|For old times' sake|
The bojack bumper sticker -- only $1.50!
To order, click here.
Or so it appeared out in Hillsdale yesterday.
Remember the story that your parents used to tell you about what America stands for? I love my country, but after reading this kind of report week after week, in good conscience I've got to tell my kids a different version.
Peter Apanel -- a Portlander who likes the Paulson stadium deal even less than we do -- has been complaining by e-mail to whoever will listen that the commissioner of "major league" (by U.S. standards) soccer knowingly misled the city late last year in his sales pitch for a soccer-centric stadium. Apanel has noted that the commissioner was saying that his league would not expand beyond 18 teams in the foreseeable future, and so that if Portland didn't agree to the PGE Park renovation right away, its chances of having a franchise here were slim to none. But in fact, Apanel notes, the league is planning to expand to at least 20, and possibly 21, teams within three years. And Garber reportedly knew that when he spoke in Portland.
Yesterday I found an interesting bit of video on the city's website. It's from the first soccer task force meeting, held on December 9, 2008.Apanel also sends along a couple of links from Canadian bloggers who howled back in December that Garber was not being candid. They are here and here. Be advised: Some of the language there is a little salty.
At 26:30, Merritt Paulson states, "If we miss the opportunity this round, it's unlikely Major League Soccer will ever come to Portland, given the league's goal of capping expansion."
Then, beginning at 37:30, and ending at 39:00, there's a discussion in which one member of the task force asks MLS Commissioner Don Garber why MLS has a cap set at 18 teams.
Garber replies that FIFA, MLS's governing body, has a "mandate" throughout the world which limits leagues to 18 teams. Garber goes on to suggest that an 18-team cap is really just focused on European leagues, implying that MLS might someday expand beyond 18 teams.
But then Garber adds, "We believe our success has been driven by a slow, strategic, careful plan." He then refers to the dangers of over-expansion, and says that MLS owners are focused on finding the right size. Garber says, "We believe that size is 18. Who knows what it will be 10 or 20 years from now? But for the next round it will be 18 -- limited to that for awhile."
Well, here it is, just seven months later, and look at where things now stand.
It turns out that the New York Times, on November 18, 2008 (three weeks before that first soccer task force meeting), quoted Garber as saying, "We'll have two new teams in 2011, and we'd like to add two more sometime thereafter, but there's no timetable."
Then on March 18 (two days before Garber announced that Portland had been selected as the 18th MLS franchise), Garber announced that MLS will be expanding to 20 teams in 2012.
But then on May 7, Garber announced that negotiations were being held with Montreal for that city to get an MLS franchise by as early as 2011.
So, what's going on here? It looks like everything that Garber said on that video in December was part of a bait-and-switch strategy aimed at pressuring the city into approving a deal.
The city council needs to start asking some hard questions about the credibility of Garber, and stability of Major League Soccer.
Oregon may have just increased income taxes on the wealthy, but Hawaii's going in a different direction. They're taxing all gambling winnings, with no deduction for gambling losses, even those incurred on the very same day as the winnings. This is the kind of thing that Senator Packwood used to call "tax simplification."
Here's a whole higher level of flop, from Florida.
Meanwhile, over in the Hollywood district of Portland, there was some sort of strike going on yesterday outside the new Soviet condo bunker at 43rd and Sandy. A reader wrote:
There is picket line with about 20 folks in front of the new Whole Foods Condo Trap at 43rd and Sandy. Its fun too because these folks have chants,signs and the whole nine yards, at least went I went by. Don't recognize the trade that's out -- traffic was too much to catch it. Sorry, I didn't have time to get a pic either.Anyone know what that one's about?
It's Joe Weston.
An errand run today revealed:
1. Our local liquor store doesn't open until 11:30.
2. When it's hot, people in Portland think you're supposed to drive slow.
Portland isn't the only city that's being fleeced for "major league" soccer. Back in Chester, Pennsylvania, they really fell for the high-pressure sales pitch from the boys of futbol -- something like $87 million of public money has been thrown into a new stadium.
And Portlanders will love this -- the stadium is supposed to be a "linchpin" of economic development! Economic development that, funny thing, isn't happening. The whole story (with the usual chorus of bleats in the comments section from the drunken frat boys in scarves) is here.
Way to go, Portland -- we may be dumber than Petaluma, California, but we're only half as stupid as Chester, Pennsylvania.
Extremes of weather are not friendly to attendance at the Portland Beavers baseball games. Here was last night's crowd at PGE Park -- officially announced as 2,907, but hey, come on, it's more like 1,500:
At 47 game dates into the season, the Beavers' announced attendance averages 4,942 per regular season game (counting their one doubleheader as a single game, thus increasing the average slightly). Some of the Beaver faithful who wrote in to this blog in the spring swore that average attendance would be 5,500 per game, come hell or high water. But with the season ending on Labor Day and 23 games left, it's hard to see that happening. They'd have to average 6,639 per game the rest of the way out. So far this season (not counting the all-star game), the Beavers have drawn that number only eight times.
And of course, the actual number of people showing up at the stadium and spending money is always less -- and usually far less -- than the official number. We'd estimate actual attendance so far at about 3,700 per game, if that. Maybe Goldman Sachs will do better in Beaverton.
Meanwhile, the mayor of of that suburb is prattling on in the paper about "the art of the deal." Little lamb, who made thee?
All systems are definitely not go in the municipal empire known as Portlandia. The air conditioning at the Southwest Community Center (site of the pool about which we posted just the other day, here) was disabled the other night by a power surge. And yesterday the elevator in the Portland Building was out, at least for a while. Meanwhile, the City Council seemed a bit dim at its Wednesday meeting.
We stopped at the 7-11 today to cool the kids off with slurpies, and got this in change:
A reader sends along a photo of a critter that he says he spied on the foundation of a house in Portland yesterday. According to said reader, the thing's about two inches long:
Anybody know what it is? And is it good, bad, or indifferent?
A couple of readers have pointed us to this story, which (no disrespect meant toward said readers) is not news to anyone who's been paying attention. When the politicians are telling you how many thousands of jobs they're creating, you must keep in mind that many are short-term work assignments, not long-term employment positions. It's the same thing as when they tell you that a new streetcar is going to stimulate (or has stimulated) billions of dollars in investment somewhere. Namely, it's bunk. Fortunately, it's such obvious bunk that even the Associated Press catches on.
"If she can't have me, then she can't have the fish."
You've gotta hand it to Commissioner Fritz -- she's not afraid to say no to Fireman Randy. First she helped kill his Lents stadium fantasies, and now she's derailed his plans for a filtration system for the Bull Run water supply. Even when the recall saga is over, there will still be plenty of soap opera action at City Hall.
A Portland State prof makes a splash with a wonderful international project.
I am so glad that my time as a cigarette smoker was a short one -- around four years in my teens. Started with Marlboros -- doesn't everyone? -- then moved on to Larks and Winstons, finally settling on L&Ms. (Kools were too scary, but everybody knew somebody who smoked them.) After a while, I could feel them wrecking my lungs, and it scared me enough to stop. I flirted a little with them again in my mid-20s, but they've been gone since then. Nowadays, even the occasional small cigar makes me a little ill.
Recently, the passage of laws forbidding smoking in public places has resulted in some of worst dive bars becoming tolerable again, without the smoke. Cheap hootch by the drink and slot machines -- now, there's a different kind of hazard.
Anyway, an alert reader points out that a new, "fire-safe" type of cigarette is being foisted on the puffing public, by governmental mandate, and the new smokes are not going over well with the addicted consumers. Sympathy seems highly unlikely to be forthcoming.
It's pretty clear that if Senator Ron Wyden (R-N.Y.) has his way, the health insurance company executives' eight-figure annual compensation packages will be safe and sound. In response to a constituent's letter urging him to back the "public option" plan being championed by the White House and many (if not most) mainstream Democrats, Wyden's form letter machine wrote yesterday:
I have clearly stated, and want you to know, that I am very open to a national public option if accompanied by real, comprehensive health reform, and if the underlying legislation is responsibly and sustainably financed.In reaction to which, the constituent writes us:
You may also be interested to know that my bill, the Healthy Americans Act, S.391, not only allows a public option in states that want one, but also requires a public option if a state doesn't have at least two health plans offering everyone benefits just like members of Congress have today. This will ensure that all Americans have high quality and affordable coverage.
In addition, the Healthy Americans Act provides universal, affordable, guaranteed coverage that can never be taken away. Individuals would get a choice of health plans with benefits just like Members of Congress have now. Insurance companies would be prohibited from charging you more if you are sick or older, nor could they refuse to provide you health coverage if you have a pre-existing condition. Health insurance would no longer need to be tied to where you work. Individuals can keep the coverage they have or can purchase coverage through statewide or regional agencies called Health Help Agencies. Individuals and families who aren’t able to pay the full cost of health insurance would be subsidized on a sliding scale to help assure that their health care coverage will be affordable and every bit the equal of those more financially-fortunate.
I read the position paper on his website about the bill he refers to -- I told him it sounded like it was written by the PR folks at a health insurer.... His "support" for a public option in health care comes with a lot of caveats that make me think he really doesn't care that much about it. He's laying the groundwork for public statements to people like me that, "Hey, we really tried but we couldn't let the perfect be the enemy of the good" when real reform fails, while behind closed doors, he and others like him quietly declare their fealty to the insurance companies that really control health care in this country.It sure seems that way to us, too.
A one-way plane ticket out of there.
With all the hard feelings over the Chávez Boulevard renaming, I'm glad to see that one of the downtown Portland streets has been renamed in memory of another fallen civil rights leader, without a lot of controversy:
On 15th, next to Peet's, where the old stationery and gift shop used to be:
The menu looks all vegetarian.
Forever finding new ways to smell bad. On a hot day, you can't beat this.
The second quarter report of locally owned OnPoint Community Credit Union shows a pretty good quarter for that institution, after several lackluster quarters in a row. Perhaps this is a sign that the local economy has stopped sliding so fast after a half-year of freefall. Here are the categories of OnPoint numbers that we've been following with our untrained eye over the past year or so. They all improved over the quarter, except for two: the amount of loans in bankruptcy and the ratio of delinquent loans to total loans. Particularly interesting is a huge jump in the book value of the institution's investments:
|Item||6/30/08||3/31/09||6/30/09||Quarterly increase (decrease)||12-month increase (decrease)|
|Federal agency securities||$153,595,595||$124,075,055||$274,981,426||121.63%||79.03%|
|Total reportable delinquency - total delinquent loans||$9,944,789||$27,041,586||$26,526,766||(1.90%)||166.74%|
|Total reportable delinquency - indirect lending||$3,736,341||$8,725,911||$5,096,962||(41.59%)||36.42%|
|Total outstanding loan balances subject to bankruptcies||$6,218,843||$4,978,864||$13,911,518||179.41%||123.70%|
|Ratio of delinquent loans to total loans (percent)||0.45||1.22||1.23|
|Ratio of total delinquent loans to net worth (percent)||4.09||11.59||10.67|
Year-to-date net income through the quarter ended June 30 was $18,586,772, up 83.30% from the same quarter last year ($10,139,886). Deposits rose for the second consecutive quarter, from $2,321,865,874 to $2,411,602,745 -- a 3.86% increase. Deposits a year earlier were $2,278,482,461, and thus for the 12-month period, deposits were up 5.84%.
Where just saying your name can be seen as asking for trouble.
Senator Dodd sure knows how to go to the bank with corporate money.
One of the things that the drug manufacturers do that drives us nuts is advertise prescription drugs on television. It's inappropriate for kids, expensive, disruptive of the doctor-patient relationship, and just generally gross. We're all pretty tired of hearing what to do if our erection lasts for more than four hours.
Now some of the folks on Capitol Hill who are seeking to reform health insurance and health care delivery are taking aim at this practice, threatening to cut off the tax deduction for the enormous expense of these ads. If such a provision of law is ever enacted, the lawyers will have a field day fighting over whether it's constitutional. But sometimes you have to risk being sued in order to do the right thing. This is one of those times.
We've been having some interesting moments on the technical side over the last few hours. Thank goodness for our ace web guru, Jake Ortman, who knows what to do when the gremlins strike. With any luck, we're being restored to full functionality as this is being posted. If not, please be patient.
You just know some of them are going to think it's Caesar Salad Boulevard.
One conservative blogger suggests having the Golden State copy the government employee pension reforms that Oregon adopted several years ago. They ought to hire Greg Macpherson as a consultant on that one. They also may want to have job counselors on hand for the leadership in the State Assembly who would spearhead such a move.
Lately we've been lamenting how the City of Portland has in its employ a virtual army of public relations types -- at least one for every politician, it seems, and multiple flacks for every bureau. As if that weren't extravagant enough, it gets even crazier when the hired mouthpieces aren't up to the task of selling what the bureaucracy is offering, and they have to run out and hire outside consultants for marketing.
That's what Sustainable Susan and the folks in the city's legion of planners are about to do. Here's the notice that they're about to award a $40,000 contract for someone to come up with "market research and strategic marketing communications" for an upcoming city publicity push that would include "a multi-year waste prevention campaign [and] messaging to integrate and connect climate change to [the Bureau of Planning and Sustaniability's] residential programs." The successful bidder will also be asked to "[t]est effectiveness of current program collateral."
The full request for bids is here.
With all the spin doctors already on the city pad, do we really need to drop another 400 Benjamins on this?
It's Whole Foods.
The past week has brought to our attention a fair amount of rumbling about the City of Portland's next moves regarding the federal government's insistence that the city do something to prevent the invasion of the parasite cryptosporidium into its water supply. There hasn't been even a trace of that particular bug in Portland's water in years, but rules are rules, and the EPA apparently isn't going to let the city take any chances.
So what to do about it? The city says that it's trying to jawbone the feds into giving it an exemption -- if the EPA won't grant one, then maybe Congress can legislate one -- but that it can't sit around waiting for that to happen. And so it's going to start spending many, many millions of dollars building a system to prevent the parasite from showing up in the water.
Fireman Randy, who runs the water bureau when he's not designing neon signs and outdoor toilets, has (shall we say) expressed a clear preference for a filtration plant. And an upcoming City Council resolution that he's introducing directs the Water Bureau "to engage immediately in the necessary planning, design, budgeting, permitting and land acquisition and any other activities necessary to prepare for the construction of a direct filtration facility." Once we're talking land acquisition, we're way down the road toward building the plant. And like so many of the lovable things the good fireman does, this has got a whole bunch of people crying foul.
Among these, as we noted the other day, are the Widmer Brothers, who say filtration will wreck their beers, which are brewed with Portland water. But the sibling sultans of suds are only the tip of the ticked-off iceberg. Lots of other voices are piping up with other concerns. One correspondent of ours writes:
Filtration is another construction industry boondoggle at taxpayers' and ratepayers' expense. The filtration plant will allow Portland to force people to drink Willamette and Tualatin River water -- though full of PPCPs [pharmaceuticals and personal care products], ag runoff, ag livestock drugs & hormones, petroleum road-slick runoff, anthropogenic radionuclides, etc.A comment on OregonLive echoes these concerns:
The filtration plant will also allow the Portland metro area to continue to exceed its carrying capacity, population-wise. Portland needs to stay away from using urban/suburban corridor surface waters for drinking. They're messing with a good thing.
At the PURB meeting on June 23, Water Bureau officials lobbied for their filtration plant dreams, citing "other" benefits to the Bureau’s bottom line. They openly discussed how the filtration plant would allow for the creation of a blend center, at which water from the Willamette and Columbia Rivers could be mixed into our drinking water system. Once we mix Willamette or Columbia River water with our drinking water, we too will drink the fertilizers my neighbor dumps on his lawn, and the pharmaceuticals he dumps in his body, and a whole host of other "trace" chemicals the 21st century adds to surface and sewer water but doesn’t filter out before drinking it, again. There they will be, mixed and blended with our pristine, organic Bull Run water, thereby permanently adulterating its purity with Teflon and acetaminophen.The whole "drink the Willamette" issue isn't as far-fetched as one might think. Some suburbs of Portland are already drinking that slop because hey! It's filtered! All the bad stuff magically goes away. Once Portland's got filtration in place, all water will be the same!
Maybe then the Erik Sten pipedream of turning the Bull Run watershed over to a regional water authority, dominated by suburban interests, can become a reality. It will be another Metro or Tri-Met or Port, an area-wide yada-yada. And who knows what Portlanders will get out of their taps, and at what price, under that sort of setup.
Some critics suggest that the city ought to fight the feds tooth and nail and see if they will truly force the issue. The city dragged its feet for years as it polluted the heck out of the Willamette; why fall into line so complacently when there's no harm being done by the status quo? Could it be that project-hungry bureaucrats and construction pork are once again driving the public process in the Rose City? "I will not put Portland citizens in the untenable position of being subjected to fines and even a potential federal take over of our water system if we refuse to comply with federal law," Fireman Randy has written. This is a guy who huffs and puffs when it suits him; now he's playing Mr. Peepers. If the federal government wants to fight the parasite, maybe it could contract it out and pay for it.
Among the opponents of the filtration plant are the Friends of the Reservoirs, those noble folks who shamed the city out of covering its open reservoirs a few years back. Unless the city beats back the feds, it's pretty clear that the reservoirs are going to be either covered or disconnected. If left uncovered, they might have water in them -- at least for a while -- but it will be strictly for decoration. And then how long will it be before they're regarded as an unnecessary expense and converted to some "higher" use? And so that crowd is obviously going to be unhappy with anything short of a federal exemption.
Perhaps the best argument against the filtration scenario is that ultraviolet radiation treatment, which is apparently much cheaper, will be enough to satisfy the EPA without messing with the beer or opening up the slop mixer. The liars' budgets on the two types of plant are currently reported as $385 million for filtration, and "only" $120 million for ultraviolet treatment. San Francisco's currently embarking on the ultraviolet route.
In any event, the matter is on the agenda for Wednesday's Portland City Council meeting, and the opponents, although somewhat weakened in numbers by summer vacations, say they'll be there to express their concerns. Once upon a time Nick Fish, now a city commissioner, opposed filtration, but the Sam-Rand set is probably making his life miserable after he gave Little Lord Paulson only half a loaf. A flipflop could be in the offing. Could make for another interesting meeting.
It's hard to believe that the Southwest Community Center in Gabriel Park in Portland is 10 years old already. But that's what the intertubes remind us. That, and the fact that they have to replaster the pool already.
Remember when the Buckman Pool needed work and the city closed it for a year or so because there was no money? Funny, we didn't hear any threat like that on this one.
Merkley to Bernanke: "You scare me."
The national unemployment rate has risen to 9.5 percent, the highest level in more than a quarter-century. Yet it still excludes all those who have given up looking for a job and those part-time workers who want to be working full time.
Include them — as the Labor Department does when calculating its broadest measure of the job market — and the rate reached 23.5 percent in Oregon this spring, according to a New York Times analysis of state-by-state data. It was 21.5 percent in both Michigan and Rhode Island and 20.3 percent in California. In Tennessee, Nevada and several other states that have relied heavily on manufacturing or housing, the rate was just under 20 percent this spring and may have since surpassed it.
Here's a media acquisition that is not going well.
As we're waking up to the important national debate on health care, it's important to note that the action isn't all innocent little coffee klatsches with Howard Dean and some adoring hippies and polite senior citizens. There is also some serious lobbying going on, even by Washington standards. Take the drug manufacturers, for example:
In those three months, PhRMA spent just over $6 million, which breaks down to about $2 million a month.Wonder why the overwhelmingly Democratic federal government can't get health care reform done in a straightforward manner? The answer can largely be found in the nonpartisan nature of money.
But the reports filed by the companies that belong to PhRMA reveal that during this same period, all but a few of them were running their own lobby shops as well. The drugmaker Pfizer alone spent $5.5 million. Amgen, Eli Lilly and GlaxoSmithKline spent about $3 million each.
Add it all up and you get this: In those three critical months, PhRMA and its member companies spent $40 million lobbying Congress. That's more than $3 million each week.
... stays at the soccer game.
Another example of the Pearl District sucking the life right out of downtown:
FPS missed its monthly mortgage payment due July 10, New York Life alleges. Twelve days later, the insurance company filed the lawsuit in Multnomah County Circuit Court.There's more to this story than meets the eye, but high-rise real estate in Portland is clearly imploding. No tears shed here.
What factors played into the missed mortgage payment or New York Life's rapid response are unclear. Neither Commonwealth nor New York Life Insurance officials could be reached for comment.
FPS' revenue from the KOIN Center took a hit late last year when Portland law firm Ater Wynne vacated the top 2.5 commercial floors, about 50,000 square feet. Ater Wynne moved to a new office building in the Pearl District.
Yellow-Yellow is even smarter than some humans, about some things.
Here's a pretty amusing, yet also informative, advice column out of the Daily Journal of Commerce:
The CEO of JPMorgan Chase (JPM-$32.92) is a prominent member of the blue blood, Eastern establishment and uses the name of James L. "Jamie" Dimon. The address of Jamie's posh corporate digs is 270 Park Ave. in New York City. You should see it – not even Julius Caesar’s reign could match the reeking opulence, the excessive grandeur and the awesome majesty of Jamie’s office. Even John Alexander Thain, the former CEO of Merrill Lynch, called it the eighth wonder of the world. Last fall, when JPMorgan Chase needed bushels of billions to reinforce its capital accounts, Jamie devised a scheme by which the government used our tax dollars to purchase $25 billion of a new JPMorgan Chase preferred stock. Frankly, Jamie, who in 2008 earned $41 million as CEO, doesn’t give a fig or a ficus about your crummy $25. Posting him a note will have about as much impact as a teardrop in a rainstorm. This Harvard-educated "martini master" is the snake who approved that $25 charge, and he wouldn’t deign to make an exception for a commoner like you. I've received other complaints about JPMorgan Chase’s frivolous charges. I will give you the same advice I gave others: Move your accounts to a competitor and "spread the word." Remember, these are the vipers that strangled consumers with hurtful, villainous credit card charges and fees.As a customer of the old Washington Mutual, I guess we're on notice.
In case you need to read any further before making a pick on that one, you can go here.
Howard Dean was in town today, for a lunchtime gathering at Powell's. It was ostensibly a book signing, but it was obviously a political mission. Dean was here to pitch President Obama's health insurance plan -- a "public option" plan designed to let people who currently have private health insurance keep what they have, but to give them and everyone else the option to be covered by a government plan akin to Medicare.
Dean, who led the Democratic Party to amazing success in the 2006 congressional elections and has been a stalwart asset to the party since then as well, is trying to hold his fellow Democrats' feet to the fire on the medical finance issue. Part of his strategy is to mobilize public support -- to get rank-and-file voters to twist their representatives' arms to do something substantial about the nation's expensive health insurance system, which leaves large segments of the population out in the cold. Hence the book, and the session at Powell's.
It was pretty much a lovefest for Dean, with 200 to 300 people in the crowd in the Pearl Room. A couple of hecklers who disrupted the first few minutes of the event were shown the door, by general acclamation, and then Dean, former governor of Vermont, one-time physician, and current spouse of a primary care doctor, got down to his stump speech and some question-and-answer. Among those asking questions were doctors, long-time activists in the health care wars, dedicated Dean fans (right), and folks who had obviously spent large chunks of time in the clutches of the health care system. After he signed copies of his modest $12.95 paperback for everyone who asked for an autograph, Dean sat down with some Portland bloggers and answered a few more questions. He was a most gracious guest.
We noted earlier today, live from Powell's, that Dean took a soft poke at Sen. Ron Wyden, who has been dragging his feet on the "public option" plan: Dean urged Oregonians to e-mail Wyden to tell him to get with the party program. Here, in no particular order, are some things that Dean added that we found revealing:
· Although pharmaceutical companies are clearly a villain in the piece, Dean & Co. find the health insurance companies to be more harmful agents in the system. Part of the professed goal of the "public option" is to put the government in competition with the private insurers, to make the latter less wasteful and less predatory.
· A pure "single payer" system, which would eliminate the insurance companies entirely, will never fly politically. Although Americans are critical of the health care system, those who have good private insurance now will fight to retain it. As people dislike Congress but always re-elect their own congressional representatives, many people dislike the current health care system but think their own insurance is pretty good. A brilliant aspect of the Obama plan is that it doesn't take private insurance away from anyone lucky enough to be able to get it.
· Private insurance co-ops, which some have proposed, will never survive in competition with the larger health insurance companies. "They'll be crushed," Dean said.
· Imposing stricter governmental regulations on health insurance companies is a good idea -- Dean cited as an example his own state's rules that require the insurers to adopt "guaranteed issue" and "community rating" -- but without government competition against the insurers, reforms are likely to have at most a limited benefit.
· Reforming the finance, or insurance, side of health care is just the first battle. Thereafter will come a fight over needed changes to the health care delivery system itself -- moving away from the traditional fee-for-service model and over to something more akin to the Kaiser model. As long as health care providers make more money on treating you when you're sick than on keeping you healthy, the system is going to produce inferior results. Acknowledging that he's heard some horror stories about Kaiser, Dean still thinks their model of integrated care, from the primary to the tertiary levels, keeps the focus where it should be, on wellness.
· A nice feature of the Obama plan is its endorsement of "comparative effectiveness research," which would eventually lead to making coverage decisions based on which medical procedures work, rather than on practice traditions and biases. This could help nontraditional treatments such as chiropractic and naturopathy to get covered by insurance plans, where they aren't now.
· Although specialist doctors do quite well financially in the current U.S. system, primary care physicians don't make out like bandits. The average primary care doctor in Britain makes more than the average primary care physician in the United States.
· It is highly unlikely that Dean will ever run for President again.
The newest Trail Blazer:
We are at Howard Dean's book signing shindig at Powell's. He was quite polite about it, but he urged the crowd to call Sen. Ron Wyden and urge him to get off the dime and support the "public option" health care reform program.
Our audience with Dean awaits.
UPDATE, 3:38 p.m.: A handful of us bloggers had a nice 15 minutes or so with Dean after the book signing. He's an impressive fellow, to be sure. More tonight.
Homer Williams! Or somebody like that. "Neighbors want to see some quality construction there, he said, and 'not just pack people on top of people.'" As if. Enjoy, people of Lents. You got rid of Little Lord Paulson, but the Parade of Portland Scoundrels is a long one.
The Portland City Council approved the broad outlines of the financing for PGE Park Remodel II yesterday. It's the most preposterous deal you've ever seen, and of course it follows that Mayor Creepy and Fireman Randy are bragging about it. Erik Sten is starting to look like a fiscal conservative by comparison.
Anyway, the O had the good sense to put its best money reporter, Ted Sickinger, on the story, and so they've got a pretty decent read on the deal for a change, here. Here's what one gathers:
1. The city will borrow $11.2 million of the $31 million needed for "Phase One" of the renovation. It will take the city more than 25 years to pay the debt off.
2. Little Lord Paulson and his dad will put up the rest, but as part of the deal, they'll get to use PGE Park rent-free from 2017 to 2033. No doubt they'll be able to sell those rights, and so the city is guaranteed to get no rent for that 16 years, from anyone.
3. Most of the city's share of the renovation cost will ultimately be paid for out of ticket taxes and parking fees imposed on those attending Trail Blazer basketball games in the Rose Garden arena, owned by Paul Allen's companies.
4. If the ticket taxes and parking fees dry up or are otherwise insufficient to pay off the $11.2 million of debt, the city's property taxpayers will pay it off.
5. The debt will be extremely risky, and as a result the interest rate will be astronomical -- the O is talking 9 percent, but no one really knows how high it will be. And the bonds will be no-interest, no-payments for eight years. Gee whiz, you can't even get that kind of deal from the gal at Mattress World. Sound goofy? Well, of course it is.
If you borrow $11.2 million at 9 percent and make no payments for eight years, by the time you start making payments, you owe $22.3 million.
And if the documents track what's been discussed in the past, the city will borrow the money from an entity found by the Paulson family, if no better lender comes along. And so the Paulsons will get the city coming and going. They'll get big-time money from the Blazer fans (or property taxpayers) on the bonds, and they'll pocket lots of ticket sales from Timbers fans, with no rent cost for many years.
6. The city will continue to subsidize the wages of the stadium employees.
PGE Park will no longer be suitable for baseball, leaving soccer and football (and maybe the stray outdoor concert or two) as the only uses for the venue. And you can bet that anyone other than the almighty Timbers will have to get their kneepads on and kiss LLP's ring if they want to use that field.
We can't wait until the Paulsons are collecting sub-rent on the stadium from organizations like Portland State and the high school state football championships, and paying nothing to the city. We're all going to feel really good about that. The year 2017 sounds far in the future, but we're closer to it than we are to the beginning of the millennium, and so we'll be seeing that scenario relatively soon.
Amanda Fritz voted no on this one, but sadly, Nick Fish voted yes. We guess Fish figures that since he earned some financial sanity brownie points by helping to crater the Lents baseball stadium aspect of this fiasco, he can play the construction union side at the same time by going for the remodel aspect. That's the kind of political calculation we used to see from Fireman Randy, before he went all Caesar salad on us. We fear the Nickster will soon be completely over on the dark side. But hey, way to go, Amanda. Sorry we ever doubted you.
The only way this deal will die now is if the city can't sell the goofball bonds that it's going to write to finance it. And again, we're confident that the Paulsons will find a friendly party, or even disguise themselves as a lender, to buy that paper, eventually being paid off at an astronomical profit.
Bottom line on the remodel: The Paulsons and their friends get all the upside, and Blazer fans and the taxpayers take a major share of the downside risk, which is substantial. If you were expecting anything different, you haven't been paying attention. It's TARPortland.
And then there will be "Phase Two" of the renovation. Who knows how much LLP will hold us up for then? And 2025 will roll around, and the Blazers will negotiate their new deal. By that time, we'll be at an age where we can just turn down our hearing aid and act as though we don't understand.
I'm on break.
The gangs in Portland have gone nuts. Eight shootings this week. Wish somebody knew what to do. "It's a coincidence." Yeah, sure. Someone's going to die soon. But hey, "major league" soccer! Neon signs! Go by streetcar!
Apparently it didn't go too well in Ojai, California.
A great tradition of Hudson County, New Jersey -- right across the river of the same name from New York City -- is a periodic roundup of politicians and throwing them in jail for corrupt activity. In my newspaper reporter days, a sweep of this kind had taken place a few years before, and one of the ongoing story lines we covered was which federal prison each of the culprits was in now.
The feds did it again today, with busloads of local officials, and even some rabbis, being hauled into federal court to face serious criminal charges. Among the alleged crimes are taking bribes and campaign contributions from real estate developers in exchange for favorable treatment. You don't say! One of the guys in trouble now had been an adjunct professor in the college I attended. Political Science, of course.
It appears to my untrained eye that there were separate scams going on. Initially there was some kind of money-laundering deal involving the rabbis, but somehow the Hudson County politicians were implicated, and once the FBI started looking at that... well, let's just say that finding bribe-takers in Hudson County is like shooting fish in a barrel. Large, slow fish.
I am so glad I moved to Portland, where human nature does not apply, and there's no need for prosecutions like these because there is no corruption. Meanwhile, back in Jersey City, there's probably some young journalist who's covering these goings-on, and to him or her I say, isn't writing for a living fun?
Burgerville on wheels.
A number of streetcar alignments have been looked at in the past, but the ones that will be included in the study are the Willamette shore line, and two hybrids which mix use of the shore line with Southwest Macadam Avenue in Portland. Hybrid 1 would share the outside lanes of Macadam with cars, while Hybrid 2 would use the outside lanes for a southbound route and construct a separate lane for the northbound streetcar and cars making right turns.You'll never get home.
Oh, those civic-minded Trail Blazers. They invite school groups to come and perform before their games. Wonderful, right? Except that apparently, the Blazers want the schools and the kids to pay for the privilege. A reader sends along this e-mail come-on, which appears to have been written by a Blazer staffer named Mike North:
Would you like to have your group perform in front of thousands of Portland Trail Blazers fans at the Rose Garden? If so, the Trail Blazers have a couple of different opportunities for your school to perform!Wow. And the kids' money goes to pay upstanding stars like Darius Miles. Way to go, Paul Allen.
Performing at the Rose Garden gives your group an unforgettable experience that is second to none and your school exposure to thousands of prospective clients! Below is information about two performance options for your school. If you would like to find out more information or get your school signed up, let me know right away as space is very limited! We will start allocating dates in mid-August after our schedule is released.
Concourse Fan Stage:
* Entertain Trail Blazers fans as they walk around the arena prior to tip-off!
* Perform in the concourse for up to 1 hour, from an hour prior to the Trail Blazers game until the National Anthem!
* Group is required to sell at least 50 tickets or reach a revenue minimum of $900.
* $100 initial payment required to be placed on priority list; group allocation process to begin the week of August 17th.
* Dazzle fans as the Trail Blazers pre-game performance group!
* Perform a 7-minute routine on the Trail Blazers court, 30 minutes before the Trail Blazers game!
* Group is required to sell at least 150 tickets or reach a revenue minimum of $2,700.
* $200 initial payment required to be placed on priority list; group allocation process to begin the week of August 17th.
If you would like to find out more information or get your school signed up, let me know right away as space is very limited! We will start allocating dates in mid-August after our schedule is released and will be taking reservations up until that point.
And it's a great one -- Brian Grant. Most hopeful thing I've heard about Mr. Draft Pick Hoopla yet.
Ladies and gentlemen, you are reading the "stickiest" blog by a law professor anywhere in the country. This and $2 gets me a ride on Tri-Met.
I thought this site might be sticky. Several Portland city commissioners and bureaucrats are always trying to scrape it off their shoe.
The whole family went up to the corner tonight to watch the International Space Station pass over. It was a very cool sight. A hat tip to Matt Zaffino at KGW for alerting his viewers that it was coming. Apparently, there are some more passes coming, in case you missed it, but man, that was a good one.
The recent changes to the Oregon bottle deposit law have already had one predictable side effect: The Whole Foods store in our neighborhood has stopped counting bottles inside the store and has installed the dreaded bottle return machines on the sidewalk outside:
Now that they have to accept deposit containers from every brand of every beverage they sell, too many street people must have been wheeling their shopping carts through the aisles of high-priced goodies for their nickels. So now we get these.
They work fine -- for now. But how long before they break down, and we get to waste time waiting for the standard-issue surly, clueless teenager to show up and sneer at us before he resets them? How long before these contraptions become the usual sticky, smelly nests of contagion? Barring a miracle, it is just a matter of time.
It appears that I may be part of a small group of bloggers who will get a few minutes with Howard Dean on Friday, after his noontime book signing at Powell's. If I get a chance to ask him a question (or two or three), what should it be? (No, not "How about a prescription for some pot for these allergies?")
A reader writes:
Interesting article for you. More distress on the horizon: [link].I think it's a demand issue -- demand is down, and it's not responsive to advertising. But I never spent a day in business school.
One "expert" thinks the USA hotel biz could see a 20% failure rate by late 2010.
Note: There is no turnaround in sight for the biz or leisure travel / tourism. Airline passenger boardings, car rental sales and hotel occupancy continue a downward slide... here in Portland as well as throughout the world. We thought last year was horrible; it just keeps getting worse. Unfortunately, this downward spiral is not getting reported locally.
Perhaps our county, city, Metro and industry leaders should be focusing on how to keep existing hotels open, rather than spending $12 million on engineering plans for a 600-room public-financed hotel [at the Convention Center].
What could they do? Assist hotel properties in lowering costs related to government taxes, fees and more...
What will they do? Probably spend more [money] with Wieden & Kennedy. That is the POVA / OR Tourism mindset. However, any first-year business student will tell you this is not a demand issue.... The folks are just not coming for a year or two... Get used to it, fellas!
This has got it all. Portland taxpayers, keep your wallets out.
The iPhone acquisition continues to push us closer to the brink of geekdom. While we're getting used to new computer-y thingies, we decided to get around to the long overdue task of ditching Windows Mail, the horrible, horrible e-mail program that came with Vista. Oh, the awful stories we could tell, but why bother? The obvious conclusion is that Microsoft products are inferior -- not really news.
We're switching to Thunderbird for e-mail, and its calendar plug-in, Lightning. Lightning hooks up with Google Calendar, which in turn hooks up with the iPhone, which is all kind of neat. It's amazing that our "Take out garbage" entry circles the globe several times by satellite as it travels from our pocket to our computer a few feet away. But just getting that infernal Mail out of our life will be a great relief. Life's too short to use bad programs.
Meanwhile, our older daughter wants the old Palm PDA to fool with. Why not? It does not look like it's going to get much use from Dad any more.
A couple of months ago, in blogging about the impending change of a numbered street (39th Avenue) to a named street (César Chávez Boulevard), we told the story of another Portland eastside street that went the other way -- from a name (Glenn Avenue) to a number (32nd Place) -- around 75 years ago. We ended the discussion by noting that a lot of the corner curbs along the latter street have been, and are still being, changed out for modern wheel-friendly cutouts, and we lamented that all traces of Glenn Avenue would be obliterated when the they tore up the old curbs, in which that name had been stamped.
Not so! The city crews laying the new curbs are preserving the Glenn name. At least they did at the corner of "Glenn" and Wygant, which we passed through the other day as part of our pedestrian detour from the wonderful but somewhat bike-manic Sunday Parkways:
Three cheers for the city crew who preserved that little history lesson at ground level.
For more on the story of a bunch of streets in the Alameda neighborhood, including "Glenn," you can go to this excellent site. But who was Glenn? And for that matter, who was Laura? No one seems to know.
But hey, who says New York is a "major league" town?
As with so many newspapers, deepening financial troubles may have led to the change in control.
You win half the tax burden of the latest version of the Paulson stadiums boondoggle. Linchpin City! Good luck, and give our best regards to Steve Janik.
I suppose this is supposed to get Portlanders up in arms that we're losing a precious asset to the suburbs. Fireman Randy should start huffing and puffing about that any minute now. But hey, we've got "major league" soccer -- who could ask for anything more? I wish we were keeping baseball and losing soccer, but Goldman Sachs says it has to be the other way around. So it goes.
Better get those ugly apartment bunkers slapped up right away.
Marc DiNardo, one of the Jersey City police officers who were shot in last week's shootout, didn't make it. In addition to the connection between the shooting scene and my old workplace, I see now that the deceased went to the same college as I did. And his dad is a retired cop whose name seems awfully familiar. Maybe I knew him in school, or perhaps I interacted with him in my newspaper reporter days.
Here's a photo of the fallen officer drying off after jumping into the filthy Hackensack River to rescue a woman last month. He was at the World Trade Center on 9/11. He had arrested the guy who killed him on a weapons charge seven years ago. He's gone to a better place, but he was needed in a not-so-perfect place. He'll be missed.
For auto tires. Brought to you by OSU. Motto: "You liked the maraschino cherry, you'll love the old-growth radial."
There's a new study out that purports to show how productive state university systems are, in part by comparing how much funding they get (from government and tuitions) with how many degrees and similar credentials they award. Oregon comes in 21st in the nation, while Washington State ranks third. (The money chart, as it were, is on page 20.) [Via TaxProf Blog.]
An alert reader, who spied our interest in the health care reform battle currently taking place in our nation's capital, referred us to this site, which has tons of information about who in the health care industry is contributing how much to whom in Congress. They've got a giant spreadsheet in there showing contributions from the health sector to all current members of Congress (including to their candidate committees and leadership PACs) since 1989.
Here's a goodly part of their tale of the tape on Oregon's congressmen:
Old Gatsby Wyden sure goes to the bank, doesn't he? Meanwhile, poor DeFazio. Apparently, when you can't be bought, they don't pay.
Sebastian Telfair has been traded to the L.A. Clippers. You remember Bassy, the grossly overrated, bad-news point guard who, among other stunts, brought his loaded gun onto the Blazers' team jet, then suddenly realized it was his girlfriend's gun and he should have left it home with her and their newborn infant. It was the first, but not the last, of his gun moments. Anyway, it's unsurprising that his career has wound up where it always seemed to belong, in the NBA graveyard.
I see that my main man Larry is retiring at the the ripe old age of 50. I get a kick out of this guy; he coasted along and survived. Wonder how much of a Powerball jackpot he'll get as he goes out the door.
UPDATE, 7/21, 4:55 a.m.: Oops! Looks like Larry's not the only one leaving. No wonder he's packing it in.
Our post of earlier today about the giant, glossy, earth-insulting advertising insert for the Prius that came with our Sunday paper caught one reader's eye. He sends along the following photo and comment:
Appropos of your recent gripe with Toyota and its outsized (and eco-unfriendly) flyer for its new Prius, here's one from Comcast, which arrived in today's post. What's up with this new steroidical size? Did marketing people all get the same memo commanding them to conjure these carpet-size communiques and litter our inboxes with them? Maybe one of your marketing-type readers will know, but it utterly escapes me.
If Portland taxpayers shell out tens of millions to rip up PGE Park to make it a soccer-specific stadium, they had better hope it can, according to this article:
[A]ttendance is one thing, but MLS has a major TV problem. With average ratings lower than bowling, poker, college volleyball and small conference college basketball and football, the league needs to think TV in the next expansion.More people watch poker and bowling on TV than watch "major league" soccer. That's funny.
The article also sheds some light on the stadium proponents' theory that the Timbers' current league (USL-1) may go out of existence. The story suggests that that league may be restructured, but with some kind of renewed partnership with the "major league":
If MLS does not commit to a NYC-2 franchise, Red Bull must seek an accommodation with the new USL-1 team heading to Long Island next year. That would involve playing a Big Apple Cup competition between the two teams and selling the TV rights, independently of MLS and USL if necessary.Like a merger?
Rumors persist that USL, as a league may undergo some sort of overhaul structurally before the 2010 season begins. With the collective bargaining agreement pending in MLS, it is possible that when 2010 rolls around the two US professional leagues will be willing to renew their partnership, which was broken off earlier this decade or even enter into something more comprehensive.
Finally, the specter of Portland losing its newly awarded "major league" franchise in favor of Montreal or some other city does not seem realistic given the fact that the league is ready to expand as fast as misguided rich folk are willing to put up the money:
After bringing on Philadelphia next season and Portland the year after that, [MLS Commissioner Don Garber] discussed Montreal, Vancouver and St. Louis as prospects, particularly praising the latter as a league priority.Why don't we just tell him he needs to make do with portable stands, and see what he does? If the Paulsons have $35 million to hand him, he's not going anywhere.
Garber convinced no problem with saturating market. And if they stretch the domestic talent too thin, they'll loosen the international rules...
No, wait, I forgot, this is the Portland City Council. The Portland City Council never calls a bluff.
The other shoe has dropped in the dispute between the City of Portland and Wade Nkrumah, the former spokesman to Mayor Creepy, mostly over comments that the mayor made after Nkrumah quit back in January. Nkrumah resigned because he disliked being lied to by his boss; the liar said something to the effect that Nkrumah couldn't handle the pressure of the job.
Now the former employee has sued the city for $162,000 in lost wages and $400,000 for pain and suffering. I don't know about that last part. If you can collect money just because the mayor caused you pain and suffering, I think we're all entitled to a six-figure compensation check from City Hall.
UPDATE, 5:30 p.m.: The full complaint is here. The damage claims stack up as $162,489.60 for the alleged defamation, and another $18,750 to which Nkrumah claims he was entitled because he worked for Adams late in 2008. Added to the $400,000 for pain and suffering, the grand total by our count is $581,239.60.
The lawsuit alleges in part that Nkrumah was wrongfully terminated from employment. Even though he quit, it said, conditions in Adams's employ were so intolerable that a reasonable person would have done so.
Want to increase the number of laps you can swim in a pool? As always, New York has just the thing.
social media is like teen sex. everyone wants to have it; no one knows how to do it; when it's over they say "that's it?!?"
With two and half months to go before the deadline for the anti-Sam Adams movement to collect 50,000 or so signatures calling for a recall petition, they're finally posting some answers to the question that many Portlanders have been asking: Where do I go to sign a petition? There aren't enough places on the list yet, but it's getting there.
It seems that everybody loves the Paulsons as much as I do.
"You’re living in a Whole Foods bubble."
I know the folks at Toyota have nothing but ecological motivations for trying to get me to buy a Prius, but they have a funny way of showing it. Yesterday's Times contained an insert pitching the car -- but not just an insert. This thing unfolded to around 27-by-20 inches, very glossy, in full color:
No sign that it was printed on recycled paper, or using soy inks, or by highly paid union labor. What's up with doing that to the planet, and its downtrodden masses?
The content is equally amusing -- flashy graphics and paragraph after paragraph of psychobabble about "harmony" and the "big questions" facing us.
If I didn't know better, I'd think this was a City of Portland production. Lots of advice about all the PC things we're supposed to do these days. I agree with a lot of what's advised, but it cracks me up that this is coming from a car company. It takes until the bottom quarter of the last slick page to get the pitch in:
Greenwash -- greenwash at every turn. I liked it better when they used sex to sell stuff.
As much as his hired minions try to help him hide here on the home front, Sen. Ron Wyden (R-N.Y.) is taking some much deserved shinola from his Democratic Party base over his startling move to derail health care reform:
Sicko #3: Democrat Ron Wyden of Oregon has raised more than $1.4 million in campaign contributions from the health, insurance, and pharmaceutical industries over the course of his career, averaging almost $300 per day since taking office in February 1996. Comments may be addressed to Senator Wyden via his Senate contact page (Oregon residents only) or by direct e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org (CRP: Ron Wyden).Wyden is the guy who made a bunch of speeches a few years back about how the estate tax ought to be repealed -- even voted for repeal when it was Bush Tax Cut Time. Why Portland loves him so much is about as mystifying as why it wants to give somewhere between $30 million and $80 million to Henry Paulson to prop up his bush league sports empire. Being "progressive" in Oregon apparently means throwing the corporate oppressor class some big bags of bones from time to time -- more often than one might have expected.
In biblical times, the tax collectors were universally hated. These days the home mortgage folks should be getting the same treatment.
We cruised part of the Sunday Parkways in Northeast Portland today, on foot. We had done the same thing a year ago at the inaugural parkways event in North Portland, and back then it was a positively enchanting day. This time around, not so much. Part of it was because the novelty had worn off. But another part, not to be overlooked, is that pedestrians were pretty much relegated to sidewalks and had a hard time crossing the street -- there were that many bicycles. And many, many inexperienced riders, of course -- enough so that a walker couldn't really predict what the folks on wheels were going to do in a tight spot.
Wilshire Park was a fun scene, to be sure. An outfit called Circus Cascadia had a setup where average Joes and Janes got to try their hands at circus stunts -- some easy, some not so. A magician tried to wow some kids with rope tricks -- the parents seemed more impressed. A jug band (with a baby in tow) played along merrily. There was a surfeit of juggling activities. The food carts were completely overwhelmed, but we got the last two samples of the wares of this outfit, which looks intriguing.
Rather than venture back out into the endless river of bikes, we veered off the course and walked around Alberta Street, which was pedestrian-friendly enough on a brilliant summer Sunday afternoon. This place was particularly welcoming. And you can't go wrong here.
Maybe next time we'll take our bikes to Sunday Parkways. Otherwise, we'd rather go for a nice stroll in one of the thousands of other great walking places in Portland. Parkways is a gorgeous event, but it seems it's fast becoming a bike thing. Which is fine, if you're on a bike.
For all the world to see.
Guess how consumer confidence is being measured in the White House these days.
A couple of readers turned me on to this story. All it takes to get medical pot in California is seasonal allergies, insomnia, or anxiety? It seems like legalization by another name. Not that there's anything wrong with that...
Americans enjoy watching the best (fill in any sport). We are elitists. That's why we like the Olympics, that's why we enjoy any finals, that's why we watch Wimbledon and the Masters, that's why we don't care about sports like the WNBA, MLS or arena football as anything other than a niche sport. International soccer plays into this. It's the best of the best....The whole thing is here, and scroll down about halfway.
International soccer never took off here for the simple reason that American sports fans had trouble following anything they couldn't attend in person and/or watch on television at their leisure. Now? We're turning into a sofa culture; since it's more expensive to go to games, many of us find it just as rewarding to stay home, save money and watch games on a nice TV. Throw in the Internet, DirecTV, fan blogs and everything else and you really can follow soccer from across the Atlantic.
That's why, over the next decade -- starting with the World Cup in 2010 -- I predict international soccer takes off to a modest degree in America during the '10s. Not to compare everything to "The Godfather," but for America, the NASL was Sonny (exciting, impetuous and ultimately self-destructive), the MLS is Fredo (weak) and international soccer is Michael (the heavy hitter who was lurking all along).
The whole "fail" thing has already gotten on my nerves. Just to show you how out of it I am, I don't even know where that one started. But I wish it would end.
When I was in college, I was a DJ and announcer on the closed-circuit campus radio station, and I did a fair amount of amateur production work in the school's informal training program for television broadcasting. The fellow who ran the program was a former creative type at CBS, whose world headquarters was just a few miles away across the Hudson River in the Big Apple.
All the equipment we worked with had been donated by CBS as a charitable write-off. The sound board through which we ran the radio station had previously been used to broadcast games on WCBS Radio from Yankee Stadium. Our Crosby Stills Nash & Young albums were played (in mono) through the same circuits that had once hosted Phil Rizzuto shouting "Holy cow!" at Mickey Mantle's latest exploits. I remember the day that our cast-off, lovingly rehabbed Ampex color videotape machine finally "synced up" (or "locked up") and started working. The magnetic tape was two inches wide, and the machine itself was the size of a Volkswagen. We superimposed words on the TV screen by printing them out, mounting them onto metal slides about a yard long, and inserting them into an eight-foot-tall contraption known as a "telop" machine. It was all relatively high tech at the time. (Computers used punch cards and had nothing to do with our operation.)
One night the CBS connection paid off far beyond the hardware realm, as I got a chance to head over to CBS Broadcast Center on the far west side of Manhattan and sit in on a broadcast of the CBS Evening News with Walter Cronkite. The show was sent live into parts of the Eastern and Central Time Zones in those days, and so it was going to be pretty exciting to be in the room with Cronkite and crew as he read the night's top stories.
The Broadcast Center building was nothing like the network headquarters ("Black Rock," the latter was called) on 52nd Street. The Broadcast Center was a low-rise, warehouse affair over near the Hudson River. All brick along the exterior, as I recall, and a fairly serious security set-up at the front door. I drove over, probably in my mom's Dodge Polara, and miraculously found a place to park.
The hype about the Cronkite show was that it was broadcast from the actual newsroom, and that was true. But it was no ordinary newsroom. It was huge, and of course in the middle of it, on a big riser, was the impeccably lit, immaculate, lofty Cronkite throne. I got there a half-hour or more before air time, and the anchor was already in his seat. The rest of the room was a beehive of activity and noise.
I was shown to a seat at an empty desk a few rows back from the main set, with the control room behind me and Cronkite in front of me. I sat there and watched him preparing, ever so calmly. He was in constant communication with the booth through his earpiece and his microphone, and I was far enough away that I couldn't make out most of what was being said. As the start time of the broadcast approached, some additional lights came on, and everyone in the room gradually got quieter and quieter, without a word of coaxing from anyone. There were a few teletype machines chugging way faintly in the rear, but it dawned on me that the clackety-clack background sounds that you heard on TV were piped-in sound effects.
With a couple of minutes to go before the show began, you could hear a pin drop. There were few, if any, announcements to the group from the control room. Everyone knew what to do. I was about jumping out of my skin with excitement, but no one else seemed to be.
Finally, the entire crew assumed their battle stations, and soon thereafter, the stage manager pointed at Cronkite. He commenced to read the news to America and the world in his inimitable stentorian tones. "Good evening." A sublime thing to watch in the flesh.
Now, being a kid from Down Neck Newark, I always had a certain perspective on scenes like this. I couldn't help thinking, If I opened this desk drawer right now, took out a rubber band and shot a paper clip at Walter Cronkite, half the country would see him duck. And I would be expelled from college. So I sat still.
At one of the commercial breaks, after swearing me to be as unobtrusive as I could possibly be, my mentor took me back to the control room to see the show from that perspective. It was not a serene scene in there, to be sure. The director barked out cue after cue, and the technical director -- the guy with his hands on the actual switching equipment that determined which camera, tape machine, or remote feed was beaming out to the audience -- was an absolute bundle of nerves. This was live TV, people. But of course, everything went off without a hitch. It was the CBS Evening News, after all. They could do this in their sleep.
Were those guys smoking cigarettes in the booth? I can't remember. Some of them probably were.
Content-wise, the show is a complete blank to me these 35 to 40 years later. I can't even remember the precise year, although 1971 sounds about right. It was long after JFK, and years after the lunar mission that we're remembering this week (ironic that Walter should depart amidst that hoopla), and it was before Watergate. Probably a slow news night. Certainly Cronkite took whatever he was reporting in that broadcast in easy stride.
I was led back out to my assigned vantage point for the last segment, and when it was over, after telling America "That's the way it is," the main man walked by me with some of the CBS executives in charge of the show. They retired to a little booth to talk about the broadcast, ever so briefly. The boys in the control room would have a chance to tweak a few things for the West Coast tape-delayed version, but on that night, there didn't seem to be anything to mess with. The show was fine, every second of it.
For some reason I am thinking that it was a Friday evening, and that Walter was heading out to Cape Cod and his sailboat immediately after the broadcast. I have no confidence in that recollection, but for some reason it's there. He did seem like a nice guy, albeit a little old, by my standards back then. I will confess that I did not get a handshake.
I always thought that the halo over Cronkite's head was a little overblown. But he was unsurpassed at what he did, and he was part of an extremely capable organization at CBS News. The power that he and that network wielded over the ensuing couple of decades will never be matched by another media outlet. Now that the cable and internet genies are out of their bottles, there will never be another Walter Cronkite. Google has its place, but it will never take down a sitting President of the United States.
It must be something to be the most trusted man in the world, and Cronkite never betrayed that trust. Now it's up to us to ferret out our truths in a different way.
It appears that Senator Ron Wyden (R-N.Y.) is dragging his feet on health care reform.
They're looking for a new U.S. marshal for Portland.
And yet the stadium was nearly three-quarters empty. "We're in a recession so, you know, maybe that's part of it." Maybe.
I don't understand why there's so much artificial turf in Portland. Here we sit just downwind of the grass pollen center of the universe, with just about perfect conditions for growing turf, and yet our sports teams cavort around on plastic. If we have to have eco-roofs on all our public buildings, why don't we have green, climate-change-reversing eco-playing fields -- the kind with, you know, real grass? It seems so obvious.
Then there are all those paved tennis courts, pouring runoff into the sewer system. You're killing salmon with every sweaty serve. Come on, people, real tennis is played on grass.
... he could write several new verses of "Taxman" every month with the latest musings from Earl the Pearl.
It seems as though the people who mint coins in the United States have gone a bit nuts. They saw that we all were capable of handling 50 different backs on our quarters, one for each state (and six more this year for our conquered territories). And so they decided to start making up four new dollar coins a year, one for each President, on top of the Sacagawea dollar coin.
Of course, the multiple dollar coin designs don't phase us, because no one every uses that coin, anyway. But this year, they're messing around with the back of the lowly penny, which since my childhood has always sported a likeness of the Lincoln Memorial (one of my favorite places on earth). For 2009, there are now four different backs to the penny, apparently illustrating different phases of Lincoln's life -- or at least, the storybook version thereof.
The nickel and dime can't be far behind. Maybe a few different nickel backs every year for Jefferson's slaves -- that ought to be a fairly long run.
With all the different versions of our coinage running around these days, it's just a matter of time before we're allowed to design our own money. They already do this with postage stamps, and I'm sure the government could pick up an extra buck or two letting people have cash printed or minted with their own picture on it.
I could just see my own pennies, with four different scenes from my life:
1. Street urchin in Down Neck Newark, 1959-1970.
2. Smart but troubled university student, 1970-1978.
3. Zany law professor, 1986-20__.
4. Cranky blogger, 2002-20__.
One would only hope that the likenesses would not be too realistic.
... after a brief message, of course:
One of my earliest jobs as a kid was as a soda jerk at a placed called Dick's Luncheonette on Bergen Avenue in Jersey City. It was a comical gig -- remind me to tell you about it one of these days.
Just last night I was reminiscing about another feature of that era, here. A few hours after I posted that, all hell broke loose a block or two from the site of the old Dick's. Our prayers go out for everybody involved.
Pro basketball forward Richard Jefferson, recently departed from Milwaukee on his way to play for San Antonio, had a rough weekend. Not only did he leave his bride standing by the altar, he also reportedly let his buddies use his American Express black card to have a party in his absence. That was a million dollars ago.
They're down to five finalists for two federal judgeships in Portland. Time for them to be very nice to Senator Wyden.
A reader sends this interesting story along, and observes, "Think of the frequent flier miles!"
Given that the WES train from Beaverton to Wilsonville has turned out to be a bit of a dud, it's surprising that the next light rail plan is to take folks down Barbur Boulevard to Tigard. That's auto territory.
For some, a simple "Page Not Found" just isn't possible.
We didn't do much yesterday afternoon and evening but play with our new iPhone. This is the 21st Century equivalent of gazing at one's own navel. You get nothing done -- you're not anywhere near as productive on routine tasks as on a regular day -- but your hands are full figuring out the interesting and fun stuff you can do with the new toy. And as with any of the day's technological marvels, you spend a lot of time getting the thing set up to work the way you want it to.
It's a great gadget, but I'm taken aback by my own reaction to it. I feel as though my sense of time has shifted. I can surf freely and do e-mail anywhere, any time? Heck -- maybe I should ride the bus more often, for efficiency's sake.
My first iPhone call: to my mom. She had no idea what I was babbling about with regard to the phone, but without saying so expressly, she confirmed that our communication is what makes the thing important.
The next phase of this adventure is figuring out how to make room in the family budget for the two $30-a-month data lines we had to open up with AT&T to get the juggernaut rolling. I hate to say it, but that subscription to the hard copy of every day's New York Times is looking mighty expendable. As the marketers say, there's an app for that.
We can't ditch the basic land telephone line, but that land line long distance contract is vulnerable. We can talk for free on the iPhone, since we never seem to get close to maxing out our allotted monthly minutes. The Times and the long distance might get us two thirds of the way to the $60, at least. I sure would like to take a nick out of that hideous bill that we get from Comcast every month for cable TV and internet service. That would be a sweet way to get to the budgetary goal. We'll have to see.
In my sophomore year in high school, in the dead of winter, I discovered pro basketball and pro hockey. Living in the armpit of New York City, my friends and I followed the Knicks and the Rangers, respectively. We watched them on TV, but especially listened to them on the transistor radio on bitterly cold nights. The games were allowed as an audio backdrop as we dealt with translating Caesar's Commentaries on the Gallic Wars and Xenophon's Anabasis. There were no Nets, no Islanders to distract us. There were six teams in the whole hockey league, as I recall.
Back then, the announcer who made both Knicks and Rangers games come alive over the radio airwaves was a young fellow by the name of Marv Albert. Hockey games featured the sounds of the puck hitting the sticks, and of the big daddies of the game slamming each other into the boards. That and the organist doing the "Charge!" thing over and over, game after game.
Even 40 years ago, a big part of any hockey game was the fighting. Every team had one or two guys who were sent out in mid-game just to instigate fisticuffs. Oh, they played the game, too, but their primary role was to get one of the other side's better players into the penalty box for fighting or retaliatory dirty play.
By the time the game was over, my brother and I were already in bed, maybe even asleep -- Mom was a strict lights-out enforcer in those days -- but if the score got too lopsided while we were awake, we'd turn off the radio and throw on Cream or the Doors for a side before we crashed. Gosh, so many good things were right at hand.
And so it was that we felt a little pang just now when we read that the Rangers' enforcer from those days, a guy named Reggie Fleming, has left us at the age of 73. He seemed like a gentle enough guy off the ice, but he was hired to fight, and he never shirked his responsibility. Fleming played for several teams, and he lived in Chicago, but for the years I was glued to that transistor, he threw punches for New York. God rest his soul.
Today we have gone over the edge. Yes, the iPhone. Right now, we're blogging from the Costco parking lot. High test is $2.74. Popcorn chicken is on coupon. Capitalization at the start of a sentence is automatic. Consumer joy at every turn.
Technical question: Is it illegal to Twitter while driving?
You can now own a closet in the John Ross (Is that the one that's leaning?) for a mere $311 a square foot. Go by streetcar!
Just in time for tonight's AAA all-star game. What a guy.
UPDATE, 7/15, 12:58 a.m.: Chappelle is on the scene. Alas, apparently his sound system is one small VOX amp.
UPDATE, 1:16 a.m.: Now people are getting naked on the Starbucks roof, and they're negotiating setting up a legit sound system. Dieselboi tweets it all here.
UPDATE, 1:34 a.m.: A sound system has arrived.
UPDATE, 1:41 a.m.: Earlier video here.
UPDATE, 1:51 a.m.: Whatever Chappelle actually does in his show, it's obvious that he thought he'd have a few hundred people, not several thousand. In the internet age, everything is viral, Dave.
UPDATE, 2:01 a.m.: Now there's no power, and so they're reportedly going to get a generator. Where are our city leaders when we need them the most? Anybody who showed up down there right now with a key to the office and the electrical system would have guaranteed lifetime tenure in elective office around here. But I think Dan Saltzman's parents tuck him in at 10:00.
At two hours past the "scheduled" (sort of) showtime, by now Chappelle could have told everyone a joke or two personally in groups of 10, without a mike.
UPDATE, 2:07 a.m.: Here's the real news of the night. Check out this complete bungling of the story by the Oregonian.
They're about five blocks away and they can't get it right. Classic!
UPDATE, 2:16 a.m.: Looks like Dave's given up. This proves that the internet is beyond powerful. Sometimes it's muscle-bound.
UPDATE, 3:32 a.m.: WW has the money quote from Chappelle: "I don’t know how I can tell four people, and 4,000 people can show up. Next time I’m just going to think about this s**t, and maybe 200 people will show up." Typical Chappelle: funny, and true.
UPDATE, 4:10 a.m.: Bunch o' photos here.
Here's a $100 million public construction project that screams everything Oregon -- Gerding Edlen, Hoffman Construction, GBD and SERA Architects, Portland State, the City of Sam-Rand, sustainability, and more! The state will borrow $80 million and put up a 13-story building described as "a self-sustaining structure producing no net carbon emissions and putting no demands on the community’s water and sewer systems." I guess the water fountains will dispense rainwater collected on the roof, and all the sewage created by the building's occupants will be packed out each evening by workers biking home.
Supposedly there's a waiting list to become tenants in this building, but at a projected rent of $32 a square foot, that seems dubious at best.
Backers expect it will enhance Portland’s competitive advantage in the green building, technology and services sectors, providing economic development opportunities as other communities seek to replicate the building.Even if other places were falling all over themselves to build their own versions of this, how does that help the economy of Portland? Developers in other towns won't be hiring Portland workers. Oh, but they might sign a contract with Gerding, Edlen, and Hoffman... now I see.
If the building ever becomes fully functional, I suppose it will have a certain "cool" factor. But it seems about as practical as a Jetsons cartoon did in the '60s. Maybe someday every firm will be fertilizing its decorative plants from the office potty. But as much as I respect the planet, let's be honest: I'm glad I'll never have to work in such a place.
The Great Compromise on the Made in Oregon sign has been rejected by the Portland Historic Landmarks Commission. The future of the sign (and adjacent water tower) has thereby been plunged into uncertainty. One thing seems highly likely, however: There will be some new members on that commission before too long.
Here's some not-safe-for-work advice that we all wish the mayor of Portland had taken.
With TRP, it could go either way, depending on the standings.
Here's an interesting article out of New Orleans -- they're farming out management and operations of the mass transit system to a private company for a flat fee. The company will pay all the employees, and all operating expenses, out of that allowance.
Interesting idea. It may cut down on some costs, but as long as there are state appointees calling the big shots -- such as "policy-making authority for fares, service and operations, as well as approval of each year`s annual transportation development plan, including major initiatives, capital purchases and operating budget" -- it probably won't help all that much. For example, you could have the world's smartest company operating Tri-Met, but as long as there are creaky old gubernatorial appointees with no transit background making the crucial policy judgments, you are going to wind up with ticket machines that don't work, utter nonenforcement of fares, wacky trains that serve few and cost and arm and a leg, a fare system that you need college-level courses to decipher, dismantling of a perfectly good bus system, and countless other absurdities.
But the New Orleans deal might the beginning of a chain of events that eventually leads to positive change down there. If a private company were deciding between buses and streetcars, for example -- with a financial incentive to make the efficient choice -- there's no question which way it would go.
When Portlanders get a strong hit of that real estate development scam smell, a number of suspects immediately come to mind. But who would have thought that Oregon Health and Sciences University had an interest in the Paulson soccer-baseball empire?
An alert reader points us to this document -- a disclosure of lobbyist contacts with Portland city officials for the first three months of the year. And there we find that OHSU had someone named Mark Williams have no fewer than five personal meetings with Fireman Randy to discuss "soccer/baseball." In 31 years in Portland, we thought we'd seen everything, but the explanation for this one ought to be a doozy. Williams heads OHSU's planning, development and real estate unit. How is that connected with the Paulson deal?
Vera Katz also showed up a couple of times to twist people's arms on behalf of Little Lord Paulson. She was towed in by a guy named Greg Peden of Gallatin Public Affairs, who saw more of the good Fireman than just about anybody that quarter. Nineteen personal meetings, to be exact. Sheesh.
While we ponder these facts and contemplate how they reflect on our local government, we can't wait for the second quarter reports, which ought to be arriving quite soon. Who knows who else may pop up?
Remember years ago, when the Marqui people paid me to just mention their service once a week? Man, that was good eatin'. The checks, drawn on a Canadian bank, weren't super-easy to cash, but there was a way.
Since then, the "pay-to-blog" pipeline has dried up. I have splendid advertisers, whose generosity helps defray the cost of this blog, but nobody offering to sneak me a case of this or that, or some dead Presidents, just to say something nice about the goods and services they peddle.
Apparently other bloggers are more fortunate than I, and are cashing in nicely by offering "reviews" of stuff in exchange for payola from the makers and sellers of said stuff. This article in yesterday's Times sheds some light on the practice, and notes that the Federal Trade Commission is planning to start regulating that kind of blogging under its truth-in-advertising rules.
Oh, dear. I don't want to be regulated. I just want a case of Eberle red wine every now and then, a free pass on everything Clear and DirecTV sell, a grand here and there for a positive review of the latest smart phone, and a week a year to collect my thoughts on life in the fast lane in Las Vegas. Is that so much to ask?
Of the Fort Lewis kind.
In fact, what Ball was saying was true, of course. It was all part of the Sam-Rand twins formulating a "strategy to respond" to the revelations of the mayor's having had sex with a teenaged intern.
Why The Fireman felt a need to "respond" to charges against Mayor Creepy is unclear. Maybe he's just a caring nurturer. "Nothing heals like time and love."
Nothing silences like envelopes full of cash, either.
It was down in Petaluma less than three years ago, and the sticking point was whether the city would be sufficiently protected against financial loss. The city decided it wouldn't be. Lord Paulson refused to give the assurances that the city needed. And that was the end of that.
So they loaded up the truck and moved to Lake Oswe....
Go that is. Linchpins. Interns.
... it will be because it's the "green" thing to do.
This morning I sent the City of Portland a public records request to see the financial statements of Shortstop LLC, Merritt Paulson, and related entities. I was half expecting to be told they were confidential, but surprisingly, I now get word that the city's never seen them:
Good morning –Pretty amazing. When Paulson tells you how much he's making, or how much he's going to make, you're just supposed to take his word.
We actually aren’t the proper addressee. Under our agreement with Merritt Paulson, we do not receive any financials. Therefore, you would need to contact Mr. Paulson directly at 503-553-5401.
Hope this helps, Laurel
Laurel Butman, Principal Management Analyst
Business Operations, Office of Management & Finance
With several people at the Portland Water Bureau constantly mailing us, texting us, covering us with bumper stickers, and tweeting us about how wonderful the city's drinking water is, it's good that a dissenting voice is heard now and then.
We were called out recently for linking to a cartoon that used the word "retarded," even though the cartoon was set in the 1950's, when that word was in common usage without objection.
This month's new no-no word: midget. Please make a note of it.
And now on Sundays, too. This is just another one of the many ways the City Council has to say, "If you have a normal American life, please move."
Here's a mildly alarming story about people able to read your computer keystrokes just by hooking a gadget to an electrical outlet somewhere near where your computer's plugged in. But a few of the comments that readers have left on the page are funnier than the story is troubling:
Just do what I do -- don't ever type anything worth reading.
I am posting at Slashdot - kinda like preaching to the converted, isn't it?
looks like I have to come up with a random noise generator to hook up to the ground of my power outlets.
Vacuum cleaner? Microwave? Air conditioning?
Vacuum cleaner? Speak for yourself! My vacuum cleaner hose doubles as a microphone and a more melodic password obfuscator has rarely been heard!
Root is like crack. Don't smoke it. I did once and got hooked. I ran Mac OS Updates as root. ****, I even had sex with my girlfriend as root. Man, that caused some permissions problems. When I started the road to recovery (logging in as Zacks) my girlfriend was all like: "**** no! You can't get any cause you don't own me an I don't go groups. You don't have the power to read, write OR execute so get out of my FACE" So I was all HELL NO bitch. And she wuz like you do not have root (superuser) privlages so get out of my TruBlueEnvironment! So then I went chown and chmodded her ass to me. Dat be-otch be up in my hizzouse. What what. Holla!
The weather gods are not smiling on AAA minor league baseball. The two leagues at that level, the Pacific Coast and International Leagues, are holding their all-star game at PGE Park this week. The home run derby is scheduled for tomorrow and the actual game for Wednesday. It's been nearly 50 years since such an event was held in Portland. But today's chilly rain is doubtlessly dampening the spirits of the many who are arriving in town for the festivities.
The weather isn't the only thing for baseball fans to be bummed out about, of course. It turns out that the owner of the Portland team in AAA has decided to move the franchise out of PGE Park, and probably out of Portland entirely, so that he can upgrade his soccer team to the "major league" (by U.S. standards) level and make the stadium incompatible with baseball, forever. In just another couple of months, the sights and sounds of baseball will be departing downtown Portland for good.
This week was supposed to be a showcase of a great Portland tradition. Maybe in some ways, it is.
The announced attendance at last night's Portland Timbers game in Austin, Texas was 3,114. Granted, it wasn't "major league" soccer, even by U.S. standards. But that's a darn weak turnout for a sport that's supposed to become a big hit any day now, and justify spending tens of millions of tax dollars and evicting minor league baseball from Portland.
A former Portlander goes you one better, making headlines in the Big Apple.
Reader Peter Apanel, a fierce critic of the plan to remodel PGE Park as a soccer-only facility -- unsuitable for baseball -- writes in with his reactions to the stadium renovation plans that we blogged about last week:
They plan on having 5,000 seats in the bleacher section in the east end of the stadium, but there's a problem when you crunch the numbers. The crunch is that they plan on having seats that are 19 inches wide, on risers that are 30 inches deep. If you take out a ruler and measure the chair you're sitting in at this moment, it's obvious that those proposed seating dimensions for PGE Park are going to be incredibly uncomfortable.Another reader echoes this last thought:
The other major item that is highly questionable and highly expensive is the $2.1 million to construct a roof over that east end bleacher section. Since there are only going to be approximately 20 home matches per season, and most of those matches will take place during the driest months of the year, the probability that there will actually be any rainfall during the 2-hour duration of a match is minuscule. And when you consider the fact that European soccer leagues play during the winter months, how can Portlanders complain if they should happen to get a little wet?
Another troublesome item is the plan to essentially block off the free viewing opportunities from the sidewalk along NW 18th Avenue. That's a great tradition, and a great feature of PGE Park that will be lost if the current plan goes through.
Before [the most recent] city council meeting I went up to PGE Park to take another look at the general layout, with Paulson's plans in mind. And the argument that the existing concourses within the stadium need to be widened by demolishing the existing concession stands makes no sense at all. The obvious solution to creating more space is to simply move the entry/exit gates and fences outward, into the two plazas outside the stadium.
And here's some number-crunching on their restroom plans. For the existing restrooms that serve the existing grandstand seats, they plan on adding two urinals per restroom. Currently, there are 31 restrooms at PGE Park, so presumably 15 of those are men's restrooms. So, that means they will add 30 urinals. Now, with halftimes being only 15 minutes long, one urinal can serve, at best, let's say, 25 men during that period of time. So, those extra 30 urinals will be able to serve only 750 men. Now, considering the fact that the vast majority of fans are men, those 30 extra urinals aren't going to make up for the current shortage of restrooms that forced Paulson to cordon off 3,000 seats for the match against Seattle last week.
By the way, [one day last week] I noticed that in the upper section of the grandstands, the upper two-thirds of the rows are covered with tarps. That's over 6,000 seats. Now, is Paulson's plan to artificially limit attendance at [this] week's [minor league baseball] All-Star Game? Here's the one game he could probably sell out at full capacity, so what's he up to? If he makes the same excuse he made for the Seattle match, that there aren't enough concession stands to accommodate a full house, then why doesn't he simply bring in stand-alone vendor carts and put them out along the left field, street-level concourse, as well as the two field-level beer gardens, to pick up the slack, and make it possible for fans to continue watching the game while they're waiting in line?
Besides all of the other issues, I think Paulson simply doesn't know how to run a sports franchise.
What makes anyone think that Merritt Paulson has got the showmanship and promotional chops, out front enthusiasm, or plain old baseball (or soccer) fever to make any team he owns a success? If he couldn't make a renovated stadium and its events attractive to ordinary Portlanders, what makes anyone think he can make a go of any sports team in a bigger, more expensive venue?
My wife and I lived in Tucson in the 80s and early 90s before we moved to Portland. In Tucson we attended quite a few AAA baseball Toros games, as did it seemed about half the town. The stands were packed every home game with couples, families with lots of kids, as well as the pro sports crowd. It was fun, it was accessible (locationally), and it was relatively inexpensive- - and the management promoted the hell out of it. The place rocked on game night (see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tucson_Toros).
When we moved to Portland, we first lived in the Portland Towers up above Civic Stadium and one of the attractions there was the ability to just walk over and see a ball game. It was so disappointing to see the lackluster promotion and management of the baseball games. We watched a few games, returned with hope after the first renovation, but nothing has really improved and we've never been back except for a special school-related event. Now we live in Sellwood and walk over to Westmoreland Park with the kids for our summer baseball (well, softball mostly) viewing. It doesn't even cross our minds to go downtown -- even if we knew when the games were.
But then the game for Merritt isn't baseball or soccer, it's "finance."
Oregon Attorney General John Kroger, who refused to convene a grand jury or press charges in the Sam Adams teen sex case, released a bunch more documents relating to the case yesterday. We got a half dozen or so new e-mail messages from Tony Green, Kroger's p.r. flak, with megs and megs of attachments that brought our anemic e-mail setup to a grinding halt.
We've already blogged about how unusual it is for a prosecutor to release documents this way, particularly in a case that was deemed unworthy of pursuit. It seems the A.G. wants to be both the good guy and the bad guy in the Adams case at the same time.
Apparently yesterday's load of documents didn't hold much newsworthy material -- or else the local mainstream media is too tired of the whole incident to want to dig through more minutiae. In the interests of thoroughness, however, we note that the latest batch includes the take-out order slip for a March 31 lunch meeting of Kroger and two of his lead investigators in the case, Ron Nelson and Donna Maddux. The form shows that the lunches were obtained from Kwan's Chinese restaurant on Commercial Street. Kroger had the no. 6 -- cashew chicken chow mein, sweet and sour prawns, and steamed white rice -- with a large Diet Dr. Pepper. Nelson had the no. 18 -- Szechuan beef -- medium hot, with 8-blend rice and a medium iced tea. Maddux had the no. 9 -- sweet and sour spareribs, egg foo young, and steamed white rice -- and a strawberry lemonade. The task force members also requested extra napkins and fortune cookies.
... they get suspended.
We had lunch with a friend downtown the other day -- by internet standards, an old friend -- and afterward we thought we'd prowl around asking about the chances of the Mrs. and us getting iPhones. The intertubes told us there was a place in Pioneer Square that sold them. We walked over, noticing how dead everything looked. And after prowling around inside the mall a little, we saw that there was an AT&T place upstairs, to which we immediately headed.
There was one customer ahead of us to talk to the lone sales clerk. They had a lot of cell phones for sale, but no iPhones at that location. For that, you'd have to go down to the lower level, down by the food court. So down we went, hunting around for a while before finding the Apple store.
The place was absolutely packed -- a consumer feeding frenzy of a nature we haven't encountered in many months. Dozens of people, peering and poking at this gadget and that. So this is where the American economy has gone, we thought. Average Joes falling all over each other to pay $60 a month for a phone and a mobile internet connection.
Our reveries were interrupted by a young man in a goatee and a t-shirt. Could he help us? Yes, we'd like iPhones. Let him talk to the manager a moment, would we? Already we're rolling our eyes.
A few minutes later, he returned with the verdict: Given how crowded the store was, and how many of the people in it were wanting phones, "the most efficient way to handle this" was for us to start a line outside the store -- out by the food court -- until someone was available to help us. He steered us to a pair of velvet ropes out by where they were selling sterling silver unicorn necklaces.
Needless to say, we promptly took our iPhone ambitions and credit cards out of the mall and onto the nearest bus. Over we went to the AT&T store, where we were greeted by another line.
We may get iPhones, but this country is doomed. Over lunch our friend asked -- with an earnestness, almost a desperation, in his voice -- what America is going to produce to lead itself out of the current recession. Given that we're all turning a serious percentage of our disposable income over to thieves such as AT&T and Comcast, for communications and information that we did perfectly well without, or that used to come a lot cheaper, there's no answer to that.
A reader who wrote an e-mail message to Tri-Met protesting the elimination of buses from the Fareless Square free ride program received a bit of a brush-off response from "Linda" (no last name given) of "TriMet Customer Satisfaction." Among her seemingly rote responses were these:
We still want to preserve the environment and increase transit use, but downtown Portland has changed dramatically since Fareless Square was established 34 years ago. We now have a comprehensive light rail system and the Portland Streetcar, which provide high quality transit service downtown. When the Green Line opens this September on 5th and 6th avenues between Union Station and Portland State University, both Green and Yellow Line trains will run north - south through downtown. As a result, we will have virtually the same service on the Transit Mall as is currently available. Nearly every destination in Fareless Square will be served by rail within 3-4 blocks, and we will continue to provide a service that promotes mobility between downtown and the Lloyd District.Wow, one after another assertion so shallow. Charging money on buses where none is charged now "would simplify the system for riders"? For $2, we'll take complication. "Maintaining frequent, free transit in the current fareless area"? Certainly far less frequent than exists currently, when every bus in the square is free.
Changing the fare-free zone to rail only would simplify the system for riders and improve the efficiency of bus service, while maintaining frequent, free transit in the current fareless area. Operational efficiencies include improved travel times for buses traveling through the Mall; reduced potential for conflicts with Operators that currently need to remember which passengers are staying in Fareless Square; an overall simplification of the Operators' responsibilities; and a reduction in bus related fare evasion, where bus passengers previously willing to take the chance of extending their free trip outside of Fareless Square will no longer be able to do so. In addition, customers should find travel in Fareless Square less confusing, as it is currently difficult to know which bus routes travel the length of the Mall, and which turn to cross the Willamette River or to the west.
"Reduced potential for conflicts with Operators that currently need to remember which passengers are staying in Fareless Square"? Really? Do the Tri-Met drivers really bother with this? From our vantage point, they let everybody board on Fareless Square, with or without fare, and never ask any questions beyond that unless they're in a nasty mood. "An overall simplification of the Operators' responsibilities"? Ditto.
"A reduction in bus related fare evasion, where bus passengers previously willing to take the chance of extending their free trip outside of Fareless Square will no longer be able to do so"? Yes, but an offsetting increase in train-related fare evasion -- what's the difference? "Customers should find travel in Fareless Square less confusing"? Again, for $2, we'll cope with the heavy weight of complexity.
It's hard to believe that this sort of thing goes on, and nobody bats an eye: The Sam-Rand twins cut an oral backroom deal with Little Lord Paulson on his stadium project literally 10 minutes before the City Council meeting at which said project is supposed to be meaningfully discussed by the council as a whole and by the public. And this counts as transparency and public involvement.
A reader who was there writes:
Well, I just got back from the city council meeting, and it was a real soccer lovefest! No scarf waving. No vulgar chants. No smoke bombs. No vomiting in the aisles. Just love and praise for Paulson from the city council and the audience."Just an informational item," indeed. "The deal's been cut -- take it or leave it, workers of the world." The People's Republic of Portland truly lives up to its nickname once again.
Right at 2 p.m., when the meeting was supposed to start with an unrelated, time-certain item on the agenda, there was a flurry of activity out in the hall, as council members, along with Paulson and his gang walked briskly toward the council chambers. Word quickly spread that the agenda had been changed, and that the meeting would start with an unscheduled announcement that a soccer deal had been reached.
And that's what happened. There was nothing in writing to pass out to the council or the public, and [city finance chief] Ken Rust did most of the talking as he explained all of the financials.
Then there were half a dozen people who got up to praise Paulson. One speaker heaped Oprah-like praise on Paulson for his efforts to somehow find the extra money that he's now putting into this deal.
There was no vote taken at this point in time. This was just an informational item, and Adams promised that at a later date there would be a panel of experts on stadium renovation to review the actual building plans.
I left as the time-certain item began, with the no-bid and sole-source items still scheduled to follow. But there was no point in staying, and no point in being a party-pooper.
But the real punchline to this sick joke, from the O:
Paulson said he sees the PGE renovations as a two-phase project and may come back to the city in later years for more upgrades, when urban renewal might play a role.No kidding. Until yesterday, the budget for the remodel of PGE Park was between $36.9 million and $41.5 million. Now it's down to $31 million. Of course there will be bleats for more money -- and by then, the place will be unsuitable for anything but soccer. Paulson and his cronies in the soccer league will threaten to leave if they don't get their way. And the city will tell us that we have no choice but to shell out more tens of millions. It's so obvious.
But hey, it's Sam-Rand World. We go by streetcar. The ride's slow, but the trip to municipal bankruptcy will reach its destination eventually.
The answer is easy: "Because we became obscenely greedy, and incapable of learning from our mistakes -- even recent ones."
A reader whom I don't know writes:
Last night I got a push poll all about Sam Adams. It took about 15 minutes to answer all the questions. After several questions about Sam, the next question was, knowing this information are you more like[ly] to support Sam.
Illicit lover of embarrassed politician receives "gifts" from said politician's family. At least they paid by check, and didn't falsely call them "loans."
Another Oregon legislator moves over to the executive branch, where one actually gets paid decent money to drive to Salem and do the public's business. This time, however, it's my favorite Oregon politician, Sen. Vicki Walker (D-Eugene), one-time scourge of the good old boys. She's going to chair the state parole board.
We saw this coming when she ran for Secretary of State two years ago. We thought she was giving up her Senate seat for that run, but we were mistaken. She came back to the Senate after her bid failed. But she set off a lot fewer fireworks in this most recent legislative session, and now she gets a bureaucrat position.
The move reminds me of Max Williams, the Portland lawyer who left the House in 2003 to head the state's corrections department. The whole prison and parole setup in Salem scares the heck out of us. Michael Francke, Fred Monem, and who knows what other skeletons there are in those closets. We wish Walker well her in her new job, but hope to heck she stays out of trouble.
The bobbleheads at Metro have a hot press release for this afternoon:
The Metro Council voted unanimously today to approve the Regional High Capacity Transit System Plan, a 30-year plan to guide investments in light rail, commuter rail, bus rapid transit and rapid streetcar in the Portland metro region. The plan ranks 16 potential high capacity transit corridors in four regional priority tiers, creates a framework for future system expansion prioritization and proposes amendments to the Regional Transportation Plan.Did they say "rapid streetcar"? Ha! Ha!
The folks gathering signatures for the Sam Adams recall say they'll be handing out thank you cards to those who sign the petition:
The Trib plays right along with the Paulson stadium propaganda this morning. Reporter Jim Redden points out that the "minor" soccer league in which the Portland Timbers currently play may be phasing out its West Coast presence soon, as several of the teams in this region shift over to the "major" (by U.S. standards) league. If Portland doesn't expand the grandstand at PGE Park and make the place soccer-specific to the tune of $40 million plus, then the Timbers can't move up to the "majors." And if they can't move up, then they might be shut down, because their current "minor" league may fold in the near future.
The rest of the article covers ground that's already been well tread: If you remodel the stadium for soccer, the Portland Beavers baseball team will have nowhere to play. And so they might leave town, and even the Portland area, permanently as well.
But the conclusion the article reaches is new: Hurry up and do the soccer deal now, or you may wind up with no team at all. They may both leave.
There are a couple of problems with this last assertion. One problem is logical and the other journalistic. Let's start with the logic first. There are four possible outcomes here:
1. Both teams stay in Portland.
2. The Timbers leave and the Beavers stay.
3. The Beavers leave and the Timbers stay.
4. Both teams leave.
Let's look at these possibilities and see what it would take for each of them to happen.
Outcome 1, both teams stay, could occur only if one of three alternative scenarios plays out: (a) the Timbers remain "minor league" and the "minor league" remains viable; (b) the "major league" soccer owners agree to a shared stadium with baseball, utilizing movable grandstands for soccer games; or (c) the city blows big bucks on two stadiums. We are told that scenario (b) will never happen, because the soccer overlords in New York have spoken on the matter. Today the sales spiel is that variation (a) isn't a safe bet, either, because "minor league" soccer on the West Coast may be ending soon. That leaves option (c) -- the $80 million or greater option, with two stadium projects -- and that's currently on the rocks because without buying up land, which would push the price tag even higher, the city doesn't have a new place to put either team. Thus, it certainly appears that one of the two teams will be closing up shop in town, and if the Beavers leave to make room for the remodel, it's for good because the stadium will be irrevocably made unsuitable for baseball.
But which team should leave? Let's look at Outcome 2 -- the Timbers leave and the Beavers stay. Nobody in City Hall is talking about this outcome, but in this one the city would not be spending tens of millions of new dollars on another stadium remodel or buying temporary seating. It wouldn't be spending anything. Turner Construction wouldn't get its $22 million or more contract, and the Paulson cronies on Wall Street wouldn't get their tens of millions in interest payments on the new bonds. The only drawback from a taxpayer standpoint is that it would make it harder for the city to pay off the existing mortgage on the stadium, without hitting up property taxes even more heavily than it currently does for this purpose, because there would be only one team, not two.
Note that Outcome 2 could be locked in by the city at any time. Just say no the PGE remodel, and we're done. We keep the Beavers, who have an official total attendance of more than 200,000 so far this summer at PGE, and ditch the Timbers, who have drawn fewer than 85,000 over the same timeframe.
On to Outcome 3 -- the Timbers stay, the Beavers move. This is what the City Council is looking at with the ordinances it considers this afternoon. The revenue currently generated by baseball is lost, and the revenue generated by soccer is increased. That pair of effects may be a wash, or it may be a net loss, from where we stand with the two teams occupying the stadium today; it's dubious that it will be a net gain from today's ticket revenues for both teams. But the city takes on around $40 million of new debt to get there (to remodel PGE), and it ends up with only the Timbers' money, not the Beavers'.
And then the final outcome, No. 4: Both teams leave Portland for good. Is this going to happen? Of course not. Here is where the logical fallacy of Redden's article is apparent. For one thing, if the soccer upgrade deal falls through and the "minor" soccer league folds, there will be no need for the Beavers to go anywhere. They can just play where they do now, with no additional out-of-pocket cost to the city's taxpayers, but a loss of the soccer revenue. In other words, Little Lord Paulson and the city will always have the option of Outcome 2. Both teams will not be forced out of town.
Now, of course, Paulson could decide of his own royal accord that he wants to try his luck with both his teams, or his sole surviving team, outside of Portland. The likelihood of that seems extraordinarily slim, and as far as we can tell, the city could not stop him from doing that in the long run anyway, regardless of the stadium situation. But keep this in mind: If Paulson pulled the teams out of town -- not because he had to but because he wanted to -- there would still be a ready-made minor league baseball stadium here, extensively remodeled less than a decade ago, waiting for another owner. And as we've seen over the last couple of decades, somebody or other is always game to try it, at one level of minor league baseball or another, in the Rose City.
Redden spends a lot of time going over the money aspects of the deal, and he notes that the loss of either team would make it harder to pay off the existing debt on the recent remodel of PGE Park, which still has a balance of $26 million outstanding. If you build two stadiums, you get to keep two streams of revenue (Outcome 1, version (c)), but what needs to be emphasized is that at that point the total debt jumps to more than $100 million. If you get rid of the Timbers and keep the Beavers (Outcome 2), you get one income stream and a debt of $26 million. If you get rid of the Beavers and remodel PGE to keep the Timbers (Outcome 3), you get one income stream and debt of more than $65 million. If Outcome 4 ever happened, you'd have no income stream and a debt of $26 million, but as noted earlier, the chances of that occurring seem negligible, and you could probably get another baseball team in there to pay something.
In short, if it comes down to the Timbers leaving or the Beavers leaving, it would be a much, much cheaper scenario if the Timbers left:
Which brings us to the journalistic problem. For this morning's article, Redden appears to have interviewed a total of two people. The first is Fireman Randy, the city commissioner who's been shilling for Paulson and the construction unions on this deal beyond the point at which, if it were most elected officials, they'd be a little embarrassed. The second is Jeremy Wright, whose credentials on the subject are that he's part of the mob of rude soccer fans known as the Timbers Army.
That's it? Where is the other side of the story? Commissioner Fritz, who's expressed grave concern about the financial side of the deal? Worried Beavers fans? Municipal debt analysts? People who have studied costly sports stadium disasters in other cities? Too much work to call them, apparently.
Now that the city has renamed 39th Avenue after César Chávez, can we all agree to call the street by just his last name? I thought for sure that Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard would be shortened to "King," but instead it got shortened to "MLK." With the latest renaming, are we going to insist on using the honored figure's full name -- even his middle name (Estrada) or initial? No one is going to call it "César E. Chávez Boulevard," are they? Are we going to go with "CEC"?
And if we insist on both first and last name, can we resurrect the first names of all the other people who have Portland streets named after them? Actually, I think it would be kind of educational to dredge out the given names of the folks after whom Asa Lovejoy Street, Rodney Glisan Street, and the many others were christened. How many people know who Killingsworth was? Stark? Morrison? Hawthorne (no, it wasn't Nathaniel)? Is Broadway Street really a tribute to Joe Namath?
And one other thing: If we're compelled to put the accent over the "a" in Chávez, can we also bring it back for the "e" in Frémont (named after John C. Frémont)?
Comcast robbing you blind.
We blogged back in May about a small earthquake centered over by the Barley Mill Pub on Hawthorne. This morning there was another, near the southwest corner of Laurelhurst Park. And last week, there was one under the methadone clinic at 26th and Belmont. (There was also a little shaker last week under where 28th Avenue passes over the Banfield -- we'd hate to be on that bridge when the big one comes.)
Repent, Portland -- the end is near. [Via the O.]
Intentionally or not (we leave that up to you to decide), the guys at Willy Week dealt a hard body blow to the Sam Adams recall today with this "photo collage" (versions of which appear twice in the first seven pages of today's print edition). It gratuitously places recall advocate Jason Wurster side-by-side with Don McIntire, the anti-tax zealot who's one of the most despised people on earth among Portland's "progressive" population. The accompanying story also plays up a truly boneheaded remark Wurster reportedly made last week:
Wurster told last week’s gathering that donor anonymity is a priority given the mayor’s notoriously long memory. The plan is to keep individual donations under $100 so contributors’ identities may remain secret, though ultimately the petition signatures will be public.What a story for the first days of the recall campaign: Wurster + McIntire + secret funding... maybe it's Parks and Sizemore!
Anyway, the story is a wake-up call for those progressives and gay rights folks who support the recall but would rather not be involved prominently. Unless some of them step up into the spotlight and soon, the recall is going to be deader than a Lon Mabon petition at a Basic Rights Oregon meeting.
The César Chávez Boulevard Sóap Ópera has come to a close, and the good folks on 39th Avenue have won the prize. There are still a few loose ends -- lawsuits about procedure, the old "I'll never call it that!" routine, calls for changes in the rules in the future, yada yada yada. Might as well throw in some recall talk -- it's cheap right about now. But render to César the street signs that are César's -- it's over.
The mysterious forces behind the name change are to be congratulated for gaming the system well and getting their desired outcome. Now it's on to their next cause. This one has been such an uplifting experience for all concerned -- can't wait for the next one.
I may not have made it out of eighth grade in 1895.
The Portland City Council is scheduled to hear tomorrow afternoon two ordinances creating a no-bid contract that turns over the remodeling of city-owned PGE Park to the Paulson family. From the documents that our correspondent obtained from the city the other day, the Paulsons apparently intend to let a construction contract worth at least $22 million to contractor giant Turner Construction, based in New York. The City of Portland, which when asked for documents says it has seen only the sketchiest of drawings and an equally cursory description of the work, will not get a chance to select any contractor other than the one chosen by the Paulsons, which in this case is apparently Turner.
It's an interesting end-run around -- or perhaps mockery of -- the public bidding laws. Here the city is about to blow big bucks on remodeling public property for the exclusive benefit of a private company -- a questionable decision in itself. But then what does it do? It has that private company put up a few million bucks up front; notes that no one else would put up that money; and for that reason awards to the company the right to designate any builder it wants.
Beyond the selection of the contractor and the price tag, there's also the question of the scope of the project. Will Portland taxpayers or their elected officials get a chance to review what's going to go into the project, to weigh in on what might be useful to have in their municipal stadium, and what might not be? Apparently not.
You have to wonder how much profit Turner will make on the deal, and whether this large public works project could have been undertaken more cheaply and with less frills. But that's all you'll get to do -- wonder. The Paulsons, recently transplanted to Lake Oswego from New York, will call all the shots.
And where will the money come from to pay for the $37 million (or greater) undertaking? Except for $4 million that the Paulsons are supposedly putting up, it will all be borrowed by the city, from the gods of Wall Street. Led by the cronies of the Paulson family at Goldman Sachs. Indeed, the contract between the city and the Paulsons states that the Paulsons will "assist" the city in privately selling the bonds. No doubt. And so all the interest on that $37 million mortgage -- and you can bet that the interest will be at a hefty rate -- will be heading for New York as well.
O.k., so no one in Portland will profit from the deal. Is there any guarantee that Portland residents will at least be hired to take the construction jobs? Nothing legally binding so far, but Turner has an office in town, and it's handled big projects in Oregon before, apparently including the last wasteful remodel of the stadium earlier this decade.
It's a bit ironic that The Paulson badmouths the existing amenities of the stadium while he goes out and hires the same contractor who got it that way to take another crack at it.
Anyway, it's to be expected that corporate and bankster America will roll into a place like Portland and try to raid the public coffers. But it's sad that they're able to do it so easily.
With Twitter, your old friends don't ever disappear.
I was on the "new, improved" Portland transit mall again today. This was my second visit since it reopened, and again I was shocked at how they have screwed up a good thing. Remember how you never had to walk more than a block or two to catch your bus? Forget that, my friends. The bus stops for the line I rode were four blocks apart or more. If you see your bus shoot past you, there's no longer a decent chance that you'll be able to run it down.
I'm sure the Tri-Met apologists will tell us that all that stopping was slowing the buses down. But all that stopping is what buses do. Some people can't or won't walk four blocks for a bus, especially if the weather's bad. You either serve the public, or you don't.
And remember the neat old Tri-Met bus kiosks, with windbreak walls, a couple of seats, good maps, and curved roofs that provided decent shelter from the rain? Forget those, too. Today on Sixth Avenue I stood (no bench anywhere around) under a little glass slat that seemed about the size of a stick of gum. Virtually any combination of rain and wind would have ensured that I would have been soaked. And with bus service about to be cut yet again, I would have been soaked a few minutes longer than in the past.
What a bust. We spent nine figures to get a mall that will provide less comfort, less convenience, and less incentive to visit or shop downtown than the old one did. But we are going to get light rail trains through there now. Whoopdee doo.
Hey there! Curiosity had me Google Steinfeld's to see what was out there. Indeed they are made in India now, sadly. I'm sitting here eating a jar and the flavor I grew up on just isn't there, how disappointing. I just wanted to comment on why, someone had posted they thought they were made in Scappoose.
Indeed, they used to be but our family sold the company in 1999 after the death of my grandfather, Ray Steinfeld. We originally sold to Dean Foods and the label is now owned by Bay Valley (that is semi-recent; I honestly didn't keep up with it and have no idea when that transaction took place).
The pickles used to be made in a facility in Portland, which we leased to Dean Food's for several years; after a time they moved production to a different part of the country. The sauerkraut used to be made in Scappoose, we also used to host the Sauerkraut Festival out there yearly. When we sold the company, we stopped hosting. In the last few years, as part of the deal, the factory was sold off and bulldozed. What a shame! I wish they would have kept it, but I'm just a grandkid ;).
Our grandmother still lives in Scappoose and is active in her local community; we also are starting a scholarship fund for Scappoose high schoolers this coming year (I believe).
Anyways, since someone asked I'd thought I'd let you know!
This guy gets it exactly right.
It took about a dozen planners and some "citizen advisor" face cards like Cora "Lents Stadium" Potter and Chris "Voter-Owned" Smith to churn out this monstrosity -- the Portland citywide streetcar manifesto. I love the part about how the greedy developers (the authors pretty much admit that's whom the streetcars are for) are going to "step down" their infill bunkers to the poor souls in their single-family houses. Yeah, right, that's gonna happen.
Oh yeah, and peak oil! They're great with the peak oil!
The total price tag for all the new streetcar lines? A mere $750 million. Plus many millions more every year to operate them, with laughable (if any) fare enforcement.
But cooler than buses. Way cooler.
Here's a spectacle for you: They're going to bring Michael Jackson's body to the Staples Center for the memorial service. O.J. has offered to drive it there in the Bronco.
When the City of Portland lets the developer weasels wreck its storied neighborhoods with bulky infill bunkers, we're told that it's saving farmland on the edge of town. That causal connection has always seemed pretty dubious to us, and now we see that the farmland on the edge of town is being destroyed anyway. Just ask the folks out Helvetia way.
How far out can they push the story? What are they going to say in a few years? Probably something like, "We need five-story apartment buildings all around your ranch house in Sellwood so that the millions and millions of people coming here any day now don't try to build houses in Burns instead."
Is that San Francisco deal a harbinger of things to come Portland's way soon?
The folks who want to vote Portland's creepy mayor out of office are expected to file paperwork this morning to start the signature collection on recall petitions. They'll have 90 days to get the requisite number of signatures, and by our calendar that's until October 5, a Monday.
There are so many reasons to want to have this recall election. We'll wait and read the formal statement of grounds, which will probably focus on the stolen mayoral election and coverup, but there will doubtlessly be more to add to it. Inability to tell the truth about darn near anything, constant drama and demands for attention, fiscal recklessness on both personal and professional levels, dangerously careless driving (or worse), bungling of relationships with key state legislators, too many bar sightings, extremely poor judgment overall -- none of these may be on the petition, but they're legitimate reasons to sign it.
And watch for dirty pool that could be played by Sam and his minions any and every step of the way. This thing is likely to get quite vicious.
The latest Northwest Examiner has a couple of juicy scam stories going. On the cover: a gerrymandered "urban renewal study area" that seems to have "parking garage" written all over it. On page 11: the latest "improvements" to the state's historic property tax abatement program. (Hint: Property owners win, the public loses. You were expecting otherwise?)
An alert reader has wrested from the City of Portland a budget and a description (with some drawings) of the construction plans for the proposed remodeling of PGE Park to dedicate it exclusively to "major league" (by U.S. standards) soccer.
The documents, some of which are dated May 29, show a $36.9 million total cost for the two-phase project, but of course, there will be lots of overruns. Already legal expenses, which are in the budget at $100,000 total, have hit $250,000 and counting. Some of the items shown on the drawings are marked "not in base budget."
And to answer our question of last week, yes, Turner Construction, who did the last renovation of PGE -- luxury boxes for minor league baseball -- is shown as getting the no-bid contract on this deal as well.
Six thousand new seats, new concession stands, a new team store -- it will all be grand. Go by streetcar!
The Lufthansa flights from Portland to Frankfurt will end September 12. Meanwhile, the Port of Portland is going to pay Delta Airlines millions to keep flying half-empty planes between the Rose City and Tokyo.
If only we had a Convention Center headquarters hotel and Major League Soccer, I'm sure none of this would be happening.
The Oregon income tax increase on corporations and wealthy taxpayers is generating a lot of heat in the news media, but I wouldn't worry too much about it. If it is forced onto a statewide referendum -- and the usual suspects among the tighty righties are highly likely to cause that to happen -- the election is apparently going to be conducted with a ballot deadline date of January 26.
We've seen this movie before, in 2003 and 2004. In late January, everybody's broke from holiday shopping. The credit card bills are screaming. If you ask the public for more tax money at that time of year, the answer is going to be no. Sure, this time is different, because the taxes directly affect only businesses and high-income folks, but still -- it's hard to see a tax increase winning an election at that time of year.
And so get ready for some serious madness in Salem come next winter. The "regularly scheduled special session" of the Legislature is likely to be a real humdinger.
Meanwhile, as I understand it, at least some of the tax increases will be retroactive to the 2009 tax year, as opposed to taking effect in 2010. If I'm right about that, it means that the Oregon tax forms that we'll be struggling with next tax season will have to have two sets of tax tables in them -- one for if the tax increases survive the referendum and one for if they fail. What fun.
Lost in the holiday weekend shuffle, perhaps, was this story about a "green" Portland tech startup that's having its ups and downs.
Oregon's practice of convicting criminal defendants with less-than-unanimous juries may be heading before the U.S. Supreme Court again -- at least if this fellow's lawyers have their way.
There's one good thing about the recession: The builders have stopped overbuilding the Portland metro area for a while. Here's a story from out in Beaverton, accompanied by a wonderful photo. Somewhere Tom McCall is smiling.
Even paraphrasing the mainstream media may have to be outlawed, in order to save that media. Those are strong words, coming as they do from one of the most influential judges in the country.
Nowadays everybody will tell you that if you do what they want, it will help reverse climate change. I wish this gimmick had been around when I was hitting on girls back in my high school days.
Today is the seventh birthday of this blog. A word of appreciation is in order for all our readers, especially those who leave their thoughtful comments. Special thanks are also due to our advertisers, who help defray our expenses in renting and maintaining the server on which this blog resides. It's been quite a ride, and we look forward to keeping our pedal to the metal.
The folks who want to put a recall of Portland's creepy mayor on the ballot say they'll be filing their paperwork bright and early tomorrow morning, and they'll start collecting petition signatures immediately thereafter. From a press release that we just received:
As soon as the City Auditor approves the recall petition the campaign will hold a series of training sessions to educate volunteers how to legally and ethically collect their goal of 50,000 signatures in a 90 day window from active registered Portland voters. The campaign currently has over 600 volunteers and $2778.37 in donations....If they can get this done, it will be one of the greatest grassroots stories in the history of the Rose City. We'll be signing the petition -- will you?
Local attorney Erin Fitzgerald, of Fitzgerald Law (www.legalfitz.com), is personally volunteering her time and talent to lead the recall's legal team, who ensures that the campaign is in compliance with Oregon election and volunteer signature circulator laws. Local progressive political consulting firm Forward Support (www.forwardsupport.com) has been retained by the recall campaign to provide contribution and expenditure services. Jasun Wurster is a founding partner and partial owner of Forward Support. The recall has signed a contract with Astro Data Services (www.voterlist.com) from Corvallis, Oregon to provide voter lists and web based voter identification software.
Gay Talese takes a boat ride.
It's interesting to see who gets bitten by the blogging bug. Erstwhile Portlander Janna Orkney, daughter of the founder of G.I. Joe's, blogged about that experience for a while. Now she's tackling public affairs on her home turf of East Ventura County, California with a newish blog called Conejo Post. As a member of the water and sanitation board down that way, she's also having an impact as a formal policymaker as well as a blogger.
Orkney dropped us a nice note today to say that our blog was part of the inspiration for her own. (She notes, however, that her "tone is gentler" than ours -- probably a smart move.) It's been a while since we had a "blogchild," and it is a good feeling. Good luck to her with her various public-spirited projects.
Here's an interesting history project -- ferreting out American places in which important things took place, but which bear no memorial of those events. There are probably more than a handful of these in Portland and vicinity. As just one example, what's now in the spot where "Louie Louie" was recorded by the Kingsmen?
When we wrote about the new Oregon law forbidding handheld cell phone use while driving, we got an e-mail from this company touting its product. It isn't even in beta release yet, but already they're marketing.
If this is eventually a successful venture, we can imagine many potential offshoots. "He's on the john right now -- don't bother him." "Would you like me to auto-Tweet for you during the bar exam?" "Click here and we'll explain to your callers that you've passed out at a party."
Last night I blogged about the miracle of a Mariners game on cable TV (channel 34) with crowd sounds but no annoying announcers. Even the commercials were muted! Tonight I accidentally figured out how it happened. My jiffy new remote control from the Comcastards has a "lang" button on it, and somehow it was switched to "Spa." Since they don't have Spanish, at least for now, you get the benefit of the absence of announcers. Right now we have a repeat of tonight's Mariners game from Fenway going -- great stuff.
Repeat: Portland is not European enough.
Even with the streetcars.
Even with the aerial tram.
Even with the soccer people and their little songs and colorful scarves.
Even with all the bicycles.
Even with the spectacular views from the empty SoWhat condo towers.
Even with Sunday Parkways.
Not European enough! Randy! Sam! Do something!
If only we had a Convention Center hotel, the Blazers could go all the way.
Last night we blasted the O's editors for what we called "burying" today's James Chasse story. But it has been called to our attention that in the print version of today's paper (which we had not seen last night), the story gets the most prominent play possible:
That being the case, it's wrong to say that the story was "buried." Running it on a national holiday at the start of the three-day weekend, however, significantly diminished its impact. It should have been held for Monday.
Another bizarre chapter in a crazy story. Does this mean she has to give the baby back to his real mother?
What is really going on with her? Did the Letterman thing push her over the edge? Perhaps she is giving up her political career to take on the care of the recently orphaned Bubbles the chimp. She looks like she hasn't been eating.
UPDATE, 2:43 p.m.: Pentagon sources report increased activity by Russian troops in Siberia. Speculation is that with America's watchdog distracted by personal issues, Putin may seize the opportunity and stage an invasion.
An alert reader comes across evidence that the Portland city government was making stadium renovation promises to the "major league" (by U.S. standards) soccer league more than 18 months ago. At that time, the commissioner of the league told some folks up in Vancouver (the real Vancouver) so:
"Two of the many cities that Vancouver is competing with for an expansion franchise are Portland and Montreal," said Garber. "Both of those cities are in the mix because they have stadium plans in place. It's hard to imagine Vancouver being part of MLS without a proper stadium."Fascinating. Plans that were "in place," and yet the residents of the city heard nothing about them from their elected representatives. What a town.
In 2001, Portland reversed the trend, opening a downtown streetcar line with brand new rolling stock, intent on using this mode of transportation to encourage transit-oriented development. The results have been impressive: $3.5 billion in new construction, 10,000 residential units, more than 5,000,000 square feet of office and hotel space. Politicians and transportation experts have flocked to Portland to see the results, and cities across the country are now pondering systems of their own.Suckers. It's all about the tax dollars for the apartment towers, baby.
Ask us about the amputations that are taking place in our bus service. Ask us about how much of those 5 million square feet are empty. Ask us how much tax abatement, sweetheart loans, $1 real estate transactions, and other giveaways were needed to bring about those "results." Then, and only then, should you go by streetcar.
And that broke his ribs on the night the Portland cops let him die. Even the medical examiner who helped whitewash the murder now admits it under oath.
There's a special place in hell for news editors who deliberately bury important stories on the eve of a holiday weekend. This is an example of why Sandy Rowe and Peter Bhatia of the O should be worried about that.
UPDATE, 7/3, 3:10 p.m.: The story was not, in fact, buried in the Friday morning print edition of the paper. See followup here.
And in his place comes a gal recently departed from the Portland Development Commission after more than 20 years. She was the "senior development manager" of the SoWhat District -- Linchpin City! It appears that Goldschmidt Party control of the Convention Center has been restored.
Right now they're showing the Mariners-Yankees game on cable TV (channel 34 on our service) with crowd audio, but no announcers. I'm sure it's a replay -- it's 12:30 in the morning in New York, and the game on the tube is only in the third inning -- but it's worth watching. They've even got the announcers muted on the commercials -- don't know how they managed that. A whole different way to tune in to a game.
UPDATE, 11:15 p.m.: I stayed glued to the set until the end. Closest thing to going to the game in person. Awesome!
UPDATE, 7/4, 12:34 a.m.: The simple explanation is here.
It's Earl the Pearl in a normal tie.
Former Trail Blazer and lifetime Jail Blazer Zach Randolph has apparently been traded again -- this time from the
Knicks Clippers to the Grizzlies.
This guy's a little behind on his $435,000 of education debt.
An alert reader writes:
PDX has been choked down to one runway for the last several weeks. Well, 1¼ if you count the Dash-8s using the cross-wind runway to fly to Seattle every half hour.What? Stop building unneeded stuff at the airport? Surely the reader jests. The third runway may be off the table for now, but come some full moon, it will rise from the grave. The West Hills construction Mafia gets powerfully hungry sometimes.
Have there been any delays? Have airlines had to cut flights? The place doesn't look like it's all that choked. Maybe we can get away with just one.
As the Portland City Council rolls like lemmings toward a no-bid deal with Little Lord Paulson on the conversion of PGE Park to a soccer-only stadium, nobody's seen any plans, or even descriptions, of what the work is going to entail, or what the finished product is going to look like. It's been announced that anyone who thinks the project ought to be put out to bid has only until next Wednesday to say so. But how can anyone make a meaningful argument about that when, despite months of discussion, not a single drawing or set of specifications has been made public?
And how can the city commissioners have any confidence in the $33 million projected price tag for the renovation, if they aren't going to be given a reasonably detailed idea of what the work entails? Just one of the many mysteries about what's going on in that smoke-filled room.
The City of Portland's building permit bureau (whatever foolish name it goes by these days) is laying off dozens of people. But it still has resources to publish this thing. Meanwhile, as the water bills continue to rise, we still have staff time and bandwidth for this.
Are we spending too much time on public relations and not enough on public services?
Hedo Turkoglu, a highly talented pro basketball player, originally from Turkey, may wind up playing for the Blazers next year. He'll be in town today to check things out.
If you bump into him, you'll know. He's 6 feet 10 inches tall. In the NBA, this makes you a "small" forward.
My friend and fellow pie judge Dwight Jaynes, who's my go-to guy on pro hoops matters such as these, is skeptical that the Portland team and Hedo would make a good fit for each other. If he came here, several current Blazer players would likely be sent packing.
Word has it that Turkoglu likes to eat pizza before games. Let's hope that if he decides to sample the local fare, the team steers him to one of the better joints. Some Portland pizza is enough to make the guy sign with Toronto.
Get this: The Vatican thinks that American nuns are getting too worldly. So now here comes an investigation that will no doubt try to force them back into convents and habits.
I wish the nuns would start their own church. I'd go.
You wonder why our government is broke? The people we elect to govern us have a hard time managing money.
Both seem to have too much time on their hands.
Up in Washington State, there have been plenty of tickets issued, and lives saved.
Radio Gretchen pens a fine appreciation here.
When the fix is in with Fireman Randy, it stays in. Now that the Paulson stadiums boondoggle has dropped from two stadiums to one, we've been wondering whether the City of Portland would continue to try to make the development a no-bid contract. When there were plans for two gigantic wastes of money instead of just one, the city said that the unique position the Paulson family was in as owner of the two tenant sports franchises was part of the justification for not putting the deal out for bid.
This morning, the city announced that even though there's only going to be one stadium project now, with only one of the Paulsons' two teams occupying the finished project, it will still be a no-bid deal:
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 the MLS franchise and is the only entity that will renovate the MLS 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.It seems pretty clear that the contractor on this job is already picked out. Does anyone know which of our construction company overlords is vacuuming us taxpayers' wallets on this one?
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 the MLS franchise. 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 PGE Park. Thus, while there are potentially other companies that could operate PGE Park, there is no other entity that will operate and also make a contribution toward construction costs at PGE Park.
Of course, they time the release of this document to coincide with Fourth of July weekend; if you want to challenge what they're doing, you get to not have your holiday. The deadline for protesting is next Wednesday. The creeps.
Hey, Commissioner Fritz! Is this good government? Just asking.
It's making the national news. This story indicates that people may be going to Washougal instead.
Is the guy who's posing as mayor of Portland still talking about a Convention Center hotel? If he is, he's verifiably out of his mind.
It is hard to believe, but 2009 is just about on the wane. Given the big odometer turn for the millennium, the decade change that's about to come with 2010 has been sneaking up on us.