Reflections on Independence Day

David Gomberg

Reflections on Independence Day

Hello Friends,

Several years ago, Susie and I did a project to support disabled children in a township near Cape Town, South Africa. I walked to an internet café to check my mail and was greeted with a warm smile. “Hello! Happy Freedom Day!” said the owner.

“Thank you! But we’re not from here. Tell me about Freedom Day.” I replied.

“Of course!” he beamed. “This is the fourth anniversary of us being able to vote!”

I thought about this chance encounter over the holiday weekend as we celebrated our independence, freedoms, and rights. We have made voting so easy in Oregon. I wish more of us cherished the opportunity.

Sunday morning I woke to disturbing news. The night before, a group of seven young men on the beach confronted a Black family with racial slurs and Nazi salutes. Local police responded and formed a line between the group and the family allowing them to safely leave the beach and return to their hotel. The group then turned their attention on the police, challenging them to fight and firing illegal fireworks. Ultimately these visitors from Washington State were arrested and charged with Riot, Interfering with Police, Disorderly Conduct II, Harassment, Possession of Illegal Fireworks, and Offensive Littering. 

I have said publicly before and will say again, I support free speech of any perspective but oppose violence, vandalism, and intimidation.

I have said publicly before and will say again, that when any child is bullied, every child is at risk. When any woman is assaulted, every woman is threatened. A swastika painted on any home or business defaces every home and every business.

This difficult summer has certainly exacerbated the divisions among us. But to be clear, I find it disgusting that any family might be confronted with hostility and incivility while visiting our beautiful beaches on a national holiday. Our local police handled this difficult situation well. Our communities are warm, kind, and welcoming. We look out for each other. Despite our differences, I continue to believe in the fundamental decency of people who live here.

Let's continue to make the coast an inviting and inclusive place.

I’m continuing to hear from people concerned about COVID. And they should be! We now suffer the highest unemployment in the state, the highest per-capita positive count, and the highest proportion of vulnerable residents. We are continuing to see an increase in infections and very sadly, some local fatalities.

Whether you are concerned about community spread or exposure imported by visitors, then masks, social distancing, and common sense are your best defense.

OHA activities by risk

My office is working every day to get benefits and support to people unemployed or underemployed.

  • Unemployment Benefits: If you are still waiting for news from a regular unemployment or PUA claim, please email us with your claim number and contact details.
  • Rent and Housing: There is now a moratorium on both evictions and foreclosures. For help paying rent (funds are sent direct to landlords) call 541-704-7506 or visit Click here for more information. 
  • Phone and Internet Assistance: Whether for personal relationships, safety, or continuing to pursue benefits, connectivity is essential. The Oregon Telephone Assistance Program, also known as Oregon Lifeline, will temporarily  discount telephone or high-speed internet service for low-income households. Visit or call the PUC at 1-800-848-4442, M-F 9 am to 4 pm, for more information, including eligibility requirements.
  • Health Insurance: The State has extended its emergency order for health insurance companies through Aug. 2, 2020, The order requires health insurance companies to provide at least a 60-day grace period to pay any past-due premiums, pay claims for any covered services during the first 30 days of the grace period, extend all deadlines for reporting claims and other communications, and provide members with communication options that meet physical distancing standards.

Forestry Deal: Last week I reported the Legislature was finally able to pass the landmark deal reached between thirteen conservation and fishing organizations and thirteen forest industry companies.

  • Improved stream buffers on salmon and steelhead streams in the Rogue-Siskiyou region.
  • New 50 foot buffers against aerial spray of pesticide near tens of thousands of miles of small streams.
  • Much larger buffers against aerial spray of pesticide near homes, schools, and drinking water intakes.
  • A first-in-the-nation system to allow people living near forest land to sign up for 24 hour electronic notices before aerial spray of pesticide occurs, along with increased transparency.
  • Funding to begin mediation between representatives of the parties to bring a fuller package of rules to increase protections for threatened and endangered aquatic species.  Topics will include stream buffers, steep slopes, and roads.

This measure creates an important bridge for further discussions to be had and reforms to be proposed between the forestry and conservation communities.  I encourage all stakeholders and everyone interested to remain engaged in those talks.

Minimum Wage Increasing: Decisions approved in 2016 require minimum wage increases every July 1 through 2022. The amount varies depending on where in Oregon you work. Throughout District 10, the new rate is $12 per hour.

BOLI wage map

There continues to be a lot of work going on. I will likely be called into a meeting of the legislative Emergency Board later this week to allocate critical support funds for our cultural institutions and small businesses. 

As always, please let me know if I can ever be of service. Stay safe and look out for each other.


Warm Regards,

Representative David Gomberg
House District 10


phone: 503-986-1410
address: 900 Court St NE, H-471, Salem, OR, 97301