I am speaking out publicly to express my great disappointment and frustration at the Governor’s latest restrictions on faith communities in Oregon. I understand the need to address the spike in COVID-19 cases, but we know that spread of the virus is not happening at faith gatherings. Our churches have been carefully following the masking, distancing, and sanitizing protocols. They work. Why are we limited to 25 people in a church that can seat 1000 while certain businesses are allowed to operate on a percentage of capacity? I would like to know the Governor’s rationale for tighter restrictions on churches. It is not data driven. It does not make sense. Our neighbors to the north in Washington are facing greater spread and tighter restrictions, yet their Governor’s formula for restrictions on faith
communities is much more reasonable (25% occupancy or 200 maximum). It follows the science. A similar policy makes sense for Oregon.
The Catholic Church and other faith communities have bent over backwards to observe Governor Brown’s directives and implement strict protocols to keep people safe since the pandemic began. We operate in a controlled environment where we can keep everyone who enters our doors from having “close contact.” We are asking the Governor, following the two week “freeze,” to reconsider her gathering restrictions for faith communities. We ask her to remember that the Christmas holiday is a little over a month away, and it is a season when people of many faiths turn to their churches. We need a policy that matches our current situation, keeps people safe, and meets the spiritual needs of people of faith in Oregon. It is unfortunate that a person’s ability to worship does not seem to be considered an essential activity. I can assure you that the Catholic faithful under my pastoral care consider Sunday worship vital, especially when facing the challenges of the pandemic.
The Catholic community continues to pray for the Governor and her staff while she does the very challenging work of navigating the state of Oregon through this terrible pandemic.
Civil libertarians in Oregon have shown surprise at the level of restrictions that have been placed on faith communities. Several lawsuits against Governor Kate Brown and the State of Oregon are pending.
Searches of Black/African Americans not at a disparate rate
The Stops Data Collection Report is an annual assessment of traffic stops for drivers and pedestrians in Portland by the Portland Police Bureau.
The Portland Police Bureau is taking necessary steps to identify areas of improvement in the way officers make traffic stops. Beginning January 1, 2021, the Portland Police Bureau will begin collecting new data points to help identify improvements that can be made to the way traffic stops are conducted.
In a commitment to change and improve, the Portland Police Bureau needs to collect this new information and implement new accountability measures related to searches. PPB claims they continue to make improvements to increase understanding of the data and to identify opportunities to reduce disproportionate outcomes. Some next steps include:
Collection of additional data points regarding the stop reason, such as reasonable suspicion or probable cause of a non-traffic crime, to better understand how stops are used as a component of crime reduction and prevention.
Changes to the search data points to collect all search criteria even though consent was requested, including other warrant exceptions and warrants.
Collection of additional data points to identify mandatory arrests.
Training to improve stops data collection and understanding of search criteria. The training will begin this week and be completed by the end of the year.
The Bureau will begin audio recording consent searches. The training for this will be forth coming.
Leverage technical assistance offered as part of the State of Oregon's Statistical Transparency of Policing (STOPS) program to address disparities identified within this report and the state's report.
"This data provides PPB with an opportunity to improve and seek out additional tools and resources," said Chief Chuck Lovell. "Stops data helps us realize over-representation in the criminal justice system still exists. We understand this creates fear and distrust within the community. It's important to continue to enhance the data collection process to give us a better understanding of the context of stops, searches and arrests. We will continue to incorporate these system changes, policy changes and training, including how to better capture consent searches."
The report indicates several key findings:
Drivers were stopped at rates similar to their expected values with stops conducted by Traffic Division officers compared to the Injury Collision Benchmark and stops conducted by Non-Traffic division officers compared to the Crime Victimization Benchmark.
In 2019, 4.6% of stops included a discretionary search. Non-Traffic division (patrol and investigative) officers performed 93% of the searches and the majority of these were consent searches.
Black/African American drivers were searched comparatively more than other racial/ethnic groups, though not at a disparate rate.
Contraband was found on 48% of all searches.
The majority of searches (70.4%) were consent searches. Drivers perceived to be either Black/African American were asked to consent to a search at almost twice the rate of all other perceived racial groups. White individuals were significantly more likely to refuse a consent search than drivers perceived to be Black/African American or Hispanic / Latino.
Officers performed 1,131 stops of pedestrians in 2019 -- a 95 percent increase over the prior year with the majority of stops occurring in Central Precinct (70.2%).
Pedestrians stop rates were similar to prior years. Pedestrians perceived as White made up the majority (74.8%) of stops, followed by Black/African Americans (15.7%) and Hispanic or Latino (5.7%) pedestrians.
Pedestrians are significantly more likely to be searched (13.6%) than drivers (4.6%). Probable Cause was the primary search method utilized for pedestrians (55.8%). No racial / ethnic group was disparately search in 2019.
A supplemental report relating to the former Gun Violence Reduction Team's (GVRT) stop data is also available.
The GVRT utilized traffic stops as a tool to help investigate and prevent gun violence in the City. The supplemental report focuses on the following:
Stop locations as they relate to where gun violence occurs in the city. 80% of GVRT stops were within a quarter mile of a gun violence incident.
Subjects perceived to be Black/African American made up 52.1% of the stops, followed by White (32.2%), Hispanic or Latino (10.2%), Asian (2.8%), American Indian / Alaskan Native (1.1%), Native Hawaiian (0.9%), and Middle Eastern (0.6%).
Black/African American subjects were searched more than expected, but not at disparate rates.
Black subjects were significantly more likely to be searched with consent, while White subjects were significantly more likely to be searched with probable cause.
88% of all stops initiated by GVRT ended with a warning, written or verbal, at the end of the interaction - the highest in the Bureau.
As Republicans try to climb their way out of super-minority status in the legislature, it's not just Democrats that are holding them back. The outcome of at least two races may have been impacted by Libertarian candidates, each of which polled more votes than the margin of victory.
Democrats have had their sights set on Senate District 10 which includes the eastern part of Polk County and South Salem, since Denyc Boles was appointed to the seat to replace the venerable Jackie Winters after her passing. Democrats hold a razor-thin voter registration advantage as of the eve of the election with 31,740 Democrats and 30,440 Republicans -- a gap of 1,300 votes. Boles beat the spread, losing to newcomer Deb Patterson by a mere 600 votes -- though that number could change slightly. A larger number is the count of votes polled by Taylor Rickey, the Libertarian candidate, who spent nothing, yet took 2,775 votes -- more than four times the margin of victory for Patterson.
No one will ever be able to tell how those Libertarians voted, but if one makes the assumption that voters tend to not split their party votes, in a Senate District that contains exactly two House Districts, Republicans tallied 39,671 votes to 37,826 in those two races, winning by a combined 1,845 -- less than the Libertarian take.
East of Portland in the Gorge, House District 52 is home to the liberal city of Hood River, but its population of about 8,000 isn't big enough to dominate the rural areas around the city as well as the far eastern X-urbs of Portland. Republican Jeff Helfrich, who lost the seat in 2018 to Democrat Anna Williams, set up a rematch.
This was the closest match in Oregon for 2020, split by a mere 90 votes in favor of the now incumbent Williams in the face of Libertarian Stephen Alder's 1,058 votes -- well above the margin needed to prevail. Again, no one knows how those thousand votes would have gone had the libertarian not run. There's only 386 Libertarians registered to vote in the district.
Asked if he thought he cost Jeff Helfrich the election, Stephen Alder, the Libertarian candidate from House District 52 said, "I cant speak for Mrs. Williams' nor Mr. Helfrich's voters' choice. What I can say is that by my running against the two of them did not cause either to lose votes, the people chose the candidate that they felt was best. It was in the realm of possibility that I could change [the outcome] however, my candidacy was for changing the legislature and keeping people accountable for what they do." He added, "Libertarians don't take votes. We present ourselves as a viable alternative to the same old 'lesser of two evils'. Voting should not be a 'Sofie's choice'. You vote as your civic duty and vote your conscience."
Alder summarized by saying, "We are the American people not a red people or blue people, but rather a prism of thought and ideas." These races could have made a difference in how the 2021 session goes. It's worth remembering and coming back to. This facebook post by Rickey indicates that he could well make a difference again in 2022. Stay tuned.
Oregon has an ethical responsibility to safeguard the privacy of its citizens’ data
Is Your Private Information at Risk?
How many times have we heard about the state’s outdated technology? Unemployment benefits were held up for months and more recently we learned that the voting system is run on outdated systems. How does this affect the security of information? The growth in information technology has made it easier to collect personally identifiable information, which puts that information at increased risk of being compromised.
Privacy is such an important topic that some states have explicit privacy protections written into their constitutions. Oregon is not one of them. Reviewing 17 sectors shows the public sector takes the second longest to detect and contain a data breach. That longer response time results in increased exposure of compromised data.
According to an audit released by the Secretary of State, Oregon lacks a senior official responsible for managing data privacy, which increases the risk that private, personally identifiable information is not appropriately safeguarded. The findings are outlined in the report entitled: “The State Does Not Have A Privacy Program to Manage Enterprise Privacy Risk.”
State agencies collect and store personally identifiable information from virtually all Oregonians. This data includes health information, driving records, education data, and more. However, auditors found there is no statewide official charged with assessing the risks associated with processing that information and ensuring appropriate response strategies are in place.
As a result, the state has not established a privacy program to assess and respond to risk. The state has also not established guidance on incident response roles when security incidents arise that involve personally identifiable information.
“Oregon has an ethical responsibility to safeguard the privacy of its citizens’ data,” said Secretary of State Bev Clarno. “It is important that a senior official is charged with ensuring risks to data privacy are understood and addressed throughout the state.” Indeed, Clarno's Elections Director left his job just a few weeks ago, citing lack of spending on information technology infrastructure.
Even though a data privacy manager won’t cure the outdated technology issues, it could provide some transparency to the vulnerability of private information.
Experts would have you believe that the same threats of COVID-19 patients inundating hospitals from nine months ago still exist today. The message has been that our hospitals would have been overwhelmed if not for draconian lockdowns instituted by Kate Brown’s overreaching orders. Was it all for naught?
They can’t have it both ways. Either our draconian mitigation worked and voila, hospitals are fine or it did not work at all. And you cannot say that of the 30 grocery store patrons at Safeway, one single unmasked person set us all back. That line of thinking lacks logic and besides, there is zero evidence to that claim. According to Oregon Health Authority, Grocery stores are not on the list of major causes of outbreaks.
None of these questions posed negate the fact that the virus is real but how we are dealing with the facts deserves a broader discussion. After all, we are not being asked. We are being told to lockdown again.
What is compelling is to look at previous hospital capacity versus now. As of November 17, OHSU is reporting a total of 43 COVID patients for their three main hospitals. There are 12 patients already in hospital for other conditions and listed as previous in-house patients. It is hospital protocol to test every patient is regardless of symptoms in spite of accuracy problems plaguing asymptomatics. Better safe than sorry, right?
As an example, the OHA chart below is from June and shows 42 COVID-19 patients reported in hospital, which is only ONE more than today. What is the reason for the Big Freeze?
Between the Weekly Report published by OHA and this article on July 1, show there were more COVID hospitalizations reported months ago but the messaging then was that things were under control and survival rates had improved significantly.
“Under an agreement announced Monday, the Portland area’s four hospital systems -- Legacy Health, Kaiser Permanente, Providence Health & Services and OHSU, which includes Adventist Health Portland and Tuality Healthcare -- are working with the Oregon Health Authority in an unprecedented joint effort to coordinate beds, add capacity and share resources. Data specialists at OHSU and the Oregon Health Authority expect coronavirus cases to double every 6.2 days. By April 11, Oregon will need 1,000 hospital beds and 400 intensive care beds to serve those patients.” As we know these dire predictions did not materialize. We are not far from a normal year scenario for capacity which is 65-70%, according to data from AHA from previous three years and HHS, Oregon is at 70.4% for bed utilization. For a more in depth look, read more from Data Expert, Justin Hart with Rational Ground as he details other states' hospitalization scenarios.
In the long months that have passed, did Oregon’s metro hospitals not prepare for the threatened Fall wave? It is difficult to trust the same experts who gave us modeling projections that never materialized and know what the true impact of a 5% increase in bed utilization is.
Whatever happened to those unused field hospital beds? With CARES ACT funds still available as well as our own state revenue in the $2Bn range, could we not do something other than lockdown churches? You may recall the furloughs in Oregon's hospitals, have they neglected to restaff?
Or perhaps a more surreptitious explanation exists and that is Kate Brown refuses to relinquish her control on a highly politicized situation. Her collaboration with California and Washington, her digs at the current administration and demands for more federal stimulus funds support this theory.
Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash.com
House Democrats on Monday night designated Rep. Tina Kotek (D-Portland) to be their nominee for another term as the Speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives. Speaker Kotek issued the following statement this morning:
“I’m honored to have the supportof my caucus to continue serving Oregon and the chamber as House Speaker,” Kotek said. “Like every business and family in Oregon, the legislature has been moving from crisis to crisis since February. As we head into the 2021 session, we are facing a global pandemic, high unemployment, a billion-dollar budget hole, an expensive wildfire recovery, a severe housing shortage, and the everydayharmof systemic racism. All of these crises require urgent action and experienced leadership. I remain committed to continue working with every member to help all parts of the state to solve these immense challenges. Every legislator will need to bring all their compassion and empathy to the table. Together, we can build a better and more just Oregon."
Kotek, who was first elected to the Oregon Legislature in 2006, is the longest-serving House Speaker in Oregon history and became the first openly lesbian speaker of any state house in 2013. She will be officially nominated to serve her fifth term as House Speaker on Tuesday, January 19, 2021, the first day of the 81stOregon Legislative Assembly, when the full House of Representatives will elect the Speaker.
There were rumors of a challenge to the speakership by Representative Janelle Bynum (D-Portland) as well as internal discontent among many members, especially those of the Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) sub-caucus. The Democrat leadership is all white.
The Oregon Office of Economic Analysis has released it's December revenue forecast. They are predicting a speedy recovery, dependent on the course of the COVID-19 virus, prompting responses from several legislative leaders.
House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) used the forecast to call for a special session. “The COVID-19 pandemic is raging like never before in Oregon. Our economic recovery is fully dependent on getting this virus under control. As the state’s budget situation has stabilized and since Congress is unlikely to pass another relief package this year, I urge the Governor to declare a catastrophic disaster so the legislature can convene a remote special session in December.”
She also seems to be calling for the state to spend it's reserves to fund a temporary government housing program:
“We need to utilize some portion of the state’s reserves as soon as possible to help struggling Oregonians and small businesses through the winter months. I am particularly interested in seeing the state spend $100 million to keep Oregonians housed and stabilize the rental market as the pandemic continues into 2021.”
Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod (R-Lyons) had a different take, emphasizing that schools need to re-open. “Economists project the average income has dropped for households across Oregon. We would get a better outcome if we protected seniors and the vulnerable and opened the state, so the average family is able to thrive. For example, if schools reopen for all children, parents can re-enter the workforce, which boosts the economy.”
House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby) added, “Today’s forecast shows that our state economy is stable, but this is not a reflection of reality for most Oregonians who have been impacted by these shutdowns. The most recent “freeze” will hurt Oregonians and business owners, and make an already tenuous recovery even harder for families. Now more than ever we must protect jobs, support business growth, manage our reserves and control spending to ensure a long-term recovery for all of Oregon.”
Senate Majority Leader Rob Wagner (D-Lake Oswego) stressed equity and a hope for federal assistance, saying, “We cannot deny the disparate impact COVID-19 and the corresponding recession has had on low income Oregonians and marginalized populations. We must prioritize their needs as we work toward recovery and do everything possible to retain vital services and equitable delivery of those services. Congress needs to put the needs of the American people at the top of their to do list immediately. With federal assistance, we can adequately respond to this public health emergency and deliver financial lifelines for Oregonians in every corner of our state.”
The letter points out that "COVID-19 cases will ebb and flow over the next several months just as they have over the last several weeks. This metric is not a reliable indicator of the situation." Several experts have pointed out that increases in cases may be linked to testing quantity and quality, and not indicative of an increase in the severity of the outbreak.
It is time to re-evaluate the metrics and the ever-changing goal posts related to slowing the spread of COVID-19 in our rural, semi-rural, eastern and frontier communities. We have shut down for months, we have met the metrics required, we have followed the goal posts as they’ve moved, we have adhered to the rules, we have slowed the spread—and yet, our counties, communities, small businesses, K-12 schools, childcare and colleges, health departments and more, sit in a stale and stagnant state without forward progress. We have done and continue to do all that is within our capacity to slow the spread of COVID-19, and now, some of our border counties are being directly affected by decisions and actions from outside our state over which we have no control.
This is not a sustainable position for our communities.
The letter notes that current COVID-19 policies "disproportionally impact women, single-parent homes, rural communities and small businesses... students are struggling in their education as well as their mental and emotional fitness, families have been stressed to the maximum, and decade-old businesses that are the lifeblood of our Oregon communities have closed for good." Focusing on the impacts to various facets of society, the elected officials propose four areas for change:
1.Restaurants and bars: Our hospitality industry, restaurants and bars must be able to stay open. The data shared by OHA does not show any indication that our restaurants and bars are the cause of increased cases. In addition, our hospitality industry is responsible for employing tens of thousands and Oregonians and keeping our already-fragile economy moving. Our restaurants and bars need to be able to extend their hours beyond the arbitrary closing time of 10:00pm and need to safely expand their indoor occupancy especially as we head into the holiday season and winter when indoor restaurants, lodging and tourism activity will grow. We are at risk for nearly 40% of our remaining businesses closing in the next six months if we do not allow for reasonable expansion of these services and industries.
2.Schools: Our schools need to be allowed to fully re-open for in-classroom learning, and our students need to be allowed to participate in extracurricular activities. All teachers, students, staff, and volunteers that want to return to in-person learning should be able to do so in a safe manner. All teachers, students, staff, and volunteers that desire to continue CDL should be able to do so. If it is safe for college athletes to return to sports, assuredly it is safe for high school students. Parents need to be able to return to work, and our students and teachers need the stability of the classroom.
3.State Agencies: We need to reopen our state agencies at all levels, including and specifically DMVs, across the state. We would argue, and assume you would agree, that our state agencies and state employees are essential. These agencies are funded with public dollars and our public needs full access to these essential services.
4.Religious institutions: Release our churches and places of worship. While outliers will exist as the exception, most churches and places of worship will be and have been more than scrupulous in protecting their congregations from harm from COVID-19. Give pastors, religious leaders and governing boards the latitude to exercise their best judgement for safety.
The letter concludes:
We have a simple ask.
As the leaders chosen by Oregonians to represent their best interests and be their advocates, throughout and across our beautiful state, we would ask that the Governor and Governor’s office participate in these meetings and work with us, assess the proposals and plans we put forward, and consider the options we will be recommending for your consideration and approval.
We look forward to hearing from you soon.
The letter has been signed by lawmakers representing overwhelmingly rural areas.
Senator Lynn Findley, Senate District 30
Senator Bill Hansell, Senate District 29
Senator Kim Thatcher, Senate District 13
Senator Fred Girod, Senate District 9
Senator Brian Boquist, Senate District 12
Senator Chuck Thomsen, Senate District 26
Rep. Mark Owens, House District 60
Rep. Greg Barretto, House District 58
Rep. Raquel Moore-Green, House District 19
Rep. Shelly Boshart-Davis, House District 15
Rep.Vikki Breese-Iverson, House District 55
Rep. Mike Nearman, House District 23
Rep. Bill Post, House District 25
Rep. Rick Lewis, House District 18
Rep. Carl Wilson, House District 3
Rep. Elect and Commissioner Lily Morgan, House District 3
Rep-Elect Bobby Levy, House District 58
Bill Harvey Baker, County Commissioner
Mark Bennett Baker, County Commissioner
Bruce Nichols, Baker County Commissioner
Jerry Brummer, Crook County Commissioner
Patti Adair, Deschutes County Commissioner
Tony DeBone, Deschutes County Commissioner
Jim Hamsher, Grant County Commissioner
Sam Palmer, Grant County Commissioner
Pete Runnels, Harney County Commissioner
Patty Dorroh, Harney County Commissioner
Kristen Shelman, Harney County Commissioner
Mae Huston, Jefferson County Commissioner
Donnie Boyd, Klamath County Commissioner
Derrick DeGroot, Klamath County Commissioner
Kelley Minty Morris, Klamath County Commissioner
Mark Albertson, Lake County Commissioner
Brad Winters, Lake County Commissioner
James Williams, Lake County Commissioner
Donald Hodge, Malheur County Commissioner
Larry Wilson, Malheur County Commissioner
Dan Joyce, Malheur County Commissioner
Melissa Lindsay, Morrow County Commissioner
Don Russell, Morrow County Commissioner
Jim Doherty, Morrow County Commissioner
Todd Nash, Wallowa County Commissioner
Craig Pope, Polk County Commissioner
Bill Elfering, Umatilla County Commissioner
George Murdock, Umatilla County Commissioner
John Shafer, Umatilla County Commissioner
Paul Anderes, Union County Commissioner
Matt Scarfo, Union County Commissioner
Donna Beverage, Union County Commissioner
Susan Roberts, Wallowa County Commissioner
Mary Starrett, Yamhill County Commissioner
It is not uncommon during organizing efforts for employees to discuss the organizing effort, whether they support or oppose it, amongst themselves and to inquire of management perspectives. While every employee and certainly every member is entitled to their opinion on such an effort, it is important to recognize that employees have a right to discuss these matters. It is not appropriate, and contrary to state collective bargaining laws that protect union organizing efforts, for you in your role as appointing authority to attempt to influence or interfere in any way – in support or opposition. Any organizing effort is inherently an employee driven process and at this time, there is no action for the branch or you to take. As always, we encourage you to listen to the concerns, interests and needs of your staff, but in this circumstance, you should not engage in any discussion about the organizing activity.
State lawmakers are not regarded in law as "employers" of their staff. They are regarded as "appointing authority." Oregon Law does not mention "appointing authority." It's not clear whether any lawmaker, as "appointing authority" can "attempt to influence" the decision of their staff or the staff of other lawmakers to join or not join a union. It is not clear if such a memo is a restriction of the free speech and association rights of lawmakers.
Oregon law is clear on what is prohibited by employers and what is an unfair labor practice.
(a) Interfere with, restrain or coerce employees in or because of the exercise of rights guaranteed in ORS 243.662.
(b) Dominate, interfere with or assist in the formation, existence or administration of any employee organization.
(c) Discriminate in regard to hiring, tenure or any terms or condition of employment for the purpose of encouraging or discouraging membership in an employee organization. Nothing in this section is intended to prohibit the entering into of a fair-share agreement between a public employer and the exclusive bargaining representative of its employees. If a “fair-share” agreement has been agreed to by the public employer and exclusive representative, nothing prohibits the deduction of the payment-in-lieu-of-dues from the salaries or wages of the employees.
(d) Discharge or otherwise discriminate against an employee because the employee has signed or filed an affidavit, petition or complaint or has given information or testimony under ORS 243.650 to 243.806.
(e) Refuse to bargain collectively in good faith with the exclusive representative.
(f) Refuse or fail to comply with any provision of ORS 243.650 to 243.806.
(g) Violate the provisions of any written contract with respect to employment relations including an agreement to arbitrate or to accept the terms of an arbitration award, where previously the parties have agreed to accept arbitration awards as final and binding upon them.
(h) Refuse to reduce an agreement, reached as a result of collective bargaining, to writing and sign the resulting contract.
(i) Violate ORS 243.670 (2).
(j) Attempt to influence an employee to resign from or decline to obtain membership in a labor organization.
(k) Encourage an employee to revoke an authorization for the deductions described under ORS 243.806.
(2) Subject to the limitations set forth in this subsection, it is an unfair labor practice for a public employee or for a labor organization or its designated representative to do any of the following:
(a) Interfere with, restrain or coerce any employee in or because of the exercise of any right guaranteed under ORS 243.650 to 243.806.
(b) Refuse to bargain collectively in good faith with the public employer if the labor organization is an exclusive representative.
(c) Refuse or fail to comply with any provision of ORS 243.650 to 243.806.
(d) Violate the provisions of any written contract with respect to employment relations, including an agreement to arbitrate or to accept the terms of an arbitration award, where previously the parties have agreed to accept arbitration awards as final and binding upon them.
(e) Refuse to reduce an agreement, reached as a result of collective bargaining, to writing and sign the resulting contract.
Perhaps most significant is that the letter calls out the executive branch for ignoring science -- the very science that they claim their orders are based on:
We recognize the threat that COVID-19 poses to our community and support data driven decisions to limit the spread of this disease, but we do not support the mandate to close gyms, churches, and restaurants as it is not supported by historical data and will only address a small fraction of Oregon’s COVID cases at the cost of thousands of jobs and hundreds of businesses.
Combined, cases that can be traced back to churches, restaurants and gyms make up less than 1% of all the recorded COVID cases in Oregon. Quite simply, there is no actual evidence that restaurants, gyms or churches are driving COVID in our community. In fact, because of the adherence to mask wearing and social distancing, these establishments have been some of the safest in the state.
The closure of these establishments ensures more jobs are lost and Oregonians are left only to rely on a broken unemployment system. Our neighbors and friends won’t be able to pay their mortgages, pay their rent, or buy Christmas presents for their children because of this decision. This is wrong.
In a statement that perhaps best highlights the insensitivity and lack of compassion of the Governor's order and her handling of the COVID-19 outbreak in general, the letter continues:
Furthermore, we are concerned with the violation of our privacy as the state police and local law enforcement agencies are being ordered to investigate and criminally charge Oregonians based on the number of people they invite into their homes. Legality questions aside, with depression and anxiety levels at an all-time high, creating a new crime to visit your family only hinders those struggling with their mental health.
Data shows us that COVID has been spreading at private social gatherings, and we call on our fellow citizens to be careful and social distance when gathering over the holidays, but we cannot and will not support any attempt by any police agency to violate the sacred space of any Oregonian’s home.
The letter has been signed by the following elected officials:
Bill Post – State Representative, House District 25
Colm Willis, Marion County Commissioner
Rick Lewis – State Representative, House District 18
David Brock Smith – State Representative, House District 1
Raquel Moore-Green – State Representative, House District 19
Mark Owens – State Representative, House District 60
Mike Nearman – State Representative, House District 23
Jim Yon – Linn County Sheriff
Tim Knopp – State Senator, Senate District 27
Jack Zika – State Representative, House District 53
Cathy Clark, Mayor of Keizer
Craig Pope, Polk County Commissioner
Danielle Bethell, Marion County Commissioner Elect
Lyle Mordhorst, Polk County Commissioner
The Governor’s Executive Order 20-65 for lockdown to December 2 calls for enforcement subject to 30 days in jail or a fine of $1,250 or both. The problem the Governor has is that she can only direct enforcement by the Oregon State Police. So, to intimidate compliance, she has convinced the Oregon State Sheriffs’ Association and the Oregon Association of Chiefs of Police to support the Oregon State Police in the following public statement. But, somehow it acknowledges the lack of enforcement and is just begging compliance.
Oregonians have a strong tradition of unifying to protect the most vulnerable members of our communities. As your fellow community members, please join us in adhering to the Governor’s Executive Order during the two-week Coronavirus freeze. As your Oregon Law Enforcement professionals, our primary objective throughout the Coronavirus pandemic has been to take an education first approach and to seek voluntary compliance with each Executive Order. We recognize the inconvenience the pandemic and subsequent restrictions have caused all of us. We also know that the risk to our most vulnerable populations is extremely high at this time and we urge everyone to follow these restrictions in order to protect them. After all, we are all in this together.
With the issuance of the latest Executive Order, Oregon Law enforcement will continue to follow an education first approach. Oregon Law Enforcement will only take enforcement action (criminal citations) as a last resort. As with most enforcement decision making, discretion will be used if/when any Executive Order enforcement action is taken. Oregon Law Enforcement recognizes that we cannot arrest or enforce our way out of the pandemic. We can however work together in following these restrictions to make our communities a safer and healthy place.
We include the following recommendations when it comes to reporting Executive Order violations.
Business/workplace violations-Please report these to Oregon OSHA.
Restaurant/Bars-Please report these violations to OSHA or OLCC.
Oregon Law Enforcement is faced with many challenges one of which is typically receiving more police calls for service than available resources to respond. Because of this, we ask the public to follow the above-mentioned recommendations for reporting alleged violations of the Executive Order.
At the Northwest Observer, we wish you and yours a very joyful -- and safe -- holiday season, with minimal involuntary interactions with law enforcement.
Informal social gatherings -- including Thanksgiving dinner -- are targeted
In case you missed it on Friday the 13, the rumors you've been seeing on social media are true. The video below should un-debunk -- or whatever the proper term is -- any conspiracy theories out there that are saying that Governor Brown is going to send law enforcement out against Thanksgiving gatherings.
Yes, that's right. It's true. She said it. And she might send the state police after you. If you're an individual, your mother -- er, your Governor -- is not asking you. She's telling you to stop with the informal get-togethers, including Thanksgiving dinner, as she made clear in her executive order. If you're a business, you have until Wednesday to begin to follow stricter guidlines for two weeks, or whenever she reviews the situation and decides that you can go back to regular business.
This is a transcript of the short 50 second video below:
In terms of individuals, I am not asking you. I am telling you to stop your social gatherings, your informal social gatherings, and your house parties and to limit your social interactions to six and under -- not more than one household -- and I'm asking that immeadiately. I will take stronger legal action as appropriate. I've already directed the superintendent of state police to begin to work with local law enforcement to legally enforce the informal social gathering orders.
All this, despite the fact that many people have pointed out that some of her policies lack scientific foundation. All her policies lack transparency, as she is refusing to honor any public records requests made of her COVID council.
The Northwest Observer will continue to operate during the shutdown, protected by the fact that we are an entirely virtual operation and protected by the first amendment to the US Constitution. If you have any experience with law enforcement regarding the shutdown or social gatherings, please drop us a line at email@example.com