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

John A. Charles, Jr.Cascade Commentary

Summary

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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A Teachable Moment: Leveraging Oregon’s School Trust Lands

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

Oregon owns a billion dollars worth of agricultural and timber land that is supposed to be generating funds for public schools. Much of it is in eastern and southwestern Oregon, and was deeded to Oregon from the federal government at the time of statehood in 1859. By law, these lands must be managed to generate maximum revenue for schools over the long term.

Unfortunately, the lands only earn

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Eminent Domain is Never the Solution

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard wants the government to use its power of eminent domain to take property from one set of owners in SE Portland and transfer it to some others, in the hope that they will build an upscale supermarket. Commissioner Leonard believes that the lack of development on a four-acre parcel in the Lents neighborhood is evidence of market failure, which justifies government intervention.

Many local property owners object, but

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The School Soda Scam

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

The American Beverage Association announced last week that it has worked with the William J. Clinton Foundation and the American Heart Association to develop guidelines for the sale of healthier drinks in schools. The guidelines cap the number of calories available in beverages in schools at 100 per container, except for certain milks and juices, beginning in the 2009-2010 school year.

While this is being marketed as a

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Tobacco Tax Revenues: Oregon’s New Addiction

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

The State of Oregon sued tobacco companies this week to recover more money under the 1998 Master Settlement Agreement (MSA). That agreement, signed by Oregon and 45 other states, requires the four largest tobacco companies to pay specified amounts each year to the settling states, ostensibly as reimbursement for the costs of treating smoking-related illnesses.

However, each state is free to

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Anaheim, a Free-Market Laboratory

John A. Charles, Jr.QuickPoint!

The massive cost overruns on the aerial tram have been a source of much embarrassment to the Portland city council recently, but problems with the South Waterfront project go far beyond the tram. The city also has a major funding shortfall for other infrastructure projects in the district, including the greenway, road improvements, subsidized housing and the streetcar extension. As local elected officials stagger from one crisis to the next, it’s clear that they don’t have a solution.

Fortunately, we can learn a few lessons by

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