High Interest Rent-A-Banks Are Abusing Oregon Borrowers

I still remember a conversation I had a number of years ago with a Starbucks barista in Hillsboro who told me she was paying 28% interest on a loan for a car she’d just bought from a local dealer. I was appalled.

Some Oregonians are being victimized much worse than that today.

Oregon is one of eight states that allow payday loans and have banks that charge as much as or more than state-licensed payday lenders, according to an analysis just-released by The Pew Charitable Trusts, an independent non-profit that aims to serve the public interest by improving public policy, informing the public, and invigorating civic life.

Oregon laws limit payday loan charges, but PEW reports that some payday lenders are partnering with several state-chartered banks supervised by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. (FDIC) under so-called “rent-a-bank” arrangements to issue loans with prices that exceed these limits. The banks originate the loans on the lenders’ behalf.

The Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. supervises the six banks known to  be having these arrangements, some of which have annual percentage rates that typically range from the 90%s to the low 200%s. —rates that are much higher than what banks usually charge or that the laws of many borrowers’ states permit. 

The PEW analysis cited a situation in Virginia where a car title lender makes loans that it contends do not have to comply with Virginia law because they are originated by a Utah-based bank. This lender issued a three-year, $2,272 loan with an annual percentage rate (APR) of 98.7%, and $4,867 in finance charges. That meant the borrower repaid $7,139 on a $2,272 loan.

According to the National Consumer Law Center, cited by PEW, a business called OppLoans  (aka OppFi) uses FDIC-supervised FinWise Bank (Utah), Capital Community Bank (CC Bank) (Utah), and First Electronic Bank, a Utah industrial bank, to make installment loans in Oregon of $500 to $4,000 at 160% APR.  

Here’s what an Oregonian taking out a $4000 five-year car loan from OppLoans with an annual APR) of 160% would pay back:

Monthly Payment: $533.63

Total Paid: $32,017.80

Total Interest: $28,017.80

Figuring out what a loan will cost each payment period and over time can be complicated.

NetCredit (“We’re committed to helping our customers find success in their financial journeys.”), a subsidiary of Chicago-based Enova International, Inc. (NYSE: ENVA), offers a maximum loan of $5000.

Its website says 10% of each Cash Advance is deducted from the amount requested before the advance proceeds are delivered to the borrower.

Each billing cycle, the borrower’s minimum payment includes 5% (if payments are made monthly) or 2.5% (if payments are made bi-weekly or semi-monthly) of the cash balance, plus a Statement Balance Fee based on the cash advance balance. A fee table spells out how the Statement Balance Fee is assessed and the corresponding amounts.

If a statement shows a Cash Advance Balance of $1,000.01 – $1,100.00, the fee is $55.00 if the borrower pays bi-weekly or semi monthly and $110 if the borrower pays monthly. If the statement shows a Cash Advance Balance of $4,800.01 – $4,900.00, the fee is $245 if the borrower pays bi-weekly or semi monthly and $490 if the borrower pays monthly.

Each Billing Cycle, the minimum payment will include a portion of the Cash Advance Balance plus a Statement Balance Fee based on the Cash Advance Balance.

You try to figure it all out.

“Competition in markets, including credit markets, typically drives down costs,” the Pew analysis says. “However, Pew’s prior research has found that people seeking payday loans focus on how quickly they can borrow, how likely they are to be approved, and the ease of borrowing. Payday lenders therefore tend to compete on these factors rather than price because their customers are in dire financial straits. Borrowers’ low sensitivity to cost when they are in distress explains the lack of price competition in payday lending.”

PEW is adamant that aggressive action is needed to shut down these abusive loans.

“As the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), FDIC, and other federal banking regulators consider new guidance for how banks can better manage third-party risk, they should take this opportunity to scrutinize the high-cost lending partnerships among a few of the banks regulated by the FDIC,” Alex Horowitz and Gabe Kravitz with The Pew Charitable Trusts’ consumer finance project said in a Feb. 2022 Opinion piece in the Hill.

They’re right on the money. These exploitative high-cost rent-a-bank loans need to end.

Here’s a Tip For Oregon Businesses: Stop Demanding Tips

The consumer-price index rose 8.5% in March from a year earlier, the fastest annual pace since December 1981, the Wall Street Journal reported on April 20. That’s the figure most consumers think of when they worry about rising prices.  But there’s another number too often ignored – the cost of tips.

In a recent stop at a local Burgerville, I encountered a Uniden digital payment device with tip options: 15%, 18% 20%, custom and no tip.

The evil digital tip trap

At another burger place, their digital payment device presented me with tip options of 15%, 20% and 25%.

A 20% or 25% tip, where there used to be no tip expectation at all, is equivalent to a 20-25% price increase on top of any inflationary increase in the price of the food itself. 

Requests on electronic devices are becoming so pervasive that they are starting to feel like demands, particularly when the transactions are occurring under the watchful eyes of business employees. 

As consumers are becoming more price sensitive over a host of goods and services, the reality that tips are increasingly becoming part of the price is raising concerns.

“Seems like anyone doing anything for you these days, even if it is in the scope of their responsibilities/expectations, has their hand out,” a recent commenter on a Tripadvisor Forum complained. “You don’t tip at a fast food restaurant,” another commenter said emphatically.

Consumer concerns are growing, particularly in states like Oregon where workers, such as servers, must be paid the state’s minimum wage ($14 in the Portland Metro Area, one of the highest in the United States according to the National Conference of State Legislatures) even if the worker also receives tips.

Regular minimum wage laws often don’t apply to restaurant workers, such as servers, who earn a lot of their income from tips. Federal law stipulates that employers can pay tipped workers as little as $2.13 an hour (an amount unchanged since 1991), so long as their tips bring them up to at least the federal minimum wage of $7.25. 

Shoppers are generally sympathetic to the plight of low-wage workers, but public resentment seems to be growing when tips are expected in food service and other situations where a worker is also guaranteed earning an elevated minimum wage or in situations where tip expectations are new. We don’t generally tip retail workers in a mall who are also guaranteed a respectable minimum wage in Oregon, for example.

A recent New York Times article about tipping generated a lot of comments, many of which lamented the seeming spread of tipping expectations to multiple businesses and regardless of the amount of actual service by an employee:

“Travelling to the USA each year from Europe I notice this just getting more extreme and expensive with zero additional benefits to the consumer. The next screen flip I get, I would like to flip my own card with discount options for the proprietor that is forcing us to shoulder his staffing costs.”

“I hate the companies that use payment systems like Square, and I particularly hate the companies, like Square, that have brought this new dystopian world upon us. Down with tipping!”

“Collectively, we cringe when the iPad is swiveled into our face at the coffee counter or deli; we know it is extortion rather than appreciation for services rendered.” 


A Tangled Web: Carrick Flynn and the Justice Unites Us PAC

Why has the Justice Unites Us PAC, which says it’s all about mobilizing Asian voters, pumped $846,000 in independent expenditures into boosting the Democratic primary campaign of a white guy, Carrick Flynn, in Oregon’s new 6th Congressional District. 

Not only that, but who has been plowing money into the PAC and how much?

Who knows.

Justice Unites Us identifies itself online as “A project of the Family Friendly Action Fund, a section 50©4) social welfare organization.”

As for why it’s embraced Carrick Flynn’s primary race, that’s a tough one. 

Is the 6th District heavily Asian? Nope.

It consists of Polk and Yamhill Counties, plus portions of Marion, Clackamas and Washington Counties. Most of the district is in Yamhill and Polk counties in terms of land area, but most of the population is in Washington and Marion counties. If the district had existed during  the 2020 presidential election, it would have gone 55.2% for Biden and 42.1% for Trump, according to Daily Kos. So, the new district probably leans Democratic.

But Asians are far from a prominent force in Oregon at large or in the new district. According to the most recent American Community Survey, the Asian population in all of Oregon is just 185,221, 4.4% of the total population. And they are far from a unified group, with multiple subgroups. Chinese, Filipino, and Indian are the largest. Furthermore, In the 2020 census, just 2.5% of Marion County’s population and -11.7% of Washington County’s population was “Asian alone”.

OK, then who’s behind the Justice Unites Us PAC? We don’t know. 

Like pop-up stores that show up during the Christmas holidays, the PAC only popped up recently. having been formed on March 22, 2022 (FEC Committee ID #: C00810606). In its report to the FEC for the first quarter of 2022, the PAC reported raising and spending zero dollars. 

After the end of the quarter, it disclosed it had disbursed $846,581.14 on April 5, 2022 for “canvassing” in support of Flynn.

Then, on April 15, 2022, the PAC filed paperwork with the Federal Election Commission so it could delay filing its next report , and identifying its donors, until after the May 17 primary:

“Justice Unites Us PAC has filed its April 15th quarterly report.  This is to notify you that Justice Unites Us PAC intends to assume a monthly filing schedule for calendar year 2022.  It is therefore our understanding that the next report will be due May 20, 2022. “ 

Is this runaround of disclosure rules new? “No, it isn’t.,” Politico wrote recently. “Pop-up super PACs have become increasingly prominent over the last several election cycles, and have become a way for sophisticated political operations to bypass rules that shed light on campaign finance until after elections — when it’s too late to matter.”

The Oregon Department of Education’s Ever-Expanding List of Maligned Minorities

A just-released Education Update sent out by Colt Gill, the Director of the Oregon Department of Education, notes that his department and the Oregon Health Authority have created a toolkit centering on safety, health and belonging as schools transition to face covering optional policies.

In his determination to cover all his bases, he says the goal of the toolkit is to create safe, supportive, welcoming schools, particularly for “students who experience disability and those who are Black, Indigenous, Latina/o/x/e, People of Color, Tribal members, and/or are members of the LGBTQ2SIA+ community.”

Good grief! 

Gill clearly sees the K-12 education universe as nothing more than an assemblage of distinct and maligned minorities. This is the kind of identity politics that foments perilous division of our state and our country. Rather than emphasizing common values and interest, Gill’s identity politics stresses differences and creates a feeling of ‘zero-sum’ competition between groups. 

In a Medium article, Benjamin Morawek posited that there are two types of identity politics.

“The first kind is what I call inclusive identity politics and it is synonymous with the term “common-humanity identity politics” used by Greg Lukianoff and Jonathan Haidt in their book, The Coddling of the American Mind. This kind of identity politics, they explain, mobilizes identity “in ways that emphasize an overarching common humanity while making the case that some fellow human beings are denied dignity and rights because they belong to a particular group. This is the identity politics of the civil rights movement and a shining example of its use is Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.”

 “… the second kind of identity politics, exclusive identity politics, calls for the value of marginalized groups based on the very identity that makes them different,” Morawek wrote.  As Oberlin College professor Sonia Kruks said in Retrieving Experience, “The demand is not for inclusion within the fold of ‘universal humankind’ … nor is it for respect ‘in spite of’ one’s differences. Rather, what is demanded is respect for oneself as different.”

One problem with Gill’s identify politics is that it leads to even more minority designations. “Once identity politics gains momentum, it inevitably subdivides, giving rise to ever-proliferating group identities demanding recognition,” says Amy Chua in Political Tribes.

Gill’s reference to “the LGBTQ2SIA+ community” illustrates this point. 

The Oregon Department of Education says this  “…means a term that encompasses multiple gender identities and sexual orientations including Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Two-Spirit, Intersex, and Asexual. The plus sign (“+”) recognizes that there are myriad ways to describe gender identities and sexual orientations.”

“Originally LGB, variants over the years have ranged from GLBT to LGBTI to LGBTQQIAAP as preferred terminology shifted and identity groups quarreled about who should be included and who come first,” Chua wrote. 

“How can we come together on anything big…when we keep slicing ourselves into smaller factions?”, wrote Carlos Lozada in The Washington Post. “Down this road lies, ultimately, state breakdown and failure,” warns Stanford University political scientist, Francis Fukuyama, in Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment.

At some point, the left is going to tie itself up in knots trying to categorize everybody. In the meantime, the country will slowly break down into warring factions and we will all pay the price.

More to read

Teaching Race in Kindergarten: Oregon’s new standards for social science exchange colorblindness for racialism. This is not progress.

Oregon’s New Ethnic Studies Standards: Identity Politics Run Amok

Lawyers of Distinction: the Scam Continues

There it was again – – an advertisement in the Sunday New York Times congratulating “Lawyers of Distinction.” 

The Feb. 20, 2022 ad, like others in previous years, welcomed the newest honorees. This time there was one from Oregon,Natalie Hedman Esq., a family and divorce lawyer in Gresham. According to the Lawyers of Distinction’s website, Hedman is one of 25 Oregon member lawyers recognized for excellence in the practice of law.* 

Sounds impressive, until you dig deeper. 

About all that’s required to be named a “Lawyer of Distinction” is to apply yourself or be nominated, fill out some online forms and pay a fee. It’s like diploma mills that claim to be higher education institutions, but only provide illegitimate academic degrees and diplomas for a fee.

“There’s a sucker born every minute,” is a phrase often attributed to P. T. Barnum, an American showman. It’s apparently true with respect to the attorneys who buy “Lawyers of Distinction” memberships as well as members of the public who are misled by them. 

The Lawyers of Distinction website makes the application and review process sound complex. 

According to the website, it includes a review and vetting process by a Selection Committee. That involves an analysis of a candidate’s work, experience and abilities based upon 12 independent criteria using a platform spelled out under U.S. Provisional Patent #62/743,254. Once a final score is generated, an applicant is subjected a final background check and Ethics Review. Applicants who achieve a minimum passing score and have no disqualifying ethical violations within a 10-year period prior to completion of the application are then eligible for acceptance to Lawyers of Distinction.

Sounds tough and thorough.

Don’t believe it.

 Essentially, it’s just pay-for-play. It’s selling badges.  It’s paying for meaningless accolades. Apply, pay the annual membership fee and you’re in.

According to the Florida Division of Corporations, “Lawyers of Distinction Inc.” is a private for-profit company with a principal address of 4700 Millenia Boulevard, Suite 175, Orlando, FL 32839. 

4700 Millenia Blvd., Orlando, FL

Robert (Robbie) Brian Baker at the same address is listed as the President in the company’s 2020 Annual Report. But don’t go there expecting to be ushered into an office with a clean, modern aesthetic that communicates success. The address is identified online as nothing more than an “Orlando Virtual Business Address & Live Receptionist Answering Service.”

Lawyers of Distinction is a sign of the overabundance of lawyers, leading some to try to elevate themselves with impressive, but meaningless, awards. The ads the organization places in multiple publications are fake news at its most blatant and deceptive. 

Some lawyers may want the Lawyers of Distinction plaque on their wall to bolster their self-esteem, even though in their heart they know the plaque is meaningless piece of junk. Maybe they want to add a plaque to their office brag wall. Maybe the “honor” adds glamour to what some lawyers describe as mind-numbing work.

Whatever their reasons for signing up, Hedman and the other 24 Oregon lawyers, including one on the Oregon State Bar Board of Governors, who are lauded as Lawyers of Distinction shouldn’t be proud; they should be embarrassed. 

*Lawyers listed as “Top Rated Lawyers in Oregon” and “Charter Members” on Distinquished Lawyers website






KEVIN EIKE, Portland


ANDY GREEN, Portland





MYAH KEHOE, Portland

SUSAN LAIN, Lake Oswego





ILENE M. MUNK, Portland







Portland Gets an “F ” on Fiscal Honesty

Portland has been trying to pull fast one. 

The city claims it “operates on a tough set of financial controls” to ensure it balances its annual budget. 

It doesn’t.

According to a report recently released by a nonprofit, Truth in Accounting (TIA), in order to “balance the budget” Portland has been failing to include its true costs, pushing costs onto future taxpayers. 

“Despite receiving support from COVID relief grants and other federal programs, Portland remained in dire fiscal shape during the onset of the pandemic ,” the Report said.

TIA examined the nation’s 75 most populous cities. At the end of FY 2020, 61 of them did not have enough money to pay all their bills. 

Grades of A to F were assigned to the 61 cities to give greater context to each city’s Taxpayer Burden or Taxpayer Surplus.  TIA divides the amount of money needed to pay bills by the number of city taxpayers to come up with the Taxpayer Burden. 

The “D” and “F” grades apply to governments that have not balanced their budgets and have significant Taxpayer Burdens. No cities received A’s, 14 received B’s, 26 received C’s, 29 received D’s.

Six cities received Fs for failing grades. One of those was Portland.

“…government officials are responsible for reporting their actions and the results in ways that are truthful and comprehensible to the electorate,” the TIA Report says. “Providing accurate and timely information to citizens and the media is an essential part of government responsibility and accountability.”

One of the ways Portland makes its budgets look balanced is by shortchanging public pension and Other Postemployment Benefits (OPEB) that it provides to retired employees, according to the Report. These benefits principally involve health care benefits, but also may include life insurance, disability, legal and other services.

In other words, Portland has been using some of the money that’s been owed to cover pension and OPEB costs to keep taxes low instead and to pay for politically popular programs without real accountability.

Portland was ranked one of the poorest performing cities at the end of FY20 in terms of its taxpayer burden, the report says.   Because the city didn’t have enough money to pay its bills, it had a $5.6 billion financial hole.  To erase this shortfall, each Portland taxpayer would have had to send $24,900 to the city.  That was up substantially from $18,800 at the end of FY15.

“Portland’s overall financial condition (from FY19) worsened by $1.2 billion mostly because the city’s Fire and Police Disability and Retirement Plan had no assets and it is assumed that the plan will have to borrow money to pay benefits.,” the report says. “Overall, the city had set aside only 36 cents for every dollar of promised pension benefits and eight cents for every dollar of promised retiree health care benefits. 

“Portland has been in poor fiscal shape for years.,” the TIA report said. 

Time to stand up and fix things.

Next Up on the Left’s Agenda: Racializing Taxes

Cart Before the Horse. Conner Kisiel // Creative Director | by Nacent  Creative Marketing Strategies | Medium

Talk about putting the cart before the horse.

Late last year, the left-leaning Oregon Center for Public Policy (OCCP) put out a podcast firmly asserting that “…Oregon’s tax system entrenches and even deepens racial inequality.”

The organization then proceeded to undercut its argument by admitting it doesn’t have the data to prove its point. So now it is including in its 2022 Legislative Agenda passage of a bill that would add a race and ethnicity question to Oregon’s income tax forms.

“We must also better understand how the tax code impacts racial equity,” the OCCP now says. “Tax justice is a racial justice issue. We need better data to see which tax loopholes worsen racial inequality, so that together we can craft solutions to fix the problem.”

In other words, OCCP wants the state to collect data that it hopes will prove its point. It’s kind of an Alice in Wonderland “Verdict first, trial later” situation.

But even if the bill, SB 1569*, passes, the data it produces and the “racial impact statements” the bill would require the Department of revenue to produce would be useless. 

That’s because the bill “Directs (the) Department of Revenue to develop schedule allowing personal income taxpayers to voluntarily report taxpayers’ self-identified race and ethnicity identifiers.” That’s right, the submission of the data the OCCP plans to rely on to prove its point would be voluntary. 

That would inevitably result in bias due to unrepresentative samples of taxpayers submitting data, known as selection bias. 

There could be under-coverage, for example, if some taxpayers are inadequately represented in the sample, or nonresponse bias, if respondents differ in meaningful ways from nonrespondents. Respondents might also be principally those who have strong opinions on the issue.  For example, the reliability of surveys on call-in radio shows that solicit audience participation on controversial topics such as abortion, affirmative action, gun control and the legacy of Donald Trump are typically unreliable. 

Unconvinced that this bill’s reliance on voluntary participation and potential sampling errors would undermine its value?

A while ago there was an election when a botched presidential poll conducted over the phone unintentionally oversampled Republicans because the well-off were more likely to have a phone.

Dewey Defeats Truman Newspaper


*The chief sponsors of  SB 1569 are: Senate Majority Leader Rob Wagner (D); Senator Kayse Jama (D); Representative Greg Smith (R); ​Senator James I. Manning Jr. (D);  Representative Courtney Neron (D); Representative Khanh Pham (D); Representative Andrea Valderrama (D).

The 18 regular sponsors, all Democrats, are: Senators DembrowFrederick, Gorsek, Lawrence Spence, Patterson, Representative Alonso Leon, Campos, Dexter, Grayber, Helm, Hudson, Kropf, McLain, Power, Ruiz, Schouten, Prusak, Williams


Oregon’s New Ethnic Studies Standards: Identity Politics Run Amok

The Oregon Ethnic Studies Bill signed into law
Gov. Kate Brown signs ethnic studies bill

Say it ain’t so, Colt.

Colt Gill, appointed by Governor Brown as Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction, serves as Director of the Oregon Department of Education.

Oregon HB 2845, signed into law by Governor Kate Brown in June 2017, called for an advisory group to create recommendations for ethnic studies standards. A panel of K-12 teachers aligned the recommendations to 2018 social science standards for use in the classroom. After engaging with the public, the Oregon Department of Education made adjustments to the standards. 

The new standards were approved for classroom use in March 2021. School districts will be required to address the ethnic studies standards beginning in the 2026 – 2027 school year.

The theory behind the new standards was that commonly used textbooks and classroom lessons had too narrow a focus of the history, politics, and human geography and that students would benefit from a more complete and inclusive understanding of U.S. and Oregon history. 

So far so good.

Then not so good.

The Kindergarten Standards with Ethnic Studies, yes kindergarten, start off with the following:

Civics and Government

* Engage in respectful dialogue with classmates to define diversity comparing and contrasting visible and invisible similarities and differences. 

 *Develop an understanding of one’s own identity groups including, but not limited to, race, gender, family, ethnicity, culture, religion, and ability. 


* Identify examples of unfairness or injustice towards individuals or groups and the “change- makers,” who worked to make the world better. 

Historical Thinking

* Make connections identifying similarities and differences including race, ethnicity, culture, disability, and gender between self and others. 

Social Science Analysis

* Identify possible solutions to injustices 

The questionable guidance continues for later grades. First grade standards, for example, include: 

*Define equity, equality and systems of power” 

*Describe how individual and group characteristics are used to divide, unite and categorize racial, ethnic, and social groups.”

How, in heaven’s name, do 5-year-olds conduct “respectful dialogue” over “visible and invisible similarities and differences.” How and why should they “develop an understanding of one’s own identity groups,” and identify racial, ethnic and cultural differences?

How and why should 1st graders “define…systems of power”?

“In reality, the point of the exercise is to make children hyper-sensitive to racial differences and encourage them to internalise an identity-based consciousness,” Prof. Frank Furedi wrote in Spiked. “The main objective of this curriculum is to introduce youngsters to an identitarian worldview. When small children are exposed to topics suitable for mature adults it is clear that indoctrination rather than education is taking place.” 

Did anybody outside the education establishment read these standards before they were adopted?

Is this really how Oregon parents want their children taught?

True grift: Oregon’s Gov. Kate Brown rewards another politician with a cushy pension-enhancing appointment

Gov. Kate Brown Brown has found a nice new lucrative home for State Sen. Ginny Burdick (D-Portland).

State Sen. Ginny Burdick (D-Portland)

Last week Brown nominated Burdick, who has no particular power and conservation expertise, for a seat on the Pacific Northwest Electric Power and Conservation Planning Council. The Council is a federally funded panel that provides policy and planning leadership on regional power, fish and wildlife issues.

If Burdick, 73, is approved by the Senate Rules Committee for a three-year term on the Council, beginning Nov. 1, 2021, not only will she make $120,000 a year, but she’ll likely end up with a much fatter PERS pension payout than her 25 years of legislative service alone would have provided.

That’s because lifetime retirement benefits under PERS are designed to provide approximately 45 percent of a state employee’s final average salary at retirement. Final average salary is generally the average of the highest three consecutive years or 1/3 of total salary in the last 36 months of employment.

As a legislator, Burdick has an annual salary of just $31,200 plus $149 each day of the legislative session to pay for meals and lodging.  After three years on the Council, Burdick’s pension will be calculated using her new substantially higher salary, potentially rewarding her with hundreds of thousands of extra dollars over here lifetime. This when PERS is already overwhelmed with billions in unfunded liabilities.

To say it’s all a scam is being too charitable.

Brown played the same game in 2017 when she put then Sen. Richard Devlin (D-Tualatin) and Sen. Ted Ferrioli (R-John Day) on the Council.

In March, Gov. Brown nominated Pendleton resident Chuck Sams, interim Executive Director of the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation, to replace Fererioli on the Council.  If approved, Burdick will replace Devlin.

Welcome to the trough, Sen. Burdick.