Friday, January 29, 2010

Election afterthoughts – the sky is still there

The gloom-and-doomers, naysayers and other prognosticators of negativity have all danced like Chicken Little announcing the sky is falling now that Oregonians solidly approved two tax measures on Tuesday.

Here’s the forecast: cloudy with a chance of rain.

Is it ever any different in Oregon?

In other words, in a nod to The Beatles, life goes on, within you or without you.

It’s time to be part of the solution to what ails our economy.

Newspaper pontificators, sounding like politicians, say we need “real tax reform” without offering any feasible ideas. Just saying the word “reform” doesn’t make it so.

Well, the voters have spoken. They trust government more than business because business failed them. Voters back their elected representatives who took the bold step to tax the rich.

Yes, even rich voters opted to tax themselves. The measures passed overwhelmingly in the “richer” districts of the Portland are and the north Willamette Valley. This means that they’ll send more state money to the “poorer” rural areas that voted overwhelmingly against the measures. (Of course, rural Oregon is sparsely populated. Most citizens in Oregon live in the Portland area and along the I-5 corridor.)

Also, the measures had stronger support than expected in the rural areas, including Central Oregon where 35 percent in Crook County, 39 percent in Jefferson County and 41 percent in Deschutes County voted for the measures. Usually, those percentages are in the 20s and low 30s on statewide tax measures, even on local measures.

Not surprisingly, Bend showed the strongest support for the measures and it is considered the richest city in the region.

Economists, who are paid to state the obvious, say times will be tough.

One such economist from California spoke to about 300 people yesterday in Bend. People paid good money to hear him say things reported in the daily newspaper like, “We’re at a very low base. We’ve been losing jobs here for a long time.”

Bill Watlkins, from Pacific Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, predicted that growth would be slow. How insightful.

He claimed that the passage of Measures 66 and 67 are exactly the wrong thing to do at exactly the wrong time. He compared Oregon to California which he said is unattractive to business. “Oregon is dangerously close,” he said in the paper.

California has a sales tax that varies from region to region, but it’s getting close to 10 percent in much of the state. Oregon sales tax is 0 percent. California also has high income and property taxes like Oregon does. Still, California is one the highest tax states and Oregon is one of the lowest. Tuesday’s vote doesn’t change that fact.

The difference between California and Oregon is that Californians routinely vote for programs while voting against funding those things.

Oregon is saying we’ll pay for the programs we want. Oregonians showed pragmatism.
We pay as we go. We said we won’t borrow endlessly like California and the federal government do.

Oregon is now better poised to have a more measured, sustainable economy than California because it is willing to avoid massive debt that plagues California and the federal government.

This isn’t to say that Oregon, with an 11 percent unemployment rate, is paradise. There will always be funding problems because lobbyists and special interests prevent the state from enacting true reform.

Oregon’s beer tax, the second-lowest in the country, hasn’t been raised in decades because the beer lobby gets its way. Oregon could triple its beer tax and it would still be below the national average.

The state has a “kicker” law that says if any state revenue exceeds the state’s two-year projection, the overage amount must be kicked back to the taxpayers.

There is a move afoot to take that “kicker” money and put it in a “rainy day” fund. It won’t happen because various business and anti-tax groups still wield much power in Salem.

And then there is the sales tax. The well-off say this is the most equitable, but it means that the poor would pay a greater share of their income in taxes than the rich. Oregonians have rejected such a regressive tax nine times.

To claim that taxes are the greatest threat to business is bogus. In the 1950s, when prosperity rained down on all strata of American life, the federal income tax rate in the country for the wealthiest was 90 percent. During this “Great Recession,” it is lower than 40 percent. In the 1950s, high taxes paid for the interstate highway system. Today, relatively low taxes force us to borrow from the Chinese to fund two wars.

We are in a recession because we borrowed to prolong the party - and the wars. Well, the chickens have come home to roost.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Freedom isn’t free – Oregon vote shocks state, nation

Blame it on what you want – populism, unionism, patriotism – but Oregon voters, for the first time in 80 years, voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to increase taxes on the wealthy and corporations. Both measures passed at roughly 54 percent to 46 percent.

As tax measures go, this was a blowout.

This election sends a powerful message to the rest of the nation as it suffers during this Great Recession: freedom isn’t free. You want something, you gotta pay for it.

Oregonians said two main things with this election: 1) that they care about their state and the vital services they receive, and 2) they affirmed the role of the Legislature to enact laws. If you don’t like the legislators, vote for different ones next time.

Unfortunately, we just wasted millions that the state doesn’t have on an election brought about by out-of-state anti-tax groups who bought signatures to place the measures on the ballot. Deschutes County just flushed away nearly $90,000 to fund an election that should never have taken place at all. The anti-tax crowd just showed how they love to waste taxpayers’ money.

Measure 66 raises income taxes on individuals making more than $125,000 per year and families making more than $250,000 per year. This affects less than 3 percent of Oregon’s population.

Measure 67 raises the corporate minimum tax from $10 to $150. The tax hasn’t been raised since 1931.

Yes, Deschutes County voters, like most rural and less populated areas, defeated the measures by 41 percent to 59 percent. But this hardly matters. News flash: Juniper trees don’t vote, people do. And, the vast majority of the most-educated, best-informed citizens live in the Portland area and down the I-5 corridor.

Yes, Oregon’s income tax is one of highest in the nation, but the overall tax burden is one of the lowest in the country and the state consistently ranks in the top 10 as being favorable to business, according to the Tax Foundation. That fact has not brought Fortune 500 companies to the state. In fact, having an overall tax burden that favors business has kept companies away. The reason: Oregon, because of its aversion to high taxes, (it has voted nine times against a sales tax) has not invested in the necessary infrastructure – mainly higher education – that would attract a major corporation.

Ironically, because the electorate voted for their best interests, the state’s bond rating will improve. This will allow the state to borrow more money at favorable rates to fund massive infrastructure projects, which will create numerous jobs and make the state more attractive to major corporations.

One of the biggest losers in this election was corporate media that overwhelmingly opposed both measures and used their bully pulpits relentlessly to slant their coverage. Extra! Extra! Few care what newspapers think! That has got to hurt. In fact, this election shows how irrelevant newspapers have become.

Oregon, as it has done with the bottle bill, land-use laws and assisted suicide, leads the nation in a time when leadership is needed. Now is the time to enact new taxes on banks and brokerages. In fact, a 5-cent surcharge on each stock transaction would solve our deficit rather quickly since more than a billion transactions occur daily. This would also put a damper on speculators who caused our current financial disaster.

Some call this "class warfare." But the rich won that battle long ago as billionaire Warren Buffett has noted.

Yes, unions did outspend their anti-tax counterparts in Tuesday’s election, but it was the message that resonated with voters.

The majority of voters, most of whom are non-union workers, realized that they’ve been screwed over by the companies they work for. A recent study from the Oregon Employment Dept. showed the gap widening between the wealthy and the middle class, according to the Associated Press. Annual wages for the top 2 percent increased 29.5 percent from 1990 to 2008, after adjusting for inflation. Workers at the 50th percentile, meanwhile, saw an increase of just 2.4 percent during that span after adjusting for inflation. And earnings from investments weren’t even used in the calculations.

As Bryce Ward, a senior economist for the Portland-based consulting firm ECONorthwest told The Oregonian, “There’s been no growth in a decade for the middle.”

And the “middle,” with raised middle fingers, just told their bosses what they think with Tuesday’s vote.

It’s what the middle class needs to say all across this land. You want to move your plant to Mexico? Fine. You want to cut wages while increasing yours? Fine. Bailed-out banks dole out billions in bonuses? Fine. But, we’re going to tax you to hell for doing so.

The blogosphere is filled with bogus statements on how the rich are now going to race across the Columbia River to Vancouver, Wash, where there is no state income tax. The response of many on the blogs sums it up succinctly: Don’t let the door hit your ass as you flee the state. In other words: Good riddance.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Walk Away Renee (from your underwater mortgage)

Now is the time, according to the experts in economics, to strategically default or walk away from your underwater mortgage.

Banks do it. The rich do it. It’s time for you to do it.

It’s the only way to restore balance in the real estate marketplace.

“Underwater” means that you owe far more than what your home is worth. In Bend, for example, if you bought at the peak in 2007, you likely paid close to the median price of nearly $400,000. That median has plummeted to closer to $200,000. It will likely take another decade for the median to reach $400,000 again.

And yet, by walking away from your mortgage it means that you could pocket thousands of dollars and see your credit affected for maybe 3 to 5 years.

You can live in your home for at least 6 months and possibly a year or longer without paying a mortgage until the bank throws you out of your home. Yes, you lose your home, but you regain your financial independence.

It is not only the right thing to do for you and your family, it is the moral thing to do.

But, don’t take my word for it. Read this essay in the New York Times Magazine (Jan. 10, 2010), by Roger Lowenstein, an outside director of the Sequoia Fund, and a contributing writer for the magazine. His book “The End of Wall Street” is coming out in April.

Here’s the link:

In his article, Lowenstein debunks the notion that it is “irresponsible” to default on your underwater mortgage at a time when banks refuse to renegotiate terms of your mortgage so that you can stay in your home.

“Businesses — in particular Wall Street banks — make such calculations routinely,” Lowenstein writes. “Morgan Stanley recently decided to stop making payments on five San Francisco office buildings. A Morgan Stanley fund purchased the buildings at the height of the boom, and their value has plunged. Nobody has said Morgan Stanley is immoral — perhaps because no one assumed it was moral to begin with.”

In fact, Morgan Stanley was practicing due diligence on the part of its stockholders. You should to the same on behalf of your “stockholders” -- your family.

“Banks signal their complicity with this ethos when they send new credit cards to people who failed to stay current on old ones,” he writes.

Lowenstein concludes: “No one says defaulting on a contract is pretty or that, in a perfectly functioning society, defaults would be the rule. But to put the onus for restraint on ordinary homeowners seems rather strange. If the Mortgage Bankers Association is against defaults, its members, presumably the experts in such matters, might take better care not to lend people more than their homes are worth.”

Another article in yesterday’s Sunday New York Times, Richard H. Thaler, a professor of economics and behavioral science at the Booth School of Business at the University of Chicago, makes the same case.

Here’s the link:

Thaler writes, borrowers “think they are obligated to repay their loans even if it is not in their financial interest to do so, while their lenders are free to do whatever maximizes profits. It’s as if borrowers are playing in a poker game in which they are the only ones who think bluffing is unethical.”

Both authors, and many others, reference a 54-page paper published last month by Brent White, a law professor at the University of Arizona’s James E. Rogers College of Law.

Here’s the link:

White makes a strong case in his paper titled: “Underwater and Not Walking Away: Shame, Fear and the Social Management of the Housing Crisis.”

Here is White’s introduction to his paper:

“Despite reports that homeowners are increasingly ‘walking away’ from their mortgages, most homeowners continue to make their payments even when they are significantly underwater. This article suggests that most homeowners choose not to strategically default as a result of two emotional forces: 1) the desire to avoid the shame and guilt of foreclosure; and 2) exaggerated anxiety over foreclosure’s perceived consequences.

“Moreover, these emotional constraints are actively cultivated by the government and other social control agents in order to encourage homeowners to follow social and moral norms related to the honoring of financial obligations - and to ignore market and legal norms under which strategic default might be both viable and the wisest financial decision.

“Norms governing homeowner behavior stand in sharp contrast to norms governing lenders, who seek to maximize profits or minimize losses irrespective of concerns of morality or social responsibility. This norm asymmetry leads to distributional inequalities in which individual homeowners shoulder a disproportionate burden from the housing collapse.”

Instead of being a powerless teabagger, it’s time to do something about the inequities that face our country today. Walk away from your underwater mortgage. You’ll be doing yourself and the country a favor.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Nursing homes lag in Bend, Central Oregon

Surprisingly, no nursing homes in Bend or Central Oregon make the list of the best nursing homes in Oregon, according to a recent issue from U.S. News and World Report.

It’s surprising because this area has so many nursing homes and Bend has received positive national notice in recent years for its end-of-life care.

In a list that includes the top 24 nursing homes from around the state, places like Lakeview and Prairie City make the list, but nothing from Bend or Central Oregon.

In another list, the magazine lists nursing homes alphabetically and three from Bend make that list, based on 5-star ratings (1=worst, 5=best): Cascade View Nursing (3 stars), Harmony House Nursing Home (2 stars) and Pilot Butte Rehabilitation Center (4 stars).

Also on the list from Central Oregon are: Mountain View Living Center in Madras (2 stars), Ochoco Care Center in Prineville (4 stars) and Redmond Health Care Center (2 stars).

Check this link for more details about each nursing home:

“U.S. News rankings rely on Nursing Home Compare, a program run by the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services,” according to the magazine.

The rankings look at health inspections, nurse staffing and quality measures.

Details of each nursing home points out deficiencies in categories: administrative, environmental, mistreatment, nutrition/dietary and pharmacy.

For example, the Redmond Health Care Center posted 27 deficiencies. Oregon averages 8 deficiencies and the national average is 10.

Ochoco Care Center had just 2 deficiencies while Mountain View Living Center also only had 2.

In Bend, Pilot Butte Rehabilitation Center had 5 deficiencies, Harmony House had 8 and Cascade View Nursing had 5.

Yes, these rankings like the magazine’s rankings on colleges and high schools are flawed, as any ranking would be.

Still, there are no 5-star nursing homes in Central Oregon and that is not good.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Race to the top

Oregon has applied for a share of the $4.35 billion in grants that the government will award to states who are deemed worthy in the Race to the Top program.

The objective is to raise standards, prepare students to compete in the global economy and reward effective teachers. All well and good. Performance pay is coming to public education and the teachers’ unions are going to have to deal with it.

The way that performance will be based is on test scores. It seems simple enough. In fact, the simpletons at The (Bend) Bulletin wrote in an editorial: “Tying effectiveness to pay is common practice in many private businesses, and there’s no reason to believe it wouldn’t work as well in public schools.”

No reason?

Well, class is now in session. Be seated.

When a business receives poor or faulty raw materials or equipment, they send it back and shop elsewhere. In the public schools, when unprepared and ill-equipped students enter the public school system, they are not sent back home because home is likely worse than one can imagine. And, the school can’t buy better students. No, they’re stuck with what they have and most try to do the best they can to see that those kids succeed in life.

It’s a favorite pastime of the chattering class to dismiss public schools, because, afterall, the students are taught by union teachers. If the unions were gone, they believe, we would have the best schools in the universe. They’d be run like well-oiled businesses. It would be a “win-win” situation.

To those people, the response is: Please, grow up, get an education and then maybe you’ll learn that school is not a business. Children aren’t widgets and teachers aren’t millionaires. Until they are, schools will be schools and businesses will be businesses.

Class dismissed. Keep the apple.

Face(book) the music

Now that social networking giant Facebook is building a new data center in Prineville, it’s time to set aside the pom-poms for a minute.

First, a company with a net worth of $14 billion won’t have to pay $2.8 million a year in taxes. That $2.8 million will have to be made up somewhere and guess who gets the bill: the good people of Prineville, where unemployment leads the state at 17.4 percent. This is how business is done in America: shift the tax burden from those with the most to those with the least.

Yes, the estimated 200 construction jobs are needed right now and the money that is made by those workers will likely be spent in Central Oregon. Great. But, after a year, those jobs are gone forever and replaced with roughly 35 employees who will likely earn less than the construction workers. Further, it is unlikely that Facebook will hire many of those 35 from Prineville or Central Oregon or even Oregon because of the lack of “qualified” applicants.

And, those workers are not likely to live in Prineville where the public schools cannot afford extracurricular activities. No, those workers will likely commute from Redmond and possibly Bend.

Here’s hoping that Facebook becomes a contributing partner to the social fabric of Prineville and Central Oregon. It would be nice if they don’t merely exploit their deal in Prineville, but rather give back as much as they take from the region.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The United Corporation of America

Many Americans believe that “special interests” –- from insurance companies to oil conglomerates to pharmaceutical giants -- control the legislative process in this country. The Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision today allowing corporations to “spend freely” on presidential and congressional candidates unmasks our government. It is merely a corporate board.

The high court ruled that corporations can and should run America. Joining the American flag pin on most politicians suits will be logos for various corporations. And there were some who thought that NASCAR drivers’ jumpsuits were cluttered.

On one hand, we’ll know who owns whom on Capitol Hill. The buying of politicians will be more transparent. While corporations still can’t contribute directly to campaigns, they can run ads until the cows come home in favor of candidates who do their bidding.

In an understatement, dissenting Justice John Paul Stevens wrote, “The court’s ruling threatens to undermine the integrity of elected institutions around the nation.”

“Threatens to undermine?”

How about obliterate what was ever left of those institutions.

More and more Americans are disgusted with the two major political parties. That is why the ranks of independent voters are growing so rapidly. Today’s ruling will intensify this trend. Fewer Democrats and Republicans will be deciding in primaries who independents will elect in the general elections. The extreme elements of either party will be well represented.

The idea that corporations are now on equal footing with unions is preposterous. Unions represent less than 10 percent of the work force and their numbers are shrinking too. Union and corporate influence are not equal, not even close. Corporations run America. Period. Today's ruling makes this loud and clear.

Remember the slogan? What’s good for General Motors is good for the country.

And where is General Motors now? It’s where this country is headed.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Could tax measures pass?

According to a recent poll, Measures 66 and 67 could squeak by next Tuesday, Jan. 26.

This is shocking because Oregon is libertarian when it comes to taxes. The only statewide measures that pass are ones that reduce or shift the tax burden. A sales tax proposal has been shot down nine times over the years. The major newspapers, including The Oregonian, have railed against the measures, but with fewer subscribers than even a year ago, newspapers have much less influence over voters.

Still, with a week out, the negative side will bombard the airwaves and a defeat on both measures is more than likely.

The anti-tax crowd started to increase the frequency of their attacks this past weekend. The pro side is still there, but they’ve been consistent for a few weeks now. This strategy may pay off. Pollster Tim Hibbitts believes the measures will narrowly pass, but with his poll showing the negative side losing, it may spur those voters to get their ballots in. The anti-tax crowd wants all the necessary social services, but also lower and lower taxes. Hey, it's counter-intuitive, but that's their beliefs.

Measure 66 would increase taxes for household making more than $250,000 and single earners more than $125,000. This affects less than 3 percent of Oregon’s taxpayers. According to the poll, 52 percent say they favor it, while 39 percent do not.

Measure 67 increases corporate taxes, which haven’t been raised since 1931. Yes, the minimum tax, which many major corporations pay, is a mere $10. An effective ad says that banks charge more in one late fee than they pay in taxes. Surprisingly, the poll shows this one even closer with 50 percent in favor and 40 percent opposed.

What could turn the tide is the effect of the non-voter who believes that a double majority is required when, in fact, it is not.

As of Jan. 19, turnout stood at about 34 percent in Deschutes County, slightly above average for a special election. If non-voters sit on the sidelines this could prove pivotal as a swing of just 5,000 votes could be the difference.

Here’s hoping that potential “no” voters choose not to send in their ballots and the anti-tax crowd loses. That would be sweet.

It would not only stave off disastrous cuts to social services including schools, but also, more importantly, it would re-affirm the Legislature’s right to govern the state, even if it means higher taxes on those who can most afford them. If the naysayers don’t like it, they can vote in other Legislators next time around. It’s called democracy.

Terrorism in America

Another mass shooting rocks the country again, returning to Virginia, site of the nation’s worst mass killing at Virginia Tech. Apparently, a lone gunman murdered eight and injured one near Appomattox, the place, ironically, where the Civil War ended.

In late November, a parolee gunned down four police officers in suburban Seattle.

Earlier that month, an Army Major slaughtered 13 comrades at Fort Hood, Texas. The outrage then was not how this could happen or why this happened, but rather Americans argued whether or not to call the perpetrator a terrorist or not.

Does it really matter?


We live in a society that venerates gun ownership over all other rights. It’s not just hunting rifles that Americans revere, but semi-automatic handguns, assault weapons and “cop-killer” bullets too. It is rather hypocritical of Americans to excoriate other cultures or religions for being violent, when we live in the most violent society in the developed world.

There are roughly 30,000 deaths a year in this country due to firearms. Suicides account for a slight majority of the deaths with homicides making up most of the rest. Gun violence is the leading cause of death of youth in America. Also, there are about 200,000 injuries a year due to firearms. (On 9-11, nearly 3,000 Americans were killed by Islamic terrorists.)

The question isn’t how or why these mass killings happen, but rather, when or where will they occur again. It is a given that Americans have a high tolerance for wholesale slaughter by firearms. We are willing to accept these regular tragedies because we consider it the cost of freedom. The freedom to murder by handgun, for example, supersedes government attempts to minimize access to firearms, the Supreme Court ruled last year.

Such is the state of terrorism in America.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Obama’s first year

Considering the national and international disasters handed to him, President Obama’s first year is a success. Don’t know how to compare his initial year to other presidents’ first years, but only two other presidents faced anything remotely as devastating as Obama has. Obviously, Lincoln and FDR had the toughest jobs and did the best against such odds.

But, Obama’s job was tougher.

Unlike Lincoln, Obama was saddled with the worst economy since the Great Depression of the 1930s. And, it’s not merely a national problem but a global one. Lincoln was not the leader of world in 1861. Obama is clearly the leader of the world today. Obama not only stabilized this terrible economy, he has it poised to rebound. On the international front, Obama has restored respect for America that was wiped away by the previous incompetent administration.

And unlike FDR, Obama was given the command of two unconventional wars that have no easy answers. On the war front, Obama has not found his footing. Yes, he is winding down the catastrophe of Iraq, but he has expanded the effort in Afghanistan where success cannot be measured and will likely bring us into neighboring Pakistan’s problems. What is needed to end our occupations of these foreign lands is utilizing our technology in disrupting terrorists’ networks from the ground and from the sky. Unmanned drones are essential in this fight. We need to get our troops out of these countries and into other areas, like Haiti, where progress can be measured.

Unlike all previous presidents, Obama has endured more death threats, by far. His predecessor faced roughly 3,000 threats a year, while Obama has seen more 18,000. There are many right wingnuts who are hoping and praying that Obama is assassinated. Hate radio and Fox News are doing their best to destroy Obama. After today’s projected loss of the Democratic senate seat in Massachusetts, the anti-Obama crowd will be emboldened. Obama will never be able to unify a nation where so many want him dead. In that way, he is like Lincoln. Terrorism will never defeat the United States, but right-wing hatred has a good shot at it.

Obama’s presidency won’t get any easier and here’s hoping he becomes more combative with his adversaries here at home and comes out swinging in his second year.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Tumbling into the tween years

Okay, the new decade is almost three weeks old, with nothing new to say in over a month. Two reasons: holidays and illness. It’s not like the dog ate my homework or anything.

Still, a few catch-up items:

The state of Oregon officially informed Bend that it doesn’t know much how to handle its own growth. The city of Bend’s planning department has long been considered a bad joke throughout the state’s planning circles. The city was probably hoping the state would slap down its expansion plans because large landowners and developers heavily influenced those plans which include little about a feasible way of expanding sewer, road and water capacity. The city did admit that its sewer system is woefully inadequate with only one “plant interceptor line” serving the entire city and “is showing signs of failure.”

And the city wants to expand this mess?

The city got into this predicament by approving any and all development without a single “public facilities strategy.” Consequently, the city is faced with crumbling public facilities with at least $500 million needed to meet current demand. The building industry put the city in the position of needing to tax everyone for the benefit of the few builders/developers who caused this mess. It’s known as “up yours, neighbor.”

Another item worth noting is the canard that Oregon isn’t friendly to business so therefore it has less stable revenue to sustain growth. But, the “friendliness” factor isn’t related to taxes. Oregon rates as one of the top 10 best states in which to do business because of its low overall tax burden. But, the flip side to this attractiveness is that the state invests less and less each year to schools, roads, sewers and water so that businesses decide to locate to states who care about such things, particularly higher education. Yes, many editorialists and business leaders wring their hands about how important higher education is to future development in Oregon. But, these same “leaders” don’t think we should have to pay for such things through taxes or borrowing. Somehow, if they whine enough they seem to think the state will get what it wants. Such inaction has produced an economic climate with high unemployment and will soon get higher with the failure of two tax measures this month.

Which leads to my last item: Oregon appears ready to spiral further downward with the projected rejection of the tax measures on Jan. 26. Almost all statewide tax measures fail and there is no reason to believe these will pass. The one glimmer of hope: Many Oregonians may believe that the double majority requirement is in play during this election meaning that non-voters have double the impact. In fact, no double majority is required and the non-voters could end up allowing the measures to pass. That would be a delicious irony and I hope it plays out this way, much as the COCC bond measure did last fall. The people who don’t participate in their democracy by choosing not to vote don’t deserve to even have the right to vote.