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Senate Democrats Again Voluntarily Allow the DISCLOSE Act to Fail

Today the Democrats in the U.S. Senate voluntarily allowed the DISCLOSE Act to fail, again. This is the bill that would require disclosure of the sources of some independent expenditures in races for U.S. Congress and President.

The Democrats allowed the Republicans to filibuster the bill. The vote to end the filibuster (called cloture) was 51-45 in favor of ending the filibuster and thus allowing a vote on the bill itself. The chair then declared that the cloture motion failed, because it requires a 60% affirmative vote.

At that point, the Democrats could have invoked the "Constitutional Option" and have challenged the ruling of the chair.  That ruling could be overturned with a simple majority vote, as it was last year when Harry Reid invoked that option (also known as the "nuclear option") to disallow introduction of a series of amendments to a bill about Chinese currency manipulation.  The Hill reported on Oct 6, 2011:

In a shocking development, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid triggered a rarely used procedural option informally called the “nuclear option” to change the Senate rules.

Reid and 50 Democrats voted to change Senate rules unilaterally to prevent Republicans from forcing votes on uncomfortable amendments.

Reid’s coup passed by a vote of 51-48, leaving Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) fuming.  The surprise move stunned Republicans, who did not expect Reid to bring heavy artillery to what had been a humdrum knife fight over amendments to China currency legislation.

The Democrats use "heavy artillery" on bills of marginal importance but wield a  rubber sword when it comes to campaign finance reform.

Party Announces Process for Nominating Candidates in 2012

The deadline for Oregon minor parties to nominate and/or endorse candidates for the 2012 General Election is August 28, 2012.

The Oregon Progressive Party (OPP) shall conduct its monthly membership meetings on June 12, July 10, and August 14. At the July and August meetings, the Party may discuss candidates who are seeking the Party's nomination or endorsement and may recommend such nomination or endorsement of a candidate to the State Nominating Panel. The candidates to be discussed at any meeting are those who have completed the "Steps for Candidates" below at least 7 days prior to the meeting.

Steps for Candidates

1.    Determine whether you meet the legal requirements to run for the office you seek. For example, to run for a seat in the Oregon Legislature, you must have been a resident of the district at least since January 1, 2012. You may ask questions about the legal requirements by submitting them to

2.    Complete the Candidate Questionnaire.

3.    Commit to supporting the OPP platform.

4.    Commit to complying with all laws pertaining to campaign finance reporting.

5.    Attend the subsequent OPP monthly membership meeting and answer questions by OPP members.

San Jose Mercury News Article on Top-2 Primary

The San Jose Mercury News has this article, "California's minor parties facing extinction under new voting system." The founders and leaders of the Oregon Progressive Party led the opposition to adopting a very similar system in Oregon (Measure 65 of 2008), which Oregon voters defeated by 66-34%.

OPP Halts City Plan for No-Bid Buying of Urban Combat Gear from Policeman's Company

On the morning of May 29, 2012, OPP issued this press release entitled, "Portland City Council Declaring `Emergency' to Buy No-Bid Equipment from Company owned by Policeman." OPP was the only opponent of this item on the agenda. Within hours, the item was removed from the agenda and has not been rescheduled. The Oregonian reported on May 30:

Portland Mayor Sam Adams Wednesday morning [May 30] removed from the City Council's consent agenda an ordinance that would have allowed the Portland Police Bureau and other city bureaus to purchase gear from a company owned by a Portland patrol officer. In the face of opposition from the Oregon Progressive Party, Adams removed the ordinance from the agenda and sent it back to his office.

The press coverage was extensive, including The Oregonian, KXL, KATU, and the Business Journal (with a second article).

City Council to Declare "State of Emergency" to Allow No-Bid Contracts for Combat Gear from Company owned by Police Officer



Alaina Melville
Philip Kauffman


On Wednesday, May 30th, the Portland City Council will vote on an ordinance that will waive restrictions and allow the Police Bureau and other city agencies to enter into no-bid contracts with Extreme Products, LLC, a company owned by Portland Police officer John A. Myers.

Allowing such purchases "directly and without competition" is so important that the ordinance "declares that an emergency exists" so that the City can immediately buy "urban combat gear" from Extreme Products, despite the fact that purchasing goods and services "from any City employee, or any business with which a City employee is associated," is banned by Section 5.33.070 of the City Code.

Extreme Products specializes in urban combat gear for government agencies, selling weapons and tools designed to hurt people.  This company also boasts that they are a local recruiter for the the National Rifle Association, a group that advocates for pro-gun politics, regardless of the deaths of innocents and the cost to communities.

Item 588 is a part of the consent agenda, meaning there will be no discussion on the decision made behind closed doors.  Further, the agenda items itself states that there was no "public involvement included in the development of this Council item."  None.  And "The [Police] bureau does not anticipate  that any future public involvement  will be necessary."

This ordinance is followed on the agenda by the highly controversial proposal to install spy cameras.

"It is disturbing that City Council would announce this waiver on the same day that they vote to install spy cameras.  Declaring an emergency to allow an officer to profit off the militarization of his own police force, while simultaneously attempting to advance a local surveillance state, is not only unconstitutional but very dangerous for our community" said Alaina Melville, organizer for the Oregon Progressive Party.

The Oregon Progressive Party along with individuals and groups from the community will be meeting outside Portland City Hall 8:30 am Wednesday to protest the installation of spy cameras and the passage of Item 588.

Stop Police Spy Cam Installation in Portland

Join Oregon Progressive Party to STOP Police Spy Camera Installation in Portland

City Council sent out the announcement 2:58pm, the Friday before Memorial Day Weekend, stating that the installation of spy cameras in Portland will be on the agenda for the City Council Meeting Wednesday May 30th at 9:30 am.  Nice timing, right!
They hope people won't be there for the vote to put cameras up in Portland.  They are wrong. 
There still is no policy in place that describes the limits on how these cameras can be used.

Portland Police (PPB) could access camera feeds through their phones with little oversight if any. 

We cannot allow this violation of our public and private spaces!!

Images collected would be deleted after 24 hours, ensuring video the PPB wants to keep will be saved but video that citizens would want to access (and any videos showing officers acting unlawfully) could be easily deleted.
Wednesday, May 30th

8:30 am - Rally and Protest - Meet Outside City Hall (west side)
9:30 am - City Council Meeting Begins at the Portland Building

Portland City Hall:  1221 SW 4th Avenue, Portland, Oregon
The Portland Building:  1120 SW 5th Avenue (next to City Hall)
City Council Meeting is in 2nd Floor Auditorium
We do not need to spend city funds in spy cameras for Portland!! 

We need council members committed to providing social services not advocating for Portland joining the surveillance state.
The spy cameras give more power to the police but do not address any core issues relating to crime or substance abuse. 

Profiling tactics have proven dangerous to our community, and the use of these cameras will encourage profiling and threatens the civil liberties of all.

Poll Shows Citizens United and SuperPACs Undermine Democracy

The Brennan Center has issues a report, Americans’ Attitudes about the Influence of Super PAC Spending on Government and the Implications for our Democracy.

Download the Summary [pdf]

Download the Appendix [pdf]

It shows that the spending of Super PACs in this year’s election cycle has given rise to a large, bipartisan consensus that such outsized spending is dangerous for our democracy. Historical polling has repeatedly shown that Americans believe elected officials favor the interests of large contributors to their own campaign war-chests.  This new poll reveals for the first time that Americans have similar fears of elected officials favoring big donors to nominally independent Super PACs — and also that many are less likely to vote because of Super PAC spending.  

The poll reveals that nearly 70 percent of Americans believe Super PAC spending will lead to corruption and that three in four Americans believe limiting how much corporations, unions, and individuals can donate to Super PACs would curb corruption.  Of those who expressed an opinion, more than 80 percent believe that, compared with past elections, the money being spent by political groups this year is more likely to lead to corruption.  And, most alarmingly, the poll revealed that concerns about the influence Super PACs have over elected officials undermine Americans’ faith in democracy:  one in four respondents — and even larger numbers of low-income people, African Americans, and Latinos — reported that they are less likely to vote because big donors to Super PACs have so much more sway than average Americans.

Oregon Race So Far Leads in SuperPAC Spending

The Citizens United decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in January 2010 created the notion of SuperPACs.  So far, the race to replace David Wu for Oregon Congressional District 1 leads the way in SuprePAC money with almost $2.2 million spent.   That will change over the summer, as races in the November election come into play.

Oregon leads SuperPAC spending

Joe Walsh Stands Up for Democracy

Joe Walsh writes:

On May 23rd, many of us who call ourselves progressives/activists attended a Portland City Council meeting to protest the raising of rates on water usage.  We were told, after our arrival,  there would be no testimony and the voting by the members of the Council would be at 2:00 PM.  Many of the members of  Friends of the Reservoirs were there to speak against this rate increase and fight against the EPA’s mandate to change our water delivery system.  The first indicator that the “Fix” was in was the missing sign up sheets.  Mayor Adams had no intention to allow anyone to testify against these rate increases; it was a done deal.  We listened for a time and then, when it was clear what was happening, I stood up and called for a point of order.  The Mayor acted in a dictatorial manner and ordered me to sit or be thrown out of  the hearing.  I stood my ground and two security men arrived at each side of me and ordered me to leave.  I fell to my knees and refused to go until the mayor answered my point of order.  He refused but did indicate that he would now let the citizens of Portland present their views on this outrage.  The confrontation was over.  Someone did call the police and about 6 cops showed up for one old guy on oxygen who was challenging mayor adams.

We did testify and as a result Commission Fritz, to her credit, requested a meeting with the rest of the Council to work on lowering the rate increase and try to come to some type of compromise.  We applauded her actions, but the fight has only just begun.

It was announced that on May 30 at 9:30 am next week the water rates would be taken up again, this is where you come in.  Will you come and join us at this hearing?  You have taken positions on the covering of the reservoirs, the building of a treatment plant at Bull Run and/or the destruction of a wonderful system to deliver drinking water to the residents of Portland.  I only speak for Individuals For Justice and the Oregon Progressive Party, however I can not imagine any organization that would not be proud if you came and sat during this next hearing.  I for one would be honored if you joined in and raised your concerns about a major mistake by the Water Department.  I know it is difficult to make these meetings, however this issue is of great importance to our city.

Thank you for you time and we’ll see you at the next city council meeting.

PS:  There is another item on the agenda that Oregon Progressive Party has come out against--installation of police spy cameras in the downtown area.  This is item 613 to be voted on sometime in the morning also. Remember that the City Council is meeting in the Portland Building (not City Hall) and will start at 09:30 am.

Citizens Allowed to Speak, Only After Joe Walsh Demands It

By Roberto Lovato

Dave, Howdy, Joe Walsh, Malcolm Chaddock, and I attended the 2:00pm city council rate hikes meeting at the Portland building yesterday.  Joe said that "if he was not allowed to testify",  then he would get arrested for speaking out. There was a confrontation with Mayor Sam, who relented and activists were allowed to speak after Department presentations were made. When activists were allowed to speak on the issues or water, sewer, and garbage rate hikes, they thanked Mr. Walsh for making a fuss to make testimony possible. Joe did not have to get arrested to make his point. I yelled out during the confrontation,"This is a democracy, not a dictatorship". I feel that, because of this action that Amanda Fritz voted no on the issue and the full rate hikes were not voted in. Check out the KATU Video .

Friends, we are lucky to have Joe Walsh on our side.
I saw maybe 30 NO rate hike activists at this meeting. We are on the streets making a difference: Individuals for Justice & Oregon Progressive Party.

Shame on Oregon for not Joining Amicus Brief to uphold Montana Law against Citizens United

AP reports: "The states who filed the brief in support of Montana are New York, Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Mississippi, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia and the District of Columbia." Not Oregon. Shame on Oregon.

See this ThinkProgress Article.

Useful Free Seminar Series

Civics for Adults: Workshops to Enhance Civic Knowledge and Inspire Political Engagement
An Occupy Portland – “Our School” Workshop Series

Participatory democracy is an illusion if people aren’t involved. Understanding how government works and meaningful civic engagement are necessary, especially in these times of powerful anti-democratic interests. We can’t just give up. If anything, we have to work harder. And, be smarter. And, work together. That’s what we’ll do in these workshops.

Facilitator: Donna L Cohen, M.Ed. M.L.I.S.
Tuesday nights, 6:30-8:30, June 19, 2012 – July 31, 2012 [except for July 3]
Concordia University, George R. White Library
NE 29th and NE Rosa Parks Way
Community Room [Ground floor, east end of the library, 29 th St side]

TV Coverage of Our Protest Against Police Spy Cams

KOIN TV Coverage of Our Protest Against Police Spy Cams

Click on the title above to get the video. It does not appear to work well in Firefox.

Oregonian Article on Our Protest v. Police Spy Cams

Protesters gather to oppose Portland police plan for video surveillance cameras

May 09, 2012
Maxine Bernstein

The Oregon Progressive Party is protesting the Portland Police Bureau's proposal to place video surveillance cameras on private property in Old Town to help monitor drug deals.

Roberto Lovato"Instead of spying on our citizens and creating a police surveillance state in the vein of Orwell's 'Big Brother,' the PPB should be using their limited resources in prevention and treatment, not adding another weapon to the failed War on Drugs," said Phillip Kauffman, Oregon Progressive Party state council member.

About 20 people came to protest outside City Hall on Wednesday morning. Meanwhile, the mayor pulled the item from the morning's council agenda, and referred it back to his office. Last week, Commissioner Dan Saltzman said he wouldn't support the program unless Chief Mike Reese adopted protocol restricting the camera's use and stating the consequences of any misuse.

The chief has said the cameras, which can "pan, tilt and zoom," would focus on public spaces and the images could be monitored by officers' smartphones, mobile computers in their cars or laptops. He said the surveillance could be helpful in aiding police in drug and gang enforcement.

Roberto Lovato, among the protesters, said he had hoped the demonstration would put pressure on the mayor to halt the plan. "If they get the OK to put them up in Old Town and Chinatown, they'll put them everywhere," Lovato said.

The chief's proposal to hold private property owners harmless from any liability that might arise from the installation of the police cameras on their buildings had been placed on the council's consent agenda two weeks ago as an emergency ordinance.

Portland Copwatch objected, and it was pulled off the consent agenda last week and placed on the regular agenda last week allowing for council discussion. The American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon also has opposed the police plan, saying the surveillance is ineffective and a waste of resources.

The Citizens Crime Commission supports the proposal, saying it will increase security for area businesses and help police enforcement of street-level drug dealing in Old Town Chinatown.

Great Days of Nader / Anderson Events

We've had two great days with Ralph and Rocky in town and we'll have our monthly meeting at our office here starting at 7pm tonight. Below is a sampling of the media. Ralph packed 250 people at noon into Powell's, then had more than 600 people pack into Lewis and Clark to see him debate former Bush admin. official and neo-con Jamie Fly (Ralph won that debate easily)! Today we had a great press conference with Rocky & Ralph (video here) , had an article in Oregonian, two TV channels (KATU and KPTV), and Oregon public broadcasting there.  Then we had a successful rally with Rocky at PSU. This is a great kick-off for the Progressive Party and 2012 Elections let's keep the momentum up and firing...go we go...

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