Oregon Blog Updates
Tomorrow night, Thursday December 12th, Multnomah County Democrats can fix a mistake and elect Lakeitha Elliott as our new Chair. I hope PCPs will turn out in force on Thursday and do this. She’s a person of talent and dedication, and she has a bright future as a leader in our party. We owe it to ourselves and our county to elect her as our Chair.
(She won’t be elected just because her friends and supporters want it. If you’re a Democratic PCP in Multnomah County and want Lakeitha elected as Chair, you have to show up Thursday evening and vote.)
[Note added: The meeting will be held at the Hollywood Senior Center, 1820 NE 40th & not the new MCDems HQ. No explanation given why the change in venue.]
Two events coincided at the November 14th Multnomah County Central Democratic Committee (MCDCC) meeting. First, forty-plus new PCPs were added to the membership; these were, for the most part, people wanting to participate in the nominating convention to replace Rep Michael Dembrow (now Senator Dembrow). Second, a new Chair was elected to replace Teddy Keizer who stepped down to run for the Oregon House. The outcome of the election was that Lakeitha Elliott defeated former Chair KC Hanson.
Unfortunately, after the election, we learned that in letting the brand new PCPs vote as full members, something that has been happening for years, the MCDCC had been violating Oregon state law. Until the party files the appropriate paperwork with the county Elections department, the appointed PCPs are not members of the party or eligible to vote. No one knows how long the party has been getting this wrong, but I moved back to Portland and joined the Mult Dems in late 2007, and it was the practice then. Until last month, however, the votes of not-til-tomorrow PCPs haven’t mattered, so this issue continued to go unnoticed.
So the outcome of the Nov 14th election needs a re-do, and that will happen Thursday evening. In the meantime, a lot of anger has been generated because of the surprise outcome and the discovery that the MCDCC had been getting this wrong for many years. Accusations have been made in both directions, on one side about divisiveness, on the other about behind-the-scenes manipulation of the process. And while getting this right is important, I really hope those who are investing so much emotion into these events would take a breath and refocus on the larger picture: electing Democrats and promoting a progressive future for our cities, county and state.
Finger-pointing never works out well. Self-righteous anger usually backfires, too. No one acted in bad faith at the previous meeting; even those who errered in allowing the new PCPs to vote should be held blameless, given that we’re dealing with ORS 248.026(2) — and I’m willing to bet a lot of Oregon Democrats are going to be making themselves familiar with ORS 248 in the near future. But the point-of-law that the “selection shall take effect when the county clerk upon timely verification of eligibility, places the name of the person selected on the list of committeepersons” is something that had gone unnoticed for years, by many people, for one simple reason: it really didn’t matter.
November 14th was the first time that enough new PCPs were improperly allowed to vote and that those votes made the difference in a crucial matter. Few things that PCPs vote on at Central Committee meetings get less than a unanimous vote. Some, like resolutions on the party’s stand on matters of public and political policy, do have closer votes. I can’t recall any that might have passed by just a few votes on a night when enough new PCPs were added to the membership to make a decisive difference. It’s possible that has occurred, but good luck figuring out if or when.
And frankly, it doesn’t really matter. Resolutions mean more to party members than others, including, to a large degree, candidates. Those seeking office take their lead from their own beliefs and goals, followed by what their paid consultants advise them on, what they think their major backers will support (including volunteers), and, way down the list, what the official stand of their political party might be. The overwhelming view of the PCPs of the Mult Co Dems is to oppose the CRC, but most of the Democrats serving in the Legislature voted for it during the 2013 session.
So for local Dems to get in high dudgeon over an understandable mistake in process is ridiculous. Internecine fighting about who said what to whom is one of the few ways Democrats in Oregon’s biggest, bluest county will be able to lose their edge in winning close races in 2014. People need to set aside their bitterness, no matter how justified they feel in their anger, and focus on the bigger picture.
I’m hoping those who feel that Lakeitha has been ill-treated — and make no mistake, she was; but so, too, was KC, both deprived of a fair result — will refocus on what matters: getting Lakeitha elected as Chair in the appropriate manner. Those who want to show her their support have to do one thing: turn up at next week’s MCDCC meeting and vote. PCPs who support Elliott have to turn up, and they need to bring one or two other PCPs with them. This is not, as The Skanner headline tried to suggest, a matter of race. This is a much smaller issue, one of differing perspectives, some personal agendas, and, in the end, trying to correct a very regrettable mistake.
The best outcome is to reaffirm the election of Lakeitha Elliott. She’s qualified, and she’s ready to move forward. The party needs young people like her to step into leadership, and she’s got the vision, the skills and the energy to help us extend our reach into the community while continuing to win elections within the county and across the state.
If you’re a Democratic PCP, show up tomorrow night at the MCDems’ HQ on SE Sandy. Cast your vote for Lakeitha (or Tracee Larson, or another candidate; just vote, dude) and let’s fix this mistake so we can move forward.
On December 10th of last year, Jenna Passalacqua wasn't feeling the Christmas spirit. She wasn't going to get a tree and was planning to keep the whole holiday on the down low. But her mom, Cindy Yuille, had a different idea. She left a Christmas tree and a box of ornaments and lights at Jenna's doorstep to surprise her and lift her spirits.
That's just the kind of person Cindy was. "She was kind and generous and accepting of people", Jenna said when I sat down with her and Cindy's husband Robert Yuille earlier this week.
A day after leaving the Christmas surprise for her daughter, Cindy was shot and killed by a masked gunman, the first victim in the shooting at Clackamas Town Center.
Jenna Passalaqua and Robert Yuille/Photo by Carla Axtman
Jenna and Robert keep Cindy's spirit alive. A picture of Cindy with Robert and his son Hunter is displayed in their dining room. The kitchen that Cindy lovingly decorated remains intact, the bright and warm atmosphere evidence of her personal touch. When Jenna and Robert talk about Cindy and the kind of woman she was, they smile and sometimes look off into the distance, as if they can see her standing nearby in the room.
"We would have been married eight years in November," Robert said. "She was about as normal as it gets. She was a good cook, she sewed, she did all the painting in here, she was a gardener. She was a very intelligent woman." Their life together was very active. "We hiked, we skied, we camped, we boogie boarded and traveled." They traveled all over the world, in fact. And Cindy was the organizer, he said.
Jenna remembers her mom as a stay at home parent who was deeply involved with her school and activities. Cindy was well known because of her visibility in the community. But Cindy was also a woman who took initiative. When they lived in San Diego during the 90s, the city didn't have a recycling program. Cindy went around and collected all the neighbor's cans and got them recycled herself. When they moved to Oregon, she petitioned Fred Meyer to carry organic milk before having an organic section was the thing to do.
"She was absolutely incredible," Jenna said. "She just did it all. She was a very strong woman who stood up for what she believed in."
Cindy's family lost her to a terrible act of gun violence. An act that may very well have been prevented. It's loss that's felt very, very deeply.
Jenna's op-ed in yesterday's Oregonian says much about the loss they feel:
In the United States we are free and proud to speak our minds, go where we please and own guns if we want. Until my mom was murdered, I didn’t think twice about feeling safe in a mall, school or movie theater.
But in 365 days, I’ve become a different person. I’m driven to take action. Gun violence left a gaping hole in my family, tore apart our community and showed us we aren’t immune.
But even this horrific, high profile act of gun violence hasn't moved the Oregon Legislature to action. Last session, four gun safety bills were scuttled during the session. Even a bill to close a background check loophole went by the wayside, leaving the door wide open for those with a history of violence or with a serious mental illness to have access to guns.
With 75% of Oregon GUN OWNERS in favor of background checks, this lack of action is ludicrous in the extreme. Not to mention shameful.
More from Jenna's op-ed:
I’m working with Oregon Alliance to Prevent Gun Violence and Mayors Against Illegal Guns to combat gun violence because while no single solution will prevent all massacres, we can still prevent more families from experiencing this grief.
While Oregon already requires background checks on guns bought from dealers or at gun shows, private gun sales create a dangerous loophole that caters to criminals, the seriously mentally ill, and other dangerous individuals. Background checks help prevent those people from getting guns — and they’re supported by 81 percent of Oregonians.
A wonderfully smart, gifted woman was ripped from her family. An obviously troubled young man was able to gain access to weapons that weren't locked away out of his reach. And even if you believe that an off-duty security guard stopped the shooter because he was carrying a gun, an open question for many, that wouldn't have saved Cindy Yuille.
"My mom was killed with the first bullet that was shot. So even if there was some 'good guy with a gun', that wouldn't have stopped my mom from being killed.", Jenna said. "She would still be dead."
"We need to stop the first shot from being fired, " said Robert.
While the Oregon Legislature hasn't managed to take action, the community-at-large has. Jenna and Robert say they are incredibly grateful for all the support they've received following Cindy's murder. "All the people that have donated things to us, those things have actually got to us", Robert said. "It's really helped our family and our home, and it's very much appreciated."
A candlelight vigil will be held this evening at dusk in the open area near the Clackamas Town Center Cinemas, in remembrance of those who were murdered on December 11, 2012.
Today, the Federal Reserve issued new guidelines to Wall Street banks. Despite two years of lobbying, the banks lost the fight to Senators Jeff Merkley and Carl Levin (D-MI).
The new rules - known as the "Volcker Rule" (and somewhat more formally as Merkley-Levin) - basically tell Wall Street banks that they can't do high-risk hedge fund trading with depositors' money. They can risk their own money ("proprietary trading") on high-risk bets, but they can't do it with your money. In short, a modern 21st-century Glass-Steagall law.
Correction: I had this a little bit wrong. Under the Volcker Rule, they can't even risk their own money on high-risk bets, because even that would put the institution (and it's depositors' money) at risk of big losses. In other words, it's even better than I thought!
It's exactly this sort of risky betting, particularly on commercial default swaps on crappy mortgages, that led to the 2008 financial meltdown.
Writing for the New Republic, David Dayen notes that Merkley's victory was unexpected:
The tougher rule is a pleasant surprise, given how reliably Wall Street lobbyists have gutted such efforts in the past. For once, the hard work of members of Congress, advocates, and the public actually produced something that could work.
To be sure, these sorts of regulations are never a "walk away and pat yourself on the back" sort of done deal. As Merkley told the Huffington Post's Zach Carter, he'll stay on the case and make sure that enforcement stands up to the rules.
"Whatever the ink on the page now says, the key is vigilant regulatory enforcement," Merkley said, "and if we don't have that, then all of this will come to naught."
When asked whether the rule would be enough to prevent a future crisis, Merkley was cautiously optimistic.
"I feel it's so much better than the earlier drafts. Whether the firewall will hold up for five years or 10 years, I don't know that. It'll depend upon how the regulators apply the rules. But the rules give them a good standard to use, and do create hope that we've channeled this huge systemic risk out of the big banks."
It's been a heady couple of months for Senator Merkley - with historic wins on the filibuster, ENDA, and now the Volcker Rule. And his opponents say he hasn't accomplished much. Ha. Is there a Senator that's accomplished more this year?
For months now, Governor John Kitzhaber's insistence that he was undecided about running for re-election had seemed to be growing in intensity.
But today, the Governor made his intentions clear: He's running for a fourth term.
According to the O's Harry Esteve, he identified four goals for his fourth and final term: "Adequately funding education, overseeing the implementation of the state's health care reforms, working to meet Oregon's carbon reduction goals, and boosting middle-class jobs."
Those first two have certainly been getting plenty of oxygen lately -- with tax reform (including, perhaps, a sales tax) as the key driver of education funding, and of course, the botched rollout of the private exchange marketplace, Cover Oregon. (As opposed to Oregon's Medicaid expansion under ObamaCare, which has been rocking it -- dropping our uninsured rate by some 10-12% already.)
In his third term, Kitzhaber has looked very much like a man who spent eight years in the wilderness thinking about all the things that he'd do differently if he had another shot at the job.
Governing magazine just named him one of their "public officials of the year", the only Governor honored with that distinction this year.
He's already drawn two opponents, a rich guy named Jon Justesen; and Rep. Dennis Richardson, the spam king. Both of them would be disasters for Oregon.
So, Governor, you're in. I'm in. Let's go!
Update: Added the announcement video from the Governor.
One of the things I enjoy about contributing to BlueOregon is the fact that I have a platform with which I can raise awareness about things that I think matter. Last week, I did so with a petition telling the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to end Clear Channel's license to broadcast KPOJ (Click through on that link and sign it, please). The reason? From the FCC's website:
In exchange for obtaining a valuable license to operate a broadcast station using the public airwaves, each radio and television licensee is required by law to operate its station in the “public interest, convenience and necessity.” This means that it must air programming that is responsive to the needs and problems of its local community of license.
To do so, each station licensee must affirmatively identify those needs and problems and then specifically treat those local matters that it deems to be significant in the news, public affairs, political and other programming that it airs.
A year ago, Clear Channel yanked the only commercial progressive talk format at KPOJ in favor of adding a third sports radio station in Portland. While Portland is a sport's town, it's at least as much of a progressive town. Seems to me a pretty clear violation of Clear Channel's responsibility to the public for their use of our publicly-owned airwaves.
Will the FCC listen? Doubtful. They're historically not terribly responsive to their oversight role. But if they don't, we'll have thousands of signatures from people who stood up and demanded this change. We can take that power and use it to ask our elected representatives in DC to take a hard look at the way the FCC does business.
I suppose I could just sit around on my ass and gripe about these issues instead of actually attempting to do something about it. That's apparently what the avalanche of naysayers and others who grouse at me would prefer. It's much easier to be a keyboard commando who lobs verbal bombs from the safety of a cushy computer chair than to do any kind of real work to lay the groundwork for change.
That's where you come in. Take action and sign the petition. This is an opportunity for us to create a real discussion around an entrenched problem. And that can lead to important, substantive action. We have to make it start somewhere. Let's do it here.
And now, let's Span the State!
A very important and very ugly story is brewing within the Clatskanie School District. Last August, three families filed suit against the district saying that a principal and other administration officials failed to take action against ongoing physical and sexual harassment. A fourth family just joined the suit. Girls at the Clastskanie Middle-High School were allegedly pressured by boys to send nude photos of themselves to boyfriends, which were then passed around throughout the school. As a result, harassment and bullying toward the girls escalated. What happened to these girls, even after their parents tried to intervene, is disgusting and horrible. It's a story that forces us to take stock of our communities and our values...and shows us how much work we still have to do to eliminate this kind of behavior.
The City of Eugene is hoping to capitalize on the desire for bicycle commuting. They've applied for an almost $1 million grant through the Oregon Department of Transportation to launch a public bike share program. The program would include 170 bikes and 24 stations throughout downtown Eugene. Oregon is a pioneer in bike sharing, with Portland hosting one of the first community bicycle programs in the country back in 1994.
Central Oregon is on an economic rise. According to the Central Oregon business index (a project developed by the Bend Bulletin newspaper and the University of Oregon’s College of Arts and Sciences and Department of Economics), key economic indicators show an upswing. The index uses travel & tourism, payroll figures and home sales, among others to make the determination. The big news? A 16 percent rise in estimated lodging revenue over the same period in 2012, showing a substantial return of tourists to the area.
Nothing. Nada. Zip. That’s how much additional economic investment Oregon is getting out of the deal just inked between Intel and Governor Kitzhaber.
Using the "Nike legislation" (PDF) approved in a special session in late 2012, Governor Kitzhaber last week promised Intel that for 30 more years Oregon won't consider its property or payroll in Oregon when calculating state income taxes on their profits (PDF).
Intel got "tax certainty,” which doesn’t mean what you think it means. In this case, “tax certainty” means that for the next 30 years, despite billions in profits, Intel likely will pay next to nothing in corporate income taxes to the state.
For a few years in the late 1990s Intel disclosed and boasted that it paid $50 million a year in corporate income taxes and was Oregon’s number one corporate taxpayer.
Then Intel and others in the corporate loophole lobby got the legislature to change the formula for calculating the extent to which Oregon could tax the U.S. profits of multi-state corporations.
The loophole lobby convinced the legislature to look only at the percent of sales that are in Oregon for apportioning U.S. profits to the state. By no longer taking into account the share of their property or payroll in the state, as traditionally had been done in determining the share of U.S. profits that were subject to Oregon tax, Intel probably became a minimum tax taxpayer.
How do we know that Intel likely pays only the minimum? At least once since the changes went into effect Intel sold business energy tax credits it had accumulated. It only makes sense for corporations to sell tax credits when they don’t have any tax liability to use them against.
Just as when it used to pay $50 million a year in corporate income taxes, Intel today has thousands of workers and significant property in Oregon but little, if any, sales here. If it has no sales, its minimum tax is just $150 a year (or nothing each year, if it is taking advantage of the loophole created (PDF) by the Oregon Supreme Court’s Con-Way decision (PDF)).
So, Intel gains 30 more years of significant tax avoidance from the deal it signed with the governor.
And Oregon? The Oregonian noted that “the state isn't getting any additional economic investment as a result of Friday's 30-year deal.” (PDF). Indeed, the vice president of Intel's manufacturing group admitted “This is nothing new.”
Like I said, Oregon got nothing.
Just over a year ago, Clear Channel killed the only commercial progressive talk radio station in Portland when they switched KPOJ to sports. There's nothing wrong with sports, but Portland -- a political and progressive town -- already had two sports radio stations. Clear Channel has a legal obligation to operate the airwaves in the public interest, with balanced news and informational programming. Moreover, they've kept KEX alive, as the home of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck.
More than a year after killing KPOJ's progressive talk, Clear Channel shows no sign of bringing back progressive talk -- failing their public interest obligation for balanced news and information.
Clear Channel must air programming that is responsive to the needs and problems of its local community. That's us. We're the community. Clear Channel has a legal obligation to fulfill this role. It's on us to force them to do it.
Portland is one of the most progressive cities nestled inside of one of the most progressive states in the union. Yet Clear Channel saw fit to end this strong progressive voice from our publicly owned airwaves. It's time to stand up to this corporate behemoth and demand that they keep their obligation to the public if they want the right to broadcast in our area.
Authors' note: We'll be updating this as we muddle through the process. If we can help folks avoid obstacles and frustrations as they also tackle this, we'll be pleased. Please do share your experiences, too.
Dec. 5, 2013
Update. (KC's) I got through on the 1-855-268-3767 number today after a brief time on hold. I spoke with a very helpful CO representative named Deborah. (The music on hold sounds much better on the TV than on the cell phone.) Here are the important highlights:
If you missed the Dec. 4 application deadline for financial aid, you can still apply. Your next deadline will be January 15, 2014 in order to qualify for coverage starting February 1. But be aware, there is a possibility of moving that deadline up. The Dec. 4 deadline had originally been Dec. 15, but the CO folks moved it up to have more time to process apps. There are 3 different ranges of reductions based on your projected 2014 income, plus Medicaid. There are also a variety of tax credits available.
If you have applied for financial aid, you do not need to do anything until you receive your eligibility letter and packet. However, your deadline for selecting a plan that would begin on Jan. 1 is Dec. 15. CO representatives are unable to give applicants an exact date range of when packets will arrive. If you do not receive your packet by December 12 or 13, you need to call in to the 1-855 #. The 15th falls on a Sunday, so Monday the 16th will be too late.
After our conversation, I went to the Cover Oregon website to start looking at plans. To view plans, you must provide some information which includes income level.. After I clicked SUBMIT, I got this: "Based on the income and household information you provided, part or all of your household may be eligible for the Oregon Health Plan (OHP). OHP plan details are not yet available online."
James is also trying to view the plans. James got: "There are no plans that match the search criteria you selected. Please revise your search criteria or click View All Plans to view the available plans."
This narrative will continue.... I will call again tomorrow
A few notes:
Deborah checked to see if any Assistance Seminars were scheduled by Cover Oregon and she found none on the CO event schedule. However, seminars have been scheduled by different organizations. If you know of one in your area that will welcome guests, please share that info.
If you are aware of a mistake or omission on your application, go ahead and call in as soon as possible and correct it. Don't wait for CO to get back to you on it.
Financial Aid applications will not be available for online submission until further notice; right now that's not a CO priority and they are focusing on getting current applicant processed. If you plan to apply for financial aid, just do like we did and download the form.
(From Dec. 4, 2013) Today is the deadline to apply for financial assistance in the Cover Oregon Plan. If you earn up to almost $46k as a single person, you can qualify. Today's deadline is for coverage beginning January 1, 2014. You will need to have your basic info ready (Social Security #s, birth dates, etc) for all who will be covered, plus your existing heath care provider and policy number. Be prepared to project your earnings, too.
You've probably heard that Cover Oregon is experiencing website issues, as we are trying to navigate the process, we can affirm that is still the case. While there is supposed to be an online application form available, there doesn't seem to be a clickable link to move you to the actual online application.
Another option is to download the 19 page application, complete it and mail it with today's postmark. To fill it out on your computer, covert it to Adobe.
12:30pm We are both still trying to access the online version, but moving in separate directions. James is completing the application on the download version. KC is yelling at the website.
12:32 KC called the Cover Oregon info line for the 4th time - 1-855-268-3767 (1-855-CoverOR). The first 3 attempts resulted in "your call cannot be completed as dialed". The 4th attempt resulted in a busy signal.
12:42 As advised by the CO website, KC has opened Internet Explorer in order to access the online version and got right back to the first above link. The linked page is more of a "application introduction page," and there still is no discernible link on the page that takes you online version of the application.
12:55 While KC attempts to cross the internet Rubicon of Cover Oregon, James is methodically completing the downloadable version of the app. Both are being assisted by their respective feline roommates, who have taken strategic positions on or near the computer.
1:00 KC tries the 855 #. "Your call did not go through"
1:28 James thinks he has it. Guessing future income is tricky when you have a spouse who works for herself. KC has succumbed to the download version and is pondering projected income, as well.
2:00 KC tries the 855 # again, Busy. James is off to the Post Office with his completed application of 15 printed pages, estimating that it took less than an hour to complete, even with a soup break. The second cat has arrived at KC's computer to help.
6:00 KC drops hers off at the downtown Portland Post office with the assistance of a PO clerk. James fesses up that he added an additional stamp to his mailer just to be safe.
The upshot is this - if you think you qualify, just use the downloadable version and send it off. You can qualify even if you already have insurance. You will need to stay on this, because in a little over a week, you will have to complete the "choose-a plan" portion. This has been a first dip into the waters for us, so please feel free to add your own experiences and advise.
Until a few weeks ago, Canton, Ohio was best known as the home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
Now it has another claim to fame – a sign in a Wal-Mart saying “Please donate food items here so Associates in Need can enjoy Thanksgiving Dinner.” In Wal-Mart-speak, “Associates” are employees, so yes, incredibly, Wal-Mart was asking customers to donate food so Wal-Mart employees wouldn’t go hungry for the holiday. I swear I’m not making this up.
I lived in Canton for nine years in the 70’s right out of college, first as a high school social studies teacher, then program director for the American Cancer Society, not exactly high-paying jobs. I always liked Canton for a variety of reasons, not least of which was its incredibly low cost of living – housing, food, gas, etc. This allowed a modestly, but above-minimum paid (single) worker like me to live comfortably. It's still a bargain. The median sale price for a house last month was a mere $105,000. According to my college roommate, who still lives there, gas is selling for $3.15 - $3.20 a gallon.
Wal-Mart sales associates’ pay averages $8.81 an hour, according to independent analysts at IBIS World. The United Food and Commercial Workers came up with a similar figure.
My point: If you can’t make it on Wal-Mart’s average pay in Canton, Ohio, you can’t make it anywhere. And if you can’t make it on $8.81, you REALLY can’t make it on $7.25, the federal minimum wage.
It’s not just Wal-Mart that isn’t paying a living wage. With a few notable exceptions, it’s most of the retail, chain restaurant and fast food industry sector. McDonald’s, for instance, also pays its line workers and cooks less than $9.00 an hour on average. To help its employees manage their money better, its website earlier this year suggested they get a second job. A later posting suggested “Pack your bags – At least two vacations a year can cut heart attack risk by 50%.” I swear I’m not making these up either.
The latter posting also recommended “Breaking food into pieces often results in eating less and still feeling full.” I swear I’m not . . . oh, never mind. McDonald’s claims their statements were taken out of context. You can decide for yourself.
Leading the charge against better pay is the National Restaurant Association, whose lobbyists boasted that they killed 27 out of 29 bills introduced in state legislatures in 2013 to raise the minimum wage. They worked alongside other familiar names, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and ALEC, on a serious mission to make the 1% safe for plutocracy.
Low wages force many workers to apply for Medicaid, food stamps and other government assistance to simply survive. Employees at McDonald’s, for instance, received $1.2 billion in government aid last year while the corporation made $5.5 billion in profits. A recent report from the Democratic staff of the U.S. House Committee on Education and the Workforce found that a single 300-employee Wal-Mart Supercenter in Wisconsin would cost anywhere from $900,000 to $1.75 million per year in government assistance, about $5,800 per employee. To borrow a phrase from Ross Perot, that sucking sound you hear is your taxes being used to subsidize corporate low pay.
Oregon has the nation’s second-highest minimum wage of $8.95 an hour, but it’s still not nearly enough. More than one in five Oregonians receives food stamps and almost 54% of school age kids are eligible for free or reduced-price school lunches, according to the Oregon Department of Education. USDA statistics in 2011 found that 29% of kids in the state were food insecure, meaning they weren’t always sure about having enough food for their next meal. This is partly due, of course, to high unemployment, but the less-publicized story is the devastating effect of low-wage jobs. The pervasiveness of poverty in Oregon is staggering.
But the times may be a-changing . There have been widespread demonstrations for increasing pay this year at fast food chains and Wal-Marts around the country. Police arrested about 15 protestors at a Bellevue, WA Wal-Mart on Black Friday, while down I-5, Sea-Tac had earlier voted to raise its minimum wage to $15.
Back east, New Jersey voters raised the state’s minimum wage to $8.25, over-riding Chris Christie’s veto. Montgomery and Prince George’s counties in Maryland voted for $11.25 by 2017. And Congressional Democrats are pushing for $10.10, which President Obama has supported. Republicans, who more than 20 years ago supported a raise in the minimum wage, are now mostly lined up behind John Boehner to oppose it.
According to the Center for Economic Policy and Research, if the minimum wage today were adjusted for inflation from what it was in 1968, it would be between $9.42 and $10.75 per hour, depending on the calculation method.
The current minimum wage is a national disgrace, guaranteeing a permanent underclass in the U.S. Here’s a question we should all be asking of our legislators: Shouldn’t a job lift you out of poverty, not lock you into it?
In the latest tax reform plan floated in Salem, the inclusion of a sales tax is not the problem. The problem is that the plan uses a sales tax to pay for a big income tax cut for wealthy Oregonians.
Commendably, Senator Mark Hass and others pushing the reform plan have committed to offsetting much of the disproportionate impact that the sales tax would have on low-income Oregonians by including both a refundable income tax-based sales tax credit and an improved earned income tax credit.
Senator Hass and his colleagues also rightly recognize that property taxes take a disproportionate share of income from low- and middle-income households. So their plan includes a long sought-after homestead exemption to lower the property taxes of those with the least ability to pay them.
Finally, it’s encouraging that the Hass plan would raise additional revenue. A modest sales tax, for example, could help fill gaps in education funding, from pre-K through the community college and university systems. It could help provide health care for all, relieving businesses and individuals alike of that significant expense.
Yet the Hass plan also commits much of the revenue raised by the sales tax to finance a huge income tax cut for the most well-off Oregonians. The wealthier they are, the bigger the income tax cut. While the plan cuts income tax rates across the board, wealthy Oregonians at the top bracket get a bigger rate reduction than everyone else. All told, more than half of the tax cut goes the richest fifth of taxpayers, with the top 1 percent reaping about 17 percent of the gain.
Adding insult to injury, after bringing the top tax rate from 9.9 percent down to 6 percent, the plan cuts in half the income tax rate on certain capital gains. Who are the prime beneficiaries of this cut? We know that about two-thirds of all capital gains income flows to the top 1 percent.
It would be interesting to hear Sen. Hass explain why an income tax cut for the wealthy is justified. For now, we have The Oregonian’s flawed excuses (PDF): growing the economy and creating stability in the tax structure.
Decades of evidence show that tax rates on the wealthy have no correlation with economic growth or job creation. The Oregonian and others who claim our income taxes are too high refuse to acknowledge that Oregon’s economy has grown faster than all but one state in the nation over the past decade.
Indeed, as Pope Francis recently noted, "trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world has never been confirmed by the facts.” (PDF). The income tax rate cuts in the Hass plan are pure trickle-down economics.
As to the “stability” claim, it is misguided. For sure, making Oregon’s public finance system more stable — better able to respond during economic downturns — is critical. But handing a big tax cut to the well-off does nothing to further that goal, while robbing the system of dollars when the economy is humming along.
The best way to achieve stability is to build a well-stocked rainy day fund. And the most common-sense way to do that is to eliminate the provision in our tax structure that spends the money through an automatic tax cut — which primarily benefits the well-off — when more revenue comes in than expected. Saving, not spending, unanticipated revenues generated during good economic times would help the state weather bad economic times.
Some might say that eliminating this inappropriate spending through automatic tax cuts that steal from the rainy day funds is too difficult politically. But is it any harder than enacting a sales tax, which Oregonians have rejected nine times? Shouldn’t Oregonians get at least one chance to vote to save in a rainy day fund, not spend, unanticipated personal income tax dollars?
Oregon does need tax reform. And a sales tax component may be something worth considering if it is designed carefully to protect low- and middle-income families, and if it raises new revenue to invest in Oregon’s physical and human capital.
What we definitely don’t need, however, is another income tax cut for the well-off.
It can be easy for those who live in the different areas of our state to forget that there's important stuff happening elsewhere Oregon. It's my view that we're better when we can see the struggles or share the laughs with our fellow Oregonians who reside outside our regular boundaries. It's a way to keep the ties that bind us more strong and perhaps a way to foster a greater understanding.
I hope as you continue to read this weekly missive, you'll consider sharing it. These stories are part of the fabric of our state and I think we need to know one another better.
Thanks for reading.
And now, let's Span the State!
Commercial real estate and development companies are great big tax delinquents in Washington County. Plaza Park Offices is in the biggest hole, owing more than $1 million. The company is managed by Howard N. Dietrich, who also owes $1.1 million on property in Multnomah County. NB-Coral Commons is next on the list, owing $172,456 in pre-2013 taxes on a cluster of homes in Tigard. Renaissance Custom Homes owes $172,272 in back taxes on a 13-acre property in Sherwood.
And before we leave Washington County here's a little note on the Beaverton School District. For the fourth year in a row, the District is leading the state in the number of homeless students. Not about Washington County but still an incredibly important read on homelessness, this dispatch from Portland Mercury News Editor Denis Therault is a terrific rundown of what's been happening in the City of Portland around the issue of homelessness.
Agriculture is very important to Oregon. So what's the next big thing for one of the biggest economic drivers in our state? Drones. So important in fact that drone technology may actually draw engineers and software developers to the areas of our state hoping to become the host for the industry. Both Yamhill County and the Pendleton area are fighting to get their business.
A teacher who used to substitute in the Coos Bay School District has filed an age discrimination lawsuit against the district. Laura Bellinger claims that she was not invited to interview for two open positions at Millicoma Intermediate School because of her age and that two younger, less qualified people were hired instead. Bellinger is asking for $50,000 and payment for attorney fees and court costs. The school district is seeking to have the claim dismissed.
By James Barta of Portland, Oregon. James is a longtime political activist and policy advocate.
While our society is becoming more technological, we are becoming less scientific. Thanks to technology, we can access more information than ever, but many have less trust in the science that made the technology possible. The politicization of science has exacerbated this problem. Decades ago, cigarette companies hired scientists and lawyers to cast doubt on the cancer causing effects of their product; now similar tactics are being used on numerous other issues.
An application of the scientific method could debunk many common, strange, and dangerous beliefs. A recap of the scientific method from your junior high science class: (1) make a specific hypothesis that describes the world around you; (2) create a testable prediction; (3) carefully test the prediction; and (4) formulate the simplest rule that incorporates the previous three steps. No matter how much you love your hypothesis, if it fails step (3) it’s wrong.
One of the interesting ramifications of this process is that hypotheses can only be disproven. Numerous experiments and observations that match the predictions will allow a hypothesis to graduate to a theory. However, even a theory can be found to be incorrect given enough data that contradict its predictions. For instance, Einstein’s theory of general relativity corrected errors in Newton’s Laws of Motion 200 years later.
On the jump, in ascending order of immediacy and harm, my list of public policy and societal beliefs that reflect our society’s failure to understand basic science – and the harm these beliefs cause.Astrology
Given the prevalence of the belief in astrology, registering my annoyance may be a surprise to some. Given one quarter of Americans believe in astrology in the 21st century seems a good place to start for the anti-scientific thinking prevalent in our society. The theory that distant astronomical bodies affect our lives here on Earth seems farfetched at best.
Experiment: Compare personalities and traits of pairs of people born at the same time. Former magician, James Randi, effectively demonstrates other contradictions with astrology.
Harm in belief: Minimal. Symptomatic of a lack of scientific knowledge, but whatever. As Douglas Adams might say -- mostly harmless.Creationism
Religion offers meaning for billions of people, something the scientific method can’t do. However, the scientific method is a more effective tool to judge empirical knowledge. These two human endeavors have different strengths and use different techniques to arrive at “truth.” However, despite more than one hundred years of scientific data, almost half the population lets their faith interfere with their understanding of biology.
Experiment: Evolution is super easy to disprove. A scientist simply needs to find a fossil in the wrong geologic era. After more than a century of digging, the scientific community is still waiting for evidence to disprove it. In the meantime evolution serves as a powerful tool to understand our genes and the rest of the living world.
Harm in belief: Symptomatic of the lack of science in society. People let their own personal beliefs, or worse their political beliefs, guide their basic science understanding. By teaching the non-existent scientific “controversy,” the U.S. risks its lead in biological sciences.Opposition to water fluoridation
Plenty of scientific reviews describe the benefits of Fluoridation and lack of harm. Original studies showed fluoridation to reduce cavities by 60%. The effectiveness has decreased with growing access to fluoridation in consumer products, but there is no doubt that it is significant.
Experiment: Like evolution, it should be super-easy to demonstrate the harm of fluoride – a study that demonstrates its harm in the doses prescribed by the Center for Disease Control. In the numerous studies over the last 70 years of water fluoridation, opponents cannot produce one study showing the health harm of fluoride at the recommended levels. Not one.
Harm in belief: Fear of an undemonstrated harm is preventing thousands of children from avoiding the pain and health problems of rotted teeth. Children are experiencing pain and suffering for society’s misplaced fears.The denial of anthropogenic global warming
Not as easy to rigorously demonstrate or disprove, but the harms caused by doubts by decision leaders have serious ramifications for the future of life on our planet. Given the usable supply of fossil fuels continues to increase with our continuing demand, our country and our world need to start recognizing the human and financial costs of global warming.
Experiment: While global warming is readily apparent, proving a link from human activity to worldwide temperatures is difficult. (Anyone with a planet they can spare for experimentation? Besides Venus (pdf) of course.) Significant empirical evidence does exist. Assigning blame for specific weather events is clouded by the vagaries of short-term effects versus long term forces of climate. Predictions have been made, such as the rise in ocean levels. Unfortunately waiting to see if they occur will likely mean the deaths of many and the displacement of millions more. Given the stakes, we should agree with virtually all scholarly climate papers and recognize humans are the cause of recent worldwide temperature increases.
Harm in belief: How much evidence will it take to prove something needs to be done, how many people will need to be harmed? Disease prevention is much less costly than treatment; in this case it is very difficult to convince the patient (society) of the consequences of this disease until the symptoms are acute.Anti-vaccination activism
This is the classic instance of the ‘correlation does not prove causation’ problem. The diagnosis of autism and many diseases typically and coincidentally occur right after the first round of child vaccinations. The single study purporting to demonstrate a connection has been debunked and retracted (pdf); unfortunately the damage has been done. While parents’ temptation to believe in this falsehood is understandable, as their child’s health could be the greatest emotional force in their life, this falsehood does immediate damage. The safest place for a person to be is to not take a vaccine and be surrounded by people who have. So whatever level of ignorance is at play here, not taking a vaccine is a greedy action that can directly harm the rest of society, since many are medically unable to take the vaccine and rely on herd immunity.
Experiment: The researcher who wrote the “scholarly” paper purporting to show the link between vaccines and various diseases has been convicted many times, one count of being paid by lawyers who were working on a case against vaccine makers. He is now prohibited from practicing medicine in the United Kingdom. Numerous people tried to replicate the debunked results, without success.
End of rant, but a final thought: given enough countervailing evidence we all should be able to change our minds no matter the belief. Let’s not ignore new knowledge and the possibility that we can be wrong. Critical thinking has expanded our technology and our knowledge of our world, let’s not forget about the scientific process the earned it for us.
By Kate Lore of Portland. Kate is the Social Justice Minister at First Unitarian Church of Portland.
For a number of years now Oregon’s future has been clouded by corporate plans to make the Northwest a central hub for exporting U.S. coal to Asia. These plans continue to move forward, despite widespread public concern about the health threats and pollution that come with the mining, shipping and burning of coal.
The Oregon Department of State Lands has just issued its 5th extension to Ambre Energy for its proposed permit to build a major coal dock in the Columbia River. This, in spite of Ambre Energy's failure to provide adequate information on its project impacts.
The governor ultimately controls the Department of State Lands and the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). Governor Kitzhaber should use his authority to halt this greed-driven agenda.
The moral and ethical implications of this issue are enormous--and not just for the future of Oregon. It’s the people of the Philippines facing devastation from the very type of record storms expected from a warmer climate. It’s the future of the Chinese workers that live next to the coal plants where coal exported from Oregon would be burned. Because of this understanding, thousands of people from across Oregon and Washington are joining a growing chorus of opposition against turning the Columbia River (and the communities along the way) into a coal chute to Asia. It is a threat to everyone who calls the Earth home - including our own Governor Kitzhaber.
Kitzhaber has expressed concerns about coal exports. However, we need more than mere expressions. We need action from an engaged and active leader who will stand up to this grave environmental threat. We Oregonians elected Governor Kitzhaber because he tends to be a free-thinker who doesn't just follow the pack. We need that free-thinking spirit now more than ever.
Remember when our biggest worry about health care reform in Oregon was the silly Portlandia-style TV ads?
While Oregon's Medicaid expansion is rocking along, with over 70,000 people getting health care (and cutting our uninsured rate by more than 12%), the CoverOregon.org website has failed to enroll a single individual.
Who's to blame? By all accounts, we can blame the technology giant Oracle (led by the fifth richest guy in the world, Larry Ellison). Oregon has paid Oracle over $43 million (and is already $1.7 million over budget.) Oracle has said they plan to get it up and running by mid-December, too late for people who want to be enrolled on January 1. And even that's highly ambitious compared to Rocky King's "sometime after March 31" timeframe.
The Washington Post's Ezra Klein calls Oregon "perhaps the worst disaster zone in Obamacare’s implementation"
Now, I work in technology. And I have a lot of sympathy for big tech projects. But dammit, you have to walk before you can run. And it seems that Oregon's core problem is trying to do it all at once. From OPB's Kristian Foden-Vencil, speaking on NPR's Here & Now:
Here we were so excited about the exchange that we made it much more complicated. Not only can you get - you'll eventually be able to get tax deference and single individual insurance, but also we have the Oregon Health Plan, which is Oregon's version of Medicaid, and the Healthy Kids Initiative.
So they kind of made this one-stop shop for insurance, and they just made it way too complicated. And what they're telling me is, you know, we put in scenarios and families, and most of the time it goes through, and that's OK. But, you know, 20 percent go wrong, and so we can't switch it on with that 20 percent going wrong.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the Columbia, 11,000 Washington residents have actually completed enrollment - and another 32,000 have done all the paperwork except pushing the final "buy" button. Maybe we should just buy Washington's software. (Why is that each state is rolling their own solution, anyway?)
Here's what I want to know: How much of that $43 million will Oracle refund? Or more to point, how much of Oregon's $28 million advertising budget will they pick up the tab for? After all, Oregon rolled out a massive ad campaign to promote a website that Oracle failed to deliver.
Just when I think I should simply write off the Oregonian Editorial Board, they suck me back in.
The change (with the Senate filibuster) is a major gain for Merkley, and for the Senate. It should streamline the filling of important positions in the executive branch, and 93 empty benches in the federal judiciary – a gap that Chief Justice John Roberts has warned is dangerous.
Republicans, and some Beltway deep thinkers, have warned that the changed rule will make the Senate's partisan paralysis even worse, with Republican senators now refusing to cooperate at all with Democrats – and a 60-vote supermajority still required for all legislation. Merkley disagrees, and can draw on two Oregon-based experiences: his successful leadership of the state House with a bare one-vote majority, and his time working in Sen. Mark Hatfield's office.
"I saw the Senate work in the 1970s," he recalls. "Many of us have memories that go back to the '70s and '80s of a functioning Senate."
Referring to George Washington's famous explanation of the role of the Senate, Merkley explains, "The Senate was designed to be a cooling saucer, not a deep freeze."
In 2013, congressional gridlock and paralysis is becoming legendary, with this Congress on track to be the least productive in history. Changing its behavior is not something to be resented – nor is trying to keep its paralysis from spreading to the executive branch.
N. Christian Anderson must be on vacation on something. This piece is actually cogent and not chock full of right wing crazy.
For those of you in the throes of college football mourning: I'm sorry for your loss(es). Truly I am. Perhaps you should consider focusing your attention on the college football program in Oregon that has a very long and storied history of winning.
I speak of course of my alma mater, Linfield College. Linfield College boasts 58 consecutive winning seasons and four national championships, people. This season, Linfield is undefeated (9-0) and in the hunt for their fifth national title. Of course, Linfield won't be playing in the Rose Bowl or the Pac 12 Championship. But then neither will the Du... oh, okay. I won't rub it in.
Instead, let's Span the State!
Perhaps it's time to rename Josephine County. I'm going to go with "Oregon's Somalia". Why? Locals refuse to raise their taxes to pay for public safety despite having some of the lowest property taxes in the state. Instead, bands of armed locals have taken it upon themselves to patrol the area. What could possibly go wrong?
A proposal that would bring a county administrator to Klamath County appears to be gaining steam. The plan would create a county charter that allocates about $200,000 in salary and benefits for a county administrator, paid for by reforming the county commission to a part-time body. If it's approved by the County Clerk, supporters will begin collecting signatures in an effort to get the proposal on the May 2014 ballot.
Culver School District's $8.8 million bond levy has been a nail biter. On Nov 5, the measure was winning by only 3 votes. But on Friday, Jefferson County Clerk Kathy Marston certified a victory for the levy, which ultimately won by a 10 vote margin. No recount will be required. Monies from the levy will be used to replace two cinder block elementary school wings, improve energy efficiency in buildings,renovate the district's other facilities and pay down half the $1.9 million debt for property purchased in 2008.
Last week, Oregon First Lady Cylvia Hayes was in Ontario to launch the Malheur County Prosperity Impact Pilot Project. The Project is focused on establishing a Career Technical Education program for high school students starting with welding, fabrication/manufacturing and health care. Computer training and mechanics are under consideration for future additions to the program. The Project is part of a five point economic development plan for Malheur County.
Editor's note: The original headline of this post indicated that Val Hoyle was being paid by the caucus. Hoyle is being paid by FuturePAC, the Oregon House Democrats campaign committee. Apologies for the error--CA
I get that because this is an innovation in how things are done at the Oregon Legislature, this is a thing.
In what appears to be a first for the Oregon Legislature, Oregon House Majority Leader Val Hoyle is receiving a $1,855-a-month stipend from the House Democratic political fund.
Hoyle, a Eugene Democrat, began receiving the stipend after the last session ended in July, according to Hoyle's spokeswoman, Lindsey O'Brien.
O'Brien said the stipend was unanimously approved by the House Democratic caucus in recognition of the large amount of work it takes to oversee the House Democratic campaigns in the election year.
"The caucus just recognized this is a full-time job and she should be compensated for the work she is putting in," said O'Brien, adding that it would be otherwise hard for Hoyle to make financial ends meet while working full-time on the campaigns.
Congratulations to the Oregon House Democrats for stepping up to pay their Majority Leader for the services she's providing. It's about damn time.
We've boxed ourselves in with the "citizen legislature" idea to the point where only those who are wealthy or those who can eke it out on $1800/month plus a small stipend can serve in the legislature. That leaves a whole bunch of smart leaders in Oregon who simply can't afford to do this kind of public service.
There's too much at stake in our state to continue to allow this to go on. We need to attract the best and the brightest leaders to the legislature. But the money piece is a huge barrier. People have mortgages and grocery bills and loan payments. We can't expect people to go into financial ruin simply so to be in the Oregon Legislature. We've shrunk the talent pool and it's a lousy way for us to do business.
I want people that are smarter and more capable than I am to be in public office making decisions with my tax dollars. These are the people that are deciding much of the fate of our state. If we're going to attract these smart, capable, educated leaders from diverse walks of life, we've got to be able to offer them more than $1800 a month and a free parking space in the Salem parking desert near the Capitol.
We hear all the time how private sector companies have to pay big salaries and bonuses to their executives even when budgets are tight. Why? It's the way they retain the very best talent. Public service doesn't mean it's necessary to pay to that degree, but for the smart and talented who wish to serve, we've got to at least pay them a wage that doesn't send them to bankruptcy court.
Hopefully the other caucuses will wise up and begin to pay their leaders for the services they're providing as well. But beyond that, Oregonians need to take a hard look at our "citizen legislature" model. I'm not convinced that it's still working.
In a move that has sent conservatives to the fainting couch to wallow in their own schadenfreude, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid finally, finally, decided that it was time to do what Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley has been saying for years: tweak the rules of the filibuster to end minority blocking of non-Supreme Court judicial nominees and executive nominees.
That's the only change, incidentally. Republicans can still continue to block EVERY SINGLE PIECE OF LEGISLATION and they can still block the President's nominees to the Supreme Court. This is only for non-Supreme Court judicial nominees and other executive branch nominees. This small move has left the Republicans in line for smelling salts and stoked up outrage.
The Senate has been in a grind for a very long time, but the worst of it has come in the last five years where Senate Republicans have placed a filibuster on virtually every piece of serious legislation and nominee. The body was for all practical terms in paralysis, requiring a 60 vote majority to do anything.
We do know how the Senate came to change its rules today, a vote that represented the biggest victory for the left since the election of President Barack Obama. That process started in the first weeks of 2009, after a Democratic landslide mighty enough to sweep even Al Franken into the upper house. The Republicans, who’d held 55 seats during the 2005 “nuclear option” fight, were down to 41. A new class of Democrats, including Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley and New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall, buckled in for action.
They got a slog. An economic stimulus package, once expected to get up to 80 votes, got over the 60-vote cloture line only with huge concessions to three Republicans. A simple omnibus parks funding bill took weeks to pass. Then, in May, just enough Republicans held together to filibuster the president’s nominee for deputy secretary of the Interior. To Majority Leader Harry Reid’s surprise, the Democratic left honed in quickly on the filibuster, demanding that he change it.
But Reid wasn't having it. He was a true believer in the rules of the Senate, wanting to forge moderation and consensus. All the while, the GOP kept right on filibustering. Not just some of the time. ALL of the time. Every move in the Senate required a 60 vote majority to do anything.
In May 2012, Republicans blocked an attempt to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank. Reid responded with an apology to progressives. “If there were ever a time when Tom Udall and Jeff Merkley were prophetic, it’s tonight,” he said. “These two young, fine senators said it was time to change the rules of the Senate, and we didn’t. And they were right. The rest of us were wrong—or most of us, anyway. What a shame.”
In retrospect, that was the moment progressives brought their party on board with the biggest majority-rule congressional reform since the 1970s. Every one of Reid’s procedural moves since then has broken the minority’s power to obstruct legislation. This wasn’t just a case of broken trust between Democrats and Republicans—though that was part of it. This was a victory for a movement that believes its greatest threat comes from unfriendly courts and minority obstruction.
Certainly Senator Udall has been an important and leading voice on making this change. But the real champion for tweaking this rule? Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley.
Nobody in the U.S. Senate has been more a more outspoken advocate for filibuster reform than Jeff Merkley. The Oregon Democrat was first elected senator on the same night that Barack Obama was first elected president, and quickly witnessed the chamber "go from being a cooling saucer to being a deep-freeze," as he puts it, with unprecedented gridlock.
This change has truly sent Republicans off the deep end. Yesterday on Facebook, Oregonian contributing columnist, conservative Brendan Monaghan left a number of comments on my Facebook feed, but this one seems to sum it up best:
I don't believe changing the rules because you can't always get your way qualifies as believing in process and government. All I'm saying is, recognize what you've done. Recognize this is the arrogance of power, the delusion of your own invincibility. Some day, you may find yourself in the minority, unable to use the Senate as the saucer that cools the Tea.
This is the delusion that Republicans are stewing themselves in right now. Brendan is relatively moderate compared to most of his media counterparts, yet has bought his party's bizarre rhetoric on this issue. It's a shame that Republicans have decided that it's more important to pretend that bipartisanship is simply them getting their way all the time instead of having to actually concede some stuff to the Democrats. That's what this boils down to.
Interestingly, I've spoken a number of times to Merkley about the idea of the Democrats losing the majority and how any filibuster changes would impact the minority. Merkley has been very confident that any of the changes he's proposed would continue to allow the minority their power to wield obstruction. In fact, Merkley has never proposed an elimination of the filibuster procedure. Merkley's real goal for filibuster reform is the "talking filibuster", requiring the move to be the "Mr. Smith Goes To Washington" style talk which would force the persons obstructing to stand up and actually defend what they're doing. This retains the minority's power to block when necessary, but they have to put their back into it instead of simply blocking as a matter of course.
And it's about time we get that rule on the books, too.
By Grant Schott from Portland, Oregon. Grant is a political activist and union organizer. Previously, he contributed "Remembering George McGovern".
During his one-thousand-day presidency, John F. Kennedy visited Oregon only once, on September 27, 1963 as part of his Western States conservation tour, when he gave a brief speech at the decommissioned naval facility at Tongue Point in Clatsop Co. However, from 1958 to May 1960, candidate Kennedy was a frequent Oregon visitor. As we remember President Kennedy 50 years later, most Oregonians might be surprised at the importance that Oregon played in his road to the white House.
Then one of only about 15 primary states - some non-binding- that had only recently gained popularity, Oregon’s 1959 legislature passed a then-unique law requiring nationally recognized candidates be placed on the ballot. Thus, active candidates JFK and Senator Hubert Humphrey were joined on the ballot by Sens. Stuart Symington and Lyndon Johnson, while Adlai Stevenson signed a non-candidate affidavit. A surprise entry was Oregon's Sen. Wayne Morse, his favorite-son status secured by supporters’ petitioning. Morse then decided to announce his candidacy officially in Dec. 1959, and also filed in Maryland.
State Senator Monroe Sweetland was an Oregon JFK organizer starting in May 1959 who once told me traveled the state and recruited county campaign chairs. Sweetland wrote, in 1964, an account of the Oregon campaign that was published in a 2000 Oregon Historical Society Quarterly.
JFK’s early effort was coordinated first by Sylvia Nemer (later Davidson, who still lives in Portland) through late 1959, when Congresswoman Edith Green was named Oregon chair. Stan Weber was the Executive Secretary at JFK’s Portland headquarters, 723 S.W. Third Ave.
JFK entered seven primaries, starting with New Hampshire on March 8th and ending with Oregon on May 20th, although he was unopposed in NH, Nebraska, and Indiana. JFK’s key victories over Humphrey in Wisconsin and West Virginia have been well documented. Humphrey dropped out after W.V. on May 10th, but JFK still faced Morse in MD on May 17th- he won 70% - 13% - and three days later in in OR.
Although Morse’s challenge to JFK didn’t receive the same billing as Humphrey’s, JFK went all out to win Oregon. I once heard Morse’s manager, the late Orde Pinckney of Bend, claim that the JFK campaign spent more on a newspaper tabloid than Morse did in total. The money and momentum paid off, with JFK winning 51% to Morse’s 40%.
On the jump, a fairly complete itinerary of JFK’s visits to Oregon:
Apr 27: Eugene- Lane CO. Democrats FDR Memorial Dinner, U.O. Erb Memorial Union, speech on President Roosevelt, 500 attended
Apr 28: Portland- Portland State College
May 18: Eugene- Jefferson Jackson Day Dinner speech on liberalism, Portland- reception at home of Oregon D.N.C. Committeeman C. Girard “Jebby” Davidson and Joan Davidson
May 19: Salem- Democratic luncheon
Mar 6: Medford- Roosevelt Day Dinner
May 19: Portland,- Dinner
Aug 1: Portland- Press Conference, Broiler Restaurant Meeting, Oregon Journal and Oregonian interviews, Dave Epps (late chair of Democratic Party of OR) Memorial Dinner
Aug 2: Portland- Mass, Young Dems Coffee Hour, interviews with former Governor Bob Holmes on KOIN and with future Governor Tom McCall on Viewpoint- KGW, Edith Green Reception
Aug 3: Seaside- OR AFL-CIO Speech, TV interview, dinner, Portland- TV/Fennel Program
Oct 20: Salem- Committee at Berg Home, Willamette University, Portland- Municipalities Lunch, Coffee, YMCA, Clackamas County Democrats Dinner
Oct 21: Portland- Democratic Roundtable, Portland Realty Board, Portland State College
Nov 6: (Accompanied by wife, Jackie) Klamath Falls- Democratic breakfast, Coos Bay- Lions Club lunch, meeting with Longshoremen, Barge Trip of Harbor, Coos Co. Democratic Dinner
Nov 7: North Bend- speech at N.B. High School, Bend- Jr. Chamber Luncheon, Powell Butte- Lord’s Acre auction visit (JFK and Jackie bought a quilt.) Pendleton- Press Conference, Umatilla Co. Democratic Party dinner
Nov 8: Milton-Freewater- Reception, Baker- Baker Co. Democratic dinner, KBKR Radio
Nov 9: La Grande- lunch, Eastern Oregon College speech, Portland- labor meeting
Feb. 9: (Accompanied by sister, Pat Lawford) Roseburg- Roseburg Lumber Co. and downtown tour, lunch/housing speech with Douglas Co. Democrats at Umpqua Hotel, Corvallis- reception at Benton Hotel (Mike Burton wrote this article for American Heritage), Albany- Chamber of Commerce speech
Feb. 10: Portland- Breakfast Q/A with labor leaders at Multnomah Hotel, Corvallis- Eastern Europe speech at O.S.U. and informal meeting with students, Newport- tour of Yaquina harbor, Georgia Pacific mill at Toledo, Portland- evening organizing meeting with supporters at airport
April 22: Milwaukie- education speech at high school, Chamber of Commerce luncheon, tour of Pendleton Woolen Mills, Beaverton/ W. Portland- coffee, Eugene- rally, South Eugene High School
April 23: Medford- Grand Marshall, Pear Blossom Parade, Ashland- coffee, Portland- social security speech, “Saturday Snack and Social Hour” at Cleveland High School
May 15: Portland- Young People for Kennedy rally and speech on defense, throwing first pitch at Little League Game The Dalles- Hotel Dalles, OR primary election history speech
May 16: Portland- Lewis and Clark College, defense speech, Astoria- Democratic luncheon
May 17: Hillsboro High School, foreign affairs speech, Springfield- labor speech to Weyerhaeuser workers, Eugene- speech at City Hall, interview with Eugene Register Guard
May 18: St Helens- breakfast speech, Portland- Benson High School rally
Sept. 7: General Election visit, Eugene- (Accompanied by Pat Lawford) Lane Co. Courthouse, education speech, Salem- Soviet relations speech, Portland- Multnomah Hotel dinner, labor speech
My thanks to the archivists at the JFK Library for pointing me in the right direction to their Oregon files.
Please share your direct memories of Senator Kennedy’s visits or stories from your parents or others.
Apparently, getting a medal from the GOP box of Cracker Jacks warrants front page news on Monica Wehby's website:
On the front page of her website, Oregon Senate candidate Monica Wehby prominently states that she has received the "Congressional Medal of Distinction for improving children's health."
Despite its name, however, this award is not issued by Congress. Instead it comes from a Republican campaign organization, the National Republican Congressional Committee. The committee -- which oversees political campaigns for the House GOP -- handed out the awards to numerous recipients for several years up until 2008.
The medal actually strongly infers by its markings that Congress handed out the award. I guess this isn't surprising. It's not as if the GOP aren't marketing BS to the public on a daily basis. But I always hold out hope that people running for office won't be so obvious about it. Color me naive.
The woman is a pediatric neurosurgeon. She's been active in political life. It's just a bonehead move to fluff up her credentials in such ham-fisted manner. This is just amateurish and unnecessary.