Gov. Brown’s Hiring Freeze: Too Little, Too Late

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Finally.

More than two months after Senate Republican Leader Ted Ferrioli of John Day called for a hiring freeze in Oregon’s public sector, Democratic Gov. Kate Brown has signed an executive order imposing a hiring freeze.

But it will only last until June 30 of this year. Too little. Too late.

In deciding on a hiring freeze, Brown’s no bold innovator. She’s following what more responsible states and businesses have done before.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, in an effort to strengthen state finances, imposed a state hiring freeze last year that whittled 1,161 employees from the payroll.

Nebraska Gov. Pete Ricketts, whose state missed revenue forecasts last fiscal year and is forecasting a miss again because of declines in farm income, also put on a hiring freeze for state employees. “As Nebraskans, we don’t spend money we don’t have,” Ricketts said.

Businessess pull back when they face financial challenges, too.

Macy’s, faced with unfavorable earnings, decided to shut down 68 stores and cut more than 10,000 jobs.

In December 2011, then Gov. John Kitzhaber, who was also facing budget troubles, ordered a hiring freeze. But when Gov. Brown released her recommended budget for 2017-19, she chose not to do the same.

In fact, with Oregon facing a $1.6 billion budget shortfall in the 2017-19 biennium, buried in the Governor’s initial budget was a proposal to actually increase the state government workforce from 38,737 in 2015-17 to 39,412 in 2017-19. That’s an increase of 675 full-time equivalent employees.

“Using the cost information from the Legislative Fiscal Office, this 1.7 percent increase would cost the state more than $120 million in compensation costs for the 2017-19 biennium,” according to Facing Reality, a Cascade Policy Institute report.

“A prudent step of a hiring freeze would free up resources and ward off some of the pressure to increase taxes, fees, and charges,” the report said.

An ever-expanding state is not sustainable without ever-increasing taxation.   If Oregon is to responsibly manage its finances, an across-the-board rigorously enforced hiring freeze, with stringent requirements for exceptions and restrictions on hiring contractors, should be imposed for the entire next biennium.

Surely the governor and Legislature, with a state workforce that’s already at 38,737, can find ways to meet the state’s needs by adjusting the workload and assignments of that workforce.

Take a leap folks. Do the right thing.

 

 

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Too Bad Sen. Merkley. Ossoff Bungled It.

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Why is this man smiling?

It was hard not to laugh.

I got an email from Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) today breathlessly proclaiming:

“Wow. In Georgia’s 6th District, Jon Ossoff scored a stunning primary election victory last night with 48% of the vote.”

Since Ossoff’s clear objective in yesterday’s special election was to secure at least 50 percent of the vote among 18 candidates so he could win the race outright and not have to face a single Republican in June, I’d hardly say, “Wow, what a victory.”

A much more honest statement from Merkley would have been, “Oh crap! Democrats spent $17.3 million to push this guy Ossoff across the 50 percent line and he blew it.”

Democrats across the country opened their wallets in support of Ossoff. All together Democrats donated $8.3 million to Ossoff’s campaign in the first quarter of 2017. On top of that, Center for Public Integrity’s Rachel Wilson has reported that super PACs, nonprofits and other groups independent of any candidate’s campaign spent $9 million on the Georgia 6th race.

Now Ossoff, a 30-year-old documentary filmmaker and former congressional staffer, will have to run in a 2-way race against just one Republican candidate, Karen Handel, in June, when he’ll lose. As Politico said put it, “The likelihood is if there’s a runoff, Republicans will coalesce around one candidate and take Ossoff down in June.”

But Merkley won’t be crying in his beer, because he hopes to raise some money for himself from this confrontation.

“Chip in right now and let’s show Trump that we’re not buying his spin—we’re in it to win it!,” Merkley blasted out in his email, urging folks to send $500 or more.

But he doesn’t want your money to go to “John Ossof for Congress”. No. That would be wrong. Instead, your contribution will go to “Jeff Merkley for Oregon.”

Yep. That’s the ticket.

 

 

 

$17 Million Democrat Dollars Down The Drain: The #Ossoff Election

Democratic Candidate For Georgia's 6th District Leading In Polls On Election Day

Oh well. Never mind.

Democrats across the country opened their wallets in support of Jon Ossoff, a Democratic candidate for Georgia’s Sixth Congressional District. Their goal, secure more than 50 percent of the April 18 special election vote, avoid a runoff and win a seat that Republicans have held since 1979.

All together Democrats donated $8.3 million to Ossoff’s campaign in the first quarter of 2017. On top of that, Center for Public Integrity’s Rachel Wilson has reported that super PACs, nonprofits and other groups independent of any candidate’s campaign spent another $9 million on the Georgia 6th race.

But Ossoff didn’t exceed 50 percent. Now Ossoff, a 30-year-old documentary filmmaker and former congressional staffer, will have to run in a 2-way race against just one Republican candidate in June. The likelihood is his Republican opponent will coast to a win.

So much for the Democrats’ hoped for repudiation of President Trump.

As for Ossoff. Oh well. Never mind.

Celebrities and Politics: Why Are Voters Attracted to Shiny Objects?

What is it about celebrities?

Democrat Jon Ossoff wants to win an open primary on April 18 so he can represent Georgia’s 6th Congressional District.

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Actress Alyssa Milano canvassed Ossoff’s district for him in March and offered voters a ride to an advance polling location.

According to various media, actors Alyssa Milano and Christopher Gorham‏, want Ossoff to win, too. Media tell us lots of other liberal celebrity actors support Ossoff as well, including Chelsea Handler, Kristen Bell, John Leguizamo, Sam Waterston, Connie Britton, Jessica Lange, Lynda Carter, Jon Cryer, Debra Messing, George Takei and Rhea Perlman.

I’m not sure yet where Kim Kardashian, who’s so well known for her political sophistication and deep thinking, stands on Ossoff’s race, but I’m sure the media will tell us if she ever blurts out something.

How did we get to the point where this matters, or at least reporters, reporters, pundits and political consultants think it does?

Did you know Elvis Presley supported Democrat Adlai Stevenson in the 1956 presidential election and John F. Kennedy in 1960, or that he shared his strong opinions on America’s cultural decline with President Nixon?

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President Nixon and Elvis Presley at the White House, 1970

Elvis was particularly incensed about the behavior of actress Jane Fonda, who was photographed at an anti-aircraft gun placement in Hanoi during the Vietnam war.

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Actress Jane Fonda at an anti-aircraft position in North Vietnam in July 1972

Like an updated Tokyo Rose, she’d also gone on Hanoi radio and petitioned American fighting men stationed to the south to lay down their arms because they were fighting an unjust war against the peace-loving North Vietnamese.

Did any of us care what Elvis thought about political issues? I don’t think so.

Did anybody vote for Adlai Stevenson because Elvis endorsed him? I doubt it.

How did we reach a point where the political opinions of pampered, self-absorbed, and often empty- headed celebrities influence our voting? It’s a virulent, ugly form of anti-intellectualism.

 Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised.

Americans are woefully uninformed about history and public policy. According to a Pew Research project, about a quarter of American adults (26%) say they haven’t read a book in whole or in part in the past year, whether in print, electronic or audio form.

A recent Fairleigh Dickinson University survey revealed that only 34 percent of registered voters can name the three branches of government, only 69 percent know which party controls the House of Representatives and just 21 percent can name the current Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.

Hard to believe, but according to Newsweek, 70 percent of Americans have no idea what the constitution, the country’s most important historical, political, and legal document even is.

But Americans do know the names, sexual proclivities, marital history, makeup choices, fashion choices and car crash-like personal lives of celebrities and, increasingly, they pay attention to their political opinions. And the media is thrilled to offer celebrities a platform to say what they think about climate change, refugees, the electoral college or whatever, no matter how nonsensical or shallow those views are or how hyping their views is a devaluation of actual expertise.

If there’s any hope it’s helpful to remember that celebrities like Katy Perry came out for Hillary in droves….and we know how that ended.

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