Whispers: Loretta Smith shows up for Congress


LORETTA SMITH RUN FOR CONGRESS: No one knows where Oregon’s new Sixth Congressional District will be, but we already know the first candidate to run for the seat. Former Multnomah County Commissioner Loretta Smith, former employee of U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Announced on June 22 that she was in attendance. “I am running for Congress,” Smith said in a statement, “to break down barriers to move ahead of us and build pathways to equal opportunity for all. Smith was second behind Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty and Commissioner Dan Ryan in two recent offers for Portland City Council.It is unusual for a candidate to run for Congress without knowing where the district will be, but federal law does not require members of the House of Representatives to United States live in their district. (The Washington Post reported in 2017 that 21 House members were registered to vote outside their districts.) “She has a long history of working in the community and region.”

OFFSET IN VACCINATION RATES AMONG VULNERABLE PERSONNEL: Only 62% of staff at long-term care facilities in Oregon have been vaccinated against COVID-19. According to a report released on June 21 by the Oregon Health Authority, rates are lower in the southern and eastern parts of the state. The numbers were better for the Northwestern Oregon healthcare region that includes the Portland metropolitan area on the west coast: 71% of staff and 91% of residents are vaccinated, in May. The numbers are better for residents (statewide, 84% have been vaccinated), but older and more medically vulnerable people are at greater risk of breakthrough cases. Since last week, 22 long-term health care facilities across the state have experienced epidemics. The report notes that the trend follows past influenza vaccination rates: “The influenza vaccination rate has been low among [long-term care] staff and has fallen behind in adoption in other health care settings. Residents and staff became eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine in December and were among the first to be eligible.

THE EXVICTION CLOCK AGAIN AGAIN: In a week’s time, the state’s moratorium on residential evictions expires. On July 1, tenants will be required to pay monthly rent on time. The Oregon legislature granted some leniency to tenants last month, hoping to avoid a wave of evictions. Last week, lawmakers passed House Bill 278, which prevents evictions for nonpayment for an additional 60 days as long as a tenant can prove they’ve applied for rent assistance. The dispersal of these rent assistance dollars has been a hectic process for the state, which relies heavily on community agencies to distribute the money. On June 16, leaders of four local nonprofits gathered for an online forum, where they complained about lawmakers’ refusal to further extend the moratorium on evictions. “There are also a lot of owners who are in difficulty. We understand that, ”said Nkenge Harmon Johnson, President and CEO of the Urban League of Portland. “[The legislature] should give us time to spend the funds. In fact, local governments and their nonprofit partners now face another deadline: 60 days to get their money from homeowners.

THE LEAK PORTLAND GOLF TOURNAMENT: An annual women’s professional golf tournament will not be held at its usual location at a country club in northeast Portland in September, as tournament organizers believe nearby homeless camps have made the club unsafe . Organizers of the Ladies Professional Golf Association Portland Classic, an LPGA Tour tournament, told players on June 20 that the event was being moved from Columbia Edgewater Country Club to another club in West Linn. The Tournament Golf Foundation cited a security risk to nearby homeless camps. The decision to flee Portland came as no complete surprise: Portland’s assistant mayor Sam Adams told WW he met the Tournament Golf Foundation about a month ago and indicated that the LPGA had “expressed concerns about the safety of the surrounding area, the homeless camps and the fact that the camps were in very poor condition.

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