Welcome to Oregon Action!

Oregon Action is a broad-based, multi-racial community organization dedicated to economic justice.  We assist people to organize on their own behalf – with a focus on low-income people, people of color and others with limited access to traditional structures of power and policy-making.  Through leadership development and community organizing, we provide the organizational base for participatory democracy, just communities and a fair economy. Continue reading

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SPEAKING UP, SHARING STORIES TO STOP POLICE MISCONDUCT

Reblogged 4/5/14 Original can be found here written by By Sheley Secrest on March 20, 2014

Lisa Haynes was waiting for a bus near her home in Portland, Ore., when two police officers passing in a patrol car stopped and began questioning her. Uncertain of what was happening, or why she was being questioned, she turned to walk away. Within moments, Haynes, 4’10”, was forcefully grabbed, pushed to the ground and was handcuffed. One of the officers had his knee in her back as he cursed at her. She was arrested and shoved inside the patrol car.

Police later said they had mistaken the petite, 40-something African American woman, for a 5’6” male, Hispanic suspect they had been pursuing.  They released the handcuffs and told her to go home.

“All along I had been asking the officers why this was happening to me,” said Haynes. “Alas, I knew the answer: it was because I am black.  No other reason. They treated me like this – violated me like this – because I’m black.”

Haynes filed a complaint. She met with police review boards. She stood up for her rights.  An internal police review found that the officers were courteous during the encounter, and had understandably confused her for the suspect – after all, she and the suspect were both wearing black jackets. When Haynes reached for her backpack, officers said they feared for their safety.

The internal police review reached its conclusion and closed its investigation. Haynes’ complaint of misconduct would get no further consideration.

Haynes is still seeking justice. She has filed a lawsuit against the Portland Police Department. Her experience, while shocking, unfortunately, isn’t unusual – not in Portland, Seattle, Denver, or many other cities around the country.

Victims of police misconduct are skeptical of the complaint process, and with good reason: according to a 2012 annual report completed by Portland Independent Police Review Division, 77 percent of the complaints made were dismissed and without ever receiving an internal affairs review.

Many who have had their rights violated, have taken the brave step of reporting the incident to a higher authority, hoping for justice. Unfortunately, the vast majority of those complainants are left feeling even worse after their requests for an investigation are again ignored, reinforcing the entire community’s perception that they have no opportunity or expectation of relief or justice.

The reasons for the dismissal vary. According to the report, dismissals occur when the complaint itself is untimely, or when the officer in question is unable to be identified.  Sometimes, witnesses can’t be located, and at times, evidence has been lost. The pain and humiliation suffered by the victim is not eased and there is no closure.

Throughout the country, community organizations are taking bold action to assist the victims of police misconduct by gathering evidence to use in the complaint. The NAACP has implemented an online Rapid Report System allowing the victims of racial profiling and police brutality to download their complaint into a national database to capture departmental trends. Cop Watch has instituted a national database allowing the public to post captured pictures or videos of police misconduct.

Police departments promise reforms, but little change occurs even after decades of effort and evidence collected by citizens.

In Seattle, a federal department of justice investigation of the police department found use of excessive force by officers. The Seattle Police Department remains under close scrutiny by the justice department and required to comply with numerous improvement measures or face sanctions. The justice department action only came after more than 40 years of complaints by citizens – in particular African Americans.

In Denver, the Colorado Progressive Coalition is a leader on racial justice issues. Last year, the coalition released the“Truth in Justice” report detailing experiences community members have had with police violence. The coalition also maintains a statewide Racial Justice Hotline. The coalition has sponsored rallies and community meetings calling for firing problem police officers. The coalition also organized the community groundswell that led to the changes in the city charter, making it easier for dangerous officers to be removed from the force.

In Portland, Ore., the Center for Intercultural Organizing is joining the effort to increase assistance to those willing to speak out against unlawful police misconduct with its Stop Profiling project – together with the Oregon Justice Resource Center. Victims will have the valuable assistance of specially trained law students to capture the details needed to demand an investigation into the alleged violation.

Anyone in Portland who feels they have been profiled or mistreated by police officers is invited to make an appointment to share their story on Friday, March 21. Documenting the reality faced by the community is a first step to creating change. More information is available at info@ojrc.org.

The purpose of the event is to help CIO stay abreast of what’s taking place in the community between citizens and law enforcement. CIO has been the eyes and ears of racial profiling trends in the Greater Portland area since 2006.  It’s also a way of making sure the police investigation system itself is strengthened and held accountable, by collecting the information needed to go forward with investigations.

Speaking out against police brutality requires courage, action, and working together. Communities across the nation are banding together to bring assistance in increasing public safety and standing up for justice to those harmed.

Dr. Sheley Secrest is a policy analyst with the Alliance for a Just Society.

 

 

 

 

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Tell Senator Wyden to End Tax Loopholes for Wealthy Corporations

ID-10052915 General Electric is one of the worst corporate tax dodgers out there. It has managed to pay ZERO dollars in federal income taxes over five recent years — thanks to some big tax loopholes and some clever accounting. You may well have paid more in taxes in one year than GE paid on $27 billion in profits over those five years.

The company has mobilized a small army of lobbyists in Washington, D.C. because two of its most profitable tax loopholes have just expired. These arcane-sounding loopholes — known as the “active financing” loophole and the CFC lookthrough rule — let General Electric and other big corporations avoid paying their U.S. taxes when they shift profits to offshore tax havens.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, is about to have his committee vote on a plan that would bring these two loopholes back. If they are revived, they will cost us $80 billion over the next 10 years.

Our country should not go further into debt to keep tax loopholes open for profitable, tax-dodging corporations like General Electric.

Click here to tell Sen. Wyden to end these two loopholes — and make General Electric and other big corporations pay their fair share of taxes.

 

Image credit:  anankkml on www.freedigitalphotos.net

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Cover Oregon Deadline Extended To April 30th

Oregon Action is proud to be a Cover Oregon certified community partner.

Oregon Action is proud to be a Cover Oregon certified community partner.

Oregon’s Governor announced today that we will have an extended application period to give people until April 30, 2014 to submit applications for insurance. This will give people who have not yet applied to Cover Oregon more time to apply and avoid the penalty for not having insurance. More time to apply. More time to find out what financial assistance they may qualify for. More time to get covered.

Quick Facts:

  • So far there have been more than 175,000 enrollments through Cover Oregon
  • Over 200,000 newly eligible adults now have the Oregon Health Plan
  • Most folks who have applied through Cover Oregon have qualified for financial help to cover insurance costs
  • If you have not applied yet, don’t wait. You can apply today by going to www.CoverOregon.com to find the application, get an estimate of what you may qualify for, and find application assisters in your area who can help you though the process.

For more information:

New Deadline Frequently Asked Questions

To make an appointment in the Rogue Valley, call our office at 541-292-8201

To make an appointment in other parts of the state, find an assister near you here.

Find out what financial assistance you may qualify for here.

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Oregon Action is All of Us

Oregon Action members fighting for access to healthcare for all.

Oregon Action friends, it’s that time again!  Time to renew your Oregon Action membership! Our grassroots fundraising is at the heart of our grassroots focus, leaving us free to focus on the issues our members care most about instead of the priorities of foundations who give out grants.

We’re continuing that grassroots work this year with work on raising the minimum wage, expanding access to healthcare resources, and the Think Outside The Box campaign to remove employment barriers for people with a past conviction. Oregon Action’ strength is in number of members we represent.  Membership funds and directs our organization.  We are thousands of households across Oregon all working together for one common goal.  We fight every day to raise up lower and middle-income Oregonians voices and power in the decision-making process.

If you haven’t renewed for 2014, now is the time.  Membership has always been on a sliding scale.  $12 is the basic membership (same as always), while $25 is the average. Many households contribute more, $120 a year gives us $10 a month to lead on issues like police profiling, immigration reform, and economic justice.  In these trying times, we encourage our supporters to dig deep, maximize your support this year.  Can you do the $120 this year?

To renew your membership or to sign up for the first time, please send your check to our Portland address ( 126 NE Alberta Street, Portland, OR 97211  Attn: Membership) or give Harry a call at 503-282-6588 if you would like another option.

Thank you all very much for your ongoing support and participation.  Our members make us the success we are today.  We need your continued support!  Act today, write that check, go to our website or call Harry today to renew your support.

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Will You Be Covered by March 31? Read This…

Cover Oregon is our new Health Insurance Marketplace where you can access the Oregon Health Plan, Private insurance plans, and financial assistance to help pay for insurance.

Who can apply: Everyone can apply to find out what they qualify for.

Cover Oregon 2014 Income Guidelines

Cover Oregon 2014 Income Guidelines

How to apply: You can apply on your own or with help from a Cover Oregon Assister.

To apply on your own: go to www.CoverOregon.com and click the green “Apply Now” button on the front page. You can then download the application, print it, fill it out, and then mail or fax it to Cover Oregon.

To apply with help: Call our Medford office at 541-772-4029 to make an appointment to meet with Michelle or Virginia. We offer assistance in English and Spanish.

Basic information you need to apply: personal information for each household member including date of birth, social security number (if they have one), income estimates for each person for the current month and for all of 2014, and information about current medical insurance (if you have it).

When to apply:

Apply as soon as you can. The deadline for enrolling in private insurance is March 31st, 2014. Oregon Health Plan enrollment continues all year.

The next open enrollment period for Cover Oregon will start on November 15, 2014 and go until January 15th, 2015.

If you lose your insurance, get married or divorced, have a child, or experience a big change in your income during the year you may be able to shop for a new plan through Cover Oregon. You can find out by calling 1-855-268-3767.

What is the penalty for not having insurance? If you are not covered by health insurance by March 31, and you are not exempted from the penalty, you will have to pay a penalty when you file your taxes next year. The penalty amount is $95 per adult, $54 per child, or 1% of your household yearly income. The maximum any family will have to pay in 2014 is $285. These fees are scheduled to go up every year.  (Click here to read about who is exempt from these fees: https://www.healthcare.gov/exemptions/ )

Applicant and Oregon Action member Shirley signs her application.

Applicant and Oregon Action member Shirley signs her application.

I’ve already applied, now what?

If you have applied and have not heard back from Cover Oregon yet:

Call the Cover Oregon Helpline at 1-855-268-3767. Be prepared for what could be a long wait on hold.

What you need to ask: After confirming your identity and looking up your application the agent should be able to tell you the status of your application and whether there is any missing information. If you application is pending or waiting to be processed, ask what needs to be done to escalate the application. If your application has been determined, ask what the eligibility determination is for each household member and be sure to write down all of the information. If anyone will be shopping for a private insurance plan, ask for the shopping group number and the client ID number (you can use these to enroll in whatever plan you choose at www.coveroregon.com, click on the green “complete enrollment” button on the front page.) If anyone is eligible for a tax credit, ask what the tax credit amount is.

Be sure to ask for the name of the person you speak to and write down what they tell you and the date and time you called for your records.

Be sure to mention if there is an urgent medical need, if for example, you are waiting to get an important prescription or go see your doctor.

If you were told you are now covered by the Oregon Health Plan

Congratulations! Thanks to the Affordable Care Act and the state of Oregon there is no longer any waiting period or lottery drawing to be able to enroll in the Oregon Health Plan. The income limits were also raised (see chart) on January 1st, 2014 so that more people can qualify for Oregon Health Plan coverage.As a result, we have enrolled 200,000 new Oregonians in the Oregon Health Plan since October of last year!

There is a delay in getting medical cards mailed to new clients. If you have not received you card, don’t worry unless it has been more than 8 weeks since you applied.

If it has been more than 8 weeks, or if you have an urgent medical need, you can call Oregon Health Plan Client Services at 1-800-273-0557. Be prepared to what may be a long wait on hold.

Who can call: Only the person who is covered, or their parent/legal guardian, can request information from Oregon Health Plan. You cannot call for a friend or other family member because of privacy policies.

What to ask: Ask for your member ID number, the name of your Coordinated Care Organization, and the date your coverage started. You can use your member ID number just like an insurance card at most doctors’ offices.

Other important information

If you applied through Cover Oregon and got insurance, no matter what kind it is, you are responsible for updating your application if you experience a change in your household size or income. You can do this by calling Cover Oregon at 1-855-268-3767.

Other resources:

The Cover Oregon Website is where you can browse plans and find out what financial assistance you may qualify for.

Healthcare.gov has some great Frequently Asked Questions and other resources to help explain the new healthcare law. (Note: if you live in Oregon you cannot sign up for insurance on the Healthcare.gov website. You will go through Cover Oregon instead.)

The Oregon Health Plan Website is where you can find Fast Track information, look up your Coordinated Care Organization (CCO), find out what is covered by OHP, and get their contact information.

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Early Bird Registration Now Open

Join national and local leaders on health equity for the kick off of a project to identify ways to implement health equity on the ground.  This is the first of a series of events and workshops that the Project will host in communities throughout Oregon over the next year, and is designed to gather your input and then work to provide real, substantial tools for you and your communities.

What do you need to know?

What strategies are evidence based?

How can providers, consumers, health organizations, schools, hospitals, communities and others work together to actually make progress towards equity that leads to the quadruple aim for consumers.

Share your input, what you need to make your efforts easier, and how we can help.

We hope to see you on May 21st!

Click here for more information or to register.

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Medford Voter Registration Training

 

Empower Rogue Valley residents, become a voter registration volunteer:

Local voters will decide if and how Jackson County funds public libraries and whether all Oregon families will have access to the drivers cards they need to drive safely to and from work and school.

There are still many local residents who will be impacted by these and other important decisions who are not yet registered to vote. We need your help to get the Rogue Valley registered to vote! Join us for this free training to get started.

Click here to RSVP and get directions.

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Oregon: Let’s Think Outside the Box

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Covered at last: a small business owner shares her Cover Oregon story

Photo: Denise, owner of the Talent Cafe

Denise and Abe have affordable health coverage now, thanks to Oregon Action and Cover Oregon.

Denise, a small business owner for 8 years, has had no way to access affordable health coverage for herself or for her employees. Due to a pre-existing condition, insurance companies demanded that Denise pay $800 every month just to have personal health insurance. When an unexpected medical emergency arose, the life-saving care she received resulted in a huge hospital bill that she could not pay. It took her over a year to negotiate with the hospital to get some of the debt forgiven, but was still subjected to garnishment to pay off the balance. Denise also worried about her employees, many of whom have worked for her for years.

Denise came to Oregon Action for information about Cover Oregon in the hopes of finally finding an affordable option for health coverage. “I think it was easy, we were done in 15 minutes and I had no problems.” Denise now has coverage at a fraction of what insurance companies were demanding before healthcare reform came into effect. She was also able to refer her hard-working employees to us, and three of them are now covered through Cover Oregon as well.

For Denise this is about peace of mind. It’s also about being able to get the care she needs so that she can continue to do what she loves: making good food and keeping her customers happy at the Talent Café.

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Does Your Representative Need a Thank You (or a Nudge?)

Oregon lawmakers were graded this week on how their votes impact communities of color in our state. Oregon Action, as part of a broad coalition of regional partners (for a full list, see the report below) presented our findings to Oregon lawmakers and the press.

Communities of color make up about 22.4% of Oregon’s population and there are racial gaps that run deep and really undermine our ability to ensure a stable, strong future that offers fair opportunity for all Oregonians.

We know that policy and budget decisions can either increase opportunity and positive outcomes or can worsen disparities and barriers. In order to achieve racial equity we need legislators to step up and be leaders regardless of their political affiliation.

The report assesses legislators’ progress on addressing racial equity by analyzing 21 pieces of legislation, 18 of which passed into law last year, as well as looking at how the budget impacts communities of color.

The 2013 findings were mixed. While 39 out of 90 Oregon lawmakers received “A” grades, 32 were graded “needs improvement.” The Statesman Journal points out that this represents about a third of all Oregon legislators.

How did your representative and senator do?

Read the full report here, including the full list of legislators and their grades.

Then, let your legislators hear from you! Click here to find the representatives for your region and to get their contact information. Then drop them a note or give them a call to let them know what you think of their performance!

Please join us in thanking those who are truly representing all Oregonians, and reminding those who are not that we are paying attention.

We want all of Oregon to thrive, and that means that we need to address the growing divide between White Oregonians and Oregonians of Color.  We are committed to working with lawmakers toward this goal, and this report contains information on how they can become stronger advocates for communities of color in Oregon.

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