About John Charles

President and CEO

If Only Capitalists Weren’t So Boring: Andrew Revkin on the politics of global warming

John A. Charles, Jr.

New York Times science writer Andrew Revkin spoke in Portland on January 17th as the kick-off speaker in Illahee’s 2007 lecture series, Money Talks: Wealth, Politics and the Environment. According to the sponsors, the premise for the lecture series is that:

“The second half of the 20th century saw rapid economic growth coupled with unprecedented human domination of earth’s biological systems. While billions of people saw their living conditions improve, the lion’s share of the benefits accrued to developed nations, and within those nations, to a small percentage of the population. Market economies have driven this wealth creation, but have not solved the problems of massive poverty and environmental degradation.
“Why do free markets and political democracy struggle to provide the mix of economic well being, equity, and environmental amenities that most people desire?”

In fact, free markets do a pretty remarkable job of providing these very things, but a Portland-based environmental group wouldn’t last long admitting that.

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Portland’s highway system: there is no there there

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

The Federal Highway Administration has apparently reached its limit with Portland’s fantasy transportation planning. In comments filed recently on Metro’s so-called “Regional Transportation Plan”, the federal government noted that, “it’s difficult to find the transportation focus” in the plan.

Many motorists stuck in our worsening traffic would agree. Metro’s plan places little emphasis on

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Forward into the Past

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

This week TriMet began construction on its next light-rail project which will shut down the Portland transit mall for two years while tracks are laid from Union Station to Portland State University. This is viewed as a great leap forward by government planners, but it’s a step backwards for the rest of us.

The current transit mall is highly

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Wake up and Smell the Ammonia

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

In another one of its hyper-ventilating editorials on global warming, The Oregonian today criticized the Bush administration. According to the Portland daily, the administration has refused to require the auto and trucking industries to curtail “the greenhouse gas emissions that an overwhelming number of scientists assert are the major cause of global warming.”

However, a new report from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization shows

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The Market has Spoken: Light Rail Can’t Compete

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

The most recent downtown employer survey by the Portland Business Alliance contains important news for taxpayers. It shows that light rail’s market share for downtown commuters dropped by 30% over the past five years. Considering that TriMet actually opened two new rail lines during that period, this is a stunning decline in ridership.

In 2001, 20% of downtown employees traveled to work by light rail. By 2005 that had dropped to

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Metro's Natural Area Bond Measure: Open Space for Whom?

John A. Charles, Jr.Open Spaces


Metro has placed a $227.4 million bond measure on the ballot for the November general election (Measure 26-80). If approved, the measure would provide financing for the purchase of natural areas throughout the region, along with a limited number of capital improvement projects in local parks and neighborhoods. According to Metro, this measure builds on the success of the 1995 open space bond measure, which raised $135.6 million in revenues that were used to buy 8,130 acres of natural areas.

Metro’s open space program has received widespread editorial support from local newspapers. Much of the support stems from the popular perception that

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Metro’s Natural Area Bond Measure: Open Space for Whom?

John A. Charles, Jr.Cascade Commentary


Metro’s $227.4 million bond measure on the ballot this November (Measure 26-80) would provide financing for the purchase of natural areas throughout the region, along with a limited number of capital improvement projects in local parks and neighborhoods. However, those who feel that the region needs more public access to natural areas, closer to where people actually live, may find the Metro measure to be a poor investment.

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Ending Hybrid Welfare

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

Federal tax credits for hybrid-electric vehicles manufactured by Toyota will be cut in half this weekend, because Toyota has reached the ceiling of 60,000 subsidized vehicles that Congress established in 2005. The tax credit for the popular Prius will drop from $3,150 to $1,575, and in April 2007 the credit will be halved again to $787. After October of next year, no federal tax credits will be available for the Prius, though they will likely still be available for other brands such as Ford or Chevrolet.

This is a welcome phase-out of wasteful subsidy.

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