During the legislative session, I think the Capitol building should be...
Closed to the public
Open in a very limited way to a small group
Open to everyone
Northwest Observer
Subscribe for Free Email Updates
Name:
Email:
Search Articles
       
ODOT Extends Deadlines
Driver license, vehicle tag grace period extended into 2021

Oregon residents with a vehicle registration, permit or driver license expiring between Nov. 1, 2020, and April 30, 2021, have up to three months after their expiration date without being cited by law enforcement for an expired license or tags.

The Oregon Department of Transportation and Oregon law enforcement agencies agreed to the new grace period as DMV catches up with a backlog due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Under the agreement, Oregon law enforcement officers will exercise more discretion for recently expired licenses and registration before choosing whether to write a citation. Law enforcement can verify the status of a driver or vehicle registration electronically during a traffic stop.

A law enforcement moratorium under Senate Bill 1601 from an Oregon Special Legislative Session last summer will expire Dec. 31. Under that legislation, a police officer cannot issue a citation for the following DMV products if they expired between March 1 and Dec. 31, 2020: DMV offices are open by appointment -- mostly those that require in-person visits such as driver license and other identification card-related services. In some parts of Oregon, the first available appointment may be two months out, so don’t wait until the last minute to schedule your appointment.

A D V E R T I S E M E N T

A D V E R T I S E M E N T

As DMV catches up with the backlog, more services will become available by appointment. They do not yet know when walk-in services can resume, but some appointments for vehicle title and registration are available now. You can visit www.OregonDMV.com for a complete list of services available by office.


--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2020-12-27 19:07:27Last Update: 2020-12-27 19:15:46



Kate Brown Appoints Lane County Judge
Appointment is effective January 1

Oregon's Governor Kate Brown has announced that she will appoint Stephen Morgan to the Lane County Circuit Court. Morgan will fill a vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Ilisa Rooke-Ley, who is retiring at the end of this month. The appointment is effective January 1, 2021.

“Stephen Morgan brings a tremendous amount of experience and compassion to the bench, he has spent his career prosecuting the most egregious cases of domestic violence, child abuse, and sexual assault. Through this work, he has served the community’s most vulnerable through a trauma-informed lens and has given victims a voice in our criminal justice system.”

Morgan is a deputy district attorney in the Lane County District Attorney’s Office, where he leads the domestic violence trial team that he helped create in 2008. He joined the District Attorney's Office in 2002 and has prosecuted a spectrum of cases from homicide and robbery to child abuse and domestic violence. An active member of the community, he mentors law students, served on the board of the Eugene Timbers Futbol Club, and is a member of the Lane County Domestic Violence Council. Morgan was raised by his mother in Madras, Oregon, and joined the Marine Reserves after graduating high school. He obtained his bachelor’s degree and law degree from the University of Oregon. In between earning these degrees, he taught English in Taiwan for two years and traveled extensively before settling in Eugene—the community he has called home for nearly two decades.

No photo of Morgan was available at the time of this publication.


--Ben Fisher

Post Date: 2020-12-27 17:00:31Last Update: 2020-12-27 20:47:15



The 2021 Session: Vaccine Law Will Be Discussed
OFMF describes their struggle in terms of civil rights

As in the past few sessions, the issue of vaccines and the requirements that they be administered is likely to be an issue for the upcoming legislative session. Vaccines have two characteristics that separate them from most other forms of medical treatment. First, they are less regulated that other methods of treatment, most notably in that you are not legally able to sue a vaccine manufacturer, and second that the administration of vaccines is more likely to be mandatory than other medical treatment. Because of these two factors, vaccine laws rightly come under increased scrutiny. The introduction of COVID-19 vaccines increases the volume in this conversation, and, not surprisingly, issues of equality and fairness make their way into the conversation.

Oregonians for Medical Freedom is a non-profit organization working to protect current vaccine exemptions, promote informed consent rights, and preserve medical privacy for all Oregonians. The organization represents more than 35,000 Oregon children, and is comprised of medical professionals, educators, parents, and citizens concerned with upholding the medical ethic of informed consent. They put out this statement:

As we quickly approach the 2021 regular session, Oregonians For Medical Freedom is re-establishing our commitment to anti-racisms and anti-discrimination in medical care with the peaceful redress of grievances and upholding equitable medical decisions for all. We also re-commit our focus to informed consent, and equal access to healthcare for those who are at highest risk.

We are prepared to fight for our disenfranchised and disadvantaged communities, while knowing that LC1701 will soon have a bill number and the public will most likely be excluded from the building during the regular session. We are also preparing to prevail, yet again, and prevent this terrible legislation from allowing intolerable discriminating of our most vulnerable population as people of color are disproportionately affected by vaccine side effects.

We're excited to announce that our new Board Members have hit the ground running, and are actively working behind the scenes to fortify relationships with lawmakers and advocacy groups alike. Our team is coordinating with the best and the brightest within our legal community as well as our healthcare industry. From first responders to law enforcement, Oregonians For Medical Freedom is teaming up to support and protect health choice for all.

We have a tremendous journey ahead in order to secure the right of bodily autonomy and basic human rights. With this in mind, we call upon every Oregonian to take a peaceful stand with us, and to kindly help educate our lawmakers who have a history of defending non-equitable healthcare policies; be it while serving on school boards, or whilst serving in the legislature.

OFMF describes their struggle in terms of civil rights, recalling the Tuskegee experiments, in which blacks were subjected to experiments involving untreated syphilis and the Holocaust.


--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2020-12-27 10:34:49Last Update: 2020-12-28 08:02:14



Random Bat Attacks in Portland
Suspect arrested with baseball bat

On December 22nd 2020, at approximately 10:36 p.m., North Precinct officers responded to the 1100 block of Northeast Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard on reports of an individual who had been struck in the head with a baseball bat. Officers arrived on scene and learned a victim was walking down the street when they were struck on the head by an unknown male with a baseball bat. An intricate description of the suspect was given to officers by the victim. After hearing the description of the suspect, officers conducted an area check but were unable to locate him.

On December 23, 2020, at approximately 12:02 a.m., North Precinct officers responded to the Rosa Parks Transit Station located in the 6500 block of North Interstate Avenue on reports of an individual who had attacked several people with a baseball bat. Officers arrived on scene and learned an individual with a baseball bat had struck two victims as well as broke a TriMet Max Train window. The individual had left the scene prior to officer's arrival and was not located. The victims told responding officers that the suspect had struck them with a baseball bat on the shoulders and head as they exited the Max Train. The description given to officers of the suspect matched that of the suspect from the earlier call on Northeast Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard. Both victims were treated at an area hospital for the injuries they sustained during the incident.

Later in the morning, Central Precinct officers received separate calls of an individual attacking people with a baseball bat near the 500 block of Northeast Glisan Street. When officers arrived on scene, they were unable to locate the suspect or any victims. At 11:53 a.m., another call came in regarding the same individual and officers were able to locate and contact him. The suspect, 53-year-old Trendlon Deneishel Kimp Brewer, was wearing a backpack which had a baseball bat sticking out from inside of it. As officers took Brewer into custody, he swung at an officer, striking their cheekbone. The officer sustained a minor injury.

Brewer was booked into the Multnomah County Detention Center on charges of three counts of Assault 2, three counts of Unlawful Use of a Weapon, Assaulting a Public Safety Officer, Interfering with a Peace Officer, and Disorderly Conduct II.

The investigation of these incidents continues to be ongoing. It is believed there may be more victims that may not have reported a similar incident.


--Ben Fisher

Post Date: 2020-12-26 09:21:49Last Update: 2020-12-28 17:06:50



Extended Producer Responsibility
Look for the party in power to move bills on this.

What is Extended Producer Responsibility? This is the latest buzz phrase for the 2021 session. The EPR could just as easily stand for Environment Production Restrictions. The concept requires manufacturers to manage or pay for the full life cycle of a product, known as managing the product from “cradle to grave.”

Initially, the concept was created to help manage products that are difficult or hazardous to dispose of such as batteries, paint, mattresses, and electronics. Recently plastics has been on the agenda. EPR operates by requiring consumers to pay a transparent fee at the point of purchase that covers the cost of disposal or recycling of the product. It became complicated when paint was added as an EPR.

In 2009 Oregon became the first state in the nation to enact a law requiring architectural paint manufacturers to start a program to reduce paint waste, increase reuse and recycling, and safely dispose of remaining unusable paint and other coatings. It was designed to coordinate with local waste collection programs, saving local governments money in transportation and disposal costs. The paint EPR started as a pilot and now is managed by a third party, PaintCare, that provides outreach and consumer education. Paint is a waste hazard that makes up the largest volume of household waste. The program resolved waste of an estimated 750,000 gallons of unused paint per year.

The proposed EPR program has no standards for being a hazard or being difficult to dispose. It proposes that businesses manage all aspects of recycling materials with no shared responsibility with consumers or recyclers. A good program must have shared responsibility between all parties, improve recycling and the supporting infrastructure, improve product packaging, and educate consumers on recycling. Opposition from local governments could be strong not wanting to increase costs for rate payers, and waste haulers will not want to lose potential revenue. Materials that have developed their own avenue for disposal will want an exclusion: glass will want out because of the bottle bill. Metals and paper will want out because of developed markets and plastics will have concerns about the cost of the program.

EPR makes some sense with high-hazard, low-value items such as used car batteries. It makes less sense with low-hazard items such as plastic. As with single-use shopping bags, legislation puts a mandated price on the item, stripping free market decisions from businesses. The concept is an environmental push to control the ingenuity of the free market and makes little sense while businesses struggle to recover from multiple shut-downs.


--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2020-12-26 06:27:42Last Update: 2020-12-27 15:01:07



Businesses to Pay Higher Unemployment Insurance
As if the lockdowns weren’t bad enough

As lockdowns continue to put pressure on small businesses -- causing over one quarter of them to fold since the start of the COVID-19 epidemic -- another shoe is dropping for the new year. Unemployment insurance rates are going up and are expected to increase for over 85% of businesses in the state.

In Oregon, as in many states, the unemployment compensation system is run as an insurance system in which employers pay a percentage of the employee's salary into a fund from which unemployment benefits are paid out when an employee becomes unemployed. The percentage is based on an experience rating -- or how often and how much employees of the employer access the fund -- and for new employers without any experience rating, the rate is 2.6%.

It works much like car insurance. If you get a lot of accidents and tickets, your insurance rates go up. Just as the fear of rising car insurance rates will keep most drivers in line, fear of rising unemployment insurance rates will cause employers to monitor their behavior with their employees to minimize rate increases.

At this time, businesses -- especially small businesses -- are having a hard time with the increases. First, the lockdowns have placed many of them in a position of hardship and having an increase in any expense is tough on them. Then, businesses point out that the unemployment that they've had recently was out of their control and shouldn't fairly reflect in their experience rating. In their recent unemployment report the Oregon Employment Department noted that the unemployment rate in Oregon dropped below the national rate in November 2020, but dark clouds loom.

“On Nov. 18th, Oregon implemented a ‘freeze’ to combat the rise of COVID-19 in the state. This employment press release covers Oregon’s employment situation just prior to the ongoing freeze, which has affected employers and tens of thousands of workers in recent weeks,” said Gail Krumenauer, State Employment Economist with the Oregon Employment Department. The November jobless drop was based on 4,200 jobs. Job losses in the "tens of thousands" will again put Oregon out of step with the rest of the nation.

It's becoming increasingly hard to fathom the cruelty of a state which mandates a shutdown, impairing the ability of businesses to make money and then, as if to rub salt in the wound, the same state that mandated the shutdown raises your rates.




--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2020-12-25 15:52:12Last Update: 2020-12-25 18:39:44



Clackamas County Offers Grant to Minority and LGBTQ+ Business
Must be owned by people who identify as LGBTQ+, BIPOC, or both

According to the web page for Clackamas County, "In recognition of the disparate impact that COVID has had on LGBTQ+ and BIPOC communities, the Clackamas County Queers and Allies Employee Resource Group has reallocated the funds that would have supported our participation in the Portland Pride Parade to support local business." LGBTQ+ stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered and Queer. BIPOC stands for Black, Indigenous and People of Color. The county will make a one-time award to one business that matches their eligibility and preference criteria.

To be eligible, a business must be: Preference may be given to: The project is being driven by Clackamas County Queers and Allies Employee Resource Group.

The application for the award asks applicants to tell "a little bit about the identities of the business owner(s) and how they meet our criteria (LGBTQ+ and/or BIPOC), as well as intersectional marginalized identities (i.e. class, gender, ability, etc.)," but does not indicate that any supporting documentation or proof will be required. The Oregon Health Authority reports statistics on cases, hospitalizations and deaths on their website by race, but it's not clear what the statistics and claims for LGBTQ+ persons are based on.


--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2020-12-25 13:16:30Last Update: 2020-12-25 13:52:22



Oregon FEMA Temporary Housing Update
Some have located alternate assistance

As families, communities and businesses continue to recover from September’s devastating wildfires, FEMA’s Direct Temporary Housing mission, providing temporary housing to qualified disaster survivors in Jackson, Lincoln, Linn and Marion Counties, moves steadily forward.

Thirty-three Jackson County families whose homes were severely damaged or destroyed by this year’s wildfires have been licensed-in to temporary housing units from FEMA. These units are placed in established RV parks in Central Point and Gold Hill. At the Gold Hill site, thirty-nine units are in various stages of installation and three families have already been licensed-in.

In Marion and Linn counties, two construction projects for temporary housing group sites are scheduled to begin in early January. In Lincoln County, FEMA is in the process of negotiating a lease for one site to place temporary housing for the approximately 20 eligible families in that county.

Beginning Christmas Eve, Jackson County survivor families will start licensing-in at FEMA’s first group site in White City. This site will hold 23 mobile homes, several of which have been built to meet the Uniform Federal Accessibility Standard for persons with disabilities or Access and Functional Needs.

Currently, some 220 qualified families are scheduled to receive FEMA Direct Temporary Housing in the four counties. The current number of qualified families has fallen as many households that qualified for this assistance have located alternate temporary or permanent housing on their own.

Direct Temporary Housing is provided to survivors for up to 18 months from the date of the disaster declaration (March 2022).


--Ben Fisher

Post Date: 2020-12-25 09:12:19Last Update: 2020-12-25 09:21:49



Revised School Metrics Are Out
Kate Brown claims schools can reopen -- maybe February

The trap is set...

On Monday December 21, 2020, a bill was passed in the legislature's third special session granting limited liability to K-12 public and private education facilities. HB 4402 "limits liability of school districts, union high schools, education service districts, public charter schools, private schools providing instruction to any grade from kindergarten through grade 12 and community colleges for certain claims arising during COVID-19 emergency period. Prohibits certain private employers from engaging in retaliatory conduct relating to protected activities taken by employee during COVID-19 emergency period. Declares emergency, effective on passage".

The bill is equal parts whistleblower protection and limited liability for schools from anything COVID-19 related. The bill provides protection from retaliation for any employee of private employers who report COVID-19 related violations of policy or guidance. Within 48 hours, clarity regarding why whistleblower protection was added became a bit clearer.

On the heels of this, Oregon Governor Kate Brown made a joint announcement with the Oregon Department of Education giving back certain decision making powers over to local control. The announcement claims that "effective January 1, 2021, Oregon’s COVID-19 Health Metrics for Returning to In-Person Instruction will become advisory rather than mandatory. Moving forward, the decision to resume in-person instruction must be made locally, district by district, school by school. In addition to schools continuing to adhere to required health and safety protocols and working in close consultation with their local public health authority in understanding and considering the metrics, teachers, school staff, parents and students should be engaged in this decision-making process to allow schools to make the best choice for their community and their students."

But there's a caveat. In order to maintain limited liability status, educational institutions will be required to meet the new metrics, and recommendations of the Ready Schools Safe Learners guidance handbook. Exposure has been redefined to mean "An individual who has close contact (less than 6 feet) for longer than 15 cumulative minutes in a day with a person who has COVID-19 case"(emphasis added). Additionally, metrics have moved away from positive case counts to include "County Case Rate", and "County Case Count". The rate or count is a total number of both presumptive and positive cases for the entire county. The Oregon Health Authority stopped disclosing false positive and negative test data months ago, and as new trackers and tracers are hired, anyone who has potentially had exposure is a new case until the currently approved PCR testing, claims otherwise.

Essentially Johnny might be a presumptive case, and Susie stands next to Johnny for five minutes while lined up to walk inside school. Johnny and Susie spend another ten minutes near each other – at less than 6ft apart – and bam! Susie is now a new COVID-19 case due to the new definition of exposure, which is no longer dependent on positive test results. We've effectively kicked the goalposts down field from measuring death, to positive tests, and now to 15 cumulative minutes in a day near someone who might have COVID-19. How would these interactions be traced or even reported? Perhaps by a disgruntled employee? Maybe a teacher or substitute teacher who disagrees with the return to in-person instruction? The whistleblower protection aspect of HB4022 ensures no retaliation for those employed by private (not public) employers. Questions remain regarding private faith-based teaching institutions, and whether these increasingly bizarre metrics or employee protections place a target on faith-based, in-person teaching.

Puzzling to some observers was the participation in this conversation by the Oregon Education Association which was widely believed to have opposed HB 4402, presumably based on their desire to keep schools closed until their demands for even more money are met. Indeed, some insiders reported that Speaker Kotek misrepresented the number of votes she had for passage of the bill, hoping to get Republicans to vote yes, so that more Democrats could vote against the bill -- supporting the wishes of the OEA and the Trial Lawyers' Association, both big donors to Democrats.

Ultimately the decision will be left to local superintendents and school boards. However, if they make the wrong decision, they might just lose their liability insurance or indemnification.



This feels like an appropriate time to remind readers that the directors of the Oregon Health Authority and the Oregon Department of Education – Governor Brown's so called "experts" – were appointed to their positions by Brown. Pat Allen of the OHA is no more a Doctor or Scientist, than Colt Gill the ODE director is an educator.

Just in case you're quietly shaking your head, wondering which Loony-Toon character is creating these policies, don’t question your own sanity.


--Breeauna Sagdal

Post Date: 2020-12-24 14:41:16Last Update: 2020-12-24 21:23:08



Oregon Growth Board Spends $350,000
Should they be choosing the winners and losers?

During its most recent meeting, the Oregon Growth Board (OGB) committed $350,000 to the Include Venture Group for its new Black Founders Matter Fund I (BFM). The investment represents the latest effort by the Board to leverage the Oregon Growth Fund (OGF) to support local emerging fund managers. The Oregon Growth Board is staffed by Business Oregon, and Business Oregon manages the programs overseen by the Board.

Recently founded by Himalaya Rao-Potlapally and Marceau Michel, Include Venture Group is launching a series of Venture Capital funds seeking to invest mainly in under-served and underrepresented entrepreneurs in Oregon. BFM’s mission is to demonstrate — through capital returns — the ability of Black and minority entrepreneurs to help to solve societal problems through their innovative and differently-lived perspective. The fund aims to add diversity into a largely non-diverse funding ecosystem.

“This is a big step forward for our Fund and our state,” said Marceau Michel, co-founder of Include Venture Group. “Partnering with OGB has been a goal since the inception of our Fund. We appreciate their confidence in ...investing in Black and under-served entrepreneurs. As Oregon continues to create more economic opportunities for all — especially those historically left behind — this investment in our Fund encourages us for what the future holds. We are looking forward to a long and fruitful relationship with OGB.”

The OGF is the Board’s prime economic development tool, it’s been used to fund Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), and other approaches to support Oregon entrepreneurs. First-time fund managers traditionally struggle to fund-raise due to a lack of an established track record, so the OGF invests in promising emerging fund managers to help them overcome that.

Reacting to the COVID crisis in March they forgave outstanding loans to CDFI partners.

A D V E R T I S E M E N T

A D V E R T I S E M E N T

Critics of Oregon's current leadership have expressed skepticism of whether this is such a good idea, and that it may be another well intended government failure in the works. Perhaps the free market is not as broken as some community organizers would like others to believe. This investment seems in line with much recent legislation championed by Oregon Democrats, a party that is growing increasing out of touch with the average Oregonian.


--Ben Fisher

Post Date: 2020-12-24 11:46:10Last Update: 2020-12-24 12:47:12



Polk County Commisioners Release Statement on Reopening
Encourage local leaders to join in reopening plan

The Polk County Board of Commissioners has released the following statement:

The Polk County Board of Commissioners would like to encourage city, county and state officials, as well as local chambers, councils and business leaders, to join us in supporting the business reopening plan recently submitted to Oregon’s Governor and state lawmakers by the Oregon State Chamber of Commerce (OSCC). The clear and concise plan details the basis for this timely and profound recommendation that aims to help our businesses hardest hit by COVID-19, to pull through this economic recession and overcome their financial hardships.

“The last nine months have been challenging. As County Commissioners we share the frustration that our local businesses, families and residents are dealing with. Now more than ever our local businesses need all of our support. Today, I am asking you to join us in supporting the plan presented by the Oregon State Chamber of Commerce. It is a statewide effort that is focused on positive results for our local business communities.” Commented Commissioner Lyle Mordhorst.

Many of our small business communities have been the unfortunate victims of this pandemic, and they need your attention and support right now! While there have been some City, County, State and Federal COVID-Relief loans, grants and programs offered, there has simply not been enough funding to go around, or really help these businesses survive this storm. Click here for the link to read the entire statement and plan. Below is an excerpt of the conclusion and proposed plan from the OSCC statement.

“The Oregon State Chamber of Commerce (OSCC) is stating as clearly and plainly as possible: Local businesses need to be made whole, and they need to be able to re-open for business now.

The Oregon State Chamber of Commerce comes to this conclusion by way of the following:

To help give our local businesses equal consideration, the OSCC and our Chamber members across Oregon are calling for:

“OSCC is calling on Governor Brown and lawmakers to give local businesses and their employees the same consideration given to others during the Covid-19 pandemic. Local businesses and their employees have shouldered the largest costs imposed by state government and now is the time to help them recover.”


--Ben Fisher

Post Date: 2020-12-24 07:59:18Last Update: 2020-12-27 14:48:31



Republican Drazan Says Democrats Silencing Ideas
People of Oregon cannot continue to pay the price

Oregon House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby) has released the following statement on the unprecedented silencing of ideas during the third special session:

“The destruction of property and violence during protests under the banner of any cause is unacceptable and must end. But, while state troopers defended the Capitol building from violence at our door, Democrats were attacking our legislative process from within. In an unprecedented, surprise move, Democrat leadership refused to allow any motions to adopt amendments to the eviction moratorium bill. To be clear, other legislation was amended in committee, but this legislation stood alone—there would be no motions made or accepted to amend. The votes were theirs—democrat leaders control it all. But in this special session, it was not enough to control outcomes. They chose to silence ideas.

As Oregonians who were locked out of the building, protested and demanded their rightful place in the halls of government, democrat leaders locked the minority party out of the lawmaking process inside the building.

We came to the Capitol to pass meaningful and productive legislation for hardworking and hurting Oregonians. Communities ravaged by wildfires, small businesses, schools, renters and housing providers needed help and we responded with bipartisan support. We continued funding for Oregon’s COVID response and provided critical COVID liability protections for our schools—a key step to safely reopening to in-person learning. But the people of Oregon cannot continue to pay the price, with a closed Capitol, closed meetings and backroom deals. This must end.

The legislature must be responsive, transparent and accessible. We have more work to do for Oregonians and they must be at the table. It is their right to fully participate. It is their right to come to the Capitol to stand on their principles and through testimony or protest, challenge the status quo and change the course of our state. The secrecy, the backroom deals and the suppression of public participation and minority party input must not and cannot continue in the 2021 Legislative Session. I hope Speaker Kotek and President Courtney will renew their commitment to a transparent and accessible Legislature as we work to support Oregonians next year. The Legislature is the people’s branch, and it’s time it started operating that way.”


--Ben Fisher

Post Date: 2020-12-24 07:16:25Last Update: 2020-12-24 08:14:33



Read More Articles