Blogs: Current events

The COVID-19 pandemic presents many unique legal challenges. Here are some ways to get the information and support you need during this difficult time. (Check out Law help: legal research assistance and legal aid for more resources.)
 
Note: It is against state law for library staff members to engage in any conduct that might constitute the unauthorized practice of law; we may not interpret statutes, cases or regulations, perform legal research, recommend or assist in the preparation of forms, or advise patrons regarding their legal rights.
 
If you have questions or need research suggestions, contact us anytime!

Renters

Oregon’s statewide eviction moratorium expired on June 30, 2021 and is no longer active. But help is available -- even if you receive an eviction notice. Two new laws, Senate Bill 282 and Senate Bill 278, provide important protections to help tenants. Renters are protected from nonpayment evictions if they apply for rent assistance and provide documentation of their application to their landlords. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s temporary protection from eviction may also offer protection to renters. You have the right to all of these protections regardless of your citizenship status.
 
Apply for rental assistance online from the Oregon Emergency Rental Assistance Program (Allita) if you need help paying your rent (or back rent that you’ve accrued between April 2020 and June 2021). If you need assistance with your application, you can call 211info at 2.1.1 or 866.698.6155, or the administrators of Multnomah County Emergency Rental Assistance at 503.988.0466.
 
If you or your household receive an eviction notice for nonpayment of rent, contact 211info immediately to learn about rapid-payment rent assistance that may help you avoid eviction. Call 2.1.1 or 866.698.6155, text your zip code to 898211, or email help@211info.org. You might also be able to get free legal help from the following:
 
If you are unsure of your legal rights, you can also contact the Community Alliance of Tenants Renters Rights Hotline at 503.288.0130. They are available Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays 1-5 pm, and Tuesdays 6-8 pm.
 
The most up-to-date information for renters can be found on 211info’s Multnomah County Rent Relief page.
 

Homeowners and landlords

 
Applications for the last round of the Landlord Compensation Fund were due June 23. Landlords are encouraged to work with tenants to keep them in place so they can apply for help with back rent. Here is more information for landlords and property managers about the Oregon Emergency Rental Assistance Program.
 

Workers and business owners

Though most statewide mask and social distancing requirements are no longer in place, Oregon OSHA continues to handle complaints on those requirements that remain (such as for public transportation and correctional facilities). If you need to report hazards at a worksite, or believe you have been discriminated against on the basis of safety and health issues, you can file a complaint online or call 503.229.5910.
 
The Oregon Bureau of Labor & Industries has information on the rights and responsibilities of workers and employers regarding sick leave, quarantine, vaccinations and more. For more information, call 971-673-0761, email help@boli.state.or.us, or file a complaint online.
 
If you lost income during the pandemic, you may qualify for unemployment benefits. Contact the Oregon Employment Department for assistance by calling 833-410-1004 or filling out their contact form online.  
 
If you are an agricultural worker recovering from COVID-19, seeking healthcare, and/or practicing quarantine and isolation, the Quarantine Fund can help. Call 1-888-274-7292 to apply.
 
If you are a restaurant worker whose life has been affected by the pandemic, check out this list of resources for restaurant workers compiled by the Restaurant Workers' Community Foundation.
 
If you own a business  that has struggled during the pandemic, Lewis & Clark Law School's Small Business Legal Clinic has a list of pandemic-related legal resources for small businesses. Greater Portland also has a list of resources for everything from finding grants for small business loans to  using space in the public right-of-way.
 

Immigrants and Refugees

The Oregon Attorney General has compiled a list of COVID-19 resources for immigrants and refugees. Protecting Immigrant Families has an overview of some of the federal public programs available to support immigrants and their families during the COVID-19 crisis. Call the Oregon Public Benefits Hotline at 800.520.5292 for legal advice and representation in regard to problems with government benefits.

If you have lost your job but are ineligible for Unemployment Insurance and federal stimulus relief due to your immigration status, the Oregon Worker Relief Fund may be able to help. Call 888.274.7292 to apply for a one-time temporary disaster relief.
 
Here is a list of low cost legal resources for immigrants in the Portland Metro area.
 

Consumers

Beware of scams related to COVID-19! Both the Oregon Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission have lists of common scams and frauds and how to avoid them. If you have a complaint about an Oregon-based business or charity, file a complaint online or call the Oregon Attorney General’s Consumer Hotline at 1.877.877.9392. If you want to report fraud or scam from a business or charity based outside of Oregon (or if you aren’t sure of the location), notify the Federal Trade Commission.

a blank Oregon marraige certificate
So by now it’s old news: same-sex couples in Oregon have the right to marry on equal footing with opposite-sex couples.  

Deciding whether or not to marry can be a very personal and emotional matter.  And planning a wedding, goodness knows, has myriad practical, interpersonal and emotional aspects. But deciding whether to marry and/or planning a wedding may also have legal implications.  For same-sex couples, the legal implications can be complex, unfamiliar or just plain unclear.  Never fear, though -- librarians are here to help!  Let’s pick apart some of the questions same-sex couples might face as they consider marriage:

Deciding if you want to marry

The opening up of marriage laws is an unequivocal joy for some couples who want to marry.  For other individuals and couples, the ability to marry legally raises both questions and concerns.

One great way to navigate this challenge is to learn more about your options.  And one option is: not getting married.  Unmarried Equality is a California-based civil rights organization which advocates for “equality and fairness for unmarried people, including people who are single, choose not to marry, cannot marry, or live together before marriage.”  Their website provides information about and support for a variety of ways to be unmarried, as well as some resources for and about people who consciously choose not to marry.

Actually getting married

Have you decided to marry?  In Oregon, the first technical step in getting married is to get a license, from the county in which you will wed.  The Multnomah County Division of Assessment, Recording & Taxation issues marriage licenses in Multnomah County, and their website lists all the requirements and fees for getting a marriage license -- and explains the steps you’ll follow once you have your license. The ACLU of Oregon also has a helpful FAQ about getting married in Oregon, which includes a directory of the marriage license offices for all 36 Oregon counties.

Once you have your license, you’ll need to find an officiant -- usually this is a religious leader or judge.  Your county clerk or registrar’s office may have a list of judges and other officials who can perform a marriage.

Next, have your ceremony!  

Miscellaneous practical matters

Marriage can change your tax status or have an effect on your estate planning, property ownership, child custody arrangements, and a whole host of other business-like issues.  Making It Legal: A Guide to Same-sex Marriage, Domestic Partnerships & Civil Unions, by Frederick C. Hertzwit & Emily Doskow (both attorneys!) is chock full of practical information and advice about the many legal and practical issues that arise for same-sex couples who marry or register their relationships.  The book is extra new -- just updated in January 2014 -- and should have mostly up-to-date information (though Oregon marriage law changed in May, so remember to look to more current resources for specifics on Oregon same-sex marriage specifically).

If Making it Legal isn’t for you, check out one of these other books about LGBTQ couples and the law.

D-i-v-o-r-c-e

Dare I say it, you may also want to think about what will happen if your relationship doesn’t last until death do you part.  If this is an issue you want to consider, it might be helpful just to hear about other LGBTQ people’s experiences with divorce.  Kathryn Martini’s thoughtful column about her own divorce in the July 2013 issue of the local PQ Monthly is one place to start.

Making it Legal also talks about special issues in same-sex divorces -- as do several of the library’s other books on LGBTQ couples and the law.  Or, you might want to consult with an attorney to get advice about your own unique situation:

Getting expert legal help

Do you have other specific questions about marriage and its implications for your taxes, child custody, inheritance and the like?  If so, you may want to get personal legal advice.  Or perhaps you and your spouse have already married or entered into a formal domestic or civil partnership, and you have questions about your status.  I’m a librarian and not an attorney, so I can’t give legal advice.  But librarians are always happy to help you locate resources!  

Here are a couple of great places to start with your specific same-sex marriage legal questions:

The civil rights organization Lambda Legal has a legal help desk (call 1-866-542-8336) which “provides information and assistance regarding discrimination related to sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and HIV status.”  Lambda Legal's website also includes a section about the changing legal issues around marriage and family law for LGBTQ individuals, couples and families.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights provides legal assistance to people with LGBTQ-related legal questions as well as a small library of resources on specific legal issues

And, the Oregon State Bar has a lawyer referral service that you can use to help get in touch with a local attorney who works in the right area of law for your specific needs.

 

Do you have other questions?

Please, ask a librarian anytime for more resources to help with your queer legal research (or really, with your anything research!).  Or visit your local county law library for a wider range of legal materials. 


Although we are always happy to help you locate resources and give you search tips, it is against state law for library staff members to engage in any conduct that might constitute the unauthorized practice of law; we may not interpret statutes, cases or regulations, perform legal research, recommend or assist in the preparation of forms, or advise patrons regarding their legal rights.


 

Do you read Facebook or Twitter for news? Subscribe to a newspaper? Peruse websites, or watch videos? In an era of so many choices for information, how do you make a judgement about what's fact, what's slanted and what's just completely untrue? 

Here are some tips for evaluating what you are reading, listening to or viewing.  

  1. Consider the source. You can learn more about a website by clicking on the "About Us" link  that most provide, but don't stop there. Research the organization or author's credentials. If statistics are cited, see if you can find the source, and double-check that they are represented correctly.  
  2. Read beyond attention-getting headlines to check the whole article. If a statement is made, is a source given? Click through to check the sources, and do your own searching on those citations.
  3. Check the date. Sometimes old news stories resurface, and they might be out of date or inaccurate. If currency is important, limit your search to recent results
  4. Watch for bias, including your own. Check different sources to see how each treats a news item. Consider your own beliefs and perspectives and think about how that might change how you perceive what you are seeing. 
  5. Too weird to be true? If something seems implausible, see what fact-checking sites like Snopes, PolitiFact, and FactCheck have to say. 

For more about being a smart information consumer, check out the infographic, "How to Spot Fake News", provided by The International Federation of Library Associations. If you're more of a visual learner, take a look at the CRAAP test video from librarians at California State University. If you'd like to engage in some deeper learning, try this 3 hour online course, Check, Please!

And remember, if you're looking for reliable information, get in touch with us. We're always happy to help.

 

Gun rights and gun control are topics that come up often these days. It can be hard to find good resources that present multiple viewpoints on issues like this, and provide quotable sources.

An excellent electronic resource is Opposing Viewpoints in Context. It provides links to articles, videos and audio files from multiple viewpoints (you will need a library card # and password in order to access this electronic resource from outside of the library).

 For the legal history of gun control, check out Infoplease’s Milestones in Federal Gun Control Legislation  which covers laws up until 2013.

L.A.R.G.O. Lawful and Responsible Gun Owners and the N.R.A. National Rifle Association both support gun ownership in America. The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence and The Violence Policy Center both work to reduce gun violence. The Violence Policy Center is also a good resource if you’re looking for statistics related to gun violence (including drive by shootings and suicide).

This Guardian article compares gun crime in individual states and FindLaw shares Oregon Gun Control Laws. FactCheck looks at statistics in the media after the Newtown shootings, and reports on Gun Rhetoric vs. Gun Facts.  Looking towards changes in the law, gun control is supported by more women than men, and that may have an effect on future legislation.  But right now,  despite repeated pleas for change after every mass shooting, nothing seems to change. 

Need some specific gun facts or laws we haven’t covered? Contact a librarian and we’ll be glad to help

Child in voting booth looking up at camera
Families can help children learn about the government through talking, reading and playing. And teaching children how the government works from an early age helps them become good citizens in the future, especially when it comes to voting.

Start with what your children know or have heard from the news, friends and family. Be sure to discuss the importance of respecting different points of view and seeking the truth. You can also read books, play games with younger and older kids, and show them your ballot and the pamphlet with the candidate's information. Take them with you when you drop off your ballot or put it in the mail. Maybe even hold your own elections at home!

And it doesn’t end with voting - your family can continue to learn throughout the year about the government system in America and what it means to be a good citizen. Below are some book lists for all ages that will help!

This post is part of our "Talking with kids" series, and was featured in our monthly Family Newsletter. Sign up for the newsletter here, and email us at learning@multcolib.org if you have any questions.

Difficult conversations are happening in our country, states, cities and homes about race, racism, and anti-racism. These are not topics only for adults though. Talking with teens, tweens and younger children is important. Research has shown that children as young as six months notice race [Children Are Not Colorblind: How Young Children Learn Race by Erin N. Winkler, Ph.D. University of Wisconsi-Milwaukee, PACE Vol. 3-No. 3,  2009 HighReach Learning Inc]. 

If you are unsure how to start and continue talking with your children as they grow, there are books to share and websites with resources to help. Several of these also discuss how you can be a model since actions often talk louder than words.

Teaching Young Children About Race is a guide for parents and teachers from Teaching for Change

EmbraceRace.org has articles, webinars and action guides about how kids learn about race, seeing and talking about differences, using picture books to have meaningful conversations, and more.

Talking about Race from the National Museum of African American History & Culture shares reflection questions, videos, and links to other resources.

Teaching Tolerance was created for educators, but parents may also find it useful to discuss race and ethnicity, and rights and activiism among other topics. The home page currently features articles about Black Lives Matter and Teaching about Race, Racism and Police Violence.

Talking to Children about Racial Bias from the American Academy of Pediatrics includes how parents can confront their own racial bias and a doctor's story of his encounter with racism as a 7-year-old.

Explaining the News to Our Kids from Common Sense Media offers tips by age.

 

computer with person in background
Looking to learn new skills while at home? Or wanting to watch a music or dance performance? Local chefs, fitness teachers, musicians and performers are offering online classes and performances. Check out some of these cool offerings:

Gabriel Rucker from restaurants Le Pigeon and Carnard is offering live cooking classes via Instagram. He posts the recipes on his Instagram stories ahead of time. 

While it isn’t live, the New York Times has some 6, 7, and 9 minute full body workouts to get you moving without needing any equipment at home. 

Artslandia, Portland’s performing arts magazine, is hosting a live happy hour, Standing By, with music on Facebook at 5pm each night. 

Not live, but you can watch Lewis and Clark College’s orchestra play music on their Vimeo channel and various music from the University of Oregon on their YouTube as well. 

Live Music Project Seattle is offering a calendar of live music events you can join via your computer. 

New York Times bestselling Illustrator Wendy MacNaughton of Salt Acid Fat Heat is offering drawing classes via her Instagram stories Monday through Friday at 10am. 

Join one of our amazing performers, Micah and Me, for a live ukelele party on Facebook Live Saturdays at 11am and Mondays at 4:30pm. 

Fun for all-ages, join the Oregon Zoo as they Facebook Live with some of their animals everyday at 9:30am. 

OMSI is hosting a virtual science pub about the dynamic Geological History of the Columbia Gorge: Tale of Two Floods with Scott Burns, PhD, Professor of Geology at Portland State University on March 31st from 6:30 to 8:30pm on Facebook Live. 

Is there anything better for hard times than singing? Choir Choir Choir is holding online singalongs on Facebook.

On the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall riots, Multnomah County Library is proud to once again participate in Portland’s own Pride Festival! This is one of the largest Pride celebrations on the West Coast, and we are so excited to connect with you. Stop by our

Library staff and friends at Pride
table in Section R next to the Morrison Bridge to sign up for our Summer Reading Program (we have a game for adults, too!), check out a book and win a fabulous library prize!  We hope to see you there.

If you can’t make it (or even if you can), celebrate with a great LGBTQ read from one of the wonderful booklists below.

Everyone knows I love a good tiger-striped coat (for evidence, note our two tabby cats and one brindle dog), and that I have a soft spot for rescued pets. My family’s first kitten sauntered up to our doorstep, climbed up the screen door, and meowed to high heaven during dinner hour. My siblings and I named her, in the straightforward style of children under five, Tiger.

The author of Maverick and Me chose a more unique name for her pet (I think you can guess what it is), the real-life rescue dog this book is based upon. The story begins on a cold and rainy afternoon, when a woman finds a sick and tiny puppy with a tiger-striped coat by the side of a road. She nurses him back to health, and gets him ready to find a home.

When a young girl named Scarlett meets Maverick at an adoption event, his life takes a turn for the better. Together, they come up with a fun way to tell all of her friends about other puppies that need homes. This heartfelt picture book introduces kids to the concept of pet adoption, and will spark conversations about helping pets in need.

April 30th is National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day. If you're thinking of adding a new furry (or feathered!) member to your family, our local shelters have some great pets to choose from. If you aren’t looking for a pet of your own, here are other ways you can help out pets in need:

  • Foster a dog or cat up for adoption at your local animal shelter

 

  • Donate supplies. Most shelters are always in need of blankets, toys, and dog/cat food. If you happen to buy some food that your pet doesn't like, why not donate it? The Multnomah County Shelter even has an Amazon wish list to make donations easier.
 
  • Share the idea of pet adoption with family and friends who are looking for a pet. There's nothing like love from a pet who's found its furrever home.
 

 

 

DEQ map of Air Toxicity in Portland, OR

February 3, 2016, The Mercury recently reported findings of high levels of arsenic and cadmium in the air in SE Portland. Days later, the DEQ released a map that showed many areas throughout Portland to be affected.

If you are wondering, “Should I get tested for arsenic or cadmium poisoning?” this Portland Mercury article cites Dr. Gillian Beauchamp, a Toxicology Fellow at the Oregon Poison Center at OHSU, who offers advice.

A timely resource for updates on current action by Portland residents (meetings, information sharing, etc.) is the Facebook Public Group Inner SE Air Quality. Although the focus is SE Portland, there’s much information about air quality in other areas in the city being shared here too. Inner SE Air Quality is also sharing community-generated/created Google maps of cancers and serious illnessesa map for people that have tested for heavy metal exposure, and a map showing results of soil testing for heavy metals.  Check here for updates on community meetings you can attend. Neighbors for Clean Air Facebook page is another good resource.

If you are interested more broadly about air quality in Portland, check the ToxNet map. Use the Beta version and click on "zoom to a location" then enter an address to see emissions near you. If you click on "more" you can see the levels of toxins a facility reports. This doesn’t report these recent SE Portland findings.

The Oregon Health Authority’s Cancer Registry researches possible clusters in communities. 

Questions? Call, text or email a librarian to get personalized help – or ask the librarian on duty the next time you're at the library.  We will do our best to find the right resource or service for you!

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