Jim PepperFest fires OCHC fiscal sponsor!

We have fired the Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission, for these reasons:

RE: Notice of termination of 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsor

February 5, 2014

To: David Milholland, President

Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission (OCHC)

POB 3588

Portland, OR 97208

CC by email

RE: notice of termination of 501(c)(3) fiscal relationship

Mr. Milholland:

Please be advised that the Jim Pepper Native Arts Festival Steering Committee has determined that OCHC has failed to live up to its fiduciary duties as a 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsor of our project, and that we have decided to end our relationship with your organization, effective immediately.

Despite numerous requests from our Steering Committee, OCHC has not provided a complete, factual and proper accounting of the finances of the project, nor has OCHC provided copies of correspondence with sponsors and other partners, copies of grant applications or other documents pertaining to the Jim Pepper Native Arts Festival, nor a complete record of payments OCHC has made or not made to event vendors and performers, whether in the form of cash, check or OCHC tax deduction letters.

Despite two meetings facilitated by Jo Ann Hardesty of Consult Hardesty organized specifically to provide OCHC with the opportunity to produce a complete, accurate fiscal accounting, held at The Rosewood Initiative on December 11 and 30, 2013, OCHC has failed to do so. In fact, OCHC could not explain the report OCHC provided on December 11, and could do no better on December 30. OCHC promised to provide the accounting by January 3, 2014, but we have not heard from OCHC since December 30, and OCHC Treasurer Charlotte Rubin has not responded to requests for information made by Jo Ann Hardesty.

Among our other concerns:

The “final report” OCHC submitted to the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) pertaining to the $ 10,000 Opportunity Grant RACC provided to OCHC for the 2013 Jim Pepper Native Arts Festival was incomplete, inaccurate and misleading. We specifically reject the report.

Furthermore, to the best of our knowledge, OCHC has not provided a final report or fiscal accounting to any of the other event sponsors.

OCHC has not provided the Steering Committee with an explanation for OCHC’s failure to complete the documentation pertaining to the National Museum of the American Indian’s exhibit IndiVisible: African – Native American Lives in the Americas, which was the sole reason that we planned a four-day event, August 7-10, 2013.

Furthermore, OCHC led us to believe that IndiVisible would be delivered to the Parkrose HS Performing Arts Center and available to the public for free viewing during the days August 7-10, 2013, and it was only on the morning of August 7 that the Steering Committee learned the exhibit was not coming. OCHC had been aware of this fact for several weeks prior to the festival dates and deliberately withheld the information.

The absence of IndiVisible forced the last-minute cancellation of the entire daytime program, causing substantial financial loss to vendors and to the project as a whole. We incurred expenses preparing the space at Parkrose High School that would house the exhibit, and yet OCHC knew that it was not coming.

Furthermore, OCHC negligently did not send payment to Upstream Productions for the public viewing rights to the documentary Pepper’s Powwow, which was a key feature of the Festival, and we learned of this fact on August 7, only minutes before the scheduled viewing was to take place. We were forced to cancel the event on the spot.

We incurred expenses printing posters, creating website and social media content and other promotional materials, all of which advertised IndiVisible, Pepper’s Powwow, and our invited performers and all of which OCHC was aware of and/or participated in, and yet OCHC withheld this vital information to the detriment of the project.

OCHC was made aware of the budget requirements of every performer invited to the Festival, every vendor and every known production cost prior to the event. OCHC approved the posters and other advertising pertaining to the Festival, all of which bear the following notice:

“The Jim Pepper Native Arts Festival is a project of the Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission 501(c)(3) and a 1000 Nations Production.”

We estimate that the total unpaid debt for this project is in the area of $ 20,000, and we expect that OCHC will present a plan and take effective action to help retire the debt.

OCHC engaged 1000 Nations to manage the Festival production, but knowingly withheld vital information necessary to perform the task successfully, and 1000 Nations is among several performers and vendors who have not received proper payment for services rendered to OCHC.

Be advised that with this letter 1000 Nations ends its relationship with the Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission also.

Most Sincerely,

Executive Committee, Jim Pepper Native Arts Festival Steering Committee

Luciana Proaño

Tony Garcia

Sean Aaron Cruz

Cc: OCHC Board of Directors

Jim Pepper Native Arts Festival Steering Committee

Consult Hardesty

Other Interested Parties




contact: music@jimpepperfest.net

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Statement to Portland City Council on predatory towing

My testimony before Portland City Council on predatory towing is up on the City website, beginning at about 4:00. The Council met on November 27.

Both Mayor Hales and Commissioner Fish promised robust follow-up….


I told them this:

“…Portland’s PPI towing system is built upon these fundamentals:

(1) An uninformed public, unaware of their rights under the law;

(2) Failure to enforce existing state laws and the city’s own ordinances;

(3) PPI contracts based upon illegal consideration; that is, apartment owners/managers receiving free towing services in exchange for allowing a tower the privilege of towing vehicles from the property;

(4) Tow drivers working on commission who make all judgment calls and create the documentation justifying the tow;

(5) Apartment rental agreements designed to create towing opportunities in violation of state law and where tenants are tricked into signing away their rights without knowing what they are; and,

(6) Price fixing, collusion and racketeering.”

Koin 6 is keeping on the story; more to follow….


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On predatory towing: testimony for Portland City Council

November 27, 2013

Testimony for City Council re PPI towing abuses/failure to enforce ORS

Mayor Hales and Members of the City Council:

My name is Sean Aaron Cruz. I served as Senator Avel Gordly’s legislative staff for six years and in that capacity conducted the original research into predatory towing practices taking place in Portland that were targeting low income apartment residents, people of color and communities of immigrants with minimal or no English skills (Exhibit A).

I drafted the legislative concepts enacted in 2007 that were designed to curb these abusive practices in Senate Bill 431 and parts of Senate Bill 116. I led Senator Gordly’s towing workgroup and feel that I can speak with this expertise as to the intent of the legislation and what it means to Portland citizens.

Both of these bills created significant new protections from unscrupulous Private Property Impound (PPI) towers for apartment tenants and their visitors as well as for the general public.

However, I am here to tell you today that none of the citizen protections enacted in 2007 have been enforced in Portland; that there isn’t a single apartment tenant in Portland who is aware of their rights under the new laws; that before recent weeks none of the citizen rights passed in 2007 were ever listed on the City’s posted list of citizen rights; that last December the City also rolled back many of the citizen protections it had in place prior to 2007; and that the towers have even been allowed to create new fees, invent new excuses to tow a tenant’s vehicle unfairly and otherwise circumvent both the spirit and the letter of the law. The PPI system in Portland remains rife with fraud and abuse, probably more so today than it was prior to 2007, with higher costs being forced upon the public.

I am here to ask Council to order an immediate suspension of PPI towing from Portland apartment parking facilities until the property owner or manager can show that they are fully in compliance with state law, and that all of their tenants have received proper notification of towing fees and of their rights in a language that they can understand. Towers have been receiving a holiday from enforcement for six years.

My research showed that Portland’s PPI towing system is built upon these fundamentals: (1) an uninformed public, unaware of their rights under the law; (2) failure to enforce existing state laws and the city’s own ordinances; (3) PPI contracts based upon illegal consideration; that is, apartment owners/managers receiving free towing services in exchange for allowing a tower the privilege of towing vehicles from the property; (4) tow drivers working on commission who make all judgment calls and create the documentation justifying the tow; (5) apartment rental agreements designed to create towing opportunities in violation of state law and where tenants are tricked into signing away their rights without knowing what they are (Exhibit B); and, (6) price fixing, collusion and racketeering.

If your vehicle was towed from an apartment complex since the new laws were enacted in 2007, you are probably due your money back, at minimum. Those vehicles were probably towed under illegal contracts, or under an illegal rule.

Apartment tenants have the right to know the minimum amount of cash they must have in their pockets at all times in order to meet the immediate demands of a tow truck driver arriving without notice. They have a right to know how much more cash they will need in order to redeem the vehicle if it is towed, and they have a right to know these requirements at the onset of their tenancy.

Under SB 116, towers are required to provide a rate sheet in at least 10 point type listing the amounts the tower charges for goods and services prior to towing the vehicle. Failure to provide the printed rate sheet is an Unfair Trade Practice under SB 116, and each violation may be subject to penalties up to $ 25,000.

There isn’t a single tenant in Portland who has seen any of those price sheets or who is aware that he or she has this right.

The 2007 legislation addressed issues related to public health and safety, landlord – tenant relations and fair notice and full financial disclosure to apartment tenants and their visitors, including requiring signage to be posted at all entrances. SB 116 states:

“(2) The Legislative Assembly declares that:

(a) Statutes that assist members of the public in avoiding involuntary loss of use of motor vehicles and in expediting recovery of motor vehicles and the personal property in the motor vehicles promote the safety and welfare of members of the public.”

I would be very happy to brief Council further on the PPI towing legislation as it applies to these additional issues:

[ ] Municipal power to regulate involuntary towing/safety issues

[ ] PPI burden on police/EMT/911 resources, public expense

[ ] Tenant rights pertaining to assigned parking spaces

[ ] Disability fairness issues

[ ] Quiet enjoyment

[ ] Signage/fair notice requirements

[ ] Unfairness caused by time/distance from tow lot

[ ] “Citizen rights” from immigrant perspective

[ ] Barriers to citizen/immigrant redress/justice in the PPI system


Sean Aaron Cruz

Executive Director

Exhibit A: PPI regulated and non-regulated towing invoices, 2005

Exhibit B: Illegal PPI agreement, 2012


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Predatory towing investigation on KOIN-TV

Has your car been towed in the last six years?

By Sean Aaron Cruz

Portland, Oregon— If your car has been towed from private property in Portland in the last six years, you will really, seriously really, want to see this broadcast. KOIN 6 will broadcast a story on its investigation into predatory towing practices in the City of Portland tomorrow, Tuesday October 29, at 6:00 and 11:00 p.m. Reporter Chris Woodard has been working on this for several months.


Towers created the towable offense of “No Back-in Parking” with City Hall’s OK

And then you are going to be angry, even angrier than you were when your car was towed, thinking about all of the angst and the valuable time that was wasted by a tow truck driver on top of the cash he took out of your pocket, holding your car for ransom. And then there was the bastard’s attitude, remember that….

And then you are going to want to talk to City Hall about getting your money and./or your vehicle back, because the contracts the towers have with property owners and managers are/were illegal and therefore unenforceable. The towers had no legal right to tow your vehicle, not since the passage of Senate Bill 431 and Senate Bill 116 in 2007.

Those towing contracts are all based on property owners and managers receiving illegal consideration (free towing services), a direct violation of Oregon state law and the City of Portland’s own ordinances. And that is only one of the ways in which they are on the wrong side of the law.

But you didn’t know that at the time, so you forked over the cash, and you also did not know your rights vis a vis PPI (Private Property Impound) towing, rights granted to you by the 2007 Legislative Assembly but which have never been enforced in the City of Portland.

The PPI towing system in Portland is based upon lack of public awareness, failure to enforce existing state law and illegal consideration.

You are going to be angry to learn how many ways the towers have gained since 2007 to take money out of your pocket, and wonder how this could have possibly happened, with virtually no public involvement in the process along the way.

Find out how many ways the towers are screwing you in violation of state law on KOIN 6 tomorrow, Tuesday October 29, at 6:00 and 11:00 p.m.



Sean Aaron Cruz, serving as Senator Avel Louise Gordly’s chief of staff, researched and drafted the several legislative concepts in Senate Bill 431, sponsored by Senator Gordly, that were passed by unanimous Senate and House votes in 2007. Several other concepts derived from his research into predatory towing were incorporated into Senate Bill 116, sponsored by Attorney General Hardy Myers. Both bills outlawed certain predatory towing practices and created new consumer protections against illegal towing. Both bills were signed into law by Governor Ted Kulongoski, but none of the provisions of these bills have been enforced, resulting in several thousand illegal tows each year.

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Free Celilo Falls! A message to the Columbia River Treaty Review

October 21, 2013

From The Friends of Celilo Falls

To the US Entity, Columbia River Treaty Review

Mr. Stephen R. Oliver, U.S Entity Coordinator, Bonneville Power Administration

Mr. David Ponganis, U.S Entity Coordinator, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers

Submitted online at: http://www.bpa.gov/comment

Re: Columbia River Treaty – Draft Regional Recommendation

Dear Mr. Oliver and Mr. Ponganis:

The Board of Directors of The Friends of Celilo Falls appreciates this opportunity to submit comments to the US Entity regarding the working draft of a regional recommendation concerning the future of the Columbia River Treaty.

The Friends of Celilo Falls is a new nonprofit dedicated to the restoration and protection of Celilo Falls and its ancient fishery under the permanent stewardship of the Columbia River Treaty tribes. The Friends of Celilo Falls does not represent or speak for any entity other than its own membership. We do not speak for or represent the Columbia River Treaty tribes or the people of Celilo Village.

We are aware that Celilo Falls is not submerged for hydropower, flood control or irrigation purposes, but only to facilitate barging through the Columbia Gorge. We believe that Celilo Falls is an essential component of the Columbia River ecosystem and we ask that you consider a restored Celilo Falls in your modeling.

We are also aware that maintaining barge shipping through the Columbia Gorge requires billions of dollars in public subsidies, and that the system as a whole is highly inefficient, with half the total barges and 80% of those moving upriver empty. The future high and low flows anticipated in your modeling would appear to make the inefficiencies of this system even more problematic and costly to the public than at the present.

We note that shippers use the locks free of charge (at public expense) while the public must pay day use fees at any of the several points of access in the Gorge.

We take issue with the contention that barging is “environmentally benign” as the vast reaches of slack water that barges require and which reduces fish survivability costs the public billions of dollars to mitigate. These costs should be factored into any accounting of the energy “efficiency” of barging vs other modes of transportation.

We oppose the prioritization of the Columbia River Gorge as an internationalized industrial corridor, and support the creation of a new Celilo – Wishram – Maryhill UNESCO World Heritage Site. We believe that tourism and other benefits of such an endeavor would create thousands of construction and permanent jobs benefitting most of all those who are and will be living and raising their families in the Columbia River Gorge itself.

We ask you to consider Oregon Governor Tom McCall’s statement on the 1967 Beach Bill, which protects Oregon’s public beaches forever, quoting Oregon Governor Oswald West: “…in the administration of this God-given trust, a broad protective policy should be declared and maintained. No local selfish interest should be permitted, through politics or otherwise, to destroy or even impair this great birthright of our people.”

Free Celilo Falls!


The Board of Directors of The Friends of Celilo Falls

Sean Aaron Cruz, Executive Director

Kevin Duell, Board President

Shirley Harada, Board Treasurer

Dara Snyder, Board Secretary

Cynthia Vogel, Board Member

Hannah Kullberg, Board Member

Ruby Shirazi, Board Member

Treothe Bullock, Board Member


The Friends of Celilo Falls does not represent or speak for any entity other than its own membership. We do not speak for or represent the Columbia River Treaty tribes or the people of Celilo Village.

The Friends of Celilo Falls

10809 NE Fremont St. Portland, Oregon 97220


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Re-thinking the Unthinkable: Restore Celilo Falls

Fight climate change and create sustainable jobs in the Columbia Gorge

By Sean Aaron Cruz

Portland, Oregon—

Coal export proponents are touting job creation in their campaigns to turn the Columbia River Gorge into an internationalized industrial corridor, bracketed with coal export terminals to the east and west, lined with mile-long coal and oil trains on both north and south banks, and the Columbia River itself choked with coal barges.

That is their vision of the future of the Gorge and the region, their vision of our collective futures, their vision of our great great great grandchildren’s futures, and they have the money and the political power to force this upon us.  

By “they”, I mean the coalition of largely foreign corporations and nations who can supply the limitless funds, and the local chapters of trade unions who are fighting for jobs—any jobs—they can get for their membership. The television ads and other media buys they are running are all focused on job creation; that’s the story they are selling to the public and policy makers. There aren’t any other positive spins to their argument.

It is the job creation argument that is splitting the city of Longview into two opposing color-coded factions: the Red Shirts oppose the terminals, the Blue Shirts want the jobs.

Coal export opponents have an alternate vision for the future of the Columbia Gorge, but have yet to muster a job creation argument to support that future, a major weakness in the anti-coal coalition’s campaign.

In order to counter or neutralize trade union support for the coal export proposals, the anti-coal coalition must develop a strategy that creates new construction and permanent jobs. It is not enough to be against coal; in order to win this key part of the argument, the coalition must find a way to build something new, something that is sustainable and employs people in family-wage jobs.

Ideally, these would be jobs that would benefit those who are living and raising their families in the Columbia Gorge itself.

There can be no better time than now, then, to Re-think the Unthinkable, the flooding of Celilo Falls, and consider what could happen in the Columbia River Gorge were the great salmon fishery brought back to life.

It could mean thousands of new construction and permanent jobs, the re-creation of an economy that thrived for thousands of years; and a transformation of the Gorge itself.

The following article appeared in The Dalles Chronicle in June.

Salmon fishing at Celilo Falls

Group Hopes To Restore Celilo Falls

By Neita Cecil

The Dalles Chronicle

As of Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Dalles — A new non-profit group has lofty goals: to permanently lower the Columbia River, restoring Celilo Falls and its native fishery; and reconnecting Celilo Village to the river by rerouting the nearby rail lines and freeway to Washington.

Sean Cruz is the spokesman for Friends of Celilo Falls, and he’s pitched his vision to the Columbia River Gorge Commission.

Cruz, of Portland, was once a legislative staffer in Salem, and was on the Senate floor when a resolution was passed in 2007, mourning the flooding of Celilo Falls in 1956 as a consequence of the construction of The Dalles Dam.

“I was there when we heard the tribes tell the story of the falls and how devastating this was to the people,” he said. “The deep trauma to the native people that flooding the falls caused, that continues to this day.”

“Prior to 1850, both banks of the Columbia River were lined with Indian villages, the entire length of the river. But today, there’s only one Indian village left, only one. And that’s how strong the connection to Celilo Falls is for the native people,” he said.

Now the village is cut off from the river by two rail lines and Interstate 84.

Cruz said commenters on the Senate floor that day said, “To flood Celilo Falls today, if the falls had not already been flooded, it would’ve been unthinkable. That was the word that was used. Unthinkable. If the falls were there today, who would think about flooding them? Just to get barges past them. Are you joking?”

Barging interests countered that the permanent lowering of the river was unthinkable. (See related story A1)

Cruz said, “A lot of people believe that Celilo Falls are gone forever, lost forever, or the only way the falls can come back is to take down the dam at The Dalles, but that’s not true.”

While barging as a mode of transportation is more economical than rail or truck, Cruz argued that the public infrastructure required for barging nullifies that efficiency.

“Barging on the Columbia has never been an economically feasible way of moving freight,” he said. “It has always required massive public subsidies. Massive. As a matter of fact, we’re into the billions of dollars of subsidies now.”

Just a few years ago, three lock gates on regional river systems were replaced at a cost of $50 million, he said. “About the only business that goes through those lock gates is the average of three barge tows a day,” Cruz said. “So it’s a direct benefit to a very small group of shippers.”

Meanwhile, the slack water needed for barging negatively impacts fish, he said, and the public will pay $1.675 billion for salmon recovery efforts over the next decade.

“There’s no other place in the world like it, like Celilo Falls, so why is it 40 feet underwater?” he said.

His group envisions a walking trail the length of the Columbia River; excursion boats that trawl multiple stops from Portland on upriver; and an electric passenger excursion train that takes passengers from new hotels on the plateau beyond Maryhill to a viewing point of the falls at Wishram, then on into The Dalles.

A section of Interstate 84 and the rail lines that now go past Celilo Village, east of The Dalles, would be rerouted into Washington at The Dalles, and then come back into Oregon about 15 miles east — past Biggs and Maryhill, Cruz envisions.

His organization plans to create computerized 3D models of their vision. He said millions of people worldwide would share his interest in revealing Celilo Falls. It is just a matter of educating them and harnessing their voice.

He said information is already available on the Internet about Celilo Falls, such as a YouTube video by the Army Corps of Engineers showing Celilo Falls in its glory, before it was inundated over the course of six hours when the dam became operational.

Celilo Falls 1956: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u7XBFHry4VQ

“We want to educate people that this has to be protected, and it has to be protected forever,” he said.

He likened the effort to the decision made in the 1960s by Oregon’s then governor to make Oregon’s beaches publicly accessible. Restoring Celilo Falls is “more complicated” he said, “but again, we’re looking at a resource like Oregon beaches that are just as valuable in terms of geology. Lay on top of that cultural and archaeological values.”

As for funding relocation of the highway and rail lines, Cruz said “there’s prioritized federal funding for multimodal bridges and highways in rural areas.”

The restored falls would become a working fishery once again, and Cruz wants them to come under “the permanent stewardship of the Columbia River treaty tribes.”

But, unlike before, no non-tribal members would be allowed on the fishing grounds.

Rather, they would be able to see the falls from Wishram, which is directly across the river from the submerged falls, or from the still-intact railroad bridge just 400 yards or so upriver from the falls, or perhaps from a new viewing area created on Fifteenmile Road.

He said the public would be kept away from the falls because they’re so dangerous. When the falls were exposed, “the water comes past these fishers like it’s blasted out of a cannon. That’s how dangerous it is. Every year people drowned. All the more reason why controlling public access is vital,” he said.

A lowered river would expose archaeological sites, which would require fencing off and monitoring. Cruz said that work would create significant ongoing employment opportunities.

“That’s a vast archaeological area out there, both sides of the river, everything east of The Dalles Dam, out past Maryhill. The people lived there for thousands of years. They didn’t live in just one place. There’s burial sites, sacred sites.”



Find us on Facebook: The Friends of Celilo Falls


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John Betsch remembers Jim Pepper


“We met the summer of 1966 at a jam session in NYC with Chris Hills and a couple of others whose names escape me, and I was stunned by his sound and spirit. He was complaining about his chops and that special horn that I eventually took to Selmer for repairs, beginning their special relationship, and which is now in the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.

“We remet in 1981 at a festival in Austria when he was with Don Cherry and I was with Archie Shepp, Mal Waldron and Santi Debriano, who became key players in our lives later. We realized we were neighbors in Park Slope and thus began our close association, playing together in the Park and at the home of Gordon Lee where Jim was staying.

“When we both moved to Brooklyn our friendship continued to grow and at his and Caren’s apartment I met Pura Fe among others. When I moved to Europe in 1985, invited by trombonist Marty Cook, Marty and I began bringing Jim over for tours a year or so afterward.

“Through the Munich associations with ENJA and TUTU Records things began to take shape with tours and recordings with first Marty’s quartet with Jim’s Portland friend Essiet Essiet, then with Ed Schuller on bass, and later the quartet with Ed and Mal Waldron, Santi and Kirk Lightsey, Claudine Francois with whom I was living near Paris and finally guitarist Bill Bickford.

“The Mal Waldron–Ed Schuller band literally made people cry: three different people came to me after gigs and said, “I was crying and didn’t know why”.

“My personal high water mark was a gig in a club near Vienna where Jim finally relocated: when we did the songs from the ‘Comin and Goin’ recording, everybody in the club sang all of the words. I will never forget the look on Jim’s face when he turned around and looked at me with a ‘Do you believe this shit?!?!’ look on his face.

“When I developed a tumor on my right shoulder bone and Jim’s lymphoma forced us into being on chemo at the same time, we decided to phone each other every Monday morning and talk about our experiences. We called each other “the brothers we never had” because of both having sisters as siblings and our musical and personal relationship remains the most special of my life.” – John Betsch, June 21, 2013, Paris, France.

Hear this great band here: Jim Pepper, Mal Waldron, Ed Schuller, John Betsch:




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