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Boot the pseudo deciders aka "TROIKA" out

Vote for candidates -   

Elizabeth Furse for County Commission, District #4

elizabethfurse.com

Allen Amabisca for County Chair

allenamabisca.com

Re-Elect Greg Malinowki to County Commission

Greg Malinowski

- Intel tax abatements

- The Knight fix - Brother can you spare...

- 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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Sneaker Politics

Kitzhaber and legislators got rolled by Nike. 

More

 


"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.   

 

Steve Duin Schools get the blame 

School Reform/slate.com 



    

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

Invisible People

http://www.npr.org



ahomeoftheirown.com/  

    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

 

Boot the psuedo deciders aka "TROIKA" out

Vote for -

Elizabeth Furse for County Commission, District #4

elizabethfurse.com

Allen Amabisca for County Chair

allenamabisca.com

Re-Elect Greg Malinowki to County Commission

 Greg Malinowski

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


Sign the online petition on Intel emissions in link below:  

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?

Rediscovering Government

Is the US #1? 

 

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 

krugmanonline.com 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 


 

 

  

 


  

 

Friday
Mar282014

OBAMA, RATIONALIZING EVIL?  

Barack at Flanders Cemetery     The editors of The Nation are well known for not mincing words.  They are also have a track record for indulging in hyperbole, especially when they play gotcha journalism with Democrats, especially President Barack Obama. 

     So when my "CC" who is a card carrying Nation man sent me the link below I wasn't surprised at him nor the self-righteous "lefties" at The Nation.  As an ex-pat American he loves to poke me in the eye about the inconsistencies of the USA.  For good measure he just sent me an article from the Weekly Standard - his version of fair & balanced...   

     This quote is taken out of context from a speech Obama gave in Brussels responding to Vladimir Putin's defense of the "annexation" of The Crimea.  While the world, including the UN General Assembly, has condemned Putin's almost bloodless act of war, apparently the editors of The Nation conflate Barack's statement with Putin's actions.  The logic of this escapes me.  Barack is removing troops Dubya sent to Iraq and Afghanistan, while Putin has invaded another country. 

     Here's how the Nation editors framed their rhetorical question "cutting the pasting" Barack's speech:  

     "Perhaps most strikingly for a Democrat who rose to prominence in part because of his opposition to the Iraq war, Mr. Obama took on and dismissed the Russian claim that the United States was hypocritical because it used force to dislodge Saddam Hussein. [Obama] reminded his audience that he spoke out against Mr. Bush’s decision to invade in 2003.

     “But even in Iraq, America sought to work within the international system,” he said. “We did not claim or annex Iraq’s territory. We did not grab its resources for our own gain.”

     The first part of the sentence is accurate - the Bush administration "sought" the UN's and allied blessings on our Iraq misadventure.  Remember Colin Powell's infamous WMD speech?  And despite considerable public opposition to Dubya's, not Barack's, war of invasion and occupation of Saddam Hussein's Iraq most of our allies joined us in sending troops there including Canada and England if memory serves me.  And we did not "annex" Iraq as a 51st state.  

     CORRECTION:   The 40 nations that sent troops to Iraq did NOT include Canada - as the "CC" notes in the "Comments" section below - here's the list - it's bigger than I remembered.  The US, England and Austrailia were the largest forces but the list includes many nations who bought the Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell "big lie" about WMDs.  

     But we did make an unsuccessful grab for Iraq's oil - for the record the Russians did too which the Nation folks somehow did not mention.  So the brunt of the screed hinges on the ill-fated petro grab.  Well who was in secret meetings in Shrub's West Wing with VP Dick Cheney, the architect of our dirty little war - big oil and their allies such as Hallaburton, a Texas multi-national who Cheney worked for prior to being VP.    

     But why did Barack imply there was no grab for oil in Iraq?  Was it a bad job of speech writing?  Or was it simply a kind of knee jerk reaction to the rationalizations of a tin horn dictator who fancies himself as the heir apparent of Joe Stalin and the Czars in Mother Russia hell bent on bringing back the good old days of the "Cold War?"  Or it may be a deeper need to defend a kinder and gentler American image, something all presidents do at times of crisis. 

     We don't see ourselves as others see us.  I doubt any nation's citizens or leaders do.  When up against a thug like Putin it's hard to be objective and acknowledge we too have sinned as an imperial, militarist, neo-colonial power.  But again among the elite nations who hasn't sinned cast the first stone - Britain, France, Germany, Russia, China, Japan et al?  I doubt the capacity for self-reflection is any more robust than in the USA.  

     But again, Obama is not Putin, the historical parallel is President George W. Bush (aka Shrub, Dubya) and his trusty side kick Dick "Buckshot" Cheney.  So to the "CC" and his buddies at The Nation - get off your high horse - at some point in life we all have feet of clay but in this case the buck does not stop at Barack's desk but at his predecessor's who steered us into two wars and the greatest economic collapse since the Great Depression. 

     And let's not forget what Putin has done in Chechnya and Georgia and what Russia did in Afghanistan in the Reagan years!  Putin has blood on his hands as does Mother Russia who has played the neo-colonial game since before the "Cold War" in violation of the Yalta Accords signed by FDR, Churchill & Stalin.     

     Yes, the US involvement in Iraq was "wrong" I've said that again and again.  But Iraq was Bush's war not Obama's.  Afghanistan is another matter.   Both Bush and Barack believed in the mission there but who executed it the best and who is taking us out - the record is clear!  

     And when you read the ENTIRE speech not cherry pick Barack's remarks in Brussels, one get's an entirely different view than the distortion employed by the editors of the Nation

     Below are the key two paragraphs plus a link to the entire speech: 

     "Moreover, Russia has pointed to America’s decision to go into Iraq as an example of Western hypocrisy.  Now, it is true that the Iraq War was a subject of vigorous debate not just around the world, but in the United States as well.  I participated in that debate and I opposed our military intervention there. 

     But even in Iraq, America sought to work within the international system.  We did not claim or annex Iraq’s territory.  We did not grab its resources for our own gain.  Instead, we ended our war and left Iraq to its people and a fully sovereign Iraqi state that could make decisions about its own future.  

     Of course, neither the United States nor Europe are perfect in adherence to our ideals, nor do we claim to be the sole arbiter of what is right or wrong in the world.  We are human, after all, and we face difficult choices about how to exercise our power. 

     But part of what makes us different is that we welcome criticism, just as we welcome the responsibilities that come with global leadership."

     Having read the entire speech, I'm proud of the POTUS and to be an American.  He inherited a mess created by the neo-con thugs of the Dubya era.  The economy is coming back not as fast as I would like but it's improving.  We have Obamacare which has so far gotten 6 million people health insurance who didn't have it before.  Is it perfect we in Oregon know the answer to that question, nope but even here 190,000 Oregonians have coverage now.  

     I fully endorse what Barack said in the conclusion to his speech in Brussels -

     "And just as we meet our responsibilities as individuals, we must be prepared to meet them as nations.  Because we live in a world in which our ideals are going to be challenged again and again by forces that would drag us back into conflict or corruption.  We can’t count on others to rise to meet those tests...  

     And that’s the question we all must answer...  what kind of world will we leave behind?...  I believe... if we hold firm to our principles...  are willing to back our beliefs with courage and resolve... hope will ultimately overcome fear, and freedom will continue to triumph over tyranny -- because that is what forever stirs in the human heart."  

 

 

Thursday
Mar272014

IS THERE A SLIDE IN OUR FUTURE?  

     The tragic mudslide at Oso Washington north of Seattle, south of Arlington raises the issue of why do people live in such risky areas?  More pointedly, why do county commissions and local city governments allow residential development in such slide, flood prone areas?  More importantly can it happen here?

   I've testified before our county planning commission and board and blogged about so-called "steep slopes" development such as planned for North Bethany.  I've walked that particular site twice - once with Linda Peters, chair of WC CAN and once with the developer of that property. 

     Each time I've wondered how one could mitigate against the risk of water run off creating a slide problem?  I've asked similar questions regarding the risks of summer fires to developments like Black Butte Ranch near Sisters and big fires like we saw in southern Oregon last summer in the Medford/Ashland area.  

     Why do we allow development to encroach upon timbered areas, especially areas which are being logged or which have a history of summer fires?  One answer that comes to mind is Americans feel they have a God given right to live anywhere they want to, Mother Nature be damned.  

     But since where we build is regulated by city, county, state and federal laws - the more complex answer is that these are "political" judgements made by elected officials - mostly local government planning commissions, city councils or county commissions.  Who influences these folks? 

     The answer to my rhetorical question is obvious!  The realestate, development and construction industry has a major impact on local "electeds."  After all these folks create jobs and every home that is built adds to the property tax base.  It's a win/win, right?  Wrong! 

     It's only a "win/win" when done wisely and with a long term vision especially a vision that takes into account the consequences of allowing the market to drive such decisions.  And when the special interests give PAC money to pro-development candidates, the public interest is easily squashed.  

     You see this happening in Washington County not only in North Bethany but in South Cooper Mountain.  I haven't walked South Cooper Mountain yet.  But what I've read about run off problems on Bull Mountain makes me wonder have the "electeds" and staff done their homework, including walking the proposed areas? 

     When I drive home to Forest Grove from Beaverton or Hillsboro, I see huge clear cuts in the foothills of the Coast Range.  Then I look at the pictures of the disaster in Washington State and wonder could it happen here too?  As development encroaches more and more on farm and timber land the answer seems obvious. 

    The other issue is why in this day and age are we still "clear" cutting?  Growing up in Roseburg I know a clear cut when I see one!  I was a lookout as a college kid for the US Forest Service in the Umpqua National Forest in '62 and '63.  My lookout on Pig Iron Mountain was on the edge of a clear cut buffered by a grove of trees.  

     I'm not an opponent of harvesting timber.  But I want to protect old growth, salmon habitat and clean rivers.  Timber harvesting is necessary to prevent climate changing forest fires and to protect those who live nearby private or public owned forests.  But it must be done by a "best practices" model not the slash and burn methods of the past.  

     Again, here's where federal, state, county and local policies must be in sync.  But when private interests dictate, the short term, quick fix, fast buck mentality will rule the day not Oregon's legacy of land use planning which began with Senate Bill 100 in 1973.  The same goes for commercial and residential development. 

     We got a lesson from Mount Saint Helens about the power of Mother Nature.  The question is were we listening?  


     PS:  A picture is worth a thousand words or is it?  The picture at the top of my blog from Salon.com shows evidence of clear cutting while the more dramatic one at the bottom from the unOregonian does not.  Maybe it takes more than one picture?  

 

    

Tuesday
Mar252014

TAX FAIRNESS & POVERTY - AN UPDATE

     Editorialists all over Oregon are pontificating how unfair it is that some people's property taxes are higher than their fellow residents in the same types of homes. even in the same neighborhoods. 

     Anyone who has followed the yin and yang of the tax revolt movement in Oregon begun with Measure 5 in 1991 knew this from the beginning.  It was one of the unintended consequences of Measures 5, 47 and 50.  

     There is a bigger elephant in the room, corporate Oregon who doesn't pay it's fair share of ANY taxes - local property or state income taxes.  Hit this link to read more about the issue -

     Even if big box businesses in Oregon like Nike or Intel didn't get tax breaks galore from the SIPS et al, they would still pay lower property taxes since business property doesn't turnaround as much as residential property, so it's market values don't increase very fast and with it property taxes.  

EDITORIAL: Tax inequities growing, Register Guard

      "In some Portland neighborhoods, homes are taxed at less than 45 percent of their market value. Elsewhere in Portland, property taxes are collected on close to homes’ full market value. The discrepancies are clearly inequitable — properties of equal value should be taxed alike — and they are also distorting the real estate market. It’s a statewide problem that will grow until Oregon brings its property tax system back in line with reality. The League of Oregon Cities commissioned the Northwest Economic Research Center, directed by former State Economist Tom Potiowski, to examine how a flawed property tax system affects tax bills and home prices." 


The Misery Index: 

     Debates over taxes are nothing new.  The only good tax is one you don't have to pay but somebody else does! 

     However, the "who pays what" and "how much" is the question.  Most studies of the subject show that the "haves" are good at avoiding taxes or getting tax breaks, while the "have nots" end up fitting the bill because taxation in the USA is regressive whether at the local, state or federal level because rates are indexed not progressive.   

     The impact of regressivity goes beyond who pays but what our taxes pay for.  Again, the top earners pay less in taxes as a % of their total wealth, while most of us pay more in taxes as a % of our wealth.  The distortion of our tax system results in those on the margins of the economy getting fewer tax breaks while the top earners get the most tax breaks.  

     This results in the marginalization of the middle class and an increase in poverty in the richest nation in the world.  Oregon despite its image as a progressive state is a bottom feeder in education, in job creation and in poverty.  Not even the Blazers victories or Nike U bowl games can put a shine on that reality.  

     One means of addressing inequality is a guaranteed national income or a negative income tax.  Check out this link sent to me by my "CC".   It's an old idea which goes back to the McGovern/Nixon campaign in 1968.   

     One of the takeaways in the article reflects my own experience  - "In the current patchwork of systems confronting poverty, like welfare, food stamps and vouchers, people can fall through the cracks..." 

Tuesday
Mar252014

URBAN/RURAL RESERVES - A DECONSTRUCTION

     In 1973 Governor Tom McCall pointed his finger at the "shameless threat to our environment and to the whole quality of life - unfettered despoiling of the land" [by uncontrolled] suburbanization and secondhome development.

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: 

     There is a natural tendency for partisans on both sides of an issue to create competing narratives of legislative action.  HB 4078, the so-called land use “grand bargain” generated such competing narratives in two op ed columns in the UnOregonian. 

     As senior policy analyst for WC CAN who followed the debate on HB 4078 closely in the Puzzle Palace I’m including both interpretations with my comments.  As is often the case advocates on both sides live within their own spin zone. 

     But in my humble opinion "some spin zones" are better than others.  Decide for yourself.  Here's my previous blog posts on this issue: 

By Jason Miner 

     The future of Oregon land use planning is in your hands. But some are trying to deny that future.  

     Over the past two months, the Legislature crafted a rural reserves compromise in Washington County that protects thousands of acres of farmland that were wrongly slated for development.  Places like Helvetia will be protected for your lifetime.

     Farmers in those areas can securely make investments in land and equipment and be confident that speculators won’t undermine them.

     Meanwhile, the region’s cities have a clear map for their future, and taxpayers can be assured that land inside the urban growth boundary will be efficiently used before unnecessarily expanding expensive infrastructure.

     But there was a serious cost to this deal.  The Legislature stepped into a role it should never have to fill, bailing out a local government that willfully broke simple rules.  Let’s be clear: This was brought about by local government failure.

     RAD:  Having attended all of the hearings on HB 4078 the legislators who crafted the “grand bargain” made it clear this wasn’t a precedent for more intrusion into local decisions.  The unique timing of the Court of Appeals ruling and the legislature being in session made this possible.  This is not likely to happen again.  

     In the hearing where HB 4078 moved from a bad expedited land use bill to something far more complex, everyone was caught off guard espeically the lobbyists on both sides in the hearing room.  I've never seen anything so bizarre in my time in the Puzzle Palace.  

     Quite simply, Washington County overreached in the reserves process, designating high-quality farmland for sprawl by creating its own unjustifiable rules. It got caught by local citizens and by the Oregon Court of Appeals. The court condemned the use of “pseudo factors” in designating land for rural reserves.

     Washington County ignored Oregonians’ long-held beliefs that farmland and urban land stand in balance. It ignored the input of local farmers and residents. It ignored the law that created the reserves process.  And so the Legislature brokered a compromise that saved the rural reserves.

     Now old opponents of planning are arguing it is a reason to undermine the entire program. They are arguing that farmland needs no real protection, that development should be unrestrained, and that your right to participate can be left by the roadside in favor of expediency. Do not let them win.

     Oregon’s land use program is designed to uphold core values that Oregonians have held for decades: economic development alongside meaningful protections of farms, forests and natural areas. The program is working. Our agricultural industry sets records and earns international praise almost every year. Our cities and towns are growing faster than the national average while sprawling less.

     The program has changed dramatically over the past 40 years, and in 2013 legislation was passed to streamline urban growth boundary decisions for smaller cities, including those in rural Oregon.  What happened with the reserves isn’t evidence of a broken land use system. It’s evidence of broken actions by local governments that ignored the law and got caught, and of a Legislature that acted to save a rural reserves process it created.

     RAD:  1000 Friends joined Metro during the “grand bargain” process to support streamlining the hearings process.  Some of those ideas are part of HB 4078.  They focus on speeding up the hearing process not running rough shod over citizen involvement guaranteed in Goal 1 of Senate Bill 100.  

     This is not a pass for local governments that ignore the law. And it shouldn’t be an excuse to deny Oregonians the right to participate in shaping the future of their communities.

     Oregonians themselves must determine the precedent set today, not legislators. Be assured those hoping to thwart the land use balance will argue for further legislative action. But citizens created Oregon’s land use program. Oregon’s future belongs to all of us, and so should the way we plan for it.

Jason Miner is executive director of 1000 Friends of Oregon

 

 

By Jeff Bachrach

     The Oregon Legislature unanimously passed the historic land-use grand bargain bill because it was widely viewed that the state’s celebrated growth management system had broken down due to regulatory overload.

     RAD:  Regulations didn’t fail, they saved us from a closed-door decision-making process in Washington County which jiggered the facts and marginalized citizen involvement.  This was a “political” failure not land use system failure!  

     In the public hearings and work sessions on the “grand bargain” nobody claimed the system had broken down – that line was reserved for public consumption during the debate on the final bill by those who are hostile to land use planning despite unanimous YES votes in favor of HB 4078. 

    There is nothing wrong with the state's aspirational land-use goals and the need to reconcile them with a growing population and changing economy.  The problem is that the labyrinth of state laws and Land Conservation and Development Commission (LCDC) rules adopted over the years results in endless squabbles over technical details and protracted litigation that do little to create well-planned communities.  

     RAD:  Again, as stated by Jason Miner the process has been streamlined in the past and was tweaked in HB 4078.  Saving Helvetia and other farm land is not a mere “technical detail” but central to Senate Bill 100’s vision to prevent urban sprawl we see in LA, the Bay Area and Seattle.  

     As they say, the devil is in the details. 

     Mr. Bachrach can own his opinion but he doesn’t own the facts. 

     1000 Friends of Oregon disagrees. In a recent opinion piece, the organization’s executive director, Jason Miner, argues “the program is working.” The grand bargain, he writes, “was brought about by local government failure.” 

     The grand bargain came about as a result of a February ruling by the Oregon Court of Appeals that reversed Metro's urban-rural reserves decision.  Metro and the three counties and numerous cities it serves had spent five contentious years - plus about three more counting appellate reviews - creating a 50-year growth management map for the region. 

     The reserves map would have preserved 267,000 acres as rural reserves untouchable for development for 50 years, and limited all UGB expansions to 28,000 acres of urban reserves for the next 50 years. To provide perspective, utilizing all 28,000 acres of urban reserves would be an 11 percent increase in the supply of developable land to accommodate a projected 80 percent increase in population.

     1000 Friends should have championed Metro’s reserves decision as a grand victory for their core message of farmland preservation and tight urban growth boundaries.  But 1000 Friends and 19 other disgruntled parties filed appeals.  Not surprisingly, considering the scope of the reserves decision and volume of regulations governing the process, the court issued a 126-page opinion that tossed out the map and told Metro and the local governments to start over.

     RAD:  Again, the facts of how Washington County violated the rules are certified in the Appeals Court’s ruling.  When 1000 Friends, Save Helvetia and 18 other parties exercised an expensive right to challenge the process it’s not just because some people are “disgruntled.”  It’s because the Board of Commissioners led by Chair Tom Brian and his successor Andy Duyck steam rolled Metro using "pseudo" fact claims and ignored citizen concerns.  

     Mr. Miner of 1000 Friends insists that “what happened with the reserves isn’t evidence of a broken land use system.” Rather, he blames it on Washington County for “designating high-quality farmland for sprawl.”

     But that’s hardly a fair characterization of what happened.  Because of the large amount of high value farmland in Washington County, as measured by soil type not actual productivity, designating a 50-year supply of potentially developable land meant that some high-value farmland had to end up as part of the urban reserves.  About half of the urban reserves are located on soils qualifying as high value.

     RAD:  Again, Mr. Bachrach is trying to re-litigate post-facto the Appeals Court ruling in the court of public opinion.  One should ask what his motivation might be?  Well, he is a project manager for Newland Real Estate Group, which is the lead developer in the South Hillsboro expansion area.

     Mr. Bachrach has a right to defend his self-interests but he doesn’t have the right to imply he and his real estate clients are neutral parties in this debate.  As was clear from the hearings on HB 4078 there will be less developable land in Washington County than in Clackamas County.

     Could that be the real issue which rankles the development interests even though Cooper Mountain and South Hillsboro were saved for development?


     Moreover, the decision was not Washington County’s alone.  The reserves map was approved in 2011 by all three county commissions, unanimously adopted by Metro and unanimously affirmed by LCDC.  

     Ultimately, the reserves decision was doomed by the daunting complexity of the process and the numerous parties taking legal aim at it. Blaming its collapse on Washington County is like blaming the Titanic on the sailor who saw the iceberg.    

     RAD:  Again Mr. Bachrach can own his spin but he can’t own the facts as the Court of Appeals clearly found!  The Titanic analogy fits what Chairs Brian and Duyck did not a lowly staffer in Washington County.  There ran into an iceberg called the Court of Appeals! 

     Facing the economic and political consequences of having the Portland region with no approved  growth-management map or an expanded UGB for another five or 10 years, the Legislature decided to act. It took the matter away from Metro and the courts. It disregarded land-use laws and imposed a new urban-rural reserves map and urban growth boundary for the Portland region.

     RAD:  Again, Bachrach typical of a lawyer without a case ignores the facts and reinvents history.  HB 4078 only focused on the errors of Washington County, it left the Appeal’s Court judgment relative to Multnomah and Clackamas County in place. 

     It did not disregard land-use laws quite the contrary it preserved them!  The new map preserved much of what had been done minus the egregious land-use swapping engaged in by Brian and Duyck in their failed attempt to silence engaged citizens.   

     Cities throughout the state have already proclaimed their expectation that the Legislature will give them the same kind of extra-legal land-use deal the Portland region got.

     RAD:  Mr. Bachrach may be right on this point if one believes the rhetoric coming from the House and Senate when HB 4078 was passed. But his clairvoyance may be more political sour grapes coming from Oregon’s powerful development community. 

     But rest assured Mr. Bachrach and his well-healed friends will not be the only voices in the Puzzle Palace come 2015! 

     While many legislators were clear that passage of the bill is an acknowledgement that the statewide land-use system is broken and systemic repair is needed, that will not be easily accomplished.  The fact that the grand bargain happened is not enough to shake the faith of 1000 Friends and others who believe that the land-use system should be preserved essentially as it was handed down 40 years ago. 

     RAD:  Right on Mr. Bachrach!  Again yours will not be the only voice in the committee hearings come 2015…   

     The challenge ahead for Oregon is whether it can reclaim its mantle as a progressive national leader in land-use planning by developing a new and different kind of growth management system - one that reflects the values and goals that informed the original planning program, but is not captive to relentless regulatory schemes that do not result in good planning and policy-based outcomes.  

     RAD:  My oh my – “relentless regulatory schemes…”  It’s regulations and Senate Bill 100 that stopped developers and their local political minions in their tracks.  Some would love it if developers like banks were “too big to fail” and too big to regulate.  So far, Oregon is not for sale!  Tom McCall’s legacy prevails!  

     If the Legislature is not up to the task, it may be forced to become a surrogate land-use decision-maker, brokering mini grand bargains for cities and counties around the state that are unable to plan and grow under Oregon’s current planning regime.

     RAD:  Oregon’s current land use system is the only thing stopping economic pressure from turning rural farm and timberland into instant suburbs.  What captures the core of the two sides in this debate is a line from the Paul Newman movie, Cool Hand Luke, “what we have here is a failure to communicate.”  

     "Plan and grow" depends on one’s perspective.  Do we want Oregon to replicate suburban sprawl like we see in Washington or California or do we envision "smart growth" which balances urban, suburban, rural towns vis a vis open spaces?   It depends on how one imagines Oregon!  

Jeff Bachrach represents and serves as a project manager for Newland Real Estate Group, which is the lead developer in the South Hillsboro expansion area.

Tuesday
Mar252014

MEMO TO KITZ - RESIGN!

 


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