Medford City Councilor Kim Wallan announced she will run for the Oregon House District 6 seat, and she received an endorsement from outgoing Rep. Sal Esquivel. Wallan, a Republican and former lawyer who has lived with her family in Medford for 31 years, is in her first term as councilor but was previously a member of the Medford School Board. She said she is similar politically to Esquivel, but her legal background gives her a different perspective.
Oregon Public Broadcasting
Oregon Secretary of State Dennis Richardson wants to move the state’s next presidential primary to an earlier date. The Republican sent a letter on Wednesday to legislative leaders and Gov. Kate Brown seeking their help in making such a change, which Richardson’s office says would require legislative approval.
Richardson said in his proposal that “candidates for all non-presidential offices would continue to be nominated in the May election.” That would avoid the scenario of holding a primary for state legislative candidates immediately following the legislative session that is held in February of even-numbered years. But it would also mean the state would bear the expense of holding an entirely separate election solely for the purpose of selecting the presidential nominees.
The request raises the possibility that all three states on America’s West Coast could have presidential primaries in March 2020, which would generate more national attention, and more visits by candidates wooing voters.
Commissioners unanimously picked Salinas, a lobbyist representing some of Oregon’s powerful public employee unions and pro-abortion access groups, to fill the seat vacated by Ann Lininger, who Gov. Kate Brown tapped for a judgeship this summer. In a statement, House Majority Leader Jennifer Williamson, D-Portland, said Salinas’ “skilled advocacy” will serve her well in the Legislature. Salinas said on Facebook that she looks forward to “rolling up my sleeves” in Salem.
Unite Oregon Executive Director Kayse Jama officially announced his candidacy last week for Oregon Senate District 24, which covers East Multnomah County along with portions of Gresham and Happy Valley in Clackamas County. For Jama, fair and affordable housing is a top priority. He told The Skanner that he’s “advocating for full funding of our education system, and (to) ensure renters are as powerful as homeowners, landlords, and property management companies when policy decisions are made.”
One out of every four elected state legislators in Oregon has employed a family member at taxpayer expense this year, records show.
In a sign that the 2017 forest fire season still has a lot of fight left, officials on Thursday advised immediate emergency evacuation of the Breitenbush Hot Springs resort and Breitenbush vacation home areas. The affected region is east of Detroit and north of Highway 22 in the northern section of the Willamette National Forest. “These areas are now being threatened by the Little Devil Fire and are no longer considered safe for occupation,” Marion County officials said in a news release.
With rain on the way, officials on Thursday said firefighters continue to employ burnout operations along the eastern portion of Interstate 84 as the Eagle Creek fire continues steady growth. The wildfire, which has burned since Sept. 2, is now 17 percent contained.
Residents in Breitenbush Hot Springs and Breitenbush Summer Homes have been told to immediately leave as the Little Devil fire creeps closer Thursday. The area, which is about 60 miles east of Salem, has been under a level 2 evacuation notice for weeks, meaning that residents should prepare to leave immediately if necessary. The Marion County Sheriff’s Office increased the notice to a level 3 on Thursday.
The fire has burned 2,252 acres and is zero percent contained. But the fire stayed within containment lines overnight Thursday, and firefighters kept it north of Highway 26 and away from the adjacent households, according to the Forest Service. Residents are now under a Level 1 evacuation notice, which advises them to stay aware and ready for a potential evacuation.
JOBS & THE ECONOMY
Oregonian household earnings are now statistically tied with the nation as a whole after decades trailing the rest of the country. New numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau put Oregon’s median household income at $57,532, within the margin of error for the U.S. median of $57,617.
The not-so good news, according to the Oregon Center for Public Policy, is that not everybody is benefiting from the state’s booming economy. “Only non-Hispanic Whites and Latinos saw significant declines in poverty rates over the prior year,” writes OCPP analyst Janet Bauer.
“This is the time of year that the mills start building up inventory (of logs) to get them through the winter months,” said Jim Geisinger, executive vice president of Associated Oregon Loggers. “The fires have interrupted those plans.” This week, for example, Swanson Group shut down plywood plants in Glendale and Roseburg, idling 300 workers, because it could not get enough logs, owner Steve Swanson said.
Portland Business Journal
Work has begun on the Eastern Oregon wind farm that will provide Apple Inc. with the ultra-green tech company’s single biggest dose of renewable energy yet.
Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) aims to power its global facilities entirely with renewable energy, and its first preference is new renewable projects that it owns. Where that’s not viable, the company says, it looks to do “long-term renewable energy purchase contracts, supporting new, local projects” — the case with Montague, which is about 100 miles north of the company’s Prineville data center.
EDUCATION & HIGHER EDUCATION
Oregon student test scores dropped in most grades with the exception of high school, according to a review of statewide data. The state is in its third year administering the end-of the-year Smarter Balanced Assessment for English and Math, and Oregon Assessment of Knowledge and Skills to students in grades 3 through 8 and juniors in high school.
In 2014-15, the state switched to the Smarter Balanced tests, which are given to students in grades three through eight and 11 in math, science and English language arts. In 2016-17, 53.6 percent of Oregon students were proficient or better in English language arts, down from 55.2 percent in the previous school year, according to data released Thursday by the Oregon Department of Education. Oregon’s proficiency rates in math and science were also down from the school year before, as were many of Central Oregon school districts’ results.
State Rep. Sal Esquivel, R-Medford, a member of the Wes Howard Foundation, called the building “a place for big ideas.” “It has been a long process but we have people who are very diligent and persistent with their works,” Esquivel said. “So let’s get it done. Let’s get this thing built for these kids.” Logos, established in 2010 in a 9,500-square-foot facility on Earhart Street, has quickly grown to its capacity of 1,000 students.
Executive Director Sheryl Zimmerer said at the ceremony that the $5.3 million new school will be a milestone for the institution, not only in physical facility but also in programs. “This is not about getting more kids into the buildings,” Zimmerer said. “We are expanding in the services and activities for the kids at our charter school.”
With the gift from Grace-Bio Labs President Charles McGrath, the university has now raised $8.9 million of the $10 million it needs to match a proposed state bond. It brings the campus closer to its goal of having 3,000 to 5,000 students by 2025, OSU-Cascades Vice President Becky Johnson said Thursday. “We need to get this next academic building in place before we run out of space on campus,” Johnson said.
Portland Community College has announced the creation of a program, housed at the Rock Creek Campus north of Beaverton, that will focus on services for undocumented immigrants and recipients of the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, or DACA, program. “The PCC Board of Directors believes in our DREAMers,” said PCC Board Chair Kali Thorne-Ladd. “Community colleges are open-access institutions whose mission is to educate and empower students to achieve their academic and career goals. DACA is an important asset that facilitates this mission, providing stability and economic opportunity.”
ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT
As the Eagle Creek Fire continues to burn, area residents have a lot to worry about. Homes and businesses are being threatened in the communities that have been evacuated, air quality has led to medical issues, and many are trying to find a place to stay while they wait for things to settle down.
Oregon Public Broadcasting
While regulations and cleaner energy have meant the air’s getting a little cleaner for everyone, a new study by University of Washington researchers shows that, at every income level, people of color are still exposed to more air pollution than white people.
COURTS & PUBLIC SAFETY
The American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon is threatening to sue over conditions for immigration detainees at a jail in The Dalles. In letter sent to the administrators of Northern Oregon Regional Correction Facility, the ACLU demands access to doctors, lawyers and exercise, among other changes.
The Metro Council may ask voters to create a regional funding source to preserve and build more affordable housing, especially outside of Portland. Ideas under consideration include a regional construction excise tax, a property tax measure, or some authority to dedicate property tax increases caused by new developments to such projects.
Portland has fallen short of its pledge to spend 95 percent of arts tax revenue on music and art programs. City officials have devoted almost 8 percent of the funds on administrative activities, exceeding the 5 percent cap promised to voters who approved the tax in 2012, a report presented to the city council Wednesday showed.
Salem Mayor Chuck Bennett says he will seek reelection in 2018. Bennett, a first-term mayor, plans to retire from his job as a lobbyist with the Confederation of Oregon School Administrators next March, freeing up his schedule to work on mayoral duties.
Beginning in July, state and local governments started a series of elevated payments to buy-down a $24.5 billion unfunded liability. If all goes as foreseen by the actuaries—investment returns are good and no additional missteps are made—public employers could expect relief in the late 2030s. And only then, a mistake that drew its origins from botched legislation in the late 1960s would come to a close. Seventy years later.
Secretary of State Dennis Richardson has an excellent idea: Move Oregon’s presidential primary to sometime in March, when our votes might carry some weight. That, he believes, would increase interest in those primaries, both from candidates and from voters.
As hunters across the state set their sights on the opening of the deer-hunting season, we offer a call to action backed by the Oregon Hunters Association and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife. Turn poachers in.
In the end, it all comes down to this: No one, no teenager and no adult, has been charged with the Eagle Creek Fire. Oregon State Police are continuing to investigate the cause of the blaze, and they have arrested no one. No one has been convicted of a crime, or, in fact, charged with committing one. Until that changes, there’s no reason to expect anyone to make a juvenile’s name public when there does seem to be legitimate reason to fear for the suspect’s safety.
The Associated Press
Hundreds of London police embarked on a massive manhunt Friday, racing to find out who placed a homemade bomb on a packed London subway train during the morning rush hour. The explosion wounded 22 people and ignited a panicked stampede to safety. Witnesses described seeing a “wall of fire” as the bomb — hidden in a plastic bucket inside a supermarket freezer bag — went off about 8:20 a.m. while the train was at the Parsons Green station in southwest London.
The Federal Trade Commission, a consumer watchdog agency, confirmed Thursday it’s investigating the credit reporting agency for hacker attacks on its data systems that compromised personal data on nearly half of all U.S. consumers. “The FTC typically does not comment on ongoing investigations. However, in light of the intense public interest and the potential impact of this matter, I can confirm that FTC staff is investigating the Equifax data breach,” said Peter Kaplan, the FTC’s acting director of public affairs, in a statement.