M75: Wood Village Casino campaign moves forward

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

"...seventy percent of the entertainment complex will provide non-gaming amenities including a movie theater complex, a large hall for concerts and conventions, a resort hotel, bowling lanes, and indoor and outdoor water parks."

If approved, Measure 75 would authorize Oregon's first privately-owned and tax-paying casino - on the site of the old Multnomah Greyhound Park in east Multnomah County.

In addition to property, income, and hotel taxes, the casino would pay a tax of 25% on all gambling revenue (not profits) that, supporters estimate, would generate some $150 million a year for schools and local governments statewide.

Sponsors of the measure had sought to also place on the ballot a constitutional amendment that would make it absolutely crystal-clear that the casino authorization, regulatory system, and tax structure was exempt from the constitional prohibition on casinos. The sponsors fell short of the required signatures for that measure.

However, Measure 75 proponents have now argued that the constitutional amendment is unnecessary - and they have a legal opinion from Greg Chaimov on that score. Chaimov, you see, spent years as the top lawyer for the legislature.

Here's Chaimov's argument:

At issue is Article XV, section 4(12) of the Oregon Constitution that was added when the voters authorized the Oregon Lottery and Tribal Casinos: “The Legislative Assembly has no power to authorize, and shall prohibit, casinos from operation in the State of Oregon.”

Greg Chaimov, attorney at Davis, Wright, Tremaine and former chief counsel to the Oregon Legislature, said, “the prohibition authorizing casinos and the requirement to ban casinos applies to the Legislative Assembly, not to the people.” Chaimov continues, “Ballot Measure 75 will become law if the people vote in favor on November 2.”

Of course, for the project to move forward, they'll need to win on Measure 75 -- and on a companion local measure in Wood Village. (If the local folks don't support it, Measure 75 will be moot.)

On Thursday, they'll kick off the statewide "Good for Oregon" campaign in Wood Village by releasing artist's renderings of what the casino complex will look like.

“Voters deserve to know this entertainment complex is much more than just a casino; it will be a fun destination for Oregonians and tourists alike,” said [campaign strategist Roger] Gray. “With the community’s input, seventy percent of the entertainment complex will provide non-gaming amenities including a movie theater complex, a large hall for concerts and conventions, a resort hotel, bowling lanes, and indoor and outdoor water parks.

Willamette Week has the rest of the sponsors' press release. There's more at the Portland Tribune, the Daily Journal of Commerce, the Oregonian, the Portland Business Journal, OPB, the Statesman-Journal, Jeff Lehman's blog, and David Steves's blog.

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    In general, I agree with my friends in the United Methodist Church, who say:

    Gambling is a menace to society, deadly to the best interests of moral, social, economic, and spiritual life, and destructive of good government. As an act of faith and concern, Christians should abstain from gambling and should strive to minister to those victimized by the practice... 
    The Church should promote standards and personal lifestyles that would make unnecessary and undesirable the resort to commercial gambling—including public lotteries—as a recreation, as an escape, or as a means of producing public revenue or funds for support of charities or government.

    It is obvious that gambling is directed and those living in or near poverty.  Relying on funding from gambling for local government allows us to escape the reality that our tax system is unfair and in need of real reform - not cosmetic fixes that tax those who can afford it the least.

    Though I'll freely admit that I buy a lottery ticket about once a year.  

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    It is obvious that gambling is directed [at] those living in or near poverty.

    I think that's certainly true of video poker, and if you were proposing getting rid of video poker in every dive bar in town, well, I think I could support that.

    But I'm not sure the same is true of a destination entertainment center, resort, and hotel.

    We'll see on Thursday when they release the architectural concept and plans, but from what I've heard, the proponents are talking about a project that would generate substantial traffic from out-of-state (and even international) tourism.

    As you know, I agree with you wholeheartedly about the need for tax reform, but if there are folks who want to invest $200 million in a building project with zero tax subsidies -- and then provide a couple thousand long-term family-wage union jobs, well, that sounds pretty attractive given the economic and budget mess we're in.

    Should we have a better tax system? Yup. Should we wait around for someone to build the political capacity to pass such a system? I don't think we have the luxury...

    This isn't a complete or perfect solution to all that ails Oregon, but it's one solution -- and I'm coming around to the idea that we gotta do something.

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        They aren't promising union jobs.

        I'm not a labor lawyer, but it's my understanding that under the National Labor Relations Act, employers are prohibited from requiring membership in a union. So, no, they can't "promise" that. Forming a union is up to the workers themselves.

        That said, I've also heard (admittedly, second-hand) that the sponsors of this measure have said that they won't oppose an effort to organize their workers.

        It's also worth noting that almost all non-tribal casino employees are unionized in this country.

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        "These people aren't spending their millions to get the opportunity to bolster the local economy. They are doing that because they think it will pay off FOR THEM. Casinos are by their nature extractive. They gather up money and ship it off to the investors. "

        That's pretty much the case with any business owned primarily by out-of-state investors.

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            That is the same for every corporation. The sole and exclusive purpose of any corp is to produce profit for the shareholders. Every other aspect of the corp's activities is means, not objective.

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                The basic argument is no different than any other corp pitching it's economic benefits, real or hyped. The only reason casinos are different is that they are targeted in the state Constitution for exclusion.

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                  The situation is different. Intel wouldn't be promising the rest of the state monies in order to build there. The Casino development is. And even if you took the casino out of the development, I'd still be opposed. It's not the right location for a complex of that size.

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                    First, large corps tout their contribution to (state) income tax all the time.

                    Second, they also tout contributions to (local) property taxes all the time.

                    If we had a constitutional ban on manufacturing computer components, then yes they would make state-level arguments more aggressively.

                    The issue is not the casino, it's the constitutional ban on one industry.

                    Remove the ban, then let each county make its own decisions about land use and traffic flow issues.

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                        Only when Portland (and their reps) quit voting on things outside their corner of the state.

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                        Oh, so every county should have decision making power over land use? Does that mean you were against what the state and Portland democrats did to the Metolius?

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                          I think that trying to compare protecting a natural habitat that many people travel to enjoy and building a casino in an already over-burdened area is mixing apples and oranges a bit.

                          However, to answer your question--I don't think Portland Democrats--or Pendleton Democrats or Coos Bay Democrats or anyone of any party that doesn't live in that area should be allowed to cast a vote on what happens in that area. And forgive me if I'm wrong, but I don't recall the situation with the Metolius being on a ballot for every Oregon citizen to vote upon. I certainly don't recall having voted upon it and I will tell you and anyone reading right now that I personally will never vote on what should happen with any particular privately owned land unless I live or work in the area in question and thus will find my community directly impacted by such development. Yes, I believe in local rights. I protested to help keep a Wal-Mart out of Gresham and I would have been royally pissed if the rest of the state got to vote it into existence.

                          There seems to be a bit of "damn Portland Demcrats have meddled with us, so now we'll vote against their wishes on this casino thing" going around. For the record, the area we're talking about in East County is NOT Portland and East County regularly has to fight Portland to get it's share of resources. And revenge is not a rational basis for voting anyway. You're smarter than that, Kurt.

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      Chaimov's argument looks solid to me; the current language bars the Legislature, specifically, from certain acts. Oregon has a long history of allowing the people, by initiative, to do what the Legislature can not.

      That the proponents would have preferred a clean win with a Constitutional amendment makes sense; they will obviously have a challenge on this interpretation.

      I'd support a Constitutional amendment on your point about Local control. Let each County set it's own rules about casinos. What I don't like is the current dual monopoly system: tribes only for casinos and state-run only for "video poker" casinos in each bar and tavern.

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      Voting on whether a private casino should be placed in Wood Village should be voted upon only by Multnomah County residents.

      There is a separate measure in Wood Village. By law in Oregon, the local community has the right to vote up or down. If the residents of Wood Village reject the casino, it doesn't matter what voters statewide do.

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        But Wood Village doesn't exist in a vacuumn. Fairview is across the street from the proposed casino site. Gresham and Troutdale residents will also be immediately impacted by the traffic, affect on property values and affect on crime. This should be voted upon by those who will be personally affected by it. If we were talking about somewhere that had miles between it and the next town or city, fine. Let them only vote on it. But they're not. Wood Village is cheek to cheek with three other cities out here and they deserve a say as well.

        Do you think that Pendleton and Medford and Baker City should be able to determine if a casino can be placed in Wood Village? I don't and I don't think they'd appreciate Portland telling them that they have to have a casino in their cities either.

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          Wood Village is cheek to cheek with three other cities out here and they deserve a say as well.

          Fair enough. But that's not what state law says.

          Do you think that Pendleton and Medford and Baker City should be able to determine if a casino can be placed in Wood Village?

          Same story. It's a state law. To change it, the residents of the state have to vote.

          The proponents are engaging in the process that's been set out by the Oregon Constitution and in statute -- pass it statewide and pass it in the town where it'd be located.

          We may not like the process, but that's the process. Everyone's gotta play by the rules as they are.

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            I understand that, Kari. What I'm asking is that those who do not live in and will not be directly impacted by the possible problems this casino will bring to take into consideration the wishes of those who do live out here.

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    Things like movie theaters, bowling alleys, water parks, casinos, etc. are unlikely to increase business or jobs overall - but rather replace other entertainment dollars and jobs (money being spent going to other theaters, baseball games, etc.)

    One has to provide evidence that either (a) more people will come to Oregon as tourists to spend dollars here; or (b) Oregonians will save less and spend more (which has other implications). I suppose one could also argue that money spent at the casino will have a larger multiplier effect than money spent elsewhere (i.e. more of it will be recirculated into the local economy, rather than taken out of state).

    My guess is that the evidence will have to surround (a) - the idea that such a destination will pull people here from out of state. Right now, I'm agnostic on that question.

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      Or, that private non-tribal casinos can be taxed at a level which would provide a net benefit to the state budget.

      As an example, the current proposal had a 25% tax on gross gambling revenue. You're not likely to see that in other industries.

      Or, set the rate lower but have a higher wage requirement for jobs in that industry.

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        Their website has all sorts of claims about "good for jobs" that I just don't buy - they'll rob Peter to pay Paul.

        But yes, thanks for redrawing my attention to the 25% contribution - on "Adjusted Gross Revenue." Seems as though we'd end up decreasing money to tribes and giving more than that amount to state and local governments (while also giving East County traffic nightmares and localized pollution).

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          I question all corporate claims about being "good for jobs". That's not unique to casinos.

          And any operation which has a concentration of employees (jobs) and customers means traffic problems.

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    I'm of many minds on these issues.

    I'd prefer to live in a state with no gambling. That's not what we have, as the Albany Democrat Herald put it:

    "As long as the federal government allows gambling on tribal lands, as long as the state promotes the heck out of gambling with video poker and the other lottery games, and as long as there’s a keno screen in every restaurant, the ban on casinos just seems so laughable and hypocritical that it ought to be scrapped."

    So I might have voted for the constitutional amendment had it made the ballot.

    If we are going to have casinos, I'd prefer that they be in urban areas, not where they are now.

    But I not sold on on the measure to authorize just one and limit the location to Wood Village.

    Maybe this a another way we could recycle Memorial Colesium?

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      I'm curious, though, what the legal implications are regarding the State's contracts with the Tribes.

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        Hmmm, long ago, I studied the Indian Gaming Regulatory Act extensively.

        The shorthand is this: Any particular game that is authorized in the state for any purpose is authorized to the tribes in that state.

        In other words, when the state allowed charity bingo, that authorized profitable bingo gambling for the tribes. When the state allowed video poker machines owned by the state - that allowed slot machines for the tribes (under a legal ruling that said there was no legal distinction between video poker and slots.)

        In Oregon, table games and slots are allowed already for the tribes. The only thing that's out is sports book -- and that's specifically prohibited by Measure 75.

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    The libertarian streak in me has no problem with legalized gambling. But I am extremely disturbed by our over reliance on gambling as a source of revenue for state functions. Considering that gambling revenue primarily comes from the people who can least afford it, what this kind of system essentially does is tie the fortunes of the larger part of the state to the fortunes of those in the most dire situation. If they are doing poorly, the state does poorly. If the state does poorly, than we all do poorly. Especially during economic hard times.

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      But the "pot sweeteners" these investors have put into this proposal are just inducements. The house always wins. In the case of the lottery, at least the State is the house, excessive video poker commissions notwithstanding. In this case the State is not the house. Again, the house always wins, and nobody in this game is the house except the private investors who will take home the profits. As far as they are concerned, everything else is a cost, and they will design and implement the whole thing to minimize costs.

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        Which is why a tax (or a "license fee") for casinos, calculated as a percentage of gross gambling revenue, puts the sate in a "can't lose" situation (assuming the % is high enough to produce net benefit).

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        "...and they will design and implement the whole thing to minimize costs."

        And the biggest cost will happen if state voters decide in the future to outlaw it.

        They'll do what they need to do to maintain public support.

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    Gambling casinos are organized theft, organized and legalized crime. Period

    Gambling produces no useful product. It ruins lives.

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      No, it isn't and doesn't.

      I play the lottery frequently, and visit a casino occasionally. It's voluntary, and I have a precise understanding of the odds of winning and how much I can afford to lose. I have not been robbed nor has it ruined my life.

      That some people abuse gambling makes it similar to fast food. Safe in modest doses, harmful if abused.

      The argument for banning everything which might be harmful if abused is not consistent with a broad acceptance of personal freedoms.

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      So don't go. Don't participate.

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    If the proponents did not believe that a constitutional amendment were necessary, they would not have spent millions on a signature gathering campaign to put the constitutional measure on the ballot.

    Why wouldn't you spend $35k on a lawyer to say that black is white and night is day when the alternative is burning $2.2 million qualifying a measure that would otherwise be meaningless?

    What surprises shocks me is that the measure didn't qualify given how much they spent gathering signatures. $2.2 million in organizational money spent to qualify 2 ballot measures and they only qualified 1?


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      I disagree. Setting aside the "new opinion" issue, no one can say for certain how a court will rule on the underlying issue. Had they gotten the Amendment on the ballot, and won, the issue would be settled.

      Given the need to place at least one measure on the ballot, the incremental cost for two is minimal.

      Passing a clean win, spending the money on the enabling initiative and then risking a loss in the courts would have been foolish. If there is one thing casino operators know it's how to figure the odds of winning.

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        Bob, the proponents of this casino are on record in previous election cycles as saying that a Constitutional Amendment is needed. Casting this as anything other than a gambit is revisionism, plain and simple.

        As to the marginal cost of carrying 2 versus 1 petitions... My company collected 86,000 signatures and played a role in collecting 225,000 signatures in 2006.

        I can tell you from experience that the marginal cost for 2 petitions is lower, but it is not, as you suggest, "minimal". In this case, I'm guessing that they paid at least 60-70 percent more to carry 2 measures.

        In this case, the proponents spent $2.2 million on the campaign during the signature gathering phase, which is about 5x what the open primary spent to accomplish the same task: Put 1 statutory measure on the ballot.

        I agree that spending $36k to have a chance at ensuring that a $2.2 million effort was not wasted is a good move. I never suggested otherwise, only that the bravado of the campaign about the strength of their legal arguments has more to do with posturing than anything else.

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          I don't disagree with your final conclusion, only with the implication that it's in any way surprising.

          I do, however, think they really do have a decent chance of winning this in the courts. The measure will be voted on long before the Appeals Court, let alone the state Supreme Court gets it. The SC will have a difficult time extending the clear ban on the Legislature taking action to include initiatives if it passes, and the case is moot if it does not.

          Were I they, however, I would also have run the amendment campaign, hoping to avoid the risk of a trial and appeals.

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          Sorry, additional point: "minimal" in this case is relative to the profit potential of winning.

          Assume the increment was from 1 mil to two mil (roughly). Is doubling the odds of winning worth an extra 1 mil, with 1 mil already bet? Considering the gain at issue and the cash they have to bet with?

          Not a doubt about it.

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    the measure will certainly face legal challenges if it passes.

    If built with private $$ it will not be union labor or even Davis-Bacon wages, but very good wages nontheless. Running it will be up to the employees and managment team to decide union status.

    For those crying about the rest of the state voting, tough. There may be many cynical "yes" votes; payback for Portland dictates regarding logging, wolves, cougars and other rural issues.

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        Have you ever been to the site in question?

        Yes. I have a two year old who refuses to nap. On the weekends, I often put him in the car and drive him to sleep. While it's not the most effective use of fossil fuels, it works - and I've been exploring parts of the region I don't often get to.

        A few weeks ago, I headed out to the site of the old MGP. A chain was down on the parking lot entrance, so I pulled in and drove all around it. (Here's a Google map and satellite photo.)

        It's a run-down disaster of a building. It's an eyesore, and I wouldn't be surprised if they find some environmental remediation that's required.

        Right now, it's just sitting there - rotting away, with police coming in to do rubber-bullet drills now and again.

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          I agree that something should be built there. But a mega-complex will create problems throughout the area. The fact that it's the only thing being offered right now doesn't mean we should accept it. The building has stood empty for years--a few more isn't going to harm the area. Keep the status quo until a more appropriate idea can be brought forth.

          The irony, for me, is that I would've been more open to the original idea of having just a casino in that spot or an arts center or a theatre. But not the behemoth they are trying to sell now. I'm asking Blue Oregon readers to vote NO on Measure 75.

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    On the bright side think of all the infrastructure (water, sewer, utility, etc) wor that will get done for your area. Not to mention the beefed up police and fire.

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      The developers say the existing water/sewer/utility that are there now will suffice for their project. They plan to hire private security so as not to tax the police or fire services already in place.

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      Sure. But the better measure, from a policy perspective, would be a repeal of the ban entirely and local control.

      That would have had a significantly lower chance of winning, however.

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      And when we ask the developer about that in our meeting, he said that they weren't stopping anyone else from coming behind them and doing the same thing...getting an exemption specifically for their one pet project. Nice.

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      Carla, would you have preferred a measure that allows any private operator that can get the financing to open a casino - anywhere they want in Oregon?

      I actually prefer keeping it limited. I think a single casino may make sense, but becoming Las Vegas doesn't.

      That said, the one-casino rule basically means that the voters of this state will have the ability to add a second casino if and when they want to do that.

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          While it's common practice for business entities to advocate for their own interests via lobbying, skipping that problematic Legislature and getting Oregon voters to sign on to this ugly business/Government contract is a horrendous way to govern.

          If you're arguing that we should reform the ballot measure system, I'm right there with you. Even wrote my thesis in college on the topic.

          But it's on the ballot, so ballot measure reform isn't the question. (Unless you're arguing that ballot measure reform proponents should simply vote no on everything - which is a reasonable enough position.)

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            Doesn't voting for something that circumvents the process in the way KC described amount to approval of that process?

            In other words, in your mind, do the ends--the building of a mega-complex in East County--justify the means---the gamemanship the developers have been and are playing in order to accomplish the goal?

            Yes, what they are doing is legal (perhaps, we'll have to wait for the appeals to play out) but it is ethical to game the Constitution this way? Do you support their methods?

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              I guess I don't see it as gamesmanship - or anything improper.

              We have a ballot measure system. Folks are allowed to propose measures to the voters. So, they're going to propose a ballot measure.

              The constitution prohibits casinos unless the people vote on 'em statewide. So, they're going to ask for a vote statewide.

              State law requires a second vote in the host city. So, they're going to ask for a vote there, too.

              The sponsors want to build a single casino. I'm sure they've got reams of data that demonstrates that Oregonians are open to one casino, but not dozens of them. So, they're asking for one and only one casino; and future casino proponents would have to ask for another vote at that time. (And let's not pretend it's a "monopoly", this state has lots of casinos -- just ones that don't pay taxes and aren't regulated by the state.)

              Reasonable people can disagree about the policy choice here - but I don't think there's anything about the process that's been untoward.

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    Ideology aside, if there hadn't been a coalition of tribes with their beaks already in the revenue stream with enviros opposing any building in the Gorge, this conversation would be moot. These private guys would have had little incentive to try an even less chance at succeeding at the ballot box.

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    "The Legislative Assembly has no power to authorize, and shall prohibit, casinos from operation in the State of Oregon."

    Okay, this is a really shallow analysis, but based on the plain language, the constitution requires the legislature to prohibit casinos from operating in this state. No exceptions; if they have the power to prohibit a casino from operating, they have to do it. They can't just look the other way because a statewide popular vote said "okay" to a particular casino -- unless the voters amend the constitution to modify or eliminate that mandate.

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    Great debate! I have a problem with looking at the lottery as an example of good policy though. It can hardly be progressive to tax ignorance.

    Re: most all American casino workers are unionized... I guess you could point to a herd of elk in a defensive circle being harassed by wolves as "solidarity in numbers" too. It doesn't mean that they're good jobs. Las Vegas is a great example. Everyone is in a union. To what end? The casinos are careful to do all their business in Clarke county, and the judges are bought and paid for. I had a client once that he been denied a job at a major casino there because the HR department had made an error doing the criminal background check. They refused to reconsider and acknowledge their mistake. Despite the demonstrable negligence and effect on the client, the Clarke county courts rejected the tort out of hand. The only torts that get due process there are cases where the casinos violate what they've agreed to do.

    One can argue that a lot of the unions that represent casino workers are just a stealth management technique, benefiting the casinos.

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    Mel Harmon, for some reason My computer is unable to link to responses directly today. thank you for your thoughtful, reasoned response. Mt question about the Metolius was pointed and specific. You answered it clearly. You are on of the first, and few, progressives on this site to steadfastly declare that centralized land use planning is not right. I agree and apologize for bringing up the Metolius.

    Land use decisions for privately owned land should be the decision of the local governed and government. I agree. If y'all want to keep out a Wal-Mart go for it. If you don't want a bunch of strip clubs or used car lots, I agree. I also agree in principle that citing this entertainment complex in your area is not a grand idea. I'm generally in favor of Casinos, espcially since this one would drain money from tribal back to state coffers.

    It sucks though, doesn't it for the rest of the state to decide what is best for the state while making just one geographic region deal with the consequences. That was the nexis of my Portland democrat statements. I'm truly sorry for your predicamint and will weigh heavily before I vote. as of now I'll remain undecided.

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      It sucks though, doesn't it for the rest of the state to decide what is best for the state while making just one geographic region deal with the consequences.

      Uh, no, it doesn't. If Washington County wants (as Carla's reporting has so clearly established) to do everything they can to encourage sprawl and auto-centric development, that messes things up, not only for the region, or the state, but for the entire planet!! If a county decides to have a free-for-all land-(mis)use system, how long before the short-term economic pressure causes lots of other counties to jump on the bandwagon, and pretty soon Oregon looks like Florida? By the time enough people figure out that's not a good thing, the damage has been done.

      There are countless examples of local lovey-dovies between city or county planning staff and their professional "colleagues" working for developers, where ridiculous ideas are rubber-stamped over the objections of residents. Fortunately, the one-step-removed professionals at LCDC sometimes have their heads screwed on straight enough to tell the kissing couple to knock it off, but unfortunately that can only happen after local residents have had to foot the bill (to the tune of tens of thousands of dollars) just to get their local government to follow the law.

      What sucks is when a small number of people can wreck a significant resource for the rest of us. That's not democracy, that's highway robbery.

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      Thanks Kurt, I appreciate that. Since we now link through Facebook, you know how to find me if you want to ask my opinion on anything pertaining to this issue.

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    Jay, if our centralized administrative land use cabal is so wonderful, why haven't ANY other states adopted Oregon's nirvana?

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      Because we are leading the nation in this area, and because the development industry is very powerful, with a lot of money, and often enters into an unholy alliance with local jurisdictions (more tax revenue for you, boat-loads of profits for us) where the only losers are the citizens themselves.

      Besides, have you BEEN to any other states, lately? Century-old farms producing locally grown food put out of business by strip malls? Subdivisions 100 miles away from the urban areas they are meant to serve? Vehicle-miles traveled per capita (and thus greenhouse gas emissions) going up and up every year?

      And, please, "cabal"? All they do is enforce the law, free of the corrupting influence of local tax dollar calculations. Don't like the law? Change it. But don't call law enforcement names. Is the Oregon Supreme Court a "cabal"?


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        I have read through most of the commentary on this post and I feel compelled to way in on local control.

        I teach science. This term I'm teaching a course in Biogeography of the pacific northwest. Part of the course examines the challenges of conservation/preservation or restoration of natural resources in the face of increasing human population and climate change. Students quickly realize that land is a finite resource and how humans choose to manage it directly affects what happens to landscapes that they love. They also realize that political boundaries may have no scientific meaning when it comes to managing resources for the long term, but they matter more! Just take a look at a satellite view of Hispaniola which is home to the Dominican Republic on one half and Haiti on the other and ask yourself which side you'd rather live on!

        We have an economic system that rewards development and exploitation of resources. When economic times are "good" and people aren't hurting, then local control may place a higher value on resource conservation and think long-term. But when times are tough (as they are now) that's when local control often means that short term gains are placed first and conservation is simply a luxury they can't afford - at least if they want to put food on their tables. Tough times make it easier for monied interests to come in and "buy" the votes of local officials with promises of jobs. And I can't blame those local officials that side with development, because after all they want to keep their power and their community needs/ wants jobs. It takes a lot less money to buy out the locals than it does a whole state or nation.

        What I'm coming to is that as long as we have an economic system that views land as a commodity like any other, then for those of us who think of it differently - as a non-renewable resource whose ecological and psychological benefits may outweigh any economic consideration, then we should be chary of championing local control as a way to save land from asphalt or casinos for that matter.

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    Lets see,they make up their own administrative rules and call it "law". They then sit in administrative review of their own "laws" wthout explaining the interpretations of their rules, erh laws. The only appeal is a hand picked judiciary that also answers to no other entity.

    Yep, I'd say "cabal' is an apt moniker. And I never confused any of this with true law enforcement.

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      Funny, because what you just described sounds exactly like the plans by well-heeled developers being rubber-stamped by their pals at the local "planning" office, who then turn around and chide citizens who dare to object for not understanding what "issues" are and are not "legitimate" reasons for opposing whatever's been proposed. "Leave it to the professionals" is the not at all hidden meaning.

      Only, if the citizens actually can pony up the $25,000 it takes to appeal, turns out the proposal had more legal holes in it than rotten swiss cheese.

      If that's a "cabal," I'll take it over a dictatorship by developers any day. Besides, look at the results. I don't want Oregon to look any more like San Diego or Phoenix or Florida than it already does. Do you?

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    No Jay, what I described was the Bend UGB process to date. Even replete with a former candidate for atty general sitting on the panel AND opining in the Oregonian.

    If certain areas of Oregon want to run the risk of ending up looking like San Diego or Phoenix or Florida then they should have the freedom to do so. They could also just as easily end up looking like some wonderful areas in the Carolinas and northern California. Your boogey-man doesn't scare me. Your utopian top down, centralized planning does.

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