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Opinion

Opinion

Mark Shull, Candidate for Clackamas County Commission

To me, true fiscal conservatism means spending taxpayer dollars the same way in which you manage your household budget.

Think about it this way—most people get paid on a regular basis and have to prioritize bills. Rent, utilities, and insurance usually come first, along with debt service like car and student loans and credit card payments.

But before you even get the chance to pay any of those, money has already been taken out of your check. There’s the federal income tax, FICA and Medicare taxes. Then there’s the Oregon income tax, which is one of the highest in the United States. If you live in the Portland metropolitan area, you get the privilege of paying an additional transit tax and Metro’s layers of funding streams.

Once all that is taken out of your check, you still have to purchase household necessities such as groceries, cleaning and hygiene products. You’ll want to budget for gas to make sure you can get to work to keep the paychecks coming. Maybe you budget for entertainment expenses like going to the movies or dining out, as circumstances allow. If anything is left over, you probably try to set some money aside in case of emergency. Continue reading

Bryan Fischer

California, Oregon, and Washington have been aflame for weeks now, and Governor Newsom of California has identified the culprit: global warming.

But he’s wrong – dead wrong – and as long as he thinks he’s right, he won’t do the things that are necessary to prevent more of his people, their homes, and their towns from being incinerated.

The problem is not the climate, it’s horrible, no good, very bad forest management. Decades and decades of neglect have allowed a catastrophic fuel load to build up on the forest floor. Allowing cattle to graze on forest land would take care of a lot of that, but alas, even that is not permitted. Consequently forests go up like Roman candles when dry lightning hits. Too many bug-eaten trees growing too close together, their crowns interlacing, is a recipe for Chernobyl-like conflagrations.

The Pacific Northwest, as I write these words, has the worst air quality in the world because of these fires. The EPA has an Air Quality Index. A rating above 300 indicates the entire population in an area is likely to be affected and an emergency health warning is triggered. On Monday, numerous areas in the Pacific Northwest recorded index levels of over 500. Chelan, Wash., west of Seattle had fine particle levels measured at 510.

California forests today feature 150 million dead trees, perfect kindling for raging, out-of-control infernos that consume everything in their path. This has happened because harvesting of trees has been banned like it was an indoor church in Newsom’s California. Continue reading

John R. Charles, Jr. President, Cascade Policy Institute

The state legislature is seeking policy proposals for “equity in education.” Here’s an idea: how about a money-back guarantee for public schools?

The K-12 system is based on the assumption that all students should attend neighborhood public schools. Even in the best of times, that wasn’t working for many families. Now the assigned schools aren’t even open; the governor has mandated online learning.

Virtual education has some benefits, but also imposes new costs for parents. They are now part of the educational workforce, except they’re not getting compensated.

There is a solution. School districts are funded from three primary sources: the state school fund, the federal government, and local property taxes. The state share alone averages about $10,000 per student annually. The legislature should offer parents a refund of the $10,000 if they leave the public school system. This would instantly make the departing families better off, while reducing crowded conditions for those students who remain. With fewer students, it would be easier for public schools to restore classroom education. Everyone wins.

One system cannot satisfy all needs. The best way to give families more options is to provide them with the equivalent of a Food Stamp card upon request, and let them swipe it for the instructional services they need.

John A. Charles, Jr. is President and CEO of Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free-market public policy research organization.

Pastor Matthew Cummings

I have been concerned about the current political situation, and how our constitutional republic is under assault.

Groups like Black Lives Matter and Antifa are left-wing Marxists whose goal is to destroy our civilization through thuggish actions and other forms of intimidation. These groups hope to sway people away from voting for President Trump and to vote for Joe Biden. Add to this scenario the pandemic and we see wide-scale chaos.

We can see a very crafted and calculated agenda unfolding before our eyes. Everything being said by the leftist mainstream media is a lie to deceive the American people.

This is the first of four articles explaining why the Black community votes Democratic.The first lie started with the 1912 presidential election.

William H. Taft, the Republican incumbent, was vying against former President Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909) for the Republican nomination. The Republican Party was split between the two candidates, and this gave Governor Woodrow Wilson (D-NJ) a chance to capitalize on the division and undermine the Black voting bloc who since the end of the Civil War had strongly supported Republican candidates. Continue reading

The Navajo Nation and New Mexico vs. incompetence and bad faith in the USEPA

On August 5, five years to the day after suffering from a 3-million-gallon spill of heavy-metal-laden toxic wastewater from Colorado’s Gold King Mine, the State of Utah announced a settlement of its claims against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and several EPA contractors (who thus far have not been held responsible, accountable or liable) for their alleged negligence in allowing the spill.

The notorious, devastating accident turned Cement Creek and the Animas, San Juan and Colorado Rivers yellow all the way from Colorado through New Mexico and Utah and into Lake Powell. The settlement is good news. Yet those whose memories of are faulty at best may not realize that the EPA is still in the throes of a consolidated lawsuit filed by the State of New Mexico, the Navajo Nation, and a group of 295 Navajo farmers and ranchers (and 16 other individuals) who were harmed by the spill.

Indeed, the Obama Administration made it very clear early on that neither the EPA nor the Federal Emergency Management Agency would provide just compensation for the damages caused by the incident, in which an EPA contractor using a backhoe to dig away rock and debris from the adit (mine portal or entrance) opened the floodgates. The spill happened because no one had done any testing to determine the height, volume or quality of water inside the mine. Continue reading

Five years after the infamous blowout, EPA finally settles with Utah over Gold King pollution

On the fifth anniversary of the notorious spill of 3 million gallons of heavily contaminated acid mine water from the Gold King Mine in southwestern Colorado, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and State of Utah announced an agreement that ends the state’s lawsuit.

Neither the EPA nor the contractors involved at the Gold King spill site are entirely off the hook for their alleged missteps that resulted in downstream damages. Lawsuits filed by the Navajo Nation, the State of New Mexico, and a group of Navajo farmers and ranchers have been consolidated, and discovery is proceeding, with a projected trial date sometime in late 2021.

Pursuant to the agreement, Utah will dismiss its legal actions against the EPA and the United States; mining companies Kinross Gold Corporation, Kinross Gold U.S.A., Inc., Sunnyside Gold Corporation, and Gold King Mines Corporation; and EPA’s contractors: Environmental Restoration, LLC, Weston Solutions, Inc. and Harrison Western Corporation. EPA also agreed to strengthen Utah’s involvement in the EPA’s work to address contamination at the Bonita Peak Mining District Superfund Site, which includes the Gold King Mine and other abandoned mines.

The agency further agreed to act on the Utah Department of Environmental Quality’s application for $3 million in Clean Water Act funds for various projects, including the development of water quality criteria for Utah Lake, septic density studies, nonpoint source pollution reduction projects, and nutrient management plans for agricultural sources. Continue reading

Bryan Fischer

The tyrannical governor of California, Gavin Newsom, has declared war on the church of Jesus Christ in the Golden State. He is looking to claim his first victim in the person of John MacArthur, the longtime pastor of Grace Community Church.

MacArthur is ignoring the latest edict from Gov. Newsom, which totally bans indoor worship services. However, Gov. Newsom’s diktat does not have the force of law, since he has zero legal authority to issue coercive mandates like this. We live in a republic, not a dictatorship, a fact that seems to have escaped the governor’s attention.

Most state legislatures have granted their governors temporary authority to issue emergency orders for obvious reasons – an emergency may be sudden and unforeseen and require some kind of government intervention until the legislature can convene to deal with it. These emergency orders typically expire after 30 days, and must be renewed by the state legislature or the governor’s emergency authority lapses. Newsom’s 30 days ran out a long time ago.

So he may think he can act with emperor-like power over the church, but he can’t. Not in America.

He has compounded his problem by targeting MacArthur’s church for mean spirited reprisal. The church has been operating its parking lot on a long term lease with Los Angeles County, a lease that has been in effect for 45 years with no problems. The governor has evidently decided that if he cannot shut the church down, he’ll just evict it. The church has until the end of September to abandon the parking lot or the county will sweep in and confiscate everything on it that isn’t nailed down. Continue reading

Eric Fruits, Ph.D.

President Trump is frequently accused of lying. But he doesn’t have a monopoly on falsehood. Look around the Portland region and you’ll see our local politicians lying to us. We live in our own Pinocchio-land.

Metro’s “Get Moving 2020” ballot measure is a $5.2 billion tax increase disguised as a transportation measure. It’s a permanent tax on the total compensation paid by every private business and nonprofit with more than 25 employees. Metro says it’s a payroll tax, but it’s much more. It will tax every dollar you earn — even the money you save for retirement.

Comedian John Oliver says, “If you want to do something evil, put it inside something boring.” And, that’s what Portland City Council has done with a major charter change packaged as some minor housekeeping.

Portland says the amendment merely clarifies the charter. In reality, the amendment will open a spending tap with water customers on the hook for ever rising water bills.

Portland Public Schools deserves its own wing in the Hall of Pinocchios. PPS put a $1.2 billion bond measure on the November ballot. About $200 million of the new money will be used to fill cost overruns on the projects funded by the 2017 bond.

How did PPS run $200 million over budget? Simple: PPS lied to us. The school board intentionally low-balled cost estimates to fool voters into approving the measure.

This year, voters must put an end to the billions of dollars of fibs our local politicians are telling. Pinocchio learned his lesson about lying; it’s time for our politicians to learn theirs.

Eric Fruits, Ph.D. is Vice President of Research at Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research center.

John A. Charles, Jr.

Last month, the Metro Council voted to send a regional payroll tax to the November ballot. The rationale for the new $250-million-a-year tax is primarily to help fund a 12-mile light rail extension from Portland to Bridgeport Village in Tigard. It will also pay for a smattering of minor transportation projects throughout the region, but those are just ornaments on the tree.

There are at least three problems with this proposal. The first is that we already pay two transit taxes: the TriMet payroll tax assessed on employers, and the statewide transit tax collected from employees’ paychecks that was adopted by the Legislature in 2017. Most people don’t benefit from either one, because they don’t use transit. Adding a third tax to pay for light rail to Tigard ¬– called the Southwest Corridor project – makes no sense.

Second, light rail ridership peaked in 2012 and has been dropping ever since. Now, amid the coronavirus pandemic, it is down about 70% from last July, according to TriMet ridership numbers. With many worried about the inability to physically distance on public transit and the prospect that some may work from home permanently, more rail is the wrong project at the wrong time. Continue reading

Bryan Fischer

They set a net for my steps; my soul was bowed down. They dug a pit in my way, but they have fallen into it themselves. ~ Psalm 57:6

We are watching a display of biblical justice play out right before our eyes. Democrats have fallen into the pit they have dug for Donald Trump and they can’t get out.

The waves of mayhem that have swept over Democrat-run cities – all of them President Trump’s fault, according to regressives – are starting to return to shore in a tsunami that will sweep Democrat regressives off the political map.

Today’s Democrats have no agenda. Their entire platform message at the DNC was “Orange Man Bad.” They spent four days demonizing President Trump and blaming him for everything from random violence to halitosis.

This is their entire campaign strategy – to convince the nation that Trump is responsible for everything that plagues America, including the chaos in cities that have been run by Democrats for decades. Continue reading

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