Community Action

Tribal Sovereignty Legislative Action Study Group:

Making Lives Better for Indigenous People in Multnomah County and Beyond

by Elisha Big Back (Northern Cheyenne) and Ruth Jensen (Tlingit)

The purpose of the Tribal Sovereignty Legislative Action Study Group is to advance Indigenous priorities and connect with Indigenous cultures. The Group takes collective action monthly to advocate for Indigenous issues. All Democrats and non-affiliated voters are welcome to participate in these ways:

  • Joining an Indigenous-led effort with diverse advocates and allies
  • Activating Democratic networks to advance the causes of tribal sovereignty
  • Advocating for all citizens of tribal nations, both those citizens who reside in Multnomah County and beyond
  • Raising awareness of the sovereignty all tribal nations within the United States: unrecognized, dozens of state-recognized, and the 574 that are federally-recognized

Since its inception in July 2020, this Study Group met monthly for over a year. For more than half of 2021, the monthly meetings featured local Indigenous leaders who shared their perspectives on policy and actions to be taken to advance these policies.

Elisha Big Back (Northern Cheyenne) chairs the Tribal Sovereignty Legislative Action Study Group for MultDems’ Platform, Resolutions, and Legislation Committee.  She serves as the Foster Care Services Manager at the Native American Youth and Family Center, and she owns and operates Sisters Fry Bread, LLC. Her political experience ranges from helping Representative Tawna Sanchez get elected to campaigning for William Miller. She advocates on several coalitions such as Foster Homes of Healing. She has participated in lobby days at the Capitol and believes that all roads lead to policy change. With her wide and powerful network, she is bringing in new Indigenous leaders to participate in the Tribal Sovereignty Legislative Action Study Group.

In 2019, MultDems adopted the Tribal Sovereignty article of the 2020 Platform which led to the inaugural meeting of the Tribal Sovereignty Legislative Action Study Group on July 21 2020. On November 13, 2021, MultDems adopted the 2022 Platform with updated planks and action items for the Tribal Sovereignty Legislative Action Study Group.

All Democrats and non-affiliated voters are invited to join this Group: Indigenous people along with their allies and advocates. Please join the effort for advancing these planks and actions to uphold tribal sovereignty and make lives better for Indigenous people in Multnomah County and beyond. For more information, email .

Community Action & Engagement: SERIOUS SCALE COMMITMENT TO MEET SERIOUS CHALLENGES

by Gary Lietke, District Leader for HD 44

It’s time to talk frankly within our committed Precinct Committee Persons (PCPs), so we can respond adequately to the dire political climate we face. It’s time to scale our programs and our personal participation to the scale of our challenges.

Make no mistake—if we MultDems don’t connect more effectively with our allied collaborative organizations and the full diversity of our registered Dem voters and NAVs, we’re in trouble. 

  • Please pore over the 10-minute November 2021 Community Action & Engagement report on YouTube:
  • It outlines our strategic plan to maximize both our effectiveness and efficiency. Its success is built on four lean teams: Collaborative Orgs, Action, Education, Outreach. Please study those four slides.
  • Next, we’re asking every PCP to submit the CA&E team leader-member recommendations form—multiple times! Staffing up these four teams is our immediate priority, so that they can start planning and doing.

Please nominate yourself. “Many hands make light(er) work” is our power. And fearlessly nominate others you think can help this effort.

The timeline for gearing up is urgent, if we hope to hold the line and advance our values for the 2022 primary and general elections. Merely dropping slate cards is hardly enough. We must do everything we can to facilitate OVERWHELMING DEMAND BY THE PEOPLE for the priorities outlined in the new Multhomah County Democrats Platform.

An active PCP reflects on what redistricting means for his North Portland neighborhood, and what he’s doing now to prepare for the 2022 elections

As a result of the state’s growth in population over the past decade, Oregon recently earned a new Congressional seat. House Speaker Tina Kotek created a special committee to draw congressional district lines, and Governor Brown signed the measure hours after it passed the legislature. The new lines divide Portland into three districts, and the changes will affect several statewide races next year. As Republicans continue to challenge the new lines, we asked activist and HD 44 Precinct Committee Person Tom Karwaki of North Portland to tell us how he expects things to go in the coming weeks and months. He talks about the work he’s doing to insure that Democrats are elected in 2022.

An interview with Tom Karwaki, PCP in HD 44

1. How do you expect the new district lines to affect your House District (both statewide and Congressional)?

The new lines tear out half the heart and the icon of the North Portland Peninsula in HD 44 and joins it to NW Portland where the only significant community of interest is the St Johns bridge itself. However, other than that loss of Cathedral Park and some of St Johns, HD44 is pretty much the same just more compact. State Senator Frederick was opposed to losing Cathedral Park but not moving; it would have meant major shifts elsewhere. The BIGGEST news is that Senator Frederick and Senator Mike Dembrow both live in the new district. Both get to be Senators through 2024! Earl [Blumenauer] is still our favorite Congressional cyclist and transit rider.


2. How can Multnomah County Democrats get involved in the upcoming 2022 midterm elections?

The 2022 Election Season is upon us. Tell your friends to check their voter registration to make sure their party is DEMOCRATIC. Voter registration efforts are beginning this month with PCPs and Neighborhood Leaders. Our big push is to contact Non-Affiliated Voters (NAVs), and let them know how to become Democrats! Faith [Ruffing] is heading up the Platform Convention this fall, and everyone is invited!


3. How are you personally going to stay active in the coming year, as a PCP and Democrat? 

My 2022 resolution is to personally knock on at least 500 doors before the May primary (Speaker Kotek is running for Governor!). To recruit 10 new Neighborhood Leaders to reach 50 doors each and help others reach 50 doors each. The May Primary will be the big event and everyone is welcome to march in the St. Johns Parade on May 7th and help register folks and hand out literature at the St Johns Bazaar.

For information about the new district lines, visit https://www.oregonlegislature.gov/redistricting.

What’s What in Our Government? Let’s Get Smarter about Portland, Oregon

Contributed by Dannelle D. Stevens, Chair of the Election Integrity Platform Sub-committee

Portland City Hall

Portland used to be called “the city that works”.  Now, it doesn’t seem to work!
What can YOU do about it?  A lot!

First, note that a citizen-oversight group is working on making a difference and has the power to make a big difference!  The Portland Charter Review Commission was created by law and meets every 10 years to assess how our city government is working. Check out the Commission here!. This current citizen-oversight group of 20 mostly young, diverse, and politically active people can recommend to the current council and send to voters their recommendations for changes in our city government STRUCTURE and OPERATIONS!

Second, recognize that this Portland Charter Review Commission needs to hear from all of us.
Submit only your email for updates for Review Commission meetings and activities.

Third, ACT!  Pay attention to the Commission website because they are in “the-seeking-public-comment” mode.   To comment on changing the form of government, you can enter your comment here: PublicComment Form of Government. Submit your comment by 8:00 AM two days before the meeting.To attend the Form of Government meeting via Zoom, go to the EVENTS page on the Review Commission website and click the Zoom link on the day. There are other meetings on the Events page that you might want to attend, as well.

Form of Government Sub-Committee: Monday, Nov. 1, 2021, 6-8 PM and Tuesday, Nov. 30, 2021, 6-8 PM

Here is a quick summary of the problems and suggestions for improvement in Form of Government.

Fundamental problems with the structure of the city of Portland government

Currently, there are only five Council members.  We have a COMMISSION form of government. All Council members are elected at large, meaning by all the people, not by geographic districts. The Mayor is elected at large and is one of the five members of the City Council.

After Commissioners are elected and as a commission form of government, the Mayor divides up all the city agencies and each Council member manages that agency. They must manage key city agencies like housing, water, police, parks and recreation, development services, social services, etc.

None of these commissioners are elected with the idea that they know anything about managing, for example, the water bureau. None are prepared to manage these large and complex agencies. It takes a long time to learn how to work with the agencies, implement policies, and meet the city’s needs like addressing the homeless crisis.

Many observers have concluded that the commission form of government might work for a city of 10,000, but, not for a big city of more than 800,000.

There are experts who do know and can manage these vital departments in a non-partisan way. These experts would be accountable to the City Council. Many cities around Portland have a city manager-council form of government.

Suggested Ideas for addressing these structural problems.

1. Fundamentally change the form of government from the commission form to a form with a City Manager who is hired and can be fired by the City Council, and a City Council of at least nine members with or without a mayor elected separately.

 2. Fundamentally change job descriptions. City Council members would maintain its legislative role–making policy and allocating money to implement policy.  The City Manager would manage all agencies.

 3. Elect a non-partisan mayor in a city-wide election. Elect non-partisan council members by districts that are drawn by an independent, non-partisan commission. Districts should be equally populated, contiguous and compact, and represent the diversity of the city’s residents. Each district would have the same number of representatives; 1 or more.  4. Create citizen oversight and advisory boards to to inform bureaus and departments–such as policing, land use, homelessness, civil rights, parks and recreation.

This is part of a series of articles about how government works. For more information about the Election Integrity Study Group, visit the Volunteer Opportunities page. To contact Dannelle D. Stevens, email

photo credit: Wikipedia

Statement to the 26 September 2020 PDX for Basic Income Event

The Democratic Party of Multnomah County, Mission and Vision states – 

“We envision and Demand a government designed by the people and for the benefit of the people.”

At this moment we demand a return of the dividends due, we the people, who have over the past 40 years contributed our hard earned funds and delayed our profits as the money has been shifted and shared upwards to the wealthy among us.  Trickle down never trickled down – rather it provided mechanisms by which our money flowed up to the wealthiest among us.     $2000 NOW is the beginning of the return on our investment.

  • With houselessness and evictions and unemployment on the rise
  • With too many people struggling even before the current crisis as a result of 40 years of decreasing wages and increasing disparity
  • With CEO’s and the dramatically wealthy like Jeff Bezos and Amazon, like Bill Gates and Microsoft, like Google and Facebook and Home Depot and Fauci and Trump in control of our narratives

We the people are left struggling. If we are making zero or $20,000 or 50K or even 300K it is nothing compared to the trillions that of dollars flowing into the hands of Jeff Bezos and friends.

It is time to demand $2000 NOW and I call upon each of us to spread this message to our friends and neighbors across the country and to our legislators.  When an uprising of people and their demands and calls for relief truly get loud – then and only then will something happen. $2000 NOW.

Congress struggles to pass an 1800 page bill that would dole out money at the top and mollify the lobbyists, but what about, we the people who have been funding their largesse?

We believe that 1800 pages are not needed to solve this crisis.  We can say it in one sentence.

“The US Treasury will disburse $2000/ mo to every US resident for a 12 month period to provide relief to the people and to stimulate the whole economy.”

$2000 NOW    $2000 NOW    Today we are here to demand action and to spread the message of uprising for change.  But first we must recognize that the Native Americans and American Descendants of Slavery have endured this struggle far longer , for 100s of years, and let’s remember that reparations must be made to create a more equitable future for all.

The $2000 NOW dividends will repay us all for the 40 years of declining wages and theft or shift of our wealth upwards.

Let’s not forget that the 2008 crisis lead to a bailout of the banks, who then thanked us by taking many of our homes through foreclosure, only to resell them to wealthy investors like Blacstone and others.    DID WE GET OUR DIVIDEND – NO!   IT is time for $2000 NOW.

Now with covid and then the fires across Oregon and with the struggles for justice in our streets our people, our neighbors and our small businesses are shutters, houselessness increases and Bezos and the wealth get trillions of dollars in rewards.   IT IS TIME FOR $2000 NOW

With the top 3 families currently having the wealth of the bottom 50% or 1 ½ billion people we have given away our income and our wealth and we must demand a return of our investment.

Demand the 1 sentence bill.  Demand $2000 NOW.   Check out HB 6496 and SB 3784 and make them known by calling for action.   Spend your money locally, grow mainstreet and our neighbors not wall street.

Please join me in thanking Chelsea Wilkinson and PDX for Basic Income and Mark Nerys, who leads our Basic Rights study group for all their efforts.  I would also like to thank Neil Goodman, Mitch Rofsky – who is taking this message to the Biden transition planning team and to Faith Ruffing, Bobbi Yambasu and our Congresspersons Bonamici and Blumenauer for co-sponsoring HB 6496 

$2000 NOW

www.multdems.org/2000now

Summary: H.R.6496 — 116th Congress (2019-2020)All Information (Except Text)

There is one summary for H.R.6496. Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:

Introduced in House (04/14/2020)

Emergency Money for the People Act

This bill directs the Department of the Treasury to make monthly payments during a specified 12-month period to certain citizens and noncitizens of the United States and their dependent children. The amount of such payments shall be $2,000 each month ($4,000 for married couples filing joint returns) and additional amounts for their dependent children. The monthly amount shall be phased out for individuals whose adjusted gross income exceeds $130,000 ($260,000 for joint return filers). The payments must begin within 14 days of the enactment of this bill.

The bill allows such monthly payments for individuals who are not U.S. citizens or residents, but have been physically present in the United States continuously since January 27, 2020 (the effective date of the public health emergency resulting from the COVID-19 [i.e. coronavirus disease 2019] pandemic), and continue to be physically present in the United States throughout the duration of the payment period.

If Treasury does not have sufficient tax return information to make payments to an eligible individual, it shall consult with the Department of Veteran Affairs and the Social Security Administration and any agency making pension or annuity payments to such individual.

SB 3784 Monthly Economic Crisis Support Act

The coronavirus pandemic and the accompanying economic crisis are unprecedented challenges confronting American families. Workers across the country are losing their incomes and struggling to make ends meet. Bills are continuing to come and people are finding it impossible to pay rent and put food on the table. Families need immediate help.The single check Americans will receive from the CARES Act is not enough. As our nation continues to grapple with the effects of this pandemic, families across the country will continue to hurt. Congress a responsibility to make sure that people aren’t left behind.Senators Kamala D. Harris (D-CA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Ed Markey (D-MA) introduced theMonthly Economic Crisis Support Act, 

which would establish a rebate payment program that would provide $2,000 to every individual, including children and other dependents, until this crisis is over.

TheMonthly Economic Crisis Support Act:

•Provides a monthly $2,000 check to every individual with an income below $120,000 throughout and for three months following the coronavirus pandemic.

Married couples who file jointly would receive $4,000.o$2,000 per child up to three children

Retroactive to March•Ensures that every U.S. resident receives a payment, regardless of whether or not they have filed a recent tax return or have a social security number

Uses the data from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Supplemental Security Income, (SSI), Medicare and housing assistance programs

•Forbids debt collectors from seizing the rebate payments

•Ensures the homeless and foster youth receive payments

Reparations Resolution FAQ

On Thursday, June 9, 2020, the precinct committee persons (PCPs) of Multnomah Democrats will vote on Resolution 2020-13 The Debt: the Case for Reparations. The resolution’s primary author, Quinton Blanton, provided this FAQ for PCPs to read in advance of the vote.

What is the purpose of a reparations program?

In the book From Here to Equality, Dr. Sandy Darity and A. Kirsten Mullen advance a general definition of reparations as a program of acknowledgement, redress, and closure.

Is it illegal to allocate funds specifically to ADOS?

No. There’s no intrinsic illegality to group specific or race specific policies. Japanese American reparations, for example, were group specific.

How will we be able to tell who is eligible for reparations vs. who is not?

Two criterion can be advanced for eligibility. First, an individual must establish that they have at least one ancestor who was enslaved in the US. Second, an individual must demonstrate that they have self-identified as Black, Negro, or African American on an official document-perhaps making the self-report of their race on the US Census—for at least 12 years before the enactment of programs tied to the funds. This criteria was created by Duke University economist William “Sandy” Darity.

Why is the ADOS distinction necessary?

            ADOS is a necessary distinction because if reparations do in fact gain traction nationally, people who are opposed to reparations could make the argument that Black immigration to the U.S. has increased significantly since the 1980’s, they were never enslaved in the U.S. so why should they be paid reparations? From a legal standpoint, a reparations claim against the federal government must be specific and requires inclusion and exclusion.

How will the effectiveness of a reparations program be measured?

According to Dr. Darity, the goal of a reparations program for ADOS should be to close the racial wealth gap in its entirety. Therefore, it is essential that the mean gap be erased, rather than setting a far less ambitious goal such as closing the ADOS-white median differential. Establishing a monitoring system to evaluate whether the ADOS-white wealth gap disparity is closing will be desirable.

How to calculate the cost of reparations?

There are a variety of strategies for calculating the size of social debt that is owed. Professor Thomas Craemer has calculated the cost of reparations through a stolen labor framework. In today’s dollars, he arrives at an estimate of $14 trillion for the cost of American slavery to the enslaved. The central argument of Dr. Darity and A. Kirsten Mullen, which I tend to agree with is that the elimination of the ADOS-white wealth gap should provide the foundation for the magnitude of the debt owed.

Where will the money for reparations come from

 As journalist Matthew Yglesias has proposed, Congress could direct the Federal Reserve to fund ADOS reparations either in part or in total. Given the overnight transfer of $1 trillion of funds from the Federal Reserve to investment banks during the Great Recession and monthly outlays of $45 to $55 billion to conduct “quantitative easing,” there can be no doubt that the Fed has vast capacity to provide the funds required for a properly designed and financed reparations program, particularly if the funds are disbursed over the course of three to five years. The Fed certainly could manage an annual outlay of $1 to $1.5 trillion without any difficulty—and this funding mechanism would not have to affect tax rates for any American. Moreover, the Federal Reserve is a public bank charged with conducting a public responsibility.

Why should I have to pay reparations? My ancestors didn’t own any slaves.

The culpable party is the U.S. government. Often, the federal government further sanctioned racial atrocities by silence and inaction. ADOS reparations are not a matter of personal or individual institutional guilt; ADOS reparations are a matter of national responsibility. Furthermore, The poverty created by slavery and Jim Crow are still in the system, just like the wealth created by slavery and Jim Crow are still in the system.

White ethnics such as the Irish and Italians came here and were discriminated against by the U.S. government, yet they still rose in spite of their handicaps why didn’t ADOS do the same?

It is important to note that in some respects, the Irish were treated worse than Blacks for the most part when they first arrived in the U.S. However, they were eventually absorbed into whiteness due to their willingness to inflict violence against ADOS and by expressing anti-ADOS sentiments. The Democratic Party and early labor unions also eased the assimilation of the Irish into whiteness. Whitness is a social construct that is dynamic. It expands and changes based on its need. I suggest everyone read Noel Ignatiev’s How the Irish Became White.

White people have never received “handouts” from the government, why should Black people get governmental “handouts”?

Framing reparations as a handout or a one time check rather than a debt is a conservative, right wing talking point that is untrue. A program of reparations is much more than a check. It must include multi-pronged policies and laws, protections, therapy, and training to fill the void of knowledge gaps. Also, white America has in fact recieved numerous handouts from the federal government including 160-acre land grants through the Homstead Act, access to New Deal and Fair Deal programs, the G.I. bill and much more. While white America received these handouts ADOS were denied access to them and were never given their 40-acres, which is partly why the ADOS-white wealth disparity is so vast, entrenched, and unshakeable. The wealth ADOS managed to accumulate in the nineteenth and  twentitieth centuries was far too often plundered via white mob violence, lynching, redlining, and credit discrimination.

To Be a District Leader

 

Every House District (HD) in Multnomah County has a Multnomah Democrat District Leader (DL) who organizes the work of their local precinct committee persons (PCPs). 

In July of 2020, as in every even numbered July, each HD call a reorg meeting and elects their district leader and assistant district leader. We want you to know what these jobs are and consider running for this important position.

The Job Description

District leaders help convey information to and from Democrat legislators and to their PCPs and other constituents. The District Leaders are voting members of the MultDems Executive Committee. They also appoint PCPs to represent their districts on most standing committees and help coordinate outreach at events.  That’s the basic job description but what does it look like IRL to be a DL?  

Beyond meeting the basic requirements outlined in the bylaws, it’s a people-person role you can make your own.  Have fun with it!  Build community within the party,  create pathways for newcomers to find their voice, their political power, and their own style of democrating in MultDems. The job will pay you back with lifelong friendships and the satisfaction of being a participant in leaving the world better than you found it.

Organize the work of their district PCPs  

Marcia Schneider, HD 51 District Leader, contributed to this article.

It starts with the District Organizing Meeting every even year after Mult Co Elections certifies our elections.  We gather together to vote for our district leadership – District Leader and Assistant District Leader – and appoint representatives to the County Party committees that keep MultDems humming. Beyond that, organizing work means getting to know the PCPS in each precinct and connecting them to activities, events, committees, and caucuses throughout the year, as well as encouraging and supporting grassroots efforts any PCP wants to initiate that furthers the platform and mission of MultDems. Of particular importance is the Neighborhood Leader Program.  Every district should strive for an NLP Coordinator who can recruit and support NLs in each Precinct. 

Convey information between Democrat legislators and their PCPs and other constituents

If you are lucky enough to live in a district like HD 46 whose State Legislators practice regular, open communication with their constituents, you’ll 

  • Keep in touch with them on a one-to-one basis
  • Read and promote their newsletters
  • Attend their town halls and coffees to see them in action with their constituents 
  • Provide feedback on their work
  • Help to rally support for their legislative agendas.  

These are especially good opportunities to monitor how your electeds’ work and priorities mesh with the MultDems Platform. 

You’ll also stay in touch with your district PCPs. In HD46 we use several tools to accomplish this including a members-only Facebook page, a sporadic newsletter called PCP Power Lines, text alerts, and phone calls. Twice a year you’ll invite everyone together for a district meeting to share ideas, work, and camaraderie.  These meetings can include updates from your legislators, visits with candidates, updates on local campaigns or previews and recruitment for MultDems activities. 

Voting members of the MultDems Executive Committee  

District Leaders are voting members of MultDems Executive Committee which meets once a month, the week before the All-PCP Central Committee, to conduct the business of the organization. Assistant District Leaders are also voting members but only vote if if the DL is absent. Ultimately, the direction of the Party is in the hands of the Central Committee. Exec Committee is there to keep the organization functioning and oversee that together we are all implementing plans and programs that meet our responsibilities.

Appoint PCPs to represent their districts on standing committees.  

Every district helps to staff the Standing Committees that keep Mult Dems running, so DLs search out and appoint the people with the interest, time, and skills to contribute. Those committees are: 

  • Credentials
  • Fundraising
  • Platform, Resolutions, and Legislation
  • Rules

Coordinate events in-district – Most years we’re hosting booths at local street fairs, marching in parades and when we have contested races, hosting candidate forums for voters. This year with the pandemic, we’re primarily virtual – zoom forums, phonebanks and candidate meet and greets.  As DL, you’ll call on all kinds of skills from your PCPs to make your events a success.

It is what you make of it

This all sounds like a lot. The thing I found is that the work fuels me. Connecting PCPs to ways to contribute, connecting our reps to their constituents. It just feels good to be a part of it. I hope you will consider taking up the role!

When will PCP election results be available?

We’ve gotten a lot of questions about when Multnomah County Elections Division will report Precinct Committe Person (PCP) election results. We expect that you will find them at the County Elections website (MCED) sometime in the next week or two; MCED is saying that they expect to post final results by June 8. We will link to those results when they become available.

You should also expect to hear from Multnomah Democrats soon about organization meetings for your House District.

Thanks for joining the team!

Knock on doors with us in East County! #BlueWave

The weekend Multnomah Democrats are knocking on doors for East County candidates for state legislature. Join us and help build the Blue Wave!

Canvass for HD 51 State Representative Janelle Bynum starting Saturday, 11am at Happy Valley Park

Canvass for HD 52 State House Candidate Anna Williams starting Saturday, 11 am at Kane Park in Gresham. RSVP Here.

Canvass for SD 26 State Senate Candidate Chrissy Reitz this Saturday, 10 AM at Summerfield Park in Happy Valley.