Portland’s Pressing Problems

Israel Bayer, recent “Street Roots” executive director, and Anna Griffin, Oregon Public Broadcasting news director discussed “Portland’s Pressing Problems,” at the Portland League’s annual Media Luncheon on Jan. 16. League member James Ofsink moderated the discussion.

Problems Bayer and Griffin identified included losing our young “brain trust,” the lack of a long-term vision with one-term mayors, the opioid crisis, climate change, an overloaded foster care system, and major needs for adequate affordable housing, sustainable green infrastructure, better training for police, and innovative ideas for raising revenue.

For our affordable housing crisis, the speakers discussed increasing the Housing Trust Fund. They also said city planners must consider the needs of the future— rather than just today’s needs — and the values of young people. They agreed that more density is coming, representing the way younger people want to live and the values of the tech business community, “so let’s do it right.”

They suggested changing our current form of city government — the last of this structure among large American cities (and something LWVPDX is in the process of studying).

Finally, Bayer and Griffin expressed their hopes for addressing Portland’s problems with a new generation of potential leaders, coordinated non-governmental advocacy, and new sources of revenue. Portland, they said, is still a “young city” where we can learn, innovate, and find smart solutions.

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February 14 Program: What’s Happening at Hanford?

Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2-4 pm

LWV of Clackamas Program

Oswego Heritage House, 398 10th Street, Lake Oswego

Free and open to the public

Ken Niles, Assistant Director for Nuclear Safety of the Oregon Department of Energy, will speak about the history and ongoing cleanup of stockpiled radioactive waste at the Hanford Nuclear Site — currently the most contaminated nuclear site in the country.

Niles manages Oregon’s involvement in cleanup at Hanford, the safe transport of radioactive material through Oregon, and emergency preparedness in the event of a nuclear accident or petroleum shortage. He currently chairs the Western Interstate Energy Board’s High-Level Waste Committee, is the State Liaison Officer to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, and represents Oregon on the Northwest Interstate Compact on Low-level Radioactive Waste Management, the National Governors’ Association Federal Facility Task Force, the State and Tribal Government Working Group, and the Hanford Advisory Board.

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Learn More about Homelessness

Our February 13th Voices of the Homeless event is a panel discussion by people who have experienced houselessness at some point in their lives. They will share their perspectives on how they responded and what civic strategies have been helpful in getting people back on their feet. If you have time to do some reading in advance, you might want to read The Residue Years, A Novel, by Mitchell S. Jackson (which takes place in Portland) and Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, by Matthew Desmond. Both books have been “Everybody Reads” selections in years past.

If you don’t have time to read a book, you might want to watch the 40 minute video produced by Transition Projects about Surviving Sexual Violence on the Street, which focuses on the extra challenges confronting women who are houseless. League of Women Voters of Portland Co-President Doreen Binder worked at Transition Projects during the time this video was produced, and she will moderate our panel on February 13. The link to the video is: https://archive.org/details/FINALPRINT

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Voices of Homelessness – February 13

“Voices of the Homeless” Panel Discussion

Please look soon for the recording of this program about the challenges houseless people have overcome and what they see as useful strategies for confronting this problem.

Tuesday, February 13, 7:00 PM (doors open at 6:30)
Multnomah County Building, 501 SE Hawthorne, Portland, OR

Speakers: Damian Blakley, advocate and artist; Melissa Castor, Hazelnut Grove; DeWanna Harris, Transition Projects; Lisa Larson, Dignity Village.

This program is free and open to the public.

 It’s fair to say that issues of homelessness have been among the most talked about topics in Portland for the past few years. We’ve heard from homeowners, city officials, business people, and non-profit organizations. Everyone, it seems, recognizes that having people unhoused on the streets of Portland is good for no one. The February League of Women Voters of Portland Civic Education program is dedicated to listening to people who have experienced houselessness.

The program will be recorded by Metro East Media for rebroadcast after the program, and will be available on the League of Women Voters website, lwvpdx.org. Funding for the recording is provided by the Multnomah Bar Foundation.

Parking is available on the street. Multnomah County Building is easily accessed by public transportation. Trimet options include bus lines 4, 6, 10, 14, 15 and the Portland Streetcar.

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Vote Yes on Measure 101

The League of Women Voters supports Ballot Measure 101. The League believes, “Every U.S. resident should have access to affordable, quality health care.” Because BM 101 involves a law that was passed by the Legislature, this is a referendum. In order to keep the law in place, a “yes” vote is needed.

A “yes” vote protects health care for one million Oregonians on the Oregon Health Plan, and lowers the cost of health insurance by $300 per year on average for 210,000 Oregonians buying coverage on the individual market. A “yes” vote ensures that Oregon maintains federal matching dollars for health care, potentially protecting nearly $5 billion in federal funds for Oregonians’ care.

Measure 101 raises between $210 million and $320 million for health care from the Oregon health care industry by increasing an assessment on large hospitals and reinstating a type of assessment on health insurance companies that had expired. Specifically, the measure adds 0.7 percent to the existing 5.3 percent hospital assessment. The measure also establishes a 1.5 percent assessment on health insurers, managed care companies including coordinated care organizations, and the Public Employees Benefit Board. The previous health insurance company assessment, which helped pay for health care in Oregon, expired in 2014.

Forty-nine states use the same types of assessments to fund health care. Provider assessments are a federally-approved way for states to pay for their share of Medicaid.[1] Furthermore, the health care industry in Oregon generally supported this measure in the legislature because they would directly benefit from the increased federal dollars.

The League encourages your “yes” vote.

Remember to Vote!
January 23rd Special Election

[1] The information about the specifics of Ballot Measure 101 is supplied by the Oregon Center for Public Policy.