Appeal tribune. (Silverton, Or.) 1999-current, March 15, 2017, Page 3A, Image 3

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    Appeal Tribune Wednesday, March 15, 2017 3A
Oregon agency to audit foster care system
JONATHAN BACH
STATESMAN JOURNAL
The Oregon secretary
of state’s office is starting
an audit on the state’s fos-
ter care program, putting
the child welfare agency
squarely in the middle of
yet another investigation.
Secretary of State Den-
nis Richardson told the
Statesman Journal in an
interview March 7 the au-
dit isn’t meant to punish
the Department of Hu-
man Services, but rather
to aid the agency and poli-
cymakers — to find out
what’s happening and how
to improve.
Land
Continued from Page 1A
nificant changes.
The shift comes at a
time when armed vigilan-
tes — who took over an
Oregon
federal
bird
sanctuary for five weeks
last year in a protest
against federal manage-
ment of public lands —
threatening
violence,
were acquitted by a jury
of their peers. Three of
the defendants were sons
of Cliven Bundy, who
staged a similar armed
standoff in 2014 in Nevada
after refusing to pay the
fees for grazing his cattle
on federal lands.
On the first day of the
new Congress, on a large-
ly party-line vote, Repub-
licans passed a rule that
made it easier to transfer
federal lands by treating
such conveyances as cost
free to the federal govern-
ment even if they reduce
federal revenue from
mining, oil and gas drill-
ing, grazing rights and
other sources. Its author
was Bishop, who said the
rule change “democratiz-
es our process by elimi-
nating bureaucratic red
tape.”
Without the rules
change, members of Con-
gress could have blocked
land transfers by requir-
ing proponents to show
how the lost revenue
would be covered by bud-
get cuts or increased rev-
enue from other sources
under the pay-as-you-go
rules in effect since 2010.
For millions of Ameri-
cans and for groups like
the Sierra Club, The Wil-
derness Society and Mis-
soula, Mont.-based Back-
country Hunters and An-
glers, the aggressive cam-
paign to divest what they
consider to be the national
heritage for possible com-
mercial
development
won’t happen without a
fight.
And they may have an
ally in the new Interior
Department
Secretary
Ryan Zinke, the former
Montana
congressman
who stepped down as a
delegate to the GOP’s na-
tional convention in July
Health
Continued from Page 1A
leave those Medicaid ex-
pansion individuals with-
out coverage,” Oregon
Health Authority spokes-
woman Courtney Warner
Crowell said.
In January, Gov. Kate
Brown announced Oregon
secured a federal waiver
needed for the state’s Me-
dicaid program. On Tues-
day, Brown, a Democrat,
criticized the proposed
Affordable Care Act re-
placement from U.S.
House
Republicans,
Voting
Continued from Page 1A
off sites.
But those sites are not
as numerous or conve-
nient as former polling
places, Devlin said.
Low-income or dis-
abled voters, as well as
people in institutions such
as nursing homes, might
have difficulty procuring
a stamp or making it to a
drop site, he said.
And young people – ac-
customed to conducting
all their business online –
might find a trip to the
A plan has been in the
works to audit DHS since
before he won the election
in November, Richardson
said. It will include best
practices from other
states dealing with child
welfare problems, though
he doesn’t have an exact
timeline on when the audit
will publish.
“I don’t know a lot of
the details yet, because
I’m still learning my job
and I’m not an auditor, but
I am the people’s watch-
dog,” Richardson said.
“They didn’t hire me to be
the best auditor in the
state. They hired me to en-
sure that our audits divi-
sion focuses on those
things that will be of
greatest benefit to the cit-
izens.”
Deputy Secretary of
State Leslie Cummings
said larger audits take
roughly a year. While
Richardson hasn’t been
given an exact date for
publication, he has asked
for “incremental reports”
from staff.
“I want to know, at each
phase, what they’re find-
ing, and we can also
change our focus in mid-
audit if there’s something
discovered that really
needs to be looked at in-
depth,” he said.
Foster care is a subject
near to Richardson. “It’s
one of his hot buttons that
he can’t tolerate the abuse
of foster children,” said
Debra Royal, his chief of
staff.
Richardson and his
wife, Cathy, adopted their
foster daughter, Mary, as
a young girl. She became
the family’s eighth daugh-
ter and is now a physi-
cian’s assistant in Port-
land. “It was difficult
even then, which was
years ago, to deal with the
bureaucracy
involved
with foster care and adop-
tions,” Richardson said.
A Statesman Journal
investigation this year
found that since 2004 re-
views mostly carried out
by DHS staff pointed out
problems the agency had
a hard time fixing. These
so-called critical incident
response team reports
have come into the spot-
light with Senate Bill 819,
which would update the
team and add more out-
side members. A public
hearing on the bill is slat-
ed for March 13 in the
Capitol.
The state agency in
charge of child welfare
services has been a fre-
quent landing spot for
criticism,
with
Gov.
Brown ordering an inde-
pendent review of DHS.
The eight-month review
from consulting firm Pub-
lic Knowledge LLC, pub-
lished last September,
showed a litany of prob-
lems. The review found,
for instance, that the
state’s “response to alle-
gations of abuse in care is
confusing and involves
too many uncoordinated
elements.”
Send questions, com-
ments or news tips to
jbach
@statesman
journal.com or 503-399-
6714. Follow him on Twit-
ter @JonathanMBach.
after the platform lan-
guage cited earlier was
adopted.
However Zinke voted
for the House rules
changes that included the
no-cost land transfers lan-
guage.
So far, the movement to
return federal lands to the
states has been met with
defiance by opponents.
Matt Keller, senior di-
rector of conservation
with The Wilderness Soci-
ety, said Bishop’s 13-page
memo to the Budget Com-
mittee laying out a variety
of policies he hopes it will
adopt was buried in the
budget process “hoping
nobody would notice.”
“Make no mistake,” he
said. “America is wide
awake to these assaults
and will not let a bully like
Chairman Bishop use
hard-earned
taxpayer
dollars to ensure oil, gas
and mining industries can
lay waste to the forests,
parks and refuges that be-
long to us all.”
Back Country Hunters
and Anglers CEO Land
Tawney said his group
planned to “rally the
masses: hunters, anglers,
kayakers, bikers, moun-
tain bikers, campers. And
we’ll do that through state
rallies at the legislative
level all across the West.”
The Sierra Club’s “Our
Wild America” campaign
says public lands should
be held “as a ‘public trust’
for and by all Americans,”
and helped organize a pro-
test at the Montana state
capital in Helena. The Si-
erra Club calls for further
expansions of national
monuments and protec-
tion of more wilderness
areas.
Countering that vision,
Bishop’s memo to the
Budget Committee says
his committee will work
with the Trump admini-
stration “to identify pre-
viously declared monu-
ments that are suitable to
be rescinded or dimin-
ished in size.” He calls for
the Bureau of Land Man-
agement to create a
searchable database “of
all lands that have been
identified for disposal.”
Bishop said his committee
“does not support acquir-
ing additional lands until
basic responsibilities are
met on the 80 million
acres managed by” the
National Park Service or
adding to the 193 million
acres managed by the U.S.
Forest Service.
Bishop notes that the
park service’s deferred
maintenance
backlog,
now nearly $12 billion,
suggests
misplaced
“management priorities,”
rather than inadequate
funding.
Then-Interior secre-
tary Sally Jewell issued
an order in January 2016
ending new coal leases on
federal land until an envi-
ronmental impact state-
ment was completed
which would look at coal’s
impact on climate change
and “the social cost of car-
bon.” Bishop has called
for the Trump administra-
tion to revoke the morato-
rium on new leases and
narrow the scope of the
impact statement.
Congress appropriated
a one-time cash infusion
of $622 million to help the
Forest Service meet wild-
fire costs last year, a strat-
egy Obama’s director of
Management and Budget,
Shaun Donovan, called “a
Band-Aid approach.” The
problem of “fire borrow-
ing” that takes money
from other Forest Service
accounts to fight cata-
strophic wild wires has
been debated for years.
Bishop would make it fed-
eral policy to treat wild-
fires like any other natu-
ral disaster and let the ser-
vice have access to the
Federal Emergency Man-
agement Agency Disaster
Relief Fund, avoiding
fund transfers when its
fire suppression budget is
exceeded.
Eight days before leav-
ing office, Obama added
48,000 acres to the Cas-
cades-Siskiyou National
Monument in Jackson and
Klamath counties in Ore-
gon and Siskiyou County
in California to the delight
of some environmental-
ists but angering others.
The expansion plan
had drawn opposition in a
region where federal land
use issues led to the
armed standoff in south-
east Oregon’s Malheur
National Wildlife Refuge
last year.
Siskiyou County Board
of Supervisors chairman
Michael N. Kobseff said
the county was officially
opposed to the expansion
just as it had been to the
original designation by
Bill Clinton 16 years be-
fore because of its effect
on wildfire-fighting and
property rights.
“It creates a more vola-
tile environment with the
government on your back
doorstep,” Kobseff add-
ed. “It’s not a win for liber-
ty.”
Rep. Doug LaMalfa, R-
Calif., who represents the
area, said the expansion
was a misuse of the Antiq-
uities Act, the 1906 law
signed by President Theo-
dore Roosevelt that he
used to protect the Grand
Canyon, among other na-
tional treasures. LaMalfa
said he would work to
have the Cascades monu-
ment expansion rescind-
ed.
Just weeks before he
left office, Obama also
created the 1.3 million-
acre Bears Ears National
Monument, long sought
by a coalition of Native
American tribes, in Bish-
op’s home state of Utah.
Bishop has been a critic of
the Antiquities Act, which
allows presidents to uni-
laterally designate pro-
tected land without input
from Congress or local
governments. Bishop had
opposed Bears Ears. He is
working on legislation
that would require local
consent before a monu-
ment could be estab-
lished.
Bears Ears is in Chaf-
fetz’s district and he has
asked Trump to rescind
the designation. Along
with his plan for selling
off excess land, now with-
drawn, Chaffetz also in-
troduced a bill to get fed-
eral Forest Service and
Bureau of Land Manage-
ment rangers off federal
lands and let local law en-
forcement patrol them.
Its rationale is to mini-
mize conflicts between
federal agents and local
residents like what hap-
pened at Malheur, he has
said.
The bill Chaffetz with-
drew would have autho-
rized the sale at fair mar-
ket value of BLM land
identified in 1997 as ex-
cess and disposable. That
includes 21,400 acres in
Maricopa County, Ariz.,
worth an estimated $12.6
million in 1997; 560 acres
in Larimer County, Colo,
estimated at $224,000; and
one acre of private tim-
berland in Marion County,
Oregon, worth $1,000.
It also includes 55,889
acres with an estimated
1997 value of $5.3 million
in Chaffetz’s district.
Land Tawney of the
Backcountry
Hunters
says he still believes a
democratic society is
driven to act “by the peo-
ple who show up,” and he’s
convinced that large num-
bers don’t support the
proposed
land
give-
aways.
“The response from
hunters and angler’s to
Rep. Chaffetz’s bill to dis-
pose of 3 million acres of
public lands was swift and
unapologetic,” he said by
email this week. “In un-
precedented fashion, he
withdrew his bill within
days of its introduction.
Rep. Bishop should heed
the call of American
sportsmen and abandon
his misguided legislation
or he’ll likewise experi-
ence the ire of public
lands users, including
those from his home dis-
trict in Utah.”
which is being called the
American Health Care
Act.
“The Republicans’ pro-
posed health care bill rep-
resents a radical change
that is shortsighted and
moves health care back-
ward,
not
forward-
,”Brown said in a state-
ment.
“It would reduce Ore-
gonians’ access to care
and increase costs for
women and seniors,” she
said. “I am especially con-
cerned about how this bill
would negatively jeopar-
dize our state’s budget
and economy, especially
in rural Oregon.”
House
Republicans
took to The Wall Street
Journal in support of the
proposal. U.S. Rep. Greg
Walden, R-Ore., chairs the
House Energy and Com-
merce Committee and
wrote an editorial pub-
lished in Tuesday’s news-
paper with U.S. Rep. Kev-
in Brady, R-Texas.
“Our fiscally responsi-
ble plan will lower costs
for patients and begin re-
turning control from
Washington back to the
states, so that they can tai-
lor their health-care sys-
tems to their unique com-
munities,” the two wrote.
“The bill will improve ac-
cess to care and restore
the free market, increas-
post office onerous.
“They are just not into
the stamp culture,” Dem-
brow said.
Senate Bill 683 would
include
business-class
postage on ballot return
envelopes. That means
the state would be
charged only if the ballot
is returned through the
mail.
It would take effect
with elections held after
Jan. 1, 2019. It would cost
about $300,000 in the 2017-
2019 budget, and about
$1.3 million for each 2-
year budget after that.
Not all committee
members were convinced
of the need.
“It seems absolutely
unreasonable that we
would incur millions of
dollars of expenses for
postage, essentially to ac-
knowledge that we’ve be-
come so dysfunctional in
society, and our ballot
casting is of so little value,
that we couldn’t cover the
cost of a stamp,” commit-
tee vice-chairman and
Senate Republican Lead-
er Ted Ferrioli said.
The committee did not
take action on the bill.
tloew@statesmanjour-
nal.com, 503-399-6779 or
follow at Twitter.com/Tra-
cy_Loew
ing innovation, competi-
tion and choice.”
Send questions, com-
ments or news tips to
jbach
@statesman
journal.com or 503-399-
6714. Follow him on Twit-
ter @JonathanMBach.
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