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Local & Regional

"We have to get way out of the box if we're going to get serious about getting young people into college and out of college without burdening them with a lifetime of debt," said Mark Hass, a Democratic state senator from Beaverton, Ore., who leads the chamber's education committee and who championed the bill. The legislation was supported by the Working Families Party.
Planned expansions would eclipse region’s clean energy aspirations.
On Thursday, June 20, 2013 Oregon’s Portland City Council unanimously voted to approve a budget that had been one of the most grassroots-contested examples of austerity in recent memory.
"I cannot visit a shelter for children escaping prostitution," and look victims in the eye, she said, "if I vote to cut funding for their treatment."
The following illustrate some possibilities:
  1. Implement a progressive and permanent county income tax. A temporary flat tax won voter support in 2003.
  2. Implement a cellphone tax; Eugene has one.
  3. Implement a progressive business tax. Right now small and large businesses (food carts and Bank of America) pay the same low 2.2 percent profit tax.
  4. Expand the range of businesses subject to fees. Restaurants pay fees for health inspections. Financial institutions should be charged fees to cover the cost of regulating their activities.
  5. Raise public utility license fees and partner with regulatory agencies to minimize rate increases. Stockholders of privately owned utilities should shoulder some of the cost of maintaining a healthy city.
  6. Restructure Portland Development Commission policies to ensure that gains from redevelopment are shared. At present, property taxes collected in areas designated for redevelopment, such as the Pearl District, can only be reinvested in the same area.
  7. Put a city carbon tax on the fast track. A carbon tax would help the city achieve its own Climate Action Plan targets, as well as provide a new source of tax revenue.
Grassroots climate and anti-extraction activists in the Pacific Northwest scored a victory over one of the world’s most powerful industries. Kinder Morgan, an energy company that operates 26,000 miles of pipelines and owns 170 largely energy-related export terminals, announced it is scrapping plans to build a large coal export terminal on the Columbia River. Kinder Morgan’s decision to walk away from the Columbia came after months of steady grassroots opposition, and the company made the announcement two days after locals turned out in large numbers at a hearing to oppose the project. For environmental groups in the region, this looks like the culmination of a well-coordinated effort to protect communities along the Columbia from coal pollution.
Those last-minute salvages from $21.5 million in budget cuts include keeping the Police Bureau's Mounted Patrol Unit, Buckman Pool and two programs that aid victims of sex trafficking. Citizens have loudly protested all three cuts in the past month. "Public hearings matter," Portland mayor Charlie Hales told reporters at a roundtable in City Hall. "When people show up and have an opinion, this City Council listens."
When there is still much too much unemployment and no imminent danger of inflation, fiscal austerity is insane! Economic theory predicts it. History proves it. And any competent economist who is not in the service of the 1% will tell you as much.
The urban renewal projects will be paid for with property tax dollars that otherwise would pay for schools, county and city services.
If he gets his way, Portland Mayor Charlie Hales’s austerity axe will continue to swing at the city's most vulnerable citizens.
One of the hot-button topics in state politics -- drones -- has come to Oregon, igniting a debate over technology, privacy and the promise of a tantalizing new industry.
It’s poor, it’s dangerous, it’s growing like crazy—and it’s more important than ever.
Just Do It, Or Else…
Shamus Cooke, who helped organize the rally as part of the group the People's Budget Project, said politicians who give in too easily to the Nike bill could face opposition at the ballot box.
It’s difficult to build a pre-election protest with so many labor and community groups busy campaigning for Democrats. Nevertheless, over 1,000 people marched the streets in Portland, Oregon on November 3rd against austerity cuts to education and other public services and the consequent debt accumulated by students.
The “video game aspect of it was very disturbing to me,” Cooper says, noting that 60 nations have drones usable for military purposes. “It was difficult to see where that was going to end,” she says.
The City of Portland is about to try out a new kind of project labor agreement on public construction contracts. The 23-page “Model Community Benefits Agreement” approved Sept. 5 mandates that on future City construction projects, unions will represent workers, and women and minority workers and contractors will have expanded opportunities.
In a four-page "Report to the Community" Portland City Auditor LaVonne Griffin-Valade noted, "The City's overall financial position has lost ground due to the growing debt, unfunded liabilities and funding gaps in maintaining infrastructure." Debt service, largely for urban renewal projects, is taking an increasing share of the city's revenue, leaving less for general fund programs such as police, fire and parks.

See Also:

- A report to our community From Portland City Auditor LaVonne Griffin-Valade July 2012

See Also:

- FBI Agents Raid Homes in Search of “Anarchist Literature”
- FBI Raids Political Activists in Northwestern U.S.
Here’s a real and easy to understand fact: Tax breaks in Oregon have grown by $3.4 billion just since 2009. In terms of harmful budget impact on Oregon’s schools and critical services, nothing even comes close to our runaway tax breaks and loopholes, many of which go to large corporations and the rich. And yet? The Oregonian has never once editorialized about the billions we’re losing through these tax breaks.
Portland City Auditor LaVonne Griffin-Valade released a four-page "report to our community" Wednesday, in an effort to provide the public with a summary of the city's finances.
Did the Portland Development Commission rush to judgment?
On May 5th in Portland, Oregon, a group of 80 activists from a broad array of labor and community groups met to discuss the region's ongoing budget crises. Instead of simply complaining of cuts, however, the meeting was meant to discuss alternatives, both immediate and more structural.
We are facing a budget crisis in the city of Portland for the same reason virtually every other city and state in this country is facing a budget crisis: In 2008, investment bankers and hedge fund CEOs drove this country into the biggest, most prolonged, most severe economic crisis we've seen since the Great Depression.
  • PROPOSED EDUCATION URBAN RENEWAL AREA - These are challenging economic times. Teacher layoffs, school closures, cuts to public safety, parks and infrastructure maintenance are in the news on a regular basis. When considering using urban renewal as a financing tool, it is important to:
• Appreciate the impact urban renewal has on basic city, county and school services; and
• Evaluate whether the proposed urban renewal projects truly are a higher priority than the city, county and school services that will be adversely affected by the diversion of property tax dollars over the life of the district.
Portland Public Schools is a land of many chiefs.
“I look around here and all I see are broken hearts.”
“For every dollar we save now,” said Labors’ Local 483’s Kevin Stampflee, “we lose ten dollars down the road when things are worse. So do we wait for it to crumple, or do we fix it now?”
Proposed urban-renewal area could boost university development by $100 million
How are government budgets created, and in whose interests?

National & Global

Workers from dozens of countries on six continents are joining the push for higher pay and worker rights, it was announced Wednesday at a press conference outside a McDonald's restaurant in Midtown Manhattan by Fast Food Forward, which represents U.S. fast-food workers.
Today’s uprisings may be the harbinger of a new era of radical democratic aspirations in which autonomous movements could come to play a central role.
It is well known that the level of income inequality stretches much higher[1] in the United States than in the other developed countries of Europe and North America. Now a report from the International Labour Organization[2] shows that U.S. inequality has literally gone off the chart.
An experiment with direct democracy on Chicago’s South Side.
Incomes and tax revenues have grown from 2009 to 2011 as the economy recovered, but an astonishing 149 percent of the increased income went to the top 10 percent of earners. If you wonder how that can happen, the answer is simple: Incomes fell for the bottom 90 percent. The rich really are getting richer while the vast majority is getting poorer. These facts should be at the center of any debate about changes in tax law and spending.
Right to the City Alliance's (RTC) Urban Congress Model is an attempt to answer that question. RTC developed this model as a means to create intersections amongst diverse sectors in the city, foster relationships within regions and mobilize organizations in our network. Our groups support each other in addressing their communities' respective city struggles through sharing strategies and effective tools for organizing.
An explosion in extreme wealth and income is exacerbating inequality and hindering the world’s ability to tackle poverty, Oxfam warned today in a briefing published ahead of the 2013 World Economic Forum in Davos.
Workers at a Nike shoe factory in Indonesia say the factory paid military personnel to intimidate them into working for less than the minimum wage.
On October 7, 2012, Chávez won by an 11-point margin in an election process described by Jimmy Carter as “the best in the world.”
With the November elections right around the corner, the millions of unemployed and under-employed have little reason to care. Aside from some sparse rhetoric, neither Democrats nor Republicans have offered a solution to job creation. Most politicians seem purposefully myopic about the jobs crisis, as if a healthy dose of denial might get them through the electoral season unscathed.
This is a fundamental dimension of the larger structural crisis of capitalism: how do you deal with a kind of surplus humanity? It’s not just keeping wages down anymore but it is actually something that is a real political problem for the ruling class. So I think the destruction of public housing, and public schools even more so, has been key to that.
Countering the Cutting Frenzy
To an extent rarely seen in recessions since the Great Depression, wages for a swath of the labor force this time have taken a sharp and swift fall.
Stockton and San Bernardino were brought down by the most severe housing busts in the nation, and by banks peddling subprime mortgages to poorly paid workers.
The Rising Tide of Unemployment in America
A Victory for Obamacare, a Defeat for the Left
The country's biggest banks are happy to make their money from the same governments about which they love to whine.
While labor is under powerful battering from conservatives, a strong case can be made that they aren't being supported by some of our most prominent human rights groups.
The community is standing up in Oakland! The community is fighting austerity by taking over a local school. Support if possible!
The United States is abandoning its role as the global champion of human rights. Revelations that top officials are targeting people to be assassinated abroad, including American citizens, are only the most recent, disturbing proof of how far our nation’s violation of human rights has extended. This development began after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and has been sanctioned and escalated by bipartisan executive and legislative actions, without dissent from the general public. As a result, our country can no longer speak with moral authority on these critical issues.
Falling Revenues and Growing Demand for Services Challenge Cities, Counties, and School Districts
Unless the labor movement educates and re-organizes its forces quickly, the recent losses will serve as a catalyst for union busting on a national scale, unseen in modern times.
In this presidential election year, when the outcome hinges on the economy, the phrases “job creation” and “job creators” are quick to roll off the candidates’ tongues. It is not hard to see why. With up to 24 million unemployed and underemployed, and those working subject to the downward pressure this creates in living standards, the need for full time jobs looms large.
Since the 2010 elections, when Republicans took control of many states, there has been an explosion of legislation advancing privatization of public schools and stripping teachers of job protections and collective bargaining rights.
Republicans are in talks about pushing a bill to extend the Bush-era tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 before the November election, and ahead of their expiration in January.
The Buffett Rule bill would "restore the confidence of middle-class Americans in our tax system by assuring that those at the very top of the income spectrum aren't paying lower rates than regular families do."
Mass Action Gets Results
There are no donor names, no clues as to whether they are individuals, companies or trade groups, and no hint as to whether there are repeated donors from year to year.
  1. OECD: Inequality Rising Faster than Ever - The Great Recession has widened the gap between the developed world’s affluent and everyone else.
  2. International Labour Organization