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Coos County Fair
Tuesday, July 23, 2024 at 8:00 am
July 23-27
Coos County Fairgrounds

Curry County Fair
Wednesday, July 24, 2024 at 8:00 am
July 24-27
Curry County Fairgrounds - Event Center on the Beach

Hood River County Fair
Wednesday, July 24, 2024 at 8:00 am
July 24-27
Hood River County Fairgrounds

Jefferson County Fair
Wednesday, July 24, 2024 at 8:00 am
July 24-27
Jefferson County Fair Complex

Lane County Fair
Wednesday, July 24, 2024 at 8:00 am
July 24-28
Lane Events Center

Sunday, July 28, 2024 at 12:00 pm
ALL ABOARD THE LINN COUNTY TRUMP TRAIN! Tail gate BBQ / Guest Speakers / Meet and Greet This is a non-partisan event. All Trump Supporters are welcome THE RIDE STARTS approximately 1:30PM ROUTE: to be determined Presented with local sponsorship by Linn County Conservative Alliance Trump, patriot, Americana, caps,flags, t-shirts and other merchandise available on-site. Profits support conservative and traditional values candidates. https://indd.adobe.com/view/902ce3bb-72b5-4f03-9c74-b71fcdbb6aad
Location: Linn County Fair / Expo parking lot. 3700 Knox Butte Road E. Albany, OR 97322

Sunday, July 28, 2024 at 12:00 pm
ALL ABOARD THE LINN COUNTY TRUMP TRAIN! Tail gate BBQ / Guest Speakers / Meet and Greet This is a non-partisan event. All Trump Supporters are welcome THE RIDE STARTS approximately 1:30PM ROUTE: to be determined Presented with local sponsorship by Linn County Conservative Alliance Trump, patriot, Americana, caps,flags, t-shirts and other merchandise available on-site. Profits support conservative and traditional values candidates. https://indd.adobe.com/view/902ce3bb-72b5-4f03-9c74-b71fcdbb6aad
Location: Linn County Fair / Expo parking lot. 3700 Knox Butte Road E. Albany, OR 97322

Clatsop County Fair
Tuesday, July 30, 2024 at 8:00 am
July 30 - August 3
Clatsop County Fair & Expo

Malheur County Fair
Tuesday, July 30, 2024 at 8:00 am
July 30 - August 3
Malheur County Fairgrounds - Desert Sage Event Center

Benton County Fair & Rodeo
Wednesday, July 31, 2024 at 8:00 am
July 31 - August 3, 2024
Benton County Event Center & Fairgrounds

Deschutes County Fair
Wednesday, July 31, 2024 at 8:00 am
July 31 - August 4
Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center

Union County Fair
Wednesday, July 31, 2024 at 8:00 am
July 31 - August 3
Union County Fairgrounds

Yamhill County Fair
Wednesday, July 31, 2024 at 8:00 am
July 31 - August 3
Yamhill County Fairgrounds

Klamath County Fair
Thursday, August 1, 2024 at 8:00 am
August 1-4
Klamath County Fair

Wallowa County Fair
Friday, August 2, 2024 at 8:00 am
August 2-10
Wallowa County Fairgrounds

Baker County Fair
Sunday, August 4, 2024 at 8:00 am
August 4-9
Baker County Fairgrounds

Harney County Fair
Sunday, August 4, 2024 at 8:00 am
August 4-9
Harney County Fairgrounds

Sherman County Fair
Sunday, August 4, 2024 at 8:00 am
August 19-24
Sherman County Fairgrounds

Crook County Fair
Wednesday, August 7, 2024 at 8:00 am
August 7-10
Crook County Fairgrounds

Douglas County Fair
Wednesday, August 7, 2024 at 8:00 am
August 7-10
Douglas County Fairgrounds Complex

Grant County Fair
Wednesday, August 7, 2024 at 8:00 am
August 7-10
Grant County Fairgrounds

Josephine County Fair
Wednesday, August 7, 2024 at 8:00 am
August 7-11
Josephine County Fairgrounds & Events Center

Polk County Fair
Wednesday, August 7, 2024 at 8:00 am
August 7-10
Polk County Fairgrounds

Tillamook County Fair
Wednesday, August 7, 2024 at 8:00 am
August 7-10
Tillamook County Fairgrounds

Umatilla County Fair
Wednesday, August 7, 2024 at 8:00 am
August 7-10
Umatilla County Fairgrounds

Wheeler County Fair
Wednesday, August 7, 2024 at 8:00 am
August 7-10
Wheeler County Fairgrounds

Clackamas County Fair
Tuesday, August 13, 2024 at 8:00 am
August 13-17
Clackamas County Event Center

Morrow County Fair
Wednesday, August 14, 2024 at 8:00 am
August 14-17
Morrow County Fairgrounds

Wasco County Fair
Thursday, August 15, 2024 at 8:00 am
August 15-17
Wasco County Fairgrounds

Gilliam County Fair
Thursday, August 29, 2024 at 8:00 am
August 29-31
Gilliam County Fairgrounds

Lake County Fair
Thursday, August 29, 2024 at 8:00 am
August 29 - September 1
Lake County Fairgrounds

Oregon State Fair
Saturday, August 31, 2024 at 8:00 am
August 31 - September 9
Oregon State Fair & Exposition Center

Linn Laughs LIVE with Adam Corolla
Saturday, September 7, 2024 at 5:00 pm
Linn Laughs LIVE with Adam Corolla 5pm-9pm
Albany, OR

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Housing Bills Pass Both Chambers
“Oregonians are struggling under the pressure of an increasingly unaffordable housing market”

Housing supply was bound to be a major issue of the current legislative session and it has found its final form in two Senate Bills. John Tapogna of the Oregon Business Council summed up the problem, "the high cost of housing is contributing to workforce shortages in underbuilt communities across the state and is a key driver of the state’s slowing population growth."

SB 1537 requires the Department of Land Conservation and Development and the Department of Consumer and Business Services to jointly establish and administer the Housing Accountability and Production Office. SB 1530 appropriates money to various agencies for various programs.

Governor Kotek has been driving housing policy for over a decade, previously as House Speaker. In response to the passage of SB 1537 and SB 1530, Governor Tina Kotek issued the following statement:

“Oregonians are struggling under the pressure of an increasingly unaffordable housing market. After hearing this concern directly from Oregonians from across our state last year, I knew we had to make major progress on our housing crisis during this year’s legislative session. I want to thank legislators for meeting the urgency of this moment and providing much-needed funding that will boost housing production throughout the state.



Brad Bennington of the Builders Association Southern Oregon identified some of the causes. "It's been a long time coming but Oregon's housing crises is here and it's real, said Bennington. "Not in my back yard and overzealous no growth policies have crippled our housing industry to bring us to the point where we are 500,000 homes short of meeting current demand. We need reform and we need it now." Governor Kotek continued, “These bills offer a menu of tools that will provide the support needed to ease our housing crisis and help all our communities thrive. I believe this package will make meaningful progress in fixing our housing shortage while also preserving our land use system and ensuring strong environmental protections. But this is not the finish line. We have more work ahead to solve our housing and homelessness crises – and I will keep pushing for more because the need is so great. Oregonians are counting on us to deliver.”

"The House of Representatives passed SB 1537 by a 48-8 vote and passed SB 1537 by a 51-6 vote. Both bills passed the Senate last week. Additional projects from the Emergency Housing Stabilization and Production Package are funded through HB 4134, which the House will vote on Tuesday. That bill would then need to be approved by the Senate."

In total, the Emergency Housing Stabilization and Production Package provides a $376 million state investment in addressing the housing crisis.

"SB 1537 isn't perfect but it's a start that needs to be made if Oregon's chronic housing shortage is ever going to be addressed," said Bennington. In testimony to the Senate Committee On Housing and Development he said, "Oregonians deserve the opportunity to be able to purchase a home that is safe, sustainable and affordable but they need your help to make that possible."

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2024-03-06 21:49:15Last Update: 2024-03-06 22:30:19

Tigard-Tualatin School District Superintendent resigns
Resignation gives way for needed changes

Tigard-Tualatin School District (TTSD) was once regarded as one of the best districts in the state. Now test scores are not improving from the disaster created by the Covid pandemic, violence is rampant and making national headlines, and the board is being forced to engage the community on a proposed Student Acts of Aggression or Violence Policy.

Meanwhile, Tigard-Tualatin School District Superintendent Dr. Sue Rieke-Smith published a letter on the district’s website on February 23, advising that she will retire at the end of the 2023-2024 school year. The letter expressed her honor of having served TTSD, but also hinted at facing fierce opposition, particularly over the last year.

Rieke-Smith joined the district in July 2018 and most teachers this author spoke with expressed they noticed an immediate decline in support, a decline in communication and disastrous policies from the Superintendent compared to her predecessor.

A council of The Tigard-Tualatin Teachers union issued a unanimous vote of no confidence in the superintendent in June 2023. The council has about 40 members and includes teachers from every school in the district.

The TTSD board, who hired her, seems to fail to grasp the reality of the situation. Board Chair Tristan Irvin said “It’s difficult for me to understand the motives behind such a personal attack by our association leaders on a superintendent that is held in high esteem.”

“High esteem” is not what the district’s teachers were saying. Excerpts from the 2023 teachers’ survey question about district leadership include: Both academics and the safety of schools for students and teachers declined through Rieke-Smith’s tenure. Many students were reported for not eating or drinking during the day out of fear of having to use the restroom because “bad things happen in there.” Meanwhile, students with attendance and behavior issues are treated to Grub Hub lunches and other treats, apparently out of a belief that their “dysregulation is due to being hungry.” It promotes the idea that if they act out, they will be rewarded with food.

A video of a vicious assault by one student at Hazelbrook Middle School made national headlines followed by a bomb threat. It was learned that the perpetrator had a history of assaulting other students and no effective action had been taken. Rather than taking action against the perpetrator, Dr Rieke-Smith blamed the student who had filmed the assault for contributing. Rieke-Smith never phoned the parents of the victim, and only after the massive media focus, were law enforcement called and the perpetrator is now a member of the juvenile justice community.



Things became so bad at Durham Elementary that the Durham Teachers published this letter to Rieke-Smith on November 7, 2023:

“Durham Elementary School can no longer provide a safe teaching and learning space under the current conditions. We are not talking about normal misbehavior as one might imagine, but rather about physical assaults and destructive behaviors that would not be allowed in any other public school district in our area. Zero-consequence policies and a belief in full inclusion cannot come with a disregard for all the other students and stakeholders in the building. It is not safe and the staff can no longer do their jobs under these conditions.”

Several Durham teachers testified to the same effect at the December 11, 2023 board meeting, at which time they left without listening to the rest of the meeting. Two students also testified about the chaos and violence in Tigard Tualatin schools.

Board member David Jaimes said “We should have students in our classrooms that may be a little bit harder to handle than others.” Board member Jill Zurschmeide repeated what she had said after the teachers’ vote of no confidence earlier in the year: “I hired Dr. Rieke-Smith to do the work she is doing now, she’s doing it very well, and I have full faith in my superintendent.”

KGW reported in response to Rieke-Smith’s resignation that the Tigard-Tualatin School District has been trouble with threats of school shootings and violence over the past year that led parents and teachers to call for her resignation. Now they have an opportunity to pressure the board to select a person that can make the needed changes.

--Bill Dewey

Post Date: 2024-03-06 17:50:13Last Update: 2024-03-09 18:51:41

Republicans Urge for Immediate Reconsideration of HCP
“The Board of Forestry should reject the recommendation from the State”

The full Senate and House Republican Caucuses in Oregon have now sent a letter to Governor Tina Kotek urging for the immediate reconsideration of ODF’s proposed Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP). This controversial 70-year logging scale back has already had negative consequences on businesses and concern has only been heightened after the closure of multiple sawmills in the last two months. As written, the HCP desperately lacks a balance between sound forest management policy and conservation goals of the State. The letter reads as follows:

Dear Governor Kotek,

The Oregon House and Senate Republican Caucuses urge for the immediate reconsideration of the Oregon Department of Forestry’s (ODF) proposed Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP). This 70-year forest policy does not support a balance between economic, environmental, and social benefits to all Oregonians.

While we generally support the intent of an HCP and reasonable conservation measures, we want to ensure our forests continue to be valuable economic and societal resources for our communities. In short, we are opposed to burdensome HCP measures that will knowingly have negative impacts on our communities for the next several decades.

While ODF has previously signaled its intent to balance conservation goals while maintaining current harvest levels, the newest projections released on December 13, 2023[1], visibly show a dramatic increase in conservation acres and a major decrease in timber harvest levels below what was promised. ODF advertised this HCP as a conservation plan with harvest certainty of about 250 mmbf (board feet) annually[2]. The new projections show that timber harvest will be down between 168-185 mmbf annually. Obviously, this 70-year plan is heavy on conservation and light on economic viability which is not in alignment with Greatest Permanent Value.

On average, about 240-250 million board feet of timber have been harvested from Oregon’s western state forests over the last 5-10 years[3]. 64% of the revenue from state harvests goes back to the counties and smaller “taxing districts” within them – an average of nearly $68 million each year during the last decade. For reference, 250 million board feet of timber is equivalent to 32,500 average-size homes – almost the number of homes Governor Kotek wants produced annually. 250mmbf also creates or retains 2,750 jobs per the Oregon Forests Resources Institute[4].

This HCP coupled with ODF’s Forest Management Plan will reduce that revenue by $28-53 million annually, depending on which harvest scenario they implement[5].

Not only will counties lose critical funding but mill closures and mass job losses will continue to cause a ripple effect through Oregon’s rural communities contributing to more homelessness, drug addiction, and the need for public services. Communities surrounded by forests – especially unmanaged forests – need fire departments to protect them from forest fires. Fire Departments relying on timber harvest revenue to operate will suffer or be forced to close. This leaves our vulnerable communities defenseless.

Additionally, we are very concerned with our water and air quality, especially during fire season. This HCP will leave much of our state forests without management; 70 years of fuel accumulation increases the risk of fire and fire severity. Forest fire smoke already fills our air every year and the debris, ash, and mud destroy waterways. The cleanest groundwater comes from our forests before, during, and after forest operations. Children are choking on smoke during sporting events while the elderly hide inside their homes to survive our fire seasons. The unintended consequences of this HCP will increase the potential for more catastrophic forest fires, smoke, and poor water quality.

Oregon’s Department of Forestry has added approximately 100,000 acres of conservation above what is required for the HCP. (Northern Spotted Owl habitat is shown in ODF’s graph but does not include the Marbled Murrelet, Red Tree Vole, or Coho Salmon habitat that are also being set aside)



Scientists at local and international levels, including the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), recognize the climate benefits of managed forests, timber harvest, and wood products. Managed forests with sustained harvests provide the largest sustained climate mitigation benefit. According to IPCC’s 4th Assessment (2018)6:

“In the long term, a sustainable forest management strategy aimed at maintaining or increasing forest carbon stocks, while producing an annual sustained yield of timber, fiber or energy from the forest, will generate the largest sustained mitigation benefit.”

ODF’s report from December 13, 2023, even shows that more carbon is stored in the forest and in wood products in the scenarios that harvest the most volume.

We understand your priorities as Governor include homelessness, affordable housing, drug addiction, and forest fires. The HCP will exacerbate these issues. Alternatively, opening our forests to proper and sustainable management would help mitigate these issues and provide the necessary renewable wood products and building materials to address our housing crisis.

ODF will be in the same situation as the Trust Land Counties regarding the loss of timber harvest revenue. Taxpayers will be asked to foot the bill while mills close, logging companies auction off their equipment, our constituents lose their jobs, county services are strained, schools close, 4-H programs are canceled, libraries are closed, and emergency services are compromised.

For these reasons, we oppose the Western Habitat Conservation Plan. The Board of Forestry should reject the recommendation from the State Forester and instead, direct ODF to significantly amend the HCP to improve harvest and economic outcomes by any means necessary.

The Oregon Board of Forestry will make a final decision on whether to adopt the HCP at a meeting on Thursday, March 7th.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2024-03-05 18:35:21Last Update: 2024-03-05 18:57:23

Oregon Expands Career Readiness Grants to 74 Schools
CTE course students graduate at a 95% rate.

Oregon Department of Education Director Dr. Charlene Williams and Labor Commissioner Christina Stephenson announced 74 Oregon high schools, serving more than 36,000 students, have secured career readiness grants totaling $7.629 million.

The Career and Technical Education (CTE) Revitalization Grant funds from the State of Oregon will serve diverse communities around the state, with programs focused on advanced manufacturing, agricultural science, business, computer science, construction, cosmetology, engineering, firefighting, health sciences, hospitality, media and natural resources.

In total, the 31 grants help to create or expand CTE programs focused on high-wage, high-skill and in-demand fields such as Health Care, Manufacturing and Construction. These programs provide valuable access to experience, expertise and additional forms of support to the communities they serve and give students relevant education and preparation for career and postsecondary learning experiences.

“As the class of 2023 graduation rates indicate, CTE moves the needle on student success,” said Oregon Department of Education Director Dr. Charlene Williams. “CTE keeps students excited about both their school day and their future. These classes build a life changing bridge between the school experience and high-quality, well-paid careers in fields ranging from accounting and astrophysics to welding and zoology.”

Students who pass CTE courses graduate at higher rates when compared to the general student population. According to the most recent data for the Class of 2023, CTE concentrators (across all student populations) graduated at a 95.0% rate, 13.7 percentage points higher than the state as a whole.



In 2011, the Oregon Legislature established a competitive grant program entitled the CTE Revitalization Grant which strengthens the alignment of Career and Technical Education, workforce development and economic development. In July 2015, Governor Kate Brown signed House Bill (HB) 3072 and HB 5016, authorizing $9.0 million for the Oregon Department of Education to continue the CTE Revitalization Grant program. During the 2023 legislative session, $7.629 million was allocated for CTE Revitalization.

The CTE Revitalization Grant Advisory Committee reviewed 66 applications totaling $16 million in requests. The committee prioritized applications based on geographic diversity, community partnerships and programs that lead to high-wage, in-demand occupations, especially for historically and currently marginalized students. Additional information on grant criteria and list of receptitants selected for this round of funding can be found on the CTE Revitalization Grant web page.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-03-05 09:49:02Last Update: 2024-03-05 01:08:03

Oregon is on the Path to a Single-Payer Healthcare Monopoly
No business is safe in Oregon

Editor's note: State Senator Daniel Bonham (R-Clackamas/Multnomah/Hood River) represents Oregon Senate District 26.

This week, the Oregon House passed HB 4130, a bill the majority party wants you to think will simply “remove corporations out of the healthcare system.” What they won’t tell you is the bill will ultimately limit access to healthcare by decreasing the amount of healthcare options in the state.

Specifically, HB 4130 requires all officers of a professional corporation, except the secretary and treasurer, to be licensees of the Oregon Medical Board or Oregon State Board of Nursing. In theory this doesn’t sound that bad. In practice this has severe unintended consequences as Oregon's business climate has gradually made it harder for doctors to run their own practices.

Please do not get me wrong, we unequivocally need a model that supports health over profits. We don't need Black Rock deciding whether you get a hip or heart transplant. But this bill is not that. The singularly it creates will remove small physicians' options to stay in business, wiping out patient choice and paving the way for big business.

Ironic, right? This is pacman politics, similar to other sectors. Where the big medical corporations gobble up smaller businesses and pave the way for a single-payer healthcare monopoly.

Simply put, I am not willing to gamble on the government being in charge of mine or my residents' healthcare options.

Independent healthcare providers are often in need of private investment or a model that utilizes a Management Service Organization (MSO). MSO’s allow doctors to do what they do best, provide health services to their patients, while taking care of administrative tasks, infrastructure investments and financial risks. These MSOs can be a life saver for some smaller practices. This bill is seeking to end the MSO option, which will be the end of many local community healthcare options.



According to experts, Oregon ranks 34 out of 50 among U.S. states for access to primary care. Our rural communities are in dire need of innovative and accessible healthcare options such as independent healthcare providers and telehealth.

Oregon’s obsession with intervening in our healthcare system and reducing healthcare options for residents is not making our lives better. Ask yourself, would you rather go to a DMV or an Apple store? Would you rather take an Uber or a taxi? Government forced monopolies or overregulated programs do not help improve customer service. Ever. To learn more about this problem, Best Med wrote a very informative opposition letter here.

--Senator Daniel Bonham

Post Date: 2024-03-04 10:35:21Last Update: 2024-03-04 14:43:31

Offshore Wind Plants Along SW Oregon Coast Scrutinized
14 Gigawatt Wind Project Under Review

The House Committee on Business and Labor held an early morning hearing recently, where they received opposition to the proposed offshore, wind-energy legislation in House Bill 4080. Here's why.

Oregon’s 2022 Biennial Energy Report states on page 11 that Oregonians consumed 53.7 million megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity in 2020, from both in-state and out-of-state sources, which equates to 73,511.3 MW of production over a one year period (53,700,000 MWh / 730.5 hours per year). During 2020, the energy resource mix was comprised of hydro (38.9%), coal (26.5%), natural gas (21.5%), land-based wind (7.0%), nuclear (3.5%), and other forms incl. solar, biomass, and geothermal, etc. (2.6%).

It is understood that the projected output of Oregon’s offshore wind farms in both “call areas” will be 14 gigawatts, requiring dozens of specialized vessels manned with expert technicians.

Adding 19 percent of Oregon’s average annual needs to the grid begs the question of whether this gargantuan project’s benefits will outweigh its gargantuan costs - costs that Oregonians will be required to shoulder via state and federal taxation, as capital outlays and ongoing cost of operations and maintenance for this ‘seasonal’ energy source are fully accounted for.

The break-even point when delivered energy values exceed the project’s costs are at issue, assuming the equipment can last long enough for the ROI to ramp out of the red. Upon end of life, decommissioning and recycling wind-turbine components require specialized planning; in particular, blade disposal poses a formidable challenge due to their size and composition.

It is understood that 18 wind turbines and foundations will be located beyond 13.8 miles (12 nautical miles), utilizing 6,800 miles of additional subsea cable; however, obvious impacts to bird habitats (survival rates) will be felt. Several marine mammals will be harmed, as “gray whale migratory routes are most dense within 6.9 miles from shore, Southern Resident killer whale habitat occurs 11.5 miles from shore along the Oregon coastline to 656 feet (200 meters) water depths, and humpback whales are generally concentrated in water depths up to 328 feet.”

Land-based wind turbines have a typical lifespan of up to 20 years while routinely maintained semiannually , yet the Pacific Ocean is historically one of the most powerfully destructive environments on the planet.

When inevitable breakdowns, failures, and fluid leaks during its lifespan are considered, maintenance more frequently than twice per year will be required; furthermore, the inevitable leaks and failures will be significant when comparing ‘viable’ turbines in extreme, salty environments to well-documented reliability issues of more common, terrestrial wind plants. Wind Systems Magazine, 2/15/2024

Produced outputs are seasonal due to unpredictable wind speeds and thermal effects on energy lost during transfers over long distances; wind plant performance tends to be highest during Spring months and lowest during mid- to late-Summer months, when grid loads peak due to high air conditioning demands and other electrical-cooling system burdens

NOTE: There is a time-sensitive opportunity to voice opinions to the federal government about the proposed offshore wind energy project near Coos and Curry Counties where comments are due by Friday, March 15, 2024: Notice of Intent To Prepare an Environmental Assessment for Commercial Wind Leasing and Site Assessment Activities on the U.S. Outer Continental Shelf Offshore Oregon

--Kyle Sharpe

Post Date: 2024-03-03 09:32:19Last Update: 2024-03-03 09:34:58

USDA Issues Secretarial Natural Disaster Designation for Impacted Oregon Counties
Eligible farmers can apply for emergency loans

Oregon Governor Tina Kotek announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has determined that losses during the 2023 crop year due to multiple weather events in nine counties across the state warrant a Secretarial natural disaster designation.

This determination was made in response to a September 2023 request from Governor Kotek that outlined the impacts of the weather events, such as the Oregon cherry harvest. The available harvest data showed a 35% loss due to poor fruit set.

“Oregon farmers faced serious economic losses during last year’s crop season,” Governor Kotek said. “Our agriculture community is invaluable to Oregon, feeding families across the state. This designation is critical to ensure that farmers are able to receive support from the federal government in recuperating those losses.”

Under the first designation, defined as excessive rain that occurred starting on July 7, 2023, Hood River County is listed as a primary county. Clackamas, Multnomah and Wasco counties have been designated as contingent counties.

Under the second designation, defined as drought, excessive heat, and high winds that occurred from July 5-15, 2023, Wasco County is listed as a primary county. Clackamas, Gilliam, Hood River, Jefferson, Marion, Sherman and Wheeler counties have been designated as continent counties. Farmers may be able to apply for loans if they produce crops in any of the primary or contingent counties included in the designation.



A Secretarial disaster designation makes farm operators in primary counties and those counties contiguous to such primary counties eligible to be considered for certain assistance from the Farm Service Agency (FSA), provided eligibility requirements are met. This assistance includes FSA emergency loans.

The USDA issued this Secretarial disaster declaration on February 23, 2024. Farmers in eligible counties have eight months from the date of a Secretarial disaster declaration to apply for emergency loans. FSA considers each emergency loan application on its own merits, taking into account the extent of production losses on the farm and the security and repayment ability of the operator. Local FSA offices can provide affected farmers with further information.

--Dollie Banner

Post Date: 2024-03-02 01:30:48Last Update: 2024-03-01 21:40:53

Traffic Stop Leads to Seizure of Fentanyl
10,000 fentanyl pills and four pounds of fentanyl powder

A recent traffic stop in Linn County resulted in the seizure of a large quantity of fentanyl powder and pills headed for the street.

On Feb. 16, 2024, at approximately 4:30 p.m., an OSP trooper stopped a silver Honda Accord at milepost 219 on I-5 for a traffic violation. The trooper observed suspicious behavior by the vehicle occupants that pointed to possible drug activity. A K-9 unit was called to assist.

The K-9 alerted on possible illegal drugs. A subsequent search of the vehicle resulted in the seizure of 10,000 fentanyl pills and four pounds of fentanyl powder from a grocery bag behind the driver’s seat. A small amount of other illegal narcotics was also found in the vehicle.

The vehicle operator, Danny Yohan Cruz Benitz (18) of Oakland (CA), was arrested for possession of a controlled substance and attempted delivery of a controlled substance. Passenger, Walter Omar Mayorga Aguilar (20) of Sacramento (CA), was arrested for possession of a controlled substance, attempted delivery of a controlled substance, and a parole/probation violation.

--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2024-03-01 20:51:41Last Update: 2024-02-29 21:21:17

Oregon Legislature Attempts Fix for Measure 110
Will HB 4002 correct Measure 110?

Oregon House Bill 4002 could be the most important bill this legislative session. It will determine how serious the legislature is on prioritizing public safety. Both parties introduced bills with somewhat different ideas of what decriminalizing Measure 110 should look like. Every Joint Committee on Addiction and Community Safety committee member expressed some dislike in the amended bill.

The Republican bill, HB 4036, has not moved since its initial hearing February 7, in preference of HB 4002. HB 4036 was stronger on enforcement, so Democrat leaders amended HB 4002 to include recriminalizing drug possession and open-air drug use, and increasing fines and penalties for drug dealers.

Senator Floyd Prozanski (D-Eugene) had additional concerns that the bill was being accelerated so fast that it isn't being vented as to what it will do to the justice system. Was he implying another "catch and release" in the making? He has concerns about putting the decision of treatment into prosecutor’s hands that may lead to discrimination, which was discussed by several committee members. “It doesn't meet the criminal side of what voters want addressed,” he said. Senator Fred Girod (R-Stayton) is also concerned with the bill being heavy on treatment but light on enforcement.

Representative Kevin Mannix (R-Keizer/North Salem) proposed nine amendments to address what he views as weaknesses in the Democrat's amended bill. He proposed his own amended bill, but seeing that Democrat co-chairs wouldn't consider it, he proposed amendments to their amended bill that would carry out his proposed plan he announced last week.

“While I think that the enforcement mechanism presented by the Democrat majority is not as strong as it should be, it is a step in the right direction. We need to strengthen this with additional changes in the law, which is why I have proposed nine amendments to the package deal under consideration,” said Representative Mannix.

However, because time did not allow for fiscal impact statements to be prepared, it required the committee to wave the rule, and Democrat members refused the opportunity to see if additional amendment would address some of Prozanski's concerns.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released new data this month that shows overdoses deaths are rising at a faster rate in Oregon than anywhere else in the country. Between September 2022 and September 2023, Oregon saw a 41.5% increase in overdose deaths. The co-chairs, Senate Majority Leader Kate Lieber (D-Beaverton) and Representative Jason Kropf (D-Bend), released a statement in response to the CDC report:

“Inaction is not an option. This is another sobering reminder of why we have to act this session to keep our communities safe and save lives. We’re working hard to finalize a plan that accomplishes both. It is clear that Oregon's current approach to the drug crisis is not working, and we know the War on Drugs didn’t work either. Our goal is to put politics aside so we can chart a new course to a safer, healthier Oregon together."



The fiscal impact on HB 4002 is reported to be $21,061,114 with over half ($12,191,071) going to the Public Defense Commission. This, coincidentally, is the same amount that was awarded to enforcement in 2021 to track down illegal drug activity that was a successful "war on drugs" while funding lasted. The DEA joined in with federal funding and a task force was also federally funded for five western states. The work spread into 14 Oregon counties. Lane County reported taking down at least eight slave camps with similar results in other counties.

Funding to continue that program has fallen on deaf ears, and HB 4002 does not include work to take down cartel slave camps and eliminated some illegal growers. On the other hand, HB 4002 funds the defense for the criminals caught under this bill and gives them a treatment option instead of serving time. It allocates $1,609,904 to state police, but that will cover looking after all the probation agreements or crsis intervention options offered in the bill.

Oregonians are scratching their heads in disbelief. What "War on Drugs" has this leadership earnestly pursued? One Oregonian has seen slave labor increasing and says that Democrat's idea of war on drugs has been to organize slave camps and hogtied police during the riots by passing SB 1510. There are over 20 elected Democrat politicians that took unreported money from La Mota, who he says has cartel connections prior to moving to Oregon. We have cartels driving people from over 166 countries over our borders exploiting them and we encourage them with sanctuary state laws, while our citizens live in the streets in tent cities, with no hope but a steady flow of fentanyl and other drugs. He asks, "I truly wonder if elected Democrats care about what's wrong when their answer is to fund $1.2 billion for an industrial homeless complex and give free medical care to the world. Why did Governor Kate Brown shut down two state prisons and then release 1,000 more violent offenders into the streets of Oregon? Kate Brown wanted to shut down the mental hospital in Junction City, Oregon, before it was even opened to receive mentally ill. Now they are looking for treatment centers."

Measure 110 is at the root of almost every problem we now face in Oregon, but will HB 4002 really help?

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-02-27 10:45:44Last Update: 2024-02-27 22:41:57

OPERF Aimed For Net Zero Carbon Investing
Some say that fiduciary decisions lack credibility

Oregon Treasurer Tobias Read released his Pathway to Net Zero: Positioning the Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund for a Net Zero Carbon Future, a plan to transition the OPERF by 2050.

A step in that direction is HB 4083, which directs the State Treasurer to stop investing moneys in companies that deal in thermal coal. The bill is scheduled for a work session on February 13.

Treasurer Read is leading efforts to: Treasurer Read claims, “We’re fiduciaries first. This means that we’re required to make decisions in the best financial interests and for the sole benefit of all current and future retirees.” If that were true, they wouldn’t need HB 4083. And if it were true, why not take a vote of PERS retirees and not take direction from environmentalist that have no vested interest?



Daren Baskt, Director of the Center for Energy and Environment at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, comments that Oregon is making a mistake. "Treasury should be serving the best interests of public employees and not the ideological agenda of climate extremists. But that’s exactly what it appears to be doing," Baskt told Tom Joyce of The Center Square. "[P]laying with public employees’ money and risking their retirements for some cause, whatever it might be, is irresponsible at best. Further, using the Retirement Fund to try and help eliminate fossil fuels and shift the country to unreliable and costly energy that isn’t capable of meeting basic needs isn’t some noble effort. It’s actually an arrogant plan that presumes government officials should push their climate agenda without regard for any of the costs and tradeoffs associated with their transition to energy poverty."

Read is a candidate for Secretary of State. Will he bring his agenda to that office, if elected? “Planning and acting now to address the investment risks – and opportunities of the climate crisis - is a critical next step in making sure the pension fund will produce strong returns for generations to come.”

Read’s claim of being fiduciary responsible was already on the hot seat for over investing 60% of OPERF funds in high risk “alternative” funds. This level of high-risk private investment is almost twice as high as most other state pension plans (34%%). Is it fiduciary responsible to triple private equity investments or is the OPERF headed towards a larger debt?

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-02-24 09:51:45Last Update: 2024-02-24 02:06:12

Common Sense Needed Moving Forward on the Elliott Research Forest
Giesy Plan Alernative promises hope for all sides

The sale of the Elliott State Forest, which “decoupled” it from the Common School Fund, it has a long ominous history. The 2022 Senate Bill 1546 that sold the Elliott school lands to itself, is pending a ruling from Honorable Judge Andrew Combs in the Civil Complaint Case No. 23CV39056 in Coos County Circuit court by Advocates for School Trust Lands (Advocates).

Advocates state, “The assumption that decoupling the forest from the Common School Fund could nullify the state's trust obligations to the common schools, as proposed in SB 1546, is at best ill-informed and at worst criminal. The irrevocable Oregon Enabling Act mandates that its terms are binding on both the United States and the State of Oregon.” They further state that it is impermissible for a trustee to purchase assets from the trust, creating a breach of trust by SB 1546. If the court invalidates the sale, it equates to breaching the state constitution.

In 1859, at statehood, Oregon was allocated more than three million acres of school trust lands. In 1930 the Elliott, Oregon’s first State Forest, was created by trading scattered parcels remaining from trust land sales for an 82,500-acre block in Coos and Douglas counties that remained in an irrevocable trust managed for the benefit of the Common School Fund. Several wildfires had reduced the older stands to under 160 years old so there is virtually no old growth. It developed into a hotbed of activism and lawsuits, so that the past 10 years there has been zero sales resulting in an overgrowth, increasing the fire risk.

The controversy surrounding the management began in 1989 with the discovery of the spotted owl within its mostly second growth trees. It was the beginning of the federally mandated HCP (Habitat Conservation Plan), followed by an environmental lawsuit stopping all harvesting in 2012. What once provided hundreds of millions of dollars to Oregon schools, was now costing money. In 2017 the Elliott Forest was valued at over $1 billion, but sold for $221 million due the severe market restrictions. In 2022, the legislature made it a research forest to be managed by Oregon State University that would raise revenue by selling carbon credits. However, OSU didn’t agree on selling carbon credits nor did they agree with the HCP plan restricting harvest. Along with tribal concerns, OSU completed its commitment in 2023 delivering the final draft of an Elliott State Research Forest Management Plan to the Oregon Department of State Lands, and backed out of managing the forest. That currently leaves the forest in the hands of the Department of State Lands (DSL) and cancels the creation of a new Elliott Research Authority state agency.

The State Land Board is holding on to preserving the Elliott as a research forest and holding meetings to manage the forest through a provisional board of directors. They requested $4.4 million in SB 5701 to administer the program. Management under the board should result in a smaller budget and allow the Habitat Conservation Plan (HCP) plan to move forward under the OSU proposed research plan, which divided the forest into three kinds of management units: 66% is allocated as reserve forest, 17% is extensive forestry or ecological forestry developed by OSU with small patch cuts on a 60 year rotation, and 17% clear cuts in 60 year rotations.

There are drawbacks to the OSU plan that over time result in 73% of the forest getting older and 50% will continuing to get older increasing fire risk without management. There is a complex research overlay on the forest. which has morphed into a somewhat cooperative system. The tribes would like to see more management in the reserve areas. Over time roads will be removed in the reserve areas. HCP has an 80-year growth plan and protected species will remain even if the HCP is removed. It is a stronghold for federally listed marbled murrelets, northern spotted owls, and Coho salmon.

All the money coming from timber sales goes back into research in the Elliott Forest, which the Advocates are claiming should go to schools. Right now, the wildlife conservationists seem to be leading the conversation, “if you don’t buy into the plan, don’t be on the board,” said Bob Sallinger, retired Audubon Director. But the conversation is still open. Senator David Brock Smith defends the program as the best scenario to at least get between 17k-22k board feet cut per year, which is better than no harvest. But, that isn't viewed as proper management by Bob Zybach Ph.D, Environmental Scientist.

There is a push for a new direction that would encompass all ideas and resolve the pending court case. Zybach, has worked with Wayne Giesy, David Gould, and Jerry Phillips on the 2017 Giesy Plan Alternative to sustain the Elliott, and to focus on scientific testing of HCPs before they are adopted on any state or private lands. They have produced solid numbers to prove their plan and say road maintenance and timber sales can begin immediately. “As a PhD with some expertise on the topic, I can state with some certainty that HCPs are a purely political process and need to be scientifically tested before causing any more damage to our forests and rural economies,” Zybach says. He is calling for the Elliott Forest to be redirected to the Oregon Department of Forestry to resume management for the purpose of meeting legal obligations to the Common School Fund and to local communities.



The basic research design of the “Giesy Plan Alternative" is the paired watershed approach that OSU and ODF successfully tested on Roseburg Forest Products land on the North Umpqua. The key components of the Giesy option are that the Elliott will remain in public ownership with public access for 20 years until better informed decisions can be made regarding its longer-term ownership and management; that 40,000 acres be set-aside as “old-growth habitat” for research, education, aesthetics, and endangered species; and that 40,000 acres be actively managed for continued Common School Fund benefit, with timber sales averaging 50mmbf/year creating — by State economist estimates -- 430 needed rural jobs and $440 million for our schools. This is only 2/3 of the Elliott's annual growth of 75 mmbf/year and is the same number used in the 1988 Elliott Plan when trees were a lot smaller and 35 years younger. At the present time there is more than 2.3 billion board feet of timber on the Elliott based on the 2016 cruise, plus eight years of growth since.

All 550 miles of existing roads and trails will be maintained for safety, research, recreation and education. Research and education focus would be on carbon sequestration; spotted owl, marbled murrelet, coho, lamprey, and pine marten habitat and populations; economics; forest recreation; and forest management, and conducted locally by high school and community college students and statewide via accredited online studies. To develop accredited online courses, the Giesy Plan expands into a network started by the 501 c(3) educational nonprofit, Oregon Websites and Watersheds Project, Inc. (ORWW) that has completed more than 40 such projects over the past 21 years conducting historical and fisheries research and working with local students and educators on the Elliott. The intent is to continue work with Southwestern Oregon Community College (SWOCC) and local high schools with a focus on the Elliott. “In that regard,” Zybach says, “we have promoted the Elliott State Educational Forest as an ideal outdoor classroom for research, education, and Common School Fund income for all Oregon students.”

The components would be the 24 named creek subbasins on the Elliott, as shown on the map. The operational approach would be to systematically select two adjacent subbasins from each of the four principal coho runs (Umpqua, Tenmile, Haynes, West Fork); one to be left “as is” — but with roads and trails maintained for public access, research, education, and recreational uses — and the other to be clearcut to the water’s edge from ridgeline to ridgeline for comparative analysis of economics, wildlife populations, water flows, wildfire risk, biodiversity, and aesthetics.

Zybach states, “The Giesy Plan would be experimental, educational, and economic in scope and would only last 20 years, at which time the results could be carefully analyzed and used as the basis for future management directions and options.” In the meantime, the plan will rescue rural communities out of sure poverty, and in the long run will settle the HCP debate for state forests with significant research to test HCPs for western Oregon. You can show your support by contacting the State Land Board, or emailing Arin.N.Smith@dsl.oregon.gov.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-02-24 08:46:37Last Update: 2024-02-24 15:59:37

Public Safety A Concern On Public Transportation
Measure 110 reform lacks public safety

In a stunning display of hypocrisy, Oregon’s majority party reveals they care more about public safety on buses than in your neighborhood.

Majority Leader Senator Kate Lieber (D-Portland), chief sponsor of SB 1553, makes it clear that use of drugs on public transportation as a Class A Misdemeanor is more important than the Democrat fix for Measure 110 that calls for a Class C misdemeanor, which is a $100 fine.

TriMet testifies, "Despite a significant expansion of security presence on our vehicles and property, open drug use has become commonplace throughout our system: TriMet’s Safety & Security team received an average of over 260 incident reports per month related to drugs and alcohol from October-December 2023."

In response to TriMet’s endorsement, House Republican Leader Jeff Helfrich (R-Hood River) issued the following statement:

“We’ve been told for months by the majority party and their special interest bosses that a Class A Misdemeanor was too harsh, but this bill puts their hypocrisy on full display. Public transportation deserves Class A protections, but our neighborhoods and streets don’t?” asked Helfrich, a retired Portland police sergeant. “It doesn’t make sense - if someone is using drugs at a bus stop it’s fine, but if they get on the bus it has crossed the line? If a Class A is good enough for buses, its good enough for our neighborhoods and streets.”

A recent TriMet survey shows over a 30% drop in riders for feeling unsafe on buses and trains over the past several years. This is not just a Portland issue, Eugene and Medford have also expressed concern.

"SB 1553 expands the number of crimes a person can be prosecuted for on public transportation regarding illegal consumption of a controlled substance. Chargeable offenses already exist for which District Attorneys will not prosecute," says Senator Brian Boquist (R-Polk County). "This crime will become part of the existing judicial catch and release scheme. Police already know which alleged crimes will never be adjudicated thus they stop enforcing them. Adding this crime to the list solves nothing. Calling it an enhanced penalty does nothing. Enforce existing laws. Fix Measure 110. Make the public prosecutors do their job … or maybe toss them out if they fail to prosecute ten offenders. Make Judges do their job instead of letting off offenders … or automatically toss them out if they fail to jail ten offenders. We have an intentionally expanding serious drug use problem in Oregon, but SB 1553 is a political stunt nothing more. To think having a second or third or fourth charge against a single drug abuser will make anyone safer on transit is ridiculous. This legislator finds it unfathomable that we use children, women, and transit workers as pawns for political posturing instead of providing real solutions. The right thing is to fix it, not kick the can down the road until after the next election. As Measure 110 fixes fail, thanks to the Judiciary, and lack of consensus in the State Senate, we get a "Uniparty" non-solution. We need to protect transit riders and drivers by enforcing existing laws, and provide funding for drug treatment."

The co-chair of the Public Safety Subcommittee, Joint Committee on Ways & Means admits that decisions are being made behind closed doors that even Democrats are not privy too, and public safety isn't at the top of the list. "In terms of the “major” legislation (the Governor’s Housing Package, a response to Ballot Measure 110, and a potential bill on campaign finance reforms), the pieces of the total puzzle are beginning to be revealed. Although the leadership hasn’t specifically outlined the priority of these measures for passage, I suspect there is a lot more support for the housing package than the other two priorities."

Majority leaders report they are revising HB 4002 Measure 110 reforms, but they have been silent over two weeks and time is running out. Oregonians are waiting to see if there will be significate fixes to Measure 110 that will eliminate cartel activities - close down slave camps, rape rooms, trafficking, drug and fentanyl mules, money laundering, and provide funding for enforcement to stop these criminal activities. Measure 110 reform could eliminate the need for SB 1553 as a separate law for transportation systems.

--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-02-23 09:25:46Last Update: 2024-02-23 15:35:16

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