Politics & Government

Politics & Government

OPB News

U-S Senator Jeff Merkley and his Republican challenger Monica Wehby went head-to-head Tuesday on Medford TV station KOBI. In their only scheduled debate, both candidates sought to portray the other as extreme and out of touch with everyday Oregonians, while positioning themselves as champions of working people. 

Rachael McDonald

After outcry from neighbors of Buford Park and Mount Pisgah, Lane County has canceled large events at Emerald Meadows for 2015. Meanwhile it's gathering public input on how to manage such gatherings at County parks in the future.

Oregon's November election features a governor's race and a couple of hotly-debated measures. In order to cast a ballot, voters must register by Tuesday.

Lane County Clerk Cheryl Betschart says there are several ways to register to vote by Tuesday:

Betschart: "You can go online at Oregonvotes.gov. That is available for those that have a driver's license, an Oregon i.d. card, or a permit.  And that can be done from the convenience of your home at a computer and that can happen all the way up to 11:59 p.m."

Wikimedia Commons

Eugene is among many cities and counties in Oregon considering a tax on recreational marijuana. The City Council wants to hear from the public before the November Election.

Mjpresson Wikimedia

The Lane County Board of Commissioners voted 4 to 1 Tuesday to move forward with a local tax on recreational marijuana. The tax would be conditional on Oregon voters approving Measure 91, which would legalize recreational pot.  Commissioner Pete Sorenson was the only no vote. The board had been considering taxing medical marijuana as well but decided not to do so.

The board will hold public hearing on the proposed ordinance at its regular meeting next Tuesday.

www.newslincolncounty.com

The Port of Newport plans to expand, yet an important safety service is scheduled to be eliminated. Newport's Coast Guard air facility, including its rescue helicopter station, is slated to close at the end of November.

Once the Newport facility closes, the closest rescue helicopters will be in North Bend, 60 minutes away by air. Captain Todd Trimpert is Commander at the North Bend station. He says the government is under pressure to allocate their resources more effectively:

Merkley campaign

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren rallied a crowd of Democratic Party faithful for Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley Monday. She spoke at the University of Oregon.

greatbuildings.com

There will be no wrecking ball at Eugene’s City Hall. The structure is being disassembled. This week, western red cedar slats and some heavy paving stones are being removed.

The pavers that made up the concrete plaza outside the Council Chamber are being transported to BRING Recycling. Each paver weighs over 100 pounds and more than 2,000 of them have already been moved. BRING’s Executive Director, Julie Daniel, says they’re prepared to store the blocks, plus whatever other cabinets, fixtures and fittings they can take from the building.

The Lane County Board is the latest local government considering imposing a tax on marijuana.

Commissioners Tuesday directed staff attorneys to draft an ordinance that would put a tax on recreational and medical marijuana if Oregon voters approve a pot legalization measure in November.  Commissioner Faye Stewart said he sees this as an opportunity.

Stewart: "I have heard from folks in my travels that when it comes to public safety funding look for new sources. So I see this as a potential opportunity for public safety funding, if this was a viable option."

Wyden Talks Rural Funding, Paying For Wildfires

Sep 30, 2014
Desmond O'Boyle

While in Eugene last week, Oregon U.S. Senator Ron Wyden spoke with KLCC's Desmond O'Boyle about funding for rural parts of the state and the rising costs of fighting wildfires.

Senator Wyden has worked to renew The Secure Rural Schools Act several times, most recently in 2013. The Act ensures funding to rural areas not collecting the timber revenue at the rate they once did. Oregon's share of the Secure Rural Schools Act is more than 2 billion dollars annually. Wyden says as far as providing financial assistance to the State, this is a very important bill.

Senator Ron Wyden Discusses Privacy In The Digital Age

Sep 26, 2014
Desmond O'Boyle

Oregon U.S. Senator Ron Wyden discussed protecting privacy in the digital age at the Club of Eugene, Friday.

As a longtime member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, the Democrat has been critical of government programs collecting large amounts of data on U.S. Citizens. Wyden is concerned the merging of communications systems worldwide will cause innocent Americans to be swept up in searches that target overseas terrorist threats.

On The Campaign Trail With Wehby And Merkley

Sep 26, 2014
OPB News

One of Oregon’s two senate seats is up for grabs this election season. The frontrunners are incumbent Democrat Jeff Merkley and Republican Monica Wehby.

On a recent Saturday morning in Portland, Jeff Merkley met with volunteers at one of his offices.

Retiree Carol Adler was there to show her support.

“I just think he’s terrific. I’ve been volunteering a bit here and I had a house party for him where I live,” Adler said.

ELECTION COVERAGE

Sep 25, 2014

CLICK HERE FOR UP TO THE MINUTE ELECTION RESULTS FROM KLCC NEWS

KLCC will provide results and analysis from NPR on election night, November 4, beginning at 5 p.m.  Local results will begin at 8 p.m.  Coverage will continue until 10 pm.  Regular KLCC evening programming is pre-empted.

Visit these Government sites for Election information:

Rachael McDonald

The Eugene City Council re-affirmed Wednesday it wants to tear down the old city hall and construct a new $15-million building on the same site. The vote was 6 to 2.

The city held a ceremony a few weeks ago marking the start of demolition of the 50-year old city hall building at 8th and Pearl. But the event was marred by protestors who want to keep the old structure, and questions came up about the decision making process. Council President Chris Pryor says the council wanted to clarify its plans.

City of Eugene

The Eugene City Council is expected to decide the fate of the shuttered, 50-year-old city hall this week. The council voted earlier this month to postpone the demolition of city hall for two weeks to have another debate about the building's future.

City spokeswoman Jan Bohman says councilors will hear from the design team  at their Monday evening meeting.

www.lanecounty.org

Reduced timber revenue has been impacting Oregon's public sector for years, and the trend is not expected to change.

Lane County is developing its 2015-2017 strategic plan, focusing on how to do more with less. After a workshop in June, Commissioners identified three priorities: health and safety, infrastructure, and vibrant communities. They hope to continue to tailor the plan to residents' concerns.

County spokeswoman Anne Marie Levis says the passing of the sheriff's levy was a helpful indicator:

Postcards should arrive this week in nearly one million Oregon mailboxes.  They’re promoting a higher turnout in November’s election.  But they’re not being sent in support of a political party or candidate.  

Lane County spokeswoman Anne Marie Levis says the postcards will come from the Secretary of State’s office.  They’ll contain instructions on how to register to vote:

Levis:  “It’s a statewide effort to people who, through multiple different data bases, seem as if they’re not a registered voter and try to get them to register and be able to vote.”

Ballot Measure Speed Dating

Sep 15, 2014

Meeting Date: September 12, 2014

Air Date: September 15, 2014

Speakers both for and against four of the seven ballot measures will try to persuade members and guests to vote pro or con. City Club has invited proponents and opponents to explain the measures and answer your questions about Alternative Driver Licenses, an Equal Rights Amendment, Mandatory Labeling of Genetically Modified Organisms, and the Oregon Legalized Marijuana Initiative.

greencleaningproducts.com

New guidelines in Oregon are designed to direct state agencies to purchase fewer toxic products. Chief Operating Officer Michael Jordan approved the new guidelines Wednesday. Some examples are; using owls to control rats instead of poison, or buying less toxic cleaning products. The changes were prompted by Governor John Kitzhaber in 2012 as part of an effort to increase the number of people and plant friendly products state agencies use. Department of Administrative Services Spokesman Mathew Shelby says what makes Oregon unique is its size.

Rachael McDonald

Springfield is slowing down its efforts to expand its Urban Growth Boundary. The city has proposed designating more areas for industrial development. Residents along Seavey Loop Road near Mt. Pisgah have voiced opposition to plans to develop along College View, which parallels Interstate 5. Springfield spokesman Niel Laudati says the City Council decided Monday to make the effort more collaborative with neighbors.

Rachael McDonald

The Lane County Board of Commissioners heard 2 hours of public testimony Tuesday, much of it opposing a lifting a moratorium on spraying herbicides on county roads. The board will form a task force to look at the issue.

Lane County Commissioners adopted the no spray policy in 2008.
Mary Gabriel is a doctor at Peacehealth. She urged the board not to go back to roadside spraying.

Corinne Boyer

The Eugene City Council pressed the pause button Monday night on taking down City Hall. 

Meeting Date: September 5th, 2014

Air Date: September 8th, 2014

A successful petition drive has placed the Open Primary/Top Two election system on Oregon’s November ballot. The statutory measure will be listed on the ballot as “Changes general election nomination processes: provides for single primary ballot listing candidates; top two advance.”

lanecounty.org

Lane County's new Poverty and Homeless Board recently met for the first time. The 17 member panel is charged with finding solutions to persistent homeless problems.

Last year Lane County Board of Commissioners formed the board following the removal of two homeless camps in Eugene. The board consists of elected officials, community leaders, and a formerly homeless person. Lane County Human Services spokeswoman Pearl Wolfe is excited for the diversity of board members.

Desmond O'Boyle

The Republican nominee for Oregon’s U.S. Senate seat, Doctor Monica Wehby, stopped by a campaign kick-starter rally Friday. About 25 supporters applauded as the challenger arrived in a small office near downtown Eugene. Wehby is running against incumbent Democrat Jeff Merkley. Wehby’s campaign is focusing their strategy on the State’s failed Cover Oregon health exchange. Wehby says the biggest problem with the health exchange was it was overreaching. She favors a free market “patient-centered” approach that includes more collaboration with doctors.

Corinne Boyer

Senator Jeff Merkley rallied his Democratic base at the opening of his campaign office in Eugene Thursday. He's framing the election as grass roots versus special interests.

Merkley is being challenged by Republican Monica Wehby, a doctor from Portland.

Merkley says Lane County is critical in his campaign for a second term in the U.S. Senate. He says out-of-state money has been funneled toward his opponent.

Corinne Boyer

The first 16-foot cedar slat was removed from the condemned Eugene City Hall Wednesday. City leaders held a ceremony marking the beginning of deconstruction of the 50-year old building. Construction of a new City Hall is slated to begin in 2015.

Mayor Kitty Piercy was flanked by sign-holding protestors as she addressed the small assembly.

Piercy: "And I just might say, how could you celebrate a milestone in the civic history of our community without controversy. It's part of who we are as a participatory community."

A study released by an Oregon State University sociologist says policy will determine the economic impact of legal marijuana. A recently published report is being cited by policymakers crafting marijuana legislation in Oregon.

Oregon voters will decide in November whether to legalize recreational marijuana production and use. OSU researcher Seth Crawford says the price for the average consumer will determine if someone chooses to buy pot legally.

Crawford: "They are much more likely to stay in that grey market if the prices are very high on the legal market."

Kerry Arndt / Congressman DeFazio's office

Congressman Peter DeFazio is home in Oregon this month. He's in the midst of 19 town hall meetings as he travels his district. KLCC caught up with the Springfield Democrat at his Eugene office.

I asked him about legislation to increase logging on Oregon's O & C lands administered by the Bureau of Land Management, or BLM. DeFazio's bill was passed by the House a year ago. Senator Ron Wyden introduced his own bill that's a little different from DeFazio's.

Police reports show at least one of the four Ethiopian athletes who went missing after the World Junior Championships in Eugene last month planned to seek asylum. We checked in with an immigration lawyer to find out their chances of success.

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