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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on August 8, 2006 9:25 PM. The previous post in this blog was Surprise. The next post in this blog is Blackout Week continues. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.



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E-mail, Feeds, 'n' Stuff

Tuesday, August 8, 2006

Notes from all over

Now yer talkin'! This blog is ready for its own travel section! By coincidence, the following two e-mail dispatches came in from two different readers, within minutes of each other:

I'm in New Orleans and there is a WiFi cloud over the French Quarter and the Central Business District. There's not garbage pickup, mail delivery, traffic signs/lights, etc. But they have the wifi cloud! It's kind of a scary look into Portland's future.

I am on the road this week down in Ca, and driving down from Santa Barbara tonight they reported on the radio a story that there was just a study completed this week on the City of San Diego's finances, and they called it a "culture of corruption" that rivaled Enron.

I'm with ya, people.

Comments (1)

The City of San Diego pension battle is not between corrupt and not corrupt but between alternative choices that are each corrupt.

I link to a recent article by Mary Williams Walsh for NYT, here:
"Public Employee Pension Schemes -- Hum? -- 800 Billion Dollar Bonding Opportunity To Forward Immediately Back To Wall Street"

Mary does a good job explaining the issues, without really taking sides.

I see it as a scheme that has as it's central role that of delivering dollars to the Wall Street Movers and Shakers who would think highly of the skill of JP Morgan or Micheal Milken, with the aid of folks like The Unwitting Joker Of Portland.

Posted by: Ron Ledbury at August 8, 2006 10:14 PM

I did my blogging fom the French Quarter --and I was in the heart of it-- using the free wi-fi of Napolean's Itch, a bar around the corner from my hotel, which I could tap into from my bed. The other available wi-fi was the hotel's. There was no city-owned wi-fi cloud that my PC showed as available.

That said, I think the point remains that we need to be clear on our priorities, and if businesses like Napolean's Itch can provide a "public" benefit, yeah, let's have the City concentrate on core responsibilities first.

Posted by: Frank Dufay at August 8, 2006 11:18 PM

A wi-fi cloud is a hell of a lot cheaper and easier to set up than any of those other things are. If a city's telecom infrastructure is mostly fried, a wireless mesh network is probably the cheapest and simplest way to get some telecom services back in action over a large area. It'll get done months before anyone can pull new wire.

Besides, NOLA already had the infrastructure in place for the city government's own use... they just opened it up to everyone after Katrina. More info at Red Herring.

Wireless is not just about coffee shops and the creative class, and NOLA's example doesn't tell us much about what Portland's experience might be like. (Except in terms of disaster preparedness, where it's an interesting point in favor of citywide wireless.)

Posted by: Alan DeWitt at August 8, 2006 11:20 PM

NOLA's example doesn't tell us much about what Portland's experience might be like. (Except in terms of disaster preparedness...

One thing that NOLA's example tells us is that people without cars, who depended on mass transit, largely couldn't flee...and many died.

I'd hate to think that here in Portland we're encouraging people to get rid of their cars...and then leave their fates, in an emergency, to Tri-Met.

Posted by: Frank Dufay at August 8, 2006 11:47 PM

I just came back from a visit to New Orleans, and I can assure you that in the French Quarter and the CBD, they do in fact have garbage pickup, mail delivery, and traffic lights and signs.

Posted by: AL at August 9, 2006 06:41 AM

"One thing that NOLA's example tells us is that people without cars, who depended on mass transit, largely couldn't flee...and many died."

The big hazard for Portland is earthquake. So unlike NOLA, we'll get no chance to evacuate before the infratructure damage is done. How many bridges will survive an 8.0?

On the other hand, evacuation may not be as urgent afterwords, because people are unlikely to find themselves in 15 feet of water the next day. (Unless Bonneville dam collapses, in which case we're pretty much screwed anyway.)

One way or another, car ownership rates are probably not gonna make a huge impact.

Posted by: Alan DeWitt at August 9, 2006 08:12 AM

Hey, if the city here floods, they can use the tram [rimshot] to evacuate people above the water line!

(Sorry, couldn't resist...)

Posted by: Jon at August 9, 2006 10:22 AM

Ron & Jack

I think this is what they are talking about and not pensions.

I think the radio report was about leaks from this report that will presented this week to the SD council that is not already being tried.

Posted by: Ca Dreaming at August 9, 2006 10:59 AM

Al -- I'm sure things are much improved, but my hubby took this picture
in the NOLA CBD just a day ago.

if you click on the picture you'll get a full-screen view of it. Now, I agree, a strict constructionist *could* call that a traffic light. But...

It's interesting what a different view you can get of a place, depending on which street you turn down. Frank is a relentless destroyer of shoe-leather when he travels. He rarely skips a single street. Normally I go with him, and I have an extensive experience of blisters and swollen knees to prove my devotion :-)

This time I am scrubbing floors and supervising teenagers at home. Much less physically demanding than traveling with Frank...

Posted by: Anne Dufay at August 9, 2006 12:05 PM

I just came back from a visit to New Orleans, and I can assure you that in the French Quarter and the CBD, they do in fact have garbage pickup, mail delivery, and traffic lights and signs.

Gotta wonder where you were, AL. You think all those many CBD intersections were meant to have four way stop signs in the street, traffic signal lights simply flashing red? And, yeah, there were a lot of streetlights...lying on the ground. I don't know if you walked the CBD or not, but you notice a lot of stuff from the sidewalk you don't necessarily catch while driving. Like I say, my observations are a snapshot --and superficial-- but as much as the CBD may have improved, its a far, far cry from "together". Forget the traffic signal on the picture my wife references...notice the streetlights in the background are, well, poles missing their streetlights? And fully a third of New Orleans still lacks mail service...but then it also lacks people, housing, and functioning infrastructure.

I want to encourage tourism to New Orleans; but the government --at all levels-- needs to be held accountable for its abysmal failure here to do right by its citizens.

Posted by: Frank Dufay at August 9, 2006 02:32 PM

The Auditor's report on San Diego was in the local papers today, it was reported to Council yesterday.

Its all the Staff's fault, ever wonder why there is a mass exodous of financial folks from County, City, Portland public schools.

Posted by: Ca Dreaming at August 9, 2006 08:52 PM

Yes, Frank, I *walked* the CBD and the French Quarter, and saw the functioning streetlights with my own eyes. You exaggerate. The outlying neighborhoods are where most of the problems lie; the French Quarter and the CBD are fine, and are open for business.

I'm not sure what is motivating your exaggeration of the "non-functioning" traffic signals, Frank. You make it sound as if it were a third world country.

New Orleans is open for business; Chef Mike at NOLA asked me to tell y'all that. So please, everyone, don't be put off by Frank's doom-and-gloom portrayal of New Orleans. They need our support and our tourist dollars. We spent a lot of cash on some nice dinners, bought some art, and had a great time.

Posted by: AL at August 9, 2006 09:52 PM

You exaggerate. The outlying neighborhoods are where most of the problems lie; the French Quarter and the CBD are fine, and are open for business.

Well, one man's "fine" is another man's something else, I guess. I, too, ate at NOLA and at K-Paul's around the corner. But Commander's Palace for brunch? Still not re-opened. Antoine's? Uh-uh. The Satchmo Jazz Fest was moved to the street next to the French Market because its usual venue in the French Quarter, the old US Mint, remains unusable. Anyway, intent isn't to portray New Orleans other then how I was priviliged to experience it.

I most certainly encourage one and all to visit --and give support-- to this city. But I also think if we're too quick to say everything's "fine" when it's not, this city will fall off people's radar screens as needing immediate, continued, and focused attention. And that doesn't serve the interests of the 180,000 or so folks who haven't been able to return to their their still devasted "outlying neighborhoods."

Posted by: Frank Dufay at August 10, 2006 05:27 AM

Ca Dreaming,

An essential element in this logic of corrupt culture is the distortion of the motivations of the federal level folks that have a mandate to protect locals from corrupt local officials, and to opportunistically join in the party for their political cut of the take from the locals. [Extended remarks.]

Will City Attorney Michael Aguirre, and his connected wife, favor the issuance of pension bonds, with the proceeds invested in far, far away places?

Posted by: Ron Ledbury at August 10, 2006 09:23 AM

Alan writes>>>On the other hand, evacuation may not be as urgent afterwords, because people are unlikely to find themselves in 15 feet of water the next day.

Alan writes>>>On the other hand, evacuation may not be as urgent afterwords, because people are unlikely to find themselves in 15 feet of water the next day.

Thousands, probably many thousands of people will be homeless. Those of us lucky eastside folks on bedrock may have our homes, but will likely be without water, electricity or gas. There may be fires. Access to medical personnel, and supplies will be very limited, to say the least.

Folks with elderly, young or ill family members will be the most anxious to leave. As after the San Fran "big one" many folks -- who CAN -- will doubtless choose to go elsewhere -- ASAP -- till basic services are restored and they have a safe place to lay their heads.

All transportation options not crushed in the quake will be critical. Bikes even, but you cannot fit granny, three kids, a dog, two cats, a goldfish and yourself and spouse or partner or friend, onto a bike.

Some will choose to stay, and volunteer themselves and their vehicles to help transport the injured and sick to whatever facilities still stand, take food to shelters, and plywood for emergency repairs against the rain (there is no guarantee this will happen during balmy summer weather), and on and on.

Other enterprising souls will set themselves up in the "taxi" business -- taking residents of the SW Hills (whose houses and cars have been demolished) to Sun River or beyond. For a tidy sum. Of course.

Posted by: Anne Dufay at August 10, 2006 12:04 PM

[Posted as indicated; restored later.]


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