Here's exactly what should have happened to Neil Goldschmidt.
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Here's exactly what should have happened to Neil Goldschmidt.
Are you bored yet with all the bloggers writing about where they fall on the political/pragmatic scale according to this survey?
No? Well then, check out my score:
Oregonian architecture dandy Randy Gragg weighed in yesterday on two new projects about to slime their way through the Portland City Hall "planning" "process." These latest developments are -- hold onto your hats, I'm not sure you're ready for this, it's really breathtaking, can you believe your eyes and ears, yes, yes, it's...
More giant condo towers!
Oh, the imagination! Oh, the innovation! And as Gragg points out, it's about time:
With PGE Park across the street and dozens of early and mid-century apartment buildings nearby, this is one of the densest, liveliest areas of the city. Yet there are scarcely any condos available for purchase, little shopping beyond Walgreen's and Fred Meyer, and only a smattering of restaurants and bars.
Oh my God. A neighborhood without condos? The absolute horror of it. Thank heaven that the selfless developers are rushing in to fill that void. Randy and his fellow goatees worked it all out over Pimm's Cups at Clarklewis, and the fix is in:
[S]urrounded by nothing more precious than the poured-in-place concrete stadium and the car wash across the street, the project won't have neighborhood advocates carping about how the architecture needs to "fit" into some mythical notion of historical context.
Damn right, Randy. Those ridiculous "neighborhood advocates" who have invested decades of their lives and most of their savings in Portland neighborhoods -- they're such a nuisance. Carping about their "mythical notions" of what they moved to Portland for. Screw them. "[A] public agency and one of the city's most respected and talented development/architecture teams" -- that's who should say how people live around here.
You know, the people with kids have already left Portland. I guess it's time to drive out the rest of the people with real lives, too. Then the whole place can be populated by California retirees and black t-shirt types. The "creative class" -- of unemployed arts and design majors. Let's throw the "mythical notions" of Portland away so that Nicholas Cage's mother and Jason Priestly can own a condo here for five years or so. Well worth it.
Even worse than the usual noises from Gragg are the quotations from the source authorities on these behemoths in our fine city government:
The Design Commission has to approve the extra height [of a monstrous four-pack of condo towers on the west side of the Willamette River just north of the Broadway Bridge]. At an Aug. 19 "design advice request" in which developers and architects get early feedback, commissioners said they would happily consider an exception to the height -- but only for an exceptional set of buildings.
Commission member Jeff Stuhr called Pemcor's current proposal "a little Disneyland." Likening the scheme to Donald Trump's proposal for similarly repetitive towers on Manhattan's western shore, commissioner Francesca Gambetti pointed out the scheme would stretch 850 feet along Northwest Naito Parkway without a single access point to the river. Commission chairman Mike McCulloch argued that repeating "the same building four times in a row equals one big thing."
But echoing his colleagues, McCulloch added, "If something is really cool, we'll waive the regulations."
There you have it, Portlanders. If it's "really cool" to some people named Jeff Stuhr and Mike McCulloch, it's a done deal, even if it violates all the city rules -- the same city that forbids the average homeowner to even plant a turnip without an expensive permit. And you can bet that people like Neil and Lady Di Goldschmidt, Jim Francesconi, and Homer Williams have old Jeff and Mike on speed-dial.
Commenters, please let me have it this time. Tell me again how wrong I am -- how wonderful the Detroit-ization of Portland is. It's either four-packs of condo towers right on the riverbanks, or else we'll just have to have urban sprawl. There's no middle course.
Tell me again. Because so far, I think you're full of it.
Portland is losing a great man this week. Father Steve Bossi, outgoing pastor of St. Philip Neri Parish in Southeast Porland, says his last Mass at that church tonight at 7 before driving off to his new assignment in Washington, D.C.
Try as he might to shrug it off, Father Steve has become something of a living legend in his eight years at St. Philip Neri. At a time when many in the priesthood have so disappointed Catholics and non-Catholics alike, he has stood as a beacon of what a good priest is capable of. An inspirational spiritual leader as well as a masterful administrator, he has excelled in his priority areas of education, liturgy, evangelism, and most interestingly, social justice. In keeping with the mission of Father Steve's religious order, the Paulist Fathers, the parish has brought many lapsed Catholics back into the church by fostering an atmosphere of welcome, understanding, and respect. A fair number of the churchgoers there probably would stay home rather than worship anywhere else. The rest of the Catholic Church could learn a lot from the example that he and the parish have set.
The good news is that Bossi is heading off to become the "director of formation" for the Paulists -- the go-to guy who will work to instill the right values in the young men who are finding their way toward becoming priests in that order. If just a little of Father Steve rubs off on these fellows, the world will benefit from it for decades.
Then there's the personal side of the man, which a goodly number of us parishioners strive, consciously or unconsciously, to emulate. He's a walking list of virtues, and it's very real. So often as you sit there listening to him, you wonder, "Wow, what's a brilliant man like this doing in this job? The message he's trying to convey must be really worthwhile and important." That kind of personal charisma is an instrument of grace.
Sharing this weekend of celebrations is another fantastic Paulist, Father Ricky Manalo, who served a memorable term as assistant pastor under Father Steve before spending the last year studying in China. Among many other talents, Father Ricky is a composer whose stunningly direct hymns are among the best that get sung in the church. This morning's Mass started with "The God of All Grace." When the composer of the hymn is standing quietly in the back of the church as the congregation sings it with feeeling, well, that's just cool.
Although Father Steve will be capably succeeded by Father Rich Colgan, it seems like there's going to be a large hole to fill. Then again, the outgoing pastor reminded me quite a while back that being in a parish is not so much about one's connection with the pastor as it is about one's connection with the rest of the parishioners. Can the people of St. Philip Neri keep everything rolling? Like so many other things I've heard Father Steve say, I believe we can do it.
But we'll still miss him.
Oregon GOP stalwart Kevin Mannix is a delegate to the Republican National Convention in New York City. Here now are the Top 10 things he's planning to do while he's there:
Here's the professional diary of a home appliance repairman named Jake, from down in Lane County, Oregon. Strangely fascinating.
Big story on the front page of The New York Times today about the growing economic prowess of China. The basic story line is no surprise, but the extent to which things have progressed was news to me. For example, the Chinese are big into Australia now -- billions and billions in trade going in either direction every year.
And China's using its economic muscle to score political points with the neighbors. O.k., if we're talking places like Myanmar, it's hard for me to get too worked up about it. But when you see that they'll soon be calling some shots in Australia, for crying out loud... Makes you think. Some day, certainly by the time my kids are my age, there's going to be some serious dealings with China. Most likely a major showdown.
The growing contempt for the United States throughout the world is playing right into the Chinese's hands. They just remind the nice folks in Malaysia, etc., that they've got more to fear from the U.S. than they do from China. It's hard to argue with them at this point. Next thing you know, the bridges to Beijing are built -- physically and politically.
Are we the next Russia? Are we wrecking our economy and poisoning our alliances with massive-deficit military spending and isolationism, the Soviet way? Are we so seriously lacking in diplomatic leadership that we are allowing a New Asia to emerge, with the same suspicion or even hatred in its heart for us that already infects much of the Muslim world? It's certainly possible.
And if you want to speculate about who will be waiting to dominate after we fall, just find a Saturday Times and read for yourself.
The whole flap about the shenanigans at Saif Corporation, Oregon's quasi-public workers' compensation insurer, has got me thinking. Here's one of those unique Oregon institutions that we like to brag so much about -- "Things look different here" -- and it's a disaster. The problem with it is that, like so many supposedly great Oregon ideas of the '70s and '80s, it involves setting up a huge pot of public money without anything approaching adequate oversight by, or accountability to, the public.
It's got its own board of directors, elected by no one, appointed by the governor, and the average Oregonian couldn't give you the name of a single person who serves on that board, or who has ever served on it. Its budget doesn't appear to go through normal government channels, and it's free to hire all manner of consultants and other ne'er-do-wells without public scrutiny -- at least until a major fiasco is exposed, as was done with Saif. Who audits these people, if anyone? Where are their financial statements posted so that we can all take a look? Beats me.
One of Saif's antagonists, State Sen. Vicki Walker, D-Eugene, is on a mission to bring Saif back to the status of a state agency. That makes a lot of sense to me -- more so than the proposal to disband it entirely -- but anything is better than leaving the status quo. Governor Ted has put a new director in charge of Saif, but the problems run too deep. They're structural. It's time for an overhaul, not just a new driver.
The feds were recently sniffing around Saif's sweetheart contract with Neil "Tony Soprano" Goldschmidt. I don't know if U.S. Attorney Karen Immergut has found anything illegal, or what she'll dare to do if she does. But if she really wanted to make a name for herself, she could probably make some hay turning over some rocks at some of the other large pots of tax dollars that are being administered behind closed doors by hand-picked political cronies here in the Beaver State.
A few of the potential targets that come to mind, ranked from the most suspicious on down:
How many more greasy Neil-type deals or other financial unmentionables are hiding under the rocks at these amorphous entities? Ms. Immergut?
And readers, which other fine unique Oregon institutions do you think are ripe for a thorough airing-out?
Last rites are in order for Commissioner Jim Francesconi's candidacy for mayor of Portland. Today comes the news that ex-City Commissioner Mike Lindberg, one of Jim-Bob's buddies in the aerial tram scam, has jumped off the Francesconi bandwagon. Supposedly it's because of Jim's negative ads, but perhaps it's more likely that Lindberg, who continues to hang around the local political scene years after leaving office, finally realizes that he picked the wrong horse months ago.
The other day the Francesconi campaign issued a list of things that the Commish says he'll do in his first 100 days as mayor. Things like setting up a telephone hotline that will get potholes fixed in 48 hours. The reaction: Why isn't he doing these things now, as a city commissioner?
With seven or eight years on the Council behind him, you would have thought the guy would have been smart enough not to paint himself as an agent of change -- not to be pointing out all the common-sense things that should be done but aren't. I think the clumsiness of his campaign is a bad sign of how he'd be as mayor. He may close the gap with Potter slightly, but he can't win now.
If you need another reason to vote against George Bush, take a look at what he's done to the federal tax system. He's cut taxes, especially for the wealthiest, at a time when the nation can least afford it.
I dislike paying taxes as much as the next person -- and I should know, living in Portland, the highest-taxed city west of the Mississippi. But the Bush administration's "idea" of giving the economy a short-term shot in the arm with a temporary tax cut was irresponsible. Its insistence that it's going to cut taxes even further, on a permanent basis, is insanity.
The economy faces a familiar set of problems -- economic slowdown, short-term fiscal deficits, and long-term fiscal gaps. The central feature of the administration's approach to resolving these problems is to cut taxes. With moderate adjustments for expiring provisions (which the administration has advocated in the past) and AMT reform (which the administration has claimed it will address in 2005), the administration's proposals would result in deficits in excess of 4 percent of GDP for each of the next 10 years in the nonretirement trust fund portion of the budget. Given the impending shortfalls in the retirement trust funds, this does not appear to us to be a prudent fiscal strategy. Despite its relentless cheerleading for tax cuts, the administration has provided no coherent strategy for addressing the nation's fiscal problems in the medium term or long term. -- Gale & Orszag, "Fath-Based Budgeting," 99 Tax Notes 139 (2003).
[D]iscontent with our federal and state tax systems runs deep. But there is no corresponding discontent with the government services that taxes buy. Seniors don't want to abolish Medicare. Instead, they want to add a drug benefit. Parents aren't generally arguing for abolition of the public schools; they want to make them better. Drivers complain about our roads, but mainly because they're crowded, not because they exist. We're concerned about the scale of military spending, but relatively few argue we should downsize the military.
In short, there is a curious disconnect between public unhappiness with taxes, and public support for the goods and services that taxes buy. Members of the public seem to think we can continue to enjoy government services even if we reduce or abolish the taxes that pay for them.
At the federal level, of course, deficit spending makes that possible, at least for a while. But the federal deficit is so large, and growing so rapidly, that serious economic problems are likely to emerge sooner rather than later. Even if we dodge those economic bullets, we'll still be faced with the problem of justifying the inter-generational banditry that is involved when we shift the burden of our spending to the shoulders of our children and grandchildren. -- Field, "The Emperor Has No Clothes," 101 Tax Notes 1125 (2003).
And although it was talking about state taxes, the Iowa Catholic Conference gave us some food for thought recently when it said:
Who is the author of this quotation?
I have to write to be happy whether I get paid for it or not. But it is a hell of a disease to be born with. I like to do it. Which is even worse. That makes it from a disease into a vice. Then I want to do it better than anybody has ever done it which makes it into an obsession. An obsession is terrible.
A. Glenn Reynolds.
B. Ernest Hemingway.
C. Isaac Laquedem.
D. Jean Auel.
E. Stephen King.
UPDATE, 11:33 p.m.: Answer here.
This is awful. Probably hypothermia, or even drowning, in the record bad weather we've had this week. That's a pretty mellow hike normally. God help the victim and her family.
Hey, whaddya know? I'm the "Blog of the Day" on eugene.com.
Maybe we ought to start paying attention to the legislative races coming up here in the Beaver State. Today House Democrats, badly outnumbered, took a hard shot at their GOP nemeses, proposing new limits on lobbying and accusing the Republicans of being in bed with "special interests."
The Dems clearly have the better of this argument. Just over a year ago, the Republican House (and evenly divided Senate) presided over the passage of an abomination of a bill that would have further legalized corporate graft beyond what's already allowed under Oregon law. The vote in the House was along strict party lines. Our fearless leader and governor, who was doubtlessly still taking calls from lobbyist extraordinaire Neil Goldschmidt in those days, first said he'd sign the bill, but after howls of protest, he backed down and vetoed it.
For Merkley to wheel this particular bandwagon back out of the barn at this time is pure, unadulterated election year politics. But if Minnis, who's been known to cruise with her public-official husband to places like Disney World on corporate and state money, thinks nobody's paying attention or cares about this issue, she's wrong.
In other sleaze news, those fine upstanding folks at Saif Corporation, the state's largest pot of loosely guarded public money, were held in contempt of court today. The fine could run as high as $1 million. Couldn't happen to a more deserving bunch.
When I was a boy, there was only one serious lemon-lime soda pop, and that was 7-Up. "You like it, it likes you."
Somewhere along the line of my youth, Coca-Cola introduced something caled Sprite (cousin to the orange Fanta, and to the first "diet Coke," called Tab). No one took it seriously then. But Coke is one wicked, rough player in the soda distribution game, and it hung in there with its own brand for decades.
Now Sprite has taken over. My daughter couldn't tell you what 7-Up is, but she'll ask for a Sprite now and then.
Pepsi's throwing its weight around now, too, with something called Sierra Mist. In Pepsi shops, that's what you get, whereas in Coke shops, it's Sprite.
You can still buy 7-Up in the supermarket, but try ordering one in an eating establishment. It's impossible. That old 7-Up sign in the Hollywood district of Portland? Gone in favor of the King of Beers. Guess it's nearly lights out for 7-Up, literally and figuratively.
He says the controversy swirling around him since he killed Perez has nothing to do with his decision. Yeah, right.
Still to come: the civil lawsuits.
B!X is on a hiatus of sorts, but it doesn't feel like he's missing much.
Why are things so dead at City Hall right now?
A. It's summer, and a lot of folks are away.
B. The mayor's cancer treatments are in everyone's thoughts and prayers.
C. The atmosphere is poisonous due to the extreme hard feelings between Commissioners Sten and Francesconi.
D. All of the above.
An alert reader sends along this story:
Young David was in his 4th grade class when the teacher asked the children what their fathers did for a living. All the typical answers came up -- fireman, policeman, salesman, doctor, lawyer, etc. David was being uncharacteristically quiet, so the teacher asked him about his father.
"My father's an exotic dancer in a gay cabaret and takes off all his clothes in front of other men and they put money in his underwear. Sometimes, if the offer is really good, he will go home with some guy and make love with him for money."
The teacher, obviously shaken by this statement, hurriedly set the other children to work on some exercises and took little David aside to ask him, "Is that really true about your father?"
"No," said David, "He works for the Republican National Committee to re-elect George Bush, but I was too embarrassed to say that in front of the other kids."
Portland Trail Blazer Zach Randolph is in trouble again. Now people around him are getting shot, and word is that he's been covering up for the shooter, his brother.
Then again, does anybody care any more?
Watching the Olympics these days, it's hard to tell how much of the athletic achievement is natural, and how much of it has been artificially generated by modern science.
For example, I believe that in women's beach volleyball, all the contestants should be forbidden from shaving or otherwise removing hair from any part of their bodies for one year prior to the competition. Now that would be worth Tivo-ing.
You know you're Type A when you find yourself describing a vacation in terms of what you got accomplished. But I must say, our two-week stay at the Jersey Shore did bring about everything we wanted it to, and more.
Family. My wife and I each have many relatives in New York City and surroundings, but none of them live in quarters big enough to put up a visiting family of four. Moreover, they're spread out around that metro area, and so picking a hotel location isn't easy, either. Taking a hotel room in Manhattan means that a rental car is not realistic, but without the car there's no way to see the folks over in Jersey. Hotel it in Jersey, and you've got to get in, around, and out of the city with two kids. Again, a car is dead weight against you in the city, and mass transit back there isn't really cut out for the double stroller set.
I've always said, One of these summers we'll get a house at the Shore, and invite everybody down to see us. And so we did. The New Jersey Transit train station was a block from our beach place, giving denizens of the city the option of driving down the Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway, or taking the train for $10. One guest had to take a quick, unplanned train trip back to the city to audition for a play -- she did it with aplomb and was back to the beach house in time for dinner at the house that evening.
In one fell swoop, we saw my mother, my sister, my brother, his wife, three of his four kids, my sister's two close friends, the two kids of one of the friends, my wife's niece, her aunt, two of her cousins, the cousins' husbands, and the one cousin's two kids. (The latter would be my first cousins once removed in law.) Most of the foregoing stayed at the house for a couple of nights with us. We definitely tested the sleeping capacity of the place, and we had some spectacular visiting time as a result.
My brother cooked dinner for us twice -- capably, masterfully, nonchalantly. Delicious stuff, and in each case the leftovers provided the base for two additional meals. One evening the most ambitious member of our Brooklyn crew (who knew his way around the Shore) went out foraging and brought back the makings of a feast for 10 hungry adults, including live lobsters, steaks, shrimp, scallops, fresh corn, and about a case of wine. Good wine. We didn't have lobster tools, but my spouse improvised with a tiny hammer out of a portable tool kit, and a pair of pliers borrowed from the neighbors across the street. She shelled the lobster, and our chef served it over pasta. The place rocked with laughter much of the night. It was unforgettable.
I've got a few long-lost cousins in that general vicinity, two of whom read this blog from time to time, and I'm sorry to say we didn't work them in. We had only one full weekend, and it was like Grand Central Station at times, and so we couldn't accommodate them. But that moves them to the top of the guest list for next time, and we're hoping that will be next summer.
How does it feel to watch the surrogates of George W. Bush do to John Kerry what they did to you a few years ago? They impugn his military credentials, in support of a Texas preppie wannabe punk who skipped the draft based on his father's connections and can't even get anyone to believe he showed up at the Texas National Guard officers' club.
I used to think that you, Senator, were a man of personal strength and integrity. But as I watch you stand behind our Electoral College miracle worker, you're starting to look a lot more like hacks like Orrin Hatch and Arlen Spector.
I had a law school roommate whose elderly aunt used to say, in a thick Yiddish accent that he imitated so well, "I'd rather have a rotten nectarine than a ripe peach."
Diana Snowden Goldschmidt is a high-priced consultant, a former Pacific Power executive, and the wife of the fellow who's cornered the West Coast market on the increasingly in-demand title "disgraced former governor." Now she's under investigation by the Oregon Attorney General's office, under suspicion of a conflict of interest in connection with her vote or votes as a member of the Oregon Investment Council. Ms. Goldschmidt voted to commit state pension money to investments in Texas Pacific Group, the Texas-based investor group that's trying to take over Portland General Electric, including a vote just as that group was tapping her husband to be an investor in, and the chair of, its local entity in the PGE deal. (Of course, much of that's history now that Hizzoner's little problem has come to light.)
According to press reports, Ms. G. voted to invest $300 million in Texas Pacific last Oct. 29. As long-time readers of the blog may recall, her husband's role as chair of the new Texas Pacific Oregon company was announced on Nov. 18. The story that circulated at that time was that Mr. G. claimed he was first approached by Texas Pacific to head up the new company at an out-of-town meeting on Oct. 30.
Did the wife know on Oct. 29 that her husband was scheduled to fly down -- I think it was San Francisco -- to meet with Texas Pacific people the next day? If so, did she ask him what the meeting was supposed to be about? If she did, did he tell her?
Apparently it's the second pending investigation of one of the Goldschmidts. Federal lawmakers are also reported to be looking at Mr. G.'s shadowy role as a million-dollar "consultant" for SAIF, the state-run worker's compensation insurance provider.
The "probe" into Ms. G.'s affairs makes me laugh a little. I can't help having that reaction when I hear "investigation by the Oregon Department of Justice" used in connection with a cunning West Hills Portland figure, especially a Democratic power broker. My own observation of Oregon Justice over the past few years is that it's become quite toothless at best, and politically bought off at worst. To think that Attorney General Hardy Myers is going to actually do something punitive against either of the Goldschmidts seems totally far-fetched to me.
This time around, though, there's a glimmer of a remote possibility that something serious might happen. The state is bringing in an outside sheriff to take a look at the situation, and he's a straight-shooter of a guy. According to the AP story on the investigation:
Edward J. McAniff, a law professor-in-residence at the University of Oregon Law School, will help conduct the review, Edwards and Drummond said in a letter to Gov. Ted Kulongoski.
Edward "Ted" McAniff, who has been mentioned in this blog before, is a semi-retired partner at the Los Angeles megabucks law firm O'Melveny & Myers. He spends a good part of every year nowadays in Central Oregon. He's also a visiting law professor on a regular basis at the University of Oregon in Eugene.
Ted, or "Mack the Knife" as he's sometimes known, is a brilliant man who knows as much about banking and finance as anyone. He's Catholic, and I mean that in a good way. He is a sweet guy at heart, but a tough customer who doesn't suffer fools gladly. He takes no prisoners. Legend has it that he used to require his kids to do Marine Corps-style calesthenics with him before school every morning.
I've always held Ted's ethics in the highest regard. I have no idea what, if any, prior connections he or the O'Melveny firm have had with the Oregon Investment Council, Texas Pacific Group, or the Goldschmidts, but at this stage in Ted's life I don't see much for him to gain by sweeping more Goldschmidt droppings under the large State Capitol Rug. It will be very interesting to see (if we're ever allowed to) just what he finds, and what he has to say about it.
Do us proud, Ted.
Today I got an e-mail message from a long-lost childhood play friend with a long, hard-to-pronounce Polish surname.
At just about the same time, my friend Fred e-mails me this joke:
A Pole goes to the ophthalmologist, who shows him a card with the letters
'C Z W X N Q S T A C Z'.
"Can you read this?" he asks.
"Read it?" the Pole replies, "I know the guy!"
Funny joke. Eerie coincidence.
Here's a great Portland story: a one-man mobile bike repair shop. His name is Joe, and he calls himself "The Missing Link." He'll bring his well-equipped truck to your bike anywhere in the Portland area, fix it, tune it up, whatever. Joe solved my tire problems today, curbside in front of my home, at a very competitive price. The good biking advice, he threw in for free.
This is his first year in operation, and he's not even in the phone book yet. If you want his help to get you back on the road, now's the time.
If you've got $50 you can spare for a good cause, here's a calendar item from this morning's Trib that's worth your attention. The event takes place tomorrow afternoon and evening:
Gala for Franny Fund, benefit to raise money for Portland area child Frances "Franny" Welch-Cabler to get intensive, out-of-state therapy for cerebral palsy, 4 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., Helvetia Winery, 22485 N.W. Yungen Road, Hillsboro, $50, plus silent and oral auctions. Call 503-699-1175.
I'll be the auctioneer at the aforementioned event, and if I see you there and you mention this blog entry to me, I'll buy you a glass of the good wine.
The River District, the Pearl District, all this high-density residential infill. It's wonderful! Katz-ivating! Randy-Gragg-a-licious!
In a decade or so, it will be like Detroit. The real one, in Michigan.
Even before the latest "luxury condo" towers are finished, the middle-class apartment buildings are already going to pot.
Hey, let's do it again at North Macadam! Portland -- we put the Gold in Goldschmidt.
While I was gone, a new Portland-based blog called Roses and Raindrops popped up. Sassy, smart little bugger so far.
For the dog days of summer, a new blog from a Portland dog lover and activist: PDXDogBlog.
Last night was another long one spent finalizing an "outline" (around 30 pages) for a professional talk that I'll be giving next month. I'll fly off to address a couple hundred lawyers and accountants about recent developments in tax matters, but in addition to my shining face and sage oration, these audiences require written materials. Getting them ready well in advance of the event is the hardest part of the job.
In the wee small hours of this morning, I shot the latest opus off to the conference organizers. It's always nice to see those projects go out the door. They cut into my blogging!
Just so you readers don't feel cheated, here's a sneak peak into the outline:
The most significant recent manifestation of the state of flux in which the discount for lack of marketability (DLOM) finds itself is McCord v. Commissioner, a 2003 decision of the Tax Court. There, the issue was the fair market values of interests in a family limited partnership (FLP) that held securities, real estate, and oil and gas interests. In setting the DLOM for the FLP interests, the court refused to consider the initial public offering (IPO) studies that have frequently been used to quantify the discount. At the urging of the IRS's expert, Mukesh Bajaj, the court derived the DLOM exclusively from restricted stock studies — and even then, it approached those studies in a manner not usually seen in prior court decisions. In the end, the court adopted a DLOM of 20 percent, as opposed to the 35 percent sought by the taxpayer and the 7 percent sought by the IRS.
McCord is of particular interest in that it was a reviewed decision — that is, voted on by all of the active judges of the Tax Court. There were four dissents, mostly on other issues, and indeed it appears as though those other issues were why the court decided to review the case en banc. Nonetheless, the views of the DLOM expressed in McCord may be binding law for future Tax Court cases; at a minimum, they are now the likely starting point for analysis by the judges on that court.
As they say in the trade, "footnotes omitted." There's still time to sign up for the speech if you're interested, heh heh.
The two weeks we spent in Bay Head, New Jersey in late July and early August made such an impression that I think I could write a book about them. In reporting on the trip, it's hard to tell where to start. Might as well go with this for openers:
Gas station attendants
Decent turkey burgers
Things That the Jersey Shore Has, and Oregon Doesn't
71-degree ocean swimming
Deli sandwiches on great rye bread, with about a pound of meat on them
The default mustard: some serious, stoneground stuff
Beach boardwalks with fabulous kiddie rides
Local flounder, swordfish and fluke
Beach admission charges
"Taylor Pork Roll"
A 6 percent sales tax on just about everything
Guys suspected of the 2001 anthrax attacks
UPDATE, 8/19, 8:55 p.m.: Just thought of two more for the second list:
Hard water that makes thin hair look thicker
Beach houses with hot/cold outdoor showers
UPDATE, 8/21, 4:39 a.m.: And let's not forget:
CNN/Money has ranked the 50 states based on their overall state tax burdens on so-called average folks. Oregon is in the bottom half, down with the lower-tax states, at no. 36.
When they get around to city rankings, however, Portland is the 8th-highest-tax city among the 51 big U.S. cities, taking all state and local levies together. We're way over the average, and the very highest west of the Mississippi.
Knocking around in pocket change on my recent East Coast trip was the 2004 nickel with the new back (right), commemorating the Louisiana Purchase.
After all these years using Jefferson's Monticello as the visual cue for the back of the five-cent piece, the new design caused me to do a double-take as I fished around for toll change along the Garden State Parkway. Especially with all the funky "50 state" backs on quarters these days, a new reverse side to the nickel is confusing. I have had no trouble with the ill-fated Susan B. Anthony and Sacagawea dollars, but the new nickel kind of threw me.
Coming soon, another nickel back, this one in honor of Lewis & Clark. Monticello won't return until 2006.
Oh, well. It's nice to see the U.S. currency bag being shaken up as vigorously as it is these days. It's only a matter of time before we come to our senses and accept one dollar and two dollar coins, the way those kooky Canadians do.
Big story on the front page of The Oregonian yesterday about the uproar over Peter Kohler's plan to become the new chair of the Texas Pacific Group unit that's trying to take over Portland General Electric. Kohler, president of Oregon Health and Sciences University here in Portland, is the new local face card in the Texas Pacific bid, replacing disgraced former Gov. Neil Goldschmidt, a West Hills crony who stepped down after being outed for statutory rape.
Kohler has drawn fire for his planned new side job, including some serious heat from City Commissioner Randy Leonard. As told by The O, the principal protest goes something like this: Kohler shouldn't take the Texas Pacific gig because he has a conflict of interest. How can he do what's best for OHSU, which is a large consumer of PGE power, while at the same time looking out for the new PGE shareholders, including himself? (He's planning to personally buy a half-million dollars' worth of stock in the new company.)
To me that's far too genteel a criticism of Kohler. Let's take the gloves off, shall we? And talk about what's really wrong with this cute little deal.
The man makes $600,000 a year as the president of OHSU. That's as in, six. Hundred. Thousand. U.S. Dollars. On top of a company car and free housing. Except for perhaps a couple of state university major sports coaches, he must be the highest paid education official, and the highest paid public official, in the history of the State of Oregon.
$600,000 a year breaks down to $11,538.46 a week. Even assuming that he works 50 hours a week, that's $230.77 an hour, on top of free transportation and housing. For that kind of money, the man should eat, drink, sleep, and breathe OHSU. He shouldn't be gallivanting around at some part-time side occupation that's completely unrelated to the Pill Hill mission.
He claims overseeing PGE will take "only" two days a month. That's a half day a week, folks. What if the governor announced that he was taking off every Tuesday at noon to play golf, and not returning to his office until Wednesday? How would that play with the public? Much less moonlighting to the tune of another $125,000 a year, plus $1,000 per meeting attended, as Kohler wants to do.
At the good doctor's salary rate, a half day costs the medical school more than $1,100, which adds up to around $60,000 a year.
Is there another word for this besides "arrogance"?
Last but not least, I couldn't help but notice this passage in the O story:
Indeed, the 66-year-old endocrinologist is hailed as a visionary who transformed OHSU from a run-down teaching hospital to an academic powerhouse.
I'm sure all the little people who have been working hard at OHSU for many years really loved reading that.
People who don't read blogs don't know what they're missing. In browsing around the Oregon blogosphere upon my return from hiatus, I noticed many interesting developments that took place while I was gone. Among these are:
1. Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard has started blogging in earnest over on BlueOregon. So far he's ranged from "The day I became a fireman" to "Why I oppose the Texas Pacific bid for PGE." Good stuff.
2. Mayoral hopeful Jim Francesconi and his son Bryan have taken to posting comments on Portland Communique. They couldn't have picked a more hostile forum, but I guess it's part of the Schnoz's new, overtly combative campaign style. Bryan apparently has also been posting comments under pseudonyms, which b!X at Communique quickly outed. LOL.
3. Tammy over at Dishpan Dribble is into posting pictures now, including a long-awaited photo of herself, which for some reason she quickly took down. (C'mon, now, put it back!) Meanwhile, Alan at Blue Hole has run a couple of sharp parodies of the Dribbler, to which she has taken exception. Since Tammy writes in great detail about her family and domestic life as well as about political issues, the fun-poking necessarily hits close to home. She's got a great blog, though, and I hope she doesn't get discouraged over it. Every knock is a boost, baby.
4. b!X keeps threatening to pull the plug on his site this fall if he can't come up with a viable way of supporting himself through blogging. That would be a great loss to the City of Portland. Scary.
5. Mellow-Drama has moved to the Hawthorne neighborhood. So far, she's loving it. I worry, though, about what will happen when her down-to-earth Midwestern sensibilities run into the aggressive panhandlers and the boys in the noisy drum circles.
6. Some clown negligently lost Pril's domain for her, but she recovered fairly quickly. That's a relief. I think she lost her archives, though, which means that if you want to hear about her bra size, you're going to have to ask her about it. 8c)
UPDATE, 8/17, 10:26 p.m.: Tammy's got her picture back up, as part of a photo album feature. It's here.
Emily over at Strangechord -- who just celebrated her third blogiversary -- always invites readers to listen to one of her sets of music, posted on a service known as Webjay. I finally took her up on it last night as I did some work in the home office. What I discovered was a most interesting collection of space-age instrumental tracks. Well worth a visit when you're in a contemplative frame of mind.
I think she changes the setlist from time to time, and so if you delay, you may find something completely different when you get there. Given the good taste with which she's assembled the list that's posted now, however, I'd expect something fine in any genre.
Bob "White Bread" Costas of NBC, gushing over the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, talking about sending out "props" to someone or other.
It turns out that five to six weeks away from here was just what the doctor ordered. An extended break provided many benefits.
During that time, my relationship with this blog and its readers became much clearer. I got ego strokes from many quarters, which was nice in its own way. Thanks to everyone who offered all the kind words.
As expected, after just a couple of weeks, I missed having the creative outlet. There were a few times when I could barely restrain myself from hopping on line and spouting off. Fortunately, I could let out little bleats here and there over on BlueOregon, which seems to have quickly created a life of its own. It's nice to be part of a blog team.
During the internet silence, I felt as though I had one less thing to worry about. Then I realized, I had actually been worrying about weblogs, which in the end doesn't make sense. There's a streak of perfectionism there that isn't healthy. And with a few extra minutes to catch my breath each day, I was able to reflect and see that this streak rears its head in many other aspects of my life. I need to lighten up a fair amount, and pay more attention to balance.
On the exterior front, we moved my home office (where the blogging rubber meets the road) from a second-floor bedroom, which is being taken over by our daughters, to the attic. This necessitated installation of climate control, a wireless router, new phones, and a new cable TV outlet, and I took the opportunity to switch over to a newer computer -- a speedy, inexpensive little e-machines model that puts my older Dell to shame. With the new desktop came new software, including Windows Movie Maker, a wonderful program whose possibilities seem endless. I bought some more bandwidth from my ISP to make room for what I hope will be many more media creations in the months ahead.
When the hiatus began, I was thinking that if I came back to blogging, it would be with a new set of personal groundrules that would assure its role as a relaxing hobby, and reduce its potential to be an additional stressor. As I ease back into it, though, I've decided that I don't need a bunch of new rules so much as an adjusted attitude. Writing is serious, it's important, but it's not that serious or important. Maintaining that "give-a-sh*t" attitude won't be easy for me, but it's the only right way to "get to that place where we really want to go, and we'll walk in the sun."
Last but not least, two weeks of the break were spent at the Jersey Shore -- a fabulous trip that deserves a report or two of its own. More on that over the next few days. Meanwhile, it's great to have this place to come home to.
Ten years ago this weekend, I did one of the smartest things, if not the smartest thing, I have ever done: I married my wife.
The scene was the tall ship The Pride of Baltimore II, whose docking at Astoria, Oregon coincided with that town's annual Regatta Days. The ship was out on the Columbia somewhere, near its turbulent mouth, on a clear, sunny Saturday evening. Judge Paula Brownhill, then of the town's municipal court, presided over the brief "I do's."
It was not a conventional wedding, by any means. We had lived together for more than two years at this point. We had decided on the date and time just a few weeks before, and in attendance were a group of strangers, with the mother of the bride being the only person on board who was related to the happy couple. The ship was making a brief run around the proud old seaport in a benefit for a Portland nonprofit environmental group of which I was a director at the time. All but a few of the event-goers were unaware that they were about to witness nuptials as part of the experience.
Having been married once before, I was terrified that a more elaborate event might jinx our relationship. My beautiful bride agreed to be wed on the tall ship that night, with a reception and honeymoon postponed to an unspecified future date. We didn't exchange rings, as I had already given her one for each hand previously.
The crew of the ship fired off its cannons with a lusty shout of "Fire in the hole!" just as we were pronounced man and wife. There on the deck, we popped open a bottle of Dom Perignon champagne, the last time I consumed that particular beverage. Upon returning to port, we newlyweds and Mom headed out for the best dinner Astoria could provide -- lobster for yours truly -- and a spin through the Regatta festivities. It seems every town in the American West has its "days" each summer, and I believe this was the 100th annual event of that kind for that city. Retiring to our friendly historic bed-and-breakfast, we told ourselves that the fireworks, parade, and pageantry were all for us.
We threw a nice reception for our friends a few months later in Portland, and the rest is history.
Words can't describe how much better my life has become since I started dating my bride. Anniversary tributes are nice, but they pale in comparison to the wonder and beauty that I experience nearly every day in my marriage. It ain't all a bed of roses, but at my age I'm smart enough to know a very, very good thing when I see it. And so this weekend holds a special place.
Click here and stand by for an important announcement.