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Segregation Returns to Oregon
If you’re not vaccinated, get ready to be a part of the “out” group

Today Governor Brown announced that “Oregon Health Authority (OHA) will be revising health and safety protocols for businesses in Lower Risk counties to allow for the option of creating vaccinated sections. Before this latest move of the goal posts, the following applied to the Low Risk categories:

Eating and Drinking Establishments: Indoor Recreational and Fitness Businesses (gyms, indoor K-12 sports and indoor recreation activities) Indoor & Outdoor Entertainment Establishments (aquariums, movie theaters, museums, concerts) Retail Stores / Indoor and Outdoor Shopping Centers / Malls Faith Institutions The change announced by Brown states that the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) is updating the guidance for Lower Risk counties allowing the option for vaccinated sections for businesses, venues, and faith institutions. This means that: The press release also says that the Portland Trail Blazers drove the conversation to promote the changes. They will “be the first indoor sports venue in Oregon to welcome fans back to vaccinated sections this week” Governor Brown stated. The Portland Trail Blazers appear to be going against the recent movement by professional athletes and sports teams who have been speaking out against discrimination and lack of equity. The adoption of segregated seating sections may very well end up be discriminating and take the equity discussion in the opposite direction intended.

The Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) communities are one of the lowest vaccinated groups in Oregon, according to OHA data. Approximately 23% compared to the white population at 38% and the total population of almost 51%. Does this mean that the Moda Center will not only segregate vaccinated from unvaccinated, but inadvertently also separate Oregonians by race?

--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-05-24 13:52:54Last Update: 2021-05-24 14:10:54

Senate Republicans Vote to Get Kids Back in School
Democrats kill bill along party lines, continuing the Governor’s power to lock kids out of the classroom

Senate Republicans have attempted to pass SB 867, a bill that would reopen schools for full-time, in-person instruction for the 2021-2022 school year.

According to data, Governor Brown’s arbitrary COVID-19 metrics are putting Oregon third-worst in the country on school re-openings. Barely 1/3rd of Oregon schools are in “On-Site” instruction while the majority are in hybrid.

“Kids deserve to be in the classroom,” Senator Dick Anderson, chief sponsor of the legislation, said. “It’s past time to give students a guarantee that they will get a real education next year. This past year and a half has devastated learning for our kids and wreaked havoc for parents trying to make ends meet. This bill was about making a promise to Oregon students that their education matters.”

Recent scientific studies have shown that kids hospitalized for COVID have been overcounted, further quelling fears about COVID-19 in schools. Just over a week ago, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, Randi Weingarten came out in support of getting American students back into the classroom for full-time instruction:

"Given current circumstances, nothing should stand in the way of fully reopening our public schools this fall and keeping them open,” Weingarten said in a speech. "The United States will not be fully back until we are fully back in school. And my union is all in.”

“The evidence is overwhelming that schools are safe, but Democrats believe the science is different here in Oregon. Other states have returned kids to the classroom, but our students and families are still struggling with a Governor that doesn’t listen and an education system that isn't required to meet their needs,” Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod (R-Lyons) said.

Republicans have advocated to fully fund and fully reopen K-12 schools with school districts’ recommended budget of $9.6 billion. Senate Republicans have also put forward a robust education reform agenda this session that would have given kids and parents more control over their education. Democrats have blocked all but one of them.

SB 867 was blocked from consideration by Democrats along party lines, leaving in limbo another year of education for Oregon students.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-05-24 12:14:28Last Update: 2021-05-24 12:48:02

Let’s Make Slavery Illegal in Oregon
We may have become too sensitive

Senator James Manning Jr (D-Eugene), Senator Lew Frederick (D-Portland), and Senator Rob Wagner (D-Lake Oswego) would like us to believe that Oregon was and is a slave state by what is written in the Oregon Constitution, Article I, Section 34. This is what that section reads on the Secretary of State’s website:

Section 34. Slavery or involuntary servitude. There shall be neither slavery, nor involuntary servitude in the State, otherwise than as a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted. -- [Added to Bill of Rights as unnumbered section by vote of the people at time of adoption of the Oregon Constitution in accordance with section 4 of Article XVIII thereof]

These legislators have introduced SJR 10, which proposes to amend Section 34 “to prohibit slavery and involuntary servitude in all circumstances.” There proposed revision would read: Sec. 34. There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in this state. Deleting: [the State, otherwise than as a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted].

Perhaps they didn’t see the reference to Article XVIII, Section 4, which references and repeats the same wording referring to Article I, Sec. 34. In 1925, Oregon voters repealed the constitutional provisions relating to the exclusion of African-Americans. However, the language relating to race remained in the Oregon Constitution. In 2002, SJR. 7, 2001, the voters passed Ballot Measure 14 removing historical race references. At that time, Section 34 did not trigger any connection between slavery as a race identification for the incarcerated.

We may have become too sensitive to now suggest actual circumstances would tie race together with slavery in the context of Section 34. Removing "otherwise than as a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.” was not meant to imply the incarcerated were slaves any more than anyone else. Prisons employ the incarcerated, whether voluntary or involuntary servitude, to maintain the facilities, clean our highways, make our license plate, among other things. If we remove the “involuntary” from chore assignment and discipline assignment, we have gutted the rehabilitation framework to incorporate them back into society.

If this bill is put to the voters, and we ignorantly pass it, how many people will the state need to employ, at taxpayer’s expense, to do the work that prisoners now do?

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-05-24 11:52:34Last Update: 2021-05-24 12:14:28

Social Studies in Oregon
Amending the standards

SB 702, sponsored by Oregon Democrats, is an effort to establish a task force to review social studies that may work to exclude parents.

Currently, Oregon's content standards for K-12 schools are reviewed on a rotating basis by the State Board of Education. Notably, the Senate Committee on Education recently amended the bill SB 702 to direct the State Board of Education to review social studies standards.

Senator Knopp (R-Bend) submitted Amendment A-2, which was adopted by the committee, and that amendment at least added a parent to the list of contacts and the constitution as a point of instruction. It seems the original bill did not include that specific criteria.

What makes this bill of particular concern is the treatment of “standards,” which is supposed to incorporate research of social studies disciplines and best practices into a curriculum. The bill requires as a part of the review, the State Board of Education is to consult with any combination of the following but must include at least one person who is: It seems very notable that there are no experts in the discipline of social studies on that list.

ORS 329.045, requirements for review, specifically involves “teachers and other educators, parents of students and other citizens and shall provide ample opportunity for public comment.” One parent and one educator and no public comment does not seem to meet statutory requirements.

When conducting the review, the State Board of Education is also required to consider emphasizing civics education and making more accessible instruction related to: This raises a lot of questions. Do they intend to teach children a biased view of why violent riots in Portland or justify them as a social movement? Will that teaching include how violence is being condoned because it is associated with a social movement? Is this an attempt to incorporate Critical Race Theory into the curriculum?

How are Oregon students to achieve any success when they are not guided by best practices? Without public and parent input, how can parents stay involved in their children's lives.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-05-23 14:30:54Last Update: 2021-05-23 16:10:40

Suspected Sex Trafficker Wins Re-election
Oregon democrat Dave Hunt ran unopposed

Former Democrat Speaker of the House and current lobbyist Dave Hunt of Milwaukie, Oregon was just recently caught and charged in a sex trafficking sting operation, and now it seems that he has secured re-election to the Clackamas Community College Zone 3 Board Director position, running unopposed and getting 92 percent of the total vote.

The only other option for voter's on the ballot was for a write-in candidate, which is known to be nearly impossible. Write-in candidates received 230 votes, or 7.43 percent of the total vote.

Since his arrest, Hunt has taken a leave of absence from his board duties, and his continued service to the Clackamas Community College seems unlikely.

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 also 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 during the sting, including Hunt, 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.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-05-23 14:13:14Last Update: 2021-05-23 15:49:54

Government Overcharging Itself for Labor
Because you have the votes?

Oregon is one of 29 states that has a prevailing wage law requiring that state and local governments pay a higher amount to workers on public projects than market-based wages. While these laws have the effect of raising wages of workers, they also make government more expensive and in some cases make public projects impossible.

SB 493, introduced by Senators Rob Wagner (D-Lake Oswego) and Kathleen Taylor (D-Portland) is a proposal to make significant changes in how the wage is calculated. Currently, the employment department does a survey of relevant wages and presents them to the Commissioner of the Bureau of Labor and Industries who decides what the wage will be.

Now, SB 493 proposes that the prevailing wage be the highest wage on any collective bargaining agreement -- a move which will surely drive up most wages.

What will be the final effect? Many projects simply will not be undertaken. Projects that will be undertaken will be only the most necessary infrastructure projects, while leaving behind some of the less-necessary but more glamorous parks, paths and pools.

Representative Daniel Bonham (R-The Dalles) led a Republican revolt against the bill. In his floor speech, he pondered, "Why are we doing this now? Why is this the right time? Because you have the votes?"

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-05-23 10:16:31Last Update: 2021-05-22 16:33:41

“Take your shot Oregon” at Winning the COVID Lottery
Nope. I want a dozen Krispy Kremes and a free tee shirt, too.

This week the Governor Brown announced the next plan for getting people past vaccine hesitancy, free money! During her press conference, Brown stated “If you've been waiting to get a vaccine or you just haven't gotten around to it yet, we're going to give you an extra incentive, how about a million dollars?"

So, if you are 18 years of age or older and still not vaccinated, here is your chance to be rich -- sort of. Oregonians 18 and over who receive at least one dose of the vaccine before June 27th will be entered into both a state wise lottery and an individual county drawing. Those ages 12-17, will not be left out of the game. It they also receive their first dose by June 27th, they will be entered into an Oregon Saves Scholarship drawing.

The statewide cash lottery winner will receive $1,000,000 and each county lottery winner will receive $10,000, before taxes. That’s right, lotter winning are considered ordinary taxable income for both federal and state tax purposes. That means winnings are taxed the same as wages or salary and the entire amount must be reported on the winners tax return.

If you’re the lucky statewide winner, you will have both the 8% state tax and 24% federal taxe withheld. So automatically, the $1,000.000 = $680,000 after taxes. Still not a bad deal for most working-class Oregonians. If you are the county winner, your $10,000 = $6,800 after tax obligation. There may also be additional tax implication depending on your current tax filing status. Only your accountant can answer specific tax questions.

The state will also offer five $100,000 scholarships through the Oregon College Savings Plan (OCSP). The OCSP allows for pre-tax contributions to be made to the state managed college savings accounts and students can then withdraw the funds for qualifying post-secondary education expenses.

While OCSP does not have the same income tax implications as the lottery winnings, there are still annual asset-based fee. These have varied historically between 0.25% and 0.72% depending on the types of investments the owner directs the funds to be places in. Theoretically, the $250 to $720 annual asset-based management fee charged by the state should be less than the earning of the investment. However, like the stock market, there is o guarantee on the investment.

So, for a minor intending to seek post-secondary education this might be better than winning the lottery. However, if the student choses to not attend a qualified post-secondary school option and withdraws the money for something other than education, there will be state and federal tax penalties taken out of the funds. Again, only your personal account can answer these detailed questions.

So, for the procrastinators of the world, this may be your chance to get rich if you chose to get vaccinated. For those that don’t chose to get the shot, the current Oregon Lotter jackpot is at $3, Megan Million is at $20M, and Powerball is at $218M, and every Casino in the state is up and running 7 days a week. Like they say, “you can’t win if you don’t play”. Which game you chose to play in this case is up to you.

--Terese Humboldt

Post Date: 2021-05-23 08:23:24Last Update: 2021-05-22 16:29:05

The Road to 70%
Are the goal posts going to move again?

Editor's note: A previous version of this article contained a math error. Thanks to a reader for pointing this out. It has been corrected below. Since her press conference in which Oregon Governor Kate Brown announced the target of 70% of the population vaccinated, Oregonians crave clarity on two basic issues.

When are we going to reach 70%?

The definition of who is vaccinated is not always made clear. Some reports show number of doses administered, and few count that as being vaccinated. Some count the administration of both doses -- in the case of the Moderna and Pfizer which need two doses -- which probably equals "vaccinated" for most, but the vaccines require that the subject wait two weeks for the vaccine to fully take effect, so for most, the safe definition of "vaccinated" is both doses plus two weeks.

Governor Brown's definition of vaccinated is, in her own words "the number of Oregonians age 16 and older that we need to reach with a first dose."

According to the Oregon Health Authority website as of this posting, 2,150,964 Oregonians have received at least one dose. The US Census Bureau estimates that 20.5% of the population is under 18, which means 17 and younger -- not quite an exact amount to subtract to get 16 and older, but very close. If the population of Oregon is about 4,300,000, that means that The target population is about 3,500,000 and that we are at about 61.4%.

This means we need another 299,036 people to get vaccinated to get to the golden 70%. The OHA reports that it is doing about 30,000 doses per day, and one could conservatively surmise that this number will slip due to the fact that the remaining unvaccinated people are fewer, harder to find, and in many cases harder to convince. If the OHA were to average 25,000 per day, they could get to 70% in a couple of weeks. Governor Brown is "confident we can get there in June."

What happens once we reach 70%?

Again, in Governor Brown's words, from her press conference, "Once we cross that statewide goal, yes, that means, no more county risk levels, and a lifting of most restrictions –– including capacity limits for venues and businesses, and limits on group sizes.

That sounds like good news, but she manages expectations.

Common sense safety measures, like wearing masks and physical distancing may remain in effect, in line with CDC guidance. We will continue to evaluate CDC’s recommendations on these measures and align them with Oregon’s needs. Public health will remain focused on testing, contact tracing, and continuing to monitor hospital admissions so we can do this safely. We still have some work to do to reach our 70% goal, but I am confident we can get there in June and return Oregon to a sense of normalcy.

Remember, though, this speech was delivered prior to the CDC's declaration that vaccinated persons no longer need to wear masks. Watch for the goal posts to be moved. In the little over a year that COVID-19 has been upon us, we've seen a slew of executive orders and retooling of information.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-05-22 17:01:23Last Update: 2021-05-23 12:57:35

Election Humor to be Restricted
No more joking about when to vote

Joking about elections in Oregon may about to become some real serious business.

Legislation is on the horizon which would make communicating false statements about an election illegal and punishable by a fine up to $10,000.

HB 2323 is a bill currently awaiting action in the Senate Committee On Rules. It has a public hearing scheduled on May 25th, although the public is currently not actually allowed to attend.

The legislation is summarized as follows:

Prohibits knowingly communicating materially false statement, including by electronic or telephonic means, with intent to mislead electors about date of election, deadline for delivering ballot, voter registration deadline, method of registering to vote, locations at which elector may deposit ballot, qualifications of electors or voter registration status within 30 days of primary election or special election or within 60 days of general election. Authorizes Attorney General] Secretary of State to prosecute violation and establishes civil penalty of up to $10,000 for violation. Expressly states that current prohibition on circulating materially false statement relating to candidate, political committee or measure includes circulation by electronic or telephonic means. Prohibits printing or circulation of imitation voters' pamphlet unless pamphlet is clearly marked as unofficial. Establishes fine of up to $10,000 for violation.

The bill has bi-partisan support, and is sponsored chiefly by Representative Julie Fahey (D-Eugene) Perhaps it is a good idea, perhaps not. Critics may note the potential for unequal and unequitable application of this law, and the possible danger of selective enforcement. The law may prove to be entirely unenforceable. It seems that Oregon legislators are willing to experiment with how to run the lives of Oregonians these days, so look for this bill to be passed into law in the near future.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-05-22 11:29:54Last Update: 2021-05-22 11:50:24

The OHA Has Your Vaccine Information. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
The state had a breach in health data a couple of years ago

As the debate over vaccine passports rages and a cold war between retail businesses and state COVID-19 enforcement officials brews, citizens -- even those who are grateful to get the vaccine -- are starting to question the need for the Oregon Health Authority to collect and store data on their vaccination status.

It's pretty clear from the form to request a duplicate vaccination status card that the OHA has collected information that could be a significant threat in the case of an identity theft incident.

Two years ago, the Department of Human Services had a breach in which hundreds of thousands of records containing highly sensitive identity information was compromised. The DHS released a statement, required by law, describing the breach.

On January 28, 2019 DHS and Enterprise Security Office Cyber Security team confirmed that a breach of regulated information had occurred. Nine individual employees opened a phishing email and clicked on a link that compromised their email mailboxes and allowed access to these employees’ email information. Current information indicates on January 8th, a spear phishing email was sent to DHS employees. Through our process of discovery, we learned that there were nearly 2 million emails in those email mailboxes.

The unauthorized access to the affected email mailboxes was successfully stopped. DHS is in the process of thoroughly reviewing the incident and the information involved. This investigation includes clarifying the number of impacted records that might contain personal information of clients receiving services from DHS.

Clients’ Protected Health Information under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was accessible to an unauthorized person. Client information may include first and last names, addresses, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, case number and other information used to administer DHS programs.

For some, this is just another argument against vaccine passports and the like, in which the government maintains control of the data.

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-05-21 15:06:25Last Update: 2021-05-21 17:11:09

Republicans Call for End of Emergency
Support motion to end COVID-19 state of emergency

Representative E. Werner Reschke (R-Klamath Falls) made a motion for the Legislature to consider a resolution that would end Governor Brown’s COVID-19 emergency orders.

The historically long state of emergency will soon enter its 15th month, despite access to vaccines.

The motion failed on party lines. House Democrats voted against the motion and instead supported continuing the Governor’s unchecked powers. This includes the recent new mandates on businesses to verify vaccination status of employees and members of the public.

“Vaccines are prevalent and accessible,” said House Republican Leader Christine Drazan (R-Canby) in a letter to Governor Brown. “We should be easing restrictions. The choice should be returned to people and businesses so they can follow the latest guidance from the CDC without unwarranted government mandates.”

Meanwhile, proposals from state legislators across the country are attempting to implement stronger checks and balances which Oregon currently lacks.

“The COVID pandemic has been an impetus for a re-examination of balancing of legislative power with executive powers,” said Pam Greenberg to AP, a policy researcher at the National Conference of State Legislatures.

According to the NCSL, lawmakers in 45 states have proposed more than 300 measures this year related to legislative oversight of executive actions during the COVID-19 pandemic or other emergencies.

HJR 18 was introduced by Representatives E. Werner Reschke (R-Klamath Falls, Mike Nearman (R-Independence), Bill Post (R-Keizer) and terminates state of emergency relating to COVID-19.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-05-20 14:20:51

Indigenous Peoples’ Day
Indigenous People should be alarmed

Passed into law this week is a curious bill that pleads for explanation. HB 2526 passed mostly on party lines with Democrats carrying the torch for Indigenous people. But, do they?

The bill becomes very confusing as to what the real purpose is. The bill is summarized as, “Designates second Monday of October of each year as Indigenous Peoples' Day.” However, in 1971, the second Monday in October became Columbus Day, which was declared a federal holiday In 1937.

Oregon does not observe Columbus Day as a state holiday. So is this an excuse to celebrate the day with the rest of the nation? The bill doesn’t make Indigenous Peoples’ Day a holiday, so it has no more value than Columbus Day has. Or, is the bill using the Indigenous People as a tool to belittle and critic the founding of America? After all, the bill begins with “Whereas Christopher Columbus, a man who is known to have “discovered” the Americas, came upon land that was already inhabited by Indigenous People, his historically cited contributions being either inaccurate or facially not worthy of celebrating; and Whereas Columbus’ voyage to the Americas opened the door to heinous crimes against humanity, including but not limited to the introduction of transatlantic slavery and genocidal acts against Indigenous People.”

There is a lot to push back on those two statements that are now engrained into Oregon law. For instance, you can’t push the 1619 Project and say Columbus opened the door to heinous crimes against humanity. Even though Columbus has a history of dealing in slave traffic, the Mayflower did not bring slaves to Plymouth Rock.

Indigenous People should be alarmed at how the leadership in Oregon has continuously and slowly included them into Oregon laws and invading their sovereignty to provide services. Being a part of the “underserved” and “underrepresented” is endangering the sovereignty of tribal nations. Tribal nation is used as a tool to control, and given them a used holiday is throwing crumbs of disrespect. So, what was the real purpose of HB 2526?

Senator Boquist explains it this way: “HB 2526 replaces Columbus Day with Indigenous Day instead of giving true Native Americans their own holiday. Strange the virtue signally proponents inside the Legislative Assembly did not want to give indigenous people their own day. Instead, they want to revise history. It is inappropriate to only give the first people a ‘hand me down’ day. They deserve better...”

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-05-20 10:02:01Last Update: 2021-05-20 10:42:23

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