An old friend's passing away
The Champion sports apparel outlet store in Grants Pass is closing. If you've ever been in there, you know it's a slice of Oregon that can't be replaced. RoguePundit has the scoop.
|For old times' sake|
The bojack bumper sticker -- only $1.50!
To order, click here.
The Champion sports apparel outlet store in Grants Pass is closing. If you've ever been in there, you know it's a slice of Oregon that can't be replaced. RoguePundit has the scoop.
Well, the Jeopardy guy finally lost, after 75 shows. It was bound to happen eventually.
But I can't believe the Final Jeopardy question that he blew in the end:
Category: Business and Industry
Clue: Most of this firm's 70,000 seasonal white-collar employees work only four months a year
Duh! Come on, Ken!
Across the country, you could hear the tax lawyers telling their spouses: "I should go on that show." (Via AboutItAll.)
A Portland State University grad student in biology has an academic paper coming out soon on the auditory system of the Cuban tree frog. And she has some interesting weekend hobbies, too.
Best of luck to her.
Lost in the haze of the gluttonous weekend just past were a couple of news stories that deserved blog attention, but didn't get it. (Perhaps you missed a few items, too?) I'm going to try to catch up on them starting now.
The big bombshell was dropped in the O on Wednesday, but didn't catch my eye until I piled up the papers for recycling tonight: Zupan's Markets is not going through with its plan to open a new store in the condo tower being built at NE 16th and Weidler. The developer and Zupan's are slinging major kim chee at each other in a lawsuit, and the lease for the ground floor of the property has been cancelled.
Long-time readers of this blog know that this is really significant. The specter of a new Zupan's at that location, just northeast of Lloyd Center, apparently contributed to the demise of the once-proud Irvington Market. Times got tough for the produce operator in that market, and when he pulled out, no one was fool enough to step in and take on the impending Zupan's. Soon, without the fresh produce as a magnet, the rest of the shops in the market -- a butcher, a fish market, a deli, and a juice bar -- fell like dominoes. Now the nearest decent fresh fish is a 10-minute drive through Pearlie Hell to the City Market on NW 21st.
But the folks in the neighborhood took heart. Soon we'd have our $24-a-pound Copper River salmon right at our doorsteps once again, when Mr. Zupan opened another enchanted forest of high-end groceries at the foot of the condo tower.
Who knows why this aspect of the project failed? Was the developer acting in bad faith, was Zupan's, or were they both acting up? I smell somebody running out of money.
Meanwhile, the condo tower continues its hideous skyward climb. It's a bulky box, to say the least, with sidewalks on Weidler Street that are grotesquely narrow compared to the size and height of the building. There's no setback at all. Even with a prime anchor tenant, it would have been way too much building. With a collection of gumball stores on the ground floor -- like the motley crew of nondescript mall food court castoffs that now occupy the old Irvington Market space -- it will be a downright ugly place to be.
And forget about the surrounding properties. The poor florist on Broadway who held onto his fraction of a block rather than sell out to the condo weasels will likely live to regret his decision. His little skylight looks ridiculous now, surrounded on the south and west by multiple stories of housing. His plants will literally never see the sun. Ditto for the west-facing lots across the street on NE 17th. There will never be anything there now but another condo tower or "Fast Noodles on a Carousel R Us."
And you folks who are paying upwards of $800,000 to live in an apartment building on the corner of NE 16th and Weidler, let me give you an important link: here.
Ironically, in the same pile of newspapers I came across an article about how the folks in the raped and pillaged Lair Hill neighborhood (where the Mrs. and I lived for several years) are hoping to get some funding to rip out some of the obscene highway ramps that have destroyed their community for many decades. Now that the OHSU Aerial Tram is under construction, they can resume talking about some day, maybe, if there's ever any money for it, considering starting to eventually take the bridge approaches and freeway ramps out. But the neighbors will have to have patience -- a virtue that's not required of the rich doctors who will literally look down their noses into these folks' backyards in a couple of years. No waiting for grants when it's time to put money into Homer Williams's pockets. Just start ripping.
One of the factors that is listed in the article as wrecking the old Lair Hill are the condo towers that were built in the nearby South Auditorium district:
"It would help weave together sections of that neighborhood that have been pretty badly cut up by past transportation projects," Doss says.It appears that building those towers is now acknowledged as some sort of mistake.
Projects from the 1950s
Those projects, which include Interstate 5, Naito Parkway and the Ross Island Bridge's western end, were built primarily in the 1950s during the urban renewal of south Portland. Once a vibrant community of immigrants, the area began to lose energy with the opening of the Ross Island Bridge in 1926 and the rise of the automobile, according to neighborhood historian Stephen Leflar, who is in the planning group.
During the urban renewal in the 1950s, buildings on several dozen blocks were bulldozed and the roads were put in along with condominium towers.
But if you're a developer on the City Council A List, 50 years later, you still get to make all the mistakes you want. No doubt the taxpayers will clean them up later.
Another Thanksgiving weekend under my belt -- literally. There's something about this four-day period that puts me to sleep. Maybe it's the tryptophan, or maybe it's the lengthening shadows and long nights. But it's definitely a time to catch up on rest after a hectic couple of months. This year October and November have been even more action-packed than usual.
What lulls me to slumber more than anything else, though, is televised sports. I can't go more than 15 minutes in a prone position in front of a football or basketball game without crashing. I catch a few minutes of the game just as I conk out and come to, but that's about it.
Tonight I couldn't resist catching the end of the Sunday Night Football contest, and when I turned it on, I was delighted to see that it was snowing sideways where the game was being played, in Denver. It was an exciting finish, with the visiting Oakland Raiders coming from behind to beat the home team, the Broncos, in the fourth quarter. Players slipping and sliding in the snow, with the ball taking weird bounces and flying in odd trajectories. At the very end, a field goal was blocked because, given the conditions, the kick was way lower than normal.
But there was one aspect of the game that bothered me. If you've watched any football lately, you know that, thanks to the wonders of technology, we now see the first down marker on every play as a yellow stripe electronically superimposed across the field. It's done so well -- unlike an old-fashioned chroma-key insert -- that it looks exactly as though it was painted on the field along with the other stripes marking the yardage to the end zone.
In the snow, however, the yellow stripe reminded me of an old Frank Zappa tune so appropriate to the season. And it dawned on me: They definitely need a different color of stripe for the snow games.
And my momma cried:
And my momma cried:
Nanook-a, no no (no no . . . )
Nanook-a, no no (no no . . . )
Don't be a naughty Eskimo-wo-oh
(Bop-bop ta-da-da bop-bop ta-da-da)
Save your money: don't go to the show
Well I turned around an' I said:
HO HO (Booh!)
Well I turned around an' I said:
HO HO (Booh!)
Well I turned around an' I said:
An' the Northern Lights commenced t' glow
An' she said
(Bop-bop ta-da-da bop . . . )
With a tear in her eye:
"Watch out where the huskies go, and don’t you eat that yellow snow
"Watch out where the huskies go, and don’t you eat that yellow snow"
Well, right about that time, people
A fur-trapper (who was strictly from commercial)
Had the unmitigated audacity to jump up from behind my igloo (peekaboo)
And he started into whippin' on my favorite baby seal
With a lead-filled snowshoe
I said, with a lead-
With a lead-filled snowshoe
He said, "Peekaboo"
I said, with a lead-
With a lead-filled snowshoe
He said, "Peekaboo"
He went right upside the head of my favorite baby seal
he went "whap" with a lead-filled snowshoe, and
he hit him on the nose and hit him on the fin, and he
that got me just about as evil as an Eskimo boy can be. So I bent down
and I reached down, and I scooped down and I gathered up a generous
mitten-ful of the deadly yellow snow
Didn't get yours? No need to miss out on the festivities. Get one to call your very own here. (Sorry, no picture of Diane on the form this time.)
And remember -- just one more year after this. Then something will happen to stimulate our economy so wildly that this tax will go away. It's only temporary.
OregonLive, the weak website run by the folks who bring us The Oregonian, has got bloggers on it these days. I've mostly avoided them because, well, blogs run by The O? How backward.
But lately I've been catching someone named Chris Snethen over there, and I'm liking what I'm reading. Snethen is down in the Mountain Park section of Lake Oswego, where I spent my Divorce Detention Camp period. He's got opinions, he's not shy about expressing them, and he writes well.
So check him out.
Another year, and once again my cup runneth over.
Happy Thanksgiving to my friends in the blogosphere.
This blog logged visit no. 225,000 within the last hour or so.
The visitor was looking for an auction at which to buy the cup that hit Indiana Pacer thug Ron Artest in the chest, triggering last Friday night's infamous brawl. Come to think of it, that would be a collector's item. How about Artest's face on a grilled cheese sandwich?
As usual, the lucky reader wins a free lifetime subscription to this blog. Thanks to everybody who visits here.
Last week I wrote about the James McManus book Positively Fifth Street, which covered poker and murder. The murder part concerned the trial of a couple accused of killing a member of the Binion family, which runs a prominent Las Vegas casino. In the book, they were found guilty, but they got a new trial. An alert reader points out that the retrial of these defendants ended with their acquittal yesterday.
Almost makes me like Texas again.
The Republican leadership in Congress wants to be able to send congressional committee staff members out to the IRS service centers and have them read your tax return.
At least, that's what they slipped into the big budget bill that's awaiting the President's signtaure.
That is, until somebody noticed.
Now no one in either house of Congress is admitting to having even looked at the provision before voting on the bill.
The new Congress isn't even here yet, and already I can see that the next four years are going to be extremely depressing.
Thanksgiving's almost here. Hard to believe, but the signs are all there. The days are near their shortest -- only a month until the solstice -- and the holiday season is rumbling toward us like a beeping, flashing, tinsel-bedecked steamroller.
The holidays always wind up being tough on me. By New Year's Day, I'm usually a basket case. The highs get really high, but the inevitable lows are really low.
This year, I'm resolving to try something new: a relatively even keel the whole way through. No self-inflicted pressure to experience the Greatest Christmas Ever. Let magic happen, without trying too hard to create it. If it's meant to be, it wil show up.
Is this even possible?
It was a week of rare occurrences. Not only did I finish a book that I was reading just for fun, but I also went to an actual movie theater and saw a first-run movie.
It was Ray, the biography of Ray Charles. Given how much I love his music, I was predisposed to enjoy the film, and I did. Jamie Foxx delivered a strong performance. The screenplay, although it included some apocryphal details, on the whole rang true. And while the running time was a bit long, that was only because there was so much of Ray's music included in the movie. I for one was left wanting more.
I've liked Foxx since I first saw him on the hilarious TV show In Living Color. In Ray, he took on an enormous challenge. And with his remarkable skills as a mimic and a pianist, he brought the role off well. It's hard to imagine another actor creating any better effect. Director Taylor Hackford kept the lens right in everyone's faces the whole time, so there was little room for error. Foxx didn't make any.
The kid who played Ray as a child (C.J. Sanders) was surprisingly good, too.
An added highlight was the trailer for an upcoming Bill Murray movie in which he sends up Jacques Cousteau (or at least, Cousteau types). That looks well worth another $8.50.
The gangsterization of professional basketball in the United States reached a new low tonight, when a game in Detroit between the hometown Pistons and the Indiana Pacers was called off prematurely in an effort to break up a dangerous brawl that had erupted between the Pacers and the Detroit fans.
It started with a blatant dirty foul by Pacer thug Ron Artest on Detroit forward Ben Wallace with less than a minute to play and Indiana comfortably ahead. Wallace charged Artest and slugged him, and the usual collision of pushing and shoving players ensued.
Artest is a jerk who really needs to find another job, but so far, it was just a typical basketball brawl. When he returned to the Indiana bench, however, a fan threw something at him. It looked like two ounces of beer in a plastic cup. It hit him in the chest as he lay on the scorer's table.
And that's where Mr. Artest did something totally, completely, utterly inexcusable.
He ran into the stands and cold-cocked a young guy. Apparently it wasn't the one who threw the cup, because the guy he hit was holding tightly onto his own beverage. When some of the nearby fans got into it, Artest whacked them pretty good, too. Then a few of his less intelligent teammates took it upon themselves to run up into the stands and help settle the score. Their behavior was not self-defense in any meaningful sense of that term. Chairs were eventually thrown. Pepper spray was brandished. People were hurt. At least one person was hospitalized. The game was called off.
Imagine what the young kids in that arena were feeling as they watched this unfold. Imagine me trying to explain this to my four-year-old daughter, who was watching it with me on television. Thanks, NBA, for another night of wholesome family fun.
Every single player who made contact with a fan should be suspended and fined for at least a third of the season. Anyone who actually threw a punch at a fan should sit out the rest of the season. Especially former Trail Blazer Jermaine O'Neal, who ran a good distance to take a serious shot to a fan's jaw (at 7:05 on this video) just as the fan was standing up after taking a punch from Artest. And Artest himself, who has been involved in many an anger control incident on the court over the years, should be banned from the NBA for life.
A two-month suspension would be too good for Artest. In fact, that's what he had the nerve to ask the team for last week -- time off to concentrate on his rap music record label. Looks like he figured out a way to get his leave of absence and blow off a little steam on a couple of little white boys' faces at the same time.
The commentators on ESPN should also get a good, swift kick in the pants. From their lofty perch in New York, they've kept themselves busy all night blaming "the despicable fans" who "provoked the brawl." Not having been there themselves, they speculate that some of the fans who had their lights punched out must have been yelling "racial slurs" at the Indiana players "throughout the night."
Of course some of the fans are at fault. The ones who committed assaults shoud be prosecuted for their crimes. (As should Artest, O'Neal and their teammates.)
But there is no excuse for a professional athlete to punch a spectator.
Ever. Ever, ever, ever.
Shame on the NBA. Shame on ESPN. What an embarassment to our country.
UPDATE, 11/20, 2:55 p.m.: Four players involved in the brawl have been suspended indefinitely, pending some sort of league review.
UPDATE, 11/21, 11:16 p.m.: The suspensions have been announced -- Artest the rest of the season, O'Neal 25 games, Pacer Stephen Jackson 30 games, Ben Wallace 6 games, several others a game or two. To me, it was a little on the light side, but at least the league acted swiftly and decisively.
Now comes the other stuff: the appeals from the players' union, the charges that league management is racist, yada yada yada. But let's hope there are some criminal prosecutions as well, both of fans and players. I saw Jermaine O'Neal commit felonious assault on national TV, and he reportedly also punched out another person off camera in the tunnel to the locker room.
BTW, the video I linked to above has been cut back, and so there's no "7:05" on it any more. But the whole thing can now be seen here.
It's 16 days later, and I'm still reeling from the election. It's just an unspeakable outcome. Already I'm starting to get that resigned feeling -- just push down the rage and get ready to grin and bear it, every day, for four more years. Here's a site where a black mourning ribbon is now displayed to remind readers of what the red states have just done. Sounds about right to me.
There are many others who will continue to stand up and shout, however. Most of it makes me ill. For one thing, I don't want to hear "Bush stole the election again." At all. You want to question and reform the shabby election machinery we have in many places in this country? A most worthy cause. But let's stop talking about how Kerry really won. He lost. He was a weak candidate, he ran a dopey campaign, and he lost. It's over.
Curiously, the most comfort I'm taking right now is from the Sorry, Everybody site. I linked to this when there were only a few photos there. Now there are a couple of thousand. It's great to see faces attached to our dark feelings about our place in the world today, and the responses from abroad. What a great site. (Thanks to Portland's own tireless Bohemian Mama for providing the links and keeping the faith.)
The Goldschmidt Good Old Boy Network scored some points yesterday, as two of his lieutenants advanced toward public offices, so appointed by our illustrious governor. The Senate Rules Committee easily endorsed dozens of Governor Ted's appointees to state boards, commissions, and bureaucratic jobs, including a couple of Neil-ophytes.
One was Multnomah County Sheriff Bernie Giusto, who is being reappointed a director of Tri-Met. Giusto was The Goldschmidt's chauffeur at the time when, as governor, the latter was dealing with the very distraught girl with whom he had gotten it on when she was 14 years old. State Sen. Vicki Walker, the former abuse victim who's taken a keen interest in all things Goldschmidt, gave old Bernie (who went on to have a "special friendship" with his old boss' ex-wife) a hard time at the hearing yesterday. But his nomination sailed through the legislative committee.
For the scandal-plagued board of Saif, the governor offers us "Rev." Matt Hennessee, who goes way back to the Neil Nike Days. Hennessee, who apparently is set to run for some public office or other, currently sits as chair of the Portland Development Commission, whose main function appears to be to siphon money from taxpayers over to the Gerdling/Edlen Development group, all in the name of the condo-ization of Portland. Now he'll get to oversee a big state pork barrel to go with his municipal one.
Rounding out this gallery was Dale Penn, the former Marion County district attorney, who's going to be a director of the scandal-prone Oregon Lottery Commission. It's ironic that he should be ascending to this position the same week in which both The Portland Tribune and the Willamette Week have called him out once again for the apparently bogus prosecution in the "unsolved mystery" case of the murder of former Corrections Director Michael Francke back in the Goldschmidt Salad Days. Penn is the last person on earth who, with a straight face, is still insisting that Frank Gable, the drug-dealing thug who's doing time for the murder, actually did the killing. I wonder what new fantasies he'll indulge in over on the Lottery board.
Governor Ted, you don't get out enough. There are plenty of great Democrats out there who aren't tainted by the bad old days. If you really want to clean up messes like Saif and the Lottery, and prevent Tri-Met from becoming another one, you really need to find some new blood.
1. Which Portland-area nonprofit social service agency paid its chief officer compensation of $533,278, plus benefits, last year?
2. Which Portland-area nonprofit social service agency saw its chief officer receive annual compensation of $785,446 last year?
3. Where will I no longer take used household items for donation?
The answer is here.
An alert reader sends us to this amazing eBay auction.
So much of my working life is spent reading and editing, and so much of my leisure time is spent on the internet, that I don't get a chance to read books for pleasure as much as I would like. But occasionally I squeeze one in, as I just did with James McManus's Positively Fifth Street.
As a former newspaper reporter and an aspiring card shark, I greatly enjoyed McManus's acount of his 2000 visit to Las Vegas, wherein (a) playing as a rookie, he reached the finals of the World Series of Poker and (b) he covered the trial of the couple accused of murdering Las Vegas gambling magnate Ted Binion. If you're part of the current craze of watching poker tournaments on television (I'm told more people now catch poker on the tube than hockey), or if you like a good yarn, you'd like this book, too.
Some good columns in yesterday's papers. The Oregonian's Renee Mitchell sang the praises of the group that opposed the City of Portland's ill-advised rush-rush plan to cover its drinking water reservoirs. Not only did the neighborhood activists stop the burial plan, but they also went to court and forced the city to reform its process for issuing bonds.
Multnomah County Judge Marilyn Litzenberger has ruled that the city must stop its practice of "emergency" authorizations for bonds without telling the public what the money's going to be used for. Good for the activists, good for the judge, good for the city, good for Renee Mitchell.
Meanwhile, over at The New York Times, there were two nice op-ed pieces on the upcoming round of "tax reform." In one, Yale law professor "Big Mike" Graetz calls for a national value-added tax (kind of like a sales tax, but it's paid by the producers of goods and added into the price), and a complete exemption from income tax for folks with incomes under $100,000:
The tax system can and should be fixed without such a shift in the nation's tax burdens. America should return the income tax to its pre-World War II status -- a relatively low-rate simple tax on a thin slice of the wealthiest Americans. Rather than repealing the alternative minimum tax, as many have urged, Congress should repeal the regular income tax. Enacting a value-added tax -- a tax on sales of goods and services collected at all stages of production -- at a rate of 14 percent would finance an income-tax exemption of up to $100,000.
As one would expect from Graetz, it makes a lot of sense.
In the other op-ed column, NYU sociologist Dalton Conley urges Democrats to seize the tax cut momentum from the Bush administration in order to help the poor. Let the middle and upper classes have their tax cuts, so long as there are tax and welfare-related goodies in the package for lower-income folks as well. He's also all for hijacking the spending binge on the military for "progressive" ends:
The worship of all things military can also be co-opted for progressive ends. The military is now the de facto welfare state. The armed forces and the Department of Veterans Affairs are the two largest health care providers in the United States. The military is also a major bankroller of higher education through the G.I. Bill. And because of America's all-volunteer force, it is the nation's poor that disproportionately serve. By proposing major increases in benefits for the families of active personnel, reservists and veterans, Democrats can use that holiest of holy grails on the right - "our troops" - to help increase opportunities in American society.
As much as I trust Graetz, I distrust Conley, who looks like a trickle-down wolf in progressive sheep's clothing to me. But his thoughts on fiscal policy for blue-state representatives are provocative.
Speaking of blue states, I heard a great line on last night's "Late, Late Show" from guest host D.L. Hughley, as he looked at the too-familiar bi-color map of our country: "Since when did America break down into the Crips and the Bloods?"
And speaking of provocative thoughts, The Times' William Safire is giving up his op-ed column in a couple of months. As much as I dislike his message these days, I'm not for shooting (or retiring) the messenger. I've been reading him calling the shots since Watergate, and his passage from the op-ed page is the loss of a voice of reason -- well, most of the time.
Here's an interesting photo of some of President Bush's Cabinet, perhaps together as a group for the last time.
My wife received a letter in the mail the other day from her obstetrician-gynecologist, Duncan R. Neilson, Jr. He was announcing that he's stepping down from practice at the end of the year to assume a leadership role in the Portland-based Legacy Health Systems hierarchy.
What a coup for Legacy, and what a loss for Dr. Neilson's patients. He is simply one of the best physicians on the planet. Without his care, guidance, and support, we would not have our two beautiful daughters. When we were ready to give up trying to have children, when things were their darkest (and believe me, they got very dark, on more than one occasion), he gave us hope. And the means to make the greatest things happen, eventually.
What do you want from a doctor? Knowledge? Wisdom? Experience? Strength? Steadiness? Attentiveness? Empathy? Frankness? Optimism? Professionalism? Warmth? Decency? Humility? Advocacy for your needs? We found no shortage of any of it in this man. (He is also a top-notch photographer, but that's a whole different post entirely.)
While we were in the hospital for the birth of our oldest, one of the veteran labor nurses referred to him (out of his earshot, of course) as "Saint Neilson." She was only half-kidding. The good doctor has earned the respect and admiration of many.
We wish Dr. Neilson the very best in his new position, but like so many of his patients and their partners, we will miss him enormously.
It's been nice that Portland's Rose Garden Arena has never had a corporate name attached to it. Unlike PGE Park, Safeco Field, Pac Bell Park, the Staples Center, etc., our largest sports and entertainment facility has always been owned by billionaire Paul Allen's organization, which has resisted the urges to (a) slap the name of one of its own concerns on the place or (b) take a check from the highest bidder for naming rights.
All that's about to change when, come the first of the year, the companies with the mortgage on the Rose Garden foreclose on it in bankruptcy and hire out its operation to an East Coast outfit that runs big venues all over. A new corporate name is a foregone conclusion.
Two big questions emerge, then:
1. Will the name "Rose Garden" still be part of the moniker, or will that get chucked entirely? If it's abandoned, too bad for the City of Roses, which will lose some free publicity for its nickname.
2. Which corporate appellation will be attached? Nike? Adidas? Reebok? Gatorade? Doritos? Intel? Boeing? Rogaine? Viagra?
The possibilities seem endless -- some delightful, some horrendous. I look to college football bowl games for some examples. Remember the Poulon-Weedeater Holiday Bowl? I've always wanted the McMenamin brothers to get involved with the Blazers. Hefeweizen Hall? If it turns out to be too corporate, expect Portland's leftists to come a-marchin' up from the Red and Black Cafe in protest (ironic, since those are also the Trail Blazers' colors). What do they want, Anarchists Arena next door to the Memorial Coliseum?
Just pray it isn't Aflac.
Dear Mayor-Elect Potter:
In your campaign, you didn't promise much specifically. But one thing you did say over and over was that you were going to make sure that the City of Portland started listening to its residents again. And you say you'll take over all city bureaus for a while as soon as you are sworn in, to be sure that the bureaucrats get that message.
I sure hope you're counting the Portland Development Commission in that group, because Houston, I believe we have a serious public process problem there.
The other day I wrote in this space about how the PDC is ramming through a new concept -- an "urban industrial renewal area" -- with only two months of public involvement. That's only about 10 percent of the year and a half of public comment that a new urban renewal area typically gets. Commentators like the League of Women Voters are up in arms. I share their concerns.
Then on the front page of the Metro section in yesterday's Oregonian, we find a story about another rush-rush PDC project -- a $7 million rehab of a building on MLK Boulevard. PDC originally bought the place for a grocery store, but now that that isn't going to happen (read: bad planning), it's hell-bent to try to turn it into a telephone "call center."
Some think the $7 million price tag is a ripoff, and that the public is being deprived of a full and fair look at the project before it is a done deal:
The project's estimated cost per square foot is twice that of comparable building rehabilitation projects, said Mike Warwick, co-chairman of the advisory committee, which signed off on the plan last week despite misgivings about missing details.Behind it all is Gerdling/Edlen Development, the outfit that's building the North Macadam Condo Tower Jungle and OHSU Tram Theme Park -- a favorite beneficiary of PDC pork. The structure of the MLK transaction is complicated enough to make one's head spin. And there seems to be an enormous amount of risk in the deal for PDC.
"There's a great deal of concern that the project is being used to serve other purposes than redevelopment on MLK," Warwick said. "We feel they're moving awfully fast and that there is a rush to make a decision."
So why the rush?
Chief Potter, as I understand it, you will eventually appoint all the commissioners on the PDC. The group that Mayor Katz has installed there looks a lot like a group that would have been assembled by former Mayor Goldschmidt. The PDC's chair and CEO are both long-time Goldschmidt lieutenants. They've appeared to be in bed with Gerdling/Edlen, and other contractors who have been making bundles of money on the backs of Portland taxpayers, for many years. That's the same Gerdling/Edlen, by the way, who gives many thousands of dollars in campaign funds to candidates in city elections -- money that you had too much integrity to take.
I think you should clean house at the PDC. But if you don't, can't or won't, at least derail the "fast track" mentality. Please sit down with these folks and have them put the industrial urban renewal area and the MLK proposal back on a normal track, subject to public scrutiny, right away. And tell them to stop rushing deals through. They're supposed to be planning experts -- why is everything an emergency?
PDC shouldn't stand for "Please Don't Comment." And if the leadership over there won't change its ways, please find us some commission members and a CEO who will. I'm sure the disgraced former governor can find all the current PDC face cards something else to do.
That Martha Stewart. Can you believe that she wants the shareholders of her company to pay her lawyer bills from her recent criminal trial?
When she gets out of jail, perhaps a psychiatric facility would be in order.
A while back I wrote about how the proposal for an "industrial urban renewal area" in North and Northwest Portland looked like a scam to me. I had just gotten a very odd brochure in the mail about it from the Portland Development Commission (motto: "We put the gold in Goldschmidt"), and I got the sense that a major backroom deal had already been made.
My concerns were increased when I read a story about the plan the other day in the Tribune. The lead of the story was how Zidell Marine, which is being moved out of its North Macadam location to make way for the Condo Tower Jungle and OHSU Tram Park, suddenly wants to move to land it owns in North Portland near the University of Portland. As part of the transfer, it wants a piece of the urban renewal pork pie.
That is strange. With all the planning that supposedly went into the North Macadam deal, nobody figured out where Zidell Marine was going to take its business, and jobs? The condo towers are already being built down there, and the city's still talking incentives with Zidell? That, folks, is the opposite of planning.
Buried lower in the Trib story is another eye opener. The PDC has put the urban renewal plan on a "fast track" -- a classically Goldschmidtean move -- because it's in a hurry to convince Siltronic Corp. to build a chip plant in industrial Northwest Portland instead of in Singapore.
So that explains the weird-looking map for the "industrial urban renewal" zone. Most of it's in North Portland, but there's a curious piece on the other side of the river, in Northwest. That must be Siltronic.
Siltronic is already in Northwest Portland, and its environmental record there seems less than good:
Siltronic's existing wafer plant has caused contamination at the site, the result of trichloroethylene leaking out of underground storage tanks and seeping under the river.Don't worry, PDC to the rescue. We'll spend a bunch of public money (including some that comes out of citywide property taxes) to clean up the site next door to Siltronic so that it can expand -- even before it takes care of the mess it's already made under its existing plant.
"We're still trying to get our arms around it," said Matt McClincy, a DEQ project manager.
I wonder who's doing the "consulting" for Siltronic on this deal. It smells awfully familiar.
In any event, I'm with the League of Women Voters, who thinks the "fast track" for this area is very misguided. The train ought to be put back on the regular track, where the public gets a legitimate chance to see and digest what is really going on (not just ogling some goofball brochure). Two months is not enough time for an honest and open examination of this proposal. Two years would be more like it.
We might lose the Siltronic expansion in the process. They might have to take their pollution to Singapore. So be it.
Mayor Tom, where are you on this one?
The Rose Garden Arena here in Portland will soon be under new ownership and management. The judge overseeing the bankruptcy of billionaire Paul Allen's Oregon Arena Corp. has approved a plan that will transfer ownership to the financiers (mostly the TIAA-CREF teachers' pension fund) that hold the $193 million mortgage on the building.
According to the bankruptcy proceeding, the facility is now worth $61.3 million. Which means that Allen must have blown tens of millions of his own money and tens of millions of the mortgage holders' money in the way he ran the place. The new owners have hired a Philadelphia-based outfit called Global Spectacor (Global Spectator?) to run the facility, which is home to Allen's Portland Trail Blazers basketball team and other big-venue events.
It will be interesting indeed to see how the place changes with someone other than the Blazers owning it. At least at first blush, it might help the arena's image with Portlanders who are disgusted with Allen's irresponsible antics. When I drive by there now, around a dozen times a week, I look at it and think "Huh -- why would I want to go here and put more money in Paul Allen's pocket?" Now I'll think, "I should go to an event here. It helps my pension fund."
Meanwhile, the city has failed in its quixotic bid to get money from the estate of McDonald's heiress Joan Kroc to fix up the Memorial Coliseum (next door to he Rose Garden) as a giant toney recreation center. Commissioner Erik "Grampy's Favorite" Sten admits that the Kroc foundation's rejection of Portland's proposal (Salem is still in the running) means there won't be a recreation center at the Coliseum any time soon.
I agree with the Kroc folks that Portland isn't its kind of place, and a facility like the Coliseum isn't its kind of building. It's back to drawing board for the city. Talk of a big box retail store or a convention hotel continues to resurface.
I don't think the retail idea is going to work. Any shopper going to that store would always have to worry about the Rose Garden traffic. As for a hotel, which our faithful reader Hilsy has advocated, that's a different story. Give it a big underground garage; that along with all the Tri-Met and Max in the area should make it feasible.
UPDATE, 10:11 p.m.: Apparently the new hired manager is something called Global Spectrum, and it's part of an outfit known as Comcast-Spectacor. That's as in, the same folks who provide my home internet service, I think.
My favorite Portland city commissioner, Randy Leonard, is showing his "progressive" side these days. Now he's championing the city's withdrawal from the federal government's Joint Terrorism Task Force -- a position that is calling down the ire of conservatives around the city.
Some see politics on Leonard's agenda, of course. Portland is one of the lefty-est cities in the country right now, so much so that it singlehandedly puts Oregon in the blue column. And it just elected (1) a mayor who as police chief stood up for gay rights before it became routine (even here) and (2) an openly gay city commissioner. Although his core constituency has always been straight white guys, Leonard's move could be seen as an overture to some of the many voters who might not readly cast him as a defender of civil liberties.
What's the downside? Well, just as Democrats across America are incensed at the dominance of the Republican Party on the national front, neocons (and some neanderthals) in Portland are frustrated at the far-left ways of our local government. And they can be every bit as vocal in their nastiness as a sore-loser Democrat, especially now that most value-driven Republican families finally have their first dial-up AOL account, LOL. And so Leonard's e-mail inboxes, and his office and home voice mailboxes, are apparently getting some pretty hateful stuff in them lately. (Apparently the trigger was a Leonard appearance on the Lars show, in which he aired his proposal to have the city tax cell phone companies the same it way it taxes land phone companies.)
The Commish is fighting back. Now there's a story on the wire about a bitter e-mail exchange between Leonard and Lars Larson, the Talk Show Host That Right-Thinking Portlanders Love to Hate. Leonard's complaining that Larson's egging on the kooks who are sending him the ugly messages. Larson's saying he's not responsible for the kooks, and implying that Leonard's losing touch with a segment of his constituency.
Having had e-mail exchanges with both men, and having had some farly wicked stuff sent my way as a result of this blog from time to time, I hope they'll patch up their differences. Although it's amusing to watch them get all catty with each other, it's not particularly good for the community.
The Port of Astoria is going to lease out some land near Warrenton, where the Skipanon River meets the mighty Columbia, for a liquefied natural gas terminal. Construction is said to promise employment for 500 people, and there would be 75 jobs at the plant once it opens.
The lease is for a big fat $38,400 a year, for acreage right on the Columbia. (Zoom out one on the Mapquest map to see the confluence of the two rivers.) That's $3200 a month. And the gas company, out of California, wants two 30-year renewal options, for a 65-year deal overall.
I suspect this project will spark lots of controversy before it gets all the necessary approvals. Jobs vs. tourism and the environment, Round 2,836,794.
I can't imagine that a liquefied gas terminal and accompanying pipelines are going to look too purty. Then again, there are several un-purty thangs about the waterfront down there that once upon a time put food on the tables of a lot of folks.
Cue up Led Zeppelin's "Communication Breakdown." Suddenly and without warning, my e-mail inbox started bouncing messages this morning while I was asleep. I didn't discover it 'til late morning.
If you were trying to reach me by e-mail during that period, please try again.
Aren't computers wonderful?
Me: Honey, are you asleep? You won't believe it! Bush won, then Gore won, then Bush won again!
She: My labor just started.
Well, it's great to see that the City of Portland is flush with cash. I guess the days of tight budgets for our local government must be over.
How else do you explain the four-color, 22-by-17-inch brochure that arrived at our house the other day from the Water Bureau? It explains in great detail the wonders of the current sewer improvement project that's going to help keep the untreated human waste out of the Willamette River -- even if it means the highest residential sewer bills in the world.
This flyer is a real work of art. We hired artists, photographers, graphic designers, copy writers -- and there's even an invitation to view a 17-minute movie narrated by Walter Cronkite about the river's "return to glory!"
And of course there's the lovely quarter-page message from City Commissioner Dan Saltzman, who oversees all these wonders. He took time out from his busy schedule of rigging bids on eBay and making a mockery of public process to take credit for the project and show us his bar mitzvah picture again.
I'm sure we'll be seeing a lot of that shot in his campaign literature when he's up for re-election. But before Homer Williams and Gerdling-Edlin start paying for the campaign ads, I guess it's only appropriate that the taxpayers pay for the pre-campaign. Or maybe it's a coincidence that this thing went in the mail the day after the election.
Hey, Mayor Potter! Is this our fresh, new direction?
Here's a site where you can apologize to the rest of the world for re-electing Bush.
I always carry a lot of anger. Enough for two or three people, at least. Over the last decade or so, I've had a lot of help working on it. From family. From shrinks. From preachers. Part of it's good -- it makes me funny. Most of it isn't.
There are several reasons for my being as inherently angry as I am. (Nothing to blog about.) And when anger comes out of me, I've learned to pay close attention.
One thing I've tried really hard to do as I get older is to stop directing the anger at the wrong objects, and to try to understand the real causes. I don't always succeed in putting my finger on them, but at least I figure out pretty quickly that most of the immediate triggers of the recurring storm of negative feelings aren't really the causes.
So as I pass through the Rage of the Bush Re-election, I've been asking myself some questions. Why am I so upset? Because Kerry lost? Actually, no, that was just the trigger. From the outset, I said he couldn't win, and I was right.
What I'm angry with are the political parties -- both of them -- and especially with George Bush and Dick Cheney. I despise what they're doing to this country. Words cannot describe the rage. Not so much with Iraq (although that is such a sick joke) as with what's happened within our borders. The police state. The "ownership society." The social injustice. The fiscal bankruptcy. The hypocritical Bible-thumping. The mindf*cking. The apathy toward all of the above.
For the last several months, all of that anger had been pushed down. As with most elections, by the end of the campaign I had channeled that white heat into advocacy for a candidate, and fervent hope for an outcome. It was a relatively constructive channel for those months.
But that stagecoach turned into a pumpkin at 10 p.m. PST on Tuesday, when Ohio was called for Bush. Suddenly there's no positive way to translate the revulsion I feel for what we as a country are becoming. There's nothing to work for, not for quite a while. And there's nowhere to escape.
And so it is that several months' worth of repressed anger emerges. Am I mad that Bush won? No. I'm mad that he exists.
Good grief. You know, as angry and nasty as I've been for the last 48 hours, all of a sudden the election doesn't matter so much.
She's in my thoughts and prayers.
UPDATE, 11:30 p.m.: Turns out, Chuck Sheketoff said almost the exact same thing here.
And Rozanne's got a couple of great gift ideas already.
Leave it to Hasser.
UPDATE, 11:55 a.m.: It's a joke!
Now that it's lost the White House (again), Congress (again), and most of the population across the country, why won't the Democratic Party (of which I am a member) come to the middle?
For the second straight election, the strategy was, "Stick to the party line. Just get the faithful to the polls. If we get the turnout, we'll win." And again, it obviously didn't work. Even with a record turnout this time. "The cell phone crowd and the college kids will pull it out for us." Didn't happen. Too many young Republicans.
Why do the Democrats nominate a guy like John Kerry, the ultimate Wooden Massachusetts Liberal? Next time, will it be Hillary Clinton, who will scare even some of this year's blue states into red?
The party needs to come to the middle. Now. Geographically as well as ideologically. It may lose some of the Naderites and Greens, but if it picked up a few states in the Midwest and Southwest, it would be well worth the disruption. And on the national level, how much worse can things get for the Democrats than where we are right now?
Get Teddy Kennedy into a retirement community. Banish Al Sharpton. Send Kucinich on an all-expenses-paid around-the-world goodwill tour. One that lasts indefinitely.
Howard Dean as party chair? Give me a break! At least let's have somebody like Gephardt or Edwards, who stands a chance of bringing back some of the middle-class working people. Let's face it, the swing voters don't like gays, foreigners, abortions, taxes, or lawyers, and they love their guns. Start talking to them, or keep losing.
I'm tired of losing. It's the responsibility of the party to nominate candidates and espouse views that are going to win the crucial elections.
Yes, it's being the lesser of two evils, and just evil enough to prevail.
Why can't the Democratic Party figure that out any more?
Move the party headquarters to Kansas City. Immediately. I'm serious.
"Let's all come together, people." That's what most of the smug right-wing bloggers are saying today. "Tsk, tsk, if you're mad, you're so immature.
"You lost, lefties. Grow up and deal with it. We're going to continue to be an isolationist, war-making nation, and at home your civil rights are going to be sacrificed for the 'war on terra.' Abortion is going to be illegal, dissent is going to be repressed, and the wealthiest among us are going to get even wealthier at the expense of you, the poor and the middle class. It's what the majority wants. So put aside your petty differences and get behind George W. Bush."
As if there were even a slight chance of that happening. The last time I looked at the map, it said "America," a place that isn't going to accept this kind of "leadership" without a fight.
People are furious, and they're going to get more furious. The next four years are going to make the late '60s look like the Age of Aquarius by comparison. The Great Uniter is going to see how United he's not making us. I don't condone angry outbursts, but I know in my heart they are going to happen, again and again. And I fully understand the emotions of the people who are going to vent.
Come to think of it, it's time for a little civil disobedience of my own. I'm taking down all the links to the political pundits (most of them neocons) that I've been carrying on my blogroll. They get enough traffic from their own true believers. They don't need any more from me.
The latest I've seen is that Oregon Measure 35 (your lifetime of excruciating pain and impotence = $500,000 to an insurance company) is being narrowly defeated.
Anybody got any different news on that?
Nobody seems to want those elective positions too much, but given what's been done with them lately, it's probably a good thing to move folks along on a regular basis.
Not only has he apparently beat the flip-flopper, he has also waged a successful battle against Flipper.
We Oregon Democrats, licking our wounds and getting out our picket-sign-making kits for a long four years, can at least take comfort in yesterday's state legislative elections. The State Senate will be controlled by the Democrats, and the Republicans' voting margin in the Oregon House will be much smaller.
At least it's something.
Unless the Oregon Supreme Court tosses it again, Measure 37 is going to make a real mess of state and local government. At least we'll have a somewhat more enlightened crew presiding over the massive (and ultimately futile) job of trying to cope with it.
KGW just called it for Sam Adams. If they're right, it's too bad. Homer Williams will still call the shots at Portland City Hall. Look for more high-rise, and high-priced, monstrosities out of that crowd.
Could Edwards have turned a few of the red states into blue? Maybe we'll find out next time, although I fear we'll see Hillary go down to a big defeat.
Man, we are in for a wicked four years ahead, folks. I hate to say it, but there's going to be a lot of bloodshed involving Americans abroad, and a lot of marching in the streets. You don't even want to think about what's going to happen to the Supreme Court. John Ashcroft will have a tracking chip under your skin and a camera in your bedroom. And Corporate America will grind more and more middle-class people under its well-callused heel.
Time to hunker down -- and I mean, way down.
The Chimp took Florida. And so now JFK probably needs an upper Midwest sweep to take it, which seems unlikely. If he loses Ohio, it's over.
UPDATE, 10:00 p.m.: It's over. Bush took Ohio.
Congratulations to Mayor-Elect Tom Potter!
I hear the exit polls are showing good news for Kerry. Let's hope they hold!
...we'll know who the next President is.
And if we don't, I think I'll go up to Canada, get a flu shot, smoke a Cuban cigar, and decide whether I want to come back.