THE CITY HAS FINED town-car companies nearly $16,000 after the Mercury caught their drivers offering cut-rate fares to the airport. During a spot check in July ["Fare Warning," News, July 10], the Mercury found four hotels that were skirting city rules that require town-car service providers to charge customers traveling between downtown and the airport a minimum of $50.

The idea is to stop town cars from competing with licensed cab firms, who charge around $26 for a ride to the airport. But it seems hotel bellhops have been pimping out cheaper town-car fares to hotel customers, in return, presumably, for a cut of the profits.

Frank Dufay, the city's private-for-hire transportation program administrator, planned a sting operation last Tuesday, August 12, and caught 19 drivers either offering too-cheap fares to the airport, or offering rides without a reservation. Now, Dufay says there'll be weekly stings until the alleged problem calms down. "We caught them dead to rights," he says. "Our employees swear and certify that they paid these fares." MD

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The Oregon Center for Public Policy (OCPP), a non-partisan think tank that researches budget, tax, and economic issues, has released a scathing report on Measure 59. The measure, from Bill Sizemore, would give taxpayers the option to deduct an unlimited amount of their federal taxes on their state tax return.

According to the OCPP, however, "the wealthiest one percent of households would get about half of the total tax break," and only about a quarter of taxpayers would see any benefit if the measures passes. Meanwhile, the rest of us will see billions of dollars in cuts to state services—up to $2.4 billion, according to the state's Legislative Revenue Office. The OCPP has a more conservative estimate of $1.1 billion, but that's still "equivalent to cutting the salaries of all Oregon K-12 public school teachers by 70 percent." You know, so the state's richest folks can keep more of their money. AJR