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Thursday, March 17, 2016

Wyden, Blumenauer Introduce Bill to Open Access to Outdoor Recreation

Posted By on Thu, Mar 17, 2016 at 9:06 AM

Washington, D.C. – Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden and Rep. Earl Blumenauer today introduced legislation to increase outdoor recreation access for visitors and boost rural economies in Oregon and nationwide.

Based on input from Oregonians about how to remove bureaucratic roadblocks to public lands, the Recreation Not Red-Tape (RNR) Act expands outdoor recreation opportunities for all Americans, especially underserved communities such as veterans, seniors and young people, for the first time holds federal agencies accountable for making outdoor recreation a priority and helps maintain America’s public lands.

The bill is based on draft legislation Wyden released last fall and on concerns Wyden and Blumenauer heard during a series of listening sessions they held on a statewide tour of Oregon’s Seven Wonders last summer to gather ideas about how to open access to outdoor recreation.

“It’s time for fresh recreation policies that cut through the bureaucratic red tape that chokes off opportunities for recreation in Oregon and across the country and clears the path for first-time visitors, fresh economic opportunity and new jobs in rural communities,” Wyden said. “The RNR Act puts to work the creative ideas I heard from Oregonians about how to streamline the process when it comes to opening up access to our great outdoor places.”

“Oregonians love the outdoors – it’s who we are; it’s in our DNA. From the magnificent Columbia River Gorge to lesser known trails and creeks throughout our forests, canyons, and deserts, we’re fortunate to be surrounded by places for hiking, nature-watching, biking, and other activities,” Blumenauer said. “Unfortunately, they’re not always easily accessible. Our legislation changes that, removing burdensome barriers and helping support recreation programs so that people in Oregon and across America can more easily get out to enjoy the great outdoors.”

The “RNR” Act expedites the permitting process for recreation guides and makes it easier for visitors to get recreation use permits by making all park passes available online. The bill also focuses on getting more veterans, seniors and young people outdoors by encouraging all military branches to provide servicemembers and veterans with information about outdoor recreation, encouraging more outdoor recreation and volunteer opportunities for people 55 and older and by making a certain number of free park passes available to low-income schools.

The bill requires the Army Corps of Engineers, Bureau of Reclamation and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to promote recreation when making land and water management decisions. It also directs the federal land management agencies to find new ways to extend recreation seasons in a sustainable way.

The bill helps maintain public lands by encouraging more volunteers to assist with trail maintenance projects and by requiring the Bureau of Land Management and the Forest Service to choose up to 15 trails for prioritized maintenance.

The bill would also direct the federal land management agencies to study the full impacts of outdoor recreation on the economy, including how recreation creates job growth, tourism opportunities and boosts local economies.

Read a summary of the bill here.

Listen to audio here:

Sen. Ron Wyden AUDIO

Rep. Earl Blumenauer AUDIO  

Todd Davidson AUDIO

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Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Rep. Knute Buehler says he won't run for Governor

Posted By on Tue, Aug 25, 2015 at 10:53 AM

Rep. Knute Buehler (R-Bend) says that he won't run for Governor in 2016, as he previously suggested he might, and will instead run for re-election to the Oregon House. But he did leave the door open to a gubernatorial run further in the future.

"This was a highly personal rather than a political decision," Buehler wrote in a email to supporters. "In the end, I realized I’m not ready—just yet—to leave my medical practice, patients, nonprofit boards and business in order to commit 100% of my time that running an energetic campaign for Governor requires and deserves. Serving another term in the Oregon House will allow me to continue serving the community and the state I love while also engaging in a profession that is both fulfilling and allows my patients to lead better lives."

The email goes on to solicit financial support, calling out partisan differences and "special interests." 

"Last year, my opponents spent more than $400,000 to defeat me in a district with more Democrats than Republicans and that President Obama carried by double digits," Buehler wrote. "I expect the same army of special interests to come after me again."

Do you think Buehler made the right decision?
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Monday, March 16, 2015

Congratulations! You're (probably) registered to vote.

Posted By on Mon, Mar 16, 2015 at 2:58 PM

Oregon's newly-minted Gov. Kate Brown just made history by signing a bill to register all voting-age Oregonians with DMV-issued IDs to vote. The legislation, which Brown had initiated while still Secretary of State, allows residents to opt-out of voter registration, instead of requiring them to opt in. The move is expected to add about 300,000 voters to the rolls.

Brown told reporters at today's signing ceremony that the bill would reduce the costs and inconveniences associated with voting, as well as make it more secure. Oregon already has one of the highest voter turn-out rates in the country, a fact that is often attributed to the state's vote-by-mail system. Newly enrolled voters will receive notification in the mail instructing them how to opt-out or select a party affiliation. Those who don't choose a party will be labelled unaffiliated. 

The Oregonian has an informative Q&A about the potential implications of the bill.

What's your take?

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Wednesday, February 18, 2015

READ: Gov. Kate Brown's Inaugural Speech

Posted By on Wed, Feb 18, 2015 at 12:42 PM

Gov. Kate Brown was sworn in this morning in Salem, following the resignation of Gov. John Kitzhber. Learn more about the new governor here and here. Then read the full text of her inaugural speech below.

- - - - -

Governors Roberts and Kulongoski, tribal leaders, Speaker Kotek, President Courtney, honored colleagues, good morning.

As I take the oath of office this morning, I am blessed to have the support of a large and wonderful family, many of whom are here. I want to specially thank two people who've had a great influence on my life: my mother, Sally, and my spouse, Dan Little, who is my rock.

It's been a tough few months. The people of Oregon have had reason to question their trust in state government. Oregon has been in the national news for all the wrong reasons.

That changes starting today. It's time for us to get back to work. It's time to move Oregon forward.

Read more: Kate Brown sworn in as Oregon governor

This great state is blessed with so many amazing qualities: breath-taking natural wonders, a resilient people and an unmatched quality of life. People born here want to stay here, and people are drawn here from all over the country. We are all fiercely proud to be Oregonians.

Before I sought public office, I worked as a family law advocate. There, I witnessed first-hand the problems of people whose lives were dramatically impacted by the law, but who seldom had an impact on shaping it – the child who needs a more stable home; the survivor of domestic violence; the family struggling to make ends meet.

I carry with me their faces and stories every day when I come to work.

And throughout my 24 years in public service, I have also sought to promote transparency and trust in government, working to build confidence that our public dollars are spent wisely.

As Governor, this will not change.

I will be a Governor who wants to hear the concerns of everyday Oregonians – children and working parents, small business owners and senior citizens.

In the public dialogue about resources and priorities, they will be my central focus.

It is with everyday Oregonians in mind that I take office today with enthusiasm and purpose. The legislature is in session; the budget has been submitted and more than 1,700 bills have been filed. Speaker Kotek, President Courtney, members of the legislature, on behalf of all Oregonians, thank you for your dedication and perseverance throughout this recent ordeal.

There is a great deal of work ahead of us, and I am ready to roll up my sleeves and get to it.

We are all keenly aware of the difficult circumstances that brought us to this moment – circumstances that none of us would have predicted only a short time ago.

Governor Kitzhaber dedicated most of his adult life to serving the people of Oregon. His contributions to our state are well woven into the fabric of our public life.

But now, we must restore the public's trust.

I know that every Representative and Senator in this chamber loves Oregon as much as I do. And as I am sure you agree, in order for us to move forward, the first order of business is to regain the confidence of the people.

There are several things we can do, and one of them starts right now.

I pledge to you today that for as long as I am your Governor, I will not seek or accept any outside compensation, from any source. And I pledge further that while I am Governor, the members of my household and the members of my staff will not seek or accept any outside compensation, from any source, for any work related to the business of the State of Oregon. That simply won't happen.

Beyond that, we must seize this moment to work across party lines to restore the public's trust. That means passing meaningful legislation that strengthens the capacity and independence of the Government Ethics Commission. We also must strengthen laws to ensure timely release of public documents.

We should not leave here without getting this done.

We must work together to address these and other real problems in real time; to strengthen Oregon's recovery from the recession; to improve access to quality education and health care, and create more living-wage jobs in every corner of the state.

Although as individuals we may have our differences, one thing connects us – we are all Oregonians. We are innovators, seekers, doers. Even our state motto, "She flies with her own wings," underscores the extraordinary Oregon spirit that unites us and characterizes us as a people.

It is time once again set our sights on Oregon's future, to stretch our wings toward new horizons. Today is nearly half gone; tomorrow awaits, full of promise. Now it's time to get to work.

Thank you.
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Friday, February 13, 2015

Tell Us How You Really Feel: Gov. John Kitzhaber

Posted By on Fri, Feb 13, 2015 at 11:12 AM

As speculation about Gov. John Kitzhaber's possible resignation reaches fever pitch, with publications and politicians alike calling for his departure, we want to know what you think. Should the governor resign, or hold tight until the investigations against him reach a conclusion? Chime in with our poll and share your thoughts in the comments.

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Attorney Withdraws Second Lawsuit Challenging Councilor Roats' Election

Posted By on Fri, Feb 13, 2015 at 10:07 AM

  • Matt Fox

Local attorney Charlie Ringo has dropped his most recent lawsuit objecting to the way the City of Bend addressed the questions around Councilor Casey Roats' qualifications to serve. It was his second suit challenging the election the candidate in the four-way race for Council Seat 6, whose campaign was marked by questions about his residency and status as a qualified elector. 

Ringo first filed suit against Roats, the City of Bend and City Recorder Robyn Christie on behalf of local activist Foster Fell on Nov. 5—the day after Roats received the most votes of the four candidates—asking the Deschutes County Circuit Court to declare that Roats was not entitled to receive a certificate of election. The attorney had led the charge against Roats' qualifications, pointing out that the candidate had lived outside the city limits for 11 of the 12 months preceding the election. As a result, he argued, Roats did not meet the City Charter's requirement that candidates must have resided in the city limits for the year before their election. Further, he contended, Roats was not a qualified elector because he listed addresses on his voter registration and candidacy forms at which he was not physically residing. That latter point found its way into a complaint to the Oregon Secretary of State's office, which later found insufficient evidence Roats knowingly provided false information. 

Ringo's first lawsuit was dismissed by a local judge, who said there was not yet an issue ripe for consideration because Roats' election had not yet been certified. City Council ultimately weighed in on the matter, exercising the authority bestowed on it by the City Charter, and voted 5-2 in favor of confirming the election results.

In his second lawsuit, Ringo directed his challenge at the City, no longer naming Roats in the suit. He brought up a number of concerns about the way the City handled the evaluation of Roats qualifications. Ultimately, however, he decided to drop, but declined to elaborate on why.

"There were a variety of reasons that caused me to decide it was best to dismiss the action," Ringo said. "Time to move forward."

Roats said he was relieved to have the legal challenge behind him, but added it was bittersweet because he had looked forward to having his case heard by a judge.

"I'm appreciative that Mr. Ringo decided to drop the case before the taxpayers incurred significant expense," Roats said. "I'm confident that if a judge would have weighed in on the issue, I would have been found qualified for office. I wouldn't have continued on during the election if thought there was an even remote chance of being found ineligible."

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Monday, February 9, 2015

Independent Party of Oregon achieves major party status

Posted By on Mon, Feb 9, 2015 at 4:57 PM

  • Jessie Czopek
The Independent Party of Oregon has become the first major party in the state, outside of the Democratic and Republican parties, Secretary of State Kate Brown announced today.

As of February 2, the state determined that the party had reached the necessary threshold to qualify—membership exceeding 5 percent of the state's population. As a major party, the Independent Party will be able to hold primary elections and will also be required to endorse only candidates that belong to their party, instead of piggybacking on mainstream candidates. The party may oppose this latter requirement.

There has been some skepticism of the significance of the recognition. No other third party has achieved major party status in Oregon, but some (including the Eugene Register Guard's editorial board) say it only reached that rather low bar because voters signed up on accident, intending to declare themselves unaffiliated. 

In the chicken-egg cycle of politics, will the legitimization of the Independent Party lead more people to join? Central Oregonians are increasingly walking down the middle of the political road, and the Independent Party currently seems to straddle conventional party lines—counting among its members liberals, moderates and conservatives. Would you consider joining the newly minted major party? Take our poll and sound off in the comments.

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Friday, January 9, 2015

State Finds No Violation of Election Law by Casey Roats, Closes Investigation

Posted By on Fri, Jan 9, 2015 at 9:21 AM

  • Matt Fox
The State Elections Division closed its investigation Thursday into whether new Councilor Casey Roats ran afoul of election law in his voter registration and candidacy filings after finding insufficient evidence of a violation.

The investigation was sparked by a complaint filed by local activist Michael Funke alleging that Roats knowingly provided false address information on election-related forms. Such an act is a potential felony under Oregon law, which states in ORS 260.715(1) that "[a] person may not knowingly make a false statement, oath or affidavit when a statement, oath or affidavit is required under the election laws."

The key word here is "knowingly." Though Roats readily admitted he did not physically reside at the addresses he provided — his Roats Water System office and the property on which he was building his new home — the state did not find sufficient evidence to show that he knowingly provided false information.

The state's decision letter, from Investigations and Legal Specialist Alana Cox, lays out the rationale:

In response to my letter of inquiry, you indicated your basis for claiming 61200 Brookswood Blvd. as your address on your candidacy filing in June, 2014, and for claiming 61147 Hamilton Lane as your voting address in November, 2013. You explained that you used the Hamilton Lane address, which is the address for a business, because that was the easiest place to locate you while you were living with your parents and building a new home. You explained that you used the Brookswood Blvd. address on your candidacy filing because you intended it to be your permanent address as soon as it was habitable.

You have explained that you did not submit the addresses knowing them to be false. Instead, you believed they were acceptable based on your situation. In the future, should you have any questions about matters relating to election law, I encourage you to contact your county clerk or our office for guidance.
After a review of the information submitted the Elections Division has found insufficient evidence to indicate you violated ORS 260.715(1) in this instance.

The complaint was filed as Roats was coming under heavy scrutiny for the fact that he lived outside the city for most of the year prior to his election to Council. The Bend City Charter requires candidates to have resided within the City limits for the 12 months before their election. However, the Charter gives City Council final authority on qualification questions, and Council ruled 5-2 in a special meeting that Roats met the Charter's residency requirement.
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Thursday, January 8, 2015

City Council Swears in New Members, Elects Jim Clinton and Sally Russell as Mayor and Pro Tem

Posted By on Thu, Jan 8, 2015 at 10:51 AM

  • Erin Rook
In a quick and largely ceremonial meeting, Bend City Council swore in its three newest members. After Casey Roats, Barb Campbell and Nathan Boddie took their seats, they joined council in voting unanimously to re-elect Jim Clinton as mayor and to elect Sally Russell as mayor pro tem.

"As many people may not know, it is the Council that chooses the mayor," Clinton explained. He followed up with a nod toward his belief that the mayor out to be elected by voters."Without any editorial comment on whether that’s a good idea or not, I will proceed to open nominations."

Though Councilor Doug Knight had mounted a campaign for mayor, he opted to support Clinton and Russell, citing a lack of support among his fellow councilors.

"I understand I am but one councilman’s vote short and am subsequently compelled to withdraw my name from consideration," Knight said after thanking those in the community who supported his bid. "I am confident that Jim and Sally will lead us in a direction that is productive for us all. Please join me in voting for these two candidates."

Following the unanimous vote, Clinton thanked Council for their support and shared his vision for Bend.

"I appreciate this vote of confidence to continue in this position for a couple of years," Clinton said. "I have never been more optimistic about the future of our city.... The goal is to make this the best city in the United States."

Councilor Victor Chudowksy nominated Russell for the pro tem position (essentially designating her as the mayor when the mayor is absent), noting their strong relationship.

"It occurred to me of all people on the previous Council it was probably Sally I communicated with the most," Chudowsky said. "She listens to everybody and then makes up her mind, rather than the reverse."

New councilor Roats seconded the nomination, adding that he is impressed by Russell's dedication to the position and appreciative of her "independent streak." Russell had been a vocal supporter of Roats' opponent Lisa Seales. 

Russell likewise expressed her appreciation for the vote and emphasized the importance of how the Council approaches decision making. 
"I’m going to suggest that content is important, but the way we expand dialogue," she said, "is almost the larger opportunity at hand."

If you'd had the opportunity to vote for mayor, who would you cast your ballot for?

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Monday, January 5, 2015

Councilor Doug Knight Vies for the Mayoral Gavel

Posted By on Mon, Jan 5, 2015 at 2:02 PM

When the new City Council meets for the first time on Wednesday, it's short agenda includes electing a mayor and mayor pro-tem. In Bend, the mayor functions similarly to the chair of a board. He or she helps create the meeting agenda in cooperation with the city manager, facilitates meetings (with the ever-so-official gavel), and represents the City in a largely ceremonial capacity. Rather than being elected by a vote of the people, these positions are determined by the council. 

This cycle, for the second time in recent history, one candidate is actively campaigning for the position, soliciting a show of support from members of the community.(Recently ousted Councilor Mark Capell made a bid for the honorary position in 2012.) Doug Knight, who was elected to Council in 2012, has thrown his name in the hat by encouraging Bendites — including Scott Morgan, founder of the Truth in Site Coalition — to recommend him to his fellow councilors.

In an email sent to Morgan and posted on the Truth in Site website, Councilor Knight makes his pitch:

Selection of Bend's mayor occurs by a vote of council this Wednesday January 7th. 
Based upon my long-time service to the Bend community and my recent successes
while serving on the Council, I am actively campaigning for the position. It would help
me immensely if you would put in a good word by emailing the other councilors and
councilor select advocating they vote for me as their mayor.

Topics such as preserving neighborhood livability from unruly vacation
rentals & excessive noise, protecting businesses from unnecessary ODOT
access closures from the HWY 97 re-route, and increased funding for our
long-range planning department to streamline the UGB remand are all topics
I’ve individually championed. If you recall, I was the only councilor to question
the OSU parking management plan as well.

Since being elected to the Bend City Council over two years ago, I have always
voted courageously with logic and fairness. Please help me by writing to those
listed below, and additionally, by asking your political contacts at TIS to do so as
well. Emails must be received by Tuesday evening 1/6/14.

We talked to Councilor Knight, who affirmed his interest in serving as mayor of Bend. 

"I think that having someone who is a team leader and used to working as part of a team wiould be very beneficial," Knight explains. "[Mayor Jim Clinton] is a critical thinker and scientist by nature and I think that brings an element of questioning to his modus operandi."

Knight also suggested that he would take a bolder approach, encouraging Council to adopt what he calls a "culture of yes."

"As of late, there’s been more of a culture among councilors of, "No, we’re not going to do that," for fear of, perhaps, being sued. I’d like to change that culture," Knight says. "Sometimes the right thing involves some inherent risk."

He adds that his development background would contribute to discussions about Heritage Square, systems development charges (SDCs), affordable housing and other pending projects. Knight also contends that his moderate, nonpartisan stance would make him a good spokesperson for the City.

"I think its important we have a moderate with support from all sectors of the community and that would be me," Knight says. 

Despite his call for support from residents, Knight says he favors keeping the mayor an appointed position, rather than opening it up to an election by voters.

"I think it should continue to be an appointed position," Knight explains. Otherwise, he adds, "it rapidly turns into a partisan pursuit, where those entities in the community recognize the mayor and pro tem set the agenda. As a moderate and nonpartisan I think it’s important to keep [partisan interests] out of all elections at the local level."

Sitting Mayor Jim Clinton says he would like to continue on in the position and that he feels he has the support of the majority of Council. Though he doesn't describe his activities as campaigning, Clinton says he has had conversations with his fellow city councilors and councilors-elect as well as City staff about what Council hopes to accomplish and who would be best for the position of mayor.

"I think my style and approach will help us get work done in a reasonable way," Clinton says. "I think I enjoy considerable support from the other councilors. Doug appears to have started this campaign on his own account. He certainly has a right to do that. Everything is open for discussion."

Still, he points out that actively campaigning among residents for a position appointed by Council is "a bit off of the point" and a relatively new trend. He says that he's not aware of it happening prior to Councilor Capell's bid, which led to Clinton and outgoing Mayor Pro-Tem Jodie Barram publicly declaring their candidacies

"This time maybe that was a new pattern to be established, looking to supporters in community to lobby on your behalf to be mayor," Clinton says. "I'm not so sure that is beneficial to the candidate promoting himself. It’s more about the confidence of colleagues than popular support for that."

The sitting mayor adds that he believes continuity in the position is particular important following a contentious election that saw two incumbents unseated and three new councilors elected. That perceived stability is one of the major reasons Clinton says he favors the mayor being elected by the voters and says he'll again push for Council to take that question on. When the issue was last broached, the proposal was one vote short of getting the go-ahead from Council, despite the support of then-Mayor Jeff Eager.

The Council will elect a mayor and mayor pro-tem at Wednesday night's meeting.

You don't get to elect the mayor, but if you did, who would you vote for? Choose your choice in the poll and share your reasoning in the comments.

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Thursday, December 4, 2014

Tell Us How You Really Feel: Casey Roats

Posted By on Thu, Dec 4, 2014 at 11:27 AM

We want to know how you feel about the hot-button issues of the day. That, and polls are a great way to kill time and make fun graphs! You may have noticed the results in this week's issue  of our recent poll on the Grand Jury decision not to indict the police officer who shot and killed Michael Brown in Ferguson.

This week's poll addresses the current political drama over councilor-elect Casey Roats' qualifications for Bend City Council. Let us know if you think City Council made the right decision, and we'll print the results in next week's issue.

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Perennial Council Candidate Ron Boozell Joins Lawsuit Against Casey Roats and City of Bend

Posted By on Tue, Nov 25, 2014 at 4:44 PM

A lawsuit spearheaded by local attorney Charlie Ringo, seeking to prevent the certification of councilor-elect Casey Roats, has gained a new plaintiff—one of Roats' three opponents in the race for position 6, Ron "Rondo" Boozell.

Ringo says the move was made in response to court concerns that the original plaintiff, Foster Fell, did not have standing as a voter to challenge the election.

Boozell, who has previously called for city councilors who endorsed a candidate in the four-way race to recuse themselves from ruling on Roats' qualifications or appointing a replacement, says he is taking a stand for fairness. 

He tells the Source:

"It is my position that the City of Bend has not yet facilitated a fair election this year for the seat of position six on our Council. Most of our sitting Councilors actively involved themselves or publicly endorsed candidates in campaigns for a council candidate on the ballot in my race. The City of Bend has a simple residency requirement for filing for office. This is not how we define residency; Business Address, PO Office Box, Strange-neighbors, nor is residency defined by intent. The story has already been told. The confession has been heard. Lisa and Richard and I qualified. The residents and businesspeople of Bend have legitimate questions why the one candidate who did not qualify gets special closed-door consideration. The people of Bend wonder why one class gets special treatment by this Council...and why others always seem to get shut out."

City Council will hold a special session to deliberate and decide on whether Roats' is qualified to serve on City Council. If qualified, his election will be certified during the Dec. 3 City Council meeting. If he is not qualified, the Council will have 30 days from the date Jodie Barram vacates her seat to appoint a replacement. For more on this story, see this week's issue, on stands and online tomorrow.
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