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

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January 2008 Archives

Thursday, January 31, 2008

"Voter-owed elections" tab is piling up

I'm counting six or seven politicians whose upcoming Portland City Council campaigns are going to be paid for by the taxpayers. Including Opie Sten's handpicked successor to his throne of low comedy.

And that's just in the primary -- add more hundreds of thousands for runoffs. I wish the guys who are trying to force the street tax onto the ballot would go after this nonsense, too. It should have been voted on long ago. And do you think it ever will be, with Sam the Tram controlling the ballot referral mechanics?

He should pay, in full

This is really simple. Vandalism is a crime, and the restitution should be complete, no matter how expensive it turns out to be. "Artist," my eye.

16 DA's

My first reaction to the Kroger-vs-Macpherson Oregon attorney general race was that Kroger would win by a narrow margin in Portland, but Macpherson would take the rest of the state and the election, largely based on name familiarity.

I haven't completely given up on that assessment, but Kroger's got some things that the folks downstate and out east may find appealing. The whole prosecutor-and-ex-Marine thing will probably play pretty well in the hinterlands.

Today we get a press release in which he brags about his endorsements from district attorneys around the state. It says:

Law enforcement officials from throughout Oregon have endorsed John Kroger to be Oregon’s next Attorney General.

Kroger, a former federal prosecutor and award-winning Lewis & Clark Law School professor, has secured endorsements from 19 law enforcement officials, including 16 District Attorneys, the Umatilla County sheriff, Beaverton Police Chief and a former United States Attorney.

"John’s experience as a prosecutor and his track record as an advocate for victims and public safety make him the perfect candidate for Attorney General," Clackamas County DA John Foote.

Kroger’s priorities consist of combating the state’s meth crisis by pushing for tougher enforcement and treatment, holding polluters accountable by imposing fines and jail time and fighting for the civil rights of Oregonians.

“We need an attorney general who is experienced in court and knows how to enforce the law. I am proud to be supported by some many law enforcement leaders in Oregon,” Kroger said.

Kroger’s supporters also include Columbia County District Attorney Steve Atchison and Clatsop County DA Josh Marquis. Atchison is the current president of the Oregon District Attorneys Association (ODAA) and Foote and Marquis are both past presidents of the ODAA. Kroger is also endorsed by Umatilla Sheriff John Trumbo and Beaverton Police Chief Dave Bishop.

As a prosecutor, Kroger won major cases against mafia killers, corrupt government officials and drug kingpins. From 2002 to 2003, he helped prosecute the Enron Corporation. In recognition of his work, Kroger won awards and commendations from U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the State Department.

The current list of law enforcement leaders supporting Kroger are:
Umatilla County Sheriff John Trumbo
Beaverton Police Chief Dave Bishop
Former US Attorney Charlie Turner
Clackamas County DA John Foote
Marion County DA Walter Beglau
Clatsop County DA Josh Marquis
Columbia County DA Steve Atchison
Former Coos County DA Paul Burgett
Gilliam County DA Marion Weatherford
Harney County DA Tim Colahan
Klamath County DA Edwin Caleb
Lake County DA David Schutt
Lincoln County DA Bernice Barnett
Tillamook County DA Bill Porter
Union County DA Tim Thompson
Umatilla County DA Dean Gushwa
Wallowa County DA Mona Williams
Wasco County DA Eric Nisley
Wheeler County DA Thomas Cutsforth

Is it payday yet?

Christmas came and went, but some of the bills are still hanging around. Estimated taxes flew out the door as scheduled on January 15. A couple of other once-a-year tappers also showed up over the last few weeks.

So far the cash flow arrow for 2008 has been pointing in the wrong direction. Today, some relief is due. Deliver us, Lord.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Seattle DUI's may be off the hook

Looks like the old crime lab up that way has a few problems.

Blazers Junk Rumor of the Week

This makes no sense at all.

Reader poll: Who has a better chance to beat McCain?

Time to take our homemade Edwards banner down. Too bad you can't sell the truth in America. And so now we are down to two dubious contenders for the Democratic nomination, neither one particularly likable and both with serious electability questions.

I don't want another four years of a Republican White House, under John McCain or anybody else. But before declaring support for either opponent, it would be nice to know which one has the better chance of beating him. (Of course, if the Republicans nominate Romney, either Democrat will win.) I know what I think, but let's see how readers feel:

Which Democratic Presidential candidate stands a better chance of defeating John McCain in November?
pollcode.com free polls

Penetrating a new sector

Now that they don't have geniuses like Opie and Vera to wine and dine at Paley's any more, the bad boys of SoWhat have taken to trolling Gresham for new victims. Watch your wallet, rubes!


We've noted here that Sam the Tram plays rough. Well, here's a counter-blow that no one saw coming.

The collective nervous breakdown of the City of Portland has officially begun. What a hysterical ride it is going to be.

The only way to save America

This guy, like Bush, has got it right.

One hand washing the other

Last week the Portland police union head stuck up for Multnomah County Sheriff Bernie Giusto against charges that he's a liar and a scoundrel. Given that Bernie seems to do the same for every wayward officer under his own command, that's no surprise, is it?

And have a nice day

A friend of ours sends along this story that's apparently been circulating around the internet:

Two California Highway Patrol Officers were conducting speeding enforcement on I-15, North of MCAS (Marine CORP Air Station) Miramar. One of the officers was using a hand held radar device to check speeding vehicles approaching near the crest of a hill.

The officers were suddenly surprised when the radar gun began reading 300 miles per hour. The officer attempted to reset the radar gun, but it would not reset and turned off.

Just then a deafening roar over the treetops revealed that the radar had in fact locked onto a USMC F/A-18 Hornet which was engaged in a low flying exercise near the location.

Back at the CHP Headquarters the Patrol Captain fired off a complaint to the USMC Base Commander.

Back came a reply in true USMC style:

Thank you for the message, which allows us to complete the file on this incident. You may be interested to know that the tactical computer in the Hornet had detected the presence of, and subsequently locked onto your hostile radar equipment and automatically sent a jamming signal back to it. Furthermore, an air to ground missile aboard the fully armed aircraft had also automatically locked onto your equipment.

Fortunately the Marine Pilot flying the Hornet recognized the situation for what it was, quickly responded to the missile system alert status and was able to override the automated defense system before the missile was launched and your hostile radar was destroyed.

Thank you for your concerns.

Another torturer

God forgive America. And you wonder what this guy would do.

I swear, I conjure him up

Last night I jokingly made reference to the Welches con man in a post about the new KGW studio reportedly going in at Pioneer Courthouse Square. Just a few hours later, in comes this to my e-mailbox:

I was putting my two kids (3 & 1) in the van in our driveway. The street was eerily quiet, NO cars even parked on the street. All of the sudden this dinky pick-up comes off 33rd (our street in Laurelhurst deadends into 33rd -- a neighborhood through street) screaming up our street and whips into my driveway. I bristled before the guy even stuck his head out of the window...

He asked for some gas money (he could slow down for better gas mileage) b/c he needed to get home to his wife and two kids. It was him. The guy from your blog. I told him no--twice, then told him to get off my driveway. He finally left, squealing tires down the road like he was off to an emergency. I felt very vulnerable with two little kids and him blocking my driveway. But, I did get his license plate:

OR 037 BNA

It was a small pickup, white with the front panels a dull black. Not sure the make of the truck, I'm a numbers girl.

I don't feel comfortable putting my name to this on a public forum b/c the dude knows where I live now. But, as the resident collector of info on the WCM, I thought you should know.

He's still out there, and no one in the city or county government could give a rip. I guess he'll have to hurt someone physically before the Portland open-air mental health system responds.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Opie's moving again

Who knows what Erik Sten is up to, but whatever it is, he's not coming clean about it with the people who paid for his last campaign for an office that he apparently didn't want -- namely, the taxpayers of Portland.

Why would somebody trigger two sets of transaction costs on a $1.3 million house over a period of less than a year, selling into a down market, unless something screwy is going on? Opie won't say, and so I guess we'll all just have to speculate. As far as I can tell from PortlandMaps, he never sold his Irvington place, either.

Meanwhile, his chief office administrator is reportedly rushing around so that he can put in for more "clean money" to run in the special election coming up to fill the seat that his Big Idea boss is walking away from. When last I heard, there wasn't going to be any clean money for that election absent a rule change, but since nobody really seems to know what the rules are, what the hey. Nick Fish, if you don't put this guy away, you need to move back to Poughkeepsie.

Inching closer

Really big night tonight for John McCain. Giuliani is dead meat, and the Republicans aren't dumb enough to nominate Romney.

The Hillary piece doesn't matter much, but I can't imagine she can be stopped for the nomination, either.

I'll hold my nose and vote for her if I have to, but McCain is going to beat her. Then in a year or two he'll be deceased and his vice president Jeb Bush can take over.

I can stick it out, but maybe my kids ought to take a serious look at this.

It's only money

Interesting piece in the Times today about bail. And Oregon once again stands out as different.


Remember the plan to put an ice skating rink on Pioneer Courthouse Square? That bad idea fell through, thank goodness, but the Rockefeller Center analogies are back. KGW has announced that they're going to build a new television studio in the place where Powell's Travel Books used to be.

Will there be a plate glass window for us all to make faces in front of? Will the Welches con man hang around soliciting mail donations from viewers? Will we finally get to see whether the news anchors are wearing pants under the desk?

Twice as much nothing

Every single member of the Oregon Legislature -- especially the ones who are now aspiring to higher office -- should be ashamed that even with a special session, they can't get this fixed for another year and a half. The issue has been squarely presented for several years now. What a galling lack of leadership.

They don't get paid for their time, and sometimes they don't deserve to.

Final Bush State of the Union recap

Blah blah blah tax cuts blah blah blah surge blah blah blah terrorism blah blah blah wiretapping blah blah blah nucular Iran blah blah blah junk lawsuits blah blah blah Taliban blah blah blah school vouchers blah blah blah stem cell ban blah blah blah faith-based compassion blah blah blah Al Qaeda blah blah blah privatizing Social Security blah blah blah emissions-free nukes blah blah blah border fence blah blah blah 9/11 blah blah blah drawdown blah blah blah terrorism blah blah blah Holy Land blah blah blah we the people blah blah blah.

Big night

I've been up defragging my hard drive.

Monday, January 28, 2008

They're quite aware of what they're going through

Bean has found a good one.

Bounty hunters alert

Here's a quick way for an internet sleuth to pick up a cool $10K. It won't be as easy as figuring out who "torridjoe" is, but one of our readers can doubtlessly unmask the blogger in question.

Why we do it

Just ask Mom.

No extra charge

I never had a barber like this.

The other kind of "green"

Kevin Allman's got a great idea today down at the bottom of this post: a "Do Not Deliver" list for phone books!

While our state legislators are strutting around wasting time and money next week, maybe they could get around to looking at that idea. Just a thought.

Oops... never mind.

Charrette regret

More chaos at Portland Parks. Remember those "community open houses" that were supposed to be held this week and next, to discuss the planned jack-up of charges on new developments, with the funds going for parks? Well, one might not have expected much to come of those meetings, but whatever they were supposed to do, today we have been alerted that they have been postponed. No reason was given, and no new dates have yet been set.

Reader poll: All in the families

Who are you more sick of?
The Bushes
The Clintons
It's a tie
pollcode.com free polls

Why B.O. is now officially toast

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Hershey heroin ends production

But they're not pulling the old stuff off the shelf.

Our ticket out of the Middle East

If this turns out to be true, we may not be needing those guys too much longer.

A good one's gone

Here's some awful news. Condolences to the bereaved family and friends.

It starts early

When the Blazers were a bunch of thugs, we all tore our hair out. Was it the sudden acquisition of large amounts of money that turned so many players into law-flouting louts? Maybe not. It seems that the problems often begin at a younger age, and that the athletes' mentors in their student days are part of the problem.

Back on Cortland Street

When it comes to nostalgia, not much beats the internet. Over the holidays I wrote about buying our Christmas tree, from a guy named Whitey up the street from us, when we were growing up in "Down Neck" Newark. Whitey's son Michael soon stumbled across that post, and he left a nice comment, filling in some details that I had left out and properly correcting me on a few points.

More recently, I got an e-mail message from Mike in which he explained that he still drops into the old neighborhood every now and then. Best of all, he sent along some recent photos that show what the place is like now.

Here's how Whitey's old home looks these days:

There's the driveway where the cat spoiled our tree:

The gate has been pushed back a bit -- it used to be flush with the front of the house -- and that porch-like thing with the wrought iron wasn't there back in the day. There used to be some greenery -- I'm thnking maybe rose bushes or a little garden -- along the drive next to the house. And that's a huge recent addition in the back -- Mike referred to the remodeled version as "a house on steroids."

Here's another angle, looking south. Our four-plex was on the same side of the street, but it would be one of those waaaay down on the right edge of this photo:

One thing you don't see much of there is trees. Mike explains:

When we were growing up, the street was tree-lined, providing a shady canopy in summer. There was a huge maple tree in front of my house at 20 Cortland Street. It is gone now. The Portuguese and Brazilian immigrants have a very different view of greenery than the former Ironbound residents. They have a tendency to pave over their small backyards, creating a walled-in concrete palazzo. Most trees are ripped out -- even the ones they do not really own out in front....

Portuguese/Brazilian culture has many other things to recommend it. For one thing, their restaurants are great, they have a strong family ethic and the music is wonderful. They are a vibrant addition to the neighborhood and the city owes them a debt of gratitude for keeping the Ironbound section a step above the rest of Newark.

Michael also took a couple of shots of the schoolyard of the public Hawkins Street School across the street. It was here that we kids whiled away many after-school hours and hung out all summer long, even though most of us attended Catholic schools. He writes:

Turning right onto Cortland offers a mostly familiar scene with Hawkins Street School on the right where we used to play paddle ball, touch football, basketball and that quintessential urban game so popular in New York City and Newark -- stickball, which, for the benefit of all the "outlanders" on the west coast, is played with a broom stick as a bat, a pink Spalding Hi-Bouncer for a ball and the strike zone represented by a rectangular box drawn in chalk on the side of a building. In our neighborhood, since stickball was such an institution, the strike zone was painted permanently on the side of Hawkins Street School brick wall facing Cortland Street.

The schoolyard is smaller, and not just because I am bigger than when I was 12 years old. They have added onto some of the buildings over the years crowding out the main play area.

Here's a part of the schoolyard that, except for the security camera and the paint on the building (which was plain brick in our day), hasn't changed in 50 years:

This narrow area, on the edge of the school property, was excellent territory. I still have a scar on my knee to show for an evening when I was tearing around that corner of the building (running toward the camera in this view, and turning to your right). I hit some loose dirt near one of the drains in the blacktop, and dressed as I was in short pants, I left a chunk of knee skin behind.

Although the main after-school activities were centered on another part of the yard, many a game was played here, including some that Mike did not mention. For example, this side of the schoolyard, which the supervisors didn't frequent, was a good spot for the forbidden game "Hide the Belt," which mostly involved kids whipping each other.

Someone had also invented a sanctioned game called "Hit Off the Point." This involved the slate ledge that ran along the side of the building, just below the windows at ground level. One kid would be offense, and one would be defense. The offensive player would stand next to the wall and slam a Spaldeen against the "point" at close range. It was the defensive player's job to try to catch it on the fly, which would be an out. If he failed to do so, the ball was a single, double, triple, or home run, depending on how high or far it went. As you can see, on this side of the schoolyard the house next door was mighty close, and so a safe hit was judged a single, double, etc., based on how high it hit off the house or fence. Of course, it was legal for the defender to catch the ball off the house or fence for an out, so long as it didn't hit the ground first.

Another interesting thing we did was play stickball on a little "auxiliary" court down at the end of this stretch of schoolyard, along the wall in the background of this photo. The yard actually extends a little to the left around the corner down the far end of the cyclone fence, and there was just enough space there for a narrow little stickball court next to a fire escape. (The main stickball action was in another part of the yard.) The hitter stood in the back there, facing right to left, and the pitcher was throwing from outside this photo, left to right, with his back to the building, just inches away. This was another spot where you couldn't hit the ball for distance, and so the game was to see how high you could hit it. Onto the roof of the three-story building that the pitcher stood in front of -- that was a home run.

By the way, there was no running bases in "Hit Off the Point" or our version of stickball. It was all hitting on offense, and all pitching and catching on defense. We did have some games that involved baserunning, but not in this area of the yard.

Anyway, there were several hazards to playing on the auxiliary stickball court. One was that there was a single-story portion of the school building all along the court right next to the pitcher's spot and the batter's box, and so many a foul ball wound up on the roof of that part of the building. If your ball got stuck up there, you'd have to climb up the outside of the building and get it, which was way against schoolyard rules. But most of us kids were already practiced in climbing the fence to get into the schoolyard when it was closed, and as I said, the teachers didn't get back here much, and so somebody always braved it. There were cages on the windows and a little pipe of some kind to hold onto. I think I may have done it once, but generally I left that task to others. Although I hopped the fence hundreds of times to play in the schoolyard when it was closed, I never did like climbing that wall. (If no one was brave enough to go up there and there was only one ball, that was the end of that game. The next kid who climbed up would find two.)

Another hazard was that fair balls often landed in the yards of the folks who lived on the west side of Cortland Street, and you'd have to hop their fence or ring their doorbell to retrieve those. I believe it was one such fair ball that provoked an incident that is still discussed within my family to this day.

One of us boys had hit a Spaldeen or a sponge ball into Joe Browarski's yard. That was quite a hit, because he lived way down across from us at no. 35. Mr. Browarski was known to most neighbors as "Dziadzia," meaning "Grandpa" in Polish and definitely at that time and place pronounced "JAH-jee." Now, Jahjee was, shall we say, more than a wee bit territorial. For example, he had a homemade sign on his front gate that said "No Parking or Turning in Driveway." O.k., we could all see the no parking part, but no turning? That was Jahjee.

He, like Whitey, also had a big, snarling dog who didn't take to strangers. And so if a kid hit a ball in Jahjee's yard, there was no sneaking in to get it out. You'd need a grownup's help. When we rang the bell, hoping against hope that Mrs. B. would be on sentry, instead out onto the porch stepped Jahjee, who when informed of our predicament, replied -- and I quote -- "If you want your goddamn ball go get your goddamn mother."

Continue reading "Back on Cortland Street" »

Saturday, January 26, 2008

For English, press 1

Here's a voice mail message that the sender would probably like to take back.

Across the river to the Jersey side

When we finished the business aspects of our recent trip to New York City, we headed across the Hudson to New Jersey, there to spend some time with our mother and sister. The frigid weather that had greeted us upon our arrival in the area several days before had broken, and our time in Jersey started with a mild version of winter and ended up positively spring-like and sunny.

When New York was our playground many years ago, the way we got between there and our Jersey home was usually the PATH train under the river. It runs from Penn Station and the World Trade Center in New York to Hoboken, Jersey City, and Newark on the other side. The waits and the rides could be interminable, and on weekends the trips to Jersey City and Newark always involved an unwanted stop in Hoboken, which in those days was a dump of a train station. The trip was predominantly underground -- the train didn't get out of the tunnels until it was well west of the river in Jersey City -- and it was a fairly gloomy affair. The windows of the train reflected back images of the passengers in their fluorescent subterranean pallor. But for 30 cents each way, we didn't complain much.

All that is in the past tense now, as there's a private company that runs a network of ferries between the big city and various points in Hudson County, New Jersey. Clean, fast, open, airy, and with a network of free shuttle buses to get you to and from your land destination in Manhattan. It all runs so smoothly, it must be a Mafia deal, but hey -- it's New York and New Jersey, so stop thinking about it and enjoy. It was a Saturday morning when we flagged down one of those buses a few blocks from our hotel for a short hop to the nice, sleek ferry terminal. The place was fairly deserted at that hour, but one could tell from the size of the facility that lots of commuters must use the boats during the workweek.

We paid our fare ($7.50 one way) at the window and headed outside, down by the piers to wait for the ferry. From there we got to gaze across the water to Weehawken, where we were headed. We've written about that town here before -- especially in our college days, it was a place of great romance -- and from the docks its palisades can be seen quite clearly on a sunny day.

When the ferry arrived, it was packed with Jerseyans who were on their way into New York. As it was now around noon, many of them were likely theatergoers on their way to Broadway matinees. They wasted little time piling out, and the ferry guys hustled our smaller group, heading in the other direction, on board. We wheeled our suitcase and laptop behind us onto the boat, grateful that we weren't trying to do this during rush hour. A few minutes later, still not quite believing that we had just traversed the surface of the Hudson (although we've done it at least a half dozen times over the years), there we were in Weehawken, where as always our wonderful sis was there to pick us up.

We rarely fail to have a fantastic time when we revisit the Garden State, and this round was no exception. As the years progress, family conversations contain increasingly more medical information that one might wish, but such is life. As ever, the food and company were splendid.

A couple of scenes stand out from the trip. One involved blogging. Our mom accesses the internet on her television set, via something called WebTV. It's ghastly, but it serves her purposes, and she doesn't seem the least bit interested in owning an actual computer. This meant that our time spent at her place was going to be time spent more or less away from the intertubes. One thing is for sure -- one is not going to be running Movable Type blogging software on WebTV. As the kids say, LOL! And there wasn't a wireless signal to be found at her place.

After nearly a day of this deprivation, of course, our blogging fingers were getting extremely itchy, and between that and the fact that we had consumed huge quantities of mom's cooking, we decided that it was time to take a walk. We would head out onto the streets of Lyndhurst, New Jersey, looking to find an internet hotspot.

We know what you're thinking -- no problem, Starbucks, or some other coffee shop, right? Wrong! This may come as a shock, but there is no Starbucks in Lyndhurst, New Jersey! Nor is there even anything resembling a coffee house. It's like trying to get a newsstand copy of the The New York Times there. Sometimes in Jersey, although you're 15 minutes from the center of the universe, you're in a truly remote place.

Anyway, it was a nice enough late afternoon, and on we happily trudged up the main drag of the town as the short winter day turned to evening. Once in a while there'd be a bus bench, and we'd plop down and crack open the laptop, looking for a wireless signal. Maybe we could snag a connection out of that doctor's office over there, or that realtor's office over there. Quite a few nice old residences along that road have long been converted into professional offices. But nope -- no wireless signal that you didn't need a password for.

One of the errands on our list was to pick up some sort of wire at the local Radio Shack to try to fashion into an AM antenna for mom's radio. While we were in there, we asked the young man who waited on us where we could find a wi-fi signal. He suggested the nearby Restaurant Formerly Known as Perkins Pancake House. Sounded like a plan.

We walked into Perkins (a new establishment in that particular strip mall) and asked the teenage girls at the reception booth if the place had wi-fi. "Er, um, I don't think so..." one offered hesitantly. But just then a bright-faced boy waiter stepped over and said, "No, wait, I think we do. You can come in and try, anyway." And so we did. Lo and behold, there was indeed a wireless signal in the restaurant, but it was encoded with a password. The manager, more like our age, came over and explained that the wireless was new, and it would eventually be open to customers, but the staff didn't even have the password themselves yet. Rather than send us away just then, she went into her office and called their IT guy, who didn't have the password handy. "Would you like to use the computer in the office?" she asked us sweetly. Who says people in New Jersey aren't polite and helpful? We allowed as how no, that wouldn't be necessary, and back onto the street we headed.

By now it was dark, and we were about ready to give up, but the Town Hall was just a block away, and there were a few benches out in front of it on the corner of the building. What the heck, we thought, one more try. "View Available Wireless Networks" again, for the umpteenth time, and there, ever so faint, fading in and out, so sketchy that it wouldn't stay put, was an unsecure connection that said "Lyndhurst Public Library." Jackpot! If only we could get close enough.

We hailed a passerby, who looked at us, seated on the bench under a dim streetlight, as if we were crazy. "Excuse me, sir! Where is the Public Library?" "It's right over there," he said, pointing to the building next door, "but I think it's closed now." "That's o.k.," we said gleefully, "I'm just wanting to use their internet signal." The fellow walked away briskly, doubtlessly convinced that we were about to cause him, ourselves, or both grave harm of some sort.

Anyway, we found another bench in front of the library, where the signal was indeed quite good. We left this post, scrolled through the usual ton of e-mail, and logged off. Through the wonders of cell phone technology, we alerted mom and sis that our walk had been a success, and we were heading back their way.

I'm sure that, just as it did for the gentlemen who steered us to the library, this incident confirmed for the two of them that we have completely lost our mind.

But of course, quite the opposite was true. Reuniting the blogger's life of our geezerhood with the people and places of our youth was one of the sanest things we have ever done. And on that score, the best -- by far -- was yet to come.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Birds of a feather

Hey Bernie, when you hit the road, take your new best friend with you.

Smackdown in fur protest lawsuit

Score another one for the animal rights crowd.

Try fiber

I've been there.

Have a great weekend

Reader poll: Will police oversight report lead to change?

Portlanders are a perceptive group, by and large. They have no confidence in the system whereby residents' charges of police misconduct are processed. Why should they? It rarely amounts to a hill of beans. Portland police officers can kill people without justification and they're usually back on the street without any serious consequences. The d.a. here would never indict a cop for anything.

And so now another expert has come in and told us what we already knew about all that. But, irony of ironies:

The same day the critical report was made public, the director of the Independent Police Review Division that manages the police oversight system said she had just accepted an offer to take a job in the Portland Police Bureau. Leslie Stevens will be responsible for monitoring police conduct in a new Office of Professional Standards.
"Independent," and yet interviewing for a job with them at the same time? Ain't that the Portland way.

Anyway, the mayor and the police chief say they're taking the expert's report under advisement. Do you think it will lead to change? Or will it just get round-filed?

Will the new report on Portland police oversight make a difference in how police misconduct charges are handled in the future?
pollcode.com free polls

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Bad day at anger management class

I hate it when this happens.

Greg Mac plays meth card

One of the things that John Kroger talks about right off the top in his race for Oregon attorney general is that he'll be tough on methamphetamine. So far out in front has he been on that theme that he's got some people wondering whether his opponent in the Democratic primary, Greg Macpherson, really has much to say about it. Today Mac sent around an e-mail message showing his interest in the problem:

Oregon Shuts Down Meth Labs
Focus Should Shift to Traffickers

Just four years ago, home meth labs were one of the biggest public safety threats we faced in Oregon. All across the state, addicts were cooking meth in rental houses and apartments, contaminating the structures and destroying communities. Neighbors watched helplessly as neglected children wandered the streets while their addicted parents cooked, sold, and consumed meth. And property values dropped because of illegal drug traffic.

At the time, Oregon law enforcement was busting over 40 home labs per month. But that wasn't really solving the problem, because new labs would immediately replace the ones that were shut down. We had to cut off the source.

Today, we can celebrate the progress we've made. But the job of eradicating meth isn't done. We have to keep the pressure on.

The progress came because in 2005 I joined with three other Judiciary Committee colleagues and Governor Kulongoski to pass a first-in-the-nation law that has virtually shut down home meth labs inside the state. The law bans over-the-counter sales of pseudo-ephedrine, the key ingredient used to make meth.

Until then, addicts were buying or stealing off store shelves various cold and allergy remedies that use pseudo-ephedrine as a decongestant.

Some urged us to enact long mandatory prison sentences for cooking meth, following the approach of the federal War on Drugs. But no one I know thinks the feds are winning the War on Drugs. We needed a better solution - prevention, not just more prisons.

The state had already placed pseudo-ephedrine behind store counters months earlier. But then the four of us went "smurfing," each buying the maximum legal amount of pseudo-ephedrine in several stores near the Capitol. In about an hour we bought enough to keep a meth addict going for a couple of months, proving that behind-the-counter alone was not enough.

So we proposed the toughest law in the country, requiring a doctor's prescription to buy pseudo- ephedrine. Big drug companies, fearing a loss of sales, sent lobbyists to Oregon to try to stop it. But we stood our ground and the law was passed. Our meth law also funded drug courts, which supervise addicted offenders so they get clean and stay clean, and authorized new drug treatment programs inside the state prison system.

The result has been dramatic. Without access to pseudo-ephedrine, local meth labs disappeared. In 2007, Oregon law enforcement found just 18 home labs (down from 448 in 2004).

But as I said, the job's not done. Neighborhoods are safer because local meth labs have been shut down. But Oregon still has a big meth problem.

Now it's being brought in from labs in other states and in Mexico, some big and some small. So we need to do three things:

First, local prevention. We must continue to fund drug courts and provide treatment to addicted offenders.

Second, apply Oregon's innovations at the national level. Requiring prescriptions for pseudo-ephedrine works. The federal government should follow our approach, which would shut down the vast majority of the home labs, many of which are currently supplying addicts in Oregon. It also should restrict imports of pseudo-ephedrine from Asia because too much of it ends up cooked into meth.

Finally, we need to step up enforcement against big traffickers from Mexico. The Oregon State Police should be given more resources to go after drug operations that move around the state when chased by local police.

We're making progress against meth. But there's still a lot more to be done.

Good politics, albeit a little late perhaps.

My sentiments exactly

And I do mean exactly.

Live longer

Fight with your spouse.

Trials, tribulations, and bloggers

Freelancers on the internet keep changing the way things are done in this world. But are they really just "nutcases with no lives"?

Lighten up

Here's something bright for the lengthening days.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Big night for Ime Udoka

I miss this guy. He's starting to come on for the Spurs.

The SLUT's running empty

Up in Seattle, they're finding out that when you actually charge people money to ride a streetcar, a lot fewer ride. Ironically, they're drawing a big contrast with Portland, where golly, people still ride even though fares are charged. "How does Portland do it?"

One cup at a time

Have you had your coffee made in a Clover yet?

Filling Bernie's shoes

We noted last week that Sheriff Bernie has left the building over at the Tri-Met board of directors. Governor Ted has replaced him with a Teamsters representative, Lynn Lehrbach, who we noted is, among other things, an avid Lyndon LaRouche supporter. For us local politics fans, it was fascinating stuff.

Anyway, we also noticed at that time, through the wonders of Google, that Lehrbach had filed an appeal of his personal Multnomah County income tax obligations, and even had a hearing before the county commissioners themselves last September regarding his liability under that tax for the three years it was in existence. Just out of curiosity, we asked to see what the appeal was all about, and the clerk of the county board supplied us with an audiotape of the commissioners' meeting at which Lehrbach appeared and made his pitch for why he didn't owe as much "I-Tax" as the county taxing authorities said he did.

To kick the proceedings off, it was revealed that Lehrbach had previously buttonholed both County Chair Ted Wheeler and Commissioner Lonnie Roberts to discuss his tax issues, and so both of them had to recuse themselves from hearing his case. That left the two remaining mean girls, Lisa Naito and Maria Rojo de Steffey, and rookie Jeff "Little Big Pipe" Cogen to hear Lehrbach's appeal. Everyone on the board was quite polite and deferential to the guy, and most of them seemed to know him. Even the county tax administrators were quite friendly to him.

What Lehrbach presented to the board was going nowhere fast. He argued that although he was clearly a full-year resident of the county, he should not have to pay county income tax either on the money he earned working out of state or on his private pension benefits. The county ordinance imposing the tax is quite clear on both points, but Lehrbach wanted to be heard about why he and other similarly situated shouldn't have to pay taxes on such receipts.

He made a rambling speech about a wide range of topics -- safe streets, mental health facilities, schools, and his willingness to pay his fair share for important causes -- but it was short on decent arguments. As for his out-of-state income, his statement was, in its entirety, "I didn't earn it here; why would I pay tax here?" On his pension income, Lehrbach had at least a glimmer of an argument -- that it is unfair to tax private pensions while federal and state employees' pensions are exempt from the tax.

All of this may have made perfectly appropriate commentary to the board if it were first considering the ordinance to impose the tax. But that ordinance has long since been passed, administrative rules have been promulgated under the ordinance, and years of practice and precedent have been established. There's no going back now. The commissioners were not blunt with Lehrbach, however; they hemmed and hawed a bit before the three who were participating all voted to deny his appeal. Indeed, Cogen said that taxing private pensions was a bad policy decision; Wheeler chimed in later that had the public focused on the distinction the I-Tax was making between public and private pensions, the I-Tax would not have passed.

All told, it did not appear to have been the best use of everyone's 23 minutes. But it's a testament to the commissioners that they handled the matter with such politeness. One might have expected other taxing bodies to be a bit more abrupt.

In any event, the newest member of the Tri-Met board sounded like a nice old fellow who will stick to his guns about a few things that he feels strongly about, and not get too bogged down in technicalities on most matters. How that will play out on a crony board like Tri-Met isn't exactly clear, but when the Machine Formerly Known as Goldschmidt conducts business as usual over there, I wouldn't expect Lehrbach to rock the boat.

The next big "green, sustainable" thing

Toll booths.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008


Here's an interesting Craigslist posting: A Portland City Council candidate is advertising for a campaign manager. The listed contact is this guy, and so the politician must be one of the Bus Kids' pals.

Grampy calls a foul on Sam the Tram

As well he should.

OHSU money woes: "It's all Jordaan Clarke's fault"

The bad fiscal news from up on Pill Hill took a turn for the worse just before the holiday weekend. Now they're going to lay off a couple hundred employees or more, because they're broke and have to start cutting some programs. This is disastrous news for the affected workers, and potentially catastrophic for some patients as well.

The management explanation of the move ranks among the most clutsy p.r. strategies in recent Oregon bureaucratic history -- and that's saying a lot. The reason for the layoffs and cutbacks, they say, is the Oregon Supreme Court's recent ruling that the statutory $200,000 cap on OHSU liability for negligence by its staff was unconstitutional. Now OHSU will have to buy actual malpractice insurance, and that's so expensive, the institution says, that it has no choice but to pass out the hundreds of pink slips. As the O reported it on Friday:

Oregon Health & Science University plans to announce today that it will cut 200 to 300 jobs, raise tuition by 10 percent to 25 percent, trim construction on Portland's South Waterfront, and restructure or close a score of clinical, research and education programs.

The cutbacks are OHSU's first specific responses to an Oregon Supreme Court ruling in late December that cleared the way for the family of a brain-damaged child to pursue millions of dollars in malpractice damages from the university.

The ruling effectively eliminated a liability cap of $200,000 designed to protect state agencies from major damage awards.

Tying the medical school's fiscal crisis to the court decision, in the case brought by the family of Jordaan Clarke, is such a flimflam. For one thing, OHSU has been crying the blues about lack of money for several months now. Even before the ruling, the high-priced prez of the institution was moaning about running out of money in 20 months, or some such thing.

Moreover, the adverse court case was certainly not a surprise. Everyone had seen it coming for quite a while. No one on the state's high court thought that OHSU's position had any merit. Neither did the Court of Appeals, which also ruled unanimously against the hospital on the issue that has now been resolved.

And so what's the responsible way for OHSU to react? One thing it could have done would be to go to the Legislature with a generous new cap -- maybe $2 million or so, to be automatically adjusted for inflation every year. With that in place, the next thing would be to bite the bullet, go into the market, and buy malpractice coverage, just like pretty much every other hospital and doctor you know does. Yes, it's expensive, but when your personnel violate established standards of care and wreck someone's life, the insurance is there to make the victim whole. That's how the law works for everyone else, and it should apply to OHSU as well.

Even if the docs didn't get the public policy job done in the last legislative session, surely they could be doing it right now, in the regularly scheduled "special" session that's about to begin. You get your high-priced lobbyist, you go to Salem, you cut a deal.

But apparently, no. From OHSU we seem to be getting a much different program. Whine about it. Lay off a bunch of people. Tell the world the sky is falling. Throw a tantrum.

It's not a sympathetic picture. And of course, the public wants to hear none of it. OHSU has been blustering and bullying its way around Portland for at least a decade now, most recently threatening to run to Hillsboro unless it got its way with its outlandish land use plans. It built its foolish health club building and infernal aerial tram [rim shot], blowing tens of millions and lying through its teeth about the costs. The folks running the place thought the school and its good buddy Neil Goldschmidt would make themselves a nice killing in real estate speculation.

But it didn't work out that way. The health club is reliably reported to be hemorrhaging money at the rate of $1 million a year. The SoWhat District biotech-nanotech fantasy self-deflated at the slightest pinprick. The tram, which cost OHSU -- what? $40 million to build? -- is now costing them probably a million and a half a year to run. Rumors are swirling that OHSU is still obligated by its contracts with the city or the condo weasels to build a new parking garage in SoWhat, at a cost in the mid-eight figures, over the next few years.

And when all these chickens come home to roost? Blame it on the justices of the Supreme Court. Blame it on those damn trial lawyers. Blame it on Jordaan Clarke.

My heart goes out to the people who are about to lose their jobs up there, but if they were smart, they'd realize where their gripe really lies. It's with Dr. Peter Kohler and his captive board, who created the mess the place is in today. And with their cheerleaders on the O editorial board, who helped them sell their ill-conceived empire and will continue to blow smoke around it long after the furloughed workers have cleaned out their desks.

In the end, the people of Oregon probably could be persuaded to provide more financial support to OHSU. But they're going to have to be convinced that the arrogance and short-sightedness that built the aerial tram and the toney salt-water swim club are things of the past. So far, we're not seeing any such change in attitude.

[Photos courtesy Miles Hochstein / Portland Ground.]

It's a tossup

Which of these two has the best chance of winning in November? They're both so shallow, they make me ill, but I want so badly for the Republican to lose.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Inside the ivory tower, a copyright robo-cop?

With all the problems in our nation and the world today, you would think that Congress would have better things to do than threaten to withhold federal financial aid from college campuses unless they subject their students to spyware supplied by movie studios and record companies in a fruitless attempt to stop students from copying music and movies. This is much like the invasive software that Sony was surreptitiously installing on people's computers when they played a music CD on the computers; now it's supposed to come as part of your college curriculum.

He did it again

The amazing reversal of the fortunes of the Portland Trail Blazers continued today with an overtime win in a day game in Atlanta. Hitting the game-winning shot with a second left to go in the extra period was sinewy small forward Travis Outlaw. I had begun to give up on the guy at the start of the season, but this is now his second game-ending jumper in as many months. Good for him.

No day like today

A reader writes:

Due to the very cold weather, the Red Cross has set up a warming center at the Four Square Church at SE 14th & Ash for the past two nights, and are planning to be open every night this week. The warming center gives the outdoor poor a warm place to sleep and coffee and soup.

I stopped by last night and they are very low on some items. While they have plenty of coffee, they could really use hot chocolate packets, tea bags, instant oatmeal, instant soups- stuff like that. It would really be great if we could bring some of the needed items to the center. If you happen to be doing some grocery shopping today, perhaps you could toss something for the warming center into your basket. Donations can be dropped off at The Red Cross (if you need a receipt for taxes) or directly at the warming center.

This would be a great time to look through your closets and see if you have any unwanted or extra hats, gloves, scarves, blankets. These could also be given out at the center.

I was out last night giving away those foil emergency blankets to homeless campers, and it was brutally cold. The blankets are also something helpful you can buy as they weigh nothing and really keep body heat in. They are available at Andy & Bax for about $1.50. If you buy ten or more, there is a 10% discount. Andy & Bax also carry emergency sleeping bags with hoods, made from the same material, for $3.99. The emergency blankets are also available at Fred Meyer in the camping department.

UPDATE, 3:43 p.m.: The reader sends this update:

I just had a conversation with Mike Fish of the Red Cross today and they do not usually accept "spontaneous" donations at the site. They want to have the same items at each center for "continuity's sake". However, I have had such a huge positive response from people wanting to help, that we have come up with a plan.

What we have worked out is that I will be at the warming center at Four Square Church tonight from 7pm-9pm to accept donations and distribute them to people as they come in. I will also be out distributing space blankets, and hopefully hot drinks on my Foot Patrol route early tonight and maybe the next few nights. There are quite a lot of people still camping outside, and it's horribly cold. I can always use help on the Foot Patrol, * * * even for one night. It's really an eye-opener to be out there and talk to these people. They are so grateful for any help that it's a humbling experience (and a reality check for me!).

* * * * *

You can make a donation to the Red Cross directly, or sign up to volunteer (you will need to do a quick free on-line background check).

The volunteer shifts are:

Shift 1: 7pm-10:30pm (set up equipment, serve food/coffee, guests enter
at 8pm, lights out at 10pm)

Shift 2: 10pm-5:30am (monitor events through the night)

Shift 3: 5am-8:30am (wake up at 6am, serve more food/coffee, guests
leave by 7am, clean up facility)

The facilities are the Estate Hotel (225 NW Couch St), Cavalry Christian Church (126 NE Alberta), and the Foursquare Church (1303 SE Ankeny St.) They still need volunteers from Tuesday through Friday nights.

You can also contact Transition Projects (www.tprojects.org) for a list of places that can really use your donations.

Thanks so much for all of your positive input. I had just sent the "send" button on my computer and within a minute had a call from someone who is donating money to buy space blankets. Plus I've had lots and lots of emails with offers of food, etc. I'm so proud of your compassion and generosity -- showing once again that Buckman is a great neighborhood filled with great people!

Up from the plains

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Familiar flap

I see there's a bit of a brouhaha going on down in Texas over a political candidate who ran a campaign ad with his own head Photoshopped onto the image of a politician with a much trimmer body than his own. Although this obviously raises some serious issues, the problem is nothing new. Indeed, this sort of trick photography is sometimes seen in our own region.

Can't miss with the G-Men

The New York Football Giants have advanced to the Super Bowl, winning playoff game after playoff game that they were favored to lose. Tonight they had us hooting and hollering at the tube to the point at which the other members of our household, all of the female persuasion, were shaking their heads.

It was mostly a nostalgia thing for us, but it also helped out in the pro football underdog pool, where we believe we wound up in fourth place, just a half-point behind the fellow in third. Considering the dreadful mid-season we had, that was a nice finish. Congratulations to the money winner in the group.

And so begins two weeks of Super Bowl hype. Now that the pool is over, the point spread starts to matter to us again. If given the chance, we'll be taking the Giants with the points.

Saturday, January 19, 2008


The Blazers took their lumps in Orlando tonight. It was not a huge surprise. Portland had had its hands full squeaking out a win over Dwayne Wade in Miami the night before, and Orlando's a legitimate team these days. Not only that, the Magic had had two days' rest.

The Blazers play again in Atlanta on Monday, MLK Day. Game time is 11 a.m. Pacific! Mimosas, or just a nice coffee? It's supposed to be pretty cold here by then.

Stirring up gridiron ghosts

Big doings in pro football tomorrow. The New York Giants (technically from New Jersey nowadays) play the Green Bay, Wisconsin Packers for the championship of the National Football Conference. The game will be played in frigid weather, as one would expect for Wisconsin (or New York, for that matter) in January. The incredible violence of American football will combine with the brutal cold to set the stage for a classic battle of human toughness.

The last time these two teams did this, I was a boy of around eight years old, living in New Jersey and rooting for the Giants. Back then, this championship was the pinnacle of the entire National Football League, but today it just sets the stage for the Super Bowl, where the National Conference champ takes on the American Conference champ, in two weeks. (In those days, before any Super Bowl, there was an entire American Football League, in which New York had a team, the Titans, that we real football fans couldn't have cared less about.)

Ah, the rosters. For the Giants: Y.A. Tittle, Alex Webster, Del Shofner, Frank Gifford, Sam Huff, Andy Robustelli. For the Packers: Bart Starr, Paul Hornung, Ray Nitschke (who went on to play a guy named Bogdanski in a major motion picture -- you could look it up), Jim Taylor, Herb Adderley, and of course Coach Vince Lombardi. Those were unspeakably essential football games, in which the men played under the influence of not human growth hormone but Seagram's 7. The championship took place on the Sunday of Christmas week. It was every bit as cold back then as it will be tomorrow. There were no girlie "playoffs" -- the two best teams went head to head in a single game, period.

Tomorrow we'll be looking at Plaxico Burress, but we'll be seeing Jim Katcavage.

This is our country

[Via Cousin Jim.]

It's over for Edwards

The Democratic Presidential candidate who had the best chance of winning the general election was more or less eliminated today. It's looking an awful lot like McCain vs. Hillary.

Sadly, he'll win. Alternatively, once they get done talking about whatever drugs Obama snorted, McCain would beat him, too.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Have a great weekend

Horrible, horrible word that I never want to hear again


And for the Chapter 9 Streetcar, no less. Forgive them, Father, they know not what they do.

Big odometer turn

This blog just had its 2,000,000th unique visit:

Our 1,000,000th came in on September 12, 2006. That works out to 2,028 unique visits a day since then. Thanks to everyone who visits here.

End of an era

Brandon over at Welcome to Blog is changing his domain name from laurabush.info to something not as interesting, but less confusing. Ah, soon it will be gone, but laurabush.info was one of the better URL addresses that I've ever surfed. Who will ever forget?

Good luck with the new domain name, Brandon. (Via VanPortlander.)

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Your tax dollars at work

It looks like we may have no fewer than five politicians whose campaigns we Portland taxpayers are going to finance in the race to take over Sam the Tram's City Council seat. At $145,000 each, that's $725,000 for the primary alone. Not to mention what we'll burn for two of them in the general election.

So when your mailbox fills up with junk and the phone calls interrupt your dinner from now 'til November, don't get mad. Take heart. Remember, you're paying for it.

PCC wants another $374 million

I hate to sound like an old Republican coot, but they're dreaming. We're all way too broke for this. It's time for a new coat of paint and another decade at least with the facilities they've already got:

Property owners in Multnomah, Washington, Columbia, Yamhill and parts of Clackamas counties are still paying for a $144 million bond measure from 2000 that financed renovations, technology and new buildings, including a $60 million overhaul of the Cascade campus in North Portland. Those bonds won't be paid off 2018, and the $374 million proposal would add to PCC's current levy on property tax bills.
If they're willing to live with a failed levy, I guess they can try. But I'm thinking "nonstarter."

John Edwards doesn't exist

Never mind that he's still got a chance to win -- the geniuses at KATU have counted him out already.

You want to know what's wrong with Presidential elections? You can start with the way the mainstream media ruins them.


Here's the Odd News Story of the Day.


Something that Portland City Auditor Gary Blackmer and I agree on.

Going for the gusto

Here's a Washington State student who gives what he does 200 percent.

Batting 1.000

Looks like old Governor Ted has applied enough Spray 'n' Wash to the skid marks he's been picking up from Sheriff Bernie. That fearless rescuer of damsels in distress has been replaced as the east county representative on the Tri-Met board by a Teamsters guy. Too bad for the sheriff -- one less place to meet babes.

But it gets even funnier. The Teamsters guy who's replaced him, Lynn Lehrbach, turns out to be a big Lyndon LaRouche backer! I see he also got into it with Multnomah County over his personal income tax obligations.

You can't make this stuff up. Another great appointment, Ted.

Kissin' cousins

Gordon Smith and Gatsby Wyden.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Tri-Met re-defines "hearing"

This is an event where the public gets to speak its mind, but only to a professional "facilitator" who doesn't work for Tri-Met. Nobody from the agency leadership has the decency to show up and listen.

I remember when the federal goons from Hanford used to come down and do the same thing. It's government at its absolute lowest. Special recognition goes out to all the Goldschmidt boys running the transit pork barrel; they're breaking new ground here locally.

Dead duck

A toney Portland eatery has bitten the dust after its battle with animal rights protesters over foie gras. Cause and effect? We'll probably never know for sure.

Bad penny

Portland's monument to wasted paper, Portland Monthly, is spinning off another empty publication -- this one about architecture, called Spaces. Now, when you're going for really, really pretentious, you have to have the right guy at the helm. They've chosen well.

More on Portland water billing "service" charges

Our two recent posts about water billing by the City of Portland have elicited some interesting responses. One reader who was victimized by the city's abrupt price-jacking maneuvers wrote in with this:

I read your blog and saw that you were talking about the water bureau and the base charges. I thought you might like some of the back story on this issue.

I am a SE Portland resident who has a well but am on sewer. For many years the Water Bureau has been collecting the sewer payments and just tacked on a small base charge for expenses. This situation changed for me this last July. My base charge went up 597% at that time from around $3+ to $19-20 per bill and my bill went to monthly.

I tried with PWB and BES to find out why and fix this. Long story short, this didn't come from BES, and the PWB from top and bottom either didn't know what was happening or just stated this was being done as a service to me. Well, I really don't care for this kind of service so I complained and met the old brick wall and after many calls.

I called the ombudsman office and Kristen Erbes from that office listened and was very helpful. She worked on this for several months and the final outcome was that the PWB didn't have ordinance to back this up. The PWB had done this as a business decision and even though they agreed to switch all 205 well owners back to quarterly they wouldn't refund the extra charges because it wasn't a mistake.

I think that information has been in the media already, but what was more interesting to me was the ombudsman's final report on the incident, which the reader also sent me. I've posted it here. In it, the ombudsman's office made some observations that imply criticism beyond the sewer-only customers' complaints:

While the Ombudsman certainly appreciates the convenience monthly billing would provide many customers, we do not believe this convenience should come at a price of $150 more per year. This is especially true for sewer-only well accounts where a meter is not even read.

The Ombudsman looked at comparable jurisdictions and the service charges they issue to see how Portland's charges compare. As shown in the following table, Portland's service charges for monthly billed accounts are higher than service charges levied by other comparable jurisdictions.

Annual Combined Water/Sewer Billing Charges

Estimated Charges per Year

Kansas CityN/A$139.50$202.68
[Footnotes omitted. -- JB]

Other utilities including both Seattle and Northwest Natural provide budget billing or average billing in which the estimated annual usage is divided into 11 monthly installments and the final bill refunds the customer if their usage falls below the estimated amount or bills the customer if their usage exceeds the estimated amount. This is a customer service provided without additional charge.


* * * * *

2. The Water Bureau should go further to balance the convenience of more frequent billing and the cost that is passed on to customers. The Water Bureau reports that they offer budget/equalized billing for free. If this alternative exists, then it is hard to justify switching accounts to monthly billing at an added cost of $150 per year.

3. The City Council should look closely at the difference in base charges between quarterly, bi-monthly, and monthly accounts before adopting the next rate ordinance to ensure Portland Water Bureau Customers are being charged fairly for the services they receive.

It looks to me as though Portland is the only city among its peers that is charging for the "privilege" of quarterly billing, and that it's charging up a storm for bimonthly and monthly billing as well. While the city is surveying water customers about what sort of billing they'd prefer, it ought to ask itself why it has to charge so much for billing compared to other cities.

Party on

The liars' budget to build Milwaukie MAX is up to $1.4 billion.

Nothing better to do

Here's a story of local law enforcement hard at work down in the Bay Area.

Last call for underdogs

We picked another winner last weekend in the pro football underdog pool -- the hard-working Giants of New Jersey beat the pampered Cowboys of Dallas. But since Bean also had a winner -- San Diego over Indy -- we're probably doomed to a fourth-place finish (at best) in the season-long pool, which ends this weekend. No bucks for us.

Nonetheless, there's stuff to think about as the two conferences hold their championship games. Can either of the 'dogs (in caps) win its game, on the road, outright?

14 SAN DIEGO at New England
7 NEW YORK GIANTS at Green Bay

If your 'dog wins its game outright (without the help of a point spread), you get the number of points to the left of that particular game.

Preliminarily, I like the Giants more than the Chargers. But dagnabbit, this is the last round before the Super Bowl, and I suppose anything can happen.

For the three folks still in the running to win money in the pool, it's a tough call. They need to worry as much about which teams the other players are picking as about which teams are going to win their games. Some or all of the pool could well be settled before any football is played.

For example, if all three players pick the same 'dog, the pool is over and they finish in their current standings relative to each other, regardless of which teams win and lose. If either player no. 2 or player no. 3 picks the same team as player no. 1 does, then that no. 2 or no. 3 is eliminated from contention as overall winner, again regardless of outcome. No. 3 can stay alive for the top spot only if, among other things, no. 1 and no. 2 pick the same team and no. 3 picks the other...

... I think. It's mind-numbing. The whole process is fun to watch, though -- which was the point of this exercise all along. A winner will be crowned quite soon.

So, do you like either 'dog this week?

Real change for America

There's been an ongoing debate for a quite a while now about whether the United States should follow Canada and get rid of paper one-dollar and two-dollar bills. It looks like the stalemate on the issue is finally being broken with this plan, which makes an awful lot of sense.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Guess who's back

Shaved head and all -- perfect.

Gloves come off in state a.g. race

This just in from the Kroger camp:

Today, Attorney General candidate John Kroger was ambushed by Rep. Greg Macpherson in the very first negative, personal attack of any statewide candidate for office in the 2008 election. Macpherson launched his attack in both a press release and during a joint appearance with Kroger before the Young Professionals of Portland.

"This not just politics as usual, this is the politics of desperation," said John Kroger. "When candidates have nothing to say about the issues, or their career, they get nasty. I’m a Marine Corps veteran. I have fought the mafia, drug lords, and Enron. I think I can handle Greg Macpherson."

Rep. Macpherson attacked Kroger today for accepting contributions from persons outside the state. "Yes, I accepted contributions from fellow prosecutors who live outside Oregon who took on Enron and the mafia with me. I accepted money from environmentalists all over the nation who are excited about my endorsement by the Sierra Club and my plan to get tough on polluters. I accepted contributions from fellow Democrats that worked with me helping to elect President Bill Clinton. And I accepted money from my mom. I very proud of my career of public service, and I will fight as hard as I can to bring a positive tone to this campaign. My mom is proud of me too."

Things are definitely heating up, eh?

Sam the Tram has sharp claws

He learned well from Vera.

In a perverse sort of way, I cant wait 'til he's mayor. A citywide nervous breakdown will be fascinating to watch.

About those Portland water bill options

We wrote last week about an ongoing survey that the Portland Water Bureau is running about how locals would like their water bills -- quarterly or monthly. An alert reader points out that if you like the monthly option, it's going to cost you pretty handsomely:

What the water bureau fails to mention (Jan 10 thread) is that they charge different base rates for monthly vs. quarterly billing. It ends up being about $150 more per year to get a monthly bill vs. a quarterly bill. What's not clear from their "customer-friendly" survey is whether they will continue to rob the customer or will change their base rates. here are the base charges:


Here's an example of $10,000 extra in the water bureau's pockets:


The city may be rethinking its water billing system entirely -- a scary thought, given its history -- and in the end, this differential may be changed. In the meantime, however, take note that the quarterly bill saves the customer some substantial change.

This one earns "high marks"

An alert reader has "referred" us to an excellent "blog."

Monday, January 14, 2008

Fancy holiday hootch

One of the many great things that happened over the holidays is that the Mrs. and I decided to get all hotsy-totsy with the cocktails. With the acquisition of Three Olives chocolate vodka (thank you, Cousin Jim) and some beautiful French brandy-soaked cherries, and restocking some of the regular items in our liquor cabinet, we were able to partake of some truly tasty holiday spirits. My ancestors, who were known to be big on this sort of thing, would have been proud.

Here was the menu. I think I had one of nearly each of these over the past month:

Raspberry truffle. Three Olives chocolate vodka and Chambord raspberry liqueur. Forrest Gump never had it so good.

Butterfly kiss. Stoli Vanil, Frangelico, and a cinnamon stick.

Brown butterfly. Same, but with the chocolate vodka instead of the Vanil.

Moth. Same, but with half Vanil and half chocolate vodka.

Brandy Manhattan. Fundador, sweet and (hint of) dry vermouth, real cherry juice, brandy-soaked cherries.

Whisky Manhattan. Ditto, but Maker's Mark or Wild Turkey Rye subbed for the Fundador.

Suburban. Rye, dark rum, port, orange bitters.

Brandy Alexander. Brandy, creme de cacao, whipping cream.

Alexander's sister. Gin, white creme de menthe, whipping cream.

And always, a bottle of Gloria Ferrer (the blanc de blanc is even better than the brut) in the fridge for when guests walk through the door.

Still pending is our sampling of the forbidden fruit: absinthe. The legality of this beverage is quite the gray area at the moment, but through some excellent family connections, we were able to score an unlabeled bottle of the stuff, and it's just a matter of time before we pull the cork and give it a try. If I cut off my ear and scan it onto this blog, you'll know what happened.

Next year: grasshopppers!

Come along if you dare

... to a frightening parallel universe.

Isn't that special?

The Oregon Legislature's "special" session -- planned even before the regular session was finished -- is about to begin. Sure, it's illegal, but I suspect there's no real remedy for that kind of bending of the state constitution. Anyway, my representative in the House, Jackie "Bat" Dingfelder, sent out an e-newsletter the other day that gave us a sneak preview of what they'll be working on:

It is an ambitious undertaking, but with most committees meeting this month to prep for February, we will be ready to act on many items right at the start of the Supplemental Session. Some bills we will see are increasing regulations for mortgage lending and foreclosure practices in Oregon, improving toy safety laws, and adding child protective workers to regularly visit homes and ensure children are in a safe environment. We will also see bills aimed at moving the Oregon State Police toward twenty-four hour per day coverage on Oregon highways, improving water storage and land use policies, and further addressing climate change.
See anything there that couldn't have been done in the regular session? Me neither.

Anyway, Dingfelder is a hard-working politician who's running for the State Senate -- she even showed up ringing our doorbell a while back -- and so I'm sure she'll be keeping us abreast of the latest from Salem.

Somebody else's mail

I get all kinds of stuff in the mail these days. An alert, anonymous reader here in Portland forwarded to my office over the holiday break this postcard that he or she had received:

I couldn't figure out what it was about until I flipped it over. And I can't know for sure whether the reader loved it or hated it. Anyhow, the reverse side is here.

Christmas with Mr. Hijuelos

Last spring, when the days were long and warm, I came across an interesting item at a neighborhood estate sale -- a book that for years I had been meaning to read:

Oscar Hijuelos absolutely knocked me out with his Mambo Kings novel many years ago, and a signed first edition of this later story of his was quite a catch at 50 cents.

As Christmas approached, I decided to settle in with it, finally. It's not a very long work, but at my usual pace for pleasure reading, it took me a few weeks to read the whole thing.

As it turns out, it's not a merry Christmas book -- quite the opposite. It weighed down heavy on my middle-aged mind, with themes of aging, violence, loss, revenge, frustration. And throughout it, there appeared a quest for spirituality that created a heavy burden, and only sometimes a balm, for the soul.

Hijuelos's skill as a writer is a blessing, but also a curse. His senses are keen, and his voice is penetrating. He doesn't pull punches much. We love his New York characters, but this time around their brightest moments are as brief as a solstice day. Their hurt becomes your hurt.

No question, there were nights when this book beat me up. But it has an elusive beauty that I could not resist, and so I followed the tale to its conclusion. There was much wisdom in these pages, and the scenes in which the great human spirit triumphed were highly uplifting. But they were hard-earned moments. There will be no Hollywood movie.

Why would an author write a book such as this? What are we readers to take from it? One obvious message is that when times are good, one should drink in every divine drop, because it will not always be that way. Another lesson is how hard it is for a broken heart to reopen -- but how hard it can try. May I never know Mr. Ives's agony in real life, but may I show that I learned something from his journey.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Kroger wins debate

At least, so says Kroger.

Boys and girls together

Our recent trip to the Big Apple was a blast on so many levels -- work, tourism, family, even blogging.

We left Portland early the morning after New Year's Day. We caught the news of Erik Sten's resignation on the radio in the cab on the way to PDX. As we sucked down a coffee and surfed the 'net at the airport, we caught his misrepresentation of our one face-to-face meeting, dashed off a quick blog post responding to it, and logged off to board the long nonstop to Newark.

Being that our destination was a convention of law professors, it was not too big a surprise that a colleague of ours was on the same flight. Naturally, we split a cab fare from Newark to The City.

Man, was it cold when we hit the ground in Jersey. It was hovering around 20, and there was a stiff north wind blowing. We pulled out all the stops in the lightweight cold weather gear department. Our warmest Portland duds won the battle against the chill, but just barely, as we stood at the airport taxi stand.

On the way to Manhattan, as we sped across a northern stretch of the New Jersey Turnpike, our colleague was a captive audience for tales of our youth in the area. The Pulaski Skyway, the pig farms of Secaucus, the WMCA tower out in the middle of the swamps, steaming up the windows with our girlfriend as we gazed out at the Manhattan skyline -- our cabmate got quite an earful before we drove past the state line emblazoned on the walls of the Lincoln Tunnel. When we emerged in midtown and were dropped off at our hotel, the driver broke the news to us: $72.

New York still had its halls decked for the holidays, but it was that calm, post-holiday version of decorated. Everything was still twinkling, but the main merriment had clearly passed, and you could vaguely sense an army of New York workmen standing in the shadows, with giant cartons, getting ready to take it all down after another week or so.

The big news in midtown was the return of Letterman after the writers' strike. There was a fairly large crowd shivering in front of his theater hoping in vain for a standby ticket, and a local news crew was out on the sidewalk setting up for a live remote for the early evening news. Over at the stage door, there were a couple of barricades set up so that fans could see Robin Williams make his entrance and exit, but by the time we showed up, it looked as though he had already gone inside.

We were a little surprised to see Ruppert Jee's Hello Deli closed up and gated. It looked pretty forlorn. Two months without Letterman, and even a short time without the Broadway shows, doubtlessly hurt Ruppert's 2007 cash flow pretty badly. I hope he was on vacation, and not gone for good. Overall, in fact, the block around Letterman seemed pretty bleak, but the crowd on the sidewalk seemed excited enough.

The conference, which started bright and early the next day, was productive. We attended a half dozen or so talking-heads sessions in which distinguished members of our profession spoke about their areas of expertise, and our shared enterprise.

Even better was the social mixing that went on in between and after the official events each day. We saw friends from other parts of the country for the first time in years. One evening we made the rounds of four different receptions, thrown by, in chronological order, this guy, this guy, this guy, and this guy. They got progressively better as they went along, but by the time we sauntered out of the Cornell Club from that last one, we had had four drinks in two hours. And the New York bartenders aren't like Portland bartenders -- they know how to pour you a stiff one.

Realizing that the finger food we had consumed at the various functions wasn't going to cut it, we traversed Cousin Brucie Way and W.C. Handy Place (New York renames streets pretty freely, a block at a time) in a beeline for the Stage Deli, where we ordered a turkey sandwich and a side of green beans. With a glass of red wine thrown in to aid digestion, the tab came to $34.57. That's one heck of a turkey sandwich.

The next evening, all of our gustatory needs were satisfied by a giant reception in the Rainbow Room, high above Rockefeller Center (whose tree was still aglow). In all the years we spent frequenting the Big Apple, we had never earned a visit to that night spot. A phenomenal institution it is, with the legendary views, the magical history, and the breathtaking decor from a bygone era. You could almost see Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers gliding across the dance floor, which for this night was a giant buffet and bar setup. The food and drink were surprisingly good for a function that served more than a thousand, many of them obviously practiced chow- and booze-hounds. (For that matter, so was the food at the conference itself. The New York Hilton knows how to serve a fine lunch to the masses.)

The next day was checkout for us. The weather had warmed up considerably -- now it was in the high 30's, and the wind had died down -- and we strolled, suitcase and laptop in tow, to a bus stop where the free shuttle would pick us up and carry us over to the Hudson River, where the New Jersey ferries leave. We stood at that stop for about 15 minutes, watching all the tourists pass by. Double-decker buses, the whole bit. The New York phase of our trip was ending, but the homecoming to New Jersey was just beginning.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Betsy can't burp

And it's making her an internet phenom.

If she really wants to resolve this issue, I think she should try drinking a six-pack of Pepsi Cola over the course of an afternoon. She'll either belch, or die.

Tempted to yodel

We're back from a slushy day on Mount Hood. There's a ton of snow, still good for sports, but it was too warm to snow, and plenty wet.

Hey, you're in Oregon. You play in all conditions. The right clothes (and a couple of changes thereof in the car) help a lot.

As I cruised around on a picturesque Nordic trail, I couldn't help but think about the contrast with a week ago, when I was prowling around Times Square. America the beautiful, and all that. Life is good.

The hills are alive

Hood beckons.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Have a great weekend

That time of the month

When the Social Security checks come out, all sorts of interesting things can happen.

If I can make it there, I'll make it anywhere

Come on, Portland City Hall. Please get with this program.

Macpherson takes a hard left

My friend and ex-partner, Greg Macpherson, who's running for Oregon attorney general, sent around an e-mail newsletter yesterday that's uncharacteristically outspoken for the Lake Oswegan pension lawyer and legislator. In it, he declared:

Some conservatives like to talk about "states' rights." But over the last few years, we've seen that they really only believe in the concept when it furthers their right- wing ideological agenda. When states try to enact progressive protections for their citizens, "states' rights" get treated like any other inconvenient truth.

In the last decade, Oregonians have seen that happen at least three times. First, it was our Death with Dignity law, which Washington-based religious zealots felt they had the right to try to overturn, even though it was passed by a majority of Oregon voters - twice.

States' rights? Only when the right-wingers agree.

Then, late last year, the Bush Administration refused to recognize the validity of clean air laws passed by 13 states - including Oregon - to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Supreme Court will almost certainly overturn the decision.

States' rights? Only when the right-wingers agree.

Now, there's yet another troubling instance. Last year, I helped pass a domestic partnership law, designed to provide same-sex couples, who are ineligible to marry, with the same rights and responsibilities that married couples have.

To me, the issue is simple: the Oregon Constitution guarantees equal privileges and immunities to all citizens.

Unfortunately, after the legislative session, opponents gathered signatures to try to place a measure on the ballot repealing the domestic partnership law. Although I disagree with them, they are within their rights to do so. But in October, Oregon's Secretary of State determined that the referendum petitions contained too few valid signatures. The law was to take effect January 1, 2008.

But on December 20, the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), an out-of-state fundamentalist religious organization, went into federal court, challenging the Secretary of State's determination that the referendum attempt had fallen short.

Oregon election law is clear: petition signatures are tested for validity by random sampling. Instead of validating every signature, which would be far too expansive and time consuming, the Secretary of State evaluates a random sample of the signatures submitted, and then determines whether enough valid names have been provided. Over the years, dozens of initiatives - progressive and conservative - have been placed on the ballot (or failed to make the ballot) using this technique. But for the ADF, Oregon's election laws and practices were interfering with their anti-gay agenda. So they sued in federal court, trying to invalidate the random sampling process. Once again, states' rights go out the window whenever it suits their needs.

On December 28, the federal judge granted a temporary restraining order blocking Oregon's domestic partnership law until a February 1 hearing. The judge will then consider the ADF's request to keep the law from taking effect until a vote on the referendum in the November general election.

The judge's ruling is disturbing because it concluded that ADF and its local allies would suffer "irreparable harm" if the domestic partnership law took effect.

"Irreparable harm?" From giving people their Constitutionally-mandated rights? That's the kind of logic that could only come from a right-wing ideologue.

Fortunately, Oregon's Attorney General is vigorously defending Oregon against the ADF challenge. The outcome of this case will have a crucial impact on our initiative and referendum system - and the civil liberties of our citizens. Let's hope reason - and states' rights - prevail.

Calling a federal judge "a right-wing ideologue" isn't something you'd expect a buttoned-down fellow like Greg to say, but all's fair in a tough campaign, which he's definitely being dealt by my current colleague, John Kroger. Perhaps Mac's trying to paint himself as a card-carrying ACLU member so as to distinguish himself from Kroger, who as a former prosecutor is talking much tougher on crime. Of course, there's no mention of Kroger in the e-mail -- indeed, it doesn't allude to the attorney general race at all -- but it's hard to ignore that particular 800-pound gorilla.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Good one

This is funny.

There's something happening here -- what it is ain't exactly clear

Here's a fascinating development. Remember the Daily Grind, the late, great natural grocery at 40th and Hawthorne in Portland? Well, look what happens when you Google them now. Click that very first result -- "Daily Grind Natural Foods."


Tornado in the 'Couv!


Revisiting a disaster area

You'll never guess what's back in play at Portland City Hall.

Missing words

Something must be wrong with my browser's "Find" function. I can't seem to locate "streetcars" or "aerial tram" in this story.

Small talk, 2008 style

How's your bank doing?

Ascot what your country can do for you

This story is a major bad pun generator.

Two bad ideas (one dead)

The Portland City Council decided yesterday that it's not going to delay until September the special election for the seat being vacated by Commissioner Erik Sten. The election will take place as part of the May 20 primary, as was originally announced the other day.

That's a relief. But Sam the Tram and the boys seem determined to spend taxpayer money to finance candidates' junk mail and dinner hour phone calls in that special election, despite the facts that current city rules don't allow it and the race has already begun. They're hoping that the munchkins on the "voter owed elections" committee can still come up with some wiki-wiki way to blow a few hundred thou of city money to finance the politicians' campaigns in that contest. All over a seat that will be occupied for only around two years before it has to be filled all over again.

We already spent a bunch of tax dollars on that seat back when Sten was coasting to re-election two years ago. Not only did the taxpayers foot the bill for Sten, but they also financed the living expenses of one of his opponents, who obtained the "clean money" based on fraudulent documents and then spent a bunch of it illegally.

Haven't we burned enough six figures for now? Is there really a pressing need to microwave up a quick "system" to blow more? The bad smell alone is reason enough to make that idea a nonstarter. As Fireman Randy noted:

...Leonard said it was "beyond repugnant" to consider changing rules during an election period, a time he called "sacrosanct." The committee should draft special election financing rules only after the election has passed, he said. Otherwise, Leonard said, "it looks to the general public that we are somehow putting our finger in the elections process."
No kidding.

For heaven's sake, let's give the city treasury a rest on the Opie seat until 2010. Use the 300 or 400 grand toward fixing a few potholes.

Sky's the limit

The wonderful, young rascals known as the Portland Trail Blazers just keep doing it. If the playoffs started today, I believe they'd be the third or fourth seed in the Western Conference.

With a knick-knack paddy-whack

Although the outcome of the season-long pro football underdog pool is fairly well determined, and several pool participants have thus drifted away, this shapes up as one of the more interesting weekends of the season. It features eight well known teams, all of whom have had great seasons. The underdogs are all on the road, all playing opponents who had last weekend off. The spreads are large, and therefore picking a 'dog who wins its game outright will earn big points.

If any of the road teams does win, it will be surprising, but not shocking. You'll just say, "Yep, we all knew that's a good team," as they head into the conference championship, no doubt again as an underdog, next week.

I'm paying attention again because I had the only underdog winner last weekend, the Giants. That moved me up to fourth place, which feels good.

Here's the line for this week:

13 JACKSONVILLE at New England
8.5 SAN DIEGO at Indianapolis
8 SEATTLE at Green Bay
7.5 NEW YORK GIANTS at Dallas

I can't believe that Jacksonville's got it in them, but any of the other three underdogs (in caps) could pull an upset. We've all been waiting for San Diego to implode, but it hasn't happened. Ditto Seattle, although it will be cold and probably snowing on them in Green Bay. The Giants aren't a glamorous outfit, but they've been getting it done.

Except for nixing off Jacksonville, it's a tough call.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Crazy Political Story of the Day

You'll never guess who is Rick Metsger's new campaign manager in his run for Oregon secretary of state.

Your tax person's busy this time of year

So's your divorce lawyer. (Via TaxProf Blog.)

If he won't take his earpiece out first...

... you know something's wrong.

Just about perfect

Today is country singer Crystal Gayle's birthday, and so I broke out this old vinyl LP from 1979:

Whoever produced this record found the absolutely perfect material for her. Call me an old sap, but if I had to name the 100 best LP's I've ever heard, so help me, this thing would make the list.

Our next President

Honey, who's watching the kids?

I hate it when this kind of thing happens.

Sten seat election date is still in play

Apparently the special election for Portland City Council will be held whenever Sam the Tram says.


Here's a mom who doesn't put up with much.

Finally, OHSU biotech jobs

Unfortunately, they're in Florida!

Direct appeal

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Why I worry about Obama

I still don't think he can win.

What's sauce for the goose...

Here's a Cheney-esque tale out of Houston.

Still ramblin'

Here's another clue, this one posted by robot (and so previous guesses may have already got it): Johnny came and went.

Where we've been

Here's another clue, this one posted by robot (and so previous guesses may have already got it): Leroy Brown is not from here.

I feel like goin' back

Today's a travel day, back to Portland. We've been on the road for six days -- heard the news about Opie in the cab on the way to PDX.

As usual, we'll give readers a chance to guess where we've been. Depending on wireless internet access at the airports, we'll drop some hints along the way. Here's the first one: Bob was back at work.

Money talks

Here's an interesting tool.

Monday, January 7, 2008

City Council special election dates

It appears that the May 20 primary will include the special election for the seat being vacated by Portland City Commissioner Erik Sten. If there's a runoff, the general rule in the city charter is that it be held no more than 45 days after the primary, but for a couple of reasons, the city's going to delay it 11 more days to July 15. Candidates can declare themselves between this Thursday and Tuesday, March 11. The official details are here.

Mitt-igated excitement

All that "Swift Boat II" hype I was getting was over a book about Mitt Romney.

The lucky one

Kenny Loggins was born in Everett, Washington 60 years ago today.


Here are some new ones that cropped up around the office in '07.

They're still playing?

Tonight's the night they compete for the national championship. But man, college football season seems like a long, long time ago...

MySpace mystery

You've read the news stories. You've heard the controversy. Obviously, you're curious about the pictures. But no one's given us the link! Come on, now, readers -- Who's got it?

Calling NASA

Here's a column from outer space.

Fat cats' favorite

It has been duly noted that the trial lawyers of America have thrown big money behind John Edwards.

Guess whom the big money corporate counsel are supporting.

Path of lease resistance

Whole Foods gets into it with a Wild Oats landlord.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Reader poll: Is Roger Clemens telling the truth?

Did you catch Roger Clemens's denial-filled interview on 60 Minutes tonight? What do you think?

Is Roger Clemens telling the truth about steroid use?
pollcode.com free polls

Sho's going for "clean money"

Thereby sending out Mixed Signal No. 1 in his campaign to become mayor of Portland.

Swift Boat II?

I keep getting breathless e-mails telling me that a major Presidential candidate is about to have some dirty laundry aired in a book that's coming out tomorrow. Meanwhile, these nabobs keep a-nattering. I wouldn't be surprised if the Obama bashing is about to begin -- particularly if he beats Hillary his week.

Blazer scoop

Did you know that the Trail Blazers had an emotional meltdown at a practice one afternoon in San Antonio this year? That several of the players were ready to come to blows with each other? Trash talk, a broken chair?

Me neither, until I read this column from New Jersey this morning.

UPDATE, 9:42 a.m.: Turns out, it was well covered in the O last Sunday. Lost in the mists of the holidays for me.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Tag-teaming Hillary

It's a vast left-wing conspiracy.

The juggernaut continues

Now the Blazers are winning against a good team even without the services of Brandon Roy. They are certainly playing with confidence these days. Cool.

It's been delicious

One thing has led to another in the food department. Man, it's been good. But what shows up in the mirror is not. Believe it or not, social duties call for a few more days of this. After that, it's down to the track.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Why they won

Obama and Huckabee had one important thing in common.

What we're missing

The Blazers' excellent performance of late is made even more meaningful by stories like this one.

Have a great weekend

Dead Coloradans, prepare to vote

Vote by mail is coming.

The day after Des Moines

It's a pretty amazing moment. An African-American guy with a Muslim name just won the Iowa caucuses. Think about it.

I worry about his chances in November if he makes it that far. But hey, if the Republicans are going to run Huckabee, my worry level goes waaaaaay down.

In any event, it's gratifying to see a large cloud placed over the Clintons' dreams of resumed control over the White House, which they exploited for their personal financial gain. If Hillary isn't the next President, she'll be out of politics in two years. She could care less about... what's that state she's supposed to be representing in the Senate?

The saddest note is that barring a miracle, it ain't gonna be Johnny Edwards. The guy speaks the truth to power -- about economic inequality, about the military-industrial complex, about Iraq. But if he couldn't make that fly in Iowa, where he's basically been living for a long time, it's hard to see him doing so on a shoestring budget in the other key states. Nope, it's either B.O. or Hillary -- a big win for corporate America, and it's still only New Year's week.

Do you see what they see?

Do these look like guns to you?

Another Fish course

Lawyer and part-time TV talk show host Nick Fish is running for the Portland City Council again, according to this morning's Trib. Nick dropped the ball toward the end of his last campaign for the council, and that's how we got Sam the Tram running things at City Hall. Now the Fish is gunning for the seat being vacated by Erik Sten, who acted neutral in the Fish-Adams race but then slinked around helping Adams pull the upset.

Does this mean that the Nickster will be quitting his Sunday morning public affairs show on the CW? I can't imagine that the station will let him host while he's running for political office.

Meanwhile, as usual, the city's brilliant "voter-owed elections" system -- part of the legacy of the Sten genius -- is in complete disarray. It looks like no one running in the Sten fill-in election will qualify for taxpayer campaign funds, but hey, the boys at City Hall just make stuff up as they go along in this area, and so maybe we can burn several hundred thousand more in taxpayer "clean money."

If they're going to change the rules on the fly yet again, maybe they should take a suggestion made by a commenter on this blog in the last couple of days. He suggested that since Sten took "clean money" and then quit halfway through his term, he should have to pay it back. Hear, hear. At least half of it. How many rounds of taxpayer subsidies should there be over a single four-year term for a single seat?

Thursday, January 3, 2008

All muscle and heart

An important win for the Blazers tonight -- and Jarrett Jack was clutch. The guy looked liked Terry Porter when it counted most.

Countdown to Iowa

We're down to less than 90 minutes before we reach the beginning of the end of the reign of George W. Bush. Iowa's finest moment. Let's relish it.

McCain coming back from the dead

Word's out that Fred Thompson will likely be out of the Presidential race by the end of the week, and speculation is that he'll throw his support to John McCain.

Looks like it could well be Hillary vs. McCain in November.

Alas, he'd win.

Sounds of silence

The entertainment industry's abuzz with the news that the big talk shows are back in action. Letterman's made his own deal with the striking writers, but Leno and Conan are doing shows without the contributions of the unionized joke-makers.

I wonder how Bill McDonald is doing. Former host of the blog Portland Freelancer, Bill writes jokes for Leno (and others) for a living -- at least, he did until the strike. I assume he's either a union member or otherwise not virtually crossing the picket lines. It's a sad and bitter deal. He's a funny man.

And now, your moment of Zen

Little punk houses for you and me

This Portland house illustrates a fun story in today's Times about a book about a certain type of abode.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

The kennel's emptying out

Well, it's getting on down toward the end of the line in the pro football underdog pool. And one of the four games being played this weekend (Jacksonville at the Pittsburgh Bog) is too close to call. Here's the line:

9 TENNESSEE at San Diego
4 WASHINGTON at Seattle
2.5 NEW YORK GIANTS at Tampa Bay

Any of those three road dogs (in caps) look good to you? The 'Skins appeal to me. But could the Chargers revert to the early part of the season and implode?

Opie packs it in

Today's announcement that Erik Sten is quitting the Portland City Council is not much of a surprise. His heart hasn't really seemed to be in the job since he was re-elected two years ago. In recent years, his dad died, he had a kid, he came into a ton of money, he bought a West Hills mansion, and next thing you know, the goofball pipe dreams slowed to a trickle.

His adoring fans at WW, who broke the story this morning, can't tell us where Sten is heading next. Certainly there is no real job on the horizon. My guess is that he'll go to work for Hillary if she gets the Democratic nomination for President, and if that bombs out, he'll take some kind of community housing gig like the one his (and my) friend Rey Ramsey has.

Another vacancy on the City Council is a tantalizing thought. Surely the candidates for the seat being vacated by Sam the Tram now see their odds of winning a council seat doubling. And people who are sitting out the scramble for the Adams seat -- Dave Lister, for example -- may suddenly see an opening.

I wouldn't count on it.

The Stennies have a whole raft of candidates to pick from, each and every one as goofy as Opie, and maybe even ready to do his bidding as The Next Neil. Sten's longtime deputy Marshall Runkel is around, as is Jefferson what's-his-name from the Bus Kids. And don't forget the two ex-Mean Girls with time on their hands and developers to please.

Yes, it's going to be different without those trips down to the fishin' hole with Opie. And certainly it's a chance to restore sanity to the Council Chambers. But this is Portland, and I have no doubt that the established beat will go on.

A final note. This is not true:

Have you ever spoken to Bogdanski?

Only once. I recognized him and introduced myself to him at Candidates Gone Wild [a campaign event, in 2006]. He said, "I know who you are," and kept walking.

I'm sure he's just mis-remembering, but he and I actually had a bit of a conversation. I told him that I had recently had coffee with a mutual friend, Ramsey. I said that it would be a great idea to get him back to Portland to participate in public life here. Sten said he agreed, and with two people like him and me working toward the same goal, we might be able to get it done.

Neither one of us was rude or abrupt, although the moment was a little awkward. There was a loud crowd all around us, and after our brief exchange, we both faded into it. And of course he "recognized" me. We had just been introduced on stage together, and I had asked him questions on a panel in front of the audience.

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Easy on the Clinique, or else

A reader sends along a grainy cell phone video, a screenshot of which you see above, with this complaint:

I was at Lloyd Center today (12/31) and took a cell phone video of security guards hassling two young women who had on face paint. The security guards told them to take the face paint off or leave the mall. Pretty fascist if you ask me. The guards told them they were causing a disturbance (never mind the kids running across the bridge to Macy's at breakneck speed). The clip shows the two young women asking the guards where (on a card they were given with Lloyd Center policy) it is written where shoppers can't wear face paint.


A new year dawns. We sent the old one packing with a beautiful dinner at the home of some wonderful friends. Brandy Alexanders in honor of our ancestors, whose spirits were all around us. A chocolate soufflé in honor of our children, in whom our ancestors live on. Stories and observations about past, present, and future.

The chilly east side streets were ablaze with Christmas lights, some of which will be coming down now. We came back home around 10, and by the stroke of midnight, we were all fast asleep together in the kids' beds.

There was a time when I would ring out the old with a vengeance. Good riddance to all the bad things that had happened in the preceding 12 months. Smash those plates. On with the fresh start. But now I let go of the dying year a little more gently. The gift of time on this planet is great. I hold onto the old for just a second or two longer as it leaves us.

Now it's gone. The old calendars are suddenly scratch paper. All the tallies of 2007 are complete.

The days are getting ever so slightly longer. Portland's cold month is here. There's ice around once in a while now. The news is mostly frightening. Never has our world seemed so uncertain. It's a leap year again, an election year. What will it bring us?

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