Bridge Battle

The Bend Parks and Rec Board Will Oppose a Bill that Prohibits a Deschutes River Bridge

At a meeting of the Bend Park & Recreation District Board on Tuesday night, members made it clear that they will try to stop the passage of House Bill 4029, which would effectively ban any future footbridges across the Deschutes River.
The board felt that the bill would shut down any conversation within the community about the potential recreation and transportation benefits a bridge connecting the Deschutes River Trail could bring.
“Our concern is, and what we’ve been saying all along, is we need a very broad community discussion,” said board member Ted Schoenborn. “This legislation effectively shuts down any conversation in the community.”
Schoenborn will head to Salem on Thursday to testify against House Bill 4029, and the board hopes to potentially bring together the community, Parks and Rec board, State Parks, Forest Service, recreation organizations and conservation organizations to continue discussions about the bridge.
The proposed bridge, which was approved by Bend voters as part of a bond measure in 2012, would cross the Deschutes River near Bend’s southern boundary and would effectively connect the Deschutes River Trail all the way from Tumalo to Sunriver.

Stock Market Takes a Dive

It was a wild ride on Wall Street today with the Dow Jones Industrial average taking a nosedive, losing more than 1,175 points dropping below 25,000 for the first time since January 4th during a second straight day of sell-offs.

It was the worst single-day point drop the Dow has ever sustained and, coming on the heels of Friday’s 666-point loss, erased the Dow’s gains for the year.

By the end of the trading day the Dow had dropped 46 percent, more than 1,100 points, closing at 24,345.

Troy Reinhart of Northwest Quadrant Wealth Management said that while these fluctuations can be scary, market pullbacks prevent stocks from overheating and gives investors who were stuck on the sideline a chance to “get in”.

Despite the recent turmoil, the Dow remains up almost 40 percent since President Trump’s election and the official white house comment today was that “markets do fluctuate in the short term,” but stressed, that the fundamentals of the economy are strong.

Audit Shows Problems with State Foster Care Services

A state audit released today finds a wealth of problems with Oregon’s Child Welfare Office with leaders continually failing to fix systemic problems. The agency has paid out $39 million in settlements since 2006 for failing to keep children safe.

The Secretary of State’s scathing audit took aim at every aspect of a critical agency responsible for the safety of neglected and abused children, from receiving complaint calls to certifying foster homes and investigating families.

It found the Office of Child Welfare, within the state’s vast Department of Human Services, has failed to keep up with legal mandates and the increased demand for state intervention. The office currently oversees 7,800 children in foster care in Oregon.

The audit found that management has failed to implement prior reform recommendations; foster parents don’t get enough training or support; DHS has failed to adequately recruit and retain foster parents; there’s not enough group homes or treatment facilities to meet the needs for kids taken out of their family homes; and burnout and turnover are high among child welfare workers.

This is not the first time that the state has identified chronic problems in the child welfare program. In 2015, in the wake of a scandal at Portland foster care provider Give Us This Day, Governor Kate Brown conducted an independent review of the state’s Child Welfare Department. The review culminated in the ousting of the head of DHS at that time.

Kozowski Fired from Deschutes County Sheriff

Deputy Eric Kozowski was fired on Wednesday by Sheriff L. Shane Nelson based on internal investigations which concluded that  Kozowski violated Sheriff’s Office policies.

Kozowski was placed on paid administrative leave on September 24, 2017 due to allegations from 2010 and 2016. Kozowski allegedly failed to take a report in 2010 and failed to arrest a wanted suspect in 2016.

Kozowski challenged Sheriff Nelson for his position in the 2016 election.

In a press release Sheriff Nelson stated, “I expect members of the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office to adhere to the mission and values of this office. I will continue to enforce the highest standards of professionalism and conduct at the Deschutes County Sheriff’s Office.”

Kozowski’s lawyer, Michael McGean, released a statement just after the Sheriff’s Office announced Kozowski’s termination. In his statement McGean maintains that the investigation, and now termination, of Kozowski was retaliatory.

“Deputy Kozowski’s termination is clearly retaliation for exercising his constitutional rights of free speech and political participation in running against Sheriff Nelson,” said McGean. “That retaliation and the Sheriff’s violations of State and Federal law will be the subject of a lawsuit that will be filed shortly in the federal court of Oregon.”

The investigation into the allegations against Kozowski were opened after he announced his candidacy for Sheriff in March 2016.

McGean also said Kozowski was fired for an alleged violation pertaining to the wearing of Sheriff’s Office uniforms for campaign related activity, not the failure to write a report or arrest a suspect as was stated in the Sheriff’s Office statement.

Web Exclusive: Women’s March 2018

An estimated 3,000 people gathered in Drake Park on January 20, 2018 for the second annual Central Oregon Women’s March. In this web exclusive Central Oregon Daily’s Austin Reed spoke with a few of those people who came out to protest and march.

The Women’s March started in January of last year, right after the inauguration of President Donald Trump. This year’s march came on the one year anniversary of Trump’s inauguration and like last year brought together millions of protestors across the country marching for a variety of issues.

In Bend protestors carried signs in support of women’s rights, including reproductive rights and equal pay. Many signs also nodded to the recent #MeToo movement, which has brought sexual assault and harassment into the public eye.

Protestors also held signs and chanted in support of immigrants, refugees and DACA recipients, known as Dreamers. The DACA program is still up for debate after a government shut down last week.

 

DOJ Puts Pressure on Sanctuary Cities

On Wednesday 23 jurisdictions, including Oregon State, received letters from the U.S. Department of Justice asking for documents to prove that they are cooperating with immigration authorities and threatening to pull public safety grants.

The letters are part of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ promised crackdown on sanctuary cities and states.

“I continue to urge all jurisdictions under review to reconsider policies that place the safety of their communities and their residents at risk,” said Attorney General Jeff Sessions in a press release from the DOJ (Department of Justice). “Protecting criminal aliens from federal immigration authorities defies common sense and undermines the rule of law. We have seen too many examples of the threat to public safety represented by jurisdictions that actively thwart the federal government’s immigration enforcement—enough is enough.”

The letter sent to Michael Schmidt, the Executive Director of the Oregon Criminal Justice Commission,  warned that the DOJ could use subpoena power to force them to provide documents showing they aren’t withholding information about the immigration status of people in custody.

Similar letters were sent to cities like Chicago, New York, Denver and Los Angeles, and the states of Illinois and California. DOJ officials said the 23 jurisdictions have been previously warned they need to provide information about their policies to be receive grants.

According to the DOJ website, jurisdictions who refuse to turnover documents, or whose policies are deemed counter to federal immigration laws, may be forced to return federal grant dollars from a 2016 Byrne Justice Assistance Grant and may be deemed ineligible for a 2017 Byrne Grant.

The Byrne Justice Assistance Grant is a memorial grant and is the leading source of federal justice funding for state and local jurisdictions. The grant provides states, tribes and local governments across the U.S. with funding for target community specific law enforcement needs.

Oregon was allocated $3,099,650 through the grant for 2016.

Sanctuary cities, counties, and states are jurisdictions with laws, ordinances, regulations, resolutions or policies that prohibited local law enforcement agencies from complying with ICE detainers and denying ICE access to interview incarcerated undocumented immigrants.

In Oregon this means an undocumented immigrant that has committed a crime in a sanctuary jurisdiction would be penalized for that crime but would not be detained due to their undocumented status. It also means local and state law enforcement will not assist immigration officials in locating or apprehending people due to their undocumented status.

Relying on local law enforcement to detain undocumented immigrants is the primary tool used by ICE to gain custody for deportations.

In response to the letter, Oregon Governor Kate Brown said in tweet, “Oregon will not be bullied by a Trump Administration that’s focused on diving our country. Oregon’s laws are in place to uphold the civil rights of all Oregonians. The federal government cannot, under the US Constitution, force state law enforcement officers to implement its policies.”

Here’s is the full letter written to Oregon from the DOJ:

Dear Director Schmidt:

Thank you for your response to our November 15, 2017, letter regarding your jurisdiction’s compliance with 8 U.S.C. § 1373, a federal law with which your jurisdiction must comply as an eligibility requirement for receiving Byrne Justice Assistance Grant (Byrne JAG) funding from the Department of Justice (Department or DOJ). After reviewing your response, the Department remains concerned that your jurisdiction’s laws, policies, or practices may violate section 1373, or, at a minimum, that they may be interpreted or applied in a manner inconsistent with section 1373.

In light of these concerns, the Department is requesting certain documents as described below. This request is made consistent with 2 CFR § 200.336, as adopted by Department regulation 2 CFR § 2800.101. In your FY 2016 Byrne JAG award, you agreed to the following (listed as special condition #23):

[The recipient agrees to] cooperate with [the Bureau of Justice Assistance (“BJA”)] and [Office of the Chief Financial Officer (“OCFO”)] on all grant monitoring requests…. The recipient [also] agrees to provide to BJA and OCFO all documentation necessary to complete monitoring tasks, including documentation related to any subawards made under this award. Further, the recipient agrees to abide by reasonable deadlines set by BJA and OCFO for providing the requested documents. Failure to cooperate with BJA’s/OCFO’s grant monitoring activities may result in sanctions affecting the recipient’s DOJ awards, including but not limited to withholdings and/or other restrictions on the recipient’s access to grant funds; referral to the Office of the Inspector General for audit review; designation of the recipient as a DOJ High Risk grantee; or termination of an award(s).

Please respond to the below request by providing to Chris Casto, BJA, at Chris.Casto@usdoj.gov by no later than February 23, 2018, all responsive documents, consistent with the instructions in Attachment A.

Documents Requested: All documents reflecting any orders, directives, instructions, or guidance to your law enforcement employees (including, but not limited to, police officers, correctional officers, and contract employees), whether formal or informal, that were distributed, produced, and/or in effect during the relevant timeframe, regarding whether and how these employees may, or may not, communicate with the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, and/or Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or their agents, whether directly or indirectly.

BJA will review your submissions and seek additional information, if necessary. The Department fully anticipates your complete cooperation in this matter. Should you fail to respond in a complete and timely manner, the Department will subpoena these documents in accordance with 34 U.S.C. §§ 10225, 10221, 10230, 10151 – 10158, 10102(a)(6), 10110, and 10110 note.

These materials are critical to our ongoing review. Should the Department determine your jurisdiction is out of compliance with section 1373, the Department may, as detailed in your award documents, seek return of your FY 2016 grant funds, require additional conditions for receipt of any FY 2017 Byrne JAG funding for which you have applied, and/or deem you ineligible for FY 2017 Byrne JAG funds.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this request. We look forward to working through this matter with you. Any specific questions concerning this request can be sent to directly to Tracey Trautman, BJA Deputy Director, at Tracey.Trautman@usdoj.gov or call (202) 305-1491.”

Preliminary Results Look Positive for Measure 101

As of 10 a.m. Wednesday morning with 920 of 1335 precincts reporting, 61.54 percent have voted in favor of Measure 101 and 38.46 percent voted against.

Measure 101 approves a temporary assessment to fund health care for low income residents and families in Oregon and to stabilize health insurance premiums. The temporary assessments, which is basically a tax, will be applied to insurance companies, some hospitals and other insurance and health care providers.

Proponents of the measure, which include the Hospital Association, have said this measure will ensure that low income Oregonians are able to keep their healthcare.

Opponents have said it is basically a tax to cover for bad budgeting in the state government.

On Tuesday night the Hospital Association declared victory on Measure 101.

The Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems (OAHHS) issued the following statement celebrating the passage of Measure 101 on Tueaday night.
OAHHS, which represents all of Oregon’s 62 community hospitals, was a key supporter of the Yes for Healthcare coalition.

“On behalf of our patients and the communities we serve, Oregon’s hospitals are deeply gratified by the passage of Measure 101,” said Andy Davidson, president and CEO of the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Systems. “We are appreciative of the partnership of so many organizations and individuals from across the state who helped to make this outcome possible.”

“Tonight’s vote is critical affirmation of our collective belief that Oregon is better off with a robust Medicaid program that tends to the needs of patients before, during and after an illness or the birth of a child. It is a recognition that our vulnerable friends and neighbors need access to the lifesaving services that our entire health care system provides. We are proud to have been an integral partner in fighting for these patients and their families.”

Hospitals have been longtime advocates for the Oregon Health Plan, working alongside the legislature for the last 15 years to develop funding solutions for the program that ensure coverage for as many Oregonians as possible.

In coming months, hospitals will work cooperatively with legislative leadership, the Governor and other stakeholders to craft additional sustainable funding solutions for the years to come to ensure the stability and health of the Oregon Health Plan. Hospitals are committed to continuing their work on future budget solutions that maintain coverage for Oregon’s most vulnerable.

In Deschutes County 54 percent of voters voted in favor of Measure 101. In Crook County 62 percent voted against the measure and in Jefferson County 57 percent also voted against the measure.

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.