If there's been any question whether The Oregonian newspaper is the fat and lazy champion of the status quo here in Portland, the last few weeks have supplied an affirmative answer that history will not ignore.
The obvious place to start is the paper's pattycake treatment of former Gov. Neil Goldschmidt's "extraordinary and emotional" exclusive interview in which he acknowledged his "affair" with a 14-year-old girl. Next, there was its bungling rush to print an op-ed piece defending NG, written by the guy who, apparently unbeknownst to the investigative wizards at The O, for years served as a go-between between sex offender and victim. Yesterday, we had the same guy getting carte blanche to tell his side of it in a banner headline front-page story -- he was just a good Samaritan trying to help a girl in trouble. In the same story, The O shamelessly rehashed details of the scandal previously developed by the Willamette Week.
But even leaving all that aside, the local fish wrap has really been outdoing itself lately in its efforts to numb the minds of the residents of Portland. The O really, really wants us to believe that the city is on the right track, with the right priorities, even though a substantial portion of the population is smart enough to sense otherwise.
As an example, on today's front page, we get a glowing profile of a nice young man in the city transportation office, who, doggone it, has smoothed the way for the construction of the sky tram between OHSU and the new concrete jungle about to be erected in North Macadam. Yes, the city has agreed to throw a few bones to the neighborhood -- ripping out some on-ramps to the Ross Island Bridge, building a pedestrian bridge over I-5, and installing a bunch of speed bumps and other traffic calming devices. And that's apparently gotten a few of the neighborhood activists who opposed the tram to begrudgingly give their consent.
Which is enough to get The O all worked up about the beauty of it all. Despite the pending legal challenges, on The O news pages, the tram is now "inevitable," and everybody's mostly happy.
Now we all get to watch for a few years as the funding for all the neighborhood improvements becomes painfully hard to come by, while the tram construction -- a Goldschmidt-Francesconi pet project if there ever was one -- marches skyward. Nowhere does the article mention the fact that the tram is already nearly 100% over budget. Nor the fact that multiple millions of dollars of "urban renewal" funds, which include a large chunk of citywide property taxes, are now suddenly being earmarked for the constructon.
And appallingly, everyone but me, it seems, is ignoring the queston of who will pay to run the tram, which will turn an operating deficit well into six figures every year. Will we take the already existing $900,000-a-year city taxpayer subsidy of the streetcar system and push it well over $1 million with the sky tram? Of course we will. Even with NG hiding in Idaho, the Tram People -- including Mrs. G., Million Dollar Jim, Mike Lindberg, and the usual suspects -- will get his little job done.
In its election endorsements, The O says it admires all that City Hall "experience" of Million Dollar Jim and Sam Adams. That's code for "Let's keep things the way they are."
I say, out with all of them.
The O would be funny if it weren't so pitiful.