Government in action
Good news! Multnomah County's jail problems have been solved. The county commissioners are going to take a personal tour of the jails every year, and that will make the issues disappear. That's a relief.
|For old times' sake|
The bojack bumper sticker -- only $1.50!
To order, click here.
Good news! Multnomah County's jail problems have been solved. The county commissioners are going to take a personal tour of the jails every year, and that will make the issues disappear. That's a relief.
Here's a car I'd like to get my hands on.
As blueblood neighborhoods in Portland go, nowhere does the blood flow bluer than in groovy Dunthorpe. And some of the zillionaires down there have looked up from their Pimm's cups and noticed that they're talking about putting a streetcar through the rail corridor next to Highway 43. OMG!
But have no fear. As LocalNewsDaily gets around to explaining toward the end of this article, the fix is in, as usual:
Opposition to streetcar, if approved, is expected from areas of the Dunthorpe and Birdshill neighborhoods, which lie just north of Lake Oswego on the streetcar’s proposed route through Portland.Translation: Sleep tight, Brahmin. If the Oswegans want a streetcar, let them drive over to Capitol Highway to get on it.
In Dunthorpe, some residents have threatened to take a fight against a streetcar to the courtroom. Others have shown support.
Meanwhile, Metro officials aim to approve a project that has the most benefits for the region long-term.
Metro Council President David Bragdon, eyeing potential problems, said he would weigh streetcar obstacles against regional transportation needs while setting priorities for new projects.
“I think we need to do some modeling on what the ridership would be but my hunch is that the studies would show that the projected ridership – based on population, demographics, current ridership, etc. – in that market would be less than on the Portland-Milwaukie or Portland-Tigard (Barbur) line.”
That sweetheart deal (to put it politely) between the Portland Development Commission and Trammell Crow for a condo tower on the old Police Headquarters property is on the rocks. It seems the deeper that Fireman Randy digs into the documentation on that stinker, the less interested PDC is in going through with it:
Leonard said Wednesday that both the negative appraisal and the affordable housing requirements were "complete shams." He said he would welcome a straightforward approach that clearly lays out the pros and cons of subsidizing the development. But he plans to keep pursuing a city audit of the deal and a separate appraisal.Memo to the PDC: Cave in to the construction workers' unions, and your troubles at City Hall will magically disappear.
"I'm not willing to just kiss it off at this point and say they've learned their lesson," Leonard said.
Memo to Trammell Crow: Between the tax abatement for the Alexan, which bombed, and this, it appears you need some help with the City Council. Better give The Scone a call.
Memo to Fireman Randy: Go get 'em, man.
Most of my professional reading has to do with taxes -- dense stuff, and dry as static most of the time. Last night I stumbled across an interesting piece, though. It was about the policy implications of tax incentives for alternative fuels -- ethanol in particular. And the author spent plenty of space educating us tax types about the basics of ethanol fuels as well as the tax rules that surround them.
The guy did not seem to have an ax to grind, and so I read the article with great interest. (Alas, no free link is available.) In it, I learned:
-- Ethanol is being mixed into gasoline as a replacement for MTBE, which was a replacement for lead. They all prevent engine knocking.
-- A study has shown that it takes more than three times as much fossil fuel energy to produce corn ethanol as it does to refine gasoline.
-- At an estimated U.S. production level of 9.8 billion gallons of ethanol in 2015, it will still be dwarfed by gasoline consumption of 160 billion gallons.
-- Even if all the available corn in the United States (5.95 bushels out of 15.05 billion bushels grown) is dedicated to ethanol production in 2015, it will produce only 17.9 billion gallons of ethanol.
-- Other than corn, the potential sources of ethanol are sugar and cellulose.
-- The United States isn't a great place to grow sugar, mostly because of the climate.
-- The government is working hard on finding a way to convert cellulose -- the ubiquitous basic building block of plants, and the most common organic compound on the planet -- into sugar. There's a demonstration plant on this in Ottawa.
-- Cellulosic ethanol takes far less fossil fuel to produce than corn ethanol does. And cellulosic reduces greenhouse gases much more efficiently than corn ethanol does.
-- If cellulose ethanol becomes a reality, about 1.3 billion tons of ethanol "feedstock" could be generated in this country every year.
And here's the part at which I really sat up and took notice:
-- "Of those 1.3 billion tons, one quarter would come from forests and forest products."
I've always wondered whether George Bush (a.k.a. Chimpy McFlightsuit) ever admitted he was wrong, and if so, how he went about it. Apparently, he does so only when forced to by the people he works for, and even then he hides behind some pretext or other.
I've got a report for you, genius. The "mission" is "accomplished" -- tens of thousands are dead, Iraq is in civil war, civil liberties at home have been abused, and the world pretty much hates us. You're a failure. Can we bring our kids home alive now?
Looks like the Floating Twinkies are going to have a "concierge":
DescriptionHmmm, "procedures required for efficient and safe use of the Tram. This includes Tram safety regulations, boarding process, and materials transport." "Materials transport"? I wonder what's going to be prohibited. But I note that the "concierge" will be working only on weekdays -- will contraband be the order of the day on weekends?
This position provides all riders of the Portland Aerial Tramway with a broad range of customer services. These customer services include, but are not limited to, information regarding Tramway fare instruments, way finding, and Tram educational materials. In addition, employees in this position assist with the resolution of public relations issues by referral to appropriate higher-level staff. The Tram Concierge is also responsible to advise, when necessary, Tram riders concerning adherence to procedures required for efficient and safe use of the Tram. This includes Tram safety regulations, boarding process, and materials transport. In instances of planned and unplanned shutdown during scheduled operations hours, the Tram Concierge will assist OHSU employees and patients to efficiently utilize the shuttle service.
Two years of experience in customer service relations, one year of which must have included interpretation and explanation of rules, regulations and policies and responsibility for dealing with unique or unusual situations. Demonstrated excellent customer service skills. Ability to enforce and interpret Tram standard operating procedures. Demonstrated ability to problem solve, and deal with conflict. Strong verbal and written communication skills. Ability to function outdoors in weather is important. Standing and walking for long periods of time. Pushing wheelchairs occupied by Tram riders.
Schedule and Salary Range
Monday-Friday, TBD; 1.0 FTE; Salary Range: $11.50-15.29/hour.
The author of Skull/Bones weighs in on the downtown Portland fur protests today, ending with a splendid suggestion:
I myself have the dream of organizing a large and sustained picket of as non-controversial a business as there is, just for dada-esque amusement… but that will continue to remain in the realm of my fevered imagination.Hey, this is Oregon -- we love dreamers! Let's make it a reality.
But "a large and sustained picket of as non-controversial a business as there is" -- where would that be? In these days of PC and Lars, what would be the quintessential "non-controversial business" -- one that you couldn't fairly criticize in any way? Shoe repair shop? Florist? Dentist?
Let's take time out for a musical interlude -- going back to the very beginnings of rock and roll via some fine YouTube gems.
Lots of stuff crossing the main desk here at Blog Central today about Oregon's generous pension system for public employees throughout the state. A story in the Salem Statesman-Journal caught Gordy's eye down at RoguePundit yesterday. It's pretty eye-opening. Public employees retire at around age 59 on average, but quite a few at age 53, and many make more per month retired than they did when they were working.
Yes, there have been reforms in recent years -- bitterly opposed by the bureaucrats whose pensions they have cut -- but it's still a pretty darn cushy system. On behalf of all the state's taxpayers, let me just say to you PERSians out there, you're welcome.
Meanwhile, a recipient of this taxpayer largesse -- a participant in PERS -- writes:
When I called PERS to check on my account, I found out the latest wrinkle (to me) in the heads-public-employees-win, tails-taxpayers-lose system down there. (Not that a decent retirement shouldn't be a goal of all employees. . . .)What do you think of that suggestion? It makes too much common sense ever to be adopted, I suspect.
At the end of the year, when they credit your account for earnings, what account balance do they use for the entire year's earnings? The final balance. So if you earn 8 percent, that's 8 percent of the final (highest) balance of the year. If you start the year with $0 and end up with $5,000, you get the interest on the full $5,000. Never mind the average daily balance of $2,500.
Why can't they calculate interest like any checking account or credit card balance -- on the average annual or monthly balance?
It probably is a small amount per account, but small amounts add up when you're talking tens of thousands of accounts.
Reports out of this morning's Portland City Council meeting are that the boys at City Hall, sensing the imminent breakup of the current Multnomah County commission lineup, are picking up the Mantle of Dysfunction. Meow! The spat is over the latest water billing switcheroo, which we blogged about here several weeks ago. Apparently Big Pipe and Fireman Randy are going at it. It's all supposed to calm down at 2:00, but that remains to be seen.
Meanwhile, they're throwing the rest of the eight figures of budget increases around like it's nothing. They substituted a whole new proposal right before this morning's hearing, based on the work session (no public testimony) yesterday. But hey, it's just our money, why would the public get any opportunity to make meaningful suggestions? Meanwhile, back to the back-biting.
Remember Brandon Mayfield, the guy whom the feds locked up on false accusations of terrorism? Looks like he and his lawyers (including Gerry Spence) are collecting a cool two million dollars in partial settlement of his case against the U.S. government. LocalNewsDaily has it here.
After paying Spence, the Mayfield family will probably have enough left over for a Blazer game.
Apparently the name Depoe Bay is a trademark infringement of "eBay," or so say the lawyers.
I'm surprised that Home Depot hasn't jumped in on the intellectual property madness.
When they write the history of the decline and fall of American civilization, this kind of soul-sapping incident will be in there prominently.
The missing tiles on Alberta Street have turned up safe and sound. They were taken down by a Good Samaritan who thought they were falling into disrepair and might get lost. He left them in good hands; the word just hadn't gotten to their rightful custodian by the time the story hit the news (and this blog). Ryan Frank has the story here (scroll down).
Now that's the Portland I love.
More members of our wonderful state legislature are having their memories jogged about junkets they've taken on lobbyists' dimes. You're supposed to report these trips, but when you're busy six months out of every two years letting the state go to pieces, it's hard to remember them all.
The latest batch of clods only got as far as Idaho. The earlier cadre made it all the way to Maui and Israel without noticing.
Here's a good one.
Has anybody heard what's new with the State of Oregon's criminal investigation into the apparent fraud in "clean money" signature- and donation-gathering for disgraced Portland City Council candidate Emilie Boyles? I seem to recall that a state grand jury was supposed to reach a conclusion by the end of the month -- that's this Thursday.
Meanwhile, over on Ms. Boyles's website, there's an entry dated November 20, referring to "Monday's indictment process." Did I miss something?
Here's a match made in heaven -- the Portland Development Commission and a private tow truck operator. The PDC is looking to hire one of these fine contractors to patrol the agency's vacant lots and tow away unauthorized cars. The bid notice is here.
According to this document, if you get towed from a PDC lot and you disagree with the tow truck operator's version of events, you can appeal to a staff member at the PDC. I can't imagine a worse day on the phone.
Be that as it may, scroll all the way down to the end of the notice and take a gander at the PDC's many vacant lots. Mmmm, no property taxes coming in from any of those! There ought to be a law that after three years of vacancy, the PDC has to sell any lot it had acquired to the highest taxpaying bidder, and take the sales proceeds (if not the resulting property taxes) and put it toward the police and fire pension debt before it bankrupts us.
A reader who really keeps up with the shenanigans at Portland City Hall sent me an e-mail message the other day, pointing me to this chubby document (pdf) -- an official analysis of the city's current budget situation in light of the "surplus" they're anticipating over the originally approved budget for the year. The paper is dated last Monday, and there's an agenda item on this coming Wednesday's City Council agenda that reads: "Adopt the FY 2006-07 fall major supplemental budget in the amount of $10,926,075 and make budget amendments in three funds (Ordinance introduced by Mayor Potter)." Apparently the two are related, but you have to do a fair amount of clicking on the city's website to navigate between them both. Would it kill the city to put links to the underlying documents right in the agenda? Maybe MetroFi and Microsoft could help...
Anyway, our correspondent skimmed through the whole 170 pages, and points up a couple of eye-openers:
On page 22, the appropriation for the Floating Twinkies (PHART) [rim shot] is increased by $9.1 million. It says it does not increase the total cost of the project -- presumably this is the deal from earlier in the year. Anyway, that might appear to take most of the total of $10.9 million in extra money being allocated by the recommendations of the Office of Finance & Management, except at the bottom of page 42 it says the money is coming out of the LID fund and be "offset by an increase in LID Note Sale revenues." Who knows what's really going behind the smoke and mirrors?
Page 46 has some interesting stuff. Remember when Fireman Randy recently seized control of water billing, putting it back under his water bureau, and taking it away from the revenue bureau? Apparently that will cost the city an extra $240,000 a year due to not being able to share support staff and a supervisor. And check out page 47 -- the revenue bureau took out a lease on more space for the billing personnel, to 2011, leaving them holding the tab for $103,000 for six months until June 2007, and no idea what they're going to do with the extra space through 2011. Oops.
On page 52, we're about to spend $83,000 for the Bureau of Planning to move from the 3rd floor of the 1900 SW 4th building to the 7th floor. This includes $20,000 for temporary staff to archive a backlog of files before the move. I'd pay more to move them to Boise.
And on page 129, the usually bland report steps a little out of character to speak plain English: "Employee satisfaction within the Parks Bureau continues to decline dramatically. Last year's decline was attributed to a major reorganization that took place, but it is disconcerting that this trend is continuing." Indeed, the parks bureau has turned "disconcerting" into an art form.
But hey! Why read a snarky little summary here, when there are 170 pages just waiting to fill you with reading pleasure? As they say, read the whole thing. I dare you to try. Even if you don't make it all the way through, let us know what you noticed before your head hit the keyboard.
UPDATE, 4:35 p.m.: LocalNewsDaily has picked up on the water billing story. Some days I think I should send the local media an invoice for freelance assignment editor work.
Now that the tryptophan is wearing off and folks are returning to work, where some of the best blog reading is done, here's a quick update on what's been going on here over the long weekend, while most of our readers had their computers turned off and were living their real lives:
And what's a holiday without some sweet music?
Which brings us back to this workaday Monday, and here in Portland both a (relatively) cold snap and the beginning of the end of the wettest November on record. It's cold, but at least it's really damp.
From our three-year-old: I'll take that no as a yes.
Well, where the heck have I been? You want a beautiful blog by a Portlander? Go no further than Posie Gets Cozy by Alicia Paulson. The photos alone are good enough to eat, especially this shot of a ride with some shining, happy Portlanders as they go by streetcar. (Via Lao Ocean Girl, who's no slouch, either.)
We had a small gift certificate to burn, and so the Mrs. and I had dinner at Jake's Famous Crawfish last night. It was just what we expected, no better and no worse. Which is to say, pretty darn good.
After dinner, waddling about, we retired for port to Pour over at NE 28th and Broadway. There we discussed, among other things, our appalling lack of physical exercise in recent months. We made a few early resolutions about that, and will be rejoining the ranks of the sweaty this week. It's been nice goofing off in that department for a while, but there's no free lunch. You either spend time working out, or reserve that time for doctors' waiting rooms and hospitals.
I wonder how long they'll be looking for this.
I spend the end of my day, unable to sleep, not thinking about the complicated parts, but giving time only to the sweet parts and the loving parts, sending her something loving and peaceful and painfree, saying to her, "I love you and you can go on to the next place, whatever you want it to be, and hopefully they will have 'hey good lookin' and coffee and lots and lots of food because I know you love to eat. Don't hang around for us, we'll be fine."The whole thing is here.
Think, too, who comes to eat
that bird. Those whose faces look like
yours; those nearly-yous and knew you
whens; those have your same ill eases.
Bad news -- the fabulous Betsy's site, My Whim is Law, has been hacked and is currently lying in pieces on the ground. Having been through something like this myself recently, I feel her pain, acutely. She's a brilliant blogger, and it won't be long before she's back, I'm sure. But these rehabs don't happen by themselves. The blogger must spend countless frustrating hours fussing with "divs" and "css" and "MySQL" and all sorts of nasty, nasty stuff. Don't beat yourself up too badly, Betsy! We will wait for you.
A good while back (hard to believe how long we've been at this) we wrote here about the Cat Warning System, a system of lights that we and our neighbor had devised to keep our cats from meeting outside for mortal combat. Recently there was a breach of security -- our guy escaped without his light being on, and he put another hurtin' on the victim down the street -- and now even worse news: the neighbor cat is on his last legs. Not due to his battle wounds, but due to internal failings. To say that his outdoor days are over is an understatement.
And so the CWS is officially retired, but I can't say it feels the least bit good. Having lost a feline friend last Christmas (that's her remains in the plain wooden box on my desk), I know that it's a rough time over there.
I'm sure that there is some profound parallel here to world affairs, but it's not coming to me so readily. Maybe during a long winter's nap, I'll see the lesson that I'm supposed to be taught. Meanwhile, that remote switch we've been using for Ralphie's light should come in handy for the lights on the Christmas tree.
Proving once again that it's a good thing I'm not a gambling man, the New Jersey Nets took a pretty bad beating again tonight in Phoenix. After their loss to the Blazers on Wednesday, I predicted that the Nets would come roaring back. Was I ever wrong.
The Nets bench made it interesting at the end after their team's starters had been blown out. But they just don't have what it takes in the Big Man Department (Mikey Moore looked pretty bad), and their shooters' arsenal wasn't near enough. Given the contracts they're saddled with, there doesn't seem to be a way for New Jersey to bargain for a quality power player. If I were their coach, I wouldn't be making too many long-term personal plans.
And so my nephew's first road trip with the team was a tough one.
Multnomah County's Sheriff Bernie has an idea to raise some money for local jails: lease some of the county's medium-security jail space to a private firm that runs prisons, and let them bring in prisoners from out of state. The county could use the rent money to operate Wapato Jail, its expensive miscreant Marriott that's never opened due to the lack of funding.
No, Paul Allen is not involved in this particular importation of inmates. It's a private jail outfit called Geo Group, whose stock is publicly traded. Already lining up against the plan: a public employees union. They're just looking out for their own, if you AFSCME.
How a hotbed of "progressivism" like Portland could privatize corrections facilities is baffling -- unless, of course, there's something in it for the city's rich and powerful. Sheriff Bernie knows all about them. It will be interesting to see how the new members of the county commission -- Ted Wheeler and Jeff Cogen -- react.
The other night I stumbled across a good chunk of a James Bond movie on cable. Pierce Brosnan and Hallie Berry were amping it up and camping it up. The whole thing was ridiculous.
I didn't realize at the time that there was a real-life spy story playing itself out in London, Moscow, and St. Petersburg. The latest chapter in that one is sad.
Willamette Week has been claiming control over all the "facts" in the killing of James Chasse Jr. by the Portland police on Sep. 17. And it seems awfully quick to reinforce the official view of Chasse's death, as told by the state medical examiner.
This week the Double Dub even went so far as to publish this:
Did police beat James Chasse Jr. to death?And why is that?
It's not totally clear, but probably not.
None of the interviews with a half-dozen civilian witnesses details a higher level of violence than the three officers involved described in their statements: several punches and kicks and the application of a Taser (which didn't seem to have much effect).That gets WW to "probably not" as a fact.
State Medical Examiner Karen Gunson says the massive injuries to Chasse's chest were not consistent with individual punches and kicks. The injuries are consistent with what most witnesses described: one or more officers landing on top of Chasse.
The article does not refer explicitly to the witnesses who filed complaints of police brutality immediately after the killing. As reported by Maxine Bernstein of the O on Sep. 21:
The Rev. Randall Stuart, who is directing the season opener at Artists Repertory Theater, was walking with his friend Constance Doolan, an elementary-school music teacher visiting from Oakland, Calif., when they watched the violent encounter...I think repeated kicks to a downed man's rib cage could break his ribs and puncture his lung. And although that may not square with the state medical examiner's conclusions, if I were a journalist writing about this I don't think I'd accept at face value what I read from the medical examiner. That official, who owes her job and her budget to the police, didn't assuage anyone's suspicions of general bias in this case when she branded Chasse's death an "accident."
The man was yelling, "I won't, I won't. I won't get on my stomach," and kept struggling with the officers, the witnesses said.
At some point, they said, the man tried to bite an officer, and an officer repeatedly kicked the man somewhere in the upper midsection of his body and struck him with his hand.
I don't know all the details of exactly what happened that awful evening. But unlike Wily Week, I can't get to "probably not death by beating," and I don't see how they can.
A civil lawsuit will determine what caused Chasse's death, if the city doesn't settle the case for big bucks first. Until then, one can certainly say that he was killed by excessive force and inexcusable neglect by an officer with a singular history of violence. Beaten or kicked to death? Maybe, maybe not.
The second half of 2006 has been a wild and woolly time for me -- so much so that I haven't had time to compile a worthy photo essay to illustrate what I'm thankful for this year. Fortunately, I have a few years of older posts to fall back on -- for that I'm thankful! Here's what I said in 2004, and this was the entry in 2003. There's more this year, but my turkey awaits, and these will have to do.
Memo to Portlanders: Be very, very careful around this year's Trail Blazers. For if you open up your eyes and hearts to these guys, you may find yourself in love again.
We were once again graced with complimentary tickets, tonight for a game against the New Jersey Nets -- four seats this time, as opposed to the usual two -- and the whole family went and had a great evening. The home team played quite well, especially considering their youth, and they defeated a Nets squad (with two legitimate Hall of Fame candidates aboard) for the second time in less than a week. If you're serious about hoops, you have to sit up and take notice.
It was a classic NBA script, and with Bennett Salvatore's crew refereeing, that script usually seems to play out in the end. Home team falls behind early, comes close to the visitor a few times but keeps falling back, then stages a rally over the last few minutes and pulls out a close one. Championship Wrestling has nothing on the NBA, and tonight was a perfect example. One of my favorite people on the planet, the judge I clerked for ages ago, used to say of American pro basketball, "They should just spot both teams 100 points and play the last two minutes." Tonight it was 90 points each and the last three minutes, but his comment was proven deadly accurate, for the umpteenth time.
The crowd was sparse -- not as many fannies in the seats as at the Dallas game -- but they were much more partisan and a whole lot louder than against the Mavericks. The excitement level in the fourth quarter was right up there with some of the classic Blazer games I have attended over the last 28 years, but with far fewer fans there to partake.
There is nary a discouraging word to utter about the Portland team's performance in this one, and so let me start with an emerging truth: Hustle is back. Remember what an offensive rebound looked like back in the day? This squad is actually out there snagging those. Rookie LaMarcus Aldridge knows his way around the offensive glass, and a missed Blazer shot is no longer an automatic run down to the other end. Zach Randolph is in on that action as well, and tonight even Jamaal Magloire, whose effort against Dallas seemed a little dull to me, was a force inside.
In the backcourt, I've got news for you, and his name is Sergio. When nothing was working for the Blazers in the second quarter, coach Nate McMiilan moved Jarrett Jack from point guard to shooting guard and inserted Spaniard Sergio Rodriguez into the lineup at the point. That kid can distribute the ball. He made every other Blazer on the floor look better, and the offense clicked its way back from something like 14 points down to a very close game. Way to go, Sergio. (But work on those 3-point shots -- the air balls are a bit disconcerting.)
Jack resumed the point duties in the second half, and he turned out to be the key to the Blazers' success, with 17 points, 5 assists and even 3 rebounds. Travis Outlaw was out there for a long time, and he also turned in a pretty good show, including 13 points.
For all the mess he's created for himself off the court, self-professed gangsta thug Zach Randolph is having a monster year; nobody in the league really knows what to do about him. The key Portland plays down the stretch were all either by or through Zach, and he made each and every one of his 9 free throws. I hope he can clean up his act and stay here. He's an All-Star.
Ime Udoka played pretty well, not that it shows up in the stats. He got into foul trouble and kind of lost it toward the end. Salvatore whistled him for some nonsense call, and an upset Udoka promptly followed it up with an obvious foul that got him disqualified. He seemed to let the refs get to him, which is never a good thing to do.
Martell Webster is playing hurt. After the Dallas game, I wondered aloud why his playing time was limited and why he was carrying himself so gingerly. Turns out, it's back spasms. He, too, seems a bit frustrated out there, especially when the officiating crew is calling a foul on him for breathing too hard on guys like Vince Carter and Jason Kidd. If I were he, I'd stop reading the media rap that he's "struggling," and just try to get whatever I could out of a season in which I was injured. The Blazers made a big p.r. point out of Martell's weight training regimen over the summer. Well, now it's screwed up his back. His heart was in the right place. We know that we're going to have to wait a while before he can shoot everybody's lights out again. We're willing to wait, and he needs to be willing to do so as well.
On to the Nets. Man, they have one heck of an amazing lineup out there when it comes to fundamentals: Jason Kidd passing to Vince Carter, with Richard Jefferson standing by to pump in 20 or so when he's left open. You would think that that could be made into a winning formula. But so far, it hasn't been, and Kidd and Carter aren't getting any younger. Losing twice in quick succession to Portland has got to be a major bummer for them. I'd hate to be Phoenix, who's got to play them next. The Nets are going to be out there trying to prove something, especially to themselves.
O.k. if you're still with me after all that, there's more -- a lot more, actually. And so next let's get on with the obligatory blurry photos that I always take at the game. Since this was a rare occasion in which all the Portland Bogdanskis were on hand, here are some shots of us enjoying the Blazer scene:
The Blazers beat the New Jersey Nets tonight for the second time in five days, 100-97. It was another fantastic night at the Rose Garden. The good old feelings about the team are definitely stirring. Film at 11 -- no, wait, it already is 11. Details pending later tonight.
My nephew's in town on business today, and we went out to lunch downtown together. I thought we'd get something special if we went to Pazzo. I was disappointed. Given the high regard in which I have held that kitchen, it was some pretty uninspired stuff, across three courses. And two of them were specials of the day! I won't be back there for lunch again any time soon. Meanwhile, I suspect he'll tell the folks back home that the food here is like the weather...
We are back at the hacienda, having had an uneventful flight up from Bagdad by the Bay.
I even took the light rail in from the airport -- something I hadn't done before. The first couple of stops on the way in are hysterical. They're these complete MAX stations in the middle of nowhere -- nothing but beat-up, empty fields all around. Real estate so forlorn, even the condo buzzards aren't circling over it. Why the train stops there is anybody's guess -- maybe to get somebody interested in buying the land.
Anyway, better on the train than on the Portland freeways today. The intersection of I-84 and I-205 looked pretty gummed up in every direction. Made a good connection to the bus, which was right on time, and even got a Peet's coffee in between. It's all good.
Well we got there and there was a big sign and a chain across across the dump saying, "Closed on Thanksgiving." And we had never heard of a dump closed on Thanksgiving before, and with tears in our eyes we drove off into the sunset looking for another place to put the garbage.Read the whole thing (and sing along at the end) here.
We're coming to you live from Terminal 3 at San Francisco International Airport. It's the morning rush hour on the busiest travel day of the year. Despite lots of amateur flyers out here, dutifully fingering their little baggies of teeny shampoo bottles, everything is functioning pretty smoothly. The six bucks to get wi-fi access makes one miss Portland, however. With any luck I'll be back there in a couple of hours.
...or I'll release the lactobacillus acidophilus.
More tobacco marketing to kids -- and now they're singling out Portland.
Just a quick follow-up to the post of the other day about that slick advertising tabloid, Oregon Super Lawyers of 2006. Not only did I get one in my Sunday newspaper, but I also received one in the mail at work; presumably, every member of the Oregon bar got one by direct mail. And get this -- the mailed one had a different cover from the one inserted into the paper:
Except for the covers, the contents looked the same on quick perusal.
But man, that is one serious hunk of dough that they dropped in publishing and circulating that thing. Did they really sell enough vanity ads to pay for all that?
Here's an interesting story from yesterday's LocalNewsDaily.com -- they finally have a winner in that Clackamas County commissioner race:
As of Monday, Nov. 20, [Lynn] Peterson led [Larry] Sowa 64,442 votes to 63,188 – a difference of 1,254 votes. According to County Clerk Sherry Hall, that’s a deficit from which Sowa could not recover, with fewer than 500 uncounted ballots remaining.What's most interesting to me is not the outcome -- it's the fact that nearly two weeks after the election, there were still "fewer than 500 uncounted ballots remaining."
For crying out loud, people, how long does it take to count 500 ballots? Why doesn't somebody in the elections office take a break from tallying up their PERS pensions, get off their duffs, and count the darn things? This should have been settled the day after the election.
People complain about the crooked voting machines in some states. Out here the problem seems to be of a more human dimension.
The sinister Portland bureaucrat shinola with the city's parks -- Mount Tabor in particular -- just keeps coming.
Here's an example: a City Council agenda item that recently surfaced as being on for the council meeting of the 29th. Now it's suddenly been moved up to Nov. 22nd -- this Wednesday -- so that it can be rammed through. It's supposedly an uneventful little item about maintenance, but it's the tip of whole secret-parks-reorganization iceberg. And it coincides with the recently exposed Mount Tabor Park giveaway (lease-away) that will close down the park maintenance and nursery operations at Tabor, and prime the parkland there for a Warner Pacific College gym and/or some condo developments. Notice of the rescheduling just went out earlier today:
PORTLAND CITY COUNCIL AGENDAApparently, this ordinance would fund repairs at three other maintenance facilities, but leave nothing for the Mount Tabor yard.
City Hall - 1221 SW Fourth Avenue
WEDNESDAY, 9:30 AM, NOVEMBER 22, 2006
Commissioner Dan Saltzman
*1583 Amend the FY 2006-07 budget to appropriate $650,000 to Portland
Parks and Recreation for immediate repairs to maintenance facilities
Hmmm, day before Thanksgiving, rush-rush jerk-around on the timing, less than 48 hours' notice... It's pretty clear to me that Zari Santner, Robin Grimwade, and the rest of the hacks running the Parks Bureau could care less what the public thinks about their backroom plans to reorganize the parks in secret. And those bureaucrats are affirmatively doing all that they can to keep the public from being heard on these vital issues.
Fireman Randy has already called bullsh*t on them once this month. Looks like he'll have to make that a weekly affair. Somebody has big plans for Portland's parks, and they obviously don't want Portland's residents to see them until it's too late to stop them.
UPDATE, 11/21, 12:27 a.m.: Jim Redden over at the Trib has a strong piece on the Tabor maintenance yard in today's paper.
A rare moment of sanity in the 21st Century publishing and television industries.
How long will it take the newly emboldened National Democratic Party to self-destruct? It hasn't been even two weeks since the election, and already we've had Nancy of the Aquablue Pantsuit completely screwing up the election of the House majority leader. There she was, fresh from a good slapping from her own colleagues, with that fake smile, grinding those pearly capped teeth and shrieking "Let the healing begin." Egad. Even Maureen Dowd's worried after that one.
Now Charlie Rangel's going to introduce a bill to reinstitute the draft. There's a winner. What else? I'm sure that as Ways and Means chair, he'll wheel out a bunch of tax increases after the holidays -- beyond rolling back some of the Bush excesses. Not that the proposals will actually go anywhere -- just enough to turn centrists off.
Meanwhile, the Parade of Horribles for the presidential nomination is already in full swing: Lurch Kerry, Hillary of the Black Pantsuit with the Pink Blouse That's Going to Walk Away on Its Own Pretty Soon, Joe Is He Freakin' Kiddin' Biden, Wes Perot Clark. And the noncandidates whose fans won't give it up -- Lurch Gore, Yee-Hah Dean. Don't forget the court jesters who aren't going anywhere, including getting off the stage -- Murtha, Fat Ted, Sharpton. Something for everyone -- to reject.
I'll likely vote for whoever they run against the Republicans, but already I can see that it's going to be an uphill battle. Above all, the Dems need to be thinking "win" rather than "prove we're right." Last time, I kept saying that that meant Jack Edwards, but he'd need everyone to pull together behind him fairly early in the process, which seems unlikely. And there's that other guy, who'd also be good, but in Ohio and Pennsylvania, when some people get a look at his picture and hear his name, it's going to come out sounding like Osama Baraka -- a hard sell, to say the least.
The next two years inside the Beltway look like a serious train wreck about to happen. Granted, it will be less awful than the hell ride of the last six years, but it will still be a mess. And you can bet the GOP will be hollering, "Don't blame us -- they had the Congress!" By then Cheney will have copped out for health reasons, and their prez candidate will have spent a year or more as VP, too.
I'll keep hope alive. But confidence sure isn't sparking at this point.
Here's another Portland blogger with a national print audience: Kevin Allman, a post-Katrina transplant from the Big Easy.
We've blogged here before about Portland Monthly, which sells tons of advertising by creating issue after issue of "best of" lists. Top 25 neighborhoods, top 50 lawyers, top 75 restaurants, top 100 doctors, top 500 schools, yada yada yada. Works like a charm -- the honorees who make the list buy vanity ads to go with the "editorial" recognition, and everybody in the industry buys a copy at the newsstand either to see their own names, or to see who got mentioned while they were left out. (That latter group also kvetches over the selection criteria.)
More legit publications such as the O and the Times usually don't scrape this hard, but today both of those publications enclosed somebody else's advertising tabloid that does, this time with the legal profession. The somebody else in question was an outfit called Law and Politics, and the advertising "supplement" was an extremely slick 36-pager called Oregon Super Lawyers 2006.
It's just what you would expect -- puff pieces about some of the area's better counselors at law, and a pack of ads that are hysterically funny, even though they're not trying to be. Some advertising gurus picked up a few bucks cranking out these gems:
Two law firms decided to go head to head with the Superman theme:
Anyway, to those who made the list, congratulations on the lukewarm achievement. To those who didn't make it, my condolences -- don't take it too hard. And to anyone who actually read all 36 pages of this exquisite nonsense, my deepest sympathies. Try to get under some full spectrum light real soon.
Remember Gary Brolsma, the "Maya Hee" guy whose musical home video rocked our world last year? He's come out of seclusion and made a followup vid, "The New Numa." It doesn't have the surprise value of the original, but he's still a pretty funny dude to watch.
And this year, of course, you can do so on YouTube, here.
When I donated an old computer to the nonprofit known as Free Geek here in Portland a few weeks back, I noted how Spartan their headquarters is. Apparently some tweakers noticed, too, and last night they broke in and stole a bunch of stuff, including some laptops. "Keep an eye out for laptops for sale in Portland loaded with Ubuntu Linux: if you see one of these, please call us!"
Somebody out there has just created some extremely bad karma for themselves. (Via KATU.)
To each and every one of you now getting soaked in the Portland condo bathtub of fools, let me offer a heartfelt nana nana boo boo. And please call your friends down in California right away and tell them how bad it is! Go to the poor farm by streetcar!
I'm surprised that this has not gotten more major media play, but a blogger has been rotting in jail for nearly three months for refusing to turn over to the police a video that he has of a demonstration. And he may rot there until July. Welcome to Amerika! The Times article on the fellow is here. His blog (or what it's morphed into, now that he's in the can) is here.
The State of Oregon isn't going to enforce Measure 47, which recently passed, because Measure 46 failed. We've blogged about this legal disaster area here before. Dan Meek and the boys have created a major rat's nest here, and the state's taking a do-nothing approach unless and until some judge tells the state it has to do something. Given the inartful drafting of the two measures, and the crazy outcome of the election, it seems the sensible thing to do.
Meek, my old law school classmate, will no doubt be outraged, but in some ways he himself is to blame for the mess. And if he's the guy who's going to draft the measure that convinces voters to bring public power to Portland, I suspect that it won't happen. Meek's a very smart man, but too smart by half for politics, I think. (Just so you know, that's about where I'd put myself, too.) (Via the Merc's Blogtown.)
About once a week, it seems, the Portland blogosphere yields up a post for the ages. There's no doubt where it's coming from this week:
So off I went into what is probably the last remaining part of east Portland that hasn't been replaced with condos or Whole Foods Markets. Sergeant's Towing, located smack dab in the heart of an industrial wasteland, is a place where bad things happen. Members of the staff live on site in trailers and the property is lined with a barbwire-laden fence covered in warning signs.... It's the sort of place you want to get in and out of as quickly as possible while avoiding eye contact and sudden movements. Or anything else that might be taken the wrong way. I could tell you more about Sergeant's Towing but, to honest, these are probably details best kept out of a public forum....Read the whole thing here.
If I have no legal ground to stand on, the very least I can do is waste enough city funds to make up for the $140 I lost because one of your bureaucrats couldn't be bothered to return a phone call. How much does it cost to arrange a hearing like this anyway? Ah, no matter. You would probably just blow that cash on a single racing stripe for the OHSU tram.
Pulitzer Prize winner Nigel Jaquiss of Wily Week follows up today on our query of yesterday about the drastic reduction in the assessment of the Zidell property down in the SoWhat district here in Portland. Turns out, the county and the state Department of Revenue recently determined that the property had been way over-assessed to begin with, and not only did the county reduce the assessment, it paid Z R Z Realty, the Zidell entity that owns the property, a large refund.
The piece also implies that I accused people of some sort of conspiracy. All I said was that "something funny may be going on." And if you're like me, a $10 million mistake by tax bureaucrats is funny.
Now that the big change has been explained, we can still debate the correctness of the bottom line. Was this 30 acres of waterfront land really "essentially worthless" in 1995, because of the contamination? Thirty acres, on the waterfront, worthless, even then?
Didn't the Z R Z folks have a development plan for the property back then?
If you want to read what real Portlanders think about the local architecture (as opposed to what the Shlockmeisters of the Pearl deem worthy of admiration), today's Trib has the lowdown.
Hmmm, "Schlockmeisters of the Pearl" -- sounds like a Wagner opera.
The folks in the Portland parks bureau who want to turn part of Mount Tabor Park over to Warner Pacific College (and to who knows which developer mammals) are doubtlessly reconnoitering to formulate Plan B. Surely they'll have another route to get to the same basic result (no doubt a long-term lease -- a specialty of parks honcho Robin Grimwade). Meanwhile, the outraged neighbors of the park, and the rest of us, get a chance to look at the bigger picture.
It's pretty clear what's going on. WP is singing the same song that OHSU did before the city foolishly built them an aerial tram [rim shot]: "We need more land, and if we don't get it, we'll have to leave Portland." But instead of having Neil Goldschmidt to throw his considerable weight around on the subject, as OHSU did, WP has...
In the words of Steve Earle, "goodbye's all we got left to say."
This web page by WP, telling their side of the Mount Tabor Park story, is instructive. It's not just that they need a new gym -- they say they need to more than triple the size of their student body to stay afloat:
In order to maintain viability in today’s competitive private higher education market, WP must grow to a level of 1200 traditional 4-year undergraduate students. Current enrollment is around 350 students. Colleges need to enroll a critical mass of students to gain the advantage of economies of scale for the courses and services provided to students. The proposed addition to campus allows for more amenities that will attract today’s college-bound high school students. New facilities will enable recruitment and retention of students and student-athletes. Recreational and Athletic Facilities are among the top amenities considered when today’s health-conscious students are looking at colleges.Even taking this position at face value, bringing in 850 more students to a campus that currently services only 350 is going to require a whole lot more than a new roller rink. And unless a large chunk of the surrounding land is somehow going to wind up in the college's hands, it's hard to see how such an expansion could hope to work. Hello, reality check! There isn't enough available land in that neighborhood to make WP more than three times the school it already is -- is there? If they're really serious about their expansion ambitions, looking seriously at moving to a new location has to be part of the process.
Not helping their cause much with their current neighbors is WP's thinly veiled threat to sell its campus to a condo developer:
If Warner Pacific is not able to expand its current campus, the college would likely try to relocate and would be forced to liquidate its current holdings in order to finance the move. WPC would have to sell its land for the highest and best use which could be residential development.Now there's a bully line straight out of the Scone playbook. And here's where the city, as usual, has got it backward. Instead of selling them park and recreation land, the city ought to be looking into buying WP's property out for that very same purpose. Why not expand Mount Tabor Park, and let WP build itself a fine new campus out in the burbs somewhere? Nothing personal to the WP folks, but further constricting the park facilities and handing the college prime land for an artificial turf soccer field -- by sale or lease -- is exactly the wrong move.
Interesting arts-and-tech piece in the Times today: Rigoletto goes YouTube.
Stop right there!
Did you hear that?
No, that... coming from the south. Listen... carefully... There.
Yeah, that. That's the sound of common sense.
You never hear that up here in Portland any more.
Here's an interesting little property tax story relating to Portland's South Waterfront (SoWhat) district. A couple of parcels of land owned by Z R Z Realty, which I believe belongs to local tycoon Jay Zidell and his relatives, appear to have had their tax assessments drastically reduced recently.
A reader who is knowledgeable about such matters reports that a 15.69-acre tax lot designated as "3121 WI/ SW Moody (Property ID R327850)," owned by Z R Z Realty and with a real market value in 2006 -- according to Multnomah County Assessment & Taxation -- of $8,498,170, has been re-assessed at a new value of $8,300. There's no typo there, people -- Eighty-three hundred dollars. Property taxes for this 15.69 acres in SoWhat in 2006? $167.18, our correspondent says.
If this story is true, it's pretty startling, in that the same property was apparently assessed in 2004 at $5,228,910, triggering property taxes of $88,571.99. Given all the booming development down there, you have to wonder how that land lost 99.84 percent of its assessed value over the last two years.
The reader also reports that a 13.98-acre parcel designated as "3121 SW Moody (Property ID R327878)," also owned by Z R Z Realty, has a real market value of $9,147,280, but an assessed value of only $86,520, in 2006. Property taxes for this 13.98 acres in SoWhat, he reports, are only $1,742.25.
Again, quite the contrast from 2004, when the assessed value was $4,828,890 and the taxes were $81,796.08.
What a deal. Thirty acres in SoWhat, assessed at under $100,000. There may be a perfectly good explanation for this, and my informant may be missing something, but, call me a crazy nut, I think something funny may be going on.
UPDATE, 11/17, 4:40 p.m.: Willamette Week explains what happened here.
When you talk about playing an album backward, it always brings to my mind those Beatles records where spoken messages were recorded in reverse and buried in the music. "Turn me on, dead man." "Paul's dead -- miss him, miss him." There were plenty of clues for us all. At the end of "Rain," the boys even gave us a line or two of sung lyrics played backward.
I still play albums backward sometimes, sort of. Occasionally I find it revealing to re-order the tracks on a CD, playing the last song first, then the next-to-last, then the one before that, etc. It was always that way for me with Steve Earle's "The Hard Way," a dark album from the depths of his heroin period. There's some seriously moving material on that disk, but I had trouble getting into it the way it was sequenced. For some reason the album would start to drag on me about 10 or 15 minutes into it. When I told the CD player to play the tracks in reverse order, I liked the result better, for some reason.
(Of course, this would not go over well with Mr. Earle. When he re-emerged from jail, the small record label that took on his next album changed the order of the tracks from what he had presented, releasing it the changed way with no advance notice to Earle. The artist was quite displeased, eventually regaining the rights to the album and switching the tracks back to the original sequence for re-release on his own record label. I believe the quote was something like "I've been doing this for a long time; I know what the f*ck I'm doin'.")
Anyway, I'm just getting into Paul Simon's latest album, "Surprise," and I'm starting to get the same feeling about it. The most accessible number on it, "Father and Daughter," is last, with Simon's more challenging Brian Eno soundscapes kicking things off. Somehow the whole thing is more appealing to me (at least on a second listen) with the sweet stuff first and the thinking stuff later.
Don't tell the record companies about this. They'll probably decide that this is some sort of copyright violation, and try to bankrupt me.
I'm changing my mind about torture. There are a few people who deserve it.
In keeping with these two posts about Portland mentions in The New York Times this week, here's another one: a story in Monday's special "Giving" section about the North by Northeast Community Health Center, and its founders, Dr. Jill Ginsberg and the Rev. Mary Overstreet Smith of the Powerhouse Temple Church. Nice going.
Finally, an aerial tram that I support.
Have you heard "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me" on the radio yet? Here's an internet version.
When you voted for the Metro park bonds last week (and I know most of you did), what were you picturing? I'll bet it wasn't this.
Willy Week publisher Richard Meeker's annual "Publisher's Notebook" column has some frank talk in it this time around about the state of print journalism:
[D]aily newspapers, which have operated for most of their recent lives as monopolies, seem to be struggling in the emerging digital landscape, in which the competition for eyeballs is ferocious. Here at WW, we feel the Internet offers real opportunity, not the least of which is that it puts us in closer touch with our audiences and allows us to break news constantly....The expanding web presence is evident on WW's website, which has started adding news updates on a daily basis. They've been doing this occasionally, but now, it appears, they're making it a regular deal -- something along the lines of LocalNewsDaily.com and the Merc's Blogtown.
What am I most looking forward to in 2007?
Six things. Redesigning Willamette Week. Continuing to break important stories. Expanding our presence on the Web. Hosting our newspaper association's annual convention—400 or more newspaper editors and publishers from around North America will be descending on Portland next June. Growing the Longbaugh Film Festival and MFNW. And continuing to work with a group of people who are smart, hard-working, engaged and fun.
It makes you wonder how long we'll have the print edition of any newspaper. What a quaint information delivery system -- they get the content, lay it out on newspaper-sized pages, send it by wire to a large factory where they print it out on paper, then load it onto large trucks, take it to distribution centers, load it onto vans, and take it to boxes that sit on street corners (or deliver it to your house). When you're done reading it, you have to dispose of the paper that it came on, paying someone to take it to a landfill or a recycling center.
Or you can just look at it on your laptop. It's not hard to see where this is all heading.
Here's what happens when a city has a huge unfunded pension liability and it doesn't come clean with the financial markets about it. Cough!
This just gets funnier and funnier. Now Portland's sexy new "free" citywide wi-fi system is apparently going to be built, at least in part, with money from Microsoft. For now, they' re "partnering" with MetroFi, who was supposed to build it, but when those guys fade out for lack of money I'm sure old Bill Gates will have the system by the gonads. Now there's your power to the people, kids. Way to go, Opie. Tireless champion of the consumer.
UPDATE, 11/15, 12:50 a.m.: The O's Mike Rogoway reports that "[t]he Microsoft deal doesn't change terms of MetroFi's contract with Portland, and MetroFi will continue to build and operate the network itself," but he also quotes a city official as saying that "he's been assured there is a financial component," and "There is money flowing from MSN to MetroFi."
It looks like the secret Saltzman-Santner-Grimwade plan to sell off part of Mount Tabor Park is dead as a doornail, thanks to the bright sunshine of publicity, the tenacity of concerned neighbors, and the common sense of Fireman Randy. But the distrust this episode has sown will live on.
"People in the bureau that I direct signed a memo of understanding to sell off part of the park to the college, with a target closing date and everything, but I didn't know about it." Sure, Dan.
Surgery was completed successfully and [Darius] Miles is expected to begin a rehabilitation process that will cause him to miss the duration of the season.
O.k., here's the latest story on kinky Blazer big man Zach Randolph. I've been trying to come up with a good punchline that's not too dirty, and I'm having a heck of a time doing it. Too many basketball metaphors sound obscene on this one. Even "Zach's jammin'" comes off kinda creepy.
Yesterday's post about Portland's recent publicity in The New York Times prompted a reader to point us to an opinion piece in today's edition (for paid subscribers only), about the pending replacement of Shea Stadium in New York with something to be called Citi Field. One of the descendants of the late William A. Shea, who brought National League baseball back to the Big Apple in 1961 with the Metropolitans (a.k.a. the Mets), was quoted in the article:
If Citigroup money helps the team, then “it’s absolutely fantastic,” said Kathy Shea Anfuso, a daughter of William Shea. Much the same was said by a grandson, F. Scott Shea. As for the fading of the family name, so be it. “How can you be grumpy about something that’s been so fabulous for 40 years, 45 years?” Ms. Anfuso, who lives in Portland, Ore., said by phone.Since it was in a New York paper, please pronounce it "Are-a-gone."
Our boys in blue here in Portland sure are a sight to see. Those "use of force" reports they have to fill out when they whack somebody or point a gun? There's apparently a lot of creativity going into those.
But hang on. Mayor Potter will take care of this. Maybe he'll propose a $500,000 grant to offer all the officers a journalism course.
If you put this scene in a movie, critics would complain that it was all too pat: While the police were brutalizing and then studiously ignoring James Chasse Jr. as he lay mortally wounded on a Pearl District sidewalk on Sep. 17, who was watching the whole scene from inside the toney Blue Hour Restaurant but Homer Williams, who was having dinner there. Williams's high-priced condo farms, streetcars, aerial tram cars, and other money-making schemes in the Pearl and SoWhat districts have sucked the life out of Portland's downtown and out of its municipal budget, while funding for core government functions like police training and mental health services has steadily declined. So while some poor mentally ill guy lay there with his life ebbing away, the big shot real estate sharpie sat with his cloth napkin on, eating his braised veal ravioli with truffles and watching out the picture window.
This is Portland now.
Looks like Macy's plans to tough it out in downtown Portland only until December 30. Then it's going to close that historic store until the remodel is finished -- supposedly in "late 2007," but you know how that goes. The official line is that they're discovering that the re-do is more complicated than they first thought, but the mayhem going on outside with the Transit Mall rip-out is surely an additional factor.
It seems a little odd to me that they would close on December 30. The post-Christmas returns are still at full steam at that point, and they'll have only five days available for post-Christmas store-closing clearance sales. Hard to believe they'll keep their usual level of inventory in that store right up until Christmas, when it's all got to go by the 30th. Anyway, some day a much nicer, albeit smaller, store should emerge, and the process of rebuilding a customer base can begin.
Speaking of the Blazers, it appears that the voters of Seattle have burned their bridges with their NBA team, the Sonics. Thus, the Sonics are likely to move to Oklahoma around the year 2010, which would leave a pro hoops void in the Emerald City that the Blazers' owner, Paul Allen, probably won't be able to resist. Will he try to move the Blazers north? Granted, he won't get a deal from the City of Seattle, but he's got a terrible deal in Portland right now -- it can't get much worse.
I caught two mentions of greater Portlandia in yesterday's Sunday New York Times. One, a piece in the business section about Dark Horse Comics, down in Milwaukie; the other, a real estate section story about condos in towers that don't come with parking. (For example, the strip mall on its side going up over next to Civic Stadium.) I'm sure old Chris Smith felt a vague little tingle in his naughty bits on that second one. Repeat after me, folks: No parking -- anywhere -- ever again!
The excitement is intense, people. Look at what all we Portland taxpayers will be paying for for decades to come:
I am so glad we didn't buy shuttle buses for a tenth of the cost and waste the rest of the money on poor people, mental health, or public safety. Pill Hill Aerial Rapid Transit -- break like the wind.
A fine night at the Rose Garden. The Blazers lost by 7 to the visiting Dallas Mavericks, but it was a fun game to watch, and the gutsy Portland team put on a performance worth cheering for. Even without rookie guard Brandon Roy out there tearing it up, the Blazers can play with just about anybody, at least at this early point in the season.
Jarrett Jack did a great job at point guard, throwing in 20 points and dishing out 10 assists. Zach Randolph came down to earth from his last few games and scored only 20, but he's in better shape and more engaged in the game than I have ever seen him. By far the highlight of the evening was the debut of Blazer big man LaMarcus Aldridge, who surprised everybody except himself with 10 points and 8 boards in under 20 minutes. That guy needs to get healthy from his injuries, work on his strength, and put on about 15 pounds, but if he does, look out, league. He's good.
The bluest note of the night for the Blazers was that Martell Webster, who played a solid first half, didn't play in the second half. Coach Nate MacMillan put him back in at the very end for a possible three-pointer, but Webster wasn't a factor in the finish, and he looked weak or hurt as he walked off. Without Martell or Brandon keeping the defense outside, Zach can't accomplish what he needs to inside, and nobody's from Portland's played a minute with Aldridge until tonight, so it will be a while before he can take the heat off Randolph.
The Blazers came out horrible, scoring only 4 points in about the first 7 minutes of the game. But they play in spurts, tonight taking the lead briefly in the second quarter and coming within 1 point of the lead toward the end of the night. They just didn't have enough oomph to finish off Dallas.
The Mavericks are not going back to the NBA Finals with this year's crew. They're down to Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry, surrounded by a bunch of impressive (and no doubt expensive) names who seem just a step away from retirement: Jerry Stackhouse, Erick Dampier, Devean George, Austin Croshere. I didn't smell any chemistry from that group at all, and I can't see them going all the way to the last round of the playoffs. But of course, with Avery Johnson running the show, they'll go quite a ways:
I got my usual collection of blurry photos of the visiting team from our most excellent seats behind their bench. Dirk's not an easy guy to get a picture of. There's something about the energy field around that fellow that makes him hard to capture. Here's what he looks like putting on a jacket:
We're getting some traffic via search engines today looking for information on a recall of Hershey's chocolate bars for salmonella contamination. The searchers are coming here because of this series of posts, about a lead recall by a chocolate company that Hershey's recently acquired. The two incidents do not appear to be related in any way. For more information on the latest, Hershey's, recall, try this.
Destructive high winds are forecast for Portland this evening. Expect monstrous blasts of stale air from the south -- Mark Cuban and his Dallas Mavericks are here to play the Blazers. We've got the outrageous seats behind the visitors' bench again. Watch for us on the tube -- I'll be the old guy in the wire-rimmed glasses next to the adorable 6-year-old girl with the missing tooth. Complete game wrap-up tonight -- if there's power.
Intellectual property rights have gone nuts lately. We're patenting tax advice these days. And big universities are throwing their weight around on copyright issues involving their sports teams. Here's a particularly pathetic example.
Some things are bigger than money -- or at least, they should be.
We were having another problem with the clunky software that runs our Hewlett-Packard printer-scanner unit tonight. I've never had any luck with HP software; the one HP Pavilion computer we bought about 10 years ago turned out to be a disaster, and I swear it was due to the goofball "shell" that they had installed around Windows to keep you from actually using Windows directly, because you are so stupid. The last time the drivers on our printer-scanner went out, I wound up on the phone with some dude in India for a couple of hours -- I kid you not. But if the thing won't work, what can you do? I called their technical support again tonight.
It was a hysterical experience, but I'm not sure whether to laugh or cry. I'll put aside the fact that some of the people who serve this function for HP can't speak English very well. The real scream was the lengthy wait to which I was subjected after agreeing to pay $30 to talk to a human being.
I was put on hold for more than a half hour before I gave up. The robot kept coming on to tell me to try their free website instead, but I had already done that, to no avail, and hey, lady, they're charging me 30 bucks for this call.
Finally I decided not to stand for any more of this, and so I hung up, called back, and demanded that the call be canceled and my credit card not be charged. The second clerk's English was so bad -- or at least, that's what she was acting like -- that she could not quite comprehend that request. And so she put me on hold again.
Eight minutes later, I was disconnected, and so I called again. Got the same gal. The same elevator music while I waited some more. We're now nearly an hour into the process, and after about five more minutes of this, I hung up and called back for a fourth time. This time I got a man, who sized up the situation pretty quickly and told me he was connecting me to the "refund department."
Another wait -- just a few minutes this time -- and I got a technician who, after putting me on hold for about five more minutes, came back on and told me that I'll be getting a refund of my $30. Oh, and get this -- later today someone from HP's going to call me to verify the refund. I'm sure they'll be calling to try to talk me out of it, just as the first gal tried to talk me into a $55 extended warranty.
Excuse me, dudes and dudettes, but I don't need anyone from HP to call me back on this one. Just don't charge me the 30 clams when you never answered my question.
Given the sketchiness of the entire enterprise, I'm sure that that 30's going to be on my credit card bill. The chances of the last guy knowing how to issue me a refund, and actually doing it, don't seem good. And so I guess I'll have to tell the whole tale of woe to my credit card company.
HP brags about its "award-winning customer care." Unless we are talking about some sort of comedy award, it's hard to imagine what sort of recognition this sorry operation could actually merit. Hey, HP bigwigs, you want to snoop around people's phone records? Take a look at case no. 7334877187. And don't take my 30 bucks.
Got into the annual chore today -- the raking of the leaves. We have just one humble dogwood tree, but our neighbors have some big boys -- plums and gums -- that drop all sorts of stuff. And hmmm, none of those folks seem to get out there with the rake much.
Well, today they missed out. Toward the end of our labors, my helper and I were rewarded with the sight of a spectacular, full rainbow -- one end up on Alameda Ridge and the other in Grant Park. Between that and checking out the worms we found in the leaf piles, it was quite the fun interlude.
Radio guy Bob Miller suggests that the new OHSU Medical Group aerial tram [rim shot] be called "PHART" -- short for Pill Hill Aerial Rapid Transit. I must admit, it's got quite a ring to it. And b!X has picked it up, which is a good sign. He can smell a smash hit acronym at quite a distance.
Can't wait for the neon: "Go by PHART!"
We hosted the regular poker game tonight. The full Magnificent Seven were on hand for a great time. Somehow I lost 22 bucks, but that's the least important feature of the whole confab. I had my family and friends together. The soundtrack was supplied from an old friend of 30 years ago, whom none of tonight's guests had ever met, and it was a big hit. Most of the food we enjoyed came courtesy of my beautiful bride, including one of her family's monster recipes, Cousin Debbie's lasagna. The guys brought all kinds of fabulous wines, beers, cigars, desserts, and other stuff. My children sat in on the dinner festivities.
Let me tell you, I am such a rich man.
Hard to believe, but they're closing the Burnside Bridge this weekend for concrete pouring.
Concrete pouring. In a monsoon.
Welcome to Multnomah County, where the commissioners take bids from construction contractors -- every night.
The election was a tremendous relief. My wife and I danced in the streets. I mean that. We literally danced in the streets. I feel like I can breathe again, and this country is once more a wonderful place. Yesterday I bounced around and it was just like the good old days. In fact it was better, because it was a good new day.Read the whole thing here.
The O picks up this morning on the chaos caused by the passage of Measure 47 coupled with the defeat of Measure 46. The tangled debris pile will be picked over in court for years, unless the Legislature throws it out and starts over. Normally, the public gets mad when the Legislature does that, but given the wounded contraption that's been created here, I think they'll welcome a complete makeover in this case.
All sorts of OHSU Medical Group aerial tram stuff [rim shot] in my inbox this afternoon. First, radio dude Bob Miller sends along some photos of the Bankruptcy Bubbles themselves, including these:
I hope all that plastic's biodegradable. Bob adds:
Incidentally, I've written a song about the tram (shameless plug) and put it on a CD that Shari's is selling for me at $8.60. The song is not exactly complimentary. Proceeds of the sale of the CD go to families of local deployed troops: http://www.rocketpromo.com/tram.htm
Even more significant, though, from a historical perspective, is this message, from another reader:
I've been informed by OHSU Public Safety personnel that the aerial tram cars have just completed their maiden voyage between SoWhat and the Marquam Hill Campus.Sure, if you don't think about what it's already cost us all, and how horribly much more we'll be paying for it in the future.
I think it's time we started putting together some betting pools.
- Date of the first gridlock on I-5 due to the tram.
- Date of the first tram malfunction.
- Date of the first tram malfunction requiring passenger rescue.
- Date of the first tram malfunction requiring passenger rescue by lowering them to a gridlocked I-5.
- Date of first pot-shot taken at tram cars.
- Date of first pot-shot taken which actually damages a tram car.
- Date of first hostage situation using the tram cars.
- Date of first passenger to be subdued on the tram car and arrested.
- Date of first baby born on tram car.
- Date of first death on tram car.
- Date of first injury attributable to the tram.
UPDATE, 6:15 p.m.: KGW has video.
State ethics investigators have reportedly made a preliminary finding of conflict of interest violations by Multnomah County Commissioner Maria Rojo de Steffey involving her husband's employer and a proposed real estate deal. Willy Week has the story here.
...until you spill coffee into them. Please stand by...
My favorite Oregon politician -- State Sen. Vicki Walker of Eugene -- appears to have survived a nasty campaign and gotten herself re-elected.
The good old boys sure don't like Vicki. That's precisely why she's such a good force in statewide politics. Here's to a productive term as her party takes the reins of the entire state government. I hope that she will lead the making of good things in Salem for a change.
A while back, I blogged about the City of Portland's efforts to get me and other residents of the inner northeast section of town out of our cars. They sent me a free kit with a pedometer, a bike odometer, a book of discount coupons for local businesses, maps, and brochures galore. I wondered how much it all cost me as a taxpayer, but it was fun to get.
I now see that this program has its own newsletter, and the latest edition has just come out. In it, the city transport bureau is claiming some pretty impressive results:
Transportation Options 2006 NE Hub target area program reached a whopping 13 percent relative reduction in drive alone trips. The largest decrease yet in the four years of Transportation Options targeted programs shifted from drive alone trips primarily to walk, carpool, transit, and bike trips....I'd love to see the data that underlies these claims; I suspect the numbers have been massaged harder than a Mark Foley intern. But if they're even close to accurate, the city's actually talking some people out of some of those bad, yea downright immoral, single-occupant car habits.
With generous donations from Kaiser Permanente we are again able to offer 6000 Ten Toe Express Walking Kits, complete with pedometers to track those new walking trips. TriMet, our transit partner, provided all the bus and MAX schedules and a special Honored Citizen packet for seniors and disabled riders. Business community support helped us deliver Portland By Cycle kits, complete with reflective leg bands, bike maps and local business coupons, to 5000 households in the NE Hub.
The kits and information weren’t the only tools employed by Options. We also offered Ten Toe Express guided walks and Senior Strolls, Summer Cycle and Women on Bikes bike rides, clinics as well as many Smart Living Classes. All our clinics and activities give an added level of hands-on assistance to residents interested in choosing alternative transportation.
The combination of information, maps, events and activities produces results. At a cost of $10 per person – including staff, printing and expenses – NE Hub residents are experiencing fewer cars on their streets and rediscovering their neighborhoods by foot, bike and transit, while local businesses gain new customers who walk and bike to their store.
Of course, given the lousy job they've done keeping the sewers clear of fallen leaves lately, for now you may want to take your snorkel with you on your walk or bike ride to work.
LocalNewsDaily.com is now allowing readers to post comments. An example (and a cool story in its own right) is here.
Crews have begun laying some of the new bricks that will pave the revitalized Portland Transit Mall. They've started with a sloping stretch near Portland State. You can see a photo of the work here.
Portland city commissioner Dan Saltzman announced this afternoon that his outgoing chief of staff, Jeff Cogen, will be replaced by Donald Rumsfeld. In a hastily called press conference, Saltzman, recently re-elected to a third four-year term on the City Council, said he believed the former defense secretary would be an effective advocate for several pending initiatives, including the privatization of the city's parks.
Saltzman's relationships with some of the city's east side neighborhoods have badly deteriorated in recent months amid charges that he has secretly negotiated to sell off of city property without adequate public process. But the commissioner said today he believes that Rumsfeld will move quickly to help patch matters up. "I spoke with Secretary Rumsfeld this morning, and he and his wife Joyce are very excited about moving to Portland," Saltzman told the media today. Since "they're too old to handle a yard," the Rumsfelds are purchasing a view unit in the John Ross Tower in the city's SoWhat district, he added.
"It's a major coup for Dan," noted one City Hall insider, who insisted on anonymity for fear of police retaliation. "They had a conference call the other day with Grimwade and Santner, and everybody agreed that this guy will fit right in, right away."
Cogen, known around City Hall as "Little Big Pipe," will be leaving Saltzman's employ shortly to join the Multnomah County commission. He defeated Lew Frederick for that position in yesterday's election. The official final tally was $153,226 to $41,809.
Our fearless leader can't even lie well:
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President.Oh, and he's a uniter, not a divider again. Sorry, Bill McDonald, you'll never be this funny. Read the whole thing here.
Last week you told us that Secretary Rumsfeld would be staying on. Why is the timing right now for this? And how much does it have to do with the election results?
No, you and Hunt and Kyle (ph) came in the Oval Office and you asked -- Hunt asked me the question one week before the campaign, and basically it was: You going to do something about Rumsfeld and the vice president? And my answer was, you know, they're going to stay on.
And the reason why is I didn't want to inject a major decision about this war in the final days of a campaign.
And so the only way to answer that question and to get you onto another question was to give you that answer.
The truth of the matter is, as well -- I mean, that's one reason I gave the answer. But the other reason why is I hadn't had a chance to visit with Bob Gates yet, and I hadn't had my final conversation with Don Rumsfeld yet, at that point.
I have been talking with Don Rumsfeld over a period of time about fresh perspective. He likes to call it fresh eyes. He, himself, understands that Iraq is not working well enough, fast enough.
And he and I are constantly assessing, and I'm assessing, as well, all the time, by myself, about: Do we have the right people in the right place with the right strategy? As you know, we're constantly changing tactics. And that requires constant assessment.
And so he and I both agreed in our meeting yesterday that it was appropriate that I accept his resignation. And so, the decision was made -- actually, I thought we were going to do fine yesterday. Shows what I know. But I thought we were going to be fine in the election.
My point to you is that, win or lose, Bob Gates was going to become the nominee.
It looks as though Ginny Linder has defeated Jack Roberts for Oregon Supreme Court. The Multnomah County Circuit Court judgeships went to Cheryl Albrecht (yay), Leslie Roberts (good luck, lady, you'll need it), and Judy Matarazzo (by the tiniest of margins over Overgaard). Our choice for that last seat, Ulanda Watkins, came in fifth out of nine.
Check it out -- all four of the contested seats in which I took an interest were won by women.
It's going on 4 in the morning, and we still don't know who's going to control the U.S. Senate for the next two years. Montana and Virginia are agonizingly close; if the Dems get them both, they will rule the senior chamber, and Cheney and Rumsfeld may as well retire.
Come to think of it, we probably won't know for sure for weeks. There will doubtlessly be recounts in both states, and in Virginia at least, that could take until Christmas. Maybe this gal could help speed things along with her newfound free time.
All of the campaigning to which our household was subjected linked the two measures together, and we voted against both of them, but it appears that a significant wedge of voters voted no on 46 and yes on 47. And so now we all get to figure out what 47 does and what 46 won't get to do.
Dan Meek, the public power guy who was one of the big backers of 46 and 47, left a comment last night on an older post on this blog; he explained where we stand in light of the split decision. What he wrote is worth reproducing here. And if any other readers are in the know about the meaning of the passage of 47 alone, please chime in in the comments to the present post:
Well, Jack, Measure 47, which passed, does require far better campaign disclosure and reporting. Here are some of its provisions that will take effect, regardless of the absence of Measure 46:Fascinating stuff. But according to this morning's O, it may not mean jack squat unless the state constitution is interpreted or amended to allow such laws to be placed on the books -- and that's just what the voters seemingly refused to do when they rejected 46. Says the O:
1 Every campaign advertisement funded by "independent expenditures" must prominently disclose the top 5 contributors to the "independent" campaign, the businesses they are engaged in, and the amounts contributed by each of them. These disclosures must appear in all advertisements, including TV, radio, newspaper, direct mail, billboards, etc. They need not appear on small campaign items, like buttons or bumper stickers.
2 Anyone making independent expenditures during any 2-year election cycle in excess of $200 must publicly report the expenditures in the same manner and schedule as a political committee in Oregon must report to the Secretary of State or local election officer.
3 Every candidate who spends more than $5,000 of personal money on a campaign for public office must disclose in every subsequent campaign ad the amount of personal money being spent on the campaign.
4 Every contributor of more than $500 per year must obtain a "handle" from the Secretary of State, so that his future contributions can be more accurately recorded. [Note: Every registered voter in Oregon already has a handle, consisting of his or her voter registration number. This provision will, however, include also all out-of-state contributors].
5 "Within five (5) business days of receipt, the Secretary of State shall report and make available on the Internet in an interactive database format all contribution and expenditure reports and all handle registrations. The format shall enable the user to determine the sources and amounts of reported contributions:
1 For each candidate committee, political committee, political party, and independent expenditure campaign; and
2 From each contributor who has contributed at least five hundred dollars ($500) during the election cycle."
6 No employer can, directly or indirectly, "require any employee or contractor to make any contribution or independent expenditure to support or oppose any candidate; or provide or promise any benefit or impose or threaten any detriment due to the fact that an employee or contractor did or did not make such contributions or expenditures. Any person subjected to a violation of this "shall have a civil cause of action against the violator and shall, upon proof of violation, recover a civil penalty of not less than $50,000 per incident of violation."
And Measure 46, which would change the state constitution to allow limits on campaign contributions, failed. But a companion proposal, Measure 47, passed. Authors of the campaign finance measures anticipated that the constitutional amendment, Measure 46, might be defeated but the detailed campaign contribution limits in Measure 47 could pass. They wrote into Measure 47 a section that says that if the measure is adopted at a time the Oregon Constitution does not allow such limits, the measure is to be codified in state law and become effective when the constitution is amended to allow campaign contribution limits.If and when, it appears. Anyway, please help us out, readers. Without 46 or a "son of 46" in the future, does 47 matter at all? Perhaps this is just a prelude to a lengthy court battle over what the existing state constitution does and doesn't allow by way of restrictions.
And in any event, did the Oregon voters who split the ticket know what the heck they were doing? Let's face it, the average person is not going to be able to grasp fully what's going on in Dan Meek's cruller. This thing is more confusing than a Karen Minnis travel expense report and an Emilie Boyles signature sheet combined.
Oregon ballot measures 39 (no condemnation for private developers) and 44 (prescription drug benefits for the uninsured) are projected to have passed, and all the rest to have failed, according to the O. Yay.
UPDATE, 11/8, 1:54 a.m.: Not so fast! I'm not sure whether I was reading the projections correctly earlier this evening, but it turns out that while Measure 46 failed, its companion measure, 47, passed. More here.
Ladies and gentlemen, it appears we have a Democratic U.S. House of Representatives. About dang time.
OregonLive, the website that's affiliated with The Oregonian, has become noticeably more useful lately. Stories from the O go up around midnight; they're mostly all there; and news updates flash across the site's front page all day long.
Of course, there is still much misery. The search engine is weak, and there's no archive of stories more than a couple of weeks old -- none, either for free or for pay. And the comments feature on the site's blogs, long absent, still doesn't work in any meaningful way.
It's that way throughout the Advance newspaper chain, owned by the Newhouse family in New York. They've got a bunch of these sites, and they all suffer from the minuses that OregonLive displays. But at least the Oregon site has had some soul behind it, and the locals here have made some headway despite the crummy hand they've been dealt by the Advance shot-callers, who operate out of New Jersey.
Now the guy who's headed up the Oregon web operation, Kevin Cosgrove, is leaving his Portland gig and his Pearl District digs and heading off to join the boys and girls at Advance headquarters in Jersey City. He'll be the "director of editorial development" for the Advance websites, and boy, do they ever need it.
Cosgrove is a neat guy. When I called his product "Velveeta" a couple of years back, he cheerfully picked up the theme and called himself "Mr. Velveeta" as he reached out and made personal contact with me. We've had a number of great conversations since then, and he's a smart and thoughtful person. It's easy to dump on OregonLive, but it's not because of the man who's been in charge. He'll be missed in Portland, but the changes he makes on the national level (and I hope there will be quite a few) should redound to the benefit of all of Advance's readers, Oregonians included.
Ironically, Cosgrove will be working out of the same building in which I had my brief career as a professional journalist more than 30 years ago. At the time, the newsroom looked and smelled as if it hadn't been painted in about 40 years. I sure hope they've cleaned it up a bit since then. And Kevin, if you should find an orange scarf or a pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses somewhere on the third floor, those are mine -- I forgot them. Please give me a call and I'll send Cousin Jim by to pick them up.
The folks who live in that awful condo bunker at NE Broadway and 16th Avenue in Portland are trying to form a limited liability company and start up a community market on the ground floor of their building. The building was built and sold with assurances to the condo buyers and the neighborhood that a Zupan's Market would be located in that space, but Zupan backed out for reasons that remain cloudy at best. I feel for the residents -- like the rest of us, they were sold a bill of goods by one of Portland's hardier species of mustela.
To get the new market company off the ground, the residents are selling shares at $1,000 apiece, and they say they need to get to $600,000 soon in order to comply with the terms of the lease they've signed. Apparently November 15 is the deadline for raising the needed capital.
O.k., a mildly interesting story, and I sincerely wish them well. But imagine my surprise to open my front door yesterday and find this rolled up in the latch handle. They're selling shares door to door!
Now, I'm no securities lawyer, but I seem to recall that under federal and state law, you can't sell "securities" without either registering them or limiting your offerees substantially, such as to sophisticated investors. (A membership in an LLC sure sounds like a "security" to my untrained ear.) A shotgun approach, hitting up grannies on their front porch, seems like an imprudent practice, even if it's legal. Moreover, by law all the material facts relating to the proposed investment must be disclosed. Pushing a short timeline -- we need your money in the next nine days! -- in a one-page porch flyer? Well, it's a lawsuit waiting to happen. Not a good omen on which to start up the venture.
And if I were asking people to risk their hard-earned savings on a wholesome, "sustainable" enterprise, I'm not sure I'd be calling it "CMOB," either.
If the community market fails, the owner of the retail space has been talking about a big-box pet supply store. Based on what I found on my front porch yesterday, I'd say we'll be hearing "woof woof" over there before we smell any Oregon strawberries on the premises. Maybe Sam the Tram's dog will put a stop to the corporate invasion, but unless the people upstairs get a better act together, don't hold your breath waiting for the community market to open.
Fireman Randy knows a rat when he smells one. He's been trying to get to the bottom of one of the Portland Development Commission's classic developer giveaways, the one at SW Third and Oak. But when the city attorney asks to see internal PDC documents about that particular scam, the response is more like a raised finger than anything else. And so today the good commissioner is calling for the relevant records to be subpoenaed:
Now, months after the Council directed the audit, the PDC is refusing to release emails and documents to the City Attorney that relate to the history of PDC's involvement with the SW 3rd and Oak property. "I am very disappointed at PDC’s continual disregard for their responsibility as a public agency," said Commissioner Leonard, "Despite the best efforts of the Mayor to improve their transparency, the PDC continues to act like an organization with something to hide."Go get 'em, Randy! If you ever need a place to host the dirt you find, you know where to come.
Accordingly, Commissioner Leonard filed a resolution today that will empower the City Attorney to exercise the City’s Charter authority to subpoena any documents the City Attorney may deem appropriate to conduct a thorough audit of the history of PDC's involvement with the SW 3rd and Oak property.
Out on the corner of Fremont and 42nd this morning, waving to the commuters under a big banner: Lew Frederick. Good luck, Lew!
At least hang in there a little while longer. Vote.
The head of the Portland police union has decided it would be funny to give prizes to the officers who use the most force in making arrests -- including Christopher Humphreys, the notorious "thumper" who beat a mentally ill man to death on Sep. 17.
What a bunch of professionals. This is not quite up there with the "Don't Choke 'Em, Smoke 'Em" t-shirt or possum incidents, but it shows that little ever changes in that department. Shame on all of them.
Mayor Potter, really. Either do your job and take charge of these hatchet men, or resign.
This breathless e-mail just in from the Multnomah County Democrats:
Voter turnout in Multnomah County began strong, but on Friday it took a downturn. For the first time in days, the number of ballots returned dropped below the level from 2002. As of today we're running 6% -- 10,000 votes -- behind 2002. Oregon needs you now.It does indeed. Better get my ballot turned in -- but I'm afraid its contents would disappoint the Multnomah County Democrats.
Last week's flap over the secret talks about the proposed sale of parts of Portland's Mount Tabor Park to private interests has apparently shaken some of the rank and file employees at the Parks Bureau. The bureau chief, Zari Santner (paid $126,789 in 2005), reportedly sent this e-mail around on Wednesday evening:
Dear Colleagues,No mention of that "memo of understanding," signed last August, that called for the yard to be sold to Warner Pacific by Nov. 15. Also, no mention of the emerging Saltzman-Santner-Grimwade plan to privatize the parks and kick many of the recipients of the e-mail off the city payroll. I don't think they're "all on the same page" on that one at all.
I know many of you have concerns about the news coverage concerning Mt. Tabor Yard and the issues raised at the City Council meeting today. To keep us all on the same page, I want to provide some background, clarify some issues, and let you know what's next.
This afternoon, we presented to Council our Feasibility Study for Development of Service Zones Facilities (including City Nature.) The report includes a range of options - from simply addressing basic building, energy, health and safety code requirements to making system-wide improvements that will increase operational efficiency and expand our capacity to meet current and future demands.
Two of the options address all of our facilities, including the Central Maintenance Facility. One option looks at developing a new central maintenance facility at Mt. Tabor Yard. The other option looks at developing a new central facility elsewhere. Both options represent similar levels of investment.
I've outlined below today's request to Council and their Response.
Council approval of $650,000 to address our most critical health and safety code issues at three maintenance facilities: Gabriel Park, the Urban Forestry Barn, and the 136th Ave. facility.
Council was supportive of making this investment, but asked that we return next week with a resolution clarifying this request.
PP&R work with the Office of Management and Finance to develop a detailed funding and phasing strategy for the two options that include all of our facilities, including the Central Maintenance Facility, and bring back a final recommendation for Council's approval. PP&R and the Office of Neighborhood Involvement develop a public process to discuss the future of Mt. Tabor Yard and ask Council to approve that process before it is implemented in the early spring.
Council did not respond directly to these recommendations except to clearly state their belief that a public process is critical. At this time, no specific timeline has been established.
What about Warner Pacific College?
If PP&R eventually decides to relocate the central maintenance facility, Warner Pacific College has expressed interest in assessing the feasibility of purchasing Mt. Tabor Yard for development of sports fields if an agreement can be developed that would be beneficial to the college, PP&R, and the community. In a memorandum of understanding with the college, PP&R agreed to work with Warner Pacific to investigate whether such a proposal would be feasible for either party. At the same time, Warner Pacific agreed to work with the community to develop any proposal they would make to the City. PLEASE UNDERSTAND, PP&R HAS NO AGREEMENT WITH WARNER PACIFIC FOR SALE OR LEASE OF MT. TABOR YARD.
The process for public discussion regarding the future of Mt. Tabor Yard will take into consideration any proposal from Warner Pacific College if the college remains interested in the site.
This is a complex issue and at times you may hear conflicting information. If you have questions, or need to respond to citizen questions, please call Gay Greger at x35113.
Please know that providing safe and pleasant facilities for our staff remains one of my highest priorities. Many of you have been waiting a long time for improvements in your working conditions. Commissioner Saltzman and I remain committed to this goal. I'll keep you informed and involved as we move forward.
They're already playing Christmas music on the airlines. And the holiday hype has been creeping into the stores for a while now. It's ridiculous -- Christmas isn't for another seven weeks. I hate to jump the gun myself, but this one's worth it.
(And if anybody knows who that voice is, please let us know. I'd like to hear more of that.)
There's nothing like reading the neighborhood news in Portland's excellent monthly newspaper, The Hollywood Star, to get one's blood boiling. (Too bad they never put their stories on line.) You know that condo development there have been rumors about, for the corner of NE 15th and Hancock? It's for real, all right. And get this: It's going to be six stories tall.
Six. Stories. Tall.
Gee whiz, guys. That four-story condo monstrosity at 16th and Broadway didn't sell out, it reportedly leaks like a sieve, the groovy ground floor retail was abandoned before it was occupied, and it is undeniably one of the butt-ugliest buildings ever erected in the Rose City. So now the neighbors deserve an even taller desecration, totally out of scale and character with the rest of the historic district, encroaching two blocks further into the vintage residential properties? How awful.
Mayor Potter, you want a vision? Stop letting them do this! Fireman Randy -- you grew up in Irvington. Is this right?
I know, it's all about "density" -- and when you hear that word, you must drop to your knees and bow toward Portland State. We're allowing this in the name of keeping the region "livable." But what's happening is that every move by the city's bloated, extravagant contingent of goofball "planners" makes the place less livable. History will remember this City Council for the present trashing of the city's character, and not favorably.
They're voting in L.A. tomorrow on a ballot measure that would put the City of L.A. literally a billion dollars deeper in debt in the name of "affordable housing." And guess who's pumping big bucks into the "yes" campaign. From a story in the L.A. Times:
[C]ontributions keep flowing in to support a $1-billion housing bond measure, Proposition H, on the city ballot. That campaign's fundraising total so far is about $3 million.Bring on those "affordable" studio apartments. Down there, they'll probably start at $499,000.
A campaign committee established by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to promote his restructuring of the Los Angeles Unified School District gave $25,000 to support the housing bond.
The Building Industry Assn., already one of the largest donors to the campaign, sent another $25,000; and Beverly Hills financier Arthur Levine donated $25,000.
Williams & Dame Development, based in Portland, Ore., gave $17,500. The firm is building three residential towers in the South Park area of downtown Los Angeles near Staples Center.
Have you checked out That Black Girl yet? Definitely worth it. From the heart. Plus funny -- check out her "translation" of the latest rap trash from Ludacris. "DONT STOP SHAKING YOUR BUTT UNTIL YOU'RE IN PAIN. YOU LOOK LIKE YOU'RE DRUNK AND TIRED BUT I DONT CARE."
Another Portland earthquake tonight, and I missed it. I was out running errands and didn't feel a thing.
According to the coordinates given by the U.S. Geological Survey -- 45.516°N, 122.648°W -- and Google maps, the quake was centered under Colonel Summers Park in the Buckman neighborhood in the southeast quadrant of town. A 2.6, 10 miles down. KGW's rattling on at the moment about it being downtown, but I can't figure out where they're getting that.
On some errands in northeast and southwest Portland tonight, I drove through more than a few small lakes where intersections were supposed to be. Heavy rains have combined with fallen leaves to clog up the city's storm drains. It's a mess.
Also impressive was the number of city crews I saw out there working overtime to get the standing water moving again.
That number was zero.
But hey, the aerial tram looked fine [rim shot].
Amazing that they finally get around to convicting and sentencing Saddam Hussein the weekend before the U.S. elections. Those puppet strings work well.
Interesting piece in the Times this morning about the folks who moderate comments on a popular national obituary website. Having read tens of thousands of comments on this blog, cleaned out thousands more spam comments, and banned a few dozen folks whom I've decided my readers and I can live without -- I can't imagine dealing with comments on a site as extensive and sensitive as theirs. The internet can be an ugly jungle sometimes.
The Trail Blazers won again last night -- pulling out a win in the clutch at the end of the game. And it seems their strong performance was fired up by a member of the opposing team, who cruised by the Blazer bench in the first half and called the Portland team "roaches" belonging, as the O's reporter relayed it, "in some dark corner underneath the league's kitchen sink."
I'm glad that the kids on the Portland team showed them who was boss by the end of the night. Hey, they may be the Jail Blazers, but they're not roaches. O.k., if they are, they're our roaches.
When we were growing up in the Down Neck Newark schoolyard, there was an expression about anybody who was getting too exuberant: We'd say that such a person was "getting all Joe about" whatever it was that was exciting him. I never caught the etymology of the term -- I hope it's not too obscene, since I'm blogging about it.
Anyway, that's exactly how I'd describe the Democratic Party establishment as we head toward the mid-term election. They're "getting all Joe" about getting at least a piece of Congress back.
I hope they're right, but I won't believe it until I see it on Wednesday. I still have this nagging feeling that the only way to get this country back from the creeps is going to be out on the streets. We'll see.
The City Club of Portland's "citizens' blog" isn't where it used to be. Is it gone?
The O's crack City Hall team has done us all a great service by posting on its blog the entire City of Portland payroll as an Excel file, here. (As of Monday 11-6-06, I was getting an access-denied message for this one at OregonLive, but I had previously copied it, and it's now on my server.) You can find all sorts of interesting stuff in there, particularly if you know how to play with Excel. Hmmmm, Frank Dufay's salary... Christopher Humphreys's. That Robin Grimwade guy over at Parks is pulling down almost $100K. Zari Santner, the Parks queen -- pushing $127K, more than a police commander...
Whoa, look at that fat-butted PDC staff. What do all these people do? And quite a few over the $100K mark. For what?
Hey, wait a minute! What? City Commissioner "Charles R. Leonard"? I had no idea.
(Earnings figures not including graft, where applicable.)
UPDATE, 11/5, 6:45 p.m.: The following clarification came in today from David Shaff, who I believe is the city's Water Bureau administrator:
If you are interested in clarifying the data for your readers, the spreadsheet reflects Calendar Year 2005 earnings.Later he added: "I used to be the City’s Employee Relations Manager and was the person who used to put the spreadsheet together whenever the O or WW asked for it every year. I stopped doing it when I left HR in 2003."
If you earned anything at all, or were listed as being on the payroll of the City at any time during the calendar year, even if you didn’t earn anything, your name shows up. I saw the question about Sam Adams versus the others and was perplexed myself. Since the Commissioners each earn a flat rate salary, they should all be the same.
The spreadsheet is something the Bureau of Human Resources prepares every year in January or February (typically) at the request of WW or The O. This began about ten years ago when the WW decided to write a story and requested the earnings of the top 100 earners in the City. For the last five years or so, it has been the Oregonian that makes the request and they ask for a spreadsheet of all employees who were on the payroll in the previous year, sorted from highest to lowest.
The twist this year is that Ryan was able to post the entire document instead of just writing a story about it. I understand Ryan has had this for months - it’s not clear why it took him so long to get around to this, since 2006 is almost over.
The results are pretty typical. Not including bureau directors, the top 100 is populated mostly by Police and Fire personnel who worked a lot of overtime; and retirees who got vacation and comp time payoffs when they retired.
...the highlight of your Friday night is catching a housefly and feeding it to your Venus fly trap.
And then re-enacting the whole thing, taking turns playing the parts of the trapper, the fly, the leaf that just missed the fly, and the leaf that had dinner.
Should a school bus driver be fired for flipping the bird to George W. Bush in front of the kids? Ordinarily, I'd say that giving people the finger with students on board is cause for discipline. But I mean, come on, it was the Chimp himself! Hard to resist. Justification in my book -- or at least grounds for leniency.
It shows you how little I know -- I never heard of the guy. But I've heard of Bill McDonald, and he's a big Madsen fan. Bill met the man himself the other night, and he wrote about it here. If you want to see for yourself what this writer's about, check out his website here. He sure seems to have the inside-the-Beltway dirt on the people who are wrecking this country. Anyway, Madsen will be in Portland for another appearance tonight, at 23rd Avenue Books. Seems worth going to hear.
If something good doesn't happen next week on the national level, we are doomed.
It looks as though we can call a winner in the Oregon governor's race. According to the latest poll conducted by The Oregonian and KATU-TV, the Portland Old Boy Network has 85 percent of the vote, compared to 6 percent for Starrett, 1 percent each for Morley and Keating, and 7 percent undecided. A big win for the Arlington Club.
The Portland parks people sure have been busy lately. First they try to sell off a piece of Mount Tabor Park on the sly, lying about it when busted. Next it looks as though they're going to turn over park operations to private companies, whom they'll pay a fee. They're starting with the tennis courts.
The new push to get Portland out of the actual business of running parks coincides with the advancement of a fellow named Robin Grimwade as the Parks Bureau's "finance and development" director. Grimwade left behind an interesting legacy of privatization in Sydney, Australia, where his business acumen led to plans to cede pieces of the park system to McDonald's and Fox Studios. You can't help but think he's pulling the same strings here in the Rose City.
The guy reminds me of Kim Kimbrough already.
Last night after dinner: a saffron-poached pear from Whole Foods. Good beyond words.
The Blazers won their regular season opener tonight -- on the road, no less. The dudes from Portland beat Seattle (soon to be Oklahoma) and are officially in first place in their division.
Kinky Zach Randolph scored 30 points, and Brandon Roy had 20. I hope we're using the phrase "rookie sensation" about Roy before too long.
Multnomah County Sheriff Bernie Giusto, that gallant rescuer of damsels in distress, takes some blistering criticism in a new report from the usually somnolent county district attorney, Mike Schrunk, on the state of the county's jails. The Mean Girls of the county commission are also called out, and guess what? Even the Chasse death is mentioned. Nick Budnick over at LocalNewsDaily.com reports here. The official report itself is a fat pdf file, here.
Southwest Broadway in downtown Portland has several hotels, some on each side of the street. It also has a bike lane on the west side of the street. The hotels and the bicycles co-exist very uneasily.
Bike Portland's been posting about the situation from the biker's point of view. The latest post is here. It shows that the Heathman's been doing a better job of respecting the bike lane than the Benson has.
As an occasional cyclist, I'd be terrified to try to deal with the situation depicted outside the Benson. That seems worse to me than no bike lane at all. Marking it with "Hotel Zone Ahead" is goofy -- you might as well alert the bicyclists with "Prepare to Die." There's got to be some safer solution than what's there now. Readers?
[B]y 2001 when Ted was gearing up to run for governor, he told me that the hardest part of that job would be "keeping Neil at arms length because he asks me to do unethical things."Leonhardt also says he told The Oregonian about Neil's misconduct five months before Willamette Week outed him, but the O sat on the story.
To read the whole thing, click here and scroll down past the money pitch.
UPDATE, 3:07 p.m.: In response to some questions I asked him earlier today, Fred Leonhardt has written:
Bernie Giusto and I became friends when he was Neil's bodyguard (of course it was Neil's wife's body he was guarding, but I was too stupid to figure that out) and I was Neil's speechwriter. In late summer 1989, Bernie told me about Neil and the girl, the details of which he had learned from Margie. I convinced myself it wasn't true, especially when we found out about the affair. Although, the fact that a lieutenant in the state police was implicating the governor in a sex crime and nothing was done about it, should have been a red flag. But I was part of the team, a true believer.
In late 1991, I was freelance speechwriting and taking care of our new baby. Ted was a frequent visitor, keeping me company, watching ball games, going for walks, etc. (We lived on NE 18th, by the way, between Klickitat and Siskyou, a half block from Imeson.) When Ted told me he was going to run for attorney general, I knew that Neil would be involved, and that Ted should be aware of the rumor about Neil in case it came up during the campaign. So, in late 1991, in my living room, I told him what Bernie had told me in '89, which included the victim's name and age. Ted's response was that he himself had warned Neil in 1988 that Margie and Bernie were having an affair. Bernie was not only not fired or disciplined, he was promoted. Ted's conclusion? Bernie must have had something on Neil; maybe the child rape story was true.
In 1994, Ted and his wife, and I and my wife, were invited to a party at Margie Goldschmidt's, co-hosted by Giusto. Ted and Mary actually rode to the party with my wife and me. I asked Bernie about Neil and the girl. He told me that she was threatening a lawsuit; he told me the names of Neil's lawyers; and he told me that Diana Goldschmidt was heavily involved in the negotiations. He knew this because Neil had asked Margie for permission to open their sealed divorce papers to show [victim's name deleted]'s lawyers that his alimony and child support payments were so onerous he couldn't meet their demands.
I immediately found Ted, parked him on the floor behind a sofa for privacy, and told him everything Bernie had told me moments before. Ted and I talked about Neil's crime many times over the years. In January 2001, Ted gave me his copy of Neil's 2000 holiday letter which referred to vacations in Tuscany and Provence and the purchase of a vineyard. Ted and I talked about how a man who had raped a child was now a contented millionaire. Ted's explanation? "Sh*t floats."
When he appointed Neil to the state board of higher ed, I called my old friend, Jeff Mapes, at the Oregonian. I asked him to meet me for a confidential lunch at Sam's Hollywood Billiards, where for two hours I told him the whole story. This lunch was later described by the Oregonian's public editor as "an anonymous tip" and by their managing editor as an old, cold trail...nothing new.
For going on the record, I was attacked by Ted and his minions as "troubled, angry and disgruntled." They said I was angry because I was fired from a job on the campaign, and I was angry because I never got a job on the campaign. The truth is, more than anyone else I created a public image of Neil Goldschmidt as a child protector and advocate. And I have two daughters. The fact that my best friend, whom I had warned about Neil, would then bring him into state government, was and is appalling. He needs to tell the truth and apologize to the people of Oregon.
Ted once told me that Neil didn't know what to think of me "because you never kissed his a*s like the rest of us." I would like those words carved on my tombstone.
"You know that we don't need any more studies," state Sen. Avel Gordly, D-Portland, told the group at City Hall. "We need to act on what we already know . . . This is about putting together our collective will." -- From an Oregonian story today about the Portland area's "open air" mental health "system."We could also use disciplinary action once in a while against police officers with violence problems.
Oregon's got a potentially important case in front of the U.S. Supreme Court these days, but it looks as though the High Court may be sending it back our way without deciding it.
Now that we know where our special "clean money" gal is working, please don't call her at work. Don't call her boss. No reason to get her fired. A winter in Glendive, Montana is just what the doctor ordered.
Call the father of "voter-owned elections," Erik Sten, instead. Ask him how the criminal investigation into Boyles's apparently fraudulent signatures is going. It's been more than 200 days since the Portland police refused to be bothered with the matter and passed it over to the state attorney general's office. Is that investigation still open? I doubt it, especially since no one can cite any state criminal law that was broken.
And so no one is prosecuted, and the city picks up $50 a month (if it's lucky) toward the $90,000 Boyles owes the taxpayers. Not counting interest, the debt will be paid off by the year 2156. See? The system is working.