The IUSB Vision Weblog

The way to crush the middle class is to grind them between the millstones of taxation and inflation. – Vladimir Lenin

Government Gone Wild: Oregon Wants to GPS Your Car and Tax You by the Mile – Houston Engaging in Eminent Domain Abuse to Aid Political Donors – UPDATE – STATE OF OREGON RESPONDS!

Posted by iusbvision on December 29, 2008

Track your every move…

Albany Democrat-Herald excerpt:

A year ago, the Oregon Department of Transportation announced it had demonstrated that a new way to pay for roads — via a mileage tax and satellite technology — could work.

Now Gov. Ted Kulongoski says he’d like the legislature to take the next step.

As part of a transportation-related bill he has filed for the 2009 legislative session, the governor says he plans to recommend “a path to transition away from the gas tax as the central funding source for transportation.”

What that means is explained on the governor’s website:

“As Oregonians drive less and demand more fuel-efficient vehicles, it is increasingly important that the state find a new way, other than the gas tax, to finance our transportation system.”

A GPS-based system kept track of the in-state mileage driven by the volunteers.

The first few paragraphs in the story imply that the mileage tax will be used to replace the gas tax – but here is the last line of the story:

The gas tax would stay in force — Kulongoski has proposed that it be raised 2 cents — for vehicles not equipped to pay the mileage tax.

So they want to raid the gas tax too. Ok can I see a show of hands here, who really believes that such a system would never be used to track citizens, compromise their privacy or be abused? Ok I see that the only people raising their hands are the exact same idiots who want nationalized health care. Since your trust in government is so unshakable let’s move on to Houston.

Houston Chronicle:

When finished, the .09-acre patch of land near the Galleria will be the city’s smallest park. Too small even for a basketball court, Post Oak Lane Park might be big enough for a game of horseshoes, a few benches and greenery.

Using its power of eminent domain, the city of Houston seized the land for the park from brothers James and Jock Collins last year. Officials claimed there was a “public necessity” for the park in the Uptown area, despite the fact that a much larger one — the 4.7-acre Grady Park — is just two blocks away.

What will the new “pocket park” be used for? That’s hard to say. The city has yet to draw up any plans for the land at the corner of Post Oak Lane and San Felipe. In fact, city parks director Joe Turner testified in a sworn deposition last month that his department did not come up with the idea for the park and that he opposed using condemnation powers for its creation.

What the park will provide is a landscaped gateway to an upscale development planned next door, called BLVD Place.

Mayor Bill White and council members insist they condemned the land last year as a matter of good faith to taxpayers. The city needed some of the land to widen San Felipe and will turn the rest into the park.

But documents obtained by the Houston Chronicle show the move also helped BLVD Place developer Ed Wulfe, a major donor to White, seal the deal on a $12.5 million land sale related to his ambitious mixed-use development.

It gets better:

Ed Wulfe has given White $10,000 in campaign contributions since 2005, while Hanover executives have donated at least $21,000 to the mayor. Councilman Brown, whose wife is an investor in the BLVD Place development, received at least $3,500 from Wulfe and $6,500 from Hanover executives during the same period.

Brown did not recuse himself from the condemnation vote; he voted for it. Councilwoman Pam Holm, who documents show was intimately involved in the decision to seize the land, has received $2,000 from Wulfe and $10,000 from Hanover employees.

The Chronicle comments:

Councilman Peter Brown’s vote to condemn the land next to BLVD Place is the kind of action the state’s conflict-of-interest rules were meant to prevent.

Brown is married to oil-services heiress Anne Schlumberger, who is an investor in BLVD Place. Under Texas conflict-of-interest law, a public official should recuse himself from a vote involving a property if he, his spouse or close relative has a “substantial interest,” valued at more than a $2,500.

Both the corrupt Mayor and members of the city council are using legal means in an attempt to resist deposition by the eminent domain abuse victim’s attorneys. Obviously going under oath and repeating their lies could have consequences, just as reversing themselves under oath would.

 

UPDATE: Betsy Imholt, who runs the “GPS in your car to tax you more program” in Oregon has left a comment which I have responded to.

I’m the administrator for the Road User Fee Pilot Program at ODOT. I understand that there is concern over Oregon’s interest in a mileage fee. However, there is a few things I would like to explain.

Oregon is preparing to replace the gas tax when it no longer will be a adequate revenue source to fund our roads. Cars will be on the market next year that will get over 100 miles per gallon. This is great news for the environment but problematic for road funding. Knowing this problem is coming, Oregon has led the nation in developing possible solutions. Charging by the mile rather than by the gallon is one possible solution.

With that said, Oregon has worked through the details of developing a mileage fee system over the last seven years at the direction of the Road User Fee Task Force. Like you, the Task Force shared many of your concerns which we have addressed though our work as described below.

Privacy. ODOT was directed by the task force to protect the privacy of Oregonians while developing the mileage fee system. The mileage counting device that was designed for the study receives a GPS signal (much like a television or radio receives signals) to locate itself but does not transmit a signal. Therefore, there is no ability for anyone’s car to be tracked. The mileage counter tallies miles driven within Oregon and does not create a travel history. A mileage fee could be charged without the use of GPS but the downside would be that Oregonians would be charged for miles driven out of state, something the task force wanted to avoid.

No retrofitting. ODOT’s mileage fee concept does not include installing any devices in existing cars. Instead we propose that auto companies equip the vehicles at manufacturing much like they already do with other government mandated standards like seat belts and emission controls.

Fairness. Some people assume all vehicles will pay the same mileage fee rate and this would be unfair to drivers of fuel efficient vehicles. This may not be true because the rates and structure have yet to be decided. A flat rate of one cent per mile was used for the pilot study however the rate could differ for different types of vehicles.

Rural motorists. Rural motorists could gain under a mileage fee proposal depending on how it is structured. Because we know that rural Oregonians drive larger, less fuel efficient vehicles, they are already paying more in gas taxes for driving the same miles than their urban counterparts. If the mileage fee was a flat rate, like one cent per mile like in the pilot test, rural drivers would actually pas LESS.

More info (reports, videos, etc) can be found at: http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/HWY/RUFPP/mileage.shtml

Here is our response…

Betsy,

I appreciate you writing but the problem with the program is a fundamental issue of trust and common sense and it is of little surprise to me that a bureaucrat like yourself just doesn’t get it.

People who have lost their jobs drive less; others are driving more fuel efficient cars to use less gas for economic as well as national security reasons as everyone has been talking about. So now that people are conserving more here comes the bureaucrat to punish them for it.

Everyone is getting by with less…. well not everyone… everyone except you. Here is a novel idea Betsy, everyone is getting by with less, so government should too.

Also with all due respect, you claim that Oregon wants to “REPLACE” the gas tax with this new system. Since when does government repeal taxes and government programs?? It doesn’t. If you expect people to sit here and actually believe that the gas tax would be repealed as you imply, I have a bridge in Brooklyn I would like to sell you. Your own governor said that he wants this program and wants to raise the gas tax on top of it.

It is also amusing, by your own admission, that the state does not want to pay for these GPS devices, but that car buyers have to pay for them because the state will mandate that they be put in the vehicles; so that is another tax, and as if cars were not expensive enough already.

Here is a lesson in economics 101; when the economy is bad it is a result of a loss of liquidity among the public and a loss of confidence. Raising taxes lowers BOTH.

There are also privacy issues and the idea of “big brother”. Bureaucrats are famous for making sure that they are not held accountable for when things go wrong. Betsy, would you be willing to accept a provision in the law that would mandate 20 years in prison without possibility of parole, for you and your staff if these devices are ever used to track someone’s whereabouts. You won’t do it because if one thing is always consistent, it is that government breaks any and all promises when it comes to limiting its own power and influence.

Betsy, you and your staff are paid to sell this program, and if it is stopped you are either out of a job or looking for a new one. There is no reason to believe that your view is objective or in the least bit credible and there is every reason and incentive to believe that your views are entirely self serving at the expense of the people of Oregon and the nation.

If the State of Oregon would like to save some money, may I suggest certain personnel reductions? – Editor

3 Responses to “Government Gone Wild: Oregon Wants to GPS Your Car and Tax You by the Mile – Houston Engaging in Eminent Domain Abuse to Aid Political Donors – UPDATE – STATE OF OREGON RESPONDS!”

  1. I’m the administrator for the Road User Fee Pilot Program at ODOT. I understand that there is concern over Oregon’s interest in a mileage fee. However, there is a few things I would like to explain.

    Oregon is preparing to replace the gas tax when it no longer will be a adequate revenue source to fund our roads. Cars will be on the market next year that will get over 100 miles per gallon. This is great news for the environment but problematic for road funding. Knowing this problem is coming, Oregon has led the nation in developing possible solutions. Charging by the mile rather than by the gallon is one possible solution.

    With that said, Oregon has worked through the details of developing a mileage fee system over the last seven years at the direction of the Road User Fee Task Force. Like you, the Task Force shared many of your concerns which we have addressed though our work as described below.

    Privacy. ODOT was directed by the task force to protect the privacy of Oregonians while developing the mileage fee system. The mileage counting device that was designed for the study receives a GPS signal (much like a television or radio receives signals) to locate itself but does not transmit a signal. Therefore, there is no ability for anyone’s car to be tracked. The mileage counter tallies miles driven within Oregon and does not create a travel history. A mileage fee could be charged without the use of GPS but the downside would be that Oregonians would be charged for miles driven out of state, something the task force wanted to avoid.

    No retrofitting. ODOT’s mileage fee concept does not include installing any devices in existing cars. Instead we propose that auto companies equip the vehicles at manufacturing much like they already do with other government mandated standards like seat belts and emission controls.

    Fairness. Some people assume all vehicles will pay the same mileage fee rate and this would be unfair to drivers of fuel efficient vehicles. This may not be true because the rates and structure have yet to be decided. A flat rate of one cent per mile was used for the pilot study however the rate could differ for different types of vehicles.

    Rural motorists. Rural motorists could gain under a mileage fee proposal depending on how it is structured. Because we know that rural Oregonians drive larger, less fuel efficient vehicles, they are already paying more in gas taxes for driving the same miles than their urban counterparts. If the mileage fee was a flat rate, like one cent per mile like in the pilot test, rural drivers would actually pas LESS.

    More info (reports, videos, etc) can be found at: http://www.oregon.gov/ODOT/HWY/RUFPP/mileage.shtml

    [Betsy,

    I appreciate you writing but the problem with the program is a fundamental issue of trust and common sense and it is of little surprise to me that a bureaucrat like yourself just doesn’t get it.

    People who have lost their jobs drive less; others are driving more fuel efficient cars to use less gas for economic as well as national security reasons as everyone has been talking about. So now that people are conserving more here comes the bureaucrat to punish them for it.

    Everyone is getting by with less…. well not everyone… everyone except you. Here is a novel idea Betsy, everyone is getting by with less, so government should too.

    Also with all due respect, you claim that Oregon wants to “REPLACE” the gas tax with this new system. Since when does government repeal taxes and government programs?? It doesn’t. If you expect people to sit here and actually believe that the gas tax would be repealed as you imply, I have a bridge in Brooklyn I would like to sell you. Your own governor said that he wants this program and wants to raise the gas tax on top of it.

    It is also amusing, by your own admission, that the state does not want to pay for these GPS devices, but that car buyers have to pay for them because the state will mandate that they be put in the vehicles; so that is another tax, and as if cars were not expensive enough already.

    Here is a lesson in economics 101; when the economy is bad it is a result of a loss of liquidity among the public and a loss of confidence. Raising taxes lowers BOTH.

    There are also privacy issues and the idea of “big brother”. Bureaucrats are famous for making sure that they are not held accountable for when things go wrong. Betsy, would you be willing to accept a provision in the law that would mandate 20 years in prison without possibility of parole, for you and your staff if these devices are ever used to track someone’s whereabouts. You won’t do it because if one thing is always consistent, it is that government breaks any and all promises when it comes to limiting its own power and influence.

    Betsy, you and your staff are paid to sell this program, and if it is stopped you are either out of a job or looking for a new one. There is no reason to believe that your view is objective or in the least bit credible and there is every reason and incentive to believe that your views are entirely self serving at the expense of the people of Oregon and the nation.

    If the State of Oregon would like to save some money, may I suggest certain personnel reductions? – Editor]

  2. Zachary Vishanoff said

    I have posted six videos on Youtube explaining details of how Nike is using the University of Oregon for ongoing eminent domain activity here in Eugene, Oregon. To find the videos use the search at the Youtube website with keywords: nike university of oregon.

    [I will take a peek – Editor]

  3. Its nice to find rural development information. I found your blog after lots of searching on Google

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