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Oct. 16, 2013
A new Portland State University report (pdf) commissioned by the Department of Justice provides hard data about of child trafficking in the Portland metro area. Over the past several years, we've talked about efforts to address this crime, but researchers say the numbers provide a new window into the problem. The study found in part: The average age that victims were referred to services in Oregon was 15-and-a-half; the youngest victim was eight years old. About 17 percent have had a baby. More than 50 percent of cases have a gang connection. U.S. Attorney Amanda Marshall, who commissioned the report, says she expects the information in the report to have real world impacts: [W]e are giving policy makers, social service providers, and other stakeholders the data they need to respond to the needs of these children.
Aug. 6, 2013
Jane Lubchenco was a highly respected zoology professor at Oregon State University when she was tapped in 2009 by the Obama administration to become the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). We spoke with her shortly after her appointment and we're checking in with her again, now that she's stepped down. Her research at OSU has been focused on "understanding the dynamics of natural ecological communities." She's received numerous awards for her research, including one earlier this year that honored her lifetime achievement. After a stint as a distinguished visiting professor at Stanford University, she's returning to OSU. This Friday she'll be keynoting the 25th annual da Vinci Days festival in Corvallis.
July 18, 2013
Before Amanda Marshall became U.S. Attorney for the state of Oregon, she spent ten years as a state Assistant Attorney General tackling child advocacy issues. She's brought her experience in that job to her new position, taking on gangs and child prostitution as two of her biggest priorities. She spotted connections between pimps and gangs, so she added two prosecutors to the formerly one-man gang unit, and expanded its focus to combat both gangs and sex trafficking. Since then, the unit has filed three times as many indictments. But Marshall has been busy in other areas as well. She has requested that Portland Mayor Charlie Hales commit more resources to the Joint Terrorism Task Force. She filed a lawsuit against Gov. John Kitzhaber alleging the state was violating the Americans with Disabilities Act by using sheltered workshops. Her office also sued the City of Portland for the Portland Police Bureau's excessive use of force against the mentally ill, following a federal report detailing the problem. The DOJ, city, and police union have employed mediation to try to agree on implimentation, but those talks have come to a standstill. Here's a few photos from the City Club event.
July 19, 2013
How will Oregon be affected by climate change as global temperatures rise and glaciers melt around the world? That's the question that Willamette Water 2100 — a team of scientists and economists from Oregon State University, Portland State University, and the University of Oregon — is trying to answer. With near consensus in the scientific community that global warming is occurring, these researchers are looking at how to get the Willamette Valley prepared. Residents of the Willamette Valley can expect a lack of water as one of the primary results of climate change. Oregon's glaciers are shrinking, meaning less water will be stored in the mountains over the summer, which could lead to droughts. Combined with a growing population, the Willamette Valley will have to come up with some strategies for how to maintain fair access to a dwindling resource.
Feb. 14, 2012
Woodburn may be best known to many as the home of Woodburn Company Stores — an popular outlet mall — or possibly the Wooden Shoe Tulip Fest that happens every spring, but the town is so much more. Woodburn epitomizes the stories of immigration and growth that hit the headlines regularly. The population of Woodburn consists largely of Latinos, primarily from Mexico — people who came north to work on the farms, settled, and are now raising families, starting businesses, and supporting other friends and family members back home. There's also a considerable community of Orthodox Russians — largely Old Believers — that live in the countryside on the outskirts of town. Their main strip, Bethlehem Avenue, consists of three churches that pop out from amidst the fields. Many of their kids go to public school, but the group remains socially isolated. And finally there are the over 1500 homes for seniors that nestle around a golf course just east of I-5. Many of these people are not originally from Woodburn. They, too, seem to remain somewhat isolated. The town is dealing with issues of growth and change. How should the downtown properly reflect the community? How should the schools manage with an increasing number of kids? Where should farm workers live? What should be done about gangs and decrepit buildings? Are the Woodburn Company Stores the key to economic success or just an annoyance for people trying to get into town? In this program we'll explore the community of Woodburn. Have you visited, or do you live in Woodburn? What do you think makes the town unique? What do we need to know about Woodburn?
April 13, 2012
If you're looking ahead to the May 15th Primary, you might want to pay particular attention to the Attorney General's race. Two Democrats (and no Republicans) are battling it out — and that means one of them will win the office this May. The candidates are Dwight Holton and Ellen Rosenblum. Dwight Holton spent the last two years as the U.S. Attorney for Oregon. He stepped down in order to run for A.G. of Oregon. Previously he worked as a federal prosecutor. Holton grew up in Virginia where his father was the governor from 1970 to 1974. He was educated on the east coast but his website says this about his Oregon career: [He] has appeared in court over 1000 times, successfully prosecuting gangs, drug trafﬁckers and terrorists. He stood up for consumers by attacking mortgage and ﬁnancial fraud, put corporate polluters in prison and defended Oregonians’ civil rights. Ellen Rosenblum has practiced law for 14 years. She's worked as a federal prosecutor as well as an appellate and trial judge. She graduated from law school at the University of Oregon and began her practice at a small firm in Eugene. According to her website: [She] served as a judge on the Oregon Court of Appeals from 2005-2011. During her time as a judge she presided over thousands of cases involving Oregon citizens—from small claims to more serious crimes.
April 24, 2012
North Williams Avenue in Portland has become a controversial street in the last few months. Currently, on the one way street, there are two lanes for cars plus a bike lane, but the bike lane often overflows as cyclists leave downtown at rush hour. The Portland Bureau of Transportation planned on transforming one of the two car lanes into a wider bike lane, but the project has been delayed. That's because some in the historically African-American neighborhood felt that the project didn't adequately address important issues like gentrification, equity and race. Entrepreneur Sam Thompson said in a recent Skanner article, "…bike lanes will get $600 million over the next 20 years, but there is half a million for gang outreach for the next two years." While it's difficult to draw conclusions by comparing the sizes of unrelated budgets and wish lists, Thompson's comments reflect a perception in some quarters that the City of Portland is more concerned with increasing bicycling than it is with helping minorities. Some, like the Community Cycling Center, say that these two things need not be mutually exclusive, but the perception remains that proportionately more whites ride bicycles than minorities. Data from a national study (pdf) backs this up, though the disparity has been shrinking.
July 21, 2011
Alexander English is a 23 year-old African American who lives in North Portland. According to witnesses he was on the porch of his home, arguing with some people in a dark blue sedan, when shots were fired from the car. English was hit multiple times. He was taken to the hospital in critical condition and is expected to survive. This was on Tuesday morning. It was the fourth third suspected gang-related shooting in less than a week in Portland. Police believe the four are not connected. Portland Mayor Sam Adams expressed his sadness over the shootings when he was on our show on Tuesday morning. He described the work of the gang task force in trying to prevent this kind of violence and said that people need to report suspected gang activity.
June 8, 2011
It's pretty unusual for police departments to name specific gang affiliations when they release details about gang-related acts of violence. Some law enforcement insiders say that naming a gang can glorify its members or instigate additional violence from rival gangs, like a scorecard or badge of honor. A report was distributed earlier this month at Portland's Gang Violence Task Force. The report, released at the request of the mayor's office, contained details about suspected gang-related incidents, including alleged gang affiliations. Among those in attendance at the public meeting were members of the media. The report went public. Portland police say there is no change in policy and they will not distribute a list of gang affiliations to the public in the future.
July 29, 2011
Delegates, lobbyists, reporters, and party officials have amassed in Tampa for the start of the 2012 Republican National Convention (RNC), but they're all going to have to wait just a bit for most of the action to begin. The Convention officially opens Monday at 2PM Eastern Time, but Tropical Storm Issac forced organizers to immediately adjourn that day's session. The major speeches and other official programming will wait until tomorrow. Update Aug 27, 2012 2:00 pm: Here's the entirety of the blink-and-you'll-miss-it first day of the Republican National Convention: But one of the central dramas of this convention was already apparent in two of last night's kickoff parties. The official welcome event was a party for 20,000 or so assembled delegates, friends, and hangers-on at Tropicana Field in nearby St. Petersburg. Guests enjoyed a Cajun buffet and open bar as they walked around the expansive domed field where the Tampa Bay Devil Rays play their baseball games. Meanwhile, across town, Ron Paul supporters gathered at Whiskey Joe's Bar and Grill for Ron Paul's Liberty Rocks Beach Party. We'll hear from people who attended both parties about what they're hoping to see happen at the RNC this week.
Aug. 27, 2012
Every week we gather a few local commentators to talk about some of the stories of the week — from the arts to sports to politics and more. Our guests tell us what they're thinking about and we ignite the conversation. The idea is to get a casual, but thoughtful, conversation going about the events and subjects that are being discussed in the cubicles, kitchens, and coffee shops of our region. This week we'll discuss the upcoming London Olympics, a Portland-themed restaurant opening in Canada, the effect of the Aurora shooting on the movie business.
July 27, 2012
The mayor's office and four city council seats are on the May ballot in Eugene. Eugene's next city government will tackle economic issues such as development and logistical ones, like literally rebuilding the city hall. Kitty Piercy faces two challengers as she seeks a third term as mayor. She says she wants another four years to continue work on projects such as Envision Eugene, a plan for long-term growth in the city of 156,185. She's raised significantly more money than either of her challengers. Kevin Prociw currently works as a systems analyst for the City of Eugene, a job he'll have to give up if he's elected as mayor. He got into politics in 2010 when he started a government watchdog group called Lane County Citizens for Responsible Government. Jon Walrod is self-employed selling security systems. Like Prociw, he's never held elected office. His campaign does not have a website explaining his platform, but he's made public appearances with his opponents, where he's identified himself as conservative and emphasized running government like a private business. Incumbant Ward 2 councilor Betty Taylor is seeking a fifth term in office. At 86, Taylor isn't looking to retire from public life any time soon. She's garnered support from unions and an endorsement from the city's alternative weekly newspaper. She voted against ending Eugene's Occupy encampment in December of last year and she's adamently against tax breaks for the controversial Capstone development project. Taylor does not have a campaign website. Her opponents are Juan Carlos Valle, a Social Security Administration employee, and Jim Ray, who is semi-retired from his job as a restaurant equipment repairman. At last count, Valle's campaign had raised more than either of the others. He also got an endorsement from the Register-Guard. Valle is at odds with his opponents over the Capstone tax breaks, which he says could offer the city a significant economic opportunity. Ray says his top priorities are improving eduction and reducing gang activity in Eugene. Three other city councilors are running unopposed.
May 9, 2012
Portland police plan to ramp up efforts to prevent gang violence this summer. Gang violence in Portland is already higher than usual this year, and officials are worried that gang activity will increase during the summer months, when kids are out of school. Last year around this time, we covered an uptick in gang-related shootings. The Portland Police Bureau will pull officers from three divisions: Drug and Vice, Training, and Family Services, which responds to domestic violence incidents. The U.S. Attorney has reassigned three more prosecutors to deal with gang-related gun possessions (there is currently only one prosecutor).
June 19, 2012
Portland City Council will vote on an emergency ordinance (pdf) Wednesday that, if passed, will allow police to use video surveillance cameras on private property. The ordinance has been contested since early May over concerns that it oversteps privacy boundaries. Portland police say the new surveillance will help in the arrest and prosecution of drug dealers and gang members in Old Town/Chinatown. But opponents of the measure say the new surveillance invades privacy rights, and that the language of the ordinance is vague and gives police too much surveillance power — this is despite an effort by the Police Bureau to draft guidelines for how the camera would be used. Here's some photos from the neighborhood where video surveillance may be used: Slideshow photography credit: Luis Giraldo/OPB
June 6, 2012
A day in the life of 20 year-old Jacob, and some of his friends, looks like this: 6:30 a.m. Wake-up, eat breakfast 8:00 a.m Attend school or do work 2:00 p.m. School day ends, go to treatment group or study 5:00 p.m. Eat dinner 5:45 p.m. Enjoy recreational activities like football, soccer, or (in the summer) swimming 9:45 p.m. Lights out Seems like a pretty usual day, but Jacob is not really a usual kid. When he was 15 he got in a drunk driving accident, in which his girlfriend and his best friend were killed. Now he's one of about 25 youth living in a dorm at Hillcrest Youth Correctional Facility. He, and all of his dorm mates, are serving mandatory minimum sentences for violent crimes such as murder, rape, arson, robbery, and gang activity. During this show we go behind the gates of Hillcrest. There are about 150 inmates at Hillcrest — all of whom are male and between the ages of 12 and 25, and all of whom committed their crimes before age 18. About half of the boys at Hillcrest transition to other Oregon Youth Authority facilities around the state, but the guys in Jacob's unit are there for the long-term, usually more than five years. During their time at Hillcrest, youth are required to enroll in classroom or vocational programs. Once they graduate from high school some can go on to college courses. One such course is called Inside-Out. You may have heard about this from a program we did late last year. (Or you may have read this recent editorial in The Oregonian.) College students from Oregon State University spend one night a week, for about three months, studying with students at Hillcrest.
June 8, 2012
Jan. 10, 7:25am Update: There has been another shooting in NE Portland. Police say they have not found any shooting victims. There was also a fatal shooting at a convenience store in the Eastern Oregon city of Hermiston. Jan. 9, 5:55pm Update: The most recent shooting occurred in the 15800 block of SE Martin St. where a man crashed a car police say was stolen before running into a nearby home. Shots were fired at officers from within the home, but no one was injured by gunfire. Jan. 9, 3:45pm Update: There has been another shooting. We will post more information as we find out more. Portland Police responded to five shootings in the past couple of days. The first four occurred on Sunday, and a fifth was reported early Monday morning. No one was hurt, but vehicles and at least one home were hit by gunfire. It's unclear how these incidents are connected. Police are saying that the first four shootings may have been gang-related. After a string of shootings back in June, police increased gang enforcement. How has that played out?
Jan. 10, 2012
Rob Ingram is a successful, well-respected professional who works for the city of Portland. But a couple of decades ago, that career would have seemed completely unattainable. He says until his mid-20's he might as well have been a member of a gang. His brother and friends were, and he did many of the same things they did. He's been stabbed, shot, and arrested. He buried eight close friends and family members. His life-changing epiphany came after his brother was sentenced to 60 years in prison. He ultimately decided there must have been a reason that he was still alive and free, and that he had a responsibility to give back. And that's what he's been doing since the early 1990s. He now heads the Office of Youth Violence Prevention at the City of Portland. And he informally mentors kids who call him "Uncle Rob." About every other week he convenes a meeting with all the various agencies and organizations the city works with to address gang violence. There are community organizations like Brother's & Sister's Keepers, the Gang Enforcement Team and a youth gang police task force that's just been reinstated.
Oct. 22, 2010
Portland Mayor Sam Adams is proposing five new laws (PDF) aimed at curbing gun violence by keeping firearms out of the hands of criminals and minors. The proposals come on the heels of a violent August, when at least nine gang-related shootings were reported in a three-day period. Some advocacy organizations, like Ceasefire Oregon, applaud the Mayor's efforts. But others, like the Oregon Firearms Federation, claim the laws would negatively impact responsible gun owners and fail to address the root causes of gun violence.
Sept. 3, 2010
Former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is viewed by some people as a prominent voice in the Tea Party movement, but this Friday she's coming to Eugene as a guest of the Lane County Republican Party. In Oregon, the GOP and the Tea Party seem to be on relatively amicable terms. This could be because the Tea Party hasn't endorsed any candidates here, as they have in other states, such as Florida, where they've been accused of dividing conservatives. The Tea Party is a grassroots political movement that started in early 2009 with some coordinated protests against the bank bailouts. The group identifies as nonpartisan, but a recent poll shows their members lean pretty decisively to the right.
April 22, 2010
Vancouver, Washington and Caldwell, Idaho have a great many differences. One is an urban center north of densely populated Portland. The other a fairly small city in a relatively rural area. But in both places, people have been grappling with gang-related violence. In Caldwell, the sergeant in charge of street crimes says it couldn't have gotten much worse than in the summer of 2004 when he says there were 130 shootings in one month. He says some people were sleeping in their bathtubs because they were afraid of the drive-by shootings. Seven years later — with considerable help from the federal government — the problem has been contained, but he says he does not see a time when gangs will not be a problem. Vancouver has its share of gang activity — including one recent case that's still unsolved. And we'll also check in on how effective some of Portland's efforts have been in reducing gang violence.
April 12, 2011
When faked memoirs have burned us over and over, why do we keep coming back for more?
March 7, 2008
A murder indictment in Eugene, a near-death in Yamhill County, and a shootout, stabbing, and surge of graffiti in the Keizer-Salem area have law enforcement officials concerned about a rise in gang activity around the state.While the Crips and Bloods dominated Oregon's gang scene in the 1990s, a group from Central America known as Mara Salvatrucha, or MS-13, has more recently moved in. Both followed the traditional gang route into the Northwest: driving up I-5.
March 3, 2008
In eight years as pastor of Emmanuel Temple Church in Portland, Bishop C.T. Wells estimates he has eulogized "dozens" of young victims of gang violence. But he says the most recent funeral he led, for 18-year-old Borisshell Washington, was "particularly bad." Borisshell was a senior at Jefferson High School who was killed by gang gunfire in late May. Wells says a pervasive gang culture "expressed in music, the drug trade and in the manipulation of women" has gotten a foothold in Oregon's most populous city. Last year, according to police, gang violence spiked by nearly 70 percent in Portland.
June 15, 2009
Oregon is one of two states that does not require unanimous juries for all criminal offenses. Should it stay that way?
July 22, 2008