Early Monday afternoon, I received an email with a couple of troubling attachments, seen below…

Letter to Governor Brown from DEQ (large file, opens in DropBox)

“Cleaner Air Oregon Announces Inspection Blitz”

In the letter from DEQ Interim Director Pete Shepherd, Governor Brown is informed that DEQ will be performing “surprise inspections” on Oregon businesses that hold permits allowing them to release chromium and other metals. Is this a knee-jerk policy reaction to happenings in Flint, Michigan and more recently in Portland relating to hazardous metals? Probably. 

By all accounts, Mr. Shepherd is a good man with a sound reputation. He can’t help the fact that he is at the mercy of a legislative body and Governor that by and large do not connect the impacts of these unannounced inspections on the businesses they intend to “surprise”.

As soon as I received the letter with the businesses listed, I made a call down of all Salem and surrounding area permit holders. There were some conversations with body shop owners and implement manufacturers that have the best of intentions and were grateful for the heads up (Mr. Shepherd intends to send notices of these inspections to all 316 Oregon permit holders on May 16th). Any extra notice that can be provided only helps these job creators have their documentation in order, and can alleviate extra stress in the process.

One owner-operator I spoke with said that the DEQ paid him a visit regarding this particular permit no more than six months ago. He jokingly said he was about to hire a full-time position to assist solely with DEQ compliance issues. He is a good actor, but commonly feels guilty until proven innocent when regulatory agencies come knocking.

This evening, I thought about how fortunate we are in Salem. Bear with me for a second…some cities have created bureaucracies that have authority to reach as far into businesses as the aforementioned DEQ, EPA, or any other bureaucratic entity with legislative authority that convicts first and asks questions later. An over-reaching city council can find ways to interrupt job creation. Fortunately, they haven’t here. Yet.

If you’re wondering whether I’m turning this into a “help us win these City Council races” blog post…the answer is a resounding YES. Do Chuck Bennett, Jan Kailuweit and Warren Bednarz promise to enact policies the way Salem Chamber members want them to every time? Heck no. But I can tell you this…I’ve been asked by each of them on multiple occasions “what do your members think about (insert issue here)?” This kind of engagement is imperative as it relates to helping Salem attract job creators. I’ve yet to be asked this question by any of their opponents. Volumes are spoken in this lack of interaction.

We’re finishing this election season strong, and we need…I mean need…all hands on deck. We’ll be walking with the candidates the next two weekends, holding signs in support of Salem Chamber endorsed candidates at high-traffic intersections and writing letters to the editor. Drop me a line, you’ll be quickly plugged in. The work we do now means a growth minded City Council that respects the business you and your team have built so you can create productive jobs, not jobs geared at dealing with compliance at the City level.



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