Harney County Democratic Central Committee
July 8, 2019
6:00 PM~7:30 PM
Hines City Council Room
With July bringing much celebration and flag waving in honor of our independence from England in 1776, it is always a good time to reflect as we celebrate with family and friends, about our country, our democracy, and the many political symbols we honor and what they might mean to us and why. At our July meeting we will have an open discussion on patriotic symbols and 'why' and 'how' these symbols effect us.
Our July guest speakers are Harney County Veteran Service Officers Guy McKay, CVSO and Tim Mosher, ACVSO. They will talk about Veteran homelessness and suicide. If you are a veteran this might be a good time to come to our meeting and hear about serious issues facing our local veterans.
I am pleased to announce that Burns High School graduate, Christian Boyd, the recipient of the HCDCC 2019 Scholarship. Congratulations to Christian. He will be at our August 12, 2019 HCDCDD meeting along with Steve Quick, Harney County School District 3 Superintendent.
Oregon Legislative Woes:
July brings the end of the Oregon legislative session. As you have probably seen, the Oregon Senate Republicans still haven't shown up for work. Instead, they've fled the state, abandoning the more than 1.5 million Oregonians they represent and blocking the legislative process from moving forward. This in spite of the fact that they already cut a deal in Salem that included concessions to HB 2020. Now they're going back on their word and jeopardizing hundreds of other bills (driver cards, paid postage, healthcare- paid family leave, state budgets, and so much more).
Call Senator Bentz's office and ask why he supports this action. It is important the Senate Republicans get back to works and do their jobs.
Now to National Debates: 2020 is just around the corner and the candidates are ready to rumble. You are invited to watch the debates with other like-minded citizens, Wednesday, June 26th and Thursday, June 27th at the home of Isabelle Fleuraud. Debates start at 6 pm - 8 pm PST. Please contact Isabelle for more information at 520-262-6129.
Here is the lineup for the debates: Wednesday, June 26, the first night, will feature Bill de Blasio, Tim Ryan, Julián Castro, Cory Booker, Elizabeth Warren, Beto O’Rourke, Amy Klobuchar, Tulsi Gabbard, Jay Inslee, and John Delaney.
Thursday, June 27, the second night, will feature Marianne Williamson, John Hickenlooper, Andrew Yang, Pete Buttigieg, Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, Michael Bennet, and Eric Swalwell.
There is so much happening across the county, state and nation. Come and chat with us at our July monthly meeting to share your thoughts and political philosophy. Don't forget to check out our Face Book page and the Harney County Dems website. The links are listed below. Thanks for all you do as citizen of this great county, state and nation. Keep up the DEMOCRATIC movement!
Harney County Democratic Central Committee
June 10, 2019
Hines City Council Room
6:00 PM until 7:30 PM
With Summer just around the corner, the HCDCC is gearing up for 2019 State Fair participation, our own Harney County Fair and the annual summer picnic with our neighbor, Grant County. At the last SCC meeting in Prinveville, the leadership of Grant and Harney extended an invitation to Crook County. Mark Cerny from Grant County and Lynn McClintock , Harney County, will be looking at locations to accommodate this event.
Senator Jeff Merkley is to visit May 29 at the Lincoln School Auditorium, 4:00PM. Please RSVP at merkely.senate.gov . Yes, that is this week but no worries. Just show up or go to Events tab and click Town Halls. You will see Harney County and RSVP there. Although you do not have to pre-register, Merkely's office is interested in the number people attending. Since this is such short notice, I hope you can squeeze this event into your busy schedules.
Scheduled speakers for our monthly meetings is a way to outreach and educate us on topics affecting our county and state. In May, the topic of managing federal lands was canceled due to the availability of agency personnel; however, the group had the opportunity to hear from Pete Runnels, who voluntarily showed up, took questions from the floor and shared information regarding the financial crisis facing Harney County. For 45 minutes we were able to ask questions of the County Judge, and commensurate with each other, trying to find a the way forward.
HCDCC leadership will continue to obtain viable speakers for our meetings whenever possible. Potential guest speakers include; Senator Bentz and Representative Findley, occurring after the Oregon Legislative session ends. Members of the Burns Paiute Tribe, federal agency personnel to speak on managing federal lands, an educational forum, healthcare in rural areas, collaborative efforts in rural Oregon, etc. The DPO leadership, Secretary Eileen Kiely and KC Hanson, Chair, are scheduled 14 October 2019, potentially as a fund raiser. If you know any person or organization who would like to share at our monthly meetings, please contact Lynn McClintock.
At the Democratic Party of Oregon State Central Committee Meeting, May 19, 2019 in Prineville, Isabelle Fleuraud was elected to represent Eastern Oregon counties of Region 1. She will serve on DPO Executive Committee. At the CD2 meeting in early April, Isabelle was also elected to the DPO Rules Standing Committee representing Second Congressional District Democrats. Lynn McClintock was elected to the State Fair and Local Events Standing Committee, representing CD2. There remains one vacancy for a CD2 delegate to represent HCDCC.
Come celebrate HCDCC with pie and ice cream at June's meeting. We will start at 6:00 pm with the fun part and then move into the business meeting at 6:30 pm. Items for discussion include several policy updates, PCP and CD2 and Delegate appointments, update fund raising ideas, discuss scheduling for the State Fair/county fair, vote on the application for the DPO Check for Democracy, and adjourn at 7:30.
Save the date! Adopt a highway cleanup is scheduled for 8:00 am July 13th. We will need at least 6-8 people to clean our stretch of Highway 78. More information will be coming.
To further HCDCC outreach and education, the following is a book review by Marjorie Thelen;
The Uninhabitable Earth - Life After Warming by David Wallace-Wells, 2019, Crown Publishing
"It is worse, much worse, than you think." Thus starts this book on climate warming. For those of you who still deny that our climate is warming, this book may change your mind.
Did you know?
In all, the author says the clouds of uncertainty about climate change are projections not of collective ignorance about the natural world but blindness about the human world and can be dispersed by human action. If humans are responsible for the problem, they must be capable of undoing it. We have all the tools we need today to stop climate warming. Why aren't we moving ahead more quickly? In the end he says, "You can't choose the planet, which is the only one any of us will ever call home."
This book is available to borrow from the Harney County Library
Environment Committee~HB2020 - Clean Energy Jobs
HB2020 is about carbon reduction in the state of Oregon. We urge those in support of HB2020 - Clean Energy Jobs - to call or write to Rep. Lynn Findley and Sen. Cliff Bentz.
Findley: firstname.lastname@example.org; 503-986-1460
Bentz: Sen.CliffBentz@oregonlegislature.gov; 503-986-1730
Marjorie Thelen talked to Lynn Findley on Friday and he says he is not opposed to the Clean Energy Jobs Bill. There are now 94 amendments. He says one aspect that concerns him is the "trade areas", like Ontario that are on the border with Idaho. When gas goes up with the new bill, people will go to Idaho to buy gas. Issues like that still have to be worked out. Another example is cement plants in Oregon pollute less than in China, and we don't want to force Oregon cement out of business.
In a conversation with Cliff Bentz several weeks ago he indicated that he wasn't opposed to a price on carbon but was concerned about the transition to clean energy. You can call Bentz and Findley's office to schedule a time to talk to them, if you are so inclined.
The legislative session goes to July 1st, and now they are meeting on Saturdays. HB 2020 is now in the Ways and Means Committee. After that it goes to the floor for a vote. To learn more about the bill go to www.olis.leg.state.or.us. Click on Bills in upper right hand corner and go to HB2020.
Another group following this legislation is Reneworegon.org. If you go to their web site you can find more information and sign up to call.
Fund Raising Committee:
Vote Yes on Measure 101!
In the next few days, Oregon voters will get a ballot that essentially asks us to decide whether the state should keep the Oregon Health Plan.
More than one in four Harney County residents—2147 adults and children-- are enrolled in the Oregon Health Plan (OHP). Many of us, our friends, our neighbors, our children's classmates, stand to lose their health care through OHP if Measure 101 is not approved. Many people on OHP have jobs but can't afford insurance. Others are physically or mentally disabled, seniors, or laid off and can't find a job.
Last July, a 3/5 supermajority of the Oregon Legislature voted to meet the state's shortfall for OHP funding by assessments on our larger hospitals, managed care organizations, and insurance companies. Without the assessments, 350,000 Oregonians on the Oregon Health Plan would likely lose coverage, unless the legislature quickly comes up with another way to raise the money, like cutting education, police and public services.
These assessments are now law, but three legislators, Julie Parrish, Cedric Hayden and Sal Esquivel, moved to defeat the plan by referring it to voters as Measure 101, which asks voters to approve what was already approved by the legislature.
Measure 101 is confusing because its backers want it to fail. They are counting on Oregonians' knee-jerk reaction against “taxes” and disapproval of “freeloaders” to defeat Measure 101.
Measure 101 does a lot of good for little expense. It assesses hospitals and managed care organizations 0.7% of net profits. That's $7 on $1000. Rural hospitals like ours are exempt! It assesses insurance companies 1.5%. That's $15 on $1000. The measure states that insurance companies may not raise premiums more than 1.5%.
The measure would raise $210 to $320 million, which the state would use as part of the matching money needed to leverage as much as $5 billion from the federal government to pay for the Oregon Health Plan.
Without the Oregon Health Plan, many Oregonians would be unable to pay for health care, putting off medical problems until they become serious enough to go to the emergency room. Their unpaid bills would be passed on to insured people in the form of higher bills and higher insurance premiums.
The measure also puts money into a fund that partially compensates insurance companies for huge bills, like those for treating cancer or burns. This would keep insurance bills as much as 6% lower.
Measure 101 would lower the cost of insurance for the 210,000 Oregonians buying non-group insurance by an average $300 a year. Measure 101 also assures that every county in Oregon has at least one insurance plan available to buy.
A vote for Measure 101 is a win for all of us and the right thing to do. Vote YES on Measure 101!
Edie and Steven Koenig
Dick and Cherry Day
Gene and Pat Luttmann
This piece by Edie Koenig appeared in the Burns Times Herald, January 3, 2018.
Future of Harney County Water
by Diane Rapaport
Harney County is taking advantage of a big opportunity to find non-regulatory solutions and strategies for a sustainably managed supply of quality water for people, the economy and the environment.
There is reason for concern, urgency and action. As one Harney Count rancher drolly put it, “Too many straws are sucking too much water out of the basin.”
The Community-Based Planning Collaborative (also called Place-Based Planning) is working very hard to help determine Harney County’s long-term water future and avoid new regulations.
In 2015, the Oregon Water Resources Department (OWRD) curtailed processing groundwater irrigation well permits. According to OWRD, groundwater pumping “appears to be exceeding groundwater recharge.”
OWRD only deals with water availability issues.
The Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) deals with water quality issues. Currently no Oregon statute requires DEQ to issue regulations should widespread contamination of arsenic or nitrates be reported.
No other regulations currently affect our water usage.
In 2015, OWRD and the United States Geological Survey (USGS) announced that it was undertaking a five-year groundwater investigation in the greater Harney Basin. How much water is in the basin is a major focus of the investigation. The study will include new aquifer recharge information.
Currently, OWRD and USGS are taking quarterly measurements from 200 monitoring wells throughout the basin. Additionally,150 wells are being monitored by Harney County Watershed Council (HCWC) personnel through grants issued by the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board (OWEB). The information is shared with OWRD and USGS. Findings from the HCWC network will help support trends and results obtained from the wells being monitored by OWRD and USGS.
Should 2020 results of the OWRD/USGS groundwater investigation demonstrate that water is being depleted at unacceptable rates, OWRD could levy new regulations by designating areas of the basin, or the entire basin as a “Critical Groundwater Area,” and begin cutting off supplies to junior water rights holders.
OWRD does not want to do that and neither do folks in Harney County.
Harney County Community-Based Planning Collaborative
In 2016, the Harney County Watershed Council sought for and received a state grant for Place-Based Water Planning, which has become known locally as community-based planning. Since then, more than one hundred Harney County residents have attended quarterly meetings of the full collaborative; or participated in working groups.
The collaborative currently has three working groups: (1) The Water Availability group is examining technological and management strategies that might be effective in increasing water availability. An example is the use of more efficient irrigation systems that use less water and increase yield. (2) The Vegetation Management group is researching information about some of the natural dynamics that affect aquifer recharge, such as less snow and more rain; unthinned forests, which prevents snow from reaching the ground before it evaporates, juniper tree infestation, and so on. (3) The newly formed Municipal and Rural Domestic Water Users group is beginning to research municipal water usage, new domestic well installations and domestic well deepenings that have occurred in the last 15 years. Two more working groups, ‘surface water/ecological issues’ and storage/recharge will be added in the spring of 2018. These groups meeting at least eight times annually,
The research and other results from the working groups are shared with the community at quarterly meetings of the full collaborative.
The public is welcome at any working group meetings or at the full collaborative. Meeting dates and times are posted on the HCWC website and announced in the newspaper.
Some domestic wells owners in some areas of the basin have reported decreases in water levels, which have caused them to dig deeper and ‘chase the water.’ Some who have done so report high levels of arsenic and salts that has made their water undrinkable. Some have bought reverse osmosis devices for their homes.
The only arsenic study I know of was conducted by a student of Oregon State University who wrote a master’s thesis in 2014. The author sampled 49 wells in the basin and suggested more testing be done.
Crane science teacher Connie Robbins has called on her students to help conduct further arsenic studies of domestic wells in the Harney County basin. She will be presenting the results of her research at a January or February meeting of the Domestic Water Users group.
The Department of Water Quality (DEQ) announced last month that it would offer free water quality testing to owners of domestic wells. The information will not be shared with OWRD or other owners (unless specifically requested by the owner). (For more information, contact Paige Evans, DEG, 503-693-5738 or email: email@example.com.
The only time well owners are required to reveal results of water quality tests are when they sell their property.
Municipalities are required to regularly test their water for a variety of contaminants and share the information with users in their communities.
Collaboration: An Inspiring Goal
According to OWRD representative Harmony Burright, OWRD place-based water planning coordinator: “I want to encourage everyone to think about how we can manage water in a way that considers multiple interests, values our interconnectedness, and fosters collaboration. The stories we tell are powerful beyond measure. . . and encourage us to work with our neighbors to build communities that reflect our collective values.“
That’s a powerful and inspiring goal for Harney County people to work towards. Water, the lifeblood of our community, is a shared resource. Equally, potential challenges to this resource are a shared concern. I urge you to attend and participate in meetings by the Harney County Place-Based Water collaborative.