The Oregon Blog
Under grey skies, self-medicating with black coffee


Friday, October 31, 2003  

As I have made a deal with myself to post something daily, but have no time today, let me refer you to a VERY comprehensive post on the Joint Terrorism Task Force. B!x has it all.

posted by Jeff | 3:35 PM |


Thursday, October 30, 2003  

What makes ye of this (I'm pretty sure the Merc broke the story last week, but possibly that's just a potent hallucination; anyway, their archives are incomplete)?

Showing an astounding proclivity for inclusivity, Multnomah County's Diversity and Equity Office announced last week that a new "employee network group" has formed: "White Males Seeking Equity in the Workplace...."

Landis, who works in the county's Gresham probation office, says he still feels that women and minority employees have the inside track for advancement.

"I've experienced discrimination for a long time," he says. "When it happens to a minority or a woman, it's bad. When it happens to a white male, it's like, 'You deserve it.'"

County employment statistics show that as of July 2003, women made up 55 percent of the 125 parole and probation officers, while minorities accounted for 18 percent. Among managers in the county's Department of Community Justice, the breakdown was 51 percent female, 23 percent minority.

Travis Graves, the department's human-resources manager, says his office doesn't track promotions by race and gender. But at WW's request, he reviewed management positions filled since 2000 and found that six of 13 went to women or minorities.


I'm a bit torn. On the one hand, seems like a no-brainer--based on the stats presented in the article, he ain't got a case, and anyway, boo hoo. On the other hand, equality is equality--if we're going to allow groups to form based on race identity, then you gotta wave the whities through. Anyone care to hazard an opinion?

posted by Jeff | 2:47 PM |


Wednesday, October 29, 2003  

Incidentally, our reader--Rick--has a nice post about vegan cat owners and their private dementia. You don't want to know, but you can't look away...

Elsewhere in the blogosphere:

The Communique is your one-stop source for PUD news.

Jack Bog is talking about the weather (ain't we all), and he points to a new Oregon Blogger (good stuff, too).

And while the Oregon Blog languishes, Utterly Boring is breaking news. Come on guys, you're making us look bad.

posted by Jeff | 4:08 PM |
 

Some more info on Francesconi in today's Oregonian. One key passage expresses pretty well why I'm not backing him.

But Francesconi critics, among them some City Council colleagues, also exist. What supporters see as inclusion, detractors see as indecision on issues from off-leash areas in city parks to the council's prewar stance on Iraq. Their conclusion: He can't make the tough choices as mayor and set a broad vision for the city.

They hunger for a candidate to tap what they call a deep ennui about Francesconi and skepticism about his willingness to cross the business heavyweights donating about 70 percent of his campaign money.

"The problem with Jim has been people have difficulty knowing who he is," said Paul Leistner of the Mount Tabor Neighborhood Association. "People are never really sure where he's going to come out on something."


In any other city, I'd say that his money advantage would balance this out. But Portlanders will actually look at records and judge personalities. They may come to the same conclusion. Which is also to say that if he wins, he'll have earned--not bought--the office.

posted by Jeff | 4:00 PM |
 

Incidentally, to those readers (Rick) who may have wondered--Iggi and Shawn are one. Apparently Shawn has decided to come out bravely from behind his nom de plume. (Don't expect me to, though!)

posted by Jeff | 3:55 PM |
 

As much as this appeals to my dark side, I have to through the kibosh:

Last Thursday at Memorial Coliseum, documentary producer Michael Moore called Larson's home number from the stage. The voicemail message, broadcast to the audience of 8,000, gave out Larson's personal cell phone number.

Since then, the talk show host says he's received more than 100 calls, some in the middle of the night, and he says several of threatening nature. Portland police spokesman Brian Schmautz says making a harassing call is a misdemeanor, punishable with community service.


I'm all for going after Lars--but not at his home. He's such a blowhard that one is inclined to applaud this. But don't give in to the dark side!

posted by Jeff | 3:43 PM |
 

I don't know about anyone else, but I'm glad the weather is back to normal. Those 70 degree days were unnerving, to say the least.

posted by iggi | 1:17 PM |


Monday, October 27, 2003  

Wow! Did anyone else see this:

"Roughly 40,000 poor people have been dropped from the Oregon Health Plan this year because of their failure to make monthly premium payments, some as low as $6 a month."

This seems like a remarkable number of Oregonians. Luckily, they have a warm-hearted state Republican on their side:

"Kruse said enrollees who have lost coverage because they didn't pay their premiums are being forced to change the way they view the program.

[snip]

'It's not that I wish people anything bad, but there needs to be consequences for not living up to the responsibility that we've put into it," he said. 'And that's why we have the six-month disenrollment.'"

Okay, a little sarcasm, but Jesus H. Christ they're people. A little leeway for the poor please...and 6 months? That has the finality of a prison sentence.

Of course they pad it with this little tid-bit:

"State statistics show that most enrollees are about 40 percent below the poverty level and tend to be jobless and often homeless and have a high prevalence of mental illness and drug or alcohol abuse."

I guess that makes it okay.

posted by iggi | 3:04 PM |
 

Saw this in the latest Willy Week (from the Murmurs section):

"First recent traffic rankings proclaimed Portland's traffic worse than Seattle's, and now this: Our state is stupid. Battered by education cuts and a wicked-high dropout rate, Oregon took a beating in recently released rankings by an independent research firm, Morgan Quitno Press. The 2003 Education State Rankings weighed, among other things, test scores, school spending and dropout rates, and Oregon rated as the nation's 32nd-smartest polity--i.e., the 19th-dumbest, ranking below such unrenowned IQ zones as South Dakota and West Virginia. The biggest genius factory in the Northwest? None other than Montana, which placed fourth overall behind Massachusetts, Vermont and Connecticut." [source]

You can check the actual rankings here.

I always suspected that those smart-alecky kids were getting dumber, but I attributed it to my getting older and, subsuquently, becoming more of a codger.

Poor, poor Oregon. Someone may have an better grasp on this than myself, but wouldn't businesses go to where the smart people are, rather than migrate to where the dumb ones live and breed? I think so, but that doesn't mean it's true...

Then again, how hard is it to say "welcome to Wal-Mart" anyway?

posted by iggi | 9:47 AM |


Friday, October 24, 2003  

There's an article in the Statesman Journal today describing how the forces of the environment are going to enlist Bruce Babbitt to help them defeat Dubya in Oregon. All well and good, and not much worth reporting. But then there's this:

The group hopes to appeal to young voters, suburbanites, independents and those who supported Green Party candidate Ralph Nader in 2000.

Democrat Al Gore lost to Bush by 6,765 votes in Oregon in 2000, while Nader took 77,357 votes.

“A significant number of Nader voters turned out in Oregon because of their concern about the environment,” and could be persuaded to vote Democratic this election, said Aimee Christensen, the campaign’s director. [Italics mine.]


Now wait a second. Either I have the reading comprehension of a 1st grader, or my mind's gone soft. I was pretty darn sure Gore actually won Oregon.

posted by Jeff | 12:28 PM |
 

pResident Bush racked up a $116,756 tab in Portland during his August fundraising trip and it (finally) looks like the City of Roses has decided to make him pay up:

"The city of Portland will ask President Bush to pay the overtime bill that police ran up during his campaign visit to the Rose City last summer."

Having been at the demonstration, I can vouch for the overwhelming police presence meant to keep the protestors at bay -- Emma and I both saw stormtroopers from Eugene riding in a heavily armored, turreted assault vehicle. I wonder how much that baby costs to gas up? All so Bush and friends could have a high-priced luncheon and rake in the campaign bucks sans the flotsam and jetsam of that pesky First Amendment.

Meanwhile, the city claims it will send similar bills to any Democratic candidates that come to town:

"That means visits next year by the Democratic presidential nominee could generate a similar overtime bill, as would purely political activities of government officials."

This is almost laughable. I can't imagine a candidate like Kucinich (even Dean or Clark) demanding the amount of security sissy-boy Bush does when he comes to Little Beirut. Hell, he even demands other countries subvert their own brands of democracy so he can avoid feeling ridiculed by the masses (Australia, for example).

The city also claims that it's made these demands for payment before and that they've been ignored. The Smith campaign weaseled out of a $51,346 in 2002 because the president's visit "visit involved more than just raising campaign money." The prez rolled into town to raise money for Smith and, subsequently, forced the city to bolster it's police presence. Conveniently enough, Bush also met with community leaders to discuss "Oregon issues" thereby avoiding a hefty bill from the city.

Bill Bradbury, a Democrat, who challenged Smith last year, payed his $1,685 bill. What does this mean? I have no idea, but it's amusing none-the-less.

posted by iggi | 10:09 AM |


Thursday, October 23, 2003  

The calm before the storm? I hope so. As you see, the poor Oregon Blog has been languishing for more than a week. Fred is still, I believe, fighting the waves of unemployment. Iggi appears to be fighting the waves of October malaise. Me, I was in Vermont for part of the time, which will have to do as an excuse.

The most immediate and pressing issue is the PUD controversy. I won't rehash the whole issue, because the Portland Communique and Jack Bogdanski have been playing tag team with great coverage (start with this post).

Because ballots are in the mail, the issue of whether they accurately reflect the issues is in some ways irrelevant. More central is whether we should have a Public Utility District. I happened to be at the Multnomah County Democratic meeting when the PUD supporters pitched their cause (which the MultCo Dems overwhelmingly endorsed), and I was convinced it's a good idea. Their arguments are summarized here. Here are some of the relevant points, and you can click through to see what energy rates Oregonians pay in different districts.


PUDs in Oregon all have lower rates than PGE;
PUDs provide energy at cost; there are no profits built into rates;
PUDs don't collect income taxes from ratepayers;
PUDs pay local property taxes and franchise fees;
PUD purchase of PGE will acquire its assets but leave behind its massive liabilities;
PUDs are run by locally elected boards of directors who reflect community values;
PUDs have better records on renewables, energy conservation and public purposes;
PUD meetings and books are open to the public;
PUDs are required by law to offer employment to PGE workers and honor existing labor contracts.


On the other side of the fence are mainly the power companies who will lose out if we adopt this. As far as I can tell, supporters of the measure are citizens who want reliable, cheap power. You make the call.

But me, I'm voting yes. You should, too.

posted by Jeff | 9:29 AM |


Sunday, October 12, 2003  

[Update: The Supreme Court yesterday sent the jackboots in the DoJ a message: lay off the docs.

Justices turned down the Bush administration's request to consider whether the federal government can punish doctors for recommending or perhaps even talking about the benefits of the drug to sick patients. An appeals court said they cannot.


It boggles the mind that this remained an issue, but at least I don't have to check myself into a nice purty building with soft rubber walls now.]

A nice article in the Big O this morning about medical marijuana and the Ashcroft agenda. It seems to be getting some national (blog) attention, too, which is nice. Not a whole lot to add--you're familiar with all the themes.

(Okay, one thing: this is exactly why Bush won't win Oregon in '04, along with his failure to help fund schools and his other witch hunt on doctors who participate in the Death with Dignity law.)

posted by Jeff | 9:29 PM |


Friday, October 10, 2003  

But wait, the good news doesn't stop there! Try this on for size:

A federal judge Thursday extended the halt on logging six old-growth timber sales in Oregon, ruling that the U.S. Forest Service violated environmental laws in evaluating the projects.

U.S. District Judge Garr King found that the Forest Service failed to survey for rare plants and animals that depend on old-growth forests to survive, as required by the Northwest Forest Plan. The judge also found that the Forest Service violated the National Environmental Policy Act by failing to include the public in its decisions.

The ruling applies directly to two timber sales on the Mount Hood National Forest and four timber sales on the Willamette National Forest.


Disclaimer: on very few things am I an absolutist. One of the things, however, is old-growth forests. There are plenty of trees in the forest to support a healthy logging industry without ever cutting down another ancient cedar. You know what? Our great, great, great grandkids will thank us for that.

And it's not all painless.

Robbie Robinson, president of Starfire Lumber in Cottage Grove, said he was not sure how he would keep his mill operating without the logs that were to come off the Straw Devil timber sale on the Willamette National Forest,because his mill specializes in products that can be cut only from big logs.

“We spent a lot of money up there, and we don’t have anything to show for it. We reconstructed roads. We spent


I feel for Starfire. Oregon was built on logging and lumber, and if ever there was a cultural legacy, this is it. So I think the state and feds ought to help Robinson out. It's an ideal opportunity to preserve ancient forests and put some supports in place for sustainable harvest. If the government had a program to offer grants and low-interest, secured loans to lumber businesses like Starfire, Robinson would have some alternative within the business he knows. Oregon is one of the evergreen states, and it can support a vibrant logging industry. But in order to make that transition from the way logging used to be done to a more sustainable model, the government ought to offer some help. Keeping logging and local businesses healthy is in the interest of the state. Those expenditures would pay dividends down the road, and they'd also help restore some faith among decimated lumber communities.

posted by Jeff | 12:53 PM |
 

Correction: First-tier candidate Phil Busse

First things first--an update on Emma-endorsed mayoral candidate Phil Busse. That would be previously-marginal candidate Phil Busse. Marginal, it seems, no more:

During a forum before the Commercial Association of Realtors, Francesconi, the city commissioner, Potter, the former police chief, and Phil Busse, managing editor of The Portland Mercury, said they could support a state sales tax. The fourth candidate at the forum, Bart Hanson, an independent contractor, opposes a sales tax.


Please update your files.

posted by Jeff | 12:47 PM |


Tuesday, October 07, 2003  

The Old Switcheroo

The Institute on Money in State Politics (IMSP) has just released a fascinating study of how the state and national party committees (DNC, RNC) have been dodging soft-money limits. They used a sample of 13 states and Oregon was one (more on us in a moment). You'll find the main study here and the piece on Oregon here (both are .pdf's).

Essentially, there was one main finding in the overall report, and it's a little tricky to describe, so hang with me. If the DNC wants to run an "issue ad," it must use 65% of the cost from its "hard money" coffers (money subject to federal giving limits that can be used for any purpose). Hard money is a lot harder to raise, so this is a high bar. States, though, have their own laws about how hard and soft money can be spent, and generally the ratios require less hard money. What the IMSP found was that states and national parties simply traded money and used the more beneficial state requirements to run issue ads (unregulated ads that don't directly support a candidate). An example from the report is helpful:

Just one example can illustrate the the advantage of having state committees puchase such ads. On August 28, 2000, the DNC gave the Michigan Democratic Party $236,135 of hard money and $393,558 of soft money, for a total contribution of $629,693. That same day, the Michigan Democratic Party sent the exact same amounts of hard and soft money to Democratic Victory Inc., created in April 2000 to craft issue ads for Al Gore.

Paying for that ad directly would have cost the DNC $409,300 of hard dollars (65%). But the Michigan Dems paid only $236,135 in hard dollars because of its more favorable spending mix of 63% soft money and just 37% of hard money. By sending the money to the Michigan party, the DNC saved $173,165 of hard dollars.

(Emphasis theirs.)


The study looked at three elections, 1998, 2000, and 2002, and was prepared as a baseline against which to measure McCain-Feingold.

So, how does Oregon compare? Well, on issue ads, strikingly. In Oregon, you only need to use 25% of hard money per ad--one of the lowest rates in the country. As the report points out, Republicans do better raising hard money (47% of Democrats' money was hard, but 62% of Republicans' was--and Republicans had more overall), spending mix benefits the Dems.

Despite that, the IMSP caught the Oregon Republicans in a dubious act.

IN Oregon in 2000, the state Republican Party made nine separate payments to National Media Inc. for advertising that totaled slightly more than $2 million. In each instance, the RNC transferred hard and soft money to the state, and the state used the same amounts of hard and soft money to pay National Media Inc. The state party initially reported to the FEC that the payments to National Media were "Bush ads." When the FEC requested a clarification of the expenditures, the state party first sent a letter saying that the "Bush ads" had been improperly reported as operating expenditures and should have been "joint activity." It later sent another letter saying all the National Media expenditures were for "issue advocacy ads" and did not advocate the election or defeat of any candidate.


Other findings:

  • In 2000, four of the ten top individual contributers were out of state;

  • The top three donors during the period under study were all Republican donors;

  • Despite what Lars says, labor contributed only 14% in the period, compared to 60% raised by businesses/PACs;

  • Major individual contributors came from business and backed Republicans.



  • posted by Jeff | 12:05 PM |


    Monday, October 06, 2003  

    Have you all had a chance to read your new Portland Monthly? (Well, those of you who live in the City of Roses, anyway.) I have, and I've got the scoop.

    First things first; the economics of magazine publishing. Glossy mags ain't cheap to publish. Going into the whole glossy-mag business means agreeing to a certain unavoidable predicament: the only way you can afford to do it is to get lots of high-end advertizers who are willing to shell out big bucks, but in return, they want to know you'll be reaching customers who want their high-end products. So even a cursory glance at the PM tells us this much: it's not going to appeal to Tri-met set (that is, most of us).

    But all right, that doesn't necessarily doom a project, it just limits it. So let's clear our minds of any prejudice we might have against the Hummer drivers and consider the magazine for what it is. On those terms, how does it succeed?

    Unfortunately, not well.

    The first question any magazine publisher should be able to answer is: why does the world need this magazine? Based on the premiere issue of the Portland Monthly, someone forgot to ask this question.

    It houses the diamond ring ads nicely and the main story about the Blazers is excellent, but beyond that, there's very little here that you can't find in other Portland publications. (Even the Blazers piece might have appeared in the Willamette Week.) The content varies little from newspaper-type copy, and there's no particular editorial position. Editors have covered the various bases--business, culture, the arts--but thinly and uncompellingly. Why do I need to read yet another review of Bernie's Southern Bistro?

    It's early, so I won't completely dismiss it yet. But neither will I buy a copy in two months sight unseen. I'll scan a copy first--and if the editors still haven't figured out what the magazine's raison d'etra is, they'll lose my four bucks.

    posted by Jeff | 5:06 PM |


    Saturday, October 04, 2003  

    A few more words on the splintering GOP. Over in the 5th District, Republican candidates are piling on for a chance to face Darlene Hooley. What we're seeing is, it seems, a microcosm for the state of the GOP statewide.

    Jackie Winters and Jim Zupancic are running for the US Congress. But it is a vote in the state legislature that's already emerged as the biggest issue. Winters was among five Republican state Senators to vote for an $800 million package of tax hikes to balance the budget. Opponents of that bill are currently collecting signatures for a referendum.

    Jackie Winters: You know on the one hand to put a budget together that was a bare-bones budget for the citizens of Oregon and then turn around and say, Oh, by the way, although this is what's necessary and needed, I'm not willing to support what I put together. I think that that's a hypocrite.

    But Winters' chief opponent is making as much hay of the tax vote as he can.

    Jim Zupancic: It's clear that Jackie is, as I say, a high tax, high spending candidate. And that's the opposite of me.


    It's the debate between wild-eyed idealogues and adult legislators. The issue confronting the party is whether to concede the argument to the anti-taxers--all votes that don't reduce the size of government will be punished--or govern with at least the symbolic nod to the needs of consituents who demand the services lost by the anti-tax agenda.

    The idealogues appear to be winning. Kevin Mannix, the state GOP head, is driving this kind of punitive politics and marginalizing moderates. In the short term, it's good news for Dems, who are likely to feel the windfall of voter backlash.

    I think there's a danger, though, that this kind of intense hatred for responsible governance will corrupt politics--not just the Republican Party. As we gear up for another election cycle, Democrats will have their own choice. In many cases, they'll be facing anti-tax radicals, or candidates hampered by third-party candidacies with anti-tax radicals they beat in the primaries. Dems will have an easy target if they choose to play up the irresponsibility of the anti-tax stance. But this will help solidify polarized politics in Oregon. Far better that they stay above the fray and appeal to Oregonians--all Oregonians, not just the pro-service crowd. Marginalizing the anti-taxers is punitive, too. And it sows the seeds for legislative inertia of the kind we've seen over the past 3 years.

    The GOP is splintering, and that's good news--finally moderates are stepping up. But the Democrats need to be wary not to get caught in the friendly fire.

    posted by Jeff | 10:50 AM |
     

    Oregon Haiku

    The weather has turned.
    Grey clouds and cooler weather.
    Must pay the gas bill.

    posted by iggi | 10:18 AM |


    Wednesday, October 01, 2003  

    Corporate Extortion

    So Louisiana-Pacific has taken their files and packed up for Nashville. It's too bad, really--but just the same, it's just a part of the bigger corporate fool's game going on. (Caveat: L-P says that they moved for "geographic reasons," not for "taxation" or other reasons. However, I'm going to use them as the inspiration for this piece because the "anti-business flight reactionaries" are using it as well.)

    Once this game was the realm of the professional sports teams. You know the drill--"buy us the world or we'll take our gladiators and move to [insert city willing to give us whatever we want]." Then, seeing how well it worked in an industry that didn't offer much more than municipal pride, large corporations around the country decided to see if they could join the game.

    If you have a large enough company (administration-wise), it seems to work pretty well. The corporation gets everything it wants and not a penny more--including, but not limited to, tax breaks (income, sales, property, corporate, etc.), fast-track building permits, "no-cost" infrastructure improvements, access to special real property deals (like being able to invoke the right of "imminent domain") and so on.

    The sellout city, on the other hand, gets the rush of excitement of a new beau, an initial commerce spike for all the people that move in (houses, moving companies, service industries) and the promise of New Jobs For All!

    Of course, after a few years, the "new city" is stuck with added infrastructure costs (that it has no corporate tax-base to pay for), no great increases in overall employment or income--unless the company that's moving is building a manufacturing plant or in a high-growth market (which eventually will become a saturated market--see "Tech, High"), the vast majority of it's administrative workforce will be transferred in to the new city, not employed from within the city. And when you're talking about a 300-person or smaller office, like LP (of which, 130 will remain in Portland), it's not as if you're going to infuse millions into the local economy. It's also not like you're going to be employing thousands of new, highly-paid and highly-skilled workers in the new office that the local government just bought.

    After you take away all of the revenue that the newly-imported company won't bring to their new home (due to their sweetheart deal), take away the new infrastructure building and maintenance costs, and then add back in all of the "new salaries" that these corporate-headquarter transfer deals bring, it's not going to look very rosy. Especially when the locals have to raise sales, property or income taxes to start covering the increased demands of new roads, cars, and schools in the area that the corporation benefits from but doesn't pay for.

    What's worse, you get the "backlash" in the spurned city. Grumbling over "why did they leave us?" begins. Reactionaries quickly close in to "save our businesses" and push to give those same "sweetheart deals" to any company that remains. Which is what we are dealing with now in Portland.

    In The Big O, the co-header with "LP leaves" was "Taxes too high." This is how it begins.

    Of course, L-P paid the whopping $10 corporate minimum tax last year. Fairly onerous, I know, for a company like L-P. This coming year, with the New, Improved and Outrageously onerous Corporate Minimum Tax, they would have to come up with the ungodly sum of $5000!

    The corporate tax rate in Tennessee is higher (but no mention was found as to whether or not L-P would be paying them). Currently, though, Tennessee's income-tax rate structure is lower (6% compared to 9% top rate). Of course, Tennessee has sales taxes (and Nashville's sales tax rate is 9.25%) which tends to even out the income tax savings.

    L-P failed to make a profit last year, dumping it in a truckload of Oregon companies, like PGE/Enron, that got away with paying that burdensome $10 in taxes. Now I didn't make a profit last year, either--I ended the year with a bank account looking suspiciously like $0 and a strong-enough burden of debt. Of course, I paid not only more than $10, but more than the "new minimum" as well.

    Obviously, the "business tax structure" in this state (Oregon) is way out of whack and we need to do something to be more competitive! But out of whack for whom?

    Let's take a brief snapshot of the playing field: Corporate tax rates are low--shifting the burden of revenue to the personal income-tax payer. As the "pro-business (welfare)" proponents argue to lower corporate rates, more burden gets shifted to the individuals. The revenue system in Oregon is way out of whack, and that wackiness continues to increase. Why? Because as soon as someone stands up and says "We need to shift the burden back towards the businesses (you know, the ones that get all of the benefits of state services) because they need to pick up their share," the businesses (and the money that they throw at their lobby groups instead of taxes) start screaming "we're leaving! Too burdensome!"

    Witness Kuni Automotive group, slipping across the river to Vancouver, WA.

    So it comes back to the same old game: to the burdens of government belong to the people, businesses, or both? The answer is, to any sane person (basically, anyone that agrees with me), look at who benefits.

    The answer is that both benefit from government services--businesses bring up the majority of civil lawsuits--courts are provided (and subsidized by tax moneys. Businesses use the majority of telecom infrastructure--infrastructure subsidized by taxpayers for the benefit of all (and yes, I understand businesses pay higher rates, but not in proportion to their use of the infrastructure, just in proportion to their volume). People use the majority of human service programs--but business reaps the rewards of those programs both indirectly and directly.

    The business community doesn't want to have to pay taxes (or, more appropriately, the corporate community), they would like to see their tax burden shifted onto the private citizens--but at a low enough rate that the high-earners don't have to make up too much of the difference. This generally means the dreaded "S-word," Sales tax.

    This has turned into a longer and more complex post than I had intended, so I leave you with this: If you are to really create a healthy climate for business and for citizens, what do you do? Giving businesses a "free ride" reaps short-term benefits (maybe--or maybe just stalls short-term pain) but creates long-term crises. Not being business-friendly enough means that you will pay the price when some other locality comes along with an armful of roses and a pretty ring.

    The best answer would be to have all localities "stick together" and not give in to the whoring that various corporations do to get all of these various incentives to relocate. That's a hard one to sell. It seems obvious that if a company, like any other philanderer, leaves another city for yours, sooner or later it will leave you for greener pastures elsewhere, but when your city, town or state is looking for any good news to give to their people about jobs, it's easy to look past the past.

    Still, until we all have the collective "gumption" to say "no, thank you, I'm not giving you the moon for a paperweight in return for a peck on the cheek," we're all going to be on the losing end or the paying end of corporate extortion. And it's a long-term losing game.

    posted by fred | 5:26 PM |
     

    Non-Portlanders don't tune out...

    On Sunday I had the opportunity to do something I've never done before: go to a political fundraiser. Admittedly, it was for Phil Busse, who at this point is, ahem, not the front runner for Portland mayor. Nevertheless, he's a serious candidate and it was a serious fundraiser. He spoke about issues and part of the proceeds from our food went to the Busse warchest. (Apparently it's a war envelope at the moment, but it's early.)

    What goes on at fundraisers? Well, based on this sample of one, I'm prepared to comment. Supporters chatted and got to know each other. We talked Phil, city politics, and the mayoral race. The political process is like this--you reach out, you discuss things, you see that people are excited about making change, and for the first time, you feel you can contribute. It was great to hear a crowd of young people discuss what needs to be done in City Hall.

    Now that I've ambled down that preamble, let me get to the reason for posting. The most interesting discussion we had involved the mayor's responsibility for state politics. The mayor's? None, right? I don't know about that. Phil has mentioned that his first priority is schools. He probably shares that with most mayors and most other Oregonians. But the Portland mayor doesn't have any influence over schools because that's a state issue, right?

    Maybe yes and maybe no. Oregon has always had a division between Portland and the rest of the state. Never before has it become such a profound difference. You drive past the urban growth boundary, and you see "Bush Country" signs all the way to Idaho (or Cali). In my mind it's become a matter of culture--Oregon is deeply distrustful of a city it regards as radically left and arrogant. To the degree that the mayor sets the agenda for the city, repairing this rupture becomes the mayor's business. I think whomever is Portland's next mayor needs to make bridge-building with the rest of the state a major priority. It's not a process that will have immediate or large effects, but if we don't head down the road to reconciliation soon, it's going to just get worse.

    posted by Jeff | 10:22 AM |
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