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About October 2011

This page contains all entries posted to Jack Bog's Blog in October 2011. They are listed from newest to oldest. September 2011 is the previous archive. November 2011 is the next archive. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Law and Taxation
How Appealing
TaxProf Blog
Mauled Again
Tax Appellate Blog
A Taxing Matter
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Josh Marquis
Native America, Discovered and Conquered
The Yin Blog
Ernie the Attorney
Conglomerate
Above the Law
The Volokh Conspiracy
Going Concern
Bag and Baggage
Wealth Strategies Journal
Jim Hamilton's World of Securities Regulation
myCorporateResource.com
World of Work
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Lowering the Bar
OrCon Law

Hap'nin' Guys
Tony Pierce
Parkway Rest Stop
Utterly Boring.com
Along the Gradyent
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Dingleberry Gazette
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Dean's Rhetorical Flourish
Straight White Guy
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10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place
A Pig of Success
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And Sew It Goes
Mile 73
Rainy Day Thoughts
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Posie Gets Cozy
{AE}
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Jack Bog's Blog, by Jack Bogdanski of Portland, Oregon

« September 2011 | Main | November 2011 »

October 2011 Archives

Monday, October 31, 2011

Howlin' at the moon

The Monday night 'dog comes through for the second consecutive week, giving five players in our charity 'dognostication game 3.5 points each for their savvy. Next week's lines should be available tomorrow.

Here are the standings as we enter Week 9 -- we're at the halfway point in the regular season, and after 17 regular season weeks our game will run three weeks into the playoffs. The new rankings include a new leader of the pack:

Continue reading "Howlin' at the moon" »

Dubious distinction

Medford, Oregon checks in as the fifth brokest city in the United States:

Unemployment: 11.2%

Median household income: $40,177

Average personal debt: $25,013

Average credit score: 760

Creatures crawl in search of blood

Here are some truly spooky Halloween stories -- about lawsuits flowing from the holiday.

Everything goes tonight -- we think


Stenchy, the official City of Portland food slop rat, approves of your efforts to save the planet.

Tonight's our first installment of the newest version of the Portland household garbage ordeal. As we noted here last week, we've received conflicting accounts of whether the landfill garbage is going to get picked up in the morning or not. The latest mailer we got said that the first mailer was wrong, and that in fact everything will be picked up tomorrow.

No matter which missive was right, to be on the safe side we're putting the landfill can out with the other three sacred City of Portland solid waste separation chambers tonight. We wouldn't want to guess wrong and have three weeks of garbage piling up.

Wonder how many of our neighbors are going to bag it and just keep throwing food slop in the landfill can to sit there for up to two weeks. Come next August, the stink should be awful. Our green yard debris cart has already got a bit of a bouquet, and that's after just six days of throwing table scraps in there.

Four more Portland school honchos 'fess up, pay up

Six of the eight Portland public school officials whom the state found guilty of abusing state election laws by spending tax money to promote last spring's bond ballot measures have now admitted their violations and paid their measly $75 fines. Two of the eight continue to maintain their innocence and have requested a hearing on the matter.

The most recent to pay up were in-house attorney Jollee Patterson, "executive director of community involvement" Robb Cowie, school modernization director Sarah Schoening, and public information officer Matt Shelby. As reported here on October 19, Superintendent Carole Smith and chief operating officer C.J. Sylvester had previously paid.

Holding out and cruising for a fight are "former public affairs director" Sarah Carlin Ames and "family communications manager" Katie Essick. Their hearings are supposed to be held late in November or early in December.

In theory, the eight violators could be held personally liable for the misspending of taxpayer funds under certain circumstances. It is unknown whether anyone, public official or private citizen, is planning to push for such recovery of the illegally spent funds.

The violations were first pointed out on this blog on April 5.

OMG! Loren Parks! Run for your life!

Willy Week breathlessly points out this morning that the evil, evil Loren Parks has given money to the Clackamas County "urban renewal" ballot measure -- the real one, the one that was put on the ballot by petition signatures.

Any mention of Parks, of course, is the strongest possible signal to the Bus Kid types that you must vote no, no, a thousand times no! They even dig out a bad photo of the guy.

"Urban renewal" in the Portland area is a sick joke, and it deserves to be passed on by all of the affected voters whenever it is invoked. It doesn't matter whose money is being spent to tell you the truth about that.

As for the Bus Kids, this election is about whether their own children will have decent schools or billion-dollar mystery trains to places like Milwaukie (pop. 21,000). It's a zero sum game. Even for "progressives."

Welcome, NCAI


Photo courtesy Joshua Eddings.

The National Congress of American Indians is holding its national convention in Portland this week. Tribal leaders from around the country are meeting at the Convention Center to hold discussions with each other, with their supporters, and with the politicians and government officials with whom they constantly deal. It's the first time that the group has brought its big meeting to Portland in several decades. We wish them a successful week.

Celebrity Week for Occupy Portland

The drama known as Occupy Portland should intensify this week with, among other things, visits to the city by two well known national figures. Author Michael Moore is due in Portlandia today, and he says he'll stop by to visit the protesters in Lownsdale and Chapman Squares.

Meanwhile, evil international bank overlord Jamie Dimon is speaking at the downtown Hilton Hotel at lunchtime on Thursday, and if ever there was a place where the 99% ought to show up and act up, that's it. He'll be only a block or two away from the protest campers.

In other news, some of the campers have crossed the street into Terry Schrunk Plaza, which is apparently owned by the federal government, because their comrades on the ground want to party all night rather than let them get any sleep. It should be interesting to see how long the feds allow them to stay there. Our guess is, not long.

In Pennsylvania, a sister city for Portland

The Harrisburg case raises fundamental questions about the way cities and states increasingly use debt to finance speculative development that private investors or lenders won't touch. From minor league stadiums to arenas, museums, downtown redevelopment and waste plants with unproven technologies, billions have been spent on schemes of questionable value. Some projects are backed by unrealistic economic projections, which leave taxpayers on the hook for bond payments or operating subsidies. These deals are one reason why state and local debt outstanding has ballooned from $1.3 trillion to $2.5 trillion in the last decade, according to the U.S. Federal Reserve.

Perhaps the country does need a national museum of bad government ideas. Harrisburg would be a good place for it.

The whole article should be accessible for a little while longer, here.

Public radio workers, leave your free speech rights at the door

Be photographed carrying a sign at a rally, and you won't even be allowed to have an opera show.

Obama sends message to Occupy

In Vegas, he reminds the protesters that Nevada was a blue state three years ago.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Quotation of the Day

Sometimes systemic change is not going to come by getting permission from the people in charge. -- Jasmine Zimmer-Stucky, Occupy Portland.

Mostly mutts

'Twas a chintzy day indeed in our underdog prediction contest. Three 'dogs won, but nobody had the big one, and only one player each had the two littler ones. Thus, the standings don't change much from a week ago, with the five players with asterisks hoping for 3.5 points from K.C. tomorrow night:

Continue reading "Mostly mutts" »

Fukushima ocean pollution 20 times worse than admitted

So says a new French government study. Everything has got to go somewhere -- onto our grandkids' dinner plates, perhaps.

The revolution was, in fact, televised

We're a half step off today. We stayed up too late last night watching the Portland police arrest protesters in Jamison Square Park in the Pearl District. One of the Occupy crowd had a video camera on the scene, and it was streaming live on the internet over something called, appropriately enough, livestream. And then we noticed that KATU was carrying a live feed, with a reporter present, on local television. The best combination was the professional TV video -- its camera gave a far superior picture -- and the livestream audio. The KATU reporter had nothing meaningful to add to the images, and she deliberately kept her distance from the shouting members of the crowd, some of whom were using filthy language. In contrast, the livestream guy, although his camera was weak, was right in the thick of things, and he provided his own reasonable commentary over the cacophany behind him.

Although the park officially closed at midnight, it wasn't until about an hour later that the police actually started hauling people out. They used a couple of paddy wagons, a half dozen horses, and a few patrol cars. Several dozen officers donned riot gear, wearing helmets with clear face shields, and carrying clubs. It was about 3:30 in the morning when the last of the 27 or so arrestees were wheeled away.

The people who hunkered down in the park were remarkably quiet, but the hundreds of people who paraded around on the adjoining sidewalk were loud and obnoxious, and they kept it up for several hours. Chanting, screaming, shouting through bullhorns, surely they kept many a resident of the toney Pearl awake most of the night. There was still a noisy gathering of several dozen people when the last of the cops left and they retook the park at 3:30.

Perhaps the most startling sight on the screen was how up in the police officers' faces many of the folks on the sidewalk got. They taunted them mercilessly, lectured them at high decibel levels and uncomfortably close distance, and did everything but spit in their faces as they cussed them out. The police officers showed incredible restraint. A particularly nasty group of men showed up later in the proceedings, around bar closing time, and the relentless epithets and threats they hurled at the police were highly provocative, to put it mildly.

If the Occupiers proved anything last night, it was that they attract far too rowdy a crowd to be allowed to spend the night together in a residential district. Indeed, the racket they made last night would have caused a disturbance even across from City Hall. People live not too far from there, and last night's din could surely be heard blocks away.

The other thing that many of the demonstrators did in the Pearl District was make a large deposit in the police bureau's notorious storehouse of pent-up rage. When the cops finally get the green light to use force against Occupy, a lot of the countless unkind things that were said last night are going to be repaid with interest.

Meanwhile, in the Portland gang wars...

While the city watched the Occupy Pearl District arrests in the wee small hours this morning, the gangstas were doing their thing. Here's another apparent gang shooting, this time on Hayden Island.

Puttin' on the 'dogs

Here are the teams that our players are pulling for today in our charity pro football underdog game:

13 ARIZONA at Baltimore - Annie, Gary
10 MIAMI at New York Giants - Bob, Rudie
9.5 JACKSONVILLE at Houston - Michael K., Eric W., umpire
9.5 INDIANAPOLIS at Tennessee - Usual Kevin, Ricardo, Biggest Cubs Loser, Grizfan, Drewbob
9.5 CLEVELAND at San Francisco - Gordon, Carol, Larry Legend, Bayou Baby, AKevin
6 WASHINGTON at Buffalo - NoPoGuy, Broadway Joe, John Cr.
3.5 MINNESOTA at Carolina - Weavmo
3.5 KANSAS CITY vs. San Diego - Pete Rozelle, Tommy W., mna, John Ch., PDXileinOmaha
3 SEATTLE vs. Cincinnati - genop, john dull, Bad Brad, Paul
3 DALLAS at Philadelphia - Money Maker
3 PITTSBURGH vs. New England - jmh
3 DENVER vs. Detroit - genop's gal

Nobody wanted the Rams.

Have a great day and enjoy the games, all.

UPDATE, 3:18 p.m.: The Rams confound everybody! Weavmo picks up 3.5 with Minnesota.

UPDATE, 4:46 p.m.: Jmh scores 3 with the Steelers, but the big dogs other than St. Lou fail to deliver.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Live feed from Occupy Portland at Jamison Square

UPDATE, 11/13, 12:26 a.m.: For a list of live feeds from the November 13 eviction, see this update.

UPDATE, 10/30, 1:43 a.m.: KATU, Channel 2 in Portland, is covering live on television.

UPDATE, 10/30, 10:15 a.m.: The live feed went on until at least 3:30 a.m. It took the police that long to arrest about 30 people.


Art fills the void

The business whose building near the wacko Burnside-Couch traffic "couplet" keeps getting hit by cars has apparently decided not to bother patching the hole in the wall just to see another driver bust through:

It's not exactly putting a bird on it, but it's close.

What's the difference, Jamison Square and Lownsdale Square?

The city is letting Occupy Portland camp out at Lownsdale and Chapman Squares, across from the county courthouse and City Hall, but the police say they are going to arrest any demonstrator who stays at Jamison Square, in the Pearl District, past midnight tonight.

What's the difference? The Sam Rand Twins, who run the City Council, say it's because Jamison is a "neighborhood park," whereas the other two blocks are not. Admiral Randy also says there are single mothers and children living in the Pearl District who are afraid of the protesters.

That's ridiculous. The city has spent literally tens of millions of dollars trying to convince more people to live downtown, and downtown is more of a residential neighborhood than it's been in a half century or longer. And to assert that dragging demonstrators out of the toney Pearl is somehow "for the children" is just plain lame.

City parks are public places -- all of them. There's no principled distinction among them. And if the city fathers think that an unruly band of protesters with an amorphous agenda is going to play nice and do as they are told, they're kidding themselves.

The only uncertainty at this point is how long it will take for the Portland police to lose their cool and apply excessive force. It might not be tonight, but it's almost sure to happen before Occupy is over.

Even those demonstrators who leave the Pearl District as ordered tonight may be back tomorrow. The park reopens at 5 a.m., doesn't it? A Sunday morning drum circle would be interesting.

I'll be 'doggone if I wouldn't work all day, baby

Players in our charity football underdog prediction game, don't forget that your pick for the week is due at 10 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time tomorrow. It's a wild week, with three double-digit 'dogs and three at 9.5. Somebody's bound to get healthy or richer.

Readers, has anybody got some advice on which of these underdogs (in caps) can win its game outright, without the benefit of the point spread?

Continue reading "I'll be 'doggone if I wouldn't work all day, baby" »

By Jove, it appears we've been redistricted

If we're reading this map correctly, our state representative has changed from Michael Dembrow to Sweet Lew Frederick, and our state senator from Jackie Dingfelder to Chip Shields. Having Lew is cool. The other change, we'll have to see, but we're optimistic that it's an upgrade, too.

The movement's really crystallizing now

A Pink Martini concert and speeches by Earl the Pearl, Peter DeFazio, Rabbi Manny Rose, and the head of the state AFL-CIO. Wow -- how revolutionary. What next -- a poetry reading by Neil Goldschmidt? A sponsorship by Safeway?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Have a great weekend


For protesters, a platinum opportunity

If ever somebody ought to be "occupied," it's this member of the 0.1%, who it just so happens is coming to Portland next Thursday:

If Dimon can get in and out of Portland without feeling heat, then this ain't Little Beirut any more.

Pitbull shows teeth

Randy Leonard and the Occupy crowd -- a match made in heaven. "Know who your friends are." He wears power so well. Surely his threats will keep everybody in line.

It's OK so long as you don't breathe

Let's see: Fall afternoon in the Willamette Valley... rain in the forecast... that can mean only one thing. It's time for the ag department in Salem to give the grass farmers the green light to torch their fields. Yeah, the wind's blowing straight toward Portland, but those folks'll just have to inhale the airborne crud until the rain starts. They probably weren't planning to do anything outdoors this afternoon anyway, and if they were, tough. A handful of guys need to save some money, and that's more important than a million people's lungs.

For greed, there's nothing like the NBA

The latest word from the talks between the obnoxious wealthy owners and the obnoxious wealthy players is that they will reach a deal over the weekend, have little or no pre-season schedule, and then cram a full 82-game season in despite a late start. Risk of injury? Fan fatigue? No worries. It's all about the Benjamins.

Eighty-two games is too many, even when there's a full calendar to work with.

Car haters invade Clackistan

One look at this thing, and it's easy to see that the bicycle and streetcar madness that has gripped the City of Portland over the past decade or two is spreading to the surrounding suburbs. "Take our survey!" Sure. Where every answer to every question posed points to "active transportation," which is the latest planner code for anything other than a nice, convenient car. And bike lanes on Highway 43 between Lake O. and the Sellwood Bridge! Sure to please.

There's no use fleeing Portland to get away from the Central Planning Cabal. You'll have to flee the whole state of Oregon. Maybe even get on the other side of the Continental Divide. You can bet Emilie Boyles has a car in Glendive, Montana.

Would you like some fresh ground pepper spray?

They arrested 30 Occupiers in Nashville last night, and the stage is being set for some arrests in Portland tomorrow night. The Portland crew says they're heading over to the Pearl District for a sleepover, and the city's mayor, on his way home from one of his baloney junkets abroad, says he won't allow that.

Although we hate to see people arrested, it might be a good thing for the protesters to realize that City Hall is not their friend. One of the reasons that their economic future is so grim is that the city is so far in hock that essential public services in town over the next several decades are going to be poor. There won't even be a government job in Portland for them to aspire to.

UPDATE, 8:52 a.m.: Meanwhile, here's an Occupy story that doesn't quite hang together.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

More violent crime on MAX

It goes on and on and on. It's time to put the Mystery Train to Milwaukie on hold until somebody figures out a solution to the serious crime problem on Portland's commuter trains. Maybe we should have a public vote on requiring turnstiles and other meaningful security.

Who's the anchor tenant for Burnside Bridgehead?

The ill-fated development project on the east end of Portland's Burnside Bridge is supposedly heating up again. Beam is the developer du jour, and it says it's close to a deal with a tenant who will take 25,000 square feet of office space:

For tenants, Beam plans to target PDC's target clusters, which include clean technology, software, and outdoor and apparel businesses. Malsin said that the company is in detailed negotiations with a large tenant in one of the PDC's clusters to rent 25,000 square feet in the building. That agreement, which is almost finished, Malsin said, is expected to be the last step needed to secure financing for project construction.

Ah, the "clusters" -- so appropriate. Anybody know who this mystery guest is?

In any event, we've been told "any day now" on the Burnside Bridgehead site for the better part of a decade. We'll believe the value that the taxpayers are getting for the money when we see it.

Lister nails it

The former City Council candidate makes a great case in the O today for dismantling the barely legalized graft pit known as Portland "urban renewal."

Brian's mad

Ya gotta laugh at this. Mr. 1% can't handle the truth.

Stock up on popcorn

Occupy Portland is moving to Jamison Square in the Pearl District Saturday night:

Camp Meeting starts at 4:00 PM, with a Potluck at 7:00 PM, and a Cuddle Party at 10:00 PM. We plan on staying the entire night.

Occupy Portland is in Solidarity with Oakland, Atlanta, and all other cities which have experienced a hostile police take-over. We will gather for a camp meeting to discuss the prospects of our future political actions, which may include the expansion into new territory.

Curiously, the Occupy announcement warns that "Jamison Square is privately owned." According to PortlandMaps.com, it belongs to the city.

How China is like BlueOregon

Maybe it has to do with Mayor Creepy being over there, but this striking parallel made the news today:

On Wednesday, the Communist Party’s Central Committee called in a report on its annual meeting for an "Internet management system" that would strictly regulate social network and instant-message systems, and punish those who spread "harmful information."... Perhaps most telling, the authorities are discussing requiring microbloggers to register accounts with their real names and identification numbers instead of the anonymous handles now in wide use.

Moonbeam wants to cut public pensions

It's the right thing to do, of course, but watch the unions scream bloody murder. And it's a good thing old Jerry isn't planning on running for another term. He'd be Greg Macphersoned.

"We hate you!" "We don't care," cont'd

The cell phone weasels got an earful last night about their proposed installation in a guy's yard at 31st and Prescott. The latest tactic of the phone peddlers is to declare that there are many people in support of the cell tower, but those people only send e-mail; they don't show up for meetings. Uh huh.

While T-Mobile and residents disagreed on whether cell towers cause health hazards and lower property values, or are unsightly and noisy, one thing became clear. Residents don't want this cell tower in their community and T-Mobile does.

And the guy who sold out his yard to T-Mobile, Bruce Badrick, is going to find out about karma.

Pamplin shark jump confirmed

Here's another warmed-over press release from the "urban renewal" hucksters, passing as journalism. As we noted the other day, this news organization is now officially doing more harm than good.

Earl the Pearl goes after the farmers

We need to end farm subsidies, he says.

There should only be streetcar subsidies. Lots and lots of streetcar subsidies.

It will be interesting to see what Gatbsy and Merkley say when they're put on the spot by this. Some of their constituents are actually farmers. Earl's followers don't farm, and apparently they don't care about grocery prices, either.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Where's Fred Armisen?

Somebody at Portland City Hall actually thinks that the average person is going to do this:

Keep garbage in your freezer? Wrap vegetable pulp in newspapers before throwing it away? Pay money for special bucket liners? We just don't see it happening on a large scale.

What we do expect, though, is lots of official fakery about how many people actually go along with the program. It will probably be a lot like the bicycle commuter count -- incredible on its face, but the bureaucrats will defend the padded estimates to the end. Because they know best how we should all live.

A pale ale -- a *very* pale ale

We never thought we'd see the day, but now the toney Arlington Club in downtown Portland is going to start brewing its own beer. Gosh, there's so much comedy potential there, we don't know where to start. The beer is going to need a name -- and a slogan. Readers, let's all chip in and help the nice folks at the Arlington Club out with some suggestions.

New study shows Fukushima was worse than Chernobyl

And of course, no big news, they point out that the Japanese government is dispensing inaccurate information about the whole mess.

Max Brumm for mayor of Portland

After this fine interview, conducted by our friend Bill McDonald, we like the 19-year-old mayoral candidate more than any of the three with all the money. "Charlie Hales' Washington" -- that's gold, kid.

Goldschmidt Party nightmare continues for Nurse Amanda

Portland City council challenger Mary Nolan cheerily announced this morning that she's cracked the $100,000 mark in campaign fundraising. $500 from a Beam guy, $1,000 from a Grubb & Ellis guy, $2,000 from Katy Durant -- the crushing of incumbent Amanda Fritz by the Usual Suspects is going to be spectacular.

And Nurse Amanda doesn't seem much interested in fighting fire with fire.


Earth to Andy

Here's a funny one. Portland Business Journal reporter Andy Giegerich this morning breaks the important news that "the city is said to be seeking a Target Corp. store" at the Galleria downtown. No kidding, Andy -- last Friday, your competitor explained in an extensive article that Target is currently finalizing a lease on the property, having gotten a major design review approved a couple of weeks ago. Try to keep up.

Giegerich does add one interesting wrinkle, however -- the Target folks want assurance that the city's pet condo developer weasels aren't going to mess up the city-owned parking garage across Morrison Street. Apparently the city's hapless development commission, which owns the garage, is begrudgingly agreeing to leave the parking alone for two years. Wow, don't do them any favors. Welcome to Portland, Target! Be sure to get it in writing.

The Giegerich story also names the developer for whom the fix is in with the city for a steaming pile of "mixed use" shinola on the garage site, where the Peterson's convenience store controversy raged a few years ago. It's density ramrod John Carroll.

Drowning in government debt

Oregon comes in at number 10 on this list of the 10 states with the highest government debt per capita. The study pegs Oregon's debt at $2,960 a head.

That, of course, is nothing to us Portlandians. Counting pensions and bonds, our estimate of the City of Portland's debt is now at more than $11,000 per resident. Go by streetcar!

How to turn everybody off

Here's a classic Oregon tighty-righty public relations blunder: Start preaching about how Multnomah County ought to privatize its public library, or charge people to check out books. In case these guys haven't noticed, the public absolutely loves the free public library here, and there is simply no chance in heck that it's going to privatize it or impose user fees, any time in the next 40 years or longer. You might as well argue about how apple pie is evil, and Mom isn't that great, either.

When you pick a topic like the library and rub people's noses in your right-wing ideology, they remember. And when you come back later with a more meaningful diatribe against a true evil like "urban renewal" or streetcars, they automatically tune you out.

There's self-righteousness, and there's winning. We prefer winning; apparently Oregon Republicans do not.

What the Occupiers are figuring out

You can't have anything good going for long in downtown Portland without dealing with crowds of mentally ill people, street criminals, and druggies. Maybe the protesters will wind up joining the Portland Business Alliance! Or maybe they'll move to the Pearl District, which would be hysterically funny. We'll definitely send pizza money if they take over Jamison Square.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Latest Japanese motor trend

The Nukaru. Maybe some day you'll own one.

Blazers draw top honors

The most useless and second most useless players in the league over the past decade: Paul Allen's idea of quality.

Tri-Met toll: 15 hurt in 2 days (so far)

Today a passenger was sent flying out of his wheelchair, eight feet to the front of the bus. Ouch! This after yesterday's MAX accident.

New Portland garbage deal bungled before it starts

Our new, official City of Portland slop bucket arrived at our house today. What a joy to bring the City Hall "brand" into the very kitchen of our home. Now we can finally live life the right way -- the Sam Rand Way™.

There's just one glitch: When does the fun really start? As regular readers will recall from this photo, we recently got several mailers from the city, one of which (on the left) informed us that our now-bi-weekly garbage collection will be done on the Tuesday orange schedule:

But today, inside our wonderful new slop bucket, the garbage guys delivered this:

Under the orange schedule, we won't get a real garbage (landfill) pickup until Nov. 8. But under the purple schedule, we'll get one on Nov. 1. So which schedule is it, City Hall?

Man, that bucket's ugly. And the lid won't stay closed. At our house, the Grand Experiment is probably going to be quite brief.

And now, a moment of spiritual reflection

We invite you to join us in meditating on the teachings of Common Sense Jesus.

We're no. 8!

Sort of.

Several popular Law Prof Blogs do not have publicly available SiteMeters and thus are not included on the list: e.g., California Appellate Report, Credit Slips, The Deal Professor, Dorf on Law, Feminist Law Professors, InstaPundit, Legal Theory, Point of Law, ProfessorBainbridge.com.

Anyway, although this is not a competition, and one should resist the rankings mania, it's nice to have so many regular readers.

Portland bad cop story gets much worse

Officer James Botaitis allegedly pointed his gun at his estranged wife's boyfriend and said he would kill him. Sounds like more 'roid rage from Portland's finest. No statement yet from the mayor -- he's in Asia doing his important business.

By the 'dogs' early light

The lines for the first several games of the coming weekend are now posted for our charity pro football underdog prediction game:

10 MIAMI at New York Giants
9.5 INDIANAPOLIS at Tennessee
9.5 CLEVELAND at San Francisco
6 WASHINGTON at Buffalo
3.5 MINNESOTA at Carolina
3.5 KANSAS CITY vs. San Diego (Monday night)
3 SEATTLE vs. Cincinnati
3 DALLAS at Philadelphia
3 PITTSBURGH vs. New England

Four games remain up in the air at this point -- Ravens at Cardinals, Jaguars at Texans, Lions at Broncos, and Saints at Rams. We'll post them as lines become available. That last one ought to be another great Dane.

The standings after last night's sleeper, which resulted in the big 'dog win of the week, are here.

UPDATE, 5:03 p.m.: Here are the rest of the 'dogs, including a couple of big boys:

14.5 ST. LOUIS vs. New Orleans
13 ARIZONA at Baltimore
9.5 JACKSONVILLE at Houston
3 DENVER vs. Detroit

Good luck, players!

Saddlin' up for Bend

A couple of Portland city bureaucrats are reportedly vying for an assistant manager job at the City of Bend. Deputy Admiral Ty Kovatch and PDC honcho Keith Witcosky are in the running with three other people for the Central Oregon gig. A reunion with Opie Sten could be in the offing -- what an image. Maybe the winner of the position could find something for Jeffer-Sam Smith to do over there starting next summer.

Bad boys, bad boys, whatcha gonna do?

Portland's police continue to make headlines with their own personal sleaze. For some reason the two latest episodes involve crimes allegedly committed in Washington State. Here's a collar of a Portland cop in the 'Couv -- accused of burglary-domestic violence and unrelated charges of assault and criminal harassment, according to Portland police. It's James Botaitis -- a veteran of the force, with a bit of a track record.

Botaitis appeared on a March 2010 edition of the television show "Cops," a transcript of which appears here (the segment starts at 11:08). In that show, he was the arrester, not the arrestee.

Meanwhile, up in Hanford-land, a former Portland officer is in Dutch, big time, having pleaded guilty to two counts of sexual exploitation of minor girls and five counts of commercial sex abuse of minor girls. Before he was fired from the Portland force, Ryan Graichen was a school resource officer from 1998 to 2007.

UPDATE, 12:28 p.m.: The 'Couv story gets much worse as the day wears on.

Super Carole gets straight A's

Let's see: Failed bond measure... election law violations... traumatic, failed school boundary changes... Marysville School hostage-taking... $700,000 a year for p.r. flacks... Perfect!

Oakland de-Occupies

Wonder how long it will take the refugees to get to Portlandia.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Winning ugly

Although not a familiar scenario, four field goals, one in each quarter, beats one touchdown, in the fourth quarter. And so the skinny cats of Jacksonville (that's in Florida, we think) ate the scrawny birds of Baltimore in tonight's pro pigskin action.

That underdog victory scores 8 points for each of five players in our charity prediction game, moving them all up in the standings. As we head into Week 8, here's where everybody finds themselves:

Continue reading "Winning ugly" »

City closes eyes, jumps into "sustainability center"

The utterly quixotic Oregon Sustainability Center project -- sure to line developer and architect pockets in the name of saving the planet -- takes another step forward at the Portland Development Commission this week. The PDC board is about to authorize a contract with the city finance office for the financing of the super-green building, which is somehow supposed to function as an economically viable office building without outside power, water, or sewer.

The current liars' budget for the 130,000-square-foot miracle complex? $62 million.

Uh huh.

The PDC board is expected to say yes, even though there are many, many risks staring them in the face. No private tenants are lined up; only government agencies have shown an interest in locating in the building. Necessary state funding for construction is far from a sure thing; the site apparently has environmental cleanup problems; and rents are going to be astronomical.

Perhaps most distressingly, the PDC staff admits that the building may not actually work as intended. Here's a fascinating passage from the latest report to the board:

The Center is designed to be the first high-rise Living Building constructed in a downtown setting. There is a risk the building will not meet the Living Building Challenge as achieving this designation relies both upon technology as well as changes in tenant behavior from those of a typical office space. The project team has incorporated energy and water usage contingencies into the project design; has tenant partners who are committed to conform to these requirements; and incorporated behavior expectations into draft lease agreements under negotiation. Although the Center is being designed as a net zero energy, potable water, and wastewater over the course of a year, the Center will have back up connections to customary utilities as required by code.

Ah, those "changes in tenant behavior" -- those ought to be fun to watch. But what the heck. It's "green" and it will make some builders and designers rich. Who cares what it costs? It's only tax money. Full steam ahead!

For wayward Portland cops, justice is special

This is hard for us to believe. The Portland policeman who mistakenly shot a guy with live ammunition instead of beanbag rounds last summer is turning the grand jury proceeding against him into an adversarial proceeding. And the presiding judge of the county is going along with it!

The district attorney ought to have straight-up indicted this fellow a long time ago. Maybe then this sort of craziness would not be happening. Then again, that assumes that the district attorney is actually interested in bringing charges against a police officer -- in Portland, a highly questionable assumption.

It's fad-tastic

Here's an event you won't want to miss: three days of yammering about "eco-districts." The come-on is truly irresistible:

The EcoDistricts Summit is a three-day forum designed to complement the Portland Sustainability Institute's work on EcoDistricts and to catalyze the conversation on sustainable development at the district scale.

The EcoDistricts Summit will also serve to enhance existing dialogue on integrated performance assessment; neighborhood leadership; green building, infrastructure, and behavior practices to reduce resource consumption; new sources and structures for project finance; and green neighborhood ratings....

Jeb Brugmann is a leading practitioner and thinker on strategy and the process of innovation. For 25 years he has been devising solutions to help local communities access the benefits of globalization, and to help global organizations engage in local communities and markets. His work focuses particularly on the critical contribution of innovation at the micro-level of the locality, business model, or consumer cluster to achieve macro-level strategy objectives. As the founder and chief executive of major international organizations and programs, as a social entrepreneur and for-profit private sector entrepreneur, and as a corporate and urban strategy consultant, he has worked on the ground in scores of cities and rural regions in 28 countries....

From tackling the drop-out rate to improving police-community relations to re-focusing Portland's economic development efforts and capitalizing on Portland's leadership in sustainability, Adams' comprehensive approach recognizes that challenging times require innovative and collaborative solutions. Since taking office, Adams' primary priority has been Portland's economy: a bold, tangible economic development strategy; a streamlined city permitting system; and, hard-fought company recruitments and retentions like ReVolt and Vestas....

Mark also works extensively with the public sector, including serving as the City of Vancouver's first Manager of its Sustainability Office, with a focus on strategic planning and greenhouse gas management. Mark is one of the more innovative thinkers of his generation in his field and is credited with developing planning concepts and frameworks such as the 8 Pillars of a Sustainable Community, and the acclaimed Resilient Cities Manifesto in 2009....

Kyle is an Oregon native whose path to architecture started while attending Benson Polytechnic. He attended Oregon School of Design where he forged a deep sense of process. He attended University of Oregon, and discovered a holistic design approach. He studied urban design at UPC / ETSAB in Barcelona Spain as part of an award for his competition entry into the UIA and AIA sponsored, "A call for Sustainable Community Solutions". He believes in a sustainable “technology”, a renaissance that will continue to revolutionize architecture if put in the correct economic and social context....

The whole lineup of planner, politician, and development weasel talent is here. Only $420! You will most definitely want to go by streetcar to this one.

Keepin' it occupied

Dave Letterman's readers are a funny lot. Here are their Top 10 Slogans for the Occupy Wall Street Movement:

10. "Hell No! Something, Something, Something!" - David C., Arvada, CO

9. "'Down With The Corporations!' -- Tweeted from my iPhone" - Brad M., Kansas City, MO

8. "Just Like Woodstock, But Without The Music!" - Jan M., Boardman, OH

7. "Will Stop Protesting For A Job!" - Steve P., Antioch, TN

6. "Why Should Libya, Egypt And Syria Have All The Fun?" - Doug F., Cleveland Heights, OH

5. "Just Like The Tea Party, Only Younger, Less Grouchy And We Don't Vote!" - Joe C., Tallahassee, FL

4. "Give Us A Hundred Each And We'll Go Home" - John S., Sacramento, CA

3. "We Aren't Just Occupying Wall Street, We're Also In Line For The New iPhone. Multitasking" - Vincent G., Saddle Brook, NJ

2. "Who Better To Tell Us How To Run Our Country Than Those With So Few Personal Responsibilities That They Can Sleep In A Park For A Month?" - Charles C., Ogden, UT

1. "What Do We Want? We Don't Know! When Do We Want It? Now!" - Wade M., Chester, VA

Portland police bureau eyes new motorcycle fleet

This model is reportedly gaining favor with the city's inter-bureau task force.

Tribune finally slipping away

We were so grateful when timber magnate Bob Pamplin started the Portland Tribune a decade ago. Portland needed a new voice, and the Trib, which started out being published twice a week with free home delivery, provided it. It had great writers, among them Phil Stanford, Dwight Jaynes, Bill McDonald, and Promise King. It was something that we looked forward to getting our hands on.

Times being what they are in the newspaper business, however, all of that is gone now. The Trib is printed once a week, delivery a distant memory, and its editorial staff has been gutted. Jim Redden and Kerry Eggers are still around, but except for those two old pro's, the roster is thin. It's been that way for a few years now.

We've been surprised at how gamely the Trib has carried on despite the massive cutbacks. It's actually maintained a respectable profile running on a skeleton crew. But some big cracks are starting to show.

We picked up this week's print edition the other day, and were a little startled at how shallow this front-page profile was, on Portland mayoral candidate Jefferson Smith. Writer Jennifer Anderson produced a puff piece that downplayed Smith's significant personality problems and ignored the tangled finances of his obscure network of interlocked entities. She allowed him to brush off critics, none of whom were interviewed, as "haters." That's pretty weak.

Then we took a look at the advance piece on Roger Daltrey's concert tonight, and the only way to describe it was amateurish in the extreme. It needed editing, a lot of editing, that it didn't get.

Meanwhile, Pamplin's other publications are starting to give us the willies. Down in Lake Oswego, the Review has become an unabashed cheerleader for Homer Williams's "urban renewal" schemes. And in Clackamas, the Review has thrown in with the county commissioners, who have subverted the initiative process with a deliberately confusing decoy ballot measure on "urban renewal."

Given limited resources, there is only so much value that these publications can provide to their communities. But when they start doing more harm than good, well, it's sad.

Money to burn

We blogged a while back about some highly peculiar signs that the City of Portland was apparently planning to place on sidewalks. We wondered where they would go, and what their purpose was.

Well, our first question has been answered. An alert reader notes that the signs have been posted along West Burnside Street, between 10th and 11th Avenues:





What the signs are supposed to mean, and why they are needed, remain anyone's guess. To us they're just one more annoying message about how to live, brought to you by pompous twits at City Hall. One can only imagine what this latest foolishness costs, and how many more of these odd messages are going to be posted.

End of tunnel not in sight

The bad economic news keeps jumping off our screen. This graph caught one reader's eye, and here's a grim assessment of where the country is heading.

Meanwhile, here's a fascinating graphic laying out the dire straits in which Europe finds itself.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

A great Dane that wasn't

The Colts got rolled this evening, and so the lone player who picked them in our charity football underdog game gets a goose egg for the weekend. Here are the standings as of this evening, but note that there are five players (with asterisks) riding on Jacksonville (8) tomorrow night:

Continue reading "A great Dane that wasn't" »

Gang shooters head out to the Copper Penny

It's been quite a weekend so far.

Why the Occupiers are out there

Because the story they were told in civics class turned out to be a lie.

Back east, they're starting to get it

In Rhode Island, they're talking government bankruptcy because of pension liabilities:

Ten cents of every state tax dollar now goes to retired public workers. Before long, Ms. Raimondo has been cautioning in whistle-stops here and across the state, that figure will climb perilously toward 20 cents. But the scary thing is that no one really knows.

Here in Portland, we know. As shown here the other day, 24 cents of every dollar of property tax collected by the City of Portland goes to retired public workers. And that's just the police and firefighters. You throw in the rest of the bureaucracy, and it's probably double the burden that they say is bankrupting Rhode Island. But don't worry -- we've got streetcars, they don't.

Stinks to high heaven

It's been this way forever: You don't get to have a lawyer and argue in front of a grand jury that's investigating you.

That is, unless you're a Portland cop who shot a civilian.

Somebody with integrity, please please please run for county district attorney.

It's 'dog-thirty on a Sunday morning

The players in our charity pro football underdog game have spoken. The plurality are banking on the Seabirds on the road this morning; second vote-getters are Jacksonville at home tomorrow night, and the World Series effect for the Rams in Dallas this afternoon:

14 INDIANAPOLIS at New Orleans - Paul
13 ST. LOUIS at Dallas - Gary, Carol, Rudie, Annie, umpire
8.5 MINNESOTA vs. Green Bay - Pete Rozelle, Bob, Drewbob
8 JACKSONVILLE vs. Baltimore - Larry Legend, Gordon, Usual Kevin, genop, mna
3.5 ATLANTA at Detroit - john dull, PDXileinOmaha, AKevin
3.5 ARIZONA vs. Pittsburgh - Eric W., Ricardo
3.5 KANSAS CITY at Oakland - Bad Brad, Tommy W., John Cr.
3 SEATTLE at Cleveland - Money Maker, Michael K., Biggest Cubs Loser, NoPoGuy, John Ch., Broadway Joe, genop's gal, jmh
3 HOUSTON at Tennessee - Grizfan
2 NEW YORK JETS vs. San Diego - Weavmo, Bayou Baby

Nobody took the chihuahuas Washington, Denver, or Tampa Bay.

Enjoy a fall day and some great games, folks.

UPDATE, 1:26 p.m.: Three underdogs in the first games bring in small points for six of our players -- including our two leaders.

UPDATE, 5:35 p.m.: The Chiefs come through with 3.5 for three of our contestants. One player's in it tonight, five tomorrow night.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Wordsmiths take it to the hole

With all the fireworks in college football this evening, and the World Series still going on in the background, it's hard to care much at this point about the loss of part or all of the upcoming pro basketball season. But when the baseball players and most of the student athletes have hung up their cleats -- about six weeks from now -- some weeknight we'll finally notice something missing.

While the pro basketball players and owners sit at home pouting, it's been interesting watching the pro basketball writers, who of course continue to pour out their punditry. There's no unanimity in that group. Our friend Dwight Jaynes, for example, has adopted a strict doctrinaire line: that the players should have accepted the owners' first offer, and every offer the owners have made since then. Meanwhile, New Jersey hoops writer Adrian Wojnarowski ripped into Blazers owner Paul Allen yesterday, reporting that Allen's tired of owning the Blazers and is looking to sell the team in the near future. Adrian, who we sense is not well liked by his peers, is taking a more pro-player slant on the labor strife.

Given the current standoff, and with the NBA season in jeopardy, maybe it's time to get a scorecard of pro hoops reporters together. Their jousting may be the only action we see this coming year.

More gang shooting, 15th & Killingsworth, broad daylight

Connected to last night's near-killing after the Jefferson football game? Maybe the mayor will have a statement from his important trade junket to China. Oh, those "gun enthusiasts."

'Dog decision due

Players in our charity pigskin underdog game, here's a reminder to get your picks in by 10 a.m. tomorrow. It's an intriguing lineup this week, with two double-digit 'dogs, a couple of 8's, and a handful of 3's. Time to throw the long bomb? If we're not mistaken, next week's the midpoint of the regular season.

More readin' it and weepin'

Yesterday we posted our annual analysis of our property tax bill. This no doubt bores some readers to tears, but for some folks it's an interesting read. One reader even requested that we present further analysis, showing the trends of the percentages of tax that the various categories represent. Here's a six-year breakout of the taxes that the City of Portland collects:

You can just see "urban renewal" eating its way through basic services.

Here are the six years for all the taxes that we pay, to all jurisdictions:

And if you are still breathing, then just for the sake of completeness, we thought we'd link to our past annual analyses. Here they are:

2010
2009
2008
2007

Jefferson High games now ending in shootouts

Alas, we're talking about football games.

Hall of Cluelessness

We see that now they're building a train museum down by where the worthless east side streetcar will meet up with the insane Mystery Train to Milwaukie. A golden spike, as it were. It will be a great place for future generations to go and wonder, "What were they thinking with all those stupid trains?" With any luck there'll be a life-size puppet of Earl the Pearl, replete with strings. The kids can pull them, just like the construction contractors and developer types did.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Have a great weekend


Just say no

Why any consumer would knowingly do business with Bank of America is beyond us. There are many other options.

Where is the mute button?

We are lunching at Burgerville today, the one at SE 122nd and Stark. The burger's fine, but the sounds coming out of the loudspeakers are curious. We've already had two rounds of "Happy Birthday to You" -- two-minute-long versions of that one -- and one of "Hail, Hail, the Gang's All Here" (with which the elderly gal in the next booth was actually singing along). Now it's "God Bless America." It's affecting our digestion.

UPDATE, 12:11 p.m.: With "Roll Out the Barrel," we're out of here. This is why they invented drive-through windows.

Super Carole releases a hostage

Remember when the Portland school board told us that if we didn't pass the outrageously oversized school tax bond measure, there'd be no money to rebuild Marysville School? Not only were the school district bureaucrats illegally using public money to deliver that political message, but now it's quite clear that the message was false. Intentionally false and misleading. There was money around all along to rebuild the school.

As late as last month, they were saying that new taxes would be needed to rebuild Marysville. There's something seriously wrong over there.

Well, of course

The politicians are acting all shocked and outraged that "stimulus" money meant to provide jobs to laid-off residents of central Oregon went to bring in foreign nationals to do the work. But what did they expect? They themselves sent out a vague and poorly thought out order for the government to start printing money and hand it out to anybody and everybody on their good side, starting immediately. Is it really a surprise that a lot of it went astray? And now we'll have to pay it back to the Chinese. This is what passes for "economic development" in the United States these days. It's going to be a sad day when our fantasy world comes to an end.

Portland "urban renewal" property tax breaks 26 cents on dollar

Our annual property tax statement has arrived, and here is the tale of the tape:

As can be seen, the "urban renewal" tax now exceeds 26% of all of the property taxes that the City of Portland takes in. On a more encouraging note, property taxes for Portland police and fire pensions actually dropped as compared to last year, although the longer trend is still clearly upward.

The new taxes are there -- money for the historical society, a hefty jump in the operating levy for Portland public schools, and "new" Portland bonds -- that's the extra tax we have to pay to buy fire trucks. Overall, our tab went up by about 5.4%. Go by streetcar!

UPDATE, 10/22, 12:24 p.m.: We've crunched some more of the numbers, here.

Oregon "lottery" has no time to listen to taxpayers

The state's out-of-control legalized wagering operation is so busy sucking kids into gambling that it doesn't allow even a few minutes for concerned residents to address the figureheads at their meetings. Disgraceful.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

NBA labor talks take bizarre turn for worse

The contentious negotiations between the American pro hoops league and its players' union broke down again today, and now it appears that at least the first half of the season is not going to happen. The union reportedly walked out after the team owners, in a highly questionable move, sent Blazers owner Paul Allen into the mediation session to tell the players off.

We are not making this up:

But this time the trouble wasn't caused as much by the disagreement on the two main issues -- the revenue split and the salary-cap system. No, the real fireworks involved an alleged attitude the owners brought into Thursday's meeting in Manhattan after what Silver called a "robust'' Board of Governors meeting in the morning, which involved heated discussions about improving the revenue-sharing plan.

"Something happened in that Board of Governors meeting,'' Kessler said.

Without Stern in the room -- though he was said to be in constant communication with the owners' side via conference call -- Silver was joined by Spurs owner Peter Holt, chairman of the labor relations committee. But there was a surprise guest, Trail Blazers owner Paul Allen.

Said Kessler: "We were told Paul Allen was here to express the views of the other Board of Governors and that view was, 'It's our way or the highway.' ''

The owners really have to be kidding. They let Allen do his hardnosed-businessman act? You couldn't come up with a less effective way of making money if you tried.

Here in Portland, we remember vividly when Allen marched into then-Mayor Tom Potter's office with his dopey spiel, "The economic model is broken." He actually expected a local taxpayer handout. The mayor laughed and wisely showed him the door.

Then there was the time that Allen started playing hardball with the pension funds that held the mortgage on his Rose Garden arena. He pouted, whined, and threw his arena corporation into bankruptcy, trying to get out of the bad interest rate he signed up for, but it didn't get him anywhere at all. The mortgage holders took over the building and waited him out. Eventually he caved in completely.

Then he was putting the Blazers up for sale -- remember that? We're not sure whom that was supposed to impress, but it too was a meaningless gesture.

There's something about Allen's business demeanor that seems to alienate everyone who sits across the table from him. But they don't give in, and eventually he backs off. He's got a terrible track record as an investor and as a judge of people. If he's the owners' mouthpiece -- if league commissioner David Stern doesn't get off his sickbed and put Allen back in the box immediately -- it's a virtual certainty that there will be no season at all. And in the end, the players might get a deal to their liking.

Make up your own joke

Portland's reality-challenged mayor is in Asia again, "promoting and growing" Portland businesses. Oh, good. His junkets to the Far East are always so productive. $10,000 of the tab for the trip will be picked up by Portland taxpayers.

Transit mall bricks: The mystery continues

They're ba-a-a-a-ack. The brick tenders on the Portland transit mall, that is. An alert reader has been watching the mindless activity on the corner of SW Fifth and Washington for months. Today is at least the third time the crews have been out there tending to the Euro-bricks -- or is it the fourth, we're starting to lose count. Here they are again, sprinkling their magic sand and mystical water:



You want to know why there's no money for basic government services? It's because Portland never stops with the Earl the Pearl pipedreams. As the reader points out, "Say what you want about Bird City, but those bricks are better cared for than anything east of 39th... er, I mean Chavez Blvd." No kidding. Go by streetcar!

The hippy hippy shake

They had a 3.9 4.0 earthquake in Berkeley in the last hour, and a 1.8 aftershock in the last half hour. Meanwhile, there were a couple of teeny, tiny 1-pointers up near Timberline Lodge this morning. What with a few little guys up by Mount Saint Helens and a few on Rainier last weekend (including a 3.7), it's an active time down below.

UPDATE, 10:47 p.m.: Berkeley got a 3.8 at about quarter after 8 this evening.

On to Plan C

Jesse Cornett, whose taxpayer-financed campaign for Portland City Council embarrassingly crashed and burned, has announced that he's closing the bar that he and his wife opened after the unsuccessful campaign. The Bus kids couldn't get him elected, and apparently they couldn't keep his pub afloat, either. Jefferson Smith will probably be the next to learn that lesson, although we doubt that he could run a bar even for nine months.

Finally, the neighbors score

Some fed-up neighbors in North Portland shut down one heroin dealing operation.

Regence cuts its losses

Here's an interesting story about the health insurance giant killing off a stinker eight-figure investment that it made just a year before.

Portland, "America's ultimate White City"

Here's an interesting take on Portland. It first appeared a couple of years ago, but we must have missed it:

As the college educated flock to these progressive El Dorados [such as Portland], many factors are cited as reasons: transit systems, density, bike lanes, walkable communities, robust art and cultural scenes. But another way to look at it is simply as White Flight writ large. Why move to the suburbs of your stodgy Midwest city to escape African Americans and get criticized for it when you can move to Portland and actually be praised as progressive, urban and hip? Many of the policies of Portland are not that dissimilar from those of upscale suburbs in their effects. Urban growth boundaries and other mechanisms raise land prices and render housing less affordable exactly the same as large lot zoning and building codes that mandate brick and other expensive materials do. They both contribute to reducing housing affordability for historically disadvantaged communities. Just like the most exclusive suburbs.

Food for thought, certainly.

Republican platform: Tax businesses that are losing money

Why not get rid of all deductions -- wouldn't that make the income tax simpler? Now Rick Perry's on the "flat tax" bandwagon, so that he can compete with Herman 999 Cain.

Deductions are there for a reason. The income tax is imposed only on the profit of a business, not on its gross receipts. Congress made the judgment 100 years ago that taxpayers who are losing money in their operations shouldn't pay tax that year. If you get rid of deductions, businesses that are in trouble will go under faster.

Deductions also help families, encourage people to give money to charity, pitch in with large medical expenses, keep poverty-level wage earners off the tax rolls. make it easier to buy a home, and enshrine many other public policies. If the Republican Presidential candidate wants to get rid of all of those effects, we'll see how that plays in Peoria.

A "flat tax" sounds great to a people the first time they hear that phrase. But not if they think about it for a couple of minutes. If Obama runs as perfect a campaign as he did three years ago, he should be able to eat the "flat tax" alive.

Portland City Hall's next triumph: the grocery business

Portland is borrowing money to cut the grass in the parks, but we have plenty of change lying around to have the bureaucrats start meddling in an industry that they know nothing about. The end result will surely be to put the public at risk while favored businesses rake in all the upside.

Apparently the fix is in for a New Seasons or Market of Choice grocery store on SW Fourth Avenue near the real estate development company known as Portland State University. It will be right on the streetcar line. The city subsidies will no doubt run into eight figures. Then Charlie Hales from Camas will tell you that the streetcar made it happen. It's the linchpin, don'tcha know.

How bad are prospects for solar manufacturing in Oregon?

They sure don't seem good. Yesterday the headline on OregonLive about the SolarWorld complaint against the Chinese labeled that company as "facing fight for survival." The story itself notes that "a look at the company's share values underscores the extreme pressure SolarWorld faces. In the most recent decline, the stock has fallen from 11.89 euros April 6 to 3.05 euros Wednesday on the Frankfurt exchange."

As for other players in the solar manufacturing game --

Lars Dannenberg, a Berenberg Bank analyst in London, sees the Chinese squeeze behind the fall. Dannenberg says solar cells and panels are rapidly becoming commodities, with little or no price premium for brand and quality of the type SolarWorld promotes. He expects developments during the next 15 months to determine whether SolarWorld survives, as falling prices force industry consolidation.

"In the end, there will be five companies" worldwide, Dannenberg predicted. Three to five companies will survive in China, he said. One U.S. manufacturer, likely First Solar, will endure. And one European company will remain, he said.

But that heavily subsidized SoloPower plant out by Kelley Point in North Portland is going to create 500 jobs over the long term. Honest.

A tough week for Jack Hanna

One of our favorite American characters is Jack Hanna, retired director of the Columbus, Ohio Zoo. Hanna, a well known media figure who does the wild animal segments on David Letterman's television show, is knowledgeable, funny, and a great promoter of the study and appreciation of the animal kingdom.

Yesterday Hanna was called in to the gruesome scene in Zanesville, just a short drive out I-70 east of Columbus, where a crazed exotic animal collector killed himself and set many dozens of beautiful but extremely dangerous animals free. Most of the animals were killed by police, because authorities had determined that it would be impossible to tranquilize and capture them safely in the dark. Hanna, who has given his career to saving and caring for animals, helped track down the freed animals and defended the sheriffs' decision to kill them.

Animal rights activists, who have no use for zookeepers like Hanna, are all over him and the authorities for their participation in the slaughter. Which is one more burden to bear in a week that will no doubt haunt Hanna for a lifetime. At least he went to bed knowing that human life was protected, which seems like the right call to us. There were 18 Bengal tigers and 17 lions roaming around, along with six black bears, two grizzlies, and three mountain lions on the loose, in the dark, all at once. That they are now dead is an abomination, but we wouldn't blame the people who pulled the triggers.

Three leopards, a grizzly, and two monkeys were saved.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

As best we can tell

Given that there's no U.S. Senate election in Oregon any time soon, this must be from Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell's campaign.

Guy with a gun at Occupy Portland

It gets dicier down there by the day.

Now hear this

Ahoy, maties! Admiral Randy is out shopping for boats again. The Fire Bureau has put out a bid for two 50-footers. Perhaps we can have a naming contest. One could be christened the S.S. Lame Duck and the other the S.S. Carollo.

Anyway, you can read all about the new ships here, and here, and here. Avast!

Condo bunkers vs. cockatoos

A scene that's painfully familiar to Portlandia is also being played out in Australia.

Brady's economic plan: Would you believe sewing?

It actually sounds kind of intriguing:

As Mayor, I will work directly with PDC to develop financing for a rapid expansion of local, shared manufacturing centers. I envision a shared metals manufacturing center, a strong sewing center for our now thriving local fashion industry and more community processing kitchens for our budding food entrepreneurs. These centers will help small businesses, which are ready to grow, expand their manufacturing at lower costs.

Her whole speech is here.

Wall Street ripoffs continue

The latest theft from the taxpayers comes this week at the hands of Bank of America. As one alert reader explains:

Bank of America Corp. has $75 trillion worth of derivatives on the books. It is now transferring derivatives from one of its holdings, Merrill Lynch, not guaranteed by the taxpayers, to Bank of America, that is backed by the FDIC [the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation]. That means the people with accounts in Bank of America -- accounts the bank is apparently not letting them close -- will soon be in line behind covering the derivatives as they clean out the assets of the bank. Then the taxpayers will have to make these depositors whole again, through the FDIC, amounting to a sort of permanent bailout.

The Federal Reserve, rather than protect depositors or the country for that matter, is supporting the move to keep Merrill Lynch going. The FDIC is understandably against it. So to review, one company takes a bad risk that it would have to pay for, and transfers it to another company that the taxpayers will have to pay for. The too big to fail argument doesn't come up because we're not bailing out Merrill Lynch -- we're just paying out the insured deposits of Bank of America. I'm not sure why the derivatives get immediately to the front of the line of payouts in their new home, but they do.

So in the midst of wave after wave of outrageous derivative-inspired rip-offs, this is yet another diabolical way for Wall Street to plunder America.

Dump your Masters of the Universe losing bets into your federally insured bank, and let the little guy bail you out? Somewhere Hank Paulson is smiling.

Super Carole 'fesses up, pays up

Portland school superintendent Carole Smith and the chief operating officer of the school district, C.J. Sylvester, have both paid their $75 fines for illegally using public funds to promote the school tax bond ballot measure last spring. So reported Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown's office, which brought the charges, as of yesterday afternoon.

The other six school board employees fined in the election abuse case haven't paid or appealed yet. Their original deadline was more than a month ago, but they've managed to get extensions of the deadline to next Tuesday.

Sir Isaac weighs in on Clackamas "urban renewal" votes

And he sees it the way we do: yes on 3-386 and no on 3-388. "I got the impression," he writes, "that the supporters of 3-386 (countywide voting) understand urban renewal and don't like it, while the supporters of 3-388 (district voting only) like urban renewal but don't understand it."

The real deal

A moment of silence for Elouise Cobell, a proud member of the Blackfeet Indian Tribe over around Browning, Montana. Here was a person who truly made a mark for her people. Cobell died of cancer Sunday night, at age 65.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The games begin

The first pot bust has been made at Occupy Portland. The city may be letting the demonstrators camp out indefinitely -- Nurse Amanda says she is proud of them -- but there's no pot or beer allowed in the parks, and that's going to become problematic if the cops play by the book. A passive-aggressive response? Classic Portland City Hall.

Cell tower weasels go Astroturf

This is scary. The T-Mobile cell phone dudes have taken to pitting cell phone users against neighbors who don't want noisy, ugly cell phone equipment popping up in the yards of any homeowner who's hard up enough to take the cell companies' money. Here's the cell boys' pitch: Write your city commissioners! Screw the people who don't want to look at this. If you have a cell phone, you should forget what it would be like to live next to one of these things. Who cares what it looks like out your window, or sounds like when you open that window? Just remember -- you're a slave to that screen...

Ya gotta love how they invite you to write your City Council member, but to do so via their website, where they can trash your message if they don't agree with it. These people are pure greed; there's a special place for them in the hereafter.

Obsessing about Kroger

We're still reeling from the news that John Kroger is leaving politics at the end of next year, at least temporarily, because his health is not up to the task. His re-election to the attorney general's office appeared to be a cakewalk, with more than $300,000 in the campaign war chest and no real opponent in sight. He must be pretty darn sick not to be able to cruise through an easy campaign to four more years in office. Maybe he's worse off than he's letting on -- whatever a "significant but not life-threatening" sickness is supposed to be.

The conspiracy theorists are hard at work this evening. Maybe it's not his health. Maybe there's a scandal brewing. Hey, anything's possible.

But we're taking this one at face value. Our guess is that he is, in fact, ill, and that it would have become obvious soon. He may or may not make it to the end of his term, but for now he says he is going to, and he's probably going to help his good personal friend, Dwight Holton, take over after he's gone. He certainly isn't going to let his nemesis, Governor Retread, appoint his successor, which we believe is what would happen in case of a vacancy.

Whatever issues we may have with Kroger, we wouldn't wish career-busting illness on anyone. The guy's only 45 years old, and he's got a stepson. Get well, dude.

Beyond Holton, the only candidates we see are Greg Macpherson, whom the unions trashed when he ran against Kroger three years ago; and as a longshot, Marc Abrams, an experienced and politically connected Justice Department attorney who heads up the attorneys' union there. Next spring's primaries look potentially more interesting all the time.

Encore

Today's fine weather did not get us back in white pants, but we are sipping tonic drinks out on the deck while the coals get hot.

Where the $19K Occupy cleanup budget would go

Here's the source of yesterday's estimate by Portland Commissioner Nick Fish of the cleanup costs at the downtown parks following the prolonged "Occupation."

Re-seed the grass three times, winterize the sprinkler system, and pressure wash all the walkways? Doesn't seem like all of that should go on the demonstrators' tab. But no surprise there, of course. That's the City of Portland way -- nickel and dime everybody to death. And basic maintenance needs aren't covered on a routine basis; for those you need a special tax or a bake sale.

Bombshell! Kroger not running for re-election.

So says Jeff Mapes at the O.

Who would be the next Oregon A.G.? Our guess: Dwight Holton.

UPDATE, 10:09 a.m.: It's official, and it's for health reasons. The announcement:

I am announcing today that I will not seek a second term as Oregon’s Attorney General.

I was recently diagnosed and am under the care of a physician at OHSU for a significant but not life threatening medical condition. It will not interfere with my legal work or prevent me from completing my term, but I will need to reduce my hours, travel less, and be careful about my health. After consulting with my doctor over the last two days, I have decided against campaigning again for statewide office.

When I ran for office in 2008, my life was different. I was a bachelor. Now I have a wife and a family. Though I believe very much in public service, my wife and I agree that my health and our family have to come first.

I ask that the community and the media respect my medical privacy and grant me the opportunity to address my health in private

It has been a great honor to serve as Oregon’s Attorney General these past three years. I am proud of what we have been able to accomplish. I look forward to completing my term and passing the office to a good successor in January 2013. I will always be grateful to the citizens of Oregon for their support.

UPDATE, 8:29 p.m.: Commentary here.

Shakeup at Leaf Tax Central

The head of business operations at the Portland city transportation bureau -- the bureau currently under federal investigation on suspicion of corruption in contracting -- has suddenly left the building. And one of the mayor's many yes men has been brought back from retirement to take over.

As usual, there's something funny going on over there, and we don't mean ha-ha funny.

Brady throwing in with Portland State, OHSU

When asked about job creation, Portland mayoral candidate Eileen Brady talked about Portland State and OHSU as a good place to throw money. Ick.

Meanwhile, her opponent, Charlie Hales of Camas, Washington, would relax environmental protection rules north and west of the Fremont Bridge. Also ick.

And the capper: "All express support for spending urban renewal money on economic development." Ipecac ick.

In a way we feel sorry for Hales and Brady. One of them is going to inherit a Portland that's as screwed up as the country was when Dick Cheney gave up control of the White House. It appears that the Sam Rand twins are going to skate away, but the city's free-range financial chickens are coming home to roost soon. The next mayoral term is likely to be one of relative austerity. Big plans won't be worth the full-color brochures they're printed on.

The latest from Hales and Brady is discouraging. And we'd never vote for the phony Jeffer-Sam Smith for anything. So which kid named Max do we vote for for mayor -- Brumm or Bauske?

'Dogs running slower this year

We're now through six weeks out of the 20-week season in our charity pro football underdog game. If we're counting right, there have been 25 winning 'dogs so far; the average points won per victorious 'dog is 4.16. A perfect score so far would be 45.0. Discounting 'dogs that have paid 2 points or less, there have been 20 winners.

Last year at this time, we count 35 winning 'dogs, but averaging only 4.03. A perfect score would have been only 41.5. Discounting 'dogs that paid 2 or less, there were 28 winners.

This year there are 33 players. 27 have some points; last year, 29 out of 32 did. The top score so far is 21.5; last year at this time it was 26.5. Two players currently have four correct picks; none has five or six. (Last year we had one player with 5 out of 6, but he was not the leader or the eventual winner.) Perhaps most tellingly, the average score per player is currently 8.47; last year it was 12.45.

Maybe it's the labor strife that delayed the pre-season that's making it easier for the bookies to call the winners in the moneyline. Whatever it is, it's been a challenging season for our players so far.

But don't look back -- somebody might be gaining on you. Here's how the mutts shape up for the weekend ahead:

14 INDIANAPOLIS at New Orleans
13 ST. LOUIS at Dallas
8.5 MINNESOTA vs. Green Bay
8 JACKSONVILLE vs. Baltimore
3.5 ATLANTA at Detroit
3.5 ARIZONA vs. Pittsburgh
3.5 KANSAS CITY at Oakland
3 SEATTLE at Cleveland
3 HOUSTON at Tennessee
2.5 WASHINGTON at Carolina
1 TAMPA BAY vs. Chicago

Nothing for Chargers/Jets or Broncos/Dolphins yet... probably tonight.

So far we see a couple of great Danes, a couple of full-size shepherds, a bunch of yapping terriers, and a chihuahua. Good luck with the pickin', players.

UPDATE, 8:38 p.m.: As promised, the last two:

2 NEW YORK JETS vs. San Diego
1.5 DENVER at Miami

Monday, October 17, 2011

'Dogs won't hunt at night

Another Monday night underdog went down to defeat tonight, leaving the standings in our charity game the same way they were yesterday afternoon. Condolences to the Flipper fans. The lines for next week's slate of games should appear here tomorrow.

Handmaidens of the 1%

We complain all the time about how big money dominates politics in this country, but nobody ever points a finger at the mainstream media, who make matters worse by playing right along. Here's a dismissive paragraph posted today on the WW site that speaks volumes:

The PBA didn't send questionnaires to a number of no-money candidates who have also filed to run, including Novick's two challengers, Powellhurst-Gilbert Neighborhood Association President Mark White and Office of Neighborhood Involvement program coordinator Jeri Williams.

What an awful way to marginalize people -- to call them "no-money candidates." As long as the organized press has such an easy way to wave off lesser known contenders for political office, there isn't much hope that the current state of affairs is going to change for the better.

Nick Fish's lament

They're trashing the park! People can't enjoy the public spaces! They won't leave -- it's been weeks! They're going to leave behind an awful mess! It will cost thousands and thousands of dollars to clean up!

Right on, Nick! Darned Rose Festival...

Carollo deal: the official version

Following our stories about the City of Portland's quiet deal to lease its drinking water wells to a private company to test water treatment systems for corporate manufacturers, the city's water bureau has published its own version of the deal. It's been up for a few weeks now, here, but today's the first we noticed it.

Portlandia's going...

A reader writes:

Here's a subject that has me increasingly baffled... I'm seeing banana trees, banana plants, bananas, bananas. People are planting banana plants as ornimentals all over the bike and sustainable neighborhoods. What's going on with that, and who are these people? What's next, crocodiles?

A meal ticket for the Tom Miller types

And any other Portland bureau manager who will be shown the door when Mayor Slopbucket moves on -- a guaranteed severance. But only for those who don't make it for three years. No wonder Portland's borrowing money for park maintenance.

A year to go


Is SoloPower the next solar bust?

A lot of questions are being asked about Portland's new economic savior, that's for sure.

Oh, those kids

A reader writes:

At a high school in Wisconsin, a group of boy students played a prank. They let three goats loose inside the school.

But before turning them loose, they painted numbers on the sides of the goats: 1, 2 and 4. School administrators spent most of the day looking for No. 3.

Now that's funny, I don't care who you are.

Plenty of room on the bandwagon

We've been grousing for a couple of years now about how much money government in the Portland area spends on p.r. flacks these days. Willy Week picked up on our lament a while back and did a few stories on the subject, although its catalog of propaganda merchants left out a few bigger fish.

Now the O's taken an interest in the topic, and it's sent out two reporters from its dwindling army to see what happens on the state level. No surprise -- millions are being blown on packaging and delivering the government's messages.

These excesses call for a correction. It would probably take an initiative ballot measure, but there ought to be a cap on how much the bureaucracy can blow on public relations.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

PC unwelcome wagon arrives

We wondered how long it would take for things to get ugly at the Mars Hill Church in close-in Southeast Portland. The answer is, not long. Demonstrators in masks and black outfits, blocking the door to a church and shouting obscenities -- that doesn't sound like the "spirit of equity" that we're hearing so much about.

Two 'dogs have their day

Tampa Bay and San Francisco scored points for the players in our charity underdog game today, leaving the standings as follows with four players riding on the Fish tomorrow night:

Continue reading "Two 'dogs have their day" »

Taking a stab at safety

We rode the MAX train out toward Gresham the other day. Just a couple of stops, but that was more than enough. The train was packed, and there were a lot of hostile vibes being thrown around by the passengers. Letting people on and off the train, and holding the doors open, were real issues for some of those on board. Several unfriendly comments were passed within our earshot. There was a definite feeling of lawlessness about the whole thing. Worse than on the New York subway, really, because at least in New York there are a few unwritten rules and an occasional transit cop. In Portland, there don't seem to be any of either.

We were glad to get off that train, and have no desire to get on it again. And we're not at all surprised to read about this incident this morning.

Nothin' but the 'dogs in ya

The sixth week of our charity pro football underdog game is about to begin, and here is how our players have aligned themselves:

12.5 JACKSONVILLE at Pittsburgh - Paul, Bayou Baby, mna
7.5 MIAMI at New York Jets (Monday) - Bob, NoPoGuy, Broadway Joe, Gary
7 INDIANAPOLIS at Cincinnati - Larry Legend, Ricardo, Rudie, Michael K.
7 HOUSTON at Baltimore - Weavmo
7 DALLAS at New England - Usual Kevin, Annie, Biggest Cubs Loser, Gordon, Money Maker, Grizfan, Eric W.
5.5 CLEVELAND at Oakland - Pete Rozelle, john dull
4.5 TAMPA BAY vs. New Orleans - Carol, Bad Brad, Drewbob
4.5 SAN FRANCISCO at Detroit - genop's gal, PDXileinOmaha, John Ch., John Cr.
4 CAROLINA at Atlanta - jmh, genop, AKevin
3 BUFFALO at New York Giants - Tommy W., umpire

Nobody took the biggest dog on the board, St. Louis; or Minnesota or Philadelphia.

UPDATE, 1:41 p.m.: The Niners come through for four of our players. No other winners in the early games.

By the way, we've settled on this year's charity prize structure, and here it is:

Continue reading "Nothin' but the 'dogs in ya" »

Latest from City of Portland: garbage porn

We're used to getting inane, full-color propaganda mailers from the City of Portland, but yesterday the mailman brought us a whole envelope full of them:

It takes four different brochures to explain to us how the ordeal of household solid waste disposal is about to become even more inconvenient, and for some, more expensive than it already is. Basically, they're cutting back landfill garbage pickup from every week to every two weeks, and they're pressuring everyone to throw food slop in their yard debris bins:

Less service, more hassle. But it's "green"! "You know, you should definitely feel guilty about all that garbage you're making. And about that carbon dioxide you're giving off when you breathe..."

Anyway, it's kind of interesting to see how Portland looks in the eyes of the bureaucrats. Oh, the food slop bucket -- fun for everyone!



After you pay your garbage bill, you can kick back with a nice bottle of Two-Buck Chuck:

And if you really want to know what's going on, just pick up your hard copy of the O or Time magazine:

Anyway, our last normal garbage pickup is nine days from now. After that, nothing but stinky, slimy, sustainable goodness.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Occupy Portland makes a statement

I'm not sure, but I think it says "I can't afford a Mercedes":

[Via Wagner.]

In Japan, nuke betrayal becoming too obvious to ignore

"Radioactive substances are entering people's bodies from the air, from the food. It's everywhere," said Kiyoshi Toda, a radiation expert at Nagasaki University’s faculty of environmental studies and a medical doctor. "But the government doesn’t even try to inform the public how much radiation they're exposed to."

There are hot spots all over Tokyo and Yokohama. Lots of folks are being exposed to dangerous radiation, and have been for seven months now, and the Japanese government, like the rest of the world, just ignores it. It's tragic.

'Dogs for lunch

We had weenies for dinner last night, and there are still a few in the fridge. Which reminds us, readers who play the charity football 'dog game with us need to get their picks to underdog@bojack.org by 10 a.m. Pacific time tomorrow. Only about half our players have weighed in at this writing -- don't forget, players!

Another earthquake at Hanford

The latest shaker was a 3.4 about 11:10 last night, at exactly the same spot as the 3.7 they had in early September. The site of some of the worst nuclear dumping on the planet, Hanford, which sits next to the Columbia River, is not a place where one can ignore seismic activity.

UPDATE, 10:11 p.m.: A 1.6 on the exact same spot, this evening at 6:15.

Keepin' it weird

Do you think the Portland City Council is going to show more maturity when Steve Novick replaces Randy Leonard? Doesn't seem likely.

Green pot calls green kettle black

Wish we had put down the coffee before clicking on this one -- now we're wiping off our screen. New York Senator Ron "Gatsby" Wyden visited the Portland area yesterday, bringing with him one of his fellow Republicans, Lisa Murkowski from Palinland. So they go out to the SolarWorld plant in Hillsboro for a tour. They put on lab coats, goggles, the whole works.

Everybody out there is grousing about how the Chinese are undercutting them. And Gatsby tells the reporters that it's illegal. The Chinese government is subsidizing that country's solar industry, and that's not fair! It's cheating! It's a violation of treaties, yada yada yada.

As if the United States weren't doing the same darn thing. SolarWorld got $12 million in state tax credits. The Solyndra scam, with federal money poured into a black hole, is an instant legend. And now here in Portland, SoloPower is getting tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer handouts, including sweetheart loans.

Wyden's remarks get funnier by the month. Starting with "I live in Portland" and "I'm a progressive Democrat," but now moving through the issues as well. "The government is violating your privacy rights, but I can't tell you how." And "The Chinese are cheating by subsidizing solar." Cracks us up.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Have a great weekend


Empty promises

We love Costco, but when it comes to dealing with returned deposit bottles and cans, they're not much better than the local retailers -- which is to say, terrible. Out at the Costco by the airport, they have a grand total of one machine that takes glass and one that takes plastic. Given the massive quantities of beverage containers going out the door of that warehouse, for them to have that few return processing machines is obscene. There really ought to be a law requiring high-volume sellers to have high-volume deposit return processing capabilities.

At least they keep the area around the infernal machines relatively scum-free, which is more than one can say for Safeway or Fred Meyer. And Costco has enough people running around that you don't have to wait a half hour for a surly teenager to unjam them. If the machines break down too badly, you can usually sweet-talk somebody inside Costco to pay you for your bottles without waiting for the contraptions outside to be fixed. The people behind the desk won't touch the empties, but they'll usually take your word for how many are in your cart.

Anyway, as we stood there the other day, wasting time waiting for our turn to play the absurd game with the machines, we were thinking, should we really be bothered? Why don't we do what so many Portlanders do -- just leave them out with the garbage, and let scavengers take them away? Well, because at our house it comes to $100 a year or more. We're not going to give $100 a year away to street people that we don't even know. We work too hard for that money.

Our latest bottle return encounter, which featured all sorts of mishaps with the machines, reminded us that a revision of Oregon bottle deposit law was passed over the summer, and that we're overdue to have a look at what the changes mean. As it turns out, despite a lot of hoopla, not much will change for quite a while.

Under the new law, all manner of beverage containers that aren't subject to deposit now, will be added to the ordeal. But in all likelihood that won't happen until 2018. And the deposit per container may go up from a nickel to a dime -- but not until 2017 at the earliest, and maybe never.

When politicians tell you what the law is going to be six or seven years from now, you might want to break out a big old grain of salt.

Not much discussed is another feature of the law -- that at some point, you won't be able to bring back more than 24 containers a day to a retailer. That's down considerably from the 144-container limit in place now. So will you be schlepping them around with you every time you go to the store? Supposedly that problem won't arise, because there are going to be mega-redemption centers set up, like two that are currently going in Oregon City and Wood Village. But the new law doesn't require the centers. It merely "encourages" them. Swell.

Is this going to work? Ask the "green" people in the state legislature. Like Jeffer-Sam Smith. This is their crowning achievement.

Bottom line: It's the same old slimy mess, and likely to remain so for a long time. So Costco, in the meantime, do us a favor. How about a few more machines, at least?

It's about time

They've indicted a Catholic bishop in Missouri on a charge of failing to report child sex abuse by a priest.

The bureaucratic mind at work

Apparently the City of Portland is thinking about fining itself over Occupy Portland. It's like a Marx Brothers movie, only not as funny.

Paying for Vera's mistakes

The debtmeisters at Portland City Hall went to the well again a few weeks ago, borrowing $67 million to refinance loans that had been taken out 10 years ago to finance the utterly misguided expansion of the Convention Center. Actually, it's more like $77 million -- that's how much the new bondholders forked over to pay off the old loans. But through the usual hocus pocus of banks, the face amount of the new IOUs is $67 million. The official sales pitch is here.

Like the old bonds, the new paper puts the city in hock through 2031 to pay for the Convention Center expansion. The bonds are fully backed by the city's property tax base, and so they must be repaid come hell or high water. They certainly aren't contingent on the Convention Center breaking even -- Wall Street isn't that dumb. Paying the bonds so far, and expected to do so for a good while longer, have been the Multnomah County taxes on hotel rooms and car rentals.

Some folks say, "The locals shouldn't complain -- the tourists are paying for it." Folks, don't let the shell game fool you. Tourists should pay taxes around here -- and those taxes should go for things we really need. Our hotel tax could be going to get the mentally ill throngs off our streets, to give just one example.

Anyway, on top of the refinancing bonds, the city has an additional $15 million or so of 2001 bonds outstanding for the Convention Center, and those aren't being refinanced. All told, there's about $90 million of debt still to pay for this particular boo-boo by the 2001 City Council -- a blunder that then-Mayor Vera Katz insisted on making despite voters' rejection of the expansion with the defeat of ballot measure 26-69 in 1998.

The total debt payments left on both the continuing and the refinanced debt -- counting principal and interest -- come to $155 million. The wing of the Convention Center that was built with all that borrowed money continues to stand empty most of the time. But hey, Hoffman Construction got paid. The City Council was particularly good at that aspect of things.

UPDATE, 10:38 a.m.: Oh, and by the way -- also on the City Council back in those days was one Mr. Charlie Hales.

Portland streetcar insanity just won't stop

When you try to explain it to the average person, they won't believe what you tell them. It's that crazy.

If only the inevitable Tri-Met bankruptcy would come sooner, rather than later, maybe this region would have some money left over to re-create a local economy when the recession wears off. Alas, that probably isn't going to happen. And so our shiny trains to nowhere will probably rust out before there's any work to commute to on them. Sorry, kids.

New face card at Portland parks

The City of Portland has a new parks director, Mike Abbaté. He replaces Zari Santner, who retired, and Sue Keil, who served as interim parks director while the FBI was raiding her old bureau, transportation, over the parking meter contracting scandal.

Abbaté has worked at the parks bureau for half a year. Before that he was a city planner out in Gresham, and apparently he had a real job at one point as a landscape architect.

He inherits a park system that's basically insolvent, and with lots of deferred maintenance needs. At last report, Portland had to draw on a line of credit for $320,000 just to cover park maintenance expenses. In addition, it's got more than $16 million in long-term park bonds outstanding, and that too is earmarked for maintenance.

Abbaté's predecessor tried for quite a while to sell off parkland and lease it to private corporations to make the park system a profit center. Those moves were flushed out and stopped, but neglect continues. Like all other essential city services, the parks are being held hostage to streetcar projects, "urban renewal," and the Mystery Train to Milwaukie. There's plenty of money to build condo toys, but to cut the grass in the parks you have to hold a bake sale.

And of course, one of his first jobs will be dealing with Occupy Portland and the leadership being shown in that situation by the city's unique mayor. Good luck to you, Mike Abbaté. Try not to get indicted.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

It's your fang

While politicians in Portland entertain the idea of adding fluoride to the city's drinking water supply, many other communities are deliberately taking it out.

Is Captain Morgan a *fire* captain?

Here in Portlandia, we live on the border of Washington State, and so our TV stations run political ads aimed at Washington voters. Currently they're gearing up to vote up there on a measure that would shut down state liquor stores and have hard liquor sold in the grocery stores, like they do in California. It's a major big-money showdown between players like Costco, who want to make some serious coin by getting into selling booze, and the people who are already on that gravy train -- the current network of distributors, apparently.

But man, you look at the TV ads, and it's a total fantasy world. The "yes" folks wheel out a fireman to tell us that the state will come out ahead financially if it closes the state stores -- and that's more money for public safety. Uh huh. Then on the "no" side we get another fireman-type "first responder" telling us that if the measure passes, there will be absolute carnage on the roads from a new epidemic of teenage drinking.

Whew. Somebody open a window.

And we're living here in Allentown

Say what you want about the vagueness of the demands of the Occupy crowd, it's clear that they have a lot to be angry about. Here's a brilliant collection of charts and graphs that spells it out quite well.

Putting the middle class out of its misery

Boy, things move fast in the GOP Presidential sweepstakes. Last week we had never heard of Herman Cain -- this week he's a frontrunner?

He's quite a package. He leads his spiel with a screamingly regressive 9% national sales tax and the ever-popular but utterly unworkable "flat tax." Then we look a little further down the résumé and see that he's an ex-chair of a branch of the shadowy Federal Reserve.

Now, that is downright scary.

The new Portland PC: No Halloween costumes

It seems that the people running Portlandia won't be happy until they have sucked all of the joy out of life here. Now kids can't wear costumes to school on Halloween. Next year, they'll get rid of Thanksgiving. After all, whom are you thanking?

Here's a health

We've spent a little time over the last few months in the hands of doctors and nurses. Theirs is an enormous industry, sucking up much of America's money. But hey, when you need them, you need them.

As it turns out, there's a blog-like health news outfit in town called the Lund Report, which until this morning we confess we haven't seen before. It's quite an active site, and it's got all sorts of articles on it about health care, with an Oregon focus. For example, our friend Marc Franklin contributed a piece yesterday, in which he provides a nice overview of the challenges the state faces in trying to get decent medical care to the entire population without also going into bankruptcy. Elsewhere, we learn that OHSU is bragging about a net worth of $183 million. Go by aerial tram!

Anyway, there's plenty more where that came from. We'll be keeping an eye on that site, now that we've noticed it's there.

Exiles off Main Street

It appears that the Portland police have reopened the street that was being blocked by the Occupy Portland protesters. According to KGW, eight people were arrested.

UPDATE, 9:38 a.m.: The O's version is here.

Fore? No, it's a five.

A friend of ours who's a world traveler tells us that when he mentions Oregon to wealthy foreigners, they often remark about either the Bandon Dunes golf course or our pinot noir. Let's hope that some day a devastating earthquake isn't added to the topic list for chitchat. They had a 5.3 about 150 miles off Bandon last evening, in an area prone to shakers. So far, there appear to be no reports of anybody feeling it on shore.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Nothing to worry about

The situation is tense, but Sam Adams is in charge, and everything is under control.

Dr. Darm slinks off

A foolish lawsuit has reportedly come to its conclusion. Bloggers 1, Guys with Issues 0.

Portland charter change getting serious

Here's some interesting news from the commission that may be referring a city charter change to Portland voters. You know that new utility ratemaking commission they've been talking about? The latest version under discussion would require a unanimous City Council vote to override the rates set by the new utility board. The politicians would need five votes rather than three to flip the commission's determination. Now, that would be a serious reform -- and given the junk projects that water and sewer revenues are going for these days, long overdue.

You're *not* safe, even in the bike lane


[Warning: Audio is NSFW]

Sustainable Susan tells us so

Years ago, to get us to eat our vegetables, Mom used to say, "Think of all the children who are starving in Africa." (Which used to lead us to say, "Well, they can have my cauliflower.")

If that doesn't work, today's moms have a new one: "You'll be saving a polar bear."

One or the other

Here's a presidential debate question that we'd love to see asked.

Portland City Council goes postal

What gang shootings? What debt crisis? What potholes? Now the city commissioners in Portlandia have time to take sides in a labor dispute at the Post Office. Here's what the mayor calls their "letter of concern to UPSP Postmaster General." What a piece of work.

New downtown homeless camp is sustainable

A reader sends along a photo showing the earth-friendly "repurposing" of some old doors:

He writes:

That is the new "resting center" on Burnside where the Admiral's hit squad closed the porn shop that you blogged about the other day. I figured I would stroll by and get a couple of photos. I did not feel comfortable taking inside-the-compound photos. They are building plywood foundations and placing tents on top of them, looking to be a long-term spot with the usual Portland insanity, speckled with some irony and served with a side of high-octane malt liquor!

On time and under budget, too. But watch out: The countdown is on until the Admiral goes all Greek Cusina on their butts.

Willy Week hit piece targets BlueOregon

The guys at Willamette Week, whose news coverage often seems to us to have an ulterior motive, today rip into the well known "progressive" blog BlueOregon, accusing it of being biased in favor of the paying clients of its editor, political consultant Kari Chisholm. WW ace Nigel Jaquiss takes exception to the blog's favorable coverage of congressional candidate Brad Avakian, at the expense of his rival, Suzanne Bonamici.

Bonamici has used Chisholm in the past, but for her congressional race she's reportedly hired "Winning" Mark Wiener, the established heavy hitter among political gurus in town. It would not be surprising if Wiener gave Jaquiss the "story idea."

There's also a little jab at the end of the article about BlueOregon getting less traffic than this blog. What relevance that has to the favoritism charge, we don't know. But for the record, we do get more traffic these days -- including during election season. Our readership outpaced BlueOregon's every month for the last 12, including last October and November.

Anyway, if it's true that in politics every knock is a boost, it should be a nice day for Chisholm, whose frequent conflict-of-interest disclaimers have become a comedy staple in the Portland blogosphere.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Cylvia's revenge?

Governor Retread just took away the raises that the state's fearless attorney general laid on his managers last week. It's not the first time that the guv has flipped Mr. John Kroger the bird over money. Remember when Kroger urged the Kitz concubine to disgorge the Consulting Fee That Launched 1,000 Ships? The phrase "lead balloon" comes to mind.

Tick tick tick

It seems just a matter of time before some folks get arrested in the Occupy Portland protests. They've got Main Street blocked, and that really screws up traffic downtown. The mayor's trying to play both sides, which will work only for a limited time. Portland activists are tenacious, and Portland police play rough. Sounds like a recipe for trouble.

Speaking of recipes, in the Big Apple they're doing it up right.

All you need to know about Portland city government

In the very neighborhood where this is happening, all the local politicians and bureaucrats want to talk about is this. Go by streetcar -- to your father's funeral.

Water bureau pals spilled mercury near, or into, Columbia Slough

The private engineering company that's quietly been allowed to set up its equipment testing facility in the City of Portland drinking water well field has on at least two occasions had accidents that likely dumped small amounts of mercury into the nearby Columbia Slough, according to records filed with the state.

Carollo Engineers, which operates a large-scale commercial "validation" plant for ultraviolet water purification systems on city-owned property, has had bulbs break inside the "reactor" units that it was testing. The city, which is responsible for pollution at the site, was unable to assure the state that none of the mercury inside the bulbs leaked into the slough. In its reports to the state Department of Environmental Quality, the city emphasized that the amount of mercury in the bulbs was quite small, and that most of the mercury from inside the broken bulbs was recovered before it made it to the slough. Nonetheless, there was no way to tell for sure how much, if any, mercury made it into water. "It cannot be verified," the city wrote, "that all the mercury has been recovered and we must conservatively assume that some small fraction of the mercury might have been released to the Slough."

The accidents occurred on April 9, 2003 and May 11, 2007. The city's letters reporting the incidents to the DEQ are here. The state did not take action against the city or Carollo, and no testing was done of nearby sediments because there is already mercury in the slough, and stirring up the bottom might have made matters worse.

The state allowed the city to permit Carollo to build and start operating the testing plant in 2003, without any changes to the city's environmental permits for the well field. The permits allow the city to discharge groundwater into both the slough and the Columbia River. When Carollo started operating, the quantity of water being pumped out of the wells and then dumped increased a thousandfold. Instead of something like 6,000 gallons a day discharged, the amounts have increased to as much as 6 million gallons a day.

As we reported last month, in the year ended June 30, 2010, Carollo purchased 291.5 million gallons of water from the city, more than 60 million gallons more than the parks bureau and more than 125 million more than the public schools. Among the city's retail water customers, Carollo is second in consumed volume only to Siltronic Corp., the silicon chip maker, which purchased 549.2 million gallons that year.

Other large customers are charged five times the rate that Carollo pays the city for water. The city explains this by noting that the water it sells the firm is untreated.

Bring it on

The days are getting shorter, the shadows longer, the weather cooler and wetter. And so it's time for the City of Portland to showcase its winter storm preparedness. Executive summary: Both snow plows are pretty much ready to go.

Smith at Harvard -- 5% or 10%?

We've raised quite a few questions about the self-made legend of Portland mayoral candidate Jefferson Smith. One aspect of his story is that he graduated in the top 5% of his class at Harvard Law School. We're wondering how he could make that claim. Granted, he graduated magna cum laude, which in 1999 (Smith's graduation year), meant the top 10% of the class. (In contrast, back in the days when Barack Obama graduated, far more than 10% of the grads got the magna honor.)

But as best we can tell, Harvard Law never did publish a class rank for its students in those days, and so how can Smith make a claim that he was in the top 5% when he graduated? Is this an embellishment? Ten percent is genuinely impressive -- why try to top it if your better story can't be proven?

The early bird catches the 'dog

It's a slow news morning, and our oddsmaker has already set most of the lines for this coming weekend in our charity pro football underdog game, so what the hey -- here they are:

14.5 ST. LOUIS at Green Bay
12.5 JACKSONVILLE at Pittsburgh
7.5 MIAMI at New York Jets (Monday, pick still due Sunday 10 a.m. Pacific Time)
7 INDIANAPOLIS at Cincinnati
7 HOUSTON at Baltimore
7 DALLAS at New England
5.5 CLEVELAND at Oakland
4.5 TAMPA BAY vs. New Orleans
4 CAROLINA at Atlanta
3 BUFFALO at New York Giants
1 PHILADELPHIA at Washington

We should have Niners/Lions and Vikings/Bears within a day or so.

UPDATE, 8:37 p.m.: Here are the last two:

4.5 SAN FRANCISCO at Detroit
3 MINNESOTA at Chicago

Good luck, players -- especially those of you who (like we, in a different game) are 0 for 5.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Gang violence hits NE 42nd

Two shootings in three nights on that street, the latest a fatality. To go with a 9 p.m. Saturday shooting at Mississippi and Killingsworth. These tragic events wouldn't be so alarming if only we had grownups to run the police bureau.

UPDATE, 10/11, 7:07 a.m.: It gets worse: The Trib reports two shootings along 42nd just last night, including the one fatality. It's also placing once of the incidents at the 100 block of NE 42nd. If that's right (we doubt it), it's the Laurelhurst neighborhood.

UPDATE, 10/11, 3:09 p.m.: As we suspected, last night's second shooting was not on 42nd. It was on the 100 block of NE 102nd. The fatal shooting, however, was in fact on 42nd.

Da Bearss? Da-feated.

There were no winners in our charity pigskin underdog game tonight, and so our standings stay where they were last night. AKevin leads our pack with 21.5 points. But the season's still young. And lines for this coming weekend's contests should show up here tomorrow.

Question of the Week

Leave it to D'berry:

You couldn't occupy Lake Oswego, where the millionaires actually live?

Dealing with Fireman Randy can make you crazy

Here's the latest case in point. Should be quite a show.

Reed nuke connection to psych building interests feds

The federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which is considering whether to renew the license of the creaky old toy research reactor and social club at Reed College, posed an interesting question recently. The reactor is separated from the rest of the school's psychology building (originally its chemistry building) by just a single door. Can Reed prove that in case of a reactor accident, the folks in the psych department won't get irradiated?

Here's the response. There'd be some exposure, says the nuclear club. But it wouldn't be that bad.

Honest.

Speaking of creaky old reactors that ought to be decommissioned, here are the 10 oldest in the United States. Bookmark the list to check back when there's another big earthquake. None of them are ready for one.

Invisible men

We admire people who will take to the streets to make a statement -- we've even done a bit of that ourselves over the years -- but do you know what we don't get? People who demonstrate in a place like Portland with masks over their faces.

Come on, people, what kind of statement is that supposed to make? Is it that you honestly fear some sort of serious reprisal for being out there? Is it just to bait the cops? Or are we supposed to be afraid of what terrible thing you might do?

It's like anonymous posting on the internet. We can see it if you have something unique and valuable to say, and you have a compelling reason not to sign your real name. But to march around as part of a crowd? If you won't show your face, it's almost as if you aren't really there. You'd be a lot more effective with the bandana off your mug. Hiding who you are diminishes and marginalizes what you're doing.

(Alleged) Gropers in the News

Here in Portlandia, we've got quite a pair to draw to. Just good-natured "horseplay"? Which century are they living in?

Big boss man, can't you hear me when I call?

Oregon's fearless attorney general is the unions' pet -- he was their ultimate revenge against his erstwhile rival -- but the unionized attorneys who work for him are not entirely enthused about his handling of their pay and perks. The latest squabble is over bus pass subsidies that the state Justice Department lays on the union members -- they're being cut while managers get raises. This has prompted the head of the attorneys' union to put out an alert to his membership, a copy of which was sent to us for some reason.

Anyway, the union chief, Marc Abrams, wrote:

For the past year, DOJ has been attempting to terminate the program that subsidizes mass transit passes in Salem and Portland, which costs DOJ $87,000/yr, about $15K of that for OAJA members. However, this program is compensation, and so must be bargained. DOJ did not attempt to bargain its discontinuation, so, as a matter of status quo, it continues.

But does it? A month ago, DOJ unilaterally told payroll to cut off the bus passes effective November. For the past month, we have been trying to figure out why the Front Office thinks it can do this, particularly as their own collective bargaining representative, Craig Cowan of DAS, agrees this must be bargained.... No request to re-open bargaining has been received, nor has management suggested what they might offer in return. But although I have sent several communications to management asking them to affirm the program will not be ended, I have not received a definitive response from management. Be assured that if DOJ wrongfully discontinues this program, we will be filing a grievance.

Peter Robbed, Paul Prospers

Meanwhile, although DOJ says it can no longer afford your bus passes, we received the attached letter last week. AICs [attorneys in charge] (but, oddly, only those at the top step, but that may be most of them), are getting raises, as are AAICs [assistant AICs], Division Heads and Mary Williams. Top step AICs will move from $116,016 to $129,906, apparently effective immediately. This is a 12% raise. By contrast, we are getting slightly less than 4%, most of it deferred until the very end of the biennium.

Now, OAJA does not necessarily object to compensating attorneys properly. After all, it is our belief, well documented by salary surveys, that we are still significantly underpaid. But it seems to us that there is a problem announcing that these raises are immediate, when ours are deferred. There is a problem when saying these raises are needed for recruitment and retention when we were specifically told OAJA did not need raises to recruit and retain throughout collective bargaining. There is a problem when DOJ waits until our bargaining is over then grants much larger raises to managers, just as former Governor Kulongoski did several years ago, and that move was rightly greeted with both union and public uproar. And consider that each AIC raise will cost just shy of $14,000. How [many] are there? How much will the Division head, AAIC and Mary’s raises cost? Just two of these equal the amount they want to take from OAJA members for your bus passes.

With the boss running unopposed for re-election, perhaps he's not as attentive to the whole organized labor movement as he was four years ago.

More on opening Lake O. to the public

Our post of the other day about the possibility of allowing everyone access to the waters of Oswego Lake was followed a few days later by this op-ed piece in the local paper down there. Apparently some people in city government actually want it. Oh, the drama ahead.

Not in the 99%

The guy running Goodwill Industries in Portland, Michael Miller, continues to pull obscene compensation out of that nominally nonprofit organization: $719K a year at last report. No wonder goods aren't so cheap in the Goodwill stores any more.

Now, there's somebody who needs to see some picket signs.

It's a fairly sketchy database, but you can search Miller's and other nonprofit exec salaries here. Let it inform your charitable gifts this holiday season.

Isn't she lovely

The nuclear wizards at Tokyo Electric have nearly completed building a hut around one of the four trashed reactor buildings at the triple meltdown site at Fukushima. The cover is supposed to keep airborne radioactive releases down, which is a bit like closing the barn door after the horse has left. It also obscures the condition of the reactor building from public view.

Of course, it does nothing to stop the flow of highly radioactive water from the basement of the building into the groundwater and Pacific Ocean. And they're still not saying, if they even know, exactly where the melted-down radioactive lava (a.k.a. "corium") is sitting.

Anyway, once they get the hut finished, they can move on to reactors 3 and 4, which also need a little work. Meanwhile, millions of folks for dozens of miles around continue their lives as human guinea pigs.

UPDATE, 10:27 a.m.: Speaking of guinea pigs, this is just profoundly sad. Rather than get children away from radiation, the Japanese just leave them there and use them for statistical purposes. Absolutely immoral, but that's the nuclear way.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Night 'dog dud

The birds of Georgia failed this evening, which means that the standings in our underdog game shape up this way, with two players riding on Da Bearss tomorrow:

Continue reading "Night 'dog dud" »

Yo, Jude!

An old friend who constantly cracked us up in high school continues to do so to this day via the miracle of Facebook. His latest:

Paul McCartney just married a woman whose family is in the trucking business in New Jersey. I hope he knows what he's getting into. I can just imagine the wedding ceremony:

"... for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, till death do you part. No... look at me, Paulie. I'm serious. Till death do you part. One way or the other. Y'know what I'm sayin'?"

Moonbeam says no to the bike kids

California's once and future governor has decided that it's not a good idea to require motorists to slow to 15 miles an hour when passing cyclists. He's vetoed a bill that would have required the slowdown, saying that it would cause more harm than good. How politically incorrect of him.

America, 2011

A reader in Portland (St. John's, we think) wrote us last evening:

I went for a bike ride today and saw this from a bridge two blocks from my house. The first one is looking to the north. The second is looking to the south....


This is what they are: Stryker.

I'm not a conspiracy guy, but when there is a train of armored fighting vehicles, further than you can see in both directions, less than 100 yards from your front door, it makes you wonder.

Walking the 'dogs

The players in our charity pigskin underdog game have spoken, and here's who they'll be rooting for today and tomorrow:

9.5 SEATTLE at New York Giants - Bob, Michael K.
9.5 NEW YORK JETS at New England - Pete Rozelle, john dull, Gordon, Bayou Baby, Annie, Weavmo, Eric W.
6 OAKLAND at Houston - PDXileinOmaha, Usual Kevin, Larry Legend, Gary, Carol, Tommy W., genop
6 CAROLINA vs. New Orleans - Broadway Joe, Bad Brad, Grizfan, Drewbob
5.5 ATLANTA vs. Green Bay - mna
5.5 CHICAGO at Detroit - Ricardo, Biggest Cubs Loser
5 TENNESSEE at Pittsburgh - Paul, Rudie, umpire
4 DENVER vs. San Diego - NoPoGuy, genop's gal
3 BUFFALO vs. Philadelphia - AKevin, Money Maker, John Ch.
2.5 CINCINNATI at Jacksonville - jmh

One distinctive thing about our game: You wind up rooting for your own 'dog, and the favorites in all the other games. We'll call that the 'Dog Isolation Effect. In any event, enjoy the games, everybody!

UPDATE, 1:44 p.m.: Lots of wildness in the first games. Cincy, Boffo, Oakland, and the Big Dog, Seattle, all score for their 'dog pickers.

UPDATE, 4:59 p.m.: No help from the late afternoon 'dogs. We have three players left with stakes in the night games.

The look of a candidate

Oregon's recently replaced interim U.S. attorney, Dwight Holton, gets a big splash in this morning's Politico Playbook, an e-mail newsletter generally regarded as a must-read for political scientists nationwide:

Holton's obviously got ambitions for high office. Too bad he's not interested in the Multnomah County district attorney job, which could use him. Whatever he runs for, he'll need votes from outside the county, as he's shown his displeasure with "medical" marijuana -- a position that doesn't play well in Portlandia.

A joke to keep you occupied

Stop us if you've heard this one:

A CEO, a tea party member, and a union guy are at a table with a dozen cookies. The CEO takes 11 cookies and turns to the tea partier and says, "Look out -- the union guy wants your cookie."

Computer geek busts bad cops

Here's a troubling story out of Seattle: The police up there have been caught red-handed lying about whether they had a dashboard-camera video of a guy's arrest. They said the file had been lost or erased, but the determined suspect, who knows a thing or two about computers, proved that they were lying about that.

Since then, the charges against the fellow have been dropped, and he's suing for false arrest. But better yet, he's started up a website on which other suspects can determine whether the police are lying to them when they say no video of their arrest exists.

Do Portland-area police use in-car cameras to video their activities? We're embarrassed to say we don't know. Readers?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Awaiting the 'dognosis

Players in our charity football underdog game, don't forget that all picks for the week are due by 10:00 a.m. West Coast time tomorrow. Send them to underdog@bojack.org.

License to assassinate

If you "take part in the war between the United States and Al Qaeda," you're overseas, and Obama unilaterally decides that "it is not feasible to capture" you, the government can just send a drone and kill you. Did we miss something -- is Alberto Gonzales still in charge?

Nurse Amanda drops 13 grand on a poll

According to state records, she paid Goodwin Simon Strategic Research in Oakland, California $13,400 this week for a voter poll. That leaves her campaign with less than 10 grand in the bank, and remember, she lent it 25 grand of her own money to get started.

It would be interesting to know what the Fritz poll asked -- have any readers here been contacted?

Her opponent, Mary Nolan, is sitting on a campaign war chest of about 68 grand, debt-free. This week contributions poured into the Nolan camp from one of the Widmers, Miller Paint, Jim Winkler, even Lisa Naito. And a couple of pawnbroker outfits were good for a grand apiece. The Powers That Be sure seem to have the good nurse outflanked.

Along with the sharrows, how about some stop signs?

A thoughtful reader in Portland writes:

I live on a designated "bike street" that is adorned with "sharrows" (both the original small ones and the later-added larger ones).

Seeing the sharrows often, I've wondered why the city doesn't also paint actual stop signs on the pavement. We know the CoP loves their beloved green boxes, giving bicycles right-of-way in front of motorists at selected intersections.

As I daily observe bicyclists who blow through stop signs WHILE wearing dark clothing and having no lights whatsoever on their bikes (Death wish? You decide...), I thought it'd be double-indemnity for the city to actually paint the stop sign on the pavement... hoping the bikers might see it as they continue to blast through the intersection.

Just a thought... Hey, maybe SamTram can swindle a federal transportation grant to pay for the paint. Who knows?

Sounds reasonable to us. But we don't think it's going to happen any time soon. Any acknowledgment that there are rules of which cyclists need to be reminded seems to violate the tenets of the religion currently being practiced at City Hall.

What I learned yesterday

Among other things, my hepatic flexure and everything around it look perfect.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Bicoastal flop

With the disappearance of the Phillies' hitters against Chris Carpenter of the Cardinals, the baseball playoffs have become a midwestern affair. It's come down to Detroit, Milwaukee, St. Louis, and Dallas. The longitude range is -97.07 to -83.02. The geographic center of the lower 48 states is at -98.35; New York is -74.00, Los Angeles is -118.15. Except for the folks in Texas, the remaining franchises all occupy relatively small media markets, which means that despite a lot of high drama so far, viewership of what comes next may be small. Anyway, congratulations to fans of the teams that have survived.

Have a great weekend


Maxed out

Poor Max Brumm, the youngster who's running for mayor of Portland. Not only can't he get anyone to take him seriously, but now there's another young guy named Max in the race -- Max Bauske. You talk about frustrating. Brumm deserves better, but we doubt he'll get it.

Time is money? Not *your* time.

Jim McLaughlin, a neighborhood association mucky-muck from Southwest Portland, sends along an amusing message:

PBOT [Portland Bureau of Transportation] is running a transportation policy class in conjunction with the Planning School at PSU. PBOT is providing "scholarships" for various "community leaders" to take the class. I seem to have been tagged as a "community leader."

So the class starts at 6:20 PM on Thursdays, and class participants have been bombarded by PBOT staffers with requests that folks use public transit to attend the class.

I sent the following to Scott Cohen at PBOT regarding the class and transit to it:

"To get to this class from my residence near PCC Sylvania, about 6 miles from PSU, I need to leave my house at about 5:45 PM., walk 6 blocks and catch a Tri Met # 44 bus downtown at 6:03 P.M., according to the TriMet trip planner.

"To get home, I need to catch a # 44 Tri Met bus at Fifth and Harrison, at 8:54 PM, which drops me off 6 blocks from home, according to the TriMet trip planner. If the night bus is on time, I will get home about 9:35 PM. Basically a two hour, 12 mile trip to attend a two hour class.

"Tell me again about Portland having a viable public transit system. Tell me yet again about the CoP and PBOT policy to actively discourage POV usage in the downtown core, by making parking unavailable or prohibitively expensive. Tell me you even faintly understand how poorly the combined transit policies of PBOT, TriMet and Metro actually work in serving folks who travel."

Yikes. We share his pain, though. We found ourselves in the Portland State vicinity last week on blog business. We parked in a garage under an office building. When we came back to our car less than 90 minutes later, we paid $4.50 for the privilege of having left it there. Ugly.

Who else is back

We wrote recently about a couple of new recordings, by Robbie Robertson and the Cars, that brought back musical memories while delivering new messages. Much the same can be said of the new offering from David Bromberg, entitled Use Me.

Bromberg, who was a major fixture in the folk and roots establishments in the '70s and '80s, had dropped out of performing a couple of decades ago. He devoted his time to being a luthier in Wilmington, Delaware, until just a few years back. The new album is a series of collaborations (to a greater or lesser extent) with the likes of Levon Helm, Dr. John, Keb Mo', Los Lobos, and Linda Ronstadt.

Bromberg's voice has always been quirky, and it hasn't mellowed with age, but the album's material is strong, and as with Robertson and the Cars, it feels good just to hear him singing again. The guitar work is impeccable, as one would expect from a guy who's been around the block with some of rock's greatest figures. He journeys through several different genres in the course of the hour, revealing the depth of his understanding of his idiom.

Use Me is getting pretty heavy airplay on our various sound boxes. We're particularly partial to a haunting blues track called "Digging in the Deep Blue Sea," which could be a rare, legitimate eco-anthem. That one makes more sense every time we play it.

The sound of silence

Late in August, there was quite a ruckus (first reported here) over the proposed fines of several top Portland public school honchos for violating state election laws in connection with last May's school tax bond election. The school district was calling in the Miller Nash law firm to work on a possible appeal, but then somebody noticed that the fines were against the individual officials, and questioned whether the school district could legally pay that firm's fees.

As best we can tell, the deadline for filing appeals has passed. Did the school honchos actually appeal, or did they pay up their measly $75 fines? Maybe we missed something, but as best we can tell no one in the local mainstream media has followed up on the story. That would be a shame, because the school board's cavalier attitude toward the election laws is an extremely important issue.

They are the .000001%

Among those protesting corporate greed in Portland overnight were at least two knuckleheads with spray paint cans.

UPDATE, 10/8, 8:05 p.m.: Just to clarify for the hotheads out there, the "They" in the headline of this post refers to the two clowns who decided that the protest was a good enough excuse to satisfy their urge toward vandalism -- not to the protestors generally. We generally support the protests, as evidenced by this post and this one. Please take your hate to sites whose authors actually disagree with you. Here's a good one to try.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Ladies and gentlemen, the Supremes

Fast forward through the first 12 minutes of hot air from the politicians for a rare show from two of the nine.

Fishy Story of the Week

This doesn't square with this.

Steve Jobs's Portland connection

His time at Reed College is why there are so many fonts on your computer. [Via Conejo Post.]

Freedom of information? Not in Eugene.

Somebody had the nerve to ask the Oregon athletic department to see the outside lawyer bills that the school is paying to try to extricate itself from its NCAA rules violation problems. What the jockmeisters produced in response to that request makes a mockery of the state's public records laws. Get ready for a good laugh (or cry) if you click to see it, here.

They won't leaf us alone

We wrote last week about this year's version of the Portland leaf tax, and we reproduced the ludicrous "opt out application" that we received from the city. About the only redeeming quality we could find in the mailer was that it was pretty plain and seemed cheap to produce.

But if we thought that was the only mailer we were going to get from City Hall about the program, we were badly mistaken. This week, along comes the inevitable:



Can't imagine what it cost to produce that thing, and to snail-mail both this one and the previous one. There doesn't seem to be any way on earth that the new "fee" is even breaking even for the city, much less raising any net revenue. So why are the Sam Rands so hellbent on pushing it on the affected neighborhoods? For one thing, it tells the other neighborhoods, who complain that they don't get leaf pickup, to quiet down -- and shutting people up is the hallmark of the current city commissioners. And for another thing, it once again gets the city right up in the faces of the people who live here. For some reason, to the politicians in these parts, that feels so darn good they need to do it at least weekly.

In an event, this is a perfect piece of free campaign literature for Eileen Brady, who says she will get rid of the leaf tax. Who says tax dollars can't be used for political campaigns?

Pamplin pubs hit new low

They're not just reprinting press releases from the real estate development hucksters -- they're fluffing them up and then running them. It's a shame that they've sunk so low. If you can't afford actual journalism, you should stop passing yourself off as being in that business.

[Bad link repaired.]

Keep an eye on Dr. Darm

He seems to have had some problems. It ain't the Tweeter's fault, Doc -- suing her isn't going to erase your past, or help your current business any. The smart thing to do would have been to ignore her.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Derrick Bell has died

Almost a mere footnote is his early-'80s tenure as the dean of the U of O Law School. Why he ever took that gig is quite a mystery.

I ain't blind and I don't like what I think I see

Discontent with the troubled economy, and with government's response to it, is now being taken to the streets of big cities across the United States. Tomorrow it will be Portlanders' turn to join in the protests that began in New York.

It's a dangerous time. A tiny fraction of the nation's population has gotten fabulously wealthy over the last 30 years. Much of that wealth was taken by underhanded means, and a lot of the rest wasn't deserved. So long as the middle class was getting along decently, the looting was tolerated, so that it became routine. But now the masses in the middle are realizing that what they've gained over the last half-century is starting to slip away, and quickly. And so the uneasy peace is starting to crumble.

Unrest seems to be a greater threat under a Democratic White House than under a Republican one. Photogenic liberal personalities such as the Kennedys and, yes, Obama raise expectations far beyond the realities of the day, and when their constituencies sense that they have been sold out, the anger tends to flare.

Let's hope that nobody gets hurt as America gets "occupied." And let's hope that the politicians figure out that they're going to have to be brave enough to risk their political lives by standing up to the Henry Paulsons and Jamie Dimons of the world. They'll certainly be damned if they don't.

Trouble on Pill Hill

A half dozen people, including the chief of security, have reportedly been sickened at the Portland VA Hospital by some sort of white powder. Scary.

UPDATE, 9:17 p.m.: It may not have been white powder, but it was apparently something that spilled out of an envelope that workers were opening.

"Your neighborhood is ruined -- but with conditions"

It's become a familiar refrain from the Portland City Council. Most recently it was the SoWhat immigration jail next door to an elementary school -- finally approved today. Now it's a food slop center out in Lents. When it comes to screwing up a nice neighborhood, the answer, it seems, is yes, but with conditions. How Saltzmanesque.

New scandal in Blazerland

Apparently the boss' security folks are blowing their whistles, if you'll pardon the expression.

Brady sits down with Sustainable Susan

Oh, to be a fly on the wall as the frontrunner for Portland mayor meets with the city's incumbent Queen of Green. According to the latter's calendar, they got together late last Friday morning. Lunch, perhaps?

True love never dies

No matter how lacking in character and substance he is shown to be, Jeffer-Sam Smith will always be a golden boy in Willy Week. Just like Opie Sten, only more so. Here's the latest foot massage puff piece. Notice how they give him the chance to brush off his being on track to be fired (if not actually being fired) from his Portland law firm. Hard hitters, they ain't. "I took a job at a firm whose clients I didn't like, and then on principle, I didn't do any work." They just let that one go.

One question they could have asked Smith, but of course didn't, was why he was never sworn into the New York Bar, even though he passed the bar exam in that state in February 2001. The New York Office of Court Administration has no record of him ever becoming a member of the bar, despite his passing grade on the test.

It's pretty unusual for someone to go through all the trouble of making it through the grueling exam and then not bother to take the oath. Was there a problem there that we haven't heard about? In any event, contrary to any other impression that may have been created, the fact is that Smith never actually practiced law in New York -- not for a day, or two days, or any number of days.

It's also odd for someone to spend three summers, including the summer after graduating law school, as a summer clerk at three different law firms. Usually a Harvard law student spends only one year as a summer clerk -- two max. And after the student graduates, it's time to take the bar exam, not a temporary gig at another law firm. But according to Smith's internet bio from his Portland law firm gig, he did three summer clerkships, including one during the summer after he graduated. There's something not right there.

But hey! He's funny! He's only 38! He's a talker! He has energy! The creatives love him! He might get union money! And so you'll be seeing his face on Wednesdays for quite a while.

A challenger for Novick?

Rumor has it that a guy named Mark White is throwing his hat in the ring for the seat about to be vacated by Randy Leonard. White ran for Portland City Council in 1996 against the youthful Erik Sten and others. Sten trounced him and thus became a city commissioner. Apparently since then White's become a bit of a City Hall insider, sitting on various citizen advisory boards. As Streetcar Smith found out, that and $2.50 will get you a ride on Tri-Met. White appears to be quite tight with Leonard, as is Novick; we're not sure just what that means.

Portland cop tested quite drunk behind wheel

The officer who was busted in Pacific City for DUI and attempt to elude? He was reportedly at .137% blood alcohol four hours after they brought him in. Said he had had two beers at the Sportsmen's Bar. Uh huh. Four hours after he was stopped, he would probably have worn off three or four drinks. To still be at .137, he would have been quite drunk when he was driving.

El foldo

The Chevy's Mexican restaurant chain is going under. We haven't eaten there for ages. Wasn't that bad, as we recall.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

'Dogs on a diet

Week 5 of our charity pro football underdog game contains no big hound:

9.5 SEATTLE at New York Giants
9.5 NEW YORK JETS at New England
6 OAKLAND at Houston
6 CAROLINA vs. New Orleans
5.5 ATLANTA vs. Green Bay
5.5 CHICAGO at Detroit
4 DENVER vs. San Diego
3 BUFFALO vs. Philadelphia
2.5 CINCINNATI at Jacksonville
2.5 KANSAS CITY at Indianapolis
2.5 ARIZONA at Minnesota

At least not so far -- still missing are Tennessee at Pittsburgh (Roethlisberger's status still up in the air), and Tampa Bay at San Francisco. Those may still be added between now and Thursday.

Players, your picks for the week are due by 10 a.m. Sunday Pacific Time. And don't forget to e-mail them to underdog@bojack.org! Picks left anywhere else won't be counted.

UPDATE, 10:31 p.m.: Here are the other two games:

5 TENNESSEE at Pittsburgh
1 TAMPA BAY at San Francisco

Good luck, players.

Portland nanny state going after quarts of regular beer

Apparently that's the cause of the city's homeless and aggressive panhandler problems. Even a 24-ounce can of Pabst will be verboten downtown, in Northwest, Old Town and Goose Hollow, and in the Pearl District. Wine with 14.5% alcohol will also be prohibited. No La Crema chardonnay for you, Pearlies! The Sam Rands know best.

Why not an Adams Recall 3.0?

Rather than let Portland's lame duck mayor throw his weight around any more, why not recall him? It's not the teenage boy in the bathroom and the lying any more -- it's just the mismanagement and the arrogance. Two of his major bureaus, police and transportation, are under federal investigation. His third fiefdom, management and finance, has been called out by the city auditor for going overboard with debt. Make those the grounds for shipping His Creepiness out early, and you'd probably get rid of the leaf tax, the Northwest parking meters, the $60 fee to park in front of your own house, the Lake Oswego streetcar, the SoWhat immigration jail, and so much other bad, bad stuff.

He hasn't gotten any better in the last year and a half. He's gotten worse, and the prognosis for the next 15 months is really atrocious.

And unlike last time, now we've got at least two viable replacements for him, who are ready to go. You might be able to get one of them into office a little ahead of schedule. But even if the mayor's office sat vacant for a while, that would stop a lot of the insanity until a more reasonable person was installed in the office.

It would take some grownups to make a recall work, that's for sure -- people who wouldn't step up the other two times. No more fringe characters out in front. Come on, Northwest Portland business people and drivers. Come on, leaf tax victims. Come on, streetcar opponents. Come on, SoWhat jail neighbors. Come on, Corbett Avenue. Put up some money before this guy wrecks you in the ample time he has left to screw things up further. Give him the bouncing he's asking for. Third time's a charm.

What? No bird?

The New York Times has actually showcased something from the Portland area other than tortured artists from the creative class: a Tigard company that says it can turn plastic bags into crude oil, in a financially feasible way.

Coming soon to a Starbucks parking lot near you

Here's an instant Portland classic: The city's police bureau is going to lease some motorized unicycles for its officers to ride around on.

Now, there's obvious comedy potential in this news -- the anarchists will find out what it's like to get Tased by a Shriner -- but the terms of the business deal are even more amusing. It's a no-bid arrangement in which the city will "try out" the equipment for $1, and then if it decides to go forward... well, you know the rest. The company that's been making the backroom deals with the city will no doubt get a nice no-bid contract that will run a long time and make it a lot of money.

Just wondering: Does Ellis McCoy have a twin in the police department?

Spare change?

Here's a shameless plug: My sister in New Jersey is participating in a breast cancer walk the weekend after next, and she needs some sponsors. If you're up for chipping in for that cause, here's where to go. (And apologies, Sis, if I've embarrassed you by making this pitch.)

Quotation of the Day

We are committed to vigorously pursuing the goal of allowing participants to express their view which is there free speech right.

How many public relations people do they have over their?

Monday, October 3, 2011

Reader poll: Do you care about Amanda Knox case?

Forgive us, but we haven't spent much time learning or thinking about Amanda Knox, and we find the heavy media coverage of her story uninteresting. Do you agree?

On a scale of 1 to 4, how much do you care about the Amanda Knox case?
4 - a lot
3 - some
2 - a little
1 - not at all
  
pollcode.com free polls 

Last 'dog won't hunt

Indy went down to another defeat this evening, and so no new points have been scored in our charity pro football underdog game. The standings as of last night become the final standings for the weekend. The next slate of hounds should be available tomorrow.

Portland City Hall arrogance, perfectly displayed

People in the pilot really got behind the changes and fixed their waste habits.... We just encourage them to line their pail with newspaper or wear gloves. We also encourage them to get over it.

Elieen Brady would kill Portland leaf tax

And Streetcar Hales would keep it. Jeffer-Sam Smith doesn't care enough to respond to the City Hall reporter's question.

And so the choice becomes a little clearer.

And so on and so on scooby dooby dooby

Here's a wild one: Somebody (they don't say who they are) is suggesting that Oswego Lake should be open to the public. OMG! Can you imagine -- the unwashed masses being allowed to bathe in the sacred waters? Fortunately, they still have segregation land covenants down there that prevent such a thing.

Of course, with a nice, shiny streetcar bringing all kinds of different folks down that way from the hot, noisy city, they'll have to be extra special careful. There are fun times ahead.

Trials and tribulations of the upper crust

A former colleague of ours writes:

I live outside the city of Portland in unincorporated Multnomah County. (I know, you hate Dunthorpe, but that's where I live.) I got the city's mailing about the new program and how great it will be to have my trash picked up only every other week instead of weekly for the same money.

I called my hauler, Allied, asking them to confirm that since I'm not inside the city, my service won't be changing.

After working my way up to a customer service supervisor, she confirmed that I would in fact be under the Portland program, since Allied's franchise is from Portland, even though I don't live in Portland. She said I should call the city's trash hotline for more information.

So I called the city's trash hotline. A very polite CSR told me, after investigating, that I would be under the new program, because of an "agreement" between the city and Multnomah County. I asked him to give me information about the agreement, and he said I would have to call Multnomah County, and gave me a contact. (This agreement will be interesting to the Clackamas County residents in Dunthorpe who will also be under Portland's new program and don't live even in Multnomah County).

So I called the guy at Multnomah County yesterday. Again a very polite guy. He said he didn't think there was any "agreement" and that Allied just doesn't want to differentiate between customers in Portland and out of Portland. He said he'd get back to me, which he hasn't yet done. If he does get back to me and you're interested, I'll let you know what he says.

So now the knuckleheads of the Portland City Council don't just get to f*** up their own city; they get to f*** with a bunch of people who can't even vote against them.

There's a sitcom episode here, people. Maybe even a whole movie.

They bought the whole package

"Urban renewal" plus "major league" soccer plus condo fantasies spell disaster for the Town of Harrison, New Jersey, home of the New York Red Bulls. On top of a large mess already made, now the team is trying to skate out from under paying taxes, which would exacerbate the town's, and county's, troubles.

A little bit of Dignity Village -- in the yard next door

The tough times in which Portland and the nation find ourselves, breed desperation. A reader writes:

I'm told that there is a regular market for "camp in yard" housing in Portland. At bottom are ones I found searching "tent" in Housing Wanted on Portland Craigslist. I found out about this when complaining to friends about the guy with hearing loss (therefore the TV and radio in his tent always 5 times reasonable volume) living in a tent in the yard immediately behind me.

What is the official distinction between a "recession" and a "depression"? For every one of these, can't we reasonably assume there are 10 living in cars?

=============

Sep 26 - $450 Room, camp in yard, work/trade - (Portland) room/share wanted

Sep 26 - Room/Garage/Basement/Studio/Shed/Tent Needed through Nov. Maybe longer - (PDX) room/share wanted

Sep 24 - Room/garage/basement/trailer/tent/couch needed through Nov. - (PDX) sublet/temp wanted

There you go -- the next livability battlefront for Portland's neighborhoods. A new one every week, it seems.

Chip off the old block?

Here's an audio file of the August 2009 court hearing on Jefferson Smith's latest traffic ticket -- where he made an illegal lane change in a work zone on McLoughlin Bouevard. Smith's dad -- retired attorney and one-time Democratic Party honcho R.P. Joe Smith -- shows up to throw his son at the mercy of Judge Leon Colas.

Smith the younger was off at a conference in Colorado at the time of the hearing, as Dad is quick to explain to the judge. He even throws in a bit about how Jefferson was going to pick up a staff member when he "missed the sign." And of course, it's someone else's fault -- the lanes aren't clearly marked.

Smith Sr. also tells the judge that the younger Smith (whom he never expressly identifies as his son) was working hard to improve his driving record. That failure to appear on a speeding ticket five months before -- was that part of the improvement program?

Interestingly, the elder Smith was himself pushing the envelope in appearing in court as an attorney for an absent client. On the day of that hearing, like today, his status with the state bar was "active pro bono." Under bar rules, attorneys with that status are allowed to represent only indigent clients in limited circumstances:

The Active Pro Bono category of active membership is available to lawyers in good standing: Who agree to provide annually pro bono legal services to indigent clients referred by pro bono programs certified under Section 13.2 of the Bar’s Bylaws; who do not engage in the practice of law except for providing pro bono services specified above or in volunteer service on the State Professional Responsibility Board, a Local Professional Responsibility Committee, the Disciplinary Board or as bar counsel and who obtain professional liability coverage through the Professional Liability Fund or the program referring the pro bono cases.

Yet there he is, giving his bar number and appearing in court anyway. Ah, well. It's just a stupid rule.

No need to go to Wall Street to act up

It appears that the whole "occupy" thing is coming to Portlandia this week. They arrested hundreds of people in New York City over the weekend, and you can almost smell the pepper spray already here in the Rose City.

One complaint that we've been reading about the protests is that they don't have a clear agenda. But an acquaintance of ours who is sympathetic to the protesters' cause says that in fact they do have a list of demands:

1. Place a fee on all Wall Street transactions and tax capital gains the same as income

2. End corporate personhood and overturn the flawed Citizens United decision

3. Get big money out of politics through substantive campaign finance reform

4. Jobs through investment in the public sector and infrastructure, not tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations

Sounds like a program to us. But perhaps the campers need to read up on how to amend the U.S. Constitution, because as a practical matter, short of a revolution, that's probably the only way most of that could get done.

We hope they march on Wyden's office. He needs to hear all about it. Then again, the New York protesters probably have a better chance of seeing him than anybody in downtown Portland.

Full house

We spent some time at Black Butte Ranch over the weekend. It was the usual poker crew, taking our show on the road for the second time this year. Time marches on. Three of the seven dudes at the table have now broken 60 years of age -- two of them retired and the third not far behind. To go along with all the gray hair, everybody's got a gadget in his pocket now. Wonder what we would have said if, 30 years ago when we started playing cards together, we could see ourselves these days.

The crew has worked this program to perfection over the years -- food, wine, cigars, cards, laughs -- and getting together to do it again never seems to fail. Our appetites for all aspects of the gathering get just a tiny bit smaller every year, but our abilities to savor them get sharper, too. If anything, we get a lot more out of a little less.

The way this round fell on the calendar, we left town in September and came back in October -- we left in the sun and came back in the rain. Life in Black Butte seemed right on the divide between the two seasons, perfectly still and with a billion stars. The river's at its lowest, the geese are on the move, and the deer are all over the place.

We caught "Car Talk" on the radio on the way back, the perfect soundtrack for a road trip. When we counted up our bucks at the end of our stay, we discovered that we had won a big five bucks over two nights at the card table. Better than that, we got our compass re-set a little, have gotten to see what our cronies are up to lately, and are ready to welcome fall.

In all your spare time

A friend of ours sends along a link to this list of some great reads. They aren't the latest any more, but there are hours of fine material there.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Darkness on the edge of 'dogs

The favorites won all of the late games today, and so the only winners of the day in our charity pro football underdog game were our players who had San Francisco or Cincinnati.

With five players still up for the Colts tomorrow night, here's what we've got for standings at the moment:

Continue reading "Darkness on the edge of 'dogs" »

Names we're glad we don't have

For a little while there tonight, Marc Rzepczynski was pitching against Antonio Bastardo.

A-hunting we will go

The players in our charity pro football underdog game have unleashed the following picks:

10 SAN FRANCISCO at Philadelphia - genop's gal, AKevin, Eric W.
10 INDIANAPOLIS at Tampa Bay - Gary, Bob, Larry Legend, Michael K., John Ch.
8 MIAMI at San Diego - PDXileinOmaha
6.5 CAROLINA at Chicago - Grizfan, Ricardo, Bad Brad, mna, Annie, Tommy W., jmh
4.5 SEATTLE vs. Atlanta - Pete Rozelle, NoPoGuy, Paul, Usual Kevin, Drewbob, genop
4.5 OAKLAND vs. New England - Broadway Joe, Weavmo
4 PITTSBURGH at Houston - Carol, Gordon, Rudie, Biggest Cubs Loser, John Cr.
3.5 NEW YORK JETS at Baltimore - Bayou Baby, john dull, umpire
3 CINCINNATI vs. Buffalo - Money Maker

Five little 'dogs and two big ones drew no takers.

These were the plays as of late last night. This post is being generated by a robot. Later picks or changes, if received by the 10:00 a.m. deadline, will be posted later today.

Have a great one and enjoy the games, everyone.

UPDATE. 1:32 p.m.: The Niners come through over the rapidly disintegrating Eagles, and Buffalo falls to earth. No luck for Pittsburgh and Carolina. Four orphan little 'dogs also prevailed in the first games of the day. AKevin takes the lead in our standings with a second big winner in a row, 18.5 points overall.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Life in Salem

It's special.

Don't forget to 'dog

Players in our charity pro football underdog game: Don't let all the baseball and college pigskin action distract you too far from this weekend's Big Daddies. Picks for all games are due by 10 a.m. tomorrow.

Putting a bird on our garbage

Our post of yesterday, bemoaning the addition of a Portland "kitchen pail" to our household waste routine, got us thinking: Why does it feel like such an imposition? Upon a little reflection, we think we've figured it out: It's not just the food slop bucket. That's the straw that broke the camel's back.

Taking a look around our kitchen cabinets, we find that we already have too many squirrel holes for the various types of trash that we already sort out. Being in Oregon, we start with two bins for the ever-growing list of deposit containers: one for plastic and cans, the other for glass. Our third compartment is for nondeposit glass.

Under the sink, we have the trash receptacle for the stuff for the landfill, plus a tub for the vegetable waste that we currently feed to the worms in our compost bin. Over around by the side door to the house, three more piles can be found: plastic bags, which nobody wants so we schlep them back to the grocery store; old newspapers, with which to start the barbecue; and the big bin for all the stuff that currently gets recycled by our garbage hauler.

So what's that -- eight bins already? And now, unless we give up worm composting of our vegetable waste, we're about to get a ninth? There's a certain point at which you draw a line in the sand and just sign up for the bigger garbage can for the landfill. And if it's big enough, the new can will probably make us less diligent with recycling. So much for "green."


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In Vino Veritas

Chloe, Pinot Grigio, Valdadige 2013
Edmunds St. John, Bone-Jolly Gamay Noir 2013
Kirkland, Pinot Grigio, Friuli 2013
St. Francis, Red Splash 2011
Rodney Strong, Canernet, Alexander Valley 2011
Erath, Pinot Blanc 2013
Taylor Fladgate, Porto 2007
Portuga, Rose 2013
Domaine Digioia-Royer, Chambolle-Musigny, Vielles Vignes Les Premieres 2008
Locations, F Red Blend
El Perro Verde, Rueda 2013
Chateau Ste. Michelle, Indian Wells Red 2
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

The Occasional Book

Phil Stanford - White House Call Girl
John Kaplan & Jon R. Waltz - The Trial of Jack Ruby
Kent Haruf - Eventide
David Halberstam - Summer of '49
Norman Mailer - The Naked and the Dead
Maria Dermoȗt - The Ten Thousand Things
William Faulkner - As I Lay Dying
Markus Zusak - The Book Thief
Christopher Buckley - Thank You for Smoking
William Shakespeare - Othello
Joseph Conrad - Heart of Darkness
Bill Bryson - A Short History of Nearly Everything
Cheryl Strayed - Tiny Beautiful Things
Sara Varon - Bake Sale
Stephen King - 11/22/63
Paul Goldstein - Errors and Omissions
Mark Twain - A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
Steve Martin - Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life
Beverly Cleary - A Girl from Yamhill, a Memoir
Kent Haruf - Plainsong
Hope Larson - A Wrinkle in Time, the Graphic Novel
Rudyard Kipling - Kim
Peter Ames Carlin - Bruce
Fran Cannon Slayton - When the Whistle Blows
Neil Young - Waging Heavy Peace
Mark Bego - Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul (2012 ed.)
Jenny Lawson - Let's Pretend This Never Happened
J.D. Salinger - Franny and Zooey
Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol
Timothy Egan - The Big Burn
Deborah Eisenberg - Transactions in a Foreign Currency
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. - Slaughterhouse Five
Kathryn Lance - Pandora's Genes
Cheryl Strayed - Wild
Fyodor Dostoyevsky - The Brothers Karamazov
Jack London - The House of Pride, and Other Tales of Hawaii
Jack Walker - The Extraordinary Rendition of Vincent Dellamaria
Colum McCann - Let the Great World Spin
Niccolò Machiavelli - The Prince
Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird
Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus - The Nanny Diaries
Brian Selznick - The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Sharon Creech - Walk Two Moons
Keith Richards - Life
F. Sionil Jose - Dusk
Natalie Babbitt - Tuck Everlasting
Justin Halpern - S#*t My Dad Says
Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
Barry Glassner - The Gospel of Food
Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
Jesse Katz - The Opposite Field
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice
Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Mitch Albom - Have a Little Faith
C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 341
At this date last year: 203
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
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