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Plus, liberal organizations make money criticizing extremists and other states have worse drug problems

COURTESY PHOTO - Commissioner Nick FishSince City Commissioner Nick Fish's announcement last month that he's fighting cancer, he's received words of encouragement from colleagues and everyday Portlanders alike, many of whom have praised his service on the City Council.

Especially noteworthy is the praise from John Gibson, president of Southwest Neighborhoods Inc., which includes the part of town where Fish had been criticized for allowing the Portland Water Bureau to sell surplus property to a developer with only limited public notice.

Fish ultimately agreed and persuaded the council to adopt a much more transparent process for selling surplus properties.

Gibson did not mention that incident in his September column in the neighborhood coalition's monthly newsletter. But he responded to Fish's announcement by writing, "based on my 40-plus years of observation and involvement with Portland city politics, I have no doubt I've not seen a more skilled, talented or better person serving as City Commissioner than Nick Fish."

Gibson went on to commend Fish for voting to build the more expensive and effective options for fighting cryptosporidium in the Bull Run watershed, even though he is up for re-election next year.

Raising money off extremists

After Donald Trump was elected president last November, he became the favorite target of Democratic candidates and liberal organizations looking to raise cash. In Oregon, everyone on the left from Oregon Gov. Kate Brown to local pro-choice groups urged their supporters to help them resist his policies.

But especially after the racial violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, fundraising appeals have also targeted far-right extremists. For example, on Aug. 31, the liberal advocacy organization Defend Oregon sent out an email seeking funds to oppose three proposed ballot measure petitions. In the email, the organization said the measures were supported by "extremist groups," "white supremacists," "heavily armed extremists," and "a hate group funded by white supremacists."

The proposed measures would repeal a new state law allowing firearms to be taken from a person deemed dangerous by a judge, repeal a new tax on medical providers to help fund the state's Medicaid program, and repeal an existing law preventing state and local law enforcement officers from cooperating with federal officers when immigration status is the only crime under investigation.

Oregon drug problem not so bad?

Oregon has a national reputation as a haven for junkies, fueled in part by such movies as "Drugstore Cowboy" and "My Own Private Idaho" by local filmmaker Gus Van Zant. But according to a new report by the Centers for Disease Control, heroin deaths have risen much faster in the Midwest and Northeast than on the West Coast over the past five years.

According to the report released last Thursday, although heroin overdose deaths quadrupled nationwide between 2006 and 2015 across the country, in Oregon they dropped from a high of 3.2 per 100,000 people in 2012 to 2.2 in 2015.

The report says prescription painkillers are a much bigger problem in Oregon. They accounted for 4.5 deaths per 100,000 people in 2015, although that was a drop from 6.5 in 2006.

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