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Should politicians in Salem impose a mandatory income tax for Josephine County only to fund public safety? 354 total votes.i

Yes-19% 66 votes

No-80% 283 votes

No opinion-1% 5 votes

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OCWF Executive Director Jeff Kropf Takes On

Public vs Private Sector Compensation

 

KATU Channel 2 Interview with News Anchor Steve Dunn

 

May 13, 2014 (Salem)

 

Oregon Capitol Watch Executive Director and former State Representative Jeff Kropf was interviewed by KATU Channel 2 News Anchor Steve Dunn on the state capitol mall regarding research that OCWF had conducted over a two year time period about how the state is over paying thousands of state workers and violating Oregon law in the process.

 

“The Governor is overpaying many state workers in direct violation of Oregon law and the legislature never knows its happening” said Kropf. “Shouldn’t the legislature, who writes the checks for these employees’ salary and benefits, see this market comparison report detailing how many state workers are being overpaid, some by as much as 266% over what the law says they should be paid?”

 

By law, every two years the state must produce the Total Market Comparison Report which compares various categories of state employment with other government and private sector workers doing the same job. Yet this report does not include all the costs of employing a state worker such as COLA’s, vacation and sick time, discounted life insurance and other benefits.

 

“Taxpayers are overpaying thousands of state workers, perhaps as much as 65 million dollars a year, though to be fair this report also shows a few hundred state workers make less than private sector and other government agencies pay for comparable work” Kropf said. “Either way, the law is being ignored, the taxpayers are paying too much and no one is doing anything about it!”

 

Portland State University also compiles and releases a report that includes all the costs of employing a state worker and compares it to government and private sector employees. It shows a much higher cost than the state report for this very reason.

 

“As a former legislator who sat on the budget committee for eight years, I was never told this ‘secret’ report about total employee compensation even existed” said Kropf. “Even if legislators did see it, it wouldn’t be accurate because it doesn’t include all the costs of employing as state worker”

 

You can watch the entire interview at the link to the above right . The KATU website also has the entire report online that you can read for yourself.

Courts should end Lerner’s

illegal instant message trick

 

 

By Phil Kerpen

 

It was so brazen.  Right there, over email, Lois Lerner warned her colleagues “Congress has asked for emails… so we need to be cautious about what we say in emails.” Then she asked whether the IRS’s instant messaging application was being archived, and was told that – contrary to law – archiving had been disabled.  She responded: “Perfect.”

 

Specifically, IRS staffer Maria Hooke told Lerner “messages are not set to automatically save as the standard; however the functionality exists within the software.”

 

I asked the leading force for government transparency in the country, Chris Horner of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, whether it was legal for the IRS to disable the archiving function.  “It's unlawful to not enable it, and if it is default-enabled, it is unlawful to disable it,” he told me.

 

For support, he pointed me to a 2008 letter from EPA confessing to the National Archivist of “possible unauthorized destruction of computer files,” after discovering that former Administrator Carol Browner had her little-known secondary email account set on auto-delete.

 

So far, IRS has apparently made no such disclosure regarding Lerner’s instant messages, despite it being required under the Federal Records Act.  They have offered no explanation for why the archiving function was disabled, deliberately and automatically destroying an entire class of records.

 

Even worse, this appears to be a standard practice across government agencies, especially at the EPA, who Horner is suing in CEI v. EPA, a Federal Records case seeking to compel EPA to stop destroying current Administrator Gina McCarthy’s text messages. Horner has obtained metadata showing texting was increasingly her medium of choice for conducting agency business, which she then illegally destroyed wholesale.

 

EPA replied to the court that Horner’s request is “intrusive,” and that if they choose to disregard the law, nobody should be able to force them to comply.

 

“These agencies have shown they are aware of and know how to perform the law’s requirement to notify the Archivist, which triggers remedial steps to reconstruct these records,” Horner says. “Yet the EPA is insisting it cannot be compelled to do so when it doesn’t want to.”

 

Besides stopping EPA’s cyber-bonfire, Horner hopes a court will ultimately put all of the regulations McCarthy was responsible for — the ‘war on coal’ — on hold until McCarthy’s delated correspondence is reconstructed.

 

If, on the other hand, the court accepts the EPA’s argument, not only will that agency be free to conduct its business in willful violation of the Federal Records Act and, by extension, the Freedom of Information Act (since there will never be any responsive documents), but so will every other agency.  Including the IRS, which obviously already has a head start.

 

So CEI v. EPA is really the test case for whether illegal behavior like Lois Lerner’s and Gina McCarthy’s will be given the implicit sanction of federal courts, an effective death blow for accountability and transparency across the federal bureaucracy.

 

The wrong outcome would allow liberal activists in the government to conduct their official business in the dark.  Congress would then have to step in and enact a law reaffirming that this is intolerable. What Lerner has already reminded us is that the creation and archiving of all public records should be automatic, permanent, and not subject to unilateral destruction by public officials.

 

“The Federal Records Act and the Freedom of Information Act,” Horner says, “operate on an honor system, contingent upon the honor of those covered by them. So you see the problem.”

 

As the dishonorable Lois Lerner might say: “Perfect.”

by Dan Lucas

 

Property taxes are very important to Oregon cities, counties and schools. While the state government’s general fund depends largely on income taxes, county and city governments get most of their tax base from property taxes, and school districts and community colleges get large portions of their funding from property taxes.

 

Measure 5 and Measure 50, which were passed by Oregon voters in the 1990s, served to slow the growth of property tax collections. Measure 5 limited property taxes to 1.5% of assessed value and Measure 50 limited how quickly the assessed value could be raised to 3% a year.

 

During the 42 years between 1971 and 2013, statewide property tax collections increased every year, except for five years in the 1990s. My property taxes when I lived in Beaverton went from $1,780 in 1990 to $3,275 in 2013 for the same house – an increase of 84% over 23 years.

 

Decades later, despite the steady increases in property tax collections, school districts like Hillsboro and Salem-Keizer still call out Measures 5 and 50 as sources of their budget woes.

 

A February 2014 research report from the Oregon Legislative Revenue Office (LRO) offers some perspective on the effect of those measures on property taxes. The report shows that statewide property tax collections in Oregon went from $2.8 billion in 1999-2000 to $5.2 billion in 2012-2013 — an 85% increase over the 13-year period in the report.

 

For comparison purposes, during that same 13-year period Oregon personal income taxes went from $4.1 billion to $6.3 billion — a 52% increase. Oregon’s population increased 15% during the 13-year period, growing from 3.4 million to 3.9 million. So both the increases in property tax collections and income tax collections have significantly outstripped population growth, and property tax collections have been increasing faster than personal income taxes, even with Measures 5 and 50.

 

All the increases in property tax collections are not evenly distributed in every Oregon county, city and other taxing districts. The LRO report notes “Property tax rates differ across the state. The rate on any particular property depends on the tax rates approved by local voters and the limits established in the Oregon Constitution.”

 

Home owners aren’t the only ones who pay property taxes in Oregon. Oregon businesses pay almost half of the property taxes. In 2012, they paid $2.4 billion out of the total $5.2 billion in Oregon property taxes.

 

As an example, the top two payers of property taxes to Marion County are PGE and NW Natural Gas. And like homeowners, those aren’t the only property taxes they pay in Marion County. PGE and NW Natural gas also pay property taxes to the City of Salem, Salem Mass Transit, Salem Suburban Rural Fire Protection District, Salem-Keizer School District, Chemeketa Community College and to the other cities in Marion County and their comparable taxing districts — as well as in the other counties in Oregon. So part of all of our monthly electric and gas bills goes to paying those property taxes.

 

With an 85% increase in statewide property tax collections over the last 13 years, it would be hard to make the case that Oregonians are not already paying enough in property taxes. Additionally, the valuation of your home may have little bearing on what you’re able to afford to pay in annual property taxes. That is especially true for those on fixed incomes.

85% Increase in Property Taxes

to Oregonians Since 1999??

Are you receiving an 85%

Increase in Government Services?

Petunia Wins 2nd Place in the Bohemia Mining Days Parade!

(Washington, D.C.) – Today, Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) named Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) Director Richard Cordray its July Porker of the Month because of his gross mismanagement of the CFPB’s headquarters renovation budget, which has ballooned by almost 300 percent from a projected initial cost of $55 million to $215.8 million, and for the agency’s inability to produce a single shred of documentation related to the renovation. 

 

The CFPB was created in 2011 as part of the Dodd-Frank Act.  One of the agency’s objectives is to “promote financial education,” which is ironic given its failure to control costs.  The CFPB has been called “unaccountable and unrestrained,” which is also an apt description of its handling of the building renovation.  The first revised estimate went from $55 million in the CFPB’s fiscal year (FY) 2012 budget justification to $95 million in April 2013.  It was revised a month later to $111.4 million, and then to $145.1 million in July 2013.  According to a June 30, 2014 Federal Reserve Board of Governors’ Office of the Inspector General (OIG) letter, “Based on the CFPB’s assessed requirements as of June 5, 2014, we currently estimate all-in costs to total approximately $215.8 million” and “a sound business case is not available to support the funding of the renovation.”  Furthermore, in what has become a disturbing pattern of either gross incompetence or systematic agency-wide obfuscation, the OIG wrote that CFPB officials were “unable to locate any documentation” related to the renovation.  Director Cordray has attempted to justify the costs by calling the building as “a classic white elephant,” and claiming it will “cost a fair amount of money to bring it back up to standard.”

 

He singled out window replacement, plumbing and electrical upgrades, and a new roof as cost centers for the renovations, yet plans for the building also include such luxurious amenities as an indoor waterfall, a four-story glass staircase, a sunken garden, a custom “green” roof, and stools commissioned from world-renowned sculptor Maya Lin.  The building, which is being rented, was accepted in “as is” condition by CFPB officials, and will not even house all of the CFPB’s staff.  The renovation will cost approximately $590 per square foot, which is more than double the average cost for renovating some of Washington’s most high-end office buildings.  According to the House Financial Services Committee, “…the CFPB is spending much more per square foot than it cost to build the Trump World Tower ($334/square foot), the Bellagio Hotel and Casino ($330/square foot) and the Burj Khalifa in Dubai ($450/square foot).”  The latest estimated cost of $215.8 million is 37 percent greater than the value of the building, which was appraised at $157.3 million in 2011.  House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) has demanded that Director Cordray produce “full, unredacted” records related to the escalating costs for the building renovation by July 31, 2014.

 

“Director Cordray has apparently mistaken himself for real estate and development tycoon Donald Trump, who broke ground this week on his renovation of Washington D.C.’s Old Post Office Building around the corner from the CFPB,” said Tom Schatz.  “If ‘The Donald’ was in charge of the renovation, Mr. Cordray would have been fired for incompetence.”

For breaking the budget on the CFPB HQ renovations and for being just another “loser” in a long line of administration officials who cannot keep track of important documentation related to accountability and transparency, CAGW names CFPB Director Richard Cordray its July Porker of the Month.

Citizens Against Government Waste is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization dedicated to eliminating waste, fraud, mismanagement and abuse in government.

 

 

Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) is a private, non-partisan, non-profit organization representing more than one million members and supporters nationwide. CAGW's mission is to eliminate waste, mismanagement, and inefficiency in the federal government.

 

 

 

Citizens Against Government Waste Names Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Director Richard Cordray July Porker of the Month

July 31, 2014

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