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Thursday, July 14, 2005

Moving out, fighting back

Have you had enough of Erik Sten's Portland yet? Dave Lister, a regular reader of (and commenter on) this blog, has. He's in the paper today, announcing that he's pulling his small business out of Portland. Says it will save him and his partner $5,000 a year.

Dave, a lifelong Portlander, will continue to live in the city, though, and he says he might run against Comrade -- er, Commissioner Sten. Lister would have my support, that's for sure. (Would that make me a "Listerine"? Never mind.)

Speaking of campaigning against Sten, two men from the Libertarian Party (of all people) are circulating a petition to derail Opie's megalomaniacal fixation on having a public utility district here in Portlandia, even though two out of three voters and most businesses in the region don't want one. No one thinks they can actually raise the 17,794 valid signatures it will take by the extremely short deadline of August 5, but they're going to try.

If you would like to make history and have our tax dollars spent on something more important than taking over PGE -- like, say, oh, I don't know, a functioning emergency mental health service to stop crazies from stabbing you in the back on your way to lunch -- you can call the sponsors of the petition drive, Frank Dane and Kurt Weber. The phone numbers they gave the city when filing the petition were:

Kurt T. Weber - 503-460-2626 Francis Dane - 503-810-1880

Their website is at www.askthevotersfirst.org.

I know I'll be signing.

Comments (32)

Oh no! Not two jobs! Sheesh, please don't leave!

Hey, anecdotes talk, facts walk. And the facts from the Mayor's study last year showed that businesses aren't fleeing the city.

There's no reason to panic, or to bend over backwards to give up our livability just because business has sold us a bill of goods that they're fleeing.

Dave Lister of Integrated Data Concepts Inc must be an idiot to think that he can abandon the city (but he still maintain his residence, I know) and expect to be elected to office. We might have some elected officials here who don't know their head from a hole in the ground but this guy takes the cake...what a dummy...I have no faith in the city so I'm leaving, but vote for me on the way out...save us the time, Dave, and yourself the money and get the heck outta Portland altogether (save you I-tax money too) we don't elect quitters here! the nerve...lets get some real business owners who are committed to staying in, and improving this city, to run for city council.

Amen.

the nerve...lets get some real business owners who are committed to staying in, and improving this city, to run for city council.

Gert Boyle! No, wait... Somebody from Gardenburger! No, wait... Somebody from Fred Meyer! No, wait... Somebody from North Pacific Group!... No, wait... Somebody from Pacific Metal... No, wait...

Homer Williams! No, wait, he already runs the city...

facts from the Mayor's study last year

Bwahahahahaha. Yeah, you guys, keep getting your "facts" from Vera Katz. It's all a myth -- the business climate here is great.

[Wipes eyes.] Oh, dear.

Sweet Jesus, Jack, now you've gone and done it. You suggest that if Sten focussed his energy and the taxpayer's dollars to mental health rather than this PGE thing, people would not be stabbed by crazy people. That is a stretch to say the least.

First:

Sten + PGE = Portland (city)
Booby Hatch = Multnomah (county)
Different $, different priorities.

If you're looking for a tenuous relationship, what if the business lobby didn't advocate so hard to maintain the $10 minimum business income tax? Then we'd all have more money for all social services. What if PGE actually paid all of the tax money they collected from rate payers to the state?

I, for one, am happy that somebody is trying to do something so the tax I PAY in my PGE bill actually goes to my state to pay for public services (even the ones I don't take advantage of)

Finally, to get help, one must seek help. It doesn't appear this guy was being very proactive in his treatment.

If you want the County mental health folks to start driving around the city looking for people who might be crazy, maybe they should consult the local blogsphere to get a few good leads.

Jack, c'mon you don't know any business owners committed to the city that could take over Sten's seat. It's people like you that get people like Sten elected. Instead of throwing out qualified names of strong business owners in the city, you throw out BS and negativity. Lister aint never gonna get elected for abadoning the city. He might get an article in the paper, he might even get his name on the ballot, but Portland by and large isn't going to elect someone who has already given up on us.

I guess as the saying goes, "if you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem." Too bad you choose to be a part of the latter category and by doing so become nothing more than a side nuisance instead of being part of the discussion. What we do need is a qualified, committed, business advocate on the city council. Clearly Lister lacks the committed part and can't be taken seriously nor can your post endorsing him.

Jack,
Just got my first hate e-mail. That's a new experience for me

Lister would be a major improvement over Sten. I would vote for Lister in a Sten-Lister race. I'm sorry you have a problem with that.

If a better candidate came out of the business community, I'd vote for him or her over Sten, too. But until I have names to propose, I can't say anything bad about your cousin Erik? Wow.

As for the ad hominem "side nuisance" crack, that's a pretty funny comment coming from someone who's on this site several times a day...

That is a stretch to say the least.

It's called rhetoric -- look into it.

Sten is wasting taxpayer money on things that don't matter, while basic services such as public safety are being grossly underfunded. There, do you get it now?

Dave L, that's when you know you got to 'em. Congratulations, and thank you for what you are doing to highlight the serious problems in our city government.

Just a quick point. The city's business income tax pulls in 40 million annual. That's about 12% of the general fund budget. It's a tiny fraction of the overall budget. During the last couple of years studies to bury reservoirs, consultants for botched billing systems and studies to buy PGE have probably chewed through much more than that amount. The thing that has to be understood is that this method of taxation is discriminatory. The city and county take 3.65% of your income if you have a business, but they don't if you work for someone else. We're not talking about fat cats here. We're talking about your barber, your hairdresser, the tavern owner that draws your beers, the convenience store owner that sells you pop and cigarettes. These aren't Wal-Mart's folks, these are regular people just like you and I who chose to make their living the hard way; by doing it for themselves. A lot of these proprieters ended up having their own businesses because their companies down-sized during the recession, they lost their jobs and couldn't find new ones.

My hope is that the publicity over our decision will fuel a broader discussion about the city's taxing structure in general. Should people who make the same amount as a city commissioner pay $1100.00 per year in taxes just because they are in business for themselves?

Don't get me wrong, Jack, I am neither anti-business nor condoning the colossal wastes of taxpayer money in the last few years on the city, state and federal level. the reservoirs are a great example, not so good idea from a really smart guy.

Regarding the water bureau, I'm sure you picture Sten sitting in his office by himself trying to come up with ways to waste taxpayer's money,

"How about gold bricks in Pioneer Square?...Wait, wait, bottled french water in the Benson Bubblers...I know, I'm going to purchase a faulty computer program that will not accurately monitor the amount of water the city uses which in turn will cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars! Brilliant!"

The moral: Sometimes smart people make dumb decisions.

I cringe every time I send a check to PGE knowing the money isn't even going to the investors, it's going to the lawyers, creditors, and arbitrators. I'm tired of being corporate america's ATM/beeotch.

As for Mr. Lister, I have not yet had the pleasure of meeting you, and I wish you good luck in your new place. My only question is why you chose to set up shop in PDX in the first place. It's been cheaper to be outside the city for while. And we know how much you pay in business tax, but how much in personal income tax? I'm thinking that, with all of the tax bennies afforded to incorporated businesses such as yours, you aren't doing so bad.

And Jack, one man's rhetoric is another man's sophism.

Doug,
The fact is, there are no tax benefits to being a small corporation... not since the reform act of the 1980's. I am a single person, so I pay the highest rate of personal income tax. I live in Multnomah County, so I pay the county income tax. For every dollar that goes through my small company, 43% goes out in some kind of tax. That includes the employer side of payroll taxes, Tri-Met taxes, Workers Comp, City or County business tax, Federal Corporate income tax, State corporate income tax... etc, etc.
There are two common misconceptions folks have when you tell them you own your own business. The first is "you must be able to take all the time of that you want to". Heh. I have not had more than a three day weekend in twenty years. The second is "you must not pay any taxes". Huge corporations might be able to dodge taxes. I can assure you small corporations cannot. The outfits that are paying the $10.00 minimum state income tax are not outfits like mine.
I actually laid out both my personal and corporate tax liabilities in a column I wrote for Brainstorm magazine last year. I will e-mail it to you, or to anyone who wants it, via your link on this site.

Um, Dave, yeah, 12% of the city's general fund. Of course, your head is less than 12% of your body, so why don't you cut that off and see how you do? And hey, a thumb is only 10% of your fingers, so who needs it? General funds are cobbled together, and each piece, at least those pieces that are more than 5%, is important.

Study after academic study, and businessperson after businessperson, have shown that cutting taxes won't bring in more business. Maybe a few two-person businesses will move, but in the grand scheme, it's a lose-lose to cut taxes and services to try to make this a more attractive place to businesses.

Doesn't matter whether the guy is on his way out of town or not, businesspeople qua businesspeople don't get elected to squat in Portland, and especially not with that as their primary calling card. In fact, advocating for business is the death knell for any politician in Portland. How do you think we ended up with Tom Potter? How do you think we ended up with the likes of Eric The Small?

"The moral: Sometimes smart people make dumb decisions."

No, that is not the moral, Doug. The moral is that people who have never had a private sector job and play only with public money, limitless amounts of it to all intents and purposes, make unaccountable decisions. As Mr. Bird implies, in Portland they're basically safe & set for life, regardless.

Although, also, there are many kinds of "smart" and I credit Mr. Sten with none of any value.

,,,---"we don't elect quitters here!"----

Who is Charlie Hales?

Sally-

While I appreciate a response to my rants proving that they are, indeed, read rather than being skimmed over, I have a few questions regarding your response.

First,

"people who have never had a private sector job and play only with public money, limitless amounts of it to all intents and purposes, make unaccountable decisions."

They are held accountable on election day. If you don't agree with their actions, you can voice your opinion with your vote. If the person you voted for doesn't win, then, unfortunately you must deal with whomever is elected to office. Maybe you consider politicians 'unaccountable' because they make bad decisions and keep getting re-elected. This does not make them unaccountable, it merely demonstrates that the voting electorate didn't find any other candidate as qualified (whether true or not).

Maybe you meant to imply that because certain politicians never had private sector jobs they don't understand what the private sector needs. I've never owned a business, does that mean I can't understand the plight of the business owners? I'm not a homeowner, does that mean I can't appreciate the stresses that come with owning a home? Hardly.

Hell, when did I become Municipal Man: Defender of Bureaucracy? Some of the things this city does bug the heck out of me too. If I ran things the first thing I'd do is abolish the Parking Enforcement Squad. Talk about a revenue generating racket out to fleece yours truly.

And your comment, "there are many kinds of "smart" and I credit Mr. Sten with none of any value." I guess intelligence, like values, is a very subjective thing. Maybe this response to your response is in vain given that the weight of my words will depend on how much you value opposing points of view and how smart you think I am.

Sometimes smart people make dumb decisions.

Yes, but dumb people rarely make a smart decision. Clean money, PGE, water billing fiasco, MARC, streetcar, Convention Center, PGE Park, tram, it's all dumb.

But we turn our government over to such people, and thus get what we deserve. With few exceptions, smart people don't want the job, it appears.

I'm not sure I would be so quick to dismiss the viability of a Lister candidacy. In my experience, at least, Dave doesn't appear to be a member of the Lars Larson Raving Loon Party, and he certainly has a unique perspective to share on the Water Bureau software issue, given what he does for a living.

"...he certainly has a unique perspective to share on the Water Bureau software issue, given what he does for a living."

Silly bix, don't you know that competent people aren't allowed in City Hall? Maybe an exception for members of the retired community...maybe.

But the oddest thing is that Dave and Lars Larson are indeed close personal friends.

I heard that Dave Lister actually belongs to a secret society of religious conservatives that meets once a month (at an old farmhouse in Estacada). Dave is their newest initiate, his pledge project was to carve a checkerboard for Kevin Mannix out of a piece of old growth timber.

After his brutal hazing by Bro's Nashif and Mabon (to test his "loyalty"), Dave now looks to infiltrate the City Council as a covert agent.

If you ask him about any of this, he'll deny it (secrecy oath and such).

The city and county take 3.65% of your income if you have a business, but they don't if you work for someone else. We're not talking about fat cats here. We're talking about your barber, your hairdresser, the tavern owner that draws your beers, the convenience store owner that sells you pop and cigarettes.

It is my understanding that you can deduct a significant amount of income before paying these taxes as a sole proprietor, as described here:
http://www.portlandonline.com/shared/cfm/image.cfm?id=41324#definitionofincome

So it seems that most of the examples cited aren't going to get snagged by this fee/tax in a big way.

But maybe I'm missing something. As someone just recently starting out in my own business, this definitely has my attention... but it seems like a stretch to say that every mom & pop business is handing over 3.64% to the City & County. Maybe the resident tax expert here can chime in.

"...but it seems like a stretch to say that every mom & pop business is handing over 3.64% to the City & County."

I hand over 1.25% (additional!) just for the kids in Portland. That's above the other taxes. And I don't work for myself. +3.5% tax being slipped in for folks running their own business actually sounds a little low.

corky at July 14, 2005 11:45 PM But the oddest thing is that Dave and Lars Larson are indeed close personal friends.

JK: And your point is?

JK: Perhaps a little guilt by asociation?

JK: And you have no friends that you disagree with politically? (Actually this is probably the case as you made such a statemnt. You would benefit for the exchange of ideas if you broadened you circle of friends) (Yes I know I'm streatchin it a bit)

Thanks
JK

"Dave doesn't appear to be a member of the Lars Larson Raving Loon Party"
Posted by The One True b!X at July 14, 2005 11:15 PM

My comment was in reference to the comment from b!X. I have not hung out with Lister and Larson on Cigar Night but they do share some of the same ideas - Dave is just more moderate when speaking than Lars - a credit to his potential political savvy. But don't be fooled - he and Larson do agree on more than a few things.

Still that does not disqualify him from being an interesting choice for the race. The fact that he can find more than a little common ground with Lars is a concern - not that he enjoys the friendship in spite of Lars raving on other topics.

Doug, to try to answer your questions:

"They are held accountable on election day. If you don't agree with their actions, you can voice your opinion with your vote. If the person you voted for doesn't win, then, unfortunately you must deal with whomever is elected to office. Maybe you consider politicians 'unaccountable' because they make bad decisions and keep getting re-elected. This does not make them unaccountable, it merely demonstrates that the voting electorate didn't find any other candidate as qualified (whether true or not)."

My take on Portland area politicos is that they are "accountable" primarily, almost only, for the right, er, left, politically correct patter, not things that matter.

"Maybe you meant to imply that because certain politicians never had private sector jobs they don't understand what the private sector needs. I've never owned a business, does that mean I can't understand the plight of the business owners? I'm not a homeowner, does that mean I can't appreciate the stresses that come with owning a home? Hardly."

Hmmm. I don't know that you could appreciate homeowner stresses if you haven't owned one. For sure I don't think Erik Sten is capable of appreciating life for the middle masses across the Portland area. Too spoiled, too cloistered, too young. He's never been out there.

"And your comment, 'there are many kinds of "smart" and I credit Mr. Sten with none of any value.' I guess intelligence, like values, is a very subjective thing."

Yes, after reading Jack's summary of Erik I realize I was much too vague & too soft.

Maybe this response to your response is in vain given that the weight of my words will depend on how much you value opposing points of view and how smart you think I am."

Well, I think I love opposing points of view. Politics tends to replace sharp thoughts and language with a style and lingo mostly its own. Watch the PPS or City Council public access channels and notice that all the meaning is not in the words but rather between the lines. Even then, you have to have the decoder ring.

In my view Erik et al operate in a rarefied vacuum largely of their own or insider creation, forming their own reality, supported by a critical voter mass, and playing with a large portions of public monies toward purposes of no or dubious public benefit. I find the support of it deluded.

It catches me off-guard sometimes to read, or realize, that Mr. Bogdanski actually is a Democrat. That sea of difference between him & the mushhead mushmouths isn't the difference between a Republican and a Democrat (though he sometimes is given to wonder); it is the difference between a sharp critical mind and a dogmatic, even deceitful one.

The guy’s real name is Dave Lister?!?
I just always assumed it was a pseudonym from the BBC comedy Red Dwarf.

Mr. Lister--how is paying taxes for the privilege to run a business in the City discriminatory? It seems like the concept of taxing business opportunity is foreign to you, but I assure you it's common.

And I'm always impressed by Sally's "if you haven't worked in private business, you're not fit to run anything" perspective. It's so flexible and all-applicable!

"And I'm always impressed by Sally's "if you haven't worked in private business, you're not fit to run anything" perspective. It's so flexible and all-applicable!"

Yikes, I'm just a flunkie, dude. Unlike scott-in-japan's assertion elsewhere on this blog, my college degree never got me a salary higher than (or nearly as high as most) public employees; I just don't think that ought to be so much the norm. Mr. Sten looks vividly to me to be elected too young to lifetime pattering, pandering and playing with public funds, of which he has no concept how hard they are come by for most.

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Neil Young - Waging Heavy Peace
Mark Bego - Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul (2012 ed.)
Jenny Lawson - Let's Pretend This Never Happened
J.D. Salinger - Franny and Zooey
Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol
Timothy Egan - The Big Burn
Deborah Eisenberg - Transactions in a Foreign Currency
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. - Slaughterhouse Five
Kathryn Lance - Pandora's Genes
Cheryl Strayed - Wild
Fyodor Dostoyevsky - The Brothers Karamazov
Jack London - The House of Pride, and Other Tales of Hawaii
Jack Walker - The Extraordinary Rendition of Vincent Dellamaria
Colum McCann - Let the Great World Spin
Niccolò Machiavelli - The Prince
Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird
Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus - The Nanny Diaries
Brian Selznick - The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Sharon Creech - Walk Two Moons
Keith Richards - Life
F. Sionil Jose - Dusk
Natalie Babbitt - Tuck Everlasting
Justin Halpern - S#*t My Dad Says
Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
Barry Glassner - The Gospel of Food
Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
Jesse Katz - The Opposite Field
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice
Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Mitch Albom - Have a Little Faith
C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 246
At this date last year: 92
Total run in 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269


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