What is the most pressing issue facing Oregon today?
Economy
Homelessness
Transportation infrastructure
Crime
Big government
Northwest Observer
Subscribe for Free Email Updates
Name:
Email:
Search Articles
       






On this day, February 5, 1846,The first Pacific Coast newspaper, Oregon Spectator, was published.




Post an Event


The Oregon Constitution
Wednesday, February 22, 2023 at 7:00 pm
First of a three part series presented by former State Representative Mike Nearman studying the Oregon Constitution.
The River Church 4675 Portland Rd NE Salem



The Oregon Constitution
Wednesday, March 1, 2023 at 7:00 pm
Second of a three part series presented by former State Representative Mike Nearman studying the Oregon Constitution.
The River Church 4675 Portland Rd NE Salem



The Oregon Constitution
Wednesday, March 8, 2023 at 7:00 pm
Third of a three part series presented by former State Representative Mike Nearman studying the Oregon Constitution.
The River Church 4675 Portland Rd NE Salem



We Are Stronger Together
Monday, March 27, 2023 at 10:00 am
Oregon's Natural Resources & Industries (ONRI) is sponsoring the rally to meet legislators and influencers to bring light on legislation affecting natural resource industries, their families, and their communities. https://onri.us/events
Rally at the State Capitol, Salem.


View All Calendar Events


An End to Statewide Concealed Carry
There’s a reason the pre-emption statute prevents a patchwork of laws

Imagine a government so out of control that it stops at nothing to provide extended rights to criminals while removing the basic rights of law abiding American citizens. You don't have to imagine because this is already happening on a local and national level. House Representative Brian Clem (D-Salem), Senator Ginny Burdick (D-Portland), and other career politicians are doing everything they can to fulfill the agendas of politicians and special interest groups while ignoring the will of the American people that they are in office to serve.

When the government wants to make laws that restrict your rights and then follows up with legislation that removes your right to defend yourself and restricts your ability to challenge them -you get legislation like HB 3005, and we are no longer a free people.

Legislators in Oregon have already introduced a number of anti-second amendment bills that have been met with strong opposition, however in true politically motivated fashion they are moving forward with this unconstitutional legislation and ignoring the will of the people once again.

If passed, HB 3005 will Repeal Oregons statute creating state preemption of local firearm regulation and statutes creating exceptions to preemption. This means that all of the anti-second amendment legislation that does not pass at the state level can be enacted on a county level. Local jurisdictions will be able to impose unconstitutional gun laws and ordinances throughout the state of Oregon which will vary from county to county. This is clearly another attempt to further confuse and legislate away the second amendment rights of all Oregonians.

Some would say that anti-second amendment groups will continue to gaslight law abiding Oregonians by fanatically insisting that bills like HB 3005 and HR130 will save lives and will not impact law abiding citizens if they just fall in line. This type of ignorance leads to dangerous legislation that costs lives and removes a citizens right to protect themselves in any place and at anytime. This is not "common sense legislation", this is out of touch and intentionally designed to disarm Oregonians. If allowed to pass HB 3005 and others like it will allow the government to further dictate how and where you must store your firearm, when and where you can carry your firearm, and will require the investigation of reports of improper storage of firearms and ammunition and will vary by locality.

There is a reason that the pre-emption statute prevents local jurisdictions from creating their own patchwork of laws and regulations, and why more than 40 states already prohibit the type of legislation proposed by HB 3005 of confusing and unconstitutional legislation which turns law abiding American Citizens into violators, criminals and felons. There are countless accounts of individuals in Oregon alone whose quick thinking and quick access to their legally obtained firearm saved their lives and the lives of others. Laws like this would cost more Oregonians their lives as they would be forced to lock up their firearms or leave them at home depending on the county they were in, passing through or visiting. In a self defense scenario seconds matter, criminals will not wait for you to get to your safe, unlock your firearm and perhaps load it while they wait to attack. This legislation lacks all evidence of common sense no matter the scenario.

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

Anti-second amendment legislation is opposed by the majority of Oregonians. Just ask the self described "left of center leaning" pro-second amendment "Liberal Gun Club" who has over 30 state chapters. Oregonians do not believe the false narrative that supporters of our first and second amendment freedoms are only conservative right leaning individuals. According to some, this characterization is used by politicians seeking to further divide Oregonians while simultaneously eroding our constitutional rights. We see the divisive rhetoric from politicians, special interest groups and from biased media outlets who publish outrageous article such as "What if they want you dead?, Leftists Bear Arms in self-defense," published by OPB that seems to take a somewhat pro-second amendment stance depending on how far right or far left those seeking to utilize their freedoms lean. We see through the hypocrisy, political tactics, and outright lies, Oregonians must continue to unite in opposition of this onslaught of unconstitutional legislation being proposed by out of control politicians.

The once slow erosion of our freedoms in Oregon and across our beautiful country is picking up pace and we are moving quickly toward true tyranny. Politicians are out of control in their demand for a passive and dependent populace. We have a president and politicians in office who have stated to the American people that they have "personal reasons" for enacting strict gun laws, it's time to remind them that they are not in office to fulfill personal agendas, its time to remind them that they are in office because we allow them to be our voice and if they cannot put aside personal and political agendas to represent the people, they must leave.


--Esther August

Post Date: 2021-03-21 20:38:46Last Update: 2021-03-22 08:09:55



Does the Capitol Have to be “Open” to the Public?
What does “open” mean?

The closure of the Oregon Capitol during the 2021 Session begs the question, "Where in law does it require that the Capitol be open to the public during sessions?" There are two places in the Oregon Constitution that could be read as requiring this. The first is pretty explicit:

Article IV, Section 14. Deliberations to be open; rules to implement requirement. The deliberations of each house, of committees of each house or joint committees and of committees of the whole, shall be open. Each house shall adopt rules to implement the requirement of this section and the houses jointly shall adopt rules to implement the requirements of this section in any joint activity that the two houses may undertake.

This requires that the deliberations be open, but doesn't define what "open" means. The 2021 session featured many electronic methods of openness -- implemented with more or less success -- but that may or may not be "open." It hasn't been litigated. The second is less explict:

Article I, Section 26. Assemblages of people; instruction of representatives; application to legislature. No law shall be passed restraining any of the inhabitants of the State from assembling together in a peaceable manner to consult for their common good; nor from instructing their Representatives; nor from applying to the Legislature for redress of grievances.

"Consult for the common good" can be read as discussing politics.


--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-21 12:35:38Last Update: 2021-03-20 21:04:37



Measure 11: The Background
What does Measure 11 do?

Editor's note: This is the first of a multi-part series on Measure 11 and its impact on crime. This series is adapted from letters written to the legislature by Kevin Mannix, the author of Measure 11.

Up to 1989, Oregon law appeared to give judges wide sentencing discretion for felonies.

Felonies were divided into three classes, separate from murder. Judges could impose up to the following maximum sentences: 20 years for Class A felonies, 10 years for Class B felonies, and 5 years for Class C felonies. However, the discretion of judges was actually significantly limited because a parole board appointed by the governor could reduce sentences and release convicted felons early. It routinely did so. This was "reformed" by the adoption of felony sentencing guidelines in 1989.

In 1989, Oregon was confronted with a shortage of prison beds and a lack of "truth-in­ sentencing" because the parole board had broad authority to reduce sentences imposed by judges, and often did so. A comprehensive reform package was passed by the Legislature to establish a felony sentencing guideline system. Judges were constrained from imposing felony sentences outside the guidelines. They could only go outside the guidelines for "substantial and compelling reasons."

At the same time, sentences imposed by judges could only be reduced by up to 20 percent for good behavior in prison. Accordingly, the parole board power was restricted for sentences imposed under the new system.

The problem with the sentencing guidelines is that they were written to reflect Oregon's limited prison facilities, not a determination as to the appropriate sentence from the perspective of justice. The felony sentencing guidelines were resource-driven rather than justice-driven. Proponents of the guidelines promised that additional prison facilities would be established, and the guidelines could be strengthened as the facilities came online.

Between 1989 and 1994, no legislation was passed to provide additional prison resources or to enhance the sentencing guidelines. This led me to author Measure 11, which passed by a 66% favorable vote, in November 1994. Measure 11 established mandatory minimum prison sentences for the 16 most violent crimes.

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

Oregon voters placed Measure 11 on the ballot on November 1994 and it passed with a 66% favorable vote. Measure 11 went into effect in April 1995. Measure 11 establishes mandatory minimum terms of imprisonment for criminals who have been convicted of 16 specific violent and sexual crimes. Measure 11 does not involve sentences for property crimes or drug crimes. Measure 11 only addresses the worst levels of violent and sexual crimes. For example, there are four levels of criminal assault and Measure 11 only applies to Assault in the First Degree and Assault in the Second Degree; there are three levels of robbery, but Measure 11 only applies to Robbery in the First Degree and Robbery in the Second Degree.

There are 16 crimes - out of the scores if not hundreds of crimes defined in Oregon statutes - which are covered by voter-passed Measure 11:
--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-21 09:37:23Last Update: 2021-03-21 09:45:46



Proposed Law Would Endanger Free Speech
Legislation would block independent journalists

HB 2486 can certainly be described as anti-independent-journalism legislation. It is proposed legislation by three Oregon Democrat legislators that would take away the power to bring important news to the people of Oregon from any organization who is not credentialed though the government.

When government heavily mandates journalism, the truly free press cannot easily or accurately portray the news of the stories happening around us, information that we all rely on for various reasons. Free speech in danger can endanger us all.

Representative Karin Power (D-Portland) and Representative Julie Fahey (D-Eugene) are the Chief Sponsors of this bill as well as being Regularly Sponsored by Representative Marty Wilde (D-Eugene). The law proposes to grant favoritism to only select main stream media outlets.

The proposed law states that it would give officials of public bodies the power to grant news media representatives access to scenes of emergencies or emergency police activity that are otherwise closed to the public. It does provide exceptions when access may be denied.

Perhaps most disturbingly, the bill directs the Department of State Police to develop guidelines for press credentialing.

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

Furthermore, the law also requires the department to consult with law enforcement and fire department personnel, representatives of local governing bodies and representatives of news media organizations in developing those guidelines.

And, as usual in Oregon, the Emergency Clause has been attached to this legislation, which would make the law instantly effected into law.

Apparently it is added in the law that access to scenes of emergencies or emergency police activity may be denied if the presence of news media representatives or the activities being conducted by new media representatives compromise the safety of emergency response employees, impede the response of emergency equipment or personnel or impede the investigation of the incident that constitutes the scene of emergency or emergency police activity.

Nothing in this alters the applicability of Federal Aviation Administration regulations that govern the closure or restriction of airspace over incidents.


--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-03-20 13:29:05Last Update: 2021-03-20 16:38:10



Democrats Move Bill Allowing Convicted in Schools
“Democrats are intentionally putting felons inside the classroom”

HB 2942 which would allow individuals convicted of drug dealing, sex crimes into K-12 settings, and open the door to convicted criminals working and volunteering in K-12 educational settings has passed out of the Oregon House Judiciary Committee. It is now headed to the House Committee on Education. The bill is sponsored by Representative Bynum (D-Clackamas), Senator Michael Dembrow (D-Portland), and former State Representative Diego Hernandez (D-Portland).

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.

“It’s completely unacceptable that the Salem supermajority is intentionally putting felons inside the classroom and on the playground with our kids, even when their crimes included making and selling hard drugs next door to a school,” said House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby.) “Keeping our children safe means keeping convicted criminals out of our classrooms.”

HB 2942 would let the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission, the state agency in charge of licensing teachers, allow individuals convicted of certain crimes to work in a classroom setting. If HB 2942 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: The hearing in the House Committee On Education is scheduled for March 30 at 1:00pm.


--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-20 06:50:37Last Update: 2021-03-20 21:05:35



Are In-Person Public Meetings a Thing of the Past?
What about connectivity and the digital divide?

Over the past year, Oregonians have figured out how to continue to conduct business virtually. The Oregon Legislature and other publicly elected bodies are no different. April 15, 2020 Governor Kate Brown announced Executive Order 20-16 which stated:

During this emergency, state and local governments must continue to operate, provide essential services, and make decisions in a public and transparent manner. Governments must do so safely, consistent with my emergency directives. Public participation is essential to the functioning of our state and local governments, but in-person attendance at public meetings presents a risk to the public health and safety of Oregonians, unless appropriate measures are taken. Thus, during this emergency, public meetings should be held via telephone, video, electronic or other virtual means, whenever possible, to keep Oregonians safe, and to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Shortly after that, during the 1st special legislative session in June of 2020, the legislature passed HB 4212 which codified into law the ability of public governing bodies to be able to conduct public business remotely until 30 days after the end of the declaration of a state of emergency expires.

One year later, the 6th extension of state of emergency keeps HB 4212 in place. School boards, city councils and the legislature continue to operate in the virtual world. Now, the legislature would like to see this practice become permanent through the introduction of HB 2560 by Representative Meek (D-Gladstone) and Senator Steiner Hayward (D-Portland). This legislation would require meetings held by public governing bodies to reasonably provide opportunities to the general public to access and attend the meeting by telephone, video, or other electronic or virtual means and to allow oral and written testimony by electronic or virtual means.

During a hearing on the bill earlier this month a great deal of written testimony was submitted, but only a hand full of people signed up to testify virtually in person. One of those was Mary Kyle McCurdy with 1,000 Friends of Oregon. She expressed support for the bill stating, “Remote access to public hearings and meetings opens these to so many more Oregonians”. Kathryn Jernstedt with Friends of Yamhill County also testified on the bill. Although she was in favor of the bill, she wanted to make sure that it was “not the only option because there are barriers to this as we well as the pre-COVID systems”. She was specifically concerned with connectivity and the digital divide. Ironically, during her testimony, her connection to the meeting had issues adding validity to her concern.

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

Mark Landauer with the Special Districts Association of Oregon also testified on the legislation. He reminded the committee that “it was local government that originally approached the governor asking for this type of electronic communication to be allowed”. They knew that they were not going to be allowed to conduct business in traditional ways during the State of Emergency, but the business of the people needed to continue. However, if made permanent, challenges remain with actual implementation and managing public expectations. There are 950 special districts that hold public meetings is some manner. They are not all going to have the capabilities to livestream meetings considering that at least 300 of them don’t even have websites currently. The bill was amended in committee for a technical fix and HB 2560 is headed to the House floor for a vote.


--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-03-19 18:05:43Last Update: 2021-03-19 18:31:22



Frontline Workers to the Back of the Line in Oregon
Accelerated Vaccination Timelines given by Governor Brown

Multiple journalists could not get a straight answer from Oregon's Governor Kate Brown in a press briefing with the Oregon Health Authority on Friday, March 19th, 2021.

She was asked why front-line workers were not highly prioritized for COVID vaccinations in Oregon as neighboring state Washington had done and as the CDC had recommended, but all that reporters got for an answer from her seemed rather hollow and disingenuous.

Governor Kate Brown held the press conference to announce Oregon’s accelerated vaccination prioritization timelines.

The Governor was joined by Patrick Allen, Oregon Health Authority (OHA) Director; Dr. Dean Sidelinger, State Epidemiologist; and Holden Leung, Chief Executive Officer of the Asian Health & Service Center.

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 vaccination efforts speed up, I want to thank Oregonians once again for making smart choices throughout this pandemic. Oregon continues to hold one of the lowest infection and mortality rates in the entire country. We have the fourth lowest infection rate since the start of the pandemic, and fifth lowest mortality rate. " said Governor Brown. "As we open up eligibility to all Oregonians on May 1st, I remain committed to the equitable distribution of vaccines for our seniors, frontline workers, and Oregonians with underlying health conditions."

"The Oregon Health Authority tells me that, provided supplies come in from the federal government as anticipated, we expect to have enough doses for every Oregonian who wants a vaccine to have the opportunity for at least a first dose by the end of May."


--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-03-19 16:58:28Last Update: 2021-03-19 18:45:40



Required Acceptance of Governor’s Orders Proposed
More emergency powers for Oregon’s Governor

HB 2305 and HB 2308 are being considered by the super-majority Democrat Oregon legislature, and are bills that would assign further emergency powers for the state's governor.

Observers in Oregon have noted current Governor Kate Brown's response to a variety of emergencies over her tenure, especially as of late, and her decisions do not always inspire confidence. More gubernatorial emergency powers might not be a good thing at this time, as checks and balances are still quite important in government.

Both HB 2305 and HB 2308 are sponsored by Representative Paul Evans (D-Monmouth), and could easily be passed with support from the super-majority Democrats, who currently have control of the state legislature.

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

Details within those proposed laws include the following:

Authorize the Governor, if necessitated by emergency, to require any person in this state to accept and fulfill orders for manufacture, sale or distribution of certain goods.

The bills do specify conditions under which a person may reject such orders.

It also provides that "a person that accepts order is not liable for contractual damages resulting from act or omission necessary for compliance with Act".


--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-03-19 12:39:57Last Update: 2021-03-19 13:25:22



Rental Housing Permits Are Down
Spoiler alert: Democrats in the Legislature aren’t helping the situation

Editor's note: This article was adapted from a presentation to clients of Portland area realtor Royce Rogers.

Oregon has a housing shortage. The Urban Growth Boundaries, created by Oregon's land use laws in the early 1970s, are filling up. Supply and demand drive prices of single-family homes to levels that are unaffordability. Apartments must provide a higher percentage of dwellings.

Unfortunately, new regulations show a disconnect between policy makers and the incentives that cause risk takers to build apartments. In December 2016, Portland’s City Council enacted a strong inclusionary housing requirement that all new apartment buildings in Portland would have to set aside a portion of their units for low- and moderate-income housing. The new requirement didn’t kick in until February 2017, and because the requirement applied to nearly all apartment buildings with 20+ units there was a land rush of developers who filed under the old rules which in turn produced a temporary flood of new apartment buildings, that have, over the past four years, mostly been built.

This decline in multifamily permits signals trouble for Portland's apartment supply for the coming years. While in the short-term rent increases have been minimal and supply has increased, national forecasters like Zillow are predicting a rapid rebound in demand for urban markets post-pandemic. That has owners of existing apartments with an excellent chance to profit in Portland as housing providers continue to stay one step ahead of politicians enacting feel-good ordinances. The new requirements have also signaled more permanent changes. One of the key aspects of the requirements is that it exempts buildings that have less than 20 units, which has prompted many developers to shift to smaller buildings.

This has also led developers to get creative as the requirement of 20 units only applies to a single building, meaning you can build multiple buildings in one development project. There is a good example in Northwest Portland where developer Noal Johnson is building eight five-story residential buildings which total to 145 units although each individual building contains less than 20.

Overall inclusionary zoning may have helped with supply and rents in the short term but the fact that very few new buildings are being built now will hurt Portland in the near future. The new apartments that aren’t being built now in Portland will almost certainly lead to higher rents and less affordability in the years ahead—exactly the opposite of the expressed intentions of those who enacted this policy.


--Tom Hammer

Post Date: 2021-03-18 16:26:05Last Update: 2021-03-18 11:58:43



Fagan Responds to Redistricting Petition
The Constitution gives the Legislature authority over the process

The Oregon Department of Justice, led by Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum (D-Portland) on behalf of Secretary of State Shemia Fagan (D-Portland), has filed a response to the Oregon Legislature’s petition for a writ of mandamus, related to state Legislative redistricting, with the Oregon Supreme Court. A writ of mandamus is a directive by the courts to a government to have them act or cease acting.

Secretary Fagan’s response notes that the Legislature’s requested delays in redistricting timelines for state Legislative maps will require moving the 2022 primary elections in all 36 counties and numerous other elections-related deadlines. The response demonstrates that the Legislature can access quality population data from the U.S. Census Bureau’s partner in Oregon, the Population Research Center, and can use that data to produce redistricting maps without delay, leaving opportunities to incorporate Census data when it becomes available.

“As Oregon’s chief elections officer, I am responsible for safeguarding the elections process for all Oregonians. I am deeply concerned about the ability of our state’s county clerks to administer stable, predictable elections next year if the Legislature is successful in moving deadlines and changing 2022 election dates,” Secretary Fagan said. “As detailed in our response, moving the 2022 May primary would strain county and state resources and risk significant voter confusion at a time when it is more important than ever for us to build and maintain public trust in our elections. We owe it to Oregonians to do everything we can to fulfill our constitutional obligation on time and without impacting the 2022 elections.”

In the filing, Interim Oregon Elections Director Brenda Bayes detailed the list of potential impacts on the state’s 2022 election cycle if state Legislative redistricting dates are allowed to be pushed out 60 days after the redistricting data arrives. Those potential impacts include:

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

Each decade, states are required to redraw boundaries for state Legislative and federal Congressional districts to account for population changes. Oregon’s state Legislative redistricting process is detailed in Article IV, section 6 of the Oregon Constitution. The Constitution gives the Oregon Legislature clear authority over the process, with the Secretary of State as a backstop if, for some reason, the Legislature is unable to complete its process. The process for federal Congressional redistricting, which redraws Oregon’s district boundaries for the United States House of Representatives, is guided by state law with the Oregon Supreme Court as a backstop. The Secretary of State has no role in federal Congressional redistricting, which is not addressed in the Legislature’s petition.


--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-18 13:59:43Last Update: 2021-03-18 14:05:57



Policymaking Impacts Quality Health Care
Democrats promise program they know they can’t deliver

After 8 failed attempts, Senate Democrats rammed through SJR 12 legislation that promises utopian health care coverage. The results of which would degrade the quality of care and take away health care choices for Oregonians. The resolution was introduced by Senator Elizabeth Steiner Hayward (D-Portland) and Representative Rob Nosse (D-Portland)

According to a 2017 report commissioned by the Legislature, a government-controlled health care system is completely unfeasible. The system would blow out the budget by requiring a 134% increase in state taxes. This would include an 83% hike in income taxes and a new 6.5% payroll tax on small businesses. The total cost of government-controlled healthcare would be over $70 billion per budget cycle.

“This bill promises something that Democrats know they can’t deliver,” Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod said. “The bill doesn’t fund any system to deliver on that promise. If Democrats are serious about giving Oregonians free health care, they should come up with an actual plan. This kind of lazy policymaking lacks important details Oregon voters need to make an informed decision at the ballot box.”

The Oregonian Editorial Board and League of Women Voters have opposed this measure because of its obscurity.

Government-controlled health care would be a travesty for Oregonians. It would degrade the quality of care by limiting choices and make Oregonians wait for important care.

Government-run health care leads to longer wait times for important medical care and takes away individual health care decisions from Oregonians. Oregon’s 2017 report confirmed that government-controlled health care would cause ‘congestion’ (read wait times).

“This unfunded mandate is one of the final steps to completely government-controlled health care,” Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend), Vice-Chair of the Senate Health Care Committee, said. “There is a reason similar plans have been spiked in other deep-blue states. It would destroy quality health care in Oregon.”

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

SJR 12 fails to outline a plan as to how the state is going to give unlimited health coverage to everyone. That raises concerns that the courts will ultimately force political branches to create a backdoor system with little public involvement or transparency.

Senate Democrats voted down a motion that would have given Oregonians clarity on how much the proposal would cost.

If passed by the House of Representatives, the amendment would be put to voters on the November 2021 general election.


--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-03-18 12:09:04Last Update: 2021-03-18 12:27:12



The Homeless Industrial Complex
We keep spending money and not solving the problem

HB 2004 takes money from the General Fund and the Community Services Revolving Account for low barrier shelters which goes to DAS to create navigation centers. Housing and Community Services is directed to study the issue. It has bipartisan support. HB 2006 defines an "emergency shelter" and requires local governments to allow siting of qualifying emergency shelters by qualifying entities notwithstanding land use laws and regulations. Three Republicans cosponsored this bill and coincidently their districts would get money. Both bills were introduced by House Speaker Tina Kotek (D-Portland).

The homeless situation is on many minds these days and the legislature is attempting to show the voters that they care. Using $27 million in grant money as bait and an additional $18 million in direct payments to cities with representatives on the committee sponsoring HB 2004, money will be appropriated for a popular concern. Is that the right way to go?

The history of caring for the unfortunate relied on mutual aid societies -- churches, fraternal organizations, dedicated non-profits. They supplied charitable services to the less fortunate. Government has slowly replaced many of those volunteer efforts and continues its quest for market share. Mutual aid societies have paid staff but were, and still are, heavily dependent on dedicated volunteers with intimate knowledge of the challenges they face and personal commitment often through personal experience. The recipients of generosity are vetted constantly. Gaming the system is very difficult with mutual aid societies. In the past, government’s role was in service to the productive sector that financially sustained those seeking charity through mutual aid societies. People in need got a temporary hand up, not a permanent handout.

Fast forward to today, and we see government doing what it can to increase and centralize power. Enticing municipalities through grants, state government grows in size while enlarging dependency on state government. Those who “are down on their luck” are just pawns in the game. Representatives bring the pork home to their constituencies, claiming humanity and solutions for the common good.

Examples of mutual aid societies doing the highest quality work at a fraction the cost versus government are everywhere. If politicians feel they must address every highly visible problem that has its day in the sun, maybe they could incentivize local communities to use the systems they already have in place. Multiple tax credits for donations to outfits like Union Gospel Mission in Salem, the Salvation Army, St. Vincent DePaul in Eugene and dozens of other non-profit groups doing yeoman’s work would support those currently most effective and give a greater return on taxpayers dollars.

Addiction and mental health problems are at the core of homelessness. The breakdown of the family structure plays a big role of this growing social phenomenon as well. Can we buy our way to a solution? No. Should we rely on politicians to find answers? This is a tough love situation, who can supply the tough love? Probably not your rich uncle from out of town.


--Tom Hammer

Post Date: 2021-03-18 11:58:43Last Update: 2021-03-18 12:09:04



Read More Articles