The Oregon Senate selected or reappointed almost 100 persons to state boards and commissions on Friday, including one retiring state senator.
Governor Kate Brown appoints, and the state Senate confirms the majority of the unpaid volunteers who serve on state boards. They have an influence on a variety of governmental policies, including land use, public pensions, and transportation.
Sen. Lee Beyer, D-Springfield, was nominated to the Oregon Transportation Commission. His nomination was the most contentious of Brown’s most recent batch of appointments. 11 environmental organizations wrote Brown in opposition to Beyer, stating that he shouldn’t be selected since he is a white guy who lives outside of the Portland area and supports freeways, as first reported by Willamette Week.
The Senate approved Beyer in a group motion that included many other nominees. Following the conclusion of his current Senate term, he will start serving on the transportation commission and expressed excitement about helping to carry out Oregon’s 2017 $5.3 billion transportation package.
Few faced Sen. Fred Girod, a Republican from Lyons, who requested a vote on each of the six opponents. The nominations of Brenda McComb to the state Board of Forestry, Ronnee Kliewer and Kelly Kuklenski to the state Board of Parole and Post-Prison Supervision, and Shenoa Payne to the Oregon Government Ethics Commission.
Anne MacDonald and Erica Medley to the Governing Board of the State Department of Geology & Mineral Industries, and Kelly Kuklenski to the Governing Board of the State Department of Geology & Mineral Industries were all defeated by all seven.
Kliewer, a lawyer from Portland, and Kuklenski, a prisons officer from Clackamas County, enraged Republicans who objected to Brown’s strategy for prison release. Around 1,000 inmates were released from prison by Brown before the conclusion of their sentences in 2020 and 2021, and the parole board has recently tended to favor prisoner releases.
Girod declared, “We currently have a board that is just truly going to the extreme of releasing people out of jail.”
He claimed that when asked whether Kliewer and Kuklenski would adhere to the mandatory minimum terms for heinous crimes like rape and murder set forth by Measure 11, which was enacted in 1994, he didn’t receive clear responses. These responses, according to Sen. Michael Dembrow, D-Portland, are crystal apparent.
One of the things they emphasized strongly was their commitment to upholding the law, and Dembrow noted that the legislation in this state regarding Measure 11 is extremely clear. There is no flexibility for early release there.
Girod took issue with McDonald, a representative of the city of Hillsboro, and Medley, a representative of the Army Corps of Engineers, claiming that there is an imbalance between the representation of government and business on the board for the geology department.
He also opposed Payne, arguing that someone who makes a profession by suing people for ethics infractions shouldn’t sit on the panel that makes that determination. Other Republicans said they would have supported Payne if she hadn’t been included in a group motion because of respect for the Democrats who nominated her, including Sen.
Bill Kennemer of Oregon City and Senate Minority Leader Tim Knopp of Bend. Nine people make up the Oregon Government Ethics Commission, eight of whom were chosen by the legislative caucuses.
McComb, a retired vice provost for academic affairs at Oregon State University, has been a member of the forestry board since 2018. Sen. Jeff Golden, D-Ashland, argued that Girod’s assertion that she opposed tree harvesting was false and that he should not have supported her reappointment.
Golden stated, “I don’t know those folks when I hear the claim that some people think the flames are simply about climate change. “I know a lot of individuals who think that managing forests is a very crucial aspect of addressing climate change, and most of them, if not all of them, would agree. I’m hoping we can have a more in-depth discussion on the different types of forest management we’re discussing.
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