As the State Turns

By Johnny Beaver

stateturnssymbolCover Oregon… Because, Why Not
By way of the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), Deloitte Consulting will be inhaling $18 million of our state’s money to set up a web platform that will replace the original website, which we all know and love as the Little Healthcare Exchange That Frankly Couldn’t. Apparently learning from past frivolities, the new contract ensures that a fixed result is married to an even more fixed price. Deloitte will also be hit with a daily fine if they fail to deliver a working site by the Nov. 15 deadline.

In the meantime, Oregon and Oracle continue their legal battle, which is essentially a fight to determine which is 51% to blame, and which is only 49%.

Bees Still Croaking en Masse
The United States has just over 2.5 million managed honey bee colonies, Oregon acting as home to a metric funkload of them (a scientific term). This also explains why I had to run screaming all over the place when I lived here as a child, and why I had to freak out in the back seat of the family car so bad one day that the police pulled us over. Thanks, beekeepers. Here’s lookin’ at you. ::obscene gesture::

Anyway, as most people are aware, there has been a crisis in recent times over massive bee die-offs. Despite efforts to combat the situation, Oregon lost 21% of its honey bees between last October and this past March. This is just under the 22% annual losses reported over the past six years. In order to replace a lost bee colony, healthy hives must be split in half, and so must one’s bank account, as the costs for labor, equipment, and new queen bees add up quickly.

Bees are kicking the bucket for a few different reasons, including disease, poor nutrition, restricted diets, and pesticides. They are responsible each year for $15 billion worth of successful pears, cherries, broccoli, carrots, nuts, onions, mustard, and other crops. Despite my problems with the little stinging yellow rabblerousers, even I have to acknowledge their necessity. Mustard is the best.

To Label, or Not to Label…
An anti-GMO effort veiled as a food rights initiative will likely be seen on this November’s ballot after an estimated 150,000-plus signatures were submitted for qualification. In order to be accepted, 87,213 of the signatures must be verified as valid by the Oregon Secretary of State’s Office. If passed, the initiative would require GMOs to be labeled on foodstuffs in the state.

Proponents cheer the effort on in an attempt to champion individual’s rights to know what’s in their food; however, opponents accuse the document of being worded so poorly that it would fail to give consumers reliable information—and at the same time hurt thousands of family farmers, small store owners, and wind up increasing grocery bills. Two similar initiatives failed in California and Washington over the last two years.

Last time I checked, here in America we voted based on the issue, not the “wording” of some hippy-dippy document, am I right? I don’t think George Washington would tolerate anything that sounded good but failed hard on paper within our great country, or state for that matter. Hold on while I sweep Cover Oregon under the rug.

Air BnBummer?
As Portlandian as a flasher spanging for a bag of Cheetos, Air Bnb has gotten really popular in recent years. The idea is that homeowners can book space in their place, whether they’re there or out of town, and people can take the offers and stay on their property while traveling. Just register on Airbnb.com and toss in the information. Beatniks love it, hippies love it, hipsters love it, yuppies love it… serial killers might be into it. It’s a win, win, win, win, win, sorta lose situation. Whoever was hosting the space was responsible for calculating room tax and snagging it before the traveler skipped town. As you can imagine, a lot of this money was lost in the sofa.

Well, now Air Bnb hosts in Multnomah County and the city of Portland will have the tax automatically added to the reservation. Damn, dog. The Transient Lodging Tax, as it is eloquently known, is about 11.5% of the listing price plus any cleaning fee for reservations shorter than 30 days. In Portland it’ll be 6%.

While it doesn’t sound like much, a lot of people use Air Bnb because it’s cheap and interesting. I’d rather sleep on the street than on some creeper’s hide-a-bed, personally, but I feel for these folks. I really do.

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