What will the 2024 presidential ballot look like?
Donald Trump vs. Joe Biden
Donald Trump vs. some Democrat other than Joe Biden
Some Republican other than Donald Trump vs. Joe Biden
Some Republican other than Donald Trump vs. some Democrat other than Joe Biden
Northwest Observer
Subscribe for Free Email Updates
Search Articles

On this day, May 19, 2011, doctors in Oregon announced that electrodes implanted on the spinal cord of Rob Summers (25) had reactivated nerve circuits and allowed him to consciously move body parts that had been paralyzed following a 2006 hit and run accident.

Also on this day, May 19, 2014, a federal judge threw out Oregon's same-sex marriage ban, which was enacted into the Oregon Constitution by a vote of the people.

Post an Event

KSLM Coffee Klatch, Jeff Kropf M.C.
Monday, May 20, 2024 at 6:00 pm
All Welcome. Political Theme Discussions, Candidates, Legislators, Local speakers Come early to order food and mingle. Additional info announced on Jeff's KSLM show week-days, 6-7am.
Spark's Brewing Company, 1252 23rd ST. NE, Salem

Election Integrity Symposium
Friday, May 24, 2024 at 1:00 pm
1-5:30, $25 adm. Speakers include Phil Izon from Alaska Ranked-Choice voting Education Association, Mark Cook from Colorado IT witness on Tim Sipple case, and Dr. Frank on how to use data to approach clerks. Washington County will give a report on finding dead voters. And others to give information on how to approach counties for in-person voting.
Keizer Civic Center, Keizer Oregon

Multnomah County Fair
Saturday, May 25, 2024 at 9:00 am
Multnomah County Fair
Oaks Amusement Park

Memorial Day
Monday, May 27, 2024 at 11:00 am
Memorial Day
A federal holiday in the United States for honoring and mourning the U.S. military personnel who died while serving.

Wednesday, June 19, 2024 at 12:00 am
Celebrated on the anniversary of June 19, 1865, when in the wake of the American Civil War, Major General Gordon Granger ordered the final enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation in Texas.

Lincoln County Fair
Thursday, July 4, 2024 at 8:00 am
July 4-6
Lincoln County Fairgrounds

Independence Day
Thursday, July 4, 2024 at 11:59 pm
Independence Day

Marion County Fair
Thursday, July 11, 2024 at 8:00 am
July 11-14
Oregon State Fair & Expo Center

Jackson County Fair
Tuesday, July 16, 2024 at 8:00 am
July 16-21
Jackson County Fairgrounds - The Expo

Columbia County Fair
Wednesday, July 17, 2024 at 8:00 am
July 17-21
Columbia County Fairgrounds

Linn County Fair
Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 8:00 am
July 18-20
Linn County Expo Center

Washington County Fair
Friday, July 19, 2024 at 8:00 am
July 19-28
Washington County Fairgrounds - Westside Commons

Coos County Fair
Tuesday, July 23, 2024 at 8:00 am
July 23-27
Coos County Fairgrounds

Curry County Fair
Wednesday, July 24, 2024 at 8:00 am
July 24-27
Curry County Fairgrounds - Event Center on the Beach

Hood River County Fair
Wednesday, July 24, 2024 at 8:00 am
July 24-27
Hood River County Fairgrounds

Jefferson County Fair
Wednesday, July 24, 2024 at 8:00 am
July 24-27
Jefferson County Fair Complex

Lane County Fair
Wednesday, July 24, 2024 at 8:00 am
July 24-28
Lane Events Center

Clatsop County Fair
Tuesday, July 30, 2024 at 8:00 am
July 30 - August 3
Clatsop County Fair & Expo

Malheur County Fair
Tuesday, July 30, 2024 at 8:00 am
July 30 - August 3
Malheur County Fairgrounds - Desert Sage Event Center

Benton County Fair & Rodeo
Wednesday, July 31, 2024 at 8:00 am
July 31 - August 3, 2024
Benton County Event Center & Fairgrounds

Deschutes County Fair
Wednesday, July 31, 2024 at 8:00 am
July 31 - August 4
Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center

Union County Fair
Wednesday, July 31, 2024 at 8:00 am
July 31 - August 3
Union County Fairgrounds

Yamhill County Fair
Wednesday, July 31, 2024 at 8:00 am
July 31 - August 3
Yamhill County Fairgrounds

Klamath County Fair
Thursday, August 1, 2024 at 8:00 am
August 1-4
Klamath County Fair

Wallowa County Fair
Friday, August 2, 2024 at 8:00 am
August 2-10
Wallowa County Fairgrounds

Baker County Fair
Sunday, August 4, 2024 at 8:00 am
August 4-9
Baker County Fairgrounds

Harney County Fair
Sunday, August 4, 2024 at 8:00 am
August 4-9
Harney County Fairgrounds

Sherman County Fair
Sunday, August 4, 2024 at 8:00 am
August 19-24
Sherman County Fairgrounds

Crook County Fair
Wednesday, August 7, 2024 at 8:00 am
August 7-10
Crook County Fairgrounds

Douglas County Fair
Wednesday, August 7, 2024 at 8:00 am
August 7-10
Douglas County Fairgrounds Complex

Grant County Fair
Wednesday, August 7, 2024 at 8:00 am
August 7-10
Grant County Fairgrounds

Josephine County Fair
Wednesday, August 7, 2024 at 8:00 am
August 7-11
Josephine County Fairgrounds & Events Center

Polk County Fair
Wednesday, August 7, 2024 at 8:00 am
August 7-10
Polk County Fairgrounds

Tillamook County Fair
Wednesday, August 7, 2024 at 8:00 am
August 7-10
Tillamook County Fairgrounds

Umatilla County Fair
Wednesday, August 7, 2024 at 8:00 am
August 7-10
Umatilla County Fairgrounds

Wheeler County Fair
Wednesday, August 7, 2024 at 8:00 am
August 7-10
Wheeler County Fairgrounds

Clackamas County Fair
Tuesday, August 13, 2024 at 8:00 am
August 13-17
Clackamas County Event Center

Morrow County Fair
Wednesday, August 14, 2024 at 8:00 am
August 14-17
Morrow County Fairgrounds

Wasco County Fair
Thursday, August 15, 2024 at 8:00 am
August 15-17
Wasco County Fairgrounds

Gilliam County Fair
Thursday, August 29, 2024 at 8:00 am
August 29-31
Gilliam County Fairgrounds

Lake County Fair
Thursday, August 29, 2024 at 8:00 am
August 29 - September 1
Lake County Fairgrounds

Oregon State Fair
Saturday, August 31, 2024 at 8:00 am
August 31 - September 9
Oregon State Fair & Exposition Center

Linn Laughs LIVE with Adam Corolla
Saturday, September 7, 2024 at 5:00 pm
Linn Laughs LIVE with Adam Corolla 5pm-9pm
Albany, OR

View All Calendar Events

House Republican Leader Helfrich Calls for Public Hearing on Ballot Mishandling
Secretary of State remains silent over ballot delays

Oregon House Republican Leader Jeff Helfrich (R-Hood River) is calling for the Secretary of State to appear before the Rules Committee for a hearing on May 31 to answer questions about the chain of custody issues surrounding the return of completed ballots.

Earlier this week, county clerks and the Secretary of State (SOS) engaged with the US Postal Service to determine why the USPS held up completed, mail-in ballots instead of turning them into the elections offices. Despite multiple inquiries, the SOS has failed to answer precisely how many ballots were affected, how many counties were affected, and what election officials are doing to prevent the problem from happening in the future.

“Oregonians deserve to have full faith and trust in our elections system, and it is the Secretary of State’s job to establish and maintain that faith and trust,” said Helfrich. “However, as of this writing, the Secretary of State’s office has yet to share precise details of both the problems that occurred and the planned remedy. The people of Oregon deserve answers in full view of the public to these fundamental questions.”



The following letter was sent to House Democrat leadership.

Dear Speaker Fahey and Chair Bowman:

As Vice-Chair of the House Rules Committee, I am requesting that you invite the Oregon Secretary of State to the committee hearing on Friday, May 31, 2024. In light of the recent issues arising over completed ballots not being delivered to county elections offices by the United States Postal Service, I feel it is necessary to hear directly from the Secretary of State.

Oregonians deserve to have full faith and trust in our elections system, and it is the Secretary of State’s job to establish and maintain that faith and trust. Even today, as I write this letter, the Secretary of State is using the hashtag #TrustedInfo2024 on social media. However, as of this writing, the Secretary of State’s office has yet to share any details or plan to prevent these same delays in the November general election. How can we trust their silence?

In a recent Oregon Public Broadcasting article, Molly Woon, the state’s elections director said “In no uncertain terms, they [USPS representatives] have said, ‘We will fix this. This should not be happening.’ We continue to have complete faith in the vote-by-mail system.” I look forward to hearing how the SOS and USPS will fix this. Unless I hear a specific plan to prevent similar delays, I find it hard to blindly have the same “complete faith” in the vote-by-mail system. At a bare minimum, we wish to hear answers to the following questions:

I look forward to receiving an update from the Secretary of State during a House Rules Committee hearing.

Sincerely, Jeff Helfrich
House Republican Leader

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-05-17 16:50:52Last Update: 2024-05-17 17:28:37

Public comment opportunity

Despite the pullback of auto manufacturers producing electric vehicles; east coast wind projects face cancelation and delays due to a supply chain crunch and high interest rates; and with all the environmental trash that windmills and solar panels create, including fowl carnage, Oregon leadership keeps pushing electric energy while eliminating fossil fuels, which is needed to produce electricity.

Portland General Electric (PGE) has filed a general rate increase to electricity rates. PGE provides electric service to approximately 920,000 Oregon customers. The filing requests an increase of overall revenues by $202 million or approximately 7.4% for all customer types combined. If approved, residential single-family customers using an average of 886 kilowatt hours (kWh) per month would see a bill increase of $11.33 (7.2%). For a residential customer in a multi-family home using an average of 590 kWh per month, bills would increase by $8.23. Oregon’s bread and butter small businesses are scheduled for the largest increase of 9.4%, large commercial rate increase is 7.4% and industrial rate increase is 4.2%. Actual percentage increases will vary depending on customer type and usage.

PGE identifies several reasons driving the general rate case filing, including investments in local battery energy storage projects for enhanced reliability and resilience during peak demand, transmission, and distribution to allow dependable energy flow as demand grows, and upgrades to technology and generation facilities for increased resilience and long-term, dependable power.

PGE’s general rate case filing is undergoing a nearly year-long review and will be fully investigated on behalf of electricity customers by the Oregon Public Utility Commission (PUC), the Oregon Citizens’ Utility Board, and others. PUC is hosting a virtual event for the public to comment on Thursday, May 16, 2024, from 6-7 p.m.

PDT, provides the opportunity to speak directly to the commissioners about the proposed rate increase. Customers may also submit comments in writing or by phone through June 14, 2024. This public comment event is part of the investigation, which will conclude in December when the Commissioners rule on the request. The Commissioners may approve or modify PGE’s request and will only approve rate increases if fully justified by the company. New rates, if approved, are expected to go into effect January 1, 2025.



Comment via Zoom or phone on Thursday, May 16 from 6-7 p.m. PDT. Access the Zoom link and phone-in details. Submit comments directly to the PUC by June 14, 2024 by using an online form and guidelines or email PUC.PublicComments@puc.oregon.gov. Mail comments to: Oregon Public Utility Commission, Attn: AHD – UE 435, PO Box 1088, Salem OR 97308-1088.

To stay informed throughout this case, individuals may request to be added to the distribution list to receive publicly available documents. Submit requests by email to puc.hearings@puc.oregon.gov or by calling 503-378-6678. Please specify Docket No. UE 435 in the request.

The PUC’s mission is to ensure Oregonians have access to safe, reliable, and fairly priced utility services that advance state policy and promote the public interest. Attempt is to use an inclusive process to evaluate differing viewpoints and visions of the public interest and arrive at balanced, well-reasoned, independent decisions supported by fact and law.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-05-15 20:30:12Last Update: 2024-05-16 00:04:15

USPS claims they are inept at counting bulk mailing

Oregon House Republican Leader Jeff Helfrich (R-Hood River) disclosed that ballots are being held by the United States Postal Service (USPS) instead of being returned to county elections offices. USPS is an executive branch agency of the federal government overseen by a Democrat president.

The USPS told county elections officials Wednesday that the ballots were being held because the USPS wanted a firm count on how much to bill for each ballot since Oregon Democrats voted to use business mail to pay for returning ballots. Are they really saying they take this action for all business bulk mail? How many elections have we had pre-paid return envelops and this is a new development? The issue has affected numerous counties in Oregon, though, the full extent is still being determined.

Confusion over another Democrat-passed law – one to extend routine ballot acceptance beyond Election Day – is also contributing to the situation, according to internal election sources. As a result, potentially thousands of ballots have been held from election offices. County elections officials are seeking answers, and a call between them and the Secretary of State’s Office has been set for Thursday morning regarding this problem.



“Voters deserve to have the utmost confidence in our elections, yet situations like this show how vulnerable our system is. Disruptions in the chain of custody – especially at this magnitude – are outrageous and unacceptable. This is the direct result of Democrat leaders meddling with election laws and failing to properly oversee ballot returns. Oregonians are entitled to immediate answers from their government about how this could happen and what is being done to protect the integrity of the election,” said Helfrich.

Some counties have a track-you-vote website that will verify receipt of your ballot. To avoid federal interference, place a stamp on your ballot. It not only bypasses those being help up, but it saves the state the postage charge.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-05-15 19:55:10Last Update: 2024-05-15 20:30:12

A Look at Oregon’s GOP Primary

In the realm of political discourse, the emergence of candidates like James Hieb and Todd Vaughn represents a pivotal moment for the Republican Party, particularly in Oregon. Their candidacies bring to light the essential role dissent plays within political parties, serving not only as a catalyst for change but also as a testament to the self-governing values that underpin our political system.

James Hieb and Todd Vaughn are "America First Conservatives." The "America First" Republicans, underscore a broader ideological battle within the Oregon GOP. Their platforms, centered on upholding the oaths to both the United States and Oregon Constitutions, prioritizing Oregonians' needs, and combating leftist infiltration in legislative politics, highlight the ideological divides within the party.

The differences between the establishment Republicans and the grassroots to most would be seemingly subtle, but it comes down to a candidate’s willingness to compromise values versus their loyalty to the purity of their political beliefs.

For instance, Hieb's opposition to Measure 110, his stance on repealing the Corporate Activity Tax, opposing tolling on freeways, retaining fossil fuel energy infrastructure, opposing the Green New Deal, support of the Second Amendment, and election integrity measures, all signify a clear demarcation from more moderate or establishment Republican viewpoints.

Former governor candidate Christine Drazan, who is a champion of the party establishment, is challenging State Representative James Hieb in the primary. Her critics characterize her as a "RINO" (Republican in Name Only) due to her support for policies viewed as left-leaning, including her voting in favor of the "Menstrual Dignity Act" and her backing of Black Lives Matter rhetoric, which further amplifies the debate on the direction of the Republican Party.



Todd Vaughn's opposition to corruption, cronyism, and lies, alongside his dedication to private stewardship, responsible forestry, and the protection of our natural resources, positions him as a candidate deeply connected to the concerns of rural Oregonians. Another distinguishing characteristic of Vaughn’s grassroots politics is his advocacy for fiscal responsibility, limited government, and recognition of the rights of the individual.

Vaughn is challenging the appointed incumbent in Senate District 1, David Brock Smith. Smith is a career politician who has willingly accepted donations from a San Franciscan Democrat who allegedly has committed voter fraud in California and Oregon since 2012. He has attempted a cover-up on a bill he sponsored, HB3375, which facilitated and fast-tracked the state’s goal of having three gigawatts of wind energy produced off the coast of Oregon by 2030. Smith has tried to deceive the public of his real intentions and re-write his record by claiming he has always opposed these types of green energy schemes. He votes a third of the time with the Democrats destroying any illusion that he is a conservative Republican.

The party’s internal conflict is not merely a power struggle, but a reflection of the broader debate over what it means to be a Republican in today's political climate.

The significance of these primary races extends beyond the fate of two candidates, one who is being challenged by an establishment candidate and one who is challenging an establishment candidate. It is indicative of the ongoing struggle to define the core principles of the Republican Party. The rise of grassroots movements and "America First" conservatives like Hieb and Vaughn suggests a growing disillusionment with the party leadership and a desire for representatives who echo the base's call for candidates that exemplify foundational conservative values and an uncompromising stand against the leftist agenda.



Encouraging open debate and discussion within the party is not just beneficial but necessary for its evolution and vitality. Dissent can lead to a reinvigorated party aligning more with its members' values and aspirations. It fosters a culture where diverse viewpoints are not only tolerated but should be embraced as a means of achieving a more robust and principled political entity.

Unfortunately, intimidation and retaliation are the recourse for anyone threatening or just questioning the authority of the establishment Republicans who are entrenched in the party’s leadership, which has divided the party into factions making it nearly impossible to work as a successful cohesive organization.

The GOP stands at a crossroads, with the outcome of races like those in Oregon serving as a barometer for the party's future direction. Will it choose to cling to the status quo, or will it seize the opportunity to redefine itself in a way that resonates with the broader conservative base?

History will show the odds are against party reformation, which could be the demise of its future. The establishment's incessant need for control will continue to alienate younger voters discouraging their participation leading to a destructive battle of attrition.

Only time will tell, but one thing is clear: the role of dissent, as exemplified by the candidacies of James Hieb and Todd Vaughn, will be instrumental in shaping the party's path forward. It is a struggle for the soul of the GOP, particularly in states like Oregon, which is emblematic of the larger ideological battles shaping our country's future.

By navigating these internal divides combined with self-reflection, the Oregon Republican Party has the chance to emerge as a unified force, grounded in principle, yet open to the changes necessary to thrive in an ever-changing political landscape.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Rob Taylor has been an activist for over 30 years and was the Winner of the 2024 Don McIntire Award for Excellence in Grassroots Political Activism. His podcast is located at www.RobTaylorReport or on Rumble and YouTube.

--Rob Taylor

Post Date: 2024-05-15 14:59:37Last Update: 2024-05-16 12:35:33

“Oregonians pay into unemployment. These are their dollars”

The Oregon Employment Department’s failure to implement Frances Online has meant Oregonians are without critical jobless benefits for weeks and sometimes months. Now a group of House and Senate Republicans has sent a letter to Governor Kotek urging her administration, in coordination with the Oregon Employment Department, to layout a detailed plan of action – beyond the normal increases to staffing – complete with aggressive increases in agency performance targets at set deadlines, as well as how the agency will achieve them.

“Oregonians pay into unemployment. These are their dollars, and it should be unacceptable to us that a state agency would even have a three-week target of delaying those dollars getting into the hands of those who need them, let alone the several months some are forced to wait,” said Representative Jami Cate (R-Lebanon).



“As inflation continues to send prices soaring, struggling families on unemployment have been left in the lurch by their state government. This is unacceptable. The administration must correct these delays immediately so that people dependent on these resources to survive can get them,” said Representative Jeff Helfrich (R-Hood River).

The letter reads as follows:

Dear Governor Kotek,

In the digital age, government agencies have increasingly relied on online platforms to improve the efficient delivery of services to citizens, making the continued challenges of the Oregon Employment Department (OED) to implement Frances Online a source of stark frustration to Oregonians. Frances Online was billed as an opportunity to streamline unemployment claims, enhance user experience, reduce processing times, and minimize errors. The unfortunate reality is that the OED is continuing to fail our citizens when they need these funds the most.

To many of us in the Legislature, it seems as though state agencies continue to grow and multiply. Time and again, agency failures are met with increased budgets and additional FTE. While the expansion of government services can be necessary to meet peoples’ needs in times of crisis, the lack of identifying the catalysts for breakdowns in efficiency and instilling the accountability necessary to get agencies back on track, raises serious doubts about how citizens’ hard-earned dollars are being spent – as is the case with the Employment Department.

Oregonians deserve assurance that their contributions to a state-run program meant to sustain them during a period of job loss will do just that. But today, federal data shows nearly a third of unemployed residents are forced to wait at least three weeks to get their jobless benefits paid. This staggering figure indicates a steep decline in timely payments, which is a troubling downward trend that began a year ago. In extreme cases, our offices have heard from constituents that have waited several months since filing claims to receive payments.

The Oregon Employment Department's failure to process claims in a timely manner has profound and immediate impacts on the financial hardship of workers across the state as they face economic uncertainty due to periods of job loss. Even the OED’s stated goal of processing claims in three weeks puts citizens at an increased risk of utility shutoffs, food insecurity, and houselessness. With soaring inflation and housing costs, too many Oregonians are forced to live paycheck to paycheck and disrupting that tenuous balance by delaying their benefit claims by even three weeks can be too much for them to bear while supporting their families. We see this in our inboxes from constituents every single day.

These processing failures also extend beyond individual hardships. Public trust in our government institutions is essential for fostering cooperation and civic engagement. The failure to deliver on promises of an efficient service provision erodes this trust, casting doubt on the OED's competence and accountability. In a time of increasing state agency turmoil, it is critically important that OED, in coordination with the Governor’s office, face these issues head-on—taking fast and effective steps to correct them.

We implore you to prioritize restoring the public’s trust in the OED by publicly releasing a detailed plan of action—beyond the normal increases to staffing—complete with aggressive increases in agency performance targets at set deadlines, as well as how the agency will achieve them. The backlog of cases at the department must be cleared, and a better strategy for communicating with claimants implemented. Oregonians need to see a shift in ethos in our state agencies, with a restoration of putting customer service first from every level of leadership. Citizens need to see true transparency in delivering results of equitable access to unemployment benefits, and an upholding of the OED’s mandate of supporting Oregon’s workforce.

We appreciate your attention to this urgent matter of improving such a vital state agency and look forward to your response.

The letter was signed by the Republicans leaders of both the House and Senate.

--Ben Fisher

Post Date: 2024-05-14 20:39:41Last Update: 2024-05-14 20:59:07

“There is no big shifts in public sentiment around the governor”

Oregon Governor Tina Kotek's approval rating is the lowest at 45% among governors. Is it deserved?

John Horvick, senior vice president at DHM Research, told Capital Chatter that” Generally speaking, governors in Oregon haven’t been popular for a long time. There’s no big shifts, I think, in public sentiment around the governor. Tina Kotek inherited the societal residue of her fellow progressive Democrat, Gov. Kate Brown." Kotek may have better priorities in homelessness and housing, behavioral health and addiction, and early childhood and education, but Horvick said of Kotek’s work, “people aren’t seeing that translated into material conditions in their lives or changes in homelessness or housing affordability.”

If Kotek really inherited Governor Brown’s unpopularity, how did she get elected? Kotek was Speaker of the House for nine years and shares in Brown's criticism for not having a clear vision or being a strong leader. Kotek's staff has viewed her as micromanaging, and is said to show no real interest outside her priorities. That is evident according to the way she runs the State Land Board as a dictator. Even though nearly 100% of testimony was against the State Forestry Board managing the Elliott Forest, the request for more time for consideration was willfully ignored.

Kotek attempted to create a job for her First Spouse in the Governor’s Office, and ignored all the signs of opposition, until her staff resignations brought media criticisms. By then her pullback was too late to prevent scrutiny.

It was under Kotek's leadership that legislature passed Motor Voter, officially making Oregon a sanctuary state. She over road voters giving illegals drivers license, striped law enforcement of funding and weapons to control riots, and continues to ignore slave camps.

Protests and riots aren’t new in Oregon. Governor Brown allowed a cop hating campaign develop into defunding, and told enforcement to stand down. What is Kotek doing? There is an increased move towards censoring against election misinformation and hate crimes when it goes against her policies. However, hate censorship at PSU and U of O is going unchecked. A recent poll shows that Portland area voters overwhelmingly disapprove of how local governments are tackling crime. Activity continues as late as Saturday with an attempt to occupy another building at PSU. At U of O, students are joining the big campout not even knowing what they are protesting.

Shemia Fagan’s resignation also exposed over 20 elected politicians who took money from La Mota. Kotek received $68,365 in 2020 according to Willamette Weekly. It also came out that La Mote owners allegedly owes government agencies and vendors millions that was ignored under Kotek’s watch. Kotek knew about Fagan, so why wouldn’t she know about La Mota’s connection to cartels?

Kotek is also responsible for former Secretary of State Fagan contracting with foreign run KNOWiNK. It cost nearly $10 million to connect all Oregon Election Tabulators to an Intranet server Microsoft Azure, which allows anyone with a password to connect to it and change the election data. Oregon's elections are not safe because of this vulnerability. Kotek had to know the Gartner Report found this system inadequate to operate for the 2024 election for her to authorize Fagan to sign the contract. Voters need to ask why $10 million is being spent on a system that blocks the constitutional option to vote in-person.

The Governor Brown appointed Supreme Court isn’t placating to Kotek and ordered Terri Lee Brown released after Kotek illegally imprisoned her by revoking her commuted sentence. Brown’s release was revoked even after she had already finished her sentence when Kotek took action. She completed a five-year sentence for two counts of mail theft, serving the last eight months under post-prison supervision. The Oregon Supreme Court unanimously ruled that Kotek’s actions were unlawful since Brown had completed her sentence.



Kotek’s advisory council floated possible massive tax increases in order to move Kotek’s agenda forward. They want people to be able to afford homes, so they recommended increasing income taxes, increase property taxes, double fuel taxes, and levy a sales tax. But increasing taxes will also reduces spendable income for housing.

Kotek’s advisory council is a-typical of why Oregon governors have not been popular for a long time. In order for Kotek to keep pace and excel where others haven’t, she has taken the same course. Oregonians see government as growing out of proportion to what government is meant to do.

Inheriting poor government policies isn’t a good excuse for low approval if the same strategy is continued. Until a governor is willing to cut and consolidate government, Oregonians seem set to continue to have low governor approval.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-05-13 11:39:37Last Update: 2024-05-13 23:43:57

Awareness and prevention are goals for this event

In recognition of National Missing Children’s Day, May 25, 2024, the Oregon State Police Missing Children/Adults Clearinghouse is holding an event at the north end of Capitol Mall Park in Salem. Oregon State Police (OSP) representatives and partner agencies will be on hand with activities and giveaways to provide resources for parents, guardians, and caregivers. The event is from 11 AM to 2 PM at Center Street NE between Winter and Capitol Streets.

As of May 8, there remains 11 missing children in Oregon in 2024. The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children lists 61 Oregon children still actively missing. It is often thought that abductions is a metro problem. However, only 4 of the 11 were in Portland.

The event will include informational booths from the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, Safe Oregon, OSP’s Missing Children/Adults Clearinghouse, and Marion County Sheriff’s Office Search and Rescue. Attendees can pick up free identification and DNA kits, visit with a police search and rescue K-9, and tour OSP’s new command vehicle.

Julie Willard, OSP’s Missing Children/Adults Clearinghouse coordinator, said, “National Missing Children’s Day is an opportunity to remember the thousands of children who go missing each year. We work to educate parents about how to keep their kids safe, and we teach children about the “4 Rules for Personal Safety” that they can learn about on Kid Smartz."

Kid Smartz is a child safety program that educates and empowers grades K-5 to practice safer behaviors. Please visit the Kid Smartz website for more information.

President Ronald Reagan proclaimed May 25, 1983, the first National Missing Children’s Day in memory of Etan Patz, a 6-year-old boy who disappeared from a New York City street corner on May 25, 1979. Etan’s killer was convicted in February 2017, but the case remains active because his body has never been recovered. National Missing Children's Day is dedicated to encourage parents, guardians, caregivers, and others concerned with the well-being of children to make child safety a priority. The commemoration serves as a reminder to continue our efforts to reunite missing children with their families.



AMBER Alerts is one way to get a rapid response. The AMBER Plan is a voluntary, cooperative partnership between law-enforcement agencies and broadcasters to send a rapid alert to the public when a child has been abducted and it is believed that the child's life is in grave danger. The program was created in 1996 in response to public outrage when 9-year-old Amber Hagerman was kidnapped and brutally murdered while riding her bicycle in Arlington, Texas.

AMBER stands for America’s Missing Broadcast Emergency Response. The AMBER Alert system has had a significant impact in recovering missing children. According to the statistics, as of December 31, 2023, 1,200 children were successfully recovered through the AMBER Alert system, and 180 children were rescued due to wireless emergency alerts. Additionally, a 2021 study found that Amber Alerts were often successful in familial abduction cases, but less effective in cases where a child was abducted by a stranger. OSP hopes awareness will help with prevention, and that’s the purpose of this event.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-05-09 22:14:44Last Update: 2024-05-09 23:03:08

Monique is the only candidate to receive law enforcement endorsements

Oregon Republican candidate Monique DeSpain has been reported for criticizing Rep. Val Hoyle for stating the southern border must be open. DeSpain is running against Amy Ryan Courser and Jeff Kubler in the Republican Primary for the Fourth Congressional District. The winner will face Val Hoyle in the General Election. DeSpain is making public safety a top priority. She states, "No common sense person can deny we have a crisis at our borders that will not be controlled if we do not secure our border. Our open border is both a serious national security threat to our survival as a country and an intentional humanitarian crisis of profound suffering for hundreds of thousands."

She has garnered the support of key law enforcement endorsements, making her the only candidate in the race to receive endorsements from law enforcement officials.

“I am humbled by the outpouring of support from retired and current law enforcement from every corner of our District, representing 478 years of service,” said DeSpain.

“Public safety is the number one responsibility of our government. Today, too many career politicians have abandoned this sober responsibility in favor of radically transforming our criminal justice system to one where law enforcement is defunded, criminals are rewarded, and crime victims are left abused and forgotten. Citizens are seeing their neighborhoods overwhelmed by crime, homelessness, and drug trafficking,” added DeSpain. “Every day, we read headlines of record drug busts of enough fentanyl to kill millions right here in our 4th District. We hear of devastated families mourning personal loss. Their loss is one of the 100 thousand overdose deaths a year. We see homeless encampments consuming parks and neighborhoods right here in our district. And we hear reports that hundreds of known terrorists have entered our country”

“As a retired Air Force Colonel and lawyer, I know what fighting for our country and and our communities looks like. I'm running for Congress to reverse the policies damaging our communities and harming people, and to restore the livability we all deserve. I will be a Member of Congress who prioritizes public safety and fights crime, starting with a secure, controlled border. Our law enforcement and our communities in the 4th District need reinforcements in Washington, D.C.,” said DeSpain. “In Congress, I will ensure our law enforcement has the authority and resources they need to keep us safe.”

“Monique brings the passion, experience, and sensibility needed to solve complex challenges. I noticed that she asks the right questions, relentlessly pursues the answers, and brings a fresh perspective that is often sorely lacking in the halls of government,” said Representative Ed Diehl.

Crime Victims United President Steve Doell said, “Monique DeSpain is the kind of fighter for public safety, law enforcement, and crime victims that we need in Washington, D.C. With Monique serving the 4th District in Congress, we can turn the tide and restore the rule of law, bring back safe neighborhoods, and once again see crime victims protected as they deserve to be.”



The following is a list of Monique DeSpain’s public safety endorsements: In addition, Monique has received letters of support from: Monique DeSpain is a retired U.S. Air Force Colonel, mother of twin boys, and public policy advocate who resides in Eugene, Oregon. She is a candidate for the Republican nomination for Oregon’s 4th Congressional District in a bid to unseat incumbent Congresswoman Val Hoyle in 2024 and bring about a safer, more prosperous Oregon. Go to her campaign website to see her full campaign.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2024-05-08 16:32:30Last Update: 2024-05-08 17:14:42

“You don’t want a materialist, you don’t want an atheist, you don’t want a Muslim”

State Representative E. Werner Reschke will appear before the House Committee on Conduct to defend himself for remarks he made during an interview with a Christian broadcaster. A conduct report, produced by an independent investigator outlines the facts upon which the complaint is based.

It is the policy of the Legislature to keep the name of the person making the complaint anonymous, and it is not known if the person making the complaint is an employee of the legislature. Freedom From Religion Foundation President Annie Laurie Gaylor has sent a letter to Representative Reschke asking that he apologize or resign.

At issue is remarks Reschke made to former Arkansas State Senator Jason Rapert who is host of Save The Nation with Jason Rapert

Jason Rapert: Tell people about why you think it’s important that Christians should be involved in government and voting and be a part of the authority in our country. What drew you as a Christian to do it and what would you tell those people that are listening today?

Rep. Reschke: What drew me to it was primarily looking at our history and the men and women who were part of that history in building this nation. Whether it’s George Washington, whether it was Madison, whether it was Abraham Lincoln, whether it was Ronald Reagan, who was the first president I got to vote for. I think, you know, you just go back through history and you look at men and the struggles



that they faced and the faith that they had and those are the type of people that you want in government making tough decisions during tough times. You don’t want a materialist, you don’t want an atheist, you don’t want a Muslim, you don’t want, you want somebody who understands what truth is and understands the nature of man, the nature of government and the nature of God.

Jason Rapert: Yea

Rep. Reschke: If you don’t understand those things, you’re going to get things wrong and in Oregon that’s a classic example, we have a lot of people who are godless, unfortunately, leading the way and it’s the blind leading the blind.

Jason Rapert: Yea

The Committee will meet on Monday, May 13 at 13:30 PM. The meeting will be held virtually and will be open to the public on the OLIS website. Testimony will only be taken from invited persons.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2024-05-07 13:27:08Last Update: 2024-05-07 14:34:31

Mobilization, Marksmen and Governors fight for authority

A week after Oregon's Governor Kotek joined 52 other Governors of states and territories sent the Secretary of Defense, Lloyd J. Austin III, strong opposition to a legislative proposal that disregarded gubernatorial authority over the National Guard, the Oregon National Guard held a pre-deployment Yellow Ribbon event. Approximately 2,000 Soldiers from the 41st Infantry Brigade, headquartered in Clackamas, are scheduled to deploy to Kosovo, Egypt; the Horn of Africa; and Syria starting summer through next spring.

The Governors objected to a one-time transfer of 14 National Guard units to the Space Force moving 1,000 Guardsmen from six states, excluding Oregon. The Governors said it is imperative they retain the authority and even proposed that states have their own military space forces, which Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall rejected and didn’t understand the fuse over a few hundred people in a handful of states. Two governors didn’t participate, Florida’s Ron DeSantis and Texas’ Greg Abbott.

"Oregon National Guard members proudly serve the communities they live in during state emergencies and also serve the nation in defense of our interests overseas," said Oregon Adjutant General, Brig. Gen. Alan Gronewold at the Yellow Ribbon event. "That's what makes us the Service of Choice."

The Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program connects National Guard members with resources throughout the deployment cycle through events for service members and their loved ones.

"Deployments are difficult for everyone, especially in the Guard since we don't have a base with all the resources and all our families in one place," said Col. Peter Helzer, commander of the 41st Infantry Brigade Combat Team. He also noted the challenge of completing an intensive Joint Readiness Training Center rotation at Fort Polk, Louisiana, right before mobilizing. "That exercise will be key in ensuring we are ready for any challenge we may face while deployed."



Oregon National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 186th Infantry Regiment scout sniper section in Ashland sent a three-member team to the Winston P. Wilson Small Arms Championship. Sgt. Trahern Fox, Sgt. Kevin Martin, and Spc. John Adamson were first-time competitors at the National Guard’s most prestigious and grueling rifle and pistol marksmanship event. Their fourth member had a family emergency that prevented the team’s chances at the championship, but the three Oregonians were undeterred in their goal of personal growth.

When finalized, their scores would memorialize new shooting milestones with rifles and pistols. But the trio’s greatest prize was incalculable – fortified skills to elevate their scout sniper section’s operational lethality.

While disappointed to lose their fourth shooter, the Oregonians focused on the invaluable skills they’d absorbed. The Marksmanship Training Center’s rifle and pistol experience will burn bright when passed from Camp Robinson’s ranges to their scout sniper section’s training.

--Dollie Banner

Post Date: 2024-05-07 10:56:18Last Update: 2024-05-07 01:29:18

“Boosting housing production by embracing bold solutions”

Vice-chairs of the Senate and House Committees on Housing Senator Dick Anderson (R-Lincoln City) and Representative Vikki Breese-Iverson (R-Prineville) attended a ceremonial signing for a bipartisan housing package which came out of the 2024 Legislative Session: SB 1530, SB 1537, SB 1564, and HB 4134. The bills aim to boost housing production, fund critical infrastructure in communities across the state, develop an innovative revolving loan fund, and address workforce housing levels. The signing took place at the site of the Native American Youth and Family Center in Portland.

“We know Oregon is grappling with a severe housing crisis that affects individuals, families, and entire communities across the state. Because of it, many of my constituents experience skyrocketing rents and an acute shortage of inexpensive housing options every day. We must quickly build out of this crisis by unleashing builders, land, and resources for infrastructure. I am pleased with the bipartisan package we were able to pass earlier this year to begin increasing housing production, but my hope is that it remains a top priority for the Legislature in sessions to come,” said Senator Anderson.

“Rural Oregon faces unique challenges such as limited job opportunities, outmigration of young residents, and insufficient housing options. We have to get serious about expanding housing production so these communities can attract and retain a workforce, stimulate economic growth by supporting local businesses and services, and ensure families and individuals have safe and inexpensive housing options close to their workplaces,” said Representative Breese-Iverson. “From this housing package, I will be glad to see dollars flow to rural Oregon so communities with aging and at-capacity infrastructure can allow for growth.”



One of the key priorities for Senate Republicans is boosting housing production by embracing bold solutions rather than the failed policies that have handcuffed cities, overregulated builders, and stifled development for decades.

for some, this package is a case of a government created problem which begs a government solution. Celeste Walker of Grants Pass who provided testimony to the Senate Committee On Housing and Development said, "At the very least, [the bill summary] is referring to Oregon’s Climate Friendly Areas (also known as 15 minute cities) of which I am opposed to, as should everyone. SB 1530 allots $15 million to this project. This is a way to corral people into a very small area and thus eventually control every aspect of our lives. Look up the city of Grants Pass 71 page report on Climate Friendly Areas. Be wary when they say "We're from the government and we're here to help"! It’s a hard no!

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2024-05-06 19:14:12Last Update: 2024-05-06 19:35:26

Democrats panned the visit as a campaign stunt

Sixteen Oregon Republican legislators and candidates visited Yuma, Arizona, at the border and meet with Arizona lawmakers in Phoenix. They were invited in response to lawmakers sending a letter to Texas Governor Abbott earlier this year supporting his stance against the Biden administration over Abbot closing the border. The letter led to connections in Arizona and the invitation. They participated in a tour of the border in Yuma led by Jonathan Lines, a Yuma County supervisor and former chairman of the Arizona Republican Party.

Hannah Howell, executive director of the House Democrats’ campaign arm, and Senate Democratic Leadership Fund, Oliver Muggli, coordinated their comments panning the visit as a campaign stunt. “Oregonians expect their elected officials to be focused on our people in our state, not playing MAGA politics a thousand miles away. This is a cheap election-year stunt that does nothing except show how deeply out-of-touch Republican politicians are with Oregon priorities.” They point to “rising prices and safety and homelessness”, of which all are directly related to the border crisis.

Representative Court Boice (R-Gold Beach) ties the border crisis with consequences to our quality of life in Oregon. “The cartels are in control of our borders, that’s a fact. Criminals, human trafficking, drug trafficking, sex trafficking, and please may we never forget the child trafficking. Not all, but many very bad people are invading from 157 countries – individuals with unhindered access to our country. The impact on our kids, our medical, our law enforcement, our education and our communities is staggering!”

In 2006, the Occupy Wall Street riots gave way to organized groups like Antifa, BLM, BAMN and sleep camps that Democrat leadership allowed, and even welcomed. In 2019, the Democrat legislature majority defied Oregon voters and gave illegals drivers license. Then in 2022 they passed SB 1510 stripping law enforcement of funds and weapons to control riots. That was after the Kerby, Oregon, slave camp was busted with 250 slaves forcing the legislature to acknowledge that Oregon has slave camps run by cartels. They were convinced to allocate $21 million that went towards busting eight slave camps in one county. Democrats show no interest in replenishing this fund to continue fighting cartels.

Governor Kate Brown took unvetted refugees from the Middle East, and many ended up in Sheridan state prison. Then she shut down two state prisons and released 1,000 more violent offenders on our streets.

Illegals have poured into the state through open borders exploiting them for fentanyl mules and sex trafficking and many are gathered into slave camps. Housing in motels was opened at taxpayer expense while Oregonians lost homes during the pandemic. In 2022, Democrats gave free medical care to anyone in the world coming to Oregon.

In 2023, former Secretary of State Shemia Fagan exposed La Mota's giving to 20 elected politicians and is still being researched as a cartel front. Senator Wyden gave Oregon Democrat Party FTX money that went unreported.



Boice said he learned a great deal from this 2-day trip. "We saw more than substantial evidence that the Joe Biden 'Open Borders' is allowing the most pervasive and invasive criminals and cartels to enter our country and state unchallenged, which is accelerating the drug, human, sex and child trafficking problems. It’s heartbreaking. Certainly the trip was worthwhile in planning and preparing Oregon legislation and critical work toward security and enforcement for the 2025 Full Session."

Boice states, “There simply is no question that there are currently some very, very bad people coming here that hate us and want to do incredible harm to us and everything we love. The power and ruthlessness of the cartels cannot be overstated! It is absurd for all political parties not to come together at least on this!”

No one denies that Oregon has seen a crime explosion from open borders. The fact that law enforcement have to wear masks to protect their identity at the border or may end up dead or their families kidnapped and tortured should be a wakeup sign for Oregonians that leadership is putting us at risk with policies that give free access to Oregon benefits, and are doing very little to secure our safety.

Those visiting the border included: Sen. Tim Knopp, R-Bend, Sen. Fred Girod, R-Silverton, Rep. Vikki Breese-Iverson, R-Prineville, Sen. David Brock Smith, R-Port Orford, Sen. Kim Thatcher, R-Keizer, Rep. Greg Smith, R-Heppner, Rep. Court Boice, R-Gold Beach, Rep. Virgle Osborne, R-Roseburg, Rep. Boomer Wright, R-Coos Bay, Rep. Lucetta Elmer, R-McMinnville, Rep. Christine Goodwin, R-Canyonville, Rep. Dwayne Yunker, R-Grants Pass, Bruce Starr, Senate candidate from Dundee, Michael Summers, Senate candidate from Redmond, Keri Lopez, House candidate from Redmond.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-05-06 10:21:26Last Update: 2024-05-06 17:27:53

Governor Kotek issues statement in response to criminal activity in Portland

The situation at Portland State University (PSU) is part of a larger national movement of protests and occupations at universities across the United States, sparked by the ongoing conflict in Gaza and the university’s ties to companies with connections to Israel. The protests began on Thursday, April 25, 2024, and continues spreading into Portland. Protesters occupied the university’s Millar Library fleeing after Portland police surrounded the building leaving behind graffiti on walls and furniture and a supply of make-shift weaponry.

The protesters are demanding that PSU take action to support the Palestinian cause, including releasing a statement condemning the violence in Gaza, cutting ties with Boeing having connections to Israel, and including Palestine in the university’s ethnic studies requirements. They have also demanded that the university drop charges against students who have been arrested during the protests.

The university responded to demands by offering to provide financial support for anti-racist efforts and adding Palestinian works to the university’s Race and Ethnic Studies requirements. They also temporarily cut ties with Boeing. However, it appears the protestors aren't paid to negotiate. The Soros activists are being paid $2400 to cause chaos, and surveys show only 20% are students. In downtown Portland, they have set off fireworks, windows were broken and property was spray-painted during a march on Wednesday, according to Portland Police Bureau. On Thursday, 15 police cars were set on fire at the Bureau's training facility.

PSU cancelled classes for a few days but has reopened, except for the library. The Portland Police Bureau was called in to assist with the de-escalation, and at least 12 people have been arrested. However, those in the library were allowed to leave peaceably.

Campus students, even those sympathizing with the cause, are asking them all to leave. One student said, "There is so much destruction on the campus and in the library, all students will have to pay for it." Cutting Boeing donations is also not beneficial to students.

Governor Tina Kotek issued a statement in response to criminal activity in Portland:

”I fully condemn the criminal actions taken Thursday morning that resulted in the burning of 15 Portland Police Bureau cars, endangering first responders and the surrounding community. I have absolutely no tolerance for discriminatory harassment, violence, or property damage. This includes the acts of vandalism seen this week at the Portland State University library and against nearby businesses. These actions are in direct opposition to Oregon values and threaten working people, families, businesses, and our community as a whole. The Oregon State Police have launched a response on the outer perimeter of Portland State University. The state is prepared to exercise the full extent of the law.”



Cause hungry Pro-Palestinian protesters have spread to the University of Oregon, and Lewis & Clark College. The popup camp outside of Knight Library at U of O has grown to 100 tents and is a mixed bag. Several groups that include Students Justice for Palestine, Jewish Voices for Peace, Grads for Palestine, and Young Democratic Socialists of America organized the camp, and seem to be on a "peace" mission organizing activities for the squatters. The protesters also want to see statements and actions from the U of O to affirm the safety of Palestinian, Muslim, Arab, and Jewish students. Although, they do demand an end to businesses supporting ties with Israel.

In response to a letter from Portland State University (PSU) President revealing failed negotiations to end the occupation of the University library, Republican Leader Jeff Helfrich (R-Hood River) issued the following statement.

“PSU’s president hasn’t learned the biggest lesson from the past few years: you can’t appease the mob. It only encourages more chaos in the future,” said Helfrich. “These students and outsiders chose to commit crimes. We need decisive action now; let law enforcement do their jobs and end the occupation of the library. People who intimidate others and deface public property need to be held accountable.”

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-05-03 16:01:08Last Update: 2024-05-03 13:34:24

“All systems of AI are biased in some dimension no matter what you do”

The Oregon Open Learning team at the Oregon Department of Education includes those involved in the effort to support Oregon educators with learning about, adopting and implementing generative AI related tools and lessons into their instruction.

Open Educational Resources (OER) are an ideal way to build, access, revise, curate and implement new AI-related learning opportunities for both educators and their students. They have started the Oregon Artificial Intelligence group that already has over 80 AI-related resources for teachers to use in their classrooms.

Since AI is here to stay, it's going to be important for our schools to teach students how to use it safely, responsibly and effectively. They provided a test run asking both Microsoft Copilot and OpenAI’s ChatGPT:

Explain why you think (1) it's important for K12 classroom educators to learn about and teach about the use of generative AI tools with their students, (2) what are the most important skills specific to generative AI teachers should have and (3) what important safeguards teachers should teach to their students when using generative AI tools themselves. Use a conversational tone so someone without a deep understanding of AI can easily comprehend your output and keep it to fewer than 200 words.

Copilots response:
Sure thing! Here’s the lowdown:
  1. Why it’s key: Think of generative AI as a new member of the classroom. It’s a tool that can help with learning, creating, and even thinking in new ways. For teachers, knowing about AI is like having a superpower—they can guide students to use this power wisely and creatively.
  2. Top skills for teachers:

    • AI Savvy: They should know how AI works and what it can do.

    • Ethical Compass: Teachers need to navigate the tricky waters of AI ethics, importantly understanding privacy and fairness.

    • Learning Mindset: AI’s always changing, so staying curious and up-to-date is a must. Student safeguards:

    • Critical Lens: Students should learn to look at AI’s answers with a bit of skepticism and do their own fact-checking.

    • Privacy First: They need to know what info to keep to themselves when chatting with AI.

    • Bias Detective: Understanding that AI might not always be neutral helps students use it more thoughtfully.
    In short, AI’s a big deal, and getting the hang of it now is like getting a head start in a race. Teachers can pass the baton of knowledge and caution to their students, prepping them for a tech-smart future.
ChatGPT (3.5) response:
Sure! So, here's the scoop!
  1. It's crucial for K12 teachers to dive into generative AI with their students because it's shaping our world big time! Think about it: from chatbots to creative writing assistants, these tools are everywhere. Teaching kids about them helps them understand the tech they'll be encountering throughout their lives.
  2. When it comes to skills, teachers using generative AI need to be rock stars at explaining complex concepts in simple terms. They should also be wizards at guiding students to think critically about the ethical and social impacts of AI.
  3. Safety first, always! Teachers should make sure students know to use these tools responsibly. That means understanding things like plagiarism and the importance of fact-checking. Plus, they should stress the importance of not sharing personal info with AI systems.
In a nutshell, diving into generative AI isn't just about staying ahead in tech—it's about empowering students to navigate a world where AI plays a big role while also staying safe and savvy.

One of the featured open educational resources is a video on Ethics of AI Bias for classroom use, which delves into the human problems brought out by issues in artificial intelligence, specifically with respect to bias. It is set in a college classroom of five students taking a deep dive into making AI unbiased. They somewhat conclude that AI overrides choice when not used appropriately, and possibly without knowing it. “Those that build and therefore control AI, will build AI systems for their own benefit… All systems of AI are biased in some dimension no matter what you do.”

Interestingly, their answer to an unbiased AI is capitalism, which they call transparency so consumers can buy well-developed systems that are unbiased, and the market weeds out the bad actors. However, that may be shifting the bias according to the purchaser’s point of view.

Let’s face it, AI has been around from the beginning of the Internet, sorting and directing our searches to what influences us with a bent toward corporate thinking. It confirms our thinking and drives the left and right further apart until “unite” became the campaign that set up sides, which separates even more. Then they introduce Serie and her siblings. She collected all your favorites and what will influence you. Now Google wants to take it to the next level by incorporating all it learned about you into AI to think for you as your brain substitute, making us hybrids, boiling you like a frog in a pot, never knowing what is happening.



Michael Rectenwald, Ph D, wrote the Great Reset and the Struggle for Liberty; and Google Archipelago, The Digital Gulag and the Simulation of Freedom. He is running for U.S. President for the Libertarian Party, not to win, but to expose where freedom has gone. He says wokeness is a totalitarian idea on how to control the whole being. Government is the source of most problems – housing, education, economy. They are creating their reality for you. AI will be creating our “lived” experience. He says, "with AI in the hands of the state, it’s a recipe for total and complete totalitarian rule", and writes how AI is going to displace people’s cognitive functions. "We are outsourcing our brain functions to AI so much so that we won’t have the executive functions as people did in the past. If the brain isn’t exercised, it will atrophy like any other muscle."

Browsers are becoming more transparent identifying information generated by AI, but it still takes the human brain to identify errors and biases. If AI stimulates thinking to assess and determine what is right as truth and what is wrong with the wrong, then students can advance their thinking.

Parent and teacher info on AI tools are available at Oregon Open Learning.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-05-02 13:04:53Last Update: 2024-05-02 15:59:57

First Lady is now an official paid companion

After resignations started pouring in over Governor Tina Kotek hiring her spouse, the Governor has issued a statement regarding the role of the First Spouse. Should Oregonians be concerned?

“Fellow Oregonians, I want you to know that my focus is doing the best job possible for you and your families. I take responsibility for not being more thoughtful in my approach to exploring the role of the First Spouse. I am sorry for the way this conversation between my office and you has started.

“I was honored to be elected as Governor, so that I could bring clarity and energy to tackling the state’s biggest challenges. My administration, since Day One, has held that True North, prioritizing the state’s homelessness and housing crisis, the inadequate system of mental health and addiction care across the state, and the need to improve educational outcomes for children with a focus on early literacy and summer learning. We have much to do together to achieve our shared goals, and with these priorities and a renewed focus on strengthening how state government does its work, I believe we have made progress and will continue to make progress.

“My job as Governor is to see the entire playing field. Whether it is deepening my understanding of the needs of our entire state by visiting all 36 counties in my first year, collaborating with lawmakers to pass critical new laws and investments, focusing on the future success of the Portland Central City, or responding to the inquiries of individuals who contact my office – no topic is too small or too big when it comes to serving Oregonians.

“First Lady Aimee Kotek Wilson has been by my side for 20 years. The First Lady and I share a profound commitment to standing up for the most vulnerable among us, fighting for a more just world, and making sure we leave this world better than we found it. She is a social worker, someone with lived experience with mental health and recovery and someone who has throughout her career helped lift up the stories of others to make meaningful change. As a family, the First Lady and I jointly and intentionally decided that she not return to employment or have any outside income as to avoid any perceived or actual conflict of interest. And her work as First Lady is also unpaid and is on a volunteer basis. As a family, we have traversed Oregon on the campaign trail and on the One Oregon Listening Tour, reaffirming our faith that nothing is impossible if Oregonians work together.

“In my short time as Governor, I have considered how Oregon can emulate other states that rely on the time and talent of a First Spouse who has no financial interest or benefit in state government.

“There is no road map in Oregon for defining the role of a First Spouse, who is a 'public official' under Oregon law. I make all policy and personnel decisions for my office. I have sought guidance from the National Governors Association and the Oregon Government Ethics Commission (OGEC). I am committed to defining the role of the First Spouse with respect to what we learn from OGEC, not only on behalf of this administration but future administrations as well.

“After listening to and reflecting on the concerns of Oregonians who have contacted my office, as well as the advice of staff, I want to be clear about these things: There will not be an Office of the First Spouse. There will not be a position of Chief of Staff to the First Spouse. Other than staff that is assigned to support the First Lady in her official duties, no state staff will report to her or be supervised by her.



“My office is also assembling a First Spouse Manual to spell out policies and procedures related to that role, including protocols for addressing any staff concerns or complaints. The First Spouse manual is in progress and is one of the reasons Meliah Masiba was brought on as a temporary advisor to my office. She reports to Chief of Staff Chris Warner. You can read her job description here.

“Between now and when we learn more from OGEC, the First Lady will continue to accompany me and attend events representing the Governor’s Office, such as Tribal visits and ceremonial events, and she will listen to Oregonians about the issues most impacting them, especially in the area of mental health and addiction.

“Your trust is important to me. I will continue to work hard to solve problems so that every Oregonian can have what they need.”

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-05-01 16:25:55Last Update: 2024-05-01 16:52:47

“Placing somebody into housing, paying their rent is usually a less costly alternative”

A new Alternative Shelter Evaluation Report from Portland State University’s Homelessness Research and Action Collaborative indicates that alternative shelters provide better outcomes for people experiencing homelessness than traditional shelters. The research, conducted by HRAC on behalf of Multnomah County’s Joint Office of Homeless Services, analyzed the cost, participant experiences, and client outcomes in village-style and motel shelters as compared to more traditional congregate shelters.

"This research shows that motel and village shelters, which provide private living spaces that support the autonomy, dignity, and safety of clients, lead to better experiences and more positive outcomes than congregate shelters," said Jacen Greene, HRAC assistant director.

Village and motel shelter models have grown in recent years as an alternative to traditional shelters. In Portland, several villages have been constructed by community members and local agencies to better support the houseless population. This report shows that the village model is not only more desirable to people experiencing homelessness, but can be less expensive in some circumstances to build than congregate shelters. The success rate for moving an individual into housing is also higher than at traditional shelters.



“Alternative shelters provide participants with levels of privacy, autonomy, and safety that are not always present in congregate shelters,” according to the report. “These factors helped participants feel like they could pause, breathe, and work toward their goals."

As compared to other shelter models, villages have the lowest capital costs per unit when the land is free (as has been the case for villages in Portland), but are more expensive than motel or congregate shelters if land costs and pod replacements are factored in. Motel shelters are often faster to set up and are more flexible in terms of conversion to housing, but can be difficult to set up due to supply. In evaluating cost, HRAC found that moving a person into housing and providing supportive services — like rental assistance or vouchers — is comparable to the cost of providing a congregate shelter bed, and costs less than alternative shelters.

"We found that placing somebody into housing, paying their rent, and providing supportive services is usually a less costly alternative than any type of temporary shelter, and is the only approach that actually ends homelessness," Greene said. While much funding is available for homeless alternatives, critics point out that relatively little of the money goes to actually provide housing.

These findings provide guidance to determine which type of shelter is most appropriate based on the circumstances of the population being served. An effective shelter strategy should: “Ultimately, any shelter strategy should be viewed as a temporary stopgap until enough housing can be provided to address current and forecasted needs,” according to the report. “Someone in a shelter is still experiencing homelessness, and the only true solution to homelessness is to ensure that people who are housed are able to remain there, and people who are unhoused are placed in housing as soon as possible.”

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2024-04-30 13:08:54Last Update: 2024-04-30 13:23:24

“Monique will deliver for the people of Oregon”

House Republican Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-LA 1) of the U.S. House of Representatives announced his endorsement of Republican candidate Monique DeSpain to represent Oregon’s Fourth Congressional District.

“As a retired Air Force Colonel, attorney, and single mother, Monique DeSpain knows what it means to roll up her sleeves and get things done. She will fight to secure our border, rebuild our economy, reduce crime, and support law enforcement. Unlike her democrat opponent, Monique will deliver for the people of Oregon and I am proud to endorse her in her race for Congress in Oregon’s 4th Congressional District,” said Majority Leader Steve Scalise.

“It’s my distinct honor to have the endorsement of Republican Majority Leader Steve Scalise in my campaign to unseat corrupt career politician Val Hoyle and bring my commonsense, accountability focused, problem-solving leadership to Congress on behalf of the people of Oregon’s 4th District,” said Monique DeSpain.

Oregon's 4th Congressional district includes Benton, Coos, Curry, Northern Douglas, Lane, and Lincoln Counties. The largest city in the district is Eugene.

“Leader Scalise is a fighter who, despite having to battle back from a near-fatal gunshot wound and fighting off cancer, he continues to fight for the American people every day,” added DeSpain. “Demonstrated grit and determination are required to deliver victory in all our personal and public fights. I understand what it means to fight for my family, my clients, and my country. Results are what counts. I’ve served my country for 30 years in the Air Force, stood up to the Governor on behalf of crime victims, and raised my twin boys as conservatives right in the heart of progressive Eugene. Voters are ready to end five decades of failure, neglect, and waste at the hands of career politicians and deploy me, a political outsider, to fight for them in D.C.”

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2024-04-29 10:45:23Last Update: 2024-04-29 10:59:01

Protesters move to colleges and target Portland again

April 15th brought out protesters blocking I-5 south of Eugene. They weren't protesting tax day, they were united countrywide protesting against the theft of their lands and livelihood and protesting the theft of 1,976 acres of land in the Jordan Valley to be used for development projects for hundreds of settlement housing units. The Palestinians make up 21 percent of the population and own 1,065,156 acres. In other places the same day they shutdown the bridge in New York City, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco as well as an access road for the Seattle–Tacoma International Airport.

As a result of the demonstration in Eugene, 52 people were arrested for disorderly conduct. Two individuals were additionally charged with conspiracy and theft 2. Six vehicles were towed from the scene, and all suspects are in custody at the Lane County Jail. The incident required 121 law enforcement responding agencies and the use of 10 transport or emergency vehicles.

This doesn't seem to have satisfied the instigators. They have now moved on to college campuses taking over Columbia University, Harvard, New York University, and University of California has cancelled it commencement ceremonies due to protesters. Andy Ngo, an Oregon independent journalist, says they are targeting Portland State University reporting one of the militant 2020 BLM-Antifa rioters, Danialle James, has called for protesters.



Columbia University has been the epicenter of student protests for over a week, especially after the university's president, Minouche Shafik, called in the New York City Police Department and more than 100 students were arrested. The student protesters have called on universities to cut financial ties to Israel and Israeli companies, however, Columbia's biggest donor is a Jewish businessman who threatens to withdraw funding if the president doesn't get the protest under control. President Shafik is hemmed in after Speaker Mike Johnson suggested he resign.

Earlier the Pro-Palestinian protesters blocked traffic on Airport Way to PDX, blocked the freeway in Northwest Portland, harassed a pro-Israel supporter on the street in Portland, vandalized Portland music hall for hosting a pro-Israel musician, busted a faith-unity window display, and painted graffiti on windows and walls. Just as Portland was recovering, career protesters are paid to keep the city in unrest and fear.

Breitbart now exposes that the groups organizing college campus protests is funded by George Soros and others. One group is Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP). The U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights (USCPR) is also funded by the Soros-founded organization Open Society Foundations, which gives between $2,880 and $3,660 for its campus-based ‘fellows’ in return for spending eight hours a week organizing campaigns led by Palestinian organizations. Students joining the protest that were interviewed, couldn't say what the protest was about. Portland State University appears not to have either of these student groups, so are they just an easy target? How must protection can students expect from the police?

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2024-04-27 14:43:31Last Update: 2024-04-26 19:55:43

Oregon policies under the microscope

The U.S. Supreme Court rules 9-0 in a landmark decision that undercut all DEI-based discrimination, sending Oregon's policies into question. The US Supreme Court ruled that a St. Louis police sergeant can sue over a job transfer she claims was discriminatory lays the foundation for legal action against employers who push discrimination against white people in job hiring, work assignment and promotion. Those “diversity-preferred” job postings, the practice of passing over whites for promotions, discriminatory job transfers, pushing unfair diversity trainings, etc., all of these are now legally actionable.

Lawyers tried to argue that there is ‘good discrimination’ and ‘bad discrimination’, that white people should be purposely disadvantaged to pave the way for diversity. The lawyers stated that the decision will complicate DEI programs and limit their ability to discriminate against white men.

The Supreme Court discredited these claims, re-asserting that everyone is equal in the eyes of the law. The court also established a relatively ‘low standard’ for bringing discrimination cases. The victim need not suffer ‘actual harm.’ An employee only must show “some harm” under the terms of their employment, and that harm need not be “material, substantial or serious.” The decision makes it much easier for workers to sue over discriminatory practices. This is a big win for equality if lawyers don't run wild.

Oregon has been chipping away at equality for several decades replacing it with equity for underserved and underprivileged. Every bill and every program passed, no matter how equality driven it is, leadership is obsessed with releasing statements that ties the outcomes to filling gaps for the underserved, underprivileged. That has been seen anywhere from safety issues, availability of healthcare, high-speed internet access, education agendas teaching white privilege, to jobs and affordable housing.

It has been nearly a year since the Supreme Court ruled on Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard College and University of North Carolina, concluding that these colleges including many private colleges in Oregon, violate the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. Justice Neil Gorsuch, in his concurring opinion, notes that "the trial records reveal that both schools routinely discriminate on the basis of race when choosing new students -- exactly what the law forbids."

A Heritage Foundation study measured how many Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) “instructors” there are at major public state universities. The study reported that DEI staff and departments urge students to embrace radical leftwing ideologies, including that people should be treated differently due to their race. The study showed DEI bureaucracies are better understood as an academic version of a political commissariat that articulates and enforces an ideological orthodoxy on campus.



As the Supreme Court continues to verify, the orthodoxy tends to make many groups of people feel unwelcome, promotes division, and encourages conformity rather than diversity on various social and political issues. Heritage analysts found that surveys of students reported the worse campus climates they have measured. Oregon’s universities averaged 4.6 exclusive DEI personnel for every 100 faculty members.

ORS 342.437, Minority Teacher Act, established diversity goals for Oregon’s educator workforce for the number of minority teachers, including administrators, employed by school and education service districts to be approximately proportionate to the number of minority students enrolled in the state's schools. In addition, HB 4031 added that the Higher Education Coordinating Commission may award scholarships of $10,000 to culturally and linguistically diverse teacher candidates to use at approved educator preparation providers for the purpose of advancing the goal to employ diverse educators in a percentage of diverse students. These state educator preparation providers are instructed to train on CRT and sexual orientation. Does such a policy based on race and color violate the court's ruling?

According to the U.S. Supreme Court, it appears Oregon needs a serious look at who they are really discriminating against.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-04-26 11:35:04Last Update: 2024-04-26 19:30:01

Did a supporter vote in two different states in 2018?

Oregon State Senator David Brock Smith has been reported to have received campaign contributions from Thomas Tuttle, a resident of California who is now allegedly living in Gold Beach, Oregon.

Records indicate that since 2016, Tuttle has made significant donations to Senator Smith's political action committee, Friends of David Brock Smith. These contributions total approximately $150,000, which includes donations both from Tuttle in 2016, 2018, 2020, 2022, 2023, and posthumously in 2018 from his deceased wife. Tuttle's donations have been consistent annually, including in non-election years.

Concern has been raised regarding Tuttle's voter registration status. Allegations suggest that Tuttle may have been registered as a voter in both San Francisco, California, with the Democratic Party, and in Curry County, Oregon, with the Independent Party. Questions have been raised about the legality of this dual registration and participation in elections of both states.

Tuttle is the co-founder of Newport Asia, an investment management firm that invests in Asia, including China and India. He has conducted numerous investment seminars on investing in Asia and is frequently quoted in business publications and news programs.

It is crucial to note that, according to the Oregon Secretary of State, it is not against Oregon law to vote in different state primaries that do not occur on the same date. The matter in question pertains to the possible simultaneous participation in the November 6, 2018, general election for both states. However, the statute of limitations for investigating this has expired, and thus, no official investigation will be pursued.

The Oregon Secretary of State's office clarified that, while specific allegations have been made, the statute of limitations impedes any new investigation into the 2018 general election voting matter. Additionally, Oregon election law does not preclude candidates from accepting financial contributions from out-of-state residents.

Upon follow-up, the Curry County Clerk confirmed that Tuttle is currently eligible to be registered to vote in Curry County. Tuttle's voter registration status in California has been terminated accordingly.

In light of the collected information, Senator David Brock Smith faces inquiries regarding his knowledge of his campaign contributor's actions and his decision to accept the contributions under the circumstances presented. Senator Smith, recognized for his advocacy for fair elections, has not publicly addressed the queries on this matter.

The recount of the allegations and available responses in this article were intended professionally and objectively to emphasize the importance of factual accuracy and due process. It is equally important to acknowledge that allegations remain unproven until due legal process determines otherwise.

Response from the Oregon Secretary of State:

January 22, 2024
Re: Elections Division Case No. 23-471

This is to acknowledge receipt of your investigation request. You alleged that Thomas Tuttle violated ORS 260.715 by voting in both Oregon and California in multiple elections and financially contributing to an Oregon candidate.

ORS 260.715(4) prohibits voting more than once at the same election, in Oregon and in another state and states: …a person may not vote or attempt to vote in an election held in this state and in another state on the same date.

The information you submitted indicates Mr. Tuttle may have voted in both states for the November 6, 2018, general election, however, the statute of limitations has lapsed, and we are unable to open an investigation into this matter. Further, the other elections Mr. Tuttle appears to have voted in did not fall on the same date.

If you have evidence that Mr. Tuttle does not meet the qualifications to be registered to vote in Oregon, you may contact the county clerk to initiate a challenge under ORS 254.415.

Lastly, even if Mr. Tuttle is a resident of another state, Oregon election law does not prohibit a candidate from receiving contributions from out of state residents.


Stephanie Darcy
Compliance Specialist
Oregon Secretary of State | Elections Division

Response from the Curry County Clerk:

Shelley Denney
Monday, April 8, 2024 11:15 AM
Subject: RE: Case # 23-471 Closing Declination Taylor 01222024

Good morning,

It appears that Thomas Tuttle is no longer a registered voter in the State of California and is therefore is eligible to be registered in Curry County. I can discuss his voting in both states with the SOS however based on the email below I am not certain they will do anything since the statue of limitations is up for them to investigate.

Thank you for bringing this matter to my attention.

Let me know if you have any other questions.


Shelley Denney, C.C.C.
Curry County Clerk

About the Author: Rob Taylor has been an activist for over 30 years and was the Winner of the 2024 Don Mcintire Award for Excellence in Grassroots Political Activism. His podcast can be found on Rumble and YouTube at the Rob Taylor Report.

--Rob Taylor

Post Date: 2024-04-26 10:16:29Last Update: 2024-04-26 12:02:01

Conrad and Harbick square off over HB 2002

Oregon Representative Charlie Conrad (R-Eastern Lane County) has taken grief over his vote for HB 2002, which allows girls of any age to obtain an abortion without her parents’ knowledge.

Having spent his working career in enforcement, Conrad must have known that backlash was coming because he immediately filed a vote explanation stating, "I voted "No" on advancing this bill to the floor due to my concerns about providing reproductive health care to minors, particularly children under 15 years old, without the involvement of their parents." Somehow he put aside the probability of liberal health care providers taking advantage of the loophole when he talked to providers that wouldn't take such action without consulting parents.

Conrad continues to defend his vote saying, "We need a government comprised of people working together, not in opposition, to solve the issues plaguing us today – in short, those who embrace and practice the once vaunted Oregon Way." Conrad has been criticized for voting for HB 2279, which repeals residency requirement in Oregon's Death with Dignity Act paving the way for out-of-state patients. He also voted with Democrats on critical enforcement bills relating to paramilitary activity and domestic terrorism, HB 2572 and HB 2772 among others.

In a letter to supporters, Oregon Right to Life Executive Director Lois Anderson said, "When Conrad voted to expand abortion last year under the radical bill HB 2002, we knew he had to learn his radical positions have consequences. And so we worked hard to find a stellar, pro-life candidate who could challenge Conrad’s seat in HD 12."

"It’s hard not to get excited when you find a candidate like Darin Harbick," Anderson said. "Not only is Darin a successful businessman, devoted husband and father, and involved member of his community, but he is also a faithful pro-life advocate."



Harbick is a self-made businessman founding several businesses located in the Upper McKenzie Valley. He currently co-owns Harbick’s Inc., a logging/dump truck business, with his son. While managing his businesses, he served 14 years on the McKenzie School board, the Lane County Tourism board, and coached high school and college women’s basketball. Harbick says, "The most rewarding business is our faith-based residential treatment home which serves people who suffer with mental illness."

Harbick currently holds a 27 point lead over Conrad, primarily over HB 2002. After the vote, Lane County Republican Party passed a resolution and issued a letter requesting Representative Charlie Conrad resign citing his voting record and listed ten grievances of how his vote does not align with their stated values affecting children and parents. Now it will be up to voters to determine which will advance to the General Election. Currently there are no challenger, but minor parties have not held their primaries.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2024-04-26 09:49:50Last Update: 2024-04-26 19:30:53

Court says Dept. of Energy can snub their nose at rural Oregon

Oregon Supreme Court, Judge Garrett, ruled in Umatilla County v. Department of Energy on a case involving a dispute over the approval of a site certificate for the construction of a wind energy facility in Umatilla County.

The Energy Facility Siting Council granted the certificate allowing Nolin Hills Wind, LLC, to place wind turbine facility within the two-mile siting criterion requirement between any turbine and a rural residence. Umatilla County sought judicial review of the council's decision, arguing that the council should have required Nolin Hills to comply with the two-mile setback ordinance.

The court determined that central to the case is the role of authority the county’s recommended substantive criteria has under ORS 469.504(5). This is a question of state tyranny squashing democratic rule of the people. This case sets a precedence for more abuse of rural communities to supply metro. Umatilla County isn’t the only rural landscape proposed to turn their landscape into junkyards.

When the Canadian developer submitted the Nolin Hills Wind Power Project revised proposal for 48,000 acres,350-megawatt wind farm, entirely zoned for exclusive farm use (EFU), the council acknowledged it did not comply with the county ordinance two-mile buffer. DOE issued a draft and final order recommending that the council find that the proposed facility complies with all applicable requirements, acknowledging the facility would not meet the ordinance requirement, but is not an “applicable substantive criterion.”

The Supreme Court affirmed the council's decision, concluding that the council was authorized to issue a site certificate for the proposed wind facility notwithstanding the failure of the proposed facility to comply with the two-mile setback rule. The court found that the council was not required to reject a proposed facility simply because it did not comply with a local criterion. Is it enough that the council has “big-brother” authority when it disrupts the daily lives of others?

ORS 469.470 requires the council to cooperate with subdivisions

“in the interests of the public health and the welfare of the people of this state, it is the declared public policy of this state that the siting, construction and operation of energy facilities shall be accomplished in a manner consistent with protection of the public health and safety and in compliance with the energy policy and air, water, solid waste, land use and other environmental protection policies of this state.”



This is not the first case the court ruled in favor of the council’s authority. In Friends of Columbia Gorge v. Energy Fac. Siting Coun., 368 Or 123, 125, 486 P3d 787 (2021), the court established the council oversees the development of large energy facilities that meet the statewide planning goals. A proposal near Harrisburg has residents protesting, which may be their next case. One of the complaints is that windmills have a 600-foot base and when they decommission them, the base stays.

Oregon has 51 windmill projects producing 3,415 MW of wind generation making up 11.6 percent of Oregon’s electricity generation consuming near one-third and exporting the remainder. Governor Kotek stated she wants to take the state off of hydropower and convert to wind and solar by 2040. How much farm land will that take away from crop production? It’s pushed by how fast they remove dams or shut their power off if they were built for flood control.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-04-23 16:32:01Last Update: 2024-04-23 23:35:04

Kotek cleans up after unexplained resignations

Governor Tina Kotek announced Chris Warner as her permanent Chief of Staff and named additional staff to her executive leadership team. She also named a new Housing and Homelessness Initiative Director. An unexplained exodus of staff has caused several vacancies and a nepotism scandal in which Kotek's wife was given a state-paid position after her wife announced that she was a mentally ill alcoholic.

Prior to his new role, Warner was Governor Kotek’s Deputy Chief of Staff of Public Administration, where he oversaw the office’s efforts to better align the Governor’s oversight of state agencies. With more than 30 years of public policy and political experience, Warner recently served as the Director of the Portland Bureau of Transportation. In that role, he led a diverse 1,000-employee bureau and managed an annual $500 million budget. Prior to that, he served in various roles in Governor Ted Kulongoski’s administration, including Legislative Director and Senior Transportation Advisor. Warner, who is originally from Baker City, was also previously a top aide to U.S. Senator Ron Wyden.

“Chris Warner brings years of experience leading teams to implement large-scale initiatives, navigating complex budget cycles for both local and state government, and contributing executive-level management skills to challenges large and small,” Governor Kotek said. “I am excited he has stepped up to serve Oregonians in this new role.” Other changes in the Governor’s Office include:



“These individuals have each meaningfully contributed to the progress my administration has made for Oregonians thus far,” Governor Kotek said. “The breadth and depth of experience on this team will deliver results for Oregonians in every part of the state.”



The Governor’s executive leadership team provides strategic advice to the Governor and is now comprised of the following:

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2024-04-23 10:18:36Last Update: 2024-04-23 10:16:29

Editor Note: McHaddad’s opinion on Oregon politics was first run on Right Now Oregon on April 18, 2024

I recently ended my tenure as the City Administrator/Recorder of Sodaville, Oregon, a position that saw frequent interactions with political leaders. Governor Tina Kotek, obviously, steered clear of our community during her “One Oregon Tour” (which I called the “Some Oregon” Tour) in which certain communities were visited or at least contacted by the Governor’s office to learn about local issues and others were not.

One of the more annoying types of communication streams from politicians was the unsolicited inclusion of the City’s official email in campaign mailing list. Representative Janelle Bynum and State Treasurer Tobias Read, both seeking higher office, added the City’s email and proceeded with a discourteous barrage of fundraising solicitations.

This lovely donation request to the City arrived in the inbox March 12:

Hi team – It’s Governor Tina Kotek here.

This November, Oregon’s Fifth Congressional District’s voters will have the opportunity to choose a new, brighter future for their community. That’s why I’m reaching out on behalf of my good friend, Janelle Bynum, who is running for Congress to give OR-05 a true champion in Congress. I’ll explain more in a minute, but can I count on you to join me in supporting her campaign by making a contribution today?

Governor Tina Kotek

Coincidentally, Treasurer Read’s campaign manager sent a solicitation email to the City that same day.

Tobias is one of the smartest and hardest working people I know, and he has what it takes to restore trust and accountability in state government.

The strategy of adding municipal government emails to donation solicitation emails may have made sense to whichever out of state consultants who devised it. At worst, all these campaigns are doing is clogging up the City’s email inbox. What dismays me is how carelessly they cast aside community concerns in favor of seeking campaign donations.

Governor Kotek did not connect with Sodaville during the “One Oregon” Tour, continuing the pattern of choosing winners and losers among rural communities honed during her ghastly tenure as Speaker. Treasurer Read is running a tight ship at the Treasury that maintains excellent services for local governments, but never reached out to discuss what he could offer the community by holding Oregon’s second highest office.

Representative Bynum incurred the brunt of my acrimony, frequently railing about a fictitious version of Congresswoman Lori Chavez-DeRemer’s abortion stance while never once reaching out to Sodaville to uncover the brutal extent of Santiam River dam drawdowns on the community. Congresswoman Chavez-DeRemer, on the other hand, put her staff on the case during a crisis and maintained excellent communications. But please, Rep. Bynum, tell me more about how I should give money to someone who does not care about the true issues her community faces.



Focusing on fundraising instead of problem-solving in a community ravaged by a federally-instigated ecological catastrophe gives exactly nobody in the 5th Congressional District confidence that Rep. Bynum will arrive in Washington prepared to help. Former Santa Clara, CA City Councilor Jamie McLeod-Skinner, the other Democratic CD5 candidate, never reached out about the dam drawdown issue but neither did she take the bizarre step of soliciting funds from a city that spent an unbudgeted $100k on dealing with the 2023 Santiam River dam drawdowns.

I fully expect mainline Oregon Democratic candidates to treat rural communities as punching bags until they are no longer in power. Whoever assembled the mailing lists for Treasurer Read and Rep. Bynum apparently operated under the errant notion that rural municipalities are piggy banks for Democratic political campaigns rather than valued constituencies who can help elected officials make smart policy benefiting all of Oregon. This intentionally callous pattern of indifference outside of begging is what keeps me from taking the leadership of the Democratic Party of Oregon seriously.

--Alex McHaddad

Post Date: 2024-04-22 18:40:06Last Update: 2024-04-22 19:22:03

Stand off on gun rights in Oregon Senate District 2

It's campaign season, the time when politicians try and make voters forget their mistakes and make new promises they have no plans to keep. Voters expect some level of truth.

Christine Goodwin has exposed herself to criticism with her mailer sent to Oregon Senate District 2. The mailer is titled, “Solid Record of Protecting Gun Rights.” Goodwin calls herself, “A Friend to Gun Owners & Strong Defender of the Second Amendment”. Next to that she writes “Voted no on making law abiding gun owners into criminals (HB 2005,2023)”.

In the middle is a statement, “The only Candidate Endorsed By Oregon Gun Rights.” This statement received the backlash from the Oregon Firearms Federation (OFF) Director Kevin Starrett. He says he has never seen or heard of anyone claiming that name speak or submit testimony on any gun bill. “After almost 30 years as advocates for Second Amendment rights, we can tell you we have no idea who “Oregon Gun Rights” is. They are not listed as a business by the Secretary of State. They are not a political action committee.”

“Oregongunrights.com” is the URL for the law firm of Gilroy, Napoli, Short. Their website lists OFF as an “affiliate or partner” but Starrett claims no affiliation with them exists. However, “Oregon Gun Rights” is a website address, not a company or organization. So exactly who or what “endorsed” Goodwin?

Goodwin is running for the seat that will be open due to Art Robinson being denied reelection for standing up for principles that caused Senators to walk out in 2023. Senator Robinson has been a committed defender of Second Amendment rights, and son Noah, who has worked beside Art throughout his tenure in the Senate, has filed to run for Senate District 2. Goodwin’s challenge to reach gun owners seems to be to eliminate any lost votes over gun issues.

Starrett points out that the reason Art Robinson is being denied to run for reelection, the House Republicans could have walked out and killed HB 2005 along with HB 2002 and saved our kids at no risk to their status, but they refused. By showing up for the vote was a vote for the bill because they knew it would pass even if they voted no.

Goodwin even posed on the Capitol steps with other Oregon Republicans with a giant fake check for a social media photo about a lawsuit they never filed and will no longer discuss. All of this stretches what her mailer claims and puts in question her claim of being a “friend of gun owners” or a “strong defender of the Second Amendment.”

Currently Goodwin is involved in a controversy regarding whether she actually lives in the Senate District whose seat she is seeking. The group of Josephine County voters dropped their lawsuit, but will refile if Goodwin wins the primary.

--Dollie Banner

Post Date: 2024-04-21 16:00:59Last Update: 2024-04-21 16:01:23

Parents and taxpayers want to see results

Oregon Governor Tina Kotek hosted a signing ceremony for House Bill 4082, which legislators passed and the Governor signed this year to provide $30 million in state funding for summer learning opportunities across Oregon. Parents and taxpayers have a right to question what they can expect.

In 2016, voters passed Measure 99 establishing the “Outdoor School Education Fund” sourced from state lottery proceeds to support outdoor school programs. The fund supports outdoor school programs, focusing on the environment, natural resources, economic development, and related careers.

In 2021, Governor Brown announced $250 million federal funds for a Summer Learning and Child Care Package to address the education gap they experienced from the pandemic.

In 2022, the Biden administration made summer learning a top strategy for school districts. Oregon received $680 million through the Coronavirus Local Recovery Fund from the $1.1 billion total received from the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act. The Future Ed analysis found that summer learning and afterschool programs make up nearly a quarter of the academic recovery investments. President Biden instructed schools to use the $122 billion in ARP funds to provide high-quality tutoring, summer learning and enrichment, and afterschool programs that are proven pathways to helping students make up for lost learning time and succeed in school and in life.

HB 4082 adds another $30 million to summer programs that, so far, haven’t produced academic results. The funding means an estimated 48,000 students out of 574,799 students across Oregon will benefit from this summer learning program.

The bill also creates a workgroup to develop recommendations for sustainable long-term funding for summer. What about developing a program with accountability that produces results? What better use for the lottery funds already approved?

Governor Kotek said, “Our goals must be student-centered to reduce opportunity gaps for historically underserved students and raise the bar on outcomes for all students. And we have to help families know their children have a safe, welcoming place to learn during the summer months and after school.”

“In Oregon, summer is another season for learning,” said Dr. Charlene Williams, director of the Oregon Department of Education. “This summer, students should grab their notebooks, pens, curiosity and hiking shoes and get ready for a summer of learning and adventure. Summer learning is not summer school. In Oregon, it's a season of creative thinking, problem solving and engaging, hands-on learning.”



Additionally, Governor Kotek gave an update on the commitment she made to address core issues that educators have raised about the funding necessary to improve outcomes for students across Oregon. Governor Kotek said her office and the Oregon Department of Education are working on: “Our basic approach to funding K-12 education is more than 30 years old,” Governor Kotek said. “It’s time to review and update.” Is she trying to get ahead of the school choice popularity? Parents and taxpayers want to see results and funding isn't the issue.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-04-19 22:38:37Last Update: 2024-04-19 23:03:00

Oregon CHIPS Act is costing taxpayers $212.5 million

No matter which way you look at it, the Oregon CHIPS Act is costing taxpayer millions. The Act was passed in 2023 with a $210 million price tag. House Bill 4098, specifically provided that $190 million be allocated for grants and loans to semiconductor companies, $10 million for research at universities and $10 million to help with land development costs. But before it could be spent, Governor Kotek has robbed the fund of $5 million to help fund the new Oregon CHIPS Child Care Fund. So, which fund is she robing in Senate Bill 4 (2023)?

SB 4 authorizes the Governor to make final decisions allowing grants to exceed the $25 million limit and to give preference to disadvantaged individuals. House Bill 4098 allocates $2.5 million, plus the Governor's new exercise of power brings the total starting capacity of the fund to $7.5 million.

Governor Kotek said, “Every family should have access to affordable, quality child care options when they need them. With the Oregon CHIPS Child Care Fund, Oregon is taking up the call from the Biden-Harris Administration to set a plan in place to address child care supply and affordability for apprentices and journey workers in the semiconductor supply chain. This initial investment expedites the opportunity to support working families in Oregon.”

What seems to be a generous grant to allow parents to retrain in an up-and-coming industry that needs workers, it creates questions of constitutionality and government picking winners and losers. Testimony brought out “entitlement” and socialism shifting taxpayer funds from needed services to growing government. Others think it’s another step towards putting all pre-school children under government control. “Any time responsibility is abrogated, there is a price attached.”

“Access to affordable, high-quality child care is crucial for fostering workforce diversity and ensuring equal opportunities in emerging industries,” Labor Commissioner Christina Stephenson said. “We’re so excited to build on the established program housed at the Bureau of Labor and Industries to provide child care support to even more members of the building and construction trades. The CHIPS Child Care fund will not only help more Oregonians enter the building and construction trades by providing subsidies for child care during apprenticeship, but also help those same working families stay in the trade by continuing to provide support after recent graduation.”



“A skilled workforce is the backbone of a business, and Oregonians with families cannot thrive without having safe, local, child care options they can afford,” Business Oregon Director Sophorn Cheang said. “This program plays a big part in addressing this need within the semiconductor sector and can serve as a model for other industries in years to come.”

The Oregon CHIPS Child Care Fund directs Business Oregon to work with the Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI) to build off of the agency’s existing successful Apprenticeship-Related Child Care (ARCC) program to help fund child care for workers in the semiconductor supply chain. House Bill 4098 also directs funding to the existing Business Oregon Child Care Infrastructure Program to help support critical child care investments in regions where CHIPS Act investments are being made.

Business Oregon will enter into an interagency agreement with BOLI to develop and administer the Oregon CHIPS Child Care Fund. Business Oregon will also establish a work group to adopt recommendations for requiring certain businesses to make a financial contribution to the CHIPS Child Care Fund. The work group will report to the committees of the Legislative Assembly related to child care and workforce development by November 15, 2024.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-04-18 20:13:54Last Update: 2024-04-18 20:47:14

Transgender athlete competes in Sherwood meet

The women of the House and Senate Republican Caucuses sent a letter to OSAA Executive Director Peter Weber urging the OSAA Board of Directors to take immediate action to protect equal rights of women in high school sports by only allowing biological women to competing in girls’ sports.

According to its website, The Oregon School Activities Association is a non-profit, board-governed organization comprised of its member schools, both private and public. The OSAA is dedicated to ensuring equitable competition for Oregon high school students through OSAA-sponsored events. The foundation for that goal lies in a belief that no school, team or individual should be treated as any more or less than another.

An Oregon high school, McDaniel High, came under fire when Aayden Gallagher, a 10th-grader transgender athlete was able to compete against girls at a meet in Sherwood. Gallagher was seen in one clip blowing away the competition in a heat for the 200-meter, sparking outrage on social media. Aayden Gallagher finished as high as second place in the event.



Legislators write to Weber:

We write to you today as women who have had the honor of making significant achievements in our respective lives and who use those achievements to serve the people of Oregon. We have worked to live up to the examples of the women who came before, and we strive to be an example to the young girls who will be here after us.

It is in this context that we bring to your attention the unfortunate situation that transpired at McDaniel High School in Sherwood this past weekend. Ayden Gallagher, a male student, competed in the Sherwood Need for Speed Classic in the girls’ division, placing top ten in three competitions.

Policy 38, “Gender Identity Participation” (Page 80) of the 2023-2024 OSAA Handbook says that your gender identity rule “promotes harmony and fair competition among member schools”.

Sadly, this policy has precisely the opposite of its stated effect. Instead of promoting harmony, it has sparked outrage. Instead of ensuring fair competition, a biological male has found a place in the female sports record books. Any girls’ title held by a male is not a girls’ title at all.

This policy leads us to conclude that the OSAA and the State of Oregon do not deem girls and girls’ sports worthy of protecting and that the records they set are not meaningful. Additionally, this policy creates opportunities for male students who are unable to compete at the highest levels against their male peers to compete instead in female sports and break records that are rightfully held by girls. We hope that you can provide a solution to the families seeking answers about why the OSAA doesn’t feel girls’ sports should be a safe space for biological females to compete and succeed.

In the meantime, we are left with no choice but to pursue the following actions:
  1. Seek a statutory change via legislation in the 2025 Session to remove all records set by male students allowed to compete in girls’ sports and award those achievements to the biological female student(s) who should have received the record or award. This will include a special report OSAA will be required to issue recognizing these corrected achievements.
  2. Encourage parents and girls in Oregon to stand up to your miscarriage of duty by withdrawing from competitions in which male athletes are allowed to participate until such time as the OSAA rescinds its unfair “gender identity” policy.
It brings us significant pain to see girls’ achievements go unrecognized because of your policy. We hope that you will not only join us in finding a solution to this matter, but also see the need to protect girls’ spaces and accomplishments.

Signers included: Senator Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer), Senator Suzanne Weber (R-Tillamook), Representative Christine Goodwin (R-Canyonville), Representative Anna Scharf (R-Amity), Representative Bobby Levy (R-Echo), Representative Emily McIntire (R-Eagle Point), Representative Kim Wallan (R-Medford), Representative Lucetta Elmer (R-McMinnville), Representative Jami Cate (R-Lebanon), Representative Shelly Boshart Davis (R-Albany), Representative Tracy Cramer (R-Gervais), Representative Vikki Breese-Iverson (R-Prineville)

The Sherwood meet is not the only public high school permitting transgenders to compete against girls. Transgenders have been allowed to compete in girl's high school basketball for several years. Biological differences may not be as apparent in the score, but in a competitive game, what coach wouldn't play their strongest players.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2024-04-18 11:33:47Last Update: 2024-04-22 12:18:36

Performance variables are highly influenced by state policy

Committee to Unleash Prosperity released the 17th edition of “Rich States, Poor States”. The Rich States, Poor States: ALEC-Laffer State Economic Competitiveness Index is a comprehensive report that ranks the economic competitiveness of states using 15 equally weighted policy variables. The American Legislative Exchange Council Chief Economist and Executive VP, Jonathan Williams points out that the bluest and highest tax states are consistently the worst economic performers.

Oregon is currently ranked 42nd in the United States for its economic outlook, moving up one from the last report. This is a forward-looking forecast based on the state’s standing (equal-weighted average) in 15 important state policy variables. Data reflects state and local rates and revenues and any effect of federal deductibility. Oregon's worst and best: The top-heavy government employment is reflected in and the primary cause for the high tax rate.



Oregon is currently ranked 13th in the United States for its economic performance. The state ranks 25th in debt service as a share of tax revenue. The economic performance rank is a backward-looking measure based on the state’s performance (equal-weighted average) in three important performance variables shown below. These variables are highly influenced by state policy. The 15 rankings are equally weighted policy variables to determine economic outlook scores. These have been carefully selected as the most important markers of financial stability.

Oregon’s stability policies seem to be tied to rebalancing productivity gains or losses to offset and keep inflation in check. There seems to be no movement to change legislative policies that keep Oregon in the bottom 10.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-04-14 22:16:13Last Update: 2024-04-14 23:26:14

U.S. Supreme Court refuses to hear Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument case

Oregon has a history of trying policies that have failed in other states, never giving up on a failing project, or doing them bigger and more costly than required, and the forest industry is a prime example. The forest industry and rural communities in Oregon have been jolted by the decision made by the Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) Board to pass the State Lands Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP). The plan was developed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service as a tool to “protect the interests of private landowners while encouraging management activities that benefit listed and other at-risk species.”

But, ODF has taken an optional tool that has nothing to do with the amount of timber harvested and used it to significantly reduce state forest timber harvests by upwards to 50 percent. ODF has developed a HCP with a 70-year plan, reducing revenues needed by over 30%, costing rural counties roughly $18 million per year, and exceeds habitat acres needed by 150% according to Oregon Forests Forever. It is also the reason OSU rejected managing the Elliott Research Forest.

While battling the ODF board, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it had rejected a consolidated case involving the Bureau of Land Management’s 2016 Resource Management Plans for Western Oregon O&C lands and the 2017 expansion of the Cascade Siskiyou National Monument.

Clark Judge, founder of the White House Writers Group political consultancy firm, credits the Oregon case, which would nearly double the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument in Southern Oregon, as a milestone in making the Supreme court aware of the problems associated with executive abuses of power, even though the court refused to hear the case.

The timber industry lawsuit argued environmental restrictions associated with the national monument unlawfully prohibited most logging on federal forestland, which had been dedicated to “sustained yield” timber production.

Tim Bishop, the AFRC’s attorney, said of the setback, “Those appellate decisions reinforce the BLM’s tendency to treat its forestlands as being meant for multiple use even though timber harvest is supposed to be the dominant use by law. As a result, BLM can reclassify at any time as not timberland and place a greater emphasis on recreation and environmental protection on 2.5 million acres of BLM forestland in Oregon that should be devoted to logging.”

How did the federal government get so much power when it is limited by the U.S. Constitution on the land it can own? The National Center for Constitutional Studies writes, “With the power of private property firmly in mind the Founders clearly set forth necessary limitations in the Constitution so that the national government will not accumulate much property itself. The thought was to leave it to the people who will use, care for, develop, subdue, and gain dominion over it in a manner which will bless the lives of all the people and lead to greater and greater permanent prosperity."

There were, however, a few reasons to have the national government own property: for a seat of government, for military uses, and for needful buildings. This is the very limited power given to Congress in the Constitution: To exercise exclusive legislation in all cases whatsoever, over such district (not exceeding ten miles square) as may, by cession of particular states, and the acceptance of Congress, become the seat of the government of the United States, and to exercise like authority over all places purchased by the consent of the legislature of the state in which the same shall be for the erection of forts, magazines, arsenals, dockyards, and other needful buildings. (Art I, Sect. 8, Clause 17) It would also appear that this provision gives each state the right to assume title to all lands within its boundaries which the federal government is not using for the purposes specified in this section.

When Ohio was admitted into the Union in 1903, the government retained title to all of the public lands but assured the people that Ohio would acquire jurisdiction as soon as these lands could be sold to private individuals to help pay off the national debt. This, then, became the established policy for new states.

However, when the territory of the western states was acquired from Mexico, Congress radically digressed from the Constitution by virtually eliminating the sale or disposal of federal lands. The general policy was to permanently retain major portions of each of the western states for purposes not listed in the Constitution. This policy resulted in the government becoming the permanent owner and manager of an average of 35 percent of the landmass with Oregon being at 52%. Vast areas within these states are permanently designated as federal domain for national forests, national parks, national monuments, coal and oil reserves, lands leased for profit to ranchers or farmers, and huge tracts of land with valuable resources completely locked up as “wilderness areas.”



The National Center for Constitutional Studies states that the U.S. Constitution makes it clear that it isn’t the federal government's decision whether or not trees should be thinned out, whether or not ground cover should be periodically burned off, whether or not timber should be cut and replanted. These discussions do not belong in the federal sphere at all. They belong with people who will own and care for their own land, knowing they will be held responsible for any damage they might cause to a neighbor by mismanaging their land.

Along came Biden’s “30 by 30” initiative, which aims to impose conservation measures on 30% of American lands by 2030. “Given that the federal government already controls so much land in Western states, it’s expected to pursue that goal by using the Antiquities Act to create and expand more national monuments,” said Clark Judge. While the Act was passed to protect mostly prehistoric Native American ruins and artifacts, it was been abused by nearly every president.

The case filed in the Supreme Court convinced a federal judge that the Obama administration had misused its authority under the Antiquities Act to increase the national monument’s size. Judge said, “If the 30 by 30 initiative is a bomb of sorts, the Antiquities Act is its fuse, and I think it’s time to stop it before it goes off.”

The constitutional answer then is to turn the land back to the states and to millions of people. Studies have always shown that privately and state held land always had fewer fires, is cleaner, and produces more revenue than the land held by the federal government.

Judge said, “This is not the end. It is just the beginning.”

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-04-12 16:21:57Last Update: 2024-04-12 18:37:59

“These concerns have not diminished, and we anticipate they will continue to increase”

Oregon Secretary of State LaVonne Griffin-Valade (D-Portland) has released a civic engagement toolkit, aimed at helping organizations do voter registration and voter turnout work in the 2024 elections. According to a press release from her office, the tools included in the 2024 toolkit are official, non-partisan, research-backed and free to use with or without attribution to our office. Though they are described as non-partisan, most experts agree that increased turnout helps Democrats.

In a letter included with the toolkit, Griffin-Valade says, "Our hope is that this toolkit will make it easy for everyone to participate in civic engagement. The tools below are official, non-partisan, research-backed and free to use with or without attribution to our office.

"In this toolkit, you’ll find social media assets, sample emails, scripts and other tools to help you reach voters in Oregon. Many of you may have the ability to create materials of your own, and we welcome that. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to our office if you have any questions or need additional assistance with your own communications."



Part of the toolkit is some information to counteract what has been labeled "misinformation."

"False information about elections has led to increased threats and harassment targeting elections officials, culminating in the death of 7 people during and after the events of January 6, 2021 at the U.S. Capitol. These concerns have not diminished, and we anticipate they will continue to increase during the 2024 election.

"Research shows the best way to prevent the spread of false information is to proactively reach people with accurate information, inoculating them against false information they may be exposed to later. This is referred to as “pre-bunking.”

The toolkit can be downbloaded from the Secretary of State's website.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2024-04-12 13:02:10Last Update: 2024-04-11 11:37:31

More selected than elected

Oregon State Senator David Brock Smith has wound his way to his current position and while his path is not unique, to some it is surprising. It's at least interesting.

David Brock Smith was elected as a Curry County Commissioner in 2012. Just six months later, Smith and David Itzen were faced with a recall effort. According to the article by Jane Stebbins in the Curry Coastal Pilot, the petitioners were “a dozen or so residents pursuing the recall because of their dissatisfaction with the county commission for trying to implement taxes, their alleged treatment of citizens at meetings and the “flip-flopping” -- notably pre-campaign promises not to tax people...”

A follow-up article called “Drive to Recall Petitioners gets Ugly”, reported that “Port Orford resident Paul Mohlin plans to file paperwork to get a restraining order against County Commissioner David Brock Smith, alleging that the elected official is harassing him and his son by spreading rumors about them.” Smith denied the allegation.

The article went on to describe Smith’s reaction to the petitions to recall him. “The commissioner recently asked Wedderburn Store owner Tori Belangie to remove recall petitions from her establishment, which she refused. ‘He didn't say, 'Take them out, or I'll kill you,' Belangie said. ‘He just said take them out.’ I don't intimidate well. I feel I'm doing a community service. We have the Constitutional right to do what we're doing; that's why we don't shoot each other anymore.”

"I was upset about it," said a man who preferred to remain anonymous for fear of retribution. "He wasn't so much threatening her as pressuring her. It infuriates me that someone would try to infringe upon the citizen's right to petition the government."

Smith said he merely mentioned his concerns to Belangie because, as a fellow business owner, any kind of petition or even election sign can affect one's business. He also noted that posting petitions without having someone there to verify each signature is illegal. "Circulators must witness the signing of signature by each individual and believe each individual is an elector," Smith said. "I didn't want her to get in trouble."



The recall effort which started out with a lot of support eventually failed due to a lack of signatures.

Election to the House of Representatives

David Brock Smith was again running for the office of Curry County Commissioner four years later in 2016, until the last moments before the filing deadline. Then, Smith electronically filed for the District 1 State Representative position at 4:44 p.m. and 21 seconds on March 8 and withdrew his candidacy from the county commissioner's position seconds after at 4:45 p.m.

In an article written by Devan Patel; “Filing mishap won't disqualify David Brock Smith from state race”, published in “The World” newspaper from Gold Beach, Smith stated; ”I took the SEL 150 to our district attorney's office, where he witnessed me signing it, and I asked him to file it for me ,… "I called him up at 4:30 p.m. and told him I needed to get it in before I filed. I stayed on the phone the entire time.”

Under ORS 249.170, if a person files for more than one lucrative office position without submitting a withdrawal first, all filings by the person would be invalid. In this case the officials allowed David Brock Smith to continue even though the withdrawal seemed to have been filed second.

State Rep. Wayne Krieger, R-Gold Beach, withdrew his candidacy the following day, leaving Smith as the only filed candidate whose name would appear on the Republican primary ballot. Smith said he was aware of Krieger's intention to resign before he submitted his candidate filing.

The article, “Krieger produces vote for Kaufman”, also published in “The World”, continues the story. An unnamed source stated, “… I am so dismayed and disappointed to see him [Wayne Krieger] engage in political dirty tricks and shenanigans by announcing his retirement as a representative at such a late date that only someone (David Brock Smith) with inside knowledge of the imminent retirement was able to file in a timely manner to get his name on the primary ballot. Since when is picking your own successor and depriving the voting populace that right a fair and noble act? Shame on you, Wayne!”



The article continues; “Tami Kaufman told me months ago that she was interested in running for Wayne's seat in the House of Representatives when he retired. She told me that out of respect she would never consider challenging him while he was still in office. She too praised the job he had done and expressed her respect for him. Because of the dirty politics played by Messrs. Krieger and Smith, Tami Kaufman was unable to file in time to have her name on the May primary ballot. She is now faced with the uphill battle of waging a write-in campaign.” Brock Smith won the race.

Appointment to State Senate in 2023

David Brock Smith again profited from an early retirement when Senator Dallas Heard resigned mid-term and endorsed Smith as his replacement. Dallas Heard’s resignation was effective January 1st, 2023, Smith was one of 5 nominee’s chosen at a Special Election just days later, and was then appointed by the Douglas, Coos and Curry County Commissioners on January 11th. That Special Election and Appointment process was riddled with anomalies introduced by the Secretary of States Office over disqualifications of candidates due to redistricting.

Court Boise, second cousin of Douglas County Commissioner Chris Boice, filled the vacancy created by Smith’s advancement. Again, a vote by the people was circumvented.

Election to State Senate in 2024

Radio Host Rob Taylor’s contract with Bi-Coastal Media was canceled after an interview with Brock Smith that Smith did not like. Another guest in that interview, Diane Rich, had her newsletter advertisers advised by the Coos County Republican Chair that they should quit advertising in her newsletter.



David Brock Smith sent a message to the Vice Chair of the Douglas County Republican Party, Michaela Hammerson, that advised her and her associates, that if she or other members of her board got caught up with “misinformation” from the Rob Taylor Show, there could be legal repercussions.

Republican Party Board members that have insisted on the need to vet David Brock Smith are feeling the heat with dismissals of 2 committee chair positions and the pending recalls of 6 Board members scheduled for April 18th.

David Brock Smith has recently issued Cease and Desist letters to his political opponent Todd Vaughn, podcast owner Rob Taylor and RUCPAC’s Ben Edtl.

--Terry Noonkester

Post Date: 2024-04-11 10:43:13Last Update: 2024-04-11 11:37:59

A billion-dollar asset management plan won’t break even

OSU formed a memorandum of agreement with the Department of State Lands (DSL) and then spent 5 years and millions of dollars, and put hundreds out of work to come up with a 640 page student-type project for the Elliott Research Forest. OSU bailed from the agreement with DSL, so DSL decided to take over management itself. They inherited a committee that includes three lawyers to forge a way to spend $5 million that was allocated for DSL. They have now presented to the State Land Board a plan rewritten by the lawyers scrapping the plan written by the academics at OSU. It shows a lack of input from stakeholders and experienced people in forest management.

At one point the Elliott Forest was worth a billion dollars in timber and Bob Zybach Ph.D, Environmental Scientist, says it could easily be worth that again with the right forest management plan. In 1962 they logged 50 million feet a year for 30 years and at the end of that time the trees were 30 years older and had a lot more volume than when they started. When the environmentalist took over, they recommended 17 million feet a year, but when it grows 75 million feet, it’s a recipe for more forest fires. Having more growth doesn’t mean the forest will get huge and beautiful – they just get old, diseased, taken out by landslides and fires or die.

Environmentalist want to set up a 70-year plan that supposedly saves a bird that lives in the ocean because they want to save old growth trees. However, what they claim is not factual. There are very few old growth trees in the Elliott Forest, says Zybach. It isn’t critical habitat for spotted owls or marbled murrelets, they are making that up because the law allows them to do so, and they have three lawyers willing to fool the public.

The Elliott has been in decline for 30 years, so we are at a critical point where we have to start managing it again or it’s going to burn.

The proposed plan will only make enough to cover costs for basic maintenance when combined with selling carbon credits. OSU backed out of the management because of the carbon credit scheme. Selling carbon credits will allow the buyer to spew additional carbon into the environment over their carbon limit based on the amount of credits purchased. It does nothing to reduce carbon in the environment, and when the trees burn or die, all that carbon is released anyway. Where logging seals the carbon in the wood and could provide affordable housing.

Every time you cut a million board feet of trees, the standard is it creates 8.8 jobs, and if you cut 50 million board feet, it would be 440 jobs in some of our smallest communities that are really hurting for jobs.

The State Land Board meeting April 9 considered for about 10 minutes, the Elliott State Research Oversight Structure framing the operation for management by the Department of State Lands. The actual plan for management is still in the working stage.

Dr. Zybach testified that the operations of HCP that continues is a catastrophe pointing to the drawbacks of having the state manage the forest.

Two legislators testified that the board should take time to review alternative plans before making a decision.



Representative Court Boice (R-South Coast, home of the Elliott Forest) testified regarding the devastation to his district from fires and damage to the recovery of fish populations. He presented five requests written in detail:
  1. Clear under brush and ladder fuels.
  2. Sell 50 million feet of 50-60-year-old plantations immediately.
  3. Document rhetorical 550 miles of roads and trails.
  4. Take additional time to design and develop a productive partnerships.
  5. Take a reasonable portion of the 90,000 acres and make a state park that is funded by the harvest.
In the end, it was obvious the board had already decided to approve the framing structure, which puts DSL as manager. There were 23 written responses including 6 legislators, Oregon Advocates for School Trust Lands, Oregon Grange, Oregon Natural Resource Industries, Oregon Websites & Watersheds Project, Inc., and 13 individuals. All opposed having DSL continue with the framework they presented.

Governor Kotek closed the 3-0 vote by stating she isn’t a scientist and trust that the process will select an advisory committee with experts. Where is the science behind this vote?

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-04-11 09:27:29Last Update: 2024-04-11 11:37:10

Rural water treatment targeted

Oregon's Governor issued notice to cut budget items in Senate Bill 1530 and Senate Bill 5701 pursuant to Article V, section 15b, of the Oregon Constitution. Governor Tina Kotek has the option to provide notice to the Legislature that she is considering line-item vetoes for budget allocations from the 2024 legislative session.

The potential vetoes primarily relate to a series of one-time funding allocations in Section 9 of Senate Bill 1530, pending the receipt of additional information regarding new housing production resulting from the direct appropriations and related infrastructure projects.

“The legislative intent of this funding is to support shovel-ready projects that are essential for new housing production,” Governor Kotek said. “After the legislative session, my office began a review of each of the projects to confirm project scope, cost, timeline, feasibility, and the nexus to housing production and affordability.

“Before making final decisions, I am giving cities and districts the opportunity to provide more information to my office to confirm whether these funding allocations will result in the production of new housing within an acceptable timeline. This is part of my ongoing commitment to transparency, accountability, and outcomes with public funds, including direct appropriations.”

The Governor’s Office has identified seven projects where more information is needed to confirm a direct nexus to specific housing development sites or projects, in order for the projects to be supported moving forward.

The following funding allocations, totaling $14 million, are being considered for potential line-item vetoes. The Governor couldn't be more obvious on how she views rural Oregonians basic needs and preparedness. The homelessness that has previously congregated in metro areas has been spreading out into smaller communities that are not equipped to handle them. How can these areas be shovel-ready without adequate water treatment infrastructure? Besides homeless making an unsightly mess, the major stress on infrastructure is the use of water treatment. Governor Kotek proposes to cripple the ability these rural areas to comply with her "emergency" in SB 1530. The bill appropriates moneys to and modifies expenditure limitations for the Housing and Community Services Department, Oregon Health Authority ($33.5 million), Department of Human Services ($2 million), State Department of Energy ($4 million), Oregon Business Development Department ($575,500), Department of Transportation ($4 million), Water Resources Department ($3 million), and Oregon Department of Administrative Services for various programs. If Kotek wants to cut funding for some unknown reason, she has plenty of agencies that are less related to being shovel-ready to pick from, so why rural water? Will she stop busing illegal migrants into rural areas that impacts the infrastructure?



Additionally, Governor Kotek provided notice of a potential line-item veto of Section 499 of Senate Bill 5701. The section of the bill allocated $2 million to the Old Town Community Association to support the Made in Old Town development project.

“I appreciate the intent of this project to help revitalize the Old Town neighborhood in Downtown Portland,” Governor Kotek said. “My office is awaiting more information from the development group about the viability of financing for the entire project before I make my decision.”

Governor Kotek will announce her final decision on these vetoes by April 17. Share your opinion with the Governor.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-04-08 15:35:26Last Update: 2024-04-08 17:21:13

“What will be done with massive batteries after their lifespan?”

As legislators and government regulators create more requirements for electric transportation, examples of enthusiasm outpacing reality are beginning to pile up and manifest in situations that pit one environmentalist value against another. One such example is the Thacker Pass lithium mine on the Nevada-Oregon border which is expected to provide much needed lithium for batteries to please one faction of environmentalists, yet is alleged by another faction of environmentalists to be disruptive to the environment.

The latest in questionable energy policy is HB 4015 which permits a developer of a facility or the governing body of a local government after consulting with the developer to elect to defer regulatory authority to the Energy Facility Siting Council for the siting of a battery energy storage system. According to analysts, this would make it easier to site battery energy storage systems. It was passed by the legislature last session and recently signed into law by Governor Kotek. HB 4015 has no sponsor, but identifies at the request of Representative Pam Marsh (D-Ashland).

Unlike dams, the efficiency of windmills and solar installations fluctuates greatly depending on the weather. They require massive storage batteries to compensate for times when the output cannot meet the need. According to experts, industrial batteries are highly toxic and vulnerable to leakage. The bill allows local communities to give up their authority for approving locations, allowing the Oregon Energy Siting Council to rubber stamp locations. Some opponents say that the Council has a questionable history of project approvals in recent years.



According to legislative watchdog Les Poole, "There are many assumptions and unanswered questions regarding the viability and safety of placing toxic batteries on our lands. The Siting Council has a history of approving large projects that have underperformed and/or created unacceptable environmental impacts. Approval of HB 4015 would invite both practical and legal battles." He cites 1000 Friends of Oregon vs Jackson County as an example.

Poole continued, "The promoters of this legislation and the Siting Council apparently believe the need for this legislation is justified because solar facilities will be approved on thousands of acres of farmland, much which is zoned EFU. It's a legally flawed concept that defies the spirit and purpose of the Oregon Land Use Plan." Poole cited another current legal battle taking place in Umatilla County at the Nolan Hills Transmission Project.

"What will be done with massive batteries after their lifespan?" Poole asks, rhetorically. "Where will they be stored, and what risks are there in transporting them? Will another situation occur where there's a lack of a permanent storage facility, reminiscent of the Umatilla Ordinance Depot and Yucca Mountain/Hanford nuclear waste depositories?

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2024-04-07 19:40:35Last Update: 2024-04-07 21:34:08

Education Freedom, a series on “Why School Choice”

Editors note: This is the last in a five-part series on School Choice Initiatives aimed for the November 2024 election ballot.

No child should be denied access to the learning environment that works for them, says Donna Kreitzberg, sponsor of the School Choice Initiates IP 5 and IP 6. Oregon schools are lagging behind in recovery from the pandemic lockdown creating learning deficits.

The Education Recovery Scorecard, 2024 study, shows Oregon’s elementary and middle school students remain an average of about two-thirds of a year behind in reading compared to pre-pandemic levels and three-fourths of a year behind in math. That’s roughly two to three times the deficit faced by students nationwide despite a $1.6 billion infusion of federal pandemic aid. The report shows Oregon schools have yet to spend $544 million. Why are districts faced with making cuts as students get further behind while teachers walk picket lines?

Stand for Children Oregon reviewed how schools spent the federal pandemic funds and found the 10 largest school districts directed relatively little of the federal money towards the strategies that research found most helpful to catch students up. They include frequent small-group tutoring, academically rigorous summer school, or extending the school year. Oregon had one requirement that 20% had to go towards academic recovery, and that was essentially meaningless to produce results. Most of the money was spent on preserving teacher’s jobs, which needs explanation since schools were fully funded. Preparing for the end of federal funds, districts were allotted a $900 million increase, but many districts are still faced with cuts in their workforce.

Oregon’s argument for having one of the longest school closures isn’t valid when other similar states are bouncing back and most are back to 2019 levels. In an interview with Oregon Live, Charlene Williams, Department of Education Director, said Oregon needs to strengthen instruction systemwide. She sited Oregon’s long tradition of local school district control as a problem.

If local school district control is a problem, then where does that leave parents? Governor Brown’s task force stated, "Local school district leaders should be given wide latitude to choose what is best for their students and communities." Then they passed a bill making it virtually impossible to fire failing school superintendents.

The Heritage Foundation’s Education Freedom Report Card ranks Oregon 51 overall, tumbling 11 places. Heritage sets standards in the report card for achieving and maintaining education freedom in states. They measure more than two dozen factors in four categories: Oregon ranks 46 in Education Choice, 51 in Teacher Freedom, 25 in Transparency, and 39 in Return on Investment. They found Oregon has done little to provide transparency and choice for families. They criticized the state for still using Common Core and advised eliminating aligned assessments. They saw waste in the growth of non-teaching staff, particularly “chief diversity officers.” In public schools, Oregon employs 0.76 teachers for every non-teacher. Teacher salaries are above average, still teacher unions blame low results on underpaid teachers.

The lack of accountability has parents pulling their students out of public schools. Eighty percent of $1.6 billion was spent on non-academic priorities. The Department of Education thinks it will cost $1 billion more per year to bring students up to state academic benchmarks and raise graduation rates to 95 percent.

Heritage found Oregon is the 24th-most per pupil spending among states, spending $15,523 in 2023. OregonLive reported losing 43,000 students from public schools since 2019, yet Oregon school districts operate in the red, so the legislature added a historic $900 million in additional funding for the 2023-2025 biennium budget. Oregon-EdChoice estimates Oregon spends closer to $17,000 per public school student per year.

The per student spending will naturally rise without increasing the budget as public school registrations declines. With private school choice, there could be more funding available for each public school student without increasing taxes. When a public school student leaves the student takes all of their costs but only a portion of their funding. The public school then has none of the costs for the student but keeps a portion of the funding for the student. The funding the student leaves behind can be spent on all the students who remain at the public school.

The legislature calculates a “Formula Revenue for Distribution” as a portion of the amount spent on students in public schools. For the June 2021 State School Fund. the estimated amount was $9,535 per student. IP 6 is designed so that 80% of that yearly per-student amount will follow a student to private school or homeschool. IP 6 also sets a floor of $9,500 so that the minimum amount that will follow a student will be $7,600 (80% of $9,500). A minimum of $1,900 (20% of $9,500) will remain in the home district. IP 6 could be a solution to problems such as funding shortages, understaffing, large class sizes, or staffing cuts in public schools.

Eric Fruits PhD, Vice President of Research with Cascade Policy calculated that there could be an increase to districts of $277 per public school student. In another Cascade report, “Education Savings Accounts Can Boost Per-Student Spending in Public Schools,” Fruits evaluates the effect of an Education Savings Account (ESA) program on local school district budgets. He examined funding for every Oregon school district and found that if 5% of public school students used an ESA program to transfer outside of the government-run system, per-student spending for the remaining students would increase by an average of 1.7%. Fruits concluded that, "Contrary to critics’ concerns, school choice programs such as ESAs do not “defund” public schools. Instead, school choice programs simultaneously reduce costs to public schools and increase per-student funding."



Looking beyond the money, parents are also tired of a leftist agenda that puts them on edge every legislative session. In 2023, the legislature passed HB 2002, which allows girls of any age to obtain an abortion without her parents’ knowledge. The legislature was back in 2024 with SB 1583 attempting to block parents and citizen-elected school boards from having input to determine and exclude age-inappropriate books and materials used in the curriculum.

Heritage criticized Oregon lawmakers for not rejecting the prejudice caused by the application of critical race theory in schools, and not addressing the threats to minor-age children from the teaching of “gender” in place of biological sex. School Choice is a system where policies set by the legislature still gives parents the power to decide if such policies are in the best interests of their children. If parents decide such policies are not right for their children, they can choose a different learning environment without financial and regulatory roadblocks.

Whether a student is learning in a traditional public school, charter school, private school, or homeschool setting, they are all Oregon students. As Oregon students, they should have equal access to the taxes Oregonians pay for education and have a right to learn in the way that will allow them to thrive and succeed.

For more information, Education Freedom for Oregon website has information about the petitions, events on gathering signatures, and print and mail petitions.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-04-05 11:36:30Last Update: 2024-04-04 18:36:36

U.S. Attorney’s office has confirmed that Hoyle is under investigation

Oregon Fourth Congressional District Candidate Monique DeSpain (R-Eugene) reacted to a story published by the national news outlet The Daily Beast stating that the U.S. Attorney’s office has confirmed Val Hoyle (D-Eugene) is now under federal investigation and, according to newly publicized emails, Hoyle: “Today, we learned that Val Hoyle directly planned and orchestrated the agenda and decision-making process of the Apprenticeship Council, to the point of coaching La Mota’s people via text message from her personal cell phone during the meetings in which the decision to issue the illegal grant was being considered -- while she chaired the meeting,” said Monique DeSpain. “The evidence is clear: Val Hoyle has disqualified herself from being a Member of Congress.”

In mid-February, Willamette Week reported that Federal Investigators have expanded their current investigation into La Mota and ex-Secretary of State Shemia Fagan to include Congresswoman Val Hoyle’s $500,000 grant to La Mota’s non-profit while leading BOLI. A subpoena was issued just five days after DeSpain’s January 24th press conference launching WhatsValHiding.com and her letter to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon Natalie K. Wight, calling on Ms. Wight to expand her investigation to include Hoyle and her activities. DeSpain has taken credit for drawing public and law enforcement attention to the glaring pattern of corruption exhibited by Hoyle’s words and actions by urging the U.S. Attorney to investigate Hoyle, saying:

“I sounded the alarm on this in my January 24th letter to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon, Natalie K. Wight. Just five days later, on January 29th, investigators issued a subpoena for BOLI to ‘provide all records’ related to Hoyle’s illegal grant,” stated DeSpain, adding, “Our campaign is about ending the reign of career politicians in Washington -- the same politicians, who like Val Hoyle, serve their own interests above those of the voters. That is why I am running for Congress, and this investigation proves that the stakes couldn’t be higher.”

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2024-04-04 21:09:16Last Update: 2024-04-04 22:22:38

“Bubba” King Alleged to Have Concealed Donor Identity

Two election law violation complaints have been filed by a voter in Yamhill County regarding attempts to conceal a donation by Oregon Taproot PAC (formerly Save Yamhill County PAC) to "Bubba" King for Oregon PAC. King is currently running to unseat Commissioner Lindsay Berschauer who serves as the Chair of the Yamhill County Board of Commissioners.

The complaints allege that Oregon Taproot PAC and its director Lynnette Shaw, as well as Bubba for Oregon PAC, intentionally tried to conceal a political donation from Oregon Taproot PAC to Bubba King by unlawfully filing the transaction as a personal cash contribution from Lynnette Shaw. Shaw was able to make such a large personal contribution after filing for “reimbursement” from the PAC she controls. As it turns out, Shaw had no reimbursements due to her, and taking money out of a PAC for personal use (in this case campaign contributions) is against Oregon law. The complaint alleges that Bubba for Oregon PAC then recorded a personal “cash contribution” from Shaw instead of recording it as coming from Oregon Taproot PAC (formerly Save Yamhill County PAC).



The complaints also allege that Shaw failed to report all of the money. The transaction in Oregon Taproot PAC shows that Shaw gave Bubba for Oregon a total of $3,468.00. However, in the Bubba for Oregon PAC, it only shows a cash contribution of $3,018.00. The complaint alleges that the missing $450 has not been reported or recorded anywhere in either PAC.

Oregon Statute 260.402, which covers campaign finance transactions, states that: “It is a criminal offense to make a contribution or donation or to directly or indirectly reimburse a person for making a contribution or donation relating to a candidate, measure, political committee, or petition committee in any name other than the person that provides the contribution (i.e., a contribution in a false name). Likewise, it is illegal to knowingly receive a contribution or donation in a false name or enter it into a committee’s account. Making a contribution or donation in a false name is a class C felony, punishable by up to five years imprisonment and/or a $125,000 fine.”

Save Yamhill County is a familiar name in Yamhill County’s political arena. In 2021, the group attempted to recall sitting Commissioner Chair Lindsay Berschauer and failed to qualify the necessary number of signatures needed, despite hiring a professional signature gathering firm to collect them. The group, many of whom are also members of Progressive Yamhill, tried again and gained the necessary number of signatures. The special election occurred on March 22, 2022, and Commissioner Berschauer defeated the recall attempt by earning more votes than she previously did in her original run for office in 2020.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2024-04-04 13:57:25Last Update: 2024-04-04 14:38:11

Is HB 4024 the kind of reform voters were hoping for?

On April 3, Democrats and Republicans gathered in glee to watch Governor Tina Kotek sign House Bill 4024, which establishes campaign contribution limits.

“Often, the word ‘historic’ can feel overused. But I know for a fact that there were many people – including myself at times – who thought getting campaign contribution limits through the legislature would never happen,” Governor Kotek said. “But, we are here today to acknowledge and celebrate the efforts that have led to House Bill 4024 in this year’s legislative session, bringing Oregon into the company of 45 other states that have campaign contribution limits.”

House Speaker Julie Fahey (D-Eugene) stated, “We set out to find a compromise because the alternative was an expensive and potentially confusing fight at the ballot--as well as years of legal challenges. Thankfully, everyone involved came to the table in good faith, and I'm grateful for their hard work. HB 4024 truly represents the Oregon Way of getting things done.”

The bill passed with very little bipartisan support from Republicans. "HB 4024 is a phony campaign reform conducted by corporate interests and unions as an end run against a ballot measure," said Senator Brian Boquist (R-Polk). "If the People want reform they must do it themselves."

This bipartisan effort was led by then-House Majority Leader Julie Fahey and House Republican Leader Jeff Helfrich in partnership with a variety of stakeholders. House Republican Leader Jeff Helfrich (R-Hood River) stated, “Oregonians expect fairness and transparency in their elections. This bipartisan bill takes great strides to achieve more of both. Republicans remain committed to uncoupling power from insiders and returning it to the people of our great state."

Forty submitted testimony in support from mostly unions, and 190 opposed from such organizations as Voters of Oregon, Consolidated Oregon Indivisible Network, Common Cause Oregon, Philanthropy Roundtable, Alliance for Democracy, League of Women Voters of Oregon, and even the Pacific Green Party acknowledged large loopholes leading to dishonest elections calling it smoke and mirrors.

David Wall, known as Mr. Oregon in writing testimonies wrote, “HB 4024 is an unregulated quagmire, a warren of legal complexities forcing astute candidates for office to hire an Attorney(s). This alone stamps out democracy."

Wall points out that "In-Kind Donations" in the bill can be easily corrupted and a good way to "launder money". For example, a contributor to a campaign could say their "In Kind Donation" to their candidate of choice was worth $2000.00 when in fact the "In-Kind Contribution" has a value of, $10.00. Who at the Secretary of State will be the wiser?



Senator Brian Boquist (R-Polk) warned in testimony of the unions backroom secret meetings and said those dealings need to be made public. He wrote in testimony, “Corporate Union Feudalism has been gradually taking over the entire country over the past two decades, It is obvious most elected legislators, both state and federal, think you or we are part of the future ruling class. Be warned, as history records, we legislators will be peasants and serfs not rulers of anything very shortly. All of us regardless of caucuses or parties or even independents.

“The effort in this bill to make citizen campaign participation meaningless while empowering the corporations with their union backers is a clear effort to keep the police state oligarchs in power. The Oregon Supreme Court made it clear in Elkhorn (2020) we are a police state. The court's exact words. We legislators would be making a serious mistake to assume millennials and younger will simply sit by while we continue their indenturement. We have become used to the sheep classes of older people which is a mistake. The silence in the Capitol halls as citizens abandon participation, the lack of emails, the lack of telephone calls, is not acceptance at all. It is the beginning of a Millennial Revolution.”

What the supporting Republican legislators failed to recognize is why Democrats allowed this bill to pass. HB 4024 takes away the method Republicans had to raise funds and kept how Democrats raise funds, and leaves unions unchecked with unlimited campaign funding. The way around this law is how Democrats have been operating for years establishing thousands of political action committees to raise funds. Now Republicans have to start from a disadvantage to set up a system of thousands of political action committees in order to be competitive with Democrats. Is HB 4024 the kind of reform voters were hoping for?

State agencies overseeing elections and campaign finance in Oregon will now work to implement the law so that it can go into effect smoothly in 2027.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-04-04 13:24:52Last Update: 2024-04-04 00:36:21

HB 4002 has been signed by Governor Kotek

Oregon Governor Kotek signed into law HB 4002, a bill reversing much of Oregon’s drug decriminalization experiment in response to a deadly addiction crisis plaguing major cities, suburban neighborhoods, and rural communities across the state. The bipartisan proposal cleared the Oregon Senate with overwhelming support exactly one month ago.

A key priority for the Senate Republican Caucus last session was to address drug addiction, homelessness, and crime. Recriminalizing possession of small amounts of hard drugs was at the top of the list. It is widely supported by Oregon voters.

Senate Republican Leader Tim Knopp (R-Bend) responded to the Governor's signing: “Now that the Governor has given the recriminalization bill her stamp of approval, we can finally end the chapter on Oregon’s experiment with decriminalizing hard drugs. HB 4002 is not a perfect solution; legislators will undoubtedly have much more work to do in upcoming sessions. But it sets a standard for how the state should approach the drug addiction crisis: by empowering law enforcement and our behavioral health systems to work together to help Oregonians struggling with chronic addiction seek life-saving treatment.”

House Republican Leader Jeff Helfrich (R-Hood River) offered the following statement: "Republicans stood united and forced Democrats to do what Oregonians demanded: recriminalize drugs. Make no mistake, this bill is not enough to undo the disaster of Measure 110. House Republicans are ready to continue the work we started and bring real change to Salem in the next session."

Representative Kevin Mannix (R-Keizer/North Salem) serves on the Joint Committee on Addiction and Community Safety. He comments, "I am delighted that the Governor has now signed House Bill 4002. This was a major bipartisan effort to get Oregon back on track in dealing with hard drugs and their terrible impact on our communities. We have now made it clear that possession of such drugs is a crime, but we have coupled this with comprehensive treatment approaches to help people end their addictions. We will all need to work together to build up our treatment programs and to support law enforcement as they deal with the new unclassified misdemeanor of possession of hard drugs. We have much more to do. I will be presenting proposals to our Joint Committee on Addiction and Community Safety. These include identification and expansion of treatment facilities, recruitment of treatment providers, and support for law enforcement activities."



Kelsi Manley, MD, FACP; and Jenny Silberger, MD, FACP; testified on behalf of the Oregon Chapter of the American College of Physicians. "We commend the legislature's efforts to recognize SUD as a public health issue and improve access to treatment. Substance use disorders are chronic medical conditions, akin to other chronic illnesses, and acknowledging them as such is vital for crafting effective, evidence-based solutions. As healthcare workers, we witness the suffering that addiction causes, but we also witness how treatment can result in remission, improved quality of life, and recovery for our patients and communities."

Concerns are in recriminalizing drugs that may inflict more government harm and violence on Black and brown communities. HB 4002 calls for the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission to conduct a study to determine best practices for deflection programs and make recommendations for funding, for standards and best practices for the state. "Deflection program" is defined to mean a collaborative program between law enforcement agencies and behavioral health entities that assists individuals who may have substance use disorder, another behavioral health disorder or co-occurring disorders, to create community-based pathways to treatment, recovery support services, housing, case management or other services.

Testimony focused on getting to the source and not exasperate the mistakes of liberal policies. "Drug dealing of any amount of hard drugs needs to be at the very least a class B felony. We need to go back to a zero tolerance approach with no more of these social experiments in the name of humanity and reductions of incarcerated populations. End this travesty now. No more studying bad choices of the Oregon government. The time for action is now."

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2024-04-03 11:17:29Last Update: 2024-04-04 13:57:25

14 properties ceased valued at $5.7 million

The same day Oregon Governor Kotek signed into law HB 4002, recriminalizing much of Oregon’s drug laws, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon announced that it has forfeited on behalf of the United States 14 real properties located in Oregon—together worth more than $5.7 million—that were used by an interstate drug trafficking organization to illegally grow marijuana for redistribution and sale in other states. The owner of a 15th property agreed to pay the government $400,000 in lieu of having their property forfeited.

The properties, located in Clatsop, Columbia, Linn, Marion, Polk, and Yamhill counties, were used until September 2021 as illegal marijuana grow houses by an interstate drug trafficking organization led by Fayao “Paul” Rong, 53, of Houston, Texas. On July 19, 2023, after previously pleading guilty to conspiracy to manufacture marijuana, Rong was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison and five years’ supervised release.

In early September 2021, a coordinated law enforcement operation led by DEA and OSP targeted Rong’s organization. Federal, state, and local law enforcement partners executed search warrants on 25 Oregon residences and Rong’s home in Houston. During the precipitating investigation and ensuing search warrants, investigators seized nearly 33,000 marijuana plants, 1,800 pounds of packaged marijuana, 23 firearms, nine vehicles, $20,000 in money orders, and more than $591,000 in cash.

According to court documents, Rong purchased numerous residential houses in Oregon using several different identities and, with others in his organization, used them to grow and process marijuana and prepare it for transport to states where its use remains illegal. In a 12-month period beginning August 2020, Rong’s organization trafficked more than $13.2 million dollars in black market marijuana.

The Rong organization takedown followed a 14-month investigation initiated by OSP after the agency learned of excessive electricity use at the various properties, which, in several instances, resulted in transformer explosions. Multiple citizen complaints corroborated law enforcement’s belief that Rong was leading a large black market marijuana operation. With the assistance of the Columbia and Polk County Sheriff’s Offices, OSP found associated marijuana grows in Clatsop, Columbia, Linn, Marion, Multnomah, and Polk Counties. On February 18, 2022, Rong was arrested by DEA agents in Houston.

“This prosecution and yearslong effort to forfeit properties used by the Rong organization to grow and process thousands of pounds of marijuana demonstrate the long reach of our commitment to holding drug traffickers accountable and mitigating the damage these criminal organizations inflict on neighborhoods and communities,” said Natalie Wight, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

This case was investigated by DEA, OSP, and the U.S. Marshals Service with assistance from the FBI; Homeland Security Investigations; Oregon Department of Justice; Portland Police Bureau; the Yamhill, Clatsop, Marion, Multnomah, Columbia, and Polk County Sheriff’s Offices; Central Oregon Drug Enforcement Team; and Linn Interagency Narcotics Enforcement Team. This prosecution is the result of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation. It was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon. Forfeiture proceedings were handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Asset Recovery and Money Laundering Division.



“The Oregon State Police is committed to disrupting and dismantling drug trafficking organizations operating within our state. Our priorities include safeguarding Oregon’s natural resources and mitigating the impact illicit marijuana has on them,” said Tyler Bechtel, Oregon State Police (OSP) Lieutenant. “This case is a great example of the results that can be achieved when all levels of law enforcement work together toward our common goals.”

The proceeds of forfeited assets are deposited in the Justice Department’s Assets Forfeiture Fund (AFF) and used to restore funds to crime victims and for a variety of other law enforcement purposes. To learn more about the AFF, please visit here.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-04-02 12:23:32Last Update: 2024-04-02 01:18:12

Education Freedom, a series on “Why School Choice”

Editors note: This is the fourth in a five-part series on School Choice Initiatives aimed for the November 2024 election ballot.

Oregon’s 2024 Legislature passed nine education bills and dropped the most controversial bill of the session that would have taken decisions on curriculum materials away from school districts and parents.

Representative Ed Diehl (R-Santiam) sponsored a school choice bill, HB 4161, which mirrors IP 29 and IP 30. HB 4161 was the first school choice bill to receive a curtesy hearing, but leadership never intended for it to move forward. He is also tabling IP 29 and IP 30 for more work. It should give parents new inspiration to help pass the school choice initiatives, IP 5 and IP 6.

If school choice initiatives, IP5 and IP6, were to pass, parents will have options against the legislature passing undesirable bills that affect the public school system. Legislation is a one-size-fits-all solution, and school choice allows a parent to at the minimum select the "one-size" option that fits their student's needs.

The 2024 legislature’s idea of boosting the education and graduation rate seems to be a strategy with little valuable action. Three bills that passed involving students are: Oregon has struggled with education. As early as 2013, Oregon's graduation rate was the lowest of any state in the nation at 68.7 percent, meaning a poor education system can't be blamed on the pandemic. By 2019 it started to rise ranking the fourth lowest, but slow growth was blamed on low graduation rates and poor funding. However, since the pandemic, it has plateaued at 81.3% in 2022 and 2023. The state makes the case that minorities and low-income have a harder time and depress the graduation rates, so they have overwhelmed schools with equality policies.

The Oregon Department of Education said they don’t have stats on private schools because they don’t have authority to require them to register, but pointed to the National Center for Education Statistics. The data for private schools shows a graduation rate average of 96% with an increase in graduations the larger the school to 99.4% for schools 500-749. Beyond 750 the rate was 97%. Graduation rates also improved for nonsectarian schools with Catholic private schools graduating 99.1%.

Students participating in school choice programs are significantly more likely to graduate from high school. The Heritage Foundation reported that education researcher Greg Forster, PhD, conducted an analysis of all existing empirical evaluations of school choice programs to date. According to Forster, 11 out of 12 random assignment studies found that choice improved the academic outcomes of participants; not a single evaluation found that school choice had a negative impact on academic outcomes.

Students participating in the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, which helps low-income students attend private schools of their choice, experienced a 21 percent increase in graduation rates.

Forster also examined the evidence on the impact of school choice on students who remained in nearby public schools. Of the 23 studies conducted, 22 observed that school choice improves outcomes at public schools as well. A study in Florida also showed that school choice improved test scores of students in public schools that risked losing students. “In other words, it occurs from the threat of competition alone.”

It was also established in Florida that significant increases were found in the test scores of students with disabilities who remained in the public system as more private schools entered their voucher program, suggesting “that schools were serving those students better when they faced more competition.… Vouchers do not drain public schools of their ability to serve disabled students; instead, schools are pushed to serve those students better.” Oregon’s IP6 replaces a voucher program so the funding follows every student.



School choice creates greater opportunities for all children to have access to education that instills democratic values. One concrete example comes from New York, where low-income and minority students were more likely to register to vote and turn out in elections.

A study in Milwaukee showed an increase in students graduating subsequently increased enrollment in college by four to seven percent.

Donna Kreitzberg, sponsor of IP5 and IP6, says, “IP5 and IP6 are not intended to replace public schools, but it is the hope of petitioners that public schools will respond favorably and upgrade education practices for students in their care. School choice gives students the opportunity to pick their own public school, charter school, private school, online learning option, private tutoring, or homeschooling option, and make the state responsible for equity in funding."

For more information, Education Freedom for Oregon website has information about the petitions, events on gathering signatures, and print and mail petitions.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-04-01 19:41:08Last Update: 2024-04-01 16:35:41

U.S. Supreme Court hears arguments to roll back access to abortion pills

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments in the first abortion-related case the court has taken since the court struck down the Roe vs Wade in 2022. The current case would limit access to the abortion pill mifepristone, a FDA-approved drug. Mifepristone, also known as RU 486, is a synthetic steroid used to terminate pregnancies up to week 10 of pregnancy.

While Oregon Democrats would have you believe that this is all about a doctors ability to assist patients seeking reproductive health care, it is a play on words. While nationwide access to abortion could be curtailed again, the judges appeared not to be impressed.

Still, Oregon Democrats used the occasion to highlight grants issued last week as a result of their work to ensure that access to care in Oregon is protected and strengthened across the state.

Representative Andrea Valderrama (D-Outer East Portland) led the efforts for grant funding said, “When there’s no silver lining in the headlines coming out of D.C. today, we have a lot to be proud of here in Oregon as the work we did is going out into communities to increase access to abortion care across our state. These grants show a commitment to ensuring longer-term, systemic investments to protect and increase access to abortion care for all Oregonians.”

They neglect to mention the nearly 1,000 aborted lives every month. How many lives are taxpayers ending by awarding 23 organizations $8.5 million to fund abortion healthcare access and affordability barriers faced by marginalized Oregon communities.

Democrats worked to approve funding for the Reproductive Health Equity Fund for projects, programs, and organizations focused on expanding reproductive health equity through: 1) provider workforce and other care investments; 2) direct support for people seeking abortion and other reproductive services; 3) community-based outreach and education; and 4) research.



The Reproductive Health Equity Fund began in March 2022 with a $15 million allocation from the Oregon Legislature to address gaps in Oregon’s reproductive healthcare infrastructure and expand access for the state’s most vulnerable populations.

“Money and distance should never stand between an Oregonian and the basic health care they deserve – no exceptions. I’m proud that our state is doing what’s right for our people and their health,” said Senate Majority Leader Kate Lieber (D-Beaverton & SW Portland).

“As Democrats, we will always work to protect access to abortion care in Oregon no matter what The Supreme Court decides,” said House Majority Leader Ben Bowman (D-Tigard, Metzger, & S. Beaverton).

It appears the Majority Leaders are following in their predecessor’s footsteps.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-03-31 20:39:39Last Update: 2024-03-30 22:40:50

Individuals can now check for missing documents

Salem Police patrol officers arrested Ross Benjamin Sierzega, a 33-year-old Salem man, without incident on multiple warrants stemming from a nearly two-year investigation by Felony Crimes Unit detectives into incidents of mail theft and related crimes in the Salem area. The Salem Felony Crimes Unit detectives finished sorting through all the documents seized as part of a lengthy mail theft investigation.

Following the arrest, a search warrant was served in partnership with the United States Postal Inspection Service at Sierzega’s apartment in the 3300 block of Crawford ST SE. The search of the dwelling resulted in the seizure of two lock cores from community mailboxes, several counterfeit mailbox keys and tools to manufacture the counterfeit keys, multiple checks, bank cards, and financial documents not in Sierzega’s name, and approximately 30 pounds of mail. In addition to the evidence collected, detectives seized a short-barreled shotgun and home-made body armor.

To help expedite the return of hundreds of personal documents to their rightful owners, a webpage with information has been created. Residents who suspect they may have lost documents through theft can determine if they are on the list of individuals who can recover their property.

Things to know: All residents should note, any unopened mail collected as part of this investigation will be returned by the US Postmaster.

Any Salem residents who have been a victim of mail theft but have not yet reported it, should do so at salempd.info/online-report. Theft of mail should also be reported to the US Postal Inspection Service online or by calling 1-877-876-2455.

Detectives urge any victims of identity theft to visit the Federal Trade Commission Identity Theft website, for helpful information and recommend an identity theft alert be registered with the three major consumer reporting companies, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.



Sierzega is currently in custody of the US Marshals Service on federal charges related to this investigation. In addition to 11 outstanding Oregon warrants, Sierzega was charged with the following: Sierzega will make his initial appearance in federal court March 26, on a federal warrant, which was based on charges of mail theft, aggravated identity theft, and bank fraud. Under US Code, manufacture of a counterfeit mail key carries a maximum sentence of 10 years upon conviction.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-03-28 18:51:25Last Update: 2024-03-29 00:00:46

Education Freedom, a series on “Why School Choice”

Editors note: This is the third in a five-part series on School Choice Initiatives aimed for the November 2024 election ballot.

School choice may answer a catalog of ways that schools are systematically structured so as to foster racism. The monopoly of a public school system creates an inability to find a market solution to discrimination, and all the answers evolve around funding, which goes to the district and not to students.

Oregon is considered to be a high spending school system, but ranks as one of the worst five states for student to teacher ratio contributing to a low quality of education. Teacher salaries are above average, still teacher unions blame low results on underpaid teachers. The state makes the case that minorities and low-income have a harder time and depress the graduation rates, so they have overwhelmed schools with equality policies.

What did Oregon do? They passed a Corporate Access Tax (CAT), implemented equity standards, instituted confusing gender identity into all curriculum, and dropped graduation standards. In 2023 Oregon was added to the list of states identified as “dumbing down education.” For the past decade, Oregon legislation has focused on boosting education for minorities until it is approaching reverse discrimination. Equity standards focus on the lowest denominator, which translates as no standards. No standards have been shown to foster meritocracy, and meritocracy is colorblind.

Oregon's response included a costly Student Success Act, initially funded with $2 billion by the Corporate Access Tax (CAT), which should have improved Oregon’s ranking since it was passed in May 2019, in time to combat the pandemic. The biennium funding from CAT has grown to $2.8 billion for 2023-25. Fifty percent was proposed to go directly to school districts for top local priorities in specific areas, distributed through grant requests.

Twenty percent goes towards early learning, and House Bill 2025 extended the pre-school age range to include prenatal through age three services using $193.5 million to fund a $365.4 million budget. Some question whether prenatal is a qualified expenditure that actually should be supported by the Oregon Health Authority. It is close to the amount needed to initially implement school choice.

Thirty percent is dedicated to creating new programs and expanding existing programs that serve African American/Black Students, LGBTQ2SIA+ and now includes five different Student Success Plans for the underserved. It also funds the High School Success program to help students stay on track through high school and graduate on time. Putting $840 million into the underserved seems to be funding an empire of programs that miss the mark parents and voters were promised for the cost of CAT. The commitment to improving equity by increasing access and opportunities for historically marginalized students is a major deception of the education system for which school choice presents parents a way out.



Those who say school choice has racist roots are implying that parents, especially lower-income, black parents, should stay trapped in public schools that have failed their children for decades. School choice was originally brought about to support freed blacks. The federal government provided support for freed blacks through the Freedmen’s Bureau building all-black public schools, and converting black independent schools into public schools. History tells a story of how socialism removed school choice and segregated public education, which made it impossible for them to flee discrimination.

Oregon’s equity policy is aimed at the underserved, which is code for minorities, low-income families, and documented or undocumented residence. School choice breaks the arbitrary link between a child’s housing situation and the school they can attend. This means the price of home a family can afford no longer determines their child’s access to a quality education. School choice equalizes access to a quality education for all races and nationalities. Why then does Oregon leadership oppose school choice when they claim to be the guardians of the underserved?

School choice, IP 5 and IP 6, presents a way out of systemic racism by allowing students (of all colors and nationalities) who want to leave their assigned government school, to find an alternative, and still improve education for students who remain in their assigned public school.

For more information, Education Freedom for Oregon website has information about the petitions, events on gathering signatures, and print and mail petitions.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-03-26 12:50:38Last Update: 2024-03-26 23:11:25

We made progress towards a state property tax

Oregon voters escaped a battle when House Joint Resolution 201 was left in committee on adjournment. Representative Paul Evans (D-Salem, Independence) crafted and requested the bill’s introduction. The Act would put in the constitution a state tax on property to fund public safety.

Rep. Evans writes, “Even though we did not pass House Joint Resolution 201, we made progress because it forced advocates to show up. For too long cities and counties have tried to publicly deny the necessity of real property tax reforms. Since 1991, the State of Oregon has paid an exponentially increased amount of “traditional local government services” that has led to disinvestment in traditionally state-funded enterprises – colleges, universities, and state police have suffered because of the necessary backfilling required to keep public schools open and local governments functioning."

The delusion of support comes from Rep. Evans own testimony and two others testifying in support and 17 in opposition. There are 1,458 written opposition, and 8 in support, but 4 are identical written by Evans.

One of the supporters wrote, “I want to encourage you to pass this insane bill. I hope you will mislead the voters about how much it will eventually cost, make sure the implementation requires as many new government employees as possible and further increase the tax bill for Oregonians so that we can leave no doubt where we rank on a national level for tax burden. Making any connection between the liberal approach to homelessness and the subsequent resulting need for further safety related expenses should of course be avoided.”

Rep. Evans wants to call it reform while passing a new tax that increases taxation. "HJR 201 put forward a new approach to funding necessary services through reforming property tax methodology. The reaction to the measure demonstrated the need for something like it – we simply do not have the resources available to fund statewide emergency services – and it is time to find a solution.”

Kevin Chambers is running against Evans for House District 20. As a business owner and advocate for public safety, he says, "We should be utilizing our resources via productive managed logging and management of our forests to drive more revenue. Simply put, Rep. Evans continues to utilize people and their wallets as a resource and mismanaging our tax dollars, instead of using our natural resources like timber. To many Oregonians are playing bill roulette as it is, yet Rep. Evans wants to make them pay more even though Oregonians already have less."

The Oregon State Fire Fighters Council saw dollar signs and testified regarding the need for fire districts. Lane County Intergovernmental Relations Manager, Alex Cuyler, wrote on the ice storm damage experienced in Lane County and said that federal emergency Public Assistance funds only paid for 75% of the costs. He supports this “modest, shared by all” tax that HJR 201 would generate even though it isn't an emergency fund.



Taxpayers Association of Oregon published an alert to voters and taxpayers: This was not Rep. Evans first attempt and he made it clear that he will be back with another bill next session, if reelected. His plan would add $100 in property taxes to a modest valued home, but once passed, the legislature could increase the rate with a majority vote because it wouldn’t be a new tax.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-03-22 12:50:53Last Update: 2024-03-22 20:00:50

Education Freedom, a series on “Why School Choice”

Editors note: This is the second in a five-part series on School Choice Initiatives aimed for the November 2024 election ballot.

School choice isn't a Republican vs. Democrat battle. IP 5 and IP 6 is a "parents know their children and know which learning environment their children need," according to chief petitioner Donna Kreitzberg.

School choice increases parents’ involvement in their children’s education, according to an AEI Research report. In an evaluation of the D.C.’s school choice, Opportunity Scholarship Program (OSP), researchers detailed dramatic increases in parental involvement. They reported, “Our research suggests that one of the most positive consequences of the OSP is that parental involvement with their child’s education has increased. Parents of high school, middle school and elementary students across both cohorts in the first and second year of the OSP emphatically stated that their parental involvement had dramatically increased when their children entered the OSP program.” This especially held true for low-income families that did not own a home or car. “This realization suggested that most OSP parents were essentially moving from the margins to the center of their children’s academic development.”

Chief petitioner Kreitzberg, lists some of the reasons parents have for wanting education options: School choice is not a private vs public school issue either. One parent expressed satisfaction with his son’s public school, until the lockdown came. His son did not do well with a self-discipline internet program and quickly fell behind. To keep up he learned how to game the program. Recognizing his son wasn’t learning anything, he was financially able to enroll him in private school where he is excelling. But not every one was financially able to take their child out of a failing situation and reeducation has contributed to behavioral problems.

Another parent’s son dropped out of high school in fear of all the violence allowed to take place without consequences. He was fortunate to find a private high school with an opening where his son could finish and graduate.



The Heritage Foundation reported that school choice options can help students escape communities where bullying, gang related violence, or other school violence is common. This was proven in research that found school choice participants were half as likely to commit felonies and misdemeanors as those who went to their local public school.

Abigail Shrier, researcher and best-selling author warns parents that current school policies are not your friend. In an interview with Glen Beck she says when they tell a parent to have the mental health expert talk to your kid, they aren’t your friend either. The last epidemic was encouraged by school counselors. That’s what they are told to do, affirm a child transgender identity and deceive parents. The school policy was, and still is in many places, to lie to the parents. Contributing is the social-emotional learning exercise that refers to parents as caregivers and outsiders and the trusted adults are the teachers and counselors. The effort to undermine parent-child relationships is real. Australia and UK peer review research studies both proved that the coping techniques taught the student to dwell from their negative self, which for a child revolves around the person responsible for them – their parent becomes the focus of their trauma. The study showed it made them sadder, more anxious, and more alienated from their parents.

Kreitzberg says, “With a robust school choice program, public schools have the opportunity and incentive to respond--many begin to listen more to parents' concerns at school board meetings and deliver a product that serves the students better. Just like in any industry, public schools will adapt and compete for students. Public schools can choose to shape their school culture or personality to what appeals to parents and students in their area--STEM, music, technology, outdoorsy, etc.”

For more information, Education Freedom for Oregon website has information about the petitions, events on gathering signatures, and print and mail petitions.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-03-21 13:23:01Last Update: 2024-03-20 22:19:50

Healthcare bill gives big union financial and political kickbacks

Oregon Governor Kotek has until April 17 to sign, veto or pass without a signature Senate Bill 1578. SB 1578 will force a government-run healthcare interpreter scheduling system while providing major financial and political kickbacks to AFSCME and well-known Democrat activist organization Unite Oregon.

Republican Legislators write Governor Kotek to veto SB 1578. "At best, SB 1578 is a costly solution in search of a problem. At worst, it is a bill that creates a redundant and inferior state-run healthcare interpreter scheduling system – with unknown costs - for the express purpose of helping a labor union achieve its objective of organizing the interpreter workforce and funneling state money to politically connected non-profits that also act as activists for the Democrat party."

This bill was at the request of Lamar Wise, AFSCME. Wise is the statewide political director for the Oregon chapter of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. Patients and healthcare professionals did not ask for this bill. This bill was strictly pushed by Wise seeking to embed this program deeper into union operations, which will result in: Willamette Week reported that Senator Cedric Hayden (R-Roseburg), noted the bill described the desired nonprofit’s attributes precisely—it “works with certified and qualified health care interpreters and individuals from immigrant, refugee, low-income and rural communities.” That describes Portland-based nonprofit Unite Oregon.

When Hayden asked Wise if AFSCME had “hand-picked” a likely nonprofit, he responded, “We know there are a few organizations that fit that description. We have also been working closely with Unite Oregon.” He added that his union nevertheless expected a competitive bidding process.



Another controversy is over Senator Kayse Jama (D-East Portland, Clackamas) involvement being the founder of Unite Oregon. The letter points out political favors for AFSCME and Unite Oregon as intended beneficiaries of this bill. “Both entities were lobbying side-by-side. The flow of money from this bill is articulated by the recent Willamette Week article. Replace “Unite Oregon” with “Oregon Right to Life” and tell us how you would analyze this bill. The obvious expenditure of taxpayer resources to favored political organizations is becoming more prevalent and needs to stop. It is akin to political money laundering. It is well known that Unite Oregon performed canvassing activities for many Democrats in the legislature and was openly hostile to Republican legislators during the deliberations on HB 4002 this session. The fact that Unite Oregon was already awarded $3 million in SB 1530 to purchase a property on East Burnside to develop affordable housing – well beyond the scope of their mission statement and core competency, is equally dubious.”

Jama founded the Center for Intercultural Organizing in 2002, which later became Unite Oregon in 2016 after merging with Oregon Action. Jama stepped down as Executive Director after his appointment to serve as Senator for District 24. The question is whether Jama has a potential conflict of interest from his relationship with Unite Oregon as founder and his leverage for their financial gain received under SB 1530 and potential financial gain under SB 1578. He did not declare a conflict of interest for either bill.

Residents can request the Governor to veto the legislation here.

--Dollie Banner

Post Date: 2024-03-20 12:31:34Last Update: 2024-03-20 00:27:58

The Council will develop recommendations to leverage artificial intelligence

Oregon Governor Kotek delivered remarks at the first meeting of the State Government Artificial Intelligence Advisory Council, established by the Governor’s Executive Order 23-26. Governor Kotek created the State Government Artificial Intelligence Advisory Council in response to the growing role that generative artificial intelligence is playing in society.

“Artificial intelligence is a rapidly evolving landscape which the state must be well-prepared for,” Governor Kotek said. “The Council will conduct important work in identifying how the state can mitigate risk and center equity in this new technological frontier. As such, a fundamental priority of my office was developing a council that included a diversity of voices, perspectives, and backgrounds. I look forward to reviewing the recommendations they will bring to my desk.”

The Council will provide a recommended action plan framework to the Governor’s Office no later than six months from the date of its first convening, and a final recommended action plan no later than 12 months from its first convening.

The council is to recommend policy changes in order for the Governor to promote state employee awareness of artificial intelligence (AI) with information needed for their decision making. That the state has clear usage policies for the use of AI tools protecting personally identifiable information and other sensitive information. The recommended action plan is to include concrete executive actions, policies, and investments needed to leverage artificial intelligence while honoring transparency, privacy, and diversity, equity, and inclusion.



The executive order 23-26 articulates a council membership requirement list that is anything but diverse, equitable and inclusion. The requirements are not aimed at being bi-partisan, and the scale of justice is overweighted on the left.

A full list of members on the Artificial Intelligence Advisory Council: Meetings of the State Government Artificial Intelligence Advisory Council are open to the public. Public comment may be made during the meeting. For more information on the Council’s meetings and charge, click here.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-03-19 16:01:43Last Update: 2024-03-19 17:28:07

Dan Mason will be the new National Committeeman

On Saturday, March 16th, the Oregon Republican Party Central Committee voted to select new representation to the RNC national party. The convention to do so was held in Coos Bay.

Longtime Committeeman Solomon Yue will be departing in his role, with Dan Mason of Washington County to be the new Committeeman.

"It's humbling to be elected by the ORP Central Committee to represent the 720,000 registered republicans in Oregon at the RNC and ORP executive team", said Mason. "Its important we have credible and competent candidates to compete with democrats up and down the ballot. They have proven over and over again, democrats in power don't have a monopoly on solutions, otherwise Oregonians would not be struggling in so many areas of life. I'm excited to build support for our team in a presidential year and beyond."



Tracy Honl of Clatsop County was re-elected as the National Committeewoman.

"I’m so grateful for the trust and support that the Oregon Republican Party has placed in me to continue to serve as its National Committeewoman", said Honl. "We’re moving in the right direction to make the ORP stronger than ever before. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work once again with my friend and Oregon’s new National Committeeman Dan Mason on party building activities that helps us elect Republicans here in Oregon and at the national level - including Donald J. Trump for President this November."

Next, on May 25th, the Oregon Republican Party Central Committee will meet at the Oregon State Fairgrounds to select delegates to the Republican National Convention in July. Any Republican PCPS (Precinct-Committee-Persons) in Oregon who are interested in applying must complete and submit the application available on the convention webpage.

--Ben Fisher

Post Date: 2024-03-17 15:36:47Last Update: 2024-03-17 19:52:43

Education Freedom, a series on “Why School Choice”

Editors note: This is the first in a five-part series on School Choice Initiatives aimed for the November 2024 election ballot.

The Oregon leadership doesn’t think voters are motivated to pass the school choice initiative and stopped the school choice bill, HB 4161 after its first hearing. But their pursuit of SB 1583 may have put new life into school choice initiatives IP 5 and IP 6. It passed through the Senate and was headed for a floor vote in the House at the close of the session. SB 1583 blocked school boards and parents from having any kind of standards for choosing materials used in public schools, claiming it would be discriminatory to someone.

Education Freedom for Oregon, a 501c4 organization, was started to ensure every Oregon student has access to education options. ”Let Them Learn” is their Oregon campaign to leave limits behind and let our kids learn by passing the School Choice Amendment, IP 5, and Open Enrollment Amendment, IP 6, to the Oregon Constitution.

Donna Kreitzberg, one of the sponsors of IP5 and IP6, says the two amendments were crafted with the input of parents, grandparents, teachers, students, legislators, constitutional attorneys, and school choice think tanks and policy advocates from about 20 states.

The Amendments were created with protections in mind. Kreitzberg says, “Nothing in the Act may ever limit the independence or autonomy of any person or entity receiving or using distributions into education savings accounts created under the Act to provide education to students nor make the actions of such person or entitles the actions of this state. Neither the government, the Department of Education, State Board of Education, nor any state agency (or nonprofit organization contracting with any state agency) may regulate the education programs, curricula, teaching qualifications or admission policies of any person or entity receiving or using distributions under the Act.“

Kreitzberg refers to IP5 and IP6 as not just being about students needing the opportunity to learn in different school settings. Teachers also need the opportunity to teach in different school settings. She says, “We have wonderful teachers with stellar qualifications who are stifled or frustrated and not able to teach in the manner they think is in the best interests of their students. They are not getting the fulfillment that they had hoped when they chose teaching as a profession. With school choice, teachers will be valued more because they will have more opportunities to choose an environment that works better for them or even start a school of their own!”

School lock downs, leaving kids at home without social interaction brought on a whole new challenge for teachers. Now classrooms are becoming a war zone. In Salem-Keizer School District, a first grader threw a chair at the teacher cutting her head. One school psychologist said there is no respect for teachers and fights are more prevalent.

This is the case at the Tigard-Tualatin schools where the superintendent is being forced to resign over lack of management. When teachers testified before the board about the violence, some beaten by and received injuries from students, the board was dismissive saying the teachers were “insensitive” causing the teachers to walk out of the board meeting. One parent reports his son dropped out because he couldn’t stand the violence and they were fortunate to get him into another high school to finish and graduate.



Petitioners have until July 4, 2024 to gather signatures with a goal of about 170,000 more signatures for each measure to have more than necessary and to show strong support among Oregonians. Kreitzberg says, “There are plenty of folks who want to sign, it is a matter of reaching them. We have been limited because we are a grassroots group working on a small budget. We have wonderful volunteers giving it their all and would love more folks to help.”

For more information, Education Freedom for Oregon website has information about the petitions, events on gathering signatures, and print and mail petitions.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-03-17 15:28:41Last Update: 2024-03-24 02:32:30

AI must honor DEI, according to State of Oregon

The Oregon State Government Artificial Intelligence Advisory Council will meet at 10:00 a.m. on Tuesday, March 19, 2024. The meeting will take place remotely via the internet on Microsoft Teams and is open to the public. The agenda and handouts will be posted on the Council’s website.

What: Meeting of the State Government Artificial Intelligence Advisory Council When: Tuesday, March 19, 2024, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Where: Microsoft Teams click here to join the meeting Who: State Government Artificial Intelligence Advisory Council

The State Government Artificial Intelligence Advisory Council is established by Governor Kotek’s Executive Order 23-26, Establishing a State Government Artificial Intelligence Advisory Council.

The purpose of the Council is to recommend an action plan to guide awareness education, and usage of artificial intelligence in state government that aligns with the State’s policies, goals, and values and supports public servants to deliver customer service more efficiently and effectively.



The state says that the recommended action plan shall include concrete executive actions, policies, and investments needed to leverage artificial intelligence while honoring transparency, privacy, and diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Meetings of the State Government Artificial Intelligence Advisory Council are open to the public. Public comment may be made during the meeting. Sign-up for public comment is required as spots are limited. Sign-up closes Friday, March 15 at noon. Written comment will also be accepted. Written comment can be submitted by mail to the Council Support Office, 550 Airport Rd SE Suite C, Salem, OR 97301 or online.

Accommodations can be arranged for persons with disabilities, and alternate formats of printed material are available upon request. Please contact Enterprise Information Services at 503-378-3175 at least 72 hours in advance of the meeting to request accommodations. Closed captioning is included on the Microsoft Teams meeting.

--Ben Fisher

Post Date: 2024-03-17 11:10:19Last Update: 2024-03-17 12:06:06

Increased bonuses are highest levels in recent memory

According to the Oregon Air National Guard and the 173rd Fighter Wing, the National Guard Bureau has now increased bonuses to the highest levels in recent memory for certain career fields to help alleviate recruiting and retention shortfalls. The new bonus structure took effect the first of March 2024.

Master Sgt. Jesse Olhiser, the 173rd Fighter Wing Retention Office Manager, explains that the highest bonus is $90,000 for a fully-qualified reenlistment in the munitions or fuels career fields—paid over five years—an annual recurring payment of $18,000.

“Never in eight-plus years of doing this have I seen anything even close to this,” Olhiser says. “These are by-far the largest bonuses I’ve seen.”

As of March 1, 2024 the National Guard Bureau has increased Air National Guard bonuses to the highest levels in recent memory for certain career fields to help alleviate recruiting and retention shortfalls.



Other bonuses include $50,000 for a new enlistee headed off to basic training or bonuses in differing amounts for cross-trainee’s or for those interested in other critical career fields.

He adds that these rates are temporary, saying, “We are not sure when it will end; no guarantee it will extend even to the end of the Fiscal Year.”

He encourages those who want to take advantage of the program to contact a recruiter a soon as possible.

Olhiser explains that the program is to help bolster recruiting numbers following years of lower than desired numbers. He adds that hopefully this may help alleviate potential shortages in the near future.

Some basic qualifications include taking the Armed Service Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) test, have a high school diploma or equivalent—although high school students in their senior year can enlist—be drug-free and have no criminal record.

Prospective enlistees will undergo screening arranged by a recruiter to determine fitness for duty.

--Ben Fisher

Post Date: 2024-03-15 14:43:14Last Update: 2024-03-15 17:31:57

“Oregonians are voters”

Oregon Secretary of State LaVonne Griffin-Valade released the final list of candidates to appear on the 2024 Democratic and Republican Presidential Primary today for Oregon’s primary election on May 21st.

Democratic CandidatesRepublican Candidates
Joseph BidenDonald Trump
Marianne Williamson

ORS 249.078 (1)(a) states that a Secretary of State may place the name of a candidate on a major party Presidential primary ballot if the Secretary, in their “sole discretion, has determined that the candidate’s candidacy is generally advocated or is recognized in national news media.” Candidates may also access the ballot by nominating petition as provided in ORS 249.078 (1)(b).

Oregon law allows major parties to decide whether to hold “open” or “closed” primaries. In this year’s May Primary, both the Democratic and Republican parties will hold “closed” primaries — meaning that a voter must be registered with that party by April 30th to participate in its primary election. Oregonians can register to vote or change their party registration at OregonVotes.gov.



“Oregonians are voters,” said Secretary Griffin-Valade. “In 2022 we had the highest voter turnout in the county. We have been trailblazers in creating modern and secure elections through our vote-by-mail system, which we’ve operated for more than 20 years without a single instance of widespread voter fraud. We are taking every precaution to ensure the 2024 elections will be no different.”

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2024-03-13 14:26:20Last Update: 2024-03-13 14:33:47

Workshop explores both natural and technological strategies for carbon reduction, utilization, and storage

Oregon Governor Tina Kotek delivered opening remarks at the fourth and final workshop of the Western Governors’ Association’s (WGA) Decarbonizing the West Initiative, hosted by the State of Oregon.

In Governor Kotek’s opening remarks, she states, “Oregon has long been a national leader in establishing strong climate policies. Under my leadership as Speaker, we passed very bold climate policies to collectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 45% below 1990 levels by 2035.”

What actually happened is in 2020, Governor Brown issued Executive Order 20-04, which added a 2035 interim goal to achieve greenhouse gas levels that are 45 percent below 1990 levels by 2035. It also updated greenhouse gas levels for 2050 to be at least 80 percent below 1990 levels. In 2023, as part of the Climate Action Roadmap to 2030, the Oregon Climate Action Commission recommended a package of GHG goal updates. However, there is no evidence that these goals were “passed into law” by the legislature with public hearings. The proposed updates included: The Governor continues her remarks saying, “These policies are an important step forward, but only if they are implemented well, and equitably across the state to benefit our communities, and especially our underserved rural and frontier communities.” Was her use of “rural” separate from “frontier” communities a deliberate implication of wealth disparities for the underserved?

Governor Kotek says transformative, transitional work is already underway. The Pacific Northwest Hydrogen Association’s PNWHG Hub was selected by the U.S. Department of Energy as one of the nation’s cleanest energy hubs in the nation. Spanning across Oregon, Washington and Montana, it will leverage clean power and innovative technology to accelerate the production of clean hydrogen energy.

Mean while the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is being pushed by nonprofits to remove dams. US Geological Survey considers hydro dams as renewable energy, but all forms of energy needs equipment that isn’t classified as “green.” Dams, however, have the highest electric generation capacity of all U.S. power plants. Four dams are scheduled for removal on the Oregon/California boarder to benefit the Coho Salmon. Seven dams in the Willamette Valley are on the list to close its hydro power but not removed because they are flood control structures. Governor Kotek has in mind to replace it with 1500 acres of solar energy. How is she spending Oregon’s share of $7 billion in federal funding on “green” hydrogen?

To listen to the Governor’s remarks, click here.

Decarbonizing the West is the 2024 WGA Chair initiative of Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon. The initiative examines how decarbonization strategies and technologies, including carbon capture, utilization, and storage (CCUS) technologies, direct air capture (DAC), and natural sequestration, can position western states at the forefront of innovation and reduce the effects of carbon emissions on the environment. Carbon capture and storage involves capturing carbon dioxide at emission sources, such as power stations, then transporting and storing it underground.



The webinar included exploration of regulatory framework to managing risks in accessing large-scale, permanent carbon storage that is necessary to support the growth of the carbon capture industry. Geologic carbon storage for long-term storage of carbon has liability challenges that may be prohibitive to project development. The development and operation of geologic storage facilities carries technical risks, such as potential leakage and induced seismicity, which in turn may present regulatory, legal, economic, and social challenges.

Of the two methods of carbon sequestration, geologic and biologic, the WGA is focused more on geologic even though biologic carbon sequestration can be accelerated through natural methods of land use and agricultural practices. Geological sequestration refers to capturing CO2 from factories, then compressed and transported for storage underground in depleted oil and gas reservoirs, saline formations, or deep, coal beds unsuitable for mining. Storage has risks and leakage is deadly. Each method has some drawback and storage costs along with cost of energy to sequestrator carbon should turn the research towards natural processes.

Geological sequestration from factories are mostly in metropolitan and suburbs that are highly populated. Governor Kotek’s reference to “rural and frontier communities” is not for their equitable benefit. What gets sequestrated from cities will most likely get transported to “rural and frontier communities” where there is land for storage plants. To say that storage plants are a benefit comes with all the risks. It can be fatal if the injected gas leaks out due to structural faults in the geological formation. This is because carbon dioxide is denser than air and settles near the ground. Once the leak is stopped it could still take a day to dissipate.

An initiative report will be released at the conclusion of the initiative in summer 2024.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-03-13 11:14:59Last Update: 2024-03-13 02:06:18

Notice of Intent for Coos/Curry Offshore Project Open for Feedback

s Oregon’s sine die conversations celebrate taking baby steps towards recriminalizing illicit drugs, taxing still-housed Oregonians more to improve shelters for Oregon’s homeless, as well as passing a measure to ‘end unlimited campaign contributions' for the relatively small donors (opening wide the door for large PAC donations to eclipse voters’ financial support), a partisan battle blew right by mainstream media’s watchful eye: Offshore Wind Energy.

HB 4080 was introduced by Representatives David Gomberg and Dacia Grayber.

After four failed attempts by House Republicans to refer HB 4080, including its -1 Amendment back to a committee -- any committee- removing it from the floor, the measure was passed by all House Democrats on March 5th assisted by two Republican Reps, Greg Smith (R-Heppner) and Mark Owens (R-Crane), both from Eastern Oregon who also voted YES, leaving a minority vote of only 21 Republican Reps to oppose the controversial “green energy” bill.



Despite offshore wind power’s misinformation and challenges to produce a positive ROI, rendering it as what some say more of a money pit than an intelligent investment, was summarily ignored by all Senate Democrats, as they passed the measure 17 vs. 11 two days later.

With HB 4080 now on Gov. Kotek’s desk, Oregonians can still comment on the Federal Register’s Ocean Energy Management Bureau (BOEM) notice page:

Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Assessment for Commercial Wind Leasing and Site Assessment Activities on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf Offshore Oregon

All comments must be received by BOEM no later than 8:59 pm PDT on Friday, March 15, 2024.

CONTACT: Lisa Gilbane, BOEM Pacific Region Office of Environment, 760 Paseo Camarillo, Suite 102, Camarillo, California 93010, (805) 384–6387 or lisa.gilbane@boem.gov.

--Kyle Sharpe

Post Date: 2024-03-11 19:59:22Last Update: 2024-03-18 22:43:13

“Val Hoyle can’t bring herself to support preventing the certain next tragedy.”

regon Fourth Congressional District Candidate Monique DeSpain criticized Congresswoman Val Hoyle’s (D-Eugene) disturbing no vote recently on H.R. 7511, the Laken Riley Act, a bipartisan bill supported by 37 Democrats that would have required Immigrations and Customs Enforcement to arrest illegal migrants who commit crimes in the United States.

“Val Hoyle’s vote against the Laken Riley Act is another example of how out of touch career politicians are with our communities and our core American values. While voters across Oregon’s 4th Congressional District are reeling from concerns about rising crime and law enforcement that is continuing to be handcuffed by failed Democrat policies, Val Hoyle, once again, chooses to prioritize criminals over innocent victims like Laken Riley and so many others like her,” said Monique DeSpain.

“Laken was a young college coed who went for a jog in her community only to be murdered by an illegal immigrant who had multiple encounters with ICE, and domestic law enforcement, in Laken’s community, with no consequences," DeSpain continued. "Laken’s murderer should have never been in the country to commit this heinous act, and he certainly should not have remained for one minute longer after he committed a previous crime in the U.S. Instead, Laken’s parents are devastated, a community mourns and is gripped in fear, and Val Hoyle can’t bring herself to support preventing the certain next tragedy.”



“This is another example of how the dysfunction of Washington DC is perpetuated by career politicians like Val Hoyle. Let’s remember that this is the same Val Hoyle who thinks it’s a good idea to house illegal migrants in our national parks and public lands and who refuses to condemn the national security emergency created by President Biden at our southern border,” said DeSpain. “Unfortunately, Val Hoyle’s refusal to do the right thing and pass the right laws to ensure the safety of everyday citizens in our communities exposes her true priority -- serving her radical special interest masters in Washington D.C. instead.”

“It is time for new leadership that puts the welfare and safety of our citizens first. This is why I am asking voters to deploy me to Congress. The difference between Val Hoyle and I is crystal clear; I will put crime victims first and always have the backs of first responders and law enforcement so they can do the job they need to do to keep us safe. Having served our country for 30 years in the Air Force, nothing is more important to me than the safety of our nation, communities, and families,” DeSpain added.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2024-03-11 13:47:00Last Update: 2024-03-11 14:45:00

“The housing shortage was created over time by policies that have handcuffed cities, overregulated builders, and stifled development”

The Oregon Senate has passed SB 1564, a bill allowing cities who do not have the bandwidth to create and administer their own model ordinance codes to adopt a code created by DLCD that is aligned with that city’s population. It was carried by Senator Dick Anderson (R-Lincoln City), who introduced the measure.

“We need to build more homes of all types -- and quickly -- to alleviate the severe housing shortage that exists in nearly every corner of Oregon. The Legislature can help these efforts by embracing bold solutions rather than the failed policies that have handcuffed cities, overregulated builders, and stifled development for decades,” said Senator Anderson, vice-chair of the Senate Committee on Housing and Development. “My hope is SB 1564 will give rural communities a necessary tool in their toolbox to free them from their housing gridlock and build more homes for Oregonians.”

SB 1564 directs the Department of Land Conservation and Development to create 3 model ordinances that provide clear and objective standards for the development of various housing types. The model ordinances are to be targeted towards cities with different population sizes, ranging from populations of less than 2,500, to populations of more than 25,000. DLCD is to develop these model ordinances by January 1, 2026.



The measure appropriates $550,000 General Fund to DLCD for adoption of the model ordinances. Projected costs under this measure include contracting for work on model codes, community engagement, and legal expenses.

One citizen, David Brown of Salem offered testimony to the Senate Committee On Housing and Development. "The severe housing shortage that exists in Oregon today was created over time by status-quo policies that have handcuffed cities, overregulated builders, and stifled development. The reforms in this bill will free up land to invest in housing of all types in all communities, not just Portland, and not just for low-income."

The bill now heads to Governor Kotek for her signature.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2024-03-07 13:39:17Last Update: 2024-03-07 15:20:35

“The plan is heavy on conservation and light on economic viability”

The Senate and House Republican Caucuses have sent a letter to Governor Tina Kotek urging for the immediate reconsideration of ODF’s proposed Habitat Conservation Plan. According to a press release from the House and Senate Caucuses, this controversial 70-year logging scale back has already had negative consequences on businesses and concern has only been heightened after the closure of multiple sawmills in the last two months. As written, the HCP desperately lacks a balance between sound forest management policy and conservation goals of the State. The letter reads as follows:

The letter is critical of the current state of the HCP. "While ODF has previously signaled its intent to balance conservation goals while maintaining current harvest levels, the newest projections released on December 13, 2023, visibly show a dramatic increase in conservation acres and a major decrease in timber harvest levels below what was promised. ODF advertised this HCP as a conservation plan with harvest certainty of about 250 mmbf (board feet) annually. The new projections show that timber harvest will be down between 168-185 mmbf annually. Obviously, this 70-year plan is heavy on conservation and light on economic viability which is not in alignment with Greatest Permanent Value."

The letter tied timber production to several issues which have been looming as themes during recent legislative sessions.

The caucuses were quick to point out how timber production is related to housing -- one of Governor Kotek's pet issues. "On average, about 240-250 million board feet of timber have been harvested from Oregon’s western state forests over the last 5-10 years. 64% of the revenue from state harvests goes back to the counties and smaller “taxing districts” within them – an average of nearly $68 million each year during the last decade. For reference, 250 million board feet of timber is equivalent to 32,500 average-size homes -- almost the number of homes Governor Kotek wants produced annually. 250mmbf also creates or retains 2,750 jobs per the Oregon Forests Resources Institute."



"Not only will counties lose critical funding but mill closures and mass job losses will continue to cause a ripple effect through Oregon’s rural communities contributing to more homelessness, drug addiction, and the need for public services. Communities surrounded by forests -- especially unmanaged forests – need fire departments to protect them from forest fires. Fire Departments relying on timber harvest revenue to operate will suffer or be forced to close. This leaves our vulnerable communities defenseless."

The letter continued, "Additionally, we are very concerned with our water and air quality, especially during fire season. This HCP will leave much of our state forests without management; 70 years of fuel accumulation increases the risk of fire and fire severity. Forest fire smoke already fills our air every year and the debris, ash, and mud destroy waterways. The cleanest groundwater comes from our forests before, during, and after forest operations. Children are choking on smoke during sporting events while the elderly hide inside their homes to survive our fire seasons. The unintended consequences of this HCP will increase the potential for more catastrophic forest fires, smoke, and poor water quality."

Oregon’s Department of Forestry has added approximately 100,000 acres of conservation above what is required for the HCP. (Northern Spotted Owl habitat is shown in ODF’s graph but does not include the Marbled Murrelet, Red Tree Vole, or Coho Salmon habitat that are also being set aside)

The letter concluded, "We understand your priorities as Governor include homelessness, affordable housing, drug addiction, and forest fires. The HCP will exacerbate these issues. Alternatively, opening our forests to proper and sustainable management would help mitigate these issues and provide the necessary renewable wood products and building materials to address our housing crisis."

"ODF will be in the same situation as the Trust Land Counties regarding the loss of timber harvest revenue. Taxpayers will be asked to foot the bill while mills close, logging companies auction off their equipment, our constituents lose their jobs, county services are strained, schools close, 4-H programs are canceled, libraries are closed, and emergency services are compromised."

The Oregon Board of Forestry will make a final decision on whether to adopt the HCP at a meeting this Thursday.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2024-03-07 12:46:28Last Update: 2024-03-07 13:39:17

“Oregonians are struggling under the pressure of an increasingly unaffordable housing market”

Housing supply was bound to be a major issue of the current legislative session and it has found its final form in two Senate Bills. John Tapogna of the Oregon Business Council summed up the problem, "the high cost of housing is contributing to workforce shortages in underbuilt communities across the state and is a key driver of the state’s slowing population growth."

SB 1537 requires the Department of Land Conservation and Development and the Department of Consumer and Business Services to jointly establish and administer the Housing Accountability and Production Office. SB 1530 appropriates money to various agencies for various programs.

Governor Kotek has been driving housing policy for over a decade, previously as House Speaker. In response to the passage of SB 1537 and SB 1530, Governor Tina Kotek issued the following statement:

“Oregonians are struggling under the pressure of an increasingly unaffordable housing market. After hearing this concern directly from Oregonians from across our state last year, I knew we had to make major progress on our housing crisis during this year’s legislative session. I want to thank legislators for meeting the urgency of this moment and providing much-needed funding that will boost housing production throughout the state.



Brad Bennington of the Builders Association Southern Oregon identified some of the causes. "It's been a long time coming but Oregon's housing crises is here and it's real, said Bennington. "Not in my back yard and overzealous no growth policies have crippled our housing industry to bring us to the point where we are 500,000 homes short of meeting current demand. We need reform and we need it now." Governor Kotek continued, “These bills offer a menu of tools that will provide the support needed to ease our housing crisis and help all our communities thrive. I believe this package will make meaningful progress in fixing our housing shortage while also preserving our land use system and ensuring strong environmental protections. But this is not the finish line. We have more work ahead to solve our housing and homelessness crises – and I will keep pushing for more because the need is so great. Oregonians are counting on us to deliver.”

"The House of Representatives passed SB 1537 by a 48-8 vote and passed SB 1537 by a 51-6 vote. Both bills passed the Senate last week. Additional projects from the Emergency Housing Stabilization and Production Package are funded through HB 4134, which the House will vote on Tuesday. That bill would then need to be approved by the Senate."

In total, the Emergency Housing Stabilization and Production Package provides a $376 million state investment in addressing the housing crisis.

"SB 1537 isn't perfect but it's a start that needs to be made if Oregon's chronic housing shortage is ever going to be addressed," said Bennington. In testimony to the Senate Committee On Housing and Development he said, "Oregonians deserve the opportunity to be able to purchase a home that is safe, sustainable and affordable but they need your help to make that possible."

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2024-03-06 21:49:15Last Update: 2024-03-06 22:30:19

Resignation gives way for needed changes

Tigard-Tualatin School District (TTSD) was once regarded as one of the best districts in the state. Now test scores are not improving from the disaster created by the Covid pandemic, violence is rampant and making national headlines, and the board is being forced to engage the community on a proposed Student Acts of Aggression or Violence Policy.

Meanwhile, Tigard-Tualatin School District Superintendent Dr. Sue Rieke-Smith published a letter on the district’s website on February 23, advising that she will retire at the end of the 2023-2024 school year. The letter expressed her honor of having served TTSD, but also hinted at facing fierce opposition, particularly over the last year.

Rieke-Smith joined the district in July 2018 and most teachers this author spoke with expressed they noticed an immediate decline in support, a decline in communication and disastrous policies from the Superintendent compared to her predecessor.

A council of The Tigard-Tualatin Teachers union issued a unanimous vote of no confidence in the superintendent in June 2023. The council has about 40 members and includes teachers from every school in the district.

The TTSD board, who hired her, seems to fail to grasp the reality of the situation. Board Chair Tristan Irvin said “It’s difficult for me to understand the motives behind such a personal attack by our association leaders on a superintendent that is held in high esteem.”

“High esteem” is not what the district’s teachers were saying. Excerpts from the 2023 teachers’ survey question about district leadership include: Both academics and the safety of schools for students and teachers declined through Rieke-Smith’s tenure. Many students were reported for not eating or drinking during the day out of fear of having to use the restroom because “bad things happen in there.” Meanwhile, students with attendance and behavior issues are treated to Grub Hub lunches and other treats, apparently out of a belief that their “dysregulation is due to being hungry.” It promotes the idea that if they act out, they will be rewarded with food.

A video of a vicious assault by one student at Hazelbrook Middle School made national headlines followed by a bomb threat. It was learned that the perpetrator had a history of assaulting other students and no effective action had been taken. Rather than taking action against the perpetrator, Dr Rieke-Smith blamed the student who had filmed the assault for contributing. Rieke-Smith never phoned the parents of the victim, and only after the massive media focus, were law enforcement called and the perpetrator is now a member of the juvenile justice community.



Things became so bad at Durham Elementary that the Durham Teachers published this letter to Rieke-Smith on November 7, 2023:

“Durham Elementary School can no longer provide a safe teaching and learning space under the current conditions. We are not talking about normal misbehavior as one might imagine, but rather about physical assaults and destructive behaviors that would not be allowed in any other public school district in our area. Zero-consequence policies and a belief in full inclusion cannot come with a disregard for all the other students and stakeholders in the building. It is not safe and the staff can no longer do their jobs under these conditions.”

Several Durham teachers testified to the same effect at the December 11, 2023 board meeting, at which time they left without listening to the rest of the meeting. Two students also testified about the chaos and violence in Tigard Tualatin schools.

Board member David Jaimes said “We should have students in our classrooms that may be a little bit harder to handle than others.” Board member Jill Zurschmeide repeated what she had said after the teachers’ vote of no confidence earlier in the year: “I hired Dr. Rieke-Smith to do the work she is doing now, she’s doing it very well, and I have full faith in my superintendent.”

KGW reported in response to Rieke-Smith’s resignation that the Tigard-Tualatin School District has been trouble with threats of school shootings and violence over the past year that led parents and teachers to call for her resignation. Now they have an opportunity to pressure the board to select a person that can make the needed changes.

--Bill Dewey

Post Date: 2024-03-06 17:50:13Last Update: 2024-03-09 18:51:41

“The Board of Forestry should reject the recommendation from the State”

The full Senate and House Republican Caucuses in Oregon have now sent a letter to Governor Tina Kotek urging for the immediate reconsideration of ODF’s proposed Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP). This controversial 70-year logging scale back has already had negative consequences on businesses and concern has only been heightened after the closure of multiple sawmills in the last two months. As written, the HCP desperately lacks a balance between sound forest management policy and conservation goals of the State. The letter reads as follows:

Dear Governor Kotek,

The Oregon House and Senate Republican Caucuses urge for the immediate reconsideration of the Oregon Department of Forestry’s (ODF) proposed Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP). This 70-year forest policy does not support a balance between economic, environmental, and social benefits to all Oregonians.

While we generally support the intent of an HCP and reasonable conservation measures, we want to ensure our forests continue to be valuable economic and societal resources for our communities. In short, we are opposed to burdensome HCP measures that will knowingly have negative impacts on our communities for the next several decades.

While ODF has previously signaled its intent to balance conservation goals while maintaining current harvest levels, the newest projections released on December 13, 2023[1], visibly show a dramatic increase in conservation acres and a major decrease in timber harvest levels below what was promised. ODF advertised this HCP as a conservation plan with harvest certainty of about 250 mmbf (board feet) annually[2]. The new projections show that timber harvest will be down between 168-185 mmbf annually. Obviously, this 70-year plan is heavy on conservation and light on economic viability which is not in alignment with Greatest Permanent Value.

On average, about 240-250 million board feet of timber have been harvested from Oregon’s western state forests over the last 5-10 years[3]. 64% of the revenue from state harvests goes back to the counties and smaller “taxing districts” within them – an average of nearly $68 million each year during the last decade. For reference, 250 million board feet of timber is equivalent to 32,500 average-size homes – almost the number of homes Governor Kotek wants produced annually. 250mmbf also creates or retains 2,750 jobs per the Oregon Forests Resources Institute[4].

This HCP coupled with ODF’s Forest Management Plan will reduce that revenue by $28-53 million annually, depending on which harvest scenario they implement[5].

Not only will counties lose critical funding but mill closures and mass job losses will continue to cause a ripple effect through Oregon’s rural communities contributing to more homelessness, drug addiction, and the need for public services. Communities surrounded by forests – especially unmanaged forests – need fire departments to protect them from forest fires. Fire Departments relying on timber harvest revenue to operate will suffer or be forced to close. This leaves our vulnerable communities defenseless.

Additionally, we are very concerned with our water and air quality, especially during fire season. This HCP will leave much of our state forests without management; 70 years of fuel accumulation increases the risk of fire and fire severity. Forest fire smoke already fills our air every year and the debris, ash, and mud destroy waterways. The cleanest groundwater comes from our forests before, during, and after forest operations. Children are choking on smoke during sporting events while the elderly hide inside their homes to survive our fire seasons. The unintended consequences of this HCP will increase the potential for more catastrophic forest fires, smoke, and poor water quality.

Oregon’s Department of Forestry has added approximately 100,000 acres of conservation above what is required for the HCP. (Northern Spotted Owl habitat is shown in ODF’s graph but does not include the Marbled Murrelet, Red Tree Vole, or Coho Salmon habitat that are also being set aside)



Scientists at local and international levels, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), recognize the climate benefits of managed forests, timber harvest, and wood products. Managed forests with sustained harvests provide the largest sustained climate mitigation benefit. According to IPCC’s 4th Assessment (2018)6:

“In the long term, a sustainable forest management strategy aimed at maintaining or increasing forest carbon stocks, while producing an annual sustained yield of timber, fiber or energy from the forest, will generate the largest sustained mitigation benefit.”

ODF’s report from December 13, 2023, even shows that more carbon is stored in the forest and in wood products in the scenarios that harvest the most volume.

We understand your priorities as Governor include homelessness, affordable housing, drug addiction, and forest fires. The HCP will exacerbate these issues. Alternatively, opening our forests to proper and sustainable management would help mitigate these issues and provide the necessary renewable wood products and building materials to address our housing crisis.

ODF will be in the same situation as the Trust Land Counties regarding the loss of timber harvest revenue. Taxpayers will be asked to foot the bill while mills close, logging companies auction off their equipment, our constituents lose their jobs, county services are strained, schools close, 4-H programs are canceled, libraries are closed, and emergency services are compromised.

For these reasons, we oppose the Western Habitat Conservation Plan. The Board of Forestry should reject the recommendation from the State Forester and instead, direct ODF to significantly amend the HCP to improve harvest and economic outcomes by any means necessary.

The Oregon Board of Forestry will make a final decision on whether to adopt the HCP at a meeting on Thursday, March 7th.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2024-03-05 18:35:21Last Update: 2024-03-05 18:57:23

CTE course students graduate at a 95% rate.

Oregon Department of Education Director Dr. Charlene Williams and Labor Commissioner Christina Stephenson announced 74 Oregon high schools, serving more than 36,000 students, have secured career readiness grants totaling $7.629 million.

The Career and Technical Education (CTE) Revitalization Grant funds from the State of Oregon will serve diverse communities around the state, with programs focused on advanced manufacturing, agricultural science, business, computer science, construction, cosmetology, engineering, firefighting, health sciences, hospitality, media and natural resources.

In total, the 31 grants help to create or expand CTE programs focused on high-wage, high-skill and in-demand fields such as Health Care, Manufacturing and Construction. These programs provide valuable access to experience, expertise and additional forms of support to the communities they serve and give students relevant education and preparation for career and postsecondary learning experiences.

“As the class of 2023 graduation rates indicate, CTE moves the needle on student success,” said Oregon Department of Education Director Dr. Charlene Williams. “CTE keeps students excited about both their school day and their future. These classes build a life changing bridge between the school experience and high-quality, well-paid careers in fields ranging from accounting and astrophysics to welding and zoology.”

Students who pass CTE courses graduate at higher rates when compared to the general student population. According to the most recent data for the Class of 2023, CTE concentrators (across all student populations) graduated at a 95.0% rate, 13.7 percentage points higher than the state as a whole.



In 2011, the Oregon Legislature established a competitive grant program entitled the CTE Revitalization Grant which strengthens the alignment of Career and Technical Education, workforce development and economic development. In July 2015, Governor Kate Brown signed House Bill (HB) 3072 and HB 5016, authorizing $9.0 million for the Oregon Department of Education to continue the CTE Revitalization Grant program. During the 2023 legislative session, $7.629 million was allocated for CTE Revitalization.

The CTE Revitalization Grant Advisory Committee reviewed 66 applications totaling $16 million in requests. The committee prioritized applications based on geographic diversity, community partnerships and programs that lead to high-wage, in-demand occupations, especially for historically and currently marginalized students. Additional information on grant criteria and list of receptitants selected for this round of funding can be found on the CTE Revitalization Grant web page.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-03-05 09:49:02Last Update: 2024-03-05 01:08:03

No business is safe in Oregon

Editor's note: State Senator Daniel Bonham (R-Clackamas/Multnomah/Hood River) represents Oregon Senate District 26.

This week, the Oregon House passed HB 4130, a bill the majority party wants you to think will simply “remove corporations out of the healthcare system.” What they won’t tell you is the bill will ultimately limit access to healthcare by decreasing the amount of healthcare options in the state.

Specifically, HB 4130 requires all officers of a professional corporation, except the secretary and treasurer, to be licensees of the Oregon Medical Board or Oregon State Board of Nursing. In theory this doesn’t sound that bad. In practice this has severe unintended consequences as Oregon's business climate has gradually made it harder for doctors to run their own practices.

Please do not get me wrong, we unequivocally need a model that supports health over profits. We don't need Black Rock deciding whether you get a hip or heart transplant. But this bill is not that. The singularly it creates will remove small physicians' options to stay in business, wiping out patient choice and paving the way for big business.

Ironic, right? This is pacman politics, similar to other sectors. Where the big medical corporations gobble up smaller businesses and pave the way for a single-payer healthcare monopoly.

Simply put, I am not willing to gamble on the government being in charge of mine or my residents' healthcare options.

Independent healthcare providers are often in need of private investment or a model that utilizes a Management Service Organization (MSO). MSO’s allow doctors to do what they do best, provide health services to their patients, while taking care of administrative tasks, infrastructure investments and financial risks. These MSOs can be a life saver for some smaller practices. This bill is seeking to end the MSO option, which will be the end of many local community healthcare options.



According to experts, Oregon ranks 34 out of 50 among U.S. states for access to primary care. Our rural communities are in dire need of innovative and accessible healthcare options such as independent healthcare providers and telehealth.

Oregon’s obsession with intervening in our healthcare system and reducing healthcare options for residents is not making our lives better. Ask yourself, would you rather go to a DMV or an Apple store? Would you rather take an Uber or a taxi? Government forced monopolies or overregulated programs do not help improve customer service. Ever. To learn more about this problem, Best Med wrote a very informative opposition letter here.

--Senator Daniel Bonham

Post Date: 2024-03-04 10:35:21Last Update: 2024-03-04 14:43:31

14 Gigawatt Wind Project Under Review

The House Committee on Business and Labor held an early morning hearing recently, where they received opposition to the proposed offshore, wind-energy legislation in House Bill 4080. Here's why.

Oregon’s 2022 Biennial Energy Report states on page 11 that Oregonians consumed 53.7 million megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity in 2020, from both in-state and out-of-state sources, which equates to 73,511.3 MW of production over a one year period (53,700,000 MWh / 730.5 hours per year). During 2020, the energy resource mix was comprised of hydro (38.9%), coal (26.5%), natural gas (21.5%), land-based wind (7.0%), nuclear (3.5%), and other forms incl. solar, biomass, and geothermal, etc. (2.6%).

It is understood that the projected output of Oregon’s offshore wind farms in both “call areas” will be 14 gigawatts, requiring dozens of specialized vessels manned with expert technicians.

Adding 19 percent of Oregon’s average annual needs to the grid begs the question of whether this gargantuan project’s benefits will outweigh its gargantuan costs - costs that Oregonians will be required to shoulder via state and federal taxation, as capital outlays and ongoing cost of operations and maintenance for this ‘seasonal’ energy source are fully accounted for.

The break-even point when delivered energy values exceed the project’s costs are at issue, assuming the equipment can last long enough for the ROI to ramp out of the red. Upon end of life, decommissioning and recycling wind-turbine components require specialized planning; in particular, blade disposal poses a formidable challenge due to their size and composition.

It is understood that 18 wind turbines and foundations will be located beyond 13.8 miles (12 nautical miles), utilizing 6,800 miles of additional subsea cable; however, obvious impacts to bird habitats (survival rates) will be felt. Several marine mammals will be harmed, as “gray whale migratory routes are most dense within 6.9 miles from shore, Southern Resident killer whale habitat occurs 11.5 miles from shore along the Oregon coastline to 656 feet (200 meters) water depths, and humpback whales are generally concentrated in water depths up to 328 feet.”

Land-based wind turbines have a typical lifespan of up to 20 years while routinely maintained semiannually , yet the Pacific Ocean is historically one of the most powerfully destructive environments on the planet.

When inevitable breakdowns, failures, and fluid leaks during its lifespan are considered, maintenance more frequently than twice per year will be required; furthermore, the inevitable leaks and failures will be significant when comparing ‘viable’ turbines in extreme, salty environments to well-documented reliability issues of more common, terrestrial wind plants. Wind Systems Magazine, 2/15/2024

Produced outputs are seasonal due to unpredictable wind speeds and thermal effects on energy lost during transfers over long distances; wind plant performance tends to be highest during Spring months and lowest during mid- to late-Summer months, when grid loads peak due to high air conditioning demands and other electrical-cooling system burdens

NOTE: There is a time-sensitive opportunity to voice opinions to the federal government about the proposed offshore wind energy project near Coos and Curry Counties where comments are due by Friday, March 15, 2024: Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Assessment for Commercial Wind Leasing and Site Assessment Activities on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf Offshore Oregon

--Kyle Sharpe

Post Date: 2024-03-03 09:32:19Last Update: 2024-03-03 09:34:58

Eligible farmers can apply for emergency loans

Oregon Governor Tina Kotek announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has determined that losses during the 2023 crop year due to multiple weather events in nine counties across the state warrant a Secretarial natural disaster designation.

This determination was made in response to a September 2023 request from Governor Kotek that outlined the impacts of the weather events, such as the Oregon cherry harvest. The available harvest data showed a 35% loss due to poor fruit set.

“Oregon farmers faced serious economic losses during last year’s crop season,” Governor Kotek said. “Our agriculture community is invaluable to Oregon, feeding families across the state. This designation is critical to ensure that farmers are able to receive support from the federal government in recuperating those losses.”

Under the first designation, defined as excessive rain that occurred starting on July 7, 2023, Hood River County is listed as a primary county. Clackamas, Multnomah and Wasco counties have been designated as contingent counties.

Under the second designation, defined as drought, excessive heat, and high winds that occurred from July 5-15, 2023, Wasco County is listed as a primary county. Clackamas, Gilliam, Hood River, Jefferson, Marion, Sherman and Wheeler counties have been designated as continent counties. Farmers may be able to apply for loans if they produce crops in any of the primary or contingent counties included in the designation.



A Secretarial disaster designation makes farm operators in primary counties and those counties contiguous to such primary counties eligible to be considered for certain assistance from the Farm Service Agency (FSA), provided eligibility requirements are met. This assistance includes FSA emergency loans.

The USDA issued this Secretarial disaster declaration on February 23, 2024. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of a Secretarial disaster declaration to apply for emergency loans. FSA considers each emergency loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of production losses on the farm and the security and repayment ability of the operator. Local FSA offices can provide affected farmers with further information.

--Dollie Banner

Post Date: 2024-03-02 01:30:48Last Update: 2024-03-01 21:40:53

10,000 fentanyl pills and four pounds of fentanyl powder

A recent traffic stop in Linn County resulted in the seizure of a large quantity of fentanyl powder and pills headed for the street.

On Feb. 16, 2024, at approximately 4:30 p.m., an OSP trooper stopped a silver Honda Accord at milepost 219 on I-5 for a traffic violation. The trooper observed suspicious behavior by the vehicle occupants that pointed to possible drug activity. A K-9 unit was called to assist.

The K-9 alerted on possible illegal drugs. A subsequent search of the vehicle resulted in the seizure of 10,000 fentanyl pills and four pounds of fentanyl powder from a grocery bag behind the driver’s seat. A small amount of other illegal narcotics was also found in the vehicle.

The vehicle operator, Danny Yohan Cruz Benitz (18) of Oakland (CA), was arrested for possession of a controlled substance and attempted delivery of a controlled substance. Passenger, Walter Omar Mayorga Aguilar (20) of Sacramento (CA), was arrested for possession of a controlled substance, attempted delivery of a controlled substance, and a parole/probation violation.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2024-03-01 20:51:41Last Update: 2024-02-29 21:21:17

Will HB 4002 correct Measure 110?

Oregon House Bill 4002 could be the most important bill this legislative session. It will determine how serious the legislature is on prioritizing public safety. Both parties introduced bills with somewhat different ideas of what decriminalizing Measure 110 should look like. Every Joint Committee on Addiction and Community Safety committee member expressed some dislike in the amended bill.

The Republican bill, HB 4036, has not moved since its initial hearing February 7, in preference of HB 4002. HB 4036 was stronger on enforcement, so Democrat leaders amended HB 4002 to include recriminalizing drug possession and open-air drug use, and increasing fines and penalties for drug dealers.

Senator Floyd Prozanski (D-Eugene) had additional concerns that the bill was being accelerated so fast that it isn't being vented as to what it will do to the justice system. Was he implying another "catch and release" in the making? He has concerns about putting the decision of treatment into prosecutor’s hands that may lead to discrimination, which was discussed by several committee members. “It doesn't meet the criminal side of what voters want addressed,” he said. Senator Fred Girod (R-Stayton) is also concerned with the bill being heavy on treatment but light on enforcement.

Representative Kevin Mannix (R-Keizer/North Salem) proposed nine amendments to address what he views as weaknesses in the Democrat's amended bill. He proposed his own amended bill, but seeing that Democrat co-chairs wouldn't consider it, he proposed amendments to their amended bill that would carry out his proposed plan he announced last week.

“While I think that the enforcement mechanism presented by the Democrat majority is not as strong as it should be, it is a step in the right direction. We need to strengthen this with additional changes in the law, which is why I have proposed nine amendments to the package deal under consideration,” said Representative Mannix.

However, because time did not allow for fiscal impact statements to be prepared, it required the committee to wave the rule, and Democrat members refused the opportunity to see if additional amendment would address some of Prozanski's concerns.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new data this month that shows overdoses deaths are rising at a faster rate in Oregon than anywhere else in the country. Between September 2022 and September 2023, Oregon saw a 41.5% increase in overdose deaths. The co-chairs, Senate Majority Leader Kate Lieber (D-Beaverton) and Representative Jason Kropf (D-Bend), released a statement in response to the CDC report:

“Inaction is not an option. This is another sobering reminder of why we have to act this session to keep our communities safe and save lives. We’re working hard to finalize a plan that accomplishes both. It is clear that Oregon's current approach to the drug crisis is not working, and we know the War on Drugs didn’t work either. Our goal is to put politics aside so we can chart a new course to a safer, healthier Oregon together."



The fiscal impact on HB 4002 is reported to be $21,061,114 with over half ($12,191,071) going to the Public Defense Commission. This, coincidentally, is the same amount that was awarded to enforcement in 2021 to track down illegal drug activity that was a successful "war on drugs" while funding lasted. The DEA joined in with federal funding and a task force was also federally funded for five western states. The work spread into 14 Oregon counties. Lane County reported taking down at least eight slave camps with similar results in other counties.

Funding to continue that program has fallen on deaf ears, and HB 4002 does not include work to take down cartel slave camps and eliminated some illegal growers. On the other hand, HB 4002 funds the defense for the criminals caught under this bill and gives them a treatment option instead of serving time. It allocates $1,609,904 to state police, but that will cover looking after all the probation agreements or crsis intervention options offered in the bill.

Oregonians are scratching their heads in disbelief. What "War on Drugs" has this leadership earnestly pursued? One Oregonian has seen slave labor increasing and says that Democrat's idea of war on drugs has been to organize slave camps and hogtied police during the riots by passing SB 1510. There are over 20 elected Democrat politicians that took unreported money from La Mota, who he says has cartel connections prior to moving to Oregon. We have cartels driving people from over 166 countries over our borders exploiting them and we encourage them with sanctuary state laws, while our citizens live in the streets in tent cities, with no hope but a steady flow of fentanyl and other drugs. He asks, "I truly wonder if elected Democrats care about what's wrong when their answer is to fund $1.2 billion for an industrial homeless complex and give free medical care to the world. Why did Governor Kate Brown shut down two state prisons and then release 1,000 more violent offenders into the streets of Oregon? Kate Brown wanted to shut down the mental hospital in Junction City, Oregon, before it was even opened to receive mentally ill. Now they are looking for treatment centers."

Measure 110 is at the root of almost every problem we now face in Oregon, but will HB 4002 really help?

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-02-27 10:45:44Last Update: 2024-02-27 22:41:57

Some say that fiduciary decisions lack credibility

Oregon Treasurer Tobias Read released his Pathway to Net Zero: Positioning the Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund for a Net Zero Carbon Future, a plan to transition the OPERF by 2050.

A step in that direction is HB 4083, which directs the State Treasurer to stop investing moneys in companies that deal in thermal coal. The bill is scheduled for a work session on February 13.

Treasurer Read is leading efforts to: Treasurer Read claims, “We’re fiduciaries first. This means that we’re required to make decisions in the best financial interests and for the sole benefit of all current and future retirees.” If that were true, they wouldn’t need HB 4083. And if it were true, why not take a vote of PERS retirees and not take direction from environmentalist that have no vested interest?



Daren Baskt, Director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, comments that Oregon is making a mistake. "Treasury should be serving the best interests of public employees and not the ideological agenda of climate extremists. But that’s exactly what it appears to be doing," Baskt told Tom Joyce of The Center Square. "[P]laying with public employees’ money and risking their retirements for some cause, whatever it might be, is irresponsible at best. Further, using the Retirement Fund to try and help eliminate fossil fuels and shift the country to unreliable and costly energy that isn’t capable of meeting basic needs isn’t some noble effort. It’s actually an arrogant plan that presumes government officials should push their climate agenda without regard for any of the costs and tradeoffs associated with their transition to energy poverty."

Read is a candidate for Secretary of State. Will he bring his agenda to that office, if elected? “Planning and acting now to address the investment risks – and opportunities of the climate crisis - is a critical next step in making sure the pension fund will produce strong returns for generations to come.”

Read’s claim of being fiduciary responsible was already on the hot seat for over investing 60% of OPERF funds in high risk “alternative” funds. This level of high-risk private investment is almost twice as high as most other state pension plans (34%%). Is it fiduciary responsible to triple private equity investments or is the OPERF headed towards a larger debt?

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-02-24 09:51:45Last Update: 2024-02-24 02:06:12

Giesy Plan Alernative promises hope for all sides

The sale of the Elliott State Forest, which “decoupled” it from the Common School Fund, it has a long ominous history. The 2022 Senate Bill 1546 that sold the Elliott school lands to itself, is pending a ruling from Honorable Judge Andrew Combs in the Civil Complaint Case No. 23CV39056 in Coos County Circuit court by Advocates for School Trust Lands (Advocates).

Advocates state, “The assumption that decoupling the forest from the Common School Fund could nullify the state's trust obligations to the common schools, as proposed in SB 1546, is at best ill-informed and at worst criminal. The irrevocable Oregon Enabling Act mandates that its terms are binding on both the United States and the State of Oregon.” They further state that it is impermissible for a trustee to purchase assets from the trust, creating a breach of trust by SB 1546. If the court invalidates the sale, it equates to breaching the state constitution.

In 1859, at statehood, Oregon was allocated more than three million acres of school trust lands. In 1930 the Elliott, Oregon’s first State Forest, was created by trading scattered parcels remaining from trust land sales for an 82,500-acre block in Coos and Douglas counties that remained in an irrevocable trust managed for the benefit of the Common School Fund. Several wildfires had reduced the older stands to under 160 years old so there is virtually no old growth. It developed into a hotbed of activism and lawsuits, so that the past 10 years there has been zero sales resulting in an overgrowth, increasing the fire risk.

The controversy surrounding the management began in 1989 with the discovery of the spotted owl within its mostly second growth trees. It was the beginning of the federally mandated HCP (Habitat Conservation Plan), followed by an environmental lawsuit stopping all harvesting in 2012. What once provided hundreds of millions of dollars to Oregon schools, was now costing money. In 2017 the Elliott Forest was valued at over $1 billion, but sold for $221 million due the severe market restrictions. In 2022, the legislature made it a research forest to be managed by Oregon State University that would raise revenue by selling carbon credits. However, OSU didn’t agree on selling carbon credits nor did they agree with the HCP plan restricting harvest. Along with tribal concerns, OSU completed its commitment in 2023 delivering the final draft of an Elliott State Research Forest Management Plan to the Oregon Department of State Lands, and backed out of managing the forest. That currently leaves the forest in the hands of the Department of State Lands (DSL) and cancels the creation of a new Elliott Research Authority state agency.

The State Land Board is holding on to preserving the Elliott as a research forest and holding meetings to manage the forest through a provisional board of directors. They requested $4.4 million in SB 5701 to administer the program. Management under the board should result in a smaller budget and allow the Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) plan to move forward under the OSU proposed research plan, which divided the forest into three kinds of management units: 66% is allocated as reserve forest, 17% is extensive forestry or ecological forestry developed by OSU with small patch cuts on a 60 year rotation, and 17% clear cuts in 60 year rotations.

There are drawbacks to the OSU plan that over time result in 73% of the forest getting older and 50% will continuing to get older increasing fire risk without management. There is a complex research overlay on the forest. which has morphed into a somewhat cooperative system. The tribes would like to see more management in the reserve areas. Over time roads will be removed in the reserve areas. HCP has an 80-year growth plan and protected species will remain even if the HCP is removed. It is a stronghold for federally listed marbled murrelets, northern spotted owls, and Coho salmon.

All the money coming from timber sales goes back into research in the Elliott Forest, which the Advocates are claiming should go to schools. Right now, the wildlife conservationists seem to be leading the conversation, “if you don’t buy into the plan, don’t be on the board,” said Bob Sallinger, retired Audubon Director. But the conversation is still open. Senator David Brock Smith defends the program as the best scenario to at least get between 17k-22k board feet cut per year, which is better than no harvest. But, that isn't viewed as proper management by Bob Zybach Ph.D, Environmental Scientist.

There is a push for a new direction that would encompass all ideas and resolve the pending court case. Zybach, has worked with Wayne Giesy, David Gould, and Jerry Phillips on the 2017 Giesy Plan Alternative to sustain the Elliott, and to focus on scientific testing of HCPs before they are adopted on any state or private lands. They have produced solid numbers to prove their plan and say road maintenance and timber sales can begin immediately. “As a PhD with some expertise on the topic, I can state with some certainty that HCPs are a purely political process and need to be scientifically tested before causing any more damage to our forests and rural economies,” Zybach says. He is calling for the Elliott Forest to be redirected to the Oregon Department of Forestry to resume management for the purpose of meeting legal obligations to the Common School Fund and to local communities.



The basic research design of the “Giesy Plan Alternative" is the paired watershed approach that OSU and ODF successfully tested on Roseburg Forest Products land on the North Umpqua. The key components of the Giesy option are that the Elliott will remain in public ownership with public access for 20 years until better informed decisions can be made regarding its longer-term ownership and management; that 40,000 acres be set-aside as “old-growth habitat” for research, education, aesthetics, and endangered species; and that 40,000 acres be actively managed for continued Common School Fund benefit, with timber sales averaging 50mmbf/year creating — by State economist estimates -- 430 needed rural jobs and $440 million for our schools. This is only 2/3 of the Elliott's annual growth of 75 mmbf/year and is the same number used in the 1988 Elliott Plan when trees were a lot smaller and 35 years younger. At the present time there is more than 2.3 billion board feet of timber on the Elliott based on the 2016 cruise, plus eight years of growth since.

All 550 miles of existing roads and trails will be maintained for safety, research, recreation and education. Research and education focus would be on carbon sequestration; spotted owl, marbled murrelet, coho, lamprey, and pine marten habitat and populations; economics; forest recreation; and forest management, and conducted locally by high school and community college students and statewide via accredited online studies. To develop accredited online courses, the Giesy Plan expands into a network started by the 501 c(3) educational nonprofit, Oregon Websites and Watersheds Project, Inc. (ORWW) that has completed more than 40 such projects over the past 21 years conducting historical and fisheries research and working with local students and educators on the Elliott. The intent is to continue work with Southwestern Oregon Community College (SWOCC) and local high schools with a focus on the Elliott. “In that regard,” Zybach says, “we have promoted the Elliott State Educational Forest as an ideal outdoor classroom for research, education, and Common School Fund income for all Oregon students.”

The components would be the 24 named creek subbasins on the Elliott, as shown on the map. The operational approach would be to systematically select two adjacent subbasins from each of the four principal coho runs (Umpqua, Tenmile, Haynes, West Fork); one to be left “as is” — but with roads and trails maintained for public access, research, education, and recreational uses — and the other to be clearcut to the water’s edge from ridgeline to ridgeline for comparative analysis of economics, wildlife populations, water flows, wildfire risk, biodiversity, and aesthetics.

Zybach states, “The Giesy Plan would be experimental, educational, and economic in scope and would only last 20 years, at which time the results could be carefully analyzed and used as the basis for future management directions and options.” In the meantime, the plan will rescue rural communities out of sure poverty, and in the long run will settle the HCP debate for state forests with significant research to test HCPs for western Oregon. You can show your support by contacting the State Land Board, or emailing Arin.N.Smith@dsl.oregon.gov.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-02-24 08:46:37Last Update: 2024-02-24 15:59:37

Measure 110 reform lacks public safety

In a stunning display of hypocrisy, Oregon’s majority party reveals they care more about public safety on buses than in your neighborhood.

Majority Leader Senator Kate Lieber (D-Portland), chief sponsor of SB 1553, makes it clear that use of drugs on public transportation as a Class A Misdemeanor is more important than the Democrat fix for Measure 110 that calls for a Class C misdemeanor, which is a $100 fine.

TriMet testifies, "Despite a significant expansion of security presence on our vehicles and property, open drug use has become commonplace throughout our system: TriMet’s Safety & Security team received an average of over 260 incident reports per month related to drugs and alcohol from October-December 2023."

In response to TriMet’s endorsement, House Republican Leader Jeff Helfrich (R-Hood River) issued the following statement:

“We’ve been told for months by the majority party and their special interest bosses that a Class A Misdemeanor was too harsh, but this bill puts their hypocrisy on full display. Public transportation deserves Class A protections, but our neighborhoods and streets don’t?” asked Helfrich, a retired Portland police sergeant. “It doesn’t make sense - if someone is using drugs at a bus stop it’s fine, but if they get on the bus it has crossed the line? If a Class A is good enough for buses, its good enough for our neighborhoods and streets.”

A recent TriMet survey shows over a 30% drop in riders for feeling unsafe on buses and trains over the past several years. This is not just a Portland issue, Eugene and Medford have also expressed concern.

"SB 1553 expands the number of crimes a person can be prosecuted for on public transportation regarding illegal consumption of a controlled substance. Chargeable offenses already exist for which District Attorneys will not prosecute," says Senator Brian Boquist (R-Polk County). "This crime will become part of the existing judicial catch and release scheme. Police already know which alleged crimes will never be adjudicated thus they stop enforcing them. Adding this crime to the list solves nothing. Calling it an enhanced penalty does nothing. Enforce existing laws. Fix Measure 110. Make the public prosecutors do their job … or maybe toss them out if they fail to prosecute ten offenders. Make Judges do their job instead of letting off offenders … or automatically toss them out if they fail to jail ten offenders. We have an intentionally expanding serious drug use problem in Oregon, but SB 1553 is a political stunt nothing more. To think having a second or third or fourth charge against a single drug abuser will make anyone safer on transit is ridiculous. This legislator finds it unfathomable that we use children, women, and transit workers as pawns for political posturing instead of providing real solutions. The right thing is to fix it, not kick the can down the road until after the next election. As Measure 110 fixes fail, thanks to the Judiciary, and lack of consensus in the State Senate, we get a "Uniparty" non-solution. We need to protect transit riders and drivers by enforcing existing laws, and provide funding for drug treatment."

The co-chair of the Public Safety Subcommittee, Joint Committee on Ways & Means admits that decisions are being made behind closed doors that even Democrats are not privy too, and public safety isn't at the top of the list. "In terms of the “major” legislation (the Governor’s Housing Package, a response to Ballot Measure 110, and a potential bill on campaign finance reforms), the pieces of the total puzzle are beginning to be revealed. Although the leadership hasn’t specifically outlined the priority of these measures for passage, I suspect there is a lot more support for the housing package than the other two priorities."

Majority leaders report they are revising HB 4002 Measure 110 reforms, but they have been silent over two weeks and time is running out. Oregonians are waiting to see if there will be significate fixes to Measure 110 that will eliminate cartel activities - close down slave camps, rape rooms, trafficking, drug and fentanyl mules, money laundering, and provide funding for enforcement to stop these criminal activities. Measure 110 reform could eliminate the need for SB 1553 as a separate law for transportation systems.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-02-23 09:25:46Last Update: 2024-02-23 15:35:16

Oregon’s use of QALY criticized by U.S. Health and Human Services

Remember the 2008 campaign for President when Sarah Palin was made fun of for speaking out about death panels? She was referring to the Medicaid qualification guidelines. In 1992, Oregon submitted a Medicaid waiver application relying on a Quality-Adjusted Life-Year (QALY) formula to prioritize coverage and services for those whose lives were deemed of “higher value.”

In 2011, HB 2100 passed as a pharmacy bill that also establish the Health Evidence Review Commission (HERC) to develop clinical practice guidelines in its prioritized list of services to encourage effective and efficient medical evaluation and treatment. They were directed to report to the Oregon Health Authority to prioritize health services for the Oregon Health Plan (OHP). It called for HERC to develop a medical technology assessment process opening the door to use QALY in the Oregon Health Plan.

The purpose of HERC was to establish benchmark rates to achieve the goal that Oregonians have access to high quality, effective health care at an affordable cost, whether that care is purchased by the state or by the private sector. The bill seemed innocent enough that it passed unanimously seemingly unaware they were creating the foundation for "death panels." It was also the narrative used as the foundation for Measure 111 in 2022 when voters passed universal health care not realizing they were opening a permanent door for priority rating – the same year the Legislature gave free healthcare to anyone in the world who comes to Oregon.

Oregon has used a QALY formula over the last 22 years to determine what would and would not be covered by the Oregon Health Plan. Even the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services thinks it is a flawed scoring system used by economists to determine cost-effectiveness of proposed medical treatments. Healthcare payers use the scores to determine who is eligible for healthcare resources, similar to auto insurers using credit scores for issuing coverage.

Based on clinical and practical analyses, QALY calculations measure how much a proposed treatment may improve someone’s quality of life by arbitrarily weighing how long that person has spent in different states of health.

The formula uses a year of “perfect health” as worth 1, while a year of “less than perfect” health—such as living with a disability or chronic illness—is worth less than 1. Death equals zero. The final QALY score equals the number of years a treatment may extend a patient’s life multiplied by determined quality of life.

In 2017, Oregon removed an explicit reference to QALY from its cost-effectiveness framework—but the Health Evidence Review Commission, which guides the Oregon Health Plan’s benefit decisions, continues to rely upon QALY-driven prioritization scores.

Disability Rights Oregon (DRO) has been working to get the Oregon Health Authority to stop using QALY scores since the inception of the Oregon Health Plan, with no success. They testified that QALY expands existing healthcare inequities by perversely impacting or denying care to people with chronic disease or disabilities, and older adults. Because of the greater value QALY places on medical treatments that extend the lives of people without disabilities than on those that benefit people with disabilities, these groups are deemed “less worthy” to receive insurance coverage for new medicines or treatments. The illegalities of QALY use are well documented, and The National Council on Disability has repeatedly warned it undermines and violates major U.S. disability and civil rights laws—including the Rehabilitation Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Senate Bill 1508 is the first step in limiting the use of QALY by the Oregon Health Authority. It states, the authority may not consider a quality of life in general measure, either directly or by considering a source that relies on a quality of life in general measure. It also requires the Health Evidence Review Commission to not rely upon any quality of life in general measures, either directly or by considering research or analysis that relies on a quality of life in general measure including value of a service; they must receive public comment on selection of vendor that provides research or analysis tool; and allow comments on the research or health economic measures to be relied upon in the commission’s decision-making.



Has the “death panels” run its course for such a change in how to cut medical costs? Factor in the passing of universal health care and free medical care for an increasing number of unhealthy immigrants, affirming care transitioning mistakes, and increased suicides. QALY may no longer serve their agenda. Plus, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services criticized Oregon’s use of QALY because it ‘‘in substantial part values the life of an individual with a disability less than the life of an individual without a disability. This premise is discriminatory and inconsistent with the Americans with Disabilities Act.”

But, SB 1508 isn’t without tradeoffs. Senator Dennis Linthicum (R-Klamath Falls) points out that the bill also caps insulin at $35 a vial from insurance providers, which has the effect of squeezing other plan participants to meet the difference in cost that directly helps patients but doesn't solve the problem of the high cost. In other words, we only moved the problem from one spot on the map to another, as manufacturers enjoy continued market protection.

One thing that seems to be agreed upon is that QALY types of scores have no place influencing what conditions and treatments the Oregon Health Plan will cover. SB 1508 is headed to the House floor for its final vote.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-02-22 10:26:51Last Update: 2024-02-22 16:02:38

Proposed legislation mirrors school choice initiatives

Oregon Representative Ed Diehl(R-Scio) is chief sponsor on a school choice bill that nearly mirrors the School Choice Initiative, scheduled for a hearing on February 14.

HB 4161 is described to reduce the cap on students who can attend a virtual public charter school and requires a school district to allow a student from another district to attend a school in the school district with limitations. The bill also provides for a student to have an education savings account allowing a percentage of funds to follow the student.

Compared to IP5's Open Enrollment Amendment, and IP6's School Choice Account, the functions are similar with different terminology. What this bill adds to the initiatives is common sense to the implementation of those initiatives. IP5 refers to “attendance zone” meaning the specific school boundaries the school district has designated as the school of residence based on the resident of the parents. IP5 seems to start with the premise that no student has an assigned school and all students/parents go through the “choice” process. HB 4161 starts with the premise that a student’s place of resident is the assigned school, and parents have a choice option to transfer.

IP5 under 4.a. requires schools to give first priority to students living within their school boundaries (attendance zone)implying everyone goes through the choice process. Second priority goes to students living within the school district, and all others are third. Both IP5 and HB 4161 have the same Equitable Lottery process, free of discrimination, for schools filling available classroom spaces. Both also exclude expelled or suspended students from choice privileges.

HB 4161 increases the number of students that may enroll in virtual public charter school that is not sponsored by the student's resident school district without first receiving approval from the school district, It extends the cap from 3% to 6% in school year 2025-26. IP5 doesn't separate virtual public charter schools from physical public charter schools, only limiting them by capacity of what their instructors can handle.

The bill describes the requirements for a school districts to not participate in open enrollment. They must apply for a waiver and demonstrate open enrollment would cause an adverse impact to the school district based on funding loss for support services and prevent delivering quality education to resident students. Participating school districts must set a standard for the number of students they can accommodate and will admit and may base it by school and grade level. IP5 assume schools have a capacity limit for accommodating transferring students, but is silent on any wavers that could be harmful to the district.

Both IP5 and the bill give first preference to in-district transfers. For out-of-district transfers, the bill requires the school board to give consent unless a waiver is filed or the student resides in a district with a waiver, or it exceeds established standards for capability. IP5 can also decline for exceeding capability. HB 4161 requires consent be given to persons who have siblings currently enrolled in the school regardless if the school district then files for a waiver. IP 5 does not address sibling rights, but both say once transferred, the student remains enrolled at that school until graduation or transfers to another school.

The bill sets out prohibitions for encouraging and discouraging a transfer, which IP5 is silent on. However, IP5 requires school districts to make detailed information on the open enrollment application process easily available.

Both allow students to use existing bus services, but does not require the district to provide transportation across districts or out of district unless required by federal law.

IP 5 has a general statement, “Open Enrollment Student with free and appropriate public education.” This statement lacks definition but it might give constitutional authority to cleanse classrooms of all inappropriate sexual identity curriculum. HB 4161 extends waiver of any applicable tuition fees that are currently waved for low-income under federal requirements and are extended to families with federal adjusted gross income that does not exceed $125,000 adjusted each January 1 for CPI affective January 1, 2026.



HB 4161 directs the Department of Education to develop and implement a policy that provides for the establishment of education savings accounts for students to use for educational expenses that is equal to 80% of the amount that the student's resident school district would have received. The remaining 20% goes to the student's resident school district to maintain services for resident students - applies to the 2025-2026 school year.

IP6 is a School Choice Account that follows a student receiving education in a private school or in a homeschool setting or with School Choice Services, which can be a combination of educational options or third parties. As with HB 4161, the School Choice Account is funded with 80% of the basic school support funding amount. However, it defines a minimum at $7,600.

HB 4161 does not include an emergency clause, so if the bill passes, it does not stop the voters from making IP5 and IP6 a constitutional amendment, If there are any conflicting parts, they would be overridden by the constitutional amendment and presumably changed in the 2025 session before it is implemented for school year 2025-2026. It is scheduled for a hearing on February 14 at 3pm and currently available for comment.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-02-09 11:26:42Last Update: 2024-02-09 14:47:17

“Guns are in almost every home”

Wallowa County Commissioner Todd Nash offered testimony via video to the Senate Judiciary Committee According to the Oregon Health Authority, 878 people took their own lives in Oregon in 2022, the last year for which statistics are available.

In his testimony, offered in opposition to SB 1503, Commissioner Nash urged the Legislature to focus on the sources of despair in rural America.

"My fear is that the good work that was done with SB 955 will be undone by this," said Commissioner Nash. His reference to SB 955 is to SB 955 from the 2023 Session which funded the implementation and operation of an AgriStress Helpline.

You can view his entire testimony, which is about three minutes long, below.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2024-02-07 19:43:10Last Update: 2024-02-07 20:36:04

Dems try to break commitment on no gun bills

When Representative Mark Owens(R-Crane) was asked in a townhall if there would be any gun bills this session, he responded, "they would not get a hearing. The presiding officers made that commitment." The Democrat leaders, Senate President Rob Wagner (D-Lake Oswego) and Speaker Dan Rayfield (D-Corvallis) must have forgotten and scheduled their sponsored bill a hearing for SB 1503 on February 7, and have scheduled a work session for February 13 at 1PM.

SB 1503 establishes The Task Force on Gun Violence and Suicide Prevention, which “shall study the following issues related to public health best practices for reducing deaths from gun violence and for suicide prevention.” Will this task force do anything, or study in perpetuity? We know the answer.

According to some, there is no such thing as a violent gun. There are violent people, and if you only look into violence where people use one implement vs another you would be looking at only one tiny piece of the problem and will be sure to fail to find any solution. So this bill aims to set up an infrastructure sure to fail and sure to be a black hole for taxpayer funds.

Who will serve on the task force? Legislators, ‘representatives’ of various health organizations, behavioral health providers, and medical providers. Amendment -3, introduced by Wagner and sure to be adopted in the work session, adds law enforcement, professional in veterans' mental health, and a person that lived experience with community safety threats or suicidal ideation. What was their intent to not include law enforcement who deal with violent people every day.

Amendment -3 also changes Section 2 and appropriates $400,000 to the Department of Justice "for the purpose of paying a third party for research ordered by the Task Force on Gun Violence and Suicide Prevention.” It was changed from the Oregon Health Authority. The task force directives are focused on aspects of suicide with only one directive on the use of firearms: "(g) Rates of success for extreme risk protection orders and barriers to implementation and capacity for police stations or other entities to implement voluntary surrender or holding of firearms." Amendment -3 removes the remainder objectives focused on firearms, so why is "Gun Violence" still in the title?

New CDC data reported by ktvz, doesn't support this bill. It shows a three-year decline in youth suicides (24 and younger) in Oregon, with fewer total deaths and a lower rate in 2019, 2020, and 2021. It shows 53% of that declining number is by firearms. Oregon saw a 14% drop in suicides among people ages 24 and younger compared to the year prior, with 102 deaths in 2020. If the drug addicted were removed, the numbers would go way down, which points back to Measure 110.



Senator Wagner's proposed Amendment -3 can be assumed to get ahead of the criticism over their commitment not to hear gun bills and the bad press Oregon Health Authority is receiving. OHA failed in its role as provider of information to the volunteer Oversight and Accountability Council, which awards more than $100 million annually in cannabis tax revenue to recovery organizations, supposedly with guidance from OHA. But the report OHA promised to provide by September 2023 still hasn’t been produced.

What's left of SB 1503 seems to be duplicating the Oregon Suicide Prevention website, AFSP Oregon, and the crisis lines resources along with a number of other programs that testified in the hearing. There is no lack of help available, which goes back to the intent of this bill. Whether amended or not, guns will be the main topic of discussion.

--Bill Dewey

Post Date: 2024-02-07 12:42:26Last Update: 2024-02-07 18:03:43

Stand with Texas on Securing the Border

A group of Oregon House and Senate Republicans along with the Chair of the Oregon Republican Party penned a letter to Texas Governor Greg Abbott applauding his unprecedented efforts to secure the southern border in the absence of support from the White House and federal agencies.

“The flow of deadly drugs from cartels into America hugely contributes to the drug crisis we’re seeing in Oregon and remains out of control due to Measure 110. If we don’t stop the flow of cartel drugs funneling into American cities – even if we ramp up treatment services and enhance penalties for dealers and users in Oregon – this crisis will persist,” said Representative Chris Goodwin (R-Canyonville). Governor Abbott and my colleagues who signed this letter recognize the seriousness of this situation and the long-term ramifications of doing nothing to remedy it.”

The letter also discusses the broken immigration system in the U.S. which must be fixed with strong leadership from Congress and a President willing to make tough decisions.

“Legal immigration has long been a part of America’s fabric, but let’s not forget we are also a nation of law and order. Opening the border to mass illegal migration ignores who we are as a country and disrespects those who came here for a better life the legal way,” said Senator Dick Anderson (R-Lincoln City).

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2024-02-06 12:14:05Last Update: 2024-02-06 19:58:39

Legislation sets new climate change emission requirements

The Oregon Short Session limits each legislator to 2 bills, which equals 180 bills, but committees are unlimited. Senator Michael Dembrow is Chief Sponsor on 11 bills and has pursuaded committees to sponsor bills for him. He is chief sponsor of SB 1559 with three others, so does that count as 25% of one of his allotted bills?

Global warming is not panning out for the liberals so rather than see the deceptiveness in the concept, they pursue, full-steam ahead, under climate change while the natural gas usage increases. Was Gandhi talking about climate change when he said, “Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed.”

SB 1559 changes the term "global warming" to "climate change" in some laws, and modifies state greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals. This is all declared as an emergency so Oregonians can’t instigate an initiative to overturn it, even though no provision will have immediate implementation.

The first change comes in the form of a declaration to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Oregon consistent with practices to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. We are 1.1 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels now. Capping average global temperature at 1.5 degrees C (equivalent to 2.7 degrees Fahrenheit) doesn’t happen without hardships on everyone.

The goals for 2010, 2020 and 2050 are changed in Section (1) to:



Section (2) is added as another declaration that is assumed to be the desire of the entire state:

(2) In addition to the greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals described in subsection (1) of this section, it is the aspiration of this state to achieve net zero emissions as soon as practicable, but no later than 2050, and to maintain net negative emissions thereafter.

“Net negative emissions” means the amount of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere is less than the amount of greenhouse gases removed from the atmosphere, as determined by emissions accounting best practices over a specified period of time.

“Net zero emissions” means the amount of greenhouse gases emitted into the atmosphere is equal to the amount of greenhouse gases removed from the atmosphere, as determined by emissions accounting best practices over a specified period of time.

You can register to receive email updates on this bill as it passes through the session.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-02-03 17:36:44Last Update: 2024-02-03 18:22:35

“Oregon has become a magnet for drug cartels to distribute poison”

Four suspected drug traffickers with apparent ties to a Mexico-based transnational criminal organization are facing federal charges today after they were caught transporting nearly 370 gallons of liquid heroin.

Marco Antonio Magallon, 44, Luis Deleon Woodward, 26, and Jorge Luis Amador, 25, all of Yakima, Washington, and Santos Alisael Aguilar Maya, 32, whose place of residence is unknown, have been charged by criminal complaint with conspiracy to distribute and possess with intent to distribute heroin and possess with intent to distribute heroin.

According to court documents, on January 24, 2024, as part of an ongoing, multi-agency drug trafficking investigation, law enforcement obtained information that several individuals working for a transnational criminal organization were transporting a large load of illegal narcotics into the District of Oregon. Late in the evening of January 24 and in the early morning hours of January 25, 2024, investigators observed a rented moving truck driven by Amador and an accompanying red pickup truck traveling west on Interstate 84 near Bonneville, Oregon. Investigators observed the vehicles travel together to a motel in Tigard, Oregon, making one brief stop in a commercial parking lot in Beaverton, Oregon.

Later on January 25, investigators executed federal search warrants on the defendants’ motel room and two vehicles. They located and seized eight 55-gallon barrels containing approximately 370 gallons of a liquid narcotic inside the moving truck and two loaded handguns inside the motel room. All four defendants were arrested without incident. Investigators transported the seized narcotic, which weighed approximately 1.4 metric tons, to the Washington County Sheriff’s Office (WCSO) narcotics room. Lab tests later confirmed the barrels contained liquid heroin.

This case is being investigated by Homeland Security Investigations, WCSO, and the Westside Interagency Narcotics Team. It is being prosecuted by Scott M. Kerin, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

“Oregon has become a magnet for drug cartels to distribute poison that’s killing Oregonians. This is another example of how failed polices like Measure 110 and the open southern border put our state in danger. We must change course to save more lives,” said House Republican Leader Jeff Helfrich (R-Hood River), a retired Portland police officer.

House Republicans have introduced HB 4036 to structurally reform the broken Measure 110 so that Oregon can begin to address the out-of-control crises of drugs, homelessness, and crime that plague the state.

The Republican bill classifies possession of deadly drugs like fentanyl, heroin, and meth as a Class A Misdemeanor, mandates treatment to avoid jail time, bans public use, and requires evaluation and treatment as part of probation for certain drug and property crimes. It requires prison sentences for drug dealers and manufacturers with multiple convictions, and increases the penalties for drug dealers who sell drugs that result in the death of a person.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2024-02-02 17:33:13Last Update: 2024-02-02 17:49:54

Measure 110, housing supply, protect the kicker from Democrats

Senate Republican Leader Tim Knopp (R-Bend) outlined the Senate Republican Caucus’ priorities for the 2024 Legislative Session in a press conference with Republican and Democrat legislative leaders.

“Decades of one-party Democrat control has created a severe housing shortage, increased costs for families, and made it extremely difficult for businesses to thrive in Oregon. Meanwhile, homelessness, drug addiction, and violent crime have eroded the fabric of our communities – especially since the passage of Measure 110,” said Leader Knopp. “Senate Republicans’ agenda focuses on course correcting the Legislature’s response to Oregon’s growing problems by abandoning failed policies of decades past and embracing bold solutions that will put Oregon on a path to success.”

The Senate Republican Caucus’ priorities for the 2024 Session are:

Boosting Housing Production

The severe housing shortage that exists in Oregon today was created overtime by status-quo liberal policies that have handcuffed cities, overregulated builders, and stifled development. Senate Republicans are proposing commonsense reforms which will free up land to invest in housing of all types in all communities, not just Portland.

Priority Legislation: SB 1564

Addressing Drug Addiction, Homelessness, and Crime

Drug addiction, homelessness, and crime have soared in recent years – especially since Measure 110. Communities have suffered and lives have been lost. Senate Republicans are introducing several key bills aimed at getting these issues under control and saving lives. Some policies focus on treatment for drug addiction, and others support victims of child abuse.

While special interest activists and far-left Democrats defend the Measure 110 disaster, most Oregonians say it’s time for drastic change. The Legislature must course correct and create a better policy that puts people on a path to recovery. Senate Republicans believe Measure 110 reform must recriminalize drug possession to a Class A Misdemeanor, giving law enforcement what they need to provide accountability that will require treatment for addiction as a diversion from jail. Reform must also ban public use of hard drugs, enhance penalties for drug dealers, fund specialty drug courts, and allow counties – not OHA – to address needs at a local level.

Priority Legislation: SB 1555, SB 1588, SB 1579

Defending the Kicker, Growing the Economy, Lowering Costs

Oregon is an amazing place to call home, but it comes with a high price tag. Inflation coupled with high taxes, fees, and burdensome regulations pushed by Democrat lawmakers has made Oregon so expensive to live, operate a business, and raise a family that people are fleeing in huge numbers. Senate Republicans will push for lower taxes for small businesses, financial relief for wildfire victims, income tax exemptions for veterans, and property tax exemptions for seniors, while fighting Democrat attempts to raise taxes and take the Kicker from working Oregonians.

Priority Legislation: SB 1542, SB 1549, SB 1520, SJR 202, SB 1543

Protecting Constitutional Rights Threatened by Democrats

Senate Republicans place great importance on protecting the constitutional rights of Oregonians whether it be the 2nd Amendment or the Kicker. This will remain a focus throughout the entire Session as tyranny of the majority is often an inevitable reality in the Democrat-controlled Legislature.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2024-02-01 12:19:42Last Update: 2024-02-01 20:34:26

“This problem is bigger than one city”

As solutions continue to be sought for the failure of Measure 110, Governor Tina Kotek, Multnomah County Chair Jessica Vega Pederson and Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler each declared a 90-day state of emergency to address the public health and public safety crisis driven by fentanyl in Portland’s Central City. The tri-government fentanyl emergency declarations follow a recommendation put forward by the Portland Central City Task Force, unveiled at the Oregon Business Leadership Summit late last year.

“Our country and our state have never seen a drug this deadly and addictive, and all are grappling with how to respond,” Governor Kotek said. “The Chair, the Mayor and I recognize the need to act with urgency and unity across our public health and community safety systems to make a dent in this crisis. We are all in this together. The next 90 days will yield unprecedented collaboration and focused resources targeting fentanyl and provide a roadmap for next steps.”

All three emergency orders direct the City, State, and County to commit available resources to the unified response. A command center will be stood up in the central city where state, county and city employees will convene to coordinate strategies and response efforts. Each level of government has identified an incident commander who will be responsible for coordinating resources from the jurisdiction they represent. They are as follows: Nathan Reynolds, Deputy Chief of Policy and Mission Support at the Office of Resilience and Emergency Management for the state, former Health Officer Dr. Jennifer Vines for the County, and Mike Myers, Director of the Community Safety Division for the City.



The Command Center will serve to refocus existing resources. It will also share and publicly report data on the impacts of fentanyl in downtown, use data to identify and respond to acute needs and gaps in service, identify any specific resources necessary to address gaps, and establish a system to coordinate that can be sustained beyond the 90-day startup period.

HB 4036 is the House Republican bill proposed to solve some of the problems caused by Measure 110. The bill reclassifies possession as a Class A Misdemeanor, the standard that Oregon’s district attorneys and law enforcement community agree is necessary to have any real leverage in undoing the damage. It also increases penalties for the drug dealers pushing poison into our communities.

HB 4036 prioritizes getting people clean through voluntary diversion and treatment programs or mandatory recovery programs, consistent with the will of the people. It also directs treatment dollars to responsible and accountable county governments instead of what Republicans call "shadowy, well-connected special interest groups that have failed to deliver for Oregon."

“Three years after Measure 110 initiatives started to ravage Oregon and over a year after she began her administration, Gov. Kotek has finally identified that Portland has a fentanyl crisis. While it’s about time, this problem is bigger than one city; we remind the Governor that this crisis has spread across the entire state. We welcome her to join Republicans in pursuing serious policy solutions - like HB 4036 -- and ask her to urge her fellow Democrats in the legislature to do the same,” said House Republican Leader Jeff Helfrich (R-Hood River).

”If you or a loved one is struggling with a fentanyl addiction, we hear you, we see you and we are taking this crisis seriously,” Chair Jessica Vega Pederson said. “We are acting with shared leadership to take urgent action today to respond to the very human toll fentanyl takes in our community, including overdoses, fatalities and day-to-day suffering, and the fear so many families are experiencing as a result.”

At the state level, resources will be deployed from the Oregon Department of Human Services of Office Resilience and Emergency Management, the Oregon Department of Emergency Management, the Oregon Health Authority, and the Oregon State Police.

Multnomah County will marshal and direct resources from the Health Department , County Human Services , Community Justice , County Assets , Joint Office of Homeless Services , and Emergency Management and our network of partners and providers. Through coordinated outreach, the County will work to prevent exposure and use of fentanyl; reduce harm among people using substances; and increase access to outreach, treatment, recovery, and housing services.

The Health Department will launch two public education campaigns during the 90-day emergency featuring transit, billboards, digital media, streaming audio, and more. These highly-visible messages will promote prevention among youth and the effectiveness of recovery in transforming lives, and reduce stigma for treatment.



The County will also increase the visibility and coordination of County contractors conducting outreach on the streets, distribute and train partners on the use of Narcan and issue reports on overdose data. Targeted outreach will leverage services from the downtown Behavioral Health Resource Center. The center—strategically located in the Central City— will offer immediate access to day services and improve connection to care.

City of Portland will deploy providing public safety, addiction and public health services, crisis response, and other resources and services to those impacted by the fentanyl crisis.

Specifically, a combination of disciplines will be coordinated and deployed including peer outreach, and behavioral and public health services to move individuals experiencing a fentanyl addiction into treatment and provide other stabilization services, as well as continued missions between the Portland Police Bureau and Oregon State Police to hold individuals selling the drug accountable.

“I am pleased to have Governor Kotek and Chair Vega Pederson join the City of Portland’s ongoing efforts to address the deadly fentanyl crisis impacting our community. Today, we move forward with urgency to address these challenges together under the authority of emergency declarations. This is exactly the type of coordinated action needed to make a direct impact and a lasting difference,” Mayor Wheeler said.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2024-01-30 14:04:16Last Update: 2024-01-30 14:51:38

House Democrats also elected Rep. David Gomberg to serve as Assistant Majority Leader

Members of the Oregon House Democratic Caucus have selected House Majority Leader Julie Fahey as their nominee for Speaker of the House, a position that will be filled by a vote of the full House chamber when Speaker Dan Rayfield ends his term as Speaker.

Earlier, Speaker Rayfield shared a letter with legislators announcing his intention to remain Speaker through the February legislative session, and for the chamber to elect a new Speaker at the conclusion of the five-week session. Speaker Rayfield plans to continue representing House District 16 through the end of the current term. “I’m deeply honored to have earned the Democratic caucus’s nomination for Speaker of the House. Right now, we’re 100% focused on ensuring that our February legislative session delivers real results on the issues Oregonians care most about,” says Rep. Fahey, who has served as House Democratic Leader since January2022. “My commitment is to serve the people of Oregon with respect, common sense, and collaboration as we tackle the biggest issues we’re facing across this state.”

“Serving as Speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives has been the honor of my life, and I want to leave this post in the same spirit that I have served: creating an effective and respectful environment, being clear and transparent in our work, and always putting the interests of Oregonians first,” says Speaker Rayfield. “I will leave the Speakership with a deep gratitude for having been entrusted with this responsibility, and excitement about what will come next for the People’s House.”



House Democrats also elected Rep. David Gomberg to serve as Assistant Majority Leader, following Rep. Maxine Dexter’s decision to step down from that role. Rep. Gomberg has represented Oregon’s Central Coast since 2013. “Geographic diversity is critical when it comes to making decisions that impact our state, especially when it comes to issues like transportation, economic development, housing, infrastructure, and more,” says Rep. Gomberg. “I’m committed to bringing a unique perspective from rural Oregon to the House Democratic Leadership Team.” The 35-day legislative session begins on February 5 and will be focused on addressing the urgent needs facing the state: Housing and homelessness, addiction and behavioral health, and public safety.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2024-01-30 13:46:58Last Update: 2024-01-30 14:21:21

Most people just want to quit switching clocks

Legislators in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and California are planning to introduce bills this year to put their states on standard time year-round. Senator Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer) will introduce Senate Bill 1548 in Oregon.

“Oregonians have long-expressed their desire to stop changing the clock,” said Thatcher. “Some prefer keeping daylight saving time over standard time, and many don’t care which – they just want to stop changing the clock. Since daylight saving time is just not possible without congressional approval, and after waiting five years for Congress to approve a DST bill that passed here in Oregon in 2019, standard time has become a common-sense choice for 2024 and doesn’t need approval from Congress. Research also shows standard time is the healthier choice! I’m grateful to have the privilege of working with our surrounding states as they, too, introduce bills to ditch the switch!”

In Washington, Senate Bill 5795, introduced by Senator Mike Padden, received a public hearing in the Senate State Government and Elections Committee.

“If there is one issue most people agree on, it’s the dislike of moving their clocks from standard time to daylight saving time in the spring and then back to standard time in the fall,” said Padden of Spokane Valley. “There have been scientific studies connecting several health problems with switching back and forth between standard time and daylight saving time, including greater risks of heart attacks and more frequent workplace injuries. This bill would allow Washington to finally ‘ditch the switch’ by keeping us on standard time permanently.”

In California, Assemblyman Tri Ta of Westminster has introduced Assembly Bill (AB) 1776 and is awaiting a committee hearing. “California voters are tired of disruptive time changes that have outlived their usefulness,” said Ta. “I am honored to join this multi-state coalition, and I know that this will make a difference to promote the health of the people of California and across the American West.”



The principal co-author of AB 1776, Senator Roger Niello of Fair Oaks, shared, “I am glad to be collaborating with representatives of multiple states to make standard time permanent.” He continued, “Different legislative processes and timelines can be challenging, but we are all working together to make Pacific Standard Time permanent so that our constituents can avoid the disruptive process of adjusting their clocks twice a year and adapting to the time change.”

“In Idaho our standard time bill has been drafted as RS30948 and will move to the House State Affairs Committee within the next 10 days, where we are confident of its passage,” said Idaho state Representative Joe Alfieri of Coeur d’Alene.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-01-27 11:08:29Last Update: 2024-01-26 18:02:49

“Her passion for Western issues will be a great addition to the board”

Oregon Farm Bureau Federation President Angi Bailey was elected to represent the Western Region on the American Farm Bureau Federation Board of Directors. The Western region consists of 13 states and holds five seats on the AFBF board. The board plays a pivotal role in shaping federal policy related to agriculture and natural resources.

"With the depth and breadth of challenges facing Oregon farmers and ranchers, including issues surrounding ag labor, the farm bill, water and drought, and livestock predation just to name a few, this board seat secures Oregon and the West a voice at the table and gives us a national platform to highlight the unique challenges we face,” OFBF President Bailey said. “I will never take this responsibility lightly. I look forward to advocating for Oregon, and the rest of the West, in this new and exciting way.”

“Angi’s election to the AFBF board is an exciting and well-deserved opportunity! Her knowledge of and passion for Western issues and grassroots advocacy will be a great addition to the board,” commented OFBF Board Member Matthew Brady, who represents Lane and Douglas counties and was also present at the AFBF Annual Business meeting in Salt Lake City, UT.



Bailey’s election marks the first time in eight years that Oregon has had a seat on the national board – formerly held by past OFBF President Barry Bushue. Bailey was also appointed to represent the West on the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture Board. Angi Bailey is the first woman representing the OFBF elected to the AFBF board.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2024-01-26 16:50:00Last Update: 2024-01-25 17:27:09

Oregon State Forester conducting HCP, FMP listening sessions

Oregon Governor Tina Kotek has backed herself in a corner. The Governor has identified a severe housing shortage with a goal to build 36,000 homes each year. That would double the number of homes built in Oregon per year. The Governor’s Housing Production Advisory Council identified many barriers to meeting her goal, but bypassed the most obvious, the lack of timber.

The Oregon State Forester Cal Mukumoto is holding three more listening sessions to hear final thoughts from the public prior to making a recommendation to the Board of Forestry on a path forward for completing the draft Western Oregon State Forests Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) and Western Oregon State Forest Management Plan (FMP) for 640,000 acres of state-managed forestlands in western Oregon. It seems Mukumoto has learned nothing from the failed mapping project. It should be apparent that the past six years in development of a 70-year HCP plan misses revenues needed by over 30% costing rural counties roughly $18 million per year, and exceeds habitat acres needed by 150%, according to Oregon Forests Forever.

The HCP is intended to protect endanger species, but in doing so it endangers the housing industry preventing harvesting and active forest management on about 40% of Oregon's state forests decreasing timber harvest by 50 percent. The HCP involves prescribed fire (Rx) work burning off debris to reduce fire risk, but at the same time, damaging timber that could have been removed to build homes. The Governor has another problem in justifying these burns that give off carbon pollutants where harvesting would sequester the CO2 in the wood to build homes.

On the private side, the state has allowed the sale of 200,000 acres to a Chinese man associated with the CCP. Was this in the plan when Speaker Kotek exempted exporting timber to China from the Corporate Access Tax (CAT)? The restrictions on timber forces Governor Kotek to bring in timber from Europe and Canada leaving counties in lack of revenue it has depended on. Rural leaders have calculated this will eliminate police, teachers, firefighters, health care workers and other critical services for already under-served Oregonians leaving them vulnerable to the infiltration of cartels - yet another problem the Governor made as Speaker that she seems without the ability to control.

Governor Kotek also took a hit when Oregon State University rejected management of the Elliott State Research Forest due to the constraints of HCP. Washington State is now considering a land trust, what Elliott Forest was, to fund their child care centers with a working forest. "Working forest" seems to be the key to managing a productive forest, which is lacking in HCP and why OSU rejected management.

Oregon’s management of state forests is guided by forest management plans that are adopted by the Board of Forestry (OAR 629-035-0030). Forest management plans are designed to provide a full range of social, economic, and environmental outcomes that provide the “greatest permanent value” to all Oregonians (OAR 629-035-0020). The draft HCP is how ODF wants to ensure compliance with the federal Endangered Species Act while implementing the forest management plan.

Has ODF reversed the order of application? The FMP needs to achieve the "greatest permanent value" to all Oregonians (not species) before HCP. The Endangered Species Act directs states to “seek to conserve endangered species and threatened species…in furtherance of the purposes of this Act.” Is the HCP really necessary? "Seek" and "furtherance" is 85% of the way, not 150% overkill.

The National Forest Service has recently switched from their 10-year wildfire strategy, which includes mechanically thinning fire-prone forests, to a top-down D.C. approach amending all 128 forest land management plans to “conserve and steward” old-growth forests through a single Environmental Impact Statement prohibiting commercial logging, which will further impact rural communities. Under the Northwest Forest Plan, three-quarters of national forest land in Oregon is off-limits to routine active forest management, even though wildfires have burned millions of acres including endangered species’ habitat.

"ODF’s total purpose for HCP is to support the overall goal of the updated FMP by improving certainty around both ESA compliance and timber harvests." However, the decrease in timber harvest is a poor definition of certainty. The current approach of compliance through “take avoidance” has been costly and complex that needed new management. This approach requires extensive species surveys, resulting in shifting protections that, over time, may impact the quality and durability of the habitat provided, resulting in fewer acres available for harvest.



A reprieve for the Governor’s affordable housing objective is a $78 billion bipartisan tax package unveiled by Congressional negotiators this week that includes a provision that its backers hope will spur home building nationwide. The Tax Relief for American Families and Workers Act of 2024 would expand the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program, which offers incentives for building homes for lower-income households. A Northwest nonprofit testified that Oregon’s home prices have increased 40-50% over the last three years.

Yet another stumbling block for the Governor is the recent closure of a sawmill in Banks. This creates concerns for Oregon’s timber industry. Hampton Lumber announced plans to close its Banks sawmill that affect 58 employees in a city of less than 2,000 people. The mill has operated since 1961.

ODF is seeking input on HCP and FMP during two in-person listening sessions, and one virtual listening session. If attending is not possible, written comments must be received by February 2. Email comments to forestryinformation@odf.oregon.gov or mail them to State Forester Cal Mukumoto, Building B, 2600 State St., Salem, OR 97310.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-01-26 11:13:11Last Update: 2024-01-26 17:20:47

Graduation rates don’t reflect a difference between proficiency testing and class achievements.

The Oregon Department of Education (ODE) put out a press release touting the class of 2023 as achieving the second highest graduation rate ever in Oregon. The statewide graduation rate for the class of 2023 is 81.3 percent, tying the 2022 class as the second highest graduation rate ever recorded in Oregon. While the overall rate held steady, some student groups reached all-time highs for graduation including former English Learners (87.6%) and Migrant students (81.6%). The biggest negative impact were students in Foster Care dropping 1.5% to 46.9% graduation rate.

While 81.3%, 37,700 students earned a diploma, 8,672 students did not graduate, a long hill for Governor Kotek to meet her campaign goal of 90%. Tina Kotek campaigned that it was important to her for “setting high standards and high expectations for all Oregon students.” Her website listed education priorities, lowering the 2011 statutory bar to 90% graduating by 2027.

Does a diploma demonstrate proficiency in reading, writing, and math? In August 2021, Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed Senate Bill 744 eliminating the requirement for high school graduation requirements for 2022, 2023, and 2024. Prior to the pandemic it had reached 82%, then dropped to 80.6% in 2021. So the elimination of testing hasn’t made a significant difference. Oregon was one of 15 states that ended graduation test requirements. Eight other states have replaced graduation test requirements with a variety of end-of-course tests that factor into student course grades and the right for students to use an alternatives if they fail.

Besides the standard diploma, students with a documented history of not maintaining grade level achievement due to a learning, instructional, or medical barrier can earn a modified diploma or an extended diploma. They must have “demonstrated the inability to meet the full set of academic content standards for a high school diploma with reasonable modifications and accommodations.” It qualifies them for federal financial aid in college but probably will not be accepted into the military.

Oregon students still have to pass their high school classes and earn 24 credits to graduate, which is one of the highest in the nation. Still, every legislative session discusses increasing the mandatory credit requirements. Every credit required reduces the flexibility for students to pursue their interests in the direction of a possible career. ODE has recommended changes to the state's graduation requirements, including permanently ending the requirement to show testing proficiency in reading, writing, and other skills on top of credit-bearing coursework in those subjects.



Another educational goal was passed into law in 2011 was the “40-40-20? (Bachelor’s/Associate’s/high school) goal for 100% of adult Oregonians to have at least a high school diploma or equivalent by 2025. By 2019, 7% of Oregonians had less than high school education, but the pandemic seems to have swept that goal under the carpet too. The current graduation rates would indicate that goal is a dream that will never happen.

Dr. Charlene Williams, ODE Director, states, “Each diploma represents an inspiring step forward for a student, their loved ones, and their community. With impressive grit and resourcefulness, they worked their way through the jarring and isolating impacts of the pandemic to earn their education. We need to maintain high expectations and provide high levels of support that will lead to academic excellence for all of our students. Each and every child from birth through 5th grade must be set up for success in learning to read and reading to learn and be provided opportunities to find their path to graduation success and their dream career.”

Governor Kotek would like to see more targeting of resources, “such as career and technical education and supporting English Language Learners. This targeted approach to success is working for our students, so let’s do more of that, and I hope lawmakers support summer learning investment in the 2024 session.”

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-01-25 11:57:07Last Update: 2024-01-25 16:43:10

Website Details Val Hoyle’s Corrupt Dealings with La Mota

Oregon Fourth Congressional District Candidate Monique DeSpain has held a press conference to ask what Congresswoman Val Hoyle is hiding from the public in the La Mota Scandal and to request that U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon Natalie K. Wight expand the current investigation by her office into La Mota and the resigned ex-Secretary of State Shemia Fagan be expanded to include Hoyle.

“Today, I unveiled a detailed reporting of Val Hoyle’s corruption and my call to the US Attorney for the District of Oregon to investigate her immediately,” said Monique DeSpain. “I contend that Congresswoman Val Hoyle has disqualified herself from further public service in Congress as our representative because she has demonstrated a pattern of corruption, obstruction, and deceit for at least the past three years.”

“Citizens of the 4th congressional district, including myself, are greatly concerned about the numerous news reports indicating connections between Congresswoman Val Hoyle, La Mota, and Shemia Fagan, the subject of a current investigation,” DeSpain added. “It is obvious La Mota’s corrupt tentacles extend far beyond former Secretary of State Shemia Fagan. No one should be above the law -- any and all illegality involving La Mota and ENDVR must be rooted out before Oregonians’ trust in their government can be restored.”

“To this end, I have sent a letter to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon, Natalie K. Wight, to urge her to expand the scope of USDOJ’s investigation into Fagan and La Mota or launch an independent investigation on similar grounds into Congresswoman Hoyle and her role in the award of a taxpayer grant to the La Mota-linked non-profit named ENDVR.”

Wight was appointed by President Biden in June 2022 and confirmed by the Senate a few months later.

“There have been countless news articles over the past year and a half covering Congresswoman Val Hoyle’s deceit, corruption, and blatant stonewalling, but now voters can go to WhatsValHiding.com to view a comprehensive timeline of her corruption and sign a petition calling for the US Department of Justice to formally investigate her role in the scandal.”



Monique DeSpain is a retired U.S. Air Force Colonel, mother of twin boys, and public policy advocate who resides in Eugene, Oregon. She is a candidate for the Republican nomination for Oregon’s 4th Congressional District in a bid to unseat incumbent Congresswoman Val Hoyle in 2024

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2024-01-25 10:01:00Last Update: 2024-01-25 18:57:03

Hwang is calling Republican voters in Oregon to action

In an announcement which some observers say may be in violation of the current understanding of the Oregon Republican Party (ORP) bylaws, the Chairman of the state party, Justin Hwang has formally given his endorsement of Donald J. Trump for President of the United States in the upcoming November 2024 Election.

"As the Chairman of the Oregon Republican Party, I am prevented by our bylaws from endorsing a candidate in any contested Republican race until after the primary. While I acknowledge and respect the authority of those bylaws, I also firmly believe in the fundamental American right to individual free speech. Therefore, I, Justin Hwang, as an Oregonian and small business owner, am today exercising my First Amendment right to freely express my personal unwavering and enthusiastic support for former President Donald J. Trump in his bid for reelection."

Hwang explained further, "In close consultation with the Oregon Republican Party’s dedicated legal team, as well as the Central and Executive Committees, I plan to explore revisions to our bylaws that will respect and protect the principle of free speech for every member of our organization."



"This endorsement is not just a formality—it is a call to action," said Hwang. "I invite and encourage all Republicans, all conservatives, and all like-minded citizens who are concerned about the deterioration of our country under the current administration, to join me in this endorsement.

Hwang concluded, "Together, let’s support a leader who shares our values and vision of what America can be. We need a leader who will lead us toward a future of peace, prosperity, and security for this great nation. Let’s stand together, united in our effort to see Donald J. Trump triumphantly return to the presidency of these United States."

Oregon will hold it's primary election on May 21st. Technically, Trump is yet to be officially determined as the party nominee, although he still seems have a commanding lead over Nikki Haley, his only remaining GOP opponent.

--Ben Fisher

Post Date: 2024-01-25 09:53:18Last Update: 2024-01-25 18:57:23

Proposal doesn’t solve Oregon’s drug addiction crisis

In Tuesday’s Joint Committee on Addiction and Community Safety Response, Democrats unveiled their plan to address Measure 110. Republicans have also proposed several key pieces of legislation.

“Above all, I am saddened by the Democrats’ lack of interest to do what is necessary to end the drug addiction crisis, which is killing people young and old every single day. They are instead choosing to listen to special interest activists and pursue an omnibus bill reduced to window dressing,” said Senate Republican Leader Tim Knopp (R-Bend). “While Democrats kick the can down the road, we will continue to put forward bold solutions that will stop the drug crisis in its tracks.”

“The proposal we saw today is one chalked full of farcical fixes which will work about as well as the drug treatment hotline. Measure 110 has proven that voluntary addiction treatment does not work and keeps people chronically addicted. Oregonians overwhelmingly agree that we must scrap this naïve approach, but the Democrats’ proposal keeps the status quo in place,” said Representative Christine Goodwin (R-Canyonville). “Oregonians deserve better than this weak proposal. It will do almost nothing to save lives, clean up our streets, and restore safety to our communities.”

“Oregonians have made it abundantly clear: we must reestablish hard drug use as a class A misdemeanor so that rehabilitation treatment can be required. The current system does not include such power and a low-level class C misdemeanor only provides 30 days in jail as an alternative. This is nowhere near the amount of time needed to address addiction,” said Representative Kevin Mannix (R-Keizer). “Our current system is not compassionate. People are hurting. The Legislature has a responsibility to step up and meet this challenge.”



“Clearly Democrats in the legislature haven’t walked the streets to see the crisis Measure 110 has caused," said House Republican Leader Jeff Helfrich. “The Republican bill restores accountability, ushers addicts into treatment, and makes our streets clean and safe again – none of which will be achieved with the majority’s proposal. While people suffer, the majority party ignores Oregonians’ calls for bipartisan action, choosing instead to pander to radical special interests with a bill that solves nothing. Oregonians have demanded real solutions, and that is what House Republicans will continue to strive for.”

Candidate for Oregon Attorney General and former prosecutor, Will Lathrop, rebuked politicians in Salem for failing to propose a real solution to Oregon’s failed Measure 110 and instead hiding behind House Bill 4002, a half-hearted proposal.

“Unfortunately, Salem politicians have failed to listen to law enforcement, local governments, and Oregonians across our state who are demanding meaningful solutions to Oregon’s failed Measure 110. Instead, these same politicians have opted to hide behind their political ideologies with an inadequate bill that fails to respond to the historical crisis on our streets,” said Will Lathrop.

“What was hailed as revolutionary change, is now known to be an unmitigated disaster shrouding Oregon in a state of crisis. Despite calls from our law enforcement community, treatment experts, and local jurisdictions to replace Measure 110 with real accountability measures that get people into treatment and traffickers off the street, HB 4002 is a half-measure designed to provide cover to a political class determined to continue the status quo,” added Lathrop

With less than two weeks before the 2024 Legislative Session convenes, AG candidate Will Lathrop offered Oregonians some words of encouragement while challenging legislators to return to the drawing board.

“It’s not too late for legislators in Salem to reject band-aid fixes and work with law enforcement and addiction service providers to deliver lasting solutions. Oregonians are relying on our elected politicians to act with urgency to shift the tide of crime and addiction in our communities and give Oregonians real hope for change,” concluded Lathrop.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2024-01-23 15:31:59Last Update: 2024-01-23 16:38:51

OHCS now tasked with administering millions to homeless

As the COVID-19 pandemic turned into a lockdown of businesses and schools by Governor Kate Brown, thousands of Oregonians were threatened with eviction. As their income diminished, they struggled to pay rent in an economy that had stalled. In December 2021 the Legislative Housing Committee requested an audit of the Emergency Rental Assistance Program (Oregon ERA).

Oregon ERA was created to provide federal funding to help keep Oregonians in their homes. Oregon’s housing agency, Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS), was charged with administering the program under enormous pressure to get millions of dollars out the door as quickly as possible.

OHCS was able to distribute $426 million in emergency rental assistance as of June 2023. But according to the Oregon Audits Division audit, the framework under which this occurred came with substantial risk. A year into the pandemic in 2020, OHCS agrees with auditors that, like many other government and non-governmental organizations, the agency was unprepared for the magnitude and scale of multiple emergencies. Oregon ERA suffered from the rushed implementation of new software and a fragmented customer service system resulting in application processing delays and communications challenges that frustrated consumers and local partners.

Oregon Secretary of State LaVonne Griffin-Valade said in a statement, “The urgency with which OHCS acted to distribute rental assistance during a global crisis is laudable. As auditors, it’s our job to ensure state agencies properly account for how they spend public money. I encourage OHCS to work speedily to implement the recommendations in this report in preparation for future emergencies.”

According to the audit, "While the urgency brought by this situation was understandable, it’s still critically important agencies implement adequate financial controls to ensure funds are distributed to the people who should be receiving them. Money that is spent out of compliance with federal guidelines runs the risk of being clawed back by the federal government. Fraud was a major risk for Oregon ERA." According to multiple community action agencies, they denied approximately $37 million requested through 1,813 potentially fraudulent applications.

OHCS employed limited oversight of the funds and, in its haste, skipped critical controls, including over financial accounting and contract administration. These same control weaknesses were highlighted by financial auditors in the Statewide Single Audit released earlier this year. In fact, the severity and pervasive aspect of the control weaknesses led financial auditors to issue an adverse opinion for the program — the first from the division in more than 25 years.

While the urgency brought by this situation was understandable, it’s still critically important agencies implement adequate financial controls to ensure funds are distributed to the people who should be receiving them. Money that is spent out of compliance with federal guidelines runs the risk of being clawed back by the federal government. Fraud was a major risk for Oregon ERA; according to multiple community action agencies, they denied approximately $37 million requested through 1,813 potentially fraudulent applications.

“There is no doubt OHCS, like all of Oregon government, was working under unprecedented emergency conditions during the pandemic,” said Audits Director Kip Memmott. “As auditors, it’s our job to ensure public monies are being spent in accordance with program guidelines and properly accounted for. It’s extremely concerning that OHCS is unable to verify whether millions of dollars went to the Oregonians who needed and deserved this money the most.”



Auditors have multiple recommendations for OHCS, among them: Oregon ERA ended on June 2023. However, the lessons learned from this program are still applicable. OHCS has now been tasked with administering millions of dollars to address Oregon’s ongoing homelessness crisis, a major priority for Governor Tina Kotek. This can be troublesome since OHCS disagrees with the audit on the after-action process including systems oversight of benefit measurement, and they lacked reporting to ensure systems are functioning as expected.

Other recommendations were only partially agreed to being correct. OHCS must implement audit recommendations and apply lessons learned, if Oregonians can be reassured OHCS can successfully and properly accounted for the Governor’s homeless program.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-01-19 13:19:01Last Update: 2024-01-19 15:22:40

State of Emergency will support access to federal resources for response

Governor Tina Kotek declared a statewide emergency due to the severe ice storm that impacted counties across the state. This declaration comes following an assessment of needs and subsequent requests from multiple counties as they enter the 6th day of severe impacts as a result of the storm. The declaration will support counties to respond and recover from damages as a result of the storm.

“Thousands of people across the state have been impacted by the storm, including power outages, lack of transportation, and an array of safety concerns that come with severe weather,” Governor Kotek said. “The state has been working with counties as they assess needs, including critical federal resources that can be unlocked by a statewide emergency. I declared a state of emergency in Lane County on Tuesday, and now we are heeding the call from additional counties to escalate.”

Emergency response starts at the local level. As resources are exhausted, cities and counties turn to the state for additional support. Not all resources, such as those the state has been providing since the start of the storm, require a state emergency declaration. The Oregon Department of Emergency Management and the Governor’s Office have been in frequent communication with impacted counties as they continuously assess their needs, anticipate emerging issues, problem-solve, and seek to fill gaps.



State emergency declarations are a critical tool that support counties getting access to federal resources they may be entitled to through the Federal Emergency Management Agency as well as other resources. Assets include, but are not limited to, federal infrastructure support for highways, telecommunications, and power system recovery, which responders can access more easily with a statewide emergency declaration.

Currently, Multnomah County, Lincoln County, Washington County, Hood River County, and the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians have declared a local state of emergency and have been receiving support from the state, including from OEM, the Oregon Department of Human Services, the Oregon Health Authority and the Oregon Department of Transportation.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2024-01-19 10:07:15Last Update: 2024-01-19 10:40:35

Now is a good time to check your voter registration information

In keeping with past practice, Oregon Secretary of State LaVonne Griffin-Valade released a preliminary list of candidates to appear on the 2024 Democratic and Republican Primary ballots for Oregon’s May Primary election. Most notably, the Republican primary ballot is projected to have former President Donald Trump.

“The 2024 Primary Election is just four months away,” said Secretary Griffin-Valade. “I want to remind Oregonians to check their voter registration information at Oregonvotes.gov. If you’ve moved, changed your name, or just want to make sure you’re registered, you can check your info in just a few minutes at Oregonvotes.gov.”

The preliminary lists for the 2024 Democratic and Republican Primary ballots are as follows, in alphabetical order:

Democratic Candidates: Republican Candidates: ORS 249.078 (1)(a) states that a Secretary of State may place the name of a candidate on a major party Presidential primary ballot if the Secretary, in their “sole discretion, has determined that the candidate’s candidacy is generally advocated or is recognized in national news media.”

To decide if candidates meet the statutory criteria, the Secretary is relying on national polls and including all candidates who have the support of a minimum of 1% of party voters. Candidates may also access the ballot by nominating petition as provided in ORS 249.078 (1)(b). The deadline to submit already verified signatures of nominating petition is March 14, 2024.



The Secretary intends to review the list of candidates using then-current data and issue a final list after Oregon’s candidate filing deadline has passed and before providing the list to county clerks for inclusion on the primary ballot. Names will be removed from the list if a candidate suspends their campaign or otherwise publicly announces that they are no longer running for President in the 2024 election. Other changes to the list will be made at the direction of the courts, if necessary.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2024-01-18 16:02:13Last Update: 2024-01-19 10:44:54

Bill aims to address housing shortage that is driving up cost of living

Oregon Governor Tina Kotek has pulled back on her budget priorities for the 2024 legislative short session, or has she? She is introducing only one bill, but expressed that her bill, SB 1537 is separate from the Housing Production Advisory Council (HPAC) recommendations, which Governor Kotek created through Executive Order 23-04 last year to develop long-term strategies for ramping up home construction across Oregon, and is expected to request more of the Governor’s wish list.

Governor Kotek’s bill, Senate Bill 1537 (Legislative Concept 19), proposes housing production with $500 million funding pared down from $600 million she proposed in December for housing and homelessness. That list included another $247.2 million for things like shelters, rent assistance, addiction treatment, child care, overtime for ODOT during the winter, and property tax for state buildings in Salem. Those items aren't off the table, just not in the Governor's bill.

The Governor is focusing on housing in SB 1537. Key provisions include: “Decades of underbuilding have left Oregon with a severe housing shortage that is driving up rents, home prices, and worsening our homelessness crisis,” Governor Kotek said. “People that are ready to transition out of homelessness struggle to find housing. Meanwhile, employers – both public and private – in Oregon struggle to hire due to a lack of workforce housing for rent or purchase, harming local economies across the state. That’s why SB 1537 is my top priority in the short session, and I look forward to working with legislators to make progress this year.”

Bills, including SB 1537 (LC 19), will be publicly posted on the Oregon legislative website before the session starts February 5.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-01-17 20:04:45Last Update: 2024-01-17 22:14:37

The incumbent Democrat is seen by many as tainted by pot money

Oregon Fourth Congressional District Candidate Monique DeSpain announced the first fundraising results of her campaign from the fourth quarter of 2023- raising over $100,000 in just 45 days.

“I am excited to announce that we have raised over $100,000 in the first 45 days of our campaign, I am humbled by the outpouring of support we have seen from Oregonians right out of the gate,” said Monique DeSpain. “We are building strong momentum and support in the early days of our campaign to bring bold new leadership to Washington, D.C.”

“I entered this race because I see a need that I can meet. Countless Oregonians have told me they want more from their government. Oregonians are looking for a bold leader who will fight for public safety, a secure border, lower inflation, and a transparent, accountable government. It is very humbling and inspiring to hear the confidence voters have in me and to receive so many expressions of gratitude from donors all across Oregon,” DeSpain added. “Our fundraising results are just another reflection of the early momentum we have built to give voters a real choice in this election.”

The incumbent, Val Hoyle (D-Eugene) has come under fire for accepting money from La Mota, and diverting government money to a non-profit named ENDVR. Many analysts are projecting that DeSpain's fundraising coupled with Hoyle's ethical troubles is making Oregon's 4th Congressional District more competitive.

Oregon's 4th Congressional district contains the counties of Lincoln, Benton, Lane, Coos, Curry and parts of Douglas. Monique DeSpain is a retired U.S. Air Force Colonel, mother of twin boys, and public policy advocate who resides in Eugene, Oregon.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2024-01-16 15:19:22Last Update: 2024-01-16 18:01:20

“These extreme measures always demand an equally extreme price from our communities”

Editor's note: State Representative Jami Cate (R-Lebanon) represents Oregon House District 11.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recently proposed plans to lethally remove 470,000 barred owls in our West Coast forests to try and help the spotted owl species survive. If the spotted owl sounds familiar, it's probably because this problem was already supposed to have been solved—back in the 1980's.

The spotted owl was the catalyst of environmental activists crippling our logging industry. They leveraged the plight of the spotted owl to result in drastic reductions of our ability to log and proactively manage our forests—all in the name of preserving owl habitat, and thus saving the species. Or so we were led to believe.

But decades later, those devastating measures which have decimated the economies of logging and mill towns throughout the Pacific Northwest, and lead to our current reality of mega-fires scorching our landscape and threatening our communities every summer, has in fact done nothing to “save” the spotted owl. Hence the latest drastic measure being proposed by USFWS.

This trend of drastic measures, guided solely by a unilateral prioritization of one species at the complete dismissal of any other consequences, is one we see far too often as our court system continues to side with extreme activists and fails to adequately consider a comprehensive balance of priorities for our communities. The recent deep drawdowns of Green Peter Dam and Lookout Point Dam are no exception.



Chinook Salmon were leveraged under the Endangered Species Act to result in an injunction forcing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to conduct drawdowns throughout the Willamette River Basin dams. Despite the USACE's grave concerns about the devastating impacts to human health and safety, to communities' economies and clean water supply, and even the survival of numerous other species, the State of Oregon joined those plaintiffs and offered staunch support of the remedies demanded by activists.

As a result, our rivers have turned to mud, thousands of Kokanee are dead, the survival of other fish and aquatic species living in our rivers remain threatened, and communities downstream from our dams are enduring tens of millions in unexpected costs to try and maintain their water supplies. And the long-term damages of flushing decades of sediment down our waterways and drastically decreasing our stored water to bolster summer flows, are yet to be seen.

Yet Governor Kotek is trying to blame this mess on the failure of the USACE to predict such problems, while ignoring her own agencies' critical role in dismissing such concerns and helping making the mess in the first place. The State vowed that these drawdowns would actually result in cleaner water, and promised that “the potential for conflicts have been considered and addressed.” But no mitigation plan for the numerous negative consequences cautioned by the USACE was ever included in the orders.

It is easy to wonder what all these devastatingly high costs will benefit us. And if this latest drawdown strategy turns out to be anything like the over $9 billion in restoration efforts invested in the Columbia River Basin, the answer is likely to be: nothing.

According to a recent study by Oregon State University, though fish populations have increased thanks to fish collection and hatchery efforts, the billions spent on increasing wild Chinook salmon have had no measurable effect. Kind of like the non-existent benefits to the spotted owl populations by crippling our timber industry.

These extreme measures always demand an equally extreme price from our communities, but their promises of immense benefits to a single species never seem to materialize. We need to stop living in the land of good intentions, and start realizing that this broken record of unilateral prioritization of any single species will always result in failure. Oregonians deserve balanced solutions that consider all the priorities necessary for our communities to thrive. The only way to achieve that is take these decisions out of the hands of a select few far-removed individuals, and finally allow our communities to have a seat at the decision-making table.

--State Representative Jami Cate (R-Lebanon)

Post Date: 2024-01-15 16:08:56Last Update: 2024-01-15 16:18:33

“Measure 110 is sucking the life from our communities”

House Republicans today introduced legislation to end the crises of drugs, homelessness, and crime that have been exacerbated by the failed Measure 110.

The bill takes bold action to end Measure 110 as we know it to restore accountability and provide pathways to treatment for addicts so that they can become healthy, productive members of society.

The bill classifies possession of deadly drugs like fentanyl, heroin, and meth as a Class A Misdemeanor, mandates treatment to avoid jail time, bans public use, and requires evaluation and treatment as part of probation for certain drug and property crimes. It requires prison sentences for drug dealers and manufacturers with multiple convictions and increases the penalties for drug dealers who sell drugs that result in the death of a person.

The chief sponsors of the bill are Rep. Rick Lewis (R-Silverton), Republican House Leader Jeff Helfrich (R-Hood River), Rep. Tracy Cramer (R-Gervais), Rep. Kevin Mannix (R-Salem), Rep. Ed Diehl (R-Stayton) and Rep. Christine Goodwin (R-Canyonville).

“The citizens of Oregon understand the failures of Measure 110. We see the results on the streets, in the unacceptable overdose death rate, and in the catastrophic consequences to our communities, to public safety, and to livability,” said Lewis. “Change is needed, and we can’t afford to take small steps that fail to adequately address the problem. We filed the bill today. A great deal of thought has gone into it, and we have the opportunity to do the right thing for Oregon, for public safety, and for the drug addicted. The bill creates accountability, but it also provides the tools and the resources needed to get us on the road to recovery. We cannot wait any longer.”

“While the majority party talks endlessly about drug prevention, their policies opened the floodgates to drug access. Failing to end Measure 110 is to embrace the status quo of death, drugs, and decline. The people of Oregon have seen enough. House Republicans are answering their call for substantial, meaningful reforms to get drugs off the streets, put drug dealers behind bars, and get addicts into treatment. The legislature must deliver this short session by passing our bill,” said Helfrich.

"Enabling people to live on the streets and poison themselves is not compassionate, but that is exactly what Measure 110 is doing," said Cramer. "As a mother, we see hard drugs infiltrating our schools and it's caused overdose deaths among our teenagers to skyrocket to nearly 700% and third in the nation in teen addiction. We cannot settle for the bare minimum. It breaks my heart that Measure 110 is putting so many of our children’s futures at risk.”

“Oregonians are demanding drug addiction treatment and recovery. Our bill delivers on the failed promise of Ballot Measure 110 by incentivizing people to seek treatment and supporting them on the road to recovery. There is dignity in each individual human being. This is the compassionate thing to do for those suffering from drug addiction and for all Oregon communities,” Diehl said.



“This bill reflects the unanimous position of our House Republicans that we need to return to significant accountability for the use of street drugs. This requires official authority to intervene in a serious way so we can assure society that we are pressing forward on a system covering both public safety and the provision of compassionate rehabilitation services to addicted persons,” said Mannix, who serves on the Joint Committee on Addiction and Community Safety.

“Measure 110 is sucking the life from our communities. They’re overrun with drugs, crime, and homelessness. People do not feel safe. Businesses are leaving. People are afraid to do business in our state. We must change direction, and this bill begins to put us on the right track,” said Goodwin, who serves on the Joint Committee on Addiction and Community Safety.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2024-01-11 15:32:55Last Update: 2024-01-11 16:04:17

“Measure 110 is a failure on many fronts”

Oregon House Republican members of the Joint Interim Committee on Addiction and Community Safety Response Rep. Kevin Mannix (R-Salem) and Rep. Christine Goodwin (R-Canyonville) and Republican House Leader Jeff Helfrich (R-Hood River) issued the following statement regarding the recent audit of Measure 110. Measure 110 was passed with the promise that resources would be dedicated to treatment while making substance abuse legal, but the audit revealed structural failures in the way Oregon responded to the increasing waves of those addicted that the Measure created.

“This audit provides us with a roadmap as to how we need to navigate reforms to measure 110. We need to treat this as a serious challenge to the established system and an opportunity to truly fulfill the will of the voters in dealing with addiction. This supports the need to hold people accountable for their use of street drugs. We need to be able to intervene both for reasons of compassion as to the addicted individual but also the safety of our communities,” said Mannix.

“Measure 110 is a failure on many fronts, but today’s hearing confirmed that it directs too few of its resources to prevention and recovery. As a former teacher I was especially shocked to hear from parents who say even those scarce resources never make it to youth users or schools. Children who use drugs are significantly more at risk of lifelong addiction and mental health issues, but the majority party has neglected to invest in preventing addiction or recovery programs. We need to substantively reform Measure 110 from top to bottom to tackle Oregon’s drug addiction crisis,” said Goodwin.

“This audit confirms that Measure 110 is failing the people of Oregon and will continue to do so without significant and fundamental reforms -- like the return of criminal justice accountability and mandatory treatment for those possessing dangerous drugs like fentanyl, heroin, and meth,” said Helfrich. “More of the same from the majority party will yield the same failed results. The people of Oregon have called for change, and the legislature must answer their call in the upcoming short session.”

House Republicans have offered solutions to the failures of Measure 110 that include repealing failed and ineffective aspects of the law and instituting actions widely supported by the people of Oregon, including banning the public use of hard drugs, instituting penalties for those who possess deadly drugs like fentanyl, making treatment mandatory for those arrested on drug-related crimes in order to avoid jail, and directing resources to the county level so local entities can better address areas of acute need.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2024-01-10 20:06:47Last Update: 2024-01-10 20:33:09

HCP places constraints on forest management and research activities

In a letter addressed to the Oregon State Land Board, Oregon State University President Jayathi Y. Murthy shook up the state's plans by not recommending to the University's Board of Trustees that they participate in management of the Elliott State Research Forest.

President Murthy has chosen not to ask the Board of Trustees to authorize OSU participation in management of the forest at this time due to Tribal and other concerns about the current strategy, including the increasing constraints being placed on the forest’s management and research activities that is believed will compromise achieving the mutually agreed goals. Those constraints come in the form of the Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP).

In 2022, the Oregon Legislature passed SB 1546 which established the Elliott State Research Forest consisting of lands formerly constituting the Elliott State Forest and created a new state agency, the Elliott State Research Forest Authority (ESRFA), which would contract with OSU to manage and conduct research on the forest.

The legislature extended the deadline for completion to December 31, 2023. The additional time was to allow for adjustments to the HCP based on public comment and input from the ESRFA Prospective Board and the Services (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service). The extended timeline also allowed for any adjustments to be reflected in the forest management plan and financial plans.

The Oregon Department of Forestry (ODF) seems to be at odds with ESRFA with their mission to lock up over 250,000 acres of public state forest lands, preventing harvesting and active forest management on about 40% of Oregon's state forests. ODF wants HCP as the desired strategy to meet the requirements of the Federal Endangered Species Act (ESA).

The ODF believes that the HCP will increase the populations of certain species listed under the ESA, such as the Northern spotted owl, marbled murrelet, and the Oregon Coast and Lower Columbia River coho. ODF hopes that the HCP will achieve ESA compliance over the next 70 years. However, the spotted owl population in the Northwest has declined in every forest service study area including protected areas. The primary reason is that the critical habitat for this bird is also the desired habitat for its apex predator, the barred owl. No HCP restrictions on timber harvesting will correct this imbalance.

Representative Ed Diehl sees the reduced harvest as fiscally irresponsible and endangers rural counties that rely on the funding. He says, "the HCP is doubling down on failed forest policies of the last 30 years. Two guiding goals of our current forest policy are increasing spotted owl populations and reducing global carbon emissions. The theory is that we can achieve these goals by increasing forest habitat and curtailing timber harvesting, the two guiding policies that continue with the HCP. The evidence shows that these goals have not, and will not, be achieved with these policies. And what is indisputable is that these policies have devastated the communities that live, work, hunt, and recreate in these forests. I’ve seen it first-hand in my district; the loss of jobs, the loss of revenue to these once-thriving rural communities, and the raging wildfires. These policies have robbed people of their livelihoods and their dignity. These policies have cost the state billions in revenue and turned our forests from an asset into a liability."

The HCP report also highlights, as an added benefit, an increase in carbon storage. The theory is that Oregon can achieve environmental goals by increasing forest habitat and curtailing timber harvesting. However, there is mounting evidence that shows it won’t happen. Carbon storage and/or carbon sequestration is mentioned multiple times in the report, and described as an important environmental outcome. The underlying assumption in the model is that locking up Oregon state forest lands in Harvest Conservation Areas, and stretching out harvest cycles to 90 plus years in other areas, are important strategies for carbon storage. Forestry researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture Pacific Northwest Research Station have consistently found the opposite will occur. Locking up forests ends up emitting more CO2 than sustainable harvests. The science shows that a 45-50 year timber harvest cycle is optimal for carbon storage – you grow a tree through its highest carbon storing years, harvest and ‘sequester’ that carbon in lumber to build homes, and plant another tree to repeat the cycle.



Rep. Diehl says the HCP will continue these failures under false pretenses, reducing annual timber harvests by about 40% of current levels for the next several decades. The heart of the HCP is establishing Habitat Conservation Areas, and as the report highlights, after 30 years, no harvesting inside the Habitat Conservation Areas is assumed in some of the model scenarios.

"Implicit in the HCP model is that this carbon storage policy provides a net global benefit," Diehl states. "The opposite is true, however. Whether Oregon cuts another tree down or not, the United States will continue to utilize wood products to meet growing demand for homes, paper products, and packaging. In fact, the US is a net importer of softwood lumber. And as imports from Canada continue to decline, we are left importing lumber from overseas. What this means is simple: Every tree that Oregon takes out of a sustainable harvest cycle is one more tree that must be processed overseas and transported on a diesel guzzling, carbon spewing freight ship halfway around the world. Or, homes will be built with more steel and concrete, two building products that are extremely carbon intensive. In other words, every tree that Oregon takes out of a harvest cycle is, in fact, increasing the global carbon footprint."

The ESRF was created to serve as a living laboratory for vital research on landscape-scale approaches to sustainable forest management, climate resilience, biodiversity and ecosystem functions, and eco-cultural social benefits over the long-term. The research forest can also provide Oregonians with access to forest education and recreation, as well as jobs in forest products, forestry and forest research. If ODF is set against existing research, what use is ESRF doing more research? Oregon Natural Resource Industries (ONRI), has joined ESRF against HCP and has taken the lead to stop HCP.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-01-10 12:19:43Last Update: 2024-01-10 16:56:11

Columbia River Basin is subject of 10-year partnership

On December 14, 2023, the Biden Administration announced a historic agreement to work in partnership with Pacific Northwest Tribes and States to restore wild salmon populations, expand Tribally sponsored clean energy production, and provide stability for communities that depend on the Columbia River System.

Building on President Biden’s direction to Federal agencies, the agreement, when combined with other funding, will invest $300 million over 10 years to restore native fish and their habitats throughout the Columbia River Basin, with added measures to increase the autonomy of States and Tribes to use these funds. The Administration will also facilitate the build-out of at least one to three gigawatts of Tribally-sponsored renewable energy production, increased flexibility for the hydro-system, and studies of dam services. Of this $300 million, $100 million would be provided to the four Lower River Treaty Tribes, Washington, and Oregon to use for fish restoration projects, and $200 million would be provided for hatchery modernization, upgrades, and maintenance.

“In the agreement signed today, BPA sought to provide our ratepayers operational certainty and reliability while avoiding costly, unpredictable litigation in support of our mission to provide a reliable, affordable power supply to the Pacific Northwest,” said John Hairston, Administrator and CEO of the Bonneville Power Administration. The agreement keeps energy affordable by avoiding potentially significant rate increases from court ordered dam operations. The Bonneville Power Administration estimates that today’s agreement will have an annual average rate impact of 0.7 percent.

The biggest challenge came from environmental plaintiffs and Brenda Mallory, Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. “This agreement charts a new path to restore the river, provide for a clean energy future and the jobs that come with it, and live up to our responsibilities to Tribal Nations.” Federal investments to wild fish restoration over the next decade will enable an unprecedented 10-year break from decades-long litigation against the Federal government’s operation of its dams in the Pacific Northwest.

The agreement was filed in the Federal District Court in Oregon and sets commitments made by the Federal Government and implemented through a Memorandum of Understanding between the United States; the States of Oregon and Washington; the Nez Perce, Umatilla, Warm Springs, and Yakama Tribes; and environmental non-profit organizations.

Implementation of the agreement will diversify and develop affordable, clean, and reliable energy options for the region. Investments under this agreement will help to ensure continued energy reliability and affordability, transportation, recreation, irrigation, and other key services, including in the event that Congress decides to authorize breaching of the four Lower Snake River dams. The four hydroelectric dams on the lower Snake River provide multiple benefits to Idaho and the region including $686 million in jobs, movement of wheat, irrigation and 95% emission-free power generated by BPA. Where is Idaho in this partnership?



Proposals include upgrading rail infrastructure and grain storage, and developing energy output to protect grid and ratepayers along with recreational activities. This agreement honors Tribal treaty rights, honoring and respecting Tribal sovereignty, protecting Tribal homelands, and incorporating Indigenous knowledge and robust Tribal consultation into planning and decision-making.

Oregon Governor Kotek stated, “The Pacific Northwest's iconic salmon and steelhead are essential to our ecological and economic wealth, and a sacred part of tribal ceremonial, spiritual, and subsistence practices since time immemorial. The Columbia River treaty reserved tribes exemplify steadfast leadership in salmon restoration and stewardship, forging a strong partnership with our states in a shared commitment to comanaging this precious natural resource for generations to come. This successful and unprecedented partnership between the six sovereigns and the United States government has established a shared vision and pathway forward for restoration in both the lower and upper Columbia River Basin. Oregon looks forward to continued collaboration on a successful restoration.”

Washington Governor Jay Inslee added, “This agreement between the U.S. government and the Six Sovereigns and NGO plaintiffs is that path forward. It is a durable, comprehensive product of determined leadership by all parties to help secure the long term economic, energy, and salmon recovery needs of our region.”

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-01-05 23:22:17Last Update: 2024-01-06 00:02:18

This ruling limits absolute power and lawlessness

Two years ago, the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) adopted the Climate Protection Program, which creates limits on greenhouse gas emissions from oil and natural gas companies, with a target of 90% reduction by 2050. The program also allows for fossil fuel suppliers to reduce emissions through the program’s Community Climate Investment (CCI) credit program (cap-and-trade). NW Natural must purchase CCIs because the company, which only sells fossil fuel gas, must offset its carbon emissions enough to meet state-required climate goals.

This regulation is putting oil and natural gas companies at a disadvantage to even service their customers fairly, despite plans to convert to renewables using biogas from decomposing organic matter. They argued that DEQ exceeded its authority, and the Oregon Court of Appeals agreed stating DEQ failed to comply, or even substantially comply, with disclosure requirement when adopting rules under the federal Clean Air Act.

The court opinion goes into the authority for the rule: “In 2020, recognizing the danger posed to Oregonians by GHG, then Governor Brown issued Executive Order 20-04, in which she directed EQC and the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) to develop rules establishing a sector specific GHG “cap and reduce program.” Specifically, Governor Brown directed EQC and DEQ to “take actions necessary” to “cap and reduce” GHG emissions from large stationary sources, from transportation fuels, and from all other liquid and gaseous fuels. In accordance with that directive, EQC and DEQ engaged in an extensive and public process to develop the CPP rules. As adopted, the rules aim to, among other things, “reduce greenhouse gas emissions from sources in Oregon.” OAR 340 -271- 0010(3).”

DEQ contends the court decision only applies to an administrative error and does not deny them authority, and are working on the next step with the Department of Justice.

Perhaps the question should go back to 2019 and 2020 when the Oregon House and Senate Republicans used their veto power and walked out to stop the cap-and-trade bill. That didn't stop Governor Kate Brown. Frustrated, she dictated cap and trade as "cap and invest" by Executive Order 20-04 that directed state agencies to draft carbon reduction rules that would achieve the same goals. Since state agency administrators are appointed by the governor to work at her pleasure, the cap and trade program has never returned to the legislature for confirmation, but legislation has built up EO 20-04, boot strapping it in as if it were passed with full public input and support.



This week's ruling that the Oregon DEQ’s Climate Protection Program failed to comply with disclosure requirements during rules adoption, seems to be systematic of the real issue. The program is one of the most radical regulations of energy in the nation. And worldwide, the reality is China and India are going to use more and more coal. China is building more than 50 new coal plants and the Indian Ministry of Coal stated that "the share of coal in India's energy mix is significant to ensure affordable energy availability, accessibility, & energy security."

“Most Oregonians, regardless of party affiliation, believe in the rule of law. I think a state agency rushing to implement a draconian regulatory scheme without following the law is irresponsible and bad governing,” said Senate Republican Leader Tim Knopp (R-Bend). “This week’s ruling highlights the importance of our nation’s system of checks and balances, which limit absolute power of unelected bureaucrats and politicians who abuse their power. I hope the courts continue to hold lawlessness accountable.”

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-01-04 16:51:33Last Update: 2024-01-04 02:03:04

Marc Thielman’s lawsuit rattles Secretary of State

The Rob Taylor Show was cancelled on Coos Bay radio for primarily exposing Representative David Brock Smith. That encouraged him to push his dream forward into his own platform. His first podcast, January 1, he interviewed Marc Thielman, only to find out he is being surveilled by the Secretary of State.

Thielman reported that his lawsuit, Marc Thielman, et al. v. Tina Kotek et al., came to fruition with Representative Ed Diehl’s public records request exposing the Secretary of State in the pursuit of developing spying software to target those they determine are spreading misinformation in elections. The records request confirmed that the Secretary has already spent over $5 million on a test pilot in 2022 that was never turned off. The Secretary continues to receive list of individuals they want investigated for spreading mis- dis- and mal-information. Included on that list he named Rob Taylor and Lars Larson.

Thielman says they used a government slight-of-hand to do the test run to keep it from the public. It was only when they formalized the solicitation for vendors to develop the software that the public became aware of how they want to surveil phones, emails, social media, and any other reporting or sharing of information. This was the first indication that Oregon was setting up the Secretary as our own CISA “Ministry of Truth”.

The contract was awarded to a UK firm, claiming “they use Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) to find and track disinformation threats made by the public.” But Secretary LaVonne Griffin-Valade quickly denied it, and caught her in a lie. Thielman said they have filed an injunction to stop the contract.



Washington State implemented their misinformation program about six months ago and Thielman says people are getting knocks on their doors over things they have posted on social media and voiced on podcasts. Oregon is the only state that has filed a case to fight for free speech.

Thielman thinks that 2024 will be a make-or-break year, and we can look forward to more aggressive government attacks. We have almost no chance of having a unified election. Even if the election is fraud free, we will still have to contend with Antifa and rioting.

Thielman indicated he is putting all his effort into this lawsuit, because of the change in government he has seen and how important it is. He says it hits to the underbelly, and they know their system is unconstitutional, but they don’t care.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-01-04 11:15:33Last Update: 2024-01-05 13:25:25

Read More Articles