Sunday, November 29, 2009

"it makes me think"
Says County commissioner who is charged with a tax that he created

The Oregonian --

Commissioner Roy Rogers from Tigard, who has been a Commissioner since 1985 understands all too well why there are "system development charges" for parks and schools, electrical, mechanical and building permit fees as he was one of the individuals who was responsible for implementing and voting for increases of these fees.

"Government needs money and I don't take any exception to that."

However, as the old saying goes, "the shoe is now on the other foot." When Mr. Rogers decided it was time to replace cubicles with offices at his accounting firm, he got a taste of his own medicine that business owners face when they try to build or expand.

$6,700 traffic impact fee... $700 wastewater fee for a $700 sink installation.

The traffic impact fee, Rogers voted to create it in 1990 and since then has approved annual increases to it. Needless to say that he was startled when he learned how much the fee was especially since his expansion wouldn't be adding any new people or cars.

He began to wonder why projects like this that don't add any road wear and tear should be of such a large sum. welcome to the real world Mr. Rogers, government normally doesn't have to justify their reasons.

"I'm really mixed on this thing," he said. "It's an imperfect system."

and then there is this little bar sink in his office for tossing out guests coffee or pop. The sink plus the installation costs was about $700. The Clean Water Service Charges ended up to be $700 including a $50 processing fee.

Rogers who approved the sewer agencies fee amount each year because he and other county commissioners double as its board of directors, knows that the money is supposed to help pay for the burden added to the wastewater system, however, he didn't realize it would be that high for a sink that he uses once a month.
"wow, that seems a little unusual," said Rogers

And Mr. Rogers gets another dose of reality when he discovers that there is a $1217.32 lien on his property. The lien itself was for $360 of uncompensated labor and materials with the balance being for fees such as a $500 lien fee, $300 title report a $52 recording fee and a five dollar finance charge.

Mr. Rogers told his general contractor that he paid everything that was owed him. The contractor agreed. However, the company had subcontracted some of the work out and had a dispute with the subcontractor and therefore did not pay the bill. The subcontractor instead of sending a revised bill, put a lien on Rogers property.

State law directs subcontractors if they wish to file a lien to place it against the property owner's property, even if the balance had been paid in full to the original contractor.

get me out of this," Mr. Rogers told the contractor, which had his insurance coming takeover so Rogers would be off the hook

Rogers is glad that he got a firsthand look at the process and even though he now has a better idea of what they mean, he still stands by his vote.

"We get isolated a bit," he said of elected officials. "We're all trying to do the right thing. But what's the right thing? There's nothing wrong with debating issues and saying ,'Is it flexible enough?

A tax they came back to bite its owner. This is hilarious, a county commissioner got to experience first-hand of the consequences that a little tax here and a little taxpayer, "it's only a penny or two increase" no big deal really starts to add up.

$700 tax for a $700 sink. The same reason why a lot of people have moved away from their home phones where their taxes and fees have reached beyond the 55% of the bill.

As Mr. Rogers stated, "government needs money...", and I do not disagree with him. However, the government needs to learn how to spend more wisely. Just like the rest of us has to, if we wish to survive.

The attitude that we need money for projects, and all we have to do is pass a tax or fee increase to get the money for those projects, Mr. Rogers is correct, they do get a bit isolated from the source of the money and the impact that it has.

So Mr. Rogers, I do not feel sorry for you one bit. In fact, I think it's wonderful that you actually got a taste of your own medicine. And I hope that you take that knowledge and use it wisely.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Want Something Done in Eugene?
Send The City Council Anonymous Information

Robin's commentary --

USA Today

When I saw this article from USA Today, I think I spent a good five minutes just laughing.

The article itself brings up a very interesting point on the issue of crime in downtown Eugene.
"The Oregon Criminal Justice Commission says between 2007 and 2008, violent crime in Eugene was up 16.4 percent and property crime was up 25.8 percent. Crime rates in both categories dropped in Portland, Salem and nationwide."

To those of us who have lived in Eugene area for some time, are totally aware of the problems that plague Eugene and the downtown mall. Hell, there's no way I'll go to the downtown mall especially after dark. The fact that crime is on the rise in Eugene is nothing new to us. And not surprising that that is what's happening. I constantly remind people on this blog about the DA there will times publicly announcing which crimes that he will not prosecute.

I mean, how stupid can you get?

And of course the consequences for game playing like this over their budget woes will only result in opening Pandora's box in crime that we may not be able to close.

We as citizens have been complaining for a long time about the lack of police coverage in the Eugene area, and our concerns always fall on deaf ears.

"We don't have the money in the budget..." as we would constantly hear as a city builds another skateboard park, bike-path or some other nonessential project.

The humorous part of this whole thing is not so much that there is a high crime in the City of Eugene, it's how people have gone about getting the city Council's attention to look into it.

Not too long ago in the news, headlines were made when an anonymous group that photographs of some of the crimes and garbage in the downtown mall area. It got their attention.

Monday was the councilors' first opportunity to discuss the topic since an anonymous citizens group called the Eugene Advocates sent e-mails and photos of public drunkenness and other downtown ills.

to my knowledge, this is the second time that an anonymous group has formed and received the Eugene city Council attention. unfortunately, I cannot remember the name of that group which is formed by a bunch of businessmen in the area. Council of nine? Council of 11, something like that.

The point is, it doesn't matter when the people are mad, or lobby, or demand a public vote on it, if you want something done in Eugene, it's proof positive that all you have to do if form some type of an anonymous group and your issue will be heard.

and finally according to the article, "The Eugene city Council is debating on proper balance between providing social services and law enforcement."

Well, if anyone of the Eugene city Council members has ever had their house broken into or their car stolen like I have, I think that would be a very easy decision to make on their part.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

we take for granted how merchandise gets to the stores...


This story for me is a little bit closer to home because until a few days ago, I was driving one of these big rig's for this company.

Edward A. French, 45, of Long Beach, Calif., was pronounced dead at the scene after losing control of his rig and crashing into a caretaker's house at a rest stop.

"Fortunately, one of the subjects could see the trailer coming and told everybody in the backyard to run," said DPS Officer Roger Hansen

Several people suffered non-life-threatening injuries and were airlifted to the hospital.

Investigators said it doesn't appear as though the driver fell asleep at the wheel however, he may have had a medical episode like a heart attack or stroke. Final determination is still under investigation.

it's a hard life being out on the road driving a truck. Drivers are pushed to the limit to make sometimes unreasonable deadlines and try to stay in compliance with DOT regulations which can weigh heavy fines on both the driver and the company if the hours of service HOS are violated.

For those that are unfamiliar with the hours of service laws, a driver may not drive any longer than 11 hours in a 14 hour day. The driver is required to take a 10 hour break to restart the 14 hour clock. No driver may be on duty more than 70 hours in one week without taking 34 hours off to reset the 70 hour clock.

So sometimes, just like the lawsuit a long time ago with Domino's pizza, you remember the advert that "if it's not there within 30 minutes, it's free" well, the driver pays for that pizza. In the case of dominoes, one driver got into an accident and sued Domino's for being placed under such pressure to make the delivery on time that he got careless and got into an accident.

The same goes for the trucking industry, except that if you violate the rules it becomes very expensive.

Did you ever wonder why some time you will see a truck parked near a offramp? Chances are, he ran out of hours for the day and was forced to pull over and stop, despite the fact that there may be a rest area or truck stop 30 minutes away, he faces heavy fines if he continues to drive.

I know we all take it for granted, I am just as guilty. Truckers especially starting out, spend weeks away from their family, make very little money (I was making $.30 a mile... not very much when you consider the time involved) and are under a lot of stress to stay within compliance and to make the delivery on time, in addition to the stress that is involved anyways when driving a 70 foot vehicle in heavy traffic.

So next time you go to the store, pause for a moment and give some thought of just how the merchandise got to the store, and think about the men and women that brought it there.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

life happens...

Robin's Commentary --

Once again, I have to apologize to my faithful readers for not keeping up with the postings. A lot has been happening in my life and in my families. We are struggling with a family member who has recently developed cancer and I myself just got through recovering from emergency gallbladder surgery.

Normally as a rule on this blog, I try not to get too much into my personal life, however, there is a little quandary of a bureaucracy that I thought I would share.

This has to do with unemployment insurance. (And don't panic, this is not from Oregon believe it or not)

Shortly after my gallbladder surgery, the company that I am working for would not allow me to return to work until after my doctor released me for full duty. This would take approximately 2 months. in addition, that meant two months without income and medical bills without insurance. Ouch!

So I had this brainy idea of calling the unemployment department and asking them if there is any possibility of getting some financial assistance during the time that I was not allowed to return to work. My thinking was, that if you are doing a job search, and you land a job however that job will not start for a couple weeks, typically they will allow you to collect unemployment and not have to do a job search during that waiting time for the job.

so I figured that the situation could be considered similar and it wouldn't hurt to ask. So I called the unemployment office and said, "I am on medical leave and was wondering if there is any possibility of getting any financial assistance during this time? I have a definite return date." Their response was, "yes, there is a good chance that you can get assistance. I will go ahead and reopen your account and you need to start doing a job search." Cool, I thought. This would definitely help since I'm going about two months plus without income.

So I went ahead restarted my job search and got a letter from the unemployment office stating that my account was reopened and I should start receive benefits unless there were extraordinary circumstances.

09 voluntary quit

I logged into my account and that is what I discovered.

09 voluntary quit -- benefits are denied until you make $3500


Who said I quit?

I made some phone calls and they said that the only way that I could get that changed was to file an appeal. So I did.

The hearing was held over the phone with the arbitrator, myself and my current employer (you know, the one that I allegedly quit)

My employer had testified in writing that I was still employed with company and that I was on medical leave due to my gallbladder, and was expected to return to work on the release date.

I had also in my testimony and in writing explained the same situation.

You would think it would be a no-brainer.

Let's see, the claimant states that she did not quit, and the employer confirms that accusation. So logically speaking, the facts indicate that the claimant was and still is currently employed and therefore the classification of 09 voluntary quit is in error.


After hearing testimony for approximately 15 minutes, two days later the arbitrator upheld the ruling of 09 voluntary quit.

Again, I made a few more phone calls to the unemployment office. I talked to the arbitrator's supervisor who tried to explain to me that a classification of a voluntary quit is. His definition was that any time you are not receiving a salary from your employer unless you are laid off or fired is considered leaving the company voluntarily.

Okay... so if I understand this correctly being rushed to the hospital, having surgery to remove my gallbladder, not allowed to return to work for almost 2 months because of the aforementioned gallbladder surgery equals a voluntary quit... right!

I have the right to appeal the arbitrator's decision, and that may happen.

In the meantime, this is just another example of government taking things too extreme and out of context on something that could've been very easily remedied.

So let's go back in time for a moment and see how it should have gone.

Robin: "I am out on medical leave for two months is there any possibility of receiving any assistance since there is still some money in my account?"

Unemployment office: "I can reopen your claim, however, since you will be away from your employer for an extended length of time, it may show on your record as a voluntary quit, which could mean that..."

Robin: "oh, okay. No thank you, I was just asking."


I have posted in the comments section the results of the decision and the reason for the decision.