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

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January 2009 Archives

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Creepy's new flack

Sam the Suspect Mayor has a new communications director -- a 31-year-old guy named Roy Kaufmann. I think that's Roy, above. He's a p.r. guy who appears to have worked at his last job less than a year. Before that, he worked in the same p.r. firm as Charlie Burr (who was rebounding from his brief cup of coffee with the governor), apparently for a year or two. Another "sustainability" type, Sam's new mouthpiece (sorry) had a Facebook page until recently, but now it's gone.

Spokesman for Sam Adams... Man, you talk about a gig with uncertain prospects. At least he knows how to keep his résumé fresh.

Google reveals that Kaufmann is married to a woman who is also a p.r. type, and they have a baby on the way. Rock on, kids.

Sam Adams: the "education mayor"?

Even he admits that that was a bad joke.

Stand by your man

I see that Portland City Commissioner Amanda Fritz is running a portrait of the mayor on her blog today.

Makes sense

A reader writes: "The woman who delivered eight babies at one whack has a bachelor's degree in child development."

City Hall website: On with the scrubbing

Portland's reputation for open government -- never too well deserved -- is going to take a serious hit now that its creepy mayor's pattern of lies and deceit (even to his own staff) is national news. This week we find city staffers being paid to take down some of the mayor's lies from the internet. Remember this beauty from the fall of 2007? Get a good look at it while the Google cache still has it -- over the past few days it's disappeared from the city's website.

Friday, January 30, 2009

No longer BFF

Fireman Randy joins Mark Wiener in throwing Sam the Sleaze under the bus. Meanwhile, KATU reports that a confidante of Beau Breedlove and Breedlove's own father both say they think Sam broke the law with teeny Beau back in the spring of 2005.

Have a great weekend

Grimwad to the 'Couv?

The guy in charge of selling out Portland parks to corporate interests is in the running to be the head of the parks up in Clark County. Good luck to him! Apparently, he's been looking for a new gig for some time now.

And let's hope Nick the Fish, now in charge of Portland parks, straightens things out over there. No more backroom deals!

Too many planners

They're cutting back hours for bureaucrat planners out in Washington County. Think there's any chance of something like that happening in Portland?

Reader poll: Who will win on Sunday?

Pro football was good to us this season. We finished third in the underdog pool in which we play, picking up a cool $60 on a $20 entry fee. Couldn'ta done it without the help of readers of this blog.

Now that the pool is over, however, there's no gambling reason for us to ask about the ultimate contest featuring the Big Daddies of the NFL. And so this reader poll is strictly, as we used to say in the schoolyard, "for funsies":

Who will win the Super Bowl?
Arizona Cardinals
Pittsburgh Steelers
pollcode.com free polls

FWIW, according to the bookies, the Steelers are favored by 6½, and the moneyline is +218, -238. But as ever, we're asking you to pick the outright winner, without benefit of the point spread.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Chief of the chiefs

Oregon's acting fire marshal is taking the job permanently. Apparently a statewide search didn't turn up a better candidate. Congratulations to him.

What recession? OHSU is hiring

They just signed up one new hotshot scientist, at least -- in Florida:

VGTI Florida, the Florida-funded expansion of Oregon Health & Science University's highly successful Vaccine and Gene Therapy Institute, has announced Rafick-Pierre Sékaly, Ph.D., of the University of Montreal, will be the scientific director of the new institute. He will also co-direct the research facility along with OHSU's Jay Nelson, Ph.D. Nelson also serves as director of the VGTI at OHSU in Portland, Ore.

Dr. Sékaly currently serves as scientific director of basic research and strategic planning and director of the Laboratory of Microbiology and Immunology for the University of Montreal Hospital Centre's Research Centre. He is also scientific director for the National Laboratory of Immune Monitoring, a collaboration between the University of Montreal and MDS Pharma....

"I am truly excited about the opportunity to develop an outstanding institute for immunotherapy in Port St Lucie along side the Torrey Pines Institute for Molecular Medicine (TPIMS). We look forward to interacting with all the universities and institutes in the state of Florida to create a unique scientific environment to develop biotech," said Dr. Sekaly. In the next few months, Dr. Sékaly's group of more than 30 scientists will relocate to the Florida institute. Within 10 years, the facility is expected to employ at least 200 staff.

As for Portland? Hey, at least we got an aerial tram.

Super week for Bruce fans

In addition to the Super Bowl show on Sunday, we have a new album today.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Beached whale

The mighty Starbucks is falling fast. It announced 6700 layoffs today. On top of that, Starbucks says it can't afford to have fresh decaf coffee readily available after noon. If you ask for it, you'll have to wait four minutes while they make it.

Transition time

It's reported that Oregon's U.S. attorney, Karen Immergut, has put her name in to become a Multnomah County judge. It's just a matter of time before Obama, via Wyden and Merkley, gives us a new appointee for her federal post.

I'm still having a hard time getting used to the fact that Gordon Smith doesn't have anything to say about these things any more. Sweet.

That said, I never understood why a Republican President's U.S. attorney didn't raise more heck in all-blue Oregon. Lord knows there are enough odd-looking "public-private partnerships" in these parts that deserve serious scrutiny. Aside from the much publicized attempt to get a mole into City Hall, the feds haven't challenged the Arlington Club money-power axis one whit.

So who should be the next U.S. attorney?

I've got an idea: How about Steve Novick?

Wiener on Adams: "a f***ing moron"

In Time magazine, no less.

He cuffs people, all right

We noted a short while back that Oregon's attorney general is a bit of a publicity hound. But maybe this is going too far:

A reader writes that while searching for a place to buy a home blood pressure monitor, he found himself on this page. He entered his zip code, 97024, selected "Kroger," and clicked on "Search." Try it yourself and see what comes up.

The mayor's minions

A friend of ours at Portland City Hall sends along what he or she says is the "Mayor Adams All" e-mail address list:

Jane Ames, Education Strategies Coordinator
Dan Anderson, Public Advocate - Bureau of Transportation
Carolyn Becic, Education Strategies Director
Pollyann Birge, Arts and Culture Coordinator
Emerald Bogue, Public Advocate - Planning and Sustainability
Catherinie Ciarlo, Transportation Director
Carol Duang, Mayor's Policy Fellow
Cevero Gonzalez, Executive Assistant to the Mayor
Warren Jimenez, Deputy Chief of Staff
Kali Ladd, Education Strategies Policy Advisor
Alacia Lauer, Staff Associate
Leiher, Greg
Lisa Libby, Planning and Sustainability Director
Lim, Maria Lynn
Livesay, Kim
Tom Miller, Chief of Staff
Clay Neal, Economic Development Policy Coordinator
Skip Newberry, Economic Development Policy Advisor
Wade Nkrumah, Communications Director
Shoshona Oppenheim, Transportation Policy Manager
Paul Peterson, New Media Manager
Megan Ponder, Planning and Sustainability Policy Coordinator
Terry Richardson, Labor Liason
Amy Ruiz, Planning and Sustainability Policy Advisor
Russ Ryan, Communications Intern
Kimberly Schneider, Economic Development Director
Lindsay Scneider
Amy Stevens, Mayor's Public Advocate
Sierra Springfield, Executive Assistant
Eli Tinkelman
Grace Uwagbae, Operations Manager
Nate Waas Shull, Education Strategies Youth Coordinator
Jennifer Yocum, Arts and Culture Director
Diane Walton

No wonder people are questioning the hiring of Amy Ruiz as a "planning and sustainability" person -- an area in which she has no expertise. Sam the Tram already has three other people assigned to that topic.

He's also got three "public advocates" listed there. They must be having a heck of a first month on the job. And his campaign manager, Jennifer Yocum, got the plum "arts and culture director" gig. Think "sister city" junkets, people!

Make up your own "youth coordinator" and "communications intern" jokes.

UPDATE, 3:16 p.m.: Oops! There goes another one. Scratch Carolyn Becic from that list.

Sam Adams, slander artist?

The mayor of Portland has proven time and again that he cannot be trusted to tell the truth about his own conduct. But it does not stop there. Today, the WW reports that recently he also falsely suggested that John Vezina, one of the people who had correctly accused him of having sex with his teenage "friend with benefits," had done so because the mayor had accused Vezina of trying to rape the young man. WW has posted the audio of these remarks here and here.

This hearkens back to a statement that Adams made in his pathetic interview with the the O's editorial board last week. The subject of Bob Ball came up -- this is the guy who correctly blew the whistle on Adams's teeny bopping back in September 2007, when Adams was running for mayor. At the time, Adams lashed out at Ball for conducting a smear campaign that reinforced unfair stereotypes of gay men.

In the O interview (starting at around 5:00), the editors press Adams for an apology to Ball, whose political career was destroyed in the incident. Adams refuses. He says, "Ball was trying to take me out," then gets interrupted by an O staffer, and then, at 6:35, says, "I resented the fact that he tried to portray it as only concerned about Beau, when anyone who you talk to on the ground floor will tell you otherwise. And he himself had vulnerability on this issue in his own life and he knew that this was a fellow gay man."

Mayor Adams meets with Oregonian editorial board part 1

Again, responding to proven truths about himself with accusations against others. What a guy.

Portland nuked

Check out image 16 of this slideshow.

What's crazy is there's no story to go with it. Just a disturbing, and crude, series of images. Go figure.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Come on and zoom

You get your choice with this photo -- as wide or as tight as you'd like to go:

Amazing stuff.

What's there to hide?

Sarah Palin supposedly has a grandson named Tripp, and he supposedly turned one month old today.

But the public still hasn't seen him. Not even a single, simple cell phone photo. Nothing.

Doesn't that strike you as odd? Especially since Palin's daughter's pregnancy was part of the central narrative of her campaign to become vice president just three months ago?

If you wanted people to think you were lying, you could hardly do a better job of showing it than she does.

Employment picture brightens

These lawsuits and the ensuing bankruptcy will keep some folks' meters running for a while.

Reader poll: Predict the next Supreme Court retirement

Now that Obama is President, it's about time for some retirements on the U.S. Supreme Court. Who will be the first to announce that he or she is stepping down?

Who will be the first Supreme Court justice to announce his or her retirement?
More than one will announce at the same time
pollcode.com free polls

Jumping ship

WW reports that Sleazy Sam's main p.r. guy just quit.

Smart move. One wonders if hizzoner's "new media" p.r. expert will be next.

Another snow closure

The impact of SnowGasm 2009™ continues to be felt throughout Portland. At a mid-morning press conference, city commissioner Randy Leonard announced that the city's "Portland loo" public toilets will be closed for the rest of the day because they do not function properly in snowy conditions. Folks needing to relieve themselves downtown are directed instead to use the restrooms in City Hall.

Beau Breedlove, convicted felon

After his teen fling with the Portland city commissioner (now mayor), that wonderful lad headed over to Hawaii, where he reportedly was placed on probation for felony theft. All that "mentoring" didn't really help him, apparently.

He'll make a heck of a witness in the criminal probe against Sam, eh?

A cruel, cruel lash from Mother Nature

OMG, people. Brace yourself -- it is snowing in Portland.

White flakes of frozen precipitation have begun pounding the metropolitan area as the city descends back into the grip of another Arctic Blast® SnowGasm™. The snow is not melting as it hits the ground. This is what worried scientists are referring to as "sticking."

To make matters worse, the snow began too late for every school district in the area to call off classes for the day. Now helpless children will actually be in their classrooms while the dreaded ice crystals are dropping from the sky. It is a disaster in the making!

Remain calm. Remain in your homes. Do not go outside for any reason. Keep your computer tuned to bojack.org Storm Center 9000.2 for the latest details.

In yo face

It didn't hit the fan, but it almost hit juror no. 9.

While you were in the rest room

Yesterday I had the experience of driving on Sandy Boulevard in Northeast Portland. It is a rutted, potholed mess, pretty much the entire length of it. Where is the guy who's supposed to be keeping our streets in shape? Huddled with his lawyer, learning how to plead the Fifth Amendment?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Open question

Sam the Tram Tongue refuses to apologize to Bob Ball for falsely sabotaging Ball's political aspirations. But what about Fireman Randy? He slung the mean stuff around pretty hard himself back in September '07, when Ball was the bad, bad, bad guy.

Has the Fireman said he is sorry? Is he going to?


A reliable source of information about the goings-on at Portland's med school.

Last day

William Kristol has packed it in as one of the token right-wingers at The New York Times.

You work at a smile and you go for a ride

Regular readers of this blog know that I have no sympathy for bureaucrats. But today I'd like to send out my best wishes to the people who work for the City of Portland. I can't imagine what morale must be like in city government right now. Chin up, folks. You've seen these politicians come and go. This mess will resolve itself... eventually.

At City Hall, time to get back to work

Portland, we've wasted enough time talking about the mayor taking a teenage boy into the City Hall men's room to make out, and then hiring people to cover it up for him. It's time for him to get back to work on his ambitious agenda. Tolls on the Willamette River bridges. A Convention Center hotel. Streetcars to nowhere. A new stadium and a stadium rehab for bush league sports. Busy, busy, busy! Plus, he's learned his lesson. This kind of thing won't ever happen again. So let's get off the witch hunt, people, and roll up our sleeves.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

You can be sure of it

Scoutmaster Sam says he's going to continue working on his stimulus package.

Meanwhile, back at the morgue

I am ashamed that the only thing we Portlanders can focus on these days is that we have a mayor who's a lying sack of shinola, can't keep it in his pants, likes to get it on with teenage boys, and will do anything to keep his job because there's no other job he's suitable for.

Meanwhile, a real tragedy has occurred -- a telling example of the violence that's crept its way back into our local headlines. God rest the dead, God heal the wounded, and God help Portland. With the people we have "leading" us, this sort of thing isn't going to get better; let's hope it doesn't get too much worse.

Scoutmaster Sam isn't resigning

Wow, what a nonsurprise. If Adams had the wisdom and decency to step down, he would have done it several days ago.

And so Portland moves on into six months of complete insanity, and then a recall petition effort, and then a recall election. The whole thing should take about a year.

Poor Fish and Fritz. They wait all this time to get onto the City Council, and now nothing they say or do is going to matter for a long time.

I'm sure Sam's supporters, who were granted free access to the City Hall rotunda for their little press conference the other day, are pleased. Guys like John Russell and Bill Scott and their West Hills friends have spent a lot of money on politicians like Adams and Saltzman. They demand a return on investment, and now there's a chance they'll still get it.

Oh, and Charlie "What's a Little Sex if He's Almost 18" Hinkle is going to represent Beau Breedlove. You wonder who's paying that hourly rate.

This while John Kroger investigates something -- but nobody's saying exactly what -- and Portland taxpayers pay for it. You think he'll get much into the coverup, in which Mark Wiener, Kroger's own political advisor-in-chief, played a serious role?

I need a shower.

It never fails

As soon as I wash the car, it snows.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Fireman Randy's "intuition"

Commissioner Leonard just appeared on our TV telling KGW that it was his "intuition" that there are more damaging revelations to come in the Sam Adams dishonesty scandal. The interview was taped yesterday.

Do you wonder whether it might be more than a hunch? What else does the Fireman know that we don't?

Where to go

I think I'm going to go here and let the mayor of Portland know about an event I'd like him to attend -- his resignation announcement press conference.

It's snowing

Who's running the Portland Transportation Department tonight?

Another celebrity weighs in

Friday, January 23, 2009

Have a great weekend

Hard to believe he actually said this

"There are crimes and there are crimes," Hinkle said. "If this was a crime, if he committed a crime by having a sexual relationship with a young man who was a couple of months shy of his 18th birthday, that is not a crime that looms large in the history of mankind."
All I can say is, wow. What a sordid little town I live in.

Food for thought

A thoughtful reader offers this advice to Sam Adams.

Saltzman: We need Sam's "smarts"

I am not making this up.

Should Kate Brown get involved in the Sam Adams scandal?

Blogger Isaac Laquedem thinks she might have to.

Did Adams pay Wiener with city funds?

The Portland police union chief wrote the city's embattled mayor last night, urging him again to resign but apologizing for not telling him so privately before blurting it out at the infamous press conference the other day.

In the e-mail message is the suggestion -- and this is the second time we have heard it -- that the mayor, while a city commissioner, may have used public funds to pay his political consultant, Mark Wiener, to coach the mayor's teenage gay lover to deny the sex. As quoted today on wweek.com, the union head, Scott Westerman, wrote:

By likely utilizing either city funds, or campaign funds, you have acknowledged that you employed Mark Weiner to assist you in the cover up of your relationship and your continuous lies to the citizens and employees of Portland.
"Likely utilizing either city funds, or campaign funds"? To us, there's a big difference between the two.

Sarah Palin's writing a book

Seriously. Working title: "Pillows I Have Worn."

Whose job is this?

While we all await the next batch of lying garbage to emanate from the mouth of Scoutmaster Sam, here's a question to ponder: If the Portland police stopped the mayor driving a car and smelled alcohol on him, would they have such a conflict of interest that they'd have to call the state troopers in to administer the breathalyzer?

Thursday, January 22, 2009

If you're going to have an aerial tram...

... then you can't have a first-rate hospital. More great choices, Portland!

Reader poll: Say when

People in City Hall have a pool going, and so we might as well, too:

When will Sam Adams announce his resignation as mayor of Portland?
Tomorrow (Friday Jan. 23)
Over the weekend
Monday Jan. 26
Later in January
In February
Later than February
pollcode.com free polls

Great invention

Something to do while you're rocking out to Ted Nugent.

Wheel in the sky keeps on turnin'

Steve Perry of Journey is 60 years old today.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

If you're going to have streetcars...

... then you can't have police precincts. Great choices, Portland!

Novick for Mayor

When Sam Adams leaves the building (maybe tonight, maybe in September, who knows?), let's get some fresh, trustworthy blood in the mayor's office. I nominate Novick.

New Portland police and fire pension tab: $2.2 billion

The City of Portland has in hand a new estimate of its unfunded liability for police and fire disability and retirement pensions. As of July 1, 2008, its new actuaries place the unfunded liability at $2,216,664,215. That is an increase of 15.84 percent over the year before.

It's difficult to judge the significance of the new figures, because the new report changes so many of the assumptions on which they are calculated. Increasing the amount substantially was a change in the discount rate that the actuaries hired to do the calculations use to present-value the city's future obligations to pay the pension benefits. Previously, the actuaries used 6.04 percent, but since rates of return on investment have declined so drastically in recent months, they're now using 4.50 percent.

On the other side of the coin, the actuaries changed a number of the other assumptions they use, and those changes partially offset the increase caused by dropping the discount rate. In this latter category were decreases in the estimated disability rates, future salaries, and officer lifespans; changes in anticipated retirement ages; and a new adjustment anticipating early termination of employment. With so many balls moving around, it's hard to tell how things are going, other than that the overall dollar number keeps rising at an alarming rate.

It's noteworthy that in estimating inflation for purposes of predicting future salaries, the actuaries used 2.75 percent, but the discount rate for purposes of present-valuing future payouts was 4.50 percent. Those are both extremely soft numbers, slight changes to which would probably result in big shifts in the bottom-line liability.

On the City of Portland debt "clock" that we keep in the left sidebar of this blog, we've been using an annual growth rate in the pension liability of 6.5 percent, based on recent year-to-year changes when the assumptions were kept steady. We see no reason to change that until future years' experience (under consistent assumptions) enables us to track true growth or shrinkage in the liability. Plugging the new figure in as of last July 1, adding in the $98 million last estimated for retiree health care subsidies, and playing out the 6.5 percent annual growth, at this writing the tab is roughly $2,399,000,000 -- down somewhat from what the debt clock previously showed. (We had been anticipating the discount rate change, but had no way of knowing the other assumptions would also be changed, in the city's favor.)

In any event, the situation is still as scary as ever.

In his hands

Tony Furtado's new album is officially out, and he's posted a couple of songs from it here.

First "Resign, Adams" picketer shows up at City Hall

No doubt he'll be joined by others the longer the scandal drags on:

Foreman says, "These jobs are goin', boys..."

Yesterday we learned that Oregon's official unemployment rate has hit 9 percent. Today we get this bit of additional bad news.

In case you missed the Inauguration...

... you can always head down to San Diego and see it at LegoLand. (Don't knock it 'til you've visited it.)


Even my good friend and sports enthusiast Dwight Jaynes suggests that the City of Portland should kill the Merritt Paulson soccer stadium scam, and fast. Because "major league" soccer is becoming a major league financial disaster.

It's a small, small world

I see that Oregon attorney general John Kroger's going to be the one investigating whether Sam Adams had sex with an underage boy, as opposed to a barely legal boy. This is supposed to provide "independence" to the process. Unfortunately, one of the players in the scandal is Mark Wiener, a Portland political consultant who has done a great deal of campaign work for both Kroger and Scoutmaster Sam. Wiener and the mayor reportedly coached the boy about what to say when asked about the sex.

Another player is Randy Leonard, a staunch Adams supporter in the scandal (at least until yesterday) and a big-shot endorser of Kroger.

I don't see why the local police and the county d.a. can't simply do their jobs in this matter, but if a truly detached outsider is needed, Kroger's not the one. He's a capable prosecutor, but too many of his pals are involved in the case.

In other bad news...

Inauguration Day looked great on television -- I still can't believe we're saying "President Obama" -- but in addition to Portland's ugly, dark story, we also had the largest credit card security breach in history and a rout of a day on Wall Street. Where's the bottom for the Dow? We bailed at $9200 and said we wouldn't even think of getting back in at above $7000 for a year or two. Yesterday's close was $7949.

Keeping it clean

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


On a day when we all should have been feeling great pride in our country, we Portlanders were overwhelmed by shame and embarrassment in our city. If that hideous Sam Adams isn't forced out of office on account of his latest shenanigans, Portland is an utterly hopeless place.

Watch this garbage and ask yourself whether we should endure four more days of this, much less four more years. The mayoral election was stolen. It's time for Sam the Tram to either give it back or have it taken away. Heaven help this town.

Reader poll: Should Adams resign?

Should Sam Adams resign as mayor of Portland?
pollcode.com free polls

Where is Mike Schrunk?

Let's see. The mayor of Portland admits having sex with an intern who had just turned 18. He also admits attending the boy's 18th birthday party in Salem. He also admits having repeated contact with the boy when the boy was 17. A media outlet reports that the mayor and his political advisor later coached the boy about what to say about their "relationship."

Grounds for a criminal investigation? Given the track record of the county d.a.'s office, the answer is far from clear.

I remember when former Mayor and Governor Neil Goldschmidt admitted his years of statutory rape. The d.a. said he still thought Goldschmidt had something to offer us all as a public figure.

Which is why one might not expect anything from that office on this one.

Perhaps Police Commissioner Dan Saltzman might have a detective or two take a look at the facts. Unless he has a reason not to.

Going all the way

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to take this case out of Forest Grove. The phrase "closely watched" now gets officially attached to that lawsuit.


Our friend Doug Adair, whose photos have graced this blog more than a time or two, has now collected lots of his pictures in his own corner of the intertubes, here.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Sam the Tram lied about the intern!

So says Willamette Week. What a sleaze.

I told you this guy was going to give the city a collective nervous breakdown. He ought to be recalled before something really bad happens.

Fireman Randy ought to hang his head, too. Creepy.

On your cable TV right now

Darius Miles!

Portland Airport traffic is shrinking

Proof positive that there is absolutely no reason to expand that facility a single square inch from what it is now.

Palin's response to pregnancy questions: name-calling

Nothing I have ever written has prompted as nasty a response as my blog posts questioning whether Sarah Palin actually gave birth to her youngest child, Trig. The local tighty righties here in the Portland area go completely bonkers when I question Palin's ability to tell the truth about this. They never address the substantive questions, but instead go right at the throat of the messenger. I've been called all sorts of names by people like Robert Canfield, Rob Kremer, Ted Piccolo, and some obscure guy out on the west side who used to work at the zoo. (I looked up his name once, but I forgot it, and it's not worth looking up again.)

Last week, the locals were joined by Queen Sarah herself -- attacking the media for paying attention to the "bored, anonymous, pathetic bloggers" who would dare question the veracity of her wacky tale of her supposed delivery of the child last April.

Like just about everything that emanates from the mouth of Governor Palin, these adjectives were not quite accurate. Not everyone who has questioned the infamous Trig story has done so anonymously. Certainly I haven't. Neither has Andrew Sullivan of The Atlantic, who has raised the same questions that I have. And although this fellow signs only his first name, it's not too hard to figure out who he is from his online bio.

Palin's problem, of course, is that the paltry evidence she's produced to suggest that she didn't fake the whole pregnancy with this Down's-syndrome infant doesn't amount to a hill of beans. A couple of photos of her parading around with something under her shirt; a highly unusual letter, purportedly written by her doctor but never confirmed by that doctor as authentic, and released literally on the eve of the Presidential election; a few testimonials from some Anchorage TV news people that she owns -- that's pretty much all we have from Palin. No birth certificate, no actual medical records -- just Sarah and her friends' word, which no doubt the Lord would want us to accept at face value.

On the other side of the ledger there are (a) the sheer implausibility of the details she has offered of the birth, (b) several photos in which it appears that she was not pregnant, including this shocker taken 23 days before Trig was born, and (c) the mysterious absence of any of the trappings of a normal 21st Century birth, such as birthing room photos, hospital photos of the newborn with his siblings, a copy of the official government record of live birth, or even a birth certificate, which in Alaska is a different document.

Perhaps the best response to Palin's attack on the bloggers -- and the media who would dare write about them -- was published last week by Pat Dougherty, the editor of Palin's home newspaper, the Anchorage Daily News. Although purporting to agree that there's no reason to question the official story of the Trig birth, he basically told her off, as follows:

I want to be very clear on this: I have from the beginning and do now consider the conspiracy theories about Trig's birth to be nutty nonsense.

If that's true, then why has Lisa Demer [a Daily News reporter] been asking questions about Trig's birth?

Because we have been amazed by the widespread and enduring quality of these rumors. I finally decided, after watching this go on unabated for months, to let a reporter try to do a story about the "conspiracy theory that would not die" and, possibly, report the facts of Trig's birth thoroughly enough to kill the nonsense once and for all.

Lisa Demer started reporting. I don't believe she received any cooperation in her efforts from the parties who, in my judgment, stood to benefit most from the story, namely you and your family. Even so, we reported the matter as thoroughly as we could. Several weeks ago, when we considered the information Lisa had gathered, we decided we didn't have enough of a story to accomplish what we had hoped. Lisa moved on to other topics and we haven't decided whether the idea is worth any further effort.

Even the birth of your grandson may not dissuade the Trig conspiracy theorists from their beliefs. It strikes me that if there is never a clear, contemporaneous public record of what transpired with Trig's birth that may actually ensure that the conspiracy theory never dies. Time will tell.


Which brings us to the latest Palin baby story that isn't quite holding water. Supposedly her daughter, Bristol, gave birth to a baby boy on Dec. 27, which is supposed to prove somehow that Sarah is the biological mother of Trig. That was more than three weeks ago. In those three weeks, no one in the media or on the internet has reported seeing hide nor hair of the alleged new baby, of Bristol, or of her alleged boyfriend and the alleged father of said child. There has not been seen even a single blurry cell phone picture of the child. The news was announced by a shirt-tail relative in Kennewick, Washington, and no one has ever been told precisely where the baby was born, or under what circumstances, or where he has been kept all this time.

Given that Bristol's pregnancy is a key feature to the official Trig story, do you think it odd that Palin has not offered a shred of evidence to support the birth of her supposed grandson other than her own word and blustery insults to those who would dare ask questions about the matter?

Either Sarah Palin is continuing to lie through her teeth, or else she is flipping the bird, big time, to the media and the public. Is that the kind of person who should hold any kind of national office? Keep her behavior on this issue in mind when the evangelical extremists wheel her out, time after time, in the years ahead, for your approval. She's exhibiting some personal attributes here that make her supremely unfit for a leadership position.

UPDATE, 1/20, 1:09 a.m.: In my list of name-callers, I neglected to mention the dude who publishes Orbusmax, the Seattle Drudge-wannabe site. He used to like me, but that was before Sarah Palin.

What if it wasn't geese?

They don't call it U.S. Scareways for nothing.

Inaugural speech preview

My friend Steve Stark forecasts another dud.

Federal debt: $194,400 a head

These folks wreck the holiday weekend by talking reality.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Outrageous prices, upstairs and down

Got a postcard yesterday trying to sell me a unit in the condo monstrosity now defiling the corner of 43rd and Sandy here in Portland. Good luck with that, folks.

They're still showing a Whole Foods store in the come-on. Do you think that store will actually go in there? Or will it be like the Zupan's that was supposed to go into the apartment bunker at NE 16th and Broadway? When these ghastly structures are on the drawing boards, the neighbors trade off light and air for hotsy-totsy groceries, but the brie doesn't always show up.

A match made in Gehenna

Starbucks and Retriever Towing.

Nuts to this

We read about this first at UtterlyBoring.com -- our first source for news about things that will make you sick -- but now it's all over the 'net: Don't eat anything that's made with peanut butter. There's a salmonella recall on, and the feds aren't sure how extensive the problem is.

Federal health officials have urged people to avoid eating cookies, cakes, ice cream and other foods that contain peanut butter until more is known about a deadly outbreak of salmonella contamination.

Officials are focusing on peanut paste, as well as peanut butter, produced at [a] Georgia facility owned by Peanut Corp. of America.

So far we've seen warnings about products with the labels Austin, Keebler, and Little Debbie, and even one Famous Amos cookie variety is in there.

To this point, we haven't seen anything about the stuff that comes in the jars, but already we're giving that large-size tub of Skippy the evil eye. At the same time, all this talk of peanut butter is making us not only hungry, but in the mood for the old "Peanut Butter" song, by, was it the Olympics?

UPDATE, 9:10 a.m.: Nope, it was the Marathons, also known as the Vibrations:

The high country

We're heading up to Mount Hood today -- anticipating fun, but as always, with deep respect for Mother Nature. Just yesterday they pulled an injured climber off the mountain. And it was not just any climber. It was Michael Leming, a Nike executive who himself is a rescuer up there.

Googling Leming, you see he was part of the 2002 rescue effort in which the helicopter crashed. Three people had fallen to their deaths before the chopper showed up to help others who had been injured.

Leming was also one of the people looking for the climbers who perished trying a "fast and light" ascent up the north side of Hood two years ago. As I recall, two of the three out-of-towners' remains from that tragedy have never been located.

So we're going to have fun, but not without reverence for where we're having it. (Photo courtesy Doug Adair.)

UPDATE, 8:29 a.m.: We got only as far as packing the car to head out when we realized that there are going to be significant wind issues on the mountain today. At 5,000 feet, Ski Bowl is reporting average winds of 44 miles per hour. After hemming and hawing for a while, we've decided to stay home. Those sandwiches, we'll eat on the living room rug, picnic style.

This is the first time we've wimped out on skiing due to weather, but sliding around in 50 mile an hour gusts just isn't our idea of a great outing. We'll be thinking about the skiers all day, but it won't go beyond that.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Where's Sidney Wicks?

The technical quality of the sound and video of tonight's Blazer game cablecast from Charlotte is strictly early '70s.

The right stuff

It was just a matter of time before videos appeared of the Miracle Plane Crash of Thursday. The Times has a good one up here.

For immediate release

He's been on the job only two weeks, but already my former colleague John Kroger has broken the record for most press releases by an Oregon attorney general in an entire career. His p.r. flack, Tony Green, has been popping them out like waffles -- about one every other day. Kroger gives a swearing-in speech. Kroger and Ted K. attack Bush on his way out over the environment and abortion. Kroger accepts the guilty plea of some scam artist they indicted last year. Hardy Myers wins his last case in the U.S. Supreme Court; Kroger thinks it's great. Kroger accepts a settlement from a big drug company. Kroger will be available to talk to the press tomorrow morning. Kroger is giving a speech to the black community on MLK Day. Kroger this, Kroger that.

Do you get the feeling that he's already running for something else?

Friday, January 16, 2009

Have a great weekend

Today's quiz from Portland City Hall

We got a mystery e-mail yesterday afternoon from the City of Portland, alerting us to something really important. The problem with this one is, for a while we couldn't figure out what the heck it was trying to tell us.

The full text of the message was as follows:

October 1, 2008 - December 31, 2008

And then there was a link to this. Can you guess what it is? (Hint: Click and then look at the URL address.)


I got this as a birthday present last night.

Thursday, January 15, 2009


Today has been my birthday. Many great things have happened on this day over the years. One year, on Kauai, the Mrs. and I actually saw the green flash at sunset. A fantastic omen.

This year, my friends, wife, and daughters have made me a perfect day, and on top of it there is a miracle in the world -- clearly visible from where I once went to school, worked, played, and loved:

David Watta, 42, a vice president at a travel media company, was headed home to New Jersey on the Weehawken Ferry as the plane went down. His ferry immediately changed course and headed toward the crash site. Shortly after it arrived, he said, passengers from the downed flight began to come aboard the ferry.

"We were holding people, hugging them, reassuring them, holding their hands, warming them with our body heat," he said.

"We provided cell phones so they could call loved ones. A lot of them were so cold that they couldn’t dial, so we dialed for them. I would say that everyone on the ferry were heroes for the day. They were all civilians who stepped up in a time of need to help their fellow citizens."

There is nothing else a birthday celebrant could ask for.

Quickest way to lose your job in the Legislature

Vote for this -- the official start of the municipal nervous breakdown known as Mayor Sam Adams.

Coolest guy on earth right now

Just an old, sweet song

For some fat cats, "stimulus" handouts are nothing new. But they do get better in a recession.

Recipe for corruption

One of Nick Budnick's last pieces in the Trib is a lighthearted blurb about the fact that the Portland Development Commission recently "found" $17 million in "unallocated" funds that were floating around in its coffers under now-departed financial managers. Those of us who pay urban renewal taxes -- and about a quarter of what every Portland property owner pays in property taxes goes to the PDC -- may fail to see the humor.

How can a public agency's accounting be so slipshod as to leave $17 million stashed away in a slush fund?

In the wind

Grampy Potter may be off the Portland City Council, but his style lives on down in West Linn.

Tragedy unfolding in New York

An A320 Airbus jet has ditched into the Hudson River. Temperatures there are in the teens, but survivors are apparently being rescued. Live video is here:

Sam the Tram on snowstorm: How'd we do?

The Portland mayor's office has written up a survey to see how you rate the city's response to the white Christmas. It's here.

And if you got important information from bojack.org Storm Center 9000, don't forget to put in a plug for us in questions 1 and 2.

Startling development

Click on the image for the full, depressing story:

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Great Caesar's ghost!

If South Carolina passes this bill, blogging and sporting events will never the same.

Look who's back

UPDATE, 11:56 p.m.: Rather than taking up blog entry space with the latest Odenics, we've decided to institute a new sidebar feature, the Oden-ometer, which will appear starting tomorrow. When Greg does well, it's the guy on the left; when he doesn't, it's the guy on the right:

Venn Diagram of the Week

In Portland, the "creative class" does the math

The magic of local politicians' and bureaucrats' arithmetic never ceases to amaze. By "fast-tracking" pork construction projects, building low-income housing, and making loans to small businesses, the City of Portland says it's going to "add 4,985 jobs." Even taking into account that most of the jobs will last only as long as it takes to slap up some particle-board apartments and a minor league ballpark, that number seems awfully high. But don't hold your breath waiting for the local media to demand detail for the jobs claim -- both reporters left on the beat are now busy on other stories.

Speaking of math, $500 million for 5,000 jobs equals $100,000 of taxpayer money per job. How much of that $100,000 do Merritt Paulson and Hoffman Construction get to skim off?

Bush's last week

They're finally admitting to torture.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The game before the games

The betting lines are out for this Sunday's pro football games, and in the underdog pool in which I have been playing, lo this entire season long, it's time to call a final winning 'dog. Here are the choices -- if you had to pick one of the underdogs (in caps) to win its game outright, which one would it be? If I pick correctly, I get the number of points listed next to that 'dog:

6 BALTIMORE at Pittsburgh
3.5 ARIZONA vs. Philadelphia

Readers, as ever, your predictions are welcome:

Will the underdog teams win in this weekend's pro football playoff games?
Neither underdog will win
Baltimore will win in Pittsburgh, but Arizona will lose at home to Philadelphia
Arizona will win at home over Philadelphia, but Baltimore will lose in Pittsburgh
Both underdogs will win
pollcode.com free polls

While the actual games should be fun to guess about and watch, the last week of the underdog pool is as much about gamesmanship in wagering as it is about which underdog team is going to win. To have a shot at moving up in the standings -- top four players get cash shall we say, rewarded -- you have to pick the underdog that the player ahead of you isn't choosing. If both you and the other player pick the same team, your positions in the standings relative to each other won't move. And so one of the first hurdles is choosing the team that the player ahead of you will decide not to go with.

Assuming you get that right, you have two ways to move up:

1. Your 'dog wins, the pick of the person ahead of you loses, and the point earnings on your game are greater than the distance between the two of you in the pool standings.

2. Both 'dogs win, but your point earnings exceed the other player's point earnings by more than the distance between the two of you in the pool standings.

Of course, on the other side of the ball is defense. If one of the games has a smaller point potential than the other, by choosing the game with the larger spread you can insure that the person behind you can earn only the smaller points at most. If the smaller points are less than the distance between you, you thereby insure that the person behind you can't catch up.

If you've got people both in front of you and behind you, there's sometimes a tough choice to be made between offense and defense. By trying to move up, you may risk falling back.

Not to overlook the obvious, in order for either of you to go forward, you or the person behind you has you pick a team that's going to win. But there's a good chance that it won't matter -- that the pool could be decided before kickoff on Sunday. For example, if we all pick the same 'dog, the current standings automatically become final at tailgate time.

With that, I'm sure most readers will have had their fill of the internal drama of the final act of the pool -- if not more. But if you've been following the action over the last 19 weeks and care to hear about how it's all coming out, here's the preview of the final week's throwdown:

Continue reading "The game before the games" »

What's the 411 on 809?

I'm usually one of the last people on earth to get the viral e-mail messages on stuff like this, but today I hear that you shouldn't dial area code 809, 284, or 876 unless you are absolutely sure who it is that you're calling down there.

Will Wild Oats stores get their old name back?

They will if the feds get their way.

Buzzword change alert

With the new year comes a new Portland City Council code word for wasteful boondoggles. Formerly known as "linchpins," these will be hereafter referred to as "shovel-ready" projects. When these are completed, the city's reserve funds will be completely dissipated. At that point, the city's financial condition will indeed be "shovel-ready."

Hardwood update


A stimulus won't work on a dead kid

Breaking news: Portland has a serious gang problem and no money to address it.

Let's all wring our hands about it as we go by streetcar to Merritt Paulson's two new bush league stadiums.

Flagrant foul

Before the Blazers sent out their bonehead e-mail threatening to sue any team who might hire and play Darius Miles, they reportedly tried to claim him themselves and stash him on the sidelines, where he couldn't play and hurt their "luxury tax" situation. It appears that the league office wisely told Paul Allen where he could put that bright business idea.

A big noise with all the big boys

Earl the Pearl -- bow tie, bicycle, and all -- gets the royal treatment in today's New York Times. In the Science section, no less.

Monday, January 12, 2009

I may be able to listen to commercial radio again

Nothing makes me punch the button on the car radio faster than this guy's voice.

Day One

With this, we begin the long task of cleaning up our country after eight years of being run into the ground by a frat president.

Waiting on the bookies

The weekend just past was a complete and total disaster for me in the pro football underdog pool in which I play. Only one underdog lost -- San Diego -- and of course, that's who I picked. My hopes of first and second place finishes are history, and now there's a guy just 3½ points behind me as I sit in third place! Nobody said it was going to be easy, but the last three weeks have been brutal.

With only two games left in the pool, I may be able to lock in my third place spot without even caring if my team wins. If the underdog in the closer of the two games is favored to lose by 3 points or less, I can guarantee third place for myself by picking the other game. But if it's 3½ points, I could actually end up tied for third place; and if it's 4 or more, I could finish in fourth place. Not taking third prize outright would be a disappointing finish indeed.

The pool will post the official point spreads in the morning, but right now it's looking like 6 for Pittsburgh and either 3 or 3½ for the Eagles. Yikes. If it's 3½ or more, the strategizing will likely give me a headache.

Harbinger of doom

The front page of this morning's New York Times contained something frightening:

If there was any doubt that daily newspapers will not be with us much longer, this confirms it.

Help the economy

Bounce some checks.

Let them eat cake

I was in Whole Foods last night. They were selling red bell peppers for $2.99 a pound, and claiming that this was a great bargain -- that the regular price would be $5.99 a pound.

Uh huh.

The asparagus in there was $4.99, Meyer lemons $3.99, oranges $2.99... But hey, speaking of high prices at Whole Foods, it's been that kind of week.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Lemme tell you somethin'

This thing is way, way good. As I guess I should have expected:

The first 12 seconds of the track "I Don't Want to Discuss It" are worth the price of the whole deal. The rest is gravy -- a big old truckload of thick, hot gravy.

Did somebody say profits?

No slowdown for these folks.

An all-Pennsylvania Super Bowl?

It's entirely possible -- perhaps even likely.

Names chosen for Merritt Paulson's new stadiums

They're going to be called Stimulus Field and Prosperity Park.

Some funding will come from the $900 million in reserves, bond funds and other financial holding the city has on hand.
So it's going to be free! That's a relief.

It is important that we retain those creative class jobs shucking oysters at the Arlington Club.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Warm up the Google

Tonight, this post will be getting a lot of hits.

Dubious distinction

Wherein Portland is the poster child:

Blazers' business, poker, spelling skills belong in the D League

The insanity to which the Trail Blazers succumbed when they signed a big contract with wayward underachieving forward Darius Miles was bad enough. But now that it's come back to haunt them, the team's management has managed to make the situation far, far worse by trying to play hardball without a bat.

This week, the Blazers sent an e-mail around the league threatening to sue any other team that hires Miles and plays him in league games "for the purpose of adversely impacting the Portland Trail Blazers Salary Cap and tax positions." If Miles plays in two more games anywhere in the league this season, the Blazers, who I believe have to pay his fat salary anyway, apparently will also have to pay a steep "luxury tax" to many other teams. Portland will also be severely hampered in spending big bucks to sign free agents after the season is over.

To our untrained eye, the Blazers' threat is laughable. Proving that another owner had some sort of bad "purpose" in putting Miles in a uniform and handing him a ball would seem an unlikely proposition.

This appears to be just another example of Paul Allen making a huge mistake and then huffing and puffing about court action when he's got no real ammunition. Remember the arena bankruptcy? Bluff called; the Big Vulcan folded. We asked the same question back then: Why draw more attention to your own lack of professional acumen by engaging in boorish behavior?

And of course, the Blazers are losing their latest game of Truth or Dare. The Grizzlies just re-signed Miles.

Poor business judgment and arrogance don't smell any sweeter when you stir in hypocrisy. Which is what makes this quotation so amusing:

"Persons or entities involved in such conduct may be individually liable to the Portland Trail Blazers for tortuously [sic] interfering with the Portland Trail Blazers’ contract rights and perspective [sic] economic opportunities," [Blazer President Larry] Miller wrote, according to the reports.
Gosh, Larry, aside from the comical misspellings -- what about Darius Miles's contract rights and economic opportunities? Anybody interfering with those?

Already the union has said it will file a grievance against the Blazers. No kidding.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Last chance to park on the Portland transit mall

At least some spots on which parking has been allowed during the wasteful reconstruction of the transit mall will go back off-limits starting Monday. Too bad. For me, the novelty never wore off.

Have a great weekend

Wyden: 20 grand from Bernie Madoff

It's the whole New York thing, no doubt.

Now I've reached that age

Jimmy Page is 65 years old today.

They're down to two guys and an old eMachines desktop

Nick Budnick has packed it in at the Trib. (Via Oregon Media Insiders.)

Get ready to pay more "clean money" for less -- again

I see that, just as with Opie Sten's mysterious departure, we're apparently going to have "clean money" taxpayer campaign financing available for the upcoming special Portland city auditor election -- maybe two elections if there's a runoff. Great.

Free muni wi-fi is harshing my ley

So say King Arthur's neighbors.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Palin tries to bully Anchorage paper off Babygate

If what she's telling the world is true, you wonder why she'd try something like this. (Comment over there.)

Municipal bond world: rotten to the core?

So say lots of people in law enforcement. What does that tell us about a city like Portland, which is absolutely drunk on borrowing money, and pays lots of hangers-on to help it do so?

We only use bad syntax

I see that one of the City of Portland's more infamous collector's items is in demand. Presumably the requests are coming from amused English teachers and fully hydrated people who need baths.

Safeway: Bottle return problem? What bottle return problem?

I see that there's a local Safeway spokesman in the O today, defending that establishment's compliance with the Oregon bottle deposit law. "There were bound to be a few glitches," he says. Yep, especially when you don't give a hoot about getting it right.

Well, look on the bright side. Now we know where to send our complaints about the filthy, disgusting Safeway bottle return installations. Here's the contact info for that Safeway spokesman:

Daniel T. Floyd
Safeway, Inc.
16300 SE Evelyn St.
Clackamas, OR 97015

Give old Dan my best.

How's this gonna work?

Let's see. The federal government is going to spend another 12 figures to stimulate the economy, cut taxes, expand health care, and...

Did I just hear him say cut Grandma's Social Security?

Well, at least the Wall Street guys got away clean.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Another game report

You think it's bad now?

Just wait. The Chinese have suddenly decided they're tired of lending us money.

What to do during an economic slowdown

Start an internet radio station. (But for a better sound, go here.)

Opie surfaces in Bend

His adoring fans at Willy Week have the exclusive story, as usual.

More muni free wi-fi on the rocks

This time in the Big Apple.

New deposit bottle law? What new deposit bottle law?

As usual, the retailers of Oregon are showing their utter contempt for Oregon's bottle bill. Where is the enforcement? Why is this in the hands of the liquor commission? I know he's busy making himself the next technology czar, but why doesn't our new attorney general do something about this for the consumer? Earth to Salem!

As much as I dislike them...

... I gotta say that Comcast has really revved up the download speed on the cable internet thingie at our house.


Another Democratic senator pals around with a terrorist.

You see this sign?

Nico-rage hits the Oregon bar scene.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Cue the Gershwin while I give you the finger

A reader writes:

Here's a story for folks who might occasionally fly United from PDX.

I dropped my daughter off at the airport to go back to school. Her flight was at 6:30 AM to Chicago and then on to Manchester, NH. I got a call from her after I got home telling me that she'd missed her flight.

She was in line to check in with United by about 5:15. A little more than a half hour later she got to the front of the line and, along with 10-15 other people booked on the same flight, was told that she was too late. They said that you had to check in before 45 minutes from the time of your flight or "the system" would not let you check in. There was, alas, nothing they could do.

This included a guy who had checked in online. It included another guy who had asked a United employee during his long wait in line whether he would be o.k. for his 6:30 flight. Yes, you should be fine, he was told. There was no effort on the part of UAL to inform customers standing in line that they might have a problem. (Apparently they might have been able to check in outside, but nobody knew that or knew that they needed to.)

So, according to the United employees in Portland, you have to touch the touch screen at the check-in counter before this deadline or you will be rejected. Doesn't matter whether there is room on the plane; the system locks you out if you are even a second late. They claim that they cannot override this under any circumstances.

So… they booked her on a flight to Washington Dulles, a six and a half hour layover in Washington, and then to Manchester, arriving after midnight. The last bus she could get to Dartmouth was at 7:20, and there wasn't another one until something like 4:30 in the morning.

I'll spare the details, but while she was getting on her flight to Washington, I was searching their website for a phone number. (They want you to use an email contact form, response promised within 3 days.) I'm sure the "customer service" and reservation people in India didn't enjoy talking to me. Mom was not happy about the prospect of her having to wait overnight in the airport. Some airports don't even let you do that, but I don't know what else would be available in the middle of the night in Manchester.

It took an hour's worth of telephone tantrum, and persevering through multiple different stories about why they couldn't do anything, to get a supervisor to finally allow as how there was space on a flight from Washington to Manchester five hours earlier than the one they had booked her on in Portland. She and her bag both arrived in time for the 7:20 bus.

Interestingly, she sat next to a man on the plane to Washington who had the same experience, also headed to Manchester, but he had immediately been given a seat on the earlier flight, and he had been behind her in line.

One story was that it was the responsibility of the agent who sold her the ticket to inform her of the new rule. Another story was that this rule had always been in effect. At one point they wanted to charge me $150 to fly her to Boston instead.

The upshot is that:

1. It's the customer's responsibility to check in more than 45 minutes before a flight, regardless of understaffing or other problems United might be having.

2. "Customer service" has to know that you're not giving up before they will actually try to help.

3. United Airlines doesn't particularly care about repeat business.

That is all.

Sign me up

Where's the nearest Brazilian jujitsu studio?

It's Obama's fault -- already

Looks like Al Qaeda and the American right are on the same page about that one.

He's seen enough

Last year about this time, Opie Sten mysteriously packed it in. Today it's Gary Blackmer, the Portland city auditor, doing the political Dutch act.

Ah, but their great ideas live on. A million "clean" bucks later and Amanda Fritz is on the City Council. A million bucks later and PGE wouldn't sell itself to us. A half billion bucks later and the bus mall now has train tracks on it. Municipal debt just keeps growing like a weed as the economy falters. Botched computer projects all over City Hall. No idea too goofy or impractical. And the auditor has pronounced it pretty much all peachy. At least he gave the PDC a hard time toward the end there.

So long, Gary. Go by aerial tram [rim shot]!

Last call for decent 'dogs

I struck out last weekend in the pro football underdog pool in which I play. Not seeing any game that looked particularly good, I went with Minnesota over Philadelphia, which was a grave mistake. The Vikings, badly outmatched talent-wise and coached without a hint of any imagination, thought they could win their game by jumping up and down and gesticulating wildly before and after every play. Their special teams couldn't stop a decent college return squad. They bombed, even though the Eagles didn't look so hot, either.

I wasn't optimistic when Sunday rolled around, because both underdogs had won the day before. When both playoff 'dogs win on Saturday, the two favorites will prevail on Sunday.

And so it's on to the second week of the playoffs, where the winners of the wild card games are the 'dogs, and they're all on the road. This is pretty much where the season-long pool is going to be decided, and so I need your help. Which of these underdogs (in caps) can win its game outright, without the help of the point spreads?

9.5 ARIZONA at Carolina
6 SAN DIEGO at Pittsburgh
3 BALTIMORE at Tennesssee

If I pick a correct dog, I win the number of points next to that game.

I am currently in third place, 4 points out of second place and 5½ out of first. The nearest guy behind me is 9½ behind, and so we're still battling. Next week, the last week of the pool, there will be only two games, probably not so great a point spread on either, and a good chance of tying with one's competitors, and so this week is really crucial. Which 'dog can do it? Offhand, I'm thinking the Ravens or the Chargers, but I'm open to suggestion. The Ravens are my safest pick, but I'm probably conceding first and second place by doing so. One of the first two picks could conceivably win me the top prize.

Help me out with some sage advice in the comments below. And take the poll:

Which pro football underdog is most likely to win its playoff game outright this weekend?
Arizona over Carolina
San Diego over Pittsburgh
Philadelphia over New York
Baltimore over Tennessee
pollcode.com free polls

Venn Diagram of the Week

funny pictures

Fly the bloggy skies

Can't wait 'til I travel on one of these flights.

Sam the Tram has the clipboard out again

Remember when the newly minted Portland commissioner went out and visited 100 businesses in 100 days? He's at it again now that he's mayor. Adams and the boys did such a good job his first time around that now he's encountering vacant storefronts. But hey, some day they'll all be filled with green, sustainable something or other, and we'll all be happy -- just wait.

I love the photo. Adams is saying "Streetcars? Got it. Convention Center hotel? New soccer and minor league baseball stadiums? Check." The guy on the right is thinking "Tualatin."

Monday, January 5, 2009

The sled hill

One of the fun outings from the snowy Portland Christmas was a walk over to Irving Park, where there's a hill that's just the right size for junior sledders. We caught it both on a powdery evening and on a more slippery late afternoon, and it was a blast both times -- particularly with the addition of a couple of human-made bumps that were built about halfway down the slope on the second day.

Anyway, our friends Barb and Roberto had their brood up there one of those days, and they recorded the festivities for safekeeping. We'll have to be sure to come back to these images in the dog days of summer, to cool off:

Coincidentally, we were alerted to this video by our mutual friend Matt Whitman, whose latest addition, a Boy Named Cheese, has joined The Gus on the family blog.

Satellite urban renewal? Sure, what the hey

According to the state land use appeals board, it's o.k. to dedicate Pearl District property taxes to pay for a new public school way out on the eastern outskirts of town, rather than using those taxes to pay off the Pearlie "urban renewal" toy bonds or (heaven forbid) to pay for police, fire, street lighting, and other municipal services provided to Pearl District residents. If the state statute doesn't say you can't do something, then I guess the city bureaucrats can go for it, regardless of how badly they're twisting the intent of the law.

Oh, but you have to recite some sort of "benefit" that the Pearlies get from having a new school out in David Douglas. How long will it take the city's small cadre of paid liars to come up with that? About a half hour.

On with the bizarre story of Portland City Hall. Go by streetcar!

It worked so well on Wall Street

Mayor Sam the Tram is going to take risks.

Hey, why not? Putting him in City Hall shows that the voters of Portland love risk.

What's the plural of albatross?

The Trib confirms today what we've been telling folks for years: that "urban renewal" and police and firefighter pension and disability benefits are gobbling up property taxes in Portland at an alarming rate.

The worst part about the police and fire pension reality is that it's going to get a lot worse over the next few decades. The city's unfunded liability for benefits to the retired and disabled cops and firefighters now stands at about $2.5 billion. (The latest official number is due out later this month.) If you tried to pay that debt off over 30 years at 4 percent interest, the payout would be around $144.6 million a year.

In the most recent fiscal year, the city collected about $100 million in property taxes for the police and fire pensions. That would have to increase by 44 percent immediately to make the liability go away in 30 years. In other words, when it comes to a burden on taxpayers, you ain't seen nothing yet.

By the way, the Trib apparently didn't link to the official report that inspired its story. It's big and it's slow to load, but it's here.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

These things take time

Portland paralyzed once again

Another Arctic blast has Portland in its icy grip. At this hour, there is 0.0016 inches of treacherous slush on the ground. And the light rain that's falling is not only wet, but cold. It is currently 37 degrees Farenheit, which means that if the temperature falls another five degrees, things will freeze up, making travel even more life-threatening.

A frightening story from Southwest Portland: A couple is perched on the Vista Bridge, threatening to jump to their deaths if the schools are closed and their children stay home for one more day. Police negotiators and Schools Superintendent Carole Smith are on the scene trying to talk the pair down off the ledge to safety. Grim neighbors near the bridge report hearing Smith's voice through a bullhorn saying, "How about two hours late?" and the woman on the railing letting out a chilling scream.

Repeat: Slush on the ground. Cold rain. Do not leave your homes. Stay tuned to bojack.org Storm Center 9000 for further updates.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Nagging question

This one is bugging me again.

Friday, January 2, 2009

From OregBear's friends

In our e-mailbag this afternoon:

Hi Jack--

First of all, I want to say thank you very much, both to you and to the generous winner of your "Buck a Hit" day contest. As Executive Director of Ronald McDonald House Charities here in Portland, I'm deeply grateful for the $250 contribution -- which I believe is our very first from the "blogosphere"! I also deeply appreciate the affirming comments made by both the winner and others who added their approval. During 2008, nearly 1,600 families stayed at our two Portland Ronald McDonald Houses while their children were being treated for serious illnesses or injuries at local hospitals. The comfort, care, and support they receive is only possible because of the caring contributions of nearly 4,000 donors each year. We're honored to have received your creative contribution! I invite you to visit in the near future so you can actually experience the fruits of your generosity! Thanks again -- and happy new year!

Tom Soma, Executive Director, Ronald McDonald House Charities of Oregon and Southwest Washington

Oregon outdoor moments

A reader who read our post of yesterday about the new bottle deposit rules in Oregon writes:

Another observation I made today regarding new laws that take effect -- only anecdotal, of course. But like the bottle bill, there may be some story here.

Driving north on MLK / Grand, I noticed that the population of street people seemed to have tripled overnight. On second look, they were only standing in specific doorways. Looking closer, it was only at the bars. And it was only smokers that were standing around. Head-slap moment once I realized what was going on.

Don't look now...

... but it's been snowing again (and sticking) for the last hour or two here in Portland. Wet stuff, and now turning back to rain.

UPDATE, 3:33 a.m.: Looks like there's a slide blocking U.S. 26 up around Brightwood, and another slide has smacked into a house in L.O. down near West Linn, injuring five people and causing evacuations of other homes amidst the strong smell of natural gas.

UPDATE, 4:26 a.m.: I always get a bad feeling when the forecast mentions "debris flow."

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Who's your Big Daddies?

We're still looking for advice on this weekend's pro football games. We need an underdog that will delight its home crowd with a win. If you think you know, take our poll here. We have to pick a 'dog by tomorrow night.

Easy on the eyes

From Astoria, a gorgeous blog.

The new bottle bill deal

Today the recent revisions to Oregon's beverage container deposit law take effect. As the waste manager at our house, I look upon this development with a mild sense of dread.

Now plastic water bottles will have a nickel deposit on them -- which means that tons and tons more plastic will go through the deposit process. Will the retailers, who clearly despise the entire deposit system, ramp up their return processing machinery to cope with the increased volume? Of course not. And so the grim scene in their parking lots will take on a new, greater scale. The ragged street people rattling their shopping carts full of oozing, stinking contagion left to them by the better-offs. The working-class folks cursing the filthy, creaking, banging machines as their feet stick to the gross pavement. The indifferent teenage grocery workers shirking instead of making the machines work properly. Now there will be twice as much of this.

For tightwads like me who refuse to give their deposit money away, the trips will be more painful -- even if we never buy bottled water. The only bright side is that retailers who sell soda will have to take back all deposit soda bottles; retailers who sell beer will have to accept all deposit beer containers; etc. When the infernal machines spit out your containers that they don't like, you bring them to the teenager and make him write you out a receipt by hand. Freddy's gets to take back Safeway cans now -- and like it, dammit. That part, I can't wait for.

The real losers here are likely to be places like New Seasons, who still have human beings count out the returns and write out the receipts. When the homeless people show up there with their cartloads of Kirkland water and Kroger soda bottles, they'll be able to demand service. Eventually, every chain will have about the same level of service. And as experience has amply shown, that level will stink, literally and figuratively.

I like the bottle bill. I agree that water bottles should be included -- wine, too -- and I think the deposit on all containers should be a dime. But without minimum standards for the retailers and meaningful state supervision of the process, it's another case of politicians throwing the consumer to the corporate wolves.


1. 2,000 situps a week.

2. Run 300 miles for the year.

3. Less alcohol.

4. Less high-fructose corn syrup.

5. Sunscreen.

6. Vegetables.

7. Tea.

8. Water.

9. Cooking.

10. Gardening.

And others...

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