LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: Bill seeking accountability for violence targeting LGBTQ+ Oregonians passes Legislature
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: Bill aimed at helping Santiam Canyon property owners clears Legislature
SALEM CITY GOVERNMENT May. 12
Parks board to weigh in on park usage as permitting resumes in a few weeks
The Salem City Council on Monday voted to have the Parks and Recreation Advisory Board review best practices for parks usage after a controversial event in Riverfront Park on May 1 raised permitting questions. City staff said permits won’t fix those concerns, but the practice should resume at the end of this month.
One week left to drop off ballots for May 18 school board, fire district election
AGENDA: Marion County commissioners meet to approve contracts, extend east Salem patrols
SALEM COURTS May. 11
PHOTOS: Supporters rally as Nearman arraigned on charges stemming from December attack on Oregon Capitol
A lawyer for state Rep. Mike Nearman, R-Independence, appeared in court Monday on the lawmaker's behalf. Nearman faces two criminal misdemeanor charges for opening a door to the Oregon Capitol during a violent December demonstration, allowing protestors inside the building.
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: House bill seeks to pave way for more electric vehicles
SALEM CITY GOVERNMENT May. 6
Salem Budget Committee recommends funding for mobile unit to respond to crisis calls
All members of the committee agreed they want a unit, but are still uncertain where funding will come from. On Wednesday, the budget committee unanimously voted to set aside a quarter of the project’s anticipated costs for the first 16 months.
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: House bill aims to increase diversity on publicly traded corporate boards
AROUND OREGON May. 4
AROUND OREGON: Rep. Bentz slams governor over her increased Covid restrictions
After the governor announced that 15 counties would be moving into the category of "extreme risk" for Covid last Friday, U.S. Rep. Cliff Bentz released a statement criticizing the restrictions, which include a shutdown of indoor dining for eight of the 20 counties he represents. Malheur County is still in "moderate risk," with indoor dining allowed.
State Rep. Mike Nearman says he has Covid, will fight charges linked to Oregon Capitol riot
STATE GOVERNMENT May. 4
Oregon legislative aides move forward with first-of-its kind union
If legislative aides vote to form a collective bargaining unit later this month, it will be the country’s first-ever legislative union. Getting to this point required clearing multiple legal hurdles. Supporters say it’ll create a better working environment for staff, which will improve how the Legislature functions.
OREGON POLITICS May. 4
Oregon delegation sees greater access, clout with addition of sixth representative
The latest Census tally gives Oregon a new Congressional district. Oregon's current representatives say that will give the state added clout in decision-making on matters of national and state import, and also offers constituents one more place to get help.
FreeSALEM COMMUNITY May. 3
Salem leaders say they’re constrained by the Constitution when handling far-right events
A gun rights rally in Riverfront Park Saturday has riled the community as social media reports of intimidation and assault by Proud Boys have circulated. Salem police and city leaders say they need to protect First and Second Amendment rights and no one has pressed charges following Saturday’s event.
STATE GOVERNMENT Apr. 30
State Rep. Mike Nearman faces charges from December attack on Oregon Capitol
Marion County District Attorney Paige Clarkson has charged the Republican lawmaker with official misconduct and criminal trespass for allowing a group of violent demonstrators into the Capitol building in December. The charges come a day before Nearman, who has resisted calls to resign, was scheduled to speak at a rally in Salem.
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: Oregon House passes gun safety bill
AROUND OREGON Apr. 30
AROUND OREGON: Klamath irrigators claim state permit allows them to divert water
Reagan Desmond, general counsel for Klamath Drainage D, said KDD obtained the state permit from the Oregon Water Resources Department in the 1970s as a backup for situations when Reclamation would be unable to satisfy the district’s Project right in full.
SALEM SCHOOLS Apr. 30
POLITICS OF EDUCATION: Your briefing on Salem-Keizer School District races as ballots head out
Candidates responded to written questions from Salem Reporter about why they want to be on the Salem-Keizer School Board and their views on key issues.
SALEM CITY GOVERNMENT Apr. 29
Marion County surveys residents on priorities for housing, development
Marion County is in the process of developing a five-year consolidated plan that will guide federal dollars for housing, community development, and infrastructure. Two surveys and focus groups next week will help inform that process.
SALEM ECONOMY Apr. 28
Legislation seeks to provide Oregon farmers with an alternative to common pesticide
The state of Oregon is phasing out the use of chlorpyrifos, a pesticide that’s come under scrutiny for its toxicity to humans. The pesticide will be banned for most uses by 2023, which could have particular impact to agriculturally rich Marion and Polk counties.
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: Oregon House passes bill allowing over-the-counter sale of some cold medicines
Our Salem zoning subcommittee meets Friday
SALEM CITY GOVERNMENT Apr. 28
Salem City Council approves tax exemption for Broadway apartment complex
The developer will get a $300,000 tax break over a 10-year period for meeting “public benefits,” including adding density in the city’s core. The council approved the exemption despite questions over whether it was justified.
AGENDA: Marion County commissioners meet Wednesday
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: Bill seeking better outcomes between police and transgender people passes house
SALEM CITY GOVERNMENT Apr. 26
Union Street would become pedestrian walkway under Salem city councilor’s proposal
Councilor Virginia Stapleton has proposed closing a portion of Union Street to car traffic on Saturdays so walkers and cyclists can get to the Salem Saturday Market.
STATE GOVERNMENT Apr. 26
AROUND OREGON: Identity thieves using Oregon state employee names for fraudulent unemployment claims
The Oregon Employment Department declined to address the scale of the issue, citing the risk of additional fraud, but some state agencies report a large share of their employees have had false jobless claims submitted under their names.
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: Bill taking aim at anti-competitive pharmaceutical pricing passes Oregon Senate
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: Oregon Senate passes bill targeting 'pink tax'
SCHOOL BOARD ELECTIONS Apr. 22
NAACP calls on school board candidate to end campaign following controversial Facebook comment
Kari Zohner referred to George Floyd, whose murderer was convicted this week, as a criminal in a since-deleted Facebook comment on a post eulogizing Floyd. She has apologized that her "frustration with the divisiveness in our society came out in the wrong way in a Facebook thread."
FreePUBLIC SAFETY Apr. 22
After staffing cuts and increasing call times, fire district again turns to voters
Marion County Fire District 1 is coming to voters with a trimmed-down ask for a tax increase that’ll raise $10 million over the next five years. The district says it's making do with what it has but is approaching a breaking point.
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: Oregon Senate passes 'Domicile Unknown' bill to track homeless deaths
AROUND OREGON Apr. 21
AROUND OREGON: 20% of Oregon State Hospital nurses on leave as staff shortage intensifies: ‘Morale is very low’
The Oregon State Hospital in Salem is now without 20% of its usual nursing staff due to COVID-related leave.
FreePOLICE REFORM Apr. 20
In Salem, Chauvin verdict “a small step in the right direction”
Community members who have pushed for police accountability locally praised Tuesday’s guilty verdict for the Minneapolis police officer who murdered George Floyd last year. But they said one trial doesn’t change the need for continued law enforcement reform or eliminate the fear of racist violence against Black people.
AGENDA: Commissioners to consider fines for parking along Little North Fork
STATE GOVERNMENT Apr. 16
While Legislature takes up police accountability bills, Salem keeps reform efforts local
About a dozen bills intended to improve police training and accountability are moving through the Legislature. The legislation is in response to racial justice protests that swept the country last summer, including in Salem. But Salem officials and activists are instead focused on local efforts to improve community-police relations.
FreeSALEM COMMUNITY Apr. 15
Salem residents call for a crisis response team in city budget
During the Salem Budget Committee meeting Wednesday, there was overwhelming support from community members for a mobile response unit that would pair a crisis worker and medic to respond to people in mental health crisis. Funding for such a program hasn’t been allocated in the city budget.
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: Bill making telehealth permanent passes House
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: Oregon Senate passes bill extending eviction moratorium
FreeSTATE GOVERNMENT Apr. 15
Oregon will get a massive infusion of federal cash. Here's how local lawmakers want it spent
Under the American Rescue Plan and Recovery Act, Oregon is anticipated to get $780 million for new programs and services. Legislative leaders asked lawmakers for ideas on how to spend it. We asked the Marion and Polk counties legislative delegation how they think the money should be directed.
SALEM CITY GOVERNMENT Apr. 14
Salem area officials worry bill to decriminalize homelessness will just lead to more litigation
Proponents of the bill say it will bring Oregon in line with a landmark court ruling limiting how local governments can regulate camping by homeless people. But critics, which include officials in Marion County and the city of Salem, say it will have unintended consequences.
Salem to distribute free PPE to businesses, nonprofits next week
SALEM CITY GOVERNMENT Apr. 13
As Salem begins budget process, strategic plan will help guide priorities
Last month, the Salem City Council adopted a strategic plan which outlines priorities for the next five years. Included are addressing homelessness, creating community resilience, increasing equitable delivery of city services, building great neighborhoods, and taking action on climate change.
AGENDA: Salem City Council to consider speed limit changes
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: House passes bill to give more flexibility with hunting and fishing fees
STATE GOVERNMENT Apr. 9
Salem ahead of legislation that would make it easier to site emergency shelters
A bill being considered by Oregon lawmakers would make it easier to sidestep land use requirements that slow down the creation of shelters for homeless people. Salem has already moved forward with two emergency shelters.
SALEM CITY GOVERNMENT Apr. 9
Salem climate survey finds differing priorities between task force, survey takers
The Climate Action Plan task force met Wednesday to discuss the findings of a March survey in which respondents prioritized repairing sidewalks and preserving green spaces. Task force members prioritized increased bus service, electric vehicles.
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: Budget rebalance sends extra cash to Salem and surrounding areas
Salem Budget Committee meets April 14
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: Bill in Oregon Legislature aims to improve civics education
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: Oregon House passes bill intended to protect distressed homeowners
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: Oregon Senate passes bills to curb human trafficking
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: Oregon Senate passes bill making it a crime to display a noose
LOCAL GOVERNMENT Apr. 2
Keizer city manager to resign after office gun episode
The Keizer City Council reached an agreement for Chris Eppley to leave as he was under investigation for discharging a gun in his office.
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: Empty hotels could become shelters or housing
AGENDA: Marion County Commissioners consider fire sprinkler purchase, child abuse prevention month
Oregon House effectively halts work out of Covid concerns
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: Oregon Senate passes gun safety bill
Wanted: Candidate to hire on as Polk County commissioner
Hundreds of trees planted in Salem last year before winter storm
AGENDA: Commissioners to consider excessive force policy, ODOT funds for school routes
SALEM CITY GOVERNMENT Mar. 23
Salem City Council approves temporary managed camp for unsheltered people on Portland Road
The Salem City Council on Monday night approved a new managed camp in the parking lot of a current warming shelter. As that closes next week, the location will see little white buildings installed that’ll house up to 40 people.
Weigh in on climate action strategies through city survey
HOMELESSNESS Mar. 22
Salem considers managed homeless camp in former car lot
The Salem City Council Monday evening will consider a resolution that would establish a managed camp on Portland Road where a warming center will close next week. All told, up to 48 people could stay there.
AGENDA: Salem City Council to consider board appointments, tree report
GOVERNMENT Mar. 18
Marion County: A year of “fire, ice and isolation"
The Marion County commissioners highlighted successes in vaccinating residents, providing a temporary shelter for wildfire evacuees and helping struggling small businesses during their annual State of the County address Wednesday.
SALEM CITY GOVERNMENT Mar. 17
Local governments in Salem area prepare for unexpected $115 million infusion of federal cash
Local officials are just now planning how to use the money so it’s unclear what Salem residents will see as a result. The millions come with some strings attached – but not many.
State of the County address Wednesday will highlight Covid response, wildfires
PUBLIC SAFETY Mar. 15
New Marion County judge wants to give back to the community he’s spent his life in
James Edmonds was appointed to the Marion County Circuit Court in February following the retirement of Judge Mary James. He said patience and respect are important qualities for his new role.
Governor seeks judge applicants for Marion County Justice Court vacancy
STATE GOVERNMENT Mar. 12
Marion DA challenges release of prisoners who fought last year’s wildfires
As a reward for fighting last year’s devastating blazes, Gov. Kate Brown is considering reducing the sentences of prisoners who served on fire crews, including 18 from Marion County. District Attorney Paige Clarkson said the move is unfair to victims and could jeopardize public safety.
PUBLIC SAFETY Mar. 12
Independent audit finds Salem police need to better use data, create a community policing plan
A monthslong audit that looked into the Salem Police Department’s policies, practices and procedures found that the department needs to create a formal plan on how it will police in the community, collaborate with nonprofits and social services agencies more and doesn’t use its calls for service data to direct its resources.
SALEM CITY GOVERNMENT Mar. 10
Mayor points to city efforts to reduce homelessness in annual address
This year’s State of the City address was held virtually, and while Mayor Chuck Bennett touched on the litany of natural disasters the area has overcome, he also highlighted the city’s efforts to increase affordable housing during the homelessness crisis and millions in upgrades to the city’s water treatment plant.
Watch Salem's State of the City address Wednesday at noon
AGENDA: Marion County commissioners to consider adding funding for motel stays, board appointments
AGENDA: Salem City Council to consider adopting planning vision, strategic plan
Salem could cut its emissions by half if Oregon, energy companies meet their goals
SALEM ECONOMY Mar. 3
Owner of Glamour Salon says she's closing up shop and moving away
Lindsey Graham, the owner of Salem's Glamour Salon, became a magnet for praise and criticism after defying pandemic orders. She's now trying to terminate the lease at her salon and says she'll move to “a deep red land of economic opportunity.”
Salem's police chief to speak at Salem City Club
STATE NEWS Mar. 3
Oregon's child welfare director sees reforms taking hold
Midway through her second year Oregon's child welfare director, Rebecca Jones Gaston says the agency is working hard to bolster training for its workers, improve response times on an abuse hotline, and address difficult issues such as structural racism.
AGENDA: Marion County commissioners to consider liquor licenses, contract amendment
Salem climate action group meets Wednesday
Grocery store workers union blasts governor's new vaccination schedule
STATE GOVERNMENT Mar. 1
With Oregon Capitol closed, lobbyists struggle to lobby without a lobby
Interviews by the Salem Reporter with 10 lobbyists revealed that the hefty virtual workload caused by pandemic restrictions has significantly changed the legislative process. Lobbyists say much of their communication now happens over thousands of text messages and emails while clamoring to get time on legislators’ already packed schedule of Zoom meetings. The dynamics could affect what bills are passed and what's in them.
SALEM CITY GOVERNMENT Mar. 1
This northeast neighborhood says it has the worst sidewalks in Salem
Homeowners in the Northeast Neighborhood in Salem have complained about buckled sidewalks for years, but the city said funding remains a barrier to fixing the thousands of needed repairs. The city councilor who represents the area wants to create a portal to catalog the complaints.
Legislative deja vu: Oregon GOP senators stage walkout
AGENDA: Marion County commissioners to consider contracts for medical providers, Covid services and HIV
SALEM CITY GOVERNMENT Feb. 23
Library patrons rejoice. Salem City Council approves free parking for the library.
After hearing complaints about library parking for years, the Salem City Council on Monday unanimously voted to allow three hours of free parking at the library parkade on Liberty Street which has been closed while the library undergoes seismic upgrades. Two councilors called it an equity issue.
AGENDA: Salem City Council to consider long range planning, free library parking and legislative priorities Monday
Patriot Prayer supporter involved in Capitol attack allowed to move out of state
Federal top cop for Oregon steps down
PUBLIC SAFETY Feb. 12
As Oregon lawmakers consider reforms to mandatory prison terms, prosecutors push back against proposed changes
There are several bills in the Legislature seeking to remove mandatory minimum sentences for serious crimes other than murder and allow reductions in sentences for those with good behavior. Marion County District Attorney Paige Clarkson said such reforms would have devastating effects on crime victims and rates.
HOMELESSNESS Feb. 11
PHOTOS: Union Gospel Mission's men's shelter nearing completion
The Union Gospel Mission has a goal of opening its new three-story, 55,000-square-foot facility by late June. Salem Reporter took a look at the construction site Wednesday.
HOMELESSNESS Feb. 10
Salem’s largest homeless shelter plans to open by summer
The Union Gospel Mission’s new men’s shelter across the street from the new Salem police station is doubling the number of beds the mission offers, adding a clinic and expanding education programs. The mission has a goal of opening by late June.
STATE POLITICS Feb. 9
Following 2020 elections, voters walk away from GOP
Voter registration numbers show that there are fewer people in the Republican Party in Marion County and at the state level. The registration drops as the state party faces divisions over its direction.
Zoom panel Wednesday to discuss ways Salem is addressing homelessness
City is accepting applications for federal urban development projects
LOCAL GOVERNMENT Feb. 8
Report finds that prisoners are dying in jails ill-equipped for people with mental illness or other disabilities
A new report from Disability Rights Oregon found deaths in local jails, including in Marion and Polk counties, have increased despite fewer people behind bars because of the pandemic. The report looked at 10 deaths in eight jails, finding that a lack of standards around prisoner health care, restraints, suicide protocols and other factors played a role.
Salem City Council considers traffic study at Monday meeting
Salem asking for donations for managed camp at the state fairgrounds