George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and all who came before
A message from Rosa Colquitt, PhD, Chair of the Democratic Party of Oregon’s Black Caucus On May 26, most Americans woke up to the news of a disturbing video showing 46-year-old George Floyd pinned to the concrete with the knee of a Minneapolis police officer on his neck. After more than seven minutes being pinned under the pressure of the officer’s knee, Mr. Floyd ultimately died. My reaction as a Black mother was to hold my adult son to my bosom, to never release him, to protect him with my very life. I am incapable of speaking the fear inside of me for my Black son. I know I voice the sentiments of black mothers all over the country. Whites express grief: “How horrible, how wrong, yet again — it must stop.” Black Americans say, “Oh yes, again, who’s next?” Weeks earlier, America witnessed the unspeakable trauma and grief over the killing of 26-year-old EMT Breonna Taylor while sleeping in her home in Louisville, Kentucky, by police officers serving a no-knock arrest warrant on her boyfriend. And more recently, the killing of 25-year-old Ahmaud Arbery while jogging in Glynn County, Georgia, by an armed father-son duo, supposedly for a “suspected robbery.” No doubt this is a month of national reckoning for Black people and for all conscientious Americans, all in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic that is disproportionately killing Black Americans. Rev. Dr. Bernice King, youngest daughter of civil rights icon Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. tweeted a picture of the police officer kneeling on George Floyd’s neck alongside a picture of Colin Kaepernick kneeling at a football game to protest the shootings of unarmed Black men by police. She wrote in part, “If you’re unbothered or mildly bothered by the first knee but outraged by the second, then in my father’s words, you’re more devoted to order than to justice.” Bernice King speaks profoundly to a nation so badly in need of healing. Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, former Vice President Joe Biden spoke to the nation this afternoon about the killing of George Floyd. After speaking with Mr. Floyd’s family, Biden addressed the lack of presidential leadership in his speech, as well as the history connected to Floyd’s death. Part of the Vice President’s speech follows: “Once again we heard the words, ‘I can’t breathe.’ An act of brutality so elemental, it did more than deny one more black man of America his civil rights and his human rights, it denied him of his very humanity, it denied him of his life … The same thing happened with Arbery, the same thing happened with Breonna Taylor, the same thing with George Floyd … they’re the latest additions to the endless list of stolen potential, wiped out unnecessarily. It’s a list that dates back more than 400 years, black men, black women, black children. The original sin of this country still stains our nation today, and sometimes we manage to overlook it. We just push forward with a thousand other tasks in our daily life, but it’s always there. On weeks like this, we see it plainly that we are a country with an open wound, and none of us can turn away, none of us can be silent. None of us can any longer — can we hear the words, ‘I can’t breathe,’ and do nothing.” Biden went on to say it’s not a time for tweets and encouraging violence, but a time for leadership in a national crisis. The leadership of the Democratic Party of Oregon strenuously rejects the unwarranted killings of Black Americans. The very core of both our Platform and our belief system as Democrats is about the equality of all. But in the wake of yet another senseless killing, we face the sad reality that our advocacy and even our most heartfelt, passionate beliefs were not enough to save George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and the thousands who came before. The most virtuous beliefs mean nothing if they are not lived; the most comprehensive of policies are feckless if they are not promoted and enforced; and our visions of marching toward a truly more perfect union will go dark without all of us forging a path forward together. May our passion and commitment, as well as our rage and grief, bring all of us together to fight this horrific and deadly disease that is racism. Rosa Colquitt, PhD Chair Democratic Party of Oregon Black Caucus
More Oregonians voted in this week’s primary than in any other previous primary in Oregon’s history! Despite the necessary COVID-19 restrictions and limitations, Oregon voters shocked vote-by-mail naysayers across the country and cast more than 1.3 million ballots in the 2020 primary, even eclipsing the records set in the 2008 and 2016 primaries: What's more, Oregon Democrats had a higher turnout rate than Oregon Republicans: Now it's time to turn that enthusiasm into Democratic votes this November. If you're able, will you chip in $5, $10, or whatever you can to support our work to elect Democrats up and down the ballot this fall? Thank you, KC Hanson Chair Democratic Party of Oregon
Governor Brown announces three-phase reopening plan
May 7, 2020 Thanks to millions of Oregonians staying home to keep themselves and their neighbors safe, we have prevented as many as 70,000 COVID-19 infections, and 1,500 hospitalizations in Oregon. Now, COVID-19 hospitalizations are stabilized statewide, supply chains for personal protective equipment are improving, and we've been able to finalize our statewide testing and contact tracing strategy. Because of these sacrifices and the hard work of our front line workers and health care experts, I'm happy to announce details for the first phase of a step-by-step reopening of Oregon. But I want to be absolutely clear with you, reopening any part of our state comes with risk. Until there is a vaccine, we will not be able to go back to life as we knew it. Physical distancing and face coverings are, and will, remain a part of our lives for many months to come. Hand washing and good hygiene are, and will, remain life-saving daily practices. My reopening framework is a regional approach, taking into account how the virus has impacted different parts of Oregon. That means some areas will be able to reopen before others. For counties that meet the state's requirements to move into Phase 1 of reopening (by May 15), the following sectors will then be eligible to reopen following specific safety guidelines:
Restaurants and bars in these communities may open for sit-down service, but only with adequate physical distancing and the wearing of face coverings by employees. We encourage customers to also wear face coverings.
Personal care businesses such as salons, barber shops, and gyms may open in a very limited way with physical distancing and increased sanitation, as well as a series of additional guidelines, like wearing face coverings and gloves at salons. Salons must also serve customers by appointment only and maintain records for contact tracing.
Retails businesses can also open using physical distancing -- and we ask that they encourage this through proper signage, one-way flow in aisles, and using tape markings to delineate space.
Local gatherings can increase in size to 25 with physical distancing.
However, the Oregon Health Authority is advising that any large gathering -- in ALL counties across the state -- should either be cancelled or significantly modified at least through September. This includes live sporting events with audiences, concerts, festivals, and conventions. Each county must remain in Phase 1 for a minimum of 21 days, so that we can monitor whether there's an unsafe uptick in the virus. If the county still meets the prerequisites, and has not seen increased hospitalizations, then we can assess whether they are ready to move forward into the next phase. More information on all these steps is available online at www.coronavirus.oregon.gov. As we begin to reopen parts of the state, I ask that Oregonians continue being safe and smart. Together, we can rebuild a healthy Oregon for everyone. Yours, Kate
Democratic Party first in Oregon to surpass 1 million registered voters
PORTLAND — New data released by the Oregon Secretary of State today shows that 1,006,266 Oregonians are now registered Democrats, making the Democratic Party the first political party in Oregon history to surpass the 1 million mark, and showing an increase of 10,000 new Democrats over the prior month. “These numbers are for the record books, and demonstrate the strength of our Party’s vision for all Oregonians and the work of Democratic activists from all corners of the state,” said Carla “K.C.” Hanson, Chair of the Democratic Party of Oregon. Currently, there are more than 30 Democratic county parties and 17 caucuses representing the diverse views of Democrats from all walks of life in Oregon. “Oregon Democrats believe that we’re greater together than we are on our own, and now — together — we are more than one million strong,” said Hanson. “Oregon Democrats set the standard for progressive leadership. We strenuously resist the Trump agenda, and work hard to ensure ALL Oregonians have access to health care, good jobs with fair and equitable pay, quality public education, sustainable energy, and a clean environment. This election year Democrats must fight to take back our wounded nation and continue the progress we’re making here in Oregon.” While Republicans have achieved a net increase of about 5,000 voters in the last year in Oregon, Democrats have seen a net increase of nearly 30,000. New automatically registered voters are choosing to become Democrats at more than triple the rate than they join other parties. That’s because more and more Oregonians agree with Democrats’ belief that this country succeeds when everyone gets a fair shot, everyone does their fair share, and everyone plays by the same rules. “Republicans have a million reasons to be nervous today. This remarkable achievement is a testament to what we already knew: Democrats are more energized and better organized than ever before,” said Tom Perez, DNC Chair. “Every day, Chair Hanson and Oregon Democrats are doing the hard work of strengthening our party and bringing more voices into our democracy — that dedication is going to pay off in November.” Oregonians can register to vote at oregonvotes.org. For more information on the Democratic Party of Oregon, visit dpo.org. –– Molly Woon, DPO
DPO announces new 2020 delegate selection elections due to COVID-19
May 5, 2020 PORTLAND — The Democratic Party of Oregon voted overwhelmingly last week to revise their delegate selection plan for the 2020 Democratic National Convention to accommodate social distancing recommendations. The revised plan, which received final approval by the Democratic National Committee yesterday, does away with in-person nominating conventions and allows Oregon Democrats to hold a remote election — which includes Vote-by-Mail — to select delegates to the Convention in Milwaukee this summer. The Democratic National Convention is where the Democratic Party officially nominates our Presidential Candidate, as well as approves the Party’s four-year national platform. Oregon’s Delegates represent Oregon Democrats in this process, making sure that their voices are heard. The new delegate selection plan has received the approval of both the Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders campaigns. “The delegate nominating convention is a longstanding tradition for Oregon Democrats,” said Carla “K.C.” Hanson, Chair of the Democratic Party of Oregon. “However, we have to adapt in these unprecedented times. That is why we’ve established a safe and secure remote election process to choose Oregon’s delegates to the Democratic National Convention. We anticipate that this new process, which will allow any Oregon Democrat to vote remotely, will encourage more Democrats to participate.” Registered Oregon Democrats who would like to participate in the delegate selection process can do so by completing an online form available at dpo.org/2020 by May 21st at 5:00 pm. They can choose to either run for a delegate position, vote for delegate candidates, or both. Those who register will begin receiving ballot instructions from the DPO beginning on May 27th. These ballots will be due June 12th at 5:00 pm, and results for the delegation will be announced as soon as feasible on the DPO’s website. “We are less than 200 days away from the most important Presidential election in our lifetime,” said Hanson, who participated in the 2008 and 2012 Democratic National Conventions. “Voters across the country have seen enough from an inconceivably corrupt and inept White House and are desperate for real leadership. Participating in the process to make our presumptive nominee and his Vice Presidential pick official this August will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for our Oregon Democratic delegates.” –– Molly Woon, DPO
May 6, 2020 Today is National Nurses Day, an opportunity to pause and honor nurses who are providing lifesaving care to our communities. These heroes provide critical care 365 days a year, but in this difficult time, we should recognize that they're putting their own health at risk due to shortages of PPE. Nurses deserve our respect, our gratitude, and far more support and protection. That's true every day, but today, it's especially important we let nurses know we've got their backs. Head over to Facebook and watch my video, then help me show our appreciation by leaving a comment thanking our nurses. – Peter
Jeff Merkley: Teachers we needed you and you delivered
May 5, 2020 It's one of the core promises in our country: every child, no matter their color, where they come from, or which side of the railroad tracks they live on, is entitled to a world-class education. How we keep that promise during a pandemic is one of the most difficult challenges our country has faced. So, before I go any further, I have just one thing to say to America's teachers, educators, and everyone who has a hand in keeping our bright young minds moving forward during this tough time. We see you. Today, on National Teacher Day. And every day, we see you. We see how you've not missed a beat when our schools were forced to physically shut due to the pandemic, and how you've carried on teaching our children from afar. We see how you're doing everything you can to bring equity to this tough task, understanding that not every family is the same, or has access to the same tools for their children. We see you struggling with distance like the rest of us, with doing everything you can to keep family, friends, and neighbors safe and healthy—all while carrying on with grace, because you're the front line for an entire generation looking to us for answers. Teachers, educators, and support staff: in this trying time, you have been among the heroes our children and families needed the most, and you've delivered. Now it's our turn to be the heroes that our teachers need. I'm talking about Congress, and about local leaders from every corner of America. That starts by Congress stepping up to bolster state, local, and tribal governments before they have to institute devastating layoffs and deep cuts to school funding. No surprise, Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump are balking so far, but I'm going to keep fighting like hell to support teachers in this critical work, and make sure that teachers and their families can get through this devastating pandemic. Today, reach out to the teachers in your life and let them know how much you appreciate them, Graham. – Jeff
Wyden calls for $3.6B to expand vote-by-mail, early voting
“The right to vote is the foundation of our democracy – a right that generations of Americans before us have fought to secure, and a right that we must protect now.” Washington, D.C. – U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Chris Coons, D-Del., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., today urged Congressional leadership to include $3.6 billion to help states expand vote-by-mail and early voting in the next COVID-19 relief package. “Officials in sixteen states have already postponed presidential primary elections or transitioned their elections to all mail-in voting. We must take action now to plan for upcoming elections. Voters across Wisconsin can attest to the fact that failure to enact reforms and provide additional resources to states will result in widespread chaos and disenfranchisement of voters,”the senators wrote in a letter to Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. “This is not a partisan issue – this is an American issue. The right to vote is the foundation of our democracy – a right that generations of Americans before us have fought to secure, and a right that we must protect now,” the senators continued. In March, Senators Wyden, Klobuchar, Coons and more than twenty other senators introduced the Natural Disaster and Emergency Ballot Act of 2020 to expand no-excuse absentee vote-by-mail to all states, extend early in-person voting in every state to at least 20 days, and reimburse states for additional costs in administering elections during the pandemic. Last week, all three senators published an op-ed in USA TODAY, highlighting the need for the fourth relief package to include money and direction for states to expand vote-by-mail and early voting. The letter is available here and as follows: Dear Speaker Pelosi, Leaders Schumer, McConnell, and McCarthy: As Congress prepares a fourth stimulus package to help our nation recover from the economic impacts of COVID-19, we also need to do more to ensure our democracy is prepared to overcome the challenges brought on by this pandemic. The $400 million in election funding that was included in the third stimulus package is a critical first step, but states need far more resources to protect the remaining primaries and the November elections. Republican and Democratic election officials across the country have expressed concern that this pandemic will affect their ability to administer safe elections. Officials in sixteen states have already postponed presidential primary elections or transitioned their elections to all mail-in voting. We must take action now to plan for upcoming elections. Voters across Wisconsin can attest to the fact that failure to enact reforms and provide additional resources to states will result in widespread chaos and disenfranchisement of voters. As medical experts recommend that Americans remain at home, in-person voting on Election Day, where masses of people gather at specified precinct locations, could pose a substantial risk of increasing the spread of the virus. Experts have also warned that the U.S. could face a resurgence of COVID-19 cases in the fall, so we must prepare accordingly. States need resources to scale vote-by-mail, expand early in-person voting, hire and train poll workers, and ensure everyone has access to online mail-in ballot requests and voter registration. By implementing these measures, we can help ensure Americans are able to safely participate in our democracy. Nobody should have to choose between their health and their right to vote. That’s why the next relief bill Congress passes must include significant funding – $ 3.6 billion – to help states ensure our elections are safe and accessible. The National Association of Secretaries of State has also raised serious concerns regarding some of the provisions associated with the $400 million in the third COVID-19 supplemental. Secretaries have noted that the twenty percent match requirement is particularly problematic. Congress must ensure that election officials can readily access the emergency resources they need to meet this threat head-on. Accordingly, we respectfully request that you prioritize the following in any subsequent COVID-19 related funding: •Removing the match requirement and other burdensome provisions that prevent election officials from immediate and easy access to funding. •Providing $3.6 billion in additional resources for states, and critical funding for the Election Assistance Commission to distribute the funds. •Enacting election reforms, like those found in the Natural Disaster and Emergency Ballot Act of 2020, to make voting during a pandemic safe and easy. •This is not a partisan issue – this is an American issue. The right to vote is the foundation of our democracy – a right that generations of Americans before us have fought to secure, and a right that we must protect now. Sincerely, Ron Wyden
By Peter DeFazio Today's the 50th Earth Day. And while the Trump administration is using the coronavirus as an excuse to cut favors for big polluters, it's important to remember that Congress can respond to this national crisis while creating millions of family-wage jobs and transitioning our country to a fossil-fuel free future. The transportation framework that I've introduced has been called the "Green New Deal 2.0" and would rebuild our national infrastructure, reduce carbon pollution, and address climate change. I'm dedicated to increasing investments in public transit, high and higher speed rail, and our highway system. While Congress focuses on the COVID-19 crisis, we can't overlook other priorities to keep Americans safe and healthy. Research has shown that exposure to air and water pollution negatively effects a person's health. For those that contract COVID, the results of that exposure can be deadly. I firmly believe lawmakers can provide immediate relief and craft legislation that will move our country toward a defossilized future. Even as we work to contain and defeat the coronavirus, we must move forward with goals set by the Green New Deal to save our planet. I'm proud to be on the front lines of that fight with you. I know that we'll accomplish our shared goals, one bold green step at a time. Happy Earth Day! Peter
By Rep. Peter DeFazio In the month of March, 2020, more than 15 million Americans applied for unemployment. Estimates by the Economic Policy Institute projects our unemployment rate to hit nearly 16% by July – a percentage not seen since the Great Depression.I sat down with my friend and colleague, Senator Bernie Sanders, and discussed my provisions for airline workers. We discussed the workers first protections in the CARES Act that recently passed Congress to provide urgently-needed relief for those hit hardest. This time, airline workers continued to get a check, continued to get pension, and continued to get health care. This is a model that Senator Sanders says he wants to make the model for every worker in America. We'll be revisiting this issue again and again in the next package – until it's passed. Check out the highlights of my conversation with Bernie about the Workers First provisions that I fought for in the CARES Act. We made sure that relief flows directly to the people – not CEOs or Wall Street executives. Bernie and I agree: this needs to be the model for every worker in America! Stay safe and healthy, Peter