Blue Mountain Eagle | http://www.bluemountaineagle.com Blue Mountain Eagle Tue, 9 Feb 2016 12:10:02 -0500 en http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcsi.dll/staticimage/images/rss-logo.jpg Blue Mountain Eagle | http://www.bluemountaineagle.com County Court minutes 01-27-16 http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/County_Minutes/20160209/county-court-minutes-01-27-16 http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/County_Minutes/20160209/county-court-minutes-01-27-16#Comments Tue, 9 Feb 2016 10:08:46 -0500 http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160209954 IN THE COUNTY COURT OF THE STATE OF OREGON IN AND FOR THE COUNTY OF GRANT

Access the County Court Agenda and approved Minutes on the Commissioner’s page at www.gcoregonlive2.com

January 27, 2016

Pursuant to notice made to the newspaper of general circulation throughout Grant County, the radio station, county website, and e-mail distribution list, a regular meeting of the County Court was held at the County Courthouse in Canyon City, OR.

9:00 am -- Call to Order. Present were Judge Scott W. Myers, Commissioners Chris B. Labhart and Boyd Britton, Secretary Laurie Wright, Doug Ferguson, Mitch Ferguson, Kenny Delano, Road Master Alan Hickerson, Judy Kerr, Ron Phillips, Zach Williams, Dennis Flippence, Sharon Livingston, Jim Sproul, and Pastor Mark Majors. A Pledge of Allegiance was given to the United States Flag. The invocation was given by Pastor Majors.

AGENDA. MSP: Myers/Labhart -- to accept the agenda with the addition of the announcement of the recommendation of the proposal award for the Canyon Creek Berm Project.

ANNOUNCEMENTS. Judge Myers announced this week and last week have been crazy. He attended a Community Connections quarterly meeting yesterday in Baker City and is Vice Chair on this board. Myers said he went to the public meeting last night at the Senior Center. Myers stated he will be meeting with the Forest Service on Friday to discuss the agreement between the FS and county regarding the shared airport space and lease agreement. He said he would like to attend a roast for Wallowa County Commissioner Mike Hayward on Friday evening, but he doesn’t think he will have time. Hayward has resigned to take a position with the grain growers. Myers also attended a GREAT meeting last Monday at Economic Development Coordinator Sally Bartlett’s office.

Commissioner Labhart said he had a Local Community Advisory Meeting (LCAC) meeting last Wednesday at the airport. He convened a wellness and health facility meeting in Grant County and said they are looking into possibly putting a facility in the county. Labhart drove the VA van to Boise last Friday and said he just received word they may cut the van and he said they are going to try to fight to keep this service. Labhart added this is a vital service to our local veterans and it is very difficult, if not impossible, for them to travel to VA appointments on their own. Labhart stated tonight he is meeting with the Depot Museum and RV Park people in Prairie City to discuss the contract the county has with them. He may attend the AOC meeting next Monday to discuss the legislative session, but isn’t sure if he will go. Labhart said the AOC people met with the Governor this past week to discuss what they would like to have accomplished in this short session. He has another LCAC meeting next Tuesday. Labhart also attended the public meeting last night at the Senior Center.

Commissioner Britton attended the Governor’s Transportation Vision Panel meeting at the airport on Monday. The meeting was to give a vision statement on where they wanted to go and wanted to get the SEAC and NEAC’s opinions. He reported they gave them their opinions and he believes they were a little surprised, but very happy they were engaged as much as they were. Britton said a plaque was given to Monty Grove who is retiring as the District 5 Director. He added Grove is a good man and he has worked well with him over the years. After this a meeting a SEAC/NEAC meeting was held regarding 2018-2020 STIP projects and there is less money this year and reports and so they need to figure out how the money should be distributed. He said an unusual thing about Eastern Oregon is the willingness to share the money and take turns on projects. Doug Ferguson agreed with Britton.

9:15 am Shannon Springer entered

Britton reported two proposed projects are for sidewalks in downtown John Day. One is the sidewalk extension heading south and the other one is heading west. He said he feels one of the best projects is the one out of the City of Irrigon. Britton stated the City of John Day will probably not get both projects and Peggy Gray shared which one the City would prefer. Britton said he met with Scott Fairley of Oregon Solutions and Fairley has been working with Doug Ferguson to come up with solutions for the water impoundment and prepare the application for a feasibility study. He said Fairley is amazing and really does come up with solutions. Britton stated he always complains about the airport, but he had some members of the GEODC staff and staff of Java Jungle approach him and tell him how helpful Airport employee Mark Henderson was when they were there and this was a good thing. He thanked the SEAC/NEAC group for our airport as well. Britton also attended the public meeting last night at the Senior Center.

AWARD OF CANYON CREEK BERM PROJECT PROPOSALS. Doug Ferguson (Ferguson Surveying & Engineering) said they only received three proposals that addressed each of the items in the project. Ferguson said they used a point system to rate each contractor and based on the scores, they are recommending Lil Buddy Construction, LLC. Ferguson added they checked references on this company and received good recommendations from Grant Soil and Water Conservation. Ferguson added he was very impressed with Todd Smith and his crew when he met him. Ferguson said the flexibility of the company is also impressive. Ferguson said this is a unit cost contract, so the contractor will only be paid for the work completed. Kenny Delano explained how the unit cost contract worked in more detail and added they are hoping with the Hesco bags they will be able to reduce the number of sandbags needed.

Ferguson said they prepared the proposal specifications prior to finding out they can borrow Hesco bags from the National Guard and just need to go pick them up in Seattle. They intend to pick up 100 of these bags and that will treat 1500 feet. Doug feels the Hesco bags may be more efficient in some areas. The contract states that changes and cost negotiations will happen as needed throughout the project. Ferguson is recommending the court accept the proposal from Lil Buddy Construction, LLC. MSP: Labhart/Myers -- to award the Canyon Creek Temporary Emergency berm project to Lil Buddy Construction, LLC, in the amount of $173,290.40, to be negotiated.

Ferguson said Lil Buddy told him they can have the bonding they need in place very quickly and he is hopeful they will start working on the project next week. Delano explained the time period for getting each phase of the project completed and the fact that if the contractor goes over the allotted time there would be penalties. Discussion followed regarding provisions of the contract and the fact the contractor would not be penalized for acts of God that are out of their control. Labhart told Ferguson he appreciated the transparency of the spreadsheet they prepared for the public’s information. The spreadsheet is attached as Exhibit A.

CANYON CREEK CHANNEL REHAB PROJECT. Mitch Ferguson said they have hit a couple of small hang-ups in locating a couple of owners for easement signing. Mitch feels confident they can get these issues solved. One issue is with the Boring property that is in behind Grant Soil and Water and the Elkhorn Motel. Delano said the owner is receptive to the project and they just need to take him to the site and show him what they can and can’t accomplish on the property. Britton asked what type of project would be on the Boring project and Mitch said possibly earth and berm or sandbags, but they aren’t sure what to do about two old sheds on the property that are in the way. Doug said if they have to they will place Hesco bags on the left side of 6th Street to keep water off the highway to protect everyone else if they can’t do anything about the sheds. Delano said they are going to write another easement with Old West Federal Credit Union for the property next to the high school and behind the old meat packing plant. The credit union easement will be unique in that they will allow this area to be used as a staging and equipment storage area. Labhart asked if this property had sold yet and Delano said not yet. Mitch is working with ODOT for the permits for the highway and should have those taken care of shortly. Delano said there hasn’t been any push back from agencies and safety has been the main concern for everyone. Myers asked if anyone had seen the steel rack above the new culvert at Sheep’s Creek and Doug said it is a debris catcher. Myers feels the steel rack could cause problems.

Doug said he has located three potential pond sites near Izee and presented maps to the court. He hasn’t spoken to the two ranches yet near the largest option. The site Doug prefers is the larger one and would have a volume of almost 4500 acre feet and to put this into perspective Canyon Meadows had 280 acre feet. Doug said this water impoundment would be bigger than a pond and would be about a mile or so long and about 1000 feet wide. It would have enough storage to affect the downstream water quality by cooling the water and has a lot of irrigation possibilities. Labhart asked about the public recreation potential. Doug explained right now he is focusing on the benefits of water quality, irrigation and recreation. He has been working with Shaun Robertson regarding fish issues. Doug said it was very frustrating to locate an impoundment site that might work and he almost gave up before he found this area. Doug has not contacted any landowners about the project yet. The stream this potential project would be on is in the South Fork Watershed. Doug doesn’t like bringing this information to court without talking to the landowners, but he just hasn’t had time. He said if permission isn’t given the project won’t happen. Doug said he has been working on the paperwork for the grant that is due February 1st.

9:45 am Kathy Smith entered 9:48 am King Williams entered

Britton asked Doug about Grub Creek. Doug said he did look at this site and the bottom of the creek is too steep and there wouldn’t be enough storage. Doug is moving forward on the application process and said the application requires a go-to signature and Judge Myers said he would be willing to be this person. The court agreed to allow Judge Myers to be the signer on the application and in the event of an emergency Doug Ferguson has permission to sign the application. Dennis Flippence said he has a neighbor who is immobile and he wants to know if there is any hard copy information he can provide to his neighbor about the flood mitigation project. Flippence said he thinks his neighbor would really like to visit with Doug. Doug said he, Mitch or Kenny could go visit the neighbor, and Judge Myers said he would also go with whoever decided to visit him if needed.

9:57 am Nate Hughes entered

COURTHOUSE FLOOR TILE REPLACEMENT BIDS. Judge Myers explained where the tile would be replaced. Myers opened the only bid received for the tile floor replacement in the courthouse common areas. Myers stated the upstairs floor project cost about $39,000 and this included the asbestos abatement, floor preparation and placing of the new tile. The asbestos abatement was completed in the common areas of the courthouse in January and cost around $9,500. The bid was from The Floor Store in John Day in the amount of $10,586.76. The bid includes floor preparation, placing of new tile and cove moldings. MSP: Myers/Britton -- to accept the bid from The Floor Store in the amount of $10,586.76. Myers added scheduling for the installation will need to be discussed with The Floor Store to keep disruptions down as much as possible.

PUBLIC COMMENT. Sharon Livingston said she had two items to address. Livingston said she presented an article to the court a few months ago regarding how the county could take back the Malheur National Forest and operate it under a county proposition. She believes it is in the county’s best interest to take care of its own land and resources we have here. Livingston is concerned with the decline in our economy and said new buildings aren’t being built by businesses, they are being built by agencies. She said agencies are ruling us, 60% or so of the income in this county comes from federal, state, county, city or schools. Livingston stated Grant County is on the brink of becoming a socialist county. Eastern Oregon is still her home, but she doesn’t claim Oregon and it’s not the Oregon she grew up in. Livingston would like to maintain Eastern Oregon as a resource based community. She does her business locally and said she supports Grant County 100%. Livingston said her second issue is the current legislative session and the potential increase in minimum wage and the carbon fuel tax. She stated the grocery store and restaurant in Long Creek has been extremely beneficial to the community and employs local people. The minimum wage increase would hurt businesses like this. She can understand the cost of living is much higher on the west side of the state. Livingston said we are not a one size fit all state even though it is extremely difficult to be heard on the other side. Livingston said the government is not being honest about the carbon fuel tax. She testified on the carbon fuel tax and Representative Bentz was the only one on the 10 member legislative committee that even asked questions relating to our side of the state. Livingston challenged the court members to write testimony and go to Salem to testify about this issue and represent the community. She went on to discuss a meeting she attended in Salem and said it is normal when you live over 100 miles from Salem you are allowed to testify first. A gentleman from California was allowed to speak for a full hour and every environmental group that was there was allowed to testify. She said a man who owned a trucking company that employs 165 people was only allowed 2 minutes to testify and Livingston was only allowed 2 minutes to testify. Livingston said it is time we stood up and worked for our people here and managed our own natural resources. She stressed we need to have a voice in Salem. Myers said he agrees the minimum wage increase could be devastating to small businesses here and they wouldn’t be able to afford the increase.

Jim Sproul said a terrible thing happened last night and there was an attack on the first amendment right here in Grant County. Freedom of speech was trying to be exercised and it wasn’t allowed and this was shameful and terrible. Judge Myers asked him to clarify how this was not allowed. Sproul said what happened last night with the people being stopped on their way here to speak and one person dying. Myers stated it was tragic what happened. Sproul said he supports everyone’s right to free speech.

Britton said he wanted to address Sharon Livingston’s concerns with the carbon fuel tax and he said he agrees with her the carbon fuel tax was horribly thought out and presented. He explained Representative Bentz asked if the county commissioner’s would support a fuel tax with a caveat containing a formula that would change drastically how things are allocated. The new formula would actually benefit smaller counties. Britton said he told Representative Bentz he would support this if he did everything he could to get rid of the carbon fuel tax. Britton added he is not supportive of the minimum wage increase and he knows people who work at Chester’s are scared to death they will lose their jobs. Livingston stated she is not opposed to people earning a fair livable wage, she is concerned with the one size fits all mentality of Oregon. She added people need to do something and not just sit in coffee shops and bitch about it. Livingston said she calls Senator Merkley and Senator Wyden on a weekly basis and she has tried to call Governor Kate Brown’s office but has had no luck. Livingston reported she hasn’t had a grazing permit with the Malheur Forest for 35 years and she won’t have another. She again urged the court members to go to Salem to testify and to write letters to the legislature. Labhart reported he is on the AOC legislative committee and said the carbon fuel tax and minimum wage will probably not be handled in the short legislative session; it will probably come up next year.

Ron Phillips asked what Labhart’s sign said last night? Labhart stated his sign read “America is a Nation of Laws“. Phillips said he feels this is unethical behavior for a county commissioner and he personally feels Labhart should resign. Labhart said he was exercising his first amendment rights. Phillips doesn’t feel this is ethical because he is an elected county commissioner and paid by the county. Phillips said he defends people’s right to protest, but he doesn’t support an elected official doing this. Phillips again asked for his resignation. Labhart said he is not going to get it.

Judy Kerr stood up and stated she acknowledges the court members rights, outside of the court, to say whatever they want; however, comments made within the courtroom indicate the support of the court and elected officials. Kerr said as elected officials they are representing her. Kerr said she resents the minutes of January 13th, minute 8.40 on the audio recording in which Commissioner Britton stated he called Judge Grasty and offered “our” support. Kerr said Britton did not offer her support to Grasty and did not ask her permission as a citizen of this county to support someone who she considers a co-conspirator to murder. Kerr said last week when the bids were opened it was said Iron Triangle’s work needed to be taken into consideration and she said Iron Triangle’s work doesn’t make any damn difference. Britton said you are not going to address this court using curse words anymore and this is inappropriate behavior and the court does not have to listen to this. Myers asked everyone to please try to remain congenial. Kerr said she was pretty much quoted verbatim in the previous minutes and every curse word she said was included but the part where she said all she heard from Britton was “I” from him instead of “we” was omitted. Kerr said anything discussed in this court that displays an opinion of the court that does not support the majority of the people should not be mentioned in court. Myers advised Kerr that it is impossible for the court to represent every member of the county at once, especially on contentious issues. He said personally he attempts to not take a side on issues and tries to constructively listen. Myers said he respects the political and local pressure Judge Grasty faces in Burns and the issues he deals with are as big, or bigger, than ours here. Myers respects the job Judge Grasty does in Burns even though he doesn’t always agree with him. Myers asked the audience to please not judge the court members for the relationship they have with their counterparts. Kerr said she understands this and she applauds the Judge and understands how much pressure he is under. She doesn’t care what the court members do outside of the courtroom, but she feels they should stay on the fence when they are in court, especially during a volatile situation that ended so terribly. Myers said he can’t support how things turned out last night either. Kerr said what happened was outside of our county. Myers stated as American Citizens what happened last night is everyone’s problem.

ASSISTANT PLANNER JOB DESCRIPTION. Myers said a couple of weeks ago Planning Director Hilary McNary brought a proposed job description to the court for the Planning Secretary to better reflect what she actually does and it was sent to LPGI for placement review. MSP: Myers/Britton – to accept the ranking of LPGI at grade 5 and adopt the new Assistant Planner job description.

OHA 3RD AMENDMENT TO IGA #147789. The court reviewed the 3rd Amendment to the Intergovernmental Agreement between the Oregon Health Authority and Grant County for a financial assistance award in the amount of $5,440 for Community Addictions and Mental Health services. MSP: Myers/Britton – to allow Judge Myers to sign the agreement.

COMMUNITY ADVISORY COUNCIL. The court reviewed and approved the volunteer application submitted for the Community Advisory Council from Nancy Jimenez. MSP: Myers/Labhart – to appoint Nancy Jimenez to the Community Advisory Council.

FALL MTN. COMMUNICATION SITE. The court reviewed and signed the Fall Mountain Communication Site Agreement with Oregon Public Broadcasting. MSP: Myers/Labhart – to circulate the agreement for signature.

MINUTES. MSP: Myers/Britton -- to approve the January 20th, 2016 minutes as amended.

Labhart advised the audience of the messages the court had received regarding Sheriff Palmer’s statements. Myers said the messages would be available to anyone who wanted to view them.

Labhart said an initiative petition (12-57) was filed by a Grant County citizen and was challenged and Judge Cramer denied the petition saying it wasn’t legal the way he interpreted it.

Sharon Livingston thanked the court for allowing her to speak.

10:38 am -- Adjourned

Respectfully Submitted,

Laurie Wright

County Court Secretary

]]>
Sheriffs’ association asked to investigate Palmer’s conduct http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_News/20160208/sheriffs-association-asked-to-investigate-palmers-conduct http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_News/20160208/sheriffs-association-asked-to-investigate-palmers-conduct#Comments Mon, 8 Feb 2016 20:36:41 -0500 Sean Hart http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160209955 The Oregon State Sheriffs’ Association has been asked to investigate the conduct of Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer.

Association President Brian Wolfe, the sheriff of Malheur County, said, at the request of citizens, an executive board would be looking into Palmer’s conduct regarding the occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge to determine whether to launch an official investigation.

“What the association will do is look at all the facts: We’ll gather evidence and information, and then if we think there is a violation of the state sheriffs’ (association) bylaws or ethics, then we would take whatever would be the appropriate action,” he said. “We would just want to make sure, first of all, that sheriffs in Oregon are following the law and following their oath.”

All sheriffs in Oregon, he said, vow to uphold both the state and federal Constitution. He said the association has bylaws in effect that allow the expulsion of a member for misconduct, though he is not aware of any members being removed in the past. Currently, he said, all 36 Oregon sheriffs are members.

Expulsion is the most severe punishment available to the association, Wolfe said. If a criminal investigation was warranted, he said, it would be handled by a law enforcement agency, not the association.

Wolfe said he has not seen evidence indicating misconduct by Palmer and that he would need to see hard facts before commenting further.

“Each sheriff has their unique personalities and interests,” he said. “We always support the First Amendment, the freedom of speech and all that, as long as it doesn’t violate the ethics or laws.”

In John Day Jan. 12, Palmer met with three people who participated in the occupation of the refuge, including Ryan Payne and Jon Ritzheimer, according to Dave Traylor and Jim Sproul who were also at the meeting. Palmer said he was unaware the occupiers would be at the lunch meeting, but he followed them and others to another location to continue the meeting after leaving the restaurant.

Payne, Ritzheimer and 14 others have since been indicted by a federal grand jury on one felony count each of conspiring to impede federal employees.

Palmer was also at the John Day Senior Center Jan. 26 where at least Payne was expected to speak. Palmer left the center after learning the leaders of the refuge occupation had been arrested en route.

According to a letter to the editor from his wife, RoseAnn, the sheriff only planned to address the crowd at the senior center for a few minutes to clear up false allegations that he had met with occupation leaders Ammon Bundy and LaVoy Finicum and that he set up the meeting at the center. Palmer has refused to speak to the Blue Mountain Eagle since that night.

The state sheriff’s association issued a statement last week condemning the actions of those who broke into the Malheur refuge and encouraged others “to take up arms” against the government. The statement says the country was founded with three branches of government — legislative, judicial and executive — and sheriffs are part of the executive branch:

“We are a nation of laws, and the executive branch cannot override the laws passed by the legislative branch, nor can we ignore the clear guidance of the judicial branch. There is a process for changing the laws of our great nation and for amending our Constitution, and that process does not involve the armed takeover of government facilities and disruption of an entire community.”

The statement says the association supports the right of the people to challenge the government to make change but does not “agree with or support any citizen or elected official who would advocate for change in a manner that includes illegal action, threats of violence, or violence against any citizen of the United States.”

]]>
Three-tier wage plan set for Senate vote http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/bme/capital-bureau/20160205/three-tier-wage-plan-set-for-senate-vote http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/bme/capital-bureau/20160205/three-tier-wage-plan-set-for-senate-vote#Comments Fri, 5 Feb 2016 16:51:52 -0500 PARIS ACHENCapital Bureau http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160209956 SALEM — A bill to set three different minimum wage rates in the state is headed to the Senate floor next week.

The bill would hike wages to $14.75 in the Portland metro area, $12.50 in rural and coastal areas with struggling economies and $13.50 in the rest of the state by 2022. The rates are based on median income and cost of living in those regions and what it takes to be “self-sufficient” — to pay basic expenses such as food, housing and transportation, said Sen. Michael Dembrow, D-Portland, chairman of the Senate Workforce and General Government Committee.

The committee passed the proposal Friday 3-to-2.

“Passing minimum wage is not going to be a silver bullet for problems faced by low-income Oregonians,” Dembrow said.

Dembrow said lawmakers still need to increase the earned income tax credit, address the cost of child care and find ways to increase affordable housing in the state, where prices, particularly in the Portland area, have skyrocketed.

The vote fell along party lines with the committee’s two Republicans, Sens. Tim Knopp of Bend and Kim Thatcher of Keizer, voting no.

“I really feel the impact of this is going to negative in many ways,” Knopp said. “I think it is going to hurt the people you’re trying to help.”

He said small businesses would take an economic hit and employees would lose jobs.

The Republicans said they plan to write a minority report and offer an amendment to the bill on the Senate floor. The bill could reach the Senate floor as early as Tuesday, Dembrow said.

Dembrow authored the bill after months of meeting with stakeholders and consulting research on self-sufficiency thresholds for every county in the state, he said. The bill was intended to offer an alternative to ballot initiatives that would raise the minimum to $15 or $13.50 statewide and would repeal a ban on municipalities and counties from setting a higher wage.

The first pay bump would start in July, increasing the wage from $9.25 to $9.75 statewide.

The minimum gradually will climb to $14.75 in 2022 in the Portland urban growth boundary, which includes parts of Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties. It will rise to $13.50 in Benton, Clatsop, Columbia, Deschutes, Hood River, Jackson, Josephine, Lane, Lincoln, Linn, Marion, Polk, Tillamook, Wasco, and Yamhill counties, and parts of Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington counties outside Portland’s urban growth boundary.

In rural areas, the minimum will increase to $12.50. Those areas include Malheur, Lake, Harney, Wheeler, Sherman, Gilliam, Wallowa, Grant, Jefferson, Baker, Union, Crook, Klamath, Douglas, Coos, Curry, Umatilla and Morrow counties.

The Legislative Fiscal Office determined that the cost of raising minimum wage for the state and local governments is indeterminate because it’s impossible to know how many positions will affected by the time the increases take effect in the next seven years.

Dembrow’s amendment, first offered Wednesday, nudged out a proposal by Gov. Kate Brown that would have set two minimum wage rates in the state.

No polling has been done in the Senate on Dembrow’s specific proposal, according to Senate President Peter Courtney’s Office. Lindsey O’Brien, spokeswoman for House Speaker Tina Kotek, D-Portland, said Kotek supports raising minimum wage but is still reviewing the Senate proposal before taking a stance on it.

The Capital Bureau is a collaboration between EO Media Group and Pamplin Media Group.

]]>
Initiative petition seeks to overturn county pot ban http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_News/20160204/initiative-petition-seeks-to-overturn-county-pot-ban http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_News/20160204/initiative-petition-seeks-to-overturn-county-pot-ban#Comments Thu, 4 Feb 2016 17:26:20 -0500 Deadline to challenge constitutionality 5 p.m. Feb. 5 http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160209957 Grant County voters may ultimately decide whether pot businesses should be allowed.

David Kilpatrick, Canyon City, filed a prospective initiative petition that, if approved by a majority of voters on the May ballot, would overturn the county ban and allow the production, cultivation, processing, wholesaling, retailing and testing of marijuana as permitted by the state in areas outside of city limits within the county.

Grant County Clerk Brenda Percy determined the prospective initiative complied with the requirements set forth in the Oregon Constitution to concern only one subject and to contain the full text of the proposed law.

Electors dissatisfied with the determination may file a petition for review in the Grant County Circuit Court by 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 5.

Percy said, for the initiative to be placed on the May ballot, the petitioner must collect signatures from 196 active, registered county voters — 6 percent of the number who voted in the last governor’s race — by Feb. 17. If the deadline is not met, she said, the petitioner has up to two years to collect the required number of signatures at least 90 days prior to the May or November ballot on which it would appear.

]]>
FBI’s hands-off strategy in Malheur follows lessons learned http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_News/20160204/fbis-hands-off-strategy-in-malheur-follows-lessons-learned http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_News/20160204/fbis-hands-off-strategy-in-malheur-follows-lessons-learned#Comments Thu, 4 Feb 2016 16:28:02 -0500 MARTHA BELLISLEAssociated Press http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160209958 (AP) — Federal officials have allowed the armed occupation of an Oregon wildlife refuge to drag on for more than a month as part of a strategy learned from past standoffs in Texas and Idaho that ended in bloodshed and spurred more government mistrust, experts say.

Critics say the wait-it-out strategy sends a mixed message and can embolden others to lead takeovers. The decision to monitor from a distance the Oregon occupiers opposing federal land policy has not changed since Jan. 2, but U.S. officials are stepping up the pressure outside the refuge and in the courtroom.

Authorities arrested leader Ammon Bundy and others on a remote road when they left Malheur National Wildlife Refuge for a community meeting. The confrontation on Jan. 26 also led to the shooting death of an occupier, who the FBI says was reaching for a gun.

With four holdouts refusing to leave, the government went further, surrounding the refuge and getting them added to an indictment charging 16 people with conspiracy to interfere with federal workers.

But the overall strategy is de-escalation, experts say.

“The federal response to sieges has changed dramatically since the early 1990s — authorities have been very careful to avoid turning the federal law enforcement response to such standoffs into a catalytic symbol for extremists to capitalize upon,” said Brian Levin, a criminal justice professor at California State University at San Bernardino.

Others say any other armed group would be rooted out.

“This very small group feels empowered to seize, vandalize and destroy public property,” said Eric Herzik, chair of the University of Nevada, Reno’s political science department.

Federal analysts predicted that the government’s hands-off response to a 2014 Nevada armed standoff led by Bundy’s father, Cliven, over grazing rights would give impetus to others.

They claimed victory, which galvanized some groups, according to a 2014 report by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence and Analysis.

“The rate of violent domestic extremist attacks motivated by anti-government ideology will increase over the next year,” the report said.

Soon after, the younger Bundy and his followers took over the refuge, demanding the federal government turn public lands over to local control and free two ranchers imprisoned for setting fires.

Most occupiers cleared out after Bundy’s arrest and the police shooting, but four remained and say they won’t leave unless they receive assurances they won’t be arrested.

“I can think of no other groups which have been given this type of leeway from law enforcement,” said Herzik, the political scientist.

Authorities have set up checkpoints around the refuge but have not forced out the occupiers.

“Their approach is — time is on their side,” said Carl Jensen, a former FBI supervisory special agent who is director of the Intelligence and Security Studies program at the Citadel military college. “The first priority is to end it peacefully and not light a match to set it off.”

That goal came about the hard way, following bloody standoffs in Ruby Ridge, Idaho, and Waco, Texas. They forced the FBI to re-organize and end its “militaristic” response and employ behavioral experts instead, said Levin, the California professor.

The strategy was tested in 1996 when the “Patriot” Freemen group held an anti-government standoff on a Montana ranch. After arresting the group leader while he was away from the compound, the FBI negotiated with the occupiers, who gave up after 81 days.

“The Freemen standoff was a template for what happened in Oregon,” Levin said. “Strategically, this will be a model on how to respond to sieges. They claimed victory over Bunkerville, (Nevada,) but they won’t do that over Oregon.”

The options for the four remaining occupiers have diminished, he said.

“This gives authorities the flexibility to stand down,” Levin said. “Some are critical of the wait-and-see approach, but it’s well-thought-out and well-planned.”

]]>
Three-tiered minimum wage back on the table http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/bme/capital-bureau/20160204/three-tiered-minimum-wage-back-on-the-table http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/bme/capital-bureau/20160204/three-tiered-minimum-wage-back-on-the-table#Comments Thu, 4 Feb 2016 15:51:04 -0500 PARIS ACHENCapital Bureau http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160209959 SALEM — Legislators have returned to a proposal that would set three minimum wage rates in the state based on median income and cost of living.

The proposal by Sen. Michael Dembrow, D-Portland, would hike wages to $14.75 in the Portland metro area, $12.50 in rural and coastal areas with struggling economies and $13.50 in the rest of the state by 2022.

The Senate Workforce and General Government Committee, which Dembrow chairs, is expected to vote on the proposal Friday after a brief public hearing at the Capitol.

Leaders in the House and Senate have made minimum wage a priority for the 35-day legislative session, which started Feb. 1. They’re hoping that legislative action will stave off ballot initiatives that would raise the minimum to $15 or $13.50 in a three-year period and lift a ban on cities setting higher wages.

Another proposal by Gov. Kate Brown grabbed the limelight last month but was discarded after lawmakers heard outcry from constituents in Eastern Oregon that the governor’s minimums were too high for that region of the state.

Brown’s proposal would raise the minimum from $9.25 to $14.50 in the Portland metro area and to $13.25 in the rest of the state by 2022.

“We heard a lot of concern about some of those frontier parts of the state that they were going to have a particularly hard time accommodating those increases,” Dembrow said. “Some preferred their counties to be excluded completely from an increase in minimum wage. That is, to me, just not acceptable. There are workers in those counties that need a raise.”

Under Dembrow’s proposal{obj:12196}, wages would increase statewide to $9.75 in July 2016 and rise gradually from there until 2022 according to region.

The lowest rate of $12.50 would apply to the following counties: Baker, Coos, Crook, Curry, Douglas, Gilliam, Grant, Harney, Jefferson, Klamath, Lake, Malheur, Morrow, Sherman, Umatilla, Union, Wallowa and Wheeler.

Ron Vernini, mayor of Ontario, said his city fails to attract businesses because companies prefer to go to nearby Idaho where wages are lower.

Raising the minimum could “in many cases destroy jobs in communities that now are struggling to keep from going deeper into the spiral of poverty,” he wrote in a letter to lawmakers.

Senators have pitched various amendments to Dembrow’s proposal. It was unclear Thursday if any of those would receive consideration Friday.

One by Sen. Chuck Thomsen, R-Hood River, would exclude agricultural workers from the wage increase.

Many farmers have spoken out against a minimum wage increase, saying it would force them to make cuts to employees.

Trevor Frahm, who owns a farm in Nyssa, said a $1 increase in the minimum would force him to eliminate a few of his 20 employees.

“A three- to five-dollar increase would force me to move my facility to Idaho, which is only three miles away,” Frahm said.

Surveys indicate most people in Portland, where housing costs have skyrocketed, support a hike in the minimum.

Patti Whitney-Wise of Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon in Portland said families need an increase just to meet basic needs.

Dembrow’s wage plan is based on data from Portland State University and the University of Washington that shows what income is required to be self-sufficient in different counties in Oregon.

“We are one state, and yet we are not one state,” Dembrow said.

The Capital Bureau is a collaboration between EO Media Group and Pamplin Media Group.

]]>
Barbara Blackstone Ledden July 29, 1924 – January 22, 2016 http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Obituaries/20160204/barbara-blackstone-ledden-july-29-1924-x2013-january-22-2016 http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Obituaries/20160204/barbara-blackstone-ledden-july-29-1924-x2013-january-22-2016#Comments Thu, 4 Feb 2016 15:16:12 -0500 http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160209960 Barbara Blackstone Ledden passed away at her home on January 22, 2016, at the age of 91. A Celebration of Life service will be held at the McMinnville United Methodist Church on Saturday, March 12, 2016, at 2pm.

Barbara was born in Omaha, Nebraska, to Lloyd Warren Peck and Estella Mae Blackstone Peck. She was their first child. She was joined by three brothers, Thomas and Arthur now deceased, and John of Rohnert Park, CA. The family lived in Sioux City, Iowa where Barbara graduated from high school. During high school, she played the cello and rose to occupy first chair in the orchestra.

While spending her adult life as a mother and housewife, Barbara was active in the life of the communities where she lived. She was a troop leader and council member with Girl Scouts. She was a life member of Eastern Star and participated with her daughter in Job’s Daughters and Rainbow Girls. Barbara loved to garden and participated in Garden Clubs wherever she lived. She was an artist who used watercolors as a medium to depict nature in all its glory. She enjoyed making objects of beauty out of the things nature provided (seed pods and cones, flower petals, leaves, etc.)

Barbara took an active role in the Christian life. From early childhood she attended church. In adulthood, she gave active leadership to the church’s program where she attended. Her love of music was expressed in singing in the choir. She was a member of United Methodist Women and served as President of local units; President and Secretary/Treasurer on the District level; and Treasurer and Vice President of the Annual Conference U.M.W.

Barbara is survived by her husband, Robert Ledden Sr., and four children: Sue Ann Strong, Napa, California; Deborah Strong, Portland, Oregon; Cynthia Harris, Prairie City, Oregon; and Marc Strong, Prairie City, Oregon. She is survived by six grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren. She was preceded in death by a daughter, Terry, and a son, Robert.

To leave condolences, visit www.macyandson.com.

—Paid for by the family of Barbara Blackstone Ledden.

]]>
James Louis ‘Jim’ Dyckhoff III http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Obituaries/20160204/james-louis-jim-dyckhoff-iii http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Obituaries/20160204/james-louis-jim-dyckhoff-iii#Comments Thu, 4 Feb 2016 15:11:08 -0500 http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160209961 James Louis “Jim” Dyckhoff III passed away Jan. 8 in Helena, Montana, near family.

Dyckhoff was born in McCloud, California, May 17, 1947, the oldest of 10 children.

He served in the U.S. Army during the Vietnam war, then fished the seas of Alaska.

Dyckhoff worked in construction for many years and even built his own home by hand on 140 acres in Eastern Oregon. He spent more than 40 years in Oregon where he lived the outdoor life he loved of hunting and fishing.

Dyckhoff always had a smile on his face, and he was always willing to help out anyone in need.

He was preceded in death by his father, James L. Dyckhoff II, in 2014. He is survived by his mother, Doris Dyckhoff, who resides in California.

There will be a memorial at 4 p.m. Feb. 13 at the Community Center in Long Creek. All that knew and loved this man are asked to come and remember the wonderful life he lived.

]]>
Feds bolster security at wildlife preserves in three states http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_News/20160204/feds-bolster-security-at-wildlife-preserves-in-three-states http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_News/20160204/feds-bolster-security-at-wildlife-preserves-in-three-states#Comments Thu, 4 Feb 2016 12:32:56 -0500 TERRENCE PETTY and STEVEN DUBOISAssociated Press http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160209962 PORTLAND (AP) — The government has beefed up security at national wildlife refuges in states south of Oregon as an armed standoff over federal land policy has created tensions in the region and shows no sign of ending soon.

Additional security officers were sent to preserves in southern Oregon, Northern California and Nevada as four occupiers remain holed up at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and say they will not leave without assurances they won’t be arrested.

“No specific threats or incidents have occurred, but we remain vigilant to ensure employee and visitor safety throughout the region,” Jody Holzworth, a Sacramento-based regional spokeswoman for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said in an email Wednesday.

The additional security measures are in place at the Klamath Basin National Wildlife Refuge Complex, which straddles the Oregon-California border; Ash Meadows National Wildlife Refuge in Nevada; and Modoc National Wildlife Refuge in Northern California.

As the holdouts drag out the occupation, a federal grand jury indicted standoff leader Ammon Bundy and 10 others who have already been arrested. Assistant U.S. Attorney Geoff Barrow said Wednesday that the indictment also includes “others,” perhaps a reference to the remaining occupiers.

The 11 face a conspiracy charge of using intimidation to prevent federal officers from doing their work at the refuge, which is in a sparsely populated area of southeastern Oregon.

The occupation began Jan. 2, with Bundy and his followers demanding the federal government turn public lands over to local control. After his arrest during a traffic stop late last month, he repeatedly has called on the holdouts to go home to avoid bloodshed.

Authorities are monitoring the standoff but have not moved in to the federal property, instead arresting the main figures Jan. 26 on a remote road outside the refuge. That’s where police shot and killed Arizona rancher Robert “LaVoy” Finicum during a confrontation.

The FBI says Finicum, a spokesman for the armed group, reached for a gun in his jacket pocket. Bundy supporters say his death was not justified.

His death led to protests this week by those supporting the occupation, while local residents rallied to urge the holdouts to leave, further dividing the strained community.

Federal authorities fear those tensions could pop up elsewhere.

Preserves and other sites run by the Fish and Wildlife Service nationwide are being extra vigilant, said Gavin Shire, the agency’s chief of public affairs.

“Due to the evolving situation in eastern Oregon, all service stations are on alert and being advised to take appropriate caution,” Shire said in a statement.

]]>
Senators introduce wildfire funding amendment http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_News/20160204/senators-introduce-wildfire-funding-amendment http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_News/20160204/senators-introduce-wildfire-funding-amendment#Comments Thu, 4 Feb 2016 11:07:11 -0500 George PlavenEO Media Group http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160209963 Oregon Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden is once again working with Idaho Republican Mike Crapo on legislation to fix wildfire funding.

Wyden and Crapo introduced an amendment to the Senate’s proposed energy bill on Tuesday that would end “fire-borrowing,” where land management agencies shift money from other programs to cover the cost of fighting large wildfires.

Wyden described fire-borrowing as “budgetary quicksand” that drags down every program at the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management. The amendment would establish a new Wildfire Disaster Relief Fund — which is similar to how the federal government pays for other natural disasters.

A summary of the amendment says it will free up roughly $300 million in funding for active land management and fire prevention.

“We know that disaster-scale wildfires are going to continue to be a threat,” Crapo said. “We can better prepare for the increasing costs of wildland fire suppression by providing land managers and firefighters the certainty needed to plan and allocate resources properly without robbing from other priorities during each fire season.”

Congress passed a spending bill in December that increased fire funding for one year, but the senators said this amendment will provide a long-term solution. The legislation has support from 21 co-sponsors in the Senate, 145 co-sponsors in the House and more than 250 groups representing hunters, anglers, timber companies and conservationists.

The amendment also includes several provisions for forest management, including measures to fast-track thinning projects recommended by a collaborative working group. Collaboratives must include scientists, conservationists and land managers, as well as local governments, tribes and industry.

Projects would still need to comply with local forest plans and federal laws, but could move forward more quickly if they meet certain criteria.

Finally, the amendment includes several environmental provisions such as permanently authorizing the Forest Service Legacy Roads and Trails Sedimentation Program, which lets the agency decommission roads and replace other unnatural fish barriers.

Wyden followed up Tuesday’s energy bill amendment with another on Wednesday, this time working with fellow Oregon Democrat Jeff Merkley. They proposed requiring the Energy Information Administration to publish monthly data about new flammable liquids carried by rail.

The EIA already started publishing crude-by-rail data in March. This would expand the program to provide the same information for ethanol and liquefied natural gas.

“Railroads have become synonymous with shipping crude oil and ethanol, and in a few years may well become synonymous with shipping liquefied natural gas,” Wyden said. “Taxpayers deserve timely, transparent and reliable information on flammable liquids moving through different regions by rail, and the very real safety concerns that go along with it.”

The senators introduced these amendments to the Energy Policy Modernization Act, which the Senate is considering this week.

]]>
Holdouts at Oregon refuge have diverse backgrounds http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_News/20160203/holdouts-at-oregon-refuge-have-diverse-backgrounds http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_News/20160203/holdouts-at-oregon-refuge-have-diverse-backgrounds#Comments Wed, 3 Feb 2016 17:40:35 -0500 KEITH RIDLER and SCOTT SONNERAssociated Press http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160209964 BURNS (AP) — The four armed activists still occupying a national wildlife refuge in Oregon have shown no signs they are ready to leave more than a week after the main figures in the standoff were arrested.

Ammon Bundy led the group that seized the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge on Jan. 2 to oppose federal land policies and has repeatedly asked the holdouts to go home. The Associated Press has not been able to contact the remaining occupiers, but they have said in online statements and interviews that they want assurances they won’t be arrested.

Like most of the occupiers, none of the holdouts are from Oregon. Here are details about them:

———

DAVID FRY

The 27-year-old from Blanchester, Ohio, formed an online friendship with Robert “LaVoy” Finicum and helped the Arizona rancher self-publish a novel. Finicum became a recognizable spokesman for the armed group before he was shot and killed by police in a confrontation last month.

Fry traveled, apparently unarmed and against the advice of his father, to the refuge, where he often posted online updates. He told Oregon Public Broadcasting in mid-January that he planned to say goodbye to Finicum and return home before his father got back from a vacation.

Within two weeks, Finicum was dead, shot as authorities moved in to arrest Bundy and others on a remote stretch of road outside the refuge.

Fry has rejected Bundy’s call to leave, saying federal authorities might be forcing him to make the request.

“We’re still here,” he told an online talk show Monday that airs on YouTube channel Revolution Radio. “I never saw myself as a leader. ... We’re waiting for some kind of miracle to happen.”

In Ohio, Fry has several convictions for disorderly conduct, as well as possession of drugs and drug paraphernalia.

———

SEAN AND SANDY ANDERSON

The husband and wife moved from the town of Janesville, Wisconsin, within the last several years to Riggins, Idaho, where Sean, 47, opened a store for hunting, tactical and survival gear. Sandy, 48, worked at a gas station.

Idaho County, where they live, and Harney County, 290 miles away where the refuge is located, are similar in many ways. Both have large portions of land managed by federal agencies and populations chafing at restrictions put on that land.

Idaho County Sheriff Doug Giddings said the Andersons are good residents, though he didn’t know as much about Sean as he did about Sandy.

“She’s a good person, she’s just upset with the government,” he told Oregon Public Broadcasting.

Sean Anderson is facing misdemeanor charges in Wisconsin for resisting an officer, possession of drug paraphernalia and possession of THC, the intoxicating chemical in marijuana.

He also has pleaded guilty to a series of misdemeanors in recent years: domestic abuse in December 2010, disorderly conduct in 2008, criminal trespass in a dwelling in 2002, and disorderly conduct in 1999.

A friend of the couple, Lindsey Dipo, told the Lewiston Tribune newspaper that the couple recorded their will on Dipo’s cellphone before departing for Oregon.

———

JEFFREY BANTA

The 47-year-old has lived in Elko, Nevada, the last several years and worked in construction most of his life, his ex-wife said.

Banta graduated from Yerington High School in a rural town about 70 miles southeast of Reno, said Angela Ellington Banta, who still lives there.

Jeffrey Banta’s mother, Connie Banta, has lived in Yerington for more than 50 years and recently ran to fill a vacant seat on the City Council. Another candidate was selected last month.

Jeffrey Banta and his ex-wife have two children, the eldest a 23-year-old woman who is married and has a child living in the Reno area.

Ellington Banta said she doesn’t really know what her ex-husband has been doing in recent years and doesn’t want to discuss the standoff because she has “two kids who have been really affected by all this.”

]]>
Wolf legislation slated for Thursday hearing http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_News/20160203/wolf-legislation-slated-for-thursday-hearing http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_News/20160203/wolf-legislation-slated-for-thursday-hearing#Comments Wed, 3 Feb 2016 17:18:24 -0500 George PlavenEO Media Group http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160209965 A bill that would ratify the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission’s decision to remove gray wolves from the state endangered species list is up for debate in Salem.

Sen. Bill Hansell, R-Athena, and Rep. Greg Barreto, R-Cove, initially submitted slightly different versions of the bill in both the House and Senate, asking for the legislature to back up last fall’s controversial wolf delisting.

HB 4040 will receive a hearing Thursday in the House Committee on Agriculture and Natural Resources, part of the short legislative session that kicked off Monday. This comes as environmental groups filed a lawsuit in December calling for a judicial review of the decision to delist wolves.

Most of Oregon’s 81 documented wolves are concentrated in Hansell’s and Barreto’s districts in the northeast corner of the state. Local ranchers have argued for years they should be able to kill wolves that make a habit of preying on their sheep and cattle.

Delisting does not immediately change how wolves are managed in Oregon. The state’s wolf conservation plan still prohibits killing wolves except under very specific circumstances. Wolves also remain federally listed as endangered in western Oregon.

Oregon’s wolf plan — which was developed in 2005 and amended to include a compromise between cattlemen and conservationists in 2013 — stipulated wolves could be delisted after establishing four breeding pairs for three consecutive years. That benchmark was reached for the first time last year.

The Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife recommended delisting, and the commission followed suit in November. By ratifying the decision, Hansell said the legislature can help shore up ODFW’s defense against a new legal challenge.

“If someone were to argue ODFW did not follow what the legislature asked them to do, this type of action would help them diffuse that particular argument,” Hansell said.

Hansell further criticized the environmental groups that have already filed suit, saying they are unwilling to follow a plan that they themselves helped create.

“It’s frustrating to reach out and try to include everybody, and then when the state agency uses the best science and justification, support for the plan suddenly vanishes and we have a lawsuit,” Hansell said.

However, groups like Oregon Wild, Cascadia Wildlands and the Center for Biological Diversity disagree that ODFW used the best science in delisting wolves. They contend the agency willfully ignored evidence from independent experts who say the species is far from recovered.

Rob Klavins, northeast Oregon field director for Oregon Wild, said that by reaching Phase II of the wolf plan, ODFW was still legally obligated to use the best available science in recommending whether to delist wolves. They did not do that, he said.

“The concern is the state did their own analysis with what appears to be a pre-determined outcome,” Klavins said. “The state ignored the best possible science. In ignoring the best possible science, they broke the law.”

Asking the legislature to ratify the decision is an unprecedented and concerning move, Klavins added. Conservationists have not asked for an injunction while a legal review is underway, he said.

“This is simply piling on,” Klavins said.

The bill does not address any legitimate concerns regarding wolf management, Klavins said.

A five-year review of the ODFW wolf plan is expected later this year, he said.

]]>
Bill would let more pot businesses get financial services http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/bme/capital-bureau/20160203/bill-would-let-more-pot-businesses-get-financial-services http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/bme/capital-bureau/20160203/bill-would-let-more-pot-businesses-get-financial-services#Comments Wed, 3 Feb 2016 17:12:12 -0500 PARIS ACHENCapital Bureau http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160209966 SALEM — While voters have legalized marijuana in Oregon, state and federal laws still largely restrict banks and credit unions from providing financial services to pot-related businesses.

An emergency bill expected to soon be voted out of the House Business and Labor Committee would remove criminal liability for providing those services in Oregon, though it would give no protection against federal prosecution.

“Currently, marijuana businesses … have been mostly denied access to the banking system because, at a minimum, financial institutions that provide such services must spend heavily on compliance infrastructure and procedures to undertake the required due diligence review and monitoring of the business,” said Pamela Leavitt, of the Northwest Credit Union Association.

“Without the ability to access bank accounts, accept credit cards, or write checks, businesses must operate using large amounts of cash,” Leavitt said. “This creates safety risks for businesses and surrounding communities and makes it more difficult for local and state governments to collect taxes.”

The bill by Rep. Tobias Read, D-Beaverton, also allows the Oregon Liquor Control Commission and the Oregon Health Authority to provide financial institutions with confidential information on license and permit holders in the marijuana industry. The information would otherwise be exempt from public disclosure.

OLLC regulates recreational pot, while the Oregon Health Authority oversees the medical program.

Read said the bill would reduce the risk and liability to financial institutions and direct the Department of Consumer and Business Services to study other ways to overcome obstacles to accessing financial services.

“The voters of Oregon decided we were going to proceed with the legalizing of marijuana and cannabis businesses, and I think it’s clear that however one feels about that, that presents a number of problems,” Read said. “We can all agree that duffels full of cash are not a good thing.”

Maps Credit Union in Salem already provides some financial services to cannabis dispensaries, said Kevin Cole, the institution’s chief financial officer.

Cole said the bill is “a first step towards normalizing credit union services for licensed cannabis dispensaries.”

The legislation still can’t protect banks and credit unions from lawsuits leveraging federal statutes against organized crime. Such lawsuits have sought to stop the cannabis industry in other states such as Colorado.

The Legislature passed a resolution last year urging Congress to lift restrictions on providing financial services to the marijuana industry and to declassify marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug. That classification is defined as the most dangerous drugs at high risk for abuse in the Controlled Substance Act of 1970.

Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, and Rep. Earl Perlmutter, D-Colorado, last year introduced the Marijuana Businesses Access to Banking Act to allow legal marijuana businesses to access banking services. The legislation found some support in the House but has yet to receive any action in the Senate.

]]>
Audit will investigate potential fraud in energy tax credits http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/bme/capital-bureau/20160203/audit-will-investigate-potential-fraud-in-energy-tax-credits http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/bme/capital-bureau/20160203/audit-will-investigate-potential-fraud-in-energy-tax-credits#Comments Wed, 3 Feb 2016 15:42:28 -0500 Hillary BorrudCapital Bureau http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160209967 SALEM — The Oregon Secretary of State’s office plans to investigate whether poor record keeping at the state Department of Energy could have hidden fraud in the controversial business energy tax credit program.

Secretary of State Jeanne Atkins said the agency will hire a contractor with forensic audit experience to conduct the inquiry, after energy agency director Michael Kaplan acknowledged the lack of records in a meeting with Atkins, her top staffers and advisers to Gov. Kate Brown in early January. The state Audits Division is housed at the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office.

The business energy tax credit existed for more than three decades and drew little attention, until the Legislature and former Gov. Ted Kulongoski greatly expanded the program in 2007. The state issued tax credits worth nearly $1 billion between 2007 and 2014, when lawmakers ended the program.

Brown’s administration is conducting a performance review of the Department of Energy following news reports about problems last year, and the governor’s staff set out specifically to resolve remaining problems with the business energy tax credits. Democratic leaders in the Legislature also formed a committee this year to explore whether to overhaul or eliminate the Department of Energy.

Atkins said in an interview Wednesday morning that the Department of Energy might not have the documents necessary to justify the tax credits it issued, which companies and wealthy individuals have used to reduce their Oregon tax bills.

“During the course of that conversation, the director (Michael Kaplan) was very straightforward about concerns that the record keeping around the (business energy tax) credits was in many instances flawed, that the files that record all of the different processes that led to the tax deductions are not necessarily in great shape,” Atkins said of the Jan. 7 meeting with Kaplan and the governor’s staff. “What that might mean for whether there are problems with any of these (tax credits) is an unknown ... The question for us was, was it worth looking behind that bad record keeping and see if there are indications of something else that needs to be investigated.”

Atkins and her staff decided they should investigate. Atkins chose to hire a contractor in large part because state auditors already have a full slate of audits scheduled for 2016.

The state was supposed to issue tax credits to companies and government agencies only after those entities provided documentation they completed the promised investments in renewable energy and efficiency projects. But The Oregonian reported last year that paperwork for tax credits issued for solar projects at the Oregon Institute of Technology and Oregon State University appeared to be fraudulent.

Emails released by the Department of Energy Wednesday afternoon showed that after The Oregonian’s story, Kaplan presented Brown’s staff with a request for additional energy staffers to review business energy tax credit files for errors and potential fraud.

Chris Pair, a press secretary for Brown, wrote in an email Wednesday afternoon that “Governor Brown looks forward to this forensic review as a way to learn as much as we can to ensure any problems are addressed responsibly and carefully.”

Rachel Wray, a spokeswoman for the Department of Energy, said agency officials appreciated the Secretary of State’s decision to proceed with a review.

“We appreciate the Governor convening the meeting with the Secretary of State,” Wray said. “We have long believed a more comprehensive review is the best thing for the agency and for the state of Oregon.”

There were other problems, too. The EO Media Group/Pamplin Media Group Capital Bureau reported last year that the Department of Energy struggled to track deals in which the tax credits were sold to investors.

The agency also never verified the prices at which the tax credits were sold, which would determine how much capital gains tax the buyers owed the government. In September, a top administrator at the Department of Energy who was involved in both the university solar project tax credits and the tax credit sales issues resigned.

The forensic investigatory audit will cover a sample of business energy tax credits, also known as BETCs, issued between 2007 and 2014. The Department of Energy continues to issue tax credits to incentivize renewable energy and efficiency projects, through a smaller program that replaced the BETCs.

The Secretary of State’s Office would like to have the audit complete by Aug. 15.

The Capital Bureau is a collaboration between EO Media Group and Pamplin Media Group. Hillary Borrud can be reached at 503-364-4431 or hborrud@eomediagroup.com.

]]>
Task force recommended for recurring drought http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/bme/capital-bureau/20160203/task-force-recommended-for-recurring-drought http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/bme/capital-bureau/20160203/task-force-recommended-for-recurring-drought#Comments Wed, 3 Feb 2016 13:09:34 -0500 Mateusz PerkowskiCapital Bureau http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160209968 SALEM — Despite generous amounts of snow and rain this winter, Eastern Oregon is expected to continue experiencing drought in 2016 based on low soil moisture levels.

In light of this prediction from the National Weather Service, the state’s water regulators want to set up a “Task Force on Drought Emergency Response” to find tools for alleviating drought impacts.

The idea recently won approval from Oregon lawmakers on the House Committee on Rural Communities, Land Use and Water, which unanimously referred a bill to create the task force to the Joint Ways & Means Committee with a “do pass” recommendation on Feb. 3.

Reservoirs levels in Oregon and across much of the West are below average, which means it’s too early to “declare victory” over the drought that afflicted farmers in 2015, said Tom Byler, director of the Oregon Water Resources Department.

“We’re still not where we want to be, despite the good year we’ve been having so far,” he said, noting that the long-term weather forecast for spring anticipates above normal temperatures and below average precipitation in the Northwest.

The task force proposed in House Bill 4113 would consist of 11-15 members, with the governor appointing up to 11 members and leaders in the House and Senate appointing four members, said Racquel Rancier, senior policy coordinator for OWRD.

Members would examine short-term tools for dealing with drought, such as emergency groundwater usage and temporary transfer of water rights, as well as longer-term solutions, such as water storage, she said.

The task force would also improve information sharing among the diverse stakeholders, Rancier said.

The Oregon Farm Bureau is neutral on H.B. 4113 and would like to see resources dedicated to understanding the financial impact of drought across the state, said Mary Anne Nash, public policy counsel for the organization.

April Snell, executive direct of the Oregon Water Resources Congress, said the task force is a step in the right direction but she agreed that Oregon State University or the Oregon Department of Agriculture should be funded to better quantify drought effects.

Several committee members said they supported the idea but cautioned that the task force alone doesn’t solve the drought problem.

“This does not check the box. We have a crisis in water supply,” said Rep. Mike McLane, R-Powell Butte.

The Capital Bureau is a collaboration between EO Media Group and Pamplin Media Group.

]]>
Legislators work on competing energy bills http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/bme/capital-bureau/20160202/legislators-work-on-competing-energy-bills http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/bme/capital-bureau/20160202/legislators-work-on-competing-energy-bills#Comments Tue, 2 Feb 2016 19:15:18 -0500 Hillary BorrudCapital Bureau http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160209969 SALEM — Oregon lawmakers held the first hearings Tuesday on two major bills to increase limits on carbon emissions.

Legislative committees have not finished taking testimony on the bills. But lawmakers who support the bills said they expect to pass them out of committee and on to the budget writing Joint Committee on Ways and Means by next week.

House Bill 4036, which was written by the state’s two largest utilities and environmental groups, would double down on Oregon’s existing mandate to increase renewable energy. It would require Portland General Electric and PacifiCorp to use renewable power sources such as wind and solar to serve at least 50 percent of their customers’ energy demand in Oregon by 2040, up from the current state mandate of 25 percent renewable energy by 2025.

Senate Bill 1574, drafted by state Sen. Chris Edwards, D-Eugene, and Sen. Lee Beyer, D-Springfield, would replace the existing renewable energy goals with a new cap on carbon emissions and a system to buy and sell carbon pollution credits.

Much of the buzz around the legislation written by utilities and environmental groups has centered on its requirement to eliminate coal from Oregon’s power mix. But representatives of Portland General Electric and an environmental group said Tuesday that the bill would actually have a greater impact on the types of power utilities use to replace coal.

Varner Seaman, manager of state legislative affairs for Portland General Electric, told lawmakers the bill largely would not impact the company’s use of coal because it already committed to close Oregon’s only coal plant, in Boardman, by 2020.

Seaman said the utility also expects to stop taking power from the Colstrip plant in Montana in the near future, due to federal environmental regulations and other considerations. As a result, Seaman said the bill would impact the degree to which the utility replaces coal power with natural gas.

The company will still build new natural gas facilities under the bill, because it needs reliable sources when the wind is not blowing and the sun is not shining. But Portland General Electric would rely less upon natural gas for its baseload of power under the proposed mandates.

Rachel Shimshak, executive director of the advocacy group Renewable Northwest, described a similar impact.

“Without this bill, we might just replace one fossil fuel for another,” Shimshak said.

Seaman also addressed a provision in the bill that critics have said would reduce competition between the investor owned utilities and public utilities. Although the 50 percent renewable energy mandate would generally apply only to the two investor owned companies, the bill would prevent public utilities from acquiring any new customers from Portland General Electric and PacifiCorp unless they met the new renewable standard.

“We wanted to make sure that if customers choose to leave our system, that the renewables requirements of the state of Oregon follow with them,” Seaman said. “So there are provisions if you do a hostile takeover of an investor-owned service territory, that those renewables requirements will follow with the customer.”

The Capital Bureau is a collaboration between EO Media Group and Pamplin Media Group. Hillary Borrud can be reached at 503-364-4431 or hborrud@eomediagroup.com.

]]>
Lawmakers consider tweaks to pot laws http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/bme/capital-bureau/20160202/lawmakers-consider-tweaks-to-pot-laws http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/bme/capital-bureau/20160202/lawmakers-consider-tweaks-to-pot-laws#Comments Tue, 2 Feb 2016 18:50:59 -0500 PARIS ACHENCapital Bureau http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160209970 SALEM — Representatives from the marijuana industry came out in droves Tuesday to speak out on legislation to hone the state’s infant marijuana laws.

“This is going to be an ongoing process that probably goes on for several years, but I hope what you’re hearing is we are making a good faith effort to meet people’s needs,” said Rep. Ann Lininger, D-Lake Oswego, co-chairwoman of the Joint Committee on Marijuana Legalization.

The committee has moved a series of proposed changes to the law.

One of the changes would remove a two-year residency requirement to do business in the marijuana industry. Another would loosen restrictions on selling into both recreational and medical markets.

The Legislature largely prohibited out-of-state residents from participating in or investing in marijuana businesses. The proposed change would lift that restriction “to attract investments necessary for long-term growth,” said Amy Margolis of the Oregon Cannabis Association.

The association and other groups argued that limiting investments in marijuana businesses would severely hamper the industry.

Some growers told a different story Tuesday. Many growers said the market has become increasingly competitive and want the state to keep the residency requirement.

One grower said lifting the restriction would give an “unfair advantage against Oregon growers.”

“Residency requirements are important to ensure a functional system in Oregon,” said Jonathon Manton of the Oregon Sungrown Growers Guild. “OSGG believes they are also necessary for small business to have a chance of survival against large out-of-state interests.”

Another provision in the legislation would allow recreational producers to sell into the medical marijuana program.

That change anticipates an exodus of growers, processors and retailers from the medical program into the more profitable recreational industry when the Oregon Liquor Control Commission begins issuing licenses for recreational sales.

Some lawmakers are worried there won’t be enough low-cost medical marijuana available to patients. The pathway to sell into the medical program is one of the ways lawmakers are proposing addressing a shortage.

Lawmakers also have proposed making it easier for medical marijuana cardholders to share marijuana products with other cardholders, caregivers and dispensaries.

So far, about 80 percent of medical marijuana dispensaries have indicated they plan to switch to recreational sales when OLCC begins recreational licensing, according to an ongoing survey by the Oregon Health Authority.

Tuesday’s public hearing drew hundreds of attendees who filled the committee hearing room and an overflow committee hearing room. Some who couldn’t find seats sat in the Capitol’s lobby to watch live streaming video of the testimony.

Other provisions would:

• Decriminalize sharing up to 8 ounces of marijuana or 1 ounce of cannabinoid extracts with other household members who are 21 or older;

• Define the crime of “open container marijuana” as using the drug while operating a motor vehicle or having an unsealed or partially-used container in the vehicle;

• Allow offenders on parole, probation or other conditional release programs to use medical marijuana if they are cardholders;

• Change classification of certain marijuana related crimes. Export of marijuana would be a Class C felony if committed for the purpose of profit and otherwise, a Class A misdemeanor. Manufacturing pot within 1,000 feet of a school would be a Class B felony, while delivering to a minor, a Class C felony;

• Create a work group to recommend guidelines for prescribing cannabis and to issue a report to the Legislature by Jan. 1, 2017;

• Fund a pilot program to increase awareness among youth about the impacts of using pot;

• Allow agreements between the states and Indian tribes to allow tribes to use state programs to sell marijuana.

Several committee members also proposed amendments to the legislation.

Sen. Ginny Burdick, D-Portland, has proposed delaying a March 1 deadline for medical marijuana plant limits while the Oregon Health Authority completes its process for grandfathering growers who were producing on or before Dec. 31, 2014. The delay would only impact growers with 48 to 96 plants, Burdick said.

The Capital Bureau is a collaboration between EO Media Group and Pamplin Media Group.

]]>
#OregonStandoff: Justice or ambush? http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_News/20160202/oregonstandoff-justice-or-ambush http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_News/20160202/oregonstandoff-justice-or-ambush#Comments Tue, 2 Feb 2016 17:52:33 -0500 Angel Carpenter http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160209971 JOHN DAY — Reactions remain mixed in the county where Ammon Bundy and others were headed for a community meeting when they were arrested and one killed Jan. 26.

Whether for or against, or somewhere in between, the takeover of the refuge and the imprisonment of the Harney County ranchers, the John Day meeting and the killing of LaVoy Finicum are hotly debated by local residents and people throughout the nation.

Some are calling the shooting murder, the ultimate expression of government overreach and the abolishment of free speech.

Others are saying authorities waited too long to take action to end the more-than-three-week armed occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge that began Jan. 2.

Canyon City resident Tad Houpt, who organized the Jan. 26 meeting and invited the refuge occupiers, said he is planning another meeting, but he would not specify the date because he did not want the government “to assassinate some more speakers.” He said, after watching the FBI video of Finicum’s shooting, he was certain that is what happened.

“They’re using tactics of war against the people of Grant and Harney counties, and that’s treason,” he said. “When our government is at war with the people, that’s treason. The truth will come out on this in the long run.”

John Day resident Jim Sproul was one of many who stayed to speak at the Jan. 26 meeting even after learning the refuge occupiers had been apprehended en route. He said Thursday they were “ambushed” while trying to exercise their First Amendment rights and inform people who wanted to know what was actually happening in Harney County.

“Those people (the occupiers) were coming up to exercise free speech, the right to express ourselves in an open forum,” he said. “That message of free speech was stopped by the Oregon State Police and the FBI. There is a reason they did not want those people in Grant County.”

Sproul said the situation is far broader than the Bundys or the Hammonds, the father and son ranchers from Burns whose resentencing for setting fires that burned on federal land was a rallying cry for the group that took over the refuge. Sproul said it represented “federal overreach at its greatest.”

“I hope that out of all this we learn something,” he said. “We’re losing our people, our way of life, and now we’re losing our free speech.”

A group of picketers showed up at the meeting to protest against the refuge occupiers, and Sproul said he respected their First Amendment rights.

John Day resident Judy Schuette, who organized the group of about 50 picketers, said she planned to stay for the entire meeting but became uncomfortable after news broke of the arrests and the shooting. She said some of the attendees appeared to be agitated, and someone told her it might not be a safe environment, so she left early.

“I think there is still a lot of unknown ahead of us,” she said. “If that faction continues to be active with the group of supporters they already have, I’m very, very fearful for what’s ahead for our county.”

Schuette said, in a few short weeks, the occupiers caused an enormous amount of strife in Grant County. She said she could not imagine what the people of Harney County have gone through.

Another picketer, Adele Cerny, Bear Valley, said some of the supporters of the refuge occupation appeared to support violence if necessary to make their voices heard.

“I say that attitude has no place in a law-abiding democracy,” she said. “It actually tears apart a democracy.”

John Day resident Dave Traylor, who wrote a letter to the editor urging the occupiers to “stay the course,” said people have many different views about the situation. He said the occupiers were unfairly portrayed by the media, though he added they should have stayed in campers on the refuge land and not entered the buildings. He also said, if the occupiers would have stayed at the refuge, they might have been able to accomplish some of their goals, such as freeing the Hammonds.

“If they had just stayed there, I think they could have won some concessions, and that mainly being the Hammonds getting a new trial or being released,” he said. “Ted Turner wouldn’t get prosecuted for something like that if he’d set a backfire on his property (and it got out of hand). They wouldn’t have put him in prison for five years on terrorism. I think the Hammonds got a raw deal.”

Traylor said the refuge occupation was “born on frustration” with federal policies, and he’d like to see a return to using natural resources to better the watersheds, to boost employment and timber sales and to prevent catastrophic wildfires through good stewardship. He said many people are unaware of the underlying issues.

“Most people, it’s not because they’re dumb; they’re just woefully uninformed,” he said. “The best way to deal with this frustration level: Get to know the issues, so you know the truth.”

County resident Gordon Larson, a retired police lieutenant and rancher, spoke out at the meeting against the refuge occupation. He said local residents did not need outsiders to speak for them. These people, he said, don’t serve on local school boards or attend local churches or give back to the community, whereas many local people who work for the government do.

“The ranchers here have a strong enough voice,” he said at the meeting. “Maybe some of us feel like we’ve been mistreated by the Forest Service, but by God, we can stand up and take care of it as neighbors.”

Larson said he worked as an officer in a gang unit in his career, and the refuge occupiers reminded him of the gang mentality, where the criminals would claim a territory without the support of the residents to the detriment of the community.

Jim Spell, John Day, said he too attended the meeting to stand against the occupiers.

“My participation does not indicate that I support what the Forest Service does or doesn’t do, but we don’t need outsiders to resolve that situation,” he said.

Spell said he was not afraid of the occupiers but wanted them to leave the people of Grant County alone. He said he was disappointed the situation ended with bloodshed, and he hoped people could move forward peacefully.

“I just hope the community can move on and find some process to resolve all these feelings,” he said. “And I pray that it’s over with.”

Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

]]>
Judge: Petition for sheriff’s natural resources plan unconstitutional http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_News/20160202/judge-petition-for-sheriffs-natural-resources-plan-unconstitutional http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_News/20160202/judge-petition-for-sheriffs-natural-resources-plan-unconstitutional#Comments Tue, 2 Feb 2016 17:39:05 -0500 Sean Hart http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160209972 The natural resources plan created by the sheriff and a group he deputized will not be one of the items on the May ballot for local electors.

Grant County Circuit Court Judge William D. Cramer Jr. ruled Jan. 26 that the prospective petition for the local initiative failed to meet the requirements of the Oregon Constitution and ordered the county clerk to decertify the petition and remove it from the ballot.

Prairie City resident Frances Preston said she filed the petition on behalf of the Grant County Coordination Committee, a group deputized by Grant County Sheriff Glenn Palmer to create the Grant County, Oregon Public Lands Natural Resources Plan last year. The plan was not adopted by the county commissioners. The petition sought to adopt the plan and invoke coordination with the U.S. Forest Service.

Cramer ruled the plan did not meet constitutional requirements to include the full text of the proposed law — because the full text of the unofficial resources plan was not included — and to only concern one subject. Further, he ruled the initiative was administrative in nature, whereas only legislative matters are subject to the initiative process.

Preston said it was her first time filing a petition, and she plans to use what she learned to pursue the petition again for the November ballot.

“It’s all fair,” she said. “It was a learning experience. I already have a rewrite I was prepared to submit, but there wasn’t going to be enough time.”

County residents King Williams and Mark Webb challenged the initiative, which sent the matter to the judge to review.

Williams said voters would not have known what they were voting for because the text of the natural resources plan was not included. He said he is not opposed to many of the items included in the plan created by Preston and others. He said, however, the county already has an adopted plan in place, and any changes should be made through a public process involving hearings and community input.

Cramer noted the challenges also brought up points that “may be well taken” about whether the plan, even if it had been adopted by voters, would have been legally enforceable. He said those points, however, were beyond the scope of his review.

The committee deputized by Palmer to create the plan includes Todd, Elaine and Mike Smith; Brooks Smith; Judy Kerr; Billie Jo and Terry George; Dave Traylor; Roger McKinley; Jim Sproul; and Preston.

]]>
Sagaser sentenced to 271 days in jail http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_News/20160202/sagaser-sentenced-to-271-days-in-jail http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_News/20160202/sagaser-sentenced-to-271-days-in-jail#Comments Tue, 2 Feb 2016 17:36:09 -0500 http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160209973 Matthew Eric Sagaser elected not to withdraw his guilty pleas at his last court appearance and was sentenced according to the original plea agreement.

Sagaser, 31, Mt. Vernon, was arrested in October and charged with 29 counts related to domestic violence, including kidnapping, strangulation and assault, as well a separate case for drug and other charges.

He was sentenced Jan. 19 to a total of 271 days in jail with credit for time served and 36 months of supervised probation with no contact with the victim. He was ordered to pay a $600 fine and $6,728 in restitution to Blue Mountain Hospital. His license was also suspended for six months.

Through negotiations with the district attorney’s office, Sagaser originally pleaded guilty to one count of possession of methamphetamine, one count of coercion, three counts of fourth-degree assault and one count of strangulation Nov. 5. Before being sentenced, Sagaser requested a new attorney and to withdraw his guilty pleas.

“Ultimately, on (Jan. 19), Mr. Sagaser withdrew his motion to withdraw his guilty pleas,” Deputy District Attorney Matt Ipson said. “... Sagaser was just sentenced per the agreement set forth in plea petitions from November 5.”

Per the agreement, all other charges were dismissed, including one count of second-degree kidnapping, four counts of coercion, six counts of fourth-degree assault, four counts of menacing, nine counts of recklessly endangering another person, one count of felon in possession of a restricted weapon, one count of criminal forfeiture and two counts of contempt of court.

The alleged abuse occurred since July against the same woman in different locations around Grant County such as Dog Creek, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument and Sagaser’s home.

He was arrested in Canyon City, after the Grant County Sheriff’s Office and John Day Police Department worked together to investigate the reported incidents.

According to the indictment, Sagaser kidnapped the woman by secretly confining her in a place where she was not likely to be found. He reportedly committed coercion by threatening the woman to not leave an area, not tell hospital staff about the nature of her injuries and not tell a third-party about the cause of her injuries.

The woman was injured by Sagaser allegedly strangling her, striking her head against concrete, head-butting, kicking and elbowing her and shooting at her with a CO2 airsoft gun from within five feet.

]]>
Owyhee Canyonlands wilderness proposal unresolved http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_News/20160202/owyhee-canyonlands-wilderness-proposal-unresolved http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_News/20160202/owyhee-canyonlands-wilderness-proposal-unresolved#Comments Tue, 2 Feb 2016 17:35:34 -0500 Eric MortensonEO Media Group http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160209974 The occupation of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge may have been broken, but a divisive wilderness proposal remains unresolved in Southeast Oregon.

The underlying issues are familiar: anger over federal land management and government “over-reach” and frustration over loss of economic opportunity in the rural West.

The Bend-based environmental group Oregon Natural Desert Association, backed by the Keen Footwear company of Portland, has proposed a 2.5-million acre Owyhee Canyonlands wilderness and conservation area.

Ranchers and other Malheur County residents are dead set against it.

“Not only no, but hell no,” prominent rancher Bob Skinner said.

The Obama administration, which could establish the canyonlands area by presidential proclamation, has given no sign what it will do. Many people speculate the administration did not want to throw gas on the fire while the wildlife refuge occupation was going on.

“We don’t know where it is in the process, there’s nobody who knows that,” Skinner said.

The proposed area is bigger than the Yellowstone, Yosemite or Grand Canyon national parks, critics point out, and would cover 40 percent of Malheur County. Residents believe the designation would be accompanied by restrictions and regulations that would prohibit or severely complicate grazing, mining, hunting and recreation.

While proponents say traditional uses of the land will be allowed, a local group called Citizens in Opposition to the Owyhee Canyonlands Monument does not believe them.

Skinner, a fifth-generation rancher who leads the opposition group, said one faction believes ranchers and other landowners should “settle” with those pushing for establishment of the canyonlands.

But Skinner said agreements with “radical environmental groups” always turn out bad. While they say traditional land uses such as cattle grazing could continue, such assurances soon fall apart, Skinner said.

“Historically, every single solid time,” he said. “It starts collapsing on the uses. That’s historic, I can tell you.”

Skinner said his contacts among Oregon’s congressional delegation and others in Washington, D.C., indicate Obama will establish the wilderness and conservation area under the Antiquities Act, which can be done by presidential order and does not require approval of Congress.

A White House media staffer said the administration has “no announcement to make at this time” and did not respond to detailed questions.

Jessica Kershaw, senior adviser and press secretary with the Department of Interior, said in an email that the department has not made a recommendation to the White House, “but we know that this is an important issue to many, and we will carefully consider all input about how to best manage these lands for current and future generations.”

Brent Fenty, executive director of the Oregon Natural Desert Association, did not respond to a telephone call and email seeking comment.

A press secretary for U.S. Rep. Greg Walden, who represents Eastern Oregon in Congress, said Walden has repeatedly called upon the administration to say what it plans to do. Early in the wildlife refuge occupation, Walden said Obama could ease some of the tension by backing away from the canyonlands proposal.

“If they don’t plan to do it, they should just come out and say so,” press secretary Andrew Malcolm said in an email.

Skinner, the rancher, consistently distances his cause from the case made by the refuge occupiers.

“I don’t agree with the Bundys at all, period,” he said. “I don’t agree with their methods, especially with grazing issues. But nobody can help but say, ‘I can understand.’

“Greg Walden said it: You understand why people have reached the end of their rope. That’s why they’ve got followers.”

]]>
Oregon standoff leader stays in jail; no word from holdouts http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_News/20160202/oregon-standoff-leader-stays-in-jail-no-word-from-holdouts http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_News/20160202/oregon-standoff-leader-stays-in-jail-no-word-from-holdouts#Comments Tue, 2 Feb 2016 17:34:01 -0500 STEVEN DUBOISAssociated Press http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160209975 PORTLAND (AP) — The leader of an armed group that took over a national wildlife refuge in Oregon will stay behind bars after a federal judge called off a court hearing Tuesday to give his attorneys more time build their case.

Ammon Bundy’s attorneys asked for time to gather evidence to show Bundy had intended the occupation to be a “peaceful protest and civil disobedience.” They had wanted the judge to allow Bundy to go home to Idaho with a GPS monitoring device and orders that he not leave the state except for court appearances.

Meanwhile, there was no word from the four occupiers still holed up at the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in eastern Oregon. The holdouts, who have been negotiating with the FBI, had been posting frequent video updates online, but nothing has appeared on the YouTube channel “DefendYourBase” since Sunday.

They have said they refuse to leave without assurances they will not be arrested — despite Bundy’s calls for them to go home.

Bundy is among 11 people arrested in connection with the standoff that began on Jan. 2, when the group called federal land restrictions burdensome and demanded the government turn over public lands to local control.

All face a felony conspiracy charge of using intimidation to prevent federal employees from their work at the refuge. Only one of those charged, Shawna Cox, has left jail.

Bundy and four others were arrested Jan. 26 during a traffic stop, where police shot and killed Arizona rancher Robert “LaVoy” Finicum during a confrontation.

U.S. District Court Judge Michael W. Mosman still was scheduled to decide whether to free two other members of the armed group, Joseph O’Shaughnessy and Peter Santilli, ahead of their trials. A detention hearing also is set in Phoenix for Jon Eric Ritzheimer, a suburban Phoenix resident.

Bundy was denied release last week by U.S. Magistrate Judge Stacie Beckerman, who said he posed a danger to the community and might fail to return to Oregon for court proceedings.

While Bundy has asked the four holdouts to go home, his father insists the occupation is legitimate. Cliven Bundy sent a certified letter Monday to the local sheriff saying all federal and state police should be removed from the area and the refuge should be placed under local control.

The elder Bundy was involved in a high-profile 2014 standoff with the government over grazing rights.

The holdout occupiers said in their final video that Cliven Bundy was encouraging them to stay, and they agreed.

“He’s telling people to keep fighting, and that’s the absolute truth,” a speaker believed to be occupier David Fry said. “It’s a fight that’s going to keep going.”

Ammon Bundy’s attorney has said Bundy didn’t recognize Fry’s name and that he wasn’t a core member of the group. The other remaining occupiers are Jeff Banta and married couple Sandy and Sean Anderson.

]]>
On the prowl, No. 6 Tigers stay steady http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_Sports/20160202/on-the-prowl-no-6-tigers-stay-steady http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_Sports/20160202/on-the-prowl-no-6-tigers-stay-steady#Comments Tue, 2 Feb 2016 17:31:43 -0500 Angel Carpenter http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160209976 PRAIRIE CITY — The Dayville/Monument Tigers are at the top of their game, No. 6 in the OSAA state rankings.

The Tigers are also first in the 1A High Desert League, with a 16-4 overall record, 7-1 in league, followed by Jordan Valley (14-4, 7-1).

Save one loss to Crane on Jan. 23, Dayville/Monument is on an 8-game win streak.

The Prairie City Panthers gave the Tigers a run for their money last Friday in Prairie City, but the Tigers steadily gained ground in the fourth for a come-from-behind 66-65 win.

“We fought through foul trouble — Prairie City is a tough team,” said Tiger head coach Jeff Schafer, adding his team “kept cool heads and pulled through.”

The Panthers (10-8, 3-5) seemed to have the game in hand, keeping the lead throughout most the second half.

Prairie City was ahead by nine midway in the final quarter, but the Tigers remained steady for the victory.

Dayville/Monument took a 14-9 lead in the first.

For the Panthers, Wyatt Williams had two points, Dorran Wilson three, Levi Burke two, and Ethan Camarena hit two in one trip to the free-throw line.

For the Tigers, Hayden Schafer had two three-pointers, Tanner Walczyk had 2 points, Dakota Emerson earned 1 free-throw point and Tanner Moodenbaugh scored 5, including 1 free-throw point.

The Panthers’ shooting warmed up in the second, and they outscored the Tigers 29-15, taking a 38-29 lead.

Three was the magic number with Williams and Burke hitting two three-pointers, and Wilson scoring three off a steal for the Panthers, as well as Jordan Bowlus, Walczyk and Schafer scoring one three each for the Tigers.

Although the Tigers started gaining, the Panthers held their lead throughout the third, ending the quarter 50-45.

The game intensified in the fourth, and Bowlus and Schafer fouled out.

Dayville/Monument’s Cody Kluser and GW Clark entered the game, and the Tigers rallied for the win.

Coach Schafer said he was proud of his team, but added they’ll have to play better to win the district title.

Tigers player Hayden Schafer said he was happy with the win.

“It proved that no matter what cause, we can fight through,” he said. “They had some runs that put them up, but our second team proved that not just five beat them, 10 do.”

“It was a heartbreaker loss for the kids — they played so hard,” said Panther head coach Jonathon Gill, adding the team plans to “reboot and improve.”

He added, a key in the game for his team was 14 missed free throws.

“The championships are not won in December or January, they’re won in February,” he said. “We have a plan and a process, and we believe in our coaching staff, and we believe in our players. It was a great team effort.”

The Panthers came out full force in Unity last Saturday to take a 70-27 win over the Burnt River Bulls.

The Tigers hosted Adrian in Monument for a 57-40 win.

Gill said his team is looking forward to a big week of basketball at the Panther court.

They hosted Crane on Tuesday, past press time, and will host Adrian on Friday with the junior varsity girls playing at 5 p.m. for a half game, followed by varsity games at 6 p.m.

The Panthers also host Jordan Valley Saturday with the junior varsity girls playing a half game starting at 1 p.m., and varsity games at 2 p.m.

“We’ve lost to those teams, and this will be the measuring stick to show our improvement,” Gill said.

The Tigers host Jordan Valley in Dayville with girls junior varsity games beginning at 5 p.m. for a half game, followed by varsity games at 6 p.m. Dayville/Monument travels to Crane Saturday where games begin at 2 p.m.

]]>
Local author writes about family’s struggle with Nazi regime http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/People/20160202/local-author-pens-book-about-argentina-history http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/People/20160202/local-author-pens-book-about-argentina-history#Comments Tue, 2 Feb 2016 17:30:44 -0500 Cheryl Hoefler http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160209977 CANYON CITY — Ana Cristina Evans Burgess, a native of Argentina now living in Canyon City, has released her latest work, “The Evita’s Favorite.”

The true story about her father, Argentinian politician Carlos Evans Villanueva, tells of the controversial history between Evita Peron’s government and the Nazi regime in Argentina.

At the time she was born, Burgess’ father was the governor of the province of Mendoza. His term was cut short upon the military revolution of September 1955, and ultimately he was imprisoned and their family persecuted.

Burgess said growing up in Argentina was “living in a world full of threats.”

“The enemy was hardly visible; however, you could know they were there, always trying to set you up, which makes it harder for me to move forward,” she said.

Burgess said she had to learn how to identify who was on her side and who wasn’t and how to defend herself in a subtle manner. She said she couldn’t express what she wanted, thought or felt, always keeping an inner dialog.

The events led to the long struggle in favor of democracy. In 2001, Burgess honored her father in her first work, “Carlos Evans: Mi Padre.”

Following her father’s sudden death at age 66, Burgess left the world of politics and pursued a career in work and organizational psychology.

At age 47, she traveled with a cousin to San Francisco, and later married Ronald Burgess, with whom she lives in Canyon City. Through his encouragement, she expanded her first work and translated it into English, releasing it under the title “The Evita’s Favorite.”

Putting out such a personal story was sad, she said, having to admit against her will that many times she was a victim of her circumstances.

“I could see the deep emotional bond with my nanny and my father, and could understand the origin of the fear that still makes home in my heart,” Burgess said.

While writing the book, she learned to understand and appreciate her father’s constant fight to build democracy in Argentina, even though it meant enduring difficult times, both for himself and his family.

Burgess said with this book she has accomplished her role in the history of her family as Carlos Evans’ daughter, and as a biographer, thus achieving a pending goal in her life.

Her hope is that readers realize understanding the intricate world of politics isn’t a waste of time.

“What happens in that world affects everyone, including their loved ones, no matter whether they want to admit it or not,” Burgess said.

She would also like readers to see that choosing a life based on deep values is the only way to get away from feelings of emptiness and apathy.

“To have a meaningful life, people need to have strong inner desires that shape their lives with purpose and focus,” Burgess said.

Burgess has published two other books in Spanish on work and organizational psychology and job searching.

“The Evita’s Favorite” is available in E-book format.

Learn more about Burgess and all her works at www.theevitasfavorite.com.

]]>
Grant Union wrestlers push forward http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_Sports/20160202/grant-union-wrestlers-push-forward http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/Local_Sports/20160202/grant-union-wrestlers-push-forward#Comments Tue, 2 Feb 2016 17:29:53 -0500 Angel Carpenter http://www.bluemountaineagle.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2016160209978 BURNS — The Grant Union wrestlers were missing part of their lineup as they competed in Burns and Heppner last week.

At last Thursday’s Burns Duals, Antonio Dancer won both matches, and Jay Goldblatt also took an important win, said Grant Union head coach Andy Lusco.

“Jay has really come along this season and is a hugely improved wrestler,” Lusco said.

Grant Union lost to Crane, 36-27, and Burns, 54-10.

Fourteen teams competed in Heppner last Saturday at the Bank of Eastern Oregon Wrestling Tournament.

Grant Union placed sixth, just 10 points out of third place.

“It was a tight race,” Lusco said.

Clay Johnson won first in the 132 weight class, pinning all three opponents in the first round, and Goldblatt finished second at 126.

“We are looking forward to a strong finish,” Lusco said. “Our team is much improved from a year ago, and we hope to place well at districts, which are here at Grant Union, and send several wrestlers on to the state competition.”

The Prospectors will wrestle at the Pine Eagle Invitational in Halfway at 11 a.m. Friday and 10 a.m. Saturday.

The stats

GU at BEO Tourney

Braden Spencer (120), 3rd

Jay Goldblatt (126), 2nd

Clay Johnson (132), 1st

Antonio Dancer (138), 4th

Andrew Copenhaver (160), 3rd

]]>