This page contains all entries posted to Jack Bog's Blog in April 2009. They are listed from newest to oldest.
March 2009 is the previous archive.
May 2009 is the next archive.
Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.
Well, the Blazers never showed up tonight, and they were blown out of the playoffs in Game 6 in Houston. It was a lot like Game 1, where they fell far behind quickly and couldn't claw back into it.
Travis Outlaw stunk the place up again, and tonight Rudy Fernandez joined him. Greg Oden looked clumsy, and Joel Przybilla had an off night as well. Steve Blake didn't score worth a darn, and he turned the ball over 4 times. Nothing clicked.
The playoffs didn't work out, but obviously it was a great regular season for the Blazers. Fans in the Rose City can look forward to even better years ahead. But although you don't want to blow up the whole team, to our untrained eye, except for Roy and Aldridge, everyone else is expendable in the off-season.
And I'm pretty disappointed in the coaching staff in the playoffs. This Portland team was not ready to play.
Here's one of those curiosities of the internet. Today the anonymous writer of the defunct Portland blog Urban Planning Overlord (motto: "Soviet-style human warehousing is Portland's only hope") posted a piece on that blog about it being the first anniversary of its demise. The robots at Google caught it, and the robots at Technorati say the post was highly critical our own blog. But by the time we clicked over there, it was gone.
With 62 days to go before a formal recall effort against Portland's mayor can begin, the state's criminal investigation into his sexual relationship with a teenaged boy -- and possibly other, related matters -- continues. It's been going on for more than three months. What is taking so long?
Certainly it doesn't take more than three months to collect all the evidence about what went on, in the City Hall men's room and elsewhere, between the mayor and his underage or barely legal boyfriend. Is the investigation expanding into more issues? Is the announcement of the outcome being timed for tactical advantage?
Certainly Attorney General John Kroger is a politically savvy fellow, with ambitions beyond his current, already lofty office. It does not seem likely that he would bring a he-said-he-said case against the mayor, or litigate the issue of whether tongue-kissing alone is "sex." Regardless of the criminal statutes, however, he could write a scathing report on various mayoral misdeeds that would be eminently quotable in a TV recall campaign ad.
It's stunning that Kroger already holds the power of political life and death over the mayor of Portland. It will be interesting indeed to see what he does with it, and when.
Fresh from the successes of Portland's "voter-owned elections" system of taxpayer funding for local politicians' campaigns, the city's Citizen Campaign Commission announced this morning that it is extending the program to recall elections as well. Any elected official facing a recall will receive up to $250,000 in city funds for his or her campaign to defeat the recall, provided that he or she agrees not to accept contributions for other sources.
In order to qualify for the public funds, the official being recalled must collect 1,000 signatures and $5 checks from city workers who owe their jobs to that particular official.
"Citizens shouldn't have to wonder or worry about the motivation of their elected officials," said Commissioner Amanda Fritz, herself the beneficiary of not one but two pots of "voter-owned elections" money in recent years. "Neighbors should be able to expect that their government leaders will consider their concerns, needs, and requests as carefully as those of people with lots of money. When you don’t have to worry about recall campaign contributors, you only have to worry about doing what’s right."
Fritz noted that the new program will relieve any recalled official from having to waste several hours each day drumming up a defense fund from wealthy donors. The public funds will enable the recalled official to spend more time on valuable activities such as mentoring troubled teen interns. "There are only so many hours in the day. And based on my 27 years as a psychiatric nurse, I can tell you that there are many, many interns in need of mentoring," she explained.
Reader poll: Can the Blazers take the last two games of the Houston series?
In any sport, Game 6's of seven-game playoff series are usually pretty ugly. One team is scratching and clawing to stave off sudden death, and the other team is trying hard not to let its lead slip away and face a single, final, deciding contest. This is how the Rockets and Blazers find themselves as they get ready for Game 6 tomorrow evening, with Houston ahead 3 games to 2.
Ever since the Game 1 Blazer disaster, we've been asking readers what they thought Portland's chances were. And here are the responses we've gotten along the way:
After Game 1 - Houston leads 1-0
After Game 2 - series tied 1-1
After Game 3 - Houston leads 2-1
After Game 4 - Houston leads 3-1
Blazers will win in 5 games
Blazers will win in 6 games
Blazers will win in 7 games
Rockets will win in 4 games
Rockets will win in 5 games
Rockets will win in 6 games
Rockets will win in 7 games
As Game 6 approaches, we're now down to just three possible outcomes. Which do you think it will be?
Rudy Fernandez plays 35 minutes, Travis Outlaw (4 for 13 shooting) winds up on the pines for the last 5 minutes of the game, and the Blazers win by 11. Even Sergio got a chance to contribute, cranking up the tempo in Portland's favor and notching 2 key assists in the second quarter.
Brandon Roy was sick as a dog, but LaMarcus Aldridge kept the Blazers in the game while Roy caught his breath. Each scored 25 points when all was said and done.
Now the Blazers have to win just two in a row, the first of which is Thursday evening in a building that seems to have their number. How they're going to do it is not self-evident, but that's tomorrow's worry. Tonight's a night to bask in the glow.
Have you caught Fireman Randy's blog yet? It's been running for a month and change now. And it's quickly devolved into a "Randy in the News" promotion site. If he keeps this up when he's running for re-election (or against a recall, as some angry folks have recently suggested), will someone complain that he's been campaigning on the taxpayers' dime? Stay tuned.
Hey, we're not giving up on the Blazers. It's one game at a time, and the next game with the Houston Rockets is tonight at 7 at the Rose Garden. We've got a poll going on how readers think the playoff series will wind up, in light of the dreadful events of last weekend. If you haven't yet cast your vote in that survey, please weigh in here.
That's basically what Paul Allen is looking at with his Rose Quarter "entertainment district." The taxpayers go broke, and wind up bringing in some Olive Gardens, TGI Fridays... and hey, maybe the Salem bobbleheads will even let them go for a casino.
Let's assume that the entertainment district is built. Here are two possible outcomes:
1. It's a failure, and the city is left holding the bag for whatever bonds it has sold to finance its contribution to the district. (Kansas City, for example, had to pony up $4.7 million this year when its Cordish entertainment district -- much larger than the Rose Quarter project, in fairness -- didn't meet projections, and it's estimating another $7.2 million shortfall next year, according to the Kansas City Star.)
2. It's a success, but it impoverishes existing local bars, clubs and restaurants, or at least diminishes their ability to fill the margarita gap themselves.
The city loses either way. We lose our investment in the district. Or we hurt businesses outside the district, which pay taxes and contribute to the cultural vitality of the city.
No kidding. In Kansas City, the Cordish beast has killed off many of the local joints. It's big-box, chain retail. Just another mall, with bands and booze. Not Portland at all. So let's not go for it, folks.
Members of No Vacancy, however, feel the site could be best used for artistic uses – such as an outdoor gallery. It could also be used for other applications, Meier said, such as food carts, outdoor music, outdoor movies, skateboarding, bike camps for kids, green technology demonstrations and mobile gardening.
This afternoon, we put everything else down and headed out for an after-school hike with our daughter. In her younger days (she was barely beyond being a toddler), we had previously covered the Wildwood Trail from the Forestry Center down to the archery range, and we were overdue to pick it up from there.
What a wonderful stretch of trail that is, particularly right now, with the trillium in bloom. There is an absolute sea of trillium in evidence up there -- quite the sight to see. And not many people competing for the experience.
The dad-daughter conversation was scintillating, and the rain was barely making it through the gorgeous canopy of trees. But then came the jackpot as we took a detour down into the Japanese Garden. As the Mrs. and I discovered years ago, this is truly a special place, and it's even better with a precocious eight-year-old.
For the child admission fee, one gets a "hidden treasure" map, which sharpened our eyes to some features of the gardens that grown-up eyes clearly would have missed. We eventually accomplished our mission, but not without retracing our steps a couple of times to find some things that turned out to be wonderfully not obvious.
We trekked back to the car in time to miss the big rain -- we pitied the poor cyclists fighting their way over the Broadway Bridge in a hellacious downpour -- and got home just in time for dinner. Life is good.
Only if we can come to terms with Merritt on a stadium deal in Lents will we approach the issue with the Lents community. We do not want to raise expectations with the Lents neighborhood unless we are able to come to terms on a financial deal with Merritt.
First, we can't help but notice and appreciate the first-name basis. Please ignore the fact that the fellow's last name is PAULSON, and that he is the namesake son of BUSH TREASURY SECRETARY HENRY PAULSON. Or maybe he's like Prince and Madonna now -- no last name needed.
But it gets better. Read those words and reflect for a moment on what they represent: a pathetic attempt to portray the secret back-room dealings that have resumed at City Hall as somehow an attempt to protect the fragile feelings of the people who live near Lents Park. That's really cold.
Once the smoke clears and the new money deal with Paulson is cut, the pawns in the Lents neighborhood will be told how it's going to be. In the meantime, any further thoughts of theirs about what should happen to their neighborhood park are clearly not wanted. The huge parking lot, the "Thirsty Thursday" drunks, the displaced public fields -- keep your mouth shut about all that, people. Sam and his good friend Merritt are dealing.
The Pontiac line of GM cars is no more. People will mourn the death of the Trans Am, but heck, we even miss the Bonneville. Ah, and then there was the GTO -- for "gas, tires, and oil." In Jersey City, we used to call that car the "Goat."
Fans of the Portland Trailblazers have a way of hanging tough. Even as the team's playoff fortunes have deteriorated, they have cheered wildly, and from the heart. When asked over the weekend to predict an outcome of the playoff series with Houston Rockets, which resumes tomorrow night here in Portland, readers of this blog rated the Rose City unit's chances as pretty good:
After Game 1 - Houston leads 1-0
After Game 2 - series tied 1-1
After Game 3 - Houston leads 2-1
Blazers will win in 5 games
Blazers will win in 6 games
Blazers will win in 7 games
Rockets will win in 4 games
Rockets will win in 5 games
Rockets will win in 6 games
Rockets will win in 7 games
After a second consecutive heartbreaking loss in Houston last night, though, the confidence of everyone in the Blazer fold is going to be tested. Here's a chance to update those predictions:
Last night was frustrating, disappointing, and even a little embarrassing for the Blazers and their fans. As I understand it, Portland has now lost 12 out of its last 13 games in Houston. Tomorrow night they will have to battle hard at home, just for the chance to go back down there and try again.
Meanwhile, tonight the Lakers should eliminate the Utah Jazz in Los Angeles. Then they can hope the Blazers prolong their series to wear the Rockets out. From our vantage point, Houston will not stand a snowball's chance in L.A.
It's been a great run, and the Blazers have come so far, but this is as far as they're ever going to get if their coaching staff can't sense what's going on in a game and alter its substitution pattern accordingly.
Travis Outlaw down the stretch -- give me a break.
... in Blazers history, that is. If they win tonight's contest in Houston (6 p.m. our time), the youthful Blazers will square their series with the Rockets and turn it into a three-game dogfight in which Portland will have home court advantage. If they lose, they're one game away from being eliminated, and the Rockets will get three chances to pull the plug on them.
Friday night's loss highlighted the shortcomings of this year's Portland team. It was a game that they could have stolen, but they fell short. They made some bad decisions along the way. Their game plan was thin. They lived by the jump shot, and therefore left themselves vulnerable to die by it. They kept handing the ball to Brandon Roy and getting out of the way, on a night when he had his hands full and there were others on the team who could have produced more. They fell down on defense too many times.
The list could go on, but tonight has to be the night when we make up the list of all the good things that rock Houston and send the war back to the Rose City even-Steven. The national TV announcers told us the other night that the team that wins Game 3 and goes ahead 2 to 1 wins the series 76% of the time. Nobody said it was gonna be easy. Bu hao, Yao!
Our reader polls calling for predictions in the Blazers-Rockets playoff series have reflected the psychology of the pro hoops fans among our readership:
After Game 1 - Houston leads 1-0
After Game 2 - series tied 1-1
Blazers will win in 5 games
Blazers will win in 6 games
Blazers will win in 7 games
Rockets will win in 4 games
Rockets will win in 5 games
Rockets will win in 6 games
Rockets will win in 7 games
Now the Blazers have fallen behind again, 2 games to 1, and they're playing tomorrow in Houston. After that, they come back to Portland, and if they're still alive after that one, they return to Houston. If there is a Game 7, it will be in Portland.
Here's a little something to float in your weekend punchbowl: Next week the new, improved Portland Development Commission (the Sam the Tram version, with most of the Potter people booted out) will now tell us how they're going to set up "a new central city urban renewal area." This one will be called the Henry Paulson-Paul Allen Urban Renewal Area. Taxpayers, prepare for fleecing.
105 bird strikes at PDX in 2008 -- most on West Coast
At least, that's how many were reported. Here's the PDX data -- and here's where it comes from. Readers with an interest in our post of the other day -- about how PDX would rather this information be kept secret -- may find it interesting to read what they'd rather we didn't.
Portland reported far more strikes than any other airport on the West Coast last year. Seattle-Tacoma reported 55; San Francisco, 43; Oakland, 36; Los Angeles, 36; Burbank, 17; San Diego, 15.
Here's an e-mail message from a constituent to Portland Commissioner Dan Saltzman (below right) that bears publishing in its entirety:
Mr. Saltzman --
Please use your power as the swing vote to put this criminally stupid Paulson deal out of its misery so you can get back to doing the real business of the city. You know it is a waste of public assets and will never fly. You should also be aware that it will be as easy to gather signatures on three recall petitions on this matter as it will be to gather them on two. You have no idea of the breadth and depth of the outrage the Council has provoked, and there's still lots of misspent city money, both urban renewal and ticket tax, making it go.
The "expert" consultant's report is an error-ridden joke ("the airplane ate my homework" -- it's also noteworthy that his website says they've been involved in over 150 of these transactions, and then lists only four under "Success Stories"). And the city's own manager doesn't bother to look at it critically because Paulson's carefully circumscribed "guarantee" means he doesn't have to. When will this boob Logsdon be fired?
We heard all this Rainbows-and-Unicorns talk when the city made its last stupid stadium deal, with PFE, and didn't wash (or even look at) the bogus numbers (pardon me -- "trade secrets") -- our Lying Lavatory Lothario was up to his eyeballs in that one, too, as Katz's assistant. You guys are making the city a laughingstock. So please pull the plug now. If Paulson thinks this is such a good deal, let him (and Daddy) pay for all of it, and own the wonderful money-making stadiums outright (but not on the site of the Coliseum). Otherwise, let both teams share PGE Park with moveable bleachers (paid for by Paulson), or let "Major League" Soccer walk -- want to bet they don't, in this economy? I doubt they can afford to turn down Paulson's mostly borrowed $35 million. And if they do, too bad.
In addition, the next order of business should be to pull the [mis]management of the Memorial Coliseum from the Allen crowd, who obviously have no incentive to book lucrative acts into a venue where they share income. This foolish contract is the only reason the Coliseum has been allowed to decay superficially. What on earth were they thinking in 1992? A high-school Junior Achievement member could manage these valuable assets better than the Council and the well-compensated managers it employs. It would be hilarious if it weren't so sad.
If you believe I am wrong in my analysis, I would appreciate a specific refutation, not the standard "Thank you for expressing your views."
We had several witnesses at tonight's Portland Beavers baseball game at PGE Park (outstanding mortgage: $26 million), and the witnesses' estimates of the actual attendance ranged from 250 to 350. This while the Paulson team announced a blatantly false "attendance" of 1,625. My eye! Here are some telltale photos:
For this the taxpayers of Portland are going to spend $55 million and build a new stadium? What a sick joke.
Reader poll: *Now* how do you think Blazers-Rockets will end up?
Over the last couple of days, we asked readers who they thought would win the Blazers' first-round playoff series with the Houston Rockets, in light of Saturday night's blowout of Portland by Houston in Game 1. By last night, the verdict was in: Houston would take it, probably in 5 games.
But now the Blazers have evened the series at one game apiece, as the teams head down to Houston for two more games, Friday and Sunday evenings. Houston backup center Dkembe Mutombo suffered a season-ending (and given his age, career-ending) injury last night. Do these facts change your opinion any? Here's a chance to weigh in:
Yesterday we reported (and illustrated with a photo) the lackluster turnout for the Portland Beavers game on Monday night. The official attendance was only 1,981, and the photo showed a lot fewer actual butts in the seats than that. We wondered how this team could come anywhere close to meriting a brand new, taxpayer-financed stadium that would cost tens of millions of dollars -- at least $55 million, and probably more.
Last night, they drew even fewer fans -- the official count (likely inflated) was 1,633. So far this season, over five home games, including three weekend games and a home season opener, and with pretty good weather, the official attendance has averaged 3,874 fans per game. By tomorrow night, that number will be quite a bit lower -- probably somewhere around 3,300.
At 6% interest, it would take about $4 million a year to pay off a $55 million construction debt over 30 years. (And that's with no second mortgage for 30 years to pay for upgrades or other renovations.) If 3,300 fans showed up for each of 74 home games every year, each fan would have to contribute something like $16.38 on every visit just to pay off the bonds for the new stadium. Even the most expensive single-game tickets for the Beavers are $15.50 apiece. The average ticket sold is probably more like $12. You figure out where the money is going to come from to pay the mortgage.
Last week, Portland's mayor complained bitterly about the lackluster designs that had been produced so far in the controversial Columbia River Crossing project:
"I've stated from the very beginning, I wouldn't be bought off with great lighting or mosaics and gargoyles," Adams said. "I need to see an overall bridge that is something to show the world."
Word from inside City Hall today, however, indicates that the engineers and architects have come up with a plan that mayoral staffers say is likely to meet with Adams's approval. The revised sketch is here.
We'll pay for it with money from the Convention Center urban renewal pork district. No, wait... that's been promised to somebody else... how about the Interstate Avenue urban renewal pot?
We'll pay for the new soccer stadium with a new urban renewal district taking in all of northwest Portland. No, wait... that won't fly. We'll pay for it with... with... we'll get back to you on that.
But remember, Portland -- we know what we're doing and we're driving a hard bargain for the taxpayers here. Just look at our numbers! No, wait... that's right, those numbers are wrong. The consultant guy was sick and he had to do the math on the plane...
KGW just reported that the City of Portland's historical panel has made its choice: 39th Avenue should become Chávez Boulevard. The folks along 39th have, too -- 694 opposed and 91 in favor of renaming their street. Another Portland happy time is just around the corner.
UPDATE, 11:30 p.m.: I have tracked down the Port of Portland's comments, here. Here's the most interesting part:
Many states have public records laws similar to the Freedom of Information Act. Oregon’s Public Records Law creates a strong presumption in favor of disclosure for all public records, with very few exceptions. One exception covers information voluntarily submitted to a public body (such as a municipal airport) in confidence, under circumstances where the public body has agreed to keep the information confidential and the public interest would suffer by its disclosure. ORS 192.502(4). This exemption probably already applies to bird strike data, but if the Port were to be challenged in court, the proposed FAA order would significantly improve our ability to explain how the public interest would be hurt by disclosure. The proposed order would also make available another important exemption, one which applies in the case of records "the disclosure of which is prohibited by federal law or regulations."
While the Port is proud of Oregons’ Public Records Law and supports the public’s right to view government documents and information, there are instances in which the public interest is not well served by unlimited disclosure. This is clearly the case with bird strike data collected under the current voluntary system. We strongly support the FAA’s proposal to adopt an order designating this information as protected from disclosure.
The preliminary sales document for the bonds is here. Here are the projects that are supposed to get the money:
That last line is a little surprising. Portland Community College recently floated its own bonds -- a massive $200 million borrowing for new facilities. Apparently that isn't enough -- it needs a state grant as well.
Back when PCC was campaigning for its ballot measure authorizing a total of $374 million of new borrowing, we suggested that in these difficult times PCC ought to be concentrating more on distance learning than on bricks-and-mortar facilities. That argument went nowhere with the voters, and so onward with the borrowing and the building we go. Celebratory drinks all around tonight for the construction company bigwigs at the Arlington Club -- the boys from Howard S. Wright, Hoffman, Walsh and Skanska USA. Clink!
The vote called for remodeling PGE Park for the team and building a new stadium in the Rose Quarter for the minor league Portland Beavers baseball team. Now, just five weeks after the first vote, the council is on the verge of authorizing the coliseum to be demolished for the stadium.
According to Adams, the decision is not happening as quickly as it seems. In fact, the mayor says the council has repeatedly voted for policies that support the decision for the past 20 years.
A strange man, whose personal problems are now all of our problems.
It appears that a fair chunk of the dough necessary to pay for the bush league baseball and soccer palaces we're going to build for the Henry Paulson Wall Street family is going to come from Blazer fans!
And taxpayers, of course.
But click on the story and scroll down a bit. It gets worse. Nobody checked the consultant's numbers -- the same consultant they hired to paper over the Convention Center hotel -- and his math and assumptions are all screwed up.
Reader poll: How will Blazers-Rockets series wind up?
We're all still feeling a bit bruised from the Blazers' Saturday night drubbing at the hands of Yao, Brooks, Adelman, and the rest of the Houston crew. What do you think the outcome of this first-round playoff matchup will be?
Well, there's two hours of my life I'll never get back. The Houston Rockets gave the Blazers a serious shellacking tonight -- one of their worst home playoff losses ever, 108-81. The game was over in the first three and a half minutes. Yao Ming scored 9 points in that span of time, and Aaron Brooks had Houston's other 2, while the whole Blazer team scored only 2. After that, the Blazers never threatened.
Yao killed them. But it wasn't just Yao. Brooks scored 27 and dished out 7 assists, embarrassing the Blazer defense time after time down the court; nobody laid a hand on him. Ron Artest scored 17 points on 7 for 12 shooting. Luis Scola added 19 points and 8 boards.
Offensively, the Blazers had little going on. Their long bombs weren't going in, and they had nothing else to offer. Yao completely scared them away from trying to drive to the basket. They looked as though they didn't know what they were doing. Clearly they did not show up ready to play.
The referees were terrible -- both ways, but especially against the Blazers. It was a no-name officiating crew, and one that doesn't belong in important games. But it really didn't matter much -- the Blazers were stone cold beat from start to finish.
The home crowd at the Rose Garden wasn't impressive, either. With nothing to cheer about, in the second half it vacillated between library silence and several chants of "These refs suck!" The house entertainment program, never one of Portland's strong points, has become so irrelevant that the more seasoned fans resorted to an old-fashioned "Let's go Blazers," trying to drown it out.
A first-game playoff loss may or may not shake a team's confidence, but getting blown out of its own building, trounced in every department, is definitely going to have Portland looking over its shoulder come game 2 on Tuesday. It's a good thing that the Blazers held their victory party in Pioneer Courthouse Square on Thursday. Barring a miracle -- and especially if they don't shut down Brooks, who isn't as good as Portland let him play tonight -- they'll be available for autographs at golf courses throughout the area quite soon.
Here's our patented lousy photo from the game. This was first quarter action, with LaMarcus Aldridge taking a rare inside shot. After this, I put the camera away, and there wasn't much to move me to take it back out:
The halftime show was Red Panda Acrobat, a gal from San Francisco who balanced on a tall unicycle and flipped multiple bowls onto her head with one foot. She really got the job done. For Blazer fans, it was the only good part of the night.
UPDATE, 2:07 a.m.: Rich Adelman's a darn good coach -- always has been.
A reader who follows the financial train wreck known as the SoWhat District in Portland reports that despite earlier denials, the city now admits that the ground on which the district's greenway is supposed to be built has some potentially serious soil contamination problems. These are going to set the project schedule back even further than the lack of money to build it already has. The reader forwards this e-mail message which the readers says is from city Parks Bureau manager Elizabeth Kennedy-Wong:
It has been some time since we last gave you an update about the progress of the South Waterfront Greenway. Here is the latest news.
First, the Project Manager, Patty Freeman was offered an excellent opportunity to work for Tualatin Hills Parks and Recreation District (THPRD). As many of you know, THPRD just passed a significant bond and is staffing up to work on a variety of projects. We are very sad to lose Patty's enthusiasm and skill, but wish her the best!
In her absence, Liz Moorhead and Robin Grimwade will oversee the project on an interim basis. Once the federal permitting requirements have been obtained and we are ready to proceed with construction, we will identify a permanant Project Manager.
Regarding the project schedule - As many of you realize, one of the causes for the project delay, was the discovery of soil contamination. After lengthy discussions between the Department of Environmental Quality, property owners, Portland Development Commission and Portland Parks & Recreation, its been agreed that some additional sampling work needs to be undertaken along the greenway. This work is expected to start in May.
In addition to the information we gather from the soil samples - we will incorporate the feedback from the discussion between the City and National Marine Fisheries that took place in late 2008. These two additional information sources will inform the projects design so that an updated permit application can be submitted to the Army Corp of Engineers and National Marine Fisheries Service. We anticipate being able to submit the updated permit applications in November 2009.
In October 2009, we will invite the community to review the updated designs so that you know how the project may have been amended.
Thanks to everyone for your patience and support and we work through these challenges.
One of the great things that happen when the Blazers are in the playoffs is that the games bring people to town whom you wouldn't normally see in Portland. Last night, as we entered the Nines Hotel for the first time for a work-related social function, we noticed the unmistakable signs that the Houston Rockets, the Blazers' first-round opponents, were staying there. Out in front of the main entrance, a truck full of packed duffel bags was being unloaded, and there were a handful of autograph seekers hanging around. There were folks from Houston on the elevator. All that was missing was a sighting of Yao himself.
Over the cocktail hour at our function (which was excellent, by the way), we toyed with the idea of hunting Yao down and clubbing one of his sore feet -- shades of Tonya Harding. We could even be tried in the same Multnomah County Courthouse as Tonya! A couple of appetizers later, we decided against our plan. That had just been the Blazermania talking.
I didn’t know [the victim], but I had just heard from *** that she had been at a neighborhood meeting where a gentleman asked the cop in attendance what he can do about this crazy neighbor he has who’s been threatening him, had put sugar in his gas tank, and harassed him for months now, and the cops had never responded once to his calls about this guy. He was told there are eight cops on patrol between I-5 and 205 from I-84 north to the river. That whole rectangle has eight cops at any time. They aren’t going to come mess with some dude’s crazy neighbor. He can make a citizen’s arrest, is what the cop told him. She wouldn’t even directly answer him when he asked if he should get a Taser. She said, "You can use reasonable force, whatever that means to you."
I told *** about the stabbing murder and she was devastated when she heard the news. She texted me back a little while ago -- it wasn’t the same neighbor. He’s still alive apparently, but the point remains -- we’ve pared back police services so much that two citizens that we know of in the last week have cried out for help with crazy neighbors and now one of them is dead, and there is nothing we can do about it. Unemployment has gone parabolic, summer’s just around the corner, gang-related violence is on the rise, and we have eight cops on the beat for a 15-square mile territory. Go by streetcar, indeed.
Please find a way to post something about this. This is only the beginning.
The City of Portland's taxpayers pay part of Merritt Paulson's bush league sports payroll because he's such a cheapskate:
His economic consultant, Economics Research Associates, says [Merritt] Paulson's [stadiums] plan would add 217 jobs within his soccer and baseball teams. Paulson's 300-job pledge includes about 100 jobs that might be added by restaurants, parking lots and garbage haulers who feed off the teams.
Of the jobs Paulson would directly create, about 160, or three-quarters, would be full-time positions paying roughly $50,000 on average with health and retirement benefits, he said. The rest would be low-wage, part-time, seasonal ticket takers, ushers and others who get no benefits....
Mayor Sam Adams, one of Paulson's chief supporters at City Hall, has rallied against Wal-Mart's expansion in Portland partly because of its low wages. Yet the retailer offers similar wages to what Paulson's part-time workers make -- and better benefits....
The city pays $150,000 a year to boost stadium worker wages to $11.26 an hour. The payments last year went to 118 ushers, ticket takers and field maintenance workers. (Concession crews work under a subcontract with Paulson's company and don't receive the city subsidy.)
Paulson last year paid most of those workers the state's minimum wage, $7.95 an hour, and the city paid an additional $3.31. Other workers earned $8.50 plus a $2.76 city subsidy, according to city records. None of those workers received health coverage or retirement benefits, Paulson said....
Why is "progressive" Portland in bed with this fellow? One of the many mysteries surrounding the current brand of local leadership.
The Trib is reporting that a city employees' union is proposing unpaid furlough days rather than layoffs to cure the budget ills in Portland's Bureau of Development Services (motto: "Condo weasels are Priority 1").
That stands in stark contrast, however, to the e-mail message we got the other morning from an alert reader:
HOT TIP: Went to BDS to file a permit, mon, and lo and behold -- they are REMODELIN'! With more than a year with no biz, the permit center has been a vast empty place, so it makes SO much sense, in times like these, to REDECORATE. Well, I guess it was "shovel-ready".... Go by streetcar w/Mayor Creepy!
I hope whatever spray paint they bought was properly registered and licensed.
Here we go -- a playoff series for the Blazers. It's been six years since the last one. We have our Blazer flag flying over the front porch, and our spendy tickets for all the home games in hand, and so it's time to get psyched about the upcoming contests with the Houston Rockets.
Ah, the Rockets. They are truly a tough opponent for Portland -- one of the worst, really. Last season, they swept Portland in their four regular-season battles; this season, they beat Portland twice in Houston, and lost once in Portland. The Blazers have lost 10 out of their last 11 games in Houston. Over the past five seasons, the Rockets' record against the Blazers has been 14 wins and 4 losses. Ouch.
I saw the Rockets up close in April 2007, when they beat the Blazers here in Portland; and in December 2005, when they also prevailed here. Neither game was close.
The key men on the Houston squad are the prolific scoring guard Tracy McGrady and the 7-foot-6-inch Chinese center Yao Ming. McGrady is always injured, including now (he won't play again this year), which means that Yao is their clear star. He is backed by a strong supporting cast. Ron Artest, best known for punching a fan's lights out in 2004 and being suspended for a year on account of it, is back and playing well as a swing man despite his constant stream of off-court problems. Then there is forward Shane Battier, whose traditional statistics are not dazzling but whose many contributions were well documented in a recent Times magazine profile. Another guy making a mark is Argentinian big man Luis Scola, who has had an impressive second NBA season.
McGrady's backup, Von Wafer, is a former Blazer who has been showing some explosive potential in Houston after Portland gave up on him. Other familiar faces include ex-Oregon State Beaver guard Brent Barry, who recently celebrated his 49th birthday, and Aaron Brooks, the former Oregon Duck point guard. A contemporary of Brooks, Carl Landry, gets a fair amount of time at power forward, where he puts up numbers like 10 points, 6 rebound a game.
To Blazer fans of a certain vintage, however, the most familiar face on the Rockets bench is its head coach, Rick Adelman. Adelman coached the Blazers to their two most recent appearances in the NBA finals, in 1990 and 1992; he also played for the Blazers in the earliest days of their existence. He took over the Rockets two years ago, when Jeff Van Gundy was fired. When last I looked, Adelman still owned a house in the ritzy Dunthorpe section of Portland. His son, a basketball coach at Lincoln High School, was recently in the news, but not in a good way; another son reportedly has had some of the same problems.
Adelman's appearance in a Blazers-Rockets playoff game holds more than a bit of irony. The Blazers were eliminated by Houston in the first round in 1994; that was Adelman's swan song with the Blazers.
The Rockets can never seem to get past the first round of the playoffs any more, and the Blazers certainly hope to continue that streak. But the first-round jinx seems to attach more to McGrady than to Yao, and with only the latter suiting up against the Blazers, it's not clear that fate is tilting against Houston as drastically as it once may have.
Of all the players in the American pro league, Yao is one of our favorites, and Adelman brings back fond memories of days when we screamed deliriously at the exploits of Clyde, Terry, Buck, Jerome, and Duck. If we're prepared to boo anyone on the Rockets, it would have to be Artest, but we're carrying no baggage against the rest of the Houston team. Here's hoping for a hard-fought, cleanly played series... that the Blazers win in six games.
The schedule, just announced:
Game 1 - Sat April 18 Houston at Portland 7:30PM ESPN
Game 2 - Tue April 21 Houston at Portland 7:00PM NBATV
Game 3 - Fri April 24 Portland at Houston 6:30PM ESPN
Game 4 - Sun April 26 Portland at Houston 6:00PM TNT
Game 5 * Tue April 28 Houston at Portland TBD TBD
Game 6 * Thu April 30 Portland at Houston TBD TBD
Game 7 * Sat May 2 Houston at Portland TBD TNT
* - If necessary
Even stupider than the Paulson stadiums deal is this stinker, which Mayor Creepy has now resurrected for more wasted millions -- at least $11 million more for now. For heaven's sake, Portland! Put the mushrooms down. And please recall this deeply flawed man from office before he drags us all down into his personal hell.
The convention and hotel business is completely and utterly in the tank right now. No one in his or her right mind is talking about spending a nickel on it. Can you say "The Nines"? But of course, the developers in Portland, who see five suckers on the City Council, can't stop talking about it. "Mark Edlen thinks we ought to build it." Really? That's a surprise.
Here is where we find out whether Ted Wheeler, Jeff Cogen, and the other Multnomah County commissioners have any guts, and anything on the ball. According to the latest rehashes from the media, this colossally bad idea now gets kicked back to the county and the Goldschmidt remnants over at Metro:
If Adams can win support from the county and Metro, the public agencies would pay up to $12 million over the next year for detailed construction drawings.
Here is what the county needs to do: Pass a resolution telling Sam Adams that there is nothing to talk about. The county will not spend another penny, nor another hour, on the Convention Center hotel. Will not impose and will not collect any additional taxes needed to pay for it -- nada. If Portland wants to blow $200 million on this, it's Portland's problem to figure out how to get it done without the county's help.
Come on, Ted and Jeff. One of you guys should be mayor, but you'll never be if you play along with the high-speed financial disaster known as Sam the Tram.
With San Antonio's overtime win against New Orleans tonight, the Blazers will be stuck with the Houston Rockets as their first-round playoff opponent. (Houston lost in Dallas.) If the Blazers win at home against Denver tonight, at least they'll have home court advantage.
If the Blazers survive the Rockets, the second round will be against the Lakers. Gulp. As Bill Schonely puts it, "Nobody said it was gonna be easy."
UPDATE, 9:57 p.m.: Home court advantage is secure, as the Blazers pounded Denver tonight.
We're going to miss the Portland mainstream media if it's ever finally dead and buried. It's always fun to track the different news organs' separate spins on the same story.
Take last night, for example. Portland's mayor held an "open house" on the rush-rush plan to blow tens of millions of dollars of public money to build not one but two new stadiums for bush league sports teams owned by the fat cats of the Henry Paulson Wall Street family. According to the Trib, the mayor faced "a roomful of lions" -- a "hostile crowd," some of whom "booed and hissed whenever he talked about" replacing the Memorial Coliseum with yet another minor league baseball park -- a decision that he and his City Council colleague, Fireman Randy, unilaterally made a month or two ago. "[M]ost of the opinions," the Trib reported of last night's confab, "seemed opposed to both the plans and the speed with which they are developing."
The O sent a reporter to the same event, although one would hardly know it. In that publication, the mayor merely got "input," and "[m]any expressed concerns or questioned the complicated construction and financial plans." Translation: It was a lovely night, except for the people who were too dumb to understand the genius of it all.
Serving as a grim counterweight to the amusing news coverage was an alarming detail buried down in a separate O story that hit the web yesterday. It has to do with the Blazers' plan, which the mayor is now co-opting, to let a controversial development outfit called Cordish Company build one of its glitzy "entertainment districts" around the Rose Garden, which sits next door to the soon-to-be-wrecked Coliseum. According to the O --
The Blazers entertainment district would run in the neighborhood of $200 million, according to city officials, and Paulson's pitch would cost about $89 million. The costs of both would be covered by public and private sources -- with nearly all the financing still to be sorted out.
Adams said he hopes to bring the outlines of a public-private deal with the Blazers to the City Council later this month.
It's not enough to sell out our future for Henry Paulson -- now there has to be public money in there for Paul Allen, too. Well over a quarter billion of total investment for these wasteful developments, and that's just at the liars' budget stage. The inmates are running the asylum, people. The City of Portland is completely and certifiably off its rocker.
Meanwhile, the Coliseum turns out to have a surprising number of admirers, even among the condo architect set. They've quickly organized to stop the demolition, and now one of the defenders of the old arena has uncovered a legal wrinkle that could tie up the Paulson hustle for quite some time. In an e-mail to the mayor yesterday, Joshua Cohen wrote:
The Central City Plan District, where Memorial Coliseum is located, requires any planned development that includes a demolition to replace the demolished structure's ground floor square footage on site. Adjustments through design review are prohibited.... The footprint of Memorial Coliseum is 137,300 square feet. I doubt that the proposed replacement, a minor league baseball stadium, would involve building such a large structure, unless it covers the entire field, at a large additional expense.
This could be removed with another city ordinance, but that provides yet another avenue for opponents of demolition to fight the project. As I've learned from following other controversial projects in Portland, permitting can be drawn out for years with appeals... more than enough time to get a National Register nomination for Memorial Coliseum approved. Perhaps another site that does not carry such restrictions would be a better choice for the new baseball stadium.
Go for it, Cohen! And, hey, Commissioners Nick Fish and Amanda Fritz -- where's the process here?
The more one looks at the Paulson stadiums deal, the less likely it appears that it could ever come to full fruition. The more realistic question is how much city money will be wasted before it's killed off. The mayor and the fireman have lots of experience with harebrained ideas that they suddenly have to drop like a hot potato -- the Sauvie Island Bridge move and the first round of Chávez Boulevard, to name but two. Let's hope they add the duelling white elephant stadiums to that list as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, even the guy from Pink Martini, who jigged around with Storm Large singing "What's a Little Sex with a Teenage Boy?" on the mayor's behalf back in January, now says he thinks that the mayor's "lost it." Maybe Mr. Piano Man heard from his own fan base about how much face he's lost by jumping to Hizzoner's defense. In any case, he's quite right in his revised assessment.
The John Kroger-Ben Westlund publicity machine lobbed one back at OppenheimerFunds yesterday in connection with the State of Oregon's lawsuit against that company over alleged mismanagement of the state's ill-fated college savings plan. In a statement issued to "correct the record," the state attorney general and treasurer wrote in part:
OppenheimerFunds' statement accused Oregon of suing the company "without so much as a single meeting" with company officials.
In truth, lawyers representing Oregon discussed the case on numerous occasions by telephone and in person with counsel for OppenheimerFunds. Oregon repeatedly indicated that it would like to resolve the case amicably. Unfortunately, OppenheimerFunds did not take this case seriously, even after being advised that a lawsuit would be filed if OppenheimerFunds was not prepared to discuss a serious settlement. Because OppenheimerFunds sought to delay rather than engage in serious negotiations, Oregon decided to file suit.
Oregon's unemployment rate just topped 12 percent. Shades of the early '80s. At least the prime rate isn't 21 percent this time around. But hey, there's some good news mixed in: "Government added only 200 jobs in March, when a gain of 1,200 is normal." It must be nice.
The Blazer playoff seeding scenarios have been reduced considerably tonight, as the Blazers and Houston both won, and San Antonio is way ahead of the Golden State Whatevers. Denver also won.
On Wednesday night, Portland hosts Denver, Houston visits Dallas, and San Antonio hosts the Hornets. My calculations produce the following projections:
If Houston, Portland and San Antonio all win: Blazers are 4 seed, play Spurs.
If Houston and Portland win, San Antonio loses: Blazers are 4 seed, play Spurs.
If Houston and San Antonio win, Portland loses: Blazers are 5 seed, play Spurs.
If Houston wins, Portland and San Antonio lose: Blazers are 4 seed, play Spurs.
If Houston, Portland and San Antonio all lose: Blazers are 4 seed, play Spurs.
If Houston and Portland lose, San Antonio wins: Blazers are 5 seed, play Rockets.
If Houston and San Antonio lose, Portland wins: Blazers are 3 seed, play Hornets.
If Houston loses, Portland and San Antonio win: Blazers are 3 seed, play Mavericks A perfect mess -- see the updates below.
If the Blazers win on Wednesday, they sew up home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. If they lose, the Blazers will need New Orleans to beat the Spurs in order for Portland to have that advantage.
To my eye, the worst scenario for the Blazers is Portland losing to Denver, Houston losing to Dallas, and San Antonio beating New Orleans. That puts the Blazers up against Houston, with the Rockets having the home court. Yuck.
UPDATE, 4/14, 1:08 p..m.: A knowledgable reader says that if Houston loses, but Portland and the Spurs win, then Portland is the 4 seed, and plays Houston in the first round. This is based on some multiple-team tiebreaker rules that, to be honest, I have never seen. If anyone has a link to the official version of those rules, I would love to have it.
UPDATE, 4/14, 3:15 p.m.: I have found the official criteria, and they are here. The way I am reading them, both I and the reader may have it wrong. If Houston loses and Portland and the Spurs win, three teams are tied at 54-28: Portland, Denver and the Spurs. The "Playoff Tie-Break Procedures" state:
(1) (a) Since the three division winners are guaranteed a spot in the top four, ties to determine the division winners must be broken before any other ties.
(b) When a tie must be broken to determine a division winner, the results of the tie-break shall be used to determine only the division winner and its playoff position, not any other playoff position(s).
The only tie to determine a division winner in this scenario would be Denver-Portland. Denver would win that one based on division record. That gives Denver the division winner spot.
What happens next is where things get a little crazy. Is there still a three-way tie to be broken? I think there is, with Portland, the Spurs and Denver still all with the same record. San Antonio and Denver are the division winners, but so what? Portland can still get the 2 seed, can't it? "Teams 1 to 4 in each conference are the three division winners and the team with the next best regular-season record, with the seeding of these four teams determined by regular-season record."
They all have the same record, and so there's a three-way tie. The first criterion listed under "More Than Two Teams Tied" is "Better winning percentage in all games among the tied teams." In that case, Portland wins! The Blazers would be 3-1 against San Antonio and 2-2 against Denver, for a 5-3 record. Denver would be 2-2 against Portland, and Denver is 2-1 over the Spurs, for 4-3. The Spurs would be 2-5. Thus, Portland would get the 2 seed and play the Hornets in the first round. Yikes!
The only qualm I have about this outcome is that a separate section of the "Playoff Picture" page, entitled "Tiebreaker Basis," states that the first criterion for breaking a tie is "Division leader wins tie from team not leading a division." Is that true for multiple-team ties as well as two-team ties? It may be that a non-division-winner can get ahead of a division winner only if the non-division-winner has a better record than the division winner -- not just tied. That would definitely place Portland as the 4 seed in this scenario. But that's not what it says under "Playoff Tie-Break Procedures."
UPDATE, 4/14, 8:07 p.m.: The official NBA page on the playoff scenarios now says that if Houston loses and Portland and San Antonio both win, the Blazers will be the 4 seed. They need a better description of their rules, but hey, it's their league.
When the politicians start rushing nine-figure projects through the pipeline before anyone gets a good look at them, it's not a good sign. Even if there's nothing going on under the table, fast deals often mean big mistakes. Portland has made more than its share of these over the past decade or two, and under the current reckless, narcissist mayor it's only going to get worse.
The warp speed at which the Paulson stadiums deal is travelling through the City of Portland's legal processes is troublesome in the extreme. At every turn, sensible safeguards are being overridden, and tax money has already begun gushing every which way without a decent idea of how the transaction is going to work -- or if it will work at all.
As an example, consider the action that the City Council is planning to take this week. For one thing, the ordinance purports to exempt from competitive bidding the operating agreement for the new stadiums -- an agreement of which the council does not have even so much as a draft at this point. Until one knows what will be in a contract, how can one determine that it shouldn't be put out for bid, as the law ordinarily requires?
Meanwhile, and more worrisome, it's not clear from the "predevelopment agreement" that the city's going to sign now, just what the city is and isn't obligated to do by way of funding the project. In the contract, the city promises to do the following things, among many others:
Identify and use commercially reasonable efforts to implement a bond offering strategy, following approval of an eighteenth amendment to the OCC and the lapse of any time periods for appeal of such amendment, and, if possible, sell the OCC TIF bonds through traditional sources and/or private placements through Peregrine [an entity identified with the Paulson family];
Endeavor to maximize the capacity of the Spectator Facilities Fund backed bonds through innovative means, including, but not limited to, the use of a tax-exempt bond structure and/or the cost-effective refinancing of existing PGE Park bonds;
Identify and implement a strategy to secure the $15,000,000 in revenue whose source was to be determined under the preliminary finance plan included in the Proposed Transaction;... and
Use commercially reasonable efforts to identify all Project funding sources by August 1, 2009 and, if possible, secure the funding sources by September 1, 2009.
Lots of weasel words there, to be sure. "[U]se commercially reasonable efforts to implement a bond offering strategy, and, if possible, sell the OCC TIF bonds through traditional sources and/or private placements through Peregrine"? "Endeavor to maximize the capacity of the Spectator Facilities Fund backed bonds through innovative means"? "Identify and implement a strategy to secure the $15,000,000 in revenue"? Lawsuits waiting to happen -- every one.
The last quoted clause is particularly ambiguous: "Use commercially reasonable efforts to identify all Project funding sources by August 1, 2009 and, if possible, secure the funding sources by September 1, 2009." Is the verb "secure" modified by the phrase "use commercially reasonable efforts to"? Or is it an absolute promise to get something done? And only "if possible"? At what interest rate does a financing become impossible? 10 percent a year? 15 percent? 20 percent? 25 percent?
It may not matter what these words mean, however, as the termination clause appears to let everybody walk away at any time over the summer, with no further commitment:
This Agreement may be terminated by a Party delivering written
notice of such termination to the other Party at any time for any or no reason. The termination will be effective upon receipt of the termination notice by the non-terminating Party. Except as
set forth in Section 9 [relating to predevelopment costs], termination is the sole and exclusive remedy available to the Parties hereunder.
Just as with the resolution that they passed last month, the members of the City Council don't know exactly what this agreement requires the city to do. Nobody does. All the politicians know is that the Paulsons and the construction companies and the unions have said "Jump." As ever, the Portland government's response is "How high?"
Have you seen your entity, baby, standin' in the shadows?
An alert reader writes:
I took a look at the draft copy of the ordinance that the [Portland] City Council will consider this week, which contains the predevelopment agreement [relating to the new Paulson soccer and baseball stadiums] and approves the no-bid award of the operating agreement to Peregrine [an entity connected to the Paulsons].
On the first page of the draft ordinance, there is a finding which states in part that the Triple-A baseball stadium "will be developed by Peregrine Sports LLC and operated by an entity under common management with Peregrine Sports, LLC."
I'm wondering whether the "entity" will be a joint venture between Cordish Company and Peregrine. Cordish is developing the entertainment district in the Rose Quarter. I don't understand how the city can pass an ordinance containing a reference to "an entity" although it could be amended at the last minute.
Cordish Company is in a joint venture with the Kansas Speedway which is trying to develop a casino at the Kansas Speedway:
There are many other puzzling aspects to the documents before the City Council this week -- so much so that they warrant another post of their own. For now, however, suffice it to say that it might be a good idea for Portlanders to start taking a look at whom they are dealing with besides the Paulsons, the local construction companies, and the unions.
Save your screen -- swallow beverage fully before reading
Portland's mayor, Sam the Tram, suddenly says that he's fed up with all the "cheap, ugly housing" that's being built in town. It appears he's more partial to the expensive, ugly housing that his developer masters tend to favor. There's a problem, though, that the mayor apparently isn't noticing -- the expensive stuff isn't selling any more. And so if you want the almighty "density" and "infill," cheap and ugly is pretty much all that's left.
For a Portland official to use the word "ugly" when referring to the Soviet-style human warehouses that the city planning army demands is refreshing. Alas, it's accompanied by the ever-present lie:
Metro estimates that around 300,000 new housing units must be built in the metropolitan area in coming decades to accommodate the new people projected to move here. Portland has historically taken a disproportionately large percent of the new residents, and Adams does not expect that to change even if SB 907 does not pass.
As has been noted on this blog time and again, the City of Portland's population has grown in recent years at an annual rate of approximately 1.3 percent. The metropolitan area's population has grown at an annual rate of about 1.7 percent. Portland has not been taking more than a proportionate share of the population growth.
But thanks to our fearless local politicians, it has built more than its fair share of ugly housing. Nothing can stop those Hoffman Construction cranes when they're hungry. Go by streetcar!
After the Paulsons sell a bunch of bonds whereby the City of Portland borrows money from their friends at exorbitant interest rates, maybe old Hank and the boys will bet against the same bonds and damage the city's credit. Unlikely? Just ask these folks.
Tim Duncan of the San Antonio Spurs can't play back-to-back games any more. Without a night off between contests, his body just can't take the pounding. And so given that they were in just such a situation against the Sac'to Kings tonight and the Oakland Whatevers tomorrow night, the Spurs decided to rest Duncan and let him play tomorrow. The Spurs survived tonight, just barely, and now they are tied with the Blazers for fourth place in the Western Conference and the important home-court advantage in the first round of the playoffs, which start next weekend.
The San Antonio strategy -- rest TD the first night, let him loose the second -- is a wise one. And it shows how carefully the Spurs are approaching their potential matchup with Portland, who whupped them pretty good just last week.
Both Portland and San Antonio have two games left, one tomorrow night and one Wednesday. The Blazers are at home tomorrow against the humble Oklahoma City Thunder, and at home Wednesday night against the scary Denver Nuggets; the Spurs are on the road in Oakland tomorrow and at home against N'Awlins, a playoff team, on Wednesday.
An alert reader has pointed out a serious quirk in the league's playoff seeding rules that could lead to much grinding of teeth among the Blazer faithful. What if Portland, Houston, and San Antonio, all with identical records at the moment, finish the season in a dead heat in the standings (that is, they each win the same number out of their remaining two games)?
At first glance, you would think that the Blazers would be seeded higher than the Spurs. The first tiebreaker is the head-to-head record. Portland holds the series advantage against San Antonio 3 to 1. That being the case, the Blazers should get the nod over the Spurs if the two of them end up tied. Houston has the head-to-head tiebreaker against the Blazers, and so as between the Rockets and the Blazers, the Rockets should get a higher seed.
But the plot thickens slightly when one realizes that head to head, the Spurs and the Rockets split their series 2-to-2. The next tiebreaker is division record, where at the moment the Spurs have a half-game lead over the Rockets.
But wait! If Houston and San Antonio both win their last two games, they would be in a dead heat all the way through the first three tiebreakers: head-to-head (2-2), division record (10-6), and conference record (36-16). The fourth tiebreaker between the Spurs and the Rockets would be their records against Western Conference playoff teams. Houston has got the better of that one, I believe. I have them at 15-12 if they win out, whereas the Spurs would be 12-13. That would put Houston ahead of San Antonio, and as noted earlier, the Blazers would be ahead of San Antonio, too, based on head-to-head.
Conclusion: If the three teams each win both their remaining games, the Blazers will likely play the Spurs in the first round and definitely have the home-court advantage. Sometimes the home-court business is just a lot of hype, but given the Blazers' dominance at the Rose Garden this year, it's a fairly serious thing this time around. If the Blazers can win both of their remaining games, by my reckoning they've got that advantage sewed up. And the Spurs know they can't afford to lose this week.
A few weeks ago Portland Mayor Creepy sent around an e-mail message explaining some of the details of the insane sort-of-deal that he and a slim majority of the City Council has committed to with Little Lord Paulson for his two new publicly financed bush league sports stadiums. He said in part:
With respect to the baseball stadium, the City has agreed to provide $18.5 million in funding. This money will be generated from the sale of zero-coupon bonds. Under current market conditions, the City cannot sell these bonds. The Paulson family has agreed to step in and find a buyer for these bonds, thereby allowing the City to tap into this resource. If the Paulson family fails to find a buyer, then the City can walk away from the deal. Furthermore, this $18.5 million does not impact any of the money that has been reserved for other projects in the Oregon Convention Center Urban Renewal Area.
Today, The New York Postreports that there will need to be $36 million of zero-coupon bonds:
The younger Paulson needs Portland to sell $36 million in zero-coupon taxable bonds to fund a new baseball stadium downtown -- but the market for such debt is dicey.
"We are confident we can navigate the market for the zero-coupons bonds," Paulson told The Post last week. "We're very confident on the financing side."
So which one do you think it is, Portland? The $18.5 million that the mayor talked about or the $36 million reported in the Post?
That the highly paid leader of arguably America's most esteemed educational institution (disclosure: I went there) would simultaneously freelance as a hedge-fund guy might stand as a symbol for the values of our time. At the start of his stormy and short-lived presidency, Summers picked a fight with Cornel West for allegedly neglecting his professorial duties by taking on such extracurricular tasks as cutting a spoken-word CD. Yet Summers saw no conflict with moonlighting in the money racket while running the entire university. The students didn’t even get a CD for his efforts — and Harvard's deflated endowment, now in a daunting liquidity crisis, didn’t exactly benefit either.
The news came as a shock to Hoffman Construction, the Portland contractor building the project. Bart Eberwein, a vice president with Hoffman, said that in 21 years in the construction business he couldn’t think of another project that stalled like this. He called it a sad commentary on the state of the financial markets....
Hoffman is scrambling to close down the project and find alternative work for the 350 employees working on it.
Don't worry, fellas. I'm sure Mayor Creepy and Fireman Pele will come up with something for you right away.
In the meantime, though, it appears that the construction site is going to be idle all summer long -- nothing but a big hole in the ground. Why not put it to a higher and better use?
The Blazers stomped the hated Lakers in Portland last night. An important victory. This leaves three games in Portland's regular season. If it wins all three games, it will have home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs, and perhaps beyond. The Blazers are an especially formidable team at home this year -- Rose City hoops fans are rabid once again -- and so that advantage is real.
At this point, if I am doing my math correctly, the Blazers could, at least theoretically, be as high as a no. 2 seed or as low as a no. 7 seed in the western half of the pro hoops playoff tourney. Seeds 4 and higher have home court in the first round.
But it's a treacherous time to be looking too far ahead. Tonight the Blazers are down in L.A. to face the lowly Clippers. Here's one the Blazers could lose -- a letdown against a terrible team with nothing to play for, and coming for the Blazers on the road, the night after an emotional tussle with the Lakers. The Clippers can't beat Portland; the question is whether Portland can beat itself. L.A.'s Zach Randolph, still a Jail Blazer at heart with his recent drunk driving bust, will return to the court from his latest suspension -- unless a good lap dance comes along.
Monday is another mildly dangerous night for the Blazers, with another lottery team, the Oklahoma City Thunder, coming to Portland. The Blazers should handle them easily -- they've hit a particularly bad patch lately -- but they've got this pesky Kevin Durant guy, and nothing is guaranteed.
The last game is Wednesday night in Portland against Denver. Those gentlemen are the real deal, especially with the steal of Chauncey Billups early this season, and the outcome is a tossup. It's possible, but not likely, that the two teams could be playing for the division title that night, and if that is the case and the Blazers win, they'd be a no. 2 or no. 3 seed (I think).
Looking at the playoffs themselves, of the Blazers' six possible first-round opponents, the teams they should most fear are Denver and Dallas, followed by Houston. If the playoff brackets have Portland facing New Orleans, San Antonio, or Utah, the prospects for Blazer games well into May are bright.
Here's a tip. At the old Taylor Electric site, 240 SE Clay, home of the big fire a couple of years ago, a new 5-story office building for one of the cable/media outfits will start in the next couple of months. ClearChannel I think. Another possible eastside view blocker. Maybe it will be a nice addition. At least it isn't condos.
How come the Atlanta airport has its own catchy jingles and aromatherapy, and the Portland airport doesn't? If the port authority won't do it, then City Hall should. They could pipe in "Let's Live for Today" by the Grass Roots, and pump in some teen intern pheromones.
The Tribpoints out today what readers of this blog have known for some time now: The much debated "12-lane bridge" between Portland and the 'Couv will have only six lanes of actual auto and truck travel as it passes over the water. Which is exactly what the existing interstate bridge has.
Do the people marching around protesting the bridge want there to be fewer through traffic lanes than there are now? What a waste of everyone's time.
While the IRS signed off on the deal, it has subsequently approved a regulation prohibiting such shell games in the future. The regulation applies only to bonds sold on or after October 24, 2008, leaving previously issued bonds for the Yankees project and even newly issued bonds to pay for cost overruns in the clear. (However, the project's alleged use of inflated assessments remains the subject of public debate and congressional hearings.) Going forward, local governments will still be able to use tax-free status for private projects, but only if public benefit is convincingly demonstrated by meeting a more rigorous standard.
When the other users of today's PGE Park are kicked out so that the Timbers get exclusive use of that facility, the public benefit is going to be awfully hard to demonstrate.
The City proposes to enter into a Predevelopment Agreement with Peregrine to split organizational and predevelopment costs in regard to the renovations to the MLS Stadium and the development of the new Triple-A stadium. The City also proposes to enter into an Operating Agreement with Peregrine to operate both PGE Park and the new Triple-A Baseball Stadium.
The award of a Predevelopment Agreement to Peregrine should be exempted from competition requirements of state law and City Code on a sole-source basis because Peregrine is the only entity that holds both franchises, is the only entity that will renovate the MLS Stadium and construct the new Triple-A baseball stadium and is the only entity other than the City that will incur predevelopment costs. To the City’s knowledge, no other entity exists that is willing to split predevelopment costs with the City.
The award of an Operating Agreement to Peregrine should be exempted from competition requirements of state law and City Code on a sole-source basis because Peregrine is the only entity that holds both franchises. In addition, the current Operating Agreement is held by Shortstop LLC. Shortstop LLC and Peregrine operate under similar management and Shortstop is agreeable to a revision of the Operating Agreement and with the assumption of Peregrine in its place therefore making a smooth transition to Peregrine’s new management. In addition, Peregrine would not be interested in making a contribution toward renovation or public improvement costs if it could not also operate both stadiums. Thus, while there are potentially other companies that could operate both Stadiums, there is no other entity that will operate and also make a contribution toward construction costs at both Stadiums.
Meanwhile, the highly suspicious rush-rush nature of the deal churns on, with all sorts of big decisions and commitments being made over a period of a week or two. It's got all the makings of a classic Sam and Randy financial disaster -- Vera couldn't have done it better herself. Go by streetcar!
The farce known as Portland "urban renewal" continues this week with -- I am not making this up -- an "eco-charrette" on this goofball project. They were supposed to build affordable housing somewhere around there, I hear, but apparently that was just a lie made up to get a condo tower or two built.
If you attend the "eco-charrette," please! Go by streetcar. And don't forget to leave your ties to reality at home.
If, like I, you have been watching with amusement as Sarah Palin and her colorful extended family try to keep their baby stories straight, here's a corker. As you may recall, there are two baby boys in the Palin household these days -- Trig, a Down's child born sometime around April 2008; and Tripp, a child born sometime between late December 2008 and mid-February 2009. The official story is that Trig is the son of Sarah and her husband, Todd; and that Tripp is the son of their daughter Bristol and her former boyfriend, Levi Johnston.
This week Levi, his mother (accused of being a drug dealer), and his sister Mercede appeared on the Tyra Banks TV show telling some version of the story, and they supplied the show with a number of photos which were portrayed on the show as being of Levi, Mercede, and Tripp -- the new baby. Here is one of them:
Slight problem: That is a picture of Levi, Mercede, and Trig, taken sometime last spring -- before May 5 -- in Sarah's kitchen. Pictures of the same baby, in the same chair, being held by Mercede, with the exact same hair and clothes, have been circulating since last summer -- long before Tripp was born. This particular photo from that session, with Levi present, have never been seen by the public before now.
Why would the Johnstons deliberately display this nearly year-old picture to the TV-viewing public in a package with recent photos of the other baby? Just one more way -- and there are too many to count -- in which the official story doesn't add up. (Not to mention why the Palins would let their daughter's teen boyfriend and his sister snuggle up so closely for the camera with their very newborn special-needs son.) The Trig truthers are all over the latest oddity, here.
As for the Banks interview itself, I had to turn it off after a while. My personal lie detector was screaming so loud it was going to wake the neighbors.
Whatever one may think of Tri-Met's spendy light rail line to Milwaukie ("All aboard for... Milwaukie?"), there's one thing for sure: It ain't gonna create no 12,300 jobs.
It's fun to watch the fake numbers go up with every boondoggle, though. Remember the 5,000 biotech jobs that were coming to the SoWhat District? Then it was 10,000. Quite humorous. Now we're up to 12,300. Fun with numbers.
But hey, the construction companies and the unions must be fed -- in Portland, as it is on "The Sopranos." And so ever onward we go -- by streetcar!
If the Blazers win in Houston this evening, or if Phoenix loses to Dallas this afternoon, the Blazers will make the pro basketball playoffs for the first time since the Bob "Nit" Whitsitt era, 2003. Somewhere in the closet we've got a Blazer flag, which has been collecting dust for many years. It could be time to break it out and fly it in front of the house.
We had a great time at Portland's Sunday Parkways shindig at Peninsula Park in NoPo last June. It appears there will be three of these events this summer -- in north, northeast, and southeast. The dates and the routes are are set, and you can read all about them here.
Leaving aside all the "Just like Bogotá" hype and the gushing praise for Mayor Creepy, the event is a lot of fun, and really quite harmless. If we're in town, we'll be there.
For years we've tried to provide good music to our readers with Radio Bojack. (If you haven't clicked in a while, try it again sometime -- the mix has gotten a lot richer lately.) Meanwhile, an alert reader sends along a link to fine oldies radio station in Barrow, Alaska, much along the same lines.
Best wishes to Blazer all-time great and current assistant coach Maurice Lucas, who's recovering from surgery. Luke is a regular guy -- remind me to tell you my "brush with greatness" moment with him from the late '70s -- and he was a sweet ballplayer in his day. His presence on the Blazer bench is valued, and it will be missed for the rest of the season.
There's quite an ugly little mess developing around "urban renewal" in Rainier, Oregon (home of the Trojan nuclear waste dump). The redevelopment agency up there is reportedly in default on a loan, and a lawsuit is now flying against Portland attorneys and a Portland consultant who were involved in putting the deal together.
You know "urban renewal" is out of control when it creates a crisis in a place like Rainier, where there was no "urb" to "renew" to begin with. It's past time for the legislature and the courts to clean up the cities' acts for them.
Nothing gets our b.s. meter heated up faster than a mailer from the City of Portland or the Port of Portland. So imagine how off the charts it went when we recently got this one -- a joint mailer from both!
Oh boy, another "important discussion." We missed it. But what's it really about?
Hey, this is the Port of Portland talking. No surprise: The "plan" is to cut down those trees, chase away the wildlife, and install some more cranes to sit idle waiting for new shipments of cars that no one can sell at the moment. Or hey, how about another Ikea? And don't overlook the condo possibilities!
"Green, sustainable" Portland -- the word "hypocrisy" gets tossed around on the internet far too frequently, but in this case, it fits pretty well.
While Fireman Pele dominates the headlines with his pet projects, an alert reader reminds us of a provision of the Oregon Constitution that on its face would seemingly throw a monkey wrench into some of his Euro-visions. It reads (with emphasis added):
ARTICLE XI CORPORATIONS AND INTERNAL IMPROVEMENTS
Section 9. Limitations on powers of county or city to assist corporations. No county, city, town or other municipal corporation, by vote of its citizens, or otherwise, shall become a stockholder in any joint company, corporation or association, whatever, or raise money for, or loan its credit to, or in aid of, any such company, corporation or association. Provided, that any municipal corporation designated as a port under any general or special law of the state of Oregon, may be empowered by statute to raise money and expend the same in the form of a bonus to aid in establishing water transportation lines between such port and any other domestic or foreign port or ports, and to aid in establishing water transportation lines on the interior rivers of this state, or on the rivers between Washington and Oregon, or on the rivers of Washington and Idaho reached by navigation from Oregon’s rivers; any debts of a municipality to raise money created for the aforesaid purpose shall be incurred only on approval of a majority of those voting on the question, and shall not, either singly or in the aggregate, with previous debts and liabilities incurred for that purpose, exceed one per cent of the assessed valuation of all property in the municipality. [Constitution of 1859; Amendment proposed by S.J.R. 13, 1917, and adopted by the people June 4, 1917]
As they scratch around for more public money to pay for the soccer stadiums and other boondoggles, do the city commissioners ever stop to consider this law?
Balboa, Rose of Grenache 2015
Ontañón, Rioja Reserva 2015
Three Horse Ranch, Pinot Gris 2014
Archery Summit, Vireton Pinot Gris 2014
Nelms Road, Merlot 2013
Chateau Ste. Michelle, Pinot Gris 2014
Conn Creek, Cabernet, Napa 2012
Conn Creek, Cabernet, Napa 2013
Villa Maria, Sauvignon Blanc 2015
G3, Cabernet 2013
Chateau Smith, Cabernet, Washington State 2014
Abacela, Vintner's Blend #16
Willamette Valley, Rose of Pinot Noir, Whole Clusters 2015
Albero, Bobal Rose 2015
Ca' del Baio Barbaresco Valgrande 2012
Goodfellow, Reserve Pinot Gris, Clover 2014
Lugana, San Benedetto 2014
Wente, Cabernet, Charles Wetmore 2011
La Espera, Cabernet 2011
King Estate, Pinot Gris 2015
Adelsheim, Pinot Gris 2015
Trader Joe's, Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley 2015
La Vite Lucente, Toscana Red 2013
St. Francis, Cabernet, Sonoma 2013
Kendall-Jackson, Pinot Noir, California 2013
Beaulieu, Cabernet, Napa Valley 2013
Erath, Pinot Noir, Estate Selection 2012
Abbot's Table, Columbia Valley 2014
Intrinsic, Cabernet 2014
Oyster Bay, Pinot Noir 2010
Occhipinti, SP68 Bianco 2014
Layer Cake, Shiraz 2013
Desert Wind, Ruah 2011
WillaKenzie, Pinot Gris 2014
Abacela, Fiesta Tempranillo 2013
Des Amis, Rose 2014
Dunham, Trautina 2012
RoxyAnn, Claret 2012
Del Ri, Claret 2012
Stoppa, Emilia, Red 2004
Primarius, Pinot Noir 2013
Domaines Bunan, Bandol Rose 2015
Albero, Bobal Rose 2015
Deer Creek, Pinot Gris 2015
Beaulieu, Rutherford Cabernet 2013
Archery Summit, Vireton Pinot Gris 2014
King Estate, Pinot Gris, Backbone 2014
Oberon, Napa Cabernet 2013
Apaltagua, Envero Carmenere Gran Reserva 2013
Chateau des Arnauds, Cuvee des Capucins 2012
Nine Hats, Red 2013
Benziger, Cabernet, Sonoma 2012
Roxy Ann, Claret 2012
Januik, Merlot 2012
Conundrum, White 2013
St. Francis, Sonoma Cabernet 2012
Villa Antinori, Toscana 2012
Decoy, Cabernet, Sonoma 2013
Marqués de Murrieta, Reserva Rioja 2010
Kendall-Jackson, Grand Reserve Cabernet 2009
Seven Hills, Merlot 2013
Los Vascos, Grande Reserve Cabernet 2011
Abbot's Table, Columbia Valley 2014
Forlorn Hope, St. Laurent, Ost-Intrigen 2013
Upper Five, Tempranillo 2010 and 2012
The Four Graces, Pinot Gris 2015
Topsail, Syrah 2013
Jim Barry, The Lodge Hill Shiraz 2013
Robert Mondavi, Cabernet, Napa Valley 2012
Adelsheim, Pinot Gris 2014
Boomtown, Cabernet 2013
Boulay, Sauvignon Blanc 2014
Domaine de Durban Muscat 2011
Patricia Green, Estate Pinot Noir 2012
Crios, Cabernet, Mendoza 2011
WillaKenzie, Pinot Gris 2014
Dehesa la Granja, Tempranillo 2008
Abacela, Vintner's Blend #15
Selvapiana, Chianti Ruffina 2012
Joseph Carr, Cabernet 2012
Prendo, Pinot Grigio, Vigneti Delle Dolomiti 2014
Joel Gott, Oregon Pinot Gris 2014
Otazu, Red 2010
Chehalem, Pinot Gris, Three Vineyards 2013
Wente, Merlot, Sandstone 2011
Abacela, Fiesta Tempranillo 2012
Monmousseau, Vouvray 2014
Duriguttti, Malbec 2013
Ruby, Pinot Noir 2012
Castellare, Chianti 2013
Lugana, San Benedetto 2013
Canoe Ridge, Cabernet, Horse Heaven Hills 2011
Arcangelo, Negroamaro Rosato
Vale do Bomfim, Douro 2012
Portuga, Branco 2013
Taylor Fladgate, Late Bottled Vintage Porto 2009
Pete's Mountain, Pinot Noir, Kristina's Reserve 2010
Rodney Strong, Cabernet, Sonoma 2012
Bookwalter, Subplot No. 28, 2012
Coppola, Sofia, Rose 2014
Kirkland, Napa Cabernet 2012
Trader Joe's Grand Reserve, Napa Meritage 2011
Kramer, Chardonnay Estate 2012
Forlorn Hope, Que Saudade 2013
Ramos, Premium Tinto, Alentejano 2012
Trader Joe's Grand Reserve, Rutherford Cabernet 2012
Bottego Vinaia, Pinot Grigio Trentino 2013
Villa Antinori, Toscana 2011
Pete's Mountain, Elijah's Reserve Cabernet, 2007
Beaulieu, George Latour Cabernet 1998
The Occasional Book
Norm Macdonald - Based on a True Story
Christopher Buckley - Boomsday
Ryan Holiday - The Obstacle is the Way
Ruth Sepetys - Between Shades of Gray
Richard Adams - Watership Down
Claire Vaye Watkins - Gold Fame Citrus
Markus Zusak - I am the Messenger
Anthony Doerr - All the Light We Cannot See
James Joyce - Dubliners
Cheryl Strayed - Torch
William Golding - Lord of the Flies
Saul Bellow - Mister Sammler's Planet
Phil Stanford - White House Call Girl
John Kaplan & Jon R. Waltz - The Trial of Jack Ruby
Kent Haruf - Eventide
David Halberstam - Summer of '49
Norman Mailer - The Naked and the Dead
Maria Dermoȗt - The Ten Thousand Things
William Faulkner - As I Lay Dying
Markus Zusak - The Book Thief
Christopher Buckley - Thank You for Smoking
William Shakespeare - Othello
Joseph Conrad - Heart of Darkness
Bill Bryson - A Short History of Nearly Everything
Cheryl Strayed - Tiny Beautiful Things
Sara Varon - Bake Sale
Stephen King - 11/22/63
Paul Goldstein - Errors and Omissions
Mark Twain - A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
Steve Martin - Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life
Beverly Cleary - A Girl from Yamhill, a Memoir
Kent Haruf - Plainsong
Hope Larson - A Wrinkle in Time, the Graphic Novel
Rudyard Kipling - Kim
Peter Ames Carlin - Bruce
Fran Cannon Slayton - When the Whistle Blows
Neil Young - Waging Heavy Peace
Mark Bego - Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul (2012 ed.)
Jenny Lawson - Let's Pretend This Never Happened
J.D. Salinger - Franny and Zooey
Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol
Timothy Egan - The Big Burn
Deborah Eisenberg - Transactions in a Foreign Currency
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. - Slaughterhouse Five
Kathryn Lance - Pandora's Genes
Cheryl Strayed - Wild
Fyodor Dostoyevsky - The Brothers Karamazov
Jack London - The House of Pride, and Other Tales of Hawaii
Jack Walker - The Extraordinary Rendition of Vincent Dellamaria
Colum McCann - Let the Great World Spin
Niccolò Machiavelli - The Prince
Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird
Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus - The Nanny Diaries
Brian Selznick - The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Sharon Creech - Walk Two Moons
Keith Richards - Life
F. Sionil Jose - Dusk
Natalie Babbitt - Tuck Everlasting
Justin Halpern - S#*t My Dad Says
Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
Barry Glassner - The Gospel of Food
Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
Jesse Katz - The Opposite Field
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice
Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Mitch Albom - Have a Little Faith
C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt
Miles run year to date: 3
At this date last year: 0
Total run in 2016: 155
In 2015: 271
In 2014: 401
In 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269