OPB VP News & Public Affairs, Morgan Holm, proclaims that the resolutions supporting a Single Payer solution to Oregon's/America's moral and economic health care crisis adopted by the following groups have, "virtually no effect in real terms" individually and in the aggregate and are thus not newsworthy:


AFSCME District Council 75

Amalgamated Transit Union Local 757

American Federation of Government Employees Local 2157

American Federation of Teachers Local 5017

City of Portland

Democratic Party of Lane County

Freedom Socialist Party

International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees

Lane County Commission

Mad As Hell Doctors

Multnomah County Commission

Oregon Academy of Family Physicians

Oregon Education Association

Oregon Federation of Nurses & Health Professionals

Oregon Nurses Association

Oregon Teamsters Local 206

Pacific Green Party of Oregon

Painters Local 10

State Council of Machinists (IAM)

The leaders, members and constituents of all these organizations will be interested to note that OPB VP News & Public Affairs, Morgan Holm, considers their efforts to bring major social and civil rights change to Oregon and America an inconsequential waste of time. Perhaps they will remember that next pledge drive.

"It is not our job as journalists to provoke such a conflict by covering this issue in a manner that is disproportionate to its role in the public arena."

Wake up Morgan. The conflict over Single Payer has been stifled and buried by the Oregon legislature, governor Kulongoski, and the leadership of the U.S. congress. Single Payer advocates (see above) have had not just a disproportionately minor role in the public arena but NO role in the public arena, having been shut down and shut out of the legislative process. None of which has ever been reported on Oregon Public Broadcasting.

"I intend to let public officials set the agenda on this issue rather than trying to push it on to the agenda, an approach which I consider to be responsible journalism."

What do you call elected public officials from Portland, Lane and Multnomah Counties that represent more than a million Oregonians and the elected public officials that signed the letter below, "chopped liver?" They have set the agenda on Single Payer and you ignored them. Your approach is not "responsible journalism" it is irresponsible and cowardly. 

President Lyndon Johnson and General William Westmoreland "set the agenda" with the Gulf of Tonkin incident and body counts to prove the Viet Nam war was necessary and going well. Lies. Lies. Lies.

President George W. Bush and General Colin Powell "set the agenda" with weapons of mass destruction and connections to Bin Laden to prove that war with Iraq was necessary. Lies. Lies. Lies.

Since 9-11-2001 about 8,000 Americans have died in the United States, Iraq and Afghanistan at the hands of terrorists. Since 9-11-2001 about 45,000 Americans have died ANNUALLY because they do not have health insurance. That about 360,000. Do the math. Americans are more terrorized by and die at the hands of the brutal and greedy American corporate leaders of the medical-industrial complex and their employees in the Oregon legislature and the US congress than all of Al Qaeda.

The first victim of war is truth. A resolution of support for a Single Payer system is a declaration of WAR against the despised, failed, for-profit private health insurance industry and those that believe that health care is a privilege not a right of American citizenship.

So OPB VP News & Public Affairs, Morgan Holm, put down that bag of potato chips and pick up the phone and call Bill Moyers. Ask him how to find and report the TRUTH about health care reform in Oregon and America. Then, get your ass off the comfortable couch, grab a shovel and a bright light and go digging for the TRUTH. When you find it, tell us.

Bill Moyers, the most courageous journalist in America, has spent more time on the issue of Health Care reform than any other subject he has ever covered. It would be useful for the entire OPB news staff to start watching his show. Especially relevant was Moyers interview with Glenn Greenwald and Jay Rosen. Their discussion exposed media managers, such as Morgan Holm and the producers of OPB's Think Out Loud who avoid persons and ideas that are, in Moyer's words, considered, "heretical by the establishment."

Holm's signs his email with this slogan, "Giving voice to the community." What community would that be? The status quo political powers that be and large corporate OPB funders from the medical-industrial complex? It sure as hell isn't the overwhelming number of Oregonians that support Single Payer. 

Under Morgan Holm's indefensible, lazy, self-protective leadership OPB News has FAILED to cover the real health care story in our state. This is expected at commercial stations but inexcusable in PUBLIC broadcasting. Just Ask Bill Moyers.

Richard Ellmyer


February 8, 2009 [This message was also sent in 2007. My single payer Oregon Community Health Care Bill was written in November 2004.]

Dear House Speaker Hunt and Senate President Courtney Et. Al.:

The current legislative debate over health care reform in our state does not include our view that the profit oriented private health insurance industry must not be the model upon which a solution to Oregon's moral and economic health care crisis should be based and that Oregon elected officials - public employees - voters and taxpayers must have EQUAL ACCESS to the SAME LEVEL of health care NOT a perpetuation of our current multitiered health insurance CLASS system.

We request that you find a place holder bill in each chamber which would substitute in its entirety the language of the Oregon Community Health Care Bill (see attached) so that an alternative choice may be discussed and debated this session. The Oregon Community Health Care Bill is the only current fully formed piece of proposed legislation which supports our vision of health care reform. We would welcome others that also meet our requirements.

Thank you for your attention.


Richard Ellmyer - Oregon Community Health Care Bill author 2004

Sam Adams - Portland City Council 2007

Jeff Cogen - Multnomah County Commissioner 2007

Edwars "Chip" Enbody - Hubbard City Council 2007

Darrell Flood - Mayor of Lafayette 2007

Bill Hall - Lincoln County Commissioner 2007

Jim Needham - Mollala City Council 2007

Michelle Ripple - Wilsonville City Council 2007

Mary Schamehorn - Mayor of Bandon 2007

Pete Sorenson - Lane County Commissioner 2007

John Frohnmayer - Former candidate for US Senate 2008

Tim Grimes - Staton City Council 2008

David P. Trott - Mayor City of Umatilla 2008

Bill Dwyer - Lane County Commissioner 2008

Dan K. Cummings - Ontario City Council President 2008

Mark Camra - Toledo City Councilor 2009

Don Porter - Mayor of Long Creek 2009

Thomas Bradley - Long Creek City Council 2009

Fred Drake - Long Creek City Council 2009

Alvin Hunt - Long Creek City Council 2009

[Copies of this letter were sent to all members of the 2009 Oregon Legislature]



Dear Mr. Ellmyer,

We chose not to cover the Portland single payer resolution vote for the same reason that we don't cover virtually every other resolution passed by the dozens of local governments in our coverage area.  While the resolution serves as evidence of support for a particular concept, it has virtually no effect in real terms.   

OPB's newsroom has covered the single payer issue where there has been opportunity to show how it fits into the current debate over health care policy.  But the political reality right now is that single payer is not an option in the bills Congress is considering.  So we are choosing to cover aspects of the health care debate that will have relevance to our audience when the votes are complete, issues like the possibility of an employer mandate or the prospect of a health insurance exchange.

As to the possibility of "internecine political civil war" in Oregon over the single payer issue, if or when such a thing develops, we would certainly cover it.  But it is not our job as journalists to provoke such a conflict by covering this issue in a manner that is disproportionate to its role in the public arena.  I intend to let public officials set the agenda on this issue rather than trying to push it on to the agenda, an approach which I consider to be responsible journalism. 

If you do choose to run for office in 2010 and decide to make the single payer question a part of your platform, that's a legitimate issue for us to cover at that time.  In fact, I will be curious to see how health care plays out in the 2010 election cycle overall (especially following any Congressional action this year) and I'm sure we will be reporting on that throughout our coverage.

Thank you for contacting us, and I hope I've been able to answer your question.

Best regards,


Morgan Holm  I   VP News & Public Affairs  I  Oregon Public Broadcasting

7140 SW Macadam Ave  I  Portland OR 97219

Office: 503.293.1975  I  Mobile: 503.539.3099

Giving voice to the community.  Connecting Oregon and its neighbors.  Illuminating a wider world