“The designation of Michael Flynn to be National Security Adviser is deeply alarming. His statements about Muslims are profoundly un-American as well as damaging to the fight against terrorism and national security. He has indicated an openness to torture and the destruction of an entire city, both of which are clearly illegal, not to mention immoral and destructive to America’s global leadership. His financial entanglements with Russia and other foreign governments are also cause for concern, particularly given President-elect Trump’s refusal to disclose his own finances.
With the designation of Michael Flynn and Steven Bannon, the president-elect has created a White House leadership that embodies the most divisive rhetoric of his campaign. To the extent that these become policies or legislative proposals, I commit to stopping them. I will also approach the confirmation process with the expectation that nominees will, at the very minimum, demonstrate a clear commitment to American values and the rule of law.
In that spirit, I look forward to the confirmation process for Representative Mike Pompeo to be Director of the CIA. Given its recent history of operating a disastrous torture program and then spying on the Senate itself, the agency demands principled leadership now more than ever. Unfortunately, Representative Pompeo’s comments in which he asserted that the CIA’s torture program was legal and that the American people did not deserve to know about it are deeply troubling.”
“Donald Trump has a responsibility to put an end to the prejudice and put an end to the hate crimes sweeping our nation,” Merkley said. “Put the hate speech and hate acts behind you. Don’t bring white supremacists or deeply prejudiced individuals into your administration.”
Merkley and U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) have both called this week for Trump to drop Bannon as his chief White House strategist.
UPDATE, 10:38 am Friday, Nov. 18: Here is the full text of Merkley’s floor speech. Perhaps most notably, it contains a tribute to Portland’s anti-Trump protesters, and calls on Trump to listen to them.
Mr. President, our Nation has gone through a difficult, bruising Presidential election. Normally, we would be making the pivot to healing those wounds, but this election has been particularly rough, and the wounds sustained during the campaign continue to haunt our Nation. Many groups of Americans across our country are frightened for the future, of being deported, of being targeted as Muslims, of resurgent racism toward African Americans, of anti-Semitism, of losing their right to marry the person they love. Unfortunately, they have good reason to be afraid. We have seen a surge, a wave of hateful bigoted, racist, sexist attacks happening in communities across our country since the election. The divisive rhetoric and conduct of President-Elect Donald Trump’s campaign over the past year and a half is responsible for unleashing this blight on our country. He has the responsibility to turn things around, to put an end to this division, and to start the healing. That is why, earlier today, 10 of my colleagues in the Senate joined me to send a letter to President-Elect Trump, demanding that he stand up and condemn these verbal and physical attacks occurring around this country, that he denounce his own past campaign rhetoric that gave life to so many of these acts of hate and violence, and that he exclude proponents of hatred and discrimination from the ranks of his administration, including immediately firing white supremacist Steve Bannon as his Chief Strategist. Here is what the text of the letter says: Mr. President-Elect: Your campaign conduct and Electoral College victory have unleashed a wave of verbal and physical assaults against our fellow Americans. In just the last six days, the Southern Poverty Law Center has documented hundreds of acts of discrimination and violence toward many of the ethnic and social groups you attacked in your campaign. These attacks are absolutely unacceptable. We condemn them. We stand united with our fellow citizens. Unfortunately, these acts of hate have been enabled by your campaign strategy of promoting bigotry, racism, and sexism. It is the logical consequence of your campaign attacks on and discrimination aimed at Hispanics, African Americans, veterans, immigrants, women, Muslims, Jews, and individuals with disabilities. Millions of Americans see a President-elect who has chosen to knock them down rather than to lift them up. Your conduct has empowered too many Americans to act on their darkest impulses. This is the wrong vision for America and the wrong path for your coming Administration. We call on you to change course. We urge you, as our future President, to join us in rejecting hate and embracing respect for every ethnicity, race and gender. We urge you to join us in fighting for a nation free of discrimination, where every child has the opportunity to thrive and contribute according to his or her ability. We urge you to join us in fighting for our Constitutional vision of equality and opportunity and the vision in our Pledge of Allegiance of liberty and justice for all. As you assume the mantle of leadership in office, it is your responsibility to put an end to the crimes of hate and prejudice sweeping our nation. These wounds to our national citizenry are of your making. It is your responsibility to rectify the damage. You have the power as President to move beyond the hate-filled rhetoric of your campaign. We call on you to repudiate your campaign attacks against diverse communities of Americans. We call on you to address the American people and demand that all Americans end these verbal and physical attacks and replace acts of hatred with acts of kindness. We call on you to exclude the proponents of discrimination and hatred from the ranks of your Administration, and that includes immediately firing Steve Bannon as your Chief Strategist. The letter concludes: It is time for you to act boldly and powerfully to put the nation on a path of healing. For the sake of all Americans, we call on you to rise to the challenge. In addition to myself, it is signed by Senator Mazie Hirono, Senator Elizabeth Warren, Senator Sherrod Brown, Senator Ed Markey, Senator Bernie Sanders, Senator Al Franken, who spoke so eloquently a few moments ago, Senator Ron Wyden, Senator Debbie Stabenow, Senator-Elect Chris Van Hollen, and Senator Tom Carper. I thank my colleagues who have appropriately said that at this moment–at this unusual moment in our history, in our time here in the 21st century–that we have a President-elect playing on hate and prejudice and bringing a white supremacist in as Chief Adviser is unacceptable. Some will say that President-Elect Trump cannot himself be accountable for what is happening across our country, but they are wrong. His words and his conduct are directly connected to the harassment and the physical and verbal assaults that we are seeing. I am going to share with you all the comments of the campaign and the acts of citizens in category after category to show how these are tied together–how, indeed, these verbal assaults and these physical assaults are motivated by and justified by the campaign of our President-elect–just to emphasize that it is time for our President-elect to take responsibility, to change course, to embrace the connectedness of our American communities, the vision of equality and opportunity in our Constitution, the vision of a nation with justice for all, and the fact that our President should be working to raise up all families–not raising up a few by tearing down the rest. Let’s start by looking at what Mr. Trump said about our Nation’s Latino citizens. At the start of his campaign, Mr. Trump said: “When Mexico sends its people, they’re not sending the best ….. they’re sending people with lots of problems and they’re bringing those problems with them. They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. ….. And some, I assume, are good people.” Later in the campaign he promised to build a wall–“a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.” When discussing Judge Gonzalo Curiel, a U.S. district judge presiding over a lawsuit against Trump University–by the way, an American-born citizen–the President-elect said the judge couldn’t be impartial and should be removed from the case because “this judge is of Mexican heritage.” Judge Curiel was born and raised in Indiana. Mr. Trump’s right-hand man, his designated Chief Strategist, Steve Bannon, used his position at Breitbart News to continue attacks against Latinos. Under his leadership, Breitbart frequently used anti-immigrant slurs and published “war on Spanish” and nativist-appealing content in his quest to make his platform a platform for White nationalism. It is important to note that even many Republicans and conservative commentators believe that Mr. Bannon is a man with unconscionable views and frightening ties to white supremacist movements. John Weaver, a former top adviser to Governor John Kasich tweeted of Mr. Bannon’s selection as Chief Strategist: “The racist, fascist extreme is represented footsteps from the Oval Office.” Ana Navarro, a Republican strategist, called Bannon: “White supremacist, anti gay, anti Semite, vindictive.” Ana then said: “Be afraid, America.” Glenn Beck, known to all of us as a rightwing radio commentator–a very conservative commentator, a person who has attacked virtually every idea to help working America that comes from the blue side of the aisle–said Bannon is “terrifying” and said that he has helped to give voice to White nationalists. Former KKK leader David Duke and the American Nazi Party have praised Bannon’s elevation to the White House. So there should be no mistaking or sugar coating what precisely this individual, Steve Bannon, stands for. Under his leadership, Breitbart became a leader in anti-Latino, nativist material–one headline after another attacking Hispanics here in America. So when we look at what is happening right at this moment to Latinos today, what do we see? We see students in our schools taunting and bullying their classmates. At DeWitt Junior High School in Lansing, MI, White students formed a human wall and refused to let their Latino classmates into the school. In Ventura, CA, a Latino mother reported seeing fifth graders at her child’s school chanting: “Build a wall.” Latinos all across our Nation are being harassed and told they are going to be deported, they don’t belong here in America, even if they were born here in America. In Andover, MA, a group of white men in a car threw a water bottle at a young Hispanic woman and screamed: “Time to go back to your country”–insert expletive–“my man Trump is on top now and we don’t want you here!” In Southern California, a college student was accosted by a man who said: I can’t wait until Trump asks us to rape your people and send you back over the biggest damn wall we’re going to build. Go back to hell. Then he inserted a racist slur for a Mexican and then threw water in the young woman’s face. Walls all across the Nation are being spray painted with phrases such as: “Build the Wall Higher.” In the face of attacks such as these, it is hard to remember that we are, indeed, a nation of immigrants. Unless you are 100-percent Native American, you are the child, grandchild, great grandchild, or the descendent of immigrants. Your forefathers and foremothers came to our country and felt they had come to a place where they could thrive. We have those beautiful words carved into the base of the Statue of Liberty: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” It inspires all of us. Each one of us–again, unless we are 100-percent Native American–have an ancestor who came to the country and felt that moment of freedom and opportunity no matter where they had come from. Latinos are not the only group of Americans suffering because of the rhetoric of the Trump campaign. African Americans have become a significant target in post-Trump America, as too many take their cues from our next President’s words and actions towards that community–words like the ones President-Elect Trump used to talk about African Americans who work for him. He said: “I’ve got black accountants at Trump Castle and Trump Plaza. Black guys counting my money! I hate it. The only kind of people I want counting my money are short guys that wear yarmulkes every day.” He then went on to say: “I think the guy is lazy. And it’s probably not his fault because laziness is a trait in blacks. It really is, I believe that. It’s not anything they can control.” Those are the words of our President-elect. When he talked about the Black Lives Matter movement on FOX News, he said: “I think they are trouble. I think they’re looking for trouble.” He often shows a startling disconnect with the African-American community, generalizing that they all live in inner cities that he regularly describes as poverty-stricken war zones. This disconnect started very early on in his real estate career when President-Elect Trump was publicly sued twice for discriminating against African Americans who were trying to rent apartments in his buildings. Of course, we can’t talk about Mr. Trump’s–President-Elect Trump’s–relations with the African-American community without bringing up his longstanding promotion and advocacy of the birther movement, which tried to delegitimize our country’s first African-American President. Those efforts go back to 2011, when Mr. Trump was considering a run for the White House and said on one talk show: “If he wasn’t born in this country, which is a real possibility ….. then he has pulled off one of the great cons in the history of politics.” He went on and on and on–month after month–questioning the legitimacy of our President in office. To his credit, on that particular point Mr. Trump has recanted himself, but he used it as a race card time after time after time to delegitimize our President–President Obama–because he is African American. The views of President-Elect Trump’s right-hand man, his Chief Strategist, Steve Bannon, aren’t any better. Under Bannon’s leadership, Breitbart created a news section titled “Black Crime.” Just 2 weeks after the Charleston massacre in which nine African-American churchgoers were slaughtered, Breitbart ran this headline. By the way, in that attack, the attacker used the Confederate flag as a symbol–a racist symbol–to justify attacking these nine individuals. What did Steve Bannon do? He ran this headline: “Hoist It High And Proud: The Confederate Flag Proclaims A Glorious Heritage.” In a lengthy July post on Breitbart, Bannon accused the left of a “plot to take down America” by fixating on police shootings of Black citizens. Well, the list goes on and on, but he proceeded to say: “There are, after all, in this world, some people who are naturally aggressive and violent.” That is certainly a direct racist statement. And what is the result we see today of all of this racism from our President-elect and from his Chief Strategist? Well, we have seen a startling rise in people’s willingness to use the “N” word in public. At a school in Maple Grove, MN, the boys bathroom was defaced by graffiti that included racial slurs such as the “N” word and porch monkeys, alongside pro-Trump messages such as “Trump Train” and “Make America Great Again.” Students from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse who were living off campus found the quote “Go Home” and the “N” word written on their front door. A man in Knoxville, TN, woke up one morning to find his car vandalized with the phrase–and I am paraphrasing–expletive deleted “U”, insert “N” word, and then the word “Trump” spray-painted on his car. We have seen incidents harkening back to a time in history of discrimination and segregation. At a high school in Jacksonville, FL, an individual put up these signs: “Colored” and “Whites Only”–the time of Jim Crow in America, where African Americans were treated as second-class citizens–and a “Whites Only” sign was found on the door of a bathroom stall at a high school in Duluth, MN. These are just a few of the incidents. There are the assaults as well, one incident after another of African Americans being assaulted. There is the softball field dugout in Wellsville, NY, where the phrase “Make America White Again” was spray-painted and the defacement of a wall in Durham, NC, where someone decided to write “Black lives don’t matter and neither does your vote.” There was a horrific incident in my State of Oregon in which an African-American woman was attacked in the parking lot of a grocery store in Hillsboro, OR. A group of three men threw a brick at her, broke her ribs, called her the “N” word, threatened to rape her, and they said: Now we finally have a President who feels how we feel. It is hard to imagine how our President-elect, with his own racist commentary, his own past acts of discrimination, his own racist campaign, his own racist Chief Strategist, isn’t at all connected to these events sweeping the country. They are directly connected. And that is why we are calling on the President-elect to change course. The election is behind us. Before the President-elect is 4 years of opportunities to improve the lives of Americans. Take the assaults of the past and make them the assaults of the past. Look to the vision of partnership to build a better America in the years ahead. Leave that past behind. Martin Luther King, Jr., once said: Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable. ….. Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and the passionate concern of dedicated individuals. Let’s make that the spirit of the next 4 years, where together we are dedicated to progress for all Americans toward reaching that goal of opportunity and equality and justice. Another target has been our women across the country. Our President-elect repeatedly treated women as sexual objects. Women have worked so hard to be seen as equals in our society. Women have flown as astronauts. They have reached the heights in science. They have reached peak after peak in leadership across our country. They bring their insight and wisdom to this Chamber here in the U.S. Senate and in the House of Representatives 100 yards across Capitol Hill. But our President-elect has seen it differently. Referring to the media, he said: “It doesn’t really matter what they write as long as you’ve got a young and beautiful piece of”–insert a demeaning term for women. He declared that “You don’t give a”–insert expletive–“if a girl can play a violin like the greatest violinist in the world. You want to know what does she look like.” Our President-elect derided a political opponent by commenting on her looks, saying, “look at that face! Would anybody vote for that? Can you imagine that, the next face of our President?” During the campaign, our President-elect called a female lawyer disgusting or at some point in passing he called a female lawyer disgusting because she asked to take a medical break to pump breast milk for her 3-month-old daughter. I think we are all aware of the comments he made towards FOX News debate moderator Megyn Kelly–words I choose not to repeat at this moment. And then he said pregnant women are an inconvenience for his business. And of course our President-elect was caught on tape bragging about sexually assaulting women, saying: “I’m just automatically attracted to beautiful–I just start kissing them. Just kiss. I don’t even wait.” Then he went on to talk about groping the women and being able to get away with it because he is a star. He has brought into the White House his Chief Strategist, Steve Bannon, who shares these views about women, putting up a headline: “There’s No Hiring Bias Against Women. ….. They Just Suck At Interviews.” Another one said: “The Solution to Online `Harassment’ is simple: Women Should Log Off.” Here is another: “Would You Rather Your Child Had Feminism or Cancer?” as if women’s rights are a disease. We see that these comments and the conduct of the President-elect and the comments of his Chief Strategist have had an impact. Two men at a concert in Ohio threatened to “Donald Trump” a female security guard because she wouldn’t let them into a restricted section of the venue. According to one teacher, a 10-year-old girl was taken home from school after a male classmate grabbed her private parts, and when asked why he did it, the boy said that if a President can do it, he can do it too. In Oklahoma City, a woman was chased on the highway because of her Hillary bumper sticker, while men in another car hurled sexual insults at her. These are just a small number of the hundreds and hundreds of events happening across this country. Every Member of this body, every Member of the Senate can relate stories from people who have shared with them over the past few weeks, stories from their constituents who have written to them to share the harassment they have suffered. We have just seen a historic milestone. We have had, for the first time, a woman as the nominee of a major political party–and not only that, she got a lot more votes than did Donald Trump. The women’s suffrage movement has come so far since the days when Elizabeth Cady Stanton said: “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men and women are created equal” and that “the history of the past is but one long struggle toward equality.” We have come a long ways in the few decades since Martin Luther King said that the moral arc of the universe is long but it bends towards justice. Across our country, citizens have worked to bend that arc in this vision of a nation that embraces opportunity for all–not opportunity only for the rich and powerful to have more opportunity, but opportunity for all, for every child to have the ability to contribute to this country. My father, now deceased, was a mechanic. He never went to college. But he told me when I was in grade school: Son, if you go through the doors of that schoolhouse and you work hard, you can do just about anything here in America. That is the vision we want to strive toward, where the son of a mechanic, the daughter of a janitor, the child of a Hispanic couple or an African-American couple or a gay couple or a lesbian couple–where every child has the opportunity to thrive. To do that, we have to set aside these racist attacks, these sexist attacks. Another target has been our Muslim-American community. For the last year and a half, they, like other groups of Americans, have been denigrated and insulted by President-Elect Trump and his campaign. His campaign has worked to fan the flames of Islamophobia. Take Mr. Trump’s views on registering Muslim-Americans. When asked whether the United States should have a registry of Muslims, he said, “I would certainly implement that. Absolutely. ….. There should be a lot of systems, beyond databases. We should have a lot of systems.” When the reporter followed by asking “Would Muslims be required to register?” he answered, “They have to be. They have to be.” Well, let me share with the President-elect that we are not a nation that discriminates because of one’s religion. It is called freedom of religion. Our vision is opportunity for all. There were nations that discriminated based on religion. Those were European nations. That is why a lot of our forefathers came here–to escape that oppression and to have the freedom to thrive and to maintain the religious views they wanted to have, not what somebody else told them they had to have, or to be imprisoned, or register them for discrimination because of their religious background. So when any American attacks our Muslim-American brothers and sisters, we need to stand with them shoulder to shoulder. And if any other religious group is attacked, we need to stand with them shoulder to shoulder and stand for the vision of opportunity and equality for all. That is what every Member of this Chamber should be coming down here to say–that when those groups are attacked, we will stand with them because that is not the vision of America. That is not the spirit of America. That certainly is 100 percent contrary to the vision of America. Our President-elect tried to foment fear of Muslims seeking refuge in our Nation from war zones. He told a crowd in Minneapolis that allowing refugees into our country “will import generations of terrorism, extremism and radicalism into your schools and throughout your communities.” This statement is so far diverged from the truth as to make it impossible to recognize where he got this notion. Every expert will tell you that if a terrorist wants to come into our Nation, the hardest path is to come as a refugee: You have to go to refugee camp, you have to be registered, you have to be vetted for years, and if you are male, you are probably not going to make it, but because the goal was to foment Islamophobia, this lie was repeated again and again. It is much easier to come into our country on a tourist visa, a business visa, a student visa, not a refugee settlement visa. Our President-elect told the same crowd that refugees settling in Minnesota were “joining ISIS and spreading their extremist views all over our country. ….. `’ Now there are reports from some connected with the transition team that the incoming administration is considering implementing a system for registering Muslim Americans, just as President-Elect Trump talked about, and using our country’s shameful internment of Japanese Americans to justify this idea because it is a precedent. Let me be clear: Imprisoning fellow Americans as we did during World War II was a shameful and dark chapter and a mistake. We need to make sure we remember that it was a mistake and never use it as a precedent for action in the future. Then, again, here we have our President-elect’s Chief Strategist, Steve Bannon, who has run headlines like, “Political Correctness Protects the Muslim Rape Culture” or “Immediately After Muslim Mayor Elected, London’s Iconic Buses Proclaim, `Glory to Allah.”’ Mr. Bannon has personally suggested that we are in a global war against Islam. So it is no wonder the rhetoric of our President-elect and the leader of the White supremacist Web site is causing discrimination and confrontation with Muslim Americans around our country. Some are being physically assaulted, like the woman at San Jose University who lost her balance and choked when a man attempted to rip off her headscarf or the Muslim student at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign campus who reported having a knife pulled on her. Then there are those who are being verbally abused and otherwise intimidated, including a woman riding the BART train in San Francisco who was accosted when another passenger called her a terrorist who should be deported, and a pickup truck that has been driving around Brooksville, FL, with writing on it that says: “All Muslims are Terrorists,” “Deport them all,” and “I hate Muslims.” In Georgia, a Muslim teacher found a note left for her that said: “Headscarf isn’t allowed anymore” and telling her to “hang yourself with it.” That is the level of Islamophobia sweeping our Nation at this very moment, inspired by the rhetoric of our President-elect and his Chief Strategist, Steve Bannon, and it is unacceptable. It needs to stop. As Robert Kennedy once said, “America’s answer to the intolerant man is diversity–the very diversity which our heritage of religious freedom has inspired.” We need to embrace that heritage, we need to cherish that heritage, and we need to strive to live up to the best instincts of our Nation, not the darkest impulses. Yet another group that is feeling threatened is our LGBTQ community. I will note that Donald Trump in his campaign did not attack our LGBTQ community overtly, and he said on “60 Minutes” the other night, as the question of same-sex marriage came up, the question of same-sex marriage is “settled.” Actions speak as well as words, and of all the possible men and women he could choose as a running mate, he chose now-Vice President-Elect Mike Pence, the most anti-LGBTQ Governor in America. This individual is someone who has signed a draconian religious “liberty law” in Indiana that allows individuals and businesses to discriminate against the LGBTQ community. Our Vice President-elect supported conversion therapy to change people’s sexual behavior. As a radio host, he gave a speech and declared marital equality would lead to “societal collapse.” Mr. Trump’s Chief Strategist echoes much of this. One headline on Breitbart News said: “Dear Straight People: I’m Officially Giving You Permission to Say”–and then it goes on to list anti-LGBTQ slurs. Another headline that he put up on his Web site said: “Gay Rights Have Made Us Dumber, It’s Time to Get Back in The Closet.” Yet another headline said: “Kids Raised By Same-Sex Couples Twice As Likely To Be Depressed, Fat Adults.” How has this kind of rhetoric impacted our Nation since the election? A gay couple in Ogden, UT, woke up to find their car vandalized with anti-gay slurs painted on the side. Rainbow flags, the symbol of the LGBTQ movement around the world, were burned in Rochester, NY. An individual in North Carolina found a note on their car that said: Can’t wait until your “marriage” is overturned by a real president. Gay families = burn in hell #Trump 2016. Like so many of the other groups of Americans I have talked about, the LGBTQ community has struggled for a long time to be accepted, to be recognized as full members of our society, to not be discriminated against when they seek employment in our country, to have the same rights against discrimination that we adopted for race and gender and ethnicity in 1964. We have come a ways, but we haven’t yet made it to the point that we have provided the same foundation against discrimination that we provided in 1964 to other groups. So while Donald Trump himself did not attack the LGBTQ community, the person he chose as Vice President and the person he elevated to Chief Strategist for the White House very much have, and that is a powerful, powerful message that has unleashed attacks across this country. As our next President, Donald Trump has the responsibility to put an end to the prejudice and to put an end to the hate crimes sweeping our Nation and to calm the fears and anxieties of millions of Americans who are frightened about their future in this country–about whether they will have an opportunity to contribute to this country, whether they will be fired from their job, whether their car will be vandalized, whether their children will be taunted and bullied, whether they will be attacked in a parking lot. Across the Nation, thousands of people have been turning out to walk the streets and to protest. They are trying to send a message. Sometimes that message has gone off-track. In Portland, OR, thousands turned out to send this message to our President elect: Put the hate speech and hate acts behind you. Don’t bring White supremacists or deeply prejudiced individuals into your administration. Let’s have a next 4 years that embraces all Americans and their opportunity to succeed. They are trying to send a message by walking with their feet from park to park, across bridges, through the streets. Unfortunately, some anarchists decided to destroy the effectiveness of this protest by breaking windows and setting some fires. The organizers of these protests condemn the anarchists and try to keep them out, and most of the protests have succeeded. I ask for our President-elect, if you won’t listen to those of us who are publicly asking you to change course, and if you won’t listen to my colleagues who are privately calling you and saying to you and your team to change course, then listen to the people in the streets across America who are trying to peacefully convey the message that we are a diverse nation, with a fabulous vision of embracing people of every religion and every ethnicity and every race. Let’s continue that tradition. Let’s strengthen that tradition. Let’s build on that tradition. That is the message all of us are trying to send. I join my colleagues to repeat the requests we have made on the floor in Senate, the letter we sent to you, the message sent privately by many of my colleagues sitting across the aisle, the message sent by many of our leaders from civil rights groups and other organizations who have contacted the transition team, the message that has echoed with thousands and thousands of emails sent to Capitol Hill to ask us to help convey this message. From every direction, Americans are reaching out and saying: End the hate speech. End the hate commentary. Bring people into your administration who believe in opportunity and justice for all. Change directions. It is a time for leadership. It is time for our President-Elect Donald Trump to rise to the occasion and to help build a nation that provides the foundation for every American to thrive.
“Oregon continues to outpace the nation and the expansion endures,” wrote the state’s chief economist, Mark McMullen. However, “job growth in recent months has decelerated somewhat from the full-throttle rates seen in the past couple of years.”
State revenues are tracking forecasts because McMullen and his colleagues in the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis anticipated a slowdown in growth.
One trend state econonmists didn’t anticipate was a strong uptick in revenues from estate taxes—Oregonians dying with estates worth more than $1 million.
(Estate taxes begin at 10 percent on the first million and increase to 16 percent above $9.5 million.)
In the first year of the current two-year state budget cycle, estate tax receipts came in about 15 percent higher than forecast and over the two year period are now expected to reach nearly $280 million, exceeding the original estimate by 28 percent.
The month of August alone saw estate tax receipts of $48.6 million, which state senior economist Josh Lehner says is more than twice the previous highest month on record.
Even with increased tax planning, economists expect the state to continue to reap the benefits of generational change, particularly as the strong economy has boosted the values of financial assets such as stocks and bonds and the value of real estate.
“The large Baby Boomer generation is aging into their retirement years today and into their later ages in the coming decades,” their forecast reads. “As such there will be an increase in the number of Oregonians passing away in the relatively near future.”
The county with the largest percentage of population gain? Deschutes County, which grew by 3.5 percent. (That’s Bend, for those keeping score at home.)
What’s driving all this growth?
“People move because they want to be in communities that are likeminded with similar people,” says Risa Proehl, population estimates program manager at at PSU, “where they have friends and family, and where jobs are. People are attracted to Oregon because there are many affordable places to live here, there is control over urban sprawl, and there is access to the natural environment.”
Proehl says the majority of new arrivals are coming from California and Washington.
“Many are retirees, it’s a popular retiree destination, young families, and young single people. We are seeing a broad spectrum,” Proehl says.
The majority of population growth has taken place in urban centers—Oregon’s incorporated cities saw a 39,460 population increase, more than half of all growth. Combined population in cities totals an estimated 2,816,400—more than half of the population in the state.
Multnomah and Washington counties have seen the largest raw population gains with an increase of around 13,000 residents in each (Portland’s population increase was estimated at 14,000). Clackamas and Deschutes counties each grew by about 5,000, Marion and Lane counties added around 4,000, and Jackson grew by about 3,000. In aggregate, population growth in these counties accounted for 80 percent of the state’s population growth.
This type of growth is a sign of a strong economy says Proehl, because people are attracted to places where there’s work. But this type of population boom can have mixed impacts. “There is more of a demand on services, infrastructure, and housing,” Proehl explains. “It’s more crowded.”
After years of discussion, Associated Oregon Industries and its younger, more progressive spinoff, the Oregon Business Association announced today they have voted to merge.
“This is the culmination of three years of intense discussion and outreach,” said Pat Reiten, AOI Chairman of the Board and President of PacifiCorp Transmission said in a statement announcing the merger. “We wanted to make sure we did this right because it’s not only about what is good for business, but, ultimately, what’s good for Oregon.”
Between them, the two groups represent just about every significant employer in the state, with many large companies belonging to both.
Associated Oregon Industries, formed in 1895, has lost some of its swagger over the past decade as Democrats have cemented their hold on the levers of power in this state. Portland-area businesses who wanted a more progressive and environmentally-friendly approach founded the Oregon Business Association in 1999.
The two groups agreed more often than they disagreed but still found significant areas of policy disagreement. Last year, for example, OBA supported Democrats’ move to implement a low carbon fuel standard for Oregon, while AOI opposed it.
But the merger will not go into effect until July 1, 2017, which means AOI and OBA will continue as separate organizations through the 2017 legislative session and will not name a new leader for the combined entity for seven months.
As WW reported earlier, several of the founders of OBA and some big players, including Nike, initially opposed the merger and it would be no great surprise if another business association popped up to represent dissident viewpoints.
If you want Vietnamese fish sauce wings from Pok Pok delivered to your house or office, you’re in luck: Uber is launching its UberEATS app in Portland for the first time.
The app, which is already offered in over 50 cities, became available at 10 am and will allow Uber customers to order food from over 100 Portland restaurants including Ecliptic, Deschutes Brewery and yes, Pok Pok Noi. Uber’s $3.99 delivery fee is added to all purchases.
“We’ve had overwhelming enthusiasm from our restaurant partners,” says Uber’s Pacific Northwest communications manager Nathan Hambley. He also adds that UberEATS wants to expand its Portland operation. “We hope to continue growing,” he says.
High schools and colleges across the country have dumped school mascots now deemed offensive. Largely those efforts have focused on mascots that glorify a person or image with racist ties.
But at Franklin High School in Southeast Portland, some would like to ditch the mascot because of its ties to a religion.
For at least 100 years, students at Franklin have been called Quakers, not because Benjamin Franklin counted himself among that group. The Founding Father helped launch the University of Pennsylvania, which uses the nickname Quakers, prompting sports writers in Portland to adopt it as well, so the legend goes.
The Franklin Post student newspaper this month reported that a proposal to change the mascot in time for the school’s move to its newly renovated campus next year has the support of the PTSA.
No other religion has its name as a mascot, says Mia Pisano Yang, an alumna who is also a member of the Religious Society of Friends. She’s pushing for the change.
“We have an opportunity to change that and to cheer for something that reflects the school and that is more appropriate,” she said, according to minutes from the PTSA that paraphrased her remarks.
Here are Unger’s thoughts about the result and what comes next.
WW: What surprised you most about this loss?
Ben Unger: The biggest surprise was how difficult it was to tell voters a story about how big the need is. And we struggled to communicate how we could address those needs with one measure. There is a deep skepticism about whether we are delivering what people need from their government.
What lesson did you learn?
I think the biggest takeaway is the coalition we’ve built now, we needed at the beginning. When we started, it was just Our Oregon. Then when we had a meeting the night before the election, there were 60 groups represented in the room. It was a much bigger, broader community. We needed them at the beginning. I think they could have laid the groundwork with the political elites and the media. We never convinced the establishment that we got the details right.
Which of the opposition’s arguments was most harmful?
You got millions of dollars from out-of-state unions. How are they feeling?
They want to make sure that nationally we are learning from this experience. How you win these fights is an ongoing question. How do we apply what we’ve learned to the next fight so we’re more able to win? That’s why they invest in us—because they want to know how to do this in other places. I can’t overestimate how much the uncertainty at the national level puts pressure on us to figure that out quickly.
We go to Salem. It will be hard for people to propose budget cuts without first increasing corporate taxes. You talk to voters, they agreed 100 percent that corporations need to do their fair share. We will force that choice more in Salem. The opposition to our campaign is gone now—the California consultants aren’t sticking around like our coalition is, and I think people are more motivated now than ever before.
Will you go back to the ballot again?
That question is still up in the air. We will come to the Legislature with a menu that calls for investments—significant investments, not small. I think we’ve put pressure on everybody. We are willing to come to the table. The challenge is, how do we bring everybody else along?
Portland Commissioner Amanda Fritz wants to spend $1.2 million a year in public money to pay for City Council candidates’ campaigns. Part of her reasoning: First-time, female and minority candidates can’t raise enough money on their own to challenge incumbents or beat wealthy white men who’ve dominated City Hall elections since Portland’s founding.
But Election Day—and Chloe Eudaly—shredded that narrative.
Eudaly’s upset of Portland City Commissioner Steve Novick on Nov. 8 shows again that an outsider candidate with a modest budget but a strong message and a creative campaign can break through to Portland voters. Novick outspent Eudaly 6 to 1, but mostly squandered his $600,000 budget on polling, consultants and mailers.
Eudaly won by 10 percentage points, upending the conventional wisdom that her squadron of door-to-door canvassers and fliers hand-drawn by cartoonist Joe Sacco couldn’t get her enough name recognition to oust Novick.
Now her victory raises fresh questions about the need in Portland for public campaign financing—a concept that Portland voters narrowly rejected in 2010.
It may also make reform seem less urgent and raise anew the question of whether voters themselves should decide whether to enact the program or whether the City Council can implement the program unilaterally, as Fritz would like.
Even critics of public campaign finance, though, say it would be a mistake to ignore the political winds behind Eudaly, the same desire for change that helped President-elect Donald J. Trump. “She is a function of something very large that was happening in the election,” says veteran lobbyist Len Bergstein. “The financing of the election is not the thing that is the fundamental driver behind that.”
The program Fritz now hopes to enact is different from Portland’s previous experiment in campaign financing.
Its aim is to amplify the voices of small donors by providing $6 in matching funds for every $1 in individual contributions, up to $50 per donor. Candidates who volunteer to participate also would agree to limit individual contributions to $250 and accept an overall cap on contributions as well.
Election results last week suggest Portland voters are eager for campaign finance reform. Almost 90 percent of voters in Multnomah County approved a charter change that limits campaign contributions in county races.
Eudaly backs Fritz’s plan, and says her win doesn’t undermine the need for change: “My circumstances were not remotely typical and are unlikely to be replicated—even for me.”
It’s true that she ran against a vulnerable incumbent, signed on a onetime aide to former Commissioner Erik Sten to guide her campaign, and already had successfully organized a community of supporters concerned about the housing crisis.
But it remains to be seen whether voters would again spend taxpayer money on city campaigns if given the chance.
“I don’t think there’s any harm in asking, what does this race tell us?” says Debbie Aiona of Portland’s League of Women Voters, speaking as an individual. “I just think there’s something different about this year that allowed her to run and win against an incumbent.”
Rewind to five days before Election Day and a Eudaly victory seemed unfathomable, even to her. The owner of Reading Frenzy bookstore, Eudaly is a single mom, a high school dropout and a renter who says she’s never paid herself more than $36,000 a year. She’d never run for office before but felt inspired to fight for more affordable housing and better tenant protections in Portland.
Mayor Charlie Hales, speaking at City Hall on Nov. 3 about why he thinks Portland needs public campaign financing, said much had changed in Portland politics since he won a position as a city commissioner in 1992— the last time a newbie ousted a Portland incumbent.
“It was possible then for a new candidate who hadn’t run for office before to run a shoe-leather campaign on a modest budget and win,” he said. “Can anyone say that’s still true?”
Eudaly herself testified, saying her campaign should be a case study. “I have struggled to raise enough money to run a competitive campaign,” she said.
Five days later, she beat Novick.
Eudaly’s victory isn’t without precedent. Tom Potter beat then-Commissioner Jim Francesconi for the job of Portland mayor in 2004 after limiting donations to $25 in the May primary. Bud Clark, a barkeep, famously swept Mayor Frank Ivancie from office in 1984.
Advocates for public campaign finance say three upsets do not an effective system make. Two of those wins still went to white men, for example. No woman of color has ever held office at Portland City Hall.
Kate Titus, executive director of Common Cause of Oregon, says public campaign finance also would reshape candidates’ focus. “The current big-money system incentivizes most candidates to spend their time reaching out to a narrow set of wealthy interests,” she says.
Yet Fritz’s proposal hasn’t received an entirely warm reception at City Hall. Mayor-elect Ted Wheeler, who raised about $1 million for his campaign, has said he has different priorities. Commissioner Nick Fish has wondered aloud whether commissioners should be tapping taxpayer funding to pay for their own campaigns. And Commissioner Dan Saltzman has said he supports sending the question to voters.
Meanwhile, City Hall’s top watchdog has raised concerns about proposed management of the program.
Portland’s independently elected auditor, Mary Hull Caballero, oversees Portland’s elections. But those responsibilities are minor, and Hull Caballero says her office isn’t in the position to take on a complicated, highly visible and politicized bureaucracy.
“The city has no room for error,” she says.
Fritz says she’s taken into account the failings of Portland’s old system, which got its start in 2005. That system gave $145,000 to candidates for commissioner, mayor and auditor in the May primary who collected signatures and $5 contributions from at least 1,000 voters. Candidates who advanced to a November runoff got more.
The system was subject to abuse, most famously by candidate Emilie Boyles, who used public money to pay her teenage daughter $12,500, and Boyles’ consultant, Vladimir Golovan, who faked voter signatures for Boyles.
It was also subject to ridicule, including in 2010, when a publicly financed candidate named Jesse Cornett got just 8 percent of the vote after spending $160,000.
The old system, sometimes called “voter-owned elections,” also scored a victory. Fritz tapped the system in 2006 for her own failed bid to unseat Saltzman. She used it again in 2008—this time successfully—to win an open seat left by then-Commissioner Sam Adams.
Fritz declined to comment for this story.
At the Nov. 3 hearing, Novick revealed another motivation for supporting the proposal, which heads back to the City Council for a second hearing in December.
Speaking on behalf of other candidates, Novick said he needed more of a financial incentive to talk to regular voters, acknowledging he spent most of his time fundraising among homeowners who could write big checks because it wasn’t worth his time to collect small checks from renters. “We spend too much time talking to people with money and not enough time talking to people without money,” he told his colleagues. “This would even it out.”
Portlanders’ vote for Eudaly was a signal they wanted change. The same kinds of forces could come together to propel another outsider to City Hall, says Portland pollster John Horvick. But that won’t be the norm, he says.
“Over the long term, well-financed campaigns with strong name recognition are going to be more successful,” he says.
Having waited until after Novick’s election to force the issue, Fritz gave Portland voters a fuller picture of what’s possible in Portland politics.
“People who believe in public campaign finance think it’s a cure-all,” says former Commissioner Randy Leonard, “and I don’t think it is.”
Tigard residents last week approved proceeding with the next step of a proposed $2.5 billion light-rail line from Portland to Tualatin. But just barely.
The margin: 139 votes.
The final tally, which narrowed considerably from early returns, marks a comeback from 2012, when light-rail foes forced the requirement that citizens vote on any rail project.
The narrow victory—just three-tenths of 1 percent of the 25,037 votes cast—does not mean the new line will get funded or built. But a “no” vote would have stopped it in its tracks.
TriMet opened the Orange Line to Milwaukie in September 2015 and could open a line to Tualatin—including shopping meccas Cabela’s and Bridgeport Village—in 2025. But getting federal funding from the new Congress will be challenging.