An Oregon man was killed by deputies responding to a quadruple homicide as he was attempting to kill a young girl, according to authorities. Authorities identified the victims as 9-month-old Olivia Lynn Rose Gago; Shaina E. Sweitzer, 31; Pamela Denise Bremer, 64; and Jerry William Bremer, 66. Gago lived in the same home as the victims, according to the news release. “Incidents of domestic violence are far too common, and this tragedy is a heartbreaking reminder of that fact,” state Rep. Christine Drazan said. “The people who experience domestic violence need protection, and we need to make sure that those in need of help find the necessary resources.” “We’re grateful for the quick and heroic response by law enforcement to save lives, including the life of a child,” state Rep. Carl Wilson said in a statement. “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims, their loved ones, and the first responders who daily risk their lives for us all.”
Tracy Burbank ran for her life. She was shoeless and dressed in only a T-shirt and pajamas when she arrived at a neighbor’s property late Saturday, screaming, “Call 911” as she approached. The 40-year-old woman bolted from her rural home near Woodburn — where an ax-wielding man attacked her while she slept — to the fenced-in farmhouse about a quarter-mile away. “She was traumatized and stunned,” the neighbor recalled. “She repeatedly said, ‘I can’t believe what happened. It seems like a dream.’” A nightmare, at that. Authorities say Mark Leo Gregory Gago killed his mother, stepfather, girlfriend and 9-month-old daughter in an attack that night. Burbank and an 8-year-old girl survived. The deceased are Jerry William Bremer, 66; Pamela Denise Bremer, 64; Shaina E. Sweitzer, 31; and Olivia Lynn Rose Gago, 9 months.
GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
Oregon Public Broadcasting
In the upcoming months, Oregon lawmakers want to tackle an ambitious slate of policy proposals, from first-in-the nation statewide rent control to injecting billions into the state’s flagging schools to curbing carbon emissions. The 2019 legislative session kicks off on Tuesday. Democrats come into Salem enjoying the most significant advantage they’ve seen in decades: They have newly won supermajorities in both the Senate and House of Representatives and a just re-elected governor who never plans to run another campaign. Republicans hope to find common ground where they can, but in the face of that dominance, House Minority Leader Carl Wilson recently said members of his party also see themselves as “not even legislative speed bumps,” nearly powerless to stop a unified Democratic front.
In November, educators and school children got a champion. The homeless got an advocate and environmentalists got a steward. But perhaps the people most happy with Gov. Kate Brown’s re-election reside in Oregon’s union shops. Brown has long been pro union. She has publicly supported them and even had the president of a national teachers union stump for her during her campaign. Unions have backed Brown as well. Her six biggest union donors gave nearly $1 million combined in 2018. Now, with Democrats having a stronger majority in the House and Senate, union leaders say it’s time to push their pro-worker agenda. Greg Stiles, spokesman for House Republicans, said overall his caucus hasn’t paid much attention to the unions’ priorities going into the session except for Holvey’s bill. “Instead of collecting money from employees, the unions will get the money directly from the public agencies or the state,” Stiles said in an emailed statement. “Taxpayers should see this bill for what it is, an attempt to re-funnel money designated for classroom teachers and other to public employees that will inevitably be used to keep government unions dictating what Democrats do in the Capitol.”
The News Tribune
Leaders of the Oregon Legislature spoke Friday about the need to bridge divides that exist in the state, days ahead of the start of the 2019 session. Speaking at The Associated Press Legislative Preview, lawmakers described an Oregon that is divided between urban and rural, Democrat and Republican. The November election gave Democrats a three-fifths supermajority in Oregon’s Legislature with greater power to impose taxes, but Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, said they must wield power carefully. He pointed out that Republicans could jam up legislation by sitting out votes. Quorum rules say 20 senators must be on the Senate floor and 40 representatives on the House floor for votes to take place, Courtney said. Democrats fell short of those numbers in the elections, with 38 seats in the House and 18 in the Senate. House Democrats have pledged to help build a future for all people in the state “and not just people from Portland,” House Majority Leader Jennifer Williamson told Capitol correspondents.
Jeanne Atkins, the chairwoman of the Democratic Party of Oregon, will not seek re-election at the party’s organizational meetings in March. “I have a number of personal reasons for this decision—all of which can be summed up by saying I’ve got to make space, as I cross into my 70s, to commit to my family and to myself,” Atkins said in a statement. Atkins became Oregon’s secretary of state in 2015, after then-Secretary of State Kate Brown moved up to the governor’s office following the resignation of former Gov. John Kitzhaber. Atkins served in that position through January of 2017, when Republican Dennis Richardson, elected in 2016 took over. Atkins then became chair of the DPO and oversaw the party’s preparations for the 2018 election, in which Gov. Brown retained her position, Democratic legislative candidates made historic gains and Democratic interest groups defeated a slate of conservative ballot measures.
Jeff Merkley’s campaign to undermine the U.S. Department of Homeland
Security, especially its immigration enforcement branches, picked up
steam this week as he revealed government documents that suggest federal
officials misled the public about official policies. An unnamed
government whistleblower gave Merkley (D-Ore.) a draft policy that
explains DHS officials’ thinking on the controversial family separation
policy that removed thousands of immigrant children from their parents’
custody at the U.S. border. The draft, first reported by NBC News, shows
that federal officials implemented the child separations in a
calculated effort to deter people from seeking asylum in the U.S. It
also shows immigration officials intended to deny those children asylum
hearings in order to speed deportations. The draft policy shows federal
officials wanted journalists to notice the new enforcement efforts. The
authors predicted an “increase in prosecutions would be reported by the
media and it would have a substantial deterrent effect.”
Redmond legislator sees housing as battleground issue
The Bend Bulletin
Jack Zika is settling in, but not getting too comfortable in his new job. The Redmond real estate agent was sworn in Monday as the new representative for House District 53. The doughnut-shaped district encircles Bend, taking in a sliver of the city but also stretching from Redmond to Sunriver. Zika is at least guaranteed of having an official voice at the beginning of the debate over affordable housing. He’s been named to the House Human Services and Housing Committee. He picked up another key assignment Tuesday when Kotek named him as a House member to the Joint Task Force on Addressing Racial Disparities in Home Ownership. Zik’s other committee assignments are on the House Energy and Environment Committee, and the Veterans and Emergency Preparedness Committee.
Jesse Bonifer of Athena is a staunch defender of gun rights and was one of the chief petitioners of the Second Amendment Preservation Ordinance, which Umatilla County voters passed overwhelmingly. He is no fan of the proposal in the state Senate to require Oregonians to have a permit before even buying or receiving a gun. “That’s just ridiculous,” Bonifer said. “We already have our permit.” That permit being the Second Amendment. Bonifer said requiring another would violate constitutional rights. Senate Bill 501 from Sen. Rob Wagner and Rep. Andrea Salinas, both Lake Oswego Democrats, also would limit a person to two permits per month, one for a handgun and another for a rifle or shotgun. The bill also seeks to ban magazines holding more than five rounds, would require a background check to buy or receive ammunition and limit that to a maximum of 20 rounds every 30 days. The bill also would fine and jail people who don’t report gun thefts within 24 hours of discovering the loss.
Reps. Suzanne Bonamici, Earl Blumenauer and Sen. Ron Wyden blast president at Oregon Food Bank. Members of Oregon’s delegation to the U.S. Capitol have parked the blame for the partial government shutdown at the feet of one man: President Donald Trump. “This is absolutely not the fault of the Democrats,” Rep. Suzanne Bonamici said of the federal closure. “It’s infuriating, it’s unacceptable and it must end.” Bonamici was joined by like-minded colleagues Sen. Ron Wyden and Congressman Earl Blumenauer at the distribution bay of the Oregon Food Bank, 7900 N.E. 33rd Dr., on Friday, Jan. 18 — the 27th day since parts of the federal government ran out of funds in late December. “This shutdown isn’t making America great,” quipped Wyden, “it’s making America wait for Donald Trump to finally come to his senses and reopen the government.” As the longest-ever funding gap in this nation’s history approached its fifth week, Oregon lawmakers rallied to support federal workers, some of who need help finding food or paying rent because they are furloughed or working without pay.
When Oregon legislators convene on Tuesday, they could raise or lower your taxes, cut or boost government services and decide how much your landlord can hike the rent.
Interest groups, from the pharmaceutical industry to labor unions, spend millions of dollars lobbying legislators and contributing to their campaigns. We asked former lawmakers and citizen advocates: How can an ordinary constituent, without the same cash or cachet, have an impact? Here’s their advice to help you influence what happens at the Capitol. Get a group. Write your legislator — in your own words. Testify before the Legislature. Do your research. Be mindful of political realities. Frustrated by the power that the majority party holds, Vial wants to make the Legislature nonpartisan. Many lawmakers fill their days with 15-minute “speed dates” with lobbyists, Vial said. Those lobbyists have influence over what lawmakers do because they hold the purse strings for campaign donations, which can be critical to getting re-elected. But, as a citizen, you have one other powerful tool at your disposal if you don’t like what your lawmaker is doing: your ballot.
Oregon Public Broadcasting
Saturday, cities throughout the country, and the world, organized events around the Women’s March — the annual women’s rights demonstration that began in 2017 following President Trump’s inauguration. Portland, however, did not — at least not officially. The Women’s March on Portland group rescheduled its official Womxn’s March and Rally for Action to March 3, in an effort to coordinate with International Women’s Day and to not overshadow events associated with Martin Luther King Jr. Day and the surrounding weekend. Hundreds of people turned out at other Oregon marches adhering to the Saturday date. Cities including Eugene, The Dalles, Salem, Corvallis, Bend and Astoria each held marches.
Portland protesters synchronized with those marching for women across the nation on Saturday, echoing their chants against gendered oppression throughout downtown streets and squares. The scaled-down demonstration drew more than 100 supporters — a far cry from the tens of thousands who packed the city’s boulevards in January, 2017 for the original Women’s March, which was spurred by the inauguration of President Donald Trump. Since then, the national organization has been riven by allegations of anti-semitism and marginalization of women of color. The schism spread to Portland, with the Saturday, Jan. 19 #MeToo Speakout competing for support with a “Reclaim MLK March” on Jan. 20, as well as a semi-official Women’s March said to be occurring in the Rose City in March. But the factionalization was no deterrent for Mary Whitmore, who traveled from Forest Grove to advocate for the proposed Equal Rights Amendment whose ratification remains an unsettled question. “While tension between the liberal demonstrators and attendees of the Oregon Right to Life rally was to be expected, members of the conservative Patriot Prayer group twisted the day’s narrative with an unexpected visit to the International Workers of the World house at 2249 E. Burnside St. Joey Gibson and about 20 others reportedly squared off with local anti-fascists outside the house, according to a video and other accounts posted on social media. Portland police did not immediately release news of any arrests or injuries resulting from the clash
Herald and News
Congressman Greg Walden wasn’t shy about his thoughts on border security and the wall on the border between the United States and Mexico during a town hall in Klamath Falls on Friday, where he discussed recently casting a vote outside Republican Party lines to end the partial shutdown of the federal government. The Hood River Republican specifically took issue, though, with the furlough of employees of the Departments of the Interior, Agriculture, Bureau of Land Management, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “I’ve cited the Klamath Basin and the Biological Opinion as one of the things that got delayed (in the) course of these discussions,” Walden said. Walden wants to exempt agencies funded by Department of Interior, Agriculture, and Fish and Wildlife from the shutdown. “Why inflict all this?” he said. “I didn’t sign up for this kind of shutdown,” Walden added. During the town hall, which drew about 150 people to Oregon Tech, he called the vote a bit of a “break” with party lines, a comment met with applause from some in the audience.
California investors have purchased a large west Eugene apartment complex for nearly $12 million. Stone Ridge Apartments, an 84-unit complex near Randy Pape Beltline and Barger Drive, sold for $11.7 million, according to a deed filed in Lane County. A limited liability company tied to Jon Gibson, president of Sacramento-area commercial real estate holdings and investment firm Jon Gibson Group, was one of four LLCs that bought the apartment complex, but his entity acquired a 59-percent ownership stake, according to the deed. Gibson’s company has developed business parks in the Sacramento area, and owns several residential developments in California, Washington and Idaho, according to its website.
The community turned out in force Monday to celebrate the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., filling the nearly 700 seats of the Historic Ashland Armory. Others watched a live simulcast in the Varsity Theatre. Event coordinators estimated around 1,000 people attended. The 31st annual Ashland celebration featured a melting pot of musical and spoken word performances, including the Ashland High School Jazz Band, the Bishop Mayfield Band and the Walker Elementary choir. Keynote speaker Kamilah Long, director of leadership gifts at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and originally from Montgomery, Alabama, began her address with a poem written by her mother titled “Africa.” “To all of the black folks in the building, and especially the black youth, Dr. King had this to say to you: Believe in yourself, and believe that you are somebody,” Long said. “You don’t have to be ashamed of your heritage, you don’t have to be ashamed of your color, you don’t have to be ashamed of your hair. Black is as beautiful as any color. “And to all the youths in the building, Dr. King had this to say to you,” Long said. “Don’t you allow anybody to pull you so low to make you hate them and don’t you allow anybody to cause you to lose your self-respect to the point that you do not struggle for justice.”
Intel is preparing for a massive buildup in Oregon, according to multiple people familiar with the conversations, potentially spending billions to build and equip a factory for its next generation of computer chips. People with direct knowledge of the plans say Intel hopes to begin construction by the end of June. It would add an enormous, third section to the cutting-edge Hillsboro research factory known as D1X and add yet another project to Oregon’s already overloaded construction sector. Intel announced expansion plans last month but few specifics. People in Oregon’s construction industry say the company is lining up contractors and labor for the massive project, and some say Intel has told them it is committed to going forward. “Having that big anchor company locally, where they do their highest and most productive (research)…is hugely beneficial for our region,” said Josh Lehner with the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis.
Portland Business Journal
CREW Portland, the local chapter of the national commercial real estate group, moved its annual Forecast Breakfast from the Multnomah Athletic Club to the much larger Sentinel Hotel this year, largely to accommodate growing demand. But while demand may be on the rise for the breakfast’s economic intel, demand for housing in the Portland metro region has actually softened a bit, according to Tom Potiowsky, director of the Northwest Economic Research Center at Portland State University, who gave a keynote forecast at the Jan. 11 breakfast. In his presentation, Potiowsky touched on everything from tariffs and trade deals to Oregon’s population increases and, yes, housing: how construction has slowed, how price increases have dropped off and how efforts to increase housing at the state level may not be aimed quite right. Single-family building permits had been on the rise since the Great Recession, but they slowed way down in 2016 and 2017. According to Potiowsky, the Portland metro region saw 7,397 single-family permits in 2016; that dropped about 10 percent to 6,684 in 2017. While the multifamily boom has led to some of that drop-off, there are other factors at play, too.
Albany Democrat Herald Editorial
The Oregon Legislature starts its 2019 session today, so it’s time to dust off that old crack about how “No man’s life, liberty or property are safe while the Legislature is in session.” Jennifer Williamson, the Portland Democrat who serves as the majority leader in the House of Representatives, said House Democrats have pledged to help build a future for all people in the state, “and not just people from Portland.” It will be interesting to see how long that pledge — to work on behalf of all Oregonians and not just those in the Portland area — will last in the Capitol. If it manages to last through the entire session, people in Oregon’s rural areas will be astonished, because they’re expecting Portland legislators to shove their agendas down their throats. The talk last week from legislators was encouraging. But it’s early in the session. At this point, it’s just talk — and nobody knows that better than people in rural Oregon. (mm)
“The nine most terrifying words in the English language are, ‘I’m from the government, and I’m here to help.”’ Ronald Reagan’s 1986 statement still invokes chuckles on the right and some nostalgia for the general good nature of his gibes. But the sentiment behind it remains one of the most destructive forces in our politics. If you bemoan the shutdown of so many federal agencies and regularly ask yourself why our two parties seem to be at sword’s point on just about everything, you will not find an adequate explanation for our troubles in vague claims that “both sides” have become “extreme.” Our core problem is a dogmatic anti-government attitude, reflected in Reagan’s quip, that arose in the 1970s and ’80s. This makes it impossible for us to have a constructive debate about what government is for, what tasks it should take on, and what good it actually does. In truth, the whole anti-government thing is fundamentally fraudulent. So is the conservative claim to believe passionately in states’ rights and local authority.