Updates

  • 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.”

    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 7-17-20

    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
  • 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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    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 7-3-20

    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.

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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:

    Facebook Twitter LinkedIn

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