This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 15, 2006 9:13 PM. The previous post in this blog was Happy birthday. The next post in this blog is Guess who's to blame for the tram. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

E-mail, Feeds, 'n' Stuff

Sunday, January 15, 2006

How about it?

Cousin Jim asks an obvious question.

Comments (10)

Here is the rule I had to live by in federal government, 5 CFR 2635.204:

(a) Gifts of $20 or less. An employee may accept unsolicited gifts having an aggregate market value of $20 or less per source per occasion, provided that the aggregate market value of individual gifts received from any one person under the authority of this paragraph shall not exceed $50 in a calendar year. This exception does not apply to gifts of cash or of investment interests such as stock, bonds, or certificates of deposit. Where the market value of a gift or the aggregate market value of gifts offered on any single occasion exceeds $20, the employee may not pay the excess value over $20 in order to accept that portion of the gift or those gifts worth $20. Where the aggregate value of tangible items offered on a single occasion exceeds $20, the employee may decline any distinct and separate item in order to accept those items aggregating $20 or less.

Speaking of the Joint Ethics Regulation, you should read Chapter 9, Post-Government Service Employment, also found in 5 CFR 2637.

The City of Portland could adopt something like this...

Heck, forget about post-government employment. As I understand it, we recently had a part-time city employee simultaneously working for a developer with matters before his department -- or at least, he had already accepted employment with that developer. And the only penalty appears to be that the city commissioners will now use him as a scapegoat for their bad judgment after he's off to L.A.

Anybody remember Saint Hatfield's Steuben glass figurines? "I thought they were worth $50," or something like that. Another big aerial tram [rim shot] fan.

Suppose I create a ABN for me, with a happy sounding foundation name, then solicit money for tickets to a thingy at the Oregon Convention Center where featured speakers come from the Oregon legislature. Are the ticket sales unearned income that I must report on my personal taxes? If I need only report the net over the cost of the space rental and advertising fees then can I alternatively donate the money from my own income, earned or otherwise, and obtain a full deduction on my reportable income for these costs? It would seem to follow, ipso facto.

I could seek a declaratory judgment, demanding to be treated in like manner to someone else. It would be to illuminate a public interest by demanding fairness in taxation in the face of such screwy gifts.

There is an arbitrary quality to such matters, involving potential criminal tax fraud claims.

Here is a real simple clean government rule to try:

1. NO campaign donor (direct or indirect) may receive any special considerations, government assets, or government money of any kind, after making said donation. (Include paychecks?)

2. No government money, or assets, may go to any group that lobbies, or influences public opinion. Except as an open market purchase at fair market value, by bidding if sizable.

Putting this into code language may be tricky, but potentially simpler than what we have now.


It would seem obvious that we wouldn't have to worry so much about the government if we got out of this false left-right paradigm and started to get serious about how the national government is aggregating power.

Citizens need to say "no" and snap out of the slave mentality even worse than government does. Every time the government creates a problem (terror blowback, inept hurricane response, etc), and the media coverage of the reaction pumps us full of fear, maybe we should say "no" and stop accepting their false solution of further centralization of power and budget increases. Stop accepting military troops deployed domestically, stop accepting gun confiscation, stop accepting federal grants with strings attached that further federalization, stop reelecting federal incumbents. Stop buying the staged left-right paradigm where each bought and paid for side whipsaws people into falsely divided interest groups and then sells them out.

Rosa Parks on the bus had the right idea. That's where ending the new "show me your papers" society starts.

Why should city --or any level of government-- employees take any gifts? We work for a salary to provide services equally to all, free of bias. "Gifts" have no place in the equation.

Unfortunately, with campaign contributions a form of "free speech", the rule of unbiased and equal provision of services gets turned on its head. Publically-financed campaigns are a response to this, though time will tell how well this really works, in our cynical world.

Reading in this morning's Oregonian that "about half" of our state legislators have family on the payroll...how easily we accept the small corruptions, and then are "shocked, shocked" when we're paying Bill Garrard's (R-Klamath Falls) wife $1,000 a month for legislative work she's doing, all the while living in Las Vegas.

Government employees don't need "gifts." If you want to work for tips, you can choose to work in the restaurant industry.

Nearly every state has something equivalent to Oregon's Equal Privileges and Immunities Clause, and it is not limited in application to a select set of classes as with the Fourteenth Amendment, limited also by the Commerce Clause. Simple, quit splitting economic classes to mete out reward and punishment, as law.

The problem with a total gift ban is that powerful special interests will always get money to politicians, period. Meanwhile, you stop those same politicians from accepting, for instance, cookies at a party thrown by a local Chamber of Commerce. There are also a TON of very legitimate friendships between people who are covered by ethics rules (I was when I was nonpartisan legislative staff) and people who are covered as lobbyists. I know many stories of people who literally could not give wedding gifts, baby-shower gifts, lunches... anything they'd normally give.

It sounds good, the absolutely-not-even-a-cup-of-coffee-shall-change-hands rule, but it gets very complicated.

Clicky Web Analytics