A log truck parks in front of Oregon's capitol on June 22 as part of a protest against HB 2020, a cap and trade bill. Photo: Kevin Magwood

VERNONIA - A normally-sleepy corner of Columbia County comes to life this weekend as the annual Vernonia Friendship Jamboree & Logging Show runs from August 2-4.

The logging show, which typically attracts about 7,000 people into town -- almost triple the size of the town’s population -- is a so-called living monument to Vernonia’s heritage as a logging community that aims to bring together people who lived in town prior to the local logging industry’s collapse in 1957, others currently in the industry, and people who remain friends to this day in Vernonia and via long-distance communication. 

But this year, the logging industry plans to roll into Vernonia en masse -- en masse for Vernonia that is -- in an unprecedented display in favor of recalling Governor Kate Brown. 

Nicole Sullivan, advertising and sponsorship director for the Vernonia Friendship Jamboree & Logging Show, said the last she heard there were about 30-35 logging trucks planning to be in the event’s parade -- in solidarity of the recall efforts. 

Rumors flying around Vernonia put the number of logging trucks closer to 100, said one city official who wished to remain anonymous, but Sullivan said it was just that -- a rumor.

“We’ve been trying to get people to turn in applications (to be in the parade) sooner than later so we can plan the route accordingly,” Sullivan said. “We had one individual from one of the (two) recall efforts contact us through Facebook inquiring about sending people to the jamboree to collect signatures for their recall petition. We told them we would prefer politics not to be part of the jamboree. We want the community to have a good time; not bring people together and separate them based on their political views.”

Two recall efforts underway

On July 15, exactly six months after Gov. Brown was sworn into office following the 2018 Oregon elections -- Oregon law requires an elected official to hold office six months before a recall petition can be filed -- the Oregon Republican Party (ORP) and a group calling itself Flush Down Kate Brown filed individual petitions to recall her from Salem.

Both groups cited Brown’s support of a cap-and-trade climate bill, which ultimately failed after a group of Oregon Republican senators staged a dramatic walkout from the state capitol before fleeing the state so that a quorum could not be reached for the cap-and-trade vote. 

Then, within 48 hours after the legislature was dismissed, Brown threatened to sign the bill into law by using her executive power as governor, bypassing the legislature in the process. Just the threat of taking executive action to pass the cap-and-trade bill into law was enough to motivate industry groups to move against the governor. 

The ORP’s petition also cites Brown’s support of House Bill 2015 -- legislation allowing undocumented immigrants to obtain an Oregon driver’s license. HB 2015 passed through both houses of the Oregon legislature and remains on the governor’s desk, waiting for her to sign it into law. 

The Flush Down Kate Brown group, along with support from the Oregon First political action committee, cited as reasons for recalling Gov. Brown her “severely reducing our kicker tax refund, raising taxes mercilessly … The PERS (Public Employees Retirement System) program has gotten out of control and needs to be fairly addressed for all retirees,” that “Oregon’s sanctuary state status has been a debacle,” and “illegal aliens should not receive driver’s licenses as it may circumvent illegal voting.”

(The Banks Post was not able to independently confirm the claims of Flush Down Kate Brown by press time, but will do so in a follow-up story.)

Shilo Weston, one of Flush Down Kate Brown’s leaders, said that as of Aug. 1 the group already collected 70,000 signatures of the 280,050 needed to get the recall placed on the ballot. And the signatures legally cannot be combined from both petitions. 

It also should be noted that many political campaign observers say not every signature gathered for ballot initiatives is from a registered voter. So, at this time there is no way to tell how many registered voters actually have signed the petition, published reports from around the U.S. confirm. 

One elected official from a town in Washington County, who chose to remain nameless so as not to appear divisive, said there is an understanding, at least anecdotally, that at this time some of the signatures that appear on the petitions are being sampled by election officials to test their verification.

“The test sample revealed it was a mixed bag of political affiliations,” the official said. “It wasn’t just (angry) Republicans. ”

The Flush Down movement’s perspective

“We started organizing last February with just a few people,” Weston said. “Now, we’ve grown to over 21,000 member-volunteers and others who support (our recall petition). Each person puts in blood, sweat, tears, and money, which allows us to have multiple locations in every county throughout the state.”

When asked specifically what Gov. Brown has done that warrants a recall effort, Debbie Dage of Flush Down Kate Brown struggled to come up with anything specific the governor did that makes Dage want to see her recalled. 

“I can’t think of anything she’s necessarily done wrong, but I can’t think of anything she’s done at all, period, so what does that tell you?” Dage said.

The Banks Post reached out to Gov. Brown for comment but was told by one of her spokespeople that the governor chooses not to respond publicly to questions regarding the recall effort at this time. 

The Democratic Party of Oregon (DPO) maintains the majority of Oregonians voted for Gov. Brown, and she has support across several counties, according to information posted on its website. The DPO did not return phone calls seeking comment. 

The Vernonia Friendship Jamboree & Logging Show 

The Vernonia Friendship Jamboree & Logging Show is run by a small committee of volunteers. The jamboree features vendors selling all of the same types of creature comforts available at most festivals, such as food and beverages, and assorted merchandise. Additionally, there will be a car show, motorcycle show, ana equestrian events.  

Saturday, Aug. 3 the jamboree kicks off at 7 a.m.with a Friends of the Banks Public Library holding a book sale until 11 a.m. 

The jamboree already is underway, but for more information about the event send email to Info@VernoniaFriendshipJamboree.com or go online to the jamboree’s contact page.

To read the schedule of events, please visit the jamboree’s home page

(This is the first article in an ongoing series about the recall effort of Gov. Kate Brown.)