Updates

  • Bend Business Roundup 5-24-19

    By on May 25, 2019

    Happy Friday,

    Here’s some stuff you might like.

    Business: If you are in the market to buy a newspaper or even five, you’d best hurry. Western Communications, the parent company of the Bend Bulletin, has filed documents in its bankruptcy case indicating that it intends to sell all its newspaper businesses and liquidate the company. According to those filings, the company has met with a number of potential (and, currently, anonymous) buyers. What does this mean? It means that probably someone will buy the Bulletin and keep publishing it, but the buyer may not be local and may severely cut back the Bulletin’s local coverage, as has happened throughout the country. If that’s what happens, this will be really bad for Bend, as the Bulletin is currently the primary (and usually the only) source for reporting about what has to be more than a billion dollars of taxpayer funds managed and occasionally mismanaged by local government in Central Oregon.

    Law: The family of a woman who died in an auto accident occurring on Highway 20 between Bend and Burns received a $26.5 million judgmentagainst the trucking company that employed the driver of the semi truck that struck the car carrying the woman. The facts of this one are pretty nasty. Apparently the drivers for a few semi trucks were driving aggressively toward one another, and at one point one of the semis was prevented by another of the semis from getting out of the lane for oncoming traffic while trying to pass. The woman and her husband (who was suffering from blood cancer) were in the oncoming lane, coming around a corner. He survived; she did not. Truly tragic.

    Politics: All desirable metro areas on the west coast (think Seattle, Portland, San Francisco, LA, San Diego and, yes, Bend) suffer from the same problem: unaffordable housing. Democrats have almost complete political control in those cities and the states they inhabit. Progressives have instituted strict development limits in these cities for, primarily, two reasons: (1) a sincerely held view that the environment is better off if people live in relatively close proximity to each other in cities, rather than in sprawling suburbs; and (2) wealthy progressives, who are ideologically aligned with the ethos of these cities and also, critically, have the money to live there, benefit from higher property values caused by severely limited housing supply. Some progressives who call themselves Yes In My Back Yard (YIMBYs) note that the resulting sky high housing prices, enacted by progressive politicians elected by progressive voters, are contrary to the traditional progressive values of equality and concern for the less fortunate.

    Et cetera:  Redmond’s Ridgeview High School softball team apparently has that sport’s version of baseball’s Randy Johnson. Allicitie Frost threw a no-hitter, striking out 19 (!) batters. Most impressive, only twice did the opposing team’s bats even contact the ball: one a groundout to second and the other a pop out in foul territory. Twice. They only hit the ball twice, during the entire game. Remarkable.

    If you forward this email on to friends or coworkers, thank you! You might also let them know that they can sign up for 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 5-17-19

    By on May 17, 2019

    Here’s some stuff you might like.

    Business: Oregon exports a lot of stuff, especially to China. The Trump administration has been increasing tariffs on stuff Americans buy from China, and China has retaliated. This will hurt Oregon industries, especially “hazelnuts and lasers.” Also, Hazelnuts and Lasers sounds like the name for a show aimed at breaking down the divide between boys’ and girls’ cartoon TV programming.

    Law: Many contracts that small business owners deal with commonly, like commercial leases, contain arbitration clauses. Those clauses, which generally obligate the parties to resolve disputes in front of a lawyer acting like a judge rather than in front of a judge, are invariably at the end of a really long and boring contract, and often they don’t get a lot of attention. There are a couple of simple things to pay attention to. First, what organization will conduct the arbitration (American Arbitration Association is national, Arbitration Service of Portland from you know where, and can be a little less expensive); and, second, where the arbitration will take place. You want the arbitration to be held where you are, so you’re not paying your attorney a lot of money to travel somewhere else in the event of a dispute.

    Politics: I promise you one of these weeks we’ll skip complaining about the Oregon legislature, but it’s not this week. As predicted, the legislature passed and the governor signed the $2 billion plus business tax hike. Meanwhile, the state economist reported such a large increase in state revenue that he called it a “seismic event.” Under my personal favorite provision of the Oregon constitution, seismic events like this caused by the state taking more from taxpayers than it expected to, results in an income tax “kicker” going back to taxpayers. (Note: it could also be caused by the state cutting spending or even cutting the growth of spending but, yeah, haha). Anyway, now House Speaker Tina Kotek has introduced a bill that would divert half the kicker to a new bridge in the Portland metro area and zero emissions programs. That’s after the legislature and governor decided to keep $108 million in kicker refund that otherwise would have gone to taxpayers. (But it’s OK! Our leaders in state government know how to keep track of your money and spend it better than you can!)

    Et cetera:  If your Friday needs a two minute video of two guys jumping from the top of a mountain into a moving airplane, I’m your huckleberry.

    If you forward this email to friends, please do us a favor and suggest they sign up for 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 5-10-19

    By on May 10, 2019

    Happy Friday,

    Here’s some stuff you might like.

    Business: The median price for homes sold in Bend in April hit an all-time high of $463,000, which is bad news for people looking to buy their first home in Bend, good news for people looking to sell their last home in Bend, and mildly interesting for most of the rest of us.

    Law: Consider the following allegations: (1) pot farm outside of Prineville, (2) a polyamorous (two women one dude) relationship, and (3) a criminal charge of slavery (!). New AMC drama or actual pending case in Deschutes County Circuit Court?

    Politics: Last week’s BBR was devoted almost entirely to the big new business tax before the Oregon Senate (with some bonus Rajneeshee fashion reminiscence). If you’re interested in reading more about the tax, check out this op-ed I wrote for the Bend Bulletin. If you’re tired of taxes and prefer guidance on how to create a wardrobe based upon the Rajneeshee look, go here instead.

    Fun:  You guys, Robert Plant is coming to Bend October 3. Tickets went on sale this (Friday) morning at 10 am. Plant and his current band, the Sensational Space Shifters, played some of their own surely weird stuff but also plenty of Zeppelin in last year’s tour. You know what to do.

    PS: Our friends at the Bend Chamber of Commerce will feature as part of its What’s Brewing series on May 14 a look at Real-Time Solutions for the Housing Crisis (see the Business item above). Check it out because, to let you in on a little secret, the “Brewing” part means there’s beer.

    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 5-3-19

    By on May 3, 2019

    Happy Friday,

    Here’s some stuff you might like.

    Business: 40,000 businesses that do more than $1 million in sales in Oregon will be subject to a new .57% tax on sales, under a $2 billion tax measure passed by the Oregon House this week (HB 3427). The bill provides: “A corporate activity tax is imposed on each person with taxable commercial activity for the privilege of doing business in this state.” (See Section 63). Couple things about just this sentence: (1) This isn’t really a corporate activity tax; it’s a personactivity tax, as the definition of “person” includes, well, persons and every business entity type you can imagine, from partnerships to limited liability companies to clubs. (See Section 58(15)); (2) The idea of our state government granting individuals and free associations of individuals, not just corporations and other government-created entities, the privilege of doing business in Oregon just has so much wrong with it I don’t even know where to start.

    Law: Businesses will not be able to avoid the tax by subdividing their operations into different entities that each do less than $1 million in sales. HB 3427 requires people who jointly own 50% or more of a group of businesses to file as one corporate taxpayer for the purpose of complying with the bill. (See section 60).

    Politics: Stop “bulging classrooms,” “4-day school weeks,” and make “corporations and the wealthy pay their fair share.” Arguments made this week for HB 3427? Nah, they’re arguments made by Oregon’s teacher union back in 2010 in support of Measures 66 and 67. Those measures passed, increasing personal income and corporate tax rates. Today, with those higher rates still in place and in spite of years of record state revenues, we are hearing the same arguments about why we need to increase taxes even more in order to save schools. The truth is, PERS is robbing schools and everything else our state and local governments do. It will also gobble up a lot of the HB 3427 revenue. Prediction: even if HB 3427 passes, and PERS isn’t fixed, we will be hearing the same arguments about another desperately needed tax hike soon enough.

    Et cetera: Enough about taxes. Let’s talk about Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, shall we? My wife and I (more my wife than I) just finished watching the Netflix documentary “Wild Wild Country,” which follows Rajneesh’s establishment in the early 1980s of a spiritual commune in and near the eastern Oregon city of Antelope. The contrast of cultures between a conservative, rural community and Rajneesh’s free-love, gun-wielding (well, maybe that part doesn’t contrast a whole lot), warm-tone-clothes wearing followers is fascinating to watch, even if like me you remember when this was all going down.

    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 4-26-19

    By on April 26, 2019

    Happy Friday,

    Here’s some stuff you might like.

    Business: Congress has been captured by yet another well-heeled business special interest group: Big Kombucha. At its beckoning, Senator Wyden has introduced a bill that would prevent application of federal alcohol excise taxes to Kombucha, which contains a small amount of alcohol. Bend is, of course, home to Humm Kombucha. Wyden’s bill is a good thing and while they’re at it, how about Congress get rid of excise taxes on beer too?

    Law: Have you ever wanted to get back at those parking enforcers, the ones who ticket you for being two inches over a line, or staying three minutes past when you should have? Well, apparently the judges on the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals are right there with you. They ruled that the parking Gestapo can’t constitutionally mark your tires with that chalk they use because it’s a violation of your Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. If Criminal Procedure weren’t my worst grade in law school I would tell you something about what that means, but you’ll have to just read the article I guess.

    Politics: Oregon has at least 24 occupational licensing boards that license and regulate various occupations including body piercers and electrologists, whatever that is. Widespread (and growing) occupational licensure is widely seen as anti-competitive and particularly harmful for people trying to climb the economic ladder. One state, Arizona, is bucking the regulatory trend and, spearheaded by its governor Doug Ducey, is now recognizing all occupational licenses granted from other states, so long as the license has been held for a year. Oregon should look at this and other licensure reforms to make our workforce more dynamic and make Oregon an easier place to do business.

    Et cetera:  Longtime readers know that we here at BBR have a certain affection for small, eastern Oregon towns. Previously, we’ve reported on happenings in Lakeview and Millican. So, it’s no surprise that the major recent flooding of Mitchell caught our attention. We’re glad no one was hurt, and really glad Henry the Bear doesn’t live at the Mitchell gas station anymore, because that could have been tragic.

    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 4-19-19

    By on April 19, 2019

    Happy Friday,

    Here’s some stuff you might like.

    Business: The Oregon Senate declined to limit the supply of legal marijuana(of which there is apparently an oversupply but don’t underestimate the consumption capacity of Eugene, guys), with one Democrat saying of the proposal to limit that it was “socialism” and “a stab at capitalism in pure form.” Now, let’s apply this newfound respect for capitalism and aversion to socialism to other issues, like housing supply and business regulations, shall we?

    Law: If you employ people in Oregon, as of January 31 you have new legal obligations pertaining to sexual harassment due to the Workplace Fairness Act. It’s worth a quick read of this piece to get a sense of what’s going on.

    Politics: Politico, a big-time national online political website, has published a lengthy piece on my former boss, Congressman Greg Walden. If you live anywhere east of the Cascades in Oregon (or in Jackson or parts of Josephine counties), Greg’s your congressman. The piece attempts to paint a picture of Greg moving “away” from President Trump on some votes, including a vote to bar the President from invoking an emergency to build a border wall. To me, this is just Greg being what he’s always been: a thoughtful, mainstream conservative who believes in upholding the Constitution. He was doing it while Trump was still a Democrat, and I hope he’ll do it for a long time to come.

    Et cetera: Back in the summer of 2010, I hatched this elaborate plan to propose to Anna, who is now somehow my wife. Plan A: propose near the summit of Broken Top (road was still closed). Plan B: propose at the top of a trail near Elk Lake (swarm of mosquitos). Plan C: propose at camp site at Sparks Lake (nearby, drunken young dudes hurling axes and screaming obscenities but I didn’t have a Plan D so I went ahead and did it and she said yes). Anyway, those dudes will soon have another ax-throwing and drinking spot right here in 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