Murmurs: Businesses Seek Relief From Tax Measures (See: Salmon Wars Continue)

By WW Staff | March 18, 2020 | Willamette Week  

BUSINESSES SEEK TAX MEASURE RELIEF: Oregon business groups, facing crushing pressure from COVID-19 impacts, on March 17 proposed 14 steps the state could take to help. Among the biggest: “Delay implementation of the new corporate activities tax, at least for the first quarter of 2020, so those funds can be diverted to meeting payroll and protecting jobs.” That tax is projected to bring in more than $1 billion a year for schools. Brown’s spokesman, Charles Boyle, says the governor will weigh the request against the need for government services. Five Portland-area chambers of commerce are also calling on Metro to withdraw a homeless services measure which would tax profits of larger businesses from the May ballot. “Now is not the time to stack new taxes on local businesses and residents,” wrote the CEOs of five chambers of commerce. Supporters of the measure rejected the idea. “This is a deeply offensive, self-interested move by lobbyists to try to use a health and financial crisis to punish the very people most at risk right now,” said Angela Martin of HereTogether, the coalition supporting the measure.

THOMSEN RECALL HAS DEEP POCKETS: Supporters of a new recall campaign against state Sen. Chuck Thomsen (R-Hood River) are portraying the effort as a grassroots campaign to punish the Republican lawmaker for walking out of the Capitol. Thomsen was part of two walkouts to block votes on controversial cap-and-trade bills—first in 2019, and again last month. Thomsen is vulnerable because Democrats hold a 7.5 percent voter registration advantage in the district. But unlike last year’s failed Timber Unity attempt to recall state Rep. Tiffiny Mitchell (D-Astoria), this campaign will be well-funded: Filings show that Our Oregon, the union-backed political group, paid $37,500 for signature gatherers. Former state Sen. Chip Shields (D-Portland) kicked in $15,000 and the American Federation of Teachers gave $10,000.

SALMON WARS CONTINUE: Waterwatch of Oregon and two other environmental groups filed a federal lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Oregon March 12 against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, asking the court to block the Corps’ plan to allocate water from the Willamette River system. The groups say the Corps’ plan unnecessarily puts endangered chinook salmon and steelhead at risk while long-running negotiations continue about the best way to share the water. “The Corps’ plan makes lawn-watering more important than saving species from extinction,” said Brian Posewitz, a staff attorney for Waterwatch. The Corps did not respond to a request for comment.

DETOX WORKER SUES FOR RACIAL HARASSMENT: A Portland man is suing his employer, a drug detox center named CoDependents Anonymous, for $500,000 after allegedly being racially harassed by a patient. In his lawsuit, filed in Multnomah County Circuit Court on March 16, Perry Tiggett says the patient told him, “I don’t like your type” and called him the n-word multiple times, the lawsuit says. Tiggett is black. That same patient has a Confederate flag tattooed on his ankle, the lawsuit says, and allegedly attends rallies of the Proud Boys, a right-wing group. In August of 2019, Tiggett requested sick leave “due to the harm caused by the racial misconduct,” then made a formal complaint of racial discrimination to his employer, the complaint says. He says he was fired shortly thereafter. CoDependents Anonymous did not respond to a request for comment.

PHAM GATHERS SUPPORT TO REPLACE KENY-GUYER: In the campaign to replace departing state Rep. Alissa Keny-Guyer (D-Portland), one candidate is piling up the endorsements. Khanh Pham, the organizing director of the nonprofit OPAL Environmental Justice Oregon, has won the endorsement of Keny-Guyer, U.S. Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty, along with all five Multnomah County commissioners. Pham was a champion of the Portland Clean Energy Fund measure and faces former Multnomah County Chair Jeff Cogen in the Democratic primary.