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Updated: 1 hour 33 min ago

OR-5: The race that wasn't

2 hours 18 min ago

For the last several election cycles, Congressman Kurt Schrader has faced tough (-ish) opposition. But here in 2014, it's been a bit of a snooze-fest.

Daily Kos Elections took the time on Monday to notice:

While Democratic Rep. Kurt Schrader holds a competitive Salem-area seat, he's been a very tough target for the GOP. Team Red initially had some hope that Clackamas County Commissioner Tootie Smith could give him a race, but her fundraising has been downright awful. Smith only raised $49,000 during her entire campaign, and no outside groups are getting involved here. It doesn't look like this one is going anywhere.

That's right. In a competitive swing district, the GOP nominee -- not a nobody, mind you; but a former state legislator and current county commissioner -- has raised just $49,000 over the entire campaign.

It kinda makes you wonder why Tootie Smith even bothered to run.

Categories: Blue Oregon Blogs

Driver’s Cards (Measure 88) is a Women’s Issue

October 20, 2014 - 4:03pm

In this election, Oregon residents have the opportunity to vote Yes on Measure 88, affirming the bi-partisan actions taken by the Oregon legislature and Governor Kitzhaber in 2013 to extend the right to drive to all people living in our state. This law would have ensured that recent immigrants, the elderly temporary workers and more could take a driver’s test, get auto insurance, and then drive safely and legally. As they should.

While the law ensured that those driving were well-equipped and could do so without fear, it is now on hold, pending an attempted recall through Measure 88. This, despite the fact that the right to drive affects so many throughout the state, as reflected by the list of the measure's endorsers – public safety officials, business owners, unions, communities of color, women’s organizations, and more.

Oregon NOW has proudly endorsed the measure – for us, it was a no brainer -- it affects so many Oregon women. Why?

It’s about women’s safety. Women walking alone at night can face harassment, assault and more. The safety of a car can empower women to ensure their own security and that of their families.

It’s about women’s families. Women are (still) the primary caretakers of their families – the ones driving their elderly relatives to doctor’s appointments, their infants to well-child check-ups, their kids to school and so many other necessary trips. In many instances, these trips can be lengthy -- and harrowing if a relative is facing mobility issues or compromised health. Plus, buses don’t run frequently enough or in the middle of the night (or at all in some parts of the state!) should there be an emergency. Women, doing so much for others, deserve to be able to drive safely.

It’s about women’s jobs. After taking care of all that we take care of, there may be little time left for a long commute. For many women, taking care of their families means working more than one job, leaving little time between shifts to get from one place to another, or from their child care to work on time. Women deserve to be able to drive to earn a living for themselves and their families.

It’s about women’s health. Women should be able to do more than take care of their families’ health, they should be able to take care of their own. They deserve to be able to drive to their doctors’ offices, pharmacists and more.

Finally, it’s about all of our safety. All Oregon families deserve to have safe roads, with skilled, insured drivers -- Measure 88 will ensure just that.

I can drive and ensure my safety, my own health and that of my family, and my professional commitments. It shouldn’t matter that I happen to be an American citizen, that my own luck of the draw was that I was born here. My commitments and my family don’t matter more than anyone else's. Nor is my family somehow more deserving. Women's safety, families, jobs and health matter equally, regardless of birthplace. Let’s vote human to human on this one.

For aspiring citizens, for women, for us all, please, vote Yes on Measure 88 by November 4th.

Categories: Blue Oregon Blogs

The mask is off: Measure 90 is for Republicans

October 19, 2014 - 12:21pm

Whoa. Until now, the folks behind Measure 90 liked to portray themselves as good-government types. "Hey, let's just open up our elections to more people." -- an argument that sounds lovely on its face.

But this weekend, with ballots in hand, the Yes on 90 campaign sent Republican voters in Portland a piece of mail that rips the mask right off.

Make no mistake. Measure 90 is designed to help Republicans. Check it out (click to zoom):

Categories: Blue Oregon Blogs

Measure 89 provides equality for the majority of Oregonians (50.5%) who are women and girls.

October 19, 2014 - 9:00am

By Leanne Littrell DiLorenzo of Portland, Oregon. Leanne is the chief petitioner for Measure 89 and founder and president of VoteERA.org

Why is it important to vote YES on Measure 89?

  1. Women are not equal in the Oregon Constitution.

  2. Women are not equal in Oregon case law as there is an exception for “biological differences.” Current case law exempts discriminatory laws that are “justified” by specific “biological differences” between men and women and measure 89 would remove that exemption.

  3. Women are not equal in the United States Constitution.

Measure 89 will establish state policy banning discrimination based on sex. The language of Article I, Section 20 of the Oregon Constitution, written in 1857, has not changed. Under it women could not vote, could not serve on juries, most could not own property, and women still do not have equal pay for equal work.

Measure 89 will provide momentum for women’s equality in the U.S. Constitution by engaging all those who are still working on the federal ERA to follow Oregon’s lead. After 91 years the federal Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) has still not been added to the U.S. Constitution, even though it has been introduced in Congress every single year since 1923. It passed in Congress once in the 70s but fell three states short of the deadline for ratification.

The U.S. Constitution still does not adequately protect women.

"Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn't.” US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia (2011).

Four former Oregon Supreme Court Justices took the extraordinary step of writing an open letter in favor of Measure 89 to debunk several arguments made by detractors. Their June 2014 letter -- signed by former justices Paul De Muniz, Michael Gillette, William Riggs and George Van Hoomissen -- made clear that women do not have the strongest protection in the Oregon Constitution. They said:

“... no current provision in the Constitution expressly provides those protections ... Instead, the protections available to women are present as a result of case law... Measure 89 would remove the biological differences exception.”

This is why women would ultimately have full equality.

One detractor says others’ rights could be affected by passage of an Oregon ERA. The former justices stated:

“The text of the ERA itself provides that nothing in it will diminish the rights of any group under any provision of the Oregon Constitution. ... Oregon’s Office of Legislative Counsel has also issued opinions further supporting that nothing in ERA proposal will diminish the rights of any other group. At least 22 states have adopted equal rights amendments in their constitutions. Not one of the ‘concerns’ voiced by [detractors] has ever come to pass in those states.”

The Justices concluded their letter with another reference to the detractors of the measure:

“They are mistaken to oppose passage of the Oregon ERA. We believe that passage of the Oregon ERA will acknowledge the contributions and importance of more than 50% of our citizens by finally providing women express recognition in our state’s most important document, its constitution.”

The women who originally obtained the right of women to vote in Oregon needed to resort to the initiative just as we have. On five separate occasions, Oregonian editor Harvey Scott was against women gaining the right to vote even though his sister was Abigail Scott Duniway, the leader of the suffragist movement of the Pacific Northwest and the first woman to vote in Oregon in 1912. But the women prevailed.

Measure 89 has broad bipartisan support. In addition to the four former Oregon Supreme Court Justices, former Court of Appeals Judge David Schuman, former Oregon Attorney General Dave Frohnmayer, and Oregon Women Lawyers, Measure 89 is endorsed by a long list of organizations, elected officials, community leaders, and Oregonians from all over the state which include U.S. Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, Congresswoman Darlene Hooley, State Senator Margaret Carter, YWCA, NAACP of Eugene, Oregon Business Association, League of Women Voters, Democratic Party of Oregon, Clackamas County Republican Party, AFSCME and many more.

Please join me in voting “yes” on Measure 89.

Categories: Blue Oregon Blogs

Convoluted Republican Attack Ads Undermine Traffic Safety

October 17, 2014 - 6:46pm

The Willamette Week is reporting attacks from various Republican candidates on candidates who support a law allowing undocumented immigrants to go through license testing and get driver's cards. That law has since been subject to referendum, and has become Measure 88.

The specific mailer from Sen. Alan Olsen attacked Jamie Dimon with a list traffic deaths involving undocumented immigrants; it is apparently is similar to other mailers attacking other Democratic candidates.

As someone who's worked on traffic safety for years, I appreciate taking traffic deaths seriously, as they are one of the leading preventable causes of years of life lost (roughly 400 Oregonians die every year in traffic deaths). But listing people who died in traffic crashes before this law went into effect is convoluted logic.

Instead, those who could bear some responsibility are those who have pushed to continue the current system -- that prohibits undocumented immigrants from going through the testing needed to get a driver's card.

Under the law, drivers will need to pass Oregon's written and behind-the-wheel driver test, as well as follow current Oregon law regarding proof of insurance.

Without such a law, the incentive is for undocumented immigrants to drive without a license, without a test, without insurance. How is that safer than what Measure 88 would allow?

And that's why groups that work on traffic safety issues, such as the Oregon Public Health Association, Upstream Public Health, Oregon Walks and the Bicycle Transportation Alliance, back Measure 88.

The mailer lies further, claiming such driver's cards would give bearers the ability to board an airliner, which is explicitly does not do.

But what's critical is understanding how areas that rely on driving set up no-win situations. Ramiro S., a supporter of Measure 88, notes:

“Late one night, around 2 AM, my three-year-old son started screaming in pain. He was extremely ill and I didn’t know what was wrong. I couldn’t calm him down and he only screamed louder in pain. I was filled with immense fear but also anger at having to chose between driving illegally or taking care of my only son and getting him to a hospital.

Those smearing Measure 88's supporters with the traffic deaths under the pre-Measure 88 system should be ashamed of themselves. Our roads must be made safer; undermining that law undermines safety.

Categories: Blue Oregon Blogs

Why vote against Measure 90? Because it's pointless. And unnecessary.

October 17, 2014 - 12:06pm

I want to begin this piece with a secret that I rarely share: In 2000, I voted for George W. Bush.

Now, before you react in horror and shout "Shame!" while branding me with some sort of Scarlet Letter, let me provide context. At the time, I was a 21-year old registered Democrat casting a ballot in Washington State's primary. Al Gore was the confirmed Democratic nominee, riding on the coattails of Bill Clinton's successful presidential administration despite an effort by Bill Bradbury Bradley (How embarrassing! Clearly I've been an Oregonian for quite some time!) to challenge from the left. In fact, if memory serves me well, by the time Washington held its spring primary, Bradley had conceded his challenge to Gore, resulting in only one candidate on the ballot for me to "vote" for as the Democratic presidential nominee.

Indeed, the hotly contested race at the time was on the Republican side, between self-proclaimed "maverick" John McCain and Dubya. Too many intelligent people who I respected expressed support for McCain's supposed centrism, enough that I was concerned he would mount more of a serious challenge against Gore in the general election. And Dubya was clearly unfit to be President, so it made much more sense that--instead of wasting my primary vote on the already-confirmed Al Gore--I should do my part to make sure the unelectable George W. Bush made it through to the general. (Smart thinking, that.)

And I was able to (foolishly) cast this vote for Dubya as a registered Democrat. Why? Because, at the time, Washington State had an open primary system. You could walk into the voting booth (the last time I ever used such an arcane form of voting) and could mark your support for any candidate regardless of the party you were registered for.

Of course, primary elections in Washington State are now closed--just as they are in Oregon. Meaning that only party-members get to vote in the spring for the candidate that offers the best chance of wining the election in the fall.

However, just because I'm a Democratic-leaning voter in a closed-primary state does not mean I haven't cast a primary ballot for a Republican in a primary election over the past decade. For example, without a strong primary challenger to incumbent Governor Kulongoski in the 2006 Governor elections, I was much more interested in casting a ballot in that year's Republican primary. As such, I changed my affiliation to cast a ballot for Ron Saxton over arch-conservative Kevin Mannix, ensuring that a Portland-based public schools lawyer would be the Republican standard-bearer in the rural, conservative corners of the state, where each of these three (Portland-based, public schools, lawyer) would make Saxton unpalatable to conservative voters. Major media outlets viewed Kulongoski as a vulnerable candidate, only to express surprise how he easily won re-election on Election Night.

Of course, I'm not taking any sort of credit for Kulongoski's re-election. And changed my party affiliation to cast a ballot in the hotly contested Obama-Hillary primary of 2008.

I'm providing all this background information to illustrate the following point: In Oregon's closed primary system, it is the easiest thing in the world to change your party affiliation o you can cast a vote for the candidate of your choosing in the spring primary. Just how easy is it? A simple call to the Secretary of State's office will inform you that all it takes to change the party your registered with is to fill out a new voter registration form-- which can be accessed either online or at your local County Elections office or at the DMV or at the library or at the many other convenient places where such forms can be accessed--or simply use your Oregon state driver's license or ID to change your party registration with one simple mouse click on the Secretary of State's MyVote website.

Supporters of Measure 90--commonly referred to as the "Top Two" primary initiative--make the claim that Oregon's current closed primary system is "broken" as it effectively locks out thousands of voters who choose not to be affiliated with any of the state's political parties. The closed primary system, the argument goes, makes it so others decide which candidates will be on the ballot in the general election for these voters to choose form. To this contention, I respond with the following: Do you want to vote in the primary election? Then change your registration with a simple click on a website or by visiting your local library, and you can do so. It's really that simple.

And then, after the primary election, you can easily change your registration to continue touting your independent, unaffiliated stance--untainted by partisan politics.

Purists may have issues with my history of casting primary ballots for odious candidates on the "other side," but I'm not going to argue for being politically informed and knowledgeable enough to try and get easily defeatable candidates on the ballot--or voting in support of candidates from my party that I support. The idea of a closed primary makes sense in theory--Democratic voters should decide who should best represent the Democratic party in the general election, and the same should apply on the Republican side. But if the idea that Oregon's primary system is "broken" does have any merit, then advocating for a truly open primary--in which all voters could choose from all candidates--provides for an easy fix. (And would make it unnecessary for me to change my registration to cast a ballot in contested primaries.)

Currently, Democratic voters have a huge advantage over Republicans when it comes to the amount of voters split between the two parties by a 56-44 percent margin. If Measure 90 were to pass, one (arguably intended) result would be the prevalence of races in which the "top two" candidates come from the same party. In the case of House Districts or other areas that lean heavily on one side versus the other, this would result in the election lasting beyond the spring primary. No longer would whoever wins in May effectively win the election over token opposition by the minority party in the general election. As a supporter of Democratic candidates, one might think I'd support of race between two similarly-minded candidates which would lead to a healthy discussion of issues that matter the most to me. And I would, except for one reason: repeatedly it has shown that over 90 percent of the time the better-funded candidate wins the election. As such, it wouldn't be the "marketplace of ideas" that decides an election between two candidates from the same party, but such an election would simply be decided by the marketplace. After a Measure 90 primary result leads to two candidates from the same party duking it out, they would spend the prevailing months trying to raise money instead of raising support from voters.

Little wonder that outside moneyed interests are pumping millions in support of the Measure 90 campaign, as it would result in a situation where close races could potentially be bought via the infusion of cash.

I understand the logic of attempting to extend the elections past the primary--nothing should be considered locked up or "safe" six months before the general election. But we could examine other options to extend elections, including gerrymandering reform, if necessary (which doesn't seem to apply Oregon as much as other states.) Or we could implement a truly open primary system in which all voters are able to cast a ballot in support of all primary candidates. Or, heck, the state Republican and Democratic parties could recruit strong candidates to challenge in these heavily-leaning districts, candidates willing to buck the party line and take the necessary progressive or conservative stances when necessary to win the votes of their electorate.

But the argument that the current primary system effectively silences the voices of thousands of voters and therefore requires the passage of Measure 90 does not pass the smell test, especially when it is so easy to change party affiliation in the state of Oregon. Voters' desire for independence or nonpartisan affiliation is not sacrosanct enough to enact a primary system that may result in a general election more susceptible to the influence of outside moneyed interests.

And for these reasons, there really is no other option but to Vote No on Measure 90.

Categories: Blue Oregon Blogs

To everyone who already voted: thanks!

October 17, 2014 - 10:42am

By Kelley Meck of Portland, Oregon. Kelley is a campaign professional turned law student at Lewis & Clark Law School.

Here's the simple reason why you should vote as soon as you can: the sooner you vote, the more you help campaigns save time & trouble talking to you, and focus on undecided and maybe voters and get good information to them and remind them to vote. That's good for Democrats, often, because it means more people vote overall, but it is also good for small-d democracy, because it means a wiser allocation of effort spent creating an informed and engaged citizenry to make choices for the future.

There's a side-benefit too. Once you vote, campaigns will focus their door-to-door efforts, phone-calls and mailers on folks who haven't voted yet.

You may ask, why do they call me? Why do they knock on my door? You were going to vote anyway, you say. Well, sure, maybe you were. But lots of people need reminding--that's just science. Literally, science: i.e. double-blind randomized studies conducted by scientists repeatedly find that more people vote when they are reminded in a personalized, one-on-one kind of way.

Here are some other things you can do to ensure a good turn-out this year:

  1. Get excited. Excitement is contagious.
  2. Remind yourself and others that millions of people are voting all across Oregon (not to mention the country). Everyone is doing it. Some are even doing it early.
  3. Volunteer with a campaign near you to help build excitement. For one, there are several very competitive state senate races this year.
Categories: Blue Oregon Blogs

If an oil train derailed in Oregon...

October 17, 2014 - 10:28am

It's a scary thing if you think about it.

Last year, 19,000 rail cars filled with crude oil came through Oregon. Fortunately, none of them derailed, crashed, or exploded.

But other places in North America haven't been so lucky. In 2013, 42 people were killed in Quebec when a train derailed. The explosion destroyed 30 buildings in the small town of Lac-Megantic. Trains have also derailed and exploded in North Dakota, Alabama, and Virginia -- sometimes sending up huge fireballs.

There are good questions about whether these trains should be delivering oil at all -- and if they can be made safer.

But one no-brainer is this: If an oil train is coming through your town, shouldn't local firefighters be notified in advance? Shouldn't local police be notified in advance? The only thing worse than an oil train derailment is an oil train derailment that happens when first responders are unavailable or unprepared.

That's why BlueOregon Action has partnered with Senator Jeff Merkley, Senator Ron Wyden, and Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici to call on the Department of Transportation to change its rules -- and require advance notice of oil trains to first responders.

There's a lot to debate about oil trains. But notifying first responders? There should be no debate at all.

Sign our petition and make your voice heard.

Categories: Blue Oregon Blogs

Merkley: "Call me a progressive"

October 16, 2014 - 11:34am

It's taking off like a viral video storm across the country -- with sharing by Senator Elizabeth Warren and even comedian Bill Maher.

What's that? It's the moment in the Senate debate on Tuesday night in which Senator Jeff Merkley was asked if he was comfortable being called a "progressive".

Check out his answer:

Categories: Blue Oregon Blogs

WATCH LIVE: Merkley vs. Wehby Debate

October 14, 2014 - 1:04pm

Starting at 7 p.m., Senator Jeff Merkley and Dr. Monica Wehby will face off in their only televised debate, hosted by KOBI in Medford.

Watch live here:

Categories: Blue Oregon Blogs

NO on 90, AGAIN!

October 14, 2014 - 1:02pm

So this is what 1.5 million buys you - a nifty Mercedes Sprinter van with slogans and color schemes pandering to Portland Hipsters.

DUDE, where's your values?!

In the cacophony of political messaging, campaigners do their best to market the right message to the right folks. But sometimes it's so over the top it's just obnoxious. Enter the purveyors of Measure 90, a small but wealthy lot of investors, equity managers and CEOs that are 99.5 % of the financial support of this M 65 Redux. They take condescending to a new level as these hucksters try to tell you that M 90 is cool.

It's crap.

These fellas think if they drop in enough out-of-state dough, they can convince most Oregon voters that up is down, that green is red and that M. 90 is for the "Good of the People". It's for the good of their bottom line. The huge money they're investing will overwhelm us with well-polled & focused messages, and they hope their investment will rework the Oregon election system so dramatically that it will pay huge dividends in the form of friendly legislation for their business interests.

What, I don't believe that 90 would "empower voters" ? Nope, and it's not just because I am too old to be a hipster. Precise and well researched messaging may be appealing, but the truly empowered voter should be tuned into the real intentions behind a measure so heavily funded from out-of-state. Really, why would some rich Texan dump a million and 1/2 into lil' ol Orygun? Why are the funders of this thing all club members of the 1%? The intentions that bring you Measure 90 are clear as the $25,000, $30,000 and $50,000 donation chunks that are dropped into the YES coffers. These big spenders know the old saw - to make money, you've got to spend money. And if they succeed, not only will every election become the rich man's game in the rich man's playground, but their playground will become so exclusive that us regular people won't even see the yard.

Gone will be the good old party Primaries for Democratic and GOP voters, so the folks of like stripes can choose the candidate that best represents them in the General Election. Gone will be the nominating conventions and processes small parties can use to either name a unique nominee or get on board with the D or R candidate. Gone will be the the candidate from the masses, that regular guy who cares enough to run and can make a go of it without big money bending his ear for payback when in office. (Did I mention that the Texas investor is billionaire John Arnold, former Enron hedge fund manager & trader who specialized in natural gas derivatives?)

Do the quid-pro-quos happen now? Sure. But instead of eliminating them, passage of M90 will throw the money game into hyper-drive. Big money will be selecting and pushing candidates well before the filing deadline, and great potential candidates who don't jump through the hoops will either be also-rans or throw in the towel before they even file. M 90 proponents claim that passage of 90 will "end gridlock". Well, if a bunch of candidates are elected that have these funders as their masters, yeah, they will all be marching to the same tune.

Oh, and that chartreuse Mercedes van? Even that dang thing is from out-of-state. That should tell you all you need to know.

Categories: Blue Oregon Blogs

Seneca Jones Timber posts another stupid anti-Kitzhaber sign in Portland

October 13, 2014 - 12:36pm

If you live in Portland--particularly if your daily commute brings you into downtown--then you have seen the sign(s). With large black font on a stark white background, they intone: "It's not a red or blue issue. It's a black and white issue. Oregon needs fiscally responsible leadership."

The signs are paid for by Seneca Jones Timber Co. in support of Dennis Rchardson's campaign for Governor, and are much more straight-forward in its messaging than its vaguely-worded predecessor which materialized over the summer and literally threw a bunch of words against the side of a wall to see what might stick. (The bridge? The website? Rudy Crew? etc.)

But this time the message is clear: Since John Kitzhaber is a Democrat, by definition he is a reckless spender who lacks fiscally responsible leadership. Right? Right? How about wrong.

Let's take a look at a few facts here:

  • When Kitzhaber was sworn into office for an unprecedented third term as Governor in January 2011, the state's unemployment rate stood at 10 percent. In August 2014, Oregon's unemployment rate dropped nearly three points to 7.2 percent.
  • The state added 40,000 non-farm jobs between August 2013 and August 2014, a clear metric that the state's economy is improving.
  • In 2013, Oregon's rate of personal income grew at 3.5 percent, the fifth-highest growth rate in the country.
  • Also in 2013, Oregon had the third-highest job growth in the nation, with a job base that expanded by 2.4 percent.
  • By any measure, Oregon's economy is humming along. In fact, this past summer Oregon businesses posted 50,000 positions, their most job openings in six years.
  • In fact, Oregon's economy is running so well and outperforming previous estimates, that projected increased revenues could result in state lawmakers dealing with the good/bad problem of returning the entire surplus back to taxpayers via the "kicker" refund.

So now, in that list of positive economic news that has occurred in Oregon under Kitzhaber's leadership the past four years, can anyone point to the lack of "fiscally responsible leadership?" Because I sure can't.

In fact, the question that needs to be answered by Seneca Jones Timber Co. and the Dennis Richardson campaign is whether Governor Kitzhaber should receive any praise or credit for Oregon's burgeoning economy, or if this all occurred despite of actions taken by the Governor. Because the central core tenant of this sign is that Governor Kitzhaber's leadership is bad for the state's economy. Which is absolutely, patently false.

Let's play a fun game. Let's pretend that this sign wasn't about the Governor's race, but instead targeted President Obama. I mean, it could more or less be the same thing. Would you think that the recent news of the nation's 5.9 unemployment rate reaching the lowest level since before the 2008 recession--and that the country's current deficit represents just 2.8 percent of total GDP, the lowest since 2008 as well--would prevent Republicans from putting up a sign criticizing Obama for a lack of "fiscally responsible leadership?" Of course not! Obama's a Democrat, and therefore he's bad for the economy--truth be damned!

And that's exactly the same message beyond this stupid, stupid sign. Never mind truth or facts. Governor Kitzhaber is bad for the economy. The black letters on the white background say so.

I mean, I get it. In a state in which Democrats hold a 55.7 percent advantage between voters registered between the two main political parties, the Republicans don't have a chance to return to Mahonia Hall unless they are able to secure increased support from Democratic-leaning voters in the Portland metro area. But I guess instead of adopting policies in line with the majority of the Oregon electorate, their solution is to make spurious claims regarding "fiscally responsible leadership" on the side of a building.


Categories: Blue Oregon Blogs

Yes on M88, no to the fear and hate

October 12, 2014 - 7:00am

Somewhere around 1760, Daniel Barnhart and his kin landed in Virginia. They were Puritans escaping religious persecution in Germany. In the New World, they found a freedom Daniel’s offspring – including me, ten generations later – continue to enjoy.

They did so, of course, by wiping the native people almost entirely off the face of the planet.

This is the stupidity, and the gross inhumanity, of borders: they only work when someone has the power to enforce them. From 1492 onward, the people who had lived on the American continents for tens of thousands of years no longer had that power. Soon – and this is the perversity of borders – they had lost not only the right to control those borders, they had lost the right to live in the lands within those borders. This is our American history: millions of people living here for tens of thousands of years, and in the course of a few short years, over-run, over-whelmed, and over-and-out.

This is part of my disgust with our current “debate” over borders, immigration, deportation, and so on. Every border the United States claims as its own was stolen, by force, from other people. Our ancestors invaded, slaughtered, and took by extreme force the lands of the people who had been living here centuries before Europe could even pretend to be civilized.

But these are “our” borders. God gave them to us, you know.

The other disgusting part of the border/immigration “debate” is, of course, racism. There are those in this country who truly do believe that “diversity is a code word for white genocide”. Which is effing stupid, but the combination of hate, fear, and self-righteous does tend to result in appalling outcomes. The fears of people who have nothing to fear from brown hordes and other “invaders” are fanned by politicians and media hacks who have much to gain from fear-mongering.

And white people like me, for the most part, are silent in letting this injustice continue.

Measure 88 is a straight-forward, limited, and just ballot measure. It allows residents of Oregon to drive a car and to do so while insured — even if they are undocumented residents. That’s it: a driver’s licence and nothing more. No citizenship. No amnesty. Just a driver’s license.

On May 1, 2013, Gov Kitzhaber signed SB 833 which directed “Department of Transportation to issue driver card to applicant who does not provide proof of legal presence in United States but otherwise has complied with all requirements for type of driving privileges and has resided in Oregon for more than one year”. You don’t have to be a lawyer to understand that SB 833 had nothing – nothing – to do with citizenship in any way, shape, or form. That didn’t stop the hate-mongers, the racists, and the desperate-for-anything-to-save-their-sorry-party Republicans from either voting no on SB 833 or referring it to voters as M88.

As a tenth-generation white male American who has benefitted greatly from our country’s violent racist past, I say: Enough. Our fixation on color, borders, and any type of otherness is killing us. From the wars in the Middle East to the children sick and starving in Oregon, our refusal to acknowledge our common humanity is killing us. M88 is another nail in the coffin of that humanity.

Defeating M88 would be a crime against humanity. Voting against M88 is a hate crime. If you can’t figure out what the measure actually does – which is to make sure everyone driving in Oregon has a valid licence and insurance – then you have no place in our democracy. We liberals are far too nice with those who are poisoning our country with their hate and ignorance. As far as I’m concerned, we need to tell organizations like Oregonians for Immigration Reform, which was behind M88, to go to hell. They are making life worse for the people of Oregon, not better.

As a white American, I have absolutely no fear of those who seek to come here and work, live, and fulfill their dreams in freedom. It’s what my ancestors did, and they were part of one of the great genocides in history as a result. My freedom and my prosperity, limited as the latter may be, is built on that genocide. I have no moral right to demand closed borders or to insist “America for Americans”.

That’s bullshit. That’s hate speech. That’s a suicide pact with history.

M88 is an embarrassment: not the measure (Vote Yes), but the fact that it’s even on the ballot. OFIR is playing on the fears of too many ill-informed Oregonians in order to advance their racist/nativist agenda. Voting no on M88 is an abject surrender to fear and hate. Vote yes, defeat the fear-mongers, and let’s set our sights on making America free. Not chained and imprisoned with borders built from violence, fear, and lies.

Categories: Blue Oregon Blogs

M88: A manga'd perspective

October 9, 2014 - 4:28pm

images by Kim Hye Jin, from "Girls of the Wilds", which is written by HUN.

There is no excuse for SB 833 being referred to the voters in this way. This is a common-sense law of the first order. Living in Oregon without documentation is not illegal, but it sure is a good target for right-wing demagogues. M88 is supported by business and labor, by community groups, faith organizations, and more. Testing and insuring drivers: that's what M88 is about.

Support the measure. More info at Vote Yes on 88.

Categories: Blue Oregon Blogs

Sherry Hall strikes again: All Clackamas County marriages since May 19 may be invalid

October 9, 2014 - 12:00pm

By Tom Civiletti of Oak Grove, Oregon. Tom Civiletti is a longtime Clackamas County progressive activist.

Once upon a time, John Kauffman was Clackamas County Clerk.

The office ran smoothly and elections were run fairly and legally. Then Kauffman took the job running elections in Multnomah County and was replaced in Clackamas County by Sherry Hall in 2002. Hall's tenure has seen a stream of mistakes and poor judgment, many of which suggest partisanship.

The problems have included sending the wrong ballots to voters, not sending ballots to voters, Voters' Pamphlets with incorrect or missing information, poor process in the verification of petition signatures, exclusion of Democratic Party observers from ballot counting, a temporary employee marking selections on voters' ballots, using the term 'Democrat Party' on ballots [did the hair on the back of your neck just stand up?], refusing to accept filings from Democratic Party precinct committee people, and attempting to charge citizens filing an initiative petition for the cost of an election.

Now Sherry Hall's questionable performance has impacted the Recording Division. Peter Toll's column "Sherry Hall Up To New Tricks Contrary to Law" on the Clackamas County Democrats' website discusses Hall's latest politically-driven folly. According to the blog, when same-sex marriage became legal in Oregon this May, Hall both stopped performing civil marriages [part of her duties] and refused to sign all marriage certificates -- instead stamping them 'CLACKAMAS COUNTY CLERK'.

This appears to violate Oregon legal procedure, calling into question the validity of all marriages in Clackamas County performed since May 19 of this year.

Marital status can have profound legal and financial impact on couples. It appears that Sherry Hall has prioritized her politics above the vital interests of the people she was elected to serve. While we all have the right to our own opinions, elected officials have a duty to act in the public interest according to established law and rule.

To act otherwise is dereliction of duty.

Categories: Blue Oregon Blogs

Register to Vote Online in Oregon Now!

October 9, 2014 - 11:45am

Let's legalize marijuana - I want to see us sending less people to jail for no good reason. Labeling GMOs also makes sense. Voter registration in Oregon ends on 10.14 - don't miss this historic opportunity!

I'd love to legalize marijuana here in Oregon in a couple days. There are so many reasons this makes sense - not putting people in jail unecessarily (freeing funds for other actual problems) - creating all sorts of job - making it easier for people who need marijuana-related products for healing to receive them, legally - reducing peoples' intake of alcohol (more on that another time, but I see a connection) - hemp may be the best answer to a lot of problems we face today - climate change, clear-cut logging of Oregon forests for paper products. Anyway, I think I could probably brainstorm about 100 reasons why this will be good for Oregon (tourism) - feel free to add your thoughts in the comments section below. The news media mainly focuses on tax revenue - but I think that's just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the positives!

We have 5 days left to register to vote here. And then, we get our ballots in 9 days, and then we vote.

We will also vote to Label GMOs (poison), which would delight me. As far as I can tell GMOs are creating a poisonous environment that are increasing cancer risks. By labeling any products that have them - I believe it will force food companies to reformulate their products (as they've done in other countries) so they can avoid having to include a GMO label. I learned about this and more in the film GMO OMG which has been showing around town. The film-makers are making screening rights free for anyone who wants to host a gathering on the topic - it's quite brilliant and I highly recommend viewing it if you're interested in learning more about the issue.

Some relevant links to share:

Register to vote online here

  1. Vote yes on 91 - Legalize It! Vote Yes on 91 - Endorsers
  2. Vote yes on 92 - Label GMO (poison) - YES!

91: Video with Rick Steves

92: Lively Video about GMOs by my friend, Dana Lyons

Thanks for your efforts to get everyone you know registered to vote. Know someone who has moved in the last 2 years? Know someone who turned or turns 18 before election day? Send them this link, thanks!


Both of these campaigns can also use our $-support and any time you can spare to Get out the Vote (GOTV) - Bring a posse with you for best results :)

Categories: Blue Oregon Blogs

Register to Vote On-Line in Oregon

October 9, 2014 - 11:45am

I want to legalize marijuana - I want to see us sending less people to jail for no good reason. Labeling GMOs also makes sense.

I'd love to legalize marijuana here in Oregon in a couple days. There are so many reasons this makes sense - not putting people in jail unecessarily (freeing funds for other actual problems) - creating all sorts of job - making it easier for people who need marijuana-related products for healing to receive them, legally - reducing peoples' intake of alcohol (more on that another time, but I see a connection) - hemp may be the best answer to a lot of problems we face today - climate change, clear-cut logging of Oregon forests for paper products. Anyway, I think I could probably brainstorm about 100 reasons why this will be good for Oregon (tourism) - feel free to add your thoughts in the comments section below. The news media mainly focuses on tax revenue - but I think that's just the tip of the iceberg in terms of the positives!

We have 5 days left to register to vote here. And then, we get our ballots in 9 days, and then we vote.

We will also vote to Label GMOs (poison), which would delight me. As far as I can tell GMOs are poisons that are increasing the rates of cancer. By labeling any products that have them - I believe it will force food companies to reformulate their products (as they've done in other countries) so they can avoid having to include a GMO label. I learned about this and more in the film GMO OMG which has been showing around town. The film-makers are making screening rights free for anyone who wants to host a gathering on the topic - it's quite brilliant and I highly recommend viewing it if you're interested in learning more about the issue.

Some relevant links to share:

Register to vote on-line here

  1. Vote yes on 91 - Legalize It! Vote Yes on 91
  2. Vote yes on 92 - Label GMO (poison) - YES!

91: Video with Rick Steves

92: Lively Video about GMOs by my friend, Dana Lyons

Thanks for your efforts to get everyone you know registered to vote. Know someone who has moved in the last 2 years? Know someone who turned or turns 18 before election day? Send them this link, thanks!


Categories: Blue Oregon Blogs

Yes, your access to health care depends on who the next Governor is.

October 9, 2014 - 7:00am

By Michele Stranger Hunter of Portland, Oregon. Michele is the executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon Previously, she contributed "Great news! The Hobby Lobby ruling does not apply in Oregon"

The Oregon Governor hires the heads of at least 22 statewide agencies and appoints over 250 boards, commissions, task forces and work groups who affect everything from potholes, to birth control.

Here are eight ways Oregon’s Governor can use his executive authority to help or hurt women’s health.

1. A Governor can veto legislation including the state budget.

In 1999, Governor Kitzhaber vetoed the entire human resources budget because it included a ban on access to safe, legal abortion for low-income Oregonians. Governor Kitzhaber also vetoed a bill that would have endangered young women’s health by requiring parental notification prior to an abortion. Just as Governor Kitzhaber used the veto to protect women’s reproductive freedoms, Dennis Richardson would use his veto ability to attack them. In 1990 he actually said, “A woman relinquishes her unfettered right to control her own body when her actions cause the conception of a baby.”

2. The Governor appoints the heads of Oregon Health Authority and the Oregon Insurance Division.

The Governor appoints agency heads that develop and enforce many of Oregon’s policies on access to affordable reproductive health services. For example, the Oregon Insurance Division is responsible for upholding the Affordable Care Act that makes all FDA approved forms of birth control available, at no cost, to Oregon women. It is safe to say that if Dennis Richardson is elected, this would not be the case. In 2007, Richardson voted against a bill requiring insurance companies to cover birth control – this is the same law that now is protecting Oregon women from having their contraception coverage dropped despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision.

3. The Governor appoints the Board of Pharmacy.

The Board of Pharmacy controls pharmacies and policies around the morning after pill. Oregon recently completed a survey of pharmacies to make certain that Oregon women were receiving accurate and reliable information on the morning after pill. With a pro-choice Governor in office, Oregon pharmacies are required to follow policies that ensure Oregon women have access to the morning after pill throughout the state.

4. Because of the ACA and Gov. Kitzhaber’s choice to expand Medicaid, 95% of Oregonians now have health insurance.

A woman struggling to make ends meet should not have to make decisions about her reproductive health based on how she gets her health coverage or how much money she has—her decision should be based on what is best for her and her family’s circumstances, and because of John Kitzhaber in Oregon she can. In contrast, Texas Gov. Rick Perry rejected Medicaid expansion leaving millions of women uninsured and signed harsh anti-choice legislation that forced over 30 abortion clinics to close. Rick Perry’s fundraiser Saturday for Dennis Richardson tells us all we need to know about his priorities for women’s healthcare.

5. The Oregon Governor sets the budget and goals for Coordinated Care Organization (CCOs).

Across Oregon, CCOs work to transform the healthcare system to bring better health, better care and lower costs to Oregonians, which includes tracking women and unplanned pregnancies. Unplanned pregnancies lead to poorer health outcomes for both the mother and infant. Governor Kitzhaber prioritizes health care for all Oregon women and this is passed on to our CCOs. By working to lower incidents of unplanned pregnancies, CCO’s are working for a healthier Oregon.

6. Under the Oregon Constitution, the Governor appoints vacancies in Circuit Court Judges, Court of Appeals Judges, Supreme Court Justices, Justices of the Peace, and District Attorneys.

A governor’s judicial appointments may one day end up ruling on some of Oregon’s strong abortion rights laws. An anti-choice governor’s appointments could be disastrous. Just last week in Texas, federal judges favored an anti-choice state law in a ruling that closed most Texas abortion clinics.

7. The Governor appoints all 12 members of the Oregon Medical Board.

The Governor appoints members to the Board of Health who share his commitment to women’s health and support his plan to review health center regulations. The Oregon Medical Board does careful background checks on each medical provider, and follows up on each complaint regarding care to best ensure all health policies meet the needs of all Oregonians. When the Governor knows that women’s access to comprehensive care, including abortion services, is essential to the well being of them and their families, you know the board of health doesn’t ignore women’s health issues. As Kitzhaber said “Ensuring that women have access to birth control, prenatal and preventive care and the right to choose gives them the economic freedom to pursue their dreams. And it’s an Oregon value that I fight for every day.”

8. The Governor inherently effects legislation.

The governor sets the tone and can push for state legislation. Governor Kitzhaber has pushed for health care for all women and laws protecting low-income women’s access to abortion. I think we all know the laws Dennis Richardson would push for… Since taking office in 2003, Richardson has sponsored multiple bills that would have restricted women’s rights. Fortunately, none of them became law. In 2006, Richardson was the chief sponsor of Ballot Measure 43, which would have forced young women to notify their parents prior to an abortion. Oregon voters rejected it. In 2009, Richardson voted against medically accurate, age-appropriate sexual health education. It’s impossible to believe that Richardson would not use all the power of the office to support these types bills if he were elected Governor.

These are eight reasons to vote for Governor Kitzhaber this November.

The threat to women’s lives is real. It is close to home this election as we are one Governor away from becoming an anti-choice state. Take a stand for what you believe and stop an anti-choice, anti-women candidate from having the reins of our state government.

Pledge to vote for Governor Kitzhaber!

Categories: Blue Oregon Blogs

Sen. Betsy Close: One of the 12 dirtiest legislators in the nation.

October 8, 2014 - 7:00am

Consider this: There are 7,382 state legislators in America. Ninety of them are right here in Oregon.

That collection of 7,382 surely contains a whole lot of terrible, horrible, no good, very bad legislators. Heck, I can think of several right here in Oregon.

But just 12 -- a cool dozen -- made the national League of Conservation Voters list of the very worst anti-environment legislators in the country. And one of those is right here in Oregon.

Ladies and gents, I give you Senator Betsy Close (R-Albany).

Said OLCV's Doug Moore: “Betsy Close’s lifetime OLCV score of 7% made her an obvious choice for the Dirty Dozen list. She has voted against Oregon’s environment time and again, stands with corporate polluters, and denies that climate change is happening. It’s clear that Betsy Close’s anti-conservation views are too extreme for Oregon.”

The good news is that Close is being challenged by Rep. Sara Gelser. Gelser's campaign is rocking on all cylinders, with lots of local volunteers and supporters pitching in across the state. (You can pitch in here, folks. Be generous!)

The national Dirty Dozen list is nothing to sneeze at either. In 2012, seven of the 12 named were defeated for re-election, including Rep. Mike Schaufler (D) right here in Oregon.

Categories: Blue Oregon Blogs

Move for $40?

October 7, 2014 - 4:11pm

Say that you’re the sole breadwinner for your family and you earn $100,000 a year in Oregon. Would you pack your belongings and move your family north to Washington for a $40 monthly raise? It’s hard to imagine.

Read Move Across State Lines for $40 a Month? Oregon's Taxes Should Make Little Difference to Workers' Decisions and discuss here.

Chuck Sheketoff is the executive director of the Oregon Center for Public Policy. You can sign up to receive email notification of OCPP materials at www.ocpp.org.

Categories: Blue Oregon Blogs