September-October 2014
Dear Friends,

This fall  I've been enjoying opportunities to visit local organizations, like these: Daily Bread, the Food for Lane County food pantry in north Eugene; Pearl Buck Center; RAIN and FertiLab business incubator; Lane Independent Living Alliance (LILA); and the garden at River Road Elementary School. Campaign season brings additional demands on my time; it also brings a certain "edginess" to conversation about current events. Nevertheless, our office is in full swing working on legislative topics that I hope to propose in the future, like reducing college student debit card fees, putting tighter controls on public contracting, and encouraging more energy conservation projects.

State agencies are preparing budget information for the Governor's official budget that will be proposed to the Legislature in 2015, and representatives of local and state organizations are telling me their stories about bureaucratic hurdles and funding needs, like A Family for Every Child, LTD, Pearl Buck Center, Relief Nursery, United Way, and Lane County.

I'm kicking myself for letting blackberry season go by without picking berries for cobbler and freezing; how did I let that happen? Gloves, bucket, and fruit boxes are ready for next year.

LILAC award at LILA
 Lane Independent Living Alliance presented LILAC awards
to Michael Reilly representing TrackTown USA, and to me.
In This Issue
Silicon shire and business
What's happening ... right here
Fire season and flood risk
Green stuff at I-5/Beltline
A different p,o.v.
Earthquake monitors; avoiding foreclosure
Moving scams
New faces at the office
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Silicon Shire? It's Eugene
Playing off the name for California's high-tech business hub, "Silicon Valley," Portland has been dubbed the Silicon Forest and now Eugene has earned the nickname Silicon Shire! Eugene has become home to an increasing number of startup tech businesses.

RAIN's Executive Director, Jim Coonan, says there are four key components that make an area attractive to tech startups: the presence of higher education, a high quality of life, a low cost environment, and technological advancements. Eugene meets all of these qualifications. Read the article from Business in Focus Magazine.  **Rain=Regional Accelerator and Innovation Network

Local game developers hosted "Indie Game Con" in early October, highlighting Eugene's growing digital gaming industry.  The convention featured an art show, as well as opportunities to try out 15 different games created by local developers. It's exciting to see events like this being organized by local entrepreneurs!

Helping businesses grow.  A challenge for business start-up and expansion: figuring out how to get the funding to take that next step.  A recent report released by John Hull and the Business Innovation Institute at the U of O shows that there are numerous sources of capital available in Oregon for entrepreneurs and startup businesses, from traditional funding mechanisms to accelerators like Regional Accelerator and Innovation Network (RAIN), and everything in-between. However, there often seems to be a gap in knowledge or understanding of where to seek funding.  (the full report: Capital Scan)
Good ideas and good work
So much creative energy and good work! Here's a sample of what I've been doing the last couple of months.
  • UO walking tour to see construction projects underway: the Science Library renovation, and new student center.  These projects are an economic engine for jobs in Lane County.  I also got a briefing on future construction plans to upgrade the 75-year old Honors College, renovate chemistry labs, provide better space for architecture and allied arts, and other deferred maintenance and enrollment growth projects.
  • United Way legislative breakfast, to hear from more than a dozen local organizations on their programs (and challenges and hopes) to serve residents of Lane County, including shelter, food, physical and behavioral health, and services for children and seniors.
  • Oregon Bioscience Association, to hear about Oregon's commitment to bioscience infrastructure and medical research
  • Oregon has 517 school gardens. At River Road Elementary (El Camino del Rio) the kids are enjoying the fruits of their labor, and learning about plants, farming, and nutrition. Lettuce wraps with calendula petals, kale, sunflower seeds, tomatoes, sweet peppers...
  • Pearl Buck center, to see where they provide services for a number of local businesses and employment and training for adults with developmental disabilities: sorting and special packaging facilities for organic and other products, workshops for assembly, packaging, bulk mailing, and engraving. 
School Garden at River Road Elementary
Harvesting sunflower seeds
for salad
School Garden at River Road Elementary
School Garden:
instant salad
at River Road Elementary
School Garden at River Road Elementary
Another salad wrap
Jobs at Pearl Buck
Pearl Buck: packaging
New production line
Fire season and flood risk
For a second consecutive year, the state has exhausted its $25 million large-fire insurance policy, as well as the $20 million deductible, as explained by Nancy Hirsch, Chief of Fire Protection, Oregon Department of Forestry. The legislature will undoubtedly hear a request from the Department for additional funding later in the year, and continue discussions about the implications of severe recent seasons, and our insurance strategy for coming years.

Beyond the financial costs of the severe fire season and loss of structures, vegetation, and wildlife, there is now an increased risk of flooding in areas downstream of the wildfire locations. Homeowners and business owners in these areas are encouraged to purchase flood insurance.

Information contacts: Flood Insurance: Deborah Farmer, for FEMA Region X, | Hazard Questions: Christine Shirley, Oregon Dept. of Land Conservation and Development, 503-373-0050 ext. 250
Oregon Office of Emergency Mgmt: Kim Lippert or Cory Grogan, 503-378-2911 ext. 22283.
Green stuff at I-5 construction site
Did you see the I-5 and Beltline interchange a few weeks ago, when it looked GREEN? That's where ODOT is adding new off-ramps, a new on-ramp, and a new bridge. Here's the story about the "green stuff."

Our ODOT spokesperson explains this is a technique to prevent soil erosion as we head into the rainy season.  They spray the area with a mixture of grass seeds, fibrous mulch, fertilizer, and moisture -- dyed green to help them see their work as they apply it.  It sprouts very quickly to hold the soil in place until the contractor completes the landscaping at a later time.
A different POV (Point Of View)
CSGTollFellows This summer I was selected as one of 45 people from around the country as a Council of State Governments (CSG) Henry Toll Fellow for the Class of 2014.  The CSG program is considered "one of the nation's premier leadership development programs for state government officials." I saw it as an opportunity to learn and collaborate in a new setting, away from the daily hubbub of political party, and state and regional pressures and biases.  For five+ days, we spent twelve hours together, in Lexington, Kentucky: about 30 elected legislators, 10 executive and legislative branch staff, and 5 judges.  Lectures, motivational speakers, indoor and outdoor mental and physical agility challenges, it was designed to be "a stretch." It was! (News release)
Legislators in Salem in September
A couple of highlights
Avoiding foreclosure: One of our actions on the Emergency Board was to increase funds for the Oregon Foreclosure Avoidance Program, to help homeowners "under water" and still feeling the impacts of the Great Recession by providing them with community-based, nonprofit housing counselors when they are facing foreclosure.  These counseling services are crucial to getting all parties a successful outcome.  I participated in a group that helped establish this program during the 2013 session to provide homeowners with access to community-based nonprofit housing counselors.

Earthquakes: rumbling and research. I testified in three House and Senate Committees with UO Professor Doug Toomey on Oregon's opportunity to purchase seismic monitoring sensors that would be useful as part of a west coast early earthquake warning system. The array of 15 seismometers was put in place by the National Science Foundation and operated by the University of Oregon. They are important for both scientific research and public safety. For example, bridge and rail crossing gates could be closed, gas pipeline valves shut, and buildings evacuated. A recent study showed that 1,000 schools in Oregon would collapse in the event of a magnitude 9 earthquake.  (more information) 

The "Great Oregon Shakeout" took place on October 16, the largest earthquake drill in history. Over 300,000 Oregonians participated along with millions worldwide. More information here.
Tell your friends about ... Moving scams
Hundreds of Oregonians are affected by moving scams every year, and recently there has been an increase in shipments being hijacked by "rogue movers," as reported by Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum.  The AG's office provides tips to avoid moving scams, including being wary of really low bids, checking on the mover's equipment and storage space, and using the consumer complaints database. (full list of ways to avoid moving scams)
Who's on first?
Gillian on the job
Gillian on the job
Gillian Harger joined us as a Legislative Aide in October.  Gillian received a B.A. in Diplomacy and World Affairs from Occidental College, Los Angeles, in 2014, where she also held several positions addition to her student work. She completed internships at the World Affairs Council of Oregon, the Permanent Mission of Guatemala to the United Nations, and at Strategies 360 working with legislative and other public officials.

Emily Farrell
Emily's back to help
Amanda D'Souza, a graduate student in the UO Planning, Public Policy, and Management program, completed her internship in September. She was a great help in coordinating our research around college student debit card issues, and working with the federal Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  We also say goodbye to Becky Nelson this month.

Emily Farrell, a Eugene attorney who worked with us in 2013, is helping with research on manufactured housing, criminal background checks, court procedures, and other issues related to the criminal justice and legal system. 
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Representative Nancy Nathanson | PO Box 41895 | Eugene | OR | 97404