Scott Moore

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Matt Wingard’s Plan to Line His Pockets with Your Tax Dollars

On a mid-spring day in the middle of his first legislative session, Rep. Matt Wingard (R-Wilsonville) stood in front of a microphone on the floor of the Oregon House of Representatives to speak out about his favorite subject: Online charter schools—one in particular.

Matt Wingard on the House Floor“Colleagues, I want to take this opportunity to tell you a little bit more about a success story called Oregon Connections Academy, or ORCA,” Wingard began. He spent the next few minutes extolling the virtues of the Scio-based online school, charting its growth from just a couple hundred students in 2005 to more than 2,600 four years later.

In a tone reminiscent of a radio pitchman, Wingard told stories about some of the students, and warned against the legislature placing restrictions on the school. “Let’s keep that option open to families, and help ORCA celebrate the great things about online learning,” he concluded. “Not just today, but for many years to come.”

But here’s one thing that Wingard didn’t mention that day, while he was testifying to the greatness of Oregon Connections Academy: He’s on the payroll of the online school’s for-profit parent corporation, Connections Academy. 

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On the Next Inside Source… Bringing Marriage Equality to Oregon

We are so excited to announce that we will be joined by Jeana Frazzini, Executive Director of Basic Rights Oregon, to discuss the campaign to bring marriage equality to Oregon, on our next Inside Source show on Wednesday, June 26 at 3pm.

Go here to sign up: http://bit.ly/16eSEdY

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Some Big Ideas to Fund Oregon's Priorities

On April 26, we filed numerous initiative petitions with the Secretary of State’s office for the 2014 election.

These initiatives would raise hundreds of millions of dollars to more than $1 billion in funding for Oregon’s classrooms and critical services by raising tax rates on large corporations. Most of these corporations are headquartered out of state, but make a lot of money here—and are essentially getting a free ride.

Find out more about these potential initiatives here.

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The Wealth Disparity Crisis Laid Bare

It's impossible to ignore. Our country is facing a crisis of wealth disparity that has only gotten much, much worse since the recession. Put simply, the ultra-rich are getting richer, and everyone else is getting poorer.

And some of the most tragic victims of this crisis are Oregon's children.

Read more at The Sockeye blog.

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The Oregonian: Pushing an agenda one headline at a time

The conservative bias at the Oregonian isn’t exactly a secret. But one of their most frequent tactics goes mostly ignored: Writing headlines to frame stories in a way that pushes their ideological agenda.

Some obvious examples from recent history:

•    The “Obama keeps job” front page headline the day after the November election

•    “Lower expectations for Obama 2.0” on the front page the day of Obama’s second inauguration (also the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday), topping a couple of wire stories about conservative opposition to the President’s agenda

•    The “State asks to pry info from Mannix groups” headline on a story about the Oregon Department of Justice investigating Kevin Mannix’s alleged use of a veteran’s charity to funnel funds to his political campaigns.

Their latest headline twisting shenanigan: “Uncle Sam blamed for fourth-quarter slowdown.”

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Graduation rates tell a simple story: You get what you pay for

The new statewide graduation rates released yesterday by the Department of Education are understandably getting a great deal of attention. The four-year high school graduation rates have improved a bit, but are still at about 68 percent.

Experts are diving into the numbers on a district-by-district and school-by-school basis, trying to find patterns that can lead to more success across the state. But the numbers paint a very simple picture: If we want to improve K-12 education and increase graduation rates, we have to fund schools like they really are a priority.

For most of the past decade, funding for schools has been on a rapid decline. Even the Governor’s proposed budget for next school year, when adjusted for inflation, is less money than the crisis budget K-12 school districts are facing now; it will mean an even shorter school year and larger class sizes over the next two years.

Oregon currently has the third largest class size in the nation and over the past few years, we’ve seen high school class sizes increase by nearly 30 percent. It’s not unusual to have 60 kids or more in class in Oregon high schools. Wonder if that has anything to do with graduate rates?

 (At the same time, the amount the state is giving away in tax breaks has grown by billions of dollars—28% just since 2009. That is money being drained away from our schools, senior healthcare, and public safety.)

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Media Watch: The O Buries the Real Story

Over the weekend, the Oregonian ran what they surely believed was a hard-hitting expose on union spending on political campaigns. What the story boiled down to was this: Labor unions spend money on political campaigns, just like other groups, and in Oregon they win elections because they’re more in touch with what a majority of Oregonians want.

But buried in the story, almost as an aside, is this little nugget: “Without the union support, the Democrats would have had a hard time staying financially competitive with Republicans, who slightly outraised them thanks to strong support from business interests.”

Catch that? Republicans outspent Democrats, and they did it thanks to big campaign contributions from the corporate lobby. And yet, they still lost seats in the legislature, giving Democrats a strong majority.

So where’s the big front page story about campaign spending by business interests? Why isn’t the headline, “Despite outspending everyone else, Oregon’s business lobby rebuffed by voters”?

The bottom line is that the progressive movement in Oregon is strong because it reflects the values and priorities of a majority of Oregonians. The corporate lobby and their preferred political party continue to lose for one simple reason: Their agenda and the Oregonian’s editorial positions (tax cuts for big corporations and the rich, cutting environmental regulations, budget cuts that lead to big class sizes, etc.) are completely at odds with voters.

Oregon’s progressive community—including labor unions, educators, environmentalists, women’s health advocates, the GLBT community, small businesses, and many others—is strong because we work together toward a common goal: Protecting the priorities that make Oregon great. That’s the real story.

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The O Lowers the Bar Yet Again

No matter what your partisan persuasion, today is undeniably an historic day. President Barack Obama was sworn in for a second term, on the same day the nation is celebrating the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

And yet, here's how the Oregonian decided to mark the occasion with their front page:

It's awfully reminiscent of their "Obama Keeps Job" headline the day after the election, and a mysterious "Bigfoot" noise in Eastern Oregon gets more elaborate treatment than the swearing in of the President of the United States.

Effectively, conservative publisher N. Christian Anderson III and his editors are using the front page to thumb their noses at Oregonians who voted for Obama by a 12-point margin (and who make up a majority of the Oregonian's readership). They're basically saying, "Don't hold your breath, because your hero isn't going to accomplish anything anyway."

It's undeniable that Anderson's political agenda has transformed the newsroom at the O.

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Our Findings from the Clackamas County Elections Scandal

After spending hours going through video footage and other public records from the Clackamas County Elections office, Our Oregon has found a number of troubling facts that continue to call into question the ability of Clerk Sherry Hall’s office to administer elections.

Among the findings: A lack of meaningful video coverage of ballot processing and other questionable management decisions.

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“Most Inappropriate Reaction”

For us in Oregon, the tragic events in Connecticut last Friday were unfathomable, especially as it came on the heels of the local tragedy in Clackamas. We join the rest of the country in mourning all of the victims, and our hearts go out to all of the families whose lives have been changed forever.
 
It’s also impossible for us to ignore some of the worst responses that have come from some politicians looking to score points in the wake of the tragedy. Unfortunately, one of the worst reactions has come from right here in Oregon. 
 
Rep. Dennis Richardson (R-Central Point) created a national outcry when he sent an email to school superintendents saying that the tragedy was “another heart breaking failure of school personnel to ensure the protection of innocent children and adults.” 
 
Just hours after educators in Sandy Hook gave up their lives to save their kids, Rep. Richardson was calling their heroic actions a “failure… to ensure the protection of innocent children.” 
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