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Who’s Hot and Who’s Not in Oregon Politics: Steve Novick, Chief Reese, Cylvia Hayes

Friday, January 02, 2015


Oregon State Capitol in Salem.

Every Friday, GoLocalPDX breaks down who's rising and who's falling in the world of Oregon politics. Check out who made the lists this week.


Portland City Commissioner Steve Novick

All Steve Novick wanted for the holidays this year was a plan to fund fixes to Portland’s aging streets that lasted longer than the neighborhood kid’s goldfish. It looks like he may have got it. It is a tax based on the amount of gas you use except that’s not legal. Instead, it assumes that your fuel consumption corresponds with your income. Very creative.

The venerable Portland Business Alliance has signaled a warmth to the street fee proposal. Powerhouse lobbyist Paul Romain, who represents the petroleum industry and has been a critic at every turn, has not yet suggested if his clients will oppose the measure. Hair salon owner Ann Sanderson has continued to be the face and voice of the opposition and indicated her plans to refer any street revenue plan to Portland voters.

New Laws

At the start of each year, and sometimes even in between, a new crop of laws take effect. As of yesterday, minors have some legal protection from prosecution for being intoxicated if they are seeking medical assistance for themselves or others. Additionally, minimum wage workers will earn an extra fifteen cents an hour. Go ahead and hide the bong from the cops for a few more months: marijuana legalization doesn’t take effect until July.

Portland Police Chief Mike Reese

Chiefs of police in Portland don’t typically go out on a high note. When he retires this month, current Chief Mike Reese is bucking that trend

Chief Reese was hired in 2010 when then Chief Rosie Sizer thumbed her nose at the Mayor and got herself fired. Prior to that Derrick Foxworth resigned as Chief after an inappropriate relationship with a subordinate. Then there was Mark Kroeker, brought in from Los Angeles, who lasted a tumultuous 3 1/12 years, ultimately resigning under pressure from the Mayor. Before Kroeker there was Charles Moose. Moose’s tenure was rocky at best and he resigned for a job that landed him in national headlines. You have to go all the way back to 1993 when Tom Potter retired to find a Chief that went out on a high note.

Kudos to Chief Reese for learning to deal with the various constituencies: the public (including the “ubiquitous critics”), the media, and the Police Commissioners/Mayors. He managed the politics so well it leaves many wondering what he will do for an encore.

Natalie and Edward Mallue 

Oregon Native Natalie (nee Heimel) Mallue and her groom Edward Mallue had less than a day to shift their wedding venue last weekend. Apparently when you get married on a military golf course and the Commander in Chief wants to play through, the little known clause in the contract you signed is invoked. The President plays through. 

The newlyweds, both Army Captains, didn’t seem to mind. They got an arguably nicer spot on the same course, watched him play through and took a congratulatory call from him.


Oregon State Representative-Elect Mike Nearman

Representative-Elect Mike Nearman is chomping at the bit to become a lawmaker. That’s good news. His misunderstanding of Oregon’s tax policy is okay. His taking to the interwebs to concoct a “parable” about the income tax kicker that he clearly does not understand is bizarre.

The kicker is this: every two years the state economist predicts how much revenue the state will take in over the next two years. At the end of the two years there is more than 2% over the original prediction, it goes back to taxpayers (and in some cases out of state corporations), even if the state is underfunding critical services.

Nearman’s example would be more accurate if the fast food place he was dining at was charging him 10% less than what it cost to provide his meal. It turns out they had 10 more customers in the day than they expected so revenue was up. They still had to lay off two employees because they didn’t have the money to make payroll. None the less, they called back and offered to spend money on a stamp to return a dollar to him. I think we can all agree the core lesson here is that Nearman needs better diet habits.

Portland City Commissioner Steve Novick

It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. City Commissioner Steve Novick is all over the board: earning unique honors of being both Hot and Not this week. Willamette Week’s Aaron Mesh wrote a cover story this week about the machinations that led to Uber suspending operations. The story speaks for itself.

ACLU Oregon

The American Civil Liberties Union – Oregon was in the midst of a search for a Legislative Director on the eve of the legislature convening. That’s bad timing. This week it was announced their Executive Director would retire after 33 years at the organization. Losing someone of David Fidanque’s stature would be a loss at any time. Good for the organization for having such stable leadership. Let’s hope the transition earns them honors in the Hot category soon.

Oregon First Lady Cylvia Hayes

Cylvia has used up all nine of her lives in Hot or Not column. Tell me you are surprised to see her name here again. The slow drip drip drip release of information is something that keeps adding fuel to the fire of a story about Oregon First Lady Cylvia Hayes roles as romantic partner of and policy advisor to the Governor and private consultant. Highlights: helping sneak her cat into a hotel and suggesting a state employee clean the catbox. These stories are getting downright catty. Meow! 

Christmas Trees

Last week one of the hottest things around was the Christmas tree. Today? There’s a mad rush to get rid of them before they disintegrate in a ball of flame like the Griswold family tree. You can use the occasion of getting rid of the most dangerous sign of Christmas by trying to encourage political change like a Portland man. You could also use it to help salmon habitat. You know what that means, right? More salmon for dinner for years to come. Yum.

Jesse is an East Portland resident, political junkie, snowboard fanatic, and former pub owner.


Related Slideshow: Slideshow: 14 Biggest Political Stories of 2014

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INVESTIGATION: Merkley Spends 78% of His Campaign Funds with Businesses Outside Oregon

In Sept. GoLocalPDX reported: While incumbent Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) talks a lot about his effort to grow jobs in Oregon, a GoLocalPDX investigation found that Merkley’s campaign spends millions of dollars of campaign funds with businesses in Washington, DC, California, Minnesota and Wyoming to name a few of the locations.

According to an analysis of federal campaign reports, Merkley spent $3,276,106  - 78% of the dollars spent - with printers, copywriters, designers and consultants outside the state. Only 22% was spent with Oregon-based businesses.


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Oregon Drivers Card, Measure 88 Fails

Measure 88 was voted down on Nov 4, meaning four-year driver licenses will not be available be to undocumented residents. GoLocalPDX reported at the time:

The measure was put on the ballot after a 2013 Oregon legislature passed SB 833 that allowed the DMV to issue driver cards to undocumented residents. Two groups, Oregonians for Immigration Reform PAC and the Protect Oregon Driver Licenses Committee, led the petition campaign to put the decision to voters. 


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Oregon Candidates and Their Biggest Donors

In Nov. GoLocalPDX reported: Oregon is one of only five states in the country with no limits on campaign contributions and it’s reflective in the hundreds of thousands of dollars that poured into statewide candidates' pockets this election cycle. 

As voters complete their ballots by Election Day on Nov. 4, they might want to take note of who gave candidates the most money and who might have their ear if they’re elected. From Nike Chairman Phil Knight’s $250,000 donation to Gov. John Kitzhaber to a $33,000 individual contribution for state senate candidate Dave Dotterer, it’s clear big money is a player this election season. 

“It (limitless campaign contributions) creates a breeding ground for corruption,” said Daniel Weiner, counsel in the democracy program at the Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University School of Law. 


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History of Insider Dealings Dogs Alberta St. Developer

In Oct. GoLocalPDX reported: The Southern California developer of a controversial project on NE Alberta Street has a track record of funneling money to officials who end up in hot water. 

Majestic Realty Co. is developing a 20,000-square-foot shopping center with Natural Grocer as the anchor store at the intersection of Alberta and NE Martin Luther King Jr. Streets in Portland. The site sparked controversy earlier this year when the city struck a deal with Trader Joe’s to build a store there. Trader Joe’s eventually pulled out over community concerns of gentrification.


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Federal Investigation into Cover Oregon Costs Ore. Taxpayers $146K

 federal investigation into Cover Oregon, the state's failed health exchange website, has cost Oregon taxpayers over $146,000 as of Oct 21. 

A law firm hired to represent the state in a pending FBI investigation has invoiced for over $123,000 and the state fund set up to represent employees embroiled in legal trouble has spent over $23,000, according to records obtained by GoLocalPDX. 

“The price for two years of gross mismanagement at Cover Oregon keeps adding up, especially because the current administration doesn’t have a problem throwing good money after bad," Senate Republicans spokesman Michael Gay said. 


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Ethics Commission Denies Governor, Investigation Moves Forward

On Nov. 7, the Oregon Government Ethics Commission denied a request by Governor Johns Kitzhaber to advise him on whether his fiancée Cylvia Hayes had broken ethics rules and whether or not she even qualified as a public official.

The Commission ruled that it could only give advice on hypothetical situations not situations that had already happened. This sets up a full ethics violation ruling.

Kitzhaber requested an opinion from the commission on Oct. 13, after stories surfaced in the media saying that Hayes had obtained unethical benefit from her duel role as a paid consultant and “First Lady” of Oregon.


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Oregon GOP to Demand State Ethics Commission Investigate Kitzhaber

On Oct 15, as the Cylvia Hayes scandal began to gain steam, The Oregon Republican Party called for an investigation by the state ethics commission into Gov. John Kitzhaber, over alleged ethics violations committed by the governor and Cylvia Hayes. 

The ORP complaint triggered an investigation into both Kitzhaber and Hayes. The party claimed both Hayes and Kitzhaber violated the Oregon Government Ethics law, or ORS 244.320. 

The GOP filing came on the heels of Kitzhaber’s request that the ethics commission provide an opinion on whether Hayes is a public official and subject to the ethics laws. The request was later denied.


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Is Portland City Council White By Law?

When GoLocalPDX launched on August 31, we asked the question, is there anyway for minorities to get elected under Portland’s commissioner system:

In the past 100 years, only 4 percent of Portland’s city council members have been racial minorities. 
According to legal experts, it is almost impossible in the current structure of city government for minorities to get elected. 

"When people see that there are no people of color represented on the city council, they automatically assume there are no people of color that live in the city," said Cyreena Boston Ashby, director of the Portland African American Leadership Forum.


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GMO Labeling, Measure 92 Goes Down

Oregon voters have rejected a statewide ballot measure that would have required the labeling of foods that contain genetically modified ingredients, according initial projections that came in Nov 4.

With 94 percent of the votes in, the measure is failing with a 51 percent to 49 percent margin.

Opposition to Measure 92 received more financial contributions and spent more money than any other political campaign in Oregon’s 2014 election, raising over $17 million and spending a total of $20.6 million.

The final tallies came in closer and triggered an automatic recount, but in the end the measure failed by only 800 votes.


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Hayes Scandal Could Implode Kitzhaber’s Campaign

In Oct, GoLocalPDX asked local political experts if the emerging Cylvia Hayes scandal might impact Kitzhaber’s political fortunes:

If the scandal over Cylvia Hayes, Gov. John Kitzhaber’s fiancee, continues to unfold, even with a locked-in-place electorate like Oregon’s race for governor, political tides could shift, political experts say. 
“Kitzhaber’s going to be in trouble,” said Bob Moore, owner of Moore Information, an opinion research group that conducts political polling. “Here’s somebody that calls herself the first lady of Oregon. It’s like, ‘c’mon, you have to be above reproach.'

"You’re embarrassing the governor, for one thing, and is the governor paying attention?”


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Kitzhaber Does Not List Hayes on Financial Disclosures 

In Oct, GoLocalPDX revealed that Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber didn't list his fiancee Cylvia Hayes in a 2013 ethics document that required him to name lobbyists he had a relationship with.

In a Statement of Economic Interests document obtained by GoLocalPDX and filed with the Oregon Ethics Commission, Kitzhaber stated that his household received income from two companies, Energy Foundation and Resource Media, that had contracted with Hayes' consulting firm E3 Strategies. 

But under a section that required him to disclose “any compensated lobbyist who was associated with a business with which you or a member or your household was associated during 2013” Kitzhaber simply put “N/A” or not applicable.


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Recreational Marijuana Legalized in Ore.

Voters passed Measure 91, making Oregon the third state to legalize and tax marijuana for recreational use on Nov.4.

Yes on 91 volunteer Martha Duff said, "Tonight Oregon won a great victory, decades in the making."

Supporters of the measure held a Portland party on election night evening to celebrate the new law. While a number of attendees were from the Portland area, some supporters made the journey from out-of-state to witness, what they called, history in the making.


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"Oregon First Lady" Role is Legal Fiction

GoLocalPDX reported in Oct that a “state ethics investigation into the actions of Cylvia Hayes will be complicated by the fact that her role as a public official and as “First Lady” of Oregon is nowhere to be found in Oregon State law.”

After the state GOP filed an ethics complaint, Cylvia Hayes will be the focus of an ethics investigation to determine if she, as First Lady, broke rules governing the behavior of a public official. The problem is, there’s no such thing as a “First Lady” under Oregon state law.

“There’s no such thing if you look it up in the statutes,” said Christopher Shortell, an Associate Professor of Political Science at PSU’s Mark O. Hatfield School of Government. 


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Biden Lauds Oregon Senator Who Resigned Amid Sexual Harassment Claims

During a speech to women on Sept 19, US Vice President Joe Biden praised former U.S. Senator Bob Packwood, the Oregon Senator who resigned in 1995 amid numerous accusations of sexual harassment.

During a Democratic National Committee's Women’s Leadership Forum meeting, Vice President Biden held up Packwood as an example of Republicans who previously championed issues now mostly favored by Democrats, such as raising the minimum wage. 



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