INITIATIVES & ELECTIONS
Three Former Oregon Secretaries of State Call On Dennis Richardson To Investigate Signature Fraud Allegations
“Even though, the Secretary of State’s office has said they’ve completed verification of Initiative Petition 31, the Oregon Constitution allows until August 5th for the Secretary of State to review whether or not a measure should be certified for the ballot,” said the statement issued by the three former SOSs. “We strongly urge the Secretary to use all the rules and laws at his disposal to take the time to fully investigate the civil allegations against IP 31 before putting this measure in front of voters.”
Voters could see up to four initiatives on ballot
Of the 45 initiatives proposed for the Nov. 6 general election, only four remain in play.
Two of those are the subject of two separate signature-gathering fraud investigations by the Oregon Department of Justice.
Republicans see hope for keeping Bend House seat
The Bend Bulletin
Preston Mann, a spokesman for Promote Oregon Leadership PAC, the campaign arm of the House Republicans, said a perception that Bend is a very blue city is overblown. Since 2012, Bend’s been represented in the state Legislature by moderate Republicans Buehler and Jason Conger, Mann said, and it makes sense for Bend voters to elect a “fiscally responsible, socially inclusive” Republican like Helt, who frequently cites her support for LGBTQ rights, abortion rights and gun reform. “I think we’re as committed to HD 54 as we’ve ever been,” Mann said.
Proud Boys ‘a threat’ to democracy, Portland group says
“Democratic institutions really need to understand the serious threat posed by the Proud Boys,” Western States staffer Lindsay Schubiner told the Tribune. “We really see them as a dangerous group that provokes violence tied to their racist views.” Western States has been advocating for Mykel Mosley, a 17-year-old African American teenager they say was wrongfully arrested after he was allegedly assaulted by several prominent Proud Boys on May 11 near the Vancouver Mall. The incident, captured on cellphone video, started after Mosley apparently shouted an obscenity to several Proud Boys driving by in a truck displaying a Donald Trump flag. The Proud Boys — identified by Western States as Tusitala “Tiny” Toese, Russell Schultz and Donovon Flippo — seem to have leaped from the truck and chased Mosley down. “We are not your average victimized Trump supporters we fight back and we know how to throw our hand,” Toese wrote on social media after the incident.
Patriot Prayer Is Recruiting Out-Of-Town Far-Right Activists—and Alex Jones—to Protest In Portland On August 4
The far-right protest group Patriot Prayer has embraced a recruitment strategy to bring out-of-town belligerents to Portland for another so-called campaign event planned for Aug. 4. On the Facebook event advertising a “Gibson for Senate Freedom March,” people from as far as Arizona, Nevada, Southern California and even the East Coast have voiced a desire to attend the event. Alex Jones, the radio host who runs the conspiracy website Infowars, told Gibson he “might even come” to the Aug. 4 event during an interview on his radio program.
A Bill in Congress That Carries a 15-Year Prison Sentence For Masked Antifa Protesters? It Probably Won’t Get A Vote, Let Alone Pass
The month-old bill, which would impose a 15-year prison sentence on any masked protester who “injures, oppresses, threatens, or intimidates any person,” got some media attention this week after alt-right social-media personality Mike Cernovich tweeted encouraging his followers to call their representatives about the legislation. That sparked lots of outrage and viral posts. But the bill itself appears to be going nowhere.
BUSINESS & LABOR
Survey of economists: US sales and employment likely to grow
Most U.S. business economists expect corporate sales to grow over the next three months and hiring and pay to rise with them. “Labor market conditions are tight, with skilled labor shortages driving firms to raise pay, increase training, and consider additional automation,” Sara Rutledge, chair of the NABE’s Business Conditions Survey, said in a statement.
A signature Oregon industry avoids Trump tariffs, but it’s still bracing for a hit
Portland Business Journal
The list of tariffs was released Tuesday. “There’s no footwear on the list,” said Matt Priest, CEO of the Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America. “We’re OK with that. But I think we’re heading down a road that’s going to impact American disposable income. Anytime you take disposable income away from people it’s a challenge.” The footwear industry is a cornerstone of Oregon’s economy, thanks to the corporate homes of Nike Inc., Columbia Sportswear Co., Adidas’ North American headquarters, and various venders, suppliers and small businesses.
Priest said his organization continues sifting through the list.
TOLLS & TRANSPORTATION
4 Tweaks To Sell Southwest Washington Commuters On Portland Tolls
Oregon Public Broadcasting
The proposal faces stiff opposition north of the Columbia River. In Clark County, roughly half of the population commutes to Oregon for work. Notably, U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Butler has vowed to oppose any proposal that unfairly targets Vancouver commuters. In Oregon, reception has been more mixed. The Portland City Council has embraced congestion pricing and urged the state Transportation Commission to consider tolling on all of I-205 and I-5 throughout the metro area.
ODOT Robot: Robo flagger slows traffic at work site
Herald and News
Rather than a human holding a sign allowing traffic into the lane, a gate arm prevents entry until an employee pushes a button to lift the gate when safe. The device itself has been around for about 10 years, but it only started being used in the region about a year ago. “When you run through this work zone, you’re endangering people’s lives. We could have traffic coming at you, so there can be severe accidents people and equipment getting damaged,” he said. “We just don’t want that. We’re trying to make it as safe as we can for us and the traveling public.”
The crew tried to time the gates for a maximum of a 20-minute wait, but one of the operators, Jon Martin, explained that the wait time was closer to eight minutes between switches. He also revealed that, there is about five seconds between the time he pushed the button and the time it took the gate arm to raise.
Mayor pushes for ‘bigger vision’ around need for new schools
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler — who admits his position plays a “bit role” in education policy arena — says he sees one solution as charging developers fees for building new schools. “We need a bigger vision around education infrastructure,” he said. A new school system development charge (SDC) would be a significant shift in both statewide policy and the level of cooperation between city government and local school districts. “If I were a candidate for governor — which I’m not — I would really hone in on that as an opportunity that I think would both be popular and interesting,” Wheeler said. “Understanding, I do not control education. I do not control educational resources. But it’s just noteworthy to me that we don’t connect development to changing needs around school infrastructure.”
As Portland Gentrifies, Vancouver School District Deals With Higher Poverty
Over the past decade, the percentage of students in Portland Public Schools receiving free or reduced price lunch has ticked down, from 43.3 percent in 2001-2 to 37.1 percent in 2017-18. That’s a significant drop—14 percent. In Vancouver, Wash, the Seattle Times reports today, free and reduced lunch eligibility, a common measure of poverty, went the other way—rising from 38 percent to 2002 to 48 percent last year. That 10 percentage point increase equals a 26 percent increase.
AP Analysis: Billionaires fuel powerful state charter groups
The Associated Press
The Microsoft co-founder gave millions of dollars to see a charter school law approved despite multiple failed ballot referendums. And his private foundation not only helped create the Washington State Charter Schools Association, but has at times contributed what amounts to an entire year’s worth of revenues for the 5-year-old charter advocacy group. All told, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has given about $25 million to the charter group that is credited with keeping the charter schools open after the state struck down the law, and then lobbying legislators to revive the privately run, publicly funded schools.
Therapist helps patients heal by using role-playing games
The Bend Bulletin
When a kid’s lessons in empathy-building or mental flexibility come to him as a wizard guiding his team through an abandoned castle, for example, Stubbs finds that he can understand and absorb more effectively than he would in individual therapy or other group situations. One reason is that the game allows for kids to consider their decisions through the lenses of their characters instead of their own. “You can stay in the context of the game and address the problems via those characters,” Stubbs said.
Cuts to funds that help people find insurance shouldn’t affect Oregon
The Bend Bulletin
The Trump administration’s move to cut funding for people who help consumers buy individual health insurance plans should not affect Oregon, state officials said, as the state funds its own enrollment assistant program. The Oregon Health Insurance Marketplace provides grants to community groups and local insurance agents — often called navigators — to help people enroll in health coverage and access subsidies available under the Affordable Care Act. Additionally, community groups that receive funding to enroll people in the Oregon Health Plan are also cross-trained in marketplace enrollment assistance, and insurance agents can get training directly from HealthCare.gov.
AGRICULTURE & NATURAL RESOURCES
Finding a balance for the Basin’s water is key
Herald and News
The judge may rule straight from the bench and, if the injunction is granted, it means all irrigation water that comes from the lake will essentially be shut off to farmers. Or, he may ask for additional filings and things will remain pretty much as is, until he rules. Either way, it’s a difficult time for the Basin. For the tribes, who believe they have no other option but to file for the fish protection, the issue is pitting neighbor against neighbor. For the irrigators, a shutoff mid-summer, after the crops are in, would be a financial disaster. And, it is likely that shutoff could carry into next year. We hope the judge can strike a balance to satisfy both sides, but it’s a longshot.
Central Oregon reservoirs a cause for concern
The Bend Bulletin
Barely 18 months after Central Oregon’s first above-average snowpack in years, its large reservoirs are once again running drier than normal as the heart of irrigation season approaches. With stream flows largely below-average across the region and more hot, dry weather in the forecast, there could be problems on the horizon for some of Central Oregon’s irrigation districts and the farmers they serve. “Unfortunately, we rely on Mother Nature, and she doesn’t always tell us what she’s gonna do,” said Mike Britton, general manager for North Unit Irrigation District.
Cannabis Harvest Restrictions Aim To Starve Oregon’s Black Market
Oregon Public Broadcasting
The harvest doesn’t arrive until September, but a large over-supply of cannabis last year seriously depressed prices. And state regulators worry all that excess cannabis is flowing into the black market. If that market grows too big, it could prompt a federal government crackdown.
So the OLCC has drafted new rules to better monitor the harvest. The rules would require outdoor growers give the state advance notice before harvesting and several possible harvest dates. The goal is to keep growers focused only on the amount of cannabis that can be sold on the legal, regulated market; a rogue grower, the thinking goes, will be less likely to divert crops to the black market if they know regulators could turn-up at any time. But the idea of more monitoring is getting significant pushback from growers.
Fire danger level raised to high for all of rural Lane County
Hot weather adds to the challenges of fighting fires, said Link Smith, Western Lane District forester for the Department of Forestry in Veneta. “Fighting fires in extreme heat is especially taxing on those who are trained to protect our land from fire,” he said. “We are asking that the public remain mindful of this as they conduct activities during the coming days.” Firefighters already have responded to nearly 400 Oregon wildfires this year, according to the Department of Forestry.
70 wildfires ignited by lightning in Southern Oregon, evacuations ordered
A lightning storm ignited between 50 and 70 wildfires in southwest Oregon on Sunday.
Two of the largest fires brought major concern, including the evacuation of around 30 homes near Jacksonville, officials said. “With triple digit temperatures in the forecast, we’re expecting new fires all week,” said Melissa Cano, public information officer for the Oregon Department of Forestry. “We’re also going to stay busy on the large fires that are already going.”
Correctional officers walk fine line as custodians, protectors and rehabilitators
Barnhart is the all-seeing eye, the maestro, the detective of the unit. He must keep his flock of 80 inmates safe from each other. Ideally, he will help inspire them to find their better selves. “My job sometimes feels like part psychologist, part circus ringleader, part football coach making sure your players don’t beat each other up,” he said. He walks the unit periodically, doing “tier checks.” He tunes out normal noises such as the sound of flushing toilets. He’s known most of the inmates here for several years. He knows about their families, who their friends are and what they are going through. “We’ve seen a shift in culture and direction and leadership of the department,” he said. “The focus is on rehabilitation. The focus has differed based on the leadership we’ve had. Right now we’re in a really good place.”
Fighting opioids in Southern Oregon
Mail Tribune Editorial Board
It’s tempting to see addiction as a personal failure on the part of the addicted individual — the result of “making bad choices.” That makes it easier to dismiss addiction as the result of weakness of will or character. But that ignores the reality that opioid addiction affects people from all walks of life. Many become addicted after suffering serious injuries in an automobile accident or contracting a life-threatening disease. They become dependent on the pain-killers prescribed to help them recover, and when they can no longer obtain prescriptions to feed their addiction, they turn to black-market pills or heroin.
Fines under Oregon’s self-serve law are rare
In Umatilla County — population 76,985 — it is still illegal to pump your own gas any time of day. But the county is an island in a sea of counties where pumping your own gas is allowed, including the four counties it touches in Oregon and everything north of the Washington border. Observation at local gas stations suggests some drivers and stations are taking a more lax attitude toward the law as a result.
Rising Seas Could Cause Problems For Internet Infrastructure
Oregon Public Broadcasting
“It is actually the wires and the hardware that make the Internet run,” explains Ramakrishnan Durairajan, a computer scientist at the University of Oregon and an author of the research. The analysis estimates that under the most severe model for sea level rise, more than 4,000 miles of fiber-optic cable along U.S. coastlines will be underwater by the early 2030s.
Other editors say: Playing chess with voter initiatives
Herald and News
Three of Oregon’s most influential political actors — Gov. Kate Brown, Nike Corp. and Our Oregon, which represents public employee unions — played political chess in advance of last week’s deadline for initiative petitions. Our Oregon was on its way toward placing an initiative on the ballot that would have required disclosure of tax and other information by publicly held companies, including Nike. In a deal brokered by Brown, Our Oregon agreed to shelve that proposal in exchange for Nike’s agreement to oppose two other measures — one that would require a legislative supermajority to reduce or eliminate state tax breaks, and a second that would prohibit sales taxes on groceries. Nike’s opposition comes with a $100,000 donation to a committee formed to fight the two initiatives. Political horse-trading is nothing new, but it’s rare to see such a clear example of the practice played out in public. Nike opposes forced disclosure of its finances. Our Oregon opposes limiting the Legislature’s options for scaling back tax breaks or raising business taxes. So they made a deal.
Guest column: Overreaction to unproven accusations about Nathan Boddie
The Bend Bulletin
I suppose it is not that surprising for Oregon Democrats to shoot themselves in the foot with just one state House seat away from a supermajority that would ensure the success of a progressive agenda. It appears these groups, much like the Democratic state leadership including Gov. Kate Brown, are more beholden to the irrationality of the #MeToo movement than to the desires of their supporters and voters. Certainly, there must be consequences for those who violate others sexually or otherwise. And certainly, there must be a concerted stance against such conduct to promote a societal shift in favor of shaming those who feel such behavior is acceptable.
I do not advocate for any exceptions. In this particular situation, however, the Democrats’ premature leap to summary judgment and execution of Dr. Boddie may well lead to the ultimately unjustified death of a formidable progressive campaign to replace Rep. (Knute) Buehler.
Editorial: Stop cheating Oregon on testing
The Bulletin Editorial Board
In 2015, Brown signed a bill that made it easier for parents to opt students out of Smarter Balanced tests. It is one of the most permissive laws in the nation. The state teachers union was delighted. It can check “cripple tools to hold teachers accountable” off its bucket list. Weakening statewide testing weakens the ability to track how well teachers teach. But teachers, parents and policymakers do need tools to evaluate the effectiveness of schools. The tools need to be available to make comparisons between schools and between states. There’s a “connection between high levels of student participation in assessment and system accountability — ensuring the success of every student.” And do you know who said that? That was our saboteur-in-chief Gov. Brown.
Editorial: Land-use process broken
The Bulletin Editorial Board
Land-use planning decisions should not be allowed to drag out for years or decades, even if one neighbor doesn’t like what another is doing, or an outside group decides to get involved. The Deschutes County Commission recognizes that fact and seems ready to approve the lake project, with conditions. Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee that will end the fight. No landowners should have to spend years to resolve these matters.
Really? None of the 1,500 kids in my school leans conservative?: Guest opinion
The ideological monotony within my school is painfully obvious. I’m now entering my fourth year in high school, but have yet to meet a single student willing to openly declare himself a Republican. Is it really possible that, out of the 1,500 kids in my school, not a single one even leans conservative? No, it’s not. Instead, a number of students have told me privately that peer pressure and their fear of incurring the wrath of today’s blasphemy-hunting political scolds has led them to keep silent.