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Who’s Hot and Who’s Not in Oregon Politics: TriMet, Mayor Hales, Marijuana

Friday, April 03, 2015


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.



TriMet announced that it’s new MAX light rail line is going to come in millions under budget. The newest expansion to the light rail system opens on Sept. 12th and is set to service PSU, the South Waterfront, inner Southeast, Milwaukie, and North Clackamas County on a 7.3-mile track. With the extra money TriMet plans to make upgrades to the new Orange Line adding weather proofing measures and extra shelters. TriMet General Manager Neil McFarlane said on Friday “Not only are we improving our transit system with this project, we’re delivering it on time and under budget,”

Mayor Charlie Hales

Following quickly behind many of the other Governors and Mayors of the region, Mayor Hales banned all city-funded travel to Indiana after the signing of the Religious Freedoms Restoration Act by Gov. Mike Pence. In a statement to the press Mayor Hales said, “Gov. Mike Pence and the Indiana Legislature have to understand that such blatant discrimination against their own citizens cannot stand. We, as a country, have moved so far from those shameful practices of the past.”

House Bill 3476

This bill would undo Title IX requirements for school counselors and other advocates to report information on alleged sexual assaults to school administrators. Counselors and advocates would only be allowed to provide information with the permission of the victim. While the bill may do little to protect the privacy of victims if a case goes into private litigation, it’s a huge step forward. Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum came out in support of the bill saying that Oregon is one of only 10 states without privacy protections for victims seeking help from domestic or sexual assault advocates.


The “Pot Czar”

Tom Burns, the man hired by the OLCC to oversee the rollout of recreational Marijuana, was fired last Thursday after he was caught leaking information to an attorney who represented marijuana growers. He then attempted to delete emails and lie to bosses about the leak according to a Willamette Week report. Burns was a key part in the rollout of medical marijuana, and he is considered to be a “major loss” to the organization. The firing is a bit of a setback for proponents of Measure 91, but the OLCC said it would not hinder its ability to iron out details before they start accepting license applications in January of 2016.

Medicinal Marijuana Growers

More not in the land of pot this week as Salem debates restrictions on the number of plants growers can cultivate. This new law would restrict the number of plants to anywhere from 24 to 48 plants. Legislators claim this restriction is necessary in order to restrict the flow of marijuana to the black market after Measure 91 takes effect in July. "We are in serious danger if we can't show the federal government that we are preventing marijuana from getting into the black market," said Sen. Ginny Burdick, D-Portland. 

However growers claim it would restrict patient access and cause massive shortages for their patients. Anthony Johnson, chief sponsor of the Measure 91 campaign said, "I encourage oversight in growing but not to restrict patients' access."

Gov. Mike Pence

While not an Oregon politician, the Governor and his Religious Freedoms Restoration Act have sparked outrage across the entire nation. His trip across the Sunday talk shows was a testament to his ignorance and his bigotry. He seems to think they simply have a “perception problem” and is trying to backpedal saying they are going to “change the language” of the law to better protect gays and lesbians. The simple fact is the law itself is the problem and not just a sentence here or there. Gov. Pence thinks that this is just like the federal R.F.R.A. that Bill Clinton signed in ’93 that helped protect religious minorities from inadvertently being discriminated against by federal law. The big part of the Indiana law however, is its ties to the recent Hobby Lobby case in the Supreme Court and other recent cases that say we now view corporations as people who have all the same religious and political rights as the actual people that run them, and thus the businesses are being discriminated against because they themselves can’t discriminate. 


EDITOR'S NOTES: An earlier version of this article said Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum is a rape survivor. She is not. 

An earlier version of this article stated that Jules Kopel Bailey is running for election in 2018. He is actually running for reelection in 2016. 


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