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Govt. Bureaucracies – The Eternal Growth Industry

Monday, July 22, 2013

The “Fighting Irish” grandstand is being demolished in preparation for the restoration of the old Waldport High School campus to open space use. This project is funded by a $3-million Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). FEMA has purchased all the structures and development rights at the site to prevent future development in a tsunami inundation zone. In turn, the Lincoln County School District will demolish and remove the school buildings, portable classrooms, and grandstands; restore the site into open space; and maintain the property in perpetuity with no future development other than that related to the open-space use.

Newport (OR) News, July 9, 2013

Lane Solutions  Responds:

Huh? “Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant”? In case there’s a tsunami in Waldport? The last one was 49 years ago. How many hurricanes, tornadoes and floods have occurred since then in highly predictable places? What has FEMA done to “mitigate” these?

FEMA is the poster child for government bureaucracies. Created to relieve hardship caused by Milwaukee, WI floods, FEMA has metastasized into an ever-expanding governmental blob that looks for new “maybe-they’ll- happen” disasters to conquer.

FEMA’s website reveals that the idea for this national bureau “Began on a fall day in Washington DC while eating crepes.” Says it all, doesn’t it?

The website proudly proclaims FEMA’s mission as “Progressively mov(ing) innovation to the forefront of our thinking in emergency management.” Said mission is larded up with palaver about “stakeholders,” “think tanks,” transparent dialogue” and the like.

Are these the geniuses who mistakenly doled out $385 Million to Katrina victims? Whose “innovation” included leaving tons of bottled water and meals in Georgia when Hurricane Sandy hit New Jersey?

Bureaucracies like FEMA are conceived in missions that expand to justify more employees, and grow like kudzu on steroids – eternally nourished by ever expanding government.

Hatched in Milwaukee, FEMA lives on in Waldport to tear down a football grandstand. It’s the poster child for government bureaucracies gone berserk.

Tell Us What You Think in the Comment Box Below

Ed. Note: Do you need a federally approved disaster plan for your pet bunny? You might. Find out why in a coming issue of Lane Solutions.


Generous OR Legislature State Aids Poor Ol’ Hyatt Resorts & Hotels

Monday, July 22, 2013

SALEM — In a last-minute flurry of money bills, Oregon lawmakers approved more than $1 billion for construction projects, salary increases and university tuition reductions Monday before shutting down the 2013 Legislature.

Legislation approved on the final day included money for — among dozens of other projects — a new or refurbished Multnomah County Courthouse, sidewalks in east Portland, a convention center hotel in Portland, a ton of construction on college campuses and even a raise for the governor.

Henry Esteve, The Oregonian

Lane Solutions Responds:

Now Hyatt Corp., owner of 492 luxury hotels, spas and resorts from Scottsdale to Dubai to Honolulu and back can breathe easy – because the ever generous Oregon Legislature has agreed to toss them $10 million to help build hotel #493 (and a Grand Hyatt at that!)  at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland.

Tina Kotek, House Speaker and Patron Saint of Largesse, assures us that this $10 million, as well as the rest of her $1 billion of giveaways means “(There) are going to be immediate jobs around the state.”

OK, now we get it: If Tina hadn’t tossed this cool billion after Hyatt, etc. it would have just been buried in some rich guys’ back yards. Right? None of it would have been invested in starting or expanding businesses and creating jobs. Not one cent.

Here Ms. Kotek reveals the basic belief of a statist: That the government is a more efficient allocator of resources than are private citizens and markets. Hey, it’s the thinking that turned Cuba, Venezuela, Romania, etc. into economic powerhouses! Can it do the same for Oregon?

Tell us what you think in the Comment Box below


The “Experts” Know Best. Right?

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The authors contend that people on Medicaid could be harmed by treating patients with a particular illness the same way, which will occur with the rules adopted by the Health Evidence Review Commission.

By: Debbie McCabe and Lorren Sandt, The Lund Report

Imagine walking into your doctor’s office and seeing someone else standing there, telling you they get to make the final decision about your healthcare. Instead of doctors and patients making important health decisions, they make the final call.

For those in Oregon’s social safety net, that day is coming. The Health Evidence Review Commission, or HERC, is designed specifically to cut healthcare costs by overriding decisions made by doctors and their patients.

Lane Solutions Replies:

This is the essence of The Progressive Movement. It rests on the assumption that average citizens (or even private doctors) just aren’t smart enough to make the decisions that affect their lives. Because they “just don’t get it,” all government has to do is collect a bunch of “experts” who can make the decisions for them. After all, it’s “For their own good.” Most of the time it’s “For the children.”

So these self-appointed gurus decide what kind of bags we need for our groceries and light bulbs for our houses. They tell us how much water should flow into our toilets and out through our shower heads. They tax us for foods and drinks they say are bad for us. And they give us the medical treatments that are best for us. That’s because they care so much about us.

But with each intrusion of the “Experts” into our lives a bit of freedom disappears. With each decision “For our own good” we have less control of our own lives. Even if it is always “For our own good.”

Tell us what you think below in the comment section


Legislators Pick Winners and Mostly Losers – Again

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

SALEM — The $150 million reincarnation of Oregon’s manufacturing BETC (Business Energy Tax Cuts) — in talks for months and still in flux — appeared for the first time in writing Thursday in the waning days of the legislative session.

Details were spelled out in a 78-page tax bill amendment that shored up several expiring credits. The manufacturing Business Energy Tax Credits would die off, replaced by a $25 million annual pool.

Although green energy companies remain the priority, the move diversifies taxpayers’ portfolio beyond solar manufacturers. High-dollar recipients such as SolarWorld and SoloPower have been pummeled by foreign competition and a tough economy.

Lane Solutions Responds:

Here we go again. Solyndra, Abound Solar, A 123 Energy. What do they have in common? They’re companies the Federal Government picked as winners and dumped over $1 Billion of your tax dollars into – and lost. And there are plenty more, ahem, “problems” where these come from.

This is what happens when government picks winners and losers. Like when the Oregon Dept. of Energy loaned $10 Million to SoloPower, with Portland taxpayers on the hook for half. Most or all of the money’s gone. And they’re not the only one in Oregon.

But our legislators continue to believe that they’re smarter venture capitalists than private venture capitalists. They can’t see that if there were buckets of bucks to be made off “clean energy” some company would jump at the chance with their own dollars. But then our guys and gals in Salem have your dollars to play with. And, like the old saying goes, “There ain’t no end to the good you can do with someone else’s money. – The Oregonian, June 27, 2013

 Tell us what you think below in the comment section


Federal Forest Management – Real Solutions for Real Jobs

Monday, July 8, 2013

By Jay Bozieviech

As a vocal supporter of Lane County’s successful public safety levy, I was encouraged to see so many citizens step up to support our local law enforcement and help keep violent offenders in jail.

However, as I testified to the Oregon House of Representatives, the levy doesn’t offer a permanent solution for stable revenues for essential services, nor does it assure a stronger economy in the future.

While voters approved an important but temporary lifeline for public safety programs, it is critical for Congress to provide a comprehensive solution that resolves the annual uncertainty of county timber payments.

I am hopeful that Congress will continue to work on solutions that restore active management to our Federal forestlands, including the unique O&C lands that, in the past, created jobs and a thriving economy for communities and reliable funding for county governments.

The Federal O&C Act of 1937 specifically set aside 2.4 million acres of these Federally-owned forest lands for the economic benefit of 18 Western Oregon counties. Unfortunately, the Federal Government has failed to keep its promise to O&C counties, and litigation and conflicting regulations have only made the situation worse.

When timber was still being harvested on O&C lands Lane County alone received around $17 million annually. In today’s dollars, this equates to about $30 million per year. To put this in perspective, the recently passed public safety levy will generate less than half that revenue without adding significantly to jobs. The levy, while desperately needed, is only a “Band-Aid” fix to a serious and long-term problem.

Rural Lane County citizens cannot afford to fund public safety without some change in a rural economy devastated by the lack of federal forest management. One result of this devastation is that 80% of students in Mapleton and Oakridge school districts are on free or reduced lunch programs. Poverty and unemployment consume government and rural communities’ resources without adding jobs that could pay to fund essential services.

Lane County has a large population base, a diversified economy and other attributes such as a world-class university. Other O&C counties are not so lucky. Many of these rural communities once thrived with  vibrant timber-based economies, but now suffer from higher unemployment and higher poverty levels.

It’s easy to scorn the voters in other counties who recently rejected public safety levies, but criticism of these Oregonians reveals ignorance of the serious challenges of funding services where many people don’t have jobs and can’t afford higher taxes. Though Lane County voters approved the levy, I believe it is wrong to single out and penalize counties that are not as prosperous as we are.

It is a grave mistake to ignore the importance of renewable natural resources that exist in our O&C forests.  Sustainable management of these resources will benefit both our economy and local governments.  It is heartening that members of Oregon’s Federal delegation understand this and that our Governor is also advocating for changes in Federal policy. It’s great to see they are willing to cross party lines to find a permanent solution.

While the bipartisan Walden/Schrader/DeFazio “O&C Trust, Conservation, and Jobs Act” remains on the table, we have also seen Sen. Ron Wyden release a “framework” of possible legislation.

I hope our delegation continues to work together on a bill that helps rural communities across all O&C counties. I believe we have a solution that protects environmentally sensitive lands while allowing more timber harvesting where it is environmentally sustainable. Thanks to an existing Federal law prohibiting the export of raw logs from Federal lands, wood products from O&C lands would be processed and milled by workers here at home, thus creating jobs that pay taxes to fund county services.

By putting people back to work in the woods we can lift more rural communities out of poverty. Creating jobs combined with reliable timber receipts will generate more tax revenues to sustain vital services.

Now that the public safety levy has been approved and Lane County has some short term stability, we need Congress to pass real solutions to help fund these services over the long term.

Jay Bozievich – West Lane County Commissioner


A Big Thanks From Sheriff Turner – And a Promise

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Sheriff’s Office has been working hard to hire staff and prepare the jail for the July 1 opening of more jail beds.

The Lane County Sheriff’s Office (“LCSO”) will bring on new staff and open up more jail beds in two phases, culminating in the reopening of 131 more jail beds by July 8, 2013 – all in the name of making Lane County a safer place to live.  Housing areas of the jail that had been collecting dust are being cleaned and refurbished to hold inmates once again.

To keep all of the costs down we have been using inmate workers to complete much of the work.  They are cleaning and painting the cells as well as re-grouting the showers in the housing areas that are being reopened.  14 previously laid off LCSO Deputy Sheriffs have accepted recall notices and will return to employment with LCSO.  These are positions that were vacant and can be immediately filled and put to use.

We will fill the remaining 32 Deputy positions during a second recruiting campaign. These will be directly paid for with the levy money.  In the near future we will be recruiting and filling the remaining 6.5 positions that make up the rest of the positions which will be paid for with the levy.

The Sheriff’s Office is working hard to get the jail beds reopened as soon as possible so the community can begin to feel some relief from the daily capacity based releases that we have all endured for far too long.  The planning began well before the levy passed in hopes that it indeed would; now this preplanning is paying off by accelerating our opening of the additional beds.

While the reopened beds won’t eliminate the early releases, they will allow the jail to hold more violent offenders rather than releasing them into the community. Anyone interested in employment opportunities within the Lane County Sheriff’s Office should visit

I am excited about the progress so far and I have you, Lane County citizens, to thank for this opportunity.  We are working on the annual audit of all expenditures of levy funds and I hope the information will be available soon so citizens can track how their money is being spent and ensure that it is spent exactly as you intended.  The actual audit is relatively simple, but making the information it generates available on an ongoing basis is what I’m hoping for.  It is also important to mention that the money is “carryover” money, so it cannot ever be used for a different purpose.  If there is money left at the end of the five years we can continue using it for public safety until it is exhausted.

I plan to provide regular progress reports to the public on our use of the levy funds and to keep up a very robust public meeting schedule to continue to keep the Sheriff’s Office and our progress on everyone’s mind!

From all of us who work in your Sheriff’s Office to keep you safe -Thanks again to all of you who helped make this happen.

As always, don’t hesitate to contact me if you have a question or issue.

Thanks again!

Tom Turner – Lane County Sheriff


Special! Rep. Richardson on Salem’s “Blame Game”

Monday, June 24, 2013

I was first elected to the legislature in 2002, yet I am still surprised by the political “blame game” that occurs at the end of most Legislative Sessions. [To see a brief YouTube on this subject, click here.]

Last week, Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber spoke to the House Republicans and requested an additional $275 million in tax increases. He promised that if Republicans joined the Democrats in voting for tax increases the additional revenue would enable the legislature to help publicly funded K-12 schools, community colleges, universities and youth mental health programs. In other words, “it’s for the kids.”

I reminded the Governor that:

  1. The Democrats control the spending priorities and drafted the State Budget;
  2. There is a $1.91 billion (12%) increase in the 2013-15 Budget over the current one; and
  3. If he’s only asking for less than 2% of the $16.5 billion State Budget, then surely he could find such a small amount in the State Budget “for the kids,” without raising taxes on Oregonians.

I also reminded the Governor that, notwithstanding the $1.9 billion of additional revenue, he and his party are once again holding the K-12 school budget hostage, and acting like a tax increase is required to fund it. It’s an obvious set-up. If the Republicans fail to agree to the proposed tax increases, the Democrats will, once again, play the “blame-game,” and accuse Republicans of neglecting children, hating schools and abandoning seniors. This is a transparent and unfortunate case of playing political games instead of focusing on actually helping the kids and other Oregonians.   (Click here to read entire article)

–        Oregon Representative Dennis Richardson

Lane Solutions Replies:

Rep. Richardson couldn’t be more correct. Like Martha and the Vandellas sang, this time for the Democrats there’s “Nowhere to Run to Nowhere to hide.” They’re in charge of the Oregon House, Senate and Governor’s office. They can spend where and when they want to. They can spend every cent “For the kids.” But they chose to spend it to subsidize health insurance for families of four making up to $94,000/year. After all – unlike kids, these moms and dads will vote.

Tell us what you think below in the Comment section


Recruiting for Big Government: Food Stamps Run Amok

Monday, June 10, 2013

Cascade Policy Institute

By Elise Hilton

One in five Oregonians participate in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), the federal government’s “food stamp” program. Despite indications that the national economy is showing signs of revival, SNAP usage is at an all-time high:

Food-stamp use rose 2.7% in the U.S. in February from a year earlier, with 15% of the U.S. population receiving benefits….One of the federal government’s biggest social welfare programs, which expanded when the economy convulsed, isn’t shrinking back alongside the recovery.

Food stamp rolls increased on a year-over-year basis, but were 0.4% lower from the prior month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported. Though annual growth continues, the pace has slowed since the depths of the recession. The number of recipients in the food stamp program…reached 47.6 million, or nearly one in seven Americans.

It seems to be an easy equation: If joblessness is decreasing and the economy is improving, there should be fewer people receiving government assistance, right? Not so. Why? Part of the reason is that the government is actively recruiting people for SNAP, part is America’s ever-increasing dependence on government to solve our problems; and part is crony capitalism. It’s a heady mix of money, entitlement, and big government.

SNAP is symptomatic of America’s current view of the role of government: It is there to take care of our every need. Rather than seeking a way to solve problems of joblessness and hunger, we simply grow the programs once designed to help only in a crisis. Of course, the only way to grow these programs is to increase taxes on those who are working. As Dr. Samuel Gregg points out in his new book Becoming Europe, this creates an atmosphere of conflict, rather than harmony, in society. It means standing behind the food stamp user in line at the grocery store and grumbling about their purchases: In a sense, it is your money they are spending on soda and chips. It also means, according to Gregg, that there is less incentive to be productive on the part of citizens; after all, won’t the government take care of things?

The state of Florida, like many others, actively recruits SNAP recipients. According to The Washington Post, Dillie Nerios, a Florida state employee, has a quota of 150 new SNAP recipients monthly:

[I]t is Nerios’s job to enroll at least 150 seniors for food stamps each month, a quota she usually exceeds. Alleviate hunger, lessen poverty: These are the primary goals of her work. But the job also has a second and more controversial purpose for cash-strapped Florida, where increasing food-stamp enrollment has become a means of economic growth, bringing almost $6 billion each year into the state. The money helps to sustain communities, grocery stores and food producers. It also adds to rising federal entitlement spending and the U.S. debt.

As the name suggests, SNAP is meant to be a “supplemental” program. It has its roots in the Great Depression, when the federal government was faced with a surplus of agricultural goods, and high jobless rates. Food stamps allowed participants to purchase excess items at discount prices. The program vastly expanded in the 1960s, as part of the “Great Society” initiative. No longer were participants limited to purchasing surplus items, and benefits were tied to recipients’ income levels. By 2009, the Obama Administration further eased eligibility requirements, encouraging “states to disregard savings and higher incomes as criteria to disqualify applicants.”

The USDA claims that SNAP lifts people out of poverty, but the sheer numbers of those on SNAP belie that. As with many other issues in America, the attitude of many citizens toward hunger has become, “the government will take care of it.” This approach destroys charity on behalf of others and undercuts the dignity of those receiving handouts. Programs such as SNAP go from being “supplemental” to “lifestyle”: People stay on these programs longer and longer, with no incentive to support themselves, or to respond to the generosity of others by striving to contribute in turn to the common good. While most people would tell you that you can’t get something for nothing, SNAP proves them wrong.

Finally, SNAP is big business, and not in a good way. According to EatDrinkPolitics, the politics of food stamps and the politics of the food industry are deeply entangled in crony capitalism. For instance, Coca-Cola spent over one million dollars in just one quarter of 2011 lobbying the government regarding use of food stamps. Eighty-three percent of SNAP dollars are spent at supermarkets. In Oklahoma alone, Wal-Mart receives over $500 million in SNAP receipts. Because SNAP benefits are now largely utilized via EBT cards, banks benefit financially as well. It’s not just people becoming dependent on food stamps―it’s business. And business has no desire to see the government cut back on programs from which they are making millions.

We cannot suggest that SNAP does no good, or that there is no need for a food safety net in our country. Clearly, though, the astronomical growth of SNAP in the past few years has nothing to do with food safety and everything to do with big government, an entitlement culture, and crony capitalism.

Elise Hilton is a guest contributor for Cascade Policy Institute, Oregon’s free market public policy research organization. She is the marketing coordinator for the Acton Institute in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Reprinted With Permission from Cascade Policy Institute


Gun Control Issues Updated

Monday, May 13, 2013

By Susanne Penegor

Local stores can’t keep gun ammunition in stock due to panic buying as consumers worry about the government’s willingness to propose new gun control legislation for law-abiding citizens.  This bipartisan issue has turned guns and ammunition into hot commodities nationwide.  Local stores limit the amount of ammunition consumers can buy and customers line up early in the morning to buy out ammunition in a matter of hours.  A local Bi-Mart store said they had not had .22 shells available for sale for 3 weeks.

Gun clubs are adding gun safety and personal protection classes as women who have never shot a gun before are being told by their families to learn how to use one.  Recently there was a proposal in Salem to limit Oregonian households to one gun per house.  If that law had passed, the police would go door to door and take away extra guns from law-abiding citizens.  Even hunters and gun collectors could have been impacted by this proposed bad legislation.

The panic buying of guns and ammunition fueled by recent proposed gun control legislation nationwide is spurred by rumors that the Obama Administration is trying to take away our Second Amendment rights, not by taking guns off the market–but by taking ammunition off of the market.

While the US doesn’t require gun registration yet, gun buyers are subject to background checks and fingerprinting.  According to the Geneva-based Small Arms Survey, the US has the best-armed civilian population in the world, with an estimated 270 million guns.  That’s an average of 89 firearms for every 100 residents.  Firearms that do require registration in the US that are subject to the National Firearms Act include machine guns, shotguns and rifles with barrels shorter than 18 inches and silencers.

According to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which handles that registration, there were more than 3.1 million National Firearms Act-registered weapons in the US as of March 2012.  The National Rifle Association estimates that 100 million American own guns legally.

Some American cities have their own gun control laws now which prohibit guns in public parks.  In Utah it is illegal to display a gun in public at all without being subject to a law prohibiting “brandishing” a gun in public.  There is a crazy quilt of local laws for states and cities that have effectively amended the Second Amendment without having to go to Congress to change our Constitution.

The gun control enthusiasts don’t want to address the issue of how gun ownership saves lives or stops crime by using guns for self-defense.  A recent Gallup poll noted that 3 in 10 Americans own a gun and most gun owners say they use their guns to protect themselves against crime, for hunting and for target shooting.  According to a 2012 Gallup poll, Republican and Democratic gun owners are almost equally likely to say they use a gun for protection against crime, 64% to 69%, respectively.  According to Gallup, male gun owners are more likely than female owners to say they use a gun for hunting (53% to 45%, respectively) or for target shooting (68% to 59%), while female owners are slightly more likely than male gun owners to use a gun for protection (74% to 63%, respectively).

History shows that a government that takes away citizens’ guns disarms their populace to gain political control over them.  The first thing that Nazis did in Germany was to take away the guns from their citizens.  Our forefathers understood the need for self-defense of all kinds, including against a tyrannical government.  While various government entities in the US are taking a Big Brother approach to us and would like to strip us of our Second Amendment rights, it is up to us to remain vigilant and to keep our elected officials accountable for their actions–especially involving proposed gun control laws.

Susanne Penegor is an Oregon native, a graduate of the U of O and a former local business owner.


Demand action on PERS reform

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

By Rep. Kevin Cameron  (R-Salem)

There have been nearly 50 bills introduced that address, in some way, the PERS issue.  So far, there has been no substantial legislation that has received a hearing. I am co-sponsoring the below four bills that were introduced by Rep. Bruce Hanna (R-Roseburg).

HB 3056 would limit the computation of “final average salary” to salary, rather than including unused sick time and vacation accruals.

HB 3057 would limit the COLA for PERS benefits to the first $36,000 of retirement income.

HB 3058 phases out the ability of employers to “pick-up” the employee’s 6% contribution into retirement accounts by 2020.

HB 3059 ends the practice of providing a supplemental benefit payment to offset income taxes for those who are not subject to Oregon income taxes.

It is my understanding that estimates of savings after instituting these reforms would be over $700 million per biennium. These alterations to the current process are important steps in the right direction to put PERS on sustainable footing for the future.

This is not a conversation about the worthiness of our public employees.  It is a conversation about the absolute proven unsustainability of this retirement system.  These bills deserve the opportunity to be heard, at the very least, in order to begin meaningful dialogue about how we are going to address this important issue in our state.  The impact that it is having to our school districts and local government budgets is devastating and hurting our kids, our seniors, our social service agencies, and public safety.  We must do better.

Reprinted with permission from Oregon Catalyst