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Fireworks Ban Proposed for Salem
“Soft power is the ability to get people to do what you want, just by asking."

The Salem City Council is poised to create a fireworks ban. Councilors Vanessa Nordyke and Trevor Phillips proposed the ban, which was introduced by Coundilor Nordyke, who said. "I move to direct staff to draft an ordinance prohibiting the sale and use of fireworks in the event of hazardous conditions during the Fourth of July holiday weekend."

Councilor Phillips gave a lengthy speech in favor of the ban. He said, "I'm of the opinion it's just easier and better if we take a simple stance of communicating what we want our residents to do...Our police and fire department have no way to enforce the ban, but that doesn't mean that we shouldn't do it...Sometimes we forget that soft power is power and that's the ability to get people to do what you want, just by asking."

He also took occasion to link the proposed fireworks ban to global climate change saying, "This June was the hottest June in Oregon that humans have ever recorded. And that we have to get used to the fact that the rate of change is increasing so when you get these climate crisis events they're just going to get more frequent and more unpredictable."

Salem Fire Chief Mike Niblock was invited to give his thoughts on the matter, which amounted to schooling the council on law, history, power and science:

"When we talk about the legal fireworks...anything that file in the air has been illegal in Oregon for years. You only have to drive across the border into Washington or any Indian reservation to be able to purchase these fireworks. Many people do purchase them, and that's the main issue we have is the illegal fireworks that are already illegal that are being lit off."

"Our conditions here in Salem -- while we do have some drought conditions -- were minimal for large fire risk. This is from the national Pacific Northwest significant fire potential forecast. So, we look at the science, every year. I can show you a ten-year history of firework related fires in our town, and I think the largest year's loss we had was $7,000. This year we had five fires related to fireworks -- about $3,000 in property loss. So, the issue of fireworks are causing a lot of fires simply is not the case in Salem."

"What we don't do is look at global warming as a reason to do a firework ban. We look at actual weather forecasts in the city."

In the end, the Council voted to study the issue.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-07-17 18:34:42Last Update: 2021-07-18 16:14:23

Rental Assistance Available
“Housing is a basic human need”

Governor Kate Brown today urged Oregonians seeking help to pay current and future rent and utility payments to apply immediately for rental assistance through OregonRentalAssistance.org.

Governor Brown noted that historic amounts of rental assistance are now available in Oregon, and urged Oregonians to apply as soon as possible:

“Housing is a basic human need, which is why I have continued to work with the Legislature and our congressional delegation to devote state and federal resources to ensure that Oregonians who have been hardest hit by the rent impacts of the pandemic have a warm, dry, safe place to live.

Qualified Oregonians can apply for rental assistance through the Oregon Emergency Rental Assistance Program (OERAP) to help pay back current and future rent. Of note, Oregonians may still qualify to receive assistance even though Oregon’s residential eviction moratorium expired on June 30.

On May 19, 2021, Governor Brown signed SB 282 into law, a bill that extended the repayment period for residential rent accrued during the COVID-19 pandemic. The bill gives renters until February 28, 2022 to repay all rent accrued between April 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021.

On June 25, 2021, Governor Brown also signed SB 282, which provides a 60-day safe-harbor period from eviction for nonpayment of rent to tenants who provide their landlords with proof that they have applied for rental assistance. In Multnomah County, the safe harbor period is 90-days. Don’t wait to seek help. OERAP is accepting applications now. Those who have begun an application should submit it right away. The program is offered to all eligible renters regardless of immigration status.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-07-16 20:38:03

3 Positions Open on Policy Coordinating Committee
Will advise Oregon Transportation Commission

Want to make a difference in transportation in Oregon?

The state's most comprehensive transportation planning document, the Oregon Transportation Plan, is getting an update, and one of the key committees is seeking three at-large members.

The goal is to have a wide variety of interests and experience reflected in the 20+ person Policy Coordinating Committee, with at-large members possibly representing youth, seniors or young families, or any other unique perspective. The committee will help advise the project team and the Oregon Transportation Commission.

“We’ll have a core membership representing the geographic and social diversity of Oregon, as well as a cross-section of interests such as active transportation, freight mobility, and climate,” said Amanda Pietz, ODOT’s Policy, Data and Analysis administrator. “We hope our at-large members will further broaden the lived experiences and diverse perspectives at the table.”

To express interest in the position:

It is due by 5 p.m., Friday, July 30.

For questions, contact Stacy Thomas at stacy.thomas@hdrinc.com or 503-784-2691.

A broad, overarching policy plan, the Oregon Transportation Plan gets updated every 15-20 years to reflect the latest trends and needs of the state's different transportation system users. The plan, also known as the OTP, sets priorities that can be influential in making investment decisions, and the update can include changes to the long-range vision, goals, policies and strategies that shape Oregon’s multimodal transportation system through 2050.

For a quick overview of the previous plan, see the Executive Summary of the 2006 OTP. To learn more about the process going forward, visit the OTP Update website.

NOTE: If selected for the Policy Coordinating Committee, ODOT will work with each member to determine eligibility and appropriate compensation in accordance with the agency’s new Equitable Engagement Compensation Policy.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-07-16 16:37:28Last Update: 2021-07-16 16:53:47

Trail Wars Escalate in Yamhill County
The deep state is seen circling the wagons

In an ongoing saga, the failed development of the Yamhelas-Westsider bike and pedestrian trail in Yamhill county has taken a political turn. A series of public records requests have revealed what both elected and non-elected officials have done to manipulate public opinion and sabotage the legal process in attempting to build a bike path at public expense through Exclusive Farm Use zoning without a Conditional Use Permit.

Over the course of the project, the State Land Use Board of Appeals has ruled five out of five times that this was an illegal action. They even awarded attorney’s fees on the fifth and final defeat handed the County. Feeling they can ignore the law, Friends of Yamhelas Westsider Trail, actively working with elected and non-elected County officials have continued to attempt to spend public dollars in a quest for a bike path.

A professionally written, misleading article by freelance writer Leah Sotille -- more a hit piece, than actual reporting -- appeared in Colorado-headquartered High Country Magazine highly critical of Commissioner Berschauer’s role in presiding over the last days of the trail. The problem with the article was all the pertinent facts were left out to mislead the reader.

A new player has emerged in the person of Phillip Higgins, a real estate broker from Newberg. Recent public records show that prior to February 3, 2021, he contacted a leftist freelance journalist named Leah Sotille to write a hit piece on County Commissioner Lindsay Berschauer. Her crime? She’s favorable to Timber Unity, an Oregon-based natural resource and agricultural activist group.

Sottile emailed back to Higgins stating she knew little about the Trail controversy and asked him for information. Higgins emailed Sottile to engage her on the project. In a later email, Higgins told Sottile that the best source of information on the Trail was Carrie Martin, Grants Administrator. Higgins became part of the Trail group as an addition to emails, also obtained by FOIA, as early as 11/23/20. He was one of a group led by Commissioner Casey Kulla plotting to move a County leased property away from a private party to gain control of what they hoped would be a Trailhead.

The plot was thwarted through legal means. County Grants Administrator Carrie Martin had the idea “floated by” her in that email. Separately, Martin was caught speaking out of both sides of her mouth about timelines to complete a Trail bridge being built illegally with ODOT grant money.

In an email to ODOT on June 17, 2020 she stated it would be 15 days to completion. That was in response to an email concerning a Oregon Department of Justice finding that the County was in breach of the terms of the grant, the basis for termination. The Oregon Department of Justice and the Oregon Department of Transportation killed the Trail, but Martin was apparently trying to save it.

In another email to Commissioner Berschauer dated February 3, 2021, Martin stated it was 10 days to completion, but on that same day, she was in possession of a letter from the contractor, Farline, stating they were 70 days from completion. It was time for the Trail proponents, which includes County officials, to circle the wagons around Carrie Martin.

Back to Phillip Higgins. In a January 19, 2021 email to carriemartinconsulting and others he suggested a “strategy session” about “real honest war”. Higgins also suggested campaign ideas to use against the Commissioners who opposed the trail.

Commissioner Kulla stoked the fire stating that the use of publicly requested emails -- inferring it was the Carrie Martin emails -- was harassment. Apparently it’s just not fair to know what County officials are plotting to do with your tax dollars. The plan to beat up on Berschauer was hatched. She knew too much and had to be silenced. The High Country piece was heavy on details of Berschauer’s private life but totally lacking in substantive matters leading to the Trail’s demise through the Oregon Land Use Board of Appeals.

Knowing that the author confessed to little knowledge of the Trail controversy and that she was told Carrie Martin was the best source of information on the subject it is quite possible that Martin is the one working hardest to circle the wagons around herself. Her consulting business works with firms who are vendors contracting to Yamhill County on projects involving grant money. She has more to lose than just her job. County Counsel Todd Sadlo is under investigation by the Oregon Bar for his role in advising the County to continue spending grant money on a project deemed illegal as long ago as three years. He too has more to lose than just his job. Both are potentially liable personally for violating ORS 294.100 regarding wanton and willful wasting of public funds.

--Tom Hammer

Post Date: 2021-07-15 20:49:34Last Update: 2021-07-15 21:20:38

City of Portland Taking Control of 82nd Avenue
The road seems to be in a constant state of disrepair

The Oregon Legislature has approved $80 million in funding to the Oregon Department of Transportation for safety projects on 82nd avenue.

This funding also secures a future transfer of the highway from state to the local city government.

In a May 2021 agreement, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) and Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT) agreed to a $185 million funding framework for eventual transfer of the roadway from state jurisdiction to local control under the city of Portland.

To address the safety issues described, roughly $95 million of the $185 million would be allocated directly toward safety improvements.

With the $80 million allocation from the legislature, ODOT and PBOT commit to making the additional investments necessary to reach the full cost to transfer. The agreement is slated to be finalized via Intergovernmental Agreement by January 2022.

“This historic funding and agreement brings real change for the thousands of residents that rely on this street. As a community organizer, I have spent the last 5+ years working on this issue." said Representative Khanh Pham (D-Portland).

82nd Avenue, also known as State Highway OR-213, is a defining roadway in Portland, however, it is also a dangerous road.

16 traffic-related deaths occurred on 82nd Avenue between 2007 and 2018. As recently as April 2021, two pedestrians were killed on 82nd Avenue.

Destinations like the Jade District and Montavilla are part of 82nd Avenue.

The road seems to be in a constant state of disrepair.

The ODOT/PBOT agreement would include the cost of bringing signals, lighting, ADA ramps (total $95 million), pavement ($78 million), and stormwater ($12 million) to state of good repair, and addressing some of the most urgent deficiencies in sidewalks and pedestrian crossings.

"Oregon Walks is dedicated to ensuring equitable outcomes along this road, not just in active transportation but also housing, economic development, place making, and safe access to schools and parks.” said Ashton Simpson, Executive Director at Oregon Walks

“This funding will transform 82nd Avenue from a dangerous dividing line into a safe, community-focused bridge,” said Senator Michael Dembrow (D-Portland).

This funding is within HB 5006, which already passed the the Oregon legislature and awaits Governor Kate Brown's signature. Once signed by the Governor, ODOT will begin implementation fall 2021.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-07-15 17:34:00Last Update: 2021-07-15 17:56:15

Salem Declares Health Care A Human Right
Designed to address only local actions that the Council can take

The Salem City Council has declared through a resolution passed unanimously that health care is a fundamental right. This occurred at their July 12 meeting.

The resolution declares that "individual wellbeing and public health both benefit when all members of a community have real, meaningful access to health care."

It commits the City Council to: The resolution is designed to address only local actions that the Council can take.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-07-14 17:58:05Last Update: 2021-07-14 21:34:38

Portland Winterhawks Rebrand
“We are so proud to finally have our own identity”

The Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League, have revealed a new brand identity, including a new primary, secondary and wordmark logos, as well as a revised color scheme.

“We are so proud to finally have our own identity,” began Michael Kramer of Winterhawks Sports Group, owner and managing partner of the franchise. “We feel our new look is fresh and unique, one that we are excited about and believe our community will be as well.”

The club’s new primary logo, a right-facing hawk featured with a predominantly white head, also carries the tradition of former colors black and red. The new scheme adds “celly gold” and also squall gray, a color distinct to the new Winterhawks brand. The palette comes together on the bird to take place of an existing emblem that began representing the organization after being loaned in 1976.

Also featured on the bird head are two feathers, carrying the legacy of the franchise’s roots and serving as a subtle nod to the feathers in the previous logo. The bottom of the hawk’s head includes Mount Hood in the aforementioned new squall gray, an iconic mountain from the Cascade Range synonymous with the Portland area. Located within the Mount Hood figure are also the letters “W” and “H”, for further characterization of Winterhawks. The previous logo was the same one used by the Chicago Blackhawks.

“Under a new ownership group led by Michael Kramer and Kerry Preete, the Portland Winterhawks are embarking on a new chapter in franchise history, so it is only fitting they do so with a new primary logo design that truly represents Portland, the Pacific Northwest and its great fanbase,” commented WHL Commissioner Ron Robison. “The Winterhawks have a long history of success in the Portland market and I am confident their passionate fans will embrace this fresh approach and unique design when the WHL Regular Season opens in October.”

The new brand identity was created in collaboration with Portland Gear, a local Portland-based company and designed by Brian Gundell, a University of Oregon graduate that has created work for NHL, MLB, NFL, MLS, MiLB, Adidas and Under Armour.

“We are very excited to played a role in the creation of a new identity for one of the Portland’s four major sports teams,” Marcus Harvey, owner of Portland Gear remarked. “This project was many months in the making and we’re thrilled to finally be able to showcase it.”

The refreshed color scheme can also be seen in the club’s new secondary logo, which features a revitalized edition of the “Portland P” that the team has utilized in the past. The logo will be worn on the team’s jerseys as a shoulder patch, with the P being in gold font at the forefront of two hockey sticks in squall gray. “Est. 1976” – a nod to the 45-year success of the franchise in The Rose City, one of the longest tenured in the WHL, is also included on the patch. “Winterhawks” can be seen hung in a banner atop the logo.

The team’s new identity goes into place effective immediately.

New Winterhawks brand gear is currently available for purchase at ShopWinterhawks.com

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-07-14 17:16:13Last Update: 2021-07-14 18:10:21

Kate Brown Appoints Klamath County Judge
Her appointment is effective immediately

Governor Kate Brown announced today that she will appoint Kelly Kritzer to the Klamath County Circuit Court to fill a vacancy created by the retirement of Judge Cameron Wogan. Kritzer currently serves as the probate commissioner and law clerk for the Klamath and Lake County Circuit Courts.

Her appointment is effective immediately.

“Kelly Kritzer’s experience has given her a deep familiarity with the varied work of the Klamath County Circuit Court, and will enable her to hit the ground running immediately,” said Governor Brown. “I am pleased to appoint her to the bench.”

Kritzer grew up in Michigan and earned her bachelor’s degree in 1991 from the University of Michigan.

Kritzer went to law school at Willamette University. After graduating in 2003, Kritzer served as a law clerk for the Klamath County Circuit Court for three years and then as a Klamath County Deputy District Attorney. After leaving the DA’s office, Kritzer went into private practice from 2008 to 2016. In 2017, she was hired into her current role as probate commissioner and law clerk, where she provides legal research and writing support for judges in Klamath and Lake Counties.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-07-14 17:11:53Last Update: 2021-07-14 17:43:51

Second Amendment Sanctuary Movement Spreads
Since 2015, more counties and cities have taken action

The Second Amendment Sanctuary Ordinance was a campaign drive in Oregon spearheaded by Rob Taylor that now encompasses 23 counties. He led a movement to get counties to adopt a Second Amendment sanctuary resolution in 2013-2015. It was the same Second Amendment Preservation Ordinance volunteers put on the ballot starting in 2018 using the initiative process.

The initial counties are Baker, Columbia, Coos, Curry, Douglas, Josephine, Klamath, Lake, Linn, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa and Wheeler counties. Crook County was actually the first to release a Second Amendment Proclamation on May 15, 2013. It all started to come together in 2015 with eight additional counties passing various Second Amendment protections: Since 2015, more counties and cities have taken action. Supporters believe they have a legal defense against the state and federal government in the Constitution. The supporters of gun control laws argue that cities and counties cannot override state laws. But Rob Taylor says the current Second Amendment Preservation Ordinance was crafted by legal minds to withstand a court challenge. In two counties, Lincoln and Jackson, the voters rejected the initiative on the ballot last November.

Rob Taylor is hopeful of covering the state with Second Amendment protections that will have the effect of killing bills in the legislature.

It seems like the Portland riots have had more than one impact on the state.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-07-14 17:04:23Last Update: 2021-07-14 17:16:13

Small Explosions in Portland
Book exchange finally has books flying off the shelf...

On July 10, 2021 at about 11:33 p.m., Portland Police officers responded to the sound of a loud explosion in the area of Northeast 87th Avenue and Northeast Fremont Street.

Officers arrived and found a book exchange box had been destroyed.

There was debris of wood and books spread around the scene. Flying debris appeared to have caused minor damage to at least two residences, but nobody was injured.

On July 12, 2021 at about 1:18 a.m., officers responded to the sound of a loud explosion on Northeast 148th Avenue. When they arrived they found a brick mailbox enclosure and a mailbox near Northeast 148th Avenue and East Burnside Street had been destroyed. Debris landed up to one hundred feet away. Nobody was injured.

These incidents are under investigation by the Metropolitan Explosives Disposal Unit (EDU) and the Portland Fire Arson Investigations Unit.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-07-13 19:04:53Last Update: 2021-07-13 19:26:12

Kate Brown Invokes Emergency Conflagration Act
In response to Grandview Fire

Governor Kate Brown has announced that she has invoked the Emergency Conflagration Act in response to the Grandview Fire that broke out in Jefferson County on the afternoon of Sunday, July 11th.

The fire is estimated to be 2,000 acres in size and is located near Culver, where there are Level 3 evacuations in place.

The fire is threatening structures in Jefferson and Deschutes Counties. The Office of the State Fire Marshal Red Incident Management Team will assume unified command with the Oregon Department of Forestry, and will work to bring resources from counties around Oregon to assist in the response.

“With several large fires burning throughout Oregon, I want to reiterate how important it is for all Oregonians to be prepared and to remain vigilant about fire prevention, especially with activities that could spark fires," said Governor Brown.

In accordance with ORS 476.510-476.610, the Governor determined that a threat to life, safety, and property exist due to the fire, and the threat exceeds the firefighting capabilities of local firefighting personnel and equipment.

The Governor's declaration cleared the way for the State Fire Marshal to mobilize firefighters and equipment to assist local resources battling the fire.

The Office of the State Marshal has mobilized a task-force from Marion County to address the immediate need on the Grandview Fire.

The Office of the State Fire Marshal’s Red Incident Management Team was also mobilized, along with three additional task-forces to support the protection of life and structures. OSFM personnel responded with a Communications Unit and a cache trailer loaded with incident support supplies, tools to enhance defensible space around structures, and other provisions firefighters need to inhabit a fire camp.

--Bruce Armstrong

Post Date: 2021-07-12 18:55:34Last Update: 2021-07-12 19:08:17

Peace Corps Going Door-to-Door in The Dalles
“A lot of people don’t know it’s free, or they don’t know you don’t have to have insurance, and you don’t need ID”

Peace Corps volunteers are going door to door in The Dalles to spread the word about the mobile COVID-19 vaccine clinic at St. Mary’s Academy. The clinic is only here through next Wednesday, July 14, and this is a final push to get the word out.

The clinic is open daily through July 14 (except for Monday July 12), from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The volunteers work in teams of two, and they concentrate on apartment complexes, so they can reach the most people in the quickest time. They have identified some 500 affordable housing units to visit.

Max Sullivan is the team coordinator for the 10-person group of Peace Corps volunteers assigned to The Dalles for the final days of the mobile vaccine unit at St. Mary’s, located at 1112 Cherry Heights Road.

Most of the volunteers will be working at the vaccine clinic, while others will knock on doors and hand out flyers about the clinic, Sullivan said. They distribute flyers at businesses in the mornings, and start visiting apartments at around noon, so they don’t wake anyone up.

Vaccines are free, and no appointments, insurance or ID are needed at the drive-up/walk-in clinic. Wasco County residents get a $50 VISA gift card for getting the vaccine. Offered is the Pfizer vaccine, for those 12 and older, and the one-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. Those who need a free ride to the clinic can call the LINK bus at 541-296-7595.

Peace Corps volunteers have already knocked on thousands of doors in the Portland metro area. “A lot of people don’t know it’s free, or they don’t know you don’t have to have insurance, and you don’t need ID,”

“A surprising number of people don’t know how easy it is,” said Peace Corps Volunteer Charlie Yow. They only know about the early months, when getting a vaccine was difficult. Baboucarr Jallow, a Peace Corps volunteer, said once people learn they can get something free, such as a gift card, “they start coming out.”

Sullivan said the gift cards don’t turn a “no” into a “yes,” but it incentivizes people who “weren’t in a hurry” to get the vaccine to go ahead and get one.

Sometimes volunteers do door-knocking one day and work a clinic the next, and they see people they’d talked to the previous day coming to the clinics. “We know it works,” Sullivan said of doorknocking. “It’s very important to say it’s a personal decision and we’re not forcing it on anyone,” Sullivan said.

Peace Corps Volunteer Judy Jones said in-person outreach is effective. “It’s just talking to people and finding out what makes them motivated to do it.”

Someone answers the door about half the time. “If you get 100 doors and two or three are interested in it, that’s something,” Sullivan said. “Usually it’s more.”

They use the translation application Voiance to help them if they meet someone who doesn’t speak English.

“Within less than a minute we have someone on the line that can translate any language,” Sullivan said. The vast majority of people are polite, but the volunteers are trained in how to calm a situation if need be.

Their main goal is simply to notify people of the clinic and that it’s free. They are also able to answer general questions about the vaccines.

The Peace Corps volunteers were all evacuated from abroad in 2020 because of the pandemic. In all, 158 volunteers were sent to five states to help with vaccinations. It is only the second time in the Peace Corps’ history that volunteers have worked in the United States. The first time was during Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-07-12 10:36:19

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