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Cutting the Budget: Vacant Positions
If agencies don’t hire, they get to keep the money

Editor’s note: This is the tenth in a multi-part series on the budget for the State of Oregon and where possible efficiencies can be found.

The Legislative Fiscal Office estimates that “[a]t any given time, roughly 10% to 15% of authorized state positions are vacant. For example, as of August 10, 2016, a total of 4,812 state positions were vacant, representing 12% of all positions.”

Surprisingly, the current practice of the State is to fund vacant positions, leaving the money with the agency, even if the position is not filled -- a practice that many consider to be unconstitutional.

Article III, Section 2 of the Oregon Constitution gives the Legislature all spending authority. It says, “The Legislative Assembly shall have power to establish an agency to exercise budgetary control over all executive and administrative state officers, departments, boards, commissions and agencies of the State Government.”

With some constitutionally required exceptions, the budget process is a negotiation between the executive and legislative branches over establishing and funding priorities in spending. Some things have to be funded, because they are constitutionally required. For instance, the state has to have to have elections. But, we don’t have to have a prison system. We could just let all convicted criminals go. But we want to have prisons, so the Legislature allocates some money to the executive branch to build, staff and operate a prison system.

Most often, the Legislature gives the Executive branch -- in this case, the Department of Corrections -- broad discretion on how to run the prisons, but they only have discretion to operate a prison. Any other use of the money is unconstitutional. During the budget process the Legislature, in consultation with the Executive Branch, determined that they needed a certain level of personnel. If they fail to hire all the personnel available to them, they either find efficiencies or fall short of goals, but at the end of the day, they don't have the constitutional authority to re-allocate the resources.

Although agencies have grown accustomed to and dependent upon having this 10% to 15% buffer -- one might call it a slush fund -- some basic discipline could be imposed on agencies, and much of this money could be returned to the general fund to be properly, constitutionally allocated by the Legislature, or in harder time, cut from the budget altogether.

Savings: $500,000 million ore more biennially.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2020-07-24 08:00:00Last Update: 2020-07-06 22:37:54

Meme of the Week
Little did anyone know, little Katie would grow up to be Governor

--Northwest Observer Meme Team

Post Date: 2020-07-23 20:28:19Last Update: 2020-07-22 20:28:46

It’s Gerrymander Time
Can redistricting be done fairly with the wide political divide we face?

There is a long history of gerrymandering in drawing political districts. As the population shifts and grows, redistricting has become a political tool of the party in power.

Census counts are used to determine the allocation of seats in Congress, the number of electors in the Electoral College and hundreds of billion dollars of federal spending. It is also used to redistrict Oregon’s House and Senate districts.

On the national level, President Trump signed an order to prevent illegal immigrants from being counted in redrawing of voting districts. The census currently does not either include a citizenship question, or a question about legal immigration status. The order says that for the purposes of reapportionment, "it is the policy of the United States to exclude from the apportionment base aliens who are not in a lawful immigration status.

"Today’s action to exclude illegal aliens from the apportionment base reflects a better understanding of the Constitution and is consistent with the principles of our representative democracy," Trump said. "Although the Constitution requires the persons in each State, excluding Indians not taxed, to be enumerated in the census, that requirement has never been understood to include in the apportionment base every individual physically present within a State's boundaries at the time of the census," the order says.

Oregon’s increased population would indicate an additional representative. However, President Trump’s memo to agencies says that states that enacted sanctuary laws to shield illegal aliens from capture by federal authorities, and that thwart the enforcement of federal laws should not be rewarded with increased representation in Congress. According to the memo, one state has an estimated 2.2 million illegal aliens, who, if counted in the apportionment, would give the state two or three additional congressional seats. Once the apportionment is calculated, the president will transmit the final determination to Congress.

What Oregon does with the numbers to redistrict has always been contentious. Oregon’s Initiative 57, People Not Politicians, attempts to take politics out of the process by amending the Constitution to repeal legislative redistricting process and create a congressional/state redistricting commission with equal number of Democrats, Republicans, and others. The measure says, “Election Day is when Oregonians exercise their right to vote and make their voice heard, and the people of Oregon need an independent commission to draw fair and impartial districts so that every vote matters.”

Gerrymandering is actively at work in automatic voter registrations and building low-income apartments aimed at conservative districts. Six states including California and Canada have appointed nonpartisan commissions to draw the redistricting maps. Oregon’s initiative goes a step further requiring equal representation, unlike the six states who often appoint ‘nonpartisan’ commissioners with partisan opinions. But they are still experiencing closer elections indicative of some merit.

Can taking census and redistricting be done fairly with the wide political divide we face? Leaving the process to legislators would be a definite ‘NO.’ But, passing Initiative 57 gives it a fighting chance.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2020-07-23 18:46:24Last Update: 2020-07-23 19:41:12

How One Man Came to Terms with his Union
Destroying the property of others is not how we achieve justice

Editor's note: This first appeared in the author's personal blog. Public workers no longer are required as a condition of employment to be a member of or pay dues to a union. You can find out more at www.OptOutToday.com

Writing a letter the day following hand surgery ranks right up there with having a root canal, but some things need to be said--sooner rather than later.

Before getting to the meat of this letter, I'd like to preface it by saying that some years back SEIU did provide some (uncoordinated and clumsy) assistance regarding some office issues. This led to my return to the union under the rationale that they were a necessary evil. (You can read a little about my union ambivalence at the following links: BEFORE, AFTER and a little concerning the EVENTS themselves.) I should further disclose that I have even served briefly as a union steward--working to help ensure state employees were treated (and represented) with fairness rather than a disdainful bias. Let's face it, state supervisors and Human Resource departments have a great deal of power, and sometimes the worker needs someone in their corner. With SEIU, however, it's their actions outside the office that truly make it more difficult with each passing day to support them--particularly regarding BLM.

The other part of my background is that I almost pursued a police career before I changed professional directions in my late 20's towards state government. Over the preceding years, I attended countless training sessions and ridden-beside police officers as a volunteer observer from Yakima to Seattle. I understand police officers (usually), and I've seen many really good ones along with a few that probably shouldn't have been wearing that badge. While, of course, "all lives matter, black lives now," the problem with BLM as an organization has a lot to do with the its the people it draws and its stated beliefs. This is an organization that supports the fairy tale of subjective vs objective sexual identities, opposes the nuclear family, and stands in stark opposition to law and order--e.g. defunding of police. Whatever nonsense its supporters believe at any given moment, they demand those in positions of power--from mayors to police chiefs--show BLM unearned respect and honor, kowtowing to the organization by taking a knee, for instance. This isn't an organization aimed at racial justice, but an enterprise aimed at reweaving the social fabric in its own image and taking power away from the people.

When SEIU members posted on social media today about forming a barrier between rioters and city police and federal law enforcement, I voiced my opinion that this was foolish. My voice was met, of course, with profane responses from SEIU members who must believe that their role as members is to help BLM damage our cities and injure or kill our police officers. This is nothing short of a grab for power, and BLM should be recognized as something like a fascist organization using force and intimidation to silence those who oppose its siren call for "justice."

I've witnessed injustice, and when I do I take constructive action. This is something we can all do. Tearing down buildings and destroying the property of others, however, is not how we achieve justice...but anarchy.

For these reasons, then, I've decided to resign union membership diverting precious resources from an organization that no longer represents my values.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2020-07-23 16:50:26Last Update: 2020-07-23 21:14:58

Mask Requirement to be Litigated
Freedom Foundation sues Governor, OHA

The Freedom Foundation, which filed a lawsuit earlier in July challenging Washington’s mandatory mask rule, on Wednesday requested an emergency stay with the Oregon State Court of Appeals to prevent Gov. Kate Brown from imposing a similar edict in the Beaver State.

“Governors in left-leaning states all over the country are making up the rules as they go – and ignoring the procedural rules their own state laws set up,” said Jason Dudash, the Freedom Foundation’s Oregon director.

The Freedom Foundation filed the court action on behalf of three individuals who object to the mandate that they wear masks. In addition to Brown and the state of Oregon, the challenge names Oregon Heath Authority Director Patrick Allen, who on June 30 issued the so-called “Statewide Mask, Face Shield, Face Covering Guidance,” which outlines the face covering requirements.

Freedom Foundation’s challenge points out that the “guidance” is an administrative rule — and the creation of such a rule must follow the procedural standards set forth in ORS 183. These standards include notice of the proposed rule, publication of the rule, 21 days advance notice to allow public input, and a fiscal impact statement.

The challenge argues that not only does the mandate violate state statue, it also violates the wearer’s First Amendment rights.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2020-07-23 16:43:13Last Update: 2020-07-23 16:45:25

Media Malpractice
President Trump responds to the violence in Portland

Governor Kate Brown tells the President to stop playing politics, stop calling law enforcement secret police, and likens his leadership to a dictatorship. She calls on the President to get his officers off the streets in Portland. Mayor Ted Wheeler said the President is trying to look strong for his base, and Pelosi call them “Storm Troopers”.

While President Trump met with GOP leaders, he answered question about federal officers in Portland. “We’ll have more federal law enforcement. In Portland, in three days they have done a fantastic job in a very short period of time. No problem. They grab them, a lot of leaders in jail. These aren’t protesters, these people are anarchists. These are people that hate our country and we’re not going to let it go forward. I’ll tell you what, the governor, the mayor and the senators are afraid of these people. That’s the reason they don’t want us to help them, they’re afraid. I actually believe they may be physically afraid of these people. We didn’t just go there right away; we went there after 51 days we said we can’t let this happen anymore. But these are anarchists, the politicians are afraid and that’s why they say we don’t want the federal government out there. This is worse than Afghanistan by far.”

Filmmaker Ami Horowitz said on Hannity that a four-square block area around the federal building was under siege taken over Tuesday night when he was in Portland. About 5,000 onlookers were there cheering them on. “Media malpractice of how protesters are portrayed and how people view them in the media is said to be all kumbaya brother, they’re just sitting there having a good time, people singing and dancing. The reality is that hundreds of people were attacking the federal building. By attack, I mean they had hammers, steel pipes and were setting fires to burn the building down with all the people in it while the ‘peaceful’ protesters are exhorting them on – cheering them on. They weren’t aghast at what was happening. They weren’t saying, hey guys you shouldn’t be doing this. They were supporting these people who were trying to burn the officers alive in the federal building. So, to say it’s a mostly peaceful protest, it’s not true at all and that is part of the problem.”

Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany responds with the President’s authority under U.S. Code 40-1315 to deputize agents in protection of federal property, investigate and pursue criminal acts. To date, the agents in Portland are only protecting federal property according to Chad Wolf, acting director of Homeland Security.

Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod said, “It is sickening to watch as phony leaders pander to the violence in Portland. I refuse to turn a blind eye to the violence and lawlessness each night. What Portland Democrats fail to understand is if you give an inch to these violent anarchists, they will take a mile, and they won’t stop. They want to perpetuate the idea of a ‘civil war’ to further isolate Oregonians from one another. Peaceful protesters are welcome, but the second violence and lawbreaking occurs, it is up to elected officials to support the law enforcement officers that put their lives on the line to keep citizens safe in unstable situations. Democrats have refused to do this and have failed all Oregonians by pandering to the violence.”

All the talk from the Governor and Mayor that federal agents shouldn’t be in Oregon leaves every city, large and small, vulnerable to unchecked violence. Portland is a big target, and it’s spreading to Eugene and Salem. If Portland is overrun, and that’s already a liberal city, they won’t stop there. Death from COVID-19 will pale in comparison to civil unrest. Law and order is sure to be a priority in the upcoming elections.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2020-07-22 19:48:33Last Update: 2020-07-23 18:46:24

Meme of the Week
The right to bear memes shall not be infringed

--Northwest Observer Meme Team

Post Date: 2020-07-22 15:07:15Last Update: 2020-07-22 14:07:37

Support for Law Enforcement
Gun sales will continue to rise

Governor Kate Brown responding at her press conference to questions on federal agents’ actions in Portland, said she doesn’t approve of President Trump’s tactics, and he must remove his agents. But, she did acknowledge that property destruction has to stop. Her answer is that she will be looking into a new system of training law enforcement. This, after the special session earlier this month passed police reform bills. One might wonder what was the plan behind those bills if she is yet to look into police training.

Meanwhile, outside the Gresham City Council stands a flag pole that once flew ‘Old Glory’ but now supports the Black Lives Matter flag. The City Council unanimously approved flying the flag with the official logo of a radical Marxist "Black Lives Matters" group. One must ask if they even researched the distinctive "three yellow stripe" flag Gresham is flying to know it is the same flag sold on the Marxist group's website.

The Multnomah County Republican Party has taken objection to Gresham City Council. "We as Republicans, the party of Lincoln, obviously have no objections to promoting messages of racial equality," says Chairman James Buchal, "but these City Councilors are tarnishing the City of Gresham by flying the flag of a radical Marxist organization hostile to all fundamental American values."

Buchal said they firmly oppose the BLM group's website message that "police don't keep us safe". "We reject the idea that bad actions by bad officers define policing in America, and we reject the idea that systemic racism requires massive 're-education', censorship of opposing views, and punishment for dissent in the Marxist fashion."

A demonstration in support of Gresham Police is planned for July 22 at 6 p.m. outside the Gresham City Hall Council Chambers. Organizers said, “we want our police to know we support them.” They encourage people to bring a thank you note to give to officers.

One thing that Oregon needs is a strong police force, local and state, and leaders that support them. Without that, gun sales will continue to rise.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2020-07-22 14:40:39Last Update: 2020-07-22 14:58:37

Leaders Play Politics
Somebody needs to solve some problems and blaming Trump doesn’t do that.

It must be an election year.

At the end of her recent press conference, in response to a reporter's question about the riots in Portland, Oregon Governor Kate Brown took a swipe at President Trump and the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, perpetuating the narrative floated in the media that federal law enforcement is operating illegally in Portland.

Let me be very clear with Oregonians.

“When I spoke with the director of the Department of Homeland Security last week, I told him to go home and take his federal troops with him, um, this is a democracy not a dictatorship.

We cannot have secret police abducting people and putting them in unmarked vehicles. I cannot believe I have to say that to the president of the United States. I know that Oregonians are outraged. Americans should be appalled.”

Even, the lefter-than-thou, queen of wokeness, Willamette Week reporter, Tess Riski, breathlessly -- and reluctantly -- reported that everything that federal law enforcement is doing is legal.

The Oregon Attorney General, Ellen Rosenblum (D-Portland) has filed a lawsuit against the federal government alleging that “On information and belief, federal law enforcement officers including John Does 1-10 have been using unmarked vehicles to drive around downtown Portland, detain protesters, and place them into the officers’ unmarked vehicles, removing them from public without either arresting them or stating the basis for an arrest.”

US Senators Jeff Merkley (D-Portland) and Ron Wyden (D-Portland) have introduced legislation to restrict the use of force during riots.

Oregon generally, and Portland specifically, both face grave danger to persons and property. It seems like the time is now to do something -- not play politics.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2020-07-22 12:44:29Last Update: 2020-07-22 15:00:09

Kate Brown Mandates Five Year Olds Wear Masks
Gatherings limited again, 10 pm curfew on businesses

Oregon Governor Kate Brown declared new statewide mandates via her press briefing conference, including a directive stating that children as young as 5 years would hereby be required to wear a face mask both in and outdoors. Indoor gatherings were also limited to 100, statewide.

The Governor, who recently brought up concerns of dictatorship federally, is rolling out statewide mandates in a way that critics would say is being quite dictatorial herself. She has also announced that bars and restaurants must close their doors by 10pm. Observers have noted that shortened business hours by grocers, food service and other businesses has only made social distancing more difficult in some demographics.

She defended her tighter restrictions, saying “I don't make these decisions lightly and there are no easy choices.”

To recap:
As an aside, the Governor promised “Clear metrics for school re-opening in the next few days.” She emphasized, "School in the Fall will not look like a normal year."

She ended her prepared remarks with the threat, “If we don’t stop the spread of the virus I will have no choice but to force widespread and difficult closures again.”

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2020-07-22 12:00:31Last Update: 2020-07-22 12:08:22

Cutting the Budget: Department of Geology and Mineral Industries
Let’s get rid of this broken agency.

Editor’s note: This is the ninth in a multi-part series on the budget for the State of Oregon and where possible efficiencies can be found.

DOGAMI, as it is abbreviated, has two main departments.

The Geologic Survey and Services (GS&S) Program gathers geoscientific data and maps mineral resources and hazards. Geographic areas needing tsunami hazard mapping, landslide hazard studies, flooding hazard studies, and earthquake risk mapping have been prioritized by the agency. The information is shared with state and local policy-makers for land use planning, facility siting, building code and zoning changes, and emergency planning.

The Mineral Land Regulation and Reclamation (MLRR) Program is responsible for regulating the exploration, extraction, production, and reclamation of mineral and energy resources for the purposes of conservation and second beneficial uses of mined lands. The objectives are to conserve mineral resources and protect the environment while providing for the economic uses of the mined materials. This includes oil, natural gas, geothermal exploration, and extraction.

This agency's budget woes are so epic that the legislature would not let them have a biennial budget, instead restricting them to a single year appropriation while they get their act together.

Can the geologic survey functions be turned over to Oregon State University? They might like the work, and the agency could use a break. As far as natural resource extraction goes, the reality is that political control of this state by environmentalists means that there is very little natural resource extraction happening, so very little to regulate -- which may be the source of the agency's fiscal irresponsibility in the first place.

Savings: $4-19 million biennially, depending on how much of the agency is dissolved.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2020-07-22 08:00:00Last Update: 2020-07-22 15:02:23

Lawmakers Question Police Motives
Place blame on police and fall just short of calling them racist.

No one who has watched the online video clips of the nightly violence and rioting in Portland over the last two months can continue to claim that what we are watching are “peaceful protests.”

State Representatives Karin Power (D-Milwaukie) and Janelle Bynum (D-Happy Valley) have issued a statement in which the motives of law enforcement are again called into question, and no recognition of the damage done by the rioters is acknowledged.

Despite the fact that most law enforcement activity has been directed at white persons, Bynum insists that this activity is “designed” to work against people of color. Many observers have pointed out that the only “design” present is that of the rioters, who seem intent to provoke law enforcement at all costs.

The statement says:

“These acts of violence perpetrated by federal law enforcement are designed to pass down a legacy of fear and further the interminable control of the movements of Black and Brown bodies since the days of American slavery,” said Rep. Bynum. “I will not let my children, or any of our children, inherit paranoia and mistrust of the people we commission to protect us. I am showing them the way of non-violent protest against oppression and government overreach. I am teaching them the true meaning of good trouble, necessary trouble.”

Does anyone remember George Floyd? Or do we not need to talk about him?

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2020-07-21 13:13:10

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