Open and Accountable Elections Portland

November 1, 2016

The Problem

Many communities face barriers to their voices being heard in our democracy.  One in three Portlanders are people of color, and yet we have only had two people of color ever serve on our City Council.  The majority of our population is female and we have had just seven women on the City Council.  And sixty percent of our city’s population lives east of 47th Ave, but only two commissioners have come from these neighborhoods

One major reason for this is the high costs of running for office.  Candidates are forced to spend time raising money from a small group of donors.  In the 2012 elections, sixty percent of all money raised came from just a few hundred donors giving over $1000 each.  And they gave three times as much as the six thousand small donors giving less than $250[1].  Candidates today need networks of wealthy donors to run for office.  That prevents everyday people from getting elected and representing their own communities.

The Solution

We need Open and Accountable Elections.  Under this reform, if a candidate agrees to only take small donations from individuals, their small donations are matched and amplified.  This reform ensures that every Portlander–regardless of their background—has a set at the table and a voice in our democracy

Small donor matching has been successful all across our country.  New York City has had it for over thirty years, and Maine, Connecticut, Seattle, Albuquerque, Los Angeles, and Montgomery County Maryland have seen this reform work.  Portland could too.

The Impact

Small donor matching changes how candidates campaign.  Because donations from ordinary people are amplified, candidates have more incentive to campaign in all neighborhoods.  That means candidates spend more time interacting with renters, students, working families, people of color, and Portlanders of every background.

Small donor matching also allows more people to run for office.  Big money acts as a barrier to candidates from low-income communities.  But if we do not need networks of wealthy donors to run for office, people of all backgrounds can participate in our elections.  The people with the most talent—not just the best connections–should be able to serve our city in public office.

Open and Accountable Elections is how we engage more people in our elections, and how we make sure that every person has a voice in our democracy.

Our elections are dominated by big donors.  But we can restore balance to our democracy.  If we match small contributions from ordinary Portlanders, every person can have a voice in our community.

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City Hall, Portland, OR

How Open and Accountable Elections Works

Our democracy can be put back in balance

  • Candidates for mayor, commissioner, or auditor must agree to not take any donation over $250 per election, and to only take donations from individuals.
  • Donations under $50 are matched six-to-one by the city, as long as the donors live in Portland, are over eighteen years old, and can give under federal and state law
  • Spending caps keep the costs down. Mayoral candidates cannot spend more than $380k in the primary and $570k in a general election.  Commissioner or auditor candidates cannot spend more than $180k in a primary election and $270k in a general election.

Our democracy can be responsible

  • Candidates must prove they have community support to qualify for the program. Mayoral candidates must raise $5000 from 500 Portlanders.  Commission or auditor candidates must raise $2500 from 250 Portlanders
  • Throughout the program, all candidates must disclose their contributions and their expenses more frequently than they do now
  • Candidates cannot use public funds to travel out of state, to throw expensive parties, or give the funds to another candidate. They cannot hire their family members, and they cannot go into debt.
  • Candidates must provide receipts to see a donation matched
  • Regulators have ten days to verify each donation
  • The verification process is transparent, fair, and open for the public to review

Our democracy can be a budget priority

  • The program is capped at 0.2% of the general fund, or $1 million a year
  • Public funds are protected, because mayoral candidates cannot receive more than $304,000 for a primary election and $456,000 for a general election in matching funds. Commission candidates or auditor candidates are capped at $144,000 in matching funds for a primary election, and $216,000 for a general election
  • There is no tax increase planned for this program

Our democracy can be fair

  • Violators and law-breakers can be fined up to $10,000
  • Independent expenditures and SuperPACs must be more transparent, and must disclose their donations and expenses on a faster timeline than they do now
  • An oversight commission will evaluate the program and can continually make recommendations to adjust for new dynamics

Open and Accountable Elections can make democracy work for all of us.  Join the many community-based advocates and support this reform for our city.

For more information, visit to www.AVoiceForAllPortland.org

Or contact Daniel Lewkow, Political Director for Common Cause Oregon at 503-283-1877 at Dlewkow@commoncause.org

[1] “In Portland, Elections 600 Big Donors Tip the Scales” The Sightline Institute.  May 27, 2016.  http://www.sightline.org/2016/05/27/in-portland-elections-600-big-donors-tip-the-campaign-scales/

 


Solar Inclusion Project

October 26, 2016

The Marys Peak Group (MPG) has developed a project to support the Sierra Club’s efforts to increase the use of solar power and to become more inclusive of diverse communities. Up to this point, the marketing target and users of solar energy have primarily been restricted to the upper economic classes of our society.

The MPG has long taken the position of “action over words” and “put our money where our mouth is.”  In an effort to broaden the usage of solar power throughout the economic spectrum, the MPG initiated and collaborated with Benton Habitat for Humanity, Seeds for the Sol and Abundant Solar, LLC to initiate the Solar Inclusion Project (SIP).

SIP has 3 goals:

  1. Inclusion and Independence – Provide solar energy systems on Benton Habitat for Humanity homes to include a wider economic diversity of families into the solar energy revolution and to provide a greater opportunity for the recipient families to experience economic independence.
  2. Collaboration – Create a unique collaboration of a social services organization, environmental non-profit, a funding organization and a for-profit business to help resolve some fundamental community problems.
  3. Model Project – Create a project model and process that can be used at the community, state or national levels by both the Sierra Club and Habitat for Humanity organizations.

The MPG provided $6,500 to kick-start and help fund this project. Seeds for the Sol is providing creative funding sources for the remaining funds. Abundant Solar is installing the systems below the profit threshold.

The kick-off ceremony on September 20, 2016 included the contribution of the funding by the MPG to Benton Habitat for Humanity, a signing of the commitment by the four member organizations,  plus speeches by the four organizations, including Oregon Chapter Executive Director Erica Stock and the Director of the Oregon Habitat for Humanity.

In addition to providing solar energy to low-income housing families, the MPG has also received very positive publicity and recognition.

In very quick fashion, all necessary funds and donations were raised and as a result of the publicity. Another donor has also stepped forward to fund the 3rd Habitat Home solar installation. The MPG is now seeking additional community benefactors.

The first project will be the installation of solar systems on three Benton Habitat for Humanity homes in Corvallis in the first half of November 2016.

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This collaboration is the first collaboration of its kind locally among environmental, social services, financial and business organizations. Karen Rockwell, the executive director of Benton Habitat said of the venture that, “I couldn’t be more excited about the Sierra Club’s decision to select Benton Habitat for Humanity to partner with on this project. Providing these funds allows us to provide Habitat homeowners with increased affordability and environmental sustainability. Not only will the cost of power to the families be substantially reduced, the project also goes hand-in-hand with our community’s sustainability goals!”

The MPG has met the first two parts of our SIP mission – inclusion and collaboration. In an effort to meet the third mission point – to model – the MPG encourages other Sierra Club groups to consider similar Environmental/Social/Financial/Business collaborations. Interested groups can contact MPG ExCom Chair Robert White at lwii47@gmail.com for further information.


Call for Nomination Petitions

October 18, 2016

Sierra Club Oregon Chapter Executive Committee welcomes nominations by petition!

Each year a portion of the Sierra Club Oregon Chapter’s elected at-large Executive Committee (ExCom) reaches the end of their terms. Some decide not to run again, others do. The Chapter uses democracy to hold itself accountable to its membership, so we need good candidates to best represent our members’ interests.

The ExCom sets the Chapter’s budget and strategic direction, is deeply involved in the Chapter’s conservation and political work, hires the state director, fundraises, chooses a delegate to the Council of Club Leaders, and approves litigation and electoral endorsements.

To accomplish all of this, the ExCom meets quarterly at different locations around the state to better facilitate involvement of our Chapter and Group leaders across Oregon. There are opportunities to participate remotely in these meetings and there is periodic e-mail and phone correspondence between meetings. ExCom members sit on or chair subcommittees to further contribute to the Chapter’s work and governance. The ExCom also participates in a planning an annual retreat and additional important events throughout the year.

This year, our Nominations Committee has identified five candidates to run for four vacancies on the ExCom. We value the Oregon Chapter membership’s involvement in this process and welcome additional nominees by petition in accordance with our bylaws.

After receiving additional nominations by petition, we — the Nominations Committee — will finalize the candidate slate for this year’s election ballot, which will go out to members in November. Chapter members interested in getting on the ballot by petition must submit a written petition with the names, member numbers, and signatures of at least 1%, or 200, of the Chapter’s 20,000 members in good standing to the Nominations Committee within two weeks of this notice. The Nominations Committee will accept petition nominations until end-of-day November 1, 2016.

Candidates then get space on the Chapter website to advocate for their election in a brief candidate statement.

The four-week election period will commence later in November and close in December.

The four candidates receiving the most votes will start their two-year terms in January 2017.

Have ideas on who would be a great Executive Committee member? Interested in petitioning for nomination as a candidate in this year’s Oregon Chapter Executive Committee election? Send completed petitions or other inquiries to Nominations Committee Chair, Drew Kerr at kerr.drew@gmail.com. Please send nomination petitions no later than November 1, 2016.

Thank you!

– The Nominations Committee

 


Beyond Gas & Oil Campaign Work

October 13, 2016

The Oregon Sierra Club Beyond Gas and Oil Team (BG&O) is doing awesome work throughout the region to  move Oregon and the Pacific Northwest in the right direction—away from dirty fossil fuel extraction, transport, and export. A summary of their ongoing work on gas infrastructure and oil trains is below. Contact Gregory Monahan, Chair of the Beyond Gas and Oil Team, if you would like more information or if you would like to volunteer with the Beyond Gas and Oil Team: gregory.monahan@oregon.sierraclub.org.

GAS

Owing to the revolutionary improvements in hydraulic fracturing (fracking) technology, there are abundant sources of natural gas in the Pacific Northwest which the producers are seeking to get to market, with catastrophic impacts on planetary warming.  Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) is produced by compressing and cooling natural gas and requires massive amounts of energy to create, resulting in greater global warming impacts. Methanol is essentially another liquid form of natural gas which also requires massive energy inputs to produce. All of these products, while being touted as clean energy solutions are dirty fossil fuels and need to be left in the ground if we are to leave our children and grandchildren a world in which they can thrive.

If you have not already seen it, take a look at the LNG video produced by the 8th grade Sustainability Cohort from Sunnyside Elementary School last year:

Jordan Cove Export Terminal and Pacific Connector Pipeline Not Dead Yet

The proposed Jordan Cove LNG Export Terminal, Pacific Connector Pipeline and associated South Dunes Power Plant live on as a “dead project walking”. FERC has denied the permits for the pipeline and terminal because of a lack of customers and because too few landowners have signed easements. The applicants have filed a “request for a rehearing” with FERC and have been busy trying to create the impression that they now have contracts to sell gas (they don’t) and that they made headway in signing easements (they haven’t). FERC has is not to make a decision on the request for a rehearing until after the November elections. The companies are paying state agencies to continue to evaluate permits (DEQ water quality permits for the 400+ stream crossings and DSL for the lease of public lands). DEQ has a deadline for issuing a decision by Nov 8th while the deadline for DSL is Nov. 10th. The BG&O team is working closely with our allies in the Statewide No LNG coalition to help educate the public about the status of the project and the threat this project represents to both the impacted landowners and to the health of the planet.

Proposed Kalama Methanol Refinery and Export Terminal
methanolThe work to block the proposed Kalama Methanol terminal and associated natural gas pipeline continues with organizing leadership being provided by WA Chapter of the Sierra Club organizer Cecile Gernez and Jasmine Stukey-Zimmer, Senior Organizer with Columbia Riverkeeper. The Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) for the project was released on September 30, 2016. There are significant information gaps in the FEIS, which is supposed to address the potential effects on the environment from the project. Columbia Riverkeeper will appeal the FEIS. Once the appeal is filed, it will take a few months for the Cowlitz County commissioner-appointed Hearings Officer to make a decision.

Expanded Use of Natural Gas for Electrical Power Generating at the Carty-Boardman Site.

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Photo credit: Steve Nehl/The Oregonian

When the Coal to Clean legislation was passed earlier this year, it was with the expectation that Coal fired power sources would phase out and be replaced with renewable energy sources. PGE recently announced its intention to add another Natural Gas powered generator to the Carty-Board man site making this a Coal to Natural Gas transition. The BG&O Campaign is partnering with the Beyond Coal campaign to stop this wrong-headed idea in its tracks. We need to directly transition to a carbon free grid and skip the 30 year side trip that new natural gas powered power plants represent.


OIL TRAINS

meganticMany of the existing and proposed oil terminals and refineries in the state of Washington plan on using the rail lines that run on both sides of the Columbia River through the small towns and cities in the rural areas, through the National Scenic Area of the Columbia Gorge and through the metropolitan areas of Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington. Regardless of which side of the river they run on, these trains represent a threat to the health and safety of the people and environment on both sides of the river.

Trains carrying Bakken Crude have a history of derailments with explosive fires such as the one in Lac-Mégantic. Canada which killed 47 people and demolished the central portion of the town.

Proposed Shell Rail Expansion in Anacortes, WA withdrawn

Shell has withdrawn its proposal to expand its Anacortes Refinery rail siding capacity, which would have resulted in as many as 6 additional explosive crude by rail running through the Columbia Gorge every day.

 

fireball

Photo credit: Dawn Faught via NT

Southern Willamette Valley Crude by Rail Work Beginning

Interest in blocking crude by oil trains through the southern Willamette valley is increasing in the wake of the derailment and explosive fire this past June in Mosier, Oregon. The BG&O team will participate in a 350 Eugene sponsored Expert Panel on Oil Trains as part of their “Awareness and Resistance” Oil Train campaign scheduled for Nov 15th. Preliminary discussions have taken place exploring the idea of establishing a Statewide No Crude by Rail Coalition loosely based in the successful Statewide No LNG Coalition.

The Final Environmental Impact Statement for the proposed Westway oil terminal in Grays Harbor released on September 30th

This proposed project would be another source of long, explosive crude oil trains running through the Columbia River Gorge. Read the working summary of the main points of the final EIS from the Stand Up To Oil (SUTO) Coalition website. Join with over 600 members of the Yakama nation and urge the Mayor of Hoquiam and city manager to deny permits for Westway oil terminal proposal by using the SUTO web site.


New Faces!

September 28, 2016
We are thrilled to announce two new recent hires within the Oregon Chapter of Sierra Club!


magdaMagda Mendez-Martinez  joins us as our new Outreach and Development Coordinator.  In her new role, Magda will be to coordinating and assisting with with chapter fundraising campaigns, membership and volunteer engagement, strategic communications and marketing efforts, as well as capacity building projects to help increase the effectiveness of the Oregon Chapter.
Originally hailing from Mexico City and having lived in Melbourne, Australia for 3 years studying environmental policy and communications, Magda brings cultural competency and a global prospective to Sierra Club. She is fully fluent in English and Spanish, and her experience includes managing an innovation workshop to enhance sustainable practices in Melbourne. She is passionate about climate change and has also previously worked in marketing and communications within the public and private sector performing strategic planning, community and stakeholders engagement, database management and public relations tactics. She most recently interned at Oregon Environmental Council, Living Cully “Verde”, and The United Nations Environmental Programme in New York supporting environmental policy analysis, research, and translation.
Magda can be reached at magda.mendez@sierraclub.org

alexMany  already know Alex Harris, our new Biomass Organizer. Alex joined the Sierra Club in 2015 to help fight against the wave of fossil fuel infrastructure projects proposed in the Northwest. Since joining the Club he has organized against oil, coal, and methanol proposals in Washington State and helped mobilize resistance to the largest free trade agreement in history: the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). In his new role, Alex will be working as part of our team to ensure that dirty sources of energy do not replace retired fossil fuel infrastructure, such as coal plants. Specifically, Alex is working to close a loophole currently proposed in Congress that classifies all biomass as carbon neutral, which could have dangerous implications for climate change, forest management, and public health.
Please feel free to get in touch with Alex if you would like to learn more about biomass or if you’d like to get more involved on biomass issues. Alex can be reached at alex.harris@sierraclub.org
We couldn’t be more excited for Magda and Alex to join our team! Please feel free to reach out and welcome them to the Sierra Club.

Portland Rocks Hard Against the TPP!

September 2, 2016
 By Alexander Harris
Night Crowd - Signs

Artists and organizers on stage for the finale!

On Saturday, August 20, over a thousand Oregonians came together in downtown Portland to “Rock Against the TPP” with musicians, comedians, and activists from around the country. The concert tour’s stop in Portland not only had outstanding music and spectacular speeches, but also featured a photo petition with huge props (TPP Death Star), a beer garden, trade-themed carnival games, and more!

Earlier in the afternoon, dozens of climate activists attended an educational workshop on how the TPP’s policy failures would exacerbate climate change and degrade the planet. Expert panelists drilled into the shortcomings of the environmental chapter and also discussed how the Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) process could hinder local climate action in the Northwest. The workshop was followed by a lively march with chants and creative street theater, eventually arriving to the concert venue just before the show began.

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Over a hundred marched and joined the creative street theater!

Erica - Rock Against

Erica Stock, new ED of OR Chapter

The next day, Portland’s Rock Against the TPP festivities ended with a TPP 101 teach in, which gave the 100-or-so attendees a solid foundation to better understand this complicated issue. In all, 58 labor, environmental, and human rights organizations throughout the state played a role in this weekend of action. With the strong leadership of the Oregon Fair Trade Campaign, the Sierra Club, and many others the trade justice movement continues to grow in Oregon!

To continue to build the pressure, Sierra Club members have created a TPP working group open to anyone interested in stopping this trade deal! Our first monthly meeting is Thursday, September 8, at the Sierra Club office (1821 SE Ankeny, Portland). Come learn how you can plug into this important campaign to stop the largest free trade deal in history!

Contact Tom Sincic for more info:
503-901-7519  –  sincict@q.com
      Climate Warriors!
Over a thousand activists from around the entire state demonstrated their opposition to the TPP
Huge crowd

Oregon Sierra Club August Events

August 7, 2016
August 17th: Time To Choose – Portland

Join NAACP Portland Chapter and Oregon Sierra Club, Columbia Network for a special screening of Time To Choose and featuring a special keynote address by social justice activist, leader, and NAACP Portland Chapter President Jo Ann Hardesty. Climate change is the biggest challenge humanity has ever faced – and it is also our greatest opportunity. We have the solutions we need, but we are in a race against the clock to implement a just transition in time. Narrated by award-winning actor Oscar Isaac and directed by Academy Award®-Winning documentary filmmaker Charles Ferguson, Time To Choose captures the urgency and innovation of this critical moment and leaves audiences understanding not only what is wrong, but what can to be done to fix this global threat

Wednesday, August 17th, 6:30 pm
OMSI Empirical Theater, 1945 SE Water Ave, Portland
Tickets here!
Time to Choose

August 17th: Our Fish & Our Forests – Astoria

Fish and forests command significant attention in Oregon’s vibrant dialogue. Both resources have a deep history of contributing to our culture, economy, and ecology. This talk is aimed at illuminating how fish – especially salmon and steelhead – and forest interact. How do our coastal forested watersheds impact salmonid health? How, in turn, do fish play a role in forest ecosystems? And, what are the implications of the way we manage these resources?

Wednesday, August 17th, 6:30 – 7:30
Towler Hall Room 310, Clatsop Community College, Astoria
Details here!
Trask River 2

August 20th: Rock Against the TPP – Portland

The TPP poses many threats to our climate and for that reason the Sierra Club is determined to stop the TPP from coming up for a vote in Congress this fall. There are only a handful of Democrats throughout the entire country that might vote for the TPP during the Lame Duck session and several of them are from Oregon! This means we have a major opportunity (and responsibility) to pressure our Rep’s and stop the TPP from coming to a vote.

Come show your support for trade justice!

Saturday, August 20th, 5:00 pm
Director Park, 815 SW Park Avenue, Portland
Free tickets here!
Landscape TPP

August 26th: Lummi Totem Pole Ceremony- Vancouver, WA

The Lummi Nation House of Tears Carvers will showcase their latest totem pole carved in solidary with communities throughout the region fighting against fossil fuel export terminals. Earlier this spring, the Lummi Nation succeeded in blocking the construction of the Gateway Pacific coal export terminal proposed at Cherry Point, Washington. The totem pole journey is intended to build relationships and solidarity between tribes and communities pushing back against the recent flood of fossil fuel export proposals throughout the region.

The totem pole visits Longview just one month before the Army Corps of Engineers is slated to release their Draft Environmental Impact Statement on the Millennium Bulk Terminals coal export proposal.

WHO: Lummi Nation House of Tears Carvers, Cowlitz County faith leaders & you! 
WHAT: A presentation of the totem pole and spiritual blessing of the totem pole and the journey. 
WHEN: Friday, August 26th, 2016 10:30-Noon, lunch to follow 
WHERE: Longview United Methodist Church, 2851 30th Ave, Longview, WA 98632

Lunch contributions: Dessert – Longview Presbyterian; Salads – St. Stephens Episcopal; Bread and beverages – Longview Methodist.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

https://totempolejourney.com/
https://www.facebook.com/events/302048710136261/ 
Totem

August 26th-28th: Waldo Lake Campout

The Oregon Sierra Club Eastside Forest Committee has initiated a campaign to provide greater protection for the forested areas east of Waldo Lake, a beautiful region 35 miles southwest of Bend containing abundant old growth and roadless areas. Currently it is unprotected beyond its federal forest status. For more information on what we’re proposing, look at our Keep Waldo Wild web page. This weekend car campout is designed to introduce you Waldo Lake’s environs and treat you to its plentiful attractions. We hope you’ll become as excited about preserving the area east and south of Waldo Lake as we are!

The 2016 Waldo Weekend Campout will be held August 26-28, Friday-Sunday, at the Shadow Bay Campground on the southern end of the lake. Group Site B, Sites 25 thru 43, is reserved for Friday and Saturday nights and will accommodate 60 to 120 people.

Additional details here!
Register here!
Waldo