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

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January 2007 Archives

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

What Opie's doing while you're talking to him

Too funny.

Portlander Robert Caldwell arrested!

But it's not the Oregonian editorial page editor. It's some other guy named Robert Caldwell, apparently an export broker of some sort, operating out of the 97209 zip code. And he's accused of trying to buy batteries for Hawk missiles, for sale to Iran.

Big no-no, Bob!

Remember the main

The City of Portland's official water bureau blog reports today on an old soldier who's finally retiring after 112 years of service.

Fill 'er up

Today is payday where I work. Due to the Christmas holidays, our last payday was December 22. That means it hasn't "rained" in 40 days and 40 nights. The holiday credit card bills have come and gone since then. And so, as of yesterday, at our house we were officially running on fumes.

Remember three years ago, when the Oregon Legislature scheduled a vote on a tax increase for January 27? That was one of their better ones. Good times.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Cop union to Potter: Play along or else

The O's reporting on this letter from Portland police union boss Robert King to Mayor Tom Potter. In it, the union accuses the mayor, a former police chief, of joining a media effort to undermine public trust in the force:

lnstead of providing leadership to broaden people's understanding of what we do, you followed the lead of the media and their single-minded focus on controversy. Instead of helping build the trust you say is so important, you are helping to erode it.
Interestingly, the first letters of the paragraphs of King's letter, when taken together, spell out the words, "We still have the photos."

I hope Grampy runs for re-election. It will be the most fun any of us has had since ex-Chief Foxworth's "chocolate thunder" e-mails came out.


Oh, man. Bob Miller sent me this, which he picked up from Oregon Media Insiders. It's a site with a ton of old Portland TV and radio clips. Old, as in the early '80s.

Goodbye, productivity for the day! Check out this one.

Costco on coupons: It's not a bait-and-switch

For what it's worth, Sunday's rant about the unavailability of coupon-discounted items at our local Costco warehouse has been responded to by a staffer at the warehouse chain's Northwest regional office. Here it is:

We apologize for being out of stock on the Huggies Baby Wipes and the Western Digital Hard drive. The warehouse should have offered you a rain check. It sounds like it was not handled properly. Please let me know which warehouse you shop at and I will let you know when the warehouse will receive the product. I will also make sure you get a rain check.

The wipes and the hard drive should be in the warehouses by the end of the week. We had under projected on the quantities needed for the wipes and the vendor only shipped us 1/2 the quantities projected on the hard drive. We know you don't want excuses, you just want the product in stock when you shop. It is not a case of bait and switch. The vendor covers the coupon discount so it's to our advantage to maximize sales on the coupon items. We don't want to be out of stock! Thank you for your comments and again we apologize for the inconvenience.

Gary Giacomi
Costco Wholesale
Vice President, GMM Non-Foods
NW Regional Office
Phone: 425.313.8380
Fax: (425) 313-8445

It's going to be hard to make the diapers-and-wipes thing work. We already bought a supply of the diapers, and a supply of a different brand of wipes, and the user of those items in our house is almost through needing them. I may go for the hard drive, but I've been warned by a commenter on Sunday's post that that particular model doesn't have a good performance record.

Anyway, Costco has responded. I still give them an 8.

History blog alert

In the Portland blogosphere, it doesn't get any better than Dan Haneckow's Cafe Unknown. Today he's got up one of his best posts ever, on the history of the Ladd & Tilton Bank Building -- including a fantastic twist involving a certain city to our south.

Take a cha-cha-cha-chance

Best wishes to Vice President Dick Cheney, who turns 66 today.

How do you think he's celebrating?

Portland's parks are broke

Interesting story in the Trib today. The city's parks are crumbling, with no improvement in sight. No wonder Dan "Profiles in Courage" Saltzman is trying to sell them off. They're broke.

Just like the schools.

Just like the police bureau.

Just like the transportation department.

But hey! Streetcars!

Aerial tram, people! New York Times! Whee!

Shiny! Snazzy!

How about a convention center hotel? What, you don't want it? O.k., we'll do an end run with Metro!

Linchpins, baby! We're heading for bankruptcy, but boy, do we ever have linchpins!

Brain dump

I woke up this morning from a technicolor dream. I was walking through my childhood neighborhood on the east side of Newark, seeing the old haunts with new eyes. I walked past the gin mill where my dad and his buddies used to hang out. The place was still there, open for business in the gray hours before dawn, and one man who was walking up ahead of me turned in there. "They're open that early for guys who work nights," my parents would say. Not this guy. He was an all-day boozer on his way to work.

I crossed the street with my dad next to me; he was limping along, grumbling about something. The tenement house across from the bar had been torn down, leaving a grassy lot with a dog house on it. Just then I noticed that I had a large, but incredibly light, stuffed animal draped over my shoulders. I looked down the street, across the railroad tracks, toward the three-story walkup where an old girlfriend lived. It was raining, and the street was flooded. The walkup was gone, and there were rows of apartment buildings up there in the distance. Cars slowed down to try to get through the water.

Along the avenue that ran behind ours, there were slices of processed American cheese scattered on the wet pavement. I looked inside some garages that lined the sidewalk, and there was solid cheese everywhere, six inches deep. "They are going to have a mouse problem," I thought as I picked up my step. It was that marbled blend of white and orange cheese.

I passed another tavern on the corner. The one where the black people used to drink. The place with the apartments upstairs -- where people had died in a wintery Friday night fire. The place was still there, painted green, but the windows were all boarded up, most of them with a neat, white X painted on the boards in the window.

I don't know what any of that means. And I'm pretty sure I don't want to.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Just a kiss away

They've started ripping the bus shelters out of the transit mall in downtown Portland. They're still perfectly good, of course -- the whole mall re-do is a nine-figure waste of money -- but the old shelters are going to be dismantled and recycled. Replacements will be in place when the stops finally reopen a couple of years from now.

The grand old shelters were around for just short of 30 years, by my count. I recall standing beneath them, looking up at those TV screens with the schedules and staring at the bus route maps, many a night on my way home from my downtown job. All kinds of times, good and bad. They kept out the rain, they let in the light. They had pay phones in them -- remember those?

Farewell, friends. They weren't kidding when they said, Sic transit gloria mundi.

That's... o.k., because he's good enough, he's smart enough...

Al Franken's leaving Air America, the lefty radio network that's been looking for (and apparently has now found) a buyer. Franken's to be replaced by Portland's own Thom Hartmann.

Bad to worse?

The Electoral College is a drag, but I don't think this is the answer. Although it would clearly be a field day for lawyers -- could even result in a Bush v. Gore-style constitutional crisis.

Gig of the Month

Who says there aren't enough jobs in Portland for the creative class? The city is looking for someone to provide "management and financial services" in connection with extending the inane streetcar system over to the Idaho side of the Willamette. Apparently the goal is to get a "small starts" grant from the Federal Transportation Administration. (The Lake Oswego streetcar is also up for such a grant.)

The pay for these services? Estimated at a cool $270,000, for 12 months of work beginning in March.

And don't forget this:

For purposes of review and in the interest of the City's Sustainable Paper Use Policy and sustainable business practices in general, the City encourages the use of submittal materials (i.e. paper, dividers, binders, brochures, etc.) that contain post-consumer recycled content and are readily recyclable. The City discourages the use of materials that cannot be readily recycled such as PVC (vinyl) binders, spiral bindings, and plastic or glossy covers or dividers. Alternative bindings such as reusable/recyclable binding posts, reusable binder clips or binder rings, and recyclable cardboard/paperboard binders are examples of preferable submittal materials. Proposers are encouraged to print/copy on both sides of a single sheet of paper wherever applicable; if sheets are printed on both sides, it is considered to be two pages. Color is acceptable, but content should not be lost by black-and-white printing or copying.
Got it.

Honey, I shrunk the collection

I love virtually everything about the Multnomah County Library -- particularly the great staff over at our branch in Albina -- but last week's story in the O about how many items walk out of the library and never return is cause for concern. In this day of bar codes and tattle tape, there must be something that can be done -- why is nobody coming up with a solution?

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Blue note at Costco: bait-and-switch coupons

Let me start this post by noting that generally, I am a highly satisfied member of Costco. I've written about it on this blog a few times. But my experience of the last week and a half at our local Costco warehouse has caused a downgrade in my opinion of the place -- from a 9 to an 8.

The problem is a coupon book that arrived at the house shortly after Christmas. It included tickets for all sorts of great deals from Jan. 8 to Jan. 28:

Two items in the book caught my eye. One was $8 off on diapers and baby wipes -- our littlest one is just about out of dipes, but we still need a supply. The other was $15 off on a 160GB external hard drive. One of my New Year's resolutions is to get all of our digital photographs in good order, and a USB add-on drive is a key part of the plan.

I went out to Costco three times during the three-week special deal period to try to buy these items. Not only were the hard drive and the baby wipes not in stock, but there wasn't even a place anywhere in the store that looked as though they had ever been in stock. On the 19th -- my second try -- I was assured that shipments of both were supposed to arrive on the 25th. They weren't certain what time on the 25th, but some time that day.

I showed up first thing in the morning on the 26th, and neither item was anywhere to be found. A young man in the electronics department told me that some of the hard drives had arrived on the 25th, but they were all pulled for customers who had rain checks. When I then went to the member services desk to inquire, however, I was told that no rain check could be issued to me. (Of course, no one said anything to me about rain checks the first two times I asked after these items, either.)

The gal behind the desk gave me her best helpless peon act, mumbling something about it being a manufacturer's issue, as if the lack of adequate supply in the warehouse was somehow the manufacturer's fault. Of course, it wasn't a manufacturer's coupon I was holding in my hand -- it was a Costco coupon. But that did not appear to register with her as a fact of any significance. She also asked whether I had driven around to the other Costco warehouses in the area to seek out the bargains there. Of course not, and I wasn't about to.

Of course, there were plenty of other hard drives and baby wipes on the floor, ready for purchase. But there were no deals to be had on them, and the coupons wouldn't work.

The hard drive coupon says that that item is also available on costco.com. But by the time I got home on the 26th, at least, it wasn't. No sign of it there.

So there you have it, my first bad Costco incident in memory. Obviously, they lured people into the store and onto their website with coupons that they knew they'd never be able to fulfill. The staff gave conflicting advice -- or no advice at all -- about the availability of rain checks. And they tried to pass the blame off on the manufacturers of the goods, when from all appearances the extreme shortages were all Costco's doing.

Bait-and-switch coupons, even if legal, are bad business practice. The $23 in savings that I didn't get, despite three trips out there to get them, pale in comparison to the hit to customer goodwill that this kind of thing causes. The next time a Costco coupon book shows up, I'll be taking its claims with a large grain of salt.

She's got a point

A while back, the place that cut my hair at the time sold me some "product" -- their word for hair goo. When I got it home, I learned something they didn't tell me at the salon: This stuff smells like mangoes. Now, I'm not talking slightly like mangoes, people -- I'm talking major fruit-fly magnet. Unfortunately, I was looking for an everyday do-maker, and I definitely couldn't handle being identified as the guy who always smelled like that. And so to the back of the lower regions of the bathroom cabinets went the garishly colored tube of whatever it was.

Until tonight. Tonight I was feeling kind of frisky, and given that I just had my ears lowered yesterday, I figured I could use a little extra grippage on the ever-thinning mane. And so, on my way out to a geezer birthday party, a little dab did me.

Well, that was going to be that, until I got to the function and they handed me a cocktail made of some kind of white hooch and a combination of pomegranate and mango juices. "Mango! Wow!" I said, and I explained how my hair dressing matched the night's libations. "Smell my head!" I blurted out gleefully.

A good old friend of the female persuasion looked at me with thinly veiled scorn and responded, "I don't think that line is going to work for you."

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Live remote from Seattle

One of our far-flung travel correspondents files this report from the Emerald City:

There is no escape, Jack. Here my friend and I are in Seattle for a relaxing weekend getaway, and lo and behold on the newspaper that shows up outside our hotel room door there is No Escape. FRONT PAGE FEATURE: our Silver TRAM.

Then we go down to Pike Street Market for breakfast and start reading about our wonderful silver bubbles in the sky, and the couple at the next table ask where they can get a paper. I offer them pieces of ours including the front page, and the lady utters that unmistakable phrase for Portlanders in the know, TRAM SCAM when she sees the front page. I ask, "From Portland, are you?" They were. Next question: are you a fan of Jack's Bog's blog? Of course. So you see, Jack, there is no escape.

While walking down Pike Street near the market to find a restaurant, we would highly recommend the one we found, 97 Stewart, run by a couple of refugees from bad times in the Longview, Washington economy. Really close to the Inn at the Market. Their restaurant in Longview was the Rusty Duck. The place was full, toney, and absolutely divine.

There are condos galore popping up all over the area, and the homeless population is exploding according to the count done yesterday. We were accosted on our way out to dinner by a street person, obviously off his meds, and in a brand new blanket from the night before's homeless head count exercise. He called my card-carrying ACLU friend a Nazi Fascist Pig, when he wouldn't fork over any cash.

The downtown looks like the Georgetown conversion I witnessed over the years, from owner shops with really neat stuff to the same old Sharper Image mix that you find at every mall. Not much fun any more to shop. I talked to some of the market vendors; the Pike Street Market proper still has a lot of regular folks. We chatted and bought some things, they asked about our market in Portland, and I said we were worried they were going to be hurt by the relocation. They said our Market people should fight like they did; they were able to keep their space.

Well that's about all, we have a 1 p.m. checkout, so have to go.

Friday, January 26, 2007

More on the jerk bus driver in Eugene

The guy who separated a panicked passenger from his two small kids told his side of the story to the Register-Guard, and they published it today. For me, the only way his story hangs together is if the guy's hearing is so badly impaired that he couldn't make out what the passengers were screaming. Even after the incident was over, he still didn't realize what had happened. Should drivers be that oblivious to what's transpiring behind them? You've got to wonder if maybe another line of work wouldn't suit him better.

Surprise! Special meeting!

Boy, that life-affirming public involvement spirit at Portland City Hall never quits. Tonight at 6:23 p.m. they send out a notice that there's going to be a special meeting of the "voter-owed elections" commission this coming Monday evening starting at 5:30 in the afternoon.

Geez, even people with no lives may not be able to make that one.

New streetcar builder is a Bush-Cheney man

As the spectacular waste of money known as the Portland streetcar keeps spreading like a giant, sticky puddle of red ink, now comes word that some of the cars may eventually be built locally. Our congressional pork-catchers just made the much-anticipated announcement that Oregon Iron Works, with facilities in Clackamas and Vancouver, will be developing the capability to build its own streetcars, in hopes of selling them to sucker municipalities all over the country.

So who is Oregon Iron Works? A quick run through the web shows that it's a substantial steel fabrication outfit run by a guy named Terry Aarnio, who, lo and behold, apparently likes to give his money to George Bush and the Republican National Committee; he stood in line to kiss Dick Cheney's ring when the Dickster lurched into town a few years ago. But then, knowing on which side his bread is buttered, Aarnio's also coughed up a few bucks for the campaigns of Patty Murray and Brian Baird, the incumbents up in Vancouver, where he's got a ton of dough invested in plant.

Oregon Iron Works also recently announced that it's branching out into building ocean-going barges. Little wonder, then, that Aarnio's been known to shoot a few hundred bucks now and then to guys like Jim Oberstar, the Minnesota Democratic congressman who's running the House transportation committee.

But Aarnio's political contributions are nothing compared to what his company pays out to Ball Janik for lobbying. Oregon Iron Works apparently does a lot of work for the Pentagon -- that likely explains all the Gucci Gulch activity.

Anyway, in the end, it's nice to see that some of the federal dollars we're burning for the shiny condo-selling toys are staying local. Not in Multnomah County, of course -- nothing real is made here any more -- but at least there should be some additional building activity in Clackamas and the 'Couv.

Alas, we'll get no help from anybody on the millions needed to operate the streetcar every year. That part will continue to come straight from the Portland taxpayers -- the ones who are paralyzed at the first sign of a snowflake because the city can't afford a snow plow.

Out with the real, in with the fake

Another piece of Portlandia is about to fall. Granted, it's not as big a loss as the Virginia Cafe will be, and it may not be the unmitigated disaster that's going on at 26th and Division. But the look and feel of another great Rose City intersection is about to go the way of all flesh.

It's the muy funky Hungry Tiger at East 28th and Burnside, along with the former site of old Fairly Honest Bill's next door. The wrecking ball is on its way.

Coming in its place? All together now... that's right...

Four stories of condos!

Just what we need! I can't wait. Don't worry, there'll be retail on the ground floor. There's already a Starbucks at that intersection and a Subway sandwich shop a few blocks up the road -- maybe a Cricket store and a Baskin Robbins would be nice.

And why stop there? Let's think big. Maybe they can run Esparza's and Holman's out next. Mmmm, think Tony Roma's and the Olive Garden.

All come to look for Amerika

The excrement that passes for justice under the Bush administration becomes ever more foul each week. Now we learn of secret courts where the judges aren't allowed to keep copies of their own case files -- and they have to compose their opinions on government prosecutors' computers. The prosecutors, meanwhile, don't file any papers with the court -- they file them with themselves.

And it's all over domestic spying, of course. Dumb and mean.

Worst. President. Ever. It isn't even close.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Your underwear is causing global warming

A fascinating piece in today's Times shows that, because it can be laundered with less energy, polyester is a more earth-friendly fabric for human garments than cotton. Plastic fantastic.

Queen of SoWhat

I see that Vera Katz showed up in her fake fur to cut the ribbon on the OHSU Health Club aerial tram [rim shot]. Basking in the eerie glow of the sterile, soulless condo jungle for which she sold the future of the city to please her heroes Neil Goldschmidt and Homer Williams, she's still making speeches. Enjoying the spotlight yet again. Carpe diem, dear, because history is not going to be kind to you.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Game report: Blazers 101, Timberwolves 98 (OT)

What was supposed to be a boring mid-season NBA game between two mediocre teams turned into an action-packed barnburner at the Rose Garden tonight, and the Blazers prevailed over the once-proud Minnesota Timberwolves in an overtime game that left most of the sparse crowd hoarse.

The Wolves had just fired their coach and were coming in on a four-game losing streak. Portland had been fizzling out of late, with some early-season successes fading into a distant memory. It promised to be a sleepwalk, following a typical NBA script -- one team building a big lead, the other making it close near the end, but the initial leader holding on for a victory.

Surprise. This thing was in doubt from start to finish, and neither team ever had a chance to get comfortable. Various players went through their ebbs and flows, and it was anybody's game. Eventually the road team's legs got just a tad rubbery, and the home team edged them out.

Just about every Blazer had some great moments. Zach Randolph, the team leader, had a frighteningly slow start, but he warmed up as the evening wore on. Backup point guard Sergio Rodriguez, normally an assist machine, found himself open for shots, which he took, and mostly made, pouring in 18 points. When Sergio's golden touch started to fade, coach Nate McMillan re-inserted Jarrett Jack into the lineup, and he made key plays on offense in the overtime period.

The performance of the Blazer big men was its usual spotty self, but McMillan wisely switched LaMarcus Aldridge and Jamaal Magloire in and out for each other down the stretch -- the former for offense, the latter for defense. It wasn't exactly a vote of confidence for either man, but they took it like the pro's that they are and did their jobs pretty well. Aldridge, who had jocked up a bunch of ugly shots early in the game, redeemed himself with two crucial free throws that saved it in the fourth quarter. Joel Przybilla spent a lot of time banging with T'wolves star Kevin Garnett. At one point, the two squared off and looked as though they might start some extracurricular activity, but they checked themselves in time to avoid that. Joel did get himself in foul trouble, however, and his night ended long before the excitement did.

Martell Webster, who was left standing around throughout much of the first half, wound up making some pretty drives and playing some gritty basketball (including snagging some fine rebounds) toward the end. Nate always has Martell in there when the chips are down, and tonight it really paid off. Ime Udoka did a workmanlike job for the relatively short time he played; his offensive rebounds were a nice contribution.

That leaves Brandon Roy, who wasn't terrible tonight but wasn't very good, either. Given his many talents, he made a difference just by being out there, I guess. And like Webster and Udoka, he worked hard on the boards -- a place where Aldridge pretty much got schooled.

Here's a word you haven't heard in connection with the Blazers in a long time, but after tonight's game, I'll say it:


It's entirely possible. The young Rose City squad isn't great, but they're very good, and coach McMillan is simply excellent. Tonight's game was a real chess match, and Nate showed his mettle. The team to beat for that last playoff slot is Minnesota. A gutsy Blazer squad showed tonight that, at least at the moment, they're actually the better of the two teams. If the Blazers play the way they're capable of, the T'wolves could be watching them on TV, and not vice versa, come the post-season.

O.k., now for the bad news. So logy was I when I left the house for this game -- as I say, I wasn't expecting much -- that I accidentally left my camera behind. Thus, you won't get the usual out-of-focus photos taken from my vantage point. But thanks to one of this blog's many patrons, we were sitting in beautiful seats, near the tunnel over by the Blazer bench, where we sat last year for this game. Yes, Paul Allen was there next to Steve Patterson, and Mo Lucas looks like he's dropped a few pounds, which is good. So now, just picture Garnett and monster guard Ricky Davis (whose great night ended a little early, thank heaven) in their visiting uniforms, and the Blazers in their home whites, and you'll have the picture. If not, there are some professional photos of tonight's game here.

I'm serious about the playoff thing.

Dismantling a royal scam

My state senator, Avel Gordly, is taking on the tow truck weasels who patrol parking lots. The people in this industry have proven themselves, by and large, to be first-class jerks. The City of Portland has been busting their chops a little, but as far as I'm concerned, the more regulation they have to deal with, the better.

Gordly has a pile of e-mails from constituents telling the usual horror stories, and she's announced a hearing on "predatory towing" before the Senate Commerce Committee next Wednesday at 3 p.m. down at the State Capitol. It should be fun, in a perverse sort of way, and let's hope something meaningful comes out of it.

Would you give your Social security number to eBay?

The IRS is pushing Congress to require online auction sites such as eBay to obtain taxpayer ID numbers from those who sell on their sites. Hundreds of thousands of people are now making a living on eBay, and the revenuers are concerned that lots of sales profit isn't being reported on sellers' tax returns. I have no problem with making people pay taxes on their gains, but are we going to feel safe giving out our numbers to yet another company that we don't really know that much about?

Smart move

Kerry's out.

So, I know it's early, but what are we thinking about this guy?

You get what you pay for

Portland Monthly keeps sending me free copies of its magazine. I think it's because I'm a member of the Oregon State Bar. Last week, while cleaning out a crowded snail mail in-box, I discovered the January issue, featuring another inane "list" -- the 339 top doctors in Portland. Why send this to all the lawyers? So they can figure out whom to sue next?

There was also an analysis of sorts of Tom Potter's first two years as Portland mayor. Executive summary: He hasn't done much, the failed school tax thing was embarrassing, and his abrupt turnaround on the steamy Foxworth e-mails was puzzling. That's it? Don't stay up nights waiting for my $4.99 to read more of that, folks.

Anyway, I see the new issue is a "list" of bars. Wow. Even in the checkout line at Fred Meyer, I'm going with Britney.

News to him

I see that Governor Ted is shocked -- shocked! -- that there's corruption in the state Corrections Department. Although he had heard something about an illegitimate child.

To me the most shocking part is that the U.S. attorney is getting around to busting some bureaucrat crooks. I wonder if she ever got her mole in Portland City Hall...

UPDATE, 9:51 a.m.: Oh, and Ted doesn't know anything about this, either.

Wazzup? Dog!

Here's a heartwarming story of how one of our local gangsta wannabes got a little more than he bargained for. Seems the script from the video game didn't quite play out.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Glaring omission

Beaverton's banning toy guns in public places.

Why isn't it also banning real guns in those places?

Make the PDC serve the poor

On my recent trip home from the Sunshine State, I spent some quality time with the Saturday Miami Herald. It's an excellent paper. One of the prominent stories that day was about complaints that the city's urban renewal agency spends all of its money on toney playgrounds for the rich -- drifting far from its supposed mission of bringing the poorer quarters of the city back to life.

"Hmmmm," I thought as I pushed the seat back on the plane. "Where have I heard that before?"

Back to Portland, I see that there's still serious talk of a proposed charter change that would rearrange the pecking order in the Rose City's urban renewal barnyard. The bone of contention at the moment is how much control the City Council gets over the runaway board and staff of the Portland Development Commission.

I favor more council control rather than less, but what real difference does that make? What's really wrong in Portland is the self-same thing that's wrong in Miami. Programs originally designed to help the poor are being subverted to create rich enclaves with all sorts of fancy amenities that even the average Portlander, much less the downtrodden, will never get to enjoy.

If we're going to have a charter change about urban renewal, Portland, let's make it a meaningful one. Rather than debate the deck chair locations on the Titanic, why not get to the iceberg that we've hit? Let's change the city charter to require that no major PDC project be undertaken unless it is demonstrated that the primary purpose and effect of the project will be to make a substantial improvement to the lives of Portland residents who are living in poverty. Without a clear re-direction such as this, it doesn't matter who's the budget boss -- all we'll get is one SoWhat after another, until the municipal bankruptcy hits.

The driver on the bus goes "No, no, no...."

I have encountered my share of rude jerk bus drivers in my time. Fortunately, by my count, it's only about 1 in 8 here in Portland. But this guy down in Eugene -- well, he takes the prize. Now, if we could just find out his name, we could give it to him.

Water, water everywhere

The City of Portland turned the "Benson bubbler" public drinking fountains back on yesterday. These are scattered throughout town, but predominantly downtown, and when they're on, they run continuously. When temperatures drop below freezing, as they did earlier this month, they're turned off so that they don't make dangerous ice.

I'll never forget the first time I encountered these. What a wonderful symbol they were of Portland. So much pure water that it could flow freely, all the time. A city so clean and safe that there was a shiny drinking fountain on every other corner. A place so civic-minded that it made a point of serving people's most basic need well.

Times change. The area's demand for water has exploded, and so the bubblers have been fixed so that they don't gush as freely. In water crunch times, they don't bubble at all. Once you see a homeless person bathe in one, your urge to use these public fountains is greatly diminished. And eventually you see that the egalitarian spirit that created and maintained these fountains has largely left town, replaced by greed.

But make no mistake, Portland still has some excellent drinking water. On my recent stint on the San Francisco Bay Area peninsula, I stayed in a great place, but you simply couldn't drink what came out of the tap. It tasted like paint, and where it splashed and was left to dry, it left a purple film. I think it ultimately came from the bay. To get back to Bull Run water was a great relief. To the extent that they symbolize the quality of what comes out of them, the Benson fountains are still worthy of a salute -- if not a salud.

Now that we're all hooked on state-sponsored gambling...

Let's turn the state gambling operations over to private corporations, each of whom will be granted a monopoly!

Monday, January 22, 2007

$57 million vistas

The views from the new Pill Hill Aerial Rapid Transit system are going to provide signature images for Portland. Here's how the north-side tram perspective on SW Gibbs Street is shaping up, as seen from Walt:

State of the Union preview

New Portland parks sponsor policy launched

The City of Portland has kicked off its corporate sponsorship program for the city's parks in style, sending out dozens of bills to businesses whose names already appear on parks and recreation facilities.

Among those dunned retroactively for naming rights were Wildwood Restuarant, for the Wildwood Trail; Pioneer Electronics, for Pioneer Courthouse Square; and Rose's Restaurant, for the International Rose Garden. "This is an important step in our continuing movement toward public-private partnerships," said Zari Santner, chief of the city's parks bureau. "We believe that the name recognition that our parks give to these businesses helps to foster goodwill on both our parts. It's a win-win situation."

City commissioner Erik Sten applauded the initiative. "It's like a few years ago, when Mayor Katz and I were proposing that we charge city contractors a fee for the right to say that they do business with us. That's important intellectual property, and I think the rates we are charging in this case are very affordable."

Not every recipient of an invoice was as enthusiastic about the program, however. "This is a ripoff," said Bob Pittock of Pittock Auto Body and Towing of Clifton, N.J. That company was billed $5,000 for the naming rights to Portland's famous Pittock Mansion. And the government of Israel has filed a diplomatic protest with the U.S. State Department over a $7,200 invoice it received for the rights to name Mount Tabor Park. "We have our legal counsel looking at the relevant treaties," said a State Department spokesperson. "It's a sensitive matter, and we don't want to rush to judgment."

The investment consulting giant Wilshire Associates released a statement Friday announcing plans to contest the $6,176 fee it has been assessed with respect to Wilshire Park. Meanwhile, Washington Mutual Bank referred all inquiries regarding the $22,500 charge it has been assessed for the name Washington Park to its attorneys, who were not immediately available for comment.

Trademark lawyers said a court battle was likely in the case of the Laurelwood Brew Pub and the Laurelthirst Pub, who were jointly billed for Laurelhurst Park. "Those names are similar," said Tony Bertucci, an intellectual property law professor at Minnesota State University, "but they're not identical. It's a close call."

The launch of the new program was not without some administrative problems. The city's billing computers mistakenly sent a statement charging $15,000 to the Montreal Expos baseball team for the name of the Portland Expo Center. That team, however was disbanded in 2004. "We were using an old tape, and a few of the invoices were sent to defunct businesses," explained Commissioner Dan Saltzman, who is in charge of the city's parks. "We are getting the kinks out now, and after a few initial minor problems, which are to be expected, we expect the flow of revenue to be smooth."

Commissioner Sam Adams told reporters last week that he planned to expand the sponsorship program to the city's transportation bureau, which he directs. Adams said that the bureau had already sent bills to Jean Reynolds and Walt Richardson, after whom the city has named the new aerial tram cars. "The tram is going to cost the city nearly a million dollars a year to run," he said, "and let's face it, we don't have that kind of money. Walt and Jean will have to kick in a couple of thousand apiece. Originally, it was supposed to be free for them, but our costs have really escalated for reasons that no one anticipated."

The launch of the parks sponsorship program came as staffers in the parks bureau continued preparations for the upcoming public meetings on the policy, as well as other aspects of future financing of the city's fiscally challenged parks operations. The city has hired skilled, professional facilitators to insure that the meetings will be productive and "gratifying for all involved."

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Mighty fishy

Is the NFL fixed? I asked the question recently after the famous mystery fumble on the field goal attempt in the Seahawks game. Today a receiver on the New England Patriots suddenly can't handle easy passes. That, and an obvious fourth-quarter pass interference call in the end zone is ignored.

I'm glad the Patriots are not going to the Super Bowl, but you've got to wonder whether the whole thing is on the level.

Tip of the iceberg

Here's an interesting story about one of the sterling civil servants in the Oregon Corrections Department. All part of the squeaky clean government we have here in the Beaver State.

Now, don't forget, Michael Francke was killed by a street punk who was prowling his car. That stuff he said right before he died about blowing the whistle on corruption had nothing to do with it.


Big day

Mmmmm... wilderness photos

This fellow's profiled in today's O.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Nope, not here

Here's a Google search that landed on this blog. And I'm sure glad I know nothing about what they're looking for.

Bush Administration Clown of the Month

This guy is quite the piece of work.

At Bush Airport in Houston

Corporate pay wi-fi that gives no prompts about how to establish a connection, and therefore is utterly useless to most users.

At the Fort Lauderdale Airport

Free public wi-fi.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Bloggers beware

Here's a scary little story coming out of our new, improved Congress: Under a proposed new law, some political bloggers would have to register with the government as lobbyists, or go to jail. (You may have to click past an ad -- the escape is in the upper right.)

Goodbye, V.C.

The word is out -- the Virginia Cafe is coming down to make way for another soulless office tower. Tom Moyer, who ripped out the Fox Theater, the Spot, and Hamburger Mary's to build his first skyscraper, is going to do the same on another parcel up the street.

Time to reminisce about our times in the V.C. I remember some memorable Thursday evenings in the early '80s, when drinks were either a buck, or 2-for-the-price-of-1. It's not surprising that the details are a little fuzzy. Good times.

And as I recall, the original Embers Lounge was upstairs, on the corner.

You can't stop progress, I guess. Which is why if you haven't made any memories at the V.Q. or the Lotus, now is the time. They're next, I have no doubt. But look at the bright side -- the ground floors of the towers will have more Starbucks and another Gap!

Help the guy out

Portland city commissioner Sam Adams says he can't make up his mind how he's going to vote on the city's pending charter changes. Homer Williams, will you please end the suspense and tell him how he should vote? Thanks.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

While you were out

At 5:30 last Friday afternoon, an e-mail message went out from the City of Portland notifying the public about a pending review of the Parks Bureau's corporate sponsorship policy -- a policy that includes naming parks facilities after corporations who give the city money for parks activities.

Five-thirty. On a Friday afternoon. Before a three-day holiday weekend. "Your comments are welcome." Sure.

Ironically, by Parks Bureau standards, this is a shining triumph for public involvement. According to Amanda Fritz, who's patient enough to follow such things closely, this policy has already been in place for quite some time, and it's only because there's a new "good guy" mid-level manager nominally in charge of the ongoing privatization of the parks that there's going to be any chance for public input at all.

What progress.

Anyway, if you'd like to let the city know what you think of the prospect of the Doritos Wildwood Trail, you should read the policy here and leave your comment here. There's no place on the form to leave your name or to say in which part of town you live -- all the easier to dismiss you as a kook, I guess. I suggest that you voluntarily sign the comment and give your neighborhood, in hopes of making your point carry a bit more weight.

It's become clear that the Portland City Council thinks we spend too much money on our park system, and that we need to run it more cheaply by going to contract labor and corporate advertising. Selling off park land was also on the list, at least until recently, but that one was shouted down by the public, as well it should have been. We'll have to see about the other two, I guess.

Juiced up?

After the Bedgood kicking incident and the Humphreys fatal beating, a few readers have been asking: How many members of the city's police and fire bureaus are taking steroids?

It's a serious question, along with these: Does either bureau have a policy about steroid use? Should they?

Storm Center 9000 - on hiatus

We continue live team coverage of the Portland Slushy Thaw-Out of 2007, with an important programming announcement. After two grueling days of 'round-the-clock watches in Storm Center 9000, we are resuming regular blogging and taking our act on the road.

Way on the road. Far, far away from the ice and snow.

Indeed, we have just arrived at our new, temporary location, where it is currently 79 degrees and mostly sunny. As usual when we embark on these junkets, we invite readers to guess where we are.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Storm Center 9000 - live remote!

As part of our continuing coverage of the Portland Slush of 2007, bojack.org Storm Center 9000 takes you now live to Portland International Airport for an update. It's a bleak scene out here -- groups of passengers, waiting for their red-eye flights, holding their heads and moaning softly. Here in the bar at Stanford's, the merlot seems a bit cooler than usual, but still delightful.

Out on the D concourse and the north lobby, they've cleared things out for -- hold onto your hats for this one -- another meaningless and wasteful renovation! Now that Portland doesn't really have much of a shipping port, all those Port employees have to have something to do, people.

The temperature continues to hover at 34 degrees, dangerously close to freezing. Residents are advised to refrain from all unnecessary activity -- all you need to do is stay tuned to Storm Center 9000, where we'll continue our comprehensive team coverage of all the news you could have learned by going outside. Don't go outside!

The latest from Storm Center 9000

We continue now with live team coverage of the Portland Slush of 2007. We know what everybody's wondering -- what will it be like tomorrow?

We don't have a clue. It's going to freeze up again tonight, and it's supposed to thaw out again in the daylight, but we don't have a clue what time that might be. And there's some precipitation in the forecast, but we have no clue what form it will take, when it will come down, or even whether it will show up at all.

Portland schools will be opening two hours late, or not at all. They don't know which. We don't know which.

Repeat: We don't. Have. A clue.

What is certain, however, is that the city won't be doing much to help. Police precincts remain closed at night and on weekends until further notice. But thank heaven, the aerial tram is operating.

Stay tuned to bojack.org Storm Center 9000 for more of our vital, comprehensive team coverage of the Portland Slush of 2007. Once it gets really bad or improves, we'll be the first to let you know -- live and on the scene. We look out the window -- so you don't have to.

Better late than never

Our comprehensive coverage of this week's weather has delayed it, but here it is: the list of our Top 10 Disappointing Public Figures of 2006.

Storm Center 9000 Mid-Day Edition

We continue our comprehensive team coverage of the Portland Thin Layer of Snow on the Ground of 2007 with a live update from right outside the Storm Center. The temperature has crept up to 33 degrees, and since water remains frozen only up to 32 degrees, the snow has begun to melt. Yesterday's excellent cross-country skiing conditions on city streets have begun to deteriorate to slick, resembling a spring afternoon on Mount Hood.

Outside public buildings in the Storm Center neighborhood -- the library branch, the public school, the post office -- a horrible insult to our environment can be seen. Government agencies have actually sprinkled salt and liquid de-icer on the snow to make the sidewalks safe for pedestrians. Good God, people, have you no conscience? Think of what you're doing to the salmon!

It's going to drop below freezing tonight, which means that whatever melts this afternoon will be pure ice by morning. Mayor Potter has urged all Portland employers to kiss any level of productivity goodbye for the remainder of the week.

In this neck of the woods, the city has done next to nothing. There is sand on Fremont Street and on NE 15th Avenue, but not a grain of it on NE 21st or Knott, and none in the offing. Of course, no snow plow has been seen in this area for decades, and so conditions on the roads do not appear likely to improve unless and until things warm up substantially. The weather forecast for Friday calls for rain and 40 degrees, which may do the trick, but of course, keep in mind that that's a Portland weather forecast and subject to change at any time up until the meteorologists go outside.

Stay tuned to bojack.org Storm Center 9000, where we'll continue to keep you up-to-date on all the news you could have seen by looking out your window.

Gitmo lawyers redux

In connection with our post of the other day about the Bush administration's latest insult to our constitutional system, an alert reader sends along this right-on cartoon.

Portland Paralyzed - Day 2

Here at bojack.org Storm Center 9000, we continue now with our comprehensive team coverage of the Portland Thin Layer of Snow on the Ground of 2007. Here we see pedestrians struggling to cross a southeast Portland street with treacherous footing. Fortunately, a traffic calming device is present, and with its help they are barely making it across:

Storm Center 9000 - Pre-Dawn Edition

We have breaking news for you this morning: The snow that was on the ground last night is still there. It has not melted. You are to stay home or (we're trying to keep a straight face here) take Tri-Met to work. Now that everyone is bagging their jobs and schooling for the foreseeable future, the buses are chained up and ready to go.

There is no school today. Last night Portland schools chief Super Vicki made clear that all the district's facilities will remain closed today. Rather than risk criticism for a late announcement, such as the one made yesterday, she added that the schools will remain closed at least until February 5.

Portland police precincts will remain closed at night and all weekend, indefinitely.

This has been a live update from bojack.org Storm Center 9000. Stay tuned for comprehensive team coverage throughout the day of the Portland Thin Layer of Snow on the Ground of 2007.

Storm Center 9000 - Night Watch Edition

Storm Center 9000's continuous, live, up-to-the-minute team coverage of the Portland Thin Layer of Snow on the Ground of 2007 continues now with a warning from your local veterinarians. They're reminding area residents that blizzard conditions such as those plaguing our area this week can be very stressful on pets. Make sure that yours are kept fed and given plenty of water, and don't leave them outside for long periods. Although your animal buddies may have a protective layer of fur, that does not mean that long-term exposure to the brutal cold will not hurt them.

To prove the point, our correspondents found this unhappy pet in the Buckman neighborhood, who had obviously been abandoned to the snow and cold temperatures:

Stay tuned to continuing coverage of the Portland Thin Layer of Snow on the Ground of 2007 here on bojack.org Storm Center 9000. We're staying on the air 'round the clock until this ordeal is over.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Storm Center 9000 never sleeps

Our continuing, live, team coverage of the Portland Snowstorm of the Century* will continue all night, with up-to-the-minute updates updating you on all the treacherous conditions threatening lives and property throughout our region. Health care providers urge everyone not to overdo the physical exercise, particularly snow shoveling, and to drink plenty of liquids. Thousands are without energy this evening after an afternoon of outdoor activities and hot toddies.

The question on everyone's minds at this hour, of course, is how long the snow on the ground will remain with us. Our meteorologists tell us that it's not clear, but that their best guess is that the snow will likely stay until temperatures rise past the freezing mark of 32 degrees. Right now it's 28 degrees at the airport, and so if you want to be near melting snow, you are advised to stay away from the airport.

Team coverage here at bojack.org Storm Center 9000 will go 'round-the-clock, with tireless correspondents stationed in the field:

Keep your browser tuned to this page, where we will continue to bring you the news that you'll see only by reading this blog, or by looking out the window.

* - The century beginning Jan. 1, 2005.

Fixing Hawthorne

A while back I complained that the City of Portland was taking its sweet time getting around to its much-ballyhooed plan to make the Hawthorne Boulevard shopping district safer for pedestrians. As of the busy holiday shopping season, the most-trafficked part of the street hadn't been touched.

That's changed now. A visit to the area last week revealed the ripping to be in full swing. It appears that the city was holding off digging up the curbs and sidewalks along the most traveled parts of the project until the holiday season was over. Makes sense.

Breaking news from Storm Center 9000

Continuing with our live, up-to-the-minute, team coverage of the Portland Snowstorm of the Century.* Our sky cams show some real traffic problems out there. On hilly areas in parks, people on sleds are slipping and sliding, many out of control. Also, there are dogs, many dogs, running around, making navigation through the parks hazardous. A few people have even been seen building moguls on the hills -- a sure way to get oneself suddenly airborne, experts warn.

On the side streets, people are recklessly cross-country skiing. And a sad sign of our violent society, the fluffy snow is being made into makeshift balls, which are being employed as instruments of assault. Children have reportedly been lying on the ground, desperately flailing their arms, and leaving other-worldly body prints in the snow.

Authorities advise that all work should be suspended until conditions improve.

This has been a breaking news update from Storm Center 9000. We now return you to our regularly scheduled programming, the daily afternoon festival of rude comments.

* - The century beginning Jan. 1, 2005.

I meme mine

Want a fun time-killer? Make a Google map of every place you've ever lived. Here's mine. (Last address approximate. Doesn't count a summer staying with buds in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, or two summers bouncing around L.A.) [Meme via Derek Balling.]

Smarts 'R' Us

Remember that story about the first baby born in the United States in the New Year -- and the corporation that refused to give her the prize she won for that honor because her mother was not a legal U.S. resident? In case you missed the followup, the sponsor, Toys 'R' Us, has decided to go ahead and give that baby, and two others born at the same time, each a prize. As I said when the original story was in the news, that's the only sane outcome, and since the prize was $25K, a megacompany like that can easily afford it. It's a small price to pay to avert an enormous loss of valuable goodwill.

Storm Center 9000 update

We continue now with our live, comprehensive coverage of the Portland Snowstorm of '07. Snow continues to fall in our area, and as it hits the ground, it is piling up. Since the air temperature is 27 degrees, and the freezing point is 32 degrees, the snow that falls is not melting, but rather accumulating.

Accumulated snow can be slippery, and it appears that this snow is no exception.

Stay tuned to bojack.org Storm Center 9000 for further updates all day long. We look out the window -- so you don't have to.

Live coverage continues

Here now is additional in-depth coverage from bojack.org Storm Center 9000. In this exclusive image, we see one of our local sanitation engineers working against blizzard-like conditions just moments ago:

It's too late, baby, now, it's too late

This just in from the Portland School District:

Portland Public Schools will be closed on Tuesday, January 16, as snow continues to fall steadily in the school district.

Day care centers on PPS campuses are open.

In some cases, such as high schools, students may already have arrived. Employees at the schools will remain with the students until they can be safely returned home and the school closed.

Uh oh, they'll be hearing about the high schoolers who had to trudge through the snow twice, in both directions. You made the call a little late, Super Vicki! And so in some folks' eyes, you're gonna be 0 for 2.

Alert! Alert!

I think I just saw a snowflake! WE MUST SHUT PORTLAND DOWN NOW!

UPDATE, 7:04 a.m.: It's dumping now. I believe this school day and work day is going to be deeply impaired, if it happens at all.

UPDATE, 7:27 a.m.: I am going out on the back deck now for live, up-to-the-minute coverage. Team coverage will be delayed until the kids get up.

UPDATE, 7:35 a.m.: Not quite enough to ski on yet, but we're definitely talking snowman quantities already.

Also, KGW's giving the following important school closure information at the moment:

Warning: mysql_connect() [function.mysql-connect]: Too many connections in /www/htroots/0/246/htdocs/IIN/code/connection.php3 on line 3 Unable to connect to database:cwc2

UPDATE, 7:40 a.m.: Meanwhile, over at PDXinfo.net:

Warning: main(/www/htroots/0/246/htdocs/IIN/pdxinfo_general.php) [function.main]: failed to open stream: No such file or directory in /www/htroots/0/246/htdocs/IIN/reports/closures-cats.php on line 3

Fatal error: main() [function.require]: Failed opening required '/www/htroots/0/246/htdocs/IIN/pdxinfo_general.php' (include_path='./:/www/php:/usr/local/lib/php') in /www/htroots/0/246/htdocs/IIN/reports/closures-cats.php on line 3

UPDATE, 7:42 a.m.: It's official. Super Vicki has pulled the plug.

UPDATE, 7:47 a.m.: Now keep your browser tuned all day to bojack.org Storm Center -- where we'll be reporting live and in-depth on things that you could find out by looking out the window!

Will Title IX kill cheerleading?

Interesting story in The Times the other day about Title IX, the federal law requiring equal treatment of men's and women's (and boys' and girls') sports. In New York, they're interpreting that to mean that high schools who have cheerleaders at the boys' basketball games must also have them at girls' basketball games. The resulting additional burden on the cheerleaders, and their reduced travel to other schools for away games, have made cheerleading a less popular activity at some schools.

The Mrs., who used to cheerlead for her schools instead of for me and the kids, as she does today, has a solution: separate cheerleading squads for the male and female sports teams. Sure, being one of the boys' cheerleaders will be perceived as a greater honor, but the girls' cheerleaders will still field teams, as they'll be seen as a consolation prize for the girls who can't make the cut for the boys' cheerleader team. And they can all get to travel to other schools without wearing themselves out.

Of course, twice the teams means twice the budget, and that's another story. But then again I suppose nobody said Title IX was going to be cheap.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Happy birthday

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Nefarious no more

When I first started this blog in 2002, I used to write a lot about George W. Bush, the former frat president who's now our President. But after this country was stupid enough to re-elect him in 2004, I dropped that topic like a hot potato. The man and his administration are so bad -- we're the laughingstock, Satan, or both for 90 percent of the world -- that it really defies any words that I could come up with. "Worst President ever," true as it is, doesn't quite capture it.

Insane fiscal "policy," war-mongering, fear-mongering, elitism, abuse of power, torture, rendition, Big Brother surveillance, viciousness, hypocrisy -- these guys have it all. Dumb and mean. They make Nixon look like Truman. Maybe the whole idea is to make Bush's father seem better by comparison. After his worthless son is through with the country, Daddy will resemble FDR, relatively speaking.

Anyway, tonight we interrupt the stunned silence that this blog normally exhibits toward Bush, because the latest from his White House is his most horrendous act in quite a while, and that's an achievement. Now Bush national security types and their radio stooges are actually out there demanding that corporations refuse to do business with any law firm whose members volunteer their time to represent detainees in our prison camp in Guantanamo, Cuba.

To this day, I still can't believe that we would even have a prison camp in Guantanamo, Cuba. But to have one where people are held indefinitely with no charges and no process sickens me. If it were up to Bush, these people would be left there to rot forever, with no opportunity to state the case for their innocence or to complain about the squalor in which they are imprisoned. Fortunately, despite both Bushes' best efforts to pack our judiciary with yes-men and yes-women, there are still enough federal judges with a brain and a backbone that the prisoners in our camp have at least some minimal skeleton of rights. (Well, perhaps just barely enough federal judges, and only for the time being.)

The way this country is set up, if you have rights, then you are entitled to an attorney to help you vindicate them, particularly if you're being sent to prison. Every criminal, no matter how heinous his or her deeds, has a right to counsel.

But now if a courageous lawyer decides to take a detainee's case on a pro bono basis, the Bush administration urges American businesses to retaliate against that lawyer by firing the entire law firm in which the lawyer works.

Happy Martin Luther King Day from George Bush.

I'll say it again

Isn't this more important than streetcars and free wi-fi?

Waste of space

ESPN's still going on about major league baseball in Portland. I love the idea, but as long as the current mayor's in office, it ain't gonna happen, so let's not belabor the point.

Planners and math -- a lethal combination

A reader sends along this embarrassing little story. It appears to relate to the work of this Portland planning firm in connection with the proposed Black Rock Reservoir project up Yakima way. Hey, they were only off by $2 billion.

Saturday, January 13, 2007


I'm a boxer shorts man -- have been for more than 20 years. But in my younger day, it was briefs all the way. Particularly when I was a kid, we proudly wore Fruit of the Loom briefs and t-shirts under whatever we were sporting. Later on, my California girlfriend looked at them with disgust and called them "tighty whiteys," but back in Down Neck Newark they were standard issue.

Now, as the temperature here in Portland has been hanging around below the freezing mark all day, I'm reminded of a variation on the briefs -- a version that we used to break out only in the cold weather. These were made of the same material as briefs, but they had legs in them that extended most of, but not all, the way down to the knees. They were kind of like today's boxer briefs, but with a slightly longer leg. The standard underwear makers sold them right along with the regular briefs, at Bamberger's or Woolworth's on Market Street uptown.

Coming from a Polish family on my dad's side, we had a special name for these underpants: gotchies. This was from the Polish or Ukrainian words for underpants -- gatky or gatsi, I believe they were. I think it's a bit of a vulgar term in the original, but around our house, a slightly off-color reference was no big deal. And I'm pretty sure the original means underpants generally, not just the long ones that you break out for extra cold weather. For us, however, "gotchies" were the long boys.

"It's gettin' cold out there Jackie, better wear your gotchies."

"O.k., Mom."

Now along with the gotchie underpants every year came the gotchie song. It apparently referred to someone whose wife or mother found herself without hers. "Stada baba neeno gotchie," we'd sing. "Neeno" is not the correct spelling of whatever word or words were in there, but the translation was supposed to be "My old lady ain't got no underwear." The second line sounded something like "A la boozhie ma," which was supposed to mean something like "Please get her a pair."

There was more, but I don't think we kids ever got past line 2. That was enough to mark the occasion of freezing weather. You put on your gotchies and trudged off to school, singing "Stada Baba" to the rhythm of your own footsteps.

Enjoy the Tostitos Wildwood Trail

Just when I start to think that the Portland parks "leadership" might not deserve all the cr*p I give them, they go ahead and confirm that they merit all that and more. Check out what they send out at 5:30 on a Friday afternoon before a holiday weekend! It's notice of a new "sponsorship" policy, whereby the city will give "recognition" to corporations who donate money, up to and including naming rights on features of the parks.

There's supposed to be a meeting on it on February 15, and thereafter there'll be precious little discussion before public comments close on February 23.

It's curious that this extensive policy was in the works long before the recent personnel changes that included naming a new "business development manager." Observers of the parks scene swear that he's a great guy, but it's obvious that he'll be implementing a program that's been handed down by Zari and Grimwad. This one's straight out of the latter's playbook -- he who in his last job leased some of his Aussie parks to McDonald's and Fox Studios.

Just to make sure that the cutesy little timing ploy doesn't get them anywhere, remind me to post again about this first thing Tuesday morning.

Fireman Randy on the human field goal

Portland Commissioner Randy Leonard sends along a copy of an e-mail message he wrote to some Portland residents regarding this week's infamous Fire Bureau melee:

Xxx and Xxxx-

I too was and am very troubled by what I saw on the video.

I hope you understand that there is going to be an extenstive and very serious investigation of this incident and that it would be inappropriate for me to make any comment until that investigation is completed. At that time, I am happy to give you my impresson of the incident based on all of what will be learned during the current investigation.

I will tell you that, in my experience, I have never seen or heard of an incident involving firefighters in an incident such as what I observed on the video. However, I do think it is important to listen to all sides during the investigation before any of us draw a conclusion...yet.

I have the highest confidence in both Commissioner Erik Sten and Fire Chief David Sprando that they will make their judgements based on the facts and then take the appropriate action.

I do appreciate your email...thank you....Randy

Tipping point

Bob Bedgood, the Portland Fire Bureau lieutenant who felt the need to start practicing place-kicks on the a*s of a confessed jerk who mouthed off to him while Bedgood and his crew answered a medical call downtown the other night, has been reassigned to a desk job after he was busted on a security video for doing the deed. The statement Bedgood gave to police was also pretty sleazy -- far from an honest description of what actually happened. And in light of his transgressions, captured on video, he's been busted down to "training."

Well deserved. You don't kick a guy when he's already being pinned down on the floor by two or three other people.

But now what? Hang Bedgood? Heck, no. How about he takes a hit in pay for a while (or makes an appropriate charitable contribution) and gets serious counseling for his issues? How about he apologizes to the guy he gratuitously kicked, and to the other people he sassed when he should have been looking the other way? Is it that hard to say "I was angry, I screwed up, I'm sorry"?

I have done stupider stuff than this. What you do is look at it; think about it; acknowledge the wrongness; think hard about changing the parts of you that lead you to places like this; try to make things whole with the people you hurt; and do what you can to make other people aware of how the same weakness could lead them astray.

More importantly, how about reminding the whole Fire Bureau of: its core mission; how difficult it is; how much the bureau is appreciated by the vast majority of the population; and how to stay cool when a group of, shall we say, irrational people from the fringes of society is coming at you from every which way? It wouldn't hurt for the Police Bureau to spend some time with a similar message, given what's been going on lately.

I'll never forget the day our daughter arrived, on an emergency basis, on the floor of our bathroom. The Portland firemen appearing at our front door a minute or so after her first breath were without a doubt the greatest gift that any government, anywhere, has ever given to me. I'm inclined to give firefighters a major benefit of the doubt.

So let's not hate, but let's use this incident to grow and improve. This could end up being a positive moment in the long run, if it's handled right. The "victim" seems like a reasonable enough guy. The city commissioner in charge of the bureau may not be up to the moment -- he rarely is -- but the mayor and Fireman Randy, two men in blue, are in a perfect position to do something good here. It's up to you, guys. And to Lieutenant Bedgood.

Friday, January 12, 2007

January clearance post

In recent days we have received a couple of e-mails that purport to be from Gregg Clapper, the well known operative of the right wing of Oregon's Republican Party. These messages point out to us that the animal poaching charges against Mark Hemstreet, his wife, his daughter, and Clapper have been dismissed, and they direct us to this Oregonian story on the subject, which we had not seen. Since we made light of the situation two years ago when the story first broke, Clapper thinks we should report the dismissal of the charges here. And so now we have.

No word in the story or the e-mails about the marijuana-related charges that were reported against Clapper, which was actually what cracked us up most about the whole episode originally. Apparently, that part of the case is still pending on appeal.

While we're discussing people being cleared, let's also take note that while we reported the state ethics investigation a while back into Multnomah County Commissioner Maria Rojo de Steffey on conflict of interest charges, we didn't make mention of the fact that those charges were dismissed. In fact, they were.

Is it contagious?

After a year in which we all wondered about the use of force by the Portland police, we start 2007 off with a highly disturbing Oregonian story and video about members of the city's Fire Bureau.

For starters, the fireman doing the kicking needs a long suspension without pay until he learns some common decency. I don't care what the guy was yelling; he was on the floor and did not deserve that. At that point I believe what the uniformed gentleman did is called criminal assault.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Get down

Did you know that soul legend James Brown, who died Christmas morning, still has not been buried? His body's still in his house while his survivors squabble over everything, including where he's going to be interred.

The room where Brown's body lies is being kept at a controlled temperature, and security guards keep watch, Reid said.
So sad. What else is in there -- the big thing of cold cuts from Costco? Sheesh, talk about "doin' it to death"...

If it had happened last year

The long process of digging out begins

I'm surprised he's even got power, but Mover Mike has a gripping update on today's brutal weather.

Why I use PowerPoint

It's safer.

Shameful if true

An alert reader writes:

I could swear I saw Erik Sten entering a parking garage on Salmon this morning in a red Volvo SUV.

Has he gone to the dark side? What will the Bus kids think?

And what next? Comcast cable in his house?

Hyper, then hibernation

A couple of work projects and the interruption of the daily flow by jury duty had gotten me into a real sleep deficit situation. Until the last 24 hours, that is -- of which I slept 16. It's not good for you to make a habit of that, but every once in a while, I need it.

In house vs. outhouse

Hey, you law firms out there! Want to get on the dole with the Portland Development Commission? They're looking to hire some outside lawyers::

To meet Commission needs and activities, the Commission desires to designate firms to provide a broad range of professional Legal services in support of and in close coordination with Commission staff. Selected Contractors will provide Legal Services on an as-needed basis in any or all of the following areas:

• Documentation of multifamily residential loans, including bond or tax credit financing.

• Small business loan reviews.

• Advice regarding tax increment financing and urban renewal.

• Real Property acquisition, both voluntary and by condemnation.

• Labor and personnel matters, including investigation and litigation.

• Sophisticated advice in the creation and implementation of financing tools.

• Owner or lender representation in construction contracting, including public bidding.

• Owner or lender representation in environmental matters, including the RI/FS process

• Loan collection matters, including bankruptcy and secured transaction litigation.

Note, too, that in addition to feeding you agency work, they'll throw you some private clients, too -- "owner or lender representation." Good eatin'.

I don't know, though; some of that stuff looks pretty basic. Can't in-house counsel handle some of this?

Anyway, lawyers, now's your chance -- the deadline for applying is a week from Thursday. It will be interesting to see who gets the work -- and if and when the PDC will tell us.

Your Joke of the Day

It's over here. It's a quick one.

Really slow news week

Here we go again. Now the recent controversy involving this blog and Dixie Mattress Co. is in the morning paper. The original post is here for your reading pleasure. I've moved on from that one.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The envelopes, please

Here now are my Top 10 Favorite Public Figures of 2006.

I scare myself sometimes

Around three years ago, I wrote:

Heaven forbid we should have enough cops when we can have streetcars.

Wait 'til we start paying the operating subsidy for the OHSU aerial tram (which will shuttle folks to and from yet another Homer Williams development). At that point, the East Precinct may have to close.

I was kidding. But it turns out, I was right -- almost dead-on right. Just as the tram comes on line, at a staggering operating cost, the city's now talking about closing a police precinct (it turns out to be the North) due to budget problems.

Folks, the inmates have officially taken over this asylum.

Sam the Tram's new math

The latest round of goo coming off the OHSU Health Club aerial tram [rim shot] keeps getting stinkier. Yesterday we learned that the operating budget for the monstrosity has shot up from $915,000 to $1.7 million a year. But now here come some new skunkies, from LocalNewsDaily.com:

Staff projections presented at the meeting suggest the changes could increase the city’s share of the annual operating budget from around $220,000 to nearly $900,000 a year. [City Commissioner Sam] Adams is talking to the rest of the council, street car operators and TriMet about paying those increased costs.
Now, I've got my calculator out and all, but I'm having some trouble. Under the old deal, the city was supposed to pay $220,000 out of $915,000? Punch those numbers in... all right, that's 24.04 percent. I thought I recall one of the proponents throwing around 15 percent, but o.k., they lied about everything else, it's to be expected.

But now let's look at the new deal -- an operating budget of $1.7 million, and the city pays $900,000? That's 52.94 percent, people. A few months ago the liars were telling people the whole thing would cost around $500,000 a year to run, with the city paying way less than half that. Now the city's paying $900,000 a year.

It just gets weirder, and weirder, and weirder. Somebody really ought to go to jail.

And then you read this:

The committee includes city and OHSU officials, along with public relations specialist Wendy Lane, who represents the public.
Did anybody out there know that we were being represented by someone named Wendy Lane? Anybody out there ever hear of the process by which she was selected as our representative?

Me neither.

They paved paradise

Do you know that beautiful Queen Anne mansion that you see when you go over the Ross Island Bridge eastbound? Did you know that it used to have a twin on the other side of Powell? Dan Haneckow over at Cafe Unknown does another spectacular job of giving us the history. You blog award nominators out there, check him out.

Workout potential

It's been more than two years since I've been on skis. Will today be the day?

You missed it

"I think he has had close to as much plastic surgery as Michael Jackson, and had on as much makeup as Tammy Faye Baker."

No word on whether Grimwad will perform

An alert reader passes on this notice, dated Monday, from the Portland Parks Bureau. The links were added by me, obviously:

The meeting with Parks Director Zari Santner regarding Mt. Tabor Yard, originally scheduled for January 16th has been cancelled. It will be rescheduled for mid-February in order to first provide an opportunity for input into the meeting agenda and outcomes. Michael Mills, City Ombudsman, has agreed to assist in this effort by attending the Mt. Tabor NA and South Tabor NA meetings on January 17th and 18th to clarify community expectations for the meeting and gather perspectives about repairing relationships and working together in the future. It is hoped that these candid conversations in advance will help ensure that a February meeting with Zari is productive and gratifying for all concerned. The date, location and time for a February meeting will be broadly announced as soon as arrangements have been confirmed.

In addition to the conversation described above, it is hoped that a draft public involvement process and timeline for developing a recommendation for the future of the PP&R central maintenance facilities can be shared at these meetings, with time for comments and suggestions. Input will be incorporated into the draft public involvement plan and then the draft will be be posted on the web for additional comment before it is finalized.

Anyone interested is welcome to attend and participate in the discussion.

Please post this note and/or send to others who may be interested. Thank you.

You're welcome.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Honorable discharge

It took the better part of two days, but the Multnomah County Circuit Court has finally determined that my services as a juror weren't required. The large crowd of prospective jurors of which I was a part has been whittled down to the requisite 12, plus one alternate, and the rest of us have gone home.

By my count, there were a total of 55 people brought in as possible jurors in our case -- some yesterday, some this morning. I wonder why they needed to see so many of us. Maybe it was because there are two co-defendants, and they each got to ding a certain number of panelists. Anyway, we all had to answer a stock list of questions, which were designed to help the lawyers figure out which of us to keep and which to bounce, and we sat around the courtroom as we listened to each other's responses.

One of the questions was, "Have you ever been the victim of a crime?" I was surprised that the vast majority of us said yes. I had never stopped to think about how it happens to most people at some point or another.

The other thing that I wasn't prepared for was the content of the dialogue between the attorneys and the prospective jurors. After we all answered the stock questions, it seemed that the lawyers were mostly starting to argue their cases, rather than finding out more about us as individuals. They were clearly sending messages -- as much as, if not more than, they were obtaining information.

The judge read us the charges -- attempted murder and assault with a gun. But from the statements the lawyers were making, it sounds as though the two accused guys may have been accomplices, rather than the actual triggerman. Both defendants and the victim are Hispanic; one defendant had interpreters, and we were told that some of the testimony would be in Spanish. We were to accept the official translation we were to be provided, rather than using our own knowledge of Spanish.

I saw a lot of lawyers I know around the courthouse. But given that I was there as a juror, I didn't think I should talk to them beyond saying hello. Instead, I chatted with some of my fellow panel members, two of whom I knew well but several others whom I had just met. A nice slice of Portland, and a fine way to touch base with people from walks of life that aren't familiar to me.

I'm glad I went on jury duty, even though I didn't actually sit on a case. And it's a good thing I liked the experience, because I have no doubt that my name will be called again a few years down the road. One of the questions we all answered was whether we had ever appeared in a court proceeding. Quite a few people had -- on other juries.

Rockin' on

If you're a regular web surfer, by now you've seen one or more of those sites that display the worst music album covers of all time. They're quite a hoot. On at least one of these sites, one of the hilariously bad dust jackets displayed is this:

Pretty bad. But did you know that the guy in the middle is now the newest member of Congress from New York State?

Want the Tri-Met dog?

Now's your chance.

Groundhog Day

Hard to believe, but we're back in the large jury holding tank again today. The case that my fellow venirepersons and I have been assigned to is proceeding behind closed doors this morning, and we've all been sent back down to the jury assembly room to resume hanging out. It's starting to feel a little like home. I'm not sure that's such a good thing.

Except for the 35 or so of us left over from yesterday, everyone in the pool today is new -- another 150 or so. They've already called a few panels for today, and even a group to sit on a case out in Gresham tomorrow. Busy time for courtroom battles, I guess.

Tram operating cost: $1.7 million a year

At long last, someone is reporting what it's supposed to cost to operate the Pill Hill Aerial Rapid Transit system. Not to build it -- to operate it. It's now estimated (way down in the story) at $1.7 million a year.

That's a budget, not an actual number, of course. The thing hasn't even been opened to the public yet.

And I know you're not going to believe this, readers, but that $1.7 million is actually up from the original estimate of $915,000. An 86 percent increase!

Meanwhile, water pipes are busting at OHSU Hospital and the city's cutting 18 positions from its transportation department. Mmmmm... floatin' Twinkies.

While I do my civic duty

I can't blog from a jury box, and so here are a couple of news items from today's O that you might want to chew on:

First, columnist Steve Duin takes a shot at the Oregon beer and wine tax, which he connects convincingly to the utter lack of a meaningful ethics system in our state government. It's the Maui thing, people. And from the sound of things, don't expect serious reform out of this legislative session.

Second, the move by the Portland City Council to take control over the Portland Development Commission budget seems to be petering out. Buried way down in a story about the new spirit of nicey-nicey among the five city councilmen is news that "Sten points to his decision to back off on demands for greater oversight over the PDC's budget without a citywide vote, a requirement for the mayor." So now I guess they're not going to Salem for a statutory change that would make Portland like all other Oregon cities in that regard.

Hmmm. The PDC appears ready to play ball with the construction unions, and I expect that the council's zeal to "reform" the PDC will fade quietly away as a result.

Monday, January 8, 2007

Jury duty

I put it off when my number first came up last fall, but today is the day when I am serving my community as a juror. Well, a prospective juror, anyway. I and another 150 or so of my fellow Multnomah County residents are hanging around in the jury room on the ground floor of the old courthouse, waiting to see if we'll get to sit in judgment in one of the courtrooms upstairs.

There have been three roll calls so far since 8:00 this morning, and my name hasn't been included. And so the sitting around continues. It's a huge room we're assembled in here -- around 20 rows of leather chairs, eight across or so, some tables and couches in the back, some carrels along the side for computer users. Some ratty books and magazines, and a flat-screen TV pumping out some daytime TV drivel. I had no idea that I could bring a laptop and get stuff done while I watch the day go by, but after seeing this morning that it was possible, I went home for lunch and brought mine back. Since I'm on a Tri-Met day ticket that I clipped out of my new Chinook Book, the extra loop was free. (The transit mall is a mess already, and the serious ripping (along with lots of bus route changes) doesn't kick in until this Sunday.)

From this vantage point, everything appears to be running smoothly at the courthouse except the security at the front door. The metal detector is kind of a bottleneck, with a line stretching out onto the street. The five minutes or so out there wasn't so bad in today's weather, but if we were talking a downpour, it would have been mighty unpleasant. I'm sure that the lack of a speedy screening system fits right in with the county's plan to build a new courthouse and implode this place. I hope they're planning to do the security right in the new building. The fact that all that probing is needed at all is a sad comment on our world. On a drizzly gray day like this, the quicker the process works, the better.

Anyway, even if my number is called today, do you think I'll actually wind up on a jury? Occupation: law professor. Brother of a career prosecutor, who in turn is married to another career government lawyer. Would any lawyer leave me on the jury panel for an actual case? Seems unlikely.

But hey, as U.S. Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer showed us two years ago this week, when you're called, you go. One of the judges reminded us in our orientation this morning: It's a great country, but you don't get to live here for free.

UPDATE, 6:42 p.m.: Congratulate me -- I think I'm what they call a "venireman." Toward the end of the day, I and 41 others were herded into a courtroom to be "inspected and selected" by the attorneys in a case. (You Arlo Guthrie fans will recognize the quotation. And while discussing medical issues that might prevent them from serving on the trial, a couple of prospective jurors revealed that they had also been "injected"!) Anyway, they kicked a few people out -- not me -- and so it's back down there I go in the morning.

What a great blog entry I could write about the courtroom scene, but I can't discuss the case with anyone -- at least, not tonight.


Two reliable sources have now confirmed that the previously announced confab between the Portland Parks director and the people who had unanswered questions about her plans for Mount Tabor Park -- a heart-to-heart that was originally scheduled for next week -- has been cancelled. Apparently there's going to be a meeting at some point, in some format, some day, where the neighbors will get the straight and skinny lowdown from Ms. Santner. In the meantime, hold onto those tickets:

Slow news week

Last week's dust-up over a post on this blog (and the ensuing sewage that was flung here and here and here, and who knows where else) has made this morning's newspaper. I'm not seeing the newsworthiness in it -- not nearly so much as in the underlying shooting problem in our downtown, which is what I wrote about originally and which the mainstream media seems to want to avert its eyes from. But it's their paper, certainly not mine.

I still don't think people are getting it. I'll repeat my question of last week, and this time I'll refrain from identifying the race of most of the victims so that we don't get sidetracked again. And as usual I won't say a thing about the race of the perpetrators of these crimes -- clearly the most recent ones have not been identified and could be anybody, of any race. Anyhow, my questions:

Is there something that the city can do to stop this story from happening yet again? Is it a gang thing? An education thing? A liquor control thing? A handgun thing?

Isn't this more important than streetcars and free wi-fi?

Since I'm not going to have time to nanny the comments for part of today, why don't we all just mull it over? If you want to call me names, you know where that kind of thing will be welcome. You've got options.

And then there's this. Same. Old. Story.

UPDATE, 1:31 p.m.: I have opened comments on this post, at least for a while, as I am now once again able to monitor them.

UPDATE, 7:24 p.m.: It continues to get worse.

Sunday, January 7, 2007

Good Randy vs. Bad Randy

Fireman Randy's on the wire again tonight, and he seems a little steamed. Apparently he's been reading another annoying piece of prose in The Zero today from Randy Gragg, the "architecture critic" who never writes about architecture. Of course, on that publication's pitiful website, I can't even find the article in question. But today the Graggmeister apparently has resumed his primary function as developer apologist -- this time, blowing smoke, on behalf of his heroes Homer Williams & Co., about the Portland City Council. How dare anyone question a giveaway of property by the Portland Development Commission? How dare they demand accountability?

It gets better. Apparently, now Gragg's a real estate appraisal expert to go with his expertise in public administration! As the kids say, LOL.

Fireman Randy's rejoinder is here, but I doubt that his response will have much of an impact. The only things more persistent than the fantasies of the Gragg are the shady builders whispering in his ear, his contempt for real people, and his bosses' undying devotion to him. For us peons out here in the neighborhoods, the only sane thing to do is to recognize how ridiculous he is, and look forward to the next laugh-out-loud episode.

If we can find it.

More NFL amazement

I'm watching a pro football game, and on one of the teams, two of the guys' first names are Tiki and Plaxico.

Don't walk past it

I got my copy of Street Roots today -- a nice vendor gave us service with a smile -- and the interview with Fireman Randy is a good one. There are a few other news stories of interest in there, too -- more content than I remembered from the last issue I picked up some time ago. Well worth a buck (or more, if you're so inclined). Good cause, too -- of the dollar we paid, apparently the vendor gets 70 cents.

Then there's my horoscope:

Is the NFL fixed?

It's hard to believe that this actually, honestly happened.

He's been busy

The holidays have been a hectic time for all of us -- especially this guy.

Saturday, January 6, 2007

Brickbats 'R' Us

Here's an ugly little story, symbolic of the era in which this nation finds itself.

Friday, January 5, 2007

Sayings of Chairman Homer

"The City Council should just leave the PDC alone.”

Is it still on?

A while back we blogged about a cozy confab planned for the evening of the 16th out around Mount Tabor. Portland parks chief Zari Santner was going to "take the time to look back – and to answer any remaining questions about the overall maintenance facilities plan and the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Warner Pacific College."

Funny thing, though -- the event is not listed here or here, where one would expect to find it. Does anyone know if it's still scheduled? Why is it not being publicized? Don't tell me they don't want a record turnout and lots of hard-hitting questions and candid comments!

Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States

Lots of smoke, but the fire's missing

The agenda for next Wednesday's Portland Development Commission meeting is up, and with it the PDC's financial statements for the year ended last June 30. I've barely scratched the surface of the city's financials, released the other day, and then here comes this additional mountain of numbers and spins. At least we have a whole year to try to figure out where the bodies are buried; a few readers have begun the search.

As for the rest of the meeting agenda, so far they haven't posted what are probably the most interesting documents -- reports on PDC property appraisal procedures and the agency's construction wage policy. That's where all the fireworks have been lately. In the meantime, we can while away the hours with Portland State's glossy report on its ever-expanding empire as a real estate developer and promoter of fine pizza.

UPDATE, 4:32 p.m.: The missing reports have been posted. The report on appraisal procedures is here. The one on the construction wage policy is here. The Trib has a related story here.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

Long gone

Writer Cynthia Price in Astoria, Oregon appears to have packed it in with her blog The Daily 750. It's been slow over there lately, but now it appears it's over. Ah well, it was great while it lasted.

Not to be outdone

As I suggested that they do months ago, the Portland City Council is reportedly getting ready to ban trans fat in restaurants in the Rose City.

The goodbye makes the journey harder still

Nancy Lynne, our photographer colleague over toward the coast, has decided to expand her blog from a professional one to one that encompasses her personal life. Her first post in that direction is pretty powerful.

Woulda scared me

Here's the hole in the driver's side of Dave Lister's car that he thought had been made by a bullet:

That's what I would have thought. But the experts say it was caused by road debris.



Looks like a great cover on the latest edition of Street Roots. I will definitely be picking up the next copy I am offered -- for the "archives." (Via Larry Norton.)

Portland McParks

More signs abound that the City of Portland's about to commercialize its beautiful park system. They've just named a new "business development and marketing manager" for the parks bureau, and they plan to have three staff people in his "department." Meanwhile, they've brought in someone from the city's transportation department (a.k.a. Layoff City, from what I've been reading) to head up the parks bureau's "service zones department" -- another symbol of the reshuffling (and no doubt, the impending real estate scams). Anyway, here, I'm told, is Tuesday's e-mail from parks chief Zari "Let Me Explain" Santner:

First, let me wish you all a very happy New Year. I hope the new year is filled with joy, accomplishments, and good health for you and your family.

Last week was quiet for many of us, but I was busy making some important decisions that will help us move forward in 2007. I have been assembling the staff we need for the missing pieces of our Management Team and late last Friday, the final pieces came together.

As you know, I have been actively looking for a replacement for Lydia Kowalski, Senior Manager of Service Zones. An internal (City-wide) recruitment process netted two strong candidates. Each with tremendous skills that will move our organization forward. These candidates were Bob Schulz, SW Zone Manager for Portland Parks and Eileen Argentina, Director of Transportation System Management Bureau in the Portland Office of Transportation (PDOT). Having two strong candidates allowed me to look at other opportunities as well.

Bob's background in business development and sponsorship program is desperately needed in our new Business Development and Marketing Department where vacancies has left us lacking. I have been impressed with Bob's work in this area and his skill in developing business partnerships. I have offered to Bob, and he has accepted, the position of Marketing and Business Development Manager effective January 8, 2007. His department will be complete with three new staff members and we can expect great things from this department. Bob is very excited about this opportunity and I am sure you join me in congratulating him on his success and wish him the best in occupying this very challenging position.

Bob's promotion will leave a vacancy at the SW Zone Manager and it is important to temporarily fill that position until the new Senior Manager of Service Zones can establish a process to permanently fill that vacancy. Terri Davis, SW Community Center Director, has enthusiastically accepted my offer of Acting SW Zone Manager. Terri will make an excellent addition to the Zone Managers Team.

Our Service Zones Department is a tremendously critical Department where park and recreation services are provided. With two-thirds of the workforce in this department I knew I needed a special leader with vision and commitment. I saw those and other necessary skills in Eileen Argentina. I believe she will be a great addition to our team. Her eight years of experience as a member of PDOT's senior management team gives her an understanding of the city organization and the ability to move an agenda forward. She has experience with significant organizational change and working through severely constrained budget environment. Perhaps most importantly, she truly believes in creating a work environment that brings out the best in people and she encourages and rewards great teamwork. Eileen will be starting her career with PP&R in mid-January and you can expect to meet her or hear from her very soon as she is excited to get started.

Please join me in congratulating Bob Schulz, Terri Davis, and Eileen Argentina on their new jobs.

Swell, congratulations to them. But why do Portland parks need "business development and marketing"? From the looks of them, I'd say they need Weed 'N' Feed, better playground equipment, and fresh paint a heck of a lot more.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

Get out your green eyeshade

At long last, the City of Portland's annual financial statements for the year ended last June 30 showed up on the internet tonight. The letter of transmittal from the city finance folks to the City Council is dated December 20, and I'm not sure what caused the two-week delay in getting it posted. Indeed, the outside auditor's work was done by November 14 -- it would be fun to know what the additional five-plus weeks were all about. Last year, for example, the internal transmittal letter and the outside auditor's report were dated the same day.

Anyway, it's reassuring to know that the City Council won't be docked any pay for tardiness.

The whole thing apparently has not yet been assembled into a single file, but the constituent pieces all appear to be linked here. Dig in, if you can stand the tedium of it -- as I will be doing. I'll post when and as I notice stuff. If anybody has any bright insights or sees anyone else's commentary anywhere, please let us all know in the comments.

False alarm

Scary moment today for Dave Lister. For a while there, he thought that his car had been hit by a bullet in the driver's side door while he was motoring down I-5 near the aerial tram [rim shot]. But apparently it was nothing so alarming. From Portland Police spokesman Brian Schmautz a little while ago:

I have been fielding calls about a possible drive by shooting on I-5 this morning involving Dave Lister. His driver's door has been removed and officers have concluded the damage appears to have been caused by road debris.
That's a relief.

I'll drink to that

Reports have it that Portland has been ranked second-healthiest city in the United States (after Seattle) by something called Cooking Light magazine. The Portland Development Commission is crowing about it here, and there's reference to it here, but I can't seem to find the original article on the Cooking Light website. (Although the classic slow-cooker recipes look interesting.)

Anyway, congratulations to us! We're healthy!

I wonder why.

Both sides now

The other day I opined that the first baby of the new year was not as interesting as the last baby of the old year. An alert reader sends along this story of a couple who has both.

Riding Tri-Met = risking your life?

An observant reader writes:

Tri-Met should draft that bus-riding dog as its mascot. If his owner isn't found, he could be euthanized. A heavy penalty for taking public transportation.
I think he's got a great idea. Tri-Met?

The letter

Here's a technical question that I'm hoping a savvy reader can answer for me. When I write in italics on my blog, using the regular margins I have set up for the main (center) column, if the first letter in the line is a small "p," the "tail" of the character gets cut off. I suspect that my margins and my padding are somehow out of sync in my CSS stylesheet, but let's be real -- I don't know my CSS from my ASS. My stylesheet is a stock Movable Type stylesheet that I edited extensively by trial and error to get to where it is today. There's all sorts of stuff in there that I don't know what it does (if anything).

Anyway, does anybody know what's causing the "p-tails" to be "chopped off"? How I can fix it? What extra junk I can do away with in that stylesheet so that I can actually figure out what it all does?

UPDATE, 12:58 p.m.: I believe we have a fix, thanks to reader David B. Wright's helpful suggestions:

L.A. was here

And they had a great time.

Light reading

Here's a big, fat .pdf page-turner for you: the State of Oregon's official financial statement for the year ended June 30, 2006. The deadline for publishing it was Sunday, New Year's Eve -- the state got it out on Friday, the last business day before the year-end.

The same deadline applies (ORS 297.465) to all municipalities in the state, including the City of Portland (unless they get an extension from the state treasurer). Still no sign of that report, though. Hmmm....

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Who needs Scorsese?

It's unusual for me to sit through an entire feature film. It's even more unusual for me to see one in a theater. But in the last 24 hours, I've seen two movies, including one at a cinema.

The titles? Why, Chicken Run and Happy Feet, of course.

They were both good, but Happy Feet was really good. They hooked Savion Glover and his friends up to motion-tracking equipment, and the results are some incredible animated tap-dancing scenes. Celebrity voices are one thing, and this one has the obligatory Robin Williams, and even Steve "Crocodile Hunter" Irwin in a brief role. But celebrity feet, now that's another. The film's a little long for small kids (what isn't?), but the wait between dance scenes is worth it.

If, like me, you never go to the movies any more, you may want to put this one on your Netflix (or equivalent) list.

Happy New Year, bang, you're dead

The New Year began in downtown Portland with a fatal shooting. Same old story -- a young man, African-American, shot on the street, no doubt as "the club" he was partying in closed up for the night. About a block and a half from the Fifth Avenue Suites Hotel -- not a nice message to our out-of-town guests. At least a full-scale gun battle didn't ensue this time.

Is there something that the city can do to stop this story from happening yet again? Is it a gang thing? An education thing? A liquor control thing? A handgun thing?

Isn't this more important than streetcars and free wi-fi?

The funny paper

Today's pearls of wisdom from the O editorial board:

-- Mayor Potter's greatest achievements in 2006? Building the Floating Twinkies and putting a Band-Aid on the severed carotid artery that is the Portland police and fire pension "system."

-- The city is "in good financial shape."

-- James Chasse died in police custody "in large part because he couldn't communicate."

-- The movement by the City Council to reform governance of the runaway Portland Development Commission is "inexplicable."

And they wonder why they become more irrelevant every year.

Thank you

A New Year's post by Bill McDonald over at Portland Freelancer reminded me that it's high time that I got all the reader comments restored on this blog from the period preceding its destruction on August 30. I hadn't properly backed up the contents of the blog for nearly two months before that, and as a result, when the thieves who previously hosted this site wrecked it, the comments left during that time and the posts to which they pertained were separated. It's a long process getting them reunited, and the format of the results isn't as pretty as the original was, but a restoration can be done, and I'm determined to do it.

So here I've been sitting this morning, restoring and revisiting the first half of July. I'm struck by how many comments were left during that period, and how much the comments contribute to make this site what it is. Thanks to everyone who writes in.

Monday, January 1, 2007


Tonight I used a box cutter to get some big pieces of corrugated cardboard ready for recycling. Holding it in my hand and looking down at it, I couldn't help but think of 9/11/01. Neither the box cutter nor I will ever be the same as we were before that day.

Bad Musical Moment of the Day

"Stairway to Heaven," as performed with a straight face by the University of Michigan Marching Band.

Col. Summers Park: toxic waste landfill?

There's a fascinating post here about the history of one of the green spots in Portland's Buckman neighborhood.

Say it loud

I love wishing people "Happy New Year." It's not like "Merry Christmas." You don't have to hesitate, or ask yourself later whether you think they actually celebrate this one. Today is New Year's Day, period. Oh yeah, it's not New Year's in Chinatown, or at the synagogue, but hey, most of the people in those two places still have a sense of humor about it.

I carry the New Year greeting into the month of January quite a ways, using it whenever I greet a friend for the first time in the year. It makes me feel good, right up there with "Good morning." Given my sleep habits, I don't get to say the latter as often as I should.

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