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Member Spotlight: Marcia Schneider

Marcia Schneider, Vice Chair 1 for Multnomah County Democrats and all-around active Democrat

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?!

Lew Frederick

Member Spotlight: Senator Lew Frederick

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.

 

A brief history of the racial culture in Oregon and why Juneteenth matters

 

Oregon Senator Lew Frederick with the author’s children.

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.)

Campaign Finance Reform with Teeth

By Gary Leitke, Election Integrity Study Group

Campaign Finance may well be the FOREMOST PRIORITY for this Oregon legislative session. Until comprehensive limits are set, elections will remain unfair and unreachable to everyday citizens. 

Voters resoundingly approved constitutional amendment Measure 107 last November, to allow finance limits, post SCOTUS Citizens United decision.

But unless follow-up legislation establishes stringent, comprehensive limits—elections will continue to be “bought” and money will steal the ability of everyday citizens to be heard fairly. Electeds will be chosen by money and subsequently influenced by money. Few of lesser means can compete as candidates. Legislation aimed to benefit everyday (esp. poor) people will be impaired. That includes many, many bills for which MultDems advocate in our Platform and support by testifying at hearings and writing to their electeds.

Our Election Integrity study group sees HB3343 as the best of 3 current limit-setting bills still alive. But we are not satisfied that any of them satisfactorily limit money flow FROM groups (e.g., PACs, SuperPACs, and party caucuses).

Unless legislation effectively limits ALL contribution sources, especially including groups, from funding a campaign, it’s like squeezing a balloon; flow may be partially restricted, but rushes in from the rest of the balloon.

Write your legislators to boldly restrict contributions by groups.

Build Back Better

The White House Briefing Room 

This is the moment to reimagine and rebuild a new economy. The American Jobs  Plan is an investment in America that will create millions of good jobs, rebuild our country’s infrastructure, and position the United States to out-compete China. The plan prioritizes addressing persistent racial injustice and invests in rural communities and communities impacted by the transition to clean energy. The American Jobs Plan will invest in America in a way we have not invested since we built the interstate highways and won the Space Race. 

Joe Biden’s American Jobs Plan is widely popular 60% of US voters said they support the White House’s American Jobs Plan, including 84% of Democrats, 51% of independents and 35% of Republicans.  —Morning Consult / Politico April 2-4 2021 

We will

Modernize highways, rebuild bridges, upgrade ports, airports and transit systems. 

Create good jobs electrifying vehicles. 

Deliver clean drinking water, a renewed electric grid, and high-speed broadband to all Americans.  

Solidify the infrastructure of our care economy by creating jobs and raising wages and benefits for essential home care workers. 

Revitalize manufacturing, secure U.S. supply chains, invest in R&D, and training. 

Create good-quality jobs that pay prevailing wages in safe and healthy workplaces, ensuring  workers are free to organize, join a union, and bargain collectively with their employers.

Make our infrastructure more resilient: Safeguard critical infrastructure and services, and defend vulnerable communities.  

Produce, preserve, and retrofit more than a million affordable, resilient, accessible, energy efficient, and electrified homes. 

Modernize our nation’s schools and early learning facilities. 

Establish the United States as a leader in climate science, innovation, and R&D. Partner with rural and Tribal communities to create jobs and economic growth across America. 

So much more at www.Whitehouse.gov 

Corporations will do their fair share. 

Senator Ron Wyden, chair of the Senate Finance  committee, along with colleagues progressive Sen Sherrod Brown and centrist Mark Warner are  putting together the pay-for of this landmark jobs  plan. Built to attract widespread Senate support,  the plan will tax offshore income more aggressively  and offer new targeted benefits for companies that  invest in research and production here at home. 

We’re asking American Corporations to pay their  fair share. President Joe Biden reminds us, “You have 51 or 52 corporations of the Fortune 500  that haven’t paid a single penny in taxes for three  years,” he said. “Come on, man. Let’s get real.” 

www.nytimes.com/2021/04/05/business/raising-taxes-corpor ations.html 

Democrats Deliver

What’s in the American Rescue Plan for you and your family 

Here’s some of the tools to help us to recover our health, our schools and our economy: 

COVID Vaccinations — we’re over 200 million  doses already

The ARP invests about $160 billion to manufacture and provide the vaccines, supplies, testing, and public health workforce to stop the spread of  COVID-19 while distributing vaccines as quickly as possible to states, counties, pharmacies,  community health centers and mobile vaccinators as we continue to address racial disparities in  COVID-19 outcomes. As of April 19 — all Oregonians 16+ will be eligible to receive a vaccine. Find an  appointment https://covidvaccine.oregon.gov/ 

Safely re-open schools

Provide $130 billion to help schools serve all students, no matter where they are learning, to safely open schools and keep them open. 

These investments include set-asides at the local and state level to ensure states and districts address the learning loss and social and emotional needs of students disproportionately impacted by  COVID-19, including students of color, English learners, and students with disabilities.  

Immediate relief to American families. Direct payment of a $1,400 per-person, bringing  total per-person relief payment from this and the  December down payment to $2,000. 

Extend current unemployment insurance benefits and eligibility to September 6, with a $300 per week supplement so 18 million American workers can pay their bills. Also the first $10,200 of unemployment benefits received in 2020 will be tax-free. 

Help Americans stay in their homes. The pandemic has left 1 in 5 renters and millions of homeowners behind. Through states and local governments, ARP provides emergency rental assistance to cover back rent. And funds to help struggling homeowners catch up with their mortgage payments and utility costs through the  Homeowners Assistance Fund. And, it provides additional funding for families and individuals who are recovering from or at risk of homelessness. Oregon will be distributing funds at www.oregon.gov/ohcs/. Multnomah County residents will be able to access through calling 211. 

Keep food on the table

The American Rescue Plan will increase SNAP  nutrition assistance benefits by 15 percent  through September 2021. It increases Seniors’  and Women and Children’s assistance. Protects  food worker safety and support for farmers of  color. The bill also funds partnerships with  restaurants to feed American families and keep  workers in the restaurant industry on the job.  

Cut childhood poverty by half

Increase the Child Tax Credit from $2,000 per child to $3,000 per child ($3,600 for a child under age 6). This means a typical family of four with two young children will receive an additional  $3,200 in assistance to help cover costs associated with raising children. The families of more than 66 million kids will benefit beginning this summer, with advance payments arriving as a monthly check. If you’re welcoming a new baby this year — look for the new IRS portal soon that allows you to receive your full benefit. 

Protect our Health Care

Lower or eliminate health insurance premiums for millions of lower and middle-income families enrolled in health insurance marketplaces. A family of four making $90,000 could see their monthly premium come down by $200 per month. The plan also subsidizes premiums for continuation health coverage (COBRA) for workers who had insurance through their jobs. 

Support resurgence of Small Business. Since the beginning of this pandemic, 400,000  small businesses have closed and millions more are hanging by a thread. ARP provides emergency grants, lending, and investment to hard-hit small businesses so they can rehire and retain workers and purchase the health and sanitation equipment they need to keep workers safe. This includes a  Small Business Opportunity Fund to provide growth capital to Main Street small businesses in economically disadvantaged areas, including minority-owned businesses. And extending the  Employee Retention Credit for small businesses  through December 2021 

Provide $28 billion for a new grant program  to support hard-hit small restaurants and  other food and drinking establishments. Grants can be used for payroll costs, mortgage,  rent, utilities, new outdoor seating construction,  PPE and cleaning materials, inventory, paid sick  leave, etc This could be a lifeline for many of our  friends and neighbors. Find the details for this RRF  Grant and other SBA support www.sba.gov.  Special thanks to Congressman Earl Blumenauer  for championing this program. 

Sustaining our Arts Community

Grants for live venue operators, theatrical producers, live performing arts organization operators, museum operators, motion picture theatre operators, and talent representatives that are struggling. See Shuttered Venues at  www.sba.gov 

Distribute more than $360 billion in emergency  funding for state, local, territorial, and Tribal  governments to ensure that they are in a position  to keep public workers on the job and paid,  while also effectively distributing the vaccine,  scaling testing, reopening schools, and maintaining  other vital services. And help hard-hit public  transit agencies avoid layoffs and service  reductions, which disproportionately harm  workers who are more likely to be dependent on  public transportation.  

Keeping Fire, Police, front-line workers  on the job

American Rescue Plan Benefits Oregon 

• $2.758 billion in state fiscal relief 

• $1.5 billion in local fiscal relief 

• More than $1.1 billion in relief for K-12 schools 

• Economic impact payments of up to $1,400 per person (above the $600 per person provided in   December) for more than 2.7 million adults and   971,000 children. This is 86% of all adults in the state and 86% of all children in the state. 

• Additional relief of up to $1,600 per child through the Child Tax Credit to the families of 779,000 children, lifting 40,000 children out of poverty 

• Additional relief of up to nearly $1,000 through the Earned Income Tax Credit to 264,000 childless workers, including many in front-line jobs 

• Marketplace health insurance premiums that are $1325 lower per month for a 60-year old couple earning $75,000 per year 

Visit the White House website for more information https://www.whitehouse.gov/american-rescue-plan/ 

Thanks to our members of Congress for their advocacy and updates. 

Rep Earl Blumenauer, 

Rep Suzanne Bonamici, 

Sen Ron Wyden 

Sen Jeff Merkley 

Neighborhood Leader Program and the May 18th Elections

Biden and Harris may be in the White House, but local elections will determine how well we can build back better! School boards and special districts are on the ballot and we have very strong candidates in the mix.

Neighborhood leaders share information door-to-door (and text-by-text) to build stronger communities and get out the vote. You can hit them up for information on who will be on your ballot and why these special elections are so important. Multnomah Democrats Neighborhood Leaders will receive their briefing packets this week!

If you’d like to be a Neighborhood Leader, or you have been one in the past, check to be sure that we have your most current contact information on file.  

> Sign up for the Democratic Party of Oregon’s Neighborhood Leader Program here!

Neighborhood Leaders enjoy their "turf drop" conversations.

Committee Spotlight: Climate Action Team

Sooner or later, Oregon taxpayers will want to know how Oregon revenue is expended to protect natural resources, in the same way public health has been defended during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Democrats should be worrying about climate solutions and policies that do not and cannot deal with effectively saving the environment from climate damage. When false solutions fail, environmental justice and equity reforms also fail. 

The MultDems Climate Action Team (CAT) has discerned some key questions for our county and our state:

What bills constitute scientifically sound solutions for decarbonization?  

We are fully engaged in supporting HB 2021-23, 100% Clean Energy for Oregon. This bill excludes any utility energy fuel that emits carbon by 2040, by statutory definition of “non emitting” fuel.

What existing policies are not measuring up to the now-increasing need for effective action?  

Emission cuts accomplished in California from relying on Renewable Portfolio Standards, Low Carbon Fuel Standards, Cap and Trade offsets and other bills and policies summed together have reduced state emissions by only 0.5% per year.  The effectiveness of Oregon’s versions of these measures has not been reported, and it is unlikely that ours will be more effective at a smaller scale. Under consideration with the CAT is a rule to rate every bill with metrics that measure its effectiveness in reducing annual carbon emissions.

To get involved, please contact Debbie Gordon at:  

Celsi Celebration Join the Big Tent Party

BUY TICKETS NOW!!

 

Last year’s Celsi Celebration (the Multnomah County Democrats’ signature fundraising event of the year) was cancelled due to the pandemic. Though a “Beyond Celsi” virtual auction raised some of the anticipated funds, it was a down year for the organization’s fundraising. We need all hands on deck to make the 2021 Celsi Celebration come back strong!

June 26th is the date for the 2021 Big Tent Party Celsi Celebration Fundraiser, with both in-person and virtual options. More details about the event will be coming soon, but volunteers and donations are welcome now.

The Celsi Celebration was named for Dick Celsi, who served as Chair of the Multnomah County Democrats during the 1970s and Chair of the State Democratic Party during the 1980s and into the 1990s. The Celsi committee is now accepting nominations for this year’s awards, and https://celsi.multdems.org/ has more information and regular updates. Email   if you’d like to join the event committee or donate items for the auction.

MARCH Digest: Strengthening Democracy

March is women’s history month, and four years ago, women took to the streets to lead protests across the US that set a tone of resistance against an autocratic president who sought to undermine our democracy. Four years later, voters rejected the trend toward autocratic rule in favor of restoring respect for the rule of law. In Georgia, Stacy Abrams spent years preparing the ground game that flipped that state blue to establish a united government under Democrats for what may be a brief window of opportunity.  

This month, in honor of the leadership of the women who pushed back against authoritarianism, the March Digest focuses on how we move forward to strengthen democracy. We have worked too hard and come too far to not go the rest of the way and pass legislation that stops voter suppression and protects democracy for future generations. HB1, the For the People Act in Congress, goes a long way to resolve many of the issues. Closer to home, the Election Integrity Caucus of the state Demoratic party released its Alternative Voting Methods Report calling out STAR Voting as the best popular alternative voting method in Oregon and calling for it’s adoption statewide.

In this issue, we will look at some of the steps we still need to take to restore and assure election integrity, including voting reform, and we’ll spotlight some of the women in our local party who are leading the charge to make sure aspiring autocrats never have a chance to gain a foothold in this country again.