Oregon Republican Party State Central Committee Meeting
Saturday, May 21, 2022 at 7:30 am
Including election of a new Vice-Chair
Marion Post 661 VFW
630 Hood Street, NE
OREGON FREEDOM RALLY
Saturday, June 4, 2022 at 12:00 pm
Oregon's premiere annual event for grassroots conservatives sponsored by Oregon Liberty Alliance and others. Featuring Dinesh D'Souze, Elisha Krauss, Scott Rasmussen and Isabel Brown. Lunch included at $65 per person, under 16 are free. Doors open at 11am to network with exhibitors. Register at: www.OregonFreedomRally.com
Wingspan Event & Conference Center, 801 NE 34th Ave, Hillsboro, OR 97124
DALLAS Community-wide ONE Service
Sunday, June 5, 2022 at 10:30 am
ONE Community joined together for a community wide Worship Service.
Fellowship and coffee at 10:30, Service at 11am.
The World Athletics Championships are coming to Eugene this summer (July 15-24 2022), the first time in history that the championships will be held in the United States. This mega-sporting event will showcase the best track and field athletes in the world. The event will bring 2,000 athletes from more than 200 nations, all competing for 49 gold medals. About 20,000 to 25,000 attendees are expected per session, with most days hosting two sessions (both morning and afternoon).
Gathering of Eagles/Rally Around the Flag
Saturday, September 10, 2022 at 10:00 am
Watch for details, sign up for Oregon Liberty Coalition (OLC) alerts and information. email@example.com
The Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) has approved penalties in several stipulated settlements for violations committed by recreational marijuana licensees, placed restrictions on three recreational marijuana licenses, and approved a temporary rule adjusting a Cannabis Tracking System requirement.
Oregon lawmakers approved a series of bills that will continue the transformation of the OLCC’s regulatory responsibilities from an agency focused on oversight of the alcohol industry to a regulator engaged in consumer protection of alcohol and cannabis products, control of adult intoxicants, and upholding public health and safety laws.
The agency’s evolving mission is reflected in a law changing the agency’s name to the Oregon Liquor & Cannabis Commission that takes effect August 2, 2021.
The OLCC also provided technical support to legislators working to curb illegal hemp and marijuana production and bring hemp produced intoxicating products under stricter control.
Currently Delta-8-THC, which is chemically extracted from hemp, can be sold to anyone regardless of age at neighborhood convenience stores.
House Bill 3000 requires the OLCC to keep THC products away from kids. HB 3000 also directs OLCC to work the Oregon Department of Agriculture and other state and local government agencies to crack down on illegal cannabis grows.
“What’s going on in southern Oregon with the cartel takeover of cannabis growing through the guise of hemp and our role in being able to enforce that is all incredibly important,” said OLCC Executive Director Steve Marks. “We and our partners are poised to begin eradicating this illegal activity, to bring stability to disrupted communities starting in Jackson and Josephine counties, and to ensure that our legal, licensed, tax-paying cannabis licensees aren’t being undermined by illegal market activity.”
The legislature approved the OLCC’s plan to modernize its licensing system and alcohol distribution and tracking infrastructure, approving funding for information technology upgrades and a new consolidated warehouse. Even before the pandemic distilled spirits sales have grown steadily year-over-year straining the existing capacity at OLCC’s two warehouses. The OLCC has been laying the groundwork to acquire a new warehouse for more than a year.
”Where this agency has to go, we really have to help all of our licensees,” said Marks. “The hospitality industry, alcohol and cannabis move on to post-Covid recovery. We’ve got a lot of challenges there for the industry next two years. To make sure Oregon’s economy is strong and we do our part with that with the resources given to us.”
Commissioners ratified the following violation fines and suspensions based on stipulated settlements (detailed information on specific cases can be found on the OLCC website).
Confederated Tribes and Federal government working together
After twelve years of collaboration, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has completed a land exchange with the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs Reservation of Oregon (CTWSRO), with support from the Bonneville Power Administration (BPA). The Pine Creek/Spring Basin Land Exchange was authorized in the Omnibus Public Land Management Act of 2009, to consolidate both tribal and Federal lands.
As part of the exchange, the BLM conveyed approximately 4,200 acres to the CTWSRO. The BLM acquired roughly 4,500 acres, adding over 2,700 acres to federal ownership within the Spring Basin Wilderness Area (SBWA) and over 2.25 miles of federally managed river frontage along the John Day River.
The CTWSRO owns and manages the 34,012-acre Pine Creek Conservation Area (PCCA) adjacent to the newly designated SBWA. The Federal lands being conveyed to the CTWSRO are within the 10 million acres ceded to the United States by the CTWSRO in their 1855 Treaty. With this exchange, the CTWSRO will be able to incorporate the BLM parcels, currently scattered throughout the PCCA, into their conservation area and manage them for fish, wildlife, and watershed mitigation purposes in collaboration with the BPA under an approved conservation easement and management plan.
The completion of this exchange seems to show a coordinated effort by the BLM, the CTWSRO, and the BPA to work together toward the goal of providing for more efficient land management for all agencies and an increased benefit to the public who enjoys these lands.
The event is expected to generate $11 million in economic impact
More than 2,000 athletes and their supporters from around the world are heading to Salem for Ironman’s latest endurance competition.
Ironman 70.3 Oregon will take place on Sunday, July 25, 2021, beginning at 6:00am in Riverfront Park.
For decades, Ironman events have attracted athletes to compete against each other and the grueling course itself. This year’s Ironman 70.3 Oregon consists of a 1.2-mile swim down the Willamette River from Minto-Brown Island Park to Riverfront Park, followed by a 56-mile bike ride South on River Rd. S. towards the Ankeny Natural Wildlife Refuge, and finishes with a 13.1-mile run from Riverfront Park through Minto-Brown Island Park and back.
The city and their partners in tourism, including Travel Salem, are hosting Ironman 70.3 Oregon, which is expected to generate approximately $11 million in economic impact for the Salem region. Details about the course, including maps, volunteer opportunities, and information about park and street impacts, can be found at Ironman 70.3 Oregon.
The areas surrounding the more than 70-mile race course will remain open to the public but significant crowds and limited parking should be expected. Several road closures are planned and signs are posted in these areas warning drivers of the traffic impacts that may occur throughout the day.
“The decision is a positive step for the rule of law and a setback for lawsuits that hamstring states from running efficient elections.”
“The two Arizona laws were challenged under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, 52 U.S.C. § 10301, and under the 15th Amendment’s ban on intentional race discrimination in voting. The result should make it harder for Democrats to bring knee-jerk lawsuits over every change in voting laws without showing that they present a genuinely discriminatory obstacle to the overall opportunity to vote. The Court also made clear that a Section 2 case cannot be based on attacks on the purpose or intent of the legislators without showing that there was, in fact, a discriminatory effect on the opportunity to vote.”
The Legal Information Institute at the Cornell Law School notes the gains made by the State of Arizona:
“Helen Purcell, in support of Arizona, argues that over the years Arizona has taken considerable steps in their voting rights laws to assure ease of voting and equal opportunity for all citizens. From absentee voting, early voting, accommodations for those with disabilities, and emergency voting, Purcell maintains that Arizona has done its duty to assure accessible voting for all its citizens. The Republican Governors Public Policy Committee, in support of Arizona, agrees that Arizona’s laws serve to make voting easier and secure, and do not result in discrimination of any particular racial group. Indeed, RPPC claims that as Arizona’s population has increased, its voter turnout has steadily kept pace which shows that voter disenfranchisement is not an issue. But allowing third-parties to collect votes, RPPC contends, would take away the integrity of secure voting and serve to devalue the system”
Secretary of State Shemia Fagan’s passionate statement gave no details as to how this US Supreme Court decision effects or impacts citizens voting in Oregon. Some citizens believe the Secretary of State’s office should not be a partisan office but should be managed for the benefit and rights of all Oregonians.
Oregon counties have yet to weigh in as to how this will affect or will not affect how each county runs their elections.
As of the end of 2020, there were 636,000 active recipients
Oregon again swims upstream passing the Sanctuary Promise Act. In its wake, U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen ruled in favor of nine states against the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. Judge Hanen said President Barack Obama exceeded his authority when he created the program without providing a pathway to citizenship. The DACA 2012 memo enables certain young immigrants who are in the country illegally and were brought to the U.S. as children to live and work in the country for two-year periods and allows renewal. The ruling halted new applicants but allows immigrants currently protected to keep their status allowing DACA renewals while the case goes through the appeals process. As of the end of 2020, there were 636,000 active recipients. That doesn’t nearly cover the fate of 11 million undocumented people. Plaintiff states were able to successfully prove that the DACA program has increased states’ costs associated with health care, education and law enforcement.
The Sanctuary Promise Act, HB 3265 waiting for the Governor’s signature, ensures public bodies and Oregon law enforcement agencies cannot deny services, benefits and other opportunities due to immigration status or federal immigration action, or inquire about one’s immigration status, unless a criminal investigation is ongoing. The bill clarifies guidelines around Oregon’s interaction with federal documentation requirements in order to improve access to public entities and social services.
The Department of Justice estimates the need of $905,074 of General Funds. The Department of Corrections indicates that the provisions of this bill may endanger the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program grants. The grant funds are intended to partially offset the cost of incarceration relative to the actual undocumented population in the prison system. DOC estimates the grants at $2.5 million Federal Funds per biennium. The grants require that certain information be provided to the U.S. Department of Justice concerning adults in custody and it would appear this measure would prohibit disclosing this information. This may put in jeopardy the Department of Correction’s ability to apply for these grants.
HB 3265 prohibits local law enforcement and other public entities from gathering and sharing immigration information with federal immigration authorities or otherwise assisting immigration law enforcement. The bill also ensures that immigration detention centers cannot operate in Oregon and prohibits federal immigration authorities from carrying out warrantless arrests in Oregon’s courthouses and their vicinities. House Bill 3265 also provides an option to hold accountable individuals and entities that violate this policy.
Senator Chris Gorsek (D-Troutdale), co-sponsor stated, “Oregonians value fairness and recognize an individual’s humanity is above documentation status. It’s on us to change our systems and prove that every one of us deserves equal treatment under the law.” Which laws might he be referring to?
Criminal justice system practices have a significant effect
Twice each year the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis produces the Oregon Corrections Population Forecast which provides projections of the offender populations supervised by the Oregon Department of Corrections. The Department is mandated to use the forecast for budgeting and policy development where the inmate population is concerned.
The report chronicles a steep decline -- based on the reduced ability of the criminal justice system to function due to COVID-19 -- followed by a predicted return to normal, based on normalization of society.
The Covid-19 pandemic is causing dramatic upheaval in the state’s prison system. From April 2020 to February 2021, intakes to prison are 140 intakes below pre-pandemic averages on a monthly basis. This has caused the prison population to drop well below the prior forecast. This forecast assumes that intakes continue to fall short of normal levels, albeit at a decreasing rate, until October 2021. At that point, the criminal justice system is expected to resume functioning in a normal manner. The accuracy of the forecast presented herein is critically dependent on these assumptions and will deteriorate if any or all of them fail to hold.
The report acknowledges that changes in the law and practices within the criminal justice system can impact prison population, but doesn't factor the criminal justice reform bills of the first special session of June 2020 into its forecast:
Criminal justice system practices have a significant effect on the flow of individuals through the court system and into the prisons. Emphasis on specific criminal activity and plea practices, for example, can change based on law enforcement policy and prosecutorial discretion. The amount of discretion in the corrections system, in particular with respect to prosecution of crimes and punishments sought, introduces a considerable degree of uncertainty to the forecast. Even if there was never a change in criminal activity or laws in Oregon, the prison population could vary considerably based on administrative procedures, policies, and individual discretion exercised in law enforcement, prosecution, plea bargaining, and sentencing by judges.
On the heels of the death -- adjudicated to be a murder -- of George Floyd in Minnesota, the following bills were championed by State Rep. Janelle Bynum (D-Portland), passed in June 2020 and have been signed into law by Governor Brown:
HB 4201 Establishes Joint Committee on Transparent Policing and Use of Force Reform.
HB 4203 Provides that peace officer may not use force that impedes normal breathing or circulation of blood of another person by applying pressure on throat or neck, unless peace officer may use deadly physical force.
HB 4205 Requires police officer or reserve officer to intervene to prevent or stop another officer engaged in certain misconduct, unless intervening officer cannot intervene safely.
HB 4207 Directs Department of Public Safety Standards and Training to establish public statewide online database of suspensions and revocations of certifications of police officers.
HB 4208 Prohibits law enforcement agencies from using tear gas for purposes of crowd control except in circumstances constituting riot.
HB 4210 Repeals driving privilege suspension and eliminates imposition of driving privilege restrictions for failure to pay fine.
SB 1604 Restricts arbitration award from ordering disciplinary action that differs from disciplinary action imposed by law enforcement agency if arbitrator makes finding that misconduct occurred consistent with agency's finding of misconduct, and disciplinary action imposed by agency is consistent with provisions of discipline guide or discipline matrix adopted by agency as result of collective bargaining and incorporated into agency's disciplinary policies.
None of these so-called reforms will drive a spike in prison population, but collectively they could drive an increase, especially if backed by the winds of political forces.
Meanwhile, as crime increases -- especially in the Metro area -- the Mill Creek Correctional Facility near Salem and Shutter Creek Correctional Institution in North Bend are both going to be closed within the next six months, marking a loss of over 300 beds. Prior to COVID-19, the ongoing riots and basic lawlessness in the Metro area, and the prison reform bills of the 2020 First Special Session, prison forecasting was easier. We will have to see how the forecasts turn out in the next few years.
On July 15th, the Grants Pass School District 7 Pre-Termination held hearings for North Middle School Assistant Principal Rachel Damiano and science teacher Katie Medart following comments made in a video which asserted that students should use sex appropriate bath-rooms, and discouraged cross-gender bathroom usage. The comments made months ago caused some political correct outrage, and calls for their termination.
The board was split because both motions to support the superintendent’s recommendation to terminate passed by 4 to 3 votes.
The “yes” votes were cast by Board chair Scott Nelson, Brian DeLaGrange, Cliff Kuhlman and Debbie Kuhlman.
The “no” votes were cast by Gary Richardson, Casey Durbin and Todd Neville.
While true, there is a lot more to this story which needs to be to told.
The hearing began with the school district attorney Nancy Hungerford explaining the basis of the allegations. The allegations were supported by a report prepared by former Grants Pass Police Chief Bill Landiss who now operates Pacific Consulting and Investigations.
Next, Damiano delivered her answer to allegations. She went through the allegations point-by-point. We heard how the Oregon Revised Statutes define political activity and how her video did not constitute political activity as defined by state law.
We also learned about the “Heckler’s Veto” which the First Amendment Center defines as, “A heckler’s veto occurs when the government accepts restrictions on speech because of the anticipated or actual reactions of opponents of the speech.”
In this case, what we learned was that the commotion occurred a week after the "I Resolve" video was posted, which proposed that school bathrooms and locker rooms be segregated based on the students’ anatomy. The commotion was caused in part by the superintendent who sent out an email asking to hear from anyone who had been offended by the video.
The board members had an opportunity to question Damiano as well as the district’s attorney. Richardson asked, “What is the district’s policy for putting teachers on paid administrative leave?” The attorney answered that the district has no written policy or procedure to follow. Under Oregon law, the superintendent makes the decision, and the employee is placed on paid administrative leave.
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
A motion was made to support the superintendent’s recommendation to terminate Damiano. The motion was followed by a brief discussion. To summarize, Richardson pointed out errors in the private investigator’s report and concluded no violations of school policy occurred.
DeLaGrange said that our “top priority is to make all students feel as safe as possible.”
Board member Todd Neville said that “due process was not followed because no attempt was made to resolve the situation at the lowest level.”
Following the discussion, the board had a rollcall vote. Each board member had to state “yes” or “no” to cast their vote. When it came to Kuhlman, he held up a document he wanted to discuss. Nelson pointed out to him that it was time to vote.
The district’s counsel Bill Ransom spoke to him briefly away from the group. When he came back, he cast the deciding “yes” vote.
Rachel Damiano had been officially fired.
There was a 30-minute break before the next hearing began. The audience was visibly upset with some mad, some in tears, and some livid. Observers noted that someone said: “they’ll never pass a school bond after this.”
At 5pm began Katie Medart’s termination hearing. She was represented by a union attorney because she was a teacher. Katie also presented a well-crafted response to the district’s allegations.
Katie’s attorney elaborated on Katie’s testimony and offered a mini-course on free speech protection for school teachers. He summarized past district behavior when it had attempted to restrict the speech of Ryan Clark. He closed with strong words to the board about the consequences of supporting the superintendent’s recommendation to terminate.
During the question and answer period, Neville asked the district attorney, “Do teachers have first amendment rights?” The answer was “not in the classroom.” None of the allegations said that the educators mentioned anything to violate district policy while in the classroom.
The hearing officially ended and it was time for the board to take action via a motion. In a surprising twist, Richardson made a motion to “not support” the superintendent’s recommendation to terminate Katie. This meant that a “yes” vote would reject the termination of Katie. Board member Kuhlman asked at this point, “Is this situation different from the first situation?” Following a brief discussion, Neville seconded the motion and a discussed ensued.
To summarize the discussion, Richardson stated that any violations of school policy were too minor to warrant termination. Board member Debbie Brownell stated that, “I believe the investigator. At least 5 different reasons to terminate. Exhibits show this and she agrees to it.”
Richardson then asked Brownell, “You accept as true which has been shown today to be false. Why” Brownell’s response was, “This is not a debate. I won’t respond.”
Richardson then pointed out that the “district’s 2008 policy was bathrooms will be segregated by gender.” In 2009, the policy changed to the district will maintain “separate male and female bathrooms and locker rooms.” He then asked, “Why is it suddenly disruptive in our schools when Rachel and Katie support a policy which goes back to 2008?”
There was dead silence in the room.
Nelson broke the silence by asking, “Are there any other questions?”
Richardson then pointed out that 4 of the 5 teachers who complained about Rachel and Katie’s video were not employees of North Middle School. He concluded by saying that “Freedom of speech should be called freedom to offend.”
The motion was explained to Kuhlman. He stated, “I am trying to figure out free speech and how it fits into this case.”
The rollcall vote commenced, and Kuhlman voted to “abstain.” Nelson pointed out to him members need to vote “yes” or “no” on this type of matter. He voted “No” to vote against the motion to not support the superintendent. The motion failed and the meeting continued.
Next there was a motion made by Brownell to support the superintendent’s position to terminate Katie.
At this point, there was little more to be discussed. Katie was fired by a 4 to 3 vote.
A woman has been arrested after reports that she had maliciously set a brush fire in Eugene.
At 2:09 p.m., Eugene Police received a report of a woman, later identified as Natasha Ann Anderson, age 35, who set some bushes on the west side of the former Shopko property, which was also near a construction office trailer in the area of Chad Drive and Coburg Road, and then left the scene.
Eugene Springfield Fire responded to address the fire and Eugene Police began searching for Anderson. She was located in the 2800 block of Crescent and then going south on Shadowview, south of Crescent.
She had a baseball bat attached to her backpack and a taser was used to take her into custody at around 2:23 p.m.
Anderson was lodged at the Lane County Jail on charges of Reckless Burning and Interfering with Peace Officer.
It is case number 21-10862, and incident number 21179307.
“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."
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.
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.