GOVERNMENT & POLITICS
Mark your political calendar, the next year will be busy
Elections come fast and furious in Oregon. It’s less than a year until the 2018 election, when Oregon will choose a governor. But the political marathon has months to go until that final day. Voters will see a lot of electoral activity in the meantime.
The Man Who Knows More Than Anybody Else About Oregon’s Tax System is Retiring
State Sen. Mark Hass (D-Beaverton), the chairman of the Senate Finance and Revenue Committee, has worked closely with Warner for years. “Paul Warner is one of the most treasured people in state government,” Hass says. “Gracious, kind and a talented. Everyone appreciated his evenhanded approach to working through difficult problems. His kind, helpful demeanor is remarkably the same, whether he’s talking to the governor, a legislator, an intern or a reporter. Oregon’s government will not be the same without him. There are plenty of talented economists—but they will not fill his boots.”
Oregon pays $750k to foster kids who were isolated in Spanish-speaking foster home
The state of Oregon has paid $750,000 to three English-speaking foster kids who were placed in the Gresham home of Spanish-speaking foster parents and forced to wear filthy clothes smelling of urine and sleep in a windowless basement.
Former NFL Quarterback Drew Bledsoe Weighs in on Oregon’s Governor’s Race
On Nov. 21, Buehler, who’s seeking the Republican nomination to challenge incumbent Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, next year, reported an in-kind campaign contribution from Bledsoe—$3,528 worth of wine for a campaign event. (Bledsoe twice donated to Buehler’s legislative campaigns in the past, $500 each time.)
JOBS & ECONOMY
Small businesses face big hurdles to survive
According to the federal Small Business Administration, about a third of businesses fail within the first two years and only half make it past five. Those odds are what have helped inspire “shop local” and pro-small business movements like Small Business Saturday, which encourages people to shop at a small business the Saturday after Thanksgiving.
Portland schools’ top lawyer lacks an Oregon law license
Portland Public Schools’ top lawyer isn’t licensed to practice law in Oregon despite being on staff since June. Now he is quitting the job that requires him to hold that credential. Jim Harris resigned after less than six months on the job, Superintendent Guadalupe Guerrero announced Monday. The Oregon State Bar informed Harris on Nov. 9 that it is investigating whether he illegally practiced law by serving as the school district’s general counsel without being admitted to practice in Oregon.
Expert says PPS lawyer’s lack of license is a problem
An expert in professional conduct for lawyers says the fact that Portland Public Schools’ new general counsel, Jim Harris, lacks a license to practice in Oregon is a problem that likely violates state ethics rules. “It’s pretty simple,” Lucian Pera, a nationally recognized expert on legal ethics, tells the Portland Tribune. “You’ve got to be recognized by a jurisdiction somehow before you can act as a lawyer.”
Texas fires special-education director, citing past allegations in Oregon
They say they fired Kash after learning that she is being sued in Oregon for allegedly trying to cover up sexual abuse of a 6-year-old student. Kash was the director of special education at the Rainier School District at that time. The suit is filed by two former employees who say Kash and her husband, the district’s superintendent, did not believe the allegations and ordered them not to report the outcry.
Rudy Crew, much criticized in Oregon, could become president of City University of New York
Education leader Rudy Crew, who spurred controversy during his year as Oregon’s inaugural chief education officer, has been named by the New York Daily News as a potential candidate to become president of the City University of New York. Crew, who left Oregon after 13 months in his $280,000-a-year Salem job, is president of Medgar Evers College in Brooklyn, a job he has held for four years. That college is one of 24 senior colleges, community colleges and graduate and professional schools that comprise the City University of New York.
Oregonians buying health coverage face new deadline, changes
Shrinking networks of doctors and hospitals covered by plans increasingly lurk as pitfalls in the individual market, which serves more than 200,000 Oregonians. And so does a landscape of premiums and subsidies that continues to shift.
Housing emergency declared in Grants Pass
A rural county in southern Oregon has joined larger West Coast places in declaring a housing emergency. The Josephine County Board of Commissioners took the action this week, hoping to free up state assistance and suspend some state rules, the Daily Courier reported . The board asked Oregon Gov. Kate Brown to declare a two-year emergency.
OCHS fighting homelessness in Oregon with new funding
My Columbia Basin
Oregon Housing and Community Services (OHCS) has announced the release of $40 million in funding to provide homeless prevention and assistance to Oregonians statewide. The Community Action Agency and partners across the state will be implementing those resources and delivering through the Emergency Housing Assistance program and State Homeless Assistance Program. Both of these resources are used to immediately get Oregonians off the street and into shelter and help them eventually find long-term, stable housing.
Oregon Housing releases $40 million to assist homeless, at-risk
“OHCS and the Community Action Agencies have an important opportunity to use this historic investment to make significant progress toward our goals of reducing homelessness, reaching the hardest to serve, and ensuring that Oregonians have a safe and stable place to call home,” said Governor Brown.
Lawsuit Argues Jail’s ICE Contract Violates Oregon Sanctuary Law
Oregon Public Broadcasting
A Wasco County Judge is set to hear arguments Wednesday about whether Northern Oregon Regional Corrections Facilities, known as NORCOR, are violating Oregon’s sanctuary law.
Wolves’ return to Oregon brings conflict and opportunity
Today, Oregon’s statehood is secure, but the future of its wolf population once more hangs in the balance. Wolves have returned after decades, and this time, humans are having a much more contentious discussion about what to do with them. It’s a political debate playing out against the backdrop of a rapidly growing wolf population, a jump in wolf poaching and demands from ranchers and hunters who say the predators are decimating herds and spooking big game.
Health center scores $13.2M loan
The Dalles Chronicle
John Huffman, in his new role as state director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture Rural Development, announced Monday that the agency was investing $13.2 million to improve access to health care services for Gorge communities. The loan will be used by One Community Health, a nonprofit provider, to replace its Hood River dental and medical complex, 1220 Indian Creek Road.
Editorial: Pass Whisnant’s PERS reform bill
Even without full-blown reform of the state’s Public Employees Retirement System pension rules, there are small changes to be made that could save the system money and make it more equitable. State Rep. Gene Whisnant, R-Sunriver, has found one of those changes and will introduce a bill to effect it in next year’s short legislative session. Call it the “Mike Bellotti Pension Reform Act,” if you wish.
Editorial: State hasn’t earned trust for a $700 million new tax
Oregonians of all political parties need to make one thing clear before the short 2018 legislative session begins: We don’t trust state officials to spend wisely what could be as much as $700 million a year in new revenues. That $700 million is what the state might collect each year if lawmakers approve a new “cap and invest” carbon tax in 2018. The tax would charge some, but perhaps not all, large businesses for their carbon output.
Editorial: Money woes add up fast for Health Authority
There is one additional thing that might help Brown make the case, but it’s a step she’s resisted: She can appoint an independent investigator to delve into the workings of the Health Authority. Brown has expressed confidence in Allen, but he might welcome an additional set of eyes on the issue. And it would put a concrete action behind the governor’s promises about transparency in this matter. It might help ease the concerns of some voters. An independent investigation would be of benefit in other ways as well: It could help clarify exactly what went wrong and help the Health Authority avoid similar mistakes in the future. The governor should set aside her reservations and give the green light to an independent investigation.
Editorial: Oregonians are right to have suspicious minds
It’s possible Garrett has a poor memory. It’s possible Garrett doesn’t have the humility or wisdom to admit when he doesn’t know or remember. But what we do know is Garrett is the man in charge of a state agency managing millions and millions of taxpayer dollars. Remember what happened in 2015? He failed for two weeks to share updated numbers with a workgroup trying to put together a transportation package. It killed the deal. And he purposefully misled legislators about problems at ODOT or he didn’t know the seriousness of the mistakes his department makes. Is it any wonder Oregonians are suspicious of state government?
Editorial: State should invest in OSU-Cascades
Investing in the campus equals investing in the future of Oregon. It could help move more of the state from a resource-based economy to a technology and medical base. Central Oregon can be the tip of that future. But the region is underserved by higher education opportunities. It is underserved by the advanced workforce training needed.
Editorial: Where a ‘home for everyone’ collides with ‘not in my neighborhood’
The Oregonian Editorial Board
A city-commissioned report by Johnson Economics warned that the proposed cap would make building in Portland less profitable, thereby discouraging builders and resulting in fewer new units built in Portland than under current laws. Considering that Portland is in a crisis because the housing supply is already tens of thousands of units short, it makes no sense to adopt a cap that would further crimp supply.
Editorial: Filling a tech need
Oregon Tech should take a bow for seeing a serious need and devising a practical program to help meet it, as should the businesses supporting the new program.
Editorial: A homeless kid in every classroom
The state Department of Education reported on Nov. 15 that 22,541 students in Oregon schools were homeless last year, or 3.9 percent of the entire public school population. That’s nearly one child in 25. That’s one per classroom.
Editorial: Republican tax plans could hurt Oregon college students
The Republican tax plans making their way through Congress would hurt Oregon college students, especially ones who attend private, nonprofit schools.
Column: Thankful for the rich
Elizabeth Hovde, The Oregonian
Do the rich benefit from this tax plan? Yes. Tax cuts will hit people who pay the most taxes. Cutting income taxes for lower-income families, who already have no income-tax burden, isn’t possible.
Guest: The time to prepare for winter is now
Seth Crawford, Crook County Judge
It’s also critically important that every citizen keeps emergency supplies in their home. The State of Oregon recommends that every Oregonian have a minimum of two weeks of food, water, prescription medication and basic necessities on hand at all times. In addition to these supplies, it is important to have alternative cooking and heating sources.
Guest: Emissions cap boosts kids’ health
Joel Nigg, OHSU
I support strategies like the Clean Energy Jobs bill to protect our air for the next generation. Kids raised with healthy air learn better. With so many challenges to their development, it only makes sense to fix what we can. That will help them be better able to focus, and over time should reduce their problems with attention and self-regulation that are important for success in school. Healthier, more successful children are the ultimate investment. They become healthier, more successful adults, with better occupational outcomes and fewer problems with the judicial or other systems.
Oregon Politicians Divided on Issue of Net Neutrality
Two of Oregon’s most powerful politicians have spoken out in favor and against recent federal action to begin repealing online net neutrality regulations established during the Obama administration. Net neutrality describes open access to the internet, requiring service providers to offer free and equal access to online material. The Federal Communications Commission moved Tuesday to begin repealing the restrictions, which could enable big internet carriers to charge extra for online services such as Netflix.
Tax cuts, government shutdown on Congress’ agenda as Christmas deadline looms
The crush of unfinished business facing lawmakers when they return to the Capitol would be daunting even if Washington were functioning at peak efficiency. It’s an agenda whose core items — tax cuts, a potential government shutdown, lots of leftover spending bills — could unravel just as easily as advance in factionalism, gamesmanship and a toxic political environment.