Willamette Valley News, Wednesday 6/12 – Oregon State Police Traffic Stop on Beltline Ends in Fatal Officer Involved Shooting & Other Local and Statewide News…

The latest news stories and stories of interest in the Willamette Valley from the digital home of Southern Oregon, from Wynne Broadcasting’s WillametteValleyMagazine.com

Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Willamette Valley Weather

Oregon State Police Traffic Stop on Beltline Ends in Fatal Officer Involved Shooting

On Tuesday, June 11, 2024, at 4:26 p.m., an Oregon State Trooper conducted a traffic stop at the intersection of River Avenue and State Route 569 (Beltline Highway) in Eugene.

During the encounter, the driver exited and attempted to obtain a firearm from the passenger side of the vehicle and a less lethal force option (Taser) was deployed but was not successful.

The suspect did not comply with verbal commands and was able to obtain the firearm resulting in the trooper shooting the subject with his department-issued firearm.

Emergency medical aid was immediately provided and medical personnel from Eugene-Springfield Fire Department responded; however, the subject was declared deceased at the scene. The trooper was not injured during the incident and has been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation by the Lane County Inter-Agency Deadly Force Investigation Team (IDFIT).

Pursuant to the Lane County District Attorney’s Office Deadly Force Plan under Senate Bill 111 of the 2007 Oregon Legislative Session, IDFIT is conducting the investigation with the Lane County Sheriff’s Office assuming the primary role for this officer-involved shooting investigation.  

IDFIT is comprised of investigators from the Oregon State Police, Lane County Sheriff’s Office, Eugene Police Department, Springfield Police Department, Cottage Grove Police Department, and Florence Police Department.  Any further information will be released by the Lane County District Attorney’s Office.

Fire Crews Respond to Eugene 4th Floor Apartment Fire

Eugene Springfield Fire is on scene of an apartment fire at Willamette Gardens 3540 Kinsrow Ave in East Eugene.  Firefighters were called to reports of fire on the 4th floor of a 4 story apartment building at 3:10 PM on Tuesday June 11th

Arriving crews found fire on a 4th floor balcony in apartment 406.  A search of the involved apartment found no victims and the fire was contained to the exterior of the balcony area.  The fire is under investigation.

Crews Respond to Eugene Gas Leak and Two Significant Crashes

At 7:44 AM on June 11th, Eugene Springfield Fire responded to a reported smell of natural gas at 1777 Coburg Rd. Ladder 6 from the Sheldon station arrived to find a faint odor of gas. ESF hazmat Engine 9 also arrived to assist with investigation and monitoring. With Northwest natural gas assisting.

Crews located a restaurant adjacent to the initial complaint made access and found a small gas leak due to a malfunctioning pilot. The situation has been mitigated and there are no injuries reported.

ESF resources were stretched thin due to the gas leak, a multiple vehicle crash on Hwy 126 near Fischer Rd and an additional accident in the median of Interstate 5 over the Willamette. 1 patient was transported non emergent from Hwy 126 and one patient was transported emergent from I5.  

ROAD CLOSURE — Old Mill Road (Office Covered Bridge)

Road name: Old Mill Road

Location: Office Covered Bridge (Westfir)

Closure Location: The bridge and road through the bridge are closed. 

Dates and times: Thursday, June 20, 2024 – Sunday, June 23, 2024     

Alternate routes: None.

Reason for closure: Mountain Bike Oregon is hosting its Annual Mountain Bike Camp from June 20 at 1:00 p.m. until June 23 at 4:00 p.m.

Getting Ready for U.S. Olympics Track And Field Team Trials at Hayward Field

The U.S. Olympic team trials are just around the corner. At the end of June, hundreds of top athletes will compete for a spot in Paris, but only so many will qualify and it all comes down to what happens at Hayward Field.

The trials begin June 21 and conclude June 30 at Hayward Field in Eugene. At least one final race will be held during each evening session.

VIEW SCHEDULE HERE: https://www.usatf.org/events/2024/2024-u-s-olympic-team-trials-%E2%80%94-track-field/schedule

While the track and field trials are a long event, held over eight days, there’s no better place to see Olympic athletes compete than Hayward Field.

Here’s how to get tickets for the competition: https://am.ticketmaster.com/haywardtrackandfield/buy — MORE INFO: https://www.usatf.org/events/2024/2024-u-s-olympic-team-trials-%E2%80%94-track-field

Salem Police Department – Investigators Seek Potential Witness in Suspicious Death Investigation

Salem, OR — Detectives from the Salem Police Criminal Investigations Section are currently investigating the death of a 28-year-old Salem woman. 

Just before 2:00 a.m. on May 23, emergency personnel responded to the call of a woman lying in the roadway in the 1000 block of Rural AV SE. Responding paramedics determined the woman was deceased.

The woman is identified as Carla Fernanda Vasquez, age 28, of Salem. Detectives are handling the incident as a suspicious death investigation.

Surveillance video near the area where Vasquez was found shows a passing motorist minutes before the call to police was received. A light-colored vehicle, possibly a van or mid-size, crossover SUV, is seen in the video traveling eastbound on Rural AV as it passes Church ST. Detectives ask for the public’s help in locating this potential witness. 

If you are the driver or know the person driving in the area on that early Thursday morning, or if you have information about the case, please call Salem Police detectives at 503-588-8477. 

# # # Video URL: salempd.info/case-24-43327

Eugene Police Department · Seeking any additional victim reports

On June 4, a man identified as 34-year-old Kerry Michael Diamond was arrested after a report he had followed a woman into a store near W. 11th Avenue and Seneca Road, solicited her for sex, and had pulled out his genitalia in front of her. He was arrested for Public Indecency and during the investigation, detectives found social media posts that indicate there may have been other victims.

If anyone has been victimized or witnessed Diamond engaged in this behavior, please contact Detective Katherine McCartney, 541-214-0881.

Diamond, is age 34, with brown hair, brown eyes, and a thin build. The activity being investigated generally includes exposing his genitalia to women and children, propositioning women for sex in exchange for money or inviting them to perform in a “porno” with him, and masturbating in public. Case 24-07988

Life Jacket Exchange to be held on June 15th thanks to Springfield Elks Lodge donation

Lane County Sheriff’s Search & Rescue and the Springfield Elks Club will be holding a Life Jacket Exchange on June 15th from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Springfield Elks lodge, located at 1701 Centennial Blvd, Springfield. The program’s mission is to ensure every child playing in or near the water has a properly fitting life jacket. 

Bring your child and their outgrown or lightly used life jacket to the Springfield Elks Club parking lot on June 15th and exchange it for a properly fitting child’s life jacket. The Lane County Sheriff’s Office and local Elks will be there to help check jackets for form, fit, and function. Life jackets that are turned in for exchange are inspected for safety and handed back out at the event.  Any additional life jackets left over after the event will be distributed to life jacket loaner stations throughout the county.

This event is first come first served and the child will need to be present to ensure they get a proper size.

The Life Jacket Exchange was a staple of the Lane County Sheriff’s Search & Rescue for many years thanks to community donations. The Springfield Elks Lodge generously donated life jackets and their facility for the event this year. We are excited to offer this program again to ensure the safety of our community’s children while they enjoy Lane County’s many beautiful water ways.  

Lane County targeted by Automated Phone Scam

The Lane County Sheriff’s Office has received dozens of reports this morning from our community about an automated phone scam claiming to be our agency.  The scam is originating from or providing a callback number of 541-361-3786, and all options on the phone tree result in the caller being asked to send an email to a fraudulent email address, usually some variation of “info” at “civil service agency”.  

Residents are advised not to call the scammer back or email any address provided. If you are contacted by this scam, please report it to the Federal Bureau of Investigation at www.ic3.gov

We will NEVER ask for money by phone, text, or email.  We will NEVER call you about missed jury duty. Scammers usually claim there are warrants, missed jury duty, or unsettled legal issues.  The scammers then ask for payment or personal information, often to avoid arrest.  In some instances, the scammers appear to call from official phone numbers or provide fraudulent callback numbers with official-sounding voicemail inboxes.  They often already have some personal information based on the phone number they called.

If you are contacted by someone claiming to be a Lane County Sheriff’s Office employee and you think you are being scammed, please hang up and contact our dispatch center at 541-682-4141. — Please share with your friends and family!

Lane County Firewise Grant Program open for applications

Lane County’s Firewise Grant Incentive Program is accepting applications from residents in unincorporated Lane County beginning May 31 through 4:00 p.m. on June 27, 2024.

Firewise grants provide rural property owners with funding to help complete projects that reduce the risk of wildfire, such as clearing vegetation, replacing wood shake roofing, fire-resistant landscaping materials, noncombustible exterior siding, chimney spark arrestors, and more. Up to $15,500 in grant funding is available for each qualifying property. 

Apply online at www.LaneCountyOR.gov/firewise. Paper applications are also available at the Lane County Public Works Customer Service Center (3050 North Delta Highway, Eugene). 

Firewise grants are funded through Title III of the Federal Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Program – Section 601 of the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008. 

Housing and Community Needs Survey

2025 Consolidated Plan image

Are you familiar with the challenges of finding, maintaining, or paying for housing in the Eugene-Springfield area? Do you have insights into the local need for housing, human services and community/economic development programs? Please help identify our local housing and community needs for low- and moderate-income people by completing the short survey below.  TAKE THE SURVEY

CAHOOTS and HOOTS Workers Rally for Wage Increase and Other Contract Issues

It has been more than a year since White Bird Clinic and its unionized crisis workers began negotiations and they still haven’t reached an agreement on a new contract.

Support CAHOOTS and HOOTS Workers Win a Fair First Contract NOW — PETITION

Did you know the $18/hr starting wage for CAHOOTS and HOOTS workers hasn’t changed since 2018? Sign this letter of support to help CAHOOTS (Crisis Assistance Helping Out On the Streets) and HOOTS (Helping Out Our Teens in Schools) unionized workers win their first fair union contract with White Bird Clinic.

CAHOOTS medics and crisis workers have been proudly supporting their fellow community members on the streets and in the houses, schools, businesses, shelters, hospitals and healthcare offices of every neighborhood in Eugene since 1989. CAHOOTS later expanded service into Springfield in 2015 and soon founded its sister program HOOTS in 2017. These programs provide free crisis intervention, mental health and medical aid to whoever is in need (for CAHOOTS that’s an average of 20,000+ calls a year; HOOTS provides 28 clinics in 12 high schools). 

Today, their workers need your support. Show your commitment to sustaining workers and protecting the integrity of the CAHOOTS model that has been called “the gold standard”* for alternative response models nationally. Sign here to ensure crisis workers and medics who are dedicating their lives towards helping others win a living wage. Learn more about our campaign


Providence Hospital Nurses Prepare to Strike Across Oregon 

More than 3,000 nurses in six Providence hospitals could participate in the three-day strike, which is due to start in a week

In a week, thousands of nurses at six Providence hospitals in Oregon will go on a three-day strike that could be the largest in the state’s history. 

The Oregon Nurses Association, which represents more than 3,000 nurses at the six hospitals, has delivered a 10-day notice to the management at the nonprofit Providence Health & Services, Oregon’s largest hospital group. The group intends for the strike to start at 6 a.m. on Tuesday, June 18.

It’s unclear how the strike might affect patients. Providence officials plan to bring in substitute nurses during the three days and say they’ll continue to provide comprehensive services. 

The strike plans follow simmering tensions between Providence, the largest Portland-area employer and the nurses tied to Oregon’s Safe Staffing Law. The Legislature passed the bill and Gov. Tina Kotek signed it into law in 2023. House Bill 2697 sets a minimum for nurse-to-patient ratios and establishes a process for hospital employees and management to agree upon staffing levels and plans. 

Other issues include competitive compensation and affordable health care plans, the nurses union said. The strike is set to unfold at hospitals that stretch from southern Oregon to the Portland region. The six hospitals are: Providence St. Vincent in southwest Portland, Providence Newberg, Providence Willamette Falls in Oregon City, Providence Medford, Providence Hood River and Providence Milwaukie. Nurses at Providence Portland Medical Center in northeast Portland did not join the strike notice.

Providence officials say they have dealt fairly with the nurses. Nurses and leaders with the nurses association said the planned strike is necessary after a four-day mediation last week demonstrated hospital managers aren’t interested in making serious proposals.

“At Providence Medford, we are facing a staffing crisis, and our nurses are overworked, offered low quality health care, and paid less than the current market for nurses in Medford,” Caroline Allison, a registered nurse at Providence Medford, said in a release. “Adding insult to injury, it has now become clear that Providence appears to be systematically trying to undermine Oregon’s Safe Staffing Law. The Safe Staffing Law was intended to solve the nurse workforce shortage crisis and allow us to greatly enhance patient care. Instead, Providence has again made the decision to focus on its bottom lines instead of their workforce, their communities and their patients.” (READ MORE)

Oregon’s 2024 Minimum Wage Increase Takes Effect July 1st

A 50-cent hike to Oregon’s minimum wage will bring baseline pay in the Portland area just to the doorstep of $16 an hour this summer.

Oregon’s Bureau of Labor and Industries announced Tuesday that the minimum wage in the Portland area will rise to $15.95. In urban counties outside the Portland area, the minimum wage will be $14.70 an hour. And in rural counties, the minimum will be $13.70. The change takes effect July 1.

Oregon has had a tiered minimum wage since 2017, when the state Legislature approved a series of minimum wage increases but kept the minimum lower in more rural parts of the state, reasoning that the cost of living was lower, too.

Since 2023, annual increases in the minimum wage have been tied to the rate of inflation. The Consumer Price Index, the inflation measure used to calculate the increase, rose 3.5% over the past year.

The increases announced Tuesday range from 2.9% for the Portland metro to 3.8% raise in rural areas.

The average Oregon hourly wage is much higher than the minimum, $31.17 last year, according to the state employment department. The federal minimum wage has been $7.25 an hour since 2009. (SOURCE)

Oregon to Receive $15 Million in Settlement Over Baby Powder Lawsuit

Women’s health organizations will get $4.7 million of the proceeds in the settlement, which is part of a national case with 43 states

Oregon will receive $15 million from Johnson & Johnson to settle allegations that the pharmaceutical and medical company marketed unsafe baby powder products to consumers.

The settlement is part of a national $700 million agreement that 43 attorneys general made with the New Jersey-based company. It’s tied to allegations that Johnson & Johnson sold baby powder and body powder products with talc, which plaintiffs alleged is linked to serious health problems that include ovarian cancer and mesothelioma, a cancer tied to asbestos exposure.

As part of the settlement, Johnson & Johnson admitted no wrongdoing, court documents show. But Johnson & Johnson stopped distributing and selling the baby powder products, sold for more than a century, when states started investigating. 

“For decades, Johnson & Johnson misled consumers about the potential harms of its talc powder products,” Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said in a statement . “Worse, they doubled down on the safety of those products, attacked credible scientific studies, refused to include warning labels on their products, and, at every turn, put profits ahead of lives. These decisions overwhelmingly harmed women.”

As part of the agreement, Johnson & Johnson agreed to stop manufacturing and selling its baby powder and other products that contain talc in the U.S.. The lawsuit also alleged the company targeted African American and Hispanic women in its marketing efforts to reverse declining sales. 

Four organizations will receive $4.7 million of the settlement’s proceeds for women’s health programs. 

Planned Parenthood will receive $4 million, with $2 million for Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette in Portland and $2 million for Planned Parenthood Southwestern Oregon in Eugene. 

The two groups will use the money for outreach and access to health care, with an eye on eliminating disparities among marginalized communities. 

Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center, which provides care for nearly 52,000 patients in Yamhill and Washington counties, will receive about $350,000 to increase access to ultrasounds for ovarian cancer screenings and offer more Hepatitis B vaccines. 

The Oregon Health & Science University Foundation will receive $275,000 for outreach and cancer screenings for tribal communities. 

And finally, the Ovarian Cancer Alliance of Oregon and Southwest Washington will get $55,750 to aid patients with ovarian cancer.

The remaining $10.3 million will go to an Oregon Department of Justice fund that the agency has discretion to use in different ways for its work, court records show. The department’s fund helps pay for various investigative, consumer protection and consumer education efforts. (SOURCE)

After settlement, Disability Rights Oregon and DHS wait for neutral expert pick

Disability Rights Oregon and the Oregon Department of Human Services will need a federal judge to pick the neutral expert to guide improvements forward 

The Oregon Department of Human Services and child advocacy groups who sued the state agency over its poor management of foster care are unable to agree on who should oversee a historic settlement that requires the state to overhaul its child welfare system.

Both sides proposed a neutral expert, and federal Judge  Ann Aiken will pick the person who will guide the work of the settlement in a class-action lawsuit for years to come. The settlement, which could last for up to 12 years, requires the state to improve its foster care system, with the neutral expert playing a key role in setting benchmarks and determining whether the agency is making adequate progress.

The two sides agreed the state needs to make improvements in areas that include that rate at which children exit and re-enter foster care, ideal living situations for children and appropriate medical, dental and mental health care.

The settlement, announced in May, ended a class-action lawsuit filed in 2019 in U.S. District Court in Eugene based on the experiences of 10 current or former foster children. Disability Rights Oregon and the national nonprofit A Better Childhood filed the lawsuit in an effort to bring systemic improvements in the foster care system, which cares for more than 4,600 children.

The lawsuit, which gained class action status in 2022, sought to better the foster care system, which has drawn scrutiny for shuffling children from home to home, using inappropriate out-of-state placements and bunking children in hotels amid a shortage of adequate housing. 

Under the terms of the settlement, the two sides are to submit names to the court if they cannot agree on an expert. That has quickly happened since the signing of the settlement, records show. 

In court papers filed Monday, Disability Rights Oregon and A Better Childhood nominated Kevin Ryan, who has served as a neutral expert in similar cases in Florida, Michigan, Oklahoma and Texas. 

Ryan’s career in child welfare started in 2002 in New Jersey, where he was that state’s first child advocate, a watchdog role in child welfare issues. Ryan was New Jersey’s human services commissioner and worked to reorganize that state’s system into “what has now become one of the best child welfare systems in the country,” the filing said.

In 2008, he left state service and now works solely as a neutral expert to monitor child welfare cases and settlement work. 

Attorneys for the Oregon Department of Human Services nominated Julie Farber, who has 30 years of child welfare experience. From 2015 until 2022, Farber was a deputy commissioner for the New York City Administration for Children’s Services, the agency’s court filing said. That role included reducing the number of children in foster care. 

“Ms. Farber has dedicated her career to advocating for systemic change to improve outcomes for children and families,” the agency’s filing said.

Farber also has experience coordinating child welfare reforms in the Washington, D.C. child welfare system under a court agreement and served for five years as the policy director at Children’s Rights, Inc., an organization that has filed child welfare class-action lawsuits nationwide.  (SOURCE)

Southern Oregon Casino Battle Enters Appropriations Process

A long-stalled southern Oregon casino project pitting competing Native American tribes against each other has caught the attention of congressional appropriators, as opponents push for language in the upcoming Interior-Environment spending bill that would bar the project from moving forward.

Oregon’s Coquille Indian Tribe has long sought to build the new casino, an effort opposed by other tribes and a bipartisan army of politicians, including Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek, a Democrat; all four senators from Oregon and California; and various members of the Oregon and northern California House delegations.

Representatives of the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians, based in Oregon, and the Karuk Tribe in northwest California asked House appropriators in hearings last month to include language in the fiscal 2025 bill that would prevent the Coquille casino, currently under review by the Interior Department, and others like it from being built.

Coquille first submitted its application for the project, which would renovate a bowling alley into a gaming facility on a 2.4-acre piece of land in Medford, Ore., in November 2012. 

The Bureau of Indian Affairs rejected the proposal in 2020 under then-President Donald Trump, a decision the Biden administration reversed in late 2021 when Interior’s Office of Indian Gaming determined that the previous denial had been issued before the environmental review process was completed. A decision is still pending.

Both tribes requesting congressional intervention have casinos on the I-5 corridor, the highway that runs through Medford. Cow Creek owns Seven Feathers Casino in Canyonville, Ore., to the north, and Karuk operates Rain Rock Casino in Yreka, Calif., to the south. 

The Coquille tribe points to the 1989 law recognizing the tribe, which lists five counties — including Jackson County, where Medford is located — as part of the tribe’s “service area.” That means members residing in that area can benefit from federal services and benefits to tribes, even if they don’t live specifically within the 1,000 acres considered to be “trust” land, or the primary reservation.

The House’s Interior-Environment appropriations bill is scheduled to be released late this month, ahead of a scheduled June 28 subcommittee markup. House Interior-Environment Appropriations Chairman Mike Simpson, R-Idaho, did not respond to a request for comment on the tribes’ ask. 

Meade said Interior should ignore the political pressure that opponents of the project are pushing and should make its decision based on one factor: the law. 

“The Department of Interior will make a decision,” she said. “We expect them to make a decision based on the law, not on the political influence that is being packed around by some of our tribes.” (SOURCE)

Central Point Police Department says today all people involved in a weekend stabbing death are members of the same family.

Central Point Police Department (CPPD) Lieutenant Josh Abbott says police are interviewing more people today in the death investigation.  He says no names are being released from the case pending criminal charges by the Jackson County District Attorney’s Office.

Abbott says Saturday’s incident involves four adults from the same family who all knew each other, including a woman hospitalized in stable condition from blunt force trauma.  He says the suspect for that trauma is different than the stabbing suspect in the case. Abbott says two men were stabbed, killing one man and hospitalizing another in stable condition today.  He says the fourth family member in the case was hurt, though not needing hospitalization.

Abbott says no arrests have occurred in the case, which involved a knife and could have involved alcohol in the 2200 block of New Haven Drive. There is not believed to be any ongoing threat to the community.

Jackson County Major Assault and Death Investigation Unit and the Oregon State Police Forensic Unit are supporting CPPD detectives with the investigation.

Rodeo Bull Hops Fence at Sisters Rodeo Injuring People Before Being Captured

A rodeo in Sisters Oregon descended into chaos Saturday after a bull escaped the arena and ran loose through the event grounds, leaving three people — including a sheriff’s deputy — injured, officials said. Two people were transported to the hospital due to injuries, according to first responders.

The incident occurred around 10 p.m. PT on Saturday, during the final section of the bull-riding event at Sisters Rodeo. The bull, which was competing at the event, hopped the arena fence and ran out through the grounds and back to the livestock holding pens, according to a statement from Sisters Rodeo.

Video from the incident shared on social media showed the bull striking a rodeo attendee and lifting them off the ground twice.

No details were available on the attendee’s current condition. “Rodeo livestock professionals quickly responded to safely contain the bull,” event organizers said in the statement, adding, “It was secured next to the livestock holding pens by our rodeo pickup men and immediately placed into a pen.”

Lt. Jayson Janes, with the Deschutes County Sheriff’s office, told ABC News that the sheriff’s deputy suffered a minor injury while running after the bull after it escaped. It was unclear how the third individual was injured in the melee.

The Rodeo Sports Medicine Team, Sisters-Camp Sherman RFPD, Cloverdale RFPD, rodeo staff and local law enforcement responded immediately with first aid and care, according to event organizers. Sisters Rodeo continued with scheduled events on Sunday as planned.

A southern Oregon lawmaker’s comments on a podcast suggesting non-Christians aren’t qualified to hold elected office didn’t violate legislative rules around a safe and respectful workplace, a House panel determined Monday. 

The House Committee on Conduct voted 3-1 that Rep. E. Werner Reschke, R-Malin, didn’t violate House rules when he told a conservative Christian podcast host that people want Christians, not atheists, Muslims or “materialists,” in government. Rep. Jason Kropf, D-Bend, joined Republican Reps. Kevin Mannix of Salem and Ed Diehl of Stayton in voting to clear Reschke, while Rep. Thuy Tran, D-Portland, voted against. 

Reschke did not respond Monday to a request for comment.

The investigation into Reschke stemmed from comments he made on a conservative Christian talk show in January that were reported by OPB. During a conversation with former Arkansas lawmaker Jason Rapert, Reschke said he was inspired to run for office because of men including George Washington, James Madison, Abraham Lincoln and Ronald Reagan.

“You look at men and the struggles that they faced and the faith that they had, and those are the type of people that you want in government making tough decisions during tough times,” he said. “You don’t want a materialist, you don’t want an atheist, you don’t want a Muslim, you don’t want, you want somebody who understands what truth is and understands the nature of man, the nature of government and the nature of God.” 

Democratic leaders condemned his comments and anti-LGBTQ+ sentiments that newly appointed state Rep. Dwayne Yunker, R-Grants Pass, had expressed on his campaign website. On the final day of the legislative session, members of civil rights groups and state Rep. Tom Andersen, D-Salem, gathered outside the Capitol to protest Reschke’s and Yunker’s comments. 

“Rep. Reschke’s comment was offensive, and it will impact my working environment and it will affect my interactions with him.” – Rep. Thuy Tran, D-Portland

Meanwhile, an attorney with Jackson Lewis, a Portland law firm, was quietly investigating whether Reschke’s comments violated legislative rules meant to ensure the Capitol is a safe and respectful workplace. Two people who attorney Sarah Ryan described as mandatory reporters said they had been approached by others with concerns about Reschke’s comments, including that at least one person who didn’t want to be identified felt that Reschke’s comments adversely impacted their work at the Capitol. 

Legislative rules require state representatives, senators and nonpartisan supervisors to report any behavior that could violate the Capitol’s workplace policies. Legislative Equity Officer Bor Yang hired Ryan to investigate the reports, as well as a separate complaint about a July 2022 invitation from Reschke to a prayer vigil that was interpreted as threatening to LGBTQ+ individuals. Ryan quickly dismissed that complaint, saying there was no indication it affected anyone at the Capitol. 

She spoke to a dozen people about his comments about Muslims and atheists and found that two were concerned about how Reschke’s comments would affect their work at the Capitol. One was troubled by years-old tweets Reschke had made about Muslims, and another individual feared that Reschke viewed them as lesser. 

“Most of the people that I interviewed were at least initially offended by the comments that were made by Representative Reschke,” Ryan said. “Some had one-on-one conversations with the representative and were satisfied with his explanation, but there were only two people who indicated that the comments had an impact on their work at the Capitol.”

Tran, who is Buddhist, said she absolutely sees an effect from Reschke’s words. 

“Rep. Reschke’s comment was offensive, and it will impact my working environment and it will affect my interactions with him,” she said. 

‘Lessons for all of us’ — Kropf said the comments were clearly disrespectful to Muslims and atheists, but that the Legislature’s workplace harassment rules aren’t clear on what conduct outside of the Capitol should or shouldn’t be allowed. He personally believed Reschke’s comments, made as a state representative on a podcast, were related to his work in the Legislature, but he said he understood how Mannix and Diehl could reach a different conclusion.

“​​I hope that he has been – I think he has been – reflective and appreciative of the impact those words have had and the work that he has to do to continue to restore trust,” Kropf said. “There’s lessons for all of us to learn in this. To me, what this reinforces is that we can be guided by our faith, we can be guided by our beliefs, but we can also be respectful of the faith and the beliefs of others and how that they guide them in our governance for our state.”

Mannix echoed that he believed Reschke has reflected on the comments, and that he hopes Yang will consider those comments as she prepares training for legislators to follow. Reschke did not address the committee and did not respond to a call or emailed questions about the decision or any reflection.

Diehl said he was concerned that legislative workplace rules could become so broad that they stifle lawmakers’ abilities to express themselves and discuss legislation. 

“We’re looking at something that wasn’t even said in the building,” he said. “It was said completely outside the building. It wasn’t even directed at any particular individual, and we’re here having a discussion on it.” (SOURCE)

One week after sharing additional details about its planned merger with Legacy Health, Oregon Health & Science University told staff it’s planning to lay off more than 500 workers.

The news is drawing criticism from unions representing workers at the health care giant.

In an internal email obtained by OPB, OHSU president Dr. Danny Jacobs and senior leadership attributed the cuts to expenses outpacing costs, as Willamette Week first reported.

“Despite our efforts to increase our revenue, our financial position requires difficult choices about internal structures, workforce and programs to ensure that we achieve our state-mandated missions and thrive over the long-term,” Jacobs said in the Thursday email.

An OHSU spokesperson told OPB that the precise number of layoffs will be announced in the coming weeks. On May 30, the health care giant announced that it’s moving forward with its planned merger with Legacy Health.

In Thursday’s email, Jacobs said that, while this news likely raises questions about OHSU’s financial situation, the investment in Legacy is funded by borrowing with 30-year bonds that “cannot be used to close gaps in our fiscal year 2025 OHSU budget or to pay our members.”

OHSU plans to hold a town hall next week to answer staff questions. In the email, leaders said they’ll provide significant updates as soon as possible as part of their “commitment to transparency.”

They said discussions about workforce reductions will start “following the annual review and contract renewal process, with additional reductions happening over the next few months.”

“It’s outrageous and immoral that OHSU is on one hand planning to lay off 500 hard-working people and reduce patient care, while writing checks for million dollar bonuses to their top executives and adding $350,000 to CEO Dr. Danny Jacobs’ retirement account,” said Jennie Olson, president of AFSCME Local 328, in a statement. “OHSU needs to prioritize patients and people instead of lining the pockets of people in ivory towers.” (SOURCE)

The Oregon Health Athority is rasising awareness for one of the most common forms of financial fraud: Medicare fraud. 

OHA says Medicare loses $60 billion a year to fraud, errors and abuse. 

Raising awareness on 6/5 and the week after signifies the 65-yr-old and older population since most people become eligable for Medicare at 65-yrs-old.  To learn more, read the OHA blog here: https://ow.ly/VIRu50Sc7pS

Oregonians Targeted By Text Tolling Scam

A new nationwide texting scam is targeting Oregon drivers now. Ellen Klem, with the Oregon Attorney General’s Office says the phishing scheme started in the midwest earlier in the spring. “I’m honestly not surprised it’s happening now, because now is the time where everyone is gearing up to drive.”

The text claims to be from “Oregon Toll Service” and says the recipient owes an $11.69 outstanding balance; they face a $50 late fee if they don’t click on a link and pay up. Klem says some people may identify the fraud right away, because Oregon doesn’t have tolling, “But, we live next to all these other states that have tolls.” And she worries some will fall for it. 

“They are not interested in the $11,” says Klem, “They are interested in much, much more.” She believes the scammers want your personal information, and clicking on the link could allow them to access other data on your phone.

The text has all the markers of a scam, like contact out of the blue from an unknown agency. “There’s a lot of really cheap or free technology out there that allows the scammers to pretend to be somebody they’re not. So, in this case, they’re pretending to be associated with an agency that administers tolls in the state of Oregon. But that doesn’t exist,” says Klem, “Second sign: There’s some sort of emergency. In this case, you have an unpaid bill; that’s frightening to a lot of people.”

She suggests not being in such a rush to respond to every text or email, “These phones, they’re everywhere and we have this sort of automatic response to click on a link or to pick up every phone call. And, I want to remind people just to slow down and think before you click on anything.” Klem adds, “Really, at the end of the day, this is a text message that you can and you should ignore.”

If you get a text, email or phone call you’re not sure is legit, call the Oregon Department of Justice Consumer hotline at 877-877-9392. Volunteer experts are available weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m.

West Coast’s ShakeAlert System gets Major Upgrade

The ShakeAlert System is available to cell phone users in California, Oregon and Washington.

The U.S. Geological Survey and its partners are announcing a new capability to characterize large earthquakes quickly, helping inform the public about potentially damaging shaking headed their way. In addition to over 1500 seismic sensors that detect ground shaking, the ShakeAlert System now makes use of sensors that detect earth-surface movement via satellite.

“While rare, earthquakes greater than magnitude 7 can have the greatest impact on human lives and infrastructure,” said Robert de Groot, with the USGS ShakeAlert Operations Team. “Future major offshore earthquakes in the Pacific Northwest, which could be similar to the 2011 M 9.1 earthquake in Japan, underscore the importance of incorporating satellite data stream into the ShakeAlert System.” 

The newly added ShakeAlert capability that uses data from real-time Global Navigation Satellite System sensors may more quickly and accurately determine the magnitude and the area of shaking from very large earthquakes, resulting in faster notifications for people to take a protective action, such as Drop, Cover, and Hold On. GNSS data, which includes the well-known US-based Global Positioning System, are now used in addition to seismic data to detect earthquakes. While seismic sensors measure how quickly the ground is shaking, GNSS sensors measure how far the ground moves up, down, or sideways during an earthquake. 

The ShakeAlert System, currently available in California, Oregon, and Washington, can protect people and infrastructure by delivering alerts to cell phones and triggering automatic actions like slowing down trains to prevent derailments, opening firehouse doors so they don’t jam shut, and closing valves to protect water systems.  

The ShakeAlert GNSS integration and ongoing operations is a partnership of the USGS, the National Science Foundation funded EarthScope Consortium, university partners with significant contributions from the University of Washington, Central Washington University, UC Berkeley, and the Pacific Northwest Seismic Network. 

The ShakeAlert Earthquake Early Warning System is managed by the U.S. Geological Survey in partnership with state agencies and universities and it is a public safety tool for over 50 million residents and visitors in California, Oregon, Washington. When the ShakeAlert seismic sensor buildout is completed at the end of 2025 there will be a network of over 2000 ShakeAlert stations poised to protect residents and visitors in California, Oregon, and Washington. 

For more information on how this new capability works, watch this video.   (SOURCE)

Come to the World Beat Festival to Experience Global Cultures: Ukraine is the 2024 Featured Country

Salem Multicultural Institute is excited to celebrate Ukraine as the 27th annual World Beat Festival’s featured country. World Beat is one of Salem’s premier community traditions, offering a vibrant two-day program of international music, dance, song, theater, food, crafts, customs, rituals, and folklore. This year’s festival will begin Friday evening, June 28, and run through Sunday, June 30, at Salem’s Riverfront Park.

Kathleen Fish, Executive Director, emphasizes that this is the only festival of its kind honoring the Salem/Keizer community’s rich tapestry of cultures. “There are 107 languages spoken in our school district. The festival recognizes and explores the cultures of many of these families.”

The festivities kick off Friday, June 28, from 5 to 10 p.m. with “Friday Night at the Beat,” featuring vocal performances and fire dancing on the Main Stage. 

The festival opens at 10 a.m. on Saturday, June 29, with the Children’s Parade. Kids who want to participate in the parade will assemble at the Pavilion at the North End of the park. 

Each child who attends will receive a passport at the entrance gate to collect stamps from each World Village. Village tents will feature kid-friendly cultural games and activities. This year’s activities include making cherry blossoms in the Asian Pacific Village, Pysanky (traditional egg decorating) in the European Village, Arpilleras (traditional Chilean textile art) in the Americas Village, and crafting Nguni Shields in the Africa & Middle East Village.

Adults can enjoy beverages in the beer garden while listening to live music. Boating enthusiasts can cheer on their favorite teams during the World Beat Dragon Boat Races

“We had over 25,000 guests attend last year, enjoying performances on seven stages representing more than 50 different countries and cultures. Our visitors come from all over the Northwest and even Canada,” added Fish.

Organized by the volunteer-driven Salem Multicultural Institute, the festival requires 400 volunteers annually to manage setup, stage operations, and cleanup. Volunteers contributing at least four hours receive an event T-shirt and free entry to the festival.

Admission to the festival is $10/1-day pass/adult or $15 for the weekend. Children 0-14, SNAP card holders, and Veterans are free. 

You can view a complete schedule and vendor list or sign up to volunteer atwww.worldbeatfestival.org or call (503) 581-2004. 

About the World Beat Festival: The World Beat Festival originated in the late 1990s and was conceived by two young mothers, Mona Hayes and Kathleen Fish, who wanted a space to celebrate cultural heritage. Starting with a small gathering in 1998, the festival has grown into Oregon’s largest multicultural event of its kind. www.WorldBeatFestival.org, 503-581-2004.

About the Salem Multicultural Institute (SMI): The vision of the Salem Multicultural Institute and the purpose of the World Beat Festival and World Beat Gallery are to create an environment of openness for all people. In all our activities, SMI aims to be family-friendly, economically inclusive, and culturally authentic. Visit the gallery located at 390 Liberty ST SE, Salem. www.salemmulticultural.org.

State holding open house meetings on community wildfire programs

SALEM, Ore. — A series of six open houses about the state’s new community wildfire risk reduction programs are scheduled June 3 through July 1 across Oregon. These events will offer opportunities to learn about new defensible space and home hardening standards, as well as the draft wildfire hazard map. 

The resource-fair style open houses are being held in the communities that have some of the greatest levels of wildfire hazard within the wildland-urban interface. Each open house will begin with a short presentation and introductions, but visitors may stop in at any point during the event to get questions answered about the draft hazard map and associated community wildfire programs. 

Representatives from multiple agencies will be present to have one-on-one or small group conversations to help people understand Oregon’s statewide wildfire programs.

  • Oregon Department of Forestry representatives will address questions on administrative rules and hazard zone assessment appeals.
  • Oregon State University representatives will address questions on wildfire hazard science, statewide data sources, and updates to the draft hazard map made over the last two years.
  • Oregon State Fire Marshal representatives will address questions regarding defensible space standards, code adoption process and implementation.
  • Building Codes Division representatives from the Department of Consumer and Business Services will address questions on home hardening construction standards, related code provisions, and implementation.
  • Division of Financial Regulation representatives from the Department of Consumer and Business Services will address questions on home insurance market and requirements of insurers under Senate Bill 82 (2023).
  • Wildfire Programs Advisory Council members will address questions on statewide policy direction for wildfire programs and council business.

Meetings will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. on the following dates:

  • Redmond—Monday, June 3, Deschutes County Fairgrounds and Expo Center, South Sister Hall, 3800 SW Airport Way, Redmond, OR 97756
  • La Grande—Tuesday, June 4, Union County Fairgrounds, Mount Emily Building, 3604 N 2nd St., La Grande, OR 97850
  • Central Point—Monday, June 17, Jackson County Fairgrounds, Mace Building, 1 Peninger Rd., Central Point, OR 97502
  • Grants Pass—Thursday, June 20, Grants Pass High School, 830 NE 9th St., Grants Pass, OR 97526
  • Klamath Falls—Monday, June 24, Klamath County Event Center, Hall #2, 3531 S 6th St., Klamath Falls, OR 97603
  • The Dalles—Monday, July 1, Oregon Military Department Armory, 402 E. Scenic Dr., The Dalles, OR 97058

Find more information on ODF’s wildfire hazard webpage.

To subscribe to information related to updates on the statewide wildfire hazard map, visit the ODF website.

Background: The 2021 Legislature passed Senate Bill 762 that required the Oregon Department of Forestry to develop and maintain a comprehensive statewide map of wildfire risk that included wildland-urban interface boundaries and five fire risk classes by June 30, 2022, in collaboration with Oregon State University. After the initial version of the map was rescinded August 4, 2022, ODF and OSU began gathering feedback and incorporating it into future mapping efforts. 

The 2023 Legislature passed Senate Bill 80 that made several changes to the map including changing the name from a “risk” map to a “hazard” map, reducing the number of hazard classes from five to three, and changing the appeal and notification requirements. 

Written comment or questions about any aspect of the implementation of Senate Bill 762 and Senate Bill 80 may be submitted by email at any time to ehazardmap@odf.oregon.gov“>odf.wildfirehazardmap@odf.oregon.gov.

Oregon’s Missing Persons

Many times you’ll see postings without case numbers or police contact. There is rarely a nefarious reason why (the nefarious ones are pretty obvious). Usually the loved one tried to call to report their missing person and they are either refused or told to wait a day or two by people who are unaware of SB 351 and the laws that they are bound to when answering the phone. Many people don’t bother calling LE if their loved one is homeless or in transition because they believe LE won’t care. The biggest myth is the 24 hour rule.

In Oregon we don’t have those rules and an officer or person answering the phone is not allowed to decide. The law decides. We have Senate Bill 351 and it states that the police CANNOT refuse a request for any reason and they must begin working on it within 12 hours. The person making the report does not have to be related to missing person either.

Here is SB 351 written by families of the missing here in Oregon in conjunction with Oregon law enforcement officers. This should be common knowledge, please make it this way. https://olis.oregonlegislature.gov/…/SB351/Introduced

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