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September 19th, 2012 12:01 am WW Editorial Staff | Murmurs

Murmurs: 501(c)3s Weigh in on Ballot Measures, OEA Opposes Parents on Compacts

We are the 47 Percent.

murmurs1_3846IMAGE: Cory Weaver
  • It’s rare for charitable groups to make political contributions—federal law discourages them from converting donations (deductible to the giver) into political cash. But a couple of local 501(c)3 organizations, the Oregon Symphony and the Portland Opera, each donated $25,000 to support an arts tax on the November ballot. Both stand to benefit from the $35-per-head tax, which would split $12 million annually between arts nonprofits and schools. “Because it syncs so tightly with our mission, our board approved a donation,” says Symphony spokesman Jim Fullan. “It’s our understanding that we can’t support candidates, but we can do this.”
  • The marijuana campaign has suddenly lit up. The Oregon State Sheriffs’ Association last week created a political action committee to oppose Measure 80, which would legalize pot in Oregon. Now there’s a new group supporting the measure: Oregonians for Law Reform, which hopes to distance itself from the initiative’s sponsor, Paul Stanford, and re-brand Measure 80 as a mainstream fight against prohibition and wasteful law enforcement. “We want to appeal to soccer moms and grandparents,” says group co-chair Sam Chapman. The group hopes to attract big donors such as Progressive Insurance chairman Peter Lewis, who’s been dumping millions into the Washington and Colorado marijuana campaigns.
  • Gov. John Kitzhaber’s ambitious education reforms depend in part on “achievement compacts” that have school districts writing plans on how they’ll improve classroom outcomes. Oregon Chief Education Officer Rudy Crew and some Education Investment Board members wanted parents included in discussions. But the Oregon Education Association, which opposes many of Kitzhaber’s reforms, told the board Aug. 31 that parents weren’t specifically included in the enabling legislation. “We do not agree that parents or other non-education professionals ought to be appointed to the Achievement Compact Advisory Committees,” OEA wrote. Board members agreed to OEA’s demand but will seek a legislative fix that includes parents in the compacts.
  • An Oregon Heath & Science University researcher is co-author of a study that slams the U.S. military for not effectively addressing a binge-drinking and drug-abuse “culture.” Dennis McCarty, a professor of public health and preventive medicine, helped present the study to the Defense Department in Washington, D.C., on Sept. 14. “One in three active-duty service members scores on a screening test at a level that suggests an alcohol-use disorder,” McCarty tells WW. “They’ve got individuals that have been deployed seven or eight times, and as a result, they’ve got high risk for drug and alcohol abuse.”
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