Greg Walden's gubernatorial aspirations vaporized, as he chooses Big Oil over Oregon

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

Well, that's that. There's no way that Greg Walden can possibly run for Governor now.

On the floor of the House on Wednesday, he loudly and angrily opposed the County Payments bill brought up for a vote by Peter DeFazio. (They ended up delaying the vote one day. Stay tuned on that.)

Yes, you read that right: Greg Walden opposed the County Payments bill. A bill that he once co-sponsored. A bill that would keep local governments from going bankrupt throughout Oregon (including in the 2nd). A bill that had a solid funding source to pay for it (resolving the GOP's previous objection.)

And he didn't just do it quietly. He went nuts. From the Oregonian:

The House exploded in a spasm of angry, fist-waving debate Wednesday with one Oregon lawmaker accusing another Oregon lawmaker of bad faith and deception over federal aid to depressed rural communities.

The flash point for what one representative called "a tornado of words" was a bill sponsored by Rep. Peter DeFazio, D-Ore., to extend county timber payments for four years. Wednesday's debate was part of a last-gasp effort to renew the program, which has sent money to 33 Oregon counties and served as the primary paycheck for rural areas.

What exactly did Greg Walden get so angry about? DeFazio's bill pays for the County Payments program by charging Big Oil a bit more for drilling off-shore for oil and gas.

While renewing the payments has unanimous support among Western lawmakers, Oregon Rep. Greg Walden and other Republicans launched a blistering attack on DeFazio and his bill Wednesday. Their argument, which got louder and more emphatic with each speaker, was that DeFazio broke his word by bringing the bill to the floor with a funding source -- oil leases -- that he promised to remove. ...

DeFazio said those opposing his bill are more interested in protecting oil companies than providing money "for hundreds of teachers, hundreds of deputy sheriffs, road workers and public health."

"It's a tough choice for some. Not for me," DeFazio said from the House floor, his voice rising and fists shaking.

Of course, Greg Walden (and Gordon Smith) could have passed their own County Payments bill anytime in the last six years -- when their guys ran the House, the Senate, and the White House.

But they failed. Miserably. Cue DeFazio and Earl Blumenauer:

"I think he got crosswise between his constituents, big oil and the Republican leadership and he's in a very tough spot. And I'm sorry he's trying somehow to attribute it to me," DeFazio said. "I got a bill to floor. He never got a bill to the floor when the Republicans were in charge. They let the program expire." ...

Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., said he understood Republican frustrations. "They should be frustrated because they were in total control for six years . . . and allowed it to expire."

If there was ever any doubt - and there shouldn't have been - it's clear now: Greg Walden is only giving lip service to the County Payments problem.

And there's no way that dude is running for Governor now. Even if he does learn how to use a telephone.

Comments

  • (Show?)

    What state is Walden from? Send him a Texas sheetcake decorated with oil rigs.

  • Kent (unverified)
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    Actually, hundreds of rural Texas towns and counties are in the same position as rural timber towns in Oregon. They are poor towns that are surrounded by tax-exempt land. However in this case it's agricultural land not timber land.

    The difference? Small towns in Texas have never received any sort of Federal subsidy so they pay for local services through property taxes that are probably double what they are in Oregon, and local sales taxes as well.

    This so-called "crisis" has been looming in Oregon since the 1980s. Many of the towns in question are probably doomed to be ghost towns anyway, just as many towns on the great plains have dried up and blown away.

    I'm not questioning the politics of the situation. Sounds like Walden really stepped in it. But as a 4th generation Oregonian currently living Texas, this rural payments crisis looks a little different from afar.

  • dartagnan (unverified)
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    The pity of it is the idiotic voters in Eastern Oregon will re-elect Walden even though he shafted them to protect Big Oil. He has an "R" after his name and that's all they care about.

  • Anonymous (unverified)
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    So DeFazio is the one who lied and broke his word, and tried to use rural Oregon as a patsy in his class warfare against an unpopular business, and that means Walden is the bad guy?

    When is it okay to impose additional taxes on a narrow part of the private sector just because they're unpopular?

    Shouldn't taxes be levied according to some non-emotional criteria, like fairness or equality? Why should the tax code be used to lash out a companies that have committed the sin of being unpopular?

    Will Democrats expand this to individuals next, with different tax codes depending on your personal popularity?

  • MCR (unverified)
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    Any video of this around?

  • Admiral Naismith (unverified)
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    Here's Noah Lemas, the Democrat running against Walden for the OR-2 district.

    http://www.noahlemas.com/

    Voters do have a choice in November. If Walden isn't representing your values or doing what you think would make Oregon a better place, consider supporting Lemas to take his place.

  • Michael A Sexton (unverified)
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    The counties get money from the timber receipts, which boils down to no logging no money. It's not the feds fault that the Eco-wackos file suit to stop the logging that got the counties the money. Go sue the environmentalists for the money,or allow the logging until then NO welfare for the counties. I keep hearing about the deficit,time to cut spending and this is a good way to do it.

  • (Show?)

    In the big picture, the county payments are a victim of the occupation of Iraq. Although it is not the largest moral issue about the occupation, we should not lose sight of what that arson bonfire of money is costing at home.

    Not to mention what even a tenth of it could do to build a constructive foreign policy bringing much realer security.

  • Steve Bucknum (unverified)
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    dartagnan writes, "The pity of it is the idiotic voters in Eastern Oregon will re-elect Walden even though he shafted them to protect Big Oil. He has an "R" after his name and that's all they care about."

    And again we assemble the circular firing squad. We had a really good candidate and a really good chance to defeat Walden last time. Unlike Oregon's 4th CD, which has instant national support, our Congressional District had almost no support. Carol Voisin received less than $10,000 from the Democratic Party to run in the nation's 4th largest Congressonal District. Only by Walden spending way over $1 million did he beat her.

    So, dartagdan - why don't you stop calling people names, and start doing something about the real situation. Get active in the Party, give them hell for not walking the talk about the so-called 50 State strategy (with Oregon's Second Congressional District being about 2/3rd's of Oregon's geography, its really a 49.3 State strategy).

  • (Show?)

    http://www.noahlemas.com/

    Really? (sigh)

  • asdger (unverified)
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    Kari you are such a tool. That or a dope.

    Defazio connected a tax on big oil to county timber payments after promising he wouldn't do it. HE is the one playing politics to pander to special interest groups.

    But hey, why should we expect anything different from you?

  • mroc 44 (unverified)
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    Sounds like a warm up for the next Governor's race. Run Peter Run, Win Peter Win

  • (Show?)

    http://www.noahlemas.com/

    Really? (sigh)

    Expect that to improve, to at least some extent, in the coming weeks.

  • Unrepentant Liberal (unverified)
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    Hum-mm, interesting comments. Defazio finds a way to pay for the County Payments bill. Walden goes ballistic in opposition because it may have an ever so slightly negative effect on the record making profits of his wealthy contributors instead of looking out for the interests of the people he actually represents. AKA ' throwing them under the bus.' And Defazio is somehow the villain in this? Please.

  • DSS (unverified)
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    If Walden is just finding out that the bill that you get on the floor in Congress isn't always exactly what you expected, than he would be the most gullible Congressman ever.

    But he's not; he's a smart guy. What's going on is that since he's the frontrunner for the R nod for Governor in 2010, he's going to get set up on every Oregon-centric vote from now until then.

    This is a concerted effort to force him to choose between chipping away at his base or taking an anti-Oregon vote that will show up on a hit piece later on. And he's pissed because he knows it won't be the last time this happens.

    Good policy + good politicking? The Democrats just might have their act together. :)

  • (Show?)

    Noah needs to post his photo on his home page. He's got nothing to hide in that department.

  • Waldonymous (unverified)
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    Dear Republican trolls (anonymous and asdger),

    1. Who broke their word? The Republicans controlled the Congress and the White House for years and never once brought a bill to the floor of the House or the Senate to reauthorize the county payments legislation. This broke a 100-year old promise of the federal government to the rural counties. Are you seriously telling us that DeFazio didn't have an obligation to Oregon's rural counties to take whatever offset Pelosi and Rangel gave him so that Walden's counties don't go BELLY UP? Welcome to the minority, jerks. You get to choose between the oil companies that have provided loyal and faithful support to the Republican cause and the rural constituents you were elected to represent.

    2. Class warfare? The oil royalty collection that DeFazio is trying to accomplish is actually an attempt to correct an error made under the Clinton administration. Thanks to that error, oil companies drowning in their own profits haven't paid royalties on certain Gulf leases, despite prices bursting over 100 bucks per barrel. How exactly is that class warfare?

    3. Pander to special interests? Walden, Bush, Craig, and their Republican colleagues never moved the county payments legislation because they were asked by the timber industry not to do a long-term reauthorization of county payments. Certain geniuses (AFRC, others) in the timber industry and Republican circles thought this would create pressure to go back to cutting down old growth, salvage, etc. Walden and Co. put rural counties at risk to pander to some old school timber guys.

  • Mary, Jane or Sarah (unverified)
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    <h1>"Kari you are such a tool. That or a dope."</h1>

    Hey, no whacks at the Kari pinata here!!

    Go over to OregonCatalyst or NWR for that.

    Only fawning over Kari is allowed here.

  • blizzak (unverified)
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    The payment issue is a little more complex than just federal lands and the decline of logging. The Oregon and California Railroad lands were transferred from private landowners back to the federal government (and thus out of the tax base). The situation is not analogous to tax-exempt land in Texas. It's also unfair to say the O&C counties are looking for handouts -- they are just asking to be compensated for land that was "repossessed" by the federal government.

  • David (unverified)
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    Yes, the problem IS more complicated and to follow with blizzak's comments and to Kent's comments about Texas. It is not as easy as blaming these federally-dependent counties for not having the hutzpah to raise local property taxes. The problem exists in the Oregon Constitution. When voters passed Measures 47/50 in the mid-90's they did a LOT of things, but pertinent to this, they fixed for all local governments a permanent tax rate. This caused real havoc for some jurisdictions that had expiring levies at that very moment and there are even some local governments that have a ZERO permanent tax rate. For these counties, that were receiving the timber payments, they were locked in at their low rates at the time. This brings us up to now, and if the Feds were to expire the county payments program (and expiration may or may not have merit, not debating that), but if they were to expire it, by and large these counties would have no constitutional means to raise their property tax rates. As an aside, Oregon also has not provisions in law for municipal bankruptcy.

  • (Show?)

    So what is the reason given by DeFazio for saying he would remove the funding source--and then not doing so?

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    If Bush and Cheney are planning an attack on Iran before the election then perhaps our so-called representatives might be better talking about that instead of timber payments, important as they may be.

  • Waldonymous (unverified)
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    Are we taking Walden's word for it, Torridjoe? I don't remember reading anywhere that DeFazio agreed with Walden's take on this.

    But even if walden is correct and DeFazio said one thing and did another, here's the explanation: DeFazio doesnt' get to decide on the offset. That is a decision made well above his pay grade (Pelosi and/or Rangel). The leadership controls the limited offsets available for the thousands of un-met needs in the country and there is no way DeFazio could get his bill to the floor for a vote on the suspension calendar if it wasn't tightly wrapped up by the leadership. This is how it worked when Walden's party ran the show, and how it works now.

    There are very few perfect choices when it comes time to vote in congress, and even fewer perfect choices when you are in the minority. Unlike Gordon Smith, who has voted with the Democrats this cycle at almost every similar juncture, Walden decided to take one for the team (Boehner) and stand up for their donors. Bully for him.

    My sources tell me that Walden was actually whipping the vote for Boehner. In other words, he was calling Republican colleagues and urging them to vote against DeFazio.

    Walden also called his Republican county commissioners to test the waters on his actions and at least some of them told him that he was screwing up and that they wouldn't support his vote. I wonder if any of them are aware that he was not only voting against DeFazio, but that he was also working hard to help defeat it?

    Has the final vote happened yet? It may not be too late for Walden to be more like Smith and capitulate to the Democrats.

  • (Show?)

    About this Noah guy.......Never heard of him before today, but othere than getting the website in shape (which Nick has addressed), what's not to like?

    He's cute as a button, a family man, an MBA, a successful businessman, a serious Boardhead, and holds progressive views. With this resume he can almost count on Central Oregon as a good base to go after Walden in the outlier areas.

    It's the 36 county model again. Chip. Chip. Chip.

    <hr/>
  • genop (unverified)
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    Whew, that was close, had the bill passed the house, it would move to the Senate and Gordo would then have shown his true colors. Heckuva job Greg

  • (Show?)
    Are we taking Walden's word for it, Torridjoe? I don't remember reading anywhere that DeFazio agreed with Walden's take on this. But even if walden is correct and DeFazio said one thing and did another, here's the explanation: DeFazio doesnt' get to decide on the offset. That is a decision made well above his pay grade (Pelosi and/or Rangel). The leadership controls the limited offsets available for the thousands of un-met needs in the country and there is no way DeFazio could get his bill to the floor for a vote on the suspension calendar if it wasn't tightly wrapped up by the leadership. This is how it worked when Walden's party ran the show, and how it works now.

    Which begs the question--why promise something you know you can't necessarily deliver?

    If DeFazio objected to Walden's characterization, I assume that's how he would have framed his objection/argument. I don't see that.

    I'm not opposed to using oil leases to pay for it. But I'm curious why he said he'd remove it, and then didn't.

  • Bert Lowry (unverified)
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    I hope conservatives stick with the line that Walden did the right thing. It makes them look as out of touch with rural Oregon as they in fact are.

  • Mitch (unverified)
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    Blizzak, There is money for the counties; it comes from the trees that get logged. Revenue is generated for the counties when the state allows logging. It’s very simple and it’s a renewable resource, you plant it and it grows back and then you cut it again and make more money. Why should the money come from any other place then our own state, why should DeFazio rely on money from other sources when it could come from this state? Think about it, cut the logs, loggers will have jobs, truck drivers will have jobs, and mills will have jobs and so on. DeFazio and others think that we shouldn’t log and that other states owe us. OK, look at it this way, how about if the Midwest was to tax our dams for the power that they generate to help pay for other people problems. Tax Bonneville power so other states get the money, and us Oregonians will pay for it. Sounds like a good plan to me.

  • marvin knudson (unverified)
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    Residents who oppose Walden in his District should support Noah Lemas in the same way that Obama raised funds. So far I have not found a link to his campaign. Walden is a total shill for the privatization mode. So if you want I-84 to be a toll road, The National Scenic Area owned by the Saudis or the other OPEC emperors just keep Walden in office. Brother can you spare a dime? Drop it on him. Or buy plywood made in China from Oregon old growth.

  • (Show?)

    It’s very simple and it’s a renewable resource, you plant it and it grows back and then you cut it again and make more money.

    And therein lies the Republican land-use management system in one sentence. In fact, that seems to sum up Republicanism in general: its mine so I'll use it any way I want--damn the consequences.

    There are legitimate reasons that we don't log the hell out of public lands. We don't strip mine public lands, either (or so I'm told).

    Simplified, boilerplate articulations for complex land management issues are so 2004.

  • (Show?)

    I'm afraid this is much ado about nothing. If the county payments are tied to the fee on oil leases that DeFazio proposes, it probably won't be accepted by the Senate and almost certainly will be vetoed by President Bush even if it is. I think that is Walden's biggest concern.

    On the other hand, I also think DeFazio is right that using the fees from offshore drilling is a nonstarter.

    In my opinion, that's the real frustration that is fraying the relationship between two congressmen, DeFazio and Walden, who have historically worked well together.

  • (Show?)

    I'm afraid this is much ado about nothing. If the county payments are tied to the fee on oil leases that DeFazio proposes, it probably won't be accepted by the Senate and almost certainly will be vetoed by President Bush even if it is. I think that is Walden's biggest concern.

    On the other hand, I also think DeFazio is right that using the fees from offshore drilling is a nonstarter.

    In my opinion, that's the real frustration that is fraying the relationship between two congressmen, DeFazio and Walden, who have historically worked well together.

  • (Show?)

    I'm afraid this is much ado about nothing. If the county payments are tied to the fee on oil leases that DeFazio proposes, it probably won't be accepted by the Senate and almost certainly will be vetoed by President Bush even if it is. I think that is Walden's biggest concern.

    On the other hand, I also think DeFazio is right that using the fees from offshore drilling is a nonstarter.

    In my opinion, that's the real frustration that is fraying the relationship between two congressmen, DeFazio and Walden, who have historically worked well together.

  • Ernie D (unverified)
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    I could bring up hundreds of examples of Walden voting against his constituent’s best interest but here are a few from 2006 votes.

    Walden voted WRONG on:

    LOBBYING REFORM—H.R. 4975—House Republican leaders reacted to the Jack Abramoff lobbying scandal with a weak package of reforms that does very little to curtail the ability of corporations and wealthy special interests to exert improper influence on the legislative process. Public records show that corporations outspend labor by nearly 50 to 1 in lobbying expenses. The AFL-CIO had urged the House to ban gifts from individuals who have an interest in legislation before Congress, limit lavish congressional trips paid for by lobbyists and prohibit congressional travel on corporate-owned jets. Although the bill temporarily modifies some rules on congressional travel and expands the information that members of Congress and registered lobbyists are required to report, it also contains new restrictions on the ability of workers, consumers and other ordinary Americans to lobby Congress and to participate in grassroots politics. H.R. 4975 passed May 3 on a 217-213 vote. Y=Wrong; N=Right (R:209-20; D:8-192; I:0-1)

    TAX RECONCILIATION/TAX CUTS FOR THE WEALTHY—H.R. 4297—This $70 billion tax cut for the wealthy is the fifth major tax reduction pushed by President Bush; all four benefit the rich far more than working families. Nearly half of the benefits in H.R. 4297 benefit households with income of more than $1 million, and 55 percent of the cuts go to the 3 percent of households with income above $200,000. Contrary to Bush administration claims that the bill benefits middle-income taxpayers, the three-quarters of households with incomes below $75,000 would receive just 5 per cent of the tax benefits, and 68 percent of households would receive no tax benefits at all. The bill passed May 10 on a 244-185 vote. Y=Wrong; N=Right (R:229-2; D:15-182; I:0-1)

    BUDGET RESOLUTION—H. Con. Res. 376—The Bush budget plan for fiscal year 2007 calls for substantial cuts in entitlements like Medicare and Medicaid, and discretionary programs that strengthen and improve jobs, health care and education. But even these proposed cuts are not enough to offset the huge tax cuts called for by the White House. In fact, the budget resolution adds $266 billion to the deficit over the next five years. Specifically, the House plan cuts nondefense discretionary funding over a five-year period by $160 billion below the amount needed to maintain these services at their current levels. These cuts will result in a significant loss of federal support for education, veterans’ medical care, law enforcement, transportation and other services vital to millions of Americans. The resolution passed May 18 by a count of 218-210. Y=Wrong; N=Right (R:218-12; D:0-97; I:0-1)

    ESTATE TAX CUTS—H R. 5638—In 2005, the House voted to permanently repeal the federal estate tax, a tax cut that would cost nearly $1 trillion between 2012 and 2021 but would benefit fewer than the wealthiest 0.5 percent of U.S. families. The media campaign to repeal the estate tax has been bankrolled by 18 wealthy families whose net worth exceeds $185 billion. The Senate rejected the total repeal of the estate tax, but the House tried again with a slightly scaled back version that would exempt estates of less than $5 million for an individual ($10 million for a couple), while reducing taxes on larger estates. The so-called “scaled-back” bill would still cost $774 billion, threatening critical domestic programs that are already being squeezed as a result of earlier Bush tax cuts for investors and wealthy families. The bill passed June 22 on a 269-156 vote. Y=Wrong; N=Right (R:226-2; D:43-153; I:0-1)

    Source: AFL-CIO Committee on Political Education (COPE)

  • (Show?)

    Sorry for the multiple post above. I don't know what happened.

    However, you can see Walden's explanation of what happened on the floor of the House at http://www.oregoncatalyst.com/index.php?/archives/1480-Congressman-Greg-Walden-explains-timber-payment-floor-battle.html#extended

  • stihl (unverified)
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    Mitch,

    you are out to lunch. Under nearly eight years of Bush and six years of Republican control in Congress, we saw increases in public lands logging but no funding of county payments. We didn't see as much logging as Bush, Walden, Smith and the timber industry wanted because they have mainly tried to cut the last stands of old growth and roadless areas, trying to eviscerate the law while doing it. The courts (the third branch of government) haven't taken too kindly to that. The failure to pass any long-term county payments solutions makes it clear that Bush, Walden and Smith don't actually care about rural counties and schools, but would rather score political points with their timber industry campaign contributors by trying to return to ye olde heyday of old growth clearcutting.

    Contrary to your claim, DeFazio does in fact think we should cut trees in Oregon. His plan is to increase thinning in younger stands while protecting the old growth and roadless areas. You can read about Defazio's forest management plans and legislation at www.defazio.house.gov and then by scrolling down and clicking on 'forest management.'

    DeFazio's got solutions and is fighting for the best interests of the people of Oregon. Walden's just dancing on a string as a puppet for the oil and timber industries.

  • pdxatheist (unverified)
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    If Bush and Cheney are planning an attack on Iran before the election then perhaps our so-called representatives might be better talking about that instead of timber payments, important as they may be.

    Off-topic. We've been hearing about the conservative boogie-men launching a surprise pre-emptive war on Iran for years now, and nothing's come of it. This thread deals with an actual issue that is on the table and of concern to Oregonians right now, not a story to scare liberal children with around the campfire.

  • Pinchot (unverified)
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    Hey Mitch, So, where are you going to sell all those logs?

    Demand for engineered wood products has declined due to a slowdown in the housing market. As a result of these challenging market conditions, Weyerhaeuser will discontinue veneer drying operations at its Junction City facility and adjust production internally to meet customer orders. http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0EIN/is_2008_March_3/ai_n24361019

    http://www.missoulian.com/articles/2008/05/19/news/local/znews01.txt Weaknesses in the housing industry directly affected mills tied into construction, such as the stud mill in Bonner. Prices for lumber have dropped to about $239 per thousand board feet, roughly half of what lumber fetched in 2004 and 2005 when the housing market was robust.

    “Industrywide, demand fell off to such a degree that it brought prices down below historical lows and below profitability for many mills,” said Shawn Church, an editor at Random Lengths Publications, which reports on the forest products market from Eugene, Ore. “When downturns persist, companies have to make tough decisions on what they'll do to survive, which facilities fit best and which don't.”

    see also: http://www.mainebiz.biz/daily_stories.html?id=881

    http://www.bclocalnews.com/bc_thompson_nicola/kamloopsthisweek/news/18819629.htm

    That's what happens when you play chicken. sometimes you get in a head-on.

  • Robert Harris (unverified)
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    Just to put into context what Mr. Walden is defending to the detriment of Oregon Counties.

    here

  • (Show?)
    Posted by: DSS | Jun 5, 2008 9:52:52 AM ... This is a concerted effort to force him to choose between chipping away at his base or taking an anti-Oregon vote that will show up on a hit piece later on. And he's pissed because he knows it won't be the last time this happens.

    And this is what pisses me off a little about Wyden and the Dem leadership in the Senate. Why aren't they wrong-footing (i.e. exposing) Smith like this?

  • (Show?)
    Posted by: Jack Roberts | Jun 5, 2008 2:57:25 PM I'm afraid this is much ado about nothing. If the county payments are tied to the fee on oil leases that DeFazio proposes, it probably won't be accepted by the Senate and almost certainly will be vetoed by President Bush even if it is. I think that is Walden's biggest concern.

    You mean it won't get through the Senate because of the GOP in the Senate (Smith... cough cough) and if it does the GOP leader (Bush) will veto it. And exposing who the GOP's base really is (Exxon/Mobil) is a bad thing how exactly?

  • geoffludt (unverified)
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    To Michael Sexton -- It's not the feds fault that the Eco-wackos file suit to stop the logging that got the counties the money.

    This pattern fits the progressive playbook: 1. regulate the value out of an industry. 2. When it breaks, enslave the industry's former employees with a subsidy. 3. Protect the subsidy and thus protect your power base.

    It's evil.

    To Chris Lowe -- the county payments are a victim of the occupation of Iraq

    Have you seen how much $$$ we're spending on entitlement programs? The war is a drop in the bucket to that.

    To Asdger--Defazio connected a tax on big oil to county timber payments after promising he wouldn't do it.

    Honesty is nothing to these people -- remember, most of these folks drive around with bumper stickers proclaiming the President as a Fascist Dictator yet, it's precisely because the President isn't a Fascist Dictator that these folks can slap that sticker on their car. I'd shudder to think of what would have happened to a sticker clad car proclaiming "Hitler -- German Errorist" in Germany, in 1939.

  • anon (unverified)
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    Don't you love how the congressman is sending his trolls to comment on a progressive blog? That requires a serious degree of freaking out.

  • (Show?)

    geoffludt, the occupation of Iraq is unnecessary discretionary spending that is harming the country in a number of ways. Among them is running up the huge Bush deficits. The county payments are a drop in the bucket compared to the costs of the occupation. Having a double standard that allows unoffset discretionary military spending but not domestic spending is stupid.

  • edison (unverified)
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    Heehee. I don't think I've seen this many republican trolls on here in ages. And here's a snippet from Mr. Walden's website: "The failure of Congress to reauthorize the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act amounts to a breach of faith to more than 600 forested counties across America." - Congressman Greg Walden

    The Bushites have consistently attempted to eliminate this program. My personal favorite was when they wanted to sell national forest land (to developers) and fund it at half-rate. That was the proposal from Agriculture Undersecretary and former timber industry lobbyist Mark Rey. Mr. Walden's protestations are lame and disingenuous.

  • pdxatheist (unverified)
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    Have you seen how much $$$ we're spending on entitlement programs? The war is a drop in the bucket to that.

    The 'entitlement programs' (which you will one day rely on if you don't already you big fat hypocrite) aren't responsible for the murder of hundreds of thousands of innocents the way your precious, neo-con adventure in Iraq is.

    Crawl back under your bridge and nurse your wounds troll; in about 5 months the GOP will face a 60-70 seat deficit in the house, your minority in the Senate will be even greater, and President Obama will be in the White House. You're going to have a looooooong time in the wilderness to sit and think about how you got there.

  • pdxatheist (unverified)
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    well, i guess it'll be a little longer than five months before president obama's in the oval office...

  • Mitch (unverified)
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    You can bash Bush and Walden all you want don’t care. The topic is money for counties. The counties get the money from logging, now logging has slowed, we all know that, but where should the money come from, that is what I am frustrated about. Do people from other parts of the country owe Oregon counties money??? Do you really thin that taxing the oil companies to help pay for Oregon counties is a good idea? They will just pass the cost along to you the consumer. Gas is going to be $10.00 a gallon real soon and then we will see this country hurt and hurt bad. What I want to know is…where the money for the counties is supposed to come from, just tell me that. Don’t bash me tell me who should subsidize the counties, should it be a tax or should we attach it to some kind of Federal legislation or what, tell me????

  • dddave (unverified)
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    pdx athiest,

    and in 5 months we will be taxed into prosperity. Unless your guy cuts spending. But then, you dems think unlimitied spending is ok, but just on what you want, right?

  • Mitch (unverified)
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    Oh, and by the way, when gas hits $10.00 a gal, this country will turn on itself. We will see how green people realy are when they are out of work and there's not enough tax dollars to go around. People will take up arms and then things will get messy. Just a hunch, but I bet its a good one. We have not alternative energy right now and its still years away, hold on people its going to get rough...

  • dddave (unverified)
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    Here you go, so you dont have speculate.: Letter from Congressman Walden's Office 6-4-2008 that has come to our attention:

    Dear County Commissioner,

    Over the last several years I can think of no issue I have put more time and energy into solving than reauthorization of the county timber payments program and funding for PILT. Along the way I have voted against my party and voted against my president in support of funding and reauthorizing county timber payments.

    While in the majority in Congress, I made sure to keep this issue bipartisan, rejected ideas that would split the coalition or that were merely designed to embarrass one side or the other. Too much was--and is--at stake.

    When I learned that HR 3058 would, after many months, finally come up for a vote in the House, I was at first elated. But then I learned the unfortunate truth that the promise had been broken to fund the program with something other than the offset in the committee-passed bill. Moreover, with PILT stripped from the bill at the last minute too, the coalition we have all spent enormous time constructing began to unravel.

    In a letter dated Friday, May 30, 2008, Rep. DeFazio wrote to me asking “If you have other suggestions for offsets that won’t raise the ire of oil patch or mineral-dependent members, I would welcome the input.”

    On Monday, June 2, I asked Rep. DeFazio in a phone call to give us time to come up with an alternative offset that could pay for this program—not one that is merely a “placeholder,” which is most likely in violation of contract law. He agreed to postpone consideration of the new version HR 3058 that was finally made available last week when the Congress was in recess. All day yesterday (Tuesday), I worked with legal, budget and technical experts to come up with an alternative offset that does three things: It was approved by the House last Congress (and supported by Rep. DeFazio and other Democrats); it will fund County Timber Payments and PILT; and it creates American-made energy and jobs. I proposed this offset plan to the Secure Rural Schools/County Payments Coalition late yesterday afternoon and they fully embraced it, realizing that this was a real offset that could work not only in the House, but also in the Senate. They eagerly agreed to contact Rep. DeFazio to inform him of their support of this alternative and to ask for time for it to be fully considered in an open discussion process—the way it should be. They provided his office with a copy of the outline of the legislation and alternative offset.

    Unfortunately, the bill has been rushed back on to the House calendar today to be considered under suspension of the rules. A bill considered under suspension of the rules requires a two-thirds vote for approval. Considering the explosive nature of the offset being used and the process to route the bill, I doubt it will receive that level of support. If it fails under suspension of the rules, it can be brought back up for a vote on the floor under a rule. This procedure is not unique and occurs frequently. If it comes up under a rule, we could have the opportunity to offer the offset I’ve proposed as an alternative. If HR 3058 fails today, I can only hope Rep. DeFazio and the majority leadership will give us the chance to bring our new offset solution up under a rule.

    After all of the years of work, I regret that it has come to this. This is our last and best hope to reauthorize and actually fund County Timber Payments (and PILT). Our proposal, if given a chance, would likely even add a partial fifth year payment.

    The version of HR 3058 being considered under suspension of the rules today is a known failure in the Senate (it has been rejected each of the three times this Congress it has been sent over from the House), creates a bitter, partisan divide in the House and most likely violates contract law. I’m willing to vote against my party—as I have. I am willing to vote against my President—as I have. But I am not willing to abrogate contracts as a way to grab money to solve the federal government’s breach of agreement.

    I was raised to right wrongs, to keep my word and to obey the law. I was taught that two wrongs don’t make a right. These are fundamental principles by which I operated my business for over 21 years and have conducted myself in public life. And they are principles I intend to keep in the course of solving this problem.

    Best regards,

    Greg Walden Member of Congress

  • Waldonymous (unverified)
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    That letter doesn't answer the real question: why was Rep. Walden prepared to vote against his constituents in favor of the oil companies? Even if it isn't the ideal funding mechanism from his Republican perspective, is that more important than schools, police, roads, and thousands of jobs?

    DeFazio and other Oregon Democrats supported Walden's rape-the-OCS funding mechanism last Congress, a vote that I'm sure left them wanting to hurl. If they were willing to take a crappy vote on behalf of their state when the Republicans ran the show, why wasn't Walden prepared to do the same?

    I'm with Kari on this one. Walden is staying down on the farm.

  • stihl (unverified)
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    Mitch,

    OK, lets talk money for counties and logging. The writing on the wall with logging slowdowns on federal land happened nearly 20 years ago (spotted owl listed as threatened in 1989, many runs of northwest salmon and steelhead listed as threatened or endangered in 1991). Despite a near shutdown of federal logging in Oregon in 1991-93, logging levels in the NW stayed relatively stable as private timber companies boosted logging on their own lands. Since 1994, logging levels on federal lands have mostly been creeping up as a result of the Clinton Northwest Forest Plan, and Bush administration tampering to squeeze out more big trees, but because so many species were (and are still) on the brink of extinction to due to unsustainable and poorly planned logging from the 1950's to the late 1980's, logging levels have rightly never approached the unsustainable highs of the Reagan years. And they never will again.

    The first county payments to substitute for the logging declines of the early 1990's came in 1994 with the Northwest Forest Plan. Then they were reauthorized for six years in 1998 when the country was in better economic shape and not pouring money into foreign wars (wars of choice, not necessity, btw). The point here is that the federal govt. owns a huge percentage of land in many Oregon counties, and as a result there aren't a lot of ways for some of these counties to raise revenue, especially with Bill Sizemore's measures that have tied county hands on taxation. There should be some 'payments in lieu of taxes' the feds owe to counties, but continuing to seek federal logging increases (particularly from old growth and roadless areas) to get this money is pure foolishness. Trees grow slowly, and we're still reeling from the Reagen excesses and most federal forest in Oregon are still very young and damaged from past logging and roadbuilding. Since the mid-2000's the Bush administration has abandoned serious attempts reauthorize county payments, putting forward ridiculous land sell-off proposals that even Larry Craig opposed, and arctic and continental shelf drilling schemes which are extremely politically unviable.

    At this point, the biggest factor affecting federal lands logging is the piss-poor housing market and the economy. There's hardly any demand for lumber right now, and it would be unwise to sell federal timber at fire-sale prices in a down market. Even companies that don't cut any trees on federal land (like Weyerhaueser) are idling shifts, closing manufacturing plants, and laying people off.

    This once again illustrates that its simply unwise to hitch county budgets to the boom-bust cycle of federal logging levels, which can fluctuate wildly every couple of years due to the condition of the economy, international economic forces, and public demand for greater public lands protection after decades of public lands mismanagement.

    If you do want to try to hitch county budgets to logging levels, then how about a revolutionary idea of taxing private industrial timberland owners for land they own in rural counties, or requiring that they distribute a share of their logging revenues to the counties where they cut their trees. The private companies in Oregon are cutting something like five times what is being cut on federal land. However, under Republican leadership in the legislature for nearly 16 years, private industrial timber companies saw their taxes go down. You'd still have the boom-bust problem, but at least the timber industry titans would have to pay their fair share, if the feds won't.

  • Steve Bucknum (unverified)
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    While I live in a "timber" county, having the Federal Government pay us for the timber extracted isn't my highest priority.

    PILT is.

    Fair is fair. I have to pay property taxes on my 2.5 acres. Shouldn't the Federal Government pay property taxes on its 960,000 or so acres in my County? Even at the Exclusive Farm Use/Forest Use deferral rate that would come out to about $10 per acre, that would be about $9.6 million if that same property were in private hands and taxed like we tax private parties.

    In other words - Just in Crook County alone, we subsidize the Federal Government about $10 million by not having a fair property tax from those lands. That tax would go in part to the State for the school part of the property tax, and in part to the County.

    I am continually surprised that the urban parts of Oregon don't get this issue. Payment in lieu of Taxes (PILT) is a fairness issue that affects every person in Oregon, and is directly related to the property tax paid in places like Multnomah County, Lane County, Marion County and 33 others.

    So, Mitch - how do you like paying unfairly high property taxes, subsidizing other States, because Greg Walden tubed this bill? How to you like having the oil companies get their subsidy, because you are paying unfair taxes?

    When you connect the dots - here in Oregon, we are paying via our property taxes another subsidy that in turn is paid by the Federal government to the likes of the oil companies.

    Oh, and lets take these figures Statewide. The Federal Goverment owns about 28.8 million acres of Oregon, and at $10 per acre for fair property tax, that would put a little over a quarter of a Billion into the State and County budgets if a fair tax were paid.

  • mitch (unverified)
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    <h2>Ok, if the fed’s need to pay taxes on their property then I think all government agencies should pay taxes on their property. That means every state building, every county building, every public grade school, Jr. High school and High school, and Every college that is state run. I live in a small town and the grade school and high school take up a substantial amount of land inside the city limits. The city does not get revenue for this land. What percentage of land does the state own, school districts own and colleges own?</h2>

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