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Lining the river

The end of free fishing weekend did not deter less than a dozen anglers from taking advantage of the waning light Monday to fish on the North Umpqua River near River Forks Park. Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife offered a free fishing weekend Saturday and Sunday. The weather forecast for anglers calls for highs near 86 Tuesday and 90 on Wednesday before dropping back into cooler temperatures later in the week.

OSP looking for Dean Creek elk poacher

A bull elk was shot with an arrow and left to waste Friday near Reedsport.

The Oregon State Police Fish and Wildlife Division is asking for the public’s help in finding the person who unlawfully killed a bull elk at the Dean Creek Elk Viewing Area near Reedsport.

Troopers responded Friday night to a report of a six-point bull elk that had been shot with an arrow and left to waste.

An investigation revealed that there was no effort made to harvest meat from the animal.

The public is urged to call Oregon State Police Trooper Brian Koell through the Turn in Poachers (TIP) hotline at 1-800-452-7888 or 541-888-2677, ext. 244.

The elk viewing area is maintained by the Bureau of Land Management, and offers visitors a chance to learn about elk and the site’s heritage. According to the BLM website, the series of pastures along Highway 38 maintained by the organization are a year-round residence for a herd of 60-100 Roosevelt elk.

Photo courtesy of OSP  

A bull elk was shot with an arrow and left to waste Friday near Reedsport.

Chaos marks start of Kavanaugh confirmation hearing

WASHINGTON — Quarreling and confusion disrupted the start of the Senate’s confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh on Tuesday, Democrats trying to block the proceedings over documents withheld by the White House, while protesters interrupted the session in a persistent display of opposition.

In his opening remarks released ahead of delivery, Kavanaugh sought to tamp down the controversy over his nomination, which would likely shift the closely divided court to the right. He promised to be a “team player” if confirmed, declaring that he would be a “pro-law judge” who would not decide cases based on his personal views.

But Democrats raised objections from the moment Chairman Chuck Grassley gaveled the committee to order. They want to review 100,000 documents about Kavanaugh’s record being withheld by the White House as well as some 42,000 documents released to the committee on a confidential basis on the eve of the hearing, along with others not sought by Republicans on the committee. For more than an hour senators sparred while protesters repeatedly shouted at them.

“We have not been given an opportunity to have a meaningful hearing on this nominee,” said Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., made several motions to adjourn, saying if the confirmation continued, “this process will be tainted and stained forever.”

Grassley denied multiple requests to postpone, defending the document production as the most open in history. He said the chaotic scene was something he’d “never gone through” in 15 past confirmation hearings.

More than two dozen protesters, shouting one by one, disrupted the hearing at several points and were removed by police. “This is a mockery and a travesty of justice,” shouted one woman. “Cancel Brett Kavanaugh!” Others shouted against the president or to protect abortion access. “Senators, we need to stop this,” called out one.

Struggling to speak over protesters, Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said: “These people are so out of line they shouldn’t be in the doggone room.” As patience thinned and tempers flared, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, denounced what he called the “mob rule.”

As for the documents, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., quipped that senators would have had to read 7,000 pages an hour overnight just to review those dropped Monday evening.

The panel’s top Democrat, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, sought to provide context for the frustration coming from her side of the aisle.

“These are very unique circumstances. Not only is the country deeply divided politically, we also find ourselves with a president who faces his own serious problems,” she said referring to the investigations of top administration officials. “So it’s this backdrop that this nominee comes into.”

With majority Republicans appearing united, it’s doubtful the hearings will affect the eventual confirmation of President Donald Trump’s nominee. But they will likely become a rallying cry for both parties just two months before the midterm elections. The White House sent out a summary of how many times Democratic senators tried to halt the session with motions and questions, while Republican campaign officials denounced Democrats as “grandstanding” and “pandering” to the “resistance base” of voters.

Kavanaugh sat silently, occasionally sipping water and taking notes on senators’ points. He was invited to introduce his parents, wife and children, who sat through much of the outbursts before being escorted out of the room. Also present were outgoing White House Counsel Don McGahn and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

In prepared opening remarks, Kavanaugh declared he would be even-handed in his approach to the law.

“A good judge must be an umpire, a neutral and impartial arbiter who favors no litigant or policy,” Kavanaugh said.

“I would always strive to be a team player on the Team of Nine,” he said.

The Supreme Court is often thought of as nine separate judges, rather than a team. And on the most contentious cases, the court tends to split into conservative and liberal sides. But justices often say they seek consensus, and they like to focus on how frequently they reach unanimous decisions.

Kavanaugh, 53, has served for the past 12 years on the federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., which is considered the second most important court after the Supreme Court. His conservative record includes a dissenting opinion last year that would have denied immediate access to an abortion for an immigrant teenager in federal custody.

Kavanaugh worked in key White House positions when George W. Bush was president and was a member of independent counsel Kenneth Starr’s legal team that investigated President Bill Clinton in the late 1990s, leading to Clinton’s impeachment.

As a young lawyer, Kavanaugh worked for Justice Anthony Kennedy, whom he would replace. Kennedy retired at the end of July. Trump’s first nominee, Neil Gorsuch, was a Kennedy law clerk the same year as Kavanaugh.

Questioning of Kavanaugh will begin Wednesday, and votes in committee and on the Senate floor could occur this month. Kavanaugh could be on the bench when the court begins its new term on Oct. 1.

Grassley has called Kavanaugh “one of the most qualified nominees ever picked for the court.” The American Bar Association has given Kavanaugh its highest rating, well qualified.

The 42,000 documents released to the committee Monday pertained to Kavanaugh’s work with previous administrations. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer complained it was impossible to go through them in time. Democrats have also complained that they have not received all relevant documents.

Rebuffed in their request to delay the hearing, Democrats are planning to shine a light on Kavanaugh’s views on abortion, executive power and whether Trump could be forced to testify as part of special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.

Many Democratic senators already have announced their intention to vote against Kavanaugh and many Republicans have likewise signaled their support. A handful of Democrats seeking re-election in states Trump carried in 2016 could vote for Kavanaugh.

If no Democrat ultimately supports the nomination, the Republicans have no margin for error in a Senate they control by 50-49. Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska are the only two Republicans even remotely open to voting against Kavanaugh, though neither has said she would do so. Abortion rights supporters are trying to appeal to those senators by focusing on concerns that Kavanaugh could vote to limit abortion rights or even overturn the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling from 1973 that first established a woman’s constitutional right to an abortion.

Democrats have been under intense pressure from liberal voters to resist Trump, and many remain irate, even two years later, over the treatment of Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court, who was denied so much as a hearing last year by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Kavanaugh, in his statement Tuesday, gave a shout-out to Garland, “our superb chief judge.” Garland is the chief judge of the appeals court on which Kavanaugh has served.

Democrats are powerless to delay a vote on Kavanaugh since McConnell led Republicans, during the Gorsuch nomination, in eliminating the 60-vote filibuster threshold that had been in place for Supreme Court nominations.

Saturday's First Annual Great Umpqua Nutcraker race and Bash

More than 2,000 people closed out summer at The Great Umpqua Bash at Stewart Park on Saturday, leaving organizers feeling elated about the success of the inaugural event.

“I thought it went exceptionally well,” said Mike Ripley, promoter for Mudslinger Events. “For a first-year event, I would give it a B+ or A-. The bash was well received and a great way to combine the community.”

The bash kicked off at 6 p.m. and packed the park with food trucks and a beer and wine garden — marking the first time alcohol sales were allowed in the park. Attendees and representatives from wineries and breweries felt it was a successful event.

“The breweries and wineries were happy with the performance of the event,” said Umpqua Economic Development Partnership Executive Director Wayne Patterson. The event was organized by the partnership.

Saturday’s event was also the post party for the first N.U.T.cracker mountain bike trail race. The ride was the first of its kind — an invitational bringing in some of the best trail riders from the West Coast to tackle a 60-mile stretch of the North Umpua Trail.

“The course was as hard as I expected. One of the hardest races in America, and in my opinion, as hard as the Full Growler race in Colorado,” Ripley said. He said the partnership, Canyon Creek Bicycles, and the Douglas County Emergency Hamm group were key to the success of the event, as were the other 35 volunteers.

The lawn in front of the Nichols Band Shell filled with spectators to take in one last summer concert — Mo’ Jo Boogie — while a large screen behind the band featured race photos and a video. Awards were presented by Ripley, who referred to Douglas County as “Bend 25 years ago” — an area with grand potential.

The Umpqua Valley Bicycle Outreach was also at the bash and had kids lined up trying out mountain bikes and participating in activities. Kids crafts and face painting was available.

Patterson said one of the many goals of the partnership is to put on a new event each year for the community and to attract tourism. The first annual event started by the group was The Great Umpqua Food Truck Competition. He and his staff feel this event was a great experience for the community — getting people from the outside to experience the trail and county.

“One of our tasks is how to build our Douglas County brand. It has to be culture based. What better way to bring in the North Umpqua Trail and the river — our best resources — and build that as our identity,” Patterson said.