Entertainer of the Year
If you ever see that this Portlander is playing somewhere nearby, run, don't walk, to catch his act. It's world class.
|For old times' sake|
The bojack bumper sticker -- only $1.50!
To order, click here.
If you ever see that this Portlander is playing somewhere nearby, run, don't walk, to catch his act. It's world class.
Here's an Oregon teen who believes in diversity. (The oil was a nice touch.)
Who epitomizes the "spirit of Portland"? That's the question the city government's currently asking, as it prepares to present its 2006 awards of the same name. Nominations are open now, and they close on October 27.
Here's some of the official announcement:
Awards will be given this year for Humanitarian, Independent Spirit, Community Harmony, Large Business, Small Business, Non-Profit Organization, Neighborhood of the Year, Outstanding Partnership, Employee Volunteer, and Youth Volunteer of the Year.This is a "neighborhood involvement" deal, and so expect your neighborhood association types to be the frontrunners. But that's not to say someone from a different sphere couldn't take a prize home. Speak now or hold your peace for another year.
The selection committee -- comprised of representatives from the Mayor's and City Commissioners' Offices, the Office of Neighborhood Involvement, each Neighborhood District Office, and past award winners -- will determine the winners from among the nominees by evaluating them in each of the following five categories:
- Assistance with implementing outstanding projects
- Enrichment and revitalization of our community and neighborhoods
- Provision of a special service to citizens
- Demonstration of overwhelming responsiveness, creativity and civic values
- Raising cross-cultural awareness
Sometime in the next couple of days, I'm going to read and grade a guy's term paper.
Ashamed? Me too.
A reader writes:
I am fairly active in my Piedmont Neighborhood Association. Yesterday, Dan Saltzman met with us to discuss his decision to push for renaming a stretch of Portland Blvd (from MLK to Willamette) Rosa Parks Way. This has been pretty controversial for us, and many neighbors feel that it's being shoved down our throats and curiously, in an election year. I asked Dan what the cost would be to change all the street signs, the Interstate signage, reprinting public documents, and all the other tasks involved. He replied that no one had studied the costs, but stated that it should be between $12,000-20,000. Judging from what it costs to get public projects built, does that price range seem ridiculously low? Many of our neighbors think the money would be better spent on projects that would be less symbolic but more effective at helping disadvantaged citizens. What's your take on this?Off the top of my head, I'm thinking the same way the reader is. What's your take?
Among the things you can no longer get in downtown Portland: Unemployment compensation.
Here's a shot from a happier, simpler time. Hit it, fellas.
KGW's got a story up about how no one informed Portland Mayor Tom Potter of the police killing of unarmed civilian Jim Chasse on Sep. 17 until after the medical examiner's report on Chasse's death was released last Friday, Sep. 22. The mayor was on vacation in Germany that whole week. (As mayor, Potter runs the Police Bureau.)
Potter's says he's unhappy with the decision by his staff, and I can see why. Charges of police brutality had been filed and reported in The Oregonian on the night of Wednesday the 20th. What was his staff thinking at that point? This isn't important? "On Friday when the medical examiner's report came back and the cause of death was not what we anticipated, we made the decision to call the mayor at that time." Had they thought that the medical examiner was going to find drugs in Chasse's system, and that this could be used to downplay the entire incident? If so, they thought wrong.
I'm curious, however, as to why Potter, whose every word on this incident will be carefully crafted, is now talking about the staff notification issue to the media. It's a somewhat interesting sideshow, but a sideshow nonetheless.
It remains to be seen what, if anything, the mayor is going to be able to do to wipe out the mean streak that runs through the Police Bureau. Word on the street is that he's afraid to take on the police officers' union. I hope that isn't true.
You wouldn't know it from the mainstream media, but there's still a Multnomah County commissioner position up for grabs in the November election, and the runoff is between Jeff Cogen and Lew Frederick.
Back in the spring, when Diane Linn was still nominally in the running to stay on as county chair, this race had a different look from what it has now. Now it's clear that Ted Wheeler is going to be running the county board, and to me Cogen (left) looks just like Wheeler. More representation for the West Hills moneybag crowd. Plus, given how little I think of the performance of Cogen's former boss, Dan Saltzman, as a Portland city commissioner, it would be really hard for me to say I want him representing me on the county board.
Frederick does not come across as a real ball of fire as a candidate, either. He's not a highly skilled politician. But his supporters tell me that's one of the best reasons to vote for him. One writes:
I learn more about Lew's values and goals every time I hear him speak. He brings perspective and depth. He talks about issues like he cares about them, from the perspective of someone who actually knows from life experience rather than having just heard about social problems. Reading about high school dropouts in a report is one thing. Hosting a group for kids in your home every week for five years, one month per student group, is doing something about it. And it was doing the most he could, with the resources available to him. He hasn't been in a position to help run the Children's Fund, for example -- but he would do a great job if he were elected and helped oversee it, because he knows where and how the money can be spent best.I like what I'm reading here.
And since I've been volunteering with his campaign, I'm even more impressed. He's definitely not a showman despite his years on TV and as a spokesperson -- there, he was scripted, in real life he's thoughtful and has broad knowledge and experience that's difficult to can into 30-second soundbites. He listens and has conversations, even during the campaign, instead of giving pat responses.
One issue that the two candidates ought to be talking about front and center these days is the county's rickety mental health service "system" (if it can be called that). Here in Portland, we just had the police kill an unarmed schizophrenic man, Jim Chasse, who was guilty of "looking strange," and the initial reaction from City Hall has been to deflect criticism of the police with, "We need to start a conversation about mental health."
The ensuing, deafening silence from Wheeler on this subject has been a disappointment, and we don't need the same from the new commissioner. There are still a few weeks before this one is decided. Let's hear what Cogen and Frederick have to say about Chasse and the larger issues raised by his death in Portland's "open air mental health treatment" program.
Drop what you're doing. You absolutely have to read this: a Q&A between Randy Gragg of The Oregonian and Pearl District developer Bob Gerding. It's another truly memorable piece of journalism -- so patently sycophantic that it borders on the obscene.
The yuppification of the Portland Armory is all about the environment, you see:
The environmental ethic, the sustainability ethic began back then in a bigger way in the civic consciousness of such things as the Bottle Bill and the public beaches and the Oregon view, in general, of protecting and nurturing the environment -- of stewardship.This is the same hokum that Gragg was selling on Sunday. Now we see that it came straight from the developer's mouth. And we get to read it again. As if repetition will somehow make it true.
I hope it's a leading light for other arts organizations around the country, that the process we are starting will be a new model.God help us, no. The Gerding Theater has three possible outcomes: It will suck the life out of the Performing Arts Center (the way the Pearl District has sucked the life out of downtown in general); it will fail and require a taxpayer bailout; or both. Thanks, Bob, Vera, Sam, and Erik.
Fireman Randy sure is going all out on his new Mr. Green Jeans kick. Biodiesel this, biodiesel that -- what next, hemp uniforms for all the Water Bureau workers?
He gets all hot if you suggest that there's ever a political motivation for what he does, and I'm sure in this instance his motivations are relatively pure. But at the risk of incurring his wrath, I can, shall we say, see the shrewdness of his leadership moves in the alternative fuels arena. As the last municipal election showed, you need the backing of only two groups to stay in office in Portland -- the Bus kids and the government employee unions. Randy's already the representative of the latter, and with a few well placed lefty crusades like Canola Gas, he'll have the former sewed up, too.
"This is a beginning," he said at a recent greenie photo op. Of his re-election campaign, perhaps?
Now that Paul Allen's Brain Institute has produced a complete genetic map of a mouse brain, his researchers expect to turn their attention to the next smallest brain among mammals -- that of Trail Blazer forward Darius Miles.
Tony makes the scene at the second best baseball stadium in the world.
The Oregonian's occasional game of "Who had the pickle?" is always a fun read. They're constantly checking public officials' expense accounts while they ignore the much bigger scams in which our government leaders are often involved.
Today they came up with a big catch, though -- state legislators flying to Maui on lobbyists' dime and not reporting it as state law requires. The offenders' responses are pitiful.
It's become pretty clear that they're not just incompetent in the legislature. Some are crooks.
A frequent commenter on this blog, Frank Dufay, left an interesting post last night. It read in part:
The challenge is to do what's right in an environment where a hundred opinions each think they're right. Is Homer Williams "the City?" Nope. Melvin Mark? Nah. Steve Shoppe? Jack Bogdanski? Mr. T? Cynthia? Markdaman? Me?Nicely put. If I had to pick a slogan for this blog, at the moment at least, I'd go with "We are all the city."
We are ALL the City. THAT's the hard part to understand, as is figuring out how best to serve us all.
They're changing the access rules a bit at Portland City Hall. The entrance is changing back to the original Fourth Avenue side, starting Monday. And now, "[v]isitors to the building will pass by a security officer who will inquire about their destination and business while in the city buildings."
Already FBI operatives are practicing saying, "I'm here to see Sam Adams about my condo project." There'll be so many guys saying that, they'll blend right in. Another one: "I'm going up to see Randy and Tom's pensions."
This is so Rich Guy Portland. Positively Goldschmidtean.
There's a big furor over the medical examiner's autopsy finding that the death of Jim Chasse, who died in Portland police custody on Sep. 17, was "accidental." The Trib's all over it here, and b!X is pretty worked up about it, too.
What are the distinctions, in the medical examiner's rule book, among death by "accident," "homicide," and "legal intervention"? Particularly, between "accident" and "homicide"? Does it have to do with whether the death was caused by another person, as b!X states? Does it have to do with that person's intent, as the M.E.'s office vaguely implies?
It seems to me that there's often no way to determine either of those categories of facts from an autopsy -- intent in particular. And with broad-based blunt force trauma to the chest, which is listed as the cause of death here, what are the possibilities? That the broken ribs and internal bleeding occurred if and when Chasse "fell"? Or when the officers reportedly jumped on him, beat him, tasered him, and kicked him?
I think the medical examiner needs to get out of the business of making this call. Or at least, to be given the option to not make a call when the autopsy doesn't reveal a clear answer. Apparently, there's no way to conclude from this autopsy whether the officers or the supposed "fall" physically caused the injury, much less what was going on in the officers' minds. Certainly you can't conclude in the officers' favor at this point (although I suspect the official exoneration won't be far behind).
In any event, maybe Grampy needs to come home from Oktoberfest now.
It's time to wrap up our participation in Mayor Tom "Oktoberfest" Potter's "vision quest" survey. We've run the first three questions from the questionnaire here, here, and here. The last of the four is a followup on No. 3, and so we'll start here by refreshing your recollection about that one. It asked, "Imagine Portland 20 years in the future and all your hopes for the city have been realized. What is different? How is our city a better place?"
And so now here's No. 4 and Final. In addition to weighing in on the question posed, feel free to comment on this strategic planning process generally:
This is a spooky time in history. It’s one thing for tyrannical regimes like the old Soviet Union and Communist China to bulldoze the very idea of human rights and human decency by engaging in such atrocities as detention without trial, torture and other forms of state terror. It’s something else completely when the United States, the greatest symbol of liberty that the world has ever known, begins to head down that hellish road.Bob, you must be kidding.
Almost 5 o'clock -- time for today's Government Statement to the Media That it Would Rather Not Make. Today, Portland Police Chief Sizer is apparently going to say something about the James Chasse case. Too late for tomorrow's Trib, eh? Maybe even too late for WW...
UPDATE, 4:59 p.m.: Nick Budnick at LocalNewsDaily.com has a pretty definitive story.
Condo towers rising
Rise rise rise
Condo prices falling
Fall fall fall
City Council gambling
Bet bet bet
Gag gag gag
Condo towers rising
Rise rise rise
A reader sends along this e-mail message, which he says he received from Portland Commissioner Dan Saltzman's office regarding the city's proposed "divestiture" of valuable real estate in Mount Tabor Park:
Thank you for the message ***. We received your voice mail as well and I'll follow this email up with a call. This is an important issue and we need to keep the lines of communication open. As always, feel free to contact me directly to discuss in more detail. Just a couple points I want to make sure your aware of.Got that? "[W]e'll be discussing this issue in much more detail as the process moves forward over the coming years." Translation: Get ready for the condos, folks.
1) The City Budget. I am attaching a link to the Capital Improvement Plan (CIP), Volume 3 of the 06-07 adopted City budget.
Please note the first Infrastructure Project on page 34, Parks Maintenance Facilities, 3.6 million (multi year commitment). Under Mayor Potter the public outreach and involvement in our city's budget has never been better and Parks has been clearly directed to look at replacing the Tabor maintenance yard and getting the facility plan mentioned in the budget note put together. It is obviously very early in the process for Parks to know where or even if the facility will move, but it does very publicly signal a change is in the works. No land has been put "on the market" or is currently up for sale. This needs to be clear.
2) Selling of land. You may be unaware but many important features and facilities in the park are on the National Register of Historic Places. Including buildings in the maintenance facility. This requires that any substantial changes to the park would require a Type 3 land use review. Providing the highest level of public participation and involvement Portland has. You can rest assured that the neighborhood, and city as a whole, will be closely engaged in the choices put forward for Council to consider.
Thanks to the work of great citizens who care for Mt. Tabor, a situation such as happened around reservoir 2 (the senior housing at the corner of 60th and Division) can not, and will not be repeated.
Thanks again *** and I know all of City Hall we'll be discussing this issue in much more detail as the process moves forward over the coming years.
Office of Commissioner Dan Saltzman
Portland Parks and Recreation Liaison
1221 SW 4th Room 230
Portland, OR 97204
Former President Clinton went on Fox News for an interview yesterday. As you might expect, it was no love fest.
When I was a college guy, we didn't have Post-It notes readily available. Too bad. They sure do come in handy for those things that you would otherwise forget:
It's Monday morning here in Portland, and if you're a weekday-only blog reader, there were a couple of stories over the weekend that you may wish to catch up or weigh in on. First, late Friday afternoon the medical examiner revealed that Jim Chasse, the mentally ill man who died in Portland police custody on Sep. 17, died from blunt trauma to his chest. Meaning that he may very well have been trampled (or beaten or kicked) to death by the police officers who pursued him on "strange behavior" and "suspicion of public urination." (Or maybe he just fell...) Astonishingly, the medical examiner has also already ruled the death an "accident," a conclusion about the officers' state of mind for which no evidence (not even the officers' own testimony) was cited. Oh well -- we've been warned about the "independence" of the medical examiner before. Our latest post on Chasse was here.
On Saturday we learned that the city has been holding secret talks with Warner Pacific College to sell the college a goodly chunk of Mount Tabor Park, and that there are proposals being circulated that would result in "divestiture" of other parts of the park as well. Another nasty slap to the face of the neighborhood by Big Pipe Saltzman, who made no friends on Mount Tabor with the reservoir cover fiasco. The post on this one is here.
In working on restoring the archives of this blog, tonight I came across this howler from October 2002. Opie's talking about the aerial tram [rim shot] and the overall infrastructure costs of the SoWhat district.
The number he throws around for the infrastructure costs: $70 million.
There's that genius they talk about.
Look who's shown up in our neck of the woods:
In the ever-expanding comics section of The Oregonian, Randy Gragg, the architects' apologist, today brings forth a three-part onanistic outpouring over the new Gerding Theater -- the multi-million-dollar monument to pretension currently being made out of Portland's once-funky old Armory in the Pearl District. It's recycled! It's sustainable! Salmon-friendly!
When the snake oil salesmen shout that loudly, check your wallet.
Meanwhile, over on the ever-contracting reality pages of the paper, we hear about the money side. That underachieving Portland theater troupe that borrowed a bunch of money, with the city's credit, on the premise that it would raise funds for the theater construction on its own? Well, golly, it's coming up a little short. But hang in there, taxpayers -- they'll raise enough to pay those loans off. They're "optimistic."
One thing I'll say for the Gerding Theater. It's in the right place. Built on a pretext while everybody winked, way in the red before it even opens, with the Family of Funds operating in the shadows and the city's taxpayers holding the bag -- how perfectly Pearl. I hope there's going to be a totem pole outside.
Here's an unusually clear security photo of a punk robbing a bank down in Tualatin yesterday afternoon. Somebody out there must know who he is.
A reader forwards this e-mail message, which if accurate, indicates that the city is planning to sell off a chunk of Mount Tabor Park in southeast Portland:
Thanks to all of you who came to the Mt Tabor Neighborhood Association (MTNA) meeting last night to hear Warner Pacific College's proposal to buy 7-9 acres of south Mt. Tabor Park for expansion of their campus that would include a regulation-sized soccer/softball field to be used for competitions, an indoor gym facility and a parking lot. Although Portland Parks and Recreation (PPR) at first said that they would not have a representative at the meeting, due to the insistence of the MTNA, Janet Bebb and Darlene Carlson did attend.
Some of the questions that were directed toward PPR included: whether or not the City is planning on disposing of more than just the Mt. Tabor Park maintenance yard (such as the nursery area between SE Harrison and Lincoln as well as the acreage above the maintenance yard); whether the City is planning on replacing the maintenance yard at another location; whether the City is planning on contracting out maintenance and the growing of nursery stock for parks and other City-owned sites and other pertinent questions.
The answer to most of the inquiries was that everything is in the discussion phase at this point, however, the City did indicate that feasibility studies have been done on some of the topics we broached such as contracting out maintenance and propagation.
Please note that Warner Pacific is planning on presenting at the South Tabor Neighborhood Association soon, so if you weren't able to attend last night's meeting, you can still have a chance to hear the proposal.
Please contact the South Tabor Neighborhood Association for more information. Their contact info is available from Southeast Uplift: 503.232.0010 Steve Hoyt: steve@...
The general discussion of the meeting, that was very well attended, seemed to indicate that the citizens do not want the City to sell the land and that they are expecting to have a full public process before any plans move forward. There was also general agreement that Warner Pacific College is a good fit for the neighborhood, but that even though the college president opened his remarks by saying that they may consider moving out of the neighborhood if they cannot expand, people were not inclined to accept their proposal. They were not interested in a long-term lease of the land.
Although nothing definitive was agreed upon, the City officials seemed to indicate that a number of types of land use processes would be triggered if the public land was to be disposed of. If the college was able to purchase the land, the zoning would change from "open space" to some other designation but no one seemed to be able to say exactly what that would be. The entire Mt. Tabor Park, including the maintenance yard and nursery, is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. (The reservoirs, that are also listed in the National Register of Historic Places, have their own boundary within the park.) The historic designation should trigger a Type III, the most rigorous land use process, should the City persist in moving ahead.
The college, as a non-profit organization, is a property-tax exempt organization that operates on their adjoining property with a conditional use permit. Their plans were to build 4 new buildings, but before they can do any expansion, they would need to complete a new master plan that would include some sort of public process.
Warner Pacific had invited a small group of neighbors, and members of the Mt. Tabor Neighborhood Association and apparently representatives from the parks department, to meet over the past year to discuss their proposal. Most members of the MTNA board were not aware of these meetings. The members of the board who attended the meetings said that they were representing themselves. This topic spawned an agenda item specifically to discuss the parameters of representation of the neighborhood by board members. This discussion will continue and may lead to a bylaw change.
I would like to thank all of you for your interest in our parks and their amenities, of course including the reservoirs. You are following in a tradition of civic involvement that has been essential in fostering Portland's reputation as a city of parks. The actual history of Portland's relationship with parks is surprising. City officials were hesitant to establish them due to a variety of issues, not the least being the reluctance to spend money on maintenance and to tie up taxable land. Political climates also had strong influences on voters' opinions about park levies.
After Portland's world fair, the Lewis and Clark Exposition of 1905, Portland boomed and the east side changed from rural homesteads to intensive development. The building of Mt. Tabor Reservoir 1 in 1894 established the land as a park, but the City was very slow to complete the land acquisitions. Most all of the parks at that time were on the more affluent west side. East side (helped by some west side) civic "push clubs" pressured the City to piece together what we call the park today. Mt. Tabor Park is nearly 200 acres and its real estate value is astronomical in these times. The "push clubs" of 100 years ago helped to establish our parks and our neighborhood associations today will have to safeguard their boundaries and maintenance as well as push for more parkland acquisitions. Parks become even more valuable for quality of life amenities as density development squeezes neighborhoods.
So, stay tuned to this another chapter in Mt. Tabor Park's ongoing story. I hope that you will drop our Mayor Potter, and the entire City Council a note (especially Commissioner Dan Saltzman who is in charge of parks, but the Water Bureau owns some of the land in the Maintenance Yard so Randy Leonard is involved. So is Sam Adams who will be involved with transportation issues that will materialize with a land use change and it wouldn't be fair to leave out Erik Sten, who started the reservoir replacement project).
The City is moving, like the national trend, toward more privatization of public resources, including park amenities, so the fact that they are interested in Warner Pacific College's proposal is not surprising.
Of major importance also, is to remind the City that we expect to be included in decisions from the beginning and once again the proposal to buy a part of Mt. Tabor Park got well underway, and would not still be public, if it were not for citizen activism.
Please feel free to forward this email and help spread the word about Mt. Tabor Park's potential changes. This fall, with two levies supporting open space on the November ballot, is a good time to voice your opinion about the importance of our parks, their acquisition and their maintenance.
Cascade Anderson Geller
Mt. Tabor Neighborhood, Southeast Portland
It's late Friday afternoon -- time for all the news that the government doesn't want you to see.
Here's the latest from the powers that be on the poor sap who was killed by the Portland police last Sunday: He died of blunt force trauma to the chest. The medical examiner says it was accidental. That's interesting, considering that so far, I haven't heard that anyone from that office was present when the officers were, ahem, "interacting" with the victim, Jim Jim Chasse.
And what were the officers so busy hassling this guy for? So far, all I've heard was "strange behavior" and "suspicion of public urination." He didn't go quietly, and when (or after) he fought with the police, according to one eyewitness, "an officer repeatedly kicked the man somewhere in the upper midsection of his body." Another unflattering eyewitness account (with photo) is here.
If the victim in this case were a person of color, there'd be a riot going on right now, or at least a very public inquest would be scheduled. If he were a rich man from the West HIlls, somebody in uniform would have lost a job by now. But he's a not-rich white guy with a history of mental illness. So I won't be surprised if this story slowly fades away -- sort of like the night they shot Squeaky to death.
UPDATE, 9/23, 8:02 a.m.: Maxine Bernstein at The O has more this morning. Apparently the trauma was contact with the ground -- either when Chasse "fell" (sure, he walked into a door) or when the police jumped on him. There are also some comments in the story from the medical examiner. The explanation of how this was an "accidental" death rather than a "homicide" is particularly noteworthy for its shallowness. Oh, and Potter's on vacation in Germany.
The sun's back out in Portland for the first weekend of fall. Lots of activities to choose from. You got your Polish Festival. You got your Pirate Festival. You got your AIDS Walk. There are all those farmers' markets still going. And of course the Saturday Market. Who knows what all else? So get out there!
Years ago, comedian George Carlin used to have a bit about drivers who hold up traffic by going far below the speed limit. Invariably, he pointed out, when you pulled up next to the offending vehicle, it was being driven by an old guy in a hat.
Nowadays, that car causing problems up ahead turns out to be driven by somebody talking on a cell phone. It never fails.
My favorite Oregon legislator and former partner, Greg Macpherson, has taken a keen interest in this question, now that the dangers of driving while under the influence of your phone have hit home to him -- literally. In his most recent newsletter, he writes:
On May 30, 2006, a Jeep Wrangler driven by an 18-year-old collided with a bicycle near Medford, causing the cyclist critical brain injuries. That event was notable to me for several reasons.I'd go further than Big Mac, and completely outlaw holding a cell phone while driving, the way California apparently has. Like many cell phone users, I've worked one while behind the wheel myself, and it's easy to see how dangerous it is, even if you get away with it.
First, the victim is a relative of my wife. Second, as a cyclist myself, I am concerned about the frequency of collisions between motor vehicles and bicycles. And finally, as a member of the Oregon House of Representatives for Lake Oswego and nearby areas, I have a responsibility to improve the safety of the traveling public.
The young driver of the Jeep in this case was turning left at a suburban intersection on a sunny afternoon. The cyclist was approaching the intersection. The Jeep driver cut the corner as he turned, striking the cyclist, who was without fault.
A witness reported that the Jeep’s brake lights did not come on before the collision. The young driver apparently did not see the cyclist and hit him with full force.
Why would anyone make such a mistake? In this case, the driver was talking to a friend on a cell phone. Telephone records show that the conversation had been going on for 7 minutes when the collision occurred.
There is mounting evidence that cell phone use impairs a motorist’s ability to drive safely. A recent study by the University of Utah concluded that a driver using a cell phone can be as dangerous as a drunk driver.
It’s well known that the young have more accidents than more experienced drivers. According to the National Safety Council, only 13 percent of drivers are under age 25, but those young drivers have 29 percent of all accidents. Any parent who has paid auto insurance premiums on a teenager understands that all too well.
It’s also apparent that young people today use cell phones a lot. As shown by this case, the combination of inexperience and cell phone use can be tragic, even lethal.
Oregon already has a system of provisional licensing for young drivers. Under a provisional license, for example, young drivers cannot carry young passengers who are not family members. That restriction recognizes the distraction created by conversations with friends.
But the friend need not be in the vehicle to create a distraction. And the technology that enables more than two cell phones to be connected at once expands the potential for distraction.
For the safety of all who use the public roadways, Oregon needs to prohibit the use of cell phones by young drivers until they have greater experience. Age 21, the same point at which we permit young adults to consume alcohol, would provide a boundary with some logic.
Some say the use of cell phones by all drivers should be restricted. Last week California enacted a requirement that drivers talking on cell phones must use a “hands-free” technology so the phone need not be held to the ear.
Such a restriction must balance the improvement in public safety against loss in efficiency for those who depend on a cell phone in their work. But that trade-off does not exist for young drivers, whose cell phone use is almost entirely social.
For more information and statistics related to cell phones and driving, visit the Insurance Information Institute website: http://www.iii.org/media/hottopics/insurance/cellphones/
While we're at it, we ought to outlaw operating a moving vehicle while eating (commonplace), reading (which I've seen more than once), or watching a video screen (which I even saw a Tri-Met bus driver doing once). Your car is a 3,000-pound bullet, people. Give it your undivided attention.
And don't look up at the aerial tram [rim shot].
There's a serious administrative reshuffling under way at the Portland Development Commission. A new diversity officer position is being created, and some other slots are being added and eliminated.
Hard to read what's going on based on just this initial report, but Fireman Randy's positive about it:
Commissioner Randy Leonard, a frequent critic of the PDC, said he has "felt like the entire community was blown off" by the agency recently. But Warner's moves, he said, show Warner is trying to respond to community concerns.It looks like progress to me as well.
As part of the academic life, I often receive in my various mailboxes what's known in the trade as a "call for papers." Some academic institution or scholarly journal is soliciting erudite writings for inclusion in a symposium on some esoteric topic or other. Sometimes they sound a little desperate; I get the feeling that the best collections are usually those assembled through private invitations, not through scattershot announcements.
Anyway, I just received a call for literary products of a different kind. Willamette Week is putting on another of its "Candidates Gone Wild" parties in advance of the upcoming elections, and it's sponsoring a political limerick contest as part of the festivities. The Double Dub has sent out a personal invitation to readers of this blog to submit entries.
Now here's an incentive to give it a shot: "Storm Large has agreed to read the finalists from stage on the night of the event and we will give the winner some nice prize." Storm Large, people! (Note to self: Find out who Storm Large is.)
As a participant in last spring's CGW, I can attest to the facts that it's a fun event, and that it helps shed light on the important choices that voters will be making. It's not without an agenda, however. Put together by WW and the kids at the Bus Project, CGW tends to reinforce the prevailing "progressive" political platform. The audience is packed with Stennian true believers, and it seems unlikely that any candidates whom the two sponsors are endorsing will emerge from the evening with any major scars. Meanwhile, candidates with whom they disagree may want to watch their backs.
Having said that, there's no reason not to get in on the hijinks. If you've got a political limerick, drop it in the comments here and we'll pass it on to the powers that be at Pulitzer Central. It doesn't have to be about the November races -- any topic will do, so long as your submission has to do with public affairs in Oregon. And the more wickedly funny, the better.
Here's one to get you started:
Like I say, it's just a warmup. You work on yours, I'll work on mine.
Although our nation now stands for pre-emptive invasion, torture, and rendition, many of us still believe that ultimately, war is not the answer.
And this time, it's all about prescription drugs. Look out, America!
Here's a guy who really can't help himself.
Now that the SoWhat district has made traffic on Macadam Avenue impossible, guess what we need next.
Of course! Run the Portland Streetcar to Lake Oswego!
Rick Saito, a planner who serves as vice chair of the Metro group [studying L.O.'s traffic problems], represents Foothills landowners in their efforts to redevelop the area around a Lake Oswego streetcar stop.
Bye bye, tens of millions of tax dollars! Have a nice ride.
Crikey, those babies look like good-sized Christmas trees.
He committed no crime in that hotel room. He's sorry, and he's been "look[ing] at his life circumstance," according to his lawyer, Steve Houze. Oh, and somebody tried to extort money from him as part of this incident -- that's an important fact, apparently. As for the Blazers, they're "undertaking appropriate steps to work with Zach and his representatives to ensure that he understands the expectations for conduct by all our players as representatives of this team and our city."
That's it for Jail Blazer news.
And as usual, he's at no loss for words:
all joking aside, my mom raised two kids alone while working long hours in a sexist racist society where she saw her peers get promotions despite she being the one who trained them. never one to hold a grudge, my mother would sometimes tell us about her trials and then sigh and tell us that if we ever succumed to the inequities of life and gave up that she would hunt us down and beat the hell out of us. she reminded us that our ancestors did not work hard so that we spoiled suburban brats could bitch about our menial issues.The whole sweet thing is here. And in this case, I don't believe his blog motto, "nothing in here is true."
Don't forget the 13th annual Polish Festival, to be held this weekend on the grounds of St. Stanislaus Church over in North Portland. Stop by Saturday or Sunday for some authentic Polish food, drink, music, dance, and a friendly Jak sie masz. (Looks like they're going to 10 on Saturday night.) And check out the beautiful old parish buildings -- an example of middle-class Portland at its finest. Give me that over the condo towers any day.
It's right on the Interstate MAX line, and this is one of the few reasons I could ever think of for using that line. After a couple of Polish beers, you'll be glad you took the train.
"Fully realizing the potential of the North Macadam area in no way precludes or diminishes the work we are also doing to improve neighborhoods in Cully or Lents or anywhere else in Portland," Potter responded.And our local Pulitzer winner rattles it all back, fairly uncritically. Oh, he quotes some of the critics, but the final score is 75 SoWhat Good to 25 SoWhat Bad.
He adds that the greenway, parks and other public investments will benefit all Portlanders.
"Redeveloping this area helps reclaim our riverfront for everyone," Potter says.
Especially galling is the assertion that the OHSU aerial tram [rim shot] -- the biggest waste of money in Oregon history -- is now "irrelevant." Yeah, like Osama Bin Laden.
Hey, these guys think Opie is a genius, and so I guess I'm not surprised.
One of our earlier posts in support of Portland Mayor Tom Potter's "vision quest" survey actually made the news the other day -- a slow news day, to be sure. Anyway, I like the way the conversation is going, and so it's time to pop the third of the four questions and see what you all have to say in the comments. Again, try not to repeat what you posted on the first two questions:
*At least, during those brief interludes when I had one.
This is starting to sound like the deranged guy who recently bought the farm after being tasered at Sandy and 20th a while back. "Here we go again," again.
The Monday night haul of the recycling bin to the curb always provokes some interesting browsing of the print media. Three stories caught our eye as we shipped off another week's pile of newsprint last evening.
First, in The New York Times, a stunning front-page story about the unearthing and restoration of a public swimming pool in Mississippi that the town buried decades ago, rather than go through racially integrating it as the law requires. This kind of tale makes history come alive.
Also in the Times, guess who's sticking up for the college board exams, a.k.a. the SAT's? Surprise! It's the president of Reed College, who deplores the fact that many colleges are allowing applicants not to submit their SAT scores if they don't want to. The not-so-hidden agenda is to jack up the schools' average SAT statistics and thus move them up in the ridiculous U.S. News & World Report rankings game. Reed refuses to play that game at all.
Meanwhile, back in the O, we see that the state Public Utility Commission has issued rules implementing the new state law that public utilities' parent companies actually have to pay some taxes if their utility subsidiaries expect to collect taxes from customers as part of their utility rates. Under the new rules, the Oregon utilities can pass on to their customers a percentage of the taxes that their parent companies actually pay, but no more. And so if an Enron avoids paying taxes with one dodge or another, the little old ladies in McMinnville won't have to pay a PGE a phantom tax recovery as part of their power bills.
The utilities are screaming bloody murder, but it's an eminently sensible set of rules, and they ought to quiet down and just deal with them. I'm sure they and their accountants are already dissecting the new regulations and trying to figure out ways to game them. It shouldn't take them more than a few years to do so, but in the meantime, fairness temporarily prevails.
It would be interesting to hear where Ron Saxton, the Republican who wants to be our "governer," stands on the new utility tax rate rules. I'd be surprised if you could get a straight answer out of him about it.
My tepid review of the new artificial turf soccer field at the Madeleine School near us was premature. The kids and I had gone out and stomped around on the new surface, and it had seemed pretty hard to me. But that's before the latest step in the installation process: They've sprinkled the fake grass with a generous layer of tiny, rubbery granules -- ground-up tennis shoe insoles, I suspect -- and now it's absolutely springy. Big difference.
The neighborhood's really taking a liking to the place now. There are players out there at all hours when daylight's available. The dogs have been banished (at least officially) to the blacktop parking lot next door, but except for them and their owners, the field's a big plus so far.
It needs a fence around it, however, if for no other reason than to keep wayward balls on the field of play and out of the street. Without it, somebody's going to get hit by a car out there chasing down a stray shot.
Ever thought, "I wish there was an entire planned community of 'Lord of the Rings' geeks in which to immerse myself"?
Well, now there is, in beautiful Bend, Oregon.
Get the earnest money ready, honey!
I see that the movable scam -- the convention center hotel that the taxpayers of Portland are going to build against their will -- is up for a hearing before the Metro Council Thursday. This after the PDC initially said no to the obscene public subsidy to be poured into the pockets of Lloyd District big shot Hank Ashforth and his construction company buds. Maybe Metro will go for it after they get tomorrow's "report," which I'm sure will be a sales pitch reminiscent of those originally offered for the failed Convention Center expansion and the now-bankrupt SoWhat development.
This is how the scams are done around here. The moneybag proponents keep hammering, hammering, moving the deal around from unsupervised tax pot to unsupervised tax pot, until finally the people who are talking common sense miss a meeting or just get tired. Then the dastardly deed gets done.
Portland area taxpayers need a convention center hotel like a hole in the head. And if you asked them, they'd tell you so. But they're going to get one anyway, it appears, because around here, the fix is always in. This time they say it's going to create 1500 new jobs. Not to put too fine a point on it, but in a pig's eye it will.
Ms. Martha Walters is a partner with Walters, Romm, Chanti & Dickens in Eugene, Ore., where her civil litigation practice emphasizes employment law, personal injury,domestic relations, civil rights and municipal law. Ms. Walters attended the University of Michigan for her bachelor's degree, before moving on to receive her law degree from the University of Oregon School of Law in 1977. Her professional affiliations include service on the Boards of Directors of the Oregon Trial Lawyers Association and the Lane County Bar Association, as well as membership on the Oregon State Bar Disciplinary Board, the Judicial Conference of the Ninth Circuit, and the Lane County Local Professional Responsibility Committee. She has been a Commissioner of the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws since 1992.A woman, a plaintiffs' attorney, an advocate for workers -- that ought to help the Gov in this election season. But it's another Willamette Valley voice, and one with no judicial experience to boot, and you can bet you'll hear a few catcalls about that.
After more than four years and more than 3100 posts, I'm breaking down and selling a few ads on this blog if I can. Until now, the only revenue this site has generated has been my beautiful but all-too-brief stint as a shill for Marqui, the software development company that paid people like me to mention it in our blogs. Remember that? Man, I miss those checks.
But hey, this hobby incurs a few expenses -- especially this past month, when we had to start all over with a new web host (more on that shortly) -- and I'm hoping to get at least to the break-even point. If it looks as though I'm actually making enough to retire, I'll let everybody know.
I'm using an outift called Blogads to broker the ads for me. They take a cut, but I get to say whether an ad is accepted for publication or not.
You purists out there, I know you'll never forgive me, but as we all know, money eventually talks.
A reader sends along this news bulletin:
NEW YORK -- A public-school teacher was arrested today at John F. Kennedy International Airport as he attempted to board a flight while in possession of a ruler, a protractor, a set square, a slide rule, and a calculator.
At a morning press conference, Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez said he believes the man is a member of the notorious Al-gebra movement.
He did not identify the man, who has been charged by the FBI with carrying weapons of math instruction. "Al-gebra is a problem for us," Gonzalez said. "They desire solutions by means and extremes, and sometimes go off on tangents in a search of absolute values. They use secret code names like 'x' and 'y' and refer to themselves as 'unknowns,' but we have determined they belong to a common denominator of the axis of medieval with coordinates in every country. As the Greek philanderer Isosceles used to say, 'There are 3 sides to every triangle.'"
When asked to comment on the arrest, President Bush said, "If God had wanted us to have better Weapons of Math Instruction, He would have given us more fingers and toes."
White House aides told reporters they could not recall a more intelligent or profound statement by the president.
How long have we known that the Sellwood Bridge is falling down? At least two years. Maybe three? More?
So it's good to know that now the county is starting a study group on how to replace it. Come to the open house in six weeks as we begin the conversation!
Geez, don't hurt yourself jumping right on it. (Via Portland Transport.)
It appears from our referral logs that this blog has wound up on a news links page on the intranet at a "port" -- the Port of Portland, no doubt. Hello to those of you coming in from there. Love the free wi-fi at the airport -- a nice touch.
But keep your grubby mitts off the Colwood golf course! No new runway! Haven't you heard? Sprawl is bad. So try some "density," like the rest of us. Thanks.
An astute reader left an important comment in another thread about the ever-escalating public cost of the SoWhat district -- Portland's latest condo jungle and doctor's office complex. While my post griped about the latest $170 million budget revelation, the commentator notes that the true cost to the taxpayers for this never-never land is going to run about a billion and a half dollars!
Some real numbers to the North Macadam costs need to be cited. Some of these are repeats of many blogs from the past, but there seems to be some new parties unfamiliar to the numbers.
The original 1999 budget was $288M for NM. This does not include the debt cost which at todays interest rate will easily add another $400M to the cost for a 20 year UR period, which in all cases of UR in Portland has always been extended which increases the debt cost even higher. These all add up to an amount paid by taxpayers.
The present proposed 5 year budget has been increased to $297M. That is taxpayer direct costs.
Last week the City Council increased the base cost of NM an additional $38M by Amendment 8. This amount is from the City’s general fund budget-taxpayers pockets; an additional amount to the NM costs, and it even has a higher debt service cost than the URA amount and not included in the $38M amount.
What is not included above are all the funds from other sources that are directed to NM for identified projects of the District: federal, state, county, etc dollars. These are funds that should be included in ones analysis of what taxpayers are paying for NM. For example, for the proposed I-5 off ramp into NM the project was initially $30M. At last weeks NM URAC meeting, PDOT estimates the cost at $40M to $50M with feds (taxpayer dollars) hopefully providing 50% with matching URA funds. But the project is now way under-funded on both ends and delayed way beyond the NM Plans timetable. The $170M in unfunded transportation projects figure that some cite is not far off-probably low.
There are also federal and state tax dollars that have been used for toxic site cleanup that has been over $80M, plus the additional tax breaks given for cleanup.
Another example of “outside” money is for the pedestrian bridge over I-5/Macadam. Its initial 1999 budget was $1.2M, now PDOT at last weeks meeting is estimating $8M and higher; funded by federal dollars not totally funded.
There are many other projects identified in the 1999 and now present proposed NM 5 year budget that are under/unfunded: Transportation-South Portal, $20M- North Portal $20M; Greenway-$40M and rising; Neighborhood Improvements (as listed by Commissioner Adams at the PSU Town Hall)-$72M; Neighborhood Parks; etc. Plus there are other projects in process that have cost increases beyond the budget of $288M to $297M. NM hasn’t even started the big- ticket project of Affordable Housing. Besides there being many identified projects under-not funded, they are many way behind the 1999 budget timetable for starting/completion which also is adding to their costs. “Bankruptcy” is not an ill-chosen word as last Friday’s Tribune used in its front-page article on NM.
There are also numerous over-budget projects in progress besides the tram ($8.5M vs. $60M). The trolley extension to the south-Lowell St. took $3M from the general fund (PDOT) to help pay for the to-be-completed extension because it was over budget. The initial budget to purchase the land for the Neighborhood Park on Moody St. was $1.5M; paid $7.2M. The PDC land purchase for the first housing block (49) will be $5M after the same block sold for $1.2M over a year ago to Homer Williams. Same goes for Block 33, where $3M will be given to Williams for the air-rights to build housing above a OHSU parking garage after “after-the-fact-negotiations” appraisal was less than half.
What the general public needs (if we are interested) is a realistic accounting of what an Urban Renewal area really costs the public. The PDC does not attempt this task because it would be surprising.
Several years ago, I and Don Berg wrote a commentary for the Oregonian on what we thought the public’s cost for NM might be-$1.5BILLION. Bill McDonald could be right. That equates to $2,725.00 per person in the City of Portland, and not the $300 per person. Quite a BILL, but lets not quibble.
It was a tough weekend on the 911 lines in these parts. Three people died in interactions with police -- one in Portland, one in Tigard, and a third out in La Pine. The latter two were shot to death; the story on the guy in Portland is still sketchy, but there apparently was no gunfire. Can't help but feel bad for everyone affected, especially the dead.
One of Randy Gragg's designer buddies -- one of the people cashing in on the totally unnecessary rehash of the downtown Portland transit mall -- took Randy out to lunch and showed him his looseleaf binder full of other wonderful ways that he could save downtown, for a fee. The mall should have "countertops for laptop users to tap the city's free WiFi"! And the city should set up "on-call design services" -- yes, that's what's missing.
Once somebody picks up the tab for Randy's Pimm's cup, it's stop-the-presses time at the O. And so we all got to read about it yesterday.
As usual, the goateed guru of Graggination knows best. Now the local business owners don't know what they're doing in their advocacy for downtown. After all, they're not architects, and they don't buy Randy any wine and cheese!
And of course, it's also too bad we can't be like downtown San Diego or Seattle. You haven't been Gragged until he tells you that. What, no San Francisco or Vancouver reference? Wait 'til next column. Actually, we are becoming more like San Diego -- municipal bankruptcy case -- every day, thanks to Randy's pals.
But the best part this time around is the critic's brush with true greatness:
"Big visions are important, but you also have to walk the streets and listen," Goldschmidt told me a few years ago in an indirect critique of then-Mayor Vera Katz. "It's the little stuff -- traffic tickets for loading, the trash not getting picked up -- that drives business owners nuts."Note that Goldschmidt didn't just say it -- he told it to Randy. What a picture. Two special guys.
...although we, too, promise the highest level of value and performance.
Offered for sale at the local Wild Oats Market today, a loaf of plain white bread: $3.99.
And here I thought gas was bad.
Jake has donated his time, talent, disk space, bandwidth, computer geek skills, and good humor to a task that I once thought impossible -- getting all the old material from this blog back where it belongs.
Check out my archives over there on the left sidebar. Except for parts of July and August 2006 -- when I foolishly trusted my web host to keep a backup, and it didn't -- I've now got everything re-integrated into the blog. There's some more housekeeping to do now with Mr. Template (get out the key to the liquor cabinet), but that's nothing compared to getting 3,000 entries and all the accompanying comments back in place. Jake did it. Heck, I'll even manually re-do the two lost months myself now, I'm that happy.
Having suffered through internet hell, I know what a formidable task this was. To have a guy I've never met in person pop up and fix this for me is one of life's blessings. Mad props, as the kids say, to Jake.
This really is turning out to be a banner day. Out by the airport: Costco Gas!
What a shame -- the Coffee People stores in Portland have been sold to Starbucks, and they're going to be changed into Starbucks stores. Now, Coffee People hasn't been locally owned for years, but to have it fall into the hands of the Evil Empire -- it's the last straw. The kiosks at Portland airport weren't part of the deal, but the current owners of Coffee People say they're going to close all the chain's retail locations, which presumably would include those.
Sheesh! Starbucks wiped out Torrefazione, now Coffee People -- nothing stands in their way.
The Seahawks aren't the only predators in Seattle. And don't get me started on Microsoft and Paul Allen. Speaking of whom, I see that Allen caved and paid back some of the money he looted out of the Rose Garden arena corporation before he dumped it into bankruptcy. More power to his hapless creditors.
When we here in Portland flip the switches on the thermostats from "cool" to "heat." Bye, summer!
You know you're on the back nine when a big event in your life is a new dishwasher. We got one this week, and I just started my Saturday with a viewing of the instructional DVD that came with it. What a hoot. Men in neckties and women in pearls, positively sashaying around the kitchen as they scrape off the half-eaten spaghetti and load up the tray. June, I'm home!
From the looks of it, you'd think that if anything goes wrong, this guy will show up in a tux.
Portland's African-American community is complaining that the Portland Development Commission should be renamed "People Don't Count," because the agency does little or nothing to serve the needs of the city's African-American population.
The PDC is not turning a deaf ear to these complaints. Already it has hired a team of geneologists from OHSU to see if Homer Williams, Joe Weston, or Bob Gerding have any ancestors who were from Africa.
Wake up, Portland taxpayers, to some important news in today's Trib: There's $170 million more of infrastructure in the SoWhat district that you and I are going to have to figure out how to pay for.
Geez, are we up to a half billion yet? And wait 'til the development weasels have Sam the Tram break the news that they're going to need a sewage treatment plant, too. Maybe we can break a billion.
“It’s a lot,” city Transportation Commissioner Sam Adams said of the $170 million figure. “It’s a big number.”So, I suspect, is the outrage.
Projects on the table include street improvements as well as a new Interstate 5 offramp over Southwest Macadam Avenue that will relieve congestion along the major access road to the development area, said city transportation planner Greg Jones.
The city is working out a fee on new development in the district that will generate $65 million, more than a third of the overall transportation bill. However, it has not figured out where the rest of the money will come from.
Adams said the city hopes to make up the difference by patching together state and federal funds, a local improvement district funded by landowners, and other fees and charges that are yet to be determined.
“The work is only just beginning,” Adams said.
This really will go down in history as the Biggest. Portland. Swindle. Ever. But look on the bright side: It will be the last one for a long time, because the municipal bankruptcy will be here soon. We've got to find $8 billion to pay the cops and firemen who all retired at age 50. We don't have an extra quarter-billion for the condo jungle.
Folks, the population of Portland's only around 550,000. $170 million comes to around $309 from every man, woman, and child in town. Sorry, but at my house we need to save that dough for gas.
Maybe we should send the $170 million to the public schools, and let the California transplant yuppies in their Lexuses drive on dirt roads, like the people in the Cully neighborhood do. Welcome to Portland.
We got a pretty nice response the other day when we opened up the floor for discussion of the first of the four questions on the City of Portland's "vision" questionnaire. So here's Question 2, which in some ways is an easier one to answer. The main challenge is not to say the same things you said in response to Question 1:
There was an interesting piece of noncoverage in yesterday's O about some of the latest doings at the Portland Development Commission. Here's the "article," in its entirety:
The Vanport Square deal, the city's biggest redevelopment project along Northeast Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, is scheduled to close at the end of the month. That's according to Carl Talton, who's running the Portland Family of Funds, a private firm that's helping put the deal together.Well gee, folks, if it's going to close in the next two or three weeks, when is the public going to get to see the details? Certainly lots has changed since the previous deal on the property fell through -- who's getting what this time around? Did I miss that story, or is this another PDC rush-rush special?
The project has suffered false starts for years, most recently when a call center backed out. Developers Ray Leary and Jeana Woolley changed the concept to for-sale business spaces. The site, between Emerson and Sumner streets, includes the vacant Marco manufacturing building and a proposed building.
Expect to hear more about this later. MLK is No. 1 among Mayor Tom Potter's redevelopment priorities.
With the "Family of Funds" on the scene (cue James Gandolfini), there's already a slight odor.
The neighbors out Linnton way are re-circling their wagons after the Portland City Council shot down their condo dreams. "It ain't over," they say, and it looks like they'll oppose any biodiesel plant in their midst.
Of course, the hippies on the council would be thrilled beyond words if some company wanted to make fuel out of canola out there. Fireman Randy would probably offer to drink a pint of it if he could be the one cutting the ribbon. Looks like Linnton will continue to be the source of controversy with downtown for years to come.
The guy who runs the Portland Water Bureau has an interesting column up today on the city's historic Benson Bubblers.
The word is out that the shuttle astronauts came up one bolt short when they were doing assembly work on the international space station. Sounds like me trying to put together something from Ikea.
Next time they should bring this guy along. Or my wife -- at our house, she's the champ of assembling things.
A reader with a friend in Portland's Lair Hill neighborhood writes:
My coworker, over whose house the tram car will glide, is trying to figure out how to profit off the bad deal.If I still lived down there, I would see if I could sell ads. I'm sure there's some ordinance or another against it, but maybe not, if you couldn't see it from street level.
How about rooftop advertising?
But first, I'd join with my neighbors and exercise our free speech rights on all of our roofs. On the north side of Gibbs Street, it would take just the four houses west of Water, and the three just east, to send the operators of the aerial tram [rim shot] the message they so richly deserve.
A friend of mine who's quite knowledgable about pensions attended a professional conference this morning on the City of Portland's police and fire pension and disability problems. Among the speakers was Commissioner Dan Saltzman, who's fronting for the weak set of "reforms" that are about to go before the city's voters. My friend is adamant that the proposed changes will do little to solve the major financial difficulties presented by the bluecoat pensions. He writes:
The Council is totally ignoring the fact that Measure 26-86 does relatively little to address the unfunded liabilities of the plan -- currently north of $1.6 Billion (with a big, fat capital B). These liabilities are not going away and, because they refuse to cut benefits for fire and police (since they're afraid of the unions) they'll only get bigger, eventually (a) hitting the City's financial statements (when GASB reacts to the San Diego crisis and formally requires all cities to account for their unfunded liabilities using standard actuarial methods), which will likely impact the City's credit rating, and (b) swallowing up most of the City's budget -- this monster is 100% funded by property tax revenues, which are subject to Measure 50 caps. The City remains contractually obligated to pay the benefits, so once property taxes are tapped out, that means they'll have to start using the general fund to keep the plan from going insolvent. The actuaries have estimated that the plan's liabilities would go from $1.6B to $8B in 40 years unless some changes are made to the plan's funding structure; measure 26-86 will help a little, but it won't stop the unfunded liabilities from getting to $8B -- at most, it will simply slow down the process.
Hopefully we will have sold our house and moved to Vancouver before the FPD&R becomes the Creature that Ate Portland.Given the tremendous knowledge base that my correspondent brings to the issue, he's got my attention. Readers?
The day I discovered YouTube, I realized that hours of my future were about the be sucked in by it. Now, thanks to a friend who loaned me yesterday's Wall Street Journal, I see where some more hours are going to go -- archive.org. You can read whole books over there -- watch entire full-length movies. Want to hear Grateful Dead shows? No problem. And they just keep scanning and ripping away.
For a sample, check out this beautiful pdf file of an 1885 history of the Willamette Valley. Goodbye, real world!
"Hey, there. I saw you scratching your pits. Would you like some complimentary Cortizone?"
I hate it when my commenters are better at this than I am.
It's easy to goof on Portland Mayor Tom Potter's "vision quest," wherein the city is spending tons of time and money getting all touchy-feely with its residents. Translated into at least a dozen languages, the city's questionnaire about long-range goals is now sitting out for your completion in library branches and other locations all over town.
Why -- why are we going through all this when there are so many immediate needs screaming for attention? It's the nature of relatively new department heads like Potter -- they invariably launch into "strategic planning," with no end to the consultants, "branders," and opinion researchers called in, ostensibly to see what the paying customers want.
But of course, so often that's not what it's really about. So often the leader is about to dictate a change of direction from on high, and he or she is looking for justification, and a veneer of participatory democracy. You can't help but think that the City Hall bureaucrats are going to take whatever they get and hammer it into a show of support for whatever they already have in mind.
And this particular survey is going to be wide open for "spinning." It's four essay questions, kids -- no numerical data, just words and music. Whatever the returns say, they'll be thoroughly chewed over by some "vision" bureaucrat or another before they're released to the world.
Having said all that, to me the most interesting thing about the questions is that they're exactly the ones that Potter should be asking. If I sat next to him at a nice dinner party and he popped these on me, I'd come away thinking that the guy was really trying to do his job -- either that or he was pulling my leg pretty hard.
Anyway, as I looked over the form, it occurred to me that these would make some excellent topics for blogging and blog comments. Now, I'm not being facetious here (for a change) -- if you feel as strongly as I do about the future of the Rose City, you ought to be able to say something intelligent about each of them.
So I'm going to roll them out, one at a time, and see what readers here have to offer. Here's question no. 1:
Enter your answer in the comments below. And when you're done, you might think about heading over to the official vision website, and weighing in there, too.
More questions over the next week or so.
When I come across a Google search like this one in the referral logs to this blog, I don't even have to look. I know it's from an AOL user.
Finally, the former frat president, now our President, has managed to get out a coherent sentence that encapsulates the fundamental falsehood that continues to take lives, including many young American lives, in Iraq:
You can keep saying it, Junior, but it's a lie, and more and more Americans are figuring that out.
A couple of alert readers have e-mailed me to note that the Trib and KGW have photos of the cars for the new OHSU aerial tram [rim shot]. If you want to see what that little old lady will be gawking at when she slams into the back of you on I-5 northbound just before the Marquam Bridge, head over and check them out.
It's not apparent from these preliminary pics where the rescue rope will attach...
Steve Duin and others are on the mike today blasting Multnomah County judge wannabe Leslie Roberts for ratting out her next-door neighbor's residency problem, and thus insuring that Roberts will run unopposed for the judicial seat that the neighbor had her eye on. The neighbor, Youlee You, has been disqualified from the race, and she's also stepped down from the bench, where Governor Ted had appointed her so that she could run as the incumbent. Not only did Roberts snitch on You, but she did it at the last minute, thus insuring that she will coast into office.
I will not jump to Roberts's defense, but I am a little disappointed that her critics, including some sitting judges, are being so casual about the fact that You didn't meet the residency requirements. It reminds me of the time when two of our state legislators moved out of their districts but decided they could stay in office until they were darn good and ready to give up their seats.
That's just plain wrong.
Any attorney who knows that there's an ineligible candidate running for judicial office should step up and let that fact be known to the authorities. Do you think Ms. Roberts would have done so if she weren't coveting her neighbor's courtroom? If the answer's no, then she deserves all the criticism she's getting. I suspect her time at the courthouse will be brief and unhappy. Rightly or wrongly, her husband, an appeals court judge, probably lost a few allies as well.
Barring something untoward, unique visit no. 1,000,000 to this blog will roll in sometime after midnight tonight. Ironically, I may not be up to see it; I've got business early in the day tomorrow. If you're the millionth visitor, send me a screenshot. (In Windows, hit "PrtScrn"; open Accessories - Paint; click "Edit" - "Paste" - "File" - "Save"; then e-mail it here.)
UPDATE, 9/12, 12:19 a.m.: Looks like no. 1 million arrived at 11:57, via something called theplanet.com, in Dallas, Texas:
Thanks to everyone who visits and comments here. This is my best hobby ever.
Hey, the City of Portland is sponsoring a program in a couple of weeks called "ABC's of Land Use." The city promises that those neighborhood activists who attend will "[l]earn about the City of Portland's land use and development review processes. Get hands-on experience responding to typical issues that come up in land use reviews."
A very valuable workshop, no doubt, but I can't wait 'til October 7. Let's get a head start by reciting some of the ABC's of land use here in the Rose City. O.k., here we go:
"A" is for "abatement"...
I experienced some of the best of Portland yesterday. I had an errand to run downtown, and I decided to take the bus -- it makes more sense than dealing with a car down there. First I went online, to the Tri-Met website, and found out when the next bus was coming to our stop. It arrived within seconds of the scheduled time. The bus was clean and comfortable; I took a little siesta, which was much needed.
I hopped off the bus on the transit mall and took a short walk up to Powell's, the world's best bookstore. The staff was friendly and knowledgable, and the order that the Mrs. had placed electronically was ready for pickup. On the hike back to the mall, I needed lunch, and so I stopped at the Pearl Bakery, where I enjoyed a fantastic turkey sandwich. Check out the kaiser rolls in that place -- they're as close to a true New York City "hard roll" as you're going to find around these parts.
A five-minute wait for another bus -- from downtown to our house, there's a choice of three lines to pick from -- and another peaceful ride back home. All on a single ticket, which came for free in a "chinook book" that we bought for 20 bucks last fall.
As readers of this blog know, I have issues with Tri-Met, with Mike Powell's real estate ambitions, and with the Pearl District generally. But there's a lot of good in those places, too. Yesterday, it was all on display. We're lucky to live here.
A new chapter has opened in the story of the new artificial turf soccer field in our neighborhood:
Without a fence, that's going to be a tough policy to enforce. People have been exercising their dogs on that property for probably 60 years. To think they're going to stop now is a bit naive.
Granted, it's private property, and the dogs are going to make a mess of the artificial turf, and so it's a good idea to keep them away. But I suspect that signs alone aren't going to do it:
Another priest is shown to have sexually abused boys in the 1960s.
Does it matter that he was the president of Gonzaga University at the time?
Of course, the order lied about it, covered it up for 40 years, and is now just "rediscovering" the tale. Uh huh. Pitiful.
I think I have figured out and corrected what was screwing up the alignment on the main page of this blog. You Firefox and Safari folks, tell me if I'm wrong about that.
I learn something new every day. I even downloaded and ran Firefox in the process. Time for a little "superior dance."
Now onto the many other page templates. Nobody ever said it was going to be easy to recreate this thing. But I'd like to look good for unique visit no. 1,000,000, which by my calculations should arrive on Tuesday.
The reds and yellows of fall are starting to make their appearances. The sun's still shining, and it's still summer. Get out there.
The SoWhat district should be nominated for All-Time Most Transparent Scam in Portland History. It would stand a good chance of winning, even without the aerial tram [rim shot]. But with that beauty in place, it wins hands down. Nick Budnick spotlights the latest badges of fraud in today's Trib -- everything's rush-rush, no time to do anything right:
Ward was echoed by Shelly Lorenzen of the League of Women Voters of Portland, meanwhile, who complained that the earlier version of the agreement approved by the council in April had progressed through the public process in just 48 hours — hardly enough time for a meaningful public debate.Why Grampy continues to play along is a mystery to me. He doesn't seem like a crook. Maybe someone should be brave enough to ask him.
When the league complained in April, she said, city officials promised that the final agreement, considered Wednesday, would receive a full public discussion — a promise that she said the city has not fulfilled.
This observation was echoed by a landowner’s representative, Edward Trompke of the Jordan Schrader law firm. Representing Zidell Marine, he submitted written comments saying that although the agreement had “evolved” since being approved by the council in April, the “amount of public review and input has been very limited.”
The story of the City of Portland and campaign finance "performance artist" Emilie Boyles gets funnier every day. According to the kids at the Merc, the city wasn't looking for Boyles at all -- they got a tip from somebody who called in about where she is. "[I]t was decided that the city would be 'cost conscious' going forward with the Boyles case." In other words, since she's broke, she walks.
Oh, and the reason the city's not revealing where Boyles is to the taxpaying public that she fleeced? If it did, employers in her new place might not hire her. Wow, so the city is protecting her now, so that she can pull the wool over some other poor suckers' eyes? Makes you proud to be from Portland, doesn't it?
Best of all, this classic piece of doublethink from City Auditor Gary Blackmer:
"The one thing to keep in mind," Blackmer added, "is that there are rule in place, and if someone wants to break the rules, they're going to get caught, and they're going to pay the price."What a thing to say, when the exact opposite is the obvious truth.
Mr. Bush said he had never authorized torture but indicated that aggressive interrogation techniques short of torture remained important tools in the administration’s efforts to combat terrorism.And if he says so, you have to take his word for it.
"I cannot describe the specific methods used — I think you understand why," he said. "If I did, it would help the terrorists learn how to resist questioning, and to keep information from us that we need to prevent new attacks on our country. But I can say the procedures were tough, and they were safe and lawful and necessary."
That's America now. Sure, it feels like the Soviet Union or Red China. But relax, we're getting used to it.
A jury has found that a doctor at Oregon Health & Science University negligently screwed up the "routine" neck surgery that led to permanent nerve damage to former Portland TV newsguy Ken Ackerman. It awarded Ackerman around $1.4 million, including $1 million in punitive damages.
It's far from over. There's still a legal question as to whether the doctor's liability might be capped at $200,000. A recent state Court of Appeals ruling says that it isn't, but OHSU is reportedly appealing that. As it may very well appeal the verdict in the Ackerman trial itself for any alleged errors made by the trial judge in that case.
While we all speculate how these cases will finally come out -- and ruminate on what, if anything, might constitute a fair liability cap for OHSU -- a waggish reader sends along a new must-have accessory for Portlanders:
Some readers who use Firefox and Safari are complaining that the posts on this blog are way, way down under the left sidebar today. It's a problem with Mr. Template, I'm sure. I'm using evil, old MS Internet Explorer myself, where everything looks peachy, but my apologies to those who are getting a garbled version of the site. As ever, please e-mail me with news of what you're seeing, and I'll continue to work on the problems. I know we're not quite there yet. Thanks for your patience.
Methane is turning out to be a real problem in causing global warming.
How long before Sam Adams tries to run all the Taco Bells out of town?
They don't even bother to lie about it any more. The City of Portland admits that it's paying Homer Williams $3 million for development rights that its own appraisers say are worth only $1.5 million.
"We were in a hurry. We took Homer's appraisers' word on the value."
You bought real estate with taxpayer dollars, and took the seller's word for its value?
In any sane organization, that kind of thing would cost somebody their job. But not when you're talking about Portland city government.
The United States is moving 14 men from formerly secret CIA prisons overseas, where it has held them for years without charges, to its military prison camp in Guantanamo, Cuba. It's all part of a midterm-election-year jerk-around from Dick Cheney and Karl Rove, fronted by the Chimp.
And people are applauding.
Wake me, honey. I'm having a very bad dream.
Good news for Reynolds High School global studies teacher Frank Mathews -- he's won statewide teacher of the year honors, and a $10,000 prize.
But uh oh, the prize is coming from those awful, awful capitalists at Wal Mart!
Fireman Randy and Sam the Tram, better rush on out there and rip that blood money right out of Mathews's hands!
But relax. It isn't what you think....
The group that burns all our millions sending those cute little streetcars through the Portland condo farms has announced a new board, and there are some interesting names on there. Mike "Small Fry" Powell of Powell's Books is the chair, and Hank Ashforth, the developer who's been pushing the awful convention center hotel, is in the no. 2 slot.
We also get developer John Carroll, developer Roger Neu, real estate sharpie Richard Cooley, lender Rick Parker, Sam the Tram, a PGE guy, a PSU sort, and somebody from OHSU.
If you think the streetcar isn't all about making money in real estate, just take a look at that lineup. All aboard!
First, the good news. The City of Portland has tracked down Emilie Boyles, the ne'er-do-well mom, formerly of the east side, who figured out how easy it was to defraud the city's ridiculous "voter-owned elections" public campaign financing "system." She's into the city for many tens of thousands, and for a while she's been on the lam. The city's found the little darling somewhere outside the Pacific Northwest, but ever committed to transparency in government, our elected officials won't say where.
Now, the non-news: Boyles has no job and no money. The city auditor says he's "hopeful" that someday, somehow, she'll get it together enough to pay some of it back.
We've said right from the first revelation of the Boyles misconduct that the money she collected from city taxpayers was long gone. Miraculously, she voluntarily paid some of it back, but most of it is in the wind.
There was supposedly a state criminal investigation into the matter, but obviously that went nowhere, as we also predicted.
More tens of thousands utterly wasted by the "genius" of City Commissioner Erik Sten, the proud father of this misguided effort. He'll still tell you his little toy is a great idea.
Down in Lane County, married couples have established an eminently sensible code of behavior: You shoot my chicken, I shoot you.
Interesting piece in the O today about a state transportation worker with a little conflict of interest problem. And it appears it all went down while Bruce Warner, now the head of the Portland Development Commission, was running the state shop.
They say they've fixed the problem in Salem now, but you wonder how many similar stories could be told at other public bodies in our supposedly squeaky clean state.
And of course, nobody gets more than a slap on the wrist on this one.
Sure, you've posted comments on your own blog before. But tell the truth -- have you ever used a sock puppet?
When people come on to me with "sustainable" this and that, I usually check to see that my wallet is still there. Although I believe we have a responsibility to protect the earth, "sustainability" is turning into a mantra like "creative class," used to sell all sorts of snake oil.
This weekend, however, some people whom I know and trust are putting on a shindig on the subject that promises to be fun and cheap, as well as thought-provoking. It's all day Saturday and Sunday down in the Ladd's Addition section of southeast Portland. If you're going to be in town, check this out.
Back in July, when the convention center hotel pushers realized they were getting nowhere with the suddenly sensible new leadership at the Portland Development Commission, they took their pitch to Metro. I noted then that this was probably because the Good Old Boys continue to rule the roost at Metro, and at many other quasi-accountable public agencies in these parts:
If the Metro angle bombs out, I'm sure the people who want to build this monstrosity will move on to the next Old Boy pork pot. Tri-Met's a stretch, but there is a light rail station nearby. Give Bernie a call. Maybe the Port? Calling Tom Imeson. Lottery Commission? Of course there will be slots in the bar, but only a hundred machines or so. Wonder what Dale Penn would say. Saif's usually good for a scam. Or hey, how about OHSU itself? The constant stream of international biotech gurus that are on their way to Portland will need a place with a spa to stay and enjoy a massage as they leaf through the Portland Monthly.As we all found out a couple of weeks ago, the Tri-Met angle wasn't so far-fetched at all. When the harsh light of day fell on the ill-fated Goose Hollow condo tower caper (aided and abetted by the skyscraper fetishists on the city Design Commission), who was in the middle of it? Tri-Met, of course. Tri-Met's giving away property to condo developers now, on the theory that their ugly towers will build ridership.
Giving away. Public property. To condo developers. No bidding. Can you say "corruption waiting to happen"? Good thing this is Oregon, where human nature doesn't apply.
Anyway, who runs Tri-Met? Why, a board of directors appointed by the governor. Seven members. Hmmm, let's see... Bernie Giusto, the Goldschmidt chaufffeur turned sheriff; Dave Bolender, an ex-Pacific Power guy probably connected to Mrs. Goldschmidt when she worked there; George Passadore, the retired banker whose name is synonymous with the Old Boy Network; Tiffany Sweitzer, Homer Williams's daughter, on the payroll of Pearlie developers Hoyt Street Properties; Sue Van Brocklin, a well connected p.r. executive whose husband is an attorney in a big-bucks law firm; George Richardson, head lobbyist for NW Natural, the gas company, and former confidante of ex-Mayor Vera Katz... the only mildly refreshing face is the Clackamas County rep, Robert Williams, a business representative at United Food and Commercial Workers Local 555.
Tired appointments and constant greasing of the same old palms -- that seems to be Governor Ted's mode of operation most of the time. Oh, several exceptions come to mind, but for the most part he's helped to perpetuate the area's scandalous public finance climate, in which anything goes, no matter how outrageous. Tri-Met literally giving land away to condo developers -- it's the height of arrogance, right up there with the aerial tram [rim shot] and all the other bad behavior up on Pill Hill.
The saddest part of it? Ted's opponent will do the exact same thing if he's elected, because they're all part of the same club. You wonder why I'll be sitting that race out? The movable scams are a large part of it.
Condolences to the family of jazz sax great Dewey Redman, who left us over the weekend. Redman was one of those far-out cats like Ornette Coleman and Pharoah Sanders, who heard music in his head that most mere mortals never could imagine. He was active right up until the end. I'm not qualified to review his work, but here's a start. Of course, he was also the father of Joshua Redman, who's a brilliant sax man in his own right.
Also passing away was Bob Mathias, two-time Olympic gold medalist in the decathlon. I'm too young to remember his performances on the track, but I seem to remember that he was the first person I ever saw on a Wheaties box. And he was on there for a long time. The fans loved him. He became a congressman, but he never flew as high as he did over that pole vault bar.
I'm really on a roll these days, eh?
It must be a slow news weekend. My piece on my friend Susan's becoming a nun has been picked up by OregonLive. I'm sure her old hit meter is spinning away today. That's a lot of attention for someone who's about to begin a cloistered life. Good thing Susan is so strong -- she can handle it. And the more people who read what she has to say, the better. You don't encounter vocations like hers every day.
For a while now, we've figured out OHSU's game -- they get all the privileges of being a state agency, with half the accountability (or less). With Neil G. and St. Hatfield pulling strings for them (at least until recently), they've got it made.
Yesterday the O's Steve Duin turned over yet another rock on Pill Hill and found more of the above. If you don't pay your hospital bill up there, they seize your state income tax refund. This even though Duin seems to think that's illegal, and there's a lawsuit pending on the issue.
Instead of your refund, the least the Department of Revenue could do is send you a pass for the aerial tram [rim shot].
My friend Susan is running off to become a nun... and even blogging about it.
Best wishes to her. She'll be missed in Portland.
It's great to have friends in the blogosphere. Although the clowns who formerly hosted this site claim to have lost all of my archives, Paul Bausch, the extraordinarily friendly and knowledgable proprietor of ORBlogs, has located much of that material and made it available to me. Even most of the comments are still there!
I will do everything I can to get everything back in one seamless blog as soon as possible, but in the meantime, I am tickled to say, here are my temporary archives:
The search engines can now find all this stuff again, although the display won't be too pretty for now. Paul, I am forever in your debt!
Alas, my friend Mike, who had a chance to win a Hummer by throwing footballs into the back of one such vehicle at last night's 49ers game, failed to make the cut. He lost in double overtime to a machinist named Wayne from Hayward. Carlos, a butcher from the San Jose Costco, also failed to advance. Wayne will come back to compete with a bunch of other fans for the grand prize on Christmas Eve.
Each contestant was given 30 seconds to throw up to 10 balls into the behemoth roadster at a distance of approximately 17 yards. The tailgate was left up, making it a challenging task. None of them was able to land even one at halftime, and so they were brought back to repeat the contest after the game. In that tie-breaker, each of them landed one in the Hummer, which meant they had to do it a third time (to an empty stadium)! At this point, it was in the 40s with a chill, swirling wind blowing around Candlestick Park -- typical August in San Francisco. Anyway, Wayne lobbed a couple more balls in while Mike and Carlos blanked.
So my buddy won't be spending the fall throwing footballs into car trunks for practice, and he won't have a Hummer to sell come the first of the new year. But at the pre-game party, he got to meet the legendary Y.A. Tittle, a football hero of both of ours who played both in San Fran and in New York when we were kids. That's a great prize right there. (And as you can see from this photo, Y.A. was devastated that Mike did not prevail.) Above all, Mike got a great story to tell, and there are few people I know who appreciate a good story more than he does. Nice going.
The transformation of the asphalt schoolyard to a soccer field at our neighborhood Catholic school is almost complete. We've been following the construction on this blog since Fourth of July weekend; they got the artificial turf down this past week, in time for Labor Day and the new school year:
They've also re-laid a section of the blacktop for a basketball court, and a small piece of property is left over, reportedly for some kind of park-like area. It will be a pretty small park.
You talk about levelling the playing field -- they've definitely done that. As one can see, there's a bit of a slope on that block, and the retainer around the field accentuates it:
It won't be long before the kids are out there kicking and screaming off lots of energy. But they had better wait until things cool off a bit. Today at midday, it was mighty hot on that turf. And it's lot less cushy underfoot than I thought it was going to be. I don't think the knees of those uniform pants are much more secure than they were in the old days (three months ago).
It took an afternoon to get this far, but I've managed to get the main page of this blog looking sort of the way it used to. Can you say "tedium"? And there's lots more of that to come, of course. The comments and archives now look weirder than ever, and there are more sidebar thingies that I have to bring back, if I can remember how.
Then there will be the matter of what to do with what I have been able to salvage of my archives. Yuck. Oh well -- as my old boss used to say, "That'll keep you out of the pool halls."
Nasty field burn in progress today, stinking up the entire Portland metro area. There are rules against folks burning their fields when the wind is blowing toward populated areas. The Department of Agriculture (not the Department of Environmental Quality) is the one who gives the grass farmers the green light, based on the best available weather predictions.
Every so often, the smoke gets in everybody's eyes, and the story is always that "the wind unexpectedly shifted." I hardly ever buy that story, and if that's the official version from Salem today, I'm definitely not believing it. The mainstream media have pretty much stopped covering this issue, and when they do, they never express an iota of skepticism about the excuses offered by the state farm promotion bureaucrats. I'd love to see someone ask to see hard evidence of the supposedly unexpected wind shift.
Anyway, try to have a nice weekend despite the smoke. You know what I'll be doing.
UPDATE, 12:10 p.m.: An alert reader points out that with the east wind we have today, the smoke may not be coming from the grass farms down in the valley. He suggests that the source of the smoke is one or more wildfires in eastern Oregon. In which case, I'd take back all the mean things I said here about the bureaucrats.