Oregon Attorney General Rosenblum Statement Regarding Former Gov. Kitzhaber and Cylvia Hayes Investigation

SALEM — Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum today announced that, at the request of federal authorities, she will temporarily defer the Oregon Department of Justice’s investigation into allegations against former Governor John Kitzhaber and Ms. Cylvia Hayes. In return, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has agreed to share information with the state once the far-ranging federal criminal investigation is completed.

Rosenblum, a former federal prosecutor and a former state judge, thanked United States Attorney Amanda Marshall and the FBI for their cooperation and stated:
“I reiterate my prior statement that Oregonians deserve a thorough review of the allegations surrounding now former-Governor Kitzhaber and Ms. Hayes. I fully support the efforts of the federal authorities. We share the ultimate goal of protecting the integrity of our state institutions through a comprehensive investigation. My decision to temporarily defer our state investigation is in line with this shared goal. At the appropriate time, we will review the facts, and investigate further if necessary, to ensure that any violations of state law are addressed.”

Oregon statutes require the state Attorney General to investigate allegations of public corruption and malfeasance by public officials, and they encourage cooperation and coordination with local, state and federal authorities. State law also provides that following the investigation, the Attorney General is to coordinate, cooperate and assist in taking legal action, as appropriate.

Home at Last Bone Soup benefit Saturday night

Bone Soup posterThe Home At Last annual silent auction event “Bone Soup” is coming Saturday! Last years event was attended by over 200 guests and brought in a little over $20,000. This year, February 28th is the date for our annual fund raiser. It is expected to attract over 250 attendees and our goal is $30,000.

Home At Last is a non-profit animal shelter in The Dalles, Oregon.  Here at Home at Last no animal is ever euthanized simply for being homeless. We strive to provide homes for all our shelter animals and survive solely on donations.

Contributions from donors like you help us to find forever homes for hundreds of animals in need. From providing exceptional veterinary care and loving attention to pets to educating pet owners about appropriate care, your donation serves to forever strengthen our commitment to serving the animals and people of our area.

Listen to last night’s call-in with Washington 14th Dist. Rep. Gina McCabe and Norm Johnson

Wednesday night, February 25, Washington 14th District Representatives Gina McCabe and Norm Johnson hosted a “community conversation” call-in event, taking questions from voters all over the 14th District. If you missed that conversation, you can listen in by clicking on the grey podcast bars below. We’ve divided the show in two parts for your convenience.

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Hood River Sheriff: Portland man found dead at bottom of cliff

HOOD RIVER, Ore. (AP) — The sheriff of Hood River County, Oregon, says a 24-year-old Portland man has been found dead at the bottom of a cliff.

Sheriff Matt English said Monday that Peter Bryner had been camping with others last weekend in the Surveyors Ridge area off a Forest Service road. Other campers spotted his body Sunday and called the sheriff’s office.

The sheriff says it appears the man died as the result of a fall.

The death is under investigation.

Update: Urban Renewal votes yes to buying Elks building for neon sign museum

The Dalles Elks building 1024

Members of the Columbia Gateway Urban Renewal Agency voted unanimously Monday night to buy the Elks Building and turn it over to a group raising funds for a neon sign museum. Thai vote came after some sharp questioning by some members of the agency, concerned with previous projects that have bogged down.

BACKGROUND: The Elks Building in downtown The Dalles has been vacant for many years and has not been heated or cooled for all that time. It has suffered major water damage. In addition, the roof has a significant leak. There is at least one broken window through which birds have access, and last summer a large portion of the cornice came loose and had to be repaired. The building is regarded as having great historical character, but the state of building is in constant decline. In 2010, the Urban Renewal Agency staff did a rough estimate for bringing the building back to a usable condition which was well over one million dollars. In December 2014, Gary Rains did an additional initial assessment of this building and the cost was also in excess of one million dollars. The Elks Building is currently on the market for $450,000. After discussing the possible options with the realtor, it is our belief that the Urban Renewal Agency can purchase this building for $245,000 with a requirement that the roof be recovered at a cost of approximately $60,000 (Brown Roofing).

The Dalles is in the rare position of having a partner willing to take on the restoration of this building as a Sign Museum and centerpiece for Downtown. This is significant, because David Benko was the original curator for the American Sign Museum. He has a track record of restoring historic sign age, plus Rocket City Neon has a collection of over 200 iconic signs including “Buster Brown Shoes” and “Jantzen Swimwear”.

“Signs are a fascinating reflection of America.” Todd Swormstedt, founder, American Sign Museum. In 2013, the American Sign Museum in Cincinnati, Ohio had 11 ,000 visitors and an operating budget of$561 ,000 from a combination of visitors, grants and event rentals. We believe Rocket City will exceed these attendance numbers.

Rock City Signs previously made presentations to the Urban Renewal Advisory Committee and the Urban Renewal Agency regarding market survey funds for the project which they are no longer requesting.

Gary Rains, the City’s Business Development Director, has also discussed the purchase of the Elks Building with the Advisory Committee and the Agency.

Attached is a summary of questions that came up during those meetings, along with answers from Mr. Rains. At the meeting we will have Gary Rains, our Business Development Director, Matthew Klebes, the Main Street Program Director, David Benko of Rock City Neon, and Rob Bearden, the current director of operations of the Portland Art Museum who will be the primary fundraisers for this project.

At this time we are asking the Urban Renewal Advisory Committee to recommend to the Urban Renewal Agency Board that they authorize staff to continue to proceed with the purchase of the Elks Building and the necessary papers for the building to be sold to David Benko for the development of a Sign Museum with a right to recover the building if the museum is not open within two years. Final documents would need to go to the Agency Board for approval.

BUDGET IMPLICATIONS: The Urban Renewal Agency has sufficient cash to pay the $245,000 purchase price.

RECOMMENDED MOTION: Move to recommend that the Urban Renewal Agency proceed with the purchase of the Elks building from Steven Johnston for a maximum of $245,000, and the transfer of title to David Benko for the development of a Sign Museum.

Questions from the Urban Renewal Advisory Committee:

1) Will the Sign Museum be taxable – Yes. Rocket City Sign Museum will be taxable. David Benko will found a non-profit for the purpose of raising money.

2) Why don’t we just keep it (the Elks Bldg) ourselves? – The building is only one portion of the problem. The much bigger issues are future upkeep and finding an appropriate and sustainable use for the building.

3) It’s not our problem, why do we want to make it our problem? – Because it is our problem. If the owner can’t repair the building, it will continue to deteriorate. Eventually you’re going to be faced with fixing the building or tearing it down … either way, this is a million dollar problem. It would be far better to support doing something now, while the building is still re-habitable.

4) Parking will become a big issue? – Any development in downtown will certainly impact parking. On two recent days, we counted 110 empty parking spaces within one block. Actually that will be a nice problem to have, because it means the museum is wildly successful.

5) Will they be coming back to URA for more money? – No, except for the facade program.

6) What happens if the museum fails? First, it won’t. But the sale agreement will contain language that if it fails to become operational or is abandoned within two years, the City will take it back. Which means any appreciation in value will benefit the City.

7) Can we negotiate to hold the funds for the roof and fold them into the reconstruction instead of paying them to the building owner? [URA Board] As we finalize the purchase this could be a possible consideration.

8) What is the risk of the project? [URA Board] If we do nothing, we’ll lose the opportunity. If we fund the project, and it’s successful, everyone wins. If the project fails, we get back a building with a new roof and appreciated value.

9) Did we do look for other users ‘of the building or do an RFP? [URA Board] Numerous parties have looked at the building. The cost of the building isn’t the problem. Without a vision for something grand, that will attract major outside dollars, it is hard to envision any successful use of this building.

10) Will the fundraising committee be local? No. The emphasis will be on national money and national sign collections. – Rob Bearden will explain.

11) Has the owner agreed to the purchase? Yes. The realtor, Connie Thomasian assures us the owner is willing.

12) What assurance do we have people will come to see the museum? – Matthew Klebes

13) We all want this iconic landmark to be brought back, what is the best way to do this? Fully support the Sign Museum project.


McCabe bills clear committee hurdles in the House

Rep. McCabe, testifying on House Bill 2042 in the House Public Safety Committee, Feb. 18, 2015. The bill strengthens the law against voyeurism.

Rep. McCabe, testifying on House Bill 2042 in the House Public Safety Committee, Feb. 18, 2015. The bill strengthens the law against voyeurism.

Two bills prime-sponsored by Rep. Gina McCabe that  would increase veteran employment and a measure that would strengthen laws related to voyeurism passed their respective policy committees this week.

House Bill 2040 directs the Department of Veterans’ Affairs (DVA), Employment Security, and Department of Commerce to consult with local chambers of commerce, associate development organizations and businesses to initiate a campaign resulting in an increase in veteran employment in Washington. The DVA would maintain a database of those participating and share percentages of cities, counties and districts that employ at least one veteran.

“I had the veterans in my office, and they told me the only thing they really want when they have returned from serving their country is a job. They want to work,” said McCabe, R-Goldendale. “This is the least we can do for those who have served our country. We know they have a great work ethic and many of them have diverse and valuable skills that could be used in a number of jobs.

“There is no mandate on business, and agencies are to use existing resources. It is a ‘One Business, One Vet,’ type of campaign.”

House Bill 2040 was voted out of the House Community Development, Housing and Tribal Affairs Committee unanimously this week. It could be voted on by the full House of Representatives in the next few weeks.

McCabe’s measure to crack down on voyeurism crime, House Bill 2042, was passed by the House Public Safety Committee on Friday.

She introduced the legislation after she heard about the voyeuristic practice of “up-skirting” – where someone takes a cell phone camera or uses a video feature to record under the skirts of unknown victims.

“I am a varsity coach and a performing arts studio owner. I became aware the girls were apprehensive about wearing dresses on game days or studio events because of up-skirting,” said McCabe. “After talking with law enforcement, not only was I informed about what a problem this had become, but I learned how difficult it was to prosecute a person for the crime of voyeurism.”

Under current law, it has to be proven a person was in engaged in voyeurism for the purpose of arousing or gratifying the sexual desire of any person. House Bill 2042 would eliminate that provision of law and create a crime of voyeurism in the second degree.

“Voyeurism has changed over the last decade. People now use these photos to post them on social media, make money, anger someone, seek revenge, or just make fun of hapless victims,” said McCabe. “I am hopeful this legislation will be able to address these issues.”

McCabe also pointed out that voyeurism crimes could also lead to more serious sexual offenses in the future and this legislation may prevent that from happening.

House Bill 2042 could be considered for a vote by the full House of Representatives in the next few weeks.



Poetry contest engages youth statewide

Sydney Bettencourt, Condon High School champion, is ready to compete in the statewide contest

Sydney Bettencourt, Condon High School champion, is ready to compete in the statewide contest

Breaking previous participation records, almost 4,000 students from 38 high schools in 18 Oregon communities are taking part in the 10th anniversary season of Poetry Out Loud.

Organized by the Oregon Arts Commission in collaboration with the NEA and the Poetry Foundation, Poetry Out Loud is a national recitation contest for which students memorize and present poems – practicing public speaking skills while exploring the complexity of poetry.

After months of classroom study and preparation, students participate in school-wide recitation contests, with each winner eligible to compete in one of three regional contests on March 7. The top three finishers in each region advance to the state contest in Salem on March 14 (contest details appear below).

“Poetry Out Loud is a wonderful way for students to gain an appreciation of great poetry,” said Deb Vaughn, arts education coordinator for the Oregon Arts Commission. “To ‘own’ a poem through practiced recitation is an experience students will carry with them for years to come.”

Judges for the 2015 competition include: Eleanor Berry, poet; Wayne Carr, actor at Oregon Shakespeare Festival; Marty Hughley, performing arts journalist; Mike Chaser, associate professor of English at Willamette University; Paul Hadella, English faculty at Southern Oregon University; Stephanie Lenox, poet; Ann McBride, actor and radio personality; Laurence Overmire, poet; and Claudia Alick, associate producer at Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

The 2013 and 2014 Oregon state champion, Rosie Reyes, will welcome students to the 2015 Oregon State Poetry Out Loud Contest after joining them for lunch.

In addition to winning a $200 scholarship and $500 for the winner’s school library poetry collection, the state champion receives an all-expenses-paid trip, with a chaperone,
to Washington, D.C., to compete in the national finals April 27-29.

Nationwide, more than 365,000 students are expected to participate. Students compete for more than $50,000 in college scholarships awarded at the state and national levels.

Details on the regional and state contests–
Oregon regional contests:
Mid-Valley & Central Regional, Salem
10 a.m.-1 p.m., March 7, The Book Bin East, 2235 Lancaster Dr. NE

Southern Regional, Medford
1-4 p.m., March 7, Medford Public Library, 205 South Central Ave.

Northern & Eastern Regional, Beaverton
4-8 p.m., March 7, Powell’s Books at Cedar Hills Crossing, 3415 SW Cedar Hills Blvd.

Oregon State Poetry Out Loud Contest:
1-4 p.m., March 14, Willamette University Library, Hatfield Room, 900 State Street, Salem