Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Rajaratnam guilty

We all knew he did it, right?  Plus, this does not seem like the best time to advance the "it happens all the time on Wall Street" argument.  In listening to wiretaps, it is easy to believe that Rajaratnam did not really believe that he was doing anything wrong.  While it is arguably the biggest insider trading case in history, it is only the tip of the iceberg, and it takes two people to exchange information illegally.  It is not at all apparent that the larger participants in this scheme, like Goldman Sachs, will be held accountable.

School Bond Decision

There are two bond measures up our vote next week in Multco.  One is a construction bond which has been getting the majority of the attention.  Here is a detailed Oregonian article about what that will cost.  Here is the raw data for the construction bond expenditures.  I like that chart, because it breaks the project down by total cost and cost per square foot.  

The other measure is an operating levy, which will fund teacher's salaries.  It has not been getting as much attention.  One group proposes a yes vote on the operating levy, and a no vote on the bond.  The levy is really a separate issue from the bond.  Here is a detailed explanation of the levy.  The purpose of the levy is to save about 450 teaching jobs which would otherwise be cut because the State cut funding.  It comes at a cost of $57 million a year.  

These are two tough decisions given the economic climate.  The levy seems like an easy yes vote, though.  The economic and social impact of cutting teaching jobs right now seems devastating.  The bond measure is harder to justify, given its expense, but it does contain necessary repairs.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Portland chefs win more awards

This time Andy Ricker of Pok Pok and Gabriel Rucker of Le Pigeon took home James Beard awards for excellence in cooking.

PDC promises to expand small business loan program

The Portland Development Commission offers matching small business loans to companies in growth sectors who have secured loans from other banks.  Except it doesn't, having not given a single loan to a single company under this program in the last year and a half.  Now they are saying, they may actually expand the program.

ACS:Law pleads poverty

The embattled British copyright troll is claiming it does not have the money to pay government fines.

Portland herpes suit

Sex tort expert Randy Vogt has filed a $1.1 million lawsuit on behalf of woman alleging that a former sex partner intentionally infected her with herpes.

Negative Equity Abounds

Zillow put together this report on houses with negative equity.  It is a lot of them.

Fight over Hayden Island dumping

Jack Bogdanski offers this report the coming battle over whether or not West Hayden Island can be developed for industry, environmental are against it, the port loves it, and the politician love both the port and appearing to care about the environment.  Let the games begin!

Mexican drug war bloodier still

Mexico's growing civil unrest over the drug trade is increasing, with April, 2011 being the deadliest month in the country on record

Dennis Kucinich to move to Tacoma

Dennis Kucinich is most likely losing his district when the Ohio Congressional map is redrawn.  He intimated that he may be running in Tacoma in a speech there on Friday.

Largest ever asbestos verdict

A Mississippi jury has awarded damages of $322 million, the largest ever in an asbestos case.  The case will certainly be appealed.

More bad news for Righthaven

A criminal justice blog (probably not the low hanging fruit Righthaven was looking for) has successfully demonstrated that Righthaven is not the actual owner of the copyright it sued the blog for infringing.

Portland finally has an audit of housing discrimination, and it is not good

This audit found that discrimination is a very prevalent problem in the Portland rental market.  Commissioner Nick Fish is recommending education of landlords as well enforcement to rectify the problem.

EA wins victory in case regarding college athletes' likenesses

For a long time, Electronic Arts has released college sports video games with the exact likenesses of certain college athletes but not their names.  Recently, a federal court has upheld this practice as not a violation of the player's privacy.

Oregon House votes to change the inheritance tax

The Oregon House changed the exemption from state's inheritance tax from $1 million to $1.5 million.  This means that only inheritances greater than $1.5 million a person would be taxed.

Biggest Spamigation suit to date

Dunlap, Grubb, and Weaver are going after the largest group of alleged downloaders ever, for downloading the Expendables.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Reed still can't get sexual harassment policy right

The college is back in the O for this issue.

2 Live Crew sues CNET

A group of copyright holders have sued CNET for making Limewire available.  The theory is that by allowing people to download Limewire they are encouraging copyright infringement.  If this were to be successful, it would represent a paradigm shift in copyright law in the US.

Oregon to get $2 million in bond fraud settlement

Attorney General Kroger got a piece of the $90 million settlement with UBS AG for illegal bond practices.  The money will go to bond issuers, including municipalities and educational institutions.  And then, for some reason, he warned us not to download bin Laden videos.

Plesner beats back LV again

Clancco reports that a Dutch Court has thrown out Louis Vitton's latest copyright infringement suit against artist Nadia Plesner.

Oregon Congress Round-up

Today we had the house voted to make some small changes regarding the driving and calling or texting.  They also are going to raise the bottle fee deposit to a dime, and the Senate also approved the tax reform that went through the House yesterday.

Judge finally gets it in Spamigation suits

A judge has finally realized that an IP address is different from a person.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Feds sue Deutsche Bank

The US Government has filed a lawsuit today against Deutsche Bank alleging that a division of the bank made almost 40,000 home loans with federal money without making meaningful inquiry into whether the recipients could repay the loans.  The lawsuit was filed under the False Claims Act, which allows the government to collect triple damages against the bank.

Oregon insurance division can't stomach 22% rate increase from Blue Cross

The regulatory agency is holding a hearing on June 2 for public comment on Blue Cross Blue Shield's proposed rate increase for almost 60,000 of its customers.

Bleak food news

Today more scholastic research came out on the prevalence of anti-biotic resistant staph in meat in American grocery stores, and the FDA is recalling cherry tomatoes for salmonella.  Bon Appetit!

Oregon City next battle ground for urban renewal

Jack Bogdanski points out that the newest urban renewal battleground in the Portland Metro Area may be in Oregon City.  The Blue Heron Paper Company, an integral part of Oregon City's history, is being dismantled in a Chapter 11 Bankruptcy.  However, the real question is what is going to happen the company's real estate in and around Oregon City.  Local officials are starting to make urban renewal noise, so let's see what happens.

Berlin to be sued for copyright infringement

Clancco reports that the City of Berlin is about to be sued for copyright infringement for some murals the city allegedly bought at lower than market value prices by threatening to forge the works if the artists did not take the deal.

Oregon Congress Round-up

Our friends in Salem keep pressing forward.  Tax reform of both the kicker tax and a lowering of Oregon's capital gains rate is going ahead.  The House is working on two farming bills, one which would exempt small poultry farms from government oversight and one which would create government oversight of honey producers.   And then, of course, some fluff, a bill which makes it a violation to file a false report regarding child abuse, which as the O reports, is already a violation (for filing a false report).

Monday, May 2, 2011

H & M to open third Portland location

H & M really loves us.  We got a flagship store downtown in November, another one in Washington Square Mall in February, and now it is coming to Clackamas Town Center.  Alright, H & M is now available for Portlanders who do not like paying for parking!

McCormick and Schmicks for sale, just not to Fertitta

Laura Gunderson at the O continues to follow the saga unfolding with Portland's largest restaurant chain.  The embattled company has now announced that it is for sale to the highest bidder, as long as that bidder is not named Tilman Fertitta.

New streaming technology?

Torrentfreak offers this review of a new bittorrent powered tool for streaming video called SPARKD.  In short it allows for decentralized, anonymous, video streaming, which, if accurate, will almost certainly lead to much mayhem.  The technology looks nifty, to say the least.  Basically, as people watch a video through an embedded viewer, they will simultaneously seed the video for other viewers.  This would allow citizen journalists in remote parts of the world to get their video's out to the rest of the planet without needing a lot of bandwidth, for example.

Big purchase for Portland Parks

The City of Portland just announced plans to purchase 146 acres between River View Cemetery, Macadam Blvd. and Lewis and Clark College for a park.  It cost the city about $11.5 million to get the land, and it will be subject to a conservation easement, ensuring that it won't be developed.

Obama administration creating a gross revenue cap for S Corporations

The Obama administration announced a working plan to cap the gross receipts of an S Corporation at $50 million.  This is important, because an S Corp is a so-called pass through entity, meaning the entity does not pay any tax.  Under this proposal if a business generates over $50 million in revenue, it would have to be a C Corporation, meaning it would pay tax.

This is likely to be a key component in any tax reform for the US's corporate tax system which does not cost the US Government a significant amount of tax revenue.

EFF offers a good synopsis of the FBI's attempts to get on your computer

Read it here.

A few interesting legislative highlights from the last week

They are still debating doing away with the kicker.  Really?  I didn't think that was a hard choice.  Well, they didn't actually do away with it, but the House voted for it to be a line on your tax return, instead of an actual check.  This will apparently save the state millions in not writing and mailing the checks.  Of course, it is all a moot point, since the kicker requires to state to have a budget surplus, so don't hold your breath.

The house is also considering requiring banks to maintain foreclosed homes, as opposed to just letting them become looted eyesores.

And then today, the Senate gave us this, a bill which exempts large enough wineries (130 acres or more) from any additional licensing requirements to operate restaurants on the premises.  Several Senators are crying foul, stating that this law is just a naked give away to Oregon's four largest wineries.