Million Dollar Races for Oregon Legislature

Big Spending for Seats in Oregon

The Oregonian
January 16. 2015
by Jeff Mapes

Spending on Oregon legislative campaigns appeared to rise to a record level last year – but this time Democrats had a decided financial advantage.

An analysis by The Oregonian/OregonLive of campaign disclosure reports shows that legislative candidates spent about $23.7 million last year running for office.

That's an increase from the nearly $23 million spent by candidates in 2012, according to a similar analysis by The Oregonian/OregonLive two years ago. Studies done in past years by the National Institute on Money in State Politics, which focused on fundraising instead of spending, add to evidence that Oregon's legislative campaign spending hit a record last year.

Progressive Party Leaders Oppose Portland Involvement with JTTF

Portland City Council to consider withdrawing from FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force

Alaina Melville at City HallBrad Schmidt

December 2, 2014

The Portland City Council, led by Mayor Charlie Hales, is considering withdrawing city police officers from the federal Joint Terrorism Task Force.

Hales on Monday scheduled a Dec. 18 meeting where the City Council will consider "withdrawal from JTTF involvement." The 2 p.m. meeting is scheduled to run 90 minutes.

The move from Hales, a long-time skeptic of task force involvement, may have the political support in City Hall to dissolve the Police Bureau's hazy relationship with the group. Commissioners Amanda Fritz and Steve Novick have questioned involvement and have criticized the city's skimpy annual reports about the partnership.   Read Article at Oregonian.

Oregonian Article on Our Protest v. Police Spy Cams

Protesters gather to oppose Portland police plan for video surveillance cameras

May 09, 2012
Maxine Bernstein

The Oregon Progressive Party is protesting the Portland Police Bureau's proposal to place video surveillance cameras on private property in Old Town to help monitor drug deals.

Roberto Lovato"Instead of spying on our citizens and creating a police surveillance state in the vein of Orwell's 'Big Brother,' the PPB should be using their limited resources in prevention and treatment, not adding another weapon to the failed War on Drugs," said Phillip Kauffman, Oregon Progressive Party state council member.

About 20 people came to protest outside City Hall on Wednesday morning. Meanwhile, the mayor pulled the item from the morning's council agenda, and referred it back to his office. Last week, Commissioner Dan Saltzman said he wouldn't support the program unless Chief Mike Reese adopted protocol restricting the camera's use and stating the consequences of any misuse.

The chief has said the cameras, which can "pan, tilt and zoom," would focus on public spaces and the images could be monitored by officers' smartphones, mobile computers in their cars or laptops. He said the surveillance could be helpful in aiding police in drug and gang enforcement.

Roberto Lovato, among the protesters, said he had hoped the demonstration would put pressure on the mayor to halt the plan. "If they get the OK to put them up in Old Town and Chinatown, they'll put them everywhere," Lovato said.

The chief's proposal to hold private property owners harmless from any liability that might arise from the installation of the police cameras on their buildings had been placed on the council's consent agenda two weeks ago as an emergency ordinance.

Portland Copwatch objected, and it was pulled off the consent agenda last week and placed on the regular agenda last week allowing for council discussion. The American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon also has opposed the police plan, saying the surveillance is ineffective and a waste of resources.

The Citizens Crime Commission supports the proposal, saying it will increase security for area businesses and help police enforcement of street-level drug dealing in Old Town Chinatown.

Oregonian Says Bill to Criminalize Protest is Dead

Attempt to criminalize tweets that solicit law-breaking fizzles at Oregon Legislature

occupy crowd.JPG
Flash mobs that engage in criminal activity are the target of a bill that would make it illegal to electronically summon two or more people to a designated place to do something that is against the law. Critics say the bill, which appears dead, is aimed at preventing demonstrations such as Occupy Portland.

SALEM -- It was dubbed the "flash mob" bill when it got a hearing Monday at the Oregon Legislature -- a proposal to make it a felony to summon people by Twitter or email to commit a crime at a designated place.

Now it's more like flash-in-the-pan.

"It's dead," said Sen. Floyd Prozanski, the Eugene Democrat who, because he holds the gavel to the Senate Judiciary Committee, gets to decide such things.

Yet 11 Republicans and one Democrat signed onto Senate Bill 1534, which would have created the crime of "aggravated solicitation." And we're not talking street corners here.

Sen. Doug Whitsett, R-Klamath Falls, said he asked for the bill because he heard from retailers about being victims of flash mobs that steal stuff. It wasn't meant to stifle free speech, he said, but to bring law enforcement up to date with the modern era of social media and instant communication.

"If someone wants to bring a whole bunch of people to the Capitol to demonstrate, no problem," he said. "But if they're solicited to come to the Capitol at 9 p.m. to firebomb the place, that's a problem."

Critics say it's an unusual -- and dangerous -- incursion into the freedom to protest, not to mention tweet.

"I would expect a law like this is Myanmar, Turkmenistan, North Korea or Zimbabwe," said Dan Meek, a Portland attorney who testified Monday. Not, he said, at the Oregon Legislature.

Letter in Oregonian (and dozens of comments) Support Steven Reynolds for Congress

Oregon's 1st District: My choice for Congress

Letter to Editor by Robert Enninga (Beaverton)
January 20, 2012

Note: This letter is followed, on the Oregonian website, by dozens of comments, the vast majority in support of voting for Steven Reynolds. To see the comments, click on the title above.

I have always proudly and enthusiastically voted and returned my ballot the day after it arrived in my mail. But this "special election" for representative in the 1st Congressional District became anything but special as we once again suffered the ad nauseam bombardment of negative attack ads from both the Republican and Democratic candidates and their supporting organizations. Disgusted, I found for the first time in my 40 years of voting that I was prepared to write in "None of the above" on my ballot, rather than vote for either perpetrator of the same old hyper-partisan "politics as usual."

When I opened my ballot envelope, though, I was thrilled to find that I had another choice: Progressive Party candidate Steven Reynolds, an "Unemployed, Disabled Veteran" and "West Point Graduate." I know nothing at all about Reynolds other than what he submitted for publication in the Voters' Pamphlet. But I found that I agree with every word that Reynolds wrote.

I too believe that Congress is a "dysfunctional organization" that has become an "embarrassment." And I also know that Reynolds has not participated in the politics of personal attack, as have the Democratic and Republican candidates in this race. And that counts, for me.

This one is simple. Steven Reynolds, thank you for your service to our country and for the personal sacrifices you have made. You earned my vote, and I very much hope that my fellow voters of Oregon's 1st Congressional District, regardless of their party affiliations, will see the wisdom of saying "no more politics as usual" and will join me in voting to send you to Congress to represent the state of Oregon.

Steve Duin Writes about Bill Opposed by Progressive Party

Oregon Senate Bill 408: The rise and fall of rational law

Steve Duin, The Oregonian
June 26, 2011

Once upon a time, a group of thoughtful and motivated people gathered in the state capitol and conspired to do something good.

They were met with understandable skepticism. Their plan did not cater Oregon's utilities. It did not reward the biggest campaign contributors. It was not carefully scripted by the usual lobbyists.

The lone beneficiaries of this work group? Utility ratepayers.

Between 1998 and 2005, Portland General Electric customers were charged $750 million in state and federal taxes that were never paid to the taxing authorities.

Those millions ended up, instead, in the pocket of Enron, which owned PGE. The scam was incredibly lucrative, and one of the main reasons Texas Pacific employed Neil Goldschmidt and Tom Walsh in its failed attempt to buy the utility.

In 2005, the tax dodge was ended by a group that included Dan Meek, Ann Fisher, Bob Jenks, Melinda Davison and two Democratic state senators, Rick Metsger and Vicki Walker.

They were determined, indignant, inventive. Their solution -- Senate Bill 408 -- ordered utilities to turn over the amount billed as taxes to the government or return that money to the ratepayers.

The fix was so obvious it passed the Legislature on an 84-6 vote. It yielded immediate results.

PGE ratepayers received a $40 million refund. Northwest Natural customers paid $12 million more in taxes because the friendly neighborhood utility earned more than its authorized rate of return. PGE actually began paying state income taxes.

Then your 2011 Legislature came along and blew the plan to hell.    Read more ...

Oregonian Writes about SB 270A

Oregon House will vote on capping fines for campaign finance violations
Jeff Mapes
June 14, 2011

SALEM -- Oregon legislators are nearing a final vote on a bill that could dramatically lower the potential penalties that lawmakers – and other political candidates -- face for violating campaign finance reporting laws.

Senate Bill 270, which is nearing the last legislative step of passage on the House floor, would cap potential fines at $5,000 a month for any and all reporting violations. Under current law, each violation can be subject to a fine of as much as 10 percent of the dollar amount of the transaction, which could result in vastly larger penalties.    Read more at The Oregonian ...

Oregonian on SB 967 -- Reinstates Utility Tax Scam

Legislators scrap law on taxing ratepayers

A new bill readdresses the taxes that utilities actually pay versus the taxes they pass on to their customers

Note: This article is not available online at The Oregonian.

May 14, 2011

After a six-year fight over a law to prevent utilities from charging ratepayers for taxes that the utilities don't pay, the Legislature has punted the issue back to utility regulators.

Senate Bill 967, passed by the Legislature on Thursday, gets rid of a complicated annual tax true-up that resulted in a surcharge or refund to ratepayers based on whether regulators determined that the utility had overcollected or undercollected from ratepayers to cover its tax bill. Instead, taxes will go back to being part of standard rate cases. The bill directs the Oregon Public Utility Commission to analyze all tax benefits, liabilities and credits, as well as a utility's corporate structure and tax payment history when setting utility rates.

The bill also directs the PUC to consider the effect of any merger on utility taxes.

The bill, if signed by the governor, effectively kills Senate Bill 408, which was passed in 2005 to protect ratepayers from phantom taxation. OPUC commissioner Susan Ackerman said she believes the new rate case treatment of taxes will achieve the original intent in a cleaner fashion. "We learned so much about the complications of federal tax law that we almost have a different staff," she said. "They will bring that knowledge to bear" during rate cases.

It was the PUC's implementation of SB 408, as much as the law itself, that generated so much controversy in subsequent years. Dan Meek, a Portland area lawyer who was instrumental in pushing the original legislation, said Friday that the original idea was to reduce the PUC's discretion to allow utilities to charge ratepayers for phony taxes. The PUC opposed the bill, he said, then sabotaged the law by adopting a methodology to calculate utilities' tax liabilities that was neither transparent nor confirm-able.

"What this bill does is once again give the PUC discretion to allow utilities to charge ratepayers for phony income taxes," Meek said. "I don't see any reason to expect them to be any different than they were in 2005 and earlier. This is a victory for utilities and a defeat for ratepayers."    Read more ...

Oregonian Article on Our JTTF Protest

Joint Terrorism Task Force debate captures Portland's idiosyncratic attitude
March 10, 2011
by Brad Schmidt, The Oregonian

jttfprotest.JPGProtesters stormed into Portland City Hall on Thursday to deliver petitions to policymakers' offices opposing involvement in the federal Joint Terrorism Task Force. When the group couldn't get beyond a lobby security point, protesters began shouting "City Council, Come on Down!" Only Commissioner Randy Leonard appeared, helping a representative deliver the petitions and talking the group into moving back outside, where the demonstration began.

For confirmation of "Keep Portland Weird"-ness, look no further than the decade-old debate about the Joint Terrorism Task Force.

Nowhere else have city leaders limited their relationship with the FBI over civil liberties.

Nowhere else have activists protested involvement of a handful of police officers.

Nowhere else have discussions come up again and again, with packed City Hall galleries, flipflopping politicians and onlookers who jeer cooperative agreements with the feds.

And now the debate is back.

Oregonian Reports on Progressive DeFazio's "Tax Rebellion"

December 9, 2010
by Charles Pope

WASHINGTON -- House Democrats on Thursday emphatically rejected the tax deal President Barack Obama forged with Republicans, insisting that no votes be taken on the package until it is substantially changed.

The declaration came in response to a proposal by Rep. Peter DeFazio that the proposal extending for two years tax cuts for all earners -- even the richest Americans -- bill be kept from the House floor until it is reopened and changed.

The near-unanimous voice vote by the Democratic caucus came soon after DeFazio offered his resolution during an early-morning, closed meeting. And while the vote is not binding and is not likely to kill the agreement, it underscored the anger and unhappiness House Democrats have with the deal and the way the White House conducted negotiations.

In arguing for the ban, DeFazio called the bill "inherently defective" because it rewards the richest American and adds $800 billion to the national debt.    Read more ...

Letter Writer Finds New Hope in Nader

New hope: Nader

Most of us didn't realize that when Barack Obama talked of hope during his presidential campaign, it meant hope for insurance and pharmaceutical companies, the military-industrial complex, banks that were bailed out and the bankers who received huge bonuses.

But when consumer activist and third party presidential candidate Ralph Nader spoke in Portland on Saturday, I felt a sense of hope. It wasn't because he made promises. As a matter of fact, he talked a lot about what our president hasn't done.

Nader was in Portland to promote the Progressive Party. It was the audience reaction to his speech that inspired me, and the hope that perhaps Americans will stop watching sports and television long enough to sift through mass media information and learn what is going on in America and to care.


Oregonian: State Treasurer employees get $475,000 in bonuses, as funds they manage lose 27% of value

Oregon Treasurer's fund managers get thousands in bonuses

by Michelle Cole
September 30, 2009

Eleven employees in the Oregon treasurer's office received bonuses in February ranging from $9,860 to $57,006.

The money was paid as a performance reward to investment managers who oversee the Oregon Public Employees Retirement Fund, the Common Schools Fund and other portfolios totaling about $60 billion.

. . . Last year, with the nation mired in recession, the Public Employees Retirement Fund was down 27 percent, which was not comforting to thousands of retirees but in line with other public pension systems. Based on the performance of the fund and other state funds, 11 of the 14 investment managers in the treasurer's office were paid a total of $475,000 in bonuses and related costs.

Oregonian: Treasurer Calls for Reform of . . . Treasurer's Office

Oregon Treasurer Ted Wheeler calls for travel audit, agency reform

by Les Zaitz and Ted Sickinger
April 14, 2010

State Treasurer Ted Wheeler stepped up his efforts Wednesday to reform his agency in the wake of disclosures that employees have been traveling in luxury at the expense of the investment firms they oversee.

Wheeler has asked Secretary of State Kate Brown to evaluate travel undertaken last year by state investment officers.

He also said he will appoint a citizens panel to review the agency's travel policies and recommend changes. He said he would then ask the Oregon Government Ethics Commission to endorse a new travel policy.

Oregonian Article on State Treasury Officers Golfing on State Time and State Dime

Despite state ethics rules, Treasury officials golf regularly on duty

by Les Zaitz and Ted Sickinger
April 11, 2010

For years, the Oregon State Treasurer's office has had a laissez faire policy on staff participation in golf outings while on duty and traveling on state business.

Ron Schmitz, Treasury's chief investment officer, said such outings had been approved by the agency's senior executives and vetted by agency attorneys, despite state law that in some circumstances prohibits taking free outings.

Employees of State Treasurer "Wined and Dined by Investment Firms The Oversee"

Oregon Treasury employees wined and dined by investment firms they oversee
The Oregonian
April 11, 2010
by Les Zaitz and Ted Sickinger
The Pebble Beach Golf Links, with Carmel beach in the background, is one of many luxury locations private investment companies use when they host investment officers from the Oregon Treasury.A limousine was waiting for John Hershey, an Oregon state investment officer, when he flew into New York for a meeting just before Thanksgiving.

So was a $495-a-night room at The Pierre Hotel, which purrs online that "even in a city where exclusive luxuries are the norm, there is one hotel that is far more rare and special."

Following an afternoon meeting, Hershey was offered cocktails and dinner at Guastavino's, which boasts "the highest staff-to-guest ratio in the city."

Hershey was in town to monitor an investment firm, and it picked up his tab for the flight, the limo, two nights at The Pierre and dinner.

That wasn't a rare occurrence among the 13 employees at the Oregon State Treasurer's office responsible for watching over $67 billion in state investments.

Syndicate content