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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on February 25, 2005 12:05 PM. The previous post in this blog was Counterpoint. The next post in this blog is Maya hee!. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Friday, February 25, 2005

The Far East

Among the e-mail messages in my inbox today were "legislative updates" from State Reps. Greg Macpherson from down in L.O. (a former partner of mine) and Jeff Merkley of east Portland (whom I've never met).

Macpherson writes that the Oregon legislative session so far is "lethargic," and that's too bad, in his view, because the state's tax system is so screwed up. But he's tried to shake things up by introducing bills that would crack down on abusive corporate tax shelters (trust him when he says, there are many) and require that applicants for professional licenses prove that their state taxes have been paid.

Good moves, Greg. You might want to expand the categories on that last one to include all public employees. You shouldn't get hired in a government job unless you're clean on taxes. I noticed a few weeks ago that the guy who's running the very questionable "Portland Family of Funds" is allegedly into the state big-time on many tens of thousands that his old company withheld from people's pay but didn't get around to sending to Salem. Nice. Makes you wonder how many other such leading lights are drawing a government paycheck. Oh wait, his isn't a government paycheck -- the Portland Development Commission handed him ownership of the fund, too. Double nice.

Merkley, the House Democratic leader, sends along some pornographic photos of the spea -- only kidding, sends along some thoughts regarding the growing social problems of "Far-East Portland." That's what he's calling the area east of 82nd Avenue. He writes:

Seeing the story back in January, I urged Portland Mayor Potter to establish a commission to study and recommend significant changes in policy to stem the deterioration of neighborhoods in Far-East Portland. I would like to encourage you to join in asking the City to pay attention to, understand, and address the issues facing Far-East Portland. To send an email to Mayor Potter or any of the City Commissioners, please click on the links below.
I've often referred to the east side of town as "the Idaho side." But now I've got a polite but snarky moniker for the portion of the east side that I usually refer to as "Felony Flats." Thanks, Rep. Merkley.

Now if both you gentlemen would figure out a way to fund government operations without turning this town into Elko, Nevada, we'd all be grateful.

Comments (15)

How exactly do you prove your state taxes have been paid?

Well, the least they can do is run your name through, see that the returns have been filed, and that there's no pending action against you. I remember when the IRS ran such a check on me before I was appointed to an advisory group. Perhaps they could even take a cursory look at the return to verify that there aren't any egregious fakes there.

I grew up right near Felony Flats, err, Lents. I've fondyly referred to my old neighborhood as Deep Southeast Portland.

Want to help the east side of Portland?

Put a moratorium on urban renewal districts. The single largest ghetto project just happens to be the east side light rail.

Take a drive out Burnside sometime. A slow one. Look at the "housing" that has developed along that line, all with HUGE tax breaks. Then fast forward to what is happening up on Interstate Ave.

They are closing down the Kenton Elementary school to build some apartments (I have not looked recently, but I am betting those apartments are going to have a 10 year tax abatement on them).

Those apartments are not going to be providing any tax revenue to the city. They will be increasing the burden on city services. The combination of those two factors will bleed any money that could have been spent on the east side,or anywhere else in the city.

Oh, not to mention the fact that the district's tax revenues have been frozen at what, the 2000 levels? And will be for another 20 years?

I have not even mentioned the Macadam boond...err project yet.

Ted

“require that applicants for professional licenses prove that their state taxes have been paid.”

So those with tax deficiencies should be precluded from engaging in state licensed professions? Best run that by some of your financially strapped law students - see how well received that idea is. This must be a plank in your new found GOP persona?

Before our legislature slams the door on professional opportunity on the basis of tax compliance, it should make a distinction between tax cheats (those unwilling to pay their fair share) and the poor (those unable to fulfill their financial obligations)

Actually, the Oregon bar already ties things like financial stability to license retention in two ways: first, student loan default can result in possible suspension and second the bar dues are rather steep, esp. when you're living on the east coast and keeping the hard-won OR bar card in hopes of returning to PDX someday.

"Perhaps they could even take a cursory look at the return to verify that there aren't any egregious fakes there."

Yes, I want to make sure prospective government employees know that simply applying for a government job will trigger "a cursory look" at your tax returns. That will certainly help recruitment.

For that matter, let's make it hard for people who owe back taxes to get good jobs that will enable them to pay those taxes. After all, being a debtor is a character flaw, not an economic condition. We need to grind those folks down as an example to others.

Forget tax returns. I'm going to check the voter registration files to make sure I'm the Republican and Jack Bog is the Democrat.

Jack, you make it sound like Republicans favor making everyone pay their fair share. Quite the contrary. If it were up to the GOP toupees in Congress, the IRS budget would be $1,211.16 a year. Tough tax enforcement is a Democrat thing.

And you can huff and puff all you want, but I'm not budging. If you owe back income taxes, you should be disqualified from holding a government job. Like yours. 8c)

Sorry, Jack. I work for a private nonprofit. I'm no longer feeding at the public trough (at least directly). Sort of like teaching at a private college.

Come to think of it, has anyone else looked at your tax returns lately?

At least some Oregon government agencies require that their employees be current with their state taxes and that standard may apply to all state employees. The standard is realistic - must file, must take prompt action to correct problems, and if there is a deficit or assessment, it either must be paid or there must be some sort of payment plan in place. There is sufficient lattitude to accomodate reasonable differences of opinion, in other words, the fact that an employee and the state have a difference of opinion about taxes due and owing does not disqualify the employee so long as they are following the standard appeal process. This standard also applies to any one, individual or corporation, that contracts to do business with the state. Bottom line - the state does quite a bit to ensure that it's employees, independent contractors, and vendors are in compliance with the state's tax laws.

And then east of 'felony flats' is the hard-working 4 Cities Alliance (well, 4 until Gresham seceded in favor of its own alliance with The Port of Portland) of Fairview,Wood Village, and Troutdale. The 3 remaining cities have a vision, The Columbia River District Vision, wherewith they hope(-d) to revivify the east Sandy River delta area now known as the former Reynolds Metals site. But the Port bought it from Alcoa and threatens to turn the 750 acres into a giant rail yard. That is, unless NASCAR builds a track there ...with The Port as landlord. And that is a possibility, albeit as ruinous as the railyard. The Grand Ronde Indians have offered to build the track. So no bonds? What about a quid pro quo? Chinook Winds is OR's #1 tourist attraction. But The Warm Springs are about to build a casino in Cascade Locks. One in Troutdale would trump the one in Cascade Locks. And the "family" crowd 'out east' want none of this. The "vision" was for hotels and restaurants and family-oriented such things. But it's looking more like trains and casinos and race cars may be too tempting for the mercantilers and hoteliers 'out east' , and the latter are fawning and foaming and getting ready for Tuesday when the big parade at Reynolds takes place: ISC, (NASCAR) The OR Sports Authority, the shopkeepers of Troutdale, the media, and likely The Grand Ronde will "tour" the old smelter site and decide if it's worth investing in THE IDAHO Side. The families here will likely have to move to Idaho to escape the noise & traffic and utter unlivability the foregoing portends.

And then east of 'felony flats' is the hard-working 4 Cities Alliance (well, 4 until Gresham seceded in favor of its own alliance with The Port of Portland) of Fairview,Wood Village, and Troutdale. The 3 remaining cities have a vision, The Columbia River District Vision, wherewith they hope(-d) to revivify the east Sandy River delta area now known as the former Reynolds Metals site. But the Port bought it from Alcoa and threatens to turn the 750 acres into a giant rail yard. That is, unless NASCAR builds a track there ...with The Port as landlord. And that is a possibility, albeit as ruinous as the railyard. The Grand Ronde Indians have offered to build the track. So no bonds? What about a quid pro quo? Chinook Winds is OR's #1 tourist attraction. But The Warm Springs are about to build a casino in Cascade Locks. One in Troutdale would trump the one in Cascade Locks. And the "family" crowd 'out east' want none of this. The "vision" was for hotels and restaurants and family-oriented such things. But it's looking more like trains and casinos and race cars may be too tempting for the mercantilers and hoteliers 'out east' , and the latter are fawning and foaming and getting ready for Tuesday when the big parade at Reynolds takes place: ISC, (NASCAR) The OR Sports Authority, the shopkeepers of Troutdale, the media, and likely The Grand Ronde will "tour" the old smelter site and decide if it's worth investing in THE IDAHO Side. The families here will likely have to move to Idaho to escape the noise & traffic and utter unlivability the foregoing portends.

Jack

Here's how they could help East Portland -- get rid of city wide elections and elect by districts.

I suspect that a core group of loyal liberal voters located in the inner SE, SW, and NW exert the most voting power for all City Council seats. This could easily be checked by correlating, by precinct, the vote totals for the various city council candidates.

I have seen arguments against a districted election system in the past claiming that candidates would be loyal just to their districts and not "citywide". But of course that's just the point -- this city is too big to assume that everyone's interests are the same.

As for city wide interests, that's why we have a mayor.

Get rid of commission government and elect the City Council districts. Then SE/E Portland would have its own advocate in the City Council. Perhaps, like Lonnie Roberts, he or she would get outvoted, but at least the Eastside residents would have their own advocate.

So does that make 39th middle-east Portland?

Far-East Portland. Catchy. But I'm stumping my own meme; I live near Mall 205, and I tell people I live in Baja Gresham.

Sam Klein (zehnkatzen.blogspot.com)


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