Tag Archives: Karen Minnis

Should Oregonians Take A Gamble Based on Fear, Lies, and Racism?

15 Oct

On November 6 Oregon voters are being presented with two ballot measures that would create the state’s first private casino. Ballot Measure 82 would amend the constitution to allow private casinos in addition to the nine casinos operated by Federally recognized tribes in the state; Measure 83 would authorize a casino — potentially named “The Grange” — in Wood Village, a small town just east of Portland. The backers of the casino plan are aggressively marketing the measures as something good for Oregon. How accurate are their claims?

Who are the backers of these measures? Two businessmen from Lake Oswego (also sadly known as Lake No Negro), another Portland suburb, and Clairvest, a Canadian firm that operates private casinos in other locations. They’ve tried to pass similar measures before and been soundly defeated. This year they’re using the bad economy, deception, and racism to try one more time.

The nine tribally operated casinos are distributed around the state. The tribes built these casinos based on promises that no private casinos would be built; this included huge investments in land and construction. Tribal casinos provide millions of dollars to local communities — not just tribes — distributed through non-profit foundations. They employ thousands of people of every ethnicity; approximately 75% of the purchases they make come from local businesses.

The backers of Measures 82 and 83 use blatantly racist language to imply selfishness and misdeeds by the tribes. Ignoring the huge local benefits, they emphasize the relative populations fo the tribes and the state, implying greed. Their ads set up the tribes as mysterious “others” who hide their profits. The backers say that the tribal casinos would still benefit “their communities,” setting up an ugly us-and-them mentality. To top it all off, they build on centuries of oppression and genocide, content to reap their corporate profits at the expense of tribal revenues.

And just how honest are the backers? Not very. They point out that 25% of the gross revenues of the casino would go to schools, parks, and economic development. They don’t say that 80% of that money would actually go into the Lottery fund; it currently supports those activities, but that is a very different fact. They also ignore the fact that lottery games give 65% of their proceeds to public causes. That means that the money the private casinos draw away from local lottery business will give back 40% less money. The backers also don’t publicize the fact that Measure 83 grants them an exemption from the annual tax on any lottery machines they would operate, giving them another unfair advantage.

Supporters of the measures talk about the hypothetical 2,000 jobs the Grange would create. They ignore the small businesses that would go under. They ignore the impact on the infrastructure of the county that is not funded in any way. They talk about the “Oregon taxpaying corporation” that would be created to run the casino without mentioning that it would be primarily owned by an international company that would take most of the revenue out of Oregon — unlike the tribal casinos. They hide the fact that Measure 83 authorizes the casino operation without guaranteeing any of the other amenities that Clairvest says it will put in the Grange. We just have to take their word for it.

Besides Measures 82 and 83, the city of Wood Village (home to Karen Minnis, the homophobic ex-Speaker of Oregon’s House of Representatives) would have to approve the Grange. That puts the final decision in the hands of 3800 people, about 1/100th of the population of the state. Every aspect of this proposal is suspect at best and nefarious at worst. Governor Kitzhaber has opposed the measures, an unusual stand for someone in office. Three former governors — both Republican and Democrats — have come out strongly in opposition. The Grange is a pie-in-the-sky boondoggle, a money-maker for people who won’t take NO for an answer. It’s being sold on deception and racism. It’s bad for Oregon and should be rejected soundly, just like the last time.

My Own Manifest Destiny

1 Oct

Michael goes all Portland

Today marks six years that I have been in Oregon and three years that I have lived in Portland, Oregon. My husband and decided to leave Georgia, a place I called home for most of my life, after the virulent anti-gay laws were passed in 2004 and Sonny Perdue was elected Governor.

The laws that were passed regarding the LGBT community stated that one could legally be denied housing, health care, and employment based on sexual orientation. Georgia had become progressively more conservative during the time I lived there, but now it became a question of our safety and comfort.  My husband is a native Oregonian and Marriage Equality had just become a reality there when we decided to move to Oregon (Of course later it was overturned with the full support of the bigot Karen Minnis).

When we first moved here, my in-laws were very kind and very generous to let us live with them in Albany until our house in Atlanta sold and we could buy a house in Salem. (Oy, was Salem the wrong place for a gay couple!) Salem prides itself on being the anti-Portland and it certainly succeeds.  The first weekend we were in Salem we went to the Costco, only to be attacked by a white bigot in his red pickup truck who drove over the median to try and run us over.  Throwing the beer bottle at us and yelling “faggot” was just the icing on the cake for that experience.

There were a series of issues that came up while living in Salem that really pushed me to the edge and made me miss all of my loved ones back in Atlanta.  In our quest to make new friends and get to know some gay folk in Salem, we hosted a potluck; I was guardedly optimistic.  Since moving to Oregon, my anxiety level about living in a predominately white place was rather fever pitched.  There was another couple at this potluck, a white couple our age, that had just moved from Phoenix.  I asked them if they liked Salem, to which they replied, “We love it here. Don’t you?”  I confessed that I was having trouble adjusting, to which one of the gay men responded, “You would rather be back in Atlanta with all of those black people?”  It took everything I had not to slap the man bald.  I was so angry, I had to bite my tongue to prevent myself from crying. I shared what happened with my husband as proof of why I did not feel safe living in a predominately white city. Needless to say, I told my husband we needed to move to Portland and get out of Salem.

Yes, now we live in Portland.  Much has changed in the past six years.  We feel safe in Portland.  I talk to my friends back home and there is so much venom about President Obama, very thinly veiled in racism and here Obama is still very much celebrated. Have we become the characters on Portlandia? Honestly, in some ways we have.  In the three years we have lived in Portland, we had a civil union, giving us more legal protection than any state in the south.  We are starting to make friends from myriad backgrounds. I’m back in school to become a social worker and yes, we have become a bit granola in our ways. We ride our bikes to go grocery shopping.  We try not to use our cars.  All food that we buy is locally grown, organic, and free range.  If and when we dine out, we try to make sure the restaurant buys only locally.  Portland really is becoming a good fit for us, although I certainly miss all the loved ones back in Atlanta.  I hope the next six years will exponentially outshine the previous six years.

%d bloggers like this: