Tag Archives: Oregon Legislature

Legislators show spine … good for them!

By John Kanelis / johnkanelis_92@hotmail.com

Oregon’s state legislators have demonstrated some rare political courage and they have made this native Oregonian quite proud of them.

Oregon House members voted 59-1 to expel state Rep. Mike Nearman of Independence, Ore., for disorderly behavior after he let rioters into the State Capitol to protest the state’s response to the COVID pandemic. The event occurred Dec. 21. Nearman, a Republican, was caught on video allowing rioters into the Statehouse.

Lawmakers remove state legislator over Oregon Capitol breach (nbcnews.com)

Many of the mob members were carrying banners supporting the previous POTUS. Some of them spouted QAnon conspiracy theories. They posed a direct threat to the Legislature, which was meeting at the time. The Capitol had been closed to the public because of safety concerns.

That didn’t matter to Nearman, who opened the door to the mob.

The expulsion is the first for Oregon in its 160-year history.

Meanwhile, other state legislators elsewhere — not to mention members of Congress — are demonstrating wimpiness in the extreme as they fail to take action against those who promote the kinds of violence we have witnessed in this pandemic and post-election age.

Well done, Oregon legislators.

GOP has gone mad in the state of my birth

Oregon Republicans used to comprise a sane lot of politicians, folks who actually knew how to govern and they did it well.

The late Gov. Tom McCall, a Republican, is a legendary figure in Oregon. So is the late Sen. Mark Hatfield, another GOP stalwart. Oregon had a Republican secretary of state, Clay Myers, who was known to work well with Democrats.

These days the Republican Party in Oregon — the state where I was born and spent the first 34 years of my life — has gone bonkers.

They comprise 12 members of the Oregon Senate. The rest of the 30-member body comprises Democrats. The Oregon Senate needs 20 members present, a quorum, to do business.

The state’s Republican Senate caucus dislikes a cap-and-trade bill — an environmentally friendly bill that aims to cut carbon emissions — that they all have disappeared. They aren’t reporting for work. The Senate can’t do any business.

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, has dispatched the state police to look for the missing senators. She wants to round up enough of them to force the Senate to vote on the emissions bill.

Here is where it gets really weird, man. At least one GOP senator, Brian Boquist, is threatening to kill any trooper who seeks to take him into custody to bring him back to work.

As CNN reported on what Boquist told a Portland TV station: “Send bachelors and come heavily armed. I’m not going to be a political prisoner in the state of Oregon. It’s just that simple.” Yep. There’s an implied threat of violence there, right? Of course there is!

I began my journalism career in Oregon in 1976. I didn’t get to cover the Legislature in those days, although I certainly reported on the impact of legislation on the community I served as a reporter and later an editor. Nothing like this ever occurred.

Then again, that was a time when Republicans and Democrats actually worked together in state government and actually got things done for the benefit of those of us they served.

This man would be out of place today

Every now and then when I think about Republicans who wouldn’t make it in today’s political climate — yes, I actually think about these things — the name of Victor Atiyeh pops into my skull.

I didn’t know Atiyeh well, although I knew plenty about him. I met him once while he was campaigning for Oregon governor back in 1978. I was a reporter working for the Oregon City Enterprise-Courier — a small suburban afternoon paper about 15 miles south of Portland. In those days, politicians thought it was important to talk even to small papers in order to get their message out to the voters.

Atiyeh, who died this week at age 91, had served many years in the Oregon Legislature. He was running against Democratic Gov. Bob Straub in 1978. The contrast between the men was striking.

Straub, a nice guy, was a scatter-shot speaker, unfocused, rambling and seemingly nervous to be in the presence of us small-town media types.

Atiyeh was the picture of coolness and calm. I remember that he smoked like a freight train during our interview. The Republican challenger was focused, engaging, looked me in the eye when giving direct answers to direct questions.

Atiyeh won that election and would win re-election four years later.

Here’s a couple of things about Atiyeh that need saying. One is that he was the first politician of Arab descent ever elected to a governor’s office in the United States. The other is that he was a consummate “establishment, mainstream Republican” who made tough choices they needed to be made. An editorial in the Portland Oregonian spells that out:


Atiyeh likely couldn’t cut it in today’s Republican Party. He was as staunch a Republican as any politician of his time. Today, though, being faithful to the GOP’s traditional pro-business, low-tax mantra isn’t good enough. You have to be mean-spirited, angry, obstructionist and accusatory — all traits that Vic Atiyeh never exhibited.

He was a gentleman through and through and he turned out to be a very good governor of my home state.

May this good man rest in peace.