LEWISTON, Idaho –
Matthew Sitko was terrified. He had driven his 2000 GMC Yukon through a yard and over shrubs and over trees before coming to a rest on the edge of a cliff. The vehicle was supported by a chain link fence before preventing it from falling on the roadway below.
29-year-old Jason Warnock pulled Sitko out of the car Wednesday, April 15 before police arrived. Warnock followed the debris left by the vehicle’s path to Yukon.
At first, he tried to break the passenger window but was unable to do so.
“Every time I hit it, the thing rocked like it was going to fall,” Warnock said.
Instead, he calmed Sitko down and had him roll down the window so he could pull him to safety.
“God put me in the right place at the right time,” Warnock said.
Warnock was not publicly identified until the next day since he left before the police arrived.
“Well the cops are there,” he said. “You know, so [Sitko’s] is in good hands now. And I gotta go frame some walls.”
Warnock doesn’t feel he deserves any credit.
“I just did what anyone would do and went right back to work,” he said.
The Lewiston Police Department thanks Warnock for his “quick and decisive actions in helping Mr. Sitko and preventing the situation from worsening,” Roger Lanier, interim police chief, said.
Warnock doesn’t like all the attention and said he would rather be fishing in the mountains than reading about himself.
About a dozen Tumwater High School students decided they had to make a statement against sexual assault.
“There are people that are very close to me that have been sexually assaulted,” freshman Andrew Murrow said.
“No one talks about it at all. It is something that needs to be talked about,” senior Kosal Gonzales said. “You can’t just let it hide in the shadows.”
High school counselor Todd Caffey inspired students to join the broader “No More” movement. The movement strives to bring awareness of domestic abuse and break down barriers of stigma, silence, and shame that keep people from seeking help and taking action before problems arise.
The first idea the group had was to make a video.
Caffey and a group of male students used national statistics but estimated the scale to the amount of students at Tumwater High.
“We basically just took 25 percent of our freshmen, sophomores, juniors, seniors and attributed it to if national data was applied to Tumwater,” Caffey said.
“These are our friends, girlfriends, students, and classmates. I say no more,” a student said in the video.
The discussion on raising Oregon’s minimum wage to $15 an hour has continued for months. Now, the state’s legislature is considering action.
On Monday, the Oregon House and Senate held a public hearing to discuss a variety of bills that would raise Oregon’s minimum wage. Each bill’s specifics vary but the main proposal is that the minimum wage would rise, in increments, to $15 by 2018.
For over four hours, members of the House and Senate heard testimonies from about 100 people on the topic.
Arguments for and against the proposal followed the typical pattern.
Proponents argue the current minimum wage is not enough as families still live below the poverty line. In addition, proponents argue that a higher minimum wage would increase spending, boosting the local economy.
Opponents are also concerned about the local economy and that businesses would have to cut jobs or raise prices. They also contend that a mandated minimum wage would be unfair for skilled workers who have earned higher wages.
A work session has been scheduled for April 20. The leaders in each legislative body have opposing views.
House Speaker Tina Kotek mentioned she wants a “timely” increase while Senate President Peter Courtney said he’d prefer to give his attention to other priorities, such as paid sick leave.
To stand a chance against business groups who have urged lawmakers not to consider the wage increase, a ballot measure would need money and volunteer power from labor groups.
Russell Sanders, spokesman for the Oregon AFL-CIO, has yet to take a position on the ballot measure.
“We definitely understand the frustration in where they’re coming from with the ballot measure,” Sanders said. “We’re not saying we support it or we don’t support it today. We’re going to see how things are playing out in the Legislature.”
Many Oregonians support the income gain as it would help them rise above poverty levels. Critics worry employers will have to fire workers to make up for the higher wage.
Bill Perry, lobbyist for the Oregon Restaurant and Lodging Association (one of the most vocal opponents of a wage increase) said the attempt to seek a ballot shows that advocates are unwilling to compromise.
“The fundamental problem with a lot of the interest groups that operate in Oregon is they tend to not want to compromise,” Perry said. “So if you don’t want to compromise, you go to the local level or to the ballot measure. If they want to do that, because they don’t want to compromise, that’s their prerogative. But we will organize to try to bring it to an actual discussion.”
California pregnancy centers may soon be forced to promote abortions, according to pending legislation.
AB 77, the Pregnancy Counseling Discrimination Rule, would require all pregnancy centers to promote abortions. Failure to comply would mean a $500 fine for the first offense, and $1,000 for each subsequent offense.
Fertility Physician Lori Arnold wrote about her concerns for LifeNews.com:
“California’s grisly abortion industry is in the midst of a government-sponsored boon,” she said. “In 2013, the state waived safety regulations for abortion clinics (AB 980) and reduced the medical standards required to perform abortions by allowing certain nurses to do the surgeries (AB 154). And last year, the California Department of Health cut all medical reimbursements by 10 percent while increasing taxpayer funding of abortions providers by 40 percent.”
The bill would require clinics to provide free and confidential support services to pregnant mothers. These services include referrals to Medi-Cal programs, which promote abortions.
“Under the provisions of AB 77, PCC’s [Pregnancy Care Centers[ that provide medical services such as ultrasounds would be required to refer all clients to Medi-Cal programs that provide free abortions,” Arnold said. “In addition, any non-medical centers that offer free counseling, pregnancy support, and parenting classes would be required to post signage stating they are not licensed facilities.”
CareNet, one of the largest chains of pregnancy centers in North America, opposes the legislation. Eve Marie Barner Gleason, director of Center Best Practices, explains why she believes the measure is clearly biased.
“The abortion industry in California has a problem,” Gleason said. “They have already ensured a steady income stream by getting abortion funded by taxpayers through Medi-Cal. But some women choose to seek information and assistance in making a pregnancy decision at centers where they receive accurate information about abortion risks and are empowered to choose life. They see every choice for life as money lost.”
Residents can contact members of the Assembly Health Committee to oppose the bill.
Guitars over Guns (GOGO) is a mentorship program that Chad Bernstein founded to help keep kids off the street and in school. The organization promotes music as an alternative to violence.
Musician Chad Bernstein and his father, Bob, founded GOGO in 2008. The organization helped more than 240 middle and high school students stay in school, reducing dropout rates.
Students work with professional musicians exhibiting the organization’s “three pillars: mentoring, instrument instruction, and ensemble training.”
The program began in Miami and now has a chapter in Chicago. A professional musician himself, Bernstein started GOGO “to use music as a tool to help transcend the cultural, religious, and social barriers.”
GOGO teaches students how to play a number of instruments, including guitar, trumpet and keyboard. The children also learn skills toward music production. Mentors help students one-on-one throughout the school year. At the end of the year, students have an opportunity to perform in a student concert.
The organization encourages students to use music to combat negative emotions.
“It is so apparent that they feel like they have found something they can identify themselves through, the arts and music,” Bernstein said. “And a sense of belonging and ownership goes a really long way in making these kids leaders who have the confidence to make the right choice.”