|For old times' sake|
The bojack bumper sticker -- only $1.50!
To order, click here.
It ain't pretty.
Greg Oden's already started rockin' the house.
They've adjourned the Oregon Legislature "sine die," meaning "without a day" -- without a day specified for reconvening. Down in Salem, they pronounce this "seinie dye," which of course is not how the Latin is supposed to be pronounced. The correct pronunciation is something like "see-nay dee-ay," but if you try to correct the representatives from the southern and eastern parts of the state, they just reply, "Only them Eye-talians say it like that." So seinie dye it is.
However you say it, this time around the whole "sine die" concept is, like so much that comes out of government these days, a straight-up lie. Actually there is a day that they all have in mind down there to reconvene, early in 2008. It's all part of the move toward annual sessions of the Legislature, which at best is an end run around that pesky little document known as the State Constitution. Oh well. They don't get paid much, and we get what we pay for, and so if they want to have some more meetings in Salem, let them. It's better than them heading off with the beer guys to Maui again.
They got a handful of good things done down there this time around -- for a change -- but it was by no means a blockbuster session in terms of accomplishments. The pundits all seem to be taking a deep breath before digging in and compiling a complete scorecard. I'm definitely in that camp as well. It will take a while to read what they actually passed and sort it all out.
To me this may be the Democratic Party's one and only chance at complete control of the state government for a while. Some of what they did -- particularly the Measure 37 "fix" -- was brave but is going to hurt legislators in unsafe districts. What's more, three long-time senators are already packing it in -- Brown, Walker, and Gordly -- and there may be more to come. Walker barely won the last time around, and the Democratic margin in the House is, of course, razor-thin.
Many probably think that there will be a Democratic landslide in the 2008 Presidential election, and that the Oregon Legislature will be swept along once again in that movement. I fondly hope that both of those projections come true, but at the moment, I wouldn't bet a nickel on either of them.
Emilie: "I'm still here."
Judge: "Ms. Boyles, before you testify again, I think you'd better get a lawyer."
Emilie: "Good idea, Judge."
Jurors: "I knew I should have called in sick."
Opie: "You see? The system is working."
Fireman Randy: "Can't wait to get mine!"
Call me crazy, but I've got a feeling that free tickets to Blazer games aren't going to be as easy to come by as they have been in the recent past. With the addition of man child Greg Oden and the casting off of sleazy Zach Randolph, the Rose City hoopsters are poised to surge in popularity. If prima donna Knick point guard Steve Francis is really going to play here, that could mean big trouble from a chemistry point of view, but it wouldn't hurt to have somebody on the dang team over the age of 30. And if the Blazers are going to ship him out somehow and get the killer outside shooter that they so desperately need in his place, even better. Portland also gets Channing Frye, a big young forward who could contribute substantially but is more likely to wind up floating around at the Ime Udoka level -- respectable, but not a star.
Duck fans are crying that Dan Dickau and Fred Jones are apparently headed to New York (where they'll be chewed up and spit out), but let's face it, neither is a major talent. Now Darius Miles needs to bow out of Portlandia gracefully. If he doesn't, when he inevitably shows up out of shape and acting like a bum, it would be a great morale move to waive him, plain and simple.
It surely appears that the Portland team's management is contemplating another serious move or two in the short term. But nothing's certain until it's finalized. For now, Oden is definitely coming and Randolph is most likely leaving. Jail Blazer Ho Nights at the Vintage Plaza are over. I'll toast to that.
Meanwhile, did you know that college players who declare themselves eligible to be selected in the pro draft and don't get picked can't go back and play in college if they've hired an agent (which they'd have been crazy not to do)? That's just plain awful.
Many youngsters love a snack called "Veggie Booty." Around our place we called it "kiddie crack" for a while. But it turns out, the people who make it are not good people. First they were busted for lying about what was in the stuff. Now there's a salmonella outbreak -- dozens of toddlers sick as dogs from eating this trash.
It's time for Robert's American Gourmet to pack it in before they do any more harm. I know one household that will never contain another one of their products. If ever there was a need for a national boycott of all products made by a particular manufacturer, this is it.
A reader sends along these photos, which he tells us (and he's always reliable) are "from a drug house raided by Mexico's special organized crime task force":
That ain't hay!
Forget those eco-roofs -- how about solar panels on a bunch of county buildings? That's what Multnomah County's about to get into under a deal unveiled yesterday by new County Commish Jeff "Little Big Pipe" Cogen.
Of course, there's a small catch -- always is, around these parts. The panels will be owned by a private company, and the county will still have to pay for the power they generate, just like it pays for juice now. All that's in it for the county taxpayers is that they will own the panels after they're 10 years old and the all the alternative energy tax credits for the private investors have dried up. Still, it should mean free power for the county at that point.
Hmmmm... O.k., I'll buy that (somewhat skeptically). Now let's talk about who's getting rich on this deal. Is the transaction going to be marketed in an open process, to the highest bidder? Or wait... don't tell me... we've already got the investors lined up?
The way things work in Portland, I wouldn't be surprised if some Peter Kohler or Tom Walsh types wind up being our new ecological "saviors." Indeed, I'll be surprised if it isn't somebody on Steve Janik's speed-dial.
Yesterday I reported that at tonight's speech at Portland State by fired Seattle U.S. Attorney John McKay, admission is free. In fact, as a reader alertly pointed out, that is not true. I thought otherwise because of an e-mail message that had been sent to people at my place of work offering free admission. That offer was good only for members of that group.
However, we do know that the sponsors of the event want a packed house, and so if you can't afford the tickets (I believe they are listed as $25 and $15), you may be able to plead poverty at the door and get yourself in without paying. It may depend on how many paying ticketholders show up.
Apologies for the confusion.
Try not to catch it.
A condo tower where Lincoln High School is now? Sure sounds like it. In today's WW, all the code words are there:
[A]t Lincoln High School, where parents and community members are in the initial stages of re-imagining the downtown campus as a mixed-use hub of city services and possibly other offerings such as housing. Lincoln, with about 1,500 students, needs at least 14 new classrooms on its Southwest Portland campus. Words like "green" and "sustainable" color the current discussions. But don't break out the champagne just yet; this is a plan for a planned plan. Principal Peyton Chapman says the committee is thinking "big" with a vision beyond Lincoln."Mixed-use hub"? In Portland, that invariably means that somebody at the Arlington Club is about to get a lot richer at public expense. If I were the parent of a Lincoln student (or prospective Lincoln student), I'd be very, very wary.
A reader writes:
While walking our dog at the school, my wife found a discarded homework assignment for a middle school student. It was a project proposal called Peopling the Nation. The project is a research project with two components: first, the family/ancestry aspect; and second, the historical/cultural aspect. The student should describe what he/she expects to learn about each one. The proposal was due January 2, 2007. Written, apparently by the teacher, was the only comment on the assignment - "late".
A scan of the page is attached. Handwritten on the page by the student was as follows:
"Before my mom had me my family lived in Somalia. In Somalia there were a war going on so my family moved to Kenya. When the war was going on it was in 1990. After three years later in Kenya my mom was pregnen the year of 1993. A boy named Abu was in the stomach. When I was coming out of the stomeck was Jan 19, 1993. Me and my family stayed in Kenya for three years intell 1996. We stayed in Kenya in the city called Mombasa, Kenya. When my family was living in Mombasa we were poor so my grandmom told my mom that I will live with her in Lamu. When we were poor we had to go to the refugee camp. Then there were American people who offered us to go to America. When we were living from Kenya my mom was pregnet again cause she was having my sister. Our family had a hard time living in Africa but if we go now we wont have a hard time.
"My project would be about how me and my family had a hard time in Africa and how hard ways in refugee camp. I will talk about how we got to America and since then how freedom was in America."
At the bottom, the parent approval space was signed and the teacher approval space was blank.
After reading the discarded assignment I wondered: Did the teacher notice Abu? Did this proposal become a project? Virtually every family if you go back far enough has an interesting, courageous or compelling story of the germination of their American journey. But the currency of Abu's story made it poignant. Abu's story is what Peopling the Nation is all about, isn't it, even if the homework is late? Was this a learning moment for the entire class? At a time when illegal immigration is hotly debated, this legal immigration story is full of promise. It seems to me Abu is going to do just fine in this country.
Still quite the piece of work. Wonder if she'll ever pay any more of the money back.
Here's one that got me thinking.
It's been nearly four months now since they raided that Portland police officer's home, where someone apparently had some sort of drug operation going. The officer was suspended at that point. Any word in our local media about what it was all about?
Nope. Still nothing.
Portlanders apparently have got only a few more days to register for sewer discounts if the stormwater off their roof doesn't run into the city's sewer system. The official version of what you need to know is here.
Meanwhile, a knowledgeable reader sends along these thoughts about the program:
This is the fulfillment of Sam "The Tram" Adams' promise to bring back the flawed stormwater discount program. Flawed because the majority of the costs of stormwater management (70-90%) are related to runoff from the public right of way, not from private property (large impervious areas such as parking lots do add to the costs, but they are already billed based on area).
This new effort is estimated to cost a few million to start up and maintain. If homeowners (there are discounts for business properties as well) claim that their roof runoff soaks into the ground on their own property, they can get a discount. Homeowners who can't do the simple downspout disconnections or afford more elaborate infiltration systems won't get the discount. Homeowners on the hilly west side, with unstable soils that are prone to sliding if saturated, are unlikely to qualify.
Stormwater rates will go up for everybody to pay for this, so getting the discount basically keeps the stormwater portion of your bill about the same as it was before the rate hike. Those who don't get the discount will be paying for those who do.
Policy analysts such as Dan Vizzini at BES know this is bad policy, but they have their marching orders. Because we all benefit from stormwater management, it really should be funded through a tax of some sort. But because of the property tax limitation, regulatory magic somehow transforms this into a user fee....
I try not to rant and rave about the Big Pipe (makes the tram and other questionable expenditures look like chump change), but at least this offers a way for some Portlanders to ease the pain a little. Of course, those who don't qualify are just SOL.
The fellow who was recently fired as the U.S. attorney in western Washington (one of the group of eight forced out of office in the infamous Alberto Gonzales purge) will be in town tomorrow night to give a talk. His name is John McKay, and he'll be speaking at Portland State as part of the kickoff of a new fellowships program being started up in memory of the late Sid Lezak, former U.S. attorney in our own state.
The talk will be in the PSU Ballroom and start at 7:30 p.m.
A reader writes:
They're releasing the iPhone Friday night at 6. After the markets close on the last day of the quarter. I don't know much about taxes and finance, but I know that's significant. Why, though?Interesting point. Maybe they expect a huge spike in sales, and they want it all in the same quarter to show how dramatic it is? I believe that Apple's fiscal year ends at or near the end of September, and if so this coming quarter would be their last quarter for the current fiscal year.
Has any of our financially savvy readers got an answer?
Bone weary. Eyelids heavy. Can't think straight. A perfect state of mind in which to blog, actually. But the flesh is too weak. Hypnos is talking to me...
Another bar exam is on the horizon, and here in Oregon, tax is a subject that may be tested on. And so off I go to help the candidates cram.
UPDATE, 4:28 p.m.: After I drone on and on about the subject for four hours plus, I'm not sure who's more beat up -- the audience or me. But you add a hot couple of hours on I-5 from Eugene back to Portland, and there's no contest -- it's me.
Last week, we had a thread going on the longest-lasting damage perpetrated by George W. Bush. Those of you who didn't say the Supreme Court appointments ought to check out what the Chimp appointees brought us today. Let's see -- if government violates the separation of church and state, there's no recourse in federal court. The feds can finesse the Endangered Species Act by laying off enforcement to the states. Teenage kids can be kicked out of school for holding up a sign that says something inane like "Bong hits for Jesus." And any campaign finance reform you try to pass can easily be circumvented with thinly veiled attack ads that purport to be about "issues," rather than candidates.
And that's all in just one day! We've got another 20 or 30 years of this to go. Enjoy, America. "Let's put a clown in the White House -- what difference does it make, as long as he cuts my taxes?" You are about to find out.
I'm guessing she'll be the next Oregon Secretary of State.
Well, our complaint letters about the two Oregonian newsracks at the intersection of NE 24th and Fremont have brought about some serious corrective action. As regular readers here will recall, this is our ongoing test case to see what the rules are about newsracks on Portland sidewalks -- and to check out enforcement (if any) of those rules. While we're fussing over parade duct tape and hassling street people for sitting on the sidewalks, we think those ubiquitous streetside newsboxes are fair game as well.
On Thursday morning, we got a call (which was taken by the Mrs., as we were out of town) from Commissioner Sam Adams's office. They left a message with her to the effect that they would send someone out to take a look at the situation and get back to us.
Sometime between early Friday afternoon (we checked it out on our way home from the airport) and early Saturday afternoon (when we cruised by there again), the most offensive newspaper box -- the graffiti-littered O box on the northeast corner -- had been unchained from the traffic signal pole and removed, leaving only the untethered Tribune box:
The situation that's left on that corner is much closer to city standards than before, but to our eye the Trib box still encroaches into the "no private use" zone, which extends northward (to the left in the photo below) five feet from an imaginary extension of the property line on the lot of the corner (which would appear to be the line of the fence and brick box holding greenery, a little further back in the photo, that faces Fremont to the right):
This is a shame, because as of earlier last week, the Trib box had been moved mostly or entirely out of that zone, as we saw in this photo.
Still, as of today there are no graffiti or illegal chains, and the remaining newsrack is out of the "obstruction free" zone, which the O box was partially blocking before.
Over on the southwest corner, the other O box has been removed from its prior location:
But it hasn't disappeared -- it just moved around the corner, so that now it's on the 24th side of the intersection, rather than the Fremont side:
As you can see, it isn't tied to anything, legally or illegally, and it's clean of graffiti. But like the remaining Trib box on the northeast corner, the O box here is still well within the "no private use" zone.
It's gratifying to see these reductions in visual clutter and improvements in pedestrian access, but as just noted, we're still not sure that the O or Trib boxes are 100 percent legal. We also don't know whether the O made its moves on its own (in response to the letters we sent to them), or to what extent the city got on their case to make it happen. We're still hoping to hear back from someone at the city to get clarification on those points.
In that conversation, we're also hoping to get to the bigger issue of what specifically can be done about the dozens of other illegal newsracks that can be found all over the city. Where can normal people (not us, obviously) go to get at least the biggest offenders removed, cleaned up, or replaced? What information should be relayed to whom, and how? How bad does a violation have to be for the city to get involved? We know what we did in this case, but it would be nice to know what's going to be the most efficient and effective avenue to keep the sidewalks as clear as the law requires. We'll write more on this topic once we have that information -- if not before.
And there's more to consider. Is the Portland law requiring the right things? What should the city code say about streetside newsracks? Well worth further discussion.
Anyway, we would be remiss if we did not thank the Trib and the O for what has been done so far in our test case.
Here's a neat Portland-area blog that might be easy to overlook.
Have you heard? There's a major ongoing crisis in the condition of the streets, bridges, and traffic signals of Portland, Oregon.
Well, if you live here, of course you've heard. How can you not have heard, when the city's transportation bureaucrats have begun harping on this issue at every turn, as of a few weeks ago? Here's a mailer that's been sent out to every postal customer in the city. Our copy of this 8½-by-5½-inch two-color document arrived on Friday:
As if that weren't enough, on Saturday we got a robo-call telling us we needed to attend the meeting on this emergency, Tuesday night in our part of town. A robo-call! Even though we are on the official government no-call list, and even though we pay the phone company a pretty penny to play a recorded announcement to all callers telling them we don't accept solicitations.
All this nattering about the city's transportation "trouble" has the hallmarks of a single politician -- Commissioner Sam "the Tram" Adams -- and it's infuriating on so many different levels that one has to stop and get out a clipboard to count them all.
First and foremost, the nature of the city's fiscal irresponsibility when it comes to transportation is obvious. We're spending entirely too much money on shiny condo marketing toys like streetcars and the aerial tram, and the basics of street, bridge, and traffic light maintenance have been neglected. It's been going on for years, and the cumulative weight of all the toys is starting to make itself felt.
I got a kick out of the Tram-meister's spin on this, as reported by blogger Amanda Fritz last week. "Only $1.6m of City funding goes annually to subsidize Streetcar operations." ONLY! And that's up $600,000 in the last two years. A million six a year would fix a lot of potholes. As would the hundreds of thousands -- we never got a straight answer as to how many, but lets say $300,000 a year -- which make up the city's share of operating the lovely OHSU aerial tram [rim shot]. There's $2 million down the condo developer rat hole. Every year. Forever.
And even if it's too late to stop paying for that now -- we're not going to rip up the streetcars we have or tear down the tram -- we continue to talk about adding more. Streetcars up and down MLK (Joe Weston's already got the accompanying towers lined up), streetcars all along Burnside in the wasteful traffic "couplet" -- streetcars, streetcars, streetcars. Every single extension will cost the city a quarter million a year, forever, once it's built. If we've got so much "trouble," maybe we ought to think twice about making it worse.
Second, the emergency tone of these crisis pronouncements is absurd. The deterioration of Portland's streets has been, and continues to be, gradual. The roads, bridges, and traffic signals have been neglected on a serious basis for around a decade -- back to when then-Mayor Vera Katz agreed with Homer Williams and Neil Goldschmidt that the city needed to invest all its money in promoting condominium tower development. There is simply nothing new in this story that warrants the breathless robo-calls and scary direct mail.
Third, it's outrageous that Sam the Tram is making a big deal out of this issue. He is a prime cause of the problem. The legacy of neglect dates back to Katz, Adams's political godmother, who employed him as her chief of staff for many years. And since his friend Opie pulled the strings and got him elected to the council, Adams has devotedly carried water for the developer moneybags -- the only real beneficiaries of the shiny toy transit that sucks up all the transportation money Portland ever has to spend.
If the system is "in trouble," it's Adams's fault as much as anyone's, and for him to start grandstanding on the sorry state of our streets is the ultimate in gall. He's such a smooth talker, I hear -- he must be, not to be pelted with the rotten tomatoes he deserves at his "town hall" meetings on the subject. (Which, I might add, are conveniently called on short notice in the summer, when no one's around -- a classic Portland City Hall tactic.)
Next, the Adams methodology for raising taxes is nauseatingly cute. "With your help we can save lives." Come on, man, do we look that stupid? You frame the "conversation" you're asking for in terms of choosing among alternatives for new taxes -- gas tax, property tax, car registration tax, whatever. But of course, the word "tax" appears nowhere in any of the red-hot crisis literature. It's all about "transportation priorities and funding options." Uh huh.
Moreover, the timing of this publicity campaign is highly suspicious. It's pretty clear that Tom Potter's going to step down as mayor after one term -- officially, he's playing coy until September, but I'm sure he's already tipped his hand to his colleagues on the council -- and it's no secret that Adams and his supporters think he's going to be the next mayor. Never mind that he lost the primary last time -- he's emboldened enough by his upset win in the general election that he thinks he can become the new Vera.
I'm sure he's figured out, though, that basic transportation needs are a negative for him. Many Portlanders are fed up with the sorry condition of our roads, bridges, and traffic signals, and if any politician is to take the blame for those problems, it's the transportation commissioner -- Sam the Tram. And so the sudden urgency is all a push to make it look as though he's equally outraged, and that somehow he had nothing to do with it. Heck, he might even convince the OSPIRG and Bus Kid sheep that he's the one who discovered there was a problem. And then he'll make hay out of acting as though he's the champion of the public good. (Not to mention that as soon as you say "new taxes," you pick up several thousand public employee votes.)
A right-wing corporate guy starts throwing contributions at a lefty congressman like Peter DeFazio, and then all of a sudden the guy's competitors get jobbed out of a decent chance to bid on a juicy government contract to spend federal money. Please, U.S. Attorney Karen Immergut -- stay sound asleep! There's nothing of any interest to you in today's paper.
It's been up for a week and I almost missed it, but Cafe Unknown has a great Rose Festival retrospective going, here.
Here's George Bush's war. And it's not work safe.
Happy birthday to Jeff Beck.
My business trip to Boulder this week was a quick affair. I went from airport to hotel and back, with a speech in between, and I didn't get my feet on the ground for more than a shuttle bus trip to a nearby shopping center for provisions, and dinner at a nearby restaurant. But on my way in and out between the remote Denver Airport and Boulder, I got a great look at the east side of the magnificent Rocky Mountains.
I watched the blasting hot high-90s sun set behind them in blaze of glory on Wednesday evening, and I got a chance to think back to the first time I had seen that sight. It was 1974, and I was riding in the back seat of a Plymouth Duster. My friend Gerry and his girlfriend Janice were moving from Jersey to Arizona so that he could go to law school, and I was literally just along for the ride.
It turned out to be a defining moment. Along the way -- visiting friends in Milwaukee, seeing the Badlands, Rushmore, Yellowstone -- the scales fell from my eyes. It seemed like the nation was falling apart -- Nixon resigned while we were camping and tripping through Dylan Country in Minnesota -- and it was a perfect time to question everything about my life up that point. Before this trip I had never been west of Washington, D.C. I loved my home and family in Jersey, but the three of us had set out to see what else there was. And we were not disappointed.
By the time we drove out of Lusk, Wyoming and approached Colorado, our minds had already been blown in more ways than one. But it was on the highway around Boulder somewhere, a mile high, jaw-dropping scenery everywhere, that it dawned on me: This was my future. My days in Jersey were numbered.
We stopped the car so that I could take this picture. It was developed back east, after I flew home. I had it blown up, and I put it in a frame on the dresser in my room in mom's house, where it served as a beacon for the next nine or 10 months until the day came for me to make my move:
I remember that we stopped to see Estes Park. By the time we hit town, the August day was already waning. We cruised through the touristy part of town, and our eyes were as big as saucers as we looked around. I flirted with a beautiful gal behind the counter of an eating establishment. She was about my age -- in college somewhere. I don't remember exactly what we said to each other, but I recall asking her what she thought of the place. She looked at me with the clearest eyes that I think I had ever seen at that point, and she made it known that she was deeply in love with the mountains. She was hooked.
The precise details of where I was headed wouldn't be worked out until the following February or so. But after that night there was not a shadow of a doubt where I was headed. It was west, far west. As Bruce used to say, "It was bye bye New Jersey; we were airborne."
An old friend turns up after 31 years.
Tourists from Atlanta, that is.
Here's a great song for this day, a great arrangement, The Voice, and a strangely absorbing video:
From 9 this morning to 1 this afternoon (West Coast time), head over here for more such music.
Whole Foods has shocked the New York City shopping world with a new checkout queue system.
I find ways to annoy people without hardly trying. The other day I mentioned that I was sending letters via "snail mail," which prompted this response from a post office employee:
Thanks for the site, I enjoy reading it daily and infrequently post comments. Appreciating the time it takes to comment, I would request you not refer to mail delivery as 'snail mail'.Actually, I love the folks who work for the Postal Service in our neighborhood. They are great, and at the risk of jinxing it, we get fantastic service for those 41 cent stamps.
Okay, I work for the Postal Service. We provide the best, most efficient and cost effective service in the world. While no organization is perfect, the Postal Service allows residents, regardless of location, age, or social circumstance to mail at the same rate; handled systematically and delivered promptly.
The Postal Service does not discriminate regarding location, economics or age (let alone all those other categories of discrimination). We do deliver timely -- granted, not instantaneously -- remember how much you pay for Internet convenience... 41 cents?
The Postal Service does not charge extra for citizens of Alaska or Hawaii nor does it give a break to Wall Street analysts. Its all about the weight shape and size of the mail piece. Granted, if you mail a million catalogs, you will get a price break, like most companies, as an example.
The Postal Service provides a cost effective service -- unmatched my any other mail service in the world. Forget the idea of rain, sleet and snow... we just deliver.
I guess from here on out, "snail mail" is a no-no. So what do we call it? "Conventional mail"?
Spokane's latest export: really good torture.
We've been remote blogging here for the last day, and we're packing up to head back to the Rose City. As usual, we'll give you a crack at guessing where we've been. Your first hint: The temperature here has been in the high 90s the last few days.
UPDATE, 6/22, 6:45 a.m.: Here's another clue: "It keeps changin' fast and it don't last for long."
UPDATE, 9:28 a.m.: The place is sometimes described as 14 square miles surrounded by reality.
Here's the can't-miss story of the day.
Our complaint letters regarding illegal newsracks in Portland went out in the snail mail this morning. Recall that we're making a test case of two Oregonian boxes at Northeast 24th and Fremont that are in apparent violation of the city code.
Already we've gotten an e-response from the addressee of the only note we sent by e-mail: city graffiti abatement coordinator Marcia Dennis. One of the O boxes has prominent nasty graffiti on it, and it's been there for ages, in violation of the city code section that requires property owners to remove tags within 10 days.
Ms. Dennis wrote, in relevant part:
I will try to find a person at the "O" who will take responsibility for the cleanup of the box. Newspaper boxes on corners are a long-time gripe of mine, mostly with regards to the ever-present graffiti. Check out the mess at SE 37th and Hawthorne outside Starbucks. Taggers are so lazy they've created 'slap-tags' and literally covered those boxes and it happens all over town. (Usually not to such a degree as those at Starbucks).We'll keep readers posted as any additional responses trickle in. It's supposed to be your sidewalk, people.
A SW community volunteer wrote a letter to the Trib about the condition of a box on Capitol Hwy and got a very friendly response (from Steve Clark) and promise to take care of the (one) box.
I think I will write to them and suggest they should be responsible for ALL the boxes they've got on street corners in Portland...
Usually the only people cleaning newspaper boxes with any regularity are volunteers, and then, most often only during organized events. We (the City abatement program...) should notify all the companies responsible for these boxes and make them aware of city code/their responsibility to maintain these eyesores. So much work, so little time.
My friend Rey Ramsey may finally be making the political moves that many of us have been waiting for him to make for around 25 years.
He sent around an e-mail today to announce that his nonprofit organization, One Economy Corporation, is about to launch an online "social media web property." It's called 247townhall.org, and the "Portland version" of it is here.
I'm not sure at first glance what this site is (other than slow to load) -- a blog? A MySpace? A chat room? All of the above? It's going to be a political video site as well. Ramsey points out:
This Friday, June 22nd at 9am PDT, we will webcast a town hall meeting live from New Orleans on Poverty in America. I will be hosting the event with appearances by Senator Hillary Clinton, former Governor Mitt Romney, former HUD Secretary Jack Kemp, James Carville, and other leaders who will offer their thoughts on poverty alleviation in the 21st century. Those who watch the event online have the opportunity to send in questions for our speakers. We anticipate an engaging discussion and would appreciate your virtual attendance on Friday at 9am PDT. To participate, simply go to http://portland.247townhall.org and you will see a large banner for the live event. Click that banner and it will take you directly to the webcast and interactive features related to the event.For me the real punchline is buried elsewhere in the announcement: "As a fellow Oregonian, I believe that this site will contribute to the improvement of our communities by providing people with the tools to create content and engage with others on issues important to all of us." The "fellow Oregonian" thing is a little like Hillary's "fellow lifelong Yankee fan" thing. Rey keeps a condo in the Pearl, but he spends most of his time in D.C., where One Economy is based.
He'll be running for something in Oregon soon, and showing off his many world-class "progressive" friends won't hurt a bit.
Portland city government is so green. Here's an example: an $8.5 million outright subsidy about to go out for a lovely...
"No garage, no tower, Winkler says." Hey, fine with me, man.
Where's Chris Smith? Where's Earl the Pearl? Where's Fireman Randy? Where are all our many local eco-heroes? Public money for parking?
Over the next few days in the greater Portland area, you may encounter people who are compulsively tapping on and rustling inanimate objects, clapping their hands, snapping their fingers, slapping various parts of their body, moving around in rhythm, and especially stomping their feet. General overall crazy behavior. Do not be alarmed, and try not to get annoyed. It's just that they have become infected by this.
You have to love Portland city government. The people who run it can lie right to your face and never break a smile. Like all the self-back-patting they do about what a wonderful financial condition the city is in. "The bond rating agencies love us now more than ever... We win prizes for our budget presentations... We've got our pension liability problems on the run... Everything's great financially."
A few months later, they hit us with this.
Hey, City Hall -- were you lying to us then, or are you lying to us now?
In the requisite Blog Vanity Department (or is that redundant?), we note that unique visit no. 1,500,000 to this blog just took place. A Comcast customer in Eugene was here to fill that spot. As always when we reach one of these mileposts, the lucky visitor receives a free lifetime subscription to this site.
It's been a long ride since July of '02 -- five years of blogging, and a million and a half browser landings here. What does it all mean? We wish we knew.
Is this a good idea? Or just more useless red tape?
Here's one of the funniest e-mails I have received in a long time:
Greetings,Where would I begin?
I am contacting you on behalf of ARCADE Magazine, a quarterly publication focused on architecture and design in the Pacific Northwest. We’re preparing for our September issue and would like to include some words from people like you about Randy Gragg. As you well know, he has recently left his post at The Oregonian, and we want to know what you have to say about his tenure there, his opinions, his role in the Northwest design community. Has his contribution been valuable? Has his work been influential or productive?
If you or anyone else in your office or organization would like to share your thoughts with us, please reply to this email, or you may send a Word attachment. Please keep your responses brief. We will be in touch if we need to edit your words in any way.
ARCADE Architecture + Design in the Northwest
1201 Alaskan Way
Pier 56, Suite 200
206 726 1011 . office direct
206 334 4384 . mobile
I know one job this kid will never have: residential renovation contractor.
This one seems a little less innocent than flowers in a peace sign.
I've drafted up the letters I plan to send to folks at The Oregonian and the City of Portland regarding those illegally placed newsracks at the corner of NE 24th and Fremont. The letter to the O (a .doc file) is here; the similar letter to the city is here.
Let me know what you'd add, subtract, or change. I'll be mailing (and e-mailing, where possible) these babies in the morning.
Just got an e-mail from the Portland school board that Leon Dudley is officially out as principal at Jefferson High. Is this news?
That "right to bear arms" only went so far for this fellow.
A regular reader writes:
Here is a debate topic to consider:Ah, but nothing stumps our readers!
What is the area that G. Bush has messed up that will have the LONGEST lasting effect?
Think of the possibilities.
An attack on Iran, if it happens?
Not working for peace between Israel and Palestine?
The budget deficits, which will last for decades?
Torture of prisoners, which may affect the treatment of captured U.S. soldiers in the future?
Loss of U.S. civil liberties?
Illegal immigration into the U.S, which may encourage illegal behavior of many types by many people?
Handing the Democrats the House, Senate, and Presidency in 2008 to operate without checks and balances?
It is hard to know what the answer is.
During a wonderful Father's Day siesta, I dreamed about this song.
Our state rep, Jackie Dingfelder, is always sending out newsletters. Her latest has an interesting line in it: "On the same day, June 7th, Governor Kulongoski also signed into law, SB 707, the expansion of Oregon's bottle bill. SB 707 adds water and water-flavored beverages to the types of beverage containers covered under Oregon's bottle bill."
I can see how the water bottles are a big deal. But I don't think there's much call for "water-flavored beverages" in these parts.
I'm not surprised. He's always taken an interest in helping children.
Here's a new one: a parallel between the war in Iraq and European settlement of the American West.
The Times had a story in its business section yesterday that read almost like an opinion piece. The author was David Cay Johnston, a Times reporter well known as an authority on taxation. The piece took state and local governments to task over tax subsidies for development projects that reward people who have already piled up tons of dough, with very little return to the public for its money. Small-town airports seem to be a particular magnet for this sort of abuse.
Johnston's case in point? Bandon, Oregon.
As mentioned in a flash here yesterday afternoon, we have news to report in the case of The Illegal Newsracks at 24th and Fremont. At our urging, the folks at the Trib have taken action to remedy the apparent violations of the City of Portland code caused by two of their distribution boxes at that intersection.
Now, as we found out when we went out there to inspect a little while later, they didn't do anything dramatic. But they did detach their box on the northeast corner of the intersection from the pedestrian traffic signal pole, which cures one violation. They also moved that box a few feet northward, which may or may not be far enough to get it out of the "no private use" zone required by the city's "pedestrian design guidelines." And if the box has not been moved quite far enough (we didn't have our tape measure with us to determine an exact distance), it misses the mark by a lot less than previously -- perhaps even close enough for government work. Here are the before and after shots:
Of course, the O box is still in violation of at least two city code sections, including encroachment on the "obstruction free" zone on the corner.
Over on the southwest corner of the intersection, the Trib box was a few inches over the "no private use" zone line, and they fixed that by moving it westward, switching places with a box containing publications by an outfit called "Alternatives." Now the "Alternatives" box is probably over the line by an inch or two, but again, it's close enough to legal for me. (The Trib also unhooked its box from the no-parking sign, but based on our reading of the code, that wasn't necessary for compliance.) The O box is once again still a violator. Here's the before and after:
What all this means is that we've got two fewer complaint letters to send out on Monday. At least at this intersection, at least for now, the Trib has cleaned up its act and is more or less off the hook.
Of course, the fact that it may now be in compliance with what the code requires doesn't tell us much about what the code should require. Even when they're done by the book (which seems to occur infrequently), newsracks may still constitute hazards and visual clutter that warrant stricter regulation. But we're getting way ahead of ourselves there. Let's stay focused for a while on the city rules as currently written. Specifically, we still need to get the wheels of justice turning with the O.
One last note: I say the Trib is "more or less" off the hook, because the city code technically forbids leaving anything on the sidewalk for more than two hours. I am assuming here that due to free speech-free press constitutional provisions, anything goes other than attaching to a city pole or violating the "pedestrian design guidelines." I could be wrong about that, in which case the Trib, at least in the realm of pure theory, might still be breaking the law here, even with the corrective actions it has taken.
They sold their stake in Fox News, too. All of their money is in cash accounts now, so that no one will ask any questions about it.
By disposing of all their stocks, Mrs. Clinton was seeking to avoid potential conflicts of interest that might arise from legislation that she votes on in the Senate, as well as avoid holding financial stakes in companies and industries — like Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation, the owner of Fox News — that could draw criticism from some Democratic voters.Losing out on a chance to make some bucks -- it must be killing them. Oh well. Once her candidacy is over, she can just go back to the commodities market for another 530 percent overnight return. And that was just beginner's luck -- you can imagine the kind of dough they can rake in now.
Pink Martini played a packed Carnegie Hall this week.
Especially all you dads out there.
Harry Nilsson would have been 66 years old today.
This just in to our e-mailbox:
Jack –Film at 11...
Thank you for pointing out that one of our racks was interfering with pedestrian traffic on the sidewalk at 24th and Fremont. It is certainly our goal to be a good neighbor and we appreciate knowing when there are opportunities to provide better service to our readers. As you can imagine, it is sometimes challenging to balance the needs of folks looking for a convenient place to pick up a copy of the Portland Tribune while respecting the wishes of people who may not want to have one of our boxes in their neighborhood. Unfortunately, not everyone is comfortable communicating readily and we frequently have racks disappear if we don’t fasten them to a nearby inanimate object. And, of course, there are probably a few folks who would toss one of our boxes into the nearest river or dumpster out of protest or just for the sheer fun of it!
We have taken care of the 2 racks that you pointed out to us. Please let me know if there is any way that we can better serve you.
Kevin J Hohnbaum
Circulation Director & Associate Publisher
Community Newspapers & Portland Tribune
So you've found a newsrack on a Portland sidewalk that doesn't comply with the city code. (That was easy, wasn't it?) So now what? Where do you go to get the violation remedied?
It's hard to tell for sure. As we noted here yesterday when we found four newspaper boxes (two peddling the O and two giving away the Trib) violating the law on the corner of NE 24th and Fremont, two sections of the code forbid what's going on at that intersection: 17.44.010(A), forbidding sidewalk obstructions generally; and 17.64.040, forbidding attaching any object to any part of the city's street lighting or traffic signal systems. The four boxes also violate the city's "pedestrian design guidelines," whose precise legal relationship to the city code is unclear to us. One of the O's boxes also violates the city code provision requiring prompt graffiti removal. (I'll leave the spirit of the city's sidewalk sign rules out of this discussion, but the O boxes also could raise questions on that score as well.)
One obvious place to go is to the managements of the publications being dispensed from those boxes. It would be easy enough to complain to the publishers and circulation departments of the two offending newspapers, and quite interesting to see what kind of response that would get.
But what about the city? Which city officials are responsible for enforcing those sections of the code, and the "pedestrian design guidelines"?
Let's start with 17.44.010(A), on objects left on sidewalks generally. There's nothing in that chapter (17.44) specifically about violations and enforcement, but there's quite a bit of authority on related matters granted to the city engineer. Indeed, chapter 17.46, dealing with newsracks on the transit mall, explicitly puts the city engineer in charge in that part of town.
As for 17.64.040, on attaching objects to street lighting and traffic signal systems, there's no explicit discussion, anywhere we could find at least, of violations and enforcement of that provision, either. But a nearby section of the code appears to give authority to the Bureau of Transportation System Management for traffic signal system issues, and to the Bureau of General Services for street lighting issues. In our case, two of the offending boxes are attached to a traffic signal system, and so the Bureau of Transportation System Management seems the likely place to complain.
Now, what about those intrusions into the "obstruction free" and "no private use" zones on the sidewalks? Who is supposed to enforce those rules? Not entirely clear, but the "pedestrian design guidelines" document was officially issued by the city engineer, and so it appears that he or she would be in charge of enforcement there as well. (There is apparently also a city traffic engineer, but we don't read the code as getting him or her involved in enforcement of these aspects of the law.)
In sum, based on our best internet sleuthing through the city code itself, the responsible parties in city government for our complaint are the City Engineer and the Bureau of Transportation System Management. O.k., so who are these people, and to whom do they answer?
First and foremost, who the heck is the City Engineer? Nobody on the city's organizational chart seems to go by that title. As best we can make out, it's either the director of the Office of Transportation, Sue Keil, or her underling, the Director of that office's Engineering & Development Bureau, Don Gardner. As for the Bureau of Transportation System Management, the director of that group is Lavinia Gordon. All three, of course, work for Commissioner Sam Adams, the City Council member who runs the transportation office. Readers in the know, please correct us if we've got that wrong.
And so it looks as though we've got letters to send to a bunch of people: two at the O, two at the Trib, three people in the Office of Transportation, Sam Adams, and what the heck -- might as well send copies to the other four members of the City Council. See if we can get any of them to do anything about the newsrack situation on our corner, just as a test case. (Oh, and we mustn't forget the graffiti abatement officer about the nasty tag on the O box.)
If not, there are other avenues of complaint and protest, I suppose. But let's see what happens when we go through the most obvious channels first. We'll work on the complaint letters over the weekend and give readers a look at them on Monday.
Well, LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavalier teammates completely collapsed in the pro basketball hoops final series, being swept in four games by the San Antonio Spurs. The Cavs' shooting was awful in Game 4 last night, and once again bad coaching at the end of the contest didn't help their chances at all. It had been a pleasant surprise to see them defeat the thuggish Detroit Pistons to reach the finals, but the Cavs proved in the end that the Eastern Conference is a pretty weak place to play hoops overall.
The Spurs are winning the trophy every other year now, and although they're old, they're probably not through as a championship contender for the future. Alas, this particular title will come with an asterisk on it in some folks' minds, since San Antonio won their crucial earlier series against the Phoenix Suns (the only other team playing at their level) in a controversial way. Wily Spurs veteran Robert Horry (who's been on title-winning teams seven times now) took a major cheap shot at Suns star Steve Nash toward the end of a game late in the series, and two of the Suns who reacted to it were suspended for the next game. Unlike some, I don't disagree with the discipline that the league imposed with respect to that incident, but it's too bad that Horry and his teammates didn't simply outplay Phoenix, rather than baiting them into a costly melee.
Anyway, that's it for the NBA until the upcoming draft on the 28th, where the Blazers will no doubt use their no. 1 overall pick to take Greg Oden, the man-child center from Ohio State. There will be some trades around that time as well, no doubt, since the addition of this consensus superstar of the future will crowd out some other Portland big man (or two). In the meantime, all hail the Spurs (except for Horry).
Portland's architects don't like people who call them out on the way they're ruining Portland, and stealing from its taxpayers. So it's no big surprise that they don't like me, and the feeling's pretty much mutual.
Here's an interesting blog post by Amanda Fritz about the latest shenanigans with Planning Commission appointments. What shinola -- it's got that Sam the Tram smell all over it. Goldschmidt Network galore. Anyway, the post reveals that the vice president of the commission works at one of our area's fine architectural firms. They've done so well in Portland, and -- I am not making this up -- they haven't been shy about turning a quick buck in Iraq, either. My kind of people. Build those condo towers, boys -- make us a world-class city. And enjoy your time in hell with George Bush.
You have to be trying to be funny.
Nothing with character can survive in Portland any more. Out with tradition, out with craftsmanship, in with the soulless condo towers. Here's a grand old apartment building downtown being destroyed:
Oh, well. This was a pretty cool place in its day. Soon it will be a rainy version of everywhere else.
Tomorrow's tax day for a lot of people -- those who have to file quarterly tax returns. A reader we know in a law firm sends along this gem about a quirk in the City of Portland and Multnomah County tax systems:
I just came across a weirdness in the city/county tax system that you might find entertaining. We were sorting out how to handle our quarterly estimated city/county tax payment in view of the departure of a partner when our accountant informed me that there is a penalty if the quarterly payments are not equal, even if the payments cover the taxes for the year. The firm income will be lower than what we thought at the beginning of the year, but we'll incur an apparently modest penalty just because we adjust our quarterly payments to reflect actual income. It just seemed like one of those bureaucratic Portland snags that you find interesting.If our correspondent and his accountant are correct, this is indeed a weirdness that ought to be fixed. Quarterly payments of taxes that are based on the entire year are, by their nature, estimates. If circumstances change during the year, the taxpayer ought to be able to reflect that in the ongoing estimates without penalty. Maybe not in the City That Works (You Over), I guess.
I know that the state and Feds have penalties for underpayment of quarterlies, but that seems to be a different matter than penalizing mere differences in the quarterlies.
Is there anyone out there -- Revenue Sue, are you on duty, or busy at the Rose Festival -- who can give us the official word on this?
That Washougal guy who's been terrorizing everyone in the 'Couv with his outrageously aggressive driving of his big blue pickup? Looks like he'll have some extra time on his hands for the driver's ed classes. He just lost his job over it. Turns out he's a Portland native and a major pot head. Justice is sweet sometimes.
The condos weren't enough. Now we'll take taxpayers' money and hand it over to developers so that they can pave over farmland.
I thought "urban renewal" was supposed to be about bringing dying sections of older cities back to life. But now it's about subsidizing sprawl into rural areas. Californication will gobble up every public nickel it can get, I guess.
Now that we've done what we can to see whether and how sidewalk newsracks are regulated in the City of Portland, it's time to move out into the street to see what's really happening.
Just to recap yesterday's post, here's the law as best we can tell (and no one has corrected any of it so far): (1) Newsracks on sidewalks are prohibited by the city code, except to the extent that federal or state statutes or constitutions require them to be allowed; (2) the city code expressly forbids chaining, cabling, or otherwise attaching a newsrack (or anything else) to "any pole, post, wire, cable, fixture or equipment of City of Portland owned telecommunications lines and equipment, street lighting, or traffic signal systems"; and (3) city "pedestrian design guidelines" (whose precise legal effect is unclear to us) prohibit newsracks both in the "obstruction free area" at any sidewalk corner and in the "no private use" area adjacent to the corner itself.
Now to get out of the books and into the real world. We headed to the nearby busy intersection of NE 24th and Fremont to see what we could see. What we found was pretty ugly. Let's start with the northeast corner of that intersection, where you find two boxes, one for the O and the other for the Trib:
Clearly illegal. Both of the newsracks are attached to part of the traffic signal system (a pedestrian signal pole), in direct violation of section 17.64.040 of the city code. Do the freedom of speech and freedom of the press clauses of our constitutions require that the city allow a newsrack to be attached to its traffic signals? Of course not. So these two are an open-and-shut case -- illegal.
Another possible violation comes with these boxes' placement. They are both clearly in the "no private use" area of this corner, and part of the O box actually protrudes into the even-more-taboo "obstruction free" area, as shown well in this photo taken by an alert reader (who coincidentally was sufficiently bugged about this corner to take his own pictures, unbeknownst to us when we went out there):
The red line we've drawn there is the boundary between the "obstruction free zone" (to the right) and the "no private use" area (to the left). Being in either is a violation of the "pedestrian design guidelines," discussed here yesterday. Now, granted, it's not clear to us that those guidelines are technically part of the city code. But as has already been mentioned, by its terms the code prohibits all such boxes, subject only to being pre-empted by state and federal law. Besides, the guidelines are the only place we can find on the city's website that says where newsracks can't go, and so if the guidelines don't apply, it's hard to see what would stop someone from putting one right in the crosswalk. In any event, even without the tethering to the signal pole, these two may well be illegal just on account of where they are.
One last point: The graffiti on the O box, which has been there for ages, seems to violate the city ordinance requiring the owner of any property to clean up graffiti within 10 days of its appearance. (City code section 14B.80.040.) Plus, that gray spray paint coverup visible in the reader's photo is a pretty tacky sight for those who wait for the southbound No. 9 bus across 24th Avenue.
That brings us to the "catercorner" from the one just pictured -- the southwest corner of the intersection, which is a Tri-Met bus stop for the eastbound 33 bus. Here's what we find over there:
Legal? Maybe, put probably not. The biggest problem here is the placement. Two of these three boxes -- the one for the O and the one for the Trib -- are too close to the corner to satisfy the "pedestrian design guidelines." Those guidelines require that all such obstructions be placed no closer than five feet from an extension of the adjacent property line, and a tale of the tape shows that both of those boxes intrude into the five-foot area:
There is also the matter of the pole to consider. All three of the boxes shown are attached to a city sign pole:
Pretty sight back there, eh? Anyway, if the pole that they're attached to is considered part of a city-owned "street lighting or traffic signal system," then the boxes are all illegal for that reason. But in this case, we'll have to give them the benefit of the doubt, since the pole to which they are tethered is not for a traffic light or a street light, but rather for a no-parking sign:
But if he were really that sorry, he'd release the rest of the secret files that show how outrageously, unspeakably guilty his predecessors as archbishop of Portland were of covering up child sex abuse by priests. Keep apologizing and praying for "healing" if you like, Archbishop, but get on with doing something to make healing happen. Release the rest of the documents, as you agreed in court, today. Stop stonewalling.
Because after a while, some of them move on to bigger things.
Multnomah County Commission Chair Ted Wheeler wrote me the other day about this post. I had written that the City of Portland had "stepped up" and helped fund Hooper Detox Center for another year. What I had read in the papers was that the city was going to buy some real estate from the county, and the county was going to use the purchase price to help Central City Concern run Hooper (and the Chiers van). To me that sounded like the city paying for Hooper.
Ted corrected me as follows:
Jack - just a nit - the County has agreed to fund Hooper for another year (the City agreed in turn to continue funding P57 which they had proposed to defund if they had to pick up Hooper...)Not being in the loop on these things, I had to ask what "P57" was, and Wheeler wrote back:
It is Project 57 which funds jail beds that are prioritized for lower level offenders (non-violent) who commit crimes in the City of Portland. It was created by Randy Leonard, funded by the City of Portland, and contracted to the Multnomah County Sheriff's Office. The program is intended to target so-called "quality of life" crimes committed in Portland -- such crimes include prostitution and dealing drugs on street corners.It's all green tax money to me, but it's interesting to hear that jail bed funding was on the table as part of the Hooper discussions. I don't remember reading that in the papers. Then again, maybe I wasn't reading carefully enough.
I gave Ted a hard time during his election campaign last year, for his huge war chest and his old-boy-timber connections. I'm glad to see he's reading here and willing to respond. So far under his reign there's been very little drama coming out of the Hawthorne Asylum (other than Bernie, of course), and that is a refreshing change, to be sure.
The world of internet spam continues its ugly evolution. Now it's gotten so bad that the spam-catching programs have become too tough for real people to get past, while spam robots are finding their way through. The Times reported on this on Monday in its business section, which proves that there's money in this internet thing. (Can somebody please show me where?)
What a wimp. Hey Lew, we're not half as scary as you.
Don't get me wrong. I love the newspapers. If the job paid halfway decently, I'd be a newspaperman myself, just like in my youthful days.
But all this talk about the need for Portland's sidewalks to be free -- free of duct tape on the eve of a parade, free of homeless people and other panhandlers -- gets me thinking about the newsracks that clutter up so much of our public rights-of-way. If we're really on a mission to clear the sidewalks of things (and people) that oughtn't to be there, what about all those newspaper vending boxes? Are there rules governing them? And are they ever enforced?
I started ruminating about this the other night, and it's worth pursuing some more. Let's start with some basics. In Portland, as in most cities, there are ordinances against obstructing streets and sidewalks. As to leaving objects in them (as opposed to plopping your body down on them -- a related but separate issue, very much in the news these days), here's what the city code says:
17.44.010 Unlawful Acts Enumerated.Under these rules, unless an object is issued a permit by the city, it's illegal for a private company to leave it anywhere on a sidewalk for more than two hours. There are large exceptions for those awful Tri-Met bus benches, for sidewalk cafes, and for sidewalk vendor carts, but unless I'm mistaken, there's no such exception for newsracks.
A. It is unlawful for any person to obstruct or cause to be obstructed any roadway, curb or sidewalk by leaving or placing, to remain longer than 2 hours any object, material or article which may prevent free passage over any part of such street or sidewalk area. This Section does not authorize any action in violation of any other Title or regulation...
D. This section shall not apply to:
1. Any use, sign, or structure for which a permit has been issued or which is erected under authority of any Title;
2. Motor vehicles lawfully parked pursuant to City Regulations;
3. Barricades placed by or with the approval of the City Engineer or the Traffic Engineer; nor
4. Temporary closures and occupancies pursuant to this Chapter.
So then how do these dispensers remain on our sidewalks? It must be because there are freedom of speech limitations on the city's ability to regulate them. But unless I'm misreading the city code (entirely possible), or there's some sort of permitting system that I've never heard of (less likely), newsracks are illegal in Portland, except to the extent that the federal or state constitutions or statutes make them legal.
Now, I'm going to take a wild guess that there's nothing in federal or state statutes on this -- maybe some laws about disability access touch on it, but I'll assume for purposes of this post that it all boils down to the constitutions. Those precious documents forbid many restrictions on speech, but if I'm recalling correctly, it's not at all clear that they forbid the city from restricting the time, manner, or place of speech. The city can't ban all newsracks, nor can it discriminate against one newsrack or another based on content, but it seems likely that it can regulate many aspects of their placement on city streets.
Indeed, as noted here the other day, the city has extensive regulations on the books as to newsracks on the transit mall. They can be found here. But those sections of the city code don't apply in other parts of town.
As for the rest of Portlandia, citywide rules of general application apply. For example, nothing, including a newsrack, is supposed to be chained or otherwise attached to at least certain types of city-owned poles:
17.64.040 Use of City Poles or Posts.Which brings us back to where the boxes are allowed, and where they aren't. This gets a little tricky, I think. There's nothing that I can find in the city code that says anything about it. But the city does have quite detailed "pedestrian design guidelines" that speak to these issues. I don't know what the precise legal effect of these guidelines is, but they have been part of the city's pedestrian master plan (huge pdf thingy) since at least 1998.
A. It is unlawful for any person to attach any animal, or to affix or attach any bill, sign, advertisement of any kind, or any contrivance or device of any kind or nature other than City official notices, to any pole, post, wire, cable, fixture or equipment of City of Portland owned telecommunications lines and equipment, street lighting, or traffic signal systems, except as authorized by the City.
The "guidelines for street corners," which are here, are pretty clear about where objects like newsracks are and aren't supposed to go. Here's what they say:
B2 DESIGNING AND IMPLEMENTING CORNER IMPROVEMENTSHere's the illustration on the last point. No newsracks are supposed to go anywhere near the corner -- they're to be five feet back from the extended property line:
B2.1 Obstruction-Free Area
Since the corner area must accommodate a concentration of pedestrian activities, and since sight lines need to be maintained for all street users, it is important to maintain an area that is free of obstructions.
B2.1a Obstruction-Free Area Defined
The obstruction-free area of a street corner is the space between the curb and the lines created by extending the property line (or the line of a public walkway easement) to the curb face, as shown in the adjacent illustration. Signal poles, street lights, telephone poles, hydrants, trees, benches, signs, controller boxes, private uses, and other vertical elements should not be located within this area.
Keeping these elements out of the Obstruction-Free Area should not result in placing them in other locations where they are an obstruction to pedestrians, such as the Through Pedestrian Zone in the Sidewalk Corridor.
The obstruction-free area of a street corner is the space between the curb and the lines created by extending the property line to the curb face. All new or reconstructed corners must have curb ramps.
B2.1b Exceptions to Obstruction-Free Area
Exceptions to the obstruction-free guideline include bollards to separate pedestrians from traffic, and low posts for pedestrian call buttons at actuated signal controls....
B2.2 "No Private Use" Area
To provide enough space for all the hardware that must be accommodated near the corner area, and to ensure good visibility at the corners, private temporary uses such as street vendors, sidewalk cafes, A-boards and newspaper vending machines are not permitted in an area 1.5 m (5'-0") back from the extension of the property line at any corner, as shown in the adjacent illustration.
There's probably more, but that's all I've been able to dig up about the legal side of these things. I hope that some knowledgeable readers can tell me what I've got right and what I've got wrong about the current state of the law in this area.
However we come out on that, tomorrow we'll head out to a corner near us and see how the newsrack folks are doing in complying with the city's rules and guidelines. If you're interested, why not go out to a corner near you and do the same? We can compare notes tomorrow.
A battle rages as corporate America muscles in on the term "organic."
This looks like an easy one.
It isn't making us safer -- quite the opposite.
There's so much about Portland that I still don't know, after nearly 28 years of living here. Today I see that the city Parks Bureau is going out for bids to repave the track at Portland International Raceway. I must have missed the memo on that one -- does the city own P.I.R.?
Looks like the city has found its new "management coaches" for the Bureau of Development Services. As a reader points out here, they are Martha Bueche and Mary Zinkin (whoever they are). We blogged about the official "search" for these coaches here last month.
Why are we paying them on top of the salary of the city bureau head whom they're "coaching"? Shouldn't the "coaching" be Fireman Randy's job (the commissioner in charge of the bureau)? Which other Survivor contestants need coaches? What are the criteria for determining who gets "coaching" help?
I see from Amanda Fritz's blog that the Portland City Council's about to grant a new 10-year property tax abatement to another condo project tomorrow. This one's called Ash Court Condominiums, and according to a commenter on Amanda's site --
The defined public benefit? Structured parking, parking spots sold individually...and a bit higher density. Three "public benefits" are required, and that's the three.Couldn't have said it better myself.
So...no property taxes for schools, Multnomah County, or the City for ten years for the value of these 50+ units. There's still 23 new parking spaces added, despite this being a Transit Oriented Development (two blocks from MAX).
And, I guess, it's "affordable housing" made more affordable by the owners getting a break on their property taxes.
Maybe it's a great deal for all around. But there's something disquieting to me about adding density --and subsidizing it-- without those new residents paying their fair share of property taxes for the city, school and county functions that help make this a better city.
Now the $1 million question: Who's the developer getting this sweet deal?
Portland's sister city in fiscal irresponsibility -- San Diego -- is toying with a municipal wi-fi system. But the city's bureaucrats are skulking around and cutting a deal with EarthLink largely in secret, which has some people a little upset.
A couple of bloggers have sounded off, and not in a positive way, about the folks who ripped up other people's duct tape from the parade route Friday night. One actually went down there to join in the ripping, but changed her mind when she saw the happy scene. Another thinks the duct-tapers should be left alone, not only by the self-proclaimed keepers of the public way, but also by the city.
Me, I don't much care how the city comes out on this, so long as they make the rules crystal clear so that everyone knows what to expect. I thought that was what they were doing with their official guidelines on reserving spaces, but I guess I was mistaken. And if they decide to stop all the moms and pops from taping, they darn well better do the same to Nordstrom, the Hilton, and all the other corporate big shots who call dibs on their sidewalks every year.
Meanwhile, I'm not done with the newsracks. There are a few in my neck of the woods that are clearly illegal, and as to them, stay tuned as we see how free and open our city's sidewalks really are.
Here's a sign that ain't legal -- is it?
Today there was a fire in their building over near Six Corners on Southeast Division. It sounds as though they can shoulder on, but I'm sure at great inconvenience. Here's hoping they're right as rain again soon.
One thing I love about the American West is the absence of toll roads -- er, should I say loved?
Forget the metal detectors -- courthouse security needs to start watching out for this.
Quite a nasty little contretemps is brewing up in ever-coolifying NoPo. Familiar battle lines. On the one side we have the ravenous developers -- on the other, the neighbors.
So the neighbors went to Sam the Tram for help. And can-do guy that he is, Our Next Mayor (in His Own Mind, at Least) went and did something in response to their complaints.
Now guess which side feels it's gotten double-crossed. Right.
If there's one thing that Fireman Randy and those
obnoxious publicity-seekers civil rights heroes at the Merc taught us over the weekend, it's that the sidewalks of Portland belong to everyone. Anything that offends this holy precept -- even something as unobtrusive as duct tape on a sidewalk -- should be ripped up by roving bands of vigilantes and thrown into the garbage.
And now that they've rid us of the tape that "greedy" people used to reserve spaces for the Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade (funny -- I'll bet there's still a lot of it on the parade route -- any chance of a cleanup crew reunion today?), it's time to turn our attention to another encroachment on the public rights-of-way. This one is way worse than tape on the ground. It stands three feet tall or taller, and could seriously hurt you if you run into it. It impairs driver visibility, gets in the way of disabled pedestrians, and is all over town. And it's not there just a week or two out of the year -- it's 24/7/365.
I'm talking about newsracks.
Are these things legal? I've been cruising around on the City of Portland website to see what I could find out about that. As best I can tell, there's precious little regulation of them on the city's books. There's this part of the city code, but it has to do only with newsracks on the transit mall, and it appears to be way out of date. There are also these guidelines, which are supposed to keep them away from intersections, but you don't have to walk far in Portland to see countless news boxes that violate these rules.
Other than that, I can find nothing that the city does to police newsracks. Nothing about size, number, materials, liability, insurance, stability, location -- nothing. Maybe I'm not looking in the right places, but somehow I doubt that.
Now, obviously there are some freedom of speech issues lurking in the wings here -- the city couldn't start picking on particular types of publications based on content -- but it's fairly obvious that municipalities can have rules about various aspects of the placement of newsracks. Just a quick run through Google reveals that Medford has them, as does Beaverton. Groovy Palo Alto appears to have a fairly extensive permit system for these dispensers. A Google search also reveals that the newspaper distributors hate such rules, and if a municipality tries to enact them, there's an organization that will help local news dealers fight them.
But hey, this is Portland, where the sidewalks must be free! Free! Fearless journalists work tirelessly through the night, and city commissioners boldly risk their political necks, to keep them that way.
And so I'm sure that as we take up the issue of whether people should be able to place tape on the sidewalks to reserve viewing places for a parade once a year, we'll also take up the issue of hundreds of ugly and potentially dangerous commercial fixtures that clutter up the sacred public right-of-way all year 'round. Are there really no rules in Portland about them, other than the few I've found? And if there are rules, are they ever enforced? Maybe Transportation Sue or Sam the Tram could clue us in.
I think we've got the makings of another special Portland moment here, people. I just know the local media will be all over this story. Look for it to be featured prominently in all the Rose City's fine publications, both mainstream and alternative.
The Supreme Court's financial statements are out. They're all rich, at least on paper, except maybe Justices Kennedy and Thomas.
Best tidbit of the year out of these documents: Justice Scalia was presented with a $600 rifle after giving a speech to National Wild Turkey Association. Some guys get all the good gigs.
Here's the story, and now here's the poll:
Don't worry, it's not anywhere around Portland.
Our latest no-comments week has come and gone, and I must say it was relaxing, refreshing, and revealing. Not having to read everyone's thoughts, or respond to off-base arguments, was a bit of a relief. But it ain't the same without the comments, and so I'm happy to say that they're back.
Later today, when I've got a little more attention to pay to this, I'll be un-banning, at least temporarily, everyone who has previously earned the honor of being banished from this site. With any luck, this will not unleash a torrent of spam and trolling, but if it does, we'll have to reverse course.
Now might be a good time for us to assume the editorial "we" and say a few words about what kinds of comments are and are not welcome on this blog. The idea of the comments feature is to allow readers to participate in a conversation with us, and with each other. Comments that are overly argumentative, caustic, or insulting do not fit within this description. Off-topic comments, particularly those that make the same point that the commenter has previously made on this site, are not welcome.
Comments that relate to my workplace will be removed. Comments that make ad hominem remarks about other commenters, or particularly about me, are also unwelcome. And this is not the place to post a general review or critique of this site or my views or outlook, either. You'll have to go to one of the ever-growing list of hater sites to do that.
When in doubt, you can always relay your reaction to anything on this site to us by e-mail. We may post your message on the blog, but absent extraordinary circumstances, we would not attribute such a posting to you.
As ever, we reserve the right to remove comments and ban commenters, without notice, for any reason or for no reason. Your leaving a comment here grants us a nonexclusive license to use and re-use your comment in any medium or forum, and for any purpose. We are not responsible for the content of any comment left by anyone other than us.
O.k., enough of that. A sincere welcome back, commenters.
UPDATE, 1:50 p.m.: The bans have been lifted. Please join me with fingers crossed, hoping that this does not trigger a cyber-trashing of this site.
Here's an interesting story out of Washington County. The copyright piracy squad from the music recording industry took a little trip from Los Angeles to Portland this weekend. They raided a flea market out in Hillsboro and busted some folks who were selling pirated CDs and DVDs. Some 50,000 disks were confiscated.
What's especially amusing to me was the reaction of many other vendors in the crowd when it became clear that a police raid was about to take place:
When dozens of police officers arrived about 12:30 p.m. today to serve a search warrant at M&M, there were about 200 customers wandering booths that sell food, clothing, jewelry, trinkets, car parts, music and movies. While police blocked the entrance, a steady stream of drivers and pedestrians approached the gate at 346 S.W. Walnut St., hoping to get in and wondering what was happening.I'm sure not every vendor who bolted was selling fake CDs or DVDs. I'll bet a few of them were selling other stuff, but off the books. They thought it was the IRS.
"There were some vendors who ran and left their money behind, and some grabbed their money and booked," Wandell said. "But there were no problems, and it was very orderly."
It reminds me of a story that a prosecutor I know tells, of a police raid of a bar in a large city back east some years back. The police were there to bust the bar owner for operating illegal video poker machines in the rear of the establishment, but the patrons present at the time had no way of knowing that. As the cops burst through the front door, the customers standing at the bar starting slipping all sorts of items -- mostly guns and drugs -- out of their pockets onto the floor. When the officers' intentions became clear, they all bent down and picked up their belongings once again. "Hey, it's cool, bro," said one. "They're just here for the Joker Poker!"
A while back I complained (on other blogs, mostly) that the Portland school administrators were really bungling their handling of the peaceful and poignant peace sign planting by the senior class at Wilson High School.
But compared with their counterparts up north, the Portland schoolhouse bureaucrats look like geniuses. Here's a kid serving a 10-day suspension for using a high school's computers to download materials to publish in an underground student newspaper. Not pornography, not hate speech, not illegal content -- just stuff. And a creative writing teacher has been put on paid administrative leave for letting students do it. The kids are marching around with black armbands, the whole bit.
"The boy said district administrators put together a binder with screen shots -- captured images of the school computer screen -- documenting what he had done." In this day and age, the vice principals don't have anything better to do? I don't use the word "goons" too often, but in this case, it's appropriate.
The heat in our house has been kicking on all day.
Two more individuals have joined Steve Novick on a list of Democrats who would might like to have their butts whupped by Gordon Smith as he coasts to re-election next year. According to Willamette Week, they are one of the oh-so-well-connected New Seasons people (right), and this guy.
Why would any of these folks burn time and money only to become the next Tom Bruggere? Well, it would get their names out there in a statewide race, and maybe they could parlay that into something real in the future. As for any of them being elected to the U.S. Senate, I'd love to see it happen, but I'd need quite a few strong beverages before I could begin to view it as more than a remote possibility.
A reader writes:
I couldn't resist bringing this one to your attention. Today in NW Portland I had two encounters with a City of Portland Vehicle (#067157, if my memory serves, for a change), that is a new-looking 2006 model year Smart Fortwo. This now-discontinued car is a third-party import (from The Defiance Company, LLC; http://smartcars4sale.com) that, according to my recollection, is selling in the US for more than $26,000, a ridiculous price for a two-seater with a motor-scooter engine and transmission (I once rented one of these overseas, so those descriptions are first-hand). It's hard to verify prices, because the only dealer around, a luxury car seller in Lake Oswego, doesn't publish its prices. Last year, Chrysler announced that it would import and distribute the successor 2008 model, which is much re-worked, enlarged and improved. It would ostensibly be sold at less than $15,000, which is much nearer to its European sticker price.
The Smart is a Mercedes brand, so it remains to be seen whether those plans will survive the Daimler/Chrysler divorce. There's still an active website for the U.S. model at www.smartusa.com. The older Smart, at its astronomical price, is noisy, tippy, handles poorly and offers little crash protection. Its purchase by the City makes their acquisition of Toyota hybrids look super-sensible by comparison.
And what else is new? The reviewer basically hated it.
As previously announced, comments will be back on new posts on this blog starting Sunday morning. And just to make things more interesting, we are toying with the idea of un-banning everyone who has previously been banned from the blog.
At least until they act up again.
So don't forget to come back and join us next week, when things should really be a-rockin'. Meanwhile, we now resume the monologue.
Wednesday's late-night post about the sordid Catholic priest child sex abuse scandals here in Portland -- and the continuing shame the archdiocese is bringing upon itself as it jerks victims and parishioners around with its secret documents -- struck a chord with a couple of readers. Both of them were young men in the pews in the 1950s and 1960s.
I was growing up Irish Catholic in the Bronx about 10 years before you were growing up Polish Catholic in Newark, and I think we shared similar experiences with, and perspectives on, the RC Church.The priest with the "allergies" whom the bishop was "trading" to Baker was apparently Father Ronald James Anthony Warren. According to this site, he was accused of misconduct by three people in the Portland diocese, and "forced to retire when allegations surfaced." The site also reports that the Portland "Archdiocese's bankruptcy froze a $350,000 settlement check to one of the claimants." Warren is reportedly still alive and living in the Portland area -- no doubt taking Claritin.
This morning I followed the link in your blog to the pdf document collection and picked one at random to read. I think it ended in a number 29. [The document is no. PD 0229, here. --JB]
It was a letter from the former [Portland] Archbishop Power to his counterpart in the Baker Diocese about needing to seek a temporary "trade" or transfer of someone from, I think, Cottage Grove, or some similar place in the south of the Willamette Valley [Junction City], to someplace in the Baker Diocese on the east side, because the guy had bad allergies. In the letter Power tells his counterpart that the miscreant "had no problems with his priesthood."
This fool of an archbishop [apparently] covered up and lied to parents, parishioners, civil authorities, and even his fellow bishops. What an immoral monster.
Where you and I grew up, for us laity, telling that kind of lie was a mortal sin. Different rules, I guess, for the guys with the purple stripes.
If I still believed in any of the cr*p, I would devoutly wish that Power be consigned to the deepest parts of hell.
But perhaps the bishop in Baker wasn't as dumb as the letters from Portland make him out to look. He certainly wasn't innocent. The other priest involved in the "swap" that materialized was Father David Hazen, who himself had been a major abuser while he was over in Baker. There were also some accusations against him on the Portland side, but he died in 1983, five years after he moved over here.
Another reader wrote of a different pervert in a Roman collar:
I attended Central Catholic High School back when Tom Laughlin taught there. For all his intelligence and questionable good points, he was a p***k. Later, [when I was] fresh out of college and employed in a good job in NYC, he came to town. I took him to dinner one nite to whatever the fine restaurant was at Black Rock (the CBS Building). More than a few drinks and dinner later, I offered that it was time for me to head for home, as Monday was a work day for me. He pleaded to continue.... after dinner, drinks, etc., but I stuck to my guns and departed. Not sayin' what might have followed, but knowing now what I didn't know then, it would not have surprised me if he would have put on some moves.Laughlin reportedly is still alive and living in Nebraska.
Later, in 1970, my then new wife and I moved back to Portland. We had been married in a Protestant ceremony -- I Catholic, she not. We were guests at a wedding. TBL was there, met my then wife, and out of hand, offered he would be "happy to help us fix our marriage." Intro over, she turns to me and wonders, "Who in the f*ck does he think he is? Arrogant b****rd!"
Years pass.... I'm in Silicon Valley and come up for a CCHS 25 year reunion in 1983. My buddies and I are drinking coffee over the Saturday paper, and we come across the first published account of his despicable activities. The floodgates are now open, and the saga rolled out over the years. His Portland supporters and worshippers were embarrassed. Most of us agreed that the p***k finally got his due.
I guess what lingers and galls me more is the long and enduring quiet and righteous complicity of the Portland Church hierarchy -- still somewhat prevalent even as they publish "some" of the historical documents.
While I quietly still adhere to my Catholic beliefs, but do not practice, it is an unfortunately shameful history of the Catholic Church in Portland, going way back to the '50s and continuing today.
I could go on with myriad anecdotes as to which of Portland's "better" families took TBL in, and were "taken in" by his personality and guile. Here we are, some 50 years later, and his nightmarish evildoings still make print. And he's only one case... out of many, many more.
The present archbishop, John Vlazny, let his high-priced lawyers convince him that bankruptcy was going to save the church a bunch of money and keep the most painful parts of the truth under wraps. I believe he achieved none of the above, and things could get worse if and when more of his dirty secret documents see daylight.
The "swap" of the two abusers on account of "allergies" is a classic story that explains just about the whole thing. I haven't been to church in a few weeks. God forgive me, but tonight I'm not sure I'm ever going back.
In response to yesterday's post on the spin advertising currently being published by the makers of the controversial diabetes drug Avandia, a reader writes:
Friday night I was checking out the Jimmy Kimmel show on ABC. It starts at midnight and is aimed squarely at the old post-midnight Letterman college crowd. One of the ads they showed was for Avandia, I think. It went on FOREVER. Well over 60 seconds.If the reader has it right, it is crafty indeed.
I remember sitting there watching it and wondering, "Who in the hell
are these people talking to?" There's NO WAY the ad was aimed at the
18-25 crowd who was watching the show. It was an ad that belonged on
Matlock. As it kept going it began to dawn on me. They're showing
this thing late at night on a show their target demo doesn't watch
because they're trying to hide something. They're going to go back to
the FDA and say they showed this ad X-number of times during a given
calendar period in order to get the word out about the potential
risks. Fascinating. Technically they showed the ad, but everyone
watching it was baked out of their heads, and those who *should* have
been watching it were peacefully dreaming of the next day's early-bird
UPDATE, 9:30 a.m.: Another reader responds, "I understand what the reader was getting at, but I hope he/she knows that the 'Matlock crowd' arent the only ones who get diabetes."
From Rob Kremer.
I see that the City of Portland has wisely decided to pitch in to make up some of the shortfall in the funding of the private, nonprofit Hooper Detox Center. Multnomah County's run out of dough to steer in that direction, and the city has apparently agreed to buy some surplus real estate from the county, with the proceeds to be used for Hooper. It's not a permanent fix, but it gets them by for another year. It's beyond question that without the Chiers van and the other services provided there, inner Portland would be a much less livable place.
Get this -- the kids at the Merc are planning to go out tomorrow night and rip up the tape that people are using to mark their spots for Saturday's Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade. Last night, I half-kiddingly wrote that an official ban on reserving spaces for parade viewing would lead to violence.
But now I'm not kidding. Rightly or wrongly, somebody is going to get their a*s kicked out there tomorrow night when an angry SUV'er discovers that their tape's being ripped up. And wait until the unwitting "reservists" confront the people in "their" spots Saturday morning. How festive. Way to go, kids.
UPDATE, 5:16 p.m.: Currently, the city officially condones the taping. The official guidelines are here.
The safety issues with two diabetes drugs, Avandia and Actos, are evolving into a real scandal. Both of them can cause serious heart problems, even death. And their dangers have been known for years, while regulators have dragged their feet in taking action. Thanks to some recent scientific publications and some crusading lay journalism, the heat has been turned up sufficiently that strong action is now going to be taken.
Too late for some victims, of course.
The drug company that makes Avandia -- GlaxoSmithKline -- has been fighting back over the last few days with serious spin advertisements. Yesterday it took out a full page, and another half page, in the Times, apparently to try to ease worried patients' minds.
Among the things it said was this: "Like any medication, Avandia is not appropriate for all patients. Your doctor is the best resource for information about your health and is in the best position to determine if Avandia is right for you."
What they don't mention is that while you're talking to your doctor, you might want to ask him or her how much in money or other perks he or she has been taking from GlaxoSmithKline. You don't have to be the world's most alert observer to notice that doctors are receiving payoffs -- legal, ethical, or otherwise -- from drug companies all the time.
"Ask your doctor about ________," the pill manufacturers always say on their ridiculous ads. To themselves, they're adding, "We've got him on our payroll."
What a sad comment, that it's some sort of courageous achievement for the state legislature to cap interest rates on consumer loans at 36.25 percent a year.
As mentioned here the other day, they're still planning a "stop and talk" at the Portland Saturday Market this weekend. The stopper-talkers are supposed to be members of the general public, giving their input to the Portland Development Commission and the Parks Bureau on design options for the impending ouster of the market from its current home to a new spot in Waterfront Park across busy Naito Parkway.
But from the looks of things, there's not a lot to talk about. It sure seems as though the final design has already been selected, and it's all set to be revealed at an open house on Wednesday night. Here's a press release that came out of the Parks Bureau yesterday:
Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R) and Portland Development Commission (PDC) will present the final recommended design for the Waterfront Park/Ankeny Plaza Project at an upcoming public meeting on Wednesday, June 13.That bold language certainly looks like a done deal to me. And that's Portland city government for you -- decide first, get public input later.
The recommended design will reflect the collaborative efforts of the public, business and property owners working with city staff to design improvements for the area around the Ankeny Pump Station in Waterfront Park and for Ankeny Plaza, Ankeny Street, First Avenue and an area under the Burnside Bridge. The plans include improvements to Waterfront Park and Ankeny Plaza to support Portland Saturday Market (PSM) and other programmable outdoor events, and to bring people and energy to the District, especially concentrated at the northern end of Waterfront Park.
The open house, including an opportunity for questions and discussion, will be held from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. (a formal presentation will start at 4:45 p.m.) on Wednesday, June 13 at PDC’s Commission Room at 222 NW 5th Avenue in downtown Portland.
The recommended final design builds upon planning to date and incorporates feedback gained from a series of meetings with stakeholders, including PSM vendors, and the greater community to solicit input and develop the project concept. A 13-member Project Advisory Committee helped guide the project’s design. In addition, open house events and on-site “Stop & Talks” at Portland Saturday Market were conducted throughout the design phase.
Because Portland Saturday Market is a special stakeholder, Paul Verhoeven, PSM Executive Director, served as a technical advisor to the Project Advisory Committee and also serves with city staff on the Technical Advisory Group for the project. In addition, the design team, along with PP&R and PDC staff, also met regularly with Verhoeven and PSM board members to walk through their logistical needs, site layout requirements and other particulars....
The project, which is funded primarily by the Downtown Waterfront Urban Renewal District, has a total budget of $8.8 million, which includes $6.2 million for construction. This is a joint project between Portland Parks & Recreation and the Portland Development Commission, with PP&R managing the design and construction. Construction is scheduled to begin in late 2007.
Of course, Saturday should be a nice day for a visit to the Saturday Market anyway. But when you stop, rather than talk to bureaucrats, you might just eat the pierogi.
And he's written something beautiful.
As part of the bankruptcy settlement over its liability for child sex abuse by priests and coverups by superiors, the Archdiocese of Portland agreed to make public secret files in its possession relating to the many reported incidents of such misconduct. This was a big part of the recent announcement that the tort cases had been settled and the church's declaration that "the healing will now begin, dammit."
Today it became clear that the church is still quite comfortable looking like it's jerking people around. It's going to release some documents in dribs and drabs, make it difficult for anyone to find what they're looking for, and hold back as much as it can get away with.
The lawyer for some of the victims says he feels he's being "sandbagged," and the spokesman for Archbishop John Vlazny is being as slippery and elusive as ever:
Bud Bunce, spokesman for the archdiocese, defended the release of the documents and said they demonstrate that the archdiocese has been reasonably open about priest abuse since litigation started.The shame runs ever deeper. May God show the wrongdoers that hundreds of millions of dollars later, they're still doing wrong. Healing? Not this way.
"We think this goes towards refuting that we're hiding things," Bunce said....
Bunce said the archdiocese probably would release more documents, but he did not know details.
"That's all that's been cleared for right now," Bunce said. "There are potentially more, but I don't know how many or what they are."
I am not making this up. Fireman Randy wants to make it illegal to tape off your viewing spot along the route of the Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade.
Hey Randy, I know this is about as meaningful as we can make city government nowadays, but don't you think it will just make a bad situation worse? It's cutthroat enough out there along the parade route without City Hall stirring things up. When two of your more enthusiastic constituents wind up stabbing each other over a spot on the curb, the blood will be on your hands. (We've already had one kooky parade tragedy this year, and the fleet's just arriving.)
Besides, whom do you think you're kidding? Do you think the people who do this are going to stop just because you pass an ordinance saying it's a no-no? Are we going to send cops out to rip up the duct tape all day Friday? What will you do with all the confiscated cheesy lawn chairs that were chained to the parking meters and sign poles?
I think all those biodiesel fumes may be getting to you.
Once the city draws blood on the taping issue, you can see where this is heading. It won't be long before parade watchers will have to drop a couple of bucks to buy parking stickers from those overpriced, "sustainable" parking meter contraptions. You'll have to keep them stuck to your forehead throughout the entire parade.
UPDATE, 6/8, 2:03 a.m.: It's about to get even uglier than I thought out there.
Mother Nature's now messing with our gas prices.
"Better men than I," writes a friend of ours, as he reminds us of this.
We're halfway through No-Comments Week -- the second such week in the five-year history of this blog -- and it's been an interesting experience. Unlike the last time we did this, it's become clear to us this week that the comments play an important part in this blog's function. Lots of folks come here multiple times a day because of the constant addition of new material that the comments bring. They really do make the site seem much more alive.
Of course, they're a distraction to the blog host. Watching over them takes up time, and often they raise one's blood pressure a bit. Threads can drift way off topic, and unkind and unfair things are sometimes said -- especially by those who choose to hide behind pseudonyms. The personalities and viewpoints of the commenters can easily get mixed up with that of the host, which is usually no fun for either.
But it just ain't the same without them. Cutting them off costs us more than it gains us. If we're going to keep doing this, it's the only way.
I see that Nigel had another greasy Betsy Johnson story the other night. Man, if Ted thinks your proposed appointment is too sleazy, that's really saying something. Remember, this is a guy who at one time would appoint Neil Goldschmidt and his merry men to any and every board in sight, no matter which pies their well known fingers were in.
My crystal ball tells me there might be a big bombshell for Betsy, just around the next corner. A pattern is emerging. Not that what's already out there isn't enough to ground her larger political ambitions for good.
Don't forget, today's the beautiful Junior Rose Parade over here on the Idaho side of the river in Portland. Sandy Boulevard shuts down at 11:30 a.m. from 39th to 57th, and stays that way for a goodly portion of the afternoon. If you need to cross Sandy during that time, you've got to get east or west of the parade route. Plan accordingly -- if you get stuck and wind up cussing out a kids' parade, you might feel bad about it later.
Here's another fine Bush nominee to the federal bench. When the Chimp tried to put this fellow on the district court last year, the nomination died. And so now Rove or Cheney's idea is to put him on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
Did I miss something, or do we now have a Democrat-controlled Congress? If we do, this one should be laughed off the Hill without further discussion. I'm all for playing to the middle for the next round of elections, but they're 17 months away, and this guy's way to the right. Come on, people -- we sent a message last November. Try to get it.
I don't know if it's real, but a reader sends along this interesting memo that a judge apparently issued while handing down a sentence over in Big Sky country recently.
They say they've found the oldest known mushroom on earth. But I don't know -- have they checked the salad bars at all the Sizzler's?
You think you had a tough weekend.
An alert reader of yesterday's post on the new "home" for Saturday Market -- I hear they've scheduled Jack Kevorkian to cut the ribbon next spring -- points out that it's up for discussion again at a Parks Board meeting at City Hall tomorrow morning. This confab starts at 7:30 a.m. As ever, the public is invited to speak -- not.
The alert reader, who like many is distressed at the bad direction in which the city's parks are careening, offers these additional thoughts:
Interestingly, part of effort to move the market is to make the north end of the waterfront less hospitable to the riffraff that now collects down there. The city is requiring PPR to take this on and they do not want it. Robin Grimwade [imported parks privatization honcho] says that the rate the market has been paying [in rent] is decades old and PPR would not grandfather in a below-market rate. Clearly the vendors will not be able to afford the new rate. And there won't be room for all the current vendors in the new market, so the remaining ones will shoulder more of the burden. Because no one from the market has sat on the committee, there is no sense of what might even be possible in a deal between the vendors and the City. How is it that PPR always informs the people most affected by their bumbling last? Show me a better way to build mistrust. Oh, and the vendors need to all have the same type booth and maybe a dress code, too...This reader had some additional perspectives on the Mount Tabor Park selloff, which is clearly still on a back burner and definitely not dead. But we'll leave those for another day.
Oh, and there is that large water fountain feature [in honor of Bill Naito] that the Naito family is insisting be built with city dollars or they won't donate the land in Old Town for the development.
So the city told Parks: We'll put the market across the street on that flat part with the anchor. Well, it isn't flat and so, much money must be spent to make a flat surface. But nothing permanent, because in three years the market is gone. And when someone at the board meeting brought up moving it to the east side with access from the Esplanade, it was not to be discussed. I'm not certain what to make of that exactly, but we'll hear more talk tomorrow. Not about that, of course. The plebeians are not allowed to speak at the board meetings. Funny, a board member came to one of the [Mount Tabor] mediations and then commented how disturbing it was to see such a large group of park supporters feeling so disenfranchised. Being able to speak at a board meeting would do wonders to change that. Oh, I forgot, they are already representing us. It says here on the website:
"The Board serves as an advocate for parks and recreation in city infrastructure, provides a forum for public involvement and decision making about major park policy issues, and brings a citywide and long-term perspective to neighborhood-based issues."
A couple of related stories out of Portland City Hall today: First, that quarter-inch of rain we got this morning has caused raw sewage to pour into the Willamette River, just in time to greet the Rose Festival fleet. Welcome, sailors, to the City That Works -- with Regularity!
Meanwhile, they're going to present the long-awaited "tweaks" to the city's voter-owed elections taxpayer campaign finance system to the City Council on Thursday afternoon. This is the system that will guarantee Fireman Randy's re-election, and Grampy's too, if he decides to stick around. About the only race it would make interesting would be the battle of the newcomers if Sten's or Adams's seat becomes vacant.
The changes to the "system" are designed to prevent a rerun of the last election's disastrous rollout in which two candidates, Emilie Boyles and Lucinda Tate, turned in phony signatures collected by "community activist" Vladimir Golovan. The city wised up in time to deny Tate her "clean money," but Boyles spent a bundle of it before being caught and paying some it (less than half) back to the city. Golovan has since been indicted for perpetrating fraud, but at last report he was selling his house and was missing court dates.
As usual, the City Council agenda site doesn't link you to the relevant documents, but blogger Ron Ledbury, a perennial foe of the city auditor, says he's got a copy of the proposed changes here. I'm sure Amanda Fritz, the only legit "clean money" challenger so far, will weigh in once she recovers from her flight back from England today.
The Monday night recycling chores invariably find me leafing through New York Times editions of the preceding week -- one last look before either the recyclers or my next-door neighbors get them. This week we found a mini-treasure trove, as usual: A story about Hood River real estate trends (it's all about storage space); a little something about a new movie in which half of Portland is possessed by homicidal dementia; and an interesting piece on privacy concerns being stirred up by the new "Street View" feature on Google Maps. Satellite shots of your house are one thing, but photos that look right into your windows? No worries in Portland; it seems the "Street View" cameras haven't made it here yet, and they probably won't invade our cozy little burg for a while.
We brought home our first local berries of the year today -- the Oregon strawberries of Rose Festival time. Such a beautiful part of living around here.
There's a new guy who wants to be a member of the Portland City Council. He's a colorful young character, to be sure, and he lives on an unpaved street in the Cully neighborhood, which sounds promising. Anyway, here he is. (The site may play some music when you arrive, but it's short and sweet.) (Via Ryan Frank.)
Our hat's off to the brave judge who's thrown a monkey wrench into the charade of justice at our country's goofball prison camp in Cuba. Another achievement for the Bush portfolio.
I see that they've got a "stop and talk" event (scroll way down) scheduled for this Saturday at the Portland Saturday Market. You're supposed to stop and talk to people from the Portland Parks Bureau and the Portland Development Commission about the impending move of the popular hippie market from its current, ancestral home under the Burnside Bridge to a new spot in Waterfront Park across Front Avenue.
The poor Saturday Market -- a Portland institution forced out of its home to make way for the Almighty Development, and now being tag-teamed by Parks and the PDC. Those two agencies are notoriously unfriendly to real people, and when they hold a "stop and talk," you have to wonder if any part of it involves them listening.
Everything's moving fast on this now -- and of course, that's when the smell of rat starts to become noticeable. It's being presented as a given that this is Saturday Market's last year under the Burnside Bridge. Between the nearby University of Oregon development and the nearby Mercy Corps development (neither of which will likely pay property taxes, interestingly enough), Saturday Market's got to move no later than when it opens next spring.
There are lots of problems with that timetable, however -- perhaps the largest being that there's still no final plan for what the new home in the park will look like. At last report, there were still three design options being considered. Here's a slick presentation on the three alternatives -- see if you can make heads or tails out of it. I couldn't.
According to the PDC website, there's going to be an open house next Wednesday, the 13th, "to comment on and provide input to Portland Parks Bureau and Portland Development Commission representatives regarding the final design option." Then another "advisory group" meeting is set for the 20th. But back in April, at a Parks Board meeting, it was stated that construction would have to begin in late spring or early summer, and that time is already upon us.
However the patchouli stands are laid out, and whenever they start digging up parkland to make way for them, there are some serious long-term questions about Saturday Market in Waterfront Park that haven't been answered. First and foremost, the Market will have to pay rent to the Parks Bureau, and at last report the terms of that rental agreement were not at all settled. Moreover, the Parks Board minutes reflect these additional issues:
Some issues in the relocation are conflicts with existing events, access to the park, aesthetics and cost to the Bureau. Also to be sorted out is the issue of taxes – since Saturday Market is income-generating and a commercial use, they’d have to pay taxes on revenues. Because of zoning, Parks can not site the market in the park permanently. Joe believes that any agreement between Parks and the market should be for a period of no longer than three years and the agreement must have a termination clause.While they're rushing to get Saturday Market out of its home, it seems that there's still an awful lot still up in the air. And all of that spells trouble for the marketeers and their customers, if you ask me.
Do Parks or the PDC really care if the Saturday Market survives? I doubt it. Obviously, they'd prefer a chi-chi Public Market suitable for a glossy layout in the Portland Monthly. The original plan was to bounce Saturday Market and put the chi-chi market -- with a condo tower attached, of course -- in its place. That failed shortly after people caught on. Now Saturday Market's being handed an uncertain future, and if you thought the city did not have that institution's best interests at heart, I couldn't swear to you that you're wrong. The leadership at Parks is all West Hills money nowadays, and if something doesn't appeal to the Bluehour tastes of the people at the Arlington Club, it's just in their way.
Not sure what Grampy thinks this is going to achieve.
UPDATE, 6/5, 1:16 p.m.: More on this group here.
Just turned off our Tivo-like box, wherein was stored tonight's wonderful pro hoops contest. Cleveland stomped Detroit to reach the NBA Finals. LeBron James, a one-man scoring machine the other night, did everything but make baskets tonight. As the Pistons sent their whole defense at him, he simply passed off to a rookie guard named Daniel "Boobie" Gibson -- a recent teammate of LaMarcus Aldridge's -- and Gibson went nuts, hitting three-point shot after three-point shot and finishing with 31 points.
Adding to the entertainment was ex-Blazer still-bum "Ra" Wallace of the Pistons, who got himself thrown out of the game toward the end for his legendary temper. It was also quite heartening to see that the addition of washed-up convicted perjurer Chris Webber hurt, rather than helped, the Detroit team this year. They couldn't hit the broad side of a barn in the second half. Their time has come and gone -- with Flip Saunders coaching them, they've got nowhere to go but into oblivion. Fine with me.
The Cavaliers will likely be like lambs to the slaughter against the Spurs. But at least in the weak Eastern Conference, they played the best. And nobody thought they'd sweep Detroit after dropping the first two. It could be a somewhat interesting finals.
Anything but the Pistons against the Spurs is a major relief.
Pro basketball trade rumors are usually so much hot air, but the current story -- that the Blazers are packaging Jarrett Jack with Zach Randolph for a trade -- sounds bleak enough to be true. Jack's a solid NBA point guard, and he could still turn into a Terry Porter-type playmaker with all the talent that Portland is stockpiling. But if throwing him into the trade helps move Zach and get the right value in return, I'll bet the team would go for it.
We got a nice letter yesterday from Patrick Reiten, the president of our monopoly power company, Pacific Power. The letter informed us that until the company is able to get recent cutbacks in power benefits from the Bonneville Power Administration restored, he is going to take a substantial cut in his executive compensation package. In addition, Warren Buffett, the main shareholder of Pacific's parent company, MidAmerican Energy Holdings Company, is going to accept smaller dividends.
Ha! Ha! ONLY KIDDING.
Reiten didn't say any of that. He didn't even promise to go easy on the shrimp cocktails at the Arlington Club. No, what he told us was that our power bills are about to go up by 13 percent. Oh, and "As we seek a resolution, we encourage you to take steps to manage your electricity use through energy efficiency measures to help keep your costs down."
I'm glad these guys are looking out for us little folk. Noblesse oblige. Remind me to get out my Crane stationery and write them a thank you note.
Portland water rates, that is.
My recent post about hanging up or cutting back on the blogging prompted quite a number of kind and thoughtful e-mail responses, for which I am grateful. One of the points that came up in these exchanges was the reader comment aspect of this site -- one of the attractions for many readers, and the source of many a happy moment for me, but sometimes a chore. Sponsoring a largely uncensored public forum is not necessarily part of why a person like myself decides to get into blogging to begin with. (The fact that so many helpful reader comments came via e-mail, rather than as blog comments, shows that you can still get great feedback, even without public comments.)
One reader said it so well when he wrote, "If I wanted to spend my time arguing with strangers, I'd go back to drinking in taverns." Another friend wrote something to the effect of, "A blog is for the writer, not for the reader. If it's no longer serving the writer's purposes, then it's got to go."
As I brood about these ideas some more, I think it would be a good time to do something that we haven't done on this blog in nearly two years -- turn the comments feature off for a week. No doubt readership will decline a bit as a result, and things won't be nearly as raucous as usual around here, but it's time for a mellower stretch as we ease into summer.
Starting at Sunday midnight, new posts won't have comments enabled. That feature will be re-enabled with the first post on Sunday the 10th. You can always e-mail me here if there's something you want to say to me. And there are still a couple of days now to get your licks in before the silence of the lambs kicks in. But next week, the only person with direct access to this space will be I.
Here's an interesting site -- a list of some recent bid awards by the City of Portland.
Not to worry. It's all good.
Sad beyond words. And we keep at it.