Thursday, November 3, 2016

All-Non-Partisan Elections in Oregon

A Proposed Oregon Constitutional Amendment
To be included in Article II, “Suffrage and Elections:”
All-Non-Partisan Elections

(1)   All elections within the State of Oregon shall be non-partisan, with no indication of political affiliation on the ballot.

(2)   A candidate for any lucrative office shall be placed on the primary election ballot only after submitting a sufficient number of signatures of qualified electors. 

(a)The number of nominating signatures for the primary election ballot shall be: a percentage of the total number of qualified electors for that office in the previous general election in which a Governor was elected to a full term; shall be set by the legislature; shall be uniform for all offices; and shall be not more than 0.1%.

(3)   Only candidates who receive the highest and second-highest number of votes in the primary election for any office shall be placed on the general election ballot.  Nomination for the general election ballot by convention or petition will not be recognized by the State of Oregon. 

(4)   Groups or individuals may purchase space in the voter’s pamphlet for endorsements of candidates, at the same rate charged for ballot measure arguments, to follow the respective candidate’s entry in the Voters’ Pamphlet.

(5)   No less than 10 weeks before the general election, each candidate for President of these United States must submit the name of a candidate for Vice President of these United States to the Secretary of State’s office.  Said candidate for Vice President must be an inhabitant of a different state than the nominating candidate.  The name of each candidate’s Vice Presidential nominee shall be listed with the nominating candidate on the ballot, and shall be accorded an entry following the nominating candidate’s entry in the Voters’ Pamphlet.

(a)   Within 15 days of being notified by the Secretary of State that a candidate has received the highest number of votes cast for President in Oregon’s Presidential general election, said candidate must submit names and addresses of Electors, equal to Oregon’s total number of Representatives and Senators in Congress, to represent said candidate and the State of Oregon in its Electoral College vote.

(6)   The Legislature, counties, cities, and towns shall enact such supplementary legislation as may be necessary to carry the provisions of this amendment into effect.  This amendment supersedes all existing inconsistent statutes.  It shall take effect within 90 days of enactment. 

(7)   If any part of this section or its application to any person or circumstances is held to be invalid for any reason, then the remaining parts or applications to any persons or circumstances shall not be affected, but shall remain in full force and effect.

Rycke Brown, Natural Gardener         541-955-9040         rycke@gardener.com

Friday, February 19, 2016

A Cheap Place to Shower and Sleep

The old Rays on North 7th Street is perfect for this project

I am Rycke Brown, Natural Gardener, and I have a dream: a no-frills hostel.
Grants Pass will soon have a place for intoxicated people to sleep off their intoxication, thanks to Chief Landis and company.  A Medford non-profit is proposing to start a juvenile shelter here like they have in Medford.  Grace Roots, a Medically Assisted Treatment Center (MAT-C) for opiate addiction, is in the works, thanks largely to Nancy Yonally and the people she has gathered to help her.  We already have the Gospel Rescue Mission with its showers, meals and residential rehab, and Faith House, a shelter for battered women and their children.  The Salvation Army soup kitchen is another long-established feature in Grants Pass.
Now we need a cheap place to shower and sleep for people who are not intoxicated, not juvenile, not seeking help for addictions, not battered, or for whom there is no room in other shelters.  It’s time to start a non-profit to build and run a no-frills hostel so people who are willing to follow a few simple rules can pay $5 to shower and spend the night.  It can be a soft place to land for those who find themselves on the street without shelter for whatever reason, or who are just passing through.
Getting people out of the weather and providing them showers and bathrooms is good not only for them, but for the businesses, residents, and police of our city, who otherwise have to deal with people who are cranky from lack of sleep and exposure to the elements and everything that comes with people living out of doors on other people’s property.
It would be a hostel, a pay shelter, so it will be sustained mostly by the people who use it, with no subsidies needed in bad times when it is fairly full, and occasional fundraisers in good times when it is not full enough.
The Restwell Center will have one large room full of cots, with low light for a guardian to watch over the sleepers, and eye masks and ear plugs available.  It will have restrooms, showers, a coin-op laundry, and a reading room with an information kiosk for local services.  It will have an entrance kiosk and a person there to take people’s money and tell them the rules, and outdoor kennels for their dogs.  It will have a parking lot for their vehicles, and cameras inside and out, watched by the person in the entrance kiosk.
The rules will be simple: 
·        No talking or eating in the sleeping room. 
·        No smoking or vaping indoors, per state law. 
·        No searches for guns, drugs or alcohol, but if you pull any out of your bags, you will be trespassed. 
·        No dogs indoors.  Dog owners will be responsible for feeding their dogs and cleaning up their waste.   
·        No loud voices indoors.  Headphones will be allowed, as long as nobody else hears them.
We will sell sleeping vouchers that people can give to people asking for money.  We will also allow a few people to clean the place mid-afternoon in return for vouchers. 
The Center will be open for sleepers 24/7, as some people may have night jobs, and when people need to sleep, they should have a place to sleep safely.  People with sniffles, coughs or sneezing will sleep at the opposite end of the room from the healthy, and will be provided cold masks to reduce symptoms and contagion.
It will also have gardened areas outside, because I want to teach people who want to work and can’t find jobs how to garden and start their own residential gardening businesses.  It takes cheap classified advertising, relatively few and inexpensive tools, and one can use customers’ tools when starting out.  It is work that felons can do on their own; nobody has ever asked me about convictions when hiring me to work in their yard or outside their business.  We have a severe shortage of gardeners, people who kill weeds rather than just cutting them, which does not stop them from spreading.
It will not serve food or have any available.  There is the Salvation Army soup kitchen, the Gospel Rescue Mission, and food stamps.  We want to keep this simple.
I first proposed the Restwell Center in 2011, but didn’t feel competent then to head or run the project, and couldn’t find a person or group willing to take it on.  Now I am more confident and see a path to get there, between GoFundMe, Facebook, Twitter, and people I have met in the last 5 years. 
The first step is to start a non-profit so we can apply for grants to build it, and only to build it.  We can be taken in by another non-profit to help us get it started while we do the work to be a registered non-profit, which can take a year or two.  We have an empty grocery store that would be perfect for it with a bit of remodeling. 
It takes time, money, and legal help to start a non-profit, so we need donations to do the research needed to figure out the costs of building and running it.  Money in our bank account will attract more money and interest.  Once the non-profit is started, of course, any funds left in this starter account will be donated to it.
I am only one stroke of bad luck away from losing my own home, and might need to use the Center someday.  If it is successfully established, it will give me and a lot of other people living on the edge of their income peace of mind, knowing that there will be a place to go besides the bushes.  It will make this a safer, cleaner, kinder city, both for residents and those without a residence.
Please donate to this seed-money fund, and help us plant the seeds to grow the Restwell Center at gofundme.com/RestwellCenter, or contact me to donate in person or by mail.

Special February 2016 proposal.  CurrentNewsYouCanUse.blogspot.com. 

Rycke Brown, Natural Gardener          541-955-9040        rycke@gardener.com

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Auto-guilt: private parking enforcement

Three-hour parking on 5th next to First Call Resolution

Once again, Dale Matthews brings us useful news on the Bill Meyer Show on KMED.com.  We learned that, at the City Council’s January 11th workshop, the City of Grants Pass presented a plan to hand off downtown parking enforcement to a private company.  The main difference between this and our present parking code enforcement is that, if you are ticketed and want to contest the ticket, you have to pay the fine first and then appeal the verdict of the parking attendant.  You will be guilty until proven innocent in the name of “efficiency.”
The company will collect its contract payment from parking violators and pay any collections over that to the City, on a monthly basis.  While the company says that cities never pay for enforcement, there is no guarantee that they will pay anything to the city.
It turns out that separation of powers has long since taken a walk, not surprising in a city where the Manager is hired by the Council.  No need to involve a court in judging cases!  Presently, our Community Development Director hears parking “appeals.”  Code 6.02.030 also says, “Any further appeal or contesting of the violation, fine, delinquent charges, or collection fee shall be pursued through the appropriate court.”  According the format of the Notice of Violation in 6.06.050, the appropriate court is the “District Court of the State of Oregon for Josephine County,” which must an old name for the Circuit court. 
Staff wish to eventually have “someone more involved on a day-to-day basis” designated to hear appeals of downtown parking tickets once enforcement is given to a private company.  Presumably, that would be the company that issues the ticket, considering that they are presently heard by the City.
At least you don’t have to pay before contesting a ticket, if you appeal within 3 days.  Late fees are stopped until the appeal is heard.  Otherwise, if it is not paid by the 3rd day, late charges of $2 per day accrue until the 13th day, when an additional $20 collection fee is added, according to 6.06.050 Notice of Violation - Format.
Our Community Service (CSO) director said that we are having trouble collecting parking fines and fees.  Little wonder; Council doubled the fine in 2014, from $25 to $50.  Add on the maximum fees in the ticket format, and it becomes $90.  The employees being cited are low-paid, may have trouble paying a ticket within 3 days or 13 days, and are used to fending off collectors. 
Making us pay before contesting a ticket will not help matters.  It just shuts off the recourse of pleading “not guilty” and paying when found guilty.
According to GPMC 6.07.080 Non-Payment of Penalties - Wheel Locking Device, “When the total of all unpaid fines, delinquent charges, and collection fees amounts to $100 or more, which fines, delinquent charges, and collection fees are attributable to the parking violations of a single vehicle, Public Safety Officers or Community Service Officers are authorized to place on said vehicle (when it is discovered parked inside the City), a wheel locking device to disable the vehicle….” Under the fees in effect when this was passed in 2010, the threshold would be a third unpaid ticket.  Now, under the maximum of what is shown above, a “boot” would be installed upon a second offense before late charges.
Our head CSO wants to hand off collections to a private parking company.  He said that collections are hit and miss, with no actual process to collect them, and they are sent in for collections once a year.  It appears that we have a process that is not being followed.  I am sure that the private company will want to use it, after being authorized to “boot” the vehicles themselves.
The big problem with our downtown parking is that the City allowed First Call Resolution to locate their business and its many employees in the restricted downtown parking zone, in a big building with no parking of its own.  Its employees have been parking in restricted areas and getting tickets since they moved in.  They started parking outside the zone in the residential area across 4th Street, and the City restricted parking in that area to 3 hours, which residents on little lots without garages or driveways find pretty irritating.  The City opened up their 4th and F public parking lot to employees, but it is 4 blocks away from First Call Resolution.



3-hour parking signs recently have been removed on I from 5th to 4th; there are no parking signs past 4th in the residential area now.

Since the City allowed them to locate there, it should work with First Call Resolution to move their business to another building with sufficient parking in another part of town.  There are several available. 
There is clearly not enough employee parking near this business.  Making people pay before contesting a ticket won’t do anything but hurt low level employees for their employer’s lack of parking and the city’s lack of planning.
What the City should not do is hand off this mess to a private company to enforce.  It will not work any better with a private company than it does now.  It will not, according to staff, reduce the number of CSOs working downtown, only free up some of their time to do more enforcement of other city code violations. 
Our laws should be enforced by police, not a private company.  We should not have to pay a fine before we contest it.  If we contest it, we should be judged by a court, not an employee of the city or a private company.   It should be treated like any other traffic ticket, to restore our right to a fair trial by an impartial judge. The answer to insufficient parking downtown is to provide parking, not penalize workers for their employer’s lack, or residents whose home parking is being restricted because of one big employer without parking.

Special February 2016 protest leaflet.  CurrentNewsYouCanUse.blogspot.com.  Sign the petition at https://www.change.org/p/grants-pass-city-manager-aaron-cubic-leave-pot-growers-alone-target-litter-and-weeds.
Read the ordinance at http://gardengrantspass.blogspot.com/2015/09/chapter-572-homegrown-and-medical.html
Support the lawsuit at www.GoFundMe.com/HomegrownDefense

Rycke Brown, Natural Gardener          541-955-9040        rycke@gardener.com