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About August 2012

This page contains all entries posted to Jack Bog's Blog in August 2012. They are listed from newest to oldest. July 2012 is the previous archive. September 2012 is the next archive. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

Archives

Links

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

Hap'nin' Guys
Tony Pierce
Parkway Rest Stop
Utterly Boring.com
Along the Gradyent
Dwight Jaynes
Bob Borden
Dingleberry Gazette
The Red Electric
Iced Borscht
Jeremy Blachman
Dean's Rhetorical Flourish
Straight White Guy
HinesSight
Onfocus
Jalpuna
Beerdrinker.org
As Time Goes By
Dave Wagner
Jeff Selis
Alas, a Blog
Scott Hendison
Sansego
The View Through the Windshield
Appliance Blog
The Bleat

Hap'nin' Gals
My Whim is Law
Lelo in Nopo
Attorney at Large
Linda Kruschke
The Non-Consumer Advocate
10 Steps to Finding Your Happy Place
A Pig of Success
Attorney at Large
Margaret and Helen
Kimberlee Jaynes
Cornelia Seigneur
Mireio
And Sew It Goes
Mile 73
Rainy Day Thoughts
That Black Girl
Posie Gets Cozy
{AE}
Cat Eyes
Rhi in Pink
Althouse
GirlHacker
Ragwaters, Bitters, and Blue Ruin
Frytopia
Rose City Journal
Type Like the Wind

Portland and Oregon
Isaac Laquedem
StumptownBlogger
Rantings of a [Censored] Bus Driver
Jeff Mapes
Vintage Portland
The Portlander
South Waterfront
Amanda Fritz
O City Hall Reporters
Guilty Carnivore
Old Town by Larry Norton
The Alaunt
Bend Blogs
Lost Oregon
Cafe Unknown
Tin Zeroes
David's Oregon Picayune
Mark Nelsen's Weather Blog
Travel Oregon Blog
Portland Daily Photo
Portland Building Ads
Portland Food and Drink.com
Dave Knows Portland
Idaho's Portugal
Alameda Old House History
MLK in Motion
LoveSalem

Retired from Blogging
Various Observations...
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Saving James
Portland Freelancer
Furious Nads (b!X)
Izzle Pfaff
The Grich
Kevin Allman
AboutItAll - Oregon
Lost in the Details
Worldwide Pablo
Tales from the Stump
Whitman Boys
Misterblue
Two Pennies
This Stony Planet
1221 SW 4th
Twisty
I am a Fish
Here Today
What If...?
Superinky Fixations
Pinktalk
Mellow-Drama
The Rural Bus Route
Another Blogger
Mikeyman's Computer Treehouse
Rosenblog
Portland Housing Blog

Wonderfully Wacky
Dave Barry
Borowitz Report
Blort
Stuff White People Like
Worst of the Web

Valuable Time-Wasters
My Gallery of Jacks
Litterbox, On the Prowl
Litterbox, Bag of Bones
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Ride That Donkey
Singin' Horses
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Simon Swears
Strong Bad's E-mail

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Jack Bog's Blog, by Jack Bogdanski of Portland, Oregon

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August 2012 Archives

Friday, August 31, 2012

Have a great holiday weekend


Bom ba ba bom ba bom ba bom bom, ba ba bom ba ba bom, ba dangy dang dang, ba dingy dong ding

Blue moon.

Think urban planning has gone overboard?

Then you must be in the Tea Party. At least, so says this piece, which reminds us that to save nice places like Cornelius, you must wreck nice places like Portland. Anybody who questions "smart growth" must be a foe of the environment.

What bullpucky.

It's a shame that folks can't see that Portland's measly 1% annual population growth can be easily handled without destroying either it or the rural surroundings. Increasing housing stock at the same anemic rate within the existing urban growth boundary would require neither paving over farmland nor trashing residential neighborhoods with soulless, parking-less cr-apartments. But when the greedy co-opt the greens, mostly everybody loses. And that's what we're railing about in Portland these days.

Portland peddling Milwaukie light rail bonds, too

While many eyes focus on Clackamas County's desperate rush to issue $20 million of bonds for Milwaukie light rail before voters reject the project at the poll on September 18, the City of Portland is also planning to borrow big bucks -- $38 million -- a week from Tuesday to pour into the Mystery Train maw. That infernal MAX system is sucking our children's future dry.

Although much hot air is being generated about all the wonderful sources that may eventually pay off the Portland bonds, the fact is that the $38 million IOU is backed by property taxes. Because of that backing, Moody's rates the bonds at Aa1 -- just one notch down from the Aaa rating that the city likes to tell people it has. The official sales pitch for the bonds is here.

Like Clackamas County, Portland will be borrowing for 20 years. And when the Portland bonds sell on September 11, they will push the total of the city's long-term bonds and interim financing over the $3.37 billion mark. Our Portland debt meter, which currently reads $3.33 billion and rising, is even more accurate than we thought it was.

And it doesn't stop there. Portland plans to borrow another $185 million for the sewer system in October (guess it's still not fixed), and $70 million for the Sellwood Bridge in December. The Sam Rands will leave office with the city at $3.7 billion in the red -- plus another $3-billion-plus unfunded liability for pensions.

You've got credit cards -- you know the story. All this wild borrowing is going to end quite badly.

City won't buy asphalt from Pamplin unit -- worried about quality

Wonder how the Pamplin concrete that's holding up the Milwaukie Mystery Train bridge will perform.

Wacky Clacky theory: MAX bonds are really a property deal

We've been trying to wrap our mind around how the Clackamas County commission can hold a meeting on August 22 and authorize selling $20 million of bonds for the Tri-Met light rail line on September 6 -- 15 days later. Oregon law (ORS 287A.150) requires that 60 days' advance authorization be given for "revenue bonds," which is what to our eye the county bonds are. (They are "bonds" -- "a contractual undertaking or instrument of a public body to repay borrowed moneys" -- and not "general obligation bonds," because they are not "secured by a commitment to levy ad valorem taxes outside the limits of sections 11 and 11b, Article XI of the Oregon Constitution." Thus, they are "revenue bonds.")

But looking at the sales pitch for the Clackamas IOUs, which was just released the other day, we see now that the county contends that it is not selling "bonds" at all, but rather entering into a sale, lease, or financing of property under a different provision of Oregon law, ORS 271.390. That section, which is cited both in the county commission resolution and the proposed legal opinion by bond counsel Harvey Rogers (right), reads in relevant part:

A public body or a council of governments may enter into contracts for the leasing, rental or financing of any real or personal property that the governing body of the public body or council of governments determines is needed, including contracts for rental, long term leases under an optional contract for purchase, financing agreements with vendors, financial institutions or others, or for purchase of any property.

How in heaven's name are the Clackamas MAX bonds described in that sentence? The county is not leasing, renting, or financing any real or personal property. The county is borrowing money from investors and paying it over to Tri-Met so that Tri-Met can build its, not the county's, light rail line to nowhere. The money is to be paid back just like any other bonds that the county has issued over the years. Portland's doing the same thing, and it -- with Rogers again in his monopoly role as bond counsel -- is forthrightly calling its obligations (which were authorized back in April) "revenue bonds."

The proposed deal with banks and other investors is not about Clackamas County buying, selling, or using any property at all. To say otherwise seems to us to be taking the language of the statute into Humpty Dumpty territory. Bonds are still bonds, even if you cross out the word "bond" and write "lease" or "sale" or "ham sandwich" in its place. What the county is trying to do seems awfully cute -- at best.

We put in an e-mail request to State Treasurer Ted Wheeler's office yesterday afternoon to see whether he had any comment on the county's highly aggressive reading of the bond law. So far, we have received no response. We also called Moody's, which has rated the Clackamas bonds, to see whether they had considered the question -- or the recently filed referendum petition -- but they apparently stop answering the phone at 2 p.m. our time. Now everyone is going to get lost in the holiday weekend.

Will the Clackistani rebels get this question before a court in time to stop the rush-rush bond sale? The bonds are supposed to be sold on Thursday, and close on the 13th. If the rebels can keep the county from paying Tri-Met until after the September 18 special election, they may succeed in stopping the payment entirely. If the scoundrels on the county commission get Tri-Met paid before the election, the rebels may never get the money back for the taxpayers. Either way, there are two incumbent heads on the commission that are likely to roll in November on account of their lawless, rogue actions. And deservedly so.

Portland cops shooting up Gorge scenic area

One of them says he thought he saw Multnomah Falls reaching for a gun.

But seriously, folks, our precious Gorge must not be as precious as our fearless leaders have preached. Dodging target practice from Admiral Randy's fleet is now part of the wilderness adventure.

Time well not spent

We're so glad we didn't watch the Republican Convention. We saw maybe two minutes of highlights total. It sounds as though Clint sputtered -- at 82, he's about due to lose it, which is too bad. We still love Clint. And was that Condi we saw in one clip? How could we have forgotten about Condi Condi? The sweet neo Con. That right there is reason enough to hold one's nose and go with the O.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Was mayor's aide busted once or twice for running stop signs on bike?

This article, in the O, certainly makes it seem as though the Portland mayor's chief "transportation policy advisor" was ticketed twice earlier today for running a stop sign on her bike. But as a reader points out, the story's ambiguous: The aide may have been cited only once, at Ladd's Circle in southeast, and not a second time on Northeast Broadway. Once or twice, it's pretty embarrassing. But we apologize if we were wrong about her getting two tickets instead of one.

Drive-by shooting, Fremont and 71st, 6:40 p.m. on a Wednesday

Mayor Creepy's so proud that he's brought bike paths to the Cully neighborhood. And he's offering them a gravel street in exchange for a 20-year mortgage! What he's not offering is basic personal safety.

Rah rah planning siss boom bah

And blah blah blah. From the president of the Oregon chapter of the American Planning Association, no less. Bet you he's had dinner with the real estate sharpies at Bluehour a few times.

Ellis McCoy pleads -- crazed gunman, acting alone

Don't worry, Portland. Mayor Creepy says: "The acts of this single individual do not reflect the way we do business." And the mayor would not lie to you.

Clacky commissioners: Bonds can't be referred to voters

The rogue county commissioners in Clackistan have released the official pitch for their rush-rush light rail bond issue -- the one they're racing to get closed before the special election on light rail on September 18. It's here. In it, the county says that it can issue the bonds without giving the public the opportunity for a referendum on the bond issue:

On August 28, 2012 a citizen filed a petition to refer the Order to county voters. The Order authorizes the Financing Agreement and the Obligations. The Order is not an ordinance and is not County legislation and is therefore not the kind of action that Oregon law authorizes to be referred to voters. Further, if despite this limitation the Order is placed on the ballot, it likely would not appear on the ballot until March of 2013, and in no event before the closing of the Obligations. If the Order appears on the ballot and the voters do not approve the Order, it would not adversely affect the County’s obligations under the Financing Agreement and the Obligations.

That's an interesting theory. Chapter 287A of the Oregon Revised Statutes lays out the procedures for issuing a "bond." In that statute, "bond" is defined quite broadly. The paper that is being sold here clearly constitutes "bonds." But somehow it's not subject to the bond issuance procedures required by state law? Because the county put the word "obligations" on the cover? We're no municipal law expert, but that sounds like somebody going out on a limb.

The county says it is selling the bonds next Thursday. We would expect the issue to land before a judge between now and then.

Lunch in Portlandia

We found ourself in downtown Portland at mid-day yesterday for a work-related meeting. Parked at a meter -- $2.40 for 90 minutes, and we had to restart our car to move it over the stupid "space lines," which are a nasty trap for the unwary. The $2.40 was a classic Sam Rand gouge -- but cheaper than Tri-Met, even taking gas into account, and a lot more efficient and comfortable.

After the meeting, we visited the nearby food cart village at Third and Stark. So many options to choose from in this third world setting. We picked out a cart, paid eight bucks for a sandwich and a Pepsi, and took it back to our office, because there was no place to sit and eat it, of course.

It was one of the blandest, most amateurish sandwiches we have ever been served in our 34 years in Portland. Their "special of the day," no less. There may be great food in those carts somewhere, but this sure wasn't it. No wonder these guys are standing around in a trailer all day. A bricks-and-mortar place serving this stuff would be shut down in a month.

Farquaad for fluoride

The Multnomah County commissioners have joined the Portland City Council in support of the decision to fluoridate the city's water supply. Ever since Ted Wheeler walked off the job of county chair, the two local governments have been more or less in lockstep. Not surprising, given that the county politicians usually have ambitions to be city politicians some day.

Maybe the public will go along this time. But at the very least, the issue ought to be put up for a vote of the population -- not railroaded through, the Sam Rand way.

Dear Dan Wieden

You think the arts are wonderful. You think that Portland arts organizations deserve more money. Well, Mr. Wieden, why don't you and your rich buddies dig into your hefty net worths and endow a fund that will support these organizations, instead of taking $35 a year from every adult Portlander above the poverty line? Your company reportedly makes a profit of $150 million a year. $12 million a year is probably your office party budget. Come on, big guy. Noblesse oblige, and all that.

It's got everything

We got an amazing piece of election porn in the snail mail yesterday from the corporations that want to build a big casino complex out at the old Multnomah dog track. It was a 12-by-11 mailer sheet, with another 24-by-11 stapled inside, both two-sided, full color, extremely slick:

Oh, it has the full load of malarkey: jobs, "for the children," and of course, the throw-in for every scoundrel's pitch these days:

It just screams, "You are so stupid!"

Printed by a union shop, of course -- and on recycled paper, how about that?

Here's part of the big overview:

Ya gotta love those little crackerbox houses in the back. That must be where the 2,000 jobholders are going to live.

There are so many opportunities to have "exciting" gambling "fun" nowadays. Do we really need more? Let the Indians keep the money they're getting now, or if we really must have a casino in the area, let's get the state involved and eliminate the private profit. And for Pete's sake, put it in Lloyd Center and let's get the inner city economy going with it. In 20 years, we might even get to where Reno was 30 years ago. Whoopee!

"Sustainable. Like Oregon." Now, that's a classic.

Casting call

The L.A. Times loves the Portland Loo. Maybe Hollywood will make a movie out of it. But who will play the patent holder, Charles Randall Leonard?

Call me racist...

... but I refuse to call it "César Chávez Boulevard."

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Along the road

There's real beauty in Street View, if you look for it.

In the valley of the jolly -- ho, ho, ho -- "green" nut-puncher

Jefferson Smith -- he put the "mental" in environmental.

Romney for President -- of the Cayman Islands

The Republican Party is too, too funny.

Portland City Hall says reservoirs are falling apart

Admiral Randy and his henchpeople in the Portland water bureau -- currently in litigation over their propensity for spending water revenue illegally -- are hellbent on replacing the city's open air reservoirs with outrageously expensive underground tanks. The reason given up until now is that the open reservoirs are a safety hazard, and every once in a while a boil water scare has been thrown in to make their point.

But now there's a different point. In response to city commissioner Amanda Fritz's suggestion that the city merely cover the reservoirs with plastic -- a cheap solution that would last at least 15 years -- the Admiral and his bureaucrat buddies say that the reservoirs are not only unsafe, but deteriorating:

To the casual passer-by the reservoirs may look fine, particularly when full. From an engineering perspective, that is not the case. These century old reservoirs are rated in "Poor Condition" as bureau assets. Over 100 years of the combined effects of temperature changes, weathering and loading have literally worn the reservoirs out. Each time the bureau drains the open reservoirs, every 6 months or so, the bureau patches and repairs. Severe joint failure is becoming more and more common. Cracking and spalling (chunks breaking off), particularly in the wetted zones, is evident everywhere.

Flexible liners have been added to three (two hypalon and one asphalt) of the five reservoirs to both reduce leakage from the reservoirs and prevent the intrusion of groundwater. Properly functioning concrete reservoirs do not need flexible liners. It is telling commentary on the poor condition of the reservoirs that liners had to be added. It is similarly telling how long ago the liners started being added. In the case of Reservoir 6 the asphalt liner was added in 1965 to repair leaks. Reservoir 3 had a hypalon liner installed first in 1978 and then replaced in 2003. Reservoir 5 had a hypalon liner installed in 1998. The life of the hypalon liners is about 15-20 years.

The liners do not solve the long term problem. They stop leakage and intrusion for a time. But the reinforced concrete continues to undergo all the effects listed above. Structurally, the reinforced concrete basins continue to deteriorate. Risk increases for more damaging types of failure and the bureau is at a disadvantage because personnel cannot see under the liners. Liners obviously do nothing for the risks associated with open exposure to the environment outlined above.

Design standards have advanced greatly since the 1900s. Design standards and formulae used in the 1900s were much simpler and did not account for many of the risks and conditions that are common practice today. Current analytical tools result in much stronger designs, designs that can handle a wider variety of conditions. Of particular relevance, is the improved understanding of earthquakes, the forces earthquakes generate and solutions to resist earthquake forces. The open reservoirs do not meet current seismic design standards. The Water Bureau's open reservoirs would likely be severely damaged and likely not hold water in the event of a significant earthquake like an earthquake occurring on the East Bank Fault, West Hills Fault or from the Cascadia Subduction Zone.

If the reservoirs are to remain operational for any length of time, they need extensive infrastructure repairs, renewal and modernization. All of the open reservoirs are over 100 years old and have exceeded their life expectancy and are due for replacement regardless of what happens with LT2.

Due to the condition of the floors and walls of the reservoirs, liners and covers would be required. Liners and floating covers whether temporary or permanent limit access to the reservoir for making repairs and maintenance of the structure itself. The necessary repairs and improvements should all occur before covering the reservoirs; otherwise the investment in liners and covers will be lost until some future Council authorizes the needed work.

As usual, there's only one workable solution, and that's to do as Randy tells you.

Willamette Weed

These guys are just obsesssed with pot. Week after week. It must help their circulation. Of their paper, that is.

Portland bike share program already running late

Could it be because Portland City Hall's darlings at the Alta Planning company can't get the job done in New York or Chicago? Apparently.

Buried under Treasure Island

It sure ain't treasure.

"Urban renewal," without the urb, cont'd

In Canby, Oregon -- a place so rural that Google doesn't have hardly any of it on Street View -- they're using the old "urban renewal" pork barrel to build a new public library and bureaucrat office building. We thought that the whole idea of "urban renewal" was to enhance the tax base so that increased property tax collections will pay off the borrowed money that's being used to alleviate the supposed "blight." How new government buildings are going to increase property taxes is anybody's guess.

And of course, since there's never really been anything in downtown Canby to start with, it's silly to talk about "renewing" it. Oh, well. Borrow on, boomers -- let the kids pay for it.

Should cyclists be allowed to run red lights?

Here's the argument in favor. (And they allow it in Paris, you know.)

The worst luck

Here's a fine Portland blog that we managed to discover the day after it shut down.

Genius for Dummies

Somehow Paul Allen shows up on a list of the 10 smartest people in the world. This list must have been compiled by some of the dumbest people in the world. As David Letterman remarked last night after noting Allen's presence on the list, "I'd like to see the paperwork on that."

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Clackistanis fight back with new referendum

We knew something like this was going to happen. The opponents of Clackamas County's paying $20 million toward the Tri-Met Mystery Train to Milwaukie today filed a petition for a referendum on last week's rush-rush resolution by the county commissioners to sell bonds for the project next week. The county's hasty and juvenile move reveals the commissioners' fear that if the September 18 special election goes against the light rail project before the bonds are issued, they may never be sold, and Tri-Met may never get its millions from the unhappy Clackistan taxpayers.

State law clearly provides that the voters have the right to petition for a referendum on bond issuances, and that rule seems applicable here, with a $20 million, 20-year set of full faith and credit obligations about to be sold. It will be interesting indeed to see if the county argues that the voters somehow don't have referendum rights in this case. The issue could go all the way to the state supreme court, and one wonders how in the world banks could be stepping up to buy this paper in a hurry-up deal under these circumstances. (The official statement, or sales document, for the bonds still has not been publicly posted anywhere at this hour, although Moody's rated the bonds more than a week ago.)

Bravo to the Clackistani rebels for keeping up the fight.

Mike Bellotti fired again?

So say these guys. Poor Mike will have to muddle by on his $41,341.67 monthly PERS pension now.

Ladies and gentlemen, Sun Richter

They say she knocked 'em dead the other night on a bill with Esperanza Spalding at the Gerding. Her mom's gotta be tickled.

Coffee with Knute

Knute Buehler, the Bend physician who's the Republican candidate for Oregon secretary of state, is in Portland a lot these days. It's not alien territory for him, as he spent several years here as a young doc at OHSU and Emanuel Hospital. At his invitation, we hung out for an hour or so over coffee this afternoon and got to know each other better.

Buehler is a bright guy, still practicing as an orthopedic surgeon part time and the holder of patents on some medical devices. But he says he's fed up with politics as usual and is running for political office to try to change the status quo. He's studied successful Republican campaigns in Oregon, and he's developed a smart campaign message. It's focused tightly on just a few prongs -- cutting red tape for small and medium-sized businesses, insisting on far greater accountability in state and local government, and election campaign reform. He's steering clear of larger social issues, and is not talking about incumbent Kate Brown's shortcomings in office unless you ask him about them.

It came out in our conversation that Buehler grew up in Roseburg, home of John Kitzhaber. One of Buehler's first experiences in politics was as a teenager, attending a house party for Kitz, who of course was also a doctor before he became the face card you couldn't burn.

We never thought we'd say this, but Buehler seems to have a credible shot at winning his race. Support for Brown seems lukewarm, and she's alienated the marijuana vote, which is fielding its own third-party candidate. With anti-Obama sentiment running white hot among the GOP faithful, Buehler's likely to pull in a lot of votes. He's a polished, young, moderate professional who doesn't immediately turn anybody off, even those to the left of center. It's going to be a most interesting race as it heads into the last two months.

Would you go deer hunting with Paul Ryan?

Dick Cheney might blow your face off, but with this guy, you could get an arrow where you don't want it.

More "street seats" craziness

It isn't just on Division Street that the City of Portland is taking away parking spaces for restaurant tables. Here goes another space, on Everett between 11th and 12th in the Pearl District:

What a place to eat. You have the Tri-Met 17 bus, trucks headed in and out of the nearby Main Post Office, cars galore, and no doubt visits from the city's street people. Noisy, dirty, dangerous, but hey -- anything to screw people looking for a place to park.

Sam Rand money management -- whatever

City auditor LaVonne Griffin-Valade has discovered that to the boys running the City of Portland, debt service reserves are sometimes just a cookie jar that can be raided for whatever toy they see:

Portland issued about $300 million in pension obligation bonds in 1999. At the same time, the city also created an internal reserve to protect the general fund from the obligation. The city won't pay off that debt until 2029.

Since 2008, however, the city has moved $8.1 million from the internal reserve to help pay for SAP -- the city's controversial software system whose price tag ballooned from $14.2 million to $47.4 million. It also moved an additional $600,000 from reserves to pay for a policy analyst position, the audit found.

The policy analyst was hired to work on pension matters, at least. But when the Sam Rands tell you about "cost savings" that magically appear to pay for their latest bright idea, spending out of reserves is one of the things that may be going on.

SoWhat North

The new "mixed-use development" planned for the Con-Way property in northwest Portland is going to be quite the skyscraper jungle:

While buildings along streets such as Northwest 21st and 23rd avenues are subject to height limits of about eight stories, those placed closer to I-405 will have permission to be taller.

And the traffic over there, already pretty sticky, is likely to descend to the hellacious:

When finished, the new development is expected to have as many as 1,500 new residential units, which will add more traffic to the neighborhood. In addition, people working and shopping in the area also are expected to add to traffic congestion.

The intersection at Northwest 23rd Avenue and Vaughn Street has been a particular concern. A proposed "jug handle" solution will require drivers exiting Interstate 405 to make a series of right turns before entering the neighborhood.

Our forays over into that neck of the woods certainly won't be getting any more frequent. Ah well, another part of Portland lost. We must wreck it to save it for the millions of people who are moving here, any decade now. (And where they're supposed to work is anyone's guess.)

Are rental properties the next bubble?

Packaging up piles of mortgages and slicing and dicing them into small pieces for anonymous investors brought the American economy to its knees four years ago. Now the bankers are going to do the same thing with collections of rental houses that they've bought in foreclosure. When the bankers' latest scheme go down, we taxpayers will doubtlessly be called upon to bail the sharpies out.

Meanwhile, a recent ruling by the state supreme court in Washington could be opening the door for various levels of government to show up and take over properties covered by defaulted mortgages, by condemning the mortgages. You may wind up with Jeffer-Sten Smith or Farquaad Cogen, or even Metro Rex, running new government banks. It just gets crazier by the day.

From Matt Wuerker


Copyright 2012 by Matt Wuerker. Used by permission.

Football time is here (and I don't mean soccer)

Folks are doubtlessly thinking about sneaking out early for the Labor Day weekend, but in the rush to wring the last drops of fun out of summer, let us not overlook the upcoming pigskin season. The "college" kids start hitting the gridiron this Thursday night.

As we mentioned last week, we'll be playing the charity pro football underdog game on this blog again this year. Indeed, the first lines will be posted on Tuesday, September 4 -- just a week from today. (The first pro game of the season is a rare Wednesday nighter on the 5th.)

If you e-mailed me to say you were interested in playing the underdogs, watch your e-mail over the next few hours for further instructions. For those readers who haven't thought about this yet, here's the basic lowdown: The game will operate pretty much the same way it did the last three years. Players kiss $20 goodbye -- it all goes to charity -- and slug it out, season-long, for glory and the right to designate which charities get the group gift.

The object of the game is to pick each week one NFL underdog that's going to win its game outright. Each successful pick wins points for the player equal to the number of points by which that 'dog was predicted by the oddsmakers to lose. The player with the most points at the end of the playoffs is our champ and gets to direct the lion's share of the entry fees to his or her favorite charity. With enough players, we will have multiple winners, and several charities will benefit, as happened last year. Last year more than $900 went out to a group of charities, as directed by our five top finishers. We'll do something like that again this year, with the amounts depending on how many players and sponsors we get. The details will be finalized once we have all the entries, in a couple of weeks. As always, first place will definitely have a big advantage over second.

The official rules of this year's game are here. If you'd like to see an example of a week's lines, posted weekly on Tuesday or Wednesday, you can go here. Then here's a typical Sunday morning post showing who picked whom. And here's a sample wrap up of a week's results and standings. The final standings from last year are here -- only 3 points separated first from fifth places.

Knowing something about pro football is helpful, but there's luck involved -- that's why they play the games. If you'd like to give it a try, and maybe be a stud or studette for your favorite charity, just e-mail me at underdog@bojack.org, the official e-mail address for this year's festivities. I'll get back to you shortly.

Will Vestas be taken over by Mitsubishi?

The two companies are in "strategic" talks, and since the wheels are coming off Vestas, whose heavily subsidized U.S. sales offices are in Portland for the moment, Mitsubishi seems the likely survivor if the two companies are combined. Mitsubishi's U.S. power equipment operations are headquartered in Lake Mary, Florida -- near Orlando.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Question of the Night

When John Canzano finishes a column about Little Lord Paulson, does Paulson roll over and have a smoke?

San Fran archbishop arrested

But thank God! It's only for drunk driving.

Trouble waiting to happen

We blogged last week about the new outdoor restaurant seating that's displaced parking on already-parking-starved Division Street in Portland. A reader wrote us on Friday to point out that a car had plowed into two parked cars on that street that morning. "The cars were parked on the same side of the street, in the same area as the seat-deck, 20 blocks away," the reader pointed out. The accident was reportedly at 47th.




Classic Sam Rand mindscrew

Ya gotta love Portlanders' options in this Facebook poll by the city's creepy mayor:

There must be something wrong with our Facebook settings. We're not seeing "Pave my effin' street and don't charge me for it" as an option.

New York Times loves Wyden

It must be part of their "buy local" campaign. [Via WW.]

Turn the city into a year-round Burning Man?

Egad, please don't let Jeffer-Sam Smith's people see this.

So stupid, Portland will probably try it

Let's let Goldman Sachs gamble on government programs like probation and welfare. What could go wrong?

The idea of social impact bonds is starting to catch on. Recently in New York City, Goldman Sachs invested $9.6 million over four years in a program designed to reduce re-incarceration rates among youth. The way it works is that if the re-incarceration rate among the youths involved in the program drops 10% at the end of four years, Goldman Sachs gets their money back. But if the re-incarceration rate drops even further, Goldman will make an even bigger profit. However, if the re-incarceration rate does not drop to 10%, then Goldman loses money. Make no mistake, Goldman Sachs isn’t investing in the program out of the goodness of their hearts, they’re investing because they believe in the quality of the program and believe they can make a profit off it. Imagine if Portland could create a model with reliable metrics for the structural long-term problems that ail us. We could not only solve a pressing problem, but we could make a serious investment into our future.

Real the whole hallucination, if you like, here.

Another sellout?

For a guy who needs votes from real human beings, the President sure seems to be spending a lot of capital pleasing corporate "persons" lately.

Coliseum mess sets stage for bigger disasters

The future of Portland's Memorial Coliseum is a muddled mess. Little wonder, with the mayor and the Admiral's money guy in charge. Resolving the future of that building, reviled by some by cherished by others, will have to await a new administration at City Hall.

But the latest news surrounding the facility goes beyond the lack of progress in figuring out what to do with it. There are signs that it will lead to a bailout of the Portland Development Commission, which seems to have outlived its usefulness and is due for a major downsizing. In the chatter about the Coliseum, one hears signals that the PDC will figure out new ways to raid the city treasury and keep itself in its current bloated state:

The PDC... is willing to take operational responsibility of the coliseum, but such a structure is risky, officials have acknowledged.

Under the deal being negotiated, the city would be required to cover losses at the coliseum up to $375,000 annually and PDC would pick up losses beyond that. Right now, [Paul Allen's company] covers all losses, which in the last year were $165,000, PDC board chairman Scott Andrews said....

For the PDC, risk comes from how it would pay for operating losses -- and how big they could be. The agency couldn't use urban renewal dollars. But the proposal would instead give the PDC development rights for property at the Rose Quarter owned by taxpayers, which the PDC hopes to use to turn a profit through future development deals.

This "entrepreneurial" approach, leaders suggested, could be a model for the PDC in future years. After being flush with cash for years from urban renewal districts, PDC is now facing smaller annual budgets as districts expire.

It's time to lay off half of the PDC, or more. Its economic development and housing missions can be served by other city bureaus. "Urban renewal" scams, and their drain on resources for essential public services, should be curtailed. The last thing the city needs is more "entrepreneurial" activity by bureaucrats who could never cut it in real business.

Portland City Hall: Bike boxes count as spending on motorists

The Orwellian newspeak emanating from the Portland city bureaucracy gets more alarming by the day. Now they've stopped reporting how much they spend on bicycle projects because, hey, who's to say who really benefits from them?

For years, the bureau broke down its spending by transportation mode. So, percentages were given for budget amounts devoted to bicycles, motor vehicles, pedestrians or transit....

This methodology was flawed, according to Miller, because project expenditures, such as bike lanes, could end up benefiting multiple transportation modes. As a result, the bureau recently started using a different system that will track spending by project, rather than mode....

“When we try to talk about expenditures by mode, the devil is in the details and the methodology is flabby,” Miller said. “(The new system) is a more thoughtful and articulate way of portraying what we do and how we benefit the broad cross section of transportation interests in the city.”

Bureau officials said the change came when Miller took over as director in early 2011....

PBOT’s change matches philosophies held by most independent bike organizations in Portland, according to Gerik Kransky, advocacy director for the Bicycle Transportation Alliance. He said that transportation expenditures should benefit all road users. A green biking box, for example, provides three benefits, he said: certainty for where motorists can look for bicyclists, an advanced stop bar for pedestrians and a safe space for cyclists.

"It’s impossible to determine for whom that treatment exists, because it’s for safety overall," he said. "When we look at where is all the money going and where all the money is being spent, it’s pretty safe to say that if we spend a dollar paving one of our streets that it’s going to benefit both cars and bikes."

Now, PBOT shares individual project costs along with a list of the modes they will benefit. So, for an intersection project, for example, the bureau states its price and whether the project benefits drivers, pedestrians and/or bicyclists. Additionally, the bureau ranks projects according to safety level and cost-effectiveness.

The new system provides city officials and residents with less hard data; however, it's much more accurate, Miller said.

It's stunning, really. These people are out of their minds. And to think we have 126 more days of them to endure.

Armageddon looms in Mystery Train war

The fight between the Clackistani rebels and the county commissioners over throwing $20 million to Tri-Met for the Mystery Train to Milwaukie is coming down to a tense 22-day period in which all-out street fighting is likely.

The protracted battle over funding for the pointless light rail line has seen the commissioners resort to some extraordinarily underhanded and desperate measures in the last two weeks. But the voters of Clackistan will get their say at a special election on September 18, and it seems highly likely that they'll say no to spending the money on the light rail extension to their county, which has come to symbolize "Portland creep." And although the commissioners say that the vote wouldn't stop them from forking over the money to Tri-Met, their crazy antics of the last two weeks show clearly how afraid they are that that proposition simply isn't true.

It seems to this observer that if the county doesn't get the money borrowed and paid to Tri-Met by the 18th, it will never get to do it. The opponents are going to win the election, and at that point, there's no way anyone is going to buy any county bonds for the project. And that is why the commissioners and bureaucrats sneaked around earlier this month and filed a stealth bond offering for a rating with Moody's, rushed through a bond resolution last week, and now will seek to hurry through a bond sale -- i.e., take out a giant IOU -- by the end of next week. The plan, no doubt, is to close on the bonds and make the jumbo payment to Tri-Met during the week of the 10th.

Can the rebels stop this villainy? They certainly don't have much time. But given the tenacity with which they've battled over many months now, it's hard to imagine them going down without at least one last stand. If they can somehow delay the bond sale until after the election, there's a good chance that the county will never pay Tri-Met $20 million for the Mystery Train.

At the very least, the latest shenanigans from the politicians seem to guarantee a change of personnel on the county board come the next election in November. But the fate of the eight-figure payment, to be made against the will of the voters, is the bigger story.

Portland's 15 minutes may be over

This happened a while back, but we've just stumbled upon it: The anointers of cool have turned their attention to... Pittsburgh!

Portland, with its elaborate facial hair and abundance of strip clubs, represents irony. Pittsburgh, with its working-class pragmatism, is the opposite: earnest and straightforward. It’s a place where people drink cheap beer and wave their Terrible Towels without self-consciousness. Hipsters take faux working-class attributes —brusque beards, Pabst Blue Ribbon and occupations such as butchery — and integrate them into their lives with an ironic wink and a superiority complex. In Pittsburgh, you can find all of the above, only without the derision and affectation.

Time to take the trust funds back east, kids. And please, take this comb-over with you.

Beware of darkness

Let's hope that this report is mistaken, or a joke, or the rantings of a crazy person:

The Social Security Administration (SSA) confirms that it is purchasing 174 thousand rounds of hollow point bullets to be delivered to 41 locations in major cities across the U.S. No one has yet said what the purpose of these purchases is, though we are led to believe that they will be used only in an emergency to counteract and control civil unrest. Those against whom the hollow point bullets are to be used — those causing the civil unrest — must be American citizens; since the SSA has never been used overseas to help foreign countries maintain control of their citizens.

What would be the target of these 174,000 rounds of hollow point bullets?

We shudder to think. Maybe our elected representatives in Washington, D.C. could tell us.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

This might be the day I go back to Annandale

Things are shaking pretty good down south.

Whackjob Politician o' the Day

So many to choose from, but this guy is at the head of the class.

Pushing back against the cr-apartment weasels

Spotted at today's Sunday Parkways in southeast Portland, residents protesting the rape of Division Street with one soulless, parking-less apartment bunker after another:





We wish them luck and urge readers to support them.

A kindred soul in San Francisco

Don't know what's taken us so long to discover this blog, which sounds awfully familiar. We'll have to keep an eye on it, to see what madness lies ahead for Portlandia. It seems the proliferation of parking meters all over Bagdad by the Bay will be the next parallel battlefield, with the impending arrival of Stevie Ray Novick.

I would not eat green eggs and ham...

... but I definitely would drink a bock beer.

If anybody would know, it would be a Portlandian

Readers come to this site from all sorts of referrals. Here's a Google search from overnight that brings a smile.

Don't knock the Jersey Shore

They're more honest in Seaside Heights than they are in Portland.

Maybe Frank Gable was involved

Here's a story that stirs up some painful memories.

Another great moment at the Trib

They've got Emily Litella writing headlines now:


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Blue duty


Teapot in a tempest

Divine intervention is changing the schedule at the Republican Convention in Tampa. So far, it doesn't appear that this venue is affected -- the coolest place in the area, although not as surreal as the GOP platform.

Alleged perv priests were seminary buddies

We're so glad we stopped giving money to these people.

Another era ends

The legendary Colony record store, in the Brill Building on Broadway in midtown Manhattan, is going out of business. You think your rent is bad? Theirs was going up to $5 million a month.

UPDATE, 5:36 p.m.: Speaking of the Brill Building, today's the 50th anniversary of a happy event for some of that building's occupants.

Farewell to the 9 Broadway

Since we first started living in Northeast Portland 30 years ago, one of the constants has been the Tri-Met bus line that runs down Regents Drive, 24th, and Broadway, thence to downtown and back east out Powell. It's the no. 9 line, in a numerical sequence that has included the 4 along Williams, the 6 on MLK, the Crazy 8 on 15th, and, at one time, the 10 on 33rd. (Once upon a time there may have also been a 5 and a 7, but we never knew them.)

To get to our neck of the woods from downtown, there was traditionally also the Fremont bus -- first labeled the 33, then the 41. But that option was removed a while back when the Fremont bus was cut off at Emanuel Hospital; these days the anemic leftover from that service reduction, mostly empty whenever we've seen it, is called the 24. The 10 stopped going downtown a long time ago as well; now it's got some number in the 70's, we think, and it quits at the Rose Quarter.

With all the service cuts in recent years, they have never messed with the 9. Starting next weekend, however, the 9 Broadway will be no more. There will still be a bus that goes downtown along the same route, but henceforth it will be rechristened the 17. And in order to go out Powell, riders will have to changes buses downtown:



  

The change of the number won't affect anybody much. But we remember when our neighbor's son used to ride the 9 all the way through downtown and over on Powell to Cleveland High School, where he thrived. He's all grown up now, but nowadays, he'd have to change buses downtown. Maybe he wouldn't have gone to Cleveland for that reason. Anyway, farewell to the 9 Broadway, and long live the 17.

Banks vs. government employee pensions in Stockton case

The bankruptcy of the California city is a fascinating story. The municipalities' lenders are arguing that City Hall retirees should feel the pain, just as the city's bondholders do. We always assumed that they would; shows you what we know.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Fire on Hood to Coast route in St. Helens

Lets' hope it doesn't disrupt the race too much. The logistics of that event are enough of a challenge as it is. And of course, we hope there are no injuries to anyone, runner or not.

Have a great weekend


The new City of Portland seal

We love this sign, which recently went up at the corner of Weidler and Grand. It sums up in a single, perfect image the City of Portland, Oregon in the 21st Century:

UPDATE, 3:19 p.m.: Here ya go:


Celebrity sighting

At lunch today -- ladies and gentlemen, the Blazer dancers!

We wished them a happy season. It was sincere.

Bike lanes don't cut it

One long-time cyclist has reached the conclusion that physical separation of bikes and motor vehicles is the only way to get the average Joe or Jane out there riding on regular basis:

As someone who has been riding bikes for transportation and recreation since long before bike lanes started showing up, I represent the kind of cyclist who could most easily ride this way. I’m pretty fast, very confident in my bike-handling, and extremely defensive in my riding technique.

But at this point – nearly 40 years after the VC [vehicular cycling, or riding in traffic] concept was advanced by John Forester in his book Effective Cycling -- I think that it’s time to recognize that most people are never going to "stop worrying and learn to love the traffic," as one VC proponent has learned to do. I’ve heard over and over again from friends, family, and acquaintances that they would never be "brave enough" to ride in traffic the way that I do. And I can hardly blame them.

Fallen angels

The neighbors lost three of their four maple trees yesterday:



As resistant as we are to change in our old age, we think this move was for the better. Those street trees weren't entirely healthy, and they were wreaking havoc with the sidewalks. Their useful life was up. That stretch of the street will never be the same again, but like the man said, so it goes.

We can't wait until the stump removers show up. That's going to be even louder than yesterday.

Bad news from Hanford (as usual)

They've found evidence of a leak inside one of the double-walled tanks that are storing the nastiest nuke waste at the atom bomb factories at Hanford. These were supposed to be the new foolproof ones, replacing the old single-shell tanks from the '40s, '50s, and '60s that leaked like sieves. The leak report is an unsettling development, but let's face it, the toxic mess at Hanford will never be completely under control, much less cleaned up. We and the kids will just keep throwing billion after billion at it. In 10,000 years it will be only half as bad as it is today.

It's Auguary

Don't look now, but the temperature here at blog headquarters just dipped below 50 degrees.

A new trial for Dr. Death

A blast from the past makes headlines.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Mama said knock you out

And he almost did.

For health care, trust your doctor, or the Pope?

The nuns at Providence Hospital seem to be going with the latter. They won't distribute the Street Roots health resource guide because it dares to list Planned Parenthood as a provider. Whatever, Sister Edna.

From Matt Wuerker


Copyright 2012 by Matt Wuerker. Used by permission.

It's an "income tax," but it's not measured by income

We're still trying to wrap our alleged mind around last week's ruling by a Multnomah County judge that the $35-a-head annual arts tax being proposed by the Portland City Council is an "income tax," as the city purports it to be. The judge's ruling is here; the money quote is short:

Both Petitioners assert that the description of the proposed tax in the Question as an "income tax" is insufficient and unfair because in fact the proposed tax is a head tax or a poll tax [prohibited by the Oregon Constitution -- JB].

The proposed tax at issue here is not a head tax or a poll tax because it is not assessed per capita -- it is assessed only upon income-earning individuals age 18 or older in households above the federal poverty guidelines.

As noted above, the City's proposed Question includes the phrase "tax capped at 35 dollars per year." Both Petitioners challenge the use of the word "capped," because no one paying the tax will pay anything less than $35.00 per year. The City responds that the use of "capped" simply means $35.00 is the "high point" of the tax.

The Court finds that as used in the Question proposed by the City the word "capped" is both insufficient and unfair, in that in common understanding to have a "cap" implies the possibility the tax may be something less than the "cap."

We're catching a strong whiff of inconsistency here. If the judge is right that the tax will be either $35 or zero, how is it not a head tax? It's a flat-dollar-amount tax on every resident over 18, just for living in Portland, with an exemption for low-income people. Does the judge mean that a head tax with any exemption at all is not a head tax?

And how can it be an "income tax" if the amount of the tax is not measured by income? If the state passed an exemption to property taxes for individuals below the poverty line, would that convert the property tax into an "income tax"?

Apparently circuit court judges' rulings on ballot titles can't be appealed, and so the measure will go up for a vote in November under the dubious label of an "income tax." But if it passes, taxpayers can still have their day in court on the question whether the tax is legal under state law. We wouldn't be paying ours until that question was definitively answered by the state supreme court. Let's hope it fails and we can laugh the question off as just another example of the absurdity of the Adams "administration."

Guess what -- Portlanders hate Sam Rand garbage ordeal

The Metro regional government's "Opt In" surveys have no statistical validity, but we're paying big bucks for them, and so we might as well get a few laughs out of them every once in a while. Here's some: When they tried to start up a wonky conversation about garbage pickup, about two thirds of the survey respondents in Multnomah County shouted them down, complaining bitterly about Portland's inane practice of picking up landfill garbage only once every two weeks:

The survey was also notable for panelists' answers to a question that wasn't explicitly asked -- how they feel about Portland's year-old garbage pickup schedule. Hundreds of respondents called for that city to return to weekly pickup of garbage....

Metro does not regulate individual cities' garbage pickup schedules. The calls for weekly pickup came in open-ended answers on the survey; neither Metro nor DHM Research, the public opinion research firm that coordinates Opt In, tracked specifically how many open-ended responses called for weekly pickup to return.

Metro News estimates two-thirds of the 433 Multnomah County panelists who answered open-ended questions called for weekly pickup to return.

Too funny. By the way, does anybody know what the heck "Metro News" is? Sounds Orwellian, like most of what comes from the Metro drones any more.

There's also some unicorn-pooping-rainbows discussion in the survey about magically turning solid waste into energy, and of course the "green" sheep baaa-ed right along. None of them has apparently ever lived near a garbage incinerator. We have, and it's not something we want to live within a few miles of, ever again. People move to Oregon to get away from that kind of shinola.

Tri-Met still borrowing money for WES

Tri-Met's WES train line, one of the worst strategic decisions ever made by a government body in Oregon, continues to rack up debt. The transit agency's latest $111 million borrowing, which became final this week, includes a few more million thrown down the WES hole:

That $3 million more for WES is "mandated" by federal law. In contrast, the whole line was "mandated" by dopiness.

Meanwhile, a reader sends us a link to this funny photo of a WES platform at "rush" hour yesterday afternoon. Keep in mind that trains in both directions stop here:

What a hotbed of activity! And just think, taxpayers, you're only subsidizing this thing to the tune of $18 a ride.

The big news in the Tri-Met bond sale, of course, is how big it is. Even leaving aside the hanky-panky that government agencies go through when telling you how much debt they're taking on, Tri-Met's long-term borrowings just went up from $308.4 million to $401.7 million -- a 30 percent increase. And all of its payroll tax revenue is mortgaged to pay off the banks and other bondholders, who get first dibs over all other creditors.

The debt numbers we just quoted don't include the moribund transit agency's unfunded pension and health care obligations to its retirees. Those amount to another $1.2 billion (with a "b"). But don't worry! We're putting our best people on this.

Has Clackamas County been hustling MAX bonds illegally?

The Clackamas County commissioners met last night, and at last report were expected to meet again this morning. According to this agenda, one of the topics is "Resolution No. ____ Authorizing the Potential Issuance of Bonds to Meet the County’s Obligation to Fund Portland to Milwaukie Light Rail (Dan Chandler, County Administration, and Scot Sideras, County Counsel)."

The reference to a "potential issuance of bonds" is pretty amusing, given the fact that the county has already submitted the bond issue to the rating officers at Moody's, and Moody's issued a rating for the bonds on Tuesday:

Issue: Full Faith and Credit Obligations, Series 2012; Rating: Aa2; Sale Amount: $19,140,000; Expected Sale Date: 9/6/12; Rating Description: General Obligation Limited Tax

Opinion

Moody's Investors Service has assigned a Aa2 rating to Clackamas County, Oregon's Full Faith and Credit Obligations, Series 2012. The obligations are secured by the county's full faith and credit pledge of all legally available resources, and are not subject to appropriation. Proceeds will finance the county's commitment to Tri-Met for its portion of the Portland Milwaukie Light Rail extension. Moody's maintains a Aa2 rating on the county's rated parity debt outstanding in the amount of $99.6 million, and a Aa1 issuer rating. The outlook on the county is stable.

Which county official submitted the bond offering to Moody's for a rating? And on whose authority? Did the county commissioners agree privately that the bond deal would go forward? Wouldn't that violate Oregon's public meetings law? And when did the request to Moody's go in? Normally, that company does not issue bond ratings overnight. Could it have been a week or two ago?

The highly irregular time sequence also raises questions under the county's own "debt issuance and management policy," which reads in part as follows:

Method of Sale

Clackamas County will offer the debt to be issued on terms consistent with market conditions, the project being financed, current County debt rating, issue size and complexity, and any other relevant considerations. The Board of County Commissioners will approve the method of sale based on the consensus recommendation of the Financial Advisor, the Finance Director and the County Treasurer. The debt issue may either be offered as a competitive sale or as a negotiated sale.

None of the recommendation and approval process could have been done by the time the rating request was sent in to Moody's. At least, it was not done in compliance with the public meetings law.

So how did the county bureaucrats who went to Moody's know what to put in the rating request? If proper procedures were followed, the terms of the bonds, including their size and maturity, could not have been known when the Moody's documents went to New York -- or even on Tuesday, when the rating was issued.

It's truly despicable that the commissioners are racing to get the bonds sold before the September 18 public vote on whether they should be issued at all. But if proper procedures haven't been followed, it might be more than just a disgrace. If old Harvey Rogers -- the bond lawyer who churns out the opinions about Oregon public debt on which the bankers rely -- can't give his o.k., there's no deal.

And regardless of what Rogers may or may not be willing to do, if a lawsuit gets filed that holds up the bond transaction past the opponents' likely victory in the September special election, those bonds may never get sold. Even Wall Street would never go for paper with that kind of cloud hanging over it.

Oh, Canada

A reader sends along this photo from Hailfax:


Whackjob Politician o' the Day

Ain't that America.

Will Obama lose every swing state?

These guys think so.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Breaking news: Jefferson Smith's record is still bad

How many times is the O going to flog this story? If Mark Wiener is paying them by the word, Char-Lie Hales will soon have to hit Homer up for some more Benjamins.

Portland school kids can already get fluoride for free

It says so right here and here.

A daily fluoride tablet program is offered upon request at no cost to schools or families.

But the Admiral has decided that it's going in everybody's water, for the sake of kids' teeth, and so you'll have to waste a year of your life to try to stop him.

Dead trees, live prospects

While the O slowly folds, Bob Pamplin's starting up a new rag in Hillsboro, and the Willy Week boys just bought one in North Carolina.

Multi-modal misery

Here, as a followup to our earlier post, is an interesting photo of the eastside streetcar in "action" -- taken a few months ago and forwarded by a reader. It is at the US Bank branch at 633 SE Grand Street. They were test running the streetcar. A truck had parked by US Bank. The streetcar was stranded waiting for the truck driver to return and move his truck. As the photo shows, the streetcar operator was afraid to pass the parked truck.

Looks like bad design to us.

All aboard for Epic Fail

Portland's new east side streetcar looks like a dud before it even starts running:

When streetcar officials pitched the city for Central Loop funding five years ago, they promised transit that would arrive at stops every 12 minutes — about the same as current service in the Pearl District.

But waits on the new line could be as long as 18 minutes on weekdays, 17 minutes on Saturdays and 20 minutes on Sundays.

Records show the new eastside route will so tax the system that the existing routes will run even more slowly: The westside streetcar from Northwest Portland to Portland State University will arrive every 14 minutes instead of the current 12 to 13 minutes.

And Tri-Met riders on the no. 6 have already told the transit agency that they don't want to ride the streetcar:

TriMet is showing signs of lost faith in the streetcar’s performance. The transit agency had considered cutting service on its No. 6 bus, which runs along the eastside streetcar lines.

But TriMet officials now say they will increase No. 6 service. "We did informal onboard interviews with riders and chose not to pursue that realignment," says Ken Zatarain of TriMet’s service division.

What an enormous waste of time and money. But that's what you get when you put guys like Char-Lie and Earl the Pearl in charge of anything. Their buddies get to siphon out of taxpayers' pockets, with little or no public benefit coming as a result.

$60 a year to park in front of your own house? "You wanted it."

The City of Portland will stop at nothing to squeeze more money out of its residents. Here's the latest ploy:

1. Encourage real estate weasels to build massive cr-apartment bunkers in residential neighborhoods, without off-street parking.

2. Install parking meters at every commercial location in town.

3. When parking on neighborhood streets becomes impossible, act like you're doing the neighbors a favor by issuing parking permits to them so that they can park on the street near their homes.

4. Charge $60 or more per year per permit.

5. Rinse and repeat.

It's bad enough that that's what the politicians and bureaucrats are pulling, but it's truly maddening when they act as thought it's something the neighbors wanted. Hey, they didn't want it until they were forced into it by steps 1 and 2. But it will be easy to get the local reporters to take the bait, and if City Hall says it enough times, it will eventually become the meme: "The neighborhoods asked for it."

Underdog game is on

We've gotten about a dozen and a half expressions of interest for another year of our charity pro football underdog game, and so it's a definite go. We'll get the official rules posted over the next few days. If you've already written us to say you're in, stand by for further instructions, which you'll get by e-mail; if you're interested and haven't written in yet, please shoot us an e-mail message at underdog@bojack.org so that we can reach you.

The idea of our game is simple: Each week, you pick one NFL underdog team whom you predict will win its game outright. If you're right, you get the number of points that your 'dog was favored to lose by; the players with the most points at season's end win. The prizes are the rights to designate one of the charities that will receive the entry fees our players pungle up (a Jackson apiece) at the start of the season. All proceeds go to charity; our winners get only glory. Last year a reader subsidized the kitty with an additional contribution, and our players' charities got $910.

If you think you know pro football, here's your chance to show off. And if you don't, you can still do well -- there's more than a little luck involved. You're cordially invited to watch the Big Daddies in a whole new light. The season kicks off two weeks from today.

Clackistan commissioners go total rogue

The irresponsible behavior of the Clackamas County commissioners, discussed here yesterday, got even more astounding later in the day with the news that they're planning to run out and sell bonds two weeks from tomorrow for a $20 million contribution to the Tri-Met Mystery Train to Milwaukie. They've already had Moody's rate the bonds, and the Wall Street machinery is up and running. The commissioners are rushing to get their share of the funding of the light rail boondoggle completed before the county's citizens have a chance to vote on it come the 16th 18th.

It's outrageous and juvenile behavior on the part of these politicians. We remember the Mean Girls of the Multnomah County commission playing this kind of edgy game a few years ago. They all got booted out of office -- deservedly so.

In addition to hurting the re-election chances of two incumbents on the board, the latest shenanigans by the Clacky commission shine a light on some interesting legal questions. For one thing, it just so happens that the county is selling $18 million in other bonds, today, and we can find no mention in the official sales pitch for that borrowing of the pending vote that would call into question the county's ability to keep its supposed financial commitment to Tri-Met. There's also no apparent mention of the litigation that is likely to ensue if the initiative passes, or the fact that the county's contract with Tri-Met has been the subject of a sudden renegotiation as of just last week. It's curiously thin disclosure, and one wonders whether it's adequate to inform prospective bond buyers of all the material facts surrounding the county's finances.

The other legal question that's come up is whether the commissioners are using county resources to fight the pending ballot measure, in violation of state elections laws. They've hired a p.r. firm to spin the facts surrounding the Mystery Train, which is what the ballot measure is mostly about -- is that illegal? If it is, has Oregon secretary of state Kate Brown gotten around to adopting the rules that she previously bungled so that the elections laws can be enforced? Or has she been too busy with other things, like issuing press releases and running for re-election?

In any event, it's a bare-knuckles donnybrook in Clackistan now, and if the the politics down there take an even sharper turn to the right as a result of it, we won't be surprised. The crew running the show at the moment are truly asking for it.

Let them eat cake

With all the hard feelings swirling around the hideous cr-apartment bunkers being slapped up, without any off-street parking, on Division Street in southeast Portland, it's a pretty dumb time for this innovation:


Coal wins again

It's unhealthy, but it's hard to stop.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Vestas lays off another 30 in Colorado

That gets them up to around 120 this month, apparently.

UPDATE, 8/22, 2:49 a.m.: And it's just been announced that they are planning another 1,400 layoffs around the world. This story says that about 20% of the new cuts -- 280 positions -- will be in the Americas.

A scary Portland corner gets a controversial fix

The car-vs.-bike rhetoric is flying hard and fast over the City of Portland's decision to prohibit right turns off North Broadway onto North Wheeler Street for the sake of bicycle safety at that corner. It's actually a sensible change. We can tell you from our semi-regular jogs through it that that intersection is downright hazardous for anyone not in a motor vehicle. Cars are positively flying down Broadway and flying off southbound I-5, at speeds not conducive to interactions with cyclists and walkers. Moreover, it's a five-corner intersection with North Flint Street, and there's a bend in the road there that puts pedestrians in a blind spot. Turning vehicles onto Wheeler add to the trouble.

A lot of what makes the traffic change so controversial, of course, is that the car haters of Portland City Hall have turned everyone off with their twisted priorities, poor management, lies, and outright corruption. And so when Mayor Creepy makes his "I'm saving lives" speech, the presumption is that he is deliberately falsifying matters, doesn't know what he's talking about, or both.

There is no question that a few businesses and residents will be impacted by the change, but not many, and not fatally. They have a right to be unhappy. But as long as the Broadway Bridge is frequented by cyclists, drivers along that stretch of Broadway need to be careful -- more careful than some of them have been. And sometimes you just have to "becalm" them with inanimate roadblocks, because expecting substantial traffic enforcement from the city's police bureau, also managed by the mayor, is delusional.

Oregon brewery stirs up "urban renewal" debate in Boise

The scams, it seems, are universal.

Fun Congressional Factoid o' the Day

The "legitimate rape" buffoon from Missouri is a member of the Science Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives. Along with Suzanne Bonamici.

A visit to the Sam Rand Twins



Continue reading "A visit to the Sam Rand Twins" »

For a wimpy President, a wimpy attorney general

Nobody ever spoils the bankers' party.

Fish off Japan all Fuku'ed up

Tokyo Electric Power Company is measuring radiation exposure in fish and shellfish caught within 20 kilometers of the troubled plant from March this year....

The utility says it detected 38,000 becquerels per kilogram of radioactive cesium in a rock trout caught about 1 kilometer off Minamisoma City on August 1st.

The level is 380 times the government safety limit, and the highest so far in the firm's surveys in the area. The previous high was 18.8 times.

The operator also says it found radioactive cesium exceeding the safety limit in 9 kinds of fish and shellfish.

Enjoy that Northwest salmon while you can.

Desperate soccer moms

Here's a sign of the times at Portland's Lincoln High School:

It will be a great day when our schools get all the money they need, and City Hall has to hold a bake sale to buy streetcars.

From the Sam Rands to you, a 20-year mortgage

After eight years on the Portland City Council and 11 years working for Mother Vera, Mayor Creepy has apparently just noticed that shucks, there a lot of unpaved streets in town, particularly on the east side. And thoughtful guy that he is, he's going to do something about the situation, because he's embarrassed by it. He's going to offer the residents out that way a regular paved street and sidewalk for $300 a month for 20 years, or a little strip of blacktop and some gravel for $60 a month for 20 years. He's taking a Facebook poll, isn't that nice?

There -- now he isn't embarrassed any more.

Well, we sure are. Sixty a month for 20 years for a half-assed job? So perfectly Portland City Hall. So pathetic.

If we were mayor (which is never going to happen), there would be no more streetcars, mystery trains, bioswales, or bike coolness until the city started paving those streets, just like it does for Homer Williams and Mark Edlen. That is, at no charge to the people who live on them. We would come up with magical "cost savings" to pay for the program, just like the current mayor does for tomfoolery, but we'd create those savings by laying off City Hall flacks, sustainability policy analysts, and planners, and closing many city offices in rented space. The jobs would be out on the roads.

Shenanigans a-plenty in Clackistan

The Clackamas County commissioners will do just about anything to thwart the will of their constituents, which is against the Tri-Met Mystery Train to Milwaukie. Here they are, facing a September 18 vote on a citizen initiative aimed at blocking county funding for the project, and what do they do? They rework their funding agreement with the transit agency, in the dog days of summer, and rush it onto a special meeting agenda tomorrow night for hasty approval, before the public vote. Then they'll try to run out and borrow something like $20 million and fork it over to Tri-Met, the initiative be damned.

It's hard to imagine the bond market being too receptive to bonds with a huge dark cloud over them. But apparently the commissioners are thinking that they can get their borrowing done despite the unprecedented uproar.

This is the same board of commissioners that recently threw a decoy measure onto the ballot to try to confuse the public when they voted overwhelmingly to curb "urban renewal" scams. And it's the same board that keeps blowing oodles of public money to come up with legal opinions that forecast a parade of horribles if the citizen's initiatives pass. The voters aren't buying any of it, but the politicians keep the legalese coming.

Oregon's initiative processes are messy, but if you're an elected official or a bureaucrat, they come with your public paycheck. The behavior of the commissioners has been downright shabby. No wonder they get their heads handed to them time after time at the ballot box. In this case, the only decent thing for them to do would be to wait for the outcome of the ballot measure election, and heed the voice of the electorate. But decency doesn't seem to be part of culture at the county board these days.

One thing is for sure, however: Win or lose on the light rail vote, the two incumbents who are currently up for re-election deserve to be tossed out on their arrogant fannies come November.

Anybody up for the underdog game this year?

We're thinking about running our charity pro football underdog game again this year. We were reminded of it the other day when this came in the mail -- an 8 by 10 print of Poppy:

It's a long story. But anyway, the game will be pretty much the same as last year. Players kiss $20 goodbye -- it all goes to charity -- and slug it out, season-long, for glory and the right to designate which charity gets the pot. With enough players, we can have multiple charities benefit, as we have in past years.

If you're interested, give us a holler via this e-mail link. We'll get this year's official rules and all that posted in a few days. The NFL season starts two weeks from tomorrow.

And if there are any game creators out there who might be able to help us automate the proceedings, please, let's hear from you. We'll make it worth your while.

Mariners are better without Ichiro

Since they traded their Japanese star to the Yankees, the Seattle baseball team has won 17 and lost 8. Over the last 10 games, the M's are 8-2. Before they traded Ichiro, they had won 42 and lost 56.

The Yankees are 15-12 since the trade, including 6-4 over the last 10 games. Before the trade, they had been 57-38.

Monday, August 20, 2012

West Hayden Island terminal is the next Convention Center

Too many cities chasing too few bucks:

After talking up port projects in ways that sound a bit like the overblown economic predictions about new stadiums and convention centers in recent years, some officials are now scaling back their claims. After Hurricane Katrina, Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi trumpeted plans for a "port of the future" at Gulfport with a 50-foot-deep channel, redirecting some $600 million in federal housing disaster funds on a project he pledged would spur the economy and create bountiful jobs. A state official at the time called it "the single largest economic-development project in the state’s history," and officials predicted that it would surpass the Port of Los Angeles.

Today, Mississippi and the port are being more modest. The port recently noted that it is not pursuing the announced plans to dredge the channel to 50 feet, and because of lapsed maintenance, the channel does not even reach the depth of 36 feet authorized by law. The port is now focused on improving what it has instead of expanding greatly, and plans focus more on the cascade effect as smaller ships are crowded out of the major ports by the new superships.

And little Portland, of course, is at a distinct disadvantage because of its location.

If the Port has so much money to burn, maybe the legislature ought to raid some of it for renovating unsafe public school buildings. Or perhaps the people need to do so by initiative.

Dean Wormer crawls back in hole

The knuckleheads in the administration at UC Nike have been outed and routed.

A-HA-ha-ha!


Farewell to Phyllis Diller, 1917-2012.

Snake oil: It's good for the planet

It used to be that in advertising, sex sold everything. Maybe not so any more. These days there's another commodity that's being used to peddle all sorts of junk. And some real scoundrels are using it.

Take this excerpt from the obscene $25,000 consultants' study bought by the desperate U of O administration in its effort to twist students' arms to support a student union construction boondoggle -- construction that the students have twice voted down. Here are the cynical "hot words" and "cold words" that the political experts have commanded the supporters of the project to use, and refrain from using, in campaigning in the next student body election. And yep, the new sexy is in there:


Here comes prosperity

If you were worried about the state of the Portland economy, buck up. Here's reassurance that great things are just around the corner.

The city "is fast becoming a central hub and destination for young, educated workers who want to succeed in the technology sector," Blumenauer said in a news release. "High-tech innovation and investment are key to keeping our businesses and communities strong, and public-private partnerships, coordination, and discussions are a vital part of growing our successes."

People here "want to succeed," all right. But with Earl's many "public-private partnerships, coordination, and discussions," only The Network actually gets a chance. Go by streetcar!

Convention Center Kool-Aid leaves bitter taste in North Carolina

The Charlotte convention facility -- including the hotel that was supposed to pull it out of its doldrums -- has been a flop:

In the summer of 1997, the Charlotte City Council listened to a presentation from a new consultant about why its center was underperforming.

The consultant, Jeff Sachs, who is managing partner of a Georgia-based firm, Strategic Advisory Group, told council members they were "one-third of the way there" and that they "have some work to do regarding this and they need to step in the right direction."

That work included building a hotel nearby so convention attendees wouldn't have far to walk. The city decided to invest $16 million in building the 700-room Westin, which opened in 2003. That was about 10 percent of the hotel’s construction cost....

The opening of the Westin produced some short-term increase in business, though nowhere near projections. Bookings then receded to levels before the hotel opened.

But it's going to be different in Portland. Really! So ignore common-sense discussion like this, Portlandia. Waylon Hughes and Psychedelic Rex know better:

The construction of the Westin and the Crown Ballroom pushed up the city's total debt payment on the Convention Center to roughly $22 million annually.

In fiscal year 2011, if the center's costs were divided by the total number of hotel rooms booked, the taxpayer cost per room would be $210.

That means each time a convention attendee booked a hotel room for one night, taxpayers had essentially paid for that room.

And for meetings in which hotels lowered their rates significantly, which is common, taxpayers also bought their breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Can't wait. Go by streetcar!

Potheads helping Republicans

They changed Dwight Holton's plans. Is Kate Brown the next one to get Bogarted out?

Unicorns pooping rainbows

Wouldn't it be luverly if there were a bike trail up the slope a ways from where the railroad tracks run through Sullivan's Gulch? The City of Portland and the Metro regional government are throwing money at that idea now. Here (in a big, slow pdf file) is a quarter million dollars or more worth of consultant time on the subject -- CH2M Hill, of course. The liars' budget for the construction alone is $37 million, and that doesn't count what they'd have to pay to condemn beaucoup land from an outraged Union Pacific Railroad. It will never happen, but that doesn't mean they won't blow millions studying and "planning" it.

Apartment pushers want another stop light on NE Broadway

It's unavoidable: The new human warehouses being proposed for the southwest corner of NE 33rd and Broadway in Portland are going to make a frustrating traffic situation even worse. And about the only solution the developer types can offer is a new traffic light just a block west of the existing signal at 33rd, so that the tenants and Subway sandwich customers can turn left when they're coming in from the east on Broadway and off the freeway.

It doesn't sound like such a hot idea:

When the site, a reclaimed brownfield, was rezoned in 2003, a traffic study found a light at the 32nd property line wouldn't work because it was too close to the light at 33rd, said Lauren Jones, a Capstone representative....

Murray Koodish, president of the N.E. Broadway Business Association, expressed a concern that even with a new light, cars turning left into the site's other entrance could jam up a lane of west-bound traffic....

But without the turn, there's literally no other way in off westbound Broadway without turning little residential Weidler Street across from the nearby Fred Meyer store into a heavily used through street.

The proposed building site is an eyesore, and has been for many years, but what's being planned to fill it in doesn't sound particularly appealing:

Neighbors said the design reminded them of industrial-looking condos in the Pearl District.

At least they say they'll have parking:

Designers have planned 271 parking spaces for the apartments and more for the shops.

Given the way the side streets have been blocked off for the Fred Meyer, and the cliff dropping off to the MAX tracks in the back of the property, off-street's parking's a physical necessity. There's simply not much adjacent neighborhood left to wreck.

More cars mean more hassle for the many cyclists who navigate over the freeway at 28th, just a few blocks west. Despite their numbers, folks on bikes are not given a dedicated lane near already busy Broadway. It gets a little dicey, and the more motorized traffic in the vicinity, the dicier the biking will become. So far we haven't seen any estimate of how many new cars the development would bring to the area.

U of O administration mindscrew makes national headlines

A well deserved moment of ridicule for some world-class bungling by the overpaid suits running UC Nike. That school is darn lucky to have some brave faculty members who are unafraid to blow the whistle. Alas, they're having to blow so frequently lately that their cheeks are probably starting to hurt.

The blogfather

One of the first blogs we ever got hooked on was Tony Pierce's busblog down in L.A. We don't get to that one as much as we used to, but when we do, we are always rewarded.

even when my carpal tunnel was so bad i needed physical therapy i kept blogging. why? because no one else is going to tell my story. no one else sees the world like i do. likewise i feel a need to lead by example because no one sees the world like you do or erin or danielle or the pants or etc.

and isnt the blogosphere a sadder place minus the pants?

sure there are negative effects of always being out there. for one youre a sitting duck. its so much easier for people to just lay back in the weeds and take shots at you when youre being vulnerable and taking risks.

blogging regularly and especially keeping it real puts your job in danger, and personal relationships, and future jobs and future relationships. but f being safe. f being scared of everything.

Last fall Tony moved on from the L.A. Times to the Southern Cal public radio. They, like we, are lucky to have him.

Big shoe may drop at Vestas Wednesday

That's when the company's first half earnings report is due.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Comment of the Day

About the "legitimate rape" buffoon in Missouri: "Who does this guy think he is? The Pope?"

Who needs the Royal Rosarians?

Portland has so many ambassadors, on duty 24/7/366. Their many greetings are being collected here.

From Matt Wuerker


Copyright 2012 by Matt Wuerker. Used by permission.

Thank goodness, this could never happen now

Corruption in awarding large public construction contracts in Portland! That era is long since past. Everything is squeaky-clean nowadays.

Dean Wormer had nothing on these guys

The folks running UC Nike are a sorry lot. Here they are, waiting for the ax to fall on their football team's awful recruiting violations, when out comes this story. The university administration has hired a political consulting group to try to influence a student referendum on building a new student union building. The consultant's suggested strategy?

painting opponents of the project as "narrow minded," "stuck in (the) past" and "stubborn," and... the pro-renovation campaign should focus on the theme "keeping up with the Pac-12" in student buildings.

There has been a lot of sad news from Eugene in recent years, but this is nothing short of pathetic. And for what end? A juicy contract for the construction company goons that own government in Oregon?

More on Portland pool lifeguards

Our knowledgeable reader base provides us with invaluable information all the time. Our post of yesterday, wondering about lifeguards at public pools in Portland, drew two interesting responses:

There are two competing national certification programs for lifeguards, Red Cross and Ellis & Associates. Ellis is by far a more rigorous and higher quality certification standard. PP&R has mandated Ellis certification for its lifeguards for at least 12 years now, if not significantly longer.

The Florida incident involved a city that outsourced its lifeguarding to a sister Ellis company, Jeff Ellis Management, which is different from the company that provides the national certification standard, Ellis & Associates, Inc.

Given the current structure of PP&R's aquatic department, it seems pretty unlikely that the city would ever actually outsource management of its pools and lifeguards to Jeff Ellis Management. However, continuing to require certification through Ellis & Associates will certainly not be changing anytime soon.

**********

My daughter has worked for Portland Parks as a lifeguard for 7 years. Ellis and Associates is a very good company (they are competitors with Red Cross). They take their training seriously, and monitor life guards skills very closely. Have nothing bad to say about them.

However, Portland Parks -- the way they schedule/pay/treat their lifeguards is a different story. They routinely schedule guards for over 40 hours a week, then REFUSE to play overtime (it is the lifeguard's problem to find a sub, sometimes they let the guards flex time to the next week). This happens all the time. Isn't that practice against the law? That is something you may want to ask Portland Parks about. My daughter sometimes come home after working 11 hours in one day, and you guessed it -- no overtime!!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Facebook Post of the Week


Sign o' the times in SE Portland

Even the young people down along Clinton Street are tired of the cr-apartment weasels stealing their livability:

You tell 'em, folks. Sensible land use rules for the outskirts of town can co-exist with rules that preserve inner city neighborhoods. Don't let the planning puppets tell you otherwise.

Are Portland pool lifeguards being outsourced?

Here's something new on our City of Portland radar screen: For the first time we can recall, the city's parks department is boasting about its "lifeguards, certified by the prestigious Jeff Ellis & Associates." Ellis is a private company that's been in the news lately, and not in a good way. Does anybody out there know what its involvement is in the Portland public pools? And what the back room deal for the future might be?

Coal's OK with DeFazio

He goes with the argument, "They're going to wreck the environment anyway -- we might as well make some money off it."

"Maybe if we sell hats and bottled water..."

Are you familiar with the expression "Let's blow this pop stand"? Now at the Portland airport:


Friday, August 17, 2012

Buried in the Friday night news

Do you believe this line of malarkey?

Clary said he saw Simms put his left hand on the steering wheel. At some point, Clary, who was looking at Simms through an open front passenger window of the car, said he saw Simms reach down with his right hand.

"And he starts to reach around like he's fishing around. And I can't tell what he's doing, but it worries me," Clary testified.

"I'm like, 'Oh, my God, he's reaching for a gun,'" Clary told the jury.

Clary said when Simms' right arm "starts to raise up" and "reaches to a certain level at that door is when I fired."

He said he fired two quick bursts of rounds.

"That's when it seems like he just laid on the accelerator," Clary said.

Clary said he was unable to warn Simms that he would be shot if he didn't follow police commands. Police are trained to do so, if feasible.

"This all evolved so rapidly, that I didn't, I didn't have the time to express those amount of words even," Clary testified.

We're sorry, but we don't buy any of it. Not that it matters. This is being handled by the Schrunk-Underhill Multnomah County DA's office, which never indicts killer cops, no matter how unjustified they are in wasting human life.

Have a great weekend


Portland wins first round in arts "income tax" game

A judge has ruled that the proposed Portland city tax for the arts is an income tax and not an unconstitutional head tax. If ever a ruling was apt for an appeal, that is it. Surely if the dumb thing passes, it will be back in court.

Alta can't get bike share computers to work

The much-heralded New York bike share program being set up by Portlandia's bikey wunderkinder is being delayed until next spring, apparently because of software problems. Alta faces similar issues in Chicago and Chattanooga.

Once the big city street people get their hands on the bikes, software will be the least of the problems.

The City That Works You Over, cont'd

Fish said many hard-working families can't pay for fluoride.

Well then, for Pete's sake, Nick, let's give the poor people free toothpaste. It would be way cheaper and avoid upsetting a lot of folks. Why is the most intrusive option always the first choice of the Portland City Council for a solution to any problem?

One-nighter

We're heading home this morning from a remote location where we've been for the last 24 hours. There's a big river nearby, and smoke in the air. Surprisingly, it's been a few degrees cooler than in Portlandia. Our business mission's accomplished; a couple of short flights, and we'll be home. So where do you think we have been?

How many invalid surveys does it take to make a valid one?

We blogged a while back about "Oregon's Kitchen Table," yet another online survey system, like the Metro government's "Opt In" site, that asks loaded questions of self-selected wonks and hopes the answers are what the planning overlords and politicians want to hear. We just noticed from a related site who's behind "Oregon's Kitchen Table" -- it's "a project of the College of Urban and Public Affairs at Portland State University." The patronage center! Mike Burton! Vera Katz! Soon, Sam Adams! And with an advisory board that's got all the usual establishment suspects.

The whole thing's kind of silly. But natter on they must. Here they are, unveiling the results of one of their surveys -- in three installments, no less. The suspense is unbearable!

The whole thing just screams "agenda," but at the moment, it's not entirely clear what that agenda is. Governor Retread's on board, however, and so it's definitely something Goldschmidtty.

Jefferson Smith gets Wienered, but not well-Wienered

All of a sudden the O is interested in Jeffer-Sam Smith's driving record. It's curious, in that we dug through a lot of that nearly a year ago. But it's understandable, given that Smith's opponent, Char-Lie Hales, has his political consultant, Mark Wiener, on Smith's case. Planting dirt with the local media, who are all too willing to go along, is a Wiener specialty.

Reporter Beth Slovic's article points out that Smith has been extraordinarily vague and evasive when asked how bad his driving record has been. And Slovic's review of the state motor vehicle records show that his driver's license has been suspended no fewer than four times:

Portland mayoral candidate Jefferson Smith has had his driver's license suspended four times, most recently in 2010.

Smith, also a two-term state legislator representing east Portland, acknowledged shortly after jumping into the mayor's race last September that he had a suspended license in March 2004.

But newly obtained records from Oregon Driver and Motor Vehicle Services show that suspension plus three more: two in July 2004 and one in May 2010.

If Slovic had poked around some more, there was more driving dirt to be found. Smith was cited for driving while suspended, blew off court dates for traffic infractions, and at one point had his elderly father appear on his behalf in court -- even though the father's status with the state bar did not allow him to represent clients in court at the time.

Smith's legal problems go far beyond a "bad driving record." Driving while suspended and blowing off court dates while a member of the bar show an extremely unhealthy contempt for the legal process. He's lucky he didn't get himself reprimanded, or worse, from the bar authorities. Slovic still isn't getting the whole story.

Ryan spells "potatoe"

Eddie Munster could turn out to be a lot funnier than we first thought.

Let's hope Stenchy has had his shots

No doubt Sustainable Susan and her crew have a speech already rehearsed for when this kind of problem shows up next to the sacred green bins.

The thrill is gone

Mitt Romney's naming of Paul Ryan as his running mate has galvanized a lot of people on the left, but what's going on in the middle? For the President's backers in the blue states, this news from Iowa can't be good.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Nutsy screws up another one

We wouldn't trust this guy with 10 bucks, much less the budget of the City of Portland.

Headline of the Week

We hate it when this happens.

Sweet gum tree takes out a jogger in Duniway Park

You talk about being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

There are two of these trees in front of our neighbor's house. She'd love to be rid of them, but of course, the City of Portland won't let her replace them with something less dangerous. We've already had some close calls with big limbs coming down. One of these days...

Fluoride in Portland water is a done deal

Unless concerned citizens bust their tails to circulate and get petitions going to stop it, the addition of fluoride to the city's water supply is definitely going to happen. Admiral Randy's hellbent on doing it, and his puppet Mayor Creepy will no doubt follow suit. Today Commissioner Jelly Fish gave fluoride the thumbs-up. Portland government will not be out-nannied!

Portland, perfect for people who have no life

A reader sends along an interesting exchange that his wife had with the Portland planning and sustainability bureau yesterday. It started when she posted this on a city web page that invited readers to "Submit a Garbage, Recycling or Composting Question":

This is not a question, but a complaint regarding every other week garbage pickup. As a small family of 3 with one in diapers and 2 dogs, I have never been a fan of the increased time during collection. We had to upgrade the size of our can and therefore have to pay more even though now we are provided with less service.

The smell surrounding the bins and when depositing bags into our garbage receptacle is putrid. This disgusting smell from both our cans and our neighbors wafts into our home. There have been an increasing number of flies and other bugs near our bins. During the summer heat that we've been having, this is just completely unsanitary. We pay money for a sanitation service and I don't feel that it is being adequately provided.

We have been noticing at times that the entire neighborhood reeks of garbage! It is disgusting.

I hope the city strongly considers at least making it an option to return to weekly garbage service.

She got back a remarkable response -- preposterous, really:

RE: City of Portland TrackIT Submission: Office of Sustainable Development Item 618409

Hello M***,

Thank you for contacting Waste Info.

I’m sorry to hear that you’re having problems with fruit flies. I know they can be very annoying. Fruit flies are common in kitchen areas, but there are ways to control them and make your kitchen a less desirable home for them. There are also ways to manage your composting cart outside to deter flies. We did answer questions about fruit flies from a few customers during the summer months of the pilot. So far, we’ve had success in controlling them. Additionally we’ve learned some tips from businesses such as restaurants that keep large amounts of food scraps in their kitchen areas for composting.

Inside the house:

First, keep your kitchen pail tightly closed when you are not using it. You may want to store your pail in a cabinet when you are not actively using it. Also it is important to empty your pail frequently into your Portland Composts! Roll cart. You may choose to use a kitchen pail liner such as newspaper, paper bag or approved compostable bag. This will cut down on some of the mess in the pail. After you dump your food scraps into your composting cart, be sure to rinse and dry kitchen pail before starting to use it again. If fruit flies persist, you may decide to trap them. You can do this by filling a small jar with apple cider vinegar, covering the jar with plastic wrap. Secure the plastic wrap to the jar with a rubber band and poke a few holes in the top of the plastic. Fruit flies will be attracted to the vinegar and once inside the jar, won’t be able to get back out. Remember, fruit flies are attracted to fruit that has gone bad, so if you store fruit in the house, be sure to keep an eye on it and quickly compost any pieces that may have spoiled.

Outside the house:

You can wipe the inside of the cart lid with essential oils such as citronella, clove or tea tree oil, which are natural insect repellents. You may want to consider layering your food waste with yard debris (lasagna style) or adding sheets of newspaper before and after you place food scraps in the cart. Keeping food scraps contained (and less accessible) to fruit flies is easier if you use a kitchen pail liner. If possible, store the cart in the shade. Some residents found, during the pilot, that sprinkling baking soda in their carts helped keep odors down which makes the cart less attractive to flies. Perhaps the most important action is setting out the cart weekly for collection. When the cart is empty you can place a pizza delivery box or newspaper in the bottom to soak up liquid and help ensure that all items fall out of the cart when it is tipped into the truck.

We have lots of tips on our web site about cleaning the kitchen pail and the composting cart including a couple of short instructional videos. You can access these resources at http://www.portlandonline.com/bps/index.cfm?c=47246&a=371147

A helpful hint for the garbage cart outside: first be sure to rinse any food container before placing on the curb. If you eliminate the food source, the flies will cease to gather. I make a habit out of rinsing out cans and food take out containers before placing in the can.

I know change can be difficult. But every step we take to reduce what is being taken to the landfills is a step in the right direction. When the program first started I was very sure that it would not work for me. I wasn’t happy about the every other week garbage pickup, as I have cats. After a month or two, I realized that it was actually working for my family. I was making more conscious efforts to take recyclable items out of the garbage cart, and place in the blue recycle bin. That alone made a huge difference. Once I started taking out food scraps faithfully, we were able to actually reduce our service to every 4 weeks. We’ve had it through this summer, and one of the things I changed to help reduce odor was to scoop the litter box more frequently, double bagging smaller portions, and sprinkling baking soda in the bag before I seal it.

We line our cart with the daily paper, and then a couple times a month my husband hoses out the cart.

We do appreciate hearing from people, whether it’s comments and concerns, or helpful hints.

I hope the information above with help with the pest issues.

Regards,
Annette

Our incredulous correspondent reacts thusly:

-- My wife doesn’t mention fruit flies in the kitchen, but the City does in its definitely un-canned response.

-- I would love to know what “success” they have had in controlling flies around garbage cans with two-week old diapers.

-- Annette’s husband must be very dedicated. If you believe Annette, although they only have their garbage picked up once a month (which must mean her cat litter has been baking for four weeks in the sun), her husband lines the cart with newspaper and sprays the garbage can out a couple of times a month. Really? He lines the garbage can, puts garbage in, takes garbage out, hoses out the garbage can, re-lines the garbage can with newspaper, replaces garbage into the can, puts more garbage in, takes garbage out, hoses out the garbage can, re-re-lines the garbage can with newspapers, re-replaces garbage into the can, and then the garbage is picked up by the City? Wash. Rinse. Repeat. X2. Hilarious if true.

There are a million laughs in Portland, so long as you don't live there.

Portland parks: "Don't forget, we're after your money, too"

We're voting no on the crazy Sam Rand head tax for the arts. We're also ix-nay on Portland School Construction Pork Tax 2.0. But for those who might be on the fence about those two money measures on the November ballot, or about the library taxing district (which we support), here's a reminder of what's to come next year: a parks bond issue proposed by Commissioner Nick "Jelly" Fish. No details yet, but the message from the parks bureau is clear: "Save some for us!"

The desperation at the bureau is tragic, given the many streetcars, bike toys, and other frills that the city always has money lying around for. And given the fact that the bureaucrats illegally spent the proceeds of the last bond measure they sold -- it was supposed to fund maintenance, but they used the money for capital projects -- they will be facing an uphill battle from skeptics this time around.

The city borrowed $1 million on a line of credit over the past quarter for parks maintenance.

You, too, can be a scoundrel

Remember Matt Brown? He's the guy who, as an employee of the City of Portland transportation bureau (Motto: "You're breaking up"), blatantly carried water for Homer Williams and Dike Dame as they rammed the financial disaster known as the South Waterfront (SoWhat) District down the throats of Portland taxpayers. Then he went to work, on paper as well as in fact, for Homer and Dikey in their company for a few years. Lately we hear he's been slithering around Lake Oswego as part of the streetcar crew and the awful Foothills condo jungle proposal. And Brown's got his own company now, called Loci (which apparently is the plural of "loco").

We bring this up because we got a come-on in the mail the other day for this event, at which Brown and some others will educate Oregon attorneys on how the fleecing of the taxpayers is done:

The use of public-private partnerships and other alternative economic development incentives is increasing as governments look for creative ways to increase development. In today's environment it is important to be armed with the most recent information so you can make every dollar count. We will show you how to overcome any obstacles you may encounter – including issues surrounding municipal bond financing. Whether you are new to the field or have years of experience, you will walk away with the ability to confidently handle every challenge you face.

One hopes that the training will include how to look at yourself in the mirror in the morning after abusing the public trust.

Busting Nurse Amanda's chops

WW spilled some ink this week making Portland city commissioner Amanda Fritz look bad. This story ridicules Fritz's proposal that the city stop building mega-million-dollar underground water storage tanks and instead simply put plastic covers over the existing open-air reservoirs. It's too late for her to be raising that issue now, the story suggests, because Fireman Randy and his water bureau henchpeople have already starting building the tanks.

The story's right about the facts, but the spin it puts on them is questionable. First, what the city really should be doing is fighting the unfunded federal mandate to cover the reservoirs. Covered drinking water storage has its problems, just as uncovered storage does. The budget-busting construction projects that Uncle Sam is requiring are not needed in Portland. But that argument isn't covered in the story, as if it's too absurd to deserve any attention.

Second, although construction of the underground tanks is under way, that doesn't mean that it has to be seen through to completion. Many more tens of millions of dollars will have to be borrowed and spent to complete the water bureau's pork-filled plans, and there's no reason not to revisit the wisdom of going forward every step of the way.

Third, the story asserts that "[t]his year, the Water Bureau convinced the feds and the state that Portland’s Bull Run water supply didn’t need a filtration system—blunting Fritz's claim she saved the city $500 million." Whatever the merits of the political observation, the fact is that the city bureaucrats had to be forced, kicking and screaming, to request an exemption from having to build the treatment plant. The cozy relationship between the city and water treatment firm Carollo Engineers badly taints its decisionmaking in this area.

But perhaps most importantly, the whole tone of the piece is anti-Fritz. Her good attributes are painted as a facade, and she's faulted for actually having principles.

Fritz has always sought to portray herself as a thrifty commissioner willing to take on big spending and question conventional wisdom at City Hall. Her iconoclastic style has fed her image as an ineffective outsider often on the losing end of 4-1 votes.

That's just five paragraphs into the story.

The boys at WW have never liked Nurse Amanda, and they would doubtlessly love to see Goldschmidt Party darling Mary Nolan run her out of office with all the West Hills money she can amass. But they could be more subtle about it. A lot more subtle.

Besides, when you're on a City Council with the Sam Rand Twins, a real estate tycoon, and a spineless jellyfish, being "ineffective" is a badge of honor.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

New revelations, new charges in Portland parking bribe scandal

In addition to accepting bribe checks, the feds now accuse former City of Portland transportation manager Ellis McCoy of conspiracy and filing false tax returns. And court documents add on to the pile of bribes that McCoy allegedly took. According to Maxine Bernstein of the O:

Former Portland parking manager Ellis McCoy is accused of accepting paid golf trips to Pebble Beach, Calif. and gambling trips to Las Vegas from a senior executive of a Florida-based parking meter company at a time when he was steering multimillion dollar city contracts to the firm, court records show.

McCoy is also accused of accepting partially or fully paid vacations to New Orleans and Honolulu and a three-day trip to Paris between January 2002 and July 2003, according to court documents filed in U.S. District Court in Portland this week.

And his colleagues and supervisors in city government weren't part of the conspiracy? Hmmmmm...

But the situation is not without some high comedy:

Precise Parklink's president Peter Groccia, reached by phone Wednesday night, declined comment when asked if he paid for any of McCoy's trips or issued bribes.

"You're breaking up," Groccia said and hung up.

We may have a new motto for Portland City Hall, folks.

More senseless violence


He hit the ground running

It didn't take Tom "Waylon" Hughes long to make us less than proud that we voted for him for president of Portland's oddball Metro regional government. We thought he campaigned as a change agent, but he immediately signed on to the twisted Metro agenda of streetcars, cr-apartments, and boondoggles like the zombie Convention Center hotel.

Today we learn that he's also jumped right in with the globetrotting on dubious "trade missions" around the world. In a year and a half, he's been out of town on business for 50 days -- by our math, that's about two and a half working months:

In 2011, Hughes went on a trip to Germany, organized by the Portland Business Alliance, aimed at recruiting and retaining businesses and to study energy production from waste materials. That same year, he joined Gov. Kitzhaber's trade mission to South Korea and China.

And his two trips to Japan were with Business Oregon, the state's economic development agency, to meet with corporate officials at Panasonic Eco Solutions, Mitsubishi, Asahi Glass and Sanyo. Metro records say this year’s trip was in honor of Oregon-Japan Friendship Week.

Hughes says his travel helps the region's smaller cities, such as Oregon City and Milwaukie, that "don't have the kind of economic development component in their government that you would find in Portland, Beaverton, Hillsboro or Gresham, for example." (Records show that companies Hughes visited overseas include Daimler and Adidas, which have U.S. headquarters in Portland; and SolarWorld, whose U.S. headquarters is in Hillsboro.)

"The travel I've done, quite frankly, has been pretty hard work," Hughes says. "Flying isn't all that fun. There are a lot of parts of travel that aren't that fun."

Poor Hughes. Suffering his way through Germany beer gardens, and he's doing it all for Milwaukie.

Competition for the RandyLoo?

Bill Gates and Crew have been giving out prizes for new designs for crappers:

The winning design looks like a regular toilet, at least above ground. After use, the waste is flushed down to a holding tank under the floor, where the solid material sinks to the bottom. When the liquid reaches a certain level, it flows through a tube into a "sun-powered electrochemical reactor." The reaction oxidizes the chloride in the urine, killing microorganisms in it....

Hoffman and the Caltech team won a $100,000 prize. The second-place team, from the University of Loughborough in the United Kingdom, won $60,000 for its design, which would convert feces into a type of charcoal. A team from the University of Toronto won third place and $40,000 for a toilet that treats solid waste through dehydration and low-temperature combustion. A Swiss team was singled out for special recognition and won $40,000 as well.

Hoffmann's toilet, which could cost $1,000 or more per unit, is still in the early stages of development, and it is unlikely to proceed to market without changes.

Of course, these are all designed for the third world. In Portland, they'd have to be placed out east of 82nd.

Our Lady of Memorable Design, pray for us

Our alma mater, St. Peter's College in Jersey City, officially became St. Peter's University the other day. Now that they've acquired and set up a number of graduate programs, the Jesuits who run the place decided to upgrade the name. No problem there, but as part of the change, they hired some p.r. outfit to give the school a new "brand." What they came up with is pretty insipid; it looks a lot like this. Or this.

The announcement video, which mildly creeps us out, is here. And here's the new school shield:

Sheesh, could they get any more generic? And egad -- they've erased the peacock! The distinctive mascot of the school for 140 years:

We wish St. Peter's well in its new phase, but whoever's running the symbolism and the imagery should be taken down to Brother Moscato's dump under the Pulaski Skyway and interred next to Jimmy Hoffa.

The river Down Neck

The Passaic River -- the nasty body of "water" next to which we grew up in the Ironbound section of Newark, N.J. -- is the subject of a profile here, written by a fellow with whom we worked in our newspaper days, 40 years ago. The worst of the pollution in the river came from this outfit, a short walk from where we hung out throughout high school. Who knows what we breathed thanks to those guys. But we were smart enough to stay out of the Passaic around there -- o.k., except for that one hot day...

Father Angel is one sick SOB

Just when you thought the Catholic priest pedophilia thing couldn't get more gross, along comes this story.

A weird encounter with the PoPo

Remember Dave Letterman's old routine, "May We See Your Photos, Please"? Well, apparently that shtick has some fans in the Portland police bureau. A dazed reader sent us this e-mail message last night:

I was walking around the South Auditorium area on my lunch hour with my camera. This is something I do all the time. I have a blog where I sometimes post pictures I take in downtown. I took three pictures at Keller Fountain, thinking I would pair them in my blog with some pictures I took back in the '70s when I was in high school, to show how the park had changed, and then went on my way heading south along the pedestrian path where I do a loop around Lovejoy Fountain before going back to work.

As I approached the Harrison Street crossing, I noticed two police watching me, and they approached me. They asked if I had been taking pictures at the fountain, which they explained was not a crime, but they were investigating a report of a suspicious person taking pictures. They asked if they could see my ID, which I handed over to one of the officers who walked away with it, presumably to check if I had a criminal record (I don't). The other officer asked if I would mind letting her see the pictures on my camera, which I handed over to her and showed her how to scroll through the pictures on the memory card. I think she looked at every picture.

She then handed it back to me showing me one that she thought would make a nice postcard. I think they apologized, but I was so shaken up by the experience I don't remember. I felt stupid for being so cooperative, but I wanted them to believe me that I wasn't taking kiddie porn or plotting a terrorist act.

Anybody know what the heck might have been going on there?


Membership has its privileges

A select few Portlanders will get a sneak preview ride on the east side streetcar line today:

And who are these elites?

The rest of us can go down and wave to our money if we want.

Imagine the surprise

If you haven't watched the Portland-Seattle bike thief bust video yet, here's your chance. But note, the audio is not safe for work.

They met their match

We're pleased to relay the news that the friends and family of Joshua Berger, the Portland designer and artist who's recovering from a serious brain injury suffered in a bicycle accident, have met their goal of raising $5,000, and securing a match of that amount from Portland developer Bob Ball, toward Berger's recovery. There's been quite an outpouring of support for Berger, whose progress toward normalcy is slow, expensive, and no doubt difficult, but also steady. The challenge of cobbling together household finances is by no means over. If you're interested in helping, the site is here.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

At Vestas, follow the colored line to your pink slip

It may be just a matter of time before Portland employees of the Danish wind energy equipment manufacturer are faced with this drill.

Window dressing galore

The paving over of prime, publicly owned open space on West Hayden Island for a pointless Port of Portland shipping terminal generated another 211 pages of bureacratic shinola today. Here it is, in all its glory.

Nothing is going to stop the Goldschmidt people at the Port and whichever West Hills cronies they're enriching at the expense of scarce wildlife habitat. Screw the bald eagles, the Network wants it money. And the hypocrisy of the supposed "green" types at Portland City Hall in going along with them? Well, it's downright depressing.

Wyden sellout making national splash

Old Gatsby continues to take heat over his health care alliance with Republican VP candidate Paul Ryan. At least today it's from NBC, which is headquartered near the senator's wife and young children, who live in New York City.

Tucson finds skeleton or two in Miller's closet

This is wild: Portland "transportation" bureau director Tom Miller was planning to jump ship and take a similar (but lower paying) job in Tucson, but according to the O, he flunked the background check. Wonder what that is all about. Was it the Brad Malsin beach cottage incident? The Mark Edlen string-pulling incident? Something else?

Congratulations to Tucson for having higher standards than Sam Rand Portland, although to be honest, that isn't too difficult.

The story was on the bikey grapevine more than a month ago, but the O is just running the background check angle today. Wonder what that is all about.

Miller's current job is presumably toast following the mayoral election in November. Thirty-nine years old, he is the former head of the mayor's office staff and an inactive member of the Oregon State Bar. A resident of Portland since 1998, he has been the city "transportation" director for about 15 months.

Radio Free Earl

The Portland congressman with the bow tie and the bike button went on Wisconsin public radio last week to talk about the cities of the future. The show is here -- please let us know if you actually listen to it. We're having trouble bringing ourself to click "Play."

Frohnmayer's tab for lost Deschutes County case: $55,000

We blogged last week about Moneybags Frohnmayer's strikeout in the state bar ethics case he brought on behalf of the Deschutes County commissioners against the county's district attorney. Now that troublemaker guy at UO Matters has dug out Frohnmayer's firm's bill for the fruitless effort -- about $55,000.

That ain't hay.

Moneybags himself bills out at $550 an hour, or $9.17 a minute. His state government pension draw is $21,500 a month, or around 75 cents per waking minute.

Meanwhile, we just noticed that that same Eugene law firm is advising the Troutdale city council as council members try to bounce the mayor over his luxury "storage shed" fiasco. You wonder, with all the alleged hanky panky in local government, why the state attorney general or the U.S. attorney don't get involved. Maybe they don't want to make waves. Meanwhile, the private lawyers do pretty well playing in the dirt.

Does the Gorge need "B&B's, campgrounds, and local hotels"?

Its "friends" apparently think so, but they're making us nervous. Then they go and call it "bringing Europe to the Gorge," which really starts setting off alarms. We like Europe -- in Europe. On top of all that, they inform us that the Gorge now has "partners," and they have a "vision." Yikes!

Maybe the whole thing's harmless, but it certainly doesn't sound that way. It sounds positively scammy.

Wyden still rowing on Denial River

The senior senator from Oregon -- the one with the young family in New York City -- keeps saying that all he and Republican VP nominee Paul Ryan ever did together was write a "white paper," but what they produced was a detailed proposal for legislation that he himself called the "Wyden-Ryan Plan." The 11-page document is here. The press release from Wyden, in which the work was clearly labeled a plan and a legislative proposal, is here.

Those aren't going away. Why Wyden would continue to be angry that people on the left are calling him out on what he did is absurd.

And it's not the only place where Ryan and Wyden are in agreement. Wyden's Wikipedia page, which presumably is at least monitored, if not edited, by his staff, continues to state that Wyden opposes the federal estate and gift taxes -- the "death tax" that so many wealthy Republicans have worked for decades to repeal: "Wyden is critical of the estate tax, which he feels is inefficient, and has voted repeatedly to abolish it."

Wrong on health care, wrong on taxes, and lately waffling on coal, yet Wyden will throw a real tantrum if you say anything about any of it. The guy's starting to look like a wolf in sheep's clothing whose time in Oregon politics may be coming to a close. Certainly the betrayals and the half-truths (at best) are growing tiresome.

About that anti-bacterial hand soap...

... you probably don't want to drink it. The real question is, do you even want to use it? Your Tuesday environmental worry, here.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Yglesias screws up again

The guy at Slate who thinks Portland's economy is doing great also royally screwed up a supposed exposé on Paul Ryan today. Maybe short stories and novels would be better work for him.

New comments policy -- please clean up your act

We love our commenters, but lately more and more readers have been abusing the "Enter" key in leaving comments on this blog. Whether it's careless or intentional, it's ugly, and it's a pain in the neck for yours truly to edit. And so with great reluctance, we're instituting a new policy here, effective immediately: If a comment concludes with one or more blank lines at the end, or two or more more consecutive blank lines in the middle, then rather than clean it up, we are going to take the comment down, without notice, in its entirety. Sooner or later, the serial offenders will get the hang of it.

More weasel moves from Gatsby

When it comes to a meaningful environmental assessment of proposed coal exports, Sen. Ron Wyden (R-N.Y.) is for it, before he's against it.

Multi-modal gang shooting includes bikes

When you're heading out to kill a member of a rival gang, don't drive a gasoline-powered vehicle to get there and back. Consider the benefits to the planet and your health of riding a bicycle instead.

Hales talking sales tax

He seems to fudge a little, but the headline says that old Char-Lie endorsed a statewide sales tax, like the one he paid when he lived in Washington but voted in Oregon. It's "for the children," of course. Meanwhile his crazy opponent, as usual, talked out of both sides of his mouth and managed to say nothing. Score one for Nutsy.

Oompah! City OKs changes at NE Portland Masons Lodge

A hearings officer decides that the renovations proposed by the German American Society at Sandy and 57th won't adversely impact the northeast Portland neighborhood.

Vestas announces more layoffs

Over in Pueblo, heads are rolling at the Euro wind energy equipment manufacturing outfit whose U.S. headquarters is, for the moment, in fancy, taxpayer-funded Mark Edlen digs in the Pearl District.

The Gospel according to Paul Ryan


God bless Sister Megan Rice

She looks evil right in the eye.

Are you good at charades?

If so, this gig at Portland's Metro government may be right up your alley.

Sole survivor

Where 69,999 were lost.

West Hayden Island screw job rolls on

The latest from the conservationists trying to stop the Port of Portland (and its accomplices in the City of Portland) from paving over bald eagle habitat on West Hayden Island:

Welcome to public process "West Hayden Island Style." For the past several weeks the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability has told us that they would allow the WHI advisory committee to review the revised drafts of the controversial West Hayden Island annexation agreements in advance of Tuesday's briefing before the Planning and Sustainability Commission, but that there would be no opportunity for the conservation community to testify. Now, at the last minute, they have reversed course completely-- they will allow one representative from the conservation community to testify, but they will not allow us to see the revised annexation agreements until during or after the hearing... meaning that we will be testifying based on old documents that will be outdated by the time the hearing is over. When you hear the city complain that this process is over time and over budget, you need look no further than this type of bizarre "public process" to understand why.

Enjoy the sunshine and a wonderful picture of a spotted towhee taken by David Redthunder on West Hayden Island. This is one of the species that can be found nesting in the grasslands that the Port says have no wildlife value on West Hayden Island.


Guess who brought the delusional Slate reporter to town

We blogged last week about this drivel -- an article touting Portland's wonderful economy. It basically took one not very meaningful statistic and spun it into a fairy tale about economic progress in our city. To show how perceptive it was, it even glowed with the news that the city's creepy mayor is making progress on the high school dropout front.

A reader alerted us to the fact that the writer in question, Matthew Yglesias, made his brief visit to Portland at the behest of the Bus Project. Given his hearty endorsement of the status quo in Portland, it's almost as if the Bus folks, who do the bidding of mayoral wannabe Jeffer-Sten Smith, are signalling that Smith will stay the course set by the current "management," the Sam Rand Twins. Interesting.

We were also a little surprised to see that the group 1,000 Friends of Oregon was involved in bringing Yglesias to town. We've always mentally cubby-holed 1,000 Friends as a focused, old school watchdog of the state's land use laws -- laws that deserve and need fierce protectors. But a little prowling around on the organization's website shows that the group is currently mixing up and dispensing tankfuls of real estate developer Kool-Aid.

Those huge cr-apartment bunkers without parking that are wrecking Portland's inner east side neighborhoods? 1,000 Friends is applauding them:

Both Portland and Seattle have a variety of market and regulatory tools in place to incentivize good urban development. Tools such as reuse tax credits and demolition fees can promote redevelopment of existing buildings, but ultimately, many developers say removing parking minimums is the most effective way to move new infill or adaptive reuse projects forward. Zoning codes in both cities support reducing parking minimums along frequent service transit corridors, and it is an important tool to ensure that development occurs in target areas....

Along with a packed room, we discussed the economic benefits of removing parking minimums, and how urban growth boundaries have supported the type of development that is right for the Portland region. Yglesias was surprised by the disconnect of the central city and central eastside neighborhoods, and by the commitment to single family residential zoning throughout much of the city....

1000 Friends was honored to co-host Matt’s first trip to Portland, and we will consider his observations as we champion strategies that will promote a more livable, economically prosperous and walkable region.

Icky doodles.

Would Tom McCall support 100-unit apartment complexes with no parking? Would Tom McCall push to marginalize single-family houses? The Bus kids and their 1,000 Friends counterparts are twisting history, spouting gibberish, and creating a Portland that will never be anything but food carts, drum circles, and methadone clinics. The Matthew Yglesias worship should be a big-time alarm for the rest of us about where the hipsters are driving us. And it's too bad that the grownups have apparently all left 1,000 Friends.

Romney to women: Make me a sandwich

Attacking Planned Parenthood was one of the dopiest stunts the Republicans could have pulled in an election year. But there they were, and many of them still are. Including Ron Wyden's buddy, VP candidate Paul Ryan -- not just a Catholic, but a true believer. Second-trimester abortions? The guy won't even let women have the morning-after pill. Seriously. Ryan is more than a little scary on this front:

"I'm as pro-life as a person gets," Mr. Ryan said then. "You’re not going to have a truce. Judges are going to come up. Issues come up, they’re unavoidable, and I'm never going to not vote pro-life."

Ryan's tax plan would eliminate all taxes on investment income. The only people who would pay would be employees and the self-employed. Low-income folks would see their government lifelines scaled back or eliminated. Oh, and while we're up, let's pull the plug on National Public Radio.

But look on the bright side: Stewart and Colbert are going to have a great night tonight.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Reader poll: Did you watch Olympics men's hoops?

Well, the United States has won the gold medal in men's basketball, but for all the hours we spent watching the Olympic games this year, we must confess we did not watch a single minute of basketball. Water polo, gymnastics, swimming, soccer, track -- everything we saw was interesting, and a lot of it was exciting, but the thought of watching LeBron and Kobe just seemed mildly unpleasant, even with Kevin Durant in tow. (We did watch the animated gif of Nicolas Batum going all Jefferson Smith on a guy, but that doesn't count.)

How about you?

How much Olympics men's basketball did you watch?
  
pollcode.com free polls 

What did Madam Marie think?

Here's a Jersey Shore legend that goes back 45 years today.

August


East county tragicomedy reaches new level

Nothing says juvenile like the Troutdale City Council, but they're really outdoing themselves these days. The council has called for Mayor Jim Kight to resign, and vice versa. It's all about a highly questionable "office building" that Kight built next to his home, with bureaucratic acquiescence.

Uncle Phil, how about some more classrooms?

This is a sad statement about what matters and what doesn't at UC Nike:

[C]lassroom schedulers have coped as best they can. They jam classes into departmental conference rooms, lease basement classrooms at a nearby church and at the private Northwest Christian University. They schedule more classes at 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.

At one point, UO officials considered holding classes in two small press boxes in McArthur Court, the old basketball stadium that was superseded last year by Matt Knight Arena....

Meanwhile, construction of major non-classroom facilities has been breathtaking.

The most visible projects, in recent years, have been new sports and sports-related facilities funded largely or wholly by donors: Matt Knight Arena, $227 million; Ford Alumni Center, $33.5 million; and Jaqua Academic Center for Student Athletes, $41.7 million. This year, construction of the $68 million Duck football operations center next to Autzen Stadium is under way.

Sounds familiar. [Via UO Matters.]

Portland drunk nearly killed sleeping in recycling bin -- news headline


Wyden haunted by his Medicare sellout

Did he or did he not release a joint Medicare proposal with now-Republican vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan? It's a little hard to get a straight answer on that this weekend from the 212 area code, where Wyden lives with his family:

I did not "co-lead a piece of legislation." I wrote a policy paper on options for Medicare. Several months after the paper came out I spoke and voted against the Medicare provisions in the Ryan budget.

Senator, that is a load of bullcrap. You know it, I know it, and Bob Dole knows it. Here's the press release that you yourself issued, bragging about "the Wyden-Ryan Plan," which is described in some detail. It was not an academic paper. It was a legislative proposal.

You act as though now that you're 63 years old, people are going to accept you as some sort of great Mark Hatfield-type elder statesman, but seriously. Look in the mirror. Do you honestly think that's going to happen? Paul Krugman called you a "useful idiot." Pretty soon your kids are going to be old enough to read that. You're loaded now. Take the pension and retire. They'll give you a gold watch and you can let a real Oregon and a real Democrat start over in your seat.

It's Mothra, for real

The Fukushima triple meltdown disaster just keeps on giving.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Question of the Day

Can Paul Ryan spell "potato"?

Wyden miffed at Romney snub

Despite being passed over for the vice presidential nomination, Sen. Ron Wyden (R-N.Y.) has been promised a Cabinet position should Romney defeat Obama in November.

Novick's hiring 142 days out

So many parking meters, so little time.

Midsummer 2012, Oregon Coast


Where life begins


Li'l guy


On Cape Kiwanda


On Cape Lookout

Old guy in a Portland coffee shop

A very cool old guy.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Here's a Pisa news

Oregon is only leaning Democratic?

Have a great weekend


By the beautiful sea

We've been mailing it in this past week from the Oregon Coast, where thanks to some great friends we've had a splendid time. As usual, the trip started out as a poker weekend, in which this year the usual suspects let us have some of their cash. Then the family joined us for another round of the delights of the beach. We missed the searing heat in the valley, and didn't get that brisk north summer beach wind until late Wednesday.

Our midsummer adventures here are always mostly the same but just a little bit different. The highlight this year was about an hour of dodging waves in the cold, cold ocean, without wetsuits. When we emerged from the surf, we got to experience what they call mild hypothermia. But a good dinner at a local joint soon fixed that. All in good fun.

Crumbling parks show Portland's decline

The Portland City Council has wasted money on so much junk that nowadays it's a given that the city can't maintain its public fountains. And so private real estate developers have taken up a collection to do it. Of course, the hapless editorial board at the O paints this as a godsend, but really the overall situation is a disgrace.

The reason the city is broke is because it's funneled so many tax dollars to the developers in subsidies of one kind or another. For the real estate sharpies to throw back some little fish, and take some big bows for it, is a sick joke.

'Couv dude really doesn't like election porn

His reaction may land him in the slammer.

Breaking news: Portland economy is doing great

And this reporter ate some excellent mushrooms while he was here:

Portland’s benefited from the fact that some of its local enthusiasms—bicycles, food carts, microbrews, artisanal whatnot—have become more popular nationally, giving a boost to some growing local companies.* The Portland area has also benefited from the region’s green proclivities. Renewable energy has been a growth industry nationwide, and Portland is home to the North American base of Germany’s SolarWorld and Denmark’s Vestas, one of the world’s largest wind-turbine manufacturers.

Whatever, son.

Covered reservoirs not safe, either

Portland city officials are playing scare games with the public about the safety of the city's uncovered reservoirs. But this contamination incident, which the city didn't say a word about until questioned, took place at a covered, underground reservoir. Don't expect the mainstream media to highlight that fact.

Another parting gift from the Sam Rands: fluoride

And you won't get to vote on it without lots and lots of signatures on petitions. The Fireman knows what's best for you. And so once again, you will do as he says.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Reporter-flack door keeps revolving

Jeff Manning of the O is the new p.r. chief for Oregon attorney general Ellen Rosenblum. He takes over where Tony Green worked for ex-AG John Kroger. That's one fewer person with a clue at the Portland daily.

National mail handlers convention in town

It's a tough time for postal employees. They passed up Vegas and Hawaii to hold their national union confab in Portlandia. At least they got a nice little official welcome from Nurse Amanda.

Interestingly, as best we can tell, the meeting is being held, not at the Convention Center, but at the downtown Hilton. Just think -- if only we had a Convention Center hotel, the meeting would have been held at that hotel, and the Hilton and the Convention Center itself would be empty. What are we waiting for, Portland taxpayers?

Portland now charging for street lights

If you think the city is not in decline, consider that neighbors in high-crime areas that lack street lights must come up with $500 if they want one. No money, no light. It's sad.

Party on with Port of Portland and Gunderson

This looks like a fun event. We hear the menu includes West Hayden Island bald eagle.

They Tri your patience

A concerned reader writes:

Afternoon of August 8, a Tri-Met bus came off a side street (marked with a stop sign) onto NE Shaver around NE 132nd causing a collision with a car driven by an older Hispanic gentleman who spoke almost no English.

After the Tri-Met investigating officials determined that the driver of the damaged car was not injured and indeed had a current driver's license and appropriate insurance, the officer assigned to Tri-Met announced to the Hispanic gentleman, "We have to clear the street… you've got to move your car."

A local resident warned all present that among other damage, the collision had caused the car's radiator to empty onto the street and that further damage would be done if someone tried to drive it. Neither of the healthy-appearing Tri-Met male officials offered to help the driver push the car to the side of Shaver where it would be accessible to a tow truck.

I left the scene at this point, wondering how Tri-Met crash investigators felt it appropriate to demand that this older driver push his immobilized car from the center of the street by himself when the crash was caused by the Tri-Met driver. I don't know how the problem of moving the car from the center of the street was resolved, but I hope Tri-Met's next victim isn't an 8-month pregnant woman.

Surprise! Bike share not working as planned in Chicago and NYC

At the moment, it's just startup troubles, but there will likely be problems for this absurd Portland product all along the way.

Moneybags Frohnmayer swings and misses

Former UC Nike prez Dave Frohnmayer is one of the big brontosauruses feasting on the Oregon public employee system (at $21,500 a month), and he apparently is still on the payroll at the university, but that doesn't stop him from practicing law in a private firm, often with public entities as clients. Here's the result of one of his cases, in which he got nowhere on behalf of the local taxpayers who were his customers.

Metro gets to third base with Pamplin

The highly questionable relationship between Portland's goofball regional government and one of its weekly newspapers is on display here. Metro takes surveys for the Pamplin papers; Pamplin papers dutifully regurgitate the Metro propaganda. At a certain point, the line of journalistic ethics is crossed.

We hope the "reporter" here gets a nice government flack position soon. Because he sure isn't in line for any Pulitzers with this kind of product.

From Matt Wuerker


Copyright 2012 by Matt Wuerker. Used by permission.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Quakes popping off Yachats

They're way out there, but there have been a 4.9 and a 4.5 about 250 miles west of Yachats today. There was also a dinky little 1.9 east of Seaside late this morning (but that might have been a quarry explosion). No, we are not all going to die, at least not at the moment, but a 4.9 is a pretty big one.

Long may it wave

The Olympics are providing more entertainment than we could possibly have imagined.

Jefferson Smith picks up major endorsement

A Blazer star shows his affinity with Portland's JFK wannabe.

Among the headlines

With all the goings-on in London, this news item from the swimming competition slipped past us.

Traffic safety in Portland = bikes, bikes, and more bikes

This slow-loading document speaks volumes about the myopia of Portland City Hall. It's a Powerpoint presentation about "high crash safety corridors," but almost immediately it starts nattering about obesity and the health benefits of riding a bicycle. The only reason to make streets safer, apparently, is so that most people won't be as afraid as they currently are to ride a bike in city traffic. It's really breathtaking in its arrogance.

Outrage over parking-less cr-apartments makes the DJC

Even the Portland business publication, which hasn't met too many real estate developers whom it didn't instantly like, is now covering the issue of the many apartment bunkers being built in eastside neighborhoods without off-street parking for their warehoused occupants. But the reporter does spout back the official party line from the clods at City Hall:

The city has encouraged this type of development since the 1990s, when changes were made so that many commercial zones, where residential development is allowed, do not require on-site parking.

When the changes took place, they were widely praised. They were made to encourage use of alternative forms of transportation and to promote multifamily housing. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency had warned Portland that it was not complying with air-quality standards, according to Eden Dabbs, communications officer for the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability.

"We had a real problem with dirty air," she said. "Portland is the way it is now partly because of (the zoning changes)."

Just as potholes save lives in Sam-Rand-speak, so too do soulless, out-of-place, particle board infill projects save the planet. What a joke our city has become.

Portland cop pension mysteries remain

Maxine Bernstein of the O writes about the forthcoming changes to Portland's police and fire retirement plan here. We were hoping for answers to the questions we posed here, but they aren't in her story.

A new coach for the Blazers

The Blazers' search for a head coach had some big moments, didn't it? Jerry Sloan! Phil Jackson! And the winner is...

Terry Stotts?

Stotts is the former head coach of the Atlanta Hawks and the Milwaukee Bucks. His record as a head coach is 115-168. He's knocked around as an assistant coach with a number of teams, including -- Ding! Ding! Ding! -- the Seattle Supersonics. In Paul Allen's world, all great things come through Seattle. Most recently, Stotts has been an assistant coach for the up-and-down Dallas Mavericks.

The new Blazers skipper will likely have some tricks for the team on offense -- tricks that his unimaginative predecessor, Nate McMillan, never had. But Stotts is going to need every trick in the book with the roster he's got in Portland: LaMarcus Aldridge coming off hip surgery and a near-death experience; Nic Batum and his fat, fat contract; and an assortment of bit players and rookies. Stotts has a little over two months to try to make something out of little more than a box of ragtag off-market parts assembled by the Vulcans.

Stotts's career head coaching win percentage is .406. That works out to 33 wins in an 82-game NBA season. A 33-49 record sounds about right for this year's Blazers. We hope for better, but wouldn't bet on it.

The end of the O, as told by Willy Week

The enthusiasm with which the bad news is reported here is a little unseemly. Old grudges die hard, apparently.

For our part, we'll be sorry to see Portland's daily become a three-weekly, or whatever. But we must admit that reading it on paper has turned into a real oddity for us. We've cancelled the free subscription they were delivering to our house. Except for the A&E section, it was just a pile of papers containing stories we had already read on line.

WW hits the nail on the head, however, in blasting the O's website. That thing is bad. And it isn't as if they haven't had time to get it right. They've been at it for a decade or so, and it's still dreadful.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Portland school construction bond -- the new other white meat

The folks who are pushing a major property tax increase to rebuild a few Portland public schools are going through the same odd motions regarding campaign finance limits as the city's two awful mayoral candidates. Somehow this is supposed to make harried taxpayers lose sight of the pork barrel aspect of the whole thing. Good luck with that. Most people who can wrap their minds around the latest gyrations are smart enough to understand what "for the children" really means in Portland.

There's nothing so relaxing...

... as a ride on a Tri-Met bus.

Name that bunker

Here's another bunker going in in Portland. At 33rd and Broadway, already a congested corner, they're going to stack up 196 units, plus retail. Wonder how much parking -- at the rate the city is going, maybe none.

Parking lot or not, it's going to be a clogged up mess. The developer types give these monstrosities names lIke The Merritt or The John Ross. With this one, maybe a Euro flair is in order. How about Le GridLocque?

New honchos for New Seasons

They've created two positions and brought in two new execs. It's hard to tell what it means from the company press releases. No doubt the evolution of the company is continuing. We can't imagine the high price of arugula is coming down any time soon, though.

Portland ramps up line of credit borrowings

The City of Portland is going to the debt well once again this month, this time renewing its annual practice of borrowing nearly $22 million on a short-term basis to pay some of its massive police and fire pension and disability benefits bills. It's a lot like putting groceries on a credit card and never paying down the balance -- while paying an annual fee for the privilege.

In addition to issuing tens of millions in bonds over the last quarter, the city has been busy quietly borrowing money by drawing on its shadowy lines of credit. Between April 1 and June 30, the balance on the city's transportation line of credit jumped from $6.5 million to $18.5 million. One can only imagine what Mayor Creepy and his life-saving bike minions did with that money. The local improvement districts line of credit increased from $5.6 million to $12.4 million, and the park maintenance facility line of credit rose from $439,000 to $1.45 million. Combined, those three lines increased by nearly $20 million, or more than a 157% increase.

A couple of lines went down. Urban renewal dropped from $99 million to $69 million, but long-term urban renewal bonds rose by more than $40 million, and so there was no real decrease in debt there. The same was true of the line of credit for Little Lord Paulson's soccer field: The temporary $12 million line was replaced by the same amount of long-term debt.

Government at all levels is hooked on debt, and Portland, whose long-term obligations now top $11,000 per resident, is an egregious example. Do the city council members understand what they have gotten the taxpayers into? And to the extent they might grasp it, do they care? A yes answer to both of those questions doesn't seem a smart bet.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Fill 'er up

Now might be a good time to do so, because this is probably going to be as good an excuse as any for the oil barons to jack up the price.

Portland Timbers worth $15 million?

In a recent comment thread, we wondered if the Portland Timbers franchise was worth what its owners, the Paulson family, shelled out to set it up. A reader points out that these guys put the value of the Timbers brand at $15 million. The franchise fee was more than twice that, wasn't it?

Lots of questions about proposed Portland cop pension changes

We thought we understood the City of Portland police and fire pension and disability morass, but aspects of this story have us scratching our head. The city's voters are going to be asked this November to make changes to the retirement and disability system, among them:

-- Clarifying the calculation of retirement benefits to include only pay a member received in the year preceding retirement.

-- Changing eligibility for disability benefits for new members after completion of six consecutive months of employment as a sworn employee.

-- Changing the calculation of service credit to not include post-employrnent service by another employer.

We thought that the state supreme court has ruled that you can't change the terms of a government employee's retirement benefits once they're hired, and so how will the first and third changes fly?

And we thought that everyone hired onto the police and fire forces after 2006 were in the state PERS system, rather than the unfunded city system, and so how come we're talking about changing the startup eligiility rule?

Other parts of the proposed revision package appear designed to increase benefits, rather than reduce them. We find the whole thing just a wee bit strange. Maybe a knowledgable reader can help us decipher this.

Homeless in Eugene: the city government

They're still talking about a new City Hall down in Eugene. We wonder how that could possibly happen, given that the local government is so broke it's releasing prisoners.

The talk of a new city office complex down that way has been going on for years. We've always suspected that there was a developer weasel or two in the background with a condo-centric plan for the City Hall property. We wouldn't be surprised to see such a proposal placed front and center in the near future.

In any event, the city will apparently have to vacate the old City Hall pretty soon.

More bad press (sort of) for Occupy

There are a couple of noteworthy angles to this story in the O today. First, it shows how Occupy squatters continue to run wild through parts of Portland. Second, although the O gives a reporter a byline, the copy is taken nearly verbatim from a police press release. We're not sure which angle is sadder.

Speaking of a bad garbage smell...

... a reader sends along this troubling missive from Lake Oswego:

Observations after viewing of the LO City Council Meeting on TV on Friday night. Your post on the summertime odor of the compost cans in Portland reminded me of this. Every time I think we aren't in as deep as Portland, something comes along to shake me up -- again. This is one of those times.

At the July 31 LO City Council meeting, a representative from our garbage franchisee, Allied Waste spoke to the council about renewal of their 10-year contract with the city. However, the current contract doesn't expire until 2014. Councilor Mary Olson questioned why the topic was coming up now, two years early? Why not next year sometime? After all, what was the rush?

Allied Waste of Lake Oswego (a subsidiary of Republic Services) at first explained that they needed to know the business would be there before they ordered expensive, new trucks. But when pressed, the rep said she wanted to deal with the current council rather than start a new relationship with a new council next year when four out of seven positions will be new members to the council.

The council discussed the timing of the request for a while, with the usual suspects wanting to move ahead and entertain talks of a renewed contract that could be completed by year's end. The term is 10 years and is worth about $70 million over the life of the contract. Mayor Hoffman and Councilor Donna Jordan and some young smirky "staff" member were quite giddy about the prospect of new, "cutting edge" waste disposal and composting. LO already has food waste recycling for restaurants in the city, so it is no stretch to see what they want to do to the rest of us while they still have the majority.

This is a win-win for Allied Waste and the stack-em-and-pack-em, streetcar, Williams & Dame, sustainability and urban renewal members of the council. AW gets ten more years of business without going through a sticky bid process, and the politicians get to push their agenda onto an unsuspecting and unwilling populace. What a deal! What a down-right rotten deal, that is. It stinks even before the first piece of chicken flesh hits the inside of a big green can.

Hmmmm... small town... garbage contract... irregular procedures... Is the reader right in being concerned?

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Now we're talkin'

Given the weather, it seems a good time to check how everybody's faring with Portland's new garbage collection schedule. How's your green bin doing? And how about those two-week-old Depends in the garbage can?

Afternoon with Bruce

Several friends have sent us links to this long profile of Bruce Springsteen. One of the friends, who has ridden along with us through most of our 38 years of Bruce fandom, appraised the article as "well written, with lots of access and good insights, and not a puff piece." We finally got around to reading it today, and we agree. It's an interesting story.

Government a la carte

The ballot measure to create a permanent taxing district for the Multnomah County library seems likely to pass. Most of the arguments against it aren't new, and they haven't stopped library tax measures from passing before. Multnomah's library is expensive – yes, but it puts out a great product that many people enjoy and the majority of voters supports. Taxes are already too high, government is already too big, let the private sector handle it – let’s face it, this is Portland, and those arguments, whatever their merits may be, are all nonstarters.

About the only new argument we're seeing this time around is that through the craziness of Oregon property tax "compression," a library district would take money away from other government bureaus. Opponents wheel out the Portland "children’s levy" as a victim, about to lose $1 million a year, but millions more would be drained from City Hall pet projects and the "urban renewal" scam machinery.

Is the "compression" effect going to be a winning argument against the district? We don't think so. If the children's levy comes up short, why couldn't school supporters just ask for a bigger levy next time? If the public really wants the current level of service maintained, it can vote itself a tax increase. And of all people to be crying the blues over raids on its treasury – the City of Portland is ruthless as it creates, expands, and extends its "urban renewal" developer handout programs at the expense of schools and other public services throughout the area.

We didn't like the way the library taxing district concept was presented to the voters two years ago, when the groundwork was laid for this fall's final vote. And we share some folks' suspicions that there is fat in the library budget that ought to be identified and cut. But we're not persuaded that creating the district is a bad idea. In fact, we think it has a certain appeal.

We like the idea of the public getting more directly involved in designating the programs on which its hard-earned tax dollars are being spent. We wouldn't mind if the police bureau got its own taxing district and the fire bureau its own. We'd like to see a street paving district, a street sweeping district, and a mental health treatment district, too. Let’s have all the property tax dollars spent on the services that the public wants, and stop frittering them away on streetcars and bike share programs and other tomfoolery. Anything that "compresses" the fantasies of the city's bloated planning army is aces in our book.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

But it's a dry heat

If it's 99 degrees at 3:00, the century mark is in sight. Wish we could store some of this for February.

Perpetuating the "urban renewal" myth

Headlines like this make "urban renewal" programs -- which are all paid for by property taxes -- sound as though they make money magically fall from the sky. And the text isn't much better:

The new $9 million station was financed almost entirely through the city's downtown urban renewal district, resulting in no direct increases in property taxes for Canby residents or business owners.

"We're proud of how that district works," said City Administrator Greg Ellis. "The district has put about $13 million into local infrastructure and has attracted $80 million to $100 million in private investment."

Money borrowed under "urban renewal" is paid back out of the future property taxes of the district, which "urban renewal" is supposed to increase. Much of any increase in taxes may have come about anyway, even without "urban renewal," and that money is no longer available for basic services, the cost of which is bound to rise.

Certainly in this case, the police station is not paying any property tax, and so the money used to pay for it will be robbed from somewhere else. The reporter here knows that, but he won't acknowledge it. It's so much easier to parrot back the politicians' happy talk.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Have a great weekend


Breaking news: Phoniness from Nutsy

Don't look too close at anything this guy says or does.

Ellis McCoy ready to plead

Wonder if he's taking anybody with him.

While Metro plays pattycake with Hyatt...

... the unions are encouraging a boycott of that particular hotel chain. So which way will "progressive" Portland government go on the zombie hotel? With the West Hills construction overlords standing by ready to take their regular piece of the area's taxpayers' hides, it's hard to predict.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

"I'm off duty" Portland cop finally named

Not by the police bureau officially, but by his peers, many of whom are unhappy with him. His name is Ryan Martinson. His excuse for not getting involved when a robbery was in progress -- not even calling it in -- was reportedly that he had a court date on a traffic ticket. Wow, way to go.

If you can't log on to stream the Olympics

We just blew about an hour trying to get the Olympics to stream to our laptop. We called Comcast three times, got two different people in Rangoon, and were cut off twice. We could get only as far as the first step in the NBC sign-in process. It was asking us to select our TV provider. There was a button there that said Comcast, but when you clicked on it, nothing happened.

We finally found an answer on our own -- on an internet chat board, of course. The Flash player has to be set to "Allow sites to save information on this computer." In Windows, you get there via Control Panel. For us, that solved the problem and brought us the streaming joy -- at least until the inevitable Flash crashes start.

Survey says

The Multnomah County commissioners, dragged kicking and screaming, decided today to put a county library taxing district on the ballot in November.

"Don't celebrate," said County Chair Jeff Cogen. "I don't wanna kid ya, this is going to be a very difficult campaign."

Really? We sincerely doubt that. Even with all the dirty tricks that the "urban renewal" set will play, the library has overwhelming support and will get its district. And Portland City Hall will have less money to waste. Good.

The thanks you get

This is just insane. Shameful.

Egad -- three more months of this

Blah blah blah blah campaign contribution limits blah blah blah blah.

From Matt Wuerker


Copyright 2012 by Matt Wuerker. Used by permission.

Pamplin papers develop a taste for Kool-Aid

Have you noticed that the Portland Tribune and affiliated papers are suddenly much friendlier toward all things Tri-Met, Metro, "smart growth," and so on? Suddenly they and Metro are taking buddy-buddy surveys together. And today, here's a lovely puff piece dismissing the obvious links between light rail and crime:

there's no clear evidence that the new Orange Line will bring a wave of crime to the region.... An increased number of crimes around a new rail line does not always mean that the line was bad for the community.... "There's bigger problems on the street," he said. "You're much safer on transit than you are on the streets of our city."

Amount of space the story devotes to the opposing viewpoint? Little or none.

Does this slant have anything to do with the gigantic contract the papers' sister company, Ross Island Sand and Gravel, got to pour concrete for the light rail bridge boondoggle? It was "the largest continuous pour for the company in more than 5 years. The pour require[d] about 180 truckloads of concrete and a crew of about 20."

Meanwhile, former Pamplin lieutenant Steve Clark continues to sit on the hopeless Tri-Met board, despite the fact that he has long since moved his career to Corvallis. Given the conflicts of interest, we'll be taking the news as reported by the Trib with a larger grain of salt than ever before.

UPDATE, 9:11 a.m.: Clark reportedly commutes from Portland to Corvallis for work -- that's an hour and 40 minutes each way in a car. Quite a character to have running a local transit district.

UC Nike hops into another bed

A reader writes:

I saw a Coors Light billboard on the westbound Banfield between 28th and 21st that had the Oregon "O" logo and said "O so refreshing" and "now a proud partner with your Oregon Ducks." How the heck does that happen? A beer company with a university. I know beer and college go together well, but wow. They don't serve alcohol in the stadium. Maybe they should.

Now, now. The Coors money's probably going to scholarships in anthropology.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Bringing home the gold


Individual honors in the 2 meter dumpster dive.

Tri-Met: Fare increase is "for simplicity"

As any tax lawyer will tell you, simple and more expensive is never as popular as cheap and complicated. But Portland's "transit" and real estate development agency will try to sell you the former anyway:

TriMet said the zone system was put in place decades ago to keep fares affordable for minority and low-income riders who lived in the central city. "Thirty years later," the agency said, "travel and population patterns have changed and the zone system is no longer serving this purpose. Figuring out the zone system can be a hassle, especially if you're not familiar with the area. By changing to a one-fare system where all trips cost the same, riding TriMet will be much simpler and easier for everyone."

The part about minorities is pretty funny, too. Somehow this money grab against poor people is about "equity," too. Uh huh.

Police pensions or gas for patrol cars?

That's a choice they're having to make in Stockton, California. Portland's day is on the way.

The man who stole Duke's gun

Portland police think it's this guy:

47-year-old Erick Duane Johnson was identified through tips from the public after surveillance video and photos were released by investigators. Johnson has a parole violation warrant and there is probable cause to arrest him for Aggravated Theft in the First Degree.

Johnson is described as a white male, 5'7" tall, 185 pounds, short brown hair or bald, blue eyes. Johnson rode away from the store riding a dark-colored mountain bike.

This investigation started on Tuesday July 24, 2012, at 1:55 p.m., when Portland Police officers assigned to East Precinct responded to the report of two guns stolen from Movie Madness, located at 4320 Southeast Belmont Street.

Officers contacted the shop owner who told police that a man came into the shop at approximately 1:15 p.m. and stole two guns used by actors John Wayne and William Holden.

As the Man himself once said, "You can tell him to his face, you can spit in his eye, you can make him eat sand out of the road, you can shoot him in the foot and I'll hold him for you -- but first we gotta catch him."

The agenda is clear

The Portland "transportation" bureau makes no bones about it: It sees its number 1 mission as changing residents' behavior. The only question is how:

Whether it's for public policy or parenting, it's the classic tactical dilemma: do you change behavior with the figurative carrot or stick?

The one behavior change they have gotten quite good at is forcing jobs and families out of the city. What will eventually be left is a really crummy, two-bit version of San Francisco.

Milwaukie baseball idea fades away

Seems like there'll be one less reason to take the Mystery Train to Milwaukie. Minor league baseball will likely be back in the Portland metro area next summer, however, out another way, in Hillsboro.

Willy Week picks up anti-library chant

Portland's middle weekly today sets out the official Portland City Hall case against a Multnomah County library taxing district, here. "It will hurt the children!" Straight from the mouth of their hero, city commissioner Legend Saltzman. On the front page, no less.

They're running cover for Farquaad Cogen, Saltzman spawn and county chair, who'd rather not put the library district up for a vote, but who will catch a boatload of grief if he doesn't.

In the meantime, the following is supposed to get you to not want the library district. It's what the crazy Oregon phenomenon called property tax "compression" takes away from various government agencies. The argument is that the library district will make "compression" even worse. We like the library, but we can't say the same for these birds:

Port of Portland
Taxes expected: $9.9 million
Lost to compression: $162,223

Metro
Taxes expected: $12.3 million
Lost to compression: $223,065

East Multnomah Soil and Water Conservation District
Taxes expected: $4 million
Lost to compression: $146,205

Multnomah County
Taxes expected: $249.9 million
Lost to compression: $9.8 million

City of Portland Permanent Rate
Taxes expected: $211.8 million
Lost to compression: $10.3 million

Portland Urban Renewal Special Levy
Taxes expected: $14.9 million
Lost to compression: $736,226

Portland Fire and Police Disability and Retirement Fund Levy
Taxes expected: $114.2 million
Lost to compression: $5.6 million

Portland Urban Renewal Division of Tax
Taxes expected: $106.4 million
Lost to compression: $9.7 million

Library Levy
Taxes expected: $51.7 million
Lost to compression: $16.8 million

Historical Society Levy
Taxes expected: $2.9 million
Lost to compression: $954,716

Portland Children’s Levy
Taxes expected: $18.8 million
Lost to compression: $7.6 million

Anything that takes property tax revenues away from the Portland Development Commission is a hit in our book.

The louder the argument against the taxing district, the more we like it. Saltzman can cry his crocodile tears "for the children," but all he'd have to do if there were a library district would be to change the city's policies to stop enriching real estate tycoons -- like himself. If it comes down to the PDC or the library, most Portlanders want the library.

If the library taxing district doesn't get on the ballot in November, eventually it will. Library supporters, who clearly represent the majority of county residents, would need to craft another ballot measure that flat out creates the district, rather than handing it to the politicians to decide. That's what they should have done the first time around in 2010, anyway. They told voters they were getting the politicians out of the funding process, but as we pointed out here, that argument was simply a lie. It was one of several told in the first campaign on this question.

There is going to be a library taxing district sooner or later. Saltzman, master architect of the decline and fall of Portland, needs to get used to it.

Shekels from Skamania

Portland mayoral candidate Char-Lie Hales says he's not accepting out-of-state money in his campaign. But he has accepted loans from himself -- loans of $100,000. At least some of that he probably saved up while he was living in Washington State, yet voting in Oregon.

Not what it used to be

This came in the mail the other day:

Compared to four years ago, it seems awfully hollow.

Internet poker dance continues

Here's the latest -- the offshore operators of the most popular poker sites will have to fork over fines and pay money back to the hapless gamblers who thought they had safe accounts but then didn't. The feds are making Claude Rains speeches, but let's face it -- online poker will be back, big time, fairly soon, run by outfits like Harrah's and with one or more levels of government raking in a big cut. Corporate tools like Gatsby Wyden (R-N.Y.) and Earl the Pearl will gladly make it happen.


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In Vino Veritas

Chloe, Pinot Grigio, Valdadige 2013
Edmunds St. John, Bone-Jolly Gamay Noir 2013
Kirkland, Pinot Grigio, Friuli 2013
St. Francis, Red Splash 2011
Rodney Strong, Canernet, Alexander Valley 2011
Erath, Pinot Blanc 2013
Taylor Fladgate, Porto 2007
Portuga, Rose 2013
Domaine Digioia-Royer, Chambolle-Musigny, Vielles Vignes Les Premieres 2008
Locations, F Red Blend
El Perro Verde, Rueda 2013
Chateau Ste. Michelle, Indian Wells Red 2
If You See Kay, Red 2011
Turnbull, Old Bull Red 2010
Cherry Tart, Cherry Pie Pinot Noir 2012
Trader Joe's Grand Reserve Cabernet, Oakville 2012
Benton Lane, Pinot Gris 2012
Campo Viejo, Rioja, Reserva 2008
Haden Fig, Pinot Noir 2012
Pendulum Red 2011
Vina Real, Plata, Crianza Rioja 2009
Edmunds St. John, Bone/Jolly, Gamay Noir Rose 2013
Bookwalter, Subplot No. 26
Ayna, Tempranillo 2011
Pete's Mountain, Pinot Noir, Haley's Block 2010
Apaltagua, Reserva Camenere 2012
Lugana, San Benedetto 2012
Argyle Brut 2007
Wildewood Pinot Gris 2012
Anciano, Tempranillo Reserva 2007
Santa Rita, Reserva Cabernet 2009
Casone, Toscana 2008
Fonseca Porto, Bin No. 27
Louis Jadot, Pouilly-Fuissé 2011
Trader Joe's, Grower's Reserve Pinot Noir 2012
Zenato, Lugana San Benedetto 2012
Vintjs, Cabernet 2010
14 Hands, Hot to Trot White 2012
Rainstorm, Oregon Pinot Gris 2012
Silver Palm, North Coast Cabernet 2011
Andrew Rich, Gewurtztraminer 2008
Rodney Strong, Charlotte's Home Sauvignon Blanc 2012
Canoe Ridge, Pinot Gris, Expedition 2012
Edmunds St. John, Bone-Jolly Gamay Noir Rose 2012
Dark Horse, Big Red Blend No. 01A
Elk Cove, Pinot Noir Rose 2012
Fletcher, Shiraz 2010
Picollo, Gavi 2011
Domaine Eugene Carrel, Jongieux 2012
Eyrie, Pinot Blanc 2010
Atticus, Pinot Noir 2010
Walter Scott, Pinot Noir, Holstein 2011
Shingleback, Cabernet, Davey Estate 2010
Coppola, Sofia Rose 2012
Joel Gott, 851 Cabernet 2010
Pol Roget Reserve Sparkling Wine
Mount Eden Chardonnay, Santa Cruz Mountains 2009
Rombauer Chardonnay, Napa Valley 2011
Beringer, Chardonnay, Napa Reserve 2011
Kim Crawford, Sauvignon Blanc 2011
Schloss Vollrads, Spaetlese Rheingau 2010
Belle Glos, Pinot Noir, Clark & Telephone 2010
WillaKenzie, Pinot Noir, Estate Cuvee 2010
Blackbird Vineyards, Arise, Red 2010
Chauteau de Beaucastel, Chateauneuf-du-Pape 2005
Northstar, Merlot 2008
Feather, Cabernet 2007
Silver Oak, Cabernet, Alexander Valley 2002
Silver Oak, Cabernet, Napa Valley 2002
Trader Joe's, Chardonnay, Grower's Reserve 2012
Silver Palm, Cabernet, North Coast 2010
Shingleback, Cabernet, Davey Estate 2010
E. Guigal, Cotes du Rhone 2009
Santa Margherita, Pinot Grigio 2011
Alamos, Cabernet 2011
Cousino Macul, Cabernet, Anitguas Reservas 2009
Dreaming Tree Cabernet 2010
1967, Toscana 2009
Charamba, Douro 2008
Horse Heaven Hills, Cabernet 2010
Lorelle, Horse Heaven Hills Pinot Grigio 2011
Avignonesi, Montepulciano 2004
Lorelle, Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2011
Villa Antinori, Toscana 2007
Mercedes Eguren, Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Lorelle, Columbia Valley Cabernet 2011
Purple Moon, Merlot 2011
Purple Moon, Chardonnnay 2011
Horse Heaven Hills, Cabernet 2010
Lorelle, Horse Heaven Hills Pinot Grigio 2011
Avignonesi, Montepulciano 2004
Lorelle, Willamette Valley Pinot Noir 2011
Villa Antinori, Toscana 2007
Mercedes Eguren, Cabernet Sauvignon 2009
Lorelle, Columbia Valley Cabernet 2011
Purple Moon, Merlot 2011
Purple Moon, Chardonnnay 2011
Abacela, Vintner's Blend No. 12
Opula Red Blend 2010
Liberte, Pinot Noir 2010
Chateau Ste. Michelle, Indian Wells Red Blend 2010
Woodbridge, Chardonnay 2011
King Estate, Pinot Noir 2011
Famille Perrin, Cotes du Rhone Villages 2010
Columbia Crest, Les Chevaux Red 2010
14 Hands, Hot to Trot White Blend

The Occasional Book

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

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 377
At this date last year: 237
Total run in 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269
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