Sunday, July 29, 2018

Op-Ed printed on 7/29/18 in the BEND BULLETIN about House Democratic leader Jennifer Williamson's  hostility to public safety 

In its editorial on July 22, The Bulletin’s editorial board was entirely correct to highlight the current epidemic of car theft in the Bend-Redmond area. It is even worse in other parts of the state, such as Portland, where car theft has increased by more than 50 percent. And the board is also entirely correct to place the blame for this at the feet of our Court of Appeals for the 2014 and 2015 decisions that made it extremely difficult to legally prove car theft, “to the point of absurdity” as they put it.
In 2008, the last time property crime was skyrocketing, voters overwhelmingly passed Measure 57, which included the felony crime of auto theft.
It carries the possibility of a prison sentence if the criminal is a repeat offender. Common sense told the voters (and they were right) that incarceration reduces crime because while in prison an active property criminal cannot victimize the public.
[Oregon House] Majority Leader [Jennifer] Williamson is the second most powerful politician in the House of Representatives and an avowed “anti-incarceration” zealot. She has opposed the ballot measure which targeted career felony property offenders (Measure 57) and has made repeated attempts to take serious felony property crimes out of Measure 57.
In the 2017 and 2018 legislative sessions Oregon district attorneys attempted to fix the law. It was Majority Leader Jennifer Williamson who led the effort to remove auto theft from Measure 57 by reducing it to a misdemeanor, thereby stopping the legislation from passing. During the past two years, hundreds, if not thousands, of victims have suffered needlessly while car theft rates have skyrocketed. Any suggestion that Majority Leader Williamson has not been the biggest roadblock to fixing the law is simply not accurate.
Despite all these difficulties, we stand ready and eager to work with legislative leadership to restore crimes, such as auto theft, under Measure 57 and honor the will of Oregon voters.
— John Foote is the district attorney for Clackamas County. Josh Marquis is the district attorney for Clatsop County.