Sockeye Blog

It's Monday!

A group called Americans Elect has gotten more publicity for its efforts to hold an internet primary for president. The group is gathering signatures in Oregon to qualify as a political party, but so far, little light has been cast on who's behind the group and how they work. Today, Our Oregon begins a series of blog posts looking at Americans Elects' funding ($20 million to $30 million from wealth managers and hedge fund operators), the people behind it, and its bylaws.

Oregon universities open today with record international student enrollment - and a spike in enrollment overall. The Statesman Journal reports that the state has a difficult time tracking as much as $100 million in contracts to private vendors due to the way each agency reports the figures.

It's Monday!

A group called Americans Elect has gotten more publicity for its efforts to hold an internet primary for president. The group is gathering signatures in Oregon to qualify as a political party, but so far, little light has been cast on who's behind the group and how they work. Today, Our Oregon begins a series of blog posts looking at Americans Elects' funding ($20 million to $30 million from wealth managers and hedge fund operators), the people behind it, and its bylaws.

Oregon universities open today with record international student enrollment - and a spike in enrollment overall. The Statesman Journal reports that the state has a difficult time tracking as much as $100 million in contracts to private vendors due to the way each agency reports the figures.

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Let's hearken back to our childhoods for a brightly nostalgic side of life this Friday:

Let's hearken back to our childhoods for a brightly nostalgic side of life this Friday:

The adage "It's never too late to say you're sorry" may just sound like 'another one of those things your parents tell you.' But it turns out even 205 years is not too late. The famed Lewis and Clark are known and lauded for their heroic exploration, but it turns out that the duo stole a canoe -- a sacred and important vessel -- at the end of their travels, from the Chinook Indian tribe. Descendants aim to right that wrong, and will present a 36 foot replica of the stolen canoe to the Chinook Indian Nation in a ceremony this weekend.

Remember how you used to want to be a archeologist? (Yeah, we all did.) Tap into that childhood fantasy to geek out on the discovery of two ancient beaver teeth here in Oregon's John Day Fossil Beds National Monument. Until this discovery, beavers were known in North America only to 5 million years ago -- this discovery places them here 10 to 12 million years ago.

Let Jad (newly awarded McArthur Genius Fellow) and Robert from Radiolab take you on a journey around the world in search of that childhood favorite, Tic Tac Toe.

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Happy Friday!

The Oregonian looks at the progress--or, rather, lack-thereof--of gender equity in Oregon state politics.

The Atlantic uses a chart from Oregon to put the national job-loss picture into global perspective. A panel of economists tells an interim legislative committee on economic development that tax cuts and deregulation won't stimulate Oregon's economy, and that the state should focus on its strengths while we ride out the recession.

Meanwhile, the Statesman Journal looks at the recession's disproportionate impact on young people, and editorial cartoonist Jesse Springer goes a bit ironic with his take on homelessness.

Happy Friday!

The Oregonian looks at the progress--or, rather, lack-thereof--of gender equity in Oregon state politics.

The Atlantic uses a chart from Oregon to put the national job-loss picture into global perspective. A panel of economists tells an interim legislative committee on economic development that tax cuts and deregulation won't stimulate Oregon's economy, and that the state should focus on its strengths while we ride out the recession.

Meanwhile, the Statesman Journal looks at the recession's disproportionate impact on young people, and editorial cartoonist Jesse Springer goes a bit ironic with his take on homelessness.

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It's Thursday!

Bloomberg News writes about actions at the state level (including in Oregon) to rein in debt collectors. The Medford Mail Tribune reports that there's no evidence that companies have left the state because of Measures 66 and 67. The reporter even followed up on claims from Rep. Sal Esquivel that businesses left, and found that none of them actually had.

The economic crisis is taking its toll on young people, and in a funny story on the Sockeye Blog, it turns out that many Tea Partiers almost accidentally stood up for their own economic self-interest, nearly supporting the "Occupy Wall Street" protests.

It's Thursday!

Bloomberg News writes about actions at the state level (including in Oregon) to rein in debt collectors. The Medford Mail Tribune reports that there's no evidence that companies have left the state because of Measures 66 and 67. The reporter even followed up on claims from Rep. Sal Esquivel that businesses left, and found that none of them actually had.

The economic crisis is taking its toll on young people, and in a funny story on the Sockeye Blog, it turns out that many Tea Partiers almost accidentally stood up for their own economic self-interest, nearly supporting the "Occupy Wall Street" protests.

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President Obama has been speaking out about the need for good infrastructure jobs. We need to do the same!

Join our partners at SEIU 503, SEIU 49 and We Are Oregon today at 5pm near the Lloyd Center.

President Obama has been speaking out about the need for good infrastructure jobs. We need to do the same!

Join our partners at SEIU 503, SEIU 49 and We Are Oregon today at 5pm near the Lloyd Center.

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It's Wednesday.

Economic Fairness Oregon's Angela Martin responds to a Cascade Policy Institute op-ed criticizing Oregon's ban on predatory payday loan operations. Nike has joined a coalition of other large corporations dedicated to lowering the federal corporate tax rate.

Oregon's unemployment rate has remained flat for another month, but Portland picked up 2,500 new jobs. The city's jobless rate is now on par with the national average. Rep. Tina Kotek, leader of the House Democrats, says she'll focus on dealing with the foreclosure crisis in the upcoming February session.

It's Wednesday.

Economic Fairness Oregon's Angela Martin responds to a Cascade Policy Institute op-ed criticizing Oregon's ban on predatory payday loan operations. Nike has joined a coalition of other large corporations dedicated to lowering the federal corporate tax rate.

Oregon's unemployment rate has remained flat for another month, but Portland picked up 2,500 new jobs. The city's jobless rate is now on par with the national average. Rep. Tina Kotek, leader of the House Democrats, says she'll focus on dealing with the foreclosure crisis in the upcoming February session.

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The Tea Partiers almost get it right on Wall Street

For a brief, hope-inspiring period this weekend, it appeared some Tea Partiers had finally seen the light and were prepared to stand up to Wall Street greed by throwing their support behind the “Occupy Wall Street” protests that launched on Saturday.

The Tea Partiers almost get it right on Wall Street

For a brief, hope-inspiring period this weekend, it appeared some Tea Partiers had finally seen the light and were prepared to stand up to Wall Street greed by throwing their support behind the “Occupy Wall Street” protests that launched on Saturday.

Alas, before they could fully engage in the spot-on fight against Wall Street for draining their savings accounts, the Astroturf leaders of the Tea Party shut them down, frightening members by claiming that the protests were being organized by a “dangerous network of groups.”

Leading into the weekend, many Tea Party members began posting information about and support for the protests. From the LibertyNews Network:

But the Tea Party leadership responded to the interest with this alarmist email blast:

...

I guess the Tea Party leaders think it’s better to let corporations make trillions of dollars and dodge paying their fair share, while middle-class Americans can’t find jobs, afford their mortgages, or support their families – rather than band together with people who (gasp!) might identify as progressives.

Oh well. At least they almost got it right on Wall Street.

The Back Story: So what is going on on Wall Street?

On Saturday, September 17, a group of individuals launched “a modest call to action,” encouraging their fellow Americans to recognize and speak up about the out-of-control corporate influence in America. Very quickly, individuals signed on to their pledge and took to the streets to protest.

In New York, masses gathered on Wall Street. Most sources number the crowd between one and five thousand. The New York City Police (in the Wall Street Journal) have called the protest “peaceful.”  Protesters have largely suggested positive action, holding signs that read “"Corporations Run This Country -- Let's Do Something About It" and making comments that “If people don't get off the couch, nothing will get done."
And protesters even cited hope as their reason for gathering:

 "Optimism -- that's what brought us down here," said 40-year-old Dan Bryk, who was carrying his eight-month-old son, Henry, in a snuggly while holding a sign saying, "Oligarchy Is Not Healthy for Children and Other Living Things."

A wide spectrum of political thought could agree on their cause – and almost did -- to fight for a more democratic process and to end Corporate America’s undue economic and political influence.

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Happy Tuesday!

The Oregon Office of Economic Analysis has a couple of charts comparing the current recession to previous economic downturns--and maybe more interestingly, to recessions in other parts of the world.

Work is ramping up on plans to overhaul the Oregon Health Plan, and Nike is expecting $28 to $30 billion in revenue by 2015.

A group called "Americans Elect" is gathering signatures to put a third party presidential candidate on the ballot. The nominee would be chosen on the internet. The party doesn't have a platform (Blue Oregon's Kari Chisholm calls the group's efforts "nonsense"), but its leadership team includes the founders of Arno Political Consultants, which has faced allegations of abusing election laws in at least five states, including Oregon.

And here's your moment of "huh?" for the day.

Happy Tuesday!

The Oregon Office of Economic Analysis has a couple of charts comparing the current recession to previous economic downturns--and maybe more interestingly, to recessions in other parts of the world.

Work is ramping up on plans to overhaul the Oregon Health Plan, and Nike is expecting $28 to $30 billion in revenue by 2015.

A group called "Americans Elect" is gathering signatures to put a third party presidential candidate on the ballot. The nominee would be chosen on the internet. The party doesn't have a platform (Blue Oregon's Kari Chisholm calls the group's efforts "nonsense"), but its leadership team includes the founders of Arno Political Consultants, which has faced allegations of abusing election laws in at least five states, including Oregon.

And here's your moment of "huh?" for the day.

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For most Oregon families, the effects of this economic crisis are still very real. New census numbers show just how bad the recession has hit our state, but our analysis suggests that the situation is even more severe than the numbers show.

Oregonians see the impact of the crisis every day as they try to provide for their families, look for employment, and simply try to put food on the table. Unless our state and federal representatives can commit to investing in the vital services that protect the vulnerable, educate kids and create economic opportunity, these numbers are unlikely to budge.

The Census data shows that the number of people in the US living below the federal poverty line has grown to 1 in 6 people, or 15.1% of the country. That equals 46.2 million Americans living in poverty, or just about the total populations of California, Washington and Oregon combined.

In Oregon, about 14% of our residents -- or more than half a million Oregonians -- are living below the poverty line. More troubling is the disproportionate effect on children: a whopping 25% of Oregon kids under the age of six live below the threshold.

For most Oregon families, the effects of this economic crisis are still very real. New census numbers show just how bad the recession has hit our state, but our analysis suggests that the situation is even more severe than the numbers show.

Oregonians see the impact of the crisis every day as they try to provide for their families, look for employment, and simply try to put food on the table. Unless our state and federal representatives can commit to investing in the vital services that protect the vulnerable, educate kids and create economic opportunity, these numbers are unlikely to budge.

The Census data shows that the number of people in the US living below the federal poverty line has grown to 1 in 6 people, or 15.1% of the country. That equals 46.2 million Americans living in poverty, or just about the total populations of California, Washington and Oregon combined.

In Oregon, about 14% of our residents -- or more than half a million Oregonians -- are living below the poverty line. More troubling is the disproportionate effect on children: a whopping 25% of Oregon kids under the age of six live below the threshold.

This data is based on a federal "poverty line" of $22,113 in annual income for a family of four. Most people understand that the effects of poverty are not discrete - living just above the poverty line doesn't mean your experience is substantially different than folks who are living just below. More than 18.5% of Oregonians live under 125% of the poverty line, yet they are not counted in these statistics. This leads to a flawed picture of how many and which folks are struggling – an important picture for our leaders to understand as they examine budget decisions in the coming months.

For a family of four, why is $22,000 considered poverty yet not $23,000?

In the 1960s, an absolute poverty line was determined by multiplying the average cost of food for an American family, which back then amounted to about 33% of the family budget. Today, that cost is closer to about 15% for the average family of four*.

By ignoring the changing expenses of modern life, the poverty measure drastically underestimates the prevalence of people living in poverty and results in disinvestment in social safety net programs such as food banks, education, healthcare services, employment opportunities and more. We're seeing this in Oregon right now. As demand for help grows - record numbers of Oregonians have been seeking assistance this year - and as resources shrink, our agencies and service organizations are incredibly overstretched as they try to help everyone. Many people fall through the cracks.

Assuming that the formula works, applying the amount Americans spend on food today - a drastically different percentage of our income than in the ‘60s - would almost double the “poverty line” income threshold for a family of four.

Much larger numbers of Oregonians can't afford their basic needs than the numbers suggest.

We call ourselves a progressive leader in the nation, but our kids are the most food insecure of any state. Many of our residents are without health care, putting themselves and their families at risk. We’ve got shockingly high unemployment that has persisted without change for months.

Meanwhile, our corporate taxes are in the bottom five in the nation, according to the Council on State Taxation.

What do we need?

Too many children and families are suffering in poverty while corporations and the rich enjoy low taxes and record profits. We need action that protects and bolsters the middle-class (funding schools, critical services) not more handouts to the wealthy.

We must more fully fund schools, social services, and public safety. We must maintain the services that help our most vulnerable while providing economic opportunities to move our state out of this economic crisis. Otherwise, more and more Oregonians will fall through the cracks.

As a nation, we should hear the strong sense of urgency in the case for a new jobs bill – and act quickly. The Register Guard released its summary of the direct assistance Oregon would receive from President Obama’s jobs bill.

We must lean on our representatives to guide us through this crisis, beginning with the legislative session in February and the Legislature’s ability to create a budget that protects the middle class instead of dismantling vital assistance for Oregon folks, many of whom never thought they would worry about where their next meal would come from.

Oregonians are hurting, and we need direct investment now, not continued record-low taxes for big corporations and the wealthiest among us.

*The "Orshansky Poverty Threshold" was created in 1964 by Mollie Orshansky, a woman working at the Social Security Administration, to determine an "absolute level" of poverty. At that time, the Department of Agriculture determined that families of three or more spent about one third of their income on food. To determine an absolute poverty line, Mollie Orshansky simply multiplied that number by three.

That method of determining the poverty line has remained almost exactly the same for the last forty-five years, despite the fact that that food now accounts for somewhere around 15% of the family budget (some say closer to 10%). Housing, transportation, medical costs and utilities take up much more of the family budget than ever before. Forbes Magazine said in 2006 that housing is the largest expense for Americans of all income levels.

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Happy Monday!

After questions raised by Our Oregon, the Secretary of State's office ruled that Clackamas County Clerk Sherry Hall's office erroneously accepted some of the signatures on a Tea Party-backed county initiative. The SOS office ordered a final review of 175 remaining signatures, beginning tomorrow.

Multiple reports are out showing the extent of growing poverty and unemployment in Oregon caused by the recession. Our Oregon looked further into the numbers for a more complete view of how many families are living at or near the poverty level. And the Cascade Policy Institute's Christina Martin tells the Statesman Journal that unemployment is high not because of a lack of jobs, but because of unemployment benefits.

In other news, Art Robinson says he's running again for Peter DeFazio's congressional seat.

Happy Monday!

After questions raised by Our Oregon, the Secretary of State's office ruled that Clackamas County Clerk Sherry Hall's office erroneously accepted some of the signatures on a Tea Party-backed county initiative. The SOS office ordered a final review of 175 remaining signatures, beginning tomorrow.

Multiple reports are out showing the extent of growing poverty and unemployment in Oregon caused by the recession. Our Oregon looked further into the numbers for a more complete view of how many families are living at or near the poverty level. And the Cascade Policy Institute's Christina Martin tells the Statesman Journal that unemployment is high not because of a lack of jobs, but because of unemployment benefits.

In other news, Art Robinson says he's running again for Peter DeFazio's congressional seat.

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