Listen: Eastern Oregon legislators town hall

The three legislators whose districts cover Eastern Oregon — Reps. Daniel Bonham and Mark Owens and Senator Lynn Findley — held their eighth biweekly virtual town hall meeting Thursday August 20.

Sen. Findley opened the meeting by observing that he saw a crowd of 30 people — all wearing masks and social distancing — waiting for the bank to open so they could get an emergency check for $500, since the employment division had not been able to process their unemployment application for months.

“The Oregon Department of Employment is a catastrophic failure,” he said, “because they have not met their obligation to do what we pay them to do every day. They’ve hired 700-some people in the last five months and they’re still not paying the bills. I receive letters every day in my email that talks about how people are in such dire staits. They’ve been trying to get unemployment for 21 weeks, made thouands of phone calls and not had them returned. As you can probably tell, I’m a little upset about this because it just really is frustrating that a basic service we should do as a state, we’re not doing.”

Findley said he has asked the Senate President to make a full investigation of the situatiion. On a cheerier note, Rep. Bonham, whose District 59 covers Wasco County, made this announcement:

“I’ve got some great news to share,” he said, “which is that Wasco County has made tremendous strides curving the trend of infection downward and we’ve been removed from the governor’s watch list. Marion County was removed as well. But hats off to Wasco County, our health department and our county commissioners for doing a wonderful job.”

Rep. Bonham used part of his time to shower praise on local firefighters on the Mosier Creek Fire:

“The winds that were blowing that day and the weather that was there that day — those firefighters deserve medals in my book. I’m going to figure out a way to get a House District 59 medallion made and I want to get people some awards, cause they saved a lot of property and they kept a lot more people from being displaced.”

And Sen. Findley described a recent trip he’d made to the Ashwood school, which he described at 10 miles north and 30 miles east of Madras.

“It’s an incredible one-room, two-room schoolhouse,” he said. “The twelve students that attended it were all there. The school wasn’t open but they all came out. We had a grear time there. They were all wearing masks. I mean, for those folks, for the opportunity to go to school was not much of a sacrifice. It’s the right thing to do, so..It wasw a geat visit and that’s one of the sacrifices we all have to make. A mask is a lot more comfortable than a ventilator.”

All three legislators praised cooperative efforts between the department of education, the governor’s office, and a task force including representatives of local school districts and county commissioners, for working out safe ways in small county school districts to get kids in class safely.

To hear the town hall, click on the grey podcast button below: