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On this day, June 16, 1873, President Grant signed an executive order that permitted Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce to live in the Wallowa Valley, Oregon, to perpetuity.

Also on this day, June 16, 1877, The Nez Perce War began in the northwestern US. The First Squadron of the First Regiment, the oldest cavalry unit in the US, fought the Apaches and the Nez Perces.




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Juneteenth
Wednesday, June 19, 2024 at 12:00 am
Juneteenth
Celebrated on the anniversary of June 19, 1865, when in the wake of the American Civil War, Major General Gordon Granger ordered the final enforcement of the Emancipation Proclamation in Texas.



Lincoln County Fair
Thursday, July 4, 2024 at 8:00 am
www.thelincolncountyfair.com
July 4-6
Lincoln County Fairgrounds



Independence Day
Thursday, July 4, 2024 at 11:59 pm
Independence Day
USA



Marion County Fair
Thursday, July 11, 2024 at 8:00 am
https://www.co.marion.or.us/CS/Fair
July 11-14
Oregon State Fair & Expo Center



Jackson County Fair
Tuesday, July 16, 2024 at 8:00 am
TheExpo.com
July 16-21
Jackson County Fairgrounds - The Expo



Columbia County Fair
Wednesday, July 17, 2024 at 8:00 am
columbiacountyfairgrounds.com
July 17-21
Columbia County Fairgrounds



Linn County Fair
Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 8:00 am
https://www.linncountyfair.com/
July 18-20
Linn County Expo Center



Washington County Fair
Friday, July 19, 2024 at 8:00 am
https://www.bigfairfun.com/
July 19-28
Washington County Fairgrounds - Westside Commons



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



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



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



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



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



Clatsop County Fair
Tuesday, July 30, 2024 at 8:00 am
https://clatsopcofair.com/
July 30 - August 3
Clatsop County Fair & Expo



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



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



Deschutes County Fair
Wednesday, July 31, 2024 at 8:00 am
https://expo.deschutes.org/
July 31 - August 4
Deschutes County Fair & Expo Center



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



Yamhill County Fair
Wednesday, July 31, 2024 at 8:00 am
www.co.yamhill.or.us/fair
July 31 - August 3
Yamhill County Fairgrounds



Klamath County Fair
Thursday, August 1, 2024 at 8:00 am
https://www.klamathcountyfair.com/
August 1-4
Klamath County Fair



Wallowa County Fair
Friday, August 2, 2024 at 8:00 am
https://co.wallowa.or.us/community-services/county-fair/
August 2-10
Wallowa County Fairgrounds



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



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



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



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



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



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



Josephine County Fair
Wednesday, August 7, 2024 at 8:00 am
https://www.josephinecountyfairgrounds.com/
August 7-11
Josephine County Fairgrounds & Events Center



Polk County Fair
Wednesday, August 7, 2024 at 8:00 am
https://www.co.polk.or.us/fair
August 7-10
Polk County Fairgrounds



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



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



Wheeler County Fair
Wednesday, August 7, 2024 at 8:00 am
www.wheelercountyoregon.com/fair-board
August 7-10
Wheeler County Fairgrounds



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



Morrow County Fair
Wednesday, August 14, 2024 at 8:00 am
https://www.co.morrow.or.us/fair
August 14-17
Morrow County Fairgrounds



Wasco County Fair
Thursday, August 15, 2024 at 8:00 am
https://www.wascocountyfair.com
August 15-17
Wasco County Fairgrounds



Gilliam County Fair
Thursday, August 29, 2024 at 8:00 am
http://www.co.gilliam.or.us/government/fairgrounds
August 29-31
Gilliam County Fairgrounds



Lake County Fair
Thursday, August 29, 2024 at 8:00 am
https://www.lakecountyor.org/government/fair_grounds.php
August 29 - September 1
Lake County Fairgrounds



Oregon State Fair
Saturday, August 31, 2024 at 8:00 am
www.oregonstateexpo.org
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


View All Calendar Events


Griffin-Valade Releases Voting Engagement Toolkit
“These concerns have not diminished, and we anticipate they will continue to increase”

Oregon Secretary of State LaVonne Griffin-Valade (D-Portland) has released a civic engagement toolkit, aimed at helping organizations do voter registration and voter turnout work in the 2024 elections. According to a press release from her office, the tools included in the 2024 toolkit are official, non-partisan, research-backed and free to use with or without attribution to our office. Though they are described as non-partisan, most experts agree that increased turnout helps Democrats.

In a letter included with the toolkit, Griffin-Valade says, "Our hope is that this toolkit will make it easy for everyone to participate in civic engagement. The tools below are official, non-partisan, research-backed and free to use with or without attribution to our office.

"In this toolkit, you’ll find social media assets, sample emails, scripts and other tools to help you reach voters in Oregon. Many of you may have the ability to create materials of your own, and we welcome that. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to our office if you have any questions or need additional assistance with your own communications."

A D V E R T I S E M E N T

A D V E R T I S E M E N T

Part of the toolkit is some information to counteract what has been labeled "misinformation."

"False information about elections has led to increased threats and harassment targeting elections officials, culminating in the death of 7 people during and after the events of January 6, 2021 at the U.S. Capitol. These concerns have not diminished, and we anticipate they will continue to increase during the 2024 election.

"Research shows the best way to prevent the spread of false information is to proactively reach people with accurate information, inoculating them against false information they may be exposed to later. This is referred to as “pre-bunking.”

The toolkit can be downbloaded from the Secretary of State's website.


--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2024-04-12 13:02:10Last Update: 2024-04-11 11:37:31



David Brock Smith’s Rise to Power
More selected than elected

Oregon State Senator David Brock Smith has wound his way to his current position and while his path is not unique, to some it is surprising. It's at least interesting.

David Brock Smith was elected as a Curry County Commissioner in 2012. Just six months later, Smith and David Itzen were faced with a recall effort. According to the article by Jane Stebbins in the Curry Coastal Pilot, the petitioners were “a dozen or so residents pursuing the recall because of their dissatisfaction with the county commission for trying to implement taxes, their alleged treatment of citizens at meetings and the “flip-flopping” -- notably pre-campaign promises not to tax people...”

A follow-up article called “Drive to Recall Petitioners gets Ugly”, reported that “Port Orford resident Paul Mohlin plans to file paperwork to get a restraining order against County Commissioner David Brock Smith, alleging that the elected official is harassing him and his son by spreading rumors about them.” Smith denied the allegation.

The article went on to describe Smith’s reaction to the petitions to recall him. “The commissioner recently asked Wedderburn Store owner Tori Belangie to remove recall petitions from her establishment, which she refused. ‘He didn't say, 'Take them out, or I'll kill you,' Belangie said. ‘He just said take them out.’ I don't intimidate well. I feel I'm doing a community service. We have the Constitutional right to do what we're doing; that's why we don't shoot each other anymore.”

"I was upset about it," said a man who preferred to remain anonymous for fear of retribution. "He wasn't so much threatening her as pressuring her. It infuriates me that someone would try to infringe upon the citizen's right to petition the government."

Smith said he merely mentioned his concerns to Belangie because, as a fellow business owner, any kind of petition or even election sign can affect one's business. He also noted that posting petitions without having someone there to verify each signature is illegal. "Circulators must witness the signing of signature by each individual and believe each individual is an elector," Smith said. "I didn't want her to get in trouble."

A D V E R T I S E M E N T

A D V E R T I S E M E N T

The recall effort which started out with a lot of support eventually failed due to a lack of signatures.

Election to the House of Representatives

David Brock Smith was again running for the office of Curry County Commissioner four years later in 2016, until the last moments before the filing deadline. Then, Smith electronically filed for the District 1 State Representative position at 4:44 p.m. and 21 seconds on March 8 and withdrew his candidacy from the county commissioner's position seconds after at 4:45 p.m.

In an article written by Devan Patel; “Filing mishap won't disqualify David Brock Smith from state race”, published in “The World” newspaper from Gold Beach, Smith stated; ”I took the SEL 150 to our district attorney's office, where he witnessed me signing it, and I asked him to file it for me ,… "I called him up at 4:30 p.m. and told him I needed to get it in before I filed. I stayed on the phone the entire time.”

Under ORS 249.170, if a person files for more than one lucrative office position without submitting a withdrawal first, all filings by the person would be invalid. In this case the officials allowed David Brock Smith to continue even though the withdrawal seemed to have been filed second.

State Rep. Wayne Krieger, R-Gold Beach, withdrew his candidacy the following day, leaving Smith as the only filed candidate whose name would appear on the Republican primary ballot. Smith said he was aware of Krieger's intention to resign before he submitted his candidate filing.

The article, “Krieger produces vote for Kaufman”, also published in “The World”, continues the story. An unnamed source stated, “… I am so dismayed and disappointed to see him [Wayne Krieger] engage in political dirty tricks and shenanigans by announcing his retirement as a representative at such a late date that only someone (David Brock Smith) with inside knowledge of the imminent retirement was able to file in a timely manner to get his name on the primary ballot. Since when is picking your own successor and depriving the voting populace that right a fair and noble act? Shame on you, Wayne!”

A D V E R T I S E M E N T

A D V E R T I S E M E N T

The article continues; “Tami Kaufman told me months ago that she was interested in running for Wayne's seat in the House of Representatives when he retired. She told me that out of respect she would never consider challenging him while he was still in office. She too praised the job he had done and expressed her respect for him. Because of the dirty politics played by Messrs. Krieger and Smith, Tami Kaufman was unable to file in time to have her name on the May primary ballot. She is now faced with the uphill battle of waging a write-in campaign.” Brock Smith won the race.

Appointment to State Senate in 2023

David Brock Smith again profited from an early retirement when Senator Dallas Heard resigned mid-term and endorsed Smith as his replacement. Dallas Heard’s resignation was effective January 1st, 2023, Smith was one of 5 nominee’s chosen at a Special Election just days later, and was then appointed by the Douglas, Coos and Curry County Commissioners on January 11th. That Special Election and Appointment process was riddled with anomalies introduced by the Secretary of States Office over disqualifications of candidates due to redistricting.

Court Boise, second cousin of Douglas County Commissioner Chris Boice, filled the vacancy created by Smith’s advancement. Again, a vote by the people was circumvented.

Election to State Senate in 2024

Radio Host Rob Taylor’s contract with Bi-Coastal Media was canceled after an interview with Brock Smith that Smith did not like. Another guest in that interview, Diane Rich, had her newsletter advertisers advised by the Coos County Republican Chair that they should quit advertising in her newsletter.

A D V E R T I S E M E N T

A D V E R T I S E M E N T

David Brock Smith sent a message to the Vice Chair of the Douglas County Republican Party, Michaela Hammerson, that advised her and her associates, that if she or other members of her board got caught up with “misinformation” from the Rob Taylor Show, there could be legal repercussions.

Republican Party Board members that have insisted on the need to vet David Brock Smith are feeling the heat with dismissals of 2 committee chair positions and the pending recalls of 6 Board members scheduled for April 18th.

David Brock Smith has recently issued Cease and Desist letters to his political opponent Todd Vaughn, podcast owner Rob Taylor and RUCPAC’s Ben Edtl.


--Terry Noonkester

Post Date: 2024-04-11 10:43:13Last Update: 2024-04-11 11:37:59



State Land Board Approves Elliott Management Structure
A billion-dollar asset management plan won’t break even

OSU formed a memorandum of agreement with the Department of State Lands (DSL) and then spent 5 years and millions of dollars, and put hundreds out of work to come up with a 640 page student-type project for the Elliott Research Forest. OSU bailed from the agreement with DSL, so DSL decided to take over management itself. They inherited a committee that includes three lawyers to forge a way to spend $5 million that was allocated for DSL. They have now presented to the State Land Board a plan rewritten by the lawyers scrapping the plan written by the academics at OSU. It shows a lack of input from stakeholders and experienced people in forest management.

At one point the Elliott Forest was worth a billion dollars in timber and Bob Zybach Ph.D, Environmental Scientist, says it could easily be worth that again with the right forest management plan. In 1962 they logged 50 million feet a year for 30 years and at the end of that time the trees were 30 years older and had a lot more volume than when they started. When the environmentalist took over, they recommended 17 million feet a year, but when it grows 75 million feet, it’s a recipe for more forest fires. Having more growth doesn’t mean the forest will get huge and beautiful – they just get old, diseased, taken out by landslides and fires or die.

Environmentalist want to set up a 70-year plan that supposedly saves a bird that lives in the ocean because they want to save old growth trees. However, what they claim is not factual. There are very few old growth trees in the Elliott Forest, says Zybach. It isn’t critical habitat for spotted owls or marbled murrelets, they are making that up because the law allows them to do so, and they have three lawyers willing to fool the public.

The Elliott has been in decline for 30 years, so we are at a critical point where we have to start managing it again or it’s going to burn.

The proposed plan will only make enough to cover costs for basic maintenance when combined with selling carbon credits. OSU backed out of the management because of the carbon credit scheme. Selling carbon credits will allow the buyer to spew additional carbon into the environment over their carbon limit based on the amount of credits purchased. It does nothing to reduce carbon in the environment, and when the trees burn or die, all that carbon is released anyway. Where logging seals the carbon in the wood and could provide affordable housing.

Every time you cut a million board feet of trees, the standard is it creates 8.8 jobs, and if you cut 50 million board feet, it would be 440 jobs in some of our smallest communities that are really hurting for jobs.

The State Land Board meeting April 9 considered for about 10 minutes, the Elliott State Research Oversight Structure framing the operation for management by the Department of State Lands. The actual plan for management is still in the working stage.

Dr. Zybach testified that the operations of HCP that continues is a catastrophe pointing to the drawbacks of having the state manage the forest.

Two legislators testified that the board should take time to review alternative plans before making a decision.

A D V E R T I S E M E N T

A D V E R T I S E M E N T

Representative Court Boice (R-South Coast, home of the Elliott Forest) testified regarding the devastation to his district from fires and damage to the recovery of fish populations. He presented five requests written in detail:
  1. Clear under brush and ladder fuels.
  2. Sell 50 million feet of 50-60-year-old plantations immediately.
  3. Document rhetorical 550 miles of roads and trails.
  4. Take additional time to design and develop a productive partnerships.
  5. Take a reasonable portion of the 90,000 acres and make a state park that is funded by the harvest.
In the end, it was obvious the board had already decided to approve the framing structure, which puts DSL as manager. There were 23 written responses including 6 legislators, Oregon Advocates for School Trust Lands, Oregon Grange, Oregon Natural Resource Industries, Oregon Websites & Watersheds Project, Inc., and 13 individuals. All opposed having DSL continue with the framework they presented.

Governor Kotek closed the 3-0 vote by stating she isn’t a scientist and trust that the process will select an advisory committee with experts. Where is the science behind this vote?


--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-04-11 09:27:29Last Update: 2024-04-11 11:37:10



Governor Kotek Issues Notice of Potential Vetoes
Rural water treatment targeted

Oregon's Governor issued notice to cut budget items in Senate Bill 1530 and Senate Bill 5701 pursuant to Article V, section 15b, of the Oregon Constitution. Governor Tina Kotek has the option to provide notice to the Legislature that she is considering line-item vetoes for budget allocations from the 2024 legislative session.

The potential vetoes primarily relate to a series of one-time funding allocations in Section 9 of Senate Bill 1530, pending the receipt of additional information regarding new housing production resulting from the direct appropriations and related infrastructure projects.

“The legislative intent of this funding is to support shovel-ready projects that are essential for new housing production,” Governor Kotek said. “After the legislative session, my office began a review of each of the projects to confirm project scope, cost, timeline, feasibility, and the nexus to housing production and affordability.

“Before making final decisions, I am giving cities and districts the opportunity to provide more information to my office to confirm whether these funding allocations will result in the production of new housing within an acceptable timeline. This is part of my ongoing commitment to transparency, accountability, and outcomes with public funds, including direct appropriations.”

The Governor’s Office has identified seven projects where more information is needed to confirm a direct nexus to specific housing development sites or projects, in order for the projects to be supported moving forward.

The following funding allocations, totaling $14 million, are being considered for potential line-item vetoes. The Governor couldn't be more obvious on how she views rural Oregonians basic needs and preparedness. The homelessness that has previously congregated in metro areas has been spreading out into smaller communities that are not equipped to handle them. How can these areas be shovel-ready without adequate water treatment infrastructure? Besides homeless making an unsightly mess, the major stress on infrastructure is the use of water treatment. Governor Kotek proposes to cripple the ability these rural areas to comply with her "emergency" in SB 1530. The bill appropriates moneys to and modifies expenditure limitations for the Housing and Community Services Department, Oregon Health Authority ($33.5 million), Department of Human Services ($2 million), State Department of Energy ($4 million), Oregon Business Development Department ($575,500), Department of Transportation ($4 million), Water Resources Department ($3 million), and Oregon Department of Administrative Services for various programs. If Kotek wants to cut funding for some unknown reason, she has plenty of agencies that are less related to being shovel-ready to pick from, so why rural water? Will she stop busing illegal migrants into rural areas that impacts the infrastructure?

A D V E R T I S E M E N T

A D V E R T I S E M E N T

Additionally, Governor Kotek provided notice of a potential line-item veto of Section 499 of Senate Bill 5701. The section of the bill allocated $2 million to the Old Town Community Association to support the Made in Old Town development project.

“I appreciate the intent of this project to help revitalize the Old Town neighborhood in Downtown Portland,” Governor Kotek said. “My office is awaiting more information from the development group about the viability of financing for the entire project before I make my decision.”

Governor Kotek will announce her final decision on these vetoes by April 17. Share your opinion with the Governor.


--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-04-08 15:35:26Last Update: 2024-04-08 17:21:13



Battery Energy Storage Bill Becomes Law
“What will be done with massive batteries after their lifespan?”

As legislators and government regulators create more requirements for electric transportation, examples of enthusiasm outpacing reality are beginning to pile up and manifest in situations that pit one environmentalist value against another. One such example is the Thacker Pass lithium mine on the Nevada-Oregon border which is expected to provide much needed lithium for batteries to please one faction of environmentalists, yet is alleged by another faction of environmentalists to be disruptive to the environment.

The latest in questionable energy policy is HB 4015 which permits a developer of a facility or the governing body of a local government after consulting with the developer to elect to defer regulatory authority to the Energy Facility Siting Council for the siting of a battery energy storage system. According to analysts, this would make it easier to site battery energy storage systems. It was passed by the legislature last session and recently signed into law by Governor Kotek. HB 4015 has no sponsor, but identifies at the request of Representative Pam Marsh (D-Ashland).

Unlike dams, the efficiency of windmills and solar installations fluctuates greatly depending on the weather. They require massive storage batteries to compensate for times when the output cannot meet the need. According to experts, industrial batteries are highly toxic and vulnerable to leakage. The bill allows local communities to give up their authority for approving locations, allowing the Oregon Energy Siting Council to rubber stamp locations. Some opponents say that the Council has a questionable history of project approvals in recent years.

A D V E R T I S E M E N T

A D V E R T I S E M E N T

According to legislative watchdog Les Poole, "There are many assumptions and unanswered questions regarding the viability and safety of placing toxic batteries on our lands. The Siting Council has a history of approving large projects that have underperformed and/or created unacceptable environmental impacts. Approval of HB 4015 would invite both practical and legal battles." He cites 1000 Friends of Oregon vs Jackson County as an example.

Poole continued, "The promoters of this legislation and the Siting Council apparently believe the need for this legislation is justified because solar facilities will be approved on thousands of acres of farmland, much which is zoned EFU. It's a legally flawed concept that defies the spirit and purpose of the Oregon Land Use Plan." Poole cited another current legal battle taking place in Umatilla County at the Nolan Hills Transmission Project.

"What will be done with massive batteries after their lifespan?" Poole asks, rhetorically. "Where will they be stored, and what risks are there in transporting them? Will another situation occur where there's a lack of a permanent storage facility, reminiscent of the Umatilla Ordinance Depot and Yucca Mountain/Hanford nuclear waste depositories?


--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2024-04-07 19:40:35Last Update: 2024-04-07 21:34:08



Can School Choice Initiatives Restore Accountability?
Education Freedom, a series on “Why School Choice”

Editors note: This is the last in a five-part series on School Choice Initiatives aimed for the November 2024 election ballot.

No child should be denied access to the learning environment that works for them, says Donna Kreitzberg, sponsor of the School Choice Initiates IP 5 and IP 6. Oregon schools are lagging behind in recovery from the pandemic lockdown creating learning deficits.

The Education Recovery Scorecard, 2024 study, shows Oregon’s elementary and middle school students remain an average of about two-thirds of a year behind in reading compared to pre-pandemic levels and three-fourths of a year behind in math. That’s roughly two to three times the deficit faced by students nationwide despite a $1.6 billion infusion of federal pandemic aid. The report shows Oregon schools have yet to spend $544 million. Why are districts faced with making cuts as students get further behind while teachers walk picket lines?

Stand for Children Oregon reviewed how schools spent the federal pandemic funds and found the 10 largest school districts directed relatively little of the federal money towards the strategies that research found most helpful to catch students up. They include frequent small-group tutoring, academically rigorous summer school, or extending the school year. Oregon had one requirement that 20% had to go towards academic recovery, and that was essentially meaningless to produce results. Most of the money was spent on preserving teacher’s jobs, which needs explanation since schools were fully funded. Preparing for the end of federal funds, districts were allotted a $900 million increase, but many districts are still faced with cuts in their workforce.

Oregon’s argument for having one of the longest school closures isn’t valid when other similar states are bouncing back and most are back to 2019 levels. In an interview with Oregon Live, Charlene Williams, Department of Education Director, said Oregon needs to strengthen instruction systemwide. She sited Oregon’s long tradition of local school district control as a problem.

If local school district control is a problem, then where does that leave parents? Governor Brown’s task force stated, "Local school district leaders should be given wide latitude to choose what is best for their students and communities." Then they passed a bill making it virtually impossible to fire failing school superintendents.

The Heritage Foundation’s Education Freedom Report Card ranks Oregon 51 overall, tumbling 11 places. Heritage sets standards in the report card for achieving and maintaining education freedom in states. They measure more than two dozen factors in four categories: Oregon ranks 46 in Education Choice, 51 in Teacher Freedom, 25 in Transparency, and 39 in Return on Investment. They found Oregon has done little to provide transparency and choice for families. They criticized the state for still using Common Core and advised eliminating aligned assessments. They saw waste in the growth of non-teaching staff, particularly “chief diversity officers.” In public schools, Oregon employs 0.76 teachers for every non-teacher. Teacher salaries are above average, still teacher unions blame low results on underpaid teachers.

The lack of accountability has parents pulling their students out of public schools. Eighty percent of $1.6 billion was spent on non-academic priorities. The Department of Education thinks it will cost $1 billion more per year to bring students up to state academic benchmarks and raise graduation rates to 95 percent.

Heritage found Oregon is the 24th-most per pupil spending among states, spending $15,523 in 2023. OregonLive reported losing 43,000 students from public schools since 2019, yet Oregon school districts operate in the red, so the legislature added a historic $900 million in additional funding for the 2023-2025 biennium budget. Oregon-EdChoice estimates Oregon spends closer to $17,000 per public school student per year.

The per student spending will naturally rise without increasing the budget as public school registrations declines. With private school choice, there could be more funding available for each public school student without increasing taxes. When a public school student leaves the student takes all of their costs but only a portion of their funding. The public school then has none of the costs for the student but keeps a portion of the funding for the student. The funding the student leaves behind can be spent on all the students who remain at the public school.

The legislature calculates a “Formula Revenue for Distribution” as a portion of the amount spent on students in public schools. For the June 2021 State School Fund. the estimated amount was $9,535 per student. IP 6 is designed so that 80% of that yearly per-student amount will follow a student to private school or homeschool. IP 6 also sets a floor of $9,500 so that the minimum amount that will follow a student will be $7,600 (80% of $9,500). A minimum of $1,900 (20% of $9,500) will remain in the home district. IP 6 could be a solution to problems such as funding shortages, understaffing, large class sizes, or staffing cuts in public schools.

Eric Fruits PhD, Vice President of Research with Cascade Policy calculated that there could be an increase to districts of $277 per public school student. In another Cascade report, “Education Savings Accounts Can Boost Per-Student Spending in Public Schools,” Fruits evaluates the effect of an Education Savings Account (ESA) program on local school district budgets. He examined funding for every Oregon school district and found that if 5% of public school students used an ESA program to transfer outside of the government-run system, per-student spending for the remaining students would increase by an average of 1.7%. Fruits concluded that, "Contrary to critics’ concerns, school choice programs such as ESAs do not “defund” public schools. Instead, school choice programs simultaneously reduce costs to public schools and increase per-student funding."

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A D V E R T I S E M E N T

Looking beyond the money, parents are also tired of a leftist agenda that puts them on edge every legislative session. In 2023, the legislature passed HB 2002, which allows girls of any age to obtain an abortion without her parents’ knowledge. The legislature was back in 2024 with SB 1583 attempting to block parents and citizen-elected school boards from having input to determine and exclude age-inappropriate books and materials used in the curriculum.

Heritage criticized Oregon lawmakers for not rejecting the prejudice caused by the application of critical race theory in schools, and not addressing the threats to minor-age children from the teaching of “gender” in place of biological sex. School Choice is a system where policies set by the legislature still gives parents the power to decide if such policies are in the best interests of their children. If parents decide such policies are not right for their children, they can choose a different learning environment without financial and regulatory roadblocks.

Whether a student is learning in a traditional public school, charter school, private school, or homeschool setting, they are all Oregon students. As Oregon students, they should have equal access to the taxes Oregonians pay for education and have a right to learn in the way that will allow them to thrive and succeed.

For more information, Education Freedom for Oregon website has information about the petitions, events on gathering signatures, and print and mail petitions.


--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-04-05 11:36:30Last Update: 2024-04-04 18:36:36



New Emails Reveal Hoyle Planned and Orchestrated Illegal Grant
U.S. Attorney’s office has confirmed that Hoyle is under investigation

Oregon Fourth Congressional District Candidate Monique DeSpain (R-Eugene) reacted to a story published by the national news outlet The Daily Beast stating that the U.S. Attorney’s office has confirmed Val Hoyle (D-Eugene) is now under federal investigation and, according to newly publicized emails, Hoyle: “Today, we learned that Val Hoyle directly planned and orchestrated the agenda and decision-making process of the Apprenticeship Council, to the point of coaching La Mota’s people via text message from her personal cell phone during the meetings in which the decision to issue the illegal grant was being considered -- while she chaired the meeting,” said Monique DeSpain. “The evidence is clear: Val Hoyle has disqualified herself from being a Member of Congress.”

In mid-February, Willamette Week reported that Federal Investigators have expanded their current investigation into La Mota and ex-Secretary of State Shemia Fagan to include Congresswoman Val Hoyle’s $500,000 grant to La Mota’s non-profit while leading BOLI. A subpoena was issued just five days after DeSpain’s January 24th press conference launching WhatsValHiding.com and her letter to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon Natalie K. Wight, calling on Ms. Wight to expand her investigation to include Hoyle and her activities. DeSpain has taken credit for drawing public and law enforcement attention to the glaring pattern of corruption exhibited by Hoyle’s words and actions by urging the U.S. Attorney to investigate Hoyle, saying:

“I sounded the alarm on this in my January 24th letter to the U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon, Natalie K. Wight. Just five days later, on January 29th, investigators issued a subpoena for BOLI to ‘provide all records’ related to Hoyle’s illegal grant,” stated DeSpain, adding, “Our campaign is about ending the reign of career politicians in Washington -- the same politicians, who like Val Hoyle, serve their own interests above those of the voters. That is why I am running for Congress, and this investigation proves that the stakes couldn’t be higher.”



--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2024-04-04 21:09:16Last Update: 2024-04-04 22:22:38



YamCo Commissioner Candidate Hit with Complaint
“Bubba” King Alleged to Have Concealed Donor Identity

Two election law violation complaints have been filed by a voter in Yamhill County regarding attempts to conceal a donation by Oregon Taproot PAC (formerly Save Yamhill County PAC) to "Bubba" King for Oregon PAC. King is currently running to unseat Commissioner Lindsay Berschauer who serves as the Chair of the Yamhill County Board of Commissioners.

The complaints allege that Oregon Taproot PAC and its director Lynnette Shaw, as well as Bubba for Oregon PAC, intentionally tried to conceal a political donation from Oregon Taproot PAC to Bubba King by unlawfully filing the transaction as a personal cash contribution from Lynnette Shaw. Shaw was able to make such a large personal contribution after filing for “reimbursement” from the PAC she controls. As it turns out, Shaw had no reimbursements due to her, and taking money out of a PAC for personal use (in this case campaign contributions) is against Oregon law. The complaint alleges that Bubba for Oregon PAC then recorded a personal “cash contribution” from Shaw instead of recording it as coming from Oregon Taproot PAC (formerly Save Yamhill County PAC).

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The complaints also allege that Shaw failed to report all of the money. The transaction in Oregon Taproot PAC shows that Shaw gave Bubba for Oregon a total of $3,468.00. However, in the Bubba for Oregon PAC, it only shows a cash contribution of $3,018.00. The complaint alleges that the missing $450 has not been reported or recorded anywhere in either PAC.

Oregon Statute 260.402, which covers campaign finance transactions, states that: “It is a criminal offense to make a contribution or donation or to directly or indirectly reimburse a person for making a contribution or donation relating to a candidate, measure, political committee, or petition committee in any name other than the person that provides the contribution (i.e., a contribution in a false name). Likewise, it is illegal to knowingly receive a contribution or donation in a false name or enter it into a committee’s account. Making a contribution or donation in a false name is a class C felony, punishable by up to five years imprisonment and/or a $125,000 fine.”

Save Yamhill County is a familiar name in Yamhill County’s political arena. In 2021, the group attempted to recall sitting Commissioner Chair Lindsay Berschauer and failed to qualify the necessary number of signatures needed, despite hiring a professional signature gathering firm to collect them. The group, many of whom are also members of Progressive Yamhill, tried again and gained the necessary number of signatures. The special election occurred on March 22, 2022, and Commissioner Berschauer defeated the recall attempt by earning more votes than she previously did in her original run for office in 2020.


--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2024-04-04 13:57:25Last Update: 2024-04-04 14:38:11



Oregon Gets ‘Historic’ Campaign Finance Reform
Is HB 4024 the kind of reform voters were hoping for?

On April 3, Democrats and Republicans gathered in glee to watch Governor Tina Kotek sign House Bill 4024, which establishes campaign contribution limits.

“Often, the word ‘historic’ can feel overused. But I know for a fact that there were many people – including myself at times – who thought getting campaign contribution limits through the legislature would never happen,” Governor Kotek said. “But, we are here today to acknowledge and celebrate the efforts that have led to House Bill 4024 in this year’s legislative session, bringing Oregon into the company of 45 other states that have campaign contribution limits.”

House Speaker Julie Fahey (D-Eugene) stated, “We set out to find a compromise because the alternative was an expensive and potentially confusing fight at the ballot--as well as years of legal challenges. Thankfully, everyone involved came to the table in good faith, and I'm grateful for their hard work. HB 4024 truly represents the Oregon Way of getting things done.”

The bill passed with very little bipartisan support from Republicans. "HB 4024 is a phony campaign reform conducted by corporate interests and unions as an end run against a ballot measure," said Senator Brian Boquist (R-Polk). "If the People want reform they must do it themselves."

This bipartisan effort was led by then-House Majority Leader Julie Fahey and House Republican Leader Jeff Helfrich in partnership with a variety of stakeholders. House Republican Leader Jeff Helfrich (R-Hood River) stated, “Oregonians expect fairness and transparency in their elections. This bipartisan bill takes great strides to achieve more of both. Republicans remain committed to uncoupling power from insiders and returning it to the people of our great state."

Forty submitted testimony in support from mostly unions, and 190 opposed from such organizations as Voters of Oregon, Consolidated Oregon Indivisible Network, Common Cause Oregon, Philanthropy Roundtable, Alliance for Democracy, League of Women Voters of Oregon, and even the Pacific Green Party acknowledged large loopholes leading to dishonest elections calling it smoke and mirrors.

David Wall, known as Mr. Oregon in writing testimonies wrote, “HB 4024 is an unregulated quagmire, a warren of legal complexities forcing astute candidates for office to hire an Attorney(s). This alone stamps out democracy."

Wall points out that "In-Kind Donations" in the bill can be easily corrupted and a good way to "launder money". For example, a contributor to a campaign could say their "In Kind Donation" to their candidate of choice was worth $2000.00 when in fact the "In-Kind Contribution" has a value of, $10.00. Who at the Secretary of State will be the wiser?

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Senator Brian Boquist (R-Polk) warned in testimony of the unions backroom secret meetings and said those dealings need to be made public. He wrote in testimony, “Corporate Union Feudalism has been gradually taking over the entire country over the past two decades, It is obvious most elected legislators, both state and federal, think you or we are part of the future ruling class. Be warned, as history records, we legislators will be peasants and serfs not rulers of anything very shortly. All of us regardless of caucuses or parties or even independents.

“The effort in this bill to make citizen campaign participation meaningless while empowering the corporations with their union backers is a clear effort to keep the police state oligarchs in power. The Oregon Supreme Court made it clear in Elkhorn (2020) we are a police state. The court's exact words. We legislators would be making a serious mistake to assume millennials and younger will simply sit by while we continue their indenturement. We have become used to the sheep classes of older people which is a mistake. The silence in the Capitol halls as citizens abandon participation, the lack of emails, the lack of telephone calls, is not acceptance at all. It is the beginning of a Millennial Revolution.”

What the supporting Republican legislators failed to recognize is why Democrats allowed this bill to pass. HB 4024 takes away the method Republicans had to raise funds and kept how Democrats raise funds, and leaves unions unchecked with unlimited campaign funding. The way around this law is how Democrats have been operating for years establishing thousands of political action committees to raise funds. Now Republicans have to start from a disadvantage to set up a system of thousands of political action committees in order to be competitive with Democrats. Is HB 4024 the kind of reform voters were hoping for?

State agencies overseeing elections and campaign finance in Oregon will now work to implement the law so that it can go into effect smoothly in 2027.


--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-04-04 13:24:52Last Update: 2024-04-04 00:36:21



Recriminalizing Hard Drugs Provides Focus on Treatment
HB 4002 has been signed by Governor Kotek

Oregon Governor Kotek signed into law HB 4002, a bill reversing much of Oregon’s drug decriminalization experiment in response to a deadly addiction crisis plaguing major cities, suburban neighborhoods, and rural communities across the state. The bipartisan proposal cleared the Oregon Senate with overwhelming support exactly one month ago.

A key priority for the Senate Republican Caucus last session was to address drug addiction, homelessness, and crime. Recriminalizing possession of small amounts of hard drugs was at the top of the list. It is widely supported by Oregon voters.

Senate Republican Leader Tim Knopp (R-Bend) responded to the Governor's signing: “Now that the Governor has given the recriminalization bill her stamp of approval, we can finally end the chapter on Oregon’s experiment with decriminalizing hard drugs. HB 4002 is not a perfect solution; legislators will undoubtedly have much more work to do in upcoming sessions. But it sets a standard for how the state should approach the drug addiction crisis: by empowering law enforcement and our behavioral health systems to work together to help Oregonians struggling with chronic addiction seek life-saving treatment.”

House Republican Leader Jeff Helfrich (R-Hood River) offered the following statement: "Republicans stood united and forced Democrats to do what Oregonians demanded: recriminalize drugs. Make no mistake, this bill is not enough to undo the disaster of Measure 110. House Republicans are ready to continue the work we started and bring real change to Salem in the next session."

Representative Kevin Mannix (R-Keizer/North Salem) serves on the Joint Committee on Addiction and Community Safety. He comments, "I am delighted that the Governor has now signed House Bill 4002. This was a major bipartisan effort to get Oregon back on track in dealing with hard drugs and their terrible impact on our communities. We have now made it clear that possession of such drugs is a crime, but we have coupled this with comprehensive treatment approaches to help people end their addictions. We will all need to work together to build up our treatment programs and to support law enforcement as they deal with the new unclassified misdemeanor of possession of hard drugs. We have much more to do. I will be presenting proposals to our Joint Committee on Addiction and Community Safety. These include identification and expansion of treatment facilities, recruitment of treatment providers, and support for law enforcement activities."

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Kelsi Manley, MD, FACP; and Jenny Silberger, MD, FACP; testified on behalf of the Oregon Chapter of the American College of Physicians. "We commend the legislature's efforts to recognize SUD as a public health issue and improve access to treatment. Substance use disorders are chronic medical conditions, akin to other chronic illnesses, and acknowledging them as such is vital for crafting effective, evidence-based solutions. As healthcare workers, we witness the suffering that addiction causes, but we also witness how treatment can result in remission, improved quality of life, and recovery for our patients and communities."

Concerns are in recriminalizing drugs that may inflict more government harm and violence on Black and brown communities. HB 4002 calls for the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission to conduct a study to determine best practices for deflection programs and make recommendations for funding, for standards and best practices for the state. "Deflection program" is defined to mean a collaborative program between law enforcement agencies and behavioral health entities that assists individuals who may have substance use disorder, another behavioral health disorder or co-occurring disorders, to create community-based pathways to treatment, recovery support services, housing, case management or other services.

Testimony focused on getting to the source and not exasperate the mistakes of liberal policies. "Drug dealing of any amount of hard drugs needs to be at the very least a class B felony. We need to go back to a zero tolerance approach with no more of these social experiments in the name of humanity and reductions of incarcerated populations. End this travesty now. No more studying bad choices of the Oregon government. The time for action is now."


--Staff Reports

Post Date: 2024-04-03 11:17:29Last Update: 2024-04-04 13:57:25



Oregon Properties Forfeited in Connection to Interstate Marijuana Trafficking Organization
14 properties ceased valued at $5.7 million

The same day Oregon Governor Kotek signed into law HB 4002, recriminalizing much of Oregon’s drug laws, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon announced that it has forfeited on behalf of the United States 14 real properties located in Oregon—together worth more than $5.7 million—that were used by an interstate drug trafficking organization to illegally grow marijuana for redistribution and sale in other states. The owner of a 15th property agreed to pay the government $400,000 in lieu of having their property forfeited.

The properties, located in Clatsop, Columbia, Linn, Marion, Polk, and Yamhill counties, were used until September 2021 as illegal marijuana grow houses by an interstate drug trafficking organization led by Fayao “Paul” Rong, 53, of Houston, Texas. On July 19, 2023, after previously pleading guilty to conspiracy to manufacture marijuana, Rong was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison and five years’ supervised release.

In early September 2021, a coordinated law enforcement operation led by DEA and OSP targeted Rong’s organization. Federal, state, and local law enforcement partners executed search warrants on 25 Oregon residences and Rong’s home in Houston. During the precipitating investigation and ensuing search warrants, investigators seized nearly 33,000 marijuana plants, 1,800 pounds of packaged marijuana, 23 firearms, nine vehicles, $20,000 in money orders, and more than $591,000 in cash.

According to court documents, Rong purchased numerous residential houses in Oregon using several different identities and, with others in his organization, used them to grow and process marijuana and prepare it for transport to states where its use remains illegal. In a 12-month period beginning August 2020, Rong’s organization trafficked more than $13.2 million dollars in black market marijuana.

The Rong organization takedown followed a 14-month investigation initiated by OSP after the agency learned of excessive electricity use at the various properties, which, in several instances, resulted in transformer explosions. Multiple citizen complaints corroborated law enforcement’s belief that Rong was leading a large black market marijuana operation. With the assistance of the Columbia and Polk County Sheriff’s Offices, OSP found associated marijuana grows in Clatsop, Columbia, Linn, Marion, Multnomah, and Polk Counties. On February 18, 2022, Rong was arrested by DEA agents in Houston.

“This prosecution and yearslong effort to forfeit properties used by the Rong organization to grow and process thousands of pounds of marijuana demonstrate the long reach of our commitment to holding drug traffickers accountable and mitigating the damage these criminal organizations inflict on neighborhoods and communities,” said Natalie Wight, U.S. Attorney for the District of Oregon.

This case was investigated by DEA, OSP, and the U.S. Marshals Service with assistance from the FBI; Homeland Security Investigations; Oregon Department of Justice; Portland Police Bureau; the Yamhill, Clatsop, Marion, Multnomah, Columbia, and Polk County Sheriff’s Offices; Central Oregon Drug Enforcement Team; and Linn Interagency Narcotics Enforcement Team. This prosecution is the result of an Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation. It was prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Oregon. Forfeiture proceedings were handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s Asset Recovery and Money Laundering Division.

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“The Oregon State Police is committed to disrupting and dismantling drug trafficking organizations operating within our state. Our priorities include safeguarding Oregon’s natural resources and mitigating the impact illicit marijuana has on them,” said Tyler Bechtel, Oregon State Police (OSP) Lieutenant. “This case is a great example of the results that can be achieved when all levels of law enforcement work together toward our common goals.”

The proceeds of forfeited assets are deposited in the Justice Department’s Assets Forfeiture Fund (AFF) and used to restore funds to crime victims and for a variety of other law enforcement purposes. To learn more about the AFF, please visit here.


--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-04-02 12:23:32Last Update: 2024-04-02 01:18:12



School Choice Leads to Higher Graduation Rates
Education Freedom, a series on “Why School Choice”

Editors note: This is the fourth in a five-part series on School Choice Initiatives aimed for the November 2024 election ballot.

Oregon’s 2024 Legislature passed nine education bills and dropped the most controversial bill of the session that would have taken decisions on curriculum materials away from school districts and parents.

Representative Ed Diehl (R-Santiam) sponsored a school choice bill, HB 4161, which mirrors IP 29 and IP 30. HB 4161 was the first school choice bill to receive a curtesy hearing, but leadership never intended for it to move forward. He is also tabling IP 29 and IP 30 for more work. It should give parents new inspiration to help pass the school choice initiatives, IP 5 and IP 6.

If school choice initiatives, IP5 and IP6, were to pass, parents will have options against the legislature passing undesirable bills that affect the public school system. Legislation is a one-size-fits-all solution, and school choice allows a parent to at the minimum select the "one-size" option that fits their student's needs.

The 2024 legislature’s idea of boosting the education and graduation rate seems to be a strategy with little valuable action. Three bills that passed involving students are: Oregon has struggled with education. As early as 2013, Oregon's graduation rate was the lowest of any state in the nation at 68.7 percent, meaning a poor education system can't be blamed on the pandemic. By 2019 it started to rise ranking the fourth lowest, but slow growth was blamed on low graduation rates and poor funding. However, since the pandemic, it has plateaued at 81.3% in 2022 and 2023. The state makes the case that minorities and low-income have a harder time and depress the graduation rates, so they have overwhelmed schools with equality policies.

The Oregon Department of Education said they don’t have stats on private schools because they don’t have authority to require them to register, but pointed to the National Center for Education Statistics. The data for private schools shows a graduation rate average of 96% with an increase in graduations the larger the school to 99.4% for schools 500-749. Beyond 750 the rate was 97%. Graduation rates also improved for nonsectarian schools with Catholic private schools graduating 99.1%.

Students participating in school choice programs are significantly more likely to graduate from high school. The Heritage Foundation reported that education researcher Greg Forster, PhD, conducted an analysis of all existing empirical evaluations of school choice programs to date. According to Forster, 11 out of 12 random assignment studies found that choice improved the academic outcomes of participants; not a single evaluation found that school choice had a negative impact on academic outcomes.

Students participating in the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program, which helps low-income students attend private schools of their choice, experienced a 21 percent increase in graduation rates.

Forster also examined the evidence on the impact of school choice on students who remained in nearby public schools. Of the 23 studies conducted, 22 observed that school choice improves outcomes at public schools as well. A study in Florida also showed that school choice improved test scores of students in public schools that risked losing students. “In other words, it occurs from the threat of competition alone.”

It was also established in Florida that significant increases were found in the test scores of students with disabilities who remained in the public system as more private schools entered their voucher program, suggesting “that schools were serving those students better when they faced more competition.… Vouchers do not drain public schools of their ability to serve disabled students; instead, schools are pushed to serve those students better.” Oregon’s IP6 replaces a voucher program so the funding follows every student.

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School choice creates greater opportunities for all children to have access to education that instills democratic values. One concrete example comes from New York, where low-income and minority students were more likely to register to vote and turn out in elections.

A study in Milwaukee showed an increase in students graduating subsequently increased enrollment in college by four to seven percent.

Donna Kreitzberg, sponsor of IP5 and IP6, says, “IP5 and IP6 are not intended to replace public schools, but it is the hope of petitioners that public schools will respond favorably and upgrade education practices for students in their care. School choice gives students the opportunity to pick their own public school, charter school, private school, online learning option, private tutoring, or homeschooling option, and make the state responsible for equity in funding."

For more information, Education Freedom for Oregon website has information about the petitions, events on gathering signatures, and print and mail petitions.


--Donna Bleiler

Post Date: 2024-04-01 19:41:08Last Update: 2024-04-01 16:35:41



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