Friday, November 16, 2018

5 G Network - Scientists Predict Devastating Health Effects

The telecommunications industry plans to unleash the 5G, wireless network everywhere on earth. No person, no animal, no bird, no insect and no plant on Earth will be able to avoid exposure, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, to levels of RF radiation that are tens to hundreds of times greater than what exists today, without any possibility of escape anywhere on the planet. These 5G plans threaten to provoke serious, irreversible effects on humans and permanent damage to all of the Earth’s ecosystems.

For more information on why this will be devastating to the planet and each of us, and to sign an international appeal to the world's governments, PLEASE go to this link. I am copying a few paragraphs from the website below to entice you to use the link and learn more.

Excerpts From International Appeal - Stop 5G on Earth and in Space
Despite widespread denial, the evidence that radio frequency (RF) radiation is harmful to life is already overwhelming. The accumulated clinical evidence of sick and injured human beings, experimental evidence of damage to DNA, cells and organ systems in a wide variety of plants and animals, and epidemiological evidence that the major diseases of modern civilization—cancer, heart disease and diabetes—are in large part caused by electromagnetic pollution, forms a literature base of well over 10,000 peer-reviewed studies.

Stakeholders thus far in the development of 5G have been industry and governments, while renowned international EMF scientists who have documented biological effects on humans, animals, insects and plants, and alarming effects on health and the environment in thousands of peer-reviewed studies have been excluded. The reason for the current inadequate safety guidelines is that conflicts of interest of standard-setting bodies “due to their relationships with telecommunications or electric companies undermine the impartiality that should govern the regulation of Public Exposure Standards for non-ionizing radiation”.

Current safety guidelines are based on the obsolete hypothesis that heating is the only harmful effect of EMFs. As Markov and Grigoriev have stated, “Today standards do not consider the real pollution of the environment with nonionizing radiation”.[94] Hundreds of scientists, including many signatories to this appeal, have proven that many different kinds of acute and chronic illnesses and injuries are caused without heating (“non-thermal effect”) from radiation levels far below international guidelines.

Public notice requirements and public hearings are being eliminated. Even if there were a hearing and 100 scientific experts were to testify against 5G, laws have been passed making it illegal for local authorities to take their testimony into consideration. US law, for example, prohibits local governments from regulating wireless technology “on the basis of the environmental effects of radio frequency radiation”,[114] and courts have reversed regulatory decisions about cell tower placement simply because most of the public testimony was about health.[115] Insurers will not provide coverage against EMF risks,[116] and there is zero clarity as to what entity will bear legal responsibility for damage to life, limb and property arising from exposure to 5G, whether ground- or space-based.[117]

To learn more go to Interntional Appeal. 

Contact your Local Talk Radio

After you read about it and sign the appeal, please email your local talk radio stations about this ASAP. You can copy what I sent to my local stations. Here is what I sent:

Subject of email: 5 G Network Health Effects - Scientists Appeal to World
Main body of email: Scientists around the world, explain 5G network effects, current RF effects and appeal to the world governments to rethink implementing 5G.

Please take a look at the scientists article here:

This is the best collection of research links regarding health effects to people and animals from EMF exposure that I have seen.

Thanks for your time, Your name here.

Check out our related blogs 
How cell phones effect your health
Are you a smart meter guinea pig?

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Causes of Inflammation

In our last blog about inflammation we examined the changes that take place in the body during chronic inflammation. This time, I am going to give you a laundry list of some general, common causes of chronic inflammation. The purpose is for you to recognize these causes of inflammation in your body currently. You have to know what is causing it if you want to remove the cause rather than treating symptoms.

Some causes of chronic inflammation

Gut Flora Imbalance
An imbalance of gut flora with too many “bad guys” producing toxins can create quite a reaction in your immune system.

A large part of the immune system is in the gut lining. This is called the gastrointestinal associated lymphatic tissues (GALT). 80% of the antibodies in your body are made here. This makes sense as the outside world has somewhat easy access into the digestive tract by way of hitchhiking in, on food and drink.

Bacterial population patterns in the human gut predict occurrence of a variety of chronic inflammatory diseases, so the health of our commensal intestinal bacterial flora is very important if we want to decrease inflammation in the body. Intestinal inflammation may lead to  leaky "tight junctions" between intestinal cells, which leads to bits of substances (antigens) getting past the tight junction barriers that should provide a protective barrier in the lumen of the gut. These antigens can cause antibody reactions and lead to inflammation in distant areas of the body and autoimmune disease.

Environmental Toxins
Examples are heavy metals (mercury and lead), light metals (aluminum), herbicides, pesticides, volatile organic compounds, biotoxins (mycotoxins from mold, toxins from algae).  Mercury is in our teeth and vaccinations, lead is in our water and some products, aluminum is everywhere as are herbicides and pesticides. Our homes are built with many toxic products and then we make these homes air-tight, which keeps all that bad air in. If we have a water leak in the house, we now have mold and bacteria growing in conjunction with the toxic building products soup. These toxins in our body can cause a tremendous amount of chronic inflammation.

Chronic Infections
Viral, bacterial, fungal or parasite infection - Examples are chronic Herpes or Cytomegalovirus infections, Candida, and Giardia. Many people have unfriendly guests taking up residence in their body and this adds to the inflammatory load when they get out of control.

Lack of Necessary Nutrients to Support the Body
Lack of necessary nutrients to support antioxidant and, or biotransformational systems. (due to inadequate diets or eating food grown in low nutrient conditions or grown, shipped, packaged or stored in manners that strip the food of their nutrients) Without adequate nutrients, our cells can not function. They are unable to build new healthy cells as needed or to operate normally including protecting the body from toxins from infections, or detoxing the body from the environmental toxins previously mentioned.

Poor Diets that Promote Inflammation
Diets high in sugar, bad fats, inadequate protein, eating low nutrient foods, chemical laden food (pesticides, herbicides, chemicals to keep food preserved or make it pretty). There are many toxins disguised as food in the standard American diet. This is a case where what should cure us and make us strong and healthy, actually adds to the chronic inflammation and malaise.

Food Allergens or Sensitivities
Eating foods you "react to" contributes to inflammation.

Lack of Sleep
Sleep is often neglected as being important. This is the time your body rests and is nourished back to health. This is when your cells rejuvenate themselves. This includes housekeeping for your brain. Sleep is  of utmost importance.

Lack of movement
Considering that exercise has been linked to many chronic diseases, I think we all know how important it is. Now we just need to all act upon this knowledge. Too little and too strenuous movement can cause inflammation, so  a happy medium is necessary.

Excess weight
Obesity goes hand and hand with inflammation and they appear to exacerbate each other. Any poundage you can loose when overweight will help decrease inflammation.

Smoking cigarettes, excessive drinking
They are both bad ideas and lead to inflammation and disease. 

Chronic stress eventually leads to dampening of cortisol and ramps up the immune system, causing inflammation. 

Next time we will look at how to decrease inflammation in the body. 

This post is an excerpt from "Herbal ABC's" with slight changes since it is taken out of context of the book. You can purchase this book from my website or at  (Amazon link below)

Look for my special super-duper holiday sale on these wonderful books, as they make great gifts for friends and family with an interest in herbs and health. I will send out an email with the discount link in another week. Look for it to arrive in your mail box.

Friday, November 9, 2018

How To Prevent a Second Civil War in the U.S.A., With A New Movement Called Bridging

I am receiving emails lately that are from people wanting to exterminate all the people in the other party. In fact the most recent email I received reminded me of things said about Jews when they were rounded up and put into concentration camps. Have some of us really come to this? I have friends in both parties and have always been nonpartisan myself. I hear about good ideas from people in both parties and actually find my friends from both parties usually want the same things as the "other side" but they are often not educated as to what the individuals in the other party really want. Each party focuses their attention on the radical outlying wings of the other party and they imagine that the whole party is like those radicals. Sadly, they often do not want to talk to, or know people in the other party, so their uneducated ideas about each other remain and the divide gets bigger.

There are creative and positive thinkers talking about bipartisanship thankfully. (Things were not always this divided.) However, some would thwart such attempts. I am now getting emails that seem to want to take us into a a very ugly space, even though the two main party leaders are talking about bipartisanship. I received an email today that said, "Naive thoughts of bipartisanship will quickly fade. "Sharp knives" will replace kumbaya in no time." Additionally, the email quoted another person saying, "Those that remain in the "other" party are "bad people." They went on to say we are in a civil war. I have been ignoring these emails trying to divide people as I thought they would disappear, but that is not the case.  I feel I should share a wonderful, creative, bipartisan solution that could make these dismal ideas fade away. It involves putting aside the emotions that are leading people to this divide and using critical thinking to examine each others and our own ideas.

I think this new movement is going to sweep through our nation and I am hoping sooner, rather than later. We do have the ability to create our future. Which future would you like? Do we want civil war or do we want to take a few hours of our day and learn more about each other? Preventing a civil war seems worth the time to at least take the step to learn more. I actually think bipartisanship can work. It is simply a matter of some of us (We know there are some people who will not want to do this and that is okay. It only takes a few of us to get the ball rolling. ) taking some time to actually examine our own ideas and other peoples ideas in a well thought out manner. Seeing the ideas anew and without the emotions attached allows us to critically examine them with an open mind and heart. When we do this there will be some surprised people.  

There is an organization that has formed to use education as a way to bridge this divide between the republicans and democrats. They are called Bridging.Online. You can invite them to your area as they are happy to come talk to people. I listened to them on this podcast from Jefferson Radio and found they had an uplifting point of view and it is my belief they are starting a new movement that could take hold very fast.

What will you learn from them - Critical thinking and getting beyond the left and the right. I suggest you listen to their podcast and take a look at their website or go to their facebook page.

We create our reality by focusing on what we want to happen. Creating bridges is a good point of focus and a good place to put our energy.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Inflammation as The Root of Much Evil

I am sharing some important information about inflammation with you. It is from my new book, "Herbal ABC's" with a few changes since it is taken out of context from the rest of the book. Inflammation underlies most of the chronic diseases people are expressing in their bodies today. I am going to share some some of the basic concepts regarding chronic inflammation, and causes of inflammation. We will examine changes you can implement to decrease inflammation. This information will be broken up into 2 or 3 blogs to keep it easier to assimilate.

Inflammation is involved with health issues in all bodily organ systems and is involved with many chronic disease processes and may well be the root of most disease. The topic of inflammation and anti-inflammatories is extremely important.

What is Inflammation
Inflammation is the body’s process of protecting and  healing and is a natural defense response to irritation such as an injury or noxious stimuli like pathogens (such as viruses, bacteria or parasites) or toxins. Inflammation comes about as part of the immune system’s activity. It is vital for clearing infectious pathogens from the body and helps wounds to heal. Inflammation in small amounts comes and goes as a  necessary part of healing. However, excessive or chronic inflammation is not healthy and usually indicates your body is either under continued assault in some manner or that your body is not able to react in a normal manner to remedy the inflammatory reaction. If the process does not resolve on its own, it is necessary to evaluate the reason for the inflammation and remove or treat the underlying cause. In cases where inflammation is life threatening, it must be addressed immediately. Chronic inflammation that is not attended to can turn into atherosclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, metabolic syndrome, diabetes, obesity, autoimmune disease, cancer and neurodegenerative disorders to name a few diseases associated with inflammation.

Chronic Inflammation
In chronic inflammation, there is either constant input inducing inflammation, or your body’s reaction to protect and heal may not be working well, or both can be taking place at the same time.

The constant input can be from a continuous viral, bacterial or parasite infection. The infection might be low level and you might not even realize you have it. Chronic inflammation could also be a reaction to heavy metals such as mercury or from the continuous bombardment of volatile organic compounds in a new building, herbicides in the park or one of many other environmental toxins. When an overabundance of pathogens and toxins continue to drain our reserves, eventually the body simply runs out of supplies to protect itself. A continual state of toxicity from one or more causes is often the source of chronic inflammation.

There are various reasons the body might not be able to respond appropriately. There may not be enough of the appropriate dietary nutrients to support production of enzymes that are necessary for the biotransformational (detox) system to remove toxins. The body needs nutrients to make anti-inflammatory cytokines (the body makes both pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines) as well as antioxidants to protect the body from the reactive oxygen/nitrogen species. There may be a genetic alteration that decreases the ability to biotransform toxins to a lesser or greater degree, or individual genetics might alter the immune system to make a person more susceptible to certain pathogens and  toxins. A lack of antioxidants can also stress this system as it will result in an increase in reactive oxygen /nitrogen species that add to inflammation. Although, this is a simplistic view, you can get an idea of how chronic inflammation can take hold. In chronic inflammation the mechanisms to shut down inflammation are not working well, there is disrupted homeostasis and chronic disease ensues.

Inflammatory cytokines can increase production of reactive oxygen species and reactive oxygen species can increase the production of inflammatory cytokines. So you can get a vicious circle going on here. Luckily there are anti-inflammatory cytokines that kick in to decrease inflammation if everything is working correctly.

When oxidative stress starts to accumulate, inflammation in the tissue is increased, which can overwhelm the antioxidant system.

Chronic damage to cells leads to constant repair and replacement of cells. When there is constant, excessive inflammation and creation of reactive oxygen species over a long period of time, the ability to repair and replace cells can become compromised. In chronic inflammation the immune system and  reactive oxygen species overwhelm the antioxidant system.

In chronic inflammation, a person may  feel inflamed all over. There may be joint pain that comes and goes or a person may feel tired, and lack strength. Cytokines can affect the brain and cause a person to be forgetful, have trouble finding words, or trouble paying attention. (If not remedied this can become the beginning of a variety of various disease processes.)

Inflammation effects our mitochondria. Mitochondria are called the power-house of our cells as they supply energy for the cells of the body. Chronic inflammation damages mitochondria. This leads to a lack of energy and lowers the bodies ability to heal.

In my next post we will look at some causes of chronic inflammation.

This post is an excerpt from "Herbal ABC's" with slight changes since it is taken out of context of the book. You can purchase this book from my website or at  (Amazon link below)

Look for my special super-duper holiday sale on these wonderful books, as they make great gifts for friends and family with an interest in herbs and health. I will send out an email with the discount link in a few weeks. Look for it to arrive in your email box.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Cinnamon Caused Edema (swollen ankles and legs) In Patient

A recent article in The Journal of American Board of Family Medicine presents a case of edema from taking Cinnamon to treat diabetes. An adult man was taking 1000 mg of cinnamon powder daily (this is similar to about 2, tightly packed double-ought capsules) when he got edema. The edema resolved after he stopped taking the Cinnamon. The authors warned that "Physicians should be aware that consumption of cinnamon bark powder could cause fluid retention and possibly worsen congestive heart failure." 

This man was a part of a type 2 diabetes clinical trial and started the trial with  trace (a small amount) amount of edema. (It is not normal to have edema and may have been the beginning of congestive  heart failure at this point, since he was diagnosed with it 16 months later.) He took 1000 mg of the powder daily and one week after starting the study, he presented with rapidly increasing leg swelling. His treatment was immediately stopped. He presented with no abnormal heart sounds you would expect with congestive heart failure but did have 4+ pitting edema to the knees on both sides of the body. His kidney, liver, and urine tests drawn on that day were normal. Five days after stopping treatment with the cinnamon bark powder, swelling improved back to the trace of edema he started the study with. The patient developed congestive heart failure over the next 16 months. 

The researchers evaluated the coumarin dose in the cinnamon to see if it was above the .1 mg/kg that may theoretically cause liver dysfunction (which can cause edema). It was found to have 5 mg per daily dose which was under the daily dose thought to be an issue.

Therefore the researchers theorized that the cinnamon bark powder may have caused edema through mechanisms that are similar to drugs called thiazolidinediones or glitazones that are used to lower insulin resistance in type 2 diabetes. One of the most common side effects of thiazolidinediones is peripheral edema and 5% of patients using them develop peripheral edema. This percentage can increase up to 18% if used with other antidiabetic drugs. T
he constituent cinnamaldehyde in cinnamon bark powder activates peroxisome proliferated activated receptors with some similarity to thiazolidinediones. Cinnamaldehyde has been shown to cause enhancement in insulin sensitivity and fatty acid β-oxidation and energy uncoupling in skeletal muscle and adipose tissue. Data also suggests that cinnamon in its water extract form (the form studied) can act as an activator of both peroxisome proliferator-activated receptors α and γ, and have been suggested in the pharmaceutical world as an alternative to the thiazolidinedione peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor γ activators.

So, my take home on this is to be weary of having anyone with even a trace of edema take cinnamon and be especially concerned about anyone with overt edema taking cinnamon. Additionally, it would be good for anyone using cinnamon regularly as a medicine or as a food flavor to be aware new edema or increased edema could be related to their cinnamon intake. 

I will be presenting an article in a few weeks that examines Cinnamon in detail, as I know many of you probably want to know more know about it. We will look at the various types of Cinnamon on the market and what we know about safety and use. I notice the data available online is quite confusing. I plan to clarify it a bit for you.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms in children associated with fluoride exposure to pregnant moms

A recent study posted in Environmental International measured flouride in 213 pregnant women living in Mexico City. They found a higher concentration of maternal urinary fluoride was associated with more ADHD-like symptoms in school-age children.

“Our findings show that children with elevated prenatal exposure to fluoride were more likely to show symptoms of ADHD as reported by parents. Prenatal fluoride exposure was more strongly associated with inattentive behaviours and cognitive problems, but not with hyperactivity,” said Bashash (lead researcher) .

This work builds off of previous research the team published on this population demonstrating that higher levels of urine fluoride during pregnancy are associated with lower scores on tests of IQ and cognition in the school-age children.

These findings are consistent with the growing body of evidence suggesting neurotoxicity of early-life exposure to fluoride.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Cell Phones - Are they Causing Serious Harm

In 2011 the World Health Organization decided use of cell phones was a probable carcinogen risk.

Most people don't seem to know this. For some reason most people do not know the additional data below either.

Cellphones are two-way microwave radios that should not be kept on the body. Look at the legal data that comes with your smart phone and you will find they warn you of this. The data is buried in your phone, so you might have to look for it. However, it is there as they are attempting to protect themselves from litigation.

Cellphone use is associated with odd types of breast cancers for women who keep cellphones in their bra.

Cellphones kept in men's pant pockets have been found to be causal for significant decreased sperm count. Studies also show damage to sperm in addition to lower sperm count.

Studies in Europe show that people who used cell phones heavily for over ten years have a doubled risk of brain cancer, and those who begin using cell phones as teenagers have a four to five times higher chance of being diagnosed with brain cancer.

If you put a mobile phone that is operating in a honey bee hive, the workers will not come back to the hive. Could the mobile phone radiation or tower radiation be affecting the bees?

Women who have higher use of cell phones during pregnancy have more miscarriages than those who have less cell phone use.

Scientists in Korea have found something called Digital Dementia in children. They report that children who are heavy technology users have brains that are underdeveloped on the right side. This has been characterized by memory loss, attention disorders, lack of eye contact, lack of empathy, and difficulty feeling or showing emotions.  As a result the Korean government is instituting programs to reduce uses and exposures especially to young children.

Other countries have laws limiting the amount of radiation that can come from towers, laws regarding cell phone use for children and in schools, laws for safe headsets etc. No laws to protect people from cell phone radiation have been passed in the United States though. 

For more data on cell phones, go to the Environmental Health Trust. I also suggest you watch Dr. Debra Davis' YouTube presentation.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Home Remedy for Childs Ingestion of Button Batteries

There has been a serious increase in children eating button batteries. There are 3000 ingestions of these tiny batteries each year in the United States. They are small enough to pop into the mouth and look like a possible candy. Unfortunately they can cause serious esophageal damage or even death. However, most parents have a common food in their pantry that will help protect the childs esophagus until they can get her/him to a health care facility. This food is honey. In recent research, honey slowed the discharge of the button battery, neutralized the increased tissue pH at the battery contact site to clinically optimal levels, and protected against deep tissue injury, the authors reported in a June 11th issue of The Larygoscope.

Serious damage such as esophageal perforation, vocal cord paralysis, and erosion into the airway or major blood vessels can occur within 2 hours of ingestion of the battery. The authors suggest using the honey for witnessed or suspected early-stage battery ingestion as soon as possible after the ingestion.

The amount of honey used in this experiment was 2 teaspoons every 10 minutes. It is meant to be used as a home remedy until the parents can get the child to a health care facility where the battery can be removed.

Some children are allergic to honey and it is suggested that children under 1 year of age do not eat honey due to concern of botulism. (Not a common occurance according to experts I have asked in the past.)

Monday, October 1, 2018

Are You a Smart Meter Guinea Pig

My neighborhood is putting Smart Meters on all the houses except for mine. I have to pay a monthly fee to keep my analog "Safe Meter". It is outrageous to me that I have to pay to keep my old meter, but concern for my health and privacy are the reasons I am willing to do it. I suggest before you become a guinea pig in this experiment on human health, that you look a little bit closer at what you are inviting into your home. You are becoming a guinea pig to save the utility company money as they no longer have to hire people to read the meters. The smart meter is not benefiting you in any way and the company has not researched the effect on humans. Please don't blindly allow them to effect the health and privacy of you and your family without at least doing a little investigation. I have provided places below where you can learn more about the effects of smart meters.

RF radiation is put out by the meters but additionally they can create dirty electricity or what people call electric smog by disrupting the power current in your  house. (This is constant by the way, creating new electric fields in your house.) There is a great book on dirty electricity written by Dr. Milham that you should read. It is a real eye opener. Also see the interview of Louis Donovan to see how a smart meter and dirty electricity effected someone with a pace maker.

RF radiation is classified as a 2B carcinogen by the World Health Organization.

The American Board of Environmental Medicine wrote a letter to the Utilities Commission of the State of California that you might want to read at this link. In the letter they state that the existing FCC guidelines for RF safety being used to justify installation of so called “smart meters” look only at thermal tissue damage and this is inadequate since many modern studies show metabolic and genomic damage from RF and ELF exposures below the level of intensity which heats tissues. There are medical and biological effects from RF and ELF at these lower energy densities. There is accumulation over time which is also not considered but should be since there is chronic exposure over time from the “smart meters”. Here is a two minute video by a public health physician on smart meters.

There are many websites that examine damage from various electromagnetic energies. Here is one that you can get some further information regarding "smart meters".  You will find a long list of "smart meter" data on this site from health symptoms people have had to problems with the meters catching fire or exploding.

As far as the smart meter surveillance, the utility companies are supplying data about households to the government and other paying parties. California utility companies  have admitted they are providing smart meter data to the government and third parties. I suggest you watch this video

If you are interested in opting out of a smart meter and you have Pacific Power you can go to this page and scroll to the bottom to read about opting out of the smart meter.

Check out our related blogs
How Cell Phones Effect Health
5-G Network Health Effects - Scientists Warn World 

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Help Write Oregon Laws With Crowdsourced Lawmaking

I got this amazing email from the Oregon secretary of State, Dennis Richardson. He came up with some wonderful ideas to make the Oregon government more transparent and accountable to "we the people". Ideas that "we the people" on both sides of the isle and even those like me who are unaffiliated with a "side" will like. In fact, I liked his ideas so much (things I have thought should be done in the past), that I am listing them here for you. If you are an Oregonian, he wants your feedback and any additional ideas you have to make Oregon more functional, transparent and accountable. I have corresponded with him in the past and he really does want to hear from you and he responds. I have had to reformat his data to put it on this blog and relink all his draft concepts, so if a link is bad or incorrect, blame me, not him. If you are not an Oregonian, perhaps you want your secretary of state to work on similar ideas and you can send this list to your states secretary.

Help Write Oregon Laws
Oregon’s laws affect you, and they should be written with your input. This is an opportunity for you to participate in crowdsourced lawmaking.

As Oregon’s Secretary of State, I work for you. That is why I’m asking for your input as my team drafts law improvement ideas for the 2019 legislative session. We haven’t even discussed most of these concepts with legislators yet, so you are seeing this list first. 

My mission is to increase transparency, accountability, and integrity in the four focus areas I oversee: Elections, Audits, Corporations (business registration/assistance), and Archives (public records and administrative rules). Each of the concepts below is intended to improve one of these areas.

All of these concepts are works in progress, and there is still much more drafting to be done. As you consider them, please keep in mind that there are potentially some things we’ve overlooked, so please let us know of any issues you may notice. We may choose not to move forward on some of these concepts, but I believe they are all worthy of serious consideration.

Will you help us make these concepts better? Please send your thoughts or suggestions to my Governmental & Legal Affairs Director, Steve Elzinga, at by September 25. 

This is democracy in action. Embrace your inner policy wonk, and let’s dive into this together!

Transparency and Accountability Concepts
Financial Transparency
Oregonians deserve to know how state government spends their hard-earned tax dollars. Full transparency is needed to ensure every agency is accountable while restoring public trust in state government. Years ago, the state launched the Oregon Transparency Website and began posting selected financial information online. Although a good first step, more transparency is needed.

Under the current process, expenditure reports for state agencies are out-of-date, since they are belatedly updated only once a year. Furthermore, non-payroll data does not include the payment date, agency division, budget sub-category, invoice description, vendor city, or reference document numbers. Payroll data does include annual salaries, but omits the many associated monthly payments for overtime, special pay, benefits, retirement, etc. that make up the true cost for each employee. Missing details inhibit transparency about when or where agencies are actually spending money.

For over a year, the Secretary of State’s office has posted significantly more financial details and updated monthly expenditure reports with data from the Department of Administrative Services system used by most agencies. This draft concept would require the Oregon Transparency Website to report similar available financial data for all state agencies.

Audit Accountability
The audit process is critical for identifying needed improvements for state agencies. However, key aspects of the current audit process are not currently codified. This draft concept would ensure that audits include specific recommendations and that agencies specify whether they agree or disagree with those recommendations. This bill would require agencies to report on the implementation status of agreed-to recommendations, and it would require the Audits team to brief appropriate legislative committees on findings.

Audit Whistleblower Protections
Whistleblowers are key to exposing important information about ongoing problems in state agencies. In order to increase transparency and accountability in Oregon government, whistleblowers should be encouraged to share information with auditors by keeping whistleblower reports confidential. Similar to confidential press sources, the prospect of retaliation makes many whistleblowers hesitant to come forward if their identity will be known to their managers, co-workers, and others. 

We consolidated several possible solutions into a draft concept to protect the identity of whistleblowers who request to remain confidential when talking with auditors. Also, it would allow the Director of the Division of Audits, with written approval from the Secretary of State and subject to review by an independent entity, to keep specific information confidential if necessary to protect the identity of a whistleblower. Protecting whistleblowers will provide more overall transparency to the public because information that would not otherwise come out will now be available.

State Email Records Access
With the increased availability of auto-delete features in private email services, it is critical to ensure that state public records are properly retained and available. Use of private email accounts for state business by disgraced former Governor John Kitzhaber and First Lady Cylvia Hayes made it difficult to obtain these public records. This draft concept seeks to prevent state officials and employees from using private email to conduct state business, unless all private emails concerning state business are promptly forwarded to a state account.

Agency Public Records Response Accountability
We are working with the Public Records Advocate on a draft concept that would require state agencies to report certain statistics relating to their response to public records requests. This would be similar to the requirements in the federal Freedom of Information Act and would help hold agencies accountable for how long they take to respond to requests for public records.

Public Records Advisory Council Fixes
We are working with the Public Records Advocate on a draft concept that would make the Public Records Advisory Council permanent to continue the work they are doing on public records reform.

Helping Small Business Concepts
Electronic Notice and Tribal Economic Development
Almost every business in Oregon, both small and large, interact with Oregon’s business registration system. The system is one of the best in the nation, but there is still room for the two improvements in this draft concept.

First, it will provide a more user-friendly experience for Oregon small business owners and nonprofits, while reducing the approximately $400,000 we spend each biennium to mail out over 700,000 notifications. We envision this as being similar to how most utility, banking, and other private sector businesses allow customers to choose to receive email notifications. Specifically, we would like to email our annual notifications and allow business owners and nonprofits to just click on a link in the email to take care of their annual report obligations online. At the same time, we recognize that some business owners will likely want to continue using paper notices and forms, so we will continue to make both options available.

Second, it will allow Oregon businesses owned by tribes or enrolled tribal members to register in a manner that respects tribal sovereignty while receiving the same rate as other Oregon businesses. This will help promote new tribal businesses and enhance economic development.

Red Tape Reduction
We need to reduce the number of unnecessary regulations and rules in Oregon, especially those that hurt Oregon’s small businesses. We’ve launched a website with key facts about Oregon red tape. For example, did you know that Oregon’s Administrative Rules contain over 14.8 million words, which would take the average person 821 hours to read? Also, Oregon can look to the model set by progressive British Columbia, Canada. Their focused effort on reducing unnecessary regulation resulted in over 40% reduction in their regulatory burden since 2001.

As an incremental step toward reducing red tape, this draft concept would require administrative rules be reviewed every five years and that reviews must examine whether a rule is currently the least restrictive alternative to achieving the rule’s purpose. The goal of this bill is more efficient regulation, not deregulation, to help Oregon small businesses thrive.

Elections Reform Concepts
2020 Primary Date Change
Currently, only a handful of states vote for president after Oregon’s May primary. Moving our primary earlier could elevate Oregon’s priorities in the national discussion, give Oregonians more access to presidential candidates, and increase turnout. This draft concept would move the 2020 Primary Election to March instead of May. All contests would be moved, as well as connected deadlines (e.g. candidate filing) to avoid having them fall during the winter holiday. The Secretary of State would have the ability to move the date of the primary (and adjust connected deadlines) in order to coordinate a regional primary with other west coast states.

Nonaffiliated Primary
Although nearly one-third of Oregon voters are not affiliated with a political party, these nonaffiliated voters often feel left out of Oregon’s primary elections. In order to increase voter engagement, this draft concept would create a nonaffiliated primary that allows nonaffiliated voters to have ballot access and empowers nonaffiliated voters to have a larger voice in the primary. Nonaffiliated candidates could file for office like major party candidates, and nonaffiliated voters would have the opportunity to nominate one of the nonaffiliated candidates to appear on the general election ballot. To minimize costs, ballots will include only contests where at least one candidate filed, major/minor party candidates not eligible for write-in votes, and write-in candidates must file a declaration of candidacy with the county elections officer by 8pm on election night for their votes to be tabulated. There will be state reimbursement for county elections costs due to this change.

Voter Choices and Party Equity
Oregon laws impacting political parties currently are written in ways that benefit long-established major parties at the expense of smaller parties. The goal of this draft concept is to help level the playing field between Oregon political parties in order to promote equity and encourage voter choice. 

We are currently considering whether the following provisions would achieve these goals:
•State-funded primaries for minor parties that choose to opt-in for some or all of their races. To minimize costs, ballots will include only races where at least one candidate filed, parties may adopt rules setting minimum thresholds of support to win their nomination by write-in, and write-in candidates must file a declaration of candidacy with the county elections officer by 8pm on election night for their votes to be tabulated. There will be state reimbursement for county elections costs due to this change.

•Smaller parties are at risk of losing their party status as a side effect of the complex interaction between political party laws and the fact that most new Motor Voter registrants are nonaffiliated. One option to address this is to change party maintenance threshold requirements to a percentage of voters registered with a party, instead of a percentage of all voters.

•Another idea under consideration is to allow all political parties the option of adopting party rules allowing candidates to run for their nomination who are not members of the party or who have been members of the party for shorter periods of time than the current 180-day minimum.

•Make other conforming changes to align rights of major and minor parties for vacancy nominations, special elections, presidential electors, etc.

Write-In Efficiency
County elections officials work hard every election to count all the votes we cast. One of the most time-consuming (and thus costly) parts of their job is tallying write-in votes. There are write-in votes for many serious candidates, as well as for Mickey Mouse, Darth Vader, None, and many more. We can ensure that serious write-in candidates can still easily run for office while also reducing the cost of counting non-serious votes, and having final write-in vote totals faster. The draft concept would enable county elections officials to count write-in votes only for candidates who file a short form by the end of voting—8pm on Election Day. This would also save elections officials the cost of mailing confirmation forms to write-in winners, since they will have already confirmed their desire to accept the office if they win.

Campaign Finance Transparency for Ballot Measures
Current law requires contemporaneous campaign finance reporting by those who support or oppose a petition drive only if they are the chief petitioners. After a petition is certified to the ballot, other groups must begin reporting, including with initial assets. This massive loophole allows unreported spending during the summer before the election and allows zero reporting if a petition does not qualify for the ballot. This draft concept closes this anti-transparency loophole.

Miscellaneous Fixes
Each session, the Elections Division submits a list of needed fixes and updates to Oregon’s election laws. The current version of this draft concept includes numerous improvements: protect the right of voters to receive a ballot even if they vote infrequently; allow military and overseas voters to register electronically; campaign finance transparency for ballot measures; remove unconstitutional gender discrimination; remove inefficiencies and ambiguities from the voter list process; protect a period for public comment on explanatory statements; repeal several unconstitutional laws the inhibit free speech and violate the one-person-one-vote standard; change party maintenance thresholds to account for changes from Motor Voter; give political parties more freedom in choosing their own nominees; and align rules for major and minor parties. There were several other elections concepts that we considered adding to this bill or drafting as standalone bills, but we decided to narrow our focus to just these concepts for this session.

Final Thoughts
I know that this was a particularly lengthy newsletter, so thank you for reading all the way to the end. Although it is a bit wonky, I believe that you should be involved in crafting the laws that affect you. My team and I are looking forward to hearing your thoughts!
Do you have an idea beyond the above concepts? I’d also very much like to hear your ideas on other ways to increase transparency, accountability, and integrity in the four focus areas I oversee: Elections, Audits, Corporations (business registration/assistance), and Archives (public records and administrative rules). Please send your ideas to my Governmental & Legal Affairs Director, Steve Elzinga, at by September 25.
Together, we are making Oregon a better place to live, work, and thrive. Thank you for your assistance and involvement.
Secretary Richardson Signature

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Fires in Our Forests – Why Old Growth And Sustainable Tree Farming Can Save Us From Fires

I realize the causes of the forest fires are many and complicated. However, we are focusing on symptoms just as we do in health care. As always there are underlying causes that can not be ignored. 

Monocropping Trees (Industrialized Tree Farming)

It is my opinion that the main issue that has turned our forests into tinder boxes is monocropping of our forests. This is the underlying issue that creates a sick forest. This type of industrialized forest practice grows trees that are prone to stress from lack of nutrients and water. This in turn results in infestation of insects, that in turn leads to dead trees, which are tinder waiting to burn. To understand what I am talking about, I need to share a little bit more information with you.

Commercially trees are monocropped for lumber. It is often conifers that are grown in these forests, generally fir or pine. Growing large swaths of one tree species is similar to growing big fields of one type of vegetable, fruit or herb. These plants usually do not do well unless they are coddled by the farmer. They lack community and protection. The environment lacks the soil biology that supports their ability to receive nourishment and moisture from the soil. This sets them up for poor health and eventually they attract insects that see the large monocrop area as a smorgasbord of their favorite food. The lack of health and vitality of these monocropped plants/trees makes them more susceptible to the insects, drought and disease. Monocropping of plants/trees additionally leads to greater use of insecticides and herbicides by the industrialized farmer.

Trees like to grow in tight groups. They grow their branches away from each other but their roots are intertwined in a loving embrace. Groups of trees grow together from the time they are young. Scientists have found that mother trees support their young and many trees share resources.  Older, mother trees are the most important to the network. When mother trees are removed this social network collapses and it is a disaster for the trees left. They will most likely die. When trees in a forest are harvested and the older mother trees are removed, bushes, fungi, and other plants, lichens, bacteria, and other commensal soil critters that keep a forest healthy all disappear or at least have a very hard time trying to eek out an existence.

In contrast to a natural forest where trees grow together, and share resources, monocrop trees are a vast group of loners who do not communicate and support each other. They don’t receive help from the others as takes place in an older interconnected forest and are more susceptible to any type of environmental stress. 

The fungal web

Trees have an amazing fungal, world wide web under the soil that interconnects them. This underground fungal mycelium network allows them to communicate and share resources. All of the forest, both under and above the ground are interdependent on one another. For details on how this works see Suzanne Simard’s Ted Talk on how trees talk to each other.

How trees share resources through this underground network is interesting. The mass of fungal micorrhiza connect to the trees and network the trees together. This fungal mycelium connects to similar species as well as disparate species. They move things like nitrogen, carbon, phosphorus, water, defense signals, and hormones form one tree to another. This shows a mutualistic symbiosis between many trees.

These micorrhizal fungi associate with  trees all over the world. The fungi help the trees take up minerals and water, while the trees provide sugars from photosynthesis to the fungi. This relationship protects the trees from stress and drought. Under the soil, the fungi create a vast network that links the trees. The network becomes a hi-way for the trees to send messages or nutrients to each other.

Mother Trees and Tree Networking

Older mother trees tend to share their resources more with their young than they do with the other trees. They favor their children. They assist them in their growth to help them get established when young, and continue to communicate more with them than other non-related trees. Mother trees feed their young with a carbon solution. The biggest mother trees have the most links to others. When the mother tree dies they send out carbon and defense signals to their children.

The trees nourish each other and warn each other of impending threats. Trees under attack, tell the others of the issue by using the fungal network. 

Trees need other trees and need a variety of trees and other plants, fungi, and critters to be healthy. Like us, they need community to be healthy and productive.

When you take out too many mother trees, the forests networking system collapses. Trees become stressed and sickly. They are unable to share nutrients, water, and information. They are more susceptible to stress. Insects can more easily devastate a monocrop forest. This has been happening to the beetle infested evergreen forests in the United States for years. Beetles are leaving dead trees all over the place. These dead trees are perfect fire tinder.

Old growth forests have a lot to share with us, as do sustainable forests. The mother trees, the underground world of micorrhizal fungi, and other beneficial organisms are all important, and they all need to be nurtured, and remain as a unified system, or the whole system collapses and the forest dies. This sets the ground-work for unlimited fires, that will continue until all the monocrop forests are burnt to the ground.

Horse Logging, A Sustainable Future

How should we be harvesting trees? Currently, very large machines are removing trees in the forests. They are heavy and damage the micorrhizal fungi under the soil, and they decrease pore size in the soil which in turn decreases the water available. Less water available in the soil leads to stressed and dying trees.

Horse logging is safe to the soil and would not cause the damage to the soil pores and mycorrhiza. Selective cutting with horse logging will protect the forest as an organism. It will also provide additional jobs sorely needed in logging communities.  We need to be thinking about growing and logging families of trees in methods that add to the forest's health or at least does not detract from its health. We don’t want to monocrop rows of trees, we want to selectively remove trees in a radiant forest, and only to the point where the forest can still remain intact and healthy.

Additionally, we need to reduce consumption, reuse and recycle what we are able to, as well as reduce population growth on the planet. 

I suggest you watch a 45-minute movie from Amazon called "Intelligent Trees"