Driver's card issue now a waiting game

For a litany of volunteers, this was a week of hopes realized and hopes dashed.

On Monday, the Secretary of State’s Election Office began scrutinizing referendum petitions submitted by the group Oregonians for Immigration Reform and the paid private firm Signature Gathering Company of Oregon.

The OFIR group hopes to have collected 58,142 valid signatures to qualify Referendum No. 301 for the November 2014 ballot. It believes residents, not lawmakers, should decide whether the state should issue driver-privilege cards to individuals without DMV-required documentation, such as a birth certificate or passport. Gov. John Kitzhaber signed Senate Bill 833 in May, which authorizes the issuance of driver’s-privilege cards beginning in January.

OFIR had volunteers witness the elections staff as it started the certification process. The elections office accepted the petitions Oct. 4 and has 30 days to determine whether a representative sample validates the referendum for next year’s ballot. It is too early to know if the group has enough valid signatures, but its president, Cynthia Kendoll, believes it does because more than half of the petitions are “e-sheets,” or single-signature pages printed out by the voter, signed and then mailed back to the group.

Volunteers from other groups such as CAUSA Oregon and the Oregon Safe Roads Coalition also observed the election office staff at work. These groups had individuals on hand to ensure that the signature-vetting process was handled correctly because they hope the petition for the referendum fails to qualify for the ballot.

They had previously welcomed the governor’s signature on SB 833.

Many of these individuals don’t see the issue as a de facto immigration policy, but believe it makes the roads safer for all Oregonians.

Ron Louis, a 33-year veteran of law enforcement and retired chief of police in Hillsboro, doesn’t want to wade into the immigration debate. He doesn’t believe the driver-privilege card is an inroad to granting anyone in the country illegally the rights afforded U.S. citizens. He views the cards as a matter of public safety, and he points to their success in other states such as Maryland, New Mexico, Utah and Washington as validation for his point of view.

“It just allows anyone without the typical documentation to drive and get insurance. And it puts them through a testing process that hopefully makes them safer driver,” Louis said. “It ensures that they minimally understand rules and road signs, and I’d much rather have every driver alongside me have this education.”


Two Hillsboro men sentenced to prison for methamphetamine possession

Summary: Two men accused of dealing methamphetamine have been convicted and sentenced in Washington County Circuit Court.

Read the full story.

NOTE: Gerardo Barriga-Avalos and Manuel Avalos-Pina - ICE HOLDS

Chief Petitoner and OFIR VP has his say about driver cards

Gifted writer and OFIR VP, Richard LaMountain explains why Oregonians should be concerned about the new law, SB 833, passed by the Oregon Legislature.  Protect Oregon Driver Licenses - filed a citizen's referendum to place the issue on the ballot so voters, not Legislators, can decide if this is right for Oregon.  PODL has gathered and submitted 71,000 signatures, which are currently being scrutinized by the Secretary of State's office for verification.

Read LaMountain's opinion piece about driver cards for illegal aliens.

Questions for Legislators at upcoming Townhall meetings - they want to know what's on your mind

In the 2013 regular session of the Oregon State Legislature, all Democrats present voted for HB 2787, a bill to grant instate tuition to illegal aliens, and also for SB 833, the bill giving driver cards to illegal aliens.

In the House, 5 Republicans voted for the instate tuition bill: Cliff Bentz, Vicki Berger, John Huffman, Mark Johnson, Julie Parrish. In the Senate, these 3 Republicans voted for instate tuition: Bill Hansell, Bruce Starr, Chuck Thomsen.

Voting for driver cards to illegal aliens were these Republican House members: John Davis, Vic Gilliam, Bob Jenson, Mark Johnson, Greg Smith, and these Republican Senators: Herman Baertschiger, Brian Boquist, Ted Ferrioli, Larry George, Bill Hansell, Chuck Thomsen.

If you have an opportunity to attend a town hall, or to speak elsewhere to your state senator and representative, please tell them about your concerns regarding illegal immigration. We are listing some suggested questions that could be raised with your legislators, particularly with all Democrats and those Republicans who voted for instate tuition and driver cards for illegal aliens.

1. A legislator’s main responsibility is to put the interests of citizens first. It is not in the public’s economic interest to encourage illegal immigration by giving accommodations to illegal immigrants and making life here comfortable for them. Unemployment and very low wages are serious problems in Oregon now. In August, over 150,000 Oregonians were unemployed; our unemployment rate was 8.1%, well above the national rate of 7.4%. The U-6 unemployment rate, which includes part-time workers who want full-time work, and discouraged workers who’ve given up active job-search, was 16.9% according to the latest figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Are you O.K. with forcing unemployed and underemployed citizens to compete with unlimited numbers of illegal aliens for jobs?

2. Employers should not be allowed to hire illegal labor. Instead of passing laws to give illegal aliens instate tuition and official driver privileges; you could have worked in the last session of the Legislature to make E-Verify mandatory for all employers in Oregon. This would open up jobs for citizens and legal immigrants and discourage illegal immigration. Will you promote a requirement for employers to use E-Verify for current work forces as well as new hires?

3. The rule of law is the foundation for good government. It is undermined when illegal immigrants are allowed to enter and remain in this country unimpeded, and encouraged to remain here by giving them benefits paid for from public funds. How can citizens respect law when they see it so flagrantly ignored by illegal immigrants and their employers, and legitimized in the Legislature by bills accommodating illegal immigration?

4. Giving driver cards to illegal aliens will not improve safety – quite the opposite. There is no way the Oregon DMV can accurately certify the identity of the thousands of illegal aliens who will apply for driver cards. Identify theft and falsified documents are common, and hard to detect. Besides the illegal aliens now living here, others from the 45 states that don’t give driver licenses to illegal aliens will come to Oregon to take advantage of our weak law. Safety concerns focused only on possible traffic accidents miss the larger risks. Do you care about the dangers of terrorism from holders of fraudulent driver cards issued in Oregon?

5. Before the 2008 Driver License law was passed requiring proof of citizenship for driver licenses, the state did issue licenses to illegal aliens. There is no evidence that the roads were safer then than in the 5 years since the 2008 law was passed. Therefore it’s not logical to expect greater safety now by again giving illegal aliens official driver cards. Do you think it’s worth weakening the secure driver license law enacted in 2008 for an only nebulous degree of safety from traffic accidents?

6. Expenses for attending college are daunting for most citizens, and places in public colleges are necessarily limited by taxpayer funds available for maintaining higher education. The claims by some that giving instate tuition to illegal aliens will have no effect on enrollment of citizens are illogical and unbelievable. Why should our citizen young people have to step aside to make room for illegal aliens who will be in competition with them for college enrollment? -- There was no effort by leaders in the Oregon Legislature to curtail or stop illegal immigration when there are many such steps available to state legislatures, and other states have passed such laws protecting citizens.

Legislators want to hear from you at upcoming Townhall meetings

Alert date: 
Alert body: 

Our state legislators hold town halls from time to time, inviting constituents to attend and express their civic concerns. As OFIR learns about the town hall schedules, we will alert members and encourage attendance. Town halls are a great opportunity to meet your legislators and question them in person. If you learn of town halls scheduled for your district, please send the information on to OFIR.

Read more about questions to ask State Legislators at upcoming townhall meetings.


Legislature OK's driver's licenses for immigrants who are in the country illegally

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - After years of setbacks, Democratic lawmakers and Latino activists are on the verge of seeing immigrants who are in the country illegally granted the right to a driver's license in California. Read the full story.

Return filled referendum petition signature sheets by Sept. 27

Alert date: 
Alert body: 

Volunteers have been working hard to collect the 58,142 signatures Protect Oregon Driver Licenses needs to get SB 833 on the ballot next fall.

If you have filled signature sheets, please sign them and send them in by Friday, Sept. 27 so we can begin processing them before the Secretary of State's deadline of Friday, October 4th.

Please continue to collect signatures up until the deadline.  We need all the signatures we can get.

But, please send in now, any filled sheets you have accumulated so far.

Thank you for all your hard work, your time and dedication to get the job done!  We can't do it without you!

A happy outcome is just around the corner, if we all keep working up until the deadline.





Kingpin of mid-valley drug operation gets 18 years

Rogelio Gonzalez-Martinez bragged to his cohorts that he was an elk, and when it came to catching drug dealers, cops could only snare the deer.

During testimony at Gonzalez-Martinez’s sentencing in Benton County Circuit Court on Friday, Special Agent Mike Wells of the Oregon Department of Justice described the defendant’s two wire-tapped phone calls on Feb. 22, 2012.

“During the conversation, he’s laughing; he’s referring to himself as the elk and that he always gets away,” Wells said.

Less than a month later, Gonzalez-Martinez and 26 others were arrested after investigators served more than three dozen search warrants in Benton, Linn and Marion counties and seized cash, firearms and drugs. Pounds of methamphetamine, heroin and cocaine were discovered buried at rural sites and in homes — including Gonzalez-Martinez’s — in what local and state investigating agencies referred to as “Operation Icebreaker 2.”

Characterized as the leader of the sophisticated operation, which imported drugs from Mexico and distributed them throughout the mid-valley, Gonzalez-Martinez was sentenced Friday to 18 years in prison and three years’ post-prison supervision.

In his testimony, Wells said that intercepted phone calls revealed that Gonzalez-Martinez was at the top of the drug network. He worked closely with his brother Abel Gonzalez-Martinez, who worked mostly with Juventino Santibanez-Castro. Identified as the second and third in command, the two each were sentenced last December to 10 years in prison.

The months-long investigation revealed that Rogelio Gonzalez-Martinez knew where the drugs were hidden and that he was alerted whenever drugs were running low or related problems were encountered, Wells said.

“There were 604 drug-related conversations that Rogelio had with other individuals (during the investigation),” Wells said.

Investigators listened to calls in real time, as the drug deals were unfolding.

‘More sophisticated’

Gonzalez-Martinez used code when he referred to business, he and others changed out their phones, and they performed counter-surveillance, such as driving in loops to make sure no one was following them. They hid drugs in rural locations, in some cases burying them in Linn and Benton county locations.

“They were better and more sophisticated than other cases that we investigated,” Wells said. “… Rogelio was very disciplined in what he did.”

Under the direction of Icebreaker 2 investigators, Oregon State Police pulled over and arrested Gonzalez-Martinez in March 2012 as he was driving north on Interstate 5 in Josephine County, Wells recounted. Based on intercepted phone calls, investigators suspected that he was running drugs — but they couldn’t find them, even after towing, dismantling and X-raying his vehicle.

Finally, after authorities agreed to release his wife — who was in custody in Linn County — Gonzalez-Martinez agreed to tell them where the drugs were. Heroin was stashed inside hollowed-out wooden legs of a wicker laundry basket in the trunk of his vehicle.

However, Gonzalez-Martinez’s attorney, Paul Ferder, argued that the drug operation was no more sophisticated than other drug rings, noting that the use of code words, stashing drugs in safe houses, changing out phones and other methods used in the operation are common practice in the drug-dealing business.

Ferder also questioned the investigators’ method of performing controlled drug purchases, which increased in quantity each time. The practice, he said, developed a position of trust that made a person sell more than he normally would.

“Then you use that substantial quantity to justify (a higher sentence),” he said. “I refer to that as sentencing entrapment.“

Ferder added that his client had no prior criminal history, and that that he was not being accused of carrying out violence related to drug dealing.

Prosecuting attorney Shannon Kmetic of the Department of Justice said that the defendant didn’t deserve a break.

“Mr. Gonzalez — he doesn’t use; he’s not an addict that we should feel sorry for,” she said. “He is a businessman who gets other people to become addicts that take a toll on this community.”

Gonzalez-Martinez didn’t speak during the proceeding. Members of his family were among the few who attended.

Judge Matthew Donohue gave Gonzalez-Martinez 10 years for a racketeering charge and eight years for the additional five charges related to dealing methamphetamine and heroin.

“This was an extensive organization that moved an exceptionally large quantity of drugs — both heroin and meth and cocaine, highly addictive drugs — into our community,” Donohue said as he delivered the sentence. “The defendant was basically the instrument. Without the defendant, I don’t see this organization being as successful as it could be because he was the main supplier.”

Woman sentenced for role in drug ring

A woman arrested last year in connection with the Icebreaker 2 drug bust was sentenced in Benton County Circuit Court on Friday to 31 months in prison and three years’ post-prison supervision for her part in the mid-valley drug operation.

Kim Cheryl Zib, 54, entered a no-contest plea to one count of racketeering as part of the agreement with prosecutors.

Zib had seven prior felony convictions and was recorded through a wiretap “accepting large amounts of drugs,” Benton County Chief Deputy District Attorney Christian Stringer said at her arraignment hearing last year.

Zib, who has a mailing address in Philomath, was arrested in July 2012 at her family’s residence in the Waterloo area outside of Lebanon, four months after a warrant for her arrest was issued.

Dozens of people were arrested in Benton, Linn and Marion counties as part of the drug bust. With Friday’s sentencing of Zib and the kingpin of the large-scale drug operation, Rogelio Gonzalez-Martinez, out of the way, the Benton County District Attorney’s Office has only one Icebreaker 2 case left to prosecute, Stringer said.

Stringer didn’t know the status of cases in Linn and Marion counties.

Rogelio Gonzalez-Martinez - ICE HOLD


A novel approach to get petition signatures: the drive-through

A group dedicated to overturning a new Oregon law that grants driver-privilege cards to people without conventional documentation has come up with a quick way to gather petition signatures.

It’s encouraging motorists to participate in drive-through democracy.

“You don’t even need to get out of your car,” said Jim Ludwick, the group’s communications director. “Just drive up, sign the petition and drive away.”

From noon to 8 p.m. today, Oregonians for Immigration Reform will set up cones and signs in a parking lot near its billboard at Market Street and Savage Road NE, which is west of Interstate 5 in Salem.

Volunteers will be ready with petitions for motorists to sign as well as supplies for those who want to gather additional signatures among their friends, neighbors and family, Ludwick said.

The group is trying to overturn Oregon Senate Bill 833, which Gov. John Kitzhaber signed into law in May in front of thousands of cheering supporters at the Capitol. The bill authorized driver’s cards for those lacking documents to obtain a regular driver’s license.

OFIR contends that the law gives driver privilege cards to people who are in the country illegally.

Kitzhaber said at the time that SB-833 ensured that thousands of Oregonians could drive to and from work, school, church and errands.

Ludwick said his group needs to collect 58,142 valid signatures to submit to the Oregon Secretary of State’s office by the Oct. 4 deadline.

“We are very optimistic we’ll meet the number,” Ludwick said. “We have had an amazing number (121) of unsolicited requests for these petitions from cities across the state.”

Jan Flowers, a compliance specialist with the elections division of the Secretary of State’s office, said she wasn’t aware of other groups collecting signatures via a drive-up queue, but she said it was a legal signature-gathering technique.

“As long as they witness the signature, it’s no different than if someone walked up and signed,” Flowers said.

Oregonians for Immigration Reform also will staff a booth outside of the southeast corner of the Columbia Exhibit Hall at the Oregon State Fair, which opens today.

Petition drive

What: Drive-through signature gathering
Where: [West of I-5 Exit 256] Market Street and Savage Road NE
When: noon to 8 p.m. today
Why: To qualify ballot measure to overturn Senate Bill 833

Rep. Bonamici schedules town halls


We encourage you to attend Town Hall meetings in your district and throughout your state.

Your elected officials will be hosting the following events:

Topic: Clatskanie Town Hall Meeting
Official: Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR 1st)
When: 09/21/2013
Starts: 09:30 AM
Until: 10:30 AM
Where: Clatskanie Middle
High School Gymnasium
471 SW Bel Air Drive
Clatskanie, OR 97016

Topic: Astoria Town Hall Meeting
Official: Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR 1st)
When: 09/21/2013
Starts: 11:30 AM
Until: 12:30 PM
Where: Astoria Public Library
Flag Room
450 10th Street
Astoria, OR 97103

Topic: Tualatin Town Hall Meeting
Official: Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR 1st)
When: 09/22/2013
Starts: 01:30 PM
Until: 02:30 PM
Where: Tualatin Public Library
Community Room
18878 SW Martinazzi Ave
Tualatin, OR 97062

Topic: Hillsboro Town Hall Meeting
Official: Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR 1st)
When: 09/22/2013
Starts: 03:30 PM
Until: 04:30 PM
Where: Hillsboro Civic Center
C117 Auditorium
150 E. Main Street
Hillsboro, OR 97123

Topic: Banks Town Hall Meeting
Official: Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR 1st)
When: 09/28/2013
Starts: 11:00 AM
Until: 12:00 PM
Where: Banks Fire Station
Training Room
300 S Main Street
Banks, OR 97106

Topic: Yamhill Town Hall Meeting
Official: Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR 1st)
When: 09/28/2013
Starts: 01:00 PM
Until: 02:00 PM
Where: Yamhill-Carlton High School
120 North Larch Place
Yamhill, OR 97148

Topic: Beaverton Town Hall Meeting
Official: Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR 1st)
When: 09/29/2013
Starts: 12:00 PM
Until: 01:00 PM
Where: Beaverton Interpretive Center
Beaver Den Room, Nature Park Interpretive Center
15655 SW Millikan Way
Beaverton, OR 97006

Topic: Sauvie Island Town Hall Meeting
Official: Rep. Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR 1st)
When: 09/29/2013
Starts: 02:00 PM
Until: 03:00 PM
Where: Sauvie Island Academy Gym
14445 NW Charlton Road
Portland, OR 97231

We urge you to attend the upcoming Town Hall meeting to share your concerns about the Senate "Gang of Eight" amnesty bill.

Click here for helpful resources to help you lobby your Senator about this bill.

Please call your elected official's district office to verify the date/location of the Town Hall event. We use our best efforts to obtain reliable information, but schedules change frequently.

We all know that politicians are famous for talking one way at home, and then voting another way when they get back to Washington, D.C. We'd love to hear about the meetings that you attend and we would appreciate any feedback that you could give us.

Please forward this message to your family and friends.



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