Hot off the Press
Grants Pass got a taste of the energy building in Oregon’s Congressional District 2 to replace Rep. Greg Walden (R-Hood River) with someone who will help turn the Trump tide in Washington D.C. About 100 people crowded into the venue on E Street, chatting up hope and vowing to help any way they can during the Josephine County Democrats’ Candidates’ Forum held Tuesday, April 10th. In addition to the congressional candidates, Deputy District Attorney Matt Corey told the crowd he was running for a newly created judge position because the judicial system in Josephine County is sorely in need of change.
After a brief business session, the Forum began with each of the six candidates present giving a Twitter-length explanation of why they are running.
Tim White, from Bend, said he wants to show the people of CD2 just how blatantly they’ve been lied to by their current representative. Jamie McLeod-Skinner emphasized her family history in the district and said her vision includes a big investment in physical and social infrastructure. Jim Crary, who lives east of Ashland, says nothing will change in Washington without campaign finance reform, while Michael Byrne, who, like Crary ran against Walden two years ago, said he was “here for the revolution.” Byrne said last time he ran Trump was just getting started and he was “naïve” about what brought Trump into power. He said he is running to bring to the contest someone who can get Walden out.
Jennifer Neahring, a Salem physician, said she decided she had to do something when it appeared the Affordable Care Act would be repealed. Without that people would have to go untreated for illnesses or risk financial disaster. She proposed taking ACA further by cutting the cost of medical care, medicines, and creating healthy communities through education, clean air and water and prevention. Eric Burnette, a strong union supporter who has worked in the shipping industry gave three things he would work on: making sure everyone gets health care, getting wages to rebound, and creating real infrastructure investment.
The first question directed at all the candidates was about the threat of Sinclair Media shifting local news to the right. All the candidates agreed the Federal Communications Committee needs to be changed so large mergers can’t dominate a news market. Highlights of other issues included:
How to run in a conservative district with a Republican incumbent who has been in power for eight terms – Byrne said winning will depend on a strong “get out the vote” strategy and convincing non-affiliated voters to vote for Democrats. Neahring agreed, saying turnout will be important, as well as concentrating on issues most people agree on, such as the high cost of medical care. Burnette said he’s a proud progressive and won’t be running as a “Democrat light.” Burnette emphasized that a lot of union voters are prepared to vote for Democrats this time. Crary said visiting conservative areas and talking to people to find common agreement works, while McLeod-Skinner talked about Oregon Values such as keeping kids safe, keeping water clean and available, and sustainable use of resources. White said it’s necessary to avoid old political stereotypes and focus on issues.
Health care – Each candidate vowed to work for some sort of universal coverage with slight variations. Byrne pushed for Medicare for all, White advocated trimming back the military spending to fund health care, reforming the pharmaceutical industry and getting everyone older than 55 on Medicare because if they lose their jobs at that age it is very hard to get private insurance. Neahring favored single-payer, cutting down administrative costs, getting drug prices down, and coordinating preventative care. McLeod-Skinner’s plan includes covering everyone, managing costs, improving the quality of care and caring for caregivers. Crary wants to add audio, dental and vision coverage, especially for children. Byrne said getting Republicans out of the majority is the first step in health care reform.
Foreign Affairs – All the candidates were concerned about the gutting of the State Department and that Congress should have more power over the declaration of war.
National Debt – The candidates were all adamant that big tax breaks for the wealthy are driving up the national debt and failing to address real needs for middle class workers and the poor.
Guns – All the candidates agreed that assault weapons should be restricted, background checks need to be improved, gun-show and internet loopholes need to be closed, the National Rifle Association needs to be exposed as a big money lobbying organization trying to pass itself off as a non-profit charity, and that all gun deaths should be reduced. Burnette proposed setting a goal of reducing gun deaths by two-thirds over a ten year period, encouraging legislation and community action aimed at that goal, then re-evaluating steps taken at the end of the time period to see what works and what doesn’t. McLeod-Skinner said responsible gun owners need to be brought into the conversation to talk about keeping children safe at school, reducing suicides, and what to do about assault weapons.
State Senate District 1 Senator Jeff Kruse has resigned from office, effective March 15, 2018. The Republican precinct committee persons in that district will meet to nominate new candidates to take his place and submit the names to the county commissioners in that district for a final vote. The person chosen by them will serve as the District 1 Senator until the November election (even though the Senate is not in session at this time), when the choice will be turned over to the District 1 voters to decide.
The Democratic precinct committee persons in Senate District 1 will also be meeting to select a Democratic candidate to run against the new Republican senator in November. We are looking for good candidates. If you know of someone who lives in Senate District 1 who would be a good candidate, or you would like to be a candidate yourself, please contact us so we can touch bases.
Candidates must file the Application for Candidacy with the Democratic Party of Oregon (DPO) by Wednesday, May 2nd, at 5:00 p.m. These forms can be found online at the DPO’s Senate District 1 Convention Event Website, http://dpo.org/SD1 and submitted by mail (232 NE 9th Ave., Portland, OR 97232), by fax (503-224-5335), or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Candidates must meet the minimum requirements to hold office. Those include being a registered Democrat for at least 180 days before the effective date of the resignation, living in the district for at least a year, and not being under the control of the Dept. of Corrections.
It didn’t stick.
Josephine County Commissioner Simon Hare said the controversial idea to ban all commercial farming in rural residential zones was part of something they decided to “throw against the wall to see what sticks.”
At their March 28 weekly business session, Commissioners listened to about two hours of indignation from county residents, who said the ban would deprive them of income from garden produce, hay and animals they raise to help them pay taxes, make improvements on their land, and send their kids to college.
Yet, many rural county residents also complain of the odors, contaminated water, illegal camping, traffic and crime associated with neighborhood marijuana farms. They love their country life, they told the board, but during the grow season there’s no end to the mayhem.
In between those lamenting about the future of rural life in Josephine County, advocates of the Jefferson State movement sneaked in a request to separate Josephine County from the State of Oregon.
“How does Grants Pass, Jefferson sound?” asked one fellow wearing a green sweatshirt and hat emblazoned with the yellow and black Jefferson XX logo. The Commissioners didn’t answer but made an effort to look like they were sympathetic. Other Jefferson Stators popped up between people talking about cows and horses, hay and chickens, saying it was Oregon’s pesky regulations creating all these problems. One guy blamed it on Agenda 21, an obscure United Nations non-binding proposal concerning sustainable development in third-world
countries, enacted about 25 years ago. Agenda 21 is a favorite of conspiracy theorists who have somehow managed to terrorize each other by saying it’s a massive environmental movement that’s going to roll over the earth and deprive everyone of their land rights.
“I have my rural rights,” the Agenda 21 opponent said.
“Bring liberty back to Oregon counties,” said a guy waving autographed copies of a book about Ruby Ridge and LaVoy Finicum. Others lamented that Salem doesn’t care about Josephine County, and Senator Jeff Merkley is to be reviled because no one in the rural areas voted for him.
The Commission was asked to sign a declaration that would start the process separating Josephine County from the state. They told Commissioners their signatures on the declaration would start the “easy” process to then get Congress to approve the new state.
Meanwhile, rural landowners kept up pressure on Commissioners to abandon their plan to get rid of annoying marijuana grows by banning all commercial activity on rural land. One man said when the big, expected earthquake comes and creates a wasteland of the county, those with their little patches of gardens and chickens will be all that’s left to feed us. If they can’t sell food, we might all starve, he emphasized.
Technically, what the Commissioners had in mind would grandfather in all current commercial activity on small farms, but people complained their kids wouldn’t be able to continue their lifestyle if that were the case.
After everyone spoke, Commissioners took turns giving loquacious tributes to all who expressed their opinions and assured the landowners they didn’t want them to stop selling produce, some of which they buy. Hare said perhaps the proposal needs further refinement. Commissioner Lily Morgan said she wouldn’t vote for anything that would harm the county’s small farmers. Commissioner Dan DeYoung addressed the Jefferson Stators, acknowledging the vast divide between urban and rural areas even though they attend endless meetings trying to resolve differences.
So what does a beleaguered Commission do when it finds the proposal they put out to solve a problem actually creates a lot more problems?
Table the matter.
As for the Declaration to pull Josephine County out of Oregon, Commissioner Morgan suggested the proposal be put on the ballot as an advisory measure “possibly in November when more people come out.”
The Jefferson Stators didn’t react to this idea publicly, but their advertising indicates they’ll be back.
We are collecting signatures from the citizens of Josephine County that indicate a commitment to adopt, honor, and uphold the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement (also known as the Paris Climate Accord, you can read the full document, in English, here). Your political beliefs or affiliations are not an issue here. You are not even required to be a registered voter. You simply need to be a citizen of Josephine County.
After we collect a sufficient number of signatures, members of the Environmental Action Committee will meet with our elected officials, including each of our county commissioners, city councilmen, and mayors. We will present them with the pledge and the signatures of the citizens of Josephine County. We will ask each of them to sign our pledge. Our goal is to do everything we can to keep our planet healthy for our children, so that they might do the same for their children.
We ask that you provide your first and last name and your physical address, not a PO box. Your address will be used as proof of residence, will not be visible, and will not be used for anything other than proof of residence. Please read the Citizens’ Environmental Pledge then add your name and address below the pledge.
Citizens’ Environmental Pledge
Will you commit to adopt, honor and uphold the Paris Climate Agreement goals?
Nearly 70 per cent of Americans, including a majority of people in all 50 states, support the Paris Climate Agreement. Also, 350 US mayors, representing 68 million Americans, have agreed to endorse this worldwide movement. Therefore, please join us in adopting the following environmental actions:
#1. Strengthen relationships around the world to protect the planet from devastating climate risks.
#2. Support local actions such as town clean-up days, zero waste initiatives, and preserving national forests.
#3. Partner with local city and community development organizations to create a yearly Energy Day, prioritizing the development of environmentally renewable energy resources, clean-air transportation options, and reductions of all forms of pollutants.
#4. Support clean energy jobs.
We the undersigned American Citizens urge all elected officials and city governments to support the Paris Climate Agreement and the above mentioned Environmental Pledge:
|The link will take you to a YouTube video of the entire proceedings of the last day of the 2018 Democratic Party of Oregon Platform Convention on March 18, 2018 in Salem. It was one of the highest turnouts ever for one of our platform conventions with over 500 participants from all around Oregon. Five of our Josephine County Democrats participated in the convention and helped to create the platform: Lynda Spangler, Dusty Rhodes, Anita Savio, Bob Lange, and Brian Clark.
The eleven articles of the 2018 platform were amended, voted on and accepted. Additional legislative action items were also voted on in this session. This is what democracy looks like!
Wow! This past weekend, March 16-18, after 14 months of the worst of what it means to be an American, I had the chance to experience the best. The occasion was the 2018 Oregon Democratic Party Platform Convention, which I attended as a delegate along with county chair Brian Clark and three other Dems from our county: Lynda Spangler Dusty Rhodes and Bob Lange. The purpose of the convention was to come to agreement on the platform planks and a list of legislative action items. (The planks are the “what;” the legislative action items are the “how.”) The proceedings were pure democracy in action.
The first thing that impressed me was how the proceedings followed strict rules of order: We had motions, proposed amendments to motions, proposed amendments to an amendment, pro and con discussion on each motion or amendment, motions to call the question and votes on those motions, voice votes, standing votes when the voice vote was close, and votes tabulated by county when the standing vote was close. We even voted on motions to suspend the rules on motions.
Whew! The strict rules-governed procedures were a little overwhelming at first, but after a while I could see how they ensured a democratic decision process.
Among the most rewarding parts of the experience for me, personally, were the several times I had the opportunity — and found the courage! — to stand up at the microphone and present my own point of view. I was particularly proud when one of my personal amendments was adopted by the Criminal Justice work group.
But if I have to choose the very best part, it was this: After I stood up to argue against the wording of a particular motion, the convention chair encouraged several of us, representing the pro and con sides, to huddle together to see if we could arrive at consensus. We huddled, we listened, we respected … and found that consensus. Our solution was subsequently validated by the resounding “aye” votes of the convention delegates.
Did I agree with every decision made at the convention? No. There were some majority decisions where I was in the minority. But that’s not the point. The point is the wonderful and empowering democratic (with a small “d”) process that made me so proud and happy to be an American!
–Anita Savio, Delegate
There are still some folks around who believe they can carve their own little conservative kingdom out of Southern Oregon and Northern California. They ran this ad in the March 2018 edition of Sneak Preview calling on people to help them pester Josephine County Commissioners with their scheme at the March 28 and April 4 9 a.m. meetings and the April 11 5:30 p.m. meeting. This notion of creating the State of Jefferson has been around for a while and has gone nowhere, but it surfaces from time to time as a way for a small group of malcontents to let everyone know how much they’re suffering by being forced to live in blue states. It might be a good idea to show up at the next few Commissioner meetings to remind our elected officials not to waste time on this nonsense.
WHAT: Informational meeting regarding GPSD Bond Measure 17.84
WHEN: Tuesday, March 20th at 6:00 PM
WHERE: Grants Pass High School Library (second floor of the Main Building)
The District will be presenting factual information about Measure 17.84 that will be on the May Ballot. This is a proposed $138.7 million General Obligation Bond Measure to construct and renovate school facilities.
Improve districtwide student/staff safety and security:
● Update doors, door locking mechanisms;
● Improve emergency alert systems;
● Update Camera Systems.
Relieve overcrowding and provide capacity to meet projected enrollment needs:
● Replace North Middle at current location;
● Build new South Middle adjacent to Redwood Elementary;
● Renovate existing South Middle to be used as an Alternative Education Site, Youth Transition Program site and house other District programs.
Protect Community Investment in existing facilities:
● Replace old boilers with new HVAC units to provide adequate heating/cooling and sufficient air flow and air exchange;
● Replace failing electrical panels; expand electrical service at Allen Dale, Highland, and Riverside elementary schools;
● Replace windows at Allen Dale, Highland, and Riverside to provide greater energy efficiency;
● Replace flooring containing asbestos at Allen Dale, Highland, and Riverside;
● Replace failing roofs at Lincoln and Redwood elementary schools.
Create 21st Century Learning Environments
● Upgrade technology infrastructure at all schools;
● Purchase new and replacement technology devices for students and staff;
● Create flexible learning spaces to support current and future teaching and learning strategies and better prepare students for careers after high school or college.
The proposed bond would mature within 30 years or less from its date of issuance and is estimated to cost $1.95 per $1,000 of assessed property value per year. The actual rate may differ based upon growth in assessed values and interest rates incurred.