Fact Check: Walkouts are very unpopular.

Some polling numbers on the Republican Walkout

A screenshot from an opt-in poll on KGW’s phone app is being shared on social media to suggest that Oregonians support the Republican walkout. The idea that a piece of clickbait would be used as a proof point is in itself pretty sad. KGW’s advertisers are the real winners there.

Would you like some real polling data on Oregonian’s opinion of a walkout?

In a way, we Democrats should be appreciative of the Republican walkout. Based on polling done with some actual rigor, this walkout is an extremely unpopular move with their constituents.

  • 74% agree: If elected officials don’t like a bill, they should show up and work to improve the bill or simply vote against it. They should make their voices heard rather than shut down the government.
  • 64% agree: The legislators who walked out were collecting a taxpayer-funded paycheck even when they weren’t showing up for work. Regular people don’t get paid when they don’t go to work, and politicians shouldn’t get paid for skipping work either.
  • 62% agree: During the walkout, the Senate couldn’t hold session and was basically shut down. That means the Senate was idle for ten working days, wasting more than 100 thousand dollars of taxpayer money. That’s simply wrong.
  • 63% agree: Good lawmaking comes from consensus and compromise – but this year a Republican Senator has already said he will not negotiate on a bill he doesn’t like, and all Republicans may walk out again to prevent its passage. This is not how to get things done for Oregonians.

""One can expect there will be accelerated opportunities for job creation in clean energy, technology, forest and agriculture activities."

Fact Check: The Arguments Against The Climate Bill SB1530

Now that the Republican Senators have walked off their jobs to deny quorum and prevent the Democratic process from moving forward, social media and press releases are awash with the “reasoning” talking points that they have been provided.

“SB 1530 will bankrupt rural Oregon.”

  • We know that we are one Oregon, but we also know that we are a state of many regions and many needs.
  • SB 1530 includes many changes that will enhance the benefits to rural Oregon and protect rural Oregonians from any disruptions.
  • We are now gradually phasing in any impacts on gasoline prices by region, so that rural residents on the West side of the state won’t see any impacts until 2025 and those east of the Cascades won’t see them at all. 
  • We can include 85% of the state’s gasoline emissions in 2025 without touching the vast majority of the geography of this state.
  • Low- to moderate income residents everywhere will receive a tax credit that will fully offset any increased driving costs.
  • Recognizing that they drive more, residents of rural counties will receive larger tax credits. 
  • There will be full refunds for increases in the cost of fuel used for off-road agricultural and forestry operations.
  • The amended version of SB 1530 simplifies the way the geographic phase-in is done.  For the most part, it will now be done by county, making the administration of the program easier and simpler.  As a result, the Fuels Association has removed its objections.
  • We have modified the way that manufacturers are handled in order to protect rural jobs.  As a result, rural manufacturers (e.g., in the food processing industries) have removed their opposition to the bill.
  • In addition changes to the bill have increased its economic benefits for rural Oregon.
  • Most of the investments of the program are geared to benefit rural Oregon and tribes (making our forests healthier, improving irrigation and weatherizing rural homes).
  • Through its “offsets” provisions, the bill will generate big investments in dairy biodigesters and forestry projects, keeping forests as working forests.
  • Rural Oregon is already benefiting from renewable energy projects (wind, solar, biofuels, geothermal) and is poised to benefit much more with the incentives and training dollars in SB 1530.  Thousands of jobs will be created.
  • Outside analyses (including one done by AOI) have shown that the economic impact of earlier versions of SB 1530 would actually benefit rural and frontier Oregon more than other parts of the state.  SB 1530 makes that even more true.
  • Experience in California, Québec, and the northeastern states (who use cap & trade for their power sector) has not shown economic or employment harm to their rural regions.  On the contrary, investments in the rural parts of California and Québec as a result of their program have benefited those regions in many ways.
  • Finally, rural and frontier Oregonians live in the front lines of climate change (fires, loss of snowcap, drought, rising sea levels, ocean acidification). If Oregon’s actions encourage climate action in other states and slow down the pace of this crisis, they will benefit most of all.

“SB 1530 will hurt low-income Oregonians.”

  • The bill includes MANY protections for low-income Oregonians, whose needs are kept front and center.
  • Low-income natural gas customers will see no rise in their bills.
  • Low- to moderate income residents ($65K for a family of 4) everywhere will receive a tax credit that will fully offset any increased driving costs.
  • Most investments are geared to benefit low-income Oregonians everywhere.
  • Extensive investments in training and retraining for the clean-energy economy will provide new pathways to opportunity for low-income families all over the state.

“SB 1530 exempts government from public records laws.”

  • The program is subject to ALL the usual public records and open meetings laws.
  • Section 32 does protect confidential business information that would be considered “trade secrets”; this is absolutely usual and necessary when government needs to regulate the private sector.
  • This is something that all journalists are used to.

“The emergency clause in SB 1530 is intended to deny the people’s ability to challenge this law.”

  • The emergency clause is there because we ARE in a climate emergency and the work on the program must begin immediately.
  • A 2019 opinion from Legislative Counsel makes it clear that the Emergency Clause does nothing to impair the people’s ability to put any piece of legislation on the ballot through the initiative process.
  • The reason we have a Legislature is to work on tough, far-reaching, crucial issues that require extensive research, discussion, debate, and compromise.
  • SB 1530 is a balanced, carefully crafted, highly researched bill, incorporating work that has been going on for years, and including ideas suggested by legislators from both parties.
  • On the ballot, it will be reduced to a series of sound bites and slanted TV ads, funded by tens of millions of special-interest dollars.
  • The people have voted—they voted to send Legislators to Salem to work hard on their behalf. Every one of the Democrats elected in 2018 ran with climate action as one of their main priorities, defeating Republicans who unfortunately took a contrary position. Legislators are doing what they were elected to do. 

“SB 1530 puts all the power in the hands of un-elected bureaucrats.”

  • Amendments will make it clear that the appointed Board’s budget decisions are advisory only.  They will still need to go through our normal Ways and Means process and receive approval from elected legislators.  So will the state agencies implementing the program. That’s how good government should work.

“SB 1530 is not based on settled science,” or “Climate change is natural, not human-caused.”

  • Legislators need to rely on the best science that’s out there.
  • That’s why the Legislature in 2007 created the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute, based at OSU, to scan the scientific literature, evaluate its validity, summarize their findings, and report and make recommendations to the Legislature every 2 years.
  • They’ve told us that climate change is real, we’re already feeling its consequences, it can be mitigated, but if we don’t, the future consequences will be catastrophic and hugely expensive for Oregon.
  • SB 1530 is based entirely on their recommendations.

“We shouldn’t be doing this in a short session.”

  • One of the purposes of the short session has always been to continue work on bills that had been thoroughly worked on in the previous session, but didn’t quite make it over the finish line.  The short session is designed to finish up that work.
  • The earlier version of SB 1530 had hundreds of hours of public testimony in Salem and around the state, thousands of pages of written testimony and studies, passed the House after six hours of open debate, and only failed to advance in the Senate because the Republicans walked out.
  •  SB 1530 is the result of many hours of bipartisan discussion since November.
  • Despite this being a short session, we will have more hours of public testimony on this bill than we normally have in a long session, not counting all the hours we’ve already spent hearing from the public on this issue in the past.

“Other countries are the real culprits.  They’re the ones who should be stepping up.”

  • In the absence of national action, states must step up and act together.
  • As legislators, we learn from other states.  What works, what doesn’t.
  • It’s not just about Oregon.  If Oregon acts, other states such as Washington will step up and join us.
  • If we join California, Washington, and British Columbia (both CA and BC already have economy-wide climate programs) in this effort, we will be part of the world’s FIFTH largest economy.  We can make a real difference.

“This bill will make Oregon less competitive.”

Dr. Dallas Burtraw, senior fellow at Resources for the Future and a member of the American Academy of Sciences, was asked to provide an assessment of SB 1530 before amendments were made.  His lengthy assessment concluded with the following:

“When carbon pricing is implemented in 2022, the anticipated emissions reductions will be achieved without any specific impacts that are noticeable to the vast majority of Oregon households and businesses. There should be virtually zero disruptions in employment, but over time one can expect there will be accelerated opportunities for job creation in clean energy, technology, forest and agriculture activities. Oregon’s legislative decision is likely to influence policy outcomes in other states and internationally.”

Tell Oregon Ways and Means that you support the fight against climate change.

Climate Action: Ways and Means meets Monday for the Climate Bill

Join us to move this critical law forward

As we move closer to a landmark climate bill in Oregon, the week ahead is very exciting. All of your letters and testimony have made a difference for cap and invest. Now is the time to have an even bigger presence in Salem. You can be involved. Read on.

  • SB1530 will be heard in the Ways and Means Committee on February 24th at 9 AM, Hearing Room F. Let’s show our strength by filling the hearing room and overflow.
  • The parallel bill, HB 4167 has also been referred to Ways and Means. The hearing date is not set for HB4167.

This is a great time for more emails and letters to your representatives. Message: Climate change is an emergency. SB1530 (HB4167) is a good start. The cap reduces dangerous pollution. Big polluters will pay their share. The investment in Oregon will go to local communities, benefitting rural Oregon and others hardest hit by climate change.

  • Email to the members of the Ways and Means Committee Click here. You are two clicks away from starting those emails.
  • Email and letters to your Senator and Representative.
    • Please also schedule in-person meetings with them next week.
  • Letters to the editor about the bill.
    • Here’s a link to clear true reporting from the Statesman Journal
    • If you are in a District that walked out last year, please also consider a letter to the editor about the importance of legislators staying at work and doing their job.

Renew Oregon is setting up a meeting room for the week, Monday – Friday 9 – 4:30 next week. Please RSVP to Renew for the dates and times you can attend. Let us know if you can drive or need a ride.

Representatives from MultDems Climate Action Team will deliver cookies and a letter of support for the bill to every Senator and Representative.

Tell Oregon Ways and Means that you support the fight against climate change.

Oregon Ways and Means Committee 2020

On Monday February 24, the Ways and Means committee will hear SB1530, the landmark climate bill for Oregon that will develop clean energy jobs. Send them an email.

Climate change is an emergency. SB1530 (HB4167) is a good start. The cap reduces dangerous pollution. Big polluters will pay their share. The investment in Oregon will go to local communities, benefitting rural Oregon and others hardest hit by climate change.

Position Name and link to OLIS info   District / Community Email link
Co-Chair Senator Betsy Johnson D SD16 Scappose
Co-Chair Senator Elizabeth Steiner Hayward D SD17 NWPDX/Bvtn
Co-Chair Representative Dan Rayfield D HD16 Corvallis 
Co-Vice Chair Senator Fred Girod R SD9 Stayton
Co-Vice Chair Representative David Gomberg D SD10 Central Coast
Co-Vice Chair Representative Greg Smith R HD57 Umatilla Morrow
Member Senator Lee Beyer D SD6 Springfield
Member Senator Denyc Boles R SD10  Salem
Member Senator Lew Frederick D SD22 Portland
Member Senator Bill Hansell R SD29 Athena
Member Senator Dallas Heard R SD1 Roseburg ​
Member Senator Laurie Monnes Anderson D SD25 Gresham
Member Senator Arnie Roblan D SD5 Coos Bay
Member Senator Chuck Thomsen R SD26 Hood River
Member Senator Rob Wagner D SD19 Lake Oswego
Member House Republican Leader Christine Drazan R HD 39 Canby
Member Representative Paul Holvey D HD08 Eugene
Member Representative Susan McLain D HD29 Hillsboro
Member Representative Rob Nosse D HD42 Portland 
Member Representative Carla Piluso D HD50 Gresham 
Member Representative Duane Stark R HD4 Grants Pass
Flyer with MultDems logo and colors: Transform TriMet - Buy Electric Buses. Dates of meetings

Call to Action: Tell TriMet, Tell Metro No New Diesel Buses

Greta Thunberg said, “Act as if your house is on fire – because it is.” This is an emergency!

TL;dr What is Happening?

TriMet, the local transit operator, is planning to buy 159 diesel buses. In the face of a climate emergency, putting 159 polluting buses with a lifespan of 16 years each is just not acceptable.

What to do: Testify or Email for Clean Air and Climate Action

  • February 20th 2:00 p.m. Public Comment section of Metro Council’s agenda. 600 NE Grand Ave, Portland OR
  • February 26th 9:00 a.m. Public Forum section of TriMet Board’s agenda. 121 SW Salmon St., Portland, OR
  • February 27th 2:00 p.m. Public Comment section of Metro Council’s agenda. 600 NE Grand Ave, Portland OR

Submit testimony to Metro Council through this online form. If you submit by 10 am the day of the meeting, it will be in the minutes.

Send an email to

Make Way for Electric Buses

Last fall, TriMet authorized a diesel bus buy of 159 buses over a 5 year purchase contract.

That’s 159 NEW DIESEL Buses, each with a lifetime of up to 16 years, on our roads – adding more CO2 to the planet’s atmosphere, and spewing more unhealthy diesel fumes into our already historically stressed neighborhoods.

We need to STOP this ‘Business as Usual’ NEW DIESEL bus buy! It is unacceptable!

Tell TriMet, Tell Metro – Clean Air! No NEW DIESEL Buses

Why are we going to the Metro Council? Metro has a fiduciary role in receiving Federa thel tax revenue spent on our transportation infrastructure.

TriMet gets funding from Metro and the State of Oregon.

Governor Brown appoints the TriMet Board. Metro Councilors are elected by the public.

Climate Change is a Public Health Emergency

Tell TriMet, Tell Metro – Clean Air! No NEW DIESEL BUSES.

On February 4, 2020 500 Oregon Health leaders from the Oregon Public Health Association (OPHA) declared that Climate Change is a Public Health emergency.

Their policy recommendations include meeting and strengthening Oregon’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals, and rapidly transitioning to renewable energy and zero-carbon emissions transportation systems.

Tell TriMet, Tell Metro – Clean Air! No NEW DIESEL BUSES. Climate Change is a Public Health Emergency

Historically underserved communities require equitable transit service – they do not need dangerously increased levels of pollution in their neighborhoods. An Equity lens places the first electric buses available on the Division Transit Project route.

We must STOP the Diesel Bus buy! No More Business as Usual, No NEW Diesel Buses! Electrify the Fleet!

There are two upcoming Metro Council meetings and a TriMet Board meeting in the next two weeks where we need to come together and take action and to shine a bright light on this bad decision. Provide testimony or come and support those who do. Can’t attend? Write to the TriMet Board, write to the Metro Council.

Do you or does someone you know take the bus? Live near a busline? Breathe the air? Do you or someone you know have asthma? Do you or someone you know work in a social justice, or healthcare field? Forward this to your friends or friendly organizations who might distribute to their members. THANK-YOU for your participation and involvement!

Debbie Gordon and Tracy Farwell, co-leads Natural Resources Protection and Recovery Work Group, aka the Multdems Climate Action Team

The attachments include:

TriMet FAQ and Call to Action

Call to Action on the backside of the TriMet FAQ sheet:

Clean Air! No More New Diesel Buses Climate Change is a Public Health Emergency

Greta Thunberg said, “Act as if your house is on fire – because it is.” This is an emergency!

Buying New Diesel Buses is going backwards. You can’t say your goal is to reduce emissions on the one hand and buy diesel buses which will produce emissions for 16 years on the other.

No more business as usual! We must put our resources into electrifying the fleet NOW!

Join Us to Take Action

Multnomah Democrats, led by the Climate Action Team

  1. Demand that TriMet’s regional peer authority, the publicly-elected Oregon Metro Council, acknowledge the call to action from the Oregon Public Health Association.

The TriMet management resolution for the 159 diesel bus buy (2019 Resolution -78) omitted public health criteria from any Source Evaluation Committee criteria or its weighted scoring.

  1. Reverse the $200M TriMet Board authorization for 159 New Diesel buses since it dismissed any consideration of Portland’s ongoing diesel public health threats. Moreover, regional transit operations that consume fossil fuels clearly constitute Portland public infrastructure and expanding the diesel fleet contradicts the court supported Portland ban on new fossil fuel infrastructure.
  2. Develop a formal Zero Emissions Fleet Transition Program, prioritize and secure funding (include in bond on the November ballot) and establish a program management office to get this job done on an emergency basis. TriMet can execute the program under close supervision.
  3. Require first electric buses on the Division Transit Project, relieving already stressed communities.

Take ACTION Tell Metro Council, Tell TriMet – NO NEW Diesel Buses

Come Testify and/or support others who do!

February 20th 2:00 p.m. Public Comment section of Metro Council’s agenda. 600 NE Grand Ave, Portland OR

February 26th 9:00 a.m. Public Forum section of TriMet Board’s agenda. 121 SW Salmon St., Portland, OR

February 27th 2:00 p.m. Public Comment section of Metro Council’s agenda. 600 NE Grand Ave, Portland OR

Presenting Testimony

  • Come early to sign up.
  • Bring 10 copies of your testimony. 2-3 minutes max.
  • Read your comments/letter and leave Board and Council Members copies for the public record.

Can’t attend? Write emails and submit online comments for the TriMet Board and Metro Council, which will be part of the public record:

Subject: Clean Air! No More New Diesel Buses

Body of email:

  • State your support for no new Diesel Buses, and for a plan for a Zero-Emissions Fleet ASAP!
  • Say who you are and why you care about cleaner air and stopping carbon emissions. “I am (a parent, grandparent, high school student…..) and I (have a child with asthma….am very concerned about climate change, want Oregon to lead on climate actions, etc.)
  • Ask for a response.
  • Sign with your name and location (city and zip code).


Frequently Asked Questions about TriMet Diesel vs. Electric Buses

What is the size of TriMet’s fleet of buses?

The TriMet fleet is made up of 694 buses (10 electric), and diesel consumption is 6+ million gallons annually. TriMet plans to have 900 buses by 2040.

Why is TriMet Acquiring New Diesel Buses?

They say it is for normal replacement and for extending services. TriMet authorized a diesel bus buy of 159 buses over a 5 year purchase contract.* (A diesel bus purchased in 2024 would have a life of up to 16 years on the road.)

Didn’t the City of Portland ban new fossil fuel infrastructure?

Yes. December 18th, 2019, the Portland City Council voted to re-adopt a ban on new fossil fuel infrastructure.

Do we need more buses in East Portland?

Yes. The first 31 diesel buses are targeted for the Division Transit Project. An Equity lens requires both better, increased service to those historically underserved AND public health consideration.

Are there Non-Diesel Alternatives?

Yes. Seattle has committed to transitioning their fleet to battery electric buses, while still operating the legacy electric trolley buses. New York’s MTA is retiring all diesel buses, transitioning to an electric fleet. California has mandated electric buses.

Why is Diesel Bad? Why should I care if TriMet buys 159 New Diesel buses?

The transport sector (40% of Portland’s carbon pollution) is the fastest growing contributor to climate emissions that contribute to global warming. Diesel produces long-lived carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, short-lived black carbon, and ground level ozone – all producing very unhealthy air, with increased levels of asthma and other breathing disorders.

What do the Scientists and Health Professionals say?

The UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Special Report 15 (SR15) states that it is too dangerous to reduce carbon emissions any less than 45% in ten years’ time. On Feb. 4th 500 Oregon Health leaders from the Oregon Public Health Association declared that Climate Change is a Public Health emergency. Their policy recommendations include meeting and strengthening Oregon’s greenhouse gas emissions reduction goals, transitioning to renewable energy and to zero-carbon emissions transportation systems. **

What is TriMet Doing About the Transition to Clean Fuels?

TriMet is duplicating the same kind of clean fuel evaluation other transit operators have already completed. TriMet’s few electric buses are being evaluated.

Has the TriMet Set a Target Date for Retiring the Diesel Fleet?

Their commitment is for zero diesel buses in 2040, not zero emissions.

What is the relationship between TriMet and Metro?

Metro has a fiduciary role in receiving Federal tax revenue to be expended on transportation infrastructure. TriMet gets funding from Metro and the State of Oregon.

Clean Air! No More New Diesel Buses Climate Change is a Public Health Emergency

Greta Thunberg said, “Act as if your house is on fire – because it is.” This is an emergency!

Buying New Diesel Buses is going backwards. You can’t say your goal is to reduce emissions on the one hand and buy diesel buses which will produce emissions for 16 years on the other. No more business as usual! We must put our resources into electrifying the fleet NOW!

MultDems Debate Watch Party February 19 at MultDems HQ

Join us February 19 for a Critical Democratic Presidential Debate

Debate Season Continues!

Candidates continue to qualify for the upcoming Democratic Presidential Debate. It is getting down to brass tacks, and you can join a lively group of Democrats to watch the action.


Co-sponsored by the MultDems Climate Action Team

These folks make things happen.

Multnomah County Democrats Community Action Committee has been holding full house watch parties, co-sponsored with other committees and Democratic groups. It is a vibrant place to witness history in the making.

There will be pizza and soft drinks. Feel free to bring your favorite debate-watching snacks to share.

Click here to RSVP

Multnomah County Democrats office, 3551 NE Sandy Blvd, Portland 97232 [Map]

Doors at 5pm

See you there!

Facebook event

For public transportation options to/from the event location, visit The Multnomah County Democrats office is wheelchair accessible. If you have any access or functional needs that you feel may prevent you from joining us at this event or that, if they can be addressed, might make the event more accessible [and therefore more enjoyable] for you, please email

Notes from a Mayoral Candidate Forum

On January 21st, Cash Carter, Sarah Iannarone, Teressa Raiford, and Ozzie Gonzalez took to the stage at the Sunnyside Community Center for the first Mayoral Candidate Forum of the 2020 race. (A candidate forum is like if a debate were tolerable.) Just as notable for his absence was incumbent Ted Wheeler, who was unable to attend as he was in Washington DC for the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

The room wasn’t particularly excited about Wheeler’s track record—perhaps inevitable with a panel of candidates looking to unseat him and an audience full of voters open to replacing him. There was a clear consensus on the stage that the city was facing many issues that weren’t being properly addressed. A few that came up repeatedly during the event were police accountability, gentrification, lack of representation in governance and that terrible mass of problems known as housing.

Multnomah Democrats Chair Statement on House District 36 Election

In order to bring forward nominations to replace Representative Jennifer Williamson as State House Representative for District 36, the elected and appointed precinct committee persons (PCPs) of that district will hold a convention at Portland State University Smith Memorial Ballroom, starting at 10am January 12. The Democratic Party of Oregon, in partnership with Multnomah Democrats, are organizing the convention in accordance with state law and party bylaws. The PCPs of that district will vote to forward three, four, or five nominees to the Multnomah County Commissioners. The Commisioners will select one person from those nominees to serve the rest of the term.

Currently, several candidates are also declared and campaigning for the Democratic Primary to serve in that position. That primary vote will be held in May. Some of the candidates for the primary are also seeking nomination for the temporary appointment.

Lurelle Robbins, the chair of the Democratic Party of Multnomah County (Multnomah Democrats), released the following statement:

The Democratic Party of Multnomah County in conjunction with the Democratic Party of Oregon have convened a nomination convention for HD 36 on January 12th.

The precinct committee persons (PCP’s) for HD 36 that were elected in the 2018 May primary plus any additional PCP’s that have been appointed to fill any remaining vacancies since that time will be the voting body. They will be charged with making decisions on what names to forward to the County Commission for consideration.

Registered voters may become elected to these important PCP positions on the May 2020 ballot and may file with the Party or at the Multnomah County Elections Division.

If the Nominating Convention forwards three, four, or five names to the County Commission, they must select from the names submitted to them.

The PCP’s are entrusted with this important task; that of selecting the names to be submitted to the County Commission for appointment to fill the vacancy by Oregon State Law.

I encourage the PCP’s to take their duty and this responsibility seriously and to choose the best candidates. I served in that capacity at a nominating convention when Representative Bonamici was appointed to statewide office and again when she was appointed to fill the Congressional vacancy due to the resignation of David Woo. I also served in the nominating convention that resulted in the appointment of Senator Elizabeth Steiner-Hayward.

This process has served us well in our representative democracy of which the PCP’s are the representatives. I see no compelling reason for the PCP’s to not exercise their duty and right to choose the best candidates in their collective estimation to serve in the upcoming short session.

The voters of the district will be given the opportunity to select the candidate of their choice in the May 2020 primary.

Lurelle Robbins, Chair
Democratic Party of Multnomah County

Michael Burleson, Rules Committee Chair

Michael Burleson, Chair of Rules Committee, sees role as leveling the field.

If you were fortunate enough to attend October 12th Comedy, Candidates, and Cocktail fundraiser, you heard Michael Burleson’s spot on impressions of George W Bush, Trump, and Bernie Sanders. He then took a moment to make his campaign pitch for Portland mayor. Besides running for mayor Michael is the new head of the MCD Rules Committee, which is why he is featured here.

Even at the tender age of five, Michael Burleson knew he believed in science, but he found himself the odd person out when after “a hokey presentation on how improbable it (evolution) was,” he was the only child left raising his hand attesting to the belief in evolution after someone said, “Wait, is evolution the one where we evolved from monkeys?” In suburban Texas, almost everyone was a conservative Republican.

That didn’t stop him from voting for Al Gore in his second grade mock election—a decision he is still proud of. “An Inconvenient Truth” taught him about climate change in 2005 when he was 12, contrary to those around him. “Basically, the gist is this; I’m a Democrat because the Republicans were and are anti-science.”

Michael Burleson is a relative newcomer to Portland, having come here for law school in 2016 after attending the Texas State Democratic Party convention in San Antonio. This is after he had convinced his parents to become state delegates for Barack Obama in 2008 and 2012, before Michael could vote. He became active in the party through his support of Bernie Sanders in 2015.

Michael’s first Multnomah Democratic event was probably in December, right after the 2016 election. It was a fellow Bernie delegate who suggested he get involved with the Rules Committee. Because it is the Rules Committee that creates the bylaws and standing rules for the organization and “if I wanted to “combat the institutional nepotism that keeps out brown, black, young, and working class folks from our party, this is where I needed to start.”

According to Michael, the Rules Chairman needs to have “a combination of parliamentary skills and the knowledge and strength of character to deal with systemic oppression.” In both of these areas, Michael feels competent. His understanding of parliamentary procedure started with high school debate and continued as he worked with the model United Nations in college. From his junior year in high school he also participated in Student Congress, where students learned how to pass bills and resolutions in a congressional setting. These experiences were so formative that he highly recommends them to young people.

Michael’s character has been forged through a number of experiences. First, his church, though backward about evolution, grew to be very social and racial justice conscious. He started organizing with them around issues like payday lending, and led a study group on school segregation while attending UT, Dallas. Throughout that time, the number of people whom he met who struggled to work several jobs and take care of school-aged kids troubled him. This led to a stint teaching at CitySquare AmeriCorps in Dallas, Texas, with a population that was largely low-income, minority, and/or refugees. He and his girlfriend, who was Pakistani and spoke three languages, taught a mock trial class together. But even with their combined skills, it was incredibly difficult to help students from around the world achieve the same reading comprehension as their peers. It was harder still to find kids whose parents cold pick them up at 3pm.

“My work at AmeriCorps, and in organizing, and later at the Innocence Project of Texas, still informs my dedication to racial and social justice. Specifically, I believe that our bylaws, even now, disenfranchise people of color and working people. A lack of time limits, seemingly endless meetings, and unwritten rules all plague us even now.“ Progress had been made. “the process for amending the bylaws and standing rules is now one month. We have a systematic program to put primary challengers on equal footing with incumbents through our candidate accountability program. We enacted STAR voting to further our voices. But there is more work to be done. I try to come to the position every day with the ides of doing what is right and not necessarily what is popular But, if I can, I try to make what is right a reality by constantly repeating the message of social and racial justice and elevating the voices of those in our party who are disenfranchised.”

When he’s not working on class action lawsuits for a local law firm while he waits to take the bar, Michael bikes, likes indoor rock climbing and would like to get back to karate. His ease with impressions comes from a few years of theater in middle school.

Aiming for Goals

Some of the goals Michael would like to accomplish are: 1) make the party chair a paid position at $15/hr to enable working people to be elected; 2)create firm time limits for central committee meetings; 3) limit the number of standing committee meetings before decisions are made on pending resolutions, bylaws, and other action items; 4) publish Robert’s Rules Cheat Sheets in all major languages; 5) move central committee meetings around town so that people of color are more represented at the meetings; and 6) identify other forces systemically oppressing people seeking to get politically involved.

Join the Effort

Michael is looking for committee members who would like to join him to “promote a socially and racially just democracy.” He would like to see more representation from women and minorities. Committee meetings are once a month, but can involve some homework. Innovative ideas, policy expertise and guidance on elevating other voices within the party would be greatly valued. If you are interested in providing input at every state of the development of our party’s rules and bylaws, contact Michael at

MultDems co-sponsor Lights for Liberty, July 12 Vigil against human concentration camps in America

Download this statement as a PDF

As human beings, we should all be against the inhuman caging of men, women and children in concentration camps.

I invite you to join in solidarity opposing the camps by attending Lights for Liberty: A Vigil to End Human Concentration Camps on July 12, 2019. Become part of this nationwide statement of values in opposition to ripping families apart. Our America welcomes immigrants and does not put those seeking asylum into concentration camps. 

The Democratic Party of Multnomah County calls upon all Americans to join the massive outcry for an end to the human concentration camps that are established and maintained by the Trump administration. We as a country welcome those that experience injustice elsewhere. We as a nation value human rights both within our borders and across the globe. Democrats will not accept that this administration represents us when it takes children from their families, locks people in pens, and denies them basic human rights like access to water and family. Our government’s treatment of children and families seeking asylum is reprehensible.

Multnomah Democrats are proud to join with fellow sponsors of Lights for Liberty including Dolores Huerta and United Farm Workers Foundation who continue their noble advocacy for justice in America. We share their outrage at the policies of the Trump administration and at the suffering of vulnerable people at the Southern border. We thank the organizers, both national and local, for making this event happen.

Join Multnomah Democrats at the event we are co-sponsoring at Terry Schrunk Plaza (SW 3rd Avenue, between Madison and Jefferson St) at 8:30 pm Friday July 12, 2019 or at other events in the area:

  • Terry Schrunk Plaza, on SW 3rd Ave, between Madison & Jefferson St 8:30 pm
  • ICE Detention Center, 4310 SW Macadam Ave, Portland 7:30 pm
  • Hillsdale Food Carts on SW Sunset Blvd 9pm
  • Unity of Portland, 4525 SE Stark St, Portland, Oregon 97215, 8pm

For other locations around the state and nation, visit

Lurelle Robbins
Chair, Democratic Party of Multnomah County