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On this day, December 8, 2005, federal prosecutors announced six arrests of eco-sabotage suspects following a nine-year investigation in four arson cases in Oregon dating to 1998 and 2001 and a toppled power line in Bend, Oregon in 1999.

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Congress Passes $3 Trillion HEROES Act
It will not pass the Senate, and even then faces a presidential veto

The Democrat controlled US House of Representatives passed the HEROES Act today which appropriates about $3 trillion in stimulus and a cornucopia of other sundry payments in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. The YES vote was 208 to 199 NO votes.

Among other things, the bill

The bill also modifies or expands a wide range of other programs and policies, including those regarding

Members of the Oregon Delegation voting YES, were
Blumenauer (D)
Bonamici (D)
DeFazio (D)

Members of the Oregon Delegation voting NO, were
Schrader (D)
Walden (R)

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2020-05-16 14:38:10Last Update: 2020-05-17 14:38:42

Analysis: Governor Brown’s Shutdown Order
How we got here and how we might get out

I am not a legal source nor an attorney in any way, but I’ve been involved in passing laws for the last five years so I do know how to read them and decipher them. As you know, only the people can amend the Oregon Constitution, but the legislature can refer amendments to the people for passage.

In 2011, the Oregon Legislature passed House Joint Resolution 7. This is the summary of Legislative intent:

WHAT THE MEASURE DOES: Proposes amendment of Oregon constitution to provide for government action in event of catastrophic disaster. Grants governor temporary authority to redirect general fund and lottery monies for thirty days following declaration of disaster, unless legislature extends or passes law specifying use of funds. Permits extension of time limit with approval of three-fifths of each chamber able to attend and requires bill establishing termination date. Permits legislative operation in location other than Capitol and with quorum of two-thirds of members able to attend, rather than two-thirds of total members. Permits legislator attendance via electronic means. Restricts governor to onetime invocation per catastrophic disaster. Refers proposed amendment for vote in special election on same date as next general election.

The resolution passed: 57-3 in the House (with Tim Freeman, Kim Thatcher and Matt Wingard voting no) and 30-0 in the Senate.

As that was a joint resolution, it called for a move to the November 2012 ballot and was there as Ballot Measure 77. You can see the results here:

That’s pretty overwhelming I’d say both in the Legislature and by the voters of Oregon. That leads us to our situation now in Oregon with the “emergency” that Governor Kate Brown as ordered. Here is the opinion that she is using as the basis for issuing the executive orders:

As you can see, she has purposely avoided the terms of the Oregon Constitution, Article 10, Section A as was passed by the Legislature and the voters of Oregon. This was willfully done.

Rather than the more narrow “catastrophic disaster” that has limits to the Governor’s powers, she used the phrase “state of emergency” and old statute from 1949 that was updated in 2007... but that still does not supersede the Oregon Constitution.

Again, I am not an attorney but, there are several now that are moving forward with immediate action against this massive power grab by the Governor. I invite you to contact Common Sense for Oregon and its leader Kevin Mannix, who is helping to facilitate this action. They are a grassroots organization that fights for Oregon’s rights. You can even donate to them as they are funding these legal actions including helping with the churches who have filed suits as reported in the Willamette Week.

As for reopening churches, here is one pastor’s idea for how to open with proper social distancing. This is an outstanding plan that keeps all safe and utilizes the facility properly.

--State Representative Bill Post

Post Date: 2020-05-16 13:48:57Last Update: 2020-05-17 18:49:11

Metro Acquires Clackamas County Land
It will complete missing sections of the Cazadero Trail

Metro has purchased 76 acres in Clackamas County that will complete missing sections of the Cazadero State Trail. The Cazadero connects to the Springwater Corridor Trail, creating linked multi-use paths that will eventually stretch from Portland to Estacada.

The property was a portion of the Salvation Army’s Camp Kuratli, which continues to operate. It cost $850,000 and was paid for by the natural areas bond voters approved in 2006. Critics have questioned the wisdom of local governments acquiring large parcels of land pointing out that they are sometimes not the best stewards of the land.

The property is home to a relatively young forest that’s regrown after previous logging, and streams that feed into Deep Creek and the North Fork of Deep Creek. Metro’s conservation work here will focus on maintaining species diversity, tackling invasive plants and managing erosion in order to reduce sediment in the streams.

The Cazadero State Trail follows a long-abandoned rail line, but disconnects where trestle bridges once spanned two canyons over Deep Creek. The bridges are cost-prohibitive to rebuild. Metro’s recent property purchase creates the space to build switchbacks to cross the canyons. Switchbacks require more land — a wider corridor — than was previously available.

“Sometimes those last bits are the hardest part,” Wilcox said. “This has been a long term effort.”

Dan Moeller, conservation program director at Metro, said that discussions with the previous owner about buying this property spanned two decades. While it will likely be a few years before the trail is completed, Moeller offers big-picture optimism.

“While everyone is excited to see some of the outcomes of these projects, this whole thing is really bigger than us,” Moelller said. “We're just here for a period of time, continuing the work that many people started decades before we showed up. Hopefully generations after us will appreciate it, too.”

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2020-05-16 06:02:08Last Update: 2020-05-15 19:02:29

Girod Blasts 21 Day Phase One Period
Oregonians have already proven their commitment to keep one another safe

Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod (R-Stayton) issued the following statement: “The 28 counties that have been approved, and those that are waiting, have experienced devastating damages to their local economies as they’ve waited weeks to reopen and get people back to work. The 21-day waiting period to get to Phase 2 is concerning because Oregonians have already proven their commitment to keep one another safe, and I hope it doesn’t hurt progress as these counties move forward.”

Counties approved for reopening in Phase 1: Baker, Benton, Clatsop, Columbia, Coos, Crook, Curry, Deschutes, Douglas, Gilliam, Grant, Harney, Hood River, Jackson, Josephine, Klamath, Lake, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, Malheur, Sherman, Tillamook, Union, Wallowa, Wasco, Wheeler and Yamhill

Counties under review: Jefferson, Umatilla and Morrow

Counties that do not qualify: Marion and Polk

Counties that have not applied to reopen: Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas
--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2020-05-15 18:43:33Last Update: 2020-05-15 18:43:46

Evans Supports Economic Delay
Supports a robust public safety campaign before reopening of the economy.

In a letter addressed to Polk County Commissioners, State Representative Paul Evans (D-Monmouth) urged the Polk County Commissioners to take a more cautious stand toward opening economic activity in the county. In the letter, he seemed to blame leaders for the economic crisis, though he doesn't describe how local leaders could have caused the economic crisis. "Instead of taking concrete steps early enough to contain the contagion, we allowed for a dual crisis: an economic as well as health disaster of historic proportions."

In a statement that seemed to support a crack down on non-mask wearers, he said "In circumstances like these, mandatory PPE is primarily for the protection of others, not the wearer. At present, there is no viable enforcement of the statewide recommendations made regarding PPE."

Evans further says "to live in a community is a choice to accept voluntary constraints on liberties." This statement fails to take into account that many of Marion and Polk County residents live in very rural places, that cannot be described as "a community." In a statement that appears to support the mandatory requirement for all people in public to wear masks, Evans says,

"The recent outbreak in Polk County demonstrates the volatility of "hot spots" because of the complex variables in play. Therefore, we must address the subject most people would prefer to ignore: the need for a robust public safety campaign that puts safety protocols in place before any significant reopening of our economy. This includes but is not limited to enforcement of social distancing standards: it is time to implement a mandatory requirement for wearing appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for all people "in public" on a statewide basis"

Paul Evans represents parts of Polk and Marion Counties, including the communities of West Salem, Monmouth and Independence.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2020-05-14 19:17:53Last Update: 2020-05-14 19:18:01

Meme of the Week
Never underestimate the power of memes

--Northwest Observer Comedy Staff

Post Date: 2020-05-13 19:06:03Last Update: 2020-08-08 13:23:00

Girod Calls for Return to Work
The new Senate Minority Leader leans on the Governor.

Newly minted Senate Minority Leader, Fred Girod (R-Lyons) boldly asked the Governor to reconsider her stringent prerequisites for opening up economic activity in the state.

In a letter, the Majority Leader pointed out that her policy "disproportionately impacts Oregon counties that have not seen a single case." He also reminds her that these counties may not have the financial resources to comply.

"While you acknowledged that Oregonians did what they needed to do to slow the spread of COVID-19 [you] failed to address the fact that Oregonians have been begging to get back to work for weeks."

This letter is just the latest in what has been increasing political and public pressure to ease economic restrictions on weary Oregonians.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2020-05-11 21:31:17Last Update: 2020-05-11 21:31:31

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

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