First of a three part series presented by former State Representative Mike Nearman studying the Oregon Constitution.
The River Church
4675 Portland Rd NE Salem
The Oregon Constitution
Wednesday, March 1, 2023 at 7:00 pm
Second of a three part series presented by former State Representative Mike Nearman studying the Oregon Constitution.
The River Church
4675 Portland Rd NE Salem
The Oregon Constitution
Wednesday, March 8, 2023 at 7:00 pm
Third of a three part series presented by former State Representative Mike Nearman studying the Oregon Constitution.
The River Church
4675 Portland Rd NE Salem
We Are Stronger Together
Monday, March 27, 2023 at 10:00 am
Oregon's Natural Resources & Industries (ONRI) is sponsoring the rally to meet legislators and influencers to bring light on legislation affecting natural resource industries, their families, and their communities. https://onri.us/events
The new Senate Minority Leader leans on the Governor.
Newly minted Senate Minority Leader, Fred Girod (R-Lyons) boldly asked the Governor to reconsider her stringent prerequisites for opening up economic activity in the state.
In a letter, the Majority Leader pointed out that her policy "disproportionately impacts Oregon counties that have not seen a single case." He also reminds her that these counties may not have the financial resources to comply.
"While you acknowledged that Oregonians did what they needed to do to slow the spread of COVID-19 [you] failed to address the fact that Oregonians have been begging to get back to work for weeks."
This letter is just the latest in what has been increasing political and public pressure to ease economic restrictions on weary Oregonians.
The governors and several legislative leaders from several western states have written a lettter to federal congressional leaders "respectfully, and urgently, requesting $1 trillion in direct and flexible relief to states and local governments."
These numbers are huge, and it's not clear to some observers if they are intended to be taken literally, nor what is the proposed source of funds. The federal debt is currently over $25 trillion. Critics are quick to point out that the damage done to the economy has not been done so much by the virus as by the government response to the virus.
One trillion dollars dwarfs the annual budgets of these states. Even the largest state in the union, the State of California, for instance, spent a total of $265,894,000 (over $265 million or about just a little over a quarter of a trillion dollars) in 2016, the latest year for which statistics are posted.
Addressed to Speaker Pelosi, Leader McConnell, Leader McCarthy, and Leader Schumer, the letter goes on to say, "Even states that began the year in a strong fiscal position are facing staggering deficits amid growing costs of responding to the crisis. With unemployment projected to surpass that of the Great Recession, we are facing unprecedented and ongoing economic challenges." With several governors under pressure to re-open the economy in their respective states, it would seem that this kind of recognition of the financial impact would make that decision easier.
Interestingly, with individuals and businesses being hardest hit by the government-induced COVID-19 recession, the relief is requested for the support of government programs, claiming that "our states will be forced to make deep cuts to programs that
help those same individuals without similar relief efforts for state and local governments." There is no plea for direct aid to individuals and businesses.
With the sole exception of the California State Assembly Minority Leader, all of the signers are Democrats. The signers include:
Gavin Newsom (D), Governor of California
Toni Atkins (D), President Pro Tempore of the California State Senate
Anthony Rendon (D), Speaker of the California State Assembly
Marie Waldron (R), Minority Leader of the California State Assembly
Jared Polis (D), Governor of Colorado
Leroy Garcia (D), President of the Colorado State Senate
Steve Fenberg (D), Majority Leader of the Colorado State Senate
KC Becker (D), Speaker of the Colorado House of Representatives
Alec Garnett (D), Majority Leader of the Colorado House of Representatives
Kate Brown (D), Governor of Oregon
Tina Kotek (D) Speaker of the Oregon House of Representatives
Peter Courtney (D), President of the Oregon Senate
Steve Sisolak (D), Governor of Nevada
Nicole Cannizzaro (D), Majority Leader of the Nevada Senate
Jay Inslee (D), Governor of Washington
Andy Billig (D), Majority Leader of the Washington State Senate
Laurie Jinkins (D), Speaker of the Washington House of Representative
Jason Frierson (D), Speaker of the Nevada State Assembly
The situation escalated this week when the Interim House Conduct Committee implemented safety measures against Hernandez. The measures include no-contact orders for all of Hernandez’s accusers, as well as requiring him to give at least 24 hours notice before coming to the Capitol.
Fellow Portland Democrat, House Speaker Tina Kotek, was one of the first to call for his resignation.
"I am deeply concerned that members of the broader Capitol community feel unsafe or subject to retaliation by Rep. Hernandez. I want those individuals to know they did the right thing by coming forward, and I am grateful to the House Conduct Committee for taking swift action to impose the measures they deemed necessary to address immediate safety concerns," Kotek said in a statement.
"The House Conduct Committee’s action today is a very serious development. I believe Rep. Hernandez should resign from the Legislature and focus completely on getting the support he needs."
Some responses to these allegations were a bit harsher.
One critic on social media said “(Rep. Hernandez is) one of the most useless legislators of all time. When he opens his mouth in committee, its guaranteed to be one thing, and one thing only: pure race baiting. Everything we hear from him outside of committee, is some sort of sexual deviance targeted at capitol staff or the females in the lobby. He has no business in elected office.”
This is not the first time Hernandez has been under investigation, in fact, far from it.
More seriously, and more recently, Hernandez was accused of domestic violence by David Douglas School Board member and then roommate Andrea Valderrama.
In a March 3 filing with Multnomah County Circuit Court, Valderrama alleged that Hernandez was heavily intoxicated when he engaged in threatening and violent behavior towards her.
The filing states "he usually mixes alcohol, narcotic pills, and marijuana. This use leads to violent outbursts and unpredictability."
Valderrama recounts that the two had gone dancing before the June 21st incident. “He took pill and drank three very strong drinks”. The filing describes that when Hernandez discovered Valderrama dancing with other people, he became angry and after leaving yelled at her for hours.
The filing goes on to say, "this behavior escalated to physical violence when he threw his phone at me… he also threw another object at me that was on the table."
A text-message apology from Hernandez to Valderrama is included in the filing. “I’m sorry. I promise I wont mix alcohol and drugs like that again,” one of the text messages read.
Hernandez has repeatedly denied all the allegations that have been raised against him.
In 2017 Hernandez issued a statement where he denied keeping a list of female lobbyists ranked by their appearance. "I strongly believe that I was targeted not only because of the color of my skin, but also because of the issues I fight for," he stated.
In response to the domestic violence allegations Hernandez told reporters, "It’s important for me to say unequivocally that I refute the characterizations that are in the petition, both of my actions and my personality."
Valderrama has since agreed to a dismissal of her filing after what she described as intimidation tactics from Hernandez and citing concerns for the personal safety of her and her daughter.
“I have no idea what the concerns raised are or by whom," he stated. “I do know that there has been an organized campaign against me recently to get me out of the office I was duly elected to".
"Regardless of the personal pain that this organized campaign, designed to force me out of office has caused: I will continue to use this process and my life to fight for justice and will do so not just for me but all Oregonians including my faceless accusers and the powerful enemies I unfortunately seem to have made for myself".
Sometime between the evening of Tuesday, May 5th, and the early morning hours on Wednesday, May 6th, the Douglas County Republican Party Headquarters were vandalized. In addition to cracking or shattering five of the headquarters' windows and damaging equipment inside the office, the vandals spray-painted the message "Kill Trump", which, the party says, could be a violation of federal law. Law enforcement, including the U.S. Secret Service, is on the case.
This is the fourth time in six months that this office has been vandalized and, this time, repairs are estimated to total approximately $5,000. The party is hopeful that the state is beginning to open up again soon and feel it is important to be available to voters who want to learn more about the Republicans and candidates in Douglas County, as well at the state and national levels.
The Douglas County Republican Party is asking for help in covering the cost of repairing the damage that has been done.
If should you have any questions about what happened or any other questions about the county party, the important issues this election, and our candidates, you can call (541) 673-5057.
Many people in Marion County are suffering right now
During its regular weekly board session on Wednesday, May 6, 2020, the Marion County Board of Commissioners adopted a resolution for beginning to reopen businesses, restaurants, churches, and county parks. Phase 1 of the community roadmap for reopening will begin on May 15. According to Commission Chair Colm Willis, "Many people in Marion County are suffering right now. This plan ensures first and foremost, the safety of the people of Marion County and fairness for our families and small businesses"
Working closely with our county Health and Human Services experts, local leaders, and regional public health partners, the roadmap is based on the Governor’s guidelines for reopening counties across the state. Commissioner Willis adds, "In our case, the roadmap is tailored to fit the specific needs of our communities. We have worked hard with state and regional partners to prepare a thoughtful, balanced approach to supporting a safe, strong, and thriving Marion County."
In Phase 1, the roadmap proposes reopening several types of businesses and services, keeping in place sanitation protocols and specific limits on physical distancing, face coverings, and crowd size until public health monitoring shows it is safe to move to later phases. Hospital visits will remain prohibited at this time, as will night clubs and most large venues.
Monitoring community health and safety is very important as the limited, phased reopening gets underway. Marion County Public Health Director Katrina Rothenberger is leading efforts to protect public health during the COVID-19 pandemic and observes that, "Local hospitals have ample capacity today and much more so than a few weeks ago when the virus first arrived in Oregon." She goes on to add, "As businesses and other sectors begin to reopen, we will closely track new cases of the virus and will take immediate action if we see an unacceptable increase in new cases and hospitalizations." Meanwhile, the roadmap has very specific details about what types of preventive measures are required for each type of business, venue, and activity.
Marion County is committed to working with the Governor's office, local healthcare providers, and other community partners to update and refine the roadmap as needed.
If you’re locked up at home and can’t fight COVID-19, at least you can spend some time doing math.
Everyone is caught up with all the stress of dealing with the health and economic fallout of the COVID-19 outbreak. Perhaps it’s too early to start number crunching and doing some objective analysis. But if the state isn’t going to let me go to work, I’ll play the "idle hands" card and start the conversation.
Let me first say, it’s an awful disease. I can’t imagine the horror of suffering or dying from any respiratory disease. My heart goes out to those who have died and those who have lost loved ones.
Likewise, it’s an awful thing the government has done to the economy. May we all survive both.
It’s axiomatic to say this will be devastating to Oregon’s economy. How devastating is not yet known, but’s not inconceivable the impact might cause the state gross domestic product to take a hit in the range of 30 to 50 percent. In a state that is highly — perhaps disproportionately dependent on income tax, such an economic hit will almost certainly impact government at the same rate.
So, at a time when revenues are certainly, reasonably expected to plummet, it’s fair to ask what steps the state is preparing to take to limit expenditures.
One of the industries that is arguably the most impacted, if not the most visible, is the restaurant and bar industry. This industry is host to much of the lottery activity in Oregon, so I would think it would be reasonable for the Oregon Lottery to quickly cut staff.
I asked them about their plans and received this response on April 28:
"Executive team staff are currently working to identify furloughs, layoffs and salary reductions in their areas. We’re looking for the right balance between fiscal responsibility and maintenance of critical work. Those plans should be finalized later this week, and communicated to staff shortly after that. We know the situation is constantly evolving, so our plans may need to adjust as new information becomes available."
In other words, we’re starting to start to think about possible reductions.
"Thank you for continuing to hold. The operator may offer you a position in the Employment Department, which will invalidate the claim for which you’re holding. To continue to hold, press 1."
There’s more hiring elsewhere in state government. In a May 1 press release, Gov. Brown announced her "contact-tracing plan sets a goal of training at least 600 contact tracers" (Emphasis mine). These contact tracers are not just your garden-variety, off-the-shelf contact tracers, either. The plan has "a focus on recruiting individuals with cultural and linguistic competence for the populations they serve," which certainly increases their price.
The headline for this post promised some math, which means I’m not going to get out of this article without doing some, so here goes. The Legislative Fiscal Office uses the figure of $250,000 per biennium as an estimate for the cost of hiring a new employee. That includes salary, benefits, overhead, a computer, a cubicle, a boss, etc., so if you divide the biennial cost by two, that means $125,000 per year.
Multiply that times 600 workers and you get a cool $75 million. That doesn’t even count the new Employment Department hires.
Just so you know, 1.75 percent of that $75 million or — even more math — over $1.3 million goes to union dues, just in time for the November elections.
Maybe we can just use the guys from the Oregon Lottery as contact tracers.
With a note of caution, Governor Brown said, "As we begin to slowly open up recreation sites, state parks, and ski areas, it is critical we ensure the health and safety of staff, volunteers, and the public. And that begins with each of us taking personal responsibility to be good stewards of our parks, and each other."
Reopening outdoor recreation areas will be a phased approach as it becomes safe for some communities and recreational providers to do so, and will change the way that Oregonians visit some familiar sites. Columbia River Gorge parks and recreation areas, as well as coastal areas that are not yet ready to welcome visitors back, will remain closed for now, while the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department coordinates with local jurisdictions and partners in Washington to determine the appropriate timing for reopening.
Guidelines for responsible outdoor recreation include:
Limit your recreation activities, and recreate only with people in your own household.
Check what’s open before leaving home. Your favorite trail or camp site may remain closed, or need to be closed on a temporary basis, to prevent crowding and protect public health.
Plan ahead and come prepared as service levels may be different than you are accustomed to.
Visitors may find limited restroom services available. Plan to bring your own soap, water, hand sanitizer, and toilet paper.
Bring a mask to cover your nose and mouth. Visit less crowded areas, visit during off-peak times, and have a back-up plan.
Not feeling well? Don’t go. If you have symptoms of a fever, cough, or shortness of breath, stay home.
Governor Brown has been under intense pressure for her heavy-handed, continual closure of the state, despite signs that the epidemic is on the wane.
Critics have also pointed out that, while there is a shortage of residential style toilet paper, due to people spending more time at home, there is a surplus of the industrial style of toilet paper -- of the kind found on larger rolls used by the industrial dispensers -- typically found at public institutions like parks.
In what some observers see as a response to the mounting pressure from Oregonians to open the state, Oregon Governor Kate Brown issued some very specific "prerequisites" for "enter[ing] phase one of Reopening Oregon."
The document, released to Oregon counties, outlines seven prerequisites must be met before a county or region can enter phase one of Reopening Oregon. These prerequisites include:
Declining prevalence of COVID-19
Minimum Testing Regimen, including being able to administer COVID-19 testing at a rate of 30 per
10,000 people per week.
Contact Tracing System, including a minimum of 15 contact tracers for every 100,000 people and the county must be prepared to contact trace 95% of all new cases within 24 hours.
Isolation Facilities including hotel rooms available for people who test positive for COVID-19 and who cannot self-isolate.
Finalized Statewide Sector Guidelines.
Sufficient Health Care Capacity which means that the region must be able to accommodate a 20% increase in suspected or confirmed COVID-19 hospitalizations compared to the number of suspected or confirmed COVID19 hospitalizations in the region at the time
Executive Order No. 20-22 was issued.
Sufficient PPE Supply.
Health Regions are defined as such:
Health region 1: Clatsop, Columbia, Tillamook, Washington, Multnomah, Clackamas
Health region 2: Yamhill, Polk, Lincoln, Benton, Marion, Linn
Health regions 3 & 5: Lane, Douglas, Coos, Curry, Jackson, Josephine
Health regions 6 & 9: Hood River, Wasco, Sherman, Gilliam, Morrow, Umatilla, Union,
Wallowa, Baker, Malheur
Health region 7: Jefferson, Deschutes, Crook, Wheeler, Grant, Klamath, Lake, Harney
Oregon Governor Kate Brown begins to lose the "consent of the governed"
Well over one thousand protesters filled the steps and streets at the Oregon Capitol in Salem yesterday as people cried out for re-opening the state. One protester said, "We can't go on like this. I know lives are at stake, but if we continue to stay shut down, lives will be at stake from a different cause." Very few protesters were observed wearing masks.