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Archive for February, 2009

National Review on Oregon’s Moving Company Cartel

February 9th, 2009 by CJ Ciaramella

National Review has a short article by Kevin D. Williamson in this week’s issue about the sad state of occupational-licensing laws; as an example, it uses the case of Adam Sweet, a PSU student whose moving company was shut down by the state because he didn’t have a “Oregon Intrastate Certificate to Transport Household Goods or Passengers.” I wrote about Sweet’s case here and more recently here.

Sorry, the NR article is behind a subscription wall, so I can’t link to it, but I do have a handy-dandy print copy. Here’s some of the text:

Adam Sweet is an Oregon college student who organized some friends into a moving business with a specialty in medical clinics. Alan Merrifield is a Californian who ran a pest-control business free of chemicals and poisons. Both were shut down by occupational-licensing laws that largely serve to protect entrenched business interests while doing little or nothing to protect the public.

Licensure laws make it difficult to start a business or pursue one part time. If you turn a buck from your knack for planting rosebushes or arranging their flowers, you could find yourself fined and jailed for practicing unlicensed landscape architecture or outlaw floristry. […]

In the cases of Sweet and Merrifield, challenges from the Pacific Legal Foundation forced authorities to admit what everybody knows: These laws exist mostly to protect politically connected businesses.


Kulongoski Proposes Outlawing After-Market Car Parts

February 9th, 2009 by Vincent

It seems that the State of Oregon just can’t stay out of people’s cars. A little over a month ago, we reported on how Governor Kulongoski has been floating the idea of installing tracking devices in every automobile and taxing drivers by the mile because increased fuel economy standards were starting to cut into gax tax revenues.

Sadly, the governor has even more great ideas about how Oregonians should be allowed to use their own property. H.B. 2186, introduced at the behest of Kulongoski aims to “to prohibit the sale and distribution of aftermarket motor vehicle parts if alternatives are available that “decrease greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles.”

It appears that the focus of the legislation is aftermarket vanity tires that, while they might make your low-rider lower or boost your jacked-up pickup that much higher off the ground, might also cause a mileage hit. The law is almost certain to cover other auto parts that I’m just not car-savvy enough to know about, too.

The bill is sure to find favor with “green-at-any-cost” types, but is certain to strike… well… pretty much everyone else as yet more pointless regulation that accomplishes absolutely nothing aside from further increasing state control over what private citizens can and cannot do with their own property within the State of Oregon and encouraging a thriving after-market auto parts industry just on the other side of Oregon’s borders.

So much for “economic stimulus.”

As the guys over at Autoblog put it, “Putting our legislators in charge of what equipment should be fitted to our cars doesn’t strike us as the brightest idea.” Expand that to “in charge of anything at all” and I’m inclined to agree.

(H/T Instapundit)

Volume 26, Issue 4 Now Online

February 8th, 2009 by CJ Ciaramella

The new issue is online. Inside you can find such gems as:

  • An editorial reiterating why it’s important to make fun of the ASUO
  • Our version of the “best of Eugene,” which apparently is a requirement of any Eugene publication
  • News about the J-school
  • A big, fat opinion piece about the Israel/Gaza protests on campus by Vincent Artman
  • An article by OC alum Jake Speicher
  • A really cool piece of art by our friend the Ol’ Dirty Swede

Look for it in print this week!

Introducing Our Media Empire

February 7th, 2009 by CJ Ciaramella

Oregon Commentator Production Manager Drew “Thunderlove” Cattermole is also an executive producer at Duck-U, a student-run television program. So Drew did the only reasonable thing and put together an Oregon Commentator News segment. Look upon our works, ye mighty, and despair!

ODE Doesn’t Like OSPIRG Either

February 6th, 2009 by CJ Ciaramella

In case you missed it, the Daily Emerald issued an editorial yesterday calling for OSPIRG to be defunded:

This week, the ASUO Executive made for the first time in a long time a very clear recommendation on the ongoing saga of OSPIRG and the funding it receives from the ASUO incidental fee that all students pay. It recommended that OSPIRG be completely defunded. The Emerald has called for increased scrutiny of OSPIRG and its use of our student dollars several times in the past. In 2007, the Emerald called for OSPIRG to be defunded, citing transparency and accountability concerns. In light of the proposal by ASUO President Sam Dotters-Katz to end OSPIRG’s contract with the ASUO, we would like to now reiterate this opinion.

See? It’s not just us “crazy conservatives” who don’t like OSPIRG. There are people all across the board who have problems with it, and not just because of its political stances. Yet weepy, outraged OSPIRG supporters try and spin this as some sort of campaign to squash campus activism. For example, here’s part of an overwrought letter in today’s ODE by Jesse Hough:

As I witnessed egos and tempers flair at the ACFC meeting Wednesday night, a deep sadness overcame me. A sadness that felt like the death of a dear friend. That friend isn’t OSPIRG, it is students’ power and voice in the world.

All we’re really asking for is that our student money be spent transparently and effectively.

More On The Smoking Ban

February 5th, 2009 by CJ Ciaramella

For those interested, you can read the Smoke Free Task Force’s full report to the administration here. It’s worth a read, if just to see how biased and asinine the whole process has been. Join me as I wade through document and pick out some of my favorite parts. For example, this is part of the recap of the “forums” held to discuss the smoking ban:

A staff member stated we needed to look past the glamorous side of smoking. The smell of smoke makes him ill. He made the comparison of secondhand smoke to someone who is HIV positive spiting [sic] on another individual and being charged with assault.


Smoke-Free Campus proposal

February 5th, 2009 by Scott Younker

It seems that the Anti-Smokers group on campus finally has a time-table for getting rid of those dirty, evil smokers, two years. This according to an article in today’s Ol’ Dirty.

The Smoke-Free Task Force recommended to the University administration Monday that the University become a smoke-free area within two years. The University Senate will discuss the report during its March meeting, but the ultimate decision lies with the administration.

The decision lies with an administration that I think could choose to “enforce” this.

Ahh, it’s fun when people want the University to waste money. Instead of having DPS not do anything when crimes and such actually happen on campus now we can have them not do anything when someone smokes on campus.

I don’t remember when the last smoke-in was but I’m thinking another one might need to be called to order.

OSPIRG Might Get The Ax

February 4th, 2009 by CJ Ciaramella

OSPIRG’s budget hearing is today, and a lot of people are calling for its head. (I’ve always been partial to a good ol’ “draw and quarter,” but that’s besides the point.)

OSPIRG, for those not in the know, is a “public interest group” that funnels money from college campuses into statewide lobbying efforts. For example, the OSPIRG chapter at the University of Oregon gets more than $100,000 in student money each year. Once again, that’s 100k of student money forcefully taken and spent off campus for lobbying purposes. (OSPIRG also has the gall to send volunteers to campus to shake down students for even more cash.)

Portland State and Oregon State have already defunded their respective OSPIRG chapters citing the aforementioned money-funneling. Even some ODE columnists have gotten into the act.

We here at the Commentator have been railing against OSPIRG and its nefarious ways for nigh on 25 years now. In fact, we spearheaded a campaign that got it defunded back in 1998, but the ASUO brought the group back through dark, political magick. I, for one, eagerly await tasting the yummy, sweet tears of its supporters.

The hearing is at 3:30 p.m in Straub 154, for all those interested. I will be twittering the proceedings.

Shooting Fish in a barrel is harder than it sounds

February 3rd, 2009 by Scott Younker

…but Alex Conley makes it so damn easy

It seems somewhat ironic that he’s making the call for rational argumentation considering some of his past editorials that have been brought up here.

Truthfully, I’m all for rational arguments and whatever else Conley thinks that the Obama administration needs to do. Definitely in agreement with Conley on having the iron fist approach. Obama should just not allow comments and inform people to accept his opinion as fact, he is the messiah after all. 

The fact of the matter is, our political process benefits most when people actually talk about the issues and forgo idiotic comments that don’t contribute anything to the discussion. Imagine if you were trying to have a genuine conversation with someone about, say, the stimulus package, and someone else in the room kept chiming in with “I like cheese!” or “Obama’s the next Hitler!” None of that brings anything useful to the table and only serves to annoy those who actually want to talk about the issues.

It’s funny because in the Right-wing hypocrisy column, that is linked to above, Conley basically pulls the “Republicans equals Nazis” card. He might have said that he liked cheese as well, but I imagine he’s lactose-intolerant. 

Oh, Conley, Conley, Conley. Do you not see your own hypocrisy once again portrayed here? Or do you not read your columns before throwing them at your editor?

I never had the pleasure of Shakra but Conley is my generation’s shadow of Shakra (I know Conley can’t compare to Shakra in sheer oddball).

ODE Questions Our Integrity; Oh Noes!

February 3rd, 2009 by CJ Ciaramella

Well, the Oregon Daily Emerald has thrown down the gauntlet:

If it isn’t one thing, it’s another.

Not long after Sam Dotters-Katz’s appointment of Athan Papailiou to the ASUO Senate was rejected, the ASUO president made another controversial Senate appointment: C.J. Ciaramella, editor-in-chief of the Oregon Commentator. Though this appointment was also rejected, this time unanimously, its mere occurrence calls into question the integrity of both related parties.


We’d like to know how the editor-in-chief of a publication that so concerns itself with ethics and student government, and the relationship (or lack thereof) between the two, can “ethically” apply to work for that very student government and still maintain a commitment to journalistic excellence.

Conflict of interest, anyone?

But the Commentator does not claim to be an objective or unbiased journal, some may argue. It is, after all, a place for commentary, and presents itself as such.

True, but if one gave so much as a cursory glance at an issue of the Commentator or its blog, they will undoubtedly find reporting, discussion and criticism of the ASUO and its actions. The most recent issue’s editorial is a prime example.


In addition, Ciaramella has attended each of the term’s ASUO Senate meetings as a reporter for the Commentator and has spoken out about senators, the organization and its processes. (The term “stakeholder” comes to mind.)

It hardly needs to be stated that reporting of any kind, no matter how inherently slanted, lacks any sort of credibility when the person in charge of its publication is heavily involved in the events and actions with which it is concerned.

In other words, Ciaramella’s decision to run for ASUO candidacy was disingenuous and unprofessional, and makes claims to journalistic integrity seem like nothing more than mockery.

Additionally, the decision to appoint Ciaramella to the Senate jeopardizes the ASUO Executive’s credibility.

Ciaramella’s application letter was indeed, as Sen. Tyler Scandalios described, flippant, and made clear its author’s lack of seriousness about the responsibilities of the Senate.

Whatever one’s opinions about the seriousness and credibility of the ASUO Senate, the fact is that it deals with students’ money and makes decisions that directly affect students, and, therefore, should not be taken so lightly. For Dotters-Katz to appoint Ciaramella when he was the only applicant to not agree to a job interview, was not recommended by the ASUO hiring committee, and treated the entire process like a joke, is irresponsible and disconcerting.

We would like to applaud the group for rejecting Ciaramella’s appointment. Making student government and its coverage in the media into a circus isn’t funny, even if trained bears are.

And I’d like to applaud the ODE for running this editorial almost a week after the fact. I guess this is the part where I’m supposed to be cowed into shame by the Emerald’s gravitas and finger-wagging, but you know what? Fuck ’em if they can’t take a joke.

The Commentator has been running joke candidates for years. Back in the day, one editor, Tamir Kreigel, was elected to Senate and then resigned by being carried out of the room by clowns. Timothy Dreier ran a retro-McCarthyite campaign for ASUO exec, and two years ago editor Ted Niedermeyer ran on an anti-douchebag platform.

The important thing to remember, though, is we’re not making the student government and its media coverage a circus. It’s already a circus. Everything about it is patently absurd. I mean, we’re talking about a group of college kids managing $11 million in student money. These are people who cry during Senate meetings and spend the rest of the time staring at Facebook.

And yet I’m berated by would-be politicos and would-be journalists for not treating this whole funny farm with absolute seriousness. Say what you will about the Commentator, but at least we recognize that we’re just a bunch of college students.

Of course, I understand that the ODE has to get up on its high horse every now and then and pretend to be Really Serious Journalism. If that’s the way they want to play it, fine (even though the ODE’s ASUO reporter and his editor were in the room yukking it up during my confirmation hearing). But if they thought I was making a mockery of things before, they’re in for a rude surprise. Just you wait.

Harbaugh Makes the Weekly

February 2nd, 2009 by Vincent

I was somewhat surprised to see a “Slant” blurb (down at the bottom) to University of Oregon Professor of Economics and friend of the Commentator Bill Harbaugh in the Eugene Weekly, advertising the good professor’s “new blog”, complete with writings ranging from “neuroeconomics (what’s that?) to improving access to Oregon public records” and “quirky” comments from his students.

After having a look at the site they linked to, I’ve come to the conclusion that either I’m totally missing something or whoever writes the Weekly’s “Slant” section simply has no idea what a “blog” actually is (hint: it’s not hip new slang for “home page”). As far as I can tell, the “quirky” student comments appear to be drawn from end-of-term class evaluations.

Nevertheless, kudos to the Weekly for giving a shout-out to Harbaugh.

Update on Oregon’s Moving Company Cartel

February 2nd, 2009 by CJ Ciaramella

I reported last June on the ridiculous case of Adam Sweet, a PSU student who started a moving company only to be shut down by the state because he did not have a “Oregon Intrastate Certificate to Transport Household Goods or Passengers.” (How’s that for bureaucrat-speak?)

Sweet was more outraged when he found out that the state notifies all other moving companies of new license applications, which are denied if any of the companies object. As I noted at the time, this is a shining example of a cartel. Sweet, with assistance from the Pacific Legal Foundation, sued the Oregon Attorney General, claiming the state had violated his 14th Amendment rights by providing “an unequal and unconstitutionally protectionist advantage to established moving companies who are able to limit their own prospective competition.”

Well, some good news: On Jan. 21 a federal judge blocked the state’s attempt to throw Sweet’s case out of court. There was also a rally of other small moving companies at the state capitol, and, if Internet comments are to be believed, Oregon Senator Rick Metsger has came out strongly against the moving cartel. From the Oregon Catalyst comment thread on the subject:

I am happy to report that I saw the story when it hit the paper a few months ago and was appalled that state law could allow competitors to decide who can get a moving license. I wrote a bill for my senate transportation committee to eliminate that injustice and will be moving that out of committee and onto the senate floor later this month. Thanks for keeping attention on the issue.