UPDATE: Prompted by reader comments on this story from the Corvallis Gazette-Times, Mr. Scatter checked the Web site of the Federal Elections Commission for expenditures by Jim Huffman, Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate running against Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon. Huffman’s campaign has paid Third Century Solutions, the listed publishers of Economic Times of Oregon, $75,036 in five payments listed variously as “campaign management services,” “strategic consulting,” “media buy” and “printing.” That doesn’t mean that Huffman financed the ad insert Economic Times of Oregon — that money could well have been for other services rendered. Nevertheless, it’s an interesting money trail.
By Bob Hicks
Mr. Scatter was a trifle curious about a four-page newspaper-looking advertising insert that plonked on his porch this morning inside his copy of The Oregonian.
Economic Times of Oregon, it’s called, and the banner story on what may or may not be a continuing publication — it’s referred to as “Volume One, Issue 1” — is alarming, indeed: Oregon takes second in Hopelessness Index. Are things that bad? Well, Mr. Scatter just gives up.
Alongside this tale of cultural woe (and let’s face it: like most states, Oregon’s in an economic pickle) is a chart that measures both traditional and “total” unemployment rates — or what the publication refers to as the “Hopelessness Index.” The chart lists only 12 of the 50 states, and of those 12, the figure for Oregon is the fourth-highest, behind California, Michigan and Nevada. (North Dakota’s looking pretty good.)
So, Oregon ranks fourth out of 12 but second out of 50? Mr. Scatter is puzzled. A teaser on the cover asks the provocative question, “Are we getting the most out of school spending?” If the mathematicians at Economic Times of Oregon are products of the Oregon school system, we’d have to say no.
Which brings up the obvious, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid question: Who are these guys, anyway?
No names on any of the stories, but the masthead, such as it is, calls the Times “A Project of Third Century Solutions.” (Again, Mr. Scatter is not sure how they’re counting, but wouldn’t “third century” make their thinking pre-medieval?)
Who is Third Century Solutions? Let’s ask Mr. Google.
“Thank you for your interest. This website is currently under construction,” says the site for thirdcenturysolutions.com.
Next in line is this listing for Third Century Solutions LLC, giving this scant information: 311B Ave, Lake Oswego, OR 97034, 503-675-7366. Sure enough, the phone number matches one printed on the inset.
Still, who the heck are they?
Down a little farther on the Google search is a LinkedIn listing for Jim Pasero, who lists himself as “partner” at Third Century Solutions. Click to see his full profile and you’re greeted with this: “Jim Pasero is not currently open to receiving Introductions or InMail …”
But Mr. Pasero has another LinkedIn profile, listing him as “owner at BrainstormNW LLC.”
BrainstormNW, as you may recall, was a supposedly think tank-y magazine,Â published in Lake Oswego, with a right-wing bent. (Mr. Scatter does not like to use the word “conservative,” because its meaning has become so debased.) The magazine ceased publication last year.
Finally, the Google search reveals this story, reporter Bennett Hall’s The Story Behind That Ad on the Economy, published Oct. 27 in the Corvallis Gazette-Times. Hall describes Third Century as “a Lake Oswego public affairs and public relations firm with expertise in economic issues,” and quotes partner Bridget Barton as saying the insert “is meant to be educational only.”
Then he writes:
If the pro-business, anti-big government tone of the Third Century Solutions insert had a familiar ring to some readers, it may be because Barton and her partner, Jim Pasero, were the editor and publisher of Brainstorm NW, a conservative monthly magazine that covered Oregon politics and other issues from 1997 to 2009.
Oregon has a statewide election on Tuesday, by the way. One of the candidates for governor is a former governor who is dinged in an “analysis” in Economic Times of Oregon for being one of “a string of governors (to) enact tax and regulatory policies that send business into a tailspin.”
Insert Friday. Election Tuesday. “Education only” content surely not subject to reporting as political expenditure.
Nah. That’s a Brainstorm.