I'm absolutely devastated that two members of Oregon's Congressional delegation-- Rep Kurt Schrader (D) and Rep Greg Walden (R)--- voted to gut the Americans with Disabilities Act. Simply heartbreaking.
Excellent editorial from the Daily Astorian!
Yet the caucus’ statement about that detailed investigation report said, “The behavior alleged in the report, if true, is obviously not acceptable to the Senate Republican caucus.”
... If true …...
Those two words underscore why victims of harassment are reluctant to speak up. Even when supported by compelling evidence — like the Kruse investigation report — they fear not being believed.
More good news! The last building of the old Fairview Training Center in Oregon started coming down a few days ago. May its kind NEVER come to Oregon again!
What it means to survivors when people in power question the truth of proven allegations and praise the perpetrators instead of demanding accountability:
"There it is again. The words “mere allegation” and “falsely accused” meant to imply that I am a liar. That Colbie Holderness is a liar. That the work Rob was doing in the White House was of higher value than our mental, emotional or physical wellbeing. That his professional contributions are worth more than the truth. That ...abuse is something to be questioned and doubted. . . .
The tendency to avoid, deny, or cover up abuse is never really about power, or money, or an old boys’ club. It is deeper than that. Rather than embarrass an abuser, society is subconsciously trained to question a victim of abuse. . .
If the most powerful people in the nation do not believe my story of abuse in the face of overwhelming evidence, then what hope do others have of being heard?"
Good news for women in the Capitol workplace!
Several nursing moms (and soon to be nursing moms) led by Angela Donley (my chief of staff) and Eva Rippeteau (AFSCME) have established a much more functional nursing room at the Capitol.
It has a refrigerator to store milk (donated by Elizabeth Remley and Thornrun) and cubbies ...
(donated by Jack Dempsey of ONA) to store pumping supplies. It's been up and running only a few days and is already in heavy use. And I understand that women across the Capitol are letting Eva and Angela know how much it is needed and appreciated.
Props also go to Betsy Imholt in the Senate President's Office for connecting folks with facilities and ensuring this idea could be put into action so quickly.
Hooray for working moms and healthy babies!
Senator Sara Gelser's Statement on Release of Kruse Report:
The findings of fact are stunning in the independent investigation of my allegations that Senator Kruse engaged in a pattern of harassing behavior against women, including members of staff and the lobbying community. I brought the complaint because I believed someone in power needed to speak up for women who did not have the power to do so. However, I was shocked and heartbroken to learn the full extent of the abuse... young women experienced at the hands of Senator Kruse--- especially because many of these events occurred after the Assembly was aware that his behavior put women at risk.
I appreciate that we have a process. But that process is lengthy and fails to provide a timely mechanism to protect women from substantiated, persistent and severe harassment. That process allowed the number of victims to increase, and for the nature of the behavior to escalate. That is unacceptable.
The Assembly has been aware—for months—about the most serious allegations against Senator Kruse involving law interns and a lobbyist. Now that these allegations have been substantiated, the Senate must act immediately to keep staff, lobbyists and the public safe.
The young law student forced to leave her internship due to the degrading treatment she received from Senator Kruse did not benefit from a months long process that protected her. She simply lost her opportunity to serve in her State Capitol Building. She and other women in the Legislature should not have to wait until May to see what should be an obvious outcome—the removal of Senator Kruse from the Oregon State Senate. We also need to fix our process so that the Legislature has the authority to act decisively when people are at risk—even when the offenders are elected officials.
Women are watching and waiting. They rightly expect their elected leaders to enforce the laws and policies of this state. I call on Senator Kruse to demonstrate a modicum of respect for the women he has violated by resigning immediately. If not, the Senate should use every tool at its disposal to ensure that he has no further access to women and should expel him as soon as possible.
Transparency and the Napa State Hospital.
Napa State Hospital was subject of concern for federal attorneys in 2012 due to "a pattern of incidents of death and serious harm over a recent 16-month period" resulting from poor use of restraints." Dolly Matteucci was the Executive Director or Acting ED during this timeframe. Because of these concerns, Napa remained under federal oversight while other institutions were released. Dolly Matteucci was recently named as the new Superintendent of the Oregon State Hospital.
"Brandon Joseph Coates, a patient who stood 6 feet 4 and weighed 300 pounds, died May 1 after hospital security officers whom he had allegedly assaulted placed him face down in handcuffs. In their filings with Collins' court, federal attorneys called it part of "a pattern of incidents of death and serious harm over a recent 16-month period" resulting from poor use of restraints.
Such restraints contributed to one patient's broken bones and another's death in 2011, according to a declaration from the court monitor, Virginia psychiatrist Mohamed El-Sabaawi."
Today's release of the Oregon Foster Care Audit highlights key needs for improvement in our system to protect Oregon's kids. We have been confronting these issues daily for the last 3 years, and have started making progress to untangle the challenges that have been at least two decades in the making. My takeaways from the audit:
* Governor Brown has been on the right track by demanding change in the culture at DHS. From shake ups of leadership, to decisive action when cour...se correction is needed after new hires, to opening the agency to rigorous public scrutiny she has demanded accountability, transparency and a focus on child safety.
* Oregon has failed to invest in critical human service programs like child welfare. Case workers struggle with inadequate training, poor supervision, lack of support and exhaustion from the dangerous and heart wrenching work that they do. We need better training, greater support and more people to do the work. The audit rightly points out the severe understaffing at the agency. Until we as Oregonians invest in the tools that are needed at the agency, we will not see the improvements that we need. And, as we confront these challenges openly, we have to remember to take care of the people who keep coming back to work every day to serve Oregon kids.
* We need foster parents. Lots of them, and in every corner of the state so that we can match kids and families for success. We need to do a better job supporting families in the system, offering respite and networking and training. We also need to expand the pool of people who can be foster parents by matching rates to the real costs associated with raising kids--- including child care.
* We have new leaders at DHS who did not create these problems, but have demonstrated a clear commitment to making change. Marilyn Jones, the new child welfare director, made real changes that directly impacted cases I'd been working on for months within the first 5 hours of coming on the the job. We need to support her and give her the space, time and resources to do the job Oregonians demand, and that kids need and deserve.
* We cannot politicize this issue. The problems at DHS are rooted in inadequate investment and decades of decisions by policy makers of both parties. A strong child welfare system is something that should bring us together, and using these problems for political purposes is dangerous for kids and will diminish the importance of the work we must do together to get this right.
* Finally, human service programs are important and doing them well is not free. We must find a way to adequately support all of our human services programs. It is not enough to point fingers when things go wrong. We must set up these programs and those who lead them for success.
Please vote YES on Measure 101. Also PLEASE RETURN YOUR BALLOT TO AN OFFICIAL BALLOT BOX. My district office is not an official ballot box. No one will be in that office between today and the election, so ballots there WILL NOT be counted. Please don't leave your ballot at my office. You can find your nearest official ballot box in the link below.
What a joy to join one of my best and oldest friends, Christina Suzann Nelson at the launch of Every Child in Linn and Benton County. What a wonderful initiative for our community born of the hard work of committed volunteers!
My heart is broken by the loss of our friend and neighbor, Bob Ozretich. Bob was a quietly powerful man. He fought for peace, equality and the ideals of Democracy. Along with his wife, friend and partner, Rachel, he tirelessly volunteered for community and political events and never wavered in his principles or his commitment to peace, equality, and equal justice. That his life came to an end while he was serving our community on a beautiful Saturday morning is a tribute to his selfless commitment to putting words into action, and walking the walk. Bob will be sorely missed, and my thoughts are with Rachel and all who loved and knew Bob.
Tomorrow, we will introduce legislation to address the problem of DHS bias against parents with disabilities . This case is a clear illustration of why this legislation is so desperately needed.
Many thanks to everyone who turned out for the Town Hall at the Linn County Dems meeting in Albany tonight. Great questions, great energy, great possibilities!
Also, I hope you can join me on Tuesday or Thursday night at the Benton County Public Library for one of two Measure 101 forums. Tuesday night is the Corvallis City Club, and on Thursday evening I'll be debating my friend and colleague Rep. Cedric Hayden who is one of the chief opponents of Measure 101. Great chance to hear from both sides of this issue and get your questions answered. (Also, please vote YES!)
I'm proud to support the Clean Energy Jobs Bill and can't wait to get to work on it in February!
It's satisfying to see legislation I've worked on make meaningful change and work the way it's intended. My hat is off to Tobias Read, Ted Wheeler and the whole Oregon ABLE and 529 team for making this exceed all expectations. Because they let people with disabilities lead the way in design and implementation, there are already 1,000 individuals with disabilities saving money-- something they weren't allowed to do before. Here's a picture of the ABLE savings team as the bill was moving through the Senate in 2015!