There is no better way to get an insight to understand our fiscal dysfunction and challenges in Oregon than to examine the underlying “hidden in plain sight” dysfunctional federal funding mechanisms that, like collapsed supermassive stars, creates a gravitational field that distorts the entire galaxy of states bound to it. This is related to what former Metro president David Bragdon talked about last fall in a widely praised piece telling Oregon citizens that they needed to fix the state’s broken transportation agencies before even considering whether there was any more money needed.
The treasure trove of archived podcasts at StrongTowns.org yields another gem of insight into this deeply perverse system that has only the Pentagon as a rival for massive waste. This is by Chuck Marohn from 7 February 2013, and he called it “The Circle of Highway Funding.” As usual, lightly edited to remove small verbal misfires; any words added in editing are in [brackets].
Interviewer: Does there ever come a moment where you say we may just need to abandon some roads or some bridges, just like Governor Cuomo is now thinking about doing with housing along the coast?
Chuck Marohn of "Strong Towns" is a favorite here at OregonPEN, and the paper is in discussion with the Strong Towns staff to make sure that Chuck spends a good bit of time in Oregon on his next West Coast visit, because the Strong Town's message is so important and so much on target with the mission of OregonPEN to engage people in making Oregon better.
Marohn is nothing if not prolific, so there are hundreds of his essays and podcasts on the StrongTowns.org site. Of those, the single most important one is about a very simple but profound message that we've all learned but forgotten: Speed Kills. Below is the transcription of a 12 June 2015 monologue podcast by Marohn called "Gross Negligence." This talk should be in the curriculum of every single engineering program and school of public administration in the United States.
Marohn's message is one that Oregon officials and activists most need to read and reflect on at great length, and with an open mind, and an open heart. Because we know that systems produce what they are designed to, because "the purpose of a system is what it does."
The text is lightly edited, mainly just to remove the kind of verbal tics that creep in when a brilliant mind is speaking with passion about a subject of deep study and personal meaning. Deletions are not marked, but words added by OregonPEN appear in [brackets] to indicate the source.
Many of you know I was in the United States Army. I was in the Army National Guard, actually; there is a distinction there. We train the same. We went to basic training and everything the same but I’m not going to pretend I was regular Army like those guys. Those guys are far more impressive soldiers than I ever was. I want to bring up though basic training because there was an experience I had in basic training that I think relates a little bit to the story I want to talk about today.
Opposite ruling would have been EPIC FAIL, letting businesses SLAPP citizens into bankruptcy
Court reverses a terrible decision by the lower court that let a business's SLAPP suit (Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) proceed against a wedding guest who posted a negative review.
Case affirms that Oregon's strong anti-SLAPP statute protects people posting negative Internet reviews from bankrupting attacks by the businesses subject to the negative reviews.
“We conclude that the online review at issue in this case is entitled to First Amendment protection. We therefore reverse the decision of the Court of Appeals to the contrary.”
In a well-written and well-reasoned opinion written by Justice Baldwin, the Oregon Supreme Court gave Oregonians a great victory early this month when the seven justices who heard the appeal unanimously agreed to throw out a terrible decision the Oregon Court of Appeals issued after the business appealed the trial court's ruling in favor of the citizen. Had the Court of Appeals decision been allowed to stand, corporations in Oregon would have been unleashed and given the ability to use defamation suits to grind into bankruptcy anyone who posted a negative review of the business on the Internet.
The Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Neumann v Liles, found in Volume 358 of the Oregon Reports, starting on page 706, was issued on 3 March 2016 [358 Or 706 (2016)].
The case was so important that a lengthy group of mainstream press organizations submitted a joint “Friends of Court” (amici curiae in Latin) brief to the Supreme Court. Such briefs are often influential in helping an appeals court see and understand the real-world consequences of a decision, which the parties to the dispute often are not concerned with. The groups joining the amicus brief were Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, Willamette Week, Gannett Co., Inc., KPTV, Oregon Association of Broadcasters, Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association, Oregon Public Broadcasting, The Oregonian Media Group, and The Bulletin of Bend.
Excerpts from the opinion explains the case and the result. First the court identifies the players and the basis for the appeal:
Plaintiff Carol Neumann (Neumann) is an owner of plaintiff Dancing Deer Mountain, LLC (Dancing Deer Mountain), a business that arranges and performs wedding events at a property owned by Neumann. Defendant, Christopher Liles (Liles), was a wedding guest who attended a wedding and reception held on Neumann’s property in June 2010. Two days after those events, Liles posted a negative review about Neumann and her business on Google Reviews, a publicly accessible website where individuals may post comments about services or products they have received.
Although the trial court rightly dismissed the SLAPP suit, the Court of Appeals reversed, putting Liles in peril of being bankrupted by the legal fees necessary to defend himself against Dancing Deer's suit. Luckily, the Supreme Court agreed to hear Liles's appeal and knew how to read the First Amendment:
"We allowed Liles’s petition for review to determine how an actionable statement of fact is distinguished from a constitutionally protected expression of opinion in a defamation claim and whether the context in which a statement is made affects that analysis."
Initially, we conclude that, if false, several of Liles’s statements are capable of a defamatory meaning. Throughout his review, Liles ascribed to Neumann conduct that is incompatible with the proper conduct of a wedding venue operator and, as the Court of Appeals noted, “inconsistent with a positive wedding experience.”
The insurance corporations and the culture of business fraud is destroying the United States economy and allopathic medicine.
Doctor Joshua Freeman of the University of Kansas Department of Family Medicine spoke in several places in Oregon this week, giving a presentation on "Better Health at Lower Cost: What Can a Community Do? Social Determinants of Our Health."
It was a provocative and informative talk. The text of Freeman's presentation slides and the graphics are below, by kind permission of Dr. Freeman.
• What is social justice?
• Do we have a system of social justice as Rawls or Roosevelt describe in the US?
• “The physicians are the natural advocates of the poor, and social problems fall to a large extent within their jurisdiction.”
“The availability of health care services is inversely proportional to the need for them.”
How are the Social Determinants of Health Manifested in the Health of Communities?
SOCIAL DETERMINANTS OF EQUITY (Camara Jones):
White mortality rates rising
Note: The [life expectancy] gap is large and increasing.
The Woolf Thought Experiment:
WHAT CAN BE DONE?
by Jeff Sovern
As an example of just how badly we need an aggressive Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, as Prof. Sovern suggests above, see the press release below, which was posted on the Federal Trade Commission's blog this week, a classic of the genre. That's because FTC is a typical neutered federal agency, which loudly trumpets all the hard work it does, never mentioning that it only charges onto the field to protect consumers . . . months and years after the bandits have left the scene, long after the wounded have expired from their wounds.
Like the narcotics agencies who always hand journalists stories about drug busts with eye- popping numbers about "tons of drugs seized" while staying mum on what percentage of drugs that bust represents, the FTC m.o. is to publicize the size of the judgments awarded (what the judge SAYS the crooks should pay), and while never posting a followup about how much money is actually recovered from the crooks and paid back as restitution to victimized consumers.
Anyone who wants to hamstring the CFPB -- and there is one whole political party that very much wants to, along with corrupt members of the other who agree -- has only to look at the sleepy watchdog that is the FTC for an example of how to do it.
Weeding out deceptive and unfair data practices
OSU Climatologist: "Extreme events show signal of climate change"
By now, just about everyone has weighed in on the vacancy caused by Justice Scalia’s recent passing and the political debate over filling the vacancy. President Obama has stated his plans to nominate someone to fill the vacancy. Senators have come out in support and against filling the vacancy before the end of Obama’s presidency. The presidential candidates on the campaign trail have weighed in. Editorial boards around the country have weighed in. The American public has weighed in. Everyone has weighed in.
By Alliance for Justice's "Justice Watch" - "The Justices Own Words on Why We Need a Full Supreme Court."
SB 1573 Kills local voter say on annexations