The Platform, Resolution and Legislation Committee [PRLC] has begun the work of drafting the 2022 Multnomah County Democrats’ Platform and would like other Multnomah Democrats’ input over the next few months as Planks and Legislative Action Items for the Articles are developed for the Platform Convention to be held on November 6, 2021.
The Platform is a compilation of statements of our basic beliefs and principles that guides our positions on legislation at the federal, state and local level.
These statements or Planks are organized around themes or Articles, such as Education or Economy. Each Article has a Preamble or summary of the Plank ideas. A Preamble for the whole document describes the relationship of the Articles within the document.
Each Article of the Platform also contains Legislative Action Items [LAIs]. These are suggestions for specific legislation we think would address the ideas described in the Planks and are used to lobby and encourage Legislators on the work we would like to see them undertake.
The PRLC is organized into Study Groups, one for each Article, who follow the legislation pertaining to the Planks and LAIs in their Article and report to the Central Committee on pertinent legislative activity.
The first step in drafting the 2022 Platform was to review the Planks from the 2020 Platform. The Study Groups have updated the planks and drafted new ones for each Article.
Why did you become involved in the Democratic Party of Multnomah County?
I had always been peripherally involved with politics – mostly blogging and then volunteering in campaigns here and there – but after Trump happened, I knew I had to get back in. Nothing less than American democracy was at stake. So, I became a PCP again in December 2016. While the immediate danger might be over, American democracy is still in trouble. We need all hands on deck.
Why do you think it’s important for Democrats to become involved at the local level?
The most basic and important decisions are made at the local level. Progressive policy decisions in school boards and water districts have real impacts on people’s lives.
What are some of the priorities for our state and for Multnomah County this year?
Our top priority needs to be emerging from the pandemic with resolve to build an equitable, green Oregon. This cannot simply be a matter of State or Federal action. Solutions need to start at the local level. “Think Globally, Act Locally” has never been more important.
What is making you hopeful right now?
Every day, I see the youth engaged in ways that my generation wasn’t. This gives me hope that the country will be in better hands as I get older.
What advice can you provide to our Democrats in Multnomah County?
Register 15,000 more Democrats! Multnomah voters, especially NAVs, tend to be more progressive. If we want progressives to win more primaries, we want more progressives to become Democrats! And the BEST place to do this is Multnomah County.
What is redistricting? Redistricting is the drawing of the boundaries of voting districts. A voting district is a geographical area that the government uses to create groups who vote for a representative in a legislative body like the Oregon State Senate, House, or US House of Representatives. Only voters within that district can cast ballots for candidates who represent them in that district. KGW has a very short background video on redistricting in Oregon.
“Redistricting is immensely important to collective political power. It impacts who our communities have the power to elect, and thus their ability to shape local, state, and federal policies that affect their lives. The redistricting process presents a vital opportunity to advocate for voting districts boundaries that are truly representative of our communities” (Summer 2021, NorCalACLU News).
All voting districts must be created in line with constitutional law that districts must be approximately equal in population. For example, in the Oregon state legislature we have 30 Senators with staggered elections every four years and 60 Representatives elected every two years. Thus, we have 30 Senatorial districts and 60 Representative districts. In the US Congress, we have a House of Representatives with 435 elected representatives from the same number of voting districts. (The two US Senators per state are not included in this because they represent their states, not the population.) It stands to reason that the districts should be equal in size, otherwise there might be one representative for 20,000 people and another for 2,000,000 people in different districts. That would not be fair for the 2 million, to be sure.
Another key principle of these voting districts is that within each level the districts should not only be the same size but represent the district constituents (voters). The Ballotpedia link expands on the idea of additional criteria for determining the voting district lines and describes the additional criteria for redistricting in Oregon.
Why do we need redistricting? When many new people move into a voting district and make the formerly equal population districts now unequal, “redistricting” is needed. At the federal and at the state level, redistricting occurs every 10 years and follows the population figures from the US Census. This year the Census Bureau will issue its guidelines for the size of each district for US Congressional representation on August 16.
Because Oregon has had a substantial increase in population since the last census in 2010, the US Census Bureau has determined that Oregon will get one more representative in the US House of Representatives. We currently have five and will now have six. The last time this happened was 40 years ago. In addition, based on the 2020 census, Like Oregon these states also gain seats, +1 seat each: Colorado, Florida, Montana, North Carolina: +2, Texas. These states lose seats, -1: California, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia.The Cook Political Report has a great webpage of the redistricting process across all the states, here
Who makes decisions on redistricting in a state? Redistricting is done at the state level by an independent commission, the state legislature, or a hybrid of the two. Oregon’s redistricting starts with a committee from the Senate and the House legislature. Based on the Oregon Constitution there is a deadline for completion of the districts after the state receives the census data on August 16. These deadlines vary from state to state because they are sensitive to whenever the state starts having its primaries and elections. This year in Oregon redistricting is in the hands of the legislature and a balanced committee of Democrats and Republicans. If the committee cannot agree, the responsibility for redistricting for the state legislature is handed over to the Oregon Secretary of State on September 27. There does not seem to be a similar backup plan for the US Congressional maps. District lines are subject to veto by the Governor, however. If you look at the Oregon State Legislature redistricting website you will also see a calendar for hearings in the middle of September about the districts proposed by the legislature. Also, look at Ballotpedia link for the specifics of redistricting in Oregon. It is a very thorough resource.
What are the issues and challenges with redistricting? The biggest problem with redistricting is gerrymandering, the practice of drawing districts to favor one political party or racial group, skews election results, makes races less competitive, hurts communities of color, and thwarts the will of the voters. It leads many Americans to feel their voices don’t matter.
Ballotpedia: Encyclopedia of American Politics. The section entitled “State-based Requirements” partway down addresses, along with population, other metrics to use to decide how to create these districts. https://ballotpedia.org/Redistricting
You are invited to help re-write the Tribal Sovereignty article of MultDems’ Platform on Monday, August 16 from noon to 1 p.m. The Zoom link is provided below.
Here’s the link to the Tribal Sovereignty article of the current (2020) Platform. https://multdems.org/…/platform-of…/tribal-sovereignty/
How can the upcoming (2022) version be improved? What needs to stay? What, if anything, could be cut? What needs to be added – like employment, for example?All are welcome: Indigenous people, advocates, and allies.#TSLASG#TribalSovereigntyLegislativeActionStudyGroup#tribalsovereignty
One tap mobile+14086380968,,86255593582#,,,,421722# US (San Jose)+16699006833,,86255593582#,,,,421722# US (San Jose)Dial by your location +1 408 638 0968 US (San Jose) +1 669 900 6833 US (San Jose) +1 253 215 8782 US (Tacoma) +1 346 248 7799 US (Houston) +1 646 876 9923 US (New York) +1 301 715 8592 US (Washington DC) +1 312 626 6799 US (Chicago)Meeting ID: 862 5559 3582Passcode: 421722Find your local number: https://us02web.zoom.us/u/kcYcdflIiL
In 2016 Oregon Business Leaders convened their Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions Reduction Task Force to formulate a 5-year plan to recommend strategies to reduce in-state emissions. These leaders did not question the link between business climate and state emissions.
Legislators, mostly Democrats, energetically responded to the carbon pricing strategies recommended in the task force report found here, pages 17-19.
This is what the business task force recognized:
The longer we delay, the more climate change adaptation and mitigation will cost. Taking the wrong actions today could also increase costs; increasing energy prices would hurt the pocketbooks of Oregonians and reduce the competitiveness of Oregon businesses in the global marketplace.
There was nothing unconventional about this strategy. Notably, it provided evidence that declines in GHG emissions were attained with no adverse trends in economic measures like GDP. Legislators, mostly Democrats, energetically researched and compiled a comprehensive bill and gave it a priority in the 2020 session in Salem. It offered relief from economic stress to specified business interests including agriculture and forestry. Then there were surprises. Log trucks circled the Capitol.* Rural legislators left the state. It was clear that some electeds regarded economic threats from carbon pricing to exceed the prospects of climate/economic damage not seen until today (105 deg F, higher tomorrow).
These Oregon Business Strategies from 2017 clearly offered a success path in defending GHG-sensitive resources (people, property, agriculture, forestry, public health, the young and the old) from predictable and dire circumstances coming to pass now.
*It must be noted that Oregon timber harvester interests were not included as members of the task force but had a disproportionate role in defeating the business task force strategies dealing with cap and trade policy.
Oregon takes a significant leadership role
Today our Oregon legislature passed the 2021 Clean Energy Bill, HB 2021 C. Rather than pricing carbon it calls for a positive transition to non-emitting energy sources that are less costly for utilities and eventually rate-payers than carbon-sourced energy. Here are the emission reduction numbers (expressed annually in million metric tons of CO2 – mmtCO2 ) as committed for Oregon’s future if the transition non-emitting resources succeeds by the legislated end dates. Oregon’s annual emissions are typically reported as 60 mmt CO2 in adding up all sectors.
HB 2021 C
‘Baseline emissions level’ means the average annual emissions of greenhouse gas for the years 2010, 2011 and 2012 associated with the electricity sold to retail electricity consumers …
Emissions Displaced per year
2010 = 20.3 mmt CO2
2011 = 18.1 mmt CO2
2012 = 17.3 mmt CO2, with average of 19 mmt CO2/year.
You will find it difficult to find any enacted policy anywhere on the planet that in one measure attains half of the UN IPCC carbon reduction goals in the energy sector by 2030. The good news does not end here.
Duty of care begins with knowing what is needed. Significant progress in cutting carbon emissions since 2000 is not generally known. To continue effectively and confidently, our advances must be understood from open evidence.
This IEA graphic shows that annual carbon emissions declined during the global COVID crisis and are expected to rebound as economies return. Various possibilities for rebound are noted. Global emissions are measured in Gigatons CO2/yr (Gt CO2). Gt = billions = 1000 mmt
What is the % decline in emissions due to COVID beginning early 2020? It’s about 11%.
A similar decline occurred from the 2008 mortgage crisis, measured in millions of tonnes of CO2 emissions reduction in 2009 in California. The % decline measured from CA emissions data was 6% per year.
As our commitments get more serious, it’s good to know what it took to attain these historical reductions on a beneficial scale.
Emissions from business-as-usual in the US have been in decline for a number of reasons. “With emissions down 21% below 2005 levels, this means the US is expected to far exceed its 2020 Copenhagen Accord target of a 17% reduction below 2005 levels.” This quote from a Rhodium Group report indicates a trend that should enlist continuing confidence in steady decarbonization: business is finding ways to reduce carbon fuels, operate more efficiently, invest in energy saving technology. https://rhg.com/research/preliminary-us-emissions-2020/
Clean energy subsidies have taken on a significant role, enabling cycles of virtuous investment. “How the U.S. Made Progress on Climate Change Without Ever Passing a Bill
Democrats and the Oregon Economy? Is anyone more effective in dealing with the fossil fuel-driven future that no one wanted or admitted?
What are the different roles you have served in the Democratic Party?
Currently, I am a Precinct Committee Person, Vice Chair 1 for Multnomah County Democrats, and a member of the State Central Committee Budget Committee. Recently, I was District Leader for HD 48/51, and campaign committee volunteer organizing voter registration and election volunteers for fall 2020. I was also a Platform and Resolution Committee member for the Multnomah County and State Committee and a member of the Oregon State Fair committee.
Why did you become involved in the Democratic Party of Multnomah County?
I’d long been active with the Democratic Party in Los Angeles when we moved to Oregon in 2013. Even while we were still living at a hotel, before we could move into our house, I attended the Summer Picnic in Gresham, met a lot of great people and signed up.
I’ve been a lifelong Democrat, active in anti war, civil rights and women’s rights as a young person. Always a voter, I’d returned to activism again in 2007 as it was clear voting was not enough to make change.
Why do you think it’s important for Democrats to become involved at the local level?
Decisions made at local city, school board, and county levels affect us personally. Are we educating and nurturing all our children to provide real opportunity? Are all our residents safe to live and work here? Can we pilot ideas that other cities and states can take up — for preschool? for climate? Special interests and monied interests will always invest in these races to advance their agendas, it’s up to us to advance the people’s interests.
What are some of the priorities for our state and for Multnomah County this year
The Governor’s race will be critical; It’s going to be a big task to pull our state together after the isolation and stress of the pandemic and the wide gulf between voters in our state.
Climate is hitting Oregon hard with drought and fires, we urgently need job creating solutions that can bring more of the state together to build resilience.
Our long and present history of systemic racism is still creating substantial harm.
One of my biggest hopes is that the City of Portland can restructure our government to serve us much better — with voting representation, constituent services and advocacy for every part of the city and professional, dedicated leaders for city departments.
What is making you hopeful right now?
Every day that I talk with a new volunteer, Neighborhood Leader or PCP and hear their commitment to democracy and making our lives better – how can I not feel renewed enthusiasm for the work?!
Why did you become involved in the Democratic Party of Multnomah County? It was a place where I could try to make things better for all the people.
Why do you think it’s important for Democrats to become involved at the local level? Because that’s where they live. The affinity for community is important in terms of persuading others to support Democratic principles.
What are some of the priorities for our state and for Multnomah County this year? Police accountability, housing, health care, education, environment, economic security.
What is making you hopeful right now? The recognition by more and more people that they cannot let someone else make decisions for them — that they have to be involved.
Today, Oregon is known as one of the most broad-minded states in the country. It has consistently for years been placed in polls as one of the top 10 most liberal states to live in. Portland, the state’s largest city, has hosted the most continuous Black Lives Matter protest in the nation. It is also credited as one of the driving forces against the Trump Administration’s attempts to use the Nixonian campaign strategy of “law and order” to win a second term. Just recently on June 1st, 2021 the Oregon State Senate passed House Bill 2168 establishing a cultural and historical significant date as an official Oregon State holiday known as Juneteenth. Senator Lew Fredericks stated “HB 2168 designates June 19th as an Oregon State holiday, commemorating the arrival on horseback of the news of the Emancipation Proclamation in Galveston Texas, in 1865 to the cheers of African Americans then Enslaved.”
As forward thinking as Oregon is, and as supportive as Oregon appears to be of its African American residents, the 86% white state has a history of racial subjugation and prejudicial societal ideals. Even before Oregon became a state it was being purposely designed as a Caucasian-only haven. In the 1840’s the provisional government enacted laws against slavery while at the same time forbidding people of African descent the legality of settling in the area. With such laws as the 1843 Oregon Lash law stating that any free black person over the age of 18 “caught” living in Oregon was to be whipped every six months by the county constable until the person left the territory; literally criminalizing the presence of black people in the region. In 1859 Oregon was the first and the only state to be admitted into the Union with Racial Exclusion Laws in its Constitution. The laws remained until 1926, with original racist language finally being changed in 2002. In the 1920’s, one in twenty Oregonians was a card carrying member of the Ku Klux Klan, the highest percentage of any state west of the Mississippi.
Oregon has been slow to confront its bigoted history, taking 89 years (in 1959) to affirm the 15th amendment giving Black citizens the right to vote (which was ratified by the rest of country on February 3rd , 1870) and 162 years to eradicate the racist language in its constitution. Oregon also took another More baffling still, is the fact that Oregon didn’t fully ratify the 14th amendment granting citizenship and equal protection to African Americans until 1973!
It is important for societies to remember their histories, especially when it comes from such places as Oregon’s racially iniquitous past. As the saying goes, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” We can use it as a barometer to measure where we are and what direction we as a state should be headed. State Senator Lew Frederick (D-Portland) said it best “This new holiday recognizes that the people of the state of Oregon, despite our past, can take the veil of ignorance away and each year celebrate hope on Juneteenth.” That being said, Juneteenth’s recognition as an official state holiday starting June 19th, 2022 does not erase the past, but shows us as citizens of Oregon that however slow; progress is being made.
Please see more about Juneteenth, in this 2020 article by Dr. Rosa Colquitt, HERE.
(Damien Grace is the pen name of David Burnell, Multnomah County Democrats activist and PCP in HD 43.)