Chris Lehman

Oregon Correspondent

Chris stays on top of political developments in Salem, Oregon. But that's not all he does. Breaking news from central Oregon to the Pacific Coast is fair game for this versatile reporter.

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The mural in downtown Corvallis, Ore., is big: 10 feet high and 100 feet long. One side shows a peaceful countryside setting in rural Taiwan. The other shows police beating protesters in Tibet and a Buddhist monk setting himself ablaze in protest.

SALEM, Ore. - A candidate for Oregon state Attorney General faces an unusual new opposition campaign. Democrat Dwight Holton has become the target of medical marijuana activists. Holton faces retired judge Ellen Rosenblum in the May Democratic primary.

Medical marijuana groups say Holton cracked down on marijuana growers and distributors during his time as a federal prosecutor. He served Oregon’s U.S. attorney for two years.

The Associated Press

A group that opposes same-sex marriage is taking its boycott of Starbucks to the other side of the world.

Cliff Mass

Spring arrives next week, but this week still looks like winter in Washington.

The National Weather Service says a front moving through the state Monday is bringing strong winds and rain to Western Washington, heavy snow to the Cascades and snow in much of north central and northeast Washington.

High winds knocked out power for tens of thousands of people in northwest Oregon and western Washington on Monday.

Tuesday's ruling overturning California’s ban on same-sex marriage is not expected to affect similar laws in other states. Oregon and Idaho also have voter-approved amendments against gay marriage.

But Washington lawmakers are poised to send Governor Chris Gregoire a measure allowing gays and lesbians to marry.

TIGARD, Ore. – Oregon lawmakers will consider a plan next month to consolidate the ways the state distributes its economic development dollars. Oregon Treasurer Ted Wheeler outlined Monday what he’s calling the "Oregon Investment Act."

The problem, says Ted Wheeler, isn't a lack of money.

Ted Wheeler: "There are in fact significant dollars allocated by the legislature towards economic development. But they're highly fragmented across different agencies. Not only are they fragmented and siloed, but they're inflexible."

Oregon's timber dependent counties are still hoping for a federal rescue. But they're creating contingency plans in case Congress doesn't come through with a replacement for historic timber revenue.

Officials from eight counties met with Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber Monday to discuss their options. Some counties say they could become insolvent in the next year without additional funding.

SALEM, Ore. - Local governments in Oregon's Willamette Valley have made various attempts at regional collaboration in the past few decades. Now, a group is trying to create a more formal relationship. City and county officials meet in Salem Monday to discuss a possible compact to band together on key issues.

The Willamette Valley stretches from Portland south to Eugene. It includes the state capitol and is known for its diverse agriculture. Some two-thirds of Oregon's population lives in the valley.

SALEM, Ore. - Oregon vote-by-mail system will be affected by plans to cut next-day delivery of first class mail. The US Postal Service announced that change in service Monday.

Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown says once the new delivery standard takes effect, voters should mail their ballots by the Thursday prior to a Tuesday election, just to be safe.

But Brown says she still wants voters to have enough time to make up their minds. So she says she'll ask lawmakers to approve an earlier date for county elections offices to mail out ballots.

Chris Lehman / Northwest News Network

SALEM, Ore. – The first inmate to be executed in Oregon since 1997 will have his hands wrapped in gauze to prevent any final obscene gestures. That's one detail that emerged Friday during a media tour of the state's execution chamber.

Michael Clapp / Northwest News Network

The research is clear that the key to keeping a mentally ill teen in treatment and out of trouble is early intervention. Yet, most counties in the Northwest do not offer comprehensive treatment to kids in the initial stages of a mental breakdown.

Keep an eye out for trick-or-treaters as you head out on the roads this evening Despite the down economy, retailers expect Halloween spending will rise this year.

The National Retail Federation's annual Halloween spending survey found that the average person plans to spend about $72 on costumes, candy and decorations. That's a jump of more than $15 over the past two years.

Chris Lehman / KPLU

SALEM, Ore. - The Oregon Land Board gave the go-ahead Tuesday to a plan that will dramatically ramp up logging in a state forest in the Oregon Coast Range. The action came amid protests.

Environmental groups bused in protesters from Portland and Eugene. Long-time activist Tre Arrow led the group in a sing-along outside the Land Board headquarters.

Tre Arrow: "The time is now for the people to rise up."

Soon, trains will once again roll down the rail line to the Oregon coast port of Coos Bay. A key rail link that was abandoned four years ago is set to re-open this month.

The previous private owners of the 110-mile rail link abruptly shut it down in September of 2007 citing deteriorating tunnels and track conditions. The Port of Coos Bay bought the tracks and used about $25 million in state and federal money to rehab the line. The Port's Martin Callery says it means sawmills and other shippers in the region won't be dependant on trucks alone to get their products to market.

EUGENE, Ore. – Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber assured a gathering of blue-collar union workers Wednesday that he is still on their side, despite anti-union sentiment in states like Ohio and Wisconsin.

The Democrat spoke at the annual convention of the AFL-CIO in Eugene. He told the crowd unions helped him get elected to an unprecedented third term. The labor coalition endorsed Kitzhaber in last year’s elections.

The governor pledged to work with unions to create so-called “family-wage jobs.”

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