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Rachel Dawson, Policy Analyst, Cascade Policy Institute

Vlad Yurlov, Policy Analyst, Cascade Policy Institute

Metro’s Transportation Tax Will Overspend on Underused Projects

What could you do with $7 billion? That’s the question on a lot of people’s minds as the Metro regional government pushes a permanent transportation tax this November. The tax will be paid by employers at workplaces with 26 or more workers, including nonprofit organizations. Metro, however, exempted itself and other local governments from paying the tax. Many of these projects will end up causing more problems in the future, creating congestion and redundancy and saddling us with more public debt.

The crown jewel of Metro’s transportation tax program is the Southwest Corridor light rail line extension, which is expected to cost $2.8 billion. This project encapsulates many of the problems in this measure. Southwest Corridor is an 11-mile extension of the MAX Green Line from Portland State University to the Bridgeport Village luxury mall. The draft environmental impact statement for the project concludes it will increase congestion at 46 intersections during the PM peak and 30 intersections during the AM, compared to only 36 and 14 intersections otherwise. Multiple I-5 ramps will see increases in congestion during both peak hours.

While some argue that light rail investments will get people out of their cars, much of light rail ridership comes from commuters who already ride public transit. Furthermore, light rail ridership has decreased by roughly 65% since the beginning of the pandemic, and many riders won’t return because CDC recommends that employees avoid transit. Roughly $2.8 billion will be spent on a rarely used facility that will worsen our region’s congestion. Continue reading

Elephants smash and eat giant pumpkins during the Oregon Zoo’s annual Squishing of the Squash. ©Oregon Zoo/ photo by Micah Reese

Some of the world’s largest land animals demolished a couple of the area’s largest pumpkins this morning, during the Oregon Zoo’s 22nd annual Squishing of the Squash.

“With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting our ability to gather in large groups, we couldn’t invite visitors this year, but we couldn’t let the elephants miss out on the fun,” said Bob Lee, who oversees the zoo elephant area. “Our elephant family got one 800-pound pumpkin and another 600-pound one to stomp on, munch on and play with.”

To see video from this morning’s Squishing, go to: https://youtu.be/psxIrjt5SX4.

The event is a precursor to the zoo’s annual Howloween celebration, presented by The Oregonian, which takes place starting this weekend. Kids can show off their costumes and learn about wildlife in a fun and safe setting, Oct. 24­–​25 and Oct. 29­–Nov. 1.

The giant pumpkins for this year’s Squishing of the Squash are being provided by Pacific Giant Vegetable Growers Club members Larry Nelson and Jim Paino. Enrichment items such as pumpkins help keep the zoo’s animals mentally and physically stimulated. Continue reading

You may have heard about the “found” laptop full of information on Hunter Biden’s dealings with China. Pictures. Videos. Emails. Maybe you have heard about the 26,000 emails that have been shared with Peter Schweizer by one of Hunter Biden’s former associates. If you haven’t, you are in the majority. The news is NOT reporting about it. Social media is censoring it. Few Americans are aware of the truth. That is a story in itself. The media is censoring and suppressing the truth about the Hunter Biden, (and Joe Biden) big money relationship with China and Russia.

From Breitbart News:

In an op-ed published in the Hill titled “Censoring the Biden Story: How Social Media Becomes State Media,” legal scholar Jonathan Turley criticized social media giants Facebook and Twitter for their censorship of a recent story from the New York Post which could be damaging to Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s campaign.

Breitbart News recently reported on the story that indicated that Joe Biden may have met with an adviser to the board of Burisma while he was Vice President, arranged by his son Hunter, who was working as a lobbyist for the company at the time. Joe Biden has previously said, “I have never spoken to my son about his overseas business dealings.”

But, the leaked emails allegedly show that Hunter introduced his father to a Bursima executive less than a year before Biden, acting as Vice President, pressured the Ukrainian government into firing a prosecutor who was investigating the company. Shortly after the story broke, many found themselves having trouble sharing it across social media. This censorship comes just weeks after executives from both Facebook and Twitter joined the Biden transition team. Continue reading

Karen Hardin

Lord, help us not to lose this country or our freedom to worship You.

While in Washington, D.C. a couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to talk with residents of the city about what’s going on and about their mayor. What I learned turned into an important reminder.

On the last day of our prayer tour, we took our team to a tourist-type store so they could purchase mementos. Ironically, we could only find one tourist shop open because of the many bans still in place in the city. In addition, we didn’t encounter any other tour buses on the road during the week we were there–at a time in which the city would normally be packed. Washington, D.C. was being held hostage by a tyrannical mayor consumed with her own power. Does this sound like a stretch? Read on.

As our team entered the store and began to browse, I went over to the shop owner to talk with her. She had a lot to say.

“I’m so glad you guys are here,” she stated. “The mayor has kept the city under lock and key. We can’t continue to operate this way.”

As I continued to talk with her, she shared a startling revelation. “When Obama was president, the mayor once said to him, ‘This is my city and these are my rules. If you don’t like it get out!’” Her attitude toward President Trump has been no different. She has worked to keep the city shut down from prayer groups and tourists, but open to BLM activist rioters and protests. Continue reading

Helen Maguire

Laurel Hill. Photo credit: Larry Day: Public domain

The hardest part of the Oregon Trail emigrants’ journey was the descent. In addition to the swampy bogs and dense forests, there was the infamous Laurel Hill. The pioneers mistakenly called the rhododendrons that were clinging to the steep slopes “laurels.”   In places the grade on Laurel Hill was 60%–more vertical than horizontal. Here the wagons had to be slowly lowered with the help of ropes stoutly wound around trees. Described as “something terrible,” the slope was worn with ruts five feet deep. One wheel might drop 3 feet off a boulder while another dropped into a 2 foot hole. Wagons slid down the hill with all wheels locked and a 40 foot long tree tied behind for additional braking. At the foot of the hill, the tree was left to block the next wagon! Many commented that Barlow was wise to put his first tollgate at the east end of the road, rather than on the western side of the Cascades, below Laurel Hill.

However, the road was not profitable because many who used it could not afford to pay or were allowed to pass by a tolerant keeper.

Over the years, five toll gates were built to serve Barlow Road traffic from 1846 until 1915, when the right-of-way was willed to the State of Oregon and the last gate, near the town of Rhododendron, was removed. For its first fifteen years, the travel on the Barlow Road was one way—west—until a road was blasted out around Laurel Hill. With the Barlow Road open to traffic in both directions, it became a true thoroughfare, and emigrants were gradually displaced by stagecoaches and freight wagons. In the 1880s, it served the first tourists headed up from the Willamette Valley to vacation and recreation sites on Mt. Hood. Continue reading

Marlon Furtado

Kevin Kinard had been making his annual visit to Arkansas’ Crater of Diamonds State Park for over twenty years, when he discovered a 9.07 carat diamond. This past Labor Day, Kevin picked up a crystal, thinking it might be glass. To his amazement, it turned out to be the site’s second-largest diamond found in its 48-year history. To the untrained eye, the marble-sized crystal looked like an invaluable rock. But to a gemologist, the beauty and value of the diamond encased below the plain surface could not be hidden.

Jim Schlatter, a friend of mine, recently shared a devotional thought at an Apple of His Eye Charity board meeting. He referenced one of Jesus’ parables in Matthew 13. “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” (Matthew 13:44)

Most interpretations I’ve heard of this parable indicate that it has to do with our discovery of Jesus. Once we learn that He is the means to forgiveness and a love-relationship with God, we understand that He is the greatest treasure on earth. This interpretation is true, Jesus is of inestimable worth. “But we have this treasure [Jesus] in jars of clay [our frail bodies] to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” (2 Corinthians 4:7) Continue reading

David Wojick, PhD

Reality is far more complicated, but agenda-pushing activists don’t want to discuss it

The screaming headline said “Black Americans 2.5X more likely than whites to be killed by police.” The statement is false. It is the kind of assertion that is used to claim police are systemically racist. It leads to fewer police, fewer arrests, more crime, more racial discord, and more innocent black deaths.

Accurate, honest statistics show just the opposite. When police must use deadly force, whites are more likely to be killed than blacks. But we rarely see these statistics, because they do not support claims of systemic, systematic racism against blacks. The statistics we do see are too often agenda-driven.

The sad reality is that, as a percentage of their total American population, black deaths by police are around 2.5 times white deaths. But this has nothing to do with likelihood, because the vast majority of people of both races have near-zero likelihood of being killed by police.

In fact, up to 88% of people killed by police were armed and being arrested at the time of their deaths. Such people are indeed at greater risk of being killed. However, racism has nothing to do with it. Continue reading

James Buchal, Multnomah County Republican Chair

This afternoon Senator Dennis Linthicum (SD26, Klamath Falls), Rep. Mike Nearman (HD23, Independence), Rep. Werner Reschke (HD56, Klamath Falls), and Neil Ruggles sued the Governor and State of Oregon in the Circuit Court for the County of Multnomah, challenging the Governor’s power to maintain a continuing state of emergency under ORS Chapter 401.  The lawsuit claims that the Legislature’s attempt to delegate “all police powers vested in the state by the Oregon constitution” is in fact prohibited by several sections of the Oregon Constitution which provide for a separation of legislative, executive and judicial powers.

“This lawsuit raises constitutional claims not previously considered by the Supreme Court of Oregon in its Elkhorn Baptist Church case, which upheld the Governor’s exercise of emergency powers when challenged on statutory grounds,” explained James Buchal, counsel for plaintiffs.  “We hope that the Oregon Supreme Court will follow the Supreme Court of Michigan and other state and federal courts which have recognized that the exercise of very broad statutory emergency powers for months on end infringes the rights of both citizens and legislators to have important general policy rules established by the legislative brand of government.”  A copy of the complaint, which explains the legal challenge in greater detail, is attached hereto.

Complaint 10-16-20

Duggan Flanakin

Evan Sayet’s The Woke Supremacy provides answers we cannot afford to ignore

Political comedian Evan Sayet says he has long dedicated himself to conserving and promoting the American values that have given him freedom and allowed him to pursue his life of liberty and happiness. His new book, The Woke Supremacy, lays out the history and characteristics of “Wokeness.”

However, in failing to examine the origins of this totalitarian intolerance, he misses the critical difference between old-style Marxism, so-called “Democratic socialism,” and “cultural Marxism” as first delineated by the Italian communist Antonio Gramsci and employed by Chinese dictator Mao Zedong.

That’s okay, though, because Sayet masterfully describes how these subversives operate and lays out the tactical principles (and lack of moral principles) that drive them. Their goal, he says, is to replace Western civilization with a nihilist premise that everything about Western culture is evil.

One fruit of this evil, poisonous tree is that Western society is so racist, Woke activists assert, and so fraught with multiple other evils that it cannot be repaired. Instead, it must be eradicated and replaced.

Philosopher, historian and self-defense advocate Sam Jacobs summarizes the origins of Wokeness by reviewing Gramsci, who spent a decade in Mussolini’s prisons and rejected the twin ideas of a dictatorship of the proletariat and direct ownership of the means of production as losing propositions. Continue reading

Scot Faulkner

Their 1619 Project would eviscerate, denigrate and replace American history with racist lies

Leftists have launched what they hope can be their final assault on America. Their goal is to obliterate everything good that America ever did or aspired to achieve, erase its citizens’ memories, and sow the seeds for future generations to revile and reject everything that is decent and noble in our country.

They intend to fundamentally change America’s historical narrative away from events and circumstances that made our country the world’s beacon of hope for freedom and representative government. They intend to replace well-documented reality with a false narrative of America being the scourge of the world, based on its enslaving and stealing from minorities to enrich and aggrandize white ruling elites.

Their plan is called the “1619 Project,” an alternative history curriculum for American elementary and secondary students. It was announced in July 2019 with a series of front-page stories in the New York Times, and other major newspapers, explaining its content and the need to:

“reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are.” Continue reading

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