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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on September 27, 2006 10:14 AM. The previous post in this blog was Climb every mountain. The next post in this blog is Cesspool snorkeling. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.



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Wednesday, September 27, 2006

"We are ALL the city"

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?

We are ALL the City. THAT's the hard part to understand, as is figuring out how best to serve us all.

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."

Comments (27)

" is figuring out how best to serve us all."

THAT'S the key, and apparently no one in city government has a clue about any priorities involved. It seems to me that Potter's "visioning" implies that all the basics are taken care of already.

After posting his "vision quest" questions, how about some questions involving city priorities? How about ranking the list after it's compiled.

The way things are going now, in ten years your slogan would have to be: "we are all city employees".

...or dependents

Isn't this why we have elections? To decide who's going to determine city priorities, and then evaluate them on their performance 4 years hence?

I don't know if each of us thinks we are right. I actually revise my views often based on new information I get. What is important, I think, is that we have the debate about WHAT is right (not who) in PUBLIC.

Good citizens are the riches of a city.

True, but that one's fallen into over-use.

"Isn't this why we have elections? To decide who's going to determine city priorities, and then evaluate them on their performance 4 years hence?"

Oddly enough, as Measure 11, this blog and the I&R system have shown, voters in the state and in the city seem to think that process isn't enough (or isn't working). I'm advocating a sort of Measure 11 for city government. If Potter has to ask citizens (more accurately, residents) what they want city government to do next, he obviously doesn't have enough contact with reality and needs some guidance. Let's give the current and future mayors and council members some basic priorities and see how they measure up. As things stand, expectations of the city's elected officials' are ill-defined and, therefore, hard to empirically measure. Sten is a shining example of a failure with his Water Bureau debacle - yet he still serves.

It would be a start toward accomplishing some of what Dufay's very incisive comment sets out as our most important task.

Rich citizens are the riches of a city.

I guess if they could take care of the basics (parks, roads and jailspace) OK.

The heartburn comes when they get into playing developer when they can't find money for the basics. Of course, the mantra always is that taxes 20 years from now will pay for all of this money now.

So sum/substance, they get into projects they really shouldn't, so I'd un-ask the question of "what's right for the city" with respect to those.

"We are ALL the City. THAT's the hard part to understand, as is figuring out how best to serve us all. "

Obeying the law pertaining to the fiscal impacts of projects might be an excellent start. Just realizing that municipal law APPLIES to them would be one heckuva start for that crowd.

It's pretty hard for citizens to know what the hell is going on when any news from the capitol or city hall is nonexistent in our local press. When, miracle of miracles, they decide it's more important than a meth bust or hollywood gossip, it's an afterthought given a cursory glance. Sure, the local TV stations obviously take the cake, but the Oregonian isn't far behind.

I guess if they could take care of the basics (parks, roads and jailspace) OK...
The heartburn comes when they get into playing developer

But even the simple basics like where --or if-- you build roads (or parks, or jails, or sewers, or schools) has profound impacts on development. Think of the impact of I-5...or the un-built Mt Hood Freeway (which would have devastated MY neighborhood).

Government regulation helps create wealth. Changing the zoning on a parcel of property can triple its value, or more. The temptations (and opportunities) can be pretty overwhelming. And in an environment where it costs big bucks to run for office, how do we maintain a level playing field for good decision-making?

It's pretty hard for citizens to know what the hell is going on when any news from the capitol or city hall is nonexistent in our local press.

TKrueg really hits the nail on the head. I don't especially blame the press --government doesn't like an inquisitive press looking over its shoulder any more than any of us would, and so restricts the flow of information-- but I'm consistently amazed at how little of what happens gets any real analysis. Or even exposure. Then again, the riches of a city are engaged citizens, who care about what's going on beyond the sports page, or the antics of Paris Hilton. Whatever faults there may be in Mayor Potter's "visioning" process I give him huge credit for the effort to both energize that citizenry and seriously engage them: "Well, what do we want Portland to be?" He's's up to us to tell him.

I think the success of Jack's Blog (or Blue Oregon, or the whole "blogosphere") is that it puts a lot more eyes on the street, and however much I may agree or disagree with people here, I appreciate the caring and passion. I think Jack (et al) perform a real public service.


Hey, I like "Good citizens are the riches of a city." It's inscribed on the Skidmore Fountain down by the Saturday Market, which Henry Weinhardt wanted to fill with beer. The quote comes from C.E.S. Woods, one of Portland's earliest civic leaders.

On the other hand, when confronted with questions of a civic nature, I often say WWBD (what would Bud do?) And since the former mayor stops in at a neighborhood tavern (not his own) that I also frequent, I occasionally have a chance to ask him.


"Government regulation helps create wealth."

Quite the blanket statement; especially absent its corollary that government regulation can, and regularly does, also destroy wealth. I'd argue that, in this city at least, goernment regulation has "created wealth" for a very few, already wealthy, folks and destroyed wealth for the vast majority. Which ties in to another of your assertions:

"Then again, the riches of a city are engaged citizens, who care about what's going on beyond the sports page, or the antics of Paris Hilton."

Since you're an "engaged citizen", that's a pretty self-affirming statement, I'm sure, but it's also a very elitist statement on its face. What happened to "We are ALL the City." I guess I misunderstood your use of "We".

What, then, are the sports page reading folks who really do "care about what's going on" but don't have the time, money or knowledge to be involved to the degree that qualifies them as "engaged" - The glamorless burden of a city?

These are the people whom the city ignores by their skewed priorities; those whose streets aren't paved, whose neighborhoods are crime-ridden, who don't live on MAX or trolley lines. These are the people who miss out on the benefits of "development", "renewal" and all the other grand schemes that mesmerize our city "leaders" and their respective bureaucracies. These are people who expect basic services and little else from their city government and instead get little service and are basically ignored. These are the people for whom there are few "advocates" like Erik Sten, the "crusader for the homeless" (whose true concern is more about his image with his guilt-laden liberal constituents than the real issues of the homeless). Whether they're "engaged" or not, or even whether they vote or not, they are your (and my) equals and their expectations and rights deserve equal, if not greater attention.

Every taxpayer dollar spent on trams, plans and (no) automobiles is a dollar stolen from them. They don't want "vision"; they want city government to open its eyes and acknowledge through its actions the real, sports-page-reading, Paris Hilton-crazed world that's staring them in the face.

You miss the point.


I think you may have missed the point.

If people want something to be done, if they want government to govern the way they want them to govern, nothing is ever going to change with a disengaged populace. You know the term about the squeaky wheel? That very much applies here.

The notion that paying attention requires too much time, and is best reserved for the retirees, the jobless, the lazy, or those with monetary interests, is false. It has to be or we're done. Again, this goes back to my point that the local media has lost it's way. If civic issues were given the prominence they deserve in TV and print, more people would have more relevant information. That said, many people make NO effort, and the responsibility rests with all of them.

These trends also affect the binds of shared community pride and civic responsibility. Beaverton is pitted against Portland, SE is pitted against SW, Mult Co. pitted against Eastern Oregon. The debates are framed with an adversarial tone, and the result is further gridlock and frustration. Should we be looking at each other with a wary eye, or should we be discussing a shared vision? Maybe Potter hit a home run, not a pop fly, with his vision quest... we'll only know if something comes of it.


So, by your lights, there ARE no basic responsibilities of municipal governments?

Were not "done", we're just in the boat we're in now. City governments have basic responsibilties that come ahead of responding to the organized, wealthy or loud. They should address these almost on autopilot and before anything else. This is not "Hey. let's all figure out how to run a city, guys - give me your input."". No one needs to re-invent the wheel here. There should be no need on the part of ANY city government to ask what these responsibiliies are. The areas you describe as "pitted against one another" are that way because dollars that should have been used to fund basic services have been diverted into fantasy projects. The media's attention would probably be helpful but shouldn't be necessary. There's no substitute for


Buddy, you made my point for me.

I don't think so, TK.

The responsibility I'm referring to rests with Portland's city government - which would be superfluous in your view - city bureaus could just ask the "engaged" what to do next.

I can't believe I'm having this inane conversation...

I think it's rather obvious that responsibility rests with both government as well as citizens. It's also pretty obvious that any government will go off the rails if it's not held accountable by citizens... not just the ones who decide to vote. Low voter turnout certainly doesn't help things.

What is there to debate about this?

So sorry to trouble you with inanity, my friend. Of course you are under no obligation to respond.

"It's also pretty obvious that any government will go off the rails if it's not held accountable by citizens... not just the ones who decide to vote."

My original point was that, given the inability of citizens to hold city government accountable on a day-to-day basis, undue unfluence skews toward those who have the time, money and motivation - but not necessarily the common good at heart. Given the "obvious" tendency of government that you mention, my suggestion was some sort of initiative with the goal of reining in the more egregious derailments of the city until basic needs are met.



I'm curious what "initiative" you envision to "rein in" politicians, outside the "usual" apparently, in your view, futile and failed, democratic processes?

A coup? A dictatorship? (oh yes, of course, benevolent dictators only need apply...)

TK (and, of course, my hubby) are absolutely right on. "The people" do hold the solution here. And yes, they will have to put down the remote, turn off Paris and the latest sports thingy --- and give their whole minds, good ones, really, to their responsibility to vote with knowledge and care and compassion. (BTW, in my reading of this thread you come off as the one with the bias against the "Paris Hilton" followers. You don't seem to believe they have the capacity to BE responsible for making resoned decisions during an election... Someone needs to take that burden off their tired shoulders, for them????)

And, yes, the media has a role here too, but you can't throw much of a party if no one comes. The burden is on all of us, the electorate of this city.

Love it or lose it.

Double (or would it be triple) teamed.

The straw men makes it six.

Of course I advocate a coup, since the democratic process is both futile and failed - what else? And why a benevolent dictator? You know we conservatives would prefer a Saddam-like leader.

I also appreciate your attempt to attack my (your) argument while trying condescendingly to hug those sports page readers and their minds "...their whole minds, good ones, really..." wonderful stuff, really!

The "sports thingy" unfortunately, casts just the tiniest shadow of your true attitude, however unintentionally.

And while your mischaracterization of my suggestion for some basic priorities in city government is colorful ("tired shoulders, etc."), it completely (and intentionally, I'd say) misses my point.

"You don't seem to believe they have the capacity to BE responsible for making resoned decisions during an election..."

On the contrary, If city government only made changes at election time, you'd have my vote. But we all know that's not how it works. At election time, we get all sweetness and light and very little reality. Knowing how it DOES work leads me to believe that some charter revisions which prioritize spending would help.

I know that's not popular with those "free spirits" at City Hall, but come on!

Oh, and "Love it or lose it."????

Careful of lawsuits; that's way too close to a phrase copyrighted by right wingnuts.

And it's as cheap a shot as it is when they use it.

My original point was that, given the inability of citizens to hold city government accountable on a day-to-day basis...

Now there you go again...

Why do you hold "citizens" in such low esteem? Of COURSE they can hold city government accountable...and they DO. And, yeah, not only every day, but in every transaction they have with the City.

These are people who expect basic services and little else from their city government and instead get little service and are basically ignored.

Really? Let's try an experiment.

Walk over to your sink. Turn on the tap. You get water coming out? (I was talking to a former Portlander yesterday, giving me a new address for her account. In Texas. "You can't drink the water out of the tap!" she complained to me.) We have great water.

Go flush your toilet, Rickyragg. Hey, you know what? Your flush went somewhere. And a lot of people are working hard to see it doesn't just go in the it used to.

Put your garbage out on the curb. If you're "engaged" enough, not only will that garbage disappear, but if you bother to separate out the recyclables...well, they're not going in the landfill.

You gonna tell me, Rickyragg, that you can't pull out of your driveway...and drive wherever you want to in this city? Please tell me what address you can't drive to!

Got a pain in your chest? Call think no one's gonna show? Or are city folks gonna take your call, and city-trained EMTs are gonna be on your doorstep in time to save your life?

The day-to-day grind gets done. Not always right, not always perfectly. but the tens of thousands of interactions every day --the banal, take-'em-for-granted day-to-day stuff happens.

When the City screws up --and they, we, DO screw up-- it's the anomaly. Those screw ups can be awful. Seriously awful. And, yeah, I'll agree we don't prioritize things right.

But...I've been in meetings with home owners who DON'T want their street "improved." (They like the potholes and gravel that slows drivers down.) I've been in meetings where what I think is a no-brainer, like putting in sidewalks...well, aren't I the little Pol Pot dictator from guvmint telling people what they need to do.

No...our government belongs to ALL of us and it can't be, shouldn't be, captured by the "special interests." But, also, there's a responsibility inherent in the relationship...if you want a democracy, you also have to be engaged and speak up.

And no, Rickyragg, I don't see myself as some "engaged" elitist. I'm married to the idea that our citizens have the power...if you exercise that power. But you gotta exercise...its good for the body politic.


You're a hard guy not to like, or disagree with. We don't disagree much, if at all. Your examples all refer to the functions of city government that should work on autopilot. For the most part they do - I've never disputed that. The thrust of my comments, probably less than eloquently put, is that those services should be the best they can be before we spend money on other stuff - and they aren't- your vignette about the gravel road thing notwithstanding. (I live on a gravel road in Portland, by the way, and you're right) I don't consider you an elitist nor have I called you one - I pointed out a comment that sounded elitist to me - and believe me I understand the difference - even if I misunderstood your comment.

I'm only now, in my mid-50's, becoming engaged; but it's in self-defense, not civic mindedness. My naivete about the fairness and priorities of city government in its many manifestations was finally overcome by the reality I tried to describe in my comments. The machine will run you over if you don't protect yourself. That's the perception of a lot of people besides me. And perception, my friend, IS reality.

Keep up the good work, which I have absolutely no doubt you will.


Thank You

PS: ask your wife, nicely, to lay off - she wields a mean rhetoric ;-)

that's ...not to agree with


PS: ask your wife, nicely, to lay off - she wields a mean rhetoric ;-)

Hey, she covers my back...


As a lawyer/blogger, I get
to be a member of:

In Vino Veritas

Lange, Pinot Gris 2015
Kiona, Lemberger 2014
Willamette Valley, Pinot Gris 2015
Aix, Rosé de Provence 2016
Marchigüe, Cabernet 2013
Inazío Irruzola, Getariako Txakolina Rosé 2015
Maso Canali, Pinot Grigio 2015
Campo Viejo, Rioja Reserva 2011
Kirkland, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2016
Cantele, Salice Salentino Reserva 2013
Whispering Angel, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2013
Avissi, Prosecco
Cleto Charli, Lambrusco di Sorbara Secco, Vecchia Modena
Pique Poul, Rosé 2016
Edmunds St. John, Bone-Jolly Rosé 2016
Stoller, Pinot Noir Rosé 2016
Chehalem, Inox Chardonnay 2015
The Four Graces, Pinot Gris 2015
Gascón, Colosal Red 2013
Cardwell Hill, Pinot Gris 2015
L'Ecole No. 41, Merlot 2013
Della Terra, Anonymus
Willamette Valley, Dijon Clone Chardonnay 2013
Wraith, Cabernet, Eidolon Estate 2012
Januik, Red 2015
Tomassi, Valpolicella, Rafaél, 2014
Sharecropper's Pinot Noir 2013
Helix, Pomatia Red Blend 2013
La Espera, Cabernet 2011
Campo Viejo, Rioja Reserva 2011
Villa Antinori, Toscana 2013
Locations, Spanish Red Wine
Locations, Argentinian Red Wine
La Antigua Clásico, Rioja 2011
Shatter, Grenache, Maury 2012
Argyle, Vintage Brut 2011
Abacela, Vintner's Blend #16 Abacela, Fiesta Tempranillo 2014
Benton Hill, Pinot Gris 2015
Primarius, Pinot Gris 2015
Januik, Merlot 2013
Napa Cellars, Cabernet 2013
J. Bookwalter, Protagonist 2012
LAN, Rioja Edicion Limitada 2011
Beaulieu, Cabernet, Rutherford 2009
Denada Cellars, Cabernet, Maipo Valley 2014
Marchigüe, Cabernet, Colchagua Valley 2013
Oberon, Cabernet 2014
Hedges, Red Mountain 2012
Balboa, Rose of Grenache 2015
Ontañón, Rioja Reserva 2015
Three Horse Ranch, Pinot Gris 2014
Archery Summit, Vireton Pinot Gris 2014
Nelms Road, Merlot 2013
Chateau Ste. Michelle, Pinot Gris 2014
Conn Creek, Cabernet, Napa 2012
Conn Creek, Cabernet, Napa 2013
Villa Maria, Sauvignon Blanc 2015
G3, Cabernet 2013
Chateau Smith, Cabernet, Washington State 2014
Abacela, Vintner's Blend #16
Willamette Valley, Rose of Pinot Noir, Whole Clusters 2015
Albero, Bobal Rose 2015
Ca' del Baio Barbaresco Valgrande 2012
Goodfellow, Reserve Pinot Gris, Clover 2014
Lugana, San Benedetto 2014
Wente, Cabernet, Charles Wetmore 2011
La Espera, Cabernet 2011
King Estate, Pinot Gris 2015
Adelsheim, Pinot Gris 2015
Trader Joe's, Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley 2015
La Vite Lucente, Toscana Red 2013
St. Francis, Cabernet, Sonoma 2013
Kendall-Jackson, Pinot Noir, California 2013
Beaulieu, Cabernet, Napa Valley 2013
Erath, Pinot Noir, Estate Selection 2012
Abbot's Table, Columbia Valley 2014
Intrinsic, Cabernet 2014
Oyster Bay, Pinot Noir 2010
Occhipinti, SP68 Bianco 2014
Layer Cake, Shiraz 2013
Desert Wind, Ruah 2011
WillaKenzie, Pinot Gris 2014
Abacela, Fiesta Tempranillo 2013
Des Amis, Rose 2014
Dunham, Trautina 2012
RoxyAnn, Claret 2012
Del Ri, Claret 2012
Stoppa, Emilia, Red 2004
Primarius, Pinot Noir 2013
Domaines Bunan, Bandol Rose 2015
Albero, Bobal Rose 2015
Deer Creek, Pinot Gris 2015
Beaulieu, Rutherford Cabernet 2013
Archery Summit, Vireton Pinot Gris 2014
King Estate, Pinot Gris, Backbone 2014
Oberon, Napa Cabernet 2013
Apaltagua, Envero Carmenere Gran Reserva 2013
Chateau des Arnauds, Cuvee des Capucins 2012
Nine Hats, Red 2013
Benziger, Cabernet, Sonoma 2012
Roxy Ann, Claret 2012
Januik, Merlot 2012
Conundrum, White 2013
St. Francis, Sonoma Cabernet 2012

The Occasional Book

Marc Maron - Waiting for the Punch
Phil Stanford - Rose City Vice
Kenneth R. Feinberg - What is Life Worth?
Kent Haruf - Our Souls at Night
Peter Carey - True History of the Kelly Gang
Suzanne Collins - The Hunger Games
Amy Stewart - Girl Waits With Gun
Philip Roth - The Plot Against America
Norm Macdonald - Based on a True Story
Christopher Buckley - Boomsday
Ryan Holiday - The Obstacle is the Way
Ruth Sepetys - Between Shades of Gray
Richard Adams - Watership Down
Claire Vaye Watkins - Gold Fame Citrus
Markus Zusak - I am the Messenger
Anthony Doerr - All the Light We Cannot See
James Joyce - Dubliners
Cheryl Strayed - Torch
William Golding - Lord of the Flies
Saul Bellow - Mister Sammler's Planet
Phil Stanford - White House Call Girl
John Kaplan & Jon R. Waltz - The Trial of Jack Ruby
Kent Haruf - Eventide
David Halberstam - Summer of '49
Norman Mailer - The Naked and the Dead
Maria Dermoȗt - The Ten Thousand Things
William Faulkner - As I Lay Dying
Markus Zusak - The Book Thief
Christopher Buckley - Thank You for Smoking
William Shakespeare - Othello
Joseph Conrad - Heart of Darkness
Bill Bryson - A Short History of Nearly Everything
Cheryl Strayed - Tiny Beautiful Things
Sara Varon - Bake Sale
Stephen King - 11/22/63
Paul Goldstein - Errors and Omissions
Mark Twain - A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
Steve Martin - Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life
Beverly Cleary - A Girl from Yamhill, a Memoir
Kent Haruf - Plainsong
Hope Larson - A Wrinkle in Time, the Graphic Novel
Rudyard Kipling - Kim
Peter Ames Carlin - Bruce
Fran Cannon Slayton - When the Whistle Blows
Neil Young - Waging Heavy Peace
Mark Bego - Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul (2012 ed.)
Jenny Lawson - Let's Pretend This Never Happened
J.D. Salinger - Franny and Zooey
Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol
Timothy Egan - The Big Burn
Deborah Eisenberg - Transactions in a Foreign Currency
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. - Slaughterhouse Five
Kathryn Lance - Pandora's Genes
Cheryl Strayed - Wild
Fyodor Dostoyevsky - The Brothers Karamazov
Jack London - The House of Pride, and Other Tales of Hawaii
Jack Walker - The Extraordinary Rendition of Vincent Dellamaria
Colum McCann - Let the Great World Spin
Niccolò Machiavelli - The Prince
Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird
Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus - The Nanny Diaries
Brian Selznick - The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Sharon Creech - Walk Two Moons
Keith Richards - Life
F. Sionil Jose - Dusk
Natalie Babbitt - Tuck Everlasting
Justin Halpern - S#*t My Dad Says
Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
Barry Glassner - The Gospel of Food
Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
Jesse Katz - The Opposite Field
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice
Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Mitch Albom - Have a Little Faith
C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 5
At this date last year: 3
Total run in 2017: 113
In 2016: 155
In 2015: 271
In 2014: 401
In 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269

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