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

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September 2003 Archives

Tuesday, September 30, 2003

A major oversight

For a few years now, I've kept up a Gallery of Jacks, dedicated to famous guys named Jack (and Jackie). And until now, somehow, inexplicably, inexcusably, unspeakably, I have left out this gentleman:

Champ of the airwaves

FM radio is so bad these days. The rich cornucopia known as music is now choked off by a half dozen or so formats, designed more to get listeners to stick around for ads than anything else. Even noncommercial stations are full of station promos, "underwriting announcements" that are indistinguishable from ads, and interminable, amateurish traffic reports that repeat the same things a couple of times an hour every weekday morning and afternoon. It's downright depressing.

Of course, with push buttons on the car radio (and the home stereo remote), a frustrated listener in a place like Portland can maintain his or her sanity by programming in a dozen stations, and hitting the buttons the very second that the music stops and the bad announcers and inane commercial shouting begin.

I was in just such a mode the other day as I tooled around the east side of town running errands. And in the course of that day of short-hop driving, I discovered who is today's true king of Portland commercial radio.

First I was tuned to KISN, the feel-good oldies station, which tends to play the same 100 songs over and over, except during request times when a smart caller may force the DJ to stretch out a bit. Coming through loud and clear was a funky little number called "Here Comes the Night."

When the traffic report came on, it was time to switch over to KINK, the sensitive adult station that's not ashamed to latch onto an artist and play his or her music 'til you can't stand it any more. I remember the '80s, when every other song on this one was by Steely Dan. Now it alternates between the Bonnie Raitt set and the more modern 20-something whiney guys like Coldplay -- boring! On the day in question, they played a track from a forthcoming new album called "What's Wrong with This Picture."

When the ads resumed over there, I punched in KGON, the preferred classic rock station of bikers and roofers statewide. There they were having a regular festival devoted to the fellow I'm talking about, including "Wild Night" and some other middle-aged chestnuts.

And so it dawned on me who is the master of today's commercial radio formats -- now appearing on at least three of them. It couldn't happen to a nicer guy than:

Van the Man.

Monday, September 29, 2003

One ringy-dingy

Well, some federal judge somewhere has decided that the national "do not call" list, which allows folks to block telemarketers' calls, is unconstitutional.

My first reaction? I'm starting to lose what respect I had left for federal judges. My cooler, second reaction? The judge is just doing his or her job -- it's the Supreme Court's ill-advised "commercial speech" doctrine that's at fault. Under that doctrine, even the Coors Light twins are protected First Amendment speech. (Not that there's anything wrong with -- twins! Named Klimaszewski!)

But under the Supreme Court doctrine, Congress can regulate commercial speech to further important state interests. The right to be left alone, free of commercial messages, in one's home would seem to be such an interest. Having a phone does not imply consent to unwanted telemarketing calls. We'll see.

The judge probably would have gone along with the list, but for the fact that the law creating it is limited to commercial telemarketing; it does not allow residents to opt out of unsolicited calls from politicians and charities. Well, that's easy enough to remedy -- make those folks subject to the "do not call" list as well. Indeed, most constituents would have preferred them to be included in the ban to begin with. I hate calls from the whole lot of them.

And if Congress won't do that? Then let's have a constitutional amendment OK'ing the law as currently written. It would pass with flying colors, in record time.

Telemarketers, the jig is up. Go find a real job.

Letter from Diane

The mail brought a historic document the other day -- the first Multnomah County individual income tax form. It's noteworthy in a number of respects.

Confusing. For a large segment of the population, which doesn't follow taxes or the news very closely, this baby is going to cause lots of confusion. I'm glad I'm not the person answering the phone at the number listed on the form -- it's going to be a busy week.

Here's the skinny from my viewpoint:

When the voters passed the 1.25 percent county income tax earlier this year, neither they nor the county commissioners required employers to withhold the tax from workers' pay. Employers are allowed to do it voluntarily, but only if the employees ask and the employers want to. So far, I haven't heard of a single employer or employee who's doing it. And so the county's residents are all going to have to figure out how much tax they owe, and then send the county a check for that amount, sometime between now and next April 15. (We'll see how many comply! The feds and states learned a long time ago that you have to have mandatory withholding to make an income tax system work. Multnomah County obviously hasn't gotten that far yet.)

Anyhow, the form that the county just sent out is an "estimated tax" voucher that allows folks to pay the tax early, even though it isn't due until next April 15. Unless someone is planning to pay early, the form can go in the round file. The "real" tax form will be out later.

Why would you pay early? Sounds crazy, but for some folks it isn't. If you itemize your deductions for federal and state income tax purposes, you may want to pay the county tax before Dec. 31, 2003, so that you can deduct it on your state and federal income tax returns for 2003. If you wait until next spring to pay the county tax, you won't get to deduct it on your federal and state forms until you file your 2004 returns (in the spring of 2005). If you go that route, you lose the time value of the federal and state deductions for that whole year.

Of course, if you don't itemize your deductions on your federal and state tax returns, there's no real advantage to paying early, so you can and should round-file the county form that just came in the mail.

The main message that most people need to get is not the nuance of when to pay. More importantly, they need to figure out how much they're going to have to pay, and budget accordingly. Perhaps the Bush tax cut will give them a larger federal refund than they expected, but Multnomah County will be taking a good chunk of that. And unless you file early for the federal refund, it won't get here in time to help you pay the county.

Politically reckless. The format of the mailed document is also curious. Addressed to "resident," presumably at every residential address in the county, the form is set up as a lovely letter from Diane Linn, the county chair, with a bunch of Qs & As below her picture. Page 2 features the requisite pie chart of where the tax money is supposed to go, and the actual payment coupon itself is back on page 3.

Linn is playing politics to the hilt here. It's highly, highly unusual for politicians to put their photos on tax foms. Apparently she thinks that the tax is so popular among constituents that she ought to run her picture on the form package, as if to bask in its glow, or somehow indirectly take credit for it. She's apparently lost sight of the fact that, although the tax passed by a wide margin, many registered voters didn't participate in the election. Most of the nonvoters are going to be quite outraged when they realize that for the first time in their lives, they're supposed to write a check for income tax next April 15. And who is the politician they're going to associate with this hated levy? The lady whose picture is on the cover, of course. (Naturally, the folks who voted against the tax will also greet the form with a high degree of scorn.)

No doubt Linn has ambitions beyond county government. So did her predecessor, but they went nowhere. And Linn's facing a revolt by three of the other four county commissioners over the library director's salary. The rebels look as bad as Linn on that one, but her star is not rising over the issue. And now she seems to be saying, "Remember at election time, I'm the one who led the charge to raise your taxes."

Methinks the photo was a bad move.

Weaselly. I'm amused by the gentle, gradual airbrushing of the promise that was made to the taxpayers during the tax election last May, that if the state got its fiscal act together, the county tax would no longer be necessary. Here's this week's version:

The County has an obligation to fund schools, police and other services at the level voters expected when they supported the local ballot measure. As you know, the question of a statewide surcharge may be decided in a special election. If the state surcharge provides additional funds to Mulnomah County, we will reduce the local tax.
Note the word "reduce" in that last sentence. Any allusion to repealing or eliminating the county tax is now out of the picture. As already concluded in this blog a few weeks ago, the county tax is here to stay, at least until its "temporary" term expires.

Optimistic. The pie chart is based on projected revenues of $128 million, with $7 million budgeted for collection actions and audits. I think both of these numbers may be optimistic. People who can't afford to write the check next April (or refuse to do so) simply aren't going to file. Plus, how many people are suddenly going to start using relatives' mailing addresses in Beaverton and Oregon City to defraud the county? I'll bet quite a few. And the bruising statewide income tax referendum scheduled for late January certainly isn't going to help taxpayer morale any.

There will be ways to catch up with the cheats, but they're going to cost more than $7 million, and the process of hounding them isn't going to yield much.

This is going to be interesting, albeit potentially very sad, to watch.

Sunday, September 28, 2003

Now that's funny

From an absorbing thread of mostly bad jokes, a couple of gems I hadn't heard before:

An angry woman walks up to the golf course attendant and says, "I just got stung by a bee right between the first and second holes!"

The attendant says, "Well Ma'am, I'd recommend you narrow your stance a bit."

* * * * *

A biker chick goes to get a tattoo of Elvis on her upper thigh. The artist proceeds and completes it. The biker chick starts to yell and complain that it doesn't look like Presley.

She tells him to do it again on the other thigh and to do it right this time! The artist completes the second one and it comes out perfect.

The biker chick starts to complain again that it doesn't look like the king. As she is standing in the doorway without anything on, a biker passes by. She grabs him and asks him, who do they look like? The biker answers, "I don't know who the two guys on the ends are, but the one in the middle sure looks just like Willie Nelson...."

Saturday, September 27, 2003

Poster of the Month

Spotted around town (photo on temporary loan from Steven F.):

Hear, hear!

Governor Ted is showing us some good stuff. He's been sparing with his vetoes, demonstrating that he wants to break the Kitzhaber Gridlock and get the state moving. But he was wise enough to veto the sleazy government "ethics" bill that came out of the most recent legislative session. As they say at this weekend's Portland Polish Festival, Sto lat, Kulongoski!


{rant}We spent $10 jillion to "improve" the Portland Airport.

So why does it take 45 fricking minutes after the time your plane reaches the gate for your luggage to find its way to the pickup carousel less than 100 yards away?

Governor Ted tells us tourism is our only hope. Hey, Ted: Help tourism by making a phone call to the geniuses at the Port of Portland. Tell them that before they talk any more about spending another $10 jillion and ruining a couple of neighborhoods to expand the already-overbuilt airport, they need to go crazy and spend another $50,000-100,000 a year for some more baggage handlers.{/rant}

Friday, September 26, 2003

You like to think that you're immune to the stuff

Egads. Robert Palmer, the British rocker, has died of a heart attack in Paris. He was 54.

I'm so stunned that I'm afraid an insta-tribute isn't in the offing. Maybe when I can sort out the memories of his career a little. In the meantime...

How can it be permissible She compromised my principles, yeah yeah That kind of love is mythical She's anything but typical

She's a craze you'd endorse, she's a powerful force
You're obliged to conform when there's no other course
She used to look good to me, but now I find her
Simply irresistible
Simply irresistible

Her loving is so powerful, huh
It's simply unavoidable
The trend is irreversible
The woman is invincible

She's a natural law, and she leaves me in awe
She deserves the applause, I surrender because
She used to look good to me, but now I find her
Simply irresistible
Simply irresistible

Simply irresistible (She's so fine, there's no tellin' where the money went)
Simply irresistible (She's all mine, there's no other way to go)

She's unavoidable, I'm backed against the wall
She gives me feelings like I never felt before
I'm breaking promises, she's breaking every law
She used to look good to me, now I find her
Simply irresistible (She's so fine, there's no tellin' where the money went)
Simply irresistible (She's all mine, there's no other way to go)


Her methods are inscrutable
The proof is irrefutable, Ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh
She's so completely kissable, huh
Our lives are indivisible

She's a craze you'd endorse, she's a powerful force
You're obliged to conform when there's no other course
She used to look good to me, but now I find her
Simply irresistible (She's so fine, there's no tellin' where the money went)
Simply irresistible (She's all mine, there's no other way to go)
Simply irresistible (She's so fine, there's no tellin' where the money went)
Simply irresistible (She's all mine, there's no other way to go)
Simply irresistible

Honor this!

Funny story in The O the other day about a, heh heh, slight breakdown in communications within the Oregon Republican Party. It seems the party is throwing a spendy fund-raiser tonight in the guise of honoring its living legends. Of course, St. Hatfield will have his ring kissed for the umpteenth time (maybe they'll give him some more $50 Steuben glass), but this time the good old boys (and girls) will also bestow kudos on Bob "Tongue" Packwood and a host of other luminaries of the Grand Oregon Past.

Slight problem: At least a couple of the honorees despise what their party's become and don't want to be associated with the event. Former statewide Republican leaders Clay Myers and Bill Rutherford, for example, aren't coming and wish their names hadn't been included on the honor roll. "I don't feel like I'm being honored," Rutherford told The O. "I feel like my name was hijacked."

Norma Paulus says she has other commitments, too, and she won't elaborate. Nor will Dave Frohnmayer be on hand. (Tom McCall won't be there to receive his plaque, either; on the contrary, he will doubtlessly roll over in his grave so many times he'll drill himself halfway to Idaho.)

All of which leaves egg on the face of the already-well-ovulated Kevin Mannix, the state party chairman who can't win a statewide election. He'll get to mug it up with Packwood and Jim Bunn -- some party.

As a registered Democrat who watches his own party fumble on a regular basis, I must say it's always reassuring to see the other side screw up now and then.

Thursday, September 25, 2003

When nature is a premium call

Got a lovely letter today from our power company, Pacific Power. They're urging us to vote no on the proposed public utility district coming up for an election in November.

If they thought we needed convincing that a local government bureaucracy is not the way to run a utility in these parts, they shouldn't have wasted the stamp. Because also in the mail today came our quarterly water and sewer bill from the City of Portland -- an abomination. Forget about the price of water -- it may be more economical to water the garden with Perrier -- but the real kicker's the sewer portion of the bill. To tap into the Portland sewer system is now costing our single-family house $88.47 a quarter (not counting the $17.18 "base charge" that you pay each quarter just for having a Water Bureau account, even if you keep the taps off and never flush). That's around a buck a day just for the sewer.

They wonder why people in Portland are so uptight. It's not all the coffee or beer. We can't afford to go to the bathroom. Pretty soon it will be cheaper to disconnect the house and just use pay toilets.

Don't worry, Pacific Power. Your vote is safe with me.


Just emerged from a major sleep-catch-up session. Eleven and a half hours in Dreamland.

Nowhere near my record, of course. Back in college, I remember a few buzz-induced snoozes of up to 15 hours. But for a geezer, going nearly 12 is a rare occurrence.

I needed that. But now there's so much to catch up on in the waking world. Here's hoping I can make the transition from groggy to mellow.

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

News lite

Not much new in the local fishwrap lately. Oh yeah, there are still lots of issues around town, but I've already shot my mouth off about most of them on this blog. And gee, I haven't changed my mind much.

Here's a factoid: Today I saw a blimp over the Willamette, passing high above the water south of Ross Island. Advertised on the side: Aquafina. Does that mean the blimp's filled with hot water?

Apparently Lisa Marie Presley was spotted with Nic Cage at the Benson the other night. Haven't they ever heard the old Jermaine Stewart song from the '80s, "Don't Have Sex with Your Ex"?

Checking a dormant blog

I clicked on a blog I like to see if the author had returned from a break. When I saw that he or she hadn't, I hit the "back" button.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Sing along!

Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday to you
Happy birthday dear Bruce
Happy birthday to you


The Portland Tribune has contributed so much to the city's civic life in such a short time, but one of its greatest gifts was returning columnist Phil Stanford to our kitchen counter.

Phil's column today is a classic. Among the juicy tidbits of news and gossip: Former Mayor Bud Clark's supporting Tom Potter for mayor; Jim Francesconi already has $350K in the bank for his mayoral campaign; Bloomingdale's wants to buy the Galleria.

Oh, yes, and the city hired a "facilitator" to run yet another meeting on the City-Buy-PGE lunacy, and the "facilitator" handed out Play-Doh.

Unfortunately, we taxpayers pay for crap like that with real dough.

Monday, September 22, 2003


Well, they've got the big beams of light shooting up into the night sky over the Oregon Convention Center again this year. The huge spotlights are meant to symbolize the twin towers of the World Trade Center, and memorialize those lost on 9/11/01. The display will stay up again for another two months this year, just as it did last year.

But what's the point?

Although I mean the organizers of this memorial no disrespect, the two columns of light streaming into the night sky no longer evoke in me any connection with the events of that fateful day. Instead, they remind me of how our city government spent upwards of $100 million to double the size of the Convention Center, which to this day remains as empty as it ever was, if not more so.

To me the twin beams represent our own celestial figures, Mayor Katz and Commissioner Sten. I envision them as the Castor and Pollux of Bad Local Government, beaming all those precious tax dollars into empty, black nothingness.


Natalie Angier retells a great story in today's New York Times, in an article about men and pain:

Heard the one about the husband who agrees to be hooked up to a machine that transfers the pain of childbirth from the laboring mother to the father? The doctor sets the dial at 10 percent pain level, and the man feels nothing. Thirty percent, again nothing. Fifty percent, ha! not a tickle. Finally, the doctor cranks the dial to full-bore, pass-a-pachyderm-through-a-keyhole stage, and still the fellow shrugs smugly and says: "Feh! I've had worse pain from clipping my toenails."

Returning home from the hospital, the couple find the mailman dead on their doorstep.

Sunday, September 21, 2003

All to myself

My dusky evening run has become a dark night run, and alas, it will stay that way for the next six or seven months. The darkness slows you down, especially on the Irvington sidewalks, where old tree roots push the concrete around and the occasional fallen branch or stray rock can make the footing treacherous.

Tonight was my last official run of the summer along the East Bank Esplanade on the Willamette River. At 9 p.m. on a Sunday, it was deserted. There were about a half dozen stragglers up at the north end near the Steel Bridge, but after them there wasn't another soul but me all the way down to the arch under the Morrison.

I love solitary urban runs. I'll never forget one particular evening jog I took in San Francisco during my six months living there. It was the last night of a holiday weekend -- Easter Sunday night, maybe, or Memorial Day night -- and I headed down the hill to Fisherman's Wharf. Normally teeming with tourists, on that evening it was stunningly empty. The shops were closed, and there wasn't anyone else around. Just for that few minutes, it belonged all to me.

I've had many such moments in my 25 years as an Oregon resident, but you don't find yourself in that position too often in Portland any more. Tonight it felt great.

One thing that comes with living in a place for this long a time: After a while, the physical landmarks of the city fade into the background, and even its institutions blur a bit. What comes into ever sharper focus are the people who live in the place, and the way they live their lives. That's definitely where I'm at as another equinox approaches.

Say, "Yeah!"

Here, for no particular reason, is a photograph that I enjoy immensely:

Saturday, September 20, 2003

Twisty moves up

TJ is taking her weblog, Twisty, to a new level as she moves over to TypePad. You know the drill, all: Reset your links and bookmarks accordingly.

And good luck to her in her new digs.

Friday, September 19, 2003


The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is going to "re-hear" on Monday afternoon the California recall election debacle. And two of the 11 judges on the expanded "en banc" panel are from here in Portland. They're Susan Graber, a former colleague of mine in law practice, and Diarmuid O'Scannlain, who serves as an adjunct professor at the law school at which I teach.

Both work out of the Pioneer Courthouse, and are looking forward to making a left turn off Morrison Street to park in the building some day. But for this oral argument, they'll be flying down to San Francisco.

Graber is a pal of Hillary and a Clinton appointee; O'Scannlain, a staunch Republican (former state GOP chair), appointed by the Gipper. It's no mystery how one might expect them to vote -- the smart money says they'll cancel each other out. So I'm betting Oregon won't have much of an influence over the outcome of the Saga to the South.

Of the 11 judges chosen by lot for the rehearing, seven were appointed by Clinton and one by Carter. This suggests that they'll further rub the Supreme Court's noses in Bush v. Gore, but with this wacky story, certainly anything's possible. Indeed, Howard Bashman and his sources are noting that as Ninth Circuit Democrats go, some of these eight aren't all that lefty.

Delightful duties

Fall's unofficially here, and it's time for another season of sharing music with our toddler in the Music Together classes.

I've blogged about these before. It's an ingenious program in which parents and their kids join a musical leader for a weekly 45 minutes or so of singing, dancing, and playing instruments. The songs go home with the class members on CD and cassette, and by the end of the term everyone's learned something neat.

This time it's my turn to attend with our little one, and we just had the first class of the term. I can't think of a better way to spend part of a morning than strolling over, enjoying the class, and meandering back home humming one of the songs.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

In hoc signo exit

My favorite jogging/biking route takes me down the street where Mark Kroeker, the recently ousted Portland police chief, lives. I've never been 100 percent sure which house is his, but one neat, clean brick house, which usually has a blue police cruiser with government plates in front of it, has always seemed the most likely candidate.

Tonight my deductive reasoning was validated: I noticed that there's a "for sale" sign in front of that house. Listed by Billy Grippo, a neighborhood realtor who prices 'em right and moves 'em quick.

Suddenly, that house looks really sad.


A couple of weeks ago I bemoaned the fact that tax policy in the Bush administration is in the hands of extremist groups.

Today I received a friendly note from an old friend who reminded me that actually, Bush tax policy is his job.

He's Greg Jenner, assistant deputy secretary of the Treasury for tax policy. Greg's a Portland boy -- summa cum laude graduate of Portland State -- and he and I labored together for a few years in the tax library of a large Portland law firm two decades ago. Then he ran off to the power world in D.C. while I ran off to academe.

Greg's bounced around a few times since then, holding important posts at lobbying firms and accounting firms, but now he's got a major, major gig as the No. 2 person in the Bush administration for tax policy.

I think that policy is simply horrible, of course, but I wish my friend Greg the best on a personal level.

And an even better, new job 16 months from now.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Bible yuks with Mom

Got an e-mail message from Mom the other day. I love the messages from Mom. Sometimes it's an update on somebody's kidney stone procedure or the latest obituary from North Jersey, but often she'll pass along something funny she picked up on the Web TV.

This week it was a "kids say the darnedest things" kind of collection. Children from Catholic schools were commenting on various stories from their Holy Bible, and some of what they said was funny. This is probably as old as the hills, and I suspect some of it has been embellished as it has been passed along, but I have to admit that this former altar boy cracked a few smiles while reading it:

It comes from a Catholic elementary school.

Kids were asked questions about the Old and New Testaments. The following statements about the Bible were written by children. They have not been corrected (incorrect spelling is theirs).

1. In the first book of the bible, Guinessis, God got tired of creating the world, so he took the Sabbath off.

2. Adam and Eve were created from an apple tree. Noah's wife was called Joan of Ark. Noah built an ark which the animals come on to in pears.

3. Lot's wife was a pillar of salt by day, but a ball of fire by night.

4. The Jews were a proud people and throughout history they had trouble with the unsympathetic Genitals.

5. Samson was a strongman who let himself be led astray by a Jezebel like Delilah.

6. Samson slayed the Philistines with the axe of the Apostles.

7. Moses led the Hebrews to the Red Sea, where they made unleavened bread, which is bread without any ingredients.

8. The Egyptians were all drowned in the dessert. Afterwards, Moses went up on Mount Cyanide to get the ten ammendments.

9. The first commandment was when Eve told Adam to eat the apple.

10. The seventh commandment is Thou shalt not admit adultery.

11. Moses died before he ever reached Canada. Then Joshua led the Hebrews in the battle of Geritol.

12. The greatest miracle in the Bible is when Joshua told his son to stand still and he obeyed him.

13. David was a Hebrew king skilled at playing the liar. He fought with the Finklesteins, a race of people who lived in Biblical times.

14. Solomon, one of David's sons, had 300 wives and 700 porcupines.

15. When Mary heard that she was the mother of Jesus, she sang the Magna Carta.

16. When the three wise guys from the east side arrived, they found Jesus in the manager.

17. Jesus was born because Mary had an immaculate contraption.

18. St. John the blacksmith dumped water on his head.

19. Jesus enunciated the Golden Rule, which says to do one to others before they do one to you. He also explained, "A man doth not live by sweat alone."

20. It was a miracle when Jesus rose from the dead and managed to get the tombstone off the entrance.

21. The people who followed the lord were called the 12 decibels.

22. The epistles were the wives of the apostles.

23. One of the oppossums was St. Matthew who was also a taximan.

24. St. Paul cavorted to Christianity. He preached holy acrimony, which is another name for marriage.

25. Christians have only one spouse. This is called monotony.

Go, Mom!

Tuesday, September 16, 2003


Tonight I did something that I hadn't done in a long while: I dropped 50 cents in the slot and bought a USA Today. I remember when this newspaper first hit the stands, and we all laughed: "TV on paper," we scoffed at the time. The sports section was fantastic, but the rest of it seemed like a joke, with its super-short news stories, garish color graphics, and predominance of words of one syllable.

Times have changed, of course, and now many hometown papers look just like USA Today, or are trying to. It's no New York Times, but the USA's no longer on a level below papers like The Oregonian. In fact, in some respects, it may be ahead of The O. (For the record, however, The O's cheaper.)

Meanwhile, TV network affiliate news has gone even further downhill, to the point where on most nights it's not recognizble as anything serious. So in the grand scheme of information sources, the USA has ascended a fair amount.

Catching my eye in today's edition was a nice story about a college cross-country runner who accidentally inhaled a rock thrown up by one of her competitors toward the end of a road race. She fell choking to the ground, whereupon she was lifted up and successfully Heimliched by her coach. Way to go, coach!

The editorial page also was interesting. The lead editorial joins the growing chorus, including this blog, to the effect that the Bush tax cuts are, on the whole, irresponsible, and that some of them need to be cancelled before they take effect. As is its custom, the paper then runs an opposing view, this time from someone named Stephen Moore, president of an anti-tax, anti-government group called Club for Growth. Moore offers up these choice morsels:

But the binge in debt spending is not a result of President Bush's tax cuts. At most, only about 25% of the deficits are a result of the tax cuts.... The most vital step in restraining the tidal wave of red ink that has engulfed Washington is to just say "no" to the unconscionable $450 billion prescription drug bill for senior citizens...

That's right. It's more important to get a couple of million a year back in the pockets of the Dick Cheney billionaire types than to give ordinary senior citizens the right to get their prescription drugs without fear of having to eat cat food. That's Stephen Moore's, and George Bush's, America.

The paper also took a strong shot at Abercrombie & Fitch, the giant clothing retailer that's racking up the profits from bringing sex even further into the grammar schools. This fine upstanding company features nude teen models, and sells thongs as small as size girls medium with the words "eye candy" printed on them. I'm no prude, but shame on them (and on all the pervs who come here from Google when they hit on the immediately preceding sentence). Good for USA Today for calling Abercrombie out on it, and pointing readers to groups like Dads and Daughters, who are fighting back.

D&D is playing an interesting angle. It's calling attention to the people who sit on the Abercrombie board of directors while the company's up to its salacious shenanigans.

For example, here are two of the directors of Abercrombie & Fitch -- Lauren Brisky, vice chancellor of Vanderbilt University and a Girl Scouts Council board chairwoman, and John Golden, a retired financier and head of Colgate University's board of trustees -- along with a photo from the company's latest ad campaign. An interesting juxtaposition:

Hey, Lauren! John! Do you really need to do this to sell the sweatshirts?

In all, the paper was a surprisingly thought-provoking read. Four bits well spent.

Finance charges apply

As we read about the men and women of our armed forces and the sacrifices that they and their families are making in the war effort, we cluck our tongues, sigh, and say, "Oh, well. That's what you sign up for when you join the military." Then we go on with our lives.


The whole war is being run on borrowed money. And our politicians in Washington have decided that this is a good time to cut taxes, everyone's taxes, but especially rich people's taxes. Way less money coming in, way more going out.

So there's a credit card bill coming, America, and it's going to be a vicious one. Who's going to pay for all this? Our kids. Will the boomers get their Social security checks? Maybe.

And what if we need to fight another war, and another? How will we pay for those?

You can't be a nasty, kick-ass-and-take-names, bellicose nation, fighting wars of vengeance in distant lands, and be a low-tax, small-government nation at the same time.

I remember when the old rock group Steppenwolf -- the guys who gave us "Born to Be Wild" and "Magic Carpet Ride" -- grew up a little and wrote a political number called "Monster." It's gotten lost over the years, but alas, I think it may be time to dust it off:

America, where are you now?
Don't you care about your sons and daughters?
Don't you know we need you now?

Monday, September 15, 2003

These cats rock

One of my favorite hard rock bands, Litterbox, is back with a follow-up to their smash debut hit "On the Prowl." This one's called "Bag of Bones." Check out the video here.

OK, OK, I hear you!

This is going to make me sound like a sap to some of you, but it's in me and I've got to let it out.

Somebody up there is definitely trying to tell me something.

In the last four years, I have had four life-altering experiences. I mean, events that have whomped me upside the head, made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end, and made me pay closer attention to, as Prince once put it, "this thing called 'life.'"

Before '99, there had never been anything like this. Since then, four of them.

And two in '03 alone.

Am I imagining things? Am I just too susceptible to irrational thoughts? Just another crazy person hearing voices in the head?

Maybe. But like any self-respecting guy from Down Neck Newark, I've got to go with my gut. I understand, on a visceral level, that a message is being sent my way.

But exactly what the sender of this message is trying to say is not obvious. I suspect I'm going to have to do a lot of reflecting before I can figure it out.

And then comes deciding how to respond.

Sex change

For some reason, I have listed K, the author of the blog I Hate Stupid People (But Not You, I Don't Hate You), on my blogroll under "Hap'nin' Guys." Upon further review, I'm now convinced that K should be listed under "Hap'nin' Gals." And that's where she'll stay until conclusive contrary evidence is available.

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Don't wait 'til Christmas

Here's a toy that most of you will just have to have this fall.

Thursday, September 11, 2003

9/11/03 photos

A different kind of 911

It's a shame that in this day and age, there are certain things you don't publicly announce any more, for security reasons.

But I will say that I had the experience of a lifetime yesterday morning. Something wonderful happened at our house, and I do mean literally at the house.

"Well, here's another clue for you all" (and John Dunshee is going to love it): I now have a profound gratitude, respect, and admiration for 911 operators. "Emergency communicators," I think they're officially called.

Anyway, that's all I'm going to say about it here. I'll see you all when I come down from this cloud.

Tuesday, September 9, 2003

Here you go

Some folks have been here looking for something about Kathryn Bogle. Google isn't directing them very well to the primary item I posted about her, partly because I included her middle name between her first and last. Searchers, you want to look here.

Rag, rag, rag

Look at this blog. All down and negative again, post after post.

I'm even more bummed about some things that I can't talk about publicly.

I'm overdue for some time off from thinking about all that.

For the next few days, at least, if I'm not happy with something, I'm not going to moan about it here. I've got some great things going on, most of which are also not bloggable, and I'm going to focus on them instead.

Which may mean there won't be much new material here to read.

I'll see you on the sunny side.

Monday, September 8, 2003

Peter Weiss

My old friend, Peter Weiss, the political columnist for The Jersey Jourmal in Jersey City, N.J., died over the weekend. How shocking and sad. He couldn't have been more than 60, I don't think.

I had the privilege of serving a few years as a reporter at "The JJ," as it's known, 30 years ago. And on a quite a few days I found myself at the desk next to Peter's. He was the best co-worker one could ever ask for -- generous, thoughtful, brilliant, kind, and hilarious. His smile is forever etched on my memory.

My condolences to all my former colleagues, who I am sure will miss him deeply.

A pink hotel, a boutique and a swingin' hot spot

It seems like the developers around here won't be happy until the road from Portland to the coast is just one continuous strip mall. When you drive west on U.S. 26 through all the over-development in Washington County, you just have to shake your head. A lot of that pavement of paradise wasn't necessary, isn't profitable, and is way bad for livability and the environment. Californication at its worst.

U.S. 30 used to provide a greener highway, but that's changing, too. Portland IndyMedia is hotly reporting on what it characterizes as a sweetheart mining and development deal going down out near Scappoose in Columbia County. Head on over and check out the story. I have no clue what's going on in those parts, but from what I'm reading, it doesn't sound good.

Democrat tax cut (self-service)

There's been a running dialogue in one of the tax nerd publications I read every week about Bill and Hillary Clinton's legal defense funds. These are funds, to which all sorts of people have contributed millions of dollars, that have paid the Clintons' legal bills over Whitewater, Headgate, and those other scandals.

The junior senator from New York and her saxophone-blowin' Bubba apparently have never reported any of the money paid to the funds as income on their income tax returns.

Should they have?

The consensus among the several tax professionals who have written on the subject is that, yes, indeed, payments to or by the funds are income to the Clintons, and should have been reported. When someone else pays your bills for you, that's income to you, unless it's an excluded payment such as a gift. These payments weren't gifts, because the "contributors" either received or were expecting to receive a return benefit from the Clintons (or a benefit from the Clintons' being able to emerge unscathed from their many legal problems).

So these millions should have been reported as income. To my knowledge not a single tax expert has written a word in defense of the Clintons' omission of this income from their tax returns.

Can the Clintons deduct the fees paid to their lawyers? No, at least a large part of them are not deductible, because the legal proceedings had their origins in a personal matter. That activity under the Oval Office desk did not arise out of Bill's trade or business; it was a personal frolic. Even if attorney's fees are paid in connection with his employment, which seems like a stretch but is arguably possible in this case, an employee's business expenses aren't fully deductible. Just ask anyone who pays for their own uniform or work boots.

Is the IRS ever going to enforce the tax laws against the Clintons on this? Doubtful in the extreme.

Isn't that special?

Sunday, September 7, 2003

"How about a little fire, Scarecrow?"

I've already complained in this space that the Oregon legislators have their priorities all wrong when it comes to ethics in government. Not only did they recently gut the state government ethics commission budget, but they also passed a bill relaxing the government ethics rules to the point of laughability. The budget-gutting of the commission was highlighted in today's Oregonian; the shameful ethics bill is still on the governor's desk. He needs to get his veto pen out -- actually, a large, black veto magic marker would be appropriate.

Today comes word that the Legislature also has drastically reduced current funding for consumer protection. Apparently the folks in the Capitol don't think it's worth it to pursue those who rip off senior citizens and others for only a few thousand dollars a pop. The state attorney general will now be limited to only a few large fraud cases a year. Con artists on a smaller scale than that can operate scot-free.

Wow, what kind of state legislator would want that?

Hmmm, my guess would be the chair of the House Business, Labor and Consumer Affairs Committee. You know, the one who doesn't think slamming by phone companies is so bad?

You want real change in Salem? Then give some money and encouragement to her opponent in the next election. She almost lost last time.

Ave atque vale

One of the first blogs I ever read was by a fellow named Lane McFadden. It was the summer of '02, and I was just catching on to the potential coolness of having one's own place to lay it all out. McFadden had just graduated from law school -- NYU, as I recall -- and he was studying for the New York bar exam.

Soon I had a blog of my own, and McFadden headed off to Alaska to clerk for a federal judge. Fairbanks, I think it was, which is way up there. I managed to check in on him only every few weeks, but there he was, blogging away, during what appeared from his superb entries to be a life-enriching year.

Now he's back in the Lower 48, just moved into a pad in Washington, D.C. and getting ready to start work there. And with the latest move comes the sad announcement that he won't be blogging any more:

And with a new town, and a new apartment, and a new job, comes a new 'blog. Or so I thought. But after this summer, I realized I'd be happier not having a 'blog at all. Not that I won't continue pestering other people with comments on their 'blogs. But my own is now officially being retired.
It's sure a loss for the blogosphere, and he'd be welcome back on the blogrolls any time. But best wishes to him in his new phase.

Diplomacy, W.-style

It's been a rough week. Among other things, I've come down with some kind of bug that's stolen most of my voice -- a definite concern given what I do for a living.

In my phlegmatic stupor, I managed to miss the fact that our State Department spokesman has taken to using ethnic slurs to describe what used to be our allies.

As reported here and pointed out to me here, the story, which appeared on Wednesday, went in relevant part like this:

The United States sneered at plans by four European countries to create an autonomous European military command headquarters near Brussels separate from NATO, referring to the idea's proponents as "chocolate makers."

In unusually blunt language that drew surprised gasps from reporters, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher scoffed at Belgium, France, Germany and Luxembourg for continuing to support the proposal that they first introduced at a mini-summit in April.

He described the April meeting as one between "four countries that got together and had a little bitty summit" and then referred to them collectively as "the chocolate makers."

So far, I've been able to laugh off our President's bizarre behavior at the podium. Letterman has a different disturbing clip of him just about every night.

But when the State Department sinks this low, there's something seriously wrong. As we approach the second anniversary of our collective wail of "Why does the world hate us?," the answers to that question are becoming clearer. And our "leadership" is making it worse.

Friday, September 5, 2003

Our master's voice

My good friend Paul, who writes for The New York Daily News, sent along a nice New York Times profile this morning about the current doings of Jonathan Schwartz, the world's most sophisticated radio disc jockey. Paul and I listened religiously to Schwartz 30 years ago, and then tried to emulate him on a college radio show that we did together.

In those days, we were sure to catch both Schwartz's weeknight FM album rock show and the weekend morning AM show where he spun the sounds of Sinatra, Fitzgerald, and Broadway. When it came to knowing and appreciating the music, and assembling eclectic yet spellbinding collages of songs -- sets that made you think while they entertained -- no one did it better than the enigmatic Schwartz.

And he's still doing it, on a public station in New York City and on XM satellite radio. One of his shows apparently "airs" on the internet on Saturday morning, West Coast time. I might have to start getting out of bed for that one.

The well-read blogger

Do you think you might be spending too much time getting absorbed in weblogs and other journals all over the internet?

Relax. I'll bet you can't hold a candle to the author of makeoutcity.com.

Don't let shock and awe prevent you from following some of his many fascinating links.

I found makeout thanks to Tony Pierce, who's on fire this week imparting sage advice to college students. Even if you're not one, you'll appreciate gems like "if its light, study, when its dark, party."

Current conditions

Mark Twain has a particularly funny notice at the beginning of one of his works of fiction. In it, he warns readers that there are no descriptions of weather in the book. Believing that such passages serve no useful purpose and slow down the narrative, he directs readers to an appendix to the book, where all the weather can be found. (There's no actual appendix.)

As you know, I'm no Twain (not even Shania). On this blog, the scintillating weather updates are intermingled with other important stories. It's the right thing to do.

It's been a beautiful summer here in Oregon -- bankably dry and sunny, nearly every single day since late June. But the season's showing its dark side before heading out of state. Mean as cat manure, and twice as nasty.

The last three days have been scorching hot, and the skies in the Portland area have been stagnant. The result is some foul air, which we get here from time to time, but it's especially ugly when there's a bunch of forest fire smoke mixed in with the old Detroit perfume coming from those cars, SUVs, and diesel trucks. You can see it, smell it, even feel it in your throat, pretty much all the time you're outside. Beautiful central Oregon is under a major cloud of smoke, and people over there are living in shelters, praying for their homes and for the firefighters who are on the lines trying to save them. Out in the spectacularly scenic Columbia River Gorge, folks have also been evacuated (though at the moment they're back), and the interstate was closed for a while.

We're going to miss the sun when it's gone for the long, dark western Oregon winter. In fact, we should be getting a little wistful at the fact that today was probably our last day over 90 degrees until next June or July. Instead, there are folks praying for some gray, rainy weather, and the forecasters say it will be here on Sunday.

I love the fall (a-a-and twins), but what a way for summer to go out.

Thursday, September 4, 2003

Department of Sanitation

We broke down and had our carpets cleaned the other day. Long overdue. Now everything's feeling all clean and healthy under the bare feet of late summer.

We have a great carpet cleaner guy. Sole proprietor, moderate price, thorough, careful work, great personality. Hey, this is a blog, not the classifieds, and I promise to keep it ad-free (which is a big part of why I switched from Blogspot). But if you ever need a carpet cleaner guy in the Portland area, shoot me an e-mail and I'll send you his name and number.

While I'm at it, has anybody got a good homeowners and auto insurance agent? Mine's due for a change.

Whose session was this?

There was a really informative chart in The Oregonian on Sunday (which you'll never find on its web site), logging all the Oregon legislators' votes on 18 defining measures that passed in the legislative session just concluded.

As regular readers of this weblog may recall, this year I pledged to follow the Salem solons more closely, so that I could get a better read on the internal workings of our state's legislative branch. Heaven knows, I've been dissatisfied with their output, and I resolved it was time to watch things in that realm a bit more closely.

Studying the chart in The O is a great way to do that, and I've been fooling around with the vote tallies there to try to see who really called the shots in the House and the Senate.

Here's one game I decided to play. I counted up how many times each of the legislators voted no on the 18 measures that were passed and selected by The O as key. My hypothesis was that the more times a legislator voted no on the bills that passed, the less influence he or she had in the session.

Talk about unscientific. There's so much to argue with in that supposed logic. First of all, the chart in the paper doesn't show the votes on bills that were voted down -- only on those that passed. Surely people who voted yes on bills that were shot down should be "dinged" in an influence tally, just as those who voted no on bills that passed. And alas, the chart doesn't include measures that were rejected.

Moreover, just because one is in the majority most of the time does not mean that one is influential. Perhaps a legislator who voted yes on all the bills that passed is just, well, easy. And of course, who's to say The Oregonian picked the 18 most significant bills (although its list looked pretty good to me)?

Anyhow, for what it's worth, I ran the numbers (with a ruler and my eagle eye, so there could be a mistake or two), and here's what I came up with:

Legislators who voted no the fewest number of times on the 18 selected passed bills (and thus were arguably the most influential):

In the Senate (drum roll, please): With 0 no votes, Ryan Deckert (D-Beaverton), Rick Metsger (D-Welches), and Jackie Winters (R-Salem). Following close behind were Ginny Burdick (D-Portland) and Frank Morse (R-Albany), with 1 no each.

In the House: With 0 no votes, Mary Gallegos (R-Cornelius) and Vicki Berger (R-Salem). Eight others tied with 1 no each.

How about on the other side of the coin? Who were the naysayers, who voted no most often on the 18 bills that passed (and thus were arguably the least influential)?

In the Senate, Roger Beyer (R-Molalla) and Lenn Hannon (R-Ashland) voted no 9 times out of the 18. Following close behind were Jason Atkinson (R-Jacksonville) and Gary George (R-Newberg), with 8 no's apiece.

And in the House, the Champ of No was Betsy Close (R-Albany) with 13, trailed closely by Tom Butler (R-Ontario) and Dennis Richardson (R-Central Point) with 12 each, and Jeff Kruse (R-Roseburg) with 11.

We need to add an asterisk to that last batch, as there were two House members who were absent for quite a few key votes, and who probably would have voted no had they been on the floor. These are Cliff Zauner (R-Woodburn) who was absent for 12 out of the 18 votes, and who voted no on 3 of the 6 measures that he actually did vote on. Randy Miller (R-West Linn) voted no 6 times out of 12, and was absent for 6 other votes.

So does that mean that the session belonged to folks like Deckert, Berger, and Metsger, and not to folks like Close and Beyer? In some important ways, I think the answer is yes.

Yes and no: Deckert, Close.

Anyhow, here's my whole chart, with legislator and number of no votes. (Corrections will be gratefuly accepted and acknowledged; the master chart that I used as my source was on page A6 of Sunday's paper, if you haven't pitched it yet.)


Deckert, D-Beaverton, 0
Metsger, D-Welches, 0
Winters, R-Salem, 0
Burdick, D-Portland, 1
Morse, R-Albany, 1
Brown, D-Portland, 2
Carter, D-Portland, 2
Courtney, D-Salem, 2
Devlin, D-Tualatin, 2
Nelson, R-Pendleton, 2
Ringo, D-Beaverton, 2
Westlund, R-Bend, 2
Starr, C., R-Hillsboro, 3
Messerle, R-Coos Bay, 4
Schrader, D-Canby, 4
Walker, D-Eugene, 4
Ferrioli, R-John Day, 5
Gordly, D-Portland, 5
Shields, D-Portland, 5
Starr, B., R-Hillsboro, 5
Corcoran, D-Cottage Grove, 6
Dukes, D-Astoria, 6
Harper, R-Klamath Falls, 6
Minnis, R-Wood Village, 6
Morrisette, D-Springfield, 6
Fisher, R-Roseburg, 7
Atkinson, R-Jacksonville, 8
George, R-Newberg, 8
Hannon, R-Ashland, 9
Beyer, R-Molalla, 9


Berger, R-Salem, 0
Gallegos, R-Cornelius, 0
Backlund, R-Keizer, 1
Bates, D-Ashland, 1
Dalto, R-Salem, 1
Farr, R-Eugene, 1
Hass, D-Raleigh Hills, 1
Jenson, R-Pendleton, 1
Patridge, R-Medford, 1
Shetterly, R-Dallas, 1
Barker, D-Aloha, 2
Beyer, D-Springfield, 2
Hopson, D-Tillamook, 2
Hunt, D-Milwaukie, 2
Johnson, D-Scappoose, 2
Morgan, R-Myrtle Creek, 2
Schaufler, D-Happy Valley, 2
Williams, R-Tigard, 2
Hansen, D-Portland, 3
Kafoury, D-Portland, 3
Mabrey, R-The Dalles, 3
Macpherson, D-Lake Oswego, 3
Wirth, D-Corvallis, 3
Zauner, R-Woodburn, 3 (12 absences)
Ackerman, D-Eugene, 4
Barnhart, D-Eugene, 4
Brown, R-Newport, 4
Greenlick, D-Portland, 4
Krieger, R-Gold Beach, 4
Krummel, R-Wilsonville, 4
Minnis, R-Wood Village, 4
Anderson, L., D-Gresham, 4
Nolan, D-Portland, 4
Prozanski, D-Eugene, 4
Smith, P., R-Corbett, 4
Tomei, D-Milwaukie, 4
Verger, D-Coos Bay, 4
Anderson, G., R-Grants Pass, 5
Avakian, D-Beaverton, 5
Knopp, R-Bend, 5
March, D-Portland, 5
Dingfelder, D-Portland, 6
Kitts, R-Hillsboro, 6
Merkley, D-Portland, 6
Miller, R-West Linn, 6 (6 absences)
Rosenbaum, D-Portland, 6
Smith, T., R-Molalla, 6
Garrard, R-Klamath Falls, 7
Gilman, R-Medford, 7
Scott, R-Canby, 7
Flores, R-Boring, 8
Kropf, R-Sublimity, 8
Smith, G., R-Heppner, 8
Doyle, R-Salem, 10
Nelson, R-McMinnville, 10
Kruse, R-Roseburg, 11
Richardson, R-Central Point, 12
Butler, R-Ontario, 12
Close, R-Albany, 13

Whether you like what the Legislature did this time around or not, there's one very rough measure of who made some important things happen.

Wednesday, September 3, 2003


A new high-end food store has opened on the rebuilt site of the once-proud, then-torched Burlingame Grocery. It's called Market of Choice, and I think it's run out of Eugene. Their first day was last Friday.

It's hard to believe somebody wants to go head-to-head with Zupan's down the hill, but the competition is good news for consumers. Bring on the brie price wars!

Speak of the devil (or angel)

When was the last time you heard somebody talking about Tom Potter? Well, here not more than a day after I post an entry noting his career as Portland police chief, the guy announces that he's running for mayor. Worldwide Pablo broke the news, to this reader at least, and he offers some thoughts of his own here.

Come election time

I hope the moderate voters in this country fully understand that White House domestic policy (particularly with regard to taxation) has been placed entirely in the hands of scary groups like this one.

Tuesday, September 2, 2003

Where did the funky soul go?

I'll tell you where: Robert Randolph & the Family Band. The front man's a pedal steel guitar player, no less. There are a handful of inspired moments on this debut album (particularly in the up-tempo numbers), and here's hoping for many more in the months and years to come:

His real name is Mr. Congressman

Well, I'll be a monkey's uncle, Earl (of the Pearl) Blumenauer, my congressman, announced this morning that he's not running for mayor of Portland.

As I've said here before, he is a great congressman, and so this is good news for his current constituents and the nation.

Blumenauer's exit leaves my neighbor, Commissioner Jim Francesconi, as the clear front runner for the mayor's seat. There's talk of Commissioner Erik Sten running against him, and I'd relish that prospect.

Heck, I'd volunteer to write the negative ads about Erik for free.

I have a hunch there's still one other credible candidate lurking in the wings, but who? Mark Kroeker? Ha ha. Randy Leonard? A great choice, but probably not yet properly "aged" in his city commssioner's job. Kate Brown? She was said to have wanted Earl's seat in Congress. One of the Multnomah County (ooh, I want so much to say "babes") commissioners?

Amazing news.

Job from hell

Her Honor announced the new police chief today -- Derrick Foxworth, a 20-year veteran of the Portland police force, former chief public information officer for the bureau, one-time Northeast Precinct commander, and most recently assistant chief under Mark Kroeker.

Kroeker got his walking papers last Friday. The mayor didn't even have the decency to fire him to his face. So former Commissioner Mike Lindberg apparently went in and axed the guy. Vera, how gutless. And Mike, are you still on the city payroll somewhere? Sheesh.

People are praising Foxworth and wishing him well, and I join them, but I'm not optimistic. He's taking on one of the most impossible government jobs anywhere, and in his early 40s no less. He's working under a lame-duck mayor who has shown little ability to help get the bureau's problems under control. And there's all sorts of old and heavy baggage being thrown around by the officers' union, the lefty community, the African-American community, you name it.

You just can't win in that job. It's a bitch, both physically and psychologically. The Oregonian's editorial board was right on Saturday when it said:

A majority of Portland's police officers are... dedicated and worthy of the city's pride and support. But their service is overshadowed by a mean streak running through the bureau and an institutional defensiveness that gives rise to self-serving policies.
Those shadows fall over the chief most particularly.

As several news sources pointed out over the weekend, before then-Mayor Frank Ivancie appointed Ron Still to the chief's job in 1981, Portland had had just two chiefs of police in 20 years. However, when Bud Clark whoop-whooped his way to City Hall in '84, rapid turnover in the position began, and it hasn't let up much since. I believe there have been six chiefs and several more acting chiefs since Bud took over. Three Clark appointees -- Robert Tobin, Jim Davis, and Richard Walker -- came and went so fast they don't merit too much discussion. If I recall correctly, Walker gained notoreity for allegedly slapping a female police officer in the face. Davis deserves mention as the chief who prefaced a curt comment to the mayor over a power breakfast with the phrase "Read my lips." Clark's response: "Read my lips: You're fired."

A few of Davis's predecessors and successors have also had to master the art of lip-reading. Things usually don't go well for long for the Portland police chief, and they have a tendency to end badly. Here's the roll call of the recent chiefs who lasted longer than a cup of coffee, and what happened to them in the job:

Ron Still. Portland police officers had just been caught throwing dead possums in front of an African-American-owned restaurant when law-and-order zealot Ivancie (who slept with a baseball bat under his bed) kicked then-Commissioner Charles Jordan out of the Police Bureau chair. Still was brought in as part of that regime change. He had his detractors for being too militaristic and stifling creativity in officers. When Clark became mayor, Still was dismissed after around three and a half years as chief. Four years later, he ran against Clark for mayor. He managed to force a runoff, where Clark won re-election easily. Today Still and his wife are selling real estate.

Penny Harrington. The First! Woman! Police Chief! Of Any! Major! American! City! Yes, but the union office strongly disliked her, and the Men in Blue (and I do mean Men) resented her. During her tenure, a 31-year-old black man was choked to death by a police-administered "sleeper hold." Community outrage escalated when, on the day of the young man's funeral, several Portland police officers were found selling t-shirts which read, "Don't Choke 'em, Smoke 'em." Within a year and a half of her taking office, there was an alleged scandal involving Harrington's then-husband, also a member of the force, who was accused of tipping off the subject of police surveillance in what was then called Old Town. Then a blue ribbon panel convened by Clark called for Harrington to be bounced. And she was. Now she lives in Southern California and acts as an expert witness and consultant on gender discrimination.

Tom Potter. Potter strengthened his credibility with gays and lesbians when he publicly supported his gay daughter, a Portland police officer. There was quite a flap over his wanting to march in uniform in a gay pride parade. Naturally, he became a target of criticism from the Oregon Citizens Alliance, with one of its officers accusing the chief of bending under the pressure of the "homosexual agenda." Shortly after Vera Katz became mayor, Potter abruptly retired at age 52, two and a half years after becoming chief, reportedly because of the mayor's penchant for micro-managing the bureau.

Charles Moose. An African-American deputy chief hand-picked by Katz to take over the bureau (sound familiar?) when Potter bailed, Moose attempted to carry out the community policing mandate introduced by Harrington and Potter. But his own relationship with the African-American community soured, particularly after a nasty scene in Sellwood Park in which beanbag rounds were fired at some allegedly rowdy would-be partygoers. After an angry crowd marched on his Northeast Portland home one hot summer night, Moose began looking for the exit door. Seen by some as volatile and unpredictable, he quit to take the top cop job in a county in Maryland, a job he also quit under pressure after his 15 minutes of fame expired in the D.C. sniper case. He had persevered in Portland, though, lasting six years as chief.

Mark Kroeker. He was heralded as the man who had calmed things down in L.A. after the Rodney King riots. But whoever vetted his candidacy for the Portland gig overlooked his broadcast anti-gay remarks down there. Then up here we had the May Day disturbances, the disastrous First W. Visit, the Iraq War protests, and the Kendra James shooting. Meanwhile, police stations throughout the city were being closed at night and on weekends. Kroeker interviewed for the L.A. chief's job, calling his thin commitment to Portland even further into question. It got very lonely at the top very quickly. He lasted three and a half years.

See any happy stories there? I don't.

So Chief Foxworth, I sincerely wish you the best of luck. You are going to need it.

Monday, September 1, 2003

Unemployment trend

There was a piece in Sunday's Oregonian (which, of course, cannot be found today on the O's miserable website) reprinted from Salon. In it, a pundit declares that the extremely popular no-call laws enacted around the country, and now by the federal government, are a mistake. The author claims that these laws violate telemarketers' rights of free speech. Besides, the article complains, the national no-call list could put as many as 2,000,000 telemarketers out of work immediately.

One can only hope so.

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