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Oregon Town Hall: Pot In 2015

What will be the social and health consequences of pot on children?  The new law bans smoking pot in public places - will it be enforced?    

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Sign petition to stop Keystone XL Pipeline

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Trust in government is 'dead, Jim'

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“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”

FDR, 2nd Inaugural Address, Jan 20, 1937

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A Just Peace

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SIP contract online

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Oreaviationwatch

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Middle East friendship chart

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Corporations enriching shareholders

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- Intel tax abatements

- INTEL, come clean!

- Leashing INTEL  

- Free to Be Hungry

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Facts not fiction on universal gun background checks

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"Injustice anywhere is injustice everywhere"

Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963

Martin Luther King, Jr.


The GOP - Not One of US.

Wall Street, our new criminal class...       

   Business in the USA is sitting on $2 trillion dollars refusing to invest their own funds in expanding and hiring workers.  

   When one adds to this the reserves that banks, equity firms and hedge funds have - the picture is clear - "capitalism in the USA is on strike." 

   The engine of our economy - the spirit of entrepreneurship is not in evidence today.  So much for business being dynamic and risk taking. 

   They hire K- Street lobbyists and their ilk at the state level because they are averse to risk taking - pleading for tax breaks, tax credits and endless loopholes. 

   The "business of business" in America today is not about job creation, it's about wealth hoarding and redistribution from the middle class to the top 1%. 

   So for those who claim government doesn't create jobs, my response is that business doesn't either until given "corporate welfare" by government.  The fact is that the private and public sector are highly integrated, something the anti-tax, anti-government Tea Party types don't understand. 

   Job creation requires public/private partnerships but the benefits of such collaboration should go to the 99% not just the 1%.  

 

RAD'S

WEBSITE PICKS: 


 

  • An Independent View

Oregon Outpost

  • A Middle East View      

Rami G. Khouri

  • RealClearPolitics:

Realclearpolitics

  • Jim Hightower:   

Jimhightower.com

  • Robert Reich:

Robert Reich

  • Thomas Friedman: 

Friedman Column

  • Nicholas Kristof: 

Kristof Column


Oregon's Motto: 

She flies with her own wings! 



Hard Times in Oregon: 

Hardtimes

The Oregon story - the rich get richer, the poor and middle class lose ground.  Check this front page Oregonian article out. 

Oregon wage gap widens

Homelessness in Oregon - a call to action

Chuck Currie The crisis of homelessness


  

      Oregon's coming 34th out of 41 states in the Obama "Race to the Top" illustrates the failure of leadership from Governor Kitzhaber and his predecessors as they have built an educational bridge to nowhere called high stakes testing.

   Instead of being in a race to the top we seem to be dumpster diving to the bottom despite doing education reform since 1991.  Insanity is termed doing the same thing over and over again.  When can we put a fork in this stupidity? 

   To confuse matters more the Oregonian's editorial board has pontificated that this was a lost opportunity to get federal funding for innovation.  How firing principals and teachers equals innovation is a mystery to me.   

   The way to reform schools is to reduce class sizes, to encourage teacher collaboration and to support their continued education.  High stakes testing and performance based assessment of teachers are NOT the answer!    

   If you want students to succeed you first have to resolve the issues they confront before they come to school.  Children who face poverty, hunger, homelessness, health care issues and family instability require wrap around services for them and their families, 24/7.   

   Every child needs a safe home of their own and parents who know how to be good parents.   

There is only one way to address this impending crisis.  Schools must have a stable source of funding. Until that happens - we will limp from crisis to crisis.   

 

 

    

    Why does the richest nation in the world have the moral blight of homeless people?

Invisible People

http://www.npr.org


 Homelessness

    Connecting the dots between homelessness, hunger & health care disparities in Oregon and Washington County: 

Homelessness:  

•    The faces of the homeless are families with children, single men and women, vets, and many who are impaired. It is estimated that in Washington County up to 56% of homelessness occurs to families.

Hunger:

•    Hunger is highest among single mother households (10%) and poor families (15%) as well as renters, unemployed workers and minority households. 

Heath Care Disparities: 

•    Adults in Oregon without insurance represent 22.3% of the state’s population compared to 19.7% of the nation.  In Washington County approximately 


A RAD rhetorical question - Were Madison & Marx "Marxists"?  

 

"History records that the money changers have used every form of abuse, intrigue, deceit, and violent means possible to maintain their control over governments."   

- James Madison

 

"Philosophers have only interpreted the world in different ways. The point is, however, to change it. 

- Karl Marx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RAD Lines

Obamacare another good week

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 Explore Intel emissions

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#1445: Tommy, Riposa in Pace

requiescat in pace

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"There are men who believe that democracy... is limited or measured by a kind of mystical and artificial fate [and that] tyranny and slavery have become the surging wave of the future..." 

FDR, 3rd Inaugural Address, Jan 20, 1941

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Obamacare is working in Oregon!

Oregon's uninsurance rate cut more than half following federal health reforms

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Mourning for a Judaism Being Murdered by Israel

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Taking on the Pro-Israel Lobby 

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Sign the petition ►

Walgreens - pay your fair share of taxes!

"Let me issue and control a nation's money and I care not who writes the laws." - Mayer Amschel Rothschild

Miguel de Cervantes, from The Duke - "I accuse you of being an idealist, a bad poet and an honest man."  Cervantes' response - "Guilty as charged, I have never had the courage to believe in nothing."   from Man of La Mancha  

Intel failed to report fluoride emissions for almost 30 years   

     Why do Intel employees who are house hunting in Hillsboro, Aloha or Beaverton refer to an area within a 5 mile radius of Intel plants as "the dead zone?"  

      Do they know something we don't?  QuestionIntel.com  We couldn't trust banks "too big to fail," so why should we trust Intel?

Professor Kingfield, from the Paper Chase

   "I'm not a teacher: only a fellow traveler of whom you asked the way. I pointed ahead – ahead of myself as well as you." 

- George Bernard Shaw

 

BLOGS:

From the Left Wing:

Paul Krugman

Paul Krugman - The New York Times

Democracy Now
democracynow.org

The Daily Kos

dailykos.com

Blue Oregon

blueoregon.com

 

"Children are made readers on the laps of their parents." 

- Emilie Buchwald 

 


    "Although we may never know with complete certainty the identity of the winner of this year’s Presidential election, the identity of the loser is perfectly clear. It is the Nation’s confidence in the judge as an impartial guardian of the rule of law." 

- Justice John Paul Stevens, Bush v. Gore, 2001


    The state of our union - check out the map, it's a reality check for those who can't figure out why people are so ticked off... 

americanobserver

    Here's Garrison Keillor's rap on the rightwingnuts:   

GarrisonKeillor

 

     Garrison Keillor - "...The Founding Fathers intended the Senate to be a fount of wisdom... but when you consider...  moon-faced Mitch McConnell, your faith in democracy is challenged severely. Any legislative body in which 41 senators from rural states that together represent 10 percent of the population can filibuster you to death is going to be flat-footed, on the verge of paralysis, no matter what. Any time 10 percent of the people can stop 90 percent, it's like driving a bus with a brake pedal for each passenger. That's why Congress has a public approval rating of [11] percent...." 


"Great is the guilt of an unnecessary war"

- John Adams

 

"Loyalty to country always.  Loyalty to government when it deserves it."  

- Mark Twain  

 

“Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”  

- George Santayana 

 

"The love of one's country is a natural thing.  But why should love stop at the border?" 

- Pablo Casals

 

"Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, the blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned; the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity." 

- William Butler Yeats  

 

"You see things; and you say, 'Why?'

But I dream things that never were; and I say, "Why not?" 

- George Bernard Shaw, "Back to Methuselah" (1921)

 

"...the most common and durable source of factions has been the various and unequal distribution of property. Those who hold and those who are without property have ever formed distinct interests in society...  The regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the principal task of modern legislation, and involves the spirit of party and faction in the necessary and ordinary operations of the government..."

- James Madison, Federalist Papers #11


"Why … should we have government? Why not each individual take to himself the whole fruit of his labor, without having any of it taxed away?”  

The legitimate object of government, is to do for the people whatever they need to have done, but which they can not do, at all, or can not do, so well, for themselves – in their separate and individual capacities … There are many such things … roads, bridges and the like; providing for the helpless young and afflicted; common schools … the criminal and civil [justice] departments."

- Abraham Lincoln

 

Taxes are the price we pay for a civilized society

- Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

 

"Parliament is not a congress of ambassadors from different and hostile interests, which interests each must maintain, as an agent and advocate, against other agents and advocates, but Parliament is a deliberative assembly of one nation, with one interest, that of the whole..."

- Edmund Burke 

 

“It is a maxim among these lawyers that whatever hath been done before may legally be done again, and therefore they take special care to record all the decisions formerly made against common justice and the general reason of mankind.  These, under the name of precedents, they produce as authorities, to justify the most iniquitous opinions.”

- Jonathan Swift

 

" Every satirist who drew breath has flung pots of ink at this parade of tooting lummoxes and here it is come round again, marching down Main Street, rallying to the cause of William McKinley, hail, hail, the gang’s all here, ta-ra-ra-boom-de-ay."

- Garrison Keillor


 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 


 

 

  

 


  

 

Tuesday
Jan272015

WE ARE ALL BECOMING "THE OTHER" OREGON

The Rest of the Story of Oregon’s Economy
The Sockeye

      To inform an effective poverty reduction plan, we need to have a better understanding of the underlying causes that result in so many families struggling financially. It helps to put these in the context of general economic trends in Oregon and the United States. Oregon’s economy is a story of opposites.

     Gross state product grew three times faster than the U.S. economy between 2001 and 2012, but unemployment rates exceed the national average. Though some metro areas are seeing promising growth in high wage jobs, most of the new jobs elsewhere in the state pay only low wages, or are part-time only.

     Corporate profits soar and the rich are getting richer, but most families saw their real incomes drop over the past decade. Over 1 million Oregonians received food stamps in 2013 and over half the students in Oregon public schools are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.

     When over 1 million Oregonians receive food stamps and over 50% of Oregon public school kids are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch this explains why Oregon has the lowest high school graduation rate in the USA.  If a child is hungry when they go to school they can't do their best and schools become day care centers for feeding first, learning later - if at all.  And when learning means navigating high stakes tests, we know a fraud is being perpetrated.  

Sunday
Jan252015

RAD PUNDIT TAKES A REST TO BE "TRAINMAN"  

     The model train show came to Portland this weekend.  So I spent all day Saturday at the Expo Center checking out the model train goodies.  It's an annual affair in Portland in late January most years.  A nice respite from rain and more rain, although it was a balmy high 60s and sunny.  Also a chance to get away from politics.  And today I spent the day trying to get a new transformer and Showcaseline's Burlington diesel SW-1 switcher to work. 

      It took most of the day to figure out the wiring - no directions came with the 3rd party deal - such is the risk but alas after about 5 hours of trial and error - I figured it out.  Hurray for me...   So this time of the year when I'm not blogging or going to political meetings I'm in my train room managing my RR empire.  This will end soon once the legislature resumes and golf season kicks into gear so late fall to February is prime time of the trainman...   

     So if I've not answered your e-mail - tough!  I'm busy!  Toot Toot...   

 

Thursday
Jan222015

HOW TO SOLVE THE INCOME INEQUALITY GAP...  

     Why upping the minimum wage makes economic common sense. 

     Some argue that the market determines wages, really?  In China, Vietnam, the Philippines?  The plantation system in the south no doubt depressed wages in the north.  But how can this be considered a "free market" - half slave/half free labor? 

     How ever your dress it up - the exploitation of labor is not a market driven exercise but one of capital "fixing" wages at the lowest level possible.  Ask Phil Knight at NIKE how it's done!   

     The other dirty little secret of capitalism - never play with your own money - play with the House's money from investors - banks, equity and hedge funds.  Just like the high rollers in Vegas.   It's called "equity" capitalism. 

Ten Reasons Workers Should Be Paid More
Newsweek
     
Economists have long argued that increases in worker pay can lead to improvements in productivity—indeed, that it can actually be profitable to pay workers higher wages. As Alfred Marshall, the father of modern economics, argued almost 125 years ago, “any change in the distribution of wealth which gives more to the wage receivers and less to the capitalists is likely, other things being equal, to hasten the increase of material production.”

State Legislator abuses legislative process:  

     "An analysis by Oregon's nonpartisan Legislative Revenue Office suggests that moving the minimum wage to $15/hour may have a downside.  The report, requested by Rep. Julie Parrish, R-West Linn, illustrates the challenge of reconciling an increase in the minimum wage with government assistance programs. It shows that raising wages — without other changes — would offer little help or even hurt low-wage workers." Oregonian

     Legislators often ask legislative staff to write reports on proposed legislation but the early release of this assessment by Rep. Parrish suggests to me her goal is partisan not substantive.  Yes, simply raising the minimum wage alone would not do the job - it must be connected as I've said in previous blogs with child care and worker retraining assistance both paid for by corporate Oregon not the taxpayer.

      Parrish releasing this analysis is abusing the legislative process by exploiting non-partisan staff for political reasons.  Shame on her and the UnOregonian for enabling her!     

      On this issue - if one is eligible for food stamps and other public assistance those subsidies should remain.  So any minimum wage change must make sure no unintended harm doesn't happen.  But that's not Parrish's agenda.  As one of the most conservative Republicans in the Puzzle Palace - her release of this report clearly stamps the effort to make any discussion of upping the minimum wage DOA.  

ocpp

January 24, 2014 Gray
$15 Minimum Wage Means Real Gains for Workers  

     Friday's front page of The Oregonian contained a gross misrepresentation of the impact of raising the state minimum wage. 

     The reality is that if the legislature raises the minimum wage to $15 an hour, over half a million Oregon workers will see bigger paychecks -- extra money that will help their families get ahead.

Wednesday
Jan212015

BARACK OBAMA - THE STATE OF THE UNION

"The shadow of crisis has passed, and the State of the Union is strong."   

Watch the President's State of the Union address here.

     For the first time in his presidency Barack Obama is not dealing with the legacy of failed economic and foreign policies he inherited from his predecessor.  He had two years to steer a course unfettered by crisis management but to chart a path to the future.  Sadly, the GOP is still focused on making his a failed presidency which will only reinforce their image as a do nothing party not a governing majority.  With a veto pen in hand Barack will be also to stop the opposition in its tracks which will give them nothing but negatives to head into the 2016 election. 

     In the meantime Barack can use the bully pulpit to rally the American people to rededicate themselves to reclaiming the American Dream for all Americans not merely for the 1% while the GOP wallows in the entrails of the 2014 election which brought them to power with support of a mere 15% of the American voters given the lowest voter turnout since 1942 when many Americans were abroad dodging bullets in Europe, Northern Africa or the South Pacific.  There is no GOP mandate but Barack is about the job of crafting one to pass on to his Democratic successor in 2016.

     Politics is a marathon not a sprint.  Victory goes to the long distance runner! 

Monday
Jan192015

IS THE AMERICAN DREAM POSSIBLE?  

"But let justice roll down as waters, and righteousness as a mighty stream."   Amos 5:24 Hebrew Scriptures

A CALL TO ACTION – A Home of Their Own

To:  Members of Washington County Homeless Plan Advisory Committee (HPAC)

Factoids:

     Last Thursday we heard two presentations on the challenges before us regarding providing residents of Washington County and the wider metro area with a safe place to live and to raise future citizens of our region. 

     On MLK Day 2015 is the American Dream a Hope or Hoax?  

  • 40,270 shortage of affordable low income housing units in the metro area;

  • $14.88/hr is the region’s housing wage for a one-bedroom apartment;

  • 6400 K-12 metro area students each year are homeless;

  • 5402 people are homeless on any night – including youths and families; 

  • 46% of metro area residents pay more than 30% on housing where the median monthly rent is $960; 

  • Before the Great Recession 50% of those facing foreclosure was due to a major medical illness; 

  • Too many Oregonians are a job loss away from being homeless'

     The presentations we heard were echoed by the opening article on homelessness of a series begun in Sunday’s Oregonian

     “…In the 1980s and ’90s, under both Republican and Democratic presidents, the federal government got out of the business of building public housing and pushed direct responsibility for caring for poor and vulnerable people to state, county and city governments…” 

     Many communities across the nation have stepped up to the challenge of ending homelessness embracing a “housing first model.”  But as the article details the problem has gotten worse not better despite our best efforts.  Why? 

    With the federal government getting out of building public housing we don’t have the capacity building of the post WW II era.  And facing a tight housing market, we are losing the race from the inner city to the suburbs.  

     In an era when equity and hedge funds require a 20% return on investment and banks 4-7% this become an obstacle towards building affordable housing for those earning under 50% of MFI. 

     Whether one is a vet, disabled, farm worker, elderly, victim of domestic abuse, family in poverty, homeless youth, mentally ill, addict, or former felon housing supply doesn’t match the need and never will unless we change plans.  

     Upon reflection the question before us is not just the need for affordable housing but the crisis before us of a bleak future where the most vulnerable will be mired in poverty if we don’t act now with resoluteness

     It’s not the present that is at stake it’s our future. 

     The evidence is clear.  Despite 6 years of hard work we are at risk of losing our goal of ending homelessness in the richest county in Oregon and the engine of Oregon’s economic growth.

  •      The Vision Action Network’s cost study of homelessness presented by Karin Kelly-Torregroza has pointed to the unseen but real indirect costs of homelessness to taxpayers and the business community.    

  •      The presentation by Jennie Proctor from Community Development illustrated the challenges we face in meeting the needs of the homeless and the working poor who spend more than 30% of their monthly income on housing.  

  •      Jes Larson from Welcome Home gave us models drawn from successful programs around the county that we can draw from to meet the challenge before us.  We don’t have to reinvent the wheel.

     What is needed is support from the political leadership of Washington County, especially the Board of Commissioners and the business community who make Washington County their operations base.     

     The challenge before us was compellingly outlined, the question is do we have the “will” to “just do it” as our friends at NIKE would put it?  Who will provide the clarion call to meet this challenge?    

     The enemy of change is to keep doing the same thing over and over again. That strategy has primarily relied on accessing mostly federal and some state funds to do the job.  As was made clear we can no longer rely on that formula. 

     Given the politics of sequestration and partisan gridlock in DC and Oregon’s reliance on a shaky income tax revenue source, if we are going to tackle this problem we must supplement those monies with local funding sources.  

     We can’t rely on a single revenue stream but must rely on a multiple funding strategy: 

  • Washington County has the only real estate transfer tax in Oregon. Right now monies from that tax go into general administration.  I think it’s long time due that we increased the County RETT and dedicate that extra increment to supporting affordable housing.  Adding that portion to the Community Housing Fund would be a place to start;

  • We need to end regulatory barriers which discourage for profit developers from entering into this market – targeting those making less than 50% of MFI and lower.  This will not be an easy sell but it’s part of the solution to enlisting the help of the development and banking community. 

  • We need to develop a public levy for affordable housing to take to the voters of Washington County and eventually the metro area.  But we can’t wait for our sister counties and/or Metro.  The need to too urgent now.  We have identified more than a 19,000 gap in affordable housing in the county.  It will only get worse.

  • We currently have 70 Section 8 vouchers that are going unused because landlords will not rent to low-income residents;

  • We have a lack of capacity due to a very tight market caused by high land, development costs and regulatory fees. 

  • Establishing a low-income housing set aside policy would also help integrate lower income renters and owners in new developments.  This will be a big ask of the development community but if we don’t move in this direction we will add to the suburbanization of poverty and the ghettoization of the working poor in the suburbs. 

     We currently have 70 Section 8 vouchers that are going unused because landlords will not rent to low-income residents;

     We have a lack of capacity due to a very tight market caused by high land, development costs and regulatory fees. 

     HPAC needs to be proactive in presenting the case for a Washington County strategy to tackle this problem. 

     The time for waiting on the federal or state government to solve our problem is over.  We can’t sacrifice another generation on the altar of wait and see, piece-meal or incremental approaches. 

      But we also can’t let the federal or state government off the hook either. 

     Over 90% of our affordable housing dollars are federal pass through monies from federal HOME and CDBG funds. We need to join coalitions like Welcome Home to keep the pressure on our DC delegation and on our state government. 

      In the 2015 legislative session we need to support ending the statewide exemption on inclusionary zoning.  We need to add to the governor’s request for a $100 million for housing. That wouldn’t even put a dent in the 19,000 gap in Washington County let alone the state. 

     We also need to support state tax credits for affordable housing to leverage public and private housing dollars.  We also need to up the minimum wage to $15/hour so that families can afford housing without playing triage with their family budgets.   

     But 30 years of advocacy has taught me the lesson that we can’t put all our eggs in one basket.  

     Of course the devil is in the details.  Here’s where our conversation within HPAC must start.  We were asked what are we willing to do as individuals – my question is what are we willing to do as a group with others of good will?  It won’t be easy change never is.   

     I think HPAC should focus on bringing all stakeholders together in Washington County. 

     At the end of the day as a good friend at IFCH has said “if not us, who?”  That’s the question before us.  It’s time to stop talking and waiting for the Hail Mary pass, it’s time to organize not agonize.  HPAC can’t stand pat on past accomplishments – we must move forward, now!  

     It’s our serve…