MEDIA WATCH: More Backwards Priorities from the Oregonian

As you probably know, we’ve spent years watchdogging the Oregonian Editorial Board and exposing their agenda of tax cuts for big corporations and the wealthy, budget cuts for the things that matter, and decimation of worker protections. When they weigh in on matters of the economy, it’s to cheerlead for policies that would benefit those at the very top by making things worse for everyone else.

Over the weekend, they published an editorial that’s a tad more subtle than usual, but nevertheless pushes an agenda completely at odds with making Oregon’s economy work for everyone. This time, they’re cloaking their agenda in the guise of “small business.”

First, a bit of background: The Oregon Employment Department recently put out a report explaining why Oregon has income rates lower than the rest of the country. The short answer, according to the Employment Department, is that we have a ton of people moving here, willing to work for less as a tradeoff for living in the splendor that is the Beaver State. There are also more part-time workers and more self-employed people. In short, there’s little reason for employers to pay more.

Among people who are “self-employed” (or are “entrepreneurs”), those in Oregon make 72 percent of the national average. Why? The Employment Department says it’s “difficult to figure out,” and many of the estimates are based on reporting at the national level.

The Oregonian Ed Board, though, think they have it all figured out: the state should focus on “reducing regulations and initial fees” on businesses, which really is their answer for everything. Never mind the fact that Portland ranks #5 on Forbes’ list of “Best Places to Launch a Startup in 2014,” and never mind the fact that Oregon is home to some of the world’s most innovative new companies. And never mind the fact that we’ve got one of the lowest—if not THE lowest—corporate tax burdens in the country.

The writers at the Editorial Board think we should cut fees, taxes, and regulations so that when the startups grow into successful large companies, they don’t relocate to another state.

It’s an unsurprisingly myopic answer from the conservatives at the Oregonian—and one that would lead nowhere if legislators chose to listen to them. If we really want to boost the state’s economy (in both rural and urban areas), we’ve got to invest in education and infrastructure at all levels. And that’s going to require some actual investment of funds.

Right now, though, Oregon is continuing to underfund those core needs, and it’s largely because big corporations (the ones the Oregonian wants small businesses to turn into) aren’t paying their share of taxes. In fact, they’re paying a lower overall tax rate than small businesses—and much lower than individuals pay.

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That’s due to a couple of reasons: First, Oregon’s tax code contains hundreds of tax breaks, many of which are really only available to large, profitable corporations, allowing them to reduce their tax rate to negligible amounts. Second, Oregon’s corporate minimum tax is capped at $100,000 for corporations with more than $100 million in sales, which means that the largest corporations have a far lower minimum tax than small businesses relative to their sales.

Oregon’s tax system should be structured so that small businesses and individuals aren’t carrying the entire tax burden because large corporation are getting off the hook. And yet, the model we have now lets the biggest corporations continue to avoid paying their fair share.

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Lane County Commissioners Try Preemptive Strike Against Paid Sick Leave

The Eugene City Council is poised to pass a landmark ordinance on paid sick leave, which is good news for workers in the city. Everybody should be able to take a sick day when their health requires it without having to worry about missing a paycheck—or working while sick and spreading illnesses.

Eugene would join a growing number of municipalities providing such protections for working people.

But the Lane County Commissioners are trying to push through three ordinances that are an attempt to undercut the Eugene City Council’s efforts. It would be a preemptive strike against the city, but highly unlikely to stop the policy. Paid sick leave has the strong support of too many community groups, leaders, and voters to be stopped by the tinkering of the county commission.

Sneeze

On Monday morning, the Commission is holding a hearing on their three proposals. The County scheduled their hearing for just before the City was scheduled to hold its own. Expect much grandstanding.

The County Commissioners, of course, aren’t openly admitting that they don’t want to provide such basic protections for workers. Instead, they’ve shrouded their opposition in “process” and “authority.” Despite the commissioners’ claims, their efforts won’t actually block the Eugene City Council from voting on–or implementing–paid sick leave.

From the Register Guard:

Commissioner Sid Leiken said the board was acting in response to a jurisdictional “overreach” by the City Council in attempting to control businesses outside the city limits.

“What we’re talking about here is way beyond sick leave,” he said. “This is about establishing who has authority, who doesn’t, and how (these types of issues) resolve themselves in the future.”

The folks at Everybody Benefits Eugene, the campaign in favor of the sick leave policy, have collected thousands of letters in support of the ordinance. To add your story and name to the petition, go here: http://everybodybenefitseugene.org/

One Response to “Lane County Commissioners Try Preemptive Strike Against Paid Sick Leave”

  1. Hypocrits

    Pretty hypocritical for Our Oregon (public emplyee unions) to support a law that violates Article 1 Section 21 of the Oregon Constitution’s prohibition on passing laws that violate exisitng contracts. The unions used that section to in court argumants to invalidate PERS reforms. I guess implied contracts between empoyers and employees are only good when they work in AFSCME’s, SEIU’s and OEA’s favor.

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MEDIA WATCH: A “New” Face at the Oregonian Editorial Board: N. Christian Anderson III

Sometime in the past two months, the Oregonian quietly added a “new” member to the paper’s infamously right-wing editorial board: Their infamously right-wing publisher, N. Christian Anderson III.

Editorial MastheadSince he took over as publisher in 2009, the entire paper, especially the editorial board, has shifted further to the right to match his views. He sat in on endorsement interviews and in 2010 wrote that, “I always reserve the right as the publisher to determine our editorial position…” (He claimed at the time that that hadn’t happened yet.)

But he also changed the paper’s longstanding management structure. Traditionally, the editorial page editor would report to the executive editor of the newspaper, who in turn reported to the publisher. But Anderson consolidated his authority by having the editorial page editor report directly to him.

After veteran editorial page Bob Caldwell passed away, Anderson was able to hire a replacement who would more directly carry his positions on issues (and whose employment would be more directly attributable to Anderson). He hired Erik Lukens from the Bend Bulletin, home of the then-most-conservative editorial page in the state. Then, Anderson showed the door to David Sarasohn, the editorial board’s most reliably liberal voice. (Sarasohn still writes a column for the paper, but no longer serves on the editorial board.)

Oregonian Publisher N. Christian Anderson IIIThe result has been an undeniable, inelegant shift toward positions that are more conservative, pro-corporate, and anti-worker—frankly, even becoming even more at odds with the paper’s readership base.

Now, they’ve just gone ahead and done away with the façade that Anderson merely has some influence over the board, and have embedded him as an official member, codifying what was already obvious to anyone paying attention.

Meanwhile, circulation numbers at the Oregonian aren’t looking so hot…

6 Responses to “MEDIA WATCH: A “New” Face at the Oregonian Editorial Board: N. Christian Anderson III”

  1. Barbara Branham

    We had subscribed to the Oregonian since our arrival in Oregon 28 years ago. I cancelled our subscription a couple of months ago. This was a difficult decision as we really want local news but seeing the Oregonian deteriorate to what it is today was very distressing. The first blow was losing the wonderful editorial cartoonist, Jack Ohman, one of the most talented in the nation. He was replaced mostly by lackluster cartoonists and more and more of those were conservative. The best newspapers have always been more liberal as generally liberals present a broader view of the world. The Oregonian has become a sad remnant of what it once was but with color!! photos. Does the Oregonian think we are children, that everything can be fixed with color? Sounds like the newspaper is getting worse, if that is possible.

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  2. Anonymous

    We also recently cancelled our subscription of many years.
    The quality and range of the paper has plummeted.

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