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

Saturday, January 31, 2004  

I've got a great new way to save the state loads of money...

we spent 2002 and early 2003 (rightly) complaining that the Lege couldn't get it's act together and make the hard decisions we elected them to make--sending us Measure 28 as an admission of their failures to act.

Then, they spend the most time in the history of man's inhumanity to man this past summer (and "our" money, to boot) actually accomplishing the job that we elected them to do--and we reward them with taking their hard work and essentially telling them all that time, money, hard work and "hell" was just an exercise in futility. Instead, we have to vote on another tax yea/nay measure...

Even people that had been behind the Lege, like Jack decided that they aren't voting for Measure 30. The reasoning, for Jack, anyway (and I suppose, many like him--people that don't look at taxes like the "radical anti-taxers" do, but are still voting "no" seems to go something like this: "Our taxes have gone up quite a durn bit recently...and a) the fine folks of Multco are "ok" school-wise, b) the City of Portland doesn't spend wisely, anyway (although I sure thought this was a state tax deal, not a city tax deal), and c) maybe we really do need to make the foine people of the state of Oregon to understand what it's like to really feel the pain.

Of course, the people that will really feel the pain, and the people that are in the tough love business are separated by a pretty significant gap. Not that I don't see some of the points of that arguement. The problem is, though, like letting your child touch the hot stove in order to teach them to not touch a hot stove...or even worse, letting someone else's kids touch the hot stove to teach your kids not to touch a hot stove.

So, I have the perfect plan for fixing our lack of faith in the Lege, and clearing up quite a bit of that horrible government overhead that we have. We eliminate the Representative Legislature and declare ourselves a full democracy...We can give everyone text-messaging pagers or blackberry(tm) type devices, then just have government by referenda. Since we're all tied up in second-guessing our elected officials in the first place--damned if they don't, damned if they don't, let's just take them out of the loop. You'd get paged every time there was a referenda up for vote (created by various levels of petition signature or a special "bill committee" of selected folks...then you'd get a few days or a few weeks to vote with your appliance.

No re-election campaigns, no lobbists, no bitching about what you would do if you were in Salem...or that it's "your money, you should say how it's being spent."

posted by fred | 5:44 PM |

Thursday, January 22, 2004  

I've been lame enough in posting recently that I wouldn't be surprised if the few of you who visit the Oregon blog had stopped. Particularly given the news lately, you may wonder what gives. I'm going to make it official: I'll be on hiatus through the Democratic primaries. I've got a full plate at Notes, and I've started working on The American Street. Barring some major change of energy from Fred or Ignatius, I think activity here is going to cease for a couple months.

Jack Bogdanski and the Portland Communique should keep you well up to date on things, however. I realized just how lucky we are in Oregon when I tried to find some Iowa bloggers last week--they got nuthin.' With Jack and Bix, you're in good hands.

posted by Jeff | 11:42 AM |

Wednesday, January 21, 2004  

The Willy Week seems to have forgotten all about the Oregon Blog's pick for Mayor -- Phil Busse. In fact, they don't even bother mentioning Busse in this week's "Winners & Losers" column:

"Nobody won last week like city commissioner and mayoral hopeful Jim Francesconi, however. Two potentially strong candidates--state senator Kate Brown and developer Bob Ball--decided not to enter the race, and the campaign manager for Francesconi's main opponent--former police chief Tom Potter--resigned. Why even bother with the pesky election?"

Why bother?! Because we don't want your stinkin' Francesconi...we want Busse!

posted by iggi | 3:58 PM |

Tuesday, January 20, 2004  

A comment or two about Iowa. All politics are local, so this is--cough, hack, wheeze!--ah, excuse me. I think that was a little piece of crow I had stuck in my throat.

Yes, Jack Bogdanski predicted Howard Dean would go down in flames. Yes, in Iowa he has. He somehow thought Edwards had a shot, and somehow it appears he has. All I want to know is how? He was the only guy in America touting John Edwards two weeks ago. Let's give it up for the keen mind of Jack Bogdanski.

But I remain defiant--it was just one state. Dean will emerge!

posted by Jeff | 9:30 AM |

Monday, January 19, 2004  

I'm going to start writing letters to the editor. My debut was sent to the Oregonian today.

To the Editor,

David Reinhard regularly uses misleading data to score ideological points. While this may not be admirable, we do expect it in editorials. But in Sunday's article ("By all means, let's debate the Iraq war," 1/18), he resorted to lies. He began with an assertion that the economy is humming right along, claiming "growth is 8 percent." Actually, it was 8%, briefly, in the third quarter. Current growth is expected to be far slower, and annual growth isn't close to approaching that figure.

Worse, he spent the majority of the article rehashing Republican National Committee Chair Ed Gillespie's press release about Wesley Clark's position on the Iraq invasion. The quotes came from testimony Clark gave to the House Armed Services Committee in an 1,800 statement before the war. What neither Reinhard or Gillespie mentioned was that he was there to argue against an invasion; the pro-war position was argued by Richard Perle.

Reinhard's rehash follows the Gillespie script to the letter. Reinhard's account concludes with General Clark's statement that he supported a military option in US dealings with the UN. What Reinhard did not include was this sentence: "Such a resolution need not, at this point, authorize the use of force."

David Reinhard often pushes the limits of good faith in his commentary. On Sunday he crashed over them.

posted by Jeff | 1:53 PM |

Friday, January 16, 2004  

Incidentally, I should point out I'm going with my actual name these days. I mention this only to the degree that you might wonder where "Emma" had gone.

Info here and here should you wish it.

posted by Jeff | 3:14 PM |

Measure 30 facts

$800 million: the amount of the '03-'05 budget that's on the line.

$98: the annual tax increase for a couple filing jointly with an income of $60,000.

$384: per-pupil spending decrease if Measure 30 fails (a 10% cut).

$10: previous minimum corporate income tax.

$250: minimum tax on a business earning less than $20,000.

$5,000: minimum tax on a business earning more than $25 million.

$545 million: immediate cuts the failure of Measure 30 would trigger to schools, human services and public safety.
Source: Oregonian

posted by Jeff | 1:37 PM |

Well, no one seems to be talkin' Measure 30, so I'll continue.

First, an observation that eluded me until a day or two ago: the anti-taxers have really switched strategies. Recall that until after the failure of Measure 28 last year, the anti-taxers were playing an emotional, rhetorical card: them no good gub'mint scoundrels gots yer money; make 'em give it back. That was all well and good until catastrophe struck. Government was then understood to include judges and cops and school teachers--all of whom seemed vaguely important.

Measure 28 may have been the death knell of that kind of argument--at least in the short term. Now the anti-taxers have to play a little different game: taxpayers will make more good of their $98 than the state would (okay, that's not exactly how they're couching the language). It's a tough argument to make. I posted earlier this week on the subterfuge David Reinhard employed, massaging old data to make it look like the state was flush. (Subterfuge is definitely an intellectual step up for Reinhard, though, so I give him credit.)

This is how money launderer Kevin Mannix argued the point today:

"Higher taxes will hobble the state's efforts to climb out of the recession and businesses will leave the state to escape the tax increases, opponents say. They point out that not all the taxes are temporary. Most of the business tax changes are permanent, and so is the reduction in the discount for paying property taxes early."

It could be that when forced to argue actual facts, anti-taxers will be in more trouble.

posted by Jeff | 1:16 PM |

Wednesday, January 14, 2004  

Apropos of not much, an observation: the Willamette Week is going through a rough patch. With the Mercury on the hip side and the Trib on the local side, the WW is finding its niche compromised.

In terms of prose, I've noticed an increasing tendency towards Merc-speech. But what works for the Merc doesn't work for WW--it's just embarrassing. As a weekly, they have a hard time competing with the Trib on local issues. There are a few bright spots--David Walker is a strong voice for local film, cover stories are often wonderful journalism--but overall, it's a newspaper in search of an identity.

Not that they read blogs, or this blog, but here's some advice: you're the definitive source for leftist journalism--expand on that. This is one of the most liberal cities in the country, and even with the Trib, you can offer a lot of original content we won't find elsewhere. Lose the hispter attitude--everyone knows you're old and uncool, but so what. Did you ever get a look at Bernstein? Revamp the arts section in kind--Portland has the middlebrow Oregonian and punky 'zines. What it needs is arts coverage worthy of the art here--serious, informed, opinionated. Just a few thoughts.

Oh, and bring the beer column back!

posted by Jeff | 12:56 PM |

Tuesday, January 13, 2004  

Care to guess who this is?

[He] issued meeting guidelines, including: "No gossiping. No whining. No rambling discourses or philosophical discussions. We know we are hard core." Whether they are religious activists, home-schoolers or business advocates, participants find a place where they can joke about being "extremists" and "rabid right-wingers." Greg B., leader of the ... group, said it was a relief in his liberal state to assemble with like-minded conservatives: "I guess you could say I live in enemy-occupied territory."

Democrats used to anger him, [he] said. He's past angry now. "Do you get mad at cancer? We'll defeat and crush their institutions, and the trial lawyers will go sell pizza. We're not going to hang them. Most of the people on the left will be happy in [my] world. I feel about the left the way [Donald H.] Rumsfeld felt about the Iraqis."

No, it's not Kevin Mannix. It's Grover Norquist, but he sure is playing a familiar tune. It's exactly this kind of hatred that put Oregon in the place it is now. That story is from yesterday's Washington Post, and it's a pretty remarkable document. What's particularly clear is the unhinged attitude Norquist--and many on the right fringe, I'd argue--has towards his opposition. He's not interested in governance or the civic good, he simply wants (political) death and destruction.

When I hear the plans for retribution against Oregon Republicans who voted for last year's revenue hike, the music sounds the same. I wonder, do righties actually admire this view?

posted by Jeff | 4:00 PM |

Dick's in town. He's making like a pelican--swoop, scoop, and fly away:

Vice President Dick Cheney will make a quick fund-raising trip to Portland today that will be long on money for the Oregon Republican Party and relatively short on traffic tie-ups.

Oregon Republican officials said the event -- which carries a $1,000 admission charge, or $10,000 for those who want to have their picture taken with the vice president -- will attract at least 75 attendees.

He'll be at the airport Embassy Suites at 6 pm, should you wish to go and express your displeasure.

posted by Jeff | 9:36 AM |

Monday, January 12, 2004  

The Measure 30 battle is on the horizon. This will be the first major test of the political waters in 2004. It'll also either gut spending (again) or keep the band-aid in place. As the election heats up, there seem to be two threads. On the "Pro" side (those are the folks who are for Measure 30 and for keeping funding), proponents are highlighting what we'll lose. These are fairly unchallenged facts--the "anti" side (those who are against Measure 30 and against the current bipartisan funding increase) doesn't seem to want to get in that battle again.

(Recall that they looked at draconian cuts last year and firmly asserted the sky wouldn't fall. It did. All the predicted cuts came, and a number came that weren't predicted.)

So the "Anti" side has adopted a different tack: sure, the cuts will happen, but it's all bad, nasty government, and this is finally our opportunity to "starve the beast." Reinhard spends most of his column inches today raking over the stats of Oregon's fat education funds--18th in the nation! Of course, he cites 1998 stats, back during the height of Oregon's wealth and long before the Doonesbury cuts. He then cites other stats about Oregon's gold-plated government services--according to his figures, the state is the 6th to 17th highest roller on a number of services--but astutely fails to mention where the numbers came from or when.

So on the one hand, your usual fair and balanced spin, and on the other, cold, hard facts. Not, of course, that it will matter much come election day. Spin is always better funded.

posted by Jeff | 4:00 PM |

Thursday, January 08, 2004  

And now some politics. We had some bad news this week when Lane Shetterly announced he wouldn't run for re-election. I can't blame the guy, but the legislature will lose one of the few moderate Republicans it had. He was one of the eight who joined with Democrats to pass last year's spending increase.

His reason is a sad one: money. Or rather, that being a legislator at $15k a year, doesn't pay the bills.

"To the extent that serving in the Legislature is almost an avocation . . . it would be great to make that a living but you can't do it, not here in Oregon," Shetterly, 48, said in an interview Tuesday. "I wish I could stay."

There are a few things structurally wrong with Oregon politics, and this is one of them: we pay our legislators nothing, so the result is exactly the opposite of what early Oregonians intended. Back then, they wanted to encourage "citizen legislators," so they met once every two years and save the money on salaries to pay for other state services.

But now what we have is the opposite: only citizens who are independently wealthy can run for office. Sometimes you get what you pay for, too. Penciling out the salaries, I think it runs to about $1.3 mil for all the legislators. That's on a five billion dollar budget. Imagine trying to run a $5 billion business and paying out less than a half a percent in payroll.

It's time we quit living as though it were the 19th century and recognize that Oregon has serious, enormously complex issues to confront. We shouldn't be asking part-time citizens to make laws. We need professionals.

posted by Jeff | 4:00 PM |

Second, a little about bidnez--the beer biz. I noticed in my weekly perusals of the beer section that Deschutes has changed their packaging. All things being equal, that's a pretty good decision. They're the big Oregong brewery to update the look (Full Sail, Portland--err, MacTarnahan's--and Widmer have been through a few iterations each), and perhaps the one most in need of an update all along. If there is a downside, it's that the one cool label they had is now bound for the junk pile. So go get your Obsidian Stout tees now--they'll be gone before you know it.

The other thing I wanted to mention was that Fish Brewing has a spectacular winter ale out called Winterfish. I expect it's not long for the stores, either, so get ye to the store, matey! (It's akin to an IPA on steroids.)

posted by Jeff | 3:35 PM |

A little bidnez first:

Join Phil Busse and supporters at his Campaign Kick-Off Extravaganza, Friday night, 8 p.m., at Holocene.

* Learn! about his plans for the "creative class" and his ideas about jumpstarting Portland's economy.

* Read! his platform and give Phil a piece of your mind.

* Hear! DJs Hot Air Balloon and No Baby Mom, and the band Reclinerland.

* Find out! how to get Phil to bake and hand-deliver a pie to you and yours! (Note: He is proficient in Apple, Pumpkin, and his own World Famous Peach Cream Pie.)

The event is at Holocene, SE 12th & Morrison, at 8 p.m. this Friday night, January 9th. The suggested donation is $10, but we're not about to turn anyone away. It's an extravaganza!

As you may recall, the Oregon Blog was the first media outlet (ahem) to endorse the Busse campaign. If you think he's just horsing around, go to the kick-off and listen to his ideas. My suspicion is that you'll leave impressed. Given the other choices, it's time to consider thinking outside the box on Portland's future.

- End of Public Service Announcement -

posted by Jeff | 3:15 PM |

Tuesday, January 06, 2004  

So this weather has obviously interfered with my blogging. Not because there's a power or computer-related issue, but because I've been taking the opportunity to screw around. It's been years since we've had measurable accumulation, and I'm taking full advantage. Nothing pleases me more than hearing a blast of wind and clatter of ice and snow on the window.

An event of this size naturally arouses a few thoughts. Here are mine.

1. The city isn't as wimpy as it seems. Sure, they call the whole thing off at the first snowflake, but there are some reasons. I came to Oregon via Idaho and (unfortunately) Utah, went to Wisconsin for 3 years and returned in '95. As such, I have a fair amount of experience with snow. You know what happens in snow cities? Hundreds of trucks go out and plow the roads and sand (or salt) the streets. Portland is making a fiscally-sound decision to keep a small fleet of these trucks and just hunker down during rare snowstorms. People (who don't know how to drive in snow and ice) are wise when they do the same.

2. The histrionics snow sends local news into is obscene. If it's snowing outside, here's the news: it's snowing outside; stay home. Now, get me back to Perry Mason!

3. SUVs are the worst thing to hit Portland since the Fun Center. It gives foolish people who don't know how to drive in the snow the confidence to think it doesn't matter. Worse, SUVs aren't particularly adept on ice, so people are actually worse off than if they just stuck to the Carolla.

4. Bikers rock. I must have seen 10 bikers since the snows started flying. That's seriously cool. Ever ridden a bike in the snow? It's even harder than an SUV.

5. Our house looks great in the snow. It's barn red and white. I'll try to get a picture up eventually.

posted by Jeff | 6:12 PM |

Saturday, January 03, 2004  

I finally got on the Republican email list--and it has immediately paid dividends. It's a nice window into strategy and thinking in the GOP, but it also shows how different the language is. Coming into '04, Democrats need to take some notes. From today's mailbag, Brian Boquist writes from Iraq to rally the (political) troops at home.

On the political side, rumors abound on the 5th Congressional District reference Darlene Hooley. Logically, it seems she will file in March 2004 for re-election. Peggy and I have several things to consider, if I’m still on active military service in Iraq, it may be inappropriate to run for Congress, and there is the issue of whether Darlene Hooley actually files. Should she file, which I personally believe she will, we need to look at the previous two campaigns. While we have garnered support it has not been enough to defeat her. We will decide this on filing day. There are two very good candidates, Jackie Winters and Jim Zupancic, running in the GOP primary.

Everyone already knows my opinion of the primaries of the 5th Congressional District. It is critical there not be a fracture in the Republican base. For that reason, I encourage everyone to support the candidate of your choice in the primary, then close ranks in the General Election. I have already filed but we will assess the situation in March 2004. It is well known we did not garner national support in 2002 and 2004. Unless it is an open seat, nobody may garner support in 2004 in the 5th Congressional but we shall see.

During this holiday season, I would ask that you to take a few minutes to remember the soldiers in harms way, the families of those who have died, and pray for the recovery of the thousands who have been wounded. If you can reach out to soldier’s family in your local community, please make it a point to send them your regards.

There's a lesson here for the Dems. This is a powerful email.

posted by Jeff | 9:33 AM |

Friday, January 02, 2004  

Last year Jack Bog ran a "Top Ten Nitwits" of the year, a practice he's decided to eschew this year. So I'll leap lamely into that gaping void (with apologies--I probably won't do it justice, and certainly won't select the same ten Jack would).

10. Ted Ferrioli, for declaring war on Portland when the city started discussing raising its own taxes to pay for schools.

9. Michael Mooney, Lewis and Clark Prez, for riding $10 mil of college funds on a harebrained oil-recycling company without telling anyone.

8. Bob Whitsitt, because we won't have him to kick around anymore. (I feel a sense of loss akin to when Ari Fleischer stepped down.)

7. Damon Stoudamire, representing the beleaguered Blazers, for trying to carry a tinfoil-wrapped package of ganga onto an airplane. So, so many things wrong with this plan...

6. David Reinhard, for playing the race card every chance he got. Among his misdeeds--coming after Kendra James' supporters and condemning Maher Hawash to guilt on the basis of his "Islamic beard" (or was it Muslim?).

5. Bill Sizemore, for "extensive wrongdoing" in the way he ran his initiative cartel.

4. Lon Mabon, for extensive wrongdoing in the way he ran his initiative cartel.

3. Neil Goldschmidt, for deceiving the public. He came out publicly against a voter-sponsored effort to turn PGE into a PUD. Once the measure failed, a new ownership team came forward to buy the energy company--with Goldschmidt asa key member.

2. Karen Minnis, for gross mismanagement. The 2003 legislative session was known for being the longest ever, but it should be remembered for incompetent leadership. Karen Minnis undermined dialogue by trying to freeze out Democrats and by (apparently) welshing on deals made privately. Worse, after failing to offer substantive solutions to Oregon's budget problems, she signed off on a bipartisan tax hike, only to immediately announce she planned to sabotage it with a ballot measure.

1. Don McIntire, who qualifies as more than a nitwit for his comment after the failure of Measure 28 last February: "We've had months and months of talk of calamity if Measure 28 failed. Now I want to see the calamity." He got to see it all right, but obscenely refused to recognize it.

Who'd I miss?

[Update: Oh, I know who I missed: Kevin Mannix. He got off on money laundering because it turns out money laundering isn't illegal in Oregon! And then he introduced his own budget for how to pay for cuts if the legislature's tax hike is repealed--most of which included bogus savings. Call him 2b.]

posted by Jeff | 10:26 AM |