The Bulletin Editorial Board
After the BOLI complaint was filed lawmakers hired an outside employment lawyer to represent them. Kotek and Courtney have said, loudly enough, that sexual harassment at the Capitol is not OK. Kotek even told reporters when the complaint was filed that if the investigation leads to a better atmosphere at the Capitol and better outcomes for victims, she’s open to it. Their recent actions belie those earlier words. BOLI wants information that would allow it to identify the women who complained about harassment, their lawyer argues, and those women were promised confidentiality. He has formally objected to the subpoenas. It’s time Courtney, Kotek and the others lived up to their promise to participate fully.
Personal and corporate income tax collections were higher than forecast as job growth remained strong in Oregon, state economists said on Wednesday. All industries are expected to grow this year and next, with construction, professional and business services and leisure-hospitality leading the way, state economists said Wednesday. Construction jobs grew by 9 percent in the 2018 fiscal year and were expected to grow another 4 percent in 2019.
GOVERNMENT & POLITICS
If you’re ever wondered why state agencies in Oregon seem to be caught with their pants down so often with fraud, waste and abuse, Secretary of State Dennis Richardson may have an answer for you: They aren’t bothering to look for it or limit the risk. Richardson’s office issued an audit Wednesday lambasting state agencies internal audit functions, saying they had been consistently understaffed, undervalued and neglected by leadership, so much so that agency directors are largely unaware of the activities of their auditors – if they even have one.
Portland Business Journal
Oregon Treasurer Tobias Read walks a fine line when he talks about what sustainable investing means to an office that helps manage a state investment portfolio approaching $100 billion. “Our obligation is to generate returns for retirees,” Read said in an interview this week. “So however strongly we feel about an issue, politics can’t be a driver in what we do.” And yet, he added: “We are not doing our job if we are not taking into account risks, including climate change.”
With the gubernatorial race heating up as the November election nears, it’s customary to see the gloves come off. But Priority Oregon is no traditional political action committee. The ads don’t urge viewers to vote for Brown’s GOP opponent, Knute Buehler. Rather, Priority Oregon is a nonprofit, a “social benefit organization” under section 501c(4) of the Internal Revenue Service tax code. Priority Oregon highlights issues it considers of public importance and urges viewers to contact Brown with their opinions. Priority Oregon says it won’t disclose its donors. So viewers have literally not a clue about the source of all the money for the wave of professionally produced ads. So long as Priority Oregon steers clear of endorsing a candidate or coordinating with a candidate’s campaign, it is legally free to operate as a nonprofit and speak as it wishes.
Gov. Kate Brown’s campaign has repeatedly hammered her general election opponent, state Rep. Knute Buehler (R-Bend), for his inconsistent position on abortion, noting that although Buehler says he’s pro-choice, he voted against House Bill 3391—groundbreaking 2017 legislation that required health insurers to provide all Oregon women access to abortions. One problem: Providence Health Plan, a Catholic-affiliated insurer, refused to provide abortion coverage and won an exemption from the law. Yet records show, despite Brown’s unwavering pro-choice stance, her campaign has continued to buy health insurance from Providence—the only insurer exempt from the Oregon’s abortion law. Since the law passed in July 2017, Brown’s campaign has spent $25,000 with the insurer, despite its anti-abortion stance.
The Oregon Department of Justice has closed a criminal investigation into two petitioners who were accused of giving false information to persuade voters to sign a petition to repeal the state sanctuary law. The complaint has been referred back to the Oregon Secretary of State’s Elections Division. “In sum, our investigation did not reveal sufficient evidence that either circulator violated (Oregon Revised Statute) 260.555, which prohibits, among other things, making a false statement regarding the contents, meaning or effect of a petition,” wrote DOJ chief criminal counsel Michael J. Slauson in an Aug. 29 letter to Oregon Elections Director Steve Trout. Initiative Petition 22 has since qualified for the ballot as Measure 104, Stop Oregon Sanctuaries.
Juan is one of a growing number of people whose official birth records show they were born in the United States but who are now being denied passports – their citizenship suddenly thrown into question. The Trump administration is accusing hundreds, and possibly thousands, of Hispanics along the border of using fraudulent birth certificates since they were babies, and it is undertaking a widespread crackdown on their citizenship.
News Channel 21
“These resources are crucial to help make sure all Oregonians can participate in the 21st century economy regardless of where they live,” Walden said in a news release. “Too many Oregon families and people across rural America lack the broadband necessary to realize the full benefits of the digital age. Throughout Eastern Oregon, I hear from people who are among the 23 million Americans unable to access telemedicine, remote learning, next-generation emergency services, and video streaming because of insufficient Internet service,” the lawmaker said. “This funding will further our efforts to close this digital divide in Oregon, and I look forward to continuing to work alongside Chairman Pai and my colleagues in Congress to ensure all Americans are connected to high-speed broadband,” Walden added.
The Bend Bulletin
The student workers at the Sisters High School football stadium have honed their landscaping skills by carefully grooming the grounds for the Outlaws’ opening game Friday night. But for these special-education students, the school district paycheck is only half the reward. The real incentive here is learning what it takes to keep a job in the community, according to the Sisters School District’s Transition Program, which helps developmentally disabled students aged 18-21 learn work skills. They initially tackle minimum-wage jobs for the district, then eventually work for local companies.
The Associated Press
Federal prosecutors in Oregon on Wednesday announced charges against six people involving two “vast” interstate trafficking operations that delivered marijuana to Texas, Virginia and Florida. Proceeds from the black market sales returned to Oregon as cash stuffed in airplane luggage or through the U.S. mail, said U.S. Attorney for Oregon Billy J. Williams.
CLIMATE & ENVIRONMENT
Oregon Public Broadcasting
More hot and dry weather is expected to hang around the Pacific Northwest, exacerbating drought conditions that have gripped the region. As of Aug. 23, every corner of Oregon, Washington state and Idaho is experiencing some stage of drought, from “abnormally dry” to “extreme,” according to the latest U.S. Drought Monitor.
Cannon, Nye and Agate beaches were all under advisories Wednesday morning. Officials don’t know whether the advisory will be lifted before Labor Day weekend. “Water samples indicate higher-than-normal levels of fecal bacteria, which can cause diarrhea, stomach cramps, skin rashes, upper respiratory infections and other illnesses,” the agency said in a statement. “People should avoid direct contact with the water in this area until the advisory is lifted.”
Oregon Public Broadcasting
“When I do my briefings, I have to give them bilingual. I know who I can talk to in Spanish, and I know who I can talk to in English,” Miranda said. His career started around the time the government developed bilingual certifications for crew bosses like him, and training courses in Spanish for the rank-and-file firefighters he supervises. But two years ago, the National Wildfire Coordinating Group stopped offering course materials in Spanish. It said they were out-of-date, and there wasn’t enough demand to redo the translations. But leaders from private contractors that fight fires disagree. “We’re like, ‘What the hell. This is a safety issue,’” said Dillon Sanders, president of the Oregon Firefighting Contractors Association. He said the end of Spanish-language course offerings blindsided them.
Protesters briefly brought a school board meeting in the whitest major city in America to a standstill Tuesday with an emotional rendition of a song considered the black national anthem. The crowd of families who sang “Lift Every Voice and Sing” had come to advocate that Portland Public Schools not evict a charter school that caters to black students. But frustration over the treatment of KairosPDX school became a public reckoning over the district’s long history of failing black students. The gravity of the situation was evident in a statement school board chair Rita Moore read Tuesday evening that began, “We all decry the undeniable fact that this district has for many generations failed many students, including students of color and particularly black students.”
An accused rapist from Keizer was released from jail with no bail and no supervision after spending just five days behind bars. “He was ‘forced out’ of the jail due to the jail population. He was given a release agreement and a number of conditions to follow,” Griffith told a KATU reporter via email. “This ‘force out’ process is part of our capacity management plan. Once the jail population reaches 403 inmates and there are others that need to be lodged, the capacity management plan kicks in, which is what happened in this case. Offenders not meeting the qualifications for mandatory holds are all subject to being ‘forced out’ of the jail due to jail capacity.” Griffith said Myers was ordered not to contact the alleged victims, who may have been left in the dark. “(They) are not notified by the jail if/when he was released,” he said. “If the alleged victims have signed up for a VINE (Victim Notification About Offenders) account they will be able to see all that information and stay informed.”