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Campus Sexual Harassment Legislation Moves
“No victim should ever be silenced by powerful institutions”

A group of bipartisan Oregon lawmakers introduced legislation to ensure safe and respectful Oregon university campuses. The legislation comes in the wake of the recent national response to the sexual assault allegations at Oregon Health & Science University.

In February, a lawsuit was filed against OHSU alleging that rampant sexual misconduct has been allowed for years and that leadership and management failed to report sexual assault allegations. Lawmakers cite the fact OHSU has failed to ever audit its sexual harassment, discrimination, and misconduct issues. Last week, OHSU paid $585,000 to the victim. Other racial discrimination suits have been filed against Oregon State University.

“Recent allegations on Oregon’s campuses underscores that the Legislature has not done enough to hold our universities accountable. The Legislature’s oversite in this area is much-needed so we can understand how to protect victims of harassment. The public deserves to know how their tax dollars are being spent in this area,” Senator Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer) and author of the legislation said.

The legislation would establish a bipartisan committee to investigate and hear testimony about the culture, policies, practices, and procedures that Oregon’s universities use to prevent and respond to sexual and racial harassment and discrimination.

“The Legislature must hold our universities accountable for creating a safe and inclusive space for everyone,” Senator Sara Gelser (D-Corvallis), co-chief sponsor of the legislation said. “No victim of sexual or racial harassment should ever be silenced by powerful institutions. We can let their voices be heard.”

Advocates and victims have raised concerns about the recent probe being conducted by the former Attorney General of the United States Eric Holder. In the agreement between him and OHSU, the report of the investigation was called “legal advice,” raising questions about how much of the results can be covered up. The Legislative oversite would ensure the public has access to important information while protecting victims.

The bill’s sponsors include state Sens. Kim Thatcher (R-Keizer), Sara Gelser (D-Corvallis), Kayse Jama (D-Portland), Lew Fredrick (D-Portland), Tim Knopp (R-Bend), and state Reps. Christine Drazan (R-Canby), Vikki Breese-Iverson (R-Prineville), Mark Meek (D-Oregon City), Daniel Bonham (R-The Dalles), Shelly Boshart Davis (R-Albany), Jami Cate (R-Lebanon), Bobby Levy (R-Ech0), Lily Morgan (R-Grants Pass), and Kim Wallan (R-Medford).

The bipartisan-bicameral legislation was introduced today as SJR 30 and will be considered first by the Senate.

Photo by Cam Ferland on Unsplash


--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-05-03 12:18:16Last Update: 2021-05-03 13:00:29



Special Elections Upcoming
Time to elect school boards

The next election in Oregon is May 18, 2021. This will be for local, special district elections.

The Legislative Session is having a hay day with educational bills lately. Most recently is an attempt to cover up the failure of virtual schools in SB 744, which suspends education standards to receive a diploma. As we work our way out of the COVID-19 pandemic, school boards will be faced with mopping up from aggressive executive orders that have kept our schools closed. Who we vote for on May 18 will make a difference.

Oregon Abigail Adams Voter Project provides school board candidates with a questionnaire posted on their website for voter information and public use. This year they have tied the questions with how the candidate rates subjects addressed in the legislative session.

The questions are grouped in five categories: school board and administration responsibilities, financial, school choice, student learning-curriculum/testing, and school environment and safety.

The overall tally of those who do respond says a lot about what we can expect from school boards. It is interesting to note that where the candidates who have responded mostly agree with smaller classrooms, class size being a negotiated item, training on bullying, and school choice, they were not so willing to burden businesses with the bill.

Some of the take aways from the tally of those candidates who responded are: Heads up parents. Many candidates may want to snoop on your kids through computer software (SB 594). But, they do support parents being notified when their student is a victim of harassment, contrary to HB 2631.

As more candidates respond, the dynamics of the tally may change. It’s important to check the Oregon Abigail Adams listing for your school district candidates that have responded. When competing candidates respond, you will see a comparison guide.

Maybe the most important thing the tally shows is how out of touch the Oregon legislature is with those that have to administer what they pass into law. As one of the candidates responded, “using the education system to further agendas isn't acceptable.”


--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-05-02 18:38:21Last Update: 2021-05-02 23:46:05



Portland May Day Riot
Were you expecting a peaceful demonstration?

On May 1, 2021, a gathering happened in the City of Portland that devolved into a riot.

While Demonstration Liaison Officers were in the area of Southwest 4th Avenue and Southwest Columbia Street, they intervened in an altercation where one of the subjects was arrested. There is some video of part of this incident circulating online but it does not capture the entire event or the portion when the crimes were committed.

Several items were seized including a baseball bat, body armor, a knife and a flare. 26-year-old Michael Isaacs of Portland was charged with Menacing and Disorderly Conduct II.

A vehicle caravan of about 30 cars drove near the Justice Center, then to the ICE facility. A group of about 50 people blocked traffic on South Moody Avenue and South Bancroft Street.

Between 9 and 10 p.m., one group of about 30 individuals gathered near the ICE facility. Another group of about 80-100 people gathered in Shemanski Park. Both of these events had been promoted as "autonomous demonstrations" similar to prior events where participants engaged in criminal behavior including arson, assault, vandalism and theft.

There were a number of shields brought to Shemanski Park which was another indicator those within the group intended to engage in criminal acts. The group marched to City Hall and began engaging in vandalism by breaking windows and spray painting the building. Due to the criminal activity, the gathering was declared an unlawful assembly and the crowd was ordered by loudspeaker to disperse.

Multiple windows were broken and a riot was declared due to the criminal activity that was occurring. The crowd was given direction to disperse to the west. Rather than disperse, the group marched in the streets. More individuals continued to break windows of businesses.

Several members of the crowd used umbrellas in an attempt to block police from viewing criminal acts. The group rampaging downtown began to disperse. PPB continued to display a presence in the area and make focused arrests of those engaged in criminal acts.

The group near ICE began to grow in numbers to between 50 and 60 around 11:30 p.m. As officers were making a focused arrest, a male subject in the crowd was trying to push through the officer's line. He reached into his pocket and pulled a butterfly-type knife on officers. The male ran away, then officers on bicycles located the suspect and arrested him.

Portland Police Bureau made focused arrests of individuals engaged in criminal acts including:

"Once again, under the cover of darkness, several dozen people decided to damage and destroy multiple businesses in our downtown area resulting in a riot," Chief Chuck Lovell said. "The situation became extremely dangerous when a man brandished a knife at officers when officers were simply doing their job. The officers appear to have exercised restraint and professionalism and safely apprehended this suspect. I am proud of all of our employees who worked to minimize further damage and arrest some of the criminals involved."


--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-05-02 14:49:26Last Update: 2021-05-02 15:44:29



A Dance With COVID
Opinion from an Oregon family

Note: This is a Northwest Observer Guest Editorial

For the last year, we like so many others have “danced with COVID”. We wore our mask, most of the time, stayed 6’ apart from people, except in Costco, Walmart, Safeway, etc., and washed our hands so much they dried and cracked.

During the past year we sat outside the outfield fence with binoculars so that we could watch our daughter play softball, we traveled to Idaho so that she could play in a basketball tournament, we hosted an “underground Prom” so that the class of 2020 could have some sense of normalcy as the world stopped in its tracks. During the summer we hosted a backyard wedding so that two young people could celebrate their love surrounded by their family and start their lives together. Our family paid to have our noses swabbed so that we could escape to one of our favorite Hawaiian Islands for a needed get away from the craziness of Oregon. We danced with COVID.

Our children had their public education turned upside down. One lost the end of their Freshmen year of High School and the other their Freshmen year of College. They spent most of their Sophomore year learning from their bedrooms. For our college kid it should have been a time of meeting new people, living on his own, and growing into an adult. Instead, he was back in his old bedroom stuck at home with his parents. For our daughter, it should have been a year filled with cheering at football games, pep assemblies, homecoming, winter formal, sports, and fun with friends. Instead, it was a crammed together sports seasons, no homecoming, and no winter formal. Luckily, she has great friends and we never said no to an opportunity for her to go hang out, attend a backyard bonfire or anything else that felt like a normal teenage weekend night. We danced with COVID.

Being “essential workers” me and my husband’s lives could not stop. Crops do not stop growing and employees need their jobs. We spent hours and days searching stores for PPE for our employee’s, purchased additional sanitation equipment and moved the lunch area to a large open shed. Requirements changed daily, but there was still work to be done. Our employees continued to show up to work; remote work is not possible in agriculture and tried their best to follow the rules. We danced with COVID.

We were told that if we just continued to follow the rules and non-stop changing metrics, life would return to normal. A year later it feels like that day will never come. We have watched businesses close for good and have helped friends pack to move out of state. We know we can’t pick up and go like they do because agriculture work is unlike any other business; we are tied to the land. So, we dance with COVID.

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

We have lost family members to natural causes without being able to say goodbye and we have lost family members over politics brought out by COVID disagreement. Our personal health choices have become coffee shop talk, and everyone has an opinion as to what we should or should not be putting into our body. We danced with COVID.

Like every dance, eventually the song comes to an end and so does the dance. Our dance came to an end almost 2 weeks ago. Living on a farm, seasonal allergies are a norm. We sneeze and we cough and we go to work. However, when we received a notice that we were potentially exposed to COVID we decided that our dance was over. We took the test and sure enough, we were positive. Testing did nothing but add to the statistics used by our governor to shutdown small businesses (we did not get COVID at a bar, restaurant or gym). The doctor told us to rest, drink fluids and take Tylenol if we had a fever (which we did not). Nothing different from what he would have told us if we had the flu! It has been 10+ years since we had flu shots and longer since we had the flu, and we will not lie, this flu is a doozy. However, we are surviving, and we will recover. We danced with COVID.

So, what is next? Can we toss the masks? Can we get together with friends? Can we travel? Are we now immune to getting it again? These are legitimate questions. We are told to keep the masks on, stay away from people, stay home and if we want to travel freely we still need to get a vaccine for an illness that we had and survived.

We danced with COVID, but it appears we may have to keep wearing the dancing shoes for a much longer time.


--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-05-01 13:59:37Last Update: 2021-05-01 17:21:43



Law to Address School District Diversity Ratio
Seniority no longer would be a determining factor

The House Rules Committee is one of the few committees where bills can remain active until they are “called up” by the committee chair or the Speaker of the House.

The bills can also cover just about any topic. House Rules is currently looking at bills that have to do with public meeting law, land use changes and employment law just to name a few.

One of the bills in their committee is HB 2001. The bill came to the Rules Committee after passing out of the House Committee on Education.

The bill would require school districts facing budgetary constraints to prioritize teachers for retention based on seniority, unless a teacher being retained has more merit and the retention of the teacher maintains the school district's diversity ratio.

In other words, more experienced teachers will continue to be retained unless the district has a lower seniority teacher that meets a diversity ration and then that teacher would be retained over the other teacher, based on their skin color.

Currently when a public school district in Oregon needs to or chooses to do a reduction in staffing, they do the reduction based on seniority as required by ORS 342.934. It is also typically called out in the staff collective bargaining agreement. In a session where almost, every bill has been driven by diversity, equity and recognizing historically under-served populations, this bill seems to fit the theme and should have received little resistance. It was also sponsored by The Speaker of the House, Representative Kotek (D–Portland). However, during initial hearings in the House Education Committee, it was openly opposed by the Oregon Education Association (OEA) as well as some teachers that could be considered part of the group protected by the proposed change.

Jared Mason-Gere, OEA Government Relations representative stated in testimony that, “Since the late 1990s, collective bargaining agreements across Oregon have systematically and purposefully omitted “merit”-based language in contracts due to causing difficult and chaotic layoff processes," said Jared Mason-Gere, OEA Government Relations representative. "We fear the language in HB 2001 will create a messy process of trying to reopen and renegotiate contracts. We also fear that this bill could create legal challenges that could set back affirmative hiring and retention practices even further. Legal precedent is very clear that hiring can be used to advance equity goals, but layoff cannot. It is also clear that hiring ratios can be used relative to qualified applicants but cannot be used for other populations such as population served.”

Alisha Chavez a 6th year teacher of K-2 Intensive Skills for Portland Public Schools agreed with OEA. She has stated:

“While, I fully agree with the intention of retaining Black, Indigenous, and Educators of Color, this bill has language that will harm our communities directly. It will change the language to get rid of seniority and replace with “merit” instead. Under the current bill language, an educator who might be fluent in French which is not a language used in my position would be able to bump me as they have more ‘merit’ than me”.

She is correct, in the bill, “Merit” is defines among other ways as the measurement of the ability and effectiveness of one teacher, as measured against the ability and effectiveness of another teacher, based on consideration of any of the following factors: Any languages spoken by the teacher that are not English. It says nothing about the additional language being applicable to the position, the school or needs of the students.

Oregon Partners for Education Justice, a coalition of Oregon associations including Oregon Business Council, Latino Network, Native American Youth and Family (NAYA), and the Coalition of Communities of Color, just to name a few, support the bill. They shared that “According to the 2020 Oregon Educator Equity Report, 38.5% of Oregon’s students identify as racially, ethnically and linguistically diverse, whereas only 10.7% of educators identify as such”.

Max Williams, President and CEO of Oregon Community Foundation agreed that Oregon has made progress in diversifying its K-12 workforce, but teacher diversity still lags significantly behind trends in our K-12 student population. With 62 percent of Oregon teachers of color hired in just the last 5 years, workforce diversity suffers when reductions in force are made based only on merit and seniority.

“HB 2001 offers a reasonable solution to this challenge in requiring school districts, when implementing reductions in force, to retain an educator with less seniority if the educator has more merit and their retention is necessary to maintain the district’s diversity ratio”. said Max Williams

The bill is scheduled for additional public hearing, more opinions may be presented.


--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-05-01 10:29:36Last Update: 2021-05-01 13:37:14



Where’s the Beef?
“Sanctuary State” for animals

Many of us remember the popular Wendys’ commercial with the sweet elderly grandmas.

David Michelson of Portland has filed an attack on all animal farming in Oregon when he filed Oregon Initiative Petition 13(IP 13) for the 2022 election to end animal cruelty.

This is essentially a full out attack on one of Oregon’s top economic income producers.

Oregon’s 12,000 beef ranchers raise about 1.3 million head of cattle for your organic meat pleasure. But it doesn’t stop there.

It also applies to poultry, fishing, hunting, agricultural research or teaching that involves the use of animals, and control of vermin or pests.

The bill specifies that animals can only be eaten after dying of natural causes (at which point, aged/diseased meat is not good). IP 13 is proposed as the "Abuse, Neglect, and Assault Exemption Modification and Improvement Act", which removes all references to “good animal husbandry” from state statute and makes it illegal to kill or hurt an animal for any reason other than self-defense.

If Michelson has his way, all animal food sources would give way to lab-grown meat. This is a global trend pushing the U.N. Agenda 2030, and instep with extremist proposals to eliminate 90% of red meat by 2030. Oregon seems to once again be following Colorado down a rabbit hole -- Colorado’s ballot initiative would criminalize husbandry practices.

IP13 not only criminalizes raising food animals in the state, it reclassifies animal husbandry practices as “sexual assault.”, detailed in Section 6 of the initiative. The IP makes intentionally, knowingly or recklessly causing animal physical injury as abuse in the second degree a Class B misdemeanor. First degree is when it intentionally causes serious injury or cruel death as a Class A misdemeanor.

Traditional farming and ranching would be shut down, making protein scarce. Allowing cattle to live to old age takes a lot of grain, which is already in short supply. Lack of natural proteins and grains will soon weaken the population and looking to government labs for food may likely further the agenda of total government reliance.

Recalling when Agenda 21 first became known, there was a push for animal rights giving them legal protections from humans. IP 13 is a rewrite of the same concept. If Oregon passes IP 13, Oregon would essentially be a sanctuary state for animals.

Any animal in the state would have their rights codified in law, giving them equal status with humans.

Michelson needs 112,000 people to sign his petition before summer 2022.


--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-04-30 19:37:11Last Update: 2021-04-30 20:09:35



New Oregon Elections Director Hired
From the Portland City Auditor’s Office

After a three-month, nationwide search, Oregon Secretary of State Shemia Fagan announced today the hiring of Deborah Scroggin as the new Oregon Elections Director.

Scroggin joins the Secretary of State’s office after nearly a decade with the Portland City Auditor’s Office where she oversaw city elections, the lobbying and political consultant program, and business operations.

“Deborah is the right person at the right time. Her leadership will steer the Oregon Elections Division in their ongoing work to ensure Oregonians have faith in our elections system,” Secretary Fagan said. “Deborah’s dedication to fairness and access for all Oregon voters is without question, and I am proud to have her on our team.”

A recent survey has shown an ongoing need to build confidence and trust in Oregon’s election system.

Scroggin was selected after a national search, and a rigorous interview process which included representatives from the Oregon Association of County Clerks.

“It is an honor to join the Secretary of State’s office and lead the dedicated professionals within the Elections Division,” Scroggin said. “After a period of turnover and transition, I am eager to build stability and guide the team through modernization efforts to improve elections for every Oregonian. It is a pivotal time for elections in this country. Together with the 36 county clerks across Oregon, we will continue the hard work to ensure Oregon’s elections are a model for the nation.”

Scroggin, who has a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of Oregon and a master’s degree in public administration from the Portland State University, first joined the Portland City Auditor’s Office in 2012 as the Elections Officer for the City of Portland. She has most recently served as the Programs and Operations Supervisor.

Scroggin takes over the position from Interim Elections Director Brenda Bayes. Bayes, who previously served more than 20 years in the Elections Division, including as the Deputy Elections Director, temporarily rejoined the agency from retirement beginning in January to lead through the transition.

“I want to thank Brenda for her willingness to come back into public service and for her steady leadership and commitment to the agency and division,” Secretary Fagan said. “She has been a critical component to a smooth transition over the last several months.”


--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-30 12:25:40Last Update: 2021-04-30 12:42:57



Eastern Oregon town declares crisis

The laid-back town of Baker City is now hoping to wake up the state of Oregon so as to not be so passive any longer. Oregon seems to be all about providing sanctuary for various things. We have sanctuary for undocumented humans and we may be voting on giving even animals sanctuary in 2022. The business leaders in Baker City approached the new mayor, Kerry McQuisten, and the city council with a “Common Sense Sanctuary City” resolution.

It wasn’t a slam-dunk, after all they intended to buck the Governor’s Emergency Executive Order. So, after a town hall that formed a work-group to set out a course of action, they wrote Governor Kate Brown telling her their community and business leaders were left out of the pandemic decision-making process. Receiving no response, the work group got busy drafting an Emergency Declaration.

What resulted was an official declaration in RESOLUTION No. 3881

“RESOLUTION DECLARING AN ECONOMIC, MENTAL HEALTH, AND CRIMINAL ACTIVITY CRISIS DUE TO THE CURRENT COVID-RELATED STATE EMERGENCY DECLARATION AND RELATING OSHA MANDATES AND GUIDANCE.” The resolution passed a city council by a vote of 5-2 on March 23, 2021.

WHEREAS, the Oregon Governor’s Executive Order 20-03: Declaration of Emergency due to COVID-19, and all subsequent and related OSHA guidance, and present and future executive order extensions of such are arbitrary, ineffective, and draconian;

and

WHEREAS, we as a municipality have no legal ability to summarily flout these mandates, guidelines and enforcement by OSHA, and therefore cannot protect any local business from State-directed targeting, repercussions and penalties if such local business personally chooses to;

and

WHEREAS, we also recognize that neither city, county nor state government has the legal right to flout the Oregon State Constitution or the United States Constitution;

and

WHEREAS that relate to the right to make personal decisions, the lack of science to support the lockdowns, misinformation used, a number of consequences leading to criminal behavior, and business failures as a result of the mandates. To which they resolved:

NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that we declare an economic, mental health, and crime crisis due to the current COVID-related State Emergency Declaration and related OSHA mandates and guidances, as a means of loudly and symbolically supporting our citizenry;

and

BE IT RESOLVED, the City will communicate in writing with the Governor’s Office to encourage the full opening of our city and county, re-categorization to low-population status, or suggesting other means necessary to give our citizens relief from these mandates;

and

BE IT RESOLVED, the City will support upcoming legislation, dependent upon its straightforward and unharmful wording, which provides reparations to business owners who have had their businesses and income taken without compensation;

and

BE IT RESOLVED, the City will support future statewide ballot initiatives that limit the duration and extent of Governor’s emergency powers, which may create similar lock-down scenarios during future emergencies, natural disasters, and pandemics;

and

BE IT RESOLVED, the City will share this resolution with other Oregon cities, counties, and media outlets in the hope those entities will also speak more loudly;

and

BE IT RESOLVED the City recognizes the citizenry of Baker City are free, sovereign individuals within a Constitutional, Representative Republic, not subjects or slaves, and will be recognized as such as we firmly stand to represent them.

PASSED by the City Council of the City of Baker City, Oregon and signed by the Mayor of Baker City, Oregon, this 23rd day of March, 2021.

The Governor and her staff seemingly have refused to consider a Stanford study and dismissed suggestions from the CDC, which states that “lock-downs should not be used as a primary method of controlling this disease and stopping the spread.”

Mayor McQuisten hopes that other cities will get in the fight against arbitrary pandemic mitigation measures that have proven destructive.


--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-04-29 21:08:07Last Update: 2021-04-29 22:04:01



Bills have bi-partisan support

A new round of business shutdowns highlights unbalanced government authority and has prompted reaction from the Oregon Legislative branch.

In response to new shutdown orders from the Governor’s office, House Republicans today are considering pulling bills to the House floor to bring up proposals with sponsors from both parties that would roll back COVID-19 executive orders or require additional accountability.

The announcement follows the bipartisan actions of Legislatures in New York, Texas and Michigan, where state lawmakers seek to restore balance to government decision-making.
  • HJR 18 (sponsors Rep. Reschke, Nearman, Post) - Terminating state of emergency relating to COVID-19.
  • HB 2243 (sponsors Rep. Wilde, Lewis, Evans, Owens) - Requires that declarations and extensions of states of emergency under certain statutes be accompanied by written explanations.
  • HB 3177 (sponsor Rep. David Brock Smith) - Limits types of restrictions that Governor may impose on certain businesses during state of emergency related to COVID-19 pandemic.
  • HB 3350 (sponsor Rep. Witt, Owens) - Prescribes requirements for providing education to students with disability during COVID-19 emergency.
  • HB 3243 (sponsor Rep. Reschke) - Provides that civil penalty imposed as result of violation of COVID-19 emergency rule becomes due and payable 50 years after order imposing penalty becomes final.
New York’s legislature repealed several coronavirus-related executive orders, nearly two months after stripping Governor Andrew Cuomo of pandemic-era emergency powers. Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart Cousins, a Democrat, explained the decision by saying it is time to begin removing certain restrictions and regulations that are no longer necessary to rebuild the state’s economy.

In Oregon, Governor Kate Brown has exercised emergency powers which grant authority to enact widespread restrictions on commerce, education and public gatherings without any checks and balances.

The newest shutdown orders do not reflect the current situation Oregonians are experiencing.

Today the personal protective equipment supply situation is different, the vaccination situation is different, and the treatment of patients has evolved as well. Furthermore, the regional collaboration among hospitals has been developed over the course of the pandemic.

Severe cases of COVID-19 are also less common now because nearly 70 percent of Oregon’s at-risk population is fully vaccinated. Hospital rates for parts of the state like Southern Oregon are also not increasing, yet the new shutdowns impact businesses in those communities. Two weeks ago, Asante had as many as 26 cases in the system. By last night they had 13 in house. In both Providence and Asante in Southern Oregon, only 6 patients with COVID-19 are in ICU beds.

House Republicans point out that despite these changing circumstances, the response from the Governor’s office has not changed.

“The Legislature is in Session and we have a duty to engage. Oregonians need to have a balance of power between the separate branches of government again,” said House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby.) “The decision to shut down businesses this week contradicts the newest CDC recommendations by not accounting for vaccinated individuals in Oregon. Furthermore, our businesses allow people to gather in places with standardized safety measures. There is no evidence that shutting them down will have an impact on transmission rates. If COVID guidelines in Oregon continue to ignore CDC guidelines to the detriment of families, kids and our main street businesses, we must restore the Legislature’s ability to hold the executive branch accountable.”

“There’s zero evidence that we’re anywhere close to running out of hospital capacity in Marion County from COVID-19 cases,” added Marion County Commissioner Colm Willis. “We have plenty of PPE and because of vaccinations we aren’t seeing the same high level of severity in overall cases who need hospitalization. On top of that, there is zero data to suggest that restaurants have ever been a top contributor to COVID-19 transmissions. Shutting businesses down won’t change the numbers.”

This week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidance that lifted many restrictions for vaccinated individuals, including dining at the same table without masks and social distancing. The newest shutdowns from the Governor’s office does not account for the fact that nearly a third of Oregonians have received both vaccination doses.


--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-04-29 13:19:24Last Update: 2021-04-29 16:11:16



Calls out Democrat legislators

Oregon Senate Minority Leader Fred Girod has issued a statement in response to the continued lockdown of Oregon's economy and livelihood.

“We are not obligated to let the Governor railroad Oregonians without accountability and transparency,” Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod (R-Lyons) said. “Legislative Democrats have locked people out of their Capitol building, and are actively participating in the Governor's efforts to lock working Oregonians out of their jobs. With vaccinations ramping up, we should focus on lifting Oregonians up, not putting them out of work.”

“Democrat’s refusal to take seriously their role as a co-equal branch of government is actively harming Oregonians,” Girod continued. “The Democrats are aiding and abetting the abuse against working Oregonians because it gives them more power. No one-party, no one person should have this much power. Republicans are ready to reestablish principles of checks and balances and uphold values of transparency in the legislative process to protect lives and livelihoods.”

“The Governor’s emergency powers kept kids locked out of the classroom for over a year,” Girod added. “They have led to countless Oregonians losing their livelihoods. Legislative Democrats have shown no courage to stand against the Governor’s overreach. They have failed to stand up for working families.”

“Democrats will tell you they are the party of the working class, but when given the opportunity, they have refused to stand up for their livelihoods. Republicans are standing shoulder to shoulder with working Oregonians,” Girod said.


--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-04-29 12:01:35Last Update: 2021-04-29 16:17:31



Teases re-opening in June

Governor Kate Brown has again extended her declaration of a state of emergency for COVID-19 for 60 days, until June 28, 2021, unless earlier rescinded or extended.

The declaration is the legal underpinning for the Governor’s COVID-19 executive orders and the Oregon Health Authority’s health and safety guidance.. Extending the state of emergency also helps ensure Oregon is able to fully utilize available federal COVID-19 relief and assistance.

The Governor issued the following statement:

“We are in the middle of the fourth surge of COVID-19 in Oregon, driven by more contagious variants of the disease. We must stop hospitalizations from spiking, so we can save lives, help our nurses and doctors weather this surge, and ensure no Oregonian is denied vital health care. Tomorrow, 15 counties are moving to the Extreme Risk Level, with nine more in High Risk. Hospitalizations nearly doubled in the last two weeks, to well over 300.

“At this time last year, there was so much we did not know about how to stop the spread of this deadly disease. Now, more than a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, we just have to hold on for a few weeks longer."

“I intend to fully reopen our economy by the end of June, and the day is approaching when my emergency orders can eventually be lifted. How quickly we get there is up to each and every one of us doing our part. Over 1.7 million Oregonians have received at least one dose of vaccine, and over 1.2 million are fully vaccinated against this deadly disease.

"Vaccinations are the best way to protect yourself, your friends, and your loved ones. They are also the quickest path toward lifting restrictions.

“Today, I am lifting Oregon’s executive order for price gouging related to the pandemic, because the days of hand sanitizer and, yes, toilet paper scarcity are far behind us. In the weeks to come, as the number of fully vaccinated Oregonians continues to grow, we will be able to lift the emergency orders and state regulations that have kept us safe for the past year.”


--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-04-29 10:18:42Last Update: 2021-04-29 10:39:19



State lockdowns are not working

Oregon State legislator Representative Vikki Breese-Iverson (R-Prineville) has issued a statement publicly advocating for ending the excessive and restrictive government mandated lock-downs that have plagued Oregon now for more than a year.

The statement reads as follows:

The data is becoming clearer regarding the effectiveness of lockdowns and other government-imposed responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Lockdowns are not helping reduce case counts or hospitalizations. Governor Brown’s actions are contributing to the host of negative consequences that result from lockdowns of our society, including, poor and declining mental health; suicide ideation (up 25% in 18-24-year olds); economic ruin for families and small businesses; kids being significantly set back in their education; and many students missing a pivotal part of growing up by not being able to participate in sports and other extracurricular activities.

My office received an email this week from a constituent who explained her son would not be able to compete in his high school track meet, nor take his senior class picture, because he was supposedly ‘exposed’ to COVID though he repeatedly denied being in contact with the original case. In other situations, busloads of kids are being quarantined because they have merely been on the same bus as a positive case, regardless of contact. In more dire circumstances, children have been deprived of the social interaction they need, hot meals, and the teachers and other adults who act as mentors.

My constituents have been drained physically, financially, and morally as a result of the lockdowns. Some have sold everything to make it by because they lost their jobs. Others are just now receiving their Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits after more than a year of waiting. This is heartbreaking and unacceptable.

The Oregon Health Authority and Governor Brown say we need to reinstitute lockdowns to prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed. That might make sense - if there were evidence that lockdowns worked. The truth is, I am hard-pressed to find a correlation between state management and success in slowing or flattening case rates – and so are researchers. We can see evidence of this failure both here and in other states.

In January, Newsweek reported a peer-reviewed study published in the European Journal of Clinical Investigation which analyzed coronavirus case growth in 10 countries in early 2020. “The researchers used a mathematical model to compare countries that did and did not enact more restrictive lockdown orders, and determined that there was ‘no clear, significant beneficial effect of [more restrictive measures] on case growth in any country’.”

Dr. Tom Woods, a senior fellow at the Mises Institute, added to this point when he compared Los Angeles to Sweden:

“The graph that follows may seem a trifle unfair – aren’t Sweden and Los Angeles quite different from each other? Well, sure. But if we were truly facing a catastrophic problem that could be mitigated only by lockdowns, social distancing, and masks, shouldn’t there still be a major difference between relatively laissez-faire Sweden and heavily locked-down Los Angeles? Shouldn’t the difference in results between two places with such different policies absolutely overwhelm whatever other differences exist between them, such that the superiority of the Los Angeles approach should come through clearly in the chart? And yet...”

In Oregon, we are seeing a spike in cases, but not in deaths. Texas is mask-free and 100% open while steadily declining in both new cases and deaths. Other states - Mississippi, Georgia, and Arizona - are loosening their restrictions and declining, or static, in cases as vaccine rollout nears the halfway point.

These points lead us to three conclusions:

  • Lockdowns are ineffective at managing case rates.
  • People will take voluntary measures to ensure their health and the health of their loved ones.
  • Vaccines are effective in reducing deaths among our vulnerable populations.

We are nearing the 50% vaccination mark across the state. Most of our vulnerable populations, if they chose to, have received their shots. It is time to open Oregon. People will make decisions for their safety and the safety of their loved ones. It is not our job to do it for them. The vulnerable are vaccinated. People are ready to get back to living after a year of distress and hardship. It is time to stop the arbitrary-number-guidelines, OSHA at-will fines and permanent rulemaking for a temporary issue. My constituents, and I, have had enough.

Sincerely,

Vikki Breese-Iverson

State Representative

House District 55


--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-04-28 20:36:14Last Update: 2021-04-28 21:37:14



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