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On this day, January 28, 2003, Oregon voters defeated a proposed three-year income tax hike designed to forestall $310 million in cuts to schools and social services.

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School Choice movie "Miss Virginia"
Saturday, January 28, 2023 at 12:00 pm
Free, fun, family-friendly afternoon to watch the movie to learn how it is possible for parents, grandparents and other ordinary folks to stand up for their children and give them the opportunity and financial means for a great education. Live Q&A with Ms. Virginia herself.

When: Jan 28, 2023 Where: Hillsboro, The Hillsboro Cultural Arts Center 527 E Main St, Hillsboro, OR 97123 Time: noon to 3 pm
Free ticket registration

Western Liberty Network Leadership and Activist Training Conference
Saturday, February 4, 2023 at 9:00 am
The year's premiere grassroots activist and leadership conference! Get what you need to be successful in 2023!
Portland Airport Embassy Suites Hotel 7900 NE 82nd Avenue

The Oregon Constitution
Wednesday, February 22, 2023 at 7:00 pm
First of a three part series presented by former State Representative Mike Nearman studying the Oregon Constitution.
The River Church 4675 Portland Rd NE Salem

The Oregon Constitution
Wednesday, March 1, 2023 at 7:00 pm
Second of a three part series presented by former State Representative Mike Nearman studying the Oregon Constitution.
The River Church 4675 Portland Rd NE Salem

The Oregon Constitution
Wednesday, March 8, 2023 at 7:00 pm
Third of a three part series presented by former State Representative Mike Nearman studying the Oregon Constitution.
The River Church 4675 Portland Rd NE Salem

We Are Stronger Together
Monday, March 27, 2023 at 10:00 am
Oregon's Natural Resources & Industries (ONRI) is sponsoring the rally to meet legislators and influencers to bring light on legislation affecting natural resource industries, their families, and their communities. https://onri.us/events
Rally at the State Capitol, Salem.

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Democrat Leaders in Western States Plead for Federal Funds
The amount requested is staggering

The governors and several legislative leaders from several western states have written a lettter to federal congressional leaders "respectfully, and urgently, requesting $1 trillion in direct and flexible relief to states and local governments."

These numbers are huge, and it's not clear to some observers if they are intended to be taken literally, nor what is the proposed source of funds. The federal debt is currently over $25 trillion. Critics are quick to point out that the damage done to the economy has not been done so much by the virus as by the government response to the virus.

One trillion dollars dwarfs the annual budgets of these states. Even the largest state in the union, the State of California, for instance, spent a total of $265,894,000 (over $265 million or about just a little over a quarter of a trillion dollars) in 2016, the latest year for which statistics are posted.

Addressed to Speaker Pelosi, Leader McConnell, Leader McCarthy, and Leader Schumer, the letter goes on to say, "Even states that began the year in a strong fiscal position are facing staggering deficits amid growing costs of responding to the crisis. With unemployment projected to surpass that of the Great Recession, we are facing unprecedented and ongoing economic challenges." With several governors under pressure to re-open the economy in their respective states, it would seem that this kind of recognition of the financial impact would make that decision easier.

Interestingly, with individuals and businesses being hardest hit by the government-induced COVID-19 recession, the relief is requested for the support of government programs, claiming that "our states will be forced to make deep cuts to programs that help those same individuals without similar relief efforts for state and local governments." There is no plea for direct aid to individuals and businesses.

With the sole exception of the California State Assembly Minority Leader, all of the signers are Democrats. The signers include:

Gavin Newsom (D), Governor of California
Toni Atkins (D), President Pro Tempore of the California State Senate
Anthony Rendon (D), Speaker of the California State Assembly
Marie Waldron (R), Minority Leader of the California State Assembly
Jared Polis (D), Governor of Colorado
Leroy Garcia (D), President of the Colorado State Senate
Steve Fenberg (D), Majority Leader of the Colorado State Senate
KC Becker (D), Speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives
Alec Garnett (D), Majority Leader of the Colorado House of Representatives
Kate Brown (D), Governor of Oregon
Tina Kotek (D) Speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives
Peter Courtney (D), President of the Oregon Senate
Steve Sisolak (D), Governor of Nevada
Nicole Cannizzaro (D), Majority Leader of the Nevada Senate
Jay Inslee (D), Governor of Washington
Andy Billig (D), Majority Leader of the Washington State Senate
Laurie Jinkins (D), Speaker of the Washington House of Representative
Jason Frierson (D), Speaker of the Nevada State Assembly

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2020-05-11 18:08:48Last Update: 2020-05-11 18:11:18

Rep. Diego Hernandez Refuses Calls to Resign Amid Sexual Harassment Scandal
He will be staying, despite calls for him to step down.

Oregon State Representative Diego Hernandez (D-Portland) stands accused of sexual harassment by seven different women.

The allegations range from physical and verbal sexual harassment to creating a hostile work environment.

The situation escalated this week when the Interim House Conduct Committee implemented safety measures against Hernandez. The measures include no-contact orders for all of Hernandez’s accusers, as well as requiring him to give at least 24 hours notice before coming to the Capitol.

Since that decision, many prominent Democrats have called for Rep. Hernandez to step down.

Fellow Portland Democrat, House Speaker Tina Kotek, was one of the first to call for his resignation.

"I am deeply concerned that members of the broader Capitol community feel unsafe or subject to retaliation by Rep. Hernandez. I want those individuals to know they did the right thing by coming forward, and I am grateful to the House Conduct Committee for taking swift action to impose the measures they deemed necessary to address immediate safety concerns," Kotek said in a statement.

"The House Conduct Committee’s action today is a very serious development. I believe Rep. Hernandez should resign from the Legislature and focus completely on getting the support he needs."

Some responses to these allegations were a bit harsher.

One critic on social media said “(Rep. Hernandez is) one of the most useless legislators of all time. When he opens his mouth in committee, its guaranteed to be one thing, and one thing only: pure race baiting. Everything we hear from him outside of committee, is some sort of sexual deviance targeted at capitol staff or the females in the lobby. He has no business in elected office.”

This is not the first time Hernandez has been under investigation, in fact, far from it.

In his first term as a legislator after being elected in 2016, Hernandez was accused of maintaining a list of female lobbyists- ranking them based on their physical appearance.

More seriously, and more recently, Hernandez was accused of domestic violence by David Douglas School Board member and then roommate Andrea Valderrama.

In a March 3 filing with Multnomah County Circuit Court, Valderrama alleged that Hernandez was heavily intoxicated when he engaged in threatening and violent behavior towards her.

The filing states "he usually mixes alcohol, narcotic pills, and marijuana. This use leads to violent outbursts and unpredictability."

Valderrama recounts that the two had gone dancing before the June 21st incident. “He took pill and drank three very strong drinks”. The filing describes that when Hernandez discovered Valderrama dancing with other people, he became angry and after leaving yelled at her for hours.

The filing goes on to say, "this behavior escalated to physical violence when he threw his phone at me… he also threw another object at me that was on the table."

A text-message apology from Hernandez to Valderrama is included in the filing. “I’m sorry. I promise I wont mix alcohol and drugs like that again,” one of the text messages read.

Hernandez has repeatedly denied all the allegations that have been raised against him.

In 2017 Hernandez issued a statement where he denied keeping a list of female lobbyists ranked by their appearance. "I strongly believe that I was targeted not only because of the color of my skin, but also because of the issues I fight for," he stated.

In response to the domestic violence allegations Hernandez told reporters, "It’s important for me to say unequivocally that I refute the characterizations that are in the petition, both of my actions and my personality."

Valderrama has since agreed to a dismissal of her filing after what she described as intimidation tactics from Hernandez and citing concerns for the personal safety of her and her daughter.

Finally, in response to the most recent allegations made by seven different women, Hernandez stated that he does not know the extent of what he is accused of or who he is accused by.

“I have no idea what the concerns raised are or by whom," he stated. “I do know that there has been an organized campaign against me recently to get me out of the office I was duly elected to".

"Regardless of the personal pain that this organized campaign, designed to force me out of office has caused: I will continue to use this process and my life to fight for justice and will do so not just for me but all Oregonians including my faceless accusers and the powerful enemies I unfortunately seem to have made for myself".

Hernandez will appear unopposed on the May ballot and remains a member of theReynolds School Board.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2020-05-08 16:06:14Last Update: 2020-05-11 16:07:30

Douglas County Republican Headquarters Vandalized
The attack appears to be politically motivated.

Sometime between the evening of Tuesday, May 5th, and the early morning hours on Wednesday, May 6th, the Douglas County Republican Party Headquarters were vandalized. In addition to cracking or shattering five of the headquarters' windows and damaging equipment inside the office, the vandals spray-painted the message "Kill Trump", which, the party says, could be a violation of federal law. Law enforcement, including the U.S. Secret Service, is on the case.

This is the fourth time in six months that this office has been vandalized and, this time, repairs are estimated to total approximately $5,000. The party is hopeful that the state is beginning to open up again soon and feel it is important to be available to voters who want to learn more about the Republicans and candidates in Douglas County, as well at the state and national levels.

The Douglas County Republican Party is asking for help in covering the cost of repairing the damage that has been done.

If should you have any questions about what happened or any other questions about the county party, the important issues this election, and our candidates, you can call (541) 673-5057.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2020-05-07 15:32:40Last Update: 2020-05-11 15:32:56

Marion County Issues Plan to Reopen
Many people in Marion County are suffering right now

During its regular weekly board session on Wednesday, May 6, 2020, the Marion County Board of Commissioners adopted a resolution for beginning to reopen businesses, restaurants, churches, and county parks. Phase 1 of the community roadmap for reopening will begin on May 15. According to Commission Chair Colm Willis, "Many people in Marion County are suffering right now. This plan ensures first and foremost, the safety of the people of Marion County and fairness for our families and small businesses"

Working closely with our county Health and Human Services experts, local leaders, and regional public health partners, the roadmap is based on the Governor’s guidelines for reopening counties across the state. Commissioner Willis adds, "In our case, the roadmap is tailored to fit the specific needs of our communities. We have worked hard with state and regional partners to prepare a thoughtful, balanced approach to supporting a safe, strong, and thriving Marion County."

In Phase 1, the roadmap proposes reopening several types of businesses and services, keeping in place sanitation protocols and specific limits on physical distancing, face coverings, and crowd size until public health monitoring shows it is safe to move to later phases. Hospital visits will remain prohibited at this time, as will night clubs and most large venues.

Monitoring community health and safety is very important as the limited, phased reopening gets underway. Marion County Public Health Director Katrina Rothenberger is leading efforts to protect public health during the COVID-19 pandemic and observes that, "Local hospitals have ample capacity today and much more so than a few weeks ago when the virus first arrived in Oregon." She goes on to add, "As businesses and other sectors begin to reopen, we will closely track new cases of the virus and will take immediate action if we see an unacceptable increase in new cases and hospitalizations." Meanwhile, the roadmap has very specific details about what types of preventive measures are required for each type of business, venue, and activity.

Marion County is committed to working with the Governor's office, local healthcare providers, and other community partners to update and refine the roadmap as needed.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2020-05-07 09:51:19Last Update: 2020-05-11 09:51:29

Opinion: Do the Math
If you’re locked up at home and can’t fight COVID-19, at least you can spend some time doing math.

Everyone is caught up with all the stress of dealing with the health and economic fallout of the COVID-19 outbreak. Perhaps it’s too early to start number crunching and doing some objective analysis. But if the state isn’t going to let me go to work, I’ll play the "idle hands" card and start the conversation.

Let me first say, it’s an awful disease. I can’t imagine the horror of suffering or dying from any respiratory disease. My heart goes out to those who have died and those who have lost loved ones.

Likewise, it’s an awful thing the government has done to the economy. May we all survive both.

It’s axiomatic to say this will be devastating to Oregon’s economy. How devastating is not yet known, but’s not inconceivable the impact might cause the state gross domestic product to take a hit in the range of 30 to 50 percent. In a state that is highly — perhaps disproportionately ­ dependent on income tax, such an economic hit will almost certainly impact government at the same rate.

So, at a time when revenues are certainly, reasonably expected to plummet, it’s fair to ask what steps the state is preparing to take to limit expenditures.

One of the industries that is arguably the most impacted, if not the most visible, is the restaurant and bar industry. This industry is host to much of the lottery activity in Oregon, so I would think it would be reasonable for the Oregon Lottery to quickly cut staff.

I asked them about their plans and received this response on April 28:

"Executive team staff are currently working to identify furloughs, layoffs and salary reductions in their areas. We’re looking for the right balance between fiscal responsibility and maintenance of critical work. Those plans should be finalized later this week, and communicated to staff shortly after that. We know the situation is constantly evolving, so our plans may need to adjust as new information becomes available."

In other words, we’re starting to start to think about possible reductions.

Meanwhile, the state is hiring. The Employment Department has "doubled the number of staff dedicated to taking claims and is in the process of tripling it." Maybe they could just hire some of the people who are calling their overwhelmed phone banks. Or is that too simple?

"Thank you for continuing to hold. The operator may offer you a position in the Employment Department, which will invalidate the claim for which you’re holding. To continue to hold, press 1."

There’s more hiring elsewhere in state government. In a May 1 press release, Gov. Brown announced her "contact-tracing plan sets a goal of training at least 600 contact tracers" (Emphasis mine). These contact tracers are not just your garden-variety, off-the-shelf contact tracers, either. The plan has "a focus on recruiting individuals with cultural and linguistic competence for the populations they serve," which certainly increases their price.

The headline for this post promised some math, which means I’m not going to get out of this article without doing some, so here goes. The Legislative Fiscal Office uses the figure of $250,000 per biennium as an estimate for the cost of hiring a new employee. That includes salary, benefits, overhead, a computer, a cubicle, a boss, etc., so if you divide the biennial cost by two, that means $125,000 per year.

Multiply that times 600 workers and you get a cool $75 million. That doesn’t even count the new Employment Department hires.

Just so you know, 1.75 percent of that $75 million or — even more math — over $1.3 million goes to union dues, just in time for the November elections.

Maybe we can just use the guys from the Oregon Lottery as contact tracers.

--Mike Nearman

Post Date: 2020-05-05 18:32:23Last Update: 2020-05-05 18:32:43

Meme of the Week
This time we meme it.

--Northwest Observer Meme Team

Post Date: 2020-05-05 16:53:26Last Update: 2020-08-08 12:32:58

Governor Brown Begins Opening Up Recreation
Get your fishing pole and your hiking boots! Bring your own toilet paper, though.

Oregon Governor Kate Brown today announced the limited opening of some state parks, outdoor recreation facilities, and areas across Oregon for day use effective today, May 5.

With a note of caution, Governor Brown said, "As we begin to slowly open up recreation sites, state parks, and ski areas, it is critical we ensure the health and safety of staff, volunteers, and the public. And that begins with each of us taking personal responsibility to be good stewards of our parks, and each other."

Reopening outdoor recreation areas will be a phased approach as it becomes safe for some communities and recreational providers to do so, and will change the way that Oregonians visit some familiar sites. Columbia River Gorge parks and recreation areas, as well as coastal areas that are not yet ready to welcome visitors back, will remain closed for now, while the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department coordinates with local jurisdictions and partners in Washington to determine the appropriate timing for reopening.

Guidelines for responsible outdoor recreation include: Governor Brown has been under intense pressure for her heavy-handed, continual closure of the state, despite signs that the epidemic is on the wane.

Critics have also pointed out that, while there is a shortage of residential style toilet paper, due to people spending more time at home, there is a surplus of the industrial style of toilet paper -- of the kind found on larger rolls used by the industrial dispensers -- typically found at public institutions like parks.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2020-05-05 16:41:37Last Update: 2020-05-06 06:42:35

Brown Issues Specific Criteria
A response to pressure to reopen the state.

In what some observers see as a response to the mounting pressure from Oregonians to open the state, Oregon Governor Kate Brown issued some very specific "prerequisites" for "enter[ing] phase one of Reopening Oregon."

The document, released to Oregon counties, outlines seven prerequisites must be met before a county or region can enter phase one of Reopening Oregon. These prerequisites include:
  1. Declining prevalence of COVID-19
  2. Minimum Testing Regimen, including being able to administer COVID-19 testing at a rate of 30 per 10,000 people per week.
  3. Contact Tracing System, including a minimum of 15 contact tracers for every 100,000 people and the county must be prepared to contact trace 95% of all new cases within 24 hours.
  4. Isolation Facilities including hotel rooms available for people who test positive for COVID-19 and who cannot self-isolate.
  5. Finalized Statewide Sector Guidelines.
  6. Sufficient Health Care Capacity which means that the region must be able to accommodate a 20% increase in suspected or confirmed COVID-19 hospitalizations compared to the number of suspected or confirmed COVID19 hospitalizations in the region at the time Executive Order No. 20-22 was issued.
  7. Sufficient PPE Supply.

Health Regions are defined as such:

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2020-05-03 16:42:18Last Update: 2020-05-03 16:43:46

Meme of the Week
You need to yuk it up every now and then.

--Northwest Observer Comedy Staff

Post Date: 2020-05-02 18:51:42Last Update: 2020-08-08 12:30:40

Defiant Protestors Fill Capitol Steps
Oregon Governor Kate Brown begins to lose the "consent of the governed"

Well over one thousand protesters filled the steps and streets at the Oregon Capitol in Salem yesterday as people cried out for re-opening the state. One protester said, "We can't go on like this. I know lives are at stake, but if we continue to stay shut down, lives will be at stake from a different cause." Very few protesters were observed wearing masks.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2020-05-02 17:11:09Last Update: 2020-05-03 17:11:30

Northwest Observer Serial Collections
Go get a fresh cup of coffee and start clicking

The Northwest Observer is committed to bringing you in-depth news about what is really going on around you, not just the if-it-bleeds-it-leads click bait. If you have a tip or a suggestion for a series, please contact us at editor@northwestobserver.com. We're proud of the work that we've done.

The 2022 Oregon Legislative Budget Items A multi-part series on the Budget bill passed during the 2022 Oregon Legislative Session (March 2022)

Tina Kotek, 2022 A multi-part series on Oregon House Speaker Tina Kotek, her past and her future – as well as where her political ambitions might take her (August 2021)

Direct Democracy in Oregon A multi-part series on the history and process of the initiative and referendum process in Oregon.(August 2021)

Measure 11 A multi-part series on Measure 11 and its impact on crime. This series is adapted from letters written to the legislature by Kevin Mannix, the author of Measure 11.(March 2021)

A Fed Up Oregonian A multi-part series which is a reprint of a letter from a desperate gun owner and her thoughts on the current proposals in the legislature. (February 2021)

2021 Tax Legislation A multi-part series exploring tax measures before the Oregon Legislature during the 2021 session (February 2021)

2020 Ballot Measures A multi-part series exploring all four statewide ballot measures for the November 2020 election (October 2020)

Candidate Comparison A multi-part series based on the work of the Oregon Abigail Adams Voter Education Project (September 2020)

Voter Fraud A multi-part series exploring voter fraud and the Oregon vote-by-mail system. (August 2020)

Tone Deaf A multi-part series recounting how the party in power is thwarting the will of the people. (August 2020)

School Reopening A multi-part series analyzing the latest version of the school re-opening guidelines and the prospects of schools re-opening in the Fall. (July 2020)

The State Budget A multi-part series on the budget for the State of Oregon and where possible efficiencies can be found. (June 2020)

Oregon Administrative Rules and Law A multi-part series on Oregon Administrative Rules and Law. (July 2021)


Post Date: 2020-05-01 00:00:00Last Update: 2022-03-14 11:17:52

Collection of Northwest Observer Articles on Civics
Study up. There will be a test.

The Northwest Observer is committed to civics education. In addition to providing historical and breaking news, we pride ourselves on providing relevant articles on civics. Indeed, civics is the framework needed to properly understand and provide context to the news we provide. You can browse through a chronological presentation of civics articles, or look them up by topic interest, here.

Post Date: 2020-05-01 00:00:00Last Update: 2022-11-16 16:05:58

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