Risky business: Corporate messaging and abortion.

Remember when people used to buy products because they were well made, priced right and met their needs?

Corporate meddling in politically contentious issues to signal virtue of one kind or another has put an end to that.

Businesses have been trying to position themselves as good corporate citizens for years in order to bring about a more favorable operating environment, but earlier efforts focused on neutral moves like raising public awareness of such things as charitable contributions, employee volunteerism and hiring veterans.

Recently, however, companies have been more willing to take public stands on truly controversial issues in order to raise their public profile… and sell more products.  And it just happens to be that federal and state lawmakers are simultaneously using abortion politics to rile their voters ahead of the 2020 election.

An example of this new outspokenness is the response to restrictive abortion legislation recently enacted in several states, including Missouri, Georgia, Mississippi, Kentucky, Alabama, and Ohio.

On May 7, 2019, Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signed a law that would ban abortion as soon as physicians can detect a heartbeat, which can be as soon as six weeks (before some women are aware they’re pregnant).

brianKempabortion

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp signing abortion law.

“Georgia is a state that values life,” Kemp said at the bill signing. “We protect the innocent, we champion the vulnerable, we stand up and speak for those that are unable to speak for themselves.”

On May 15, Alabama’s governor, Kay Ivey, signed a law defining a fetus as a legal person “for homicide purposes” and making performing an abortion in the state a felony.

Netflix, Disney and WarnerMedia responded that they might stop producing television shows and movies in Georgia, and multiple actors threatened that they wouldn’t work in Georgia if the state’s law takes effect.

“I think many people who work for us will not want to work there, and we will have to heed their wishes in that regard,” said Disney CEO Bob Iger. “… we will work with the ACLU and others to fight it in court,” said Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos.

Earlier this month, leaders of more than 180 businesses, including Maria Pope, President and CEO of Portland General Electric, signed a letter that ran as an ad in The New York Times opposing the restrictive abortion laws enacted recently in multiple states.

mariapopePGE

Maria Pope, President and CEO of PGE, signed the “Don’t Ban Equality” letter.

“It’s time for companies to stand up for reproductive health care,” the Don’t Ban Equality letter said. Restricting abortion is “bad for business.”

dontbanequality

 

A problem with corporate virtue signaling like this as a marketing strategy is that it assumes the company has other people’s best interests at heart, that it’s not driven by profit seeking. There’s a risk that even altruistic millennials passionate about social causes will see through that, increasing cynicism, not brand loyalty.

Another issue with corporations trying to sell themselves as social justice warriors is that, as Tara Isabella Burton wrote in Vox, companies are pushing the spending of money “as a ritualistic as well as transactional act.” That can backfire. Purchases based on product quality are more likely to be sustained than those based on ever-changing corporate advocacy.

Public policy positions taken by corporate leaders on social issues may also not reflect the views of many employees or consumers, despite the presumptions of executives that others must be in alignment.

On abortion, for example, polling shows that Americans are actually fairly evenly split between those who identify as pro-life and those who identify as pro-choice. A majority of Americans, including many Democrats, support abortion restrictions in the second and third trimesters. In short, corporate honchos are mistaken if they believe most Americans are unrestricted abortion supporters.

Corporate evangelizing on all sorts of social issues can run afoul of public and employee attitudes, particularly with toxic social media serving as a megaphone for unhinged mobs of ever-smaller tribes determined to play a role in a debate.

Ideology-driven public positioning can also alienate employees and potential hires who are not in sync with a company’s cultural alignment or simply value open thinking.

”Internally, if leaders can create safe avenues for employees with different values and beliefs to voice their ideas (about CSR practices, products, or other business-related issues), this may lead to greater innovation, not to mention goodwill among those who value ideological tolerance as an over-arching feature of their workplace,” several U.S. business professors wrote in United States Politics and Policy.

Then there’s the fact that organizations and individuals who praise corporate intervention on sensitive public issues are generally much less enthused when the intervention has a conservative bent.

A striking example of this is the left’s outrage over comments made in July 2012 by Dan Cathy, Chick-fil-A’s CEO, to the Baptist Press. Cathy said he was “guilty as charged” in his support of what he described as traditional marriage. “We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles,” Cathy said.

To say the least, all hell broke loose, with liberals and LGBTQ activists condemning Cathy and endorsing Chick-fil-A boycotts.

Controversy resurfaced with a March 2019 report by the progressive organization Think Progress that the chain’s foundation donated $1.8 million in 2017 to groups Think Progress said have anti-LGBTQ agendas.

Then there’s the shifting attitudes in the corporate world, which make executives unreliable moral leaders. “Americans ought to be cautious before making corporations their moral compass or primary vehicle for reform,” Adam Winkler, a professor of law at UCLA, wrote recently in The New Republic. “The policy positions taken by U.S. companies on social issues today lean in the direction of inclusion. But tomorrow might be different, if the country—or a business’s particular consumer base—turns in a different direction.

If all this keeps up, you may soon be nostalgic for the days when companies tried to sell their products with simple “plop, plop, fizz, fizz” jingles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Despite pledges, politicians fail to shed Harvey Weinstein’s donations

harveyweinstein

Promises, promises.

In 2017, when multiple women went public with accusations that Harvey Weinstein had sexually harassed them, Democratic politicians leaped to disassociate themselves from him. In particular, they promised to donate Weinstein’s now-tainted campaign contributions to charity.

So much for that.

Prominent among those scurrying to say they would make amends was Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York. Federal Election Commission (FEC) records show that Weinstein donated $20,700 to the Friends of Schumer campaign finance committee during 2013-2017.

“Sen. Schumer is donating all of the (Weinstein) contributions to several charities supporting women,” Matt House, a spokesman for Sen. Schumer, told the Washington Post in October 2017.

Republican National Committee chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel praised Schumer  for doing the right thing.

She was too quick in her praise.

FEC records reveal that Schumer’s campaign committee didn’t donate one thin dime to charities supporting women in 2017 or 2018.

During that same period, Schumer’s committee also received contributions from the DNC Services Corp (Democratic National Committee), to which Weinstein had donated $203,458.

There’s no evidence that Schumer’s committee re-distributed any of that money to women’s groups either.

To its apparent credit, the Democratic National Committee (DNC) said it would donate $30,000 of the funds it had received from Weinstein to three non-profits:

  • Emily’s List, a political action committee that aims to help elect pro-choice Democratic female candidates to office.
  • Emerge America, an organization that recruits, trains and provides a network to Democratic women who want to run for office, and
  • Higher Heights, a national organization working to elect Black women, influence elections and advance progressive policies.

FEC records of the DNC’s expenditures in 2017-2018 reveal that it lived up to its promise.

On Oct. 30, 2017, the DNC sent Emily’s List $10,290.15.  (The DNC also sent $5,000 to Emily’s List on May 25, 2017, but that was before the Weinstein scandal erupted.)

The DNC also sent $10,290.15 to both Emerge America and Higher Heights on Oct. 30, 2017. It sent $1250 to Higher Heights on Sept. 29.

But there was a hitch. The DNC collected $300,000 in donations from Weinstein in 2007-2008, not $30,000. It kept the other $270,000.

Other Democratic politicians who had received funds from Weinstein also made a lot of promises to send the money to deserving non-profits. The announced recipients, however, were largely organizations that would launder the money right back to Democrats and their causes.

Even then, not all the politicians followed through on their commitments.

  • Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D- MA) said she’d donate $5,000 she received from Weinstein to Casa Myrna, a nonprofit group in Massachusetts. The FEC’s records on expenditures of the Elizabeth Warren Action Fund during 2017-2018 don’t show any payments to Casa Myrna.
  • Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) said she would donate $10,000 received from Weinstein to RAAIN, (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), an anti-sexual violence organization. No such donation is reported in FEC records of expenditures by Gillibrand’s 2017-2018 campaign finance committees.
  • Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) said he’d send Weinstein’s donations to the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center.According to OpenSecrets.org, Weinstein donated a total of $17,300 to Franken and his Midwest Values PAC. None of Franken’s campaign finance committees recorded on FEC.org show a donation to the Minnesota Indian Women’s Resource Center during 2017-2018.
  • Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) said she would give $5,000 she received from Weinstein to a women’s rights nonprofit, Equal Rights Advocates. FEC records on Harris’ campaign finance committees do not show such a donation during 2017-2018.
  • Bob Casey (D-PA) said he’d give $2,190 he received from Weinstein to the Women’s Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh. FEC records on Casey’s campaign finance committees do not show such a donation.
  • The Clinton Foundation’s website says Weinstein has donated between $100,001 – $250,000 to the Foundation. In Oct. 2017, the Foundation announced it had no plans to return Weinstein’s contributions, saying they had already been spent on charitable programs. According to the Foundation’s Form 990 report to the IRS, it had net assets of $323,470,879 at the end of 2017.

 

Looks like a lot of politicians’ promises were no more than empty public relations gestures.  Sad.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Democratic presidential candidates and Oregon: they could care less

Digital advertising is one of the key elements of the campaigns of Democrats running for their party’s 2020 presidential nomination. Data show that some candidates are shouting, while others are barely whispering.

According to Acronym, a progressive non-profit that tracks political digital spending, the candidates are paying Facebook and Google millions for digital ads, but spending in Oregon is barely a blip, .

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) is the biggest spender so far.  She has spent $1,688,706 on digital ads (Facebook: $1,218,206; Google: $470,500) since launching her campaign.

WarrenLaunch

Senator Elizabeth Warren speaks during her presidential candidacy announcement event at the Everett Mills in Lawrence, MA on February 9, 2019.

The second biggest spender on Facebook and Google digital ads is Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA). She has spent $1,640,339 (Facebook: $1.2 million; Google: $438,000).

Altogether, the Democratic candidates have spent $12,805,165 on Facebook and Google digital ads since launching their individual campaigns.

digitalspending

Yes, President Trump has spent $9,080,994, outspending every Democratic candidate.

What states have been targeted with all that money?

If you look at the top five states targeted by each of the candidates with Facebook ads, California takes the lead. It’s one of the top five targets of 15 candidates. Then there’s Iowa, which has its caucuses on Feb. 3, 2020.  It’s in the top five lists of nine candidates. Next is Texas, one of the top five states of eight candidates.

Even though New Hampshire has its primary early on Feb. 11, 2020, it’s only in the top five spending list for Facebook ads of three Democratic candidates: Pete Buttigieg, John DeLaney; and Tulsi Gabbard.

Then there’s Oregon. Oregon’s not in the top five list of any of the Democratic candidates and it’s only in the top ten list of two, Bernie Sanders and Julian Castro. But even Sanders has applied only 3.3% ($41,502) of his Facebook spending to Oregon and Castro only 2% ($8,379).

The lack of digital attention to Oregon may well be because the state’s primary isn’t until May 19, 2020, real late in the game, and it has only 52 delegates. If a candidate is trying to harvest a lot of delegates, focusing on the states with earlier primaries, including Super Tuesday, March 3, when 1433 delegates will be at stake, makes more sense.

Sorry, Oregon. You just don’t matter.

 

Addendum, May 5, 2019

The Democratic National Committee announced in late April that 2020 presidential candidates will each need to hit 130,000 donors to qualify for the third and fourth televised debates in the fall. Vice According to the Columbia Journalism Review, Vice News’s David Uberti reported that the high threshold may force longshot contenders to spend more on Facebook ads than they get back in donations—limiting their resources for more traditional forms of campaigning. In all, political ad spending is expected to near the $10-billion mark in 2020, up from $6.3 billion in 2016. The Wall Street Journal’s Alexandra Bruell has the figures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unionizing Burgerville: workers of the world unite…then quit.

Time passes. Things change.

That’s certainly been the case at Burgerville, where workers at the company’s restaurant at 3504 SE 92nd Ave. in Portland voted 18-4 in April 2018 to form a union.

burgervilleworkersunion

Over the next 12 months, employees at four more Burgerville sites followed suit:

May 13, 2018: 19119 SE McLoughlin Blvd. site – 17 yes, 5 no

Dec. 11, 2018: 1122 SE Hawthorne Blvd. site –  13 yes; 9 no

April 3, 2019: 8218 NE Glisan St. site – 15 yes, 9 no

April 4-5, 2019: 1135 NE Martin Luther King Jr Blvd. site – 14 yes, 7 no

Adding it all up, 111 Burgerville employees at a total of five locations have voted on whether to form a union.

Burgerville says it hasn’t kept track of which specific employees participated in the union votes, so it can’t quantify how many of the 111 voters are still employed by the company. It has determined, however, that of the 142 employees who were working in the five unionized locations during their respective votes, only 94 of them, or 66%, are still employed at Burgerville.

Furthermore, the lead organizers of the unionizing effort at three of the five restaurants no longer work at Burgerville. Two resigned their positions less than one month following their locations’ votes and a third organizer just resigned.

The fast-food industry is currently grappling with record employee turnover. According to MIT Technology Review, the turnover rate in the fast-food industry is 150%. In other words, the typical fast food restaurant is seeing its entire workforce, plus half of its new hires, replaced in 12 months.

Burgerville is doing better, perhaps because of its expansive benefits, including health insurance, vacation pay and financial wellness training. Still, the annual turnover rate across its 42 restaurants in 2018 was 83% (up from 71% in 2017), according to the company.

What all this means is:

  • Three of the five union organizers are no longer working at Burgerville.
  • A significant share of all the Burgerville employees who voted in the five union elections since April 2018 are likely not still working at the company.
  • It is highly likely that few of the 142 employees who were working at the five unionized locations during their respective votes will still be employed at Burgerville 12 months from now.
  • Few of the employees at the five Burgerville locations 12 months from now will have participated in the original votes to unionize.

Why, then, should the employees at the five locations one year from now be forced to be members of a union?

Unfortunately, future employees at the five Burgerville  restaurants probably won’t be given an opportunity to vote on whether to be represented by a union and, if so, which one.

One option to address this situation could be automatic representation elections whenever employee turnover by a bargaining unit over time exceeds a certain percentage. A bill introduced in Congress in 2017 (H.R. 2763 – Employee Rights Act) proposed 50 percent be the trigger.

Another possible solution, suggested by both Samuel Estreicher, a Professor of Law at New York University School of Law, and Michael Oswalt, an Associate Professor of Law at the Northern Illinois University College of Law, is regularly scheduled union representation elections the same way we regularly schedule political elections.

Estreicher, who called his proposal “easy in, easy out,” suggested that every two or three years the employees in a unit, after an initial minimal required showing of interest, would have an opportunity to vote in a secret ballot whether they wish to continue the union’s representation, select another organization, or have no union representation at all.

Oswalt argued that regularly scheduled union representation elections would be better than the simple continuation of the status quo.

“…workplace culture would slowly shift, creating an atmosphere where workers would feel internal pressure to, at the very least, think about the ramifications of selecting or not selecting a bargaining agent,” Oswalt wrote.

That would  be a good thing for Burgerville workers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Scofflaw City: Eugene’s blizzard of unpaid parking tickets

 If you see a notice on your windshield that says, “Parking Fine,” it’s not a compliment.

eugeneparkingticket

Are you a University of Oregon student who has skipped paying a Eugene parking ticket? If so, you’re not alone.

It’s like the wild west out there, with thousands of students, locals and out-of-towners ignoring their parking tickets in Eugene.

In 2018, the city declared 8,356 parking tickets delinquent and sent them out for collection. Over the past four years the total sent out for collection reached a staggering 91,621 tickets. And still, a lot don’t get paid.

The city says it doesn’t track unpaid parking tickets by geographic area, so it doesn’t have data on where all the unpaid tickets were handed out, whether the University of Oregon district, for example, has a high delinquency rate.

Frustrated with all the scofflaws and sensitive to the loss of the ticket revenue, for the past four years the city has been sending delinquent parking tickets to Austin, TX-based Linebarger Goggan Blair & Sampson, LLP.  Linebarger, a collection agency masquerading as a law firm, is one of the nation’s largest government debt collectors.

“We help communities thrive,” the firm says.

With 46 offices and 112 attorneys across the country, the firm is a money-raising behemoth in the parking ticket business.  It claims to collect $1 billion annually in delinquent taxes, traffic citations, parking tickets and tolls.

Some other Oregon cities have contracts with different collection agencies. Bend and Salem for example, have contracts with Professional Credit Service (PCS), a Springfield, OR-based company.

For Bend tickets, PCS adds collection fees of 23% of the total balance and keeps that amount when collecting on a delinquent parking ticket.

In Salem’s case, PCS collects 25% of the principle amount, while the City receives the principle. In cases where there is interest, the City and PCS split this amount evenly.

If a delinquent $10 Salem parking ticket is sent to PCS, the total due becomes $12.50. If 10 cents in interest is assessed before the bill is paid, the total due becomes $12.60. PCVS would retain $2.60 of that and the city $10.10.

Under Eugene’s arrangement with Linebarger, the firm can retain a 20 percent commission of the total amount collected for its work.

Example: 

  • Parking citation: $100.
  • Accrued interest: $21.60 (Interest is calculated at a rate of 18% from the date the account is referred to Linebarger for collection until paid in full)
  • Total owed: $121.60 (Parking fine + Accrued Interest).
  • Commission to Linebarger: $24.32 (20% of $121.60)
  • Payment to City of Eugene: $97.28

If the city’s Parking Enforcement Department places an immobilization device on a vehicle for unpaid fines that have been sent to Linebarger for collection, those delinquent accounts are recalled back to Eugene’s Municipal Court. In such cases, the city isn’t obligated to pay Linebarger a commission for the collection of the citations.

The city considers it reasonable for Linebarger to pursue a collection claim for up to two years. That’s one reason why Linebarger has a reputation for being persistent in its mail and call center collection efforts.

Over the past four years, Eugene has sent delinquent parking tickets with initial fines of $3,072,918 to Linebarger for collection, according to data provided by Jill Wright, a Court Operations Specialist with the City of Eugene, in response to public records requests.

Joe Householder, a Managing Director and spokesman for Linebarger, said the firm’s collection efforts have allowed it to remit $911,003.00 to the city. That represented $627,420.02 in fines and $283,583.98 of interest charges, the city said. This means Linebarger recovered just 20 percent of the original delinquent fines, plus interest.

In other words, a whole lot of delinquent tickets still don’t get paid, even after persistent and extensive efforts to locate delinquent miscreants, forceful letters, and aggressive call centers.

Our overall results are what matter and our overall results are routinely strong,” Householder said.

“Some accounts take a day to resolve; some take years,” he added. “In some cases, we’ll connect with the person on our first outreach attempt but they’re not ready to resolve the matter – maybe they’re waiting till they get their tax refund, or some other expected money comes in. In those cases, we have to stay in touch week after week or month after month and remind them of the debt.”

“In other cases,” Householder said, “just finding the person can take a long time. They’ve moved multiple times, they’ve remarried and changed their name – any number of factors can make it a challenge.”

So, don’t assume you’re safe because you’ve managed to escape Linebarger’s reach so far. “We continue to pursue collections of the remaining outstanding tickets,” Householder said.

Furthermore, if Linebarger fails to collect the balance on your delinquent parking ticket, and your vehicle is found on a city lot or street, the city may still immobilize the vehicle with a boot device.

Linebarger collects a wide array of receivable types for government clients, primarily payments due on taxes, traffic citations, parking tickets, and tolls.

Much of Linebarger’s work is pretty simple. In Eugene’s case, the Court forwards a record of delinquent parking tickets and Linebarger follows up with letters and pestering recorded phone calls to miscreants urging them to pay up.

“Partnering with Linebarger allows our clients to focus their resources on their core responsibilities, while we focus on locating and contacting the relative few who have continued to ignore their delinquent parking tickets,” the firm’s website says.

To counter the thuggish image of collections agents, Linebarger portrays itself as a company with “a big heart beneath that law firm veneer,” and says its work collecting unpaid bills is helping communities thrive by raising money for parks, schools and essential service.

But it hasn’t been able to avoid some criticism.

For some unexplainable reason, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) gives the Linebarger firm an A+ rating, while at the same time giving it the lowest possible rating, just one star of a possible five, based on customer reviews. Hundreds of complaints have been filed with the BBB against Linebarger nationwide. Complaints range from inaccurate notices of delinquent accounts and rude call center employees to harassing collection calls and allegations of fraudulent charges.

“I am being charged for parking violations in Denver, CO,” wrote one BBB reviewer. “I live in Oregon and have never been to Colorado.”

“I got a letter, that I find threatening, regarding an unpaid parking ticket from 12 years ago,” wrote another reviewer. “Give me a break!”

Yelp reviews are similar, with an overall rating of one star out of 5.

What do Eugene’s Parking Services Manager, Jeff Petry, and City Manager, Jon Ruiz, have to say about all this? Nothing.

Despite repeated requests that they answer a series of questions relating to the parking ticket and collections program, neither responded. So much for government transparency.

 

______________

Parking Ticket Fines in Eugene

Overtime Violations

Parking meters and time limits are placed in high use parking areas of Eugene to encourage turnover which increases accessibility for everyone and supports local businesses that rely on street parking for customer access.

Time limit citations in Eugene are $16.

Other Violations

 

 Violation Fine Amount
Parking in Space Reserved for Persons with Disabilities
First Offense
Second Offense
$200
$400
Storage of Vehicles on Street /Abandoned Vehicle
First Offense
Second Offense
$25
$50
Parking on Sidewalk, Crosswalk, or in Front of a Driveway $25
Parking in a Yellow, Bus, Taxi or Tow-Away Zone $25
Parking on wrong side of the street (facing the wrong way) $25
Parking in Bike Lane $40

For more information on parking fines, see the Municipal Court’s Presumptive Fine Schedule.

Fines Increase If Not Paid Within 30 days 
Parking citations (tickets) that are not paid or contested within 30 calendar days will double. Citations not paid within 120 days will be sent to a collection agency, and interest will begin to accrue.

Source: City of Eugene, https://bit.ly/2tKY7wC

 

      

 

 

Will The Oregonian survive?

Local news coverage is dying.

dyingnewspapers

The latest casualty — the entire staff of the New Orleans Times-Picayune. All 161 of them, , including reporters and editors, are losing their jobs.

On May 2, the Times-Picayune’s rival, the New Orleans Advocate, bought the Times-Picayune and plans to merge the papers under a single masthead and website. The seller — Advance Local Media LLC, the parent of Oregonian Media Group.  Even winning  two Pulitzers for its coverage of Hurricane Katrina didn’t serve the Times-Picayune.

Randy Siegel, CEO of Advance Local, assured the New York Post’s Keith J. Kelly that the sale of the Times-Picayune was a one-time thing. But what if it’s not? Is The Oregonian/OregonLive at risk, too?

Daily newspapers like the Times-Picayune and The Oregonian were once pervasive throughout the United States, with many communities having both a morning and evening paper, and sometimes a weekly local paper as well. But daily local newspapers are now in decline, dealing with cratering circulation, a reduction in print editions and drastic staff cuts.

According to the Wall St. Journal, nearly 1,800 US newspapers shut down between 2004 and 2018, including more than 60 dailies and 1,700 weeklies. Hundreds of communities have lost their local newspapers. Between 1,300 and 1,400 communities that had newspapers of their own in 2004 now have no news coverage at all, according to the UNC Center for Innovation and Sustainability in Local Media.

It was once unthinkable that papers such as the Cincinnati Post, the Albuquerque Tribune, the New York Sun, the Rocky Mountain News, and the Tampa Tribune would close, but they are all gone now. Nicco Mele, former director of Harvard’s Shorenstein Center, predicts that half of remaining titles will disappear within the next two years.

Newspaper consumption in Oregon is already dropping precipitously, with daily and weekly circulation combined falling from 1.4 million in 2004 to 796,000 in 2019, the UNC Center says.

Some of the remaining Oregon papers are what the UNC Center calls “ghosts”  because their newsroom staffing has been so dramatically pared back, often by more than half,  that the remaining journalists cannot adequately cover their communities.

In January 2018, when Willamette Week broke that The Oregonian was laying off another 11 newsroom staffers, the Portland Mercury observed, “After repeated rounds of layoffs, it’s hard to imagine The Oregonian having anywhere else to cut. But the news business’s grim prognosis marches on, so the cuts continue.”

“For those inclined to point fingers at The Oregonian or our parent company Advanced Publications: Ad revenue across our industry continues to plummet precipitously. Layoffs in local newsrooms are happening everywhere. And it fucking sucks,” Oregonian reporter Shane D. Kavanaugh tweeted.

Compared with its breadth and depth in the 1990s, The Oregonian/OregonLive has become a ghost. When I was a business reporter at The Oregonian in the 1980s and 1990s, the business team of reporters and editors was a robust 8-10 individuals covering a panoply of topics from energy and healthcare to labor and retail. OregonLive’s list of staff today includes just one reporter, Mike Rogoway, specifically devoted to business coverage , unless you also count Jeff Manning, who is listed as a reporter covering Health Care Business, OHSU.

Sports coverage is still robust, with 12 reporters and editors, but just one reporter, Gordon Friedman, is specifically assigned to covering everything going on at Portland City Hall.

When the Jan. 2018 layoffs were announced, The Oregonian/OregonLive’s editor and vice president of content, Mark Katches, said to the paper’s staff, “You’re probably asking yourself, when will these cuts end? I wish I could answer that. Although we have made progress growing our digital audience while also producing award-winning, and important journalism, the revenue picture continues to pose challenges for our company – as is the case across the media landscape.”

In August 2018, Katches abandoned ship himself to take a new job as executive editor of the Tampa Bay Times, another paper that has had its own struggles both before and since it acquired its competitor,  the Tampa Tribune, in 2016 .

With all the strife in the newspaper business, is The Oregonian/OregonLive ripe for the same fate as the Times-Picayune.

Don’t think it can’t happen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Local school board elections: local no more.

Statewide political action committees (PACs) getting involved in local school board elections?

Somehow, it just doesn’t seem right.

On March 15, 2019, NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon’s PAC announced its endorsement of 15 school board candidates in the state. One was John Wallin who’s running for re-election to the School Board of Lake Oswego, where I live.

NARAL+Pro-Choice+Oregon_1548349301

NARAL says it “works to advance the most progressive pro-choice policies in the nation.” All 15 of the candidates it endorsed “…have affirmed their commitment to advancing reproductive health equity for students in their school districts,” the PAC said.

“I’m very excited to have this endorsement,” Wallin said at an April 29 school board candidate forum. “This is a group that supports prevention of sexual violence and comprehensive health education. I sought it out, I met with them and talked about my beliefs. They stand for things I believe in.”

johnwallin

John Wallin

According to NARAL, it makes contributions to local elections such as for the Lake Oswego School Board because “Pro-choice school board members have the unique opportunity to protect and expand access to comprehensive healthcare, including access to contraceptives and evidence-based sexuality education for Oregon’s students.”

Wallin’s campaign website , however, says nothing about his views on NARAL’s positions. The only thing it says on student health and safety is:

 School should always be a place for learning and not fear and anxiety from concerns about physical safety, bullying, and schoolwork. We should work to strengthen the physical security of our buildings, mental health services, and student nutrition.”

Wallin’s submission to the Voter’s Pamphlet says nothing about his support for NARAL positions either.

Wallin didn’t say at the forum whether he also sought out the support of:

  • The United Food & Commercial Workers Union Local 555, which has made an in-kind donation of $1390.40 for literature, brochures and printing, or
  • The Oregon School Employees Association (represents the school district’s classified employees) which made a $6,500 cash contribution to his campaign. or
  • State Senator Robert Wagner, D-Lake Oswego, who made multiple in-kind contributions totaling $2,395.22 for postage, plus a $1,000 cash contribution.

Taken together, the contributions above total $11,285.62, almost half of the $22,637.16 received by the Friends of John Wallin campaign committee as of  April 25, 2019.

What’s next, local school board races supported entirely by national unions and the Democratic National Committee?