Please visit our new blog - The Union News.

"Vote early and vote often." - Al Capone (1899-1947)

Monday, April 30, 2007

Oregon labor leaders in Cuba for May Day

Gov. Nesbitt taps Leonard, Sten to represent Portland

Iran TV reports that the Cuban May Day Celebration will host 900 union leaders from 52 countries. "May Day" refers to various socialist and labor movement celebrations conducted on May 1, unrelated to the traditional celebrations to commemorate the Haymarket martyrs of 1886 and the international socialist movement generally. The latter event is an important holiday in Communist countries and Waldorf Schools.

The list is narrowed down so far to 26 Latin American and Caribbean nations, 16 European countries, four Asian states, six African nations and Oregon, each sending 483, 394, 16, 16, 11 and 3 unionists respectively. The celebrants will be bringing a total of 247 reporters, including from Si Newhouse's The Oregonian and Portfolio magazine.

World Federation of Trade Union president George Mavrikos was reported to have arrived Sunday, according to the state newspaper Granma. An important group of leaders will also attend the International Meeting of Solidarity, scheduled to be held at Havana's Conference Center the following day and the 6th Hemispheric Meeting of Struggle against Free Trade Agreements and for the Peoples' Integration on May 3-5.

Iran Press TV, Apr. 30

More of this post »

Sunday, April 29, 2007

GOP regulars look at dark horses

Congressman Ron Paul: Hope for America

Many Americans have become disillusioned with our political system. Year after year, election after election we hear all the same promises: Lower taxes, balanced budget, smaller federal government, responsible foreign policy, etc.

But we are always left with higher taxes, ever increasing federal deficits, ever-expanding federal bureaucracy, a foreign policy based on deceit, and a domestic policy that continually restricts our freedom.

The answer to restoring our great nation – respected throughout the world – is to reinstate the Constitution. Our republic can be saved if our politicians return to the doctrine that created it. Ron Paul 2008.

Barry Goldwater, Jr., introduces Ron Paul

While serving in Congress during the late 1970s and early 1980s, Dr. Ron Paul's limited-government ideals were not popular in Washington. In 1976, he was one of only four Republican congressmen to endorse Ronald Reagan for president.

During that time, Congressman Paul served on the House Banking committee, where he was a strong advocate for sound monetary policy and an outspoken critic of the Federal Reserve's inflationary measures. He was an unwavering advocate of pro-life and pro-family values. Dr. Paul consistently voted to lower or abolish federal taxes, spending and regulation, and used his House seat to actively promote the return of government to its proper constitutional levels. In 1984, he voluntarily relinquished his House seat and returned to his medical practice.

Dr. Paul returned to Congress in 1997 to represent the 14th congressional district of Texas. He presently serves on the House Committee on Financial Services and the House Committee on Foreign Affairs. He continues to advocate a dramatic reduction in the size of the federal government and a return to constitutional principles.

Congressman Paul’s consistent voting record prompted one of his congressional colleagues to say, “Ron Paul personifies the Founding Fathers' ideal of the citizen-statesman. He makes it clear that his principles will never be compromised, and they never are." Another colleague observed, "There are few people in public life who, through thick and thin, rain or shine, stick to their principles. Ron Paul is one of those few."

Brief Overview of Congressman Paul’s Record
He has never voted to raise taxes.
He has never voted for an unbalanced budget.
He has never voted for a federal restriction on gun ownership.
He has never voted to raise congressional pay.
He has never taken a government-paid junket.
He has never voted to increase the power of the executive branch.

He voted against the Patriot Act.
He voted against regulating the Internet.
He voted against the Iraq war.

He does not participate in the lucrative congressional pension program.
He returns a portion of his annual congressional office budget to the U.S. treasury every year.

Congressman Paul introduces numerous pieces of substantive legislation each year, probably more than any single member of Congress.

More of this post »

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Nation's leaders assess Oregon

Big Labor pleased with their lab experiment

Most Oregonians don't know much about The Oregonian's billionaire out-of-state owner, Si Newhouse. The Manhattan media mogul has deep ties with organized labor. And he's been making sure that national union bosses in Washington, D.C. are giving a long, hard look at what's going on here.

Last year, Oregon voters handed unchecked political power to a government union coalition already considered the 800-lb. gorilla of state politics. Now Oregonians want to know, from the nation's leading collective bargainers - "How are we doing?"

Here's what our nation's leaders had to say:

AFL-CIO president John Sweeney
"Labor has always supported democratic rights and we will continue to pour money into Oregon from out-of-state. The whole gang there is doing a bang-up job. Tim Nesbitt in particular has earned a seat at the national union table. It was well worth sending him out there when we did."

SEIU president Andy Stern
"So we had a little setback at Kaiser Permanente last year. Look, that NLRB card-check ruling against us is only a wrist-slap, a six month penalty. Even Right To Work called it a symbolic victory. We have no problems with what's going on in Oregon. Any other questions?"

NEA president Reg Weaver
"Our Oregon was very efficient with the out-of-state money we sent to Oregon to oppose signature-gathering. Patty Wentz deserves recognition for always digging. Finding that underemployed pornographer in Eugene to spoon-feed the national media was genius. They ate it up."

AFT president Eddie McElroy
"That NEA early money into Oregon last year was mainly a laundering operation. From there it went to signature-blockers in Oklahoma, Nevada, everywhere. AFT doesn't play that hard in Oregon, it's a turf thing, a long story, some other time. Irregardless, we're very pleased with the Oregon Legislature right now."

More of this post »

Friday, April 27, 2007

Newhouse promises $30 million against M37

Money talks in property rights war

All it took was for out-of-state billionaire owner of The Oregonian, Si Newhouse, to step up with his cash. He did, and majority Democrat legislators decided Thursday that they'll ask Oregon voters to dramatically scale back rural development under Measure 37, rewriting the property rights law that has already been approved twice by voters, in 2000 and 2004.

Freshman Senator and property-rights backer Larry George blasted The Oregonian and the Labor-Democrat legislative majority. "The public has been given a false impression about the impacts of Measure 37," said George, who wants lawmakers to allow M37 to take effect.

Government union lobbyists still haven't decided whether the ballot title will ask for a yes or no vote. "We'll give the voters the opportunity to say, 'Yes, this is what we meant,' or 'No, it wasn't,'" said Sen. Floyd Prozanski, D-Eugene, co-chairman of the committee. "It will all depend on the polling."

"The only conclusion I have is that the effort behind this is to repeal ballot Measure 37. It saddens me and I think it's an unfortunate turn and one of the worst efforts to overturn the will of the voters." - Sen. Larry George, R-Sherwood
The campaign against property rights will again be financed by The Oregonian and the state AFL-CIO. It will return Oregon to the atmosphere of 2004, when Newhouse's millions against Measure 37 inspired passionate debate about how to restore property rights that were dismantled by 1970's draconian land-use planning scheme.

Measure 37, which passed with a 61 percent yes vote, restored Oregonians' right to use their property however they could have when they bought it. The 7,500 claims filed under the measure so far would expand a property tax base that has been starved for 37 years by an effective ban on rural residential housing growth.

Lawmakers still must decide whether to put the issue on the ballot in September or November. The earlier date would be more favorable to a highly-organized, low-turnout election that favors government unions with an established, well-honed, 24/7 campaign capability. Ordinary voters would be at a disadvantage.

Hundreds of Oregonians seeking to restore their property rights have appeared at meetings the past few months, making heartfelt speeches and wearing stickers to represent their support for M37. Some of them already are bemoaning the election or mapping strategy for it.

Landowners have invested too much in Measure 37 to have it undone by the Legislature, said David Hunnicutt of Oregonians in Action, the group that wrote the original ballot measure. "If that's the best they can do, I think it's a black mark on how they've handled the whole thing," he said. "But it isn't surprising."

The Oregonian, Apr. 27, By LAURA OPPENHEIMER

More of this post »

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Local stunt draws national ridicule

The Onion

Oregon Governor On Food Stamps

Gov. Ted Kulongoski of Oregon is living on a budget of a week's worth of food stamps for the state's Hunger Awareness Week. What do you think?

Jarred Georgeson, Tavern Owner: "Hopefully someone tipped him off to that deli in Portland that will totally let you use them to buy forties and scratch-offs.

Darren Butler, Crop Duster: "Sounds wonderful! According to my pioneering guide, there is more than enough food in Oregon for the worthy adventurer, from plentiful beavers to succulent ducks!

Kristen Stewart, Focus Puller: "I'd hate to be an Oregonian when it's Transvestite Awareness Week."

More of this post »

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

You sure about this?

Labor union lock on Oregon government goes too far

The Oregon House passed legislation on Monday that would deprive workers of secret ballot elections in public sector union organizing campaigns. Instead of an election, the union would be certified based on a certain number of so-called "cards" signed by employees.

Just yesterday, the NLRB ruled against the Portland-area SEIU, banning the union from using the anti-democratic "card check" practice in the Pacific Northwest for 6 months on account of repeated, widespread, rampant abuses.

Making secret balloting illegal in organizing elections is a legislative priority for Big Labor in the states, like Oregon, and in Washington, D.C., where it is gaining ground in the Democrat-controlled Congress. This 30-second video explains the way the new system would work.

More of this post »

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Newspaper deposit still alive

The Oregonian fights valiantly against bottle bill creep

Oregonians would have to plunk down a nickel for every bottle of water they buy under a bill that passed the state Senate Monday. And a proposed first-in-the-nation deposit on recyclable newsprint, that would be dedicated to financing Oregon's carbon-footprint reduction, is still alive.

By a 23-7 vote and without much debate, the Senate endorsed what would be the first update to Oregon's landmark law in 36 years. Senate Bill 707 proposes to add bottled water and bottles containing flavored water to the list of containers requiring a deposit.

The bill now moves to the House, where it may be expanded further. Rep. Jackie Dingfelder, chairwoman of the Energy and Environment Committee, said Monday that she's willing to consider adding a novel, non-refundable deposit for daily newspapers to the bottle bill, which was the first deposit law in the nation.

Interviewed minutes after the Senate vote, Dingfelder said she's also willing to talk about adding the new deposit for subscription magazines, when her committee holds hearings early next month. "I absolutely support updating the Bottle Bill," said Dingfelder, D-Portland. "The question is: Are the changes made in the Senate enough? I think the House can and should do more. We can be the first Legislature to specifically reduce the size of a state's newsprint carbon footprint."

House Speaker Jeff Merkley, D-Portland, had also wanted a Bottle Bill update that included more than water bottles, his spokesman said Monday. But ultimately, Dingfelder said, the politics of Si Newhouse - out-of-state billionaire owner of The Oregonian - will decide how far legislators go in updating the Bottle Bill this session.

Two powerful groups - newsprint manufacturers and publishers - oppose the much-needed addition of newsprint. Si Newhouse and Fred Stickel have organized a persuasive coalition that includes the state's most senior lobbyists, to fight against the expansion.

Recycling advocates had started the 2007 session hoping to expand the Bottle Bill to include not only beer and pop but all drink containers, and, for the first time, newsprint. They also hoped to persuade lawmakers to raise the amount of the deposit, which took effect in 1972 and would be 4 times greater if it had been adjusted for inflation.

But strong industry opposition led supporters to scale back their ambitions. Under the bill passed Monday by the Senate, only water bottles would be added as of Jan. 1, 2009. Future increases in the deposit amount and other issues would be settled by a task force that would report back before the 2009 Legislature begins.

Click here to review The Oregonion's award-winning coverage on the historic efforts to expand Oregon's bottle bill to include newspapers and magazines.

The Oregonian, Apr. 24 By MICHELLE COLE

More of this post »

Monday, April 23, 2007

Ideology, profit join Big Labor, The Oregonian

Measure 37 opposition donations revealed
Wentz: "Why would it surprise me?"

People who paid hard cash to oppose Measure 37's restoration of property rights keep on paying, even though Oregon voters have approved the measure twice.

Donors - including an out-of-state billionaire - who lost two statewide ballot elections are continuing to prosecute a political campaign against M37, according to a study by the Money in Politics Research Action project. Si Newhouse's The Oregonian and Tim Nesbitt's Oregon AFL-CIO are putting up all the dough. There are no smaller individual donors.

M37's cash-heavy opponents have created a war in which there will be "two sides" forever, no matter how many times Oregonians vote to protect and restore property rights. All sides can agree on this: it's no surprise to see The Oregonian and Big Labor working hand-in-glove. Long ago, The Oregonian sold its soul to avoid a re-unionization campaign among its own workers. The legendary story is known as "Striking it Rich."

Money in Politics is a labor-backed organization. A darling of the MSM, the large one-person "group" usually avoids any critique of Big Labor's political agenda. But they say that the fight to preserve Oregon's draconian land-use rules has generated $637 million of political spending by M37 opponents and they can no long stand silent.

"I think there are people out there who ideologically feel that property rights are evil," says Janice Thompson, the group's director, as she tears open a fresh bag of Doritos. "Others say I've got mine, but you can't have yours. Either way, it's clear that government unions have the wherewithal to make very large political contributions - and have a huge economic stake in the outcome."

Profit is the only philosophy that matters, according to Patty Wentz, the spokesperson for Our Oregon, the consortium of the Oregon Education Association teachers union and the SEIU government workers' union. Our Oregon is known as the 800-lb. gorilla of Oregon politics.

The Portland-based political campaign organization contributed $300,000 against M37 because unions believe that the restoration of property rights in Oregon is causing taxpayers to realize they are being ripped-off by government unions, Wentz said. Wanting to protect their turf, they filed a $269 million lawsuit against Oregonians in Action, the sponsor of Measure 37. The legal matter is working its way through the courts.

As to the dearth of other contributors against M37, except for unions and The Oregonian, Wentz said, "Why would it surprise me?"

The Oregonian, Apr. 23, By LAURA OPPENHEIMER

More of this post »

Sunday, April 22, 2007

The Establishment reflects

State monopoly daily donates data to Mayor's 'visionPDX'

<i>The Oregonian</i> Completes Documentation Of Liberal, Upper-Middle-Class Existence

The Onion

The Oregonian Completes Documentation Of Liberal, Upper-Middle-Class Existence

PORTLAND, Ore.—Editors have documented every single existential crisis or self-congratulatory epiphany that has been or could be experienced by a left-leaning agnostic.

More of this post »

Saturday, April 21, 2007

We reap what we sow

The day they kicked God out of schools

More of this post »

Friday, April 20, 2007

Governor gets giddy

Inside the Capitol
Campaigning during session is effective for Democrats

Tim Nesbitt engineered the 2006 Democrat takeover of the Oregon Legislature that ended 16 years of GOP neglect. When he was AFL-CIO president, few dared cross him. Now, he's become the successful boss of Gov. Kulongoski's office with an ability to chat up Republicans while retaining his Democrat and 'fusionist' Working Families Party street cred.

But a recent letter Nesbitt sent to his trial lawyer pals and corporate socialists in the regulated monopoly sector has provoked some Republicans and even some fellow unionists to wonder if he's flexed his political muscle a bit too hard.

In the March 26 letter, obtained by The Oregonion, Nesbitt boasts of "the tremendous power of the public employee unions" this session. He then suggests it's time not only to relish past victories, but also to use little-noticed legislation to cement power at the Democrat-controlled Legislature. "The make-up of the Legislature generally doesn't bode well for our opposition," Nesbitt writes.

On its face, the letter appears to be a fairly routine political communique. It's written on letterhead of Our Oregon, the OEA - SEIU political campaign group known as the 800-lb. gorilla of Oregon politics.

But overt campaign activity is considered bad form when the Legislature is in session. The focus is supposed to be on passing laws and making policy, not on setting the stage for a partisan coup.

That's been Nesbitt's vocation his entire career. At the moment, Nesbitt is an embedded lobbyist whose job is to persuade the gavel-wielding Democrats to pass bills that benefit organized labor, such as government unions who collect forced dues from teachers and staff at our kids' schools.

Then he only has to get those bills to Gov. Ted Kulongoski, a Democrat who, yes, has deep union ties.

"It's not that unusual to see a lobbyist attack the minority, especially since there are no labor bills that the Republicans have the numbers to stop," said Kulongoski's spokeswoman, Anna Richter Taylor. "To be as explicit as this? Such a sharp partisan appeal right in the middle of a session can be very productive for the party treasury."

Asked about the letter, Nesbitt smiles his signature Cheshire cat grin. It's clear it wasn't meant for general consumption, but now that it's out there - OK. "I sent it to 40 of my closest friends," he says. "All it is, is sharing some information with folks that I deal with."

The letter included a sheet of information from the National Education Association, an out-of-state union that has pumped millions of dollars into Nesbitt's political takeover of Oregon. The information included a chart highlighting shrewdly-coordinated in-kind campaign contributions to Our Oregon's "44 and No More" 2006 program by Si Newhouse, out-of-state owner of The Oregonian.

"I feel it important for me to share with you some of the news regarding The Oregonian as the Legislature progresses through the process," Nesbitt writes. And he goes on, "If you are interested in receiving this type of information, please send me your e-mail address."

Nesbitt said he wrote the letter after reading articles in The Oregonion about organized labor's influence at the Legislature. It wasn't intended as a fundraising letter, he says, adding that it accurately reflects what's happening in Salem.

But to some Republicans, and even some less partisan interests at the Capitol, it appears as though Nesbitt is getting a head start on the next election. House Minority Leader Wayne Scott, a major factor in giving GOP control away to the government unions, says it's no surprise that Nesbitt is pimping for Democrats. "That's what he does," said Scott.

"We're all aware of people's extracurricular activities," Scott says. "But he might want to work on his timing. We try to limit these activities during the session - to keep the legislative process as pure as possible," he says. "We're always hopeful the unions will do the same."

The Oregonian, Apr. 20, By HARRY ESTEVE

More of this post »

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Measure 37 Agonistes

Oregon's epic battle against the will of the people
Agreement eludes lawmakers, Big Labor turns up the heat

Si Newhouse, out-of-state billionaire owner of The Oregonian and ardent opponent of others' property rights, has a message for Oregon legislators: you are running out of time to overturn Oregon's twice-approved property rights restoration initiative, Measure 37. No-growth advocates like newspaper editors dismiss ordinary Oregonians as 'greedy', and their will as 'wrong-minded.'

Six-month deadlines are coming due for county action on applications filed in December that open the door to investment and local tax-base growth that has been stunted by 37 years of stifling land-use regulation.

Landowners who have properly filed claims that have already been approved by counties have been left hanging, since the Legislature threatens to take away their opportunity to build - even though they have obeyed the letter of the law. With hope for a bipartisan repeal effort fading, government union leaders now say that Newhouse will have to ante up even more 'political cover' with increasingly strident anti-M37 news and opinion 'coverage' before they can coddle together a repeal majority.

"We're running out of time," said Rep. Greg Macpherson, D-Lake Oswego. "We need to put something together that will attract a sufficient number of votes."

Individual rights - like property rights - have been this session's most contentious issues, with competing calls to socialize, or collectivize, most individual rights that Oregonians have come to take for granted.

Voters ousted Republicans in 2006, giving Oregon the most bright-line Labor governments in the nation. Labor gives people two options: join the union or go away. Officials in eight counties say they welcome M37 and tax-base growth. All the other Oregon counties, like the state Legislature itself, are locked up by Labor and are lobbying the legislature for M37 repeal.

M37 claimants have invested too much time and energy to be strung along, said land-use attorney Jim Zupancic, who founded Measure 37 Claimants for Fairness. "People who are in the process right now are wondering," he said. "It's difficult to decide what you should be doing when the rules might change."

Legislators say that violating property-rights restoration has been tricky. Democrats had to create and stack a 10-member Land Use Un-Fairness Committee and bar expert Republicans from participating.

Early proposals to freeze claims during negotiations crumbled. More recently, a nominally-bipartisan work group led by ex-AFL-CIO president Tim Nesbitt, who now runs Gov. Kulongoski's office. Nesbitt claims they got close to agreement after weeks of private debate, but in fact, members clashed over details. And they grew even farther apart last week, when Democrats rolled out their own proposal with even more differences.

Committee members will formally debate for the first time tonight. Discussions are likely to be tense, judging by recent barbs traded everywhere from news releases to the Senate floor. One committee member, Sen. Larry George, R-Sherwood, said the panel should have given negotiated changes as a group. "There's no need to have a crisis here," said George, a longtime property rights advocate. "Yet, for some reason, we're sitting here with this deadline coming up."

The committee's Democratic co-chairmen, Macpherson and Sen. Floyd Prozanski of Eugene, said they prefer a wholesale Measure 37 repeal to a piecemeal approach. They anticipate voting on something to send to the full Legislature next week. "The sooner Labor gets its way, the better," Prozanski said. "It will give certainty for everyone."

The Oregonian, Apr. 19, By LAURA OPPENHEIMER

More of this post »

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Bill Clinton does Oregon

"Democrats must build more bridges."
Growing voter distrust to require massive public investment

Oregon needs to put more Democrats first and rebuild its aging political infrastructure, ex-President Bill Clinton told a partisan Portland audience Tuesday night.

"Hillary and I don't want to lift ourselves up by keeping other Democrats down," Clinton said. "We'll still have our differences and arguments, but when Hillary is President people will think we're a beacon of hope again. That's what I want to have happen."

Clinton spoke to an adoring audience in the sold-out Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall as the first speaker in the Socialist World Affairs Council of Oregon's 2007 International Speaker Series. The series has established a reputation in recent years for drawing high-profile collectivist leaders, including heads of state and Nobel laureates.

In a discussion intended to cover the challenges facing Oregon in a globalizing world, Clinton urged the Oregon Legislature and the Portland City Commission to tackle a broad sweep of the Labor agenda from health care reforms to biodiesel to Middle East peace.

Speaking without notes, he quoted statistics on union membership and explained how strikes are used to further "legitimate collective bargaining objectives." He offered his own proposal for stability - criminalizing more employment practices and increasing union organizing in both the private sector and public sector.

The crowd included Oregon's elite elected officials, labor bosses, and trial lawyers. They gave Clinton a standing ovation when he walked on stage after being introduced about 20 minutes late. His wife and her presidential campaign were technically absent from his road show, but clearly on everyone's mind.

Clinton challenged the Portland audience members to show America the vaunted "third way" between capitalism and communism. "This is an outward-looking city, and the whole Northwest has on balance benefited from Democratic majorities," he said.

"It's an unequal world, an insecure world - and so it shall be - until Hillary and I get back in," Clinton said. Already looking toward a second Hillary term, Clinton said, "Re-election is always, always, always cheaper than going to war."

The Oregonian, Apr. 18., By DYLAN RIVERA

More of this post »

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Pulitzers missing

The Oregonian cannot find two prizes
Three nominations, but only one award to "staff"

In a nod to Oregon's emerging collectivism under the leadership of out-of-state billionaire Oregonian owner Si Newhouse, a Pulitzer Prize was awarded yesterday to the staff of the statewide monopoly daily. The Pulitzer committee failed to cite an individual reporter in recognizing the paper's criticism of Oregon's public safety system in the breaking news category.

Cheers and whistles erupted on the fourth floor of The Oregonian as word of the prize flashed on a screen at noon. But the self-congratulation and bonhomie quickly turned to into a frantic search when publisher Fred Stickel and editors realized they had lost two awards to competitors.

Editor Sandy Rowe, speaking after the pop of champagne corks had faded, said the missing awards reflect a big mistake by the Pulitzer committee and vowed to contest the results. "The truth is that many of you in the newsroom, and some people who are not here today, have been ripped off," Rowe said. "This will not stand."

The Oregonian was a finalist in two other categories in the 2007 Pulitzers - national reporting and feature writing. The Boston Globe won in national reporting for detailing President Bush's use of signing statements to bypass provisions of new laws. And the feature writing prize went to The New York Times.

The Oregonian's executive editor, Peter Bhatia, called out the Globe and Times as unworthy winners. "Si Newhouse allows us to lobby. But these two papers took the Pulitzer Committee to places where even Si wouldn't let us go," Bhatia said, referring to the spendy red light districts in the larger cities of Boston and New York. "The results were truly spectacular."

Rowe glumly pointed out that many other staff members were involved on the nominating committees, increasing the chances that the beleaguered monopoly daily would receive at least one prize. "Not winning three prizes is a huge tragedy for us," she said.

An official investigation funded by Newhouse will be conducted by the Oregon State Sheriffs' Association into the competing papers' lobbying efforts, but experts say it is unlikely to turn up hard evidence of wrongdoing.

"A high purpose of journalism is to reveal systemic problems in our own procedures," Rowe said. "That's what we did since the Tom Hallman-Andrew Wiederhorn bribery scandal. I'm sorry the Pulitzer committee did not recognize our work that has helped spur improvements at The Oregonian."

The Oregonian, Apr. 17, By STEPHEN CARTER

More of this post »

Monday, April 16, 2007

Unions' building boom

'Nesbitt dividend' rolls in for OEA, SEIU
Political contributions will be boosted, too

When constructions companies break ground on six new teacher and school service workers union halls in the Portland area this summer, the money used to build them is coming right out of taxpayers' pockets. Voters in six districts passed construction bond measures in November 2006 totaling nearly $700 million.

At the time, they thought the money was going for schools and classrooms. Now voters are finding out that those millions will, in addition, provide a comfortable atmosphere for government union organizers to relax and recharge, as well as state-of-the-art 'war rooms' for labor's political election campaigns.

Adding union dues from quick-growing school districts will help the economy as teachers become "more productive Oregonians," said Patty Wentz, spokesperson for Our Oregon, the coalition of government unions known as the 800-lb. gorilla of Oregon politics.

"Of all the places where the public sector could spend its money, teacher unions are likely to pay the highest dividends," Wentz said. "Investments in union labor, which is what Oregon's students will become, has historically resulted in higher wages and better benefits like PERS. It's an easy call to make. A no-brainer."

According to Oregon labor's economic experts, unions, especially in the public sector, contribute to a good public infrastructure, which attracts more people to the state, further bolstering the economy.

Not all the construction is coming from bonds. David Douglas High School is using $7 million of its reserves for a new teacher union hall after voters there rejected a $45 million bond measure.

As districts spend millions, Wentz said, the money will produce many more millions as political and media consultants get in the food chain. The multiplier effect for the bonds will probably be .8, she said, meaning one new dollar of construction spending would trigger $.80 in spending on consultants.

Many corporations are involved in the new projects, making them likely suspects for huge political donations when the labor election machine springs into action, according to Wentz. These companies include two that have already disclosed giving thousands of dollars for campaigns to approve the bonds - Mahlum Architects ($2,500) and Skanska Building USA ($12,500).

The Oregonian, Apr. 16, By CASEY PARKS (not available online)

More of this post »

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Portland has five mayors

Needed: a legitimate form of government
How many mayors are enough? Voters to decide May 15.

Portland's Five-Mayor form of government is a municipal curiosity, worthy of a sideshow. Stuff it and put it in a museum, by all means. But this is no way to run a big city.

A group of citizens who studied our peculiar system concluded we really need only one mayor. The group recommended a package of reforms on the May 15 ballot that would create a City Council, giving the four city commissioners a legislative and ombudsman role.

You may think they have this already, but when you're one of five mayors, you have government unions to mollify. So instead, they each focus, narrowly, on labor's election campaign politics, while completely looking the other way at what's wrong with each other's bureaus.

When Commissioner Randy Leonard dug deeply into the park bureau's budget, for instance, both he and Commissioner Dan Saltzman were sharply criticized for breaking the unwritten rule at City Hall: "Mind Your Own Business." Leonard had dared to question another commissioner's department, and that commissioner, Saltzman, had failed to rise in defense of "his" bureau.

This is nutty, and routine. It works to stifle scrutiny of our $2.1 billion city government. Under the new form of government, voters would replace MYOB with new marching orders for the city commissioners: Mind Our City.

A chief administrative officer, reporting to one mayor, would run the city bureaus. The mayor would be stronger, too. OK, so Grampy isn't that strong of a personality. But theoretically, the mayor but wouldn't have veto power and would still need the council's consent for key appointments.

This change is so logical that many voters will wonder why it didn't happen decades ago. Every other big city in America, after all, has dropped the Multi-Mayor form of government.

But here, our city commissioners love mixing executive and legislative functions. For them, being a politician unlimited by the separation of powers doctrine is a blast - an instant power base, laboratory, playground and stage. Imagine if other cities, states and even the nation followed Portland's lead and dispensed with one of the most important legal underpinnings in our libertarian-leaning Constitutions - horrors!

Just consider the near-quadrupling in price of the aerial tram - although we still don't know the actual final cost. So-called 'management responsibility' for the tram was deliberately dispersed among bureaus. As a result, no one in the city was dogging it to ensure construction contracts were written to yield the best deal for the city. So they were written in favor of the labor trade unions, and taxpayers got another raw deal.

Putting a chief administrative officer in charge of all bureaus wouldn't guarantee success, but it would minimize blind spots, blunders and financial failures. The change would adjust the bureaus' default position from "do-your-politics-thing and let the taxpayer beware" to "let's work on this government union problem and save money."

There'd still be plenty of thrills under the Portland bigtop. But if voters approve the new government structure, Portland would no longer be run like a circus. For a change, our city would actually be run like a city that works.

But don't count on it. City voters are almost totally checked-out ... blissin' in the first 100 days of the new collectivism after the 2006 elections. The government unions are the only ones stepping up to the plate. Clearly, they have enough organized political power and campaign cash to preserve the Five-Mayor form of government and defeat the other reform measures on the May ballot.

The Oregonian, Apr. 15, OPINION By THE EDITORS

More of this post »

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Pulitzer awards eagerly awaited

Print journalism's ugly standards on display
The Oregonian expects at least one of three nominees to win

If Tom Hallman - The Oregonian's Pulitzer-prize winning reporter - didn't immediately see the line that he crossed by accepting bribes from Oregon's own nationally notorious union pension fraud criminal, that was nobody's fault but that of longtime publisher Fred Stickel. Hot-shot reporters in one-paper, news-monopoly cities have always danced on that line.

Hallman is the whitewasher who helped put a smiley face on the Andrew Wiederhorn story, leaving a lot of obvious places unexplored due to the abundance of union/mob connections. He is the paper's original Pulitzer-winner, suddenly disgraced on the eve of this year's award selections. The Oregonian has three nominations, thanks to over-representation on nominating committees.

It is hard to remember now what a powerful force Pulitzer prizes once were in the nation's newsrooms. Winners were named among of the 25 Most Influential People in America. They were inducted into the National Reporters Hall of Fame. You don't have to read very much in any American city before you can grasp the Pulitzers' importance. It goes far beyond hypocrisy, double standards, and the crude treatment of wealthy Republicans, conservative Democrats and manly-men.

Remember The New York Times award-winning reporter who, it turns out, made it all up? And the same with a reporter from The Washington Post? Both were pushing make-believe, bleeding-heart, union-planted stories and angles.

The Oregonians' defenders will cry that it's unfair to tar them with any of those outrageous journalistic stunts, which played out back east under the nose of its out-of-state owner, the Manhattan media magnate billionaire, Si Newhouse. Maybe it is, but it was his father Sam Newhouse and the other original one-paper monopolists who have so gleefully extracted hundreds of millions in profits from "unregulated tollbooths" in communities far from their own homes, unconcerned about what was acceptable, and what was not.

Over 50 years, Newhouse has shrewdly created a media empire of low humor and high-brow talk, usually with politicians looking for exposure, of any kind, and media celebrities who seemed to think it makes them look cool to talk trash with high-fashion celebs. Lately, his glitz-and glamor magazines like Vogue, Vanity Fair and GQ aren't as edgy, smart and popular with audiences and advertisers as they used to be. If they were, what difference would Pulitzer prizes make to him now?

We can only hope the Pulitzer award committee doesn't go too far and reward The Oregonian for its string of ethical lapses, circulation declines, and nauseating editorial stridency. American culture has changed, and Tom Hallman and The Oregonian couldn't resist reaching back in time, to a pre-internet era of under-the-table journalism. Hallman got away with journalistic 'murder' by accepting bribes from his subject, and escaped censure except for a couple of sensitivity sessions with Therese Bottomly.

Now that Hallman has been kicked off the company softball team, the Pulitzer award committee must realize that it's serious. However, Newhouse will be stunned if his profitable jewel of the west is denied at least one Pulitzer to crow over amidst its devastating troubles. He doesn't realize that people don't want to hear that kind of stuff anymore. But alert Oregonians know not to bet against Si Newhouse. So now it's our turn to be shocked. We'd better get used to it.

The Oregonian, Apr. 14, OPINION By THE EDITORS

More of this post »

Label Cloud