In bipartisan unity, police reform bills advance in Oregon
SALEM, Oregon (AP) — Republicans and Democrats on the Oregon House Judiciary Committee unanimously approved almost a dozen bills on police reform, a show of bipartisan unity in a Legislature that has been divided along party lines. The bills involve regulating use of tear gas, requiring a publicly accessible database that names officers disciplined for misconduct, and limiting arbitrators’ decisions on officers’ misconduct cases. Gov. Kate Brown congratulated the committee for pushing forward so many reforms in the wake of the death of George Floyd last May in Minneapolis. Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum said the package of bills can transform police work, and how officers are perceived.
Portland leaders to re-establish anti-gun violence unit
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The mayor of Portland, Oregon, and city commissioners have reached a deal on proposals intended to stem a spike in gun violence over the past year. The Oregonian/OregonLive reports the compromise, approved Wednesday, would re-establish a proactive team of uniformed police officers tasked with preventing shootings. The team would operate with greater civilian oversight than its disbanded predecessor. The move represents an about-face after city leaders in June voted to cut nearly $16 million from the police budget, reductions that included the elimination of the gun violence unit. The cuts came amid racial justice protests following the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
OREGON LEGISLATURE-RECALL EFFORT
Senate GOP leader faces recall effort for not walking out
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon state Senate Minority Leader Fred Girod faces a recall effort because he was among GOP lawmakers who allowed the chamber to reach a quorum last month while it debated whether to ban firearms in state buildings. Oregon Public Broadcating reports that Girod and five fellow Republicans were on hand March 25, ensuring the chamber had the minimum 20 members present required to take up business. On Monday, a Molalla residentfiled a prospective petition to bounce Girod from the Senate seat he’s held since 2008. To successfully force a recall election, the petition will need to collect at least 8,922 valid signatures from voters in Girod’s district by July 6. Girod said he was not worried and is focused on getting relief to his fire-ravaged district.
CHILD SEX ABUSE-SENTENCE
Man convicted of sexually abusing child gets 204 years
JUNCTION CITY, Ore. (AP) — A Junction City man who was convicted of nearly two dozen charges related to the alleged sexual abuse of a child has been sentenced to 204 years in prison. The Albany Democrat-Herald reports Michael Long was sentenced Tuesday in Linn County Circuit Court. A jury found him guilty in February of 10 counts of sexual abuse, five counts of encouraging child sexual abuse, three counts of unlawful sexual penetration, three counts of sodomy and strangulation. Investigators began investigating Long, who was then living in Tangent, after they were told he had inappropriate interactions with a middle school-aged girl on Facebook. That investigation uncovered a second victim involving a girl of elementary school age.
Fire, propane tank explosions destroy Eugene homeless camp
EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — Authorities say a homeless camp caught fire underneath a bridge in Eugene early Wednesday, leading multiple propane tanks to explode and destroy the tents and possessions of people living there. The Register-Guard reports Noelle Wade, who had been staying there for three weeks said she woke up in the middle of the night to flames engulfing her tent before other camp residents pulled her out. Residents say more than a half dozen people had been living there. The Eugene Police Department says the blaze “most likely” started with a warming fire that was too close to structures and a propane tank.
PORTLAND PROTESTS-PHOTOGRAPHER SETTLEMENT
Photographer: Mayor should denounce police protest actions
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — An independent photographer who said she was assaulted by Portland police during protests received a $50,000 settlement, which her lawyers say is the biggest after the city’s recent racial justice protests. The Oregonian/OregonLive reports Teri Jacobs is now calling on Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler to denounce the police force and their actions toward press and protesters. Jacobs, who won the settlement in February, released an open letter to Wheeler this week, calling for him to condemn the officer she said assaulted her and officers who have been violent to other protesters over the past few months. A spokesperson for Wheeler’s office said they had not previously been aware of the letter.
Oregon House passes new foreclosure moratorium
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A measure that would reinstate and extend Oregon’s moratorium on foreclosures until Sept. 1 during the COVID-19 pandemic has passed in the state’s House of Representatives. Unlike the bill that was passed by lawmakers last June, the new legislation would not protect commercial property owners — those who own more than five properties or properties with more than four housing units. The proposed legislation, which passed in the House 38-21 Tuesday, moves to the Senate. In March, more than 6% — or more than 65,000 Oregon homeowners — said they were not caught up on their mortgage payments, based on the United States Census Bureau’s most recent Household Pulse Survey.
Oregon governor expands vaccines to all on April 19
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — All Oregon residents age 16 and up will be eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine on April 19. Gov. Kate Brown says the state will pass the threshold of 2 million vaccines administered on Tuesday and is focused on vaccinating as many frontline workers and people with underlying conditions as possible in the next two weeks. She says people of color, who have been disproportionately affected by COVID-19, make up a large percentage of those groups. Hundreds of thousands of Oregonians became newly eligible for shots Monday, including frontline workers, their family members those age 16 and up with underlying conditions.