CFM State Affairs

Penn Led Legislative Funding Effort for Iconic Salem Amphitheater

The uniquely designed Gerry Frank/Salem Rotary Amphitheater, which should be completed in the fall of 2020, will become an iconic part of the capital city’s riverfront and a major cultural and entertainment venue.

The uniquely designed Gerry Frank/Salem Rotary Amphitheater, which should be completed in the fall of 2020, will become an iconic part of the capital city’s riverfront and a major cultural and entertainment venue.

CFM Partner Dale Penn II led the successful lobby effort at the 2019 Oregon legislature that resulted in a $1 million grant to build the Gerry Frank /Salem Rotary Amphitheater at Riverfront Park.

“I’m a fervent supporter of Rotary and what it does for communities,” Penn said. “But my main reason in leading the lobby effort was my son, Grayson, who I want to have an amazing event site in Salem that he can experience as he grows up.” 

Community fundraising has already topped $1.4 million. The City of Salem has committed to bringing utilities to the riverfront site, expand public access and enhance existing undeveloped land. The amphitheater should be completed in the fall of 2020.

The uniquely designed amphitheater was named in honor of Frank for his lifetime of tireless support for Oregon tourism, business development, public safety and social services. Frank holds membership card No. 1 for the Salem Rotary.

The open-weave basket design honors the Native American Kalapuya who once lived on the site of the amphitheater, which will become a regional and cultural landmark and host to concerts, festivals, school events and cultural education.

Salem-area lawmakers, including the late Senate Jackie Winters, championed the state funding, Penn said. Bruce Anderson of NW Natural, Tammy Dennee of the Oregon Dairy Farmers Association and Ozzie Rose joined Penn in lobbying for the $1 million grant.

“Any allocation of $1 million is tough, no matter the economic situation, so this required diligent work, persuasive economic and cultural arguments and support from legislative leaders like Senators Betsy Johnson, Denyc Boles and Winters along with Representatives Brian Clem, Paul Evans and others,” Penn said.

Penn leads CFM’s state affairs practice and has extensive experience lobbying the Oregon Joint Ways and Means Committee, which makes spending decisions in the legislature.

State Team Scores Client Victories in 2017 Session

Public transit agencies such as Salem-Keizer Transit will be able to expand service as a result of dedicated funding contained in a legislatively approved transportation package.

Public transit agencies such as Salem-Keizer Transit will be able to expand service as a result of dedicated funding contained in a legislatively approved transportation package.

Dedicated funding for public transit. New revenue to sustain the Oregon Health Plan. Public records reforms. Clarity on amending local comprehensive land-use plans. Developed work rules that meshed with demands with wineries. Advocated for creation of a new Cyber Security Center.

Those were just some of the client achievements for the CFM State Affairs team during the 2017 Oregon legislative session.

“This was a session full of challenges,” said CFM’s Dale Penn II. “Our job was to find ways to get past challenges to realize client objectives. In the main, we were successful.”

CFM’s State Affairs team represented 20 clients during the 2017 session on issues ranging from a mandate for physical education in K-12 schools to investing in Oregon’s transportation infrastructure.

“We didn’t have very many idle moments during the session,” recalled CFM’s Tess Milio. “Our client work took us to every hearing room in the Capitol. We were busy.” And the team wouldn’t have it any other way.

Passage of a major transportation package was in doubt until the end of session. “We never gave up hope. We never stopped lobbying or developing new and proactive strategies,” Penn explained. “This was our shot at securing Oregon's first dedicated funding source for transit services while also dealing with bottlenecks that snarl traffic. Our perseverance and advocacy efforts paid off.” CFM’s efforts ensured package contained dedicated funding for public transportation and funding for the Newberg-Dundee Bypass.

A significant part of Oregon’s projected $1.6 billion budget hole was the result of increasing state obligations to pay for Medicaid. Plugging that hole involved careful negotiations and intense lobbying. “This was not a foregone conclusion,” Penn said. “We needed to find creative, politically viable ways to raise the money to sustain health insurance coverage for thousands of Oregonians in an incredibly controversial subject area. We succeeded.”

Access to public records may seem esoteric, but it can be critical to keeping government honest, says CFM’s Zack Reeves. “We represent broadcasters and pushed responsibility for reasonable access to information the public needs to know. Three of the bills we advocated were passed."Public records may seem esoteric, but it can be critical to keeping government honest, says CFM’s Zack Reeves. “We represent broadcasters and pushed responsibility for reasonable access to information the public needs to know. Three of the bills we advocated were passed."

CFM State Affair's Clients

Catholic Community Services
City of Salem
City of Tigard
Columbia River Pilots
Coos/Yaquina Bay Pilot Association
DXC
Hewlett-Packard Enterprise
JE Dunn Construction
Oregon Association of Broadcasters
Oregon Land Title Association
Oregon Public Broadcasting
Oregon Solar Energy Industries Association
Oregon Winegrowers’ Association
Portland Arena Management –Trail Blazers
Providence Health & Services
Recology
Salem-Keizer Transit
Securus
TransCanada
Youth Villages Oregon

Oregon’s land-use laws can seem ponderous, which is why the City of Salem initiated legislation to allow planning commissions to review and approve land-use amendments. “Planning commissions are where the review occurs, the hearings are held and key decisions are made,” Milio said. “It also should be where final action is made.” That view, despite opposition, prevailed.

Contract lobbyists such as CFM work for multiple clients on a wide array of issues – from solid waste to behavioral health to residential energy tax credits.

“Our skill is to match the expertise of our clients with our ability to fold into policy and legislation that can pass,” according to Penn. “We help clients understand what is possible and then make it reality,” adds Milio.

Always with professionalism and integrity.

Dale Penn II 

Dale Penn II 

Tess Milio 

Tess Milio 

Zack Reeves

Zack Reeves