Thursday, April 23, 2009

"Watch (photograph), Listen (record), Report"

It’s time to reopen the can of worms around the vulnerability of people with profound developmental disabilities. Readers of this blog have probably noticed the story from a 2007 Oregonian article regarding the abuse and neglect of such folks as a link on the blog’s home page. If you haven’t clicked on it, may I suggest you do so.

What has me perplexed is the obvious absence of any interview done with the state’s Office of Investigations and Training staff. These are the people responsible for stepping in when abuse occurs, to investigate the facts. Was Michelle Roberts unaware of this as she wrote the piece? Did none of the other people she interviewed point her in that direction for information? If not, the question is; “why not”? Though the article became a good starting point for looking at what happens to these folks, it fails to ask the “hard” questions, and only deals with the surface of the problem.

There is a lot of corruption coupled with conflicts of interest in the developmental disabilities system here in Oregon. Until these underlying problems are addressed properly, it will continue to be the same old same old. Genuine reform cannot take place without thorough investigation.

Last year the “advocates” came up with an idea which they turned into a poster, which was to be placed in “all” settings where people with developmental disabilities are served in their community. The poster says “Watch, Listen, Report”, as a reminder that people working with profoundly disabled folks are mandatory reporters; required to report suspicious or blatant abuse. I found out back in December through a phone call to Eva Kutas (director of the Office of Investigations and Training) that there should be a camera in such places to photograph occurrences. There’s no rule about it, no mandate about it, it’s simply best practice. Is that strange, or what? I also believe it should be REQUIRED that a tape recorder be available as well. Then the poster could say; “Watch (photograph), Listen (record), Report”. This would keep folks MUCH safer.

More to come on this subject...

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Publicity Stunt

Yesterday I went to PCC Cascade to catch up with what the Oregon Legislature is saying they might have to cut from various Human Services budgets. The local DD Coalition (I hate the acronym DD... are people too lazy to write or say developmental disabilities?) sent out info. on possible cuts on the 19th, and I wanted to see for myself how this might pan out.

When I arrived, an hour early, there were about 50 or 60 people in line ahead of me. That pretty much killed the idea I had about testifying from my own prospective, so I left. I figured someone else would share my ideas any way. Here's what I planned to say...

Thank you for this opportunity to share my thoughts on what it is I believe we need in our state.

1.) The re-creation of a civil rights enforcement unit in our Department of Justice office. If this is in place, what the legislature says we need to do would very possibly be illegal.

2.) Eliminate the Corporate minimum income tax. Instead of cutting programs that affect the neediest Oregonians, the corporations that operate in our state should pay their fair share.

3.) Get the Oregon Channel back on the air. We deserve REAL transparency within our legislature. Without this resource, a majority of Oregonians have no clue as to what is happening in Salem.

4.) Finally, I want to talk about cuts. Do I believe we should cut programs for developmentally disabled citizens in lieu of cutting services to senior citizens? Of course not. Do I think that cutting Head Start is more tasteful than cutting addiction services? Of course not. There is only one logical conclusion I can come to. NO MORE CUTS. NO MORE CUTS. NO MORE CUTS. And if you follow my 3 previous suggestions, there will be no need for more cuts.

Thank You

As I was walking back to my truck, I came to a realization... this whole thing was a big publicity stunt! The legislature has no intention of carrying out these ridiculous cuts! According to the DD (yuck!) Coalition, here's what's been proposed as possibility...

1) Infrastructure Reductions
• Eliminate Cost of Living increases to all programs and services
• Eliminate Protective Services and Quality Assurance Compliance staff (Investigates more than 2,000 allegations per year)
• Reductions in SPD, County and Brokerages staff
• Reduce training
2) Service Reductions to Adults with Developmental Disabilities
• Eliminate all employment and community inclusion services for people in residential programs (5,000 people)
• Freeze enrollments in Brokerages (1,400 people /2 brokerages)
• Eliminate Transportation (3,000 people)
• Eliminate access to non crisis comprehensive services (130 people)
• Reduce eligibility to 100 percent of SSI, eliminating all services to individuals over 100 percent (over 1000 people)
• Reduce comprehensive program funding by 10 percent
3) Services to Children with Developmental Disabilities and Families
• Eliminate Personal Care Program
• Eliminate Family Support Program
4) Health Care for Adults with Developmental Disabilities
• Eliminate adult dental services
• Eliminate adult vision services
• Eliminate Medicaid optional services like private duty nursing
• 100 percent of SSI would eliminate access to all health care (more than 1000 people)
5) Housing supports for People with Developmental Disabilities
• Eliminate the Fairview Trust (Served more than 800 people so far)

If the legislature were to make any of these cuts, there would be such a backlash that they could never possibly get re-elected in our state. And, they know it.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009


With all the grousing, manipulation, and out and out STEALING that's going on in our country and in our state, you rarely hear anything about corporations paying their fair share. It seems like politicians have their hands tied when they should be screaming about this. I thought that by making as large a statement about it on my blog as possible, it might draw some attention.

Why is it so important to some people to preserve the riches of others at any cost? Begging for crumbs while other people are dying? This "financial crisis" we're in was brought about by weaklings doing the bidding for the rich. We are now seeing the real cost of Capitalism in its' purest form.

In Oregon, the year before the rules were changed on taxing corporations, INTEL payed 20 million dollars in taxes. The following year they paid ten dollars. If you can't see the utter ridiculousness in that, you are not seeing anything clearly.

Now, apparently, the Oregon Legislature plans 2 bold moves to pump a few dollars back into the state budget. Close the School For The Blind in Salem, and close the office of the Long Term Care Ombudsman. These moves were set in motion without any real input from stakeholders. It's a continued shell game, where they will take the savings from these services and use it somewhere else in the budget.

The parents of the students who have visual impairments are wondering (as they should be) how their kids will fare in their public schools, who failed them the first time around. By all reports these kids have come a long way since they came to the School For The Blind. The families of people living in long term care are concerned (as they should be)about possible abuse/neglect/ and exploitation their loved ones may run into without the Ombudsman program keeping an eye on things.

It's all coming back at us now. We are as much to blame as those I'm bitching about. We allowed it all to go down. Is it too late to fix it, or are we simply going to crash and burn?

Friday, April 10, 2009

Truth Be Told

Throughout the US, people with developmental disabilities are overlooked and under served. It’s an undeniable fact. Until we, as community, pull our heads out of our collective ass, I’ll be demonstrating how bad things are for these folks. Hope you don’t mind. This editorial comes from the Southtown Star in Indiana...

April 10, 2009

When I was in high school, I used to watch Bob getting picked on by bullies.
Bob had a developmental disability. We called him mentally retarded back then.
I did nothing to help him.

That's bothered me my entire life. Only cowards walk away when the "Bobs" of the world are being threatened.

There was a public uproar when President Barack Obama compared his bowling skills to those of a Special Olympics athlete. But when it comes to actually helping mentally disabled adults, there is nothing but silence.

I recently wrote a column about two Southland mothers so alarmed by the lack of state support for the developmentally disabled that they have launched their own fundraising organization, Bridge2Hope.

They realize the amount of money they raise won't come close to meeting the statewide demand, but they figured it was better to light a candle than curse the darkness.

Anne O'Sullivan, of Oak Lawn, and Stephanie DeWitt-Kotheimer, of Tinley Park, have adult children of their own in need of assistance, but there are roughly 16,000 other people on the same waiting list for help.

After I wrote about Bridge2Hope, an effort to raise awareness as well as money, I received an e-mail from Linda Hayes, program director for LARC in Lansing, a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing developmentally disabled adults with "an opportunity to work, live and participate in their community."

Originally formed as a school for mentally retarded children in 1956, LARC currently provides day training and work activity to approximately 90 adults from the Southland and Northwest Indiana.

Hayes wrote because she wanted me to know that the challenges faced by the children of those two Moms - Meggin Kotheimer, 20, and Harry O'Sullivan, 18 - are indicative of a much larger problem.

"We are the place that young people like Harry and Meggin would be able to attend upon graduation (from high school)," Hayes wrote. "Up until about two years ago, when graduation was approaching, Harry and Meggin's families would have contacted the appropriate organizations and inquired about availability.

"Our agency would have been contacted, and we would have placed them on our waiting list. When they graduated, we would have reviewed their status and, more than likely, accepted them into our program.

"Our program provides work and many other necessary programs for adults with disabilities. But now, there is no funding, so we no longer can accept special education graduates. We understand that there is a five-year wait from the time of graduation.

"The fact that Mrs. O'Sullivan and Mrs. DeWitt-Kotheimer are forced to raise money for programs for people with developmental disabilities, when other states manage just fine, is very bad. All they want for their children is a place to go each day ... to be productive, to make friends, to continue to learn.
"There are many places that would fulfill these needs right in the South Suburbs. But no funding means no place to go. No funding means no transportation. No funding means no services. And these two caring, loving parents must do the state's job.
"I was not outraged by President Obama's comments about the Special Olympics. In fact, I welcomed the opportunity to at least have that organization mentioned and get some publicity. No one usually even hears about Special Olympics, let alone people with disabilities.
"There should be absolute outrage that in the year 2009, adults with disabilities are once again being treated as second-class, maybe even third-class, citizens. They are ignored and left unserved. These facts rarely make the news."

I thanked Hayes for her e-mail because I think it gets to the heart of the problem.
Parents such as O'Sullivan and Dewitt-Kotheimer just want to care for their children at home, while giving them the opportunity to live as normal a life as possible.
In doing so, they actually save the government hundreds of thousands of dollars, the cost of housing the developmentally disabled in a group home or institution.

When Obama compared his bowling skills to those of a Special Olympian, millions of Americans spoke up as if they cared. But if they did, this state wouldn't be among the worst, if not the worst, in the nation when it comes to offering programs for developmentally disabled adults.

O'Sullivan told me she was faced with the choice of leaving the state or staying here and launching a fight to improve funding for individuals in the same situation as her own child.

There are bullies who pick on those who are weak.

And there are cowards who walk away when they see that happening.
These two Moms have told you what's going on. If you turn away, pretend you don't see it, well, that's what I did with Bob.
I know what that is. So do you.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Free At Last!

Time for a bit of closure around my experience on LeftyBlogs Oregon. Coming from a place of caring about the civil and human rights of people with developmental disabilities, I thought that joining in with a blog that deals with those issues would be welcomed. It's not something generally written about. There are probably more blogs on stamp collecting.

I was wrong about that and a few other things. Believing that people who call themselves "progressive" share those beliefs is one thing I was wrong about. I found that although many times I would have 30 or 40 clicks on a post about disability related issues, there was rarely a comment from these "lefties". They just didn't see fit to weigh in. I don't know why. Maybe they believe that "leaving the whole disability thing to the experts" is good enough.

Occasionally, I'd write about this silence phenomena, thinking it might wake someone up, but it didn't. I simply said to myself, "Fuck it. At least they're reading stuff that might educate them". So I kept putting posts out there anyway.

On March 21st that all changed. As I scrolled along LeftyBlogs Oregon, I came upon a post titled "Retards Are Mad", and clicked on it out of curiosity. The langugage used to describe this writers view of people with developmental disabilities was cruel hate speech. Rather than dignifying the post with a comment on their blog, I posted about it on mine. Between the 2 posts there were at least 60 clicks from readers of LeftyBlogs without a single comment. At that point I figured these folks don't give a damn about folks with developmental disabilities, and on March 25th began my struggle for release.

Since then I've been in email contact with Kari Chisolm, the guy who set up the LeftyBlogs system. Today he wrote me with an excuse about how no one is responsible for what gets posted, and that I shouldn't be angry with the people who read and write LeftyBlogs. Though he agrees the "Retards" post was "offensive"and my "reaction to Vorpal's obnoxious post is quite reasonable.", has he done anything beyond reassuring me? What about HIS reaction? What about the clicks? Somebody was reading these posts.

Now, I'm off LeftyBlogs Oregon. There's still plenty of folks who read what I write, including a handfull who actually care.

Monday, April 06, 2009

So Much More Than A Comment

When I was struggling to have my blog removed from, I decided to go after Kari Chisolm, one of the administrators of the site. I began referring to him as “Porky Pig”, leader of the cult of Leftyblogs.

This morning a comment came to me from none other than Hart Williams, the tough guy who refused to meet me for an ass whooping. He’s also the guy who wrote all the hate speech directed at people with developmental disabilities on his blog “His Vorpal Sword”. I’ve pasted and bolded what he wrote, following that with my own thoughts.

Hart Williams has left a new comment on your post "Leftyblogs Is A Cult... I'm Serious!":

Let me see if I get this straight:

You're willing to ream anyone who doesn't use politically correct terms for the disabled, but it's OK for YOU to call Kari Chisholm "Porky"?

Politically correct?

Writing about people with Down’s Syndrome...”Because, as we all know, Down’s Syndrome children and other retards are very sensitive about being retarded, and don’t like people pointing out that they’ve stuck three fingers up their nose, or that they’re eating their own poop.”

Writing about other people with developmental disabilities...“Spastics and retards (or, as is preferred, Spazzo-Americans)” “fake-offended smear merchants ever-ready to take up the cause of the spastic, the drooler, the imbecile and yes, the retard.” “virtually no spastics or retards have actually been offended, only people taking offense ON THEIR BEHALF.” “I mean, there is nothing graceless, herky-jerky, or just plain fucking pathetic about the way that some retards try to do the simplest things, like putting on their shirts, or trying to put on and tie their shoes.”

These ^words vs. “Porky.”

Specifically to slur and disparage him?

Horrible, aint I? Oh yeah...I haven’t heard 1 word from Kari saying he was offended. Could Hart be one of those folks “taking offense ON THEIR BEHALF.” I think Kari’s a big boy, able to defend himself with his word processer. Unlike most people with developmental disabilities.

What's the word for that? Hold on, it'll come to me.

Oh yeah: hypocrite.

If trying to distance myself from this kind of wing nut at any cost is hypocritical, I guess he’s right.

I'm beginning to think that your whole "advocacy for the disabled" is just an excuse for you to act like an asshole.

First of all people with disabilities don’t like to be referred as “the disabled”. And if I’m an asshole for trying to cause change in the world by protecting their civil and human rights, so be it.

From the evidence, you don't care about anybody's feelings but your own.

Boo Hoo.

I do want to thank Hart for once again reminding me that it was critical to not have my blog linked to Leftyblogs or their Capitalist partners.

Unless Kari's Lying...

Another interesting weekend in the blogosphere. After still having my posts show up on Leftyblogs (following my March 25th post about not wanting to be associated with them), I finally contacted Kari Chisolm personally on Saturday, telling him to cut me loose. As you'll see below, this post should not show up on Leftyblogs unless Kari's lying. I also heard from Hart Williams, author of the hate speech directed at people with developmental disabilities. I'll blog about that later. wrote:
> > first: David
> > last: McDonald
> > comments: I really don't want to fight (but will) with you.
> Remove me from Leftyblogs.
> > David

In a message dated 4/5/2009 12:07:17 PM Pacific Daylight Time,
> kari writes:
> David --
> I'm not sure what you think we have to fight about. Just visited
> your site and found a whole lot of angry comments about LeftyBlogs. I
> wasn't able to figure out what originally made you upset - but this
> email, which was sent yesterday morning, is the first I've heard of
> any concerns. (Sorry, I've been offline for about 48 hours.)
> On the one hand, you say you want to be removed from LeftyBlogs. On
> the other, it looks like you want your posts up. (For the record, I
> don't personally review every post before it goes up. LeftyBlogs
> aggregates some 3000-4000 posts a day. I certainly don't have time
> for that much reading.)
> So, if you'd like to be removed from the feed, I will
> do that. Please note that LeftyBlogs runs the "Oregon BlogWire" which
> is how your posts get linked automatically on BlueOregon's sidebar (as
> well as several other blogs.)
> Let me know. Thanks.
> -kari.

> Kari Chisholm
> President
> Mandate Media
> Portland, Oregon
> wrote:
> please remove me

Subject: Re: Cease and Desist
Date: 4/6/2009 1:34:57 AM Pacific Daylight Time
From: karic
Reply To:

OK, I've removed your feed. It should disappear during the next
update - over the next few hours.


Sunday, April 05, 2009

Told You Leftyblogs Is A Cult

Ahah! Now Leftyblogs is trying to conceal the fact that they are a cult! They still haven't posted my post from 12:40 yesterday afternoon where I pointed this out. Funny how they were able to post "Leftyblogs Still Sucks" less than 1/2 hour after I posted it on my blog earlier in the day. Porky really has egg (among other unidentifiable foods)on his face now.

Maybe it's because I also posted about 2 kids with disabilities who were mistreated in foster care in Oregon yesterday afternoon at 4:00 (less than an hour after the Oregonian printed it); probably scooping Blue Oregon's post about the same topic later in the day. Talk about CONTROLING the internet. So whatcha gonna do Porky, set me free or allow me to continue humiliating you in front of your followers?

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Leftyblogs Doesn't Care About This Either

The good people at Leftyblogs Oregon could care less about situations like this. They are too busy reading what their cult leader is saying on Blue Oregon. At least these kids got out of our state to somewhere they'll get the love and support they need.

Gresham foster kids abused despite DHS checks
by Aimee Green, The Oregonian
Saturday April 04, 2009, 3:20 PM

The Oregon Department of Human Services has agreed to pay $2 million into a fund for the future care of twins who were allegedly abused by their foster parents -- the largest such settlement in the agency's history.

According to the civil rights suit filed in December 2007 in U.S. District Court, Kaylie and Jordan Collins were kept in makeshift cages -- cribs covered with chicken wire secured by duct tape -- in a darkened bedroom known as "the dungeon."

The brother and sister often went without food, water or human touch, according to the suit. The boy, who had a shunt put into his head at birth to drain fluid, didn't receive medical attention and resorted to hitting his head against his crib to relieve the pressure. When police and child welfare workers rescued the twins from the Gresham foster home, he was nearly comatose.

Portland attorney David Paul said although the twins were born underweight and had medical problems, the neglect they endured under foster care was so severe they will need care for the rest of their lives.

Jordan, now 6 1/2, has brain damage. He still wears a diaper and can't talk. Kaylie can say 25 to 50 words. Both suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and are in the bottom 1 percent developmentally of children their age.

The twins are among the approximately 100 Oregon foster children who are abused or neglected each year while under the supervision of the state, according to DHS.

But few suits are filed against DHS because the obvious plaintiffs -- the injured or dead children's parents -- are often out of the picture.

"I don't think many of these kids have a champion," said Greg Kafoury, a prominent civil attorney in Portland. "There's no one to bring a case. There's no one who's sophisticated on their side."

Kafoury said that without the threat of legal action, the state agency has little incentive to change.

Oregon law limited the state's liability to $200,000 until 2007, when the Oregon Supreme Court threw out the cap for defendants who've been injured.

Paul filed suit in federal court on behalf of the twins' adoptive mother, seeking $12.8 million. Paul said the twins, who were born prematurely in August 2002, arrived at the foster home of Gail and Marvin Thompson after spending weeks in the hospital. They stayed about three years.

The Thompsons, both in their 60s, had successfully fostered scores of children, the state says. Since March 2004, state policy has required caseworkers to have face-to-face contact with children at least once a month, but Paul said they often skipped visits, sometimes phoning instead.

Paul said that, according to police reports, the floor of the children's room was covered in garbage and their sheets were saturated in dried excrement and urine. The windows of the room were blacked out.

One caseworker noted that while visiting the home, the children were brought into a common room, where they squinted at the daylight. State workers also didn't check to make sure the Thompsons were regularly taking Jordan to the neurologist, according to Paul.

Meanwhile, the Thompsons were taking in as much as $90,000 a year tax-free for caring for up to six children at a time, Paul said.

Foster care

• Authorities investigated more than 100 reports of abuse of children in state-sponsored foster care in 2008. That was down slightly from 2007. Nearly 14,000 children went through the system last year.

• In 2004, Gov. Ted Kulongoski ordered DHS to issue a public report explaining what went wrong whenever a child dies or is seriously injured either under state supervision or after abuse was reported. DHS has issued 16 such reports, but not one for Kaylie and Jordan Collins.

• Oregon had 4,893 foster homes in 2007, down from 5,309 in 2006. The state struggles to find new foster parents.

• The child welfare division of DHS is understaffed by 19 percent and faces more cuts. The state would need to add 407 employees to adequately take care of the current caseload, according to a state analysis.
"They just started warehousing children in a dungeon of sorts, and the state just didn't follow up to see how the children were doing because these parents had been a very good resource for years," Paul said.

The neglect came to light after a Thanksgiving dinner in 2005 at the Thompsons' house. Three guests -- including at least two relatives -- were concerned enough to report the Thompsons to authorities.

Police investigated, but the Multnomah County district attorney's office decided not to prosecute. Prosecutors said child-privacy laws prevent them from explaining why.

Marvin Thompson, reached by phone, said the allegations laid out in the lawsuit are almost entirely false. He said he and his wife brought the children to all their doctor's appointments and fed them.

He said he and his wife didn't keep the children in a darkened room, but it's true they'd covered the cribs in a mesh -- not chicken wire. He said the mesh was for the children's safety, to keep them from crawling out and getting into trouble.

"We're not bad people," Thompson said. "We didn't mistreat these kids."

But DHS said the Thompsons deceived child welfare workers.

"The family went to elaborate lengths to hide the abuse, including having a fake nursery on display to deceive visitors and DHS caseworkers," said Patty Wentz, a department spokeswoman.

The state is not admitting any wrongdoing. The caseworkers for the twins, Elisa Deserano and Tammy Stanfill, still work for the agency. Wentz said she could not comment on any disciplinary action. Lynn Jenkins, who monitored living conditions, no longer works for DHS.

Wentz said caseworkers saw the children 39 times during their three-year stay, but it is not clear how many of those visits were in the home and not at a state office. The state lacks documentation showing how many times a worker in charge of monitoring living conditions visited the house.

But Wentz said in light of what happened to the Collins twins and other cases of children who were abused and neglected under the state's watch, her department has created new policies and clarified existing ones. For example, caseworkers are required to visit homes every two months and see children face to face at least once a month. Workers in charge of monitoring living conditions are required to walk through "each and every" room in a foster home twice a year.

If the settlement is approved by a judge, as is expected, Paul's law firm will collect 33 percent of the $2 million for its two years of work on the case. Of the remaining money, $500,000 will be immediately available for Kaylie and Jordan's benefit -- and that could include more speech therapy, swimming lessons and time spent with horses. Paul said the twins are responding well to interactions with the animals.

The rest of the money will go into a fund that is expected to grow to $4 million over the children's lifetimes. Paul said that will be enough to care for them if they outlive their adoptive parents.

Paul said the twins are thriving in their new lives, on a farmhouse and land in Michigan.

"They have this wonderful adoptive family," he said. "They go to school. They go to church. They are loved."

Leftyblogs Is A Cult... I'm Serious!

Leftyblogs Oregon has all the telltale signs that they are a bonifide cult! I kid you not. This morning I got an Anonymous comment from yesterday's "Leftyblogs Sucks" post. The person claimed to be a woman who wrote "Good. I'm tired of being insulted whenever I happen to click on one of your posts on a link from BlueOregon. I'm not a contributor, not a big commenter, just a regular person who likes to read news/commentary and generally keeps her opinions to herself."

It's like "You call out one of us (Porky and Torrid Joe in this case), you call out all of us." Defending the cult to the end. And like many victims of cults, she also must like to be insulted if she keeps clicking on the link to DAWG Oregon. L. Ron Porky has obviously succeeded in controling this woman's mind. You'd think she'd contact the leader himself, to tell him to get rid of me.

Speaking of contacting the leader... I wrote to Porky this morning telling him I don't want to fight with him, but I will until he removes me from his Capitalist cult. I see he hasn't. But like all cults, once you get in, they never want to let you out.

Leftyblogs Continues to Suck

I’m wondering if Porky Pig’s other blog was financed by Karl Rove and the Republican Party. They seem to have a lot in common, and may have actually been separated at birth. I mean, think about it... Karl Rove is an operative for the Republicans, while Porky spends his time schilling for the Democrats. They are both Capitalists, and Leftyblogs continues to suck.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Leftyblogs Sucks

Ok, so I told the administrators of Leftyblogs to stop including posts from my blog on their own Capitalist blog, and they didn’t listen. I know they read posts because Torrid Joe commented on my blog on 3/22/09 regarding my post titled “Lefty Blogs Strikes Again” from the previous day. What is their problem?

Do they plan to keep putting my posts up? Even if I type “Kari Chisolm is a reincarnation of Porky Pig”? Even if I say “Torrid Joe doesn’t know the difference between a basketball blog and a political blog”? What about if I write “The people who read posts from Leftyblogs are as progressive as the republicans they complain about”. I don’t know.

I guess until they cut me loose, I’ll just write about how stupid they are.

News That Matters

When I found this story from the Oregonian, it was accompanied by several comments about clowns. After reading it, I'm sure you'll understand why...

Legislature's silliest bills up for debate
by Michelle Cole, The Oregonian
SALEM --First, there is an idea. Lawyers draft it into a bill, and that comes before the Oregon House or Senate.
And then, the reaction:
Huh? They want to do what?
Sometimes, even a bill's sponsor will admit it's silly. This year's example: A proposed sales tax on personal submarines.
And sometimes what sounds wacky at first may make sense.
So let's review some silly and maybe-not-so-silly bills introduced in the 2009 Legislature:

Taxes that tickle

An informal survey of Republicans and Democrats in Salem finds agreement on at least one thing: The proposed bird seed tax may be the dumbest-sounding idea floated this year.
House Bill 3303 would levy a 10 percent excise tax on wholesalers of wild bird seed, including millet, milo, sunflower and thistle seeds.
The bill's sponsor, Rep. Chris Garrett, D-Lake Oswego, says his critics shouldn't get their feathers in a ruffle.
"I knew when I introduced it that it was going to get some giggles," Garrett said. "If people would get over their hang-ups, it's good policy."
The estimated $4.8 million raised by the tax would pay for habitat protection, Garrett says.
What's more, Oregon could secure another $4.8 million in matching grants from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Then there's the submarine tax, which Rep. Chip Shields, D-Portland, isn't even trying to defend.
To be fair, House Bill 3146 slaps a "luxury tax" not only on personal submarines, but also on airplanes, cosmetic surgery, fur coats and other items.
"It's a stupid bill," Shields admits, adding that he signed onto the idea in 2005.
Still, Shields says he brought it back to make a point: People want the wealthy to pay their share.

Gotta-go bill

Senate Bill 277 passed the Senate unanimously last week without even a snicker -- or potty joke.
You've seen the signs: "No public restrooms." Well, this bill would require places such as stores and businesses to allow customers with certain medical conditions to use employee toilets "without further delay."
Don't worry about cheaters. A doctor's letter or identification card would be required.

Stating the obvious

Every session, a few bills raise the question: Why does Oregon need to legislate this?
This year, at least two bills fit the description.
Senate Bill 200 establishes a state policy regarding homelessness. It passed the Senate on Monday on a unanimous vote.
The state is broke, so there's no money attached to the bill.
But there is strong language: "Homelessness is a detriment to individuals, families and communities." And the bill directs state and local agencies to work together on homeless issues.
Anna Richter Taylor, communications director for Gov. Ted Kulongoski, said the bill is really a commitment to tackle the problem.
"It brings together local, state and nonprofit organizations to have one coordinated effort," she says.
Senate Bill 193 directs the state Water Resources Department "to develop state water strategy."
Really? Isn't that what the department already does?
Nope. The department's Web site says Oregon is one of only two Western states without a water supply strategy.

Bye bye Fryers
House Bill 2630 would abolish the Oregon Fryer Commission. But don't worry, there will still be an Oregon Tall Fescue Commission, an Oregon Fine Fescue Commission and a list of others.
What's up with the fryers?
It's a sign of a changing Oregon, says Mike Dewey, Fryer Commission lobbyist.
The commission was written into law 50 years ago so growers could tax themselves to promote consumption of chicken, he says.
But now most Oregon growers raise chickens for one of two processors: Draper Valley Farms and Foster Farms. There's no need for marketing money when you have Foster Farms airing national -- and cute -- ad campaigns.
Plus, Dewey says, "chicken to a certain degree sells itself."
Dewey and his partners are serious about the bill but not lacking humor. As part of a food bank fundraiser, they've promised to testify before a Senate committee wearing chicken suits.
Just call it cluck for a buck.

Speaking of cluck

Some bills just sound silly. The title of Senate Bill 622, which passed the Senate on Thursday, describes the legislation as "relating to geese."
Actually, it relates to getting rid of them. It would create a nine-member task force charged with figuring out how to get rid of what Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose, described as an "explosive rise in the goose population."
A few senators said Oregon doesn't need a task force.
"We already know what we need to do," said Sen. Jeff Kruse, R-Roseburg. "We need to kill a few of the critters."

The crab lobby

A bill to name the marionberry Oregon's official state berry was squashed by another berry lobby. So who would be brave enough to ask lawmakers to designate the Dungeness crab as the official state crustacean?
That would be Stephanie Buzbee's fourth-grade class at Sunset Primary School in West Linn.
The kids have heard about the berry brouhaha, Buzbee says. But they're pushing ahead with their class project: House Joint Resolution 37.
While studying the states, Buzbee says students learned other states have official crustaceans. Louisiana has the crawfish, Maryland the blue crab.
The class decided nothing says Oregon more than the Dungeness crab, and they persuaded Rep. Scott Bruun, R-West Linn, to introduce a bill.
Four students are coming to Salem next week to testify. Others are working on posters and supporting materials.
Bruun says he has the crabbers lined up and he is hopeful the bill will pass.
"Despite the fact that it's a fun bill and a school project, there is some economic value," he says.
The students are also preparing what they'll say if a competing crustacean surfaces.
"They're going into it with the knowledge that it's not a done deal," Buzbee says.