Let me say this about that

By Gene Klare

October 16, 1998

JAN WYERS seeks the votes of union families and their friends as the labor-endorsed candidate for a new Multnomah County Circuit Court judgeship in the general election on Tuesday, Nov. 3.

The Portland-based Northwest Oregon Labor Council, AFL-CIO, endorsed Wyers, a former state senator, for the non-partisan Family Court judgeship over his opponent, Mary Overgaard, whose public demeanor as a traffic court hearings officer has drawn criticism from some judges and attorneys. Local union delegates to the labor council backed Wyers after examining the credentials and records of both candidates.

Wyers compiled a 90 percent pro-worker voting record on the Oregon AFL-CIO's scorecard in his 12 years' service in the Oregon Legislature at Salem. A Democrat, he represented the southeast Portland district where his family lives.

"FOR MORE THAN 20 years, Jan Wyers has represented working families as their lawyer, helping them solve their problems and disputes fairly and efficiently," said former State Senator Richard Springer, who is helping Wyers with his campaign. "We really need to get Jan's message to union members, their families, friends and neighbors so they remember to vote for him when absentee ballots arrive in the mail in mid-October or when they go to the polls on Nov. 3," Springer told the Northwest Labor Press.

Springer, a Portland attorney who has represented injured workers against insurance companies, also said of Wyers: "Jan will do a great job on the bench, just as have Bud Lent and Harl Haas, to name a couple of lawyer-legislators who were later elected as judges."

Judge Haas said: "Jan Wyers has the skill and toughness to enforce community standards in Family Court. I watched him get started when I was Multnomah County's DA for eight years. Now, as a Circuit Court judge, I see him representing people in my court. Wyers has the backbone a judge needs."


WHEN ANTI-UNION BOB TIERNAN withdrew from a Nov. 3 general election runoff for a seat on the Oregon Supreme Court, his action raised a number of questions: Why did he wait until it was too late to remove his name from the ballot? Was his announcement a ploy to lull his opponent, William Riggs, into not campaigning? Were disclosures pending that would embarrass him? If so, did he withdraw as part of a deal to avoid the disclosures?

Whatever the answers might be to those and other questions arising from Tiernan's surprise announcement, one thing seems apparent: Tiernan left his financial supporters with little to show for their investment in his candidacy.

Tiernan's biggest campaign contributors were those two right-wing multimillionaires who've spent millions on ultra-conservative, anti-union causes and candidates in the 1990s: Loren Parks and Mark Hemstreet. The publicity-shy Parks, who lives in Hillsboro and owns a non-union, high-tech medical equipment manufacturing plant in Aloha, dumped about $60,000 into Tiernan's May primary campaign for a voice and vote on the state's highest court. The spotlight-loving Hemstreet, who owns the non-union Shilo Inns chain of motels and eateries, came close to matching Parks' largess with $55,000 for fellow publicity-loving Lake Oswegan Tiernan, according to reports on file at the state elections office in Salem.

ANOTHER MAJOR SOURCE of campaign fuel for Republican Tiernan, who spent two noisy terms at the Legislature in Salem and runs an anti-union labor relations consultancy, was his father-in-law Ed Hart, also of Lake Oswego, who kicked in $11,000. Hart founded the Payless drug store chain which after several ownership changes is now the Rite Aid chain. (Rite Aid, incidentally, gave $5,000 to the re-election campaign of Gene Derfler, a state senator from Salem who's the leader of the Republican majority in the Senate. Hemstreet also came through with $5,000 for Derfler, who's the most anti-union Oregon legislator since Tiernan was defeated in 1996.)

Tiernan's other in-vain contributors to his judgeship race included the Monarch Hotel's $5,000 (the Clackamas motel has given thousands to worker-bashing ballot measures and right-wing candidates including Oregon Taxpayers United's Bill Sizemore's current Republican campaign for governor); Carr Auto Group of Beaverton, $3,000, and $5,000 from John McArdle of Reno, who listed his occupation as retired. Among others who ponied up for Robert Reis Tiernan's campaign was his father, attorney Robert Tiernan of Diablo, Calif., who sent $100.

Tiernan spent more than $200,000 in the May primary where he finished second to Riggs, who was then on the Oregon Court of Appeals. Riggs was appointed to the Supreme Court vacancy he's running for by Governor John Kitzhaber after Tiernan announced his puzzling withdrawal.

Although he's no longer campaigning for the Supreme Court, Tiernan's keeping his name in the news as the front man for the foes of a South-North expansion of Tri-Met's light-rail system.


A UNION MEMBER living in Oregon House of Representatives District 8 in eastern Washington County and southwest Multnomah County reports receiving hit pieces against incumbent Democrat Ryan Deckert, who compiled a good labor voting record in his first term in the 1997 session at Salem.

A slickly put-together mailing distorted Deckert's voting record, but did not identify who paid for it. However, the smear did list a return address that turned out to be the home address in Raleigh Hills of Deckert's Republican foe, a man named Henri Schauffler. The Republican, who's running for political office for the first time, has been described by Willamette Week as a member of the Moonie church run by the Korean owner of the right-wing Washington Times paper.

And in a letter attacking Democrat Deckert, Gene Biggi of Beaverton Foods, Inc., accused him of supporting a $3,000 tax on new homes and, among other things, also charged: "His campaigns are bankrolled by big labor unions."

The pro-Deckert union member said he found in his refrigerator a plastic jar of Beaver horseradish made by Biggi's Beaverton Foods but vowed to buy another brand next time.


W.L. (BARNEY) BARNETT, a retired officer of Salem Painters Local 724 and of Portland-based Painters District Council 55, died in his sleep at his Salem home on Sept. 24. He was 82.

He was the recipient of a Gold Card from the International Brotherhood of Painters and Allied Trades, emblematic of more than 50 years of membership in the union. Barney, a native of Denison, Texas, put in a hitch in the U. S. Army before joining the Painters. In recognition of his service to his country, he was buried at Willamette National Cemetery in southeast Portland.

He served as financial secretary and business agent of Local 724 and later was elected executive secretary-treasurer of District Council 55. He retired from the council in 1978 after the death of his son Rockne. However, Barney continued as financial secretary of Local 724 until last year.

He is survived by his wife "Tip" of Salem; a daughter Marne, who lives in Massachusetts, and three grandsons.


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