Image provided by: University of Oregon Libraries; Eugene, OR
About East Oregonian : E.O. (Pendleton, OR) 1888-current | View Entire Issue (July 26, 2019)
Friday, July 26, 2019
KATHRYN B. BROWN
WYATT HAUPT JR.
Founded October 16, 1875
What Alaska and Sherman County do right
or a region that’s blessed
with bountiful natural
resources, the Pacific North-
west has largely missed the boat.
We’re not talking about politi-
cians’ willingness to levy taxes on
resources and spend the revenue as
fast as they collect it. We’re talking
about viewing natural resources
as public property and sharing the
windfall with all citizens.
When the boom in wind power
began 17 years ago in Sherman
County, leaders there came up with
an idea. Instead of the county sim-
ply pocketing property taxes col-
lected from the big wind genera-
tors that were sprouting across the
countryside, they would share a
portion of the money with citizens.
Every head of household who
has lived in the county at least a
year now receives $590 annually.
The idea was to reimburse resi-
dents whose views were impeded
by wind turbines.
The rest of the money has gone
to build a courthouse, school,
Capital Press Photo/Sierra Dawn McClain
Hundreds of wind turbines tower over Sher-
man County, whirring as they generate elec-
tricity — and money. Each December, house-
holds receive checks for $590 in exchange
for use of their county as a wind site.
library, Oregon State University
Extension facility and a new cov-
ered arena at the fairgrounds.
For a county that has only about
1,800 people, this was a stroke of
genius. County leaders should take
a bow — and offer a bit of advice
to other political leaders in Oregon,
Washington, Idaho and elsewhere.
The idea was patterned after the
Alaska Permanent Fund, which
was created in 1976 by a constitu-
tional amendment that allowed the
state to set aside 25% of its revenue
from oil pumped from the state-
owned Prudhoe Bay oil field. That
money was deposited in a diversi-
fied investment account. Politicians
cannot spend it for anything with-
out a vote of the people.
Earnings from the fund are div-
vied up and sent to every man,
woman and child in the form of
a dividend check. Last year, each
check was for $1,600. This year’s
dividend hasn’t yet been decided.
The value of the Permanent
Fund nowadays is north of $60
We think the folks in Sher-
man County and Alaska are onto
something. Particularly when pub-
licly owned natural resources are
involved, citizens deserve some of
the revenue. We fully understand
that politicians may be unlikely to
cede their power over the money,
but they should remember: It’s not
The outcome of paying divi-
dends to citizens is extraordinary.
It gives them a direct interest in
government. Instead of constantly
being hounded for more taxes, they
actually receive a direct benefit
from the government.
Also, those dividends help drive
Natural resources — wind, oil,
timber, natural gas or minerals —
should be treated as the property of
There’s an age-old saying in
finance: Make saving a priority.
If you don’t do that — and many
politicians shudder at the thought
of not spending every penny —
you’re leaving yourself vulnerable
to the next economic downturn.
Trump correct to consider
changes to our refugee policy
Free market in Pendleton is dead
s an apartment owner in Pendleton
No report, study or committee suggests
I’m not worried about the rent control
building two decades worth of apartments in
bill 608 that came out of Salem. The
the next two to three years. So why does the
law is predictable, out in the open and applied taxpayer keep paying for expensive housing
the same to everyone around the state with-
studies? Why doesn’t city council follow the
out exception. It’s a level playing field, so no
recommendations of the expensive housing
one will get a competitive advantage because
studies? It is also unprecedented to give away
of this law.
public funds without a low income require-
ment. How many of the 305 newly incentiv-
A much bigger uncertainty for investors
ized units are designated for 30%
and developers in Pendleton has
of median income? How many for
been created right here at home,
50% of median income? It appears
by city hall. City officials are med-
dling with the free market, giving
to be zero.
taxpayer dollars away in the form
City officials have chosen to
of free land, reducing permit fees,
incentivize building only on taxpay-
er-owned land or downtown. This
cash to downtown units, road infra-
structure to Pendleton Heights,
strategy punishes anybody who
interest-free loans and property tax
owns multifamily land already or
breaks. These have not been given
purchases land to build on by put-
ting them at a competitive disad-
out evenly and equitably, but selec-
tively by picking winners and losers.
vantage. If you currently own multi-
family zoned vacant land, it will be
The city has spurred the next 20
essentially worthless until 2040.
years worth of apartments that will
Common sense would say that if you
be coming in the next two to three years. This
want to grow your city, then incentivize any-
oversupply of new units crushes the value of
body who is willing to build here and grow
existing apartments and will ultimately drive
your tax base. With no clear-cut set of rules
down rents for decades as the new units are
or guidelines for incentives, who knows what
absorbed. City council is flooding the city
city council will incentivize next? Are there
with market rate apartments, despite the rec-
ommendations of the August 2016 Sabino
any Republicans, Libertarians or even Demo-
housing study (25 executive level units, 20-40 crats outraged by this assault on the free mar-
ket? Isn’t the free market the answer to the
downtown units, 100 units at Pendleton
Heights). This glut of an additional 205 units
Investors and entrepreneurs would liter-
was apparently not a recommendation of the
housing committee either. City council is also ally be better off investing their capital in
any other city in Oregon. The free market in
ignoring a new FCS Group housing study
that, while not yet complete, currently recom- Pendleton is dead.
mends 17 units per year for the next 20 years
with a high portion of those being set aside for
Nate Brusselback is the owner of the Trian-
gle Apartments in Pendleton.
Unsigned editorials are the opinion of
the East Oregonian editorial board. Other
columns, letters and cartoons on this page
express the opinions of the authors and not
necessarily that of the East Oregonian.
uring a recent meeting with the USA resettlement program, families
Department of Homeland Secu- are a broad category that includes the
rity, the State Department and
spouses, unmarried children under
about 20 other representatives from
age 21, and the parents of the refugees
agencies involved in immigration, the
requesting reunification. Chain migra-
tion will eventually allow more fam-
Trump administration floated the idea
ily categories like siblings, cousins and
of zero refugees in 2020.
others admission. A Princeton Univer-
Advocates immediately pushed
sity chain migration study learned that
back against the proposal, but the
each lawful permanent resident peti-
White House insisted that ever-fewer
tions about 3.45 family members
admissions is consistent
to come to the U.S.
with national security, and
Princeton’s research con-
also in line with the down-
cluded that chain migration is the
ward resettlement trend.
biggest immigration driver that
In 2017, 53,716 refugees
leads to higher population.
were admitted, and 22,491
Whether the refugee reset-
in 2018, according to Ref-
tlement totals are the 110,000
ugee Processing Center
annually that President Obama
data, with 21,260 refugees
endorsed or President Trump’s
admitted through June 30
current 30,000 limit, the number
of this year.
represents only an infinitesimal
The president deter-
mines and approves the
fraction of the world’s estimated
refugee cap and announces it prior to
70 million displaced persons. The goal
the new fiscal year’s start, October 1.
should be to help as many millions
That means more than two months for
as possible, and not merely the lucky
intense partisan wrangling, a period
handful that the UNHCR selects for
that would be better used now to dis-
cuss how refugee resettlement became
Toward that end, proposals have
the most abused federal program in
been put forward that could help 12
Washington, D.C. (that’s saying some-
refugees live safely in camps near their
thing), and how immediately it needs
home countries for about the same cost
to be overhauled.
as resettling one refugee in the U.S.
In 2017, the nonpartisan Govern-
This approach is called “proximity
ment Accountability Office issued a
help,” and Oxford University scholars
report that found that while the State
Alexander Betts and Paul Collier refer
Department and the U.N. High Com-
to it as a way to help refugees help
missioner for Refugees have worked
toward a more effective refugee pro-
Historically, immigration is always
cessing system, much remains undone. about more. Advocates insist that the
But the unaddressed refugee reset-
nation urgently needs more workers
tlement question, which applies to all
on H-1B high-skilled labor visas as
other immigration programs, is how
well as more low-skilled laborers on
are U.S. citizens affected, specifically
H-2A and H-2B visas. More employ-
ment-based visas are always presented
their employment prospects? As well,
how do these programs impact Ameri- in the best possible light. More wel-
ca’s population growth, already headed coming asylum and refugee admission
to a total of more than 400 million
laws are positives, we’re told.
people by 2060?
But often, a pause in the status quo
With refugee resettlement, first, ref- is required to provide time to re-eval-
ugees receive immediate work autho-
uate and improve. U.S. refugee 2020
rization, a good thing for them since
admissions are unlikely to decline to
integration into mainstream society is
zero. But taking a more comprehen-
sive look at what the U.S. has done and
a desirable goal that employment will
should do going forward to best assist
accelerate. But for an unemployed or
refugees would be a valuable
displaced American job seeker, more
competition represents another hurdle, exercise.
and many corporations have pledged to
Joe Guzzardi is a Progressives for
hire more refugees.
Second, on population growth, fam- Immigration Reform analyst who has
ily reunification is a top refugee reset-
written about immigration for more
tlement priority. Under the UNHCR/
than 30 years.
The East Oregonian welcomes original letters of 400 words or less on public issues and public policies
for publication in the newspaper and on our website. The newspaper reserves the right to withhold
letters that address concerns about individual services and products or letters that infringe on the rights
of private citizens. Letters must be signed by the author and include the city of residence and a daytime
phone number. The phone number will not be published. Unsigned letters will not be published.
Send letters to the editor to
or via mail to Andrew Cutler,
211 S.E. Byers Ave.
Pendleton, OR 97801