Walden Talks Taxes in Bend

U.S. Rep. Greg Walden (R) paid a visit to Deschutes Brewery, in Bend on Friday. Walden discussed the new tax reform bill, among other hot topics impacting Central Oregonians.

 

Buehler’s Run for Governor: Part 2

In part two of our interview with gubernatorial candidate Dr. Knute Buehler, Central Oregon Daily’s Curtis Vogel delves into Buehler’s positions on the issues that will likely define this election season including health care and the Oregon Health Authority, where hundreds of millions of dollars have been spent with little to show for it.

Buehler, who is currently Bend’s State Representative, is trying to become the first Republican to win an Oregon governor’s race in 30 years.

Buehler announced he was running for Governor last August and sat down for his first extensive broadcast interview since announcing his run with Central Oregon Daily.

 

Buehler’s Run for Governor: Part 1

Bend State Representative Dr. Knute Buehler is trying to become the first Republican to win an Oregon governor’s race in 30 years.
He announced his intention to run for the office last August, and since then, he has been traveling around the state meeting voters.

Buehler sat down for his first extensive broadcast interview since announcing his run with Central Oregon Daily’s Curtis Vogel and in part one they discuss how difficult this race could be for Buehler, a republican from the east side of the Cascades, who is taking on the incumbent democrat, current governor Kate Brown

Stay tuned for part two of Central Oregon Daily’s extensive interview with Buehler.

Negotiations with Mills Move Forward

The Sunriver Service District Board agreed to negotiate a potential settlement with Chief Marc Mills during its meeting on Monday.

The Sunriver Service District Managing Board held a public meeting Monday to decide the employment of Police Chief Marc Mills, who was charged Thursday with misdemeanor harassment after an investigation by the Oregon Department of Justice.

According to a statement from Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel, Mills, 62, struck Sgt. Joseph Patnode while both men were on duty. Mills stuck Patnode hard enough that he fell into the wall behind him. Another officer who witnessed the incident reported it to the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office.

Mills has been on paid administrative leave since Dec. 3 and the board is conducting an administrative investigation focused on Mills’ alleged harassment and the culture of the police department.

The board voted on Monday to allow board chair Jim Fister and the service district’s lawyer to negotiate a potential settlement with Mills, who expressed interest in potentially resigning from his position as police chief.

Community members came out on Monday, mostly in support of Mills. Many commented that they would like Mills to keep his job, saying he was beloved in the community both as police chief and as a person.

Hear more from Monday’s meeting with Central Oregon Daily’s Lisa Carton tonight at 6 p.m. and again at 7 p.m.

Oregon Ethics Commission Says Hayes Violated Ethics Laws

In a meeting Friday morning the Oregon Government Ethics Commission voted 7-0-1 to accept 22 preliminary findings that Cylvia Hayes violated state ethics laws. One commissioner abstained from a potential conflict of interest for having worked for the state.eals

The commission found that Hayes, fiancee of former Governor John Kitzhaber, used her position as first lady to obtain jobs as a consultant, accept gifts worth more than the limit for a public official and did not handle potential and actual conflicts of interest.

The commission can’t fine Hayes yet. That decision will be held for a later meeting, however each violation comes with up to $5,000 in penalties and commissioners indicated they favor high fines against Hayes as this goes forward.

The Kitzhaber ethics case returns to the commission next week, and the commissioners indicated that both cases deserved significant fines instead of a slap on the wrist.  Both Hayes and Kitzhaber can ask for a hearing before the commission, appeal to administrative judges in state government and then appeal to the Oregon Court of Appeals if they disagree with the eventual outcome.

Neither Hayes nor any representative/lawyer on her behalf attended the meeting. Their absence bothered commissioners who had hoped to question Hayes.

Hayes is expected to issue a statement later today and this post will be updated as more information is released. This story will also be covered today on Central Oregon Daily at 3 p.m. and updated again 6 p.m.

*This story was updated at 4:02 p.m. to express the 7-0-1 vote of the Oregon Government Ethics Commission. The original post wrongly stated that there were 8 votes for the preliminary findings. 

Sunriver Police Chief Charged

Deschutes District Attorney John Hummel completed his review today of the Oregon Department of Justice investigation into a incident involving Sunriver Police Chief Marc Mills.

Hummel charged Mills with misdemeanor harassment based off accounts of a Dec. 1 incident in which Mills struck Sgt. Joseph Patnode in the chest while on duty at the Sunriver Police Station, according to a press release from Hummel’s office.

The incident was reported to the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office by another Sunriver police officer.

Mills will have the opportunity to contest the charge at his first court appearance on Jan. 25.

On the Ballot: Measure 101

A tax on insurance companies and some hospitals to provide health care for low-income Oregonians goes before voters next month, even after it was approved by the legislature and signed by the governor during the 2017 legislative session.

Central Oregon Daily’s Lisa Carton attended a public forum hosted by the League of Women Voters of the U.S. on Thursday that explained the pro’s and cons of Measure 101.

Pot Plight

On Thursday the Trump administration lifted an Obama-era policy that kept federal authorities from cracking down on marijuana markets in states where the drug is legal. It is now up to federal prosecutors to decide what to do when state rules collide with federal drug law.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ action came just three days after a legalization law went into effect in California. The lift of the policy now threatened the future of the young industry and created confusion in states, like Oregon, where the drug is legal.

Oregon governor Kate Brown said Thursday the state will fight Sessions’ move to lift the policy on federal enforcement of the drug in order to protect the state’s economic interests. Brown said marijuana is an important component of the state’s economy and has creating more than 19,000 jobs.

Oregon was the first state to decriminalize personal possession of marijuana in 1973. Oregon legalized medical marijuana in 1998 and recreational use in 2014.

It is not clear how the change might affect states where marijuana is legal for medical purposes. A congressional amendment blocks the Justice Department from interfering with medical marijuana programs in states where it is allowed. Justice officials said they would follow the law, but would not preclude the possibility of medical-marijuana related prosecutions.

Officials wouldn’t say whether federal prosecutors would target marijuana shops and legal growers, nor would they speculate on whether pot prosecutions would increase.

 

 

Courtesy of the Associated Press 

Trump signs Tax Bill

President Donald Trump signed the republican tax bill on Friday, before heading to Florida for Christmas. The bill is the largest tax overhaul in 30 years and passed through Congress without a single democrat vote in the House or Senate. The bill has been criticized for providing permanent tax cuts to large corporation while only providing temporary cuts to most middle to low-income Americans.

Before it passed Congress the tax bill polled low with the American people, with only about 40 percent in favor of the bill. Aside from concerns that the bill favors rich Americans and large corporations, it will also likely hit high-tax states the hardest, which generally means liberal-leaning costal states like Oregon. This is due to the new bill’s limits on SALT deductions, which allowed people to deduct their state and local taxes.

Since the tax cuts for middle and lower- income Americans expire in 2025, many Americans may also see tax increases as time goes on to pay for the new bill’s $1 trillion in tax cuts and the $1.5 trillion it adds to the national debt.

For now Americans could see the new cuts reflected on their taxes as early as this year since Trump signed the bill before the New Year.

On Friday Trump also signed in a continuing resolution that will keep the government funded through Jan. 19 while adding $4 billion to missile defense. A more permanent spending bill will be discussed when democrats and republicans return to D.C. after the Christmas break.

Bend Backtracks on Charter Changes

The Bend City Council got an earful from community members during a listening session on the proposed changes to the city charter.

The changed were suggested earlier this month by the city’s charter committee but this is the first time the public has come out to comment on the committee’s decisions.

The committee recommended three major changes: adopting a generally elected mayor, adopting a ward system and removing council compensation from the city charter. While the council was mostly split earlier this month, they did agree on a generally elected mayor.

However, after Wednesday’s meeting the council backtracked on that unanimous decision.

Currently the city council is responsible for selecting one member to serve as mayor for a two-year term. The council was also almost entirely for a generally elected mayor but could not decide if they wanted to keep the two-year term to upgrade to a four-year term, which would require more of a time commitment from the elected mayor and could also mean higher compensation. Currently the mayor is paid the same as all city council members, which is $200 per month.

By the end of Wednesday’s meeting the council did agree that a generally elected mayor would be good for the city and voted for it.

However, the council does not have the final say. The option will have to go to Bend residents for a vote.

The committee was also very in favor of a ward system, which would divide the city of Bend into three to four geographic areas. The committee suggested each ward would vote for two council seats which must be held by people who live in that ward. Committee members said this would guarantee geographic diversity on the city council. However, council members were concerned that wards could make the council overly political, with members being more concerned about the needs of their ward rather than the city as a whole.

Both the council and residents where highly divided on this issue, but in the end the council unanimously voted against the committee’s recommendations of a ward system – which means all Bend’s residents will continue to vote for all council seats.

The committee also recommended removing council compensation from the city charter. Since any changes to the city charter must be put on the ballot and voted on by Bend residents, the committee argued it made it difficult for compensation to be changed. The current compensation is $200 per month and that was implemented in 1992. The council did not address this particular recommendation at length but they will be discussing the changes again in January.