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Category: General

Measure 105 opposition rallies at council meeting

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

Keizer residents and their allies turned out in force at a Keizer City Council meeting Monday, Oct. 1, to advocate for the council to adopt a resolution urging Keizer voters to oppose Measure 105, a measure on the ballot heading to voters later this month.

Measure 105 would repeal prohibitions against local law enforcement officers investigating and arresting people solely suspected of being in the United States illegally.

“This measure is not only supported by flat-out white supremacists, but it also clearly supports the further criminalization and terrorizing of communities of color. It would only worsen the racial profiling that already exists and be an absolute abuse of power,” said Cindy Rico, a 2015 McNary alum.

The Measure 105 effort gathered more than enough signatures to earn a place on the ballot, but one of the driving forces behind the effort was the Oregonians for Immigration Reform (OFIR). OFIR is recognized as an anti-immigrant hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for accepting maintaining “strong ties to anti-immigrant hate groups and white nationalists.”

Testimony on the matter lasted almost 90 minutes, with all but one individual urging the council to adopt the resolution. In the end, rather than urging members of the community to vote against the measure, the council adopted a resolution stating only that the council opposes Measure 105 in a 6-1 vote. Councilor Amy Ryan was the only holdout.

Rev. Jose Dominguez, of Keizer’s Ingelsia La Luz del Valle, said that his church has had an active role in helping local families that were once undocumented obtain residency and seen others go on to attain citizenship.

“I believe [Measure 105] would create fear, mistrust and division creating an ‘us and them’ mentality. I believe this law, if passed, would put a greater strain on our police resources,” Dominguez said.

Sly Smith said participation in his church, Salem Mennonite Church in south Keizer, has dropped precipitously since the election of President Donald Trump.

“Our membership dropped by 30 percent. What we found was that a lot of those families walked to our church and suddenly they became afraid to come out period,” Smith said. “There is a continual sense of trying to build and hold together a community that is fractured and I hope you’ll vote ‘no’ on 105.”

Dennis Koho, a former Keizer mayor and city councilor, said taking a stand on this issue was a way to begin making amends for actions by previous city councils that added anti-LGBTQ language to Keizer’s city charter.

“This is a chance to fix it. Good people have done good work to help people comply with law and adopting this resolution is another step forward to help them do that,” Koho said.

Alex Sosa, a Keizer eighth grader, asked the council whether he seemed less important to them because of his brown skin.

“I hope not. I hope you see me and my family as important as any other other lives in Keizer. Help students stay focused in school and help us stay safe in our city and house,” Alex said.

Another McNary graduate who offered testimony, Levi Herrera-Lopez, now runs Mano e Mano, a Salem-based organization offering a variety of local services to Latino families. More than 115 families assisted by Mano e Mano are located in Keizer.

“I feel that local law enforcement is committed to keeping us safe, but the only way to avoid racial profiling [if Measure 105 is successful] is if 100 percent of the people police run into are asked for their papers,” Herrera-Lopez said.

Passage of Measure 105 would put its supporters one step closer “removing people like me and my family members,” he added.

The city also received a handful of letters weighing in on the issue, including one from state Sen. Kim Thatcher, whose district includes Keizer.

“The attitudes of our law enforcement have changed dramatically from … when the [original] law was passed. The statute that would be overturned … has morphed into something well beyond its original intent and has become an excuse for state, county and local law enforcement to refuse to cooperate with federal immigration officials,” Thatcher wrote.

When asked what would happen at the Keizer Police Department if the Measure 105 is successful, Keizer Police Chief John Teague said, not much.

“It won’t change what we do as a matter of policy and practice. We work with ICE within the parameters established by statute. We have great relationships with our community and, whether it passes or not, it’s not going to change,” Teague said.

While that might reassure residents while Teague remains chief, departmental policies could change under different leadership.

Council: ‘No’ on Measure 105

By ERIC A. HOWALD

Of the Keizertimes

Following an outpouring of testimony asking the Keizer City Council to urge city residents to vote “No” on Measure 105, the members of the council decided to meet the supporters halfway.

With a 6-1 vote on Monday, Oct. 1, and a modification to the text, the council took a stand against Measure 105, which would repeal a state statute prohibiting use of local law enforcement officers to investigate and apprehend individuals whose only violation of the law is they are undocumented. Statutes of its ilk are more commonly called “sanctuary” laws.

“We are protecting those people whose only violation of the law was that they are here undocumented. I think it is important that we as a city take a stand based on the values of the people who elected us,” said City Councilor Roland Herrera.

Herrera, Councilor Marlene Parsons and Mayor Cathy Clark joined forces to put the issue on the council’s agenda, something of a rare occurrence in recent years. The original resolution called on all Keizer voters to vote “No” on the measure, but a change to merely opposing the measure – suggested by Councilor Bruce Anderson – likely garnered additional votes from Anderson himself and Councilor Kim Freeman.

Before voting on the resolution, members of the council had to determine whether they could act at all. In 2003, members of the then-council passed a resolution stipulating that future councils could only take a position on state and federal matters when “they affect the City of Keizer residents or city operations, including, but not limited to operations and duties in the areas of land use planning, utility service, law enforcement, local policy and budgetary roles.”

The only member of the audience to speak on that specific aspect of the discussion was Keizer resident Richard Walsh, himself a former city councilor. He contended Measure 105 fell squarely within the narrow parameters in which the council is allowed to take a position.

“We have been trying to get the Hispanic community to engage with the city, to report when they are victims and when they witness crime. I spend a great deal of time as an attorney trying to help clients understand that they can’t be deported in Oregon if their only violation is being undocumented. 105 will take that protection away and it will set us back decades,” Walsh said.

Councilor Laura Reid said the numerous residents who offered testimony supporting the resolution made it clear that 105 would affect the city.

“We’ve heard very clearly tonight that this does affect our residents and 105 addresses whether the city’s law enforcement officers should be in the business of enforcing immigration law,” Reid said.

Freeman and Councilor Amy Ryan both opposed taking up the resolution when it came to a vote.

“When we assert ourselves as a body it should represent all residents and we need to trust our citizens to vote according to their opinions and values. I don’t think we should move forward because it’s divisive,” Ryan said.

A motion to take up the resolution passed in a 5-2 vote, Freeman and Ryan voted no.

When it came to deliberations, Councilor Marlene Parsons said she’d spent many of her waking moments pondering her stance even though she was one of the councilors to bring the issue forward.

“I was on the bubble, but this will affect all citizens and especially the undocumented residents. We have to protect our residents. Thank you for coming tonight because you helped me figure this out,” she told the large audience in attendance.

Prior to making the change from urging residents to vote “no” to simply opposing Measure 105, Freeman appeared to be leaning against the resolution.

“I don’t believe it’s my role to tell people how to vote. I think it’s a bigger conversation and should include more than just the residents here tonight,” Freeman said.

Reid said opposing 105 created a space for a larger conversation for all Keizer residents.

“I believe that this is the beginning of the conversation, and if we don’t stand up to protect our citizens we can’t have that conversation. This ensures that both sides will have a place in that conversation,” she said.

“Over many months, many years, we’ve seen a need to engage in this conversation and [this discussion] has opened the first step in affirming that we want to have it, and to be clear that we value and respect every resident of this city,” Clark added.

Ryan suggested that there was a lot of misinformation in the testimony provided to the council, but did not call out specifics.

“Measure 105 is [on the ballot] because 109,000 Oregonians said it should be there. A conversation has two sides and goes both ways, but this is not a balanced conversation,” she said, referencing the lack of testimony opposing the resolution. Only one person spoke against the council taking a stance on the issue.

City will join lawsuit to stop shooting across river

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

In its meeting Monday, Sept. 17, the Keizer City Council took its most bold steps to date toward stopping bullets traveling from a shooting range across the Willamette River into west Keizer neighborhoods.

During the meeting, the council opted to join, as intervenors, a $2.7 million civil lawsuit and request for an injunction against the D. Lance Davis and his business, Northwest Rock, Inc. Davis owns the quarry being used as a recreational shooting range from which bullets have traveled into a city park and into the home of a Keizer couple in the past year.

As an intervenor in the injunction portion of the lawsuit, the city will not be entitled to monetary awards, but it is an act of solidarity with the plaintiffs, Tom and Sheryl Bauer, seeking a permanent stoppage to the property being used as a shooting range. In June, a bullet from the range passed through the outer wall of the Bauers’ home and stopped only after hitting a granite backsplash.

“The goal of the injunction is a common one. It’s the same thing the city council wants and that’s to have [the shooting] stop,” said Keizer City Attorney Shannon Johnson prior to the council approving the action. “I want to warn you that there are downsides, but this is a situation that we’ve never run into. We have concerns for the safety of our citizens.”

Johnson said the primary risk for the city will come in the possibility of needing to enlist outside counsel on the matter.

Councilor Amy Ryan asked where funds would come from if additional legal help was needed.  Johnson said that determination would likely be made at the time, but contingency funds were the most probable source.

“When you talk about additional funds, nothing can replace lives and I am completely behind this,” said Councilor Roland Herrera.

Johnson chuckled when asked if the time dedicated to the lawsuit would detract from other priorities, “It has and it will continue, but those issues are, frankly, not as important as this.”

The council unanimously approved moving forward as intervenors.

In addition, the councildirected city staff to draft a letter to the Oregon Legislature asking the state’s governing bodies to “address the dangerous and unacceptable situation with regard to discharge of firearms in close proximity to urban areas.”

Mayor Cathy Clark asked whether the letter should address rural as well as urban areas, but City Manager Chris Eppley and Johnson cautioned against expanding the parameters of the request.

“Going the legislative route is going to be a tough row to hoe. Crafting something that walks the appropriate line is going to be difficult and, the broader you cast the net, the more people will join in the opposition,” Eppley said.

Councilor Marlene Parsons asked whether hunting along the river should be an additional consideration, but waterways are mostly controlled by the state.

“The state has recourse if a hunter is the bad actor in this,” Clark said.

Gary Blake, a member of the West Keizer Neighborhood Association, thanked the council for its actions, saying, “This shooting issue is something that needs to be addressed and I really appreciate your action tonight.”

Rent burdens draw eye of state

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

Keizer is now one of more than two dozen Oregon cities classified as severely rent burdened by the Department of Housing and Community Services.

The news came in the form of a letter from the Oregon Department of Housing and Community Services to city leaders as part of a new legislative requirement. The designation as a severely rent burdened city means that more than a quarter of renter households are paying more than 50 percent of the household gross income on rent. In Keizer, 27 percent of renters, about 1,400 households, fall into the severely rent burdened category.

In the overall picture, Keizer is just over the line that triggered the designation, but the city is required to address the issue. City officials must convene a public meeting to discuss the causes and consequences of rent burdens, the barriers to reducing rent and possible solutions.

The effect of rent burden is striking current city residents in a variety of ways, and at different stages of life.

Christine Braning Reed felt a sense of sticker shock as she began looking for an apartment when the rent on the home she was living in increased beyond her means. Most apartment complexes required an income of at least three times the monthly rent on the applications. Reed’s household income, which includes a disabled daughter, is roughly $2,800 a month between PERS and Social Security benefits. The rent on a two-bedroom apartment is roughly $1,000 in Keizer.

“I had to downsize so much it was unreal. We had two weekends of garage sales and then I just junked the rest. I saved what I wanted for my kids and put it in storage so I have the bill ($160). I have had to really curb the grocery shopping because I can’t buy in the bulk because there is no storage here in the apartment,” Reed said.

While each act of culling her possessions was difficult, she’s had the most trouble adjusting to the little things, now gone, that made her house feel like a home.

“I had to give up all my potted plants that I love because we can’t have that much on the porch or grounds. I was told we don’t rent the outside. I loved having fushia plants hanging on my porch and I can no longer do that. I had to give up my rose gardens and some of the roses I had planted at the house were from my husband’s funeral,” she said. Reed’s husband died of a terminal illness in 2006, between that and the housing crisis, her brother purchased her home and allowed her to pay below-market rent for the past decade.

Adding to Reed’s current hardships, she was recently diagnosed with breast cancer that, between co-pays and surgeries, will only add to the budget crunch she was already feeling.

“I am only hoping that God continues to provide for me. I thought this move I would be able to save some money but now with the cancer I don’t know what I am going to do. I might have to go get a part time job. I don’t know,” she said.

When Keizertimes asked Facebook readers about their experiences with rent burdens, multiple commenters noted their rent has climbed by leaps and bounds in recent years often with little or no renovation to the facilities themselves. Some reported their rents had increased by $500 or more in the past six years and several had taken on additional work to make ends meet. Health crises, like Reed’s, also figured heavily into some renters’ struggles.

Chris Rands is currently in the process of moving to a nicer apartment but his family’s rent is doubling – from $650 to $1,300 a month.

“What it means for me is I’ll have to work more overtime to be able to make ends meet, which means less time at home with my wife and daughter. My wife does not work as of now so we live off of my income. I’m a mental health therapist technician at the state hospital in Salem,” said Rands, 34.

He said the hard facts are the rental picture in Keizer is difficult for single-income or single-parent families. He said his family usually doesn’t make it all the way through the month on his paycheck.

“You can’t survive off minimum wage plus pay what they’re charging for rent these days. I’m very fortunate to have the career I have and praise the Lord every day for it but, even with what I make, it’s difficult to make it being the only provider,” he said.

He plans to keep working hard to better himself and his family.

MCFD adds career firefighter to Clear Lake Station

Marion County Fire District #1 has increased the services to the Clear Lake area in Keizer by adding additional full-time career personnel for emergency responses.

Medic 33 was established at Clear Lake Station 6 in 2011, bringing MCFD1’s first 24/7 medic unit into the Clear Lake community, with a promise to continue to look for ways to provide improved services to the community.

The district announced that it has added additional career personnel in place at Station 6 to staff Engine 725 in addition to Medic 33. This current deployment model staffs both Medic 33 and Engine 725 with career personnel Monday through Friday. After hours and weekend responses will be staffed by what is called a Swing Company, meaning that during certain hours, and for certain calls, personnel will respond in whichever apparatus is best suited for the response.

Board Chairman Mike Welter is excited about the expansion of service.

“We’ve really taken a data-driven approach to ensure that we are providing the most beneficial service during our peak hours when they are most needed,” Welter said.

Fire Chief Terry Riley added, “Our volunteers have done an excellent job of staffing the engine from Station 6 when available, but just as everywhere else in the country, people are busier; lives are busier. Sometimes there aren’t enough volunteers available at once for a fully-staffed engine. It was time to dedicate career personnel to the community so that we could get the apparatus out the door faster and fully staffed”.

Volunteers at Station 6 will join the career staff for responses on Engine 725 when available, adding additional manpower to calls for service.

This expansion of service also allowed for internal promotions at the District. Three engineers were promoted to Captain and three Firefighters were promoted to Engineer. The District also hired one new Firefighter/Paramedic and one new Single Role Paramedic.

Riley said that this deployment model will continue to be fine-tuned in the coming months as data points are monitored for any needed adjustments.

Grant may make railroad crossing quieter

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

The City of Keizer is applying for a federal grant that, if successful, could mean a quieter railroad crossing on Chemawa Road Northeast near Keizer Station.

The city council approved moving forward with the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements grant application at its meeting Tuesday, Sept. 4. A 2016 estimate from Burlington Northern to retrofit the space as a quiet crossing came in at $123,000. Those costs are likely to have increased and Keizer would be required to provide a 50 percent match, but city’s street fund is flush enough to cover the expense.

“The grant focused on safety, so we have an uphill battle, but this has been an issue in our community,” said Community Development Director Nate Brown. The crossing was updated about a decade ago and meets acceptable safety standards, which could contribute to the uphill battle.

The current stationary horn at the crossing reverberates through nearby residence most hours of the day which leads to noise complaints.

Even if the grant is successful, it might not mean the horn goes away entirely, but it could be replaced with wayside horns directed at oncoming traffic in both directions. Train crews could also still sound horns in emergency situations or for safety reasons.

The most visible change would likely be the installation of four-quadrant gates. Four-quadrant gates include an extra pair of gates blocking the roadway. The additional gates descend on a delay to avoid trapping vehicles and, once fully deployed, prevent drivers from attempting to go around them. The current crossing is a two-quadrant gate.

The deadline for applying for the grant is Sept. 17.

City backs two sidewalk projects

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

The City of Keizer will issue letters of support for two projects to improve pedestrian access around Kennedy and Cummings elementary schools.

The letters will be submitted along with projects proposals to the Safe Routes for Schools National Partnership. The council approved the request from the  Keizer Traffic Safety, Pedestrian and Bikeways (TPB) Committee at its Aug. 20 meeting.

Members of the TPB Committee have haggled over whether to support one project over another for months and ended up throwing its weight behind both. Rough outlines of the projects include additional sidewalk and bike lanes as well as additional infrastructure.

At the TPB committee’s most recent meeting, Aug. 17, issues of money dominated discussion. Requirements for Safe Routes funding include a 20 percent match on the part of the city. In regard to Cummings, the city might be able to negotiate using an investment being made in by the Salem-Keizer School District – to install sidewalks on the school campus – as matching funds. Around Kennedy, which is the larger of the two projects, the city would likely need to come up with the matching money on its own.

Committee Member David Dempster was a proponent of having a back-up plan.

“We have a Safe Routes grant opportunity coming up, but if we have several problems, ODOT occasionally comes up with other grants,” Dempster said. “I think there is a better chance of getting that money than the Safe Routes for School grant.”

Dempster also advocated appealing for monetary support from the city when the 2019-2020 budgeting cycle begins next spring.

Hispanic man assaulted while waiting for son

By ERIC A. HOWALD and CASEY CHAFFIN
Of the Keizertimes

On Feb. 7, 2018, just after 1 p.m., on Elizabeth Street North in Keizer, a Hispanic man was waiting by his truck outside his apartment for his son so they could go to work. Then John Ross Niko pulled up.

According to police reports, and verified by a witness who called 9-1-1, Niko got out of his vehicle approached the Hispanic man, began threatening him before punching him in the face, then got back in his vehicle and fled the scene.

On another day, in another instance, the words Niko used before the assault and during and after his arrest might not have mattered as much, but Niko is still facing charges of assault and second-degree intimidation because his actions appeared to have been motivated by racial bias. In Oregon, charges of second-degree intimidation are leveled against suspects when crimes are motivated by the suspect’s “perception of the other’s race, color, religion, sexual orientation, disability or national origin.”

The victim told police Niko stopped his car and said, “Why are you standing here? Go back to Mexico,” then got out of the car and hit him in the face. The responding officer noted in his report that the victim was bleeding around his nose when he arrived.

A witness and the victim’s son said Niko instigated the altercation, and a struggle continued while the son tried to separate the two men. However, Niko appears to have had a history of targeting the the victim and his son. The victim told police Niko, 36, had previously verbally harassed him. The victim’s son claimed Niko once tried to run him over while walking the family dog.

Niko’s vehicle was found around the corner at his residence and the victim and his son were able to identify him as the assailant from a DMV photo. Police returned to Niko’s home and placed him under arrest while he protested against being “arrested for being attacked by an illegal.” Niko asked officers whether they knew the man’s legal status, but it is illegal for officers to ask that question in Oregon because it is a sanctuary state and has been that way for three decades.

When officers asked Niko how he knew the man was in the U.S. illegally, Niko responded, “because he does not speak English.”

The officer said Niko’s continued racially-motivated statements while in a police vehicle prompted him to activate his in-car camera to record them. Niko also said that he did have encounters with the son while walking a dog and that the last time it happened “he did not run him over, but he did not slow down for him and his dog.” He also claimed he was not speeding at the time.

Keizer Police Department Lt. Andrew Copeland said the incident was the only one of its kind he could find in Keizer in recent years. The last one was in 2010 and involved a threat painted on a curbside. Regardless, he said the Keizer Police Department wants residents to report such incidents if they are victimized or witness them.

“If we can establish a pattern of behavior for a specific group or person, where they’re continually slandering or inputting their bias against a specific race or gender or whatever, that would be very good to document for the police department so we can build up that case if something does happen,” Copeland said. “If we have a group that’s being discriminated against, we need to see what we can do to help them out.”

Ideally, he added, police would be able to confront the antagonizer before it rises to the level of physical harm.

Copeland and members of the KPD leadership know and understand that the department, currently, does not reflect the citizenship of Keizer.

“I think that we, as a police department, we don’t represent our city. It’s not that we haven’t tried, we just don’t,” Copeland said.

When the department put out a recruiting call for officers earlier this year, the top five applicants were all white males. This was after going to great lengths to lure a Spanish-speaking officer from another agency.

To bridge some of the gap, KPD began hosting its annual BLAST Camp with a goal of putting city’s youth in close proximity to police officers in non-threatening circumstances. Students at schools with predominantly low-income or minority populations are given access to early sign-ups for the camp.

One of the side effects of the camp being run by current and former KPD officers is that the officers themselves get the chance to see other sides of the community.

“We go out to the community and we interact with people, typically, on their worst day. They’re calling the cops, something bad happened – their house got broken into, they’re frustrated, they’ve been assaulted, domestic violence,” Copeland said. “So for an officer to come in and see youth full of life and love, it just brings meaning back to the job. It’s healthy for both, sometimes more healthy for the cops.”

As a point of contrast, in the Salem Police Department, Lt. Debbie Aguilar is a liaison to the Salem Human Rights Commission that works with victims of hate- and bias-motivated incidents. Aguilar educates fellow officers on what constitutes bias incidents and hate crimes and sets aside incident reports suspected of involving bias motives so they can be brought to the attention of the commission and dealt with.

Copeland said the thing the department needs most is more people and time to devote to connecting with the community. Even after the department added five officers, it remains relatively bare-bones for a city the size of Keizer. A community resource officer works on issues around community connection, but she only works part-time.

“If we had someone who could reach out and set up the meetings, to establish relationships, set up a meeting with an agenda” it would create an avenue for better communication and better dialogue about community issues between community members and the police department, Copeland said.

Accused rapist out on forced release

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

Joseph Myers

A 20-year-old Keizer man accused of 12 counts of raping three juvenile victims was released from the Marion County Correctional Facility five days after his arrest.

Joseph Myers, of 4050 Gary Street N.E., was arrested on Aug. 15 on suspicions of engaging in intimate relationships with multiple juvenile females between the ages of 14-15. Some of the girls were runaways.

Police officials said Myers supplied the girls with marijuana and a place to stay at his home.

Myers was originally charged with multiple counts of rape, sex abuse, sodomy, delivery of marijuana to a minor, and contributing to the delinquency of a minor. His bail was set at $530,000.

Since his arrest, Myers was arraigned on 12 counts of third-degree rape, one count of third-degree sodomy, and three counts of unlawful delivery of marijuana to a minor. Myers has been ordered to appear in court at 8:30 a.m. Aug. 27 as a condition of his release and he is not to have contact with his victims.

Suspects are released from the Marion County jail most often due to overcrowding. A risk-assessment tool, essentially a computer algorithm, weighs several factors and projects the risk of a future conviction. Myers rated fairly high (58 percent) on the possibility of a future arrest, but other suspects arrested in recent days scored even higher.

Keizer Police Department detectives believe Myers has been engaging in similar activity for the past several years and there may be more victims. Anyone with information on unidentified victims is encouraged to come forward and contact Det. Arsen Avetisyan at 503-856-3514.

Capitol harassment complaint embroils former Keizer mayor

By ERIC A. HOWALD
Of the Keizertimes

A harassment complaint filed against the entirety of the Oregon Legislative Assembly, Legislative Administrative Committee and a former state senator also alleges that former Keizer Mayor Lore Christopher contributed to “generally hostile environment based upon sex” at the Capitol.

The complaint was lodged by Oregon Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian, the head of the Bureau of Labor and Industries (BOLI), with the agency he leads. The complaint, which stems from actions by a now-resigned senator as well as other employees, states incidents included “but were not limited multiple individuals in the Capitol to unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature.” Those subjected to the hostile climate fostered by the legislature and its employees included legislators, employees, lobbyists, and student interns according to the complaint dated Aug. 1.

Christopher, who is director of human resources at the Capitol is cited by name in several places throughout the eight-page complaint.

“I will absolutely participate in the investigation of the BOLI complaint but will not release the identities of any of the courageous women and men who have participated in any of these investigations and provided information to me,” Christopher said when reached by email. “A true culture change relies on receiving information about misconduct. Information cannot be forthcoming without an environment of trust and confidentiality.”

She added that ensuring confidentiality is essential to ensuring victims do come forward and “I will not be a part of any harm caused to individuals who were seeking to do the right thing by reporting misconduct.”

The centerpiece of the complaint are allegations – dating back to 1996 – against Jeff Kruse, who resigned earlier this year in the wake of more recent harassment allegations from fellow legislators. However, Christopher had a more central role in other aspects of the complaint.

In April 2017, the complaint alleges one employee confided in Christopher and Legislative Counsel Dexter Johnson that a male intern had previously sexually assaulted her and one of her acquaintances prior to his employment at the Capitol and then inquired about her current sexual relationship during his time as an intern. Recommendations from an investigation conducted by Christopher included cautioning the victim “about talking with anyone regarding this complaint … as additional conversation or actions outside of the investigation could be construed as retaliatory.”

The alleged harasser’s internship was near its end and the victim was told she would be notified if he was ever hired at the Capitol again. About a year later, the victim found out the harasser had been hired by the Capitol, but was never informed by the human resources department.

While Christopher isn’t named in many of the specific incidents regarding Kruse, it is implied that inaction by human resources employees was one of the reasons that it continued for years.

Conversely, despite repeated complaints about harassing actions by Kruse, remediation attempts went unheeded by Kruse which culminated in a letter being sent by Senate President Peter Courtney to Kruse in October 2017, which read, “I was made aware that your behavior toward women in the workplace has also gone unchanged. You were instructed in March of this year by Lore Christopher, Employee Services Manager, and Dexter Johnson, Legislative Counsel, that you were not to touch women at work. Period.”

When Avakian tried to reach out to two student interns and a lobbyist to notify them of their rights in light of the climate at the Capitol, employees reneged on promises to forward letters to the victims. Eventually, Avakian was able to contact the students through their schools.

“The respondents have denied multiple individuals full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities and privileges of the Capitol based on their sex,” the complaint concludes.

Avakian announced he will be leaving BOLI in January 2019. Investigations of the magnitude suggested by the complaint will likely take months and it will likely fall to Avakian’s successor, Val Hoyle, to determine how and whether it proceeds.

Hoyle is a former member of the Oregon House of Representatives who won the race to be Oregon’s next labor commissioner with 52 percent of the vote in May.

Christopher is currently a member of the Keizer Public Arts Commission.