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THE BULLETIN • Tuesday, April 19, 2011 C3

O Congressman Wu draws challenger State Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian announces candidacy By Jonathan J. Cooper The Associated Press

BEAVERTON — An Oregon congressman who has acknowledged inappropriate behavior during the 2010 election campaign will face a primary challenge in the next election. State Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian said Monday he will seek the party’s nomination in 2012, taking on Democratic Rep. David Wu, who has been battling media reports about erratic behavior that led several key staff members to quit. Avakian, 40, refrained from di-

rectly criticizing Wu, but his remarks hinted at a campaign message that will question the incumbent’s leadership and representation. “Some of the challenges that we have been facing as a nation and a state require more than showing up to give what might be a good vote for the progressives,” Avakian told dozens of cheering supporters at a Portland Community College campus in Beaverton. Avakian’s campaign said he has the support of a number of key Democrats, including state House Demo-

cratic Leader Dave Hunt and Metro Council Chair Tom Hughes. He also lined up support from the Democratic committee chairs in two of the district’s five counties. Wu was the first Chinese-American to serve in Congress and has tapped the Asian community for support and donations in his past campaigns. But Stephen Ying, executive director and former president of the Chinese Consolidated Benevolent Association, threw his support to Avakian on Monday.

Ying told The Associated Press that his decision has nothing to do with the questions about Wu’s behavior but is driven by his past work with Avakian on civil rights issues. “He was Chinese, we thought when he went to Congress he could help us on the civil rights issues,” Ying said of Wu. “But we haven’t seen that in the past.” Wu spokesman Erik Dorey said the congressman has been “one of the leading voices on human rights and civil liberties for more than a decade,” as an opponent of the Patriot Act, a supporter of Chinese Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo and a proponent of Internet freedom.

Two-buoy system boosts safety on Columbia River bar

O  B Bathroom fire forces school evacuation PORTLAND — A smoky bathroom trash can fire forced the evacuation of nearly 700 students and caused an estimated $20,000 damage at a suburban Portland school. KOIN-TV reported that firefighters were called to the Beaverton Health & Science School in Hillsboro just before noon Monday. Investigators say they believe the fire was burning for some time before crews arrived. No injuries were reported but classes were out for about 30 minutes. Hillsboro fire investigators will be looking at security video, interviewing witnesses and examining evidence left at the scene to determine the cause.

Merkley visits China with delegation PORTLAND — Sen. Jeff Merkley is part of a congressional delegation visiting China during the April break. His office in Washington, D.C., says the delegation is meeting with government officials, touring Ameri- Sen. can invest- Jeff Merkley ment sites and looking at clean-energy projects. They’re talking about trade, foreign policy and human rights. Merkley was recently appointed to a congressional commission to monitor human rights and the development of the rule of law in China.

Farmhands win appeal on housing SALEM — A federal appeals court has ruled that a major fruit grower violated Oregon’s minimum wage law by deducting the cost of housing from seasonal farmworker paychecks. The Capital Press in Salem reported the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a federal judge who last year found that Bear Creek Orchards of Medford was allowed to make such deductions. Bear Creek is the fruitgrowing division of Harry & David, the specialty food retailer based in Medford that filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March. A spokeswoman for the Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries said the appeals court ruling applies to other farms that want to deduct housing costs from minimumwage paychecks. — From wire reports

Rick Bowmer / The Associated Press

State Labor Commissioner Brad Avakian announces he will challenge Democratic Rep. David Wu for the party’s nomination in 2012 during a news conference Monday in Beaverton.

By Deeda Schroeder The Daily Astorian

The Associated Press ile photo

Medical marijuana is displayed the Cannabis Cafe in Portland. Three former state troopers in the Legislature feel use of the state’s medical marijuana law is out of control and are trying to tighten the rules. Marijuana advocates say they will go to the mat to stop some of the proposed changes.

Lawmakers trying to keep medical pot reform alive Bill’s proponents want to lower amount users can have on hand; foes vow to fight changes By Jeff Barnard The Associated Press

GRANTS PASS — Three lawmakers who are former Oregon state troopers are scrambling to keep alive a bill that would cut the amount of medical marijuana patients and growers can have on hand, give police greater access to confidential lists of cardholders, and make it harder for minors to use the drug. A bill will go to the House Rules Committee after it became clear another would fail to get through the normal committee process on the Senate side before this Thursday’s deadline, Thomas Cuomo, chief of staff to Rep. Andy Olson, R-Albany, said Monday. The Rules Committee is a refuge for bills that are slow in getting traction. It has later deadlines for sending bills to the floor. Olson is co-chairman.

‘Intent of voters’ Arguing that patients, growers and caregivers are abusing the medical marijuana law approved by voters in 1998, Olson and two other former state troopers in the Legislature have been working on a series of reforms. The others are Rep. Wayne Krieger, R-Gold Beach, and Rep. Jeff Barker, D-Aloha. “I want to go back to the intent of what voters wanted to do in 1998 and move that forward,” said Olson, a retired state police lieutenant who ran narcotics investigations. “Right now, I believe it is out of control.” Marijuana advocates said they

IN THE LEGISLATURE

“There is no political will, no social mandate, and no budget to wipe out medical marijuana in Oregon.” — Bob Wolfe, Oregon Marijuana Policy Initiative

would go to the mat to defend the amount of marijuana patients and growers can have on hand and keep police from going on fishing expeditions in confidential lists of patients, growers or caregivers. And they see no reason to make it harder for minors to get medicine that adults can have. “The marijuana genie is out of the bottle,” said Bob Wolfe of the Oregon Marijuana Policy Initiative. “We have got to stop trying to build a stronger bottle. It will not work. There is no political will, no social mandate, and no budget to wipe out medical marijuana in Oregon.” More than 38,000 Oregonians hold medical marijuana patient cards, 1 percent of the population. They have to grow their own or get it from an authorized grower, who cannot charge beyond expenses. Patients are limited to six mature plants and a pound and a half of processed cannabis at one time. Voters turned down a measure last year that would have allowed cardholders to buy marijuana from dispensaries.

In other legislatures Legislatures in several of the 16 states where medical marijuana is legal are looking at ways to make it easier for police to distinguish between the good guys and the bad guys.

Nevada is considering a pilot program that would have the state Board of Pharmacy certify commercial processors serving medical marijuana patients. The Washington House approved a bill designed to bring medical marijuana dispensaries out of a legal gray area by licensing cannabis producers and protecting patients and physicians from arrest. Colorado is considering a bill to shine a spotlight on caregivers, creating a database accessible by police that would include whether their pot is being grown. The Montana Legislature tried to overturn the whole program approved by voters in 2004, but Gov. Brian Schweitzer vetoed the bill. In Oregon, Senate Bill 777 was headed for a Wednesday work session in the Senate Health Care Committee, but Sen. Floyd Prozanski, D-Eugene, said a 48-hour rule made it impossible for it to go through a required session in the Judiciary Committee he chairs before the Thursday deadline for bills. He added that any changes to the law, which had been approved by voters, needed to go through a measured, public process and develop consensus. Wolfe said he only got a look at the proposed reforms on Thursday, and had fundamental objections to several.

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ASTORIA — When Julie Thomas first came to the mouth of the Columbia River a couple of years ago to talk buoys with a group of mariners, it didn’t take long for the bar pilots, fishermen, the U.S. Coast Guard and other river users to explain how she could help them. There was just one wave and weather buoy outside the bar, and it often quit functioning after winter’s early storms ran through, they told Thomas, program manager of the Coastal Data Information Program at Scripps Institute of Oceanography in San Diego. “There were no observations for waves in the area for long periods of time,” she said. A smaller Waverunner buoy could be more durable, Thomas told them, and could still provide live data about conditions on the bar. And two of them — one near the bar and another farther offshore to gauge incoming waves — would be even better. She could help them make that happen.

Reliable data Now, that two-buoy system is in place. Last week, the second CDIP Waverunner buoy was deployed, laying sensors along the approach to the river bar and giving mariners the kind of reliable data they needed. It was the second phase of the Columbia River Bar Safety Technology project, using real-time wave data sensors and state-of-the-art predictive modeling to give an accurate picture of current and future conditions on the bar. It’s a project that’s been years in the making, bringing together several local and regional groups and interests under a common goal — improved safety. “The total picture has been completed,” Thomas said. Now, the inner Clatsop Spit

buoy will measure local seas close to the treacherous bar while the new buoy will give a picture of waves an hour or more out as they are heading in. “Mariners have a really good depiction of what conditions are,” she added.

Merkley backs project In September 2009, the first of the small wave buoys was installed just outside the bar near the South Jetty by a Tongue Point Job Corps crew on the retired Coast Guard Cutter Ironwood. Funding came from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, who knew the data could be useful with their ongoing dredging in the area. The new offshore buoy is approximately 30 nautical miles west of the mouth of the river, a prime spot to contribute crucial offshore data about wave height and direction to the data streams. That’s important because of the thousands of tons of cargo, fishing fleets and recreational users that traverse the area all year round, said Sen. Jeff Merkley. “These buoys allow us to work with the waves to ensure safer passages for ships and their crews and keep cargo moving efficiently across the Columbia River bar. I’ve supported this project since I came into office, and I’ll continue to push for federal funding to keep these buoys in the water,” Merkley said. Ongoing funding will be needed to maintain the buoys year after year, and several people have stepped up to keep the project a priority at the federal level, Thomas said. Tom Towslee, state communications director for Sen. Ron Wyden, said the need is clear. “It is very simple. These buoys save lives,” Towlsee said.

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Bulletin Daily Paper 04/19/11  

The Bulletin Daily print edition for Tuesday April 19, 2011