This page contains all entries posted to Jack Bog's Blog in January 2011. They are listed from newest to oldest.
December 2010 is the previous archive.
February 2011 is the next archive.
Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.
Somebody was bound to do it, but we're glad it wasn't us: Willamette Week has decided to reveal the identity of Neil Goldschmidt's now-deceased statutory rape victim. It's been on the internet for a while, if you knew where to look. (For example, just run a search for "Dunham" through this document -- incompetently redacted.)
If this helps us figure out who knew about the prolonged abuse of this teenager and covered up for Goldschmidt -- whose many friends still run Portland, if not all of Oregon -- the additional details may turn out to play a legitimate role in shaping the future of our civic life. But we doubt that it will, and if it doesn't, what's the point?
UPDATE, 10:12 p.m.: Utterly fascinating -- now the O has an extensive story by Margie Boule on the wire. Willy Week apparently has one or more moles inside the O, and WW flashed some of its story this afternoon, probably so that it could get at least something on the internet before the daily did.
Like everyone else, we will read Ms. Boule's version. But after that newspaper's stunningly corrupt handling of this story over several decades -- particularly the way it portrayed the "affair" when the whistle was finally being blown -- we would not trust anything the O published about Neil Goldschmidt, or anything he touched, ever.
To those of us who wanted a public option, the health care law passed by Congress last year was a bitter disappointment. Now another judge has held it unconstitutional.
Are we supposed to be outraged by the court's holding? Given our belief that the Democratic Congress should have spent more time on goals like rolling back the obscene Bush tax cuts, we're just not feeling all that upset.
The Portland Development Commission on Wednesday voted to commit $540,000 to the effort. The Oregon Growth Account committed $50,000 and the city of Hillsboro committed $250,000. The balance will be raised from individual investors, public agencies and other investors....
Even if an investment pays off, taxpayers will not directly benefit. State law prohibits governments from investing directly in private firms and any money repaid will be reinvested in future efforts....
"We do expect the majority of these companies to flame out or exit very quickly," said Jim Huston, a Bridge City partner.
Guess who gets to play with your Portland leaf tax check
An observant, and concerned, reader writes:
I finally broke down and paid the "Leaf Tax" after the third bill threatening to send me to collections. (And I did not get it together to clear my Laurelhurst street front.) Guess what -- we made the check payable to the "Bureau of Transportation" but the endorsed check was cashed by the "City of Portland Water Bureau." The piggy bank only grows...
Here it is a Sunday, and for the first time in 21 weeks, there are no pro football games to think about. To fill the void, it's time to announce the last charity beneficiary of our pro football underdog pool -- the big $500 prize for first place.
Our winner, Gary, has not disappointed. He has asked that we split the top prize as follows:
Those of us who were around Portland at Christmastime in 1978 remember when a commercial jet airliner headed for a landing ran out of fuel and crashed on East Burnside at 158th. Ten people died, and 23 were seriously injured. One guy I knew at the time was on board; he walked away but never wanted to talk about it.
Anyway, that horrifying story has a bit of a happy ending, here.
This is disturbing. Oregon Treasurer Ted Wheeler is whining about how much money it's costing to investigate his "masters of the universe" investment gurus over playing fast and loose with expense accounts and conflicts of interest. They should be above the ethics laws, according to Ted, as long as their own department let them get away with any stunts they were pulling.
Part of the problem is that Wheeler has hired a Goldschmidt crony law firm, and some other outside lawyers, to the tune of $91,000 and counting, to defend the accused double-dippers.
Wheeler is barking up the wrong tree. The solution here is not to exempt anybody from the ethics laws. The solution is to have the state not have to hire the outside legal help. Maybe when you play games with your state employee expense account, you should have to pay your own lawyer to defend yourself. That's what appears to be happening to the public meetings law miscreants in Lane County -- the same should go for Wheeler's people and their freebies and credit card maneuvers.
Or maybe accused public employees should get a bright, young, low-priced public defender assigned to help them.
Another appealing possibility is to get half of the Treasury Department's "masters of the universe" off the state payroll altogether. The fees that the state already pays to outside investment advisors are no doubt high enough that it should not need eight or more overpaid in-house people (with monster pensions, no doubt) to do analysis and monitoring of investments (and potentially graft-taking, legal or otherwise).
In any event, our high opinion of Wheeler just went down a notch.
Your gas tax at work: a "green" palace for bureaucrats
The renovation of the Oregon Transportation Department Building by -- surprise! -- Hoffman Construction is slated to cost more than $69 million. "We're going for LEED platinum," says the contractor guy. Oh yeah, buddy -- I have no doubt that you are.
Right after the press conference at which the new Blazer player is introduced and shows off his Blazer jersey, Tonya Harding will appear and hit him in the knee with a club. This will save everyone a lot of time and trouble.
Our post of the other day questioning the steady stream of hot air coming from Oregon Rep. Dave Hunt has triggered a nasty little e-mail exchange with someone named Geoff Sugerman, who as best I can tell is the new "Communications Director for the Oregon House Majority office." (No, I am not making that up. There is such an office and they have at least one paid flack.)
Here's the exchange (so far):
Saw your blog post today. To be sure we made a staff error that left the House Speaker title in the return email (which was corrected by staff in just a few minutes). But you asked a year or two ago to be included on Dave’s list. And now you bash him for sending you an electronic email that has a link to a constituent survey, information about town hall meetings, etc. Would you just like us to take you off the list?
No, please don't take me off any lists.
I'm not bashing anybody. I'm pointing out that Dave does a lot of self-aggrandizing p.r. And he's not alone.
He's not my representative. What is he running for? Why are taxpayers paying for it?
First Jack, there are no taxpayer dollars used in Dave’s annual New Year’s card. And his Constant Contact account is also paid with campaign funds and not tax dollars. Being a Grinch myself, I guess I can kind of understand your objections to receiving a card that wishes you a Happy New Year. Guess most people know not to send you any kind of holiday greeting. We’ll be sure to take you off Dave’s New Year’s card list.
Now let’s talk about the e-newsletter which was the basis of your recent blog post.
As I said, the cost of his Constant Contact account is paid for out of his campaign account. Thus, his e-newsletter is sent without use of any taxpayer dollars. Had you bothered to call and check it out before you wrote your post, I would have been glad to tell you that. As always, if you have questions or want comments about any issues, feel free to call me. I’ve never not returned one of your calls or failed to provide you with any information you requested.
Included in Dave’s newsletter was a constituent survey, including a link to an online survey form and information about Dave’s upcoming town hall meetings. At this town hall meeting over 50 people showed up. Do you object to communicating with constituents about how and when they can meet directly with Dave or asking them for their opinions about how to help the state through this global recession? Also in the newsletter was information about legislation passed in 2009 to allow the state to more closely regulate insurance rate premium increases, information about how the House was successfully organized on opening day, what Dave’s role and committee assignments are this session and a shout-out to Bob of Bob’s Red Mill (which is in Dave’s district) for donating $5 million to OSU.
I completely disagree that this was “self-aggrandizing” and frankly find it hugely ironic that a person who creates their own blog would accuse anyone else of being too self-promoting.
What professionals -- this guy, who we are paying for, and his boss.
Pdxmick has designated the Salvation Army as the recipient of the $75 fourth-place prize in our charity pro football underdog game. That leaves the big enchilada -- the $500 top prize -- and our champ, Gary, is working on that choice as we write this. Knowing him, I can promise readers a quality pick.
As we noted last week, the Portland-to-Milwaukie pointless light rail line is a done deal, as far as the region's insolvent transit agency is concerned. Today they announced that crews will be doing some ground testing over by OMSI starting next Wednesday, which will divert bicyclists to alternate routes for a while. The testing is in preparation of building the new, no-cars bridge across the Willamette, of which we're told construction absolutely will start July 1.
If you ever wonder why government at all levels in this country is broke, you might want to bookmark this page for a readily accessible example.
Oregon State Rep. Dave Hunt keeps reminding us what a force he is in statewide politics. (Or maybe it's just in his own mind.) We've stopped getting his family portrait every year, but oh, the e-mails. Even though he's been defrocked as House Speaker, Hunt's still going to keep us up to date electronically on his latest doings in Salem. And as you can see, he had to correct himself after his first attempt of the year, in which his e-mail return address still showed his old title:
More p.r., less content -- that's Oregon politics these days.
A reader who still does some things the old-fashioned way writes:
Since the feds, in their wisdom, have decided that all American citizens have computers and internet access, and no longer mail out tax forms or instructions or make them available through easy sources like postal stations or library branches, I went out in search of them in downtown Portland today.
Alas, I had forgotten that the Wendall Wyatt/Edith Green Federal Building is getting a facelift, and when I arrived, the place was empty, barricaded and crawling with construction equipment.
There were no signs to tell people where to go to find the temporary offices of the IRS in downtown.
Luckily, an elderly lady who was in the same boat that I and two others milling around were, asked someone who worked nearby. He pointed to a glass building about 3 blocks away and told us, "That's the place, but you have to go around to First to get in."
We trooped over to the building in question, which looked completely vacant on the first floor with lease signs plastered hither and yon. There was no address over the main entrance -- Just "First and Main Building." No signs saying anything about, "Here's where you get your Income Tax Forms or Assistance!"
In the spare lobby at a long desk sat a lone security attendant. When we asked him where to find IRS forms, he said (without a smile), "The 13th floor. Take the elevators over there." Still no signs, but the elevator took us to the 13th floor, where I found a wall of forms and instructional books.
In one sense, it was better than the Wyatt/Green building because there was no x-raying, removal of belts and all metal, etc. unless one wanted to go through to actually interact with the IRS personnel and ask questions. If you only want forms -- as I did -- you can simply grab them and leave.
Another interesting touch... the first floor in that building is not the ground floor. A note pasted to the elevator buttons cautioned anybody wanting to return to street level to press "G" -- apparently for "ground" and not "garage."
All in all, I think we should have received a rebate or extra credit for having figured this all out.
Think of it this way, buddy: You didn't have to pay your share for an eco-wall. Count your blessings.
I see you have posted the whereabouts of the infamous Welches con man on your blog over the past few years. If you're still interested in keeping people up on him, he tried to hit me up in the parking lot of Fred Meyer on 66th & Glisan, last night about 6:45 p.m.
We've been noting with amusement how the Port of Portland and the City of Portland are doing a major song and dance to hide the fact that they've already decided to pave over a good chunk of wildlife habitat on the west end of Hayden Island for some sort of shipping terminal. We've been speculating that it would be a coal terminal to ship Montana and Wyoming coal to China.
Today we get a firm-sounding pair of e-mails from one of the Port's public relations people, Josh Thomas, swearing that whatever kind of facility goes in there, it won't be a coal terminal:
Good morning Mr. Bogdanski,
I represent the Port of Portland, and I am writing to clarify that we do not currently export coal and will have no plans to do so in the future. Yesterday’s post titled “To kill a bald eagle” suggests otherwise. There may be some confusion over what a consultant listed as potential future growth commodities in a recent report, but that analysis does not translate to local involvement with those cargo types. There is a proposed project in Longview, Washington, and active facilities at Canadian ports, but a coal terminal is off the table for existing and future Port of Portland facilities.
Media Relations Manager, Marine and Industrial Development
Port of Portland
To which I replied:
By "off the table," is that a specific promise by the Port of Portland that it will not site a coal terminal on Hayden Island? If not, you'll pardon my skepticism.
Thomas wrote back:
Yes, "off the table" means just that -- the Port will not site a coal terminal there.
It's nice to know that we're not trading bald eagles for acid rain. Exactly what we are trading them for, however -- other than fat construction contracts for the Port's West Hills buddies -- is still not clear.
Gordon, the fifth place finisher in our charity pro football underdog game, has designated $50 of the pool to go to the Oregon Food Bank. We're still waiting on Gary and pdxmick to steer the first ($500) and fourth ($75) place loot. Guys, are you out there?
Meanwhile, we thought we'd noodle around and see how many winning picks the top five finishers had -- testing our hypothesis that it's better for a player to have a few huge winners than a bunch of small ones. Here's how many victories the top players actually got credit for in the 20 weeks of the game:
1. Gary - 78 points - 10 winners - average winner 7.8
2. Biggest Cubs Loser - 62.5 points - 10 winners - average winner 6.25
3. Andy - 62 points - 10 winners - average winner 6.2
4. pdxmick - 61.5 points - 11 winners - average winner 5.59
5. Gordon - 61 points - 8 winners - average winner 7.63
6. Flowers by Dorcas - 56.5 points - 9 winners - average winner 6.28
7. Larry Legend - 56 points - 8 winners - average winner 7
Top 7 players - 437.5 points - 66 winners - average winner 6.63
In week 20, no underdogs prevailed, and so there were only 19 possible weeks for a win. The highest possible score would have been 158.
I'm not sure what these stats prove, other than I'm going through spreadsheet withdrawal now that the game is over.
The acquisition makes good on a recommendation in the district's November 2006 Comprehensive Plan, which stated that relocation of the Maintenance Operations center would help the district "more cost-effectively conduct operations and make better use of land at the HMT site."
THPRD's total investment in the facility, including acquisition and construction costs, is about $8.7 million. The district is financing the bulk of these costs through tax-exempt Recovery Zone Economic Development Bonds, which were issued at below-market interest rates. The district is using system development charges to finance the portion of the property dedicated to recreational purposes.
The facility, located on THPRD property off 112th Ave. near Highway 217, will include a new natural-grass field to be used exclusively by the Timbers and a synthetic turf field designated for public use....
The adidas Timbers Training Center will feature a 6,000-square-foot indoor facility that will include locker rooms, training areas and office space for the MLS club....
As part of the public/private partnership with THPRD, the Timbers will make an annual donation to the Tualatin Hills Park Foundation and will conduct a series of annual youth soccer camps and coaches’ clinics at the new training center.
Initial construction of the adidas Timbers Training Center is anticipated to commence in the coming weeks with completion expected as early as this summer. Once completed, the Timbers will train at both the Beaverton facility and PGE Park.
His Lordship sure does like taking over those public park properties. Just think of what he and Fireman Randy could have gotten done in Lents, if it hadn't been for the haters.
The new look of Willamette Week's website includes one feature that we've been wishing for since forever: a workable RSS feed of its news blog. Here it is, a welcome addition (albeit with a kink or two to be ironed out).
The cleanup of nuclear waste at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, along the Columbia River in south central Washington State, is a financial black hole, and the people running it don't really know what they're doing.
Corporations.... corporations who need corporations...
Now that we know that corporations are "persons" for purposes of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, do they also have "personal privacy" rights? The Supreme Court will tell us soon. Who knows? Maybe this gal will get her wish.
We'll be the only place on earth with this "system," but somehow drivers from all over will know what it means when they come to Portland.
Sound workable? Well, at least it gives the city another excuse to throw some more oddball markings on the roads -- the constant reminder that you are under the power of Earl the Pearl, the Sam-Rand Twins, and the proud weirdos who now rule the city. Go by unicycle!
Three reported hit in shootout in Cully neighborhood
On NE 60th, just north of Prescott. According to police:
At approximately 12:45 a.m. this morning, January 24, 2011, Portland Police responded to a shots fired call in the 4500 hundred block of Northeast Halsey Street. [NOTE: This appears to be the wrong address; the bar in question is near the five-way intersection of Prescott and 60th. -- J.B.] Employees from J D's Bar and Grill told police two groups of males had been arguing inside the club and continued their argument outside the club when shots were fired. Three males were shot and transported to area hospitals. One male victim was shot in the chest, one male victim was shot in the abdomen and one male victim was shot in the arm.
Witnesses from the club told arriving officers that the suspects left the shooting scene in a black Chrysler 300 model vehicle. Gresham Officers located the vehicle near Northeast 181st Avenue and Northeast Halsey Street and attempted to stop the car. The driver of the vehicle pulled into an Arco gas station near that location. The passenger of the vehicle ran from the traffic stop. The male driver was taken into custody at the vehicle stop location and the male passenger was eventually taken into custody north of the vehicle stop. Names are not available at this time but both men appear to be 25 to 30 years old.
Police believe this incident is gang related and Gang Enforcement Investigators are in route to investigate this shooting. Officers remain at the original shooting location in the 4500 block of Northeast Halsey Street and the vehicle stop location at Northeast 181st Avenue and Northeast Halsey Street in Gresham while Forensic Evidence Division Criminalists collect evidence and Gang Enforcement Investigators begin their investigation into this shooting.
A reader, who places the incident on 60th just north of Prescott, writes at just about the same time or shortly thereafter:
More than ten shots, in several sets. Woman crying over man on ground, was standing for 30 seconds before going down. Later, medic tells another, we have at least three people down (I am thinking this might mean three hit). Really low pulse on one victim.
As happened last year, neither underdog prevailed in the pro football conference championships today, and so last week's standings become the final standings in our charity pool. Congratulations to our winners:
1. Gary - 78 - $500 to favorite charity
2. Biggest Cubs Loser - 62.5 - $165 to favorite charity
3. Andy - 62 - $100 to favorite charity
4. pdxmick - 61.5 - $75 to favorite charity
5. Gordon - 61 - $50 to favorite charity
If the winners will let me know who those charities are -- they must be section 501(c)(3) organizations -- we'll get the prize checks out this week.
Interesting that only a point and a half separated second and fifth places. Thanks to everybody who played:
When a study came out this past week showing that Portland's traffic congestion was 23rd worst in the nation -- and that its commuter stress ranking was 12th worst -- the local mainstream media promptly passed the word along. But the army of p.r. flacks at Metro, the area's oddball regional government, jumped up with a quick rejoinder, patting the agency on its own back. In a press release, spokesperson Karen Kane wrote:
In 1990, a trip in the Portland area estimated to take 20 minutes in free-flow traffic took 22.4 minutes in rush hour, or peak traffic (4 to 6 p.m.). By 2000, that number rose to 25.2 minutes, but in 2009, the same trip was shortened to 24.6 minutes despite metropolitan population growth adding more than 300,000 people in the last decade. By creating transportation options and planning for compact growth, Portland has reduced the length of its average commute, saving drivers time and money.
Was it "creating transportation options and planning for compact growth" that knocked a few cars off the road? Or was it the 10.6% unemployment?
Of course, Metro's paid "reporter" also weighed in, bending over backward to be "neutral." Your tax dollars are hard at work, folks.
Here we are, in the last week of this season's charity pro football underdog pool. Thanks to our players and a friendly supporter, we're about to send $890 to some worthy causes, all because a group of folks who frequent this blog enjoy trying to prognosticate winning NFL underdogs every weekend during football season.
First place is locked up, but the players occupying seats 2 through 5 could all see a shuffle depending on what happens today. Here are everyone's picks:
3.5 CHICAGO vs. Green Bay - Doug, Sattelihu, Anthony, Hank, john dull, Larry Legend, Flowers by Dorcas, pdxmick, Ricardo, genop, genop's gal, Michael K., Gary, Andy
3.5 NEW YORK JETS at Pittsburgh - Nick, Flowers by Dorcas Husband, AKevin, Biggest Cubs Loser, Bad Brad, Gordon, Broadway Joe, Annie, Drewbob, Paul
If both the Jets and the Bears win, or if they both lose, the current standings become final. But if one of them wins and the other loses, places 2 through 5 shift, as follows:
There is also a fair amount of jostling for position in the lower ranks of the standings, and since our game is a lot about bragging rights and glory, those matchups are not to be overlooked. Flowers by Dorcas vs. Flowers by Dorcas Husband -- today will decide who's superior. And Drewbob's late (and disqualified) 14-point Dallas pick in Week 10 would have put him in fourth place currently; with the Jets today, he would be vying for third. Genop and his gal also showed up late one week and missed some points, as I recall. All great food for thought as we settle in to watch the Big Daddies.
The folks who picked the Bears today need a Bears-Steelers Super Bowl to advance, whereas the folks who picked the Jets are hoping for Jets-Packers. Can the Jets and the Packers both win on the road today? In the past 40 years, the two road teams have both won their championship games only twice, the last time in 1997-1998 (Denver and Green Bay). But this is no normal year in the NFL, and so it should be quite an interesting brace of pigskin contests.
Once again, our prizes:
First prize - $500 to player's favorite charity
Second prize - $165 to player's favorite charity
Third prize - $100 to player's favorite charity
Fourth prize - $75 to player's favorite charity
Fifth prize - $50 to player's favorite charity
Good luck, and enjoy the games, everybody.
UPDATE, 3:53 p.m.: With the Bears' demise, Biggest Cubs Loser clinches second place -- congratulations. If the Jets win, Gordon will leapfrog two players to take third.
An alert reader sends along this article from the Oregonian, published on March 3, 1910:
The streetcar is all about the real estate developers -- always has been, always will be. Only back then, they didn't have, or need, the vague greenwash that Earl the Pearl and his pals use to sell it today.
Tri-Met board goes full steam ahead on Milwaukie MAX
Although opponents of the mystery train to Portland's southeast suburb swear that the rail project may still be abandoned, you'd never tell that from the agenda for next week's Tri-Met board of directors meeting:
Resolution 11-01-04 Authorizing Four On-call Contracts for Environmental Site Assessments on the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Project
Resolution 11-01-05 Authorizing Contracts with Emerick Construction Company, Konell Construction and Demolition Corporation, Staton Companies, and Westech Construction, Inc. for On-Call Demolition Services
Resolution 11-01-06 Authorizing a Contract with CH2M Hill, Inc., a Corporation of Florida, for Engineering Services for the West Segment of the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Project
Resolution 11-01-07 Authorizing a Contract with David Evans and Associates, Inc. for Engineering Services for the East Segment of the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Project
Resolution 11-01-08 Authorizing a Contract with LTK Engineering Services for Systems Engineering Final Design Services and Design Services During Construction for the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Project
Resolution 11-01-09 Authorizing a Contract with Kenndy/Jenks Consultants, Inc. for Engineering Services for Relocation of Portland Water Bureau Facilities for the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Project
Resolution 11-01-10 Authorizing a Modification to the Intergovernmental Agreement with the City of Portland for Design and Construction Management Services for the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Project
Resolution 11-01-11 Authorizing a Contract with Stacy and Witbeck, Inc./Mowat Construction Company, a Joint Venture for Construction Manager/General Contractor Services for the West Segment of the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Project
Resolution 11-01-12 Authorizing a Contract with Stacy and Witback, Inc. for Construction Manager/General Contractor Services for the East Segment of the Portland-Milwaukie Light Rail Project
They are obviously rushing to get to "Too late to turn back now" before the project's infeasibility becomes apparent. And it sure looks as though they are going to get there. What a waste.
A reader who works for the City of Portland reports that the mayor's insane "leaf removal fee" program ran up big expenses and did not bring in much income. Even if you omit what it actually costs to sweep the leaves, just the administration costs have far outstripped what's been collected.
Through December 31, the reader says, less than $50,000 was collected, whereas the city's revenue bureau was reporting costs of about $49,000 in administering the collections. Over in the transportation bureau, around another $35,000 of expense was reported for printing, copying, postage, even special delivery charges. That's $34,000 in the hole before counting what it cost to send the equipment out to do the work (which the reader estimates was about $600,000).
But hey, it's only money. And the city got to alienate more residents, which seems to be almost a core value for this administration. The collective nervous breakdown of a nice town continues.
UPDATE, 1/29, 10:51 p.m.: It appears that our source here was wrong. Surprisingly, the city appears to have collected far more than the source reported.
With ties to the U of O, its sports teams, the Seahawks, and a regional charter bus operation, this sordid story out of Seattle -- shades of Bernie Madoff -- ought to be of interest to folks in the Beaver State.
Oregon has busted a Portland guy for casting his dead brother's ballot in the state's Pollyanna vote-by-mail system. Part of the official press release yesterday was interesting:
"I want to ensure all Oregonians that any type of fraud in Oregon’s election system is very rare and when identified taken very seriously," said Secretary of State Kate Brown. "Any attempt to violate election laws will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law."
Hmmm. We know that prosecution for election fraud in Oregon is "very rare." But is abuse of vote-by-mail "very rare"? To us, that's far from clear.
Lake O. streetcar foes eye Monday evening showdown
One of the opponents of the proposed $458 million* streetcar from Portland to Lake Oswego writes:
Last night the Lake Oswego Neighborhood Action Coalition held a forum re. the Streetcar, and roughly 70 people showed up -- almost all of whom expressed opposition. The discussion was substantive and fact-based, though Roger Martin, who was there representing the pro-Streetcar side, really struggled to try to defend it on its merits. John Charles from the Cascade Policy Institute made a very compelling case that there is, in fact, no transit benefit for the community in this project (but, of course, we already knew that this is really about development and Homer Williams!).
Monday night there is a very important public hearing being held before the project Steering Committee. While, as usual, the SC is a stacked deck, I think it is really important that they, and other elected officials hear loud and clear that the community doesn't want this. I know that you have lots of fans in Lake O, and am wondering if you would be willing to put something on the blog about the hearing and the need for people to show up and testify:
5 to 8 pm, Monday, January 24th
Lakewood Center for the Arts
368 S. State Street
A reader of the female persuasion sends us this remembrance:
Watching events in Tunisia has triggered a wave of memories that keeps surging and regressing, each time leaving new mementos thrown up from the depths lying under the still surface of my memory.
The first moment I recall from my year in Tunisia was of happiness, the first I had experienced after years of a difficult adolescence. I was sitting overlooking the view from the historic village of Sidi Bou Said, where the dreamy blue expanse of the sea and sky suffused my mood, turning it into a widening, quiet euphoria.
I was seventeen, postponing college in the US for a year, and on the advice of the Tunisian principal of my high school, had enrolled to study Arabic at the language school at the University of Tunis, which had the best program of its kind in the region and drew people from all over the world.
There is too much to say about that year, but some snippets stand out. Making spaghetti on an electric burner in the dorm room I shared for half the year with three Tunisian girls. I moved out to an apartment mid-year with my friend Raoudha. One dorm roomate, a girl named Souad, cried when I left. I couldn't understand then, but I do now. She was a girl from a remote village, and needed someone to talk to. Raoudha and I cooked and laughed and ate almonds and dates and oranges from her family's farm. When my English childhood friend Neil visited from London, we had to hide him in the closet when Rhaoudha's father dropped by unexpectedly. My Arabic professor was a virtuoso teacher, also sad; she took ill during the year. When I visited her at home, I got a glimpse of the husband she had whispered to me about, I saw the fear in her eyes, but a beautiful resilience shone there too. I had a Tunisian boyfriend; he was the sensitive artist type, a talented theater director, whose salary was so small it was practically insulting. More than twenty years after I left Tunisia, I saw his name in the credits of "The English Patient" as artistic director of the North African set, and I cried.
There was 60% unemployment. The dictator for life, Bourguiba, was in his 80's, and his photograph was literally everywhere. Every single night film footage came up on the television of him recounting his exploits against the Nazis and the French forty years prior. Despair and resignation lay heavily in the air. Sexual frustration bristled.
Leaving Tunisia was bittersweet for me. I would not miss the relentless sexual harassment I witnessed and experienced daily. One of my last days there I was walking down the street carrying groceries. Having developed a sixth sense, I spun around, swinging my bag as I turned, to avert being pinched by a male, who turned out to be about 10 or 12. As I turned to confront him as he crouched, his outstretched hand inches from my buttocks, he laughed and ran off the sidewalk and into the street, where he was hit by a car and thrown a ways into the air, falling hard to the ground. He lay motionless. The passengers quickly scooped him up and raced him off to the hospital. I stood rooted, staring, while a woman came up to me and demanded why I would do such I thing to a child, he was a little boy. People gathered around me, mostly adolescents; I tried to say something, nothing came out. Suddenly, water was being splashed in my face. An elderly man in traditional dress was soothing me, it's not your fault, he said. The people dispersed. One adolescent walked a ways with me, and kept asking me if I was OK.
It's amusing to watch Oregonian writers continue to deny that Portland's downtown is going nowhere fast. Here's a story about a minor shuffling of some retail space in the downtown core, but you can bet the cheerleaders at the O will put a gigantic happy face on it:
Much of the looming change is positive news for a district already encouraged by a strong holiday sales season and continued signs of economic recovery.
The place has more "For Lease" signs in it than we've seen in 30 years here. The scene down there is far from positive. But you'll never hear anything but happy talk about downtown from the city's daily newspaper.
A much more ominous segment of the article is this revelation:
Portland's Goodman family is pushing for a total makeover of its Kress Building and Kress Annex on Southwest Morrison Street between Southwest Fourth and Fifth avenues.
Why am I thinking that the Portland taxpayers will wind up paying for that? Just a crazy hunch.
Out in Beaverton, developer Mark Edlen and developer welfare facilitator Don "the Don" Mazziotti are singing "Me and My Shadow" together -- just like the good old days of setting up the Portland taxpayers for what was going to be the vibrant new SoWhat District (and we know how well that one worked out):
One of [Mayor Denny] Doyle’s incomplete points was the creation of a master plan for the area including The Round at Beaverton Central, more broadly defined as the area north of Tualatin-Valley Highway between Hall and Cedar Hills boulevards.
"We did not get a master plan in place for the area around The Round. We are going to correct that this year," Doyle said. At Tuesday night’s meeting, City Council approved a contract with developer Gerding Edlen, which will serve as the master developer on this project. The city plans to use an EcoDistrict planning model on this area, focusing on sustainable projects and private/public partnerships.
"The EcoDistrict is going to be a real plus to change the image and concept of what’s around The Round," Doyle said.
Oh, yeah. A real linchpin. The voters of Beaverton deserve what they get next.
Here's another chapter in the troubling story of the bizarre conduct of Portland west side Congressman David Wu: After the O's Jeff Mapes embedded YouTube videos of Wu's recent controversial speech, the owner of the videos quickly took them down from YouTube:
Another way Portland sewer fees are diverted to toy projects
In case you were too busy with Christmas to be bothered with it, here's a suggestion, by the city auditor of all people, that the Portland sewer bureau stop overpaying the city's transportation bureau for sewer inspection services. Guess that's been another means whereby part of our outrageous sewer bills has been funneled to the streetcars, bike goodies, and other pet projects of the transportation gurus.
Think that situation will get fixed any time soon?
Meanwhile, here's a funny one, although it loads a mite slow -- apparently, it's an official PowerPoint presentation on the many unpaved streets in the Woodstock neighborhood in the southeast part of town. The city's not about to pave them, because the bureaucrats say the people down there don't want them paved. "Think of it as a a wonderful part of the neighborhood's culture." "Just add compost bins."
We wrote a bit yesterday about Nick Christensen, the fellow whom Portland's Metro government has hired as its in-house "reporter." We allowed as how we didn't think this was all that worrisome a development, although we did wonder whether he might have a conflict of interest down the road as the president of the Lents Neighborhood Association.
But then somebody steered us to this bombastic piece that he wrote last week on BlueOregon. If he were a Metro public relations officer, he probably wouldn't have been allowed to do that -- surely Metro policy forbids its spokespeople from speaking out so forcefully on public issues. But as a "reporter," he is free to do so? It just doesn't hold together.
Several folks have testified that Christensen is a capable, thoughtful, fair-minded guy, and we have no reason to dispute that. But his position raises so many issues, we can't see how he'll survive in it for long.
Leonard pitched building the Water House... In October 2009, Shaff, the bureau administrator, told the council that the city would spend $200,000 on the house and sell it for $400,000. That sale price, he said, was the median value in the area. However, data from the Regional Multiple Listing Service pegged the median value in that ZIP code then at $211,000.
The city also had no budget for the house, said Tom Klutz, the bureau's project manager. Klutz put one together only after The Oregonian requested one in December, just weeks before the house was finished.
Klutz's budget shows the city's costs far exceeded estimates. The city expects to spend $625,367 on the house, including $413,060 on contractors and supplies, and $212,307 on staff time. Contractors donated an additional $154,016 in materials and labor, and city officials estimate the land is worth $105,000...
Real estate broker Tony Matic, who reviewed sale prices in the area, said the Water House would sell for well under $300,000, a loss of hundreds of thousands of dollars to ratepayers.
Curiously, less than a month ago the city apparently told Willamette Week that the house cost about $310,000 to build. The price seems to have doubled in just a few weeks.
It's a mere part of the Water Bureau mission creep story, the rest of which is pretty capably told here. (He left out the fact that the water bureau also enforces the city's mandatory biodiesel rules -- another questionable idea having nothing to do with water. Water runs whatever The Boss tells it to run.) It might be time for the water ratepayers to take some sort of action -- symbolic, legal, or otherwise.
Pushing envelope on open meetings law suddenly gets spendy
Here's a story that's going to shake some politicians and public board members up, but good: A judge has held two Lane County commissioners personally liable for hundreds of thousands of dollars in attorney's fees in a lawsuit accusing them of violating the state's public meetings law dispute. The pair were found to have "scripted" their vote ahead of time.
Which, of course, is what most public bodies in Oregon do. I remember the Portland Development Commission meeting where the board members took a bunch of public testimony and then immediately announced their decision on the matter, reading from extensive prepared scripts.
Just because the commissioners are careful to meet only one on one isn't enough, according to the judge, to ensure compliance with the open meetings law.
You can bet that all your favorite politicians and bureaucrats will be reading the written opinion when it comes out. In the meantime, the Eugene paper has great coverage here.
We've known this since we first saw him in action nearly 30 years ago. His past is checkered, his political career has had some sleazy moments, and his present reportedly finds him going off the deep end. Pulling rank on airport security? It might be time for a new congressperson out that way, to give him time for some rest and counseling.
The California retread governor's sensible call to put a halt to expensive "urban renewal" schemes has the developer welfare types in the city halls of the Golden State scrambling to protect their slush funds. The revolution, it seems, will not be preceded by a charrette.
Some questions to ask about the SoWhat immigration jail
At tomorrow afternoon's Portland City Council hearing on the immigration "processing center" (heh) that's proposed to go in near a charter school in the city's failed South Waterfront District, apparently there are going to be some officials on hand from everybody's sweetheart agency, federal Immigration, to answer questions.
A reader who doesn't like the idea of this jail in that neighborhood sends along some suggested questions:
You refer to the new building as a processing center and not a detention center. For how long are people generally detained on a given day? How long are they in the building before they are transported to Tacoma?
I hear that most of the aliens who are detained in the building are criminals. How many of these criminals are released on bond or through some other alternate detention system (ankle monitors)? Average per week?
What are the crimes the aliens have committed? Felonies or misdemeanors? What percentage are felonies?
Has there been any consideration regarding available parking for the family and friends who come to the building to post bonds for the criminal aliens or visit them?
The South Waterfront District has a lot of higher end condos and a school nearby. Is it really appropriate for individuals who have been convicted of sex offenses or narcotic violations to be in this community neighborhood?
For the criminal aliens released on bond or alternate detention systems, how often are they required to report to the building and meet with deportation officers? How many per week are reporting?
They all sound like fair questions to us (except for the repeated "alien" part, which is heavy-handed). Of course, anyone who wants to ask these questions will have to endure some serious glare from Fireman Randy, the apparent inside promoter on the project, which will enrich a private developer. Good luck with that.
Having enflamed the cyclists with his proposal to ban toddlers in bicycle trailers, now Oregon Rep. Mitch Greenlick wants a 6-cent sales tax on a can of soda. Ah, where the nanny state meets the PERS black hole. Perfect, Mitch! Got any other lead balloons with ya?
First prize - $500 to player's favorite charity
Second prize - $165 to player's favorite charity
Third prize - $100 to player's favorite charity
Fourth prize - $75 to player's favorite charity
Fifth prize - $50 to player's favorite charity
In order to move up in the rankings in this final week, not only do you have to pick a winning 'dog, but it has to be a different winning 'dog from the player ahead of you. Makes for some interesting strategy issues -- but your 'dog also has to win while the other player's loses. Last year, neither 'dog (7.5 NY JETS at Indianapolis or 4 MINNESOTA at New Orleans) prevailed.
Even if they're out of the "money," we encourage all our players to throw in a final pick. Play for pride, people! And good luck, everybody.
UPDATE, 6:15 p.m.: One interesting wrinkle this time around is that both 'dogs score the same number of points for an outright win. And so if you pick a winner this weekend, nobody can pass you on their way up the chart.
As usual, the latest bad news about Portland's wayward police force was published by the city's daily newspaper at 6:00 p.m. on Friday -- the start of a three-day holiday weekend. This supposed coincidence happens a few times a year, it seems. For those of you who missed the two stories, here's a recap:
Ronald Frashour, the officer who was fired after needlessly shooting an unarmed man in the back last January (subject to union appeal, of course), has cost the city's taxpayers another $44,000 over his ramming the wrong cruiser with his police car in a cowboy move a few summers ago. Maybe someone should have realized that he wasn't the best guy to send out with the shotgun to a suicide-by-cop scenario.
Meanwhile, a $500,000 lawsuit has been laid on the city over sexual harassment of a teenage girl by fired officer Joseph Wild (yes, that's his real name), on a city-provided cell phone two years ago.
An alert reader sends along this drawing of the layout of the part of the proposed "office building" (heh) in Portland's South Waterfront District that's going to be devoted to detaining accused immigration violators under armed guard awaiting their appearances before a judge elsewhere in the building:
Holding tanks big enough for dozens of the incarcerated, extensive visitation facilities, closed circuit surveillance... and will there be arrays of bars instead of walls to hold the shackled "detainees" in? Sure looks like a jail from here.
The City Council will dress the windows on this one tomorrow afternoon at 2. The Sam Rand Twins will be all in, but it will be fun to watch Fish and Fritz put on the pained Francesconi look before they vote yes.
There's a heavy conversation going on in some quarters of town today over the "news" that Metro, Portland's extra special layer of government, has hired Nick Christensen as a "reporter," to cover the goings-on at Metro, supposedly from a neutral perspective. It's been known for months that Metro was planning to do this, but now that the guy's on the job at $26 an hour, without benefits, the O has written it up and some of the usual hens are clucking.
To us, it is hardly surprising. The mastermind behind the move is Metro's chief flack, Jim Middaugh, who is a dyed-in-the-wool member of GIGL -- the Goofball Ideas in Government League, founded by the now-departed Portland commissioner, Erik Sten. Middaugh, as you'll recall, ran unsuccessfully for the Portland City Council on the taxpayers' dime three years ago as part of Sten's quixotic and short-lived "clean money" experiment. (Although Sten tipped him off early to the impending vacancy to give him a head start on his opponents, he still lost.) Now Middaugh's apparently read a magazine article somewhere that says an agency having its own "reporter" is a cool thing to do. And so onto the public pad goes Christensen.
Is it harmful? Aw, heck no. As long as this fellow's readers understand that he's a paid flack, and that everything he writes is as suspect as a press release from the Metro bureaucrats themselves, who cares? Just remember that if he ever got too far off the company line, this experiment would be terminated with extreme prejudice.
Moreover, Christensen might do a better job covering Metro than the mainstream media itself. Given the many puff pieces emanating from the O these days, you wonder whether the younger writers over there are learning how to do more than rewrite government press releases, anyway.
No, don't miss the bigger story here: how much money state and local government is paying for public relations and public information flacks these days. Somebody needs to start running a tally of how many millions the government is spending on Tweeters, press release writers, spokespersons, "reporters," and other spin doctors. Not to mention what they shell out for the Gard and Gerber-type outside flacks, "branding" specialists, poll-takers, and media strategists. There's no doubt that it is many, many millions of dollars every year. Just how many millions would make an interesting read. Now, there's a summer project -- somebody got a grant for that?
There's a lot of harm done by the size of the government p.r. machine. For one thing, it eats up perfectly good tax dollars that ought to be spent on... you know... actually governing... rather than sitting around making announcements. Is it all that important that the whole world hear the exciting news that Nick Fish gave a speech at some banquet over the weekend? Fix a pothole with that money.
But more importantly, it seems that there are now more government-paid flacks than there are professional journalists. If you wonder why the members of the mainstream media let the politicians and bureaucrats get away with murder, keep in mind that those politicians and bureaucrats may be the journalists' next paycheck, in desperate times. And everybody in the picture knows it. It's a sad state of affairs.
We wondered if there would be some last-minute pardons by Oregon's outgoing chief executive. There were, to go along with several others over the course of his governorship. The complete list of 15 "clemency" grants in his last two years in office is here.
No, Neil Goldschmidt and Portland's several killer cops aren't on the list. You can't There's no need to pardon somebody who was never prosecuted for anything to begin with.
As Portland gears up for the groundbreaking of the riverfront greenway planned for the city's South Waterfront District, city commissioner Nick Fish today unveiled the official boat of the district -- the S.S. Homer Williams. "This is the perfect capstone to the development of the city's vital new neighborhood," Fish told reporters. He also pointed out that the watercraft has applied for triple-LEED platinum certification.
When not being used for ceremonial purposes, the vessel will double as part of the city fire bureau's new fleet of rescue boats.
All the rain between here and Mount Hood has stirred up too much sediment in Portland's Bull Run reservoir, and so the water bureau has switched the supply over to the wells out by the airport. Up on the mountain, some 24-hour rainfall totals are upwards of 8 inches. Rough holiday weekend for the ski resorts and their patrons.
The Jets' exciting upset of the Patriots moves two players into the "money" in our charity pro football underdog game. With just a week to go -- a week in which there will be only two choices -- the leaders in our game are as follows:
Biggest Cubs Loser 62.5
Flowers by Dorcas 56.5
Flowers by Dorcas Husband 56
Larry Legend 54.5
john dull 52
With the top five players getting to designate our pot to their favorite charities, everything but first place appears to be unsettled, at least until we see this week's lines on Tuesday. Strategy galore for the big finale!
He bought The Mountain Shop three years ago and has struggled to find a way to keep the longtime Portland outdoors store open. This past year, he said, the city installed one-hour parking meters in front of his Lloyd Center district store, signaling for him the time to make a change.
He'll close the store next year and reopen a few miles away, leaving a corner the shop has called home for 74 years. Though Pietka expects as much as a 30 percent drop in sales, the move to Northeast 37th Avenue between Sandy Boulevard and Broadway will save $7,000 a month in rent.
No doubt the meters will follow him there soon, to go along with the new sort-of soup kitchen a few blocks away. Small business can run, but it can't hide from the Sam-Rand City Hall. Go by streetcar!
There is very little shared experience in the nation now; there are only competing versions of the experience, consumed in such a way as to confirm whatever preconceptions you already have, rather than to make you reflect on them.
If they build the psychedelic mystery train from Portland to Milwaukie, the rail types want some unidentified private party to build a cutesy train station down at the suburban end.
"The main thing is to salvage the line, and anything that can be done with private funds would really be great, especially by getting as many people at the station to improve crime issues and revitalize the downtown area," said Michole Jensen, transportation chair of the Ardenwald-Johnson Creek Neighborhood Association.
Did he just say "salvage"? Did he say "crime issues"? Holy cow, it almost sounds like the truth.
The first episode of the Portlandia TV show is now out on the intertubes, and many folks in these parts will no doubt be embedding it on their websites. Willy Week's got it here, and Brandon's got it here.
We've gotten about halfway through it so far, and find it both amusing and depressingly real.
Federal prosecutors in hot water in Ashland terror funding case
Here's a seriously ugly moment for Oregon's federal prosecutors. This past summer, they successfully prosecuted an Iranian-American man from Ashland on conspiracy and tax fraud charges. He was convicted of diverting money, supposedly being used for humanitarian causes, to militant groups rebelling in Chechnya. But now it turns out that the government admits it withheld documents from the defense, and that the FBI quietly paid thousands of dollars to the husband of a key witness in the case.
Although claiming that the new evidence shouldn't change the outcome of the trial, the U.S. attorney's office is now dropping its opposition to letting the man, Pete Seda, also known as Pirouz Sedaghaty, out of the slammer pending further proceedings. This move is a bit startling in light of the government's contention that he is a flight risk. Seda was out of the country when he was indicted.
The day the guilty verdict came in from the Eugene jury, the assistant U.S. attorney prosecuting the case, Christopher Cardani, said "[W]e think he got a very fair trial" and was quoted as declaring that "the verdict showed that the U.S. criminal justice system, with its public courtrooms and lay jurors, 'can handle terrorism cases.'" The interim U.S. attorney, Dwight Holton, also did a fair amount of grandstanding that day.
What no one was mentioning, however, was that a key witness in the case was tainted by what could easily be construed as a secret payoff by the FBI. As the Eugene paper reports:
The documents filed by Seda’s attorneys say that on Jan. 6 they saw "for the first time" FBI documents stating that the agency paid Cabral and her late husband $14,500 in cash for helping the agency investigate Al-Haramain. The documents indicated that FBI Special Agent David Carroll also told Barbara Cabral before the trial that he would attempt to pay her another $7,500 after it was over. She did not receive such payment, the prosecution said.
The defense said the newly revealed FBI documents show that Barbara Cabral, a hairstylist, became close friends with Carroll and his wife, and discussed with them her need for money to pay medical expenses and a professional trip to a California styling school.
The feds' questionable conduct in the criminal case fits into a disturbing pattern. Seda's charity, now defunct, was the target of warrantless wiretapping in 2004 that was just ruled illegal in a federal civil lawsuit in San Francisco, with the government now liable for $40,800 in damages and $2.5 million in attorneys' fees on account of the wiretap misconduct.
If the federal judge in Eugene lets Seda out of the Lane County Jail -- and especially if he dismisses the criminal charges entirely, as defense lawyers are asking him to do -- the feds' p.r. fiasco will clearly cross over into disaster territory. Whatever the final outcome, the Seda case does nothing to bolster the Obama administration's civil liberties credentials, which for many have been a disappointment. Some days you wonder whether the Brandon Mayfield case would have been any different if the current crew had been in charge.
'Dog pool reminder: puppies on Saturday, poodles on Sunday
Players in our charity underdog game, take note: There are two games today, Saturday, and if you're picking either of those, your pick is due by the scheduled kickoff time for the 'dog you're choosing. That's 1:30 p.m. Pacific for Baltimore, 5:00 p.m. Pacific for Green Bay.
If you're going for the gusto with the Jets or the Seahawks tomorrow, your pick is due tonight by 11:59 p.m.
Game leaders, good luck with your strategy; everybody else, may your Hail Mary be answered.
Oregon State Rep. Mitch Greenlick's proposal to outlaw transporting kids under the age of 6 by bicycle trailer has the more obnoxious members of the cycling set calling for his head. How dare anybody call their activity dangerous!
Of course, Greenlick's right -- urban biking is inherently hazardous -- and he's got empirical data to back him up. But he has blasphemed, and he will be punished unless he caves in. It's the "Portland progressive" way.
And he'd better not point out that paper bags may be worse for the planet than plastic bags, either.
Senator Al Franken is seriously worried about the Comcast-NBC merger. It sure does sound like a bad deal for consumers, and a bit scary from the standpoint of control over the nation's access to a free flow of information.
The Panera bakery restaurant tucked into the old 24 Hour Fitness building next to Trader Joe's in the Hollywood District of NE Portland announced this week that they're going to make paying for meals there optional. Apparently, they've done this in a couple of other cities as well.
In these hard times, it's good to take care of the less fortunate. And mixing in paying customers with soup kitchen patrons is an interesting concept. In theory, it will take away the stigma of the free chow line, and give the more generous members of the community the chance to pay a little extra for a good meal and support the weaker among us at the same time.
But we'll forgive those who are expressing skepticism about this. The Portland location is right on the crime-coincident MAX train line. The neighbors were given no notice that the change was going to happen. It seems that nobody's really thought through the suitability of this location for high-impact social services. But it's going to happen, starting Sunday. Those who don't like it can take a hike.
Given the hassles that have come up at every free meal hall in the central city, there's no reason to think that this experiment isn't going to have its rough moments. Good luck to everyone over there, both pro and con.
After some recent ugliness, the Clackamas County commissioners are working up some new rules for "decorum" at their meetings. No signs, no cheers (Bronx or otherwise), show your approval by raising your hand -- real grammar school stuff.
One of the interesting aspects of the O's story on the subject was the mention of Agnes Sowle, the "interim" Clackamas County attorney. Hadn't heard from Sowle in a while; she was Multnomah County attorney under the Mean Girls, including during the gay marriage drama of a few years ago.
That got us thinking, Who's the county counsel in Multnomah these days? Lo and behold, it's Chip Lazenby, formerly attorney at the Portland Development Commission from the Don Mazziotti days. Lazenby had his hand in many PDC debacles, from the SoWhat District to the shadowy Portland Family of Funds.
And getting back to Clackamas, Laurel Butman, former functionary in the City of Portland bond office (Motto: "Borrowing money is like getting cool stuff for free"), is now working as a deputy administrator in Clackamas. Lots of good Portland root stock being planted down that way. There's no doubt, our neighbors to the south are being Blumenauered.
UPDATE, 8:36 p.m.: An alert reader notices that between his PDC gig and his Multnomah County gig, Lazenby was general counsel at the real estate operation known as Portland State University.
The ice may be melting, but the memory of the Great '11 Storm won't soon be fading in the minds of harried Portlanders battered by last night's brutal winds, snow, and freezing rain. Stay tuned to bojack.org StormCenter 9000.2 as we reflect on the wintry mix.
Plus, it's raining pretty hard -- there could be flooding! Particularly in low-lying areas near bodies of water. We'll have complete team coverage as the weather continues.
We've got an interesting weekend ahead in our charity pro football underdog game. Two spry puppies and two large poodles:
10 SEATTLE at Chicago
8.5 NEW YORK JETS at New England
3 BALTIMORE at Pittsburgh (Saturday, 1:30 PM PST)
2.5 GREEN BAY at Atlanta (Saturday, 5:00 PM PST)
With five glory spots to be earned in our pool and not that many points separating players in the top half of the standings, there's still a lot of drama ahead. Next week will be our final week, with only two games to choose from. Players, good luck with this week's all-important pick. Saturday game picks are due by game time; Sunday game picks are due by 11:59 p.m. on Saturday.
The Great Storm of 2011 continues to ravage Portland, with .001 inches of snow and ice already on the ground and more possible. Out at the airport, the current temperature is 33.1 degrees -- above freezing -- whereas our thermometer here at Storm Center 9000.2 has been stuck on 31.4 degrees -- deadly and icy, not to mention dicey, conditions -- for the past several hours. Given the differing hazard levels, we are evacuating for the airport momentarily. Stay tuned to bojack.org Storm Center 9000.2 (brought to you by Mattress World) for continuing updates. Do not go outside for any reason until you are given the all-clear. Stay away from outside walls and windows, too.
The snow has started to fall in Portland. White, cold snow. Landing on things. Turning them white. If it keeps up, conditions could become slippery. Which means that people could slip. Fall. Collide, even! This is a disaster. Stay tuned to bojack.org StormCenter 9000.2 for further updates. Curtail all unnecessary activities.
At an event kicking off the bridge's construction, Mayor Sam Adams said the bridge will create an easier, safer path for pedestrians and bicyclists. He said he's hopeful that the bridge will play a role in revitalizing the South Waterfront District.
Can you "revitalize" something was never alive to begin with? What a travesty.
It should be interesting when the homeless crew that camps on Lair Hill finds its way over the new bridge to the SoWhat Poodle Poop Park. Between that and the immigration jail, the condo dwellers in the projects down there are in for some colorful experiences that Sharon never told them about at the "discovery center."
There's a fascinating little real estate scam in progress down in Eugene, involving one of the usual suspects. And the young folk down that way are blowing the whistle on it rather nicely:
Students, alumni, and local taxpayers will be handing out "blank checks" Wednesday, January 12 at the Jaqua Academic Learning Center (13th Ave. & Agate St.) before the University Senate meeting begins at 3:00pm.
The checks will be given to administrators and Senators before entering the meeting to bring attention to the fact that the University has made a deal with a Texas-based developer to lease public land next to the Willamette River for less than 10% of its fair market value. The developer has plans to construct a controversial office building and surface parking lot on the land for the Oregon Research Institute.
Documents obtained by Connecting Eugene, a local group opposed to the development, reveal that the University would receive a one-time payment of $1.46 million from the Trammell Crow Company to lease approximately 4 acres of land for 55 years. A study commissioned by the University in 2004, however, determined that the property could be leased for more than ten times that amount. Also, the university will incur additional costs to build infrastructure for the development, ultimately resulting in a net loss to the university.
A reader who tips us off to the story says of the protesters, "I like their style." So do we.
The outrageous Portland disabled fireman story -- the one where the supposedly disabled guy was making a living slaving over a hot stove as a chef and a restaurant owner -- has taken an interesting turn, although we can't tell whether the new twist makes the case more outrageous, less outrageous, or the same as it ever was. After collecting disability from the city's taxpayers for more than 10 years, the guy is now being re-employed at a fire bureau desk job. But only after his restaurants failed and he apparently has nothing else to do.
The city's illustrious (albeit sensitive) fire commissioner, Randy Leonard, made the decision to hire the guy back, even while the city battles it out with him in the Oregon Court of Appeals over three years' worth of disability payments that the city says he's not entitled to. At least one of the other members of the City Council, Legend Dan Saltzman, thinks the city should have forced the guy (and the firefighters' union) to give up the litigation before it rehired him and started re-fattening his city pension. But no.
If it were up to Leonard, the city wouldn't even be fighting the fellow about the three years of back disability; it would be caving and paying him that, too. The council vote on that one was 4 to 1, with you-know-who voting for the union, which he used to run. As the school mom used to say, "Does not play well with others."
The city's unfunded liabilty for retiree pensions, health care, and other benefits -- most of it attributable to retired and disabled firefighters and police -- currently stands at about $3 billion, and is growing. That's "billion," with a "b."
Here at Blog Central, the temperature is below freezing, there's a storm coming in off the ocean, and that can mean only one thing!
Portland authorities stress that it's really important to prepare yourself for the potentially deadly weather we might encounter later today. Snow! Ice! Cold! You could die! There's only one thing to do -- remain indoors and stay glued all day to bojack.org StormCenter 9000.2. Do not go outside -- do not even look out the window! We have complete team coverage starting with this update from the Sylvan overpass:
We're up here on the Sylvan overpass, and we're seeing road crews out here spraying de-icer on the perfectly dry roads. This is an important procedure, because it makes the dry roads look like they're covered in black ice. That way, drivers know what black ice looks like, so when they're driving on real black ice tonight, they won't be surprised at how it looks.
Also, you'll notice that Portland has both of its snow plows out, and they're up here near the on-ramp, all chained up and ready to go. If it snows, the really good-looking people in the city transportation office are Tweeting that barring unforeseen problems, they'll have 10 or 12 of the city's streets completely cleared out in the first 24 hours after the snow stops falling. Back to you at Blog Central.
Thank you. Now we're going to go live for a report from the StormCenter 9000.2 team up on Crown Point in the Columbia Gorge. Can you hear us up there? Take it away:
We're up here on Crown Point and it's very windy, and the meteorologists tell us it's going to get even more windy as the storm bears down on us. Also, we're high up here, which means that unless there's an inversion, it's colder up here than it is down below us. And so, if it's snowing down there, it's definitely going to be snowing up here. In that case we'll both have snow, which could make for some hazardous travel conditions. Man, it's windy up here. Back to you.
It's really blowing up there, isn't it? Now let's get an up-to-the-minute storm forecast from our StormCenter storm-tracking weather experts. They have been monitoring the storm from the observation deck of the debtors' detention center at the top of the Wells Fargo Tower:
There could be some precipitation coming our way, and if the temperature stays below 32 degrees, it is probably going to freeze, either before or after it hits the ground. There is a definite chance of that happening. If it's snow, or rain that turns to ice, it's probably going to be slippery. Which means that people trying to travel on it could slip, and maybe collide with something solid, causing injury. And so it might snow, and you might die. If it doesn't snow or freeze -- if it's just plain rain -- you'll be o.k. We'll let you know as soon as it starts coming down. Until then, use caution. Back to you.
Meanwhile, here in town people are pitching in to help those who are most vulnerable to the biting cold. The Portland police bureau is offering a free Tasing to anyone who wants it; they urge cold people to bring a small knife or pointy scissors to the Justice Center lobby on Southwest Third. Please stop moving right away once you feel the Taser and start to warm up. At the United Church of Christ out in Parkrose, the doors will be open all day, and Reverend Chuck Currie has promised to give a brief sermon every hour on the hour to keep up a plentiful supply of hot air. City Commissioner Nick Fish and the crew at the shopping cart locker operation in Old Town will be giving foot massages to the homeless beginning at sunset this evening. And Merritt Paulson, owner of the Portland Timbers soccer team, has offered to let a poor or lower-middle-class person sit on the hood of his car after he parks it and heads into Bluehour today for lunch. Paulson's expected to be at valet parking at the restaurant at around 11:45 this morning.
We'll be back, live, after this message from Mattress World. Stay tuned to bojack.org StormCenter 9000.2 for all the latest on the Great '11 Storm.
I am not a Ducks football fan -- I root against them except when they're playing USC -- but despite tonight's disappointment, their fans must be duly proud of the fantastic year the team had. Now, if their coach would just go to charm school over the summer, the fans might be even prouder in the future.
When a football program gets this good, the next problem is usually recruiting violations. As I watch Pete Carroll in his NFL playoff glory this weekend, it will be tarnished by the corrupt mess he made and then ran away from in the college game. If that sort of thing is going on in Eugene, and the Ducks get nabbed for it, it will be a lot worse for the school than a last-second loss in the national championship game.
My office overlooks Pioneer Courthouse Square. Both last year and this year, my partner and I watched 6 City Employees take 5 days to reattach limbs to the Christmas Tree. Mostly just standing around. Now we have watched 5 or 6 City Employees, plus a few boon trucks and parked boons take 5 full days to cut those limbs off and take the tree away.
I hate to be a Scrooge, but is there a way to find out how much it costs the taxpayers to have 480 hours of time plus equipment costs to set up and take down a tree?
Your advice would be appreciated. I’d just like to know (enquiring minds and all that).
A couple of New Year developments signal that the bloom is definitely off the rose for "urban renewal," the shadowy process by which perfectly good property taxes are spent on developer welfare. First, in a remarkable front-page story and editorial, the monthly Northwest Examiner questions whether that part of Portland really wants or needs what comes with the proposed, highly gerrymandered "urban renewal" plan for that part of town:
Roger Vrilakas, a business operator and member of the NWDA Planning Committee, said society should be funding teachers and more important social purposes. "Spend the money on something that needs to be done right now," Vrilakas said, "which isn’t another building."...
NWDA President Ron Walters is candid about his neighborhood’s place in the larger scheme of things. "We don’t think we’re blighted," he said....
[John Bradley, chair of the Northwest District Association’s land-use committee:] "The only reason we’re doing this is it’s an easy way for city [leaders] to get money and do whatever they want with it. It saves politicians from identifying a project and selling it to the voters and taxpayers. It’s the least democratic—and I don’t usually say things like this—the least American approach to allocation of money."...
How do government "experts" know which properties are likely to rise in value? By talking to the owners and learning of their plans. Many property owners don’t wait to be asked; they actively lobby for inclusion in urban renewal. Since City Council took control of PDC’s budget four years ago, the most direct path has been the familiar one paved by campaign contributions and inside connections. If urban renewal becomes the normal channel for politicians and big money interests to feed their mutual ambitions, it is not worthy of the name or its special powers of the purse strings....
The beast of urban renewal is so weighted down, conflicted and confused that few see it as a champion anymore. It looks beautiful only in the eyes of those who get its money.
Meanwhile, in California, things are quickly moving beyond the skepticism stage. Retread Gov. Jerry Brown is today proposing to shut down all of the redevelopment agencies in the state and spend their budgets on something more essential than more junk construction. It won't happen -- at least, not completely and not right away -- but he's definitely on the right path. Go, Moonbeam!
The Pack eliminated the Eagles, picking up points for three of our charity underdog pool players and setting up a highly interesting Week 19 for us. Here are the standings as the wild card weekend wraps up:
Compared to yesterday's gigantic upset of the Saints by the Seahawks, today's pro football action seems a little tame. But interesting nonetheless. Here are the players in our charity underdog pool who picked today's games:
2.5 KANSAS CITY vs. Baltimore - PJB, Michael K.
2.5 GREEN BAY at Philadelphia - Bad Brad, john dull, AKevin
When you look at an image on the internet, do you "possess" or "control" it? How about all the thumbnails on a Google image search page? Does it matter what you searched for? Does it matter whether you know how to get at your web browser's temporary files? Don't you have to own up to what's in the zip files on your computer? This week's two Oregon Supreme Court rulings on child pornography make for some highly interesting reading.
Those of you playing our charity pro football game, remember that if you're taking either of the Saturday (today) wild card contests, Seattle or the Jets, your pick is due by game time. The Seahawks (probably the last Hail Mary of the season, unless they win) start at 1:30 p.m. Pacific Time; the Jets start at 5:05 p.m. Pacific. Pool players who make those selections will be announced after each game's respective kickoff.
If you're going with the Chiefs or the Packers, the deadline is the usual, 11:59 p.m. Saturday night (tonight), with picks revealed early tomorrow morning.
We reported earlier this week that Adams has been working privately with Edlen to bring Costco to the site of the school's North Portland offices. It's unclear what role Edlen is playing on the deal, which is still very preliminary. Edlen won't talk about it and neither will Adams. C.J. Sylvester, the district's chief operating officer, said Edlen is not representing the district.
Gerding Edlen Development had had two unrelated contracts with the school district, neither of which went out to public bid.
In May 2009, the district picked the firm to manage an $11.4 million project to repair the roofs on nine schools and top them with a membrane that produces solar power. Since October, a Gerding Edlen employee has helped the district prepare for the wave of construction projects coming if the bond passes. That contract is worth $90,000.
Sylvester said the district's conflict-of-interest policies would forbid Gerding Edlen from bidding on any construction work that it consults on.
We have totally missed this, but for the last month or so, Bernie Giusto, the notorious former Multnomah County sheriff, has been writing on Victoria Taft's blog about law enforcement issues. Kyron Horman, police shootings in Portland, the whole nine yards:
I will not pretend to have all the facts surrounding these recent shootings. I also acknowledge the individual police shootings often turn on small facts on which those shootings are later judged. No two police shootings are the same. However after 34 years working as a sworn Oregon police officer, twenty two years with the Oregon State Police, six years as Chief of Gresham Police, and six as Multnomah County Sheriff, I can tell you something is not working....
By initially treating the Hormon Family only as victims the Sheriff's Office set the investigation on the wrong trail by taking one fork in the trail without considering the others.They have had their shot at Terri Hormon and will likely not get another unless there really is a Santa Claus. That is not to say Terri Hormon is solely responsible or responsible at all for Kyron's disappearance, but if she isn't, based on the the Sheriff's Office investigative strategy, we must have seriously missed something. They ill-prepared for the initial launch of the investigation and now ill advised to proceed....
That brings us to Portland Police Chief Mike Reese who in the 2010 version of the JTTF-- and Groundhog Day --seems to be missing in action. It is unimaginable that his boss would not only value his advice first and foremost but insist that from the outset he be the public voice and champion for the safety of his citizens in the days following this international event.
Instead Chief Reese either has no position on the city's return to the JTTF or has not been allowed to take one publicly. Either of those options is unacceptable. We deserve to know his professional opinion. We deserve to know that even if his boss isn't up to the job we are in the good hands of those trained and sworn to protect us.
An interesting read, to be sure. Too bad the sheriff's past calls his credibility into question. For example, there's nothing on the blog about his days playing the role of Sergeant Schultz to Neil Goldschmidt, or Ladies Man to Mrs. G., but maybe that's coming with time.
Meanwhile, Ms. Taft's blog is turning into a group effort, with several other co-authors (all male) besides Bernie. Most of it's tighty righty bile, but with Bernie on board, it's definitely worth a bookmark, just for the anticipation of seeing him ask "Come here often?" or "What's your sign?"
At least that's the way WW is spinning the ugly corruption probe into state contract work awarded to incoming (returning) Gov. John Kitzhaber's first lady. Once Kitz is sworn in next week, the immediate controversy will be doused, but the bad blood between the attorney general and the Old Boy Network is sure to linger on. Frohnmayer, Shepherd, Stan Long -- oh, my!
UPDATE, 5:55 p.m.: It appears old Ted has hired his own outside investigator. It could be quite interesting when the outside investigator finds out that the new governor isn't going to pay him.
Portland has pretty much dropped its plan to require all diesel fuel sold in the city to be 10 percent biodiesel. It was such a genius idea -- I can't imagine what went wrong. But don't worry, folks, the city's trucks are still running on biodiesel -- and you're no doubt still paying through the nose for it.
The intrepid folks who battle with the City of Portland's water bureau have managed to pry out of the bureaucrats' hands a list of the items that the upcoming $100 million city water bond issue is supposed to be spent on. It's here -- subject to change, of course. Among the items listed: upwards of $1 million for water meters. It's gotten to point where pretty soon they'll be putting faucet washers on a credit card and making the minimum payment every month.
News reports tell us that the contract that's being presented to the Portland police union members has a random drug testing provision in it. Anything on that front is progress, but one wonders how serious the proposed testing program is. Random -- but announced in advance? And why not also immediately after any on-duty firing of the officer's gun, or any situation in which the officer has killed someone by other means?
Why the delay in announcing New Year's shooting arrest?
Here's a puzzle. It's now becoming clear that Portland police arrested the alleged shooter in the New Year's nightclub murder just minutes after the killing occurred. Why was that news kept from the public until more than 12 hours later? (Here's the O story on New Year's Day in the afternoon. No mention of an arrest.)
A flip through Portland's headlines this week reveals it to be a place in which human life is easily taken by others. We have the dead police chief in Rainier, a fatal hit-and-run (and another pedestrian mowed down just up the road), more insights on the New Year's bouncer murder, no apparent clues on the New Year's Eve Old Town beating that left a fellow close to death, the names of the police who killed the crazed homeless guy in the abandoned car wash, and more reaction to two other shootings by police, one fatal... Am I leaving anything out? Condolences to all the victims' families.
Pro football overtime will be different in playoffs
It's not "sudden death" any more -- at least, not exactly:
Under the new rule, which starts with this weekend’s wild-card round, the team that receives the first overtime kickoff would win the game on that possession only via a touchdown. A field goal then would not end the game in sudden death but would give the opponent’s offense a chance to score. On any subsequent overtime possessions, either team could win with a score of any kind.
More on the change, and the reaction to it, is here.
Oregon's attorney general has rejected its outgoing governor's request for independent counsel in the ongoing investigation into an award of state Energy Department contract work to the incoming (returning) governor's girlfriend.
Outgoing Guv had told the AG that he thought outside counsel was needed because based on facts that Outgoing Guv had learned, the AG had a "perceived conflict of interest."
Guess it's time for Outgoing Guv to tell us all what that conflict is.
The question remains, how did I get blocked in the first place? Angry reaction to something I wrote? Oh, no, the Mayor will tell you, it's all some sort of technical mistake. You'll know he's lying -- Twitter doesn't randomly block one person -- but you'll let it pass, because it's so petty. You won't even ask him to explain it.
Meanwhile, WW asks, are his Tweets a public record? WW couldn't get a straight answer out of anyone at City Hall, or the county DA, either, but of course they are. If he does city business on any account, that business is a public record, even if he foolishly decides to intermingle personal matters on the same account.
East County shoplifters to be spared trip into downtown Portland
Multnomah County will break ground on a new auxiliary courthouse out in Gresham on Friday. Let's hope they get it built in time to use as a temporary shelter if there's an earthquake and the main county courthouse in Portland falls down. And before somebody with a badge notices the shadowy $9 million slush fund that was set up nearly three years ago, supposedly to start building a new main courthouse. Uh huh.
Governor Ted wants independent counsel in Cylviagate
Our outgoing governor reportedly thinks that Attorney General John Kroger's office has a "perceived conflict of interest" in the investigation into state Energy Department contract work that was given to ex-Governor John Kitzhaber's girlfriend, Cylvia Hayes. At this point, it's apparently only a civil matter involving the personnel status of the state employees involved in the deal -- Kroger has declined to prosecute anyone -- but Governor Ted thinks an outside look is needed. In a letter to Kroger, he writes:
Given the circumstances of the case that have been shared with my office, I believe that an independent and expeditious review of the records developed by DOJ investigators and any other relevant information is now warranted.... I believe that the public interest would be served best by an independent review that will not be disrupted by the transition to a new administration.
Ted sure does have a way with words, doesn't he?
I believe that if DOJ were to conduct such a personnel review, it would tend to create a perceived conflict of interest. Therefore, I believe that it is in the best interest of the public to proceed with an independent review led by a special counsel.
Ted may have to camp out on Kroger's lawn the next couple of nights to get what he's asking for, however. Governor Kitzhaber gets sworn in -- again -- on Monday, and Kroger will no doubt be front and center to pat him on the back. At which point, Ted will be out of work until the Network decides where to park him.
Because of a District of Columbia holiday (I believe it's Marion Barry Hotel Bust Day), the IRS has announced that tax returns won't be due this year until April 18. That leaves taxpayers across the country three extra days to wrestle with their consciences tax forms.
An alert reader reports that the Portland City Council is going to hold a 2 p.m. hearing on Wednesday the 19th about the proposed federal immigration "processing facility" in Portland's failed SoWhat District. Part of the time will no doubt be spent on the question of the right thing to call a place where shackled felons sit behind bars, under the watch of Uzi-armed guards, awaiting legal hearings. To the city politicians, who are answering to the developer overlords here once again, "it's not a jail." Thank you, Humpty Dumpty.
The prospect of an immigration jail in what was sold to hapless condo tower residents as Portland's next new elite neighborhood is hilarious, but we do sympathize with one opponent who wrote: "It is vital to have as many people as possible that oppose the way the city tried to sneak this into our neighborhood, or may try the same thing in one of your readers' neighborhoods, attend this hearing." Not to mention the entertainment value: Fireman Randy, who's the pusher-in-charge on this one, will be mighty ornery that day.
Portland water system to go another $100 million in the hole
To the Portland City Council, borrowing another $100 million has become like putting an $8 lunch on a credit card to you and me. This time, our fearless heroes take us further into hock for the water system.
Beyond that, it's pretty hard to tell from the proposed city ordinance exactly what the money's going to be used for. "Additions, improvements, and capital equipment that facilitate supply, treatment, transmission, storage, pumping, distribution, regulatory compliance, customer service and support" -- in other words, something to do with water.
The council will vote tomorrow -- the public can try to figure out the project details later. Of course, by the time we find out what the money's really going to be used for, the time period for challenging this ordinance will be over. That's standard public process for municipal finance here in the Rose City.
While we're on the subject of water, what's this all about? We thought the city was claiming that it was too late to stand up to the feds on their requirement that we treat Bull Run water for an organism that wasn't there. Now all of a sudden we're back on with asking for a variance? Haven't we already started bleeding tens of millions on the assumption that the feds aren't going to cave?
To get needless regulations off the backs of the city's residents would be good news indeed, but some days it's hard to keep straight whether the city is really fighting or not.
One of the Graggalicious Metro clones, Robert Liberty, is jumping ship to take a "green" gig at the U of O. That means a vacancy on the Metro board, and Bob Stacey, recently defeated candidate for Metro president, is falling all over himself to fill the empty seat. Stacey and Liberty each ran 1000 Friends of Oregon for a while, and the two are neighbors. How sweet.
Wouldn't it be great if a real skeptic of condo towers and streetcars -- somebody not in the pocket of the Goldschmidt rent-seekers -- took Liberty's place instead? It's mostly a southeast Portland district, though, and if Stacey doesn't get the job, there will surely be some other Earl Blumenauer bike disciple front and center for that gig. The other five Metro clones, including Bicycle Rex of the stoned-out hippie commercials, will control the appointment of Liberty's replacement, and so it's pretty hopeless. Go by streetcar, indeed.
Ralph Nader once again gets it right. But there's nothing anybody can do about it. The corporations and their greedy executives win; the middle class loses; and nobody from either party can be trusted.
Now that Portland's Rose Quarter has streetcar tracks and curb extensions slowing down car traffic trying to get to and from I-5 and the Broadway Bridge, one seriously wonders whether it's a good place for a Costco warehouse. But that, apparently, is what is in the works. Since Mark Edlen stands to make a nice buck from it, and making him richer seems to be City Hall's no. 1 goal, it's probably a serious discussion.
A couple of interesting insights from a weekend of trigger-happy policing here in the Rose City. Today Fireman Randy's police chief was quick to point out that the knife-wielding guy who was shot dead yesterday at 82nd and Powell was a bad, bad dude -- but not mentally ill, oh no:
Portland Police Chief Mike Reese said a man shot and killed by police Sunday had 33 prior arrests.
Reese said some of his prior arrests include robbery and burglary in Oregon and California. There is no evidence the man had any mental issues, Reese said.
A homeless Vietnam-era guy twice threatens to kill a security guard for no apparent reason, and is squatting in the cold in an abandoned car wash, and he comes after the cops with a knife, but hey, there's "no evidence" he has any "mental issues."
And you wonder why we have the death penalty for mental illness in this town.
The dead guy must not have had any drugs on him or in him, or you can be sure the boys in blue would be telling us all about that, too.
Meanwhile, an alert reader reminds us who it was that wrongly reported that the New Year's shooting by a police traffic sergeant at the Club 915 murder scene was accidental. Yep, that was an utterance from the city's illustrious mayor himself:
Findings from an initial investigation into the shooting suggest that the Portland Police officer did not intend to fire his weapon and the officer's bullet did not hit anyone, Mayor Adams told us Saturday morning.
Intentional lying, or just incompetence? It's often hard to tell. Competent truth-telling can usually be ruled out right away, however.
The Portland police sergeant who pulled the trigger outside Club 915 the other morning has been identified -- his name is Mike Fort -- and investigators suspect he was shooting at the murder suspect. Some of the new information comes from the police union -- heaven forbid the police bureau should let the public know what is going on.
There were reportedly hundreds of people around at the time of the shooting. It's a good thing that Sgt. Fort didn't kill anyone.
It appears that the investigation into possible hanky-panky in awarding a state contract to Governor Retread's girlfriend is a messy business. Some of the goodest of the good old boys are slinging some serious mud back at self-proclaimed crimebuster John Kroger, despite the fact that he isn't going to be prosecuting anybody.
Willy Week tells us that it isn't over, because Governor Ted has ordered an outside, noncriminal investigation. But he'll be out of office in a week or so, and it seems a certainty that that's the last we'll hear of this little scandal. It will be swept under a very large rug in Mahonia Hall, and the servants will be ordered to stay out of that room.
From the many links readers are sending us from media outlets and blogs around the country, it appears that 2011 will be the year in which the nation public employee pension problem will explode into flames. One town in the South just decided to stop paying its retirees' pension benefits. Several others are going into bankruptcy to get rid of them. And across the land, public employee unions are being painted as the villains as cash-strapped states and localities shut down public services and lay off current cops so they can pay retired ones.
None of this is new to Portlanders, particularly those who frequent this blog. We started studying the City of Portland's frightening debt situation in 2007, and the city's unfunded obligations to retirees immediately popped up as nearly half of what is now a staggering $6.4 billion of long-term debt that the city's got nothing set aside to pay off.
It's sad that states and municipalities throughout America are going broke. But it's even sadder that the politicians in our neck of the woods, who have made highly questionable financial decisions, will be able to use the national problem as their excuse. Just as they now couch all their apologies for the city's trashed economy on the "historic global recession," they'll soon shrug off Portland's money woes with "it's like this all over."
It didn't have to be this way. But year after year, they have continued to go deeply into hock to build junk. SoWhat fiasco, east side streetcar, painting bike silhouettes on the streets, yet another Civic Stadium re-do, and now a re-do of the SoWhat streetcar, and a new mystery train to Milwaukie. Meanwhile, they continue to hire unqualified minion after unqualified minion to "plan," and "facilitate," and "Tweet," and eat pizza, all the while racking up the benefits and pensions.
When the backlash being felt in other parts of the country reaches Portland, it's going to be interesting to watch. Interesting, but sad.
Our count of the press releases and similar e-mail missives emanating from the office of Oregon Attorney General John Kroger in 2010 ended up at 142. That's 2.7 press releases a week. A little more than half of those (73) were sent out in the first six months of the year.
For comparison's sake, we were keeping track of the same types of info-blasts issued by Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown, and her tally topped out at a mere 61, of which well more than half (35) came out in the first six months.
They both slowed down toward the end, but there's no doubt who had the bigger horn to blow -- by more than a two-to-one margin.
Only two underdogs scored for players in our charity pro football underdog game today: Tampa Bay for 8 and Oakland for 4. Our overall leader takes an intimidating lead into the playoffs, and the second through fifth prizes look like real... well, dogfights.
Next week, we'll have New Orleans at St. Louis or Seattle, and the New York Jets at Indianapolis on Saturday; on Sunday, it's Baltimore at Kansas City and Green Bay at Philadelphia. And here will be our standings heading into those tilts:
Usual thick fog around latest Portland cop shooting
Portland police have arrested a man and charged him with murder in connection with the New Year's Eve killing of a bouncer at Club 915 downtown. If that indeed is the trigger man in the fatal shooting, it was pretty prompt police work.
But the official story about the police officer who fired his own weapon at the scene reeks as only a Portland police shooting can:
The second officer began trying to communicate with a group identified in connection with the shooting and "discharged his weapon," according to a statement from police. A traffic sergeant is being investigated for accidentally discharging his weapon at the scene, officers said.
Scheffer said the officer "did not kill anyone" but was placed on administrative leave, a normal step in an officer-involved shooting. She would not specify whether the officer shot at someone.
"He didn't shoot the victim. In the course of what he came upon and what he saw going on, he discharged his weapon," Scheffer said. "There was no one person attached to the incident."
Scheffer would not go into additional detail about the officer's involvement in the incident and would not confirm later why the officer fired his gun or whom he was targeting, citing the ongoing investigation.
"We can't clarify anymore (other than) this is an officer-involved shooting but this is not an officer-involved shooting in which someone was struck," she said.
So, was it an accident that the gun went off, or not? Is the traffic sergeant the only officer whose gun went off? Does he have a name? Guess we'll find out when everybody in blue has another day or so to get their story straight.
But surprise! Mayor Creepy showed up at the scene yesterday morning and did his best Vera Katz imitation. Must have been a slow New Year's Eve by his standards. Ya gotta love his "We need witnesses" bit; that one improves every time he does it. Yeah, rat out some guy shooting up a rap club, turn in your neighbors who have illegal handguns -- Sam Adams will protect you.
The big daddies of pro football will go at it again today, wrapping up their regular season and setting the stage for several rounds of playoff contests. In our charity underdog game, we compete to the end of the playoffs, three weeks away, but today could be a player's last chance to make a big move. Either Seattle or St. Louis will likely be a huge underdog next week, but who will be fool enough to bet on the worst team in NFL playoff history?
Anyway, let's not look past this week. Our players have made their calls, and here they are:
14.5 CAROLINA at Atlanta - Annie, Drewbob
10 CHICAGO at Green Bay - Ricardo, Biggest Cubs Loser, Andy
9.5 CINCINNATI at Baltimore - Bob, Jim, Paul, PJB
8 TAMPA BAY at New Orleans - Flowers by Dorcas, Flowers by Dorcas Husband, john dull, Bad Brad, Gordon, Larry Legend, Doug, Gary
6.5 ARIZONA at San Francisco - Sattelihu, Matt, Nick, AKevin, Hank, Eric
6 CLEVELAND vs. Pittsburgh - genop, Broadway Joe
4 OAKLAND at Kansas City - genop's gal
3 DENVER vs. San Diego - pdxmick
Our latest standings are here. It appears our top five players have all chosen different teams, and that should make for an interesting day. Enjoy the games, everybody.
The Big Apple has caught up to Portland in going ga-ga for bike lanes, and the backlash has begun. Even in a place that's been hell on drivers for several generations, average Joes and Janes are baffled by the city chopping up its thoroughfares to enable the two-wheeler set to add death wish indulgence to their daily commute. Here are some familiar comments, now with New Yawk accents:
She is a zealot. She wants to make it hard for those that choose to own their automobiles. She wants to make it difficult, their life difficult. I really believe that....
And they said they wanted the city to look like Copenhagen. And this is Manhattan. It's Manhattan. It's not Copenhagen....
[I]n New York, bike lanes have cache with the creative class.... Well, because, the kind of employees who bike, those are the kinds of workers that companies really want to have, and they want to hold on to.
At least back there they still have some semblance of an economy to commute to.
I was with someone yesterday who could not get cash from bank from expected PERS deposit on the 1st, and in Fred's today dozens of shoppers filled their carts only to get to checkout and find their food stamps cards did not have new cash in them. Fred's staff was going crazy re-stocking all that food. Something fishy is going on!
Maybe Gov. Ted took the money and went to Vegas.
Has anyone else heard about this? Something to do with the holiday, perhaps?
Barely an hour and a half into 2011, we have a fatal shooting outside a downtown bar, six blocks from City Hall, and to round out the festivities, a police officer busting a cap or two on the scene afterward. But don't worry! Any day now those new gun control ordinances are going to fix things. The city's in good hands.
If You See Kay, Red 2011
Turnbull, Old Bull Red 2010
Cherry Tart, Cherry Pie Pinot Noir 2012
Trader Joe's Grand Reserve Cabernet, Oakville 2012
Benton Lane, Pinot Gris 2012
Campo Viejo, Rioja, Reserva 2008
Haden Fig, Pinot Noir 2012
Pendulum Red 2011
Vina Real, Plata, Crianza Rioja 2009
Edmunds St. John, Bone/Jolly, Gamay Noir Rose 2013
Bookwalter, Subplot No. 26
Ayna, Tempranillo 2011
Pete's Mountain, Pinot Noir, Haley's Block 2010
Apaltagua, Reserva Camenere 2012
Lugana, San Benedetto 2012
Argyle Brut 2007
Wildewood Pinot Gris 2012
Anciano, Tempranillo Reserva 2007
Santa Rita, Reserva Cabernet 2009
Casone, Toscana 2008
Fonseca Porto, Bin No. 27
Louis Jadot, Pouilly-Fuissé 2011
Trader Joe's, Grower's Reserve Pinot Noir 2012
Zenato, Lugana San Benedetto 2012
Vintjs, Cabernet 2010
14 Hands, Hot to Trot White 2012
Rainstorm, Oregon Pinot Gris 2012
Silver Palm, North Coast Cabernet 2011
Andrew Rich, Gewurtztraminer 2008
Rodney Strong, Charlotte's Home Sauvignon Blanc 2012
Canoe Ridge, Pinot Gris, Expedition 2012
Edmunds St. John, Bone-Jolly Gamay Noir Rose 2012
Dark Horse, Big Red Blend No. 01A
Elk Cove, Pinot Noir Rose 2012
Fletcher, Shiraz 2010
Picollo, Gavi 2011
Domaine Eugene Carrel, Jongieux 2012
Eyrie, Pinot Blanc 2010
Atticus, Pinot Noir 2010
Walter Scott, Pinot Noir, Holstein 2011
Shingleback, Cabernet, Davey Estate 2010
Coppola, Sofia Rose 2012
Joel Gott, 851 Cabernet 2010
Pol Roget Reserve Sparkling Wine
Mount Eden Chardonnay, Santa Cruz Mountains 2009
Rombauer Chardonnay, Napa Valley 2011
Beringer, Chardonnay, Napa Reserve 2011
Kim Crawford, Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Schloss Vollrads, Spaetlese Rheingau 2010
Belle Glos, Pinot Noir, Clark & Telephone 2010
WillaKenzie, Pinot Noir, Estate Cuvee 2010
Blackbird Vineyards, Arise, Red 2010
Chauteau de Beaucastel, Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2005
Northstar, Merlot 2008
Feather, Cabernet 2007
Silver Oak, Cabernet, Alexander Valley 2002
Silver Oak, Cabernet, Napa Valley 2002
Trader Joe's, Chardonnay, Grower's Reserve 2012
Silver Palm, Cabernet, North Coast 2010
Shingleback, Cabernet, Davey Estate 2010
E. Guigal, Cotes du Rhone 2009
Santa Margherita, Pinot Grigio 2011
Alamos, Cabernet 2011
Cousino Macul, Cabernet, Anitguas Reservas 2009
Dreaming Tree Cabernet 2010
1967, Toscana 2009
Charamba, Douro 2008
Horse Heaven Hills, Cabernet 2010
Lorelle, Horse Heaven Hills Pinot Grigio 2011
Avignonesi, Montepulciano 2004
Lorelle, Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2011
Villa Antinori, Toscana 2007
Mercedes Eguren, Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Lorelle, Columbia Valley Cabernet 2011
Purple Moon, Merlot 2011
Purple Moon, Chardonnnay 2011
Horse Heaven Hills, Cabernet 2010
Lorelle, Horse Heaven Hills Pinot Grigio 2011
Avignonesi, Montepulciano 2004
Lorelle, Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2011
Villa Antinori, Toscana 2007
Mercedes Eguren, Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Lorelle, Columbia Valley Cabernet 2011
Purple Moon, Merlot 2011
Purple Moon, Chardonnnay 2011
Abacela, Vintner's Blend No. 12
Opula Red Blend 2010
Liberte, Pinot Noir 2010
Chateau Ste. Michelle, Indian Wells Red Blend 2010
Woodbridge, Chardonnay 2011
King Estate, Pinot Noir 2011
Famille Perrin, Cotes du Rhone Villages 2010
Columbia Crest, Les Chevaux Red 2010
14 Hands, Hot to Trot White Blend
Familia Bianchi, Malbec 2009
Terrapin Cellars, Pinot Gris 2011
Columbia Crest, Walter Clore Private Reserve 2009
Campo Viejo, Rioja, Termpranillo 2010
Ravenswood, Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Quinta das Amoras, Vinho Tinto 2010
Waterbrook, Reserve Merlot 2009
Lorelle, Horse Heaven Hills, Pinot Grigio 2011
Chateau Lajarre, Bordeaux 2009
La Vielle Ferme, Rose 2011
Benvolio, Pinot Grigio 2011
Nobilo Icon, Pinot Noir 2009
The Occasional Book
Norman Mailer - The Naked and the Dead
Maria Dermoȗt - The Ten Thousand Things
William Faulkner - As I Lay Dying
Markus Zusak - The Book Thief
Christopher Buckley - Thank You for Smoking
William Shakespeare - Othello
Joseph Conrad - Heart of Darkness
Bill Bryson - A Short History of Nearly Everything
Cheryl Strayed - Tiny Beautiful Things
Sara Varon - Bake Sale
Stephen King - 11/22/63
Paul Goldstein - Errors and Omissions
Mark Twain - A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
Steve Martin - Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life
Beverly Cleary - A Girl from Yamhill, a Memoir
Kent Haruf - Plainsong
Hope Larson - A Wrinkle in Time, the Graphic Novel
Rudyard Kipling - Kim
Peter Ames Carlin - Bruce
Fran Cannon Slayton - When the Whistle Blows
Neil Young - Waging Heavy Peace
Mark Bego - Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul (2012 ed.)
Jenny Lawson - Let's Pretend This Never Happened
J.D. Salinger - Franny and Zooey
Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol
Timothy Egan - The Big Burn
Deborah Eisenberg - Transactions in a Foreign Currency
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. - Slaughterhouse Five
Kathryn Lance - Pandora's Genes
Cheryl Strayed - Wild
Fyodor Dostoyevsky - The Brothers Karamazov
Jack London - The House of Pride, and Other Tales of Hawaii
Jack Walker - The Extraordinary Rendition of Vincent Dellamaria
Colum McCann - Let the Great World Spin
Niccolò Machiavelli - The Prince
Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird
Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus - The Nanny Diaries
Brian Selznick - The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Sharon Creech - Walk Two Moons
Keith Richards - Life
F. Sionil Jose - Dusk
Natalie Babbitt - Tuck Everlasting
Justin Halpern - S#*t My Dad Says
Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
Barry Glassner - The Gospel of Food
Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
Jesse Katz - The Opposite Field
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice
Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Mitch Albom - Have a Little Faith
C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt
Miles run year to date: 220
At this date last year: 67
Total run in 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269