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

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May 2004 Archives

Monday, May 31, 2004


Sunday, May 30, 2004

You read it here first

Another 15 minutes of blogging fame today, as my reminiscences of a year ago about summers in Belmar, N.J. have landed me in a story in today's Star-Ledger, based in Newark. (Oregonian readers will recognize from the format of the web page that it's another Advance (Newhouse) newspaper.)

If any Star-Ledger readers make it this far, my journal entry from last year is here.

Saturday, May 29, 2004

Memorial Day weekend special

Oregon Hood strawberries, picked today. Life is good.

Lending library

A while back I mentioned how disgraced former Oregon Gov. Neil Goldschmidt was exerting control over his gubernatorial papers -- so much so that one had to ask permission to see them. As usual, anyone who wanted something relating to him had to "negotiate" with the powerful Goldschmidt. And, typical of the man's gall, you had to pay his lawyers to review your request!

That got me thinking, how can he do that? To the extent those papers were produced while he was sitting in his state office, or riding around on state-paid travel, they were created on state time. He was using state stationery and state writing utensils, and he produced these documents with the help of state-paid staff. Thus, they're public records, and the public has a right to see them, no?

Well, now Secretary of State Bill Bradbury, a Democrat running for re-election in November, has asked the same questions. He's planning to take the documents back from the Oregon Historical Society (probably a hotbed of West Hills NG lieutenants) on Tuesday, and put them in the Oregon State Archives.

Should have been done long ago.

And when they get to their new location, there will be quite a line of reporters wanting to see them, I'm sure. As I've said before, the digging into this man's past has only just begun.

Friday, May 28, 2004

Find Brooke

By now most Oregon residents who read this blog have heard and read about the missing teenager, Brooke Wilberger, who disappeared into thin air the other day in Corvallis. The rest of you, please take a look at this and keep your eyes peeled.

Prayer time.

Those wonderful lawyers and judges

The folks at law.com had an extensive roundup the other day of current stories about some not-so-distinguished members of my noble profession. I've been running a good-looking law prof contest -- maybe a sleaziest lawyer competition would make more sense.

Today's contestants are here, here, here, and here.

Thursday, May 27, 2004

Bloggers in the news

The New York Times had a big splash in its Circuits section today about blogging. It contains a Tony Pierce sound bite that sums up the entire article:

Where some frequent bloggers might label themselves merely ardent, Mr. Pierce is more realistic. "I wouldn't call it dedicated, I would call it a problem," he said. "If this were beer, I'd be an alcoholic."
Meanwhile, I'm reliably informed that Portland's right wing nattering radio nabob, Lars Larson, has been reading aloud on the air from this blog. I'm sure his voice and delivery put a wicked edge on my words.

I wish they were being read by, say, Nicole Kidman instead.

Rock of ages, cleft for me

Here's some legislation that's not all it's cracked up to be.

Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Howard Dean endorses Tom Potter

No joke -- check it out on OPB.

Another fallen hero

You thought all the dark City Hall secrets were from 30 years ago?

Sadly, that's not true. See for yourself.

Bad moment on the campaign trail

This makes sense

The one valid thing I can see coming out of the Bush administration's latest round of "tera" warnings is its emphasizing that there are some known AQ operatives running around in this country, and they need to be brought in. Here, take a look:

Other than that, is it breaking news to anyone that Al Qaeda is planning to attack the United States again "sometime soon"? Are the swing voters of this country really that out of it? Were we thinking that they had given up on the idea? That they wouldn't get around to it for a good long while?

And the nominees are...

This is the week we promised our readers the nominees for the first Law Prof Hunk / Babe of the Year contest -- our quest to find the best-looking law professor in the United States. Before fulfilling that promise, at least in part, a few cautionary words are in order.

A number of comments we have received have prompted us to re-think why we're doing this. What are the pro's and con's of a survey that judges law professors only on their looks?

Why do it. A law Prof Hunk / Babe competition makes a statement, however small, about the silliness of the many "best of" lists that now surround the practice of law and the legal academy. For a decade or two we've all labored under the pressure of the almighty U.S. News & World Report rankings of law schools. Our mailboxes are full of glossy brochures and announcements from lower-tier schools trying to move up in the peer ranking portion of the survey. Admissions decisionmakers now routinely have one eye on how their policies will look in the U.S. News selectivity ratings. And although the methodology behind the U.S. News standings is so full of holes that it would take a book to explain all the problems, there's no use fighting them. They're the 900-pound gorilla who won't be leaving the room any time soon.

But now we've got something called LawTV going to rank law professors' "influence" based on some sort of poll of every Tom, Dick and Harry with an internet connection. It's so absurd that Paul Caron wondered aloud on his excellent TaxProf Blog whether a swimsuit competition would be part of the festivities. Which led me to think, why not? Why not a law professor competition based on looks alone? It might point up the exquisite absurdity of yet another set of pointless rankings.

And it might be fun.

Why not to do it. What harm could come of a Law Prof Hunk / Babe competition? One reader points out:

The Greedy Associates webboard has had similar threads, threads that led to female professors' pictures being posted and incredibly obscene things being written about them. I really, really hope you don't post the "winners" of this contest. Young, attractive, female professors have a hard enough time being taken seriously--how nightmarish to find your face and name being posted on the website (of a fellow professor!) as a person who should be viewed as a sexual object. The Greedy Associates threads became very well known, so much so that when I mentioned the name of a professor at law school X to a student at that law school, the student's response was, "Oh yeah, did you hear that according to Greedy Associates she's the most f**kable prof?"
How sad, but now that I think about it, I see that's a real risk. One thing I have learned interacting with people on the web is that everybody's out there, including all manner of sexists and perverts. I would hate to feed into that.

I must object to part of the comment: "how nightmarish to find your face and name being posted on the website (of a fellow professor!) as a person who should be viewed as a sexual object." There's a difference -- at least to me -- between admiring someone's physical beauty and holding them out as a sex object. Nonetheless, while the vast majority of readers of this blog can doubtlessly appreciate that distinction, I wouldn't swear that all of them can.

So what to do? Cancel the contest, after it's brought so many visitors to this site? Doesn't seem fair. Since the problem appears to affect female professors more than males, I've decided to go with the male side of the contest first, and see what happens. (With my luck, that will get me in more trouble than any other course of action.)

Here then, in no apparent order, are the nominees in the Hunk Division. The following links will send you only to each nominee's picture:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16

To vote for your choice, just send an e-mail to jackbogsblog@comcast.net. Please give your name and law school affiliation, plus the number of your selection. You may vote only once, and for only one nominee. Be sure to put "Hunk vote" in the subject line of your e-mail message.

The deadline for voting is 11:59 p.m. PDT, Friday, June 4. The winner will be announced the following week. If we left someone out, there's still time to add a nomination, but there will be no extensions to the voting deadline.

As for the Babe Division, I'd like to hear more from readers about the concerns addressed above. Please sound off in the "Comments" section to this post, and I'll get back to everyone after we've had a chance to digest what gets posted there.

Meanwhile, good luck to all the Law Prof Hunk contestants! Readers, readers, on the net, who's the hunkiest law prof yet?

UPDATE, 6/8, 9:24 p.m.: The winners are announced here.

For the record

This little gem really socks it to Little Lord Fauntlebush.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Campaign strategy

Approval ratings tanking? Speech went over like a lead balloon?

No worries. Just go to this card for a while.

Stinking to high heaven

John Dunshee, a.k.a. Just Some Poor Schmuck, thinks he smells bureaucratic corruption in this story about mysterious, utter nonenforcement of environmental and health and safety laws at a Northwest Portland industrial plant.

I'm with you, John.

But no, of course, it couldn't be. This is Oregon! Nobody's on the take out here. Everybody in government's squeaky clean, from top to bottom.

Ding dong, the boondoggle's dead

Now that former Gov. Neil Goldschmidt has been forced from power, his client and crony, developer Tom Moyer, says the plan to have the city buy up several downtown blocks and extend the Park Blocks is "dead."

One can only hope and pray that he's right.

Right now there's a two-minute wait in this city for a 911 operator. The city just lost $7 million in an arbitration over police pay. Our police are understaffed and trigger-happy. The police precincts are closed at night and on weekends. Murders in the city are up 35 percent.

Let's stop talking about pork projects and take care of basic governmental services, shall we? We've got a golden opportunity to straighten ourselves out with the Queen of Bad Ideas on her way to the door.

Win early, lose late

This is where the Democratic Party and the left wing need to pay very, very close attention.

The President looks desperate at the moment. His speech gave the country nothing new, and his glimpse into the future (138,000 or more troops in Iraq, indefinitely) will serve only to exacerbate the fears and doubts that the vast middle of the spectrum is feeling right now.

And it's become more obvious than ever that he's not the sharpest knife in the drawer. We'll build another prison and knock down the one where we tortured and abused the prisoners. That solves that, eh?

It's very easy to think that Kerry has got the election sewn up. But that would be dangerously wrong thinking.

There are still more than five months to go until the election. Public opinion can swing wildly in just a few weeks, much less months. Moreover, as dense as W. is, he's also lucky. And he's got a huge, quiet following out there that is throwing money at him as hard and as fast as it can.

Not to mention the no-tax crowd. You can bet that as November approaches, every other word out of the Bush camp's mouth is going to be "taxes." And the public is greedy and stupid when it comes to that particular topic. If you don't promise to cut their taxes, many, many voters will vote for your opponent, no other questions asked. Bush has another tax cut to promise. Kerry's too honest and conscientious to serve one up. For better or worse, that's going to sway a lot of folks.

Plus, don't think there isn't an October surprise or two in the works. If he can nab OBL in Yemen or wherever, Bush will win, no matter what's going down in Iraq. And even if he can't, don't count him out. To beat him is going to take more work, and smart work, and a lot of it.

Monday, May 24, 2004

Sticker shock

Hey! It's Copper River salmon season again here in the Pacific Northwest!

And hey! It's $29 a pound in the market.

Swim on, little fishies, swim on.

Say what?

Just when I was about to repent from my worst un-PC ways, I come across some very fiery remarks from one Mr. Bill Cosby, who took the opportunity on the anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education to say some things he felt he needed to say.

Click here and here and scroll down to read some of them.

Regardless of whether you agree with the Coz, you've got to admit that it's a great country we live in that he can speak his mind. (Via Rosenblog.)

Sunday, May 23, 2004

Copy right

The Oregonian had a huge front-page expose today about then-Gov. Neil Goldschmidt's use of his influence to benefit the man who was serving as the go-between between Goldschmidt and his statutory rape victim.

It was a great story. I enjoyed it almost as much as I did last Wednesday, and the Wednesday before, when I read it in Willamette Week.

The archbishop has a theory

Big front-page story in The O today (although it's not really news) about how the Catholic archbishop of Portland is telling victims of priestly pedophilia that he's too broke to pay them any damages. According to Archbishop John Vlazny, he can't liquidate church parish assets to pay damages to the victims, because under "canon law," those assets have always belonged to the parishes, not the archdiocese. The archbishop contends that although hundreds of millions of dollars' worth of property is in his name, he's just been holding it "in trust" for the parishes. And so unless the plaintiffs in the child sex abuse cases go away, he'll file for bankruptcy for the archdiocese and tell those plaintiffs to go take a hike.

A very interesting theory. I give it less than a 20 percent chance of prevailing.

When you hold assets in trust, under the actual, real, civil laws of this country, you say so in the title of the property. That's never been the case with the Catholic Church. There's never been the slightest whiff of any "trust" for the parishes, until now, when it's most convenient to "discover" one. The church has always been a top-down organization, in which the congregation, and even its priests, have been ruled with an iron hand. There's never been any mechanism whereby the parishes -- the supposed beneficiaries of Bishop Vlazny's "trusts" -- have had any right to demand anything whatsoever. They're not trust beneficiaries, not even close. They're subjects of a hierarchy.

"Canon law" is a fascinating distraction in these cases. But in the end, it's like the bylaws of any nonprofit organization. Internally, it rules the roost. But when it comes to paying off outside creditors, including tort victims, it shouldn't, and probably won't, mean jack squat.

When I was growing up, I was always taught that the church wasn't about buildings and money. We were always reminded that early Christians held their services in caves, and that persecuted Catholics throughout the ages made do with makeshift houses of worship. We learned that the church wasn't ultimately reliant on its fancy buildings and bejeweled altars and robes, but rather on the riches of the souls of the faithful.

If, under the laws of this country, the church owes millions of dollars to people who as children were sexually abused by priests, I for one would like to see them compensated for the harm caused to them. If that means selling lots of church real estate and holding Mass in tents, so be it.

As a Catholic, I wish the church would stop behaving like a common deadbeat. Pay our debts, Archbishop Vlazny, and let's get on with our spiritual lives.

Saturday, May 22, 2004

Visit with an old friend

This week, I did just what you'd expect of an aging baby boomer: I picked up a collection of three Time/Life oldies CDs while I was out at Costco. Geezer-ific stuff in there. And I hardly got into the second disk when I hit a show-stopper that I've been repeating over and over.

I had forgotten about it, but now it's back on my charts with a bullet. It's stuck in my head. I'm singing it to my kids. I'm driving the wife crazy with it.

It's "Get a Job" by the Silhouettes.

The story behind this song and the four singers who made it has been told very well, I think, in places such as this and this. Let me just add a few personal observations to what you can already read elsewhere.

"Get a Job" was one of the many vinyl 45 rpm singles that lived in a treasured record box in my bedroom when I was a little kid. As I've recounted here before, many of them were castoffs from my older cousins, who along with their parents were very hip to the rock 'n' roll and rhythm and blues scenes. We played these records over and over on primitive "hi fi's" (with "needles" the size of ice pick tips) that did not produce too clear a sound. Moreover, the records themselves were often pressed on some pretty crude equipment, and so what we heard as we danced around our Newark, N.J. fourplex was a very muddy version of what now comes so crisply off the digitally remastered CD. But it was a beautiful sound to us, one we couldn't get enough of despite the limitations of the technology of the time. Hi fi (and soon, stereo) were the miracles of the day, and they were plenty good enough.

I must confess I never understood all the words to "Get a Job." You didn't need to. What mattered most was the chorus. It was the most wonderful nonsense: "Sha na na na / Sha na na na na / Bah-doo" and "Dip dip dip dip dip dip dip dip / Um um um um um um" preceded the bass man's bottom line, "Get a job." (Even there, I see on the internet that people hear it as "yip yip yip" rather than "dip dip dip." Who cares?) That, and a swinging sax break in the middle, had the cousins and their partners reelin' and rockin'.

Rehearing the song 45 years later, I'm even more impressed. The singing, the instrumentation, and the mix all capture the sound of early RNR and R&B perfectly. It sounds as though the four Silhouettes had only one mike to work with -- two at the most -- and you can almost see the bass singer and the tenor stepping forward and back to get in the right position to take the lead at their respective times. Like so many excellent harmony groups of the '50s and '60s, these guys (who had recently switched from gospel) knew their way around a song, and around each other's voices. I am sure they could make glorious music in a storefront church, on a bus, in an alley, or in a dinky, dusty studio in Philadelphia.

The structure of the song, which one of the Silhouettes wrote while in the Army, is beautiful chaos. There's the "sha na na" chorus, which is clearly the backbone of the tune, and that's obviously unorthodox enough on its own. But the rest of the number doesn't fit any typical pattern, either. There's a first verse which sets up the story, but then, after the chorus, a second verse doesn't match the first in either the number of lines or the poetic meter. Indeed, the second verse, which gets repeated later in the song, doesn't have any rhymes in it at all! Then suddenly everything stops, and for a second it seems like a whole new song is starting. The tenor is shout-singing, over nothing but a drum beat and some hand claps. And the lyrics he's got are, like the rest of "Get a Job," totally un-PC:

And then I go back to the house
Hear that woman's mouth

Whereupon the other three voices chime in:

Preachin' and a-cryin'
Tellin' me that I'm lyin' 'bout a jo-o-o-o-o-o-ob

And the bass caps it all off:

That I never could find.

It's incredibly catchy, so much so that they sold a million copies of "Get a Job" in less than a month. Years later, a popular oldies revival group would name itself "Sha Na Na" after the chorus. Heck, back in New Jersey, I knew some guys who named their band the "Bah-Doos."

Thank heaven for technology, which brings this story back around to my wireless headset in 2004. At long last I have figured out what the lead is blurting out in the first line of the song. You just get used to all the "sha na na'ing" going on when he cuts in with a syncopated blast that crams what seems like a whole verse into less than five beats (I believe it's just over a single bar, although I'm no musician). He says: "Every morning about this time she get me out of my bed a-cryin', Get a job." It's delivered in under five seconds, and it's so disarming, you just want to dance even harder. One of the great rock moments of all time. And that's just the first line.

In sum, "Get a Job" is hysterical fun. If you're too young to remember this one, raid your grandparents' music collection and check it out. If it's lying around in your own collection and you haven't played it in a while, you know what to do.


Thursday, May 20, 2004

The shifting story

Now that Brandon Mayfield's apparently been cleared of involvement in the Madrid bombings, the next story will be why the CIA and the FBI were checking his fingerprints, anyway.

Sure, they were on file, his having been in the military and being a member of the Oregon State Bar. But why did they check them? Did they check every fingerprint on file with every government agency around the world?

Or is he on some kind of list, because he once represented a member of the Portland Seven in a child custody case?

Who else's prints are they checking? Every devout Muslim they know of?

This story is going to turn out quite different from the Maher Hawash case, that's for sure.

Flash: Estate planning news

My day job has to do with tax law, particularly as it applies to estate planning for the wealthy. And there is big, big news for the estate planners of America tonight. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit has ruled in favor of some taxpayers whose late mother had set up a family limited partnership (an FLP, as it's known in the trade) to avoid federal estate taxes. The court held that section 2036(a) of the Internal Revenue Code did not apply to the arrangement, and so the value that was subject to estate tax was much less than what the government contended.

For those of you interested in such things, the Fifth Circuit's opinion in the case, Kimbell v. United States, can be found here.


Million-Dollar Jim Francesconi spent yesterday morning telling reporters how he's going to portray himself in the general election as an agent of change.

Then he went back inside City Hall and voted tens of millions of tax dollars (including $10 million of "urban renewal" funds, which include citywide property taxes) to re-do the transit mall to add light rail.

In a few weeks, he will vote many more millions of city tax dollars for an aerial tram to OHSU. He has no choice -- he sits on the tram's board of directors.

Oh yeah, if he's elected mayor, he's gonna change the way things are done. Sure.

Jim, I hear they need a new county counsel in Clackamas County. You might want to send in your resume.

Good read

This really is a fantastic story. It makes you want to help a father and his daughter. It makes you want to pat a good police officer on the back. And if you pray, you may want to do that, too.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004

The dream

I have this great recurring dream. It comes when things are going well for me, when I'm managing to stay on top of all the matters with which I've filled up my life. When a number of missions have been accomplished, and I'm getting a chance to slow down a little.

In the dream, I'm in the ocean on a sunny day. I'm standing about chest high in the surf. The waves are just the right height, there's a bit of an undertow, and then, all right! Here comes the perfect body surfing wave! I turn and face shore and get ready to time my jump.

It's a beauty. I hit it just right and ride it in for many, many yards.

Lately I think my older daughter's been in it, off-"camera" to one side, and I'm explaining to her what I'm doing.

Learn the words!

Here's the song that everyone in Portland will be humming all summer long.

Tuesday, May 18, 2004

They're neck-and-neck

Who's more annoying: David Wu or Goli Ameri?

We'll find out this November in Oregon's First Congressional District.


Portland City Commissioner Randy Leonard and Oregon Supreme Court Justice Rives Kistler have both earned re-election to their positions on the first ballot.

Well deserved. Have a nice summer, gentlemen!


Not only couldn't Portland City Commissioner Jim Francesconi avoid a runoff in his bid for mayor -- he couldn't even win the primary, with a million-dollar war chest.

His opponent, Tom Potter, has announced that he's raised his contribution limit to $100/person. My check will be going out soon.

People are obviously so tired of the current crew in City Hall. Maybe there is still hope for this town after all.

Too close for comfort

Twenty-four years ago this morning, I was sleeping in a tent in a county park drive-up campground in Trout Lake, Washington. My then-girlfriend and I were both still feeling the effects of another fun Saturday night drinking and dancing at the nearby Trout Lake Tavern, which hosted such Portland bar bands as the Burnside Bombers.

As the sun came up and things got warm and bright, we rolled around in the tent, trying to catch an extra hour or so of sleep against the possibility of a bit of a hangover.

Then it got dark again. We heard a steady rumbling noise, kind of like a major thunderstorm brewing. "Oh, well," I thought. "The mountains make their own weather. There's a thunderstorm starting already. Better get up and get this tent and our gear packed up before everything gets wet."

When we got up and looked around, there was a huge cloud blackening the entire sky to the north of us, clear skies off to the south. Before we could shake off the cobwebs and figure it out, an older man came running through the campground. "Mount St. Helens is erupting!" he yelled. "They're seeing lava up there! Get out of here quick!" And he ran off.

We looked at each other and asked: "Do we have time for a quick shower?"

We hustled into the little coin-operated Klickitat County campground showers (we always brought quarters), and washed off the Burnside Bombers (or whoever the band had been the night before). Given what was going on, we decided to skip a campground breakfast and get right on the road back south to Oregon.

We didn't realize it at the time, but we were less than 35 miles southeast of the center of the devastating explosion that killed 57 people that morning.

We weren't in a resricted area. Fifty-three people who died weren't, either. Some of those who died were 13 miles away, to the north, from St. Helens. There were massive mudflows and floods that reached for many miles, but they were all generally to the north and west as well.

We drove down to Hood River and ate a big breakfast at the Hood River Inn, all the while looking over our shoulders at the unspeakably large plume of smoke and ash. It was 12 miles high. Nearby Mount Adams, which had looked like a pretty picture postcard on Saturday evening, was now a frightening, massive lump of gray, burned-out charcoal.

Then we cruised down the Columbia Gorge and hiked up to Larch Mountain, where a crowd had gathered to look over at the major geologic event in our nation's history. The scope of the damage, they said, was monumental. The top 1300 feet of the mountain had disappeared in minutes.

Only when we got a good look at it from up there did it finally dawn on us how scared we should have been that morning.

Monday, May 17, 2004

Law Prof Hunk / Babe update

With less than a week to go to nominate law professors for Best-Looking American Law Professor of the Year, we have nominations of professors from the following schools:

California Cincinnati Drake Harvard Hofstra Houston Lewis & Clark Mississippi Nebraska Northeastern Oregon San Francisco Southern Cal Stanford
There's still time to nominate the best-looking law prof you know. Check the official contest rules here, then submit your law prof hotties.

The complete list of nominees will be posted here next week.

Everything's fine

If there's been any question whether The Oregonian newspaper is the fat and lazy champion of the status quo here in Portland, the last few weeks have supplied an affirmative answer that history will not ignore.

The obvious place to start is the paper's pattycake treatment of former Gov. Neil Goldschmidt's "extraordinary and emotional" exclusive interview in which he acknowledged his "affair" with a 14-year-old girl. Next, there was its bungling rush to print an op-ed piece defending NG, written by the guy who, apparently unbeknownst to the investigative wizards at The O, for years served as a go-between between sex offender and victim. Yesterday, we had the same guy getting carte blanche to tell his side of it in a banner headline front-page story -- he was just a good Samaritan trying to help a girl in trouble. In the same story, The O shamelessly rehashed details of the scandal previously developed by the Willamette Week.

But even leaving all that aside, the local fish wrap has really been outdoing itself lately in its efforts to numb the minds of the residents of Portland. The O really, really wants us to believe that the city is on the right track, with the right priorities, even though a substantial portion of the population is smart enough to sense otherwise.

As an example, on today's front page, we get a glowing profile of a nice young man in the city transportation office, who, doggone it, has smoothed the way for the construction of the sky tram between OHSU and the new concrete jungle about to be erected in North Macadam. Yes, the city has agreed to throw a few bones to the neighborhood -- ripping out some on-ramps to the Ross Island Bridge, building a pedestrian bridge over I-5, and installing a bunch of speed bumps and other traffic calming devices. And that's apparently gotten a few of the neighborhood activists who opposed the tram to begrudgingly give their consent.

Which is enough to get The O all worked up about the beauty of it all. Despite the pending legal challenges, on The O news pages, the tram is now "inevitable," and everybody's mostly happy.


Now we all get to watch for a few years as the funding for all the neighborhood improvements becomes painfully hard to come by, while the tram construction -- a Goldschmidt-Francesconi pet project if there ever was one -- marches skyward. Nowhere does the article mention the fact that the tram is already nearly 100% over budget. Nor the fact that multiple millions of dollars of "urban renewal" funds, which include a large chunk of citywide property taxes, are now suddenly being earmarked for the constructon.

And appallingly, everyone but me, it seems, is ignoring the queston of who will pay to run the tram, which will turn an operating deficit well into six figures every year. Will we take the already existing $900,000-a-year city taxpayer subsidy of the streetcar system and push it well over $1 million with the sky tram? Of course we will. Even with NG hiding in Idaho, the Tram People -- including Mrs. G., Million Dollar Jim, Mike Lindberg, and the usual suspects -- will get his little job done.

In its election endorsements, The O says it admires all that City Hall "experience" of Million Dollar Jim and Sam Adams. That's code for "Let's keep things the way they are."

I say, out with all of them.

The O would be funny if it weren't so pitiful.

Don't forget to vote!

Oregonians, tomorrow's the deadline to turn in your ballots for the primary election. It's too late to mail them -- you'd better drop them off at a designated drop site!

This is true even if you're voting on behalf of a dead person, or the person who used to live at your address.


My grades are in (in fact, have been so for nearly 36 hours now), and so the school year has come to an end. We have lots of graduation-related festivities this weekend, but other than that, it's over until late August.

A series of all-nighters pulled in connection with meeting the grading deadline (almost) have resulted in my sporting a head cold for this first week of summer "vacation." But it's a minor annoyance that won't spoil the sweet freedom that comes with the academic life.

As always, I've got big plans for the summer. But first, it's time to adjust to the summer rhythms.

Sunday, May 16, 2004

Gubernatorial address

Friends, Oregonians, countrymen, lend me your ears;
I come to bury Goldschmidt, not to praise him;
The evil that men do lives after them,
The good is oft interréd with their bones,
So let it be with Goldschmidt... The noble Jaquiss
Hath told you Goldschmidt was licentious:
If it were so, it was a grievous fault,
And grievously hath Goldschmidt answered it....
He was my friend, faithful and just to me:
But Jaquiss says he was licentious;
And Jaquiss is an honourable man;
So are they all; all honourable men....
He hath brought much development to Portland,
Whose condo tow'rs and light rail lines now thrive:
Did this in Goldschmidt seem licentious?
You all did love him once, not without cause:
What cause withholds you then to mourn for him?
O judgement! thou art fled to brutish beasts,
And men have lost their reason.... Bear with me;
My career is in the coffin there with Goldschmidt,
And I must pause till it come back to me.

Oh, really?

Interesting Factoid of the Day, from an article a couple of years back:

Goldschmidt became passionate about Burgundy and later, Oregon Pinot Noir. He purchased property and traded for sites while still holding political office, hoping someday to be involved in the wine industry.

Saturday, May 15, 2004

National spotlight

I just ran across a front-page article in yesterday's New York Times about New York Gov. George Pataki's good financial fortunes thanks to a certain friend and college buddy from his days as a Yalie.

That buddy being none other than Rick Hayden of Lake Oswego, Ore., a law firm boss of mine from 20 years ago who's since dropped out of law practice and become quite the tycoon wheeling and dealing in real estate around the country.

The Times article is curious. It's apparent that the writers were hunting around for something illegal or unethical in the Patakis' relationship with the Haydens, and didn't find what they were hunting for. So the paper published what they did find, anyway.

The governor doesn't make much money in his public office, and he's got kids to send to expensive colleges and law schools. Hayden noticed this, and offered to give Pataki a chance to join him in some real estate ventures, which turned out very well.

Hey Rick, old buddy, old pal, remember me? I've got a couple of college funds going now...

Perhaps the funniest part of the Times' expose lite was the picture it ran of Hayden. He wouldn't let them take one now, and all his old law firm shots have long since evaporated from the 'net. So they had to go with his Yale college yearbook photo from 1967. He was quite the cleancut kid back then.

Friday, May 14, 2004


Visit no. 125K to this blog occurred a few minutes ago. This is just 36 days after visit no. 100K. Cool!

The latest milestone was reached by a visitor here in the Pacific time zone, on dsl-only.net. There was no referral source picked up by our various trackers, and so it must have been a regular reader.

Thanks to everyone who refers folks here, and of course to all our readers themselves.

"Where Grandpa left off"

The Eugene Register-Guard had an eye-opening interview the other day with the Goldschmidt victim's cousin. If you've been wondering "Where was her family?" you may want to start getting your answer here. (Plus more indications of a rock star connection.)

Handicappers' alert

Think you know Oregon politics? Put your political capital where your mouth is by predicting the outcomes of the elections at Punditology.

Something's fishy

Want to look into our illustrious former governor's papers to see what else he was up to in office besides statutory rape and cover-up?

Too bad. He's keeping them secret.

'Rollin' on a river

Here's a blog worth watching, by Scott Jensen of North Portland.

Thursday, May 13, 2004


If you haven't decided yet whom you'll vote for for Portland's mayor, time is running out. Mail ballots are due this coming Tuesday, even for dead voters.

Here's some commentary from an astute political analyst that you might find helpful to your decisionmaking.

Cue Three Dog Night

"Well, I never been to Spain..."


Kari Chisholm of Mandate Media has converted his Politics & Technology newsletter into a blog. And there's some new stuff up, if you're interested.

No comment

My internet service provider has been having some server issues. Not only has this stopped me from posting for a while, but it's also blocked readers from leaving comments. Things are back to normal now, but the problems have been recurring intermittently. Apologies to those of you who have encountered problems here, and if they crop up again, please know that I'm frustrated, too.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004

Filling Neil's shoes

The word is out that the Texas Pacific Group, which is seeking to buy Portland General Electric from Enron's bankruptcy trustee, is looking for a prominent local figure to replace disgraced former Gov. Neil Goldschmidt in the leadership group of its takeover team.

Replacing an Oregon icon such as Goldschmidt will be an extremely tall order. TPG is going to need someone with instant name recognition among Oregonians -- someone who, like Goldschmidt, made his mark in history decades ago and is known throughout the world. A native Oregonian who is universally beloved and respected, and surrounded by careful image-makers and handlers. Someone with charm and toughness.

There's only one guy fit for the job.

Neighborhood involvement

TPB Esq., the author of the blog Unbillable Hours, recently attended a local land use meeting in his New Jersey neighborhood. His report on the session rings very true, and very funny. (Via Parkway Rest Stop.)

Heaven help us all

Pdx reporter has a link to the full beheading video up. I confess, I watched it. It was very, very disturbing, even with the sound off. I want to say, "Don't watch it," but unless you have thought really long and hard about the war lately, then maybe you should.

I agree with pdx reporter that realistically, the U.S. has only two choices: withdrawal or use of weapons of mass destruction. Fighting in the streets with these people is getting us nowhere.

How would the WMD option play out? I remember the old '60s nuke novel Fail Safe. We'd announce that a city held by the enemy -- say, Fallujah -- was going to be destroyed in, say, a week. We would tell everyone to leave. On the appointed date, we would literally level it. This would continue, a city at a time, until the Muslim extremists gave up.

No doubt the enemy would use lots of innocent people as shields. Our bombs would kill many of them.

Is that what we want to do?

If not, we'll never win this war. Eventually, we will have to declare another hollow "mission accomplished" and come home.

And if that's the case, why not do it now?

We've only just begun

From today's Willamette Week, one gets the impression that the Neil Goldschmidt statutory rape scandal may lead to an extended examination into the ethics of many transactions that took place in Goldschmidt's career. In a substantial sidebar to today's cover story, WW reports that while he was governor, Hizzoner personally intervened in official state regulatory proceedings to help the man who was allegedly acting as a go-between between Goldschmidt and the victim of his sex crimes. The result of Goldschmidt's alleged arm-twisting, according to the story, was for his helper in the sex matter to make hundreds of thousands of dollars on a real estate deal involving riverfront land down by the east end of the Sellwood Bridge.

If you really want some dirt, though (and David Reinhard, I know you don't, so don't go there), head over to one of The Oregonian's chat areas ("Oregon Forum"), where a person calling herself "lolady" is talking quite freely about what she says she knew. Check her out in posts 6017.2, 6013., 6023.3, and 6043.4. (Enter "lolady" in the search box and you should get all four posts conveniently grouped together.) A Courtney Love connection, no less!

She also must have said something good in post 6053, but The O deleted that one before we could read it.

UPDATE, 5/16, 4:32 p.m.: Today's Oregonian lets the go-between (who denies that's what he was) tell his side of the story. According to this article, the land use help that Goldschmidt sought for his crony didn't come through.

Mount Tabor panel votes 9-4 not to bury reservoirs

Read the OPB news story here. (Photo courtesy Illusionaire.)

Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Announcing the Law Prof Hunk / Babe of the Year Contest

Inspired by Law TV's current contest to name the top 100 most influential law professors in the country, Jack Bog's Blog is proud to focus on what really matters to today's law students: the hunkitude/babe-itude of the people they have to sit in front of for 14 weeks at a time.

And so we hereby announce the first-ever Law Prof Hunk/Babe of the Year Contest. Our goal: to find the best-looking law professor in this great land of ours. Forget their socratic manner. Forget their publications. We're talking hella hunkalicious or hella babe-a-licious, period.

Nominations are now being accepted at jackbogsblog@comcast.net. And here are the rules:

Full-time and part-time professors are eligible.

Only law students (full-time or part-time), law professors (including adjunct professors), and law school administrators from U.S. law schools may nominate.

You may nominate up to six law professors -- up to three from your own law school and up to three from other law schools.

Nominations must be in the following form:

1. The subject line of your e-mail must read:

Hunk/Babe Law Prof Nominations (followed by the name of your law school).

For instance:

Hunk/Babe Law Prof Nominations - Cincinnati


Hunk/Babe Law Prof Nominations - NYU

2. The body of your e-mail must contain your name, your law school status,
and your nominations in the following form:

Nominator: Antonin Hand
Rutgers-Newark third-year law student


Pete Karren -- Rutgers-Newark
Mike McMann -- Rutgers-Newark
Henrietta Rodham -- Rutgers-Newark adjunct

Roberta Phlacque -- Seton Hall
Ruth Bator Bradford -- Harvard
Herbert Gratts -- Texas

The order in which you list the nominees has no consequence.

3. Your e-mail must be sent to jackbogsblog@comcast.net

4. Please attach a photo of the nominee if possible.

You may vote only once. Nominations, once made, are irrevocable.

Professors may nominate themselves.

Nominations will be announced the week of May 24. Let's hear it from all you law profs, students and administrators out there!

UPDATE, 5/11, 2:03 p.m.: By popular demand, law school alumni may also nominate!

UPDATE, 5/17, 11:41 p.m.: Here's a list of schools whose profs have been nominated so far.

UPDATE, 5/26, 12:49 p.m.: The nominees in the Hunk Division are posted here.

Everybody's sorry

How bad is the Neil Goldschmidt statutory rape scandal?

Four words: Even Phil Stanford's apologizing.

I'm the man

Wow, I've made it to the top of another Google search result. What an honor.

No shirt, no shoes, no problem

We've been getting a lot of traffic here from people who want to see a tax professor with his shirt off. It started when I put up this post, which shows me frolicking topless at the beach.

I wish you would just love me for my mind, but if you want to see more photos from my "swimsuit issue," here's one, and here's another.

Don't laugh. Remember, I'm 50 years old.

Monday, May 10, 2004

And another thing...

The messages coming from the Portland Police Bureau get more and more alarming. Over the last month, we've heard the following pretty loud and clear:

1. If you are driving a nice car in a poor (read: African-American) neighborhood, you will be stopped on any pretext.

2. If the officers stopping you think you have a gun and might use it -- regardless of whether that belief is reasonable -- they will shoot and kill you rather than retreat or get help.

That's a lot to swallow, but in today's paper, a letter to the editor from a Portland detective adds the following:

3. Any news organization that questions police officers' use of deadly force is "disgraceful."

4. Even an editorial that urges people to give the police the benefit of the doubt is "cowardice" if it is not issued immediately after the shooting.

This is "community policing"? Maybe in Mississippi circa 1957.

The hits just keep on comin'

Another Portland blogger has made the scene, and done so with a splash. It's pdx reporter, who's got up an interesting post about the strange outcome of a lawsuit against the Portland police for excessive force. Check him out (although he's seeking anonymity, I can tell you that it's a he).

Sunday, May 9, 2004

Shock the monkey

An interesting flyer showed up on our doorstep today. The folks who are trying to stop animal experimentation at the "primate center" of Oregon Health and Science University ("The Tram we am") are urging people not to go to OHSU for health care if they can help it. They also urge us to tell the president of OHSU why we're boycotting.

Moreover, these activists suggest that people withhold support from the March of Dimes, which funds some of the primate center's operations.

That sounds a bit extreme. But it looks to me like the situation calls for some light and fresh air. Head over here and here, and start deciding for yourself.

A Proclamation

It's the principal of the thing

Got some nice glossy pictures of the local politicians in the mail this week. Randy Leonard's looking positively GQ, although I prefer his RL and Shaft looks.

Then there's Sam Adams, talking about all the jobs he brought to town while he was working for... gee, it doesn't say. (Also, no mention of the many jobs that left town during his tenure as mysterious miracle worker.)

One of Sam's endorsers is a fifth grade teacher whose job Sam saved, single-handedly apparently. After the photo op, she might have explained to him the difference between "principal" and "principle," which is blown in the lead paragraph of the mailing.

Then there's the million-dollar schnozzola, which I'm already tired of looking at. It's especially tough these days to click on The Oregonian's lame website, which has a large and obtrusive ad featuring this proboscis on seemingly every page. You often get two lines of the story you want to read, and then must scroll down through a full screen's worth of this guy.

From the looks of things, he'll be in a runoff with Potter (or maybe even Posey!), and he's got major six figures in the bank, so keep the nose hair clippers out for a long summer.

Saturday, May 8, 2004

Statutory rape? No biggie.

Some people just don't get it. I can't believe my eyes when I read this kind of stuff in the paper:

The Parks Blocks project, which took shape four years ago, marked Goldschmidt's re-emergence from a decade of largely private work. He joined developer Tom Moyer to try to link downtown's north and south Parks Blocks and serves on a foundation to raise money for the ambitious effort.

Park Blocks Foundation president Jim Westwood said Friday he had not spoken with Goldschmidt about his future on the board, but hoped Goldschmidt would stay on despite his personal turmoil.

"He has tremendous institutional memory," Westwood said. "He has a passion for this city. None of that has changed."

And then there's Gov. Ted, who's acting like he doesn't know what he would do without Neil directing his every move.

Ted, maybe you ought to step down too. Maybe it really is time for a clean sweep of Oregon government, at all levels. Get rid of all the Goldschmidt lieutenants, of which there are dozens.

If you can't tell the difference between a leader and a rapist, you belong in the Mafia, not in government. And stay away from my kids.

UPDATE, 5/9, 1:10 a.m.: Our fearless county DA, who is charged with enforcing the rape laws and in whose jurisdiction Mr. Goldschmidt committed his felonies, is pretty casual about this, too:

Michael Schrunk, a longtime friend and Multnomah County district attorney, said Goldschmidt's political accomplishments will endure, and outrage over the affair will fade with time.

"I think he still has something to offer," Schrunk said.

It's really unbelievable. Yes, let's keep him as a prominent figure in our public life. How about grand marshal of the Rose Festival Parade? Just not the Junior Division, eh?

UPDATE, 3:08 a.m.: And of course, this gentleman rarely misses an opportunity to prove himself even more of an idiot than the people he works for -- which is a sort of wayward accomplishment.


Today's quiz: Who gave the lamest apology?

A. George W. Bush.

B. Neil Goldschmidt.

C. Diane Linn.

D. Donald Rumsfeld.

E. The Irish nuns.

Friday, May 7, 2004

Vocabulary check

A 35-year-old mayor repeatedly screwing a 14-year-old babysitter is not an "affair."

A monopoly newspaper with old-boy-network ties calling it that is not "journalism."

Hold still, for Pete's sake!

Nick Fish's TV ads employ the "jittery camera" technique. Nick, that's so early '90s! This ain't NYPD Blue, and you ain't Jimmy Smits.

Words of wisdom

My friend and state Rep. Greg Macpherson sends along these views:

This month we vote in a primary election, the first of a two-stage process for selecting our elected officials. The Democrats and Republicans each will decide who to nominate for partisan positions.

As the Representative for Oregon House District 38, which includes Lake Oswego, my name is on the primary ballot. But because no one else from either party filed for my position, I have a break from the hard work of campaigning.

This break allows me time to reflect on what is happening in our partisan politics.

Political parties serve a useful purpose. Each stands for a broad set of principles. The party label helps voters decide which candidate to support without having to study all the candidates’ individual positions.

In a healthy two-party democracy there is significant overlap in the positions taken by the parties. If one of the parties becomes too extreme, it will lose moderate voters to the other party. This process tends to produce leaders who fall somewhere toward the middle of the political spectrum.

But this function appears to be breaking down in Oregon and elsewhere in the country. Rather than moderating the debate on public issues, our two-party system now divides us on many issues.

In the Oregon Legislature, partisanship has emerged as a much more significant force than a generation ago. For example, when my father served as an Oregon State Senator in the early 1970’s separate caucus meetings of Republicans and of Democrats were rare.

When I served in the 2003 session I found Republicans and Democrats splitting up for caucus meetings almost daily. On days when bills with a partisan slant were coming to a vote we sometimes would leave the floor several times during the proceedings to caucus separately over strategy.

The situation is even worse in the U.S. Congress. Rancor and suspicion now pervade much of the process.

We need to moderate the tone of political debate. I have tried to do this in my service in the Oregon House. One method is to seek allies in the other party on issues that will not break on a pure party line.

Another is to use care in the choice of language in public debate. Even if one suspects the motives of a legislator on the other side of an issue, it is rarely appropriate to express those suspicions in public.

Although the 2003 legislative session saw plenty of partisanship, it also saw some hopeful signs. The most important achievements of the session were passed with a coalition that included moderates from both parties.

Whether this reemergence of bipartisanship continues in the 2005 legislative session depends, in part, on the outcome of primary elections this month. Thoughtful moderate Republicans, like Vic Backlund of Keizer and Susan Morgan of Myrtle Creek, face challenges from more extreme candidates of their own party. Oregonians all across the state should hope that these challenges fail.

I would like to hear from local residents, regardless of party affiliation. I can be reached by regular mail at 322 Second Street, Lake Oswego, OR 97034 or by e-mail at rep.gregmacpherson@state.or.us.

Breaking sports news

The Portland Trail Blazers announced today that they have hired former Oregon Gov. Neil Goldschmidt as their chief political strategist.

"We know he has some character issues," said Paul Allen, the team's owner, at a hastily called press conference at the NBA team's bankrupt Rose Garden arena. "But we've admired his enormous talent for quite some time. And he's promised to change the way he deals with his off-court problems.

"We think he'll fit right in with our system."

Allen is often listed as one of the clients of Goldschmidt's highly lucrative consulting business.

Best thing that happened to me yesterday

A pygmy goat in the petting corral at the Oregon Zoo tried to eat a pocket flap on my cargo pants.

Thursday, May 6, 2004

Humpty Dumpty

The Neil Goldschmidt story has taken the weirdest turn yet. Now Willamette Week has broken the "news" (whispered about for years) that Neil had a little thing going with a 14-year-old back when he was mayor.

And all of a sudden he's decided that for reasons of health and the ever-popular "spending more time with the family," he can't run the State Board of Higher Education, and he can't lead the takeover of PGE.

How bizarre, and how sad.

UPDATE, 11:00 p.m.: He's admitted it.

Wednesday, May 5, 2004

Hatred is not a community value

I hope that when they catch the idiots who did this, they really, really throw the book at them.

The sorriest commissioner

KPAM's reporting (but not on its website, apparently) that Multnomah County Chair Diane Linn has called a press conference for tomorrow, where she's going to apologize for the galling lack of public process in the county's short-lived legalization of gay marriage earlier this year.

I guess she's not such a courageous champion of civil rights after all.

Diane, what about your constitutional conscience, which supposedly required you to sneak around and start issuing the marriage licenses without any public discussion?

Funny how a recall campaign can slap some sense into a politician.

By the beautiful sea

The family and I had a nice little four-day weekend over in Manzanita, Oregon last weekend. It's our favorite Northwest beach location, and it didn't disappoint. Not by a longshot.

The weather was great all four days, ranging from crystal clear to mostly sunny. There was a chilly west wind when we arrived on Thursday afternoon, but Friday was practically calm -- a rarity at the Oregon beach, especially when the sun is out -- and Saturday and Sunday saw only friendly southerly breezes, not the northerly bluster that will arrive along with the summer. I got a little sunburn, which for April/May at the Oregon coast is pretty special. I wear it proudly.

Sometime in the past few weeks, the tide in that part of the world must have been frighteningly high, because there was packed damp sand nearly all the way to the ocean road. For our stay, though, there was a wide expanse of beach, with tides that left long stretches of water only a few inches to a couple of feet deep. Not only was this perfect wading depth, but the constant sun actually warmed the shallow water to the point at which you could stay in it up to your calves for a long stretch.

This in turn allowed my three-year-old buddy and me to explore the wonders of the waves. It seems that even at my age, I'm always learning something new at the beach. This time around, I observed a couple of critters that I didn't expect to see in the shallows.

First off, there were literally millions of tiny, nearly transparent fish swimming in and out in the shallowest parts of the waves. These guys weren't as long as your forefinger, and skinny as a toothpick, but they were legion. We captured a couple in a plastic beach pail and watched them flit around before returning them to their kin. We decided that they were too small to make a sandwich.

Then there were the sand crabs. At least, I think that's what they were -- roundish critters about the size of a grape that floated along on the waves in about an inch or two of water. In they'd glide on the wave, and when the water rushed back out, they'd glide back out, too. But just before the wave outraced them and left them high and dry, they'd dive into the sand, to hide from whoever is out to get them -- gulls, I guess. An amazing act to catch -- maybe two or three at a time in your field of vision every few minutes, when the water depth was just right.

We headed up to Hug Point for some tidepool action, but the most amazing site there were the sand dollars. There were quite a few big, round ones, fully intact, sitting in the sand on the water's edge. We've been known to collect their shells, and I picked up a really big, beautiful specimen with the intent to take it home. But when I turned it over to inspect its underside, I found its little tongue-like "foot" sticking out of the hole in the center of the shell. After a second or two, the foot moved! And slowly withdrew into the shell.

At that point, I couldn't end its life just to have it displayed in my bathroom, and so I put it back where I found it. Somebody else probably came along and snagged it right behind me, but I wasn't going to be the one.

In town, the main street of Manzanita, Laneda Avenue, was in the process of being re-done, with wide, modern sidewalks already installed to replace the old narrow collection of walkways. For the vehicles, a newly graded street was covered in fresh gravel and getting ready for paving this week. Part of me was sad to see the charm of the older, funkier walks disappear, but I suspect the goal is greater pedestrian safety, which you can't help but applaud.

I hope it works. With the street so cleaned up, there might be a temptation for drivers to go even faster than before on Laneda. I hope people behave behind the wheel before somebody in City Hall decides that the dreaded speed bumps are needed.

As I've mentioned here before, one of the great things about Manzanita is how little is really going on. Particularly now, when my life is centered around home and hearth, that's a real gift. After an hour or two of digging in the sand and splashing in the surf, you head back to the beach house, maybe get a nice glass of wine going, help the kids wth their pretend play, fix a little supper or order in a good pizza from Marzano's up the street, and screw around with a jigsaw puzzle for a while. Catch up on some reading before crashing to the sound of the Pacific breakers just a few hundred yards away. Nothing's better.

One final note: Back in February 2003, an otherwise fine Manzanita trip was darkened somewhat by our discovery of zillions of tiny shards of blue plastic washed up on the beach. I speculated that it would be impossible for human hands to clean it up. But I underestimated the cleansing power of nature. Here, 14 months later, there was no blue plastic to be seen.

Thank the Lord.

Tuesday, May 4, 2004

The benefits have run out

Portland residents concerned about the recent police killing of an unarmed man 24 seconds into a pretext traffic stop: You can relax now. The editorial board of The Oregonian newspaper has declared the crisis over. Based on its viewing of the evidence of the public inquest, The O has decided that the officer who killed the man should be given "the benefit of the doubt."

From the tone of the Oregonian editorial, you would think the cop had damaged a squad car, rather than taking somebody's life: We all make mistakes. That's why they put erasers on pencils.

You know, I gave the Portland police the benefit of the doubt when they killed Kendra James. And when they killed Jose Mejia Poot. And when they maced and knocked the glass eye out of a boisterous 70-year-old blind woman a while back.

But you know what? I have run out of benefits for my doubts.

I'm also sickened by the O's spin on the events. They'll repeat their nice little story over and over now. The man was killed because he didn't follow police instructions. And he probably didn't follow instructions because he was too high on cocaine at the time.

Yeah, right. He was shot because he didn't take his hand out of his pocket. Or maybe it was when he started taking his hand out of his pocket. The police have told the story both ways in a very short time. And if he was wacked out of his mind on cocaine, how did he have the presence of mind to start swallowing bags of the stuff to try to conceal it?

Chief Foxworth has issued his own spin over the last few days: People are mad about the pretext stop. People are mad about the racial profiling.

Chief, you're right, but you're also missing an important point: People are mad about the overall meanness -- indeed, trigger happiness -- of your force. If they're as scared to do their jobs as these officers said they were, they're not fit to be carrying the Glocks.


Until I became a homeowner, I had never had any experience with rats. That is, the actual rodents, as opposed to their human imitators, of whom I've always known a few. You would think from what you hear that, growing up in the New York City metropolitan area, I would have met up with rats back there. But no, it wasn't until I had my own slice of heaven here in squeaky-clean Portland, Oregon that I had my first close encounter of the rat kind.

When my wife and I bought our first house together, in the Buckman neighborhood, we continued a tradition of the gay couple we bought the house from -- we dutifully filled up the bird feeder on a regular basis. The birds and the neighborhood squirrels (who ran along a fence to get at the grub) shared our bounty, and it was an idyllic scene. After a while, though, we noticed a few holes in the ground under the feeder, which we thought were "moles" (there's the Jersey City genius coming out of me, I'll tell you). It wasn't until an alert friend from Cascade Locks clued us in that we realized that we had a rat problem, and that they were feeding on the seeds that the squirrels were knocking out of the feeder onto the ground.

Our solution? Withdraw the food source. The rats were after the seeds, and so, sorry, birds and squirrels, no more seeds. The birds and squirrels left. The rats didn't. Unbeknownst to us, there was quite a group of them, with an extensive network of tunnels around the perimeter of the house, and when they didn't find food outside, they simply made their way in. We noticed that our uncovered trash bin under the sink was being disturbed, with garbage thrown about the surrounding cabinet.

And then one evening, we returned home to find a rat chomping away on a pizza crust, right in the middle of the kitchen floor. The Mrs. screamed. I swore. Rats! In our house! That we worked so hard for! Etc. My wailings were Oscar-caliber.

Panicked, I picked up the yellow pages. Bad, bad move! Repeat after me: Do not hire contractors based on yellow pages ads. And the more frantic you are, the worse a choice you are likely to make from that source. Don't do it!

We picked out an exterminator who advertised 24-hour service. He promised to send someone out the next day (I guess that was within 24 hours). When the man arrived (a young guy who didn't look like an exterminator to me), we let him into the crawl space under the kitchen, where he suspected the critters were coming in. He was right. The little buggers had been nesting in the pink insulation under the kitchen floor, and there were tunnels and holes all over the dirt in the crawl space.

Oh, and there was a smell. A really powerful stench. Suddenly the saying "I smell a rat" had a whole new meaning.

The exterminator sprinkled some magic rat killing poison dust around, took a big check from us, and left.

The rats didn't. More disturbed garbage showed up. And so we called the exterminator back. This time, the guy answering the phone (not the one who came out) refused to send any help until his powder had more time to work. Then he stopped returning our calls. Finally, we got so mad we called the Better Business Bureau and the state consumer complaint line, where we found out that our yellow page find was a scam artist, recently arrived from Africa, with a complaint sheet already as long as your arm. We kissed that money goodbye, and found another exterminator.

Meanwhile, we got two cats. They were just kittens, though, and the rats probably would have kicked their kitty butts in a fight. The best solution was our decision to clean up and renovate the crawl space, improving the support under it, removing some siding that had rotted away, collapsing the many rat tunnels, and redoing the insulation in which our unwanted visitors had been lodging. Taken together, all of our combative measures appeared to have done the trick, although one of our cats lingered watchfully in front of a small hole at the base of the foundation in the basement for many, many months thereafter.

When we moved to our current house, in Northeast Portland, our rodent episode became a fond memory. In the last year or two, however, we did notice a couple of suspicious-looking holes along the parking strip in front of our next-door neighbors' home. And when our cat assumed his perch next to the larger of those holes, where he would sit for what seemed like an eternity, we knew there were rodents in there. There's another spot out back of our house where some gaps in the stone wall make a nice home for some mice. The cats will sit and stare at that one for hours on end as well.

Continue reading "Rats!" »

Monday, May 3, 2004

Get out your markers

Here's a game that Portlanders will enjoy. See a hipster, cover a square. For a quicker game, head over to Hawthorne Boulevard. You can play a good "blackout" round over there in less than an hour.

Show me the money

I've been away for a few days, so readers, help me out: Has anyone yet seen the official tally on how much the Multnomah County income tax brought in? It was supposed to be $127 million, with $7 million in collection expenses.

I've seen county estimates that 80 percent of those expected to file, did file by April 15. I don't know whether to trust that number or not -- I'm sure the estimated number of returns could have gotten adjusted here and there to reflect reality.

But it's impossible to fudge the $127 million number, which County Chair Diane Linn mailed to every household in the county last year. How much of that actually showed up?

And if the number hasn't been published yet, why are our local media letting the county off the hook about it?

Fighting back

I've been bombarded the last few days by comment spam from some jerk who's giving e-mail addresses from "sexmuch.com." This genius has figured out how to spoof IP addresses, but I believe I've tracked down a way to get rid of him or her other than IP banning. I've installed the MT Blacklist software, which was easy to do compared to getting started with MT. Here's hoping that chases that noisy vermin for good.

Sunday, May 2, 2004

Extreme hazard alert

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