It was 10 years ago this morning that this blog was born. Since then, we've written more than 17,000 entries here, and readers have left more than 183,000 comments. Many opinions have been expressed, on many subjects. Some of the conversation has been thoughtful, and some it has been flippant. Some of it brilliant, some of it stupid. There have been moments of beauty and grace, moments of rudeness and ugliness. We have broken some news, and repeated some rumors that turned out to be false. We've been censored by Homeland Security by day, censured by Admiral Randy late at night. We've laughed, cried, prayed, sworn, bragged, and apologized, but rarely have we been bored.
If you had told us on the morning of July 6, 2002 what this site would be today, we probably would have laughed in disbelief. The evolution has featured many twists and turns. Some messes have been made, but we think we've done more good than harm, which is sufficient reason to keep going.
We're grateful for the countless folks who contribute to this blog in all sorts of ways, great and small. It's a joy and a privilege to know you and to learn from you.
We must confess that we didn't come up with any great ideas for celebrating this occasion. But given that the anniversary may attract some notice, we thought we'd make up a greeting card of sorts. It's the City of Portland's long-term debt over the past 15 years, not counting unfunded pension liabilities. It's been nuts ever since Mother Vera went to Paley's with Homer Williams, but in particular, check out the last five years, under the Sam Rand Twins:
This blog came on line at the second bar from the left. It's pretty scandalous what's happened since then. People tell us that we're making a difference, but you couldn't tell it from those numbers. Obviously, we're not stopping some real damage from being done.
Here's another one -- what's happened with the Portland police and fire retirement time bomb over a decade and a half. This doesn't count the army of PERS recipients from the city payroll, who have also become partially unfunded over the last four years:
Notice that the last bar on the right there is two years old. The city faces up to the reality of its crushing pension debt as infrequently as possible. We think the current liability is around $3 billion -- probably higher, if you count the PERS shortfalls, factor in retiree health care costs, and make realistic assumptions about the pension funds' investment returns for the foreseeable future.
And if you think the city's growing fast enough to handle all that extra debt, here's one last chart to set you straight. It's the City of Portland population figures. Increasing at almost exactly 1% a year:
Lots to watch out for there, folks. And there is so much other drama ahead. The Obama-Romna, and Nutsy vs. Char-Lie for mayor, all on the same night. A big holiday sendoff for two, and maybe three, Portland City Council members. The Clackistani rebels battling away against the Mystery Train. The Barburian rebels in their King City strongholds. The Fukushima ooze, or worse. The mainstream media diminishing in content, month by agonizing month. The compost carts getting ever stinkier. Bunkers without parking going in all over the Rose City. Craziness galore at U.C. Nike. Water bills with a comma in the number. The death of Tri-Met.
We'll be busy, but today let's stop and note the milestone. Here's to a second decade in the blogosphere. It promises to be a wild ride.