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Representative Mark Owens Calls Out Governor
Shutting down entire state is too extreme

Republican Representative Mark Owens of the Oregon legislature has issued the following statement in response to Governor Brown's Two-Week Freeze:

"Governor Brown's one-size-fits-all approach to shutting down our state is far too extreme. Our eastern and rural Oregon communities in House District 60 will suffer to the point of no return. I am fully committed to stopping the spread of COVID-19, but these extreme regulations do not match the metrics.

Once again, our local elected leaders, public health authorities and businesses were not invited to the table to have a conversation about COVID-19 in our communities. Furthermore, evidence is lacking to support the arbitrary, targeted closures and restricted activities of certain businesses over others. Our businesses across Oregon will not survive another shutdown and thousands of Oregonians will lose their jobs, again, right before the holidays.

The secondary impacts of preventing the spread of COVID are significant and cannot be ignored; we've seen a devastating increase in suicide especially among youth and young adults, drug and alcohol use, and domestic and sexual violence. Our elderly family members have gone months without visitors or family and are dying alone.

I implore the Governor to reconsider this one-size-fits-all freeze, and speak with our businesses, local leaders and authorities to find a different path forward before it is too late for our families, communities, and our state."

Rep. Owens also referenced agreement with a statement made by Jason Brandt, President & CEO for the Oregon Restaurant & Lodging Association (ORLA), in a letter to Governor Brown:

"Businesses throughout Oregon have proven that they can make the operational changes necessary to keep their employees and their customers safe, even during this unprecedented pandemic. What we need now is a plan to address the root of the problem without causing additional harm to Oregonians throughout the state," said Brandt.

Critics are noting the statewide orders are being met with a spectrum of reactions ranging from at least minimal criticism to outright rebellion in nearly all demographics.

--Ben Fisher

Post Date: 2020-11-15 13:16:48Last Update: 2020-11-15 13:39:06

Converting Waste to Energy
Biogas projects out-perform cap and trade.

American Biogas Council reports that Oregon ranks number 33 among U.S. states for methane production potential from biogas sources. Currently Oregon has 53 operational biogas systems. They see the potential for more than 67 new projects to be developed based on the estimated amount of available organic material. Constructing this many projects would generate $201 million in capital investment, and create 1,675 short-term construction jobs, 134 long-term jobs, and numerous industry-supporting jobs. If fully realized, these biogas systems could produce enough electricity to power 13,553 homes (233 million kWh) or enough renewable natural gas to fuel 33.825 vehicles. They would also collectively reduce greenhouse gas emissions by the equivalent of 4.6 trillion tons of carbon dioxide, the same as growing 4.1 million tree seedlings for ten years or the amount 139,803 acres of forest sequester each year.

While Oregon has some dedicated biomass energy crops, most biomass resources are secondary products, such as lumber mill residue, logging slash, and animal manure. Oregon has an opportunity with biomass resources available from recent wildfires woody biomass, spent pulping liquor (byproduct of pulp and paper making process), agricultural field residue, animal manure, food processing residue, landfill gas, municipal solid waste, and wastewater treatment plant digester gas. Oregon has 17 woody biomass power facilities, primarily in the wood-products industry. An additional 21 facilities in Oregon use woody biomass to provide space heat. These include schools and hospitals.

The City of Salem is a pioneer in the biogas energy. The Willow Lake Wastewater Treatment Plant has produced clean, renewable energy from biogas for more than 50 years. The plant is now producing much of the energy it needs to operate, thanks to a new Biogas Cogeneration Facility. The new Cogen facility significantly increases this clean energy output to the point where half of all the power needed to treat Salem’s wastewater is produced at the plant. The biogas facility responds to two key Salem City Council goals, Natural Environment Stewardship and Good Governance.

“By turning waste into energy, we’re powering the plant, saving money, and protecting our environment,” said Salem Mayor Chuck Bennett. “Taking pollutants out of the waste stream helps reduce Salem’s impact on the natural environment – one of our Strategic Plan goals,” said Mayor Bennett. “I’m really excited to see that this facility is up and running.”

This innovative project is one of only 11 similar facilities in Oregon that use biogas, a byproduct of wastewater treatment, to produce renewable energy (YouTube - Cogen Chapter 1). Construction of Salem’s new Cogen Facility was made possible through the support of customers participating in Portland General Electric’s Green Future Program through the Renewable Development Fund, and generous support received from the Energy Trust of Oregon and Oregon Department of Energy.

The new facility is expected to keep about 5,000 metric tons of pollution-causing gases from being released to our atmosphere every year and will save the City more than $300,000 a year in average annual energy costs based on wastewater treatment costs without a functioning Cogen Facility.

Here’s how Salem’s Cogen Facility Works: Salem’s new Cogen Facility has just come online. City staff will be monitoring energy savings and providing updates over the next several months.

Given Oregon’s strong agricultural sector, the potential to increase energy production through development of biogas projects out-performs cap and trade.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2020-11-14 20:02:22

Oregon Senate Democrats Elect Leadership Team
Courtney is the longest serving president.

The Oregon Senate Democrats held a caucus leadership election and their leadership team will be made up of the following: The Senate Democrats hold a majority in the Senate, as they have for more than a decade.

“The Oregon Senate Democrats have a legacy of success and our eyes on the future. I am thrilled to be at the helm of our caucus, and I am buoyed by the impressive experience and skills of this leadership team,” said Senator Wagner (D-Lake Oswego) who has served as Majority Leader since May 2020. “Oregon is facing a pivotal time in history with great challenges ahead. I am confident in our ability to rebuild and repair our state as we overcome overlapping challenges and focus on improving the wellbeing of every Oregonian. We will continue the ongoing work to advance racial justice, provide for equitable opportunity for all to succeed and protect our climate for future generations. As we begin a Legislative Assembly like none we have experienced before, I am deeply humbled by the trust my colleagues have put in my and I look forward to working alongside them.”

Senator Courtney—as the nominee for Senate President—and Senator James I. Manning Jr. -- as the nominee for Senate President Pro Tempore -- must be elected by a vote of the full Senate which will take place when they meet during Legislative Organizational Days.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2020-11-14 17:55:19Last Update: 2020-11-14 18:12:26

Business Vandalized by Demonstrators
In the Hosford-Abernethy neighborhood in Portland

Property damage and vandalism are still happening with frequency in Portland, Oregon.

On November 12, 2020, at approximately 10:15 p.m., Portland Central Precinct officers responded to a business located in the 2700 block of Southeast Milwaukie Avenue on reports that demonstrators had vandalized and broke windows at the location. Officers arrived on scene and learned several demonstrators had applied graffiti to the building with spray paint as well as broke two of the businesses glass windows.

No suspects have been arrested at this time in regards to this incident.

Anyone with additional information about this incident are encourage to submit a tip with Crime Stoppers. Tips may be submitted safely and securely to Crime Stoppers of Oregon online or by phone at 503-823-HELP (4357).

Crime Stoppers of Oregon offers cash rewards of up to $2,500 for information, reported to Crime Stoppers, that leads to an arrest in any unsolved felony crime and tipsters can remain anonymous.

--Ben Fisher

Post Date: 2020-11-14 16:11:35Last Update: 2020-11-14 16:20:31

Statewide Shutdown Announced
It’s just two weeks, folks, just like last time

In today’s press conference with Governor Kate Brown, a statewide “freeze” was ordered on the majority of indoor gatherings including but not limited to, restaurants and bars, gyms and faith based gatherings which are restricted to 25 members indoors and 50 outdoors. Retail is allowed to remain open within 75% of their normal capacity for two weeks. It was announced that Multnomah County will be in a four week freeze with the potential for other counties to join them if their cases continue to surge.

Kate Brown had announced a two week pause only one week ago and since then they have seen an “alarming spike in cases and Covid-19 hospitalizations.” It is unclear whether or not that nine county pause made much difference however, Dr. Dean Sidelinger indicated with record number of daily cases they decided to take action now. He updated the case count for today which is 1,056. A majority of cases stems from “community spread, which is lurking visible and not,” according to Kate Brown.

Hospitals are expecting an influx and several are voluntarily reducing or limiting elective procedures that would require a hospital stay of one to four days. OHSU has four ICU’s that care for critically ill patients not just Covid patients and are reportedly at 90% capacity.

Oregon Health Sciences University has been planning for large surge, but that is meant to be last resort measures. Hospitals are looking grim, with a 50% increase in metro, and are facing constraint. There are 15 staffed ICU beds, per Dr. Sidelinger. Other regions are facing urgency even though capacity is not high. Hospitals have a lagging indicator where we won’t see hospitalizations for one to two weeks.

Dire predictions spoken of by Dr. Renee Edwards, Chief Medical Officer of OHSU, echoing phrases like, “the dreaded winter surge is here, and we may be facing the roughest days of the pandemic, we must take further action.”

What is included in the two week freeze? Beginning on Wednesday November 18, through December 2, Expect the following: The Governor followed the new guidance with, “The evidence is clear, masks save lives.”

These lockdown measures are in addition to earlier travel advisory she announced along with Govenor’s Newsom and Inslee of travelers avoiding interstate travel outside the three states, Washington, California and Oregon as well as self-quarantining for 14 days upon return. While this is not mandatory she said “We may be forced to,” make it so.

Individuals should begin compliance now, businesses should start to be in compliance by this coming Wednesday. According to data and modeling, Kate Brown’s public health experts predict we need longer to flatten the curve and slow the transmission.

If this all sounds “familiar” that’s because it is. Two weeks to flatten the curve first began on March 22nd when Governor Brown ordered all businesses except those deemed essential to close. It is hard to imagine the same experts will be satisfied with another two weeks.

Dr. Dean Sidelinger likened the freeze to a firebreak and blamed social gatherings for the rise in case such as Halloween parties and not keeping distance or wearing masks. Examples given were two Halloween parties where one had 50 attendees and 10 positive tests resulted.

Another smaller one involved six testing positive with following up occurring with an additional 25 individuals. “Skyrocketing cases” is preventing local public health departments from being able to quickly contact trace and investigate. Individuals can help the effort, when, someone tells you you’ve been exposed while waiting on test results to stay home and don’t wait for public health call, which is just one tool. The freeze was called another tool.

With previous Executive orders Kate Brown has used discretion to allow law enforcement to enforce as a class c misdemeanor, through citation, fine or arrest. When questioned by reporters about stronger legal action, she said, “She is not asking, but telling people to stop with informal social gatherings,” and she did not want to have to close businesses again but, “We have no other choice.”

In closing, the Governor reiterated, “I know Oregonians can do this as they’ve made incredible sacrifices to protect themselves and we’ve had one of the lowest infections rates.” The infection rate given today is 1.5%.

And if hearing, “Stay Home, Save lives” wasn’t losing its impact, Brown followed that with “get your flu shot,” and it had a certain cheap grocery store ring to it.

It's beginning to feel as if we're Clark Griswold after receiving a jelly of the month club certificate instead of a bonus check. After all the hard work and sacrifice of the last, almost nine months, the phrase Governor Brown uttered last year, has clearer meaning. Revenge isn’t just a dish best served cold, but freezing.

--Nicole DeGraff

Post Date: 2020-11-13 19:05:32Last Update: 2020-11-13 20:55:19

Two Week Shutdown Announced by Gov. Brown
Over the river and through the woods... NOT

Governor Kate Brown has worked her whole political career to get recognition on the national level. She hasn’t made any points in the news with her mismanagement of the Portland riots. But, to one party that seems to be the agenda she was playing out. Now it is rumored that she may have an opportunity in the Biden administration. So what is she doing to enhance her chances? A complete lock down of Oregon over the Thanksgiving holiday.

Using increased testing that in turn produces increased positive results, not to be confused with an active virus, she justifies her latest order effective November 18 for a total lock down to December 2. But, it doesn’t stop there. If you cross state lines, coming home or visiting, you need to self-quarantine for two weeks – effectively closing borders except for essential services.

Governor Kate Brown, California Governor Gavin Newsom, and Washington Governor Jay Inslee issued travel advisories this week urging visitors entering their states or returning home from travel outside these states to self-quarantine to slow the spread of the virus. The travel advisories urge against non-essential out-of-state travel, ask people to self-quarantine for 14 days after arriving from another state or country, and encourage residents to stay local. The travel advisories recommend individuals limit their interactions to their immediate household. The advisories define essential travel as travel for work and study, critical infrastructure support, economic services and supply chains, health, immediate medical care, and safety and security.

“COVID-19 does not stop at state lines. As hospitals across the West are stretched to capacity, we must take steps to ensure travelers are not bringing this disease home with them,” said Governor Brown. “If you do not need to travel, you shouldn’t. This will be hard, especially with Thanksgiving around the corner. But the best way to keep your family safe is to stay close to home.”

There may be cause to be cautious bordered with states on both sides with high cases of COVID-19. “California just surpassed a sobering threshold – one million COVID-19 cases – with no signs of the virus slowing down,” said California Governor Gavin Newsom. “COVID cases have doubled in Washington over the past two weeks. This puts our state in as dangerous a position today as we were in March,” Washington Governor Jay Inslee said.

Between the ban on travel and new local restrictions, what is left of our freedom?

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2020-11-13 18:56:46

Traveling In Or Out Of Oregon?
You must now self-quarantine after arrival

As COVID-19 cases continue to increase across the country, Governor Kate Brown, California Governor Gavin Newsom, and Washington Governor Jay Inslee issued travel advisories urging visitors entering their states or returning home from travel outside these states to self-quarantine to slow the spread of the virus. The travel advisories urge against non-essential out-of-state travel, ask people to self-quarantine for 14 days after arriving from another state or country, and encourage residents to stay local.

“COVID-19 does not stop at state lines. As hospitals across the West are stretched to capacity, we must take steps to ensure travelers are not bringing this disease home with them,” said Governor Brown. “If you do not need to travel, you shouldn’t. This will be hard, especially with Thanksgiving around the corner. But the best way to keep your family safe is to stay close to home.”

In addition to urging individuals arriving from other states or countries to self-quarantine for 14 days after arrival, the states’ travel advisories recommend individuals limit their interactions to their immediate household. The advisories define essential travel as travel for work and study, critical infrastructure support, economic services and supply chains, health, immediate medical care, and safety and security.

“California just surpassed a sobering threshold – one million COVID-19 cases – with no signs of the virus slowing down,” said California Governor Gavin Newsom. “Increased cases are adding pressure on our hospital systems and threatening the lives of seniors, essential workers and vulnerable Californians. Travel increases the risk of spreading COVID-19, and we must all collectively increase our efforts at this time to keep the virus at bay and save lives.”

“COVID cases have doubled in Washington over the past two weeks. This puts our state in as dangerous a position today as we were in March,” Washington Governor Jay Inslee said. “Limiting and reducing travel is one way to reduce the further spread of the disease. I am happy to partner with California and Oregon in this effort to help protect lives up and down the West Coast.”

To learn more about the risk that travel itself poses for COVID-19 exposure, please visit the CDC page on travel risks.

The incidence of COVID-19 is increasing in many states and countries. Persons arriving in Oregon from other states or Oregonians returning from other states or countries could increase the risk of COVID-19 spread. In addition, travel itself can be a risk for exposure to COVID-19, particularly travel through shared conveyance such as air, bus or rail travel.

Travel Advisory for Non-Essential Travel

1. Persons arriving in Oregon from other states or countries, including returning Oregon residents, should practice self-quarantine for 14 days after arrival. These persons should limit their interactions to their immediate household. This recommendation does not apply to individuals who cross state or country borders for essential travel.

Non-essential travel includes travel that is considered tourism or recreational in nature.

Essential travel includes: work and study, critical infrastructure support, economic services and supply chains, health, immediate medical care, and safety and security.

2. Oregonians are encouraged to stay home or in their region and avoid non-essential travel to other states or countries. Avoiding travel can reduce the risk of virus transmission and bringing the virus back to Oregon.

--Sabrina-Marie Fisher

Post Date: 2020-11-13 15:19:54Last Update: 2020-11-13 17:06:23

Governor Freezes Entire State of Oregon
Prompted by possible hospital capacity concerns

Governor Kate Brown today announced a statewide Two-Week Freeze, implementing new measures to limit gatherings and stop the rapid spread of COVID-19 across Oregon. The Two-Week Freeze measures will be in effect from Nov. 18 through Dec. 2, statewide. These risk reduction measures are critical in limiting the spread of COVID-19, reducing risk in communities more vulnerable to serious illness and death, and helping conserve hospital capacity so that all Oregonians can continue to have access to quality care.

“Since I announced a Two-Week Pause one week ago, we are seeing an alarming spike in both cases and hospitalizations,” said Governor Brown. “The virus is spreading in the community and, every day, it is infecting more and more Oregonians. This situation is dangerous and our hospitals have been sounding the alarms. If we want to give Oregon a fighting chance, we must take further measures to flatten the curve and save lives. I know this is hard, and we are weary. But, we are trying to stop this ferocious virus from quickly spreading far and wide. And in Oregon, we actually can do this.

“Given the data and modeling we are seeing, my public health experts tell me that some counties will need longer to flatten the curve. So I want to be very clear that there are some COVID-19 hotspot counties that will likely need to stay in the Freeze for much longer than two weeks. Multnomah County, for example, will be in this Freeze for at least four weeks. Our actions right now, no matter where in the state you live, are critical.”

The Two-Week Freeze measures include: The Two-Week Freeze does not apply to or change current health and safety protocols for personal services (such as barber shops, hair salons, and non-medical massage therapy), congregate homeless sheltering, outdoor recreation and sports, youth programs, childcare, K-12 schools, K-12 sports currently allowed, current Division 1 and professional athletics exemptions, and higher education — all of which can continue operating under previous guidance issued by the Oregon Health Authority.

For all other permitted activities listed above, the Oregon Health Authority will be issuing sector-specific guidance within the next week. Sectors without specific prohibitions or guidance must operate under this general employer guidance.

--Ben Fisher

Post Date: 2020-11-13 14:40:57Last Update: 2020-11-13 15:19:54

Brown Chief of Staff to Join Biden Team
Nik Blosser joins the Biden transition team as ballots are still being counted

Nik Blosser, chief of staff to Oregon Governor Kate Brown, will be leaving the Governor to join the Biden/Harris transition team, as ballots are still being counted, and recounts are underway.

Blosser, recently parried with the Trump Administration, holding up vital and timely firefighting aid in exchange for "rumor control", regarding Antifa involvement in Oregon fires. In an email chain discovered via public records requests, Blosser is asked by the Trump administration to correct rumors, and address an MSNBC article claiming the Trump administration was not responding to Governor Kate Brown's request for federal firefighting aid. Trump's team asks for honesty during Brown's next press conference. Blosser quickly quips back, "Thanks, we're also trying to dispel rumors with the FBI, and Local Law Enforcement assistance, that Antifa set the fires".

Now Blosser is being rewarded for his political savvy, and quick thinking, hired on prematurely as part of the Biden/Harris "transition team". In a press release issued by the Governor's office, Brown praises Blosser stating, "Nik has been on the ground and focused on the pandemic response from the start of this crisis, giving him a unique understanding of the needs of Americans suffering from COVID-19 and the needs of the communities they live in,” said Governor Brown. “I am heartened that President-Elect Biden, Vice President-Elect Harris and their transition team have selected Nik for this important role. He has my full support, and I am confident he will help President-Elect Biden and his team support states in their approach to this crisis and the long recovery that will follow.”

Meanwhile, Georgia has just announced a hand recount of ballots, along with several other key battleground states, under suspicion of voter fraud. President Trump has openly stated they intend to fight the fraud, and has not conceded the race for President. As a reminder Trump has stated that, "The media doesn't decide elections."

--Breeauna Sagdal

Post Date: 2020-11-13 13:59:28Last Update: 2020-11-13 14:21:09

Vehicle Struck by Bullet in Marion County
Violence? Careless hunters?

Oregon State Police is asking for assistance from anyone with information on a mysterious shooting November 7th, 2020 at approximately 10:15 PM. Police are investigating a shooting of a vehicle in Marion County. A man and woman were traveling westbound on Hwy 22E near mile post 28, west of Mill City. They heard a loud noise and the rear window of their Dodge Van broke. They did not stop due to the remote location and personal safety reasons. When they arrived home, they noticed what they believed to be a bullet hole in the rear panel just below the window. The vehicle body shop also thought it was a bullet hole.

If you have any information regarding this or any other shooting at vehicles, please contact the Northern Command Center at 1-800-442-0776 or Oregon State Police and leave information for Trooper Michael Iacob, Oregon State Police - Salem Area Command.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2020-11-12 21:32:20

Housing Stabilization Proposed
Government created economic problem solved by housing providers

After months of ignoring the mounting problem of unpaid rents, with an ever increasingly difficult exit strategy, the party in power has started to face the reality that while short-term renter relief may have been acceptable and even appropriate, long-term measures have begun to impact the housing market in ways that will take years to heal. The upshot may be even greater disruption to the housing market. Time will tell.

A draft of a proposal has been put forth by Representative Julie Fahey (D-Eugene) in preparation for a possible third special session. This proposal, dated November 11, includes: One puzzling feature of the proposal is that in order for the landlord to be compensated, the tenant must submit a form describing their financial hardship. What if the tenant is unwilling -- or as is surely the case at least some of the time -- unable to do so.

Many housing providers have been barely hanging on as tenants have been withholding rents. Though the proposal does say that "smaller landlords and landlords with higher percent of rent unpaid will be prioritized for assistance first," this might be too little, too late for some providers.

One housing provider shared these thoughts with their State Representative. "Property taxes are due. It was made clear that there would be no forgiveness of any kind and that the taxes needed to be paid on time. Owners have to keep up with repairs and on-going monthly expenses, such as utilities and landscaping, even if no rent is coming in."

The wisdom of extending the eviction moratorium has been questioned by some. Some see it as possibly effective as a very short-term measure, but after several months it puts housing providers at a large disadvantage with their tenants. After several months, tenants need to resolve whatever issues they have. Many housing providers are not in a position to forego income for several months, and many regard it as unfair for the state to expect them to.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2020-11-12 20:53:52Last Update: 2020-11-12 21:32:20

Where’s the Emergency?
Pause and then pounce

On what basis did Governor Brown hold a presser on hospital capacity? The dashboards on COVID-19 by Oregon Health Authority do not appear to reveal a compelling reason.

The Governor already held a press conference on the previous Friday where she announced a two week pause, restricting five Counties. She added another four counties on Monday. Did the data indicate a dire surge in hospitalizations? A quick glance shows the hospitalizations and emergency department admissions for COVID Like Illness or CLI visits remain flat.

In the press conference on Tuesday, OHA updated us with the fact that 285 people across Oregon with a positive test are in the hospital. There was no distinguishing whether or not those had tested positive once admitted for other causes, just that ICU and ventilator use is remains flat. Region 1 as reported doesn’t show increase in ICU or ventilator usage. Perhaps since influenza testing and reporting have flatlined, patients have other health conditions they are now finally seeking care for.

The numbers haven’t changed significantly for eight months and we currently have 146 ICU adult beds available and 135 pediatric ICU beds available, as reassured by Dr. Hargunani, Chief Medical Officer at Oregon Health Authority. In fact, her tone was surprisingly positive compared to the Governor, when she highlighted, that due to the previous Swine Flu Pandemic in 2009, Oregon was in a good shape with regards to PPE and hospital capacity. The interesting difference between today and the Swine Flu Pandemic, was that the H1N1 of 2009 was forecasted to be much worse than COVID-19.

Furthermore, the only two emergency orders declared by then Governor Kulongoski, merely gave the Public Health Director the authority to respond actively to the H1N1 pandemic. Two executive orders. That’s it. Nothing like the more than two dozen sweeping emergency orders we have seen from Kate Brown such as statewide school closures or mask mandates and criminal and civil penalties.

In addition, normally OHA uses plain numbers when reporting daily case counts. You will not hear them use percentages such as “.05% of all Oregonians have tested positive,” testing accuracy aside, because it paints a much different picture. So why did they switch to percentages yesterday? If there are two patients in the hospital and then there are 6, you can create more alarm by saying there has been a 200% increase.

Governor Brown was frequently unavailable in the earlier months so she does not hold press conferences without calculation. As if her previous 28 orders weren’t catastrophic enough it is fair to speculate if perhaps she is laying the groundwork for further declaratory action.

--Nicole DeGraff

Post Date: 2020-11-12 11:51:47Last Update: 2020-11-12 12:25:43

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