Wednesday, December 20, 2006

So Where Will Gordly (I-S23) Be Next Session? A: Everywhere!

Reduced to an army of one by Ben Westlund's "defection" to the Democratic Party of Oregon, state Sen. Avel Gordly (S23) will be the lonely independent, the Bernie Sanders if you will, of the legislature. Back when Westlund was still between political bedfellows, there was talk of a mini-caucus between them, using their moderacy and enviable intellectual and political skills to wield power beyond their numbers.

So much for that idea, although Westlund will likely remain sympathetic to both Gordly's position and her policy ideas. And while Gordly will continue to refuse attendance at any meeting not open to the public (which likely will include Democratic caucus meetings), her voting record is a dead giveaway to her practical alliance with the Senate's left wing. On the subject of legislative nonpartisanship in general, Gordly supports the recommendations of the Public Commission on the Oregon Legislature released last month, perhaps picking up the torch left by outgoing Senator Charlie Ringo.

Beyond that sort of meta-legislating, however, what kind of agenda does she have for the 2007 session? If only everyone in Salem were as organized and forward thinking about their plans! We've asked several legislators what they intend to focus on next year, and for the most part have gotten back vague statements of principle and broad areas of interest. Not Gordly--if you want to know what she'll be up to, all you had to do was ask:
Mental Health/Health Care and Access: Champion Governor Kulongoski’s priorities to replace the Oregon State Hospital and to build a community-based network of treatment, housing and related services that meets the needs of Oregonians throughout the state. Continue to work toward the elimination of racial and ethnic health disparities in Oregon.

Education: Continue to champion full funding for Head Start for all eligible Oregon children, and for Governor Kulongoski’s Education Enterprise, serving Pre-K through Higher Education. Monitor implementation of SB 300 (Expanded Options) and SB 103 (Multicultural Curriculum/Multicultural Policy). Continue to champion cultural competence and proficiency in education with a particular focus on the quality of schools of education, public and private. Champion increased financial support for the Portland Teacher Program (a partnership with Portland State University, Portland Community College and Portland Public Schools) as a successful model for training and retaining teachers of color in Oregon.

Economic and Community Development: Governor Kulongoski’s Budget includes an additional $ 5.6 million for small business services, including funds for minority and women-owned businesses and businesses in distressed areas. Champion inclusion of these funds in the final legislative budget. Monitor Department of Transportation initiative participation of women and minority-owned businesses in contracting opportunities.

Administration of Justice/Public Safety/Civil Rights/Human Rights: Reintroduce Police Use of Deadly Force and Grand Jury Reform legislation. Work in partnership with Attorney General and Albina Ministerial Alliance. Monitor introduction of legislation and policy discussions regarding immigration/family unification issues. Introduce legislative concepts from Mayor Tom Potter’s Mental Health/Public Safety Panel. Support full restoration of Advocacy Commissions.

Environmental Justice: Reintroduce Environmental Justice legislation and partner with Governor Kulongoski’s office to add environmental justice to his administration’s agenda.

Housing: Champion opportunities for home ownership and affordable housing, particularly housing for vulnerable populations. Continue work with the Oregon Law Center and the Portland Tribune related to unfair evictions of racial/ethnic/low income populations from Rose City Village. Introduce legislation as appropriate.

Other significant legislation for 2007: Legislation will be introduced/supported regarding predatory patrol towing, child abduction, medical record access, prohibiting smoking in bars and restaurants. I support the regulation of payday lenders. Many of these lenders are clustered in NE and SE Portland. Monitor and participate in prevailing wage policy discussion.

Concurrent Resolutions: Resolutions will be introduced honoring the legacies of three Multnomah County Judges: the Honorable Mercedes Deiz, the Honorable Roosevelt Robinson and the Honorable Clifford Freeman. Resolutions will be introduced honoring activist/organizers Halim Rahsaan and Carl Flipper, and Tribal elder and Wasco speaker Madeline Bruno McInturff.

Portland State University Legislative Interns:
The first class of interns, all six from the PSU Department of Black Studies, will work on Senator Gordly’s public policy agenda. These interns are: Meggin Clay, Andrew “Julian” Jenkins, Chyerel R. Mayes, Alexis Romanos, Sam Sachs and Sabina C. Shaugnessy.
Clearly, if anyone else is telling their constituents they're going to "hit the ground running" in January, they'd better have their best Nikes on if they want to break out of the gate ahead of Avel Gordly. Whether you happen to approve of her agenda or not, you have to like the attitude of someone who comes in prepared.