GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
An Oregon state senator who once worked in the world’s hotspots as a contractor and soldier now finds himself under fire over threats he made during a Republican revolt over climate legislation. Sen. Brian Boquist, a veteran who served in Iraq, warned Senate President Peter Courtney that if he sent the State Police to force him to return during the walkout by the minority Republicans, “hell is coming to visit you personally.” Courtney later asked Gov. Kate Brown, a fellow Democrat, to order the state police to bring the Republicans back so the Senate could reach a quorum. When Brown did so, the senators fled the state. Boquist said he would resist any attempt to be forced to return to the state Capitol and advised state police, in front of a TV news camera, to “send bachelors and come heavily armed.”
Legislative action that would have asked Oregon voters to end non-unanimous juries in Oregon quietly died in the Oregon Senate last week because top lawmakers weren’t confident they could muster a successful ballot campaign. There was widespread support among lawyers and lawmakers to end Oregon’s standing as the only state in the country that allows for criminal convictions for crimes short of first-degree murder by non-unanimous juries. House Joint Resolution 10 called on voters to remove that provision from the Oregon Constitution and would have appeared on the November 2020 ballot. The resolution, championed by House Majority Leader Jennifer Williamson, D-Portland, passed unanimously in the House in mid-June. It remained in the line-up for a Senate vote until the second-to-last day of the session. That day, Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem, referred it to the Senate rules committee, effectively killing it.
The Oregon FFA, an agricultural education and leadership organization, will receive funding from the state this biennium for the first time in eight years. The East Oregonian reports that a measure approved by the Legislature appropriates $1.43 million to the Oregon Department of Education for FFA to provide financing for enrollment, leadership development and the coordination of 24 state-level competitions. The funding will help make fees for joining the FFA obsolete. JD Cant, co-chair for Advocacy with the Oregon Agriculture Teacher’s Association, said the fees have imposed a barrier for students taking agriculture classes who can’t afford the $20 to join the FFA.There are almost 7,000 students already enrolled in the Oregon FFA. Cant said the funding could help as many as 5,000 additional students.
The Register Guard
Area schools can count on extra funding for as well as advances to high-profile issues such as mental health resources, district accountability and keeping class sizes low, thanks to bills approved by the state Legislature. The 2019 legislative session may have been marked by delays, political standoffs and a flurry of votes on the last day, but in the end, lawmakers approved a total of $9 billion for K-12 schools this year, up by about 10% from the last legislative session’s $8.2 billion. The increased funding is projected to have major impact and brings some significant changes to Oregon’s K-12 schools.
Concern for children in America’s classrooms, homes and border security permeated discussion at a town hall with Sen. Jeff Merkley in Boardman on Saturday. The senator advocated for more education funding, more early childhood education opportunities and changes in the way the country handles minors crossing the southern border in response to several questions from a crowd of about two dozen people at the SAGE Center. Doctors and lawyers with access to child detention centers at the border have described young children packed into facilities without access to clean clothes, soap, toothbrushes, sleeping mats and other items. One town hall attendee described the government’s treatment of unaccompanied minors and those taken from their parents as an “abomination” and asked Merkley what Congress and everyday citizens can do.
Joey Gibson may be facing a $1 million civil lawsuit, but the right-wing activist will be represented in court by the chair of the Multnomah County Republican Party. James Buchal, head of the Multnomah County GOP, agreed to represent Gibson in a suit that stems from a May 1 confrontation in Portland, the Willamette Week first reported Friday. Gibson, founder of right-wing group Patriot Prayer, and more than two dozen others were named as defendants in a lawsuit filed by Abram Goldman-Armstrong, owner of Portland-based Cider Riot, in May. Goldman-Armstrong said the group showed up at his northeast Portland cider bar following May Day demonstrations and fought with customers, causing mayhem and physical injury to at least one person. The claims include negligence, trespass and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
Oregon Public Broadcasting
The Josephine County Sheriff’s Office has a culture of “sexual banter and innuendo” and discriminates against female employees, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court this week by a current female sheriff’s deputy. The lawsuit outlines specific examples of sexual harassment toward the female employee, including threats of violence, lewd text messages by a male supervisor and being repeatedly propositioned for sex by multiple male coworkers. The lawsuit also claims sweeping discrimination toward women who work at the southeast Oregon law enforcement agency. Deputy Teresa O’Brien, who filed the lawsuit, has worked for the sheriff’s office since 1995, when she began as a reserve deputy.
It could be several years before trees are cut on state land off U.S. Highway 101 between Arcadia Beach and Hug Point, but a proposed timber sale has already tapped into broader concerns about water quality, habitat conservation and tourism on the coast. The Norriston Heights timber sale would result in a modified clearcut of more than 70 acres on the east side of the highway. The state expects to net just under $1 million — $938,550 — for the sale. Two-thirds of the revenue will go to rural fire protection in Cannon Beach, public transit through Seaside and the Seaside School District, according to Jason Cox, a spokesman for the Oregon Department of Forestry.
Oregon Public Broadcasting
A new court filing outlining the sale of Central Oregon’s only daily newspaper shows that all employees of the Bend Bulletin and other publications must be terminated before Rhode Island Suburban Newspapers takes control. The Rhode Island company plans to buy Western Communications’ Central Oregon publications for more than $2 million. As a part of the sale agreement, Western Communications must terminate all employees at the Bend Bulletin, the Redmond Spokesman Weekly and other publications including Go! Weekly entertainment tabloid and Bend Homes monthly.