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


Tuesday, December 30, 2003  

All righty, the holidays mostly behind us, I believe I can start blogging regularly again. I know my absence created quite a hole in the state dialogue, but now that's all over. (Yeah, yeah, I know--if a blogger blogs in the wilderness, does anyone know s/he's blogging?) Well, even if this blog's relevance is in doubt, apparently blogging as a whole is now legit. I mean, if USA Today writes about you, you're mainstream.

Aside from mad cows and snow, though, not a lot has gone on in our fair state since last week. The big news, I suppose is that Deb Kafoury is leaving her seat. I've already heard a little scuttlebutt about possible candidates for her seat (no, no, though I live in district 43, I've decided not to run--thanks for asking), but nothing I'd care to report.

District 43 comprises part of North and Northeast Portland, and is one of those famous Democratic strongholds. It definitely won't go to a Republican. What I wonder is, in this era of quagmire, when the legislature is so weakened by initiatives, if anyone truly strong will emerge to take the seat, though. I mean, can you imagine what really competent candidates must be thinking now? I have a hunch it's not--"hey, that $13k and Oregonian fraternity really make me want to serve my fellow neighbors." Right. More like, "you gotta be kidding!"

posted by Jeff | 3:03 PM |


Tuesday, December 23, 2003  

Farming the ocean

The Oregonian has a nice piece of journalism on this topic today. It's a wonderfully complex issue--and how it plays out will either continue the consolidation of corporate food conglomerates and damage the environment, or provide a sustainable, green source of fish while protecting wild stocks.

A brief description. In fish farming (or aquaculture), massive tanks contain captive fish while floating in the ocean. Japan and the Scandanavian countries have been pursuing it for years and are way ahead of the US.

The good part, obviously, is that in farming fish, wild stocks get some relief. This isn't the pressing issue in Oregon as New England, where stocks haven't plummeted to near extinction. But that's all the more reason to pursue it now--to protect still-vital wild stocks.

On the other hand, the varieties of fish that can survive captivity are limited. A second drawback is that to meet this challenge, geneticists are starting to bio-engineer fish suited to tank life, much like they bio-engineered chickens suited to industrial farming. Oh, and the problems that arise from industrial land farms--they affect the sea farms, too:

It's unclear whether environmental standards that apply on land would extend offshore -- or what controls would limit escapes, fecal waste and use of drugs. Salmon farms in operation worldwide face few restrictions on the management of huge volumes of waste.

In terms of regulating the industry, this is the biggest problem in the near future:

Federal officials are drafting legislation to let fish farmers lay claim to parcels of sea, just as pioneers laid claim to acreage in the unsettled West. Expected to head to Congress next year, it would apply to federal waters from three to 200 miles offshore -- an immense region outside state jurisdiction and bigger than the entire land area of the continential United States.

It makes me wonder if there is a way for Oregon to take a lead on sea farming so that it brings together the interests of business and the environment. It seems inevitable that aquaculture is going to become the norm in the future, with wild fish serving as an expensive specialty item. Oregon, with its long coastline, is in a wonderful position to pioneer green aquaculture. I wonder what it would take to get such a process started?

posted by Jeff | 11:33 AM |


Thursday, December 18, 2003  

GIVE DOUGH NOW

All right, folks. If you want to help the liberal cause, you need to pull out your pocketbooks. But here's the really good news: you can deduct the first fifty bucks (or $100 for couples) from your 2003 Oregon tax bill.

The Oregon Bus Project describes the process:

Currently, Oregon allows its citizens a tax credit ($100 for couples, $50 for individuals) for donations to political action committees, also known as PACs. But this credit is only available until December 31, 2003. If you don't make your PAC donation by then, you'll lose the opportunity to claim this special credit forever.

It won't cost you anything - despite what you may have heard about getting something for nothing.

Here's how it works: You send your $100 or $50 donation before December 31, and next April 13 as you're madly filling out your tax returns, you'll be able to take a credit for that same amount. That means you'll owe the state $100 or $50 less than you would have without making the donation.

This works with any PAC, of course, not just the Bus Project. They're a pretty good choice, though, so I'll include information about them here. I'm happy to post a list of how to give to other worthy PACs if people send me along their contact info. This is a great opportunity, folks, so I hope you all take advantage of it.

BusPAC
PO Box 15132
Portland, OR 97293
503.233.3018
email info@busproject.org.

posted by Jeff | 11:35 AM |


Tuesday, December 16, 2003  

Via email: Bowling with Busse

Phil keeps bragging at every opportunity that he will "bowl the balls off" of any of us. Well, we decided to make him put up or shut up and planned the "Bowling With Busse" event. The AMF Lanes (3031 S.E. Powell Blvd) have been kind enough to give us the amazing rate of $5 for admission and the first game, and a quarter for shoe rentals and every game after the first. Plus you can harass Phil and attack him on the issues you feel are important, all the while wearing other people's shoes, drinking beer, and listening to the dual iPod slinging sounds of DJ Hot Air Balloon.

Tuesday, December 16th
8:00 pm at the AMF Lanes
3031 S.E. Powell Blvd
$5 Admission (includes first game!)
$0.25 for Shoes and each other game

posted by Jeff | 9:11 AM |


Monday, December 15, 2003  

This is going to be a super busy week for me and there's every likelihood I'll post nothing or next to nothing until next Monday. My apologies in advance.

Damned holidays...

posted by Jeff | 12:29 PM |


Wednesday, December 10, 2003  

It appears the full details of the Mannix plan were not in the AP article I quoted a couple days ago. The whole kielbasa, it turns out, would save $1 billion. Billion--with nine zeros.

But maybe that money-laundering business should caution people against taking Kev's numbers too seriously. The Oregonian tried to throw him a bone but essentially called him a liar

He claims to identify $1 billion in state savings, but nearly half would come from slashing spending on education, even though he artfully tries to disguise the impact on schools....

Mannix also claims that the state can cut school spending by another $150 million to reflect savings realized from reforms in the Public Employees Retirement System. PERS reforms are, indeed, saving districts money. However, the Legislature considered the cost savings when it set the school budget. In effect, Mannix is proposing another $150 million cut in school spending.

Other key elements in Mannix's proposal include using most or all of the state's ending fund balance of about $135 million and diverting so-called public purpose funds, which are fees paid by some electrical ratepayers, from energy programs to the general fund. Emptying the general fund is not prudent. Grabbing the public purpose money is probably illegal.

So there you have it: smoke, mirrors, and Enron-style accounting. Is this the best reason to pass Measure 30?

posted by Jeff | 2:46 PM |
 

Hey all, go to Jack's site. He's donating a buck to the Oregon Food Bank for every unique hit (up to a thousand) he receives. It's a wonderful gesture, and you'll enjoy his content, anyway (probably you already do). Way to go, Jack!

posted by Jeff | 8:22 AM |


Tuesday, December 09, 2003  

In the interest of fair play, here's the Democratic platform. If the GOP is lame for having an incoherent platform, it's at least comprehensive. The Dems, meantime, have a few notes apparently jotted down from a cocktail napkin. It's so vague as to be useless. (Dems: 777 words, Republicans: 12,406.)

"Education

In order to secure the best future for our state and the quality of life for its residents, we support maximizing educational opportunities for all Oregon students and the commitment of resources necessary for unsurpassed excellence in public education."

That's the entire section on education. Well, at least it's not controversial!

posted by Jeff | 1:49 PM |
 

I need to get back to this Mannix news--for the details are richer than in my post yesterday. But first, thanks to Steve Duin's column today about racist Republican emails, I skated on over to the Oregon Republican Party website to see about getting on their mailing list. I didn't discover how to do that, but I did find the ORP platform, and it's an amazing document. Amazing because 1) its breadth and organization are astonishingly incoherent, and 2) it's one of the most baldly ideological tracts I've ever laid eyes on, informed enormously by Lon Mabon and Bill Sizemore. I know there are a few of you out there who are Republicans, so I'd love to hear how well you think some of this stuff represents your views.

It's broken down into ten sections, plus a "preamble" (even this is incoherent--the first two sections, families and individual rights, are actually point one of the nine-point platform). The thing is mighty long, so if you don't have time to scan it, here are a few culled gems.

The preamble, ideological basis of the ideology that follows, has the the usual business you'd expect--God and families and business and individual rights. But the effort to include current, far-right policy positions alongside ideals results--as it does throughout the document in bizarre juxtapositions. Check out the following two consecutive paragraphs, in which it appears no one recognized irony.

We honor such, as well as believe in equal justice, rights, and opportunity for ALL.

We believe in strong families that are formed through the marriage commitment between one man and one woman, and in the parents’ commitment to provide the positive nurturing care and discipline to their children.

Families
1.1. We believe all authority flows from The Creator to the parent and family.... [Religion isn't the point of this provision, but it's revealing. "The Creator" appears 3 times in the platform, "God" five.]

1.17. We recognize the practice of homosexuality to be a matter of personal choice, and morally wrong. We oppose efforts to teach, promote or present homosexuality in public schools. We also oppose laws which grant minority status or the creation of special protection based upon one's sexual choices.

1.18. We oppose laws to promote, affirm or establish legal status for same-sex marriages and create benefits normally attributed to heterosexual marriages, and we urge the Oregon legislature to pass, and the Governor to sign, a bill refusing to recognize in Oregon a same-sex marriage performed under the laws of any other jurisdiction.

Individual rights
1.28. We strongly support right-to-work laws without coercion; even as we respect the rights to establish labor unions. We oppose the use of violence or intimidation by any party to a labor dispute; and we oppose the use of compulsory dues. Taxpayers should not pay for the collection of union dues, and we oppose using such dues for political purposes.

1.30. Tax dollars are a precious resource of government. We oppose the use of revenues to fund programs which promote homosexuality. We believe all forms of homosexuality and the so-called homosexual agenda are morally wrong and damaging to society in the long term. We believe that the practice of homosexuality is a matter of personal choice; and efforts to teach, promote or present homosexuality in public schools are inappropriate. Laws which grant minority status, create special consideration or protection based upon a behavior are equally inappropriate and thus opposed.

Education
2.4. We oppose the Oregon Education Act For the 21st Century (CIM-CAM System) and similar bureaucratic, state mandated and costly social engineering programs, and urge its immediate repeal. [This is what Mannix wants to get rid of to save money.]

2.7. We advocate recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance in schools as a continual statement of loyalty to this Republic and as a reminder of the principles that sustain us as One Nation under God.

2.24. The Ten Commandments are recognized as accepted by the people of Judeo-Christian faith as well as many other faiths. They are as much a part of our moral values and civil law as they are part of any specific church or religious doctrine. Therefore the Republican Party believes the Ten Commandments should be on display along with other great documents of our society wherever appropriate in schools, courtrooms, and public places. We support the public display of the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, Bill of Rights and the Pledge of Allegiance in our public schools.

2.25. We support the prohibition of public schools from instructing on behaviors relating to homosexuality and bisexuality in a manner that encourages, promotes or sanctions such behaviors. We support sanctions for noncompliance by any public elementary or secondary school or by any public institution of higher education, and their employees in their official capacity, including loss of all or part of state funding.

Government structure/restructuring
8.19. We support the reduction of all taxes to a level needed only to maintain minimum government that can protect life, liberty, and property.

8.20. We support the elimination of personal property taxes. Until that occurs, we support the significant reduction of personal property tax penalties.

Foreign policy
9.6. United States membership in, and serving as a host nation of the United Nations threatens the sovereignty of the U.S. The United Nations organizations have proven systematically ineffective in quelling aggression anywhere in the world. The United States would benefit both politically and economically, with the removal of the United Nations facilities to another site and the elimination of the budgetary burden from the taxpayers of the United States. The United States should withdraw from the U.N.

9.12. The Congress, through its appropriate committees, should investigate acts of terror against the Christian community and other people of faith throughout the world.

posted by Jeff | 12:28 PM |


Monday, December 08, 2003  

And Mannix second, as promised. A little context, just to get the ball rolling. Last week, the state DOJ decided not to indict the GOP chairman for political money laundering. Not because he didn't launder money--he did. It just turns out that Oregon's laws allow it.

In 1997 and 2000, Mannix, a former state lawmaker, had set up two political action committees to support changes in Oregon's legal system, called Justice For All II and Workers Compensation Progress. On Sept. 7, 2001, with Mannix locked in a tough primary race to become the Republican nominee for governor, Portland businessman Robert Randall, a longtime backer of conservative causes, used three of his companies to give a combined $50,000 to the two committees.

Hours later, Mannix transferred that money to his governor's campaign, and in subsequent governor's campaign reports he listed the PACs as the source, not Randall...

In his Nov. 23 report, obtained by WW, Hamilton confirmed the reporters' findings. What's more, he found that Randall had similarly funneled money to Mannix on two earlier occasions--and he wasn't alone. In May 2002, Hamilton noted, Oregon City businessman Alan James loaned $25,000 to the Mannix committee called Workers Compensation Progress, which promptly turned around and loaned $24,000 to Mannix's gubernatorial campaign.

Despite the appearance that some Mannix money was accepted under a "false name," however, Hamilton found a huge loophole in the law: It does not apply to money contributed from a committee treasurer to a committee treasurer. And Mannix was the treasurer of all the committees involved.

Now, from this context we can more ably consider Measure 30. This is the initiative to repeal the bipartisan $800-million tax hike bill the legislature passed this past summer. Mannix, who supports the repeal, but who lacked the cajones to offer a plan about how he'd cover costs during the petition process, has today unveiled his plan. No wonder he waited. His visionary plan includes these suggestions:

  • welsh on collective-bargaining and scrap bonuses to state employees;

  • eliminate the certificate of achievement program; and

  • collect delinquent taxes.



  • Mannix's plan is the equivalent of digging around the sofa for spare change. Let's see. He'll earn a mighty $1.8 million by screwing public employees (but he'll fire up the base!). Rooting out tax cheats isn't a rainmaker, either. I similar strategy grossed Minnesota a paltry $73 million last year (in a state with more than twice Oregon's revenues). So, unless the certificate of early achievement program costs $350 million a year, Mannix's plan for "saving" isn't gonna quite make ends meet.

    Which means there will have to be program cuts. So which ones are they going to be, Kevin? Or are you arguing that these will just about make up for shortfalls? The one thing he said that I do agree with is this: "Oregonians have lost trust in their elected leaders." When you have elected leaders--or in Mannix's case, formerly elected--who launder money and offer half truths and misdirection by way of justifying bad law, it's no wonder Oregonians don't trust them.

    posted by Jeff | 2:29 PM |
     

    Minutiae first. I read on Saturday that Lewis and Clark is the best debate team in the country. Import? For the better part of fall term 1986, I debated on that selfsame team. (We were not ranked quite that high, if I recall rightly.) What got me through high school didn't seem nearly as interesting in college, so I quit early on. Still nice to see the old team in the papers--and to see Steve Hunt, the coach, is still around.

    (Mannix second, but after I go to lunch.)

    posted by Jeff | 1:22 PM |


    Friday, December 05, 2003  

    For three or four days now, the Portland Communique has been offline. Anyone know the story?

    (And my comments seem to be down this morning to. I don't know the story there.

    posted by Jeff | 11:21 AM |
     

    On a personal note--all politics being local--I'm fairly pleased with the Portland City Council's decision yesterday to send the MAX tracks up and down the bus mall.

    The city hopes to revamp the transit mall as part of a $500 million light-rail expansion that would carry tracks to Clackamas Town Center along the Interstate 205 right-of-way in East Portland. Trains would join the Banfield line at Gateway to come into Portland.

    I have some sweeping analysis about the brilliance of urban design this represents, right? No--I ride the 8 Bus, and it goes by Portland State University and gets absolutely buried with students who are competing with riders headed on up to OHSU. MAX ought to take a load off. So there: I can be as petty as anyone.

    posted by Jeff | 10:57 AM |
     

    Let's see, the money raised by politicians is continuing it's rocket-like trajectory. But Washington State is broke, so it's canceling the primaries.

    Washington's governor, Democrat Gary Locke, has summoned the Legislature back to Olympia to do just one thing -- to cancel the 2004 presidential primary, now scheduled for early March.

    Locke: "There's no need for a presidential party that neither party is going to use. We can save $7 million in the process by canceling the primary for this one time."

    They join Kansas, Colorado, Maine, New Mexico, and Utah. We're starting to look a whole lot like Italy these days.

    posted by Jeff | 10:48 AM |


    Wednesday, December 03, 2003  

    Rounding up the circular firing squad

    They're splintering badly on the right:

    Sixteen Republican legislators who voted this year for an $800 million tax increase should resign if voters reject the increase, Libertarian Party of Oregon officials declared Monday.

    If those Republicans don't resign, Libertarian candidates will run against them next year in an effort to pull fiscally conservative votes away and prevent the Republicans from winning, said Libertarian Chairman Tom Cox and other party officials....

    Most of the lawmakers voting for the tax increase [in the legislature this summer] were Democrats, but Cox said Republicans, as members of a party that supports fiscally conservative policies, are the ones who should know better than to vote for a tax increase.

    I hold strongly two contradictory views on the matter. The first, and most emotional, is: serves you right.

    Republicans have spent 15 years nurturing the anti-tax idiots, so it's amusingly ironic to see the idiots biting them in the ass now. In each session, the I-hate-taxes-more-than-you game escalated and escalated, such that when we fell billions short of paying our bills, rare was the Republican who would publicly regard this as a catastrophe. They kept nurturing that anti-government sentiment, finding it was an easy way to get elected in some parts of the state. Meanwhile, people were literally dying as a result of the cuts, and the costs associated with them have put us deeper in the hole. So when a few Republicans decide that Oregon is more important than feeding the idiots, they passed a reasonable stopgap. And the idiots, shockingly, were as retributive to them as they have been for 15 years to Dems.

    But, while I feel some grim glee at the development, I also see that it's a further metastacizing of the divisive cancer that's eating away at Oregon. I hope that Democrats remember what the 11 who voted for tax increases did so at their own peril and for the sake of Oregon. When elections (or possibly a special session--if the ballot measure to repeal those increases succeeds) roll around, moderate and progressive Republicans should stand tall with the 11; Dems should give their support. It may not be good for their elections, but it's good for Oregon.

    The anti-tax idiots are the problem--the Republican Party has just been lately susceptible to them.

    posted by Jeff | 11:34 AM |


    Tuesday, December 02, 2003  

    Despite the abject silence I've received on this tax issue, I am not dissauded from offering more. No sir! Today we have, at long last, some solutions for Oregon's budget--and I know you've been on the edge of your seats waiting for them. Well my dearies, wait no more! (And again, I'm stealing broadly from Citizens for Oregon's Future.)

    Keep in mind as you read these that a guide for a good tax base includes three elements: 1) Adequacy. Legislators and citizens have jointly decided on a group of expenditures the state needs to cover (schools, transportation, police, prisons, etc.)--revenue streams should be adequate to pay for them. 2) Stability. As we saw recently, depending too heavily on one revenue source (income tax) means that a state is vulnerable when that source drops (unemployment). Although the anti-taxers delighted that this meant the state "couldn't rob the taxpayers" anymore, it meant that decisions were controlled by emergency, not planning. No government should be run this way. 3) Progressivity. Taxes shouldn't unduly burden a group or sector.

    And so we herewith take a gander at some possible solutions. One imagines that any long-term plan will encorporate more than one of these.

    Increase Income Tax Rates

  • Increase the top tax rate from 9% to 9.5%. Revenue*: $470 million.

  • Increase rate to 10% for joint incomes above $100,000 Revenue: $250 million.

  • Increase rate to 10% for joint incomes above $50,000 Revenue: $678 million.

    Pros: Progressive. Deductible on federal taxes.
    Cons: Unstable


    Increase Property Tax Rates
  • Change limit for additional $1 per $1000 assessed on all property. Revenue: $448 million.

  • Change limit for additional $1 per $1000 assessed on all property. Revenue: $996 million.

  • Change limit for additional $2 per $1000 assessed on non-residential property. Revenue: $200 million.

  • Change limit for additional $2 per $1000 assessed on non-residential property. Revenue: $400 million.

    Pros: Stable. Deductible on federal taxes.
    Cons: Regressive


    Increase Corporate Income Taxes
  • Increase corporate tax rate from 6.6% to 9%. Revenue: $240 million.

  • Increase Corporate Minimum Tax from $10 to $500 Revenue: $69 million.

  • Create Alternative Minimu Tax (as NJ does: it would create higher minimums and an alternative tax based on gross receipts or sales) Revenue: $250 million.

    Pros: Oregon has the lowest business tax of the 11 Western states (didn't know that didja?--Donny Mac and his crowd aren't quick to point it out)
    Cons: Potential adverse effects on small business (an avoidable outcome if implemented properly)


    Reduce Tax Loopholes/Breaks
    Some of these are technical, and I'll admit I don't know what they would do.

  • Limit mortgage interest deduction to $15,000. Revenue: $70 million.

  • Cut three expenditures benifiting overseas businesses (three of them; email if you want the numbers). Revenue: $70 million.

  • Limit Property Tax deduction to $3,100. Revenue: $48 million.

  • Cut four tax expenditures benefiting insurance companies (four of them; email if you want the numbers). Revenue: $30 million.

  • Eliminate Pleasure Boat exclusion. Revenue: $26 million.

    Pros: Increases fairness. Deductible on federal taxes.
    Cons: Some of these cuts benefit low-income taxpayers.


    Increase Excise Taxes
  • Increase beer and wine taxes to 10 cents per glass. Revenue: $122 million.

  • Increase cigarette tax by 20 cents per pack. Revenue: $58 million.

    Pros: Punish the sinners! (I hate these.)
    Cons: You directly target two of the healthiest local industries--beer and wine producers--without taxing wholesalers or retailers. It's a puritanical attack on alcohol consumption that--ahem. It's a bad idea, let's leave it at that.


    Business Activity or Grooss Receipts Tax
    These are the taxes like Washington and Michigan have where gross receipts are taxed rather than net profits. It's an alternative to the sales tax.

  • Business and Occupation tax like Washigton's (.4% rate on average. Revenue: $2 billion.

  • Business activity tax (2.75%, small business exemption. Revenue: $3.5 billion.

    Pros: Broadens tax base and adds stability. Less regressive than sales tax.
    Cons: Murky process with unpredictable results.


    Sales Tax
  • 5% goods and service tax that includes food. Revenue: $6.9 billion.

  • 5% goods and service tax that excludes food. Revenue: $6.1 billion.

  • 3% goods and service tax that excludes food. Revenue: $3.7 billion.

    Pros: Stable, broad.
    Cons: Regressive, expensive to collect, not deductible on Federal taxes.


    So there you have it. Personally, my choices would be to increase income taxes on the wealthy, increase corporate taxes (at the very least, the minimum should be raised for fairness), reduce some loopholes, and consider sales tax only on selected luxury items--cars in the top 20% of sales price, boats, etc. I'd include a higher tax on gas, but it would be DOA. Thoughts?

    ______________________________
    *Estimated 2-year (biennial) revenue for '03-'05 biennium.

    posted by Jeff | 2:51 PM |
     

    Whether "We Love Dreamers" is good "branding" (it's not) isn't the right question. A better question is: how did Oregon become such a good brand once, and what can we do to make it a good again?

    I went on an impromptu trip over the weekend to Bainbridge Island, Washington. On the way back, I ruminated for a while on the coherence of Washington's identity. Despite Puget Sound, the San Juans, Mounts Rainier and Adams, and the Emerald City, "Washington" doesn't mean much to people. "Oregon," on the other hand, still does. To the extent that a person might have heard of the state, the impression they have is fairly integrated. Partly this is because Portland isn't a major city and doesn't overwhelm the state like Seattle does. But partly it's because Oregon has done things differently from other states, and its done them cohesively--Oregon did it, not Oregon Republicans or Oregon Democrats.

    For a state, "branding" is just window dressing. To the extent we have a product, it's tourism. My sense is that this branding idea isn't just about bringing people to the state, though. It's about bringing business and opportunities to the state. Lemme tell you, branding ain't gonna cut it. It's not what we say that ultimately makes the difference, it's what we do. We can talk dreamers all we want, but if we're the butt of jokes in "Doonesbury," we're still going to be a national laughingstock.

    The solutions aren't easy. Business leaders say the reason people won't relocate is because fees and taxes are too high for businesses. Community leaders say the reason is because we don't adequately fund our schools or take care of our vulnerable citizens. Without disagreeing with either proposition, I'd like to offer a third reason. Businesses don't want to come here because Oregon's a mess. To the rest of the country, we look like six-year-olds locked in a battle of he-hit-me-first. It little matters who actually hit first. As long as this state remains legislatively intractable, no one's going to come--the risks are too high. If for no other reason than PR, our leaders are going to have to start looking less like squabbling six year olds and more like the dreamers (read: visionaries) our ads say we are.

    Oregon was once the state of visionaries, and to some degree we remain visionary. We tackled land-use issues, urban planning, recycling. Even in the divided years our leaders managed to implement the Oregon Health Plan, and from the people we got the Death with Dignity and medical marijuana laws through. But now the greatest barrier is our divisiveness. The only solution at this point is for our leaders to grow up, quit squabbling, and start leading again. We love dreamers? How about: we love sober leadership?

    [I should mention, the B!x at the Communique has great coverage of the "dreamers" slogan and the big Leadership Summit. But you already knew that.]

    posted by Jeff | 9:02 AM |


    Monday, December 01, 2003  

    We Love Dreamers? In a moment, but first, the StatesmanJournal has an interview with Jefferson Smith, the guy who helped found the Oregon Bus Project. Nothing new if you know anything about the Bus Project, but a decent intro if you don't.

    posted by Jeff | 1:50 PM |
     

    The NY Times today has an elliptical rumination about Portland. Starting with Chuck Palahniuk and the tunnels under the city, it jukes sideways to policy:

    And in Portland the fringe may be unraveling rather quickly. The former mill town turned growth management problem has fallen on hard times. Since March 2001 the city has lost 50,000 jobs, giving it the highest unemployment rate among American cities, 8 percent, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics. Last year, voters of Multnomah County, which includes Portland, had to agree to a new temporary income tax for schools.

    The Times' analysis?

    The economic descent has caused something of an identity crisis. Increasingly, Portlanders are turning from their insular ways and embracing a more cosmopolitan vision.

    "People are more and more describing Portland as the largest European city in America," said Mr. Palahniuk, now aboveground at a Chinatown bar.

    Ah, don't get ahead of yourself there, Chuck. It's true that Portland's character is changing--but it has been for 100 years. The thing that the Times identifies here is the process that began at least 15 years ago, when Northwest Portland shifted from a flannel and Marlboro retirement district to Trendythird and Restaurant Row. In fact, I'd argue that Portland's identity is the same as ever--even if its topography isn't.

    People are attracted to cities for various reasons. The same reasons that Chuck and Gus Van Sant and Chel White (not to mention mayoral candidate Phil Busse) were attracted to Portland are the very reasons Portland will stay substantially the same: it's character is what draws people. I'm an immigrant, and like many, that makes me more invested in keeping it Portland-y. To Chuck I'd say go have a pint of BridgePort at Jake's and think about it some more. Portland's gonna be fine.

    (Oh, and more on the tax solutions tomorrow--I promise!)

    posted by Jeff | 11:25 AM |
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