Sockeye Blog

Let’s face it, the news today can be downright depressing. It’s important to remember that things aren’t all bad — in fact, there are some really great things happening around us all the time. Introducing, The Bright Side of Life!

Happy Friday, folks! Here are a few stories that brightened things up around the OO office this week:

Let’s face it, the news today can be downright depressing. It’s important to remember that things aren’t all bad — in fact, there are some really great things happening around us all the time. Introducing, The Bright Side of Life!

Happy Friday, folks! Here are a few stories that brightened things up around the OO office this week:

So sweet! "In an effort to recognize those who just missed winning a medal, one English man decided to have some made, inscribed and sent to athletes who placed fourth in their events." (Huffington Post.)

We loved reading about the new report from Pew Research showing the huge growth in support for marriage equality.

Sol Republic debuts headphones for cats. Well, it's about time.

And check out this sneak peek into President Obama behind the scenes:

Permalink Read Full Post

There’s been a slew of articles and columns about the most recent figures on the crushing school debt facing America’s students. The amount of outstanding student debts has now passed $1 trillion.

That debt is a heavy burden on individual students. All their lives, they’ve been told that a college education is critical to their future prosperity. Now, they’re buried under tens of thousands of dollars in debt, and the job prospects are so dismal that they have no idea how they’ll pay it back.

This staggering news has given people an opportunity to misplace the blame—for instance, the Oregonian Editorial Board and the Sallie Mae corporation have put the blame on parents and students, who they think should do more and earlier financial planning.

While financial planning is certainly important, this focus ignores completely the two main reasons for skyrocketing student debt: Tuition increases, and far fewer grant and scholarship opportunities.

In Oregon, years of ongoing state budget cuts to our colleges and universities has led to a steep increase in tuition and other fees. According to the Oregon University System, Oregon now ranks 45th in the country in per-pupil spending on higher education. That means that only five states in the entire country invest less in their colleges than we do.

There’s been a slew of articles and columns about the most recent figures on the crushing school debt facing America’s students. The amount of outstanding student debts has now passed $1 trillion.

That debt is a heavy burden on individual students. All their lives, they’ve been told that a college education is critical to their future prosperity. Now, they’re buried under tens of thousands of dollars in debt, and the job prospects are so dismal that they have no idea how they’ll pay it back.

This staggering news has given people an opportunity to misplace the blame—for instance, the Oregonian Editorial Board and the Sallie Mae corporation have put the blame on parents and students, who they think should do more and earlier financial planning.

While financial planning is certainly important, this focus ignores completely the two main reasons for skyrocketing student debt: Tuition increases, and far fewer grant and scholarship opportunities.

In Oregon, years of ongoing state budget cuts to our colleges and universities has led to a steep increase in tuition and other fees. According to the Oregon University System, Oregon now ranks 45th in the country in per-pupil spending on higher education. That means that only five states in the entire country invest less in their colleges than we do.

And that means that the costs are falling right onto the backs of students and their families. As the State of Oregon invests less and less in higher education, students and families have to take on more and more of the cost. Take a look at this chart, showing the increase in tuition for resident undergrad students at Oregon’s universities. We put in a line that tracks inflation so you can compare.

The defunding of our colleges and universities is yet another way we’re making decisions that don’t uphold our values and our priorities as a state. The cost of that decision is being paid right now by middle-class students, but we’ll all pay the price in the future when our economy gets hit by even higher levels of student debt.

Permalink Read Full Post

Since healthcare reform was signed into law in 2010, many great provisions have taken effect, affecting millions of Americans from coast to coast.

Today, additional provisions take effect - many are particularly great news for women. Here are just a few of the benefits:

  • Increased access to co-pay free birth control
  • Crucial disease screening, no co-pay pap smears, free annual check-ups
  • New benefits for new moms, including covering costs of renting breastfeeding equipment
  • More support for domestic violence survivors
  • And so much more!

Since healthcare reform was signed into law in 2010, many great provisions have taken effect, affecting millions of Americans from coast to coast.

Today, additional provisions take effect - many are particularly great news for women. Here are just a few of the benefits:

  • Increased access to co-pay free birth control
  • Crucial disease screening, no co-pay pap smears, free annual check-ups
  • New benefits for new moms, including covering costs of renting breastfeeding equipment
  • More support for domestic violence survivors
  • And so much more!

(from Planned Parenthood)

Permalink Read Full Post

We noted yesterday that the Democratic Party was almost certainly adding Marriage Equality to its party platform at this year's convention, along with other supportive GLBTQ policies.

We noted yesterday that the Democratic Party was almost certainly adding Marriage Equality to its party platform at this year's convention, along with other supportive GLBTQ policies.

Today, a report from Pew Research Institute shows further correlation between the Democratic party and marriage equality.

Just four years ago, in 2008, only half (50%) of Democrats favored allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally, while 42% were opposed. Support for gay marriage among Democrats has jumped to 65% today, more than double the percentage that is opposed (29%)... Independent support for gay marriage [also] has grown substantially since 2008. More independents today favor (51%) than oppose (40%) gay marriage.

Support for marriage equality is, in fact, growing across all party lines. But while support jumped into the majority for Independents and to nearly 2/3 of all Democrats, overall support for marriage rights remain low among Republicans. According to Pew, "Just 24% of Republicans now favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally, which is only slightly higher than the percentage of Republicans who supported gay marriage in 2008 (19%)."

It feels pretty wild, in this day and age, that an issue of social justice could be so partisan. But there you have it.

Permalink Read Full Post

Our Oregon and the Corporate Kicker for K-12 campaign won’t be participating in the so-called “Citizens Initiative Review” process because it’s a poor use of public resources and campaign time, and there’s no evidence that it has any impact on voters. 

Since 2010, the CIR project has cost at least a half a million dollars, costing at least $210,000 just for the two upcoming panels. If the backers of the Citizens Initiative Review were serious about increasing public engagement, they could spend that money instead on voter registration. With $210,000, they could have registered some 30,000 Oregonians to vote.

The CIR is funded in large part by private organizations, but staffing has been paid for by a loan from the state. So far, no accounting has been made public about how much of that money has been paid back, if any.

While Oregon is facing ongoing cuts to schools and basic services like health care and public safety, the state shouldn’t be giving or loaning money to ineffective projects like this one. How ever much money or staff time has been given or loaned to the project is money that should have been spent in Oregon classrooms or on critical projects. 

Our Oregon and the Corporate Kicker for K-12 campaign won’t be participating in the so-called “Citizens Initiative Review” process because it’s a poor use of public resources and campaign time, and there’s no evidence that it has any impact on voters. 

Since 2010, the CIR project has cost at least a half a million dollars, costing at least $210,000 just for the two upcoming panels. If the backers of the Citizens Initiative Review were serious about increasing public engagement, they could spend that money instead on voter registration. With $210,000, they could have registered some 30,000 Oregonians to vote.

The CIR is funded in large part by private organizations, but staffing has been paid for by a loan from the state. So far, no accounting has been made public about how much of that money has been paid back, if any.

While Oregon is facing ongoing cuts to schools and basic services like health care and public safety, the state shouldn’t be giving or loaning money to ineffective projects like this one. How ever much money or staff time has been given or loaned to the project is money that should have been spent in Oregon classrooms or on critical projects. 

It’s also a waste of campaign time and resources. With fewer than 90 days before ballots come out, our campaign has limited time and money to spend talking with voters, and we’re going to spend those resources in the most effective way possible. Instead of spending a week in a Salem conference center with 30 people, we will spend our time talking to thousands of voters in their own communities.

Finally, there is very strong evidence that the output of Citizen’s Initiative Review has zero impact on shaping the opinions of voters. Their recent track record is 0-2.

In 2010, the review panel was opposed to Measure 73 (Kevin Mannix's mandatory minimums) by a vote of 21-3. The measure passed with 57% of the vote. On Measure 74 (medical marijuana), the panel supported the measure by a vote of 13-11. That measure failed with about 56% of the vote.

This abysmal track record shows that the panels are far from representative of the voting public, and that the materials they produce don’t have any impact on how voters make their decisions.

Permalink Read Full Post

Looks like the Democratic Party's new platform is going to include support for marriage equality and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act as well as a clear rejection of DOMA. (Updated: To be approved during the party convention reviewed August 10-12 and approved during the party convention in September.) 

From the Washington Blade:

Looks like the Democratic Party's new platform is going to include support for marriage equality and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act as well as a clear rejection of DOMA. (Updated: To be approved during the party convention reviewed August 10-12 and approved during the party convention in September.) 

From the Washington Blade:

Retiring gay Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), who sits on the committee, told the Washington Blade on Monday that the 15-member panel unanimously backed the inclusion of a marriage equality plank after a national hearing over the weekend in Minneapolis, in which several witnesses testified in favor of such language.

“I was part of a unanimous decision to include it,” Frank said...

Frank emphasized that support for marriage equality is a position that has been established for the Democratic Party, from the president, who endorsed marriage equality in May, to House Democratic lawmakers who voted to reject an amendment reaffirming the Defense of Marriage Act earlier this month.

A Democratic National Committee staffer, who is familiar with the process and spoke on condition of anonymity, said the language in the platform approved on Sunday not only backs marriage equality, but also rejects DOMA and has positive language with regard to the Employment Non-Discrimination Act. The exact wording of the language wasn’t immediately available.

HT to Basic Rights Oregon for sharing the news:

Judging by the likes, we're clearly not the only ones delighted by the news!

Permalink Read Full Post

We don't typically post entertainment/gossipy-type news, but this bit of news from Hollywood seemed noteworthy:

It looks like the most popular elementary school teacher on network television,..

We don't typically post entertainment/gossipy-type news, but this bit of news from Hollywood seemed noteworthy:

It looks like the most popular elementary school teacher on network television,...Jess on the hit Fox TV show "New Girl", will experience what over 150,000 other American educators have over the past two years. Jess is about to be laid off due to budget cuts... Given that 46 percent of teachers leave the profession within five years, it would be pretty realistic to see Jess doing what so many other former educators have done: deciding that she's had enough of the relatively low pay, poor working conditions, and being treated unprofessionally.

I know Zooey Deschanel is a bit polarizing these days (opinions ranging from "She's so cute and quirky!" to "She's sooo annoying") so her particular layoff may not bring that much sympathy. But at least Hollywood is taking note of what the rest of the nation is living with and giving some airtime to show what it's like to be a teacher right now.

It's unlikely that New Girl will explore the impact of Jess' layoff on the kids in her classroom, but I suspect that would be just as interesting (albeit perhaps a little too depressing for a show billed as a comedy.) Not only do these students lose their favorite teacher, they also get to look forward to larger class sizes and fewer educational opportunities.

Sad to say, that's the real life 'plot' playing out in many Oregon classrooms right now.

Permalink Read Full Post

The Secretary of State's office concluded the initiative petition verification process on Friday, with a total of seven ballot measures qualifying for the November ballot.

So here's what you'll be voting on this fall:

Ban on Real Estate Transfer Fees (Measure 79)

The Secretary of State's office concluded the initiative petition verification process on Friday, with a total of seven ballot measures qualifying for the November ballot.

So here's what you'll be voting on this fall:

Ban on Real Estate Transfer Fees (Measure 79)
The Oregon Realtors Association (backed by the National Realtors Association) is running the campaign to write a ban on real estate transfer fees and taxes into the Oregon Constitution. While the Oregon Legislature had already banned the practice, this measure would further restrict the ability of local communities to make their own decisions about how to fund their priorities. This measure also enshrines into the constitution a special tax protection for just one industry: The realtors. 

Oregon Cannabis Tax Act (Measure 80)
This measure will create a policy to legalize, regulate, and tax marijuana for adults (21 and older.) This would not affect federal law, which still views marijuana as illegal.

Ban on Gillnet Fishing (Measure 81)
The Coastal Conservation Association is organizing the campaign to ban gillnet fishing in Oregon waters. The group argues that gillnets are archaic, inhumane, and lead to bycatch. Opponents of the measure argue that the campaign is a ruse to promote sport fishers' recreational desires at the expense of working fishermen. Tribal fishers are exempt from this measure.

Oregon Casino (Measure 82 and 83)
These two measures work together to amend the constitution to allow privately owned, non-tribal casinos in Oregon and then to permit the first of the privately owned casinos to be established in Wood Village. (Wood Village will have its own, local measure, required to permit the casino.) The measures include a clause which mandates a percentage of the casino's profits to the state fund to help pay for state services.

Estate Tax Repeal (Measure 84)
This is Kevin Mannix's latest bad idea, providing a tax break for millionaires to the tune of $200 million each biennium -- at the expense of schools, senior services, and other state services. While the proponents will feature family farms in their ads, the truth of the matter is that most family farms and other family businesses are already exempt from Oregon's Estate Tax. This tax break only benefits estates worth more than $1 million.

Corporate Kicker for K12 (Measure 85)

This measure will reform the corporate kicker by putting money into Oregon K‐12 classrooms, rather than back into the pockets of large, out‐of-state corporations. That means lowering class sizes and restoring important school programs. These funds would also help get Oregon schools off of the financial roller coaster and provide more stability, even in economically tough years.

Also on the ballot will be two legislative referrals:

Measure 77: Amends Constitution: Governor may declare "catastrophic disaster" (defined); requires legislative session; authorizes suspending specified constitutional spending restrictions

Measure 78: Amends Constitution: Changes constitutional language describing governmental system of separation of powers; makes grammatical and spelling changes


Permalink Read Full Post

This afternoon, the Secretary of State’s office announced our Corporate Kicker for K-12 initiative has officially made the November ballot. Woohoo!

We’d like to send a big thank you out to all of the volunteers and supporters who helped us gather signatures and start laying the groundwork for a big win in November. Stay tuned, because the fun’s just starting.

This afternoon, the Secretary of State’s office announced our Corporate Kicker for K-12 initiative has officially made the November ballot. Woohoo!

We’d like to send a big thank you out to all of the volunteers and supporters who helped us gather signatures and start laying the groundwork for a big win in November. Stay tuned, because the fun’s just starting.

More than 200,000 Oregonians signed their name to the measure to qualify it for the ballot. We look forward to working with Oregonians around the state to pass this measure in November!

By voting yes to reform the Corporate Kicker, we can begin the process of finally reinvesting in our K12 classrooms, rather than sending kicker refunds to large, out-of-state corporations. As much as 80% of the corporate kicker dollars go to corporations headquartered out of state. This measure will put those funds back into our classrooms—where they’re needed most.

Also today, we received word that Kevin Mannix’s Estate Tax Break for Millionaires has also qualified for the ballot. This massive tax break for the wealthy few will force hundreds of millions of dollars in cuts to our schools, health care, and public safety services.

With both of these measures appearing on the ballot, Oregon voters this fall will have an opportunity to make a clear decision about our values and priorities.

At a time when we’re cramming K-12 students into overcrowded classrooms, closing schools around the state, and cutting basic care to seniors and people with disabilities, the last thing we should do is give away more in tax breaks to large corporations and the rich.

Voting Yes on Corporate Kicker for K-12 and No on the Estate Tax Break will be the first step in a much bigger conversation about protecting the things that make Oregon great: Our schools, our communities, and our unique way of life.

Permalink Read Full Post

Let’s face it, the news today can be downright depressing. It’s important to remember that things aren’t all bad — in fact, there are some really great things happening around us all the time. Introducing, The Bright Side of Life!

Happy Friday, folks! Here are a few stories that brightened things up around the OO office this week:

Let’s face it, the news today can be downright depressing. It’s important to remember that things aren’t all bad — in fact, there are some really great things happening around us all the time. Introducing, The Bright Side of Life!

Happy Friday, folks! Here are a few stories that brightened things up around the OO office this week:

Everyone's abuzz with excitement about Amazon founder's generous donation to Washington state's marriage equality campaign. Proponents are callng the donation the "game-changing gift that gives them a fighting chance in November."

Read about how Bingo is changing the lives of these young patients at Randall Children's Hospital.

And enjoy this touching (and very Portland) story about this young Star Wars fan reunion with his father who had just returned from Air Force duty in Afghanistan:

Permalink Read Full Post

Receive our daily news clips!

Email jenny@ouroregon.org to be added to our daily news clips list.