Friday, December 28, 2012

Priority work: Get rid of the Death Penalty before it bankrupts us

The death penalty is dying a slow and lingering death. Unfortunately, there are still people in our state who want to keep it on life support.

With your help, we can put it out of its misery.

Here are the facts for the past year: 

In Oregon: 

  • No one was executed;
  • No one was sentenced to death; and
  • Five death sentences were overturned on appeal.
In the United States:
  • Only nine states conducted an execution, and over 3/4 of the nation's 43 executions took place in just four states: Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi and Arizona;
  • A projected 78 death sentences have been or will be handed down nationally, about the same as last year, down from a high of 315 in 1996; 2011 and 2012 are the first years since reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976 that there have been fewer than 100 new death sentences;
  • Connecticut repealed its death penalty, becoming the fifth state to do so in five years; California voters narrowly lost a ballot measure election to do the same;
  • Despite the reduction in executions and death sentences, murder rates continued to drop substantially, confirming research findings that the death penalty has no measurable deterrent effect on violent crime.
Even though the death penalty is becoming an anachronism, fails to provide any public benefit, and has been rejected by most civilized nations in the world, we continue to waste millions of dollars on it.

You and I can end this pointless practice.

If your mailing address is in the OADP database, you should have received Ron Steiner's letter last week asking for your financial support of our mission.  Please use the envelope and response form in that letter and make the most generous contribution that fits into your budget.

If you didn't get Ron's letter, you can read it, along with our December newsletter and other articles, at our website,  And while you're there, we'll be most grateful if you'd click "Donate" to learn how you can support our work either on a credit card or by check.

The death penalty truly is in terminal decline.  It's time for us to end it in Oregon and put our nation one step closer to complete abolition.  The goal is worthy, and we'll be most grateful for your support.

Best wishes from all of us for a safe, peaceful and prosperous New Year!


David McNeil
OADP Board Secretary

Donate to OADP

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Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Another Don't-Miss Film at Salem Cinema

Speaking of runaway melting glaciers (see Salem Cinema info below), here's a letter sent to the Salem City Council and Cherriots boards today:

Salem City Council members,
Cherriots board members:

I encourage you especially to view this film, as you consider the wisdom of an $800+ million dollars commitment to business as usual and constantly increasing carbon emissions. 

Take your kids and grandkids with you.

A physicist friend reports that this film was immensely powerful and sobering.  I hope that every member of every agency with a representative on SKATS goes to see this and realizes the direct connection between our decisions today  (pursuing transportation and land-use policies that ignore the need for dramatic reductions in CO2 emissions) and the catastrophes we are experiencing and will bequeath to future generations -- which will continue to worsen if we don't change course promptly.

Chasing Ice
Friday 6:15 8:30
Saturday (*1:15) 6:15 8:30
Sunday (*12:30) (*3:15) 7:45
Monday (*12:30)(*3:15) 7:45
Tuesday 7:45
Wednesday (*5:20)
Thursday (*5:20)

(*Bargain Shows)

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Short summary of arguments against Bridgasaurus

There are 800+ million reasons to oppose "Bridgasaurus Boondogglus," the fossilized relic of 1950's style auto "planning."  Here's a good, short summary of just a few of those arguments.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Astoundingly great website/blog: Strong Towns

It would be nice if, instead of creating AstroTurf campaign groups like the "Third Bridge Alliance (for tolls and higher taxes)" the Chamber of Commerce had all its members spend a few weeks analyzing the arguments that a real conservative makes against projects like the Bridgasaurus Boondogglus, Salem's pet dinosaur of antediluvian thinking.

The guy behind he Strong Towns blog is my new hero ... An actual rather than a pretend conservative, someone who thinks the road to reasonable tax policy starts by avoiding the absurd investments that consume all the revenue while producing an unsustainable overhang of aging, inefficient infrastructure:

Mechanisms of Growth

Today, there are four primary mechanisms that have fueled the current growth pattern within our towns and neighborhoods. None of these are financially sustainable.
1. Transfer payments between governments.
Nearly every city in America is reliant, to one degree or another, on intergovernmental subsidies to finance infrastructure. Whether the money comes through an established program, an earmark or a block grant, the result is the same: a land use pattern that does not reflect local economic realities. Local values and priorities are distorted when there is little pressure to generate a return on public infrastructure investments. The result: inefficient growth patterns that cannot be financially sustained.
At the same time our infrastructure maintenance liabilities are ballooning, our federal and state legislatures are struggling to reconcile huge budget shortfalls. Even if it were good policy, the reality is that we do not have the ability to build Strong Towns with intergovernmental transfer payments as they are currently designed.
2. Demand-driven transportation spending.
Transportation improvements today are made primarily to increase safety and reduce congestion. After two generations of trying to build our way out of congestion, we not only have massive maintenance liabilities but congestion is actually worse. An approach to transportation spending that pits federal and state priorities (transportation) against local priorities (land use) when we should be linking them is a recipe for waste and inefficiency.
To add to this disconnect, federal transportation policy actually rewards states with additional funds for building additional roads, regardless of their efficiency. Political meddling, often in the form of earmarks, further distorts transportation spending by prioritizing improvements based on political clout, not overall return on the public investment. 
3. Debt, both public and private.
Where we once paid for infrastructure improvements through direct taxation, we have increasingly shifted to debt to finance maintenance and improvements. While the policy implications of indebtedness may be debated on many levels, it is clear that the ability to easily wrap the cost of infrastructure into government bonds and home mortgages has allowed us to make inefficient decisions about how to grow our towns and neighborhoods. As our ability to leverage is diminished, we are left with fewer options for maintaining the bloated systems debt has allowed us to create.
4. The Growth Ponzi Scheme.
New growth is often thought of as the salvation for a struggling town, but when that growth is fueled by new and inefficient infrastructure, it is simply a Ponzi Scheme waiting to collapse. Whether it is the town or a developer that fronts the cost of infrastructure, the catch is always that the public assumes the long-term maintenance liability. This gives local governments a short-term revenue boost in exchange for greater, long-term maintenance liabilities. The cycle demands ever-increasing growth rates to maintain bloated and inefficient infrastructure systems, a pattern that cannot be maintained. (Read more on the Growth Ponzi Scheme).

America will not have continued prosperity using these mechanisms for growth. We need to come to grips with how they induce inefficient development patterns that may provide a short-term gain but, in the end, severely limit America's long-term potential. Reliance on these four growth mechanisms has committed us to maintaining costly and inefficient systems, with incredibly low rates of return on the ongoing public investment. We have, ironically, grown our way into stagnation and decline.
We must find the courage to systematically address the problems of our current approach to growth if we want to have competitive, Strong Towns in the future.

Friday, December 7, 2012

A trip down memory lane: D-Day, 2008

Here's a post about the Bridgasaurus Boondogglus from June 6, 2008.  The only thing that has changed is that the price tag of the monster has jumped up 66%, from $500 million to $800 million.

Join the fight against $800 million Bridgasaurus Boondogglus!

There's a listserv you can join to stay informed about the effort to restore sanity and stop the absurd $800+ million 3rd Bridge project.

To join this listserv and others opposing this Bridgasaurus Boondogglus, just send me a note at gearjm (at symbol)  and request an invite to join the No3rdBridge list, so that you can participate in the campaign and be informed about the issue.

    Remember, you can control for yourself how much mail you get from this list-- you can set it to send you every message as they are posted, or you can get one daily digest (containing all of that day's messages), or you can even set to "no mail" which would let you view the messages at the website but not fill your inbox.

    Another thing you can do is use filters/rules to automatically move the mail you get from this list to a folder in your computer's email program.  (Ask a young person how if you don't know how to tickle your mail program to do that for you.)

And don't forget to sign the petition and to share it with your friends, neighbors, and fellow taxpayers -- all throughout Marion and Polk counties (it's not just a nightmare for Salem -- we'll all be hit hard by this monster if it's not stopped).

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Points to Ponder: Finnish ed system

Whodda thunk it?  When you put kids ahead of corporate-driven testing regimes, they do well!

Stop "Bridgasaurus Boondogglus" petition building up steam!

We're building up steam, but we still need you and all your friends to sign a petition to tell the SKATS agencies to stand up to that most dangerous creature, Bridgasaurus Boondogglus, a fossil unearthed from the 1950s Highway Planning, fossil-fuel wasting mindset.

We need many signatures to tell SKATS to keep Bridgasaurus from putting an $800+ million stomp on the Highland, Grant, and West Salem neighborhoods and from destroying Wallace Marine Park ... not to mention eating up precious resources from everyone in Salem. 

The Chamber of Commerce and the Homebuilders are working day and night to push this monstrosity.  They have paid folks twisting arms in local governments.  We have the facts, logic, reason and common sense on our side, and people power.  But we only have that power if people stand up and say that we're not interested in blowing hundreds of millions on a gigantic time-warp highway dinosaur.

If you want to see how absurd this project is, look at the "funding" options game --

The projected local damage for this thing -- $30,000,000 a YEAR for 30 years -- is the exact amount that Salem-Keizer schools is projected to fall short next year (after already laying off hundreds, including every middle and elementary school librarian).  And that's with the West Salem library hours cut to 16 a week.  And NO transit service on weekends at all, in Oregon's capital city.

We've reached some signers already. But if we are going to have an impact, it's critical that more people sign our petition to Salem Keizer Area Transportation Study agencies.

Our petition is here --
please sign and spread it around:
Can you please forward that link to five of your friends right now -- or to everyone in your address book who will be hammered by this thing?  With your help, we can reach our goal! 

P.S.  If you want to stay involved in the battle against Bridgasaurus, you can get on the No3rdBridge mailing list -- go here and request an invitation to join the list:

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Sign the Petition to Help Keep Bridgasaurus from Stomping Salem!

There's a petition against the Bridgasaurus that threatens to stomp treasured Salem neighborhoods, Wallace Marine Park, and our already-on-life-support transit system into oblivion!

The petition is to the governments that make up "SKATS" (the bureaucratic jargon for the Salem-Keizer Area Transportation Study -- that's the "metropolitan planning organization," the committee of local governments that allocates all the federal funding for transportation projects), especially to three of the most important local governments who sit on the SKATS board:  The City of Salem, Cherriots (Salem-Keizer Mass Transit District), and Salem-Keizer School District 24J.

By their own rules, the SKATS agencies only act with unanimous agreement, so the two local governments who have been most rocked by round after round of funding shortfalls, Cherriots and SK Schools, will be fertile ground and, we hope, receptive listeners for our message, which is that Salem can't afford to repeat the mistakes of the 1950s and 1960s, bulldozing neighborhoods and businesses to make room for extravagant and wasteful gigantic elevated freeways.
Let your voice be heard, sign the petition to Stop Bridgasaurus!  Just follow the link.