corporations

Former Top Enron Energy Trader Funds 69% of Measure 90 Campaign (Top Two Primary)

Manipulating energy markets was not enough
Now the agenda is manipulating Oregon's elections

Update:  John Arnold has ponied up another $275,000, making his total Measure 90 contribution = $1.75 million.

Former top-level Enron energy trader John Arnold has now contributed $1,500,000 to a new political committee, the "Open Primaries Committee." Arnold doubled his previous $500,000 contribution two weeks before with another $1,000,000 contribution just filed today. The Committee's only mission is to support Measure 90, the "top two" primary plan backed by corporations and the wealthy.

John Arnold made his mark on society as one of the top managers of the Enron energy trading operation. That was the bunch who caused the phony "West Coast Energy Crisis" of 2000-2002 with fraudulent trades, resulting in rolling blackouts and huge electricity rate increases. Later studies showed that it cost the California economy alone over $42 billion. For its impact on Oregon, see Enron Corruption: The Special Oregon Connection.

John Arnold is Measure 90's biggest financial backer, by far. Of the total raised to support Measure 90 between its two committees ($2,189,719 so far), John Arnold personally has contributed 69% of it.

"Burn, baby, burn. That's a beautiful thing." That is what Enron traders were recorded as saying as a fire approached a major transmission line, because it caused the line to be "derated" or shut off, thus drastically increasing electricity prices. See this New York Times article: Word for Word? Energy Hogs: Enron Traders on Grandama Millie and Making Out Like Bandits for more information. Or remember this from the Enron energy traders:

"They're f------g taking all the money back from you guys?" complains an Enron employee on the tapes. "All the money you guys stole from those poor grandmothers in California?"

"Yeah, grandma Millie, man"

"Yeah, now she wants her f------g money back for all the power you've charged right up, jammed right up her ass for f------g $250 a megawatt hour." [emphasis added]

See the CBS News article Enron Traders Caught on Tape.

John Arnold received a $8 million bonus in 2001, one day before Enron declared bankruptcy. In his 2005 deposition, he took the 5th Amendment and refused to answer any questions, except basically his name. He formed a hedge fund, Centaurus Advisors LLC, and hired, among others, John Forney, who had pled guilty to manipulating electricity prices from Enron's now-defunct trading office in Portland, Oregon. See the CBS News piece Enron Energy Trader Pleads Guilty.

For more information on why Measure 90 is bad for Oregon (but somehow apparently good for former Enron energy traders) see:

Save Oregon's Democracy
Protect Our Vote

Koch Brothers Provide Significant Funding to Top Two Primary (Measure 90) Supporters

Oregon Progressive Party Press Release: 9/16/2014

The Koch brothers, through their firm Koch Industries, are providing significant funding to a major supporter of Measure 90, the top two primary proposal.

The political committee of Associated Oregon Industries (AOI PAC, ID #10) reported on September 3 receiving a $10,000 contribution from Koch Industries.  The AOI PAC on September 2 reported giving a $50,000 contribution to Vote Yes on Measure 90 (ID #17001), making it at that time the largest financial backer of the measure.  It was later topped by the $60,000 contribution from the Oregon Association of Hospitals and Health Administrators.

Koch Industries, at $25,000, is the third largest aggregate contributor to the AOI PAC, behind only Daimler Trucks LLC and ESCO Corp.

"The Koch brothers join a parade of corporations, corporate executives, and big-time financiers in bankrolling Measure 90," said Seth Woolley of the Pacific Green Party.  "They correctly perceive Measure 90 as a way for the corporations to control Oregon."

The largest contributors to the Yes on Measure 90 PAC are:

More Comments on Proposed "Portland Water District"

by Dan Meek
5/3/2014

This is also posted at http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2014/05/portland_public_water_district_8.html.

I just received a very misleading big postcard from the "yes" campaign on this measure. Nearly every statement in the postcard has already been refuted in my op-ed at http://tinyurl.com/meek-oped-water or is otherwise untrue or misleading.

The postcard shows a desert and says "Phoenix has lower water rates than Portland." First, a comparison of "water rates" alone leaves out the elements that comprise most of the "water" bills, which are charges for sewer and stormwater disposal. Second, there are many cities with lower water rates than Portland and many cities with higher water + disposal rates, including just on the west coast (for typical residential usage levels): Seattle, San Francisco, San Diego, and Oakland. See Black & Veatch, 50 Largest Cities Water/Wastewater Rate Survey (2012/2013).

But if you want to look at just water rates, the same survey shows that Portland has lower commercial water rates than even Phoenix, whether the customer is using 100,000 gallons or 10 million gallons per month.

The postcard claims that Portland "water rates have risen 161% since 2000." There is no source cited for this, and I can locate nothing that supports it apart from a USA Today article in September 2012, which also states that water rates during that period have risen in San Francisco by 211% and San Diego by 141%. The article itself states: "Local water costs vary widely because of geography, climate, population, a water company's borrowing costs and other factors. That makes it virtually impossible to compare one city's water costs to another's."

Oregon Politicians on Their Knees to Nike

David Delk brings us this cogent summary of the latest example of the difference between Democrats and Republicans. As Ralph Nader says, it is "the velocities with which their knees hit the floor when corporations knock on their door."  The Oregon Center for Public Policy documented that the tax break Nike wants to be continued--on a guaranteed basis--reduces its Oregon state corporate income taxes by 95%.  Because the Oregon Constitution requires taxation to be uniform, this guaranteed tax break would have to apply to all corporations, at least to any corporation making a $150 million investment in Oregon property over the next 5 years.  Under the proposed bill, the contractually-guaranteed tax break would last from 5 to 40 years.

The Oregonian front page story on Tuesday was about the special session of the Oregon legislature called by the governor for passage of special protection of Nike from changes in the certain aspects of the Oregontax code for the next five years.  Local activist Michael Munk dubbed it the Nike Corporate Welfare Law (read his blog statement here).  The Oregonian article noted that there were critics of the move but only quoted the Oregon Center of Public Policy in a single paragraph.  So much for fair and balanced reporting. 

Oregon Center for Public Policy later issued their own response in an email titled:  A Highly Dubious Assumption in the Governors Proposed Nike Deal.  It is available on line here.   Nike appears to be afraid that because the Oregon legislature might rework some tax policy, their special tax adjustment worked out with the Oregon legislature a decade or so ago in which only the in-state sales would be used as the basis for calculating the income tax owed to the state of Oregon might be changed. They say they want "certainty."  Previously, the rate was based on value of company property in Oregon, total number of employees and total company sales around the world.  With the passage of the Single-Sales Factor, Nike and other companies doing most of their business out-of-state (Intel, Precision Castparts, Boeing, Columbia Sportwear, for instance) received a very, very, very big tax break and we were left with decreasing tax revenues to pay for teachers, senior services, parks and other state services.  Nike is part of that chorus of business that likes to remind us of the importance of having a educated population that they can hire even as they do their best to lower the taxes they pay.

And note that we don't know how much taxes Nike paid before receiving the generous tax break or how much they pay now.  All such information is private and not to be disclosed of us or legislators.

The draft legislation to be considered is available here

Please contact your state Representative and Senator and demand that they vote no on this.  And further, that they change the law to require disclosure of corporate tax reports. Find your representative and senator here.

FDR Welcomes the Hatred of Corporate Leaders

Listen to this 1 minute clip of Franklin Roosevelt, seeking re-election in 1936. Then try to imaging Barack Obama saying anything remotely similar.

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