NEWS

Sex toys at the mall gets lawmaker’s attention

administrator, 10/10/2014 2:39 pm

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN 6) — Past the beer bongs and flasks with an image of woman’s bare derriere, back behind the phallic pens and porn director hats, customers can find an assortment of blow up dolls — small to big, ethnic to elderly.

Items like these might also be found at an adult store. But these particular items are found inside Spencer’s Gifts in the Lloyd Center.

Spencer’s Gifts is no longer selling just sexual gag gifts at six of their Oregon mall stores — including Lloyd Center, Washington Square Mall and Clackamas Town Center.

A Spencer’s Gifts clerk at Clackamas Town Center told KOIN 6 News there were no age requirements to buy these sex items.

Parents who spoke with KOIN 6 News were not happy about this.

“How can an 18-year-old judge how old somebody is?” parent Bonnilynn Petillo said. “It shouldn’t be allowed. … I think it’s really inappropriate.”

Monica Clark said she had no idea Spencer’s Gifts was selling these items.

“I haven’t been in Spencer’s. It’s not one of the stores I shop in,” she said. “I would never know that’s what they started providing…”

Oregon law

Within Oregon law, Spencer’s has several shades of grey about what is obscene material.

Is a colorful mini rope sampler with pictures showing a woman tied up and gagged with the rope obscene? Or psychiatric ward wrist constraints? Or personal massagers that glow in the dark and flash on and off — and in panther print?

And all that positioned next to school girl skirts.

State Rep. Andy Olson, who has worked on stiffening Oregon’s laws on sexually explicit materials in the past, was astounded at what KOIN 6 News showed him.

“They’ve got themselves a market. It looks like, I mean, quite a bit of stuff back in there,” the Albany Republican said.

He stopped to take notes and twice read through the law on displaying obscene materials to minors during his interview with KOIN 6 News. He had his deputy legislative counsel, Jessica Minifie, double check — and the sales appear to be legal.

Asked if he thinks Oregon law currently goes far enough to protect kids from these items, he said, “The way I read the law, I don’t think so.”

He said the current statute revolves around “the idea is sexual conduct and it depicts nudity and it has sexual excitement.”

Spencer’s Gifts, he said, has figured out a way to stride pretty close to the legal line. Olson said he now plans to expand Oregon revised statute 167-080 and said he “absolutely” can get bipartisan support.

“I do believe you’ll see some major support with this if I were to take that same video that you just showed us with the other legislators in this building,” Olson told KOIN 6 News. “I think you would see serious concern.”

Olson said he will propose a new bill this next session to crack down on sales of sexually explicit items to teens.

“I really appreciate you sharing that with me,” he said.

Ultimately, the Oregon state legislature will have to determine whether or not these sexual devices are obscene and how they want to proceed…

Click here to read the entire article

Editorial: Food stamp fraud case highlights need for reform

administrator, 08/26/2014 8:04 pm

A recent story in The Oregonian about a long-running (and extremely slow-moving) investigation into food stamp fraud in Klamath Falls should prompt renewed calls for reforms to strengthen the ability of caseworkers and others to ferret out fraud in the program.

Don’t misunderstand: The program is essential. But the reforms under consideration wouldn’t do anything to take assistance away from anyone who needed the benefits.

In the Klamath Falls case, 65 people have been charged with trafficking in food stamp benefits. As The Oregonian’s Les Zaitz reported, most of the charges accuse defendants of illegally taking cash instead of food by selling their Oregon Trail cards to a Klamath Falls meat market for 50 cents on the dollar. (The cards are issued to participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the official name for the food stamp program. The federal government funds the program.)

When the charges were filed, the director of the Oregon Department of Human Services sent an email to Oregon legislators boasting about her department’s role in cracking the case.

Among the legislators who received that email was Albany Rep. Andy Olson, who’s been part of a group that’s been examining ways to cut back on fraud and waste in the program. He presumably was interested in the case — but probably wasn’t much surprised by The Oregonian’s story, which found that, in fact, state workers had watched the fraud continue for more than two years before arrests were made. In 2013, an investigator warned the fraud was growing at an “alarming rate.” Arrests followed — 17 months later.

Click here to read the entire editorial

Editorial: Klamath Falls case underscores need for food stamp reform

administrator, 08/08/2014 6:59 pm

A recent story in The Oregonian about a long-running (and extremely slow-moving) investigation into food stamp fraud in Klamath Falls should prompt renewed calls for reforms to strengthen the ability of caseworkers and others to ferret out fraud in the program.

Don’t misunderstand: The program is essential – and, in fact, as we’ve noted before, better than one in every four residents in Linn County is using the program to some extent. But the reforms under consideration wouldn’t do anything to take assistance away from anyone who needed the benefits.

In the Klamath Falls case, 65 people have been charged with trafficking in food stamp benefits. As The Oregonian’s Les Zaitz reported, most of the charges accuse defendants of illegally taking cash instead of food by selling their Oregon Trail cards to a Klamath Falls meat market for 50 cents on the dollar. (The cards are issued to participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, the official name for the food stamp program. The federal government funds the program.)

When the charges were filed, the director of the Oregon Department of Human Services sent an email to Oregon legislators boasting about her department’s role in cracking the case.

Among the legislators who received that email was Albany Rep. Andy Olson, who’s been part of a group that’s been examining ways to cut back on fraud and waste in the program. He presumably was interested in the case – but probably wasn’t much surprised by The Oregonian’s story, which found that, in fact, state workers had watched the fraud continue for more than two years before arrests were made. In 2013, an investigator warned the fraud was growing at an “alarming rate.” Arrests followed – 17 months later.

Editorial: Common-sense reforms could bolster food stamp program

administrator, 08/04/2014 6:52 pm

One big bit of unfinished business still on the congressional agenda as lawmakers return to Washington is passage of a farm bill.

The issue now is before a 41-member conference committee, working to hammer out differences between the House and Senate versions of the massive bill. Among the points of contention: Potential cuts to the food stamp program. House Republicans have been pushing for cutbacks totaling nearly $40 billion over the next decade.

Cutbacks on that scale won’t happen, and they shouldn’t. But the conference committee (which includes Oregon Rep. Kurt Schrader) might have a chance to strengthen the integrity of the food stamp program – and to help ensure that people who really need the assistance continue to get it.

The inspiration for the conferees could come in part from work underway in Oregon, where state Rep. Andy Olson of Albany is part of a group examining ways to cut back on fraud and waste in the program.

Olson emphasizes that the goal is not in the slightest to keep assistance from the people who need it – and it’s worth remembering that in Linn County, more than one in every four residents is using the program to some extent.

Olson says his group has been pushing what he calls some common-sense reforms to the program.

For example, the Oregon Trail cards issued to participants in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (the official name for the food stamp program) don’t include the name of the recipient, which makes fraud easier. Printing names on the cards would cost the state about $1.3 million, Olson said, but that investment would almost certainly be repaid many times over.

Already, the state has instituted a policy in which it sends warning letters to recipients who request more than six replacement cards in a year. The letter doesn’t cut off benefits: It just serves as a warning that future requests will be more closely monitored. State officials say requests for new cards have dropped 19 percent since then.

Olson also advocates changes in federal law to strengthen the hands of the investigators who probe possible abuse.

Read more at the Albany Democrat-Herald…

Changes promised for neighbors concerned about Highway 20 safety

administrator, 05/15/2014 5:31 pm

Neighbors on Merloy Avenue shared their concerns about safety on Highway 20 with a wide range of public officials at a town hall Thursday night and got some commitments for change on the dangerous stretch of highway.

Oregon Department of Transportation officials said they would recommend lowering the speed limit from 55 to 50 in the neighborhood four miles northeast of Corvallis.

The speed limit issue must go to the state traffic engineer…

More from the Corvallis Gazette Times…

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