Bend Business Roundup 6-19-20

Bend Business Roundup 6-19-20

Happy Friday,

Here’s some stuff you might like.

New biz registrations in Bend dip during lockdown

Longtime readers will recall that my office compiles data on new businesses registered in Bend. We call it the Bend Entrepreneur Report. I stopped regularly releasing the data because for a long time the numbers kept going up and all that good news gets boring. In 2020, we don’t have good news anymore and that’s true with the Entrepreneur Report. After a strong start to the year, the numbers took a dive in March (269 new registrations vs. 308 in 2019) and April but started coming back a bit in May. Though the numbers have dipped, it’s kind of remarkable that people were still forming as many new businesses as they did while the lockdown was in full force.

The yellow line in the chart below is 2020.

A little law

As the economy reopens in Oregon and elsewhere, some businesses have begun to require customers to sign liability waivers which at least in theory limit the ability of the customer to sue the business if the customer believes he or she contracts Covid due to the negligence of the business. This article is a good overview of the issues associated with requiring customer waivers. Courts in different states have very different views of the enforceability of liability waivers. Generally speaking, Oregon courts tend not to like them very much, and businesses should not rely exclusively on waivers to shield them. Regardless of whether a business requires waivers, it should also adhere religiously to all applicable local, state and federal guidelines and otherwise take reasonable steps to protect customers from contracting the virus. Businesses using waivers should have them drafted by an attorney because attorneys need business too, no, actually because courts look VERY CLOSELY at the language used in waivers when determining whether to enforce them.

Protests, COVID-19 and Autzen Stadium

Do you like people who quote themselves? Me neither, and it’s especially obnoxious when they quote something they wrote on social media. That said, on June 11, I tweeted:

“The protests should prove a good test of Covid spread in mass outdoor gatherings with some but not all people wearing masks. If we don’t see a spike, especially in areas with big protests, the case for prohibiting similar gatherings gets much weaker.”

Now that I’ve established that we don’t like me, fast forward 11 days to yesterday. The state epidemiologist says he’s “not seen any evidence of coronavirus spread” from weeks of mass protests in Portland. Those protests started on May 28 and five days later the trend line for new cases in Multnomah County, which encompasses Portland, started to cllmb. The incubation period for Covid averages 5-6 days. Maybe there’s another explanation for that increase, but it wouldn’t be reopening – Multnomah County is only entering Phase I of reopening today, and was still at least theoretically locked down when the protests occurred. And to be fair, we’ve seen spikes in places without a lot of protest activity, like Lincoln and Union counties.

So, let’s give the state epidemiologist the benefit of the doubt and for our purposes here assume there’s been no spread at the protests. We now then have evidence that the virus is not spread via mass gatherings of people outdoors who are yelling, singing, chanting and bathed in various types of smoke.

Which brings me to Autzen Stadium. The Ducks are scheduled to play the Ohio State Buckeyes in Autzen on September 12. For those who shun college football in favor of interests that allow them to affect the outcome and that do not regularly cause rage and despondence, know that this is a big game. A seemingly resurgent Oregon squad testing its potential re-entry into national powerhouse status against a true blue blood program in one of the finest settings for college football in the country. Nationwide, it would be one of the most anticipated non-conference games of the season and may have implications for one or both schools getting to the playoff. It’s a big deal. It also would not be played in front of fans, or perhaps not played at all, pursuant to current limitations on mass gatherings, which the Governor has said will last through September at least.

In light of the state’s finding regarding no spread at mass outdoor gatherings, what is the rationale for banning this game? Now, I don’t know whether the two schools would want to play it, and in the case of U of O, host it, but it sure seems that the State of Oregon has no business standing in the way if they do.

Please note that I’m not arguing that a football game is as important in the course of human events as protests that began in reaction to the police killing of an unarmed black man. It’s not. However, remember that the state’s position is not that there was some spread at the protests but the importance of the protests renders that spread tolerable; its position is that there is no evidence of spread whatsoever. If that’s true, then the Duck, wearing a specially modified N-95 bill mask, better come riding out of the tunnel on his Harley come September 12.

We shouldn’t water down the term “white supremacist”Bend City Councilor Gena Goodman-Campbell declined to stand and recite the pledge of allegiance at the beginning of Wednesday night’s city council meeting. She explained that she did so in solidarity with protesters and in opposition to state violence against black people in what I think is a thoughtful facebook post. If it were me, I’d stand for the pledge, but Goodman-Campbell is within her rights to choose not to do so. She has clearly put a lot of thought into the race and policing issues our country and community are grappling with, and I’m glad that she chose to express her thoughts on those things in a thorough and clear way, which one doesn’t often see from city councilors.

One thing she wrote, though, jumped out to me:

“I am committed to doing the internal work to examine my own underlying biases and white supremacist beliefs, and ultimately changing the way that I operate as a leader.” (Emphasis added).

It’s not every day you hear someone, especially an elected official, say they have white supremacist beliefs.

Merriam Webster says a white supremacist is “a person who believes that the white race is better than all other races and should have control over all other races.” I’m pretty sure no one has ever thought Goodman-Campbell was a white supremacist. If you read her entire statement, which I urge you to do, it’s clear that she strongly opposes racism. I don’t believe that she actually holds white supremacist beliefs as that term is commonly understood and used in public discourse. I don’t think she believes that the white race is superior to all other races. I don’t think she believes white people should have control over all other races.

White supremacy ideology is despicable and is rightfully thought by most Americans to have no place in our public debate. There is something of a bright line social rule to exclude white supremacists from the public forum. Two summers during college, I worked swing shift at the old Crown Pacific re-manufacturing mill in Redmond. One guy I worked with drove a red Pontiac Fiero and was an unrepentant racist. Even he, when pressed, would not accept the label of white supremacist. This was the mid-90s in Redmond and I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t have suffered any professional repercussions if he’d admitted he was one.

One of the most controversial things Donald Trump has said as president was to praise white supremacist protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia as “very fine people.” Trump was properly blasted for that comment, including by Joe Biden in the announcement of his candidacy for president. Trump’s praise for white supremacists, and his failure to castigate their ideology along with his attempt to equate the merits of the white supremacist protesters with the anti-white supremacist protesters, is Exhibit A for  people who believe Trump is a racist. In most parts of our society, failing to reject forcefully white supremacists is a serious failing; actually holding white supremacist beliefs is verboten, and properly so.

So why on Earth would Goodman-Campbell say she holds white supremacist beliefs if she doesn’t? There’s a theory, I’ve learned, that traits such as perfectionism, a sense of urgency, and individualism “are damaging because they promote white supremacist thinking.” Perhaps Goodman-Campbell was referring to something like that.

The problem is, that’s not how the vast majority of people define white supremacy. I don’t know whether the Charlottesville protesters exhibited a sense of urgency, but they sure thought black people were inferior to them. The Department of Homeland Security has deemed white supremacist groups a terrorist threat, and not because those groups are annoyingly perfectionist. It’s because they are so filled with hate that they sometimes kill people of color.

Any definition of white supremacist beliefs that includes Goodman-Campbell is a definition so watered down as to render the term useless. As it is, that term is very useful in describing those people whom our society largely deems unworthy of legitimate participation in our public discourse. We should not fritter away that hard-won success by redefining the term to include people who don’t actually believe white people are superior to other races and should subjugate them.

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Have a great weekend!

What I do:EagerLaw PC – A business and real property law firm in Bend, Oregon.

Insite LGA Corp. – A campaign consulting, strategic communications and local government monitoring firm.

Waste Alert – Local government monitoring for the solid waste and recycling industry.

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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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