Updates

  • Bend Business Roundup 7-10-20

    By on July 10, 2020

    Happy Friday,

    Here’s some stuff you might like.

    The dream of the ’70s is alive in Portland

    If I were to ask you to describe the Portland City Council in relation to an historical figure, “Nixonian” probably wouldn’t leap immediately to mind, but it should. In the early 1970s, Nixon instituted price and wage controls throughout the economy in an effort to combat inflation. There was a certain preschool-level logic to the move: if the problem is that people keep charging each other more for goods and services, and paying each other more for their labor, then simply prohibit them from doing that.

    As with most ideas birthed from preschooler logic, the effect was, um, bad. As applied to gasoline, the price restrictions caused disinvestment in oil and gas production and resulted in massive shortages. Americans sat in line waiting to fill the tanks of their baby-food-colored land yachts. Inflation actually increased. It turns out there was a reason why gas and other prices were what they were, or rather many many reasons, known only to the millions of people whose individual transactions led to the prices. Tricky Dick stepped in and set an artificial price and a lot of suppliers said, nah, it’s not worth it. So, even consumers who were willing to pay the market rate for gas because they really needed to drive to work, simply couldn’t. There wasn’t anything to buy.

    Nearly 50 years later, a Portland City Council presiding over a city that is the epicenter of a statewide increase in coronavirus cases and is nightly the location of costly rioting has decided enough is enough . . . with the fees charged to restaurants by third-party restaurant delivery apps like GrubHub, DoorDash and Uber Eats. Effective immediately (the Council literally deems this an emergency), those fees are capped at 10% of the cost of the restaurant purchase. According to the city, the fees in the heretofore dangerously unfettered market were sometimes as high as 30% of the cost of the meal.

    Part of the justification for the ordinance is that minority-owned restaurants often offer lower-priced menu items, presumably with smaller margins, and thus the percentage-based fees impact them more than they do higher-priced eateries.

    The apps, in written comment to the Council, raised concerns about the impact of a fee cap on their ability to pay delivery drivers. The city’s response was to include in its ordinance a provision that prohibits the apps from reducing compensation to delivery drivers as a result of the fee cap.

    Let’s do something we try to avoid whenever possible here at BBR: math. Let’s say the apps compensate their drivers in the amount of, oh, $5 for a typical delivery in Portland. They typically charge some fee to the customers, perhaps around $2.50. The remaining $2.50, plus the other costs associated with operating the apps, must be covered by the fee charged to the restaurant. That means the total bill needs to be $25.00 to just pay the delivery driver, leaving nothing to operate the rest of the business, let alone allow shareholders to receive a profit on their investment.

    Low-cost restaurants of the type the Council is concerned about are less likely to receive orders in that amount. Given that the costs of the apps are relatively fixed, by ordinance now but also presumably by the market cost of delivery labor, their only choice will be to either require a higher minimum total purchase, increase the fees charged to customers ordering from low-price restaurants, or stop delivering food from low-price restaurants in Portland. Any one or combination of these measures would harm both the low-price restaurants by depriving them of orders and customers of those restaurants who pay more for the same food or can’t have it delivered at all.

    In the end, price-setting is very likely to do to food delivery services what it did to gas in the ’70s: reduce the supply. It will hurt the most those businesses the Council wants to help, and it will make restaurant delivery to customers of low-price restaurants, who are likely overall to be less-well-off than customers ordering from higher-price restaurants, more costly or entirely unavailable. Other than that, it’s a swell idea.

    Bill Gates is no troglodyte

    “Troglodyte” is one of my favorite words in the English language, and not only because it was the name of my high school thrash metal band*. It’s also a very useful word, defined as:

    a. A member of a fabulous or prehistoric race of people that lived in caves, dens or holes.
    b. A person considered to be reclusive, reactionary, out of date or brutish.

    I estimate that I use “troglodyte” maybe a half dozen times a year, and always when imagining what progressive Portlanders call conservatives in eastern Oregon. For example, a father to his young daughter: “Denali, it’s time you know that two-thirds of the land mass of Oregon is governed largely by troglodytes.” Like I said, it’s a useful word.

    So, you can imagine my joy when I heard this week, for the first time, the adjective “troglodytic.” I heard it on a podcast called Skeptoid, which is internationally renowned and also a product of Bend’s own Brian Dunning. Skeptoid is a non-profit media/education company that produces podcasts, videos and other materials debunking conspiracy theories and other misconceptions.

    In the most recent episode, Brian covers the scientific impossibility of Bill Gates injecting tracking devices into Americans via an eventual coronavirus vaccine, which Gates is helping to create. Gates is helping to develop a vaccine, but the rest is just nuts. It’s bizarre that someone has to debunk this kind of stuff, but apparently someone does. Check out the podcast. It’s a good one, and you just might learn some new words too.

    *This is a lie. I wasn’t in a thrash metal band in high school because there are two types of dorks in high school: (1) dorks who don’t know they’re dorks and embarrass themselves playing in a thrash metal band; and (2) dorks who know they’re dorks and eschew public settings to minimize the risk of looking more dorky. I was dork type (2).

    Speaking of podcasts

    I was on The Source’s podcast “Bend Don’t Break” this week to talk about how things are going for Bend businesses, the corporate activity tax, media and politics. If you sometimes wonder, “God, does Eager ever say this stuff out loud because it just sounds ridiculous to me,” the answer is I do and you can hear it for yourself.

    Toddlers are tyrants: Part 1 of a series

    A conversation I had with our four-year-old son, Elijah, this week:

    Elijah: What’s a rhombus?
    Me: Uh, it’s a shape.
    E: What kind of shape?
    Me: Let me look.
    E: Don’t look at your phone!

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    Have a great weekend!

    Jeff Eager
    jeff@eagerlawpc.com

    Read past BBR emails.

     

    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.

    Connect with me on social media:

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  • Bend Business Roundup 7-3-20

    By on July 3, 2020

    Happy Friday and Happy Independence Day Eve:

    Here’s some stuff you might like.

    Football and Father Luke

    Good intentions, when acted upon rashly, often lead to bad outcomes. Those who intend to purge racism from America’s institutions should not drive from view or from acceptable public discourse instances in our history in which racism was beaten back, just because those instances necessarily require the depiction of racists who lost.

    Last week, the University of Oregon and Oregon State University announced that they would no longer call sports competitions between the two schools the “civil war” because, as since-retired OSU President Ed Ray said, the name “represents a connection to a war fought to perpetuate slavery.”

    This got under my skin, not so much because the game is being renamed, but because the rationale presented for the renaming ignores the fact that the Civil War actually hastened, likely considerably, the end of slavery in the U.S. I was so worked up about it that I wrote an op-ed and tried to get The Oregonian and other publications to run it, but struck out. Thankfully, the Internet age allows me to self-publish (a helpful Internet age euphemism for “I wrote something I thought was good but no one else did”) the piece.

    I called it “The Civil War Ended Slavery” and you can read it here. 

    If you’ve spent any time in Bend, you know that McMenamins Old St. Francis is a mainstay restaurant, bar and hotel downtown, right across the street from City Hall. It’s named after the former occupant of the buildings and land: St. Francis Catholic School, which was founded by a priest named Father Luke, who also founded the big St. Francis church downtown and St. Charles hospital, which used to be across the street from the church.

    The church and the hospital came first, but for the local Ku Klux Klan, viciously opposed to Catholics as well as anyone else who was not white and protestant, apparently the school was a bridge too far. According to McMenamins, Klan members committed vandalism on the property, and burned crosses on top of Pilot Butte, which, wow, is quite an image to contemplate.

    In a ploy to end the Klan’s obstruction, Father Luke attended a Klan meeting at the Liberty Theater in downtown Bend (again, the image) and somehow convinced them not only not to kill him on sight but also to tone down their agitation against the school. Within a couple years, the Klan ceased to be a major force in town.

    Fast forward to now, and someone has painted a picture of Father Luke giving the Klan the what-for. The painting, as one might expect, does include white-hooded Klan members listening to Father Luke. The painting hung in the Father Luke Room of the McMenamins iteration of St. Francis until recently.

    Turns out, some people had complained about the painting, because it included depictions of the Klan, and McMenamins decided to take it down, even though the restaurant had displayed a plaque that provided the anti-Klan context for the painting.

    I’m embarrassed to admit I didn’t know the Father Luke/Klan story before I read about the painting being taken down. I’ve been in the Father Luke room many times and never noticed the painting (the restaurant did take it down for certain events). But it is a compelling story, and particularly compelling in our present moment.

    Here’s the thing that ties together, in my mind at least, the Civil War and Father Luke stories: it is counterproductive for those who legitimately want to combat racism to minimize or conceal history or art that depicts people fighting racist institutions and winning. We need more, not fewer, of those stories.

    Masks

    This week, Oregon Governor Kate Brown ordered Oregonians to wear masks when in indoor public spaces, including most businesses. Seems like there’s some confusion about the rules, so here’s the state’s guidance. This part about kids between two and 12 being urged but not required to wear a mask made me laugh: “Because children [of that age] can have challenges wearing a mask, face shield or face covering properly (e.g. excessively touching the face covering, not changing the face covering when visibly soiled, risk of strangulation or suffocation, etc.)” adults should supervise them.

    As the father of two boys in the lower end of that age range, I can tell you that “challenges” is inadequate to describe their instant and utter obsession with a mask once placed on their faces. In my experience, “challenges” is shorthand for: touching that is not so much excessive as incessant, licking the interior, complaining about the wet, licked, interior, pulling, manipulating and talking endlessly about the mask, fighting over masks, and generally exhausting (and I mean exhausting) all avenues of the most exacting verbal and physical inquiry and exploration of the mask available to the human mind.

    Anyway, there’s already been a bit of a problem with the face requirement, not involving five-year-olds but instead involving four uniformed Oregon State Police officers who refused to wear a mask in a Corvallis coffee shop. One of them also allegedly expressed a profane opinion of the Governor, his boss, the likes of which, within the confines of this college town coffee shop, is usually reserved for politicians well to the right of the Governor and usually only during Poetry Slam Night.

    Not surprisingly, once this all became public, Governor Brown was not amused. One of the troopers was placed on administrative leave, and the Governor issued a statement scolding the troopers and, observing, “Let me be crystal clear: no one is above the law.

    Except when they are. It was just about a month ago that Brown offered explicit support to protesters who were gathering in very large numbers in Portland and elsewhere throughout Oregon in direct violation of her orders preventing large outdoor gatherings. The Governor apparently believed those people were above the law.

    I think wearing masks is a good idea, and wear them myself when I’m in public places, and I also agree with the aim of protesters who want to stop police brutality. However, the Governor’s embrace of the unlawful protests sure makes it a lot harder to convince Oregonians that, this time, she’s serious about enforcing the rules. Add to that the state’s continued insistence that there’s no connection between the protests, which began in Portland on May 28, and the increase in cases we’ve seen that began shortly thereafter, and Oregonians may be excused in doubting the Governor is applying her authority in an even-handed way.

    Independence Day

    Let’s get this Independence Day right, shall we? In my lifetime, there’s not been a more important 4th of July, and not only or even primarily because it does seem we are at a critical juncture in combating the Coronavirus. The principles of the founding of America are under attack internally in a way they have not been for a very long time. Those who believe the founding was ill-begotten and America’s values of equality and liberty are fraudulent are feeling emboldened.

    I won’t revisit at length the argument in my not solely self-published Thomas Jefferson piece, but Independence Day is a good time to remember that what we have here is unique. That the very critique of police actions with regard to African Americans as contrary to their rights and equal protection of the law is made in the political and legal context made possible by America’s existence. That defending America’s founding principles is supportive of, not contrary to, our ongoing efforts to make a more perfect union. That, as Lincoln wrote to a faltering Congress on December 1, 1862, in the darkest days of the Civil War, urging the freeing of slaves,

    We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth. Other means may succeed; this could not fail. The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just — a way which, if followed, the world will forever applaud, and God must forever bless.”

    Today, 158 years later, America remains, with its imperfect applications of its own values, its discord, its pandemic and its self-questioning, the last best hope of earth. We must constantly rekindle that hope or it will fade from the world, and darken the plight of all humankind.

    Happy Independence Day.

    Were you forwarded this message? Sign up. No sales, no spam, just the weekly(ish) email smart people delete without reading less often than other emails.

    Have a great weekend!

    Jeff Eager
    jeff@eagerlawpc.com

    Read past BBR emails.

    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.

    Connect with me on social media:

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  • The Civil War Ended Slavery

    By on July 2, 2020

    The Civil War Ended Slavery

    The decision by the University of Oregon and Oregon State University to stop calling sporting events between the two schools the “Civil War” appears based upon an ahistorical understanding of the real Civil War and its role in ending slavery in the United States. It’s not important what the schools call the games; it’s very important that these taxpayer-funded institutions of higher learning not encourage a misunderstanding of history.

    OSU President Ed Ray explained the decision was made because the name “represents a connection to a war fought to perpetuate slavery.” This is the equivalent of calling World War II “a war to perpetuate Nazi death camps.” It’s a critical fact that, in both wars, the sides defending slavery and death camps lost. Ray’s description is a misreading of history and is also a disservice to the Union war dead, especially the roughly 40,000 African Americans who died in the Civil War for the cause of freedom. They, surely, did not die to perpetuate slavery.

    In fact, slavery, that awful stain imprinted on the American founding, would have persisted longer, perhaps much longer, if the Civil War had not happened. In the run up to the wa, many northern voters came to oppose the expansion of slavery westward. Southern states understood that a westward expansion adding only free and no slave states would eventually render the institution vulnerable to erasure via constitutional amendment.

    In 1860, the new Republican party nominated and the nation elected Abraham Lincoln on a platform opposing western expansion of slavery but not advocating for abolition of slavery where it already existed. After Lincoln’s election, Southern states began to secede. Lincoln and other Republicans pleaded with the South to stay in the union, including by moving through Congress a constitutional amendment that would have forbidden the amendment of that document to interfere with slavery. The South rejected the overture and the nation plunged into four years of civil war.

    The war provided to Lincoln the political will and the legal justification for moving forcefully against slavery. In September 1862, Lincoln, relying on his authority as commander in chief of a country at war, issued the Emancipation Proclamation which outlawed slavery in Confederate-held areas. The Proclamation left untouched slavery in Union border states, as those areas were not at war with the United States. For the vast bulk of slaves throughout the Confederacy, freedom would be delayed until Union troops controlled the area in which they lived, and thus could enforce the Emancipation Proclamation. Without the Civil War, there would have been no Emancipation Proclamation.

    Juneteenth, a holiday celebrated this year with renewed vigor, commemorates June 19, 1865, the date Union General Gordon Granger arrived with 2,000 federal troops in Galveston, Texas, and proclaimed all slaves in that state freed. The largest Confederate army had surrendered to Union troops in Virginia on April 9, but Texas was remote enough, and some elements of the Confederate army continued to resist Union action there, that it wasn’t until Juneteenth that the Union had sufficient control of the state to enforce the Emancipation Proclamation. Juneteenth would not exist if not for the Civil War.

    If the South had not seceded, or if the Union had allowed it to go, there would have been no Civil War, and slavery would have endured. Before the war, the U.S. lacked the political will and legal justification to outlaw slavery in the South. The war provided those elements, and, eventually, the presence of Union troops in the South to force, literally at the point of a bayonet, the emancipation of nearly all of the 3.9 million slaves in the Confederate states. Soon after the war, the U.S. did what it promised to never do before the war: outlaw slavery in all the states via constitutional amendment. But for the Civil War, slavery would have endured.

    As Americans continue to examine our painful history of slavery and other forms of legal discrimination and subjugation of African Americans, it is a disservice to describe the war that supplied freedom to nearly four million people as “a war to perpetuate slavery.”

    Jeff Eager
    jeff@eagerlawpc.com

    Read past BBR emails.

    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.

    Connect with me on social media:

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  • Bend Business Roundup 6-26-20

    By on June 26, 2020

    Happy Friday,

    Things have been kind of heavy around here lately, so I thought it was time for the second not-quite-annual Bend Business Roundup limerick edition. If you’re new to BBR and wondering just what this is all about, your guess is as good as mine.

    One in eight jobs got the ax
    Economy stopped in its tracks
    Let’s make it worse
    No profits disburse
    Pay Corporate Activity Tax!

    There once was a place named CHAZ
    No cops allowed except as
    Shooting must stop
    They renamed it CHOP
    Police they continue to razz

    ‘Twas a time vegan meant no critters
    Were employed in making your fritters
    Now “plant-based” it is
    “Vegan’s” not good for biz
    Hippies too are about all that glitters

    Roundabouts cause much confusion
    Midst of a Californian profusion
    Baffled they are
    Won’t move their car
    Being late is a foregone conclusion

    2020’s been quite a year
    Pandemic, protests and fear
    Just halfway through
    There’s lots more to do
    Prez election says, “hold my beer”

    We’ll be back to normal prose programming next week.

    Were you forwarded this message? Sign up. No sales, no spam, just the weekly(ish) email smart people delete without reading less often than other emails.

    Have a great weekend!

    Jeff Eager
    jeff@eagerlawpc.com
    Read past BBR emails.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.

    Connect with me on social media:

    Facebook
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  • Bend Entrepreneur Report: Q1 2020 comparison

    By on June 25, 2020

    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.

    Read more
  • Bend Business Roundup 6-23-20

    By on June 23, 2020

    Happy, uh, Tuesday. I’m writing this midweek edition of Bend Business Roundup, which is not about Bend or business and it doesn’t really round anything up, because there’s something I need to get out of my head.

    Also, before I get into that, I heard from a subscriber last week that he and others he knows who read the BBR on tablets, e.g. iPads, that the type is too small and too dense (the type, not necessarily the content or its author, whose density is well-known and irreparable) to read easily on those devices. If you read BBR on a tablet and have a similar experience, please let me know. And while you’re at it, if you have any other recurring technical problems with BBR, whether or not you read it on a tablet, please do respond to this email and let me know. If I’m going to write this stuff, I’d like it to be easy for you to read.

    In (Partial) Defense of Thomas Jefferson

    The other day, a group of people toppled a statue of Thomas Jefferson from its perch in front of Jefferson High School in Portland. The white man interviewed by Willamette Week in the article linked above explains that he participated in bringing down the statue because he wanted to support people of color, and didn’t think it was appropriate for a statue of a slave-owner to be located near the entrance of a largely African American high school.The concern about the imagery, and the location of the imagery, of Jefferson is understandable. Jefferson did own slaves and may have fathered a child with a female slave, whom he held as property at the time. I think if I were an African American attending Jefferson High School, I’d feel at the very least conflicted about having a guy who used to own and hold in bondage people like me greet me as I came to school every day. So, if people at the high school want to remove the statue permanently, and even change the name of the high school, that’s understandable.

    However, as Americans continue our nearly 250-year-long attempt to reconcile the founding of our country by men who owned slaves, it would be a mistake to erase Jefferson from socially acceptable history. As the lead drafter of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson has almost certainly contributed more to human freedom, including to the abolition of slavery and other forms of explicit or implicit human bondage, than any other political actor in world history.

    The key clause of the Declaration is worth revisiting in light of our current state of affairs:

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.”

    There are at least five epochal assertions here:

    1. People are equal.
    2. People have rights that cannot be taken away from them.
    3. People form governments to protect those rights.
    4. Government derives its authority from the consent of the people.
    5. When government fails to protect the people’s rights, or acts without their consent, the people have the right to alter or abolish the government.

    To modern Americans, those concepts, if not the words themselves, are ingrained in our political psyche. But when they were written, they constituted a shocking break with the entire history of human civilization and governance. Historically, individuals, especially individuals who weren’t aristocrats, had no rights to speak of. They certainly didn’t have rights superior to the wishes of whomever governed them, and they had no role in choosing who governed them. Government existed to enrich those who governed, often at the expense of the governed.

    As a result of the concepts espoused by Jefferson, the entire language of political philosophy changed. Not just America but countless other countries and billions upon billions of people came to be governed in systems more or less designed to foster their well-being, and by people they had some role in selecting. Today, even autocratic regimes feel obliged to pretend to be democratic and rights-observing.

    A lot of American history involves trying to bring the reality of our government into alignment with the ringing ideals of the Declaration. The Civil War, the civil rights acts and even Black Lives Matter protests are attempts to put into better practice Jefferson’s words. Those who seek equality, freedom and democracy, which I daresay includes a significant majority of Americans, would be worse-off without the Declaration and without Jefferson.

    The principles in the Declaration have always been and are still today not without their opponents. Individual rights, equality and self-governance are inconvenient concepts for those who wish to exercise authority over us, who believe that the prerogatives of the state are superior to our rights. The vast majority of humans throughout history have lived under regimes with little regard to the rights let alone the equality of the governed. There is no reason to think we can’t or won’t end up back there if we don’t honor and defend the historical anomaly that is the American experiment.

    Jefferson, like the country he helped found, is an imperfect exemplar of the things he wrote. It is a crucial part of our history that he and other founders owned slaves, and that he, like all other mortal humans, was far from a faultless, heroic figure. But as we continue to alter our government to align with our principles, as the Declaration says we have the right to do, it would be harmful to the cause of freedom, equality and the human flourishing to turn our backs on Jefferson’s principles as stated in the Declaration of Independence. History tells us the alternative is far worse.

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    Read past BBR emails.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.

    Connect with me on social media:

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