02-20-2020  10:54 pm   •   PDX Weather    •   SEA weather  
The Skanner Black History Month
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Oregon Denies Permit for Pipeline Before Federal Decision

Oregon's Department of Land Conservation and Development says a proposed liquefied natural gas export terminal in Coos Bay would have significant adverse effects on the state's coastal scenic and aesthetic resources, endangered species and critical habitat

Rep. Blumenauer Joined by Sens. Markey, Sanders, and Warren to Introduce Bill to Hold Big Oil Companies Accountable

"Amidst the growing climate emergency, closing this loophole is a small step we must take to hold Big Oil accountable and to protect our communities," said Blumenauer. 

Trump Appointees Weigh Plan to Build Pipeline in Oregon

If the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approves the project, which lacks state permits, it would likely set up a court battle over state's rights

Oregon Lawmakers Ask U.S. Attorney to Investigate Whether Local Police Violated Black Man’s Civil Rights

U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer said this racial targeting of Michael Fesser "reflects the worst abuses of African-Americans in our nation’s modern history"


OneUnited Bank Launches New Limited-Edition Harriet Tubman Card

OneUnited Bank, the largest Black-owned bank in America, introduces the new limited-edition Harriet Tubman Card in celebration of...

Oregon House Votes to End Driver’s License Suspensions for Failure to Pay Fines

Bipartisan Vote Underscores Consensus for Reforms, Makes Way for Senate Action ...

Black History Month 2020: “African Americans and the Vote”

In our celebration of Black History Month 2020, the DPO Black Caucus looks forward to the screening of the award-winning documentary,...

Battle Ground High School Senior Wins Regional Poetry Out Loud Competition, Advances to State

Judges evaluated student performances on criteria including voice and articulation, evidence of understanding, and accuracy ...

DOJ to Investigate Wrongful Arrest of Black Man in Oregon

The decision comes a week after U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley and U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer urged a federal probe into...

Man pleads guilty to helping suspect in deputy shooting

LONGVIEW, Wash. (AP) — A Kalama man pleaded guilty this week to assisting the escape of the man who killed Cowlitz County Sheriff’s Deputy Justin DeRosier in April. The Daily News reports Matthew Veatch, 26, pleaded guilty in Cowlitz Superior Court to rendering criminal assistance,...

Person in custody after gun incident near courthouse

OREGON CITY, Ore. (AP) — A man is in custody Thursday after police say he was waving a gun and threatening bystanders near Clackamas County’s courthouse.Oregon City police said there was a report of a person “menacing with a gun” at the courthouse, which is located on...


Black America is Facing a Housing Crisis

As the cost of housing soars the homeless population jumps 12 percent, the number of people renting grows and homeownership falls ...

Trump Expands Muslim Ban to Target Africans

Under the new ban on countries, four out of five people who will be excluded are Africans ...

Martin Luther King Day is an Opportunity for Service

Find out where you can volunteer and make a difference to the community ...

Looking to 2020 — Put Your Vote to WORK!

Ronald Reagan, who turned his back on organized labor and started America’s middle-class into a tailspin, has recently been voted by this administration’s NLRB into the Labor Hall of Fame ...


Democrats try to blunt strong California showing for Sanders

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — California is the largest prize in the calculations of any Democratic presidential candidate, but it rarely seems that way.But no one is underselling California this time. Bernie Sanders has been working the state for months, organizing intensively among Latinos and...

Tech boom, suburban growth drive Nevada's Democratic shift

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Twenty years ago, long before Nevada was part of the early presidential selection process, the phone typically rang unanswered at Washoe County Democratic Party headquarters in Reno during mid-term elections."We had a small conference room and a tiny reception area, but no...

Woman pleads guilty to crash that killed white supremacist

NEWPORT, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky woman pleaded guilty on Thursday to manslaughter in a car crash that killed a white supremacist leader.Emily Sherry, 24, entered her plea in the April 2018 death of Robert Ransdell, 37. Sherry was driving under the influence on Interstate 275 when she veered...


Success of 'To All the Boys' puts stars on Hollywood's radar

NEW YORK (AP) — The 2018 release of the Netflix teen rom-com "To All the Boys I've Loved Before," changed the lives of its stars, Lana Condor and Noah Centineo, by putting them on Hollywood’s radar."People are taking me more seriously," said Condor, a 22-year-old Vietnamese American....

No conspiracy this time: Dan Brown writing children's book

NEW YORK (AP) — Dan Brown's next book will have a lighter, more musical touch. The “Da Vinci Code” author is working on a picture story, “Wild Symphony," scheduled to be published Sept. 1. Rodale Kids, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, announced the...

Review: A CGI canine yearns to be free in 'Call of the Wild'

Does the dog movie have any new tricks? Do we want it to?For the most part, we want our dog movies like our pooches: comforting, obedient and slightly slobbery. “The Call of the Wild,” the latest adaptation of Jack London’s 1903 novel, is all those things but adds a new twist....


TV analyst? Spokesman? Freed ex-governor goes job hunting

CHICAGO (AP) — Job wanted: Ex-governor and ex-con with strong speaking skills and good hair seeking...

Wrestler adds to abuse allegations against university doctor

ANN ARBOR, Michigan (AP) — An Olympic wrestler on Thursday accused a University of Michigan doctor of...

German gunman calling for genocide kills 9 people

HANAU, Germany (AP) — A German who shot and killed nine people of foreign background in a rampage that...

Amid protests, Portugal lawmakers vote to allow euthanasia

LISBON, Portugal (AP) — Portugal’s parliament voted Thursday in favor of allowing euthanasia and...

South Sudan rival leaders agree to form coalition government

JUBA, South Sudan (AP) — South Sudan’s rival leaders on Thursday announced they have agreed to form...

Turkish soldiers killed in Syria amid threats of escalation

ANKARA, Turkey (AP) — Two Turkish soldiers were killed Thursday in an airstrike in northwestern Syria,...

Kyung Lah CNN

Editor's note: The following story contains graphic language and descriptions.

LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- Allegations of lewd acts committed by a teacher on students in a Los Angeles-area elementary school sent shockwaves across the community last year.

But the outrage didn't end there. Amid a year-long police investigation involving dozens of photos showing the alleged acts, the school district -- faced with strict state rules -- could not fire the teacher.

Instead, it paid him $40,000 to quit his job.

Police arrested Mark Berndt, 61, in January and charged him with 23 felony counts stemming from allegations that he bound young students and then photographed them with semen-filled spoons held at their mouths and 3-inch cockroaches crawling across their faces.

Investigators believe the children didn't realize that they were being victimized, thinking they were playing a game.

Berndt pleaded not guilty to the charges and is being held on $23 million bail while he awaits trial, expected next year.

The Los Angeles Unified School District found itself caught between protecting children and protecting the legal rights of a teacher who had been accused of -- but not formally charged with -- serious crimes against children.

Under California's due process for teachers, the school district could have kept Berndt on paid administrative leave, but it would have had to engage in lengthy legal wrangling to remove him from his position. That process could have taken months, even years, and there are no exceptions for teachers accused of sex crimes against children.

Outraged by the Berndt case, California state Sen. Alex Padilla drafted a bill this year that would have allowed a faster way for schools to fire teachers accused of the most heinous crimes against children.

"We were very specific to those serious and egregious crimes," Padilla said of the bill. "Sex, drugs, violence involving students. These are no-brainers."

While senators overwhelmingly voted in support of Senate Bill 1530, it was met with strong opposition from the powerful California Teachers Association.

The teachers' union says that Padilla's bill would have eliminated essential legal protections for teachers and that it believes the current system is an appropriate process.

In the halls of the state Capitol, Assemblymember Wilmer Amina Carter veered sharply away from CNN's camera without stopping to answer questions about her refusal to cast a vote on Padilla's bill.

Her aide swung a palm over the camera, saying, "no comment."

Carter is one of 11 members of the California State Assembly Education Committee, which considered SB1530 after it passed the state Senate. The bill needed a simple majority from the committee before it could go on to the full Assembly.

But the bill failed by one vote. Four members -- including Carter -- were present but abstained from the vote.

"I think it's spineless, and I think it's gutless," said former state Sen. Gloria Romero, who used to head the Education Committee.

"They go there to vote, not to remain silent when their name's called. That, to me, is what's disgusting," said Romero, who now works to reform California's educational system with Democrats for Education Reform.

By refusing to vote, Romero said, the lawmakers can avoid looking bad to their constituents while keeping the campaign contributions from California's powerful education unions flowing. She said she believes the four lawmakers abstained "out of fear and intimidation that those campaign dollars will no longer flow their way."

Those members of the Assembly's Education Committee who voted "no" or didn't cast a vote received more campaign contributions from teachers' unions than their fellow committee members except the chairman, according to data from Maplight, which bills itself as a nonprofit, nonpartisan research group dedicated to looking at money's influence on politics.

From January 2009 to May 2012, "teachers' unions gave 5.4 times as much (campaign contributions) to the committee members who voted 'no' versus the ones who voted 'yes,' " said Daniel Newman, Maplight's co-founder and president. "The people who voted 'yes' got much less money than the people who voted 'no' and voted 'no vote.' You can see how the money correlates with the vote. It shows interest groups that invest in politics buy results."

The California Teachers Association maintains that its campaign contributions to lawmakers were not the driving factor in convincing them to vote down or not vote on the measure. It described the bill as "unnecessary legislation that would have eroded (teachers') rights during dismissal proceedings."

But Newman says it's all part of a corrupt system across the country in which lawmakers spend much of their time in office raising money for campaigns. That makes them have to bend to campaign contributions in the "corrupt system of money-dominated politics," he said.

"This pattern of contribution is very similar on bill after bill, on topic after topic, whether it affects unions, banks, corporations," he said. "On average, the lawmakers vote with the side that tends to give them the most money."

All but one of the four assembly members refused repeated requests for comment about why they abstained from voting on the measure. Assemblymember Das Williams explained that he felt that "the bill was too much of an overreach" and he was concerned about its effect on teachers' rights.

Williams said he is now working with Padilla to possibly revive the measure or create a similar measure that addresses his concerns.

But it could be too little too late for the Los Angeles school district, which is facing a lawsuit filed by the mothers of the 23 children at the center of the charges against Berndt.

The lawsuit, filed in July, seeks unspecified damages and school district reforms. It accuses the district of maintaining " a practice and custom of maintaining a 'Culture of Silence' to hide teacher misconduct, and to ignore teacher misconduct."

We Shall Overcome

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