The Blue Mountain eagle. (John Day, Or.) 1972-current, January 24, 2018, Page A7, Image 7

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Blue Mountain Eagle
Wednesday, January 24, 2018
Oregon joins challenge of net neutrality repeal
New York AG:
2 million fake
comments found
By Paris Achen
Capital Bureau
Capital Bureau photo
The Legislature could take up a bill that would put
Oregon’s potential membership in the National
Popular Vote Compact on the November ballot.
Oregon may join
national popular
vote compact
By Paris Achen
Capital Bureau
A bill introduced in the
Legislature Monday would
enlist Oregon in the Nation-
al Popular Vote Compact
contingent on voter approv-
al in November.
By joining the compact,
states agree to cast their
Electoral College votes only
for presidential candidates
who win the national popu-
lar vote.
A national popular vote
would have changed the
outcome of the 2016 gen-
eral election, which put
President Donald Trump in
Since 2009, Senate Pres-
ident Peter Courtney has
blocked similar proposals
four times in Oregon. Last
year, the Salem Democrat
said he would support a bill
to join the compact only if
the decision was endorsed
by Oregon voters.
“I would be open to …
sending the question to the
ballot,” Courtney said in
May. “If you believe in the
popular vote, then let the
popular vote decide the is-
This year’s bill, filed by
the Senate Rules Commit-
tee, meets that condition: It
requires voters to approve
or reject a referendum to
enact the national popular
Ten states — including
Washington and California
— and the District of Co-
lumbia have already signed
the compact. They represent
30.7 percent of the electoral
The agreement takes
effect when enough states
have joined to cumulatively
make up a majority of the
electoral votes.
The popular vote move-
ment took on new life after
President Trump won elec-
tion by a 77-vote margin
in the Electoral College,
but lost the popular vote to
Hillary Clinton by almost 3
Rep. Bill Post, R-Keiz-
er, said he opposes the bill.
Any attempt to obligate
votes to the national popu-
lar vote would likely face
a challenge in court and be
“Are you kidding? No,
it is unconstitutional,” Post
Oregon has joined 20 oth-
er states and the District of
Columbia in launching a le-
gal challenge to the Federal
Communications Commis-
sion’s decision Dec. 14 to
repeal a rule barring internet
providers from blocking or
charging more for access to
one website over another.
The lawsuit, filed Tues-
day in the U.S. Court of Ap-
peals in Washington, D.C.,
asks the court to overturn
the decision to repeal “net
neutrality” and to find it un-
lawful. The suit alleges that
the decision by the FCC was
an abuse of discretion and
that it violated the U.S. Con-
stitution and the Commu-
nications Act of 1934. Fur-
File photo
Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum
thermore, attorneys general
of the states argue that the
action conflicted with no-
tice-and-comment rulemak-
ing requirements.
Other plaintiffs in the
case are the attorneys gen-
eral of New York, Califor-
nia, Connecticut, Delaware,
Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Ken-
tucky, Maine, Maryland,
Massachusetts, Minnesota,
Mississippi, New Mexico,
North Carolina, Pennsylva-
nia, Rhode Island, Vermont,
Virginia and Washington.
The FCC commission-
ers voted 3-to-2 to scrap the
rule approved by the FCC in
2015. The commission’s two
Democrats voted against it.
An investigation by New
York Attorney General Eric
Schneiderman’s office found
that commenters to the FCC
on the proposed rule change
illegally used the identities
of Americans from around
the country to give feedback
on net neutrality. His office
has identified at least 2 mil-
lion fake comments.
Oregon Attorney Gen-
eral Ellen Rosenblum has
said the repeal would have
“lasting negative impacts
for our economy and al-
most every aspect of our
lives” and would “incen-
tivize Big Cable over other
Rosenblum spearheaded
a letter from 18 state attor-
neys general to the FCC in
early December urging com-
missioners to delay a vote
until investigators could de-
termine whether fraud was
committed in the FCC com-
ment process.
Supporters of the rule
change argue that it will ben-
efit consumers by spurring
more competition between
broadband providers and
cutting internet providers’
Subsidized passenger train ridership declines after derailment
By Paris Achen
Capital Bureau
Ridership of state-subsi-
dized Amtrak Cascades pas-
senger trains has plummeted
in the past month since an
Amtrak train derailment just
south of Tacoma, according
to the Oregon Department of
That’s significant to tax-
payers because the state sub-
sidizes each ride to the tune
of about $118. The fewer
tickets riders buy, the great-
er the amount that the state
has to chip in, said Hal Gard,
ODOT rail and public transit
division administrator.
The number of rides
was down 2,791 in Decem-
ber from the previous year.
Ridership typically surges
during December as people
visit family for the holidays,
Gard said. The monetary loss
of the decline has yet to be
calculated, but ODOT offi-
Courtesy photo/Oregon Department
of Transportation
An Amtrak Cascades train
leaves Portland’s station in
this file photo. Oregon saw
its subsidized passenger
train ridership plummet in
December following a fatal
train derailment south of
Tacoma Dec. 18.
cials said they plan to request
reimbursement for any losses
from Amtrak.
A spokesperson for Am-
trak was not immediately
available for comment late
Thursday afternoon.
The Dec. 18 derailment
caused three fatalities and
62 injuries and shut down
southbound Interstate 5 south
of Tacoma for 57 hours. The
National Transportation Safe-
ty Board is investigating the
cause of the crash. The train
was going 80 miles per hour
in a 30-mph zone when it
veered off the tracks, accord-
ing to Oregon Public Broad-
The derailment happened
on the debut run of a new
Amtrak route from Seattle
to Portland. As a result of
the derailment, service from
Portland to Seattle came to a
standstill. ODOT has had to
adjust schedules and routes.
The north-south route will
operate between Tacoma
and Nisqually until the Port-
land-to-Seattle line is re-
The schedule and route
changes combined with di-
minished consumer confi-
dence in rail travel after that
crash are likely to blame for
the decrease in ridership.
Gard said.
Amtrak has agreed to pay
for repairs of equipment and
cleanup along the tracks and
interstate, Gard said. It’s un-
clear, however, whether the
company would pay for the
loss in ridership.
What may be more diffi-
cult is rebuilding confidence
in and reliability of the ser-
vice, Gard said.
Oregon has faced consis-
tent problems filling seats on
the passenger trains operating
through the state, while Wash-
ington has had the opposite
problem, not enough seats to
meet demand.
State officials have kept
the service alive in Oregon de-
spite the heavy subsidies be-
cause they foresee population
growth in the state increasing
demand for rail travel.
Overall, ridership was
down about 2,420 for all of
2017, after an increase in rid-
ership in August thanks to vis-
itors for the solar eclipse.
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