The Associated Press
As wildfires raged at both ends of California, officials released another grim statistic: Six more dead in a swath of Northern California wiped out by fire, raising the death toll there to 29. It matched California’s record for deaths in a single fire and brought the statewide total to 31 as authorities stepped up searches for bodies and missing people. Another 228 remain unaccounted for. Two people were killed in a wildfire in Southern California.
GOVERNMENT & POLITICS
Oregon Public Broadcasting
“Oregon voters sent a clear message to the Trump administration this week: Oregonians support our sanctuary laws,” Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, one of the plaintiffs, said in a statement. “The Trump administration’s attempts to withhold public safety dollars from our state is unjust, dangerous, and unconstitutional … . We will not stand for this administration’s attempts to strong-arm our state by withholding critical public safety dollars.”
Gov. Kate Brown and Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum have filed suit against President Trump in an attempt to void two federal laws requiring states to aid immigration authorities. The suit, filed Friday in federal court in Eugene, claims those laws violate the 10th Amendment, which separates state and federal powers, by demanding states enforce federal immigration regulations. “State and local law enforcement agencies are not required to expend their limited resources on enforcing immigration policies that are a federal responsibility,” the suit says.
Oregon Public Broadcasting
Brown now has a full term ahead of her for the first time since she became governor. She not only doesn’t have to run for re-election in four years, she can’t under state law. All she has to worry about now is what’s right in front of her. “This election was truly about Oregon’s future,” the governor said once she took the stage. Many Democrats expect this is when Brown will make her stamp on the state. “I’ve obviously been on the campaign trail for 20 years, and as a governor pretty much straight for the last three years,” Brown said post-election. “It’s a relief, totally, to not have that constant campaigning hanging over our heads.” In the next four years, she’s expected to help shepherd a litany of progressive causes including: strengthening the state’s gun laws, advocating for a cap-and-trade proposal to fight climate change, championing campaign finance reform and finding sustainable funding for the state’s public school system. In other words, Brown is expected to “own” being governor.
Republicans are resigned to the belief that Democrats will use their newfound supermajorities to push through new policies and pay for them with additional taxes and fees. Last session, Democrats were one seat shy of a supermajority in both chambers, meaning they couldn’t pass new taxes without at least one Republican. “It is about to get a lot more expensive to live in our state,” House Republicans spokesman Preston Mann said in a statement. Their best shot to avoid these undesirable outcomes, Mann said, is Courtney and centrist Democrats in the Senate. “Senate President Peter Courtney and moderate Senate Democrats like Betsy Johnson may be the only hope Oregonians have when looking for some semblance of restraint from their state government,” Mann said.
A record 37 Oregon women will serve as state legislators in 2019. Come January, once new lawmakers are sworn in, women will hold 28 out of 60 seats in the House. Women also picked up one seat in the Senate, bringing their numbers in that chamber to nine out of 30. House Majority Leader Jennifer Williamson, a Democrat from Portland, said she thought that six more women in the House could affect what policies the Legislature takes up. “Women just bring different life experiences than men to the building,” Williamson said. “So we talk about things like childcare and health care and paid family leave and issues that disproportionately impact women.” With more women in office, Oregonians will also see greater diversity of leadership styles among those women, Williamson said.
The Associated Press
Sen. Brian Boquist wrote to Elections Director Steve Trout on Friday, saying he’d like to know how many late ballots arrive at county clerks’ offices after the 8 p.m. Tuesday deadline. Boquist said that after vote-by-mail was adopted in 1998, completed ballots mailed in his hometown of Dallas, Oregon, were sorted at the local post office and were usually delivered to the county clerk’s office to be counted the next day. Now, it can take several days, since the mail is sent to postal facilities in Portland to be sorted, causing some ballots to arrive in county clerks’ offices after the deadline. “This disenfranchises the voters,” Boquist said, adding that ballots mailed from Portland — a heavily Democratic area — have less risk of arriving late in the mail. Boquist suggested Oregon might have to move to a system where ballots postmarked before the deadline are valid, like tax returns. Deb Royal, spokeswoman for top election official Secretary of State Dennis Richardson, said voters have been strongly urged to mail ballots early or use drop boxes. It would be up to the Legislature to change the rules, she said.
“It’s going to be a real challenge to not be irrelevant,” she said. “We’ll be less than irrelevant. It will be disappointing for people here who expect their legislators to go to Salem and do something for them.” The biggest potential disappointment will be to pass legislation to deal with wildfire smoke, she said. Wallan said she’s not sure how the Democrats will deal with the smoke issue. “It remains to be seen,” she said. In Salem she will work to cut wildfire smoke, cut regulations and curtail land-use restrictions that inflate housing costs. Wallan said other priorities include dealing with Public Employees Retirement System crisis so more money can be devoted to schools.
With the election over, Oregon lawmakers and Gov. Kate Brown are turning their attention to the 2019 legislative session a little more than two months away. Raising billions of dollars in taxes to pour into improving schools is at the top of legislative Democrats’ to-do list and there’s one company in particular they see offering help: Nike. The state’s largest company played a central role in the election and is now poised to have significant impact shaping tax policy in 2019. Big companies go to great lengths to minimize their tax bills. By supporting Democrats’ drive for revenue, Nike is in the catbird seat to push for tax policies that would be less of a financial hit to the company’s bottom line.
The secretary of state’s elections division announced on Friday afternoon that Mannix has turned in the sponsorship signatures for a proposed 2020 ballot measure that would amend the procedure laid out in the Oregon constitution for re-drawing legislative and congressional districts. His ballot initiative would empower an 11-member panel, rather than the Legislature, to handle re-districting. The members of the panel would be appointed by the county commissioners in each of Oregon’s 36 counties. And that’s the reason Mannix’s measure faces long odds: Multnomah County, with about 807,000 residents or just under a fifth of the state’s population, for instance, would get the same say as the combination of Coos and Douglas counties, which have fewer than 200,000 residents. In effect, Mannix’s proposal would give disproportionate weight to Oregon’s rural counties, which have neither the population or the economic impact of the state’s larger counties. Mannix says his focus is on eliminating partisan gerrymandering by concentrating redistricting on “maximally compact districts based on established census tracts.” “The whole point of having commissioners from all over the state, who are nonpartisan, and who cannot gerrymander, is to completely clean up the redistricting system while engaging support from people all over the state,” Mannix said in a email. “We are all Oregonians.”
Portland Business Journal
Numbers visiting US fast-food outlets in September dropped 2.6 per cent from a year ago, according to restaurant industry data provider MillerPulse, a steeper decline than the 0.8 per cent year-on-year drop recorded the previous month. Industry executives and consultants cited a series of factors, including consumer demand for healthier alternatives to burgers and pizzas and lower construction activity, which means fewer building workers are picking up fast food on lunch breaks. Todd Penegor, chief executive of the Wendy’s burger chain, said last week that poorer customers were failing to benefit as much as the better off from the strong US economy. About 40 per cent of so-called quick-service restaurants’ customers earn $45,000 or less, said Mr Penegor as he presented his company’s third-quarter earnings. Wendy’s like-for-like sales in North America ticked down 0.2 per cent in the three months to September. “We are seeing the lowest unemployment levels in a long time, high consumer confidence . . . but as you look at that income growth, it skewed significantly to higher-income households,” he said. “On the low end, you start looking at folks with rent and healthcare costs starting to rise that are really eating into some of the headway that they are making.”
Portland Business Journal
After a yearlong cascade of stories about the sexual harassment of hotel workers, questions about how to address the problem remain largely unanswered. The most popular solution, one that hotel executives and labor activists can agree on, is small enough to fit in a pocket. It is known as a panic button, a small gadget that housekeepers can use to swiftly call for help. The technology takes different forms, including GPS devices that track employees as they walk through the building, buttons that emit an audible alarm and smartphone apps.
Caught smack in the middle of the U.S.-China trade war, America’s soybean farmers are taking a huge gamble. Rather than selling the crop right away as they pull it out of the ground — as they do almost every harvest season to pay the bills — they are instead stashing it in silos, containers, bins, bags, whatever they can get their hands on to keep it safe and dry.
The hope is that over the next few months, trade tensions will ease, and China, the top market for the oilseed, will start buying from American farmers again, lifting depressed prices in the process. A bushel of soybeans fetched just $8.87 on Friday. Eight months ago, before trade tensions led to tariffs, it was about $2 more. The risks are great. While futures trading indicates higher prices next year, that could change depending on trade negotiations and rising supplies. Moreover, the crop could go bad on them. Soybeans are not corn. They don’t store nearly as well. If not kept super dry, they can take on moisture fast. Rot quickly follows, making them worthless — and gross. Still, Humphreys is going to put as much of his harvest in silos as he possibly can because he likes to time his sales to the market. “It gives you a certain amount of control,” he said.
Oregon Public Broadcasting
A study accepted for publication this month by the Review of Economics and Statistics found that, in Bangladesh, improving the economic status of women can decrease domestic violence if the women also took part in an educational program that helped elevate their social standing in the community. Women who received both economic assistance and education for two years reported a 26 percent decrease in domestic violence — even several months after the program stopped. But here’s the surprising part: Violence against women was never mentioned in the training. In fact, the project, run by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), started out as a study on nutrition. Did women who were given food (or cash to buy food) improve their household’s health when they were also educated on healthy diets? The researchers suggest that perhaps the women in that part of the study developed stronger social ties, an improved status in the community and more confidence – and thus have a greater ability to negotiate improvements in a violent home situation or are more willing to walk out.
Oregon Public Broadcasting
As in previous years, the University of Washington’s latest data indicates that this level of gun violence in a well-off country is a particularly American phenomenon. When you consider countries with the top indicators of socioeconomic success — income per person and average education level, for instance — the United States is bested by just 18 nations, including Denmark, the Netherlands, Canada and Japan. Those countries all also enjoy low rates of gun violence. But the U.S. has the 28th highest rate in the world: 4.43 deaths due to gun violence per 100,000 people in 2017. That was nine times as high as the rate in Canada, which had 0.47 deaths per 100,000 people — and 29 times higher than in Denmark, which had 0.15 deaths per 100,000. “It is a little surprising that a country like ours should have this level of gun violence,” Ali Mokdad, a professor of global health and epidemiology at the IHME told NPR in an interview last year. “If you compare us to other well-off countries, we really stand out.”
Oregon Public Broadcasting
According to numbers from Oregon’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission, the only public university where enrollment went up this fall is Oregon State University. OSU’s student body grew mainly thanks to increases at its Cascades branch campus in Bend and from its online courses. OSU’s “Ecampus” grew by 7.9 percent from a year ago and OSU-Cascades grew by 4.6 percent. Oregon university officials point out that the number of high school graduates in the state has declined in recent years, and they say more of those graduates are opting for community college. But overall enrollment at Oregon’s community colleges is also declining, according to the HECC’s numbers. Eleven of the state’s 17 community colleges shrank this fall, including the largest in the state, Portland Community College, which shrank by more than 4 percent, according to HECC.
Hedberg said the majority of people who end up using opioids in the long-term are people who started with a prescription to treat mild to moderate acute pain, such as a broken arm. The problem is the longer a person is on an opioid, the harder it is to come off the medication, she said. According to a 2017 report from the Centers for Disease Control, the probability a patient would need opioids on a long-term basis increased after being on the drugs for more than three days. The report also states patients who were given their first 30-day supply of the drug were more than 30 percent likely to still be on the drug a year later. That’s why the new guidelines suggest limiting the amount of opioid pills a patient is given for a broken bone or sprained ankle to about three to seven days worth, at the lowest dose possible, depending on how severe a patient’s pain is and how long it will take the injury to heal, Hedberg said.
The worldwide environmental campaign to ban single-use plastic straws arrives at the Portland City Council on Wednesday. City leaders will consider a new ordinance placing restrictions on those straws, as well as condiments packaged in plastic. Portland, city commissioners are slated to vote on a proposal advance by Mayor Ted Wheeler that would make plastic straws available only upon request by customers. City officials decided that was essential because some people with disabilities may require a straw to drink a beverage. In addition, food and beverage establishments, as well as institutional cafeterias, would have to ask customers if they want to receive plastic utensils and condiments packaged in plastic with their orders.
The Bulletin Editorial Board
A state audit found in January that Oregon’s child welfare system was so disorganized and inconsistent that it was putting some of the state’s most vulnerable children at risk. Millions were misspent. Lawsuits forced the state to pay out other millions for failure to protect children. And the audit said the agency’s response to problems was slow, indecisive and inadequate. Since that audit, the Department of Human Services began in March to issue monthly reports to Gov. Kate Brown showing what progress it has made. There has been some encouraging news. But Oregonians have no reason to be satisfied. The state audit jolted DHS and the Legislature. DHS has a new director of the foster care system. The Legislature authorized more caseworkers to address inadequate staffing. That has helped, but DHS modeling shows its staffing is still inadequate. One of the most discouraging statistics in the October report is the number of children who were victims again of abuse and neglect within 12 months of an initial incident. That statistic has climbed slightly from nearly 11 percent at the end of 2017 to nearly 12 percent in the second quarter of 2018. Legislators and Gov. Brown have been working hard between legislative sessions on big plans to introduce bills in the 2019 session to put in place a carbon tax and spend the millions in new revenue. Where are their big plans to care for the foster children the state is failing?
The Bulletin Editorial Board
This election season in Oregon has been an expensive one, with the race for governor setting new spending records. It’s no wonder then, that the idea of limits on campaign spending looks attractive. Yet setting limits without violating both federal and state Supreme Court rulings that political contributions are, in fact, speech, is difficult, as it should be. Moreover, determined contributors always find a way to make large gifts that do not violate election laws. Rather than attempting to rewrite the state constitution or adopting a public financing scheme, lawmakers should look once again at tightening rules governing campaign donations. Quick reporting of contributions, and making that reporting public equally quick, is the sort of reform that honors free speech as well as the public’s right to know who’s financing elections.
The Oregonian Editorial Board
As Gov. Kate Brown herself acknowledged, her upcoming term in office will be her last. That fact was noted by some of her endorsers as a reason to re-elect Brown, despite her otherwise unimpressive record. The “political freedom” of not having to win over voters again, they argued, could help Brown show the courage and leadership she has failed to demonstrate so far. It’s a cynical argument, but Oregonians should cross their fingers it’s a valid one. It is their best hope that Brown will stop trying to score populist points and instead find the gumption to tackle the entrenched problems swallowing up the state.
“We don’t have leaders in place that are making our votes important. Here in Chicago, at my polling place, there was no Spanish translator,” said Susan Rivera, a freelance writer at WGN-TV. “I had to help a Mexican couple in their 80s, two elderly Puerto Rican women [and] an 18-year-old new citizen vote. The 18-year-old I helped stood out the most … she had basic, fundamental questions about voting. Who is reaching out to Latinos ahead of elections?” Not only did campaigns underinvest in helping new Latino voters cast ballots, there were reports from all over the country that organizations providing interpreters for languages like Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, Korean, Hindi and Bengali weren’t allowed to translate for the people they showed up to assist.