Wednesday, October 28, 2009

My action

I had a great day on the Willamette River Saturday joining approximately 200 kayaks and canoes as we wrote 350 using our boats. This was part of 350.0rg's International Day of Climate Action.

It was challenging as we had to navigate the river's current while organizing ourselves into a shape that was impossible to see from our position on the water. The action was a perfect metaphor to the climate change solution.
  • It took the collective action of many.
  • There was no single leader yet their was leadership from many people.
  • The people, assisted the leaders by listening and responding to their guidance.
  • We didn't get it right the first time but kept innovating until we figured it out.
You can watch a great video of the action here. Kayakers Action in Portland from Epicocity Project on Vimeo.

Finally, I owe a big shout out to the law firm of Roberts Kaplan for inviting me to participate. I'm looking forward to the day TriLibrium has the resources to invite clients and colleagues to such an event.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Corporate taxes in Oregon

The Oregon legislature passed a bill this last session increasing the minimum corporate tax from $10 to $150. The $10 minimum fee hasn't changed since 1931! Faced with massive budget deficits, the legislature enacted a combination of spending cuts and increased taxes to address the problem.

The bill was challenged through the referendum process so the issue will be voted on by Oregon voters in January. A "Yes" vote will keep the tax increases and the services these funds provide, a "No" vote will stop the tax increase forcing a deep cut in human services.

The legislative spending cuts were deep and real. I've talked to teachers who now have 3-5 more kids in every class increasing their workload. My teenage daughter has mentioned both the increased class size and the decreased school district support for athletics, music and other extra curricula activities like debate, dance, and more.

The tax increases were responsible and targeted. The tax increase on individuals only hits those earning $125,000 ($250,000 for married couples) or more, and then, the tax increase only hits their income ABOVE $125,000 ($250,000 for married couples). For corporations, they increased the minimum tax as noted above, and, also added a gross receipts tax of .0015 for corporations with $500,000 or more in Oregon sales. Both of these groups (corporations and wealthy people) can afford these very modest increases. Without the increases, the service cuts would be even deeper.

I had an "In My Opinion" piece in the morning's Oregonian. Check it our if you'd like to read more.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Importance of Accounting

I see far too many businesses and startups minimize their accounting investment. An accounting system should be a strategic asset, yet it works more like an anchor or a sinker for many organizations because they don't understand or appreciate the value of a strong accounting system.

There was a great story recently on some financial problems at the Bicycle Transportation Alliance (BTA). It seems they didn't know what was going on and they ended up with a series of errors that left them showing a nearly $100,000 loss on $1.3 million of revenue. They weren't aware of the problems because their books weren't in order.

I'm a founding member of the BTA and appreciate all their hard work and advocacy on behalf of biking. I'm not picking on them but just want to show a real example of what can happen when your accounting system fails.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

International Day of Action

I'm excited about Saturday, October 24th. That is the International Day of Climate Action being promoted by the folks at As I write, there are nearly 2,500 actions planned in over 150 countries to help build international awareness and momentum around the scientific consensus that the CO2 our atmosphere should not exceed 350 parts per million (ppm).

On October 24th, I will be joining a group of human powered boats on the Willamette River to write the numbers 350 with our boats. What a fun and creative action this will be. If you visit the site, you can join an existing action or create your own. The point is to be engaged and involved because none of us can do this alone.

This is really a wonderful opportunity to re orientate our world with a sustainable economic system. The Chinese symbol for crisis is a combination of Danger + Opportunity. Both are present and I'd like to see us seize the opportunity and avoid the danger.

The current CO2 concentration is 387 ppm and climbing by 2 ppm per year. Scientists tell us that we must reverse this trend, reducing our global emissions to bring CO2 levels below 350 ppm.

While this poses challenges, I am proud that Portland has decreased per capita emissions 17 percent below 1990 levels, while the rest of the country has increase CO2 emissions by nearly 20 percent in the same time frame. We've done this through a variety of measures including land use planning, zoning, tree planting, hybrid autos, improved public transportation, multi-model transportation support, and more.

What are you doing on October 24th? I hope you'll join me in changing the world.