Saturday, March 03, 2007

Saturday Whiparound: Early Bonus Edition

A Saturday special whilst Carla drops the dope from Dorchester! It's the weekend whiparound, Torrid-style and a day early!

I'm telling you, we're going to mess around and wake up a world greentech leader. The German firm Solarworld AG, itself subsidized by incentives to develop renewable technologies, has acquired the former Komatsu chip factory in Hillsboro, and with state investment help will convert it to a $400mil solar-cell and wafer production plant. The company claims it is building the biggest solar factory in the nation, and that 1,000 new jobs are needed.

You can almost hear Ted peeing in his pants over this one:
"This is a major step forward not only for our environment, but also Oregon's economy," said Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski. "SolarWorld AG will become a major partner in our state's move toward energy independence. I appreciate their commitment and dedication to achieving a clean energy future."
Give the guy credit; he has personally taken the initative to woo companies that really are good for Oregon, and it fits right in with his other personal initiative--environmental economics. On the other hand, SolarWorld takes over from a company that dumped almost twice as much into the property, but abandoned ship when chip prices fell. The same could happen to solar wafers, although that doesn't appear imminent. Still, this is a high profile 'get' that is exactly what Kulongoski promised he would bring. Our good friend Kari Chisholm at Blue Oregon is right--would this past week of huge leaps forward in Oregon policy, particularly on the environment, have happened with Ron Saxton as Governor and the Republicans in the House? Don't make me pee myself. If you like the more business-related/Euro angle, try Reuters' version.

Hardy Myers has taken credit for a sizable bust in the black market tobacco racket. Here's the lawyerin' cowboy at right, with a strangely uncredited but arguably more powerful Rep. Darlene Hooley (OR-5) out rustling witnesses to depose, or something. He actually looks a bit more smug than Teddy sounded in his breathless quote, but given that he's getting up in years and all us guys get a little touched in the prostate at some point, he may in fact be peeing his pants a little too.

I'm hoping this shows I'm no criminal, because I'm still not sure what the game was here, but it was working out to the tune of 200 large before they got busted:
Four family members, operating as J.K. Wholesale, allegedly bought contraband tobacco and sold it to retail businesses in the Salem and surrounding areas over a four-year period.

J.K. Wholesale then "grossly under-reported the tax owed the state," Myers charged. He estimated that at least $200,000 in tobacco taxes had been avoided over the four-year period.

The Attorney General added that the nine stores were indicted for "crimes related to knowingly purchasing and reselling contraband tobacco products."

Oregon's 65 percent wholesale tax on non-cigarette tobacco, one of the highest in the country, has a history of encouraging smuggling.
Tobacco bootlegging--it's so...Jersey. And I say that with love, sort of. Like you love a cat with three legs and an eye poked out, but it still wakes up every day to bitch at you for food, and you feed it for being a pest. If they inflate tax avoidance busts like they do "street value" drug busts, this sounds more like a PR release to show that Myers has the black market under control should the cigarette tax be raised for Healthy Kids. Call me cynical, but Ted is still trying to count to 36 on that bill in the House.

This aint' good
Clackamas County Fire District 1 put Oregon City on notice today to come up with more money or lose its services next year.

The city, which is outside the district, pays the agency about $2.8 million a year to operate two fire stations. The district said costs are rising faster than the annual contract payments and that it will terminate the agreement June 30, 2008, if the problem isn't solved.
At first I thought they were threatening closure in June 2007, not 2008, but OC still has a small window to get something done budget-wise. And they are hurting financially already, so this is not good news for them. And they HAVE to get something done, because your fire protection rating is not something you want to mess around with. OC's water situation wouldn't necessarily change, but the personal and mechanical resources would be severely hampered if the city can't get another outfit to staff the stations or pay for 1st Clackamas to run them. When your ISO rating gets worse, your insurance premiums go up, and people don't want to live there as much. Gotta get that done, OC!