© 2022 Tootie Smith for Oregon. All Rights Reserved.

The Perils of Progressive Policies

As of right now, so-called progressives have been in charge of Portland for decades, the Oregon Legislature for years, the U.S. Senate and Congress and the White House.

So what, exactly, do we have to show for it?

We are literally surrounded on a daily basis by mounting evidence that the policies they champion continue to fail.

Let’s start at the local level. The City of Portland has long been dominated by the most far-left politicians that city’s population has to offer. There are no Republicans in charge, or even anywhere at the table. How’s that working out?

A soft-on-crime approach has led to an explosion in the number of car thefts. An attempt to appear politically correct caused the disbanding of the gang violence task force. Shootings are a regular occurrence, and the city is now covered in graffiti.

An “anything goes” approach to drug use and homelessness has resulted in the proliferation of tents on public sidewalks. Garbage lies in piles immediately visible from multiple major freeways corridors.

It’s increasingly obvious that what they’re doing isn’t working. And yet, we aren’t hearing any new ideas from the city’s leaders. All we get are excuses and promises that with even more of other peoples’ money, they’ll start to turn the corner on solving these problems.

At the state level, Democrats have held the governor’s office in Oregon since 1987. Even though Republicans held legislative majorities up until 2006 and managed to bring the House to a 30-30 split in the 2010 election, they’ve since been in the minority and superminority in both the state House and Senate.

The state has frequently had record revenues in that time. Taxes have been raised over and over again. But there is no indication whatsoever that state services are any better than they’ve been or that its agencies are more responsive to citizens.

Again, all we keep hearing is that lawmakers absolutely must have more money to make these systems work. But they never will, because there is no accountability for lack of performance or poor customer service.

At the federal level, we’re seeing a culmination of many issues coming together in disastrous fashion. Fiscal literacy and sanity were long ago thrown out the window, and the costs of essential household goods continues to skyrocket. The energy independence we achieved under the Trump administration has been replaced by a return to depending on other countries to meet those critical needs. A foreign policy based on the projection of weakness caused us to abandon our allies in Afghanistan and sit back and watch hopelessly as Russia attacked the Ukraine.

Luckily, we don’t have to be stuck on these trajectories.

We are months away from the November 2022 election, which gives us the chance to get back on the right track at the local, state and federal levels. Pretty soon, voters will be able to ask themselves if these current crop of candidates and policies are working, or if we can stand to do something different.

I eagerly await our opportunity to change course. Because it’s obvious that these progressive policies are not working and that we deserve so much better than this.

Are Our Kids Supposed to be Social Experiments for Oregon’s New Drug Law?

Over the past couple of weeks, law enforcement officials and prosecutors from throughout Oregon have started to realize the aftermath of Measure 110’s passage in last November’s general election. The bottom line is that it will drastically affect their ability to do their jobs.

Measure 110, which took effect February 1, changes possession of user amounts of controlled substances to a violation instead of a crime. Fortunately, Commercial Drug Offenses (CDOs) for many substances will remain a felony and some will be a Class A misdemeanor.

Unfortunately, the legal threshold between what will constitute a violation versus a crime is still somewhat baffling. Someone can now possess up to 40 units of LSD and methadone and 40 oxycodone pills and have it considered a mere violation.

What all of this means is that the investigation of drug crimes will now become more complicated and difficult than ever before.

That’s not even the worst part. Oregon voters were sold a bill of goods, in the form of a promise that passage of the measure would lead to more people getting the addiction treatment help that they need. But this recent article shows that this state is ill-equipped to deal with the anticipated influx of people wanting to utilize those programs.

As it currently stands, Oregon taxpayers spend billions of dollars on treatment programs. That spending is not tracked, and the system is already overwhelmed with people waiting months for addiction treatment services and not receiving them.

Oregon is a state whose residents already struggle with substance abuse. An estimated 300,000 residents are battling an addiction of some sort or another. We’re among the top states for abuse of painkillers and methamphetamine.

Although I’ve long believed in our initiative petition system, I believe it was abused in this case. Out-of-state interests decided to spend a few million dollars to essentially run an experiment in our beloved state, using some of our most vulnerable and underserved residents as guinea pigs.

If this measure produces the outcomes desired by its sponsors, you can expect to see similar versions of it popping up in other states. However, if it creates problems or makes existing ones even worse, which I believe will be the case, we alone will have to deal with the consequences.

Public policy is often described as a pendulum that swings back and forth, based on the actions and reactions to different decisions that are made. Sometimes the pendulum swings too far in one direction or another and eventually comes swinging back to a point of reasonable balance.

It can be argued that the War on Drugs took things too far in one direction, with the long-term incarcerations of millions of Americans for simple drug possession. But that pendulum seems to be heading to the opposite extreme, and I hope that we’re ready to bring it back into balance once everyone realizes that it’s gone too far.

Tootie Smith welcomes your comments and ideas to this or any topic of interest here…

Freefall from the Free-For-All

A simple drive on the freeway through Portland and the sight of all its homeless camps confirms what many have suspected for a long time—the tendency in this state towards the legalization of drugs has come with tremendous consequences for individuals, families and all of society.

My fear is that the passage of Measure 110 in last November’s general election will only further exacerbate the problem.

Dubbed by its sponsors as the “Drug Decriminalization and Addiction Treatment Initiative,” Measure 110 passed with around 58 percent of the vote, with over 1.3 million Oregonians electing to support it. The measure’s supporters raised $6 million for their campaign, while opponents were only able to raise $167,000.

Prominent figures who came out against the measure included Clackamas County District Attorney John Foote and former Governor John Kitzhaber, who had worked for years as an emergency room physician in Roseburg. Kitzhaber said that Measure 110 “makes it more difficult to treat the underlying addiction that leads to drug use in the first place.” Washington County District Attorney Kevin Barton predicted that its passage will “lead to increased crime and increased drug use.”

Under the measure, personal, non-commercial possession of a controlled substance will be no more than a Class E violation carrying a maximum fine of $100. It includes schedule I-IV substances like heroin, cocaine and methamphetamine. Even worse, the changes to the law under the measure now allow for possession of one gram or less of heroin, two grams or less of cocaine and meth, less than one gram or five pills of MDMA, less than 12 grams of psilocybin, less than 40 units of methadone and less than 40 pills, tablets or capsules of oxycodone.

Possession of the same drugs had been a Class C misdemeanor with a maximum penalty of one year in prison and a fine of up to $6250. Fortunately, manufacturing and distribution of those same drugs will remain a criminal penalty.

In lieu of paying a fine, offenders will have the option of completing a health assessment through the addiction recovery centers created by the measure’s passage. That assessment must include a substance use disorder screening conducted by a certified drug and alcohol counselor within 45 days of the violation.

The drug addiction treatment and recovery program will be funded in part by marijuana tax revenue and the projected savings from having fewer people in prison for drug-related crimes. All revenue to the state’s marijuana account over $11.25 million will be required to be transferred to the Drug Treatment and Recovery Services Fund (DTRSF) every quarter before being transferred to any other areas. This means that there will be a reduction of marijuana revenue distributed to cities and counties.

A minimum of $57 million in annual funding, adjusted for inflation, is now mandated to be provided by the Legislature to the DTRSF, although it’s estimated that the marijuana revenue diversion will be sufficient to fund it.

An Oversight Accountability Council will be established by the director of the Oregon Health Authority and will give grants from the DTRSF to government or community-run organizations to create addiction recovery centers. Those centers will then be required to provide medical or other treatment 24 hours a day, assessments, intervention plans, case management and peer support.

The recover centers in each Coordinated Care Organization service area are mandated to be established by October 1.

A legislative committee has been assigned to work on the measure’s implementation. My hope is that the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Ballot Measure 110 Implementation will consider the consequences of this measure over the next few months as it works on turning it into a functioning law.

Ultimately, there are direct connections between many of the same issues that are causing problems on the streets of Portland. Property crime, mental illness, homelessness and drug addiction are all related. Hopefully, our elected legislators will be able to implement this ill-advised ballot measure in such a way that it will not further erode the quality of life of all Oregonians.

Oregon State Government is Your Titanic

Oregon state government has become its own Titanic heavy with taxes, guns and vaxx. Soon to sink under the stupidity of its own ideas.

  1. $26 billion PERS retirement debt. Originally started as an incentive to give retirement to people to work in government back when the jobs paid little. Today through shrewd union negotiations for higher and higher wages and willing elected officials who gladly accepted tons of union cash to support their elections, we see a debt too big to pay.
  2. State wide rent control that limited, (or guaranteed) 7% rent increases plus inflation. This attempt to control costs will backfire as landlords immediately raised their rents or sold their properties to larger conglomerates opting for a more stable investment.
  3. Massive Gun control bills aimed to disarm what politicians can’t control — your speech.
  4. Remove measure 50 property tax limitations could increase your property taxes by as 40%.
  5. Removed mortgage interest deductions on primary and secondary residences, for many.
  6. $2 billion gross sales tax on businesses. Politicians think you will think this is a tax on someone else, so it won’t matter. It’s those big bad businesses that gives us jobs, 401K’s and the products we demand to buy or the services we need.
  7. Mandatory vaccinations that take away parental choice with consultation with your doctor and gives Oregon Health Authority the power to forcibly inject your children with drugs.
  8. Increased taxes on cell phones, beer, wine, cigarettes, vapors, groceries, fuel for cars and trucks, home heating oil, planes, trains and automobiles, timber and agriculture.

It’s not all bleak. There’s a fix. Your vote matters and there’s an election just around the corner.

Its time to stand up and take back your government. Is this what you voted for in electing a SUPER MAJORITY for the legislature and a governor who doesn’t understand you?