The Clackamas County Commission Chair position is nonpartisan, right?

bernardludlow

Jim Bernard (R) is challenging John Ludlow (L)

The Clackamas County Commission Chair position is nonpartisan, right? Don’t believe it.

The race between Jim Bernard and John Ludlow for Chair of the Clackamas County Board of Commissioners make the partisanship clear.

Start with a look at Bernard’s endorsers in the Oregon Voters Pamphlet:

  • Congressman Kurt Schrader     (Democrat)
  • Representative Brent Barton     (Democrat)
  • Representative Shemia Fagan  (Democrat)
  • Representative Carolyn Tomei (Democrat)
  • Milwaukie Mayor Mark Gamba (Democrat)
  • Milwaukie UFCW Local 555
  • Oregon League of Conservation Voters (A wholly owned subsidiary of the Democratic Party)

 

Now, let’s look at Bernard’s principal campaign contributors in 2016:

  • United Food and Commercial Workers local 555                            $23,841.46
  • Clackamas County Democratic Central Committee (293)           $12,473.90
  • Blumenauer for Congress                                                                       $ 8,877.79
  • Joint Council of Teamsters No. 37 Political Fund (80)                   $ 7,000.00
  • Oregon AFSCME Council 75                                                                    $ 5,000.00
  • Local 48 Electricians PAC (4572)                                                           $ 4,500.00
  • Pacific Northwest Regional Council of Carpenters                         $ 2,650.00
  • AFSCME Local 350 Political Fund                                                          $ 1,500.00
  • Plumbers & Steamfitters PAC (221)                                                      $ 1,500.00
  • Willamette Women Democrats PAC (5534)                                        $ 1,250.00
  • Oregon Laborers Political Action Committee (16480)                    $ 1,000.00
  • Oregon League of Conservation Voters (2352)                                  $ 1,000.00
  • NW Regional Council NCA 91                                                                  $ 1,000.00
  • IUPAT Intl Union of Painters and Allied Trades                                $ 1,000.00
  • Amalgamated Transit Union 757 Political Fund (3094)                  $    800.00
  • Professional Firefighters PAC #3219 (3219)                                        $    750.00
  • Oregon Truck PAC                                                                                        $    500.00
  • Oregon Trail Democrats (10087)                                                             $    300.00

According to records filed with the Oregon Secretary of State, Bernard’s campaign for Clackamas County Chair has raised $176,532.81 in 2016. This includes $18,080.35 in loans and $18,480.35 of in-kind contributions (Total: $36,560.70) to the campaign from Bernard’s Garage Inc.

Subtracting the personal loans and Bernard’s Garage in-kind contributions, Bernard’s campaign has raised $139,972.11. Of that, $74,943.15 has come just from state and federal Democratic party organizations, Democratic office holders and unions.

In other words, at least 54 percent of the contributions to Bernard’s campaign have come from state and federal Democratic party organizations, Democratic office holders and unions.

Still think the Commission Chair race is nonpartisan?

 P.S. – I sent a copy of this story to Clackamas County Clerk Sherry Hall. She responded “Yes”. Maybe all she read was the headline.

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

Here comes Hillary…and Elizabeth Warren

Yes, I know, the election isn’t even over, but stop for a moment and think what it’s going to be like after Hillary Clinton’s ascendancy.

For one thing, are you ready for Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and her anti-business agenda?

elizabethwarrendma

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)

Warren, a fierce slash-and-burn progressive, is already flexing her muscles, getting ready for Hillary’s administration.

Her first demand? That President Obama dismiss Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairman Mary Jo White.

Warren claims she wants White out because she won’t devise and enforce an SEC rule that would force companies to disclose their political donations. But White will likely leave the SEC anyway when the next president assumes office. Warren’s real objective is to make sure she has a voice in selection of the next chairman in a Clinton Administration and that the new chairman advances Warren’s full left-wing agenda.

The effort to force disclosure of corporate political contributions has been underway for some time, with limited success.

In October 2013, White declined to pursue a rule, saying said disclosure rules pushed by outside groups “seem more directed at exerting societal pressure on companies to change behavior, rather than to disclose financial information that primarily informs investment decisions.”

In May 2015, the nonprofit Campaign for Accountability filed a lawsuit seeking to force the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission to adopt a rule requiring publicly traded companies to disclose political contributions.

In August 2015, 44 senators (42 Democrats, including Warren, plus independents Bernie Sanders and Angus King) signed a letter to White urging her to require that public companies disclose their spending on political campaigns, but White has not complied and in Jan. 2016, U.S. District Judge Rosemary Collyer in Washington, D.C. dismissed the Campaign for Accountability’s lawsuit.

That has left disclosure advocates with only the options of pressuring individual companies to take action or submitting shareholder proposals on the issue.

The vast majority of shareholder proposals have failed to garner sufficient support. But the effort to put pressure on companies is robust, led by the Center for Political Accountability (CPA). The CPA issues an annual report, the CPA-Zicklin Index, that claims to benchmark the political disclosure and accountability policies and practices of leading U.S. public companies. The Index’s list of companies is based on the S&P 500.

In its Sept. 2016 report, the CPA said 153 companies engaged by CPA and/or its investor partners have adopted political disclosure and accountability policies using the Center’s proposed model. Overall, the report said, 305 companies have adopted some level of political disclosure and accountability.

CPA hopes its steady pressure, combined with some public wins, will force companies into compliance. “As the number of companies adopting disclosure and accountability policies grows, companies do not want to be seen as outliers,” says CPA Director Bruce Freed.

Critics of the CPA assert that the disclosure push is driven more by a desire to inhibit business participation in the political process, to mute the business community’s voice in political and public policy debates, than to increase transparency.

“The strategy of pressuring companies to voluntarily disclose the details of their spending on public policy engagement for the purpose of reducing that engagement is, in fact, their ultimate goal,” U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Donohue, Business Roundtable President John Engler and National Association of Manufacturers President and CEO Jay Timmons said in an Oct. 2015 letter to business leaders across the country.

Critics of the disclosure push also say the criteria by which companies are judged in the CPA-Zicklin Index are often arbitrary and vague and incorporate moving targets year-to-year.

In a classic case of do as I say, not as I do, the CPA does not disclose the identities of its own contributors. The sections of Annual CPA reports to the I.R.S. where contributor’s names can be listed are blank and a request to CPA Director Bruce Freed for such information went unanswered.

An SEC disclosure rule will be just one of Warren’s objectives in a Clinton Administration, many of which will differ from Clinton’s agenda. As The Nation, a long-time progressive magazine, put it, “The inalterable really is that (Warren’s) agenda is fundamentally different from the agenda Clinton will want too pursue.”

Clinton will likely try to squirm out of some of the more rigid progressive demands, but Warren won’t give up.

As Warren told a New Populism conference:

“The game is rigged. The rich and the powerful have lobbyists, lobbyists and lawyers and plenty of friends in Congress. Everyone else, not so much. Now we can whine about it. We can whimper. Or we can fight back.

Me? I’m fighting back.”

 

 

 

Economists endorsing Measure 97: not as good as it looks

dilbert-economist-3

Yes on 97 aggressively trumpets that Measure 97 enjoys widespread support among economists.

To learn the reason for such support, I queried some of the economists identified as Measure 97 endorsers.

“Higher taxes on corporations are exactly what’s needed to spur equitable growth,” said Dr. Susan Feiner, professor of economics at the University of Southern Maine.

“No one likes paying taxes, but the State of Oregon needs revenue, and Measure 97 is a reasonable way to raise it,” said Anders Fremstad, Asst. Professor of Economics at Colorado State University.

 “…I spent my career at Portland State, where two decades of relentless cuts have resulted in declining quality in what we offer students…,” said Mary King, Professor Emerita, Economics Dept., Portland State University. “I have been thinking for years about how we could turn around our state, and invest in education the way that other states do.
After carefully reading all of the analyses of the measure, meeting with the authors of the studies to talk with them, and then with other economists, I am in complete support of Measure 97.”

“It is high time to address the widening income inequalities right across countries and the world at large,” said Muttukrishna Sarvananthan, Development Economist & Principal Researcher at the Point Pedro Institute of Development in Sri Lanka. “Tax policy is one tool that could help narrow the widening income gap across communities and countries; raising taxes on corporations is one such policy tool.”

All in all, Yes on 97 lists 89 economists as endorsers of Measure 97. The list includes economists affiliated with schools such as Rutgers University, University of California-Berkeley, Northeastern University, Howard University, Bowdoin College, the University of South Australia and Anadolu University in Turkey.

No question it’s a long list, but a couple things stand out.

One is that just 18 of the 89 economists cited as supporters of Measure 97 are from Oregon*.

For a tax measure that its backers say is widely supported, the limited number of economist endorsers from Oregon challenges that assertion.

Another thing that stands out is the clear, and disturbing, anti-capitalism bent of some of the economists.

One endorser, Michael Meeropol, Professor Emeritus of Economics at Western New England University, is the younger son of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, who were convicted and executed on Jun 19, 1953 for passing secrets of the atomic bomb to the Soviet Union. Meeropol calls himself a “New Leftist” and is calling for “…a fundamental restructuring of neoliberal, globalized capitalism.”

“Whether you hold your nose and vote for Clinton and Kaine, decide to vote for Green Party Candidate Jill Stein, or sit out the election entirely, don’t accept that you are voting for a “progressive” unless you are voting for someone whose program at least seeks to restructure, if not destroy, today’s rapacious capitalism,” Meeropol says in his blog.

Another endorser, Yan Liang, Associate Professor of Economics at Willamette University, is an active member of The Union for Radical Political Economics, which says its mission “…involves a continuing critique of both the capitalist system, and of all forms of exploitation and oppression” with a goal of constructing a “radical alternative to capitalism.”

Endorser Robert Pollin is Co-Director of the Political Economy Research Institute at University of Massachusetts-Amherst. The economics department of the university is known for its Marxist traditions and radical economics. Pollin is also a member of the Union of Radical Political Economics, which represents the nation’s Marxist economists.

Then there’s endorser Martin Hart-Landsberg, Professor Emeritus of Economics at Lewis & Clark College in Portland. “…it is capitalism (as a dynamic and exploitative system)…that must be challenged and overcome,” Hart-Landsberg wrote in Neoliberalism: Myths and Reality.

Maybe Yes on 97’s list of economists isn’t such a blessing to the campaign.

 

*Economists from Oregon supporting Measure 97

  1. Cliff Bekar, Professor and Chair of Economics at Lewis & Clark College
  2. Marty Hart-Landsberg, Professor Emeritus of Economics at Lewis and Clark College; Member of Workers’ Rights Board, Portland Jobs with Justice
  3. Justin Elardo, Instructor of Economics at Portland Community College
  4. David Ervin, Professor Emeritus of Environmental Management and Economics at Portland State University
  5. John Gallup, Assoc. Professor of Economics at Portland State University
  6. Mary King, Professor of Economics at Portland State University
  7. James Woods, Assist. Professor of Economics at Portland State University
  8. John Hall, Professor of Economics at Portland State University
  9. Jerry Gray, Professor of Economics at Willamette University
  10. Yan Liang, Assoc. Professor of Economics at Willamette University
  11. Cathleen Whiting, Assoc. Professor of Economics at Willamette  University
  12. Tabitha Knight, Assist. Professor of Economics at Willamette University
  13. Margaret Hallock, Professor Emerita of Economics at University of Oregon
  14. Gordon Lafer, Professor and Political Economist at University of Oregon
  15. Hassan Pirasteh, Professor Emeritus of Economics at Southern Oregon University
  16. Linda Wilcox Young, Professor of Economics at Southern Oregon University
  17. Kevin Furey, Instructor of Economics at Chemeketa Community College
  18. Denise Hare, Professor of Economics at Reed College

 

Why Brad Avakian could win (sadly)

avakian750xx6016-3384-0-316

“Got ya fooled, don’t I?”

A local pollster told me awhile ago that about 50 percent of eligible voters in Oregon don’t know that the state has two U.S. senators (maybe because there’s only one senate race at a time).

KGW-TV reporter Pat Dooris recently held up two signs, one with the name Brad Avakian and the other with the name Dennis Richardson, and asked passersby in downtown Portland if they knew who the people were. All the answers? Nope. Nope. Nope.

I mention these situations because they demonstrate that a lot of voters are, in fact, a basket of deplorables in terms of political knowledge.

ignorance

Political knowledge levels have been poor for decades, despite increased education and the availability of information on the Internet.

A recent Fairleigh Dickinson University survey studied the “clueless factor” among voters. The survey found that only 34% of Americans can name the three branches of government, and 30% can’t even name one.

Other studies routinely find that large numbers of voters don’t know which officials are responsible for which issues, a circumstance that makes it hard to hold them accountable for their performance.

All that cluelessness bodes well for Brad Avakian.

Avakian is running for Oregon Secretary of State, but you’d never know it from his campaign. In a classic example of misdirection, instead of emphasizing his fit for the Secretary of State job, he’s running as a champion of liberal causes.

Look at one of his ubiquitous TV ads.

The ad notes that Avakian is endorsed by the Oregon League of Conservation Voters, the NARAL Pro Choice Oregon PAC, Planned Parenthood PAC of Oregon, Sierra Club Oregon Chapter, Oregon Education Association, and the Working Families Party.

Meanwhile, speakers in the ad emphasize how Avakian will protect the environment, break down the walls of discrimination, ensure a woman can make personal medical decisions about her pregnancy, and fight for regular people and not corporate special interests.

These topics have little to do with the job of the Oregon Secretary of State, but they do tug at the heartstrings of liberal voters. And that may well be what attracts enough voters to Avakian to make him the winner (and us the losers).

Measure 97 is just a Trojan horse for bigger government

biggovernment

The cat’s out of the bag.

Now we know what the Democrats and their union allies want with Measure 97.

It’s not the measure as written, with its deceptive promises of more money for education, healthcare and senior services. It’s $6 billion more out of taxpayer’s pockets each biennium that the Democrats can use to grow government, cover their disastrous PERS decisions over the years, reward their friends and punish their enemies.

Rep. Mitch Greenlick (D-Portland), when endorsing the measure in late 2015, said it would eliminate much of the constant need to choose between funding critical budget concerns each legislative session. “If that passes, we’ll have a lot of money to pay for stuff,” Greenlick said.

Stuff, indeed.

Oregonians who support Measure 97 because they believe Democrats’ claims that the revenue would be committed to education, healthcare and senior services are going to be mighty disillusioned if the Measure passes because, the fact is, the Legislature will be able to do just about anything it pleases with the resulting revenue.

On Aug. 1, 2016, the nonpartisan Office of the Legislative Counsel confirmed this when it released an opinion. “Section 3 would not bind a future legislature in its spending decisions,” wrote Chief Legislative Counsel Dexter Johnson in the opinion. “If Measure 97 becomes law, the Legislative Assembly may appropriate revenues generated by the measure in any way it chooses.”

It turns out that the Democrat-controlled Legislature could even change how the revenue is raised. Some people probably support Measure 97 now because they want to “put it to big business.” But there’s nothing to stop the Democrat-controlled Legislature from changing the entire tax formula, so long as it doesn’t result in more tax revenue, according to the Oct. 18 Portland Tribune. Only a simple majority of the Legislature would be required to approve changes in the formula, or anything else.

Sen. Mark Haas, D-Beaverton, Chairman of the Senate Finance and Revenue Committee, told the Tribune the Legislature can expect “a cavalcade of 10,000 lobbyists from every industry with valid stories about why their rates should be lower.”

And every one of those lobbyists will be expected to back up their pleas with campaign contributions, further exacerbating the already excessive role of money in Oregon politics.

A senior Democratic Legislator once defended Measure 97 as the best solution because there was no other option. Clearly, even the Democrats now believe that’s not the case.

Oregon’s Republican Party is committing suicide

seppuku_by_mark_san

It’s hard to watch a party self-destruct.

If you look at all the races on the Oregon ballot on Nov. 8, it’s clear that the Republican Party has largely abdicated its position as the loyal opposition.

It starts at the top with the U.S. Senate race. Anybody know who the Republican candidate is? His name is Mark Callahan. I can tell you he went to OSU. But his website doesn’t list any events he’s attending and OpenSecrets.org reports he has raised just $15,852 (compared with Democrat Ron Wyden’s fundraising total of $11.4 million).

The 3rd and 5th District races for the House of Representatives aren’t any better.

In the 3rd, which includes most of Multnomah County, including Portland east of he Willamette, 10-term Democrat Earl Blumenauer is opposed only by Progressive Party candidate, David Delk, who says he has no experience. OpenSecrets.org reports he has raised nothing (compared with Blumenauer’s fundraising total of $1.1 million). Of course, the 3rd has been held by a Democrat since January 1937.

In the 5th, the Republicans did manage to recruit Colm Willis to run against Democrat Kurt Schrader. Willis has deep Oregon roots, graduated from Willamette University’s School of Law and worked as a staff member on a U.S. Senate committee, but he has raised just $239,113 (compared with Schrader’s $1.6 million)

How about the governor’s race?

budpierce

Bud Pierce

Bud Pierce may be a great doctor and a nice guy, but he was invisible statewide, a cipher, until this election. He’s managed to raise $2.5 million, but Brown has raised $3.5 million and Oregon hasn’t elected a Republican governor since 1982.

An OPB poll released on Oct. 17 showed that Brown leads Pierce by an astonishing 46 percent to 33 percent. This despite the fact that even Willamette Week offered faint praise for Kate Brown, declaring, “Brown’s greatest political strength is her affability—and her ability, so far, to blame problems on her predecessor.”

Work your way down the Oregon ballot and it gets worse, with many Democrats facing NO republican opponent.

The Republican Legislative Campaign Committee (RLCC), a state-oriented national organization that seeks to elect Republicans to state legislatures, identified the Oregon State Senate and House of Representatives as targets in the 2016 elections. You’d never know it.

In the Oregon State Senate races, there’s no Republican candidate in the 14th, 18th, 21st, 22nd and 23rd Districts.

In House races, there’s no Republican candidate in the 9th, 27th, 34th, 35th, 36th, 42nd, 43rd, 44th, 45th, 46th, 47th and 49th Districts.

How in hell the Republicans ever hope to recover power in Oregon under these circumstances is beyond me. And that’s not healthy for Oregon. One party dominance leads to corruption, cronyism, recklessness and abuse of power.

The thing is, if the Republicans would focus on building a strong bench, skillfully build public awareness of those with the greatest potential, encourage them to run for office and back them up with ample financial support, they can win and change the dynamic of state politics.

Look at the 2010 race between Democrat John Kitzhaber and Republican Chris Dudley. Despite some clear errors in strategy and execution, Dudley captured 694,287 votes, only 22,238 fewer than Kitzhaber’s 716,525. Damn close. More promising for the Republicans, Dudley carried all but 7 of Oregon’s 36 counties.

2010governorrace

Blue counties: won by Kitzhaber;                 Red counties: won by Dudley

Lane and Multnomah Counties, two Kitzhaber won, may be a lost cause for Republicans, but if Dudley had been able to peel off more votes in the other 5 he might well have won.

In other words, offer appealing, moderate candidates, back them up with financial resources, run strong campaigns across Oregon and Republicans can win.

Selling Out: The League of Women Voters and Measure 97

leagueofwomenvotersoforegonlogo

Think you can trust the League of Women Voters for objective views on political issues?

The national League of Women Voters began in 1920, six months before the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified, giving women the right to vote.

The League defined itself as a nonpartisan group eager to assist women in carrying out their new responsibilities as voters.

“League founders believed that maintaining a nonpartisan stance would protect the fledgling organization from becoming mired in the party politics of the day… This holds true today,” the organization says on is current website.

Not so much in Oregon.

In this election, with their full-throated support for Measure 97, the League of Women Voters of Oregon is just another special interest group on the liberal/progressive side of public policy.

Like the Oregon League of Conservation Voters, the League of Women Voters of Oregon is coming across as a wholly owned subsidiary of the Democratic Party.

You’ve probably seen the ubiquitous TV ads featuring Alice Bartelt, second Vice President, League of Women Voters of Oregon. She urges a Yes vote on Measure 97, saying it “…dedicates funding to education, health care and senior services.”

That’s false. And Yes on 97 knows it.

For an organization claiming it “…encourages informed and active participation in government…,” the League is engaging in pure deception.

And it’s doing so on somebody else’s dime. It’s not until the end of the ad that you see, in pale lettering, PAID FOR BY YES ON 97. In other words, the two organizations are working in tandem to advance a flawed union-devised, Democrat-backed tax measure.