Crews fighting wildfires in Colorado, Utah and Arizona are dispatched from around the nation, including the northwest. The U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management reports about 2000 Oregon and Washington firefighters are working fires right now. Maria Thimai with the BLM says there are specialty teams, like the Redmond “Hotshots.” Other firefighters are private contractors, some are BLM employees and some a veterans participating in a National Employment Program.
Oregon Second District Republican Congressman Greg Walden says he will work to sidestep the Supreme Court decision on “Obama-Care.” For one thing, he doesn't like how the Court characterized the mandatory health insurance requirement as a tax. Walden says the decision also takes healthcare decisions away from patients and doctors, and gives then to federal bureaucrats.
Governor John Kitzhaber celebrating the Supreme Court's decision on the Presidents Affordable Care Act.
The Court did agree that states should not be required to spend a specific amount on Medicaid. Kitzhaber says that decision doesn’t change things in Oregon, where funds are already allocated. The Governor says that doe give Oregon another window to absorb new clients as the government switches delivery systems.
The Governor says Oregon is ahead of the curve, having already created eight Coordinated Care Organizations.
Governor John Kitzhaber convenes the Oregon Tsunami Debris Taskforce Thursday. The group is comprised of military, disaster and environmental experts. General Mike Caldwell, Interim Director of Oregon Emergency Management will head up the Taskforce. He says a top priority is figuring how to pay for disposal of the debris as it lands at the coast. The Taskforce will coordinate with federal officials and similar groups in Washington and California.
The Portland Fire Bureau is worried about all the damage and injuries that may be done by illegal fireworks coming in from Washington State. The Bureau's Michael Silva says the Bureau will run "Operation Lower the Boom" this year. It uses police to patrol for illegal fireworks in certain areas of the city.
Environmentalists are worried about the downside impact on water quality if Nestlé’s is allowed to build a bottling plant in Cascade Locks. But Interim City Administrator Paul Koch had heard differently. He says the fish hatchery is actually benefitting from it. The plant would create about 50 jobs and improve the city's tax base. There is no time certain on a decision by the State Water Resources Department.
July is “Craft Brewers Month” in Oregon and the first big festival is this Friday through Sunday at Overlook Park in north Portland. Craig Nichols organizes the North American Organic Brewers Festival. He says in addition to serving beer in bio-degradable cups, the festival also encourages festival-goers to ride a bike or take mass transit. The Organic Brewers Festival is noon to 9 p-m Friday and Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. It's free to get in, but a tasting cup cost $6 and tastes are a $1 each.
The Oregon Department of Human Services is now working with teens rescued from sex traffickers in Oregon.
Program Manager Miriam Green says helping those kids recover is a multi-phased job. She says even after they've been rescued fear will drive some kids back to the people who've exploited them.
The four people who died in Saturday's small plane crash in rural lane county have been identified as workers at the Oregon Country Fair in Veneta. Local Fire Chief Terry Ney says several 911 calls were made by people who saw the plane failed to clear the tree line across the road from the private air strip. The four people in the Cessna 172 were killed. Two were from Eugene, two were from Junction City. Federal authorities are investigating the cause of the crash.
There’s an argument going on over whether Oregon’s seven public universities should each be run independently. Some University of Oregon supporters say they'd get more donations if they were run by a local board. But the President of Oregon State University, Ed Ray, doesn't buy it. “the University of Oregon already is a great university. PSU is a wonderful university. They don’t have institutional boards now, they’re excellent.” A legislative subcommittee is considering the pros and cons. Make a recommendation to the next session of the legislature.
Elephant keepers at the Oregon Zoo are carefully monitoring Rose Tu as she nears the end of her pregnancy.
Curator Bob Lee says she's expected to give birth in November or December. The staff has Rose Yu actively working , moving logs and just moving around to build up her stamina for the birth and tending to a newborn. For strengthen building, they have her move logs and climb in and out of the pool. This will be Rose Tu's second birth. Her first calf, Samudra is four years old.
West coast scientists are amazed by the number of different species they scraped from the sides of the Japanese dock that beached in Newport three weeks ago. Jon Chapman at OSU's Hatfield Marine Science Center says they have to document every single one to protect every single species that's native to this side of the Pacific. Experts from Japan's universities are assisting Oregon, Washington and California researchers in the work.
Troy Elverfeld is being called a hero for saving the life of a driver in a pickup that was underwater. Elverfeld is an ODOT worker and when he arrived on the crash scene on Highway 20. He saw the truck, grabbed a metal bar and jumped in. It took three tries to break the window, and then he tried to pull the driver out. When they surfaced, the driver told him there was a second person in the truck, so Elverfeld took another breath and tried twice to search the cab, but found no one. The driver was hospitalized with a concussion.
Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley plans to introduce an amendment to the farm bill that would improve crop insurance for organic farmers. Currently organic farmers, when they file an insurance claim, they are not paid based on the price of the organic crop. But instead on the non-organic equivalent, which is considerably lower.
Senator Merkley's amendment would require USDA to set appropriate payment levels for organic farmers within three years.
Mount Hood Community College may be the focus of state investigation. Secretary of State Kate Brown will decide by the end of the week whether to launch an official investigation of Mt. Hood Community College. The Oregonian reports that Brown won't disclose the possible focus of the investigation. It has to do with allegations made last week when Ralph Yates, a 13-year member of the College's Board announced his resignation. He says it has to do with faculty and administration, but he wouldn't elaborate. He says other frustrated Board members quit for the same reasons in the past.
Oregon Congressman Kurt Schrader is worried that he's being stalked by a radio station owner in Newport.
Kurt Schrader has obtained a stalking order against Newport radio station owner Cheryl McAnally Harle. The Oregonian reports that from October through early February, Harle sent Schrader more than 800 emails. She called his cell phone 235 times and she sent him 308 Facebook messages. She believes that Schrader and her have a romantic relationship. Schrader's Chief of Staff says they've never had social or professional contact except during a phone interview on the station. Schrader says he's worried for the safety of his family.
The state has chosen a Vancouver, Washington company to demolish and remove the Japanese dock that landed at agate beach in Newport. Chris Havel with Oregon Parks and Rec says the state needed a company that could handle a complex project. Ballard Diving and Salvage will be paid just over $84,000 for the project.
The timeline hasn't been set. That will happen after the company meets again with the state.
A study of Portland children shows a disturbing trend. An increasing number of parents are not getting their children immunized enough. Parents are delaying the shots required by the Centers for Disease Control. The study looked at the immunization records of 97,000 Portland children born between 2003 and 2009. It found the percentage of parents not keeping up with the required immunizations increased from 2% to nearly 10%.
Steve Robison with the Oregon Health Authority is the study's author. “A lot of parents hear real emotional accounts of risk and worry and they're trying to balance the risk and worry and people saying don't do anything, with providers saying to get the shots. Once you have the emotional concerns looking at more science doesn't help that.” According to the CDC, you're supposed to take your child to the doctor 9 or 10 times during the first year of life. This study found the 10% of kids on the delayed schedule, only received on average six vaccines.
It’s called “NEEMO 16” - not a killer whale - but NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations. Former Vancouver High School teacher Dottie Metcalf-Lindenburger is the Mission Commander, leading a team in a two week stay at an underwater lab off Key Largo. In a NASA interview she says they're training for a future mission to an asteroid. Metcalf-Lindenburger has logged 362 hours in space; so has an idea of what it will like sharing 400 square feet of living and lab space with three other "aquanauts."
Oregonians on both sides of the immigration debate are reacting to the announcement that certain illegal immigrants are safe from being deported. Francisco Lopez heads up the immigrant rights group 'CAUSA,' and he applauds President Obama sayingi it’s a great first step.
But Jim Ludwig of Oregonians for Immigration reform says it's a poke in the eye at immigrants who wait to get into the U.S. legally. Some estimates say as many as 10,000 young illegal immigrants could be affected in Oregon.
An attorney you may not have heard of during the may primary is the Republican candidate for State Attorney General. Lisa Michaels chairs the conservative party Oregon. She recruited James Buchal and ran a social media write in campaign. Since moving to Oregon in 1991, Buchal has championed Libertarian causes. Buchal was the top write in candidate; but in the number of total votes he trails Democrat Ellen Rosenblum by more than 180,000.
Oregon Senator Ron Wyden was talking about the difference between hemp and marijuana on the Senate floor this week. Wyden was making his point in support of his Farm Bill Amendment to allow state regulation of hemp for industrial use. The Senator says it would provide jobs in rural areas, and he points out the U.S. sends millions of dollars overseas buying products from countries that do allow hemp production.
The Oregon Supreme Court has ruled that records from the Boy Scouts from the last 20 years need to be made public. 20,000 pages of the so-called “Perversion Files” compiled by the Boy Scouts on suspected child abusers over a period of 20 years should be released. The Oregon Supreme Court denied an attempt by the Boy Scouts of America to keep the records gathered from 1965-1985 sealed. The files were used as evidence in a lawsuit against the Scouts in a case that ended in 2010 with a jury ruling that the organization had failed to protect a man who was molested by an assistant scoutmaster in the early 1980s. A Multnomah County judge ordered the files to be opened to the public, with redactions.
While Oregon’s jobless rate went down last month, Washington State's increased from 8.2 to 8.3% last month. But the good news is the state added 11,700 jobs. The increase was mostly due to more unemployed people re-entering the job market. Sectors that saw the most job growth in May included: professional and business services; transportation, warehousing and utilities; wholesale trade; manufacturing; and construction. Government employment lost an estimated 2,600 jobs in May, leisure and hospitality lost 200 jobs, and the information sector lost an estimated 100 jobs.
Data centers in the northwest for Google, Facebook and eventually Apple will draw a tremendous amount of power; 355 megawatts a year, or enough to power a city the size of Gresham. John Harrison with the Northwest Power and Conservation Council says those server farms will grow over the next 20 years.
“They'll have plenty of power to meet the demand, but it's important to include it the long term plans for the northwest.” It's about two-thirds the amount of power consumed by aluminum smelters when they were at their peak in the 1980s.
A woman nearly got away with a $2-million faulty tax refund. The state says there's a reason cheats get may away with it. Simply put, the Oregon Department of Revenue doesn't have enough tax agents to review the refunds that are being sent to taxpayers. The Oregonian reports one out of five agency positions is vacant right now, despite an agency goal to collect as much owed tax dollars as possible. Last week, Krystle Reyes was arrested for accepting a much larger refund than she was supposed to be issued, a Turbo Tax error. And while her refund was red-flagged by the state's automated system, approval was issued after a quick manual check. A couple reasons for the short staff: state budget problems and a huge computer system overhaul.
Oregon’s Kitchen Table is a new on line way for people to get involved in government. At PSU, Wendy Willis says the plan is to give people a way to intereact with decision makers without having to go to Salem. Currently the site is being used to get response to the Governor's ten year plan and take suggestions on the next state budget. They are taking comments through June 22nd at: www.OregonsKitchentable.org.
When you get your Oregon ballot pamphlet the pros and cons about initiatives are written by groups that support them. But this year the new Citizens Initiative Review Commission will also weigh in on some initiatives. Kriag Bohot is working with the commission and says he expects it will only be able to review a few of the initiatives coming to the November ballot.
Cameron Whitten, 21, is in day eleven of his hunger strike outside Portland City Hall. Whitten wants the city to do more to help the homeless. That would be similar to the city's power of eminent domain. Whitten has talked with Mayor Sam Adams and Commissioner Amanda Fritz about the issues. He’s drinking juice and taking vitamins as he continues his hunger strike.
Thousands of Oregon workers don't have health care. Dan Field with Kaiser-Permanente says around 30 percent of employers offer health care right now and he expects that number to jump to over 45 percent in 2014. He says that’s when the exchange starts, and will pool employee resources making it possible for them and their families to have affordable care.
The Red Cross has a critical shortage of O-Negative blood. That's the universal blood type that can be used for anyone. Daphne Mathew says they had an emergency that nearly drained the bank, because supplies were already very low. The low supply is affecting hospitals ability to conduct emergency surgeries. They’re asking all donors to make an appointment, but especially donors with type O-Negative.
A big change for the better in the coast range town of Vernonia. Workers are putting the finishing touches on the town's state-of-the-art new school, taking the place of the buildings that were wiped out in a flood five years ago. The building will be ready in plenty of time for school to begin. Superintendent Ken Cox says the new building will make Vernonia a magnet for families that dream of escaping the urban sprawl.
The Oregon Department of Revenue is being questioned after a Salem woman is accused of tax fraud. She got a $2-million refund. Derrick Gasperini, with the Department of Revenue says the mistake was human error, and they'll start reviewing all large refunds. State Representative Vickie Berger says they need to make sure the department is doing enough to check tax returns for fraud, because if a $2-million return can get through; how many smaller false returns are being paid at the state's expense?
Oregon U.S. Senator Ron Wyden is proposing three changes to the farm bill to create job and improve health of Americans. One proposal is to allow states to change the food stamp program, so it makes more use of locally grown food. Wyden also wants the farm bill to include provisions for farm-to-school programs, and gleaners; those are groups that collect left over food and give it to the needy. Wyden says all of the proposals can be done without costing the federal government more money.
Volunteers are in the process of removing the sea life that attached itself to the Japanese dock that washed up on Oregon’s shore. Chris Havel, with Oregon State Parks, says they're not native to this area. The dock was broken free from its moorings in Japan by the tsunami. After the sea life has been removed, state officials will determine what to do with it; whether it'll be disassembled on the beach or towed to sea and then sunk.
The Forest Service is starting to plan new trails and campgrounds in the Mt. St. Helens National Monument. Lisa Romano says it's difficult finding enough flat space to build a campground. Two trails are being considered: a one-mile trail from the Ape Ccaves, and then a longer trail from Johnston Ridge Observatory that would give hikers a view at 6800 feet into the crater. They’ll start initial environmental reviews this summer.
Inmates at Coffee Creek's Minimum Security Prison in Wilsonville will be seeing more locally-grown fresh produce on the menu. A recent grant from Kaiser Permanente will help expand their organic garden, soon adding a greenhouse. The garden program helps inmates gain work skills they can use upon release. The grant will also help the state provide classes to help inmates learn how to incorporate fresh food into their diets.
A potentially deadly domestic violence attack in Hillsboro Thursday morning. A man armed with a gun attacked his wife. Bystanders wrestled the gun away and the wife fired nine rounds into the ground but, the suspect grabbed the gun again. Police Lt. Michael Rouches says three men tackled Ignacio Mondragon) and held him until police arrived and took him into custody. He’s charged with attempted murder.
University of Oregon economist Tim Duy is reporting modest April growth for the state economy. He says consumer confidence continues to build. Unemployment claims are down; but the manufacturing sector is weak. He says more good news is continuing growth in the construction business.
The Japanese Consulate in Portland confirms the 66-foot dock that washed up on Agate Beach was ripped loose from its moorings by the tsunami. Chris Havel with Oregon State Parks says, as far as he knows, it's the largest piece of tsunami debris recovered so far. As a precaution they tested it for radiation, and that wasn't a problem. The animals growing on the dock are a problem, since they're not natural to this part of the Pacific. They’ll take that into consideration when they determine how to remove the dock.
As Attorney General John Kroger leaves his post, the Governor appoints Ellen Rosenblum take over. Former Oregon Court of Appeals and Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Ellen Rosenblum won the Democratic nomination for Attorney General in the May primary with more than 64% of the votes. She will be sworn in on June 29th as Oregon’s first female Attorney General. Rosenblum will still be required to run for the position in November’s General Election. An unconfirmed count of the votes in a Republican write-in campaign suggests James Buchal will be Rosenblums’ opponent in the race.
A bill that calls for equal pay in the workplace has failed to pass the U.S. Senate. Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley says the bill would have prevented differences in wages based on gender. It also would have prohibited retaliation against employees who reveal their own wages or seek details about their employers' pay policies.
Republicans say the legislation would have placed unnecessary burdens on businesses. It failed to get the 60 votes needed to pass. Democrats will still use it to gain political capital heading into the elections.
Jogger rapist Richard Gilmore has a parole hearing next week, and victims are critical of new rules preventing them from testifying in person. The new rules were adopted by the Parole Board after a change in legislation in 2010. Danielle Tudor was a victim of Gilmore and says she can only testify in writing. Under the new rules, only victims of the crime for which an inmate is convicted can testify in person. All other people can submit testimony in writing. Gilmore was convicted in 1987 and sentenced to at least 30-years with a 60-year maximum.
Come July first, Oregon's Governor will hire a new Administrator for the Department of Public Instruction. The Governor's Advisor on Education is Ben Cannon. He says the newly appointed Chief Education Officer will need help running the multi-billion dollar department. So a Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction will be hired by the Governor. That interim appointment should be made by July 1.
It was a sometimes noisy but peaceful protest outside downtown Portland’s Governor Hotel Monday afternoon as Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney was in town for a fundraising lunch. Planned Parenthood supporters carried signs demanding "Don't Take Away My Breast Exams." Laura Terril Patten is Parenthood Oregon's Executive Director. Union members and Occupy Portland protesters were also on hand as Republican donors paid $2500 for lunch with the candidate.
Terri Horman is being sued in civil court over the disappearance of Kyron Horman. Today marks two years since he disappeared, and that's the statute of limitations on civil lawsuits. Kyron's mother, Desiree Young, is filing the lawsuit. The lawsuit would require her to tell what happened to Kyron and where he is, it also seeks $10-million in damages. If any money is recovered, Young says it would go toward a fund for other families and parents with missing children. It's possible that Horman would plead the fifth to protect herself from criminal prosecution. The attorney filing the lawsuit says if she pleads the fifth, he's confident they could still win the lawsuit.