Political developments kept us busy this week, starting with state Rep. Khanh Pham telling Julia Shumway she plans to run for the 23rd Senate District in Portland. A Democrat, Pham hopes to replace Democratic Sen. Michael Dembrow, who’s retiring. Hours later, Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum announced she won’t run for a fourth term. At 72, she said it was time for fresh ideas in the office.
Also this week, state Rep. Vikki Breese-Iverson, who leads the House Republican caucus, said she would step down as leader while remaining in the Legislature. “Make no mistake, I am not departing politics, only looking toward the next opportunity to serve and bring more balance to Oregon,” Breese-Iverson said in a statement.
There was also news for Democrats this week, and in Clackamas County it was not good. The party’s county headquarters was vandalized – for the second time in weeks. No one has been injured, but the attacks are putting people on edge.
Measure 110 popped back into the news this week. Ben Botkin reported on a planned trip by lawmakers and others to Portugal to learn about that country’s two decades of experience with drug decriminalization. They’ll likely discover that Portugal is suffering from some of the same ailments that are plaguing Oregon since drug decriminalization – rising crime and overdoses. But Portugal still has a better handle on the situation, Botkin reported.
At the same time, a newly formed group, the Coalition to Fix and Improve Ballot Measure 110, announced it had filed two ballot measures to change the law by recriminalizing drug possession and requiring people to undergo addiction treatment. The group has $700,000 in donations from Nike co-founder Phil Knight and others.
State auditors announced findings of millions in misspent federal funds by four state agencies. The total – $35 million – stemmed from questionable expenditures.
And finally, state student assessment scores were released this week. The upshot: Students are stagnating, Alex Baumhardt reported. State education officials have failed to detail a roadmap for improving student proficiency in core subjects.