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"Give me your tired, your poor

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore

Send these, the homeless, tempest-toss'd to me

I lift my lamp beside the Golden Door."

Hundreds of Oregon Corporations Escape the Minimum Tax

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Half of the US Is Broke

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The myth of the Christian country

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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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Middle East friendship chart

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Corporations enriching shareholders

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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: 


 

  • 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 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. 

     In Washington County, Oregon's "economic engine," the divide between the affluent and the working poor continues.  We have a 19,000 unit gap in affordable low income rental housing.  County political and business leaders are indifferent to this crisis...   


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

RAD Lines

See my FACEBOOK @ Russ

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  • He lost by 2.9 million votes...

  • He's a con artist...

  • He's a pathological liar... 

  • He's a failed business man...

  • He's a fascist... 

 

Trump & The Mob

http-//www.politico.com#13C5A6C


Trump's role models are Vladmir Putin and Benito Mussolini.  He has contempt for our checks and balances system.  He wants to "rule" not govern like a strong man, a despot.  He will shredd the Constitution anytime he feels the urge to do so and like all despots he only listens to his inner circle.  And he is paranoid and narcissistic. 

     

Hundreds of Oregon Corporations Escape the Minimum Tax

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Half of the US Is Broke

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The myth of the Christian country

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Housing Needs in Oregon 

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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, 1940

  • "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  


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

 



"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 

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


 


 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 


 

 

  

 


  

 

« OBAMACARE IS STILL THE LAW OF THE LAND... | Main | »
Sunday
Mar112018

BUSINESS OREGON, ANOTHER KITZHABER SCAM...  

After the fact, Oregon regulators called foul on Ecotrust’s plan to accept millions in taxpayer subsidies spend $5 million of that money to acquire the mill from the owners and in essence give it right back

EDITOR'S NOTE:  The article below appeared in the UnOregonian on Sunday. It follows the trail of a state investment in a logging mill gone bust.  It's another dubious legacy of the Kitzhaber era.  It repeats an all too frequent saga of bad investments by Business Oregon, the state's economic develpment agency.  But beneath the obvious - it's a saga about how Oregon's once robust timber industry has dried up and withered on the vine, so to speak.  

Thanks to the clout of the environmental lobby beginning with the Clinton administration and federal law suits used to close down timber harvests to protect old growth forests, spotted owls and other species on public lands in Oregon - the timber industry has, like it's steel mill brethren in the heart land, seen its role in the economy diminished and with that the hollowing out of thousands of family wage jobs especially in "the Other" Oregon.  My hometown once boasted of being the timber capital of the USA - no more.   

I'm not yearning to return to the "good old days" of jipper loggers, clear cuts and ravaging the land for profit. But the pendulum has swung too far from pro-growth to anti-growth.  And when I drive west from Portland to my home community of Forest Grove - the scaring from clear cuts is still there but not on federal lands but on private lands. We've privatized not moderated industrial timber harvests.  What is required is good environmental management and harvesting - not a zero sum game fought by eco types vs. loggers.  

In the meantime we get failed promises as detailed below.  

Hillary Borrud and Gordon R. Friedman

The Oregonian/OregonLive

When state and federal officials approved $8 million in taxpayer financing for a Southern Oregon sawmill project, they did so on the premise the investment would bring back jobs. But officials green-lighted the project despite warning signs the plan to retool the mothballed mill was likely doomed to fail.

Sure enough, even with the expensive taxpayer- provided upgrades, the reopened Rough & Ready mill operated for less than 20 months before shutting down for good. Its equipment has been auctioned off, the land sold and the promised jobs only briefly delivered.

The failed project was overseen by Portland environmental nonprofit Ecotrust.

Taxpayers ultimately poured more than $12 million into the small-scale family- owned mill. On the day the land was sold, only $5 million of it remained.

The other $7 million had been spent for naught. Cave Junction residents like Matthew Davis, who worked on the millroom floor as did his father and three brothers, have a hard time accepting that work is gone forever.

“It was a game changer,” Davis said of the mill’s closing. “The mill was a really good income. One of the best-paying jobs around.”

After the mill closed, Davis went back to school and landed a better, higher-paying job as a diesel engine mechanic. But it requires a 115-mile daily c ommute to and from Medford.

Government officials who hand out the type of tax credits that Rough & Ready received don’t check a project’s financial viability or budget details first. And that is by design. Lawmakers who created the so-called “new market” credits directed regulators to defer to private sector investors.

Officials at Business Oregon, the state economic development agency, approved Ecotrust’s tax credit application for the mill project despite red flags. Among them: a simplistic hand-written budget, ineligible costs that could have been detected up front and a recent failure by the mill’s operators to keep it open despite substantial public investments.

Millions of taxpayer dollars were invested in getting the Rough & Ready sawmill up and running again. It operated for less than 20 months before closing for good. Jamie Francis, file


Then-Gov. John Kitzhaber supported retooling the mill in sleepy Cave Junction, surrounded by national forests just north of the California border. He liked the idea of putting laid-off mill employees back to work.

The sawmill’s owners, Jennifer and Link Phillippi, wanted as much taxpayer help as possible to buy up-to-date equipment and restart the mill. The size of a tax credit for pumping up a rural business like theirs depends on the total cost of the improvements. Ecotrust decided to include in its tax credit application a $4 million expense to buy the decades-old mill and the land on which it sits. What should have been obvious: The company in charge of the sawmill already owned the mill and the land, so buying them wasn’t a genuine arms-length cost and shouldn’t have counted.

But officials at the state and federal agencies that grant new market credits say digging deep into the workings of individual proposals isn’t their role.

On the federal level, the Department of Treasury scrutinizes the private entities that it authorizes to award multiple tax credits to a spectrum of projects. Ecotrust is one of those. Treasury officials check the performance of each entity’s portfolio before granting it a new round of credits to give out.

Under Oregon law, Business Oregon leaders said, they were required to leave it to Ecotrust and the Phillippis to judge if the deal would save the mill. Ecotrust was paid $520,000 for arranging the deal.

When Oregon lawmakers created the state version of new market tax credits in 2011, they instructed Business Oregon to award the credits as long as certain federal requirements were met, no matter how dubious a project may appear. In a low-income community? Arranged by a federally approved entity? Backed with all the investment dollars required? Ecotrust’s Rough & Ready proposal checked all those boxes, so the taxpayer spigot was turned on.

Business Oregon reviewers didn’t spot warning signs because they aren’t allowed to dig deeper than face value, agency spokesman Nathan Buehler said.

The reopening drew high public praise from Oregon officials. “Credit goes to Governor Kitzhaber and to Ecotrust for their efforts on this project and on behalf of the Josephine County economy,” said Sen. Ron Wyden. Rep. Greg Walden hailed the project as “good news for working families in southern Oregon.” Kitzhaber promised to help the mill project “in any way I can.”

Lawmakers ended the state version of the new market tax credit program in 2016. Congress, however, has repeatedly extended its new market incentive program, allowing project backers to receive $21 billion in tax credits since 2000.

Beginning in November 2017, The Oregonian/ OregonLive sought public records about Ecotrust’s Rough & Ready deal. It reviewed tax credit applications, emails and documents given to the state by a concerned Ecotrust insider.

Those records trace the complex financial web that ultimately provided $8 million in federal and $4 million in state taxpayer resources.

Following reporters’ inquiry, Business Oregon notified Ecotrust in February of its plans to claw back more than $1 million of the taxpayer incentives due to misspending. Ecotrust has the option to avoid repayment if by May 3 it spends $2.9 million on other allowable projects in rural Oregon. The nonprofit has indicated it will try to do that.

WELL-CONNECTED

Ecotrust was founded nearly three decades ago to nurture eco-friendly businesses and show companies that they can build wealth while also doing good. Founder Spencer Beebe is pictured on the nonprofit’s website wearing a white hat, an appropriate symbol of its ethos. “Spencer has always creatively leveraged capital to scale a new economy — finding ways to let mission drive money,” the website says.

One way it has paid for that work: winning $114 million in federal and state tax credits. The public-facing nonprofit also sits atop a less-publicized constellation of for-profit subsidiaries that exist to make money. Those for-profit companies own stakes in a handful of other tax credit projects, eco-centric businesses and the ultra-green Ecotrust headquarters in the Pearl District.

Ecotrust next plans to use a new helping of federal tax credits, intended to encourage investment in low-income areas, to build a new hub in southeast Portland’s rapidly redeveloping industrial area.

Ecotrust officials are accustomed to rubbing shoulders with influential people in Oregon. The city of Portland rented space in its headquarters building. In 2014, Kitzhaber urged that the group be awarded the tax credits — and even tossed in a $1 million largely forgivable loan from a pot of taxpayer money under his control.

The former governor, who is working to regain career credibility after an influence- peddling scandal led him to resign, is now getting help from Ecotrust. It has inked a four-month contract with him to work on an opaque economic development and natural resource management project called Salmon Nation. Ecotrust would say only that the group is paying him “his standard hourly consulting fee.”

FAILING UP

To qualify for the maximum amount of state tax credits, Ecotrust needed to show that upgrading the Rough & Ready sawmill so it could reopen would cost at least $8 million. Ecotrust’s application to Business Oregon showed half that cost would be to acquire land and construct a building — even though the same three-page application showed the mill was a lready s ituated on a 300-acre site with an existing 35,000-square-foot sawmill.

Acquiring land and buildings from Rough & Ready’s owners only to give them to an entity 99 percent owned by those same people is not an upgrade eligible for a state taxpayer subsidy, Nia Ray, director of Oregon’s Department of Revenue, informed Ecotrust. Tax credits should never have been awarded for that purpose, she said.

Yet Business Oregon signed off on the subsidies. Buehler, the spokesman, said Ecotrust’s application didn’t provide enough detail for officials to spot that problem.

Adam L ane, E cotrust’s chief f inancial officer, defended the companies’ handling of tax credits.

The incentives are restricted to helping businesses in census tracts with low median incomes and are intended for projects that wouldn’t be able to secure private financing without taxpayer subsidies. Most have gone to urban projects, but Ecotrust’s credits were designated for rural communities.

“One of the key elements of the new markets program, both state and federal, is they are supposed to go to try to fund projects that will create economic and — the way Ecotrust does it — environmental benefits in these rural companies, these needy Census tracts,” Lane said. “It is supposed to go to try to fund things that would not otherwise be fundable.”

Still, Lane was asking hard questions of other key decision-makers at Ecotrust as little as seven days before the tax credit deal closed.

Bettina von Hagen, chief executive of Ecotrust Forest Management, Ecotrust’s forprofit forest management subsidiary, wrote in an internal analysis of the Rough & Ready deal that log supply wouldn’t be a problem because the mill had “resolved supply issues” and could easily secure logs from its previous suppliers.

That raised questions for Lane. He wrote in the margins of von Hagen’s memo, “I think more needs to be said about this given that it was the main reason the mill was closed before. What has changed?”

Lane had other questions, too: Did Ecotrust have proof that a log shortage really forced the mill to close in 2013? Why wouldn’t a commercial lender pony up money for the project? Had von Hagen verified that a log shortage wouldn’t “kill the company” again after reopening?

“Rigorous analysis (i.e. ‘hard questions’) is the expectation we would hold in any project we undertake,” Carolyn Hollard, Ecotrust’s vice president for communications, wrote in an email. “We do not move forward with any transaction until we complete our diligence and questions are answered.”

Ecotrust said when it put the deal together that the public’s investment would create much-needed jobs in unemployment-racked Cave Junction.

“This project will bring back 70 jobs in an economically depressed region of the state with unhealthy forests,” Ecotrust said on its application. “Working people are productive, pay taxes and are not a drain on the state resources. … Rural Oregon communities need a sustainable economic engine to support the quality of life we all desire.”

Davis, the laid-off mill worker, said his younger brother, Chuck, and a neighbor went back to work when the retooled mill started sawing logs again. But, Davis noted, “It didn’t last very long.” For Chuck — who joined the Marines right after the mill closed again — the mill’s second shuttering brought grief. “He was so upset,” said Davis’ wife, Lynne.

Out of Ecotrust’s 25 new market tax credit deals, Lane said only two have run into problems like Rough & Ready’s. Still, he said “this is heartbreaking for us because when we put this deal together we were incredibly excited about the job creation, not only at Rough & Ready but the surrounding landowners.”

As for the state’s contention Ecotrust got the subsidies improperly by counting ineligible expenses, Lane said, “We are not saying that is correct.” However, Lane said Ecotrust agrees with the state that “this is a good solution” to spend any money left to purchase timberland for the Phillippis to manage.

“We’re working w ith t he Phillippis, o r monitoring them, because they’re the ones that sort of have to drive it,” Lane said.

In l ight o f t he p roblems t hat a rose, Ecotrust will repay $250,000 — half of the fees it earned for handling the tax credits — and use it to purchase timberland in low-income tracts, Lane said.

Ecotrust is not ruling out future tax credit deals involving lumber mills, Lane said. “Ecotrust has a strong forestry team. We know a lot about it.”

NINETY YEARS, THEN CLOSED

Rough & Ready had been sawing logs continuously since 1922 and was the last working mill in Josephine County when it closed in February 2013. Its holdings spanned two mills located side by side. One was a 1940sera mill and had recently been upgraded with $2.5 million of taxpayer help to more efficiently saw large diameter logs. The second mill, added in the 1970s, was capable of sawing small logs but had been dormant since 2002 because it wasn’t capable of turning a profit.

The Phillippis closed the large log mill in 2013, citing a shortage of logs from federal lands. The infusion of taxpayer financing in 2014 was to retool the small-log mill and put it back in business after 12 years.

They were bullish about the chances of success.

“Demand is good right now,” Link Phillippi said at the time. “Our markets are good. Our customers are begging for wood.”

Critical to any mill’s success is its ability to acquire raw logs.

Both Lane and Jennifer Phillippi said they had reason to believe Rough & Ready

“This project will bring back 70 jobs in an economically region of the state with unhealthy forests.” Ecotrust, in its application for tax credits for the Rough & Ready sawmill

After the fact, Oregon regulators called foul on Ecotrust’s plan to accept millions in taxpayer subsidies spend $5 million of that money to acquire the mill from the owners and in essence give it right back. 

 


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