07-09-2020  6:33 am   •   PDX and SEA Weather
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NORTHWEST NEWS

Oregon DOJ to Hold Listening Sessions on Institutional Racism; Leaders Wary

DOJ will hold 11 virtual listening sessions for underserved Oregonians.

Portland Black Community Frustrated as Violence Mars Protests

Black leaders condemn violence from small group of mostly-white activists as Rose City Justice suspends nightly marches

Protester Dies After Car Hits Two on Closed Freeway

Summer Taylor, 24, of Seattle died and Taylor and Diaz Love of Portland were injured. The driver, Dawit Kelete has been arrested

Police Union Contract Extended, Bargaining to Continue

Negotiations will resume in January 2021.

NEWS BRIEFS

Portland Art Museum and Northwest Film Center Announce Artist Fund

The fund will help support artists during COVID crisis and beyond ...

The OHS Museum Reopens Saturday, July 11

The Oregon Historical Society museum will reopen with new hours and new safety protocols ...

Meyer Memorial Trust Announces New Trustee

Amy C. Tykeson of Bend, will oversee management of the 38-year-old Oregon-serving foundation. ...

African American Alliance for Home Ownership Announces New Board Member

AAAH has announced the appointment of Carl Anderson, M.D., a staff physician specializing in occupational medicine with Northwest...

Ploughshares Fund announces over $1 million in Grants to Stop Nuclear Threats

The global security foundation’s board of directors awards grants to 15 organizations working on nuclear weapons issues ...

Police: million lost due to ongoing Portland protests

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Downtown businesses in Portland, Oregon, have sustained about million in damages and lost customers because of violent nightly protests that have brought the city to its knees, authorities said Wednesday.At a police briefing, Deputy Chief Chris Davis said the...

Driver who hit Seattle protesters charged with 3 felonies

SEATTLE (AP) — Prosecutors on Wednesday filed three felony charges against the man who hit two protesters with his car, killing one, while driving on a Seattle freeway that was closed for Black Lives Matter demonstrations.The King County Prosecuting Attorney's office charged Dawit Kelete,...

Iowa defensive back Jack Koerner hurt in jet ski accident

IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — Iowa defensive back Jack Koerner sustained serious injuries when he and a passenger on a jet ski collided with a boat on the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri.According to a police report, Koerner and Cole Coffin were hurt at about 6:30 p.m. Friday when their watercraft...

Missouri football program pushes again for racial justice

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Ryan Walters had just arrived at the University of Missouri to coach safeties for the football program when a series of protests related to racial injustice led to the resignations of the system president and the chancellor of its flagship campus.The student-led movement...

OPINION

Recent Protests Show Need For More Government Collective Bargaining Transparency

Since taxpayers are ultimately responsible for funding government union contract agreements, they should be allowed to monitor the negotiation process ...

The Language of Vote Suppression

A specific kind of narrative framing is used to justify voter suppression methods and to cover up the racism that motivates their use. ...

Letter to the Community From Eckhart Tolle Foundation

The Eckhart Tolle Foundation is donating more than 250,000 dollars to organizations that are fighting racism ...

Editorial From the Publisher: Vote as Your Life Depends on It

The Republican-controlled Senate won’t pass the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, no matter how hard Oregon’s senators and others work to push for change. ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Asian American girls saw pivotal icon in 'Baby-Sitters Club'

Author Ann M. Martin had no master plan when she decided to make one of the core members of “The Baby-Sitters Club” a Japanese American girl named Claudia.Claudia Kishi happened to be everything the “model minority” stereotype wasn't. She got bad grades. She thrived in...

Black Players for Change lead protest at MLS is Back tourney

Now that Major League Soccer has re-started, a group of Black Major League Soccer players is using the moment to call attention to systemic racism across sports and society. Black Players for Change was formerly the Black Players Coalition of MLS, but changed its name this week while joining forces...

Latino group launches M campaign to boost voter turnout

PHOENIX (AP) — A national organization is announcing a million campaign to turn out Hispanic voters in several of this year's battleground states.Mi Familia Vota, based in Phoenix, said it will spend million on get-out-the-vote measures and an additional million on digital and...

ENTERTAINMENT

With a satirical fictional memoir, Jim Carrey gets real

NEW YORK (AP) — When Jim Carrey and Dana Vachon handed in the book they had toiled on for eight years — a satirical “anti-memoir” about Carrey’s life but with increasingly extreme flights of absurdity — to Sonny Mehta, the late Knopf publisher said he would...

Country band Lady A files suit against singer with same name

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Country group Lady A, which dropped the word “Antebellum,” from their name because of the word's ties to slavery, has filed a lawsuit against a Black singer who has performed as Lady A for years.The Grammy-winning vocal group filed the lawsuit on...

MSNBC appoints Joy Reid as Chris Matthews' replacement

NEW YORK (AP) — MSNBC says Joy Reid will move into the early evening time slot vacated in March by former “Hardball” host Chris Matthew's retirement in March.Reid, who has been a weekend anchor at the cable news network and lately has subbed in the 7 p.m. Eastern time slot, now...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

Is it safe to visit the dentist during the pandemic?

Is it safe to visit the dentist during the COVID-19 pandemic?Dentists can’t eliminate all risk, but they...

Parades, close-ups with Mickey out as Disney World reopens

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) — Forget about up-close “meet-and-greet" sessions with Mickey Mouse or Donald...

Bolsonaro now 'poster boy' for dubious COVID-19 treatment

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — After months of touting an unproven anti-malaria drug as a treatment for the new...

US Army chief welcomed to Thailand with coronavirus test

BANGKOK (AP) — A U.S. Army delegation led by chief of staff Gen. James McConville on Thursday became the...

Regional governor in Russia arrested on murder charges

MOSCOW (AP) — A provincial governor in Russia's far east has been arrested on charges of involvement in...

Morocco to start reopening borders after strict lockdown

RABAT, Morocco (AP) — Morocco will start gradually reopening its air and maritime borders next week after...

McMenamins
Jennifer Liberto CNN Money

WASHINGTON (CNNMoney) -- Budget cuts at the Internal Revenue Service are causing long lines for the poor and elderly seeking free tax preparation advice, lengthier hold times for IRS help line calls and delays in tax refunds for identify theft victims.

With a hiring freeze preventing the IRS from replacing workers who retire or leave for other jobs, existing staffers say they're feeling the pressure of lack of manpower, according to the National Treasury Employees Union, which represents federal employees at the tax collection agency.

The IRS has lost 10,000 employees to attrition in just the past two years, or over 9% of its total workforce.

"We are doing as best we can with a staff of 14 that used to be a staff of 32," said one IRS employee about working conditions in a survey conducted by the union.

In an effort to prevent additional budget cuts from wreaking havoc during the height of the tax filing season, the IRS pushed back employee furloughs until the summer, after the April 15 deadline for filing tax returns.

Forced cuts have already begun to take root at dozens of other federal agencies, triggered on March 1 by $85 billion in automatic government spending cuts. Tens of thousands of defense workers have lost jobs and federal public defenders have already started to take unpaid time off at home.

The IRS has been trimming costs in preparation for the forced budget cuts, just like other agencies. That's meant that staff levels have dwindled at the 389 Taxpayer Assistance Centers nationwide. Typically, these centers offer tax and retirement counseling for the elderly and help the poor prepare their returns for free.

The National Taxpayer Advocate estimated that these centers will serve about 5.4 million people by this year's tax filing deadline, down from 6.4 million in 2011, according to a report.

IRS workers told the union that taxpayers are lining up outside the centers "beginning in the pre-dawn hours" before the assistance centers open, according to the union survey.

Budget cuts and lack of staff have increased wait times for those seeking IRS help by phone to 18 minutes on average this tax season. That's up from 13 minutes in 2011, according to the National Taxpayer Advocate's report.

The likelihood that a caller would get a live IRS employee on the phone for tax questions also fell, according to the report. This year only 63% of taxpayers who call the IRS are expected to successfully get help, down from 70% of callers in 2011. More taxpayers just hang up in frustration, the report found.

Identity theft victims are among the worst hit -- having to wait six months to a year if they're seeking tax refunds, the union said.

The situation could only get worse. Currently, IRS employees are facing between five and seven days of unpaid time off, with the first furlough possibly kicking in around Memorial Day, May 27.

The agency has also been cutting costs for travel, training, facilities and supplies, according to a February memo from IRS acting Commissioner Steven Miller.

The survey was produced from an analysis of thousands of written responses by IRS employees who wrote essays explaining how budget cuts were affecting taxpayer services, said union spokeswoman Dina Long.

A request for comment from Treasury Department was not returned.

 

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