Murmurs: Business Lobby Taps Mark Johnson, Creating a Job Opportunity for House Democrats

Willamette Week

Oregon’s newly formed and largest business lobbying group, Oregon Business Industry, will name its first executive director Oct. 6 Sources tell WW the pick is state Rep. Mark Johnson (R-Hood River). Johnson now has the task of knitting together the remnants of the two groups that merged this year to form OBI: the moderate Oregon Business Association and the more conservative Associated Oregon Industries. A moderate who has often worked with Democrats on education, Johnson is well-placed to do that. But Johnson’s departure from the House would also be a gift to Democrats, who outnumber Republicans by 2,200 voters in the four-term incumbent’s district. Coupled with the departure of another moderate Republican who holds a seat in a blue district, state Rep. Knute Buehler (R-Bend), who’s running for governor, Johnson’s new job could help give Democrats the super-majority they need to pass new taxes on a party-line vote. Johnson declined to comment. OBI board chairman Sam Tannahill says nobody’s been offered the job yet.


Capitol roundup: Time’s up for tax vote

Bend Bulletin

October is usually the quietest month of the year in the Capitol — but not this year. Thursday is the make-or-break deadline for backers of Referendum 301 to turn in signatures to qualify the initiative for the Jan. 23 special election ballot. The referendum would overturn a $530 million health provider tax that is earmarked for funding health care for low-income residents.

Other news around Oregon and beyond:


Brown, Buehler disagree on impact of laws on mass shootings

Bend Bulletin

Both Brown and Buehler called the Las Vegas shootings a “tragedy” and thanked first responders for saving as many lives as they could. But on the ability of legislation to stem future gun violence, their views diverged.


War of Words (and Signatures) Heats Up as Republicans Near Deadline to Repeal a Health Care Provider Tax

Willamette Week

Temperatures are running hot over Referendum 301, a GOP attempt to repeal part of a health care provider tax passed by the Legislature in July. Voter signatures for the referral are due Oct. 5—and could trigger a statewide special election. Proponents of the repeal, led by Reps. Julie Parrish (R-West Linn) and Cedric Hayden (R-Roseburg), complain their opponents, led by Our Oregon, are spying on their signature-gathering efforts and calling their supporters “bigots and extremists.”


Oregon DHS, child welfare leaders optimistic after shake-ups

Statesman Journal

In their first meeting since a series of leadership shake-ups, Oregon Department of Human Services directors expressed optimistic goals in the face of some budget cuts and looming challenges for the agency. “Our interest is to have safe, healthy, independent Oregonians,” DHS Director Fariborz Pakseresht said Tuesday. “I think we all share that.”




Multnomah County Is Pressing for Big Changes in Portland’s Response to 911 Medical Calls. That Doesn’t Sit Well with Powerful Unions.

Willamette Week

Sometimes it’s necessary: Car crashes, heart attacks and other life-threatening incidents require an emergency response. But nearly a third of the 90,000 annual calls for medical service, according to Multnomah County, are not emergencies and do not require a response by firefighters. Doctors in the county health department want to address this puzzling and expensive anomaly. To do so, they are picking a fight with one of the city’s most unassailable powers—Portland Fire & Rescue—and one of the city’s most embattled agencies: the Bureau of Emergency Communications.




Portland Public Schools won’t displace KairosPDX

Portland Tribune

The next version of Portland Public Schools’ boundary proposal for Northeast Portland will keep KairosPDX charter school, a program that caters to African-American students, in the historic heart of Portland’s black community.


Bend-La Pine enrollment grows in fall 2017

Bend Bulletin

Bend-La Pine Schools has grown again this school year, gaining 341 new students in fall 2017. The increase brings the district’s total enrollment to 18,375 students and returns the school district to its trend of growing about 2 percent each year. Last year, Bend-La Pine officials were surprised when the district grew closer to 3 percent from 2015-16 to 2016-17. Continued growth of the school district brings both “opportunities and some logistical challenges,” Mikalson said in the district’s release.


District sues middle schooler who trashed classroom — and his parents — for up to $19k

The Oregonian

The district accuses the mother and stepfather of failing to “exercise reasonable control” over their son. The suit claims the boy had accumulated a dozen disciplinary marks at Crossler Middle School in the eight months leading up to the damage and at least two behavioral episodes prompted calls home.


Oregon State considers renaming some buildings over possible racist views

The Associated Press

“This isn’t about revising history or hiding history or taking something away,” said Scott Vignos, director of strategic initiatives in the Office of Institutional Diversity. “It’s about revealing history. It’s about learning about our past and drawing lessons from that past.”




Recreational fishing closures devastate Oregon businesses

The Oregonian

There was no warning, we weren’t able to plan for it,” Blanchard said. Notice of the closure did come abruptly. The press release from ODFW about the closure came out Tuesday, Sept. 12, and the fishery was closed by Sept. 18. “This has been an absolutely devastating hit to us. We went from the busiest time of year, where we make money that pays our bills and keeps our employees paid, to losing 90 percent of our overall income within about 36 hours,” Rob Gensorek owner of Basin Tackle said.




A Developer Dangles the Possibility of 500 Affordable Apartments—in Exchange for the Right to Build Downtown Skyscrapers

Willamette Week

Now a Portland-based real estate investment and development company has arrived at City Hall with a proposal to crowd the skyline with skyscrapers as tall as 40 stories on the downtown waterfront. In exchange, it’s offering to build up to 500 affordable apartments with no public cash. All it wants is the rights to the sky.


Portland housing emergency and renter protections up for extension at Portland City Council

The Oregonian

“A declared housing emergency certainly has a focusing impact on government and stakeholders,” Cox said. “It’s an important organizing tool and motivational tool.” Setting a clear priority for city and county leaders has encouraged increased funding for housing and homeless issues, Portland Housing Bureau Director Kurt Creager said.




Dentists take bite out of opioid epidemic

Portland Tribune

Regarding the opioid-abuse epidemic, the news these days often seems all bad. But quietly, and without spending a dime, Multnomah County has slashed in half the number of pain pills prescribed at dental health clinics serving 25,000 low-income patients a year.. The change — largely unheralded outside government board rooms — will undoubtedly help protect community members from an addictive epidemic that kills 142 Americans every day.




Clark County Removes Confederate Monument From Historic Registry

Oregon Public Broadcasting

After nearly two hours of public testimony Tuesday night, all six commissioners voted to remove a Confederate monument from the Clark County Heritage Register. The commissioners ultimately decided that the monument — which sits on private property near Ridgefield, Washington, off Interstate 5 — failed to meet the criteria for consideration as a local heritage site. “I just don’t see where the historical tie is,” said Clark County Historic Preservation Commission member Alex Gall. “This plaque does not really fit or speak to Clark County.”




Oregon Rep. Greg Walden Questions Former Equifax CEO

Oregon Public Broadcasting

“It’s like the guards at Fort Knox forgot to lock the doors and failed to notice the thieves were emptying the vaults,” Walden said. “The American people deserve to know what went wrong. We want a clear timeline of events, and what to expect moving forward.” Walden and other members of the committee pressed Smith on how Equifax checked its security measures between when the hack happened in May and when the public became aware in August.


Wyden seeks voting machine info

The Associated Press

In a letter Tuesday to the CEOs of top election technology firms, Sen. Ron Wyden writes that public faith in American election infrastructure is “more important than ever before.” “Ensuring that Americans can trust that election systems and infrastructure are secure is necessary to protecting confidence in our electoral process and democratic government,” writes Wyden, an Oregon Democrat.




Guest: Secretary Richardson should keep his personal beliefs personal

Jeanne Atkins is chair of the Democratic Party of Oregon

Here is where The Oregonian is right: I speak as chair of the Democratic Party of Oregon, which opposed Mr. Richardson’s election and will hope to unseat him in the future. They are also correct that additional reasons, such as his questionable mission to lead a trade delegation to China, are worthy of criticism. Those, too, will be campaign issues. But we will also oppose him precisely because of his insensitivity to the effect that this expression of “personal beliefs” has on those who he supervises and those who he serves. In a state that values tolerance and diversity, it is shocking that a statewide official would publicly call an entire segment of the population “not moral.” The Democratic Party will stand up for those affected by such statements each and every time.


Editorial: Popular vote group’s attack on Courtney undercuts its own argument

Bend Bulletin

The Bulletin editorial board has repeatedly opposed the National Popular Vote because it’s a dangerous, over-simplified response to the notion that the Electoral College is in conflict with the bedrock “one man, one vote” premise of voting. In fact, the Electoral College is a critical tool to balance the influence of high-population states, preventing rural areas from being ignored. The same principle operates in U.S. Senate elections, where each state has two, despite significant differences in population.Such a momentous change in the way we elect the nation’s presidents deserves to be considered by Oregon’s voters rather than decided by its lawmakers.


Editorial: Central Oregon does not need another historic canal

Bend Bulletin

Two important stretches of COID canals have already been declared historic. How many more historic stretches does Central Oregon need? One is a short stretch in Redmond. It will be primarily just a water feature. The main flow of the canal will actually be piped nearby. The second is at Brasada Ranch. Old wood structures still exist. The plan is to make both sites easily accessible to the public and set up kiosks or signs to explain the historic significance.

That’s surely enough to mark the historic significance of canals in Central Oregon. The goal should be to ensure more water is used efficiently, not to declare more old ditches as historic ditches.



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