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

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Sunday, April 30, 2006

The 411 on getting to second base

Here's a Google search that led to this blog. Alas, the searcher found no answer to the query here.

But I'll bet some of you have suggestions...

It's the same old songs

As a card-carrying boomer, I've been enjoying the classic Motown singles for 40 years or more now. There's something about the music of your adolescent days that sticks with you forever -- at least it does for me -- and I count myself extremely lucky to have the Motown sounds among the ones I still carry around with me, with the Beatles, the Stones, the Beach Boys, and their contemporaries. Want to hear me sing Edwin Starr's "25 Miles"? I didn't think so -- but I could.

Having had decades to collect the entire Motown catalog, I now have at my fingertips (everybody say yeah) nearly every single that company produced during its heyday, and there are times when a browse through those songs really brings me back to life. Just the first few bars of so many of those numbers can turn my head around.

One downside of playing the tunes over and over is that the recordings can become fossilized. When you know the song and the singers' interpretation so well that you could repeat it in your sleep, sometimes you don't completely listen to it any more. You hear it, it evokes memories, it stirs the soul, but the mind no longer fully processes the sounds of real human voices or real instruments.

Fortunately for me, the last few years have provided a number of wonderful opportunities to listen to the old voices with new ears. The first was the movie about the Funk Brothers -- the Motown house band. It was called "Standing in the Shadows of Motown," and I blogged about it here. If you are a Motown fan and you have not seen this, you must drop what you are doing and get on the trail of the DVD. After viewing it, you will never listen to your Motown collection the same way again (particularly the bass lines).

Another nice treat these days is the fact that whoever has control of the master tapes of the Motown singles has begun to let outsiders remix them. There's a Four Tops box set out there now called "Fourever" that's got a number of remixed versions of the great songs by that group. For example, on "Reach Out (I'll Be There)," the reverb has been eliminated from the lead vocal, and you can hear the drummer -- Pistol, maybe -- count off the start. Levi Stubbs's voice sounds even more raw than in the original, and you're transported to a real recording studio, rather than the ghostly Phil Spector-esque hall that the classic version seems to emanate from.

Now, that's not to say the new mix is better than the old. But it's just different enough from the familiar. For a second you feel a slight wave of novelty -- as when this record first thumped out of the bass-heavy radio in dad's old car, or squeaked out of that tinny two-transistor radio, made in Japan.

This week I came across yet another box set which does much the same thing with classic songs by many of the other Motown artists. It's caled "The Motown Box," and it contains, among other things, quite a few extended and remixed versions of the classic singles. If you're a Motown fanatic, several of the features of this collection fill in missing audio information from those legendary sessions in Berry Gordy's "snake pit." The tracks don't fade out as quickly as the originals do, and you can second-guess the decisions that were made about how songs should end. A few sneaky edits are removed. And many of the inputs are mixed differently, with nice results. In some of the Temptations' numbers, for example, the new box turns up the mikes on the background singers and the Funk Brothers, so that they're not drowned out by the lead singer. You hear instruments and voices that were somewhere in the original performances, but given such little volume in the original mixes that even top-notch audio equipment could never have brought them out of your stereo.

With many of these singles, the groove is so strong that you've always been sorry to hear it end. And so anybody who can tack another five or 10 seconds of the real thing onto it -- and bring the Funk Brothers' and background singers' contributions into clearer focus -- is aces in my book.

Here's the best part: If you live here in Multnomah County, you needn't shell out 60 or 80 bucks to hear these box sets. Our county library has them in its collecton, and you can have them all to yourself for three weeks if you're willing to put your name on a list and wait for them. I knock local government all the time on this blog, but you won't catch me bashing the library. That's where I go to get my Marvin Gaye.

My night as a rapper

I got metaphors that you ain't ready for. (Wardrobe by Nolee and Charlie.)

Saturday, April 29, 2006

It's bigger than all of us

An impossibly busy schedule (including an upcoming appearance at Candidates Gone Wild this Monday evening) has combined with other considerations to cause the Complete Internal Revenue Code Podcast Project to go on hiatus.

However, this important project continues to inspire others, even in its dormant state, and now our moving reading of one of the early tax code sections has been put to music, with spectacular results. As Neil Young says, there's no holding this back -- let's get it out there on the internet to the whole world right away. Go here for the mp3 file, and be transformed. As always, it's free. (Courtesy Tom Ono.)

Your "kicker" from the City of Portland

Yesterday the mailman brought us a much-deserved rebate of some of the property taxes and astronomical water and sewer bills that we pay to the City of Portland.

Unfortunately, it took this form:

Wonderful use of taxpayer and ratepayer dollars. It did have some laugh value on the inside, though:

Now that's taking the high road.

Not to mention all the Photoshop fodder we'll have for the November runoff:

I love the sound of that: "November runoff."

It's funny. Now that I'm registered as an independent, this junk mail came addressed only to my wife, who's still registered as a Democrat. I guess all that "nonpartisan election" malarkey only goes so far.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Portland City Hall: Better than Detroit or New Orleans

The urban planning gurus at Portland State University have announced a new standard for excellence in local government:

"If you want to make out city government as dysfunctional, you make out the city as dysfunctional. Is that right? I don't think so," says [PSU planning professor Ethan] Seltzer, a longtime observer of city government and a former Planning Commission member. "This ain't Detroit. It ain't New Orleans. . . ."
And to illustrate this new standard in action...

Worse than a payday loan

It's allergy time in Portland, and something is really starting to irritate our nose for financial trouble. Now the city is issuing 25-year bonds and using some of the proceeds to pay operating expenses:

About $3.75 million will go into what bureau managers are calling "strategic investments," including adding a maintenance crew to handle sewer line breaks, treating contaminated sediment in the Columbia Slough and increasing the amount of biosolids -- otherwise known as sludge -- Portland treats.

Bureau leaders will use another $3.75 million to slow the rate of increase of city sewer bills, among the highest in the nation. The bureau had estimated a 6.1 percent increase in the fiscal year that starts July 1. The additional cash will keep that to 5.6 percent.

Borrowing to pay for maintenance crews? Uh oh. It's like taking out a second mortgage while you're putting an addition on your house, and using some of the proceeds to pay for groceries. Eventually that sort of thing catches up to you.

City Commissioner Sam Adams and Marriott say they're trying to strike a balance between taking care of the immediate pain of higher bills and the long-term risk if the city doesn't put more money into maintenance.
Borrowing money for maintenance. "Long-term risk." You'll be hearing that kind of talk a lot from here on out, as we build trams, transit mall light rail, and more streetcars to nowhere, and hand out more millions to the Homer Williams types. It's a sure sign that the house of cards is shaky. Not to mention the whole "pay-as-you-go-(under)" police and fire pension deal.

Then, of course, there's the rim shot to cap it all off:

Utility customers, for example, contributed $284,000 this year of the estimated $1.3 million for public financing of City Council campaigns.
Funny. Sad.

Di's day

With all the flap going on about Multnomah County Chair Diane Linn's calendar and schedule, it might be worth re-reading this March 2004 profile from the Trib about a day in her life.

I blogged about it here, and a fellow by the name of Dave Lister wrote in:

Two things struck me about the Diane Linn profile. First off, I wondered how she was able to take time out of her busy schedule to tend to any county business at all. Secondly, not once during that busy day did she interact with any business people or concern herself with any matters of commerce.

Still grouchy, but funnier than I remembered

Leave it to the blogosphere to provide a laugh when it's most needed. I was messing around last night after a tough day, and I decided to pay a visit to a site I used to link to, Grouchy Old Cripple in Atlanta. After the Bush-Kerry debacle, I removed Denny from my blogroll, because I decided the tighty righties didn't need my help getting their misguided word out.

But lately the G.O.C. is runnning some truly funny cartoons (mostly about gas prices) and jokes. Like this, for example, on Easter. I had to laugh. Just be careful what you click on over there, because a few of his links are to not-work-safe, horrible photos of women with their bare breasts showing.

But if you are not offended by male chauvinism and extreme political incorrectness, and if you need some yuks, go.

In the O Zone

There it was on the O editorial page yesterday -- the Old Boy Network's dream slate of officeholders. Big goofy pictures and all. Makes you wonder if Neil Goldschmidt himself wasn't sending this one in from Dundee in a "rare, emotional" fax.

Kulongoski vs. Saxton -- a West Hills dream come true. You want more trams, scams, OLCC shenanigans, out-of-control Lottery, SAIF corruption, OHSU manure, Port of Porkland, Matt Hennessees, Bernie Giustos, and Don Mazziottis? Either Ted or Ron will bring you all that and more.

Burdick and Saltzman -- straight out of Homer Williams's back pocket. Sure to satisfy the linchpin-heads, as it were.

And there are the new kids, Wheeler and Cogen. They've got that Arlington Club musk on them, too.

Oh, and in case you missed it, they're all "for the children."

I have well-meaning, smart friends who are voting for some of these candidates, but I just can't.

Then over in the sort-of-news magazine, the O's quasi-objective City Hall reporter column pretty much decides for us that "clean money" is not in trouble, just needs tweaking. Nobody's really complaining much, except some nut cases on blogs, so really, she guesses, it's here to stay.

Sure. Unless and until it's ever voted on, when it will be beaten down like a sales tax in John Day.

That's The O -- one odd perspective after another. Like their lead in the big front-page story:

Oregon Supreme Court Justice R. William Riggs announced Wednesday that he will resign before the end of the year, a move that probably will end its all-male lineup.
Huh? No mention of the fact that we may very well have a woman justice less than three weeks from now.

Unlike the venomous bloggers, however, the O does have those Pulitzers.

More "clean money" for Opie

Oops, that naughty, naughty Ginny Burdick has spent more than $150,000 of private donations on her Portland City Council primary campaign! That means, yes, you guessed it, incumbent Erik Sten gets another $1,387.57 in city tax dollars to spend on his campaign. And for every additional five grand Burdick spends, she's got to report it, and Opie gets to go to the tax trough for another slurp.

Isn't the new public campaign financing "system" working great? Really "levels the playing field," doesn't it? It brings all kinds of new people into politics, and now no one has an advantage.

I'm so glad we didn't get to vote on it.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Not too swift

Multnomah County Chair Diane Linn really can't do anything right -- anything.

First she allegedly has her staff doctor up her appointments calendar before releasing it to the public, to make her look busy. Then when she's busted for it, today she mouths off in The O to the effect that any action against her by the county d.a. must be politically motivated because assistant d.a. John Bradley supports her opponent in her upcoming primary.

Slight problem: wrong John Bradley.

Now the main d.a,., Mike Schrunk, is turning the matter over to the state Department of Justice for investigation.

Would a Linn perp walk not be the best local TV Portland has produced since Tonya Harding? Bernie himself could put her in her cell and turn the key. (Just not at Wapato, of course.)

It takes two

Now that we've all learned how to put the [rim shot] in after every mention of the OHSU Medical Group aerial tram [rim shot], it's time to get to work implementing another important style suggestion made by a regular reader here. That is, whenever the word "linchpin" is used to describe the latest Portland development swindle, replace it with "UNDERPANTS" (and I'm thinking all upper case).

So far, it's not quite fitting. Here's a quotation from this morning's OHSU Apology Journal (a.k.a. The Oregonian):

The tram, a $15.5 million linchpin in the $2 billion redevelopment of South Waterfront, has tripled in price and spun into an election-season nightmare for Saltzman.
You can't just stick "UNDERPANTS" in there, people. Too clumsy:
The tram, a $15.5 million UNDERPANTS in the $2 billion redevelopment of South Waterfront, has tripled in price and spun into an election-season nightmare for Saltzman.
I'm going to offer a friendly amendment to the reader's suggestion and change the insertion to "PAIR OF UNDERPANTS." Thus:
The tram, a $15.5 million PAIR OF UNDERPANTS in the $2 billion redevelopment of South Waterfront, has tripled in price and spun into an election-season nightmare for Saltzman.
There. Better?

Maybe not. Thoughts?

Musical interlude

Well, here's another clue for you all...

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

City demands blood from stone by July 3

The Stennies are all abuzz with the news that the city has come out with a couple of additional charges against Emilie Boyles in the Portland "clean money" taxpayer campaign finance scandal. "Bad, bad Emilie, we're coming down hard on you now, but thank you for showing us how we need to 'tweak' this wonderful system," yada yada yada. Even Nigel Jaquiss is bleating along with the "progressive" sheep on this one.

Notice that there's still no charge related to the apparently phony signatures that she turned in. I guess that part of the system's fine, huh?

The funniest aspect of the latest demand letter from City Hall is that the city gives Boyles until July 3 to pay back the $145,000 in "clean money," plus thousands more in penalties and interest. As if! In the meantime, she can spend whatever of the taxpayers' money she's got left on trailer rent, lawyers, Doritos, laptops, and cell phone minutes.

I'm starting a pool. How much will the city actually recover from Boyles? Closest guess gets a free lunch, on me, anywhere south of East Burnside and east of 82nd. My guess: Zero.

Busy work

Here's a wild one in today's Willamette Week -- a former aide to Multnomah County chair Diane Linn says Linn had her fake entries in Linn's appointment calendar before turning it over to a reporter who had made a public records request. According to the aide, the changes were both additions and deletions, but all were designed to make Linn look busier with official business than the real calendar showed:

Bridges recalled taking out references to phone calls between Linn and her former chief of staff, John Rakowitz, a longtime Linn boyfriend who had gone to work for the Portland Business Alliance; some notes pertaining to discussions of Wapato Jail; and indications Linn had taken several days off for vacation.

Bridges says most troubling was that she was asked to make Linn's work schedule look more robust. Bridges says she added meetings that never took place, some scheduled earlier in the morning than Linn typically arrived, and added a boilerplate notation to make it look like Linn was returning calls and emails and available in her office on Friday afternoons when, according to Bridges, she was often gone.

Ace funny guy Bill McDonald is already all over this one over at Portland Freelancer, but that's no reason for us not to get into the act. How about it, readers? Use the comment space for:

Top 10 Other Diane Linn Calendar Changes

Start with no. 10 and work down to no. 1.

Quotation of the Month

From Snethen:

GWB has no more interest in finding any sort of shenanigans with the oil companies than I do in finding out how many calories are in the Mandarin Chicken at Safeway.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Dagoba Chocolate recall: lead test results

A while back I discovered that one of my favorite sweet snacks, Dagoba Organic Chocolate Eclipse 87% bars, had been recalled for unsafe lead content. The company was stonewalling completely on the results of the tests it had performed on this product, and I had a half-eaten bar of it, still in the wrapper, sitting on top of my refrigerator. And so I took it in to a food testing lab here in Northeast Portland to have it checked out.

The results came back today, and they are truly alarming. The bar I had contained 4.5 milligrams of lead per kilogram. That's 4.5 parts per million. That's nine times the regulatory action limit on lead currently imposed by the federal Food and Drug Adminstration for candy likely to be consumed by children (0.5 ppm), and 45 times the most recent proposed standard for such candy (0.1 ppm).

No wonder Dagoba's not showing whatever test results it has. And you have to wonder how these products legally got to market when they're that badly contaminated.

If you ate Dagoba Chocolate Eclipse bars over the last six months, you really do need to have a blood test for lead. If you need additional anecdotal evidence, read this.

Then there's the question of whether Dagoba is going to pay for your blood test (and whatever else may ensue from the results). I called the company on April 5 and asked that question of a person named Jessica. She told me to call Jeff Wilson, Dagoba's liability insurance representative at an outfit called Ashland Insurance. I did so on April 10. On that date Mr. Wilson took my name, address and phone number and promised that someone from Dagoba would call me back with an answer.

I'm still waiting.

An interesting side story to the lead contamination is the hate mail I have received for speaking up on this issue. One outraged organic foodie even foolishly thought he could get somewhere by complaining to my employer, who has nothing to do with this blog or this issue, about my comments.

It's truly bizarre. I was sold contaminated food, and I'm in the wrong to say anything about it because it was a small, lefty Oregon company? I call major b.s. on that.

Hail to the chief

The county races

The primary ballots will be here any day now. Time to figure out whom I'm voting for in the Multnomah County races.

County Chair: Whatever you thought of incumbent Diane Linn's whole gay marriage thing, the subsequent degeneration of the county commission into a junior high school screechfest is grounds for dismissal. I don't care if she emancipated the slaves, she is so gone in my book. But Ted Wheeler doesn't exactly thrill me, either. He's buying the election, and with his gobs and gobs of timber money and treks to the North Pole, his "regular guy" schtick is mighty thin. He reminds me of the time when Packwood was passing himself off as Jewish. I'm kind of leaning toward the Fred Meyer produce guy, Terrence R. Smyth.

District No. 2: Everybody and his brother is urging a vote for Jeff Cogen, but his associations leave me cold. He's the brains behind Dan Saltzman? Endorsed by Vera Katz and Bev Stein? You're losing me, people. Xander Patterson's just way too out to the left for me, and so that leaves Lew Frederick and Gary Hansen. Hansen's a state legislator (strike 1) and endorsed by Sam Adams (strike 2), but he's got Randy Leonard and a couple of neighborhood activist types in his column. Frederick's a Ph.D. candidate in the Portland State urban affairs program (strike 1) and endorsed by Serena Cruz Walsh, whose seat he's running for (strike 2), but he's backed by Bud Clark, Avel Gordly, Joel Shapiro, and the letter carriers. Close call -- I'm leaning toward Frederick.

County auditor: This is the undercard to the nasty smackdown for Metro auditor. The current county auditor's leaving to slug it out over there, and her assistant, Lavonne Griffin-Valade, is looking to step up. Despite some scary names in her endorsement list, La GriVa's got a slight edge over Steve March, a state legislator (strike 1) who's been working as a "policy analyst" for Lisa Naito, one of the "mean girls" currently on the commission (strike 2 -- I like Lisa, but not what she's been doing lately). For an auditor, March sure knows how to write one impenetrably vague resume. College professor, substitute teacher -- what the heck does this guy do for a living?

County sheriff: Write in Derrick Foxworth. Seriously.

Well, isn't that special?

Several members of the Oregon Legislature began physical therapy this week after dislocating their shoulders patting themselves on the back after last week's special session. This organization did next to nothing in the regular session, which dragged on through more than half of 2005, but suddenly reconvened to pass a few nuggets in a few hours in the off-season.

The pollsters must have told them that they were in danger of losing their jobs in the approaching primary election, and so they needed to do something quick. There's talk of making the Legislature a year-'round affair, but from last week's performance, a much cheaper solution to the Salem gridlock is apparent: Just schedule the regular sessions in election years, when the lawmakers have to answer to the voters immediately. I suspect you'd see much more accomplished.

Comin' home

Emily Harris, a correspondent for National Public Radio, will discuss how she became a radio journalist, and her experiences reporting from Iraq, at 7:30 Saturday evening at First Unitarian Church at SW 12th and Salmon in Portland.

A Portland native and Yale graduate, Harris is currently pursuing a journalism fellowship at Stanford. She got her radio journalism start at KBOO-FM (90.7) in Portland, and went on to become an NPR correspondent. She has worked on Bill Moyers's show, All Things Considered and Morning Edition; for a time she served as NPR's main presence in Berlin, and also has been stationed in Russia.

Harris will be speaking to raise funds for and awareness of Young Musicians & Artists, a summer arts and music program for youth. Harris spent many summers at YMA, where she was both a student and then a counselor. Harris eventually met her husband, Collin Oldham, at the camp.

Young Musicians and Artists is currently celebrating its 40th anniversary, and has been on the campus of Willamette University for the last 31 years. Tickets for Harris's talk ($15/general, $10/students and seniors) can be purchased at the door, or in advance by calling Young Musicians & Artists, 503-281-9528.

(And for the current scene where Harris came from on the radio, don't forget this site.)

More sardines per can

Ever since Ronald Reagan ordered the application of the almighty Free Market Principles to the U.S. airline industry, the experience of flying on a commercial jet aircraft has steadily declined in quality. Now you go hours without food, are lucky to get served putrid water, rise at 4 a.m. to make your flight, and endure ticket pricing that defies all logic. "Why should you have to pay for something you don't want?" was the dominant mantra.

For years, I have said that by that logic, the next step will be to take out the seats and have you stand all the way to your destination. Why make you pay for a seat if you're willing to go without one?

I was kidding, of course, figuring that a seatless option would be too much of a safety risk. But never underestimate the ingenuity of the selfish Free Marketeers -- lo, it is coming to pass. You'll strap yourself to a board.

Monday, April 24, 2006

He will be missed

Word has reached us that Sid Lezak, ace mediator, former long-time U.S. attorney for Oregon, and one of Portland's great civic assets, has died. Apparently he had some sort of rapidly developing neurological disorder.

Sid even commented on this blog a time or two. He was a great man, and we are very much the poorer without him.

About that free wi-fi cloud...

Hmmm... Let's see... Doesn't work well in a town of 28,000... Hey, let's do it right now in a city 20 times that size! Think big! Can you say "linchpin"?


A reader from out in the Lents neighborhood sends along a press release advertising the Portland City Council candidates' forum that's set for tomorrow evening at the Kelly School auditorium. The release notes that the event, with introductions at 7:15, will include 11 candidates for the two open council seats:

Eleven candidates have confirmed their participation in the Q&A forum, and include (in no particular order) Emilie Boyles, Ginny Burdick, Cisco Holdman, Dave Lister, and Erik Sten for Position #2, and Michael Casper, Amanda Fritz, Chris Iverson, Sharon Nasset, Dan Saltzman, and Lucinda Tate for Position #3. Each candidate will get the chance to share their own unique perspective and recommendation on such hot-button issues as education funding, local economies, and housing strategies. In addition, candidates will be dedicated equal time at the podium to recap why they are running and why you should vote for them.
I think a couple of those candidates may be less than serious -- at least, the voter's pamphlet shows only nine, with Casper and Holdman not shown. But you get the picture: all the candidates, and maybe then some, are said to be "confirmed."

The release also states, "Voter registration cards will be available at the door." But since tomorrow night's the deadline (don't quote me, but I believe your registration must be postmarked by tomorrow midnight), it would probably be too late unless someone then drove down to the main P.O. in time to get it postmarked. And I haven't checked when their last box pickup is. In any event, if you need to, you had better get that baby in the mail today.

Ditto if you want to change your affiliation to "independent," so that you can later sign a petition for Ben Westlund.

And if you're out Lents way tomorrow after supper, I suppose there are worse ways you could kill a couple of hours.

We can relate

Did you catch that story in The O yesterday about how inmates at the county pen use the plumbing between their in-room toilets as a communications device? They just drain the bowl and talk into it:

But every night, when the deputies go home, the clandestine party line is alive with the echoes of gossip, fear, rage, regrets, withdrawals, proclaimed innocence, sports talk, singing, laughing and some Romeo trying to woo an unseen Juliet on another floor.
Sounds like the blogosphere.

Tram of mystery

Who's been hired to run the OHSU aerial tram [rim shot]? And how much are they going to charge? The bids came in to OHSU long ago (although the city owns the tram, the Pill Hill boys call this shot, apparently), and I suspect that a contractor has been chosen behind closed doors. Where's the dislosure and the chance for public comment on that deal? (Only kidding.)

Down I-5 a ways...

You think the Portland police have problems? Check out this recent Eugene story.

Looks like things in Salem ain't so peachy, either.

But... we love dreamers!

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Gloves off

Here's a ticked-off Portland neighbor who tells it like it is. Sure, it's over the top, but at the core it makes some great points.

Mission accomplished

My work as a rapper is through. I delivered all 10 of my rap numbers as scheduled tonight -- although I confess to relying on cue cards for a good part of it. I have a new respect for artists who come out and do all new material -- especially if you just wrote it two days ago, it's not that easy to keep it memorized. Plus, there's a big difference between reciting it in your underwear in front of a computer and doing it in costume in front of a live crowd.

Special thanks to the artists whose work I, shall we say, made fair use of. You can't go wrong with tracks like these:

No Pain No Gain - Buckshot LaFonque with Uptown (and Albert Collins)
Papa Was a Rollin' Stone - The Temptations with the Funk Brothers
Express Yourself - Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band
Some CowFonque (More Tea, Vicar?) - Buckshot LaFonque
The Horse - Cliff Nobles & Company
Farewell to Tarwathie - Judy Collins with humpback whales
Super Freak - Rick James
U Can't Touch This - MC Hammer
Give Up the Funk - Parliament
Bust a Move - Young MC

Having hacked these to pieces, I think I'm going to play them for myself in their beautiful original versions now, and call it a good night.

UPDATE, 4/30, 3:43 am: Photo here.

Friday, April 21, 2006

3,237 hits per second

And you think you've got bandwidth issues.

From the e-mailbag

A reader sends this along -- alas, without mention of its author:

Oregon State Barbies

Portland Barbie: This modern day homemaker Barbie is available with a Mercedes 4WD SUV, a Prada handbag and matching Nike Yoga ensemble. She has a masters degree and double-majored, but has the luxury of being a stay-at-home mom with Ken's generous salary. Comes with Percocet prescription and Botox. Starbucks mug and traffic-jamming Blackberry internet/cell phone device sold separately. Husband Ken is into fishing, golfing, baseball and is often "working late."

Available at all Portland-area Starbucks retailers.

Lake Oswego Barbie: This princess Barbie is only sold at Nordstrom. She comes with an assortment of Kate Spade handbags, your choice of a BMW convertible or Hummer H2 and a long-haired foreign lapdog named "Honey." Also available is her cookie-cutter development dream house. Available with or without tummy tuck, facelift, and breast augmentation.

Workaholic, cheating husband, Ken, comes with a Porsche.

NE Portland Barbie: This recently paroled Barbie comes with a 9mm handgun, switchblade, '78 El Camino with dark tinted windows, and a meth lab it. This model is available only after dark and can only be purchased with cash - preferably small bills, unless you're a cop, then we don't know what you're talking about. Boyfriend Ken is in jail.

Available at many pawn shops.

Dallas Barbie: This tobacco chewing, brassy-haired Barbie comes with a pair of high-heeled sandals with one broken heel from the time she chased Beer Gut Ken out of Auburn Barbie's trailer. Her ensemble includes low-rise acid-washed jeans, fake fingernails, strawberry lip gloss and a see-through halter top. Purchase her Mustang convertible separately and get a Confederate flag bumper sticker absolutely free. Boyfriend Ken is in treatment.

Available at Army Navy Surplus.

Pendleton Barbie: This pale model comes dressed in her own Wrangler jeans 2-sizes too small, steel-toed cowboy boots, a classic Metallica 'T' shirt and a Tweedy Bird tattoo on her shoulder. She has fake fingernails, a six pack of Budweiser, and a Hank Williams, Jr. CD set. She can spit over a distance of 6 feet and kick mullet-haired Ken's ass when she is drunk. Also available is the gold-toned cubic zirconium ring that Ken gave her after another one of his "episodes" with his boss's daughter. Comes with Barbie's Dream Double Wide Trailer.

Available at Wal-Mart.

Scio Barbie: Pregnant at purchase, this Barbie comes with a stroller and bus pass. Also included is a G.E.D. and a completely filled out food stamps form. Construction worker Ken and his '82 Caddy are optional.

Available at Value Village.

Eugene Barbie: This Barbie is made out of recycled plastic and tofu. She has long straight brown hair, archless feet, hairy armpits, no make-up, and Birkenstocks with white socks. She does not want, or need, a Ken doll. If you purchase the optional Subaru wagon, you will receive a free rainbow flag sticker.

Available at REI.

Ashland Barbie: This versatile doll can be easily converted from Barbie to Ken by simply adding or removing snap on parts. Walks to work. Likes to "experiment," but will never commit. This model is being phased out and is only available from the manufacturer.

Off duty

I'm nearly totally immersed in preparing for my rap performance tomorrow night, and so blogging's in the back seat for a while. Right now it's the Soundblaster studio and the rhyming dictionary websites for me.

If you've got a favorite rap expression that you think I should throw in at some point, please leave it in the comments.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Memo to the 'burbs

You don't want to pay for the upkeep on the Bull Run water system? Fine, drink this.

Finally, a good reason for the aerial tram

It will be safer than walking the streets in Portland on a nice day. Gotta love those Rose City priorities.

Clean, wasted money

Golly, the City of Portland has finally figured out that Emilie Boyles doesn't qualify for taxpayer financing of her campaign for City Council. And the city auditor is asking her to pay back the $145,000 that he paid her for that purpose, plus interest and penalties.

Slight problem: At least half of it's gone, and Boyles, who doesn't appear to have a paying job, can't even pay the rent on her trailer space.

There's a saying about getting blood from a stone.

When it becomes clear that she can't pay the money back, what will the city do? Bring a civil suit against her for the $145,000 plus? Force her into bankruptcy and get back 10 or 15 cents on the dollar, if that?

Whose brilliant idea was this "system," anyway?

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Game report: Suns 106, Blazers 96

Courtesy of The Daily E-Mail, I got to sit in tonight on the final game of the season for the Trail Blazers -- a routine loss to the Phoenix Suns. It left the Portland squad with the worst record in the league, and one of the worst season performances in team history. Still, there was a healthy-sized crowd on hand, most of whom stayed and cheered to the end.

Not playing were Blazer "stars" (more like nadirs) Zach Randolph and Darius Miles, who were injured, were suspended, quit the team, or all of the above. Plus, they were busy primping themselves for their big after-game party at the downtown nightclub that they were advertising on thug radio last night (bring your gun).

The Blazers ran a small lineup all night, and Phoenix just gradually pulled away from them. The Suns' Shawn Marion, the one-man fantasy league statistics machine, had 32 points and 11 rebounds. Steve Nash posted a triple double. Even ex-Blazer Brian Grant hit a few shots when dared to do so, as teams usually do. (Boris Diaw was sick, and Amare Stoudamire still isn't up to playing.) After the first quarter, it wasn't much of a contest. Phoenix was up 88-66 at the end of three quarters, and the game was not even as close as the final score might suggest.

The Blazers had a few decent moments, but only a few. Forward Viktor Khryapa continued to look good, playing defense and snagging rebounds, but the rest of the team seemed to be just going through the motions. The rebounding was pitiful. Kid rookie Martell Webster told the crowd before the game that the Blazers would have a winning season next year, but that seemed pretty dubious. We kept hoping that this would be the night that Webster got hot and hit 10 jump shots in a row, but I guess that night is a ways off, if it ever comes at all.

With Randolph banished, Blazer backup center Ha Seung-Jin saw some playing time near the end. When this guy comes on the floor, everyone in the place says, almost in unison, "It's going to be a couple of years before he's ready for the NBA." Tonight he made you wonder if that's a valid assessment -- after he got hit in the back of the hands by both an excellent pass and a rebound opportunity, you wonder if he'll ever learn how to play the game.

This time last year, Blazer fans left the Rose Garden with at least a glimmer of hope. And look what happened -- an unmitigated disaster of a year on almost every level, with only the grit of coach Nate McMillan to salvage a season full of negatives. This year, the outlook is even more uncertain: The team is going be sold, and new management will have to decide how badly to blow the organization up yet again. The Blazers might even be moved to another city -- a nightmare for Portland -- but assuming that they stay, you have to wonder about so many things.

Perhaps the most depressing note is that the sale probably won't close in time to stop Paul Allen and his staff of underachievers from deciding what to do with the team's extremely high draft pick. Allen has lousy taste and worse judgment, and it would be great if the new owners -- not he -- called the next big shot in the talent category. Perhaps the best one can hope for is that Allen leaves the choice largely up to McMillan. After all, Nate may be the only suit returning next year, and that's only if the fans are lucky.

Allen wasn't around tonight, but the smell of his approach to business lingered. Let's hope some fresh air blows through that place when the season starts up again in the fall.

Given that we were sitting with the mere mortals, the photos taken with my clunker camera are hardly ready for Pulitzer consideration, but they may give you the look and feel of the game. Here's Sebastian Telfair in action:

Here's Webster at the line:


And the play of the game for Portland, Khryapa with a nice dunk:

Farewell to the Blazers, for another year, maybe forever. And goodbye Paul Allen and crew, we fondly hope.

Pulling for Curtis

The news is out that Portland blues master Curtis Salgado is undergoing treatment for liver cancer.

Curtis is a phenomenal musician and a real treasure for our city. The guy's a human box set of the best R'n'B of all time. He's battled all sorts of bad stuff before and come out on top. We wish him the best as he takes on this challenge. Apparently there's a change jar out to help fund some of his expenses -- that's worth a visit.

Every day is a gift.

Portland municipal bankruptcy watch

It's right there on the front page of today's O -- what commenters have been posting here for months now. There's a serious question whether the infrastructure costs in the SoWhat district can be paid for out of property taxes in the district. And so a lot of the money that the city's borrowing to build down there -- now budgeted to run up to $110 million, and I'm sure that's a cooked number -- is likely to be paid back out of the general fund.

It's San Diego in the making, folks -- grave financial distress for the city is ahead.

Here's the most priceless aspect of the whole rotten can of worms:

Portland Development Commission officials think they eliminated much of that risk.

Under the proposal, North Macadam Investors would guarantee to build five condo towers so the city would have enough tax revenue to pay its bills. If they don't follow through, North Macadam must pay the difference or give its land to the city....

Trouble comes only if the condo market tanks in the next five years. No one has that crystal ball, but even some of South Waterfront's biggest backers acknowledge some qualms.

"You've got to wonder how much the market will support," said Bob Scanlan, whose company ScanlonKemperBard helped fund North Macadam's construction. "I'm not so worried about the condo demand disappearing. I'm more worried about the condo buyers' ability to sell their house. Therein lies the $64 million question."

And so the city's security is that they'll get Homer Williams's land from him? That's comical. The place is a condo skyscraper jungle. If the properties won't pencil out for condos there, they probably won't be worth much for anything else, will they?

The cast of characters who set this disaster in motion is a large one. Vera Katz, Neil Goldschmidt, Peter Kohler, Erik Sten, Dan Saltzman -- even Mark Hatfield showed up for a few pictures. But now Tom Potter is adding his name to the list -- a list that no one will want to be on about 10 years from now. Of course, by then he'll be in Hawaii, collecting his pensions -- which is the other giant anvil around the city's neck.

There comes a point where you realize that you have to stop using your credit cards for frivolities. We're way past that now.

Train wreck -- film at 11

The Candidates Gone Wild folks have kicked Portland City Council candidate Emilie Boyles off the program for their upcoming political debate and tent show scheduled for May 1. But they've gone one better than that -- they've posted an extraordinary video of Boyles huffing and puffing her way through an exclusive interview about the apparent fraud in her qualification for "clean money" under the city's controversial new public campaign finance system.

It's worth a viewing, as it's the shortest political career I believe you'll ever see.

If there's ever a Pulitzer for personal blogs...

Tony should get the first one:

finally, boys, if you want to get girls its very simple. you must start asking girls out. every week you need to ask three girls out. heres what i recommend: one of the girls needs to be the hottest chick ever. one of them needs to be someone who youre pretty sure will say yes but is still someone who makes you nervous. and one has to be a sure thing. but keep this in mind, even sure things arent sure things so get ready.
Read the whole beautiful thing.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

God help America

I'm involved in an event coming up this weekend where I'm going to perform as a rapper. To get ready, I've been putting together some sound beds and drafting up some lyrics on the assigned topics. To refresh my recollection of the kind of terminology that the "professionals" use, I thought I'd listen to one of the kid stations on the radio for a few days.

What I heard deeply shocked and saddened me.

It's descended to pure filth, more than half the time. The two messages, heard over and over in these raps, are "I'm gonna f*ck you" and "I'm gonna kill you." And believe me, it's no less explicit than that, although the four-letter words are edited out of the radio versions of these numbers, in a mockery of decency. Sexual positions, prostitution, and hatred for everyone, especially women -- "I'm lookin for a girl that will do whatever the f*ck I say" is a featured lyric currently in heavy rotation. And the young women performing are all about "I'll make you feel good, I promise."

Now when I was a kid back in the stone age, we had our share of risque material. Let's spend the night together. Bend over, let me see you shake your tail feather. Why don't we do it in the road?

But in 2006, turn on a station like 95.5 FM in Portland, any hour of the day, and see what comes blasting out. I dare you to listen to it for an hour. Then understand that this is what we're letting radio station owners like Paul Allen peddle to our middle schoolers. All the most virulent garbage, all the time.

It's no mystery why the 4-year-old kids are being shot inside the day care centers now. The explanation is no further away than your radio.

On my way home tonight, I heard an ad come on this station for a downtown nightclub. They're having a party there tomorrow night, and guess who the big attractions are? The two Trail Blazers who were suspended this week for failure to even show up to be with the team: Zach Randolph and Darius Miles. They took time out from their busy schedules to invite everyone down to "da cluuub" after tomorrow night's season-ending game, a season in which their team was the worst in the league. Time to party with the two highest paid people in the whole city, and among the most clueless.

If you're downtown, be sure to wear your bulletproof vest.

Why there aren't people with picket signs following Mr. Allen around and surrounding his sordid little radio station is beyond me. Parents who get so hot when they talk about making their kids go to a different school -- where are you when your kids turn on the radio? At the very least, your children are interacting with peers who listen to this material at every opportunity, and who have no skills at filtering the content.

If America ever really was the envy of the world, those days are coming to an end. You want proof? Check out Jammin' 95.

Coming soon

Here's a glimpse of Portland's future.

Might be interesting to ask, Who do you hope will be on board when it happens?

Spoof of the day

People in Portland have a heckuva sense of humor. Here's one out of today's Trib:

Kosydar says the reason he dropped the idea is that he'd viewed candidate Emilie Boyles as Sten's main threat; now that she's been battered by negative headlines, Kosydar says Sten no longer needs help.

Kosydar says he's never met Sten but calls him "probably the greatest visionary in Portland since Neil Goldschmidt."

Knock it off, man. You're killin' me.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Ten million bucks and two years for nothing

It looks as though all the many dozens of sex abuse cases pending against the Catholic Archdiocese of Portland are going to public trial. So ruled the judge today in the archdiocese's ill-advised bankruptcy case.

What many of the alleged victims have wanted all along, more than anything else, is their day in open court. Now they are going to get it.

By filing for bankruptcy, the archbishop hoped to (a) have the claims disposed of with a minimum of publicity about the details of the alleged priestly transgressions, and (b) shield most of the church's property from judgments on the ground that it really belonged to the parishes, not the archdiocese as a whole.

So far he's gotten exactly nowhere on either count. And he's spent $10 million on lawyers to get there -- not to mention incurring two more years of bad publicity. Plus every Catholic in Western Oregon was made a defendant to the lawsuits -- not something they particularly relished, I'm sure, and it seems to have made no difference in the legal proceedings.

Now it's time to let the American legal system work. If the plaintiffs' claims can't be proven, or if the damages they're seeking are overstated, juries will say so. If the plaintiffs are telling the truth, they'll collect.

It's called justice, and $10 million didn't stop it.

That ain't hay

Some notes on Tax Day 2006:

1. The mailbox into which I dropped my returns, outside the Post Office branch at NE Eighth & Schuyler, had a yellow sticker on it today. It noted that all mail deposited there before midnight tonight would get an April 17 postmark. That's nice -- saves folks a trip down to the main Post Office tonight if they're playing the 11th-hour game to the hilt. You wonder, though, how many of them will know what it says on the sticker; they'll probably just drive down to the main for the annual festivities.

I remember the year I timed my trip to try to get on the 11:00 news, which is always at the P.O. on Tax Night. They interviewed the person driving the car right in front of me. As Maxwell Smart used to say, "Missed it by that much!"

2. We mailed six envelopes again this year -- federal, state, federal quarterly, state quarterly, Tri-Met and Multnomah County. Plus, we had to add two more for one of our kids, whose little nest egg has reached the point where it generates enough income to require her to file. So that's eight altogether. Oh beautful, for spacious skies...

3. Sen. Ron Wyden's tax plan is all over the news today. It's not really news -- been out for quite a while. I've blogged about it here before. It's a nice Democratic income tax, with a few bones (but very few) thrown to the Republican forces.

As part of that story, they're showing around the tax return form that would prevail under the Wyden plan. Swell, but the Wyden tax return I'd get a kick out of seeing is the one he's filing with his new gajillionaire bride. I wonder if they're filing jointly, or whether they're pulling a Kerry and keeping things separate so we can't see her dough.

4. If you haven't gotten it together yet, you can always get an extension of time to file your own returns. Details are here. You still have to pay what you owe today, however, along with your extension request. Oregon generally accepts a valid federal extension, as does Multnomah County. They all have to be paid what they're owed today, however, or else there are penalties (and interest, of course).

5. Speaking of Multnomah County, this is the last year of the county income tax -- just in time for the election of a commissioner and the county chair. As for the latter, we note here that unemployment benefits are includible in gross income.

6. For inspiration, don't forget the Complete Internal Revenue Code Podcast Project, here.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

It's simple

Our kids make a wish as they blow away the dandelion seeds. Overheard this evening: "A dairy cone every day, and a puppy."

Surprise, surprise

Today's Oregonian editorial page gives us the newspaper's management's picks in the Portland City Council races.

You'll never guess.

And the most important criterion for their endorsement? Whether the candidate would have the "courage" to vote more millions for the OHSU aerial tram [rim shot]. "Passion" is also important -- just don't let it get you into an "affair" with a 14-year-old, I guess.

Of course, the O rarely calls a winner in city races any more, and so perhaps this is a good sign. In any event, all you Old Boy Network members, get right on down to the O tomorrow morning and buy some more ads to show Fred how much you appreciate him.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Big fish, small fry

A couple of celebrity sightings yesterday in Stumptown:

First, as we headed for the Hawthorne Bridge, we caught new Police Chief Rosie Sizer heading back to the Justice Center, coming from the direction of City Hall. By the time we passed her, she was crossing the street alone. We couldn't resist rolling down the window to yell, "Good luck, chief." She smiled and said "Thanks."

Next stop: the Burgerville on Hawthorne for a late afternoon turkey burger. The place is empty except for me and none other than Mike Powell, owner of the famous bookstore. His order: "Small fry." That's it.

Happy Easter

Nancy Lynne's best photo yet

I've featured some of her work on this blog before, but check this one out. (Via ORblogs.)

Her own site is here.

Let them eat wi-fi

Worldwide Pablo hits the nail on the head once again:

[E]xactly how did a luxury like universal wireless Internet service rise to the top of Portland's To Do list? Perhaps we've missed the news that public safety is fully in hand. Or that the infrastructure of paved streets, sidewalks, parks and community centers has now expanded east of the People's Republic of Laurelhurst. Or that fiscal accountability has been finally achieved at the city's corporate and candidate welfare offices. Or ... well, you get the idea.

Oh, sure, it won't really cost the city anything to launch the "cloud" [or so we are told]. High-end users will even have to pay a fee to get the advertising-free version. But do you ever wonder why it is that every boutique project aimed to appease elites from bicyclistas to baristas finds an instant audience at City Hall, when regular things go unnoticed, or worse, are held hostage to the "which child shall we kill first" bond-levy-income tax election extortion scheme Portland is becoming increasingly so famous for?

I hope that he and his Portland readers will remember that when they get their City Council ballots.

I'm bad, I'm bad, you know it

Looks like I've been kicked out of the "progressive" mutual admiration society. The offense? Daring to question that genius Erik Sten.

Not only that, it was the authoritative voice of God that expelled me from the garden.

I understand their outrage. Nothing hurts like the truth.

To confine the flame war to someone else's bandwidth, please leave your comments on this elsewhere.

Friday, April 14, 2006


The e-mail inbox is a wonderful place. Today we find:

What You Need To Believe To Be A Republican

Jesus loves you, and shares your hatred of homosexuals and Hillary Clinton.

Saddam was a good guy when Reagan armed him, a bad guy when Bush's daddy made war on him, a good guy when Cheney did business with him, and a bad guy when Bush needed a "we can't find Bin Laden" diversion.

Trade with Cuba is wrong because the country is Communist, but trade with China and Vietnam is vital to a spirit of international harmony.

The United States should get out of the United Nations, and our highest national priority is enforcing U.N. resolutions against Iraq.

A woman can't be trusted with decisions about her own body, but multi-national corporations can make decisions affecting all mankind without regulation.

The best way to improve military morale is to praise the troops in speeches, while slashing veterans' benefits and combat pay.

If condoms are kept out of schools, adolescents won't have sex.

A good way to fight terrorism is to belittle our long-time allies, then demand their cooperation and money.

Providing health care to all Iraqis is sound policy, but providing health care to all Americans is socialism. HMOs and insurance companies have the best interests of the public at heart.

Global warming and tobacco's link to cancer are junk science, but creationism should be taught in the public schools.

A president lying about an extramarital affair is an impeachable offense, but a president lying to enlist support for a war in which thousands die is solid defense policy.

Government should limit itself to the powers named in the Constitution, which include banning gay marriages and censoring the Internet.

The public has a right to know about Hillary's cattle trades, but George Bush's driving record is none of our business.

Being a drug addict is a moral failing and a crime, unless you're a conservative radio host. Then it's an illness and you need our prayers for your recovery.

Supporting "Executive Privilege" for every Republican ever born, who will be born or who might be born (in perpetuity).

What Bill Clinton did in the 1960s is of vital national interest, but what Bush did in the '80s is irrelevant.

Support for hunters who shoot their friends and blame them for wearing orange vests similar to those worn by the quail.

Musical interlude

Ebony and ivory live together in perfect harmony
Side by side on my piano keyboard, oh lord, why don't we?
We all know that people are the same where ever we go
There is good and bad in ev'ryone,
We learn to live, we learn to give
Each other what we need to survive together alive.

Ebony and ivory live together in perfect harmony
Side by side on my piano keyboard, oh lord why don't we?

Ebony, ivory living in perfect harmony
Ebony, ivory, ooh

We all know that people are the same where ever we go
There is good and bad in ev'ryone,
We learn to live, we learn to give
Each other what we need to survive together alive.

Ebony and ivory live together in perfect harmony
Side by side on my piano keyboard, oh lord why don't we?

Ebony, ivory living in perfect harmony (repeat and fade)

O.k., this was pointless and in questionable taste. But wouldn't you like to see them sing it together? Cable access, where are you when we need you most?

Just in time for Good Friday

Erik Sten's next role: martyrdom.

New world order

So you pull into the fast food drive-through and the voice comes squawking out of the box: "Welcome to McDonald's, may I take your order?"

You try to picture the person you're talking to. Maybe she sounds nice, or maybe grouchy. Maybe bright, maybe spacey. You figure you're soon going to see her in person when you get up to the pickup window.


At least, maybe wrong. As it turns out, some burger restaurants are now routing your conversation with the speaker box to call centers that are off-site from the restaurant -- sometimes way off site. So that while you're talking to a microphone in a strip mall in say, Portland, the person whose voice booms back out of the speaker is sitting in a call center in L.A. She takes your order, keys it into her computer, and it's sent over the 'net to the screen in front of the guy who's sweating over the grill in the Portland joint that you're sitting outside of.

And your order-taker may be handling "calls" from drive-throughs at a number of different restaurants all at once. That's the whole point -- the restaurant chain saves money because there's no down time for her between orders. While you're turning your radio back up, rolling up your window, getting your car back into gear, fiddling with your wallet to get your money out now that you know the total, and letting the next customer pull up behind you, the order-taker is busy doing her thing with a customer at the head of another line of autos far, far away. She doesn't get that 10 seconds to catch her breath any more.

She is not wearing a uniform. Indeed, she may not be wearing anything at all, because some of these "call centers" are in the workers' houses.

And it doesn't stop at Mickey D's. Pretty soon there will be a squawk box on your cart at Home Depot, and if you need to know where the caulking guns are, you're supposed to talk to the box. You'll get an answer from someone who's got the map of your store on their laptop screen. They're somewhere. Who knows where.

You can see where this is heading. Once these systems prove that they can squeeze an extra penny or two out of every customer interaction -- and I have no doubt that they will -- all the order-taker jobs will be outsourced to some place like India. Ordering a couple of cheeseburgers will be like trying to get tech support from Dell. Some guy in Rangoon will have to say "Would you like to supersize that?" five times before you understand what he's asking.

Eventually the same folks in Pakistan will be simultaneously taking both burger orders and calls about problems with Dell customers' laptops. There will inevitably be some confusion.

"I'll take a cheesebugrer happy meal, with milk, a quarter pounder with cheese, and a large Coke."

"First con I heb your name, oddriss, telphone nomber, and e-mail oddriss?"

When Jack in the Box tells you "You must exit first actually from all odder Windows progroms," you'll know the transition is complete.

I wonder how the religious authorities over there will handle the beef issue. I'm picturing some backlash. Hopefully no one will get hurt.

Then the day will come that we all dread: Al Qaeda takes over the call centers. Americans will be screaming at the kids in the pickup windows: "I didn't order three apple pies! And I said, a medium!" The nation will be paralyzed. The Jack in the Boxes will be laughing demonically. For all the violations of our civil liberties in the name of the war on terror, what is Bush doing to prevent that?

All the news that's fit to obfuscate

It's amazing how uneven a newspaper can be. Sometimes the O really breaks something -- the Emilie Boyles signature pages, for example -- and then other times it grinds out the most superficial pap.

Yesterday's story on the proposed move of Portland's downtown fire station was, unfortunately, in the latter category. The reporter gargles out some vague nonsense about "mixed housing and other uses," and blithely quotes one of the city's landed gentry as bemoaning the fact that he can't build a building taller than 75 feet a block from the river.

No mention of the wise policy behind that longstanding height limitation. And most importantly, no mention of the fact that what we're talking about here is another huge, soulless condo tower. Indeed, the word "condo" is entirely absent from the article.

But "linchpin" is there. Oh yeah, love the "linchpin." "Synergy" too. Those are the magic words that get the money out of the taxpayers' pockets and into the developers'. And the O tosses them around in its news columns without quotation marks around them. Its management is apparently so very in on the scam.

Missing, too, is any mention of that pesky little Saturday Market -- you know, the 30-year Portland institution that's about to rewarded for its decades of resourceful use of underutilized public space by being run out of it. To be replaced by some private outfit selling $40 bottles of wine and $20 wedges of cheese. All tax-abated, no doubt. Maybe the Schumachers could open an outlet store.

Here's the sell job from the paper:

If the fire station moves, the PDC plans to solicit developers about a new use for the building, which sits next to the Skidmore Fountain. The plan is to include housing and possibly space for a public market as conditions to transferring ownership. Adding housing in the area is key for the market, said market consultant Ron Paul, but the commissioners said Wednesday that they were concerned about a public market.
"A new use... to include housing and possibly space for a public market." Oh, golly gee willikers, people, what do you think that would be?

It's spelled c-o-n-d-o followed by t-o-w-e-r.

If you can't report in plain English on the basic facts, why waste ink on the story at all? High-definition, my keester.

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Blessed are they who expect nothing

Word has come down from Oregon attorney general Hardy Myers that he can't get into the investigation into the conduct of Portland Police Chief Derrick Foxworth, because he doesn't have the authority to enforce civil (as opposed to criminal) laws relating to the city. Here's Myers's letter to Mayor Potter declining the assignment (via KGW).

Makes you wonder what Myers can and will do (if anything) in the Emilie Boyles "voter-owned elections" scandal. With the Foxworth letter, is he in effect telling us that he can't make Boyles pay the city back the $144,900 in "clean money" she's taken in apparent violation of the municipal ordinance?

If Myers's jurisdiction is limited to criminal prosecution, he may have a tough time getting to Boyles herself. Let's face it, that money's gone.

Friends, Romans, countrymen

Fireman Randy took the gloves off yesterday and let OHSU and the developer folks have it over the aerial tram [rim shot]. In voting against additional city funding for the Kohler-Coaster, he issued this statement, which includes some serious fightin' words:

But let's be honest about the public financing of the tram. The total $8.5 million of TIF money we are discussing is just over one half of all the money taxpayers are contributing to the Tram.

Portlanders are also on the hook to reimburse OHSU an additional $3.4 million as a result of OHSU being granted $11 million from Wash DC.

Can someone... anyone, explain where that kind of deal comes from? Who on our side makes such agreements? If for no other reason, this scheme alone has earned my no vote.

But that's not it -- and this one is my favorite.

A cut in what Ken Rust just characterized as mortgage insurance on the LID moneys paid by OHSU from 1.25% to .25%... saves another $2.25 million for OHSU.

Never mind that every poor working Joe and Jane in Portland has up until now paid the current 1.25% every time a sidewalk, street or sewer is laid in their neighborhood. We just heard that our financial staff are relying on a 1989 report to reduce what is described as similar to a "mortgage insurance fee." However, in the intervening 17 years, the city of Portland has undertaken one of the largest public works projects ever -- the mid county sewer project, that included the 1.25% charge on each of the modest homes east of 82nd Ave. But now comes OHSU that will participate in a LID -- and somehow, someway, we now think that 1.25% is too much.

If we leave the rate at 1.25%, we might end up with resources that could be used to pave streets out in the Cully Neighborhood or, heaven forbid, Lents. By all means, let's change that interest rate now before we have to pave pothole-plagued streets in working class neighborhoods throughout Portland.

These various financial sweetheart deals with OHSU amount to a MINIMUM of a $14.15 million total direct taxpayer subsidy of OHSU and its tram.

Lay on, Macduff! And don't forget to vote no again when the next $43 million for the rest of the SoWhat condo tower wasteland comes before you shortly. (Opie says, "Me, too -- I'm all grown up now.")


A special occasion took us out to dinner at Roux, the Creole-Cajun food joint out on North Killingsworth, last night. The food and drink were great -- can't go wrong with a mint julep on a perfect spring evening -- and the ambiance was fine. They tell us they're serving up a wicked weekend brunch over there, too.

It was a swell dinner, but it wasn't cheap. Don't let the North Portland address fool you on that score. But if you rarely get out of the house for a good meal, what the hey.

It's hard to eat Louisiana fare without thinking and talking about the people whose lives were taken or smashed by the hurricanes. If you pay by check or cash, they're giving 5 percent of your tab to relief agencies in and around New Orleans.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Shock and awe

A misguided adventure, launched on lies, misjudging the strength of the enemy, the voices of reason being drowned out by those of greed, alienating long-time allies along the way, so horribly expensive that it's too frightening to think about, all financed with borrowed money that future generations may or may not be able to pay, permanently damaging vital government programs with its breathtaking waste, the government hiding the casualties and pressing ever onward against the wishes of the majority of the voters and despite clear indications that it's a hopeless quagmire.

Yes, it's becoming clear that the South Waterfront development -- SoWhat for short -- is Portland's equivalent of the war in Iraq.

Today we see that the OHSU aerial tram [rim shot] is just the tip of the iceberg. The city's throwing another $43 million at SoWhat as a whole, buying property from Homer Williams and paying for all sorts of other junk to make the hideous condo tower jungle prettier for the California dupes who are going to pay upwards of a million dollars for an apartment in Portland.

And that's just the number they're admitting to. If the Portland City Council tells you it's spending another $43 million, that usually means more like $60 million. Of course, there will be many, many more votes like this -- $43 million this year, another $43 million next year, on and on. Wait 'til somebody actually starts talking seriously about where the sewage from those properties is going. And oh, the uproar we'll hear about the traffic! In the end, a half-billion dollars in local property taxes could be blown down there.

And we're borrowing all of it for now, with the bonds to be paid off later, when supposedly the properties in the district will start paying big-time property taxes. Of course, that will divert all the property taxes paid in SoWhat away from any other city government purpose for decades. The district may pay for its own streets, parks, landscaping, etc. eventually, but everyone down there will get a free ride on police, fire, schools, etc. for a long, long time.

Nothing's free, people. Those are tax dollars we're spending down there. And Tom Potter's Portland Development Commission is every bit as eager as Vera Katz's was to burn them for Homer Williams and his ilk. How disappointing.

A great guy

When we pass, I tell her she may have dropped something back there. She looks at me like I'm nuts. I tell her, when I get to the item, I'll let her know if it's anything.
Bob Borden is my hero.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Another one bites the dust

As I suspected he might.

More time for you, baby

Portland Police Chief Derrick Foxworth has been placed on administrative leave, according to KGW.

Flash: Grampy's blogging

I kid you not.

Amanda's "clean money"

To round out our look at where Portland taxpayers' "clean" dollars are going as they pay for "voter-owned elections," we've perused candidate Amanda Fritz's disclosures, and there's not much there to shout about. Like Erik Sten, she spent money on yard signs at an out-of-state outfit. The volunteers eat at Foti's Greek Deli a lot. She uses a payroll service for the paid help.

Unlike some other candidates, Fritz has already bought radio time: around $8,000 worth on KPOJ, Portland's Air America affiliate.

One interesting item right at the end of her report: Apparently she's in a fee dispute with an outfit called Lake Research Partners in Los Angeles. I think they were doing a poll of some kind for her -- no word on what the disagreement's about.

A final, ironic note: Fritz has been spending thousands on printing with a company here in town named Witham & Dickey. Then when you look over on the contributor list for Fritz's opponent, incumbent Dan Saltzman, down toward the bottom there's William Dickey of Witham & Dickey giving old Big Pipe $250.

That "clean money" sure gets around.

The elephant in the room

Now that we've seen what's been happening with Portland's new taxpayer financing system for political campaigns, can you imagine what goes on in some places around the state with vote-by-mail? How many people sell their ballot and signature? How many people just turn it over to someone else and let them do the voting? How many people use duress to gain control of helpless people's votes?

No, wait, I forgot, this is Oregon. Human nature doesn't apply here. There's no fraud -- there's no sense in even looking into it. Everything's fine... vital linchpin... creative class... we love dreamers... shake up City Hall...

Monday, April 10, 2006

Emilie Boyles's "clean money" -- it's half gone

While the City of Portland and the State of Oregon play "go fish" with each other over who might investigate City Council candidate Emilie Boyles's alleged abuse of the city's lovely new "voter-owned elections" system, Boyles has spent about half the $144,900 in taxpayer dollars that the city paid her to finance her campaign.

According to the campaign finance report she filed today, Boyles has spent $73,711 and has $76,144 in the bank. (I'm not sure if that's a "today" number -- it may very well be as of March 31.)

As was ably reported by Betsy at Metroblogging earlier this evening, Boyles paid $15,000 to Vladimir Golovan, the signature-gatherer whose creativity has Boyles in hot water. But to add to the weirdness, she reports paying him with five separate $3,000 checks, issued one each day for five days in a row between February 27 and March 3. (She got her "clean money" from the city on February 24.) Something similar was done with Aaron Minoo, her campaign manager, whom the Boyles campaign paid $3,200 each day for four days, and $2,400 on the fifth day, for $15,200 -- plus another $800 before the City Hall gravy train pulled in.

Boyles also paid her 16-year-old daughter, who just finished high school, $12,500 in three checks on consecutive days over that same period.

Betsy's got more, but that's enough for me. I've lost track amidst the current Portland meltdown -- did the state attorney general's office ever agree to take over this case? The last I heard, the Portland police didn't want to deal with it -- they asked the state to take over. But I never heard whether the folks in Salem accepted the invitation.

I do know that if somebody doesn't act soon, the other half of the $144,900 is about to disappear. Who's in charge at this point? Do we have a name? It certainly isn't the name Sten or Blackmer, the architects of the brave new world.

Perhaps the biggest kick I got out of reading Boyles's report was her moniker for the public campaign finance system. She calls it "resident-owned elections," rather than "voter-owned," because, as she and her pals have ably shown, you certainly don't need real Portland voters' signatures and contributions to snooker $150,000 out of the City Council.

Boyles ought to put in for a finance job at OHSU.

Where those "clean" tax dollars are going

Well, it's that time again. The candidates for municipal office in Portland have reported on where their campaign money is coming from, and where it's going. For politics fans in town, it's a field day. Betsy over at Metroblogging Portland has picked up a couple of interesting things out of Emilie Boyles's expenditures -- including $15,000 paid to Vladimir Golovan, whose antics crashed her campaign -- and so we'll start elsewhere.

How about the godfather of "clean money" himself, incumbent Erik Sten? We already know where his "seed money" has been coming from. But what has he been blowing the taxpayers' dime on?

$10,600 to Grove Insight for polling. How much does it cost to find out that every pet project you've pushed for 10 years is now a liability?

$2,400 to Mandate Media for web services. This, of course, is the outfit run by Kari Chisholm, host of BlueOregon, where Portland "progressives" gather 'round the Kool-Aid and get defensive about Sten.

$2,033 to an advertising outfit in Omaha, Nebraska. What, he didn't use a Portland firm, like Gard & Gerber?

Just over $5,600 to C&E Systems to deal with the accounting and reporting hassles that come with being a political candidate in Portland.

And yes, the jugglers at his kickoff event did indeed juggle for free.

Actually, it could have been much worse. Still, pardon the broken record, but I don't think the average Joe out there in town should have paid for any of it before getting a chance to vote on the prospect.

Is there an echo in here?

Friday, this.

Sunday, this.

On March 23, this.

Today, this illustrated by this.

On Feb. 24, this.

On April 3, this.

Somebody looks tired.

Sunday, April 9, 2006

Tax teaser

It's tax time again across this great nation, and here's a federal income tax question that's come across my desk. I throw it out here for discussion among any seasoned tax practitioners out there who think they might have a definitive answer.

Here's the setup. Prototypical family of four: mom, dad, two little kids. The kids are the parents' dependents. They all live together in the same house. The parents' income is too great to qualify for the $1,000-per-child child credit, which "phases out" once one's income starts to enter upper-middle-class, for either child.

The older of the two kids (call him Dave) has some income from investments that the parents have put in his name -- so much so that Dave owes a small amount of income tax for the year.

Is it true that Dave can take the child credit for his brother, Ricky, on Dave's tax return?

Under recent changes to the tax laws, Ricky would be a "qualifying child" both as to the parents and as to Dave. If the parents claimed the child credit for Ricky, Dave clearly couldn't do so. But the parents are claiming only the dependency exemption, a deduction, for Ricky -- not the child credit.

So, can Dave take the child credit for Ricky? Before you say "no," consider that:

(a) There's a Form 8901 on which Dave could list Ricky as a "qualifying child" who's not Ricky's dependent; and

(b) On the Form 1040, there's a box that the parents check to show whether Ricky, though listed as dependent, is or is not their "qualfying child" for child credit purposes.

My faithful TurboTax program gives some fairly sketchy guidance on this point, and it doesn't even support Form 8901. The legislative history of the "qualfying child" provisions, which took effect in 2005, doesn't contain a conclusive answer -- at least, not one that I'm seeing.

As we say on the final exams, discuss.

The party's over

The election's drawing near. The press calls it "the May 16 primary," but that's bogus, because here in Oregon, everyone votes by mail (even dead people, I suspect). The ballots will go out to the voters beginning on April 28, and lots of folks will turn them back in way before the May 16 deadline.

Which reminds me: Kulongoski? Hill? Zzzzz. I'd rather sign a petition for Ben Westlund. But if you want to make that signature count, as explained here, you have to either (a) drop out of any organized political party by April 25 (two weeks from this coming Tuesday) or (b) refrain from voting at all, on anything, in the primary.

Since there's no Democratic Party primary race that I give two hoots about this year (or most years, for that matter), I'm there:

If you're up for the same, you can go here and get the form.

Saturday, April 8, 2006

Two thumbs up for "Varekai"

"Varekai," the Cirque du Soleil show currently playing in the big tent under the Marquam Bridge just south of downtown Portland, is a winner. For a road version of the time-worn Cirque formula, it went well beyond our expectations. The performers are first-rate, and they are surrounded with exactly the right amount of the schmaltz and schtick that this company is known for.

A few years back, we saw "Dralion," and were disappointed. But this is a much brighter and more coherent show. There is joy in all the acts, and the clowns are funny. Luckily, some friends invited my daughter and me to join them, when we otherwise would have passed. It would have been a shame to miss it.

Oh, and if you've never been to Cirque du Soleil, you may not know what the human body is capable of until you go.

Friday, April 7, 2006

More on the Dagoba Chocolate lead recall

Here's a new posting on the Dagoba Chocolate lead recall website that doesn't exactly inspire confidence:

NOTE: UPDATE as of 4/7/06: We have added two lots of Eclipse and extended the date code range for Eclipse broken bars. These changes are marked with an asterisk (*). ...

1) Dagoba Organic Eclipse 87% Extra Dark, 2 oz bar
UPC 8-10474-00113-3
12 – 2 oz. bars per case/144 bars per master case
LOT CODE Year/month/day === Distribution Dates
* 2006111110 === 11/10-11/16/05
* 20061116 === 11/16-11/22/06...

6) Dagoba Organic Eclipse 87%“Broken Bars” Forest Grown Organic Dark Chocolate, 1.5 lb bulk bags
UPC: None
1.5 lb bulk bags/ 10 per case
Lot # Distribution Dates
* all === 8/1/05-3/24/06

Here's what it said yesterday, and still says today, further down the page:

Q: Are other Dagoba products affected by this recall?

A: No. We have fully tested all Dagoba products and have determined that all other Dagoba products are safe and within the FDA's guidelines for lead.

Uh huh.

UPDATE, 4/8, 3:32 a.m.: Interesting -- sometime this evening they rewrote that last Q and A to read as follows:

Q: Are other Dagoba products besides Eclipse 87%, Los Rios 68% and Prima Materia 100% affected by this recall?

A: No. We have fully tested all Dagoba products and have determined that all other Dagoba products are safe and within the FDA's guidelines for lead.

Stay tuned.

Tram news

Saltzman gave in. What a guy. What a city government.

The Complete Internal Revenue Code Podcast Project

I've enjoyed blogging for nearly four years now, but long-time readers know that I've longed to branch out into cutting-edge ancillary activities like podcasting. Lately I've also been thinking about possible ways to combine blogging with my professional bailiwick, the federal tax laws.

Well, yesterday, right in the middle of a scintillating lecture I was giving on the wonders of carryover basis, a brilliant idea struck. I'm surprised I didn't have this flash of genius sooner. Of course! Why not make the entire tax code available via podcast?

I'm all about public service, and I could not think of a more worthy internet project than to record a reading of the Internal Revenue Code for those who love to download mp3's and play them back on their iPods. You've heard of books on tape? How about tax law coming through those earbuds? Let's kick it with Title 26, people!

Plus, blessed are the peacemakers -- this will help prevent and resolve disputes among tax specialists who find themselves in disagreement with each other about how they remember some provision or other. If they have a computer handy, they can just click on the applicable Code section on the podcast page, and even if they're too impaired to read all of the statutory provisions, they can play them back and hear their exact language over and over until the differences of opinion are ironed out. If it saves one life, it's worth it.

Of course, you can't put the entire Code in a single sound file -- that would be too big for the portable players to handle. Instead, to keep this a handy resource, I'm going to record one section of the Code each day in a separate file, from now until I have them all posted on the official project website. I think there are a few thousand Code sections, and so the entire project will take several years, but think of how we'll all feel when we're done! It will be like mapping the human genome.

And when that happy day comes, we can go right back to section 1 and start all over, because heaven knows, it will have changed several times by then.

So here it is, people. I've got big plans for the site -- advertising, celebrity readers, on-location recordings, musical backdrops -- but for now it's just straight Code, no chaser. You can tell your grandkids that you were there on day 1. Because here's the official project page, where you can find section 1 of the Code waiting for you. And it's absolutely free. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 6, 2006

New Foxworth charge

Apparently, he's been moonlighting as a columnist on the internet.

No "clean money" for Lucinda Tate

It's official.

Wednesday, April 5, 2006

Emilie gets religion

Emilie Boyles, the Portland City Council candidate who's sitting on about $145,000 of city money that it appears she's not entitled to -- "clean money" (sure) under the wonderful "voter-owned elections" public campaign finance system -- has two messages tonight for us Portlanders who paid it:

1. It's all Erik Sten's fault. (I'm not kidding, that's what she says.)

2. It's time for all people of God, like Emilie, to "pray for Portland."

Man, they're smoking some good stuff out in Felony Flats these days.

Dagoba Chocolate recall: Corporate mindscrew in progress

I got an e-mail message this evening from someone at Dagoba Organic Chocolate, following up on my inquiry regarding the lead recall on its chocolate bars.

It's corporate irresponsibility at its worst. Here's the whole exchange, unedited:

Thanks for the letter and your enjoyment of Eclipse. It is my personal favorite You can find details of our testing methods in the FAQ on our website. We require a certificate of analysis for every cacao shipment and accept only clean shipments. We are testing the shipment on our end as well.

Regarding health effects, please not this item from our web FAQ

Q: Should I be concerned if I just ate one bar or a few bars over a few weeks?

A: The press release we developed in cooperation with the FDA specifically
references consumption over a "routine basis (daily for a period of several
weeks)" and "sustained consumption of products", with special reference to "a
child or fetus". Please bear these in mind and assess your situation
accordingly. If you ate just a few bars over a few months, you are well under
the routine/sustained consumption.

Know that we take all customer concerns seriously, and encourage you to
see your
family physician if you experience symptoms, and follow up with us as needed
immediately. Our insurance agent is available to open claims as needed. You
can find a list of symptoms at www.cdc.gov/lead.

Regarding the tests, product that has been open could have been
contaminated by
other sources so it a test would not give you an accurate reading. When we
send samples for testing, we have to package them right off the line and seal
the bags.

Thanks again and please stay in touch,

Melissa Schweisguth
Changemaker/Marketing & Communications

Quoting Jack Bogdanski:

> To Dagoba Organic Chocolate:
> I am a customer who has consumed multiple Eclipse 87% bars, including
> about half of a 2-ounce bar that was from one of the lots involved in
> the lead recall (see attached photo of unconsumed portion).
> I would like to know the detailed results and methodologies of all
> the tests conducted in connection with this incident, both before and
> after the recall was issued. Is this information available to
> consumers who know that they ate the recalled products?
> Will Dagoba reimburse me for the cost of my having my unconsumed
> partial bar independently tested for lead?
> Will Dagoba reimburse me for the cost of my undergoing independent
> medical testing for lead poisoning?
> Please forward detailed responses to these three question to me at
> this e-mail address. Given the seriousness of this matter, a prompt
> reply is requested.
> Thank you.
> John A. Bogdanski
> Portland, Oregon

This is worse than your worst nightmare of a response that you would have gotten from General Foods. Weaselly.

(Complete Dagoba Recall archives here.)

What Dagoba Chocolate won't tell you

Dagoba Organic Chocolate in Ashland is refusing to reveal the results of tests that they say show unsafe levels of lead in some of their chocolate bars. There's an article about this in today's Oregonian, and a call I placed to the company today confirm that Dagoba will not voluntarily release the test results. According to two company employees with whom I spoke today, the "results are so varied" that the company doesn't feel it's appropriate to post them.

Perhaps a lawsuit and a subpoena would help them see the light. But in the meantime, they suggest that if you ate one of the recalled products, you see your doctor. Will they pay for that doctor visit, a test for lead, and whatever followup is needed? So far, another no-answer. For that, they refer us to their liability insurer. More on that shortly.

A complete list of the recalled product lots is posted here. What you're supposed to do if you ate one of these products and foolishly threw away the wrapper is anyone's guess.

Not even light can escape

Objects passing too close to a black hole are sucked in by its enormous centripetal force. (Photo courtesy NASA.)

Tuesday, April 4, 2006

Cops may pass buck on "clean money" scam charges

It looks as though the Portland police are rejecting the city auditor's request to investigate alleged fraud in the "voter-owned elections" scandal. According to this blog post, the local bluecoats are turning the matter over the state attorney general's office and asking that office to do the detective work.

In the meantime, the $145,000 or so of "clean money" paid out to the Boyles campaign continues to be unaccounted for by the city. Wonderful.

OHSU files default notice on tram

This just in from Pill Hill honcho Steve Stadum:

To the OHSU community:

The Portland Aerial Tram will be in the news a lot
this week, so I wanted to give you another update on
the project.

We remain optimistic that the new funding proposal
developed by the Portland Development Commission
under Mayor Tom Potter's leadership will win
approval by the City Council.

The current proposal includes contributions from
OHSU, our private development partners and the city.
It provides for all of the South Waterfront District
needs * affordable housing, greenway, parks * while
also taking care of the tram.

Because of recent statements by city commissioners,
we feel that we must pursue some legal steps as
well. We filed a notice of default with the city
this morning, to preserve our ability to go to
court, if necessary, to compel the city to continue
construction on the tram. We recently sought an
outside legal opinion which confirms that the city
has an obligation to finish the tram.

We hope it won't be necessary to go into litigation
over the tram, but we must and will take the steps
necessary to safeguard OHSU's interests as events
move forward in the next few weeks.

Please click here to read our media release:

The Portland Department of Transportation's Web site
keeps up-to-date information and photos of tram
construction. Here's the link:


Steve Stadum
Chief Administrative Officer

To the courtroom we go!

I may have been poisoned by Dagoba Chocolate

A story in the middle of yesterday morning's paper catches my eye right away. Dagoba Organic Chocolate down in Ashland is recalling a bunch of its chocolate bars and drops because there's an unsafe level of lead in them.

OMG. I love dark chocolate, the blacker and more bitter the better, and I've had my fair share of Dagoba over the last six months or so. So I read on and find that one of my favorite varieties, "Eclipse," is indeed on the recall list.

So it's over to the fridge I go -- the chocolate bars are stashed on top -- and I pull down two and a half bars while I check the lot numbers on the backs against the lots listed in the newspaper story:

The recalled products are:

Dagoba Organic Eclipse 87 percent Extra Dark, 2-ounce bar, lot codes 20061122, 20061130, 20061201, 20061206, 20061213, 20061214, 20061219, 20061227, 20070103, 20070116, 20070130, 20070213, 20070220, 20070227, 20070306 and 20070313.

Dagoba Organic Los Rios 68 percent -- Ecuador Arriba, 2-ounce bar, lot codes 20070213, 20070223 and 20070323.

Dagoba Organic Prima Materia 100 percent -- Ecuador Arriba, 2-pound brick, lot code 20070109.

Dagoba Organic Los Rios Choco Drops 68 percent -- Ecuador Arriba Nacional, 5-pound foil bag, lot code 20070222.

Dagoba Organic Los Rios 68 percent --Ecuador Arriba Nacional, 25-pound bag, lot code 310240498.

Dagoba Organic Eclipse Broken Bars Forest Grown Organic Extra Dark Chocolate, 1.5-pound bulk bags, all lot codes.

I check the two unopened, whole bars. No match. Whew. But then I take a gander at the Eclipse bar that I've already eaten half of:


So now what? My first inclinations are, of course, lawyerly ones. I would argue that I have the right to have my bar tested for its exact lead content, at Dagoba's expense. I would also argue that I have the right to have myself tested for lead, also at Dagoba's expense. We all deserve the right to know why the Dagoba folks are testing their products for lead only after they've been sold to the unsuspecting public.

Just how bad is the lead content of these products? You head on over to the recall website, and you read quite a series of non-answers.

And there'll be more to think about, no doubt. What about all the stuff I've already eaten, and thrown away the wrappers? At least my kids don't like the stuff. Lead could really harm the nervous system of the younger set.

Why do you buy a brand like Dagoba? Because it's organic. It's healthier.

Maybe not.

(Complete Dagoba Recall archives here.)

Monday, April 3, 2006

The dime has been dropped

Portland officials today called in the city's police department to investigate potential fraud in the city's new "voter-owned elections" system -- taxpayer financing of political campaigns. I can't find the official announcement anywhere, but stories are here and here.

So in the end, with three races eligible for the tax funding, only four candidates turned in the paperwork to qualify, and now two of their campaigns are under investigation for apparent falsification of signatures. Of the other two, one is the incumbent who's the architect of the system.

Somehow I'm not smelling that fresh air we were supposed to be getting out of all this.

The next "linchpin"

This month's Hollywood Star has an interesting story about what's going on (or rather, not going on) with the Burnside Bridgehead project on the east side of Portland's Burnside Bridge. Readers may recall that this was the project in which the Portland Development Commission scammed the legitimate design winner and handed his idea, along with the project, to someone else. It was back in the dying days of the Mazziotti-Hennessee (i.e., Goldschmidt) PDC, but they got the job done before then-new Mayor Tom Potter forced them to let the legit winner, Beam, have at least a piece of the deal.

Anyway, in the Star we learn this month that the developers say the project can't be built unless the taxpayers pay for and construct the Burnside-Couch "couplet," a spendy traffic re-do that's been circulating around City Hall for a few years now. Oh, and everybody's admitting that the budget for the couplet is jokingly understated, that federal funds clearly will not pay for the whole thing, and that nobody knows where the city's share is supposed to come from.

Sound familiar?

It's a not-so-old script. As reported by the Star:

Wood and other Opus representatives... have said that one thing they need is assurance that the creation of a Burnside-Couch one-way couplet will eventually happen.... Bob Wentworth, Rich Parker and Tim Holmes of the Central East Side Industrial District, and Bruce Wood and Brian Bennett of Opus Northwest said the couplet was essential for future economic development.... [Planner Bill] Hoffman said a preliminary estimate of the cost of the east side work is $16 million, 'and that will almost certainly change.'... Hoffman... added, 'It's not unusual for projects like this to proceed while fundraising is still in motion.'"
That last one is a real howler. Wow, all that's missing is Matt Brown and Peter Kohler. Potter was smart enough not to commit city money, but he was outvoted by Fireman Randy and (of course) Opie Sten and Tram Adams. Hold onto your wallets, folks. They're talking "vital transportation link." The scam is on.


I'm voting for Amanda Fritz for Portland City Council.

She's smart, personable, energetic, and experienced enough not to be duped by the wiley coyotes who constantly stalk the corridors of City Hall. She has bona fide credentials as a concerned citizen who's donated countless hours of her time for the civic good. She's not afraid to stand up to the big boys. When it's the neighbors against the bureaucracy, she's been on the right side, working behind the scenes as well as out front, as the situation demands.

Fritz will not be the perfect city commissioner. For example, I doubt that her union background will let her see the forest for the trees on the police and fire pension and disability mess. And in some ways she's too good a politician -- her answers to pointed questions leave lots of room for interpretation, and you can almost see where the later backtracking might come. But on the whole, her heart appears to be in the right place, and she'd certainly shake things up in muncipal government more than her predecessors who have made empty promises of change.

The incumbent has little or nothing to show for his eight years in office. His few moves "for the children" are nice enough, but they fail to make up for the many failures that have occurred on his watch. For example, he was the engineer on the council when the OHSU aerial tram [rim shot] was passed on a laughably dishonest low-ball budget. He was either in on the scam, or too slow to see it. And his conduct in the Mount Tabor Reservoir cover fiasco -- steadfastly giving the neighborhood the finger until some of his rich west side friends decided that the open water appealed to their art gallery sensibilities -- was unforgivable. It's time for new blood.

For a while, I toyed with the idea of holding off endorsing Fritz -- perhaps backing Lucinda Tate or Sharon Nasset. But now that Tate's "clean money" bid has apparently resorted to the hanky-panky that's been going on with the alleged donations from the Slavic community, she's out. And although I like Nasset's resume, and I hope to get another chance to vote for her in the future, she just doesn't seem ready for a prime time win just yet.

It's entirely possible that neither Tate nor Nasset will draw enough votes away from Saltzman and Fritz to guarantee a runoff. This one could very well be decided in the primary. And so now's the time to get behind Amanda. I'm not naive about what she can and can't do, but I'm happy to join her supporters.

Sunday, April 2, 2006

Desperate plea

No problem

From today's Kohler-Coaster rehash in the O:

Meanwhile on Thursday, Kohler and Stadum visited Commissioner Dan Saltzman, pleading for more city money.
Go ahead, Dan. Give in. That city commissioner job is getting old anyway, right?

Saturday, April 1, 2006

Family dinner date

The neighborhood grocery stores are gone, but we just paid another fine visit to our favorite neighborhood restaurant. Great food and drink are only part of it. It's where we go as a family to take stock of what's been happening in our lives. And right now, it's all good.

No joke -- we've been down

Very late last night, I decided to do some end-of-the-month housekeeping, including some backups, and inadvertently I managed to take this site off line for a goodly number of hours. I have since sleuthed the source of the problem, and it is now corrected... I hope.

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