Liam Moriarty


Liam Moriarty has been covering news in the Pacific Northwest for more than 20 years. He's reported on a wide range of topics – including politics, the environment, business, social issues and more – for newspapers, magazines, public radio and the web.  Liam was JPR News Director from 2002 to 2005, reporting and producing the Jefferson Daily regional news magazine. After covering the environment in Seattle, then reporting on European issues from France, he's returned to JPR, turning his talents to covering the stories that are important to the people of this very special region.

United States Fish and Wildlife Service

Oregon’s Measure 91 – which legalized recreational use of marijuana – passed with a healthy 56 percent of the vote this month. Now, local officials are urging the state legislature to make changes they say will lessen the new law’s impact and preserve their authority to make local decisions.

Wikimedia Commons

Chances are your utility bill has gone up this year. One small part of the reason may be that you’re paying for electricity that was never generated.  

Jefferson Public Radio takes a look at how Northwest electricity customers got saddled with more than $2.7 million in payments for power they didn’t use.


Efforts to require labeling of genetically engineered foods have gone 0 for 3 on the west coast, as Oregon's Measure 92 loses by a slim margin.

As of 8:01 Thursday morning, the Oregon Secretary of State's office showed the labeling measure at 49.7 percent yes t0 50.3 no, a margin of less than 10,000 votes, with more than 95 percent of the estimated votes counted.


Four years ago, it took a recount to declare Oregon State Senator Alan Bates the winner by fewer than 300 votes.

This time – after a rematch with his Republican opponent Dave Dotterrer – Bates’ margin of victory in the Third Senate District was a more comfortable 52 to 45 percent. 

Jefferson Public Radio will preview several of the key races and measures in the November 4th election.

This page will serve as a collecting point for interviews and features on the Oregon candidates and races; just click the highlighted text to jump to the audio.

Oregon’s Third Senate District – which comprises southern Jackson County including most of Medford – is one of several key districts where the outcome of the race could overturn Democratic control of the narrowly-divided state Senate.

Wikimedia Commons

Last spring, voters in two southern Oregon counties passed measures to ban the cultivation of genetically engineered crops.  Now, Oregon voters statewide are being asked to approve a measure to require genetically engineered foods to be labeled.

As with the similar, unsuccessful ballot measures in Washington and California, lots of out-of-state money is flooding into the campaigns on both sides.

US Senator Jeff Merkley and his Republican challenger Monica Wehby went head-to-head Tuesday on Medford TV station KOBI.  

In their only scheduled debate, both candidates sought to portray the other as extreme and out of touch with everyday Oregonians, while positioning themselves as champions of working people.

Travel guru Rick Steves is widely known for his guidebooks and programs on public radio and TV.

In recent years he’s also taken a high-profile stance against  marijuana prohibition.

Steves was in Ashland late last week in support of Oregon’s Measure 91, which would legalize, tax and regulate marijuana, much as Colorado and Steves’ home state of Washington have. 

Steves told JPR’s Liam Moriarty his extensive travels in Europe have shown him a smarter way of dealing with cannabis than the punitive American War on Drugs.

The race for Jackson County sheriff just got a little more interesting. 

In an exclusive interview with Medford television station KDRV, three-term incumbent Mike Winters says he'll step down when his term ends on Dec. 31. And, he says, he's endorsing his challenger, Ashland Police Department Deputy Chief Corey Falls.

Objective News

Oct 1, 2014

Whatever became of “objective” news reporting? You know, the kind that just gives you the facts, without any slant or bias, the kind we used to have back in the good old days?

In this current era of shouting-heads cable TV shows and hot-talk radio and incendiary blog posts, when everyone with a Twitter account can make news, it’s understandable to pine for the lost paradise of “objective” journalism.                                                                                                                                                  

Eric Teel/JPR

The Boles fire that swept through the the Siskiyou County town of Weed on Monday left a swath of devastation through this community of 3,ooo that sits in the shadow of Mount Shasta. 

Officials say at least 150 buildings were damaged or destroyed: homes, commercial structures, even two churches. And while much of  the town remains undamaged, entire neighborhoods were reduced to charred rubble and many residents lost everything they owned.

John Luerding/

UPDATE: Friday 9/19/14 10:35 a.m.

The Onion Mountain fire in Josephine County  is now estimated at 4,102 acres with 20 percent containment.

The fire is burning in grass, brush and timber in the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest, 13 miles west of Grants Pass. 

Kowloonese/Wikipedia Commons

In all three West Coast states, transportation accounts for the largest share of climate-changing greenhouse gases. And all three states are trying to boost the number of zero-emission vehicles on their roads.

This week, California passed a milestone toward that goal; 100-thousand electric cars sold in the state since the end of 2010.

Liam Moriarty/JPR

Summer is ending, but fire season in the Northwest is still with us. The Oregon Gulch fire was southern Oregon’s largest so far this season, blackening nearly 56 square miles of Jackson, Klamath and Siskiyou counties.

Several homes were lost, others were saved and a rural mountain community came face-to-face with the reality of sudden danger and loss.

Jefferson Public Radio’s Liam Moriarty traces the path the fire took as it marked the lives of those it touched.

The governor's choices to sit on the newly-formed boards that will oversee Oregon's regional and technical universities have been named.

The names, announced Monday morning by Governor John Kitzhaber's office, include prospective Board of Trustee members for Southern Oregon University in Ashland, Oregon Institute of Technology in Klamath Falls, Western Oregon University in Monmouth and Eastern Oregon University in La Grande.

UPDATE: THURSDAY, August 14, 10:30 AM

A let-up in thunderstorm activity -- plus significant rainfall and cloud cover -- has helped fire crews get a handle  on the fire between Shady Cove and Eagle Point in Jackson County.  

Brian Ballou, spokesperson for the Oregon Department of Forestry, told JPR that the shift in the weather has been a huge help to firefighters.

Liam Moriarty / Jefferson Public Radio

Fire crews battling Oregon 's biggest fire have finally gotten the upper hand.  Chris Cline, Oregon Department of Forestry  incident commander for the Oregon Gulch fire said that crews have completed the line around the eastern tip of the fire.

Oregon Governor's Office

Fire officials will brief Governor John Kitzhaber on the scene of the Oregon Gulch fire Wednesday morning.

US Forest Service

UPDATE, TUESDAY, 9:00 a.m. -- Lower temperatures and higher humidity, coupled with lower winds, have resulted in little new fire activity on the Oregon Gulch fire that straddles the Oregon-California state line. The lull has given fire crews a chance to gain ground on the fire, which is now 30 percent contained.

It's also allowed authorities to lift evacuation orders along Copco Road in Siskiyou County and to lower the evacuations level along Copco Road from Hyatt Lake to the state line from Level 3 (Get out now) to Level 2 (Be ready to go at a moment's notice).