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  • Bend Business Roundup 8-21-20

    By on August 21, 2020

    Happy Friday,

    Here’s some stuff you might like.

    2020: The year of government failure

    The United States of America is a rejection of government overreach, or at least it was. When England started up the colonies along the eastern seaboard of what is now the U.S., England was probably the freest country/kingdom in the world. The English aristocracy enjoyed protections against the monarch guaranteed by the Magna Carta and common law, and that tradition as well as the remoteness and sparse population of the colonies resulted in a largely laissez faire approach to governance. The colonists took advantage and set up colonial governments and did their thing chiseling a civilization out of the fringes of North America.

    As the colonies grew in population and wealth, and as England incurred great expense fighting the French and Indian War in the American frontier, England started to get interested in having some more control, and instituted new taxes, requirements that colonists house English soldiers and other restrictions. The colonists tired of these government impositions and decided to form their own country so that wouldn’t happen again. A country in which the God-given rights of the individual protected him (and eventually her) from the excesses of government.

    The Constitution incorporated a suspicion of the excesses of government into the structure of America’s federal system. Starting with the premise that human beings are fallible and self-interested, the founders established a system to blunt the ability of any one person or any group of people to impose their will upon others via the mechanisms of government. States were given wide latitude to govern themselves (initially, even the Bill of Rights did not restrict state action), and what power the federal government had was subjected to a host of structural impediments: three branches of government that were empowered to check the excesses of each other; and two houses of Congress, with different election and appointment procedures meant to impede the translation of the impulses of fallen human beings into laws to govern other human beings. The American system was designed from the bottom up to keep government, in particular the federal government, from doing much.

    To say the least, Americans’ expectations of government have changed since the founding. Beginning in the early 20th Century with the first Progressive era (we may be living through the beginning of the second now), we’ve grown to bloated maturity a leviathan around the skeleton of a minnow. We ask all levels of government to do all manner of things these days, from the quotidien (provide material sustenance via various forms of transfer payments to millions upon millions of people) to the epochal (protect us from the effects of a global pandemic).

    The year 2020 shows that we would be well-served to incorporate the founders’ skepticism of government power. How many billions upon billions of dollars have been spent on the CDC since its inception, only to find the agency flatfooted and confused when the very type of pandemic it was intended to combat arrived? How can Minneapolis allow a police officer to weather complaint after complaint until he kills a man by kneeling on his neck? How can big city governments around the country fail, sometimes willfully, to protect people and property from harm by rioters? How can Oregon raise taxes on unprofitable businesses to help fund a school system that is closed?

    Because, as the founders understood but we have forgotten, human beings are self-interested and even when well-intentioned, often don’t really know what they’re doing. The modern focus is on the myth that if we select the right person to lead us, everything will be alright. This impulse has been fed by America’s nearly incalculable good fortune of having two of the finest political leaders in human history – George Washington and Abraham Lincoln – lead the country through its two most perilous episodes. But America has not always been so lucky, and it has had its share of leaders introduce or magnify peril (see, e.g., James Buchanan and Woodrow Wilson). The thing that has allowed us to make it through those episodes is a strong system that prevents any one person or party from running roughshod over everyone else.

    But as Americans have increasingly sought to quench their thirst for support, satisfaction, stability and meaning from government, at the expense of religion, family and community, the system intended to restrain government and its leaders from acting have gradually eroded. The founders’ system to protect Americans from the unalterable human conditions of greed and incompetence, armed with the literal and figurative bayonet of government-sanctioned force, teeters today on the brink.  The manifold government failures of 2020 should demonstrate to us the folly of discarding the singular American precept.

    RIP BBR

    Beginning next Friday, instead of receiving an email from me called the Bend Business Roundup, you’ll receive an email from me called the Oregon Roundup. The content will be mostly the same – politics, law and other stuff I find interesting.

    I’m making the change because most of the stuff I write about these days isn’t Bend-specific, and I don’t really write about business all that much anymore. I’m sure there will still be some Bend stuff in there, just under a name that more accurately reflects the overall content of the newsletter.

    The email will still come from me, but it will be from a new email address, jeff@oregonroundup.com. It’s possible that your spam filter will object to the email coming from a new address, so if you find yourself wondering next Friday where your Roundup is, and you haven’t yet blocked me, check your spam filter. Or, you can block me.

    I sent out the first BBR back on May 19, 2017. It was (a lot) shorter than the current iteration. I’ve enjoyed writing the BBR weekly(ish) for the past three-plus years and look forward to a calm, orderly and peaceful transfer of power to the Oregon Roundup.

    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:

    FacebookTwitterLinkedIn

    Read more
  • Bend Business Roundup 8-14-20

    By on August 14, 2020

    Happy Friday,

    Here’s some stuff you might like.

    ICE ICE Baby

    Leave it to Bend to wait until I’m out of town to make the biggest national news it’s made since that dude got pregnant. On Wednesday, agents from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (aka, ICE) detained two men, apparently immigrants, in Bend. Word got around and when internet access, parenting and RV utility management allowed, I noticed a lot of people posting on social media about a big immigration raid and roundup going on in Bend. Elected officials and others posted things like “this can’t happen in my town.” Someone stood in front of the white buses being used by the feds and a crowd gathered around the buses, keeping them from leaving.

    Well, it turns out that ICE detained a grand total of two (2) men in Bend on Wednesday, and ICE says it had warrants for both arrests, and the men had a history of violent crime, including assault. I haven’t seen the warrants and I don’t, at this writing, know the identities of the men. But for our purposes, let’s assume that at the very least these men were in the country illegally, even if there were no other crimes at issue. If that were the case, then ICE would be doing the job it exists to perform – to enforce federal immigration laws – by detaining these men.

    I have to be honest with you that I dislike immigration politics. It’s not an issue I care particularly deeply about, on either side, and it seems to bring out the worst in people. But I do think that Congress is empowered and also has the responsibility to set the criteria upon which someone can lawfully be in the U.S. And if Congress passes a bill and it’s signed by the President, then that’s a law and the laws should be enforced, whether I think they’re good or bad laws. The branch of the federal government that enforces laws is the executive branch, and ICE is a part of the executive branch that enforces immigration laws.

    And Congress has indeed seen fit to regulate immigration, more or less for the entirety of American history. And executive branches under all presidents have enforced those laws. Barack Obama’s administration deported more than 2.5 million immigrants, the most ever, and more than the cumulative total of all deportations in the 20th century.

    There appears to be little interest in Congress to allow anyone who wants in to come in. Even the Democrat-controlled U.S. House has not passed any meaningful reform legislation that would materially open the doors to more immigration. There appears to be a tacit consensus in D.C. to leave things more or less the way they are, at least for now.

    What the Bend protesters ought to be doing, if they believe that immigration laws should not be enforced in Bend, is to petition their members of Congress to grant amnesty to anyone who is here now, and to eliminate barriers to lawful immigration going forward. This would eliminate the need for ICE and their sensibilities would not be offended by the sight of federal agents enforcing federal law.

    The alternative, to rebel against the enforcement of those laws, invites the executive branch (at present headed by Donald Trump, likely not a protester favorite) to pick and choose the laws it enforces. This massively increases the power of the executive branch vis a vis Congress, the branch that is most directly tied to the will of the people. Imagine if President Trump caved to the will of right-wing protesters and ceased enforcing the Affordable Care Act in, say, Twin Falls, Idaho. As much as I think the ACA stinks as health policy, this would be a really bad outcome for our country.

    That those who oppose the detention of individuals allegedly in the country illegally have not prevailed in changing the law is a reasonable indication that a lot of Americans, perhaps most Americans, disagree with them. Until they prevail in changing the law, we will and should continue to see the law enforced, even occasionally in Bend.

    Oregon’s a big state

    As you read this, the Eager family is driving an RV from Wallowa Lake, Oregon back home to Bend. This past Sunday, we drove that RV from Lincoln City to Wallowa Lake, a distance of some 420 miles, all driven within the state of Oregon. If you drove approximately that same distance from Washington, D.C., you could arrive at your choice of Boston, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina or Columbus, Ohio. You’d travel between well-defined regions (mid-Atlantic to New England, the South or the Midwest). In Oregon, you just go from the coast to eastern Oregon via Portland and the Columbia River Gorge, sub-regions out here that would be entire cultural regions (encompassing innumerable states) back East. Eastern Oregon itself is so huge and diverse that it really makes no sense as a cohesive geographic area, except as the eastern two-thirds of the area contained within the arbitrary political boundaries of a state called Oregon.

    At the founding, sub-regional political communities along the eastern seaboard were divided into states, each with a large degree of autonomy from, and representation within, the new federal government. By the time Oregon became a state, some 75 years later, America was more interested in bringing states with huge land areas but small populations into the fold. As a result, we have places as different as D.C., Boston, Myrtle Beach and Columbus all thrown into the same state. The awkwardness of that arrangement is on full display now, as the State of Oregon seeks to supplant its own judgment for that of highly disparate communities with regard to the response to COVID-19.

    The disease has impacted different parts of Oregon very differently, and local governments across the state have responded differently, to the degree they are allowed. Before the Governor announced that schools can’t open until certain thresholds have been met, Bend-La Pine School District (with its own elected board of directors) had determined it was safe to open for in-person instruction for grade schools kids, and hybrid instruction for older kids. Not anymore, and Bend-La Pine is hardly alone. The decisions of local governments around this big ol’ state have been routinely supplanted by Governor Brown’s own opinions since this pandemic began. Oregon law requires each county to have public health and infectious disease experts, yet these experts have been overridden or just plain ignored time and time again by state decisions. Why have local elected officials and require local public health experts if their wishes are to be supplanted by distant decision-makers when stuff really counts? Why tie reopening of schools in Deschutes County to statewide, rather than just local, infection rates?

    States aren’t bound to the same federal structure the United States is – local governments are organs of the state government, whereas the federal government is an amalgamation of states that in some cases predated the Constitution. However, on Covid and other issues, the State of Oregon would be much better off if it left more decisions to local decision-makers, who are more immediately politically accountable to voters and who are more in-tune to the situation in their communities. One of the reasons Americans feel increasingly disenchanted with government is that in many cases, the government making decisions is increasingly remote and detached from their communities. One of the reasons we see serial recall attempts against the Governor is that people in far-flung places in our state feel that their wishes are ignored, and their plight at best poorly understood and at worst regarded as an unfortunate, retrograde appendage to the bold sociopolitical experiment that is Portland.

    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:

    FacebookTwitterLinkedIn

    Read more
  • Bend Business Roundup 8-7-20

    By on August 7, 2020

    Happy Friday,

    Here’s some stuff you might like.

    RV Living

    Your humble correspondent writes to you today from a motor home parked at Heceta Beach RV park in Florence, Oregon. We’re here on the first leg of a trans-Oregon epic that will take us from here to Lincoln City, then Wallowa Lake before returning to Bend.

    There’s a travel trailer in the spot next to ours with “Just Married” written with blue painter’s tape on the back. The people who run the park and associated mini-mart are exceedingly nice. One of them, after the mart was closed and seeing me struggle to contain a combined nine years of unadulterated S’more-fueled boy, offered to give us a Nerf football: “You want to run ’em?” We already had a football with us so I declined the free one but did indeed run ’em.

    This is our first RV experience with the boys and our first time staying in an RV park, ever. Being in an RV involves a lot of utility management: electricity, water and sewer. I now know the difference between black water and gray water, and how to dispose of them from an RV. “Water” is a criminally misleading euphemism.

    There are people from all over the country here in this little RV park. Judging by the license plates, there are lots of Californians, Washingtonians and Idahoans, but also Missourians and Minnesotans and Floridians. I know what summer is like in the Midwest and the South. The Oregon coast, with daily highs in the mid-60s, sun and low humidity, must feel like heaven in comparison.

    Last night, we unhooked and drove down into Old Town Florence, on the way passing the newly-christened Exploding Whale Memorial Park, which memorializes, well, the time and place when and where Oregon state officials decided to blow up a dead, beached whale to gruesome if not entirely unforeseeable effect. There’s something very Oregon about blowing up a whale corpse to keep it from bursting and then naming a park to memorialize the whole mess.

    Looking for a fight

    Do you remember last month, when the presence of federal law enforcement agents in the federal courthouse in downtown Portland was causing riots and violence? On July 29, the feds handed over command of courthouse protection to the Oregon State Police, so Portland’s gone back to being that endearingly weird place instead of that angry and contentious place, right?

    Nah. Now the protesters have simply focused their attention elsewhere. For two nights in a row, Portland police declared a riot and had to use crowd control munitions to stop the rioters from damaging property. The other night, there was gunfire near a north Portland protest. Wednesday night the rioters tried to set fire to a police station in East Portland. The Wall of Moms, or as this story puts it, “protesters who identify as mothers,” putatively organized to protect other protesters from the brutality of the occupying army of federal agents, are now protecting rioters damaging city police buildings in residential neighborhoods.

    Mayor Ted Wheeler, recently having demanded that federal agents leave Portland after rioters attempted to set fire to the federal courthouse with said agents inside, now calls, correctly, attempts to burn down buildings that have people in them attempted murder.

    Protesters are pretty clearly seeking out conflict, because conflict is what gets them headlines and presumably, status in the social structure surrounding the protests. The goal is to coax police, federal state or local, into exercising some degree of force, which the protesters think proves their point that police are, by their nature, violent and dangerous. In reality, the more aggressive protests, more than 70 days in, look increasingly like play-acting but with real bullets and fire and tear gas.

    A debate for the age(s/d)

    In this divisive time, all Americans can and should unite behind one cause: there should be lots and lots of debates between Donald Trump and Joe Biden between now and election day. We’ve been deprived of so much live television entertainment during the pandemic, we deserve the spectacle.

    Trump’s well-known for saying weird stuff like suggesting we should somehow ingest disinfectant to stave off COVID-19. Biden, not to be outdone, has recently mused about the lack of diversity in African American thought and opinion and compared a suggestion that he should take a cognitive test to his black interviewer being tested for cocaine before he goes on the air.

    Given the participants’ history, we should get some good stuff in response to normal, boring debate questions, but I think we can do better. Imagine if the, “debate moderator just asked them metaphysical questions like, “Do humans have agency?” Or practical things like, “Describe how a pencil sharpener works.” Or societal things like, “What does it mean to be an American.” Or, “What is your favorite color and why?” This approach would give us some real insight into their thinking and would surely generate some truly bizarre responses, thereby simultaneously increasing both the entertainment value and the depressive effect of the debates for the body politic.

    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:

    FacebookTwitterLinkedIn

    Read more
  • Bend Business Roundup 7-31-20

    By on July 31, 2020

    Happy Friday,

    Here’s some stuff you might like.

    Are government schools essential?

    The vast majority of Americans in January 2020 surely would have agreed with the claim that government schools are essential. Government schools are supposed to be the great equalizer in society. They’re supposed to give kids from bad families or poor neighborhoods at least a shot at climbing the socioeconomic ladder. We are told that schools are the backbone of our community, that you can tell the health of a place by the health of its schools. In 2019, Oregonians were told that government schools were so essential and so woefully underfunded that the state needed to raise business taxes, even on businesses that aren’t profitable.

    Just three months ago, Governor Kate Brown, in refusing to delay implementation of the new taxes in spite of the worst economic meltdown in Oregon history, said,

    “It’s more important than ever that Oregon preserve schools and other essential services, especially for vulnerable Oregonians who have had their lives and livelihoods threatened during this pandemic.” (Emphasis added).

    This week we learned that government schools aren’t so essential after all, when Governor Brown announced metrics for reopening schools that make it very unlikely most schools in Oregon will be able to reopen to in-person attendance in September. Her edict (I don’t know what else to call this – it isn’t an order or administrative rule or statute but putatively carries the power of law) apparently applies also to private schools, even though it does not say so explicitly.

    Vulnerable Oregonians are learning that their state views in-person attendance at a government school is less essential than the following in-person activities, all of which are either explicitly lawful or tolerated and even endorsed by state officials:

    Getting a haircut in a salon or barbershop

    Getting an ill-advised tattoo or piercing (they’re all ill-advised) wherever one gets those

    Going to the dentist or massage therapist

    Buying groceries, hardware, or just about anything from a retail store

    Going to a strip club

    Protesting, shoulder-to-shoulder, night after night as part of a “Wall of Moms” in front of the federal courthouse in Portland, until other protest groups determine that the Moms, founded by white women, suffer from “anti-blackness” and are off the cool kid list

    Joining any of the other mass protests that have been occurring daily in Portland for over 60 days

    The fact is, almost all businesses are allowed to serve customers in-person in most of Oregon, subject to myriad guidances regarding distancing, masking and other safety measures. If Oregon gave schools the same status as businesses from Fred Meyer to restaurants to my law firm, they’d be open to in-person customers but look and operate differently than they used to.

    The available science indicates that kids, especially young kids, don’t easily get Covid and when they do it tends to be very mild. Moreover, they very infrequently transfer the disease to adults with whom they’re in close contact. The CDC and none other than Bill Gates are urging schools to reopen to in-person attendance.

    So why are schools closed while Fred Meyer is open? Because public sector unions, including and perhaps especially teachers unions, run our state. Teachers unions and their allies told the Governor the day before she issued her metrics that they don’t want to open schools to in-person attendance until there are no new cases in a given county for 14 straight days. Think about that. No new cases. Even once we (hopefully) have a vaccine, there will probably be some new cases, just as there are new flu cases every year in spite of the widespread availability of a flu vaccine.

    The Oregon Education Association, a teacher’s union, had given the Governor’s re-election campaign $190,000 by a month prior to election day 2018, and almost certainly more after that. When the Governor meets with unionized teachers, she is not so much meeting with constituents as meeting with representatives of one of her largest investors – people without whom she may not have been re-elected. Those “vulnerable Oregonians” the Governor expressed concern for in April didn’t stand a chance.

    COVID-19 has exposed a lot about how things work, and mostly how things don’t work, in America and in Oregon. Oregonians may now see that government schools are essential only as a means of funneling financial benefits to the Governor’s political supporters, with education being a positive and desirable but ultimately non-essential byproduct of that process.

    Oregon’s chronically under-performing schools have long been evidence of that fact, but inertia and obfuscation by those who profit from the system have blunted reform efforts. As Oregonians prepare to once again act as in-home tutors for a substandard online learning experience, while paying every cent in taxes they would pay for in-person instruction (and the ability to go to work), they may, and should, reconsider whether they and their kids are receiving good value from our current system.

    Should we delay the November election?

    Nope.

    In the 2nd quarter of 2020, did the U.S. economy shrink more than in any quarter in history?

    Yep.

    Finally, justice for Short dudes

    As a person of relative Shortness (I’m 5’8″), I am well-acquainted with America’s systemic discrimination against Short dudes. If you’re tall and you don’t know what I’m talking about, of course you don’t, because you live in a society in which tallness is the unquestioned norm. In my upcoming book “Tall Fragility,” I will explore the need for tall people to acknowledge and examine their own inherent biases against Short people. You’ll want to check it out. It’s gonna be really good.

    Anyway, according to one study, the coronavirus being a virus and not a person enmeshed in a society with tall privilege at its foundation, might infect tall dudes at twice the rate of Short dudes. One theory is that coronavirus floats in the air and because tall people breathe air in the stratosphere or something they’re exposed to more of the virus. Like I wrote above, the virus is telling us a lot about ourselves, and it might just be telling us that it’s ok to be Short.

    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:

    FacebookTwitterLinkedIn

    Read more
  • Bend Business Roundup 7-24-20

    By on July 24, 2020

    Happy Friday,

    With so much going on, I decided to focus on law enforcement, crime and related issues in this edition of BBR. I’ll get back to Covid, the economy and other joys of our time next week.

    Here’s some stuff you might like.

    The courthouse

    I don’t remember if I knew who then-U.S. Senator Mark Hatfield was before I started college at Willamette University in the Fall of 1993. I was, relatively speaking, politically aware at the age of 18, but that’s not a particularly high bar.

    To the degree I was unaware of Hatfield before going to Willamette, that omission was promptly corrected. Hatfield, an alumnus and former professor and dean of the school was unavoidable on the small, immaculate campus located across the street from the Oregon State Capitol. There was the Mark O Hatfield Library (where regrettably I told my friends I needed to study for a Western Civ midterm rather than attend one of Nirvana’s last concerts, at the Salem Armory). There was the Antoinette and Mark O. Hatfield Fountain, which depicted two eagles (everyone called it the “chicken fountain”). There was a special area of the library that contained Hatfield’s papers and other professional, political and academic detritus. It was like a mini presidential library.

    Hatfield’s career is almost certainly the most impressive of any Oregon politician. The son of a school teacher and a blacksmith, growing up in Dallas and Salem (both Oregon), Hatfield attended Willamette as an undergrad. After graduation, with the U.S. embroiled in World War II, he enlisted in the Navy and was at the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. After the war, he got a graduate degree in poli sci from Stanford and came back to Willamette to teach. He eventually ran for and won a state house seat while still living in his parents’ home in Salem. In the House, he introduced and passed legislation banning racial discrimination in public accommodations in Oregon, years before the federal government followed suit.

    Hatfield went on to become the youngest Secretary of State and Governor in Oregon’s history. He won a U.S. Senate seat and served in the Senate for three decades, serving twice as chairman of the Appropriations Committee, which more or less decides how the federal government spends its money.

    All that spending led to a lot of stuff being named for Hatfield throughout Oregon, including the federal courthouse in downtown Portland. Now, if you’ve spent time in courthouses, shame on you and I hope you’ve paid your debt to society, but also you were likely in a state courthouse, like the Deschutes County Circuit Court building in downtown Bend. Many state courthouses aren’t much to look at from the outside, and all of them, in my experience, resemble some kind of overwhelmed social service agency office, with witnesses, litigants, public defenders and harried staff milling about. The decor, depending on the vintage of the courthouse, is, in Oregon, either frontier courthouse with a veneer of bureaucratic accoutrements, and most of the newer ones are just plain bureaucratic chic to the studs.

    A federal courthouse, like the Hatfield courthouse, is not like that at all. It resembles a high rise from the outside, and has high ceilings, paintings of judges and Oregon stuff, and walking around in it feels like walking around in St. Peter’s Basilica, except with a lot fewer people and better air conditioning. It is designed to impart to its occupants a reverence for the law, for any country that would spend that much money on a courthouse must highly value what happens therein. Federal courthouses like the Hatfield courthouse are as much architectural homages to the rule of law as they are office buildings with courtrooms inside.

    Naturally, because this is 2020, the Mark O. Hatfield Federal Courthouse has become the international epicenter of lawlessness and performative political theater. Vandals disguised as protesters have marred the building with graffiti and burned it and shot fireworks at it, state and federal crimes all. In response, the City of Portland, habituated to ceding downtown streets to mobs of faux revolutionaries, didn’t do much.

    So, in came the feds. Federal agents, clad in camouflage, have intervened to protect the courthouse. They’ve used more aggressive tactics than the Portland police, seriously injured one protester, and have detained people some distance from the courthouse, leading some to question whether they’re really there to protect federal property, or to do something more sinister. Now, protesters have rallied around the message of getting the federal agents out of Portland, and moms and dads, donning bike helmets and leaf-blowers respectively, have joined the effort.

    During Wednesday’s nightly riot at the courthouse, Mayor Ted Wheeler made one of the weirdest public appearances I’ve ever seen by an elected official, which is, I promise you, saying something. He had a “listening session” with the protesters, which appeared to mostly involve Wheeler listening to them yell, ah, four-letter unpleasantries at him. He spoke in front of a huge projected message that read, “You, Ted Wheeler, need to resign.” He was engulfed in tear gas used by federal agents against protesters. Someone threw a water bottle at his head. It was all of the nightmares had by all the advance team members in the history of American politics crammed into one surreal night.

    One gets the sense that the Portland protesters have been waiting for someone to tell them no, someone to rally against. Parents of toddlers (and probably older kids too) will recognize this behavior as testing boundaries. The city hasn’t really told them no, and neither has the state. And now they’ve run up against federal agents who are ultimately under the control of none other than the very personification of evil in their eyes: Donald J. Trump. The feds work for Trump, and their job is to protect the courthouse, so the courthouse becomes the primary target in an attempt to provoke a response that might be construed as excessive.

    We are well past the point at which the protests and vandalism are in any way about the killing of George Floyd – the protests now are ostensibly about getting the federal agents out of Portland. Of course, there were federal agents – FBI, federal protective service agents, customs and border agents – before any of this mess and they will be there after. What the protesters want is the news coverage they’re getting and the feeling that they’ve struck a blow against the monster in the White House. In the process, they’ve wandered pretty far afield from the original thrust of the protests, and demonstrated the willingness of some among their number to mar a public building dedicated to something they say they want: justice.

    The federal presence is lawful

    The Department of Homeland Security is lawfully entitled to “designate employees of the Department of Homeland Security . . . . , as officers and agents for duty in connection with the protection of property owned or occupied by the Federal Government and persons on the property, including duty in areas outside the property to the extent necessary to protect the property and persons on the property.” 40 U.S.C. sec. 1315(b)(1) (for you snotty lawyers out there, I don’t know how to do the section symbol in Mailchimp so leave me alone about the citation). Those designated employees are empowered to, among other things,

    “enforce Federal laws for the protection of persons and property . . . . ”

    “make arrests without a warrant for any offense against the United States committed in the presence of the officer or agent or for any felony cognizable under the laws of the United States if the officer or agent has reasonable grounds to believe that the person to be arrested has committed or is committing a felony . . . . ”

    and,

    “conduct investigations, on and off the property in question, of offenses that may have been committed against property owned or occupied by the Federal Government or persons on the property[.]”

    40 U.S.C. sec. 1315(b)(2).

    So the hyperventilation about the alleged unlawfulness or even unconstitutionality of the use of federal agents is baseless. And I think even opponents of the use of federal agents concede as much. If the ACLU had a strong argument that the use of agents was unlawful or unconstitutional, it sure would have sought a temporary restraining order against deployment of those agents, rather than seeking (and receiving) an order merely prohibiting the agents from using tear gas and other munitions on journalists and legal observers among the protesters.

    Perhaps the most promising legal tactic for opponents of the federal presence is the Portland Transportation Bureau’s claim that the fence erected around the besieged courthouse unlawfully blocks bike lanes. Hell hath no fury like the City of Portland upon learning of an obstructed bike lane.

    But the feds should tread lightly, be transparent, and minimize the duration of their stay

    Now, just because the federal government is legally entitled to do something doesn’t mean that it should, or that it shouldn’t be careful about it. In my view, it is appropriate for the Dept. of Homeland Security to deploy agents to protect federal property, in particular when local law enforcement is unable, or its leadership unwilling, to do the job. However, the feds have to understand that having camouflaged agents (do they have to be camouflaged?) on the streets of an American city is a jarring sight for the public to behold. Furthermore, the protesters and the local media, who quite obviously support the protesters and oppose the feds, will do everything in their power to highlight missteps, or even to make them up.

    The Dept. of Homeland Security would be well-served to offer daily information to the public and the media about the precise location of its agents, the location where individuals are detained, and the reason for their detainment. The goal should be to demonstrate that the purpose of the federal presence is contained to the available statutory authority, and nothing more. This more muscular (I almost wrote “robust”!) federal presence should endure only so long as absolutely necessary to protect the courthouse. All care should be taken to minimize the use of force, and when force is used the feds should explain precisely why it was used.

    Could the era of low crime be coming to an end?

    This Spring and Summer, as lockdowns have eased and civil unrest aimed at defunding the police has intensified, crime has started to increase, with homicides up 23% in New York, mass shootings in Chicago and a widespread increase in urban homicides around the country. Do would-be criminals feel emboldened in a chaotic environment in which the police are politically hamstrung? I don’t know, but it makes sense, doesn’t it? The last time the U.S. embarked on a similar course of action, in the late 1960s, crime rates increased dramatically up until the 1990s, after significant investment in more robust (!) policing. The crime rate reduction led to all kinds of good things like fewer dead people and also the revitalization of cities like New York, where middle class folks had previously avoided due to fears about crime.

    Our twin goals should be to empower the police to prevent crime while acting in a manner consistent with the rights of individuals, including people of color. Widespread denigration of the police, and depriving them of the resources needed to prevent another crime wave, is a blunt instrument that is unlikely to achieve those goals.

    That’s if for this week. There’s a voice in my head saying, “You, Jeff Eager, need to get back to work.”

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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.

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  • Bend Business Roundup 7-17-20

    By on July 17, 2020

    Happy Friday,

    Here’s some stuff you might like.

    I usually start writing the Bend Business Roundup by Thursday afternoon, work on it Thursday night and finish it up Friday morning. Well, yesterday was my and Anna’s anniversary and even I know that working the evening of our anniversary is a bad idea, so I’m just getting cranking early Friday morning. Happy anniversary, sweetie!

    That’s a long way of saying, this BBR is probably going to be more stream of conscious than usual. Hope it’s ok.

    Bend nice

    Last night, Anna and I grabbed a drink at San Simon (there’s an accent over the “o” but I can’t figure out how to do that), a new-to-us bar on Tin Pan Alley in downtown Bend. The alley is closed to traffic, so they have tables all across it. The drinks were very good, and we talked to the owner a bit. We told him we were having dinner at Zydeco.

    When we left, Anna forgot her jacket and the owner walked the several blocks to the restaurant to track us down to return it. It was a “Bend nice” gesture of the type that makes this place great in spite of the unfortunate confluence of a multitude of materially sub-speed limit drivers, long, winding, single lane streets, and roundabouts. Dinner at Zydeco was, of course, amazing.

    Reality bites

    Increasingly, Americans hold a view of reality that comports with their political leanings. Polls consistently show that members of the president’s party think the economy and country are doing better than members of the other party. When a president of the other party is elected, the sides flip, even though the economy has not changed. Similarly, people’s views of the coronavirus, school reopening, and even the merits of free trade swing with, or against, the positions espoused by President Trump.

    One result of this phenomenon is that political leaders with sufficient stature within their respective parties can get away with, uh, less than complete depictions of the truth when communicating to the base. Which brings me to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, and specifically to a poster Cuomo personally designed, intended to celebrate New York’s having bent the Covid curve.

    The poster defies description, and I urge you to click that link to check it out. Take a minute to really look at it – there’s a lot to take in. There are many layers of weirdness when it comes to this poster:

    1. Aesthetically, it honestly looks like a teacher assigned a group of fifth grade art students, all of whom are related to Cuomo, to design a poster about New York’s Covid experience.

    2. A sitting governor actually designed this poster, and he apparently is really into poster art and has designed other posters.

    3. The thing is embarrassingly self-congratulatory. I mean, it would be cringe-worthy, even if congratulations were warranted.

    4. Congratulations, self or otherwise, are objectively not warranted. New York has had more Covid deaths, over 32,000, than any other state in the country, and it’s not even close. The next highest is California, at about 7,500. Florida, at about the same population of New York, has had 4,676 deaths. New York trails only New Jersey in deaths per 100,000 population, at 167. New York’s death rate applied to a full Autzen Stadium would result in about 92 people dropping dead, or between two and three people per section. Cuomo’s state has suffered worse than any other during the pandemic.

    Cuomo’s an astute politician, so why would he congratulate himself on his handling of a disease that killed 32,000 New Yorkers? Because he thinks he can,and he’s probably right. Despite the many deaths, extended lockdowns in places like New York City, and his order that nursing homes admit Covid-positive patients, Cuomo is more popular than ever. He has been successful in persuading people that he’s doing a good job, even while chiding Republican governors who preside over states with a fraction of the deaths of New York. It’s like a bizarro world in which facts don’t matter. It happens with Republicans too, but Cuomo’s case is the most extreme, in my opinion.

    The worst year to be alive

    No, it’s not 2020, but we still have over five months left so don’t give up yet. According to Science magazine, the worst year to be alive might have been 536, That’s the year a huge Icelandic volcano erupted and there was no sun for 18 months. It was near-freezing in Europe in the summer. There was massive starvation and then in the 540s, the same volcano erupted a couple more times, prolonging the starvation, and, oh yeah, there was also an outbreak of bubonic plague. All of this was presumably made worse by the absence of Netflix and Zoom.

    Covid and Bend

    Continuing the theme of bizarro worlds, it’s a really weird time to live in Bend. We are in the midst of a pandemic, but there are tourists all over the place. Deschutes County’s unemployment rate is about 16%, but locals are out and about and spending money. Between the federal government printing money at a feverish pace and Central Oregon having thus far been hit relatively lightly by Covid, we’ve thus far been spared the worst impacts of the pandemic.

    The pessimistic side of me wonders when the next shoe will drop. Federal payments must eventually dry up. Our Covid numbers are on the rise and the City Council is asking tourists to stay away. So long as our Covid numbers and frequency of urban riots stay low relative to California, Portland and Seattle, Bend will presumably continue to attract people with the means to relocate to Bend and either work remotely or join the ranks of the wealthy and intentionally unemployed.

    It’s the unintentionally unemployed that I’m worried about. With restaurants and many other businesses operating at a fraction of capacity, it’s difficult to see a lot of those folks getting jobs any time soon, especially as we head the wrong way with Covid cases, which will delay further reopening. The $600 federal unemployment bonus is being weened back, which will better incentivize work, but will also mean that people who are incentivized to work but cannot find a job may need to leave to find one, if there are places with more jobs to go to. For those who want Bend to remain something more than a resort town for the rich, this could end up poorly.

    Greater Idaho

    Some people frustrated with Oregon’s, ah, sometimes left-leaning governance want to expand the borders of Idaho into eastern and southern Oregon to form something called “Greater Idaho.” If you take a close look at the proposed new borders, you will notice that Redmond and La Pine are welcomed into the new mega-state, while Bend is rather conspicuously gerrymandered into what’s left of Oregon, along with Portland, the Willamette Valley, and the northern coast, presumably a reflection of Bend’s increasingly leftward drift.

    As pointed out by friend of BBR Kim Gammond, Ashland, which makes Bend look right wing in comparison, is to be included in Greater Idaho. Coming under the distant rule of Boise would probably not be welcomed by the city in which a major bone of contention recently was whether to ban public nudity, including a city councilor going nude in protest. Something tells me that the laws governing nudity (and especially the civilization-threatening atrocity that is city councilor nudity) would be more lenient in Lesser Oregon than Greater Idaho, if any of this were to happen, which it won’t.

    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:

    FacebookTwitterLinkedIn

    Read more