This page contains all entries posted to Jack Bog's Blog in March 2004. They are listed from newest to oldest.
February 2004 is the previous archive.
April 2004 is the next archive.
Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.
Today's Willamette Week has a pretty good take on the most recent police shooting in Portland. (Amazing when you consider they probably had very little time in which to get it written.) WW's Nick Budnick wrote:
[State Sen. Avel] Gordly, a former parole officer, says training also is key. Many cops complain that they are trained mainly in how to shoot. They receive far less training in non-lethal measures such as communication and hand-to-hand combat.
Oregon cops, including those in Portland, receive less training than the national average, according to former Portland detective John Minnis, who heads the state Department of Public Safety Standards and Training. There's time only for "basic fundamentals," he says, which is a "major concern."
"If you don't teach [non-lethal] options, you ultimately get what you're training for," Minnis says. "That, I think, is the fundamental problem."
Hey, Mayor Katz. Do you think you could get some decent police training onto your priority list somewhere? You know, maybe in there with the armory theater, the OHSU tram, the Ikea store, the farmer's market, and the MARC? If necessary, I'm sure we can figure out some way in which Homer and Neil can make a buck off it.
A while back, Cousin Jim over at Parkway Rest Stop pointed out that there's a third-party candidate for President based right here in the Portland area. Shortly thereafter, along comes a message in my e-mail inbox from none other than the candidate himself.
His name is Darren Karr. Go ahead and hum "Hail to the Chief" as you check out his campaign web site here.
Lily Witham, a community activist in the Buckman neighborhood in southeast Portland, is pretty worked up about the city's plans for the Memorial Coliseum.
Witham and her Buckman neighbors have been trying for years to get the city to turn the old Washington High School, in their neck of the woods, into a community center. The city has agreed to this in principle, but funding for the project is far from secure. Meanwhile, the city has come up with a much faster-tracked plan to turn the Coliseum into a giant recreation center. That train is so far down the track that it already has an acronym: MARC (Metro Athletic and Recreation Compex?).
Witham is convinced that every dollar spent on MARC is one less dollar available for the Buckman center. And in these tight times, she's probably right.
She recently went over to City Hall to testify against immediate funding for a MARC study. And she came back mighty disillusioned. She writes:
I've known for years that Vera is in the pocket of the developers, but seeing it firsthand was absolutely sickening. At last week's (March 17th) city council hearing regarding the MARC proposal the deck was definitely stacked (and guess in whose favour??) The "invited" guests (pro-MARCer's all) were allowed to speak as long as they liked, while we peons had to adhere to the usual 2 minutes. Despite expert testimony from the head of Portland Parks & Rec's Planning Department (who stated quite clearly that the MARC would never make it financially for there just isn't a big enough audience to make a go of it), and reasoned and rational remarks from Commissioners Leonard and Francesconi (who both voted an emphatic "no"), Katz, Sten & Saltzman all voted yes. Saltzman included a lame statement about how "worried he is about Oregon's obesity rates" (yeah, right). Let's face it, the easist and cheapist way to lose weight is to get out and walk. We don't need a 100 million dollar center to lose weight.
I gave testimony against the MARC proposal, reminding the Mayor and commissioners that just one month prior they had voted unanimously for a community center in the Inner Southeast, and promised that our center would be the next one built. I asked Mayor Katz to remember that we have the second highest unemployment rate in the country, that our inability to fund our schools is internationally known and ridiculed. And that we have a brand new jail that we can't afford to open while hard-core criminals walk the streets after being arrested and released out a few hours later, due to lack of space. (This went over like a lead balloon.)
The funding ideas were pie in the sky, $40 million or is it $80 million from the Kroc fund (despite the fact that the project as I understand it is not eligible for the Kroc funds) and some various tax credits, urban renewal funds (read PDC monies) and historic tax credits.
However, the most disturbing thing by far were the "erroneous" statements by Paul Falsetto of the AIA (American Institute of Architects). Mr. Falsetto stated that "the coliseum is eligible for historic status and hence, tax credits." He continued "this project has already been approved by the State Historic Preservation Office" (SHIPO) and has the blessing of the National Trust for Historic Preservation."
A quick phone call to David Silton at the SHIPO office in Salem revealed that the coliseum could be considered eligible for historic status as a modernist building, consisting of a "bowl within a box." However, any significant alteration to the coliseum (including the MARC proposal) would immediately render the building ineligible for historic status. Mr.Skilton stated that he had made this very clear to Mr. Falsetto.
I next called Anthony Veerkamp at the San Francisco Western Regional Office of the Nat'l Trust. Anthony had recently been in Portland to tour the coliseum with Mr. Falsetto and take a look at the plans for MARC. He also made it very very clear to Falsetto that any alterations to the coliseum would cause it to be ineligible for Trust approval.
Outrageous! And although I have sent this information to The Oregonian, Willamette Week and the Trib, no one has even answered my emails.
Well, Lily, at least you have an audience here. Good luck fighting the power.
Here we go again. An unarmed person of color is shot to death while allegedly being taken into custody by the Portland police.
Close to 36 hours later, we're told hardly anything about what went down. According to the police, he was resisting arrest. The arrestable offense? Driving without a license. The cause for the traffic stop? Failing to signal before turning into a food market driveway.
Ever turn into a driveway without signalling? Ever forget to have your license on you when you drove a couple of blocks to the grocery store?
Two police officers were there. They apparently tried a stun gun. And then one of them fired several bullets into the man's torso.
This is so sad, and so maddening. The police tell us to be patient. Patient for what? I guess for the end of the mandatory three-day waiting period before the official interviews of the officer who fired the shots can begin. He and the other officer involved get 72 hours to collect their thoughts (including "pre-interviews" that aren't recorded) and present their side of the story. So don't expect much more detail until Wednesday or Thursday. By then the dead man will probably be ready for burial.
In those 72 hours, the suspicions that something is being covered up invariably grow and fester. This time around, everybody knows it's going to get very ugly indeed.
There was a rumor going around over the holidays that the mayor was going to reassign the various municipal bureaus among the city commissioners. She never did it, but it's not too late for her to go ahead with it. She really needs to take herself off the police bureau immediately.
Her top priorities for the remainder of her term, published the other day in The Oregonian, didn't include anything related to the police bureau. They didn't include anything about keeping this from being a miserable, tension-filled summer in this city.
But it's time for a revision of that stunningly shallow list. And agenda item no. 1 ought to be a new commissioner-in-charge for the police.
UPDATE, 1:17 p.m.: The mayor has called for a public inquest, which the police union will surely try to block. Meanwhile, African-American leaders are calling for an FBI investigation as well. Sounds good to me.
Do you think the Oregon Department of Justice might get involved? Don't make me laugh.
Also, today we learn that the 72-hour waiting period has been abandoned, at least in this case. If indeed the bureau has changed this highly controversial feature of its post-shooting procedures, you would have thought it would have done so with some public fanfare. But it didn't.
If left-handed people are allowed to marry, what is next? They will want to marry horses and bicycles. If a left-handed person married a bicycle, can you imagine the burden that places on a child? Imagine a woman who has been raised by a left-handed mother and a bicycle father. On her wedding day, she will have to wheel a bicycle down the aisle instead of having a normal father escort her to her groom.
We took the kids to the Shriners Circus at the Portland Memorial Coliseum today. Typical small circus, with elephant poop getting the biggest laugh of the day, but it was a big hit for our girls, who had never attended one before. Tigers, elephants, stunt riders on horseback, highwire thrills, cotton candy -- who can forget their first circus? Or their kids'?
The occasion also marked my first visit to the Coliseum in quite a while. I've been reading about how the city has given up on the building in its current configuration, and now wants to gut it and stuff it with something else.
After thinking about that for a while there today, I think it's a bad move.
For an 11,500-seat arena, you still can't beat this one. It needs a few cosmetics, but the seats are still in great shape, the design of the hall is still immaculate, and it's a wonderful venue for events of certain sizes.
Granted, there are drawbacks: the hideous acoustics; the arena's awkward placement next to the newer, 20,000-seat Rose Garden; and the city's operations contract with the bankrupt Oregon Arena Corp., owner of the Rose Garden, which has every incentive to run the Coliseum into the ground.
If it's time to rip the place apart, it's because of those factors. But don't let the developers and their City Hall chums tell you the building's in bad shape physically. It's not.
Among the more positive aspects of the place are all the memories for longtime Portlanders, particularly of the Blazers in their heyday, and in their not-so-illustrious '80s. There were countless great moments on the basketball floor there. We also had the legendary Mayor's Balls under the leadership -- cultural, political and otherwise -- of Bud Clark. And one great concert after another, despite the lousy acoustics.
The record of the bankrupt beast next door -- just another luxury-box ugly duckling, way out of place in an egalitarian city -- is not even a shadow of that.
The Rose Quarter was a bad concept, and it's been fairly poorly executed. Rather than gut and stuff the Coliseum, I suggest demolishing the Rose Garden, building a baseball stadium on the other side of Broadway, throwing a few million dollars at a new coat of paint and some acoustical work for the Coliseum, and either moving the Blazers back in there or chasing them out of town.
O.k., not really. But paying the usual West Hills contractor suspects tens of millions of scarce taxpayer dollars to turn the place into a Home Depot or some sort of ill-defined, publicly financed MAC Club for the Pearlies seems an equally stupid idea.
Portland Mayor Vera Katz was unhappy when she heard both leading City Council candidates, Nick Fish and Sam Adams, criticize her record as mayor in the City Club debate the other day.
"I think it hurts the public's trust in government by having candidates who should know better run against government," she is quoted as saying in yesterday's O.
Oh, they know better, Your Honor. They're not running against government. They're running against your government, with its truly twisted priorities and breathtaking insensitivity to public sentiment. There's quite a difference.
It's good to see Adams having to defend himself after 10 years as Katz's "chief of staff" and "economic development coordinator." Now he goes out of his way to distance himself from much of what the mayor has "accomplished." He's no fool. From here on out, any affiliation with her is an albatross around any politician's neck.
I'm getting just enough success in the NCAA tournament to keep hope alive, at least in theory. I'm still a major longshot to win any money, but my puny little ticket had a great Sweet 16 round, just concluded. I had five games with teams still alive, and all five of them won. Of the other three games, two of them went the way I wanted them to in order to set up the next round.
So now we're down to eight teams, with four games over the next two days. In two of the games, I have a chance of scoring points. In these, I need the following to win:
In the other two games, it doesn't matter to me much who wins, but for the sake of future rounds, I've got a preference for these teams:
So much depends on how the other players in the pool did. I hope the pool organizer has an update for us soon.
UPDATE, 3/27, 11:35 p.m.: Oh well. St. Joe's is out, which means I have no active teams left on my ticket. The points I collected so far won't cut it, I'm sure, but it wasn't an entirely bad entry. On to the next valuable time-waster -- we now return you to your regular programming, already in progress.
A friend with a DSL connection was complaining to me today that he can't get this blog to load on his browser, although he has no trouble getting the nearby 1221 SW 4th. I know the artwork and some of the hit counter scripts slow things down, but are any of the rest of you having this problem? Anyone have thoughts about what might be going on?
Michael Newdow, the atheist who's challenging the phrase "under God" in the Pledge of Allegiance, represented himself before the U.S. Supreme Court this week. And from all accounts, he did a great job. If you're registered at The New York Times, you can read parts of the transcript of the oral argument for yourself here.
Newdow, a nonpracticing lawyer, is currently employed as an emergency room doctor. At one point he had the audience in the courtroom applauding him -- something that doesn't happen very often in the Supreme Court -- and he even got in a rehearsed closing line just before his time expired -- not easy to do.
The case has several interesting features besides the main issue. With Justice Antonin "Ducky" Scalia having recused himself, the Court could come down in a 4-4 tie, which would leave the Ninth Circuit's ban on the phrase intact. Another possibility is that the Court could rule that Newdow has no standing, because the real injury is to his daughter rather than to him, and she lives with her mother now. On the other hand, Newdow made a pretty good case that he's injured enough when the folks in the public school implicitly tell his daughter that her dad's religious beliefs are wrong.
If you're a Portlander who hasn't read the WW piece on the economics of the current Portland mayoral race, you absolutely must. Commissioner Jim Francesconi has raised a bejillion bucks, including tens of thousands apiece from the same Old Money interests that have controlled Portland for years. He's poised to crush his opposition on the strength of campaign finances alone.
All the more reason to vote against him in May, force a runoff later in the year, and gain more time to decide whether we really want more of the same as we've been getting.
Once you've reached the ABF point, the question becomes who among the other candidates has a decent chance in a head-to-head against Diamond Jim. To me, at least so far, it's Potter.
Hectic day here. It started just after 7 a.m. -- way before I want to wake up, but nature called. As I performed my middle-aged-guy ritual in the bathroom, I heard a strange noise coming from the next room over, where we have our TV.
It sounded like some kind of drilling noise, or maybe some feedback through a speaker. I figured there must have been a short in some electronic system or another, but the TV was off -- only the cable box was on. I turned it off, too, and headed back to bed. Seven in the morning is the middle of the night for me.
No sooner had I closed my eyes than the noise started up again. I hustled back into the TV room for further inquiry. Was our cat, Gloria, doing the extreme version of one of her hairball expulsions? It was too loud for her snoring. No, Gloria sat lazily on the glider, wide awake but in no distress. Like me, she was keying into the drilling sound, which was definitely coming from the wall behind the TV. This is the south-facing wall on the second floor of the house.
What the...? I threw on some pants and shoes, stumbled down the stairs, and headed out into the morning drizzle to see what was going on on the other side of that wall.
When I got directly under the spot where the noise seemed to be coming from, the woodpecker saw me and flew away. He had been doing his work under the eaves, as he stood on one of the little decorative buttress thingies that add charm to our older home.
But he didn't go far -- just as far as the chimney above. I cussed his little pointy-beaked a*s and went back to try to catch another hour or two of sleep.
I hope he doesn't return. I'd hate to have to start checking out BB guns on eBay.
Portland's River/Pearl District is supposed to be the hot, hip, happening place to live these days. I dunno -- down there you get neighbors like this and this, and you're liable to stumble across something like this on your morning walk.
There are 8 games in the round of the NCAA Men's Basketball Tourney that starts today. On my pool ticket, I predicted wins by teams in 5 of those games, and of course I'm rooting for them with all my might, despite my having only a minimal, mathematical chance at this point of winning the pool. They are:
In the other 3 games, I didn't predict that either of the actual teams would win, but I do have an interest in the weaker team winning so as to give my teams a chance to win the next round, which starts Saturday. Therefore, I'm also mildly rooting for:
Univ. Alab. Birmingham
Just goes to show, you can get a lot of mileage out of a five-buck wager.
UPDATE, 11:57 p.m.: All four Thursday games went my way. Let's hope for another perfect day on Friday. If there are going to be any more cinderellas, let it be Xavier and UAB!
The Portland Tribune's front-page "day in the life" of Multnomah County Chair Diane Linn yesterday was the waste of a dead tree. She buys gum at 9:08 a.m.! She drinks nonfat lattes! Her daughter's getting braces on her teeth! All the breaking news. Oh, and her political career might be in jeopardy. You don't say!
One interesting facet of the piece was the attribution of all Linn's political woes to the gay-marriage flap. No mention was made of the library director salary fiasco (BTW, the new hire reportedly just bought a house in Dunthorpe), or of Linn's "snow day" blunder. Gay marriage casts such a long shadow that I guess those other issues are supposed to be quickly forgotten.
Perhaps the only tidbit of real news in the piece was this: The county income tax is being collected by the City of Portland Bureau of Licenses! This is the bureau that's currently in major turmoil, as City Commissioner Randy Leonard has unceremoniously fired its chief for poor performance. The bureau that's being criticized for doing nothing about its 30 percent delinquency rate.
This is who's going to bring in the big bucks for the county? Don't count that $128 million yet, folks.
I got not one but two e-mail solicitations for a campaign contribution yesterday from the camp of JFK Lite. Loved one, hated the other.
The one I loved was signed by John "Opie" Edwards. Here's a guy who could actually have energized a whole country, as opposed to putting half of them to sleep and turning the other half off. As usual, Senator Edwards said some things I could stand up and salute, including:
35 million Americans live in poverty, desperate for work and respect, watching incredulously as the government hands tax breaks to big business. And Americans of all backgrounds have watched the gap between rich and poor widen under his administration, and realized that only the rich do well in George W. Bush's America.
You tell 'em, John. Even though spam is the thanks I get for sending you 50 bucks a while back, I'm glad to see you're still involved in the campaign.
The one I hated came from my Most Disliked Democratic Politician Alive, Hillary. This -- how shall I put this? -- crooked carpetbagger offered these observations:
I have known John a long time, and it has been a pleasure to work with him in the Senate for more than three years. I've seen firsthand the power of his intellect, the breadth of his experience, and the depth of his commitment to Democratic values.
Really? That's so reassuring. You're so committed to those values -- just as you have always been a lifelong Yankee fan. Pardon me, but I'm part of the vast middle-of-the-road conspiracy that says no whenever Hillary says yes.
I can't wait to get some spam from my No. 2 Most Disliked Democrat, Ted Kennedy. How long do you think it will be before that one shows up in my inbox?
UPDATE, 1:50 p.m.: This just in: Wesley Clark wants me to contribute, too. Just as he has contributed to all the Democratic causes over the years. Oh, and Kerry's a "battle-tested" leader. Gag.
In yet another startling development in the same-sex marriage drama being played out in Oregon, officials in Roosevelt County announced last night that that tiny eastern Oregon county is suspending indefinitely the issuance of marriage licenses to prospective spouses of different genders. Until further notice, the county will issue licenses only to same-sex couples.
"We held a public meeting on this at the Springfield Grange Hall last night," explained County Chair Vern Farr. "And we decided that the time was right for some affirmative action. The heterosexuals have had a couple of millennia to get ahead on this, and so we want to give the gay couples a chance to catch up. Also, it was hot in there, and we all wanted to get to the other agenda items, like the tractor pull."
The Roosevelt County action now divides Oregon counties into four camps: the majority, which license marriage only between heterosexuals; Multnomah County, which licenses marriages between heterosexuals and homosexuals; Benton County, which has suspended issuing any marriage licenses at all; and now Roosevelt County, which licenses only same-sex marriages.
The latest resolution sets no time limit on the new Roosevelt County policy. "We'll probably revisit this again after all the vetch is in the barn," Farr predicted. "Definitely by hunting season."
The vote on the controversial measure was 2-1, with Commissioner George Hutchinson casting the dissenting vote. "I don't think there's really a problem here that needs to be remedied," he told a reporter from the cab of his flatbed truck. "Occasionally, we do get somebody trying to marry their cousin."
Rather than issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, the Benton County commissioners today announced that they will not issue any marriage licenses to any couples until a court rules on the constitutionality of Oregon's hetero-only marriage statute. Apparently, they're going to send all couples out of county for their licenses until the Multnomah County test case -- which technically hasn't even been filed yet -- is decided at the trial court level.
What a brilliant maneuver. You make an empty gesture to the gay couples, forcing the heteros to drive over to the next county to do their paperwork. But for most (if not all) heteros, it's just a minor incovenience.
Did I miss it, and somebody's started a Cuteness in Government Contest here in Oregon? Between the Sisters of Hawthorne, Governor Ted, Hardy Har Har, and now See-No-Evil, Hear-No-Evil and Speak-No-Evil down in Corvallis, the competition for the distinction of most precious politician has gotten mighty tough.
When I saw that Prince has been named to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, I was reminded that I'm getting up there in years. But with the news today that J.J. Jackson (second left), one of the original MTV VJ's, has died of a heart attack, I'm feeling positively ancient.
Jackson, who was 62, was one of five hosts in the original cable format that brought us the classics of the music video era in the early '80s. After Prince shocked us all with "Little Red Corvette," J.J. would segue us right into Patty Smyth doing "Goodbye to You," and Billy Squier's "Everybody Wants You." With the MTV flag being planted on the moon every so often throughout the day.
I remember when "oldies" meant the Five Satins. Now it means Van Halen. Yikes.
When I was a newspaper reporter many years ago, the word around the City Room was, "Nobody reads the paper on Saturday." Yet the Saturday New York Times is sometimes, surprisingly, one of its best efforts of the week. Yesterday's op-ed page contained four worthy pieces, including a very insightful commentary by UCLA Law Professor William Rubenstein on gay marriage, which as most readers here know is Portland's all-consuming controversy du jour.
Politicians, Rubenstein notes, "have avoided the main issue and sought refuge in the abstractions of the Constitution. Instead of asking what kind of society we want, they argue about what our structure of government can permit." The Bushites prefer to couch the debate in terms of "judicial activism," while the Democrats talk of "states' rights." The Republican position "turns the debate over gay marriage into an arid discussion about the 'separation of powers,' a concept enshrined in the Constitution." Meanwhile, Rubenstein criticizes Kerry & Crew's states' rights emphasis on the same grounds: "This is how slavery was debated for America's first 100 years, and the rights of African-Americans and women were discussed in these terms for the next hundred."
It's a very thought-provoking piece.
Here in Portlandia, proponents and opponents of gay marriage (including the state attorney general's office, which appears to be taking both sides of the issue) have been busy this week setting up a test case that they hope will result in a quick decision by the Oregon Supreme Court. Apparently, the ACLU will sue the state on behalf of a gay couple for refusing to recognize a gay wedding performed under a Multnomah County license. The trial court proceedings will be expedited to focus on the constitutionality of the state's hetero-only marriage statute, and the parties have agreed to seek to bypass the Court of Appeals and go straight to the State Supreme Court.
Unless some new opponent of gay marriage somehow derails this train, the debate in the Oregon court proceeding will be devoid of the structural issues at which Rubenstein takes offense. It will be the state constitution, not the federal one, involved, and so the separation of powers issue will be absent. And one doubts that much will be heard about judicial activism, at least inside the courtrooms.
Also missing from the test case will be the procedural and structural issues swirling around the county commissioners' actions in licensing gay marriage. With the plaintiff being someone with no grievance against the county, and the challenge being strictly to the acts of the state legislature, we'll probably never learn whether the commissioners violated open meeting rules. Also likely to be rendered moot will be the question whether the county has the power under Article VI of the state constitution to ignore a state statute based on county officials' own view that the statute violates newly emerging constitutional rights. The "defense of marriage" folks point out that the test case agreement preserves their rights to make these arguments, but I suspect that once the main Oregon constitutional question is resolved, courts will find a way to dismiss these claims on the ground that they no longer make a difference.
To the lawyer in me, constructing a fully stipulated case to avoid these issues is a shame. Courts have always tended to avoid the most momentous constitutional rulings when there were other ways to dispose of a case. Given the way the parties have concocted the test case, however, the side issues appears to have been cleared away. Rubenstein would doubtlessly approve.
There could still be some surprises along the way, of course. There are other court proceedings already filed, and some of the litigants and judges in the other cases may not see fit to sit idly by while the official test case moves along.
And it may proceed more slowly than its sponsors want. Judges in Oregon are elected every six years, and probably as a result of that, they move very carefully and give each other as much support as possible. (For example, three State Supreme Court justices, including the only openly gay one, are running for re-election now, although at first glance there doesn't seem to be much of an opponent for any of them; one is completely unopposed.) Therefore, it's not clear to me that the Oregon Supreme Court will agree to bypass the normal appeals route. The case could still wind up going through an intermediate appeal.
Moreover, whenever the Supreme Court takes the case, it may not agree to the wham-bam schedule that the parties prefer. It is entirely possible that no final decision will be reached in the litigation until next year.
By that time, there may be an initiative on the ballot in Oregon settling the state constitutional issue. Whereas it usually takes years to amend the U.S. Constitution, the Oregon Constitution can be amended in a matter of months. Depending on the wording of the ballot measure, the issue in the test case could be rendered moot. Which would be all the greater political reason for the Supreme Court to move at its normal, slow pace.
If an Oregon ballot measure amended the state constitution to define marriage as one man-one woman (or in the unlikely event that the Oregon courts declared the existing statutory ban on gay marriage constitutional), the litigation would shift to federal court, where Oregon law would be tested against the federal constitution. By that time, we'd have a new President, or the same old one we have now, and likely a couple of new justices on the U.S. Supreme Court. Those new justices could very well be the swing votes who decide where all this finally winds up.
As I've said, however this comes out, the big winners will be the lawyers.
I've been trying to remember from my Catholic grammar school days which is the patron saint of NCAA basketball office pools. St. Sweet Sixtenus? I'd drop a prayer to Jimmy the Greek, but somehow I suspect he hasn't made it to the Big Show yet.
Anyway, there are eight games in the tournament today, and I have a horse in all eight. And so I'm sending out my best vibrations to:
They're all favored in the seedings, but weird stuff can happen. That's why they call it gambling.
UPDATE, 9:39 p.m.: Went only 5-3 today. I'm sure no one else had Stanford and Gonzaga losing, either. But Maryland let me down, and with the day went any reasonable chance at my taking home the big bucks in the pool.
Spring break is here -- time for academics like me to catch up on all the things that have piled up over the last 10 weeks as the spring semester has worn on. Like that two-foot-high pile of technical reading that I've been accumulating. Countless deferred chores around the house and yard. And getting to know the kids better.
This year the arrival of the week-long respite from classes coincides with what appears to be (and I hope to high heaven definitely is) the end of a month-long tussle with that respiratory virus that has been going around. I got out on the running trail tonight for the first time in four weeks. It felt horrible and wonderful at the same time.
You lose a lot in a month of inactivity. It will likely take twice that long to get it back. But I'm not complaining. It's great to be breathing.
We're going nowhere with an 11-5 record, but who knows, today could be our lucky day. That's if the winners are:
N. Carolina State
UPDATE, 11:23 p.m.: I went 12-4 the second day, for 23-9 in the first round. Sad. But the good news is: I had all nine of my first round losers going down in the second round, and so I could still win every remaining game. I'll probably have to in order to win this thing.
Big front-page story in The Oregonian today wondering why the governor and state attorney general haven't stopped gay marriage. One reason may be that the attorney general, Hardy Myers, is up for re-election this year. It's pretty well known that he dislikes campaigning, and he's trying hard not to rock the boat. Unfortunately for him, this boat's going to rock no matter what he does or doesn't do.
The county attorney in Lane County (which includes Eugene) today advised the commissioners there that the constiutionality of hetero-only marriage is sufficiently unclear that the county clerk should not start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
It will be amusing to hear the responses from the gay marriage activists. I'm sure they'll include "It's only one lawyer's opinion," and "You should listen to Hardy Myers."
That's if they get around to mentioning it at all. I guess this topic is "breaking news" only when things are going the way they want them.
Have a wonderful St. Patrick's Day, and if you know the melody to this one, don't forget to give it a whirl tonight:
Mrs. Murphy gave a party just about a week ago,
Everything was plentiful, the Murphys, they're not slow.
They treated us like gentlemen; we tried to act the same
And only for what happened, well it was an awful shame.
When she dished the chowder out she fainted on the spot;
She found a pair of overalls at the bottom of the pot.
Tim Nolan he got ripping mad, his eyes were bulging out,
He jumped upon the piano and loudly he did shout:
"Who threw the overalls in Mrs. Murphy's chowder?"
Nobody spoke so he shouted all the louder:
"It's an Irish trick it's true, I can lick the Mick who threw
The overalls in Mrs. Murphy's chowder."
They dragged the pants from out the soup and laid them on the floor;
Each man swore upon his life, he'd ne'er seen them before.
They were plastered up with mortar and were worn out at the knee,
They had their many ups and downs as we could plainly see.
When Mrs. Murphy she came to, she 'gan to cry and pout,
She had them in the wash that day and forgot to take them out.
Tim Nolan, he excused himself for what he said that night,
So we put music to the words and sang with all our might:
"Who threw the overalls in Mrs. Murphy's chowder?"
Nobody spoke so he shouted all the louder:
"It's an Irish trick it's true, I can lick the Mick who threw
The overalls in Mrs. Murphy's chowder."
I've banned two parties from this site after they exceeded the bounds of civility in the comments section of this blog. You can disagree with me or with others who post here as vehemently as you like. Differing points of view are welcome. But when you start likening me to a rabid animal, or calling another poster an a*shole and wishing their legs were blown off, well, you've overstepped my limits, and you are out of here.
Let's also hope that other self-righteous groups, like for instance the abortion-is-murder crowd, don't decide to imitate the gay rights activists' tactics. Maybe they'd go find a supportive community willing to use judicial activism to gain a favorable interpretation of the law, and start arresting abortion clinic staff members for murder. Horrifying? Not if you're pro-life.
Heck, it's not even judicial activism. It's county chair activism. And there won't even be a hearing.
Another awful, awful week in the Rose City. A 20-year-old woman went to an underage dance club downtown Friday night. She never made it home, and they found her body floating in the Willamette River under the Broadway Bridge on Monday.
We pride ourselves on being such a livable city. But let's face it, we flunk badly on the basics. Our police department isn't very good. No reflection on the men and women who work there, necessarily -- it's just that the operation's run by someone I wouldn't trust to take my cat to the vet. Poorly managed, and woefully under-budgeted. Under the thin veneer of the Katz Theme Park, downtown is a dangerous place, full of thugs, guns, and drugs. I don't even like to go down there in the daytime any more.
Our police stations close at 6:00 at night. After that, and all weekend long, the cops drive around like lone rangers in their boxy Ford sedans with the exploding fuel tanks, their defective Glocks, and their little computer screens. No support staff, no "house." Until 8 or 9 Monday morning.
I guess when it's time to blacken the circle for mayor, I'll have to vote for Tom Potter. His campaign "platform" is full of stale, empty platitudes, but I know he'd do a better job with the police bureau than the current mayor. She's too busy building streetcars and trams to worry about why we're burying the young girls who dare to walk on the streets of Portland, Oregon by themselves.
When they pull the 20-year-olds out of the river, you might expect to see an emergency press conference vowing some sort of action. Not from this mayor. Sound asleep in her designer sheets, dreaming of the next lovely thing she can say about urban renewal districts and gay rights.
Anyone could do better with the police bureau. Extremo the Clown is starting to look like a good alternative.
Sen. Ted Kennedy has written every judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, arguing that the court's newest member, William Pryor, was appointed illegally. Kennedy warned the judges not to let Pryor hear any cases, because if he does, the court's rulings will be void.
He actually has an interesting legal argument, but for Kennedy to intervene in the workings of the court by sending letters to all the judges seems a little heavy-handed. Like everything Fat Ted does, it's unlikely to play well in middle America. Which of course, isn't going to help his alter ego, JFK Lite, get anywhere.
We've been reading a fair amount from proponents of same-sex marriage lately about how the arguments over the process by which local officials decided to issue gay marriage licenses are just a distraction. As long as those officials turn out to be right about the constitutional infirmities of restricting marriage to monogamous hetero couples, they argue, the means by which they reached the right end is not important.
Au contraire. As it turns out, the California Supreme Court decision this week temporarily banning gay marriage licenses is all about process, and nothing more.
The California cases, Lockyer v. San Franciso and Lewis v. Alfaro, concern one isue and one issue only: whether San Francisco officials "are exceeding or acting outside the scope of their authority in refusing to enforce the provisions of" California statutes that restrict marriage to hetero couples. The court has ordered those officials to disregard their "personal views of the constitutionality of such provisions."
In California, the case for process may be stronger than in Oregon. For example, the California Constitution states in relevant part:
An administrative agency, including an administrative agency created by the Constitution or an initiative statute, has no power:
(a) To declare a statute unenforceable, or refuse to enforce a statute, on the basis of it being unconstitutional unless an appellate court has made a determination that such statute is unconstitutional;
(b) To declare a statute unconstitutional;
(c) To declare a statute unenforceable, or to refuse to enforce a statute on the basis that federal law or federal regulations prohibit the enforcement of such statute unless an appellate court has made a determination that the enforcement of such statute is prohibited by federal law or federal regulations.
The Oregon Constitution contains no comparable provision. But it does limit the power of county officials to actions on "matters of county concern." It's not clear to me without further research that a judgment on the constitutionality of a state statute of general application is indeed a "matter of county concern."
And if it isn't, we could wind up right where San Francisco is now: tied up in knots, and all because the county didn't follow proper process.
The judge down in Tucson overseeing the criminal case against Portland Trail Blazer Damon Stoudamire has once again refused to throw out the evidence seized from the Blazer captain shortly before his arrest last summer. As you will recall, Damon was trying to walk through one of the airport's metal detectors carrying a sizeable quantity of marijuana wrapped in aluminum foil.
The judge ruled, quite sensibly, that officers could open up the tin foil to see what was in it without advising the suspect of his Miranda rights.
Damon, do yourself a favor on this one. Cop a plea, take your lumps, and get Steve Houze off the payroll. For a while, at least.
The news from Madrid is horrible. My wife and I spent four days in the heart of that beautiful, beautiful city a while back. It's one of only three European cities that I've ever visited. While there, we got really good at the fantastic subway system. Rode it all over town. How unspeakably sad that it's now a mass murder scene.
It's a wonderful time of year here in Portland. The weather's sunny, warm and dry, the daphne's finally in full bloom, and the clematis isn't far behind.
Yesterday we broke out the old Weber grill (well over 20 years old, still working great) and grilled up some coho salmon filets. The fish had been frozen just after it was caught up in Alaska, but it retained a good taste and texture in the process.
And so another bright season begins. Coming soon: back on the bicycle. But first: moss control on the lawn!
We got a nice little postcard today from the Multnomah County commissioners. It was inviting us to a series of open public forums on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage -- JUST KIDDING! It was reminding us to pay the new Multnomah County income tax.
The county is so funny. Rather than say, "Don't forget, it's a legal obligation to pay, and failure to pay could result in criminal or civil penalties," it instead explains all the good things that the tax revenues do. It's as if they're asking people to vote on it again.
Perhaps the most revealing corner of the card is a pie chart on how much in tax the county has collected and distributed through last Friday. It's $22 million, out of the $127 million that's supposed to come in by April 15. In other words, so far only 17 percent of the projected revenue is in.
Of course, there will be a big inflow right around April 15. But will the county make it anywhere near $127 million? Doubtful. I think it will be more like $90-100 million.
One big reason for the shortfall: no mandatory withholding of the tax from wages. Income taxes don't work well without it.
Sometime this morning, we had visit no. 90,000 to this blog. The latest 10,000 rollover took 32 days. Nice to have so many of you here.
Now allow me to pat myself on the back with my other hand, too. Today this weblog was favorably mentioned in the Willamette Week, to wit: "Fans of local 'blogs' (weblogs to the uninitiated) have long found much to consider at the site maintained by local lawyer Jack Bogdanski." Shucks, I'm feeling like Sally Field.
The next session of the Oregon Legislature will be without the familiar right-wing drone of Rep. Randy Miller (R-West Linn), who's calling it quits after 20 years of lawmaking, for all of us. The Nattering Nabob of GOP Negativism has decided to spend more time with his family. Now that he'll be around the house more, I hope they can all pass a random drug test.
Sources reveal that Miller plans to spend much of his new free time driving 70 miles an hour on the freeways, and driving back and forth to Camas to pump his own gas.
A lot of the old timers down in Salem are packing it in this time around, it seems, as are a few young Turks who were just hitting their stride. I wish the new breed would not repeat their predecessors' mistakes, but the outlook for backbiting and gridlock seems worse than ever with some of the cooler and more experienced hands refusing to go back.
In any event, today's the filing deadline for the upcoming races, and so by tonight Oregonians should have a better sense of their choices in May.
Meanwhile, here in Portland, my internet buddy Randy Leonard gained six -- count 'em, six -- new opponents yesterday in his bid for re-election to the City Council. At least five of them are "neighborhood activists" who are in a snit about Leonard's recent major upset of the neighborhood bureaucracy apple cart. Their apparent strategy is to throw enough alternatives on the ballot to force a runoff, but at this point it's hard to see a single one of them standing a ghost of a chance in a head-to-head general election. You never know, but I think they're acting out their anger in an expensive way.
The New York Times really outdoes itself in the Bullcr*p Department today with its commentaries on the Martha Stewart case. In a front page "News Analysis," some learned law professors remind us that the real reason Martha was prosecuted was because she was a successful woman in the business world.
We also learn that the time-honored prosecutorial practice of standing tough in cases involving high-profile celebrities made Martha a "victim."
It doesn't stop on the front page, either. Back in the Week in Review section, we read that one of the federal statutes that Ms. Stewart was convicted of violating is actually a "remarkable trap."
Shame on the Times (which, by the way, has made lots of money syndicating some of Martha's writings). Martha Stewart engaged in a calculated course of venal, crooked activity, including bald-faced lying, for which she was rightly prosecuted. Her egomania has always bordered on mental illness, and now her detachment from reality appears to have landed her in jail.
The prosecution and the jury are to be congratulated and thanked. Martha Stewart is pitiful, but she has only herself to blame. The true victims are we fools who paid $5 to read the claptrap in today's Times.
Friday's New York Times reports that Martha Stewart's felony convictions are not her first run-in with the law. She was also busted civilly a few years ago for some significant misstatements she made in connection with her New York State income taxes.
Here we are, for the second time in less than a month, wondering whether Oregon's initiative system is a good thing. In February, the frustrated proponents of the state income tax increase, Measure 30, lamented the fact that in Oregon, tax legislation can be overturned by a majority popular vote.
Now some of the same folks, in defense of the Multnomah County commisioners' decision to license gay marriage without public debate, are declaring that civil rights should not be subject to popular vote, either. Last night, Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard wrote here:
I believe that the initiative/referendum undermines what the drafters of our Constitution envisioned for our system of government. A fair reading of the federalist papers makes it clear that our founding Fathers rejected the concept of a direct "democracy" in favor of a republic.
Their argument, which I adhere to, was that a direct democracy allows for a "tyranny of the majority" that creates fundamental inequities for those in the minority on any given issue.
Should any of the proposed state constitutional amendments now floating around be enacted by the voters, any discussion of gay marriage would be moot. And let this be a lesson about Oregon’s vaunted initiative/referendum/recall scheme, which now stoops to discern civil rights by popular vote, the very “tyranny of the majority” the republican founders feared.
Well, we're back to the 18th Century debate, aren't we? I see the point of both of my friends, but I note that the basic principles of American independence include the proposition that all legitimate power flows from the consent of the governed. And the primary documents to which we consent by living here are the federal and state constitutions.
As a practical matter, all human rights in this country exist only because we have constitutions that guarantee them. The power to interpret those constitutions is supposed to be shared by all three branches of government -- at least two of which are supposed to be democratic. But particular human rights are either in those documents or they aren't: unstated, fundamental, spiritual human rights are not secure unless spelled out in the constitutions.
And as much as it troubles small-r "republicans," those constitutions can be amended. It's much harder to do on the federal level than on the state level in Oregon, but it can be done, and it has been done many times.
So far we have been blessed, in that each round of amendment has expanded the civil rights of minority groups. But that doesn't mean that the door doesn't swing both ways.
Those who believe gay marriage is a basic human right must be prepared to work within the existing constitutional system to make that right secure. Anything else is either hot air or lawlessness.
As many readers of this blog know, Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard is running for re-election this year. Already his campaign is under way, and his staff is working on some advertising themes for the weeks leading up to the election.
I've gotten a sneak peek at some of them, and, well... I don't know, they seem a little over the top to me. Check them out here and here, and see what you think.
In all the political hoo-ha about same-sex matrimony, I've neglected to say congratulations to all the couples who are solemnizing their commitments to each other this week. Thank heaven for the love between you, and here's hoping it lasts a lifetime.
Score another PR disaster for Multnomah County Chair Diane Linn. Today The Oregonian's calling for her head -- and those of her Three Sisters in Constitutional Conscience -- after yesterday's stealth legalization of gay marriage.
Add this on to a string for Linn: the library director hiring fiasco, the snow day debacle, and now gay marriage without a public hearing. And leave some room on the string for when the county discovers late next month that its new income tax is a flop because there is no mandatory withholding and too many people have cheated.
You would think that Linn would be looking for work soon, but that's not at all clear. It turns out, no one wants to be on the county commission anyway -- three commissioners are up for re-election right now, and they're all running unopposed.
But just in case someone decides to run against Linn -- or she gets recalled from office, as Steve Duin suggests -- I think we owe it to her to help her kick off the job search. In that spirit, I'll be checking the classifieds from time to time to see if we can find her a good position. Unfortunately, here's the best I could do out of today's Oregonian:
FLORAL Designer PT Floral De-
signer/Customer Service, call to
schedule interview 503-682-3603,
please no calls on Sun or Mon.
Even if you agree with her on the substance of her positions, you've got to admit that Linn's got the worst timing and political savvy of any elected official around here since Frank Ivancie.
While my gay friends are still thinking about why their partner hasn't popped the question yet, I've been getting ready to field the inevitable tax questions that will come my way once they tie the knot.
The most obvious one is whether same-sex nuptials will be recognized for federal tax purposes. And the answer appears to be no.
Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act states:
"In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word 'marriage' means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word 'spouse' refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife."
Of course, this goes beyond tax issues. But from a tax standpoint alone, marriage can be worth a lot of money these days. Many couples now enjoy a bonus by getting married. Alas, that bonus is unavailable to gay marrieds.
O.k., on to the next one: How about on our Oregon state and Multnomah County income tax returns? I don't have the answers to that one yet.
However you feel about gay marriage, you have to admit that in the long run it's going to bestow major economic benefits on one group:
First, we'll have a year or two of litigation about the legitimacy of the concept, the wording of the ballot measures -- heck, maybe even a hanging-chad controversy, if the lawyers are lucky.
And then, after gay marriage is pronounced legal (which I predict it will be), a new specialty area for lawyers will emerge:
Granted, there previously were attorneys who specialize in the legal affairs of same-sex domestic partners. But their clientele was relatively small. Once you get married, the chances are much greater that you'll need a lawyer -- probably two lawyers -- to untie the knot.
As the kids say on the McDonald's ads, I'm lovin' it.
For more than a week now, I have been battling this year's "Portland crud," an infection of various components of my respiratory system. Last week, it took my voice -- quite the drag, given that I speak for a living -- and it currently has taken up residence in my sinuses. Vicious bug.
The only thing that seems to be helping is bed rest. And so that's where I'm going. See you when I get on top of this thing.
Congratulations to Kerry backers. I hope we can get it done in the fall.
It's Super Tuesday, and if there was any doubt about the Democratic Presidential nomination before today, it will likely be gone by tonight.
If you were John Edwards and you were effectively eliminated today, would you withdraw from the race?
I don't know if I would. The primaries have given the Democrats a ton of free publicity, almost all of it good. Up until now, we've had several guys out there pounding Bush every day, and the media pumping it into everyone's living rooms. Once Edwards is gone, that will largely stop. You'll just have Kerry, who's loosened up quite a bit but still comes across as a stiff phony. And there will likely be several months before he names a running mate to double up against the White House.
On the other hand, if Edwards is going to keep running, he may need to come up with some variations on his stump speech. The four or five catch phrases he repeats over and over are wearing a bit thin. To this point, that's been understandable -- he's trying to get a simple message across for the first time to millions who haven't heard him before. But now that he's been in the spotlight for a few weeks, he needs to branch out a bit.
Also, as a reformed Diet Coke fiend, I would advise him for his own sake to break his addiction to that beverage immediately.
I still think an Edwards-Whoever ticket would fare better than a Kerry-Whoever ticket. But this could well be the day on which that point becomes utterly academic.
While rounding up last week's papers for the weekly recycling, I stumbled across an Oregonianarticle about the City of Portland's new, harder look at property tax abatements. The City Council, in a long overdue move, is now contemplating periodic reviews of abatements over their terms (typically 10 years) to make sure that they are financially necessary and producing a public benefit.
And which city commissioner do you think is spearheading that effort? I'll give you three guesses.
It isn't too often that you find a government-run public works project with a forthright logo like this one:
But that's just what the City of Portland is using to introduce the East Side Big Pipe project, part of the billion-dollar sewer update it's undertaking to try to keep human bodily waste out of the Willamette River.
The west bank of the Willamette has been ripped up pretty hard, and for a mighty long time, laying the west side components of the new sewer. Motorists trying to get up and down Macadam Avenue, and through the awful intersection of Naito and Market, already know how the pipe can slow you down. (By the way, wasn't that a Neil Young song in the early '70s?)
So next it's the east side's turn, where an even bigger pipe has to go in. They say they're going to decide on the exact route next month. Given how disruptive the project's going to be for people and businesses trying to get around on the close-in east side, you would think you would have heard more opinions by now about the best and worst possible routes.
If you're interested in this question, you might do what the city web page suggests: "Call Jim Gladson at 503-823-4759 or email email@example.com."
Miles run year to date: 345
At this date last year: 211
Total run in 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269