GOVERNMENT & POLITICS
Oregon Using Facebook To Remind Inactive Voters To Update Registration
Oregon Public Broadcasting
In this era of manipulators using social media to interfere in elections, Oregon officials moved Tuesday to use Facebook to bolster participation by reminding as many as hundreds of thousands of inactive voters to update their registration. “Utilizing cutting-edge technologies to empower eligible voters isn’t just something we can do — it’s something we must do if we’re serious about outreach,” Oregon Secretary of State Dennis Richardson said in announcing what he called the first-of-its-kind program. The initiative comes as Facebook tries to recover from a privacy scandal in which a political consulting firm with ties to President Donald Trump improperly accessed the data of tens of millions of Facebook users.
Secretary of State requesting money for Medicaid audit team
The Secretary of State’s Office is requesting $779,797 in the next two-year budget for three auditors who will focus on Medicaid programs, state records show. The next two-year budget begins in mid-2019. The request comes after auditors initially raised questions in May 2017 about whether everyone enrolled in the Oregon Health Plan, the state’s Medicaid program, were eligible for the benefit. The proposed Medicaid unit at the Secretary of State’s Office would audit eligibility determinations and “appropriateness of payments made on behalf of Medicaid clients,” said Deb Royal, Secretary of State Dennis Richardson’s chief of staff, in an email. The team would include an audit manager, lead auditor and a staff auditor that would complete one to two audits per year, depending on their scope, according to the budget request. “Because the program is both high risk and costly, we believe it warrants a dedicated audit team,” Royal wrote.
CAMPAIGNS & INITIATIVES
These 34 donors gave Republican Knute Buehler the most money last summer
Portland Business Journal
Insiders from both parties say Buehler’s chances of capturing the seat are the best Republicans have had since Chris Dudley nearly beat John Kitzhaber in 2010. Polls on Buehler’s battle with incumbent Kate Brown are so far scarce, with the most recent Real Clear Politics-tracked count, from Hoffman Research, giving Brown a 10-point lead. With that in mind, and with the “money matters” axiom that permeates elections, we sought to learn who’s given Buehler and Brown the most money since June 1. Doing so at least for now gives an idea of who’s riding a hotter fundraising streak.
Knute Buehler gets $750,000 from national Republican group
The GOP candidate for governor, Knute Buehler, has received a major cash infusion — $750,000 — from the Republican Governors Association in recent months, the group confirmed Monday. “The Oregon governorship is a prime pick-up opportunity for Republicans this November,” communications director Jon Thompson wrote in an email Monday afternoon.
Merkley, Brown Rescind Their Endorsements of Embattled Bend House Candidate
“It’s important to me that Oregonians know who they’re voting for and that candidates are honest about their history,” Brown said in a statement. “Based on this new revelation, I am withdrawing my endorsement of Amanda La Bell.” Ray Zaccaro, a spokesman for Merkley also said today’s news ended Merkley’s interest in helping La Bell. “Sen. Merkley is withdrawing his support,” Zaccaro says. In a statement this afternoon, La Bell offered an explanation and an apology, saying she’d dropped out of college because of family and and financial pressures. “I felt a deep sense of guilt and shame at not being able to achieve the milestone of a college degree,” La Bell said. “It is this sense of shame that led me, many years ago, to write on my LinkedIn profile that I had received a Bachelors of Arts from Valdosta State University. This was then picked up and repeated on my online work profile. This was again repeated in my Voter’s Pamphlet Statement. Neither my campaign nor I knowingly made false claims in the Voter’s Pamphlet Statement. I realize that claiming to have earned a Bachelor’s degree is unacceptable and wrong, and I express my profound apologies to all affected by this.”
Republicans seek investigation into Bend candidate’s voter guide lie
The Bend Bulletin
The political arm of Oregon House Republicans has filed a formal complaint against La Bell, asking the Secretary of State to investigate the matter. Promote Oregon Leadership PAC Executive Director Preston Mann said the group was not seeking any specific remedy. “The complaint is simply meant to hold Ms. La Bell accountable for lying on her Voters Pamphlet statement,” Mann said. “This is a felony under Oregon law for a reason: voters expect candidates to represent themselves in a truthful manner. We trust the Secretary of State and the Attorney General to handle this case in an appropriate manner and in accordance with Oregon law.”
Food workers union gives $390,000 to Oregon Working Families Party
It was unclear from state campaign finance records how the party plans to use the money, which it has not reported spending. Political action committees have until early October to report that information. Although La Bell’s race is in a key swing district, there are several conservative initiatives on the ballot this fall which public employee unions have already pledged to fight. Neither the union nor a Working Families Party spokeswoman could be reached immediately for comment.
Who is Paying For the Attack Ads on Gov. Kate Brown?
The ads, which criticize Brown’s lack of oversight of child welfare, public pensions and mental health, are the work of GOP strategists Erica Hetfeld and Tiffany Grabenhorst, who on Feb. 16, 2017, incorporated a nonprofit called Priority Oregon. Priority Oregon took a page from Our Oregon, the labor-backed political action committee that for the past 13 years has operated as a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization. That designation allows nonprofits to engage in political activity without disclosing their donors. “We started Priority Oregon to give Oregonians the tools and information they need to demand changes from their elected officials to make Oregon a better place,” Hetfeld says. “The government employee unions and environmental groups have been doing this for years, and we were finally fed up with voters only getting one side of the story.
Who Is Not on the Oregon Ballot But Has the Most at Stake This November?
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler. He won’t be up for re-election until 2020, but the final two years of his first term will be shaped by what happens this fall. “White men have dominated the City Council for more than 100 years,” says Eudaly chief of staff Marshall Runkel. “It will be interesting to see how the first majority female council will operate. There’s some evidence that more female representation leads to more spending on social welfare, but it is impossible to predict how that dynamic will play out in Portland.”
Why is the GOP Nominee for Governor Supporting a Ballot Measure That Would Help Deport Undocumented Immigrants?
Political observers say Buehler’s decision was calculated to appeal to conservative voters across the state who in 2014 overwhelmingly struck down a law that allowed undocumented immigrants to obtain four-year Oregon driver’s cards. But the political atmosphere has changed in the past four years. Xenophobia has a face: the orange mug of President Donald J. Trump. The White House’s zero-tolerance and family separation policies on immigration have generated tremendous outrage. And while nearly half of Oregon’s sheriffs signed a letter in August supporting Measure 105, they enforce the law for less than 20 percent of the state’s population. Some of the state’s most prominent law-and-order figures—including Multnomah County Sheriff Mike Reese and Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel—are against the measure. Some people think Buehler has miscalculated.
Why Was it So Easy For Republicans to Crowd Oregon’s November Ballot With Measures?
Notice a theme among the measures on the statewide ballot? Four of the five address conservatives’ pet causes: abortion restrictions, immigration enforcement, and bans on raising taxes. That’s a reversal from the past few election cycles, which mostly featured proposals from progressives. And it suggests that beneath this fall’s much-anticipated “blue wave” is a red riptide. If conservative measures are experiencing a slight revival in popularity—like ’90s sitcoms!—one reason may be that Republicans feel they have to use the initiative process because they have no shot at getting their ideas through the overwhelmingly Democratic-controlled Legislature. The further Salem tilts left, says Republican state Rep. Julie Parrish (West Linn), the more likely conservatives are to appeal directly to voters. “I’m sure if you’re a Democrat in Texas, it’s equally as frustrating,” Parrish says. “The power pendulum should not ever be stuck in one position. Fifty percent of the state can’t be wrong all the time.”
Supporters of Measure 104 Say it’s About Fiscal Discipline, But What’s the Real Issue?
The primary supporters of Measure 104 are the Oregon Association of Realtors. The association’s specific goal is to protect the mortgage interest deduction, which allows homeowners to deduct interest they pay on home loans from their taxable income (a deduction allowed by every state in the union). There are a number of reasons 104 is on the ballot: Democrats are indeed looking at killing or reducing existing exemptions. A 2017 bill that would have ended the deductibility of second home mortgages died without a vote. But some Democrats have pledged to go after both first and second home mortgages. Second, the Oregon Supreme Court ruled in 2015 that lawmakers could indeed eliminate tax exemptions with a simple majority vote. That ruling was contrary to prior guidance from legislative counsel. Finally, Republicans fear new fees could emerge from climate policies, like cap and trade. Measure 104 would do more than protect the mortgage interest deduction, however. It would also limit lawmakers’ authority to raise fees or reduce tax breaks. Paul Rainey, a spokesman for the Yes on 104 campaign, says that’s a good idea. “We think Oregonians want to keep Kate Brown and others’ hands out of the cookie jar,” he says. “Right now, it’s too easy to raise revenue without a three-fifths vote.”
The Salem Statesman Journal Is Trying a New Way to Vet Lawmakers. Candidates Don’t Like It.
As the general election approaches, reporters across the state will rush to check the backgrounds of candidates. This year, the Salem Statesman Journal proposed a new approach: Executive editor Cherrill Crosby wrote to mid-Willamette Valley legislative candidates asking them to submit to a background check overseen by a Washington nonprofit called Verify More. Neither of the major parties responded with enthusiasm. “It’s just kind of unusual,” says Tom Powers, a spokesman for the Senate Democratic campaign committee. “It’s something you’d expect beat reporters in the newsroom to do.” Noting that many of the board members of Verify More have been active in Republican politics, House Democrats advised candidates not to participate. Preston Mann, a spokesman for House Republican candidates, says his colleagues were puzzled and wanted more time to consider the Statesman Journal’s request. “Candidates obviously expect to be scrutinized as part of the process, but this request is a bit unique,” Mann says. “Most of them are just concerned about who this third-party entity is and what they will be doing with their personal information.”
Why is Nike Co- Founder Phil Knight Backing Both Colin Kaepernick and Republican Nominee For Governor Knute Buehler?
To get answers, it’s important to understand two things about Nike. First, Knight transferred the bulk of his Nike stock to a company controlled by his son, Travis, in 2016. So in addition to having retired as chairman, he is no longer the company’s largest individual shareholder—he no longer calls the shots. Second, Nike—and Knight—grew wealthy through a keen understanding of the retail market and a disciplined, bottom-line focus. There’s no reason to believe that’s changed. Market analysts have pointed out that most of Nike’s customers are under 35—a demographic friendlier to Kaepernick than to Trump. Longtime Nike watcher Matt Powell of New York-based market research firm the NPD Group tells WW the Kaepernick campaign is simply smart business. “Consumers want brands to take visible stands on social issues,” Powell says.
Why Is an Anti-Abortion Measure on the Ballot in America’s Most Pro-Choice State?
Oregon is the only state in the country that has not passed any restrictions on abortion access since Roe v. Wade was decided in 1973. Not only does the state not restrict abortions, but it pays for them with public dollars. Measure 106 would bar spending state funds to provide abortions for low-income women; it would also cut off insurance coverage of abortions for women employed by state government. Cutting off that funding may be only a partial restriction—but it comes at a moment when abortion rights in this nation feel vulnerable. And given that 40 percent of the 8,506 abortions performed each year in Oregon are government-funded, or funded by the health insurance of state public employees, the measure would be a significant victory for the pro-life movement. Oregon Life United gathered the necessary 117,578 signatures to get Measure 106 on the ballot, through an act of political jujitsu: They co-opted and flipped the battle cry of the pro-choice movement. Their slogan? “My money, my choice.” Supporters of the measure say it is not a restriction on abortion access, but a choice about where to spend state money. “Is that really a function of government and your tax dollars?” asks state Rep. Julie Parrish (R-West Linn). “There’s a lot of people out there who are, like, ‘It is your choice, but it’s also my choice whether or not I’m going to pay.'”
Measure 103 Will Ban Grocery Taxes. What Else Will it Do?
If Measure 103 passes, it would be the death knell for a decadelong effort—backed by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg—to tax Coke and other sugary beverages in Multnomah County. Health advocates are crying foul. “Oregon has a long history of successful policymaking at the local level,” says Christina Bodamer, a lobbyist for American Heart Association. “Measure 103 removes local control to enact public health policies, such as sugar-sweetened beverage taxes, products which are particularly harmful to the health of our children.”
Portland Burgerville Workers Go on Strike Over Company Ban on Political Buttons
A spokesperson for Burgerville declined to comment directly on the workers’ strike, but instead directed WW to its blog—servewithlove.us. “You may think our policy makes a lot of sense, and that’s great. It’s equally possible that you’ll disagree with us, and that’s okay, too,” a Sept. 17 post titled A Letter from Burgerville reads. “But the tenor of this conversation about a company policy has moved to a very different place.” It continues: “We’ve seen people who don’t want to see political slogans when they eat called ‘racists’ or even ‘white supremacists.’ We’ve seen employees who want to join a union called ‘stupid’ or ‘spoiled’ or worse […] Name calling, bullying, harassment, and false accusations are not what this community is about. It’s not what Burgerville is about. Our mission is to serve with love. If you are interested in that, we’d love for you to join us for a burger.” Meanwhile, the BVWU union continues its call for customers to boycott the chain. The boycott is now in its seventh month.
Oregon should do more to protect students from educator misconduct, top lawyer says
Oregon must strengthen its law to prevent schools from covering up for educators accused of sexual misconduct with students, the legislature’s top lawyer concluded. Contractors, after-school providers or others who come in contact with children at their schools, not just teachers and school administrators, need to be covered, the legislative lawyer’s analysis found. Failure to bring state law in line with that federal standard could jeopardize Oregon’s federal education funding, Hannah Lai, senior deputy legislative counsel wrote in a memo signed by Legislative Counsel Dexter Johnson. Sen. Arnie Roblan, chairman of the Senate Education Committee, said he agreed with the lawyers’ recommendations and wants to propose adding even more teeth to the rules. School district officials who fail to report educators suspected of misconduct to the state teacher licensing agency should face mounting daily fines or other serious consequences, he said.
Some of Portland’s Affordable Housing Developers Are Rebelling Against Proposed Tenant Protections
This summer, City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly proposed a new rental policy few cities have ever tried. She wants to place new requirements on how landlords screen tenants’ criminal and financial histories. It’s probably no surprise Eudaly’s idea has drawn a powerful backlash from landlords. The landlord association Multifamily NW has blanketed the city with postcards headlined “Sex Offenders, Stalkers and Felons Could Be Your Neighbor!”—an alarmist criticism of Eudaly’s proposal. But what could doom Eudaly’s reform is which landlords are opposed. A group of the city’s affordable housing nonprofits are also questioning the restrictions on tenant screenings.
House Republicans negative ad campaign heavy on disingenuousness
Recently, billboards sprung up around Salem that zeroed in on incumbent candidate Rep. Paul Evans’ violations of Oregon election law. The billboards declare in tall letters that Evans has violated election law 111 times. This might be a scathing accusation if other Oregon lawmakers from all parties weren’t guilty of the same infraction of Oregon’s Campaign Finance Manual year in and year out. We’re not advocating candidates become scofflaws. Rep. Evans should pay the penalty and pay it promptly. But just as a developer can intentionally pay property taxes late as a cost of doing business, a late filing notice should not condemn a candidate.
Candidate Selma Pierce needs to step away from negative advertising
As a single mom, I am much more interested in where a candidate stands on education funding, housing costs, the economy, and protecting our parks and open spaces. As a voter I want to know if a candidate is qualified for the right job or has relevant experience. Selma Pierce has failed to show me either. I know Paul Evans is qualified. I know he stands for teachers, good jobs, and the environment. I’ll vote for Rep. Paul Evans.
Readers respond: Ellison for District 19
We are in a crisis. We need to handle the effects of climate change. It means the survival of human life on earth. The impacts are many, including the flow of climate refugees. This is just one reason I support Mike Ellison for Oregon House District 19.
Readers respond: Portland must face reality. It’s time for reform
Recently, while on a walk in our neighborhood shortly after dark, I had a disturbing encounter with a menacing individual. I was walking along, enjoying the fresh air carried on a gentle breeze as the crickets were chirping. Then a man approached me on the sidewalk and brazenly shined a bright flashlight in my eyes. I had no doubt that he was trying to provoke me. When I asked him not to shine the light in my eyes, he said he had a gun and I should walk along and mind my own business or he would track me and my family down. I did what I thought was best to de-escalate the situation and, truly fearing for my safety, walked away. We have had enough! The crime rate is increasing and our city leaders don’t seem engaged in dealing with this problem with any kind of urgency. We need more police officers in our neighborhoods to deal with crimes, especially property crimes. I blame the mayor and city councilors for ignoring citizens’ pleas for safe and livable neighborhoods. Our tax dollars and elected leaders ought to produce better results. When it comes to crime and policing, our leaders are hopelessly out of touch. I would encourage you to keep this in mind when voting time comes this November!
Editorial: Democrats won’t be saved by La Bell
The Bulletin Editorial Board
La Bell, in submitting information for inclusion in the Voters Pamphlet, awarded herself a bachelor’s degree from Valdosta State University she did not earn. La Bell’s take on this? The claim was the result of “an oversight during the rapid launch of my campaign.” Believe the “mistakes were made” excuse if you will. But people tend to remember where they went to college and what degrees they earned. Besides, the Voters Pamphlet claim isn’t a first-time fabrication. La Bell also claimed to have earned a bachelor’s degree from Valdosta State in her LinkedIn profile, which has since been amended. LinkedIn is a job-networking website. The mess also speaks volumes about the true priorities of those, like Brown, who couldn’t wait to endorse La Bell despite knowing precious little about her. District 54 represents an opportunity for Democrats to flip a seat now held by a Republican, Knute Buehler. Electing a Democrat would allow the majority party to raise taxes without help from Republicans. What the endorsements of Democratic leaders were not about is the quality of representation enjoyed by residents of District 54.
Editorial: Doctors should make opioid prescription decisions for their patients
The Bulletin Editorial Board
There is no question Oregon and the nation have a serious problem with opioid abuse. Overprescribing is one cause. Patients can also scam doctors into prescribing more pills than they need. The state’s chronic pain task force has been trying to come up with a policy to deal with the issue for the Oregon Health Authority. The task force has considered a one-year taper-off rule for patients on long-term opioid therapy with fibromyalgia, chronic pain syndrome and other chronic pain categories. But it’s hard to make a rule for prescribing opioids for chronic pain without unnecessarily limiting options for doctors and denying patients in pain a treatment the treatment that may be most effective.
Our Opinion: Don’t repeal ‘sanctuary’ law that works
Portland Tribune Editorial Board
Oregon’s law has worked well for three decades. In the current political climate, it has gotten swept up into a debate about how local police should interact with immigrants. That’s particularly unfortunate, when you consider that Oregon’s statute is not a reaction to today’s polarized politics and is not intended to thwart immigration enforcement. It simply defines roles, so that law enforcement officers and immigrants (regardless of their legal status) can focus on keeping their communities safe, rather than worrying about carrying out divisive federal policies.