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

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June 2009 Archives

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Oops -- they did it again

Found in the fish tank today: another 30 or so baby guppies:

The grownups must be Catholic or Mormon.

We now clearly have too many of these little folks on our hands. Free to good homes!

The Metro Y is no more

Word is that the space, next to Duniway Park at the foot of Terwilliger Boulevard, is being taken over by a private Seattle-based fitness outfit. We've blogged about our issues with the Metro Y folks here before; it is not surprising that they're having to fold.

Another Paulson shot deflected

I'm not the world's best person to ask when it comes to the status of legislation in Salem, but if I'm reading this correctly, the Paulson stadiums tax bill -- the one that would subvert income taxes on soccer players' salaries to pay for yet another remodel of PGE Park -- died in committee in the state Senate.

If so, good.


We've had a couple of folks asking about the banner currently sitting at the top of this blog. Here is the original photo, which we goofed around with using Photoshop. It was taken by a friend of ours last week with an iPhone from the eco-roof of the Multnomah County Building at Grand and Hawthorne in Portland. The place is open to the public.

Crammers' best friend

We just completed an annual ritual -- lecturing to folks who are preparing to take the summer Oregon bar exam -- for another year. Sixty hours of tax law talk boiled down into four -- or just a little over four. Three times a summer, and up and down the valley.

Now that we've got the usual customers caught up, maybe we ought to head into overtime and give this guy a call. He looks as though he could use some brush-up work.

For bottle return mess, a new idea

Some big grocery stores out in Gresham are proposing to shift their deposit bottle return operations away from their store locations and over to a centralized redemption center. The retail chains in Oregon have performed miserably in this arena over the last two decades, getting worse every year. No wonder -- there's nothing in it for them, while the politically powerful beer distributors apparently make out like bandits on the current system.

Critics are understandably looking at the new proposal with a high degree of skepticism. One of the complaints is that a redemption center would require customers to make an additional stop beyond their grocery shopping stop, and that will discourage recycling.

I don't know about that. If given the opportunity to drive to a reasonably clean, well functioning redemption center with two halfway intelligent workers on hand, I'd gladly take it. That would be a vast improvement over the current situation at the bigger grocery stores in our neighborhood. That is, filthy, slow, ever-malfunctioning return processing machines, usually with no one around to service them, and an endless wait for some sullen, clueless teenager to come around and get them going when they stop, which nowadays is every time you show up.

The Gresham experiment is worth trying.

Money in the bank -- sort of

The increase in America's "savings" rate apparently just means that people are paying off old debts while the retail economy shrivels up.

High school dropout rate takes a leap

It all depends on how you count, but the latest news from Oregon's schools is not good.

Monday, June 29, 2009

It could be curtains for Yao, y'all

The big guy's foot may be shot.

Whatever, kids

The Portland "creative class" people have their own website now. As one might expect, it's fairly obnoxious. It's got a definite "Randy Gragg tries to be funny" vibe.

I can't go for that

I will miss Michael Jackson, but not this much.

Green: the new rose-colored glasses

I'm all for doing the right thing by the environment, but the "green" hype has gone far beyond the pale:

Construction, wholesale and retail trade and administrative and waste services were the industries that had the most green jobs, about 47 percent of the total, according to the report.

The five occupations with the most green jobs were carpenters, farm workers, truck drivers, hazardous materials removal workers and landscaping and groundskeepers.

Yes, nothing says "green" like building a condo bunker or driving a truck.

It's good that reports such as these come out, and that the public gets to dissect them. It's just a matter of time before the average person sees the absurdity of all the greenwash.

Guess who (cough)

Multnomah and Washington Counties are among the Top 10 worst locales in the country for airborne risk of cancer, according to this list. The official data on which the article is based can be found here.

Keeping news secret

So secret that it wasn't even on Wikipedia.

The City That Rolls Over You

They close one neighborhood's police precinct, then steal another one's parking.

Go by streetcar!

Seven out

It appears that Putin is getting Russia out of the legal gambling business.

Boop-boop-ba-boop-boop when I want to

The weekend that started off so well on Saturday just kept rolling through Sunday. The kids and I caught the end of the soccer game on the tube, and then I headed out to do battle with our tall, prolific rose trellis. It took forever to shape it up, but excellent tunes got me through some hot and squinty ladder work. Quincy Jones's Jook Joint, Cream's Disraeli Gears, the Stones's More Hot Rocks, and some fine KMHD jazz, including an hour of the opening night at the new jazz facility at Lincoln Center. Everything from Tony Bennett to "Have You Seen Your Mother, Baby (Standing in the Shadows)?"

The beautiful reward for an afternoon at hard labor awaited at the dinner table. The Mrs., who humors me way more than I deserve, succumbed to my suggestion that we make salmon with a fresh raspberry-balsamic sauce. I pulled a couple of recipes off the intertubes and did the grilling, at least, but the rest was her responsibility. The meal turned out spectacular, aided considerably by a fine Oregon pinot noir that I recently received as a thank-you. Life is indeed good. But I doubt that I'll be able to raise my arms above my shoulders again for a couple of days. My hedge clippers and I are hitting that Ben-Gay vintage.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Coming soon to the Portland parks: parking meters

Sometimes I think the government of this town has a grotesquely distorted concept of what a "park" is. They've charged for parking down at Willamette Park in the past, but every day, all year long? Come on, Nick Fish -- shape that bureau up and tell them to knock it off with this kind of shinola. Parks are for people to enjoy. They don't make money! Live with it.

Wish I hadn't thought of this

Time from the signing of the Treaty of Versailles, ending World War I, to my birth: 35 years.

Time from my birth to present: 55 years.

I Cloud 9 when I want to

Yesterday our family savored many of the great things that summertime has to offer. Berries and cherries from the farmers' market, and good neighbors to share them with because we always buy too many. Garage sale bargains, both practical and playful, along with some free stuff thrown in to punctuate a fine deal. The last hour of Jonathan Schwartz's radio show on the internet -- a Richard Rodgers tribute, today being the 107th anniversary of his birth. A splendid nap as the day's Wimbledon wound down. A slather of sunscreens from various bottles and tubes, and some time with the rose bushes and the lawn. The favorite iced tea making its seasonal debut. Trying to figure out what the cats had killed and were eating in the backyard. (There was an empty snail shell -- will a cat eat a snail?) Swim time at Grant Pool. Out to a couple of first-rate markets for fish and taco fixin's. A breezy evening run along Alameda Ridge. A return to our beautiful, old abode. Excellent food and wine in abundance. The summer daylight never wanting to quit. Goodnight hugs all around. Good air, good health. A leisurely flip through last Sunday's Times Magazine. Some time noodling around on the 'net.

We didn't hit the lottery, but in a lot of ways, it was better than that.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

U.S. embassy seized (yawn)

Here's an interesting story -- told by a former Portlander, I believe.

Want a job?

Then hand over your tweets.

Field burning showdown coming up this week

Our elected officials in Salem are talking about phasing this backward practice out entirely. It would be a breath of fresh air, literally, and long overdue.

The unanswered question

Did Beau Breedlove Google before he was 18?

Here's a tax target for ya

Oil speculators.

Friday, June 26, 2009

County to pay $925,000 for Jim-Jim Chasse's life

The City of Portland and the ambulance company are next to pay up.

As best we can tell, the police who killed this man are still out there, on duty; they have never been disciplined.

Have a great weekend

Seattle bails on biofuels

Will Portland do the same? Note: This would involve admitting that you screwed up, and so action here in the Rose City is not expected.

Dangerous liaisons? You can be one.

Here's a gig for you, as sent along by an alert reader this morning:

Portland Bureau of Transportation, Portland, Oregon
Closes: Monday, July 6, 2009 at 5:00 pm

If you're a "people person" and customer service is your specialty, Mayor Sam Adams has a job for you. It's a full-time job that pays up to $50,000 per year (depending on experience) with a strong benefits package beginning no later than July 23, 2009.

The position is Public Advocate in the Bureau of Transportation. As Sam's Transportation Public Advocate, you will investigate and respond to the wide range of transportation-related inquiries and concerns that citizens and businesses direct to the mayor. It's a demanding job that requires an ability to address a range of issues in a timely and effective manner. It's also a rewarding job because you help Portlanders in a direct, hands-on way.

To do the job well, you need to interact with people in a calm, professional, and compassionate manner at all times—even when people don't afford you the same courtesy. With the help of your team members you'll work every day to become conversant on the issues that interest and concern citizens and quickly develop an appropriate response. Being a team player is essential. At the same time, you'll need the discipline, motivation, and organization to respond to citizens and resolve matters in a timely way without direct oversight.

Additionally, you will help coordinate constituent response between the bureaus the Mayor oversees. Each bureau has its own Public Advocate, and you will help ensure the response to citizens remains consistent across bureaus.

If this sounds like a great fit for you, please submit:
* A one-page cover letter;
* Resume;
* Three references; and
* a maximum three-page writing sample (that includes an example of how you have provided good customer service) to:

Office of Mayor Sam Adams
Tom Miller, Chief of Staff
1121 SW 4th Avenue, Room 340
Portland, OR 97204

They left out: "You will occasionally be asked to deliver envelopes of cash to troubled gay teens. You'll need the discipline, motivation, and organization to do what you're told and not say anything. The position may expire this fall following the recall election."

In with the water bill

Our latest Portland water and sewer bill arrived in the mail this week, and after the Mrs. used smelling salts to revive me, I noticed there was a flyer enclosed. "Huh," I thought. "Probably another version of Fireman Randy's Caesar salad recipe."

But no. This one was actually about Water Bureau business -- and of course, the news was bad. It was recap of where the city stands on the looming federal requirement that it bend over backward to make sure that the bug named Cryptosporidium isn't in our drinking water. It isn't now, and never has been, but with all the parts of our water system that are open to the air, the feds aren't buying the status quo.

The bottom line was on the back of the insert:

Something tells me that our water bills are about to do what our sewer bills have done as a result of the Big Pipe project -- namely, soar through the roof. And those pretty open reservoirs on Mount Tabor and in Washington Park? Either covered over or disconnected.

Be civic-minded -- get naked

Back when they were talking about building the OHSU aerial tram [rim shot], the neighbors along the route threatened to hold summertime backyard nudist parties to scandalize the tram riders. To our knowledge, they never followed through with this, but with the weather about to warm up, they might want to pencil in a few dates for such gatherings. They might help ridership, and any increase in fares may help pay off the massive dent that was incurred to build the foolish contraption.

You say stop, and I say go, go, go

You've got to keep an eye on the Oregon Legislature toward the end of any session. Especially if they start monkeying around with the elections rules. Remember when they prohibited party members from signing petitions to put independent candidates on the ballot? Sleaze, pure and simple. (I think they recently undid that one -- I hope so.)

Now there's a flap about their latest maneuver -- a bill that will change what a "yes" or a "no" vote means when legislative measures such as tax increases are referred to the voters by petitions. Under current law, if you want the Legislature's act to stand, you vote "yes," but under this new bill, if that's what you want you have to vote "no."

The business community and the tighty righties, who are about to drag the latest tax increases onto the ballot, are crying foul. Meanwhile, Steve Novick and the Blue Oregon chorus say everything's fine.

You can debate all you want which setup is more or less confusing in and of itself. But one thing's for sure: changing how these things work virtually guarantees confusion.

On the other hand, you can be sure that the advertising campaign over this year's tax ballot measure(s) will be shrill and ubiquitous. By the time people get to vote, we bet that not too many will make a mistake. But there will be some, and that's a drag.

Salem is a weird place.

When tax shelters kill

In my days as a corporate and tax lawyer, I worked on a lot of equipment leasing deals. But nobody ever got hurt.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Who thought up the "cap and trade" emissions program?

It wasn't Enron, was it?

What would Jesus pack?

Oregonians are notorious for not being much of a churchgoing bunch, but this program might get some folks out this way into the pews.

Sergio's gone

Flashy Blazers benchwarmer Sergio Rodriguez has been traded to Sacramento, pretty much for nothing. It's part of lots of jockeying around in pro basketball in connection with today's college player draft.

We liked Sergio, wished we could have seen a little more of him on the court, and wish him some much-needed luck in Sacto, which has become a bit of an NBA graveyard these days.

There will never be another

Michael Jackson

Cue the developer weasels

Eugene is looking for a new city hall. No doubt the apartment bunker sharpies will be quick with proposals. "Mixed use! LEED Platinum! Linchpin! Thousands of new jobs!" And affordable, $1,000-a-month studio apartments.

You can't have it!

We rode through the Transit Mall yesterday on a Tri-Met bus. The bus stops have gotten fewer and further between, now that the trains are coming. And it looks as though pretty soon you'll have to board those trains, or the slug-like streetcar, if you want a fareless ride through the downtown core. The buses aren't going to be part of Fareless Square much longer.

Less service, higher fares, higher taxes -- that's Tri-Met these days. At least Fred gets to play genius in Australia.

Maybe they should try this.

PGE Park renovation cost numbers seem awfully soft

A thoughtful reader wrote us yesterday:

There are a couple of problems with the story that was posted earlier this afternoon on the Portland Tribune's website regarding the city council's vote today on separating negotiations for MLS soccer from those for Triple-A baseball.

First, the story makes it sound as if Paulson has been given the go-ahead to draw up plans, which is what the resolution discussed on April 15 was all about. But the only thing that today's resolution does is separate the two issues, so the MLS deal can be negotiated separately. Was that resolution from April 15 ever approved? I thought it got bumped from the agenda for its second reading when the Memorial Coliseum issue flared up.

Second, the story makes only passing reference to Montreal's interest in getting Portland's franchise. That completely misrepresents what's been going on behind the scenes for the past two months, as MLS Commissioner Don Garber has cooked up his deal with Montreal as a way of putting pressure on the Portland city council. So, basically, Garber is now calling the shots, not Paulson or the city council, which you'd never know from reading Redden's article.

And although Fritz has already made this point, why isn't the media screaming over the fact that Paulson has yet to provide any drawings of his own, or even a list of proposed renovations. How has he been able to come up with a $34 million cost estimate without any drawings? It all adds to the obvious point that the city's soccer task force was manipulated by Leonard and Adams into not doing even the most basic fact-checking. That alone should have long-since killed this deal. Why were Leonard and Adams ever allowed to even participate in what were supposed to be independent task force proceedings?

If things move forward, then another question to ask is whether or not the proposed new grandstands in the east end of the stadium should be designed with a steel, as opposed to a concrete, superstructure, so if and when soccer fails, they can be removed and PGE Park can be restored to its current configuration.

Finally, here's another alternative solution to consider. Since there are only 18-20 home matches in a season, why not gather up all the former roadies now house-bound and living in Portland with their wives and children. Then rent all of the portable grandstands, portapotties, and other fixin's that you'd need to build a temporary soccer-specific stadium, and build one from scratch for each match, at some location other than PGE Park. Hey, it works for the PGA whenever they have a major golf tournament.

Shocks and awe

I see they're going to spruce up I-5 down in the southern 'burbs. I wish somebody'd take a look at that road as it passes under the Burnside Bridge in Portland -- the pavement there is a mess, particularly in the southbound lanes. It's a Rose Festival ride every day of the year now.

Take a hint

Somebody up there is trying to tell the Portland City Council something. The same day they vote to re-do PGE Park yet again for a private sports team that will never be able to pay the mortgage -- and to kick the Portland Beavers baseball team to the curb -- a light fixture crashes at the stadium and requires that the night's game be postponed.

Kroger indicts Adams, in court of public opinion

We noted the other day how odd it was that Oregon Attorney General John Kroger was freely distributing reams of internal reports relating to the now-closed criminal investigation of Portland's mayor. Prosecutors don't usually do such things -- quite the opposite.

Now it gets even more unusual. Yesterday Kroger circulated to the media and blogosphere multiple drafts of his investigation report. And the drafts are far more damning of the mayor than anything in the final version of that report.

Prosecutors don't usually even write such reports when they clear someone. Much less release them to the public.

Much less release a draft of such a report to the public.

Much less multiple drafts.

Now, that's a politician, folks. Won't indict the guy, won't even convene a grand jury to see if he'd lie under oath, but will sic the media on him with piles and piles of embarrassing dirt gathered and signed by underlings. Methinks Mr. Kroger wants it both ways.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

An open letter to Branch Rickey, III

Branch B. Rickey, III
Pacific Coast League

Dear Mr. Rickey:

I wonder if you, as president of the league in which the Portland Beavers baseball team plays, are aware of what's been going on with the team in recent weeks. The team's owner, Shortstop LLC, which also owns the Portland Timbers soccer team, has committed itself to (a) buying a new soccer franchise, in the Major League Soccer league; and (b) getting the City of Portland to convert PGE Park, the current home of the Beavers, into a facility that would specifically be unsuitable for baseball.

This means that the Beavers will need a new place to play, and so far the only two Portland sites that have been found that would be suitable for a new baseball stadium have turned out to be unworkable because of widespread resident opposition to changing them from their current uses. There is also major resistance against using city tax dollars that are earmarked for "urban renewal" to build a new stadium for the Beavers, anywhere in Portland. And this type of tax dollars is the only money that the city could possibly muster for such a project.

What this means is that the unless Shortstop changes its current tune, the Beavers will not be playing in Portland after next year (or maybe even after this year) -- and there's no other feasible site for baseball currently on the drawing boards. The municipalities around Portland are presently strapped for cash, just as Portland is, and many do not have the "urban renewal" money pot to play with. Moreover, Beavers attendance, currently less than 4,500 per game for the season, would likely not improve with a move away from the central city.

Many in Portland have suggested that the Beavers should continue to share PGE, which was renovated specifically for baseball not too long ago, with the pro soccer team. Soccer, it has been suggested, could use portable stands to create the "near the field" experience that its fans purportedly demand. But Shortstop has repeatedly rejected this option, asserting that the "major league" soccer organization will not allow it. Of course, Shortstop could build its own stadium using private funds, but it is unwilling even to discuss that as it plunges headlong into a major capital outlay for the new soccer franchise.

What is never mentioned in all the public debate here is how your league sees all this. Is the Pacific Coast League o.k. with the Beavers moving to the suburbs? How does it feel about the fact that once the remodeling of PGE is legally committed, the Beavers will be without any home at all? And has anybody considered that, unlike the situation with previous sales of the Portland baseball franchise, in this case if the Beavers leave PGE, there is a good chance that there will never be a suitable facility in Portland proper for minor league baseball -- ever again?

I look forward to hearing your comments on the situation.

Jack Bogdanski
NE Portland

Willy Week picks through Adams investigation pile

They turn up some interesting stuff, and raise some serious questions, but nothing like their original blockbuster reporting of the Portland mayor's teen sex problems. At least not yet.

Portland neighbors vs. apartment bunkers, Round 938

Another hot little land use controversy is brewing up on North Williams Avenue. The Portland City Council is about to pass an emergency ordinance approving a 10-year tax abatement for a 72-unit apartment bunker on the southeast corner of Williams and Beech (just north of Fremont, until recently the site of an abandoned record store). The developer is reportedly an entity controlled by long-time Portland builders Ruben and Jack Menashe. Neighbors of the project are concerned about its height and bulk, and they're sounding off.

A couple of them sent us copies of their protests yesterday. One wrote:

Dear Mayor Adams and Portland City Commissioners,

Please accept this letter into the record as opposition to Emergency Ordinance No. 866, the proposed approval of the 10-year tax exemption requested by RuJax 1 LLC for The Albert Mixed-Use Apartments. I respectfully request that the City Council continue your decision on the tax exemption until after the Bureau of Development Services has considered the multiple appeals to Land Use Decision 09-101831 and until a final decision has been made on this Land Use Decision.

My husband and I live less than a block north of the proposed development. I understand that the Planning Commission held a hearing on the TOD tax exemption request on May 26, 2009 at which time they voted unanimously to recommend conditional approval of the request to the City Council. Because we live slightly over 150 feet from the proposed development, we were not notified of the initial public hearings for the land use decision or the TOD tax exemption.

Given the enormity of the impact of your decisions on our community, I urge you to continue your decision until the concerns of the community have been heard. The tax abatement decision should not be considered an emergency under Section 2 Ordinance No. 866 on the basis that "there be no delay in the construction of the transit supportive housing in this project," because the developer will need to wait for the final land use decision prior to construction. There is no reason to process the tax abatement request ahead of the land use decision.

There are several flaws in the findings to support approval by the City Council. The Emergency Ordinance recommends that the commentary in Exhibit A: Planning Commission’s Report and Recommendation on the TOD Tax Exemption Request for The Albert Mixed-Use Apartments be accepted as legislative intent and as findings. However, the PC Report is dated June 12 prior to the City receiving multiple land use appeals, and recommends approval of the land use decision with modifications to a rear setback, to the interior parking lot landscaping requirements, and to loading space size requirements -- without regard to the appeals. In addition, the Planning Commission's approval of the tax exemption was contingent on the condition that 18 units be reserved for low income households and that the development provide ground floor commercial space, a dedicated car share space and LEED Silver certification. However, it appears that RUJAX is not certain it will apply for LEED certification, due to its high cost (http://www.neighborhoodnotes.com/ne/boise/news/2009/05/the_albert_apartments_proposed_for_williams_corridor_in_boise/).

There are many other proposed developments (even along N Williams) that are more worthly of tax exemption benefits in this tight economic climate than the Albert Apartments.

I am a strong supporter of dense urban development as a way to avoid urban sprawl -- and even tax exemptions. For example, I support the proposed development for United Bikeworks at the corner of N Shaver and N Williams, as well as Adaptive Development Company's previous "Hub Team" projects along Williams that now house Lompoc, Pix, Lincoln, Yoga Shalla and other small businesses. I also support Oregon Energy Trust incentives and Business Energy Tax Credits for renewable energy projects and urban developments like the Hub developments. The Albert Apartments development, however, is not consistent with the neighborhood and relies on unjustified variances. Unlike the Hub Team development, the apartment complex does not incorporate elements of nearby, quality buildings such as building details, massing, proportions, and materials. Also unlike previous developments along N Williams, the Albert Apartments setback variance and height will result in negative impacts to the privacy and viewsheds of adjacent residences.

Please consider our community appeals prior to acting in this exemption hearing. Thank you for taking the time.

Sara McMahon Parsons

Another neighbor chimes in with this:


I am writing in opposition of the TOD Tax Exemption on the 65,000 sq. ft. new development called the Albert Apartments at 3638 N. Williams. The Neighborhood Association has filed an appeal of this project. And a second appeal was filed by a group of neighbors and community members.

The executive director of the Architectural Heritage Center registered their opposition to this project. Noting, "It does not appear that there was any notice for the demolition permit for the buildings at the above address, despite the much-celebrated prior long-time business uses by Brooks Grocery & Meats, the House of Sound, the NAACP’s offices, and the late Willie Harris’s Sportsman Barber Shop and Williams Street Market. This complex was identified on our Cornerstones African American Buildings History project, given its long and continuing African American associations over time. We acknowledge that the buildings were not designated by the city for Portland for their history, despite our efforts to provide some recognition and related reviews."

It is unethical and wrong on many levels, to go forward with a council financial review and planning for a project that is in still in early processes of appeal. The fundamental project descriptions, building plans, public benefits are all theoretical at this point and under administrative appeal. The strength and validity of the information you are using to base your decisions are still in dispute and so any decision you reach will lack strength and credibility.

The community must be given an actual voice in this matter and the value of their input must not be made meaningless by council actions nullifying their continued and rightful attempts at participation.

This is a slight on the cultural value of the community and its inhabitants who have a right to be heard and considered fairly before more irrevocable and precedent setting actions are taken by any parties.

This project is in a Design Review Overlay Zone, which means their are many considerations given this project that projects in EX zones are not awarded. It is not a free ticket to develop anything you like and it does not trump at every turn the needs of the abutting residential and small commercial uses. The Design Overlay is in place to prevent this sort of big developer from steamrolling community residents. This seems to be the way of the PDC, the City and big developers taking for instance the Paulson, Lents debacle recently.

Before the outcome of these appeals are determined it is irresponsible to to authorize and commit the City to tax abatements. There is no way to know what at this point you are committing to and what ultimate form the development will take. The area is replete w/ for sale, for lease, for rent signs. Adding a monster development on top of this will further diminish property values and the value of the community as a whole. In light of massive layoffs of city workers, teachers, emergency responders and the like this type of pork is outrageous and can not be justified. It is business as usual and the rich get richer.

Given that the facts upon which a Ten Year Tax Abatement would be granted are still being disputed by the neighborhood association and community members in two seperated adminstrative appeals, it is negligent to move forward with this approval.

The effect of a the Council's ruling in favor of this abatment would be to effectively squash and silence the importance of the public voice in this matter and matters like this by essentially negating the meaning of their participation in the process.

You have your carts before your horses. Giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to huge developers through public subsidies like this in a time when teachers are being given pink slips is dishonorable and just plain wrong. Not to mention that the project you are basing this decision on is still under appeal. What are you basing your decisions on? And what's the rush to demolish and build. Aren't their empty condos and building galore in the Pearl District that are the result of Development for the sake of Tax Abatement?

Thanks for your time,
Tracy Olson

One obvious question that jumps out is, Why the rush? Where's the legitimate emergency here? Perhaps Commissioner Fritz will ask -- she usually has her antennas out for that sort of process abuse.

The other irony is that the bus service from that block to downtown is about to be cut back substantially with the upcoming truncation of the 33 Fremont line, which will now terminate at Emanuel Hospital. And I believe the plan is that eventually, the 6 MLK line will also be chopped off somewhere near the infernal eastside streetcar. But there's no cutting the tax giveaways for building bunkers anywhere near a bus. Oh, no. We must have Fake New York, and not just in the Pearl.

You can blame Al Gore...

... for the next earthquake.

What we've learned about corporate greed

Apparently, not much.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

It's about time

The Oregon Legislature has finally gotten around to banning handheld cell phone use while driving. The bill's not perfect, but it's better than nothing. Hang up and drive!

Portland government sinks to the very bottom

Envelopes full of cash changing hands at City Hall? People, take it from a guy who grew up in Newark and spent three years as a newspaper hack watching corruption trials in Jersey City. That is the sign of municipal government that is rotten to its very core.

I'm sure we're going to be told by the City Council that this was a one-time incident. I wouldn't believe that for a New York second, and you shouldn't, either.

Blood begins to flow at Metro

The volunteer board that runs the Convention Center can read the handwriting on the wall. Two of its members just quit rather than let Metro take away their power to hire and fire the general manager of the Convention Center. It's all part of the effort by the Metro top brass (the Goldschmidt faithful, it appears) to get rid of the current manager, whom the Convention Center board supports.

Full-service Mustela

Here's a good one -- Homer Williams is getting into the public storage business. First he sells you a matchbox-sized apartment; then he rents you a storage locker; then he buys up your defaulted mortgage. What a guy. But why build new buildings for the storage deal? He could just fill up the ghost towers in the SoWhat District.

Adams bankers say they'll go after Breedlove

Mortgage lenders who are foreclosing on Mayor Sam Adams's North Portland home and rental house say they'll seek to enforce the mayor's rights against his former teen lover, Beau Breedlove, to whom he paid $750 cash over the past year, purportedly as loans.

"If these are really loans, they're assets of Mayor Adams, and we have a right to attach them," said Lorne Skinner, a senior vice president in the lending division of Wells Fargo Bank. "Our collection people will be contacting Mr. Breedlove shortly to work out a payment schedule."

News of the highly unusual cash payments by Adams to Breedlove appeared yesterday, on the heels of the closing of the criminal investigation against Adams and the unprecedented release by state Attorney General John Kroger of dozens of pages of interview reports from the investigation.

Elsewhere, Portland developer Homer Williams, who has reportedly been buying up delinquent mortgages in recent days, declined comment on reports that he might acquire Adams's loans and "work something out" with the mayor. A spokesman for Williams told a reporter this morning that the local real estate mogul "is busy this week foreclosing on himself."

Monday, June 22, 2009

The latest authority

I see that the O has roped in reporter Ryan "Gragg" Frank from his usual tour of duty, trying to put a positive spin on the collapse of the Portland condo market, to become today's expert on Oregon law enforcement trends. "Why Kroger Didn't Prosecute Adams." Yawn -- whatever you say, Ry-Guy.

Spam on Sam

WW has posted reams of documents that it has obtained from the office of Oregon Attorney General John Kroger -- interview records, apparently -- from the now-closed criminal investigation of Portland's mayor. Funny thing, though -- a few hours ago Kroger's office sent them out, apparently by broadcast e-mail, to a large group of people who didn't ask to see them, including yours truly. Tony Green, chief operator of the relentless Kroger press release pump, sent us three e-mail messages totaling more than 23 megabytes of data.

Sheesh! I didn't know that interview records from criminal investigations were public documents. And even if they are, I have never heard of a prosecutor circulating them to people who didn't even ask for them. Curious behavior, if you ask me. But it's been a strange case from Day One -- no surprise that it retains that character at this stage.

Lents "citizen advisory" group ready to wash hands of Paulson

An alert reader sends along a copy of a message -- or at least a draft of one -- apparently sent earlier today from the chair of the Lents "urban renewal" citizen advisory board:

From: Ocana-Chiu, Juan Carlos (PDC)
To: Adams, Sam; Leonard, Randy; Fish, Nick; Fritz, Amanda; Saltzman, Dan
Cc: Wilhoite, Charles; Andrews, Scott; Ferran, Bertha; Mohlis, John; Straus, Steven; Witcosky, Keith J.; Miller Dowell, Amy; Cronin, Kevin; Ocana-Chiu, Juan Carlos (PDC); [many others omitted -- JB]
Sent: Monday, June 22, 2009 1:44 PM
Subject: Letter regarding June 25th meeting

Sent on behalf of Cora Potter, Chair of the Lents Town Center Urban Renewal Advisory Committee.

From: Cora Potter
Sent: Monday, June 22, 2009 1:06 PM
To: Ocana-Chiu, Juan Carlos (PDC)
Subject: *DRAFT* Letter regarding June 25th meeting

Mayor Adams and Commissioners,

After conferring individually with members of the LTCURAC, I regret that the LTCURAC can not, in good faith, make a recommendation to allocate funding to the AAA Ballpark at the Walker Stadium site.

A key component to the success of any project is the presence of a willing and enthusiastic development partner, public or private. As of Friday, June 19, 2009 we were informed that key component is no longer a part of this proposal. This makes any further deliberation on the opportunities and challenges associated with the project difficult to conduct in a manner that addresses the project rather than the current circumstances. In addition, without additional input and details from the project proposer, we can not make an adequate and informed recommendation.

In order to allow our volunteer committee time to recoup and prepare to address other strategies for advancing the goals of the LTCURA plan, I am canceling the special meeting scheduled for Thursday, June 25. The next meeting of the LTCURAC will be on the regular meeting date of July 14, 2009.

Thank you, and City and PDC staff for your support during this process. The LTCURAC looks forward to exploring additional project opportunities in the future and to continuing to work with you on advancing the goals of the Lents Town Center Urban Renewal Plan, and the East Portland Action Plan.


Cora Lee Potter
Chair, Lents Town Center Urban Renewal Advisory Committee
So much for Fireman Randy's (and the Oregonian's) idea that the committee must vote. It appears that the Lents stadium is now as dead as a doornail.

The ball's back in Willamette Week's court

Willamette Week works in mysterious ways. Its timing in releasing its blockbuster scandal stories -- Goldschmidt, Adams, and others -- is always impossible to figure out. And it never seems to spill everything it's got; it always seems to be playing poker.

Thus we find ourselves wondering what's to happen next in the Mayor Creepy scandal. Predictably, the facts that were enough to throw the entire city into a tizzy these last five months were not enough to force anyone in law enforcement to do anything about them. And so now we must wonder what else the boys at WW have on the mayor, whether they have any reason to share it, and how they might decide what more to air and when.

Clearly, on this one, nobody else in town is going to make anything happen, or they would have done so by now.

If you strike a king, you must kill him. But here, the king, though wounded, is still at it. Was that the plan -- to throw him off but keep him in power? Who knows? As ever, we watch and wait.

Kroger comes through for Sam the Tram

"Insufficient evidence to charge." Insufficient to recall? Time will tell.

Even if the recall fails, do you think he'll make it through a full term as mayor? It seems unlikely. But the full-scale municipal nervous breakdown will doubtlessly linger as long as he does.

"Major league" soccer -- in the dead of winter?

While Portland prepares to kick professional baseball out of town and blow $30 million to $40 million to renovate PGE Park for "major league" soccer, a suggestion has been made from a high place in the soccer hierarchy to change the pro soccer season in the United States to one that runs from August to May, rather than March to November.

Wow. If you're worried now about soccer drawing enough people to pay the mortgage on a remodel, can you imagine it competing with the Blazers and the Portland weather?

I'm sure the soccer freaks will tell you that the change won't happen any time soon, but hey, the bonds on the remodel are going to be some lo-o-o-o-o-ong-term debt.

Fish and Fritz -- finally, somebody down there gets it

As we sit back and gaze in wonder at the political disaster area known as the Paulson stadiums deal, let's not overlook the heroes in the scene. If it were not for Portland City Council newcomers Amanda Fritz and Nick Fish, who said no to the misguided proposal many weeks ago and have stood their ground amid enormous pressure ever since, by now the city would be marking the trees in Lents Park for the chainsaws and hawking the $80 million in new public debt for not one but two new private sports palaces in the midst of a near-depression. Bad things may come of the Paulson plan yet, but credit Fish and Fritz for doing something few City Council members do in Portland -- actually advocating for what a majority of the citizenry wants, rather than what the development sharpies and construction unions say we have to have.

You can tell when a politician does the right thing, by seeing who criticizes her for it. The Oregonian is right on the case now -- painting Fireman Randy, whose bullying conduct has been nothing short of venal, as the "profile in courage" on the Paulson boondoggle. This is the same treatment it gave transparently phony Dan Saltzman when he hemmed and hawed before giving the inevitable green light on the doomed-from-the-start OHSU aerial tram [rim shot] years ago. According to the O, the rest of the council, who are no longer responding to the Fireman's daily tantrums, are somehow the failures here. Even columnist Anna Griffin is sticking unpleasant labels on Fritz and Fish -- how dare they hold the city back from progress? With critics like these, you know you're on the right track.

The problem, of course, is that for the last nine months or so, the Fireman and Mayor Creepy have been foaming at the mouth with one crazy stunt after another. The Paulson stadiums deal changes literally daily -- some days, hourly -- and one rush-rush timetable after another is set before the council and the rest of the city for hasty consideration, if that. Griffin herself has suggested that the mayor needs a prescription for Ritalin -- it's curious that she now faults his colleagues for not moving the city forward when she knows darned well that it's all they can do to stop him from burning it down as part of his self-destructive drama. Maybe she's feeling a little pressure from her bosses herself as she surveys the mostly emptied newsroom.

Anyway, there are many folks out here in the real world who are grateful for, and impressed by, Fish and Fritz's straight talk and steady hand through all of the shenanigans from the Jerky Boys over the past six months. May our two heroes stay that course until something -- indictment, resignation, recall, a faulty neon sign, or a burning bush along a Mount Scott bike path -- ends the adolescent behavior in City Hall and allows them to get to work on something positive. With two sane voices on the council, as the Rolling Stones used to say, it's just a kiss away.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

OMG! OR in the NYT, and it's not all good!

The Times crew chronicles bust times in Bend, particularly as they hit the equity émigrés from Ahnoldland.

The Wall Street rants, and gets it wrong

The weekend Wall Street Journal has a wicked editorial in it, blasting the Oregon Legislature for having the nerve to raise corporate taxes. But before they get so preachy, those editorial writers should get their facts straight. They state:

Oregon will soon boast the second highest [individual] income tax rate in the nation, moving ahead of California (10.55%), and only slightly behind New York City (12.6%). Corporations will pay a 7.9% tax on gross receipts, up from 6.6%.
Oregon doesn't tax gross receipts -- it taxes net income, allowing the expenses of income production to be deducted from gross income to reach the tax base.

But hey, it's the Wall Street -- no business tax increase could ever, ever be justified. If it were up to that publication, income tax would be imposed only on working people's wages. Income from businesses and investments would be completely exempt. Bush actually announced this as his agenda back before he went back onto the pretzels, but the vast majority of the voting public wanted no part of it. Nor does it now.

What fools these mortals be

When the Mean Girls' time on the Portlandia comedic stage ended, many of us feared that there would be less to laugh about. Were we ever wrong. The Paulson stadiums deal has turned into a farce of Shakespearean proportions. Even at remote wi-fi hot spots hours away from the Rose City, we watched the past week's gyrations with robust amusement. Apologies herewith to those other patrons of the coffee shops, bars, and libraries in which we sat with our trusty laptop -- our snorts and chuckles were probably distracting.

When we left town at the start of the week, things were proceeding according to a fairly set plan -- pretty close to the original plan with which the play opened, although there had been many detours, twists, and turns in prior acts. There would be a new minor league baseball stadium built on half of Lents Park, and PGE Park would be remodeled once again, but this time for soccer only -- or for soccer and football, but with absolutely no room for baseball. The whole thing would cost the taxpayers north of $70 million. Saltzman, the dusky Duke of Burlingame, had issued a list of demands that would have to be met before he would go along with the plan, but it looked to the audience as though the fix was in.

One of the Duke's conditions was approval by a "citizen advisory" committee out in Lents, which was scheduled to vote up or down on the Lents part of the plan on Thursday night. But that group announced at the 11th hour that it wouldn't take a vote at the appointed time, in part because the members wanted to consider alternatives to the plan that was being pushed by Little Lord Paulson and his troubled friend, Randlet. One thing the neighbors didn't like was that the stadium would suck up all the tens of millions of pounds of gold that are supposedly sitting around waiting to revitalize their neighborhood and give poor people somewhere to live. Word had it that the committee was planning to vote that some, but not all, of that money should be taken for the baseball stadium.

When news of this mutiny reached City Hall, Randlet and King Creepy spun out a new line -- that regardless of whether the Lents stadium scam went through, the PGE Park remodel scam would go on. If the people in Lents didn't play along, so to speak, then minor league baseball would have to leave town.

This was supposed to get the Lentsians brooding about being made a scapegoat for moving baseball to the 'burbs, but the city's ploy was too late. A few of the neighbors thought about it, but most of them never considered it before they got up and spoke at the meeting. A goodly number turned out, and apparently they let Little Lord Paulson have a royal earful. "Unruly" is how some observers put the crowd. By the next morning, LLP had announced to the world that he wouldn't be moving baseball to Lents.

Now, up to that point, the action on stage was pretty amusing, but on Friday afternoon, the plot went over the top, as Randlet suddenly demanded that Lord Paulson change his mind yet again, and force the baseball stadium down Lents's throat. "And if you don't, blackguard, we won't give you the money for the soccer stadium. I said we were going to screw those neighbors over, and you can't not screw unless I give you permission to not screw."

Randlet has had the audience howling many times before. But this time he's showing the depths of his madness. It was not too long ago that he declared in a soliloquy, "How now, I am staking my political reputation on bringing baseball to Lents." In light of the events of the last two days, it appears that his ambitions have been dashed. But no -- Randlet's going to show us his toughness by "standing up to" his lord and master. "Emerge from thy sauna, m'lord, and come out to fight the peasants who dare to bite thy hand rather than kiss thy ring. In good conscience, you must. We'll have more meetings -- yea, meetings every week until the entire mob has gone on holiday to the Beach of the Cannons, there to sup on the dry oyster crackers of Dooger -- and verily we shall overcome."

We're in another little intermission here, but the play is about to resume momentarily. If the cast is going to top what's happened so far, hold onto your seat. People are still chortling about "green brick parking" and MacDon of Mazziotti with his familiar speech "Trust Me." Before long, we're expecting a town crier to show up, stage left, with a message from Sir John Krogwell about the fate of King Creepy. If His Delinquency is to be beheaded, let's hope they drag him offstage for it. But not before a side-splitting speech by another of Lord Paulson's minions, Queen Mother Vera.

Happy Father's Day

Saturday, June 20, 2009

It's all about saving lives

It's just a matter of time before the government says you can't have a regular one -- you have to use these.

Off the road again

If it seems as if we've been mailing it in to this blog the last few days, that's only because we pretty much have been. Off in a place that our cheesy version of the internet didn't quite reach, we had to maneuver around a fair amount just to get a few thoughts posted.

Funny thing, though. Where we were, they were playing the Lars Larson show over the intercom at retail stores. Beautiful land, it has its quirks.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Have a great weekend

Couldn't take the heat?

Looks as though those dedicated "Citizens for Fire Safety" have cut and run.

"We're with Sam" bandwagon emptying out

Here's a hint from a constituent who writes about personal finance and used to be proud of you: you've got to take care of your financial basics first, before you go out and party with the kids, yes, before you hire a pricey attorney to clear your name. We love to proclaim our weirdness, but a homeless, triply-disgraced mayor is just a little too weird for us.
The whole thing is here.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Another Portland classic

Here's a long-running soap opera that we hope is now over.

Easy pickin's for Kroger

Let's see. The guy's under criminal investigation, sneaks around tonguing teenagers, assassinates the political careers of his opponents, buys off reporters with jobs for which they aren't qualified, admits he has a terrible time telling the truth about anything, is reneging on his debts, drives recklessly (or worse), can't file his financial disclosure forms on time -- do you think he'd be cutting square corners on his taxes?

Who knows? Maybe he would be. I'm just asking.

Maybe the state Department of Revenue should be, too.

Stadium switcheroo -- must the construction go out for bid now?

Back in April, when the City of Portland announced that the Paulson satadiums deal was going to be a no-bid affair, one of the justifications the city gave was this:

The award of a Predevelopment Agreement to Peregrine should be exempted from competition requirements of state law and City Code on a sole-source basis because Peregrine is the only entity that holds both franchises, is the only entity that will renovate the MLS Stadium and construct the new Triple-A baseball stadium and is the only entity other than the City that will incur predevelopment costs. To the City’s knowledge, no other entity exists that is willing to split predevelopment costs with the City.....

In addition, Peregrine would not be interested in making a contribution toward renovation or public improvement costs if it could not also operate both stadiums. Thus, while there are potentially other companies that could operate both Stadiums, there is no other entity that will operate and also make a contribution toward construction costs at both Stadiums

Now that it isn't even clear that there's going to be a second stadium, this decision needs to be reconsidered -- doesn't it?

Amerika 2009

Where "protests" are "terrorism."

City to Portland Beavers: Bye

Mayor Creepy and Fireman Pele have decided! (At least for this week.) PGE Park will be remodeled yet again -- this time for "major league" soccer -- and the Beavers baseball team will be thrown out. Where will baseball go? We don't know, and apparently we don't care. Forget that $30 million we blew on fixing up the stadium for baseball a few years ago -- it's gone. All that's left is $25 million or so of mortgage to pay off.

"I just couldn't in good conscience hold soccer hostage any longer than I have," Leonard said.
"Good conscience"? Randy? Too funny. Notice the imperial "I," too. Nobody else matters. It's all about Caesar.

And so now, an exchange of hostages -- soccer is released and the taxpayers are taken in. By now at least they're used to it.

Has anybody seen my suitcase?

It's got some, er, uh... important papers in it.

Even when you don't hit "cc"

... there's a copy going out.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sometimes they do something sensible

Here's a decent move by the Oregon Legislature.

More hemming and hawing on Lents meeting procedure

Here it is the eve of the meeting when the Lents Park stadium fiasco was going to get voted on by the "citizens advisory" group, and now they say they'll be a meeting but no vote tomorrow evening. The Portland Development Commission just announced within the last hour that they're scheduling another meeting for next Thursday evening -- time and place to be disclosed -- and that's when the vote will be taken.

On one level, it's good news that the neighbors are getting more time to see and respond to whatever bait has been switched over the last few days. But on another, it's distressing that they keep scheduling new meetings, forcing the opponents of the Paulson stadiums boondoggle to give up half their summer -- and it will probably wind up being all summer -- fighting the thing.

Weasel developers, contractors, promoters, and hired pushers have nothing better to do than go to these meetings. They all get paid to be there. The people who just want to save their park and neighborhood -- they sacrifice part of their lives.

How convenient

Here we have on our hands one of the biggest debacles to face Portland's parks in decades -- the paving over of Lents Park for the Paulson minor league baseball stadium -- and the Citywide Parks Team decides to pick this month to call off its monthly meeting. "We're working on a topic related to park and urban renewal for July." Too funny, people. You can't make this stuff up.

They're growing wild now

Here's another convention center hotel scam in the making.

Corporate Shenanigans of the Day

A reader whom we respect a great deal writes:

I live in Tobias Read's district. I got a glossy mailer today from a group called "Citizens for Fire Safety Institute" urging me to contact Rep. Read and urge him to vote against SB 596. "Help Stop Legislation in Salem that Will Put Families at Greater Risk for Fire Tragedies." SB 596 is a ban on certain flame retardants that poison people. Of course this group is calling for "further study." Thought you might be interested and able to find out who this citizens group actually is -- probably chemical manufacturers.
This is a pretty easy one to figure out, with just a Google search. Here they are in Maryland. And in New York. And Minnesota. And Hawaii.

Big businesses will do whatever it takes to protect their money, kids. It's what they do. Your health could matter less.

Trust me

After months of sitting around with not enough work to do, about 90 bureaucrats in Portland's Bureau of Development Services (motto: Everybody Hates Us) are getting pink slips. This comes on the heels of a recent speech -- less than a month ago -- in which the management-coached director of the bureau said there'd be no layoffs. It's all perfect Portland -- a Fireman Randy favorite son screwing up royally. The story changes almost daily.

Go by streetcar! Try the Caesar's salad! And sing the little Timbers fight song all the way to bankruptcy court.

Why Sam can't pay his mortgage

An alert reader points out that one reason that Portland's creepy mayor is delinquent on his mortgage payments might be that he's chronically late in filing financial disclosure forms with the state -- and for those transgressions, he's regularly fined, it appears. This year, the fine reportedly was $440. The forms are due on April 15 every year. According to our informant, here are the forms that Adams filed, and what they show they cost him because they were late:

2009 - received June 8 - fine $440
2008 - filed on time
2007 - received May 24 - fine illegible
2006 - received May 30 - fine $50
2005 - received May 26 - fine $45
When forms are filed late, one might logically ask what else is wrong with them. Perhaps readers can take a look and enlighten us. In the meantime, I'm sure the mayor's anxious bankers will be particularly frustrated to see this year's $440 fly out the door. That's just the way he is, fellows.

A match made in... well, somewhere

John Canzano and Neil Goldschmidt.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The O dresses up the truth, once again

The b.s. from Mark Larabee and the O about the Paulson stadiums scam just won't quit. While the neighbors scream bloody murder about the hokey "process" that's been set up for Thursday night's "citizen advisory" vote, our city's moribund daily newspaper blithely proclaims, "Residents will get a say in Lents' baseball future." Except for a chosen few, however, the say will be meaningless. Don't expect the Stickel-ers to tell you that. Or to mention this. Too busy cheerleading.

The editorial board of the O never met a builder boondoggle they didn't like. Streetcars, aerial trams, now a second minor league baseball stadium in less than a decade after the first one fell on its face -- it's all good to them. "Snazzy." Especially when it comes from a Republican trust fund baby like Little Lord Paulson. That gets them squirming with glee. Whatever. Soon they'll wonder why they're gone.

City Hall gets something right for a change

Hey, check it out -- our friend and occasional blog commenter Anne Dufay is the new executive director of Southeast Uplift, the agency that serves as an important resource for neighborhoods in that part of Portland. Anne is a smart cookie and regular people at the same time, and she speaks from the heart. Trying to talk sense to the strutting peacocks currently running the city is not an enviable task, but if anybody can make headway in that department, it's Anne. Best of luck to her -- the city needs her.

Big buzz

Our e-mail inbox is being inundated with messages directing us to this story. Looks like Portland's once-bankrupt mayor may be headed that way again. Too bad he's taking the rest of the city with him. Hey, the guy's claim to fame is that he was the economic development brains behind Vera Katz -- what were you expecting?

Look on the bright side. At least he isn't racing the bank to make a payment, stinking like beer and with his pants half off.

Stacking the deck

In Portland, we have "do process" -- there's no limit to what the city will "do" to its citizens to make sure that dissident voices (a) are ignored, (b) are subverted to look as though they support whatever scam the politicians and bureaucrats are into at the moment, or (c) are jerked around with procedural maneuvers to prevent them from getting organized in an effective way. This Thursday's Lents area "citizen advisory committee" vote on the Paulson stadiums scam is a case in point.

It's not clear what the heck the committee will be voting on -- the Paulson proposal, or some sort of counterproposal. And the neighborhood can't adequately prepare to speak to the proposal -- they won't get the details until hours, or even minutes, before the vote. Great.

The neighbors are screaming that the process isn't fair, but it's clear that Mayor Creepy and Fireman Pele have the thing wired, and don't want to hear anything more from those pesky little Felony Flats pawns past around 10:00 Thursday night. They bought off some gal named Cora Potter a long time ago, and she's the head of the "citizens advisory" group. And so on goes the railroading -- or in this case, the light-railroading.

The opponents are staging a rally at 5:00 at the site of the open house and meeting -- Mount Scott Center (SE 72nd & Harold). They'll have to get a huge crowd there to stop this. Heaven help them.

Monday, June 15, 2009

If they're going to re-do PGE Park yet again...

... they need to bring this back.

In the trenches

When you're being worked over by the Republican aristocracy, like Merritt Paulson, and the construction company boys, like whoever's supposed to build his two new stadiums for him, you have to cover up pretty tight. With those guys, no blow will be too low. They send their rock-em sock-em robots (in this case Mayor Creepy and Fireman Randy) in there to fight as dirty as they can.

And so here it is, for the "citizen advisors" out in Lents: If you don't vote to spend $80 million in public money for Paulson's new palaces -- if you don't let him wreck your neighborhood park -- then you're voting the Portland Beavers out of Portland.

So not true. And if it is, I say, let 'em go. They've left before. Somebody always brings them back.

Another eBay score

One of the great innovations enabled by the internet is online shopping. Why pay retail for stuff like fancy pen refills or an odd-sized Melitta coffee cone? Somebody's trying to get rid of them for half price, or even better.

And the music! Mint copies of vinyl LPs that you never thought you'd see, in any condition. The more esoteric, the cheaper. Used CDs of this and that, at good prices if you're careful. Just watch out for the shipping charges -- some online sellers will work you over there.

We recently scored 31 fine blues CDs from a person in northern California who wanted to get rid of them in one box. $71.03. You do the math, but that's cheap. We just popped the first one in the slot -- "Little Walter -- His Best." And it is! Go, Walter.

On to Luther Allison next -- on the CD insert, it looks like he's playing a Stratocaster with his tongue!

Down the Shore, everything's all right

You might even get a job.

Not to bum you out or anything

But the happenings in Yekaterinburg don't look good to this guy.

Adams recall drive will wait 'til the 7th

Given the nearly impossible 90-day window for collecting signatures to recall Portland's creepy mayor, the group attempting to do just that announced over the weekend that it's waiting until July 7 to file the papers to start the clock running. Apparently, the time wasted while the bureaucrats fuss over the initial paperwork counts against the 90 days, and given the Fourth of July weekend and some sort of government employee furlough day on the 6th, the recall advocates have decided to wait a while to get the ball rolling. Sounds like a smart call.

Kobe won!

And we missed it -- paying work beckoned. Someone up there didn't want us spending the whole evening ranting against Kobe. Just as well. We've done enough of that already.

At least we'll congratulate him... more than some people would do.

Those are blogs that died, died

Tonight while digging around through some old papers in the newspaper rack, we came across this story about some of our former comrades who have left the blogosphere, for one reason or another.

Speaking of which, we see there's a new version of Oregon Media Insiders trying to take up the slack left by the first one. Good luck to that enterprise. [Via Preemptive Karma.]

We know about that time-to-give-up-blogging feeling. We even had it ourselves, once. But some people -- baby, we were born to blog.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Road trip, 2009

Oops -- post will return next Sunday

This morning I inadvertently posted my annual Father's Day photo. It seems I was a week early. This reminds me of the fact that these days I am on the receiving end, and no longer on the giving end, of that holiday. The dads of my youth are gone, and they are missed.

It also reminds me that I can never seem to remember which weekend Mother's Day or Father's Day falls on. This year we had Mother's Day on May 10 -- but Father's Day isn't until the 21st? Whatever. If you're a dad and you have a good day, any one will do.

It's Sunday

Praise the Lord.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Great Moments in American Corporate History

Hat's off to the SOB who came up with this one:

Getting to third base with our pristine Columbia Gorge

Aw, what the heck? If we're going to have the glare of a casino out there, why not also bring in Nestlé to bottle up all the water and sell it in L.A.?

I can't wait until the corporate boys come up with a way to sell this one as "green." Should be good for a belly laugh.

Before there was Google

There was this guy.

I didn't go to work, I told the boss I was sick

A Portland writer remembers a night long ago with Blue Cheer.

Monongahela maestros

Knowing nothing about hockey, the Mrs. and I nonetheless enjoyed watching a lightly Tivo-ed version of Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals last night. And the kids we were rooting for took the cup! Go Pens! (Or is it Guins? We're out of it.)

What a nerve-racking game ice hockey is. Huge, garbage-truck-sized guys, flying around way faster than they ever could on foot. It makes the pro football daddies look like they're standing still. And with modern TV -- at least the video resources that show up for a do-or-die championship game -- you get a better sense of it than I can ever remember. Marv Albert croaking out Ranger games from a six-team league out of my two-transistor radio back in high school -- it was never like this.

Even Muhammad Ali was there, albeit in a Red Wings jersey. In a luxury suite with Thomas "Hit Man" Hearns, no less. Great stuff. God bless Pittsburgh, and America.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Have a great weekend

Not up to code

A reader writes:

Believe it or not, the Lents stadium would not be required by the zoning code to have any parking at all. Because it is on a site "well served by transit" there is no minimum parking requirement. See city code 33.266.110(B)(3).

But for the sake of argument, if it were not exempt, how many spaces would be required for the use? The minimum parking standard for a "major event entertainment" use is one space for every eight seats. (City code 33.266, Table 266-2) All the spaces would need to be provided on-site; they can't count street spaces.

6500 seat stadium = 812 parking spaces
9000 seat stadium = 1125 parking spaces

Somehow, I don't think 360 spaces is going to cut it.

As we noted months ago, it's the parking, stupid.

It's the water

The Bob Pamplin-Shaniko brouhaha has made the pages of the Old Gray Lady.

Amanda tells it like it is

Portland city commissioner Amanda Fritz is still having no part of the proposal to blow big bucks and pave over half of Lents Park for the Paulson minor league baseball stadium. Her latest, well reasoned position paper, of which WW obtained a copy yesterday afternoon, is here.

Meanwhile, Fireman Randy won't let go of this harebrained idea -- truly Stennian in its foolishness. This morning's O brings us up to date on the R's reaction to the city's paid consultant's opinion, revealed here yesterday, that the new Lents stadium would be a spectacular dud. Hmmmm, let's see... consultant didn't tell Fireman Randy what he wanted to hear... will he admit he's wrong? If you don't already know the answer to that one, you can (a) go here and read all about it; (b) get a grip on yourself, or (c) all of the above.

Perhaps the craziest part of the whole goofy Lents proposal is the lack of parking. Fireman Randy promised only 200 parking spaces, and then upped it to 360 -- but for heaven's sake, people, there's no way that's going support the Portland Beavers on a game night. Especially if they expect to draw the many thousands it will take to pay off the bonds for the construction. Take a look at some of the comparable ballparks in which other minor league teams at the same level as the Beavers play, as shown in the consultant's report:

No wonder the league says there has to be 1,500 parking spaces -- it's the industry norm. But Portland's going to do it with 200? Or 360?

I'm sure Little Lord Paulson and his City Hall pals will tell you that Portland's different. Fans here don't need their cars -- they'll take the convenient, safe MAX trains back and forth to the game. East side MAX stations are such a pleasure late at night. Or they'll leave their car a half mile away at some satellite lot -- maybe a MAX park-and-ride lot. It just gets more and more preposterous -- Paulson now says he'll get an average of 6,000 fans a game actually in attendance at the Lents stadium, when he can't get 400 into PGE Park on many nights -- but the scam rolls on.

Speaking of which, Fritz objects vociferously to a key aspect of the deal, which we blogged about a while back: Paulson's already picked out a construction contractor, and the deal would be done on a no-bid basis. To Fritz, that leaves the public unprotected from wasteful spending. No kidding. This is horse-head-in-your-bed stuff.

Commissioner Dan Saltzman, the swing vote on the deal, is too busy to read the report until this weekend, apparently. Hey, it's only $70 million or so. The Rose City gets the government it deserves.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Forget killer bees

Try radioactive wasps.

OHSU biotech breakthrough -- worthless to Portland

There is no guarantee that if a blockbuster drug materialized, it would be manufactured and marketed in the same place it was developed and tested.

Joseph Cortright, an economist who has studied biotechnology clusters, gave the example of a promising anti-leukemia compound developed at Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland, where Mr. Cortright is based. "The economic impact in the Portland area is zero because the rights to manufacture and market this drug were owned already by Novartis," Mr. Cortright said.

But the race continues.

The whole thing is here.

Substitute the 'Couv for Bellevue...

... and the six things you can't say in Seattle will be verboten in Portland as well. But are there other, uniquely Portland, things you can't say? [Via Type Like the Wind.]

Breaking news: Bush had a brain

This study proves it.

Taibbi on Paulson genetics

What’s next? Public funding for a store selling French ribbed turtlenecks? Subsidy for a Belgian man-purse factory?
Matt, this is Portland. Please, please, please! Don't even say stuff like that.

"That doesn't happen here...

... o.k., at City Hall maybe..."

Study: Lents baseball stadium would draw crummy crowds

The foes of a new minor league baseball stadium in Lents Park in southeast Portland today released what they say is a study just prepared for the city by consultant HVS. It concludes:

In 2008, overall attendance in Portland (392,512) was 18 percent less than the average of all AAA teams (481,181). HVS compared overall annual attendance in 2008 with attendance in suburban stadiums and in newly built stadiums (opened after 2000). Suburban stadiums drew 10 percent less attendance than the overall average. New stadiums drew nearly 30 percent more attendees. The implication for a new stadium at Lents Park is that due to its suburban location, attendance may not increase as much as other new stadiums in urban locations....

The projected game day paid attendance of 3,222 at the proposed Portland ballpark is significantly below both the AAA average of 6,683 or the average of the suburban ballparks of 5,996 for 2008, but these average estimates include unpaid attendance.

If the Beavers will sell only 3,222 tickets per game in Lents, that is certainly far less than the attendance figures they themselves give for games at PGE Park. The team is reporting an average attendance of 4,398 for the season currently under way. As reported on this blog earlier this week, the custom in the minor leages is to report as "attendance" the number of tickets sold, according to league director Branch Rickey III.

Surprise, surprise

The American Medical Association doesn't want to expand Medicare from senior citizens to the general population.

While committed to the goal of affordable health insurance for all, the association had said in a general statement of principles that health services should be "provided through private markets, as they are currently."

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

More streetcars, worse bus service

Go together like a horse and carriage...

Yes, it does

When the little boy asked him, "Mr. President, does your hair feel like mine?" the leader of the free world invited him to feel for himself:

The guy is a rock star without even trying. He exudes hope.

Making the scene at the Copper Penny

The Lents Neighborhood Association is meeting there tomorrow evening -- and the folks calling themselves Friends of Lents Park, who oppose the proposed Paulson stadium in Lents Park, say they'll be showing up to speak their minds.

We're! Number! 5!

But it appears we'll gain a tie for top honors shortly.

Governor Ted doesn't like Paulson stadiums deal

The bill that would siphon state income taxes off "major league" soccer players' salaries to fund a new stadium for the Paulson family passed the Oregon House today, 33-26. But lo and behold, the governor may not sign it even if it gets through the Senate:

Anna Richter Taylor, the governor's spokeswoman, stopped short of using the word "veto."

The governor doesn't like the bill and won't sign it, she said.

Good enough for us. But how long before Little Lord Paulson sweet-talks him into it? Plus, don't understimate the charm of Fireman Pele and Mayor Creepy.

Meanwhile, now the poor souls on the Lents neighborhood advisory committee on "urban renewal" are getting their arms twisted by the Paulson people. What's next? Screwing around with the meeting schedule to coincide with the opponents' vacation plans?

Will new car tax break make any difference in Oregon?

The latest from our beloved IRS:

The Internal Revenue Service and Treasury Department today announced that a tax break for the purchase of new motor vehicles is available in states that do not have a state sales tax. Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, taxpayers who buy a new motor vehicle this year are entitled to deduct [on their federal income tax returns -- JB] state or local sales or excise taxes paid on the purchase.

The IRS and Treasury have determined that purchases made in states without a sales tax — such as Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Montana, New Hampshire and Oregon — can also qualify for the deduction.

The IRS said today that taxpayers who purchase a new motor vehicle in states that do not have state sales taxes are entitled to deduct other fees or taxes imposed by the state or local government. The fees or taxes that qualify must be assessed on the purchase of the vehicle and must be based on the vehicle’s sales price or as a per unit fee. According to the IRS, Congress intended for these fees or taxes to qualify for this special tax deduction.

Does Oregon even have any such fees or taxes? And if it does, are they much? Somebody out there in the car world, please advise.

That was fast

Tara Lipinski is 27 today.

Kroger supports recall

There's a detailed list of findings here.

Latest Lents Park stadium drawing: 360 parking spaces

Fireman Randy's blog has a new drawing of the Lents Park pro baseball stadium up, and it's got not one but two parking lots, with 360 parking places all told. That's an 80% increase over what the proponents of the Paulson Plan were promising a week or so ago, and 1,140 less than what the baseball minor league bigwigs want.

So many middle fingers are being flashed in so many different directions with this project now, it is not surprising that the parking number keeps moving, and that nobody's happy with it. About the only folks who aren't being told where to go are the folks at the U.S. soccer "major league," who have been shoving the people of Portland around for months now.

Anyway, the new sketch is interesting, to be sure. They're still acting as though you'll be able to use the Little League and soccer fields with hundreds (and on a good day or night, thousands) of baseball fans trudging through them on their way to the entrances, which will all be in the outfield, of the new stadium. The stadium capacity will be 9000, including suites and a sit-on-the-grass area in the outfield. The balls will be hit from the interior of the park out toward 92nd Avenue, which is where left field will be.

It's all going to be wonderful. And with this, the little guys out in Lents will finally earn everyone's respect, and the neighborhood will be revitalized. Uh huh.

What were they thinking?

Here's a little caption contest to get us over the hump of this week. Pictured are Fireman Randy Leonard and newly anointed Portland City Auditor LaVonne Griffin-Valade after her swearing-in yesterday. (And already she's making with the reports.)

Anyway, what were each of them thinking?

Now, please keep it light, clean, and safe for work...

Branch III and me, cont'd

Yesterday, as noted at the end of this post, we asked the director of minor league baseball's Pacific Coast League, Branch Rickey III, how the Portland Beavers team could claim "attendance" of 2440 at a game where clearly fewer than 400 spectators showed up. He wrote back, tersely: "Most frequently, throughout the minor leagues, the announced attendances reflect 'tickets sold.'"

We couldn't resist a followup e-mail: "Thanks, that may explain the mystery. Does anyone from the league ever check the published figures? It's hard to imagine 2000 no-shows on a nice night." To which he responded: "Candidly, attendance figures are of much less significance to a league office than are audited financial statements which demonstrate far more accurately the performance of a franchise. Attendance is a much less accurate reflection of that aspect of a team. Thanks for asking."

Well, golly, Mr. Rickey, you're welcome.

But he's got a good point, and it turns on the old idea light. There have to be audited financial statements running around for the Paulson Portland sports empire. And somebody at Portland City Hall must have them. It could be time for a public records request. Anyone out there got any advice or ideas about that?

Ethical Question of the Week

Is it animal abuse to throw a fish that's already dead? Does it matter if you're going to eat it?

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Portland's next fiasco

The guys who want to turn Portland's Rose Quarter into an "entertainment district" (read: Olive Garden, Hard Rock Cafe) continue to go over like a lead balloon in Kansas City, where they have one built and operating.


The cool kids told me they were watching ice hockey, not basketball, tonight. So at halftime of hoops, I switched over to the end of the hockey game. Glad I did -- an intense finish.

Big game tonight

Pizza this afternoon.

Reed as poster child

And the hard times are documented in the Times, no less.

Much better by day

After last night's abysmal turnout, the Portland Beavers are playing a day game today -- I believe it's one of their early starts in which they invite school kids and try to draw in businesspeople goofing off over a long lunch. Whatever the gimmick, it obviously puts a lot of fannies in the seats:

As for last night's announced attendance of 2,440, when there were fewer than 400 people actually in the stadium, we asked Branch Rickey III, director of the league in which the Beavers play, about that this morning. He tells us: "Most frequently, throughout the minor leagues, the announced attendances reflect 'tickets sold.'"

PDC salaries: nothing too fancy

Our survey of public employee salaries continues today with the Portland Development Commission, the city's "urban renewal" agency. They do well over there -- but not nearly as well as at places like Tri-Met and the Port, which partially explains the absence of Goldschmidt cronies from the executive ranks at the PDC.

Anyway, our figures are supplied to us by the PDC, whom we asked for a list of all those employees making more than $100,000. According to what was sent us by Frederick Davis-Brown, PDC legal assistant, for the year ended May 31, 2009, there were 27 people whose gross pay exceeded that amount. At the top was Bruce Warner (right), the PDC executive director, at $177,809. Behind him was Erin Flynn, urban development director, at $149,178; and Julie Cody, chief financial officer, at $138,560.

In all, there were seven execs making more than $125,000. The average employee in the top 20 made $123,929. Here is the rest of the top 10:

John JackleyComm & Business Equity Dir$135,404
Sandy ReinaHuman Resources Director$133,770
David ElottDeputy General Counsel$129,300
Lewis BowersCentral City Division Manager$128,106
Byron EstesNeighborhood Division Mgr$124,110
Stanley AllenSr Development Advisor$122,190
Robert AlexanderSr Projects Manager$120,372

The whole list is here.

There are many questions that could be raised about the PDC, but the salaries paid to the folks at the top of the agency aren't among them. By comparison, the real money is at places like Tri-Met and the Port.

Are strippers "independent contractors"?

Most club owners say they are. But some of the performers say they aren't.


A place we may have to visit some day.

Reader poll: Who's worse, Adams or Leonard?

Lately, in my mind, it's gotten to be a tossup. Honestly:

Who's worse for Portland?
Sam Adams
Randy Leonard
pollcode.com free polls

Before Henry Merritt and Charles Randy's New York honeymoon

Back in the days before he realized that he could take Portland taxpayers for a ride because its City Council is so dopey, Little Lord Paulson used to sing the praises of PGE Park as a perfectly wonderful place to play baseball. Local troublemaker Peter Apanel, who's done some homework on this, writes:

My favorite Paulson quote is from the Biz of Baseball website, which posted a lengthy Q&A with Paulson, dated August 14, 2007. When asked about the pros and cons of playing in PGE Park, including the greater-than-average seating capacity, Paulson replied, "Far more benefits than negatives. I mean, most teams would kill for a downtown location like this in a city as big as Portland."

Then in The Oregonian, on April 15, Paulson had an op-ed piece that described PGE Park as poorly designed for baseball. Paulson wrote, "Regrettably, most of the seats are too far from the field to create the kind of intimate, close-to-the-action experience fans want."

A few days later, I sent an e-mail to Galen Barnett, the online op-ed editor for The Oregonian, with two diagrams of Fenway Park from a 1961 baseball guidebook, which show that PGE Park is a virtual clone of Fenway Park. Barnett posted those diagrams around April 21....

Then there is the matter of the park's suitability, in its current configuration, for soccer. Apanel continues:
PGE Park's official website is also a great source for quotes.

On June 12, 2003, a press release on PGE Park's website said, "PGE Park is regarded as one of the premier soccer venues in the country." It went on to describe PGE Park as a "world-class" venue, the first stadium to ever be chosen by FIFA to host matches in consecutive FIFA World Cup events (the 1999 and 2003 FIFA Women's World Cup).

Apparently a world-class FIFA venue isn't good enough for MLS.

PGE Park's website also boasts about its staff's ability to quickly convert the stadium from one sport to another. In the case of baseball to football, the conversion has taken as little as three hours. Meanwhile, in [MLS commissioner] Garber's letter to [city commissioner] Saltzman, Garber writes, "There is no cost-effective method to convert from baseball to soccer that provides a professional quality field."

On the conversion point, Apanel offers this:

Paulson wants seating for soccer at field level in the east end of the stadium, which is the only substantive issue standing between the Timbers and Beavers continuing to share PGE Park. One interesting point to note is that a soccer field is up to 80 feet wider than a football field, so the distance between the far sideline for soccer and the left field fence is actually far shorter than most people imagine. (If you look up PGE Park on Yahoo Maps, then click on the satellite image, the photo they use happens to show the overlapping outlines for baseball, football, and soccer.) So, it would be fairly easy to come up with a plan to have removable seats that could be set up for soccer, and then removed for baseball. As an example of what's possible, look at the Rose Garden, where the first 10 rows all the way around the arena are removable. And keep in mind that even with overlapping baseball and soccer schedules, there would only be 10 times each season when those seats would have to be changed out. That's nothing compared to what a major touring rock band goes through on a nightly basis. And then, after the end of baseball season, those seats could be left up for PSU football games.

And on and on it goes, when you start vetting Paulson's and Garber's claims. I've been looking for a polite word that means "bulls**t," and the best word I've come up with so far is "specious," which Webster's Dictionary defines as something without merit.

Ah, but not without Merritt.

Ginny B. votes with the corporations

Not that that's news...

Monday, June 8, 2009

Yet another big night for baseball

Pretty nice weather, but our spies tell us there were about 300 people at PGE Park to watch the Portland Beavers:

The official "attendance" will probably be in the 1500 range, but come on. This is the economic engine that's worth spending $60 million or so of tax dollars on? This crowd is going to help the economy out in the Lents neighborhood -- so much so that it's worth sacrificing half of Lents Park for it? Dubious in the extreme.

UPDATE, 10:26 p.m.: What you are looking at in that photo, folks, is official "attendance" of 2,440! Wow. This is what normal people call fraud.

Oil and water

Safeway and the Pearl District (see page 8).

Another great Sam-Rand moment for Portland

Sorry, folks, we've closed your local police precinct. Haven't you heard? There's a recession on -- we're out of money! Besides, we are very tapped from the transit mall rip-up, poodle poop park in SoWhat, Convention Center hotel, and two new bush league stadiums. So busy. Oh, well. Go by streetcar! [Via WW.]

Scofflaws exposed

Here are some light-rail commuters who aren't paying their fares.

It's true what they say

In Portland, nothing succeeds like failure. Can't wait 'til we replicate this with another huge one over by the Convention Center. The timing couldn't be better.

They're blunt over there

Here's a rather direct pitch to be excused from jury duty, as filed in Belgrade, Montana.

Where the Hummer came from

The inspiration came right here in Oregon. As Johnny used to say, "I did not know that."

What will happens when Beavers, Timbers play on same night?

KATU had some good material on the Paulson stadiums deal late last week. One item posted there was a letter from the "commissioner" of "major league" soccer to Portland city commissioner Dan "Profiles in Courage" Saltzman, saying that unless the Beavers baseball team is built a new home so that it can move out of PGE Park, "major league" soccer won't come to Portland.

One of the reasons he gave was that there would be a need to schedule baseball and soccer on some of the same nights:

Is he kidding? They're going to schedule a Beavers game that conflicts with a Timbers game? Won't that hurt attendance at one place or the other? At the moment, 25 games into the season, the Beavers are drawing a big 4400 a game (official, lying "attendance"), and five games into the season, the current version of the Timbers is showing around 7700. If the new, "major league" Timbers pull in several thousand additional fans, how many of them are folks that might otherwise be taking in a Beavers game?

And even if the games are on different nights, how much revenue will the one team draw away from the other? Some fans' budgets might force them to choose between the two.

On another front, a reader sends along this report, which he painstakingly prepared, on minor league baseball stadiums in other cities.


It was a big weekend in our fish tank. Another couple of dozen guppies showed up:

Having been through the same drill three weeks ago, we now have two nurseries going outside the main habitat:

The bigger fry (upper right) will be joining their proud parents pretty soon.

Sweet nothings from the Goldschmidt people

We got our bill from the gas company the other day. The much ballyhooed refund was on there, but it wasn't as much as the newspaper stories had led us to believe it would be. And those crafty devils at NW Natural had the nerve to offset it partially by charging us something called an "income tax true-up." Something about their 2007 taxes. Whatever, fellas.

Then we open the paper and see what they're spending our hard-earned money on. No wonder we love them so much.

Reader poll: Who's doing better, Fish or Fritz?

The two newbies on the Portland City Council have had a while to settle into their new positions. Which one's doing a better job so far?

Who's off to a better start as a Portland city commissioner?
Nick Fish
Amanda Fritz
It's a tie
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The new Cuba crisis

Missiles? Blockades? I feel like I'm back in fifth grade.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Credit where credit is due

Thanks to everybody at the University of Chicago for making this nation great.

Missing the (electric) boat

If Portland's going to be the hub the new "green economy" -- and not just a busting place, the way it has been with biotechnology and the "creative class" -- then how come we're not getting one of these stores?

Guess we're too busy figuring out reasons to cut down the trees in our parks.

Shock and awe

As an alumnus of a big-bucks law firm, I watch in amazement.

"The mother of all head fakes"

The stock market seems to think that less bad equals good. Not everyone agrees.

You can hear 'em in the back room strummin'

Somebody's urging that the proposed Gerding Edlen San Diego City Hall tower scheme be put up for a public vote down there. Can you imagine? A public vote on a "public-private" real estate "partnership." We Portlanders certainly have to wonder what that would be like.

New newsie hangout

In response to the demise of the blog Oregon Media Insiders, a Portland news type has started this bulletin board.

Saturday, June 6, 2009

A decade of planning, ripped out by the roots

The trashing of the Lents urban renewal plan for the Paulson minor league baseball stadium is going go be profound, as this document -- prepared the other day by the Portland Development Commission itself -- illustrates.

It's not just Lents Park that's going to be mutilated beyond recognition.

More citizen involvement abuse

This time at Metro. Volunteer board members are entitled to their opinions -- as long as they tell the paid politicians what they want to hear.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Shining star

Here's someone to admire.

Have a great weekend

Saltzman's in on Paulson stadiums deal

Here from WW is an interesting statement from the guy at the front door at the Palace of the Wizard of Saltzman. It's a big, bad list of conditions to his voting yes on the Paulson stadiums deal.

They'll all be satisfied one way or another.

I love the part about the Lents "urban renewal advisory committee" having to approve the deal. That's your citizen input du jour, folks. Big Pipe Dan wouldn't be stipulating that one if he didn't know how it was going to come out. The chair of that committee, Cora Potter, has been vocally advocating for the stadium in Lents Park for months.

Another funny thing is that he's limiting the paving-over of part of the park for parking to 200 vehicles. That one's Fireman Randy's goofy idea. When 1,000 or 2,000 cars descend upon the area on game night and the parking lot holds only 200, where are the rest going to park, and how does that impact the neighborhood? Certainly not favorably.

Oh, and the city's consultants on the deal have to sign off on it. That's rich. Like the last ones, who told us a few years back that borrowing $30 million to fix up PGE Park would be a dynamite investment? And now $28 million of that debt will have to be paid off by city taxpayers -- Paulson's rent and ticket tax dollars will all go to paying off the $70 million or so of new debt.

Hold onto your wallets, folks. The deal is done. Start the chain saws. The siphoning of more tens of millions of tax dollars for worthless toys, and the destruction of Lents Park and the surrounding neighborhood, are about to begin. Go by streetcar!

It's not the same

I miss the duct tape.

Keeping their eyes on the till

Now here are a couple of cities who have their priorities straight when it comes to spending public money on professional sports.

Leave the Beavers -- move the Timbers?

So many Portlanders are concerned about the plan to blow $85 million to tear up PGE Park yet again and pave over half or more of Lents Park -- all to enable upgrading the Portland Timbers soccer team to a "major league" (by U.S. standards) level. At least one resident has been suggesting for a few weeks now that it would cheaper to build a new soccer-specific stadium for the Timbers somewhere -- say, at the Expo Center -- and leave the Beavers minor league baseball team in PGE Park, which is still about $28 million in hock from a recent renovation.

The resident, Peter Apanel, recently wrote the Portland City Council as follows:

This is a follow-up to the email I sent last week to everyone on the city council, in which I shared information that has recently surfaced about Saputo Stadium in Montreal, a brand new soccer-specific stadium that was completed one year ago, at a cost of less than $13 million in U.S. dollars.

As you all know, the city has been told by Merritt Paulson that the cost to build a soccer-specific stadium averages $120 million, which has been the reason given for not pursuing that option. So, the news about Saputo Stadium clearly gives the city options that haven't been considered up until now.

And, more important, this information about Saputo Stadium clearly trumps any argument for continuing to pursue the current plan to renovate PGE Park and build a new minor league baseball stadium.

Here, again, are the basic details.

Saputo Stadium (in French: Stade Saputo) is a soccer-specific stadium that is the home of the Montreal Impact soccer team, which plays in the same USL division as the Portland Timbers. Saputo Stadium opened in May, 2008. Its capacity is 13,000, with individual seats, not benches. It has 16 corporate boxes, and a giant screen TV. And the playing surface is natural grass.

Major League Soccer has already approved Saputo Stadium for future use as an MLS venue, and plans are being drawn up to expand its capacity to 21,000, if Montreal is granted an MLS franchise.

And, again, the cost to build Saputo Stadium was less than $13 million in U.S. dollars. All of this was privately financed, so there was a natural incentive to keep costs low.

With construction costs in Montreal working out to $1,000 per seat, it's reasonable to assume that a comparable, 20,000-seat stadium could be built here in Portland for around $20 million.

So, why not simply build a carbon copy of Saputo Stadium, instead of spending an estimated $85 million to renovate PGE Park and build a new minor league baseball stadium?

Compared to the current plan, this new plan would cost the city at least $65 million less, while resulting in a soccer-specific stadium that would be superior to a renovated PGE Park. And when you factor in the money that Merritt Paulson has already pledged toward the current plan, the city's costs could be lowered even further.

The only decision that would be left to make is deciding where to locate the soccer stadium -- Lents, the Expo Center, or somewhere else. Has anyone considered Cascade Station? With a rectangular footprint, finding a suitable site would be easier for a soccer stadium, as opposed to a baseball stadium. So, I wonder if a soccer stadium could be squeezed into the Rose Quarter without having to tear down Memorial Coliseum?

Whatever site is chosen, it would be a win-win situation for everyone, compared to the current plan.

And it's not too late to make all of this happen. Saputo Stadium was built in just 13 months, so there's plenty of time to be ready for opening day in March 2011.

I've attached a one-page PDF with illustrations of Saputo Stadium. The official website for Saputo Stadium is www.impactmontreal.com/tickets/stade.aspx.

Thank you.

This reportedly prompted Merritt Paulson to respond as follows:

Fyi - Saputo Stadium well more than 13M (most estimate $60M) and they are currently raising $25M in 100% public money to expand it to MLS standards
Sent using BlackBerry
To which City Commissioner Amanda Fritz reportedly wrote:
Dear Mr. Paulson,

My staff has been unable to find documentation on the internet that indicates that Saputo Stadium cost more than $15 million to build, entirely funded with private funds. Perhaps you are thinking of the Toronto stadium which cost more than $60 million to build? If you have information that counters the public information that is available, I would appreciate seeing it.

One year ago the expansion was expected to cost $12 million. Now Saputo is seeking $25 million in public funds to upgrade the stadium. Please explain the doubling of the cost in one year, if you know the causes.

Paulson reportedly replied:

Commissioner Fritz:

The initial build out of Saputo Stadium was not documented publicly and was not part of a public process. The family has, indeed reported a $15M project cost. People I have spoken with indicate that the $15M was one portion of the cost and that significant savings were also realized on the project due to existing infrastructure. I am not questioning the integrity of the family and the $15M likely makes sense in context, but no new technology was implemented in their construction process. One good source in the soccer world has indicated to me personally that the project cost over $60M in total, but that is not verifiable.

It is important to note that MLS has NOT approved Saputo Stadium for MLS play and the Saputo family is currently seeking public money to expand the facility. As to why the increase, you would need to ask them.

What is public and documented is the cost of every MLS approved soccer-specific stadium built to date. By far the least expensive is Toronto, which I believe (just by memory) was around $65M. It is ultra no frills, was built several years ago and is already being considered for some additional build out work. Every other MLS soccer-specific venue has cost ~ $100M in today’s dollars.

Apanel then wrote:

Here is some interesting information for members of the city council to note.

The Montreal Impact soccer team is a non-profit organization. Its three main partners are the Saputo food corporation, the Government of Quebec, and Hydro-Quebec (a government-owned public utility). And Saputo Stadium is set up as a non-profit organization that is operated by Montreal Impact.

So, it seems logical to assume that there are public records and government sources which can confirm the actual cost to build Saputo Stadium.

Although the idea of a no-frills, soccer-only stadium somewhere out toward the Columbia River or the airport is a good one, an even better concept leaps out of this exchange -- a nonprofit team!

For the $75 million or more that the state and city are being asked to put up, they could condemn the Timbers and their "major league" franchise, buy some relatively cheap portable bleachers for soccer at PGE, and have money left over to cut the price of popcorn in the stands. We could be the Green Bay of "major league" soccer! Lents Park is saved, the Timbers fans get their player quality upgrade, and the taxpayers get off cheap and wind up owning the team to boot. The Paulsons get their money back from soccer, and figure out whether they really want baseball, or anything else in Portland for that matter. High fives all around (or whatever they do in soccer).

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Not pictured

Here's an interesting puff piece from the City of Portland -- a p.r. brochure from the City Council. I don't remember seeing this one before.

Lots of pictures of Fish, Fritz and Saltzman. A few of the mayor, but hey -- no photo of Leonard. Plus, the Fireman's big contribution: "I'm still streamlining the permit process for builders." Odd.

Verizon wins again

I see that the bill to ban cell phone use while driving is dying in the Oregon Senate. Ginny Burdick and crew -- bought and paid for?

Dorothy! Dorothy!

From the looks of things, it could be a rough evening.

Lents Park deed restriction: The plot thickens (or thins, perhaps)

We've done some more research into that deed restriction whereby Multnomah County, in deeding over Lents Park to the City of Portland in 1913, restricted the land's use to a "public park or playground." As an alert reader points out today, that deed did not cover the land on which Walker Stadium is currently sited. In fact, it appears to cover only the far southeast corner of the park, which the stadium arguably would not change from park use (depending on where the large parking lot goes).

We quoted the deed restriction in this post yesterday. But now here's the description of the land that the deed covers:

If you dig out the county tax maps, it does appear that this is the southeast corner of the current park -- only 5.33 acres out of the much larger park. We are not expert in land surveying, but as best we can tell, the original county land is shown here:

(Stadium area not to scale, but it will be in this general vicinity -- not counting the parking lot!)

It's not clear to us at this point how the city acquired the rest of the land for the park. Who knows? There could be restrictions in those other deeds as well. But as far as the one our reader dug up earlier this week goes -- the foes of the Paulson stadium in Lents Park had better not rely on it too heavily.

In the meantime, if anyone out there with the appropriate expertise sees that we've got the mapping wrong, please let us know.

Oregon Media Insiders may fold

The social toll of blogging in a town that isn't all that big has led Lynn Siprelle to announce that she's closing her blog, Oregon Media Insiders, effective tomorrow. This site has been a big draw for broadcast media types -- particularly the TV news set -- and its departure is likely to be greatly lamented.

I suspect the site may linger a bit beyond tomorrow -- there are some paid ads on it that deserve to stay up until their run is completed -- but it definitely sounds as though a death knell has been sounded over there. Too bad.

When I was a newspaper guy many years ago, I lost some friends because of what I wrote. But in those days, I could say, "I was just doing my job." Blogging is different. If you're not making a living off it, the content of your blog is seen as much more your own personal statement -- after all, you don't have to blog about anything if you don't want to. You therefore take on much more personal responsibility for content than if you were a beat reporter in a daily news medium. And the social pressures are therefore much more personal. When people talk about how blogs are going to replace the mainstream media, that is one of the many, many differences they're not seeing.

Funky math with Mark Larabee

Oregonian reporter Mark Larabee doesn't read this blog, or perhaps he lacks good reading comprehension. He keeps writing that the current Paulson stadiums proposal involves having the city take on a $51 million share of project costs. Apparently by this he's counting only the $42.3 million in urban renewal bonds and $8.7 million in Spectator Facilities Fund monies going into the deal.

Larabee neglects to take into account in any way the 18-year rent and tax holiday that the Paulson sports teams would get after the two new stadiums are built and are operated for seven years. In Larabee's world, that does not amount to a city contribution or liability worth counting, at all. But in the real world, the Paulsons are valuing it at approximately $17.5 million. It's essentially money that the city will be borrowing from the Paulsons, and paying back with free rent and tax forgiveness in future years. Think of it this way: If the city didn't give the Paulsons the rent and tax holiday, the Paulsons would put up $17.5 million less. It's really just a construction loan taken out by the city from you-know-who.

Larabee also does not take into account the fact that the plan calls for $4 million of tax-exempt bonds that the city would issue if the Paulsons can find a lawyer to say the bonds are legal. If you add that, plus the value of the rent and tax holiday to the city's contribution, we're up to $72.5 million from the city.

Larabee also neglects to mention the estimated $5 million in state income taxes that would be turned over to pay the stadiums' construction bonds. If that comes through, it could bring the public contribution to the stadium construction up to $77.5 million. Even without the tax-exempt bonds and the state funding, we're up to $68.5 million in public money.

The whole construction budget, at least at the current lying stage of things, is $85 million. By this math, Paulson could get out as cheaply as $7.5 million into the buildings.

If the costs overrun the budget, the deal calls for the Paulsons to pay the overruns. But anyone who makes such a guarantee will want control over the construction. How the city could legally turn that control over to a private party remains to be seen.

But hey, in the meantime, let's get the numbers straight. The city's real contribution to the stadiums' construction will be more than $51 million -- far more.

You know it's bad

Farewell to McCormick & Schmick in downtown Portland. Many a memory there.

First things first

It's great that our congressional representatives stay focused on matters of national importance.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Saltzman looking for easy way out on Paulson stadiums?

KXL Radio is reporting a couple of interesting things this afternoon on the infamous Paulson stadiums deal. First, as our reader correctly noted yesterday, the deed by which Lents Park was conveyed by Multnomah County to the City of Portland on April 9, 1913 does indeed specifically state that the land "and every part and parcel thereof" must be "used and occupied exclusively for public park or playground purposes." If any part of the park is ever used for any other purpose, the deed says that the entire park reverts to the county. And the county commissioners have already spoken loudly and clearly about the Paulson deal -- they'd rather not be involved.

Second, the station is reporting that city Commissioner Dan "Big Pipe" Saltzman, the swing vote on the plan to rip out a huge swath of the existing park for a professional minor league baseball stadium, has asked the city attorney, Linda Meng, for a formal opinion on whether the deed condition would be violated by the proposed new pro baseball stadium. Reportedly Saltzman is requesting that this legal opinion be issued before he casts his vote.

What this indicates to us is that Saltzman wants the plan to go down, but without his having to vote no on it. Let's hope the city attorney doesn't ruin her own reputation by issuing a preposterous opinion that Beavers Stadium, a highly commercialized facility that would charge admission and sell alcoholic beverages (among other items) at a huge markup, is somehow a "public park or playground." If she tells Saltzman it's illegal, Lents exits the Paulson equation.

But if she does somehow rule that the legal condition in the deed won't be violated (or that it's invalid), here for Saltzman's consideration is another suggestion of an easy way out: Dan, just say that you'll vote for the stadiums only if the complete plan, including the financing, is placed before the voters in a citywide election. There -- you haven't voted no, but you've killed the deal. Because guess what. Many people in Portland are waking up.

UPDATE, 6/4, 3:24 p.m.: This deed covers only a small portion of the park -- and not the part on which the stadium would be situated. See our newer post here.

The 411 on 458

It appears from this phone bill insert that the folks in the 541 area code will soon be joining us in dialing 10 digits to call across the street:

How much did we just spend on Lents Park Little League?

While we consider ripping up much of Lents Park for a new minor league baseball stadium, we ought to ponder how much time and money went into improvements to the park for Little League baseball. There were nearly three years of meetings and neighbor involvement sessions before the Portland Development Commission and the city Parks Bureau voted to upgrade two fields in the park, thus getting Little League off its old diamond at 92nd and Harold:

It took more than another year to go through all the land use red tape needed to refurbish the two fields, create a new tee-ball area, and set up a couple of scoreboards for the kids. The new fields were dedicated, with much hoopla, less than two months ago.

The Little Leaguers were promised, "Here is your new home for the next 50 years." If the Paulson stadiums deal goes through, both of the new fields would be badly impacted, if not replaced, by the new Beavers baseball stadium.

The one concept drawing of the Beavers facility shows the Little League fields still there, but if there were thousands of people attending a Beavers game, it seems extremely unlikely that games could be played on the fields at the same time. (For one thing, there'd be no place for the parents to park.) An adjacent football field would certainly be paved over, and Walker Stadium, which is used for baseball by numerous amateur groups, would be torn down.

A person who was very close to the Little League field project reminds us, "When PDC looked to find a suitable alternative to Lents Park for the Lents Little League... a very involved process... my recollection is that there were no good alternatives."

What's the buzz?

I have missed it, but my neighbors here in inner northeast Portland have been asking me why that small plane has been circling over our houses for the last couple of days. No doubt another Big Brother project. Anyone out there know what it's about?

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Lents Park on a late spring evening: beautiful

We've written quite a bit lately about what a stinker the Paulson stadiums deal is from a Portland taxpayer's financial point of view. What we haven't said too much about is how the proposal shapes up from a non-monetary perspective. And so on the way home from the mechanic today, we took a little detour by Lents Park, site of the proposed new minor league baseball stadium, to see what was going on there. It turns out, there was quite a bit.

Although it was dinner hour when we arrived, there were hundreds of everyday people of all ages, and a few dogs, taking advantage of the park. Pickup basketball was in full effect. The playing fields looked great. We saw one Little League game, and another Little League practice, in progress. Over in Walker Stadium, on the east side of the park, Gresham and Reynolds were going at it in what was not shaping up as a pitchers' duel. The concession stand was open for business. The parents and coaches of the players were urging them on, the way elders do. The electric scoreboard was functioning fine.

Contrary to what Dwight Jaynes will tell you, Lents Park is not a rundown place full of crime and discarded hypodermic needles. And contrary to what Cora Potter will tell you, Walker Stadium is not a condemned wreck. There are some wooden bleachers that need replacement behind home plate, and I'm sure there are some other deferred maintenance items courtesy of the Portland parks bureau. But on the first and third base sides are nice, fairly new aluminum stands that are holding up extremely well. Overall, the stadium is quite good for what it is. And for just a fraction of the tens of millions that are being earmarked for minor league sports, it could be polished into a real gem.

One nice feature of the stadium is a row of mature trees that curves around just outside the length of the outfield fence. Now, there's a signature feature of a Portland park -- an aesthetically pleasing, green touch, far beyond the ordinary. It was planned, built, and maintained with care, for everyone to enjoy. Those were the days.

To rip out those trees, Walker Stadium, and a goodly portion of this park; to replace them with a glaring, loud professional minor league baseball stadium, with a large parking lot; to do so at breathtaking public expense and at the behest of some rich guy Republican who just moved in from New York (to Lake Oswego) -- well, that's a real sacrilege. It goes against all the progressivity and livability that Portland supposedly stands for. To bring in thousands of outsiders and their cars to Lents Park for the bright lights and unavoidable noise of Thursday drunken beer nights with the Beavers is an insult not only to the regular Janes and Joes who use the park, but to every Portlander.

That we're even talking about this is a sorry reflection on our city.

Somebody commented on this blog today that when the county deeded over the Lents Park land to the city nearly a century ago, it was on the condition that the property be used only as a public park. We can't imagine that a high-impact, patently commercial facility such as the new Beavers stadium -- with for-profit alcohol sales on top of everything else -- could be shoe-horned into what the drafters of that condition meant by a public park. The people behind that land donation are probably rolling over in their graves right now. Let's hope the safeguards they put in place are strong enough to fight off the Bush people and their money.

America 2009

So here I am in the car dealership, waiting for service on my vehicle to be finished, when over the Muzak comes James Brown doing "Please Please Please." Is this supposed to sell new cars? "I just wanna say I -- I, I, I, I..." Meanwhile an elderly lady is asking the sales guy about a hybrid Civic. Then out of the body shop rolls a '63 Chevy Impala Super Sports.

Nobody here is going by streetcar.

Stimulus galore

Just in time for Rose Festival, here's some downtown Portland economic news that has readers buzzing. I believe it's going to be down around where the old Aldo's Restaurant was. Just a block from light rail!

Still at it

More Wyden-union porn in the mailbox today:

Beau Breedlove: "Mexico with Sam"?

Wouldn't that be something?

New smoke and mirrors on Paulson stadiums deal

According to this morning's O, a new financial deal has been worked out for building a new minor league baseball stadium in Lents Park and remodeling PGE Park for "major league" (by U.S. standards) soccer. The total construction tab at this latest liars' budget stage is now $85 million.

The O story pulls out all the stops to make Little Lord Paulson, owner of the sports teams, look good, and to put the screws to City Commissioner Dan Saltzman, who's doing his usual hemming and hawing act before committing to another financial fiasco reminiscent of the OHSU aerial tram. The threat to move the Beavers baseball team out of town is now out front and center, just as OHSU's threats to move to Hillsboro greased the skids for the tram. (Then they actually moved to Florida.) Saltzman will give in again -- he always does.

The way the O describes who's paying for what in the new financial deal would be puzzling if it weren't infuriating. The way they throw the numbers around is awfully misleading -- an apparent case of journalistic malpractice, actually.

According to the story, the city puts up $51 million while Paulson puts up $69 million. That assertion is outrageous. Back up with me, folks. Let's add up the public money in the deal. Start with the amounts that no one in their right mind would consider anything else but taxpayers' contributions:

Spectator Facilities Fund and reserve account$8.7 million
Urban renewal dollars$42 million
State taxes on players' salaries$5 million
Tax-exempt bonds$4 million
Total$59.7 million
You can call it city money, you can call it state money, you can call it a ham sandwich if you like. But of that $59.7 million, none of it is Paulson money.

Resolving every doubt in his favor, therefore, Paulson's contribution to the cash needed for the construction is around $25.3 million. He also pays $35 million for the "major league" soccer franchise, but of course, that franchise is his property, he's already committed to buy it, and the city's taxpayers will never get any value out of it.

So let's take a look at that $25.3 million chip-in. It's interesting. Paulson will prepay $17.5 million of rent and taxes up front, but after seven years of operating the new stadiums, he'll get an 18-year rent and tax holiday:

Instead of paying rent and a 7 percent ticket tax for 25 years to cover city-backed loans, Paulson would make rent and ticket tax payments for the first seven years. He would also immediately put $17.5 million in cash into the construction projects, which would be applied to his rent and ticket taxes for years eight through 25.
Rent- and tax-free use of two major city facilities for 18 years? Wow. And so is that $17.5 million of cash he's going to put up really a contribution to the construction, or just a loan? And when he isn't paying rent or taxes starting in year 8, what's going to pay off the $50 million to $60 million of city bonds that are going to be sold on Wall Street? The sudden surge in property values in Lents? Give us a break.

The O also counts as a Paulson contribution $5 million that he says he'll get the state to pay. If the state won't pay, Paulson says he will -- but if the state does pay, how is that a Paulson contribution?

Regardless of the spin coming from the city's troubled daily newspaper, Paulson is not putting $69 million into the stadiums deal -- at least not the way today's story describes it. By a much more reasonable count, he's putting up $7.5 million cash, lending the city $17.5 million, betting that he can squeeze $5 million of stimulus money out of Salem, and perhaps agreeing to pay construction cost overruns (in exchange for which he will no doubt run the construction).

Other than that, he's buying a "major league" soccer franchise for $35 million, on which he thinks he and his dad are going to make a killing. As Art Linkletter used to tell us, kids say the darnedest things.

He's good enough, he's smart enough...

... but doggone it, Al Franken still doesn't get to vote in the U.S. Senate.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Cheney admits Saddam-9/11 link was bunk

"But it was great that we shed all that blood. And the torture has also been the right thing to do. Arrrgh!" Keep talking, Dick. We liberals need you.

Forestry Commission on Lents stadium: Please don't

They heard that 177 mature trees would be coming down. Even at half that number, it would be a disaster. "These are public trees owned by everyone and managed for the public good." Amen, folks, but you're dealing with Fireman Randy -- good luck with that. The whole thing is here.

Did Chávez Boulevard group submit enough signatures?

The neighbors who oppose the renaming of East 39th Avenue say it didn't -- or at least, that the city broke the rules in checking whether it did.

Would you like a Caesar salad with that?

What's up with the Portland Water Bureau? First they take charge of putting a neon sign in a city park -- I thought that was the Parks Bureau's domain. Now they're teaching us bike safety -- I thought that was the Transportation Bureau's domain.

Some people don't know how to do their own jobs and let others do their own, too.

Lents stadium foes to meet Wednesday night

This just in:

Friends of Lents Park to hold meeting Wednesday

Friends of Lents Park, a grassroots organization of Lents area residents seeking to save Lents Park as an open, accessible neighborhood asset 365 nights a year, will meet Wednesday, June 3, to discuss its opposition to a plan to close parts of the park.

The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the gazebo at Lents Park, which would have to be moved to make way for the risky 9,000-seat stadium planned for the Portland Beavers.

Construction of a stadium could cost the Lents Urban Renewal Area about $42 million, money which would otherwise be spent on developing new businesses in the neighborhood, and making home ownership more affordable for prospective Lents residents.

At the same time, a stadium would make parts of Lents Park inaccessible on 72 game nights a year. Neighbors of the park would no longer see children playing baseball outside their windows, instead being forced to look at stadium spotlights and listen to public address announcements lasting well past 10 p.m.

"While a stadium is being pitched as a panacea for development in Lents, history has shown that minor league stadiums outside of downtown areas do not spur development," said Nick Christensen, a Lents resident and group member. "The stadium plan is based on too many suppositions and too much risk to Lents residents, while Merritt Paulson has little-to-nothing invested in the economic growth of the neighborhood around Lents Park."

Lents Park is a 38-acre green gem in the heart of Lents. It features walking paths, playgrounds, baseball diamonds, soccer fields, basketball courts and a community garden — all of which are teeming with activity most days of the week. It also has hundreds of old trees, many of which would be cut down for construction of a stadium.

Friends of Lents Park
Contact: Nick Christensen, lentspark@gmail.com

Company time-waster

A friend sends along a link to a most absorbing website.

"Everyman Paulson might leave if he doesn't get his way"

I see that John Canzano, America's greatest sports columnist (at least in some people's minds), has joined the Merritt Paulson royal fan club. Canzano went out to the Paulson compound in Lake Oswego for a visit, and based on that encounter has pronounced LLP just a "regular guy."

He walks around the house barefoot! He gives his infant child playful "raspberries"! "My dad drove a Ford Bronco; he was always out back, splitting wood in the yard. My mom drove a Volkswagen; always had dirt in her hands, and loved to plant things." The butler made us cut our own veal. The nannies used scratchy toilet paper. I had to wear hand-me-down Brooks Brothers smoking jackets at Harvard. These Bruno Magli's are from Nordstrom Rack! Poor, misunderstood fellow. Uh huh.

Last night Canzano (a Beaverton resident, I believe) was on KGW-TV telling us that if the City of Portland doesn't hurry up and give Roman Numeral III what he wants, he might -- gasp! -- pull his minor league baseball team, the Portland Beavers, out of town! He might move it to Beaverton! Or Vancouver!

Let him go. It would make more sense financially to forgo the Beavers' anemic rent checks than to sign up for another $80 million to $100 million of public debt to build two more goofball stadiums for minor league baseball and U.S. pro soccer. (Money borrowed from Paulson's father's cronies, to boot.)

And gee, where have we heard this kind of threat before? Wasn't somebody going to move their operation to the distant west side if they didn't get their aerial tram [rim shot]? That sure worked out well for Portland.

If the Beavers leave town, maybe single-A short-season minor league ball will come back. Hard to tell the difference between that and what we have now -- except for the arrogance factor. Nobody goes to baseball games here until the weather warms up anyway. Bring back the Portland Rockies -- they were fine.

You can line up all the sports writers in town and have them sing in unison about how wonderful the Paulson stadiums deal is, but most Portlanders will still recognize it for what it is: a pig wearing lipstick.

Of course, that hasn't stopped the City Council before. Don't expect Commissioner Dan "Aerial Tram Profile in Courage" Saltzman to grow a backbone at this point in his career. Break out the chainsaws in Lents Park! A "regular guy" is taking over.

One last point: Apparently Canzano is taking me to task for posting a screenshot of Paulson's Facebook page, which showed Sam Adams as his no. 1 friend. I wasn't supposed to show the Paulsons' daughter on the internet, even though Paulson himself did, and in fact still does, on a page that any Facebook subscriber can see. Although Canzano's diatribe is not really worthy of a response, I've blacked out the child's face on this blog. Better now?

Oh, the poor, poor Paulsons. Regular people. Salt of the earth. Misunderstood. They might move their team to Beaverton.

Port of Portland top brass are paid well

Continuing our series on executive salaries at government agencies and nonprofits in the Portland area, today we spotlight the Port of Portland. They've got quite a payroll over there, as indicated by the list they have furnished us of non-union employees whose base salaries are in excess of $100,000.

There are 79 individuals in that category at the Port. Nine of them make more than $150,000 a year; 22 over $125,000. The average exec in the top 20 is paid $161,161.

At the top of the Port pyramid is the executive director, Bill Wyatt (right), at a base salary of $269,910. (That places him above Fred Hansen, Tri-Met's general manager, whose salary is $256,954.) Second in line for gravy at the Port is Carla Kelley, the general counsel, at $214,040; followed by Steven Schreiber, the director of aviation, at $208,049.

Here is the rest of the top 10:

Granato, Vincent L.CFO & Director Ops Services$192,300
Watters, Stanley K.Director of Dev Svcs & IT$182,685
Ruda, Nathaniel M.Director of Marine$182,685
Imeson, Thomas J.Director of Public Affairs$174,176
Woodworth, Gail L.Director of Human Resources$168,320
Peterson, Thomas M.Chief Engineer$150,810
Ashton, David P.Assistant General Counsel$142,655

The full list of the individuals over $100,000 is here. We're told by Gail Woodworth, the Port's human resources head, that no one in the agency has received a bonus recently, and so the base salary figures accurately reflect these individuals' pay. They all participate in the Oregon PERS retirement system. Woodworth adds:

As information, Mr. Wyatt’s salary in the report reflects a 10% salary reduction that was part of the Port’s recent cost-cutting measures. Each of the Port’s six Directors and the General Counsel have taken a 3.5% pay reduction and will take 7 furlough days, both equaling a 6% salary reduction. The rest of the administrative employees will take 15 furlough days which equals a 4.6% salary reduction. The furlough days are not reflected in the base salaries reported. There will be no further salary increases until mid 2010, dependent upon economic conditions.
If Wyatt's listed salary is 10% less than what he was getting before, that puts his previous salary at $299,900.

The appearance of Imeson on this list of top dogs is not surprising, but it serves as another reminder of how membership in the network continues to have its privileges.

We'll keep poking around for interesting salary data that you don't hear much about, even though it's technically a pubic record, and we'll report our findings on the blog as we go along. Feel free to nominate your favorite agency or charity for scrutiny.

Feelings, nothing more than feelings

I see that the opponents of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor have been worrying out loud (they don't do much in silence) about the likelihood that her "feelings" will influence her judgment on the High Court. Well, gosh, that's what Supreme Court justices are all about, isn't it? In most of the cases they take, the law isn't clear, and so they do their best to reach the right result based on analysis, logic, history, context, and yes, "feelings." That's the way it goes -- always has. Don't you think Justices Thomas and Scalia have "feelings" about the way things are supposed to work in our society, and under our legal system?

If it came down to a choice between following Judge Sotomayor's "feelings" and following those of some of her soon-to-be-colleagues on the Supreme Court, I'd take hers in a New York minute.

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