Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly…Oregon Style

Major Mike

The Good…

Great piece on the Establishment Clause found in the Oregonian OpEd section today. It is written by Barry Adamson, an attorney and writer from Lake Oswego, Oregon.

The Miers Nomination


"But some crestfallen media savants insist that the Constitution's Establishment Clause -- "[government] shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion" -- erects a "wall of separation between church and state," such that a public profession of faith disqualifies Miers. Actually, the Constitution says no such thing.

The metaphorical "wall" entered the vernacular in 1802, 13 years after Congress wrote the Establishment Clause in 1789. And the person responsible for that colloquialism -- Thomas Jefferson -- had played no role in the genesis of the Establishment Clause; Jefferson lived in France from 1784 to late 1789, and his relationship to the 1789 congressional proceedings consists of exchanges of letters with James Madison and others -- none of which concerned the Establishment Clause. Might the offhand musings of the uninvolved ascribe meaning to someone else's words written years earlier? "

Great piece, worth the entire read.

The Bad…

Portland is considering suspending tax breaks for developers. These tax breaks are designed to bring development into urban renewal areas, and re-vitalize parts of downtown Portland. All of a sudden, the City Council decides to pull the plug on Trammel and Crow. Why? They want more tax revenue. Sound familiar?

City Council Stops To Think On Tax Breaks for Developers


"Since the city began offering tax abatements for multi-unit buildings three decades ago, more than 5,000 apartments have been built through the program. Property owners who qualify for the abatements don't have to pay taxes on new construction downtown and in urban renewal districts for 10 years. They pay full taxes on the land underneath.

But City Council members have plenty of reservations about the discounts, which take about $92 million a year off municipal tax rolls, according to Mayor Tom Potter. Last month, the council voted 3-2 to deny developer Trammell Crow the tax break for a new tower in the South Waterfront area -- even though the builder went through all the proper channels. "

A pretty well done piece. Points out the inconsistencies in the Portland City government, and their action highlight a near insatiable desire for more tax revenue. It has been proven time and again, that these kinds of incentives work, and that the tax revenues eventually come through increased population densities and commerce. By grabbing for the gold in the short term, the city is limiting its eventual income opportunities.

Additionally…what message does this send to businesses, at a time when trust of the City government is sagging? The olde bait-and-switch on Trammel and Crow isn’t going to build a lot of confidence.

Finally…hello…Pearl District!?! Why move away from a cooperative model (and attitude) that has helped make the Pearl a vibrant part of the city…this could be replicated in other city districts with some forward thinking and the right incentives.

The Ugly…

Rules Focus On Owners of Mobile Home Parks

Oregon welfare mentality and property rights denial at its worst. Wilsonville City Council decides that before trailer park owners can close their trailer parks, the must do the following…obtain a permit, find tenants a comparable place to live, pay their tenants’ moving costs, and pay to house and FEED their tenants during the move. Unbelievable. At the very same time we place onerous burdens on a landowner for simply ending his business, we force him to become a welfare agent for the state. What planet did these city councilors parachute in from? Oh, by the way, a similar move in Washington state was found unconstitutional over ten years ago (contained in the article). Any wonder we need good judges on the Supreme Court?

How much more ridiculous can Portland, Oregon, and the United States become with this welfare/entitlement mindset? Citizens are guaranteed legal protections under the law… not moral or “issue” protections sought by special interest groups from all corners. Get used to it.

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