What topic needs to be discussed most in the upcoming Governor's race?
Second Amendment
Abortion/life issues
COVID response
Northwest Observer
Subscribe for Free Email Updates
Search Articles
Vaccine Approval a Matter of Question
Not the first time the OHA has come under fire for accuracy

In a Cease and Desist Letter, obtained by Northwest Observer, and dated February 15, 2021 Attorney Robert Snee of Beaverton, Oregon alerted Patrick Allen, Director of the Oregon Health Authority that the State agency under Allen's leadership has posted inaccurate and misleading content in violation of federal law, which could lead to the Vaccine Manufacturer's having their EUA status revoked.

"In violation of federal law, part of your social media messaging falsely claims that the FDA “approved” two COVID-19 vaccines. This representation is a direct violation of the conditions under which the authorizations for emergency use were granted to Pfizer and Moderna and could endanger the continuance of those authorizations. On behalf of my client and several concerned Oregonians, I hereby demand that you remove all the false claims outlined previously and herein, and issue a correction no later than 5:00 pm Thursday, February 18, 2021".

This is the second Cease and Desist letter sent by Snee to Director Allen, the first was dated January 24, 2021. Pat Allen has yet to issue a retraction, or correction, placing OHA in violation of the law, and placing both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines at risk of losing their EUA (Emergency Use Authorization) status under the Food and Drug Administration.

The Cease and Desist Letter clearly outlines EUA law stating:

"The Secretary, through the FDA’s authorizations for both of the two COVID-19 vaccines currently in use pursuant to the EUAs, expressly provide that the vaccines are each “an investigational vaccine not licensed for any indication” and require that “[a]ll promotional material relating to the COVID-19 Vaccine clearly and conspicuously state that this product has not been approved or licensed by the FDA.”

Claims have been made by the Oregon Health Authority regarding the "COVID-19 vaccines, which have not yet been evaluated by the FDA. These claims can be found on various graphics, in addition to claims made during press conferences and live videos.

"In violation of federal law, the state’s official promotional graphic and message described in my January 24, 2021 letter, falsely claim the COVID-19 vaccines have been “approved by the FDA” which is not only categorically false, but is also directly prohibited by the conditions for the promotion of this product under 21 U.S.C. 360bbb- 3(e)(4) and related federal law and regulations." "The federal statute that authorizes the FDA to grant an emergency use authorization, Section 564 of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, codified at 21 U.S.C. 360bbb-3, states that “[t]he Secretary may establish conditions on advertisements and other promotional descriptive printed matter that relate to the emergency use of a product for which an authorization under this section is issued.” 21 U.S.C. 360bbb-3(e)(4)."

Pat Allen has not complied, nor has Allen responded to the Cease and Desist, despite the threat of litigation: "Failure to do so will result in a lawsuit on behalf of my clients seeking an injunction to force your compliance with the applicable federal law."

This is not the first time the Oregon Health Authority has come under fire for transparency, or accuracy issues. Just last month the OHA reporting portal for COVID-19 deaths and cases, was found to be unsecured, lacking any type of password protections to make a report. Additionally the Oregon Health Authority has been under constant fire for denying public records requests, failure to disclose testing data, and most recently for making a decision to stop sharing detailed death reporting information.

It's unclear if the State will spend more tax dollars, to fight this in court, or if Pat Allen will instead choose to follow the law, and correct the misinformation.

--Breeauna Sagdal

Post Date: 2021-02-15 17:10:36Last Update: 2021-02-17 14:54:16

Leftist Protesters Overwhelm Portland Police Officers During Storm
Medical clinic also vandalized

A small protest caused delayed police response and ended with some broken windows and more in downtown Portland.

On Friday, February 12, 2021 at about 8:00p.m., a protest of about 30-50 people gathered at Director Park, 815 Southwest Park Avenue. The group marched to Central Precinct at 1111 Southwest 2nd Avenue, where the group began throwing objects and yelling at officers. There were police vehicles parked outside the precinct. As officers went out to move their cars in an effort to prevent them from being damaged, the officers were pelted with icy snowballs by participants.

In an effort to avoid confrontation and de-escalate the situation, and due to lack of available resources, officers remained out of sight as much as possible. However, officers were forced to monitor in case the group became more violent or caused damage to city property. While officers were occupied with that, there were calls stacking up in the precinct, including numerous calls for welfare checks on houseless community members who were exposed to the frigid weather. Among other duties, officers were facilitating getting those individuals to warming shelters if they wished.

The precinct, which is the only police facility open to the public 24 hours a day, was locked for security.

As officers from other precincts approached to access the intake for the Multnomah County Detention Center, the hostile group surrounded their cars. Traffic was very limited due to the treacherous weather, but the group stood in the street blocking the way.

At about 10:45p.m., the group went on a short march. Officers discovered that windows were broken by participants of the crowd during the march. A coffee shop in the 1300 block of Southwest 3rd Avenue and a medical clinic in the 900 block of Southwest 5th Avenue were damaged.

The crowd dissipated by 11:30p.m. No arrests have been made and no one was injured. If anyone has information about the suspects who vandalized the businesses or harassed officers, please refer to case number 21-39817 to the Portland Police.

The staff here at Northwest Observer apologize for any technical difficulties as many of us are currently experiencing fallout from this historic ice storm which hit the Pacific Northwest region on Friday, February 12th. The storm has caused severe damage in many areas and has prompted the Oregon Governor Kate Brown to declare an emergency. The Northwest Observer will continue to bring you important updates.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-02-14 20:51:15Last Update: 2021-02-14 21:13:59

Oregons Unfunded Mandate Provision
The state may not impose requirements on municipalities, without support

In 1995, the Oregon Legislature referred Ballot Measure 30 to the voters -- a Constitutional change which would not allow the state to create unfunded mandates for cities and counties. In November 1996 the voters passed it with 56% of the vote and it became Section 15 in Article XI of the Oregon Constitution.

Article XI, Section 15. Funding of programs imposed upon local governments; exceptions. (1) Except as provided in subsection (7) of this section, when the Legislative Assembly or any state agency requires any local government to establish a new program or provide an increased level of service for an existing program, the State of Oregon shall appropriate and allocate to the local government moneys sufficient to pay the ongoing, usual and reasonable costs of performing the mandated service or activity.

The usual "big government" organizations were against it. The City Club of Portland put out a statement against it saying, "The measure would cause a significant and undesirable shift of power away from the state to local governments, needlessly frustrating the ability of the state to implement social and economic policy objectives, and could lead to a patchwork pattern of compliance and noncompliance with laws and regulations across the state. This can only further exacerbate existing political divisions within the state and would undermine the very notion of what it means to be an Oregonian."

The courts have determined that if an act of the Legislature does cause an unfunded mandate the municipality need not comply. the state does not have to cover the whole cost. If the cost is less than 95 percent of the usual and reasonable costs incurred by the local government in conducting the program at the same level of service in the preceding fiscal year or requires the local government to spend for the program, in addition to the amount appropriated and allocated by the Legislative Assembly, an amount that exceeds one-hundredth of one percent of the annual budget adopted by the governing body of the local government for that fiscal year.

In 2015, Oregon enacted a paid sick-leave law, and several counties sued claiming that the new law forced the counties to implement a "program" which was not funded. The Oregon Supreme Court determined that paid sick leave for county employees did not constitute a "program" and therefore was not an unfunded mandate.

The law does not only include acts of the legislature, but rules enacted by executive branch state agencies.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-02-13 07:43:28Last Update: 2021-02-12 21:57:40

A Plea from a Senior to Bring Back Sports
“Our mental health is as low as it has ever been.”

Editor's note: What follows is a letter that was sent to a State Representative and is being reprinted with the author's permission.

To whom it may concern,

Please take the time to read this and hear my story. My name is Madelyn Loughary. I am a senior at Dallas High School. I have the opportunity to be a part of an amazing community and get to play 3 sports. I participate in volleyball, basketball, and softball. Last February before Covid-19 had officially shut us down I had an appendectomy so despite getting to “finish” my Junior basketball season it was still cut short. Going into my softball season so excited that it was gonna be so much fun. I didn’t get to participate in the first 2 weeks due to recovery, and then on March 13th 2020 I was cleared to play. Little did I know I would be given the news that the season was canceled that same day. I was devastated and couldn't imagine what the seniors had felt like until now. I started my senior year online and with no chance at a normal sports season or school year.

School being online isn’t fun at all and in no way how I wanted to spend my senior year. School being online is what it is but what I don’t understand is why the fight for athletics isn’t there. Each week we hope to get updated news and new policies, but each week we are disappointed once again. February 10th, 2021 we were given the news that football was allowed to play full contact, and was going to get their season. I have never been so upset at such good news. I immediately texted my volleyball coach only to find out that a minimal contact sport with only 12 girls on one side of the court in a mask cannot be in the gym together and not guaranteed a season. Put yourself in our shoes and how awful that felt as student athletes being deprived yet again of their season. We are all so terrified that we have already stepped on the court or on the field for the last time; terrified that someone is going to ask how we are doing with everything, and that those 4 words could break us.

Our mental health is as low as it has ever been. The drive in the classroom is gone because there is no hope that we are going to get our season. Our coaches are fighting and fighting for us to get the seasons we deserve but here we are with nothing other than the opportunity to condition outside. If you sent out a survey to all the student athletes regarding their mental health and how much we are affected by the lack of athletics in Oregon you would be appalled that you created this. We are one of the only states not able to play sports; one of the only states shutdown. The vaccine is out; the tests are available. The only thing holding us back is you. Thank you for taking the time to read this.

--Madelyn Loughary

Post Date: 2021-02-12 16:06:13Last Update: 2021-02-12 17:43:28

Rep. Hernandez Files Lawsuit Against Committee and House Speaker
Alleges several breaches of due process

Embattled State Representative Diego Hernandez has filed a civil suit in Marion County Circuit Court against the Oregon Legislature, naming State Representatives Ron Noble (R-McMinnville), Julie Fahey (D-Eugene), House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland) and Jackie Sandmeyer, head of the House Legislative Equity Office. The complaint is merely 16 pages, but is supplemented by 89 pages of attachments, including much of the evidence -- starting on page 26 -- that Hernandez said was not considered or improperly presented to the House Conduct Committee.

Hernandez alleges many breaches of due process, essentially describing the process as a political witch hunt, orchestrated by Speaker Kotek. He alleges that Sandmeyer, the head of Legislative Equity Office, had a spouse employed with the Speaker's office, and that this conflict was not disclosed to him. The Legislative Equity Office manages the investigation and process for breaches of House conduct. There is also the mystery of how the documents for the Conduct Committee was “leaked” to OPB hours before the committee members had seen them, which could potentially be tied to the Sandmeyer and spouse relationship. In his complaint, Hernandez says

On or around May 5, 2020, Plaintiff was notified that Sandmeyer was conducting a Rule 27 investigation into his alleged conduct. Unbeknownst to Plaintiff, Sandmeyer’s spouse had previously worked for Kotek, the person who made the complaint to the LEO. Neither Sandmeyer nor Kotek disclosed this relationship to Plaintiff and Sandmeyer did not recuse from this matter.

Hernandez also finds objection to the length of time that the investigation took, which was about 200 days. "Rule 27" refers to the rule in the Legislative Branch Personnel rules, titled "Harassment-Free Workplace." Hernandez

Pursuant to Rule 27 (6)(h), the investigator has 60 days from appointment to conduct the investigation and present a draft finding of fact and recommendations to the Human Resources Director, the Office of the Legislative Counsel, the complainant, and the person alleged to be involved with the harassment. The person alleged to be involved with the harassment has a right to be promptly informed of any extensions granted to the investigator and must be provided with the reason for any delay. That did not occur during this investigation....

Fahey, Noble, Sandmeyer and Kotek delayed Plaintiff’s investigation by nearly 200 days for improper purposes, did not notify Plaintiff of the reasons for the delay, failed to give Plaintiff the final findings of fact within 10 days of its submission, only provided Plaintiff with seven days to respond to the allegations, prevented Plaintiff from presenting evidence at the fact finding hearing, prevented Plaintiff from testifying without forfeiting his right to counsel, required Plaintiff to present his defense first, and precluded Plaintiff from questioning other witnesses or providing rebuttal evidence and testimony.

Hernandez's complaint also indicates that not all the evidence was fairly presented to the House Committee on Conduct, where these disputes are tried.

Sandmeyer redacted dates, how Plaintiff knew the subjects, multiple pages of text message threads and Facebook posts, any reference to the fact that two of the subjects were sisters, any reference to the fact that the subjects wanted to rekindle a romantic relationship with Plaintiff, and any reference to Kotek.

Hernandez is requesting non-economic damages in the form of emotional distress against Fahey, Noble, Sandmeyer and Kotek in the amount of $1,000,000, along with reasonable attorney fees, expert witness fees, costs, and interest. Insiders attribute the source of Speaker Kotek's anger and retaliation against him to his no vote on Speaker Kotek's PERS reform bill from the 2019 session, SB 1049 which required public employees to pay some of their own retirement. The bill passed by one vote under heavy pressure from the speaker, including a pause during the voting in which several Democrat House members were taken into the back office and "encouraged" to vote for the bill.

A resolution expelling Hernandez from the Legislature is scheduled for Tuesday.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-02-12 14:01:38Last Update: 2021-02-12 16:06:13

Sen. Knopp Proposes COVID Fine Amnesty
88 businesses around the state have been fined by OSHA

Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend) has introduced legislation that would provide relief for struggling businesses who were penalized because they reopened their businesses in order to support their families and employees.

Currently, 88 businesses around the state have been fined by OSHA, ranging from $100 to $15,000 because of regulations imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, little evidence suggests that businesses are a main source of transmission.

“The data suggests that places of business are not a major source of virus transmission,” Senator Knopp said. “Our employers and those who rely on them for their livelihoods have sacrificed a lot over the last year. We don’t need to be adding to their burden by imposing unnecessary fines that have no basis in the data.”

SB 738 would rescind and refund penalties imposed on businesses if no outbreak resulted because of any reopening in violation of the Governor’s executive orders.

“We need businesses to bounce back and start hiring those who are struggling to make ends meet,” Sen. Knopp continued. “If the business was not responsible for any COVID-19 outbreak, they should not be fined. Period. The policies we make should be rooted in data and science. This bill is a great way to utilize the data we have collected throughout this pandemic to give people relief and help them recover.”

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-02-12 13:44:36

Leave Proposed for Volunteer Fire Fighters
This may be a positive influence in recruitment of volunteers

Volunteer Firefighter Protection Volunteers are a valuable resource to our communities. They are extremely important during a time of crisis. Every year volunteer firefighters in communities across Oregon answer the call at all hours of the night. They respond to automobile accidents, public assistance calls, rescue situations and of course fires of all kinds. Volunteer firefighters put their lives on the line every time they answer that call for help.

However, emergencies don’t just happen on the weekend or in the evening when these volunteers could typically respond during personal time. They often happen in the middle of the workday and can even last several days. Historically, employers, on an individual basis, assess the desires of individual employees to participate in these volunteer activities and are able to weigh that with the potential impacts to operating the business.

In Oregon, extended periods of time to support emergency services are often covered under the definition of conflagration “an extensive fire which destroys a great deal of land or property.” Conflagrations assistance by volunteers is already addressed in a separate statute other that the one listed in SB 376. The conflagration volunteer option is located in ORS 476.510:

1) Upon request of an employee who is a volunteer firefighter of a rural fire protection district or a firefighter employed by a city or a private firefighting service to perform service pursuant to ORS 476.510 to 476.610, the employee, upon written notice by the employer, may be granted a leave of absence by the employer until release from such service permits the employee to resume the duties of employment.

2) The regular employment position of an employee on leave of absence under this section shall be considered vacant only for the period of the leave of absence. The employee shall not be subject to removal or discharge from such position as a consequence of the leave of absence.

3) Upon the termination of a leave of absence under this section, the employee shall be restored to the employee’s position or an equivalent position by the employer without loss of seniority, vacation credits, sick leave credits, service credits under a pension plan or any other employee benefit or right that had been earned at the time of the leave of absence.

Also, conflagration responses are paid for by the agency or state that is requesting the assistance. They pay the responding fire district for the equipment being requested as well as for the volunteer personnel that go with that apparatus. The reimbursement /pay begins from the time the equipment and volunteer leaves their home fire station until they return. Volunteer firefighters are paid $15.50 an hour, Engineers are paid $17.50 an hour and officer/Engine Bosses are paid $18.50 an hour. In the event they are gone for more than 40 hours, over-time pay is added to the volunteer compensation. For example, a firefighter who is sent on a 7 day conflagration would receive an estimated $3,576 in pay.

SB 376 sponsored by Senator Brian Boquist (R-Dallas), at the request of the Sherman Family, looks to expand the conflagration protections into other areas of statute. By doing so it would provide employment protections to a broader scope of volunteer response situations. The legislation would require employers that employ 20 or more employees to grant unpaid leave of absence to employees who are called into service to perform duties related to service as volunteer firefighters. In addition, employers with 50 or more employees would be required to grant unpaid leave of absence for up to 14 calendar days for training. The volunteer leave would be allowed to be taken in hourly increments.

With the number of volunteer firefighters decreasing in Oregon and specifically in rural fire districts this bill may be a positive influence in increasing recruitment of additional volunteers. For example, one small local fire department located in Yamhill County reported that they currently have between 25-30 volunteers and contract with a larger adjoining district for administrative overhead and some Emergency Medical Staff (EMS) support. The station responded to approximately 450 calls for help in 2020 and included in those calls were conflagration responses due to the unprecedented wildfire season. In the month of September alone this small rural station sent apparatus and volunteers to 4 conflagrations totaling 880 apparatus hours. When conflagrations pull resources away or multiple emergency responses are needed simultaneously, volunteers can be stretched thin or need to be called in from other surrounding areas.

However, it may also prove to be a burden on small businesses who cannot afford to shut down when one or more employees leave to volunteer on emergency calls. Emergency calls that often have an undetermined duration, but do not fall under the definition of conflagration.

In the conflagration statute, it allows for pre-arrangement of the absences to be agreed to between the employee and the employer. SB 376 does not contain prearrangement language. In addition, the conflagration statute allows for the employer to deny the request by stating “may be granted a leave of absence by the employer”. SB 376 says “the employee shall be granted leave of absence”. There are no provisions for the employer to deny the absences for any reason thus placing all the burden on the employer.

Volunteers are a valuable part of every community and no more important than in the fire service arena. They allow small rural fire districts to manage costs by using volunteers rather than hiring full time paid professional fire fighters. However, employers also need a reliable labor force and the option to allow employees the opportunity to volunteer in ways that do not impact the ability of the business to operate. It is a delicate balance that may be best left up to the employer and employee relationship rather than mandated in statute.

--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-02-12 13:14:32Last Update: 2021-02-12 13:44:36

Extending Educational Inclusion
ODE does not have a plan focused on LGBTQ2SIA+ students

During the 2019 Legislative Session lawmakers passed HB 3427, the Corporate Activity Tax. The CAT is a tax on businesses with sales over $1 million and is the funding mechanism for the Student Success Act.

The Executive Summary published by the Oregon Department of Education in February 2020 summed up the bill sharing that the Student Success Act creates 12 new programs and expands 16 existing programs, affecting students from early learning through high school graduation.

As a part of the Student Success Act, ODE is required to submit progress reports on implementation, including any recommendations for legislative changes. One of the suggestions coming out of the report is SB 52, which does not have a sponsor, but is at the request of Governor Kate Brown for Department of Education.

ODE does not currently have a statewide student plan focused on the daily education experiences of LGBTQ2SIA+ students. SB 52 would require ODE to establish an advisory group, including student representation, to develop plans for students who may be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, two-spirit, intersex, asexual, nonbinary, or other minority gender identities or sexual orientations. This advisory group would be the first step in addressing solutions to closing the various inequities that exist in education for these student populations.

The estimated cost of the program is $2,250,960 for 2021-2023 and $2,321,244 for years 2023-2025 which would fund one additional full-time position at ODE to manage and assist the advisory group. There are currently no immediate anticipated costs to individual school districts, but moving forward it will be dependent on the requirements and recommendations developed by the newly established advisory group.

The Senate Committee on Education has moved the bill to the Senate floor for a vote and then onto Ways and Means for further consideration.

--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-02-12 13:05:36

Making the Producers Responsible
Far reaching to sellers, trademark licensees, importers, and manufacturers

Legislation on Extended Producer Liability is showing up in several forms. Extended Producer Liability is a concept that requires manufacturers to manage or pay for the full life cycle of a product. This is being presented as “stewardship programs.” They have been beneficial on products that are difficult or hazardous to dispose of such as batteries, paint and electronics. HB 2955, the brainchild of Wlnsvey Campos (D-Beaverton) will add household hazardous waste to that list. One thing they have in common is that a person cannot recycle or properly dispose of them without special care to prevent harm.

HB 2365 was introduced that would prohibit food vendors from using single-use plastic food service ware when selling prepared food. At the opposite end, Senator Fred Girod (R-Stayton) is asking to repeal the single-use checkout bags ban in SB 536 and let stores be responsible. But, Senator Lee Beyer (D-Springfield) is taking the Extended Producer Liability approach in SB 14. This bill establishes a plastics stewardship program for plastic packaging and plastic food serviceware.

Unlike hazardous stewardship programs, this program is far reaching to sellers, trademark licensees, importers, and manufacturers. It makes a stewardship organization impossible to operate fairly. Even though the bill reads like an organization controlled program, the representation would be limited. The bill itself puts a lot of obstacles in the way of an organization making it an over reach for government control.

The general fund will continuously appropriate moneys to fund the Department of Environmental Quality for the program and authorizes DEQ to collect an annual fee charged to each stewardship organization according to market share. If a manufacturer or seller doesn’t join the organization, their product isn’t licensed in the state. This isn’t just a stewardship program; it’s controlling who does business in Oregon. It creates a new enforcement unit that is more than just stewardship for recycling, it calls for compliance of worker health and safety requirements.

It’s another attack on the food servers and restaurants. The plastics covered are plastic packaging; and plastic food serviceware generally intended for single use, including plates, cups, bowls, cutlery or straws. Manufacturers and food servers are required to track and document the fate of covered products.

Instead of wasting funds on controls of stewardship, the American Chemistry Council has an initiative by Plastic Makers for a Waste-Free America with advanced plastics recycling technology to keep plastics in productive use and out of the environment. Their goal is to recover 100 percent of used plastic packaging in the U.S. by 2040. Shouldn’t Oregon be encouraging those industries and let them develop and negotiate how they get our waste? Government can’t dictate innovation but can surely stop it.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-02-11 18:19:55Last Update: 2021-02-11 18:39:59

Convicted Criminals in Schools
Bill is sponsored by Representative Diego Hernandez

HB 2942 would create a pathway for individuals charged and convicted of crimes such as manufacturing and/or delivering hard drugs like cocaine, heroin and meth or prostitution—including crimes targeting children within 1,000 feet of a school—to be eligible to work in school settings.

Oregon House Republicans have called on lawmakers to reject this legislation that would open the door to convicted criminals working and volunteering in K-12 educational settings.

“Protecting our children is one of the most fundamental responsibilities we have as a society,” said House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby). “This bill abandons that duty. We cannot throw open the school doors to those who have been convicted of serious crimes. Let’s help those who have made mistakes and are working to restart their lives, without putting the responsibility for that work on our kids.”

HB 2942 specifically prohibits the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission, the state agency in charge of licensing teachers, from permanently prohibiting individuals convicted of certain crimes from working in a classroom setting. If the bill passes, Oregon’s youngest students could be in the care of role models who will guide their social and emotional development and stand at the head of a classroom with convictions that include:

“I do not believe being convicted of these crimes should close the door to opportunity –but it should close the door to the classroom,” said Representative Kim Wallan (R-Medford). “The current standards protect our students and we should not change them.”

House Democrat Representative Diego Hernandez (D-Portland) is one of the lawmakers sponsoring HB 2942. Diego Hernandez was recently found to have created a hostile work environment for several women, and calls for his resignation have recently occupied the news headlines.

On Tuesday, Feb. 16 the House may decide to expel Representative Diego Hernandez.

HB 2942 has so far received its first hearing on February 11th, in the House Judiciary Committee.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-02-11 16:06:52Last Update: 2021-02-11 18:49:06

Mike Strickland Goes to US Supreme Court
“I was just a guy standing there holding a camera”

Four years ago today Judge Thomas Ryan declared me guilty of 10 felonies and 11 misdemeanors in a Multnomah County courtroom. This involved the incident where I drew my firearm in response to a gang of thugs coming after me. I didn’t even fire a round, as simply drawing was enough force to get the mob to back away and leave me alone. I didn’t harm so much as a fly. I was the one targeted, attacked, tried to get away to avoid further altercation, and ultimately acted to defend myself against what I considered unlawful force and imminent unlawful force being used against me by a gang of masked thugs.

With the council of attorney Robert Barnes, my case has now officially been filed with the Supreme Court of the United States. The central question asked is “Did the Oregon courts err in holding that there is no Constitutional right of self-defense except for when someone like the judge would have behaved the same way under a purely 'objective,' 'reasonable person' standard, thus excluding all evidence of defendant’s prior experiences, defendant’s state of mind at the time, and defendant’s intent in general?"

I never thought I would ever be presenting a case to SCOTUS. At the start of this, I was just a guy standing there holding a camera, recording a public event, doing my job as a video journalist. As the attack on me commenced, every move I made was in reaction to what other people were doing to me. That continues today.

Before, during, and after the trial there have been multiple Constitutional rights violations committed against me.

Deputy DA Kate Molina propagated false information about me through the media involving a completely separate matter in which she never pursued, making claims that I was threatening and harassing a black person whom I don’t even know, claiming I drove by his house with my hand in the shape of a gun pointing toward him, and saying I have ties to white supremacist groups. Kate Molina swore things thing in front of a judge with several TV cameras and other reporters recording it.

Of course none of it is true, and there wasn’t an ounce of evidence to support her wild accusations, but it was used to not only throw me in jail on a $250,000 bond, but also influence and taint prospective jurors. Before the trial I filed a motion for change of venue, based off of Molina’s own false claims said about me to media. Judge Ryan denied the motion. I was essentially denied my right to a fair trial.

Multiple pieces of exculpatory evidence were ruled to be inadmissible, including an incident where far left “documentary” filmmaker, Skye Fitzgerald, violently body slammed me to the pavement while stealing two video cameras from me, shattering my arm and leaving me partially disabled. Judge Ryan, believing he is a mind reader, claimed that is irrelevant with regards to the incident a year later, where I had 10+ people threatening me and accosting me. Judge Ryan thinks the prior incident did not play into my mindset, and must have also believed that it does not impact my ability to go one-on-ten fisticuffs.

Judge Ryan also ruled that my statements to the detective were inadmissible. While I was in custody I had explained to the detective how the mob came after me, how I tried to get away, how I was in fear, and how I eventually acted in what I believed to be self defense. I had also explained to the detective how I had been receiving random and anonymous death threats. None of that was admissible during my trial.

Basically all evidence relating to my mindset, my own personal belief, and my assessment of the situation were inadmissible. This removed the subjectivity from the notion of self defense, and created a purely objective standard. This is contrary to the standards that the courts, including Oregon’s higher courts, have used for years. Higher courts across the nation have agreed that self defense is based off the defendant’s own personal belief of what is unlawful force being used against the person, and how a person in the defendant’s shoes, with the defendant’s experiences and knowledge, would react in any given self defense situation.

Judge Ryan specifically said this is not about what other people were doing to me, but about what I did. He essentially refused to consider self defense as a concept, since self defense is entirely predicated on the actions of other people.

During the trial multiple individuals admitted to premeditating and executing this physical attack on me, and they admitted to engaging in what even the state’s ambush expert witness conceded was assaultive” behavior toward me. The state’s star witness, multi-time federal felon Benjamin Kerensa, admitted he conspired with several others to confront me. Kerensa weighs 400 pounds. He is literally twice my size. He admitted to grabbing me to physically throw me out of the crowd. He admitted that this was unprovoked and that he hadn’t seen me doing anything to incite him or others leading up to this.

Judge Ryan also allowed for the aforementioned ambush witness, who was allowed to testify after both sides had rested, and whose name was not on any previously disclosed witness list. This ambush witness, Gresham police’s firearms and use of force trainer, Ryan Rasmussen, testified that just about everything I did was wrong and not reasonable. Except he could only testify as to what a police officer was trained to do in the situation I was in, not what a civilian with a Concealed Handgun License is trained to do or reasonably expected to do, as Rasmussen has no training, qualifications, or experience with civilian CHL's. Despite this, even he agreed that I had properly assessed at least some of the thugs as threats, and that I was justified in drawing my firearm on at least some of them.

The state claims there are ten “victims” of mine, yet only two of these people were ever identified, ever came forward, and ever testified. I was denied my right to face my accusers, because they hadn’t accused me of anything. We have no idea who these other people are. I was found guilty of crimes against anonymous John Does who never testified. The only two who came forward were Kerensa, the big guy who started the entire altercation, and Malcolm Chaddock, whom I had personally seen at prior events causing trouble and committing crimes. Chaddock served as the distraction so Kerensa could run up along my blind side.

At various different times throughout this ordeal I have been banned by the courts from talking to media, posting on Twitter, posting videos, blogging, going to political events, filming political events, and filming anything at the local colleges. They essentially banned me from working. Those bans were lifted after nearly four years. My own first-person video which shows the initial attack by the mob was ordered sealed by the judge and the public couldn’t see it until four months after the trial.

This case basically declared that it is not unlawful force when a gang of thugs attacks someone on the streets. Since my arrest we've seen rampant violence and crime at protests and other political events. The gangs learned that they can attack whomever they want and not only face no consequences, but the person they attack is the one who gets arrested and throw in jail for fighting back. Mob violence is now rewarded and incentivized. If they can do all of these things to me, they can do it to anyone. Are you next?

The entire notion of self defense with a firearm rests in this case. If the Heller case established the right to own a gun for self defense, then the Strickland case will determine if you have the right to even level the gun at aggressive assailants, even without discharging a round.

People ask what they can do to help. I am mostly caught up in the legal bills, but it’s always nice to have a little bit on hand in reserve, and you can donate at paypal.me/StricklandLegalFund.

You can also donate through Oregon Firearms Federation. Leave a note on the donation form that it’s for the Strickland fund.

I’ll be doing another live stream Q&A for the donors in the coming weeks.

Oregon Firearms Federation has been there every step of the way helping out. I highly recommend supporting them.

Perhaps more important than funds is spreading awareness about what had happened. The Gateway Pundit graciously allowed me to publish a piece a few months back where I explain more about the case, the trial, and all of the shady tactics used by various different actors. I also included several videos, including video of the incident itself, and several videos using the audio from court proceedings to catch these actors in their lies. It is a good link to share around.

You can also check out the podcast series by Victoria Taft, where she goes in-depth with exclusive interviews of some of the witnesses and explores other aspects of the case.

My attorney, Robert Barnes, has been a regular guest on the Viva Frei YouTube show, and he goes into some detail as well.

You can also encourage other organizations, such as the NRA, to file amicus curiae to the court in support of my petition. Amicus briefs allow for interested third parties to submit arguments and information to the courts in support of, or against, the people involved in the case to help the judges better understand the situation.

I am available for interviews, media appearances, and speaking engagements.

Thank you all for your support and I am confident that I will emerge from all of this victorious.

--Michael Strickland

Post Date: 2021-02-11 07:40:41Last Update: 2022-01-01 18:11:50

Increased Business Reporting Pondered
“The bottom line is Oregon is not an easy place to do business”

Introduced by Senator Chuck Riley (D-Hillsboro), SB 312 requires the Oregon Department of Revenue to establish reporting requirements on taxpayer information and for the Legislative Revenue Officer to produce a public report including that information collected for the tax returns. The information to be included is Oregon sales, Oregon taxable income, total amount of tax expenditures claimed under Oregon law, Oregon tax liability and total Oregon property tax paid during the tax year.

Newly elected Representative Pham (D-Portland) testified on the merits of the bill stating “when corporations hide how much they do or don’t pay it is not transparent to Oregonians”. She went on to explain that by taking a closer look at the areas that these C Corporations are using to avoid taxes, it will guide future reform of the Oregon corporate income tax system. Representative Phan also tried to explain that the -1 amendments would narrow the scope to require the reporting only by C corporations meeting the following criteria:
  1. Doing business in Oregon that are publicly traded (including those traded on foreign stock exchanges
  2. Have made sales outside Oregon and/or outside the US, and
  3. Claimed any tax expenditure, including deductions for net operating losses. She shared that “half of the major C corporations making over $100,000.00 annually are only paying the minimum corporate tax and this would help identify the loopholes that they are using to do this”.
A C corporation is a legal structure for a corporation in which the owners, or shareholders, are taxed separately from the entity.

Daniel Hauser with Oregon Center for Public policy then explained to the committee that “most recent figures showed that seven out of 10 corporations paid just the minimum corporate excise tax. In fact, nearly half of all C-corporations with more than $100 million in Oregon sales pay the corporate minimum, which amounts to a paltry $100,000, an effective tax rate of 0.1 percent or less”. He closed his testimony by reiterating that “Enacting corporate tax transparency would increase accountability and tax fairness — a win for Oregonians”.

However, increased transparency may very well shed light on where to increase taxes, create new ones or close loopholes in existing tax code, but it may not necessarily be legal. Nikki Dobay is a nationally known state tax lawyer with significant experience and understanding of state tax policy with Eversheds Sutherland who focuses on sophisticated multistate tax issues. She testified that “Federal law and the Internal Revenue Service Taxpayer Bill of Rights prohibit the disclosure of federal returns and return information except in very limited circumstances”. She continued “SB 312 raises significant taxpayer privacy issues, as the publishing of the report to the public may result in disclosure of information ultimately found on federal tax returns”. In addition, she raised the concern that SB 312 could have constitutional consequences because it exclusively targets multistate taxpayers. The legislation requires the public report to include the tax information for C corporations that have an Oregon tax obligation of less than 100 percent. Thus, only C Corporations that operate both within and outside the state would be compelled to report. C corporations that operate exclusively within Oregon would not have their taxpayer information disclosed to the public.

Scott Bruun, Director of tax and fiscal policy for Oregon Business and Industry (OBI) closed out today’s testimony with some very powerful statements. OBI projects that tax on Oregon businesses are projected to go up by $1.8B between 2019- 2022 when new taxes introduced in 2019 are fully phased in. This is a 41% increase. He noted that Oregon already has a very small number of publicly traded companies headquartered in Oregon. “Companies are not beating down the door to move to Oregon”, he stated. SB312 will not help overcome that challenge and may also prove to be a disincentive for companies already in Oregon to stay. He closed with “The bottom line is Oregon is not an easy place to do business”.

--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-02-11 07:15:09Last Update: 2021-02-10 17:29:58

Read More Articles