Updates

  • Bend Business Roundup 3-29-19

    By on March 29, 2019

    Portrait

    Happy Friday,

    Here’s some stuff you might like.

    Business: The Oregon legislature is apparently considering things like a Commercial Activities Tax (CAT) and a Value Added Tax (VAT) to raise the $2 billion in revenue the Governor says Oregon needs. I’ve never heard of a CAT, but – hear me out here –  does it make sense to tax, and therefore deter, commercial activities or adding value? Aren’t these things generally good?

    Law: If you were on a transatlantic flight and a fellow passenger threatened to kill you with an ice pick, you’d be miffed, no? Well, a couple is suing Condor Airlines (FYI – there’s a thing called Condor Airlines) for $10 million for just that set of alleged facts. A warrant for the arrest of the person who allegedly threatened the gruesome murder issued out of Bend, Oregon of all places.

    Politics: I was researching former (and late) Oregon governor Tom McCall because that’s what dudes who sculpt the likeness of the US Capitol instead of doing normal high school things do for fun. Anyway, it occurred to me that you can draw a pretty straight line between McCall’s famous plea with tourists to Oregon not to “move here” to our state’s land use system (championed by McCall), which makes it really expensive to move or stay here, to our current predicament regarding a lack of affordable housing. Unaffordable housing is a key consequence of the social compact (many) Oregonians have made with their state government since the early 1970s, but I’m not sure they know it.

    Et cetera:  Another thing about Tom McCall that may be of interest, since this is a Central Oregon-originated email, is that he grew up (when not on the family estate in Massachusetts) on a ranch east of Redmond. His grandfather was a copper baron and his dad was a governor and congressman back east. It turns out McCall was a pioneer of the now well-known phenomenon of east coast trust funders coming to Oregon and, depending on your point of view, preserving our state’s natural beauty/telling us what to do with our property.

    Your friends can sign up to receive the Bend Business Roundup here. No sales, no spam. Just the weekly  email you’ve come to know and love.

    Have a great weekend!

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  • Bend Business Roundup 3-22-19

    By on March 22, 2019

    Happy Friday,

    Here’s some stuff you might like.

    Business: Historically, farming in Deschutes County has mostly resulted in the growth of rural mansions and lots of rocks. First marijuana and now its cousin hemp may be changing that. Deschutes County is the third-biggest producer of hemp in Oregon. And this fact really shocked me: according to the story linked above, hemp is expected to soon overtake cattle as the second most valuable agricultural commodity produced in Oregon.

    Law: It wouldn’t surprise me if lawyers were invented in order to handle legal disputes between neighbors. Those disputes can be pretty nasty, in part because the parties can’t really completely avoid each other, and there are lots of ways for them to mess with each other. Including, allegedly in the case of two feuding Terrebonne neighbors, piling 20 feet of snow to block the driveway of one of the neighbors.

    Politics: The current session of the Oregon legislature is nothing if not entertaining, if your idea of entertainment is watching B-level horror movies, you know the ones that are more scary-bad than scary-scary. Oregon is hoovering in its highest revenue ever, yet will have to make deep cuts to some services, and the Governor wants a $2 billion increase in business taxes and maybe confiscate personal income tax refunds (called the “kicker”) to pay down the state’s pension obligations. How can we make this dire fiscal situation better? Oh yeah, give state lawmakers a 63% raise.  Scary bad.

    Et cetera:  I have a confession. I’ve never been to a Chick-Fil-A or eaten its food. Not for any reason other than I mostly haven’t lived places where they are. But that is – God willing – about to change. Construction should begin on Bend’s first Chick-Fil-A this summer. Based on the media coverage, this might be the most anticipated event in Bend’s history since at least the eclipse or maybe even since C-Span came to town to commemorate Socialist presidential candidate Frank T. John perishing while trying unsuccessfully to save a boy from drowning in Mirror Pond in 1928.

    Your friends can sign up to receive the Bend Business Roundup here. No sales, no spam. Just the weekly email you’ve come to know and love.

    Have a great weekend!

    Read more
  • Bend Business Roundup 3-15-19

    By on March 15, 2019

    Happy Friday, Here’s some stuff you might like.

    Business: It’s easy sometimes to forget the remarkable size and shear wealth generated by the U.S. economy, until you run into something like this: there are now more millionaires in the U.S. than there are people in Sweden or Portugal. And for those of you who, like me, thought, “Oh that’s a bunch of people who’ve owned a home since 1980 in San Francisco that’s now worth $2.5 million,” the calculation actually excludes the value of primary residences.

    Law: Sometimes lawyers like to use words that the general population doesn’t know to make ourselves seem smart and to keep ourselves in business. One such word, often found in commercial leases, is “attornment.” That’s just a fancy way of saying that the tenant agrees to abide by the lease even if the landlord sells the property to a new owner. There, now you too can charge people by the hour to explain that word to them*. You’re welcome!

    Politics: If you really want to have more affordable housing in Bend and make more employment land available for jobs that pay enough allow people to live here, you need two things right off the bat. The first is available land, which Oregon makes unnecessarily difficult and Bend has some but not much control over. The other is infrastructure, primarily streets and sewer, to serve what land is available. That’s why it’s important when the City Council sets transportation spending priorities with the $32 million it thinks it will have available in the next few years. The Council is likely to seek a property tax-funded bond in 2020 which would allow for more transportation improvements, which would make more money available for more projects.

    Et cetera: You’ve probably heard that Bend is home to Earth’s last Blockbuster Video. That’s cool, but I’m here to verify something else related to at-home movie viewing on the high desert. Back when my family first moved to Bend in the late 80s, I remember hearing that Bend had the highest rate of VCR ownership in the U.S. Some internet sleuthing just now did not confirm or deny what I’d heard. Any of you old timers, let me know if you know anything about this. If you’re young, FYI: a VCR was like a cassette tape player but for . . . oh, well, never mind. Your friends can sign up to receive the Bend Business Roundup here. No sales, no spam. Just the weekly email you’ve come to know and love.

    *Except you can’t legally charge people for legal advice unless you’re a lawyer because, well, lawyers.

    Have a great weekend!

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  • Bend Business Roundup 3-8-19

    By on March 8, 2019

    Happy Friday,

    Here’s some stuff you might like.

    Business: The headline “Bend home sales drop to late-2007 level” makes those of us who were in Bend for the Great Recession rock back and forth while hugging ourselves. February home sales dropped to 106 for the month, down 34.5% from a year ago. Let’s hope this is a result of Snowmageddon 2.0, shall we?

    Law: If you think you are an independent contractor or employ independent contractors, there is a really good chance you actually are an employee or have employees under Oregon law. The state government and unions, to the degree one can meaningfully distinguish between those entities, really dislike independent contractors and have been waging a decades-long battle to make independent contractor relationships as rare as possible. A bill in the legislature, HB 2498, is the latest salvo. The bill states that someone who provides services for someone else cannot be an independent contractor if the services provided are in the usual course of the other person’s business. So, a personal trainer working at a gym might no longer be an independent contractor, etc.

    Politics: On August 22, 2018, Oregon Governor Kate Brown was in a tight re-election fight against challenger Knute Buehler. An independent group was running ads attacking Brown’s record on child care. On that date, a nine-month-old baby boy was found unconscious at a state-regulated daycare with a history of regulatory infractions in Lane County. Two days later, the baby died. On the date the baby died, the regulatory agency in charge of child care sent Brown’s office a proposed press statement regarding the death, consistent with prior state practice of disclosing such deaths “in a timely manner” as required by federal regulations. There were communications between the agency and the governor’s staff, the content of which was redacted from a public records production to the Oregonian, and no disclosure was made until the Oregonian recently inquired about the death. The state maintains that there’s nothing to see here – that the failure to disclose was justified under the law and was not politically motivated. However, the sequence of events as reported by the Oregonian indicates the failure to disclose may well have been politically motivated. If the legislature, which funds the relevant state agency and writes child care laws, does not undertake a real, bipartisan investigation of this tragedy, why do we have a legislature at all?

    Et cetera:  A month ago, I let you know about a new nonprofit called Local Voter Project, which raises money to buy introductory Bend Bulletin subscriptions for newly registered Bend voters. The purpose is to provide new voters the information they need to be involved in our local government and civic life, and to support local journalism of the type that uncovered the important story described in the section above. I am very grateful to the generous Bend Business Roundupers who contributed to the cause. We are planning to buy the first round of subscriptions toward the end of this month. We would love to buy 100 subscriptions, which would cost around $6,500. We have a ways to go to meet that goal. If you feel like helping out, you can donate here. Thank you!

    Your friends can sign up to receive the Bend Business Roundup here. No sales, no spam. Just the weekly email you’ve come to know and love.

    Have a great weekend!

    Read more
  • Bend Business Roundup 3-1-19

    By on March 2, 2019

    Happy Friday,

    Missed you last week, as our family was afflicted with a couple very sick toddlers (they’re fine now), and that’s why this email is weeky(ish)! Here’s some stuff you might like.

    Business: Anyone who’s looked at developing or redeveloping property knows that the cost of installing sidewalks can be quite a lot. City of Bend rules require installation of sidewalks whenever property is significantly redeveloped. Sometimes the cost of installing the sidewalks makes the project not feasible. And some neighborhoods without sidewalks don’t want “sidewalks to nowhere.” Well, the City is considering exempting some neighborhoods from the sidewalk obligation.

    Law: Well, the Oregon legislature has now passed and the governor has now signed the country’s first statewide rent control law. Rent control is a component, but for many residential landlords, the significant changes to evictions will be the more drastic change. And the law has an emergency clause so it went into effect immediately because in Oregon destroying the ability of adults to contract with each other is an emergency. If you are a residential landlord you NEED to figure out what the law requires, immediately, or you could be facing claims for damages, penalties and attorney fees. This article is a good place to start.

    Politics: The Oregon legislature does a lot of bad things, but the House did a good thing this week by passing, unanimously, a bill to allow Redmond to develop 485 units of affordable housing. Local Rep Jack Zika (who lives in Redmond) spearheaded the bill. While this is the right move, it’s a reminder that one of the reasons Oregon has an affordable housing problem is that it takes an act of the legislature to allow for the development of more housing.

    Et cetera:  My senior year at Mountain View High School was 1992-93, when some old-timers may remember Bend got hammered with snow. The school held a snow sculpture contest on the football field and I and my fellow painfully dorky friends sculpted a miniature U.S. Capitol Building. We came in second place and were recognized at a school assembly so that everyone in school was reminded that we were nerds.

    Your friends can sign up to receive the Bend Business Roundup here. No sales, no spam. Just the weekly email you’ve come to know and love.

    Have a great weekend!

    Read more
  • Bend Business Roundup 2-15-19

    By on February 15, 2019

    Happy Friday,

    Here’s some stuff you might like.

    Business: Pitchers and catchers have reported for Major League Baseball spring training, which means that warmer weather is coming (**looks at three-foot snow berm outside office window, sighs**). MLB teams are valuable things, with the New York Yankees, shockingly, the most valuable at $4 billion.  My Mariners are exactly middle of the pack at 15.

    Law: Oregon is, notoriously, likely to become the first state in the U.S. with statewide rent control. Less known is the fact that the rent control bill, SB 608, precludes landlords from terminating a month-to-month tenancy after the first year without cause, except under certain circumstances. The bill also, bizarrely, institutes notice requirements for termination of a fixed term tenancy. A landlord will need to give notice to a tenant who has signed a lease agreement stating that the tenancy terminates on X date notice that the tenancy actually really does terminate on X date or the tenancy doesn’t lawfully terminate on X date. This is crazy and suggests that the Oregon Senate (which has passed the bill) believes residential tenants are incapable of being party to binding legal agreements. What a complete mess.

    Politics: Bend City Council positions are, in theory, non-partisan. “Republican” or “Democrat” does not appear on the ballot next to Council candidates’ names. But, of course, the actual councilors who hold these positions typically are registered to vote in the primaries of one of those two major parties. Also, in practice, Bend City Council elections and many of the votes taken on Council are pretty partisan. The increasingly partisan nature of City Council politics was on display  Valentine’s evening when Mayor Sally Russell (a Democrat) spent an hour before an “aggressive, angry room” of apparently not romantically inclined Deschutes County Democrats who were mad at Russell for voting to appoint Chris Piper, a Republican, to a recent Council vacancy. Russell said she’s been “bullied” by people who were upset at her choice. The Council is non-partisan only to the degree that insiders and activists like those who spend their Valentine’s evening attending Deschutes Democrat meetings, and their mirror images on the other side, are the only ones who know it’s actually a really partisan game.

    Et cetera:  Yesterday was Oregon’s 160th birthday, and there were facts shared about Oregon, most of which were boring. One caught my eye, though. It turns out the largest living organism in the entire world (and I guess the entire known universe since we’ve not yet found life off this planet) is located right here in Oregon. It’s a giant fungus that occupies about four square miles (!) of the Blue Mountains in the Malheur National Forest east of Bend.

    Your friends can sign up to receive the Bend Business Roundup here. No sales, no spam. Just the weekly email you’ve come to know and love.

    Have a great weekend!

    Read more