12-13-2019  1:21 pm   •   PDX Weather    •   SEA weather  
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NORTHWEST NEWS

Louisiana State University President Heading to Oregon Job

F. King Alexander will succeed Ed Ray, who is retiring from the position at Oregon State University at the end of June after 17 years as president. Ray will continue in a teaching role at the university

PHOTOS: Black Santa Visits Northwest African American Museum

The Skanner's Seattle photographer Susan Fried was on hand to snap some photos

English Language Learners' Success Translates Into a $25,000 Milken Educator Award for Teacher Julie Rowell

Oregon educator boosts student achievement and future prospects at Gresham High School

Portland Resident Hoping to Donate Kidney to Black Recipient

Fewer Black patients receive live kidney donations

NEWS BRIEFS

Friends of the Children Chapter Coming to Tacoma, Executive Director Announced

Organization empowers youth facing the greatest obstacles through the long-term support of professional mentors ...

Oregon Humane Society Celebrates the Adoption of the 11,000th Pet of 2019

Max, a two-year-old Labrador/Weimaraner mix, is going to a new home with the Dunlap family of Damascus ...

EPA Approves Funding for Oregon and Washington to Improve Drinking Water, Wastewater Infrastructure

States estimate $190 million for wastewater, $35 million for drinking water projects in Oregon, and $120 million for...

Conservation Breakthrough for Endangered Butterfly

The Oregon Zoo's breeding success provides new hope in an effort to save Oregon silverspots ...

Meet 80 Local Authors at OHS 52nd Holiday Cheer Book Sale and Signing

This free Oregon Historical Society event will be held this Sunday, December 8 from 12 p.m. – 4 p.m. ...

Louisiana State University president heading to Oregon job

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) — Louisiana State University is looking for a new system chief, after President F. King Alexander was appointed Friday to lead Oregon State University.Oregon State's Board of Trustees unanimously agreed to hire Alexander in a special meeting, confirming that Alexander...

As California thins forests to limit fire risk, some resist

SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAINS, Calif. (AP) — Buzzing chainsaws are interrupted by the frequent crash of breaking branches as crews fell towering trees and clear tangled brush in the densely forested Santa Cruz Mountains south of San Francisco. Their goal: To protect communities such as Redwood...

New Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz predicts success

COLUMBIA, Mo. (AP) — Eli Drinkwitz was saying all the right things after being introduced as the new football coach at Missouri, laying out his vision for the once-proud program with unwavering confidence and bold proclamations.Then the former Appalachian State coach made a minor...

LSU's Burrow, Auburn's Brown named AP SEC players of year

LSU quarterback Joe Burrow is a unanimous selection as the offensive player of the year on The Associated Press All-Southeastern Conference football team.The top-ranked Tigers also have the SEC’s coach of the year in Ed Orgeron and the newcomer of the year in freshman cornerback Derek...

OPINION

Will You Answer the Call for Moral Revival?

In embracing and expanding the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Revs. Barber and Theoharis have asked Presidential candidates to consider a debate that focuses exclusively on poverty ...

What I’m Thankful For This Season

Ray Curry gives thanks for a human right that shaped our country throughout the 20th century and that made Thanksgiving possible for so many Americans who, like him, didn’t get here by way of the Mayflower ...

Congressional Black Caucus Members Visit U.S.-Mexico Border: “Mistreatment of Black Immigrants is Another ‘Stain on America’”

Members said they witnessed first-hand the deplorable treatment and plight of Black immigrants ...

Portland, I'm Ready

Last month I had the privilege to stand with hundreds of supporters and announce my intention to run for re-election ...

AFRICAN AMERICANS IN THE NEWS

Donor pulls jumi.5M grant to UNC-Chapel Hill over 'Silent Sam'

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — A New York-based not-for-profit foundation has withdrawn a jumi.5 million grant intended for the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in light of a financial deal between leaders of the university system and a Confederate group to preserve a controversial...

Belgian carnival removed from UNESCO list over racism row

BOGOTA, Colombia (AP) — A famous Belgian carnival was removed from the U.N.'s cultural heritage list on Friday following complaints that its most recent edition contained blatant displays of anti-Semitism.The Aalst carnival was taken off UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage list during a...

Anti-Semitism order raises tough issue of defining prejudice

NEW YORK (AP) — President Donald Trump’s order to expand the scope of potential anti-Semitism complaints on college campuses is raising the stakes of an already tense battle over how to define discrimination against Jews.The executive order Trump signed on Wednesday tells the...

ENTERTAINMENT

Greta Gerwig on making 'Little Women' 'at the speed of life'

NEW YORK (AP) — The first movie Greta Gerwig saw in a theater was “Muppets Take Manhattan.” When it was over, her parents momentarily couldn’t find her. She had run to the front of the theater to put her hands on the screen.“I thought I could get into it,”...

'Lemonade' by Beyoncé is named the AP's album of the decade

NEW YORK (AP) — The top 15 albums of the decade by Associated Press Music Editor Mesfin Fekadu:1. Beyoncé, “Lemonade”: At the beginning of this decade, Beyoncé was already the greatest singer of her generation. She won a record six Grammys in a single night, had women...

'Mad Men' actress Christina Hendricks files for divorce

LOS ANGELES (AP) — “Mad Men” actress Christina Hendricks filed for divorce Friday from her husband of 10 years, actor Geoffrey Arend. Hendricks filed the marriage dissolution documents in Los Angeles Superior Court, citing irreconcilable differences. The 44-year-old Hendricks...

U.S. & WORLD NEWS

‘Rise of Skywalker’ is almost here, but a dark side looms

LOS ANGELES (AP) — When Disney bought Lucasfilm for more than billion in 2012, there were lofty...

Blue-collar character actor Danny Aiello has died at age 86

NEW YORK (AP) — Danny Aiello, the blue-collar character actor whose long career playing tough guys included...

In surprise decision, US approves muscular dystrophy drug

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. health regulators approved a second drug for a debilitating form of muscular...

Ex-PM elected Algeria's new president, to protesters' dismay

ALGIERS, Algeria (AP) — Algeria newly-elected president Abdelmadjid Tebboune vowed after his victory was...

El Salvador court gives hefty sentences in mass gang trial

SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador (AP) — A court in El Salvador has sentenced 373 convicted members of the...

Battle ahead: Scotland party leader vows independence push

LONDON (AP) — Prime Minister Boris Johnson has won the majority he needs to push through Brexit, but he...

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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