Chris Lehman

Salem Correspondent

Chris Lehman graduated from Temple University with a journalism degree in 1997. He landed his first job less than a month later, producing arts stories for Red River Public Radio in Shreveport, Louisiana. Three years later he headed north to DeKalb, Illinois, where he worked as a reporter and announcer for NPR–affiliate WNIJ–FM. In 2006 he headed west to become the Salem Correspondent for the Northwest News Network.

Chris is a native of rural Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. He was born in the upstairs bedroom of his grandmother's house, and grew up in a 230 year old log cabin in the woods. Chris traces his interest in journalism to his childhood, when his parents threatened to take away his newspaper if he didn’t do his chores.

In addition to working full time in public radio for the past decade, Chris has also reported from overseas on a free–lance basis. He's filed stories from Iraq, Burkina Faso, El Salvador, Northern Ireland, Zimbabwe and Uganda. He lives in Salem with his wife and child.

Read Chris's blog, "Capitol Currents: Dispatches From Salem."

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Oregon Librabrian Fakes Resume
5:35 pm
Thu May 24, 2012

State Librarian Hopeful Pleads Guilty To Padding Resume

The Marion County District Attorney's office says the 46 year-old Robert Hulshof-Schmidt produced fake documents to falsely claim he had a Masters Degree in Library Science from the University of Washington.
Photo courtesy of Oregon State Library.

A man who nearly became Oregon's State Librarian will now spend the next two years on probation for forgery. He pled guilty Thursday to going beyond just padding his resume. He forged documents showing that he had a degree from the University of Washington.

Last winter, Robert Hulshof-Schmidt was just weeks away from an internal promotion to the top spot at Oregon's State Library in Salem. Then, he suddenly withdrew his application and stopped showing up for work at the agency where he'd been employed for nearly seven years.

Library officials were mum on the about-face. Eventually someone else was named to the job.

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Oregon Corrections Layoffs
5:24 pm
Wed May 23, 2012

Oregon Lawmakers Scale Back Corrections Layoffs

Oregon lawmakers have been pressing state agencies to cut back the ranks of middle managers. A legislative panel voted Wednesday to do that.
Photo credit: Chris Lehman The Oregon Department of Corrections

Oregon lawmakers have been pressing state agencies to cut back the ranks of middle managers. A legislative panel voted Wednesday to do that. But they scaled back a proposed round of layoffs at prisons because of safety concerns.

The Department of Corrections had submitted a budget-cutting plan to eliminate 81 positions, including more than 50 prison lieutenants. Lawmakers instead told the agency to scrap just 21 jobs by this summer. House Democratic leader Tina Kotek said the original proposal was too much, too soon.

Tina Kotek: "I am concerned about the safety issues within the system by reducing the number of supervisors. It's a challenge of safety for the staff, safety for the inmates."

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New Bus Service
7:25 am
Wed May 23, 2012

Low Fares Won’t Lure Some Train Riders To New Bus Service

Passengers board a Boltbus headed to Seattle outside a parking garage in downtown Portland.
Photo by Chris Lehman Northwest News Network

A new bus service in the Northwest makes some eye-catching promises: Extra legroom, non-stop service between major cities, and fares starting at just a dollar. Boltbus could change the way people travel between Portland, Seattle and Vancouver, BC. Correspondent Chris Lehman wanted to see which is better: Boltbus or an Amtrak train.

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Oregon Jobs Gains
4:53 pm
Tue May 22, 2012

Oregon's Recovery Uneven Around The State

Oregon's economy is recovering slowly but steadily according to the latest forecast from state economists.
Photo credit: Wikimedia user M.O. Stevens Wikimedia Commons

Oregon's economy is recovering slowly but steadily according to the latest forecast from state economists. But not all parts of the state are along for the ride.

Some economic indicators are looking up in Oregon. That's according to state economist Mark McMullen. But he told state lawmakers that even though the pace has been slow statewide, it's even worse once you get away from the Willamette Valley and the Columbia Gorge.

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Oregon Revenues uneven
4:30 pm
Tue May 22, 2012

Oregon Revenue Forecast Mostly Flat

Combined general fund and lottery fund revenue forecasts from Dec. 2010 - June 2012.
Graph by Oregon Office of Economic Analysis

Oregon lawmakers got so-so news from the state's economist Tuesday. Revenues are predicted to remain mostly steady over the rest of the budget cycle.

The latest projection of state income tax collections is down slightly since the last forecast. But the drop was offset by a series of budget actions that lawmakers took earlier this year.

State economist Mark McMullen told a legislative panel that Oregon's economic recovery is still on track. It's just slow.

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Kitzhaber Faux Bill Signing
4:34 pm
Mon May 21, 2012

Kitzhaber Signs Series Of Bills…Again

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber signing two measures into law in March.
Photo credit Chris Lehman Northwest News Network

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber has been busy signing a series of bills dealing with everything from marine reserves to tax incentives. But the deadline to sign bills from this year's legislative session was actually more than a month ago.

With a bipartisan group of lawmakers gathered behind him, the governor extolled the virtues of House Bill 4068.

John Kitzhaber: "The people here deserve a lot of credit for bringing a bill to my desk with broad, bipartisan majorities."

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Rosenblum Wins Democratic Nomination
4:50 pm
Wed May 16, 2012

Democrats Pick Rosenblum For Attorney General

Oregon is poised to have its first woman Attorney General. In Tuesday's Democratic primary election, former Oregon state judge Ellen Rosenblum cruised to victory over former federal prosecutor Dwight Holton.

It's not clear yet whether Rosenblum will face any opposition in November. No Republican filed for the office. But the GOP launched a last minute write-in campaign. Results of that effort won't be known for a few weeks. For now, Rosenblum is basking in her primary victory, which puts her one step closer to becoming Oregon's first female attorney general. She spoke to supporters at an election night party in Portland.

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Oregon Attorney General Election
6:41 am
Wed May 16, 2012

Rosenblum Wins Democratic Attorney General Primary

Former state judge Ellen Rosenblum celebrates her victory in the Democratic primary for Oregon Attorney General.
Photo by Michael Kilman. Northwest News Network

Oregon Democrats have chosen former state judge Ellen Rosenblum as their nominee for Attorney General. She defeated form federal prosecutor Dwight Holton in Tuesday's primary election by a wide margin. But it's still not clear if Rosenblum will face any opposition in the general election this fall. As correspondent Chris Lehman reports, marijuana became a key issue in the race.

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Oregon Write-Ins
6:07 am
Tue May 15, 2012

Oregon GOP Tries Write-In Strategy To Fill Two Nominations

Tomorrow’s Tuesday’s primary election in Oregon could include some write-in candidates for two statewide offices. The state GOP is encouraging its members to fill in names for state Treasurer and Attorney General. As Salem Correspondent Chris Lehman reports, it doesn't take much to win a write-in nomination.

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Oregon Public Safety
5:57 pm
Mon May 14, 2012

Kitzhaber Moves Ahead With Look At Oregon's Public Safety System

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber hopes a newly revived public safety commission will lead to big changes in the state's criminal justice system. The Democrat issued an executive order Monday that brings back to life a blue ribbon panel created by his predecessor, Ted Kulongoski.

Oregon's prison population is expected to grow by another 2,000 by the end of the decade. Kitzhaber's public safety adviser, Steven Powers, says the governor thinks Oregon needs to take a close look at everything from mandatory sentences to drug rehabilitation programs.

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