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More Robust Government Oversight Recommended
Audit finds need for improvement in Oregon

An audit has been released by the Oregon Secretary of State’s Audits Division that finds that the Oregon Government Ethics Commission (OGEC) and state ethics laws could be better leveraged to improve ethical culture and trust in government.

The audit, which looked at the structure of OGEC and the state laws that govern its work, found that Oregon’s ethics framework and OGEC operations are generally aligned with other states and with leading practices. However, the audit identified a number of areas where the commission could be strengthened and given more independence.

“The Oregon Government Ethics Commission, through its professional staff and board members provide oversight to ensure accountability in Oregon government at every level,” said Secretary of State Shemia Fagan. “This audit provides a roadmap for increasing confidence and trust in Oregon government by recommending steps that should be taken to build stronger independence and oversight.”

The audit makes 14 recommendations, which include statutory changes as well as improvements to systems within the commission. Among the recommendations were to: ​​​​​​​The commission is already in the process of making positive steps toward implementing two of the recommendations included in the audit. Senate Bill 60 would expand the preliminary review period from 30 to 60 days and Senate Bill 63 would allow commissioners to serve more than one term.

​​​​Performance audits identify improvements an agency or program can make to better achieve its objectives and mission. These audits are conducted in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards. Those standards require that auditors plan and perform the audit to obtain sufficient, appropriate evidence to provide a reasonable basis for findings and conclusions based on audit objectives.


--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-05-05 10:41:55Last Update: 2021-05-05 11:43:57



Bank Robbery in Portland
Suspect was wearing a face covering

On Tuesday, May 4th, 2021, at about 12:45 p.m. Portland Police responded to a report of a robbery with a knife at a bank in the 4500 block of North Interstate Avenue. It seems this is a U.S. Bank branch.

The suspect, who was taking advantage of the Draconian, statewide mask wearing mandate in Oregon, made a demand for money via demand note and claimed to have a knife. The robber obtained cash from the victim teller, and fled the branch.

This tends to raise the question of why there are so few licensed, concealed firearm carriers in Multnomah County, but when considering local policies and attitudes towards firearms in general, it comes as no surprise. A legal, firearm carrying individual willing to intervene would have easily deterred the crime.

Responding officers gathered suspect information and searched the area, which led them to the 4000 block of North Winchell Avenue. Officers found a person matching the suspect description, identified as 26-year-old Benjamin Patrick Murphy, in the 4000 block of North Winchell Avenue and took him into custody.

Benjamin Patrick Murphy has face tattoos.

It is highly likely the suspect would never had robbed the bank, had normal bank face covering policies been in place.

Officers recovered evidence related to the robbery.

Murphy was booked into the Multnomah County jail on a US Marshal Hold for bank robbery.

It seems that in a bank, logic would prevail, and masks or face coverings would not be allowed for security purposes. This has always been normal bank policy, until 2020. Those employees who work in the banking industry have repeatedly raised these concerns, in fear for their personal safety and lives, yet the industry has not challenged the one-size-fits-all rules set forth by the Oregon state government.

Local officials and the main stream media seem to be okay with perpetuating the nasty division caused by the mandate to constantly wear masks, despite the lack of evidence that it is helping keep people healthy.


--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-05-05 09:50:54Last Update: 2021-05-05 12:39:14



Oregon OSHA Says Permanently Wear Masks
Until they tell you to stop

Oregon Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA) has adopted a rule to maintain social distancing measures for workers across the state against the coronavirus.

Although the rule includes several changes since the rule was proposed in late January, the basic requirements are largely the same as they have been since 2020.

Oregon OSHA states the rule will be repealed when it is no longer needed. As with the temporary rule it replaces, the rule includes such health protection measures as physical distancing; use of face coverings; employee notification and training; formal exposure risk assessment and infection control planning; and optimization and maintenance of existing ventilation systems.

One of the most significant areas of public comment concerned the lack of a specific sunset date or other trigger to automatically repeal the rule.

Oregon OSHA determined that the ongoing Covid outbreak require that the rule be indefinitely extended.

Oregon state law does not allow a rule using that temporary process to be in place more than 180 days.

“We reviewed all of the comments – including the many comments that opposed the rule – and we gave particular consideration to those comments that explained their reasoning or provided concrete information, said Michael Wood, administrator of Oregon OSHA. “Although we chose to move forward with the rule, the final product includes a number of changes based on that record."

“At the same time, we are keeping in place key protections for workers as part of Oregon's larger and ongoing project to defeat COVID-19," Wood said. “To allow the workplace COVID-19 protections to simply go away would have left workers far less protected. And it would have left employers who want to know what is expected of them with a good deal less clarity than the rule provides."

Because Oregon OSHA determined it is not possible to assign a specific time for a decision to repeal the rule, Oregon OSHA has committed to consulting with the Oregon OSHA Partnership Committee, the two Infectious Disease Rulemaking Advisory Committees, the Oregon Health Authority, and other stakeholders to help determine when the rule can be repealed.

The first of these discussions will take place no later than July 2021, and will continue every two months until the rule has been repealed. The indicators factoring into the decision will include infection rates (including the rate of spread of COVID-19 variants), positivity rates, and vaccination rates, as well as hospitalizations and fatalities.

While the final rule broadly reflects the temporary rule, it also includes some significant changes. Those include: The final rule also makes clear that the risk assessment, infection control plan, and infection control training completed under the temporary rule do not need to be repeated as a result of the adoption of the final rule.


--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-05-04 22:30:01Last Update: 2021-05-04 23:03:37



Kate Brown Goes Back and Forth on Lockdowns
Oregonians are getting whiplash

Just as restaurants threw out their food and laid-off workers, the Governor has now decided to lift her lockdown starting on Friday.

Her announcement comes after intense statewide blow-back and criticism for using arbitrary metrics to shutdown thousands of Oregon businesses.

“Oregonians deserve stability, but the Governor is giving them whiplash. Local business owners and workers cannot even plan their lives a week in advance, ”Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod(R-Lyons) said. “No one person should have all this power over the everyday lives of Oregonians. This reversal further highlights the need for the Legislature to hold the Governor accountable and pass legislation to check her abuses of power."

”Republican legislation like SB 533 and 789 would restore democratic processes and balance to government decision-making. Under current law, the Governor has complete power over who can work and earn a living when she declares an emergency. Republican proposals would protect Oregonians against the arbitrary decisions of one person and give Oregonians stability."

Senate Bill 533 would prohibit the Governor from taking actions that would keep Oregonians from working or operating their businesses.

Senate Bill 789 will require the Governor to get the Legislature’s approval of an emergency declaration after 60 days.


--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-05-04 18:49:20Last Update: 2021-05-04 19:15:09



Is There Any Bipartisanship Left In The Session?
Current challenges to shut-down orders

The Oregon House Republican Caucus announced last week that in response to new shutdown orders from the Governor’s office, they want to pull bipartisan bills to the House floor to bring up proposals with sponsors from both parties that would roll back COVID-19 executive orders and require additional accountability.

They are following the bipartisan actions of Legislatures in New York, Texas and Michigan, where state lawmakers seek to restore balance to government decision-making.

The following bills have bipartisan support: This week, 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.

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.

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.

Many Oregonians are suggesting that Governor Kate Brown should quit hiding behind her mask, follow federal guidance and open the state.


--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-05-04 16:06:02Last Update: 2021-05-04 19:58:45



Democrats Block Legislative Oversight of Emergency Powers
Kate Brown’s power will remain unchecked

Checks and balances are meant to exist within our constitutional, republic government. It is one way to protect the governed people from potential tyranny.

Sadly, this idea does not seem to be popular amongst Oregon Democrats, who are happy to completely hand over any legislative power that would challenge the mandates of Governor Kate Brown.

Oregon House Legislators voted to consider a bill on the House floor that would give the Legislature oversight on Governor Kate Brown’s emergency powers and sole authority over the COVID-19 response.

Republicans moved to pull HB 2243 out of committee directly to the House floor for a vote.

The motion did not receive the required number of votes to pass. All Republican members voted in favor to make the Governor accountable to the Legislature.

28 Democrats voted against the motion, maintaining the Governor’s sole authority over COVID-19 and unchecked ability to shut down businesses.

The decision is in response to the Governor’s announcement last week to unilaterally extend her own emergency powers again, granting her the ability to issue shutdowns without involving another governing body.

County commissioners have repeatedly asked the Governor to be more targeted in her decisions. Currently, the statewide threshold for “extreme risk” designation disregards the fact that hospital cases of COVID-19 are decreasing in some counties where businesses must now close.

“The Legislature is in Session and we have a duty to engage,” House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby) previously said. “Oregonians deserve a balance of power between their separate branches of government again.”

HB 2243 (chief sponsors Rep. Wilde, Lewis, regular sponsors Rep. Cate, Evans, Hayden, Leif, Levy, Moore-Green, Morgan, Owens, Post, Reschke, Wallan, Wright) - Requires that declarations and extensions of states of emergency under certain statutes be accompanied by written explanations.


--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-05-04 13:38:27Last Update: 2021-05-04 14:27:15



Suicide Hotlines
Never underestimate the ability of tax-and-spend Democrats to create bigger government

There are many fine suicide hotline programs and all of them could go away in an instant, replaced by a one-size-fits-all state operated program, supported by a new tax. Most of the current suicide prevention hotlines are run out of the county mental health providers.

Nationally there has been a call for a 9-8-8, system, modeled on 9-1-1 systems in which one three number combination can be dialed anywhere and all the switching mechanisms will identify it and route it to where it needs to go. Suicide prevention hotlines are a perfect application of this tool. Imagine a distraught young person or perhaps a veteran. They just need to talk to someone. One could easily see how it could make a difference by merely dialing 9-8-8, than having to make several calls or poke around online to find the right number.

Never underestimate the ability of tax-and-spend Democrats to take an important issue like suicide prevention and use it to create bigger government and increase taxes. HB 3069, introduced by Representative Tawna Sanchez (D-Portland) creates a statewide 9-8-8 center supported by a tax on all phones. Presumably, the 15 or so existing, functional systems will just fade away.

The size of the tax increase has not been determined, but Oregonians who just had their cell phone taxes increased for rural broadband may not have an appetite for another tax increase -- whatever the size. The bill has passed out of the House Committee on Behavioral Health and is in the House Committee on Revenue.


--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-05-04 09:25:29Last Update: 2021-05-04 10:37:37



Oregon Democrat Caught in Sex Trafficking Sting
Was formerly democrat House Majority Leader

53-year-old Democrat David Hunt of Milwaukie, Oregon has been caught and charged in a sex trafficking sting operation, according to the Portland Police Bureau.

David Hunt is the former Oregon Speaker of the House during the 2009-11 Oregon legislative session and the Democrat House Majority Leader from the 2007-2009. He is also a current Clackamas Community College board member.

Hunt served as a representative in the Oregon state legislature for District 40, where he represented the Clackamas area. He served from 2003 to 2013.

Hunt helped to pass a bill criminalizing sex trafficking in 2007.

The Portland Police Bureau's Human Trafficking Unit cited 8 men total, including Hunt, in the undercover operation, conducted in April 2021. They were lured through known trafficking websites.

Hunt, along with others arrested apparently arranged payment for sexual acts. Hunt will be charged with at least Commercial Sexual Solicitation.

Hunt was unavailable for comment.


--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-05-03 12:19:08Last Update: 2021-05-03 20:48:22



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.

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



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