Tax Dollars Support Flashmob Lobbying for Film Subsidies Scheme

Chuck Sheketoff

Today I received an email from Oregon Film and Video Office executive director Vince Porter (PDF) inviting me to join with “200 committed, industry members or affiliates to be part of a flashmob type celebration at the [state] Capitol building in Salem on March 15th.”

This “idiot child of the instant communication age" will include T-shirts and unspecified “giveaways,” and the state agency is supplying “busses to transport flashmobbers to Salem.”

This may be the first state agency financed flashmob lobbying effort in Oregon.

Why the hullabaloo with your tax dollars?

Because the Office of Film and Video’s source of subsidy funds – the sale of tax credits that have a guaranteed profit of 5 to 11 percent for the fortunate purchasers – is Reel Inefficiency and they know the legislature is scouring the budget for inefficient and ineffective programs.

Oregon Center for Public PolicyChuck Sheketoff is the executive director of the Oregon Center for Public Policy. You can sign up to receive email notification of OCPP materials at

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    Chuck, Thanks for the alert here about this mind-boggling abuse of state funds in service to private lobbyists. Also, if the letters in a recent issue of W Week are any indication, be prepared for a deluge of comments accusing you of opposing the film subsidy itself, instead of the manner of the subsidy that you describe, which provides a huge taxpayer handout to rich investors.

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    I want to make one point clear from that email I sent out today. We are not using any Oregon Tax Dollars on a flash mob effort in Salem. We simply wanted to let those who follow our newsletter know that this was happening.

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    You used government computers and a government supported website and government paid time to send out the email and market the event (if not also help set it up), and you wrote "We’ll supply the busses to transport flashmobbers to Salem."

    Who is the "we" if not you and the Film and Video Office? Who is the "we" when you write "we need" people to come to Salem?

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      And Vince, I know that technically your office gets Lottery Funds, not General Fund dollars, but you know as well as I that for all practicable purposes they are fungible -- that's why budgeteers refer to the General Fund and Lottery Budget and taxpayers refer to them as tax dollars.

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    Good catch on the transportation. That was not stated well. The film and video office will not pay for any bus transportation. If the transportation isn't donated or paid for by private money, then there won't be any transportation provided for this effort.

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    For the record, a "flash mob" is called that because it happens "in a flash" -- not organized nearly a month in advance.

    This is a "lobby day" which is, to be sure, way less sexy than "flash mob". But that's what it is.

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        Which I think, Vince, helps sharpen Chuck's point that you've got a state agency organizing a lobby day.

        Now, I'm of two minds on the matter - support film/video promotion, oppose the absurd and wasteful tax credit giveaway - but it's nonsense like this that makes it harder to be supportive.

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      I'm pretty sure, Kari, that the term "flash mob" has been extended to embrace very well-planned, well-rehearsed and, on occasion, well-choreographed events that gain their "flash" credibility from the fact that they are surprises to the "hosts" of the events and the bystanders who observe them.

      Observing you to be a language purist of sorts, I'm not surprised that you'd prefer to use the older and more accurate definition but time (and standards) do change.

      That said... this event is still clearly not a flash mob and is a Lobby Day- for a cause that has yet to provide any solid Return on Investment data.

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        Larry's correct on all points -- flash mobs can be rehearsed, but they are conducted as surprises, while this one's been telegraphed to the world. And it is a lobby day, promoted by a government employee on government time with government-owned technology. And he's also correct about ROI -- unlike an investment in a solar manufacturing facility that has multi-year payoff in jobs with one subsidy payment, the film subsidy is merely annually propping up/subsidizing the same folks who according to Vince Porter are addicted to the state subsidy. According to Porter they'd leave without the subsidy -- and of course entities like Leverage would leave if the whims of the 18-35 year old TV viewing audience changed (hardly a whim we should be betting Oregon's economic future on).

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          FWIW, I think Leverage is a pretty good show! (Though I'd like to see 'em get back to Robin Hood-ing rich guys and corporations that do bad things to nice people, as in the first season - rather than going after mobsters and con artists. Part of the appeal of Leverage was political.)

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      thanks for saying that, Kari; i was about to. it's from the same line of idiotthink that plans viral videos. good luck on that.

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    I have nothing to add except the observation that this was a very entertaining read--including the comments.

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    Vince Porter claims no state dollars are funding their lobbying effort -- well, as noted in this copy of log from the Capitol, it is the Oregon Film Office that reserved the steps for 3 p.m. on March 15. I've never heard of a state agency doing that before.

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    Who is this Vince Porter guy anyways? In fact, Chuck, why do you have so much beef with him.......?

    It seems to me that the more $$$ brought in from TV and movies filmed in Oregon the more tax dollar for other things... after 20 years in the entertainment industry and now in sports marketing, I know the value that huge conglomerates or film companies can bring to an area.... In fact just the other day I was up the river at Multnomah Falls and the amount of people that I spoke to who were there on a tour of the Twilight locations was STAGGERING....

    So while i see your point, mine would be that not only does the state get a big tax buck from filming things here but also a knock on in tourism from said filming... this also translates to small businesses, gas stations etc etc.... how can this be a bad thing? So this guy used a government computer to raise awareness (most people have to use one to work)... big whoop... I would hate to what see what most people use their computers for! At least this guy ?Vince? is using it to raise awareness in OR... better than not right?

    Last time I checked it cost nothing to reserve steps, unless it was my (failed) steps class at the gym.. I must lose weight

    Just my 2 cents.

    Barry Bethell

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