by NW Spotlight
As 2014 comes to an end, here’s a look back at the ten most popular 2014 Oregon Catalyst stories. Counting down from number 10:
10. Are Oregon firearms background check records purged after 10 days? No – During testimony before the Oregon Senate Judiciary in February, the Director of the Oregon State Police Identification Services Section testified that they keep the information on approved firearms background check transactions for 10 days – and that after 10 days the information is “purged.” Anti-gun Sen. Floyd Prozanski accused Kevin Starrett, Director of the Oregon Firearms Federation, of being a “conspiracist” when Starrett questioned whether the claim about 10 days was true. Turned out Starrett was right. Continue reading
by Dan Lucas
Seventy years ago at this time the Allies were in a desperate fight to repulse Hitler’s last gasp offensive in Western Europe. From mid-December 1944 to late January 1945, American and other Allied forces fought in freezing temperatures to defeat the German attack aimed at splitting the Allies and taking the crucial port of Antwerp in Belgium.
According to a 2008 Flint, Michigan newspaper story, the Battle of the Bulge was the bloodiest battle of World War II and “the single largest battle in the history of the United States.” Half a million Americans fought in the battle and there were almost 90,000 American casualties, including a least 19,000 souls who perished in those six weeks. By comparison, 6,700 Americans have lost their lives in the fourteen years of the current War on Terror — the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Continue reading
by Sen. Doug Whitsett
On the eve of the 2014 election, I had high expectations.
I had hoped that the widely predicted national Republican wave would wash over Oregon and result in the kinds of leadership changes so desperately needed in this state. But as the first round of results were revealed, my initial optimism quickly faded and was replaced by the grim realism of what will occur in the many months ahead. It will soon become apparent to Oregonians that elections really do matter, and have consequences.
Although Democrats held majorities in both the Oregon House and the Senate during the 2013 and 2014 sessions, a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers was able to prevent the passage of much bad legislation. The 2015 session will be significantly different, as there will be an 18-12 Democratic supermajority in the Senate and a 35-25 majority in the House. While not a supermajority, that margin in the House means that only one Republican would have to side with Democrats in order to create the supermajority required to enact new taxes. Continue reading
Right From the Start
In a year filled with so much tragedy, conflict and antipathy we sometimes have to search hard for optimism. I went back through my columns over the past decade to remind me of the goodness of man and the reason for the season. I have borrowed liberally from those previous columns.
For our family Christmas always begins with Mass. It is one of those special days in the Catholic Church when the church is overflowing as Catholics and visitors join in celebrating the birth of Jesus over two thousand years ago.
The four weeks preceding Christmas are known as Advent in the church. It is a time during which we prepare for the celebration of the birth of Christ and it is a time best described as a season of hope. Our belief is that God became man in fulfillment of His promises in the Old Testament. That birth brings with it the hope that He will come again to redeem our souls. It is the belief in God and the hope for an eternal life with Him that provides purpose. A purpose that extends beyond the acquisition of comfort and material gains. A purpose that does not end with the death of one’s body. Continue reading
by Greg Walden
Plan to keep spending in check, rein in federal red tape
Speaking at community meetings in Lakeview and Klamath Falls, I gave an update on the bill passed by Congress to fund most of the government through September. Although the bill is not perfect, it includes numerous provisions that will directly benefit people across Oregon’s Second District, while also cutting discretionary spending for the fifth year in a row to a level below when President Obama took office. Getting deficit spending under control is a huge priority of mine.
The bill prevents a rushed listing of the sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act, a move that threatens to destroy rural economies just like the listing of the spotted owl did in timber communities. It also halts an increase in grazing fees and provides resources to help reduce the current backlog in processing grazing permits. And it extends payments to counties to help offset losses in tax revenue due to non-taxable federal land. This provides Oregon counties with much needed revenue for essential local services and ensures the federal government pays its fair share on land it owns. Continue reading
By Matthew Hayes
Earlier this month, auditors released a report questioning the Portland Streetcar’s performance. Ridership counts were inflated by 19%. Several additional metrics, including hourly vehicle operating costs and on-time performance, were either unreported or deemed not suitable for use. What went wrong?
First, too much data wasn’t reported. This includes measures for frequency of service, vehicle failure, and fare survey results. Other useful metrics, such as fare box recovery ratio, were simply incapable of being measured, due to a lack of data collection. Continue reading
by Sen. Doug Whitsett
When it comes to education, every kid counts.
This week, Klamath Community College President Dr. Roberto Gutierrez led a group of 15 state, regional and southern Oregon educators to McAllen, Texas. The purpose of the trip was to learn how that community corrected its dismal high school dropout and graduation rates.
I was fortunate to be asked to travel with the educators to learn how the combined Pharr, San Juan and Alamo Independent School Districts (PSJAISD) were able to so dramatically and rapidly improve their long-standing education and social problems. Continue reading