Writings and observations

harris ROBERT
HARRIS

 
Oregon
Outpost

When there is a mutually bargained for exchange for value, and one side is unable to deliver the promised value, in legal terms it’s called a failure of consideration.

What should be done if the Oregon Supreme Court overturns the PERS reforms that were part of the 2013 Legislaure’s “Grand Bargain” ?

In 2013, the State faced a budget crisis. State retirement costs were taking an ever increasing part of State and local budgets and Oregon education spending was losing ground and we continued to dwell in the bottom third of all states in per student spending. The solution was the Grand Bargain. The key elements of the deal were:

PERS changes. Reduce COLA’s, remove future legislators from coverage. (and other fixes)
Taxes: increase taxes on higher income Oregonians and eliminate the special medical tax deduction for higher income seniors. Increase cigarette taxes. Decrease taxes for pass through (S-Corp and LLC) business owners
Eliminate the power of local entities to regulate GMO’s
One time spending bump for schools

The GMO bill was a pay off for someone and not a key to the bargain. The key bargain- or exchange of consideration – between the Democrats and the Republicans was the trade off between PERS changes and taxes. And the key result was the school spending bump.

Immediately after the Grand Bargain was passed, the PERS changes were challenged in court. The challenge was fast tracked to the Oregon Supreme Court. All briefing was to be complete by early September and arguments are to be heard in October 2014. Unfortunately, the Oregon Supreme Court will not be able to issue an opinion before the November election.

But what if the Courts strike some or all of the PERS changes? If it does, the Legislature will have to address the huge gap the Court will have blown in the budget.

If that occurs, there is a failure of consideration for the Grand Bargain, and the question become; does the 2015 Legislature have a moral obligation to rebalance the grand bargain by either coming up with other PERS changes that would withstand judicial scrutiny, or in effect rescind that part of the grand bargain that was a key trade off for many Republicans by eliminating the tax cuts for pass through entities.

Back in 2013, I argued that the Legislature should simply pass a bill with all possible PERS changes with a target for savings and a list of priorities. The Court could then evaluate the lawfulness of each of the changes starting with the top of the list and stop their evaluation when they reached the target savings number. I called it the Spaghetti against the wall proposal. Throw it there, and see what sticks. That is still an option and actually was similar to what Dennis Richardson has recently proposed doing. On the other hand, Kitzhaber has made it clear that if these PERS changes get stuck down, he will not address any other PERS changes. Meaning he will have to cut spending, or increase taxes.

I suggest that should PERS changes fail, then it’s a failure of consideration of the Grand Bargain and the Democrats would be perfectly within their rights to renege on the tax cuts to pass through corporations. Or, we can keep the tax cuts, live with PERS without the savings, and eliminate the extra spending on schools.

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Harris

Bond DAVID
BOND

 
Wallace St

Ritual is these days pretty much ignored or even despised, unless you’re a gangsta wannabe who has to shoot a school-aged child to get yourself into the inner circle.

Ritual – the rite of initiation – used to be of great value to this country, at least to its male component. The rite of initiation used to humble us and make us human beings.

I can’t claim to surviving Marine Corps boot camp training, as my father can. Nor did I attend the Air Force Academy, as my great kid brother did. But between initiation into Phi Delta Theta and a summer camp doing officer’s boot with the USAF, I learned the lesson. Trouble is, the lesson has to be beaten into you.

One purpose of the rite of initiation is to grind you down and humiliate you beyond belief. In this age of artificially pumped up self-esteem, the “attaboy” for showing up for school once or twice a week even as you drool in a stoned stupor on your textbook, it’s outright archaic.

Here’s why the rite of initiation is not archaic: It turns wild young boys into human beings.

How does this happen?

Your masters, whether military NCOs and officers, or the seniors of your college fraternity, beat the living crap out of your ego. You are, at the end of weeks of physical exhaustion, forced to turn to some guy you never liked and beg him for help. And, funny thing is, he needed your help, too, and so did the chap next to you.

I will give a simple example, from a Phi Delt initiation. We pledges were placed in a circle and forced to do curl-ups until we were all about ready to croak, wearing buckets containing onions about our necks for a week. Not a dandy way to pick up girls from sorority row.

Hours and hours of this, after days of no sleep and all the time being screamed at. We could do no more curl-ups.

Then, one-by-one, a consciousness spread among us. The big asshole Hawaiian football player grabbed my arm and helped me do one more pull-up. By instinct I grabbed the guy on my left, whose name I cannot remember, and grabbed him up, and the three of us got ourselves up, and within the space of a minute we were all of us in that circle, arms locked, together, nobody better than anybody else. It wasn’t about me anymore. It was about us, and we could do curl-ups together all night long.

At that moment, we got “it.” We were liberated spirits because we had become united. Ain’t nobody better than anybody else. Some went on to greatness and built great things. Others became street bums, legislators or journalists.

It doesn’t matter, because the rite of initiation gave us all the same starting line and, I believe, the same humility and sense of humanity. It is a rite sadly missing.

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Bond

news

On the list of clearly and obviously idiotic governmental regulations, the planned (actually, long-standing interim rule which may be made permanent) rule on wilderness photography must have a place of honor. Regulation of activity in wilderness areas start from a rational premise, that man should visit but not stay and that his footprint should be as light as possible. And you can see the argument if someone (news organizations included) want to bring in equipment larger than a photographer can carry on his person. Short of that, how does the photo rule (as reported on by a string of Northwest papers today), which may require $1,500 permits even of ordinary visitors to the lands and allows government employees to decide which news stories merit wilderness photography and which don’t, serve to protect the condition of wilderness areas? It could undermine them instead if it infuriates people about the idea of designating lands as wilderness (hello, Boulder-White Clouds).

Here’s what public affairs news made the front page of newspapers in the Northwest today, excluding local crime, features and sports stories. (Newspaper names contracted with location)

Forest Service plans wilderness photo rules (Boise Statesman, Lewiston Tribune)
Judge Lodge takes senior status (Boise Statesman, Nampa Press Tribune)
First gubernatorial date held, minus otter (IF Post Register, TF Times News)
Capital for a day meets Lenore (Lewiston Tribune)
Pedestrian mall maybe for downtown Lewiston (Lewiston Tribune)
Questions arising about Lochsa land deal (Moscow News)
C of I adds to faculty, for more students (Nampa Press Tribune)
Clothes store wants to build at canyon rim (TF Times News)

New connector trail west of Corvallis set (Corvallis Gazette)
Family working on pot dispensary business (Corvallis Gazette)
Demolition of old city hall approved (Eugene Register Guard)
Klamath county working on air quality (KF Herald & News)
Gold Hill may set 25% pot tax (Medford Tribune)
Forest Service plans wilderness photo rules (Salem Statesman Journal, Medford Tribune)
Pendleton library considers new services (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Potatoes have above average season (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Stanfield may get low-income housing (Pendleton E Oregonian)
Reviewing 2nd District U.S. House race (Portland Oregonian)
Fires break records in 2014 in Oregon (Portland Oregonian)

Harrison medical sets plans for Silverdale (Bremerton Sun)
Ferries gather input from riders (Bremerton Sun)
Glacier Peak to be watched closer for eruptions (Everett Herald)
Group formed on Everett homelessness (Everett Herald)
4th district candidates talk up Hanford (Yakima Herald Republic, Kennewick Herald)
Group urges pot laws tightened on in-car use (Tacoma News Tribune, Olympian)
Big tidal wetland created near Cathlamet (Longview News)
Flat water fee considered in Port Angeles (Port Angeles News)
Clallam auditor race reviewed (Port Angeles News)
Seattle cops test body cameras (Seattle Times)
Halfway mark reached in light rail extension (Seattle Times)
Avista moving some big gas lines (Spokane Spokesman)
Selah considers ‘all inclusive’ park (Yakima Herald Republic)

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