A century to remember
Tonight at midnight: the 100th anniversary of the effective date of the U.S. individual income tax. For some of us, it's an occasion worth marking. Where have you gone, Teddy Roosevelt?
|For old times' sake|
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Tonight at midnight: the 100th anniversary of the effective date of the U.S. individual income tax. For some of us, it's an occasion worth marking. Where have you gone, Teddy Roosevelt?
Here's an interesting story about Portland water rates. They've gone up at a compound rate of 7.34% a year over the past dozen years -- or 133.9% over that time.
What's even more interesting is the stock photo that the O is using of city commissioner Steve Novick. The photo credit is to Rob Finch, but it looks as though it ought to be to Alfred Hitchcock.
Only it's not a TV show.
Now it is looking to sell millions of dollars worth of equipment from its San Jose, Calif., headquarters. An online advertisement lists at least $5 million in surplus equipment from SoloPower. Silicon Valley Disposition, a San Mateo liquidator, is waiting for the final go-ahead from SoloPower, a company representative said.
A liquidator? Wow, that was quick.
The company, which state business recruiters won over in 2011, already has received a $10 million state energy loan backed in part by Portland funding and a $20 million manufacturing Business Energy Tax Credit that will pay $13.5 million in cash.
How did Portland taxpayers get into this mess? It was mostly the Sam Rand Twins' doing, but the Nurse, the Legend, and the Jellyfish all bobbled along:
A complete and total bust. Mayor Char-Lie, it's time to clean house at the Portland Development Commission. What's taking you so long?
And of course, the shadowy Oregon state energy department is in this up to its eyeballs. The people who brought you the Cylviagate scam were front and center pitching it all along. There's no hope for the governor ever scouring that place out, for obvious reasons, but it's too bad that we don't have any federal prosecutors in this state with the guts to start turning over rocks down there.
And finally, it's important to note who stopped the city of Wilsonville from getting sucked into this terrible deal: John Ludlow, currently the Clackistan county chair who's trying to fight off the Mystery Train to Milwaukie. The guy knows waste when he sees it.
UPDATE, 8:37 a.m.: This video from May 2011 is must-see TV (after the 15-second ad). But swallow all beverages before hitting play:
If he puts a parks bond measure on the ballot this year, it's going down. So he won't. That's good. And as for next year, if a decent opponent surfaces, he could have his hands full just getting himself re-elected, much less getting the voters to renew his credit card.
This story tells you all you need to know about why the goofball I-5 replacement bridge is being rammed down everyone's throats by the folks in Salem. It's the Goldschmidt Network:
Patricia McCaig has been a political insider for decades, pulling off coups and building a reputation as someone with the strategic smarts to turn around troubled campaigns. She did it in 1990 for Barbara Roberts’ campaign for governor, for Kitzhaber in his 2010 victory, and now for the CRC.
"Five years ago, the idea that Oregon would be the likeliest state to first appropriate its share of the local match was almost laughable," says Bill Wyatt, director of the heavily pro-CRC Port of Portland. "Patricia’s engagement has been the difference."
Bill Wyatt -- a Network man through and though. Patricia McCaig -- a former Metro operative and a true Neil confidante, even after he was chased into a hole by his perverted past:
Goldschmidt also was in town for a mini-reunion of sorts... at Rabbi Manny Rose's West Hills house. A crowd of about 40 welcomed the ex-guv home from his new home in France. Among the guests: credit-card tycoon Irving Levin and his wife, former OPBer Stephanie Fowler; Goldschmidt's former fellow Oregon Electric Utility board member Tom Walsh and his wife, political consultant Patricia McCaig; Goldschmidt's ex-wife, Margie; and Bob Burtchaell, the private eye who provided valuable assistance to Goldschmidt over the years.
Connect the dots, people. It's totally a Goldschmidt deal. Don't think for a minute that he isn't calling the shots.
Otherwise, people stay in their cars.
A reader writes about the currently adopted (and probably unconstitutional) Portland arts tax:
A very senior citizen friend phoned me to report a conversation she had today with the Municipal Liens Collection Office 823-4090. The info she gave me didn't sound sane, so I double-checked by phoning the Revenue Bureau 823-5157, Press 8.
Friend was correct.
The options offered me were the same offered my friend -- who had shared with them that she's elderly and doesn't have a computer:
-- Go onto their website, www.artstax.net, where you can pay by credit card. (I quickly glanced at that site, found this:
The Revenue Bureau Tax Division administers: Arts Education and Access Income Tax (Arts Tax)
but no access to further info.)
-- They won’t mail you a form (why?) but you can go to their office to get one.
-- Tax forms won’t be available online – a "management decision." (Why?)
-- They can "process payment over the phone." This entails providing them with your name, what you earned in 2012 (Why? If you’re agreeing to pay it, they don’t need to seek that info over the phone), last four digits of your SSN, your date of birth; they’ll then provide you with a confirmation number which you must write on your personal check.
-- Direct withdrawal from your bank: Phone them to give them a bunch of personal information plus bank name, routing number and bank account number. How long before we hear news reports that their computers have been hacked?
They did confirm that the tax became effective January 1, 2012 (as we learned earlier on your blog) and payment is due by April 15, 2013, but their website and other materials won’t be organized or ready until March 1.
They then state that in February they’ll be "mailing a postcard." If no response, they will follow up with a letter in March, plus three more reminder letters. (But payment isn’t due until April 15? What am I misunderstanding here?)
Allegedly it's going to cost the city $1 million in one year to collect $9.9 million.
What a mess. But hey, as long as they know the way to the courthouse -- because that is where this tax is headed (no pun intended).
Here's a guy wanting to try it out in Boston.
It's amazing, but Nutsy Smith is now appearing in a radio ad opposing the CRoCk. Or at least, so says a reader who sent along a sound file to prove it. It sure sounds like him. No wonder the bridge bills are passing; the opponents have no judgment whatsoever.
Readers who have been following our customer "service" ordeal with Hewlett Packard over a defective ink cartridge will be amused to note that we received our replacement cartridge yesterday by Fed Ex Ground. Although we had mailed the defective one back (at our expense) to an HP person in Idaho, the replacement came from Duncan, South Carolina:
Of course, no contact with a customer ever comes without HP screwing up or one thing or another. In this case, they enclosed additional packaging that we are supposed to use to send the defective part back to them so that they can "analyse" it:
As we've mentioned, we already sent the bad cartridge back to HP in Idaho, and so this was a waste of their time and resources, and our time and garbage can space.
And with it all came the reminder that they are doing us a one-time favor. In the future, if we get a bad cartridge, we must call HP's customer "service" number, which will connect us with some incompetents halfway around the globe who will be telling us to "delete kookies" and "reinstall Veendos." No thanks. This printer is our last HP purchase, ever.
The Portland water bureau has taken some time off from running a tour service, hosting the Rose Festival, building demonstration eco-houses, installing toilets on the streets for homeless guys, and its many other fun activities, to do something that actually has to do with the water supply for a change. And of course, it's to fluoridate it.
The official City Hall dogma on adding this chemical to the water is now set forth here. Interestingly, only Bull Run water's going to be fluoridated; the water coming out of the Carollo well field in the summer won't be.
The water folks are quick to tell you how the other bureaucrats all support them. There's not a word about any adverse health concerns, of course. And Mayor Char-Lie's now got a link up, pointing you over the water page so you can read the party line.
Fluoridation was another one of the Sam Rand Twins' backroom deals that would make a bunch of money for someone the public has never seen. And it has the added features, which really got the twins' rocks off, of (a) defying the clearly expressed will of the public, and (b) intruding deeply into people's personal lives. Well, they're gone now, and a lot of what they started isn't going to be finished. Thank heaven. And let's make fluoride one of those pet projects that are now abandoned.
After 12 or 13 years, our Sony TV has died. It was acting strangely yesterday, its picture tube flickering and quivering, then making occasional popping noises, then finally smelling as if it were about to melt, or worse. We turned it off, then thought for a minute and unplugged it. It's over.
Now not only do we need a new TV, but we also need help getting rid of the old one. The thing weighs a ton; it took two hardy men to get it up the stairs to the den years ago. And surely Metro will get its pound of flesh to inter it. We wish we could take it apart and get rid of it in pieces, but part of it's probably radioactive.
And so now we enter that phase in which we'll take advice on the new purchase that's just around the corner. What to buy, where to buy it, how to bargain (if that's even possible) -- it's all on our front burner.
When we bought the Sony, the brand name had a certain allure. But the thing went on the blink fairly early on in its life. As we recall, some major tinkering had to be done with it, although we dimly recall it being covered by warranty. And so now we're a bit skeptical about the reputations of brand names. But perhaps times have changed. Certainly the TV sets have. No doubt there'll be a furniture change as well, and at least a sawbuck more a month to the Comcast devils. Adventure awaits.
On the prospects of replacing the lethally rickety Multnomah County courthouse:
In fact, board Chairman Jeff Cogen said that unless the state of Oregon agrees to step in as a least a full partner in the project, it will remain as dead a decade from now as it has for years past.
"There is no way for the county to either build or renovate this on our own," Cogen said. "We're broke."
Wait a minute. Isn't the county about to build a new personnel headquarters over in the Lincoln High School "urban renewal" zone? It wasn't too broke for that. (Stand by for the "colors of money" speech in 3... 2... 1...)
But you know, what this town really needs right now is a bike sharing program.
Legend Dan Saltzman has found $10,000 in his sofa cushions to give to the political campaign to continue taxing Portlanders specially for after-school programs for needy kids. That's probably about the equivalent of two days' worth of the rent that he'll be collecting from Tri-Met when the insolvent transit agency moves its offices into his family's building down by the streetcars and the Mystery Train to Milwaukie.
State law forbids more than a certain amount of property taxes to be spent on schools. The "children's levy" is Portland's way of skirting the state rules. That seems to be what the majority of the city's population want, but the people pushing it do not reach hero status in our eyes.
Then there's the spin from the O reporter:
The Children's Levy, initially passed in 2002 and renewed in 2008, invests about $10 million annually in programs aimed at helping children succeed in school, offering after-school programs and preventing child abuse.
"Invests"? Mmmmm... spoon-fed.
A reader alerted us yesterday that Portland's "unique" Metro government was doing another one of its suspect "surveys," this time in conjunction with an outfit called Neighborhood Partnerships. We couldn't get a look at the actual poll, because once the reader took it, even he can't go back and reread what it said. So instead we decided to try to see what the heck Neighborhood Partnerships is.
Apparently it's a nonprofit that takes private donations (fueled by a special state tax credit for contributors) and hands them out to poor people if they manage to learn how to save money. The low-income beneficiaries can use the money to buy a home, go to college, start a business, or do some other worthy things. The savings accounts that the money goes into are called "individual development accounts." Neighborhood Partnerships processed about $10 million this way last year. It doesn't hand out the money directly -- it gives grants to other nonprofits who do the actual doling.
We checked out the Neighborhood Partnerships website, and found there a veritable case study in bureaucratic jargon. It's really hard to cut through it all and figure out what the outfit actually does:
We build ongoing relationships with decision leaders, we inspire them with a passion for community development, and we give them policies and plans to take action. Research, creativity, and proven approaches are used to develop our proposals.
Neighborhood Partnerships acts as the convener for the statewide Housing Alliance, which educates policy makers and advocates on behalf of affordable housing needs within state government. Our work to bring diverse parties together has resulted in a remarkable shift in attention to housing needs and a new commitment to providing critical funding streams for our communities.
Our policy and coalition building work is expanding into two additional arenas: work to prevent and end homelessness and to nurture a broad approach to individual asset building. Our work with Bridges to Housing and the Oregon IDA Initiative is the foundation for these efforts as it helps us develop, test and promote strategies that work across systems and traditional funding streams.
The whole thing is about "community development." What is that code for -- public housing projects? And they keep harping on their "proven" programs, although it's never stated what they've proved.
In any event, apparently the purpose of the current public relations push via Metro is to collect ammunition to be used in Salem:
In the 2013 Legislature, were also working together to make a small change in the statutes governing the Initiative that will allow us to better serve Oregon households with low incomes. Right now, State law exempts $20,000 plus a potential IDA participant’s first home and one vehicle from the net worth calculation when determining eligibility, but includes all retirement savings, even at very modest levels. These current limits on assets mean that many of our Initiative Partners have had to turn away otherwise eligible participants because of their modest retirement savings.
We are proposing that the first $60,000 of the applicant’s retirement savings also be exempted from the calculation of net worth. We’ll be working together to pass HB 2316. This proposed technical adjustment to the original legislation removes a barrier to building the very habits the Initiative is designed to foster. We need to empower Oregonians to build pathways to overall financial wellness throughout their lives – including successful, planned retirements. We need to reinforce the value of saving for the future. Please join with us in supporting this change.
There are so many unsupervised pots of public and quasi-public money sloshing around this state. Neighborhood Partnerships may be doing great work, but the facts that it's relatively unknown, that it speaks in tongues, and that it's somehow tied in with Metro have our antennas up. Way up.
It appears things are stabilizing.
Mayor Char-Lie may have lanced the boil at the top of the Portland transportation bureau, but there's still quite a bit of nastiness at deeper levels of the bureaucracy. Get this: Now Burnside and Sandy are being declared "high crash corridors," and the public's being invited to some meetings to talk about what's to be done about it:
Come learn about transportation safety on this high crash corridor and share your feedback about: Existing conditions; Pedestrian, bicycle & transit deficiencies; and Problem areas
Notice the emphasis: "Pedestrian, bicycle & transit deficiencies." Safety and mobility for motorists? Screw that. Then you go to the city's information page about these "corridors," and what do you find?
“The annual cost of obesity is $147 billion and growing. That translates into $1,250 per household, mostly in taxes and insurance premiums.” Health Affairs 2010.
66% of Portlanders limit walking and bicycling due to their fears about traffic.
Portlanders have historically rated "traffic safety" as a top neighborhood livability concern.
Walking and bicycling levels are linked to a neighborhood’s sense of safety.
Portland’s least safe streets for crashes are also the highest for criminal activity.
It's all code for bicycle this-and-that -- more scarce resources to be spent mollycoddling the 1 in 20 people (or fewer) who rides around on a two-wheeler in the dark and rain. Virtually all of them white and under 35, and by far the majority of them male. We see the Portland weird, all right, but where's the sacred "equity"?
... the O is finally talking about the fact that the bridge is way too low. But if it got any higher, it couldn't have light rail, and so the bobbleheads in the Oregon legislature are full steam ahead with a deeply flawed plan. The smell of Goldschmidt is overpowering.
Students at a college with a drug problem running a nuclear reactor -- what could go wrong? We've noted that Reed College recently received a disciplinary notice from federal regulators for a significant safety breach at its toy research reactor, adjacent to the psychology building. The fearless crew was caught loading an extra 15 fuel elements into the reactor, exceeding its limit of 62, without conducting a proper safety analysis.
Now Reed has filed its response, here. Part of the joy was that Reed was adding radioactive fuel that had already been "burned" at the University of Arizona:
Based on the UARR fuel history, the licensee surmised that neutronic and thermohydraulic analysis of the 62-element core described in the applicable UFSAR would be inclusive of the February 2011 core. The Reactor Operations Committee approved the adding the elements by amending Special Experiment #1.
Words we don't like to read in documents relating to nuclear reactors include "surmised" and "special experiment." But hey, nothing to worry about. Everything's fine.
We noted a couple of weeks ago that the City of Portland has stuck a concrete curb in the middle of Fremont Street just west of 57th Avenue. We have since learned from readers that this was done to stop patrons of the new-ish brew pub on the south side of Fremont from making a left turn as they drive out the parking lot of the pub.
What bothers us about the new slab is that it caused the removal of a right turn lane for eastbound traffic on Fremont -- a lane that was being used by eastbound motorists to get around traffic stopped to make a left turn and go north on 57th. The traffic signal controlling eastbound traffic has no left turn arrow, and often allows for only one car (or none, if the driver is unduly timid) to make that left. As a result, eastbound traffic on Fremont backs up.
According to the Portland transportation bureau (motto: "Only one indicted, and he's cooperating"), the removal of that lane supposedly encourages, rather than discourages, through traffic to go around those stuck waiting to make the left:
Drivers heading East on N.E. Fremont used to have two options at 57th. A single lane went straight or allowed for left-hand turns. A second lane was for right-hand, South-bound turns.
When Transportation Bureau crews installed the raised median Jan. 23, they also removed the lines for the right-hand turn lane, Anderson said. Now, N.E. Fremont Street is a single lane that is wide enough for drivers to pass cars waiting to turn left onto 57th Avenue.
That may be the intent, but it hasn't actually turned out that way. If anything, the concrete barrier shoos left-turning traffic over to the right more than it used to sit, and there's less room than ever to get by on the right:
We've seen some drivers go around, but far more sitting stuck. And that go-around maneuver sometimes takes those who make it uncomfortably close to the east-west crosswalk on the south side of the intersection.
That corner needs a left turn arrow forcing westbound traffic on Fremont to wait while two or three eastbound vehicles make the left. That may not be forthcoming, but in any event, we challenge the assertion that the concrete barrier facilitates eastbound through traffic. The opposite is much closer to the truth.
The Portland public schools are doubling down on their cozy consulting contract with the former Portland City Hall human resources chief, Yvonne Deckard. They're about to pay her another $90,000 for six months of "planning, preparation, and professional consultation for upcoming labor negotiations." That's on top of the $90,000 she's already picked up in that capacity. No wonder there's no money for building maintenance. [Via the troublemakers at REBB.]
We were complaining a couple of weeks ago that the mainstream media wasn't digging into the sudden financial crisis at the Portland Police Activities League:
Where has their funding come from? Why is it drying up? Who are the managers? Didn't they see this coming? Where can the money come from to save the organization?
It took more than a week, but the O has started to supply some answers, here. So far it seems like nothing more than good old-fashioned negligence and bungling, but with law enforcement in these parts, things are not always as they seem.
One of the problems is that the outfit's board of directors has had up to 42 people on it, and most of them apparently were paying no attention. The O story names a few, but it leaves off several prominent names: now-retired Multnomah County district attorney Michael Schrunk, Portland police chief Mike Reese, and Multnomah sheriff Dan Staton. Directors owe a duty of care to their organizations; in the case of the PAL, somebody appears to have failed in that duty.
In any event, given the youth gang problems in Portland, the demise of the PAL is a real shame.
It's the second coming of the Lord. Or at least Lassie.
What do they think they are going to gain for themselves -- and that's all they really ever think about any more, themselves -- with this shinola? "Look at us -- we're pathetic losers!" (Or for those of them on AOL, "loosers.")
There's more botulism in Kristen Chenoweth's face than in a dented can of Spam.
A strange object in the sky over Josephine County.
The further back you step from these guys, the more you notice their utter absurdity.
He says he's got a machine that processes food slop without most of the stink.
Goodall Hospital in Sanford, Maine, takes the dried powder from its Biogreen 360 unit — capable of handling up to 1,000 pounds of food waste a day, to create rich garden compost. Gene Coffin, director of environmental services, said the machine turns 750 pounds of daily leftover food into 35 pounds of compost — a big step toward the hospital’s goal of "total recycling."
If Portland's so gung ho about food slop composting, why aren't we trying out a few of these gizmos? Wait, don't tell me -- because a bunch of backroom deals have already been made with the stinkmeisters who pile the stuff up outdoors, right off the truck?
You can argue about tax giveaways for "green" this-and-that, but just about everybody would agree that the companies that reap the benefit of those subsidy programs should be required to cross all the T's and dot all the I's required to get the handouts. In the case of a huge windmill project out in eastern Oregon, from all appearances that wasn't done -- quite the contrary -- as our friend Ted Sickinger of the O reveals here. His exposé shows that three $10 million tax credits were approved for a single project that appears to have deserved only one.
"Because of this information, we do need to revisit this one," said Kyleen Stone, deputy director at the Energy Department. "We are going to do some work and actually legitimately look at it and review our determinations. We need some time to review all the facts."
Translation: "Okay, you busted us."
Innocent mistake, or active scam by the state bureaucrats? Remember, this is the Oregon Energy Department, the people who brought us Cylviagate. That bureau is nothing but trouble, and if we had to bet, we'd put money on active scam.
Kudos to Sickinger, one of a small handful of real journalists left in Portlandia. It's probably worth subscribing to the dead tree paper just to keep that guy from jumping over to government flackdom.
Ms. Derby believed that wild animals should not be in captivity, period — not even in sanctuaries like hers, which she considered a less onerous form of captivity but captivity nonetheless. "All I can do is make their prison as comfortable as possible," she said....
"I was born in love with all elephants. Not for a reason that I know. Not because of any of their individual qualities — wisdom, kindness, power, grace, patience, loyalty — but for what they are altogether. For their entire elephantness."
Let it rip.
We can just picture the scene in his Fifth Avenue apartment as he leaves for La Guardia:
Him calling up the staircase: "Honey, I'm heading out!"
Her calling down: "Could you tip the doorman? I'm out of 50's."
"Will you be home for dinner?"
"No, I'm going to Hanford."
"The Hamptons? In February?"
"No, I said Hanford."
"Is that in Connecticut?"
"No, it's in Washington."
"Over by Georgetown?"
"No, it's in Washington State."
"Okay, have fun in Seattle."
"All right. 'Bye, dear. Text the nanny to hug the kids for me."
While the event put a shine on bike share in hopes to woo sponsors, it underscored an urgent need to raise money. So far the system only has $1.8 million in the bank thanks to a federal grant. However, the estimate to fully launch (750 bikes) and operate the system in the first year is $6.6 million ($4.7 million to get the system on the street and $1.9 million in operating costs). That leaves a significant funding gap that PBOT and Alta need to close.
A reader writes: "Let's do the math: $4.7 million divided by 750 bikes = $6,267 per bike."
And that doesn't count what it will cost to fish them out of the Willamette. Why the City of Portland is throwing money after this while it ditches core services is beyond comprehension. Except that we had the Sam Rand Twins running the place for years, of course.
... but the bobbleheads in Salem and your local city hall won't lift a finger to stop this (from an alert reader):
Lake Grove got papered with the yellow book today -- how do they get away with doing this? I thought it might be in the fine print of your telephone contract -- but I haven't had a land line in years. Why can't the green Nazis put their efforts into stopping something that actually matters?
Because somebody in government, somewhere, is being paid off. There is no other plausible explanation.
The answer, of course, is a mandatory opt-in system for all printed phone books. Maybe the kids at OSPIRG could get a statewide initiative started. Or maybe our BFF Chip Shields can get off his wallet and straighten this out. Don't hold your breath.
There are fewer of them in operation these days.
Tom McCall just rolled over in his grave again.
Wonder how things are going to "pencil" now that the developer goons may have to rip out some work. Couldn't happen to a nicer group. But surely the real estate puppets at City Hall (the mayor being Exhibit A) will do what they can to help screw the nearby homeowners despite this rare victory.
The Portland Development Commission is hiring. Hey, somebody's got to shovel the money to Homer and the boys. The new guy will no doubt be good at it:
Wood owed and then repaid the agency $688,500 last year as part of a private-side redevelopment project that went bankrupt.... Wood launched his own company, Foundation Real Estate Development, in 2005. But a project in Beaverton didn't move forward and a redevelopment effort in downtown Portland went into bankruptcy. The Portland project involved a loan from the PDC, which Wood eventually repaid last year, plus interest.... Quinton said Wood will begin by looking at specific PDC-owned properties and assess agency plans and recommend options, including holding land, selling properties or striking deals with private developers.
They ought to shut the whole operation down and sell all the property. For what the taxpayers are paying to keep the PDC open, they aren't getting much of anything worth hanging onto.
Oh, those pesky students, always asking questions.
Not only did the MAX train travel two miles at 55 miles an hour with a door wide open, but apparently the driver ignored passengers who were trying to reach him or her via the emergency intercom. That darn thing interferes with REM sleep, and so the driver must have turned it off.
Add danger to inconvenience and expense: One more reason for normal people never to ride Tri-Met if they have a choice.
We don't hate transit, but we do dislike incompetence. It really is time for a complete purge of the stupidity that has taken over the Portland transit system.
Here's to the three Clacky commissioners who are determined to do what the voters of their county want, as opposed to what the Goldschmidt stooges from Tri-Met tell them they have to do. Opponents of the CRoCk, pay attention.
And shame on the bobbleheads at the O, whose toady headline is "Clackamas County board splits." Yes, but the vote was 3 to 2 in favor of a public vote. There are winners and losers, and the rebels won. If it had been 3 to 2 the other way, you can bet the headline would have been way different. The O's readers are a whole lot smarter than it is, which is part of why it's slowly going out of business.
Our Jersey bud Brian Corrigan writes:
A spokesman for the Vatican confirmed that as soon as the Pope resigns, he will no longer be "infallible." It's the same thing that happened to Oprah.
But they say they're hiring 100 at a different Colorado plant.
Willy Week reports that the co-founder of Chinook Book is running for the Portland school board. Wait a minute -- Chinook Book? Co-founder? Next they'll run an exposé showing that he wasn't really a "founder," and then Nutsy Smith can run for the job.
Anyway, the new candidate is all for "strengthening community partnerships, particularly with the business community." Does that mean that Homer Williams will have his pick of the buildings to take over and knock down?
Or make up some other suitable punchline for this one.
Not when they get in the way of bike pork.
On their investment in the Boston Globe, that is. They paid $1.1 billion for it, and don't look like they'll get even half that back. Maybe not even a third.
The bureaucrats down there enjoy some seriously fat paydays:
San Francisco is a true municipal gold mine when it comes to pay. The days when the headline-grabbing "$100,000 club" was made up of a handful of top managers and overtime earners are long gone.
Last year, city controller's records show, roughly a quarter of the city's 36,000 full- and part-time workers made more than $100,000 - without overtime.
And 195 workers and execs made more than $200,000.
The highest-paid was Police Chief Greg Suhr, who made $321,522. Fire Chief Joanne Hayes-White came in second, at $314,759, followed by a slew of police and fire deputy chiefs.
Mayor Ed Lee checked in at No. 27, with $260,547.
This year's cash-out prize went to outgoing police Capt. John Goldberg, who got $245,999 for his unused sick and vacation time, bringing his yearly pay to $350,403.
And their pensions are probably based on those salaries. No wonder California is broke.
As we reflect on the killing of yet another unarmed person by the Portland police, we wonder what makes them so afraid to hold their fire until they actually see a gun. Especially if they already have their own guns trained on the suspect. What's going on in their minds?
One reader suggests that maybe it has something to do with the targets the police practice on. Here are a few that would give us nightmares.
We were checking out the schedule for this year's Sunday Parkways event in Portland -- it's relatively harmless, but not much fun unless you're on a bike -- when we noticed that one of the sponsors of the event is the city's sewer department -- the Bureau of Environmental Services. Don't they have enough to do, and enough mega-expenses weighing us all down, without getting into sponsoring other bureau's activities? Aren't our sewer bills high enough without paying for bike days out of them?
It reminds us of the Portland public schools buying sponsorships on public radio. Government p.r. has really gotten out of control. You wish somebody would step up and do something about it.
It's nuts. The City of Portland passes an arts tax in November, retroactive to the first of the year, and here it is the following Feb. 21 and there's still no way to file the required return or pay the tax. And KATU, which scraped up what few tidbits of information are available, says the actual mail-in forms won't be ready until April 1 -- although they'll be due back with money just two weeks later:
According to the Revenue Bureau, the Arts Tax payment site should up and running by March 4. It hopes most people pay the tax online, saving resources and restoring school arts programs at the same time.
The bureau expects most people to pay the tax online, because it says three out of four homes in Portland have Internet access.
While payment forms will be mailed April 1, if you pay online before then, the city won't have to send one.
The tax appears to us to be an unconstitutional head tax, and it will surely be challenged in court on those grounds (and who knows, maybe some others). That litigation could take many months -- years even. The collective nervous breakdown of the city under the Sam Rands is not over.
We wrote last October about an initiative by the Oregon state bar to have a public website set up on which all legal notices could go. The bar folks make a great argument for it:
It is time for legal notice to be better, smarter, and more efficient and much, much less expensive. This is both possible and necessary, and can happen by creation of a single, publicly owned, centralized system where anyone can publish a legal notice that satisfies the publication requirement.
Ah, but not so fast. One of the people involved in the movement wrote us last night with some distressing news:
Today I learned that a mysterious bill, HB 2822, with no listed sponsor, is going to be heard in consumer protection and government efficiency committee tomorrow. HB 2822 would reverse the change of a few years ago that moved sheriff sale notices from the newspapers (where no one was reading them) to the Sheriffs Association website. In other words, the newspaper lobby has decided that people should have to pay exorbitant rates for ads that no one reads, because... well, because!
It will be interesting to see where the bill winds up. Because if it passes, the state bar's idea of making all such notices public and cheap on a state-run site will probably die a quick death. Of course, the moribund print journalism industry would be pleased with that outcome.
The hearing is scheduled for 1:00 this afternoon in hearing room D, with electronic hookup supposedly available here.
Mayor Char-Lie has sent out the word that he wants some roads paved around Portlandia, but of course, the street department left behind by the Sam Rand Twins has precious little dough for boring stuff like paving. It's too busy paying 25 full-time car hater "planners" to tell everybody to walk and go by streetcar. And so the new sheriff instructs his transportation chief to comb through the budget in search of some resources for asphalt.
You'll never believe what he came back with.
Yep -- $4.5 million in "savings" from the Sellwood Bridge!
Char-Lie's creepy predecessor used to come up with wacky stories like this on a regular basis. But we expected a little better from the grownups who are taking things back over. Why don't they just can a couple of car haters and tweeters? Guess that would alienate Char-Lie's developer buddies, who like the shiny trains.
If you get the impression that public money in this town is a never-ending shell game, you are not alone. And when it's that loosey-goosey, people are bound to be stealing. It's human nature.
He's on the selling (or giveaway) block. And Portland is thin at point guard. If Nate were here, you know he'd be back. Even now... But what a step backward that would be.
Here's a service you need to buy for that special someone -- it will keep tweeting for them after they're dead. And in the style in which they tweeted during their life.
Even the Wall Street Journal is taken with them.
And it almost went by unnoticed by the media. Until Maxine Bernstein at the O got a tip, apparently. The story of Kemp Strickland is here.
UPDATE, 2/22, 12:52 a.m.: As a reader points out, the O story was by Aimee Green, not Bernstein. We must have been having one our spells.
He was running at the cops full tilt. He said something about taking hostages. He apparently was holding a broken phone that they say looked like a gun. The PoPo shot him dead. Way dead. The video is here. It isn't safe for work.
If they hadn't killed him, he couldn't have hurt anybody much with a piece of a phone. But it was dark, and he was charging right at the cops, egging them on. And so another sick person dies at the hands of Portland's police. Not their most offensive killing ever. Not by a longshot. But with 20-20 hindsight? They should have let him come.
There's a self-selected group, with a grant from the Portland Development Commission, doing the "vision thing" on 42nd Avenue north of Fremont Street in northeast Portland. Their website is here. "Community – Equity – Prosperity." Uh oh -- smells like the real estate weasels are nearby:
The celebration included a "visioning session" that asked the 120 people attending what they want to see in the future on the thoroughfare.
The group would like community input on everything from zoning issues, what kinds of development would be a good fit, how to make the stretch safer for pedestrians, how the strip should look and feel, and other issues.
If we had to bet where it's all heading, we'd say gargantuan cr-apartment blocks with corporate retail on the ground floor and little or no off-street parking. Even if well meaning people who don't want that are giving up their time now, that doesn't mean the whole process won't be hijacked between now and the time the wrecking balls show up. People who live up that way should be wary indeed.
Gun control fever is subsiding in Salem. As it will soon be in D.C. Wash., if it isn't already. Until the next massacre, the next uproar, the next set of politician grandstanding moves, and the next gradual fade into nothing. We tuned out the most recent hubbub for good reason. Paying attention to it is a waste of time.
Oh, and they still hate the CRoCk. Don't they know? It's too late to turn back now.
UPDATE, 2:31 p.m.: Actually, there are nine stories about maryjane in the print edition of today's Willy. What will they do to be "alternative" 10 years from now -- heroin?
We got an email message the other day from Josh Berger, the Portland artist who suffered a brain injury in a bicycle crash last May and is still on the mend. It's a long road back, but he's reached the stage of writing thank you notes, which is one in a series of encouraging signs.
His friends at the Portland Institute for Contemporary Art are putting on a benefit party for him on Sunday afternoon at 3. Berger himself will be on hand, at least for some of the time. There will be beer from Fort George Brewery, food from Tastebud, and music by some people whom we are too unhip to know: Sam Coomes (Quasi, Heatmiser), Ray Raposa a.k.a. Raymond Byron (Castanets, White Freighter), Tuvan throat singer Enrique Ugalde (Soriah), Grey Anne, WC Beck, and e*rock (the last of whom is a DJ, we think). Tickets are $10 to $20.
The event is called 100 x 100, in that the work of 100 artists will be available for an "art dash." Those willing to pay 100 bucks instead of 10 to 20 are guaranteed a work of art to take home. They'll call out your number and you'll take your pick of what's still available. Among those whose art attendees will have a crack at are Christopher Rauschenberg, Arnold Pander, Gary Wiseman, Kristy Edmunds, Stephanie Snyder, Storm Tharp, Ed Fella, Cynthia Lahti, Milton Glaser, Harrell Fletcher, Susan Seubert, and Kristy Edmunds. They'll send a proxy in to grab some art for you if you can't be there.
A lot of cool people have pitched in to help Berger and his young family through an unthinkably difficult nine months -- including several readers of this blog. We suspect that some of them will be at the party. It should be an impressive gathering of Portlanders with heart and soul.
... because it would be difficult not to give 48 hours' notice, and then blow this building to smithereens.
"What? One of the tanks leaked? This is unacceptable. It needs to be a higher priority. This year, instead of handing $2 billion to Bechtel to pour down the Hanford rat hole, let's go for $3 billion." The third senator from New York cracks us up.
Within a 24-hour period, the car charger for our cell phone stopped working, somebody stole the Mrs.' iPhone, and the laptop that we use at work booted up to the blue screen of death. Let's hope that's it with the IT issues for a while.
If he had been, you would have heard that by now. The O's latest is here.
Here's your Tuesday funny: Sen. Ron Wyden (R-N.Y.) goes to Hanford, supposedly to bust chops about the eternally failing "cleanup" of the atomic bomb factory grounds. And the first thing the nucle-heads up there do is take him to the B Reactor, which is their quaint little tourist stop. And then they tell him that they want funding to turn the place into a national park, so we can all celebrate our massacre of innocent Japanese. And old Gatsby agrees. What a tenacious watchdog.
The governor of Washington has named a new transportation chief, and she's from Clackistan. Her resume includes "strategic planning manager for TriMet." Yikes! Whatever the strategy was, it's been an unmitigated disaster.
Bank robber, fugitive, drug addict, facial tattoo -- the latest person killed by Portland police will evoke little sympathy. Even if the officers were not justified in gunning him down, people will excuse them because of who the deceased was. It's the death penalty for bank robbery, essentially.
Meanwhile, an alert reader connects another dot to the policemen who killed the guy. One of the officers, Andrew Hearst, was at Portland Adventist Hospital a few years ago, in the incident in which a man died in a car crash in the hospital parking lot after hospital personnel reportedly refused to come out and help him unless an ambulance got there first.
UPDATE, 1:42 p.m.: The latest from the O:
Asked Tuesday if a gun was recovered from Hatch at the scene of the shooting, police spokesman Sgt. Pete Simpson would say only that the bureau would release additional details late Wednesday "after all the interviews are complete."
The shinola just oozes out of this website. It makes these claims about the government p.r. campaign "Drive Less Save More" --
-- Nearly 19 percent of the Portland population has reduced their car trips as a result of Drive Less Save More – that’s more than 222,000 individuals
-- Campaign impact is a conservative 21.8 million vehicle road miles reduced
-- Reduced road miles translates into a reduction of about 10,700 tons of greenhouse gases released into our atmosphere\Campaign has saved public more than $8 million in auto operating costs
More government brainwashing expense, backed up by phony "facts." It's so sad, and you encounter it at every turn in Portlandia.
For that, we don't think we need a full-blown audit, but city auditor LaVonne Griffin-Valade commissioned one nonetheless:
Although PBOT’s mission describes its role as "the steward of the City’s transportation system…," we found that the City is not adequately protecting street pavement condition. Instead, it is allowing the cost of unmet needs to soar for taxpayers in future years. While PBOT attributes this to falling revenues, we noted in our January 2013 report, Transportation Funding: Revenues up, spending on maintenance down, that PBOT's revenues increased in recent years. That report also concluded that inadequate spending on maintenance is partly due to spending on other policy choices.
We found that without an overall Bureau strategy and a clear basis for transportation priorities, maintenance of street pavement has not been a high priority for the City. This led to large unmet needs, and PBOT has not consistently reported the extent of these needs.
We reiterate the recommendations we made in our recent report for a clear transportation strategy with explicit goals and objectives. Specific performance measures, such as PBOT’s current measures of infrastructure condition, would help Council and the public evaluate outcomes. In addition, we recommend that the Commissioner of Transportation follow City policy for managing street pavement assets for long-term cost eff ectiveness, and that Council require PBOT to provide it with information about future costs and benefits of PBOT street maintenance proposals.
Creepy and the Admiral did so much damage to Portland, but they didn't do it alone. Their colleagues -- Legend, Jelly, and the Nurse -- all nodded along. Go by streetcar!
Portland is the official laughingstock of the nation, but there appears to be no shortage of other communities who want to crowd into the clown car:
Hank V. Savitch, a professor of urban and public affairs at the University of Louisville, said that while some cities were shifting away from accommodating cars, Louisville’s [freeway bridge] project signaled a declaration of faith in suburban-style growth.
"They’re still fighting the last urban war, which was highway development — but that’s not the nature of the future of the city," Professor Savitch said. "It will dissipate energy in the central city, where they should be concentrating investment, and instead draw capital to the outer metropolitan area."
Among the most skeptical of the plan is the grass-roots group 8664, which has drawn nearly 12,000 supporters online. The group is asking that only part of the project be built and that Interstate 64, which runs along the river, be shifted to the edge of downtown so that the city’s sprawling waterfront could be revitalized with "Portland-style vibrancy."
Ah, that "vibrancy." Too funny. No doubt there will be "linchpins," "catalysts," and "iconic" items galore as well. Time for a charrette!
A few more details have emerged about last night's killing of a man by Portland police, and they're not encouraging. All the police can say so far is that dead guy, who is still unidentified, had pointed a gun at a hospital security guard earlier in the evening. They're not saying he pointed a gun at, or showed a gun to, the three police officers who together shot him to death. They're not even saying the deceased had a gun on his person when he died. All they're saying so far is that he had pointed a gun sometime earlier.
That's what they said the last time, and this other time, and no doubt plenty of other times. If the man was not actually armed when he died, the next thing we'll likely hear is that three cops who opened fire thought he was reaching for a gun.
We're hoping that this fatal shooting turns out to have been justified, but 23 hours later, it doesn't look all too promising.
And guess who was one of the shooters. One of the defenders of killer cop Ron Frashour in the notorious Aaron Campbell case -- Nathan Voeller:
According to court documents, 11 Portland police training instructors, and retired Portland Officer Mike Stradley, who was Frashour's field training officer, were ready to testify otherwise. All are, or have been, members of the same union fighting Frashour's firing, the Portland Police Association.
Officer Nathan Voeller, a lead defensive tactics instructor, was ready to testify that Portland officers are trained that they're not required to see a gun before using lethal force if the officer believes the suspect poses an immediate risk of death or serious injury. "They are trained they need to be preemptive," Voeller was to testify, according to a trial memorandum filed by Frashour's lawyer.
According to the document, Portland police are taught that if they wait to see a person pull or point a firearm, they won't be able to react fast enough before the suspect fires.
And now Officer Voeller has "pre-empted" someone himself.
But is it even worth knowing, really? Even if the killing was unjustified, the county D.A. isn't going to indict anybody. And the internal investigation within the police bureau won't be candid. The officers involved still have another day or so to get their story straight before they're interviewed by investigators, who will be fellow union members. Any discipline that gets recommended will be downgraded or rejected by the police chief. And any discipline that miraculously gets imposed will be overturned by some faceless arbitrator.
It's the Portland script. We've already seen it too many times. One more rerun might be too much to bear.
UPDATE, 10:06 p.m.: The O gets around to connecting another dot on Officer Voeller:
Voeller was involved in the fatal police shooting of unarmed fugitive David E. Hughes in November 2006. He fired seven rounds from an AR-15 rifle. Two other officers also fired their handguns.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
It's going just as our reader predicted on the CRoCk: "Hearing Monday and following Monday, then vote on both floors and Gov signs. $450MM to be bonded based on $35MM per year slice of federal transportation funds Oregon gets each year." Today was the "following Monday" that he was referring to, and sure enough, the hearings are over -- now it's time for some quickie votes. Between this and the Nike tax scam, the people we send to Salem have shown themselves to be a lumbering political machine straight outta back east -- shoveling public money to insiders without even a semblance of orderly process. It's pathetic.
Because there are so many wonderful bikey, walkie, train thingies to blow tax dollars on instead of street maintenance. Lookee here -- all the pretty colors. Shiny trains to nowhere -- it's for the children!
The PoPo killed a guy in the parking lot of Portland Adventist Hospital last night about 9:30 p.m. Here it is 12:30 p.m. the next day, and hardly any information about the killing has been released. And of course, the paid press release warmers in the mainstream media aren't digging up any new facts.
There was a "report of a man with a gun." The police shot the man. A witness heard nine shots. That's about it.
The longer the delay, usually the worse the police conduct was. Let's hope that's not true in this case.
We've been at this blogging thing too long. Some nights we find ourself leaving through City of Portland budget documents. It's the lowest level of absurdity, when you think about it. We'd do more good reorganizing our sock drawer.
Anyway, here are a couple that caught our eye: one, the budget proposal from the rogue "transportation" bureau (Motto: "Only one indicted, and he's cooperating"); and the other one from the "office of healthy working rivers."
Let's start with the obvious question: What for crap's sake is an "office of healthy working rivers," and why does Portland need one at $650,000 a year? We already have an environmental services bureau ($940 million a year); can't the people there do these jobs?
• Improving inter-bureau coordination regarding the health and activities surrounding Portland's Rivers;
• Ensuring the City meets both its obligations and intention in the Superfund cleanup process;
• Protecting and restoring the ecological, transportation, and recreational roles of the Columbia and Willamette Rivers; and
• Rehabilitating contaminated, inactive properties with prosperous working harbor opportunities, and supporting river-dependent jobs.
When your number one job is "improving inter-bureau coordination," you know you are dealing with one deeply screwed-up bureaucracy. This stinker was a Sam Rand special, with Nurse Amanda leading the cheers; it belongs in the trashbin.
Then there's transportation, which gets to play with $238 million a year. Where's all that going? They show 77 people ($11.9 million) working on "pavement maintenance" -- heck, they aren't doing much on any streets that we travel. Plus another mystery 5.6 people on "pavement management" ($720,000), which must be something different, and not to be confused with the 23.53 people in "sidewalk maintenance" ($3.2 million).
Check out the 17.75 people in "streetcar operations," at a budget of $9 million. Their measuring stick of success? We kid you not: "Cost per vehicle operating hour competitive with TriMet's bus and rail costs." What are they competing for -- first one to bankruptcy?
But our favorite: 25 people in "active transportation." These are the minions in charge of hating cars and trying to get everyone to walk, bike, and ride transit. That gets allocated $4.7 million a year.
Thinking about this sort of stuff evokes anger, or laughter, or angry laughter. Maybe the best thing to do is to join the flock and ignore it. Things rarely change around here, and even more rarely do they change for the better.
Over here near Blog Central, the City of Portland is doing one of its "green streets" numbers on Klickitat Street. The more attentive among you may remember "green streets." This concept came into prominence when the Sam Rand Twins were caught illegally diverting sewer money to bike paths. (At last report, that case is still in court.) So they decided to do some sewer work along the bike paths, and stick in a few concrete drainage ditches (a.k.a. "bioswales") to boot. Voilá! A sewer project is born.
Okay, that's bad enough. But the way the city has gone about it is even more maddening. You see, they rushed in and did a bunch of bikey stuff first -- painted the bike symbols on the pavement every 50 feet or so, for about 50 blocks. Then they popped in some speed bumps, to try to get motorists to go away, and turned most of the cross-street stop signs so that the sacred cyclists on the bike boulevard have hardly any of them to obey (or more likely, ignore).
Fast forward six or eight months, and now, only now, is the sewer work being done. Naturally, the sewer crews are cutting through the speed bumps and bike decals to get their part of the project done. And so when it's over, there'll have to be another round of bikey stuff done. New speed bumps. New decals. This is Portland "planning" at its finest.
Meanwhile, what's left behind isn't too nice to bike on, and if we get some heavy spring rains, it could get downright hazardous for the two-wheelers:
Apparently it was important to give the drivers the finger before starting any of the other aspects of the project. And now the city will get to do the bikey stuff twice. Good luck with that budget gap, Mayor Char-Lie, unless you do some serious housecleaning in the bureaus.
One witness says he heard nine shots. Reports at this hour are that the police were called out over a man with a gun. Now that man is dead. No one inside the hospital was hurt, apparently. It's Mayor Char-Lie's first civilian killing at the hands of the city's police; his response should be telling about how much action he really intends to take to clean the bureau up.
Tina Kotek and the gang don't want you to know. Cha ching! Rack up the campaign contributions from the tourism lobby. And from the
slumlords workforce housing providers.
We get mailers from time to time from an outfit that thinks Oregon is too tough on crime. "We incarcerate more people than any other society, and most of them are minority group members, and it costs more to keep them in prison than it does to educate people, and so we need less prisons and more schools and more social workers, equity justice yada yada yada." It's interesting, but it never convinces us. Into the recycling it goes.
We wonder what the people who send us that literature think of this. They probably hate it. But again, to us it's kind of satisfying to see. Some days, we don't feel much like a liberal.
The city of Seattle has installed 30 surveillance cameras along its waterfront to augment security, but Mayor Mike McGinn says the cameras won’t be turned on until the public has a say.
Good Lord, what a strange and awful place our country has become.
We just saw an ad that says if you buy some Trail Blazers tickets now, you'll get "playoff priority." If those guys don't turn things around pretty quickly, that ad won't be running too much longer. It's been a rough month of February, with two wins and six losses. Let's hope that on St. Paddy's Day, they really are still making a push toward a post-season berth. It would be fun to see the look of surprise on the other teams' faces if they make it.
Here's an odd one out of Salem: Peter Courtney, the Oregon state senate's eternal flame, recently stated that one in eight children, and one in 18 adults, in Oregon suffers from mental illness. The goofy fact-checker gal at the O ran out and checked, and based on some pretty abstract statistics, Courtney's numbers appear to be in the ballpark.
But that got us thinking: There are 30 state senators, and 60 state representatives, for 90 people all together. Assuming that they're all adults, by Courtney's count, five of them are nuts.
That number seems low.
The CEO and president of Portland's supposed economic savior both just walked, according to the O. That's news that we haven't seen elsewhere. The company seems to be running out of cash. The jobs it promised in Portland do not appear to have been delivered. And the state bureaucrat in charge of handing out the tax dollars won't talk -- "trade secrets," you know.
In January, company executives were deep in negotiations to refinance a $197 million federal loan commitment, also threatened by the missed benchmarks. The money was meant to fund subsequent manufacturing lines and hundreds of high-paying jobs.
It was those jobs, and the lure of building up Oregon's green energy sector, two years ago that put the California-based startup in line for nearly $58 million in state and city incentives, including loans, tax credits and abatements.
But today, that investment appears at risk. Questions are mounting about the company's missed deadlines and its ability to survive in a market that's already taken down dozens of solar players....
The PDC had deemed the project's risk "very low," because the state loan would have to be paid off before SoloPower could tap the federal loan. The repayment "most likely" would happen within six months at the earliest and two years at the latest, after the state loan was disbursed, according to the report.
[Paula] Mints, the analyst, says the industry faces many of the same challenges today that it faced two years ago. She categorizes any investment in a thin-film startup as high risk and unlikely to pay off until the market stabilizes.
In a recent interview with The Oregonian, she was stunned that Oregon energy officials had deemed the project low-risk despite a separate loan analysis that cited her own grim forecast.
"Who did that?" she said.
It's too bad that there are no real prosecutors in the State of Oregon. Because this one is just screaming for a criminal investigation. Just about anywhere else, people would be connecting the dots that Portland Polite requires the locals here to ignore.
Office of equity, office of working healthy rivers, now a budget office -- the den mother for the Sam Rand Twins loves having minions:
With a hard-fought election victory behind her and hopes of a meatier portfolio under Mayor Charlie Hales, Fritz is flexing her muscle like never before. She's the first on the 2013 City Council to propose a significant ordinance, a law that would require Portland businesses to give employees sick time. She's also hatching plans to try to renew public campaign financing, which helped her win office in 2008. And late last year, she persuaded the City Council to create an independent City Budget Office, hoping to tamp down the politics in budgeting.
We hope she's having fun. For what she paid to get re-elected, she could have bought a beach house. She can't afford to do that again, and so "public campaign financing" is a referendum on her third term. Vote no, no, a thousand times no.
Here comes that well armed militia that the Founding Fathers told you about. Why pay taxes for real cops when you can be part of an armed posse? The Tea Party meets Syria, as it were.
Everybody knows that these days, Tri-Met sees its primary purpose as promoting the "urban renewal" that's wiping out Portland's character. But yesterday at Clackamas Town Center, one of its bus drivers may have got a little too caught up in that mission:
His people can get you in to meet Joe Paterno.
Gresham police say their officer didn't seize her phone because he was unhappy that she was recording. They say he seized the phone because he was trying to protect video evidence he thought might be on the phone of the arrest he just made.
In Portland, he would have beaten her, too.
"We need help to revitalize Beaverton, and we need it from a lot of corners and a lot of folks," said Don Mazziotti, the city's community and economic development director....
The South Office Building in the Round, where the symposium took place, sits in the city's Creekside District, where nearly one-fourth of the land is vacant or undeveloped. Residents of the Creekside District have lower average incomes and education levels than Beaverton residents overall.
Here's a funny document from the City of Portland website -- the source of much comedy and tragedy alike. The Port of Portland is planting some kind of greenery on a lot out by the Ikea store, and of course, this being Portlandia, all manner of bureaucratic fussing has to be made over what kind of plants, how far apart, etc. We're surprised that only the city and the port are doing the "planning"; on a project of this scope, we'd expect Tri-Met, Metro, and the Portland State urban studies dean to have to sign off. The cost to the taxpayers in administrative processing alone probably works out to about $100 per plant.
Anyway, the application that the port authority bureaucrats filed with the city bureaucrats doesn't say much. One thing we do see in there, however, is that there are not one but two sets of rules governing the planting of plants in what used to be wetlands around the nearby airport and giant strip mall complex. The port is going to operate under these rules, instead of under these. There are probably several more pages to study if you want to put a bird on it.
Tri-Met's general manager, Neal McFarlane (right), has been making the rounds trying to sell his story that the bus drivers' union is what's breaking his insolvent transit agency. We've expressed disappointment that the local mainstream media has run stories that allow McFarlane to make this case without also giving opposing views anything near equal time.
Some of the other side has now been aired -- the union's side -- in at least one later piece, in the O. But there's still been precious little discussion of our main gripe, which is that Tri-Met has trashed its bread-and-butter operations, buses, for excessive layers of "planners" and managers, and for dopey rail projects.
It's hard for us to believe that professional writers can interview McFarlane without crucifying him for the epically failed WES heavy rail project, of which he was in charge. That has turned out to be the biggest waste of money in the history of Tri-Met, and perhaps in the history of mass transit in this country. Then there's the empty east side Portland streetcar, and now the Mystery Train to Milwaukie, and next, the light-rail deck on the new bridge to the 'Couv -- a deck that most folks in that suburb don't seem to want.
And it doesn't stop there. Here he is on video, nattering about new capital projects "in the pipeline" for after that.
The local reporters and editors are also letting McFarlane off the hook on his bloated "planning" and management staff and his fancy new digs that are being set up at enormous taxpayer expense in -- surprise! -- one of Legend Dan Saltzman's buildings.
If the media in Portland were really interested in the truth, McFarlane would crawl out of every interview figuratively bruised and battered. But he's never really challenged.
When Tri-Met's hack board and its bungling management start talking rationally about terminating WES, slimming down their own house, and scrapping all their grandiose train plans for the future, maybe someone will listen to their whining about the unions. In the meantime, we find ourselves rooting for the bus drivers; although they are fat and greedy, they're far less of the problem than the dummies in the suits.
"Are we a health care provider or are we a transit agency?" McFarlane keeps asking, in a speech that he doubtlessly rehearsed to his poodle all last weekend. His performance has ensured that they are neither -- they're just enablers of construction pork projects and propagation of the Earl Blumenauer Fantasy World of shiny trains, crappy apartments, grown adults riding bicycles everywhere, and terrible roads.
They can keep interviewing McFarlane, but it's time for the smart people to look elsewhere and start seriously discussing what is going to replace Tri-Met, because it's not going to make it in its current form. Nor does it deserve to. And something tells us that the Goldschmidt Network, which has feasted off Tri-Met for years, already has a plan for picking the carcass in the inevitable Tri-Met bankruptcy. Taxpayers who have no more fleece to give had better begin coming up with a Plan C.
UPDATE, 3:24 p.m.: More on the management bloat, finally, here. On Friday afternoon, of course, when no one will see it. Meanwhile, WW today continues to drag out what should have been one story into an entire week of chopped-up bits.
It will take a lot more than that to erase the deep mean streak in the Portland police force. It's hard to see how decent officers can continue to work there.
If the federal Budget Crisis du Jour isn't resolved, they tell us, a thousand Hanford cleanup workers will be laid off for six months. For all the good they're doing, we're sure we'd hardly notice. Can they take some Portland "planners" with them?
The batteries that have been overheating and have grounded all Boeing 787s have been canned by the European aircraft maker. Airbus was planning to use the lithium-ion batteries on its new wide-body jet, but now it's switching back to nickel-cadmium. Lithium batteries are lighter than nickel ones, and they charge faster, but the technology just doesn't seem to be ready for operations yet, and Boeing is paying for it, big time.
Battery experts say that while lithium-ion batteries weigh 30 percent to 40 percent less than conventional batteries, their contribution to the overall weight of a jetliner is minimal: The empty weight of a Boeing 787, for example, is about 242,000 pounds or 110,000 kilograms; its two lithium-ion batteries weigh 63 pounds each.... He estimated that the added weight of the nickel-cadmium battery was probably equivalent to losing one passenger seat of payload.
If the 787's problems could be remedied by a similar switch, that could well be where the Boeing crisis ends up. Then it's Katy-bar-the-courtroom-door.
The Big Apple is moving to ban plastic foam containers -- no surprise there -- but scroll down and see that they're also going to institute a food slop composting operation, starting on Staten Island. It must be the Ron Wyden influence.
Here's a Portland weird moment: The city is getting ready to gussy up Division Street between 11th Avenue and Chavez Boulevard. (Don't dis us for omitting the first name, middle initial, and accent marks -- we're going with the way it's written on the front of the Tri-Met bus.) Anyway, Division's about to get bioswales, bikey stuff, the whole worthless Sam Rand works.
And we all know what's being set up here. All together now, readers: More cr-apartment bunkers! Transient hipsterism. But it's getting to be a little late the game. The developer types are already overbuilding.
The sad thing is, Division has always been a perfectly good Portland thoroughfare. It didn't, and doesn't, need this kind of "help" from City Hall. But the Joe Zehnder types in the "planning" stable just can't keep their mitts off it. So they'll wreck it.
If you wanted to help Division, the stretch west of 11th is where the assistance is really needed. Railroad yard blight, bombed-out shacks, traffic racket, a few last blue-collar shops desperately holding on; it might actually make a decent place for some bunkers. But no. We've got to play Sim City on the good side. Run regular people out, slap up four-story shinola, parking permits, parking meters, goodbye livability. Subway -- eat fresh.
Here's our dubious distinction for the week:
According to data compiled by Portland police, Portland has more registered sex offenders per capita than any other similar-sized city in the country. It likely has more than any city in the country, but officers in the police sex offender registry detail have not run the numbers for every city.
Could having had a child molester as governor, and another as mayor, have something to do with it?
The story also mention this guy:
She points to a case three weeks ago, when Gordon Michael Strauss, a homeless man, moved here and claimed Northwest Ninth Avenue and Everett Street as his home.
Portland police notified principals at nearby schools about Strauss and his history of preying on teenage girls, strangers whom he would befriend and then rape at knife point. Lincoln High School scheduled self-defense workshops for girls. For two weeks, volunteers walked girl students to cars and TriMet stops.
Strauss left Portland after a few weeks, claiming he’d been chased out of town by publicity. With Strauss now Washington state’s problem, the chaperoning of Lincoln students stopped.
Nice try, but we saw him back at the onramp to the Fremont Bridge on Tuesday afternoon.
While Portland's public schools grow more and more dysfunctional, the David Douglas School District way out on the city's east side seems to be doing just fine, thank you. Yesterday's glowing Willy Week writeup prompted one reader to provide us an executive summary:
Here is a school district with less money, more ESL students, more free lunches, more poverty, and a much higher graduation rate. They simply have less administration costs, smarter management that isn't hired from a national search, and aren't frivolous with money like PPS. I'm sure they don't have an office of diversity.
They built this middle school about a decade ago for only 16 million dollars. In PPS, it would be $116,000,000.
Our friend's child is what Frank Sinatra used to call a "kid singer." But she's a darned good kid singer, and her mom, who's been blogging even longer than we have, is doing what she can to advance the budding musical career. Said mom reports as follows:
My daughter Sun (not the name she was born with, alas), along with the rest of the American Music Program, Thara Memory and Esperanza Spalding (both recent recipients of a Grammy for one of the songs on Esperanza's also-Grammy-winning album, City of Roses) are all featured on [tonight's] episode of OPB's Art Beat.
Just finished watching it; it's worthy of a mention. More info here:
Well, there ya go. Music for a Valentine's Night. The show goes on at 8:00.
Just another example of his talking out of both sides of his mouth can be found here.
We wrote last week about the fact that the Portland public schools had purchased a sponsorship on the local National Public Radio affiliate. We wondered where the money for that was coming from, and whether it was a wise expenditure.
The folks who monitor the craziness emanating from the school superintendent's office checked into it, and here's what they found:
PPS signed a contract for $5000 with OPB to air its message for one month with a "drive time" package. If you look at the Restore Education Before Building site (REBB) using this link, you will see the one-page contract signed by Robb Cowie.
Teresa McGuire, one of the REBB folks, also explained to us that some of the commenters on our post were wrong about some of the facts:
Garage Wine mentioned $8K buys a quarter worth of air time. The PPS rate would appear to be almost double this amount. Sally's comment that this is being paid by public employees is INCORRECT!
The management at PPS appears to operate without any regard to fiscal accountability. It has no mechanism in place for proper auditing of financial transactions. It has an "assistant CFO," David Wynde, who has a masters in social work from the University of Hawaii and as far as I can tell no real experience to hold such a position. His job at U.S. Bank involved community relations. Who is the CFO? Why is he not doing his job?
We have three board positions that are now open for filing with Multnomah County Elections. Please, somebody run who is not "hand picked" by the district.
That would be good, but the problem is finding a smart person with the time to do the job, and who hasn't given up on the Portland public schools. That species gets scarcer by the day.
A reader who's knowledgeable about the slow-moving road widening project on NE Sandy Boulevard east of 122nd in outer Portlandia writes:
ODOT's improvements from 122nd to just a little east of 141st (in the Argay neighborhood, not Parkrose) stem from a high accident rate on heavily traveled Sandy where westbound drivers would get rear-ended while waiting for a break in traffic to turn south at 141st into Argay's residential section and the strip mall at that location.
I seem to recall that ODOT was urged by City of Portland to include marked bike lanes, an unwise decision IMHO. Good luck to westbound cyclists trying to turn south across fast-moving oncoming traffic. Fortunately, few cyclists are seen in this area, and local folks are hoping the newly striped lanes don’t encourage more foolhardy souls to become targets.
There are several wheelchair-bound and some blind folks living in the area as well as numerous apartment dwellers without cars who have to navigate a block south to Prescott Drive and then up along Shaver – a confusing route to those with guide dogs – to access the post office and KMart and numerous businesses along NE 122nd because they can’t navigate the sloppy winter mud on the south side of Sandy, so the sidewalk will be very welcome.
Thank you, helpful reader, for that information. We did note that the sidewalks were to be applauded. The bike lunacy, not so much.
We keep reading news stories about how the Portland Police Athletic League is abruptly going out of business tomorrow, and how bad that's going to be for the kids who use the group's programs. But is anybody ever going to tell us exactly why this is happening? Where has their funding come from? Why is it drying up? Who are the managers? Didn't they see this coming? Where can the money come from to save the organization?
It's not just the kid reporters who need a boot to the head. The publishers who think you can have kid reporters without experienced editors are also bad actors.
An alert reader reports:
Did you see "Hawaii 5-0" on Monday night? McGarrett (Alex O'Loughlin) is having a P.I. (Treat Williams) spy on his former CIA agent mother (Christine Lahti, who is ON to him immediately). While the P.I. and McGarrett's mother are about to have lunch, they engage in a discussion about good wines, pinot noirs, when McGarrett's mother goes on and on about the Wines of Oregon from the Willamette Valley!
To us, this is amazing news. "Hawaii 5-0" is back on the air? And Christine Lahti is playing an adult somebody's mother?
On our occasional jog through the 'hood tonight, the iPod shuffle came around to James Brown, and rapping his way through one of his many righteous jams, he offered these words of advice:
Don't worry, Godfather, we won't.
The Portland police say they are after a guy who has been posing as a fire inspector and attempting to shake down Portland businesses. They're not saying whether he succeeded or not, but reportedly he tried out his con on several businesses in mid-January. So why wasn't the public alerted to this until yesterday?
It's also interesting that he tried it. Are shakedowns by real fire inspectors so commonplace that the businesses are accustomed to paying up in cash on the spot? Maybe in other places, but not in Portland, right?
Our correspondent to the south reports that the front page of the travel section of Sunday's L.A. Times sang the praises of the bakeries of Portlandia.
As is typical with any production by The Don, there's the obvious, and the denials:
After the boundaries were set, the city "learned that there were several areas that wanted to be approved or should have been approved," Mazziotti said.
He declined to comment further, citing non-disclosure agreements.
"Nike did not request for its World Headquarters property near Washington County to be included in the proposed enterprise tax zone," said Mary Remuzzi, Nike spokeswoman, in a statement.
"No decision has been made on where our expansion would occur nor do we have a timeline to share on when a decision will be made," Remuzzi said.
We'll have to cut this post short, as we have to go attend to an equipment problem. Our polygraph machine just overheated.
Here's a funny-yet-sad job posting by the Portland public schools. They're going to hire a full-time "capital communications coordinator," at a salary up to $64,000, to handle the p.r. just for the upcoming remodel of three high schools. Really? A separate p.r. flack for a remodeling project?
How much are you willing to bet that this person will also be working on the next construction pork bond measure, which we already know is coming? Super Carole's gang got off scot-free when they last used public money to campaign illegally -- Kate Brown bungled the regulations. And so there probably will be no penalty if they cheat again next time.
Whatever the new "capital communications coordinator" will be doing, it's a waste of money. Maybe Super Carole should hire a math teacher instead.
Even in a fish tank.
Our post of yesterday questioning the status of the repaving of Sandy Boulevard east of 122nd Avenue brought the usual knowledgeable response from our readers. As it turns out, drivers are not getting any extra lanes -- there'll still be only two for motorists -- but now there'll be two lovely bike lanes for the people on the margins who want to ride their two-wheeler in that area. There's also a new sidewalk, which is already functional, and we applaud that. But now that we know what the street changes were, we're a little embarrassed to say we could care less if they ever get opened.
No laws were strong enough to contain the genius. It was truly a force of nature.
It's hard to believe, but Stephen Kessler, the bad, bad dude who shot a Rocky Butte jail guard in the head as part of an escape and wild crime spree 30 years ago, is actually coming up for parole. Of course, he's an altar boy now, a completely changed man, a philosopher, a credit to society, yada yada yada, but he was convicted of bank robbery, attempted murder, and kidnapping. He destroyed a jail guard's life. Supposedly his sentences were going to run 145 years, but of course, in America's absurd criminal justice system, those are meaningless numbers.
If you were on the parole board, how would you vote?
UPDATE. 5:10 p.m.: The parole board has unanimously agreed.
In the tax world, where we spend most of our time, it's a big month, because the 100th anniversary of the federal income tax is upon us. The 16th Amendment to the Constitution, which authorizes the tax, was ratified on Feb. 3, 1913, and the first law implementing the newly authorized tax was passed on October 3 of that year.
When that first income tax act was passed, it was made retroactive to March 1, and so that's when the first income subject to tax was received or earned. We suppose that some folks will celebrate the 100th birthday in October, but for us, we're going with the effective date, which is two weeks from Friday. We're still not sure exactly how the celebration is going to go, but a party is called for.
The income tax was a progressive measure, designed to, well, tax the wealthy. It was a Teddy Roosevelt project, although it didn't make it into law until Woodrow Wilson was in the White House. Democrats and western Republicans were the main promoters of the tax. It was inserted into a law that also lowered tariffs on imported goods. Nowadays, tariffs have been greatly diminished in importance, and the income tax has morphed, from an esoteric matter of concern only to the rich to an annual ordeal endured by nearly every working American, and even by foreigners with income from the United States.
Perhaps the best way to celebrate the 100th anniversary would be to start talking about scrapping the income tax in favor of some other form of taxation. We like the suggestion of making the income tax applicable to only the top 10% of income levels, with a national sales tax of some kind to replace most of the income tax. A national sales tax, such as a value-added tax similar to those in place in many industrialized countries, would be a drag to have to pay. But can you imagine not having income tax taken out of your paycheck? And not having to deal with taxes every April? It's a tradeoff worth talking about.
The "planners" have to eat off it for a good, long while.
This is the guy to whom Vera Katz handed over the city's future on a silver platter. And who owns Char-Lie Hales. When you deal with him, you suffer. Portland taxpayers are surely suffering, and will continue to do so. It's the main thing wrong in a city that has many things wrong. Maybe the IRS will finally put the guy out of commission.
Mark Zusman offers some advice at Arizona State.
A reader writes:
Here is what happens when a power failure happens along the supplying grid to the great unifier toy train in the iconic super city of Portland, Oregon (7:20 this evening).
I believe the mayor will call for bicycle rickshaws to transport the passed-out guys from the toy train and a focus group to study the effects that lead to affects in Portlanders when the dream becomes a reality. The "MADE IN USA" paint job just completes the the ironic paradox of redundancy. Enjoy it, voters!
And sing along: "Like a bird, on a dead wire...."
Now they're bugging riders' conversations. One more reason to drive your car.
The advantages of living La Vida Creativa are apparent from this story: When you get dooced from your barista job, you have more time to promote your album.
Some people love cruises. We've never been on one. And we won't be starting soon.
Well, we were partly right and partly wrong. That street widening project on Sandy Boulevard east of 122nd is a state highway project, not a city street project. But oh yes, it's got that Portlandia bikey goodness:
The Sandy Boulevard (US 30 Bypass) project improves safety between NE 122nd Avenue to NE 141st Avenue by rebuilding the highway.
After construction, this section of Sandy Boulevard (US 30 Bypass) will feature:
- A center left-turn lane to provide safer vehicle turning movements
- Two 12-foot travel lanes
- Two 6-foot bike lanes
- One 6-foot sidewalk on the south side only (there are railroad tracks on the north side)
- One 4-foot stormwater facility on the south side only
- Upgraded traffic signals at the intersections of Sandy Boulevard and NE 122nd Avenue and NE 138th Avenue
- Improvements for pedestrians crossing Sandy Boulevard at NE 131st Place, including installation of a flashing beacon
So soon you can pedal out to Costco and bring home your Costco load on your cargo bike. Awesome!
The reader who complained of a possible security weakness in the Multnomah County's new website writes to tell us that the danger has been averted:
I just wanted to let you know that your posting my concerns about the need to protect library patrons' personal information on multoclib.org has worked. The library web form pages I checked, including Email a librarian, Comments and suggestions, Account services chat, and Suggest a purchase, are all now employing the Secure Socket Later (SSL) protocol. This means that where users are asked to provide emails, phone numbers, library card numbers and PIN numbers, their info is protected.
I didn't hold out much hope after reading the library marketing guy's uninformed reply in the comments, but apparently someone who could do something about it was also paying attention.
Thanks for your help in getting this flaw fixed.
We really wonder if we had anything to do with it, but however it happened, we're glad it's been resolved.
On a Costco run the other day, we noticed that the City of Portland still hasn't opened the new lanes they've created on the south (eastbound) side of Sandy Boulevard for several dozen blocks starting at 122nd Avenue:
The paving work has been finished for many weeks, but the new lanes remain, mysteriously, closed to all traffic. What gives?
Don't tell us: The new lanes are for bikes, and we're waiting to find the money to paint the lines? Hey, come on, the project includes curbs -- that must make it a sewer project. And the aquifers containing the city's backup drinking water supply are under there -- that must make it a water project. Mr. Hales, tear down these barricades.
UPDATE, 4:58 p.m.: More information here.
An alert reader called our attention to two stories on the front page of the Metro "section" of the O on Friday. He points out that neither story connects the dots:
It's February 12. The year is 43 days old. Tax Day is a mere 62 days from now. In other words, tax season is 41% over.
This year, nearly everyone with income who lives in Portland is supposed to start paying the city $35 a head to support the arts -- especially rich people arts, like the opera. Where are the forms? The tax, whose constitutionality is clearly going to be tested in a lawsuit, was passed on November 6, which was 98 days ago. And the campaign to pass it went on for months before that. What's the holdup on the reporting and payment procedures? Surely the city can't be purposely delaying the process to confound the court challengers -- can it?
Come on, Mayor Char-Lie. Lots of folks have already filed their income taxes. Let's get going on this one.
Well, the wrecking of the Beaumont shopping district in northeast Portland has officially begun. The developer weasels have put the chain link fence up around several lots on the north side of Fremont Street near 45th Avenue. The humble, low-rise retail space there will now be destroyed for a 50-unit multi-story cr-apartment complex:
The soul of the district is about to be ripped out. The places where for decades real small businesses could start out and grow will be demolished to make way for some soulless human warehouses. They say it will have retail on the street level, but it will probably turn out to be some corporate garbage like a Subway shop or a cell phone store -- maybe not even that. In Irvington they promised people a Zupan's -- instead, after years of vacant storefronts, they got a real estate office and an ATM.
The bunker on Fremont will bring in a new revolving cast of dozens of apartment dwellers, most with cars, and no off-street parking for any of them. There aren't even any pay-to-park lots around. And so the businesses on adjoining blocks will suffer greatly, as will nearby homeowners who suddenly won't have anywhere for themselves or their guests to park. Then the city will put in parking meters along Fremont and wrap them around the corners. Finally, they'll charge the locals $60 or more a year for a hunting license to try to find a space within a couple of blocks of their houses.
This is Portland "planning." This is "smart growth." Sucking the life out of what was a nice, easy place to live. We're all for zoning and sound land use, but you know what? We're against rape, which this most definitely is.
So many in local government are responsible for the destruction. Here is only a brief partial list:
And of course, the real estate mob that controls Portland and uses these politicians and bureaucrats as their marionettes.
Ironically, the developers now trashing this neighborhood are out-of-town guys who for years have been slapping up junk housing in the suburbs. The idea of Portland "planning" was to help insure that people like that didn't wreck the countryside. So now they have moved in and are wrecking the inner city. If they must ruin a place, Lord forgive us, but we'd rather it be Newberg.
It's sad to see the qualities we once valued so highly in the city disappear in less than a decade. It's even sadder to realize that they're never coming back. Scout around for a new place, kids. And when you get there, wise up before you vote for "smart growth" again.
We got a firsthand look at the operation of the new traffic barrier in the center of Fremont Street at 57th Avenue yesterday. It's definitely got eastbound traffic gummed up, because it makes it much more difficult for eastbounders to get around folks who are stuck trying to turn left and go north on 57th.
Much more difficult, but not quite impossible. We saw one eastbound driver squeeze around to the right of a vehicle waiting to make that left. It's a less safe maneuver than it was before, because there's less room to do it in. That intersection needs to be widened, and the left turn lane needs to have a refuge and an arrow. But of course, this is Portlandia, and if it helps traffic flow, it will never happen. For you youngsters out there who may have been wondering, this is why people locate their businesses in Hillsboro.
Those guys are gangsters, pure and simple. Granny, whatever you do, don't give them any more of your money! Find a charity that helps needy people and give it to them.
It turns out that the "natural flavor" used in your raspberry and vanilla treats could be coming from the anus of a beaver. (Scroll down to "Castoreum.") And no, we are not just saying that for the Google search traffic (although it should be pretty brisk).
It's a big one.
The Portland planning cabal has announced its solution to the problem of neighborhood destruction via cr-apartment bunkers without off-street parking. And as usual, it's classic passive-aggressive. Oh, they're going to make the developer weasels build parking, all right -- but only if they're slapping up more than 40 units. And they'll have to build just one parking space per four units.
Are they kidding? They'll still be able to plop down 39 units in with no parking at all? And if they put in 80 units, they can get away with 20 spaces?
This is "sustainability" queen Susan Anderson and chief "planning" zealot Joe Zehnder at their worst. These two flip the existing neighborhoods the bird at every opportunity. But this time it's in the guise of helping the homeowners. If Mayor Char-Lie knew what he was doing, he'd show both of these people the door at his earliest convenience.
And then there's some sort of loopy tie-in with Zipcar. Why in heaven's name is the city so big on promoting Zipcar? It's a private car rental company -- one of many. The sweetheart treatment that outfit receives is mighty suspicious. It's almost as if Neil Goldschmidt owned it.
The official proposal is here. If the City Council knows what's good for Portland, it will pronounce it dead on arrival and send it back to the planning children for a complete overhaul.
Our rant about the tone-deaf customer "service" that Hewlett-Packard provides has prompted an offer by a local HP employee to have someone personally deliver us a replacement ink cartridge from the company's local engineering and marketing operation. It is certainly a nice gesture, and appreciated, but now that we've come this far with the national apparatus, we're going to try mailing the defective item, as instructed, to the HP "escalation" gal in Boise. At this point, it's more a journalistic project than anything else. But thank you to that HP worker for stepping up.
If you ever want to see the official press releases from the Portland police before the young reporters at the O warm them over, you can go straight to the source here. We were leafing through some of the recent entries on that page, and we found an interesting nugget in the story about last week's successful arrest of an alleged hostage-taking suspect in southeast Portland. We hadn't noticed this factoid in any of the mainstream media warm-overs.
Guess who was the commanding officer for the raid. Hint: He's a colorful character, a "history buff":
At approximately 6:35 p.m., East Precinct Captain Mark Kruger, the Critical Incident Commander at the scene, directed SERT to immediately initiate the hostage rescue. SERT officers deployed numerous "flash bangs" (non-lethal explosive devices) to disorient and distract the suspect as they made entry.
The suspect was confronted inside the residence where he immediately complied with SERT officers and was taken into custody without incident or injury. The suspect was not armed at the time of his arrest.
There was more drama involved than might have been necessary, but still, if they were going to send in the troops, militia-style, they may very well have had the right figure out front.
We think it's a great idea that the President might have to go get a judge's permission before summarily executing one of the country's own citizens. We also find it profoundly sad that there has to be a discussion of this -- and that whatever court there is, will be secret. 9/11 set this country back at least 100 years, maybe more.
We see that old John McCain is opposed to the court. Maybe he'll go along if they offer to make Sarah Palin the judge.
In a dramatic illustration of how well Oregon's vote-by-mail system is working, the state has prosecuted a guy for seeming to try to buy other people's votes. This crackdown teaches us all that if you want to fill out somebody else's ballot for them in Oregon, don't use Craigslist to ask strangers to let you do it.
"Mr. Hirschman gave a full confession.... He stated in his interview and at trial that he is an Internet 'troll' and that he posted the ad to 'agitate' and cause a stir."
"It's equivalent to joking about a bomb in an airport when you're going through the facility. There are some things you don't joke about."
And come on -- this is vote-by-mail. It's enough of a joke all by itself. It doesn't need anybody else's help to be utterly ridiculous.
In addition to the road-raging, leg-stroking captain who was demoted to the sex crimes unit; beyond the "military history buff" captain who builds shrines to Nazis; on top of the chief who presides over them all with the keen observation skills of Sergeant Schultz -- the kids at the Merc give us a couple more ne'er-do-wells to roll our eyes at:
In the most eyebrow-raising of the two new examples, Reese set aside a unanimous dismissal vote for a cop accused of failing to file a use of force report and then lying and dodging questions to cover his tracks. Board members were so upset by the allegations, they basically said the officer fundamentally lacked the credibility to continue working as a cop....
In another case, in which a cop lied to his boss after getting caught buying a TV 80 blocks from his assigned district, Reese bucked a 4-1 vote for termination and ordered a demotion. Like in the Wyatt case.
This week, the world will get to see "Alien Boy," the long-awaited documentary about the murder of a scrawny mentally ill man, James Chasse, at the hands of two or three goons on the Portland police force. Much of their accounts of the killing also lacked candor. It would be great if we could teach the children to trust the Portland police, but we can't. It's really sad.
We've felt for a long time that a small sales tax on transactions in stocks, options, and the evil "derivatives" would be a good idea, particularly if the deals take place on an established market. We tax Grandma if she wants to fly on an airplane, or have a cell phone, or have a maid, or put gas in her car. The people who use our securities markets should not be immune. To us, the case for a financial transactions tax is an easy one.
Bluegene Congressman Peter DeFazio is reportedly poised to reintroduce his version of such a tax any day now, in a bill co-sponsored by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa). The bill would impose a 0.03% tax on such transactions -- if you move $10,000 worth of stock, you pay $3. The feds would collect $352 billion over 10 years. And the people who churn the market for big-time gambling juice -- and bring on "flash crashes" in the course of doing so -- will pay to play.
You can bet there's a lot of opposition to this idea. If you cock your ear toward Dunthorpe, you can hear the screams of outrage. And it's a sure thing that the Wall Street sellouts in the Democratic ranks, including the President and Ron Wyden (R-N.Y.), will once again quietly do what they can to sabotage it.
This guy's got an even more "progressive" idea (scroll down to "Structural Problems" and click on "more"): make the rate of the tax adjustable, and move it up and down to control volatility in the markets. Now, that's enough to make Mitt Romney's head turn all the way around and spray out pea soup.
We're slow on the uptake sometimes. Did you know there is a website called Portland Society Page, where there are pages and pages of photos of our city's beautiful people, hobnobbing night and day? The site's been going for more than a year and a half, and we just found it.
See your Dunthorpe overlords and their shiny jewelry as they mingle at gala this-and-thats! Politician photo ops galore! You can almost smell the money changing hands. And happy tale after happy tale. "Did you hear? It's official -- the elephant baby is ours!"
Get out the salt shaker, but click here for a bright and shiny world.
No wonder the city's main newspaper goes easy on the Portland City Hall planning cabal -- the paper's controlled by the same mindset.
You have to wonder how much of this is going on in Portland. If we had to guess, we'd bet on quite a lot. It's sort of like "green" -- compassion for the less fortunate is a convenient political sales tool in a place like Portlandia. It's probably making some real estate sharpies well off.
Life is too short for this. Nothing's more ridiculous than an internet slap-fight. But yesterday we actually found ourselves in a urination contest with the spouse of the Oregon state treasurer, Ted Wheeler, on Wheeler's Facebook page. She's taken down what she wrote, and we should probably let it drop, but we've decided that our exchange with the future first lady is worth preserving:
Not our finest moment, to be sure. You probably shouldn't say negative things on Facebook. Since we can't always resist doing that, we've "unfriended" Treasurer Wheeler, so that we won't be tempted to break up the Portland Polite party on his page any more. For that matter, we should probably "unfriend" all of the politicians we've accumulated on our "friend" list.
But we're definitely keeping an eye out for you-know-who. Wow.
The guy who took telephones from round dials to push buttons, and oversaw many other developments on the user side of phone technology, has left the planet after a long, rich life. His name was John Karlin, and he lived in New Jersey.
O reporter Joseph Rose, who ought to get some sort of prize for his exposé of the culture of fatigue at Tri-Met, decided to race the Portland streetcar on foot to see if you really can get places faster by walking. The results are here.
Time flies. It's been more than seven years since we tested the same hypothesis ourself. The results of our test are here.
An alert reader noted our post yesterday about Gatsby Wyden and the killing of U.S. citizens by the U.S. government without due process of law, as is required by the Constitution. And as a card-carrying member of the ACLU, she directs us to this page, which explores the issues from a civil liberties perspective. Nasty stuff. The terrorists are winning.
There's an interesting ad on this page of this week's Asian Reporter:
TRI-MET'S DYSFUNCTION PUTS SAFETY AT RISK... TRI-MET'S DYSFUNCTION PUTS SERVICE QUALITY AT RISK... TRIMET'S DYSFUNCTION PUTS PUBLIC FUNDS AT RISK... TRIMET'S DYSFUNCTION PUTS WORKER'S HEALTH AT RISK....
Our favorite passage:
It's not just spending millions on new furniture, it's also signing what the Portland Business Journal calls "the biggest office lease of the year." It's spending nearly $2 million dollars giving new buses a “nose job” so they'll look like trains. It's having 161 managers being paid a base wage of over $75,000 a year, 55 of whom get over $100,000. This is to supervise a schedule-driven transit system service that can essentially run itself.
We hope there'll be more of these ads taken out where more people can read them. While we have no sympathy for the fat and sassy bus drivers, they do speak the truth most of the time.
Southern California woke up early.
Here's the setup:
A Bend woman accidentally shot her husband when her Derringer fell out of her pocket, hit the floor and fired.... He was taken to St. Charles-Bend hospital in serious condition....
KTVZ reports it happened Thursday at a McDonald's restaurant, and about 15 other customers who were inside at the time were startled by the gunfire.
And the punchline?
When the clowns in the Sam Rand administration at Portland City Hall wrecked the city's garbage pickup system, one of the supposed environmental benefits was that Portlanders' food slop would be carted shorter distances -- only out to the growing stenchpile of North Plains rather than all the way to Arlington. But now it turns out that the slop is going to be trucked all the way to Crescent, Oregon, which is halfway between Bend and Klamath Falls. How "green" is that?
Portland's "unique" metropolitan area government is paying $400,000 to the sketchy California carny outfit that owns the new baby elephant at the Portland zoo. For that, the zoo also gets the baby's sire, a 42-year-old stud named Tusko. And don't worry! It's not tax money. No, no, it comes from a different pot of private money. Of course, now public money will be used to pay for the things that the private money would have paid for, but taxpayers shouldn't care at all about this! Honest.
Meanwhile, Metro is using bond money that voters authorized for public open space to fence off a bunch of land in Clackamas County for an elephant sanctuary. It's also blowing millions to expand yet again the elephant pen at the zoo.
Keeping elephants in zoos is a questionable practice to begin with, and the "training" the animals receive at the hands of outfits like the one that's getting $400,000 from Metro is cruel. We think these new elephants should be the zoo's last, and the whole subversion of parks money into a larger elephant captivity program should be reversed. Metro is hoping that that's a conversation that the public will never have. But maybe the local animal rights people will step up and make it happen. We sure hope so.
UPDATE, 10:23 p.m.: Metro's chief p.r. flack, Jim Middaugh, tells us that no open space bond funds were spent on the elephant sanctuary operation. We take him at his word, but then we wonder why we needed an open space bond if we had money lying around for a worthless, possibly even evil, elephant sanctuary. More next week.
Our rant of yesterday about the abominable customer "service" side of Hewlett-Packard prompted an email response from one of its minions. First came this:
Thank you for writing to Hewlett-Packard. Your comments have been received by HP and have been forwarded to the appropriate people for review.
CEO Customer Relations
Then an appropriate person wrote:
My team has received your email. First off, we are sorry for any inconvenience or frustration this issue may have caused. HP cartridges do have a warranty and normally we would have you call HP Support to troubleshoot. However, as a one-time customer satisfaction gesture, my team will be happy to replace the cartridge. To qualify for exchange, your print supplies must meet the following criteria:
Unopened (making exception for opened cartridge)
In Warranty (see packaging)
All cartridges returned to HP are recycled in a responsible manner. Parts that do not qualify for exchange will not be returned to the customer but will be recycled instead.
To process an exchange, you may send your cartridges to the address below. Please complete the bottom portion of this letter and return it with your cartridges. Upon receipt, we will provide assistance in any way we can.
If you would like to speak to me, my office hours are 8:30AM to 4:30PM mountain time.
ISB Escalation Team, Hewlett Packard
Name: Jack Bogdanski
Shipping Address (no PO Box):
New Printer Model Number:
Printer Serial Number:
MAIL TO: Hewlett Packard Co, Attn: Nicki Shifflet, Mailstop 404, 11311 Chinden Blvd, Boise, ID 83714
Why is this person telling me:
Unopened (making exception for opened cartridge)
In Warranty (see packaging)
And why am I being asked for this:
New Printer Model Number:
Printer Serial Number:
It just screams, "You don't matter and we're not listening." No more HP equipment, ever.
How exciting! Or pitiful. It's one of those.
The Trib (motto: "Light rail and gravel for all") had a piece yesterday about how Benson High School has put its student radio station back on the air. It's hired a part-time manager, and made the school principal the nominal full-time general manager so as to satisfy the FCC. We're glad to hear that the station has resumed broadcasts, but like Benson, it's limping along now, and getting nowhere near the respect it deserves from the Bobbie-heads and Super Carole. Oh well, at least it's something.
Having been off the air for a long spell, the station probably lost a good chunk of its audience, which will be slow to return. By the time it does, the school office will probably have yet another new idea, and there'll be more disruption. Anyway, our years in student radio in the '70s were some of the greatest times we've ever had, and we wish the Benson broadcasters nothing but the best.
Sen. Ron Wyden (R-N.Y.) has let his liberal constituents down time after time when it comes to screwing the middle class. But he's been raising Cain for a while now about the U.S. government's targeted assassinations of its own citizens without any semblance of due process of law. That's scary as all get-out, and Wyden's been pushing for a public dialogue about it.
After a long time sounding the alarm, he's apparently, finally, getting somewhere on this issue. Even the White House is now playing ball, at least a little. It's hard to trust anything that comes out of Washington any more, but it appears that Wyden may actually be doing some good on this. There's a long way to go before we can stop worrying about it.
In any reputable organization, somebody would be resigning over this. Or should we say Rees-igning.
It's been a mild winter here in Portlandia, and we doubt that there'll be any snow locally now that we've made it to Mardi Gras weekend, but that isn't going to stop us from providing you, our reader, with the live team coverage you need of the East Coast blizzard. There is going to be a blizzard on the East Coast later today, and that means dangerous conditions back there. To tell you what this weather emergency means to you, we're going to send you out to Portland Airport, where our reporter, Bob Brenner, is standing by with the latest. Bob?
Thanks, Jack. Out here at PDX it's chaos as dozens of flights to cities in the northeast have been cancelled. Just look at these departure monitors showing cancelled flights. These flights are all cancelled. One after another on the board. Newark, Philadelphia, Boston -- here's one to Reno that's going to be delayed. And since the flights are cancelled, that means hundreds of travelers are going nowhere. We talked to one of them, Jennifer Anderson, earlier this morning.
So, where are you supposed to be flying to?
My boyfriend and I are supposed to go to Boston to meet his parents.
And you can't get there?
They just told us our flight is cancelled and we probably won't get out until Monday.
So what are you going to do?
We'll probably go back to his place and make some chili. His roommate was supposed to have the apartment all to himself, so that might be a little awkward. We also have to get my dogs from my friend's house.
That was Jennifer. Her flight was cancelled. Now, not only are outgoing flights cancelled, but so are many inbound flights from the east coast that are supposed to arrive in Portland tonight. Just look at these arrival monitors showing cancelled flights. These flights are all cancelled. Again, one after another on the board. New York, Boston, Chicago -- all cancelled. And so if you have plans to come out to the airport to pick someone up tonight, you might want to check with the airlines ahead of time, because when a flight is cancelled, that often means it won't be arriving.
We talked to Tri-Met and they tell us that the MAX train to the airport will be running on a winter weather alert schedule beginning at 4:00 this afternoon. They advise people to give themselves plenty of extra time if they are coming out to the airport, even if it's only to pick up some luggage.
So that's the scene from the airport. We'll keep you up to date. Jack, back to you.
Thank you, Bob. Now we're going to take you to StormCenter 9000.2, where meteorologist Erin Barrimore has been tracking this storm. Erin?
Jack, it's actually two storms, one from the west and one from the south, and they're going to merge just outside of Wilmington, Delaware right around happy hour this afternoon, and then they're expected to go roaring through New York City, out Long Island, up to Boston, and into Portland, Maine. Just look at these accumulation totals we're expecting. Up to a foot of snow in the Big Apple, two feet of snow in Boston, and possibly more flooding in the areas hit by Hurricane Sandy.
We're expecting the snow to stop sometime between tomorrow and Monday, and then there'll be the long process of digging out from under snow, ice, and slush. Because it will be below freezing, the snow won't be melting until after temperatures rise, which they will eventually. Back to you at Blog Central.
Thank you, Erin. Now we're going to send you out to the Sylvan overpass, where bojack.org StormCenter 9000.2's Nick Preston has the latest on road conditions. Nick?
Jack, here on the Sylvan overpass, we're looking down on Highway 26, and you can see that it's a little foggy this morning, and so police are advising motorists to exercise caution, especially if they're driving out to the airport. It's a little foggy out at the airport, too, and many flights are cancelled because of the bad weather back east.
Also, if you're going to be driving in New York City tonight, you're urged to use extreme caution, as the roads are going to be slippery. If you're staying in a hotel along the New Jersey Turnpike, be sure to have a flashlight, and an emergency kit with three days of food and water. Also, be sure to go to a liquor store before they all close. And if you are going to be in Boston, turn on your faucet and let it drip rather than having it shut off entirely so that your pipes don't freeze. Back to you, Jack.
Thanks, Nick. Stay tuned to bojack.org StormCenter 9000.2 all weekend as we continue our team coverage of the East Coast Blizzard of 2013.
This story tears at the heart strings, and reminds us what a good idea it would be to ask our political candidates about what pills they are currently popping. Especially the ones who have their violent moments.
A reader in the know lays out the plan: "Hearing Monday and following Monday, then vote on both floors and Gov signs. $450MM to be bonded based on $35MM per year slice of federal transportation funds Oregon gets each year." That's almost as quick as they jump when Phil Knight wants a tax break. Looks like Willy Week and the bike ninnies will be going into overdrive over the next 10 days.
But at the rate this project is going, it will take several times that amount in state funding to actually build it. The people in charge can spend $450MM just planning the seat configurations for the MAX train. The tolls are going to be something else again. Pass the popcorn.
The planes were rushed into service without proper testing -- the traveling public were the guinea pigs. Now the regulators are going to take their sweet time before they let them fly again -- as well they should. But Boeing's probably going to take a serious financial hit.
Mr. Brodd said Boeing’s tests in 2007 might have miscalculated the likelihood of the problems because "when you’re making stuff for the first time, you don’t know" all the possibilities.
Ponder that when you board one of these things. Your safety is in the hands of a Japanese battery company named GS Yuasa. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the flight.
And for that matter, why does Oregon State University?
... even the wimpy kids are speaking up.
Beaverton's "urban renewal" sharpie, Don The Don Mazziotti, has scored an EPA grant to show us all how "green" his pals' apartment bunkers and streetcars can be. Remember when he and Merritt Paulson were going to pave over Lents Park with a parking lot made out of "eco-bricks"? Too, too funny.
Oh, and guess what:
Because Beaverton's urban renewal district received far less money from property taxes than expected in 2012, the city has applied for grants and other assistance to help pay for projects.
Truly epic. People make fun of Beaverton, and in this case, for good reason.
More fun times with Hewlett-Packard. Last night we left this message on the web page of the CEO of that fine organization:
Dear Meg Whitman:
I am in Portland, Oregon. I have a defective HP 97 color ink cartridge. It is still within the warranty period. I bought it in a package of three at a Costco warehouse that does not sell individual 97 cartridges. The other cartridges in the package have already been used. I want to return this defective one to HP and get a refund or replacement.
I defy you to go onto the HP website and find instructions on how to do this. And having dealt previously with the utterly ridiculous people you have answering the phone in India, I would not waste another 10 seconds calling them. Within five minutes, they'll be telling me to uninstall and reinstall Windows!
So please, WHERE DO I MAIL THIS DEFECTIVE INK CARTRIDGE TO GET THE REPLACEMENT? I look forward to your response, which I will be writing about on my blog, http://bojack.org; it is visited by several thousand people each day.
Ms. Whitman, you really have to be kidding with your customer "service" operation. Once the HP printer in our house dies, it is the very last HP product that we will ever buy.
"I guess I’m more interested in places being energy efficient and livable than I am in them looking exactly as they did a hundred years ago," said Evans.
Yeah, those century-old single-family homes have got to go. We've got Exceptional Apartments by André.
We say "thank you" many times a day. When we were growing up, we were taught that the proper response was "you're welcome." But it seems nowadays for anyone under the age of 30, the latter phrase has been replaced by "no problem."
"Thank you." "No problem."
"You're welcome" is so warm and embracing. "You are welcome to what I have done for you. Welcome: It is well that you have come. I regard you as my guest-friend, in a tradition that extends all the way back to ancient times." Whereas "no problem" takes the spirit of kindness and cooperation completely out of the equation. "By thanking me, you are suggesting that there was a problem. Well, you're wrong about that. There is no problem."
It's just awful.
You job-seekers out there, take some free advice from an old guy: When the prospective employer says "thank you," don't say "no problem." Say "you're welcome."
Some day you'll look back and thank us for this advice. You're welcome.
We'll give you a hint: His annual PERS check is $252,327.
Another committee! And best of all, another committee of Oregon legislators:
The committee will be made up of the membership of the Senate Business and Transportation and House Transportation and Economic Development committees. It will be co-chaired by Sen. Bruce Starr (R-Hillsboro), Sen. Lee Beyer (D-Springfield), Rep. Cliff Bentz (R-Ontario), and Rep. Tobias Read (D-Beaverton).
Four chairmen! We're saved!
It's hard to believe he can't figure out that when you're in a hole, stop digging.
Oh, and the road-raging, female-subordinate's-knee-touching lieutenant is now suing the city for demoting him.
An arbitrator recently overturned his firing of an officer who was caught using prescription pills, providing them to another officer and then drove drunk, he said.
No names, of course. What a wretched embarrassment the entire force has become.
The City of Portland is recruiting volunteers to clean out its new concrete drainage ditches. Can you imagine what they'll find? And surely they'll be deputized to turn in anyone who does something incorrect like washing their car on the street. Endless fun times ahead.
Sentences like this really should stop every American in his or her tracks:
The safety board is looking at whether the F.A.A. fully understood any potential issues with the volatile new batteries before it approved their use under special conditions.
The FAA is approving aircraft design before it "fully understands" the safety "issues"? It just trusts Boeing? Scary.
Good heaven, whatever could they be thinking? If the post office stops delivering mail on Saturday, Oregonians might have a couple fewer days to fill out their ballots in the state's goofy vote-by-snail-mail system. This is going to be especially hard on that one person in the household who fills out the ballots for two, three, or more people to sign. And the poor dead voters -- do you know how long it takes for a cadaver to make up its mind among several equally worthless candidates? If this goes through, everything is going to grind to a halt.
Stamps went up to 46 cents apiece recently. But Costco's still selling them for $44.75 per 100.
Why is Mayor Char-Lie spending his time and city bandwidth promoting Tina Kotek's political career? His hands should be full right now trying to save the city that the Sam Rand Twins have set on a course to ruin.
It's campaign finance reform. So we can have some more high-caliber political candidates like himself? Egad.
The departing assistant Portland police chief, Mike Kuykendall, is taking shots from all sides. Not only is he being set up for a lawsuit by the Nazi-looking-but-he-swears-he's-not police captain, but the subordinate that Kuykendall says he was trying to support against said captain is also apparently ready to bring legal action against him:
She contends Kruger harassed, retaliated and discriminated against her once she was promoted to lieutenant and assigned to the precinct. She also alleges Kuykendall "minimized" her concerns that Kruger might have been violating bureau policies.
Kuykendall, who oversaw internal affairs investigations as the bureau's civilian Director of Services, suggested Galvan be transferred to North Precinct and wrote to her in a text on May 21: "I am concerned you are not in a situation where you can thrive and reach your full potential as a lieutenant," Galvan's tort claim says.
But the money graph is way down in the story:
Galvan gave the text messages she exchanged with Kuykendall to police internal affairs last fall, part of their investigation into her complaint against Kruger. She said the texts reflected "their shared concern regarding Capt. Kruger's prejudices."
Her attorney said internal affairs assured Galvan the texts would be kept confidential, but instead they were disclosed to Kruger, via the Portland Police Commanding Officers' Union.
Moral: If you trust the Portland police, you will pay dearly for it. There's more integrity in the Mafia.
In a bizarre twist, the Clackistani rebel warlord is developing a fan base among Portland's bike children. You talk about a Portlandia episode.
The new mayor of Portland has asked the city's top bureaucrats to cut 10% out of their operations, and true to form, the police department is acting up. The budget that Chief Mike Reese has submitted includes cuts that are not politically feasible, and everybody knows it:
The budget proposal suggests cutting the entire school police, mounted patrol and property crimes investigation units....
The police proposal suggests Kuykendall and the bureau have responded by playing budgetary hardball, utilizing what's known in City Hall as a "Washington Monument strategy": offering up the most famed and beloved programs for cuts, in a gamble that the City Council won't actually slash them.
Mayor Char-Lie's response to this maneuver will be quite telling. If he plays along, we'll know for sure that he has no genuine interest in meaningful reform of the police bureau. If he pushes back, he'll score some points to add to his total so far.
Developer kingpin Homer Williams's plans to slap up junky apartments on the east side of Lake Oswego -- plans that once featured a streetcar to Portland -- appear altogether dead this morning. The city council down that way repealed the Foothills "urban renewal" district last night. This district was rushed through by Homer's pets on the council before they left office at year-end. They gave up their political careers for him, and now their grand plans to funnel millions of tax dollars to him lie in tatters. Couldn't happen to a more deserving bunch.
The vote was 4-2, and it would have been 5-2 had the new mayor not been tied up with his family tragedy.
What a stunning turnaround. The cr-apartment weasels are destroying Portland proper, but apparently there will still be some sane suburbs for people with money and real lives to escape to. And Portlanders won't have to pay either to build the infernal streetcar down there or to move the Portland sewage treatment plant that sits near where Williams's schlock development was supposed to go.
From what we can gather, there's a movement afoot by property owners along Highway 43 in Dunthorpe to bring legal action to take back the abandoned rail right-of-way through their area, a move that might kill off any lingering Lake O. train fantasies permanently. That would be a welcome development.
We finished the Bloggess' book last night. Let's Pretend This Never Happened. It's a crazy ride, because she's certifiably nuts. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but it ain't exactly Oliver Twist.
In the work are many truths, but they won't show up in Bartlett's Quotations. "I just realized that I just went to a gas station in my pajamas to buy coffee. I just became a giant warning sign to others." "Is pot illegal if it's expired? And how do you know whether it's expired?" And like that. Jenny Lawson -- whoa.
All it took was three chords and some itchin' desire, and this guy had made his mark. It will last for centuries.
Unlike the New York Times, which regularly sends gullible rubes out to write travel brochure fodder about Portlandia, a TV station from Carolina actually assigned a reporter who took a balanced look at our city's streetcar madness.
The honchos at the Portland water bureau, relentless in their mission creep, really dig themselves as big-time wheeler-dealers. So perhaps we shouldn't be surprised that they're getting ready to sign three-year contracts for not one but two on-call commercial real estate brokers for their latest backroom shenanigans:
The successful Proposer(s) will assist the PWB in Commercial Real Estate Brokerage Service tasks that exceed PWB’s resources or expertise. The Successful Proposer’s tasks will include but not be limited to the following services:
• Site Search/Survey and analysis of market conditions;
• Valuations, Financial and Project Feasibility Analysis;
• Site Acquisition;
• Sale or Disposition of Property;
• Leasing Services; and,
• Additional real estate analysis and support services as required.
You can bet somebody's nephew has already got at least one of these deals locked up, but if you want to see the window dressing, it's here.
The Clackistani rebel chieftain has made good on his campaign promise not to sign up for benefits under the government employee pension system now that he's county chair. That will save the county tens of thousands of dollars over his four year terms, and it's money that Ludlow personally is leaving on the table to make a point. Good for him.
If you've ever travelled east on Fremont Street from Beaumont to Rose City, you know what a drag the corner of 57th is. There are always cars waiting to make a left turn, to go north on 57th, and you've got to squeeze by them in the right turn lane if you don't want to wait for a second, and sometimes even a third, cycle of the traffic light to get through there. What that intersection really needs is an arrow making the westbound traffic wait to let at least a few cars make the left.
But of course, no. This is Portland, where the children in the "transportation" bureau hate cars, and so you get just the opposite. As an alert reader explains:
There used to be two lanes -- the left lane was for left turns and through traffic, the right hand lane was theoretically right turn only, though occasionally a car would use that lane to travel through the intersection when a car turning left couldn't get through the intersection.
A couple of weeks ago, PBOT removed or blacked out the right hand lane markers. (You can still see them in the photo.) At that time, the intersection worked much better. Leave it to PBOT to just make things worse. They've added cement barricades to the middle of the street. Now there's no room for two lanes. On Sunday, there was enough traffic late morning that it took me three cycles of the traffic light to get through the intersection, due to cars turning left.
Are they kidding? Two cycles of that light used to be commonplace, but now motorists will routinely be waiting three, four, or more.
But there's a solution. Just one block south, Klickitat Street has been made a bikey wonderland, with all the stop signs aligned so that the two-wheelers don't have to stop except at major intersections like 57th. And so if drivers want to avoid the 57th and Fremont fustercluck, and they don't mind a few speed bumps, they can just jog one block south to Klickitat, where there's no light at all to cross 57th -- just a stop sign. That must be what the cool kids want.
The new guy running the transportation bureau supposedly knows what he's doing. Maybe he should head out there on a busy afternoon and take a look. Hey, Toby Widmer, whaddya say?
And weep for shame at living here:
Oh, and the road-raging, leg-feeling cop has a new desk job in the chief's office, working on "special projects."
Mayor Char-Lie says he is going to "change the culture," and he's confident in Mike Reese's ability to do it. It's hard to believe that anybody seriously thinks that.
We're not sure that our nickname of "Napoleon" is going to stick to new Portland commissioner Steve Novick. But the news that he's been quietly running the city's water bureau, including its street toilet program, for the last month sure sounds like he met his Water-loo.
Anyway, Novick's now handed the reins over to the mayor, who will be administering all the city bureaus for a while. Maybe the rookie will get it back later this year.
We hope so, because one of the things Novick did in his brief interim tenure was to take another run at the bureaucrats in Salem who are forcing the city to cover its reservoirs. Replacing the reservoirs with underground tanks was a pet project of Novick's predecessor, Admiral Randy, and while the city has gone through the motions of petitioning the state for an exemption or a delay, it's been obvious that City Hall has actually welcomed the excruciatingly expensive and utterly unnecessary cover mandate. The state health authority, no doubt reading the Admiral's clearly legible body language, so far has held the line.
Interestingly, those rulings were made back when Gail Shibley was one of the head honchos at the state health agency. But now she's the chief of staff to the mayor of Portland, who's desperately trying to run a city with a cash flow that's already been frittered away on debt for the Admiral's toys. Perhaps in her new role, Shibley can join Novick in getting the state to back off.
Alternatively, maybe the city's extensive lobbying crew can convince the legislature to intervene and let the city off the hook. Perhaps they could work it in between repealing Measure 5 and preserving the corruption known as "urban renewal."
It was interesting to read the dialogue between Spineless Jelly Fish and water bureau expedition leader David Shaff about why Portland hasn't gotten the same deal that Rochester, N.Y., has managed to get:
"There's nothing that we've learned in the Rochester application that would give us a basis to say, reconsider here in Oregon?" Commissioner Nick Fish asked during the Dec. 12 meeting. "Was there a different argument or a new argument or new evidence that would give us basis to seek reconsideration here?"
"No," Shaff responded. "As a matter of fact, I think we have a better case," he said, noting that Portland received a variance from treating water for cryptosporidium.
Shaff told the City Council that his bureau argued rising costs and broad expenses to state regulators, "just like Rochester did."
"If we were in New York, it's very possible we would have gotten an extension from the state agency. But we didn't," Shaff said in December. "We're in Oregon, and it was Oregon that said no."
What a load. Rochester got an exemption because it really wanted one. The Admiral didn't want one, and everybody knew it. Including Shibley. And including Fish, who along with Shaff was obviously providing cover for his bosom buddy Randy. Well, Randy's gone now. Maybe Shaff and Fish will be gone soon as well. Let's hope that Novick was sincere, and that this time somebody through the looking glass in the state capital will listen.
What a fiasco. Mayor Hales, if you won't shut the Portland Development Commission down entirely, would you at least cut it 15% a year for four years? Please? It's doing nothing but sucking the life out of the city's budget.
Blumenauer's bill would create a federal marijuana excise tax of 50 percent on the "first sale" of marijuana - typically, from a grower to a processor or retailer. It also would tax pot producers or importers $1,000 annually and other marijuana businesses $500.
His office said Monday it doesn't yet have an estimate of how much the taxes might bring in. But a policy paper Blumenauer and Polis are releasing this week suggests, based on admittedly vague estimates, that a federal tax of $50 per ounce could raise $20 billion a year. They call for directing the money to law enforcement, substance abuse treatment and the national debt.
What a visionary! He wants the population stoned, broke, and on a bicycle.
Well deserved. This guy needs a date with Nurse Ratched.
Gee, and here we thought truth was a defense. Kruger is a documented "history buff" with a keen interest in certain soldiers of the Third Reich. He even erected monuments to them.
Kruger has not liked a book since he read "Mein Kamph."
We've done dumb stuff like what Kuykendall did here. The funnier it is, the more accurate it seems to be, the more trouble you get into for saying it, even if you're trying to help the organization. He's better off getting out of that agency -- it's the House of Schmendrick. But he's also old enough to know better than to write something like that down in a work context. "Not a team player." Sometimes that's a badge of honor, but it has its costs.
Nobody knows the Portland apartment market better than our friend Mark Barry does. He's been appraising area apartment complexes, and writing about trends in the apartment market, for decades. His newsletter is on line these days, and it makes for a fascinating read. Some highlights of his latest issue:
-- It's a landlord's market right now, but that should end by late next year.
-- Home ownership is actually starting to pick back up.
-- Older apartment units are not appreciating all that much, particularly in the suburbs.
-- Demand among landlords for lower-quality apartments is weak.
But overall, it's been good times lately in the landlord world:
The apartment market had everything going for it in 2012, with increasing rents, increasing income, low vacancies, readily available financing, relatively little new inventory coming on the market, and good investor demand.
Barry even quotes this blog at one point. The guy has excellent taste.
A concerned reader writes:
I listen occasionally to NPR during the day. A couple of times recently I’ve heard the hosts giving a shout-out to their sponsors, and they’re thanking Portland Public Schools for their support. What is up with that?
I have no idea how to go about investigating how much money is being shuffled from PPS to NPR, but in my mind there shouldn’t be ANY money sent over. Do you have a way to find out about this?
Sure -- we just ask our readers.
If we're not mistaken, the Oregon legislature cranks up again in Salem today. As usual, we observe the opening of the session with a vague sense of dread. Salem's a pretty dysfunctional place, and the potential for harm is great -- even without Nutsy Smith on hand.
One thing the politicians are nattering about is the fact that the state has some additional "debt capacity" coming on -- new amounts that they can legally borrow to spend on whatever their hearts desire. Treasurer Ted is urging caution, but a lot of the legislators are like young kids with their parents' credit cards. They see "debt capacity" as found money. If they haven't mortgaged themselves, and us, to the hilt, they feel like something's wrong. Let's hope they act like smart grownups for once and leave the plastic in their wallet.
College kids running a nuclear reactor -- what could go wrong? Well, at Reed College in southeast Portland, they're finding out. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has written the college's toy reactor operators up for three safety violations, including one major one -- allegedly putting more fuel in the reactor than they were allowed to:
[F]rom February 2 to 4, 2011, the licensee made a change to the facility as described in the safety analysis report without conducting an evaluation to determine whether or not the change should have required a license amendment. Specifically, the licensee added 15 more fuel elements to the reactor core in addition to those already installed, for a total of 79 elements, thus changing the core configuration. The licensee did not perform an evaluation of the change against the criteria in 10 CFR 50.59(c)(2) to determine if the change should have required a license amendment.
This has been determined to be a Severity Level IV violation (Section 6.1).
The letter from the NRC elaborates:
The violation is being cited in the Notice because it constitutes the failure to meet a regulatory requirement that has more than minor safety significance and it was identified by the NRC.
Steve Frantz, the head of the reactor operation at Reed, retired on June 30, 2011. We wonder whether this little misadventure had anything to do with it.
In addition, based on the results of this inspection, the NRC has determined that two other Severity Level IV violations of NRC requirements occurred. These violations are being treated as non-cited violations (NCVs), consistent with Section 2.3.2.b of the Enforcement Policy.
We wrote about one of these other two incidents here -- the reactor was run with one of its power measuring channels malfunctioning. In the other, one of the young folks running the reactor walked off and left his or her key in the ignition:
At approximately 12:20 p.m., on February 6, 2012, the RO [reactor operator] at the console was finishing the core excess calculations. When that task was finished, the RO informed the SRO [senior reactor operator] then he would be shutting down the reactor. The RO then proceeded to drive in the rods until they were fully inserted. The RO informed the SRO that the reactor was shut down and left the control room and reactor bay area. When the RO left the control room, he neglected to remove the key from the console.
At approximately 1:35 p.m., the Facility Director and the Associate Director came to the facility and noticed that the blue light in the hallway of the facility was illuminated, indicating that the reactor was “on” and the key was in the console and set in the "operate" position. When they entered the Control Room they found that no one was in the room and that, indeed, the reactor key was still in the console. The Associate Director immediately removed the key from the console and secured it.
The licensee investigated the event and determined that the key had apparently been left in the console for 75 minutes before the condition was discovered due to an oversight by the RO.
The Reed reactor is 44 years old. It was built for another time and world. Obviously, it's become quite a handful to keep tabs on. Even if Il Presidente of the college succeeds in getting the bongs out of sight, he ought to think about phasing the nuke operation out before something really bad happens.
There was another Friday afternoon news story burial attempt at Portland City Hall last week. Mike Kuykendall, director of services of the police bureau, resigned. The official story is sketchy. It's something about Kuykendall, a high-up civilian supervisor, sending inappropriate text messages to a subordinate, apparently saying something uncool about another member of the force. He was trying to use humor, and it backfired. We sure know that feeling.
In a police bureau where you can murder someone and get off with no punishment, it seems like fairly weak grounds on which to terminate someone's employment. Kuykendall was nominally in charge of internal affairs -- perhaps that is why his indiscretions are so sensitive. But the version that was dribbled out on Friday raises more questions than it answers.
We haven't seen Kuykendall for years, but we remember him as a smart guy with his heart in the right place. We suspect that he'll land on his feet somewhere in town. His good friend and boss, on the other hand -- Chief Mike Reese -- seems to have a lot swirling around him these days, what with his about-face on the road-raging, leg-touching captain, and now this. We'd put the over and under on his continued tenure as chief at 75 days.
Soccer is crooked.
They put a happy face on New Orleans these days, but it's still a mess. A power outage stopping the Super Bowl for a prolonged period is a sad reflection on the whole country. There will likely be some interesting work for some lawyers in the morning.
An alert reader writes:
Here's a photo of an on street bike rack that was recently run over. It's located on the corner of Killingsworth and 30th. Seeing it made me think of your concerns about on street dining installations. It's only a matter of time.
Eugene has a lot to offer those guys on the UC Nike football team.
We remember the first Super Bowl. It was on our 13th birthday. Green Bay of the National Football League against Kansas City of the American Football League. The Packers never trailed, and they really stomped the Chiefs in the second half.
For some reason the first touchdown is etched on our mind. Bart Starr threw it to a fellow named Max McGee, who would have been a bench warmer except that the starter in his position -- it might have been Boyd Dowler -- got injured. McGee caught another one later in the day as well -- quite a game for him. Later on, as we recall, he confessed that he was pretty hung over.
The NFL was expected to dominate the game, and so it was no big whoop that Green Bay prevailed. It wasn't until Joe Willie Namath shocked the world a couple of years later that anybody thought the AFL had a chance. Then the Super Bowl really got on everybody's screen.
Nowadays, of course, it's a spectacle bigger than Janet Jackson's boob. Too bad "In Living Color" isn't around with its alternative halftime show. Now that was something else. Does anybody remember who was the entertainment at the first Super Bowl halftime? No, it wasn't Chubby Checker's turn yet. We had to look it up. A familiar name, but we never would have guessed.
There have been some pretty bad Super Bowls over the years. We're hoping for a good game today. Our readers have predicted a 49ers win, but we're not so sure. The Niners lost to, and got tied by, the lowly Rams during the regular season. Which proves that it's possible to get their number. The Ravens are on an emotional high, and their quarterback, spotty in previous playoffs, has been on the money throughout this post-season. We don't think a blowout is in the offing. We'll root for San Francisco, for sure, but the underdog is hungry enough.
At Blog Central, we'll try to rally the family to watch the spectacle, but it could be a tough sell. At least one screen around here is definitely going to be showing the Puppy Bowl.
We don't ask for much, but we do want a Dwight Jaynes bobblehead doll. Badly.
We're not quite to mid-winter yet, but it sure felt like spring in Portland today. The days are longer, the sun is noticeably higher than it was on Christmas, and some plants are starting to bloom. You can smell them. Winter-blooming daphne is gearing up for a fragrant burst in a couple of weeks. People are out there starting to tinker around in their gardens. We fair weather bikers are pumping up the tires and reacquainting ourselves with our cyclist moves.
The sunsets are nicer. Statistically, the chances of snow and ice are about to drop over the next week or two. In the lawns is moss -- lots of moss. There's a coating of green, not a slime but not far from it, on the driveways, and even the streets. The roses are showing a few tiny shoots, and invite a thoughtful pruning. It will rain again, and get cold again, and make us want to huddle inside again, but today was a gorgeous preview of longer, warmer, sunny days to come.
Tina Kotek (don't you dare) and the gang have high-income taxpayers in their sights as the Oregon Legislature seeks to fill the insatiable maw of government with more money. But wow, look at who they're talking about as "high-income": people with annual income over a whopping $77,000. That's "rich"? This place really is the Mississippi of the West.
Old Chuck Shakeitoff is there to bleat his encouragement, of course:
"If anything, you (should) deny [the college savings deduction] to the top 20 percent," Sheketoff says. "Those people have the means to be able to save for college."
People raising kids on $77,000 a year have money to save for college? Chuckster, you are such a fop.
Ah, but there's hope:
Furthermore, any cut to tax breaks is legally a tax increase. That means it requires a three-fifths vote in both chambers of the Legislature. Democrats are two votes shy of that in the House and the Senate.
Perhaps we'll be saved by the tighty righties.
It was a showdown in our old neck of the woods last night -- St. Benedict's Prep of downtown Newark against St. Anthony High of downtown Jersey City. No. 5 in the nation vs. No. 4, respectively. St. Anthony, coached by the legendary Bobby Hurley, came into the contest having won 83 straight games dating back to 2010. St. Benedict had just suffered an uncharacteristic loss on Wednesday.
Last night's contest was a defensive battle -- the halftime score was 19-17 -- but St. Benny's took it, 47-38. Wish we could have been there, in the Pru Center in Newark. That was some serious hoops. (Although we would have run like heck to our car afterward.)
Coach Hurley's not happy with his troops. I would hate to be them at the next practice.
The folks trying to save West Hayden Island from the Port of Portland Shipping Facility of Mystery hit the nail right on the head this evening with this Facebook post:
Three years ago the Portland City Council waived proposed environmental protections on the Siltronic property along the Willamette River. Council bought hook, line and sinker, Siltronic's argument that they were in the process of negotiating a huge economic development opportunity (secret of course) and environmental regulations would prevent those opportunities from being realized. Three years later, not only was the phantom development opportunity never realized, but Siltronic has closed one of its two existing facilities and shifted 350 jobs to Germany. The Federal Government just approved $530,000 to retrain the workers that Siltronic abandoned. Portland needs to be a hell of a lot more careful about buying into false trade-offs between the health of our communities and our environment in exchange for vague promises of jobs. Fifteen years after the Port of Portland began trying to annex WHI, it still can't tell us what it intends to build or when it will build it... but they are adamant that that they can't afford to protect the environment in the process.
The Port staff needs to be downscaled, and all that cash that they're awash in needs to go to mental health services and schools. The legislature can make this happen. Hey, Chip Shields, where are you on this?
We heard from the guy who makes this stuff yesterday. He's a gentleman:
Hello Jack. I wanted to thank you for all your kind comments about my salsa products. I am so happy that you and your family enjoy my salsa. I have already received a number of orders because of your comments. All of my salsa products are now being made in Lake Oswego, Oregon and the new salsa with "Made in Oregon" labels should start showing up in stores very soon. I never expected the warm welcome that I have received here in Oregon and I look forward to expanding my business in this beautiful part of our great country.
We'll definitely be into that jar on Sunday.
We haven't heard from the local guy who makes this stuff, but if you like it hot, he's got it going on, too.
Here's a crazy document on the City of Portland website. Lots of dollars -- around 24 million clams -- for all sorts of crazy stuff, much of which doesn't seem like a proper government function at all. And look at the bottom -- a shadowy $6.6 million for "schools funding."
We love schools, but there are rules in the Oregon Constitution about how much money can be spent on schools out of property tax revenues. We've long suspected that the city has been breaking those rules. Documents like this one, whatever it is, certainly don't persuade us to the contrary.
What pomposity. Farquaad Cogen will give a "state of the county address" to the City Club today. A packed house is expected. He's told the O in advance what he's going to say, and so they dutifullly -- and exclusively! -- report it.
Breaking news: He's going to hire an as-yet-unnamed contractor for about a quarter-million to come to town and teach some government employees "mental illness first aid." It's actually a wonderful metaphor for the state of mental health in Portland. We've got an army of ill people roaming the streets with the equivalent of severed carotid arteries, and we're handing out Band-Aids. And a no-bid deal, no doubt.
The laugh lines in the story are plentiful:
"Budgets are tight, but one role of leadership is to prioritize decisions. This is going to be a priority for us."
Now, there's a spit-take line if we ever heard one. What hypocrisy. What Cogen won't mention to the adoring City Club faithful is how he's sold out the county, and lots of others, by going along with the city's ridiculous "education urban renewal" district. He gets a new building out of it for his personnel department, and the rest of you school kids and sick poor people will get less services as a result.
He hopes to find the money to continue the program into the future...
No kidding. Isn't that every Portland politician's platform these days? "He hopes to find money." Us too. We definitely, fondly, fervently hope to find money.
Anyway, the Cogue will be sure to sprinkle in some gun control stuff for the City Club sheep to bleat their approval at. Background checks -- that will solve everything. Ginny Burdick will save us.
And of course, sitting in the front row for the whole speech will be Former Mayor Creepy himself, probably with some twenty-something-year-old know-nothings in tow, about to give the City Club directors the same nervous breakdown he gave the city for the last four years. Adams, City Club, Cogen -- ewww. Just ewww.
One of the rogue Clackistan commissioners, who lost her position after subverting the public will on behalf of the Tri-Met Mystery Train to Milwaukie, has a new gig. And surprise! It's with an affiliate of the company that makes the Portland streetcars. Well, isn't that special.
Meanwhile, her successors on the county board are politely asking Tri-Met not to build the train into their county. They're talking to the hand, of course, but it's a nice folksy gesture before the litigation starts.
Well, the big daddies of pro football will put on the pads one last time on Sunday. This time, they're playing for all the marbles. They'll leave it all on the field. Like there's no tomorrow. It all comes down to this. The season is on the line. Only one team will take home the trophy. And then they're going to Disneyland.
We're always interested in our readers' predictions about the Super Bowl, but with this year's historic battle of two brothers as head coaches, we're even more curious than usual:
Our good friend and colleague, Tung Yin, is our go-to guy on the Mohamed Mohamud case, and he's got his first reactions here. (Comments welcome over there as well.)
A colleague of ours has long advised anyone who would listen that to be a good writer, it helps to be a good reader. Before sitting down to write something, he suggests, spend some quality time with authors who know what they're doing. It will raise you up.
We couldn't help thinking about that advice tonight as we read the hysterical prose of The Bloggess. Her work takes a little getting used to, but if you go with the flow, eventually she'll have you laughing out loud.
Then we went over to Cheryl Strayed's blog. Her memoir stopped us in our tracks, even brought on a tear or two of recognition. The blog is every bit as good. It appears that Strayed hasn't been blogging actively for a while. But when she comes back, we'll be there.