Recently (June 20, 2019) eleven state senators went AWOL ten days before the scheduled end of the legislative session. They said it was to protest a bill to institute a cap-and-trade system where major polluters would pay fees based on their level of damage to help subsidize clean energy and projects like reforestation. The strategy was to deny a quorum so the Senate couldn’t vote. In addition to rendering that vote impotent, the group wrecked over a hundred other bills that were waiting to be voted on before session closed. They returned the last day to vote, but only eleven bills out of that hundred in limbo were addressed, the rest tabled for a year or two until the next session.

This walkout caused a lot of problems because Oregon’s legislature is unique: its a so-called “citizen legislature” and ours doesn’t run as long as other states. Oregon assembles for less than 6 months on odd-numbered years and meets in Salem for just 35 days every other year. The purpose is clear: work out language for legislation and vote on it. Period. Any extra politicking is supposed to be on their own time. Taxpayers spend over $6 million just to host each session at the state capitol. That doesn’t include all their separate office overhead and expense accounts and senators get over $100,000 in wages and benefits (each year in office) for that part-time work that is the only legal requirement of their position. Failing to do that job wastes a lot of money and robs taxpayers of representation.

Linthicum from SpaceAmong the group of 11 Republican Senators staging this walkout was Klamath’s very own dipshit: Dennis Linthicum.

Why This Was So Stupid

The only lesson this debacle taught anyone was that the citizens elected the wrong people. A walkout temper-trantrum is what you’d expect from an immature human being, the sort of annoying and disruptive tirade that has embarrassed every parent at one time or another—the sort of thing that at most, makes you momentarily regret having that kid—or at least pretend it isn’t yours. Even if the legislation under protest was the world’s worst idea, this action was not and never would be appropriate.

What’s next from these children posing as adults? Placing tacks on opponents chairs? Tripping people in the lunch line? Lighting bags of crap on fire and ringing doorbells? This is a political party trick from the side that constantly brags about its moral high ground. Trickery doesn’t reflect honesty and the more one party plays games like this, the more likely it is the other will retaliate in kind when they disagree.

They said they had no choice, so we wonder if this truly was the best they could do. Seems like any moderately intelligent person (or party collective) would apply cogent debate and media outreach to ensure an offensive bill never got that far in the first place. Smarter politicians use different methods that don’t disrupt the process such as drafting similar, but acceptable legislation to bait-and-switch.

The failure of these slackers to conjure factual evidence or compelling reasons to counteract legislation they didn’t like was not the fault of Democrats: it was theirs. This is the idiocy you keep putting forward rural Oregon…when will you learn? Will you ever cease electing people this stupid, so inept they can’t even make rational arguments? Not only do they fail at their job, their ineptitude burns through your hard-earned money. Please don’t re-elect these fucktards.

What Could Have Been

The easiest treatment for disagreeable legislation is to restructure it in committee. Cut one paragraph, add a better one, trade this for that between bills to build consensus. Linthicum and his cronies could have easily transformed this from a loser to a winner for rural Oregon by any of the following means:

  1. This first opportunity is so blatantly obvious it should have slapped rural Senators in the face like a the tail of a rabid beaver. Urban Oregon wants to support clean energy? We have that covered. We have GEOTHERMAL, they don’t. Nationwide, according to the US Department of Energy, Americans use 46% of the electricity generated for heating. We can completely offset nearly half of electrical energy consumption in geothermal zones. The return on investment for direct use geo is far better return than ANY other renewable energy resource. It is well known there is volcanically-heated water close to the surface in Klamath, Lake, Jackson, Jefferson, Deschutes and Malheur counties, probably more. Klamath has the greatest concentration of geothermal projects, with over 400 private wells used to heat residences, heated sidewalks, geothermal university, hostpital, roads and swimming pools.

    It would have been simple to tailor that legislation to funnel a major portion of funds directly from urban counties to rural geothermal projects, especially in eastern Oregon. Additionally, towns like Klamath Falls and Lakeview already have major infrastructure in place, so there would have been immediate beneficiaries receiving energy credit money right here at home. Klamath’s cogeneration facility would have qualified to receive credits. Three of the four counties in Linthicum’s senate district have major geothermal projects in play or in use. He’s so focused on throwing tantrums, he didn’t bother to inquire how many millions could be directed to support his own District’s geothermal zones through this legislation. It would have literally been like taking money from urban Oregon and gifting it to us.

  2. Exploit the demographics. Another easy fact is this: the vast majority of pollution occurs where most of the people live.

    Half the population of the state resides in the Portland metropolitan area. Most of the rest of the people live along the I-5 corridor in the top half of the state. A few paragraph changes could have removed all inconvenience to rural counties by limiting the scope to urban geographies only. Add a sunset clause that automatically shuts it down if the certain performance measures fail. If it turned out to be as horrible as the AWOL Senators imagined, once the data was out it would be easy to put the plan into a coma. If it accidentally made a positive difference, they’d still have a chance to turn it into a financial boon for our rural counties.

  3. Use it to make a bigger point and remove greater threats to rural living. This would have neutralized any perceived threat, but done so much more to preserve and protect rural lifestyles. Statewide mandates like this should be portrayed as the proverbial ‘straw in the camel’s back’ on the broader issue of so many policies that make sense in Portland that shouldn’t be mandated elsewhere. Ultimately the point here is to push for a completely separate and fully recognized policy structure for Urban Oregon and a DIFFERENT structure for Rural Oregon.

    Over several decades, your Republican officials have fully supported without question a parade of draconian rules that became statewide law.  We started as homesteads. Back then you just built your house or barn. Good luck with that now, for it is damn near impossible for a regular handy person to build anything themselves on their own property. It isn’t a question of skill, many people know how build stable, safe structures or can pick it up rapidly when needed. Building codes and administrative rules are now so complicated and incomprehensible, combined with insanely expensive, time-consuming and nonsensical inspections at city and county levels—a citizen stands no chance of being self-reliant. These overkill policies and practices were first enabled by the Oregon Legislature, then supported by the counties and cities as a revenue stream to justify retaining staff. Linthicum should know, when he was County Commissioner he did just that.

    Urban areas where there are so many trade professionals and unions are the only places you can find experts to fulfill many construction mandates. Statewide requirements mean rural people must pay their travel costs and overhead for assistance. The nanny-state makes sense to urban dwellers who’ve never built or serviced anything in their life. We should be saying, “Go ahead and do that urban Oregon, drive up housing costs, but you’d better allow a more relaxed and realistic permission structure for rural areas with limited resources.”

One could argue that this legislation was yet another complex quagmire that had no place in rural Oregon unless we reaped significant benefits—well, a smart rural legislator would have made that argument—unfortunately for us, we don’t have any. Worse, we lost tens of millions in project subsidies for new projects and many things we were already doing. We should recall Linthicum for his role in this, but if that doesn’t happen, hopefully the electorate will wise up enough to can this nutball-from-space and deny him a final term.