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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on May 8, 2012 7:48 AM. The previous post in this blog was We'll eat you up -- we love you so. The next post in this blog is Civic duty. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.



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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Does Metro now have three "reporters" on staff?

The amount of money that Oregon governments blow on public relations flacks is astounding. The Portland area's zany Metro government is a prime offender on this score. Not only do they have one of the highest paid p.r. dudes in the state on staff -- Erik Sten's old buddy, Jim Middaugh -- but they also have an in-house "reporter," Nick Christensen, who publishes articles on the Metro website. Christensen's writings are supposedly his unbiased views -- we're supposed to believe that if he disagreed in a big way with management, he could call them out on it all he wanted and they'd still pay him. Uh huh.

Well, now there are at least two more Metro staffers writing "articles" that purported to be of the same "independent" sort. Here's one by somebody named Michael Burnham, and here's another, by one Peggy Morell.

How many "reporters" do we taxpayers really need at Metro?

The piece signed by Morell is actually quite funny, because although she's supposedly writing as an unbiased journalist, she delivers a tired Metro party line, about the wonders of handouts to real estate developers, with enormous gusto. You couldn't get a puffier puff piece if you deliberately paid somebody to write one:

Communities in the Portland metropolitan region are seeing streetscapes and skylines change with multifamily, mixed-use developments located near transit that not only provide needed rental housing, but create jobs and generate economic activity.

Two transit-oriented projects at different stages of development tell a story repeated throughout the region and the nation: the smart money – in both public and private dollars – is on development projects that push economic recovery.

Gimme a break. And what's worse is that Middaugh kicks the whole thing off with this silliness:

Stories with a byline do not necessarily represent the opinions of Metro or the Metro Council. Metro news is committed to transparency, fairness and accuracy.

Really? Morell's post is so pleasing to the people who pay her salary that Metro councilor Rex "Psychedelia" Burkholder couldn't contain himself -- he had to run right out and Tweet it:

The whole scene is utterly absurd.

Given the attention that's been paid to the excesses of government public relations spending in our area lately, it's important to note the number of candidates in the current elections who are vowing to do something to curb them. That number is zero.

Comments (22)

Stories with a byline do not necessarily represent the opinions of Metro or the Metro Council.

That's a major CYA. I'd like to see how well that theory holds up in court or LUBA.

"..the smart money – in both public and private dollars – is on development projects that push economic recovery."

BS writing checklist:

> Always mention the public/private mantra without any notion of what the Hell that really means (pubic pays, privates profit).

> Use catchy but meaningless terms like, "smart money".

> Always mention "economic recovery" even if you have no idea if that is really happening - and in this example, definitely NOT.

Had I known Twitter was coming, I could have predicted years ago that Crusader Rex would embrace it.

What about "Streetscapes"? Ouch.

You know the Portland School Foundation has an event called Hacks versus Flacks and it's starting to sound like they're merging. Maybe someday it'll just be one person at the podium yelling.

Think of all the things that have merged in Portland. Private businesses with government. Cars using the new Burnside/Couch Couplet with buildings.

Meanwhile, I had a line on USA Today's website this weekend. I write for around 100 radio stations 5 days a week. But can I get a writing gig in Portland, Oregon? And by gig, I don't mean an occasional freelance or pro bono effort.

Of course not. Why? Because Portland, Oregon is crawling with sell-outs who use terms like streetscapes. The system is set up to funnel money to hacks and you know what?

I'm fine with it. I had a moment of clarity this morning, and I can see the next big project. I'd rather be a struggling artist than a corporate/public lackey any day.

I'm not saying I haven't tried to sell out, but fortunately for me, they weren't buying.

Some people are born hacks, others achieve hackness, while others have hackness thrust upon them.

It's not just Metro. The Multnomah County Library just released their proposed budget for the coming year. Libraries will be closed one day a week, programs will be cut, fewer books will be bought, but the Marketing and Communication budget will increase from the previous year.

"[Burkholder] had to run right out and Tweet it" ... more likely, his personal Metro- paid Tweeter/blogger/hack posted this for him. Great work if you can get one of these essential government service jobs.

The people who pay attention don't have enough votes to change things. I wish they did.

Meanwhile, those rubes down in Tennessee just wasted a bunch of land on a new state of the art Volkswagen plant. Too bad. Don't they know that "multifamily, transit-oriented developments create jobs, boost economy?" They could have had a mixed use retail / multifamily unit with a New Seasons and some subsidized artist lofts instead of a manufacturing plant. Dopes.

It is a microcosm of the weird concept of economic development in City Hall and Metro. To them, our supposed "livability" and planning religion somehow ARE the economy.

We don't need actual industries or jobs because we sell bikes and coffee and housing units to each other. What will the people in those units do for a living? Why sell bikes and planning to the next wave of immigrants. What will those immigrants do? Why sell bikes and planning....

A lady in Portland's Department of Transportation sent a defense of their propaganda in response to a query. She claims that
Portland residents have made it a priority to create livable and safe streets. There are important and critical safety issues that having a multimodal transportation system address. Part of that means getting information, tools, ideas and strategies into the hands of residents and employees that want to lead a more active and healthy life - through bicycling, walk, taking transit and driving less.
Portland Smart Trips accounts for an annual decrease in driving trips by 9%....

Really? Their glossy pamphlets result in a 9% decrease every year?

According to The Zero, after six decades of seemingly inexorable increases, traffic peaked nationally in 2004. The total vehicle miles has been flat or down each year since. In 2011, the average American drove 6 percent fewer miles than in 2004.

Unsurprisingly, it appears that Portland bureaucrats are simply trying to take credit for trends that have been apparent nationwide for years. How else would they shore up their "green, progressive" credentials and justify their cushy "jobs"?

Metro government is a Goldschmidt like device concocted to force population back towards the city of Portland from the Portland suburbs. Recall the 60s and 70s when baby boomer parents relocated their families in droves to the Portland suburbs. The city of Portland was in serious decline at this point. So, Metro is created in and around this aftermath, and its unspoken purpose is too artificially push business and people back towards the city of Portland. (All main roads, bus routes, and tracks must go through the city Portland, rather than around it as in more productive regions of the U.S.)

Metro accomplishes this goal, proping up the city of Portland, not by productive effort but rather restricting family oriented development in the suburbs. To offset this stigma (based in reality, no less) of being dead weight overall for the local and state economies, it must propagandize; and hence, the need for an elevated number of public relations folks.

Snards:...What will the people in those units do for a living?...

It is a bike and planner's world in pdx now.
What happens when the redo is done and everyone has a bike?
...and new ones will be reluctant to come in?

...or is the plan to have the new ones coming in work for "future manufacturing" brought in by China, cheap labor assisted by all the "subsidized workforce" living units?...going to work on subsidized light rail and bikes?
Amerika gone global with Portland in the lead?

This is what they mean by "in-bedded" journalism.

So, Metro is created in and around this aftermath, and its unspoken purpose is too artificially push business and people back towards the city of Portland. (All main roads, bus routes, and tracks must go through the city Portland, rather than around it as in more productive regions of the U.S.)

And TriMet's most successful route (in terms of cost per boarding ride and service frequency) is the 72 Killingsworth/82nd Avenue route - a "cross-town route" that doesn't go downtown.

Go figure...

"The whole scene is utterly absurd."

PR Employee #4 will be Winston Smith (cf. 1984)

That's all govt is these days is work on what interests them and then convince us its for our own good. Which should give you a pretty good indicator of what they think out native intelligence level is.

Meanwhile the stuff we want (decent police, no potholes and good schools) just rots.

Say hello to the "bread and circuses" phase of American democracy.

Off topic (slightly), walking back from lunch, I saw a woman putting orange shower caps (for lack of a better description) and over bike seats at the rack at 10th and Stark. She was also affixing little orange tags on string to the handlebars.

Printed on the orange shower caps was "THANK YOU FOR RIDING" and I'm 99% sure that they had a METRO logo on it.

I think she mistook my observation as interest. Mostly I was thinking WT* are my tax dollars doing paying for this? And I'm a bike commuter.

If I saw someone tampering with my bike I would've said something. I wonder how many of those tags and caps get tossed in the gutter?

Today's English lesson:
People who write "news" for public consumption on behalf of an agency, a bureau, or even a private corporation are sometimes called "reporters", and sometimes they're called "public relations people", and sometimes "ad men", and sometimes "ministers of propaganda".
It just depends on what works.

Goebbels would be proud of Metro (and TriMet) for their effective use of PR flacks. He would probably pee his pants if he saw some of the words that these modern versions of himself have created.

Don't forget Dylan Rivera, formerly with The Oregonian, and now with Metro as a Snr. Public Affairs Specialist.

If Metro has three (or four) reporters on staff...that would still be way more reporters than the Oregonian has at any given time.

(Well,unless you count cut and paste interns)

The amount of money that Oregon governments blow on public relations flacks is astounding.

The more people resist the more public relations needed!
We pay how much to be "convinced?"


As a lawyer/blogger, I get
to be a member of:

In Vino Veritas

Lange, Pinot Gris 2015
Kiona, Lemberger 2014
Willamette Valley, Pinot Gris 2015
Aix, Rosé de Provence 2016
Marchigüe, Cabernet 2013
Inazío Irruzola, Getariako Txakolina Rosé 2015
Maso Canali, Pinot Grigio 2015
Campo Viejo, Rioja Reserva 2011
Kirkland, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2016
Cantele, Salice Salentino Reserva 2013
Whispering Angel, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2013
Avissi, Prosecco
Cleto Charli, Lambrusco di Sorbara Secco, Vecchia Modena
Pique Poul, Rosé 2016
Edmunds St. John, Bone-Jolly Rosé 2016
Stoller, Pinot Noir Rosé 2016
Chehalem, Inox Chardonnay 2015
The Four Graces, Pinot Gris 2015
Gascón, Colosal Red 2013
Cardwell Hill, Pinot Gris 2015
L'Ecole No. 41, Merlot 2013
Della Terra, Anonymus
Willamette Valley, Dijon Clone Chardonnay 2013
Wraith, Cabernet, Eidolon Estate 2012
Januik, Red 2015
Tomassi, Valpolicella, Rafaél, 2014
Sharecropper's Pinot Noir 2013
Helix, Pomatia Red Blend 2013
La Espera, Cabernet 2011
Campo Viejo, Rioja Reserva 2011
Villa Antinori, Toscana 2013
Locations, Spanish Red Wine
Locations, Argentinian Red Wine
La Antigua Clásico, Rioja 2011
Shatter, Grenache, Maury 2012
Argyle, Vintage Brut 2011
Abacela, Vintner's Blend #16 Abacela, Fiesta Tempranillo 2014
Benton Hill, Pinot Gris 2015
Primarius, Pinot Gris 2015
Januik, Merlot 2013
Napa Cellars, Cabernet 2013
J. Bookwalter, Protagonist 2012
LAN, Rioja Edicion Limitada 2011
Beaulieu, Cabernet, Rutherford 2009
Denada Cellars, Cabernet, Maipo Valley 2014
Marchigüe, Cabernet, Colchagua Valley 2013
Oberon, Cabernet 2014
Hedges, Red Mountain 2012
Balboa, Rose of Grenache 2015
Ontañón, Rioja Reserva 2015
Three Horse Ranch, Pinot Gris 2014
Archery Summit, Vireton Pinot Gris 2014
Nelms Road, Merlot 2013
Chateau Ste. Michelle, Pinot Gris 2014
Conn Creek, Cabernet, Napa 2012
Conn Creek, Cabernet, Napa 2013
Villa Maria, Sauvignon Blanc 2015
G3, Cabernet 2013
Chateau Smith, Cabernet, Washington State 2014
Abacela, Vintner's Blend #16
Willamette Valley, Rose of Pinot Noir, Whole Clusters 2015
Albero, Bobal Rose 2015
Ca' del Baio Barbaresco Valgrande 2012
Goodfellow, Reserve Pinot Gris, Clover 2014
Lugana, San Benedetto 2014
Wente, Cabernet, Charles Wetmore 2011
La Espera, Cabernet 2011
King Estate, Pinot Gris 2015
Adelsheim, Pinot Gris 2015
Trader Joe's, Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley 2015
La Vite Lucente, Toscana Red 2013
St. Francis, Cabernet, Sonoma 2013
Kendall-Jackson, Pinot Noir, California 2013
Beaulieu, Cabernet, Napa Valley 2013
Erath, Pinot Noir, Estate Selection 2012
Abbot's Table, Columbia Valley 2014
Intrinsic, Cabernet 2014
Oyster Bay, Pinot Noir 2010
Occhipinti, SP68 Bianco 2014
Layer Cake, Shiraz 2013
Desert Wind, Ruah 2011
WillaKenzie, Pinot Gris 2014
Abacela, Fiesta Tempranillo 2013
Des Amis, Rose 2014
Dunham, Trautina 2012
RoxyAnn, Claret 2012
Del Ri, Claret 2012
Stoppa, Emilia, Red 2004
Primarius, Pinot Noir 2013
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Conundrum, White 2013
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The Occasional Book

Marc Maron - Waiting for the Punch
Phil Stanford - Rose City Vice
Kenneth R. Feinberg - What is Life Worth?
Kent Haruf - Our Souls at Night
Peter Carey - True History of the Kelly Gang
Suzanne Collins - The Hunger Games
Amy Stewart - Girl Waits With Gun
Philip Roth - The Plot Against America
Norm Macdonald - Based on a True Story
Christopher Buckley - Boomsday
Ryan Holiday - The Obstacle is the Way
Ruth Sepetys - Between Shades of Gray
Richard Adams - Watership Down
Claire Vaye Watkins - Gold Fame Citrus
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James Joyce - Dubliners
Cheryl Strayed - Torch
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Phil Stanford - White House Call Girl
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Kent Haruf - Eventide
David Halberstam - Summer of '49
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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
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Deborah Eisenberg - Transactions in a Foreign Currency
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. - Slaughterhouse Five
Kathryn Lance - Pandora's Genes
Cheryl Strayed - Wild
Fyodor Dostoyevsky - The Brothers Karamazov
Jack London - The House of Pride, and Other Tales of Hawaii
Jack Walker - The Extraordinary Rendition of Vincent Dellamaria
Colum McCann - Let the Great World Spin
Niccolò Machiavelli - The Prince
Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird
Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus - The Nanny Diaries
Brian Selznick - The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Sharon Creech - Walk Two Moons
Keith Richards - Life
F. Sionil Jose - Dusk
Natalie Babbitt - Tuck Everlasting
Justin Halpern - S#*t My Dad Says
Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
Barry Glassner - The Gospel of Food
Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
Jesse Katz - The Opposite Field
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice
Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Mitch Albom - Have a Little Faith
C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 5
At this date last year: 3
Total run in 2017: 113
In 2016: 155
In 2015: 271
In 2014: 401
In 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269

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