Portland Business News

OLCC asks for cannabis vaping product 'review'
Author: Pete Danko
Oregon cannabis regulators are calling on retailers “to review the vape cartridges and vaping devices available for consumer sale” in the wake of the outbreak of lung ailments associated with e-cigarette use. It’s one of three voluntary steps the Oregon Liquor Control Commission asked licensees to take, outlined in a letter Thursday from Steve Marks, the agency’s executive director. Nationwide, some 450 people have been sickened in the outbreak, according to a Centers for Disease Control…

NYT Politics

Marathon Democratic Debate Includes No Questions About Women’s Issues
Author: Nick Corasaniti and Matt Stevens
The candidates were asked about a wide range of topics over three hours, but abortion and the gender pay gap never came up.
Biden Was Asked About Segregation. His Answer Included a Record Player.
Author: Stephanie Saul
The former vice president’s solution for inequality in schools touched on giving teachers a raise and playing a record player at night so children could hear more words.

Columbian Newspaper

Camas soccer honors Alicea De Vera before win
Author: Micah Rice

CAMAS – The Camas girls soccer team wore its heart on its sleeve Thursday.

During its 7-0 win over Reynolds High of Troutdale, Ore., the team’s heart was with the De Vera family.

The Papermakers wore black armbands to honor Alicea De Vera, who died Monday due to complications from brain cancer.

The De Vera family’s ties to the Camas soccer program, and the community in general, are deep.

Alicea, who graduated from Camas High in June, was often on the sidelines at Doc Harris Stadium as a cheerleader.

Three of Alicea’s four older siblings played soccer for Camas. All went on to play collegiately.

Niko De Vera helped the Papermakers to a perfect season and the Class 3A state title in 2011, scoring 13 goals as a freshman. He went on to play four years at Akron University and is now pursuing a pro soccer career with T2 in the Portland Timbers organization.

Anyssa De Vera helped Camas place third in the 4A state tournament in 2015 before playing at Grand Canyon University. Kaeliana De Vera played for Eastern Oregon from 2012-14.

The De Vera family, including parents Arnel and Danita, were at Doc Harris Stadium on Thursday, including for a pregame moment of silence. Camas players stood solemnly, some wiping away tears.

“It shows how each person can really leave their mark here,” Niko De Vera said. “Alicea never played soccer, but it just shows how good Camas is as a school and a community. It’s not just one specific sport, but as a whole how they all support each other.”

Niko De Vera said the support of the community and the soccer program has been vital to the family.

“At one point I had to turn my phone off because it was overheating, so many people were reaching out,” he said. “It’s amazing how many people care and had positive things to say about her.”

Alicea De Vera was supposed to be a freshman at Boise State this fall. But life threw her a curveball when she was diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer this summer. She began daily radiation and chemotherapy on Aug. 28.

To lift her spirits, De Vera’s parents drove Alicia to Boise last weekend to pay a surprise visit to some of her friends. But Sunday, during the drive home, Alicea suffered a brain hemorrhage. She was life-flighted to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver, where she died on Monday.

A GoFundMe account has been established to aid the De Vera Family. By Thursday evening, it had raised more than $22,000.

“If you knew her and got to talk to her, she never complained about one thing,” Niko De Vera said. “When she was sick, nothing was ever a complaint. Until the day she passed, out of everyone in my family, she had the most faith through it all. She was a very positive spirit.”

And Alicea’s spirit was there at Doc Harris Stadium on Thursday.

“Whenever you walked into a room with her, you would feel something you couldn’t explain,” Anyssa De Vera said. “She had something special.”

Camas improved to 2-0 with the win. Kiya Gramps had a hat trick and Jasmine Whittington added two goals as the Papermakers scored five times in the second half.

Biden parries attacks from rivals in fiery Democratic debate
Author: BILL BARROW and STEVE PEOPLES, Associated Press

HOUSTON — Joe Biden parried attack after attack from liberal rivals Thursday night on everything from health care to immigration in a debate that showcased profound ideological divides between the Democratic Party’s moderate and progressive wings.

The prime-time debate also elevated several struggling candidates, giving them a chance to introduce themselves to millions of Americans who are just beginning to follow the race.

Biden dominated significant parts of the evening, responding strongly when the liberal senators who are his closest rivals — Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren — assailed him and his policies.

Unlike prior debates, where Biden struggled for words and seemed surprised by criticism from fellow Democrats, he largely delivered crisp, aggressive responses. He called Sanders “a socialist,” a label that could remind voters of the senator’s embrace of democratic socialism. And Biden slapped at Elizabeth Warren’s proposed wealth tax.

A two-term vice president under Barack Obama, Biden unequivocally defended his former boss, who came under criticism from some candidates for deporting immigrants and not going far enough on health care reform.

“I stand with Barack Obama all eight years, good bad and indifferent,” Biden declared.

His vulnerabilities surfaced, however, in the final minutes of the debate, when he was pressed on a decades-old statement regarding school integration. Biden rambled in talking about his support of teachers, the lack of resources for educators and at one point seemed to encourage parents to play records for their children to expand their vocabulary before segueing into talk of Latin America.

“That’s quite a lot,” quipped Julian Castro, the former Housing secretary who was Biden’s frequent foe during the debate.

The candidates debated with polls showing a strong majority of voters believe the country is headed in the wrong direction under the first-term president’s leadership. But nine months into their nomination fight, divided Democrats have yet to answer fundamental questions about who or what the party stands for beyond simply opposing Trump.

The party’s 2020 class, once featuring two dozen candidates, has essentially been cut in half by party rules requiring higher polling and fund-raising standards. Just 10 candidates qualified for Thursday’s affair, though more than that have qualified for next month’s round.

Those in the second tier, after Biden, Warren and Sanders, are under increasing pressure to break out of the pack. They all assailed Trump.

New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker called Trump a racist. Former Texas Rep. Beto O’Rourke called him a white supremacist. And Kamala Harris, a California senator, said Trump’s hateful social media messages provided “the ammunition” for recent mass shootings.

“President Trump, you have spent the last two-and-a-half years full time trying to sow hate and vision among us, and that’s why we’ve gotten nothing done,” Harris charged.

In addition to Trump, Biden’s rivals also turned against Obama’s legacy at times as they sought to undermine the former vice president’s experience.

Sanders insisted that Biden bears responsibility for millions of Americans going bankrupt under the “Obamacare” health care system. Castro raised questions about the Obama-Biden record on immigration, particularly the number of deportations that took place.

Castro, a 44-year-old Texan, appeared to touch on concerns about Biden’s age when he accused the former vice president of forgetting a detail about his own health care plan. At 76, Biden would be the oldest president ever elected to a first term.

“Are you forgetting what you said two minutes ago?” an incredulous Castro asked, challenging Biden on health care. “I can’t believe that you said two minutes ago that you have to buy in and now you’re forgetting that.”

He added: “I’m fulfilling the legacy of Barack Obama and you’re not.”

The ABC News debate was the first limited to one night after several candidates dropped out and others failed to meet new qualification standards. A handful more candidates qualified for next month’s debate, which will again be divided over two nights.

As well as policy differences, the Democratic debates have been shaped by broader questions about diversity.

In a nod to the diverse coalition they need to defeat Trump, the Democrats held this debate on the campus of historically black Texas Southern University. It unfolded in a rapidly changing state that Democrats hope to eventually bring into their column.

The party cheered when America elected the most diverse congressional class in history in last fall’s midterm voting. But some Democrats still fear that anyone other than a white man may struggle in a head-to-head matchup against Trump.

Biden was one of four white men onstage.

Along with health care, gun violence emerged as a flashpoint Thursday night in a state shaken by a mass shooting last month that left 22 people dead and two dozen more wounded.

O’Rourke noted that there weren’t enough ambulances at times to take all the wounded to the hospital.

“Hell yes, we’re gonna take your AR-15, your AK-47,” he said, as the crowd cheered.

Minnesota Sen. Amy Klobuchar noted that all the candidates on stage favor a ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines. She favors a voluntary buy-back program on assault weapons, however.

The national economy got surprisingly little attention, though several of the candidates criticized Trump on foreign trade and his trade war with China.

South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg said Trump had said scornfully of his candidacy “he’d like to see me making a deal with Xi Jinping,” the Chinese president.

“I’d like to see HIM making a deal with Xi Jinping.”

Trump was silent on social media during the event. But Kayleigh McEnany, his campaign’s national press secretary, said in a statement: “Thank you to ABC and the Democrat Party for another infomercial for President Trump!”

Earlier in the day, Trump said he’d likely have to watch a re-run because of travel conflict. He predicted the Democratic nominee would ultimately be Biden, Warren or Sanders.

Peoples reported from Washington. AP writer Colleen Long contributed to this report.

Bahamas tackling massive cleanup
Author: DÁNICA COTO, Associated Press

HIGH ROCK, Bahamas — Pastor Jeremiah Saunders stood in the golden afternoon sun and barely blinked as he debated what to pick out from the ruins of the church he built 22 years ago in the seaside village of High Rock on the eastern end of Grand Bahama island.

A black-and-blue necktie floated in a pool of water. Nearby, a ruptured set of drums lay toppled on its side. Bone-white sea shells were nestled in tufts of grass, flung there by the surging floodwaters that had carried Saunders for 200 yards until he managed to grab hold of a large pine tree branch, where he spent two days after Hurricane Dorian crashed ashore.

“I spoke to the water: ‘Peace, be still.’ It never listened,” he said with a wide smile. But then he grew serious as he focused on the daunting cleanup facing the tens of thousands who live on Grand Bahama and Abaco, the two northern islands that were devastated by the Category 5 storm.

It will be a slow process that some are tackling in very small steps. Saunders picked out two hammers, five screwdrivers and three treasured Bibles.

In contrast, 67-year-old Mary Glinton in the nearby fishing village of McLean’s Town wasted no time getting rid of all her ruined possessions. She created three piles of clothes stiffened by mud and set them on fire. A once-white lace curtain, a muddied pink wind-breaker and a pair of black pants all went into the flames. She most lamented that all her church clothes were ruined.

“I love blue, and most of my dresses are blue,” she said standing near the fire in green flip-flops, her legs caked with mud. She also mourned the loss of her 1-year-old pet hog, Princess.

A preliminary report estimates Dorian caused some $7 billion in damage, but the government has not yet offered any figures. Crews have started to remove some debris on the islands, but they are moving slowly to avoid accidentally disturbing any bodies lying in the rubble. The official death toll stands at 50, and Prime Minister Hubert Minnis said he expects the number to significantly increase.

About 2,500 people are listed as missing in the hurricane’s aftermath, although the government has cautioned that it still needs to check names against the rosters of people evacuated from the devastated islands or staying in shelters.

On Thursday, a cluster of heavy thunderstorms heading to the Bahamas threatened to further drench those trying to salvage belongings or living in tents in hard-hit communities. Meteorologists in the archipelago said they might issue a tropical storm advisory as the storm approaches, warning that the northwest Bahamas would once again be affected the most.

USAID officials, meanwhile, said they would distribute plastic sheeting ahead of the storm.

As the cleanup continued, the first hints of normalcy could be seen in Freeport, a city on Grand Bahama that is operated by a private company, which provides utilities and charges residents without any government involvement. Lights began to flicker on in some neighborhoods, and crews were seen repairing transformers in other areas.

But the small villages that dot the eastern coast of Grand Bahama have barely received any help. Some residents have been hitchhiking daily from Freeport to their destroyed homes to sort through their belongings and clean up.

Public records advocate’s resignation stings Brown
Author: ANDREW SELSKY, Associated Press

SALEM, Ore. — Oregon Gov. Kate Brown came to office pledging greater government transparency, and in 2017 pushed the Legislature to create a first-ever public records advocate.

Now, the abrupt resignation of advocate Ginger McCall, who accused Brown’s general counsel of undue influence and unethical behavior, has blown up into a debacle for the governor.

It has raised doubts about whether the Democrat is serious about government transparency, given ammunition to minority Republicans in the Legislature, and led to demands that she rescind her appointment of general counsel Misha Isaak to the state Court of Appeals.

Before her official departure on Oct. 11, McCall had a “friendly but brief” meeting Wednesday with Brown. A representative from a Washington, D.C.-based group that seeks to expose abuse of power and protect whistleblowers listened on speakerphone at McCall’s request, she said.

In a draft memo obtained through a public records request, McCall urged her successors to “zealously defend the independence of this office.”

Isaak had allegedly tried to make McCall a cheerleader for the governor, while insisting she keep that secret from the public and the Public Records Advisory Council that she chairs.

He and another Brown staffer had also admonished McCall for seeking to ensure funding for her office and for publishing a report, without their vetting, that underscored obstacles to fulfilling public records requests, including a lack of standard fees and the existence of more than 550 exemptions.

McCall’s resignation announcement on Monday exposed the tensions.

She told Brown in a letter: “If the Advocate were to represent the interests of an elected official while allowing the Council and the public to believe that she is acting independently, that would be both unethical and particularly inappropriate for an office that was founded to promote transparency.”

The governor’s office then sent contradictory messages in response.

Chris Pair, Brown’s communications director, quickly issued a statement calling McCall’s allegations “untrue.”

But McCall then produced memos showing Isaak had wrongly insisted he was her boss and told her she was uninformed and should be less ambitious.

After McCall released the documents, Brown issued a statement Monday night saying she was surprised by the allegations, which she did not dispute, and blamed her staff.

“It appears this is a situation where staff were conflicted between the goals of serving the governor and promoting the cause of transparency,” the governor said.

“It’s regrettable that Ms. McCall did not reach out to the governor to share her thoughts and concerns,” added Kate Kondayen, a Brown spokeswoman.

Lack of direct access

Wednesday marked only the second time Brown and McCall had met, other than casual encounters, since she started the job in 2018, McCall said. A job interview that included Brown had been done on Skype. McCall previously lived in Washington, D.C., where she worked on Freedom of Information Act requests for the federal government and a private group.

In an interview with a reporter in her small office Wednesday, located just five blocks from the governor’s office in the Oregon state Capitol, McCall said she felt she had no direct access to Brown. McCall said she didn’t even have Brown’s email address to send her resignation and wound up searching for it on Google.

Isaak had been present in McCall’s only other in-person meeting with Brown, and she said she felt he was an impediment to her confiding in the governor.

“The idea of sitting in a room, demanding an in-person one-on-one-meeting (with the governor), and then saying something about this conflict with her general counsel, who is hired to represent her interests, that did not seem like a viable idea,” McCall said.

Isaak did not immediately respond to a request for comment Thursday.

The Public Records Advisory Council, or PRAC, meets today to consider the circumstances of McCall’s resignation and proposals to ensure independence for the advocate.

“The council’s duty is to the citizens of Oregon to provide for transparent government. PRAC needs to speak forcefully to that duty,” tweeted council member Les Zaitz, publisher and editor of the Malheur Enterprise.

He urged Brown to “participate in some fashion.”

Meals on Wheels bookkeeper gets 3 years in prison
Author: Thomas Clouse, The Spokesman-Review

SPOKANE — A federal judge on Thursday sentenced a former Greater Spokane County Meals on Wheels bookkeeper to three years in federal prison, which was more prison time than prosecutors had sought.

U.S. District Court Judge Robert Whaley sentenced Michelle “Susan” Ferrell, 59, of Spokane Valley, to the prison term after she was caught funneling organization funds to her own account to help pay for Spokane Valley property that she and her husband planned to sell to fund their retirement in Hawaii.

“You didn’t take money from a large corporation,” Whaley told Ferrell. “You took from an organization that does a great public service.”

Greater Spokane County Meals on Wheels is separate from and serves different clients than Meals on Wheels Spokane.

As part of her job as a bookkeeper, Ferrell had access to the county organization’s bank accounts, debit cards and payroll system. However, she used her access to those accounts to funnel Meals on Wheels money for her own personal expenses, including mortgage, utility and property tax payments, according to court records.

Ferrell also failed to properly file tax returns for the organization and falsified internal accounting records to reflect that the organization had paid the full amount. As soon as organizational leaders learned of her deception, they learned that it owned $120,000 to the Internal Revenue Service for unpaid taxes.

“I would like to offer my sincere apology to Meals on Wheels, the staff and the community in general,” Ferrell said in court. “I know what I did was wrong.”

She and her husband, Jim Ferrell, have already paid about $100,000 in restitution and have the remaining funds held in trust until the IRS and Greater Spokane County Meals on Wheels can negotiate over the remaining tax bills.

“We all felt the quicker we could get the money back in their pockets, the better,” Ferrell said. “I hope that showed that I am taking responsibility. I do understand the anger that victims feel. I’m just so sorry that I caused that pain.”

But that hurt was evident in the voices of five people who testified about how the organization struggled to keep their bills paid as they pored over books to figure out the complex way that Ferrell had stolen the funds.

The organization’s executive director, Marta Harrington, cried as she tried to tell Whaley the wide-ranging damage that Ferrell’s fraud caused.

At one point, Ferrell made it known that she was suffering from brain cancer and was undergoing chemotherapy. One of the organization’s volunteers cared for Ferrell, who faked the illness, even though the volunteer’s husband was also dying from cancer.

“The biggest damage Susan Ferrell caused is beyond what we are here for today,” Harrington said. “One individual can take down 45 years of volunteering and trust. The impact on so many lives doesn’t have a price tag.”

The organization struggled to secure enough donations to make sure elderly recipients got at least one nutritious meal. In many cases, that represented the only meal their clients received each day.

After Ferrell’s deception, the organization struggled to receive enough donations, Assistant U.S. Attorney Dan Fruchter said.

Ferrell previously embezzled money from two prior employers. She modified her name and used an altered Social Security number when she applied to do that same job at the charity organization to hide her misdeeds, Fruchter said.

Elephant hunts return to Botswana; 158 animals to be killed this year
Author: Antony Sguazzin, Bloomberg

Botswana is reintroducing elephant hunts and is likely to sell licenses to kill the animals at a discount to its neighbors. That could further inflame the controversy that’s threatening a $2 billion tourism industry after a five-year ban on hunting was lifted.

The government will auction licenses to hunting operators for the right to shoot an elephant but is yet to decide on the minimum price it will set, said Kitso Mokaila, the country’s environment minister. Botswana will allow the killing of 158 elephants in trophy hunts this year.

An additional administrative fee of 20,000 pula ($1,834) for each of 72 elephant hunting licenses designated for foreigners has already been agreed on, according to government documents seen by Bloomberg. In neighboring Zimbabwe, the right to shoot an elephant costs at least $21,000.

Botswana has the world’s largest elephant population, with about 130,000 of the animals roaming free nationwide. A growing number of incidents between farmers and elephants, which at times destroy crops and trample villagers to death, prompted the government to lift a hunting ban on wildlife in May. While hunting won’t meaningfully reduce the size of the population, income from the sport can benefit local communities.

Conservationists worldwide have opposed the plan, warning that tourists may go elsewhere.

“It’s a very reasonable price,” said Dries van Coller, president of the Professional Hunters Association in South Africa. “They would rather proceed with caution, and see how it goes.”

GOP rejects cuts to wall funding, Democrats threaten filibuster
Author: ANDREW TAYLOR, Associated Press

WASHINGTON — A Republican-controlled Senate committee on Thursday rejected Democratic attempts to cut President Donald Trump’s latest border wall request and prevent him from again funding the project without congressional approval. Democrats threatened to filibuster a Pentagon spending bill.

The Senate Appropriations Committee lined up behind Trump in party-line votes giving preliminary, tentative approval to Trump’s latest $5 billion wall request and blocking a Democratic attempt to prevent Trump from transferring additional Pentagon funds to build the border barrier. The votes came as the panel approved an almost $700 billion funding bill for the Defense Department.

The votes came amid tensions on the committee, which is responsible for $1.4 trillion worth of agency funding bills reacquired to fill in the details of this summer’s budget and debt deal. That deal reversed cuts that were aimed at the Pentagon and domestic programs, while increasing the government’s borrowing cap so it would not default on its payments and Treasury notes.

The committee chairman, Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala., had hoped to approve two other bills, a $55 billion foreign aid measure and a $178 billion health and education funding measure that’s the largest domestic spending bill.

But Republicans stood to lose abortion-related votes that would have aligned those measures with companion bills passed by the Democratic-controlled House, so Shelby postponed the votes.

Democrats complained that Shelby, following the lead of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., was shortchanging the popular health and education measure to fund Trump’s $5 billion request for his border wall.

They also were furious about Trump’s moves to raid $3.6 billion in military base construction projects to pay for 11 additional border fence segments totaling 175 miles in Texas, New Mexico and Arizona.

Republicans on the panel such as Roy Blunt of Missouri, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska are poised to again join Democrats in a separate effort to reverse Trump’s $3.6 billion maneuver, but Trump can simply veto the measure.

But Republicans voted down proposals by the committee’s top Democrat, Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont, to block Trump from repeating the maneuver in the future. They also defeated a Democratic proposal to shift $3.6 billion from Trump’s latest border wall request — he’s asked for $5 billion more — to other domestic accounts.

Those moves led Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., to threaten a Democratic filibuster unless Republicans offer concessions now on the wall money.

“What happens in the next few days and weeks will determine whether we can proceed with a bipartisan appropriations process this fall or not,” Schumer said.

Despite some tensions on the committee, both sides said they would work to keep the bills on track. McConnell promised the end results will be fair.

“In the end, the Democratic majority in the House should be able to protect what your priorities are,” McConnell said, addressing the Democratic side of the committee.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., criticized the Senate developments, as well as Trump’s recent moves to raid military construction projects for schools and day care centers, to pay for the border fence.