GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS
Several streets around the Capitol Mall will be closed for a march and rally Monday. Student and educator groups will be gathering at the Capitol on Presidents Day for the March for Our Students, according to the Oregon Education Association. The event is scheduled to begin with a rally at 10 a.m. followed by a march at 11 a.m.
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come to feel a lot like the Central Valley of California over the next 60 years. A new analysis looking at climate projections for urban areas across the United States and Canada predict substantial changes in local temperatures and precipitation rates for Northwest cities. “We were trying to communicate these forecasts of global climate for the future into something that’s less abstract, less distant and more local and more relevant to personal experiences,” said University of Maryland ecologist Matt Fitzpatrick, co-author of the study. To do this they used the average of 27 different climate forecasts to figure out what current geographic location most resembles the future climate of a city. And their findings are presented in an interactive map. Users enter one city to see where on the map the urban area is with climate conditions today that most closely represent the selected city’s future climate conditions.
Republican Greg Warnock is hoping for a second chance to replace Senate President Peter Courtney, D-Salem. On social media, Warnock says he thinks Courtney will resign this summer, and he’s preparing for a subsequent special election to fill the seat. Courtney denied the assertion. ““It’s an honor to represent the residents of Salem, Gervais, Brooks and Woodburn. I will continue to do so,” Courtney said Thursday. Still, Warnock is soliciting campaign donations for that hypothetical election, and to pay down what he says is campaign debt from last November’s general election, when he lost his bid for the seat. Oregon campaign finance records, however, show that Warnock does not have campaign debt. At the same time, Warnock’s financial problems, which the Statesman Journal first reported on last October, have worsened.
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With little fanfare, a nearly $380 million package to help fund health care for low-income Oregonians cleared a legislative committee Friday morning with strong support from both parties. The passage in the Joint Committee on Ways and Means sets a path for the funding to clear both chambers in short order, offering some certainty in how the state will fill a nearly $922 million Medicaid funding gap in the next two years. It also signals an early-session victory on one of Gov. Kate Brown’s key priorities. Brown made health care funding a central piece of the budget proposal she rolled out last year. She says her plan — developed by a work group that included healthcare companies, business and labor — would fund the Oregon Health Plan for six years.
was 15 years old when some baseball players from Prospect Charter
School on a bus coming back from a game solicited her for naked photos.
“I want nudes,” was sent to her phone just before 8 p.m. on April 24,
2018. “Lets see it babe? For 200 maybe? Cmon spread em,” came a few
messages later. “You would … I know how you are,” another text said.
Annemarie, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, said the
texts made her feel “really confused and disappointed and upset” — then
really angry. “Trust me you don’t” she typed back. “You don’t know
sh–.” “(By the way) you gonna be reported for harassing a minor,” she
texted later. But the next day, Annemarie decided not to report the
texts to any school employees because she didn’t want word to get back
to Prospect Principal Brian Purnell. “He doesn’t take care of stuff,”
she said. “And he twists the situation almost in a sense to where he
won’t look bad, and everyone else looks bad.”
The Saudi Arabian government on Thursday offered its most forceful denial yet of allegations that it has helped Saudi students studying in the U.S. skip bail and flee the country while facing criminal charges. “The notion that the Saudi government actively helps citizens evade justice after they have been implicated in legal wrongdoing in the U.S. is not true,” said the statement issued by the Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C.
When recently retired Rep. Deborah Boone began pushing a bill in January to prevent news media “fishing expeditions” for public records, people wondered what she meant. An example of the types of requests Boone says have bothered her: one that yielded 1,800 pages of her own correspondence, released to The Oregonian/OregonLive days before the bill’s introduction. The records show the lawmaker using her state email account to intercede with state agencies on problems that affected her family. In one email, she asked for help resolving a billing issue at her home from a utility lobbyist who wanted her help on the state’s climate change bill. Senate Bill 609 was introduced by Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose, on Boone’s behalf. It would require Oregonians requesting public records like police reports, public contracts and workplace safety inspections to first provide a good reason why they want the documents. Oregon records law currently does not require people to justify their requests. Boone has since said she’s asked Johnson to let the bill die in the face of vocal opposition.
The Oregon Legislature’s efforts to combat workplace harassment in the Capitol had a quiet, but significant chapter Friday as a handful of legislators and staff met with federal officials from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in a closed-door meeting. The three-hour gathering was billed as a “listening session.” It came about because legislative staffers and others raised concerns about the sensitivity and training that the federal agency provided at the Capitol last week. Media were not allowed to listen. “Today’s listening session was to give staff the chance to inform EEOC leadership about the problems they had with last week’s training session and give advice on how trainings can be improved in the future,” Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland, said in a statement to the Statesman Journal after attending the session. “I take staff concerns seriously, appreciate those who spoke up and am committed to building a better workplace environment.”
A company in Silverton and its housing provider must pay $35,000 in penalties after an inspection found migrant farmworkers housed in filthy, rodent-infested quarters. The Oregonian/OregonLive reports the U.S. Department of Labor said Friday that its inspectors found families in “dilapidated, trash-strewn housing” at the facility. The Labor Department says the unannounced inspection found workers sleeping on mattresses on the floor. Residents reported rodents throughout the facility, according to the department, which did not say when its inspection took place. Under the Migrant and Seasonal Worker Protection Act, the department fined farm labor contractor Vasquez Family Labor Services $30,000 and issued another $5,000 in penalties against the firm’s housing provider, Jorge Vasquez.
Hundreds of texts and emails, released by the Portland Police Bureau, seem to show a friendly relationship between Lt. Jeff Niiya and Patriot Prayer leader Joey Gibson. The story was first posted by Willamette Week on Thursday, prompting Mayor Ted Wheeler to order an investigation into what he called “disturbing.” The Portland Police Bureau released a statement late Thursday night, along with a link to “all of the documents in their entirety” relating to text conversations between Niiya and Gibson. You can read the texts here. The newly released documents show hundreds of texts between Niiya and Gibson during 2017 and 2018 when multiple protests, some of which turned violent, erupted between Patriot Prayer and Antifa. In one of the texts, sent on Dec. 8, 2017, Niiya wrote to Gibson, “When you don’t get intimidated and show you care they do it no reason to do it. And yes I don’t think this will be a huge deal. I’m thinking it will be a lot like the last one. BTW, make sure Tiny has his court stuff taken care of. I was told on the radio at the Jamison Sq event he had a warrant. I told them we would not be arresting Tiny right now. So please be sure he’s good to go before coming down.”
Proposed tax would be paid by employees and businesses to generate $22.8 million a year to add and retain 126 FTEs. The Eugene City Council will consider a proposed payroll tax paid by employers and employees that would generate an estimated $22.8 million a year to pay for a massive expansion of the municipal public safety system. The proposed payroll tax is the recommendation of an advisory committee tasked last year by the council to identity long-term funding to bolster staffing and beds at the police department, municipal court, jail and through homeless outreach. City officials have said the system is under strain because staffing is not keeping up with Eugene’s growing population. Long wait times or no response by police officers to low-priority service calls has been among the most visible signs of this strain to the public.
Dry winter months aren’t usually a good sign for firefighters, but a late start to the snow season could allow the Pendleton Fire Department to actually reap some rewards over the summer. Joseph Hull, the director business development/operations for McCormack Construction Co., said the project to build a new fire station at 1455 S.E. Court Ave. is on-budget and on track to complete the new facility by the end of July. “We were blessed this year with this weather,” he said. Pendleton voters passed a $10 million bond in 2017 to primarily build the new station, and the city hired McCormack to act as the general contractor and construction manager. Hull said the foundation and roof needed to be in place before the snow arrived for the season, and given that Pendleton didn’t see significant snowfall until February, construction crews were able to have the interior sealed well before the snow touched down.
Bend Mayor Sally Russell, saying she had “never been more attacked or bullied” after choosing to appoint Chris Piper to the City Council, faced an occasionally hostile room of fellow Democrats on Valentine’s Day who questioned her decision. Russell, who defended her actions for an hour, said she had received multiple emails that said “shame on you.” “This is really difficult,” Russell said. “You are an aggressive, angry room. I am a human being.” The standing room-only crowd at the Bend Environmental Center on Thursday evening included many people who had supported other finalists for the council seat that became vacant after Russell won the city’s mayoral election. They described feeling betrayed by Russell’s decision to pick Piper, a Republican.
Statesman Journal, Rep David Brock Smith
Having been involved with the Oregon carbon conversation for a number of years; attending all of the workgroups during the 2017 interim and as a member of the House Energy and Environment Committee during the 2017 and 2018 Legislative Session, I believe we all can agree that there are changing climate conditions across our landscape. On the global scale, Oregon contributes less than one-twentieth of one percent of emissions. And so the question is, what do Oregonians do to further reduce their carbon emissions and at what cost to them? Oregonians, and their businesses and industries already are making investments on their own to reduce emissions, and they do so within their free-market policies. Prior Legislation has been passed; such as the Low Carbon Fuels Standard (LCFS), that continues to lower emissions as well. So, what’s next? I continue to have the privilege as the Co-Vice Chair of the Joint Committee on Carbon Reduction, to work with colleagues on answering these questions, and I can tell you that HB 2020 is not the answer. Fellow Committee Co-Vice Chair Sen. Cliff Bentz, R-Ontario, Chairs Karin Power, D- Milwaukie, and Sen. Michael Dembrow, D-Portland, and I worked on language for a Carbon Reduction bill for many months prior to Christmas 2018.
Oregon Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley — Democrats — are celebrating a bipartisan package of bills on public lands that passed the Senate. There’s probably something in the package that almost anyone would find worth celebrating, especially people in Crooked River Ranch. But in all the excitement about the “bipartisan” package, Wyden and Merkley seem to have forgotten someone: Rep. Greg Walden, R-Hood River. The joint news release ticks down a long list of Oregon-related changes. For instance, if the bill becomes law, there will be a new Devil’s Staircase Wilderness of 30,000 acres between the Umpqua and Smith rivers. Wyden and Merkley get mentioned throughout these Oregon accomplishments, of course. But the announcement also singles out the work of Rep. Peter DeFazio, a fellow Democrat from Springfield. They make a point of giving him credit for his work to develop a steelhead sanctuary north of the North Umpqua River. Then comes a discussion of an effort to improve wildfire protection for Crooked River Ranch. Acres near the ranch would be removed from the nearby wilderness study area. That gives the Bureau of Land Management more freedom to treat the removed area to reduce wildfire risk.
The two-party system has its flaws, and we’re no fans of the current primary election process in Oregon, which locks out non-affiliated voters. But a new proposal from Secretary of State Dennis Richardson to artificially create a party that isn’t really a party is not the answer. When most voters were Democrats or Republicans, partisan primaries worked reasonably well. Voters registered with the major parties chose nominees in the primary who then faced off in the general election open to all voters. Over the years, the number of voters disenchanted with both major parties grew. Today, neither Democrats nor Republicans represent a majority of registered voters. Non-affiliated voters — small “i” independents — outnumber Republicans 32 percent to 25.6 percent, and are closing in on Democrats, who stand at 35.4 percent. Non-affiliated voters are not to be confused with the capital “I” Independent Party of Oregon, which claims just 4.5 percent of registered voters. It’s no wonder that nearly a third of Oregon’s electorate feel shut out of the process, having to wait until the general election to choose between nominees they had no say in selecting. Richardson and Alan Zundel, a retired political science professor who ran for secretary of state in 2016 under the Green Party banner, have teamed up to propose a solution. But what would it actually accomplish?