GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
Oregon Public Broadcasting
A new economic report finds Oregon’s proposed cap-and-trade plan would create thousands of jobs and boost household income while creating only modest increases in energy prices. Moreover, the report concludes, the more aggressive interim cap on greenhouse gas emissions proposed for 2035 would create even more economic benefits than a more gradual decline in emissions from 2021 and 2050. An analysis by Berkeley Economic Advising and Research finds capping greenhouse gas emissions as proposed in House Bill 2020 would spur widespread adoption of energy-saving technology by the year 2050. That, in turn, will create significant economic growth, said the research company’s director, David Roland-Holst. The company analyzed the possible outcomes of Oregon’s cap-and-trade plan using economic forecasting tools, existing economic data and the basic outline of the proposed policy, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. “We find Oregon can meet its 2050 climate goals in ways that achieve higher aggregate economic growth and employment,” he said in reporting his findings to the Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction Friday. “This will require a fundamental restructuring of Oregon’s economy. It’s not a simple matter,” he said. “The economy of Oregon 30 years from now is going to be a very different from the one we’re sitting in today.” Kathryn Williams, director of government affairs for NW Natural, told lawmakers her company has crunched some numbers and found natural gas prices will likely increase by double-digit percentages throughout the program. In the early years, she said, rates are expected to go up by 11 percent for residential customers and by 28 percent for industrial customers under the current cap-and-trade proposal, and the increases would continue to grow as the program continued. By 2040, the company projects natural gas bills would increase by 53 percent for residential customers and by 117 percent for industrial customers. Williams proposed changing the language in the existing bill to give gas utilities free pollution permits in the first year of the program and reduce those free permits as time goes on. Her proposal is similar to what California has done with natural gas utilities in its cap-and-trade program.
Four days before Chloe Wilson took her life, the 14-year-old from Eugene was meeting with her legislators at the state Capitol, eager to push for more recognition of people with mental illnesses. She died Feb. 26, 2018. Nearly a year later, her father and stepmother, Jason and Roxanne Wilson, returned to the Capitol in Chloe’s honor to push for more robust suicide prevention policies in Oregon schools. Lawmakers are listening. Eighteen senators and representatives have sponsored a plan to direct nearly $2 million per year to address violence and bullying in schools. They call it the “Oregon Safe To Learn Act.” The state would help schools screen for potential violence, promote the state’s school safety tip line, and create programs aimed at preventing suicide, harassment and bullying. The idea is to reduce those incidents. The act would pay for 15 employees at the Department of Education to lead that work. Those employees would help school districts with prevention programs and help coordinate schools with mental and behavioral health care providers. It would also help school and education service districts to establish teams to assess threats to student safety. Those teams would, under the proposed law, also develop intervention plans and connect students and families with local resources and support. In an interview, state Sen. Rob Wagner, D-Lake Oswego, the chair of the Senate Education Committee, said lawmakers should check back in next year to see whether those measures are effective. State Rep. Cheri Helt, R-Bend, a longtime Bend-La Pine School Board member until last month, was moved to tears by the testimony on Wednesday, Feb. 6. She said Central Oregon lost 15 children to suicide in 2017. In that area, she said, a suicide prevention specialist in Deschutes County works with local schools. “This program that you’re proposing has five suicide specialists, so that means they’re going to have a much broader area,” Helt told Dave Novotney, who helped lead the group that developed the Oregon Safe To Learn Act, during a public hearing on Wednesday. “I would say our one in our county is already overworked and struggling.”
In his first two meeting as Fairview’s mayor, Brian Cooper removed the Pledge of Allegiance from the City Council’s agenda without any prior discussion with council members. But at the council’s meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 6, the pledge will be recited once again. Cooper decide to reinstate the oath after receiving criticism from City Councilors and community members. “We have fake (online social media) accounts starting fights and non-Fairview residents calling my office regarding an issue that is basically between seven members of council, who actually have varying opinions on the subject,” Cooper said in email on Thursday, Jan. 31, to Fairview City Councilors obtained by The Outlook. “I had high hopes that we would be able to sit down in a non-confrontational environment and listen to everybody’s concerns and perhaps come up with something better. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem possible anymore.” Councilor Natalie Voruz objected to omitting the Pledge of Allegiance during the council’s Wednesday, Jan. 16, meeting.
Oregon Public Broadcasting
Portland’s City Club wants to talk about the structural problem with our government. No, not PERS, or the lack of a statewide sales tax. The commission system. In a report released Sunday, a research team convened by the civic group recommends a complete overhaul of Portland’s unusual form of government. Portland is the last large American city still using a commission system, in which members of the City Council are elected citywide and serve a dual role as legislators and administrators of individual bureaus. The City Club’s research committee found that the system “is inherently inequitable and has long since ceased to be the most effective form of government for Portland.” The report could be the first salvo in a new campaign to convince voters to abandon the commission system. In the next two years, the City Council has to convene a group of 20 citizens to review the city’s charter and recommend changes to put to voters for approval. Mayor Ted Wheeler says he supports changing the form of government — if voters approve it. Portland’s commission system and at-large elections have long been viewed as problematic by Portland’s mayors and by groups concerned with equity. But voters have remained stubbornly supportive of it. Proponents view it as a point of civic pride, a way to prevent the mayor from holding too much power, and a system that has helped the city lead on environmental issues and other policies that are citywide priorities without a geographic focus. The City Club’s report recommends hiring a professional city manager to run bureaus and oversee day-to-day services, increasing the size of the City Council, and electing that council using districts, instead of having candidates run citywide. Those recommendations are a change of tune from the civic organization, which helped defeat the last effort to ditch the commission system in 2007.
Low-flying Chinook helicopters rattled residents late Thursday night from South Salem to Keizer. For much of the day after, no one seemed to know who they were or where they came from. They weren’t from the Oregon National Guard. They weren’t based locally. The large, twin-engine, tandem-rotor military aircraft, conducting a refueling exercise at Independence State Airport, buzzed over local neighborhoods between 10 p.m. and midnight. “They literally shook my apartment so hard that pictures fell off the walls,” Keizer’s Jay Free wrote in a 12:04 a.m. email to the Statesman Journal. “The last one just flew by. Why is this happening? It’s worrying me.” “What are they doing flying so low and so late?” a resident posted around midnight on the neighborhood social platform Nextdoor Sumpter in South Salem. While we don’t have those answers, we can now tell you they were special ops helicopters from the U.S. Army’s 4th Battalion of the Army’s 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (SOAR) based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington. The regiment is better known as the “Night Stalkers,” and its missions include attack, assault and reconnaissance assignments and are usually conducted at night, at high speeds and at low altitudes. They fly the MH-47G Chinook, a special ops variant of the CH-47.
Cannon is a 20-year FBI veteran and the special agent in charge of Oregon. More information about the Oregon Joint Terrorism Task Force is available at https://portland.fbi.gov. The mission of the FBI is twofold: to protect the American people and uphold the Constitution. This means we must protect citizens across Oregon’s diverse communities while simultaneously protecting their rights. Last year, people worried about crimes and violence sent hundreds of thousands of tips and leads to the FBI. In Portland, our Joint Terrorism Task Force has been combing through such tips and leads since 2000 to help keep our community safe from violence. Participation of our local police departments makes the task force effective. In addition to providing a mechanism for rapid information sharing, local police officers bring an increased understanding of the communities they patrol every day. They are experienced investigators and can quickly serve as a bridge between the FBI and affected departments in times of crisis. The task force helps us achieve the teamwork between local, state and federal agencies noted as essential by the bipartisan 9/11 Commission. The work the task force does in our communities matter. But what matters more is the way we work for the people we serve. Fears exist that the task force will target groups or individuals based on race, religion, immigration status or political beliefs. We take these concerns seriously. That’s why our actions at all times are based on the guiding principles of the Constitution. The task force investigations must be grounded on the rule of law, on integrity, on compassion and on fairness. Every day, we weigh our need to keep people safe with our duty to protect civil liberties and civil rights.