Rogue Valley News, Wednesday 4/24 – U.S. Supreme Court Appears To Lean Toward City of Grants Pass In Complex Homelessness Case & Other Local and Statewide News…

The latest news stories of interest in the Rogue Valley and the state of Oregon from the digital home of Southern Oregon, Wynne Broadcasting’s RogueValleyMagazine.com

Wednesday,  April 24, 2024

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U.S. Supreme Court Appears To Lean Toward City of Grants Pass In Complex Homelessness Case

Homeless rights activists hold a rally outside of the U.S. Supreme Court on April 22, 2024 in Washington, D.C. The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in City of Grants Pass, Oregon v. Johnson and Smith v. Spizzirri, a dispute over the constitutionality of ordinances that bar people who are homeless from camping on city streets. Homeless advocates protest as Supreme Court hears Grants Pass case - The  Washington Post

WASHINGTON — A majority of U.S Supreme Court justices Monday seemed inclined to side with an Oregon town’s law that bans homeless people from sleeping outdoors, in a case that could have broad implications for local ordinances related to homelessness across the country.

During oral arguments in City of Grants Pass, Oregon v. Johnson, conservative justices said that policies and ordinances around homelessness are complex, and indicated it’s a policy question that should be left up to local elected representatives rather than the courts.

“Why do you think these nine people are the best people to judge and weigh those policy judgments?” Chief Justice John Roberts asked, referring to the Supreme Court.

Taking a much different tack, the three liberal justices said that Grants Pass officials went too far and targeted homeless people with fines for the basic human need to sleep when they camped outside.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor grilled the lawyer for Grants Pass on how the city law essentially criminalized homelessness.

“You don’t arrest babies who have blankets over them, you don’t arrest people who are sleeping on the beach, as I tend to do if I’ve been there a while. You only arrest people who don’t have a second home, is that correct?” Sotomayor said.

The case originated in Grants Pass, a city in northwest Oregon that argues its ordinance is a solution to the city’s homelessness crisis.

An attorney representing a group of homeless people argued that they are involuntarily without housing because there are limited shelter beds for the number of homeless people in the area. The lawyer also said the ordinances criminalize homelessness through fines and potential jail time for camping or sleeping in outdoor spaces.

The town of nearly 40,000 has about 600 people who are homeless and the only nonprofit that can provide shelter can house only up to 100 beds, according to a brief submitted by the nonprofit, Grants Pass Gospel Rescue Mission.

‘Cruel and unusual punishment’ —- The justices are being asked to decide whether the enforcement of that local ordinance on regulating camping on public property violated the “cruel and unusual punishment” clause of the Eighth Amendment.

Theane Evangelis, the attorney representing the city, argued that the city is going after the conduct of unhoused people, rather than the status of homelessness.

“We can look at the law and it has a conduct element — the conduct is establishing a campsite,” she said.

The attorney representing the plaintiffs, Kelsi B. Corkran, argued that the ordinance is a violation of the Eighth Amendment by inflicting punishment for the status of being homeless.

“Although the city describes its ordinances as punishing camping on public property, it defines campsite as any place a homeless person is while covered with a blanket,” she said. “The city interprets and applies the ordinances to permit non-homeless people to rest on blankets and public parks, while a homeless person who does the same thing breaks the law.”

Corkran is representing Gloria Johnson and John Logan, who are both homeless.

Effects across the United States — The case could not only have implications for the city in Oregon where the case originated, but for cities across the U.S., particularly in the West, that have similar ordinances and are grappling with an increasing homelessness crisis.

There are nearly 327,000 people who are homeless in the country, according to most recent U.S. Census data. States with the highest population of homeless people per 10,000 people include California, Oregon, Washington and Montana, according to five-year estimates in the American Community Survey.

Outside the court, advocates gathered to show their support of the injunction that bars the city ordinance from taking place.

“Homelessness is a result of systemic issues such as a lack of affordable housing, exorbitant rents, and a shortage of well-paying jobs,” Sarae Lewis, a spokesperson for Community Solutions, said in a statement. “Arresting and fining people for sleeping on the streets is ineffective, keeps people homeless for longer, and distracts from real solutions like those we see working in communities across the country.”

Community Solutions, a nonprofit that works to end homelessness, was joined by other organizations that advocate for people without homes such as the National Homelessness Law Center and the National Coalition for the Homeless.

History of the case — The city is appealing to the Supreme Court after lower courts ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, Johnson and Logan, who are homeless residents of Grants Pass.

A federal judge blocked the city’s ordinance that prohibited people from camping and sleeping in parks and on public property. Grants Pass also barred people who are homeless from using blankets, pillows or other material to protect themselves from the weather while sleeping outside.

If that ordinance was violated, it carried a $295 fine that, if not paid, increased to more than $530. Repeat offenders could also be jailed for up to 30 days.

A three-panel judge on the 9th Circuit determined in 2022 that the city has such strict restrictions on anyone sleeping outdoors that it led to a ban on being homeless. 

That decision relied on a 2018 case, Martin v. City of Boise. The case involved homeless plaintiffs who sued the city of Boise, Idaho after it fined them under a camping ordinance.

The 9th Circuit found that the city’s ordinance violated the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment because it imposes criminal penalties for homeless people sleeping outside or on public property when they do not have access to a shelter.

On Monday, Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson noted that the state of Oregon enacted a statute that codified the Martin case, saying city regulations “of this nature have to be objectively reasonable as to time, place and manner, with regards to people experiencing homelessness.”

“It seems like the state has already precluded Grants Pass from doing the sort of thing it’s doing here,” Jackson said to Evangelis.

Evangelis said that the new law was not similar to the Martin case and that the city ordinance also takes into consideration the safety of the community.

“They protect the health and safety of everyone and it is not safe to live in encampments,” she said. “It’s unsanitary. There are the harms of the encampments themselves on those in them and outside.”

City’s argument — Evangelis argued that the court of appeals was wrong in its interpretation, as well as the plaintiffs, who cite a 1962 Supreme Court decision in Robinson v. California.

In that case, the Supreme Court deemed that a state cannot criminalize someone for their status of being addicted to drugs because it violated the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition on “cruel and unusual punishment.”

That case barred the criminalization of narcotics addiction, but not the conduct of the crime that someone who is addicted to drugs might participate in, such as using, buying, selling or possessing drugs.

Evangelis argued that the Grants Pass law is “so far removed from what was at issue in Robinson that it just isn’t implicated here.” She said that the city’s ordinance does not criminalize the status of homelessness.

Justice Samuel Alito said that the Robinson case “presents a very difficult conceptual question.”

“The point is that the connection between drug addiction and drug usage is more tenuous than the connection between absolute homelessness and sleeping outside,” he said.

Evangelis said that the case the plaintiffs are making is that camping or sleeping outside and being homeless are “two sides of the same coin.”

“It’s collapsing the status that they claim into the conduct,” she said. “So we think the conduct here is very clear, because it applies generally to everyone. The law does not say on its face, ‘It is a crime to be homeless,’ I just want to make that clear.”

Justice Elena Kagan asked if under Robinson, the status of homelessness could be criminalized.

“I don’t think that homelessness is a status like drug addiction,” Evangelis said.

Kagan said that homelessness is a status, because “it’s the status of not having a home.”

Evangelis said she disagreed with that because being homeless is a fluid experience that could change from day to day.

Jackson said that the city’s ordinance seemed to punish the basic need for sleep.

“What’s happening is you’re only punishing certain people who can’t afford to do it privately,” she said.

Corkran argued that if someone is violating the city ordinance, and is told to leave but they have no place to go, that means that person is homeless.

“So again, homelessness is not something you can do, it’s just something that you are,” she said. READ MORE: https://www.yahoo.com/news/u-supreme-court-appears-lean-215843827.html

 

𝙊𝙣𝙚 𝙁𝙖𝙩𝙖𝙡𝙞𝙩𝙮 𝙞𝙣 𝙃𝙤𝙬𝙖𝙧𝙙 𝘼𝙫𝙚𝙣𝙪𝙚 𝙍𝙚𝙨𝙞𝙙𝙚𝙣𝙩𝙞𝙖𝙡 𝙁𝙞𝙧𝙚

Fire crews and Medford Police responded late Monday (April 22) to a residential structure fire on the 2300 block of Howard Avenue.
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Upon arrival, MPD Officers started evacuating nearby residents and Firefighters began attacking the fire which had broken out in a two-story garage that had living quarters in the upstairs area. First responders reported that flames had consumed the vehicle in front of the garage, the garage door and flames were coming out of the single-access point.
 
Firefighters encountered very heavy fire and smoke conditions, and limited access but eventually were able to gain entry and knock down the fire. Sadly, the person living in the garage building did not survive and has been identified as 71-year-old Don Tersieff.
 
Investigators from MFD and MPD are currently working to determine the origin and cause of the fire.
 
We’d like to express our sincere condolences to the grieving family during this difficult time.
While the response units arrived within 4 minutes and 17 seconds from being dispatched to the fire, there were several access challenges including surrounding vehicles, nearby structures, and substantial amounts of stored material which all contributed to the intensity of the fire and prolonged access to the inside of the structure.
 
Based on records available from the City’s Building Safety Department the structure was originally built and permitted as a garage-only in 2005. Since then, the structure appears to have been modified and used as living quarters without updated permits and associated approvals. Additionally, the building did not appear to have working smoke detectors.    Medford Firefighters Local 824

 

The Oregon Cheese Festival is coming to the Expo in Jackson County

The event will allow residents to sample artisan cheese from across the region. There will also be specialty food, beer, wine and cider available.  The Cheese Festival starts Saturday 4/27 from noon to 5 p.m. for anyone 21 and older. It will also be open on Sunday for all ages from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m. 
Tickets are $25 and $35 at the door. MORE INFO: https://www.oregoncheesefestival.com/

 

Grants Pass RADE Search Warrant Nets Drugs, Guns, Cash and 3 Arrests

Grants Pass, Ore. – On Thursday, April 18, around 9:00 AM,  members of the Rogue Area Drug Enforcement (RADE) team and the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Medford Office executed a search warrant in the 1800 block of NW Burns Ave. in Grants Pass, Oregon.

The search warrant revealed approximately four (4) pounds of fentanyl, approximately $35,000.00 U.S. currency in suspected illegal drug proceeds, thirteen (13) firearms (three were found to be stolen), over 12-ounces of methamphetamine, an ounce of cocaine, an ounce of Psilocybin mushrooms, and other controlled substances.

Brandon Ruppel (47 years old) and Laura Berry (52 years old) were transported and lodged in the Josephine County Jail for PCS Schedule II, MCS/DCS Controlled Substance within 1000’ of a School, and Felon in Possession of a Weapon.  An additional occupant of the residence, Jason Ruppel (50 years old) was cited and released on multiple drug crimes and firearms charges.

The RADE team is a multi-jurisdictional narcotics task force that identifies, disrupts, and dismantles local, multi-state, and international drug trafficking organizations using an intelligence-driven, multi-agency, prosecutor-supported approach. RADE is supported by the Oregon-Idaho High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA), composed of members from the Oregon State Police, Grants Pass Police Department, Josephine County Community Corrections, and the Josephine County District Attorney’s Office.

The Oregon-Idaho HIDTA program is an Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) sponsored counterdrug grant program that coordinates with and provides funding resources to multi-agency drug enforcement initiatives, including RADE.  There is no additional information available at this time.  

May be an image of text that says 'Rogue Gem & Geology Club's Gem & Mineral Show at the Josephine County Fairground, in Grants Pass, Oregon Vendors Demonstrators Silent Auction Raffle, Kids Corner Display Cases Fluorescent Room Food Truck Friday, Saturday & Sunday Apr 26-28, 2024 ROGUE ഞොആോ Geology Gem& Club Friday 10 am -5 pm Saturday 9 am 5 pm Sunday 10 am- 4 pm CENILE ード Homeni 2 DHEEAN www.RogueGemAndGeology.com 物 PASS ΑΡΜΙΣΙΝ FREE facebook.com/GrantsPassRockClub/'

 

 

May be an image of 1 person and text that says 'SPRING PLANT SALE: SUNDAY, SUNDAY,APRIL APRIL 28TH Pellinater PollinaterProject Project Rogue Valley peeT NATIVE PLANTS THAT SUPPORT POLLINATORS! Pollinator Project Rogue Valley In the lot behind 312 N. Main Street Phoenix, OR wwwPelintoProjectRogueVally.o NATIVE PLANT SALE TODAY hledor Prajed 이라에 dNg'

 

Superhero Run-Hearts With A Mission  Saturday 4/27

 

Detectives Investigating Suspicious Death as Skeletal Remains Found in Rural Jacksonville Area

RURAL JACKSONVILLE, Ore. – Jackson County Sheriff’s Office (JCSO) detectives are investigating a suspicious death after skeletal remains were discovered Sunday, April 14 outside Jacksonville in the Applegate area. JCSO detectives and medical examiners responded to investigate. The rugged terrain and remote area required JCSO Search and Rescue (SAR) to assist in recovering the remains. Due to the ongoing investigation, the exact location will not be released at this time. Investigators are working to identify the subject and the cause and manner of death. Due to the advanced stages of decomposition, state medical examiners will conduct additional testing. This case is under further investigation with detectives following additional leads. No more information is available at this time. JCSO Case 24-2046

 

National Park Service approves Crater Lake National Park concessions contract transfer

Hospitality company ExplorUS to offer full visitor services this summer CRATER LAKE, Ore. – The National Park Service (NPS) has approved the transfer of the Crater Lake National Park concessions contract formerly held by Crater Lake Hospitality. Hospitality company ExplorUS will take over providing visitor services under the contract immediately, including:

  • Lodging at Crater Lake Lodge, The Cabins at Mazama Village, and Mazama Campground
  • Food and Beverage at Crater Lake Lodge Dining Room, Annie Creek Restaurant, and Rim Village Café
  • Retail at Rim Village Gift Shop, Annie Creek Gift Shop and Mazama Village Store (including gas pumps)
  • Lake and Wizard Island Boat Tours

“We look forward to working with ExplorUS as they invest in facilities, staff training, visitor services, and other improvements to make visitors’ and employees’ experiences at Crater Lake even better,” Crater Lake National Park Superintendent Craig Ackerman said. NPS and ExplorUS are striving for a seamless transition of services but ask for flexibility and patience from park visitors. The majority of visitor services in Crater Lake National Park begin to open for the season in mid-May. Information about services currently available are available on the park website at https://www.nps.gov/crla. www.nps.gov About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 429 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more at www.nps.gov, and on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. 

The Oregon Caves National Monument and Preserve is back open after the winter season closure.

Tours will be offered five days a week, Thursday through Monday, on a limited basis. They will run on a first come, first served basis between the hours of 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. Entry to the monument is free, however tickets for tours can be purchased on site or at the Illinois Valley Visitor Center. Meanwhile, Crater Lake National Park visitors can enjoy a free visit this weekend. Saturday is the first day of National Park Week which means the National Park Service is offering free admission to over 400 parks nationwide. That includes Crater Lake National Park, and it’s only on Saturday. The next fee free day after that is June 19. National Park Week runs April 20 through April 28 and NPS is offering up a list of themes for each day of the celebrationhttps://www.nps.gov/subjects/npscelebrates/national-park-week.htm Entrance fees will be waived on April 20, 2024, to kick off the celebration and to encourage everyone to enjoy their national parks in person. National Park Service parks, programs, and partners will host events and activities all week! Follow National Park Week on social media and join the fun all week using #NationalParkWeek.

 
 
 
 
We are so honored that Griffin Creek Coffee Roasters is donating a portion of their sales of 15th Anniversary Beans and Hardware through the end of June to FOTAS!
 
And, looks like we might have a new dog walking volunteer, as well! Yay!  Please support these folks and their amazing coffee!  griffincreekcoffee.com
 

 

David Grubbs’ Murder Investigation Remains Active

Community still looking for answers in violent 2011 murder of David Grubbs on Ashland, Oregon bike path The Ashland Police Department’s investigation into the murder of David Grubbs on November 19, 2011 remains open and active. Recently two new detectives have been assigned to look into new leads that have come in.

This case remains important to David’s family, the community, and the Ashland Police Department. As detectives continue to pursue these new leads, anyone with additional information is encouraged to reach out to the Ashland Police Department at 541-488-2211. The reward for information leading to an arrest on this case remains at over $21,000.
 
 

Fauna Frey, 45, disappeared in Oregon on a road trip, June 29, 2020, following her brother’s death  —

https://original.newsbreak.com/@ada-e-1668135/3304227455096-fauna-frey-45-disappeared-in-oregon-on-a-road-trip-june-29-2020-following-her-brother-s-death

PART 2 – Newsweek Podcast Focusing on The Disappearance of Fauna Frey From Lane County

Here One Minute, Gone the Next —– PART 2 – Josephine County Sheriff Dave Daniel joins investigative journalist Alex Rogue to speak with Here One Minute, Gone the Next about the disappearance of Fauna Frey, the growing friction between citizen investigators and law enforcement, and the lack of resources in missing persons cases. https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-disappearance-of-fauna-frey-pt2-feat-sheriff/id1707094441?i=1000630100040 PART 1 – John Frey joins Newsweek to discuss exclusive details about the case of his missing daughter that until now have been unavailable to the general public. READ MORE HERE: https://www.newsweek.com/exclusive-what-happened-fauna-frey-new-clues-uncovered-1827197?fbclid=IwAR3Z3Glru5lIgqiYXbs_nA1Fj8JuCIzM11OHSVHfwIucfq2f_G5y9y5bnmQ If you have any information on the whereabouts of Fauna Frey, call the anonymous tip line at 541-539-5638 or email FindFaunaFrey@gmail.com.

Help Find Fauna Frey #FindFaunaFrey FACEBOOK GROUP

 

 

Search for AMBER Alert Murder Suspect from Washington Ends on I-5 North of Eugene

BREAKING NEWS: Authorities say a former police officer wanted for kidnapping his son after allegedly killing two people in Washington state yesterday has shot himself after a police chase ended on I-5 north of Eugene near the Coburg Road exit on Tuesday afternoon. All lanes of I-5 South just north of Eugene closed on Tuesday afternoon, the Oregon Department of Transportation announced.

ODOT said that the highway was closed at milepost 196 due to police activity. Officials encourage using an alternate route. Interstate 5 is blocked due to the large police response for a high-speed chase just north of Eugene related to an Amber Alert from Washington. Amber Alerts went out Monday night for the suspect.

In a press conference Tuesday evening, Oregon State Police said that a trooper parked along Interstate 5 just north of Eugene spotted Huizar’s car around 2:50 p.m. The trooper tried to stop Huizar, but he sped away. Another trooper joined the chase, which was interrupted when Huizar crashed into another vehicle and lost control.

Numerous law enforcement officers responded to the scene. The suspect reportedly crashed near Milepost 197 near Armitage Park. Police said shots were fired during the chase. Oregon State Police confirmed the driver, Elias Huizar, 39, shot himself in the head at the end of the pursuit.

Troopers and Huizar exchanged gunfire before Huizar again fled south, OSP said; there are no injuries reported from the exchange of gunfire.

South of Coburg, Huizar crashed into a commercial vehicle that had been stopped for another crash. Huizar’s vehicle spun into the median, OSP said, rendering it immobile. Troopers found Huizar dead from a gunshot wound to the head, and 1-year-old Roman unharmed.

His 1-year-old son is safe in police custody, while the suspect had killed himself, according to authorities. I-5 is severely backed up in both directions due to the police response, but one lane is open now.This is a developing story and we’ll bring you more details as we know them.

RELATED: Officials searching for former Yakima cop suspected of double homicide, child abductionHuizar is suspected of shooting and killing his ex-wife on Monday outside an elementary school in West Richland, about 3 1/2 hours outside Portland in the Tri-Cities area. The shooting happened just before 3:30 p.m. outside William Wiley Elementary, according to WRPD.

Police then served a search warrant at Huizar’s home and found the body of a second victim, WRPD said. The woman has not been publicly identified, but she was believed to be Huizar’s girlfriend.

OSP Statement regarding AMBER Alert suspect from Washington
Oregon State Police – 04/23/24 6:48 PM

Amber Alert Press Conference: https://www.facebook.com/OSPsocial/videos/1916328708798968

The following statement was provided at this evening’s news conference in Eugene. 

Captain Kyle Kennedy, Oregon State Police

I want to start by sending our heartfelt support to the community in West Richland, Washington, a community dealing with senseless tragedy. My prayer is their community will come together to provide support and strength during this grievous time.

The conclusion of this search has been the culmination of the hard work and dedication of our law enforcement partners in Washington and Oregon, as well as federal contributors. Since the start, our goal has been simple—to bring Roman Santos home safely. We did it. Roman is in the care of Oregon officials.

Last evening, the Oregon State Police issued an AMBER Alert at approximately 11:35 p.m. at the request of the Washington State Patrol. This AMBER alert was in response to the murder of two women in West Richland, Washington, and the kidnapping of a 1-year-old infant – Roman Santos.  The suspect in these murders and kidnapping was identified as Elias Huizar. The suspect was reportedly driving a 2009 Toyota Corolla with Washington plates.

Today, at approximately 2:40 p.m., Oregon State Police troopers were observing Interstate 5 for the suspect when he located the vehicle southbound near milepost 221. OSP initiated a traffic stop and the suspect vehicle fled southbound. Two troopers engaged in a pursuit with the suspect vehicle at high speeds heading southbound.

Near milepost 209, there was a minor collision and the suspect vehicle lost control. An exchange of gunfire occurred prior to the vehicle fleeing again southbound. No known injuries occurred as a result of the gunfire.

Near milepost 197, the suspect crashed into a stopped CMV and stopped in the median. As troopers contacted the suspect vehicle, he was deceased of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The infant was located uninjured and removed from the vehicle.

Involved in the exchange of gunfire, was Superintendent Casey Codding and Sergeant Orly Johnson of the Oregon State Police.

The Lane County Sheriff’s Office has been asked to lead the investigation.

We are very proud of the efforts of the troopers involved in this pursuit today. Their dedication and courage are a hallmark of the character of an Oregon State Trooper. Their efforts today were paramount in bringing Roman home safely.

I want to thank our partners:

WASHINGTON: Kennewick PD, Paso PD, Richland PD, Prosser PD, Benton County Sheriff’s Office, Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, Washington State Patrol, Benton Fire Districts 1 and 4, FBI, US Marshal’s, Fish and Wildlife

OREGON: PPB, OSP, Hillsboro, and Portland FBI.                     

PURSUIT: OSP, Linn County Sheriff’s Office    

ON SCENE: Lane County Sheriff’s Office, Eugene Police Department, Coburg Police Department

 

The Oregon Health Authority (OHA) has scheduled an opportunity for public comments concerning the proposed merger of two major grocery store chains — Kroger and Albertsons. Public Hearing Wednesday 4/24 1 to 3pm

This deal could impact more than 150 pharmacies in Oregon, according to a release from the OHA.

“The OHA is reviewing this planned transaction to understand how it might affect pharmacy services in Oregon,” the release states.

OHA has convened a community review board. This board is hosting a public hearing from 1 to 3 p.m. on Wednesday, April 24. The public hearing will:

• Provide information about the transaction and OHA’s review;

• Allow representatives from Kroger and Albertsons to provide testimony and answer questions;

• Allow members of the public to provide comments.

To register for the public hearing, visit the OHA’s website.

Background

Kroger and Albertsons are the nation’s two largest grocery chains. In Oregon, the two corporations operate 176 stores, serving nearly every community in the state. Kroger operates 51 Fred Meyer and four QFC stores, while Albertsons operates 96 Safeway and 25 Albertsons stores.

Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum has joined the Federal Trade Commission and a bipartisan coalition of attorneys general from across the nation in acting to block the proposed $24.6 billion Kroger-Albertsons grocery chain merger.

“If big grocery stores are allowed to reduce competition this way,” Rosenblum said, “they can charge higher prices for food for no good reason and reduce services, including in their pharmacies. They can also slow the growth of employees’ wages, or even reduce some of those wages. Working conditions and employee benefits can suffer, as well. In short, there’s no good for consumers or workers in this proposed merger — and lots of bad.”

Oregon Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission investigators found compelling evidence that direct, head-to-head competition between Kroger and Albertsons has forced the two chains to compete vigorously against one another, both on price and on the quality of goods and services offered at their stores, according to Rosenblum.

Oregon, the FTC, and the other AGs filed to enjoin the merger in U.S. District Court in Portland following a vote by FTC commissioners Feb. 26.

It is the result of thorough investigations by the FTC and the states into the proposed merger’s anticipated effects, Rosenbaum said in a statement.

“We are doing this to protect Oregon consumers and workers,” she said. “We believe this proposed merger would hurt both, and we’re doing our part to prevent it from going forward.”

3.560 SOLVE volunteers celebrated Earth Day across 126 Oregon Spring Cleanup events over the span of ten days

Over 4,000 SOLVE volunteers celebrated Earth Day across 126 Oregon Spring Cleanup events over the span of ten days

Portland, Ore., April 23, 2024 – The Oregon Spring Cleanup, in partnership with Portland General Electric, concluded on Earth Day yesterday with resounding success. Between April 13 and April 22, more than 4,000 volunteers across Oregon and SW Washington gathered for a celebration of Earth Day, where they collectively picked up 21,981 pounds of litter and marine debris and removed 21,900 square feet of invasive plant species such as English Ivy and Himalayan Blackberry. Families, community members, neighborhood associations, youth groups, and environmental enthusiasts once again made the Oregon Spring Cleanup the highlight of SOLVE’s annual calendar

Oregon Spring Cleanup History — Rooted in SOLVE’s longstanding traditions, the Oregon Spring Cleanup merged two of the organization’s most cherished events—the Spring Oregon Beach Cleanup, dating back to 1986, and SOLVE IT for Earth Day, which began in 1990.

Oregon Spring Cleanup event highlights — SE Portland Eco-Disco: Litter Cleanup & Silent Disco, April 20th:

In collaboration with Heartbeat Silent Disco, this unique Earth Day celebration, in partnership with Portland General Electric, drew 114 volunteers to Portland’s Central Eastside. Following the cleanup in the Buckman neighborhood, where 800 lbs of litter got collected, the festivities continued with a free silent dance party, adding an extra layer of celebration to the cleanup efforts. Volunteers were provided with wireless headphones with personal volume control and adjustable fit, allowing everyone to enjoy the music while respecting the natural surroundings.

Cityscape Sparkle: Earth Day Cleanup at Sport Oregon, April 22nd:

This litter cleanup event took place on Earth Day and went beyond tidying up the neighborhood streets. 100 participants came together for a day of community, cleanliness, and local love at Sport Oregon to foster a sense of unity and enhance the local environment. 

“Once again, we were thrilled to witness the vibrant array of events orchestrated by our community, showcasing the power of collective action in honoring Earth Day,” enthuses Kris Carico, CEO of SOLVE. “This annual event series continues to serve as a beacon, drawing together volunteers and SOLVE partners from across the Pacific Northwest in a joyous celebration of our planet. From the shores of Oregon’s northernmost tip in Astoria, down the coast to Brookings, and extending to riverside locations such as Cascade Locks, Sandy, and Breitenbush, as well as reaching Baker City in Eastern Oregon, the spirit of Earth Day resonated through every cleanup endeavor.” Carico highlights the diverse range of initiatives, including the impactful efforts of the Portland chapter of Women Who Explore, bringing together 20 women for a Pre-Earth Day Riverside Cleanup at Kelley Point Park. A Girl Scout group also picked up trash along the Molalla River in Clackamas County and the Clark County Master Gardener group held an impactful Service Day in Vancouver, Washington. “These events exemplify the spirit of community and environmental stewardship that lies at the heart of SOLVE,” Carico adds. 

Photo Contest — There is still time for volunteers and event leaders to send in the pictures they have taken during their cleanup events and habitat restoration projects. Everyone who submits their photos and videos by 
April 28 will enter the SOLVE photo contest with chances to win a 1-year AAA membership. Ways to enter include tagging SOLVE on Facebook or Instagram, using #OregonSpringCleanup2024, or sending us their footage via email to info@solveoregon.org. SOLVE likes to see volunteers in action, before and after cleanup shots, the largest and tiniest items you’ve picked up, and most importantly, your smiling faces!

Anyone who couldn’t attend an Oregon Spring Cleanup event this year can support SOLVE by individual giving. A donation of any size helps SOLVE to host more events year after year and to provide volunteers with free supplies, event leader training, and all the support they need to run a successful event.

Oregon Spring Cleanup Sponsors 2024 — Along with Portland General Electric, other event sponsors include Clean Water Services, AAA Oregon/Idaho, Fred Meyer, Metro, Oregon Parks and Recreation Department, KOIN, The Oregonian, The Standard, Swire Coca-Cola, Holman, Demarini-Wilson, TriMet, PepsiCo, and Wells Fargo.

About SOLVE  — SOLVE is a statewide non-profit organization that brings people together to improve our environment and build a legacy of stewardship. Since 1969, the organization has grown from a small, grassroots group to a national model for volunteer action. Today, SOLVE mobilizes and trains tens of thousands of volunteers of all ages across Oregon and Southwest Washington to clean and restore our neighborhoods and natural areas and to build a legacy of stewardship for our state. Visit solveoregon.org for more information. 

Report: As health care costs increase, Oregon patients are paying more in deductibles and copays

Oregon Health Authority furthers commitment to helping make healthcare more affordable across state

(PORTLAND, Ore. –) According to an Oregon Health Authority (OHA) report out today, the amount that Oregonians with commercial and Medicare Advantage insurance paid in deductibles, copays and co-insurance increased more than 17 percent from 2015 to 2022. As health care costs continue to grow, the amount that people with health insurance pay for their care – known as patient responsibility or patient cost sharing – is also rising.

On average, in 2022, people in Oregon with commercial health insurance were responsible for 13.4% of their total health care costs, and people with Medicare Advantage insurance were responsible for 9.1% of their total health care costs. This does not include how much people pay for their health insurance premiums.

Over the past several years, patient cost sharing increased by 17.4% for commercially insured Oregonians and 17.7% for those with Medicare Advantage insurance. That growth was driven primarily by increasing deductibles in the commercial market and co-insurance for prescription drugs in the Medicare Advantage market.

At least 28 percent of Oregonians were considered underinsured in 2021, meaning that even though they have health insurance, it was too expensive for them to use.

“Too many Oregonians are struggling to afford their health care, even as more than 95 percent of people in the state now have health coverage,” said OHA Director, Dr. Sejal Hathi. “This report provides more information about how much people in Oregon are paying for health care and the reasons for those cost increases. Health insurance should open the door to care, but instead, we know that even moderate increases in cost sharing can thwart access for those who need it most. OHA will continue to work both to rein in health care costs and to protect and expand access to care.”

What is Patient Cost Sharing? — When an individual or a household buys healthcare insurance, they agree to a certain set of arrangements for services are covered by the health plan and how much of the cost the health plan will pay. The portion of the cost of covered services that the patient is responsible for is “patient cost sharing.”

Unlike health insurance premiums, which are paid to the health plan whether any services are used or not, cost sharing only applies when services are used. Examples of patient cost sharing are deductibles, copays and co-insurance.

Report Findings — The report shows that people in Oregon with commercial health insurance paid for 13.6% of their total health care costs on average in 2022, with more than half of that going toward deductibles. Commercial deductibles grew 31.9% between 2015-2022, faster than the growth in commercial co-insurance (19.2%) and copays (4.3%).

This is in part due to the increase in number of people who have a high-deductible health plan. People with high deductible health plans are responsible for 22.9% of their total health care costs, even though their average annual health care costs were lower.

The report also shows that in 2022, people in Oregon with Medicare Advantage insurance paid 9.1% of their total health care costs, on average. More than 60 percent of Medicare Advantage cost sharing was in the form of copays and less than 5 percent was paid in deductibles.

In the commercial market, almost 40% of the cost sharing in 2022 was for professional services like a doctor’s visit. In the Medicare Advantage market, almost 40% of the cost sharing in 2022 was for prescription drugs, with people paying increasingly more in co-insurance for specialty drugs.

For More Information — OHA presented preliminary findings on patient cost sharing in an educational webinar in March. The recording from that webinar is available online here. View the patient cost sharing analysis webinar slides here.

The Cost Growth Target Advisory Committee meets each month to discuss and plan strategies for increased health care affordability.

Explore the patient cost sharing data in an interactive online dashboard and find the full patient cost sharing report online  here.

Portland Woman Wins $1 Million in Oregon Lottery’s Raffle

Salem, Ore. – Tucked away with a stack of other tickets in a Tupperware container was this year’s $1 million Raffle ticket. Leslie Carr, 52, of Portland claimed the prize on Monday after she brought her pile of tickets to the retailer where she buys them – the Fred Meyer in Happy Valley. 

“I had no idea I was the winner,” said Carr, who works as a medical receptionist. “If it weren’t for the billion dollar Powerball winner making news, I would have forgot. We don’t check our tickets.”

After scanning a few dozen tickets for other draw games in the store, the last one was the winning Raffle ticket, drawn on March 15. When the machine came up with a message that she needed to go an Oregon Lottery office, she asked a staff member at the store to double check. 

“I heard him say, ‘Oh, I can’t cash this because your prize is worth over $1,000,’” she said. “That’s when I started getting butterflies.” 

Carr plans to use the money to pay off the mortgage on the home she shares with her husband, calling it “a dream come true.” A new truck to replace the one she currently drives with a broken windshield is also on her wish list, along with a vacation to Hawaii. 

Carr said she regularly plays the annual Raffle and has never won. Prizes for the Raffle include the $1 million top prize, along with 300 prizes of $500, and 1,500 prizes of $100. The Raffle offers the best odds of any Oregon Lottery game to win $1 million – 1 in 250,000. Overall odds of winning a prize are 1 in 138.8. The Oregon Lottery’s Raffle game went on sale December 31, 2023, and all 250,000 tickets were sold out by March 8, 2024. 

The Oregon Lottery reminds players to always sign the back of their Lottery tickets, regardless of the game. In the event of winning a jackpot, they should consult with a trusted financial planner or similar professional to develop a plan for their winnings. 

Since the Oregon Lottery began selling tickets on April 25, 1985, it has earned nearly $15.5 billion for economic development, public education, outdoor school, state parks, veteran services, and watershed enhancements. For more information on the Oregon Lottery visit www.oregonlottery.org

Governor Kotek Announces State Commitment to National Semiconductor Technology Center

Coalition of industry, state and local government, and higher education representatives will coordinate the development of a proposal to the U.S. Department of Commerce

oday, at an event celebrating Intel’s plans to invest more than $36 billion to expand and modernize operations at the company’s global center for research and development, Governor Tina Kotek announced that the State of Oregon in collaboration with industry, higher education, and federal and local governments, will pursue federal semiconductor research and development funds to form a National Semiconductor Technology Center (NSTC) affiliated technical center.

“With our existing workforce hub in Washington County and a robust semiconductor manufacturing and exporting industry, Oregon has set a strong foundation as a decades-long national center of research and development,” Governor Kotek said. “With support from industry leaders, the federal delegation, our universities, and local leadership, Oregon is excited for the potential to host a NSTC-affiliated technical center and advance our strong track record as a leader in the semiconductor supply chain.”

“The Silicon Forest and Oregon’s long and proven record of semiconductor innovation and manufacturing makes our state a naturally perfect fit for this center,” Senator Ron Wyden said. “I worked to pass the federal CHIPS Act in no small part because of standout job-generating opportunities just like this national semiconductor technology center for Oregon that’s uniting our state to take full advantage of our leading-edge position in the global semiconductor industry.”

“Oregon’s rich history in semiconductor manufacturing and its commitment to fostering innovation make it an ideal location for an NSTC technical center,” said Ann Kelleher, Executive Vice President of Foundry Technology Development at Intel Corporation. “As Intel continues to invest in cutting-edge technology and expand our operations in Oregon, we are laying the foundation for the future of semiconductor research and development in the United States, ensuring our nation remains at the forefront of technological advancement.”

“The semiconductor cluster in Hillsboro’s Silicon Forest is one of three places in the world – and the only one in the United States – producing leading edge research and development for semiconductor manufacturing,” City of Hillsboro Mayor Steve Callaway said. “As the nation’s largest and most advanced semiconductor hub, Oregon offers the National Semiconductor Technology Center the greatest competitive advantage to further the interests of our local community, the industry, and the nation.”  

The Biden-Harris Administration announced this past February that it expects to invest over $5 billion in semiconductor-related research, development, and workforce needs, including the National Semiconductor Technology Center (NSTC), to advance President Biden’s goals of driving research and development in the United States.

The NSTC technical center, which will focus on manufacturing related research and development, will feature an Advanced Lithography Center (ALC) located at Intel’s Hillsboro site, with state-of-the-art lithography tools necessary to develop the next generations of leading-edge semiconductor technology. The technical center will invite ecosystem partners, academic researchers, and advanced chip design teams to bring their latest tools, materials and prototypes to work at the leading edge of semiconductor technology.

Intel achieved a significant industry milestone by securing the world’s first commercial-use High Numerical Aperture lithography tool at its research and development facilities in Hillsboro, Oregon. Known as “High-NA EUV”, this is the most advanced semiconductor processing tool in the world, and perhaps the most complex piece of manufacturing equipment ever built.

The Oregon CHIPS Act (SB 4) dedicated $240 million to develop a grant and loan program to support semiconductor businesses looking to expand in Oregon. The state funds provide the opportunity to attract significant federal funding from the CHIPS and Science Act that Congress passed and President Biden signed in August 2022. The Oregon CHIPS Act also funds $10 million to help communities prepare land for manufacturing sites and $10 million for a University Innovation Research Fund that will help public universities secure federal research grants. The Governor’s office, in partnership with Business Oregon, has been working to distribute the funding to projects.

Editor’s Note: The NSTC Oregon team includes the Governor’s Office, Senator Wyden’s Office, Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici’s Office, Business Oregon, Intel, the Oregon Business Council, the City of Hillsboro, Portland State University, and Oregon State University.

ODOT Reminding The Public That Political Signs Posted Incorrectly Will Be Removed

The Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) would like to remind the public that political signs posted incorrectly will be removed.

ODOT will remove improperly placed signs like the one above and hold them at the nearest ODOT maintenance yard. Photo courtesy of the Oregon Department of Transportation.

During election season ODOT tells us they receive complaints from the public and candidates regarding the improper placement of political signs on the state highway rights of way, where only official traffic control devices are allowed. Improperly placed signs can distract drivers and block road safety messages. Wrongly placed signs will be taken down and held at a nearby ODOT district maintenance office for 30 days. To reclaim signs, go here to find the nearest ODOT maintenance office. Signs are prohibited on trees, utility poles, fence posts and natural features within highway right-of-ways, ODOT tells us. They also are prohibited within view of a designated scenic area. State highway width rights of way can vary considerably depending on the location. Check with your local ODOT district maintenance office to determine whether placing a sign is on private property or highway right of way. Local municipalities may also regulate the placement of political signs. Political signs are allowed on private property within view of state highways with the following restrictions:

  • Signs are limited to 12 square feet but can be up to 32 square feet with a variance from our Oregon Advertising Sign program
  • Signs cannot have flashing or intermittent lights, or animated or moving parts
  • Signs must not imitate official highway signs or devices
  • Signs are not allowed in scenic corridors
  • No payment or compensation of any kind can be exchanged for either the placement of or the message on temporary signs, including political signs, which are visible to a state highway

For more information go to ODOT’s Outdoor Advertising Sign Program.

Oregon Secretary of State releases 2024 Civic Engagement Toolkit

Oregon Secretary of State LaVonne Griffin-Valade released a civic engagement toolkit today, aimed at helping organizations do voter registration and voter turnout work in the 2024 elections. The tools included in the 2024 toolkit are official, non-partisan, research-backed and free to use with or without attribution to our office. Download the 2024 Civic Engagement Toolkit here.

 

Oregon Offers Electric Car Rebates Again – Apply Now Until June 3rd

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Due to high demand and limited funding, OCVRP will be open for a short time in 2024. Vehicles must be purchased or leased between April 3, 2024, to June 3, 2024, to be eligible for a rebate. Applicants have six months from their date of purchase or lease to apply. Low- and moderate-income households can prequalify for the $5,000 Charge Ahead rebate by completing the application now at https://apps.oregon.gov/DEQ/Voucher/apply.

Oregon to Honor Fallen Law Enforcement Officers May 7th, 2024

Every year, the Oregon Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony honors the state’s law enforcement officers who have died in the line of duty. This year’s ceremony will be held Tuesday, May 7 at 1 p.m. at the Oregon Public Safety Academy in Salem. The annual event commemorates the more than 190 fallen officers who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to the state of Oregon since the 1860s. This includes law enforcement, corrections, and parole and probation officers from city, county, state, tribal and federal law enforcement agencies. The Department of Public Safety Standards and Training is proud to host the ceremony in partnership with the Oregon Law Enforcement Memorial Fund, Oregon Concerns of Police Survivors (C.O.P.S.), Oregon Fallen Badge Foundation, and various statewide law enforcement associations.

 

 

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