• Bend Business Roundup 10-11-19

    By on October 11, 2019

    Happy Friday,

    Here’s some stuff you might like.

    Business: Nationally, housing construction has slowed considerably, and that’s bad news for what remains of Central Oregon’s timber industry. It’s also bad news for forest fire prevention, as low lumber prices have led to fewer thinning projects on federal land. The upside is that the lower lumber prices ought to help keep construction costs in check.

    Law: The Internet make it easy for lawyers to send silly weekly newsletters to lots of people, but it also makes it easy for customers to publish reviews of the businesses they buy from. Business owners often feel the negative reviews are unfair, and are tempted to do something about it. Generally speaking, a customer’s truthful speech about her views on a service or product are protected by the First Amendment, and a court won’t assess damages or enjoin someone from such speech. Businesses also run the risk of further disseminating the negative review by taking legal action. That appears to be what’s happened when Adair Homes has sued a guy for writing negative things about the company on facebook. I wouldn’t have heard about the guy’s views but for the lawsuit, and I bet you wouldn’t have either.

    Politics: Andrew Yang is running for the Democratic presidential nomination. He’s not going to win, but he says some interesting things from time to time. This week, he tweeted, “Ideally we would pay as much or more attention to our communities as we do to Washington, D.C.”

    He’s right, and it would be better if more federal politicians exercised the (haha) humility to suggest we might want to take our eyes off them every once in a while. Our focus on the federal government, and more specifically the, how shall I say it, sometimes-less-than-optimal folks whom we elect to pretend to run it, is making us mad, in both meanings of the word. In the meantime, many important community institutions are withering for want of attention.

    While Yang’s observation is correct, however, two of his favored policies, a federal universal basic income and Medicare for All, would shift considerably more power and wealth from our communities to Washington, D.C. It’s no coincidence that our growing obsession with federal politics has coincided with the proliferation of tasks we’ve asked the federal government to perform. Giving it more tasks will only make the problem worse.

    Et cetera:  When I was in law school in Eugene in the early 2000s, I thought it was hilarious that there were people playing didgeridoos all over the place – street corners, campus sit-ins, inside the law school itself during the annual environmental law/patchouli immersion conference. I saw the didgeridoo as a symbol of Eugene’s, uh, bohemian culture, contrasted with the didgeridoo-less culture of my hometown of Bend. Well, now dudes are coming to Bend to drop didgeridoo albums, so the joke’s on me.

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

    Have a great weekend!

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  • Bend Business Roundup 10-04-19

    By on October 4, 2019

    Happy Friday,

    Here’s some stuff you might like.

    Business: Businesses with sales in Oregon exceeding $1 million will, beginning in 2020, pay to the state a “corporate activity tax” which BBR veterans will know taxes not just corporations but human beings generally. Setting aside the blatant dishonesty of the name of the tax, the Oregon Department of Revenue is still trying to figure out how, exactly, to implement the tax. To that end, Department staff are travelling the state to solicit input from dismayed and confused business owners. It’s like when you go in for a colonoscopy and the doctor politely and in sanitized terms describes what he’s going to do to you, and then asks, “How does that sound?”

    Law: The fact that in 2019 some idiots still commit crimes against others based on race is a stain on America. The seriousness of those crimes, which play as much a role in tearing our country apart as anything, requires that any allegation be taken seriously. Which is why it’s inexcusable to say you’re a victim of such a crime when you’re not, as a Portland man apparently did recently when he said he was stabbed and his car was painted with swastikas outside Bend. This kind of thing only gives the idiots room to avoid the reality that these kinds of crimes really do happen.

    Politics: The biggest thing cooking in local Bend politics these days is the possibility of the city referring to voters a property tax increase to pay for transportation improvements. It’s doing this because 43% of Bend voters want the city to focus on transportation improvements (see page 10 of link) and 88% think traffic congestion is bad (page 11 of the same link). Where things will get interesting is how much of the funds from the tax the city plans to use for bike and pedestrian improvements, which only eight percent (8%) of voters think will help fix congestion (page 12 of the link), vs. 53% who want wider roads and improved intersections. Keep that in mind when the project list comes out – there’s likely to be a lot more bike and pedestrian funding than what you’d expect based on the survey because the relatively small number of folks who prefer those projects tend to be quite vocal and politically mobilized.

    Et cetera:  I spent last night at the Robert Plant concert at the Les Schwab Amphitheater, where he observed on more than one occasion that it was “[bleep]ing cold!” And it was, but that didn’t stop him and his band from partaking in some nice renditions of Zeppelin songs including Going to California and especially, in the encore, Ramble On.

    PS:  I’m reallyreally sorry for L.A. Rams fans wait are there any L.A. Rams fans?

    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 9-27-19

    By on September 27, 2019

    Happy Friday,

    Here’s some stuff you might like.

    Business: “State sets 9.9% rent hike cap” is one of the more depressing headlines I’ve read in a while. You’d be excused thinking it’s from Pravda circa 1973. Nah, it’s a story from Oregon in 2019. Hopefully the state is better at determining rent prices than it is at building overpasses, but I’m not holding my breath.

    Law: It’s worth reviewing the fact that the rent control law that led to the rent hike cap described above also severely restricts landlords’ ability to evict tenants. If your name is on title for residential rental property which the state is gradually turning into a public utility (we used to call this owning the property), this is a law you really do need to understand.

    Politics: I try to stay away from the national political stuff here because it’s so tiring and there’s nothing any of us, realistically, can do about it. I do have something to say about the impeachment inquiry, though. I’m not going to argue whether or not Congress should impeach and remove the President; I’m more interested in what I think the impeachment process will tell us about ourselves. This is going to be a lot longer than the usual BBR fare, so if you’re short on time, skip on down to et cetera.

    For those of you who obviously have too much time on your hands, we’ll start with a story.

    On October 8, 1998, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives began impeachment proceedings against Bill Clinton. On that date, I was a year-and-a-half out of college and working on Capitol Hill in a now-retired GOP House member’s office. Because I knew literally nothing except that longish sideburns were really cool, most of my duties related to cleaning the office microwave and responding to constituent mail (yes, snail mail back then).

    My junior staff colleagues and I were fixated by the lead-up to impeachment, culminating in the Starr Report. To me, the Starr Report clearly described a President who abused his power. I thought that the evidence was overwhelming and even Democrats who had mostly supported Clinton would swing to support impeachment. Most of them didn’t, and the House impeached Clinton on a mostly party-line vote and the Senate failed to muster the 2/3 vote necessary to remove him from office. Clinton left office two years later as one of the most popular presidents in history, and Al Gore was destined to ride into the sunset on a private jet en route to a climate change conference. The whole process resulted in little more than the confirmation that Democrats tend to like Democratic presidents and Republicans tend not to.

    That’s because, despite all the legal-sounding language like “high crimes and misdemeanors” and “blue dress,” impeachment is a purely political process. The founders viewed it as such and it has been that way in practice on the rare occasions it’s been used. Which is to say that Members of Congress and the American people view impeachment through the same partisan lens they view everything else.  Which is why all this talk of whether something is “impeachable” misses the point.  If enough Members of Congress think that a president who fails to ambulate solely by cartwheel while in the White House should be removed, then he’s removed. There is no legal check on the political decision to impeach and remove or not. The only check is that the voters may not be as enamored of the cartwheel as an exclusive mode of presidential ambulation as their elected representatives and vote them out of office in the next election. Which, incidentally, is what voters did in the 1998 midterm election, just a month after the beginning of the impeachment process.

    If impeachment is a political question, then we would expect Congress to behave in a manner similar to other hotly contested votes: that is, to mostly vote with their party. That’s what happened in 1998, and it’s what I think will happen this time. The House is likely to impeach President Trump because it is controlled by Democrats, and the Senate, absent some big new evidence, will refuse to remove him from office because Republicans control that chamber, and the Democrats will get nowhere near the necessary 2/3 super-majority to remove him from office.

    There will be a lot of back and forth and new revelations that seem to partisans on either side to cinch their case, but at the end of the day (again, barring a truly shocking revelation different in type than what we know now) there will be almost no movement in support or opposition to the President. The 2020 election will be almost entirely about impeachment and recriminations related thereto. Should be a hoot.

    Impeachment is likely to be the latest process that highlights our partisan divisions. The Clinton impeachment occurred in a country that was significantly less polarized than our current environment, and it was decided almost entirely by partisan politics. We ain’t seen nothing yet.

    Et cetera:  To restore your faith in humanity, here’s a picture of Weird Al in front of the last Blockbuster video store in Bend and also in the known universe.

    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 Entrepreneur Report: May-August 2019             

    By on September 26, 2019

    Bend Entrepreneur Report – May – August 2019   

    Business Registrations Down 9.5% vs. same period last year

    Bend, OR – The number of new Bend businesses registered with the Oregon Secretary of State May through August 2019 (1,099 businesses) is down 9.5 % versus the same time-frame from 2018 (1,203), and about on par with registrations from that timeframe in 2017. Bend continues to have more businesses registered per capita compared to any other large-ish Oregon city other than Keizer. Furthermore, the rate of registrations in 2018 was probably unsustainable, given labor and real property constraints.

    “Since we started the Bend Entrepreneur Report in January 2017, the last four months have shown the most notable, mostly sustained slowdown in business registrations. Some national, state and local indicators have signaled a slowing economy. Even so, Bend entrepreneurs continue to form businesses at a rate that far outpaces the state average,” Bend business attorney Jeff Eager said.

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  • Bend Business Roundup 9-20-19

    By on September 20, 2019

    Happy Friday,

    Because I’m committed to giving Bend Business Roundup readers a well-rounded cultural experience (and, maybe, a(nother) good reason to unsubscribe), this week’s BBR is entirely in limerick. We’ll get back to prose next week.


    Portland lacks affordable housing supply
    City leaders didn’t need to ask why
    It’s because you see
    They need a new fee
    Lest city coffers run dry


    Some say limit the automobile
    They claim Les Schwab is hardly ideal
    For a place without mar
    From truck or car
    Feign the big street in front isn’t real


    There once was a state with one-party rule
    Whose view of open government was cool
    Trust us, they said
    There’s reform ahead
    If you believed that you might be a fool

    Et cetera:

    You’ve heard of footballers called Beavers?
    Cheered on by beleaguered believers
    They lost to Hawaii
    But beat Cal Poly
    Oregon loves its underachievers!

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

    Have a great weekend!

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  • Bend Business Roundup 9-13-19

    By on September 13, 2019

    Happy Friday,

    Here’s some stuff you might like.

    Business: Here in Central Oregon, we have “farms” and we have farms. The “farms” are owned by people who want to live here and want some space and water the grass to keep their water rights. Nothing wrong with that, but a lot of the real economically productive farms are up in Jefferson County, and they’re the junior water rights holders so they’re leaving 25-30% of their fields fallow due to lack of irrigation water. The story says, without attribution for the conclusion, that “several years of prolonged drought” have had more of an impact on water for irrigation than water diversions for the Endangered Species Act-protected Oregon spotted frog. But as of April of this year, Oregon snowpack was above average. The winter before was pretty dry but the one before that, well, the mountains, Bend and beyond were absolutely hammered by historically severe snowfall. It’s not readily apparent that drought, not frog diversions, are to blame for the farmers’ plight. At least I’m not buying it.

    Law: I don’t know much of anything about criminal law. I took the class (like I had to) in law school, and I even helped try a case in Lane County Circuit Court as a law school extern against a guy who threatened a woman with a stick wrapped in tape (he was convicted, in spite of the fact I had no idea what was going on). But you don’t need to be an expert to know that twelve years in prison for beating a two-year-old boy until he is wheelchair-bound and breathing through a tube for the rest of his life is not nearly long enough. State Rep. Daniel Bonham (who represents part of Redmond and Madras, where this crime took place), had a bill in the last legislative session to allow for longer sentences in these circumstances. The bill died in committee – it shouldn’t again.

    Politics: Here at BBR, we sometimes poke fun at our friends, and our many readers, in the Portland area. The possibility that a massive eruption of Mt. Hood could entomb nearby residents in volcanic mud is, however, no laughing matter. There’s nothing to be done to alleviate the risk inherent in the fact that all of us in the PNW live among active volcanoes, but there are things that can be done to mitigate that risk. One such thing is to install early warning monitors on Mt. Hood to give everyone a warning that it might blow, giving folks a chance to flee. The problem is that many of the areas appropriate for those monitors are in federally designated wilderness areas, and one geologist has been fighting for five years against the federal government and environmental groups to place some of these small monitors (via helicopter) around the mountain. Wilderness is important, but we shouldn’t let our love for wilderness create undue hazards, either due to volcanoes or wildfire (the fighting of which is severely restrained in wilderness) for the people who live near them.

    Et cetera: This has been a heavy BBR so let’s tug on those heart strings. As the parent of two young boys – three and five years old now – this video of two toddler boy BFFs greeting each other got me.

    PS: I ‘m looking for a web person to fix a problem I’m having with people trying to contact me via the EagerLaw PC website. If that’s successful, there will be other web stuff going forward. I prefer someone in Bend but that is not a requirement. If you or someone you know might be interested, just respond, or have them respond to this email. It will come straight to me.

    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