This page contains all entries posted to Jack Bog's Blog in November 2011. They are listed from newest to oldest.
October 2011 is the previous archive.
December 2011 is the next archive.
Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.
One thing we've learned about "new media" is that reader comments are an essential part of a modern website. Keeping an eye on what readers say, and making sure the discussion doesn't get too ugly, are not always pleasant tasks, and they never let up, but making the wrong moves to lighten that burden can be damaging.
Today the New York Times initiated a new system for comments that relies in part on Facebook, and overall makes it a lot harder for readers to make themselves heard. The Times is going to learn pretty quickly that anything that hampers the instant gratification of posting a comment will hurt readership. Yes, it's time-consuming and distracting to be watching comments all day, and some readers do have a tendency to try to monopolize the discussion, but without a general policy of allowing instant comments, you lose people.
That long list of more than 105,000 current beneficiaries of the Oregon public employee retirement system is a lot to wrap one's computer skills around, but one of our readers says he's now got it all into an Excel file, which he has graciously shared with us. Here it is. No warranties, folks!
Some days we can't make sense of it all. See if you can help us figure this one out. The Oregon tax department is auctioning off tax credits on the internet. Each credit is worth $1,000 off your Oregon income tax, and bidding starts at $950. Bids will be open for nine days.
The money that the auction takes in will be spent by the state on "green" stuff. It's reported that there will be $1.1 million of tax credits auctioned off, and so apparently there will be 1,100 credit certificates sold.
Assuming that the bidding will move up from $950, it's hard to see why it would be worth most people's time and effort to get involved in bidding. And what's in it for the state? If the top bid is, say, $990, the state loses $11,000 in revenue, plus whatever administrative costs it's incurring running the auction and sending out credit certificates. Then there's the added cost of processing the certificates when they show up with tax returns next year.
Wouldn't it have been a whole lot simpler just to hand out grants to worthy "green" projects out of general tax revenues, and skip all the auction folderol? Maybe we should ask the people who dreamed the whole thing up. Probably some responsible adults like Jefferson Smith.
There's a 20-point underdog in the NFL this week -- Indianapolis at New England -- and players in our charity pro football prediction game have got to consider whether there's any chance that that particular Hail Mary could be answered. In this regard, a knowledgable reader writes:
I do gaming research for clients and I asked who was the biggest NFL underdog to win. Still no answer, but since 2000 the biggest were two teams at 14½ points. Nothing higher -- and there was one 24-point underdog that lost, which was the highest spread in 12 years. In college football (more games, less parity), the biggest outright winning underdog was Stanford (2007) vs USC. They were 42-point dogs, but won outright, 24 to 23. Oregon State beat Washington in 1985 as a 36-point dog -- the third-highest spread of a winning dog.
There is, of course, always a first time, which is why they play the games.
Multnomah County wins round in tax battle with PDC
We blogged this past spring about the ongoing dispute between the Multnomah County property tax assessor and the Portland Development Commission over whether the PDC's low-income housing operation at the old Fairfield Hotel should be exempt from property taxes.
Yesterday the Oregon Tax Court's main judge, Henry Breithaupt, overturned a prior ruling by the court's chief magistrate, Jill Tanner, and ruled in favor of the county. Breithaupt rejected the PDC's argument, which Tanner had accepted, that the county had violated the assessment procedures required by state law.
Since the procedures were on the up-and-up, Breithaupt ruled that he could now consider the merits of the question whether the PDC should have to pay property taxes on the old hotel. For an entity that leeches property taxes from many other government entities, it seems like the least the PDC could do.
Hmmmm, let's see... A highly experienced actuary, who knows a lot about the finances of complex retirement plans? Or Fireman Randy's buddy, who recently got bounced from the state legislature and is a fledgling worker's comp lawyer? As a taxpayer, we know whom we'd prefer.
Months ago you posted the state's "unclaimed properties" list. We were on it, jumped through the hoops to file, and today were notified we get $150.02 back. $150 from Time Inc. (my husband's former employer -- not sure what that's about, really) and a whopping why-bother $0.02 from General Electric. That'll buy an Xmas present or two. . .
We can't remember ever having a 20-point underdog in our charity pro football prognostication game. If we did have one, it was long, long ago. But that's what we've got as the headliner of this week's contests:
20 INDIANAPOLIS at New England
13 ST. LOUIS at San Francisco
8.5 DETROIT at New Orleans
7.5 KANSAS CITY at Chicago
7 NEW YORK GIANTS vs. Green Bay
6.5 CLEVELAND vs. Baltimore
6.5 CINCINNATI at Pittsburgh
4.5 ARIZONA vs. Dallas
3.5 CAROLINA at Tampa Bay
3 WASHINGTON vs. New York Jets
3 OAKLAND at Miami
2.5 JACKSONVILLE vs. San Diego
2.5 HOUSTON vs. Atlanta
2.5 SEATTLE vs. Philadelphia (Thursday, 5:20 p.m.)
1.5 TENNESSEE at Buffalo
As the season slips into December, our players who are far behind may need to throw deep. But Indy over New England? Jeepers.
Contestants picking Seattle need to have their pick in by kickoff on Thursday afternoon Pacific time. For all other games, the deadline is Sunday morning at 10 Pacific. Good luck with the choices, folks.
UPDATE, 8:49 p.m.: We checked -- there has never been a 20-point 'dog since we started playing the game on this blog in 2009. The previous big dog was 17 OAKLAND at San Diego, Week 8, Nov. 1, 2009. Nobody took the Raiders, who lost, 24-16.
UPDATE, 11/30, 9:06 p.m.: More on big 'dog history here. And the final line for the week:
Portland is off the hook on treating Bull Run water
So says the Oregon health department. Apparently the City of Portland will be excused from having to build a $100 million ultraviolet treatment plant to kill microbes that never show up at the Bull Run reservoir to begin with. This is great news for Portland water customers, and the City Hall bureaucrats will no doubt put on smiles. But they've secretly loved every minute of planning the ultraviolet deal in smoke-filled rooms -- the system has already been picked out -- and no doubt some of them are trying to figure out how to build the thing anyway.
Kudos to the consumer groups who held the city's feet to the fire on this issue. Now if they could only stop the even spendier and equally unnecessary disconnecting of the city's uncovered reservoirs here in town.
It's over now for Richard Lariviere. The writing was on the wall, and it wasn't in Sanskrit. He's out the door at the end of the calendar year, and he'll have to suffer through living on a mere $245,700 severance for a while.
Now the angry U of O crowd is calling for the head of the chancellor of the university system, George Pernsteiner (above), on a silver platter. They've never liked the guy, but lately it's gotten personal.
Meanwhile, the mainstream media sum it up in their inimitable style: "Questions remains." Yes they does.
They're at it again at Portland City Hall -- back to Wall Street to borrow a few more millions. This time it's a mere $3.6 million, for "assessment contracts relating to local improvements, sidewalk repairs, and system development charges, the costs of which have been assessed against benefiting property owners." If those assessed costs don't get paid, the city promises to pay the bonds out of any available funds it has. Some of the IOUs are expected to run for 20 years.
The latest bond sale's supposed to go down on Thursday. The bonds are rated Aa1 -- a notch below the Aaa rating that the city likes to brag about.
In the sales pitch for the new IOU's, the city makes an interesting disclosure: Its long-term indebtedness stands at about $3.29 billion -- down slightly from $3.30 billion in August of 2010. Apparently, Portland's taking a break from whipping out the credit card. A good thing, too, as unfunded pension and retiree health care liabilities have likely broken an additional $3 billion. By our best calculation, debt per resident is up over $11,000.
What's with the leveling off of red ink from bonds? Is it the sign of a new wave of fiscal responsibility by the city's politicians and money managers? Maybe. But it might just be that the bankers have showed them some ugly interest rates that render more big-pet-project borrowing out of the question, at least for the moment.
Longer term, the trend is still an increase in the city's indebtedness. Portland's bonds and other long-term loans stood at at roughly $2.86 billion less than three and a half years ago. That works out to a compound annual growth rate of around 3.93% between then and now.
But to to be conservative, on our city debt clock (in our left sidebar) we've cranked the growth rate for long-term bonds and interim financing back to 0.5% a year, pending further developments. Let's hope the trend continues. The debt per resident will keep going up, but not as quickly.
We whined yesterday that the O's version of the Oregon PERS beneficiary database was too filtered to be of much practical use. In response, Mark Friesen of the O gave us all a link to the full database file -- a heavy, heavy .csv file running over 3 megabytes. Older versions of Excel can't handle it, and even translated into a web page by a text editor, it's a monster.
Anyway, here's an html page with the whole list, Aardvark to ZZ Top. Not much more useful than what the O has provided -- maybe less -- but we'll keep working on it. Maybe we'll try for three files that older Excel can handle.
While we do that, think about it -- there are more than 105,000 PERS beneficiaries. And if each of them has one other sympathetic voter in their family or household, that's 210,000 votes leaning heavily against government employee pension reform in Oregon. No wonder John Kroger's the state attorney general, and the place is going broke.
UPDATE, 11/30, 4:06 p.m.: Update (with an Excel file) here.
Streetcar lies (and the lying streetcar liars who tell them)
They just cut nearly $60 million out of the fantasy budget for the insane Portland-to-Lake-Oswego streetcar project. Now apparently Homer Williams and his posse think they can can ram it down the throats of residents who don't want any part of it.
The news gives O Portland City Hall reporter Brad Schmidt another opportunity to display his biases. In the third paragraph of this story, the opponents are described as "well-heeled residents in Dunthorpe and Lake Oswego." The headline writer's no better: "Costs drop for Portland to Lake Oswego streetcar as project 'rebooted.'" "Costs drop"? Maybe. You journalism students, for the sake of your careers, please demand better of yourselves.
In any event, holiday time is a perfect time to push a scam forward. Homer and his water boys, the mayors of Portland and Lake O., have a busy month ahead.
The controversial U of O president was hired with the understanding that he would need a "mentor," according to Mark Zusman in Willy Week. Wonder who that was supposed to be -- Dave Frohnmayer? Chip Kelly? Mike Burton?
After years of hemming and hawing, last week the State of Oregon finally released the list of more than 100,000 people who receive monthly retirement benefits from the PERS state and local government employees' pension system, along with the amounts of their most recent checks. Former U of O football coach Mike Bellotti's gigantic monthly draw made headlines, and several mainstream media outlets have now written about the list, but there's still a lot about PERS benefits and beneficiaries that the public doesn't know.
For example, while the newly released list shows beneficiaries who receive monthly checks, it does not show those retired government employees who took their pensions as lump sums, rather than monthly payments. Apparently many PERS retirees are given that option, and in some cases the payments can be huge.
Another difficulty for public access is the way the data is being presented by the O. Surely the state gave the newspaper the names and dollar figures in an Excel or similar spreadsheet format. But rather than make the file available to readers to download, the O has created another one of its goofy search engines, in which a reader must enter a particular name and see only what comes up under that name.
The O did something similar when it begrudgingly published Portland city employees' salaries a few years back. Apparently the world would end if the public got a database that it could actually search and work with. Eventually, Oregon Capitol News published a much more useful database.
As for the new PERS list, at least the O's search engine is easily maniuplated. If one searches for just the letter "a," for example, all first or last names starting with that letter are returned. By searching for each of the letters in the alphabet, one could conceivably get all the names out of the O machinery, but what a waste of time that would be.
For the O to restrict the flow of this information through a search-only filter does its readers a disservice. Information should either be public, or not -- it shouldn't be in some nether world in between. If the O's got a spreadsheet file, it ought to make it available for download. Perhaps it agreed not to do that in its legal settlement with the state, but if it made that promise, it shouldn't have.
Finally, the information released on the beneficiaries gives just their names and the amount of each one's monthly benefit. There's no indication of the person's job title or the agency for which he or she worked. It's also not clear whether surviving spouses of government retirees are on the list, or just the retirees themselves. And without the beneficiaries' current ages, there's no way of telling how long any particular lifetime annuity can be expected to last.
According to the Salem newspaper, a more detailed list is to be released in March. Let's hope that it will have more helpful information, and that the mainstream media who receive it will let the public have full access to it, rather than making it available only through frustrating filters.
Blogger barred from executive session of higher ed board
Are bloggers journalists? Not in some folks' eyes. Bill Harbaugh, the University of Oregon economics professor whose university-centered blog UO Matters is currently in its heyday, has been denied admission to the executive session of today's meeting of the state board of higher education. That's the meeting at which the board is expected to give the ax to the president of the U of O, Richard Lariviere. Throngs are expected to attend the event, at Portland State University, in protest.
The executive session will be held before the public portion of the meeting, and under a strange provision of Oregon law, journalists have the right to attend, but not report on what happens in, that first session. Harbaugh says that his blog is an established media outlet, but the state board, speaking through Diane Saunders, the p.r. flack for the chancellor's office, says he won't be admitted because he doesn't meet the standard of being a "news-gathering representative of institutionalized new media."
This issue has been played out to some extent in Lake Oswego, where blogger Mark Bunster started a controversy several years ago. According to a city policy developed in response to that case, a blog is "institutional" only if it has multiple contributors. We would submit that having multiple regular commentators, as Harbaugh does, fits that bill, but given Harbaugh's strong opinions and fearlessness in presenting them, we don't think that will sway the powers that be in his case.
We think there are serious First Amendment issues raised by Harbaugh's request, and by the state's attend-but-don't-report policies generally. Whatever happens this afternoon, we hope that Harbaugh sticks to his guns and does what it takes to get the doors open to bloggers, both solo and in groups, who contribute substantially to dissemination of public information and discussion of public policy.
The population estimators at Portland State University (motto: "With Density and Condos for All") have released their latest figures for the population of the state and its cities and counties, and their Portland number is quite noteworthy. On a preliminary basis, PSU puts the population within the city limits as of July 1, 2011 at 585,845 -- a mere 0.35% increase over last year's 583,775, a count that had hard census data to back it up. The three-year compound growth rate is 0.57%, and the five-year compound growth rate is 0.81%.
The sustainable-equitable-yada-yada planning cabal keeps packing in the city's neighborhoods with junk infill on the theory that millions of people are moving to Portland any minute now, but that premise is simply false. The net in-migration to the city over the past year was a mere 2,070 people.
We've been using 1.4% as the annual growth rate on our Portland per-capita debt clock, but it's obviously too high. And so we've cut it back to 0.7%. At that rate, it will take an entire century for the city's population to double, and 20 years from now, the population will still be under 675,000. It's hard to deny that the high-rise schlock that the city is subsidizing and otherwise forcing on its residents is based on a bogus assumption.
Rob Ingram, who headed up the City of Portland's efforts to keep young people out of gangs, died of a heart attack yesterday at age 38. Although we never met him, we were aware of his work and his dedication. We join the rest of the town in mourning his loss. [Photo right, courtesy Steve Rawley.]
Who needs Occupy? Protesters by the busload are expected at Portland State tomorrow afternoon for the hastily called higher education board meeting at which the University of Oregon president is about to get canned. It sounds as though quite a few faculty will be among those making the trip up from Eugene. Look for the agitated people in the tweed jackets.
Only Denver prevailed among the pro football underdogs this weekend -- at least, among those that our players picked. (Washington also beat Seattle, but that one nobody wanted.) As a result, our contest standings are as follows, with three players (with asterisks) riding on the G-Men for 7 tomorrow night:
Players in our charity pro football underdog game -- those who didn't go down in flames on Thursday -- have made these choices in today's contests:
10.5 KANSAS CITY vs. Pittsburgh - Bayou Baby
9 MINNESOTA at Atlanta - Bob, genop
8 BUFFALO at New York Jets - Broadway Joe, mna
7.5 CLEVELAND at Cincinnati - Ricardo, Carol
7 NEW YORK GIANTS at New Orleans - Grizfan, Usual Kevin, Gary
6.5 DENVER at San Diego - NoPoGuy, Tommy W., Annie
5 CHICAGO at Oakland - AKevin, PDXileinOmaha, Eric W.
3 TAMPA BAY at Tennessee - umpire
Folks passed on several chihuahuas.
Have a great day and enjoy the games, everyone.
UPDATE, 2:22 p.m.: No winners in the first round.
UPDATE, 5:35 p.m.: Denver puts San Diego out of its misery, and racks up points for a smart trio of 'dog pickers. One player in the hunt tonight, three more tomorrow night.
The general sentiment in Deutschland these days is anti-nuclear power, and there are literally thousands of folks there willing to act up over the prospect of supposedly permanent underground disposal of deadly waste from nuke plants. They're throwing Molotov cocktails, chaining themselves to the train tracks -- and even trying to rip up the tracks -- in an effort to halt a rail shipment of 11 containers of the nasty stuff from a recycling center in France to a German burial ground.
Eventually the train will get through, and the waste will be placed out of sight, but hardly out of mind. It will be extremely dangerous for thousands of years.
College football seems like one blowout after another at the moment, whereas things might be more interesting on the pro gridiron tomorrow. Players in our charity underdog pool, don't forget to send in your pick for the week if you have not already done so. The deadline is 10:00 in the morning Pacific time.
Joining a growing chorus of protest, the president of the African nation of Gabon today voiced his extreme displeasure with the imminent firing of University of Oregon president Richard Lariviere. Ali Bongo Ondimba, who met with Lariviere at the White House this past June, said Lariviere's termination could unravel the strategic partnership that the U of O has entered into with his country on "environment and development."
Here is the full text of the Bongo statement, which was hand-delivered by a diplomatic courier to Cylvia Hayes, the governor's girlfriend, at the couple's Portland home:
It deeply saddens me that some people in power in your state continue to drive Oregon into a death spiral with their embrace of mediocrity. Having witnessed many a death spiral of my political opponents, I am keenly aware of the telltale signs. It's yet another application of Oregon's Assisted Suicide law, just as my own troops have been present for many unfortunate suicides here in Gabon.
For the Chancellor and the State Board of Higher Education, a "team player" is someone who falls in line with their acceptance of mediocrity, and the one who strives for excellence does not fit in. In our nation, excellence is commonplace, as is evidenced by the literally dozens of luxury homes owned by my family in Beverly Hills, the French Riviera, and elsewhere around the world.
Let us hope that the Oregon community can take this astonishingly bad decision and recognize that it does not have to define you. You still have the collective capacity to rise up and do great things. For example, having consulted with my colleagues and based on the information gathered from the Gabon Chambers Of Commerce and Industry, I have the privilege to request your assistance to transfer the sum of $47,500,000.00 (forty seven million, five hundred thousand United States dollars) into your accounts. The above sum resulted from an over-invoiced contract, executed, commissioned and paid for about five years (5) ago by a foreign contractor. This action was however intentional and since then the fund has been in a suspense account at The Central Bank Of Gabon Apex Bank.
We are now ready to transfer the fund overseas and that is where you come in. It is important to inform you that as civil servants, we are forbidden to operate a foreign account; that is why we require your assistance. The total sum will be shared as follows: 70% for us, 25% for you and 5% for local and international expenses incidental to the transfer.
The transfer is risk free on both sides. If you find this proposal acceptable, we shall require the following documents:
(a) your banker's name, telephone, account and fax numbers.
(b) your private telephone and fax numbers —for confidentiality and easy communication.
(c) your letter-headed paper stamped and signed.
Alternatively we will furnish you with the text of what to type into your letter-headed paper, along with a breakdown explaining, comprehensively what we require of you. The business will take us thirty (30) working days to accomplish.
Just when we were kind of liking not having pro basketball going on, the greedy league owners and their greedy players have reached some sort of deal to end the current labor stoppage. It appears that the players pretty much caved in on the main money issue. Now they say they're going to have a 66-game season starting on Christmas Day, less than a month from now.
With extra fat to sweat off, the play will doubtlessly be pretty ragged well into the new year. A number of players have moved overseas and are playing in foreign countries -- they'll be in better shape as they return, but they'll be leaving their foreign teams in the lurch, which is not good karma. It could be a record year for injuries, or on-court slacking. It's hard not to see a dent in fan enthusiasm coming. But by the time we get to the endless playoffs in the late spring, the teams will probably be packing them in again.
In any event, it's going to be a season with a big fat asterisk on it. In that sense, if we were holding season tickets to the Blazers, the end of the lockout would be a mixed blessing. But certainly for the little folks who earn wages on the sidelines at the games, it's good news indeed. For them, we're sincerely happy.
Don't you love it when you're stopped in a line of traffic, and rather than get in the back of the line, some joker drives all the way to the front and cuts in? Us too. That's why this story warms our heart this holiday weekend:
During the six-hour period OSP reported one DUII arrest, three reckless endangerment citations, three driving while suspended citations and 58 citations for "illegal stopping or standing" on I-5, according to Lt. Gregg Hastings.
Hastings said the illegal stop citations were mainly issued to drivers who attempted to avoid backups in the right lane by driving to the front of the line and stopping in the two left lanes with their turn signals on.
Two years ago this week, a federal public defender was strangled to death in her home in the Bridlemile neighborhood in the hills of southwest Portland. Her name was Nancy Bergeson, and she was a few days short of her 58th birthday.
Bergeson's body was found in her dining room. Her dog, who was not harmed, was with her. There was reportedly no sign of a struggle, and investigators did not treat the case as a homicide until an autopsy the next day revealed the true cause of death. Apparently she was strangled with a broad, soft cloth, which left no external marks on her neck. Because of the initial misreading of the situation, it is possible that some evidence was lost, although authorities say that that isn't likely.
Because Bergeson was physically fit, her mother, a well known retired politician in southern California, believes that the killer was someone Bergeson knew; otherwise, although not a large person, she would have fought back. The victim had just finished a long trial of a defendant who was accused of tax crimes -- a trial that she lost. She went out to dinner with friends, and was getting ready to leave for an East Coast trip over Thanksgiving. The murder took place between 8:00 that Monday night and 10:00 Tuesday morning.
Bergeson was divorced and lived alone on the 4100 block of woodsy SW Hamilton Street. The door to the house was unlocked when Bergeson's body was found by a neighbor girl who used to walk her dog, but police say the unlocked door wasn't unusual for Bergeson. The body was discovered at around 3:00 on Tuesday afternoon. She left behind a daughter who had recently graduated from college and lived on the East Coast.
The Portland police, who seem to be at a complete loss, recycled the Bergeson story with a press release earlier this week. A reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest, but that offer has been outstanding almost since the murder occurred. The detective in charge of the investigation is Michele Michaels -- (503) 823-0692.
It is a chilling story indeed. Immediately one thinks that it has something to do with Bergeson's work as a defense attorney. And since the killing was done so neatly, perhaps a hired murderer was involved.
If it was job-related, was it someone she had represented, or someone on the law enforcement side? Then again, maybe it was someone she knew outside of work. But who?
The killing of a public defender under truly mysterious circumstances is not something that a community can afford to shrug off. Let's hope that there is a break in the case soon, and that people keep talking about Nancy Bergeson until we all find out just what went down that November night.
Residents of Portland, already shaken by the deep and lingering recession, are holding their breaths this weekend while the linchpin of the Oregon economy is out of commission. Yes, the iconic OHSU aerial tram[rim shot] is down for maintenance until Monday. And as retired OHSU president Peter Kohler (PERS pension $20,252.33 a month) told us when the city's taxpayers were being forced to build the tram, without it Oregon has no economic future. With it, of course, the medical school has created thousands of biotech jobs, in Florida.
Until the tram is back in operation, OHSU personnel will be forced to ride shuttle buses back and forth between Pill Hill and the SoWhat District. Can you imagine? Filthy, no-good shuttle buses. Let's hope their ordeal ends quickly.
As happened last year, the underdogs of pro football did not prevail on Thanksgiving Day. That means goose eggs for the following players in our charity prediction game:
7 MIAMI at Dallas - Rudie, Larry Legend, genop's gal, Paul, Michael K.
6 DETROIT vs. Green Bay - Gordon, Drewbob, Biggest Cubs Loser, john dull, Pete Rozelle, Money Maker, jmh
3 SAN FRANCISCO at Baltimore - John Ch., John Cr., Bad Brad, Weavmo
It was pretty good gridiron action all day, though. Who needs the NBA? All other players in our contest, don't forget to get your picks in by 10 a.m. Sunday.
Several players have picked the first game of the day in our charity pro football prediction game:
6 DETROIT vs. Green Bay (Thurs. 9:30 a.m. PST) - Gordon, Drewbob, Biggest Cubs Loser, john dull, Pete Rozelle
That's as of late last night. And there could be more -- we're sleeping in, and this blog entry, composed in the wee hours, is being posted by a robot. If any additional players took Detroit this morning before the 9:30 deadline, we'll add them here when we're up and about.
Meanwhile, happy Thanksgiving and enjoy the games, folks!
UPDATE, 2:00 p.m.: Sleep and holiday merriment have kept us away from 'Dog Central, but here's an update: Money Maker and jmh also threw in with Detroit this morning -- alas, unsuccessfully.
In the second game, we find:
7 MIAMI at Dallas (Thurs. 1:15 p.m. PST) - Rudie, Larry Legend, genop's gal, Paul, Michael K.
Hope everyone's having a great day so far, win or lose.
Don't forget that we have three Thursday games this week:
7 MIAMI at Dallas (Thurs. 1:15 p.m. PST)
6 DETROIT vs. Green Bay (Thurs. 9:30 a.m. PST)
3 SAN FRANCISCO at Baltimore (Thurs. 5:20 p.m. PST)
If you want any of those underdogs, you must let us know by kickoff time of the respective game. Otherwise, the deadline is Sunday at 10 a.m. PST as usual. Happy pickin' and happy Thanksgiving.
UPDATE, 11/24, 12:15 a.m.: Still no lines for St. Louis/Arizona or New England/Philadelphia on Sunday. We'll keep checking for those through Thursday evening; if none show up by then, they're off our board.
The angry neighbors of a proposed lumber mill waste incinerator biomass energy plant in downtown Vancouver, Washington have managed to kill the project. Yay, angry neighbors! Stick up for the air you breathe, and don't let the money-grubbers "greenwash" their way into your back yard:
The county maintained that pollution and other factors would be minimal, and that the plant represents a sustainable way to heat and cool county buildings at no additional cost to taxpayers.
The biomass plant (fueled by tree tops, limbs and the detritus of producing lumber) would replace 11 boilers.
This project was the protoype of what the planning pushers call an "eco-district." Your garbage is going to be burned right where you live, for electricity. Portland City Hall is all over it. Maybe your neighborhood will be the lucky first one. To borrow a line from Eileen Brady, you'll love it!
Maxine Bernstein at the O has all the details on the charges filed against the Portland police captain who allegedly pointed his gun at a passing motorist in a road rage incident on I-90 in Idaho this past August.
Ron Wyden has been in Congress for 31 years. His starting salary there was $60,662; today's it's $174,000. He's got two homes and four kids, and went through one divorce. So how is he reportedly worth somewhere between $5.7 million and $8 million?
Earl Blumenauer has been in Congress for 16 years; before that he was on the Portland City Council for nine years. His starting salary in Congress was $133,600; today it's the same as Wyden's, $174,000. He, too, is divorced, and he has two stepchildren to go with two children. Yet he's reportedly worth between $2.4 million and $7.4 million. What gives?
For one thing, both of these guys are married to women with dough. Wyden's wife since 2005, Nancy Bass, manages her family's famous Strand Bookstore in New York City. Blumenauer's wife since 2004, Margaret Kirkpatrick, is reportedly making more than $650,000 a year as a vice president at the gas company.
But you have to wonder: Even with the Mrs. bringing in the bucks, how much insider trading have these two done? They're allowed to trade in stocks and bonds based on Capitol Hill secrets that only they and their staffs know. And many congresspeople have portfolios that, funny thing, substantially outperform everybody's else's. Are the Oregon boys in that club?
That proposed 15-story Pearl District apartment bunker that we wrote about the other day has been killed. That was quick -- at last report, the developers were planning to meet with city officials to see what kind of taxpayer handouts were available if the project would "pencil out." Guess they got the word that the deal would have to rise or fall on its own merit. Nobody does business within Portland city limits without a handout any more, and so that was the end of that.
Willy Week this week sets out what it calls the six groups that you need to win a mayoral election in Portland: the unions, the Chamber of Commerce, the inner east side, the "greens" and rail Mafia, old people and Republicans, and young people.
As that adds up to about 85% of the population, it's hard to disagree.
Here are the lines for this weekend in our charity pro football underdog game:
10.5 KANSAS CITY vs. Pittsburgh
9 MINNESOTA at Atlanta
8 BUFFALO at New York Jets
7.5 CLEVELAND at Cincinnati
7 MIAMI at Dallas (Thurs. 1:15 p.m. PST)
7 NEW YORK GIANTS at New Orleans
6.5 DENVER at San Diego
6 DETROIT vs. Green Bay (Thurs. 9:30 a.m. PST)
5 CHICAGO at Oakland
4 WASHINGTON at Seattle
3.5 JACKSONVILLE vs. Houston
3.5 INDIANAPOLIS vs. Carolina
3 TAMPA BAY at Tennessee
3 SAN FRANCISCO at Baltimore (Thurs. 5:20 p.m. PST)
Nothing yet on Arizona/St. Louis or New England/Philadelphia (both Sunday). Our oddsmaker will keep checking on those two through Thursday evening.
If you're picking a Thursday game, your pick must be in by kickoff. For all other games, the deadline is 10 a.m. Sunday.
UPDATE, 11/24, 12:15 a.m.: Still no lines for St. Louis/Arizona or New England/Philadelphia. We'll keep checking for those through Thursday evening; if none show up by then, they're off our board.
Portland to test expansion of curbside composting program
Heartened by the public response to its new food scrap composting system, the City of Portland Bureau of Planning and Sustainability today announced an expansion of the program. Effective January 1, a pilot project will begin in selected neighborhoods throughout the city in which residents can include human remains of their relatives and housemates in their green yard debris carts.
"In the cemetery, a corpse produces methane, a greenhouse gas that causes climate change," said Susan Anderson, the city's planning director. "It also is an unsustainable use of urban real estate, which is much better devoted to mixed-use, higher-density infill. With cremation, the releases of greenhouse gases are even more pronounced and obvious.
"All of this waste can be composted and transformed into a valuable product. Composting does not produce methane, so it helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and produces a valuable agricultural product for better soils and gardens," Anderson said.
She added that the use of the city's yard debris system for human composting also achieves the city's emerging goal of social equity, in that it allows poorer families to avoid the high cost of a funeral, which can run into the thousands of dollars. The test program will be instituted in neighborhoods along the MAX rail line, where it is expected to receive heavier use.
The human composting process has been in use in Sweden for several years, developed by the company Promessa. To prepare human remains for composting, the body is placed in a casket, frozen to zero degrees Farenheit, and lowered into a vat of liquid nitrogen. Vibration causes the body to disintegrate into powder. Vacuums and magnets are used to remove liquid and metals and the remains are then placed in a cornstarch coffin for shallow burial. Once buried, the cadaver composts in six months to a year, at which time it can be sold as an organic fertilizer.
The expansion of the Portland program is a public-private partnership among the city, Metro, and Soprano Sanitation, a "green"-certified waste management firm in Leonia, New Jersey.
Now that its clear that the residents of Lake Oswego don't want a streetcar, the pushers of the project are going to doctor up the liars' budget and take another run at them. They'll keep gyrating until they get the thing built. And to think it's all about more taxpayer-subsidized Homer Williams condos -- as if that guy hasn't done enough damage to the public. What foolishness.
Don "The Don" Mazziotti, ushered out of Portland to become the economic development director of Beaverton, is a one-trick pony. What's he got to revive the economy out in that suburb? The only thing he seems to know: condos, and more condos.
Don Mazziotti, community development director for the city, noted that businesspeople are saying there is a need for more housing for the workforce of "educated people."
"The 320-unit development will create the opportunity for highly-trained individuals to make their home in Beaverton," he said.
The city offered an incentive to developers when the property was annexed by incrementally instituting property taxes on the property. Mazziotti said the move was justified by the project’s "economic value."
The project is pitched as a mixed-use development, where walking paths and parks will connect houses on one side of the site to commercial development on the other.
Oh, boy. It sounds like Mazziotti's failed South Waterfront district in Portland, only a little smaller and laid on its side. The guy's always got a sales pitch, though. The "creative class" was a bust, and so now it's on to "educated people." A condo farm, in this economy? Will it be a "linchpin," maybe even "iconic" or a "catalyst"? And of course, nowadays no real estate boondoggle in Oregon is complete without this:
MLG is pursuing Earth Advantage certification for each of the homes, he added.
You can almost hear the Portlandia sheep baaa-ing their approval. We're surprised they left out "social equity." Go by streetcar, Beaverton. You asked for it.
We're still reeling from the news that former U of O football coach Mike Bellotti's pension from the Oregon public employee system is $41,341.67 a month. That's $496,100 a year, and as we understand it, it could continue for life. Even if it didn't go up for inflation, the present value of a life annuity in that amount, for a 61-year-old person like Bellotti, discounted at 4% a year, is $6,499,605.
Recall that the guy also got a questionable $2.3 million severance when he left the U of O to go to work for ESPN. At that time, he reportedly wanted $7 million from the university.
Whatever he did in 20 years on the university payroll -- he made $1.9 million in his last year as football coach -- Bellotti isn't worth half of what he's gotten, and is still getting, after his departure. It's further confirmation of what we've known for a while now: There is something very wrong in Eugene. (It gets worse: The current football coach is making $2.8 million.)
And it also shows how disgusting it is that the state employee unions put out a fatwa against the political career of Greg Macpherson, the former state legislator who spearheaded pension reform. Bellotti and the other face cards on the top 10 PERS beneficiary list are exactly whom Macpherson was talking about.
Most telling is Bellotti's snotty comment to a reporter who asked him about the size of his pension: "Put in all the taxes I've paid to the state of Oregon." This is an example of why we loathe the U of O football team. We've got but two words for Mikey, and they ain't "Go Ducks."
UPDATE, 10:52 a.m.: The O has posted the top 837 pension-getters -- those receiving more than $100,000 a year annually -- here.
The Chiefs did not come through in New England this evening, and so the standings in our charity pro football underdog game remain where they were this morning, only without the asterisks. Our new lines will be posted tomorrow, and players should remember that we'll see three games throughout the day on Thursday -- with correspondingly early deadlines for picks in our game.
... for Oregon state employee pension reform, that is. Mike Bellotti -- 41 grand a farookin' month! Goldschmidt's brother at number 4. Dave Frohnmayer, Peter "Aerial Tram" Kohler -- they, too, make the top 10. It's unbelievable, really. No wonder the state's been hiding these figures for so long. Truly worthy of an Occupation.
You're about to "invest in" another 15-story apartment bunker in the Pearl District. "The developers will be meeting city officials next month to determine if the project is feasible, an early step in the development process." Too funny. Palms will be greased, legally or illegally.
Here's a story whose release was timed so that you wouldn't see it: The Portland Development Commission is now being sued in connection with its alleged double crossing of a development firm over the cratered Centennial Mills project. Of course, to kiss up to the city bureaucrats, the city's daily newspaper now identifies the plaintiff as "a disgruntled California developer." Come on, Brad, you can be more subtle than that.
When we blogged last month about the latest gyrations surrounding the fiscally irresponsible Oregon Sustainability Center project, we noted that there were no private tenants lined up for the proposed ultra-green office building. We got one snarky comment pointing out that the project planners at the City of Portland and the development firm known as PSU were "talking to" Skanska, the construction company, about relocating its management to the building. This was mildly amusing to us, in that Skanska is getting the construction contract from the developer, Gerding Edlen, and so of course they'd be willing to say they might take space, just so that the project would actually materialize. If they did move in, there'd be plenty of room in the complex finances of the building to get a chunk of their rent quietly refunded in advance.
Well, now it turns out that it was all a false rumor. Skanska has moved into the KOIN tower, and says it was "never going in" the sustainability center. It's had a lease at KOIN since at least August.
Interestingly, Skanska's name was still being tossed around as a prospective tenant in late September, when promoters were making a pitch to the Oregon legislature for state funding. It's not nice to lie when you're asking for money. (The legislature is expected to get back to that question in February.)
But don't worry. There will be private tenants who will pay premium rents for space that's poorly heated and cooled, with compost toilets, dim lighting, rainwater to drink, and no garbage pickup. Honest. They'll be here any minute.
A couple of readers who spend their Sunday mornings listening to hate radio have alerted us to the fact that Portland mayoral candidate Eileen Brady was interviewed yesterday on the Rob Kremer tirade-fest, and apparently she didn't come off as much of an alternative to the condo pushers that she's running against. In response to a comment that folks in Vancouver, Washington don't want light rail, Brady reportedly said, "Ah, they'll love it."
This has the tighty righties going nuts, as they now realize that none of the four candidates that the pundits talk most about -- Brady, Reese, Hales, or Smith -- are going to deviate from Portland's bird-on-it agenda of the past 20 years. Brady may be the least objectionable in that pack, but as we have found out with Tom Hughes, that's nothing to get optimistic about. Max Brumm looks better all the time.
Are you like us -- do you hate "PolitiFact Oregon," the column in which the O purports to check on the accuracy of some statement that someone made? It cops the attitude that readers naturally trust the newspaper to get to the bottom of the story. Given the O's knack for missing and deliberately ignoring the big ones, it's a hilarious assumption.
Anyway, they recently decided to check up on Metro president Tom Hughes's statement that 20 percent of the housing in Portland's Pearl District is affordable housing. So where did they go to check the accuracy of the statement? The Portland Development Commission and Metro's own p.r. guy. As if they're going to get an honest answer from them. The PDC's survival depends on proving that it's meeting its goals, and since the p.r. guy works for Hughes, you can expect him to play yes man to whatever the boss just said.
In the end, the hard hitters at the O concluded that it all depends on what your definition of "the Pearl" is. But they go ahead and give Hughes a green light anyway. What a contribution to public discourse.
Hughes, by the way, has turned out to be Charlie Hales from Hillsboro, touting the advantages of "urban renewal" and rail projects to anyone who will listen. In his race against Psychedelic Rex and Spacey Stacey, Hughes was the least of three evils, but it turns out, not by much.
A couple of weeks ago we learned that construction activity at the mothballed Moyer tower project in downtown Portland won't start up again for at least two years. By then, construction on the ill-fated office building, which was originally to have included mondo condos, will have been stopped for 4½ years.
After neighbors complained in court about the construction crane that's been idly looming over the abandoned pit since the spring of '09, now the Moyer folks have had it folded up and taken away. All that's left behind is the hole, and the question why. The answer seems to be what these days is being called greed. Maybe the Occupiers should try to camp down there. "Whose hole? Our hole!"
Meanwhile, the Moyer family is reportedly at each other's throats over money. It's a familiar story with wealthy Portland businessmen -- Fred Meyer, Bill Naito -- whose earthly demises have led to protracted, expensive, messy, public family feuds. But in this case, the spat has flared up while the patriarch is still alive. Moyer is 92 and suffers from Alzheimer's, and apparently the kids can't wait until after the funeral to start smacking each other over dough.
Coincidentally, Vanessa Sturgeon, the 33-year-old Moyer granddaughter who's currently running the real estate empire, is a major backer of Portland Police Chief Mike Reese for mayor. She put together Reese's debutante party at the Arlington Club last week. Sturgeon, who lives in Lake Oswego, was one of the defendants in the 2004 criminal case in which Moyer was alleged to have made contributions to Portland mayoral candidate Jim Francesconi falsely using Sturgeon's name and that of his secretary. That felony case, in which Sturgeon was also charged, was dismissed this past summer on the stated ground that Moyer is now incapable of assisting in his own defense.
After a wild day of major upsets in college football yesterday, there were only two teeny upsets in the pro ranks today, and none of our players were riding on those. No upsets, no points in our charity prognostication game. Here are the standings at the end of the day, with two players (with asterisks) hoping for a 14.5-point miracle tomorrow night:
Here's how the players in our charity underdog game are going in today's pro football contests. Nearly a third are backing the Tigers over the Blackbirds:
14.5 KANSAS CITY at New England - Tommy W., Bayou Baby
14.5 TAMPA BAY at Green Bay - Drewbob
9.5 ARIZONA at San Francisco - Bob, Gary, mna, Eric W.
7.5 WASHINGTON vs. Dallas - Pete Rozelle, Usual Kevin, Annie
7 CAROLINA at Detroit - Carol, Broadway Joe, Bad Brad
7 CINCINNATI at Baltimore - PDXileinOmaha, Rudie, genop, Gordon, Paul, Weavmo, AKevin, Michael K., John Ch., jmh
6 TENNESSEE at Atlanta - Larry Legend, John Cr., Ricardo, Biggest Cubs Loser, Grizfan
4.5 DENVER vs. New York Jets (Thursday, winner) - NoPoGuy, genop's gal, john dull
2.5 BUFFALO at Miami - Money Maker
If it had been anyone else but Southern Cal who beat them, we'd be a lot more satisfied with the result than we are. We knew that the Trojans would be an extremely difficult opponent, having watched them take Stanford to three overtimes. And when Oklahoma State lost on Friday night, the U of O crew started dreaming about another national championship game -- perhaps momentarily taking their eye off the danger right in front of them.
So now the conference winning streak and home winning streak are both reset. The Ducks will proceed to make mincemeat out of the Beavers and whichever relatively lame opponent comes out of the southern half of the conference. Which puts them in the Rose Bowl -- not a shabby place to be, but given the money they've spent, legal and otherwise, it's nothing to write home to Phil about.
Oh well, it's only a game. At least the student athletes have their excellent education to fall back on.
Just what Portland doesn't need right now -- a police chief who's busy running for mayor while protesters and armored police are duking it out in the streets. But that's what we've got. So he makes a highly misleading statement about the effect of the protests on police response time, then gives a long-winded apology for it, denying that he intentionally attempted to mislead the public:
In interviews with KGW and KPTV on Thursday afternoon, I stated that a call involving a rape victim had not been handled by officers for three hours due to police resources being tied up with Occupy Portland. The reality was more complex. I subsequently learned that the call I referred to occurred on November 6, and there were a variety of factors impacting police resources that day, including Occupy Portland. On Friday, the Portland Police Bureau released full details surrounding this incident and our response, which you can read here. (LINK TO: http://www.portlandonline.com/police/pbnotify.cfm?action=ViewContent&content_id=2618)
It was not my intention to mislead people, especially around an incident as serious and sensitive as a reported sexual assault. I spoke about the incident without knowing all of the details and made assumptions that were not correct. I apologize; I should have gathered all of the information before discussing it publicly.
The past six weeks have strained police resources. During this time many officers, sergeants, detectives, and command staff have worked long hours with little time off. We are working hard to provide the quality service the public has come to expect, but it is sometimes a struggle. I also know from talking personally to many of the protestors, that they too are tired from the unique challenges of this unprecedented movement.
This may be an opportunity for us to collectively take a pause and reassess the way the police and protestors have been approaching this situation, to find a uniquely Portland solution. Today, we tried something new. Our Incident Commander Mike Leloff met with protestors before a march and asked if they wanted a police escort. When they told him no, he asked that they self-police their event and obey the law; police would only respond if there were complaints. The march participants agreed, and the event proceeded without any problems, or a police presence.
This is a model of cooperation that we could build upon for future events, and I want to thank today's marchers for making this possible. We all share a responsibility for public safety and respecting the rights of everyone in our community. I look forward to further dialogue with Mayor Sam Adams and Occupy Portland protestors about how we can maintain a safe and welcoming
community, while respecting the right to free speech.
"The reality was more complex" -- ya gotta love that one. Adams couldn't have mumbled it better himself.
The Twins actually have Reese convinced that he's a politician now. Chief, why don't you take a year's leave from the police bureau so that you can run for mayor? Then we won't have to pay a police sergeant out of taxpayer funds to write your campaign speeches for you. Surely you can come up with a way to get a disability check to tide you over -- it doesn't take much, apparently.
The Occupy Portland crew has been performing a few maneuvers. They were squatting in a foreclosed home for a while before the police removed them yesterday. Today they tried setting up camp in the South Park Blocks, but the police made them take their tents down. Apparently they're planning to hang out at City Hall for a couple of hours late tonight.
At our place, we've been living the Sam Rand Way, dutifully scraping all of our food slop into the official City of Portland slop bucket and dumping it into our yard debris bin so that a private company can make a bundle out of it. It's our way of showing solidarity with North Korea.
But not everyone has been complying with the program. We've been hearing stories about other purposes for which people are using their free slop bucket. Our two favorites so far: A kid using it as a trick-or-treat candy bag on Halloween; and a woman washing out her wigs in it.
The pails are so versatile -- surely, there are more uses going on out there. What are you doing with yours?
The weekend begins with some historic news. The Portland policeman who accidentally shot and seriously wounded a suspect with live rounds, thinking they were beanbag rounds, has been indicted by a Multnomah County grand jury. Officer Dane "Because I Said So" Reister was charged with third-degree assault, which is a felony, and fourth-degree assault.
It's about time the PoPo had to account for itself.
A few aspects of the highly unusual indictment are worth noting. First, the grand jury handed up its charges on a Friday night, which intentionally or not, allows media reporting of its action to get lost in the weekend. Second, the indictment comes in the middle of a rare election for county district attorney. Third, the legal action wraps up a bizarre grand jury session in which Reister's lawyer was allowed to intervene, contrary to normal procedure.
Most importantly, we wonder whether there would have been any indictment at all if the victim, William Kyle Monroe, had been killed rather than badly injured. The prospect of Multnomah County indicting an officer for a homicide is still unthinkable. If an officer wrongfully shoots someone, they seem to get more lenient punishment if the target dies.
How long will it take before the Occupy Portland folks start disrupting meetings of government bodies? If anyone has failed them, one would think it was the politicians. We previously suggested that Sen. Ron Wyden (R-N.Y.) would be an appropriate target of an "occupation." And as others have pointed out, Congressman Earl the Pearl is also inching his way toward living in the 1%. He ain't buying those bowties at Goodwill, folks.
Anyway, in Pennsyvlania, the Occupiers had one of their bizarre "mic check" moments at the state redistricting commission meeting today. This is where one of them shouts something out, and the rest of them repeat it in unison, line after line. Straight out of Orwell.
For those of us who are tired of watching the politicians put a bird on our city, it would be fun to see a local government board here in Portlandia -- any one, really, but we could all name our personal favorite candidate -- get an earful.
The collective nervous breakdown of Portland known as the Adams administration is on full display now. We're a million dollars of police overtime into the Occupy Show, and there's no end in sight. Scores of the unemployable young "creative class" people that the city has been killing itself for years to attract are now blocking the streets, more than a little disappointed at how their lives have turned out. And day after day, they're deliberately coming nose to nose with the city's unstable, and often mean, police force.
The prevailing figure of authority is a mayor with serious personal problems, who stole his office and commands respect from no one outside his circle of minions. The primary credential of the police chief, who has picked this time of crisis to start running for mayor himself, is being in a rock band with the class bully of the City Council.
What a time for a nationwide wave of civil disobedience to reach Puddletown.
Yesterday, in the course of 48 arrests, things started getting rough. Outside one bank, the police whacked several young people with their batons, far more aggressively than they had at the parks over the weekend, and they also broke out their beloved pepper spray. Here's a telling photo, which instantly went viral, of one young woman getting it right in the kisser. It could be the news picture of the year locally, and it will probably make it onto some national year-end "best" lists as well. It's the Tiananmen Square guy, Portlandia style.
To the protesters, it's all in a day's work, and since no one's gotten punished for anything yet, they'll continue to antagonize the police. It's obvious that they're enjoying baiting the riot squads, and blaming them on the video cams for every bump and bruise that they go home with. Meanwhile, the cops, although loving the overtime money, are obviously stressed and losing their patience. Some of the force that the police used yesterday exhibited a new level of violence. As the PoPo have repeatedly shown in the past, the sky's the limit in that department.
A thoughtful reader commented on this blog yesterday that he felt that something really bad is about to happen on the Portland streets. We wish we could disagree, but we can't. More and bigger trouble surely looms ahead. If nothing else, a fatal traffic accident seems a real possibility, with protesters roaming the bridges and the transit mall accompanied by inane "bike swarms." Some Christmas shopper in an SUV from the suburbs, or some angry Tri-Met bus driver, could very well take somebody out some dark afternoon. And if yesterday's newsreels haven't already killed off the holiday retail season downtown, impossible traffic in the "Occupied" zone will surely do so.
The City Council spent all day Monday patting itself on the back for how swell the Occupy response went last weekend -- it took only 24 hours to clear out two city blocks, and nobody got seriously hurt. Their tune will be a little different next Monday. And the Monday after that.
As with the nonexistent economy in Portland, the politicians here will blame national forces beyond their control for the breakdown of the social order. To some extent, they're right. But the arrogant immaturity and sore lack of judgment at City Hall aren't helping matters any. The current crisis demands, at a minimum, grownup leadership. And alas, the city doesn't seem to have much of that on hand.
Trees in Portland are sacred, until they get in the way of some bureaucrat's "vision." Here's one coming down next to Grant High School to make way for a "community garden," and apparently two big ones were cut down west of the Grant tennis courts this week:
Hey, Nick Fish, what's up with this? And why are the neighbors being surprised by it? Do you want them to stop caring about the park? If so, you're doing a fine job.
Portland City Hall -- a den of corruption, both legal and illegal -- sees one of its practitioners take a fall. Under Sam Adams, transportation commissioner, of course.
Usually in a case like this, the next question is, "Who knew?" But in this case, everybody at City Hall knew that McCoy was up to no good -- including Adams, transportation director Sue Keil, and McCoy's supervisor, Lavinia Gordon. Keil and Gordon are gone now, and Adams will be soon. Maybe he ought to resign before the feds start sniffing around his office and bank accounts.
UPDATE, 2:59 p.m.: Maxine Bernstein at the O has lots of new details, including this interesting tidbit:
A day after the raid of his office in the Portland Building, McCoy professed his innocence to reporters, telling the media in multiple interviews outside his Hillsboro apartment that he did not take any kickbacks or bribes to influence any contracts.
Yet by then, McCoy had spent hours cooperating with federal authorities, admitting he had received checks from Levey and pleading to do his time at the federal prison in Sheridan. Because of his cooperation, the case was not taken to a grand jury.
UPDATE, 3:51 p.m.: Here's the U.S. attorney's press release, via Willamette Week. With just one count, it seems certain that a deal has been struck and he's going to plead guilty.
UPDATE, 11:24 p.m.: The criminal charge, contained in an "information," is here. He is charged with violating 18 USC sec. 666, which bears a prison term of up to 10 years and a substantial fine (we think up to $250,000, but don't quote us on that, and besides, McCoy's seemingly broke enough to have a federal public defender).
The latest episode in the Occupy Portland soap opera is streaming live here. They arrested 25 people this morning acting out on the Steel Bridge. Now it's the banks. Having wasted two nights and most of a day watching these kids, we're too burned out to follow their every move. Anyone who does, please keep us updated in the comments to this post.
Just as it dawned on us that the main issue in Portland today is getting city government out of average people's faces, along comes this story, about the latest blatant waste of money on "behavior change":
Conducted this month by Davis, Hibbitts & Midghall, Inc., the telephone survey asked respondents whether they:
1. Rented out a room in their house.
2. Took items to the repair shop instead of buying replacements.
3. Used cloth napkins.
4. Borrowed or shared tools rather than buying new.
5. Shopped at second-hand stores.
The poll is part of a $40,000 study of the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability's Be Resourceful campaign, which started last fall to curb growth in the city's waste stream and raise the recycling rate to 75 percent by 2015, said Jocelyn Boudreaux, a spokeswoman for the bureau....
"We want to message the upstream impacts of our consumption and to motivate all residents and businesses to change their behavior in ways that reduce carbon emissions," Boudreaux writes in an email.
They just get bolder and bolder with this stuff down at City Hall. There needs to be a response, an organized response that they can't ignore. Yes, moving out of Portland proper would be one response, but for those of us who can't or don't want to do that -- after all, some of us were here first -- what's the right way to start fighting back?
We've reached that time of year in which the Big Daddies of pro football play a game on Thursday evening. Players in our charity underdog game, if you want Denver at home over the Jets for 4 points, your pick is due at 5:20 West Coast time this afternoon. Last Thursday night, the Raiders came through for 7.
Here's a video that the children at Portland City Hall are showing around the country, and apparently Mayor Juvenile took it with him to China:
What a strange hash of weird "accomplishments." If this is what's supposed to bring money to town and create a viable economy around here, we're in deep trouble. Make room in the Occupy camps for the people this sort of thing attracts.
Portland, Oregon -- the City That Won't Get Out of Your Face
We got this foolishness in the mail yesterday:
First of all, the first of two "leaf days" over our way came and went last weekend. So much for notice. And as we noted, the city crew that came through that day left more slop in the street in front of our house than there was before it showed up.
We'll rake up the leaves from the street the day before our next leaf day, which they couldn't have the decency to put on this postcard. If the wind blows overnight that night, there will be leaves in our gutter on leaf day. But whatever the spot checkers determine, we'll never pay the fee or the tax or the fine or whatever they want to call it. If we have to challenge the legality of the program in court, we will. It would make an intriguing case.
More importantly, this crystallizes our central position on the upcoming mayoral and city council elections: Which candidate is going to get the bleeding Portland City Hall out of everybody's faces? It's reached the point that nothing else matters -- not even the vain promise of "jobs." Who's going to get the city off everybody's back for the next four years? If no such candidate appears, we don't vote -- it's that simple.
Here's an interesting story -- employees at the City of Portland's über-arrogant transportation bureau are stomping around staging protests of the big layoffs that they see coming. Most of those getting pink slips will probably be road maintenance people. Tweeters, planners, and other facilitators of bike share programs, MAX to nowhere, traffic calming, and bioswales are no doubt secure. Go by streetcar, transportation workers -- all the way to the unemployment office.
Hey, Tri-Met -- pull the plug on this driver, now!
It's really unbelievable what a tin ear Portland's transit agency has. The fuller story about the driver who recently trashed a mother with her crying child would curdle milk:
The driver’s 10-year disciplinary records read like a broken record of complaints, infractions and ineffective, light consequences with threats that the behavior must not continue. In 2007, the driver was issued a five-day suspension after repeated "inappropriate conduct" that a TriMet report says was similar to the most recent incident.
The Line 57 driver, as a result of complaints, was required to go to counseling about "customer service skills" in February 2006, May 2006, November 2006, March 2007, May 2007, June 2009, September 2009, February 2010, January 2011, March 2011, April 2011 and July 2011. In addition, improvement plans were established for her in April and October 2005.
Despite all that, complaints about the Line 57 driver increased in recent years without an apparent change in attitude. At an Oct. 14 hearing on the latest incident, the driver told TriMet investigators that she had done nothing wrong and that she wears cotton in her ears and keeps the bus fans on high to dampen the distraction of noise in her bus.
She's driving a bus with cotton in her ears? How in heaven's name is she supposed to be able to hear passengers, or emergency vehicles, or anything else?
Come on, Tri-Met. That's grounds right there. Pay the lawyers and get her out from behind the wheel. Now, before she hurts somebody. She's already trashed what minimal goodwill you have left.
That news is buried way down at the bottom of this otherwise ho-hum story:
Novick, for example, said Portland shouldn't build a streetcar to Lake Oswego until east Portland residents have adequate bus service. He also said Portlanders should consider a local gas tax to fund transportation improvements.
That first part sounds good. The latter sounds like bike paths and streetcars.
Stenchy the Portland Food Slop Rat settles in for the winter.
We've completed our first full round of the new City of Portland household garbage ordeal, putting out the four sacred separation chambers containing our family's solid waste just the other night. We got through our first two-week pickup cycle without the landfill can overflowing, but it was close.
The real problem, of course, is the smell. After two weeks, the packaging that raw chicken and fish come in gives off quite a nasty odor -- and that's in November. Especially since we're not allowed to get free plastic bags to seal it in from the grocery store any more. And so lifting the lid on the landfill can has become an adventure. Come July, we're all going to die. (And no, there's no room in our freezer for garbage.)
Our green yard debris bin was already gross, but with food slop caked all over its interior, it's already a veritable petri dish of pathogens. Just looking at it makes us a little sick -- imagine what breathing in the fumes must be doing.
If the funkiness in our driveway is bad, we can't imagine what it's like at the neighbors' places, where many folks appear to be going about business as usual. All their food waste is now sitting around for up to two weeks. Yucky doodles. And what do they do when their can is full? Have the midnight runs to the dumpster at the nearby school started yet?
Anyway, we're living the Sam Rand Way, with Sustainable Susan showing us the path to enlightenment. Somewhere up there the gods are laughing hysterically.
Here's an interesting column that covers something we've been thinking about this week. There are several efforts under way to pass a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court's controversial Citizens United decision. That decision gave corporations "personhood" rights, and with them the right to spend all the money they wanted to influence elections and legislation under the First Amendment.
But just reversing that court ruling isn't going to knock big money out of the catbird seat in American politics. Businesses will stop using corporations to do their political bidding; they'll come up with some other structure that will get around the proposed constitutional amendment undoing Citizens United.
The real villain in the piece is much older than Citizens United -- it's Buckley v. Valeo, the Supreme Court's messy 1976 case that held that spending money on political causes was "speech" protected under the First Amendment. That's what puts big bucks in charge. The Court's reasoning makes sense in the abstract, but when you see how it plays out in practice -- the ugly scene we have today -- it seems a ripe target for reform.
Repealing Buckley would be a much trickier business, and it would have far graver implications for civil liberties than just getting rid of Citizens United. Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley and some allies have a proposed amendment on the table that they hope will get some traction. Unless you're happy with the current state of politics in this country, it's certainly worth thinking about. But on something like this, extreme caution is the watchword.
The stock of German solar manufacturer SolarWorld, which has a big installation in Hillsboro, has been getting hammered this week as it showed a loss for the third quarter. The stock is trading at 2.98 Euros a share, down from its 52-week high of 11.98 Euros. It's lost three quarters of its value. Other solar manufacturers are also taking hits, as there's too much supply and not enough demand for their products.
Meanwhile, SolarWorld's comical trade complaint against China -- "They're subsidizing solar!" -- is not getting a universally warm reception, even at home. An American semiconductor association said yesterday that it's siding with the Chinese in the dispute.
We have a hard-and-fast rule always to root against the Oregon Ducks football team. Our only exception is when they play Southern Cal, because heaven knows there's nothing to like and a whole lot to dislike in USC.
In recent years, the Ducks and their fans have become so obnoxious that yesterday we found ourselves thinking that maybe this year we had reach the tipping point. Maybe this year, this very Saturday afternoon, we would root for S.C. against Oregon.
We brought this up with a friend of ours who's a Cal fan, and he reacted with horror. He looked at us as if we had lost our mind. He reminded us of the long history of atrocities committed by Southern Cal over many decades. He convinced us to stay the course -- to root for the Ducks over the Trojans.
A reader sends along an e-mail pitch she got from the head of the Portland Parks Foundation. It said in part:
I am writing to share with you the creation of the Restore our Historic Squares Fund, created to restore and reinvigorate two of our most historically and culturally significant parks: Lownsdale and Chapman Squares. Citizens from all walks of life are invited to show their concern for this historic gems by making a gift in their support.
Our historic squares are a vital public commons: improving the quality of life for Portland's citizenry for over 140 years. Parks are one of the greatest expressions of how Portland cares for its people. Very few parks are enjoyed by such a diversity of Portlanders.
The City of Portland is undergoing an assessment of the impacts of recent camping on the squares, and vital restoration work. The initial cost estimate is between $50,000 and $100,000. However, after years of steady budget cuts, there are no solutions for finding funding to make this restoration effort possible.
Fortunately, our citizens have a great history of helping parks and people in times of need. This is a critical time both to pitch in and to express your dedication to these historic commons at the center of a remarkable—yet fragile—parks system.
It's no secret that Portland has no money for park maintenance -- it's been borrowing for that purpose for a while now. You would think that a well run city park system would have $100,000 in a contingency fund for extraordinary events. Apparently not Portland, despite its recent blue ribbon. Gee, some of the $15 million or so that they blew on the Homer William Poodle Poop Park in the SoWhat District would come in handy right about now. But no. Go by streetcar!
There was no advance announcement and no all-night party. The police moved in on Monday night at 1:00 in the morning. The whole thing was done by 4:30. There were 142 arrests. One police officer and one protester were hospitalized. Compare that to the craziness that went on all Saturday night and all day Sunday in Portland, and the mayor and police chief here aren't looking too bright.
There are 20 weeks in our charity pro football underdog game, and the first 10 are now in the history books. The last three weeks are playoff weeks, when movement in our standings is limited, and so it's time for the laggards in our ranks to get moving. Now we unveil this coming weekend's 'dog prospects. And so, without further ado, as Archie Bell once said, "this is the music we tighten up with":
14.5 KANSAS CITY at New England
14.5 TAMPA BAY at Green Bay
9.5 ARIZONA at San Francisco
7.5 WASHINGTON vs. Dallas
7 CAROLINA at Detroit
7 CINCINNATI at Baltimore
6 TENNESSEE at Atlanta
4.5 DENVER at vs. New York Jets (Thursday 5:20 p.m. Pacific)
3.5 SAN DIEGO at Chicago
3 PHILADELPHIA at New York Giants
2.5 BUFFALO at Miami
2 SEATTLE at St. Louis
1.5 MINNESOTA vs. Oakland
1 CLEVELAND vs. Jacksonville
Only one home 'dog in higher ranks. Good luck, pickers!
Here's a breathtaking document that's been lying around for a year now, but we just noticed it and it's worth your doing so as well. It's a slick, 124-page book produced by Tri-Met, Portland's moribund mass transit agency, touting how Tri-Met is promoting the region's "planning" agenda.
The thing just oozes with misleading discussion and outright deceit. It's page after page of the official party line about one abusive "urban renewal" or "transit-oriented development" project after another. Apartments, apartments, apartments. Plastic and particle board where there once were real neighborhoods. What they're doing to Portland is pretty depressing. But they positively brag about it.
Now, one might complain about the expense of producing and publishing this volume, but we think it was money well spent. It shows exactly what Tri-Met thinks it's about these days. And it's obviously not about helping middle-class people in the city's existing neighborhoods get to work or school. It's all about pushing the "behavior change" that the planning cabal has in store for all of us -- apartment bunkers, streetcars, and bicycles.
It's important for residents to see how the transit agency has lost all sense of its actual mission. When the bankruptcy comes, and it is most definitely coming, there will be that much less sympathy.
Where to go to find sneaky City of Portland loan deals
We complained last Wednesday that the City of Portland had gone out and borrowed $15 million against future gas tax revenues without any mention of the bonds anywhere on its web site. The sales pitch for the IOUs, known as the preliminary official statement, never appeared on the city's site, nor was it posted on the Municipal Securities Rulemaking Board's EMMA website -- although EMMA did show last Tuesday night that the bonds were already sold as of earlier that day.
We wrote the city finance office and asked to see a copy of the sales document. They have now sent it to us, and we have posted it here. The borrowing is actually a little heftier than it appears -- the bonds were sold at a premium, which means that the city actually borrowed $16.7 million, not the $15.4 million on the cover.
We asked the city's debt office why the document hadn't been posted anywhere before the bonds were sold. Here's the response we got last Thursday afternoon:
The Preliminary Official Statement for the City's Gas Tax Revenue Bonds, 2011 Series A was published and made available to prospective investors on November 1, 2011, via the Ipreo iProspectus electronic document delivery system. The Ipreo publication system also provides bond sale information for immediate publication via Bloomberg, Thomson Reuters, The Bond Buyer and other municipal bond information distribution systems.
The Final Official Statement was published via the Ipreo system yesterday afternoon and is attached to this email per your request. The Final OS is also available on the MSRB's EMMA website at http://emma.msrb.org/default.aspx (link to the main page) or http://emma.msrb.org/IssueView/IssueDetails.aspx?id=ER345415 (link directly to the Final OS).
Kelly M. Ball
Principal Management Analyst
OMF Business Operations Division
We have taken the bait and opened an account at Ipreo, which is a private company. We signed up for something called I-Deal Prospectus, which was free. But we shouldn't have to have done that. The city's website has a page that's specifically labeled "Debt Management > Official Disclosure > Primary Market Disclosure > Current Offerings," and the documents for the gas tax bond deal were never disclosed, and still are not disclosed, there. Indeed, until we complained on Wednesday, that page had expressly stated for weeks that there were no bonds currently being offered by the city. That statement was clearly false, as the gas tax bonds were being sold the week of November 1 through 7.
If residents of Portland have to open an account at I-Deal Prospectus to find out about the city's current borrowings, then the city ought to take down its "official disclosure" pages. That's the kind of page that one either keeps current or doesn't have at all.
Here's a howler from Homer Williams, the real estate developer whose South Waterfront District in Portland is one of the most spectacular failures in the city's history, both for private investors and for taxpayers. Nowadays old Homer's selling his shinola in the pristine suburb of Lake Oswego, and his schtick hasn't changed a bit:
This month, a city-commissioned financial feasibility study performed by ECONorthwest provided news that could be good for both the streetcar and Foothills projects. With the use of a new recommended urban renewal area, the city would have tax-increment financing and system development charges totaling $56.2 million that could be spent on public infrastructure improvements, including the streetcar.
Also, the study upheld the framework plan’s estimates that development of the district would generate up to $1.6 billion of new real market value in the district, resulting in assessed value as great as $881.1 million. That new value would be the tax base to generate money for a new urban renewal area.
The Foothills development is uniquely suited for TIF and SDC funding mechanisms, Williams said, because of what exists in the area now.
"The current value of the properties down there is so low and potential for higher-value development so great, that through tax-increment financing and SDCs we could obtain, it would essentially fund itself," Williams said.
When this guy starts talking "it will pay for itself," well, you know what they say: Do not leave valuables unattended.
Super Carole and her band of outlaws at the Portland school district are about to take another run at changing the grammar school boundaries in close-in northeast Portland. Previous attempts have been so ham-handed that they've fallen of their own weight, but the bureaucrats and the school board politicians who love them are hoping that this time, they can succeed in pushing several small groups of vulnerable blocks into less desirable schools without causing a general uprising.
So what are they bringing on the politcal front? Well, now the whole enterprise is being called "enrollment balancing," and of course the sheep at the O call things whatever the bureaucrats do. The other ploy is timing -- the school bureaucrats aren't showing their cards until Friday. That's right -- the Friday before Thanksgiving. Happy holidays from Super Carole! She's knocking five figures off the value of your home.
Nowadays it seems that the only thing that saves Portland from the school board is the incompetence of the school board itself. Private school tuition gains value here every year.
The last time we left the United States was 11½ years ago. The Mrs. and we visited Spain and Portugal -- our only trip to Europe. We loved every minute. It was on a sunny afternoon in Lisbon that we stood at a phone kiosk outside some ruins (which ironically were closed for repair) and heard from a nurse in Portland the gender of our first child, then in utero. Ah, the memories. One of these days we'll have to take up a collection from blog readers to finance a return to those Iberian climes; we'll need four tickets this time.
Anyway, while we were there, naturally we used a credit card, and a few years later, we were notified that we were part of class action lawsuit by bank customers who were suing the bank for antitrust violations relating to the fees that we were charged for foreign currency translation. We were asked to, and as we dimly recall we did, submit a statement of how much we had spent overseas, and we were told that some day we might get reimbursed some of what the bank took us for in fees.
We forgot all about the class action until the other day, when we received a check for $18.04. That ain't hay, people -- we promptly took it down to the credit union and deposited it.
It feels so good to have taken the big banks for such a ride. Somewhere today there's a bank CEO who's feeling the pain of his wrongdoing. Between me and the other class action plaintiffs, he may have to start buying the $520 bottles of wine instead of the $525 bottles. Score one for the 99%!
The mayor of New York City has ordered the police to close the encampment at Zuccotti Park by the original Occupy Wall Street protesters. On a Monday night at 1:30 in the morning. No two-day advance notice, no time to organize a potluck and music festival. How cruel! They must not have a Bus Project back there -- they're that backward.
The Monday night underdog winning streak ended with a thud this evening. The Minnesota Vikings didn't beat the Green Bay Packers. And so the standings in our charity pro football prediction game stay where they were last night, only now without the asterisks. We'll crank up another week's prognostication machine tomorrow.
Following last week's exposure of 17 workers to plutonium, the federal government's Idaho National Lab -- part of the nuclear waste-nuclear weapons complex -- had a sodium fire on Friday. One employee was hospitalized with burns, and 10 others were "evaluated" at the scene. The fire, which was preceded by an explosion or at least a "flash," took place in the materials and fuel complex, about 30 miles west of Idaho Falls. As usual, authorities said there was nothing for the public to worry about.
The ACFC announcement also comes on the heels of the University’s release of a memorandum of understanding between former University President Dave Frohnmayer and former Athletic Director Pat Kilkenny. This agreement details a $375,000 annual payment by the University administration to the athletic department for the use of Autzen Stadium’s presidential suite — nearly the equivalent of President Lariviere’s $426,936 annual salary.
The agreement also fixed the athletic department’s assessment rate at three percent through 2012. Assessments are payments University departments and programs pay to the University for administrative services. The assessment rate for most organizations, including the ASUO, is over twice that at seven percent. Eckstein referenced this agreement in his comments on the benchmark.
"The Athletic Department pays for itself" -- it's a myth.
Survey says Lake O. residents don't want streetcars
While Portland was being driven to distraction by the Occupiers last week, there were several interesting news developments in the suburb to the immediate south -- Lake Oswego, where the real estate developers have captured a majority of the City Council and are poised to loot decades' worth of property taxes with which to build hideous apartment bunkers along the river.
The real fireworks came with respect to the Portland-to-Oswego streetcar plan, without which the evil condo-meister Homer Williams says his development of the so-called Oswego "foothills" can't happen. First, an engineer who has studied the streetcar plan took off the gloves in the O last week and called the proposal out for what it is:
Suresh C. Paranjpe, an Indian-born mechanical engineer who founded ColorX and holds 34 U.S. patents in printing technologies,... -- a Southwest Portland resident whose executive experience includes high-level positions at Xerox, Tektronix and Mead -- has been spending a lot of free time dissecting the Portland-Lake Oswego streetcar plan.
His conclusion: The promoters of the project, who stand to gain in various ways by the selection of streetcars over buses, "used incorrect assumptions to present exaggerated benefits of Streetcar."
As a result, Paranjpe contends, they have invalidated the findings of the draft environmental impact statement. In other words: If this thing is built, it will be done so on a foundation of lies.
It wouldn't be the first time.
But the big news is that the City Council's own survey of Lake Oswegans clearly shows that a majority of the city's residents do not want a streetcar line -- and their opinion didn't change much after the survey team used their best push-poll questions on them.
Since Williams says his condos can't be built without the streetcar, it's time for the folks down that way to show him the door. The longer they let him hang around, the greater the chance that he'll do to L.O. what he did to Portland with the utterly failed SoWhat District.
The U.S. Supreme Court usually doesn't get involved in tax matters if it can avoid them. Today, however, the justices said they will take up an interesting case on local taxation:
Armour v. Indianapolis, No. 11-161. Does the Equal Protection Clause preclude a local taxing authority from refusing to refund payments made for sewer improvements by those who have paid their assessments in full, while forgiving the obligations of identically situated taxpayers who chose to pay over a multi-year installment plan?
The Indiana Supreme Court ruled in favor of the City of Indianapolis in May. Will the nation's highest court agree, and what will it say about the constitutional status of local taxes for sewers? Worth watching.
Monday morning quarterbacking continues from this weekend's cleanout of Occupy Portland. One guy is complaining that he was hurt when the police swept through Chapman Square. Curiously, the extent of his injuries is never mentioned in the O story.
Meanwhile, the cops have released the names of, and charges against, the 51 people they arrested yesterday. By our count, the average age was just under 28 years old. Interestingly, there was no one arrested between the ages of 47 and 61. Here's the police bureau's list:
Last week we blogged about bureaucratic catch phrases that we're sick of. Creative class. Linchpin. Iconic. Catalyst. Charrette. Sustainability. We can't afford not to. The 20-minute neighborhood. Equity, and the "spirit of equity." The "built environment."
An alert reader has flashed us another one that's just now showing up on radar screens around the area. Are you ready? It's "resilience."
We're not sure exactly what "resilience" is, but we're willing to bet that (a) it will involve command-and-control "behavior change," and (b) apartment developers will make out like bandits.
Remember this monstrosity, which was supposed to go up at one of the stations of Tri-Met's insane Mystery Train to Milwaukie?
Well, now Portland's spendthrift transit agency has decided to pull the plug on the piece. But not because it was a grotesque waste of money. No, no -- it's because the artist wouldn't build it without expensive mosaic tiles.
It's really too bad, because Deer Baby was the perfect mascot for the train to nowhere. It was to art as Milwaukie MAX is to good transit policy.
A sincere salute this morning to the rank and file of the Portland police bureau, who managed to clear out the parks at Lownsdale and Chapman Squares yesterday and take around 50 people into custody without anyone suffering serious bodily harm. The police showed enormous restraint and professionalism under trying conditions. Honestly, we didn't think they had it in them.
The events of the weekend will also be seen as feathers in the caps of the mayor and his police chief, but as to them we're not as enthusiastic. They precipitated a boisterous and dangerous all-night Saturday party by the timetable they set, and the advance notice they gave brought thousands of extra people to the scene for the circus. The area was chaos for all of Saturday night and most of Sunday afternoon. Many of the police maneuvers during the overnight hours seemed pointless.
And of course, the "occupation" is not over. The protesters will be back in everyone's face quite soon, and downtown merchants worried about holiday sales are not out of the woods, by any means. Democracy is messy and expensive. We support the protesters' rights to assemble, but then again, we don't go downtown much.
Following today's performances in the NFL, the standings in our charity prognostication contest stand as follows, with the players with asterisks riding on the Minnesota Vikings against the undefeated world champs tomorrow night:
Apparently the riot-gear cops and the protesters are still struggling over the blocked intersection of Fourth and Main. At the moment, the street is open and traffic is flowing across on Main, but dozens of protesters continue to hop in and out of the street. More people are getting themselves arrested. One report says 50 people have been taken into custody -- is that total just from today?
UPDATE, 5:04 p.m.: If shoppers weren't going to go downtown because of the Occupy camp, there's no way they're going down there with the roving mobs blocking the streets. Can you imagine if one of them starts climbing the Pioneer Courthouse Square don't-call-it-Christmas tree?
The police have substantially cleared out the Occupy Portland camps, and two downtown city parks that "hosted" them have been mostly cleared of protesters. More squatters have been arrested. The streets are blocked, many dozens of police in riot gear are ringing the parks, and just as many angry folks are standing around in the streets and on the sidewalks. Normalcy, even the Portland version, seems many hours, if not days, away.
The TV news folks arrived just after the cops showed up in numbers. But funny thing, the two local stations showing pro football don't dare switch to live coverage of the cleanout.
UPDATE, 1:33 p.m.: There are reportedly still people holed up in Chapman Square, and one person is reportedly being taken away in an ambulance.
Police are starting to arrest Occupy Portland types in Chapman Square downtown. But after blowing hour after hour of overtime last night, with not much to show for it, none of the local television stations are broadcasting any news at this hour.
There are still scores of folks in the downtown squares, they were there all night, and they say they're planning to stay. The city blew hundreds of thousands of dollars last night, two police were injured, and at least one person was arrested. There was basically a huge street party, which 5,000 people attended, lasting from about 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. Was anything else accomplished?
UPDATE,10:42 a.m.: Willy Week still has people on the scene, a-Tweetin' away.
UPDATE, 10:48 a.m.: The Jeffer-Sam Smith campaign weighs in:
UPDATE, 10:59 a.m.: The police have begun clearing the park. At least one arrest has been reported so far. We'll try to update here.
The players in our charity pro football underdog game have spoken, and here are their picks for the weekend:
13.5 MINNESOTA at Green Bay - Gordon, Annie, Broadway Joe
7 OAKLAND at San Diego (Thursday, winner) - Bob, Gary, Carol, Pete Rozelle, Bad Brad, Drewbob, John Cr., Weavmo
6.5 SEATTLE vs. Baltimore - mna, Ricardo, Usual Kevin, genop's gal
5.5 BUFFALO at Dallas - Larry Legend, Rudie, Tommy W., john dull, jmh, Grizfan, genop, John Ch.
4 WASHINGTON at Miami - PDXileinOmaha, Biggest Cubs Loser
3.5 NEW YORK GIANTS at San Francisco - AKevin
3 TENNESSEE at Carolina - Paul
3 DETROIT at Chicago - Bayou Baby
3 DENVER at Kansas City - NoPoGuy, Michael K.
3 CINCINNATI vs. Pittsburgh - Money Maker
Good luck, and enjoy the games, folks.
UPDATE, 5:12 p.m.: Seattle, Tennessee, and Denver score for our players today. Nobody's got New England and the Jets tonight. Congratulations to the smart pickers!
So far we've seen one arrest and one police officer hit in the leg by a projectile and hospitalized. They brought out the horses and the cops in armor at about 2, but after a good half hour of that, the end game is nowhere in sight. The appearance of the mounted patrol and the riot gear has riled up a crowd that was starting to thin out. Why the city picked Saturday night to take action is beyond us. But unless things get a lot better than they are right now, Mike Reese's mayoral ambitions are in trouble.
The Portlandia TV show has got nothing on the reality in downtown tonight. Chuck Currie is there in his Roman collar, literally leading a singalong of "Kumbaya." The Zoobombers are on their way for a "bike swarm," which ought to be an interesting mix with mounted police. Mayor Creepy's got the whole place lit up with floodlights, because arresting people in the actual daylight apparently would not have been dramatic enough. News choppers are hovering overhead. All sorts of creative class barista types are running around with their oh-so-scary masks and bandanas on. And the anarchists actually held a meeting at the St. Francis soup kitchen to see how they could take advantage of the enormous diversion they've got going downtown. The TV news people are assuming a level of frenzy that they usually reserve for snow flurries. What next -- Storm Large?
Players in our charity pro football underdog game, don't forget to get your picks in for this weekend. They're due at 10:00 tomorrow morning. Eight players already racked up a big 7 points with Oakland on Thursday night; everybody else, be sure we know which pooch meets your fancy.
The leaf "harvesters" of the City of Portland came down our street this morning as part of the "fall cleaning for the urban forest ($30)." Since we refuse to pay for what should be done for free, late yesterday we got the gutter in front of our place so clean you could eat out of it. Now, after the sweepers came through, there's a coating of chopped up leaves and slime left behind. They used to come through on a second pass to wash that stuff away, but these days, along with charging folks for their "service," they just leave the muck to get all over everything for another month or so. Way to go, Sam Rands! This is just a small part of why your political careers are over.
We've wondered for a while now why the University of Oregon needs its own armed police force, rather than just continuing its traditional practice of security guards who rely on the city police for more serious incidents. Some have suggested that it's simple empire building by the campus safety folks. But surely it isn't, as administrators claimed, to save money.
Here's an interesting article that opens the door to a different interpretation:
The Penn State scandal has ended the reign of the university's patriarch and longtime football coach, Joe Paterno, amid national expressions of shock. But the case is also emblematic of a parallel judicial universe that exists at many of the country's colleges and universities.
On most of these campuses, law enforcement is the responsibility of sworn police officers who report to university authorities, not to the public. With full-fledged arrest powers, such campus police forces have enormous discretion in deciding whether to refer cases directly to district attorneys or to leave them to the quiet handling of in-house disciplinary proceedings....
Alison Kiss, the executive director of Security on Campus, a national watchdog organization based in Wayne, Pa., also praised campus police forces for strides made since the [Clery Act] was enacted. But when a university culture demands silence, she added, the campus police come under great pressure to follow suit. "Most want to do the right thing, but it's very difficult when you’re not supported," she said.
Ms. Kiss was not surprised by the news of Mr. Paterno's failure to take further action in the Sandusky case, she said, because she has dealt for years with complaints of sexual assault against football players at big sports schools, where the disciplinary result is often a brief suspension or probation, not expulsion.
Does the full-fledged university militia mean fewer eyes on the misdoings of the campus' notoriously unstable jocks? It's a proposition worth considering.
Tonight's news program spotlights some of the drama unfolding in downtown Portland. Reverend Chuck Currie was down there today, in his Roman collar even, picking up some free TV time for his next political campaign. Another junkie OD'ed and went out in an ambulance. And some of the city's precious bike people say they're going to interfere with the police by circling the Occupy camp tomorrow night. But hey, Sam Adams is in charge; everything's going to go smoothly.
It will be nice when the current storm blows over. There'll be more, but this one is getting old.
Blazer Dancers to perform at Occupy Portland cleanout
The Blazer Dancers announced this morning that they will perform tomorrow night at the police roundup of Occupy campers from Lownsdale and Chapman Squares in downtown Portland.
A spokesperson for the Trail Blazers said the 16-member dance and cheerleading squad will line the demonstration site on the Third and Fourth Avenue sides beginning at the city's announced eviction deadline of 12:01 a.m. Sunday, and run into the parks to showcase their routines during lulls in the arrests.
The dancers will be making their first public appearance of the season, having been sidelined by the league-wide labor dispute that includes the Blazers players and the team. The appearance is part of the Trail Blazers community service program, and it will be sponsored in part by the league's NBA Cares initiative.
"We're dying to get started in a new season," said Ashley, one of the dancers. "With all the sitting around we have been doing, some of the girls are afraid they're getting a little rusty."
Team members have been rehearsing various routines at a hotel in Tigard in preparation for Saturday night's appearance. Insiders report that one of the numbers is a tribute to fallen rap star Heavy D. "They want to do the Heavy stuff before everybody forgets who he was," a source said.
The Blazers' co-ed acrobatic stunt team is barred by league rules from performing during the lockout.
Everybody's wondering why the City of Portland's waiting until midnight Saturday night to oust Occupy Portland from the downtown parks. When they cleared Occupy out of Jamison Park in the Pearl District on a recent Saturday night, the situation seemed to have been intensified by a bunch of rowdy drunks who poured out of the bars at closing time. The actual arresting didn't start until after 1 a.m. and it took until 3:30 a.m. for the riot-equipped cops to leave the scene.
One thing that that particular timing did was minimize live coverage of the events on TV. As much as they claim a 24/7 presence, most mainstream media take the weekends off, just like everybody else. By midnight on Saturday night, the Sunday paper's long since gone to bed, and the broadcast crews are down to thin, second-string lineups.
Maybe that's the city strategy. But whatever's going through Mayor Creepy's mind and that of his eager successor wannabe police chief, they've given every nut for many miles around plenty of time to plan his or her role in the festivities. Go by streetcar!
What the heck is up with the people in Beaverton? They turn down an operating levy for the public schools, but they vote to give mega-millions to the mayor and Don Mazziotti to hand out to real estate developers? A very strange place, that Beaverton. But hey, we knew that.
[Y]ou can't live every day like it is your last -- you can't say goodbye to those you love like you'll never see them again after every cup of coffee, every dinner out, every phone conversation -- but you can be present with them each and every time you see or speak to them, and be sure you never miss an opportunity to listen to them, to love them, to be right there with them and not halfway on to the next thing.
Players in our charity pro football underdog game: Don't forget that if you want the Raiders as this week's pick, you've got only until kickoff time of their game later today -- 5:20 p.m. -- to get your selection in.
We found ourself in Lake O. yesterday, where we stopped for a late lunch with the beautiful people at the St. Honoré Bakery, in the plasticky retail bunker at State and A. We joined many perfectly coiffed ladies, decked out in the latest from Nordstrom (at least the Rack) and with all the time in the world.
We ordered a sandwich and an iced tea, which set us back $12.30. What came out to our table was a delicious, but microscopic, sandwich; an anemic salad straight out of the bagged lettuce section of the nearby Safeway, with dressing that must have been applied with an eye dropper; and a glass of a little tea and a lot of ice. For this we paid $12.30?
No wonder the ladies were so slender. We were hungry before we even got back to the car.
If you don't think the City of Portland has gone way over the top with its bicycle propaganda and programs, do tell what you think of this mailer, which the city's now sending out to every new business in town:
You can't make this kind of thing up. They've got to be smoking stuff at City Hall.
The bureaucrats and others in the planning army come up with so many empty terms that they repeat and repeat until we're nauseated by them. Creative class. Linchpin. Iconic. Catalyst. Charrette. Sustainability. We can't afford not to. The 20-minute neighborhood. Lately it's been "equity."
Here's another phrase that sticks in our craw: "the built environment." When we hear that one, we immediately turn off our hearing aid, because that term invariably identifies the speaker as an architect, developer, contractor, or other huckster pushing apartment bunkers. This "expert," making the rounds among Portland's soon-to-be-looted suburbs, is no exception.
Then there are the seasonal language atrocities. It's not raking up the leaves from street trees -- it's "fall cleaning for the urban forest." Or it's a "leaf harvest." Have mercy! If there's one thing the local government types do all day, it's try to screw with people's minds.
Portland's new "central eastside" parking meters -- where?
An ominous note in yesterday's strange article in the O about the Portland parking meter scandal. The main point of the piece seems to be, "Sure there was probably corruption, but the city got a great deal!" But then there's this:
Officials are considering new parking meters in the Central Eastside and Northwest Portland.
No decisions have been made. But with approval on the eastside, Portland could begin charging hourly $1 rates. Officials are studying between 350 to 662 parking stalls -- which would probably require between 35 and 66 new parking meters. Specifics are even less clear in Northwest Portland, although it's expected that more parking stalls would be affected and more parking meters would be needed.
So who are the lucky merchants and residents? Hawthorne? Broadway? Sam and Randy -- what a path of destruction they will leave behind. Including the political career of their good buddy, Nurse Amanda.
If you weren't convinced that the City of Portland's outmoded form of government is nuts, take a look at this. How many hours were wasted having the city permit bureau send a "violations notice" to the city parks bureau over Occupy Portland? It's basically the city threatening to fine itself. Such insanity! Only in Portlandia -- where City Hall is like a clown car.
Oregon attorney general John Kroger's health may be forcing him out of politics, but he's recovered from his slump in churning out press releases. In October, his office sent us an even dozen. State Treasurer Ted Wheeler and Labor and Industries Commissioner Brad Avakian pumped out just four each, and Secretary of State Kate Brown produced a mere two. As ever, Kroger continues to lead the pack by far for the year, with 87 so far.
According to the recent report of the city's finance office, which blasted the transportation bureau for reckless spending, the borrowed money "will primarily reimburse the Transportation Operating Fund for a series of capitally-eligible work dating back to February 2011." In other words, it's money that's already been spent. On what, we can only imagine -- but surely it was "green" and "sustainable."
That the city is sneaking around taking out eight-figure loans without publicly disclosing the deal in advance is a major red flag that things are amiss in the money department -- especially where transportation projects are concerned.
To our knowledge, the city has never before hocked future gas tax money to pay for current toy projects. It's another innovation of the lame duck Sam Rand Twins, apparently. Heaven only knows where the city will end up financially by the time the current administration leaves City Hall. But certainly it won't be a good place.
UPDATE, 10:08 a.m.: As a reader points out, apparently this innovation was first employed under Mayor Vera Katz, when Sam Adams was running her office.
There's nothing like a Molotov cocktail to spice up a protest. Was it thrown by a member of the Occupy movement? Since the group has no structure and no membership criteria, it's a meaningless question. We know for sure that it was thrown by some dimwit downtown. There are quite a few these days, and they're not all outside.
But don't worry, Portland, the chief of police is watching this closely. He's focused like a laser on it.
It's a tale of two 'burbs, and their susceptibility to being hoodwinked by the purveyors of "urban renewal" schlock. In Clackamas County, voters are on their way to assuring that future "urban renewal" shenanigans are put to a countywide vote, which is as it should be. A decoy ballot measure slapped up by the county commissioners is being outvoted.
Meanwhile, in the beautiful city of Beaverton, voters apparently are saying they're willing to mortgage their future and hand more mega-millions of future property tax revenue over to real estate developers for bad apartments. "Urban renewal" does much more harm than good, as folks out the Beaver way will some day figure out. Congratulations to the Clackistan folks, at least, for getting it right.
Unlike last weekend, which produced some substantial winning underdogs, this week's slate of pro football games features some decidedly smaller rings for players in our charity game to reach for:
13.5 MINNESOTA at Green Bay
7 OAKLAND at San Diego (pick due Thursday at 5:20 p.m. Pacific)
6.5 SEATTLE vs. Baltimore
5.5 BUFFALO at Dallas
4 WASHINGTON at Miami
3.5 NEW YORK GIANTS at San Francisco
3 DETROIT at Chicago
3 TAMPA BAY vs. Houston
3 TENNESSEE at Carolina
3 INDIANAPOLIS vs. Jacksonville
3 DENVER at Kansas City
3 CINCINNATI vs. Pittsburgh
3 ST. LOUIS at Cleveland
2 NEW ENGLAND at New York Jets
No line yet on Eagles/Cardinals. New Orleans at Atlanta is a "pick-'em," and so by rule, it's off our board. Happy hunting, players!
If not, this is close to as low as the Rose City has sunk. What a twisted sense of priorities our town has adopted. Why the so-called civil libertarians and Occupiers aren't making youth violence a big issue is beyond us.
Tri-Met sure has created a stir about that video we showed yesterday of the Interstate MAX train crashing at the end of the line at the Expo Center. First the agency denied that the video existed, and then it hassled transit employees who presented it to the public. The agency says it was necessary to keep the footage secret pending an investigation, but for three weeks? And it's not as though there's any detail revealed in the video -- it's a train crash filmed from a moderate distance. It's also a public record.
The culture at Tri-Met seems to alternate between secrecy and falsehood. That doesn't create a lot of sympathy for an agency that's woefully insolvent and faces a major shakeout over the next decade or two.
When Jeffer-Sam Smith showed up in the race for Portland mayor, we theorized that he would detract from the candidacy of Eileen Brady -- that the two would duke it out for voters who stand up and salute the "green, sustainable" line. Now, with police chief Mike Reese saying that he's thinking about running, a poll shows that Reese would siphon votes from Camas Charlie Hales.
Those four plus Max Brumm et al. would be a fun primary to watch. We still think it would come down to Hales vs. Brady in the end. The more Portlanders think about their police force and Reese's best bud Fireman Randy, the less appealing the chief is going to appear.
We start this blogging day with a salute to Lionel Eyres, the Portland park ranger who's hospitalized after reportedly dealing with a knife-wielding lowlife in Forest Park over the weekend. Eyres and the suspect fell 70 feet down an embankment during a struggle. The ranger has broken ribs and a punctured lung; the other guy, who was in the park when a man reportedly was exposing himself and threatening female hikers, is also banged up but alive.
There's a lot that could be said here about mental health problems in our community, and about the wisdom of policing isolated park trails with unarmed rangers. But let's not say it right now. Instead, let's send best wishes to Eyres for a speedy recovery. (And to his wife, Kristie, who if we are not mistaken is one of the Bug Chicks.)
Portland parks commissioner Nick Fish now says he's had enough of the antics of the campers in the downtown parks. With the police union eager to whack some hipsters, and a bunch of protesters now chaining themselves together on property owned by the security-obsessed federal government, the ticking of the clock is getting louder.
Liars' budget for Homer's Lake O. plan more than doubles
It's "urban renewal," without the "urb," and getting worse by the week. Go ahead and mortgage your future, folks -- Homer and Dike are thinking only of you and your children. And it's tax excrement financing, which means it pays for itself. What recession? Go by streetcar!
An employee got suspended for giving this to Al the blogging bus driver, who then posted it on YouTube. The Tri-Met overlords also made Al take it down, so now you have to go to the O to see it, preceded by a yogurt commercial.
Anyway, it's an Interstate MAX train failing to stop at the end of the line up at the Expo Center and crashing into a barricade last month:
If we were organizing a camp-in against the 1%, our local target would be Sen. Ron Wyden. Here's a guy who's been in Congress for 30 years -- the 30 years in which the middle class has gotten completely shafted. His net worth is something like $5.4 million. He stonewalled tax reform and bears major responsibility for extending the Bush tax cuts, which have saved him and his wife hundreds of thousands, if not millions. He opposes the estate tax. He opposes single payer health care. He opposes a public option in health care. When it comes to money issues, he's basically a Republican.
Perhaps the reason he's not being "occupied" is that his office is on the MAX line over by Lloyd Center. There are too many stray bullets flying over there for safe camping.
We wrote last week about a curious pitch for donations -- from Starbucks, of all places -- to something called the Opportunity Finance Network (and don't forget the ®). That organization presents itself as "national network of community development financial institutions (CDFIs) investing in opportunities that benefit low-income, low-wealth, and other disadvantaged communities across America." To us, it sounded like asking average Joes to donate money to banks, which is the height of absurdity.
We've been digging a little deeper, and discover that OFN is a Philadelphia-based tax-exempt membership organization of CDFIs. Its president, Mark Pinsky, is paid about $225,000 a year, plus benefits worth about $17,000. It's got five vice presidents each making about $125,000 a year. It also paid an outside financial consultant another $150,000 in the year 2010.
OFN's membership includes two organizations operating in Oregon: CASA of Oregon, based in Sherwood; and Enterprise Cascadia, based in Ilwaco, Washington (just across from Astoria). Enterprise, whose real name is Shorebank Enterprise Group Pacific, recently received $231,000 from the Starbucks seed fund. Both are section 501(c)(3) organizations, with CASA of Oregon's mission being to help farm workers and Enterprise Cascadia's being to promote "environmentally restorative" businesses, especially in coastal areas. They both make loans to help their constituencies. From their financial statements (here and here), they both seem to be lean organizations -- far more so than OFN.
From our perspective, if one wanted to chip in a few bucks to promote the making of loans to worthy small businesses, it would probably make more sense to send the donation straight to CASA of Oregon or Enterprise Cascadia, rather than funnel it through Starbucks and OFN. Although the latter may be a nonprofit organization, it has lots of overhead that the local outfits don't. Eliminate the middle man, buy locally -- pick your cliché.
It's hard to believe, but Herman Cain apparently did not know that China has nuclear weapons. Another example of the brilliance of the American CEO class. They're worth the millions they're paid -- honest.
Here's a half hour of your life that you'll never get back. What a pile of glib.
UPDATE, 11/7, 8:46 a.m.: We just noticed that the same guy interviewed Camas Charlie Hales a couple of weeks back. His cable access show, which apparently has run 44 episodes over the last couple of years, is here.
We had a feeling some underdogs would come through today for players in our charity pro football prognostication game. And we were right -- five 'dogs prevailed, and 11 of our players scored as a result. Here are the revised standings, with seven players (those with asterisks) going for 8 points on Da Bearss tomorrow night:
The players in our charity football game have selected their underdogs for the weekend:
11.5 SEATTLE at Dallas - NoPoGuy, Ricardo, Bayou Baby
11 CLEVELAND at Houston - Bob, Biggest Cubs Loser
8.5 NEW YORK GIANTS at New England - Weavmo, Rudie, Grizfan, Gary, Drewbob
8 TAMPA BAY at New Orleans - Gordon, genop's gal, Bad Brad
8 DENVER at Oakland - Michael K., John Cr., Annie, mna
8 CHICAGO at Philadelphia- PDXileinOmaha, Larry Legend, AKevin, Usual Kevin, john dull, Paul, John Ch.
7 INDIANAPOLIS vs. Atlanta - Broadway Joe, umpire
5.5 SAN DIEGO vs. Green Bay - Pete Rozelle, Carol, genop, Money Maker
3.5 WASHINGTON vs. San Francisco - Eric W.
3 CINCINNATI at Tennessee - Tommy W., jmh
Nobody wanted Miami, Baltimore, St. Louis, or the Jets.
Should be an interesting day on the gridiron. Enjoy the games, everybody.
It's really too bad about the latter incident. There's a nasty, violent group of lefties in town that competes with the police bureau to see who can be more obnoxious. What a waste of everyone's time and money.
On John Lennon's first solo album, there's a track entitled "Remember." This album was produced during Lennon's gestalt therapy period, and mostly it seems to be about purging his psyche of a lot of baggage from his childhood that he couldn't process during his reign as a Beatle™. At the end of the song, he forcefully reminds readers to "remember -- the fifth! of November!" And at that point there's a big explosion.
If we ever knew to what he was referring, we'd forgotten it until earlier this evening, when this story about Occupy Portland explained the historical significance of this day. Now we've got it.
Just one disagreement with some of you: We're not letting our gas dryer take the blame for the trashing of elastics. We've had the same dryer for more than a decade, but with the acquisition of a new washer three years ago, the rate of deterioration of elastic waistbands and such has hastened considerably.
The O has a political analysis today of the ongoing revolt in Clackamas County. Alas, they sent a young writer to do the story -- experienced hands are practically nonexistent at that paper any more -- and it doesn't take her too long to devolve down to nattering about Glenn Beck and the Tea Party.
She's got it wrong. You don't have to be a tighty righty wingnut to want to fight back against "urban renewal" and the other scams being foisted on suburban taxpayers these days. It's about fiscal responsibility, and resistance to the massive social engineering and behavior modification experiment currently being conducted by the Vera Katz-Earl Blumenauer-Portland State planning cabal and the West Hills overlords who profit from it. Even those of us who don't subscribe to right-wing hate radio fully support the opposition to the planner agenda.
We've had quite a feast of football already this weekend, but players in our charity prognostication contest, don't forget the Big Daddies in the pro ranks, who play for us tomorrow. The intriguing slate of games promises to shake up our standings. Picks are due by 10 a.m. Standard Time tomorrow.
An old girlfriend of mine used to say stuff like "That's a great deal even if you never did wear it." Her pearls of wisdom came to mind as we pondered a consumer dilemma the other day. We were thinking about picking up a few pair of boxer shorts, and the kind we've been wearing lately were on sale, buy-one-get-one-free. But they came in five-packs, and that meant we'd be buying 10 pair all at once. The sticker on the bag said something like 32 bucks.
We're not in desperate need of any at this point -- we just wanted a couple to add to the rotation. And so 10 seemed like too many to buy at the same time. Then again, we'll most likely wear them eventually, as our handy-dandy "efficient" washing machine slowly wrecks the elastic in everything that goes into it. Should we have bought two five-packs for the price of one? There may still be time to do it; we think the sale ends today.
Why Portland's so desperate to stick parking meters everywhere
When Portland's unique mayor comes around to tell businesses why he's going to ram parking meters down their throats, it's always because he's helping them. Meters prevent people from taking up a space all day, and that encourages more motorists to come shop there, because they know they'll find a space.
Even if that prediction about shopper behavior were true -- and one can certainly debate it -- it's hard to believe that that's the city's motive. Look at what the city's money people are telling the transportation bureau in that new report that Beth Slovic of the Oshowed us yesterday:
Discretionary Revenues. Parking garage and on street parking revenues represent approximately 30% of the bureau’s pure discretionary revenue stream. Although a primary goal of Parking Operations is encouraging parking turnover downtown rather than revenue generation, the program also represents an increasingly important revenue source. It is important for PBOT to focus strategically on increasing this revenue base as Highway Trust Fund resources are dwindling. The bureau currently does not have a published performance measure to track the link between existing marketing strategies and related parking revenues. PBOT is encouraged to develop formal systems in order to implement the most effective methods for increasing the customer base and strengthen these revenue streams.
It's all about your money, folks -- a dollar here, a five-spot there. Go by streetcar!
The Mrs. was buying coffee at Starbucks the other day, and she spied a stack of these over by the half and half:
It opens up into a noisy 12-by-24 inch display of warm and fuzzy catch phrases and graphics, but when you pick through it all, it appears to be a pitch to ask you to go here and give money to some banks. As in, literally donate money to a group of unnamed "community lending institutions." Then they'll make loans, and then there'll be jobs.
A nonprofit enterprise? Apparently not. The name of the lender group has one of those wicked ®'s next to it. An ® is usually a pretty good indicator that there's $ being made.
It is a truly sad statement that the way we're supposed to save our country is to have the average people buying their coffee give money to bankers. Maybe we're missing something, but this seems like one more reason to stay out of Starbucks. It's gotten too weird, and we don't mean Portland weird.
UPDATE, 11/7, 8:43 a.m.: A followup is posted here.
There's no other way to interpret this. The folks who despise what Tri-Met has done to itself -- and to the Portland area generally -- have got to be apoplectic about the news. But that's who ultimately runs mass transit in the city: the governor. And for many decades, that's meant the Goldschmidt party. Too bad.
Speaking of Tri-Met, does anybody know what the heck this is all about?
The announcement that Portland police chief Mike Reese may run for mayor has tongues wagging. Given the checkered track record of the police bureau under Reese and his political patrons, the Sam Rand Twins, is he kidding? Federal recognized brutality, off-duty drunkenness and crime, bankrupting pension liabilities -- and now he wants to run the whole city government?
It isn't going to happen. Reese may run, but he can't win. And now every move he makes in running his department will be filtered through the lens of his suddenly emerged ambitions for elective office. Yesterday he e-mailed out to various residents a questionnaire about strategic planning for the police for the next five years. In his cover message, he said:
When I first became Chief of Police I committed to four strategic initiatives that I believe will create better relationships within our bureau and the communities we serve. These are:
Building community trust – the Bureau has implemented steps to build healthy productive relationships with all Portland communities, particularly with those communities that are underserved.
Positive work environment – the Bureau is striving for a work environment that is positive and supports all our members, sworn and non-sworn by setting clear expectations, recognizing the exceptional work of our employees, holding employees accountable and creating career opportunities for them.
Maintain a safe city – Portland is one of the safest cities in our nation and crime is at a historic low. However, the Bureau, as a lean organization, needs to be agile in responding to emerging trends.
Being good fiscal stewards of public dollars – during tough economic times, all city bureaus must manage their dollars appropriately. With that in mind, the Bureau created a realistic financial snapshot of this organization while reviewing the bureau’s benchmarks and performance results relative to expenditures.
It's hard not to see this mailing as mayoral campaign literature.
Reese says that important people are asking him to run. Who would that be? Our guess is that it's the people who engineered, and have since enjoyed, the Adams administration -- the people who stood in the foyer of City Hall to support the Creepy One after it was revealed that he had stolen the election. John Russell, Bill Scott -- that sort. They want somebody in the mayor's office who will keep the flow of the average guy's money going up to the West Hills. Charlie Hales would be ideal for them, but now it looks as though he can't win. Eileen Brady has a mind (and well heeled patrons) of her own, and Jeffer-Sam Smith is way too loose a cannon to be trusted with real money.
And so the Portland Money types need another candidate to do their bidding. This week, they're thinking that maybe it's Mike Reese.
The City of Portland is crowing about the national award that its park system won this week, but in the outer northeast part of town, the neighbors are apparently in quite an uproar about what the bureaucrats and their crews are doing to set up a "hybrid" park and natural area. Apparently the first thing they do to get "natural" is cut down the trees.
Last night, we published an e-mail message that a reader had forwarded us, supposedly from Multnomah County DA candidate Kellie Johnson, saying she was dropping out of the race. It's a full day later, and there has been nothing but crickets from the local mainstream media. Was the message fake? Has it been retracted? Has Johnson decided to emulate Portland Police Chief Mike Reese -- one minute he's running for office, then he isn't, then he might be?
Maybe this blog has become such a news source of record that our reporting something here means that no one need confirm it. We doubt that anybody thinks that, and if they did, they'd be mistaken.
The least you could do is move your money. We did it long before anybody "occupied" anything -- farookin' Jamie Dimon is not getting our business, for anything, ever. It takes several steps over several weeks, but once you're out of the big bank, you'll never look back. They're not set up for consumers any more, if they ever were.
That is not to overstate the good attributes of credit unions. There are overpaid credit union CEOs, just as there are overpaid bank CEOs. And credit unions don't offer nearly the great deals that they used to a decade or two ago. But it's just nice knowing that your money isn't going for this.
Get away from bad people. You'll feel better about things.
It appears that the State of Washington is about to be put out of the liquor sale business by public vote. The biggest pusher of the change is Costco, and this time it appears that that company has the votes to wrest control of selling hooch away from the government. There will be other private liquor dealers as well, of course, but good luck to any little guys competing with mega-players like Costco, which will become the place to go for half-gallon tanks of the hard stuff.
Since prices up that way will be way cheaper than what we pay here at Portland liquor stores, run by the state, we can see ourselves driving over the Columbia from time to time for a booze run to Costco. And that's deliciously ironic, in that driving in the other direction will be the legion of 'Couverites who already shop at the Portland airport Costco to cheat on the Washington sales (and use) tax on life's many other necessities.
Living on a state border sure is interesting sometimes. Just ask Charlie Hales, Washington taxpayer/Oregon voter.
All those bike and streetcar projects are apparently putting a mighty strain on the City of Portland's finances. Here's news of a new internal city report that questions the financial stewardship of the transportation bureau. What with the federal investigation of suspected corruption in the parking meter operation, it's a really ugly picture over there.
The commissioner in charge since 2005? Sam Adams. The current bureau director, Tom Miller, is Adams's former "chief of staff"; he took over earlier this year from Sue Keil, who ran the bureau under Adams for nearly six years. Apparently the three of them have run it straight into the ground.
UPDATE, 9:19 a.m.: An alert reader points out that the arrestee last night apparently has a track record. Here's a story worth considering. Says the reader: "Quite a stellar crew they're attracting down there!"
There's a fascinating piece in today's Trib about code enforcement by the City of Portland. The city says it acts only on complaints, but then it admits that many complaints go unheeded. This leads to the perception that politics plays a role in code enforcement in town.
Gee, d'ya think? Get on the wrong side of Admiral Randy, and you'll have your head handed to you. This is the city with a roving "Hit Squad" of inspectors, who pounce when the boss commands it. "Know who your friends are," indeed.
Buried at the bottom of the piece is the news that Hoyt Street Properties, the Pearl District real estate firm founded by Homer Williams, is running an illegal parking lot in that district. The city's only action has been to fine the company, and the fine is far less than the profit that can be made renting out parking spaces. And so the violations continue. It's been going on for three years. "It fell between the cracks." Uh huh.
But get this: The city says that they'll force Hoyt Street to shut down the lot if enough people complain. Here's a complaint form. Maybe it can be called a "zoning violation." The address of the offending property is the block bounded by NW 10th, 11th, Northrup and Overton. Or perhaps one should call in one's complaint to Mike Liefeld, the city enforcement chief. His phone number is (503) 823-7332.
Kellie Johnson reportedly drops out of Multnomah DA race
So says a copy of an e-mail that we've received, from her to her supporters:
After much consideration, I have decided to withdraw my candidacy for Multnomah County District Attorney.
I was compelled to run for this office because of my commitment to public safety and my desire to create a safer place for my daughter and her generation. Indeed, it is with my family in mind that I end this campaign.
I hope my candidacy brought to light some of the difficult conversations we need to engage in as a community. I am proud of the discussion that is currently taking place around improving public safety, and I leave this race with full hope and expectation that those conversations will continue.
Over the past many months, I have been humbled by my supporters’ generosity and passion. Campaigns will come and go, but my dedication to public service is enduring. I have devoted my entire personal and professional life to serving my community, and I will continue to do so.
I will always be grateful to the citizens of Multnomah County, Oregon Women Lawyers, members of the Oregon State Bar, family and friends for the support they have shown me.
Get your tin foil helmet on and tell us what really happened.
No county, city, town or other municipal corporation, by vote of its citizens, or otherwise, shall become a stockholder in any joint company, corporation or association, whatever, or raise money for, or loan its credit to, or in aid of, any such company, corporation or association.
Just ignore that. The Sam Rands (and apparently, their counterparts in Hillsboro City Hall) can spend your money any way that makes them look good to their friends.
Anyway, this sort of disregard for the state constitution is not peculiar to Oregon, as this story illustrates. There aren't enough courtrooms in the country to keep up with all its scofflaw politicians.
A 0.03% sales tax on transactions in the financial markets -- a revenue source that's long overdue for tapping. But don't expect guys like Ron Wyden (R-N.Y.) to support it. Too many job creators to answer to.
Our friend Bill McDonald has some fun interviewing former Portland city commissioner (and current mayoral candidate) Charlie Hales, here. It's not only funny at times, but revealing and thought-provoking as well. (The best part: McDonald does most of the talking.)
When neighbors over our way started giving the cell phone weasels at Clear an earful about siting cell antenna installations in the heart of residential neighborhoods, the phone folks got the message and backed off. Apparently the boys and girls at T-Mobile aren't going to be so nice about it. On top of their hideous Prescott Street location, now they're going to stick an antenna array on SE Ogden Street in Eastmoreland.
There are lots of cell phone options. When making a choice, consumers can always take into account which companies pay attention to their concerns and which don't.
So says that poll she commissioned. As for her opponent's crushing lead in fundraising? "Money doesn't buy elections in Portland," Fritz said. Boy, that wasn't what she said when she was pushing taxpayer campaign financing on us. Back then, she said: "If I weren't a Voter Owned Elections (VOE) candidate, I wouldn't have raised anything like $150,000 and wouldn't have a very real chance of winning against an affluent incumbent."
The operators of the triple-meltdown site at Fukushima keep talking about achieving a "cold shutdown" of the three blown-out nuclear reactors there -- getting them down below boiling water temperatures. But there are new reports indicating that far from being "shut down," one or more of the reactors is still undergoing nuclear fission:
The company, known as Tepco, began spraying boric acid on the No. 2 reactor at 2:48 a.m. Japan time to prevent accidental chain reactions. Tepco said it may have found xenon, which is associated with nuclear fission, while examining gases taken from the reactor, according to an e-mailed statement today.
"Given the signs, it’s certain that fission is occurring," Junichi Matsumoto, a general manager at Tepco who regularly talks to the media, told reporters in Tokyo today. There’s been no large-scale or sustained criticality and no increase in radiation, he said.
To those who have been following the tragic accident since last March, this is no surprise. Lately they've been turning up radioactive iodine in tests of rice grown near the plant. Radioactive iodine has a half-life of only eight days, and so there must still be "criticality" somewhere in the Fukushima complex.
Coupled with new revelations of much higher radiation releases from the original March explosions and massive leaks of radioactive water to the ocean, the news from that quarter is as depressing as it has been in many months.
Wednesday morning... time to see what's what in this week's Willamette Week... rumor has it they're reporting that Portland police chief Mike Reese, hand-picked by Fireman Randy, is running for mayor...
A couple of our browsers are warding us off! They say there's malware there. Same thing that happened on September 8, when the site was hacked.
Here's the link to the Reese story, but go there at your own risk.
UPDATE, 9:06 a.m.: KATU follows up on the Reese rumor, here.
UPDATE, 2:12 p.m.: Browsers have now unblocked WW once again.
Here are the lines for this week's Big Daddies of the NFL:
11.5 SEATTLE at Dallas
11 CLEVELAND at Houston
8.5 NEW YORK GIANTS at New England
8 TAMPA BAY at New Orleans
8 DENVER at Oakland
8 CHICAGO at Philadelphia
7 INDIANAPOLIS vs. Atlanta
5.5 SAN DIEGO vs. Green Bay
4.5 MIAMI at Kansas City
3.5 WASHINGTON vs. San Francisco
3 CINCINNATI at Tennessee
3 BALTIMORE at Pittsburgh
1.5 NEW YORK JETS at Buffalo
Only St.Louis/Arizona remains to be set. Two home 'dogs, lots of substantial point amounts to be earned. Players in our charity 'dognostication game, have at it. Your picks are due by 10 a.m. Pacific Standard Time Sunday.
Former Portland parking meter guru Ellis McCoy's immediate supervisor, Lavinia Gordon, is retiring from city government. While federal investigators presumably continue their look into notoriously shady dealings involving the city's parking meter contracts, all of the bureaucrats directly involved in the deals -- McCoy, Gordon, and former city transportation chief Sue Keil -- have conveniently left the building. The operations manager of the bureau, Ron Geason, also abruptly hit the bricks a couple of weeks ago.
Will the feds do anything with the evidence they've collected? Given how long the case has been festering, and the recent turnover in the U.S. attorney's job, we're less than optimistic.
Day of reckoning nears for Portland water, sewer mission creep
We've been complaining for nearly two years now about the City of Portland's spending water and sewer revenue on projects that have nothing to do with delivery of either water or sewer service. And for almost as long, attorney John DiLorenzo has been suggesting that he might sue the city on behalf of unidentified clients over those expenditures, which he believes violate the city charter.
Now DiLorenzo has sent the city a set of letters, demanding that the inappropriate expenditures be halted and an accounting made of past transgressions. The letters set a deadline of two weeks from today, and threaten a lawsuit. Copies of the documents are here. Among the complaints are these:
We believe the following non-mission specific expenditures have been made by the Portland Water Bureau. Please note that this is not an exclusive list. We are identifying others as we further our investigation:
1. Public financing of political campaigns.
2. Portland Loo Projects and maintenance.
3. Purchase of and renovation of Rose Festival building referenced at pages 2, 10 and 11 of the Auditor's Report including the Mount Tabor maintenance yard land exchange for the Rose Festival Building referenced at page 10 of the Auditor's Report.
4. Hiring of additional staff including former Bureau of Development Services employees to perform work unrelated to the water system (e.g. Rose Festival building renovations, Dodge Park renovations, etc.), referenced at page 2 of the Auditor's Report.
5. Dodge Park master plan and park projects.
6. Construction, staffing and operation of the "Water House," referenced at pages 2, 10 and 12 of the Auditor's report.
7. Development and maintenance for hydro parks.
8. Powell Butte II project non-water related park amenities (new caretaker residence, amphitheater, etc.).
9. Greenstreets and other transfer payments to BES and other agencies.
10. Park Bureau decorative fountain modifications and maintenance referenced at page 9 of the Auditor's Report.
11. Costs associated with Rose Festival ships.
12. Utility relocation costs (normally paid for by project sponsors) for Street Car and light rail projects in excess of $12 million.
The Bureau of Environmental Services has similarly expended funds from sewer fees which bear no nexus to the establishment and maintenance of the Portland sewer system. These include:
1. Public financing of political campaigns.
2. Park arborists and invasive species control expenses referenced at page 8 of the Auditor's Report.
3. Greenspace land acquisitions under the pretext of stormwater management.
4. Centennial Mils acquisition led by Portland Development Commission.
5. River planing activities identified at page 10 of City Auditor's report of March 30, 2011.
DiLorenzo is representing a new nonprofit corporation calling itself WATR -- Citizens for Water Accountability, Trust and Reform, Inc. Its articles of incorporation are here. Its initial directors are Floy Jones, long a thorn in the water bureau's side on Mount Tabor; Kent Craford of the Portland Water Users Coalition; and Fred Leonetti, who apparently lives in the KOIN Tower.
We hope that they go through with their threat to sue, and that they prevail. The outlandish mission creep at Portland water and sewer has got to stop, as in yesterday. Residents are being nickeled and dimed straight out of their homes. These legal actions will likely drag on past the end of the terms of the Sam Rand Twins, but perhaps they will keep the two of them busy enough to stop them from further destroying the city that they have not been smart enough or humble enough to govern wisely.
In an odd turn for the Occupy story, the head of Portland's wayward police union makes the same point we did the other day -- that there's little or no principled distinction between camping in Lownsdale Square and camping in Jamison Square.
Louis Jadot, Pouilly-Fuissé 2011
Trader Joe's, Grower's Reserve Pinot Noir 2012
Zenato, Lugana San Benedetto 2012
Vintjs, Cabernet 2010
14 Hands, Hot to Trot White 2012
Rainstorm, Oregon Pinot Gris 2012
Silver Palm, North Coast Cabernet 2011
Andrew Rich, Gewurtztraminer 2008
Rodney Strong, Charlotte's Home Sauvignon Blanc 2012
Canoe Ridge, Pinot Gris, Expedition 2012
Edmunds St. John, Bone-Jolly Gamay Noir Rose 2012
Dark Horse, Big Red Blend No. 01A
Elk Cove, Pinot Noir Rose 2012
Fletcher, Shiraz 2010
Picollo, Gavi 2011
Domaine Eugene Carrel, Jongieux 2012
Eyrie, Pinot Blanc 2010
Atticus, Pinot Noir 2010
Walter Scott, Pinot Noir, Holstein 2011
Shingleback, Cabernet, Davey Estate 2010
Coppola, Sofia Rose 2012
Joel Gott, 851 Cabernet 2010
Pol Roget Reserve Sparkling Wine
Mount Eden Chardonnay, Santa Cruz Mountains 2009
Rombauer Chardonnay, Napa Valley 2011
Beringer, Chardonnay, Napa Reserve 2011
Kim Crawford, Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Schloss Vollrads, Spaetlese Rheingau 2010
Belle Glos, Pinot Noir, Clark & Telephone 2010
WillaKenzie, Pinot Noir, Estate Cuvee 2010
Blackbird Vineyards, Arise, Red 2010
Chauteau de Beaucastel, Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2005
Northstar, Merlot 2008
Feather, Cabernet 2007
Silver Oak, Cabernet, Alexander Valley 2002
Silver Oak, Cabernet, Napa Valley 2002
Trader Joe's, Chardonnay, Grower's Reserve 2012
Silver Palm, Cabernet, North Coast 2010
Shingleback, Cabernet, Davey Estate 2010
E. Guigal, Cotes du Rhone 2009
Santa Margherita, Pinot Grigio 2011
Alamos, Cabernet 2011
Cousino Macul, Cabernet, Anitguas Reservas 2009
Dreaming Tree Cabernet 2010
1967, Toscana 2009
Charamba, Douro 2008
Horse Heaven Hills, Cabernet 2010
Lorelle, Horse Heaven Hills Pinot Grigio 2011
Avignonesi, Montepulciano 2004
Lorelle, Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2011
Villa Antinori, Toscana 2007
Mercedes Eguren, Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Lorelle, Columbia Valley Cabernet 2011
Purple Moon, Merlot 2011
Purple Moon, Chardonnnay 2011
Horse Heaven Hills, Cabernet 2010
Lorelle, Horse Heaven Hills Pinot Grigio 2011
Avignonesi, Montepulciano 2004
Lorelle, Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2011
Villa Antinori, Toscana 2007
Mercedes Eguren, Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Lorelle, Columbia Valley Cabernet 2011
Purple Moon, Merlot 2011
Purple Moon, Chardonnnay 2011
Abacela, Vintner's Blend No. 12
Opula Red Blend 2010
Liberte, Pinot Noir 2010
Chateau Ste. Michelle, Indian Wells Red Blend 2010
Woodbridge, Chardonnay 2011
King Estate, Pinot Noir 2011
Famille Perrin, Cotes du Rhone Villages 2010
Columbia Crest, Les Chevaux Red 2010
14 Hands, Hot to Trot White Blend
Familia Bianchi, Malbec 2009
Terrapin Cellars, Pinot Gris 2011
Columbia Crest, Walter Clore Private Reserve 2009
Campo Viejo, Rioja, Termpranillo 2010
Ravenswood, Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Quinta das Amoras, Vinho Tinto 2010
Waterbrook, Reserve Merlot 2009
Lorelle, Horse Heaven Hills, Pinot Grigio 2011
Chateau Lajarre, Bordeaux 2009
La Vielle Ferme, Rose 2011
Benvolio, Pinot Grigio 2011
Nobilo Icon, Pinot Noir 2009
Lello, Douro Tinto 2009
Quinson Fils, Cotes de Provence Rose 2011
Anindor, Pinot Gris 2010
Buenas Ondas, Syrah Rose 2010
Les Fiefs d'Anglars, Malbec 2009
14 Hands, Pinot Gris 2011
Condes de Albarei, Albariño 2011
Columbia Crest, Walter Clore Private Reserve 2007
Penelope Sanchez, Garnacha Syrah 2010
Canoe Ridge, Merlot 2007
Atalaya do Mar, Godello 2010
Vega Montan, Mencia
Benvolio, Pinot Grigio
Nobilo Icon, Pinot Noir, Marlborough 2009
The Occasional Book
Joseph Conrad - Heart of Darkness
Bill Bryson - A Short History of Nearly Everything
Cheryl Strayed - Tiny Beautiful Things
Sara Varon - Bake Sale
Stephen King - 11/22/63
Paul Goldstein - Errors and Omissions
Mark Twain - A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
Steve Martin - Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life
Beverly Cleary - A Girl from Yamhill, a Memoir
Kent Haruf - Plainsong
Hope Larson - A Wrinkle in Time, the Graphic Novel
Rudyard Kipling - Kim
Peter Ames Carlin - Bruce
Fran Cannon Slayton - When the Whistle Blows
Neil Young - Waging Heavy Peace
Mark Bego - Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul (2012 ed.)
Jenny Lawson - Let's Pretend This Never Happened
J.D. Salinger - Franny and Zooey
Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol
Timothy Egan - The Big Burn
Deborah Eisenberg - Transactions in a Foreign Currency
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. - Slaughterhouse Five
Kathryn Lance - Pandora's Genes
Cheryl Strayed - Wild
Fyodor Dostoyevsky - The Brothers Karamazov
Jack London - The House of Pride, and Other Tales of Hawaii
Jack Walker - The Extraordinary Rendition of Vincent Dellamaria
Colum McCann - Let the Great World Spin
Niccolò Machiavelli - The Prince
Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird
Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus - The Nanny Diaries
Brian Selznick - The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Sharon Creech - Walk Two Moons
Keith Richards - Life
F. Sionil Jose - Dusk
Natalie Babbitt - Tuck Everlasting
Justin Halpern - S#*t My Dad Says
Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
Barry Glassner - The Gospel of Food
Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
Jesse Katz - The Opposite Field
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice
Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Mitch Albom - Have a Little Faith
C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt
Miles run year to date: 229
At this date last year: 118
Total run 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