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How Columbia County Spends Tax Dollars
Highlighting a county government’s expenditures

Property taxes pay for a number of critical services. These include public safety (law enforcement, fire and emergency services), parks, schools, public transportation, public defense, elections, community justice, and a host of other important municipal services. As an example, the Northwest Observer presents the following information about how Columbia County Oregon spends the taxes collected from businesses and homeowners:

Columbia County will collect $86,053,943 in taxes from both businesses and private landowners this year. But the majority of that amount doesn’t stay in county coffers – only 9.64 percent, or roughly $8.3 million, goes into the county’s general fund. An additional 3.95 percent, or $3.4 million, goes to the Jail Operation Fund from the local option levy approved by county voters.

General fund dollars largely pay for county law enforcement and public safety, including Columbia County Sheriff’s Office, jail operations, and the district attorney’s office. The remainder pays for general county administration, including the assessor’s office, land development services, juvenile services, and the county commission. More than 85 percent of property tax funds collected are distributed to local schools, cities, and special districts, such as those that manage 911 services or soil and water conservation, to name a few.

Here’s the breakdown: TOTAL: $86,053,943

There was one new voter-approved local option levy for the Rainier Cemetery District. Those with properties within that district will see a line item of $.05 per thousand of assessed value on their tax statement.

Another local option levy to note is that of the Scappoose Rural Fire Department. Voters within this district approved an increase of $.75 to the district. This brings their rate from $1.24 per thousand of assessed value to $1.99 per thousand of assessed value.

Columbia County has 91 tax code areas that are comprised of various combinations of taxing districts that serve that area. Therefore, where your property is located dictates the rate and type of taxes you pay. City dwellers can often pay more than rural property owners because of local taxes that go to parks, libraries, or local voter-approved bonds, among other benefits.

On the top left of your property tax statement is your code number. To see the exact charges for your specific code, go to the county Assessor’s webpage at columbiacountyor.gov and open the 2021-22 Summary of Assessment & Tax Roll. The document contains a list of all agencies in the county that receive the taxes.

The vast majority of taxes – 46 percent – goes towards education, including five school districts, one educational service district, and Portland Community College.

Fire districts receive more than 19 percent of the total. These districts cover the entire county, from Vernonia to Clatskanie to Scappoose.


--Ben Fisher

Post Date: 2021-10-23 10:12:39Last Update: 2021-10-23 12:34:41



Beaverton School District Under Fire
A formal complaint has been submitted to the Beaverton School Board

School districts and boards are being targeted by CEI, Center for Equity & Inclusion, promoting equity and inclusion, another name for Critical Race Theory that markets their services to train and control the content and decisions once contracted. The contracts allow unelected personnel to make local decisions avoiding public input. Multnomah Education Service District, and Gresham-Barlow and Beaverton School Boards have contracted with CEI.

Beaverton parents are not happy with CRT being the approach to Equity and Inclusion, and how contracting was left to Pat McCreery, the Equity and Inclusion Administrator for Beaverton School District and his selection of CEI. McCreery seemed not to have given due diligence to other offers before committing to CEI. In a public record request, two emails McCreery sent shows an illegal commitment.

He wrote district executive members – Don Grotting, Mike Scofield and David Williams on November 15, 2020, trying to avoid a Request for Proposal, regarding the legal/ethical obligations and limitations in terms of engaging with CEI for such a large contract. He suggested the use of Student Investment Account funds or use staff PD/tuition reimbursement funds to cover costs. The same day McCreery wrote CEI on avoiding a RFP process required for contracts over $50,000 -- not to mention the contracting process -- is required prior to committing to a vendor.

Where is the impartial treatment? He suggested spreading costs over fiscal years allowing parts of the partnership written into the Student Investment Account using classroom funds. Split or not, it should be a concern to spend $384,660, billing up to $420 per hour for a single CEI staff member, to do equity training on a criterion that hasn’t been vetted nor had any best practices been applied. Even the board’s vice chair, Becky Tymchuk, said regarding Critical Race Theory, “how can we have data if we’ve not tried it yet,” admitting there is no evidence this Critical Race Theory based approach will address student achievement and disciplinary gaps. The kids are effectively being used as an experiment.

Jeff Myers, life resident and parent in Beaverton, filed a formal complaint to the Beaverton School Board, and a report filed with the Secretary of State Audits Division. They have directed the issue to an outside auditing firm that has worked with the Beaverton School District in the past. He says district and board members are always polite even though public comments against the lens of CRT and antiracism movement far outnumber 10:1 comment in support. In an email from Pat McCreery to Don Grotting he sums up their defiance against the well of the people: "Amid my concern over the feedback we're getting, I kept reminding myself that this feedback "noise" is a reminder that we're doing good work..." At board meetings they try to quiet the opposition by telling parents such things as, "Just as there are people like you against our Antiracism approach, there are people voicing their support who I also must listen to." The people in support McCreery revealed in an email as people offering their services, such as a lawyer, Beaverton Human Rights Commission, community advocate and Oregon Center for Education Equity. He pits them against hundreds of parents.

Myers told the Northwest Observer what motivates him is his son. “He's seeing fights and outbursts nearly every day. They took all the soap dispensers out of the boys' bathrooms, in the midst of a pandemic no less, because they can't control the students and refuse to discipline them in the name of "equity". They point to a TikTok challenge to steal stuff from school and make a video of it. And somehow getting rid of Student Resource Officers, who are the only people left in schools who can intervene to help kids from getting hurt, is part of the "solution".

Myers says, “The truly sad part about what the Beaverton School District is doing is that none of this new, radicalized version of Equity and Inclusion is proven to address any of the current and historical gaps in student outcomes we have in K-12 education.”

He challenges others, “My eyes were opened when I started reading what Critical Race Theory was about, and I began to see what the Beaverton School Board was doing and began asking questions, gathering data and setting up meetings. The board’s admission that there is no evidence supporting this radical direction is key to getting the district to take guidance from the board. The challenge is, how can we help more people see what school boards are doing?”


--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-10-22 15:57:19Last Update: 2021-10-23 10:08:18



Senator Tim Knopp Elected Republican Leader
“Republicans have an opportunity to showcase our ideas as an alternative to failed Democratic leadership”

Senator Fred Girod (R-Lyons) has voluntarily stepped down as Republican Leader for health reasons. The caucus elected Senator Tim Knopp (R-Bend) as the new Republican leader. The rest of the leadership team remained unchanged.

Newly-elected Senate Republican Leader Tim Knopp released the following statement:

“I want to thank Senator Girod for his leadership over the last year and a half. He has been a strong conservative champion for Oregon Republicans. He will be missed in leadership, but he is doing what he believes is best for his health, and I support him. Republicans have a great opportunity to showcase our ideas and vision as a viable alternative to decades of failed Democratic leadership in Oregon. I look forward to serving this caucus to do just that.”

Senator Knopp is widely regarded as a moderate Republican. The Senate Republican caucus has been divided for the last few session. Two of its former members now caucus as independents -- Senators Brian Boquist (I-Dallas) and Art Robinson (R-Cave Junction).

Senator Knopp was a member of the Oregon House from 1998 to 2005 and was House Republican Leader in 2003. He was elected to the Oregon Senate in 2012. He represents Senate District 27 which is the Bend area.


--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-10-22 10:21:14Last Update: 2021-10-22 12:07:32



Technical Error Prompts State to Count Additional COVID Deaths
550 deaths will be added in coming weeks

Over the coming weeks, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA) will begin reporting approximately 550 deaths among people who died with COVID-19 but whose deaths only became recently known to state epidemiologists due to a technical computer error. Most of these deaths occurred between May 2021 and August 2021.

The deaths will be reviewed during the data reconciliation process over the next month. People who have died and meet the COVID-19 death definition based on death certificates will reported on the Oregon Health Authority’s COVID-19 dashboards and its daily COVID-19 media releases. As a result, daily reported COVID-19-related deaths will be higher than usual until the backlog is resolved. Details of all deaths will be listed in OHA’s daily COVID-19 media release, which is published weekdays.

OHA’s reporting of COVID-19 deaths involves reconciling death records to case records, which is done manually. OHA has been working to automate the process but that has led to periodic backlogs, such as what is being reported today.

“We are taking steps to ensure that our reporting is comprehensive and transparent,” said OHA Director Patrick Allen. “We deeply regret the pain this disclosure may cause.”

The additional deaths will affect Oregon’s national standing in COVID-19 death rates. Presently, Oregon has the 6th lowest death rate in the nation. The newly reported deaths are expected to push Oregon’s death rate past one or two other states. However, Oregon’s death rate will remain well below the national average and the fatality rates of most other states.

State health officials estimate that if Oregon’s death rate matched the national average, another 4,000 or more Oregonians would have died from COVID-19.

Death is a lagging indicator and generally follows a surge in cases. In addition, there is often a delay in reporting as OHA epidemiologists review death certificates.

OHA expects that reported deaths may continue to be high even as daily case counts decrease.

The newly enhanced COVID-19 Case Severity dashboard visualizes the time lag between when case onset and dates of death.


--Ben Fisher

Post Date: 2021-10-21 20:26:26Last Update: 2021-10-21 20:44:21



Analysis: Deciding With Whom You Associate
Even Oath Keepers have the right to freedom of association

Every Individual of the age of consent has the authority and right to decide for himself or herself whether to associate or not to associate.

In his majority opinion for the Supreme Court case of the NAACP v. Alabama (1958), Justice John Marshall Harlan II wrote, “It is beyond debate that freedom to engage in association for the advancement of beliefs and ideas is an inseparable aspect of the ‘liberty’ assured by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which embraces freedom of speech.”

The court ruled that the individual members of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People have the right to associate together free from the undue interference of the state. The members of the NAACP have a right to expressive association, which refers to the right of people to associate together for expressive political purposes. Unfortunately, today, the Biden Administration and others in the US Government are undermining and attacking the right to the freedom of association.

Their ultimate goal is to purge their ranks and society overall from what they deem as right-wing militia groups when in reality they are trying to silence the debate and dissent of their political adversaries.

The Oath Keepers are now in the sights of the feds because some of their members entered the US Capitol on January 6th in the so-called insurrection. Even though the organization was already under the scrutiny of the feds, their investigations have immensely intensified with the new administration, which is making difficulties for members of the Oath Keepers who currently serve in law enforcement.

There was a recent hit piece released by the taxpayer-funded Oregon Public Broadcasting titled, Dozens of Oregon law enforcement officers have been members of the far-right Oath Keepers militia.” In the article, they do their best to impugn the reputation of several police officers because of their membership and association with the Oath Keepers organization without taking into consideration that these officers have the right to associate or not associate with whomever they choose.

OPB took data that was illegally hacked from the Oath Keepers databases and crossed referenced it against public records, social media, and state law enforcement certification information for verification. They soon found out that there were dozens of current law enforcement officers who are members of the organization all across the US. Some of those officers are serving the public here in the state of Oregon. Remember, the name of this group is Oath Keepers, so it would only be reasonable to think that some of their members might be cops who are currently on the beat because cops have rights too.

Most citizens want the police to be dedicated to their oath, so it should not matter that they would belong to a group that celebrates fidelity to duty. Loyalty to the US Constitution seems to be a quality missing in government. Many could very well claim that today’s politicians are oath breakers not oath keepers, so it is refreshing to see such patriotism in people assigned to uphold the laws of our country.

The Oath Keeper’s website states:

“Oath Keepers is a nonpartisan association of current and formerly serving military, police, and first responders, who pledge to fulfill the oath all military and police take to “defend the Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” That oath, mandated by Article VI of the Constitution itself, is to the Constitution, not to the politicians, and Oath Keepers declare that they will not obey unconstitutional orders, such as orders to disarm the American people, to conduct warrantless searches, or to detain Americans as “enemy combatants” in violation of their ancient right to jury trial.”

OPB also makes the mistake of labeling the Oath Keepers as an antigovernment, anti-immigrant extremist group, which could not be further from the truth as an organization. Public Broadcasting is a known tool of the establishment, so their reporting is an extension of the government's McCarthy-style witch-hunt against anyone opposed to the Marxist reset.

Most members of Oath Keepers believe in a constitutionally limited government that delivers maximum liberty and minimal authority. It is what oath-keeping is all about. Many members support legal immigration, but they are opposed to the government allowing illegal aliens to violate US immigration laws.

The organization is fervently opposed to communism, fascism, white supremacy, or racial superiority. There are members of Oath Keepers who are first-generation immigrants who have faithfully served this country, there are members of many different ethnicities involved with the group and the one common denominator between these people is their belief in the American way. There are no disqualifications for membership based on race, or sex meaning they do not discriminate based on a person’s immutable qualities. Those beliefs are not extreme.

What is extreme? Those who are promoting open borders, big government with unchecked powers, and the elimination of the US Constitution because of the belief that it is inherently racist. During the Oregon 2021 Legislative Session, Representative Janelle Bynum (D-Clackamas) and Senator James Manning, Jr. (D-Eugene) introduced HB 2936, which states “membership or participation in hate groups, racial supremacist organizations or militant groups erodes public trust in law enforcement officers and community safety.”

Signed by Governor Kate Brown, the new law HB 2936 is another way the Oregon legislators can virtue signal to the “woke” while simultaneously restricting the voices of anyone who disagrees with their agenda. Moreover, it helps them purge the ranks of the police of people who have other beliefs.

The problem with HB 2936 arises with a basic question.

Who gets to make the decision on which groups are hate groups, or are racial supremacist organizations, or even which group is militant? It is a lot of power for any one person or group of people and with the ever-changing contemporary meanings of words with definitions so broad and so vague, the courts could label anything and everything as hateful or racist.

Is a shooting club militant? Is the NAACP a racial supremacist organization? Are the Girl Scouts a hate group? Who gets to decide? What about government officials who belong, donate, and sponsor Antifa, Black Lives Matter, or even the Communist Party? Some would say that all three organizations are hate groups yet their members make up a good portion of the base of the Democratic Party.

Another problem arises from the new authority that the legislators created in HB 2936. The law may violate the Oregon and US Constitutions. Article 1, Section 8 of the Oregon State Constitution states that "No law shall be passed restraining the free expression of opinion, or restricting the right to speak, write, or print freely on any subject whatever; but every person shall be responsible for the abuse of this right."

HB 2936 restrains free expression of opinion, it restricts the right to speak, write, or print freely on any subject and it makes someone else responsible for deciding if speech and association with others is a crime. It is a clear violation of the rights of people serving in law enforcement.

Every organization is going to have good and bad members and the law should not judge a group by the actions and words of others. The government should punish people who commit crimes, but the government should never deny a right to one individual based on the actions of another individual, or groups of individuals. The law has to make a judgment based on the merits and actions of the individual no matter how extreme their beliefs are or whom they associate with, and before anyone makes that judgment they had better remember even Jesus associated with lepers, prostitutes, and thieves.

Editor's note: The author, Rob Taylor is a radio show host on www.KWRO.com in Coos County Oregon and you can hear his podcasts at www.RobTaylorReport.com. Rob has never been a member of the Oath Keepers and he does not belong to any political party.


--Rob Taylor

Post Date: 2021-10-21 07:13:52Last Update: 2021-10-21 09:57:19



Full Forensic Audit Requested by Oregon Republican
Representative asks Secretary of State to affirm election integrity

Oregon's House District 55 Representative Vikki Breese lverson (R-Prineville) has sent a letter to the Secretary of State Shemia Fagan, requesting a full forensic audit of the state's voting systems.

Representative Breese Iverson sets out the case for a full forensic audit of Oregon's election system:

"Trust in government institutions is at an all time low for Americans and Oregonians. Voters across Oregon continue to hear news story after news story about potential voter fraud, miss- steps, irregularities, multiple voters, and more. My office has received hundreds of emails and voicemails from voters across the state with regard to voter fraud on some level."

"In Oregon, vote by mail has been occurring for over 20 years. We have experienced success over the years, but with today's climate it is the right time to review and analyze the systems in place across the state."

"I am requesting a full forensic audit of 2020 elections across all 36 counties to ensure Our voting system has the integrity Oregonians deserve and to provide confidence in your office for the 2022 elections."

The office of the Secretary of State is responsible for auditing state government. Representative Breese Iverson lists several of the election sub-systems she would like the Secretary to consider:

"While I know this is a large request, statewide and agency audits are the responsibility of your office. At this time in the interest of all Oregonians, an audit of our election systems would be time and energy well-spent."

"Oregonians, regardless of political affiliation, need to know there is some continuity in processes across the state. Processes to include but not limited to: counting of ballots, machine counting versus hand counting; ballot security; recount process; ballot drop box security; voter ID requirements; signature verifying measures; are processes statewide or vary based on county, if they vary, why; and all the other processes in assuring Oregon elections are above fraud. Are there ways we can improve security and integrity in Oregon to make Oregonians feel secure in their election?"

"I had conversations with County Clerks within my House District and while they are confident in their local processes, they are unsure about processes across the state. With all the media concern causing voter insecurity, an audit of the statewide processes would provide real response to Oregonians."

Except for a two-year period in which Republican Dennis Richardson served as Secretary of State, Democrats have held the office for the entire period of evolution from polling places to vote-by-mail. Some political observers in Oregon have proposed that the Secretary of State Shemia Fagan, a Democrat, will either not acknowledge, or disregard the request for the audit.


--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-10-20 17:10:27Last Update: 2021-10-21 11:56:28



Yamhelas Trail Summary Created
This saga doesn’t rise to the level of an Agatha Christie novel, but it’s a beauty

A 24 page tell-all booklet, The Truth About The Trail showed up in mailboxes throughout Yamhill County on Friday.

The booklet listed dozens of never before printed emails obtained through public records requests bringing transparency to what some are calling a conspiracy. Published by Oregon Family Farm Association of Tigard, the booklet shines a light on individual elected and paid staff at the top of Yamhill County government and the private citizens who succeeded in exploiting those officials weaknesses. As the booklet demonstrates, the aforementioned knowingly broke the rules and ignored the law in a display of arrogance not normally found in this county still dominated by heartland values.

The contest between bureaucrats hell bent on building a bike path through farmland and plaintiff farmers protecting their property rights has played out in the Land Use Board of Appeals five times since the first appeal was filed in June of 2018. The county lost every legal action, repeatedly ignoring LUBA rulings using tax dollars to cover their legal fees while hoping to exhaust farmers legal funds. When the fifth and decisive action in June of 2020 required the County to permanently ceased activity and cover the plaintiff’s legal fees of $48k the legal game was over.

What sets this booklet apart from previous articles calling attention to the conflict is the detail of emails obtained through public records requests. The quantity and character of these emails demonstrates an intricate web of elected officials and non-elected leaders in league with Friends of the Yamhelas-Westsider trail plotting one extreme measure after another in a near fanatical defiance of the rule of law, or toward the destruction of individual business owners. As they racked up loss upon loss, Trail proponents resorted to character assassination and political retaliation.

The farmers were painted as a small and extreme special interest group. There are over 37,000 farms and ranches in Oregon. They make up a large primary industry that not only brings in outside dollars to Oregon, but aids in the U.S. balance of payments. We need more ‘small special interest’ groups like that.

County Counsel Todd Sadlo, who misrepresented too many details to higher authority was the first casualty. He took early retirement after a complaint filed with the Oregon Bar has morphed into an investigation. Sadlo asked County Grants Administrator Carrie Martin to get an engineer’s statement stating the Trail bridge could hold a fire truck as he sought to sidestep a LUBA remand requirement.

Martin, panicked by an ODOT letter warning of grant termination was caught misrepresenting vital details of construction of that bridge. Her angst manifest itself in unauthorized overtime expenditures intended to cover up differing claims of completion dates. Rather than show contrition, she sued the commissioner making her misdeeds known by claiming harassment. That suit subsequently ended in a full exoneration of the commissioner. Martin’s shield was temporary. Misinformed citizens caught up in the emotion of it all are attempting to recall the commissioner. As their effort stumbles they have begun paying people to seek signatures on a petition.

This saga doesn’t rise to the level of an Agatha Christie novel, but it’s a beauty. People only learn from their mistakes if they first acknowledge them. With the vindictive recall effort of the exonerated commissioner still in play it is doubtful that any such acknowledgement is in the cards any time soon.


--Tom Hammer

Post Date: 2021-10-20 16:38:30Last Update: 2021-10-20 17:06:47



Brown Thanks the Vaxxed
She might not be the right cheerleader to encourage Oregonians

Amid her own echos, a maskless Oregon Governor Kate Brown thanked Oregonians for getting the vaccine and encouraged those who have not, to get more information and get vaccinated. In previous video appearances, the Governor has made a point of appearing on camera first wearing a mask and then removing it as she began to speak.

As if you credit herself for her mandates on educators, health care workers and state employees, she called them out by name.

"I want to take a moment to thank all the Oregonians who took the time to get vaccinated. By taking this step, you are protecting yourself your co-workers and your communities.

From health care workers to K through 12 educators to first responders and state employees, thousands more Oregonians have been vaccinated to protect against COVID-19 over the last several weeks."



Some pundits and insiders have pointed out that Kate Brown has very low approval ratings and might not be the right cheerleader to encourage Oregonians -- many of whom are tired of the mask and vaccine mandates and the lockdowns -- to get the vaccine. She plead with the unvaccinated:

"If you are not yet vaccinated please call your doctor or health care provider to get your questions answered. Ask a friend who's been vaccinated about their experience and why they got the shot. Vaccines are safe, effective and it's never been easier to get an appointment."

2,603,408 people in Oregon have been vaccinated, which is 76.5% of the 3,403,051 people in Oregon who are 18+ years of age.


--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-10-20 10:56:22Last Update: 2021-10-21 10:57:48



Salem Hangs Out the ‘You’re Not Welcome’ Sign
It should give pause to other cities

Cities are looking at new legislation and looking over their shoulders at Governor Brown’s Executive Order 20-04 of 45% reduction in GHG emissions from 1990 levels by 2035, and 80% by 2050. HB 2021 then enshrined the goals into law for retail electricity providers to reduce greenhouse gas emissions associated with electricity sold to Oregon consumers to 80% below baseline emissions levels by 2030, 90% below baseline emissions levels by 2035, and 100% below baseline emissions levels by 2040. HB 2062 establishes new energy efficiency standards for appliances and certain water fixtures, and HB 2180 requires certain newly constructed buildings to be electric vehicle ready.

What the city of Salem -- run by Mayor Chuck Bennett -- is doing should give pause to other cities. Salem unveiled its Climate Action Plan after a year-long process by a 35 member task force. They started by collecting residents’ vision for a climate-smart city of the future by 2050. A vision of utopia gave way to recommendations to tackle climate change locally by proposing major changes in how we travel, design neighborhoods, and use energy, among other approaches to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, prepare the community for impacts, and ensure a transition to an equitable and climate-smart future. The plan is a roadmap to exceed Governor Brown’s Executive Order 20-04 to reduce community-wide GHG emissions by 50% by 2035 (from the baseline year of 2016) and to be carbon neutral by 2050.

To measure the impact of local GHG reduction efforts, the plan forecasts future emissions with and without local action. Changing the American Dream into the American Nightmare takes drastic action. There are a few good ideas, like carbon sequestration of plants and trees. Of course, onsite solar and halt growth in natural gas is what HB 2021 is all about. But no thought is given to how this will impact business and discourage new startups and thus affect growth.

How long have we heard walk or bike more and drive less? The goal is to increase walkways, and bike paths. Then double electric vehicles and quadruple transit ridership on electric buses to reduce traffic in Salem by 10 percent. Traffic measurements are taken from before the pandemic in 2016, so there should have already been a reduction through working from home and lockdowns. While you’re limited from using your vehicle, don’t invite out-of-town guests or hold business conferences. The goal is a 40 percent reduction in traffic coming into and out of Salem. Businesses that depend on tourism will have a harder time staying afloat.

All those goals are only halfway to the target. To meet the remainder, they propose halting all combustion engine traffic, remove all fossil fuel-derived from natural gas in existing homes and buildings, and ensure a 100% renewables-only electricity grid. Achieve a zero waste through circular economy, compost and recycling, including capture of wastewater emissions and halt septic emissions by joining wastewater treatment.

Financing proposed will assess as many areas as the goals – parking fees, gas tax, and residential energy audits are at the top of the list. They also propose a trip reduction ordinance for employers to reduce single-occupancy trips. Revise land use plans to allow for more dense development promoting walkable neighborhoods. Implement a reward system that requires property owners to improve low-performing buildings.

If you envision the city plan on a smaller scale one could visualize a gated community where only one electric vehicle is permitted per house and there is a checkpoint at the gate to limit those coming and going. Each vehicle is monitored for use. The houses would be on an electric grid with limited watt and water use. Waste water and garbage monitored for what you are consuming. The behavior change will get you to compete at reducing your emissions, which means your every move will be tracked. If you don’t go along, there are programs to change your behavior. The new behavior is to buy less stuff or buy second-hand. Actions for individuals are to reduce driving trips and avoid unnecessary air travel, eat a plant-based diet, conserve energy and water and reduce waste. And while you’re feeling confined, like a slave, they suggest you pursue actions that address intersectionality and integrate social justice into your environmental work and daily actions.

The work was done using Verdis Group, out of Omaha, Nebraska. It is curious why the URL reads “California.” Is this simply a rewrite changing a few details? They use the EPA’s Local Greenhouse Gas Inventory Tool to gather inventory from the 2016 calendar year. It seems that gains Salem has made already during the pandemic aren’t being measured, perhaps to give a more compelling picture? They also use U.N. models for climate change, which may explain the more than 100% jump in warming from 2040 through 2069. How free can you be when every move is measured?

The public comment period is open until November 5, 2021, at 5 p.m. Comments will be accepted online at the Salem Climate Action Plan website.


--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-10-20 06:46:59Last Update: 2021-10-20 10:05:27



Girod Blasts Data Leak
“The failures under Kate Brown’s leadership continue to stack up”

On Monday night, Kate Brown’s Department of Administrative Services sent detailed vaccination statuses of tens of thousands of state workers to reporters from the Salem Statesman Journal and the Portland Oregonian.

The Senate Republican Leader Fred Girod (R-Lyons) released the following statement:

“I have been opposed to this overreach since the day Kate Brown announced it. Government should never coerce people into having medical procedures let alone keep track of this information. It proves to Oregonians they should not trust the government with their private health information or with this much power over their day-to-day lives.

“The impacts of Kate Brown’s overreaches are proving to be severe. Staffing shortages across the state in essential services, like police, teachers, and hospital staff are going to have enduring negative consequences on the safety of Oregonians. Now, citizens must worry if their private medical history will become public. This kind of breach of trust will further erode the public’s faith in government.

“The failures under Kate Brown’s leadership continue to stack up. Oregonians deserve better.”


--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2021-10-19 17:17:55Last Update: 2021-10-19 17:42:29



Northwest Rolling Blackouts
Why should California get to have all the fun?

There are two sides to every scale. On one side you have uninterrupted electricity covering all situations. On the other side are customers that want to pay as little as possible for their electricity needs. The balancing act in the past has been the job of utilities monitored by Public Utilities Commission as an arm for customers. Over the last few legislative sessions, the PUC seems to have turned into the Political Utilities Commission reducing the consumer protection arm.

Rolling blackouts has been publicized as a risk of HB 2021, a bill introduced in the last legislative session by Representatives Pam Marsh (D-Ashland), Khanh Pham (D-Portland), Senators Lee Beyer (D-Eugene), and Michael Dembrow (D-Portland). Seemingly every virtue-signaling Democrat jumped in as a co-sponsor. The bill sets a path for electricity providers to reduce emissions to 100% (80% by 2030, 90% by 2035 and 100% by 2040) below baseline by 2040, with intermediate targets. That goal is along with requirements for electric companies to develop a Clean Energy Plan meeting supply mix standard. The two together will not only drive-up costs, but make it more difficult for power companies to provide reliable energy in peak seasons.

Our neighbors to the south received their second taste of rolling blackouts this summer. The California Energy Commission laid blame in three main areas: The first rolling blackouts took place in 2001, which almost affected the entire northwest. It was cause by drought conditions that reduced hydropower causing BPA to force 5,000 aluminum workers out of work to preserve power – an economic blow to the northwest. Oregon is currently struggling with the effects of drought delivering water to Klamath County experiencing dry wells. Proposed dam removals further threaten their source of water and power.

The Northwest Power and Conservation Council, authorized by Congress in 1980 under the Northwest Power Act, gives northwest states a voice in energy plans while protecting fish and wildlife resources. The Council has done an about face going from power plans driven largely by least-cost energy efficiency with only a modest development of renewable power in 2016 to clean-energy policies as a result of the aggressive pursuit of the Green New Deal and the climate change agenda. That resulted in the retirement of coal-fired generators, uncertainty about the role of new natural gas-fired generation, and a decrease in cost of utility-scale solar and wind generators. However, the Act directs the Council to give priority to cost effective energy efficiency, followed by cost-effective renewable resources. Not so easy when forces are mandating a zero-emission plan that we see in HB 2021.

The Council acknowledges, “Increasing our dependence on sunshine and wind to make electricity has risks – primarily the risk of reduced output when the sun goes down and the wind stops blowing. Maintaining an adequate and reliable power supply will be challenging.” The Council’s 2021 Northwest Power Plan draft is available for comment by November 19, 2021. The draft plan incorporates the results of several energy models, recently enacted public policies, advances in technology, and a blend of climate change assumptions and economics in preparing the 20-year plan and its action plan, which covers 2022 through 2027.

Will Oregon see rolling blackouts? Not if the Council’s suggestions are followed by increasing each utility acquisition to between 750 and 1,000 average megawatts by the end of 2027 and a minimum of 2,400 average megawatts by 2041, and the region needs to acquire 3,500 megawatts of renewable resources by 2027. That could be a tall order considering the restrictions in HB 2021, and Governor Brown taking steps against it.

Governor Brown filed a preliminary injunction with the U.S. District Court over the management of the Federal Columbia River System. If the court approves her injunction, it would require lower Snake River dams and Columbia dams to spill water, which will significantly impact the hydroelectric power. The first spill is projected to cost more than $100 million a year resulting in a 5% increase in rates by Bonneville Power Administration. Additional spills will substantially increase greenhouse gas emissions putting a heavier burned on all utilities to meet the goals of HB 2021 to be 100 percent carbon-free electricity below baseline emissions by 2040. What is hidden in the bill is the ban on expanding or constructing power plants that burn natural gas or fossil fuels, which makes up 21.1 percent of electric energy consumption in Oregon.

In the past year cities around the state have experienced power outages for various reasons including extreme weather and public safety power shutoffs. It is not hard to see why Oregonians are thinking rolling blackouts are inevitable. And it doesn’t take much to see that HB 20211 can easily overload the grid without reliable backup systems. Will Oregonians be willing to pay more for less reliable electricity?


--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2021-10-19 06:01:33Last Update: 2021-10-18 10:58:44



Oregon’s Top 20 Agricultural Commodities for 2020
Cherries and hazelnuts crack the top 10

The 2020 crop year is a result of the 37,200 farms and ranches that make up Oregon’s agricultural community. Oregon is home to more than 225 commodities, everything from cattle to cherries to hazelnuts and hay. The ongoing COVID-19 lockdowns presented several new challenges to agriculture statewide. Growers and producers responded and adapted quickly to meet the needs of Oregonians, despite mandates issued from the state government.

Oregon’s greenhouse and nursery industry experienced a boon with value of production topping one billion dollars for a second year in a row. Industry experts say that people taking up gardening and landscaping boosted sales nationwide. Historically, greenhouse and nursery and cattle and calves remain two of the top commodities by value in production.

New to Oregon’s top 10 are cherries and hazelnuts. Cherries experienced a 78 percent increase in the value of production. High demand for Oregon cherries meant higher prices for growers in 2020. Oregon is currently the third largest producer of cherries in the nation, supplying 17 percent of the U.S. market.

Hazelnuts had a record year with a nearly 24 percent increase in production and a nearly 57 percent increase in value of production. Hazelnut acreage has grown over the past ten years from about 30,000 acres to over 80,000 acres. Nearly 100 percent of the hazelnuts produced commercially in the U.S. are grown in the Willamette Valley.

Oregon’s top 10 valued commodities by value for the 2020 crop year are: A majority of Oregon’s agricultural commodities in the top twenty saw an increase in value of production including eggs (+29%), onions (+9%), potatoes (9%), sweet corn (+8%), Dungeness crab (+7%), hops (+4%), Christmas trees (+2%), apples (+1%), and milk (+1%).

On the downside, grapes for wine experienced a decrease of 34%, while hay (-16%), blueberries (-11%), grass seed (-11%), pears (-10%), cattle & calves (-6%), and wheat (-3%) also recorded production value decreases. Rounding out the top twenty ag and fisheries commodities by value of production: These newly released statistics are primarily from USDA’s National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) compiled in collaboration with Dave Losh, Oregon State Statistician. Estimates were also provided by the Oregon Department of Agriculture, Oregon State University, Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, and the Oregon Wine Board.

Industry insiders noted that hemp is not included in the agricultural commodities list. Beginning in October, NASS will begin collecting information on the acreage, yield, production, price, and value of hemp in the United States. Results will be available in 2022.


--Ben Fisher

Post Date: 2021-10-19 01:33:32Last Update: 2021-10-19 19:46:59



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