My coffee-spitting moment came early this morning while reading The Oregonian. Apparently, the Oregon House of Representatives passed the “Code of the West” yesterday.
We are in a major budget crisis. We face huge issues over health care coverage and school funding, our public structures are crumbling for lack of investment, and predatory businesses want to destroy consumer protection. All of that is in play. Yet, the Oregon House wants to ignore the people’s business.
There are actually two offenses here. First is the offense against the people and the treasury of Oregon. Each day the House is in session, we spend money. On them. So if they are going to convene, the House owes it to us to spend the time and money on things that matter.
Let me be clear. I generally respect the work of the Oregon Legislature. If you wander the halls, you will find quiet workers and visionary leaders. Calling out the Code of the West goofiness should not be viewed as indictment of all that is good there.
The proponents of this Grand Action have a bigger problem and more egg on their face. Those of us who grew up in the western U.S. know that we do not need politicians to pass laws to tell us how to live. I imagine most true Westerners are laughing heartily at this idea. Think about it: A group of self-important jerks gets ahold of a pen, finds some paper, drafts a bill, amends the draft, holds hearings, debates, and then votes. And that vote is simply to enact the values that Oregonians live by. Kids-your clown noses do not look pretty.
Memo to the Oregon House: Get to work or go home. We don’t need this kind of foolishness.
Here is the link to a recent NPR story regarding culinary schools and the disconnect between culinary careers and the costs of culinary school. Interesting quote from the of Career Education Corp. executive Kirk Bachmann about the calculations of placement rates. He notes that CEC schools do not include Starbucks barristas in their placement rates. As we say at the beginning of a deposition, “Swear the witness. I have a few questions.”
On a side note, Le Cordon Bleu Portland/Western Culinary Institute recently announced plans to drop its associates degree. We’ll be interested in finding out more about that as well.
Meanwhile, our class action case continues forward against these defendants. Cases like this are slow, but we are on track.
Kudos to Steve Duin of The Oregonian for this column on Azusa Suzuki’s struggle to prove that she is entitled to Regence Blue Cross supplemental medicare insurance coverage for medical expenses incurred in a motor vehicle collision.
Apparently Regence decided that Ms. Suzuki was dead and–for that reason–Regence decided it did not need to pay her bills. She worked for years to prove she’s very much alive. It sounds almost comical. But if you watch the linked video or read the article, it’s apparent that outrage is the only response.
The Duin article points up a serious problem in Oregon. Consumers are at the mercy of insurance companies. When they do not pay claims, when they violate Oregon law, and when they do not fairly adjust claims, Oregon consumers are virtually out of luck. The problem is a lack of consumer remedies against insurance companies that misbehave.
Senator Chip Shields is trying to fix that. He has introduced a bill–SB 719–which protect Oregon consumers by making insurance companies meet the bare standards set out in Oregon’s Unlawful Trade Practices Act.
In this session of godawful Salem bills, it’s nice to see the champions of consumers are still fighting for the rest of us. Appreciation is due–as always–to Sen. Shields. Consumers have few friends in the Oregon legislature. He is one of our best.
We are starting to get calls and emails about the class action settlement with Comcast.
Here is the link to the settlement information
A few recurring questions:
1. The settlement applies to Oregon Comcast subscribers
2. It is limited to subscribers who paid late fees on Cable TV bills.
3. The link above takes you to a claim form which you must open, print, fill out and mail.
4. The mailing address for claim forms and deadline information for filing the claim are also in the link posted above.
Contact us here. I am class counsel and will do my best to answer your questions.
One of the best articles I’ve seen recently on for-profit colleges. Please, please, please read this if you or anyone in your family is thinking about a for-profit school.
From the trenches, we continue to pursue our class action against Le Cordon Bleu Portland (formerly known as Western Culinary Institute) and its parent, Career Education Corp. Consumer fraud class actions are difficult cases.
Best to avoid the damage in the first place by saying no to overpriced for-profit colleges. Don’t let the slick marketing fool you; you’re often better off at a less-costly community college.
One more thing. To our leaders in Congress, your active oversight can fix this problem. But you need to do more than regulate for the future. A generation of students are effectively underwater for life because of lax regulation. Seems to me that you need to fix this problem.
I will re-post this after the holidays, but this is important. Here is the link to settlement information on our Oregon cable TV late fee, including important information on how to make a claim.
If you are a class member and you have questions, please feel free to contact us.
In today’s Oregonian, Julie Sullivan (aka “the one-woman wrecking crew”) reports here on emerging details of KBR’s request for a taxpayer bailout. Short version is that as revealed by depositions taken in our Oregon Army National Guard toxic injury case, Bixby v. KBR, KBR won a special secret contract clause that requires the government to pay in the event of injuries or deaths.
Special thanks to Rep. Earl Blumenauer who pushed the Department of Defense on this issue. Along with Sen. Wyden, Sen. Merkley and Rep. Schrader, Rep. Blumenauer has made it a point to take a hard look at these issues and provide critical assistance to our vets. Members of the Oregon Congressional delegation have been fabulous. Their hard work provides real comfort to the vets who stepped up to serve.
One question that occurs to me is whether that clause is enforceable if the vets in the Bixby case succeed in proving fraud by KBR. I don’t profess any particular expertise in this area. And even if I did, the details remain secret, so it’s likely impossible to know how that plays out.
As a taxpayer and as counsel for the sick vets, I’m steamed. KBR already got paid billions for their work, and now they want a get-out-of-jail-free card so that they don’t have to pay for any consequences of their actions? Great plan.
Good to see that the Senate is set to pass S. 510, a bill that would help regulate food producers. By way of background, we’ve had a lot of outbreaks of food-related disease due to unsafe and unregulated food producers. The problem is exacerbated by the rise of large scale farming. When unregulated and unsafe producers are large scale, the havoc caused by tainted food spreads far and wide.
That’s how we get the salmonella and E. coli outbreaks. A bad peanut processor in Georgia can cause havoc here in Oregon. Food-borne sickness causes 5,000 deaths a year and 300,000 hospitalizations. That’s a serious safety issue.
To hear opponents talk about it, the passage of amendments to our food safety laws represents a profound danger of government meddling and over-regulation. On my Facebook page, a family member posted a link to an article arguing that the FDA would soon be outlawing gardeners from saving seeds. There is nothing in the bill that allows anyone to rationally make that argument. Apart from that, the FDA does not have authority or power to regulate home gardens and purely local food producers who sell in-state.
I understand fears of overreaching by the federal government. I’m hardly an apologist for the government. And I’m also a longtime organic gardener, farmers market shopper and supporter of local agriculture. Still, we need to be able to trust our food supply. Seems to me that we shouldn’t have to worry that the peanut butter we buy at the store might be tainted. Kids, sick people, and the elderly are at high risk for dangerous food-borne illnesses. Seems like we should choose safety over fear.
Nice post here on holiday toy safety. It’s a timely reminder for parents and grandparents who might be out shopping for kids’ gifts. There are those who grumble about toy safety initiatives and safety regulations. The reality is that those who complain haven’t faced the horror of a profoundly injured child. Nothing compares to that type of tragedy. No family should have to go through anything like it.
That’s meant as kudos for oregonconsumer.org. There aren’t enough independent voices out there protecting consumers. That’s why I am a supporter.
In today’s Oregonian, Julie Sullivan reports here about a document provided to the soldiers in discovery that is one of those classic smoking guns. In our case, Bixby v. KBR, KBR and Halliburton claim that they didn’t know about the sodium dichromate until late July or August, they claim that they told the Army immediately, they claim that they never used sodium dichromate, and they claim that no one was injured from the exposure.
Against those claims, this pdf document, Team RIO Mtg Min 02 Oct 2003 MCM00739, tells a very different story. The document is a summary of a meeting in Oct 2003 of members of Team RIO (Restore Iraqi Oil). Representatives from KBR, the Army Corp of Engineers (“USACE”) and Iraq’s Southern Oil Company (“SOC”) were discussing the sodium dichromate contamination of the Qarmat Ali Water Treatment Plant.
Qarmat Ali is where our troops provided security to KBR employees as they worked under their secret, no-bid, $7 billion, cost-plus contract to rebuild Iraqi oil production. The document raises a few questions. No doubt the soldiers’ legal team will be exploring those questions when we get to trial.