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Oregon Needs a GOP Victory

November 5th, 2014 by Neil Killion

The 2014 elections were a resounding victory for the GOP. The Republicans picked up seven seats and the majority in the Senate, 13 seats and the largest majority in the House in over 80 years, and three governorships. I congratulate the Republicans on their victory, and look forward to the future.

Unfortunately Oregon was not as lucky. The Democrats gained a seat in the house and everyone else managed to keep their jobs. This leaves me scratching my head and wondering what the f***? Oregon has been on a downward slope for a while, yet the people responsible for that are re-elected over and over again. Oregon has high than the national average unemployment rates for 18 years, and Oregon has the second lowest high school graduation rate in the country at 69% with little hope in sight. Oregon keeps electing the same people over and over and not surprisingly is getting the same results.

The insanity needs to stop, and the answer can be found on our campus and other campuses in Oregon. It is time for the GOP to take stock of the future leaders in groups like the College Republicans and using those resources. We need to recruit these students and support them. Make sure they have the tools needed and the support of the party so that they can succeed.

In West Virginia, the youngest state lawmaker was elected yesterday. Saira Blair an 18 year old college freshman beat her Democrat opponent 63 to 30. Saira is proof that it can be done. It takes hard work, but it is possible.

Conservatives need to push against the idiocy of our current system and start putting in the effort now to be able to get members elected. Make sure young conservatives are getting the training needed to succeed.

Groups like the College Democrats and OSPIRG are well funded and make sure their people are trained in activism and getting their message out. We can do the same. We can make sure other conservatives and liberty minded students know they are not alone. We need to support each other. We need to come together to build each other up and be ready to fight the battles that will come in the future.

I recommend all conservatives start using sites like and other conservative groups that can provide the tools and training to defeat the Democrats.

Congratulations on the victory, but let’s start now and get ready for 2016. We have the time to get campaigns in place. Who can stand up for our values and offer a new path for Oregon? Remember conservative principles of limited government, personal freedom, and fiscal responsibility work.


Governers oppose 82, competition, equal-opportunity

October 8th, 2012 by Nick Ekblad

In reading this Register-Guard article and this one by The Associated Press, I find the arguments against Measures 82 and 83 to be silly.

Tim Raphael, Governor Kitzhaber’s spokesman, told The Oregonian that authorizing a non-tribal casino would break the agreement made with Native American tribes. Casinos are illegal in Oregon, however tribes are allowed to operate casino on Native American land under federal law. The agreement: just one casino per tribe, and no competition.

“They kept their end of the bargain,” Raphael explained to The Oregonian. “It’s wrong to break our agreement.”

Former Governors Vic Atiyeh, Barbara Roberts and Ted Kulongoski have also publicly opposed the measures.


A casino may not be the best thing to happen to the Portland area, but the last time I checked,

  • competition is good for capitalism
  • all demographics of people are entitled to a business
  • people should be free to throw their money away

Sharing things; not just for hippies anymore.

August 28th, 2012 by Nick Ekblad

Reparations are in sight.

Here is a new development on campus by which I was pleasantly surprised. There now exist two bicycle repair posts complete with basic tools to tune up and adjust your bike. The new Swiss-army-style repair posts can be found at two locations on campus– one in front of the library, the other on the corner of 13th and Kincaid. I commend the idea of making a cycle commute easier, safer and more economical yet. How good it is to see little things like this being done that benefit community as a whole.

Prevalence of On-Campus Sexual Assault Highlights University Failures

July 5th, 2012 by C.W. Keating

As anyone with a working University email address already knows, the Department of Public Safety (DPS) recently sent out an email detailing two separates rapes that occurred near Autzen Stadium and Chase Village. The tentatively-worded email states that

“Police have learned from second and third hand sources that there may have been three separate rapes within a five-day period near Chase Village and Autzen Stadium, beginning Thursday, June 28. No female victims have come forward or wish to file a report, so the information is unverified…

In one incident on June 29, a woman was walking alone around 10 p.m. on the bike path near Autzen Stadium when she was raped by a man with a knife. The suspect is described as a black male, 6′ tall, 200 pounds, with muscular build, and shaved head.

A second-hand report EPD has received is that two additional female victims have been raped on unknown dates, but within the same week, also in the same general area. One of these two incidents involved a similar suspect: black male, 6′ tall, 200 pounds, with muscular build, and shaved head.”

Besides being a horrifying and disturbing event, the incidents described in the email also point out the relative ineffectiveness of DPS and the overbearing presence of a “rape culture” around the UO. These are big claims to make, but stick with me here.

Based on the amount of “Campus Crime Alerts” I receive in my inbox on a weekly basis, it’s fairly clear that DPS is unable to “provid[e] a safe, secure, and welcoming environment.” While the emergency call boxes that litter campus are a great idea, it’s DPS’ inability to do anything other than dole out prevention tips and “Campus Crime Alerts” that really calls their authority into question. Not to mention the subtle fostering of a rape culture, where women are seen as “victims” rather than “survivors” and are perceived as “asking for it” because of their clothing or body language.

Just look at the passive voice in the first description: “A woman was walking alone around 10 p.m. on the bike path near Autzen Stadium when she was raped by a man with a knife.” Not “a man raped her” or “a man assaulted her”: she was raped. While this may seem like a minor syntactical kvetch, this kind of passive voice fails to accurately highlight the criminal nature of the act. You wouldn’t say “A store was robbed by an escaped convict.” You would say “An escaped convict robbed a store.” Instead, the attacker is placed in the background, and thus escapes scrutiny.

But it’s not all bad. The groups listed at the bottom of the email — Womenspace, SASS, the White Bird Clinic, the Counseling Center, SafeRide, and SWAT — are all excellent resources for survivors. Yet this doesn’t seem to be enough to change the prevalence of the University’s rape culture. There are many places that foster this kind of misogyny, undercutting the excellent work done by the aforementioned groups. Greek Life is an especially obvious target for such criticism, but you can find signs of rape culture anywhere. From the shouted “bitches” and “whores” within Taylor’s to the intense consumption of pornography, this mindset is everywhere around Eugene.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love porn. But all these factors have combined together to create a strangely patriarchal cocktail, one that views women as objects to be seized or sold. Women don’t deserve to be treated that way. And before the snarky comments come pouring in, remember that this isn’t about some bullshit in Washington D.C. or a genocide in some faraway country. This happens to people you know and love every day: your friends, coworkers, acquaintances, and even your family.

Rape is wrong no matter what your political beliefs. The failures of the University and DPS only stand as a testament to the kind of incompetence our school is slowly (and sadly) becoming known for.

A Big Commentator Congratulations to Bill Harbaugh !

May 22nd, 2012 by Rebecca

UO economics professor William T. Harbaugh, the immortal being behind the beloved, anonymous, whistleblower blog UO MATTERS, was awarded the First Freedom Award  by the Society of Professional Journalists of Oregon and Southwest Washington this past Saturday.

The Ol’ Dirty covered this on Monday, but its Commentator policy to be a day late, a dollar short, okay?

The SPJ’s First Freedom award is given annually to an individual who has upheld the principles of the First Amendment. Harbaugh has long been a beacon of the First Amendment, most notably when he illegally published the Oregon Public Records Manual on his official uoregon website. The upheaval this precipitated compelled the attorney general’s office to make the manual available on the internet for the first time ever.

Harbaugh’s recognition is long overdue and largely understated. Y’all should know that the UO Matters blog is updated several times a day, and his posts are usually these quick, fuck-you-exposés about UO athletics and administration that require a kind of efficiency  and genuine concern that we will never (maybe a few years ago we came close) have. Knowing he’s out teaching economics and doing this in his spare time both worries and impresses us. UO Matters is invaluable to the entire, “engaged” university community, but is especially invaluable to drunk, disoriented student journalists like ourselves. We’re the ones constantly referring to UO Matters for direction and content, so finding the Commentator website listed under UO Matters’ “Resources” is an honor and probably some sort of mistake.

Bill, you are the resource. As renowned sultans of hate speech, there aren’t too many people we love to love. And let’s just say that you might be one of those people.

So here’s to you, Harbaugh. And for the record, UO Matters will forever be bookmarked on my Firefox browser.


Interview with Salem Flagpole Climber

May 11th, 2012 by Nick Ekblad

Perry Graham

Last Tuesday, or perhaps it was Wednesday, I was riding my bicycle home down Alder St. While passing The Lorax, I noticed a man strapped to a light post, climbing up. He was perhaps 25 feet high. He seemed intent on his task, sliding the straps and pulling himself up.

I rode past, not thinking much about it. Then, Thursday afternoon, I saw a press release with his picture in front of the capitol building. He is part way up a flagpole with a banner hanging under him that reads, “Schools or trees? We want both.” According to, Perry Graham, who climbed the flagpole in Salem, is a member of the Cascadia Forest Defenders. On their website, the group expresses their desire for Gov. John Kitzhaber and the Oregon Land Board to “decouple public school funding from state forest management.”

The land board approved a plan for the Elliott State Forest last October which notably increases logging and clear-cutting with the revenue contributing to the Common School Fund.

By chance, I met Perry at a friend’s house about two hours ago. He, our mutual friend, and other friends were hanging out, discussing our midterm woes and other things when he brought up a photograph one of his fellow protesters took using his phone.

Myself: “That was you? I saw you practicing the other day!”

Graham: “On Alder?”

Myself: “Yeah! How high were you in the picture?”

Graham: “Probably about 60-70 feet.”

Myself: “How was that?”

Graham: “It was really surreal. I strapped myself to the pole and I was like, ‘Oh fuck, I’m on the pole. Oh fuck, I’m climbing up. Oh fuck, there’s a cop right there.’ ”

Myself: “What were their reactions?”

Graham: “I didn’t talk to them. I had a liaison communicating information.”

Myself: “Oh, I see. Was that because you were so high up that they couldn’t, like hear you without yelling? Or because you didn’t want to talk to the cops?”

Graham: “I mean, kind of both”

Myself: “Right. So, how long did you train for this?”

Graham: “I practiced for about 5 weeks before and pretty intensely the last week.”’s post:

Perry Thompson Graham, 23, climbed about 80-feet up the pole at 7:45 a.m. He stayed aloft for about 90 minutes before he came down voluntarily.[…] After his arrest, Graham was taken to the Marion County Jail. He will be charged with disorderly conduct, criminal trespass and criminal mischief, according to a police press release.ell, Wednesday morning, climbs flag pole in front of the capital building in Salem.

The flag was still hanging when Graham descended the flag pole. Apparently, rented equipment was needed to remove Graham’s protest banner from the flagpole.

Occupy Eugene to be evicted by January 11, God willing…

December 16th, 2011 by Kellie B.

…But not before wasting $300,000 of the city’s money. The Occupy Eugene camp underneath the Washington-Jefferson bridge has now become essentially a transient village, abandoning all the lofty demands of the several months ago to focus on the single issue of homelessness.

Last Wednesday the city council voted 5-3 to extend Occupy’s camping exemption to January 11 and spend up to $300,000 to pay for Occupy-related police expenses and fund several homeless initiatives, such as $100,000 earmarked for “wet-bed” facilities and warming centers similar to the Egan Warming Center. They were locked 4-4 until ol’ polecat Mayor Kitty Piercy cast the deciding vote. Councilors Farr, Clark, and Poling opposed the extension and funding on the grounds that “most of the funding would come from funds meant for parks maintenance, pothole repairs, and gang prevention efforts.” Also, the fact the city council continues to cater to the whims of a single group of questionable “activists” is embarrassing for everyone. (If it’s this easy to get exemptions and cash for whatever policies one desires, what is the OC waiting for? Occupy Rennie’s until all beer is free forever!)

Councilor Poling expressed his (and our) frustration at the voting outcome, telling the Register-Guard, “It’s time that we actually stepped up and did what we have to do to reclaim that park, reclaim the city and reclaim what we, as a council, should be doing, and not be guided by somebody else.”

The council did hold firm on the city mandate that outlaws fires in public parks, which the Occupiers requested in order to warm themselves during these bitter Eugene nights. Occupy organizer John Monroe accused the councilors of being “uncaring,” but a rational human could also accuse them of having “reasonable forethought” and being “park-fire-averse.”

The Occupiers themselves seem split on the ruling. KEZI reported that Occupy Eugene feels the city is “wasting money” on them, saying that the problem is the city council’s view that the camp is comprised mostly of homeless who need funding for a smooth transition out of the park and back to rustling around in your dumpster at 5 AM.

“This is not a homeless camp,” Occupier Alley Valkyrie told KEZI, “until they get themselves out of the mentality that this is a homeless camp, we’re just stuck in this lost-in-translation place,” backing this up with, “I am not homeless. I am at this camp.”

This stands in contrast to, well, all evidence, and the words of their own spokespeople. In a press conference this past Monday the speakers from Occupy emphasized that “the camp is home to hundreds of homeless people who are finding ways to sober up, catch up on sleep and contribute to the intentional community.” Sounds like UO students the morning after a post-finals celebratory binge.

The “official” Occupy Eugene website called the city council’s ruling a “milestone” to be celebrated, but were “disheartened” by the council’s decision to use some of the $300,000 to pay the police for their services. Right. It’s not like there have been 296 police calls to the park this year (as of December 11th) compared to 139 in 2010. That guy who almost got his fucking leg chopped off with an axe? Well, “everything that happens here, happens everywhere in society,” according to Occupy Eugene spokesperson Mike Elliot.

Yeah, we at the OC have totally been there, man.

As Jim West advised Dr. Arliss Loveless in the cinema classic Wild Wild West, “it’s time for you to stop all this foolishness.”

Occupy Eugene: you’ve made some waves, had some marches, and nearly chopped some legs. You have $100,000 for some nice, wet beds and new warming centers. Homelessness is not a problem that is ever going to be “solved,” at least not until our mental health and addiction treatment system is “fixed” (but no one gives a fuck about that, right?) Quit while you’re ahead.

And City Council, yeah, you: it’s a nice gesture to throw money at the problem, but the police costs are really just going straight down the toilet. Woman up, Piercy, and let the police clear out what used to be OUR CITY’S park. Once the police start making arrests and writing tickets the Occupiers will scatter faster than freshmen at a busted party.

As the Register-Guard observed:

A 22-year-old man who called himself “Skeeter” said he would leave the camp rather than risk a citation.

“How can I pay for a ticket? I don’t have any money,” he said, adding that he’d likely just leave Eugene.

Making the connections, yet?

Artist rendition of Occupier "Skeeter"


Only time will tell if, come January 11, the council holds firm in their decision to evict the camp. Until then, its up to Santa to take care of business:



Oregon Ranked Among the Largest in Penis Size

August 22nd, 2011 by C.W. Keating

In a recent study released by Condomania, Oregon was rated as the second largest state when it comes to penis size. Though this comes as no surprise to anyone who has a passing familiarity with the hulking lumberjacks who comprise our state (or the marble-cut hunks of the Oregon Commentator office), the news comes as a sick shock to neighboring states such as Colorado, Utah and Wyoming, which all ranked in the bottom ten.

According to the survey, the tumescent curve falls between 3” and 10”, falling into a normal Bell curve between 5” and 6”. This data is supported by a 1996 UCSF study, a 1996 German report and a Brazilian study that places average penis size between 5.1 and 5.7 inches. No significant discrepancies were found between African-American males and Caucasian males, although the rankings seem to refute this (New Orleans, Washington D.C. and San Diego are all in the top ten.)

I’m personally bursting with pride. Way to penetrate the top ranks, Oregon. I know the ride was hard, but we shot to the top of the heap. So keep on struttin’ that Cascade cock lumberjacks and don’t let anyone tell you different.

Unless you have micropenis.

AB-InBev Serves $38.8 Million, Goose Island Binges On Profit

April 21st, 2011 by Kayla Heffner

For those of you in the beer world who keep tabs on the  Brewers Association or the craft beer scene, you may have heard: Goose Island, a craft beer brewery, has just been bought by Anheuser-Busch (newly acquired by InBev).  What this means is that Goose Island beer could turn into the same watered down piss that AB already brews and bottles.  Typically the bigger company will sacrifice good ingredients like real hops, malt and barely to replace it with cost effective extracts and artificial flavors.  Speaking of beer tasting like piss, the Brewmaster  Greg Hall himself brewed his own concoction of beer the other night. Huffington Post reports:

It’s been a real up-and-down couple of weeks for Greg Hall.

The brewmaster at Goose Island announced in late March that he’d be leaving that role, as the Chicago-based craft brewer was bought up by Anheuser-Busch for a hefty $39 million. He’ll be leaving for an undisclosed new project, according to statements at the time.

And last Friday night, Hall celebrated his 45th birthday at Bangers and Lace, a self-described craft beer and sausage bar that Time Out Chicago recently named its Best New Bar.

Unfortunately, according to the Chicago Tribune, the celebration got a bit out of hand. In a conversation with the Tribune on Monday, Hall didn’t deny accusations made by the Bangers staff that he urinated in two beer glasses and left them at the bar.

Looks like someone partied a little too hard.  The intoxicated Brewmaster made his father’s brewery (of 23 years) become known for more than just beer the other night while celebrating his 45th Birthday at Wicker Parks Bangers & Lace.  Folks, this is quite the drunken tale.

Hall unveiled a brew all his own: pissing in two pint glasses. After throwing a few back Hall proceeded to go behind the counter of the bar and proceeded to urinate in two glasses, leaving them on the bar.  At this point Hall probably should have discreetly left, but he had to be escorted from the premises by staff to his car (hopefully he wasn’t driving).

Yes we can all laugh at the silly over-the-top drunken escapades of a man threw one too many back, but there is a bitter note to this story.  What beer lover might not realize is that Hall’s company has just sold out to a corporate giant which has a monopoly on almost half of the beer industry.  As Huffington Post points out though, craft breweries like Goose Island are doing well, but I guess if I was offered that much money I would probably allow myself to be bought too.

John Hall, the head of Goose Island, said that the company was quickly outgrowing its capacities, having to limit production of some of its most popular beers, and that the deal with Anheuser-Busch would help the company continue to expand. “This agreement helps us achieve our goals with an ideal partner who helped fuel our growth, appreciates our products and supports their success,” Hall said, in a statement on the buyout.

Looking at the real numbers, small breweries are popping up all across the country, the BA lists 85 breweries just in Oregon. Understandably Goose Island was growing but as the rest of the HP article points out, small breweries are gaining attention while bigger companies are losing it.

As the Wall Street Journal points out, craft brewing has been an exceptionally solid performer in an otherwise unexceptional beer market in recent years. Craft beer sales were up 11 percent last year, while the broader industry was down one percent.

I do not disagree with smaller breweries expanding, but typically with these sorts of expansions in the beer industry, it leads to a more generic product using lower quality ingredients just to cut costs.  It also moves the flow of money from within a state economy into the wider commercial economy, which results in states losing money to outside sources.  Whether it is sourcing ingredients for the product from farther away or giving jobs to workers who are out-of-state, it hurts the local economy.

When a consumer buys beer from a small or local brewery they are more likely to receive a fresher, higher quality product because the ingredients used in the beer were sourced locally (fresh is good). Sourcing ingredients locally means that brewers are supporting local farmers, creating a co-op effect within the community.  Radical thoughts: local people stimulating local economy by buying products that are made locally.  I am sorry for the locavore commotion train, but the dollar signs make sense.

Oregon news round-up

March 19th, 2011 by Ben Maras

Too lazy / perpetually hung over to keep up with what’s going on in our wonderful state over spring break? Let the OC do it for you. Here’s the first installment of news briefs from around the state (that we haven’t covered already).

UO News

– GQ magazine named fans of the Oregon ducks basketball team as being some of the worst in the nation, citing “numerous violations of the ‘Code of ConDUCKt.'” The Ducks came in at number 14, ranked as just slightly more annoying than fans of the LA Lakers.

“With a firm dedication to taking taunts too far, the Oregon Duck faithful have a storied history of degeneracy that can be traced all the way back to the days when someone beaned legendary coach John Wooden with a half-eaten apple.”

Storied history of degeneracy, or promoting healthy dietary choices for our most esteemed visiting members? You decide.

– A group of UO students alerted local media and stormed the beaches of the Jaqua Center yesterday, asserting their right as UO students to use lavish but otherwise unexciting services reserved for student athletes. The end.

– The Oregon Ducks football team has been chosen as grand marshal of the 2011 Spirit Mountain Casino Grand Floral Parade. Organizers cited “has brought unprecedented pride, spirit, and enthusiasm to the state of Oregon and the Northwest.”

Keep Portland Weird?

March 9th, 2011 by Lyzi Diamond

Jonathon M. Seidl at The Blaze writes about a man who broke into a home in Portland and called the police for fear of the homeowner having a gun:

Lt. Kelli Sheffer says the intruder told police he had just broken into a home Monday evening when the owner arrived – and the caller was worried the homeowner might have a gun.

Accompanied by his two German Shepherds, the homeowner found the intruder and asked what he was doing in the house. That’s when the stranger locked himself in a bathroom and phoned police.

The homeowner called police with his account.

Sheffer says 24-year-old Timothy James Chapek, of Portland, was booked into jail for investigation of first-degree criminal trespass.

The phone call (it’s really funny):

Oregon Senate Passes Bill Attempting To Reinstate Home-Brew Competitions

February 24th, 2011 by Lyzi Diamond

As some of you may remember, Oregon home-brewers came under fire last summer following a DOJ decision regarding ORS 471.403(1). The law states:

No person shall brew, ferment, distill, blend or rectify any alcoholic liquor unless licensed so to do by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. However, the Liquor Control Act does not apply to the making or keeping of naturally fermented wines and fruit juices or beer in the home, for home consumption and not for sale.

The DOJ interpreted this to mean that once a home-brewer’s product is consumed outside the immediate home, the brewer loses his or her exemptions under the law and must be licensed by the OLCC. The effect of this and the reason for the initial inquiry were questions regarding the legality of home-brew competitions, such as those at the Oregon State Fair. As a result, the 23rd annual Amateur Beer Competition was canceled and Oregon legislators began searching for a way to continue the time-honored tradition of Oregon craft brew judging and consumption.

Enter Floyd Prozanski, the Democrat from Eugene and an avid home-brewer, who, back in August of 2010, stated he was set to propose a change in legislation during the next legislative session to allow for these competitions to occur legally. Introduced by Prozanski on January 10, 2011, and passed by the Oregon Senate on February 22, 2011, Senate Bill 444 seeks to “expand exemption of homemade beer, wine and fermented fruit juice from Liquor Control act,” as well as, “allow licensee to conduct organized judging, tasting, exhibition, contest or competition of unlicensed malt beverages and wine or homemade beer, wine or fermented fruit juice, or related events, at licensed premises subject to Oregon Liquor Control Commission restrictions.”

Prozanski was concerned when he learned of the existing law, prompting his jump into action:

“I was shocked,” Prozanski said about last year’s legal ruling. “My brew partner was extremely concerned because we brew at my house. Under current law, he would be subject to prosecution for transporting his portion home.”

But the bill passed the Senate without debate, and assuming it goes through the House, it should be in place in time for summer and fall home-brew competitions. It seems, for the moment, Prozanski and the approximated 20,000 home-manufacturers in the state are in the clear regarding transporting their goods.

As an aside, here’s some interesting info regarding the law and how it compares to other states:

Gary Glass, director of the American Homebrewers Association, said Oregon has one of the oldest laws in the nation, dating to the Prohibition era.

Even though it’s been a tough time for Oregon home brewers, he suggests it could be worse. Two states, Alabama and Mississippi, have laws that prohibit home brewing altogether.

Democrat Devlin named as co-chair of tax committee

November 17th, 2010 by Ben Maras

To be filed under “completely enthralling political news du jour:”

Oregon Senate President Peter Courtney of Salem, has appointed fellow Democrat and Tualatin representative Richard Devlin as co-chair of the Joint Ways and Means Committee.

Before you get too excited, the Joint Ways and Means Committee has nothing to do with joints, although it is pretty important. Essentially, it deals with state-imposed taxes and the budget. That means he’ll be instrumental in figuring out what to do about Oregon’s $3.2 billion budget shortfall.

District 19, which he represents, includes Durham, Lake Oswego, Tualatin, Rivergrove, West Linn, and parts of southwest Portland and Tigard. Devlin was born in Eugene, and holds a Bachelor of Science in Administration of Justice from Portland State University, and a Master of Arts from Pepperdine University in Management. Before his first political run for Tualatin City Council in 1985, he was a private investigator.

Devlin isn’t a surprise pick by any means. He stepped down as Democratic majority leader last week, and now he’s returning to the committee, which he served on during the 2003, 2005 and 2007 legislative sessions. (Those are consecutive sessions, lest we forget that Oregon, until now, had a legislature that only met every other year.)

His appointment to the tax committee is likely to raise some eyebrows from some conservatives, though. Taxpayer Association of Oregon, the anti-tax PAC started by Don McIntire (homeboy of nutjob Bill Sizemore) made the claim that Devlin raised taxes by $1 billion in one day. The statement is true-ish, and center around his votes on the controversial Measures 66 and 67, but it leaves out a lot of details, which are outlined pretty well here by PolitiFact.

His top contributors have been mostly from the health and labor industries, with names like the Oregon Health Care Association and the Oregon Public Employees Local 503 topping the list. He has also received support from the lobbyist group the Oregon Trial Lawyers association. Wal-Mart did too, although they contributed considerably less. There’s more info on his campaign contributions here.

There’s no word yet as to who his co-chair will be, but considering the even split in the state legislature, here’s to hoping we see some bipartisanship. They’ve got a lot on their plates, and there’s no time for bickering.

Redistricting matters, and you should care about it

November 16th, 2010 by Ben Maras

Now that Oregon’s legislature is nearly split down the middle – 30–30 for Congress and 16-14 for Senate – they’re set to tackle one of the most influential and ignored issues in local politics and representative democracy: redistricting.

See? Even the name sounds exciting. Drawing lines in the sand might not be a hot-button issue like taxes, weed and mandatory minimum sentencing, but it matters. A lot. The average citizen might not care, but it’s so important to politicians that in some states local laws keep it entirely out of their hands, instead being delegated to outside groups who don’t have as much to gain from the outcome. Oregon’s tried to enact similar rules, but it’s fizzled out every time. Either way, it will have a dramatic effect on the political process for the next ten years.

For example, redrawing electoral district lines means an area’s Representative could change, and some incumbents will be trying to appeal to new faces in their bid for re-election. The choices that are made in redrawing the borders will shape who has an easy political battle and which party gains control of the statehouse. When it’s done for a deliberate political advantage, it’s called Gerrymandering, and it’s very illegal.

We only need to look back a couple weeks to the gubernatorial race between Governor John Kitzhaber and opponent Chris Dudley to see the importance of county lines. Dudley lost by a single percentage point, with most of it coming from the liberal Multnomah County. (Graphics courtesy of BlueOregon — LOL!)

Ever looked at a sea of red and wondered how it could be a 50/50 split?

Adjusted for population. Now imagine the effect that moving one of those borders in a densely populated area like Multnomah County. This is why it's the stuff of political wet dreams.

Redistricting typically happens after each census, with the new figures being used to redraw district lines to meet a set of criteria in Oregon law. All districts must:

– Be contiguous. (A district can’t be split in to two separate regions that aren’t connected, e.g. Palestine.)
– Be equal in population.
– Respect existing geographic or political boundaries (Sorry, Portland. Vancouver, WA can’t be counted in your district, even if it might as well be a suburb.)
– Must not divide communities of common interest.
– Be connected by transportation links.

The Oregon Congress hasn’t able to agree to district boundaries since 1981. In this case, the duty defaults to the Secretary of State. In 2001 during his first bout as governor, Kitzhaber vetoed the GOP-created boundaries, which meant it was Bill Bradbury’s job to do it. That’s the same Bill Bradbury who ran against Kitzhaber as a Democratic candidate, so some political commentators have said that the borders he drew are responsible for Democratic gains since then.

Congress is expecting the new census data sometime in March, and has until July 1 to turn in their revisions. If they don’t, the duty will fall on the current Secretary of State, Democrat Kate Brown.

Current Oregon legislative districts. Does this turn you on? If so, you might be a politician.

Secret Agent Man

March 9th, 2010 by D

Zachary Bucharest/The Vanguard

Now that the sun has started to shine, it inevitably means that Zach Vishanoff will break out his easel and get to work painting Eugene in bloom. As such, the state of Oregon will be requiring a new conspiracy theorist to take his place. Enter Professor John Hall of Portland State.

In an insane story, Hall has accused one of his students — a former Israeli Defense Forces member and contracted mercenary — of being an agent provocateur and an FBI informant.

It started when Zachary Bucharest brought a deconstructed and firing pin-less AR-15 to class for a presentation in November. After months of interaction with Bucharest, Professor Hall had decided he was dangerous to the PSU community. In January, Hall called Bucharest out during a class session, and presented a letter he’d written to the local FBI office.

In the letter, Hall makes several cliche, paranoid references like “As you would [already] know…” The story seemingly tangles itself considering Hall took a campus safety officer to class with him to “pat down” Bucharest — a violation of his privacy — to look for a gun (lets not forget OUS/PSU rules that violate the 2nd Amendment either).

As a result, Hall has been suspended with pay pending investigation into the matter. There are so many directions to go with this story, so much input it’s hard to know where to start. For starters, Bucharest brought an AR-15 to campus, violating PSU’s “rules” against firearms — a sticky situation in itself.

Then comes the attack by Hall, asking a campus officer to do an illegal search of Bucharest. Combine that with the fact that a tenured professor going off about a secret FBI informant in his midst is going to seem a little batshit crazy (even if he did somehow hit the secret hotspot).

For Christ’s sake, even if Bucharest is an FBI informant, what is Hall expecting with that letter? I’ll save you the long, rambling read but the professor ends his letter with a warning to the FBI that he will, “Inform my students’ parents of this likely threat.” Was Hall expecting the FBI to come out and say, “Wow. You really got us, John. We tried to slip it past you but you were too on the ball. Great job!”

This may be serious business a little farther north, but from where I’m sitting this is just plain funny.