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May 14th, 2003 The Nose | The Nose
 

Failing the vision test.

     
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Look who's not on Measure 26-48's list today.
Is it arrogant to think that Measure 26-48 is an IQ test? That those who vote "no" are so shortsighted that they can't ever see a tax increase they could support? That those who vote "yes" are enlightened enough to understand how bad things will be if this measure fails?

It probably is arrogant, yet the Nose feels this way just the same.

To those who hate tax increases and argue that government never tightens its belt, the Nose would like to say, "Pay attention." Salem just passed a historic reform of the bankrupt state pension system, one that will save billions of dollars.

Eventually.

The Portland School District is (finally) poised to sell off surplus real estate that will bring in some significant cash.

Sometime down the road.

In the meantime, unless the prospect of 600 fewer teachers excites you, it's hard to argue that Portland-area schools don't need this bailout.

What's particularly interesting about Measure 26-48 is the response in the business community. For a while, it looked like school advocates were going to push for an increase in the county payroll tax. Business leaders breathed a huge sigh of relief when, instead, the measure's backers opted for a broader-based income tax.

Of course, getting people to agree to raise their taxes during economic hard times doesn't happen without a campaign, and campaigns don't happen without money. And, as you can imagine, businesses are the first stop for campaign fundraisers. (The Nose's bosses tell him this newspaper contributes financially to no political campaigns.)

Campaign organizers hit up hundreds of businesses. Most of the usual suspects, including all the utilities and banks, came through (though U.S. Bank's check hadn't arrived as of Monday). But there were some puzzling omissions.

The oddest was the Portland Business Alliance, which had screamed bloody murder when parents began eyeing the payroll tax. The Nose hears that the campaign asked the local business group for $25,000, a copier and an endorsement. Instead, as of Monday, it had given three reams of paper.

Here are other notable contributions and omissions:

*Nike, based in Beaverton (the tax only applies to Multnomah County), gave the campaign $25,000. Adidas, based in North Portland, gave it nothing.

*Norm Thompson Inc. gave $1,000, Paloma Clothing gave $500, and Columbia Sportswear gave nothing.

*New Seasons Market gave $2,500. Whole Foods donated 5 percent of its May 5 receipts (still being tallied). But Fred Meyer said, "No thanks."

*Gerding/Edlen Development, the developer of the Brewery blocks, gave $5,000. Hoffman Construction kicked in $2,500. Walsh Construction, which won the public contract to rebuild Columbia Villa, gave zilch.

*Kaiser Permanente wrote a check for $10,000. Providence and Blue Cross ponied up $5,000 each. ODS Health Plans managed $4,000. And Legacy Health? Nada.

*Vernier Software and Technology (which employs about 55 people at its Beaverton HQ) gave $200, but Intel (which employs 14,500 Oregonians) gave squat.

Given all the grumbling about how hard it is to attract business to the city, the Nose commends those businesses above (and the many others who aren't listed) who broke out their checkbooks. As for the others, he'll be arrogant enough to assume the check is in the mail.

 
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