Bend Business Roundup 1-31-20

Bend Business Roundup 1-31-20

Happy Friday,

Here’s some stuff you might like.

Business: This here nifty map tool from Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies shows the ratio of median home price to median income by metropolitan statistical area (“MSA”), from 1980 to 2017.  When you get to 2017, there’s an interesting pattern. On the east coast, the only localities with a ratio of median home price to median income of five or more (e.g., median income $50,000, median home price $250,000) are the New York metro, Boston metro, Miami and Naples, FL metro areas. There are zero metro areas in which the ratio exceeds eight (e.g., median income $50,000, median home price $400,000).

The west is a very different story. Starting with Denver and west from there, there are zero MSAs with a ratio of three or less. Bend-Redmond MSA, Portland and Seattle are in the same ratio range as New York metro and the other expensive east coast mega-cities. San Diego, L.A., San Francisco and Josephine County, Oregon (!) outpace any ratio east of Denver, Josephine County presumably due largely to income issues.

Something about the west causes us to pay a lot more to live here – maybe call it a summer without humidity tax?

Law: There are so many aspects of the impeachment trial that are, procedurally speaking, just weird. First of all, you have 100 senators, who, how shall I say it, did not obtain their positions due to a preference for not talking, being forbidden to talk or to use electronic devices. You also have the chief justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts, presiding over a process that is by design political, despite the legalistic window dressing.

When senators want to ask questions, they have to submit them in writing, and the question is then read by Roberts. Well, Senator Elizabeth Warren, who is confined to the senate chambers when she surely would rather be in Iowa trying to become the first President of the United States with a DNA test to prove she has a Native American ancestor six to ten generations ago, had a question and it was a doozy. Chief Justice Roberts read the question, which asked whether the fact that Republican senators refused to allow witnesses during the trial would “contribute to the loss of legitimacy of the Chief Justice, the Supreme Court, and the Constitution?”

Judges, even those that aren’t the highest-ranking judicial officer in the country, don’t really appreciate someone questioning their legitimacy or that of the court or, I would think, the Constitution. Roberts’s grimace in reaction indicates he will probably be very happy to conclude his role as presiding officer over the impeachment trial.

Politics: One of the (myriad) things we here at BBR were hyperventilating about during the 2019 legislative session was something called the Student Success Act, which levies an economic activity tax on lots of people and businesses who sell goods and services in Oregon. It was apparent to everyone that the tax  (essentially a sales tax hidden from the consumer/voter) would drive prices higher. I don’t think there was even that much of a fight about that issue; rather, the bill’s proponents mostly argued that the cost increases would be worth it because the corresponding increase in school funding would drive better education results.

Fast forward to now, and it turns out the tax is driving up the cost of building schools. The North Marion School District has been hit with a change order increase of $180,000 from the contractor performing school bond projects for the district. The reason? Price increases for goods and services related to the tax hike. The tax to improve education is making it more expensive to provide education, and to do most anything else in Oregon too. And while the North Marion School District would probably accept the higher construction costs in exchange for the presumably significant increase in funding it will receive due to the tax, similar cost increases are impacting people, businesses and governments that don’t receive revenue from the tax. I hope someone independent from the politics of this whole thing can run an analysis to compare the costs imposed by the tax with the educational benefits it generates.

Et cetera:  Quick: after English and Spanish, what is the most commonly spoken language in Oregon? I would have gotten this wrong. 

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Have a great weekend!

Jeff started EagerLaw PC to help Oregon entrepreneurs succeed in business. Jeff worked in Washington, D.C. for Oregon Congressman Greg Walden, served as Mayor of the City of Bend, and has been practicing law in Oregon for over a decade. Jeff believes strongly in entrepreneurship and enjoys making the legal side of business transparent and easy for his clients.

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