ashland.news
July 21, 2024

Oregon governor attended fundraiser in Ashland Railroad District on Thursday

Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek at the Peerless Restaurant in Ashland on Thursday, Aug. 3, 3023. Bob Palermini photo
August 4, 2023

After afternoon event at Peerless Restaurant, Gov. Tina Kotek headed on to RoxyAnn Winery in Medford for another fundraiser

By Holly Dillemuth, Ashland.news

A major data breach of Oregon Health Plan member’s information, which made personal information such as Social Security numbers and individual’s addresses vulnerable for more than 48 hours, was one of the topics addressed during an interview with Gov. Tina Kotek at a private campaign stop in Ashland on Thursday.

Kotek took a five-minute break from the late afternoon private fundraiser at the Peerless Restaurant in Ashland to speak with Ashland.news on the restaurant patio. About two dozen individuals attended, including state Rep. Pam Marsh and state Sen. Jeff Golden, both residents of Ashland.

Asked what brought her to Ashland, she said she had some private meetings and wanted to see friends. Following the fundraiser in Ashland, she was set to attend the Jackson County Democrats fundraiser known as “Wine in the Garden” at RoxyAnn Winery in Medford. 

Kotek shared plans to return to Jackson County for a more formal visit in coming months.

“We are going to be coming back for our visit as part of the One Oregon Listening Tour in Jackson County in the fall,” Kotek said. “We’re trying to go to some counties that, once the winter comes, it’s a little harder to get to, but we will definitely be back in Jackson County. The way we’ve been organizing our One Oregon Listening Tours is we have a very full day, we’re going to visit with a lot of folks, we end up talking a lot about housing, behavioral health, but also just what’s unique to the area.”

No specific dates were given, but Kotek’s communications team said she would have more time to meet with media representatives at that time.

Data breach

Kotek addressed the breach reported by the state of Oregon on Thursday affecting Oregon Health Plan recipients.

The breach occurred via a third party file transfer software app called MOVEit, according to a letter obtained by Ashland.news.

“It’s not a state data breach, however, it’s Medicaid data,” Kotek said. “Because the coordinated care organization uses a vendor who uses MOVEit and that’s why the breach happened.”

Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek at the Peerless Restaurant in Ashland on Thursday, Aug. 3, 3023. Bob Palermini photo

The breach made the following personal information available to attackers: First and last names, date of birth, Social Security number, address, member and plan ID numbers, as well as claim and billing information.

Sacramento-based PH Tech discovered the attack June 2, though the attack took place on May 30.

“First of all, it’s really important for every Oregonian to think about protecting your data, make sure you’re looking at your credit report, making sure you’re freezing any ability to have new things into your credit line,” Kotek said.

PH Tech is working with a cybersecurity firm to investigate how the breach occurred.

“At the state … we’re doing an enterprise-wide assessment of who else was using MOVEit. That was my very first question,” Kotek said.

“We’re doing more training on cybersecurity with our agency directors and our agency IT people,” she added, “setting up as much protection as we can. We’re not going to get everything, but we have heightened awareness since the situation with the DMV and we’re doing it across the board to have better protection.”

Those impacted by the breach will be offered one year of free credit and Cyber Scan monitoring, an insurance repayment policy, and ID theft recovery services.

Housing production

When asked to elaborate on the issue of housing and the new possibilities for 3D housing through New Spirit Village, a 3D housing community in West Medford developed by retired Ashland architect Barry Thalden, Kotek said the technology makes a lot of sense in terms of finding solutions to fill the great need for housing in the Rogue Valley, especially following the Almeda and Obenchain fires. 

“I think what Oregonians have to know is, for us to reach our new housing production target, 36,000 units per year for the next decade, we have to do more of what we currently do, plus new and different things, so the 3D housing, the 3D construction will create efficiencies and that lowers costs,” Kotek said.

“It’s not just about new rental (units), we also have to have home ownership opportunities,” she added.

Wildfire fighting

Kotek also addressed wildfires and, specifically shared her condolences for the 40 homes recently lost in Bonanza, east of Klamath Falls, to the Golden Fire in a span of about 24 hours.

Oregon Gov. Tina Kotek at the Peerless Restaurant in Ashland on Thursday, Aug. 3, 3023. Bob Palermini photo

“It’s very important for people to think about their homes, how fire safe can you make them, and we’re seeing an increase in human-caused fires,” she said. “I don’t know what that is, but people have to be more careful. They have to really think about what they’re doing.”

She sees room for more investments in wildfire prevention and response.

“I think I would give the Legislature a B+ when it comes to wildfire protection,” Kotek said.

“In the ‘21 session, we had a much larger investment in early prevention work, early response work. We still have some of that in place and I think that’s why we’re seeing some of the quicker containment this fire season.

“I will be asking the Legislature to consider additional investments,” she added. “It’s very important to have our communities be more fire resilient and that takes time and that takes energy, and it takes resources … and making sure we have that immediate response. We are very much focused on coordinating that response because the sooner you can get at a fire, know where it is, get to it, and get it contained, the better off we’re going to be.”

Kotek addressed the amount of individuals who are still without permanent homes following the 2020 wildfires, including the Almeda Fire that originated in Ashland.

“We have families who still don’t have homes, I am not happy about that,” Kotek said. “We have had delays down here.

“I am focused on making sure no one gets forgotten and that they can get into homes … We have doubled down on getting people housed.”

Wants to ‘partner’ with OSF

In other topics, Kotek congratulated the Oregon Shakespeare Festival for reaching its short-term goal of raising $10 million to finish the 2023 season.

OSF was denied a more than $5 million grant from the state this legislative session, but Kotek expressed interest in the state becoming a possible partner in the future.

“I’m glad to hear that the festival is resilient,” Kotek said. “The festival’s really important for the economic activity of this part of the state – it just is.

“I would be open to talking to new leadership … once they have a plan for sustainability, what is the role of the state? I don’t think it’s our job to make up any kind of deficit, but we want to be a partner because it’s an economic issue.”

Reach Ashland.news reporter Holly Dillemuth at hollyd@ashland.news.

Picture of Bert Etling

Bert Etling

Bert Etling is the executive editor of Ashland.news. Email him at betling@ashland.news.

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