, with their medical conditions, and not try to segment their conditions perceived on “this” being for a man or “that” being for a woman.

Senator Thatcher concluded her testimony, by scolding the legislature for it's treatment of the gender issue in general.

This bill is well-intended but because of bills this body has chosen to pass, the terms “men” and “women,” are no longer relevant in Oregon law. It’s a little confusing this body would choose to use these terms now, regardless of past policy precedent.

It gets hard to create law and policy on the subject of gender when there no longer is gender.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-05-18 12:05:58Last Update: 2021-05-17 18:21:02

Legislature Enables Medical Passports
Individually identifiable information would be used

Oregon's Governor Kate Brown has announced that she would immediately have the state follow the CDC guidance on masks, all the while setting standards so high it will be at least several weeks before Oregonians can breathe easy again.

According to the latest CDC guidance, all people will still be required to wear masks only on public transportation, inside airports and while in health care settings.

Not letting a CDC guideline go to waste, Governor Brown has her team, Representative Andrea Salinas (D-Lake Oswego), Representative Ron Noble (R-McMinnville), Senator Deb Patterson (D-Salem), Representative Lisa Reynolds (D-Portland), Representative Maxine Dexter (D-Portland), Representative Paul Evans (D-Monmouth), Representative Dacia Grayber (D-Tigard), Representative Rachel Prusak (D-Tualatin), and Representative Sheri Schouten (D-Beaverton) making sure HB 3057 passed both houses on May 13.

HB 3057 is Oregon’s attempt to make vaccine passports a reality. The bill violates federal law and HIPPA patient privacy. The intent is to allow nurses and bureaucrats not involved in patient care to access a citizens’ medical records on a computer system without either the patient or patient’s providers knowledge.

Senator Boquist (I-Dallas) has released a vote explanation saying:

“HB 3057 is an Oregon Health Authority end run on HIPAA confidential patient health information very likely in violation of federal law. Likely a statute designed to shield OHA from its illegal activities during the symptomatic Covid-19 political pandemic in which OHA locked seniors in homes to intentionally perish. Classic crimes against humanity. Oddly, the bill attempts to re-define Covid-19 directly to only cases of SARSCoV-2 instead of their own OHA CDC definition of symptomatic Covid-19 which is 16 times broader per the CDC’s own data. If the bill’s definition were strictly applied cases would plummet, however, the definition cannot be correct. Nor does OHA display any competency what-so-ever to be given any additional authority. The Carrier was quite clear the intent was to allow nurses and bureaucrats not involved in patient care to access a citizen’s medical records on a computer system without either the patient or patient’s providers knowledge. The Carrier stated the intent was to protect nurses from exposure that were not patient providers. The Carrier could not provide a reason for the need of this bill at this time when questioned…”

Boquist goes on to point out some discrepancies in the bill regarding the security of patient information that ultimately allows OHA to release patient information for any reason it deems necessary and to non-providers.

The legislative analysis indicates that according to the United States Department of Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights, the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) Privacy Rule allows law enforcement, paramedics, and public health authorities to disclose protected health information (PHI) of an individual infected with, or exposed to, COVID-19. For public health purposes, federal law allows covered entities such as hospitals to disclose PHI with federal, state, and local health departments, if reporting is for public health activities and disclosure is required by federal, state, or local law.

Thus, we have HB 3057 authorizing disclosure, but the bill doesn’t just allow the Oregon Health Authority to receive information as HIPAA would suggest. It wants to share your medical information with the world. Whether it be via an app verifying vaccinations to fly or to do business in person, it discloses protected health information beyond the medical field and beyond public health purposes creating its own pandemic.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-05-18 11:24:43Last Update: 2021-05-18 11:44:07

Don’t Get Rid of that Mask Just Yet
Gov. Brown balks at a maskless society

As the surprise CDC guidance on masks is embraced and celebrated by some, in Oregon, the mighty hand of government may not be moving on this issue. Governor Kate Brown has issued a statement on the CDC action in which she announces the rosy news.

Starting today, Oregon will be following this guidance, which only applies to fully-vaccinated individuals. That means Oregonians who are fully-vaccinated no longer need to wear masks or social distance in most public spaces.

Further in her comments, the Governor makes it clear that masklessness is dependent on vaccine compliance and providing proof of being vaccinated.

In the coming days, the Oregon Health Authority will be providing updated guidance for businesses, employers, and others to allow the option of lifting mask and physical distancing requirements after verifying vaccination status. Some businesses may prefer to simply continue operating under the current guidance for now, rather than worrying about verifying vaccination status, and that’s fine.

The Governor makes it clear that she regards masks as a trade for vaccines. That might work for most people. It may not work for those who -- for a medical reason -- cannot be vaccinated. It fails to take into account those who have already had the disease -- can we call them "COVID survivors?" She lays out the options.

Oregonians now have a choice of how to protect themselves and others from COVID-19: either get vaccinated, or continue wearing a mask and following physical distancing requirements. The new CDC guidance makes clear that vaccines are the best tool to protect yourself, and everyone around you. Vaccines are also the fastest way to get back to doing the things we all love, and to returning to a sense of normalcy.

At the very least, Oregonians are owed a more specific description of the options and the consequences. At this stage, Oregonians are probably owed some freedom.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-05-18 08:38:56Last Update: 2021-05-17 18:29:39

Can the Grand Old Party GOP Survive in Oregon?
Bill would make it illegal to simultaneously serve as a state officer

Oregon politics has been dominated by the Democrat party since 2007 when the party took over controlling majority in the House, the Senate and the Governor’s office, and the Republican party has struggled to regain a balance of power ever since. Difference of opinions within the party at the national and local level have dominated conversation in recent years and in some cases possibly cost the party elections. Now, Senator Lynn Findley (R-Vale), and Senator Bill Hansell (R–Athena) and Senator Rob Wagner (D– Lake Oswego) have introduced SB 865 at the request of the Malheur, Baker and Morrow County Republican Executive Committees which would change who may serve as state elected officer of a party Central Committee. The bill appears to be targeted at the Republican party as the Chair and Treasurer are both current sitting Republican Senators; Senator Dallas Heard, Chair (R–Roseburg) and Senator Dennis Linthicum, Treasurer (R–Klamath Falls). The Democrat Party State leadership has no sitting elected state officials in their executive Committee.

The changes would make it illegal to simultaneously serve as a state officer (Governor, Secretary of State, State Treasurer, Attorney General, Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries, state Senator or Representative, Judge of the Supreme Court or Judge of the Court of Appeals) and hold an elected officer position of the State Central committee of a major political party.

SB 865 proposes to add to existing law in ORS 248.072. The section of law that covers the Authority of the State Central Committee for major political parties.

“The state central committee is the highest party authority in the state and may adopt rules or resolutions for any matter of party government which is not controlled by the laws of this state”.

However, the bill does not address other statues in the same section of law that cover fair representation within the State Central Committee.

ORS 248.005 Partied to insure widest and fairest representation of members.
Each political party by rule shall insure the widest and fairest representation of party members in the party organization and activities. Rules shall be adopted by procedures that assure the fair and open participation of all interested party members.

ORS 248.007 Organization of major political party.
(1) Subject to ORS 248.005 (Parties to insure widest and fairest representation of members), a major political party may organize and select delegates to national party conventions in any manner.

In addition, there is also the possibility that the change in statute would be in conflict with federal law under free speech and associational rights of political parties and their members guaranteed by the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

The bill is scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Committee on Rules, chaired by one of the main sponsors, Sen. Wagner on May 18th. As of press time there were over a hundred pieces of submitted testimony, the majority of which is against the bill. However, this session many bills have been overwhelmingly opposed by the voters and the super majority has pushed the legislation through anyway. The Oregon Republican party was established in February 1857 as the Free State Republican Party of Oregon and held its first state convention on April 1, 1859. However, with an emergency clause in SB 865, and a fine of up to $250 per day for violation, the Oregon Republican Party could be using their next state convention to replace half of their State Executive Committee.

--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-05-18 07:44:55Last Update: 2021-05-17 16:05:58

Mike Frith, 1947-2021
Salem radio pioneer, may he rest in peace

In the early 1990’s Mike Frith, a long time sales representative for large corporations like Aladdin, moved to Salem and bought AM 1430 KYKN which had been a classic country station for decades. He flipped it to talk radio fairly quickly and became one of the “heritage” Rush Limbaugh stations. He then added many other legendary Conservative radio shows like Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham, Glenn Beck and more. He was always involved in the Salem Keizer community and served many, many people, both customers and listeners well. He cared about sharing American values and America First thinking long before it was in vogue.

In 2008, I was an out of work deejay after the station I was working for went out of business. I went to Mike looking for work even though I knew my chances were slim since most of his programming was via satellite. He gave me a job reading news, sports and weather in short 3 minute breaks during Laura Ingraham’s morning show. Eventually, in 2009, he allowed me to try an one hour talk show which led to a three hour show later that year, The Bill Post Radio Show. His faith in me was humbling and I will forever be grateful for that.

Late Friday afternoon, he passed away surrounded by family. I will miss him but know that he is with his beloved wife Pat who passed a few years ago. I don’t know what the future holds for KYKN but know that Mike’s legacy will live on! “Ten Hut” to Sgt. Mike!

--State Representative Bill Post

Post Date: 2021-05-17 18:02:38Last Update: 2021-05-17 18:13:58

Housing Supply Increase Supported
“The best way to bring down the cost of housing is to increase the stock”

Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend) has carried SB 458 on the Senate floor. Co-sponsored with Sen. Lew Fredrick (D-Portland), the legislation would expand homeownership opportunities for Oregonians.

In 2019, to increase the stock of housing to make it more affordable, the legislature passed HB 2001 which expanded middle housing construction in single-family neighborhoods. HB 2001 did not address regulatory barriers to selling those new units. Local ordinances currently create a patchwork of regulations on the sale of middle housing. SB 458 will create a statewide standard for the sale of middle housing in the communities implementing HB 2001.

Senator Tim Knopp released the following statement:

“The best way to bring down the cost of housing is to increase the stock of housing built at affordable cost. This bill adds to the work we did in 2019. We know that one of the best ways to build intergenerational wealth is through homeownership. This legislation will ensure more people have access to buy homes, especially first-time homebuyers.”

The bill has passed both chambers and now awaits the Governor's signature.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-05-17 18:01:09Last Update: 2021-05-17 18:02:38

Oregonians to Cough Up Part of Their Stimulus Checks
Democrats hold hostage a bill to return it to them

Today marks the deadline for Oregonians to file their income taxes. This year, money that was meant to give people relief during the depths of the pandemic will now end up in the hands of Democrats who control the government.

According to an analysis from the Legislative Revenue Office, approximately 870,000 middle-class Oregonians will be sending an estimated $160 million of their stimulus checks to the state. An average family of four could see their income taxes increase by nearly $300 because of the loophole, instead of it going to pay the bills.

“Tax Day is here and Democrats are coming for your stimulus checks. SB 842 would exempt stimulus checks from taxes, but it appears it is being held for ransom. We must move quickly to pass this bill to return this money to where it belongs: Oregonians’ pockets,” Senator Anderson (R-Lincoln City), author of the legislation, said.

Under SB 842, the Department of Revenue would send refund checks to affected Oregonians for the amount of excess taxes they paid for simply receiving a stimulus check in the 2020 tax year. It would also exempt the most recent $1,400 stimulus payment and any future ones from 2021 taxes by creating a tax credit.

SB 842 is currently sitting in the Senate Finance and Revenue Committee where it is being blocked by Senate Democrats. After an initial public hearing, Senate Democrats have signaled that they are holding the bill hostage as a negotiating tool with Republicans, despite holding supermajorities in both chambers of the legislature.

“Good bills should pass. Oregonians deserve to keep all their stimulus checks. With Oregon swimming in federal bailout money, there is no reason to be ‘nickel and diming’ working Oregonians.

“This bill has bipartisan support. Congressman DeFazio supports exempting stimulus checks from taxes, but Governor Brown and the Democrats want the money to fund their extreme Portland agenda. It is not right to be using Oregonians' stimulus money as leverage for political gain,” Anderson said.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-05-17 15:41:08Last Update: 2021-05-17 15:44:55

A Caucus Divided
This most certainly violates some free speech rights.

In case you haven't been paying attention, there is a rift in the Senate Republican Caucus. The dispute started over SB 554 which was the gun control bill. About half the Senators wanted to deny quorum and prevent the bill from passing.

You'll also remember that back in January, a group of Senators, two sitting and one former, essentially took over the leadership of the Oregon Republican Party. Senator Dallas Heard (R-Roseburg) was elected chair, Former Senator Herman Baertschiger was elected Vice Chair and Dennis Linthicum (R-Klamath Falls) was elected Treasurer.

One of the battles being fought in this war is SB 865, introduced by Senators Findley and Hansell, as well as by Democratic Senator Rob Wagner. This raises some questions. Why is he sponsoring a bill that's essentially just a family feud on the other side of the aisle? And, if Wagner is so concerned about conflicts of interest, why does he continue to serve on the Lake Oswego School Board?

SB 865 prohibits a person from simultaneously serving as holder of state office and as officer of state central committee of political party and establishes fine of up to $250 per day for violation. This, of course, is targeting what is going on in the Republican party.

Senator Hansell penned an op-ed in which he claims to want to root out conflicts of interest, but why just stop at party officials? Certainly Rob Wagner has much more of a conflict of interest in voting for billions of dollars to go to school districts, upon one board he serves, than Dallas Heard who controls little, either as a Senator or as a party chair.

Two former Republican Senators are now caucusing as Independents. The scorecard looks like this:

Dallas Heard (R)Fred Griod (R)
Dennis Linthicum (R)Dick Anderson (R)
Art Robinson (I)Lynn Findley (R)
Kim Thatcher (R)Bill Hansell (R)
Chuck Thomsen (R)Bill Kennemer (R)
Brian Boquist (I)Tim Knopp (R)

The bill is in the Senate Committee on Rules, where it is scheduled for a public hearing and committee vote this week. Assuming it passes the full Seate, it will be interesting to see if the House has any appetite for a bill that is the result of a Senate war and most certainly violates some free speech rights.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-05-17 07:38:55Last Update: 2021-05-17 11:38:56

Car Chase and Gunfight in Silverton
Officer Involved Shooting

On Wednesday, May 12, 2021, law enforcement officers from the Marion County Sheriff’s Office and the Silverton Police Department became involved in a vehicle pursuit of a possible kidnapping suspect.

While in pursuit of the white Ford F150, an occupant in the involved vehicle fired multiple rounds toward police as they traveled through the city of Silverton, Oregon.

The vehicle finally came to a stop on Highway 214 near Forest Ridge Road NE where the suspect exchanged gunfire with involved officers.

The male driver of the Ford F-150 was detained by law enforcement; the female passenger was transported by Life Flight from the scene with life threatening injuries. Multiple police vehicles were struck by gunfire during the incident, no law enforcement officers were injured.

A Marion County Sheriff’s Office Deputy and two Silverton Police Officers were involved in the shooting. Pursuant to Marion County Senate Bill 111 protocols, the Oregon State Police will be leading the investigation into the incident and the involved law enforcement officers will be placed on Administrative Leave.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-05-16 16:33:38Last Update: 2021-05-16 16:46:48

Should the State be Apologizing?
Some are eager to exploit the case to further the equity agenda,

On March 25, 2021, the Oregon State Board of Bar Examiners voted to recommend that the Oregon Supreme Court appoint a special master to investigate the Board’s previous recommendation and the current petition from Robert Roosevelt Parker, Jr’s Petition In Re Waiver of various Rules of Admissions. The letter requesting review states, “Mr. Parker has requested a number of remedial waivers related to RFA’s that presently would prohibit his admission to the Oregon State Bar. While the Board would normally recommend that these rules be enforced, Mr. Parker’s case is entirely unique. He has alleged a number of irregularities against former Board members and the former Board’s conduct in his character and review proceeding, which if true, would raise doubt in the findings and recommendations related to his prior application.”

On May 4, 2021, Senator Lew Frederick (D-Portland), eager to exploit the case to further the equity agenda, introduced SCR 22. This bill asks that the state apologize to Robert Parker for 31 years of suffering injuries and effects of racism and institutional bias that has denied him admission to Oregon State Bar and urges the Oregon Supreme Court to admit Robert Parker to the bar.

In early May, the Oregon Supreme Court issued an order In re: Robert Parker’s Application for Admission to Practice Law in Oregon directing that application fees be waived and that Mr. Parker’s 1990 bar exam passing scores satisfy the exam requirements imposed by Oregon Supreme Court Rules for Admission 8.10. In addition,

“The court directs the Board to assess applicant’s current character and fitness to practice law under the normal rules for such assessment. If applicant established the required character and fitness, the Board shall recommend terms of conditional admission needed to ensure applicant’s competence to practice law.”

Kamron Graham, president-elect of the Oregon State Bar testified, “the OSB (Oregon State Bar) and BBX (Board of Bar Examiners) are prepared to move forward with a new character & fitness examination.”

In other words, the court is saying they aren’t going to reopen the 1992 case, and that Parker’s petition for application should be judged on his character since that ruling. What are they willing to forget? Multiple reasons were given for not recommending his application for admission to the bar, including impersonation, inconsistent testimony, and omission or misstatement of facts -- you can read the court record.

Whether Parker’s petition has valid claims or not, we’ll never know. But, proving the OSB and BBX decision involved irregularities would mean the Supreme Court committed those same irregularities. But, without a determination, should the state be in the business of apologizing?

It seems the only purpose for SCR 22 is to exploit a situation and to put pressure on OSB and BBX, regardless of the findings, to make sure Parker is admitted to the Bar for fear of backlash. Should legislation get in the middle of or put pressure on a board trying to make an objective review?

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-05-15 12:10:23Last Update: 2021-05-16 09:37:23

Rep. Reschke Urges Release of Water
Tensions are beginning to rival those of about 20 years ago

In the wake of the Federal Bureau of Reclamation's denial of water to Klamath Basin irrigators, State Representative E. Werner Reschke is calling on the Oregon Water Resources Department to release the water to the local farmers.

While the Bureau of Reclamation has a the right to store water in Upper Klamath Lake, it has no right to use water from the Upper Klamath Lake — that authority falls to OWRD, to manage the use of that water, per holders of water rights and determined claims. Existing statutory provisions (ORS 540.210) clearly direct OWRD to undertake necessary action when water users are unable to reach agreement pertaining to the ultimate distribution of water. The language found in subsection (2) of this statutory is straightforward:

"(2) The water master shall then take exclusive charge of the ditch or reservoir, for the purpose of dividing or distributing the water therefrom in accordance with the respective and relative rights of the various users of water from the ditch or reservoir, and shall continue the work until the necessity therefor shall cause to exist.”

Tensions are beginning to rival those of about 20 years ago when Klamath Basin farmers clashed with tribes and law enforcement.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-05-15 11:57:09Last Update: 2021-05-15 12:10:23

Portland Man Pushes Woman into Traffic
Suspect also burned a power pole

A suspect is facing numerous charges after pushing a woman into traffic, burning a power pole, and fighting with officers.

On Thursday, May 13, 2021 at 2:52p.m., a call came in to police of an area check regarding a suspect seen pushing a woman into the street near Southeast 36th Avenue and Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard.

No officers were immediately available to respond.

22 minutes later, at 3:15p.m., officers were able to clear calls and respond. They were updated that the suspect was throwing trash cans into the street, trying to grab passing cars and busses, and had set a nearby power pole on fire.

Officers located the suspect at Southeast 36th Avenue and Southeast Hawthorne Boulevard and attempted to take him into custody. He fought the officers, biting two of them and trying to break an officer's finger.

They called for additional officers and they were finally able to arrest him.

The investigation revealed that the suspect pushed a 67-year-old woman off the sidewalk into the street, causing approaching cars to brake to avoid hitting her. Officers later learned that the victim broke her wrist during the fall. Officers also located the power pole that was burned by the suspect. The fire was extinguished by community members.

Kenneth A. Church, 39, of Portland, was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center on charges of Attempted Assault in the Second Degree, Assault in the Third Degree, Assault in the Fourth Degree, Reckless Endangering, Criminal Mischief in the First Degree, Attempted Assault on a Police Officer (3 counts), Interfering with a Peace Officer, Resist Arrest, Reckless Burning, and Disorderly Conduct in the Second Degree.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-05-15 07:11:53Last Update: 2021-05-15 00:02:16

Newspaper Delivery Driver Shot in Portland
Oregon’s largest city grows more dangerous

The city of Portland Oregon has seen escalating violence as of late, largely due to the unruly activities of leftist extremists who have been given free rein of the city by local officials. Many horrific crimes continue to go unsolved, and little justice is being served.

A newspaper delivery driver is in the hospital with a serious gunshot wound after a shooting in the Beaumont-Wilshire neighborhood.

On Friday, May 14, 2021 at 4:06a.m., Portland North Precinct officers were dispatched to a shooting call in the 4400 block of Northeast Shaver Street. They located an adult male victim with a serious gunshot injury. The victim was transported to the hospital by ambulance. His injuries are serious.

The Enhanced Community Safety Team (ECST) responded to investigate. They learned the victim and a female passenger were driving slowly down the street delivering newspapers when a suspect in another vehicle fired at them through the windshield of the unmarked delivery van. The suspect left the scene. No suspect description is being released at this time.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-05-14 18:14:46Last Update: 2021-05-14 18:23:15

An Idea For Fair Testifying
Republican Girod offers a solution

Currently in Oregon, the public is still banned from participating in the legislative process at the State's Capitol building in Salem, supposedly due to safety protocols to prevent the possible spread of Covid-19.

The Super-majority party, the Democrats, are taking this opportunity to quickly pass policy legislation that would be slowed down by the presence of the people of Oregon. An imperfect system of remote participation has been hailed as efficient enough replacement by the Democrat leaders, although many critics disagree. The remote process may also be seen as fair and progressive to providing Oregonians a chance to participate and lobby their representatives from a distance.

Now, with the recent announcements of the CDC changing it's guidelines and the lifting of restrictions, many retailers are finally finding ways to go back to normal in a post pandemic Oregon.

The State legislature is slow to react to the news, still barring the people of Oregon from in-person participation. It might be truly progressive now for the state's leader's to let the people of Oregon return to normal, and integrate the traditional legislative process with what we have learned from the remote processes adopted over the last year or so.

A proposal from the Senate Minority Leader, Fred Girod (R-Lyons) would help to potentially restore balance and confidence in Oregon's legislative testifying opportunities.

SCR 19 would require the legislative committee chairs to conduct public hearings on legislative measures so that witnesses testify in specified order.

It would essentially require those committee chairs to conduct public hearings on legislative measures so that, to greatest extent practicable, witnesses alternate between those in favor of measure and those opposed to measure, except that witnesses who have traveled more than 100 miles to testify must be given priority. Nothing in the rules prohibit public hearing from proceeding if only witnesses remaining to testify are those in favor of or opposed to measure

This approach seems to be a logical proposal in a state where political tensions remain high, possibly due to aggravated statements from the Democrat leaders, who seem to condone the political polarization.

It currently awaits further action in the Senate Committee On Rules.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-05-14 16:30:59Last Update: 2021-05-14 17:02:18

The New Segregation
1619 Project merges into Critical Race Theory

On August 18, 2019 The New York Times published an article titled “ the 1619 Project”.

The article begins with a first-person story told by Nikole Hannah-Jones of her father who proudly flew the American flag: “my dad felt so much honor in being an American". Hannah-Jones goes on to explain that she felt like this was a marker of his degradation, his acceptance of subordination. The author blames slavery, not on the English pirates that stole people from a Portuguese slave ship and sold them at Jamestown, but on the buyers, the Jamestown colonists. The article went on to document the pervasiveness and cruelty of African slavery in the English colonies that became the United States, and the study of the American past should begin with the event that birthed racism to fully explains the racism of the American present.

The 1619 Project encountered fierce push-back, both from conservatives and historians. John G. Turner, in the National Review, points to the author’s statement that “one of the primary reasons the colonists decided to declare their independence from Britain was because they wanted to protect the institution of slavery.” Never mind that Britain was the original market for slaves. But some academic historians were ready to tell a new story about America’s past and to kick the Pilgrims out of their God ordained place in American history.

Out of the 1619 Project grew a new academic curriculum that is now being married with critical race theory (CRT). CRT has been around since 1989 and gained traction in legal studies out of a recognition that the law was not inclusive of people who are not white. A controversy arose when it became weaponized as anti-American or anti-white.

USA Today quotes, Cleveland Hayes, associate dean of academic affairs and a professor in the Indiana University School of Education, who has done research on critical race theory, admits it has caused division and made some people feel bad or ashamed. He’d like to see it as an inclusive study, and “not about you as a white person, it’s about recognizing the humanity and erasure of people of color.” But, as humans will do, they have used CRT to elevate one race by putting another down.

Asra Nomani, vice president for strategy and investigations at Parents Defending Education, opposes critical race theory in schools and said “using a lens of race to look at society is superficial and divisive and creates a hierarchy of human value that separates and demonizes people based on race.”

Oregonians for Liberty in Education is attempting to make parents aware of the Oregon Department of Education (ODE) flooding our school system in an attempt to change history by scheduling events on the 1619 Project. Building on critical race theory, on May 10, ODE sponsored and paid $25,000 for “An Evening with Nikole Hannah-Jones,” and invited Oregon’s teachers statewide. They suggest parents watch the 90-minute webinar, billed as “1619: Centering Black History and Black Futures in Oregon.” Don’t expect to learn about the “1619 Project” because it was aimed at CRT. Hannah-Jones criticized historians, spoke on the legacy of slavery, and when asked about her status she justifies her privileges by having legal rights now but we can’t forget the past. Bringing the past to bear on the present was her overall influencing theme. (See Northwest Observer article)

ODE has taken it one step further, May 13, Hannah-Jones has been invited back to deliver another ODE-sponsored webinar, this time speaking directly to Oregon’s schoolchildren. Parents need to watch it with their children and not put it off as another class assignment video.

Hannah-Jones’ own video on the power of storytelling, she titled “What drives me is rage.” Apparently her rage is her invisible heritage, as she calls it. She begins her dialogue on history by saying, “before there was a United States, we had decided that black Americans were not going to be treated like human beings and they were going to be treated as property and owned and not have any rights in the country where they lived and the country where their children would be born.”

Critical race theory is showing up in legislation as “equity” and was codified as Governor Brown’s agenda when she asked that HB 2030 be introduced, which changes the mission of each commission from "equality" to "equity." Changing equality to equity is a totally different approach. Equality means every person has the opportunity based on their hard work to achieve what they want. Equity says we can’t allow anyone to get further ahead than the next person. That means holding the brightest and smartest students back to a common level. Some of the education bills taking the “equity” route are:

SB 732 Requires school districts to establish educational equity advisory committee on educational equity impacts.

HB 2935 Limits authority of school district to become member of voluntary organization that administers interscholastic activities unless organization implements equity focused policies that prohibits discrimination.

HB 3363 Establishes Racial Equity and Justice Student Collaborative.

HB 2166 Directs Superintendent of Public Instruction to convene advisory group to review equity in education system.

SB 232 Modifies requirements of report on Educators Equity Act that is prepared by state agencies.

Martin Luther King said “do not judge a person by the color of their skin, but by their character.” Critical race theory is the total opposite.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-05-14 13:52:34Last Update: 2021-05-14 18:34:34

Public School Enrollment Declines
The public education system has systemic weaknesses

Oregon public schools are seeing declines in enrollment.

Oregon public schools have enrolled 29 fewer students for 2020-21 than they did a decade ago for 2011-12 -- that after 10 years of year-over-year increases to enrollment. The decline in enrollment isn't as bad as the chart makes it look, as it's only showing the tip of the iceberg, but a decline of 3.9% is not sustainable. In raw numbers, it's a loss of 22,000 students from a pool of half a million.

On the other hand, the 2020-21 numbers represent just the first year of COVID-19 and the school policies that were accepted by many in the beginning. What does the next set of numbers look like?

As teachers' unions flex their muscle and make demands of the system, parents are ultimately downstream from those demands. It's not lost on a parent that the same teacher who demands full pay, yet no in-person classroom duty might not be making a great statement when they bump into the unhappy parent at Costco.

One might look at the graph and simply conclude that the cause is nearly entirely COVID-19 and that, once the outbreak and society get repaired and back to normal, the graph will snap back, or at least make a partial recovery. This might not be true. The public education system has systemic weaknesses, most significantly its inability to educate and graduate students. Time spent on critical race theory, what some consider inappropriate sex education, as well as other speculative curricula may have led to a leveling off of enrollment which began about 2015.

The consequence of declining enrollment? Once a critical mass is reached -- one can imagine that it's less than 50% -- a group of people, resentful of having to pay for a public school system that no longer delivers results, will find a way to no longer pay -- perhaps through a voucher law. While this obviously leaves a social mark, it also leaves a political mark. It has the effect of shutting down two of the largest public employee unions in the state, the Oregon Education Association which represents teachers and the Oregon School Employees Association which represents all the classified employees.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-05-14 11:47:39Last Update: 2021-05-13 12:14:14

Oregon Mask Rules Need to Reflect CDC
CDC finally acknowledges what science has known for months

The federal Centers for Disease Control has issued updated guidelines that permit vaccinated people to take off their masks in almost all settings. For months, science has shown that vaccinated people do not pose a threat to others by spreading the virus.

Yet, Oregon OSHA still requires masks in places of business for those who have been vaccinated.

“At nearly every turn, Oregon has moved the slowest to follow the science. On reopening our schools, our economy, and now masks. The science is clear that vaccinated people do not spread the virus and do not need masks. The Governor should immediately direct OSHA to update their permanent mask mandate to come in line with this guidance,” Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod (R-Lyons) said.

Neither the Oregon Health Authority nor Oregon OSHA have any response to the CDC announcement at the time this went to press.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-05-14 10:50:30Last Update: 2021-05-14 09:38:38

Oregon Conformity to CDC Requested
“Let’s recognize the science from the CDC”

Update: The Governor has announced that Oregon will conform to CDC guidelines

In light of the new Centers for Disease Control guidelines for mask wearing, Oregon House Republican Leader Christine Drazan has sent a very short, no-nonsense letter to Governor Brown requesting that Oregon conform to the new CDC guidelines.

Dear Governor Brown,

I am writing to request that Oregon officially conforms with new CDC guidance and direction from the White House that allows fully vaccinated people to stop wearing masks.

It's time to let Oregon move forward and take a step towards normalcy. Let's recognize the science from the CDC and the announcement from the White House. I urge you to use the powers of your office to incorporate this new development into Oregon's COVID-19 policies and OSHA's new rule.

As Oregon remains one of the most masked and locked-down states, Governor Brown will surely feel some pressure to make changes.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-05-14 10:09:49Last Update: 2021-05-14 10:57:09

Near Miss Spurs Breese Iverson to Ask for Changes
“It is time to make the appropriate changes”

In response to a sports-related, mask incident, State Representative Vikki Breese Iverson (R-Prineville) has penned a letter to Governor Brown asking that policies be changed. In her letter, Representative Breese Iverson describes the incident:

The episode involves a 16-year old female student-athlete who collapsed during high school basketball tryouts. The student had trouble breathing with her face covering, suffered from a lack of oxygen, ultimately lost consciousness, and for a time stopped breathing. Agreat coach administered CPR, and the young athlete was transported to the local emergency room where, thankfully, she fully recovered. A detailed account of the incident is attached for your review. You can make sure this never happens again.

In light of the new guidance from the CDC regarding masks, it makes sense to review the state guidelines from top to bottom regarding masks. Indeed, many have regarded the requirement for student-athletes to wear masks during high-activity sports as being unnecessary and/or dangerous.

Representative Breese Iverson describes several models for youth competition, and then makes her request of the Governor.

You are in a difficult position as you try to weigh the right approach for balancing public health, economic impact, and personal freedoms related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the safety of Oregonians. I urge you to carefully consider our youth's ability to safely participate in sports.

It is time to make the appropriate changes and give communities, schools, and parents the ability to choose how best to keep their kids safe.

The letter was copied to Patrick Allen, Director of the Oregon Health Authority, Colt Gill, Director of the Oregon Department of Education and Peter Weber, Executive Director of the Oregon School Activities Association.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-05-14 09:39:34Last Update: 2021-05-14 10:02:48

Klamath Farmers Cut Off from Water
“Federal decision-makers must change course”

The federal Bureau of Reclamation has announced that no water is to be diverted from Upper Klamath Lake for irrigation this year to over 150,000 acres of productive farmland in Klamath County.

Instead, the water will be retained in the lake to support a failed environmental practice for fish species that has yet to prove its effectiveness. In previous, similar drought conditions BOR has delivered project farmers their full allocation of water. This year BOR is using unproven environmental opinions to claim all water must be retained in Upper Klamath Lake or released downstream to California.

“The Bureau of Reclamation exists for the farmers, yet this decision will decimate the livelihood of Oregonians trying to make it through this drought,” said Representative E. Werner Reschke (R-Klamath Falls.) “We know that holding this water back for these fish will not work, and we also know that these farmers need this water to survive. Federal decision-makers must change course to help these struggling communities make it through this drought.”

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-05-14 01:59:34Last Update: 2021-05-14 09:38:00

Secretary of State Shemia Fagan To Discus Voting Rights of “Justice-Involved” People
Some have criticized Fagan for spending too much time enhancing voting opportunities for felons

Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan will host Multnomah County Elections Director Tim Scott, advocates, and formerly incarcerated individuals on Friday, May 14 at noon for an hourlong discussion about voting rights in Oregon. In particular, Secretary Fagan and the panel participants, in the lead up to the special district election on Tuesday, May 18, will highlight the often confused ability of formerly incarcerated individuals and people who have received felony convictions to vote.

“Too many people in Oregon think they don’t have the right to vote if they were previously convicted of a felony or who were formerly incarcerated,” Secretary Fagan said. “I have seen it as a candidate and during my time as Secretary of State - it’s just not true. Our upcoming election on May 18 features critical questions about the future of our communities. Everyone should know their rights and exercise their right to vote.”

Joining Secretary Fagan for the discussion, Mythbusters: Understanding Your Right to Vote with Oregon Justice Resource Center, will be: Some have criticized Secretary Fagan for spending too much time enhancing voting opportunities for felons, while paying too little attention to removing ineligible voters from the voter rolls.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-05-14 01:35:18Last Update: 2021-05-14 09:39:10

Senate Republicans Support Teachers Union Effort to Fully Reopen Schools
“Kids should have returned to school months ago”

Randi Weingarten, the president of one of the largest teachers unions in the country, finally came around to calling on schools to be open for "five days a week" of in-person learning next academic year.

According to recent data, only 12.5% of Oregon schools are fully reopened for in-person instruction, one of the poorest reopening progress in the country.

"Given current circumstances, nothing should stand in the way of fully reopening our public schools this fall and keeping them open,” Weingarten said in a speech. "The United States will not be fully back until we are fully back in school. And my union is all in," she continued.

Senator Dick Anderson (R-Lincoln City) is introducing SB 867 today that would get Oregon students back in the classroom full time in the fall. The legislation is a carbon copy of bipartisan HB 3399 introduced in the Oregon House by Representative Vikki Breese-Iverson (R-Prineville).

“Kids should have returned to school months ago. Other states have been giving their kids the education they deserve, while Oregon ignores the science that schools are safe. By reopening schools, parents can get back into the labor force, kids can begin to catch up on a year of lost learning, and reconnect with friends and peers,” Senator Anderson said.

“Republicans have been beating this drum for months. Now with the Democrat’s union on board, there is no excuse for them to sit back and allow the Governor to dictate if our kids will get a proper education next year. We need to give kids and parents assurance that they will return to the classroom,” Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod (R-Lyons) said.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-05-14 01:24:07Last Update: 2021-05-14 09:39:34

1619 Spreading in Oregon
ODE sponsored Nikole Hannah-Jones “1619 Project” webinar

Editor's note: This article first appeared as a blog post on the Oregonians for Liberty in Education website.

February 2020 may seem like forever ago, but it was then, in an “Education Update,” that Oregon Department of Education Director Colt Gill first publicly praised the New York Times “1619 Project.” “Systemic racism in the United States dates back long before the American Revolution. If you haven’t yet read the 1619 Project by the New York Times, I can’t recommend it highly enough.”

Since then, the “1619 Project” and “systemic racism” narratives have spread faster than a virulent COVID-19 variant, infecting those most vulnerable to it: Oregon’s schoolchildren.

Fast forward to May 2021, when ODE sponsored “An Evening With Nikole Hannah-Jones,” and invited Oregon’s teachers statewide. The 90 minute webinar is worth a listen. Not to learn more about the “1619 Project.” The event, billed as “1619: Centering Black History and Black Futures in Oregon,” had surprisingly little to do with actual history, or even the “1619 Project” itself.

But the webinar does reveal quite a bit about ODE and the elite panelists driving the narrative, what they believe are the problems, and what they propose as the solutions. The bottom line: the purpose of the “1619 Project” is less about “correcting” America’s history and more about controlling America’s future.

Let’s address ODE first. Director Gill introduced the webinar explaining that “the experience of black students and families can and must be centered in our state, including the fullness of black histories and black futures.” A bit of background: the Department’s five-year-old African American/Black Student Success Plan hasn’t budged graduation rates, test scores, or disciplinary incidents. (Perhaps prioritizing activism over achievement isn’t the answer.) Now ODE’s new tack: jump on the “1619” and “systemic racism” narratives bandwagon to shift blame for the gap.

Other goals for the webinar (according to pre-event advertising):
  1. How to use “1619” as a “supplemental instructional resource supporting the 2021 Oregon social science standards that include newly adopted K-12 ethnic studies standards.”
  2. How the “inclusion of 1619 historical events into our educational system will further Oregon’s efforts at breaking down systems of oppression.”
Gill concluded his opening remarks: “We look forward to engaging this afternoon and learning more to help guide us forward.”

So now on to the panelists “guiding” Oregon’s teachers on “supplemental instructional resources” and “breaking down systems of oppression.” Nikole Hannah-Jones was the feature. She was joined by Portland State University professor Dr. Ethan Johnson and Oregon Alliance of Black School Educators president Kevin Bacon. KOIN news anchor Ken Boddie moderated. Hannah-Jones’s views on education: “In a country built on racial caste, we must confront the fact that our schools are not broken. They are operating as designed.” Hannah-Jones mentioned that she takes a personal interest in Portland, as she lived in the city from 2006-2012, owned a house in the Woodlawn neighborhood, and worked at the Oregonian. She is the author of the lead “1619” piece, “The Idea of America.” Hannah-Jones explained that “the ‘1619 Project’ seeks to set out slavery as a foundational American institution...and one whose legacy we still see in modern society.” “...it is an origin story told through a very particular lens.”

Johnson, Chair of the Black Studies Department in the School of Gender, Race and Nations at PSU, objected to the term “legacy,” stating:

One of the things I think is really important is to not frame slavery as a legacy but as it’s still here. Legacy suggests that it’s over...no, slavery is right here...If we go from slavery, and we go through Jim Crow, and we go through the criminal justice system...which is kinda the dominate way that black people are controlled today...gratuitous violence is something we experience...I can be killed, murdered, psychically traumaed you know at any time for no reason...just because I’m black. And today our kids are taken away from us regularly...either through CPS, Child Protective Services, or through the criminal justice system, for no reason other than we’re black. They say we did a crime. But the primary reason is because we’re black...I think what needs to be rethought is like that idea, we are in slavery, and that slavery hasn’t ended.

Is this really what Gill thinks will “help guide us forward?”

And here’s Hannah-Jones’ response to the question: “Where do you see the legacy of slavery today?”:

When we look at the insurrection on the Capitol January 6th and the belief by a white minority that people of color are not citizens whose votes should count equal to theirs, that’s a legacy of 1619, not the legacy of 1776. When we look at the election of Donald Trump, a fairly open white nationalist, that is a legacy of slavery. When we look at George Floyd and a police officer who believed that he could kneel on a man’s neck for two minutes after he was dead, while he was being filmed, that is a legacy of slavery. When we look at the fact that black Americans are at the bottom of every indicator of well-being in this country and black people have one cent of wealth to the dollar of wealth that white Americans have, when we look at a place like Portland of gentrification and housing segregation and school segregation. All of these are legacies of slavery.

$25,000 per webinar. Endowed chair. Pulitzer Prize. Possibly the legacies of the land of opportunity?

Over the course of the webinar, the panelists connected slavery to current-day problems in Oregon and the U.S. They criticized capitalism, wealth, criminal justice, healthcare, traffic, voting, and cultural appropriation. Framing America’s way of life as problematic is of course the actual purpose of “1619.” The project is a compilation of 18 essays addressing these topics and more in a compelling 100 page New York Times Magazine special issue, published August, 2019. Some of the images and descriptions in the issue are heart-wrenching, and cover important topics. But the publication is primarily propaganda packaged as history. It contains proven factual inaccuracies: it is an artistic and literary piece, not a historical work.

As the webinar continued, it became clear that the “1619” and “systemic racism” narratives of America as primarily a land of oppression rather than a land of hope and opportunity have a purpose. They can be used in Oregon’s classrooms to politicize history and gain youth support for proposed “solutions” discussed by the panelists: wealth redistribution, land reparations, defunding the police, universal healthcare, and progressive changes to urban design, transportation, and education.

“Correcting” America’s history, or controlling America’s future?

Most Americans believe these are radical positions. But the webinar participants represent print media, broadcast media, K-12 education, and higher ed. Seems like a powerful push to teach these views to Oregon’s schoolchildren. Bacon and Johnson both said they mentor K-12 educators. As part of the “1619 Project In Schools” effort, Hannah-Jones said that she’s met with thousands of teachers.

Hannah-Jones explained that “1619” is a continuing effort. Two new books, eight new essays, documentaries, and films are forthcoming. The next batch of essays will address topics such as African diaspora, settler colonialism, and the “excavation of racism” in Philadelphia.

What to do? Parents, teachers, and education-policy makers have a responsibility to ensure that schools educate, rather than indoctrinate. Ironically, perhaps the panelists themselves give us a clue. During the discussion, Hannah-Jones cited the Constitution; Johnson condemned progressive policies. Maybe there’s hope: is it possible common sense could (eventually) prevail?

In the meantime, stop the spread. Vaccinate your kids against the “1619” and “systemic racism” narratives. ODE seems committed to importing radical activism from the New York Times into Oregon’s classrooms. Hannah-Jones will be back on May 13 to deliver another ODE-sponsored webinar, this time speaking directly to Oregon’s schoolchildren.

--Mary Miller, Oregonians for Liberty in Education

Post Date: 2021-05-13 08:47:39Last Update: 2021-05-13 10:46:15

House Republicans Support Bipartisan “Bailey’s Bill”
Bill has not received public hearing in the House

Oregon House Republicans announce support for a public hearing of SB 649 -- “Bailey’s Bill” -- that closes a loophole in Oregon law that lets teachers off the hook with lighter consequences than coaches for sexual abuse against students.

Today members of the House Judiciary Committee issued a joint letter to force a public hearing for the bill.

Under the proposal, teachers would be held to the same standard as coaches. Representative Bobby Levy (R-Echo) and Senator Bill Hansell (R-Athena) and Senator Kathleen Taylor (D-Milwaukie) co-sponsored the bill named after Bailey Munck from Athena, Oregon who was sexually abused by her English teacher. After pleading guilty, her abuser spent only two days in jail and received five years probation. He did not have to register as a sex offender. If he had been her coach rather than teacher, he would have received up to five years in prison.

The bipartisan bill passed with unanimous support in the Senate, and currently has bipartisan sponsors in the House. However, it has yet to receive a public hearing in the House Judiciary Committee.

“It’s shocking that we don’t already have this protection for our children in schools,” said House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby.) “Bailey’s courage to testify on this horrific event is remarkable and will lead to safer schools for students.”

Bailey testified in support of SB 649 during a Senate committee public hearing.

“What is the significant difference between a teacher and a coach? Do coaches somehow carry more authority than a teacher might?” Bailey Munck asked senators during the hearing. “Coaches and teachers should be prosecuted equally as they both have responsibility for students’ safety and they both have positions of authority and power over their students and players.”

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-05-12 16:27:39Last Update: 2021-05-12 18:16:29

Oregon House Republicans: Open and Fund Schools
Want to give parents the option of 100 percent in-person learning

Oregon House Republicans have announced their support for $9.6 billion to fully fund schools. This amount was requested by the state’s education leaders to support the 2021-2022 school year and will contribute to fully reopening Oregon schools for in-person learning by the fall.

“We have to get our kids back in the classroom for full in-person learning. Fully funding their education is part of making that happen,” said House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby.) “They have suffered enough mental health setbacks and learning losses with virtual and hybrid school. We made a commitment last week that will let families and students choose full in-person learning by the fall, and this week we’re committing to fully funding our schools so we can accomplish that goal.”

Teachers from around the state have asked their legislators to fully fund schools next year, including Elaine Poole from Canby: “Our students are dependent on your support to make sure that they can return to schools that have the resources that give them an opportunity moving forward.”

Submitted testimonies on SB 5514 from school administrators, the statewide teachers union and other education supporters say that anything less than a $9.6 billion state school fund will force school districts to make layoffs and other cuts.

The push from House Republicans comes a week after announcing HB 3399, a bipartisan, bicameral bill that would reopen Oregon’s schools to give parents the option of 100 percent in-person learning by the 2021-2022 school year.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-05-12 09:53:03Last Update: 2021-05-12 16:27:39

Warner Creek Correctional Facility to Stay Open
Governor’s announcement has big impact for local economy and jobs

Governor Kate Brown has announced to the Lake County Prison Committee that she has decided not to close the Warner Creek Correctional Facility.

More than 100 Lake County residents work at the correctional facility and have family members that work in the local schools, businesses and county offices. Closing the facility would have displaced hundreds of residents who would need to find new jobs elsewhere.

“I want to thank Governor Brown for making the right call by keeping the Warner Creek Correctional Facility open,” said Representative E. Werner Reschke (R-Klamath Falls,) a vocal supporter of keeping the facility open. “This was a group effort and will be a relief for the people who rely on these family-wage jobs with good healthcare.”

​​Warner Creek Correctional Facility is a minimum-security facility located four miles northwest of Lakeview. WCCF opened in September 2005. It received the State Energy Efficiency Design award in May 2008 for its progress in design efficiency. The most energy efficient element at WCCF is the use of geothermal energy, providing 100 percent of the hot water to the facility.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-05-11 15:47:19Last Update: 2021-05-11 15:59:31

OSHA a No-Show at Legislative Hearing
The topics were permanent COVID-19 mask mandate and business restrictions

The Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently extended its COVID-19 rule permanently with no specified end date and no oversight from the elected officials they are accountable to.

OSHA chose to enact the permanent rule before a scheduled Legislative hearing to review their decision. The administrative body’s leaders declined to attend to answer questions about the new business restrictions.

In response to a letter from Senators and Representatives asking the agency to suspend adoption of the COVID-19 rule until legislative review, OSHA’s Director stated that they have broad authority to place these restrictions on Oregon businesses with no specified end date.

“This is the opposite direction of where we should be headed,” said House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby). “In light of vaccines, improved PPE supply for hospitals and more, we should be giving businesses more breathing room. Instead, this administrative body has demonstrated that it does not believe it is accountable to the people of Oregon.”

Oregonians are concerned that the adoption of this flawed rule indefinitely will punish businesses without adequate scientific data to suggest that it has an impact on preventing COVID-19 transmissions. However, there is no opportunity for businesses and employees to have true input without oversight from their elected officials.

The following questions were left unanswered during the committee hearing because OSHA’s leaders did not appear before lawmakers: During the committee hearing, Representative Bill Post (R-Keizer) expressed his dissatisfaction at OSHA's lack of attendance.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-05-11 09:29:18Last Update: 2021-05-12 12:33:38

The End of Real Estate Love Letters
There are already non-discrimination laws in place

In a competitive housing market, many buyers look for ways to stand out from other prospective buyers. Sometimes that means a buyer making a cash offer or offering above asking price. In an Oregon Live article last month, one Portland midcentury modern home for sale had 77 requests for showing the first day it was listed and is now receiving offers $150,000 over asking price.

Another common practice is for a buyer is to write a “love letter” to the seller telling them why they want the house. They tell the buyer such things as how the house is in the school district they want their children to attend, or its within walking distance of the church that they attend. With rock-bottom supply of homes for sale, tugging at the heartstrings of sellers often adds that edge for the buyer.

That buyer’s edge, however, may soon be a thing of the past. HB 2550 introduced by Rep. Meek (D–Gladstone) makes real estate “love letter” illegal. “Buyers making decisions as to who they want to live in their neighborhoods perpetuates racism”. Sen. Meek told the committee. He also noted that 60% of Caucasians are homeowners while only 38% of African Americans are homeowners.

The Oregon Food Bank also weighed in on the bill. In written testimony they stated that “Studies have repeatedly shown a strong relationship between owning a home and a lower likelihood of experiencing hunger. The data is clear that homeownership and affordable mortgages allow community members to build assets and manage more predictable housing costs over time, which is especially key for Black and Brown Oregonians who have long faced discriminatory housing policies that make homeownership more difficult and inaccessible.

Senator Andreson (D–Lincoln City) brought up during testimony that there are already non-discrimination laws in place and questioned if this bill is redundant. Indeed, the Federal Fair Housing Act (1968) prohibits discrimination in the sale, rental, and financing of dwellings, and in other housing-related transactions, based on a person’s race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or physical or mental disability. Rep. Meek explained to the committee that there are Federal Fair Housing laws in place but there are really no consequences to them.

However, HB 2550 does not have any penalties or consequences either. It simply reiterates the Federal Fair Housing Act.

(7) Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, a seller’s agent shall redact or withhold any communication other than customary documents in a real estate transaction, including photographs, provided by a buyer as necessary to help the seller avoid selecting a buyer based on the buyer’s race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, national origin, marital status, or familial status as prohibited by the Fair Housing Act (42 U.S.C. 3601 et seq.).

The Oregon Realtors Association registered as neutral on the bill. It has passed the House and has had a public hearing in the Senate Housing and Development Committee.

--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-05-11 08:41:10Last Update: 2021-05-11 09:08:34

No More Fun in Washington County
Judge Fun to Retire from Bench

Governor Kate Brown has announced that she is accepting applications for a judicial vacancy on the Washington County Circuit Court created by the planned retirement of Judge Jim L. Fun.

The Governor thanked Judge Fun for his dedicated judicial service, and announced that she will fill the position by appointment. Judge Fun’s retirement takes effect September 30, 2021.

Interested applicants should mail (no hand delivery) their completed application forms to: Forms must be received by 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, May 26, 2021. Forms emailed by 5:00 p.m. on the closing date will be considered timely so long as original signed forms postmarked by the closing date are later received.

Governor Brown fills the state's judicial vacancies. She encourages applications from lawyers with a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences.

ORS 3.041 and 3.050 provide that at the time of appointment to the court, the candidate must be a citizen of the United States, a resident of Oregon, and a member of the Oregon State Bar.

SB 977, recently passed by the Legislature, creates a new requirement. It amends ORS 3.041 and requires that these vacancies must be filled by persons who are residents of or have principal offices in the judicial districts to which they are appointed or adjacent judicial districts.

To receive answers to questions about the appointment process, or to request an interest form, contact Shevaun Gutridge at 503-378-6246 or shevaun.gutridge@oregon.gov.

The judicial interest form is also available online.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-05-10 15:34:43Last Update: 2021-05-10 15:53:49

Oregon Lottery Funds Accounted For
This accounting is done every two years.

Prior to the beginning of each odd-numbered year regular session of the Legislative Assembly, the Legislative Fiscal Office is required to conduct a study that reports the preceding two year’s administrative costs and the transfer rate of the Oregon State Lottery, in order to determine if additional funds may be made available for public purposes. Lottery’s administrative costs as a percentage of revenues for fiscal years 2019 and 2020 were 3.1% and 3.4%, respectively, and actual public purpose transfers averaged 5.9% of direct revenues in the prior two years.

Lottery revenues are generated through traditional, sports betting, and video lottery games. Initially, lottery revenues were dedicated to the creation of jobs and economic development. However, voters have approved subsequent ballot measures adding public education, restoration and protection of Oregon’s parks, beaches, watersheds, and native fish and wildlife, veterans, and outdoor school as additional required or authorized uses of lottery revenues.

The Oregon Constitution includes the following dedicated transfers: Oregon statute establishes the following six dedications of net lottery proceeds: Nearly all of these funds are "fungible" which means that they can be replaced by another funding source. So, when lottery funds go to the Education Stability Fund, for instance, every dollar that's allocated there can be one dollar of general fund money that doesn't have to be allocated and is freed up to be spent elsewhere.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-05-10 15:18:49Last Update: 2021-05-10 15:41:10

Proposal Would Fully Reopen Schools
In-person learning should return for 2021-2022 school year

Just recently, a bicameral, bipartisan bill was introduced in the Oregon legislature that would ensure the children of Oregon would have access to full, in-person instruction for the 2021-2022 school year.

HB 3399 from Representative Vikki Breese-Iverson (R-Prineville) would direct the Oregon Department of Education to provide 100 percent in-person instruction for the next school year. Chief sponsors of the bill include Senator Fred Girod (R-Stayton), Representative Christine Drazan (R-Canby), and Representative Shelly Boshart Davis (R-Albany) .

Some Republican legislators made the following statements:

“This past year and a half has been really hard on kids in Oregon, I have seen it first hand with my own boys.” said Representative Breese-Iverson. “We have all the facts showing us it’s safe for them to be in school, so we can’t wait any longer. Hybrid learning has been a start, but fully reopening schools will give them the consistent and dependable schedule of in-person instruction that is so valuable for their learning.”

“We know it’s safe to attend school, and we know the negative side effects of distanced learning are unacceptable, so what are we waiting for?” added Senator Girod. “We should have made this promise to kids months ago. We have to draw a line in the sand and let parents know they can depend on the public school system next year.”

“We’ve had more than a year of at-home learning and it’s time to get kids back in school,” said Representative Drazan. “My family and my community need their schools fully reopened, and our students need schools fully reopened. Their mental health and academic futures depend on it.”

“As a parent I’ve seen first-hand how the past year of learning has hurt my kids,” added Representative Boshart Davis. “If we don’t take action now, the long-lasting negative consequences for our kids will only get worse and could last their entire lives. This is our opportunity to stop that from happening.”

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-05-10 15:07:22Last Update: 2021-05-10 17:02:17

Electronic Tolling
Paying more for driving in Oregon

In 2017, the legislature established what is now ORS 383.150, the Traffic Congestion Relief Program. It describes value pricing to reduce traffic congestion. What is disguised behind the fancy title is the implementation of toll roads in Oregon.

Representative Tina Kotek (D-Portland) has introduced an Amendment(-8) as a “gut-and-stuff” to HB 3065. It now modifies the “Transportation Projects” to include funding for toll projects established in ORS 383.150, the Traffic Congestion Relief Program.

Added to ORS 383.001, the Legislative Assembly finds that:

Section 5(10)” Significant traffic congestion adversely impacts Oregon’s economy and the quality of life of Oregon’s communities. Where appropriate, variable rate tolls should be applied to reduce traffic congestion and support the state’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals.”

Revises language to prioritize ‘electronic toll collection system’ that doesn’t require a vehicle to stop using transponder readers and license plate capture cameras to collect tolls. Extends the source of money for the Toll Program Fund to gifts, legislative allotment, federal sources and fees paid for information. The usage of funds is extended to develop and implement toll programs, and make improvements on tollways or adjacent highways to reduce impacts of diversion for tolling.

In addition to the state revenue bonds that obligates future generations to pay, the ‘tollway project revenue bonds’ are to be held “superior to any other lien or charge and to any law of the state requiring the department to spend moneys for tollway project revenue projects.” The -8 will extend short-term borrowing by the State Treasurer to allow various types of credit agreements to $600 million to mature in five years. The department shall pay for borrowing “Using funds from the State Highway Fund or other funds that are legally available to the department or State Treasurer for the purposes for which the moneys were borrowed, including moneys received by the department or State Treasurer from the United States government.”

Section 8 (7) is looking for excuses to use constitutionally collected road taxes to cover costs for structural changes needed for tolling, taking funds from improving roads and infrastructure in rural areas. “Moneys in the Toll Program Fund that are transferred from the State Highway Fund or are derived from any revenues under Article IX, section 3a, of the Oregon Constitution, may be used only for purposes permitted by Article IX, section 3a, of the Oregon Constitution.”

Asking the impossible, requirements for tolling are to “reduce traffic congestion not only on the tollway but also on adjacent, connected or parallel highways to the tollways, regardless of ownership.” Unless adjacent or parallel highways are blocked, it only follows that people will choose alternate routes. That may impact low-income housing neighborhoods that tend to line high traffic highways. This requirement may also be impossible: “Minimize and mitigate impacts to historically and currently underrepresented and disadvantaged communities.”

The big question is whether the constitution language can be stretched to somehow include existing highways that are already paid for.

SECTION 35 (1) “To the extent necessary and permitted by state and federal law and section 3a, Article IX of the Oregon Constitution, toll projects on interstate highways shall include investments to make improvements or fund efforts to reduce congestion, improve safety and reduce impacts of diversion as a result of the toll project.”

There is also the constitutionality question on ‘equitable income-based toll rates’. All this will need to be part of the hearing on May 11, 2021, 8 A.M. before the Joint Committee on Transportation if they expect to find favor with the majority of voters who oppose tolling.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-05-09 10:00:20Last Update: 2021-05-09 10:35:58

Recent damage to Salem Police Station
Leftist extremists continue to vandalize the station

Over the past several months, the Salem Police station in Salem, Oregon has incurred almost weekly vandalism.

During anti-police protests in front of the building, leftist extremists have applied chalk, other substances, and signing to the sidewalks, planters, stairways, walls and portico of the building.

The graffiti has done varying degrees of damage to the facility.

Typically, City of Salem facilities crews have been able to wash off the graffiti, but recently the damage appears to be longer lasting if not permanent. One evening of damage required the construction company for the building to resurface and retexturize the cement steps.

Just the removal of the graffiti has cost the City of Salem hundreds of dollars in staff time, with costs to the contractors being much higher.

Balancing the public’s right to the freedom of expression and gathering with unlawful actions is a priority, according to the Salem Police department. They claim that because of that, they have used discretion toward the minor damage to the building in the recent past.

As this damage has become more costly and permanent, they have stated that they are now forced to set boundaries and limits as to where similar activities can occur on the property. The Salem Police Department is now apparently warning that if these limits are not respected, enforcement action may be taken.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-05-08 05:42:48Last Update: 2021-05-08 10:30:53

Oregon Forest Resources Institute Sees Major Changes
More “Environmental Justice“

Passed out of committee on party lines, HB 2357 will strip the budget authority of Oregon Forest Resources Institute (OFRI) to 33 percent and silence them from using funds to educate the public related to forest practices, including the adequacy or effectiveness of any particular forest practice. They also cannot expend funds on educational materials, trainings, tours or other outreach that does not include an environmental conservation perspective, or to influence legislation or rule-making. So, regardless of the science or best practices, if it doesn’t support the Governor’s climate change conservation perspective, OFRI shall remain silent.

The Oregon Forest Resources Institute was created in 1991 to advance public understanding of forests, forest management and forest products and to encourage sound forestry through landowner education. Intended as an advocate for the timber industry, HB 2357A removes OFRI board’s representation of the timber industry as the authority that establishes the privilege tax rate and replaces it with the State Board of Forestry. The decisions for the timber industry moves from a 13-member board of stakeholders to a seven-member citizen board of which three must have income from forest products.

Oregon’s timber industry took a big hit in 2009 that took four years to peak just short of 2004 harvest levels. However, the number of wood processing facilities continue to decline. OFRI identifies as a centralized gateway of shared ideas and collaborative dialogue regarding the delicate balance between the environmental, social and economic values provided by our forests. However, last year the Oregonian/OregonLive, OPB and ProPublica Local Reporting Network reported that OFRI was in opposition to the university climate research and questioned relationships with lobbying groups. The Governor requested an audit pointing to public records and media reports that “allege a variety of statutory and ethical concerns.”

Erin Isselmann, OFRI’s executive director, responded in an email that the institute welcomes the audit from the secretary of state. “We look forward to working with the audit team and learning from their analysis and recommendations.” She has previously said that, under her leadership, the institute has operated “under the highest ethical standards.”

Not wanting to wait for an audit, Representative Andrea Salinas (D-Lake Oswego), Representative Paul Holvey (D-Eugene) and Senator Jeff Golden (D-Ashland) introduced HB 2357A, which puts Oregon Forest Resources Institute under a magnifying glass requiring they record all interactions with elected officials, boards and commissions and agencies, and report a summary to the Governor posting it on their website.

And what happens to the other 66 percent of the privilege tax? HB 2357A establishes the Sound Forestry Practices Sub-account assigned to promote forest health, and the Family Forest-lands Sub-account to provide community support for small forest owners. The allocation of revenue from privilege tax will deposit 50% to Sound Forestry Practices Sub-account, 17% to Family Forest-lands Sub-account, and the 33% to OFRI Fund.

The question remains as to where this will leave our struggling timber industry when their own stakeholder board can’t advocate for them and their best practices?

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-05-08 04:40:30Last Update: 2021-05-08 05:27:26

Rural Fire Protection May no Longer be a Choice
The seven-mile buffer will pit one Rural Fire Protection District against another

The year 2020 saw some of the worst wildfires in state history, and Senator Frederick (D–Portland) thinks that he has found a solution to protecting those rural areas of the state from fires in the future. He has introduced SB 605 which has moved through the Senate and has now had a hearing in the House Committee on Agricultural and Natural Resources.

Currently Under ORS 478.115, counties have the authority to determine the territory included in a rural fire protection district. Originally, SB 605 mandated that improved lands, or new improvements that were within seven road miles of a fire station must be annexed by the county. However, the Senate Natural Resources and Wildfire Recovery Committee amended the measure so that it removed the mandate and replaced it with

“Upon request by a rural fire protection district, requires a county board (County Commissioners) to annex, into the district, lands that are either within seven road miles of a fire station in the district or that are brought within seven miles of a station by a new road, and that are not subject to district tax assessment”.

During hearings in the Senate, Senator Heard (R- Roseburg) asked if someone did not want to be annexed in and they needed services could they opt out and then be able to pay for the services they needed if they had an emergency? Fire Chief Bullock, from Douglas County District 2, responded to the question stating that “the challenge we have faced is that we have already had some of those people refusing to pay bills for services we already provided to them”.

The amended bill moved out of committee and to the full senate where it passed on a near party line vote. It was then assigned to the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee where it received a hearing this week. During that hearing the bill received more opposition than it did in the Senate. Oregon Family Farm Association brough up a concern in written testimony that “SB 605 contains an arbitrary seven-mile buffer that in some parts of the state will pit one Rural Fire Protection District against another RFPD. While that may result in the best delivery of service to the property owner, the bill doesn’t exempt properties that are already served by an existing RFPD”.

Commissioner Craig Pope from Polk County, who himself spent 27 years a volunteer fire fighter and chairman of the board of one of the largest combination fire districts in the state, testified to the committee as well. He said that he is very supportive of “firefighters and the resources they need to do their jobs effectively and safely”. However, he is opposed to the bill because it removes public due process from the annexation process and forces County Commissioners into rubber stamping annexation which is currently not the practice. In addition, he was concerned that this was a Douglas County Fire district No. 2 issue that could end up being a burden for all of Oregon counties. He felt that the Association of Oregon Counties (AOC) could have a much more meaningful conversation than legislating it.

James Williams, Lake County Commissioner, also testified in opposition to the bill. He informed the committee that “the ISO rating for a landowners fire insurance is not affected by simply drawing a circle around a fire district. The ISO rating is still entirely based around boots on the ground, infrastructure and apparatus availability”. Rep. Marsh (D – Ashland) followed up on that line of questioning asking “where did the 7 miles came from it”. Chief Bullock stated that is it based on the parameters of the ISO. There are three levels of rating in the ISO.
  1. The insured location is within 5 road miles of a fire station and is 1,000 feet from a fire hydrant.
  2. The insured location is within 5 road miles of a fire station, but further than 1,000 feet from a fire hydrant.
  3. The insured location is further than 5 road miles of a fire station and 1,000 feet from a fire hydrant, but the firefighting organization meets the hauled water criteria. The boundary is then 7 miles from a fire station.
What is odd about the bill, is that neither the Senator or Representative from the Douglas County area signed on as a Chief Sponsor or regular sponsor to the bill. It was brought to the Committee by the Senator from Portland. However, the question was never asked in the Senate or the House why Senator Heard (R – Roseburg) or Representative Leif (R – Roseburg) did not bring the bill to the attention of the Legislature. In addition, if this was a Douglas County issue, as raised by Chief Bullock who requested the bill, then why did Tom Kress, Douglas County Commissioner testify against the bill?

The bill will remain in committee until the committee chooses to have a work session and vote. That must occur by May 28th or the bill is dead.

--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-05-07 10:37:56Last Update: 2021-05-07 10:49:40

Democrats Vote to Increase Electric Costs
Will disproportionately affect low income households

Governor Kate Brown’s bill, HB 2165, carried by Representative Karin Power (D-Milwaukie) passed the House along party lines. Democrats are claiming the bill will increase the affordability of electric vehicles (EVs) by removing the sunset on the Oregon Clean Vehicle Rebate Program, and doubling the Charge Ahead rebate offered by the program up to $5000, but not less than $2500. It also makes eligible vehicles up to $60,000 retail price.

“Increasing the value of the Charge Ahead rebate will better meet the needs of low- and moderate- income families, helping address the upfront costs of purchasing an EV, and will help household budgets by saving folks money on fuel and car maintenance,” said Rep. Karin Power. “This work is especially important for the health of communities that live near transportation corridors, and for our youngest Oregonians whose lungs are still developing. This bill is a next step in supporting cleaner air, electrification, and grid resilience across our state.”

What the House Democrat announcement fails to point out is the bill is divided between two main activities: Transportation Electrification & Infrastructure, and Zero Emission & Electric Vehicle (ZEEV) Rebates.

The ZEEV portion has to do with increasing the Charge Ahead Rebate program (zero-emission vehicle rebates). The rebates are funded through a tax of 0.5% on new vehicle value imposed on dealers for the privilege of selling in Oregon that increases the cost of a $50,000 vehicle by $250. So, in reality it doesn’t make an electric vehicle any more affordable, it simply makes up for this added tax. That tax revenue is expected to average $31 million a year, and will annually transfer $12 million to the Charge Ahead Rebate program.

In 2019, according to data from Cox Automotive, the average cost of an electric vehicle decreased from $64,300 to $55,600. Depending on the range for recharge, low range vehicles could run as low as $36,000 and long range at $106,000 or more.

The Transportation Electrification & Infrastructure portion of HB 2165 directs an electric company to collect an amount ofone quarter of one percent of total revenues from retail electricity consumers and expend those funds to support and integrate transportation electrification. It also allows utilities to pass investment costs to customers that may include expenditures outside the utilities’ service territory. Where the cost of purchasing an electric vehicle may be a wash under the bill, every electric rate payer will see an increase in their service cost.

This bill is currently headed to the State Senate.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-05-06 10:23:23Last Update: 2021-05-11 15:47:19

BIPOC statement on Nearman
Sensationalism abounds

The BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) Caucus in the Oregon legislature reinforces their minority status every time they allow someone else to speak for them. They have sided with the majority party all session to make sure they are recognized and given status in every measure introduced. But, while they want recognition, they piggyback onto House Majority Leader in accusations against Rep. Mike Nearman.

The BIPOC caucus would seem to have some difficulty in proving their case that Representative Mike Nearman is guilty of endangering them by having exited through a door at the Capitol.

Seemingly having a vendetta against the Republican, the group makes another claim, which has been found to be loaded with inaccuracies in stating the following:

“He is a member of hate groups, including the anti-immigrant group Oregonians for Immigration Reform, where he has served as a board member. This past Saturday, he was scheduled to speak at a rally in Salem attended by white supremacist and nationalist groups, including the Proud Boys and The Three Percenters militia movement. These are white supremacist hate groups and their racist, violent tactics have no place in our Capitol, the underpinning of our vibrant, diverse democracy.”

They seem to be mindlessly echoing the unfounded accusations of the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), who has been caught in a number of lies trying to push their narrative that most U.S. citizens are inherently racist. The group has accused countless other groups of being racist, if they aren't aligned with the Democrat party.

Democrat House leaders issued a statement in January in response to the BIPOC caucus on committing to a truly equitable future:

“Members of the BIPOC Caucus and other community leaders have continually pointed out structural problems big and small that conspire to exclude diverse voices in the Legislature. …We are committed to confronting the past while taking steps to build a future that is more truly equitable, one that centers the needs of people who have been oppressed, discriminated against, and kept out of the halls of influence for too long…. we commit to a brighter future for every Oregonian.”

Does the BIPOC caucus think they are the only group that has been trampled on that needs recognition, and they have a privilege to hate and not be hated, to show bias but not be discriminated against? It seems they have become the equivalent to the little boy who cried wolf one too many times.

Their sensationalism continues:

“Nearman is set to appear in Marion County Court on May 11. As Black, Asian, and Latinx legislators, we do not have the luxury of waiting this out. Every day that Nearman continues as a state legislator, a clear message is sent: your lives, your wellbeing, your safety, do not matter. We call on members of all caucuses, especially House Republican leadership, to call on Nearman to resign and denounce white supremacy, xenophobia, and white nationalism. Our right to feel safe depends on it.”

Nearman is well known for his training on the Constitution. Does BIPOC know that their implication against Rep. Nearman’s character is quite unfair, in light of Oregon Constitution Article 1, Section 1? In this first section, the Oregon Constitution states: “Natural rights are inherent in people. We declare that all men, when they form a social compact are equal in right.”

Supposed "diversity measures" are questionable under the Oregon Constitution Article 1, Section 20, which states: “Equality of privileges and immunities of citizens... No law shall be passed granting to any citizen or class of citizens privileges, or immunities, which, upon the same terms, shall not equally belong to all citizens.”

If Nearman’s association with certain groups is wrong, then why doesn't extremist groups such as Antifa rioting in Portland for over a year deserves equal denouncement. The rioting and destruction of inner city businesses has certainly disproportionately affected those groups of people they claim to represent. Those extreme leftist groups certainly instigate more vandalism, pillage, arson, and rioting that makes every citizen feel unsafe.

One would think that The BIPOC caucus would want to work with Representative Mike Nearman (Independence) to find common ground with everyone, regardless of skin color if their real goal truly is a safer Oregon for all.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-05-06 09:42:13Last Update: 2021-05-06 15:37:55

After Months of Investigation, Nearman is Finally Charged
It’s just two counts, both of which are misdemeanors

After a lengthy four month investigation, State Representative Mike Nearman (R-Independence) has been formally charged on two counts. Both charges are only misdemeanors.

Oregon House Democrat Majority Leader Barbara Smith Warner has made a statement in response to the announcement that Representative Mike Nearman (R-Independence) will be facing misdemeanor charges for walking out a door at the Oregon State Capitol. She claims he allowed white supremacists and other extremists into the State Capitol on December 21, 2020. Smith Warner is calling for Nearman to voluntarily resign. This was expected by many observers, as it in line with the Democrat leader's entirely partisan approach.

Representative Nearman is charged with official misconduct and second degree criminal trespass, according to court documents. Both charges are misdemeanors.

House Majority Leader Barbara Smith Warner claims to lead her caucus on building "a more equitable Capitol", however, when House Speaker Tina Kotek’s staffer, Kristina Narayan was arrested during a riot for interfering and not obeying a Police Officer, the Majority Leader condoned her action by supporting HB 3164, which limits the circumstances under which a person could be charged with interfering with an officer. In this light, it doesn't seem equitable to attack the Minority Republican legislator for a lesser crime.

It seems that Majority Leader Smith Warner may be likely playing partisan politics in her position on the Nearman walking out the Capitol building door.

“When Rep. Nearman opened the door of the Capitol to armed, violent extremists, he not only endangered the physical safety of every person, legislator, and staff in the building, but also the very foundation of our democracy. “

The video shows no guns, and no extreme violence. The timing of the investigation and announcements seem to indicate that the Oregon Democrat leaders were likely attempting to correlate the incident with the national outrage of the U.S. Capitol incident that occurred on January 6th of this year.

The protestors present at the Oregon Capitol on December 21st seemed to have been lobbying for the public to have legal access to their legislative Capitol building as required by the Oregon Constitution.

"Freedom of expression represents the foundation of democracy. Every person - including members of my staff - has the right to stand up for what they believe and engage in nonviolent resistance." stated House Speaker Tina Kotek.

Does her statement apply to those wanting to lobby their elected representatives at the Capitol on December 21, or only to her staffer, Kristina Naranyan, who was charged with crimes during a Portland Oregon Leftist riot?

If you watch the video to the end, the police and security leave and people go in and out of the door left open by security. They do not "raid the Capitol" as Majority Leader Smith Warner has suggested. If Rep. Nearman is to be found guilty of opening the door, are not the security guards guilty of the same crimes for leaving that same door open only 10 minutes later? There had been no instructions to the legislators that day as to what entry and exit protocol was to be.

Many observers are putting forth the explanation that everything Representative Mike Nearman stands accused of that day was merely the Republican legislator advocating for fair and equal representation for all Oregonians.

“Let’s set up some options where people have freedom to do what they want,” Nearman said. “If you want to be masked and you want to be quarantined, go be quarantined. If you want to be out in public and that’s an acceptable risk to you then you can do that.”

Senate Minority Republican Leader Fred Girod (R-Lyons) issued a statement following the announcement of charges filed against Representative Mike Nearman:

“Democrats have overseen widespread and constant violence in Portland. Progressives have turned a blind eye to assaults against first responders, vandalism, and looting with sparse criticism from major Democrats. At this point, it looks like Representative Nearman simply opened a door. No matter who you are, no one is above the law. We should trust our judicial system to air out all the facts and judge them fairly.”

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-05-05 14:09:39Last Update: 2021-05-05 14:56:38

More Robust Government Oversight Recommended
Audit finds need for improvement in Oregon

An audit has been released by the Oregon Secretary of State’s Audits Division that finds that the Oregon Government Ethics Commission (OGEC) and state ethics laws could be better leveraged to improve ethical culture and trust in government.

The audit, which looked at the structure of OGEC and the state laws that govern its work, found that Oregon’s ethics framework and OGEC operations are generally aligned with other states and with leading practices. However, the audit identified a number of areas where the commission could be strengthened and given more independence.

“The Oregon Government Ethics Commission, through its professional staff and board members provide oversight to ensure accountability in Oregon government at every level,” said Secretary of State Shemia Fagan. “This audit provides a roadmap for increasing confidence and trust in Oregon government by recommending steps that should be taken to build stronger independence and oversight.”

The audit makes 14 recommendations, which include statutory changes as well as improvements to systems within the commission. Among the recommendations were to: ​​​​​​​The commission is already in the process of making positive steps toward implementing two of the recommendations included in the audit. Senate Bill 60 would expand the preliminary review period from 30 to 60 days and Senate Bill 63 would allow commissioners to serve more than one term.

​​​​Performance audits identify improvements an agency or program can make to better achieve its objectives and mission. These audits are conducted in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. Those standards require that auditors plan and perform the audit to obtain sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for findings and conclusions based on audit objectives.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-05-05 10:41:55Last Update: 2021-05-05 11:43:57

Bank Robbery in Portland
Suspect was wearing a face covering

On Tuesday, May 4th, 2021, at about 12:45 p.m. Portland Police responded to a report of a robbery with a knife at a bank in the 4500 block of North Interstate Avenue. It seems this is a U.S. Bank branch.

The suspect, who was taking advantage of the Draconian, statewide mask wearing mandate in Oregon, made a demand for money via demand note and claimed to have a knife. The robber obtained cash from the victim teller, and fled the branch.

This tends to raise the question of why there are so few licensed, concealed firearm carriers in Multnomah County, but when considering local policies and attitudes towards firearms in general, it comes as no surprise. A legal, firearm carrying individual willing to intervene would have easily deterred the crime.

Responding officers gathered suspect information and searched the area, which led them to the 4000 block of North Winchell Avenue. Officers found a person matching the suspect description, identified as 26-year-old Benjamin Patrick Murphy, in the 4000 block of North Winchell Avenue and took him into custody.

Benjamin Patrick Murphy has face tattoos.

It is highly likely the suspect would never had robbed the bank, had normal bank face covering policies been in place.

Officers recovered evidence related to the robbery.

Murphy was booked into the Multnomah County jail on a US Marshal Hold for bank robbery.

It seems that in a bank, logic would prevail, and masks or face coverings would not be allowed for security purposes. This has always been normal bank policy, until 2020. Those employees who work in the banking industry have repeatedly raised these concerns, in fear for their personal safety and lives, yet the industry has not challenged the one-size-fits-all rules set forth by the Oregon state government.

Local officials and the main stream media seem to be okay with perpetuating the nasty division caused by the mandate to constantly wear masks, despite the lack of evidence that it is helping keep people healthy.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-05-05 09:50:54Last Update: 2021-05-05 12:39:14

Oregon OSHA Says Permanently Wear Masks
Until they tell you to stop

Oregon Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) has adopted a rule to maintain social distancing measures for workers across the state against the coronavirus.

Although the rule includes several changes since the rule was proposed in late January, the basic requirements are largely the same as they have been since 2020.

Oregon OSHA states the rule will be repealed when it is no longer needed. As with the temporary rule it replaces, the rule includes such health protection measures as physical distancing; use of face coverings; employee notification and training; formal exposure risk assessment and infection control planning; and optimization and maintenance of existing ventilation systems.

One of the most significant areas of public comment concerned the lack of a specific sunset date or other trigger to automatically repeal the rule.

Oregon OSHA determined that the ongoing Covid outbreak require that the rule be indefinitely extended.

Oregon state law does not allow a rule using that temporary process to be in place more than 180 days.

“We reviewed all of the comments – including the many comments that opposed the rule – and we gave particular consideration to those comments that explained their reasoning or provided concrete information, said Michael Wood, administrator of Oregon OSHA. “Although we chose to move forward with the rule, the final product includes a number of changes based on that record."

“At the same time, we are keeping in place key protections for workers as part of Oregon's larger and ongoing project to defeat COVID-19," Wood said. “To allow the workplace COVID-19 protections to simply go away would have left workers far less protected. And it would have left employers who want to know what is expected of them with a good deal less clarity than the rule provides."

Because Oregon OSHA determined it is not possible to assign a specific time for a decision to repeal the rule, Oregon OSHA has committed to consulting with the Oregon OSHA Partnership Committee, the two Infectious Disease Rulemaking Advisory Committees, the Oregon Health Authority, and other stakeholders to help determine when the rule can be repealed.

The first of these discussions will take place no later than July 2021, and will continue every two months until the rule has been repealed. The indicators factoring into the decision will include infection rates (including the rate of spread of COVID-19 variants), positivity rates, and vaccination rates, as well as hospitalizations and fatalities.

While the final rule broadly reflects the temporary rule, it also includes some significant changes. Those include: The final rule also makes clear that the risk assessment, infection control plan, and infection control training completed under the temporary rule do not need to be repeated as a result of the adoption of the final rule.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-05-04 22:30:01Last Update: 2021-05-04 23:03:37

Kate Brown Goes Back and Forth on Lockdowns
Oregonians are getting whiplash

Just as restaurants threw out their food and laid-off workers, the Governor has now decided to lift her lockdown starting on Friday.

Her announcement comes after intense statewide blow-back and criticism for using arbitrary metrics to shutdown thousands of Oregon businesses.

“Oregonians deserve stability, but the Governor is giving them whiplash. Local business owners and workers cannot even plan their lives a week in advance, ”Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod(R-Lyons) said. “No one person should have all this power over the everyday lives of Oregonians. This reversal further highlights the need for the Legislature to hold the Governor accountable and pass legislation to check her abuses of power."

”Republican legislation like SB 533 and 789 would restore democratic processes and balance to government decision-making. Under current law, the Governor has complete power over who can work and earn a living when she declares an emergency. Republican proposals would protect Oregonians against the arbitrary decisions of one person and give Oregonians stability."

Senate Bill 533 would prohibit the Governor from taking actions that would keep Oregonians from working or operating their businesses.

Senate Bill 789 will require the Governor to get the Legislature’s approval of an emergency declaration after 60 days.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-05-04 18:49:20Last Update: 2021-05-04 19:15:09

Is There Any Bipartisanship Left In The Session?
Current challenges to shut-down orders

The Oregon House Republican Caucus announced last week that in response to new shutdown orders from the Governor’s office, they want to pull bipartisan bills to the House floor to bring up proposals with sponsors from both parties that would roll back COVID-19 executive orders and require additional accountability.

They are following the bipartisan actions of Legislatures in New York, Texas and Michigan, where state lawmakers seek to restore balance to government decision-making.

The following bills have bipartisan support: This week, New York’s legislature repealed several coronavirus-related executive orders, nearly two months after stripping Governor Andrew Cuomo of pandemic-era emergency powers. Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins, a Democrat, explained the decision by saying it is time to begin removing certain restrictions and regulations that are no longer necessary to rebuild the state’s economy.

In Oregon, Governor Kate Brown has exercised emergency powers which grant authority to enact widespread restrictions on commerce, education and public gatherings without any checks and balances. The newest shutdown orders do not reflect the current situation.

Today the personal protective equipment supply situation is different, the vaccination situation is different, and the treatment of patients has evolved as well. Furthermore, the regional collaboration among hospitals has been developed over the course of the pandemic.

Severe cases of COVID-19 are also less common now because nearly 70 percent of Oregon’s at-risk population is fully vaccinated. Hospital rates for parts of the state like Southern Oregon are also not increasing, yet the new shutdowns impact businesses in those communities.

House Republicans point out that despite these changing circumstances, the response from the Governor’s office has not changed. “The Legislature is in Session and we have a duty to engage.

"Oregonians need to have a balance of power between the separate branches of government again,” said House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby.) “The decision to shut down businesses this week contradicts the newest CDC recommendations by not accounting for vaccinated individuals in Oregon. Furthermore, our businesses allow people to gather in places with standardized safety measures. There is no evidence that shutting them down will have an impact on transmission rates. If COVID guidelines in Oregon continue to ignore CDC guidelines to the detriment of families, kids and our main street businesses, we must restore the Legislature’s ability to hold the executive branch accountable.”

“There’s zero evidence that we’re anywhere close to running out of hospital capacity in Marion County from COVID-19 cases,” added Marion County Commissioner Colm Willis. “We have plenty of PPE and because of vaccinations we aren’t seeing the same high level of severity in overall cases who need hospitalization. On top of that, there is zero data to suggest that restaurants have ever been a top contributor to COVID-19 transmissions. Shutting businesses down won’t change the numbers.”

This week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidance that lifted many restrictions for vaccinated individuals, including dining at the same table without masks and social distancing.

Many Oregonians are suggesting that Governor Kate Brown should quit hiding behind her mask, follow federal guidance and open the state.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-05-04 16:06:02Last Update: 2021-05-04 19:58:45

Democrats Block Legislative Oversight of Emergency Powers
Kate Brown’s power will remain unchecked

Checks and balances are meant to exist within our constitutional, republic government. It is one way to protect the governed people from potential tyranny.

Sadly, this idea does not seem to be popular amongst Oregon Democrats, who are happy to completely hand over any legislative power that would challenge the mandates of Governor Kate Brown.

Oregon House Legislators voted to consider a bill on the House floor that would give the Legislature oversight on Governor Kate Brown’s emergency powers and sole authority over the COVID-19 response.

Republicans moved to pull HB 2243 out of committee directly to the House floor for a vote.

The motion did not receive the required number of votes to pass. All Republican members voted in favor to make the Governor accountable to the Legislature.

28 Democrats voted against the motion, maintaining the Governor’s sole authority over COVID-19 and unchecked ability to shut down businesses.

The decision is in response to the Governor’s announcement last week to unilaterally extend her own emergency powers again, granting her the ability to issue shutdowns without involving another governing body.

County commissioners have repeatedly asked the Governor to be more targeted in her decisions. Currently, the statewide threshold for “extreme risk” designation disregards the fact that hospital cases of COVID-19 are decreasing in some counties where businesses must now close.

“The Legislature is in Session and we have a duty to engage,” House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby) previously said. “Oregonians deserve a balance of power between their separate branches of government again.”

HB 2243 (chief sponsors Rep. Wilde, Lewis, regular sponsors Rep. Cate, Evans, Hayden, Leif, Levy, Moore-Green, Morgan, Owens, Post, Reschke, Wallan, Wright) - Requires that declarations and extensions of states of emergency under certain statutes be accompanied by written explanations.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-05-04 13:38:27Last Update: 2021-05-04 14:27:15

Suicide Hotlines
Never underestimate the ability of tax-and-spend Democrats to create bigger government

There are many fine suicide hotline programs and all of them could go away in an instant, replaced by a one-size-fits-all state operated program, supported by a new tax. Most of the current suicide prevention hotlines are run out of the county mental health providers.

Nationally there has been a call for a 9-8-8, system, modeled on 9-1-1 systems in which one three number combination can be dialed anywhere and all the switching mechanisms will identify it and route it to where it needs to go. Suicide prevention hotlines are a perfect application of this tool. Imagine a distraught young person or perhaps a veteran. They just need to talk to someone. One could easily see how it could make a difference by merely dialing 9-8-8, than having to make several calls or poke around online to find the right number.

Never underestimate the ability of tax-and-spend Democrats to take an important issue like suicide prevention and use it to create bigger government and increase taxes. HB 3069, introduced by Representative Tawna Sanchez (D-Portland) creates a statewide 9-8-8 center supported by a tax on all phones. Presumably, the 15 or so existing, functional systems will just fade away.

The size of the tax increase has not been determined, but Oregonians who just had their cell phone taxes increased for rural broadband may not have an appetite for another tax increase -- whatever the size. The bill has passed out of the House Committee on Behavioral Health and is in the House Committee on Revenue.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-05-04 09:25:29Last Update: 2021-05-04 10:37:37

Oregon Democrat Caught in Sex Trafficking Sting
Was formerly democrat House Majority Leader

53-year-old Democrat David Hunt of Milwaukie, Oregon has been caught and charged in a sex trafficking sting operation, according to the Portland Police Bureau.

David Hunt is the former Oregon Speaker of the House during the 2009-11 Oregon legislative session and the Democrat House Majority Leader from the 2007-2009. He is also a current Clackamas Community College board member.

Hunt served as a representative in the Oregon state legislature for District 40, where he represented the Clackamas area. He served from 2003 to 2013.

Hunt helped to pass a bill criminalizing sex trafficking in 2007.

The Portland Police Bureau's Human Trafficking Unit cited 8 men total, including Hunt, in the undercover operation, conducted in April 2021. They were lured through known trafficking websites.

Hunt, along with others arrested apparently arranged payment for sexual acts. Hunt will be charged with at least Commercial Sexual Solicitation.

Hunt was unavailable for comment.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-05-03 12:19:08Last Update: 2021-05-03 20:48:22

Campus Sexual Harassment Legislation Moves
“No victim should ever be silenced by powerful institutions”

A group of bipartisan Oregon lawmakers introduced legislation to ensure safe and respectful Oregon university campuses. The legislation comes in the wake of the recent national response to the sexual assault allegations at Oregon Health & Science University.

In February, a lawsuit was filed against OHSU alleging that rampant sexual misconduct has been allowed for years and that leadership and management failed to report sexual assault allegations. Lawmakers cite the fact OHSU has failed to ever audit its sexual harassment, discrimination, and misconduct issues. Last week, OHSU paid $585,000 to the victim. Other racial discrimination suits have been filed against Oregon State University.

“Recent allegations on Oregon’s campuses underscores that the Legislature has not done enough to hold our universities accountable. The Legislature’s oversite in this area is much-needed so we can understand how to protect victims of harassment. The public deserves to know how their tax dollars are being spent in this area,” Senator Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer) and author of the legislation said.

The legislation would establish a bipartisan committee to investigate and hear testimony about the culture, policies, practices, and procedures that Oregon’s universities use to prevent and respond to sexual and racial harassment and discrimination.

“The Legislature must hold our universities accountable for creating a safe and inclusive space for everyone,” Senator Sara Gelser (D-Corvallis), co-chief sponsor of the legislation said. “No victim of sexual or racial harassment should ever be silenced by powerful institutions. We can let their voices be heard.”

Advocates and victims have raised concerns about the recent probe being conducted by the former Attorney General of the United States Eric Holder. In the agreement between him and OHSU, the report of the investigation was called “legal advice,” raising questions about how much of the results can be covered up. The Legislative oversite would ensure the public has access to important information while protecting victims.

The bill’s sponsors include state Sens. Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer), Sara Gelser (D-Corvallis), Kayse Jama (D-Portland), Lew Fredrick (D-Portland), Tim Knopp (R-Bend), and state Reps. Christine Drazan (R-Canby), Vikki Breese-Iverson (R-Prineville), Mark Meek (D-Oregon City), Daniel Bonham (R-The Dalles), Shelly Boshart Davis (R-Albany), Jami Cate (R-Lebanon), Bobby Levy (R-Ech0), Lily Morgan (R-Grants Pass), and Kim Wallan (R-Medford).

The bipartisan-bicameral legislation was introduced today as SJR 30 and will be considered first by the Senate.

Photo by Cam Ferland on Unsplash

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-05-03 12:18:16Last Update: 2021-05-03 13:00:29

Special Elections Upcoming
Time to elect school boards

The next election in Oregon is May 18, 2021. This will be for local, special district elections.

The Legislative Session is having a hay day with educational bills lately. Most recently is an attempt to cover up the failure of virtual schools in SB 744, which suspends education standards to receive a diploma. As we work our way out of the COVID-19 pandemic, school boards will be faced with mopping up from aggressive executive orders that have kept our schools closed. Who we vote for on May 18 will make a difference.

Oregon Abigail Adams Voter Project provides school board candidates with a questionnaire posted on their website for voter information and public use. This year they have tied the questions with how the candidate rates subjects addressed in the legislative session.

The questions are grouped in five categories: school board and administration responsibilities, financial, school choice, student learning-curriculum/testing, and school environment and safety.

The overall tally of those who do respond says a lot about what we can expect from school boards. It is interesting to note that where the candidates who have responded mostly agree with smaller classrooms, class size being a negotiated item, training on bullying, and school choice, they were not so willing to burden businesses with the bill.

Some of the take aways from the tally of those candidates who responded are: Heads up parents. Many candidates may want to snoop on your kids through computer software (SB 594). But, they do support parents being notified when their student is a victim of harassment, contrary to HB 2631.

As more candidates respond, the dynamics of the tally may change. It’s important to check the Oregon Abigail Adams listing for your school district candidates that have responded. When competing candidates respond, you will see a comparison guide.

Maybe the most important thing the tally shows is how out of touch the Oregon legislature is with those that have to administer what they pass into law. As one of the candidates responded, “using the education system to further agendas isn't acceptable.”

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-05-02 18:38:21Last Update: 2021-05-02 23:46:05

Portland May Day Riot
Were you expecting a peaceful demonstration?

On May 1, 2021, a gathering happened in the City of Portland that devolved into a riot.

While Demonstration Liaison Officers were in the area of Southwest 4th Avenue and Southwest Columbia Street, they intervened in an altercation where one of the subjects was arrested. There is some video of part of this incident circulating online but it does not capture the entire event or the portion when the crimes were committed.

Several items were seized including a baseball bat, body armor, a knife and a flare. 26-year-old Michael Isaacs of Portland was charged with Menacing and Disorderly Conduct II.

A vehicle caravan of about 30 cars drove near the Justice Center, then to the ICE facility. A group of about 50 people blocked traffic on South Moody Avenue and South Bancroft Street.

Between 9 and 10 p.m., one group of about 30 individuals gathered near the ICE facility. Another group of about 80-100 people gathered in Shemanski Park. Both of these events had been promoted as "autonomous demonstrations" similar to prior events where participants engaged in criminal behavior including arson, assault, vandalism and theft.

There were a number of shields brought to Shemanski Park which was another indicator those within the group intended to engage in criminal acts. The group marched to City Hall and began engaging in vandalism by breaking windows and spray painting the building. Due to the criminal activity, the gathering was declared an unlawful assembly and the crowd was ordered by loudspeaker to disperse.

Multiple windows were broken and a riot was declared due to the criminal activity that was occurring. The crowd was given direction to disperse to the west. Rather than disperse, the group marched in the streets. More individuals continued to break windows of businesses.

Several members of the crowd used umbrellas in an attempt to block police from viewing criminal acts.

The group rampaging downtown began to disperse. PPB continued to display a presence in the area and make focused arrests of those engaged in criminal acts.

The group near ICE began to grow in numbers to between 50 and 60 around 11:30 p.m. As officers were making a focused arrest, a male subject in the crowd was trying to push through the officer's line. He reached into his pocket and pulled a butterfly-type knife on officers. The male ran away, then officers on bicycles located the suspect and arrested him.

Portland Police Bureau made focused arrests of individuals engaged in criminal acts including:

"Once again, under the cover of darkness, several dozen people decided to damage and destroy multiple businesses in our downtown area resulting in a riot," Chief Chuck Lovell said. "The situation became extremely dangerous when a man brandished a knife at officers when officers were simply doing their job. The officers appear to have exercised restraint and professionalism and safely apprehended this suspect. I am proud of all of our employees who worked to minimize further damage and arrest some of the criminals involved."

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-05-02 14:49:26Last Update: 2021-05-02 15:44:29

A Dance With COVID
Opinion from an Oregon family

Note: This is a Northwest Observer Guest Editorial

For the last year, we like so many others have “danced with COVID”. We wore our mask, most of the time, stayed 6’ apart from people, except in Costco, Walmart, Safeway, etc., and washed our hands so much they dried and cracked.

During the past year we sat outside the outfield fence with binoculars so that we could watch our daughter play softball, we traveled to Idaho so that she could play in a basketball tournament, we hosted an “underground Prom” so that the class of 2020 could have some sense of normalcy as the world stopped in its tracks. During the summer we hosted a backyard wedding so that two young people could celebrate their love surrounded by their family and start their lives together. Our family paid to have our noses swabbed so that we could escape to one of our favorite Hawaiian Islands for a needed get away from the craziness of Oregon. We danced with COVID.

Our children had their public education turned upside down. One lost the end of their Freshmen year of High School and the other their Freshmen year of College. They spent most of their Sophomore year learning from their bedrooms. For our college kid it should have been a time of meeting new people, living on his own, and growing into an adult. Instead, he was back in his old bedroom stuck at home with his parents. For our daughter, it should have been a year filled with cheering at football games, pep assemblies, homecoming, winter formal, sports, and fun with friends. Instead, it was a crammed together sports seasons, no homecoming, and no winter formal. Luckily, she has great friends and we never said no to an opportunity for her to go hang out, attend a backyard bonfire or anything else that felt like a normal teenage weekend night. We danced with COVID.

Being “essential workers” me and my husband’s lives could not stop. Crops do not stop growing and employees need their jobs. We spent hours and days searching stores for PPE for our employee’s, purchased additional sanitation equipment and moved the lunch area to a large open shed. Requirements changed daily, but there was still work to be done. Our employees continued to show up to work; remote work is not possible in agriculture and tried their best to follow the rules. We danced with COVID.

We were told that if we just continued to follow the rules and non-stop changing metrics, life would return to normal. A year later it feels like that day will never come. We have watched businesses close for good and have helped friends pack to move out of state. We know we can’t pick up and go like they do because agriculture work is unlike any other business; we are tied to the land. So, we dance with COVID.

We have lost family members to natural causes without being able to say goodbye and we have lost family members over politics brought out by COVID disagreement. Our personal health choices have become coffee shop talk, and everyone has an opinion as to what we should or should not be putting into our body. We danced with COVID.

Like every dance, eventually the song comes to an end and so does the dance. Our dance came to an end almost 2 weeks ago. Living on a farm, seasonal allergies are a norm. We sneeze and we cough and we go to work. However, when we received a notice that we were potentially exposed to COVID we decided that our dance was over. We took the test and sure enough, we were positive. Testing did nothing but add to the statistics used by our governor to shutdown small businesses (we did not get COVID at a bar, restaurant or gym). The doctor told us to rest, drink fluids and take Tylenol if we had a fever (which we did not). Nothing different from what he would have told us if we had the flu! It has been 10+ years since we had flu shots and longer since we had the flu, and we will not lie, this flu is a doozy. However, we are surviving, and we will recover. We danced with COVID.

So, what is next? Can we toss the masks? Can we get together with friends? Can we travel? Are we now immune to getting it again? These are legitimate questions. We are told to keep the masks on, stay away from people, stay home and if we want to travel freely we still need to get a vaccine for an illness that we had and survived.

We danced with COVID, but it appears we may have to keep wearing the dancing shoes for a much longer time.

--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-05-01 13:59:37Last Update: 2021-05-01 17:21:43

Law to Address School District Diversity Ratio
Seniority no longer would be a determining factor

The House Rules Committee is one of the few committees where bills can remain active until they are “called up” by the committee chair or the Speaker of the House.

The bills can also cover just about any topic. House Rules is currently looking at bills that have to do with public meeting law, land use changes and employment law just to name a few.

One of the bills in their committee is HB 2001. The bill came to the Rules Committee after passing out of the House Committee on Education.

The bill would require school districts facing budgetary constraints to prioritize teachers for retention based on seniority, unless a teacher being retained has more merit and the retention of the teacher maintains the school district's diversity ratio.

In other words, more experienced teachers will continue to be retained unless the district has a lower seniority teacher that meets a diversity ration and then that teacher would be retained over the other teacher, based on their skin color.

Currently when a public school district in Oregon needs to or chooses to do a reduction in staffing, they do the reduction based on seniority as required by ORS 342.934. It is also typically called out in the staff collective bargaining agreement. In a session where almost, every bill has been driven by diversity, equity and recognizing historically under-served populations, this bill seems to fit the theme and should have received little resistance. It was also sponsored by The Speaker of the House, Representative Kotek (D–Portland).

However, during initial hearings in the House Education Committee, it was openly opposed by the Oregon Education Association (OEA) as well as some teachers that could be considered part of the group protected by the proposed change.

Jared Mason-Gere, OEA Government Relations representative stated in testimony that, “Since the late 1990s, collective bargaining agreements across Oregon have systematically and purposefully omitted “merit”-based language in contracts due to causing difficult and chaotic layoff processes," said Jared Mason-Gere, OEA Government Relations representative. "We fear the language in HB 2001 will create a messy process of trying to reopen and renegotiate contracts. We also fear that this bill could create legal challenges that could set back affirmative hiring and retention practices even further. Legal precedent is very clear that hiring can be used to advance equity goals, but layoff cannot. It is also clear that hiring ratios can be used relative to qualified applicants but cannot be used for other populations such as population served.”

Alisha Chavez a 6th year teacher of K-2 Intensive Skills for Portland Public Schools agreed with OEA. She has stated:

“While, I fully agree with the intention of retaining Black, Indigenous, and Educators of Color, this bill has language that will harm our communities directly. It will change the language to get rid of seniority and replace with “merit” instead. Under the current bill language, an educator who might be fluent in French which is not a language used in my position would be able to bump me as they have more ‘merit’ than me”.

She is correct, in the bill, “Merit” is defines among other ways as the measurement of the ability and effectiveness of one teacher, as measured against the ability and effectiveness of another teacher, based on consideration of any of the following factors: Any languages spoken by the teacher that are not English. It says nothing about the additional language being applicable to the position, the school or needs of the students.

Oregon Partners for Education Justice, a coalition of Oregon associations including Oregon Business Council, Latino Network, Native American Youth and Family (NAYA), and the Coalition of Communities of Color, just to name a few, support the bill. They shared that “According to the 2020 Oregon Educator Equity Report, 38.5% of Oregon’s students identify as racially, ethnically and linguistically diverse, whereas only 10.7% of educators identify as such”.

Max Williams, President and CEO of Oregon Community Foundation agreed that Oregon has made progress in diversifying its K-12 workforce, but teacher diversity still lags significantly behind trends in our K-12 student population. With 62 percent of Oregon teachers of color hired in just the last 5 years, workforce diversity suffers when reductions in force are made based only on merit and seniority.

“HB 2001 offers a reasonable solution to this challenge in requiring school districts, when implementing reductions in force, to retain an educator with less seniority if the educator has more merit and their retention is necessary to maintain the district’s diversity ratio”. said Max Williams

The bill is scheduled for additional public hearing, more opinions may be presented.

--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-05-01 10:29:36Last Update: 2021-05-01 13:37:14

Where’s the Beef?
“Sanctuary State” for animals

Many of us remember the popular Wendys’ commercial with the sweet elderly grandmas.

David Michelson of Portland has filed an attack on all animal farming in Oregon when he filed Oregon Initiative Petition 13(IP 13) for the 2022 election to end animal cruelty.

This is essentially a full out attack on one of Oregon’s top economic income producers.

Oregon’s 12,000 beef ranchers raise about 1.3 million head of cattle for your organic meat pleasure. But it doesn’t stop there.

It also applies to poultry, fishing, hunting, agricultural research or teaching that involves the use of animals, and control of vermin or pests.

The bill specifies that animals can only be eaten after dying of natural causes (at which point, aged/diseased meat is not good). IP 13 is proposed as the "Abuse, Neglect, and Assault Exemption Modification and Improvement Act", which removes all references to “good animal husbandry” from state statute and makes it illegal to kill or hurt an animal for any reason other than self-defense.

If Michelson has his way, all animal food sources would give way to lab-grown meat. This is a global trend pushing the U.N. Agenda 2030, and instep with extremist proposals to eliminate 90% of red meat by 2030. Oregon seems to once again be following Colorado down a rabbit hole -- Colorado’s ballot initiative would criminalize husbandry practices.

IP13 not only criminalizes raising food animals in the state, it reclassifies animal husbandry practices as “sexual assault.”, detailed in Section 6 of the initiative. The IP makes intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing animal physical injury as abuse in the second degree a Class B misdemeanor. First degree is when it intentionally causes serious injury or cruel death as a Class A misdemeanor.

Traditional farming and ranching would be shut down, making protein scarce. Allowing cattle to live to old age takes a lot of grain, which is already in short supply. Lack of natural proteins and grains will soon weaken the population and looking to government labs for food may likely further the agenda of total government reliance.

Recalling when Agenda 21 first became known, there was a push for animal rights giving them legal protections from humans. IP 13 is a rewrite of the same concept. If Oregon passes IP 13, Oregon would essentially be a sanctuary state for animals.

Any animal in the state would have their rights codified in law, giving them equal status with humans.

Michelson needs 112,000 people to sign his petition before summer 2022.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-04-30 19:37:11Last Update: 2021-04-30 20:09:35

New Oregon Elections Director Hired
From the Portland City Auditor’s Office

After a three-month, nationwide search, Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan announced today the hiring of Deborah Scroggin as the new Oregon Elections Director.

Scroggin joins the Secretary of State’s office after nearly a decade with the Portland City Auditor’s Office where she oversaw city elections, the lobbying and political consultant program, and business operations.

“Deborah is the right person at the right time. Her leadership will steer the Oregon Elections Division in their ongoing work to ensure Oregonians have faith in our elections system,” Secretary Fagan said. “Deborah’s dedication to fairness and access for all Oregon voters is without question, and I am proud to have her on our team.”

A recent survey has shown an ongoing need to build confidence and trust in Oregon’s election system.

Scroggin was selected after a national search, and a rigorous interview process which included representatives from the Oregon Association of County Clerks.

“It is an honor to join the Secretary of State’s office and lead the dedicated professionals within the Elections Division,” Scroggin said. “After a period of turnover and transition, I am eager to build stability and guide the team through modernization efforts to improve elections for every Oregonian. It is a pivotal time for elections in this country. Together with the 36 county clerks across Oregon, we will continue the hard work to ensure Oregon’s elections are a model for the nation.”

Scroggin, who has a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Oregon and a master’s degree in public administration from the Portland State University, first joined the Portland City Auditor’s Office in 2012 as the Elections Officer for the City of Portland. She has most recently served as the Programs and Operations Supervisor.

Scroggin takes over the position from Interim Elections Director Brenda Bayes. Bayes, who previously served more than 20 years in the Elections Division, including as the Deputy Elections Director, temporarily rejoined the agency from retirement beginning in January to lead through the transition.

“I want to thank Brenda for her willingness to come back into public service and for her steady leadership and commitment to the agency and division,” Secretary Fagan said. “She has been a critical component to a smooth transition over the last several months.”

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-30 12:25:40Last Update: 2021-04-30 12:42:57

Eastern Oregon town declares crisis

The laid-back town of Baker City is now hoping to wake up the state of Oregon so as to not be so passive any longer. Oregon seems to be all about providing sanctuary for various things. We have sanctuary for undocumented humans and we may be voting on giving even animals sanctuary in 2022. The business leaders in Baker City approached the new mayor, Kerry McQuisten, and the city council with a “Common Sense Sanctuary City” resolution.

It wasn’t a slam-dunk, after all they intended to buck the Governor’s Emergency Executive Order. So, after a town hall that formed a work-group to set out a course of action, they wrote Governor Kate Brown telling her their community and business leaders were left out of the pandemic decision-making process. Receiving no response, the work group got busy drafting an Emergency Declaration.

What resulted was an official declaration in RESOLUTION No. 3881


WHEREAS, the Oregon Governor’s Executive Order 20-03: Declaration of Emergency due to COVID-19, and all subsequent and related OSHA guidance, and present and future executive order extensions of such are arbitrary, ineffective, and draconian;


WHEREAS, we as a municipality have no legal ability to summarily flout these mandates, guidelines and enforcement by OSHA, and therefore cannot protect any local business from State-directed targeting, repercussions and penalties if such local business personally chooses to;


WHEREAS, we also recognize that neither city, county nor state government has the legal right to flout the Oregon State Constitution or the United States Constitution;


WHEREAS that relate to the right to make personal decisions, the lack of science to support the lockdowns, misinformation used, a number of consequences leading to criminal behavior, and business failures as a result of the mandates. To which they resolved:

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that we declare an economic, mental health, and crime crisis due to the current COVID-related State Emergency Declaration and related OSHA mandates and guidances, as a means of loudly and symbolically supporting our citizenry;


BE IT RESOLVED, the City will communicate in writing with the Governor’s Office to encourage the full opening of our city and county, re-categorization to low-population status, or suggesting other means necessary to give our citizens relief from these mandates;


BE IT RESOLVED, the City will support upcoming legislation, dependent upon its straightforward and unharmful wording, which provides reparations to business owners who have had their businesses and income taken without compensation;


BE IT RESOLVED, the City will support future statewide ballot initiatives that limit the duration and extent of Governor’s emergency powers, which may create similar lock-down scenarios during future emergencies, natural disasters, and pandemics;


BE IT RESOLVED, the City will share this resolution with other Oregon cities, counties, and media outlets in the hope those entities will also speak more loudly;


BE IT RESOLVED the City recognizes the citizenry of Baker City are free, sovereign individuals within a Constitutional, Representative Republic, not subjects or slaves, and will be recognized as such as we firmly stand to represent them.

PASSED by the City Council of the City of Baker City, Oregon and signed by the Mayor of Baker City, Oregon, this 23rd day of March, 2021.

The Governor and her staff seemingly have refused to consider a Stanford study and dismissed suggestions from the CDC, which states that “lock-downs should not be used as a primary method of controlling this disease and stopping the spread.”

Mayor McQuisten hopes that other cities will get in the fight against arbitrary pandemic mitigation measures that have proven destructive.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-04-29 21:08:07Last Update: 2021-04-29 22:04:01

Bills have bi-partisan support

A new round of business shutdowns highlights unbalanced government authority and has prompted reaction from the Oregon Legislative branch.

In response to new shutdown orders from the Governor’s office, House Republicans today are considering pulling bills to the House floor to bring up proposals with sponsors from both parties that would roll back COVID-19 executive orders or require additional accountability.

The announcement follows the bipartisan actions of Legislatures in New York, Texas and Michigan, where state lawmakers seek to restore balance to government decision-making.
  • HJR 18 (sponsors Rep. Reschke, Nearman, Post) - Terminating state of emergency relating to COVID-19.
  • HB 2243 (sponsors Rep. Wilde, Lewis, Evans, Owens) - Requires that declarations and extensions of states of emergency under certain statutes be accompanied by written explanations.
  • HB 3177 (sponsor Rep. David Brock Smith) - Limits types of restrictions that Governor may impose on certain businesses during state of emergency related to COVID-19 pandemic.
  • HB 3350 (sponsor Rep. Witt, Owens) - Prescribes requirements for providing education to students with disability during COVID-19 emergency.
  • HB 3243 (sponsor Rep. Reschke) - Provides that civil penalty imposed as result of violation of COVID-19 emergency rule becomes due and payable 50 years after order imposing penalty becomes final.
New York’s legislature repealed several coronavirus-related executive orders, nearly two months after stripping Governor Andrew Cuomo of pandemic-era emergency powers. Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins, a Democrat, explained the decision by saying it is time to begin removing certain restrictions and regulations that are no longer necessary to rebuild the state’s economy.

In Oregon, Governor Kate Brown has exercised emergency powers which grant authority to enact widespread restrictions on commerce, education and public gatherings without any checks and balances.

The newest shutdown orders do not reflect the current situation Oregonians are experiencing.

Today the personal protective equipment supply situation is different, the vaccination situation is different, and the treatment of patients has evolved as well. Furthermore, the regional collaboration among hospitals has been developed over the course of the pandemic.

Severe cases of COVID-19 are also less common now because nearly 70 percent of Oregon’s at-risk population is fully vaccinated.

Hospital rates for parts of the state like Southern Oregon are also not increasing, yet the new shutdowns impact businesses in those communities. Two weeks ago, Asante had as many as 26 cases in the system. By last night they had 13 in house. In both Providence and Asante in Southern Oregon, only 6 patients with COVID-19 are in ICU beds.

House Republicans point out that despite these changing circumstances, the response from the Governor’s office has not changed.

“The Legislature is in Session and we have a duty to engage. Oregonians need to have a balance of power between the separate branches of government again,” said House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby.) “The decision to shut down businesses this week contradicts the newest CDC recommendations by not accounting for vaccinated individuals in Oregon. Furthermore, our businesses allow people to gather in places with standardized safety measures. There is no evidence that shutting them down will have an impact on transmission rates. If COVID guidelines in Oregon continue to ignore CDC guidelines to the detriment of families, kids and our main street businesses, we must restore the Legislature’s ability to hold the executive branch accountable.”

“There’s zero evidence that we’re anywhere close to running out of hospital capacity in Marion County from COVID-19 cases,” added Marion County Commissioner Colm Willis. “We have plenty of PPE and because of vaccinations we aren’t seeing the same high level of severity in overall cases who need hospitalization. On top of that, there is zero data to suggest that restaurants have ever been a top contributor to COVID-19 transmissions. Shutting businesses down won’t change the numbers.”

This week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidance that lifted many restrictions for vaccinated individuals, including dining at the same table without masks and social distancing. The newest shutdowns from the Governor’s office does not account for the fact that nearly a third of Oregonians have received both vaccination doses.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-04-29 13:19:24Last Update: 2021-04-29 16:11:16

Calls out Democrat legislators

Oregon Senate Minority Leader Fred Girod has issued a statement in response to the continued lockdown of Oregon's economy and livelihood.

“We are not obligated to let the Governor railroad Oregonians without accountability and transparency,” Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod (R-Lyons) said. “Legislative Democrats have locked people out of their Capitol building, and are actively participating in the Governor's efforts to lock working Oregonians out of their jobs. With vaccinations ramping up, we should focus on lifting Oregonians up, not putting them out of work.”

“Democrat’s refusal to take seriously their role as a co-equal branch of government is actively harming Oregonians,” Girod continued. “The Democrats are aiding and abetting the abuse against working Oregonians because it gives them more power. No one-party, no one person should have this much power. Republicans are ready to reestablish principles of checks and balances and uphold values of transparency in the legislative process to protect lives and livelihoods.”

“The Governor’s emergency powers kept kids locked out of the classroom for over a year,” Girod added. “They have led to countless Oregonians losing their livelihoods. Legislative Democrats have shown no courage to stand against the Governor’s overreach. They have failed to stand up for working families.”

“Democrats will tell you they are the party of the working class, but when given the opportunity, they have refused to stand up for their livelihoods. Republicans are standing shoulder to shoulder with working Oregonians,” Girod said.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-04-29 12:01:35Last Update: 2021-04-29 16:17:31

Teases re-opening in June

Governor Kate Brown has again extended her declaration of a state of emergency for COVID-19 for 60 days, until June 28, 2021, unless earlier rescinded or extended.

The declaration is the legal underpinning for the Governor’s COVID-19 executive orders and the Oregon Health Authority’s health and safety guidance.. Extending the state of emergency also helps ensure Oregon is able to fully utilize available federal COVID-19 relief and assistance.

The Governor issued the following statement:

“We are in the middle of the fourth surge of COVID-19 in Oregon, driven by more contagious variants of the disease. We must stop hospitalizations from spiking, so we can save lives, help our nurses and doctors weather this surge, and ensure no Oregonian is denied vital health care. Tomorrow, 15 counties are moving to the Extreme Risk Level, with nine more in High Risk. Hospitalizations nearly doubled in the last two weeks, to well over 300.

“At this time last year, there was so much we did not know about how to stop the spread of this deadly disease. Now, more than a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, we just have to hold on for a few weeks longer."

“I intend to fully reopen our economy by the end of June, and the day is approaching when my emergency orders can eventually be lifted. How quickly we get there is up to each and every one of us doing our part. Over 1.7 million Oregonians have received at least one dose of vaccine, and over 1.2 million are fully vaccinated against this deadly disease.

"Vaccinations are the best way to protect yourself, your friends, and your loved ones. They are also the quickest path toward lifting restrictions.

“Today, I am lifting Oregon’s executive order for price gouging related to the pandemic, because the days of hand sanitizer and, yes, toilet paper scarcity are far behind us. In the weeks to come, as the number of fully vaccinated Oregonians continues to grow, we will be able to lift the emergency orders and state regulations that have kept us safe for the past year.”

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-04-29 10:18:42Last Update: 2021-04-29 10:39:19

State lockdowns are not working

Oregon State legislator Representative Vikki Breese-Iverson (R-Prineville) has issued a statement publicly advocating for ending the excessive and restrictive government mandated lock-downs that have plagued Oregon now for more than a year.

The statement reads as follows:

The data is becoming clearer regarding the effectiveness of lockdowns and other government-imposed responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Lockdowns are not helping reduce case counts or hospitalizations. Governor Brown’s actions are contributing to the host of negative consequences that result from lockdowns of our society, including, poor and declining mental health; suicide ideation (up 25% in 18-24-year olds); economic ruin for families and small businesses; kids being significantly set back in their education; and many students missing a pivotal part of growing up by not being able to participate in sports and other extracurricular activities.

My office received an email this week from a constituent who explained her son would not be able to compete in his high school track meet, nor take his senior class picture, because he was supposedly ‘exposed’ to COVID though he repeatedly denied being in contact with the original case. In other situations, busloads of kids are being quarantined because they have merely been on the same bus as a positive case, regardless of contact. In more dire circumstances, children have been deprived of the social interaction they need, hot meals, and the teachers and other adults who act as mentors.

My constituents have been drained physically, financially, and morally as a result of the lockdowns. Some have sold everything to make it by because they lost their jobs. Others are just now receiving their Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits after more than a year of waiting. This is heartbreaking and unacceptable.

The Oregon Health Authority and Governor Brown say we need to reinstitute lockdowns to prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed. That might make sense - if there were evidence that lockdowns worked. The truth is, I am hard-pressed to find a correlation between state management and success in slowing or flattening case rates – and so are researchers. We can see evidence of this failure both here and in other states.

In January, Newsweek reported a peer-reviewed study published in the European Journal of Clinical Investigation which analyzed coronavirus case growth in 10 countries in early 2020. “The researchers used a mathematical model to compare countries that did and did not enact more restrictive lockdown orders, and determined that there was ‘no clear, significant beneficial effect of [more restrictive measures] on case growth in any country’.”

Dr. Tom Woods, a senior fellow at the Mises Institute, added to this point when he compared Los Angeles to Sweden:

“The graph that follows may seem a trifle unfair – aren’t Sweden and Los Angeles quite different from each other? Well, sure. But if we were truly facing a catastrophic problem that could be mitigated only by lockdowns, social distancing, and masks, shouldn’t there still be a major difference between relatively laissez-faire Sweden and heavily locked-down Los Angeles? Shouldn’t the difference in results between two places with such different policies absolutely overwhelm whatever other differences exist between them, such that the superiority of the Los Angeles approach should come through clearly in the chart? And yet...”

In Oregon, we are seeing a spike in cases, but not in deaths. Texas is mask-free and 100% open while steadily declining in both new cases and deaths. Other states - Mississippi, Georgia, and Arizona - are loosening their restrictions and declining, or static, in cases as vaccine rollout nears the halfway point.

These points lead us to three conclusions:

  • Lockdowns are ineffective at managing case rates.
  • People will take voluntary measures to ensure their health and the health of their loved ones.
  • Vaccines are effective in reducing deaths among our vulnerable populations.

We are nearing the 50% vaccination mark across the state. Most of our vulnerable populations, if they chose to, have received their shots. It is time to open Oregon. People will make decisions for their safety and the safety of their loved ones. It is not our job to do it for them. The vulnerable are vaccinated. People are ready to get back to living after a year of distress and hardship. It is time to stop the arbitrary-number-guidelines, OSHA at-will fines and permanent rulemaking for a temporary issue. My constituents, and I, have had enough.


Vikki Breese-Iverson

State Representative

House District 55

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-28 20:36:14Last Update: 2021-04-28 21:37:14

Will lower prices for Oregonians

A bill from Representative Bill Post (R-Keizer) to allow the sale of pseudoephedrine products without a prescription has now been approved by Oregon House legislators today. That bill is HB 2648.

This is the third time that Rep. Post has attempted to remove an unnecessary barrier for Oregonians to lower their health care costs when purchasing pseudoephedrine products. Products such as Sudafed will still be restricted to people who are at least 18 years of age with a valid ID under the proposal.

Rep. Post was joined by a bipartisan group of lawmakers who sponsored the proposal. The impact on health care consumers’ wallets could be significant. Currently, purchasing a pseudoephedrine product requires a visit to your doctor to receive a prescription, which comes with an expensive bill.

“With health care costs skyrocketing, this simple bill to reduce the cost of a common cold medicine should be a no-brainer,” said Rep. Post. “We shouldn’t be asking people to jump through very expensive hoops by visiting a doctor to obtain a prescription to common cold medicine, especially when Oregon is the ONLY state requiring a prescription.”

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-04-28 13:00:30Last Update: 2021-04-28 13:21:50

AOC and ORLA pen letter to the governor

County Commissioners from 27 of the 36 counties across Oregon have jointly signed a letter along with the Association of Oregon Counties (AOC) and the Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association (ORLA) demanding that Governor Brown remove restrictions that are killing Oregon restaurant and hospitality businesses.

The letter reads as follows:

This message is a unique one as it represents the first time county governments have formally written to your office in partnership with Oregon's hospitality industry. We write to you to ask for reconsideration of our approach to virus mitigation measures at this stage in the crisis.

The virus continues to take a grave toll on our local economies with restaurants representing one of the key cornerstones fueling connectivity, hope, and mental health for our residents. These are the places we break bread, share inspiration, and encourage one another and the COVID crisis has stripped us of these life essentials.

The environment in each county throughout Oregon is uniquely its own. And the experts of these regions live and breathe their successes and failures. The job of a Governor in a crisis like this is an unenviable one. We fully accept and understand the importance of hospital capacity including an assessment of available personnel in order to adequately meet the demands of any health emergency.

We have reached the point where the vast majority of Oregon's population most prone to serious illness has been successfully protected from the virus. And we must all admit a documented case today does not carry with it the same weight as a documented case in the Fall when so many of our fellow Oregonians lacked access to vaccine. The variants are indeed troublesome, and we share your concern for their spread. But shutting down our restaurants and further depriving Oregonians of their right to make calculated community engagement risks when the virus continues to spread elsewhere will not result in success.

The time has come to allow our communities the opportunity to move forward while embracing continued health and safety precautions. Our people understand the risks associated with COVID and our businesses have proven their ability to adhere to the highest expectations in safety, sanitation, and air quality. It is no coincidence Oregon has not seen one instance of a super spreader event tied to our hospitality industry.

We ask for your support in putting all effort and momentum into vaccinations. We have the safety guidelines and expectations clearly outlined for all industry sectors and have reached a point where those safety measures, alongside our work to achieve vaccination goals, can carry us through the other side of this pandemic without breaking our statewide hospital capacity.

You must know restrictions on specific types of businesses compared to others within our local communities is creating rifts and dividing people rather than bringing Oregonians together. We can flip the script by removing state mandated business restrictions on our communities while empowering our county health departments to uphold high expectations for ongoing health and safety measures as recommended by the CDC. We have reached our turning point and we thank you in advance for your consideration.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-27 19:38:59Last Update: 2021-04-27 22:12:41

Oregonians growing weary of excessive mandates

Oregon's Governor Kate Brown has again announced updates to county risk levels under the state’s public health framework.

With total hospitalizations above 300 people statewide, 15 counties will move to the Extreme Risk level effective Friday, April 30 through Thursday, May 6. In addition, nine counties will be in the High Risk level, four at Moderate Risk, and eight at Lower Risk.

Governor Kate Brown pleaded with Oregonian's who may be growing tired of the same rhetoric repeated so many times by the controversial governor, and gave the following statement:

“If we don’t act now, doctors, nurses, hospitals, and other health care providers in Oregon will be stretched to their limits treating cases of COVID-19,” said Governor Brown. “Today’s announcement will save lives and help stop COVID-19 hospitalizations from spiking. It will take all of us working together to bring this back under control.”

The following 15 counties have now been designated as Extreme Risk counties:
  • Baker
  • Clackamas
  • Columbia
  • Crook
  • Deschutes
  • Grant
  • Jackson
  • Josephine
  • Klamath
  • Lane
  • Linn
  • Marion
  • Multnomah
  • Polk
  • Wasco
Malheur County has now been moved from lower risk to Moderate Risk, and Hood River and Umatilla Counties were moved from Moderate Risk to High Risk by Governor Kate Brown. Benton, Clatsop, Coos, Jefferson, Lincoln, Washington, and Yamhill Counties will unfortunately remain in High Risk of Covid category.

“Our businesses allow people to gather in places with standardized safety measures. We shouldn’t shut them down", said House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby.) They are doing everything they can to reduce the spread of COVID-19 under existing rules."

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-04-27 18:11:30Last Update: 2021-04-27 19:38:59

New bill would give Oregon landmark a designated day

A new bill has passed the Oregon House which would designate May 22 as Crater Lake National Park Day to recognize a famous Oregon landmark and the deepest lake in the United States.

Chief sponsors Representative Vikki Breese-Iverson (R-Prineville) and Representative E. Werner Reschke (R-Klamath Falls) proposed HB 3162 to celebrate this natural resource and state treasure.

At 1,943 feet deep, Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States. It is also the clearest lake on the planet with clarity down to 143’. It boasts some of the purest water on the planet which is comprised entirely of snow and rainfall.

“Oregon’s natural environment is one of the greatest things about our state,” said Rep. Breese-Iverson. “It’s important to recognize our unique environments to not only celebrate our state’s natural beauty, but also the benefits they bring us through scenic tourism and getting more people outside to enjoy nature.”

“Crater Lake is Oregon’s only National Park, renowned for its deep blue water and the amazing 360-degree bowl that surrounds this majestic lake,” added Rep. Reschke. “Crater Lake National Park is truly a national treasure located here in Oregon, and we are fortunate to be able to enjoy it with a short day-trip. Crater Lake National Park Day recognizes this park as a defining landmark of Oregon.”

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-04-27 17:45:31Last Update: 2021-04-27 17:56:35

Mask mandates start to raise concerns

Earlier this year, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo was facing investigation over returning COVID-19 patients to nursing homes, leading to a high number of deaths. This should have sounded an alarm to all governors that they are accountable for consequences of their orders. For some reason this awareness may have bypassed Oregon's Governor Kate Brown.

Nearly a year ago, Governor Brown announced that face coverings were required statewide. Every news release since from the Governor or the Oregon Health Authority has repeatedly stated they are determining strict policy based on supposedly "the best science". Just like their “science,” Dr. Fauci has been very inconsistent on how, if and when COVID-19 is spread and if masks or vaccines help. Governor Brown may think she is playing on the safety side, but science doesn’t seem to support her.

Recently, when Oregon high school student Maggie Williams was on track to beat the school record running the 800-meter in a school track meet, she made national news because she collapsed just meters short of the finish line. Her coach immediately knew she wasn’t getting enough oxygen through her mask. Coach Dave Turnbull warned OHA a month prior of respiration dangers for athletes, which they are now taking serious. Not because their science changed, but to cover up their lack of science and embarrassment.

Did they not remember or take serious the two schoolboys in China that collapsed and suddenly died within a week of each other after they were forced to participate in gym class while wearing face masks? The National Institutes of Health has also cited a study that raises concerns. They say wearing face masks for any length of time and “inhaling high levels of CO2 may be life-threatening. Hypercapnia (carbon dioxide toxicity) can also cause headache, vertigo, double vision, inability to concentrate, tinnitus (hearing a ringing noise), seizures, or suffocation due to displacement of air.” There is a lot of evidence that most face-coverings are ineffective as protection against COVID. The toxic fumes trapped in your mask that you inhale can also cause permanent damage to your lungs. What liability does the state have for permanently impairing your child from toxic fumes?

The Oregon Health Authority said on Monday it revised the guidance on the use of masks during outdoor competition claiming medical evidence and evolving science.

"We are revising the current guidance on the use of masks outdoors during competition." The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) said in a statement. "The guidance will allow people to take off face coverings when competing in non-contact sports outdoors and maintaining at least 6 feet of distance from others and the other virus protective protocols."

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-04-27 10:51:12Last Update: 2021-04-27 12:01:48

School board elections just around the corner

The Albany Democrat-Herald paper had recently ran an article by Caitlyn M. May about politicization of school boards. The assertion of her point, is that politics are not to be a part of our education system. While this sounds altruistic, it is fantasy.

The Oregon Education Association is one of the top 5 largest financial contributors to Democrat Governor Kate Brown.

Caitlyn goes on but most surprisingly adds a statement from Kelsy Kretchmer assistant professor at OSU who brings up “Brown v. the Board of Education” and states “school boards filled with white, conservative, pro-segregation members” as if contemporaneous.

Let’s reflect on this history Professor Kelsy is flashing us back to; it was in fact the Republican Party (i.e. the party of Lincoln) that most often led the fight to combat racism in America, while Democrats dragged their feet. The U.S. Supreme Court’s unanimous, landmark ruling in the case of Brown v. Board of Education.

Consider the words of Chief Justice Earl Warren, a Republican appointed by a Republican president:

“Segregation of white and colored children in public schools has a detrimental effect upon the colored children. The impact is greater when it has the sanction of the law, for the policy of separating the races is usually interpreted as denoting the inferiority of the Negro group…Any language in contrary to this finding is rejected. We conclude that in the field of public education the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.”

In contrast, our current president Joe Biden once said “Unless we do something about this, my children are going to grow up in a jungle, the jungle being a racial jungle with tensions having built so high that it is going to explode at some point. We have got to make some move on this.", when speaking during a congressional hearing related to anti-busing legislation.

Even recently, Vice President Kamala Harris called out Biden on his opposition of busing during the presidential primary. This had no affect on her political aspirations in the end.

By definition, politics are the activities associated with governance.

When tax funded public education remains a function of government it will remain politicized.

--Benjamin Roche

Post Date: 2021-04-26 21:53:54Last Update: 2021-04-26 22:15:13

Enjoy products now while you can afford them

Oregon agricultural products will soon see a necessary price increase to accommodate additional government mandates that are about to be passed in the Oregon State Legislature.

HB 2358 has been introduced by Representative Salinas (D-Clackamas), Representative Holvey (D-Eugene), Representative Ruiz (D-Portland), and Senator Frederick (D-Portland). It proposes to eliminate the agricultural exemption for payment of overtime to agricultural workers.

The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, 29 U.S.C. § 203 (FLSA), is the United States labor law that created the right to minimum wage, and time-and-a-half overtime pay when people work over forty hours a week. Since it's passage it has been amended several times to increase the actual minimum wage and to encompasses specific job classes into the Act, but the inclusion of agricultural workers has never been incorporated into federal changes. Six states currently have some form of requirements to pay agricultural worker’s overtime; California, Minnesota, Hawaii, Washington, Maryland, and New York. Each of them varies slightly in how they apply. Oregon looks to be the next to join the list.

During testimony on the bill, Representative Bobby Levy (R–Echo), herself a rancher, said “feeding Oregon is a thankless job. The biggest obstacle to working in the ag industry is that the cost to produce our commodities is often more than we get paid for doing it”. She also expressed concerns for the other bills being entertained this session that will continue to stack costs on agricultural businesses.

Mike Omeg, a 5th generation cherry farmer from The Dallas explained to the committee how migrant workers here on the H2A visa program are required to be paid based on Federal H2A rates, and in Oregon that is $16.34. The rate is set to ensure that a US citizen ag worker is not displaced by a guest worker. He added that “farmers in our current structure set our wages to meet the current laws not because we are racist.” He and others also shared that consumers set the prices for agricultural crops and consumers will simply buy imported produce and ag commodities from other states or countries. In addition, one organic grower shared that because they use fewer chemicals in their farming practices and have gone to great lengths to reduce the use of fossil fuel vehicles, they will have no other choice than to abandon some of those practices to account for the increased labor costs.

Supporter of the bill, Oregon Climate & Agriculture Network (OrCAN) submitted testimony citing a study done by the National Agricultural Workers Survey (NAWS). It reported that individual farm workers earn $15,000 to $17,499 a year. However, with Oregon’s current minimum wage rate at $12.00 and $12.75 in agricultural communities, that would mean that ag employees are working well under 40 hours per week. A 40-hour work week at current minimum wage is ~$25,740. In that same report, it was noted that only 51% of the respondents had authorization to work legally in the US.

In other testimony, supporters of the legislation pointed out that “Farm labor workers receive no overtime and/or holiday pay”. Holiday pay is not mandated on any small or large employer in the state. Many employers use this as an incentive to attract labor. They also noted that farm workers receive no health benefits. However, any employer in the state with less than 50 employees is not required to provide healthcare coverage to their employees. Many family farmers themselves do not have health insurance because to acquire it on the exchange costs them several thousand dollars and they just can’t afford it. Finally, they pointed out that farm labor does not receive an employer 401K. Again, this benefit is not specific to the ag industry. Many small, medium and large size employers do not offer 401Ks or other retirement plans to their employees.

After two days of testimony and hundreds of letters submitted to the committee in opposition, they chose to move it to the Legislative Rules Committee on a party line vote. They ignored a proposed amendment to phase in the overtime regulation, and one to increase the 40-hour threshold to 45. They also ignored an offer from Representative Post (R–Keizer) to host a work-group to see what could be worked out between now and next session. He said he “has many farmers in his district and they have expressed to him their concerns, and those are based in economics not racism, and rushing into this decision without all parties at the table to first discuss it is not good policy”.

During the vote, however, Representative Bynum (D-Clackamas) who owns and operates four McDonald’s Restaurants in the Portland metro area stated that “It’s a human rights issue and to be quite honest as we listened to testimony, the optics are really bad, the optics are horrible, and the history of the whole conversation is quite tormenting”.

The bill currently sits in the State Legislative House Rules Committee where it can be heard again at anytime before the end of session.

--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-04-26 16:08:06Last Update: 2021-04-26 18:10:21

Sixth District to be added

The desire has been emphasized for the need for a fair redistricting process that avoids political gerrymandering in Oregon and it seems now that will be addressed.

Oregon has now been awarded a sixth congressional district for representation in the nation's capitol of Washington D.C. after preliminary 2020 census data has been considered.

House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby) has responded to confirmation that Oregon will have a sixth congressional district. The news highlights the importance of equal representation on the State Legislature's House Redistricting Committee which currently has three Republicans and three Democrats.

“Now that we have equal representation on the redistricting committee, our legislative and congressional districts will be drawn in a way that avoids political gerrymandering,” said Leader Drazan. “Our current maps have favored one political party over another for the past 20 years, but Oregonians can be confident that this sixth congressional district will be drawn according to the rules to give people fair representation.”

Some analysts have proposed that the sixth district may end up being a Republican held seat, compared to the current 4 congressional seats held by Democrats, and the one held by Republican Cliff Bentz.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-04-26 12:42:25Last Update: 2021-04-26 13:30:23

No public access is frustrating for many

Town Halls are an important way for elected officials to interact and update those they represent in Salem, about the current legislative session. In previous years these have typically been hosted informally at coffee shops, or bookstores face to face. Yet, as political tensions increase, along with concerns over safety and COVID-19, more meetings are being hosted virtually, during a time when Oregonians are locked out of the Capitol, and feeling not only unheard, but silenced. For a select few, the Town Hall process has become an open space to air their grievances.

On Wednesday, April 21, 2021, Senator Lynn P. Findley (R-Vale), Representative Daniel Bonham (R-The Dalles), and Representative Mark Ownens (R-Crane) hosted a joint Town Hall to speak to constituents and answer questions about the current 2021 Legislative Session. Unfortunately, what followed was something akin to a digital mob with pitchforks and torches. The zoom chat box exploded into expletives, and decorum was soon lost amongst attendees.

While many bills are on the table, only one seemed to be the topic of heated debate: SB554, "The Gun Bill." At the center of constituent ire was the topic of walking out, a process whereby enough lawmakers deny quorum requirements, in order to prevent a vote on one or more bills. This legal procedure move has been used successfully in past years by both parties, usually as a last resort. However, dynamics are very different this session, and it doesn't appear a walk out is possible for Republicans, making it a very rough and unpredictable year for multiple issue-based voter blocks who hold many concerns. Northwest Observer reported on the political landscape and the threats made by the majority party, back in December.

Prior to SB554 being read on the Senate Floor, an open letter was sent to Republican Senators, Lynn Findley included, from 27 bipartisan, and nonpartisan Oregon grassroots organizations, pleading with them to please walk out and offering support to stop a barrage of radical legislative concepts this session. The letter didn't specifically address SB554, but certainly got the point across that Oregonians did not feel comfortable handing over any more constitutionally guaranteed rights.

Concurrently, yet unconnected, a recall effort against Senator Fred Girod (R-Stayton), was announced. The petitioner announced the recall would begin, unless Girord were to lead the Republican Caucus in a walk out, to specifically stop SB554.

Suffice to say, Republican lawmakers, as the underdog and minority party, are pretty used to threats and intimidation. It's almost a hazard of the job. That being said, there are two sayings in politics that seem important to share here; "Politics are all about Relationships", and "Politics belong to those who show up".

Oregon Republicans are in an almost impossible situation, outnumbered, and working over time to leverage, whatever possible, in order to find helpful and meaningful ways to honor the voice of the people. Many are speaking out and asking those who feel voiceless in the legislative process, to start getting involved in the next round of elections. It's an unfortunate reality, but the party in charge gets to make all the rules, and if people aren't happy with who's in charge, now is the time to get active and help change the power structure.

Representative Daniel Bonham graciously gave the Northwest Observer some time after the chaotic Town Hall, and had some encouraging words to explain the current situation, and what's required going forward, "I think there are unlimited ways to get involved - but the most effective ways require relationships. Which takes time and energy - it’s an investment."

The Investment begins with elections, and at the local county level. Most people are unaware that once session begins the agenda is already set, as have committee assignments and which bills are a priority to pass. Due to the supermajority status of the Democratic party, the Speaker of the House Tina Kotek, and the Senate President Peter Courtney have already instructed their caucuses how to vote on each bill. That doesn't mean votes are set in stone, many lawmakers still vote their conscience or according to what's best for their district. This is why relationships are important to create and maintain.

If you're finding yourself frustrated this session, consider becoming a Precinct Committee Person in your local county party. Get plugged into groups that support your issue, and learn who's running for office. Campaigns provide critical networking opportunities, and a free education on the legislative process. Most importantly, each office has a separate and unique function, or scope of authority, learning the differences will help cut down on frustration and focus energy into the right direction for change.

The legislative session is only five months long, however, it's important to get involved on budget and steering committees, long before a bill comes before the legislative assembly.

Civic duty belongs to everyone, be the change you're demanding of others.

--Breeauna Sagdal

Post Date: 2021-04-25 19:37:41Last Update: 2021-04-25 23:09:09

The leadership can’t have it both ways

The legislative session is now in the second half and bills are being heard in the second house if not referred to Ways and Means, with a few trailers. Those trailers are in committees that are exempt from deadline rules.

The General Government committees have their hands full trying to keep their story straight on use of the internet – it’s good enough for legislative hearings, but lacks for virtual learning and the underserved.

Senator Dallas Heard (R-Polk) spoiled a unanimous yes vote on the House floor. His reasoning is, “The Constitution of the State of Oregon clearly states that ‘The deliberations of each house, of committees of each house or joint committees and of committees of the whole, shall be open...’ This provision was put in place to ensure accountability and transparency to the people of the state that their Legislature was working in their best interest. The virtual format that is being used does not provide for an honest, open, and transparent discussion on the matters of this state. We are seeing just how discriminatory these virtual sessions can be! The Majority Party has created a system that if you cannot afford internet, you cannot be a part of the discussions. This “Pay to Play” approach is NOT the Oregon way. Between this and the heartbreaking examples of the elder and economically depressed members in our society struggling and getting frustrated over their challenges navigating this virtual environment, it cannot honestly be said that we are doing the peoples work. Additionally, the Governors restrictions and closure of the state have caused traditionally public places that would provide internet and support to said individuals be inaccessible.”

While the leadership tries to justify the virtual testimony process is open to all, the State Treasure, Tobias Read, said: “A recent study of the Oregon Broadband Advisory Council found that nearly 26% of Oregon’s urban households are considered “underserved.” The study also revealed dismal numbers with respect to low-cost access to broadband in tribal lands. In fact, in five of nine of our tribal communities, fewer than 30% of residents have access to low-cost broadband, and in two of the five, no residents have such access… Clearly these numbers are unacceptable, in light of widespread usage of broadband across our economy and culture.”

KGW 8 reports that “Rebecca Gibbons, the broadband and digital inclusion manager for the City of Portland, said before the pandemic, at least 65,000 families didn’t have internet connection in their homes. Because of the hardships associated with the pandemic, that number is expected to have grown.”

Broadbandnow reports: “Oregon hovers in the middle ground in terms of internet connectivity as the 34th most well-connected state nationwide… A wired internet connection capable of 25 Mbps speeds is not available to 301,000 people in Oregon.”

The leadership can’t have it both ways and remain credible. Internet or not, Senator Heard makes his point, “The ‘People’s Work’ should be considered an essential service and there for accessible in person. Because the people are still being denied their constitutional right to participate and lobby their legislature in an open manner, I cannot legitimize this session with a yes vote no matter the merit of the bill, and therefore had to vote no.”

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-04-25 09:53:15Last Update: 2021-04-25 10:07:15

Event was advertised as a “demonstration“

Only two people were arrested following a violent march in the Portland Northwest District Neighborhood. The march, which was advertised, became a riot when participants began blocking streets, breaking windows, applying graffiti, and pushed their way into a restaurant.

The event, which was billed on social media as an "autonomous demonstration," began in Couch Park at about 9:00p.m. with about 75 people mostly dressed in all black, or "bloc" attire designed to make it difficult for police to identify lawbreakers.

The group began marching in the streets about 9:15p.m., and within 15 minutes reports of broken windows and graffiti came in.

Some members of the group forced their way into a tavern/restaurant in the 2200 block of Northwest Hoyt Street.

A resident who was taking video of the march had a rock thrown through his window. Graffiti was applied on a Tri-Met bus shelter and a Moroccan restaurant at Northwest 21st Avenue and Northwest Northrup Street.

The group was advised via loudspeaker and Twitter that the behavior of the crowd constituted a riot and they were advised to leave to the north.

Few if any of them complied. The group eventually wandered back into Couch Park and dispersed.

Officers arrested two people and booked in them into the Multnomah County Detention Center:
  • Jacob A. Camello, 29, of Portland -Criminal Mischief in the First Degree (2 counts)
  • Crystal M. Miranda, 29, of Portland -Criminal Mischief in the First Degree
Camello was in possession of items used to cause criminal mischief.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-04-24 16:22:42Last Update: 2021-04-25 10:08:13

More drama is coming

SB 554 had a hearing today and is expected to be amended with the -A20 amendments which essentially combines the original version of SB 554 which allows local jurisdictions to create "gun free" zones, with regard to persons licensed to carry concealed in their public buildings and requires that they post this at all entrances to the building. It makes the Capitol and commercial airports gun free zones.
  • The "building" part of the bill no longer includes state, county and municipal buildings. It only includes schools, community colleges, public universities, and the Capitol.
  • The felony part was changed to a misdemeanor.
  • You don't commit a crime by driving by a building.
  • The HB 2510 part of the bill is pretty much intact, which contains some pretty harsh firearm storage policies.
The bill in it's current form is a compromise between the original bill, introduced by Senator Ginny Burdick (D-Portland) and the gun storage bill introduced on the House side by Representatives Rachel Prusak (D-West Linn), Janeen Sollman (D-Hillsboro), Lisa Reynolds (D-Portland), and Dacia Grayber (D-Portland). Oh, and Senator Burdick, who never met a gun bill she didn't like. Since the bill was on the House side, the Speaker took the opportunity to water down the CHL restrictions and to leave the gun storage regulations intact.

It's in no way certain that this is the final form of the bill. It's no secret that Speaker Kotek is not liked on the Senate side, and quite often a bill will get minor changes in the second chamber, and go back for a concurrence vote, which is often just a formality. Upset Senators -- possibly including Senator Burdick -- may use the trip back to the Senate for concurrence to continue the conversation.

The bill passed out of the House Committee on Rules on a 4-3 party-line vote. It now goes to the floor of the House where it is expected to pass.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-24 16:05:10Last Update: 2021-04-24 16:21:14

Statewide ban by 2028

There is currently a proposal in the Oregon State Legislature sponsored by Oregon Democrat Karin Power (D-Portland) in HB 3305 which effectively would ban diesel fuel for automobiles entirely in the state of Oregon by the year 2028, and by 2024 in the Portland metro area.

The bill states that on or after the following dates, a non-retail dealer or retail dealer may not sell or offer for sale petroleum diesel to a consumer for use in a motor-vehicle:
  • January 1, 2024, if the non-retail dealer is located in Clackamas, Washington or Multnomah County
  • January 1, 2027, if the non-retail dealer is located anywhere in this state.
  • January 1, 2025, if the retail dealer is located in Clackamas, Washington or Multnomah County
  • January 1, 2028, if the retail dealer is located anywhere in this state
It is also stated in the bill that the State Department of Agriculture may adopt rules as necessary to implement the law.

Observers have noted a potential agenda to give other fuels a government aided chance on the market by manipulating the availability of clean diesel for highway automobile use, the product currently being readily available and used, particularly in rural communities.

Those reliant on the popular fuel may soon be forced to acquire additional vehicular assets to accommodate the sudden change in law.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-04-23 13:50:10Last Update: 2021-04-24 06:16:15

More than 9 percent increase over last year

Oregon State wildlife biologists counted 173 wolves in Oregon this past winter, a 9.5 percent increase over last year’s count of 158 according to the latest Oregon Wolf Conservation and Management 2020 Annual Report.

This annual count is based on verified wolf evidence (like visual observations, tracks, and remote camera photographs) and is considered the minimum known wolf count, not an estimate of how many wolves are in Oregon.

The actual number of wolves in Oregon is likely higher, as not all individuals present in the state are located during the winter count.

A total of 22 packs were documented during the count.

Of those packs, 17 reproduced and had at least two adults and two pups that survived through the end of 2020, making them “breeding pairs.” Seven other groups of 2-3 wolves were also identified.

While no new packs formed in western Oregon, the total number of wolves in the region increased by 29 percent (from 17 to 22 wolves) over the 2019 count. Eight collared wolves dispersed from their packs with four dispersing to other locations in Oregon, two to Idaho, one to California, and one wolf left California and became resident in Oregon.

A total of 21 wolves were captured and radio-collared during 2020, up from 14 last year.

Nine wolf mortalities were documented during 2020, including two young wolves that died from natural causes (a Wenaha pup and Indigo yearling).

Seven wolf mortalities were human caused. One wolf was killed when hit by a vehicle on I-84, another was apparently killed when hit by a boat while swimming across the Snake River.

One was taken lawfully under the “caught in the act” rule which allows livestock producers to shoot a wolf found in the act of biting, wounding, killing or chasing livestock. (As of January 4, 2021 “caught in the act” is legal statewide but rules differ for East and West Zones which are in different phases of wolf management.)

Four wolves were killed illegally in 2020. Three deaths are still under investigation, and the Oregon State Police is actively seeking more information on those cases. The breeding male of the Ruckel Ridge Pack was shot in Umatilla County in May. The breeding male of the Cornucopia Pack was shot in September in Baker County. A subadult wolf, believed to be from the Pine Creek Pack, was shot in October in Baker County. Rewards ranging from $2,500 to $15,000 have been offered for information leading to a conviction.

Finally, a livestock owner shot a wolf mistaken for a coyote. The owner was warned by Oregon State Police after self-reporting the incident to OSP.

ODFW did not lethally control any wolves in response to chronic depredation in 2020.

Confirmed depredation events increased 94 percent in 2020 from 2019. The majority of the depredation (52 percent) was attributed to the Rogue Pack, which depredated 16 times in 2020.

In the Rogue Pack area, ODFW and partners U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and USDA Wildlife Services worked extensively to try to limit depredation, including a coordinated nighttime patrol in Klamath County to haze wolves out of livestock pastures in the northern Wood River Valley where depredation was concentrated. Agency staff hazed all night on 99 nights between July 30-Nov. 25. This overnight agency presence leveraged real time information about wolf locations derived from howling, radio-telemetry, cattle disturbance, and visual observation through night-vision thermal imaging devices in an attempt to deter wolves. The hazing pushed the wolves back into the forest on some nights, but other nights they depredated.

“The personnel costs of this collaboration with USFWS, WS and the Department was significant during the four months,” said Roblyn Brown ODFW Wolf Coordinator. “We appreciate the work of our partners and all livestock producers.”

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-04-22 21:00:33Last Update: 2021-04-22 21:39:16

The OHA and CDC are investigating

Oregon Health Authority has been informed that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is investigating the death of an Oregon woman following immunization with Johnson and Johnson’s COVID-19 vaccine.

Information about the death has been sent to the CDC through the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System, the national reporting system used to collect reports of adverse events after vaccination.

OHA was notified of the potential adverse event on April 20, two days after the CDC was notified on April 18.

The Oregon resident, a woman in her 50s, received a dose of the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine before the pause order on its use was issued.

Until the investigation is complete, it cannot be concluded whether her death is related to the vaccine.

She developed a serious blood clot within two weeks following vaccination. Prior to the issuance of the pause, cases of this serious blood clot had been identified among six women around the country who received the vaccine.

Health care providers are required to report certain adverse events after COVID-19 vaccines, in accordance with the Emergency Use Authorization for COVID-19 vaccines. These include serious adverse events, such as death, any life-threatening event and inpatient hospitalization.

More than 87,000 doses of the Johnson and Johnson COVID-19 vaccine having been administered at locations throughout Oregon.

The case in Oregon will add to the evidence of potential risk associated with Johnson and Johnson vaccine. The Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices will review the data accumulated to date and weigh the risks and benefits of the vaccine. These considerations will inform the ACIP’s recommendations regarding use of the vaccine going forward.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-04-22 16:46:04Last Update: 2021-04-22 18:37:41

The new initiative petition is similar to IP 57, which failed to make the ballot

People Not Politicians filed Initiative Petition 16 for the November 2022 General Election ballot to reform Oregon’s redistricting process through the creation of an independent citizens’ redistricting commission. If the effort is successful in gathering 149,360 signatures, it will appear on the 2022 ballot, and will toss out whatever the legislative process produces in favor of new maps drawn by the commission.

“An overwhelming majority of Oregonians support the creation of an Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission to draw Oregon’s state and congressional maps and put people, not politicians, in charge of this process,” said Norman Turrill, chair of People Not Politicians and Chief Petitioner of the new initiative petition. “If the legislature fails to act this session, we are prepared with an initiative petition to bring forth the fair and transparent reform Oregonians want for our state.”

At its simplest, IP 16 would introduce mid-decade redistricting reform to change the way Oregon’s voting districts are drawn by creating an independent citizen’s redistricting commission comprised of Oregon voters, rather than politicians. The commission process would begin immediately following the 2022 general election for a complete redistricting of the state legislative and congressional districts in time for elections in 2024.

The new initiative petition is similar to IP 57 filed by People Not Politicians for the November 2020 ballot. That effort was nearly successful after a federal judge last year found the coalition exercised “reasonable diligence” in attempting to qualify for the ballot with over 64,000 signatures in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum appealed, and the U.S. Supreme Court stayed the district court decision. This court case is continuing in the federal district court.

In 2001, with the legislature under Republican control, a walkout was staged by Democrats to prevent a legislative redistricting plan and the task fell to Democrat Secretary of State Bill Bradbury to essentially produce the maps that we have today.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-22 11:53:34Last Update: 2021-04-22 10:37:01

Observers have noted the disparity in treatment

In a letter to Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) State Representative Vikki Breese-Iverson (R-Prineville) has asked that Representative Brad Witt (D-Clatskanie) be suspended from all committees he sits on with her. She has identified herself as the victim in this case.

"During the Conduct Committee’s hearing on Friday, the independent investigator recommended Representative Witt be removed as Chair from the House Ag and Natural Resource Committee and that a no contact order be issued. I felt betrayed when arguments were made to oppose the recommendation to remove Representative Witt as Chair. In thinking of the interactions that would be required of us, I knew the restrictions would not be enough to ensure my safety from his inappropriate advances. I am thankful for the action that was announced today to correct that decision and appoint a new Chair for the time being."

During the preliminary hearing on the case in the House Committee on Conduct, State Representative Tawna Sanchez (D-Portland) said that she saw the removal of Representative Witt from his Chair seemed punitive, "Were we not in pandemic mode and not online, I might think differently of it, but we are. We are online for all these meetings. I can appreciate that removing someone from their Chairship does feel a little bit punitive." Representative Witt was the Chair of the House Committee On Agriculture and Natural Resources, but he has lately been removed by the Speaker. He still sits on the committee.

Representative Breese-Iverson sees it differently. In her letter, she says,

"It will be impossible to enforce a no contact order while we serve on the same committees. Representative Tawna Sanchez argued during the hearing that because committees are virtual, it should not be a problem for a victim to interact with their harasser. I strongly disagree. A hostile work environment is made worse in a virtual world. To fully comply with the “no contact” order of the Conduct Committee, you must immediately temporarily remove him from all committees that we serve on together."

The work done by the House Committee On Agriculture and Natural Resources is critical to the advancement of the Democrat agenda, and Representative Witt's situation presents a challenge for the advancement of legislation, especially in light of the House closure

Observers have noted the disparity in treatment between the Witt case and the cases of Representatives Hernandez and Nearman who are seen as adversaries to the Speaker.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-22 10:25:39Last Update: 2021-04-20 13:55:50

“Ah, the usual stench of discriminatory inclusion of wealth spreading to societal have-nots”

After a hearing held a month ago, a work session is now scheduled on Representative Rob Nosse’s bill, HB 2972. It calls for a study on how property values influence and constrains tax assessments that are creating shortfalls. As with most studies, a solution is on the table for a two-rate taxation system that shifts taxation towards land and taxes structures separately. The buzz word for this session comes into play -- a more equitable taxation, economic justice, affordable housing and ecological sustainability that skirts around the constitution and Measure 5 and 50 -- property tax regulations passed in the 90s.

The theory is that vacant lots remain vacant because of their low property tax and if land were taxed separately, the land tax could be increased to encourage development. Whether taxed separately or together, when adding a structure, the tax will increase. Maybe not as much under the two-tax rate system because it’s already high, but they will both end at the same amount unless the intent is to increase property land taxes more than the reduction on structures, which appears to be the intent.

Modeled after the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy in China, land value increments created by regulatory changes, population growth and economic development should belong to the public. Since China’s higher levels of government provide minimal resources, land leasing fees became the main source of local and urbanization revenue. The principle as described for the proposed two-rate taxation system goes to what is in the public interest should be taxed less and what is not desirable should be taxed more.

It is understandable that government looks for stability and want to prevent a roller-coaster economy. Landowners also experience the same economic impact. Economic instability due to poor policy management can't be fixed by aggressive property taxation.

The actual reason for the introduction HB 2972 is found in the bill:

(2) “(c) An examination of comparative economic incentive effects on classes of land use in selected local urban and rural jurisdictions. (d) An examination of comparative economic incentive effects on property in selected jurisdictions currently utilizing rural enterprise zone tax incentives. (e) An evaluation of tax burden relief measures that might accompany land value taxation, including a homestead exemption and property tax deferral for homeowners who are financially overburdened."

One testimony creatively described it like this: “Ah, the usual stench of discriminatory inclusion of wealth spreading to societal "have-nots," has wafted once again, into the nostrils of those who have, justly and honorably accumulated wealth by; working hard, saving and investing money, providing services and or inventions to advance civilization, must now experience; forcible confiscation of their wealth, justly and honorably accumulated, to be shared with the huddled masses; for whatever reason, have yet to become prosperous on their own volition and or initiative.”

Since the passage of voter approved Measures 5 and 50, the Oregon property tax system has been massaged and manipulated by law makers until it has eroded local control and undermined the ability of cities to maintain a healthy mix of revenues. Will a progressive two-rate tax system benefit counties or the state?

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-04-22 07:50:37Last Update: 2021-04-22 07:51:41

Staff and commissioners pressed on, despite losses

Rogue Commissioners and Yamhill County Staff spent many years and millions of dollars attempting to build a bike path on an abandoned rail line.

The latest in the saga of the illegal Yamhelas-Westsider Trail involves the public disclosure of 37 emails between various County staff, Commissioner Casey Kulla, Oregon Department of Transportation officials, watchdog Oregon Department of Justice officials, several leaders of Friends of the Yamhelas-Westsider Trail, plus former Commissioners Primozich and Olson. The public records requested emails hit the inbox of Yamhill County Commissioners late Wednesday, April 21st. The emails are all very damning, if not incriminating.

To review, the project was declared illegal with four remands by the Land Use Board of Appeals. Later, LUBA issued a Stay of Construction and finally awarded attorney’s fees to the plaintiff costing the culpable County over $47,000. The Department of Justice issued a warning against improper actions, but they were ignored. County Counsel Todd Sadlo, loser every time he paraded before LUBA, took on the role of dragging out the process while others plotted various end runs. Commissioner Kulla played the role of propaganda minister making up stories for hundreds of cycling enthusiasts, KOIN television reporter Hannah Lambert, the local paper, County staff, ODOT and the Chehalem Parks and Recreation Department. He was aided in fabricating stories by grants coordinator Carrie Martin. Ms. Martin put a happy face on failures to perform so that grantor ODOT would relax their demands and indulge County incompetence. She reworked the numbers when necessary to derail actions detrimental to the conspirators cause.

ODOT, for their part was very lenient, only becoming more insistent after millions had been spent outside the scope of the grants. The County Administrator, Ken Huffer, acted as cheerleader encouraging his staff’s endeavors. Citizen action was most enthusiastic from Phil Higgins, Wayne Weibke and Steve Wick all backed by the ever-present wallet of Ken Wright. Realizing they were likely doomed, Commissioner Kulla plotted a desperate attempt to acquire the cycling Trailhead property.

That involved an attack on the family business of Steve Belt, a long-time respected businessman in the area. Action by Commissioner Lindsay Berschauer put a necessary pause to those shenanigans. But the staff followed Kulla’s lead unquestioningly, revealing the fatal weakness that exists in staff leadership. Emails between staff members show they truly believe their talking points and rationalize the legal ruling against them as, well, as illegal.

An investigation of staff by disaffected parties outside of Yamhill County government is needed.

--Tom Hammer

Post Date: 2021-04-21 18:23:15Last Update: 2021-04-22 10:07:33

Oregon State Bar refuses to investigate -- or protect the public

In March 2020, two complaints were filed with the Oregon State Bar’s Unlicensed Practice of Law Committee alleging outrageous criminal conduct by a pair of inmates in the custody of the Oregon Department of Corrections. The two unrelated complaints alleged that the inmates were performing legal work, without a license, and in violation of Oregon law, punishable by fine or imprisonment under ORS 9.990.

Each of the two complaints was submitted by a government official with direct knowledge of the situation. The disturbing details of the complaints—and the credibility of the officials who filed them -- did not stop the Oregon State Bar from refusing to do even a basic investigation, and summarily dismissing the complaints.

The first complaint was against inmate Robert Jerome Byers, a violent rapist who injected his victim with methamphetamine and who will die in jail before his release date in 2083. The complaint alleges that Byers assisted other inmates “with their [legal] filings, specifically small claims, for a fee.” This is the kind of standard jailhouse lawyering that commonly happens in every prison.

But alarmingly, Byers had graduated by last March to far more predatory behavior: According to the complaint, Byer sought “to establish himself as the legal guardian of other inmates” by claiming that he had witnessed “abuse of individuals” that Byers had himself decided were “vulnerable or disabled.” These guardianships seem to have been designed by Byers to gain control over his fellow inmates’ prison funds.

The complaint against Byers was submitted by Morrow and Umatilla County Circuit Court Trial Court Administrator Roy Blaine, who brought it to the Bar’s attention after receiving a handwritten letter from Byers requesting copies of court forms for guardianships and “restraining orders” to be imposed upon “vulnerable or disabled” people. “I felt, based on paperwork received in several cases, that all were prepared by Mr. Byers’” Mr. Blaine told me. “[The Bar] did not feel it warranted further action.”

But most would agree with Mr. Blaine: that a violent rapist like Robert Jerome Byers, convicted for drugging his victim into submission, should not be permitted to do legal work for fellow inmates, particularly by becoming the legal guardian of vulnerable people and gaining access to their prison funds.

The Oregon State Bar, however, disagreed. Their summary dismissal of Mr. Blaine’s complaint, without conducting any investigation whatsoever, was memorialized by letter from the Bar’s Deputy General Counsel, Nik Chourey, thanking Mr. Blaine for his “interest in Oregon consumer protection.”

The second of the two egregious Unlicensed Practice of Law complaints the Bar ignored was against Joshua Vincent Walsh, a convicted burglar eligible for release from the Oregon State Penitentiary as early as March, 2022. The complaint, filed by Oregon Department of Justice Investigator Debra Seeck, alleges that Walsh may have accepted payment from other inmates for his help in filing up to 31 copies of his own lawsuit—one for which he received $27,000 in state settlement funds.

Ms. Seeck stated, that as of March 2020, two of the 31 clones of Walsh’s lawsuit that had been filed in the courts—under the names of inmates Chris Hoffman and Blake Humphers—had already settled. “The vast majority” of the other suits, Ms. Seeck said, were awaiting summary judgment or trial in the circuit courts.

Ms. Seeck told the Bar that she had “listened to Walsh’s recorded phone calls,” including a conversation between Walsh and his father about the Hoffman and Humphers suits, in which Walsh described the compensation he expected from his fellow inmates for his unlawful legal work. Walsh stated:

“Chris [Hoffman] got out about eight months ago and I gave him $500. He settled out, two of my friends, one got $18,000 and then Christopher, my one friend, we don't know what he got. He won't answer his phone. And so, he's not going to have the money until a couple weeks from now, probably about a week. Here's the thing. I have this number for him. You know how it would be for getting a large sum of money. He might not get around to giving me my cut. Would you give him a call and ask him if he is okay and why he's not answering his phone? He's supposed to pay back that $500 and then I'm supposed to get a third and it will be anywhere from $6,000 to $15,000.”

Ms. Seeck also alerted the Bar that Walsh’s trust account was being monitored for “any large sums of money transferred” to him, and that officials were “taking other actions to thwart further ‘counseling’ by Walsh.” Acting officially as a DOJ Investigator, Ms. Seeck explicitly stated, “We are asking for help from the Oregon Bar to investigate the actions of Joshua Walsh for his Unlawful Practice of Law.”

The Oregon State Bar’s Unlicensed Practice of Law Committee is a committee of twenty lawyers and judges whose sole duty is to investigate such reports of individuals, like Walsh, illegally acting as attorneys in Oregon. The Bar is required under ORS 9.164 to “investigate any alleged violation” of those laws.

Most would agree with Ms. Seeck that a convicted felon operating an illegal scheme to file multiple copies of a lawsuit under the names of other inmates should not be permitted to continue doing so. After the Bar refused to investigate, and summarily dismissed the complaint against Walsh, the Bar’s attorney Nik Chourey also thanked Ms. Seeck for her “interest in Oregon consumer protection.” Only time will tell how much this blizzard of copied-and-pasted lawsuits may end up costing the State of Oregon, but generally, basic math suggests that 31 lawsuits x $27,000 settlements = $837,000.

Basic logic tells us that the Oregon State Bar is beyond negligent in failing to perform what Oregon law defines as is its most basic function: that of a state regulatory agency obligated by law to protect the public—including those who are incarcerated—from the harm inflicted by illegal and unlicensed practice of law, and the financial fraud and victimization that it enables.

A search of the e-court registry shows that to date, no injunctive or criminal proceedings have been brought against Robert Byers or Joshua Walsh for the conduct reported by officials from the Oregon Judicial Department and the Department of Justice. If the Oregon State Bar is derelict enough to ignore such shocking complaints by such credible sources, then the Oregon State Bar cannot be trusted to protect you and me—and should not be in the business of regulation.

And there is absolutely no need to thank them for their lack of interest in Oregon consumer protection.

--Stephanie Volin

Post Date: 2021-04-21 17:37:56Last Update: 2021-04-21 18:23:15

The temperature is hot among the grassroots

In case you haven't been paying attention, let's bring you up to speed. So far, SB 554 is to be combined with HB 2510 to create one bill that would restrict Concealed Handgun License holders from carrying in public buildings, including the Capitol and commercial airports as well as mandate some safe storage policies. Both bills survived mostly intact -- with a few fixes and changes around the edges. One of the major changes is that there are no longer any felonies defined in the bill, which is good, but hardly and adequate consolation prize to people who are passionate about their gun rights.

When SB 554 passed the Senate, the Republican caucus was split over whether to walk out on the bill and deny a quorum. Six of the 12 caucus members walked out, that wasn't enough to deny quorum, so the bill passed, though it was valiantly fought on the floor. All Republicans in attendance voted against the bill.

Firearms advocates -- feeling betrayed -- launched a recall campaign against Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod (R-Lyons). Analysts see an uphill battle, for several reasons. COVID-19 restrictions make signature gathering tough. And Girod is fairly popular in his district. Other recent recalls have failed to even get on the ballot. Even if it gets on the ballot, the voters of his district have to decide that his "no" vote and vigorous objection on the floor wasn't enough.

The bill then moved over to the House where it sat on the desk of House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) for a week, which is unusual. Insiders surmise that she was working on the combination and securing Senate support for the firearm storage restrictions contained in HB 2510. It's now being heard in the House Committee on Rules, where the combined bill is expected to emerge.

It's an understatement to say that the temperature is hot among the grassroots. Understandably, they see walkouts as effective and the political price paid for doing so is slim or non-existent. When SB 554 was heard in committee in the end of February, the end of the session in late June seemed far off and a prolonged walkout seemed difficult. As the end of the session gets closer, these options get easier.

Legislators who are being asked to walk out -- and being chided for not doing so -- have pushed back noting that while it's useful and appropriate to fight legislation during the session, if one party has control, leverage and options are limited. They've called for Second Amendment activists to engage more in elections. Even a few seats could make a difference on this kind of legislation.

The combined bill is not helpful. CHL holders protect themselves and others when police are unavailable. Opponents of these concepts correctly point out that these policies will create an opportunity to make criminals out of law-abiding citizens, though in the amended bill it will no longer make them felons. Not to minimize this, but these concepts are about making it less convenient to carry. They don't take away your right to bear arms -- well, mostly.

Ironically, as Second Amendment activists celebrated the six Senators who "walked out" on the day that SB 554 had a vote on the Senate floor, that "walkout" was symbolic and everyone was back the next day with the bill passed and on to the House.

For further irony, in the 2017 session, SB 719, was introduced by Senator Brian Boquist (R-Dallas). On the heels of the tragic suicide of his step-son, he authored a bill to allow, what many claim is a law without sufficient due-process protections, allowing a police officer or someone close to the person -- a jilted ex-girlfriend comes to mind -- to present a case to a judge, in which the subject is not invited to defend themselves, and upon a favorable ruling, requires the police to seize all firearms from the subject. And just like that, your ex-girlfriend or ex-wife has cancelled hunting season for you.

The compound irony is that Senator Boquist is now one of the celebrated Senators who staged a symbolic one-day walkout, while SB 554 passed.

The level of seriousness between SB 554 combined with HB 2510 and SB 719 is huge. Losing hunting season because your ex-girlfriend complains to a judge is bad enough. When they decide that you should no longer have guns, all it takes is one corrupt police officer and one corrupt judge in possession of the Oregon Firearms Federation mailing list, and you have a legal gun seizure program.

If Senator Girod is worthy of a recall, after voting no on SB 554 and fighting it on the floor, why does Senator Boquist get a pass on SB 719?

Senator Boquist was re-elected in November for another four-year term against tepid opposition. Maybe voters have short memories. Maybe Senator Girod is hoping for the same. The lesson: If Second Amendment activists want better policy, they need to play harder in elections.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-21 17:30:24Last Update: 2021-04-21 17:37:56

Secretary of State Audits Division doesn’t have it on the radar

The Oregon Department of Motor Vehicles is still closed to walk-up customers, despite nearly every transaction-type system in Oregon being allowed to function with safety measures in place.

The Secretary of State's Audit Division is responsible for performing audits of State Agencies, including ODOT and the DMV, but we just elected Shemia Fagan to that office on the backs of massive financial support from public employee unions and a pledge not to do "gotcha" audits on State Agencies, which to me means that she isn't going to put pressure on them to perform. So, maybe it is a little bit of a left/right issue.

The Secretary of State's Audit Plan doesn't list the DMV as an entity that will be looked at.

According to one Capitol insider who declined to be identified, "We just spent $90 million dollars on a software system for the DMV so they could perform better. One way or another, they need to do better."

According to their website,

DMV office visits are by appointment only.

  • Some services MUST be done online or by mail.
  • Even with an appointment, you may have to wait outside for some period of time before being helped. Please dress appropriately for all weather conditions.

The DMV has not released a public plan to return to normal services

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-21 13:55:50Last Update: 2021-04-21 10:05:15

Flee from accountability at all costs

As if it weren't bad enough that the Oregon Department of Education was denied a waiver for testing by the Biden administration, At a loss for how to actually improve education in Oregon, Democrats have finally resolved to do something concrete: Burn down the entire system. Today Senate Democrats voted in lockstep to scrap graduation requirements for the next two school years and order a study to give them cover to do away with them permanently.

Empirical data has shown that school closures have done significant damage to student’s learning. Evidence from Vermont, a state with one of the highest graduation rates in the country, shows that proficiency-based education promotes equity and the learning of valuable skills for students.

SB 744 would cover up the damage of school closures and hurt kid’s future potential. One suspects that the Democrat’s position is that if they hold our students to no standard, that a diploma will mean more and our students will be better served.

“Democrats figure that the best way to cover up their responsibility for decades of public education system failures is to trash all traditional standards of learning,” Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod (R-Lyons) said. “This bill tries to pull a fast one on Oregonians by allowing Democrats to claim victory for improving our education system. The reality is that this bill will artificially inflate graduation rates at the cost to our students’ futures.”

In order to avoid blowback, no Democrat was willing to put their name as a sponsor of the bill, though it was introduced by the Senate Committee on Education, which is chaired by Michael Dembrow. SB 744 would do away with all essential learning skill requirements and ban the State Board of Education from requiring students to show any competency in any academic content area.

“Republicans are the party of educational opportunity,” Girod continued. “Rather than scrap standards for learning, Republicans have introduced several measures to allow students to choose the education that best fits their learning needs. Democrats would prefer to trap our kids in a failing system that doesn’t demand anything from them than do the hard work to reform education and set our kids up for future success.”

A recent analysis by Policy Analysis for California Education found that second graders were 26% behind where they would have been absent school closures in their ability to read aloud. Third graders were 33% behind. Another study shows that kids are lagging in reading and writing.

Recent polling shows that 71% of voters nationwide back school choice. 65% support getting a portion of their tax dollars back to help families afford other options if public schools don’t reopen for full-time in-person instruction. A recent report from the University of Arkansas established that the more school choice, the better students do academically.

SB 744 passed over bipartisan opposition and now heads to the House for further consideration.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-21 13:24:48Last Update: 2021-04-21 13:34:37

Source is not known

The Oregon Legislature learned that an individual who was present at the Capitol has been diagnosed with COVID-19. Potential exposure may have occurred on the floor of the Oregon House of Representatives on April 15.

Human resources for the branch is notifying all individuals who appear to have had close contact with the individual.

The House adjourned this morning until Monday, April 26 at 11am. Committee work, which is being done remotely, will continue as planned.

Anyone who shows symptoms should be tested and quarantine. Legislators and staff who are known to have had close contact with the individual who tested positive have been notified and encouraged to quarantine and get tested. Facilities staff will fumigate the House chamber and wings and continue to diligently, thoroughly and regularly clean the Capitol in line with the CDC’s guidance on environmental cleaning and disinfection.

The priority for the session continues to be to keep people safe and do the people’s work.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-20 11:41:24Last Update: 2021-04-20 11:56:45

Would increase access to health care for rural Oregonians

Oregon is the only state west of Texas that doesn’t allow the practice of telepharamacy. Senator Bill Hansell’s SB 629 allows the practice in Oregon and expands access to pharmaceutical services to rural, elderly, and disabled Oregonians.

In small cities that cannot support a full-time pharmacist, many residents must travel considerable distances to pick up their prescriptions or depend on others to pick them up for them. This can cause many to either go without their needed medication or have their treatment delayed. SB 629 would allow a pharmacist to consult over electronic means with pharmacy techs to fill prescriptions and communicate with patients.

“The pandemic has made us realize that many services we depend on can be provided online or over the phone,” said Senator Bill Hansell (R-Athena), chief sponsor of the bill. “We can leverage these tools to expand access to health care for rural, elderly, and disabled Oregonians. This is a chance for Oregon to evolve in our delivery of health care.”

SB 629 passed on a 29-1 vote and now heads to the House of Representatives for consideration.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-19 11:39:03Last Update: 2021-04-19 11:49:53

Another attempt to burn down police precinct

On Saturday, April 17th, at about 10:00p.m., a group of about 70 people formed in front of Portland Police East Precinct, 737 Southeast 106th Avenue. The group began moving into the street, blocking traffic. Many in the group wore helmets, body armor, and had heavy backpacks, which was consistent with the characteristics of those intent on criminal behavior.

Some individuals began to roll two large dumpsters from a nearby school into the street toward the precinct. Because dumpsters have been used many times as vessels to start fires, the Unified Command of Portland Police Bureau and Portland Fire & Rescue determined it was likely that this group's intent was the same.

East Precinct is part of the city's critical public safety infrastructure and a working precinct 24 hours a day.

The crowd was warned by loudspeaker not to restrict access to the precinct, not to start fires, or block traffic. Despite the warnings, one dumpster was pushed up close to the front door and the other near the garage door.

Due to the criminal activity and clear intent to block access to the precinct, the group was advised by loudspeaker that it had become an unlawful assembly and they were directed to leave to the north. They did not comply so officers moved in and the group moved away as instructed. The officers discovered that one of the dumpsters smelled of smoke but had not caught fire. A collapsible baton and some other gear was dropped when they ran away.

The City of Portland and downtown businesses are totaling up the most recent damage from rioting, arson, theft, and vandalism. Reports are being compiled and there is no cost estimate, but it appears to be significant damage.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-04-18 10:45:05Last Update: 2021-04-18 12:11:40

The woman must be believed. Unless the man is a powerful Democrat


After applying the harshest of interim safety measures to then-Representative Diego Hernandez -- not punitive, because interim safety measures aren't meant to be punitive -- including removing him from committees, and then beating down Representative Mike Nearman (R-Independence) by taking his access to the building away, the House Committee on Conduct has finally found a limit to the extent of their punishments, er, uh, I mean safety measures. Both Hernandez and Nearman are no friends to House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland), so it's fun to dish out harsh measures. Additionally, Witt barely hung on to his seat in fairly conservative Columbia County.

Now, Representative Brad Witt (D-Clatskanie), who is not out of favor with the Speaker stands accused by some sort of misconduct and has to appear before the House Committee on Conduct to get his interim safety measures. His victim serves on a committee that he chairs. It's not certain that the victim is a Republican, but if you want the video, can you imagine if the victim was a Democrat that two women on the committee would choose to not implement a recommendation of the investigator, who recommended that Representative Witt step down as chair of the committee. This, even after Representative Witt offered to be removed as chair of the committee.

Maybe we're done with the #MeToo movement and "the woman must be believed" and when the committee convenes, the victim will have to attend with her accuser. According to Representative Julie Fahey (D-Eugene), Representative Witt need not step down as committee chair because that would be "punitive" as she hems and haws her way through a weak explanation. According to Representative Tawna Sanchez (D-Portland), Representative Witt need not step down as committee chair, because, after all, the committee meets virtually.

House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby) had this to say. “Co-chair Fahey’s rejection of the independent investigator’s recommendation to temporarily remove Chair Witt from his committee shows a shameful disregard for the pressing need for interim safety measures to protect the victim. This is a sham process if the committee rejects the recommendations of the independent investigator with no basis for that rejection. This is not, in fact, a “tricky situation” as co-chair Fahey indicated. It is traumatizing a victim and protecting those in power—and it is completely unacceptable. The responsibility now falls to the Speaker to ensure that Chair Witt is removed, to ensure the safety of the victim.

"Allowing the accused to choose the actions they will voluntarily take to protect their victim is not how this process should work.” Incredible.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-18 09:30:00Last Update: 2021-04-18 09:39:13

The war is over, but the battles continue in Yamhill County

Friends of the Yamhelas-Westsider Trail in Yamhill County, a project that the courts have decided does not comply with various laws, are circulating a petition to support an illegal action. These are good citizens who are continually misled and not informed of relevant factors by selfish interests, elected idealists and senior County staff interested in their personal power. Sowing the seeds of resentment and evoking divisive emotions distracts from rational thought causing animosity among neighbors.

Petition statements are corrected below.

"Commissioners are doing a favor for a small, well-funded group."
Commissioners are recognizing the County has wasted huge dollars pursuing a project deemed illegal on four occasions by LUBA. They have stopped that continued law breaking and financial waste by officials.

"Stopping the Trail could cause the County to repay $3 million."
$3 million is a wild guess intended to stampede decision makers. Omitted is a discussion of who authorized the illegal expenditures. ODOT was compliant in facilitating the illegal expenditures. The amount to repay and terms of repayment are negotiable.

Not having a trail to maintain, police, need fire protection, emergency services and require legal costs from litigating liability claims conservatively saves the County $150k/year perpetually. The savings far exceed even the “wild guess” largest claimed financial liabilities.

"A sale would funnel money out of the County."
A lease or sale to adjacent land owners would keep everything in Yamhill County. It would allow more agriculture on acres now idled, enhancing Yamhill County’s economy and largest primary industry.

"The Trail is not illegal because on one occasion the Land Use Board of Appeals did not fully rebuke the County."
The Trail is illegal because it cannot pass an Agriculture Impact Study showing no harm to existing farm practices. Failure to pass the Study results in no Conditional Use Permit and makes a Trail operation impossible. The plaintiffs were awarded attorney’s fees in the case of a Stay on Construction. Fees are only awarded if the plaintiff is correct on all of several counts. The County was wrong on all counts.

"The Masterplan will answer many LUBA questions."
The Masterplan cannot change the requirement for a Conditional Use Permit. It will not change LUBA’s ruling. You don’t build something and then draw up the plans afterward. The Masterplan was a ruse.

"This is not a property rights issue because the Right of Way was owned by the railroad for 150 years."
Land use laws have changed since 1872 when the farmers were forced to sell to the railroad. The transport of commerce has changed since 1872. Now farmers have property rights equal to those of the railroad. This issue is at the core of individual and private property rights.

Cyclists can access over 200 very safe and scenic public and private bike paths in Oregon. Those facilities are already built and maintained. They offer cycling opportunities for all ages and skill levels. Cyclists can discover a beautiful state for themselves and their families by taking some initiative, or not.

--Tom Hammer

Post Date: 2021-04-17 12:28:30Last Update: 2021-04-18 19:01:00

We’re past halfway. There’s still lots of ideologically charged bills to come

The Oregon House of Representatives is more than halfway through the 2021 session, held in the midst of the ongoing pandemic.

This session Republicans have pushed bills that provide wildfire relief and mitigation, fund educational enrichment to address gaps from distanced learning, and investment for Navigation Centers to support unsheltered individuals.

Republicans from the start of session this year have held the majority party accountable for a misguided agenda that they say includes far reaching and unrelated bills that do not address immediate problems Oregonians are facing.

Meanwhile, Republican members voted to expedite the passage of essential budget bills, as well as policies related to wildfire recovery such as HB 2341.

“It’s important for Republicans to continue standing up for the Oregonians who can’t be here, pushing for real solutions and bipartisan consensus,” said House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby.) “Unfortunately, the majority party is still pushing an aggressive agenda that threatens personal safety, freedoms, and the recovery of our communities across the state. We’re halfway through this session, with a long way to go.”

At the end of March, House Republican Leader Drazan issued a call for the Legislature to refocus on priority issues that continue to be an immediate need for Oregonians. The Legislature responded by moving up the 2019-2021 budget rebalance to expedite important funding for communities.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-17 12:09:07Last Update: 2021-04-17 12:28:30

Local leaders seem to have lost control

A group of an estimated several hundred people started marching from Director's Park in Portland, Oregon at about 9:30 p.m. on April 16th, 2021. Participants in this march started breaking windows of businesses, including the Nordstrom, Verizon, Nike, the Oregon Historical Society and more. In addition to burglary and vandalism, individuals engaged in the crime of criminal mischief by damaging planters and applying graffiti. Looting was reported as well.

Windows were also broken at the First Christian Church, a location known for their generosity in feeding over a thousand meals weekly to the homeless.

A riot was declared due to the widespread criminal activity. Warnings were provided via sound truck that a riot had been declared. The rioters were ordered to disperse and were warned they were subject to arrest and/or force.

Some of the individuals in the group were observed changing clothing in an attempt to disguise themselves and elude police actions.

At about 10:49 p.m., there were 79 holding police calls for service in the City of Portland, including priority welfare check calls, at least three calls of shots, a priority hit and run, and three burglaries. Two burglaries have been holding for over 13 hours. Police resources were stretched across the City to manage the calls for emergency calls for service and the riot.

Officers worked to encourage dispersal and make arrests when they could. In addition to the destruction to businesses and non-profits, multiple fires were set at various locations. Police Bureau Officers dispersed the crowds to allow Portland Fire & Rescue to gain access to the fire locations to safely extinguish them.

At about midnight a portable toilet fire near SW 4th Avenue and Yamhill Street presented a significant life safety threat. The fire was near an occupied building and a propane tank, which increased the danger. Portland Fire & Rescue personnel responded and doused the fire. A community member's vehicle sustained a flattened tire when they struck a rebar spike device known as a "caltrop" while driving downtown. These devices have been used to target first responder vehicles during other events in the past.

During the dispersal, pepper spray was deployed. No CS was deployed.

"Damage to businesses hurts our City. Our community has made it clear that it will not tolerate wanton violence and destruction" said Acting Chief Chris Davis. "No one is entitled to break windows, set fires, or attack police officers. If you choose to participate in this kind of criminal activity, you can expect to be arrested and prosecuted. None of this destruction tonight has anything to do with the important work of racial justice and reconciliation our community and our nation need at this critical time in our history."

The following people were arrested, booked, and charged:
  • Cameron Millar-Griffin, 24 years-old, from Portland- Riot, Criminal Mischief I, Resist Arrest, Disorderly Conduct II
  • Theodore O'Brien, 22 years-old, from Portland-Criminal Mischief I
  • Skye Sodja, 43 years-old, from Portland-Assault a Public Safety Officer, Disorderly Conduct II

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-04-17 12:00:45Last Update: 2021-04-17 13:01:31

Until it’s not

For almost two hours on the floor of the Oregon House, the House Democrats and Republicans debated changing a single number in a bill: 3-vs-4. No other changes to the bill were proposed, and in fact it was not a new conversation. It was a change that had been discussed in the House Education committee but voted down on a party line vote. The House Education Committee is chaired by Representative Teresa Alonso-Leon (D-Woodburn) who, according to the Secretary of State, has received over $78K towards her campaigns since 2016 from the Oregon Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers.

HB 2954 proposed to allow public charter schools to continue the non-discriminatory practice of admitting students, but added a weighted lottery system that would favor historically underserved students which would be based on race, sex, sexual orientation, ethnicity, etc. The House Education Committee agreed that this was a good change, but the Republicans on the committee felt that prioritizing admissions would also be improved if made available to more students. If the cap were raised from 3 to 4% more students could seek education opportunities outside of the traditional brick-and-mortar public school buildings.

The conversation about how many students should attend public virtual charter schools has been acerbated by COVID-19 and Governor Brown shutting down schools to in person learning last Spring. With her executive order, she instantly turned every brick-and-mortar school into a virtual school. As parents, teachers and students struggled with the unknown world of virtual learning, many of them made the choice to move to established virtual public schools. According to information provided by the Oregon Department of Education, as of October 1, 2020, brick-and-mortar school enrollment was down by 3%, and virtual charter school enrollment was up 54% from the same time the year prior.

However, the true debate in committee and on the floor was all about money, not about equity or access. Laurie Wimmer, with OEA submitted testimony to the committee that stated “This particular amendment would cost the school districts of Oregon $118 million. Representative Courtney Neron (D-Wilsonville), agreed saying “It is going to have a huge price tag. I want to caution everyone to not only think about the education impacts of this change, but that it would be nearly a $120M change”. However, Representative Mark Owens (R-Crane) reminded her that “it is not a loss in funding it is a shift in funding. It still goes to the educational opportunities for children”. Representative Janeen Sollman (D-Hillsboro) continued the money argument on the floor of the House yesterday saying “197 school boards and districts would agree, this is not the time to take money away from them. Small districts especially are impacted by these by large charters who increase their grasps on those smaller districts”. According to an ODE report, districts currently at their 3% cap range in total enrollments from 420 to 18,400 kids and represent a wide variety of district sizes and geographic locations.

Representative Owens shared during debate that “As of October 1, 2020, there were 560,917 students enrolled in K-12 schools in Oregon with 21,705 of those students enrolled in virtual charter schools; right around 3.9%”. The amendment of 4% would preserve those students’ rights to continue learning where they area. Currently school districts may go over the 3% cap, but the decision is up to the individual district not the student’s family. Since last Spring, approximately 25% of the school districts in Oregon have reached or exceeded their 3% cap and are now denying student transfers. Denied students have an appeals process, but, according to ODE, Since June 2020, the Department had received 832 appeals, 388 were denied and 31 are pending. 46% of all appeals are denied giving parents little to no choice. They can return to the distance learning or limited in person learning now being offered by most school districts, homeschool their children themselves, or pay for private education.

As public school in Oregon are still not fully open for in person learning and the start of the 2021-22 school year is only 5 months away, many families are concerned that full-time in person learning may not return and they may also be shut out of the public virtual charter school option. In a recent survey conducted by the Oregon Values and Beliefs Center, it showed that 58% of Oregonians expect remote learning for K-12 students to continue for a few years.

Representative Suzanne Weber (R-Tillamook), a retired public school teacher of 30 years, told the House members

“This body has rightly spent this session addressing equity; making sure that ALL Oregonians have equitable access to the services to which they have a right. That is exactly what the cap adjustment does. It insists that every child in Oregon has a right to a public education. Equity in education means that we meet our students where they are, not insist they fit into a model of public education that comes to us from a time when only white, wealthy men ran public institutions, and insisted that everyone conform to the way THEY think things should be. That’s not equity. Let’s not just pick and choose what we believe equity to be based on pressure from political special interests. Let’s do what’s best for students, especially those who have been marginalized for so long”.

House Democrats used their supermajority powers, ignored the request, and voted to protect the OEA and brick-and-mortar funding over doing what was best for Oregon families and Oregon students. The bill is headed to the Senate and will most likely be assigned to the Senate Education committee.

--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-04-17 11:11:37Last Update: 2021-04-17 12:00:45

May have harassed fellow legislator

Representative Brad Witt (D-Clatskanie) is under investigation for a potential violation of Legislative Branch Personnel Rule 27, which provides for a harassment-free workplace. The complaint was received by the Legislative Equity Office.

Fellow Democrats seemed to argue for disregarding safety measures when the House Committee On Conduct met on Friday, April 16th.

House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby) released the following statement regarding the action announced by the House Committee on Conduct:

“Co-chair Fahey’s rejection of the independent investigator’s recommendation to temporarily remove Chair Witt from his committee shows a shameful disregard for the pressing need for interim safety measures to protect the victim. This is a sham process if the committee rejects the recommendations of the independent investigator with no basis for that rejection. This is not, in fact, a “tricky situation” as co-chair Fahey indicated. It is traumatizing a victim and protecting those in power—and it is completely unacceptable. The responsibility now falls to the Speaker to ensure that Chair Witt is removed, to ensure the safety of the victim.

Allowing the accused to choose the actions they will voluntarily take to protect their victim is not how this process should work.”

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-04-16 21:53:17Last Update: 2021-04-16 22:21:07

Keeps costs down for employers

A Republican-sponsored bill that was approved by the House with unanimous support seeks to introduce a number of fixes to Oregon’s unemployment benefits system.

Chief among them is allowing businesses to reset their unemployment insurance taxes owed to pre-pandemic rates.

Throughout the past year, government-mandated closures forced businesses with significantly less revenue to lay off staff in unprecedented numbers. This had unforeseen ramifications for the assessment of unemployment insurance taxes owed, leading to a dramatic rise in tax obligations at a time when business revenue was lowest.

HB 3389, backed by Republican sponsors, would allow businesses that saw this tax increase to defer some payments and even forgive a percentage of the deferred taxes. This bill also ensures that tax rates don’t rise further because of impacts from the pandemic.

Representative Daniel Bonham (R-The Dalles) is a chief sponsor on the bill and was responsible for negotiating the measures outlined by the proposal.

“This pandemic-related relief is exactly why we’re here right now,” added Rep. Bonham. “85 percent of all Oregon businesses saw their unemployment tax rates increase in 2021. That could have a significant impact on the recovery of jobs in Oregon, and is why we needed this fix.”

“Oregon’s unemployment benefits system was put through tremendous strain during this past year, and that exposed serious flaws that needed to be addressed,” said House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby,) one of the bill’s sponsors. “At the start of this session, we said that business relief would be a top priority so that we can recover lost jobs. Fixing the errors in our state’s unemployment benefits system is one way that we can provide relief to Oregonians.”

HB 3389 was passed with unanimous support on the House floor.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-16 11:48:25Last Update: 2021-04-15 20:30:58

“Allowing politicians to draw their own maps is like putting a fox in charge of the hen house”

“The promise of fair representation should not be a political negotiating tactic between partisan legislators behind closed doors,” said Norman Turrill, Chair of People Not Politicians. “This maneuvering between House Leadership exactly underscores why we need reform and fair redistricting so Oregon voters choose politicians, instead of politicians choosing voters.”

Oregonians support creating an independent citizens redistricting commission. In late 2019, People Not Politicians enlisted Lake Research Partners to run a statewide poll. Results showed an average 76% of Democrats, 67% of Independents, and 60% of Republicans favor an independent citizens’ commission.

“Giving equal representation to Democrats and Republicans on the Redistricting Committee is a positive step forward. The real opportunity for reform will come when the legislature opens up HJR 7 to accept public comments on who draws lines going forward.”
---Dave Dillon, Oregon Farm Bureau Executive Vice President

“Allowing politicians to draw their own maps is like putting a fox in charge of the hen house—an inherent conflict of interest. The possibility for bipartisan gerrymandering is knocking at the door. Meanwhile, third parties and historically underrepresented communities are left out of the process.”
--Kate Titus, Executive Director, Common Cause Oregon

“The legislature should do what an overwhelming majority of Oregonians have asked for—create an Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission to draw these maps. It’s imperative to the health of our democracy that redistricting be done in the most fair and transparent manner possible. We need to take politics out of the equation.”
--Norman Turrill, Chair, People Not Politicians

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-16 09:41:57Last Update: 2021-04-15 19:48:25

Polls show that people want to send their kids back

Facing mounting pressure to re-open public schools, in the face of equally strong pressure from teachers' unions to keep them at least partly locked down, on March 12, Governor Brown issued an executive order requiring that schools "shall be in operation to deliver educational services through either a hybrid instructional model or an on-site instructional model." This mark was required to be achieved by March 29.

A recent poll asked, "Do you agree or disagree with Governor Brown’s order to require public elementary schools to offer hybrid or full-time in-person instruction by March 29?"

Strongly agree26%
Somewhat agree39%
Somewhat disagree13%
Strongly disagree13%
Don’t know9%

That's a whopping 65% of respondents who agree, with some level of intensity, to open schools by March 29. Another question asked by the same poll was, "Who do think should have the final say about when and how public schools in your community return to in-person learning?

The locally elected school district board67%
The governor of Oregon16%
Don’t know17%

So, how are schools doing? The Oregon Health Authority has a graphic scoreboard on school re-opening, which appears to show that schools are not hitting the mark.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-16 08:55:55Last Update: 2021-04-15 12:50:09

“Our current governor has ruled with a cold smugness”

Mayor of Sandy, Stan Pulliam, has announced the formation of an exploratory committee to consider his candidacy for the Republican nomination for Governor of Oregon in 2022.

Earlier in the day, Pulliam delivered the City of Sandy’s State of the City Address, where he touted accomplishments including securing funding for a local bypass study, stabilizing police funding, and saving millions on a needed wastewater treatment facility.

At 2:30 p.m., Pulliam walked to a podium at Meinig Memorial Park and made the announcement.

“Our current governor has ruled with a cold smugness inside a bubble of the ruling elite and special interests that continue to craft backroom deals, ignore scientific evidence of lockdown effectiveness, and prioritize the wish lists of her campaign contributors,” said Pulliam. “Maybe it’s time for a different approach. Maybe Oregon needs a mayor for Governor.”

Pulliam has drawn praise and national media attention for urging small businesses to defy Governor Kate Brown’s punitive lockdown rules and arbitrary metrics, opening safely under “high risk” guidelines when placed into “extreme risk” shutdown.

“We’ve all lost friends and family over the past year who have escaped to states with more realistic COVID lockdown metrics. Businesses that had no choice but to open as a matter of survival are now being crucified by state agency fines and administrative punishment.” Pulliam continued, “Our students are drowning in isolation and underachievement, while parents are forced to juggle homeschooling with their own careers – all while teachers unions and extremist activists have controlled school boards to push for longer timelines in reopening classrooms.”

Pulliam has also been critical of the City of Portland’s decline into a landscape of boarded-up businesses, open drug use, and skyrocketing violence.

“I look at Sandy and am still able to recognize my home state of Oregon: It’s pioneer spirit and it’s collaborative and supportive network of families, small businesses, faith communities, and local government,” Pulliam said. “Being mayor of such a place is a huge honor. It makes me wonder how our elected ruling elite continue to disappoint us with such an intrepid population of Oregonians behind them.”

Pulliam plans on a listening tour of the state over the next few weeks, joining other mayors in their communities to form an inclusive vision that unifies Oregon and moves us into the future.

Pulliam concluded by saying, “In the coming weeks I’ll be asking for your feedback and support on how we can heal Oregon together and bring it back to its rugged, pioneer glory of innovation, fortitude, and freedom.”

Sandy Mayor Stan Pulliam was joined for the announcement by his wife MacKensey and their daughters Lucy and Olivia.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-15 17:15:16Last Update: 2021-04-15 17:41:57

“Families offer the mental and emotional support students need”

Republican bill would take on school bullying by involving parents and guardians The Oregon House of Representatives unanimously passed a Republican bill that would ensure schools have policies in place to notify parents about instances of bullying.

Provisions are included to allow students to override this requirement in situations where it is warranted.

Bullying is pervasive in schools and requires support and engagement from not only school professionals, but families who can offer the mental and emotional support students need to recover from their trauma. Taking on bullying, harassment, intimidation, and cyberbullying are keys to achieving the goal of better mental health outcomes for students.

“So many of our kids are hurting, and those closest to them deserve to know,” said House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby,) carrier of the bill. “This ensures that parents and guardians are notified if their child is a victim of bullying in school, giving them the opportunity to be part of a solution.”

HB 2631 was unanimously passed on the House floor.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-15 15:55:47Last Update: 2021-04-15 17:15:16

It is horrible for the canyon and the people of the canyon.

Environmentalist groups including Cascadia Wildlands, the Center for Biological Diversity, Willamette Riverkeeper, Audubon Society of Corvallis, Audubon Society of Salem, Oregon Wild, and the Benton Forest Coalition have filed a suit challenging the ongoing post-fire salvage logging in the Santiam State forest east of Salem.

Environmental groups are upset as the Oregon Department of Forestry’s logging operations are impacting areas beloved by mountain bikers, horseback riders, and hikers including the Monument Peak horse camp and the Niagara area.

Post-fire logging typically removes most of the remaining trees and involves intense road building and maintenance.

Marion County Commissioner Colm Willis sais, "This is outrageous. It is horrible for the canyon and the people of the canyon. Out of county political groups need to stay the hell away from our recovery efforts!"

The Santiam watersheds drain some 1,800 square miles from the Cascade range, providing an abundance of clear, cold water that is beneficial to the Willamette River.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-15 15:34:27Last Update: 2021-04-15 15:55:47

Are you being paid for your testimony?

From the "who would've thought that" department comes the fact that minks and other animals can be asymptomatic transmitters of the COVID-19 virus. Oregon is the home to many mink farms and because of this, regulations regarding testing of persons working on mink farms was proposed in HB 832 proposed by Senator Floyd Prozanski (D-Eugene).

Animal rights activists have long had their sights set on mink farming in Oregon, and, it seems, COVID-19 has given them a chance to place pressure on the industry.

During a recent hearing, a veterinarian who works with minks was giving testimony and, as his testimony concluded, he was asked by Senator Prozanski how often he does this kind testimony and if he was being paid to testify.

Watch the video below to see his answers to these questions and the reaction of Senator Dallas Heard (R-Roseburg).

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-15 15:14:01Last Update: 2021-04-15 15:33:20

“Most everyone is against tolling”

The Clackamas County Board of Commissioners adopted values related to funding interstate projects in the region at their recent meeting.

Chair Tootie Smith said it was important to be a leader in this discussion. “Regional conversations are happening about how our transportation system will be funded that will significantly affect the residents of Clackamas County,” said Chair Smith. “We need to be a leader at the table and ensure the needs of our residents and businesses are represented.”

Depleted transportation funding at the state and federal level -- due to declining gas tax revenue as vehicles become fuel-efficient—are leading to funding gaps in building projects on the interstate system to reduce congestion and improve seismic resiliency. In response to the declining transportation revenues and growing congestion, the Oregon Legislature directed the Oregon Department of Transportation to study and implement tolling for managing congestion through House Bill 2017.

ODOT is planning tolling projects within Clackamas County along Interstate 205 near the Abernethy Bridge – an area that has little transportation options other than driving.

Given ODOT has the existing authority to implement tolling and continues advancing the concept of congestion pricing tolls to manage congestion on interstates, a values-based approach, rather than a traditional support or oppose position, allows Clackamas County to be proactive and nimble as discussions continue.

The transportation funding values adopted by the BCC prioritize equity, safety, a vibrant economy, health and active communities, climate action, disaster resilience, and the reliable movement of people and goods.

Vice-Chair Paul Savas said, “Most everyone is against tolling. No one wants to pay for something they believe they are already paying for just to go to work or take their kids to school. However, if the legislature insists on tolling or congestion pricing, Clackamas needs to be in a leadership position to assure our residents receive benefit for the toll they pay. These values should get us there.” ODOT is nearing completion on the designs for the I-205 Widening and Seismic Improvement Project within Clackamas County, which will add a new lane in each direction of I-205 between Stafford Road and Highway 213, as well as upgrading the Abernethy Bridge over the Willamette River to withstand an earthquake. The Oregon Legislature is currently considering ways to finance project construction to begin early next year. As part of this effort, ODOT is pursuing tolling the project as a means of raising revenue, as well as using congestion pricing to curb traditional travel behaviors.
--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-15 15:10:14Last Update: 2021-04-15 15:34:27

“She was a pioneer and a fierce advocate for the vulnerable”

The Senate Rules Committee heard moving commemorative testimony from many people who were touched by Senator Jackie Winters. The Committee passed a resolution, SCR 10 recognizing her life and legacy unanimously.

Jackie Winters represented the Salem area for two decades before succumbing to lung cancer at the age of 82. She was the first African-American Republican elected to the legislature and the first African-American caucus leader in Oregon history.

“I miss my friend, Jackie,” Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod (R-Lyons) said. “She was a pioneer and a fierce advocate for the vulnerable and communities in need. Jackie was larger than life, and her spirit, dedication, and courage impacted more than she could have ever known.”

SCR 10 now moves to be considered before the entire Senate.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-15 14:39:26Last Update: 2021-04-15 15:10:14

“There’s a longtime cultural divide as big as the Grand Canyon”

Freedom is coming to a neighborhood near you.

This week, in a joint meeting of the Idaho Senate Resources and Environment committee and the Idaho House Environment, Energy, and Technology committee, lawmakers heard a proposal to incorporate much of rural Oregon into Idaho.

Rural Oregonians have felt increasingly dominated by urban decision makers in the Oregon Legislature. Years of attacks on agriculture and natural resource businesses, and overreaching decisions dominated by legislators from Portland Metro, have pushed the rural urban divide to the breaking point. “There’s a longtime cultural divide as big as the Grand Canyon between northwest Oregon and rural Oregon, and it’s getting larger,” Mike McCarter, President of Move Oregon’s Border for a Greater Idaho, told Idaho lawmakers.

There once was a time that the Oregon Legislature was more balanced. During the 2001-2003 sessions, the Democrats controlled the Senate, and the Republicans controlled the House. The Speaker of the House at the time was Mark Simmons, a veteran legislator from Rural eastern Oregon. He was also the last Speaker of the house from a rural Oregon District. Simmons traveled to Idaho this week to speak about moving the border, describing how it would strengthen Idaho by adding the deep-water port at Coos Bay to Idaho, making it less dependent on Oregon’s decisions regarding ports and the federal government’s upcoming decisions to perhaps eliminate locks on the Snake river. “Values of faith, family, independence. That’s what we’re about. We don’t need the state breathing down our necks all the time, micromanaging our lives and trying to push us into a foreign way of living.”

The proposal made by the Move Oregon’s Border for a Great Idaho is simply a shift in borders that does not affect the balance of power in the US Senate. It does not create a new state or increase the number of states, and borders between states have been relocated many times throughout US history. If a deal were made that both the Oregon and Idaho Legislatures could support, a border change would almost certainly become a reality.

Idaho Representative Ben Adams (R-Nampa), said his interest was piqued but wondered why Oregon lawmakers would agree to the plan. “How is it being received right now by the state of Oregon?” Supporters of the border change let the Idaho lawmakers know that it is an ongoing conversation in Oregon and although there are currently no bills in the Oregon Legislature addressing the boundary changes, six counties (Baker, Grant, Harney, Lake, Malheur and Sherman) will be voting on the idea at the May Special District election. The outcome of that will be an indicator to the Oregon Legislature on the desire of rural communities to no longer be under urban Oregon lawmaker rule. “Before we can even begin to discuss the details, we have got to see a significant majority of counties in Oregon stepping up to support it”, Simmons shared.

The Democrats currently hold a supermajority in the Oregon House and a voting majority in the Oregon Senate, and they could potentially strengthen their position further by letting rural counties become part of Idaho. In addition, allowing rural counties to leave could be seen as an economic win for the remainder of the “new urban state”. Rural counties tend to be areas that generate less property tax revenue and have lower wage paying jobs. In addition, much of the proposed land that would be redirected to Idaho is Federally owned which is sometimes seen as a liability on the state rather than an asset.

The Chair of the Idaho House committee, Representative Barbara Ehardt (R–Idaho Falls) seemed to agree saying, “With everybody moving to Idaho, it isn’t lost on me the addition of landmass, water, resources, agriculture, timber; there are some appealing things to Idahoans, at least in my estimation, to even consider this.”

--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-04-15 10:28:12Last Update: 2021-04-16 09:58:58

Would be required for each county

Democrats in Oregon have now introduced legislation that will significantly increase costs of operating jails in each of Oregon's 36 counties. The exact cost is not yet known.

HB 3310 would require each county to have a facility jointly managed by sheriff and community mental health director to house and treat individuals with behavioral health disorders or intellectual or developmental disabilities who are in custody of county sheriff pending trial.

The bill is sponsored only by Representative Paul Evans (D-Monmouth)and is currently in the House Committee On Judiciary.

The bill contains the following details:
  • Each county must have in operation a facility for the housing and treatment of individuals with behavioral health disorders or intellectual or developmental disabilities who are in the custody of the county sheriff pending trial. Each facility must have the capacity to treat all detainees from the community who are in custody and be staffed by behavioral health professionals from the community mental health program and the sheriff’s deputies. The facility shall be managed by the sheriff in partnership with the community mental health director.
  • If a county does not have a community health program, the Oregon Health Authority shall provide behavioral health professionals for the facility and partner with the county sheriff in the management of the facility.
  • The Oregon Health Authority may adopt rules governing the facilities to protect the health and safety of detainees and staff at the facility.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-04-14 14:47:10Last Update: 2021-04-14 20:09:30

Pass ‘Guilty Until Proven Innocent’ Legislation

Senate Democrats charged forward with a plan to bulldoze principles of due process in the workplace.

SB 483 will create a presumption of guilt for employers accused of retaliation. The law would completely change accepted procedures of fairness.

SB 483 is sponsored by Senator Kathleen Taylor (D-Portland).

Discrimination and retaliation in the workplace have been illegal for decades. The existing ‘innocent until proven guilty’ system already allows employees to get justice if they have been wronged, evidenced by a 10-fold increase in OSHA complaints in the last year. SB 483 will presume that all employers are guilty of discrimination or retaliation even when the allegations are dubious, or the employee has filed an anonymous complaint. This would create a presumption when an employee alleges retaliation when they don’t get the shifts they want.

“This bill opens up employers to a wide variety of spurious allegations from employees and activist lawyers,” Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod (R-Lyons) said. “This would send struggling businesses’ legal expenses through the roof at the same time they are trying to recover from a year of devastating lockdowns. Let me be clear, discrimination or retaliation in the workplace is unacceptable. The remedy for it is not to rewrite the rules of due process.”

Senate Democrats passed SB 483 along party lines. It now heads to the House of Representatives where they will have an opportunity to correct this terrible legislation.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-04-14 14:28:42Last Update: 2021-04-14 14:47:10

Currently, it requires a visit to your doctor

A proposal, HB 2648, from Representative Bill Post (R-Keizer) to allow the sale of pseudoephedrine products without a prescription passed out of the House Committee on Health Care this week.

This is the third time that Rep. Post has attempted to remove an unnecessary barrier for Oregonians to lower their health care costs when purchasing pseudoephedrine products. Products such as Sudafed will still be restricted to people who are at least 18 years of age with a valid ID under the proposal.

The impact on health care consumers’ wallets could be significant. Currently, purchasing a pseudoephedrine product requires a visit to your doctor to receive a prescription, which comes with an expensive bill.

“With health care costs skyrocketing, this simple bill to reduce the cost of a common cold medicine should be a no-brainer,” said Rep. Post. “We shouldn’t be asking people to jump through very expensive hoops by visiting a doctor to obtain a prescription to common cold medicine, especially when Oregon is the ONLY state requiring a prescription.”

HB 2648 passed out of the House Committee on Health Care with bipartisan support.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-14 13:28:29Last Update: 2021-04-14 13:34:07

“The federal government needs to have some skin in the game”

The Oregon Senate has approved SJM 3, a memorial calling on the federal government to reimburse property owners for property damage that resulted from a fire that started on mismanaged federal forestlands. The memorial urges Congress to establish a program to give property owners this redress.

The federal government manages 60% of Oregon’s forestland. These federal lands are burning more land at a greater frequency. From 2000 to 2019, 15 of the 16 megafires in Oregon started on federally managed lands. In the last decade, 86% of burned forestland acres have been federal land. United States Forest Service Lands burn at nearly five times the rate of private and state lands.

Under state law, if a spark from your barbeque started a fire on your property and spread to federal land, you would be on the hook for the cost of the damage to federal land. If the fire starts on mismanaged federal forestland and destroys your property, there is no requirement for the federal government to compensate private landowners for damages. SJM 3 brings accountability to the federal government who currently has no incentive to manage forests in a way that will decrease wildfire.

“This legislation recognizes that the federal government’s mismanagement of Oregon forestland has set the conditions for catastrophic wildfires,” Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod (R-Lyons) and author of the legislation said. “Republicans have been fighting for responsible management of our forests for decades. Unfortunately, this legislative effort comes after people have died and beautiful forests have been destroyed because of mismanagement. We must turn our focus to prevention. Without active forest management, catastrophic fires will continue to happen.”

In 2020, wildfires in Oregon burned more than 1.2 million acres. The impact on communities across the state was devastating. More than 5,000 homes and commercial structures were destroyed. The 2020 wildfires threatened lives, businesses, homes, displaced thousands of Oregonians, and blanketed the state in dangerously high smoke levels.

In 2020 alone, the cost to fight the fires was at least $354 million. The total cost was even higher. FEMA has estimated that the cost of wildfire/wind damage, response, and debris removal is about $1.15 billion. As of January, Oregon has only received $32.2 million in FEMA Individual Assistance payments to Oregonians.

“The federal government needs to have some skin in the game when it comes to managing our forests responsibly. Oregonians also need to have redress when bad management takes their homes, property, and livelihoods,” Girod added. “I urge Congress to provide and fund an expedient and efficient system to fully reimburse state and local government property owners and especially private property owners for the damage that results from wildfires that start on federal land,” Girod added.

SJM 3 passed the Senate on a 29-1 vote and now moves to the House of Representatives for consideration.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-14 12:43:19Last Update: 2021-04-14 12:52:58

Describes wakeboarding issue as “longstanding hot potato”

As reported in the Northwest Observer, opponents of wakeboarding have put up a bill to change the makeup of the Oregon State Marine Board, and it was suggested that the proposed changes to the board were being made in order to tip the scales on the wakeboarding issue.

If you can't get the legislature to pass the bill clamping down on wakeboarding, change the makeup of the board and have the board do it.

I am Paul Donheffner, and I served as Director of the State Marine Board from 1984 to 2010, so I have more than a little experience working with the members of the Marine Board. HB 2695 is a radical and unnecessary makeover of the Board, which will have negative consequences for years to come.

The reason for this bill appears to be a nexus with HB 2555 and wakeboarding, which is a longstanding hot potato. In a desire to ban wakeboarding on the Willamette River, advocates want to dismantle and re-design the Marine Board to achieve their goals. This is not the right answer. The Board makes decisions based on the statutes created by the Legislature. If the Legislature has a better prescription for wakeboarding, it should set that in law rather than destroying the Board over this one issue.

Re-making the Board using identity politics and labels will not enhance the Board, but instead divide the Board into interest group camps and members who feel an obligation to represent their identity point of view rather than a broader public interest.

Board members serve as citizen volunteers, giving many hours of often thankless work for only mileage and per diem. Board members are vetted by the Governor's office and confirmed by the Oregon Senate. Under this bill as few as two members would actually be boaters, which is just plain wrong.

It is a mistake to exclude persons who might want to serve on the Board because they don't check a certain box. Or because that box is already filled. In addition, if you go down the rabbit hole of identity labels, then this bill fails to check off other groups with a stake. There is nobody representing law enforcement or search and rescue, representing guides or charter boats, representing active water sports, representing marine dealers or tourism, representing local governments, and so on.

And the Division of State Lands and DEQ do not need to serve ex-officio on the Board. Why not ODFW? OSP? State Parks? This quickly gets very unwieldy and political influence sets in. It is not a good model for a volunteer citizen board.

The Legislature should tackle wakeboard policy, but leave identity politics out of the Marine Board. Please vote NO on HB-2695.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-14 11:23:10Last Update: 2021-04-14 12:22:10

Spoiler alert: It’s about wakeboarding

Currently, the Oregon State Marine Board is comprised of five volunteer members who are appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate. Members serve a four-year term and may apply for a second term of service. Members represent different geographic regions of the state and different boating activities. Board members are also recreational boat owners of motorized, non-motorized or both types of watercraft.

Beneath the surface, and unknown to most Oregonians is a raging battle over a stretch of the Willamette River known as Newberg Pool. The battle is over wakeboarding. On one side are boaters who appreciate the deep, wide section of the river and it's use as a great spot for wakeboarding. On the other side are homeowners, concerned about erosion and paddle-wielding, radical environmentalists who won't stand for any vessel propelled by fossil fuels on their river.

For the last few legislative sessions, the wakeboarders have been surviving all attempts to legislate them out of existence. For instance, in the 2018 short session, HB 4099 was introduced to prohibit person from operating motorboat with wake-enhancing device between river mile 30 and river mile 50 on Willamette River and requiring person to operate wakeboard boat at slow, no-wake speed between river mile 30 and river mile 50 on Willamette River. It was later amended to merely set up a task force to study the issue, but even that version died in committee.

This session, HB 2725, introduced by Representative Brad Witt (D-Clatskanie), which provides that maximum loading weight of motorboat must be less than 4,000 pounds to obtain towed watersports motorboat certificate, authorizes State Marine Board to conduct study related to increasing prescribed maximum loading weight, and provides that person shall carry towed watersports endorsement if engaged in any towed watersports within Newberg Pool Congested Zone.

Now, desperate environmentalists are looking to HB 2695, introduced by Representative Witt to remake the Oregon State Marine Board. The five-member Marine Board will be replaced by a ten member board, with eight voting members, as follows:

  • (3) The Governor shall appoint the voting members, as follows:
    • (a) One member with academic or professional expertise in riverine ecology, fisheries biology or environmental conservation;
    • (b) One member who owns a floating home;
    • (c) One member representing a recreational boating organization or who has substantial and current experience as a recreational boater;
    • (d) One member representing a water paddling organization or who has substantial and current experience as a water paddler;
    • (e) One member representing a recreational fishing organization or who has substantial and current experience as a recreational fisher;
    • (f) One member who is a member of, or who represents, a federally recognized Indian tribe in this state;
    • (g) One member of the public at large; and
    • (h) One member who is a licensed outfitter and guide.
A board of this makeup has fewer boaters who might be expected to be sympathetic to wakeboarders and more members who come from communities -- or could be picked by the Governor -- who are not sympathetic to wakeboarders. this bill is widely seen as a move to give environmentalists more control over the river, and put recreational boaters in their place.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-14 09:26:27Last Update: 2021-04-14 09:27:52

Defendant paid high bail with cashier’s check from Saudi government

On August 19, 2016, teenager Fallon Smart was struck by a recklessly speeding gold Lexus owned by Abdulrahman Noorah, a student from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia attending Portland Community College. Fallon died at the scene in her mother’s arms.

Noorah was arraigned at Multnomah County Court on charges including Manslaughter in the First Degree. A bail deposit of $100,000 was paid by the Saudi government and Noorah was released under court-ordered terms including an ankle monitor and participation in a police supervision program. Predictably, Noorah fled the United States before trial, aided by the government of Saudi Arabia—a country that does not extradite. Fallon Smart’s family now has no hope of her killer being brought to justice.

Recently uncovered documents paint an even more disturbing picture of the case, including Noorah’s use of over $32,000 in public defense funds meant for Oregon citizens who cannot afford an attorney—and who certainly do not have a foreign government bailing them out of jail. Noorah’s private attorney, Ginger Mooney of Hood River, appears to have been hired by Saudi Arabia as well, as she had been in several other cases involving Saudi defendants who were aided to escape justice and return home.

When Noorah was bailed out of jail, Mooney paid with a $100,000 cashier’s check from the Royal Consulate General of Saudi Arabia, representing a 10% deposit on the full security amount of $1 million. Astonishingly, the bail paperwork that Noorah and Mooney filled out did not properly identify Saudi Arabia as the “person posting bail.” Instead, a “self-bail” box was checked, certifying that Noorah had paid his own bail.

Mooney then took the paperwork over to Multnomah court where “self-bail” was written twice on Noorah’s release agreement. This allowed the Saudi government to avoid the $900,000 bill when Noorah fled. Instead, the bill went to Noorah at his former Portland address, years after his flight from justice back to Saudi Arabia.

Even worse, it is now known that taxpayer money was used to pay Noorah’s case expenses through Oregon’s Office of Public Defense Services (OPDS), an agency which provides legal representation and other defense services for those who financially qualify. Before he fled, Mooney submitted a sworn affidavit to the Multnomah court certifying that Noorah was “financially eligible” for some expenses to be paid by OPDS. Let that sink in: Despite easily paying the $100,000 bail (and guaranteeing $900,000 more), Mooney claimed that Noorah’s case qualified for public funds.

Mooney’s request was approved by the Multnomah court, and OPDS was eventually billed $32,326.14. When Eric Deitrick, General Counsel of OPDS, was locating information relevant to my most recent public records request, he was surprised to see that public funds from his agency were used in Noorah’s case (and for at least one more of Mooney’s Saudi student defendants). Deitrick told me that this was “problematic,” and said, “Our public defense funds need to go to people who genuinely need those funds. I have no reason to believe the defendants in these cases did, particularly given the ease at which they posted bail.”

Seth Smart, Fallon’s father, is even more disturbed by this newly uncovered information. “The Saudi government can post $100,000 in bail money, but Ms. Mooney uses $33,000 of tax payer dollars to cover expenses in her client’s defense? One word: disgusting.” Smart continued. “As I find out more information about Ginger Mooney and her actions as legal counsel to my daughter’s killer I become more deeply appalled. It seems no matter what aspect of her actions are dug into, it always gets dirtier.”

--Stephanie Volin

Post Date: 2021-04-13 16:07:02Last Update: 2021-04-13 15:58:23

Rep. Noble leads Republican caucus to help youth

The Oregon House of Representatives passed a bill to address the alarming rise in suicidal ideation among children. Representative Ron Noble (R-McMinnville,) chief sponsor of the bill, was joined by nearly all of his Republican colleagues as co-sponsors.

The proposal would encourage mental health care providers who believe a minor is at risk of attempting suicide to disclose relevant information to a parent, guardian or other individuals who can help take necessary safety measures.

“We need to address the current mental health challenges that our young kids are facing,” said Rep. Noble. “Data has shown that the pandemic’s effects on children and youth coincides with a startling rise in mental health problems, including the increase of suicidal ideation among those between 10 and 17 years old. This bill will empower mental health professionals to rely on their experience and expertise to enlist support of a young person’s family and loved ones who can help before it’s too late.”

HB 3139 was passed with bipartisan support in the House.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-13 15:46:22Last Update: 2021-04-13 17:49:05

Has become a common occurance in Portland

On April 12, 2021, a little after 8:30 p.m., crowds gathered near the Penumbra Kelly Building in Portland, Oregon and began throwing objects at police.

The crowd assembled elsewhere and marched to the building. Portland Police officers acted in self-defense and in defense of property first by creating a visible barrier indicating the property was closed. A line of yellow tape, commonly used to close areas for security purposes, was strung across the southern driveway entrances to the property.

The crowd ignored and removed the tape. People threw glass bottles, frozen water bottles, rocks, ball bearings and other objects, and shot fireworks in the direction of police and the building.

Police issued verbal warnings, directing people to stay off the closed Penumbra Kelly Building property, and to remain on sidewalks. Force warnings were given, warning participants in the violent activity that they may be subject to dispersal, including munitions and may be subject to arrest.

The group grew to approximately 200 people, most acting aggressively toward police. The rioters blocked East Burnside to all traffic. Violent leftists from the crowd came onto the closed city property and attempted to set a dumpster on fire using an unknown accelerant.

Many in the crowd persisted throwing projectiles as described. Some continued lighting a fire on the east side of the building, adding wood and other flammable material to it. The violent leftists broke out windows on the front side of the building and there were repeated attempts to breach the front doors of the building. Agitators in the crowd continued to throw concrete, bricks and other objects at officers.

At about 10:20 p.m., officers began moving the crowd away from the Penumbra Kelly building and west on East Burnside.

Neighbors and bystanders called to report thefts from area yards. People in the crowd were stealing rocks and landscaping bricks and other property to use as weapons against police.

All the while, people continued throwing the rocks, bricks, concrete and other dangerous projectiles. Due to the continued coordinated violent, tumultuous conduct by so many in the crowd, which created the risk of public alarm, incident commanders declared an unlawful assembly. The conduct of the crowd did not improve, and incident command declared a riot.

Police purposely disengaged to allow people to begin acting lawfully and peacefully.

The Penumbra Kelly building is owned by the City of Portland and is utilized by offices from city bureaus, including the Office of Community and Civic Life and the Portland Police, as well as Multnomah County Sheriff?s Office.

Dozens of calls for police service waited, some for hours, as officers from across the city responded to restore order in the North Tabor neighborhood, where the building sits.

Officers reported significant damage to the exterior of the building, including many broken windows, graffiti and broken light fixtures. Leftist rioters damaged police vehicles with thrown objects and metal devices designed to puncture tires. Officers reported suspects in the crowd fired ball bearings from wrist rockets at them. Many leftist rioters still continued to throw all manner of projectiles, including rocks, pieces of concrete, bricks, bottles and fireworks. Some attempted to burglarize the building by breaching the front doors.

There was no indication that anyone in the crowd attempted to stop the violence that led to the riot. Instead, most of those present actively participated or encouraged the criminal activity.

Police did not make any arrests during this incident, but investigations following the riot last night may lead to arrests. The crime of Riot is a felony in Oregon.

Prior to the riot, police issued numerous warnings, including force warnings, and direction for the crowd to act lawfully. During the riot police issued directions to disperse and continued force warnings. Portland Police utilized impact munitions, oleoresin capsicum (OC), and other control against resistance. No CS gas was used.

While this was happening, other rioters cut through city fences and damaged Portland Police vehicles.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-04-13 14:33:23Last Update: 2021-04-13 15:24:51

CDC and FDA issue joint statement

The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) has asked all of the state’s vaccine providers to immediately stop administering the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, per the announcement from the U.S. CDC and FDA.

As of April 12, more than 6.8 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine have been administered in the U.S.

CDC and FDA are reviewing data involving six reported U.S. cases of a severe type of blood clot in individuals after receiving the J&J vaccine. In these cases, a type of blood clot called cerebral venous sinus thrombosis (CVST) was seen in combination with low levels of blood platelets (thrombocytopenia). All six cases occurred among women between the ages of 18 and 48, and symptoms occurred 6 to 13 days after vaccination.

Treatment of this specific type of blood clot is different from the treatment that might typically be administered. Usually, an anticoagulant drug called heparin is used to treat blood clots. In this setting, administration of heparin may be dangerous, and alternative treatments need to be given.

FDA will review and investigate these cases. Until that process is complete, the FDA is recommending a pause in the use of this vaccine in part to ensure that the health care provider community is aware of the potential for these adverse events and can plan for proper recognition and management due to the unique treatment required with this type of blood clot.

The FDA claims to take all reports of health problems following COVID-19 vaccination very seriously. People who have received the J&J vaccine who develop severe headache, abdominal pain, leg pain, or shortness of breath within three weeks after vaccination should contact their health care provider. Health care providers are asked to report adverse events to the Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-04-13 12:48:24Last Update: 2021-04-13 13:49:30

Cringeworthy tweet on a recent mistaken police shooting

Back when Dennis Richardson was running for Secretary of State, he stressed the non-partisan and non-political nature of the office. He was quoted as saying “If I’m secretary of state, you won’t be able to tell if I’m Republican or Democrat” and in the opinion of many people, he did run the office that way. According to some, that was a key to his being elected. Voters don't want a partisan in the state's chief elections officer.

Enter Shemia Fagan.

As details are still unfolding regarding what appears to be a very unfortunate mistake by a police officer in Minnesota, Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan (D-Portland) has posted a tweet -- as Oregon Secretary of State, not as herself -- politicizing the issue.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, including -- maybe even especially -- Secretary Fagan, but it's disappointing to see partisan opinion peddled under the banner of the Office of the Secretary of State.

It's as if she can't help herself from playing politics using a police officer -- who to all appears to have just made a mistake -- from a state halfway across the country.

Fagan is well-known as a political animal. First elected to the Oregon House in 2012, she served two terms until being recruited to run a primary race against then-State Senator Rod Monroe. From her State Senate seat, she ran a public-employee-union-funded campaign against fellow Senator Kin Thatcher.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-12 20:24:21Last Update: 2021-04-13 15:43:29

Equity oversight of marijuana?

Democrats in Oregon now want to have oversight of marijuana and want to spend money as they see fit through a "Cannabis Equity Fund".

HB 3112 is a bill currently in the Oregon legislature that is sponsored by Representative Ricki Ruiz (D-Portland), Representative Julie Fahey (D-Eugene), Representative Janelle Bynum (D-Clackamas), Representative Mark Meek (D-Gladstone), Representative Karin Power (D-Portland), Senator Lew Frederick (D-Portland), and Senator Kayse Jama (D-Portland).

HB 3112, if passed, would establish a Cannabis Equity Board within the office of Governor Kate Brown in order to provide "equity" oversight of cannabis industry in Oregon.

The bill contains the following proposals:
  • Requires board to annually report information about equity in Oregon cannabis industry to interim committee of Legislative Assembly related to cannabis.
  • Establishes equity liaisons in Oregon Health Authority and Oregon Liquor Control Commission. Requires equity liaisons to report to board quarterly on specified information. Establishes Cannabis Equity Fund and continuously appropriates moneys in fund to board for specified purposes.
  • Directs commission to issue equity license to qualified applicant.
  • Allows commission to issue cannabis on-premises consumption license, cannabis delivery license, shared processing license or shared processing facility license to applicant who meets qualification criteria for equity license.
  • Allows commission, after January 1, 2032, to issue cannabis on-premises consumption license, cannabis delivery license, shared processing license or shared processing facility license to applicant who does not meet qualification criteria for equity license.
  • Directs office of public defense services to compile list of certain offenses that involve lawful marijuana activity for purposes of setting aside records of conviction, arrest or charge.
  • Requires office to submit report with list of offenses to Judicial Department, Cannabis Equity Board and interim committees of Legislative Assembly related to judiciary.
  • Directs Judicial Department and Department of State Police to provide information to office of public defense services concerning persons who may be eligible to have set aside conviction, arrest or charge for marijuana offense.
  • Modifies procedures for setting aside certain marijuana convictions, arrests and charges.
  • Authorizes office of public defense services to file motions for setting aside certain marijuana convictions, arrests and charges.
  • Limits imposition of supervision conditions related to use of marijuana.
  • Provides that marijuana use may not be basis of parole, probation or post-prison supervision violation except in certain circumstances.
  • Requires entities that maintain records of parole, probation or post-prison supervision violations to review and expunge any records of violations based on specified conduct not later than December 31, 2024.
  • Requires allocation of moneys in Criminal Fine Account to Cannabis Equity Fund.
  • Requires distribution of moneys from Oregon Marijuana Account to Cannabis Equity Fund. Specifies manner in which authority shall use moneys transferred to authority.
  • Provides that authority may not charge fee greater than $20 for registry identification card for individual who served in Armed Forces of United States or who receives certain public assistance or $60 for any other individual.
The Oregon Judicial Department has expressed concern about the legislation via testimony.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-04-12 19:02:53Last Update: 2021-04-12 22:29:57

The dawn of global cooling?

The coldest it has ever been at the Portland Airport in the 80 years of records was 33° F. Friday night we got down to 33° F, and even lower at the Troutdale Airport. Radiative cooling under clear skies left a white frosty landscape by morning.

Atmospheric carbon dioxide did not save us.

And the record cold did not stop there. Here is the Weather Service Record Event report for our area:

SXUS76 KPQR 111629

900 AM PDT SUN APR 11 2021


ASTORIA 30° 31° (1991)
EUGENE 30° 31° (1991)
HILLSBORO 26° 30° (1947)
PORTLAND AIRPORT 32° 33° (1991)
SALEM 29° TIED 29° (1991)
TROUTDALE 29° 31° (1965)
VANCOUVER 28° TIED 28° (1980)

And for good measure, here are the record lows set on Friday morning:

Record Report

632 PM PST FRI APR 9 2021


ASTORIA 30° 32°/1982
TROUTDALE 31° 32°/1975

--Staff Reports with Dr. Gordon Fulks

Post Date: 2021-04-12 10:44:11Last Update: 2021-04-12 12:07:02

There’s a lot of stuff in the pipeline

For weeks, the Oregon House only met 1 day a week to read, debate and vote on bills. However, after a shutdown of the House floor due to a positive COVID-19 case, House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) decided to kick the legislature into high gear. She began scheduling “daily double” floor session starting March 30th.

On March 30, there were 45 bills scheduled for 2nd reading, setting up the opening of the flood gates. The next day the House was able to move just one bill on a party line vote. Why? The bill voted on was only slightly controversial. It required local governments to allow the conversion of hotels and motels into emergency homeless shelters or affordable housing. While historically it was permissible by local land use planners, HB 3261, introduced by Representative Pam Marsh (D-Portland), would now require local jurisdiction to allow it.

However, that issue was not the cause of the delay. What brought the House to a crawl was the reading of the next bill, HB 2111 which was 170 pages long. The Minority party has refused to suspend the rules which requires the reading of each bill, in its entirety, prior to debate and vote. The bill took almost 8 hours to read.

In a recent article by Representative Bill Post (R-Keizer), he shared the rationale behind the minority request to read the bills in their entirety before a vote. “House Republicans are currently slowing down the Oregon Legislature which is trying to rush passing more than 4,000 wide-ranging bills in a pandemic session. While most bills will have bipartisan consensus like the budget, there are still about 10 percent of the proposals that are partisan, and I believe could make life far worse for Oregonians”.

By April 1, the House had only passed 11 bills including 4 agency budget bills which were moved up the list through bipartisan negotiations. The chamber was also originally scheduled to meet on Good Friday and the Saturday of Easter weekend, but those floor sessions were ultimately canceled by the Speaker of the House possibly as a part of the bipartisan negotiations.

The House resumed on Monday the 5th with a planned week of “daily double” floor sessions. They quickly managed to whittle off 12 bills from the growing list, but the bills being 2nd read were ever growing and backfilling the 3rd reading list faster than it was being trimmed down. The House continued to meet twice a day through Saturday afternoon trying to shorten the list. However, at the end of the day Saturday, the 3rd reading list posted for Monday contained 50 Bills more than they had two weeks ago.

However, next week the flow of bills out of most of the committees will come to a halt. The calendar dictates that committee bills must be moved out of committee in the original chamber by the end of the day April 13. In addition, the committee chairs from the majority party started canceling committee hearings for next week -- after the 13th -- to clear the calendar for some exceptionally long floor sessions.

Starting Thursday, the House will meet 8 to 10 hours a day just to vote on bills. House Speaker Kotek appears to be determined to clear the list and keep all the bills in the queue moving despite pleas from the Republicans that the focus should be placed on agency budget bills, wildfire relief and COVID-19.

Despite procedural tools use by the minority party such as reading of the bills in their entirety and lengthy floor speeches supporting and opposing bills, there is little the Republicans can do to stop the agenda of the super majority.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-12 10:10:58Last Update: 2021-04-12 10:44:11

Addresses public health concerns

On April 8th, after listening to spirited testimony, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) approved a floor pricing proposal for distilled spirits which increases the price of the lowest priced spirits sold in Oregon liquor stores.

The wine industry also provided the Commission an overview of its plan to recover from the state mandated lock-down and to return the industry to the growth trajectory it was on in 2019.

Earlier this year, in response to public health concerns around alcohol addiction, the OLCC proposed implementing a “floor” for the lowest priced spirits sold by the OLCC. In the weeks leading up to today’s Commission meeting, the agency received approximately 500 written comments about the proposal. The Commission framed the issue as balancing business interests with public health concerns.

During the mandated lock-down, the OLCC loosened alcohol regulations which have provided Oregonians with easier access to liquor. Liquor stores were deemed essential.

“We increased delivery and availability in the face of COVID,” said OLCC Executive Director Steve Marks. “We became intently aware of the State’s alcohol problem and the impact that alcohol was having on Oregon itself. We principally put this forward as an option because it’s what we could do on the public health front. We control the pricing policy.”

Public health advocates and addiction researchers testified in favor of proposed floor pricing citing research that shows increased prices drive down purchases.

“Increasing the price of alcohol is an effective,evidence based strategy that we can now take to reduce excessive alcohol use,”said Dr. Reginald Richardson,Chair of the Oregon Alcohol Drug and Policy Commission.

Liquor store owners voiced their support by pointing out that low priced distilled spirits are “loss leaders” that are favored by customers who have addiction issues.

However,the hospitality industry and business groups affiliated with alcohol licensees said floor pricing jeopardizes the hospitality industry’s fragile recovery. Opponents testified that they believe it’s the wrong time for increasing bar and restaurant operating costs.

“Now is not the time to make it more difficult for bars and restaurants to do business and serve customers. Let’s build on the good will of the accomplishments of the past year,” said Greg Astley from the Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association.

Commissioners raised concerns about other price hike proposals being discussed at the legislature and the impact on Oregon small businesses.

“We’re all concerned citizens on this Commission”, said Commission Chair Paul Rosenbaum. “We are certainly aware of the terrible and difficult circumstances facing restaurant and bar owners in this state. We’re also aware of the drug and alcohol addiction, as well in this state. So there’s competing factors.”

The Commissioners ultimately voted to approve floor pricing, which will take effect July 1, 2021.

Oregon wine industry representatives provided Commissioners with their plan to recover from COVID lock-downs and wildfire impacts, which they estimate reduced wine businesses’ revenues by about 20 percent. In fact, before the pandemic the industry was generating $7.21 billion in economic impact for the state and Oregon wines were continuing their ascent in world-class stature. Fortunately, grape growers were able to partner with Oregon State University to swiftly test whether wine grapes had been impacted by smoke from the wildfires enabling growers to make informed business decisions about their harvest.

To recover from the mandated state lock-down, the industry is launching a marketing campaign called “True Character” to bring consumers back to Oregon wines and tourists back to Oregon wineries. The industry expects wine tourism will initially be limited to short-distance in-state travelers, and expects the overall recovery to be gradual in relation to the post lock-down comeback.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-04-11 18:03:25Last Update: 2021-04-11 18:45:14

We’ve seen this process before, and seen it's results.

Finally citizens of Oregon have received some great news regarding the future of their representation in the Oregon Legislature and in Washington DC.

Once Every 10 years voter representation in both the State Legislature and in Washington DC is revisited. Lines are redrawn based on population changes obtained by the US census. The 2020 census appears to point to significant growth in Oregon’s population. Growth large enough to warrant adding an additional Congressional seat to Oregon’s representation in Washington DC. The process, however, has been in limbo from the very beginning due to the delay in census data availability.

The Oregon Supreme Court issued a ruling that granted the bipartisan legislative request to extend the timeline to finish the redistricting process. They will issue a writ of mandamus allowing the Legislature to have the first chance to come up with a redistricting plan. The revised deadlines would require an emergency special session and would give the Legislature until September 27 to enact a redistricting plan, ensuring it becomes effective by February 1, 2022.

The opinion, issued by Chief Justice Walters, will keep the process from being transferred to Secretary of State Shemia Fagan. Secretary of State Shemia Fagan opposed the Legislature retaining control of the process. However, the Oregon Supreme Court rejected her attempt to block their control, calling her legal arguments flawed.

Last year The Oregon League of Women Voters began an initiative petition aimed at ending political gerrymandering in Oregon. They sought to ask the voters to approve the creation of an independent citizens' redistricting commission for reapportioning Oregon's state legislative districts. Commissioners would have been selected by county officials. 83 percent of Democrats, 67 percent of Independents, and 60 percent of Republicans support independent redistricting, according to data shared by Norman Turrill, Chair of the People Not Politicians, during a recent House Special Committee on Redistricting hearing.

The House Republicans agree and continue to call for the Legislature to follow Washington and California by establishing its own independent redistricting commission. “Oregon needs to commit to a nonpartisan and transparent redistricting process,” said House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (HD39-Canby.) “Shockingly, we are the only state on the west coast that does not currently have an independent redistricting commission. In fact, we’re behind 26 other states in the country that have or are moving to an independent system this year. Oregonians deserve better, and they overwhelmingly support independent redistricting” she concluded in a press release.

What could have happened is that the redistricting task could have fallen to the Secretary of State, where the job gets done behind closed doors, without transparency. We've seen this process before, and seen it's results.

--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-04-11 10:16:07Last Update: 2021-04-09 10:32:20

Measure 11 removes the hidden biases that come into play

Proponents of eliminating of Ballot Measure 11 uniformly claim, without presenting any evidence whatsoever, that the measure has increased racial disparities in the justice system. Not only is this claim categorically false, but the exact opposite is true. Ballot Measure 11 has significantly improved racial disparities in felony sentencing and imprisonment in Oregon, and among some minority groups, has totally eliminated those disparities. Any assertion to the contrary is simply false.

Academics utilize a data tool called the Relative Rate Index to quantify disparities among demographic groups. The RRI measures the rate at which a demographic group appears in the particular category under study against the rate at which that demographic group appears in the general population. For instance, if a particular racial group constitutes 10% of the general population, but 20% of infant mortality deaths, an obvious disparity exists. That RRI ratio of 1:2 represents a significant issue for policy makers to address.

To analyze over-representation by race in the criminal justice system, data analysts use the Relative Rate Index to compare the general population percentage of a particular race or ethnic group to the percentage of the prison population by race. Since the advent of Ballot Measure 11 in 1995, racial disparities in the prison system have improved dramatically. Disparities for Blacks have been cut in half, and disparities among Hispanics have disappeared completely in Oregon. Whites, on the other hand, have been incarcerated in prison at increasing rates since Measure 11 was instituted.

The obvious conclusion is that a sentencing system that encourages a fixed sentence (contrary to what opponents claim, Measure 11 is not a completely mandatory sentencing law) removes the hidden biases that come into play in a subjective sentencing process. The Relative Rate Index data is clear. Because of Ballot Measure 11, racial disparities in violent felony sentencing have improved as follows:

Hispanic disparities. In 1994, Hispanics made up 3.97% of Oregon’s general population, but 10.41% of its prison population. Today, Hispanics constitute 13.4% of Oregon general population, but 13.2% of Oregon prison population. Not only have all Hispanic racial disparities been eliminated among prison inmates in Oregon, but Hispanics now represent a lower percentage of Oregon prison population than they do in Oregon’s general population. Justice system incarceration disparities for Hispanics in Oregon have been eliminated since the advent of Ballot Measure 11.

African-American disparities. In 1994, African-Americans made up 1.62% of Oregon’s general population, and today that figure is 2.20%. Using the RRI analysis for African-Americans in Oregon’s prison system, the RRI ratio in 1994 was 8.2:1. The ratio today is 4.2:1, meaning that justice system racial disparities among African-Americans have been cut in half since BM11 came into effect.

Native-American/Alaskan disparities. In 1994, Native-American/Alaska natives made up 1.35% of state general population, and today that figure is 1.80%. In 1994, justice system disparities for this group were 1.72:1. Today, that figure is 1.77:1, essentially unchanged.

White disparities. The white RRI ratio has increased from .787:1 in 1994 to .861:1 today. RRI data makes it clear that Measure 11 has increased the share of Oregon prison inmates who are white.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-10 18:40:32Last Update: 2021-04-10 21:40:13

Hospital capacity remains stable in the region

The Clackamas County Board of Commissioners has sent the following letter to Governor Kate Brown in response to the governor moving the county to the high-risk level under the state’s public health framework for COVID-19, which is effective Friday.

Dear Governor Brown:

Oregonians have sacrificed and lost much over the past year as they have fought through the COVID-19 pandemic. We are proud of our Clackamas County residents and businesses who have complied with your orders and who take protective measures every day, such as masking up and changing business operations.

It brings us great delight to see children back at school and the hum of school buses traveling down our streets. Thank you for allowing a return to in-person instruction and activities. We know this will help the mental health of our youth. This disease has greatly harmed our children and it is time for us to help them recover and thrive.

Our businesses have been safely operating in Moderate Risk since Feb. 26, while continuing to abide by OHA’s guidelines. They have continued to make every effort to work in a way that will help slow the spread of the virus, often at a cost to them. We were frustrated to learn on Tuesday that, by tomorrow, Clackamas County businesses will be mandated to cut back on capacity as we are moved to the High Risk category. Our understanding was that we would receive a two-week caution period before having our risk category changed. Three days’ notice to our businesses to prepare to cut capacity does not afford them the time necessary to plan for inventory reduction, staffing changes, and every day operation modifications. As an example, many of our restaurants have spent $10,000 - $20,000 in purchasing supplies and retraining and hiring employees that will be lost by this sudden change.

We know that reopening schools to in-person instruction, coupled with businesses bringing employees and customers back, results in COVID-19 cases rising. This is not new information and it is not surprising.

However, reopening then closing businesses, and moving kids from hybrid in-person to only virtual learning, would cause harm in addition to rising COVID-19 cases. The economic hardships will be felt by our communities for years.

We believe there is an opportunity to consider other factors when determining community risk level.

For example, in Clackamas County, we have identified many of our positive COVID-19 cases are generally contained to outbreaks connected to school activities outside of in-person instruction, such as small social gatherings. We have also found that very few are related to workplaces. Holding back the entire community and demanding that hundreds of businesses reduce capacity – and place more people back in the unemployment line – is not sustainable and causes additional harm.

We understand that hospital capacity was a factor in your recent decision to move us back to High Risk, but we must point out that our hospital capacity remains stable in the region. We fully understand the need to keep cases low to ensure we have enough hospital capacity, ICU beds and ventilators. Although cases are going up, as expected, we have successfully maintained capacity and been able to provide the needed services for our most severe cases. Hospital capacity cannot be understated. Please consider a region’s hospital capacity and outbreak sources before deciding to move a county into a higher risk level. Reducing business capacity due to case counts alone, when other public health metrics should be considered, is another setback to our entire community.

As more and more have access and receive the vaccine every day, we ask that the risk levels determined by the state include other factors. Please consider elements beyond how many cases per 100,000 people. For example, if the cases are contained to outbreaks, an entire community should not be punished. Outbreaks were once a metric for reopening Oregon in the past and can be again.

We are also concerned about the accelerated timeline for vaccine eligibility that does not match available vaccine supplies. We want to continue to uplift the need for vaccine allocations to be redistributed to the most populated areas in the state, including Clackamas County, that are still behind in providing access to community members that have been eligible for weeks and frustrated, especially our local frontline workers and small businesses.

Our residents have been through much – three declared disasters in 11 months. While our communities are resilient, many businesses and their employees are on precipice of collapse. We must also consider the impact to our lower socioeconomic groups. This is about economic justice for people. Please allow us the two week caution period and focus the efforts of education and enforcement on the populations where the spikes are occurring.

Clackamas County is committed to work collaboratively with the State to fight the spread of the virus. We ask you to take our feedback and recommendations to heart. We work closest with our most affected communities and can provide insight in what is working and what is not. We are available to further discuss these considerations further.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-10 18:32:52Last Update: 2021-04-10 18:40:32

Also robbed a donut shop with hatchet year ago

A man who threatened a driver with a hatchet is facing charges. He was charged in a similar crime nearly one year ago in the same city. Crime rates in Portland have been climbing since District Attorney Mike Schmidt's announcement to not prosecute some crimes in Multnomah County.

On Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 3:21p.m., Portland Central Precinct officers were called to a threat with weapon call near Northwest 20th Avenue and Northwest Northrop Street. As officers were responding, they learned that several callers were reporting someone swinging around a hatchet and hitting a car with it.

When officers arrived, a witness pointed out the suspect. They arrested Christopher L. James, 41, and seized the involved hatchet.

Investigating officers learned that James fixated on a subject sitting in a vehicle nearby. James, with hatchet in hand, ran towards the driver's side of the vehicle. As James approached, he raised the hatchet as if he was going to hit the caller who was seated in the vehicle. Fearing for his life, the caller started to drive off. As he did so, James struck the vehicle with the hatchet causing damage.

James was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center on charges of Attempted Assault in the Second Degree, Unlawful Use of a Weapon, and Menacing.

Officers used no force taking this armed suspect into custody.

Christopher L. James had also been arrested about one year prior, on Saturday, March 7, 2020 at 3:42a.m in the morning he robbed a donut shop with a hatchet.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-04-10 16:15:10Last Update: 2021-04-10 16:54:08

More about stealing freedoms than about COVID-19 protection

A new movement across the state is budding called Tore Says Oregon Peeps. Inspired by a Cleveland radio host of Tore Says, Tore Says Oregon Peeps. Inspired by a Cleveland radio host of Tore Says, Tore Maras is exposing deep state activities. What is getting a lot of attention with the Tore Says Oregon Peeps is “vaccine passports,” which mimics travel passports but requires citizens to show proof they have received a vaccination for COVID-19 in order to be allowed to enter an area or establishment.

New York is the first state to formally launch a “vaccine passport” program called “Excelsior Pass.” It allows residents to pull up a code on their phones to prove they have been vaccinated or have tested negative. Hawaii has adopted a “Safe Travels” passport. Amazon is also discussing using this as a platform to handle financial transactions and tracking people. After Tore Maras sent letters in Ohio, legislation was introduced to not allow entities to require disclosure of vaccination status or anything similar to vaccine passports.

Tore Says Oregon Peeps is trying to keep this issue out of Oregon. They sent two rounds of letters that layout case law and federal law for Oregonians that do not want to get the vaccine and prohibits discriminating against. The letters to the Attorney General with a copy to Governor Brown and legislators were sent alerting them that Oregon businesses, schools and other organizations are receiving misinformation on mandating vaccinations, having no authority to mandate use of vaccines, which are not yet fully approved by the FDA. Moreover, any form of discrimination against those choosing not to be vaccinated is in direct violation of state and federal law. Code 28 CFR § 36.105(b)(2) specifically lists human Immunodeficiency Virus infection (whether symptomatic or asymptomatic).

The letters demonstrate federal law prohibits private places of accommodation from discrimination against any person on the basis of their “physiological condition” which, by law, includes the present status of their immune system. In addition, employers are expressly prohibited from discriminating against employees on the basis of genetic information.

It is clear that the purpose for these passports is more about stealing freedoms than about COVID-19 protection. Otherwise, a certificate from a physician could establish whether you have had COVID-19 or a vaccine, so there is no need for the passport if that was truly the only intention, to say nothing of the fact that vaccination status is a personal healthcare decision, and should be covered by privacy laws.

Tore Says Oregon Peeps’ campaign is available for participation and have provided a draft letter to copy into an email and email addresses for those wishing to participate. You can also use their letter with the documentation, or use them for guidance.

“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.” Abe Lincoln

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-04-10 09:34:14Last Update: 2021-04-14 11:23:10

May be impossible to enforce

Yet another unnecessary burden may be placed on Oregonians if a new law is passed that has been proposed by an Oregon Democrat. The proposed legislation is related to vehicle headlight use.

Sponsored by Senator Lee Beyer (D-Eugene) SB 166 would require the use of motor vehicle headlights at all times when vehicle is being driven on highway.

Violations would be punished by maximum fine of $1,000.

The bill does provide exceptions for vehicles equipped with daytime running lights.

The issue of visibility seems to be the driving force behind the proposed law, but proponents may be overlooking the bigger issue of drivers just not paying attention.

Roman historian Publius Cornelius Tacitus once famously said: "The more corrupt the state, the more numerous the laws." Observers have noted this may be one of those instances where that saying again rings true.

Much documented testimony on record with the state legislature seems to indicate strong opposition to this legislation from Oregonians, and it's passage doesn't seem likely. However, the legislature is still operating with the public not allowed to participate in person at the Salem capitol building.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-04-09 11:14:36Last Update: 2021-04-09 12:42:53

Secretary of State Fagan

The Oregon Supreme Court has issued a decision that granted the bipartisan legislative request to extend the timeline to finish the redistricting process to September 27. The Constitution gives the Legislature authority to redraw legislative and congressional boundaries but that authority was put in jeopardy by delays in U.S. Census data.

The opinion, issued by Chief Justice Walters, would keep the process from the partisan Secretary of State and keep the process in the legislature. The Secretary of State, Shemia Fagan, opposed the Legislature, hoping to take control of the redistricting process. The Oregon Supreme Court rejected her partisan attempt, calling her legal arguments flawed.

“We have had a good working relationship among the Senate members of the committee,” Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend), vice-chair of the Redistricting Committee, said. “Election integrity and fair districts live to fight another day because of this decision. It ensures that we can continue to work together to ensure that Oregonians can pick their representatives fairly.”

The Supreme Court will issue a writ of mandamus allowing the Legislature to have the first chance to come up with a redistricting plan. The revised deadlines would require an emergency special session. It would give the Legislature until September 27 to enact a redistricting plan, ensuring it becomes effective by February 1, 2022.

The High Court said, in a summary document:

If it were possible for the State of Oregon to comply with all the requirements of Article IV, section 6, the Court explained, it would require that it do so. But here, where it is not possible for the state to create a reapportionment plan based on federal census data and still comply with the constitutionally prescribed deadlines, and where it is possible for the state to fulfill its paramount duties in compliance with modified deadlines, the Court concluded that it had authority to direct the state to comply with modified deadlines.

“Oregonians expect their district to be fairly drawn,” Senate Republican Leader, Fred Girod said. “The most important principles for Republicans are ‘One-Person-One-Vote’ and upholding the Voting Rights Act. Gerrymandering is unacceptable and by keeping this process in the Legislature, we have a chance to come to a bipartisan agreement to draw fair lines.”

The High Court restated the revised plan, with dates:

  • 1. If the Legislative Assembly enacts a plan, the following revised deadlines apply:
    • a. The Legislative Assembly will enact a plan on or before Monday, September 27, 2021, and may do so in an emergency session rather than its regular session.
    • b. Objections by electors are due by Monday, October 25, 2021.
      • i. Responses by the Legislative Assembly, Secretary of State, or others, as well as amicus briefs (discouraged) are due by Monday, November 8, 2021.
      • ii. Any reply briefs, though discouraged, are due by Monday, November 15, 2021.
    • c. If the Supreme Court determines that the initial plan complies with applicable law:
      • i. A Supreme Court opinion approving the plan will be filed by Monday, November 22, 2021, and
      • ii. The reapportionment plan will become effective January 1, 2022, for purposes of Or Const, Art IV, § 6(6)(b), only.
    • d. If the Supreme Court determines that the initial plan requires corrections, a Supreme Court opinion to that effect will be filed by Monday, December 6, 2021, and the plan will be sent to the Secretary of State for changes.
      • i. The revisions by the Secretary of State are due by Monday, January 17, 2022.
      • ii. The Supreme Court will approve the revisions or make any necessary additional corrections by Monday, January 31, 2022.
  • 2. If the Legislative Assembly does not enact a plan by September 27, 2021, the following revised deadlines apply:
    • a. If the Legislative Assembly fails to enact a plan by September 27, 2021, the Secretary of State’s plan is due by Monday, October 18, 2021.
    • b. Objections by electors are due by Monday, November 15, 2021.
      • i. Responses by the Legislative Assembly, Secretary of State, or others, as well as amicus briefs (discouraged) are due by Monday, November 29, 2021.
      • ii. Any reply briefs, though discouraged, are due by Monday, December 6, 2021.
    • c. If the Supreme Court determines that the initial plan complies with applicable law:
      • i. A Supreme Court opinion approving the plan will be filed by Monday, December 13, 2021.
      • ii. The reapportionment plan will become effective January 1, 2022, for purposes of Or Const, Art IV, § 6(6)(b), only.
    • d. If the Supreme Court determines that the initial plan requires corrections, a Supreme Court opinion to that effect will be filed by Monday, December 27, 2021, and the plan will be returned to the Secretary of State for changes.
      • i. The revisions by the Secretary of State are due by Monday, January 24, 2022.
      • ii. The Supreme Court will approve the revisions or make any necessary additional corrections by Monday, February 7, 2022.

    --Staff Reports

    Post Date: 2021-04-09 09:21:16Last Update: 2021-04-09 09:57:42

Some Oregonians are still rebuilding their lives

The Oregon House of Representatives passed a bipartisan bill to help Oregonians who own property that was damaged or completely destroyed by wildfires.

The new law will authorize tax collectors in a county covered by a state of emergency declared by the Governor, due to wildfire or other act of God, to prorate taxes imposed on a property that was destroyed or damaged, putting more cash into the pockets of Oregonians who need it to recover from devastating losses.

Republicans also expedited the passage of the bill by waiving the requirement to read it in full on the floor before voting. Republicans have not been granting this waiver of the constitutional requirement during this session. Work on wildfire relief measures began during a special session in the fall of 2020 to immediately respond to historic wildfires that ignited during Labor Day weekend.

“I have met with people in my community that literally lost everything to these fires,” said House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby.) “The current process for relief is not working for those who lost their homes and so much more. We have to do everything we can to focus on supporting these Oregonians who are in this position to help them rebuild their lives. I know that this bill can make a big difference, and I hope it is just the beginning.”

At the end of March, House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby) issued a call for the Legislature to refocus its priorities on issues like wildfire relief that continue to be an immediate need for Oregonians.

HB 2341 was passed with unanimous support in the House.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-08 20:10:19Last Update: 2021-04-08 20:19:21

It becomes clear the penalties are particularly aimed at white people.

SB 289 was introduced as a study of laws relating to environmental equity. But, Senator Lee Beyer’s Committee On Energy and Environment saw fit to replace it. Not all committee members agreed with this move, but not the ones you would think. Thus far the session has produced bill after bill expanding the rights of inmates, early release, and benefits for rehabilitation. Along comes the amended version of SB 289 prohibiting a person convicted of a first or second degree bias crime committed on water or public land used for outdoor recreation from entering or remaining in any building, land or water of the state used for outdoor recreation for a period of at least six months, but not longer than five-years in addition to any other penalty.

When a bill is replaced, known as “gut and stuff,” the content being "stuffed" has to fall within the "relating to" clause. Finding the connection to “environmental equity” seems absent. Since it is claimed that the majority of convictions are people of color, isn't this a racist concept that goes against the equity agenda?

Digging deeper into the “bias crime,” it becomes clear the penalties are particularly aimed at white people.

In ORS 166.155 to 166.165, a person commits a bias crime in the second degree if the person intentionally subjects another person to offensive physical contact because of the person’s perception, perceived threatening alarm, or tampers or interferes with property, having no right to do so with the intent to cause substantial inconvenience to another person because the person’s perception of the other person is race, color, religion, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability or national origin; and it is a first degree crime if intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causes these actions.

SB 289 not only seems discriminatory, but. ORS 166.155 should be of concern to every person when perceptions are used for conviction of a crime. What does it say about our liberties when you can’t read Huck Finn or Little House on the Prairie or the Bible in the open by the camp fire?

The bill heads to the Senate Floor for a vote.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-04-08 18:19:33Last Update: 2021-04-08 18:50:27

Vaccinated individuals test positive for COVID-19

The Oregon Health Authority has finally identified and released the count of 168 COVID-19 vaccine breakthrough cases, including 3 deaths, as of April 2, 2021.

Breakthrough cases are when vaccinated individuals test positive for the virus.

OHA public health officials say it’s a reminder that no vaccine is 100% effective, and vaccine breakthrough cases will occur.

These cases have been reported in 25 counties and all health care preparedness regions.
  • Region 1: 76
  • Region 2: 29
  • Region 3: 27
  • Region 5: 9
  • Region 6: 4
  • Region 7: 17
  • Region 9: 6
OHA is not reporting the regions in which the deaths took place.

Vaccine breakthrough cases are defined as instances in which an individual received a positive COVID-19 test result at least 14 days after the final dose of any COVID-19 vaccine series.

Many of the vaccine breakthrough cases identified experienced asymptomatic infection and were tested for other reasons. Eleven percent of the vaccine breakthrough cases were hospitalized within the 30 days following their positive test, and most occurred in people older than 65 or with underlying health conditions. The three deaths represent fewer than 2% of the vaccine breakthrough cases, and none of the vaccine breakthrough cases were associated with a COVID-19 variant.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-04-08 17:32:59Last Update: 2021-04-08 18:58:02

Make childcare more affordable and accessible

The House Committee on Early Childhood yesterday passed four bills with bipartisan support to make childcare more affordable and accessible for families, provide broader and more immediate access to paid family leave and address a safety concern to protect infant lives.

Three of the bills were sponsored by Representative Jack Zika (R-Redmond) as either a chief or regular sponsor.

“2020 caused so many disruptions for families because of the pandemic and government-mandated stay-at-home orders,” said Rep. Zika. “Families need more options for affordable and accessible childcare as they continue to cope with working from home or dealing with prolonged closures of their previous childcare facilities. The additional access to paid family leave will also provide peace of mind that can be a big help as people continue facing many unknowns.”

Representative Boomer Wright (R-Coos Bay) and Representative Suzanne Weber (R-Tillamook) also voted to pass all four proposals out of the committee.

“I’m pleased to join my colleagues in passing these important bills,” added Rep. Wright. “Our job this session should be helping Oregonians who are still facing severe hardship brought on by a year of the pandemic, natural disasters and more. These proposals represent the kind of work we should be doing to make things easier for them.”

“Accessible childcare and paid family leave are so important for providing stability in family life,” said Rep. Weber. “Whatever we can do as legislators to make life easier for Oregonians should be our top priorities.”
  • HB 3109: Reduces restrictions to allow for additional childcare locations.
  • HB 2484: Allows more dwellings to be used as family childcare homes.
  • HB 2474: Includes closure of childcare providers or schools due to a public health emergency as a qualifying purpose to take paid family leave. Reduces the amount of time before an employee can take family leave from 180 days to 30 days.
  • HB 3379: Bans the sale of crib bumper pads in Oregon that have caused infant deaths.
At the end of March, House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby) issued a call for the Legislature to refocus its priorities to help Oregonians recover from negative effects brought on by the pandemic. Issues such as lack of adequate childcare continues to be an immediate need.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-08 12:26:49Last Update: 2021-04-08 12:42:50

Brought to you by Kate Brown’s Racial Justice Council

In a House Committee On Economic Recovery and Prosperity meeting on April 6, 2021, Oregon legislators discussed the ramifications of passing HB 2266, a bill which would provide economic recovery loans for Oregonians, but only if their skin is a certain color.

Representative John Lively (D-Springfield) is the sponsor of the legislation which allegedly would direct the Oregon Business Development Department to study the use of economic development methods for purpose of assisting businesses, but is done with targeted outreach so that only a minority owned business would see the advantage.

While discussing the implications of such a unconstitutional law, Representative Kim Wallan (R-Medford) asked the committee if these unconstitutional race-based requirements might be removed in the spirit of reaching as many struggling businesses as possible.

The answer that the Republican legislator eventually receives comes from Leah Horner from the Office of Governor Kate Brown, and may seem disappointing to observers noting the regressive nature of racial segregation.

She simply states that Kate Brown's Racial Justice Council decided that the bill is intended to be written exactly as it is, including the unconstitutional racial elements, and they intend it to be passed as is.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-04-07 20:25:47Last Update: 2021-04-08 11:29:38

Unprecedented level of lurking in backroom deal

A proposal that would replicate a portion of one of the most contentious issues in recent years was finalized with special interests without ever publishing the language for the public.

A bill amendment to replicate part of cap-and-trade, one of the most contentious legislative issues in recent years, was drafted and then discussed during a committee hearing without ever providing the language to the public beforehand or knowledge that it would be discussed during the committee.

The House Energy and Environment Committee allowed public testimony on an unpublished amendment to HB 2021, introduced by Pam Marsh (D-Ashland) who also chairs the committee. The amendment introduces sweeping legislation that seeks to impose costly regulations on the state’s supply of electricity. Special interest groups testified at length in support of a “-5 amendment” that was not made publicly available to everyday Oregonians. Republican lawmakers on the committee received the draft language at 11am during session before the 1pm hearing, leaving them little time to read the amendment. Republicans criticized the move as the antithesis of transparency and the exact opposite of how the legislative process should be conducted.

Despite an hour and a half of prepared testimonies from special interests, the amendment will only receive a half hour of testimony on Wednesday now that it is public knowledge.

Prior to the start of the 2021 Legislative Session, the majority insisted that it would be the most transparent session despite keeping the public out of the building. This recent move by Democrats to quietly replicate a portion of cap-and-trade with an amendment behind closed doors calls that claim into question.

“The last thing we should do during this precarious pandemic session is conceive, draft and finalize legislation behind closed doors,” said House Republican Leader Christine Drazan. “Discussing a contentious proposal in a committee without ever providing it to the public beforehand is not transparent. It’s a false formality with the intention of passing laws that have zero public input. That’s breaking a promise we made to Oregonians ahead of this virtual session.”

While representatives from environmental justice organizations, investor-owned utility companies and even Democratic members of the committee repeatedly expressed support for an unpublished -5 amendment, members of the public were left in the dark.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-07 19:42:03Last Update: 2021-04-07 20:07:50

Do you remember the scam of college textbooks?

The Higher Education Coordinating Commission is pleased to share a new report submitted to the Oregon Legislature showing that Oregon’s statewide investment in textbook affordability is having a significant impact on making postsecondary education more affordable. The report analyzes the impact of the state’s investment from 2015 to the present on developing and promoting high-quality, no-cost and low-cost course materials -- Open Educational Resources -- for use in Oregon’s public colleges and universities. In short, the program provides modular online resources in place of expensive, cumbersome and environmentally impactful dead-tree textbooks.

Amy Hofer, coordinator of statewide open education library services for Open Oregon Educational Resources, says, “We expect that every grant dollar spent by the state will translate to six dollars saved by students in the current budget cycle. Faculty, librarians, and campus store managers are aware of the financial pressures facing students and are increasingly interested in using open educational resources or other low-cost alternatives to commercial textbooks. Affordable textbooks are especially important with students struggling to meet basic needs as a result of new hardships brought on by the pandemic.”

Kyle Thomas, director of legislative and policy affairs for the HECC, says, “Oregon’s forward-looking investment in expanding OER is successfully reducing the unexpected high costs that far too many students face with textbook and course materials. For every course that this investment supports in shifting to OER, hundreds of students can be impacted over many years. We commend the faculty, administrators, and our partners at Open Oregon Education Resources for their innovative work for students, and we look forward to continuing this momentum.”

The report also summarizes a 2019 analysis of 19 public community college and university course schedules, describing the impact of courses being designated no-cost or low-cost, a requirement imposed by legislation in 2015. In 2017-19, 12 percent of courses at the reporting institutions were designated as no-cost or low-cost, representing an estimated savings of $34 million for over 375,000 students in those two academic years. In addition, Oregon community colleges significantly reduced the estimated cost of course materials for transfer degrees during the four years between 2015-19.

Oregon is a national leader in open education, with a well-developed community of practice around OER development and implementation. In addition to the grant funding, a new development in this work is external funding from the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation for 2020-2022, enabling Open Oregon Educational Resources to develop a statewide professional development course: the Equity & Open Education Faculty Cohort Model. This professional development course, designed by library faculty member Jen Klaudinyi at Portland Community College, is now available to faculty to help them consider open educational practices with an equity lens, including universal design, cultural relevance, and diverse perspectives. The next cohort will convene during summer term.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-07 19:07:19Last Update: 2021-04-07 19:19:06

Bills with negative consequences for Oregonians, they claim

In an effort to focus on the issues most critical to recovery and stabilization, Republicans in the Oregon House of Representatives last week announced that they would waive the readings of budget-related bills to expedite their passage and the critical funding that they provide for communities across the state.

However, Republicans today stated that they are still committed to using legislative tools at their disposal to voice their opposition on several contentious bills moving forward that would have long-lasting negative consequences for Oregonians.

“It’s our job in the minority party to provide a critical check on the balance of power in the Legislature so that we aren’t passing bills drafted on the fly that would have serious unintended consequences for our communities,” said House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby.) “Several proposals this year have been rushed through committees despite serious opposition from stakeholders and citizens who face hurdles navigating the virtual testimony process.”

Contentious bills moving through the Legislature include:
  • HB 2457: Disregards a commitment made by Democrats and Republicans in Congress by taxing paycheck protection program loans that Oregon businesses received in 2020. These loans kept more than 600,000 Oregonians employed, allowing them to support themselves and their families, and gave the state a double benefit of additional income taxes and fewer people claiming unemployment benefits. Retroactively taxing this money now is the opposite of what we should be doing.
  • HB 2942: Allows for convicted criminals to work in K-12 schools with kids even if their history includes manufacturing and/or delivering hard drugs like cocaine, heroin and meth or prostitution – including crimes targeting children within 1,000 feet of a school.
  • Repealing Measure 11: Three of four remaining bills in the House and Senate would repeal many parts of the voter-approved Measure 11. The proposals are so alarming that it prompted eight Oregon District Attorneys to issue a joint press release denouncing the ideas that would return us to the days “when a rapist would merely receive a probationary slap on the wrist.”
  • HJR 13: Dramatically increases property taxes for Oregon homeowners.
“We are worried that the majority party’s agenda is disconnected from what people need right now. Its policies would kill jobs, make schools and communities less safe, and raise the cost of living in Oregon,” added Leader Drazan. “With the people’s Capitol closed to them, they need us to work on fundamental priorities: balancing the budget, supporting public health, recovering from natural disasters and fixing the damage done by the shutdowns for our kids and communities.”

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-07 18:33:05Last Update: 2021-04-07 20:17:03

“The remaining gaps are in the BIPOC communities”

In 2009, the Legislature passed HB 2116, establishing the Health Care for All Oregon Children (Healthy Kids) program that made healthcare coverage available to children 0-18 whose family earned up to 300 percent of the federal poverty level.

The in 2017, SB 558, Cover All Kids, passed and extended coverage to all children residing in Oregon, regardless of immigration status, whose families fell below 300 percent of the federal poverty level. According to the Oregon Health Authority, at the end of the 2017-19 biennium, nearly 5,900 children had enrolled in Cover All Kids program.

In March, Governor Brown introduced HB 2164 which she referred to as “Cover All People Program”. The legislation came out of the Racial Justice Council Health Equity Committee. “All Oregonians must have quality, affordable healthcare regardless of who they are or where they live”. The Governor told the committee. “94% of Oregonians and 100% of children currently have access to healthcare, but the remaining gaps are in the BIPOC communities”. HB 2164 and the -3 amendment would work to close that gap.

HB 2164 was a placeholder bill until the hearing where the 14 page -3 amendments were introduced by Representative Salinas (D-Lake Oswego). By modifying the original language of the bill from Health Care for All Oregon Children Program to the Cover All People Program, it gets at the hear of the Governors desired changes. “Cover All People is a program to provide authorization for a State based Oregon health plan which would include coverage to medically underserved people for example undocumented adults, DACA recipients and legal permanent residents” she noted.

The Federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) passed in March of 2010, sometimes referred to as Obamacare, has eligibility requirements that exclude many people living in Oregon from access. It was pointed out by the Oregon Center for Public Policy in written testimony that “Latinos comprise Oregon’s largest group of immigrants. Because of exclusionary health insurance structures based on immigration status, Latinos have one of the highest uninsured rates among racial and ethnic groups in the state”. Indeed, the eligibility requirement to access the ACA program are that the individual must be currently living in the United States, be a US citizen or legal resident and not be incarcerated. The -3 amendment to HB2164 works around the ACA. SECTION 1 of the proposed amendment would eliminate that Federal barrier. The changes ORS 414.231(2) would now read:

“The Cover All People program is established to make affordable, accessible health care available to all residents in this state, regardless of immigration status. The program provides medical assistance, funded in whole or in part by Title XIX of the Social Security Act, by the State Children’s Health Insurance Program under Title XXI of the Social Security Act or by moneys appropriated or allocated for that purpose by the Legislative Assembly”.

Title XIX of the Social Security Act, more commonly known as Medicaid, provides health care to individuals who have low incomes, including persons who are blind or disabled. The only non-citizens covered are those that are lawfully admitted for permanent residence, and those admitted as refugees.

The Health Insurance program under the Federal Title XXI Act is to be used to assist states in initiating and expanding children's health assistance programs to uninsured, low-income children. This program also does not cover noncitizen adults either. Therefore, the change to the program proposed under the -3 amendments would most likely be funded by moneys appropriated or allocated for that purpose by the Legislative Assembly, as stated in Section 1 (2):

Eligibility for the pilot program would be limited to Oregonians under 138% of the poverty level, 190% for pregnant women. As a portion of her introduction, Governor Brown stated that HB 2164 and the -3 amendment are “really smart economic policy”. Unfortunately, as of press time, Legislative Fiscal had yet to produce a Fiscal impact statement which would show the estimated economic impact of the policy to the State General Fund.

HB 2164 and the -3 amendment are scheduled for a work session on April 8, 2021 at 3:15pm in the House Committee on Health Care.

--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-04-07 18:21:45Last Update: 2021-04-07 20:05:53

GOP bill gives students foundations in political processes and institutions

The Senate has approved SB 513 today, which would require Oregon high school students to take a semester of civics education before graduating. While the Oregon Department of Education already has standards for civics and government courses, SB 513 would carve out dedicated class time to focus on the principles of America’s and Oregon’s political institutions.

“This is an important and timely piece of legislation,” said Senate Republican Leader, Fred Girod (R-Lyons). “The past year has shown how government decision-making can deeply impact lives and livelihoods – for better or for worse. As kids return to school, it's important they understand the ins and outs of how decisions get made and how they can be involved. This is a good, bipartisan bill that I urge our colleagues in the House to pass.”

SB 513 has broad support from teachers, leading Oregon businesses and organizations, government officials, college and university faculty, and concerned citizens nearly 600 of whom have signed letters calling for its passage.

“The broad, diverse support we are seeing for the Civics Education Act is an acknowledgment of the importance of giving young Oregonians the foundations they need to participate in our democracy,” said Erin Esparza, Executive Director of the Classroom Law Project, a non-profit organization committed to preparing Oregon students to become engaged and involved participants in the democratic process. “We are living in a time where nearly one-third of Americans are unable to name any branches of government. Yet, Oregon is one of only 11 states that do not currently require a civics education class for graduation. It's time to do better by our students, our state, and our democracy.”

SB 513 passed by a 25-3 vote and now heads to the House of Representatives for further consideration.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-07 12:29:31Last Update: 2021-04-07 12:47:53

What if Republicans were back in control of the House?

House Republicans are currently slowing down the Oregon Legislature which is trying to rush passing more than 4,000 wide-ranging bills in a pandemic session. I felt it was important to explain the reasoning behind this while addressing some of the concerns that the media portrays as well as the concerns from my colleagues in the House Democrat caucus.

I believe we are all familiar now with the difference between the Constitutional requirement to “read the bills” in their entirety and the traditional “waiving” or “suspending the rule” on reading. What may not be known is the “why” behind the reading of the bills or the suspension of the rules.

While most bills will have bipartisan consensus like the budget, there are still about 10 percent of the proposals that are partisan, and I believe could make life far worse for Oregonians. This bipartisanship is something Oregonians can be proud of but unfortunately the media does not often report on this important fact. The media constantly reports on the 10% or so of the bills that are controversial. When one party is in a majority or even more a supermajority, those 10% can be very contentious. I am asked often by my colleagues from across the aisle why we won’t suspend the rules when what we are currently voting on is not controversial. It is precisely the 10% that creates the need for a way to “slow down the process”. The statement is often made “this is the will of Oregon voters, they put us in the majority”. That may be true, but let’s turn the tables for a moment…

What if Republicans were back in control of the House? I would assume the minority party would do everything in their power to stop what they would consider to be extreme, partisan legislation, including the reading of the bills and even the nuclear option: walk out, which they’ve used before.

This past year has been a tough one for Oregonians. They need a unified Legislature to provide them with immediate help on the most pressing issues they’re facing. That’s what Republicans are calling for, and that’s why we will use every legislative tool at our disposal to encourage this kind of bipartisan consensus on relief measures.

No legislator was elected to this position based on that 10% of the bills. No legislator when campaigning really proposed any of the 10% controversial bills. We each were elected because we were able to connect with the voters who chose us because we represented their values better than our opponents did. I believe it was because of the 90% of legislation that passes out of this chamber. I would hope that, especially in a pandemic session, we all would keep our eye on the prize of helping to heal Oregon. Not promote divisive legislation promoted by special interest groups that is not important to the vast majority of Oregonians who only believe and desire that we should all work together to help our state.

--State Representative Bill Post

Post Date: 2021-04-06 21:06:37Last Update: 2021-04-06 21:09:43

Keys on long-term infrastructure projects, workforce development, and jumpstarting job recovery

House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby) released the following statement outlining the House Republican recommendation for spending Oregon’s portion of the federal American Rescue Plan Act funds.

“After a difficult year for Oregon, it’s time to help every corner of the state recover and rebuild. While specific issues related to COVID-19 have their own source of relief funding, the Legislature should use these federal dollars for restoring Oregon’s natural environments, job recovery, infrastructure projects, and returning Oregon to long-term economic stability. These investments will bring all Oregonians lasting benefits across the state.

We must resist creating short-term spending obligations that will not help us rebuild our state, and that Oregon taxpayers will not be able to sustain once the money is gone.

The following projects are how Oregon can start rebuilding for long-term recovery.
  • Invest in Oregon’s natural environment
    • Restart the reforestation tax credits to regrow Oregon forests that burned during the historic 2020 wildfires
    • Manage overgrown forests with Oregon’s “Good Neighbor” authority to prevent future fires and smoke pollution
    • Upgrade Oregon’s wildland firefighting equipment
    • Continue to transition away from older, outdated diesel engines
  • Promote workforce development education opportunities
    K-12 education has the benefit of specifically allocated federal dollars to address learning gaps that kids experienced during the pandemic. ARPA funds can help higher education and workforce development opportunities recover in turn with the following investments:
    • Local career academies
    • Workforce development programs at community colleges
    • STEM higher education career training programs
  • Jumpstart job recovery
    • Regional economic development grants
    • Restaurant and hospitality industry assistance
    • Downtown districts assistance
  • Invest in critical infrastructure projects
    The future of the current Administration’s infrastructure package is uncertain. These are some Oregon projects that can launch with ARPA funds to start the recovery now:
    • Bypass bridges to reduce congestion
    • Critical highway repair and improvements
    • Utility infrastructure connections
    • Water and sewer systems
    • Dam restorations
    • Rail and transit systems
    • Broadband access for more Oregon communities
  • Save for the future
    These federal funds are an opportunity to build up our flexible reserves so we can prepare for future expenses. This will ensure the state continues to rebuild while the economy slowly recovers, and we can shift the burden off Oregon taxpayers. This relief from the federal government is an opportunity to make a lasting difference for our state. It’s time to rebuild Oregon.”
Public hearings to discuss the federal dollars for Oregon will be held by the Joint Ways and Means Committee the weeks of April 12 and April 19.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-06 14:06:18Last Update: 2021-04-06 14:17:31

Now it includes an accelerated time table for state purchase of zero emission vehicles

As state government prepares to pave the way toward a kinder, gentler, greener planet -- one that includes electric modes of transportation as well as the subsidies that accompany them, Governor Kate Brown has requested that HB 2027 be introduced this session.

On the one hand, this bill looks pretty harmless. It allows the Oregon Department of Administrative Services to establish boundaries in Salem where department manages parking facilities and to establish rules for parking rates. It also allows the department to establish by written policy low-emission vehicles available for purchase by state agencies. Remember, this is only the parking that is operated by the State.

However, the House Committee on General Government adopted an amendment which changes operative date from January 1, 2029, to January 1, 2025, for the law requiring agencies to purchase light-duty vehicles that are zero-emission vehicles whenever possible.

This change was supported by three environmental groups, Climate Solutions, The Oregon Environmental Council and Forth, which submitted a letter of testimony:

We support the proposed changes provided in HB 2027 to clarify the role of DAS in setting meter rates in capitol area parking facilities and discouraging single occupancy vehicles. However, we also propose the bill be amended to update the policy for state agencies to transition to electric and zero emission light duty vehicles.

This change will have the effect of driving up costs to the state for acquisition and maintenance of these vehicles. It is not known if the this bill was created for the purpose of being a vehicle for this amendment, or if the bill was located because it's "relating to" clause could be used by the people who wanted the amendment.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-06 11:56:57Last Update: 2021-04-06 11:57:16

Though, as of this publication, it’s still not on the website

We previously reported that an amendment to HB 2021 was widely discussed in committee, though the text of the amendment was not made public, nor shared with all committee members. This is certainly a high breach of transparency, especially since the amendment is so substantive.

Though the 43 page -5 amendment to HB 2021 has still not been posted on the legislative website, we've been able to find a copy of it and have provided a link to it.

The amendment is the basis for a Cap-and-Trade plan for Oregon -- a similar proposal that was cause for the Republican walk-out in 2020.

Some have viewed this as a less-than-good-faith effort of Representative Pam Marsh (D-Ashland), who is both the Chief Sponsor of the bill, as well as the Chair of the House Committee on Energy and Environment, where the bill is being heard.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-06 11:23:14Last Update: 2021-04-06 11:51:12

County will have to pay for their opponents

Yamhill County has been involved in a very disputed battle over a trail which never came to be, but was to be called the Yamhelas Westsider Trail. The dispute over the trail arguably played a part in one of the three Yamhill County Commissioners not being re-elected, changing the balance of power on the commission.

In an unusual move seldom seen, the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals awarded almost $50,000 attorney’s fees to Wellington Law Group in the case of Van Dyke vs. Yamhill County. Wellington Law represented a group of plaintiff farmers who sued the County to stop construction of a bridge on an abandoned rail line which the County intended as a future transportation corridor.

The County had been previously remanded by LUBA because their planned bike path/walking path/horse trail could not qualify under land use laws. Those laws prohibit conditional uses on land zone exclusively for agriculture if the conditional use cannot pass an agricultural impact study. The County attempted a study that clearly showed the conditional use was not compatible with farm practices.

In a sham declaration of compliance the County continued pursuit of the trail even under remand. One retired Commissioner and current Commissioner Casey Kulla were the driving force behind the illegal efforts, and both have been rebuked by LUBA. They received the necessary backing from County Counsel Todd Sadlo and former County Administrator Laura Tschabold. The local paper consistently lent moral support to the misguided in this series of events. The Capitol Press did a good job of reporting both sides of the argument. “This has been a real test of property rights” declared John Van Dyke, “we’re very pleased that LUBA has provided this unusual rebuke to officials attempts to circumvent the law”.

--Tom Hammer

Post Date: 2021-04-06 09:25:41Last Update: 2021-04-06 09:57:54

The party of science passing the buck around on COVID-19 breakthrough cases

At a recent virtual press conference, Lisa Balick a reporter from KOIN News asks what should be a simple question -- how many breakthrough cases do we have? A breakthrough case is one in which a vaccinated person gets the disease.

After all, this isn't something elusive, like an asymptomatic transmission or a problem with collection of data across county lines. Once a case is confirmed by a health care professional, it's not hard to find out if that person was vaccinated. Additionally, they can't be serious when they are suggesting that patient privacy is an issue. No one cares who exactly has a breakthrough case. People only care about how many breakthrough cases there are.

Balick set's up her question simply:

"State across the country, including Washington, are informing the public about the number of breakthrough cases -- in other words, getting COVID after being fully vaccinated. I was told last week that OHA won't provide that information due to privacy, but without providing identifying information, will Oregon provide the number of breakthrough cases to keep the public aware that the vaccine is not 100% effective, but also to encourage people to get tested if they have symptoms after getting the vaccine?"

The answer from those people who claim to be the party of science, is pretty much "go away." They didn't want to provide the data and tried to play the "privacy" card and when that didn't work, they took a page out of the current playbook: "We'll look into that and circle back."

Transparency builds trust and if the number of breakthrough cases is indeed very small, make the number known.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-04-06 08:35:33Last Update: 2021-04-06 10:38:09

Suspect in multiple firebomb attacks

A suspect has been arrested in Indianapolis, Indiana, related to multiple firebomb attacks on police officers in Portland, Oregon in 2020.

The Portland Police Bureau Arson Unit, Portland Fire and Rescue Fire Investigators, the Multnomah County District Attorney's Office, Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives , and Federal Bureau of Investigation have been investigating uses of firebombs, also known as Molotov Cocktails, used against police during riots in the summer and fall of 2020.

On Friday, April 2, 2021, 24-year-old Malik Muhammed was arrested in Indianapolis on multiple warrants, including Attempted Aggravated Murder, Attempted Murder in the first degree, Attempted Murder in the second degree, Unlawful Manufacture of a Destructive Device, Unlawful Use of a Weapon, Unlawful Possession of a Firearm, Unlawful Use of a Weapon, and Unlawful Possession of a Loaded Firearm in Public.

Investigators were assisted in serving the arrest and search warrants by the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and FBI.

The investigation implicated Muhammed in significant incidents of violence and destruction. Muhammed threw the firebomb that scorched the uniform of a police officer on September 23, 2020 near the intersection of Southwest 2nd Avenue and Southwest Main Street, in Portland.

Muhammed was responsible for throwing an incendiary device, which did not ignite, at police officers at the Penumbra Kelly Building, 4735 East Burnside Street, on September 21, 2020. Muhammed was responsible for tens of thousands of dollars of damage to windows in downtown Portland, including at the Oregon Historical Society, on October 11, 2021.

"I am grateful to the investigators who spent many hours over the last few months following up these violent attacks against police officers and the community," said Chief Chuck Lovell. "I am also grateful to the brave officers who put themselves in harm's way serving this community. More investigations are underway. Anyone who thinks they can get away with trying to murder police officers and destroy this city should think again."

Muhammed will be the subject of an extradition hearing, to be scheduled.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-04-05 23:33:02Last Update: 2021-04-05 23:40:06

The Oregon State Bar exists in order to protect the public

Attorney Erik Graeff Not Disbarred for Violent Felony The Oregon State Bar’s failure to protect the public A few days before Christmas in 2017, Portland-area attorney Erik Graeff exchanged several heated emails with Terrance Hogan, another attorney with whom Graeff was working on a case. Graeff spent the rest of the afternoon drinking beer in a local bar, apparently blacking out but still managing to drive 30 minutes through rush hour traffic to Hogan’s office in Beaverton. There, Graeff fired six rounds from his 9 mm handgun at the building. One of Graeff’s bullets shattered a window and missed the firm’s office manager by mere inches.

The crime was shocking in and of itself, but it also should have had immediate consequences for Graeff’s professional law license. After all, an attorney who believes that guns are an appropriate means of settling legal disputes is a clear and direct danger to the public, whom the Oregon State Bar is supposed to protect.

However, the Bar refused to immediately suspend Graeff’s law license while the criminal investigation played out. And even worse news for the Oregon public is that the Bar had ample warning about Graeff’s threats and acts of violence, including complaints that they had received from before the shooting. The complaints that the Bar ignored are disturbing.

On August 24, 2017, the Bar received notice that Graeff had physically assaulted his former client’s wife earlier that very day: Graeff had “laid hands on her and shoved her against a wall,” which resulted in “visible injuries” and the filing of a police report.

Just a few months later, in November, another complaint against Graeff came in to the Bar, from former clients Chelsie Buchanan and Raymond Stull. The pair provided the Bar with an email from Graeff in which Graeff threatened to “simply break” Stull’s “goddamn face,” and announced that he kept licensed firearms in his office, “so you have been warned.”

In early February, 2018—after the Beaverton shooting, but before his arrest for that incident—the Bar received yet another complaint about Graeff. That victim forwarded a threatening and profane email he had received from Graeff, which stated: “You listen to me you son of a bitch. I have had it with bad reviews from people whose case I don't take. I was attentive and generous with you. Take your ing fraudulent review down, or I will show you a real legal battel [sic]."

In the two months after his arrest in late February 2018, the Bar received two more complaints about Graeff. One client alleged that Graeff had intimidated and scared her with abusive language, telling her to “shut the f up” and “forget [she] ever heard” that a court date had been scheduled in her matter. Another client said that Graeff had threatened him and his wife over the phone.

Even after this eight-month avalanche of claims about Graeff’s violent threats and conduct, it took the Bar another nine months to suspend him—seventeen months in total—and the Bar did so only after Graeff had pleaded guilty to criminal charges related to the shooting incident.

In other words, the Bar acted only after their licensee got his due process, and, moreover, the Bar acted only after another of their licensees, attorney Hogan, had been injured by Graeff. To boil that down even further, the Bar showed no concern over Graeff’s violent and abusive threats to his non-lawyer complainants, and the Bar only acted after Graeff turned violent and abusive against another lawyer.

Even worse, almost all of the complaints against Graeff were dismissed outright by the Bar, and the single one that did proceed—that of former clients Buchanan and Stull—went forward on charges unrelated to Graeff’s violent threats against them. Unbelievably, the Bar only charged Graeff with “failure to keep clients informed” about the status of their legal matter. His face-breaking threat was apparently okay with the Bar because Graeff was only threatening an ordinary citizen—not a lawyer.

After he pleaded guilty and served less than a year in prison for Unlawful Use of a Weapon and Reckless Endangerment, the Bar finally proceeded with their disciplinary case against Graeff, which consisted only of the shooting incident, felony drug manufacturing charges, and Buchanan and Stull’s watered-down charges. Graeff was sanctioned in 2020 with a three-year suspension from the practice of law. Rather than simply being grateful that he was not disbarred for literally shooting up another lawyer’s office, Graeff appealed his suspension to the Oregon Supreme Court, who heard oral arguments in the case in early January, 2021.

Ironically, the same Bar who charged Graeff with failure to keep his clients informed, failed to keep Graeff’s victims Buchanan and Stull informed about how the disciplinary case against him was proceeding. The Bar told Buchanan and Stull nothing about the progress of the Supreme Court case, and they first heard about the case progress from me, when I sent them copies of the court filings and a video of the oral arguments.

After reading the filings and watching the video, Buchanan and Stull sent a letter to Chief Justice Martha Walters and the other six Supreme Court Justices, informing them of the Bar’s “gross negligence” -- including, but by no means limited to, the Bar excluding them from testifying at Graeff’s disciplinary trial and failing to heed their clear warnings about Graeff’s unhinged behavior and violent threats.

“The Bar failed to intervene when Graeff threatened us,” Buchanan told me, “And then someone got shot at. Graeff even wrote a letter to the Bar trying to paint us as crazy just a few days after he shot into an occupied office building. Talk about crazy. I guess the Bar only cares when it’s another lawyer who gets hurt.”

The Oregon State Bar exists in order to protect the public against misconduct by the attorneys it licenses. If only the Bar had listened to the victims of Graeff’s misconduct instead of springing to action only when one of its own licensees needed help, then there wouldn’t be so many appalling stories like Buchanan and Stull’s.

Unfortunately, there are many more of these stories; and in a shocking number of them, the Bar allows the lawyers to weasel out of founded ethics charges by gaslighting the victims, calling their own former clients crazy, and aggravating the harm the lawyers inflicted.

Buchanan and Stull’s letter—regarding their negligent treatment by the Bar and the disturbing underlying case that Erik Graeff was working on for them -- can be read here in its entirety. I will be following up on this story, and if you have one of your own to share, feel free to send it, confidentially if necessary, to the editor@NorthwestObserver.com.

--Stephanie Volin

Post Date: 2021-04-05 18:10:54Last Update: 2021-04-05 18:25:41

Backroom dealing on highly contentious issue

A bill amendment to replicate part of cap-and-trade, one of the most contentious legislative issues in recent years, was drafted and then discussed during a committee hearing without ever providing the language to the public beforehand or knowledge that it would be discussed during the committee.

The House Energy and Environment Committee allowed public testimony on an unpublished amendment to HB 2021, sweeping legislation that seeks to impose costly regulations on the state’s supply of electricity. Special interest groups testified at length in support of a “-5 amendment” that was not made publicly available to everyday Oregonians. Republican lawmakers on the committee received the draft language at 11am during session before the 1pm hearing, leaving them little time to read the amendment. Republicans criticized the move as the antithesis of transparency and the exact opposite of how the legislative process should be conducted.

Despite an hour and a half of prepared testimonies from special interests, the amendment will only receive a half hour of testimony on Wednesday now that it is public knowledge.

Prior to the start of the 2021 Legislative Session, the majority insisted that it would be the most transparent session despite keeping the public out of the building. This recent move by Democrats to quietly replicate a portion of cap-and-trade with an amendment behind closed doors calls that claim into question.

“The last thing we should do during this precarious pandemic session is conceive, draft and finalize legislation behind closed doors,” said House Republican Leader Christine Drazan. “Discussing a contentious proposal in a committee without ever providing it to the public beforehand is not transparent. It’s a false formality with the intention of passing laws that have zero public input. That’s breaking a promise we made to Oregonians ahead of this virtual session.”

While representatives from environmental justice organizations, investor-owned utility companies and even Democratic members of the committee repeatedly expressed support for an unpublished -5 amendment, members of the public were left in the dark. Hours after today’s hearing, the amendment was still not posted on the Oregon Legislative Information System website.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-04-05 16:15:25Last Update: 2021-04-05 22:11:30

Human trafficking as the fastest growing criminal enterprise

The Oregon Senate approved both SB 515 and SB 535 with overwhelming bipartisan support. The measures add more reporting opportunities to help prevent sex crimes in public spaces where traffickers frequent.

SB 515 requires employees of bars and restaurants to report reasonable belief of suspected human trafficking or unlawful employment of minors.

SB 535 adds hotel workers to the list of mandatory reporters and requires the immediate reporting of suspected child pornography by computer technicians or processors.

“Republicans are committed to standing up for victims this session,” Senator Fred Girod, chief sponsor of the legislation and Senate Republican Leader, said. “That requires us to give law enforcement the tools to prevent and stop heinous crimes in real-time. SB 515 and SB 535 also empower our communities to report and stop these crimes. By all of us taking a little responsibility for the most vulnerable in our communities, we can make a difference.”

Traffickers specialize in keeping victims out of sight by constantly moving around but interact with workers in at hotels and bars. This legislation empowers those workers to be vigilant and partner with law enforcement to save lives.

The United States Department of Defense has identified human trafficking as the fastest growing criminal enterprise in the United States. Portland has been identified as a hotbed of trafficking, with nearly 750 victims from 2018–2019.

“Trafficking and sex crimes are happening in our own backyard, and we need more tools to fight them,” Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend). “It's not just Portland. Traffickers use public spaces, like bars, restaurants, and hotels, up and down I-5 and other routes to hide. These employees can play an important role in reporting.”

“Amid unbelievable rising crime rates across Oregon, advocating for public safety and victims’ rights must be among the Legislature’s top priorities,” Senator Lynn Findley (R-Vale) added. “Sexual exploitation crimes often go unreported and victims don’t have the resources they need to find help. The more reporting the community does, the better.”

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-05 12:28:04Last Update: 2021-04-05 12:56:57

What a difference two little letters makes

Oregon law currently defines four advocacy commissions and broadly defines their missions as to work for the implementation and establishment of economic, social, legal and political equality for the group. The four advocacy commissions include Hispanic Affairs, Black Affairs, Women, and Asian and Pacific Islander Affairs.

The days of equality are over. Oregon law and policy are slowly turning away from what was articulated by Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, when he looked forward to the day when his children would be judged by the "content of their character and not the color of their skin." Equality has to do with equal treatment under the law and equality of opportunity -- policies that are hard to argue against. Equity has to do with outcomes, and under examination, has less support.

Governor Brown has asked that HB 2030 be introduced, which changes the mission of each of these commissions from "equality" to "equity."

The desire to make a commitment to equity flows from the idea -- expressed in critical race theory -- that inequalities exist because of past injustices, many of them embedded into social and political structures. It's a bit hard to make this case in a country which just elected a black president and that many people of color flock to, both legally and illegally.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-05 11:00:22Last Update: 2021-04-05 12:28:04

Protection for illegal aliens reaches new heights

In 2013 the Oregon Legislature passed SB 833 which directed the Oregon DMV to issue driving credentials to illegal aliens. Activists quickly gathered signatures for a referendum to put the issue to their voters. By a vote of 66%, Oregonians overturned the act of the Legislature.

It took Democrats in the Legislature several years to get the courage to overturn the will of the voters, but in 2019, they passed HB 2015, introduced by Senator James Manning (D-Eugene) and Representatives Teresa Alonso Leon (D-Woodburn) and Susan McLain (D-Hillsboro), which effectively did so, removing the requirement that a person provide proof of citizenship to obtain a drivers' license.

Now Democrats in the legislature are doubling down, with Senator Chris Gorsek (D-Portland) and Representatives Teresa Alonso Leon (D-Woodburn), Khanh Pham (D-Portland), and Wlnsvey Campos (D-Aloha) introducing HB 3265 which not only clarifies Oregon's status as a sanctuary state, it "prohibits law enforcement agency or public body from denying services, benefits, privileges or opportunities to certain individuals on basis of federal civil immigration actions, inquiring about individual's citizenship status without connection to criminal investigation or providing information about individual in custody to federal immigration authority."

The bill interferes with communications between the federal government and local law enforcement, a move that could put the public at risk. Section 4 reads:

If a public body receives a request or communication from a federal agency that relates to immigration enforcement, the public body shall decline the request and document the communication or request. The documentation described in this subsection must be provided to the director or other similar management personnel of the public body.

Section 9 of the bill also creates a private right of action for any person to use against law enforcement or a public bodyAs resources become scarce, local law enforcement may become averse to enforcing any law -- not just immigration related law against a person who appears to be be an illegal alien.

Any person may bring a civil action against a law enforcement agency or public body that violates subsection (2) or (3) of this section to enjoin the violation.
(b) A person injured by a violation of subsection (2) or (3) of this section may also bring a civil action against the law enforcement agency or public body to recover damages.

For whatever reason, the illegal-alien-protection-industry has found a home in the liberal wing of Christian Churches in Oregon, as one can see by the lopsided testimony for the bill. One wonders what the ultimate motivation is as our schools, health care system and economy continue to be overwhelmed.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-04 17:19:22Last Update: 2021-04-04 18:02:12


Since the pandemic began, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has been one of the strong arms of the Governor’s COVID-19 enforcement team. They have written rules and levied hefty fines against businesses that do not follow the COVID-19 rules as a way to bring them into compliance.
  • A Bend coffee shop was fined $26,700 -- 3x the minimum penalty -- for allowing indoor dining.
  • A Florence restaurant was also fined $17,800 (2X the minimum penalty) based on social media posts, for allowing indoor dining.
  • A Springfield restaurant was fined $8,900 for allowing indoor dining based on news stories and social media posts.
However, these fines are small compared to the ones levied against a multi-location athletic facility in Salem. The first fine was in November for $90,000 and the most recent one was assessed in January for an additional $126,749. The fines were for operating when the Governor’s orders were to be closed.

OSHA has been levying these penalties under a temporary rule issued in November of 2020. However, temporary rules cannot remain in effect longer than 180 days and they cannot be extended. The temporary rule expires on May 4, 2021. The only option the agency has is to issue the guidelines under a permanent rule. So, in January, OSHA issues the permanent rule for public input. The permanent rule is 126 pages long and is much more expansive than the rules currently in place. It is also unclear what the new fines will be for not following the existing rules being extended and the new ones being added.

For example, In Oregon Administrative Rule 437-001-0744 under COVID-19 vaccination for workers, it states:

(A) The employer must cooperate by making its employees and appropriate space available at no cost to the workers whenever a local public health agency or Oregon Health Authority indicate that COVID-19 vaccination within the workplace is necessary.

What triggers a local public health agency or Oregon Health Authority to deem that a COVID-19 vaccination at the workplace is necessary?

(C) Unless the local public health agency or Oregon Health Authority directs otherwise, employers need not require employees to accept the vaccination. If employees who are offered the vaccine decline to be vaccinated, the employer must document that declination.

Why would an employer be documenting an employee’s personal health choice? Is this a violation of the 1996 Federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability (HIPAA)? Also, what about businesses that have employees that are under 18? Who signed the consent form to vaccinate or not to vaccinate?

Note: Oregon OSHA will provide model declination forms for use by employers in documenting such declination. It is the considered opinion of both the Oregon Health Authority and Oregon OSHA that all individuals should accept vaccination unless it is medically contra-indicated.

Contra-indicated is a specific situation in which a drug should not be used because it may be harmful to the person. What will be on the OSHA approved form? What if the employee refuses to provide the employer with information required on the form such as address, phone number, etc.? How will the employer know if the employee is medically contra-indicated; again, another possible HIPAA violation?

OSHA has stated that they do not intend these rules to be permanent in perpetuity and that the rules will end when the Governor’s state of emergency ends. The Permanent OSHA rules will take affect on or before May 4, 2021. The Oregon Health Authority Vaccine distribution chart has Phase 2 eligibility (all people who are 16 and older) being eligible May 1, 2021.

With Governor Brown already on her 6th Executive Order extension for the COVID-19 State of Emergency, which lasts until April 25th, a 7th extension would seem inevitable based on the OSHA rule timeline and vaccine rollout dates. A 7th extension of the Governor’s Emergency Declaration would last into the end of June.

The public comment period on the OSHA rules has ended. So, for now, all businesses and Oregonians can do is sit and wait to see what OSHA implements and how long the Governor will keep the rules in place by ongoing Executive Order.

--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-04-04 16:22:57Last Update: 2021-04-04 16:33:49

We need comparable, reliable, and valid student learning data

The US Department of Education has denied a request from the Oregon Department of Education "to waive the requirements to administer the same statewide assessments to all public elementary and secondary school students in the State in reading/language arts, mathematics, and science for the 2020-2021 school year." These requirements have been in law since 1965.

The Department appreciates ODE’s work to develop the SEED Survey. The information that you collect through this survey will provide useful information to support you, your schools, and your educators as you plan for student needs next year. We believe there is a great deal to learn from ODE’s work in this area, and we strongly support expanded use of opportunity to learn measures nationwide.

The Oregon Department of Education had been promoting the idea of a SEED Survey, to partially replace standardized testing. According to the ODE, data from the survey will be used to support the following five purposes:
  1. Honor the importance and necessity of incorporating student voice into the continuous improvement process for Oregon’s public education systems
  2. Provide Oregon districts with actionable data regarding investments and quality pedagogy that can be used to increase student group outcomes (e.g., academic achievement, graduation rates, post-secondary success)
  3. Develop promising practices guidance regarding appropriate uses of SEED Survey data independently and in combination with comparison to summative assessment results
  4. Expand reporting beyond outcomes to include information about investments and quality pedagogy that Oregon’s education systems make in supporting students, their families, and the educators who serve them
  5. Validate summative assessment approaches by reviewing SEED Survey results in comparison to summative results, reviewing expected and unexpected patterns in relationships
The letter, from Deputy Assistant Secretary for Policy and Programs Ian Rosenblum, concluded, "We remain committed to supporting Oregon and all States in assessing the learning of all students, while we recognize that we are in the midst of a pandemic that requires real flexibility and creativity. We are eager to continue to work with ODE on a plan that addresses your State’s specific circumstances and maximizes the amount of comparable, reliable, and valid student learning data alongside the important data you plan to collect from the SEED Survey."

Standardized testing has been a perennial battle between teachers' unions and school accountability supporters.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-03 20:15:18Last Update: 2021-04-03 20:16:25

Democrats claim that the new law would not violate the Constitution

The Oregon Senate has passed SB 398, introduced by Senators Ginny Burdick (D-Portland) and James Manning, Jr. (D-Eugene) which categorizes the act of displaying a noose as a crime of intimidation. The bill passed out of committee on party lines and passed off the Senate Floor with a 27-1 vote. SB 398 parallels Oregon’s bias crime statute which was passed in 2019.

“Displaying a noose is a hateful act. It is meant to intimidate and harass,” said Senator Burdick, who carried SB 398 to passage. “Hate crimes are disturbingly on the rise in Oregon, including in my district. A noose is a racist symbol, it is intimidating to our neighbors of color and it needs to be banned,” she added.

Oregon case law has held that to legally restrict speech, in any form, the speech must amount to a communication that “instills in the addressee a fear of imminent and serious personal violence from the speaker, is unequivocal, and is objectively likely to be followed by unlawful acts.” Both the Oregon Supreme Court and U.S. Supreme Court have concluded that preventing the type of harm that results from those types of communication justify a narrowly tailored restriction on speech and do not violate the U.S. Constitution or the Oregon Constitution.

“The display of a noose should have been a crime long ago. It’s not okay. Louisiana, Virginia, California, New York, Maryland and Connecticut have criminalized the display of nooses because they all know exactly what that noose implies,” said Senator Manning. “The noose is a racist relic. Its roots lie in fear and hate. It reminds us of the 4,400 documented lynchings of African Americans between 1800 to 1950. A noose doesn’t mean the same thing to everyone, it means something much more imminent, terrifying and unacceptable to BIPOC communities. It’s not okay. I am glad we passed this bill today. This should have been a law much sooner,” added Senator Manning.

Several instances of fake noose incidents have made the news in recent years. NASCAR Driver Bubba Wallace reportedly had a noose placed in his garage which later turned out not to be a hate crime. In another recent incident, entertainer Jussie Smollett was caught falsely reporting a noose incident to police.

SB 398 will now go to the House of Representatives for consideration.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-03 18:54:40Last Update: 2021-04-03 19:39:47

Victim was traveling to church

Editor's note: This article contains language that some readers may find offensive. Reader discretion is advised.

One of the many victims of Sunday's far left attacks was a 55 year old man who claims to have been on his way to church when he was attacked by several far left extremists in Salem, Oregon.

The victim wished to remain anonymous as he recounted his attack during an exclusive interview with “The Black Conservative Preacher”.. The man's voice broke at times as he described Sunday's terrifying attack -it was “like something you see in the movies”.

The victim was driving his late father's Ford F150. He knew there was a gathering in the area and decided to bypass his usual route to church in an attempt to avoid driving directly in front of the state capitol, he claims he could not have known that police had cleared the violent mob from in front of the capitol and they were now on the very street he was headed down.

As he made his way down the street the victim said he could see a large mob dressed in all black, and he began to feel uneasy. His truck was painted with red, white and blue stripes and was dawned with American flags and patriotic bumper stickers, though the victim states he previously removed his bumper stickers showing support to our 45th president. The victim was nervous and had no choice but to continue forward and make his way past the the mob en route to his church.

As the driver made his way down the street, the mob began their attack and then vandalized the windshield of his truck with yellow paint. The man got out of his truck to investigate the damage, and immediately two attackers ran up and attempted to spray the victim in the face with what looked like pepper spray.

As the man shielded himself from their attack the mob hurled objects and began to move toward him with bats, sticks, batons and other weapons while screaming "Go home Nazi!”. Glass breaking can be heard as they busted out the victim's back passenger window, the victim signaled for witnesses to call for help but no one stepped up to help the man. The man stayed close to his vehicle as he attempted to make his way around the back end of his truck to assess the damage. What he didn’t know at the time was that they were also spraying bear mace into the cab of his truck.

The frenzied mob did not relent and continued to scream obscenities as far left attackers approached the victim they could be heard yelling "he has a gun”, and ”shoot me mother". The entire time the far left extremists never stopped their attack on the man and his vehicle and continued moving threateningly toward him. As the man rounded the back end of his truck and looked toward the busted out back passenger window, one of the far leftist extremist sprayed the man in the face with mace.

Fearing for his safety, the victim who is a CHL holder says he drew his firearm, “I didn’t know what to do”, I thought the gun would stop them”, my “eyes were burning so bad,” “I was scared”.

With his firearm in his right hand pointed down toward the ground, he outstretched his left hand and told the mob,” get away from me.” However, the mob continued their attack screaming threats as they charged the man. Recounting this moment during his interview with The Black Conservative Preacher, the victim stated “I was freaked out being attacked by that many people, it was like something you see in the movies.”

The police rushed in immediately after the man's weapon was drawn, and the victim placed his firearm in the bed of his truck and complied with all officer commands.

With police on the scene, the violent mob could be heard taunting the man as he lay on the wet ground surrounded by officers. The far left mob hurled insults at the man, calling him a “Proud Boy” and a “Nazi," slanderous terms they are notorious for using during their attacks. As the victim crouched on the wet ground holding his eyes from the pain he states he had a hard time laying down flat because his “eyes were on fire”. His taillights were broken out by the violent mob.

The victim states that after law enforcement officers spoke to witnesses and other motorists he was released from handcuffs and was not arrested or charged.

He states he had no association with the Freedom Rally that Sunday. The victim stated that he thought drawing his firearm would get the violent mob to stop, and was surprised that his weapon did not deter his attackers, only when the police arrived did the attack stop. The far left extremists who typically expresses vitriol for all forms of law enforcement now seemed okay to have the police subdue their victim.

During his interview with The Black Conservative Preacher, the victim repeatedly stated how scared he was during the attack but that he was happy the police got the truth after talking to witnesses.

The victim states that he now looks in his rear-view mirror when going home to make sure no one is following him. “There is nothing you can do about this” , “I am a target, I feel like I am a target now”.

Since the attack on Sunday, the victim has supposedly taken all of the American flags off of his truck as well as at his home. He has taken off all of his red white and blue decals because he claims the incident has scared him. He had taken his Trump stickers off prior to Sundays attack due to constant harassment, as he had previously been spit at and almost ran off the road.

The victim states “it is just going to get worse, not better” and fears that “offending” someone may provoke another attack. The victim states he has heard stories of what far left extremists do once they have your information and is concerned about what has been shared by the media already. He is talking to an attorney and states he feels lucky to have a police officer living next door.

Such extremist groups work hard to change the definition of words but they cannot hide their acts of violence, cowardice, blatant racism and indeed fascism. With the rise of violent hate crimes and outright lawlessness coming from the far left, Oregonians and all Americans are right to be concerned with the onslaught of anti-second amendment legislation such as SB 554 and HB 2543 being crammed through at the state level.

Far left extremists who reassemble ISIS militants dress in tactical gear while carrying weapons and blocking our roadways, have violently attacked and even murdered individuals on the street. They have assaulted passing motorists at times pulling them out of their vehicles and beating them unconscious until forced to stop, they continue to terrorize our cities, communities, and businesses in full view of the world and with seemingly full support of the main stream media and leftist “leaders”.

Watch the videos for yourself and then go see what media is or is not saying about what happened.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-03 18:30:39Last Update: 2021-04-03 19:06:52

Victims threatened with axe and paintball gun

In Portland, Oregon, Parks and Recreation Rangers, as well as a community member, were threatened by a suspect with an axe and a paintball gun in Downtown Portland.

On Saturday, April 3, 2021 at 10:09a.m., Central Precinct officers responded to the precinct front desk on a report that victim had walked in to report being shot by a suspect with a paintball gun. The victim told the officers he was riding his bicycle in Chapman Square Park, near the intersection of Southwest 3rd Avenue and Southwest Main Street. The victim said a suspect fired a paintball gun at him, striking him once. The suspect then fired several more paintballs toward the victim as he fled. The victim suffered a minor injury.

Officers located the suspect, Randy A. Graves, 32, and arrested him. They located and seized a paintball gun, axe, and stun gun (photo) from Graves.

Officers spoke to the Park Rangers on scene. They told officers that they had approached a group about 9:00a.m., intending to distribute fliers informing the group that the park was going to be closed for restoration work. Graves threatened to kill them, and although they did not report being threatened with a weapon, Graves followed them yelling threats to kill them as they tried to disengage.

About 45 minutes later, another team of Park Rangers responded to a fire burning in the park, which is a violation of park rules. Park Rangers reported requesting assistance from Portland Police as they went to address the fire. Graves pulled out an axe and threatened the Rangers If they did not leave. The Park Rangers also witnessed the attack on the community member with the paintball gun.

Graves was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center on charges of Menacing (7 counts), Unlawful Use of a Weapon (3 counts), Assault in the Fourth Degree, Disorderly Conduct in the Second Degree (7 counts), Reckless Endangering (7 counts), and City Code Possession of a Weapon in a Park (3 counts).

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-04-03 13:02:17Last Update: 2021-04-03 18:10:33

Quest for power gets in the way of business

Even before the 2021 session started, the wars had begun. Some, like House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) found themselves with arrows in the front and back.

A well-publicized battle between the BIPOC or Black, Indigenous and People Of Color segment of the Democratic caucus attempted a power grab -- with some success -- and ended up with a few gavels, or committee chairs. The smoke and noises of that battle, as well as the inevitable scuffles with Republicans, are starting to boil over and though the source might not be apparent, these were seeds planted months ago.

1. Focusing on Extreme Legislation, not the Nuts and Bolts
From racial justice to climate action to housing issues to restricting second amendment rights, Democrats have been pushing a full-cart radical agenda. It's expected that the party in power will get their way on some ideologically divisive issues, but this session has seen more than its share of agenda-driven policy.

2. Expanding the Number of Committees
In the 2019 full session -- the last full session, there were 12 House committees that saw actual substantive policy legislation come out of them. This session has seen that number balloon to 19 plus three subcommittees, for a total of 22 House committees, and that doesn't even count an increased number of new join committees.

3. Very Tight COVID-19 Capitol Lockdowns
Though COVID-19 is no one's fault, the Capitol lockdowns have interrupted communications, made committees less smooth, and contributed to Republicans' -- and Oregonians' -- dissatisfaction with the session. As the state opens up -- and Oregon is one of the slowest states to open -- the Capitol shows no sign of return to anything like normal. It is as locked down as it was in the beginning.

4. Attempting to Go Around Republicans, Instead of Cooperating
Republicans are not yielding the constitutional requirement that each bill be read in its entirety before being voted on, and this is based at least in part on the tidal wave of radical Democratic ideological agenda bills. A lighter agenda might have found more cooperation with Republicans -- or at least a compromise at this point. Instead, Speaker Kotek has gritted her teeth and pushed on.

5. Plain Old Extra Stuff to Do
Sure, every session has its unique policy challenges, but this session seems to have a more generous share with COVID-19 and the federal money to divvy up, wildfire clean up and relief from last year, as well as redistricting. Maybe it wasn't such a great year to work on racial justice, climate justice and the rest of the radical agenda. Democrats may pay dearly for their inability to focus.

At this point, Speaker Kotek may have mangled the session beyond repair. As both parties claim to want to do "the people's work" it may be too late to salvage much out of this session. Let's hope they can at least pass budgets.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-02 18:44:36Last Update: 2021-03-31 19:42:32

Only two bills in the would address COVID-19’s impact on education

Of more than 100 bills in the House Committee on Education, legislation from Rep. Owens and Rep. Alonso León is one of only two bills related to COVID-19’s negative impact on K-12 education.

Despite the enormous disruption COVID-19 has had on Oregon’s education system, only two bills in the House Committee on Education address the negative effects of COVID-19 on students.

Representative Mark Owens (R-Crane) and Representative Teresa Alonso León (D- Woodburn) are chief sponsors of HB 2962, which would direct a formal evaluation of students’ education needs resulting from COVID-19 closures, a step towards identifying how students can recover from gaps in learning.

“It is critical we identify and address the serious gap in education our students have experienced during the last 12 months because of COVID-19 and government-mandated stay-at-home orders,” said Rep. Owens, who also serves as a member of the Crane School Board. “There is much more we should be doing as lawmakers to address this critical issue for Oregon students, and it is great to see the bipartisan support for this proposal that will hopefully lead to others.”

“We should not be hiding from the truth that virtual learning has seriously harmed our kids’ educational development,” added House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby.) “After Oregon’s education officials announced plans to abandon standardized testing that would measure learning gaps, we need proposals like this more than ever.”

Negative academic effects from distance learning still have not been adequately measured in Oregon, and plans to do so have been delayed.

Even 2020 high school graduation rates are misleading since the Oregon Department of Education drastically altered its graduation standards. As recently as 2017, Oregon had the second-worst graduation rate in the country. The full impact of virtual learning on graduation rates is still not clear.

Miguel Cardona, the Secretary of Education selected by President Joe Biden, affirmed the need for evaluations nationwide when saying that student data obtained from standardized tests is important to help education officials create policy and target resources where they are most needed. “We have to make sure we laser-focused on addressing inequities that have existed for years. … Every bit of data helps,” added Cardona during a legislative conference.

Oregon remains the second to last state for reopened schools according to a tracker from Burbio, a website that aggregates school government, library and community event information and consists of more than 80,000 K-12 school calendars from all fifty states.

Numerous studies have been conducted which indicate a correlation between native mental health impacts for children due to closed schools:

“Beginning in April 2020 the proportion of children’s mental health-related ED visits among all pediatric ED visits increased and remained elevated through October. Compared with 2019, the proportion of mental health-related visits for children aged 5-11 and 12-17 years increased 24 percent and 31 percent respectively.” – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, November 13, 2020.

Additionally, most states in the country have been reopening after a variety of studies point to safe conditions that would allow willing students to attend school in-person with minimal COVID-19 risks:

The CDC guidance, under President Biden, recommends that schools can reopen with successfully implemented mitigation strategies.

“Our data indicate that schools can reopen safely if they develop and adhere to specific SARS-CoV-2 prevention policies.” – American Academy of Pediatrics, January 6, 2021.

“…we see no indication that in-person school reopenings have increased COVID-19 hospitalizations in the counties below 36-44 new COVID-19 hospitalizations per 100,000 per week. Neither the levels nor the trends change in any direction when schools open in [counties below 36-44 new COVID-19 hospitalizations per 100,000 per week], even as far as 6 weeks after schools reopened. In fact, we often see precise estimates suggesting declines in hospitalizations in these low-baseline COVID-19 counties…” – National Center for Research on Education Access and Choice (REACH), Tulane University, January 4, 2021.

HB 3350 is a second bill that addresses COVID-19’s impact on education.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-02 14:12:17Last Update: 2021-04-02 14:22:06

This all hinges on the American Rescue Plan Act

The Co-Chairs of the Oregon Legislature's Joint Committee on Ways and Means, Senator Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose), Senator Elizabeth Steiner Hayward (D-Beaverton), and Representative Dan Rayfield (D-Corvallis) – released their 2021-23 Budget Framework. The document serves as a starting point for the 2021-23 budget cycle.

Joint Ways and Means Co-Chairs have schedule hearing dates on the 2021-23 budget framework. What stands out for taxpayers is the increase of $780 million for new programs and services. That means an increased budget of $780 million every biennium in the future plus cost-of-living increases and growth in those programs. Very few new programs are ever terminated and give credence to the term “big government.” The Budget Framework shows that these new programs ($780 million) are funded in 2021-23 by one-time funding from the American Rescue Plan Act Funds, which is expected to be $2.6 billion. The framework reserves $520 million for the 2023-25 biennium out of those federal funds, but that doesn’t cover the cost of the new programs. And where does the funding come from in future biennium’s?

The five dates and times for Ways and Means budget hearings are by congressional districts.

District 1 - Wednesday, April 14, 5:30-7:30 pm
District 2 - Saturday, April 17, 1:00-3:00 pm
District 3 - Wednesday, April 21, 5:30-7:30 pm
District 4 - Thursday, April 22, 5:30-7:30 pm
District 5 - Saturday, April 24, 1:00-3:00 pm

What is curious about these times is that Joint Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittees have been meeting on budgets since January. One committee will have held 26 hearings. Multiplied by seven committees, all trying to squeeze and expand their programs into current levels. Now they are told to cut one percent more to meet budgetary goals. How do all these hearings and testimonies get incorporated and resolved into the Ways and Means two-hour District meetings?

What is even more curious about the budget is the moving numbers. The initial 2021-23 Ways and Means Co-Chair Principles shows a current service level for 2021-23 to be short $1,741,500,000 General Funds, but new numbers have brought that down to $606,700,000 in the March Budget Framework. The Co-Chair target requirement is to bring that number to zero. With the addition of $520 million American Rescue Plan Act Funds and cuts of 1% to each budget they have initially meant their goal. However, the door is still open for the BIPOC caucus for resources needed to advance racial equity initiatives in Oregon. Their needs will influence the final development of the final 2021-23 budget. Each committee is asked to review their budgets for more than the 1% cuts to fund their special needs.

This all hinges on the American Rescue Plan Act sending $2.6 billion our way. What if it doesn’t?

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-04-02 09:51:32Last Update: 2021-04-04 10:41:42

It’s before the program even takes effect

In 2019, the Oregon Legislature passed HB 2005. It created the Family and Medical Leave Insurance Program to provide partially or fully compensated time away from work. Starting January 1, 2022, eligible employees who worked at least 90 days for an employer can apply with the state for 12 weeks of paid leave per year for qualifying family, medical, or safe leave, and up to 14 weeks for certain pregnancy-related leave.

HB 2005 applies to employers with 25 or more employees in Oregon. Employers and employees will contribute to the leave fund through payroll deductions beginning January 1, 2022. Employers will make 40% of the required contributions to the plan and employees will pay 60%. The required contribution will be no greater than 1% of the employee wages with a cap of $132,900 per year. The State of Oregon Employment Department will determine the exact percentage of contribution. The Oregon Employment Department will also manage the Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance plan.

However, before the program even takes effect, Representative Karin Power (D-Milwaukie) introduced HB 2474. This bill would modify the Oregon Family Leave Act. It changes the current leave laws and lowers the employer eligibility to those with only 1 employee from the old threshold of 25 and takes employee eligibility for leave from 90 days to 30 days and covers part-time workers. Current OFLA rules apply to workers that average 25 hours a week for 180 days. OFLA is not paid time off. Rather, it is unpaid time off for up to 12 weeks with the guarantee that your job will be held by your employer. In addition HB 2474 also expands the definition of leave to include time off for caring for a child when their school or child care provider is closed by order of public official for public health emergency which is not covered under current OFLA rules. While OFLA is not paid time off, it is a guarantee that your job will be held by your employer.

It could be speculated that the proposed changes to OFLA are a test to see if the soon to roll out Paid Family and Medical Leave Insurance plan could be modified to include employers with only 1 employee. After all, when HB 2005 was introduced it was proposed as: “Employer” means any person that employs one or more employees working anywhere in this state, a political subdivision of this state or any county, city, district, authority, public corporation or entity, or any instrumentality of a county, city, district, authority, public corporation or entity, organized and existing under law or charter.

HB 2474 was scheduled for a work session on March 31, but Representative Power indicated to the committee that interested parties were still working on coming to consensus on proposed amendments. The next schedule work session for the bill is April 5.

--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-04-02 09:40:36Last Update: 2021-04-01 15:50:50

“...Nor excessive fines imposed” Article I, Section 16, Oregon Const.

Today, April 2nd, is the last day to submit testimony, particularly needed from impacted business owners, to OSHA opposing their proposed rule changes. OSHA agency staff are not elected officials, yet are trying to change COVID-19 temporary workplace rules, like masks and social distancing, as permanent rules that inherently create a double-fine situation for Oregon small businesses who are already struggling to survive in this state. Another business store closure was one of the original Dari Mart stores, located in Eugene.

Until today, there were 44 family owned and operated stores from Albany to Cottage Grove. These small, neighborhood stores employed more than 500 people. However, today, Dari Mart announced, via Facebook that it was closing one of its stores. They posted: The Dari Mart store located at 1785 W 18th will be closing its doors for good at 8PM this evening. This is a sad day, as this is one of the original stores. The city of Eugene and State of Oregon are making it increasingly difficult to run a business. Minimum wages have increased over $4.75 and hour, which we could support, except the State put on the backs of businesses a Corporate Activity Tax and the City of Eugene, an employment tax. This location cannot sustain those additional costs of doing business.

Unfortunately, Dari Mart is not alone. Many businesses are facing tough decisions and the Oregon Legislature, run by a super majority that is known for passing legislation that hurts, not helps, small businesses, alongside State Agencies and local governments that are not doing much to help businesses out.

Having double-fine threats from both the Oregon Health Authority and OSHA is a way for those running our state to double-dip with fines and further drain our small business owners and their families, placing more at risk of poverty and placing countless more out of work.

Just days ago, OSHA announced that they had fined Kevista Coffee in Bend $27,470, three times the minimum penalty for stated violations. Struggling business owners Krista and Kevin Lauinger said they chose to re-open the coffee shop even though they were aware that it went against workplace health requirements, as they were desperate to save their business. The huge fine quote, "reflects the need to ensure a more appropriate deterrent effect..." states the OSHA release. It appears as though they are trying to make an example out of these owners as they up the fines to even higher amounts than previously placed on other establishments.

In February, OSHA fined Florence based Firehouse Restaurant $18,150 for violations of standards, twice the minimum penalty for such violations, again, to quote "ensure a more appropriate deterrent effect" toward other businesses in Oregon.

These exorbitant punitive damages, slapped on local businesses for simply trying to operate viably, despite research clearly showing that asymptomatic spread of COVID-19 is not an issue.

A new peer reviewed paper, led by lead author Dr. Henry Ealy, titled, "COVID-19: Restoring Public Trust During A Global Health Crisis," reiterates what others, including what Dr. Anthony Fauci has said that asymptomatic spread of a virus does not drive pandemics. The published paper outlines this critical research that mainstream media continues to ignore:

Asymptomatic transmission is the basis for public health policies regarding masking and social distancing.
  • Wuhan Participant Study - 9,898,828 enrolled participants were tested using qualitative COVID RT-qPCR testing. Only 300 possible asymptomatic carrier candidates were identified. Of the 300 possible asymptomatic carriers, all were tested using live cell culture to determine if their PCR samples could produce replication-competent virus. All 300 live cell cultures were negative for being able to produce replication-competent virus, indicating that none of the 300 people identified as potential asymptomatic carriers from the 9,898,828 people tested were infectious. Therefore 0.00% of COVID transmissions were asymptomatic.
  • Asymptomatic transmission is widely assumed globally but has never been definitively proven based upon the five medical gold-standards of empirical evidence for the evaluation of infectious disease discussed in the position paper.
So what about the economic pandemic evolving here in Oregon around growing poverty, a burgeoning homelessness population and countless cases of business closure and increased rates of suicide? It seems as though those metrics don't fit in with the current narrative or agenda that is being played out by Governor Kate Brown and her state agencies, despite Oregon not having the same drastic COVID-19 impact as other states have seen, yet imposing some of the most draconian and tyrannical lockdown measures and school closures with moving goal posts and changing county risk-level threshold categories with NO stated end in site. Have we all become prisoners of Governor Kate Brown’s no-end-in-sight reopening plan?

As the Oregon Legislature continues to do its work this session, there are more bills being considered that could be the next policy that pushes even more businesses to leave the state and relocate or shutter their doors.

If the Democrat Supermajority doesn’t switch course and focus on saving, not dissolving more of our small business owners, it’s up to the Republican Senators to deny quorum, as many slated controversial and hindering bills otherwise will likely pass.

It begs the question: does the Democrat Supermajority ultimately want to help or hurt Oregonians with policy this legislative session, and will they abandon their radical and special interest agenda to step up into supporting the majority of the population that lives and works in Oregon? Only time, and their actions, will tell.

For another opportunity, the Oregon Department of Consumer and Business Services, which is the parent agency of OSHA will accept testimony on its budget and performance -- including the performance of OSHA -- on Monday April 12 at 8:00am. This is a virtual hearing and in order to provide testimony, you must register first

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-02 09:31:09Last Update: 2021-04-03 09:59:09

“We need to have people who can serve as role models”

Representative Janelle Bynum (D-Clackamas) has submitted an amendment to HB 2942, which she co-sponsored with Senator Michael Dembrow (D-Portland). The bill allows individuals convicted of drug dealing and sex crimes to be licensed or registered by Teacher Standards and Practices Commission allowing them to teach in K-12 schools. It further opens the door for convicted criminals to work and volunteer in K-12 educational settings.

HB 2942 removes existing prohibitions on who can be employed as an educator and work with other people’s children. Those prohibitions identify many crimes including those that have been prohibited by the proximity of schools to limit the exposure of students to that environment and influence. The prohibitions include unlawful manufacturing of controlled substances (including methamphetamine, cocaine, etc.) within 1000 feet of a school, and the delivery of those same drugs within 1000 feet of a school, as well as prostitution. This bill does not deal with possession of drugs -- this bill essentially says that a drug dealer may ultimately become a teacher.

The bill takes the decision away from the Teacher, Standards, and Practices Commission and puts it in the hands of individual school districts by creating an arbitrary standard. This says to parents that the very best people we can put in front of your children are convicted drug dealers, manufactures and prostitutes, which does not help school districts attract and retain the very best teachers to serve our children.

Testimony that supports putting school children at risk said such things as, “we believe in restorative justice and the ability of individuals to transform their lives,” and “in order to break the school to prison pipeline, we need to have people who can relate to them and serve as role models.”

The Oregon School Boards Association said they support HB 2942 because “Oregon is in the midst of reforming a criminal justice system that has, deliberately or otherwise, had the effect of removing a disproportionate number of people of color from the school community.”

However, many parents expressed opposition to using their children as test cases to whether a convicted criminal is truly rehabilitated. Instead of letting the bill fade away as a bad idea, Representative Bynum doubles down with an amendment that puts the burden on the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission to assess the rehabilitation mentality of a criminal applicant and authorizes them to refuse to issue a license or register a convicted person.

HB 2942 is scheduled for a work session on April 6 before the House Committee on Education.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-04-02 09:21:25Last Update: 2021-04-02 09:31:09

Oregon continues to lose local businesses

The first Dari Mart store opened in 1965 by Gladys and Howard Gibson. The couple had owned and operated Lochmead Farms in Junction City since 1941, and the store was a way to get their farm fresh milk direct to customers. Three generations later, about 20 Gibson/Straube family members still work with the Dari Mart and Lochmead Farm companies.

Until today, there were 44 family owned and operated stores from Albany to Cottage Grove. These small, neighborhood stores employed more than 500 people. However, today, Dai Mart announced, via Facebook that it was closing one of its stores. They posted: The Dari Mart store located at 1785 W 18th will be closing it's doors for good at 8PM this evening. This is a sad day, as this is one of the original stores. The city of Eugene and State of Oregon are making it increasingly difficult to run a business. Minimum wages have increased over $4.75 and hour, which we could support, except the State put on the backs of businesses a Corporate Activity Tax and the City of Eugene, an employment tax. This location cannot sustain those additional costs of doing business. Please support the stores nearest this location at:

835 W 28th Ave and 2920 W 11th Ave. A big thank you to all of the loyal customers of that store. We appreciate you.

Unfortunately, Dairi Mart is not alone. Many businesses are facing tough decisions and the Oregon Legislature, State Agencies and local governments are not doing much to help them out. For some it is the impacts created by the Oregon Legislature by implementation of mandatory minimum wage increases, paid sick time or the Corporate Activity Tax.

In 2019, Senator James Manning (D-Eugene) stood on the floor of the Oregon Senate and said, regarding businesses, “Let’em leave. Someone else’ll come in” referencing the Corporate Activity Tax. His prediction is partially coming true, businesses are leaving. In May of 2019 Stimson Lumber announced that it would lay off 60 people at its Forest Grove mill (40% of the workforce) and move some of its operations to Idaho and Montana siting the Corporate Activity Tax. Stimson Lumber has operated in Oregon since 1933. "I do not need to be hit with a 2×4 in the face to see that Oregon is an urban state and rural Oregon is a place for urbanites to recreate," said CEO Andrew Miller in an interview with Willamette Week in 2019. He continued, "Investment capital and jobs are mobile. I see the smoke. I do not need to wait for the fire. It is time to adapt to a changing environment by moving on."

As the Oregon Legislature continues to do its work, there are more bills being considered that could be the next mandate that forces more businesses to leave Oregon.

--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-04-01 15:26:39Last Update: 2021-04-01 15:51:32

“This is the kind of focused work that Oregonians need”

In a partial sign that the Oregon Legislature remains committed to doing what is constitutionally required for the current session, leaders in the Oregon House have announced that the 2019-2021 rebalanced budget bills will be moved forward -- starting immediately -- to prioritize relief for Oregonians.

Republicans will also vote to expedite this funding for communities by waiving the requirement to read the budget bills in full.

The announcement followed a statement made earlier this week by House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby,) who said Republicans are committed to passing 2021-2023 budget bills as efficiently as possible as well.

“This is a great, bipartisan action for Oregon to provide relief through the 2019-2021 budget, sending communities additional dollars to mitigate wildfire impacts, support unsheltered individuals, provide education enrichment opportunities and more,” stated House Republican Leader Drazan about the rebalanced budget bills. “This is the kind of focused work that Oregonians need from us right now, and we will continue to find ways to collaborate on priority issues like a balanced budget.”

Democrats have been intent on marching controversial legislation to the front of the line.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-01 15:04:15Last Update: 2021-04-01 15:13:43

Sunshine is the best disinfectant.

The Senate Judiciary Committee heard testimony in support of SB 666, transparency legislation that would allow public notice of government union contract negotiations.

Senator Dennis Linthicum (R-Klamath Falls), the chief sponsor of SB 666, released the following statement:

“The public deserves to know how their tax dollars are being negotiated. This is a simple issue of transparency. The more information the public has about how their tax dollars are being spent, the better.

“The Oregon Institute of Technology and faculty and administration have failed to come to a new labor agreement for over a year. Taxpayers have no idea why the two parties cannot agree because current law doesn’t require these negotiations to be made public.

“Sunshine is the best disinfectant. Taxpayers should know if their tax dollars are being held hostage. OIT is an important part of our economy in Klamath Falls. We need to make sure their important work continues and simple transparency can aid in ensuring that happens.”

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-01 14:40:23Last Update: 2021-04-01 15:04:15

Why Oregonians need their second amendment freedoms

A heavy set far left extremist dressed in what Antifa calls “Black-Bloc -- used as an intimidation tactic -- could be seen waiting for motorists in the street. He held a cigarette in his left hand and a police style asp-baton in his right. As a large blue pickup truck with an American Flag made its way down the street the individual in Black-Bloc quickly whips out his baton, he is wearing a bullet proof vest and appears to be carrying a firearm on his left side. A megaphone slung over his right shoulder, he watches as two violent members of his group rush the approaching blue truck and began attacking the vehicle, as the driver attempts to get away the attackers rip a large flag from the bed of his truck, and what sounds like breaking glass can be heard in the background. As the far left mob continue their attack the driver speeds up to escape his frenzied attackers but they continue to pursue him on foot. In the chaos one of the extremist tries to block the driver and the driver is forced to slam on his breaks to avoid hitting the person, he then quickly navigates his truck to safety.

The mob is relentless and chases after the truck throwing objects and screaming in hysterical delight as they encourage each other to attack. False claims from local news outlets have claimed that the motorist "plowed through the crowd”-though the video clearly shows multiple vehicles being rushed and surrounded during Sundays attacks with weapons at the ready. That is exactly what happened to the driver of this vehicle, he was surrounded, attacked and attempting to escape the violence of far left extremists.

Ironically the target of Sunday's far left hate was aimed at fellow Oregonians who were part of a freedom rally celebrating the very freedoms these individuals are quick to invoke while they engage in their terror campaigns against citizens, neighborhoods, businesses, police and yes, even Ted Wheeler. The American flag is somehow offensive to the far left who love to abuse the freedoms defended for them by the countless men and women that our great American flag represents. Far left extremist have a habit of showing up with the intent to engage in violence anytime a gathering takes place that was not approved by them, or does not fall in line with their anti-American extremist agenda. These far left extremist engage in mob violence and embody fascism while hiding behind the acronym ANTIFA. The hypocrisy doesn’t stop there, this far left group accuses anyone who dare oppose them, or will not comply with their fascist dictates to be a Nazi, a white supremist -- white or not -- a racist and most ironically, a fascist.

Lets quickly go over what a fascist is: A fascist is characterized by dictatorial power and individual(s) who try to control others in a forceful and unfair way, expecting unquestioned obedience through intimidation. Fascists like “ANTIFA” forcibly suppress opposition and demand a strong regimentation of society and of the economy, fascist have been known to call what they were doing a form of revolution, and as you would expect they will often never admit they themselves are actual fascists. Hiding behind the acronym “ANTIFA” which they claim stands for “Anti-Fascist”, these violent far left extremist engage in overt and covert fascist tactics which take place daily on the streets of Portland, Oregon and across America. Fascist like so called “ANTIFA” use and condone violence when attacking individuals that they view as “other”, they co-opt movements and are engaged in racist and hateful tactics. Keep in mind the recent tensions between members of BLM and Antifa who both seem to hide behind acronyms insisting they are the “good guy” while committing unspeakable acts of violence. These far left anti-American extremist groups have co-opted a movement and used it as a shield while spewing hate and propaganda against the Americans they see as opposition.

Antifa and other far left extremists have taken over neighborhoods and streets while demanding that tax paying citizens come out of their homes and that diners stop eating and come and join them in the streets. If homeowners or diners refuse, they risk intimidation and/or attack, if a citizen is caught in the cross fire of one of these vicious mob gatherings the far left extremist will demand that innocent bystander leave the area under threats of violence, and often times they will brutally attack. No one is safe from the mayhem that the far left has unleashed on our society, we have witnessed motorists dragged from vehicles and beaten unconscious in our streets, and sadly as we have seen they will even commit murder on a busy sidewalk in a busy downtown area, like what happened to Aaron Jay Danielson in Portland, Oregon this summer.

Far left extremists have been committing lawless acts and countless violent crimes, including murder in full view of witnesses for far too long. They commit these unspeakable acts with almost no intervention from law enforcement due to destructive polices from politicians like Kate Brown. They are brazen and many know that Democrat run cities will not hold them accountable, why else would they commit these criminal acts in full view of law enforcement while recording their own lawlessness, afterwards they will celebrate. When these far left terrorist took over the streets of Salem and began attacking motorist on Sunday many pro-freedom Oregonians surely feared for their safety, if not their lives. Many of them may have hoped that nearby law enforcement would intervene swiftly, unfortunately multiple motorists would be violently attacked and their vehicles badly damaged before OSP, SPD and SWAT finally intervened.

When you read our next article regarding the 55 year old man who was forced to draw his firearm for protection, you will further understand why now more than ever, Oregonians need their second amendment freedoms in all places and at all times.

Video courtesy Sergio Olmos and Maranie R. Staab

--Esther August

Post Date: 2021-04-01 09:37:17Last Update: 2021-03-31 18:10:46

Several confrontations lead to arrests

PT News Journalist and live streamer, The Black Conservative Preacher -- also known as BCP -- from Portland, joined fellow hard working Oregonians who drove from Sandy to our state Capitol in Salem on Sunday to exercise their first amendment right of Free Speech and to peaceably assemble. Men, women, children and senior citizens caravanned to Salem in an effort to celebrate freedom and express their frustration with being shut out of our state capitol while unconstitutional legislation is forced through without a vote of the people. Those who made the trip were met by a violent mob of far left extremist who could be seen on video waiting with large rocks and other weapons for vehicles to approach. Passing motorist were even fired upon with paint ball guns.

According to a statement made by The Black Conservative Preacher, motorists including veterans and individuals not associated with the rally were violently attacked by an estimated “200-300 Antifa” on Sunday afternoon. This was not a gathering where two groups in opposition of one another met up, this was a gathering of violent far left extremists flying their red and black flag while attacking motorists on an American street if those motorists dared to fly the American flag.

In watching the 1:27 video you can see what looks like members of the militant terrorist group ISIS wearing all black. Many are in tactical gear armed with weapons and wearing bullet proof vests, aggressively blocking streets and violently attacking motorists. The ISIS like mob came armed with a variety of weapons including what appeared to be firearms, they were clearly ready to instigate violence and had been preparing to do so for over a month, according to a post made on a far left Facebook Page.

In action and in tactics this group largely resembles ISIS though you may be surprised to learn they are not, the majority of them are violent far left extremists, “Antifa”, and other far left sympathizers. Holding true to their historic violent nature, their purpose was to interrupt this peaceful demonstration and to do so with extreme violence, they dawned helmets and carried make shift shields with their gas masks at the ready. They came ready to attack and were armed with large rocks, wooden poles, paintball guns, bats, skate boards, law enforcement style asp batons, bear mace, and anything else they could get their hands on, including paint, which they threw on cars. During the violent attacks the mob plunged a large tree branch through the passenger side windshield of a small red truck where a female passenger was sitting. The violent mob was relentless, attacking vehicles, ripping private property from the beds of passing motorists trucks, kicking and punching at vehicles, threatening countless individuals and blocking traffic. They terrorized motorists and even attempted to blind them by pointing lasers into the eyes of drivers as they operated their vehicles, a crime that Anthony Villandea, 18 was arrested for on 5 counts.

With clear disregard for human life, the far left attackers lobbed rocks through the windows of passing motorists vehicles, at one point shattering the drivers side window of the small red truck which sent glass flying into the cab and the faces of the driver and his passenger.

The violent mob could clearly be seen waiting for motorists to approach as they blocked traffic and threw objects, seemingly unchecked by local law enforcement in the area for some time. With all of the violence and chaos instigated by far left-extremist on Sunday, it is shocking that only 4 arrests were made, of those arrested were; William Lloyd Isham, 34 who is facing charges of interfering with a Police Officer, Nathan McFarland, 33 is facing charges of disorderly conduct in the second degree, and Andrew Alan Foy, 34 is facing charges of disorderly conduct in the second degree.

Though crimes such as Reckless Endangerment ORS 163.195, Menacing ORS 163.190, Unlawful use of teargas/mace ORS 163.212, and many other crimes were committed on Sunday, the most profound were the Hate and Bias crimes committed by far left extremists against motorists for their race, gender and perceived religious beliefs and national origin. Far left extremists and their supporters are not quiet about their distain for White males, Christianity, the American Flag or America. Watching the videos one can clearly see that each individual attacked on Sunday meets all or part of the above criteria. One well known far left sympathizer and suspected ANTIFA affiliate made a recorded video statement while talking to “The Black Conservative Preacher” (you will learn more about BCP in a separate article) stated that the only reason he was talking to BCP was because BCP was “black” and referred to the white individuals standing next to The Black Conservative Preacher as “Trash” . It was not lost on BCP that he was being judged by the color of his skin instead of the content of his character or value as a human being. The hypocrisy and racism of the far left is undeniable and Sundays crimes should be evaluated as the hate crimes that they really are. In a follow up article you will hear more about the attacks that took place on Sunday March 28th 2021.

Video courtesy of Independent Media PDX

--Esther August

Post Date: 2021-03-31 09:23:01Last Update: 2021-03-31 16:37:17

We learned a new term: ‘essential’ work

Of note the last few years have brought much change to our state due to rural forest fires and riots on the streets of Portland. We see an exodus form our state on one side and a migration of homeless encampments everywhere. None of us want anyone out on the streets. Still, we need to operate our government. How does this affect our election process?

Towns have burned down from our forest fires. Businesses contend with COVID-19 operational restrictions. People have lost or changed jobs. We learned a new term: ‘essential' work. Second amendment law infringements motivate people to move away. Things are different in Oregon.

The Transition Project on Irving currently has 381 active voters and 1,802 inactive voters registered when I checked with Multnomah County Elections officer, Eric Sample. The people registered to vote at this address get some services here such as their mail. I question if we should be saying these are permanent residences and never require their address to be updated as HB 2681 would change, Currently, anyone would need to vote or update their address within the 10 years. If they don’t vote for 10 years, that might be an indication that they are living somewhere else. HB 2681 would remove any requirement to vote or update the address.

I also understand from Eric Sample that he estimated somewhere between a few hundred and a thousand people were registered at the elections office. He said it was difficult to look up by address without checking specific voter, although their office was able to check the other address for me.

Portland has acquired some motels in the area to house homeless folks. There are a number of other homeless facilities in just Multnomah County. God bless all the people who made this happen to bring some comfort and protection to our neighbors. These facilities are not permanent residences. They are temporary facilities by design.

Representative Dan Rayfield (D-Corvallis) has introduced HB 2681, which reads “Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, the registration of an elector may not be considered inactive due to an elector not voting or updating the elector’s registration for any period of time.”

The Election Assistance Commission suggests as well as Oregon used to require a voter to vote in 2 consecutive federal elections or be removed from the voter rolls. Secretary Richardson moved to have that change to 10 years. With our homeless population on the rise, fires destroying whole towns, and changing demographics we should not go to ‘never update’ the voter rolls but instead tighten, go back to the four year Supreme Court sanctioned time frame, if we want our population to be accurately represented in the vote. If our goal is to have accurate voter lists.

Most states require proof of residency. We do not. HB 2681 will weaken our voter rolls. Our voter rolls will become bloated and cost tax payers more money to deliver ballots to people who no longer live here. Just plain old dirty voter rolls.

When voters loose confidence in the election they stop voting. We must build confidence in our election process and that starts with clean voter rolls.

The House Rules Committee will have a work session on this bill and consider amendments on Thursday April 1 at 1:00pm. No fooling.

--Janice Dysinger

Post Date: 2021-03-31 09:11:56Last Update: 2021-03-31 15:48:34

They dig a hole right back into a class society

Waiting in the wings for a work session is HB 2991, introduced by Barbara Smith Warner (D-Portland), seemingly a spokesperson for BIPOC. The bill requires the Legislative Policy and Research Office to prepare an estimated racial and ethnic impact statement, if requested by a member or committee of the Legislature to determine the effect on “traditionally marginalized groups.” If a negative impact is estimated, the bill cannot be moved to the floor of either chamber.

For many years, bills were required to have a fiscal impact statement -- what the cost was expected to be for state government -- and a revenue impact statement if either were applicable. Recently, bills are required to have an Open Government Impact Statement. Perhaps we're seeing the mushrooming of different kinds of "statements" that need to follow bills around. One can imagine a "Carbon Footprint" statement, but let's not say that too loudly.

What might seem to be beneficial for the “traditionally marginalized groups”, could have grave unforeseen consequences. These groups are defined as:

(a) Women
(b) Persons with disabilities
(c) Blacks or African-Americans
(d) Hispanic or Latinx persons
(e) Asians or Pacific Islanders
(f) American Indians, or
(g) Alaska Natives

The statement is to be “impartial, simple and understandable” including the “methodologies and assumptions used in preparing the estimate.” But then it violates its own “impartial” requirement by “including a description of any consultation with community-based organizations or persons with expertise in the impact of implicit or inherent bias on traditionally marginalized groups.” Where is the impartiality when only the marginalized communities are consulted?

To further restrict the bills being introduced, the committee must consider ways to eliminate or mitigate the estimated negative impact on any “traditionally marginalized groups,” and must be resolved for a positive impact before it can be moved to the floor for a vote. Why not make this a resolution for everyone?

These statements would be very time consuming to document a subjective guess that has no basis in fact, and make it look impartial with an underlying assumption that all bills will be partial to the “traditionally marginalized” with a blind eye to equity. At what point does it become "reverse discrimination?" When there is an overwhelming benefit or handout to the 'underprivileged' ‘underserved’ to such an extent that it affects every law, then socialism has taken control. Oregon's population is 85.06% white. So, the under-represent is 15% of the total population. How much does the 85% have to give through taxes, jobs, opportunities, businesses before it violates the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. which says: “No State make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privilege or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” Public policy covers everyone equally and when you start naming a group, it is no longer equality.

As much as BIPOC wants to equalize social and economic circumstances, the more they dig a hole right back into a class society that is kept by government. When the free market is manipulated with estimates aimed at a specific group, the results are never economically sound.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-03-31 08:57:43Last Update: 2021-04-01 15:15:18

A machine is doing the required reading of the bills.

Last week the Oregon House due to confirmation of an individual testing positive for COVID-19. The individual had been present on the House floor on the 15th and 16th. Legislators were notified on the 22nd at the end of the first House floor session of the day. All other House floor sessions for the week were canceled.

This week House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) had planned daily double floor sessions to start moving the flow of backlogged bills. However, Sunday afternoon, Lindsey O’Brien, Chief of Staff for Speaker Kotek sent out an email to members saying in part:

With another confirmed COVID case, floor will be effectively canceled tomorrow (Monday 3/29).

In addition, the Speaker has directed the Clerk to begin using computer software to read lengthy bills upon final passage to further reduce the risk of virus transmission when the House is in session for the purpose of bill reading.

The requirement to read bills aloud before the final vote on the House or Senate floor is imbedded in the 1859 Oregon Constitution. However, it can be suspended by a vote of 2/3 in order to save time. In the House that is 40 votes. In the Senate it is 20.

After the Supermajority Democrats adopted rules this session allowing the Speaker to fine unexcused lawmakers up to $500 a day, essentially ending the walkout option, the Republicans turned to the Constitution to slow the movement of bills. This is one of the few remaining tools available to Republicans, who hold 23 seats in the 60-member House. Last week, House Minority Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby) reiterated this to Speaker Kotek expressing that bills were moving too fast through committee with little public input. She said, “As long as the building is closed to the public and deeply controversial legislation continues to be fast-tracked in committees, we will continue to depend on the Constitution, to remind the supermajority we should not operate like it’s business as usual while the public is shut out."

This rational has not set well with Democrats. During a floor session earlier this month, House Majority Leader Barbara Smith-Warner (D-Portland), expressed her displeasure with the Republican tactic by stating “It is so disappointing that, yet again, we are being forced to read non-controversial bills on the floor to delay the legislative process. This feels like another tactic designed solely to slow down the process of doing the people’s work”. She went onto say that “the work we are doing here is critical”.

However, just days later, HB 2060, which was only 11 pages long, was read in its entirety and took only approximately 15 minutes. After the reading, Representative Smith-Warner made a motion to send the bill back to the Rules Committee. Representative Smith Warner is Chair of that committee. She noted that “there are a few items in this bill, that given further review, we believe, need some more work, so we are hoping to send it back to rules.” This begs the question; if this bill had not been read in its entirety for the third time before the vote, would the flaw in this bill have

been corrected once it reached the Senate? If adequate time and testimony are being given in committee, why was this not caught before sending it to the floor?

Also, according to a spokesperson for House Speaker Tina Kotek, the rationale behind the computer voice being used for third readings was “to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission for everyone who works in the chamber. However, as the House got back to business on Tuesday morning, the Clerk was present on the floor and continued to read the messages from the Senate, first and second reading of bill titles, of which there were 73, as well as a proposed amendment change to the House Rules. Only the third reading of the bills was placed on the computer.

When it was time for the 3rd reading of the bills, Representative Power (D-Milwaukie) tried to move the first bill of the day, HB 2111, back to committee in order avoid the mandatory 3rd reading of the bill before the vote. The motion failed on party lines. Motions to rerefer need 40 of the 60 votes.

Rep. Smith-Warner then moved to suspend the rules for the reading of the bill in its entirety for today only, but again the motion failed due to it needing 40 votes.

The computer system then began reading the first bill of the day, HB 2111 which is 170 pages long and “Changes the name of Oregon Liquor Control Commission to Oregon Liquor and Cannabis Control Commission”. As Representative Smith- Warner said, “the work we are doing here is critical”.

--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-03-30 18:31:30Last Update: 2021-03-30 19:01:34

Hard-core legislation is starting to move

As strongly partisan Democrat bills inch toward the finish line, Republicans in both chambers have been using multiple tools to stop what they consider to be legislation harmful to the state.

SB 554 was slowed in the Senate as six Senators walked out and the remainder engaged in procedural slowdowns on the floor of the Senate. The bill barely passed the Senate anyway with 16 yes votes. It has moved to the House, where it has been read for the first time. It has not yet been assigned to a committee.

House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby) indicated that Republicans were about prioritizing 2021-2023 budget bills in the Oregon Legislature, saying, “As legislators, our priority is to help Oregonians with programs and support that they need, especially after a year of the pandemic and natural disasters,” said House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby.) “Part of this commitment is to ensure we have a balanced budget prior to our constitutional deadline before adjourning this session. That’s why today Republicans committed to suspend third readings of 2021-2023 budget bills, which ensures we prioritize critical funding for Oregonians.”

Republicans have the option of using other slowing tactics like having every member speak on every bill and making motions regarding the status of the bill. These tactics have the effect of slowing down legislation in general as well as creating a bargaining token to give back in exchange for killing some piece of legislation.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-30 17:17:33Last Update: 2021-03-30 17:40:23

The victims we serve deserve better

Eight of the nine Female District Attorneys from across Oregon released a joint statement accusing Senate and House Democrats of proposing bills that would threaten the safety of Oregonians.

“We should not return to the days when a rapist would merely receive a probationary slap on the wrist or the man who nearly killed his wife would be simply admonished to ‘walk away next time she pushes your buttons’,” stated the news release from the Marion County District Attorney’s Office.

“This statement is a compelling and powerful condemnation of attempts to repeal Measure 11,” said House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby.) “We should listen to these women and abandon dangerous plans to remove these protections for crime victims and communities.”

Outlined in the release are four bills that would fully repeal Ballot Measure 11, which provides a crucial safeguard for the public: SB 191, SB 401, HB 2172and HB 2002

“Our criminal justice system can always get better. And while we support smart, responsible policies that can make the process more equitable and fair for all, repealing Measure 11 does not do that. And the victims we serve deserve better,” added the District Attorneys in their release.

The signers include:

Paige Clarkson, Marion County DA & Oregon District Attorney’s Association President
Lanee Danforth, Lincoln County DA
Rebecca Frolander, Wallowa County DA
Beth Heckert, Jackson County DA
Gretchen Ladd, Wheeler County DA
Kelsie McDaniel, Union County DA
Patty Perlow, Lane County DA
Carrie Rasmussen, Hood River County DA

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-30 12:53:03Last Update: 2021-03-30 13:51:12

The case involves racketeering, fraud and violation of civil rights.

Staci Trees isn’t the first Oregon public employee to file suit against her union over its refusal to grant her opt-out request. Nor is hers the first instance of the union clearly forging a signature on a membership form so it could continue to confiscate dues from a worker who no longer wanted to pay.

But Trees’ case is the first to invoke the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act, alleging the union engaged in a pattern of fraudulent activity victimizing both her and other union members.

The lawsuit was filed on March 29th in U.S. District Court in Eugene by the Freedom Foundation, a national nonprofit watchdog organization specializing in public-sector union abuses. It names Service Employees International Union 503, the Oregon Department of Administrative Services and its director, Katy Coba, as defendants.

Trees, employed by the Oregon Department of Transportation, was required to either sign a union membership card or pay an agency fee to SEIU 503 when she was originally hired in 2009. But in June 2018, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed in Janus v. AFSCME that mandatory union membership, dues and fees in the public sector are a violation of the worker’s First Amendment rights.

Within a month, Trees contacted the union and requested her release.

After numerous delays, SEIU 503 finally canceled her membership in December 2020. But Trees was informed in an email that the union would continue deducting around $100 a month in dues until at least February 2021 because, under the terms of a new agreement she signed in 2016, all memberships would be renewed automatically unless the worker opted out during an annual two-week window.

Trees, however, couldn’t remember signing such an agreement and, when she demanded to see it, not only had her signature been forged, but important personal details had simply been made up.

“If Staci Trees was the only person this had ever happened to, you could conceivably blame it on inefficiency or incompetence,” said Freedom Foundation attorney Rebekah Millard. “But this isn’t an isolated case.”

The Freedom Foundation is currently litigating four other forgery cases involving SEIU 503 in Oregon and has taken action in more than a dozen total forgery cases involving public-sector unions on the west coast.

“This is a pattern of behavior,” Millard continued. “This is how government unions are responding to Janus — by intimidating employees, lying or suppressing the truth about their rights and fighting every single attempt to opt out.

“And when all else fails,” she said, “they simply forge their signature on a phony contract, locking employees into new terms they never agreed to.”

Millard said SEIU’s actions violate both state and federal RICO laws because the union issued numerous electronic communications that fraudulently claimed Trees authorized deductions she didn’t.

Moreover, the complaint cites four other current lawsuits in which the SEIU 503 engaged in similar behavior against other Oregon public employees.

“It's time for the courts to recognize these are not isolated instances and take action to hold SEIU 503 accountable,” said Jason Dudash, the Freedom Foundation’s Oregon director. “And that’s just what this lawsuit is intended to do.”

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-30 09:07:04Last Update: 2021-03-29 21:53:03

Does Oregon need an Independent Scientific Review Board?

In 2015, the Oregon Legislative Assembly enacted SB 202 establishing the Task Force on Independent Scientific Review for Natural Resources. The Task Force evaluated and assessed the need for independent science reviews in Oregon and made recommendations to the Governor and appropriate legislative committees.

In 2017, SB 198 was introduced and would have created a permanent Oregon Independent Science Review Board. However, it only received a single public hearing and never moved out of committee. During the hearing, several natural resource organizations submitted joint testimony in opposition to the bill. They shared that “While we appreciate the Task Force's effort to design an independent and unbiased scientific review process for Oregon, given the extraordinary difficulty of eliminating perceived bias, we are highly skeptical that this process will produce any kind of consensus around answers to politically charged "high impact" questions”.

Currently, Representative Holvey (D-Eugene), believes that SB 198 from 2017 deserves to be revisited and has introduced HB 2386. The bill is almost identical to the 2017 legislation. It is summarized as:

“Establishes Oregon Independent Science Review Board. Establishes Independent Scientific Review Secretariat as administrative section within the Institute for Natural Resources at Oregon State University. Establishes Independent Scientific Review Fund. Continuously appropriates moneys in fund to Higher Education Coordinating Commission for distribution to Oregon State University for purposes of board and secretariat. Declares emergency, effective on passage”.

The bill received a hearing earlier this month and was again opposed by the same group of natural resource advocates as in 2017. The major concerns were similar but also emphasized the current climate that Oregon is facing.
  • With current budget constraints, this is not the right time to make this investment – The Legislature should focus funding on scientific research at our Universities not “think tank” reviews.
  • Even with proper funding, eliminating bias and achieving consensus will be extraordinarily difficult.
  • The “Independent Scientific Review” will likely fail to be truly independent. Board members serves at the pleasure of the Governor and therefore it’s impossible to ignore the possible influence the governor’s office may have on the outcome of “independent” reviews.
“Ultimately, this board risks becoming another place for special interest advocates to pursue changes to public policy by seeking the endorsement of a board appointed by a political office,” the coalition concluded.

William Edge from Oregon State University, who was on the original 2015, taskforce stated in testimony that “The task force concluded that most single agency scientific reviews can be met with existing State, Federal and academic resources, but we did find that review practices and capacity for conducting quality reviews varied substantially among agencies”. The last statement he made were the same concern that the coalition, in opposition to the bill, had when raised when they stated, “The bill language fails to provide the board with direct oversight, limits to discretion, performance standards, legal obligations or overall best practices for scientific review”. Therefore, it appears that the concerns of Edge regarding agency lack of best practices are also the concerns of those opposed to the bill.

Several legislators asked questions of Edge during the testimony around, how things would be handled since science does not always agree, how industry experts would report to this board, and how the board would assess validity. Representative Susan McLain (D-Hillsboro) raised a concern that encompassed many of these feeling when she asked, “There are scientists all over the world and one panel of scientists in Oregon being the only place for us to have what we are considering to be ‘the science board’ or ‘the blue-ribbon board’, causes me some concern."

The bill is currently scheduled for a work session in the House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources on March 30 at 3:15pm.

--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-03-29 21:35:19Last Update: 2021-03-29 21:45:52

Survey shark says there’s blood in the water

Some would say that Democratic Party mismanagement of the state is what has attracted numerous Republicans to stick their necks out early and test the waters.

If you're on a desktop or laptop, you can participate in our informal poll, above, and let us know who you'd vote for.

Editor's note: if you're on a mobile device, you can vote next time you are at a laptop or desktop.


Post Date: 2021-03-29 14:57:27Last Update: 2021-03-29 20:02:47

Deschutes County Sheriff responded

On March 28, 2021 at about 12:00 AM deputies from the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office and Officers from the Bend Police Department were dispatched to a stabbing on China Hat Road near Sunset View Drive. A female witness called 911 and reported her friend was stabbed in the neck and the head by an unknown male.

Law Enforcement and Paramedics from the Bend Fire Department met up with the victim at the Walmart parking lot. The male was transported to St. Charles Medical Center in Bend with serious injuries.

Detectives from the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office were called to conduct an investigation. The investigation determined that Reyes knew the victim and believed the victim was a witness in another criminal case involving Reyes.

Reyes met up with the victim and a female witness on China Hat Road with the purpose of assaulting the male, because Reyes believed the male gave information about him in the other criminal case.

When Reyes arrived, he and the victim got into a physical fight where the victim was eventually stabbed.

Deschutes County Sheriff arrested 33 year old, Anthony J Reyes.

The investigation is still ongoing. No further information is available for release at this time. The sheriff’s office was assisted by Bend Police Department and the Bend Fire Department.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-03-28 19:29:24Last Update: 2021-03-29 14:43:19

Interested residents in Clackamas County should apply

Clackamas County Commissioners are seeking interested residents to serve on county Advisory Boards and Commissions (ABCs). These ABCs offer residents the opportunity to become very involved in their community.

Individuals interested in this opportunity can apply online or via a paper form that can be obtained from the Public and Government Affairs Department by calling 503-655-8751 or in person at the Public Services Building at 2051 Kaen Road in Oregon City.

The Clackamas County Mental Health and Addictions Council has 13 openings, each of which carries a three-year term. The council advises commissioners and the county Behavioral Health Director on community needs, gaps in services, barriers and priorities related to providing mental health and substance use services (including education, prevention and treatment), review grant proposals or other funding requests for state funds as required by ORS 430.350, and other grant requests as feasible, and provide a link to the community at large through advocacy, public information, and education.

The council has ten meetings that are scheduled each year on the fourth Tuesday of the month (no meetings in March/December) from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. These meetings are currently being held virtually via Zoom.

If and when they go back to in person, the meetings will be held at our Clackamas County Mental Health Crisis Clinic at 11211 SE 82nd Ave, Suite O, Happy Valley, OR 97086.

More on the Clackamas Mental Health and Addictions Council can be found online.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-03-28 16:59:14Last Update: 2021-03-29 14:44:34

Saudi students aided in fleeing justice in Polk and Benton Counties

Recently, it was discovered that several Saudi Arabian college students studying in Oregon who had been charged with various felony level crimes had fled the United States before trial, with the help of the Saudi government. The students were all represented by Oregon attorney Ginger Mooney. At least two of the cases happened right here in Polk and Benton Counties.

What nobody has reported until now are the irregularities with the bail money that was paid by Ginger Mooney’s client, the Saudi government, to Oregon’s circuit courts. In at least one case, a large amount of bail money paid to the Polk County court is apparently unaccounted for.

It is a state-wide law (ORS 135.280) that when a defendant out of jail on a 10% bail deposit fails to appear in court, the court must order that bail money forfeit -- even the remaining 90% that had not yet been paid. All of Oregon’s circuit courts and attorneys know exactly how to properly handle bail, which is why these two local Saudi cases stand out.

In the 2014 Polk case (No. 14CR30024), defendant Abdulaziz Hamad Al Duways was accused of violent sexual crimes against a fellow student at Western Oregon University. At his first appearance, then-Judge Sally Avera ordered bail set at $4.5 million. While that may sound like an appropriate amount of bail for such horrific crimes, it is actually wildly unconstitutional according to Oregon law -- which sets bail amounts by the offense charged. In this case, bail would normally initially be set at or about $1.25 million.

Judge Avera certainly knew that it was not constitutional, which calls into question what she thought she and court staff were doing.

At Al Duways’ next appearance, Ginger Mooney negotiated Judge Avera down to $500,000 -- a sum that the Royal Consulate General of Saudi Arabia agreed to pay, turning over the 10% deposit of $50,000 into the custody of Polk court staff.

When Al Duways was spirited back to Saudi Arabia and failed to appear in court, a month and a half after his release on bail, Judge Avera was required by law to immediately follow Oregon’s statewide bail procedures: She had a duty to send an official notice to the Saudi Royal Consulate, then release the $50,000 deposit to Oregon’s Department of Revenue, and then enter a court order compelling the Saudi government to pay the remaining $450,000 in bail money through the court, to be released to the Department of Revenue.

Instead, Judge Avera did nothing. She sent no notice, signed no order, failed to acknowledge the $50,000 that was already in the court’s possession, and failed to send a bill for the remaining $450,000 owed to Oregon by the Saudi government.

The fate of the $50,000 paid to the court remained entirely unknown until 2019, after Ginger Mooney and her Saudi cases was first reported by national and international media. That spring, I brought the issue of the unreleased bail money to the attention of Polk Trial Court Administrator Heidi Bittick, on the off chance that she had somehow overlooked it. Bittick refused to give a straight answer, and would state only that “$50,000 is being held in the state of Oregon.”

Technically, that would not be a lie even if the money was being hidden in Bittick’s sock drawer. However, Bittick was terminated as Court Administrator shortly thereafter. In a Bureau of Labor and Industries complaint that Bittick filed in the wake of her termination, she claimed that she was fired by Polk Presiding Judge Norman Hill due to her “whistleblowing activity,” and that Judge Hill subjected her to “unwarranted discipline” regarding court cashbox money she discovered to be missing. The Saudi bail receipt was filled out by Bittick personally. Whether Bittick misappropriated the money herself or did so as part of a larger scheme is a question that may be answered by the records surrounding her termination. Except those records are unfortunately “confidential” according to the Oregon Judicial Department, who refuses to release them to the media or the public.

Other Saudi cases at Polk and other courts strongly suggest that this was just one episode of a repeated scheme to take custody of large amounts of Saudi bail money that would then be abandoned when the Saudi government predictably removed the defendant from the US, causing him to fail to appear in court.

Regarding Al Duway’s case in Polk, Judge Hill was recently notified that the court had failed to order the release of even the $50,000 deposit to the State of Oregon. Judge Hill has thus far also refused to act, or even acknowledge, that there is a problem in his courthouse regarding the disappearance of bail money.

The situation was slightly better in a 2014 case (No. 14CR16191) in Benton County, although the crimes charged were even more abhorrent: ten counts of encouraging child sexual abuse. That defendant, Waleed Ali Alharthi, was bailed out with another $50,000, again paid by the Saudi Royal Consulate.

It took another half-year for Alharthi to flee the same way Al Duways had, but he did so -- using his Saudi passport, even though it was supposed to be held securely in the custody of the court.

Unlike Polk County, the Benton court ordered the $50,000 deposit released to the State of Oregon immediately. But like Polk, Benton also refused to send the Saudi government the bill for the remaining 90% ($450,000) they owe to the State Oregon.

Even after the Benton District Attorney vehemently complained to the court about letting the Saudis off the hook for the $450,000, Ginger Mooney inserted herself into the discussion, confusing the matter and encouraging Judge Matthew Donahue not to follow Oregon law.

These two cases alone represent $1 million that should, by statute, have been used by the State of Oregon to support the Crime Victims Fund. The fund was set up by the legislature to help Oregonians victimized by criminals to recover mentally, physically, and financially from exactly the kinds of crimes these Saudi defendants were charged with -- and were enabled to escape trial for. So far, only 5% of that million dollars has reached the Crime Victims Fund -- a mere $50,000, all of it from Benton. Polk still has not turned over a single penny.

If the law is not followed in extreme cases such as these -- in which defendants accused of horrific crimes are enable to flee back to a country they cannot be extradited from, such as Saudi Arabia which has no extradition treaty with the US, then when can the public count on Oregon’s courts and judges to follow the law?

If it takes only $50,000 to buy justice for a Saudi defendant accused of horrific sexual offenses, what else can criminals getting away with by leaving piles of cash unattended with the courts?

US Senators Merkley and Wyden have shown lasting concern and interest in these Saudi cases from an international perspective. They need to hear from the public that Saudi interference in Oregon’s court system is unacceptable.

--Stephanie Volin

Post Date: 2021-03-28 14:59:14Last Update: 2021-03-28 17:01:32

Delays in election counting and reporting erode confidence

Numerous bills are being introduced this Legislative session that would inject chaos into our election day calendar. Each bill as a separate issue, but it’s hard to get the big picture without talking about the overall effect.

After Election day, we already have a two week period to ‘cure’ ballots that were rejected for bad signatures or no signature at all. Maybe we should go back to in person voting so we can make sure their signature matches in the first place.

Representative Rayfield, Senator Dembrow introduced HJR 11 that would allow same day voter registration. Do you want bus loads of people showing up to register to vote on election day? Its happened before.

Harney County Clerk, Dag Robinson sent in testimony for HJR 11 objecting to the bill. He cited two different instances where there were real threats to our Oregon election system from same day voter registration.

Now, we are considering letting ballots come in by mail up to 10 days after the election. What is the big push to do these things? After all, we have automatic voter registration.

Senator Knopp introduced SB 694 which requires ballots for general and primary elections that are received after election to be counted if postmarked no later than Saturday before date of election and received no later than seven calendar days after election. Prohibits individual from collecting and returning ballot of other individual, subject to specified exceptions. Requires Secretary of State to submit biennial report to Legislative Assembly identifying name, address and birthdate of each individual who cast more than one ballot in single election during previous two years. Declares an emergency so it would be effective upon passage.

Representative Marty Wilde (D-Eugene) introduced HB 2226. This bill requires ballots returned by mail to be postmarked not later than date of election. Requires county clerks to announce status of tally of ballots received after election date on third and eighth calendar days after date of election. Prohibits individual from collecting and returning ballot of other individual except on date of election. Applies to elections held on or after January 1, 2022.

Representative Dan Rayfield (D-Corvallis) also introduced HB 2687 which requires ballots returned by mail to be postmarked not later than date of election. Requires county clerks to announce status of tally of ballots received after election date on third and eighth calendar days after date of election. Applies to elections held on or after January 1, 2022.

We already have early voting, nearly three weeks We don’t need to extend the time to get a ballot to the elections office so we have late voting too. There are drop boxes all over the county people can access in those last days.

Delays in election counting and reporting erode confidence and create opportunities for fraud. Besides, people want the results on election evening. Once results are known then there is knowledge of how many ballots are needed to change close races. Extending the time only gives opportunity to for clandestine ballots to manipulate the count.

It doesn’t make sense for good governance to inject opportunities to commit fraud.

--Janice Dysinger

Post Date: 2021-03-28 12:29:48Last Update: 2021-03-28 12:39:14

Most victims just want to see justice

Jerry was my older brother. He was a popular guy and known for is big wide smile. He was full of fun, talented, skilled and hard working. I loved and admired my brother. Jerry had two children and was a devoted father! His son David was six and the his daughter Michelle was 11. He loved those kids so much!

Jerry loved camping, hunting and fishing and being outdoors. He was an engineer with the forestry service. He mapped out the roads and helped manage large areas of eastern Arizona forest and then later worked in Whitefish Montana doing the same thing. Eventually the warm climate of Arizona brought him back. The forestry service valued his service a great deal. He had a helicopter at his disposal to go out to check on how the decisions he engineered would impact the forest. He cared a lot about the forest, the people and animals.

One day he was at a dance where a woman approached him for help. She said that her boyfriend was drunk and after her and she was scared. He really didn’t want to be involved with their relationship but she begged him a number of times because she was afraid. He eventually went with her to a restaurant to have some coffee and talk.

The drunk boyfriend, Ted, followed them. When Jerry saw him he asked they guy to sit down, told him he would leave so they could work things out. The fellow, Ted, said: “NO! But you are going to be sorry!” Ted left.

Jerry went to pay for the coffee, as he told me later, he had a horrible feeling something bad was going to happen. As they stepped out of the restaurant the bullets started flying. Ted had gone home and got his 22 rifle, came back and was looking for them. He fired multiple times. The girl got under one of the cars outside of the restaurant. People were there and called the police. But in those few minutes Ted turned on my brother and shot him in the back. Jerry fell to the ground after one shot hit him in the spine.

Jerry was paralyzed as the guy stood over him threatening to finish him off. When the police came, Ted turned the gun on himself. The police talked him out of it. I talked to Jerry about the night he was shot. I heard what happened directly from him.

Jerry lived for two more weeks while the doctors tried to help him recover after surgery. The bullet had bounced around from organ to organ and he had so many injuries. Finally blood clots went to his brain and he died.

Jerry was trying to make sense of the situation. Being an active outdoorsman and facing being paralyzed was a huge blow to him. He had done nothing wrong and was a productive member of society taking care of his family.

The day the blood clots struck his brain was so hard. I knew in my spirit the moment it happened and called the hospital to find the doctor was working on him and they were on their way to surgery to see if they could alleviate the stroke. For three days I sat beside his bed as the doctors had to establish every cell in his brain was dead before they could turn off any life support that was keeping his heart pumping. That was due to the fact that his was now a murder case and the hospital did not want to be responsible for any chance at causing his death, so they did every test twice. His hands already had rigor mortis in them.

I was a nurse. The X-rays around the room showed the extensive injuries he endured. I knew he was gone, but the docs said we needed to keep talking to him because he might come back. My mom and dad were grief stricken. The whole family was. Three long days we sat with him, talked to him about our childhood, our home, our families time together and how we loved him.

He left behind two young children. They miss him, Lots of people miss him. He died at age 38. I will always miss him. Ted took all of Jerry’s rights -- forever removed by this fellow who served six years because the judge said Ted was drunk when he killed my brother so he really wasn’t responsible -- fully. Jerry is still gone.

Senators Sara Gelser (D-Corvallis), Floyd Prozanski (D-Eugene), Michael Dembrow (D-Portland), Chris Gorsek (D-Portland), Kate Lieber (D-Beaverton), Representatives Janelle Bynum (D-Clackamas), Pam Marsh (D-Ashland), Andrea Salinas (D-Lake Oswego) have sponsored SB 571 to restore the voting rights of incarcerated felons so they can register and vote while serving time in prison. I suppose they will have more voters from it. Proponents say it will help connect the prisoners with the community.

People are in prison for violating other peoples rights and to protect society from harm they may perpetrate. It is the consequences they face.

I think it is great when people face their mistakes and change their life direction for good. We are all sinners. I do believe in redemption, but some people don't care , feel remorseful or repent. I gave Ted a bible with his name on it. I told him about Jesus how he died to save us all from the punishment from hell and restore us to himself for eternity. Ted never said a word to our family. I have to leave it there. It is in God’s hands.

Those who have violated others all need to serve their time. Most prisoners will be released at some point. Let them enjoy their restored voting rights then.

My brother's rights were permanently taken from him. SB 571 is about justice. Most victims of violent crime and their families just want to see justice. We do not seek revenge. We know all to well nothing will bring them back. But there has to be some justice for crime. There just has to be if we are to live in a just and peaceful society. Our family members are precious to us. Does the judicial system say their lives don't really matter? Do they have value to society? Its just not ok to violate other people’s rights and face zero consequences.

The Senate Committee On Judiciary and Ballot Measure 110 Implementation will have a work session on SB 571 on March 31 at 8:00 AM to decide if felons should have their voting rights restored while they serve time in prison.

--Janice Dysinger

Post Date: 2021-03-27 21:11:51Last Update: 2021-03-27 22:29:48

Felons should not be in possession of guns

An armed, wanted felon had barricaded himself in his home for 10 hours in the Richmond Neighborhood in Portland, and the Portland Police had asked neighbors in the area to shelter in place.

The subject was identified as Robert W. Delvin, 50.

He was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center on charges of Unlawful Use of a Weapon, Felon in Possession of a Firearm (5 counts), Reckless Endangerment (3 counts), Discharge of a Firearm in the City (city code), and Attempt to Elude by Vehicle.

The investigation began on Wednesday, March 3, 2021 when the Portland police were called to the home in the 3700 block of Southeast Brooklyn Street.

Investigating officers learned that at about 11:30a.m., Delvin fired a handgun at someone outside his home.

The person he fired at is still unidentified and there is no indication that person was injured. But officers learned that a 5-year-old girl and her nanny were nearby (in the direction where the pistol was pointed) when the shot was fired. They were not physically injured but ran after the shot. Officers with the Central Precinct Neighborhood Response Team did follow-up investigation and applied for the search warrant.

The felony Attempt to Elude charge was added due to Delvin's failure to stop when officers tried to pull his vehicle over Friday.

After Delvin was in custody, Central Neighborhood Response Team and Central Precinct patrol officers served the search warrant. They located and seized as evidence five firearms (two handguns, an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle, a Mini-14 semiautomatic rifle, and a shotgun) and at least 500 rounds of ammunition.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-03-27 13:33:22Last Update: 2021-03-27 22:11:39

Keeping primary schools closed linked with declining mental health

A tracker from Burbio on K-12 school openings ranks Oregon second to last in the country.

Burbio.com aggregates school, government, library and community event information and consists of more than 80,000 K-12 school calendars from all fifty states.

The extensive amount of time that Oregon students have attended school from home may have serious implications for their academic success and mental health. Even a hybrid schooling method still requires a significant amount of time at home:

“Beginning in April 2020 the proportion of children’s mental health-related ED visits among all pediatric ED visits increased and remained elevated through October. Compared with 2019, the proportion of mental health-related visits for children aged 5-11 and 12-17 years increased 24 percent and 31 percent respectively.” – Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, November 13, 2020.

“These findings suggest that the decision to close US public primary schools in the early months of 2020 may be associated with a decrease in life expectancy for US children.” – University of Washington, Seattle and University of California, Los Angeles, November 12, 2020.

Most states in the country have been reopening after numerous studies point to safe conditions that would allow willing students to attend school in-person with minimal COVID-19 risks:

The CDC guidance, under President Biden, recommends that schools can reopen with successfully implemented mitigation strategies.

“Our data indicate that schools can reopen safely if they develop and adhere to specific SARS-CoV-2 prevention policies.” – American Academy of Pediatrics, January 6, 2021.

“...we see no indication that in-person school re-openings have increased COVID-19 hospitalizations in the counties below 36-44 new COVID-19 hospitalizations per 100,000 per week. Neither the levels nor the trends change in any direction when schools open in [counties below 36-44 new COVID-19 hospitalizations per 100,000 per week], even as far as 6 weeks after schools reopened. In fact, we often see precise estimates suggesting declines in hospitalizations in these low-baseline COVID-19 counties…” – National Center for Research on Education Access and Choice (REACH), Tulane University, January 4, 2021.

The negative academic effects of at-home learning still have not been adequately measured in Oregon, and plans to do so have been delayed. Miguel Cardona, the Secretary of Education selected by President Joe Biden, this week affirmed the need for standardized testing when saying that student data obtained from the tests is important to help education officials create policy and target resources where they are most needed. “We have to make sure we laser-focused on addressing inequities that have existed for years. … Every bit of data helps,” added Cardona during a legislative conference.

Even 2020 high school graduation rates are misleading since the Oregon Department of Education drastically altered its graduation standards. As recently as 2017, Oregon had the second-worst graduation rate in the country, and the true extent of negative impacts from at-home learning on graduation rates is not clear.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-27 10:00:23Last Update: 2021-03-27 10:14:10

Some bills to watch in the Revenue Committee, but not just yet

Editor's note: This is the sixth in a multipart series exploring tax measures before the Oregon Legislature during the 2021 session

"Gut and stuff" may sound like something that a hunting party does after a successful day tracking big game, but it's actually something less dramatic. It describes the process in the Legislature of amending a bill by removing all the contents of the bill and replacing them with something else. It's pretty common.

Often, legislators will introduce "placeholder" bills because the concepts behind them are still being discussed. In the 2021 session, there are several of these lurking in the House Committee on Revenue -- where all bills for raising revenue must originate.

The bills are:
  • HB 2432 Directs Legislative Revenue Officer to report to Legislative Assembly on options for income tax credit reform including recommendations for legislation intended to reform current income tax credit system.
  • HB 2433 Directs Legislative Revenue Officer to study state and local tax systems and report findings to interim committees of Legislative Assembly related to revenue no later than September 15, 2022.
  • HB 2434 Directs Legislative Revenue Officer to report to Legislative Assembly no later than February 15, 2022, on options for revenue system reform including recommendations for legislation intended to reform current system for raising revenue.
  • HB 2435 Directs Legislative Revenue Officer to report to Legislative Assembly no later than February 15, 2022, on options for tax reform including recommendations for legislation intended to reform current tax system.
  • HB 2436 Directs Legislative Revenue Officer to report to Legislative Assembly no later than February 15, 2022, on options for corporate tax reform including recommendations for legislation intended to reform current corporate excise and income tax system.
  • HB 2437 Directs Legislative Revenue Officer to report to Legislative Assembly no later than February 15, 2022, on options for income tax reform including recommendations for legislation intended to reform current personal income tax system.
  • HB 2438 Directs Legislative Revenue Officer to study property tax reform and report findings to interim committees of Legislative Assembly related to revenue no later than September 15, 2022.
  • HB 2972 Directs Legislative Revenue Officer to study land value taxation and submit report to interim legislative committees related to revenue.
Don't for a minute think that the House Revenue Committee needs to pass a law to get the Legislative Revenue Officer to prepare a report on some tax issue.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-27 09:48:58Last Update: 2021-03-20 22:29:55

Why is the Oregon Legislature so unprepared for a virtual Legislative Session?

On March 8, 2020 Governor Brown issued Executive Order 20-03 Declaring and Emergency for COVID-19. On April 15, 2020, the Governor issued Executive Order 20-16 after several County and City elected officials asked for a variance in public meeting law so that they could continue to conduct the business of the public as safely as possible throughout the declared emergency. The EO allowed elected officials and appointed public boards to use video communications to hold public meetings and allow the public to access and participate in those meetings while keeping in person gatherings at a minimum.

Ten months after the initial Emergency declaration and nine months after moving all other public bodies to video meetings one would have thought that the State of Oregon would have been better prepared to handle a virtual legislation session.

When the legislature convened on January 19, 2021, there were no custom designed Oregon Legislative virtual meeting platforms, but rather the Legislature chose to use Microsoft Teams, an off the shelf chat-based collaboration platform. A platform designed for business use, not for running and managing public meetings.

Written testimony and meeting links remained on the legacy system used by the legislature, The Oregon Legislative Information System. However, video being used was no longer the legacy 1-way systems where video cameras broadcast the hearings live from the hearing rooms. Instead, the meetings were conducted on the Microsoft Teams platform managed from wherever the Chair of the Committee might be hosting from that day. Some host from their homes and others from their offices at the Capitol. Equally, due to the Capitol not being open to the public, many legislators also join the meetings from their homes rather than their Capitol offices.

One of the issues with the virtual hearings, that has become evident, is that not all legislators are well versed or well trained in the use of Microsoft Teams. They try to run the meeting both judicially and functionally. This is a challenge they do not have to do when committees meet in person. During that situation, the committee administrator and the assistant manage the technical aspects and the legislator does what they do best; they run the meeting.

Another distraction with the virtual hearings has been the loss of professionalism and decorum. If a person chooses to go to the capitol to testify, there were rules of engagement for the public to follow and the process was typically professional, and the elected officials were treated with respect and those testifying were treated with mutual respect. This session during the virtual hearings there has been video of lawmakers falling asleep on camera, people testifying using their middle finger at the camera, a Legislator with a cat wrapped around their neck, and people on camera, but not testifying, making lunch, and proceeding to eat it on camera. Unlike in person committee meetings where attention of committee members was easy to gauge, and public testimony and spectators kept in check.

In an open letter posted on the #Timberunity Facebook page to House Speaker Kotek from Jen Hamaker, she expressed some of the frustrations held by many Oregonians since session began in January. She wrote in part:

“Representative Kotek, this legislative session has been anything but transparent.

I’ve waited for hours to give testimony only to have the meeting end before I was able to testify. I’ve rearranged my day, and childcare to give testimony only to have the hearing cancelled and rescheduled. I’ve seen technical glitches and issues galore that prohibited Oregonians from being able to testify. I’ve witnessed Committee Chairs cut people’s testimony to 30 seconds instead of 3 minutes”.

She closed her letter with a plea that summed up the desires of many Oregonians. She said,

“If you don’t want public engagement, you’re going at it the right way! I request that you organize our House so that it reflects inclusivity, transparency and democracy which means a government where people participate”.

The Oregon Legislature and the Oregon State Capitol has always been the people’s house. COVID-19 has shut the people’s house down and turned the 81st Legislative Session into bad version of the 1960’s version of Hollywood Squares.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-26 09:53:31Last Update: 2021-03-26 15:09:09

These bills have the effect of raising taxes.

Editor's note: This is the fifth in a multipart series exploring tax measures before the Oregon Legislature during the 2021 session

As short -- less than a page -- bill, HB 2254, requires addition, in determination of Oregon taxable income, of amount of compensation above $1 million threshold paid by taxpayer to any individual and deducted as business expense. In short, tax deductions won't apply to income over $1 million, at least for the purposes of calculating state taxes.

It's pretty clear that the spirit of the bill -- introduced by Representative Marty Wilde (D-Eugene) -- is to generate extra revenue from "the rich," but it may have the effect of punishing small businesses, because of the way they file taxes. Many small businesses file as individuals and while $1 million is a large annual income for an individual, even a very small business can generate that level of revenue.

The effective part of the bill reads.

There shall be added to federal taxable income the amount of any individual’s compensation paid by a taxpayer that is in excess of $1 million for the tax year and that has been deducted on the taxpayer’s federal return under section 162 of the Internal Revenue Code.

HB 2255, also introduced by Representative Wilde, is similar. It limits, for purposes of personal income taxation, availability of itemized deductions, using phaseout based on adjusted gross income of taxpayer.

A taxpayer’s itemized deductions are the amount of the taxpayer’s itemized deductions as defined in section 63(d) of the Internal Revenue Codeshall be reduced by five percent for every $50,000 by which the taxpayer’s adjusted gross income exceeds $500,000.

In a time of record revenues coupled with a recession focused on small businesses, some think that these proposals are unnecessary and even mean-spirited. Neither bill has been scheduled for a hearing in the House Committee on Revenue, but this committee is not subject to the chamber deadlines faced by other committees.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-26 09:39:53Last Update: 2021-03-20 22:09:38

It’s about the kids, you know

Today the Senate Majority Party passed controversial SB 554. Their press release shortly after the vote, however had an interesting headline: “Senate Democrats Approve Bill to Protect Students, Public Workers and Communities from Gun Violence.” How?

During the over 3 and a half hours of testimony, never once did the sponsors of the bill or the supporting Senators explain how Concealed Handgun License holders were a threat to students, public workers and communities. In one of his many speeches on the floor during debate, Senator Knopp (R-Bend) stated that “CHL holders are some of the most law-abiding citizens and in fact they are even more law-abiding that police officers when it comes to committing crime.” Not once during questioning and debate on the floor by the Republican Caucus was the question answered by the Democrats as to how a sign saying “no CHL allowed on the premises or in the building” help.

Still, Senator Ginny Burdick (D-Portland), the driving force for many years behind the regulation of firearms and attacks on legal gun owners stated when she presented the bill “I, like so many Oregonians, have been distressed by the tragedy of gun violence and the rise of extremism. Communities throughout Oregon deserve the ability to decide whether to allow firearms into public buildings, such as schools and office buildings. SB 554 will create safer environments for learning and working while allowing flexibility for schools and local governments.”

One of the motions by the Republicans to refer the bill to Ways and Means for a fiscal was due to asking the question “Isn’t this just the same as the honor system we have in place today?” asked Senator Knopp. The question centered around the cost to truly keeping all guns out of public places and the cost of metal detectors for those places if they were to adopt SB 554. It does not stop criminals from conceal carrying in public buildings only those that go through extensive background checks for the legal right to do so.

Senator James Manning (D-Eugene), another champion of the bill expressed his support and pleasure in passing the bill saying “SB 554 does not impact one’s ability to get a CHL, but if a public entity decides, they can eliminate firearms on their premise no matter your CHL status, which I believe removes intimidation and leads to a healthier workplace. It gives choice. It will make our schools safer, public workers safer and the community members who need to go to these buildings safer,” said Senator Manning. Again, the Senator failed to answer the question how it will make the schools, public workers, and community members safer without law abiding citizens being allowed to legally carry a firearm?

It should be noted that Senator Betsy Johnson (D-Scappoose) crossed the aisle and voted against the bill along side the Republican Caucus. The bill now heads to the to the House for further consideration.

--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-03-26 09:22:54Last Update: 2021-03-26 13:54:48

Despite banning cash, they were unable to avoid COVID-19

Most legislation focuses on one issue or one area of law. Bills look at healthcare or transportation or water or housing and suggest changes to existing laws or implementation of new ones. However, some bills grab several areas that could be impacted by a single specific action such as discrimination and groups them together in one bill. SB 746 is one of those bills. While it is dealing with many topics around discrimination, it has brough back one specific topic from a bill heard during the 2020 session, HB 4107. The topic of accepting cash as legal currency for goods and services.

In 2020, HB 4107 was modified in committee and took on a broader scope which could have made it difficult to implement or possibly not legally enforceable. However, in a rare move, the bill was substituted on the floor of the House with the Minority Party Report and then moved over to the senate with some bipartisan support. There it was further fine-tuned and amended into HB 4107 B. Due to the walkout, the bill never finished its journey and died in the Senate Committee on Rules. Had SB 746 passed, businesses would have been forced to accept cash, with limited exceptions under the new law despite the declaration of an emergency.

However, during the pandemic some businesses choose to go to credit only payment and refused to accept cash. Dutch Brother Coffee was one of the most prominent businesses to do so. Shortly after the beginning of the COVID-19 Pandemic, they made the decision to “temporarily suspended the use of cash due to COVID-19”, according to their web site. At the beginning of February 2021, almost a year into the pandemic, Dutch Brothers responded to an inquiry on their Face Book page as to why they were still not accepting cash. They shared “We’re so sorry for this inconvenience! At this point, we do need to maintain our touchless transactions for the safety of both our customers and our baristas. We’ll be accepting cash again as soon as it’s safe to do so”!

Despite Dutch Brothers banning cash, they were unable to avoid COVID-19 being contracted by their employees. Several locations over the last year have reported cases of COVID-19 among their workforces. Cash has never been determined by the Center for Disease Control or the Oregon Health Authority to be a source in the contraction of or spreading of COVID-19. Just over a year after the temporary suspension, Dutch Brothers is once again accepting cash. However, the Governor’s emergency Executive Order surrounding COVID-19 remains -- as does the existence of the disease.

Senators Floye Prozanski (D-Eugene) and James Manning (D-Eugene) have introduced SB 746. SECTION 1 of the bill, PROTECTION AGAINST PAYMENT DISCRIMINATION is identical to the SECTION 1 in HB 4107 from the 2020 session. It would require businesses to accept cash as legal payment. Perhaps this time the bill will get across the finish line and those citizens that only choose to or need to use cash, will no longer be left out of the ability to purchase goods and services.

SB 746 currently resides in the Senate Committee on Labor and Business and has a public hearing and a possible work session scheduled for April 1, 2021.

--Terese Humbolt

Post Date: 2021-03-25 19:26:12Last Update: 2021-03-25 19:43:32

“This radical policy does nothing to solve gun violence”

In the wake of tragic shootings, Democrats advanced what many call "feel-good legislation" that threatens the safety of communities by rolling back Oregonians’ self-defense rights.

Amid rising violent crime, Democrats voted to advance SB 554, which would strip responsible Oregonians from defending themselves in certain settings, notably, public buildings. The move comes the same week Democrats entertained legislation that would let violent offenders off with lighter punishments.

“Let me be clear, this radical policy does absolutely nothing to solve gun violence or make communities safer,” Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod (R-Lyons) said. “It will make it worse. Democrats have brought forth zero evidence that this will do anything except criminalize responsible Oregonians. At a time when Democrats are advancing ideas that would embolden violent criminals and hamstring police, to simultaneously strip responsible Oregonians of self-defense rights is unconscionable.”

After Portland politicians defunded the Gun Violence Reduction Unit, shootings have skyrocketed by 2,000%. Firearm homicides have reached record levels, none of which have been alleged to have been committed by a CHL holder. Portland-area residents have rushed to get a concealed carry license to protect their families and neighbors.

Senator James Manning (D-Eugene) one of the chief sponsors of SB 554. “I am a gun owner. I’m a military veteran and a former law enforcement officer. That means I have seen -- many times -- that when a gun is present the situation is more dangerous and the loss of life is more likely,” said Senator Manning. He did not elaborate on these incidents. “SB 554 does not impact one’s ability to get a CHL, but if a public entity decides, they can eliminate firearms on their premise no matter your CHL status, which I believe removes intimidation and leads to a healthier workplace,” added Senator Manning. “The bill makes sense. It gives choice. It will make our schools safer, public workers safer and the community members who need to go to these buildings safer,” said Senator Manning.

SB 554 will make it harder for communities who have to bear the brunt of bad public safety policy to exercise their right to defend themselves,” Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend) said. “It also increases the cost to access that right. That will only serve to price low-income Oregonians out of defending themselves and their families.”

Republicans offered alternatives that would have given Oregonians and policymakers insights on how to bolster public safety. A 2020 Rand Corporation study found no existing data adequately evaluated the relationship between “gun-free zones” and mass shootings. Republicans’ Minority Report commissioned a study to gather valuable data about gun violence in public spaces. Democrats rejected this evidence-based approach.

Republicans also offered Oregonians the chance to weigh in on this divisive legislation by proposing an amendment to send it directly to voters. Democrats rejected this pro-democracy proposal.

SB 554 restricts where Oregonians can defend themselves from violent attacks but fails to mandate that local jurisdictions who adopt these restrictions provide other safety measures. Republicans requested information about the cost of implementing metal detectors and hiring security. Again, Democrats blocked this prudent public safety step.

“Republicans proposed common-sense, data-driven approaches that would protect Oregonians’ constitutional rights and enhance public safety,” Senator Lynn Findley (R-Vale) said. “It is unbelievable that Democrats weren’t interested in the facts and instead, are clearly determined to pursue a political agenda at the expense of our rights. The data we have make it clear that CHL holders are some of the most law-abiding citizens in our state. This bill will simply single them out at no benefit to public safety.”

Data suggest that less than 0ne-hundredth of one percent (.0074%) of Oregonians with CHLs commit felonies. In Texas and Florida – two states that track concealed carry license data in detail – permit holders commit crimes at 1/6th the rate of police officers, a group that already very law-abiding.

CHL holders also stop crime. According to the FBI, 3.2% of active shooter situations are stopped by someone with a CHL. Other research suggests that they stop up to 16.5% of mass murder situations.

While Democrats were rejecting common-sense Republican proposals, they also voted against the United States and Oregon Constitution. The Republican Minority Report included clauses affirming Oregonians’ Constitutional right to defend themselves. SB 554 also makes responsible Oregonians criminals overnight with punishments of $125,000 and up to 5 years in prison. These are the same monetary fines as rape in the third degree and some child pornography charges.

“Our society is beginning to embrace a principle of rehabilitation for non-violent offenders to decrease prison populations,” Senator Girod (R-Lyons) said. “This bill flies in the face of that. The stiff penalties it imposes are completely contrary to that principle.”

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-25 12:12:22Last Update: 2021-03-25 16:22:54

Senate Democrats approve plan to steal $15 million from taxpayers

Over unified Republican opposition, Democrats voted in lockstep to keep money that is projected to be returned to Oregon taxpayers.

SB 846, introduced by Senate President Peter Courtney, would divert $15 million from the anticipated Kicker to other programs. Oregon’s unique kicker law is the last check Oregonians have against runaway bloating of state government.

“At a time when Oregonians need money in their pockets, Democrats are intent on nickel and diming them,” Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod (R-Lyons) said. “Republican legislation that would exempt stimulus checks from state taxes is being stalled in Committee, while the Governor’s proposals that take millions from taxpayers move at breakneck speed. All the while, the state is raking in billions in federal aid.

“Our budget is doing better than expected but that is obviously of no consequence to Democrats. Oregonians are struggling. Taking money that constitutionally belongs to them is unacceptable and wrong.”

By changing the dates of future budget changes, Democrats are setting themselves up to take even more of the Kicker in the coming months. If revenue projections hold steady, Oregon taxpayers would get $570 million back via the Kicker. With the changes in SB 846, the Kicker has been reduced to $555 million. Further changes in the bill set the stage for Democrats to prevent the kicker from kicking altogether.

Oregon’s unique Kicker law enshrines in our Constitution the principle that tax dollars belong to Oregonians, much to the disdain of Democrats. In recent years, they have stolen more than $100 million from taxpayers.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-25 11:37:40Last Update: 2021-03-25 12:12:22

And you thought COVID was bad

Public health officials in Oregon are monitoring four people who recently visited the West African countries of Guinea and Democratic Republic of the Congo. Regions in each of these countries are currently experiencing outbreaks of Ebola virus disease. There is low risk for people in Oregon.

Oregon Health Authority, Directed by Pat Allen, and local public health departments have been in contact with these individuals, who are considered “persons under monitoring,” since they arrived in the state earlier in March. The goal of this contact is to determine their risk, if any, of being exposed to Ebola and ensure their safety, as well as the safety of their families and the community.

“We want to make sure these individuals have the support they need to monitor their health, stay in contact with public health officials and safely get help with medical services if it comes to that,” said Richard Leman, M.D., Chief Medical Officer for Health Security, Preparedness and Response at the OHA Public Health Division.

As of March 24, Guinea has reported 18 Ebola cases and nine Ebola-related deaths. The Guinea outbreak is centered in Nzérékoré Prefecture, which is in the southern region of the country near the Liberian border. Democratic Republic of the Congo has reported 12 Ebola cases and six Ebola-related deaths. The outbreak in DRC is in North Kivu Province, which is in the eastern part of the country near the Ugandan border. The outbreaks are limited to small areas of each country and are not in large population centers.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has issued Level 3 travel warnings for the affected regions in both countries, recommending people avoid nonessential travel there.

Beginning March 4, CDC has required all airlines to supply contact information for all U.S.-bound travelers who have been in Guinea or Democratic Republic of the Congo in the last 21 days — the largest known incubation period for Ebola. U.S.-bound travelers who have been in affected countries are routed through six international airports: Dulles in Washington, D.C.; John F. Kennedy in Queens, NY; Newark Liberty in Newark, NJ; O’Hare in Chicago, IL; Hartsfield-Jackson in Atlanta, GA; and LAX in Los Angeles, CA. Upon arrival, they are interviewed to determine if they are symptomatic and to confirm their contact information. If they are symptomatic, they will be offered medical evaluation.

CDC shares information for travelers from affected regions whose itineraries include Oregon. That way, public health authorities can contact these travelers and ensure they know symptoms to watch for and how to receive prompt medical evaluation if they become ill with symptoms consistent with Ebola. OHA and local public health officials also are reaching out to international non-governmental organizations with services in the affected countries to request early notification for any volunteers traveling to Oregon after recent work in those areas.

In addition, OHA and local public health officials are contacting community-based organizations in Oregon to help the persons under monitoring with language access and other support services.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-25 11:34:36Last Update: 2021-03-25 11:37:40

It’s hard to not suspect bad motives behind the proposal

Representative Dan Rayfield (D-Corvallis) has introduced HB 2681, which reads “Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, the registration of an elector may not be considered inactive due to an elector not voting or updating the elector’s registration for any period of time.”

This will degrade our election voter rolls and list maintenance from this year and every year going forward it will get worse.