Sunday, May 23, 2010

Deadbeats, Dudley's Dud and Jazz Heresy

Posted By on Sun, May 23, 2010 at 1:52 AM

Oregonians who like to get angry at their state government should aim some righteous outrage at this: According to a story that appeared in Saturday’s issue of The Oregonian, “tax scofflaws and assorted deadbeats” are cheating the state out of $2 billion a year in revenue.

A 2009 report by the Legislative Fiscal Office said the annual amount of uncollected revenue has doubled over the past eight years.

“Accurately gauging how much of those unpaid bills can ever be collected is impossible,” The Oregonian says. “For instance, a felon sentenced to prison and $50,000 in restitution is unlikely to make good on the debt. But with a projected $2.5 billion budget shortfall facing the Legislature when it convenes in January, lawmakers will be looking for cash wherever they can find it.”

***

Republican governor candidate Chris Dudley was barely out of the starting gate when he made his first serious stumble, incorrectly blaming Democrat John Kitzhaber for making the state go into debt in 2003.

In a speech Thursday, Dudley attacked what he claimed was Kitzhaber’s decision as governor “to balance his final 2001-‘03 budget by putting $450 million on the state's credit card instead of cutting spending. That irresponsible decision has cost taxpayers $71 million a year - and will continue to cost taxpayers $71 million a year through 2014.”

However, as The Oregonian’s Jeff Mapes astutely noted in his blog, “The borrowing that Dudley referred to in his speech was actually approved by the legislature in March of 2003 - several weeks after Kitzhaber left office - and signed into law by Gov. Ted Kulongoski.”

Kitzhaber, in fact, opposed lawmakers who wanted to put the state into debt – especially Republicans, who had a legislative majority at the time and preferred to borrow rather than raise taxes.

I have the feeling that Dudley’s learning curve in this campaign is going to be long and steep.

***

The Community Life section of Tuesday’s Bulletin carried a strange story about a woman named Sheila O’Malley who has opened a jazz club in LaPine.

Nothing especially strange about somebody opening a jazz club, even in LaPine. But this one – named “Jade’s Jazz Lounge” after the avatar O’Malley uses on the Second Life fantasy website – is described as “alcohol-free” and “family-friendly.”

Rank heresy! Jazz is an art form that traditionally has blossomed in smoky, boozy venues where one would never dream of taking a child.

O’Malley sounds like a nice person and I wish her luck. But an “alcohol-free, family-friendly” jazz club … man, that is just SO wrong!


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