OREGON HOSPITALS GETTING CROWDED: The number of COVID patients in Oregon hospitals as well as in intensive care units has risen sharply in two weeks' time. On Nov. 9, there were 269 COVID patients in Oregon's hospitals. On Nov. 24 that number was 474. In that same span, patients in Oregon ICUs more than doubled, from 55 to 113. And on Nov. 24, Oregon reported a record number of deaths: 21 in one day. Oregon physicians issued an open letter to state residents on the eve of Thanksgiving, warning people to self-isolate. "Any promotion of in-person social gatherings outside of our households or 'bubbles' is dangerous and irresponsible," says the letter signed by 800 Oregon doctors, including Dr. Paul Lewis, an infection disease expert. "If the spread of COVID-19 does not slow and reverse, we will not be able to provide the best care for anyone whether they need a ventilator for COVID-19, chemotherapy for cancer, or a safe place to deliver a baby."
STATE SENATOR TO BE NAMED IN DISCRIMINATION LAWSUIT: Two Portland lawyers say they intend to file a civil lawsuit against Oregon state Sen. Rob Wagner (D-Lake Oswego), former chair of the Lake Oswego School Board, alleging school officials failed to investigate an LO student's claims of racial discrimination. Attorneys for the plaintiff, who is unnamed because of their status as a minor, filed documents in Multnomah County Circuit Court on Nov. 24 initiating the process for a civil complaint against the Lake Oswego School District. The student is represented by Portland attorneys Michael Fuller and Kim Sordyl. Upon switching to the district, the student was regularly bullied for their hair and subjected to racist slurs, including the n-word, according to a press release issued Tuesday. The attorneys say the student's parents sought a resolution for years, and in May 2020, the school board, under the leadership of Wagner, approved the student's request to "double up" on distance learning to graduate a year early. But the school board did not initiate an investigation into the student's claims or provide the student additional support, the attorneys say. "The officials failed to follow the laws already in place regarding racism in schools, hazing in schools [and] retaliation," the attorneys wrote in a statement Tuesday. "My understanding is the district is taking the allegation seriously, and I would refer all other questions about the lawsuit to the district," Wagner told WW. "I couldn't be more proud of having had the opportunity to serve my community of Lake Oswego. I don't know the individual, and I don't know the context behind the suit."
CAPITOL STAFFERS BEGIN UNION DRIVE: Legislative staffers at the Oregon Capitol are in the process of organizing a union. In a letter received by legislative leaders Nov. 12, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 89 officially gave notice of the unionization effort. It's not clear what sparked the drive, and IBEW Local 89 did not comment by deadline. House Speaker Tina Kotek and Senate President Peter Courtney wrote a Nov. 16 memo to lawmakers, reminding them of the legal right of workers in Oregon to organize: "We remain committed, as always, to supporting the needs and interests of our amazing, dedicated legislative staff who enable us to do our work each and every day in Oregon."
LEFTISTS WANT TO RECALL MAYOR AND RYAN: Last week, mayoral runner-up Sarah Iannarone announced she was forming a political action committee aimed at "forwarding progressive solutions" on which she campaigned. This week, Portland lawyer Alan Kessler, a fervent Iannarone supporter, announced he's established another PAC, "Total Recall." That committee, Kessler says, will try to gather enough voter signatures to recall Mayor Ted Wheeler, who won reelection to a second term in November, and Commissioner Dan Ryan, who won a special election in August. Kessler and his allies took offense that Ryan joined Wheeler and Commissioner Amanda Fritz earlier this month in voting against Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty's proposal for a midyear, $18 million cut to the Portland Police Bureau's budget. Oregon law says elected officials must serve six months of their current terms before being subject to recall. Then, a campaign has 90 days after filing the required paperwork to gather 35,925 signatures to put a recall on the ballot. "I voted for Dan Ryan because he led me to believe he was a staunch advocate for police reform," Kessler said in a statement. "After his refusal to vote for Commissioner Hardesty's budget reduction amendment, I feel betrayed. I want my vote back. I want an apology."
YOUR GENEROSITY SETS A RECORD: On Nov. 24, Give!Guide broke a house record by raising $1 million for Portland-area nonprofits quicker than in any other year in its history. Last year, that benchmark was reached Dec. 3, a full week further into the campaign. Give!Guide, organized by WW, aims to raise $5 million by Dec. 31, 2020, with all funds to be distributed to 174 participating nonprofits. Donate at giveguide.org.