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Deadline for our May 2005 issue: April 24.
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CONTENTS: (to return here just click the headline)
For more information, email Lars Rindsig at email@example.com
Green Party of Ontario leader Frank de Jong won 10 per cent of the vote in the special March 17 provincial parliament election in Dufferin Peel Wellington Gray. That surprisingly strong support represents the second-best showing ever by the Green Party at that level.
The NDP (socialists) won 14 per cent, the Liberals, running a local environmentalist, won 16.7 per cent, while Progressive Conservative leader John Tory won 56.3 per cent. Three other political parties lagged far behind, highlighting the Green Party's jump to serious standing.
For more on the Green Party of Ontario, visit their web site at: http://www.gpo.ca/
Remember the dates: August 3 - 7, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
In all cases, for more information, please contact CGO Administrator Sue Walton, at: firstname.lastname@example.org or 888/262-9015.
Georgist Michael Hudson has the lead article in the April issue of Harpers Magazine, entitled "The $4.7 Trillion Pyramid: Why Social Security won't be enough to save Wall Street."
GN Comments: A report from Jeffery Smith of the Forum on Geonomics.
The first Senate Joint Resolution of the Oregon Legislative Assembly 2005 regular session is geonomic. It was introduced by Sen Ryan Deckert of Bearverton, a suburb of Portland, spurred on by Rep Jackie Dingfelder, and at the request of both last year's Senate Interim Committee on Revenue and of the Portland Development Commission. If passed, SJR 1 would go on the ballot at the next regular general election. If passed by voters, it would amend the Oregon Constitution to allow cities and counties to replace the uniform ad valorem property tax with one having different tax rates for land and for buildings.
A local taxing district could set the rate on improvements at zero, creating a pure site-value tax in lieu of the conventional property tax. This measure would exempt site-value taxes from the current constitutional limits imposed on property taxes and property assessments. Any tax on sites would fall on the real market value of the site. A jurisdiction could take up to five years to shift their rate on buildings down and their rate on sites up. They'd have to submit the shift to local voter approval.
To win over a majority, SJR 1 needs to be revised so that the exemptions that property owners lose - and not long ago voted for overwhelmingly - would be replaced by a per capita rebate. That is, some portion of the revenue raised by taxing land would be returned to all Oregon taxpayers as a dividend. Oregon once had renter rebates (as did California) and now has its "kicker" - a constitutional requirement to divide up any surplus public revenue among taxpayers. This guaranteed apportionment would make the kicker a fixture.
AND THIS JUST IN - On March 30, a hearing on SJR 1 was held and the Senate Revenue committee liked the idea enough to schedule a second hearing for it.
Contact Jeffery Smith at email@example.com for more information and to help.
GN Comments: The SJR 1 legislation mentioned above is particularly timely, because Oregon's grip on "who owns what" is deteriorating. Without sensible land value taxation, the state is not going to fare well. Here is a Washington Post report, condensed by Ed Dodson:
HOOD RIVER, Ore. - The nation's strongest laws against sprawl are beginning to buckle here in Oregon under pressure from an even stronger, voter-approved law that trumps growth restrictions with property rights.
The property-rights law, which was approved overwhelmingly by voters last fall and is known as Measure 37, is on the brink of wrecking Oregon's best-in-the-nation record of reining in sprawl, according to state officials and national planning experts. They say the new law illustrates a nationwide paradox in public opinion: Although voters tend to favor protection of farmland and open space, they vote down these protections if they perceive them as restrictions on personal rights.
The law compels the government to pay cash to longtime property owners when land-use restrictions reduce the value of their property - or, if the government can't pay, to allow owners to develop their land as they see fit.
Because there is virtually no local or state money to pay landowners, Measure 37 is starting to unravel smart-growth laws that have defined living patterns, set land prices and protected open space in this state for more than three decades.
Although the unraveling is being watched with alarm by smart-growth advocates across the country, it is exactly what local backers of the new law say they want as recompense for what they describe as years of arbitrary bossiness in the enforcement of land-use restrictions. Smart-growth laws attempt to direct development to areas served by existing roads and utilities and curtail new housing and business construction that will sprawl out to rural areas.
Thanks to Oregon's new law, anti-sprawl legislation has lost political momentum across the country, according to Harvey Jacobs, a professor of urban planning at the University of Wisconsin. "It has really excited the property-rights movement and suggests to its supporters that they can challenge smart-growth laws everywhere," he said.
Land-use restrictions first began to trigger a national voter backlash in the early 1990s, when a number of states - Florida, Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi - passed property-rights laws to protect landowners from monetary losses caused by zoning. But none of these laws was broadly written and none has had a significant impact on local land-use regulation, according to John Echeverria, executive director of the Georgetown Environmental Law and Policy Institute.
A nearly identical bill has been introduced this year in the Montana legislature. In bordering Washington state, which is second only to Oregon in the toughness of its land-use laws, farm and building lobbies are working to put a similar initiative on the state ballot.
State financial records ... show that small family farmers contributed virtually nothing to the Family Farm Preservation political action committee that bankrolled Measure 37. Most of the money came from timber companies and real estate interests that stand to profit if, as many here expect, large tracts of forests and farmland are unlocked for development.
... a major complaint about Measure 37 is that it has created a privileged group of landowners in Oregon.
"A whole class of owners has special rights and they can exercise them whenever they feel like it," said Ethan Seltzer, director of the School of Urban Studies and Planning at Portland State University.
Oregonians whose families owned property before statewide land-use laws were imposed (beginning in 1973) can take advantage of the monetary and development relief offered under Measure 37, but those who bought land afterward cannot.
Another major problem with Measure 37 is that it requires no public hearings or notification of neighbors when a longtime landowner decides to turn a farm into a strip mall. The law, in fact, says nothing about the rights of neighbors.
Bill Batt has found an interesting essay contest at this web site: http://www.abetterearth.org/index.php
Contestants choose one of three questions to answer in their essays. The questions have to do with common rights, property rights, externalities and related subjects. Cash prizes will be awarded to the winners.
Will some Georgists enter this contest?
Georgist Steven B. Cord has completed a new book, "The Golden Key to Continuous Prosperity."
Cord explains how a land rental tax can effectively replace others to generate revenue for this country while benefiting every American.
"Continuous prosperity can be within our grasp - provided we institute the simple economic reform fully documented in these pages. This is what this book promises:
More information is available at http://www.GoldenKeyLowerTaxesCord.com
Here is a web site address that you should visit: http://mop.ebloggy.com/
It's called 'The Menace of Privilege,' named after Henry George Jr.'s powerful 1905 book.
But you won't find a conventional web site there. It's a "blog," a frequently-updated stream of commentary and replies. This project is the work of Charles Metalitz, head of the Henry George School in Chicago.
Metalitz writes, "The 'Menace of Privilege' blog is intended mainly as a resource for Georgist instructors and others who want current or otherwise interesting examples of the economic principles we teach."
Who else is blogging? Should there be more Georgist blogs?
GN Comments: We have received this news note from Jeffery J. Smith of the Forum on Geonomics.
Merry Equinox. This world works in wondrous ways. Did you know...
Read all about it and more in the spring issue of The Geonomist at http://www.progress.org/geonomy/geonom134.htm
Tell a friend, even a list of them.
Let me know if you want a hard copy, complete with the popular cartoons.
GN Comments: Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
The state legislature of Utah has passed a bill directing the Utah Tax Review Commission to conduct a study relating to land value property tax systems, and to make a final report by November 30, 2005.
For more information, contact Joshua Vincent of the Center for the Study of Economics at email@example.com
Georgist Al Hartheimer taught a course in "Progess and Poverty" at Williams College during January. And he's going to do so again.
Hartheimer has found that many other colleges are open to offering the same short course during mid-winter terms - so perhaps we can replicate his results across the country.
Hartheimer has compiled his experiences and findings into a report called "A Good Experience and a Great Opportunity."
For a copy of his report, contact Al directly at firstname.lastname@example.org
by Ed Dodson
Hickok offers some basic equations to set rates of taxation for capturing of annual rental values and writes about the impact of LVT on land specuation. I am adding this paper to the School of Cooperative Individualism library. If anyone has the time to study the alegebra and offer concurrence or challenge Mr. Hickok's methodology, this might be a valuable addition to the paper.
Here is the link:
GN Comments: Thanks to Ed Dodson for notifying us about this event.
Neighborhoods USA (NUSA) will hold its 30th National Conference on Neighborhood Concerns, May 25-28 in Sacramento, California.
NUSA is a national organizations that brings together neighborhood activists and people in local government working with neighborhoods for workshops on all aspects of neighborhood participation and programming, as well as neighborhood tours of the host city and various social events. NUSA "provides opportunities for diverse people and organizations to share their ideas, values and experiences to build stronger communities."
You can see the entire program and register for the conference online at: http://www.discovergold.org/nusa
For more information about Neighborhoods USA, visit: http://www.nusa.org
The Project for Public Spaces will be running two separate workshops, "How to Turn a Place Around" and "How to Create Successful Public Markets," on May 19-20, 2005 in New York City.
For more information, visit: http://www.pps.org/info/ppsnews/httapa_training_course
On March 17, 2005, Roy Corr passed away. Corr was a long-time instructor at the Henry George School of Chicago, and often attended CGO conferences.
For more details, contact Chuck Metalitz of the Henry George School of Chicago at email@example.com
Never retire. Michelangelo was carving the Rondanini just before he died at 89. Verdi finished his opera Falstaff at 80. And the 80-year-old Spanish artist Goya scrawled on a drawing, "I am still learning."
- Dr. W. Gifford-Jones
Be as upbeat as you can be. The basic success orientation is having an optimistic attitude.
- John DePasquale
The real winners in life are the people who look at every situation with an expectation that they can make it work or make it better.
- Barbara Hetcher
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