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

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August 2009 Archives

Monday, August 31, 2009

Month-end inventory

Since my grammar school days 50 years ago, I've been worrying about The Next Big Thing That is Going to Kill Us. Are all of these still functional, or are there any I can cross off the list?

Ozone hole
Acid rain
Peak Oil
Global warming Climate change
Avian flu
Swine flu
Nuclear war
Nuclear power plant meltdown

And please don't tell me -- are there others that I should add?

Retirement Day

Here's an old solider who gave great service before finally falling apart this afternoon:

Years of battling the clay in our neighborhood took their toll. We've got many fine aspects of our yard to thank this guy for, however. See you around, old chum.

Wake up and smell the desperation

Three words: Starbucks instant coffee.

New Oregon elections guy not universally beloved

Stephen Trout, the new fellow that Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown has brought in to run the state elections division, has some detractors from a recent gig in California. According to critics, "he has been a supporter of paperless touch-screens and worse, [and] has demonstrated a dreadful attitude towards citizen oversight." He even made a "gotta be replaced" list six years ago or so. How he will fare running Oregon's "unique" vote-by-mail system should make for some interesting viewing.

More red light cams on the way in Portland?

I like the red light cameras, which give out robo-tickets to folks who run red lights at problem intersections. As long as I know where they are, I'm extra careful about not running afoul of them. What I'm less sanguine about is the fact that a private business operates the things, and does a lot of the work in ticket issuing, under a contract with the City of Portland. Can't we figure out how to operate these contraptions with city personnel, without some guy making a buck off them?

Anyway, the call has gone out for a new five-year contract, starting next April, and the bid invitation appears to be for up to 11 additional cameras, over and above the dozen or so that the city has posted already. Or is it just that the new contract will cover the same locations that already have the cams? It's hard to tell for sure from the language of the bid document, but it sure seems as though an expansion of the program is in the offing.

Cha ching! More money for streetcars.

Blood for oil

That trade, it seems, will never end.

More reasons for Portland not to do the Paulson stadium deal

One of the more persistent opponents of the Paulson soccer stadium deal, Peter Apanel, continues to hammer away at reasons why PGE Park isn't where the Portland Timbers should play once they're promoted to the "major" league (by U.S. standards). He continues to write e-mail messages and letters to anyone who will listen, arguing that a new soccer-only stadium (presumably, leaving the Portland Beavers baseball team where it is) is a superior solution.

The guy is an energetic researcher, and he's been trying in vain to get someone to produce for him the "standards" that the "major" soccer league says it is implementing by demanding that the Timbers' stadium be soccer-only. So far, no one has been able to show him any document that contains any such "standards," and it appears that no one in Portland city government has ever seen such a document. Indeed, it may be that no such document exists. Apanel has not been shy in suggesting that the league is making things up as it goes along, the better to enable the team's owner, Little Lord Paulson, to hold the city up for a more lucrative deal.

In the meantime, however, Apanel has turned up some very specific regulations adopted by FIFA, the international soccer organization. And he says it's quite clear that the current plan to redo PGE for the "major" league will never bring the facility into compliance with FIFA standards -- or even bring it close to complying.

For one thing, there will never be enough restrooms. PGE can barely get by for baseball and American football, but with soccer there's only one 15-minute break and no timeouts, and so lavatory demand is much more concentrated. To meet FIFA standards, Apanel says, PGE would need 350 toilets or urinals, and he says that many can't be squeezed into the park. In contrast, he notes, "the new major league baseball stadium in Milwaukee, which seats 42,000, has 316 toilets/urinals for men, 300 toilets for women, 74 single-user restrooms, and eight family-style restrooms. The men's restroom total matches FIFA's formula exactly, and the other numbers add up favorably."

Then there are the seat dimensions. The existing seats at PGE don't comply with FIFA recommendations because some of them are bench seats (an automatic dinger) and the rest have risers that aren't deep enough, providing inadequate leg room. And the proposed new seats would have the same riser problem, Apanel says. FIFA wants 33½ inches of riser; PGE currently gives only 30, and that's the plan for the new seats as well.

Additionally, he questions whether there can ever be enough concession stands in the building to serve the added capacity (and extra concentration of demand) that the proposed renovation would bring about. FIFA calls for one permanent (cash register) point of sale for every 200 fans, with about four feet of counter space per station; for a 20,000-seat stadium, that would be 400 feet of counter space. That's more than the entire length of the field. Can PGE handle it? Apanel doesn't think so. He adds:

And there's still another problem. The proposed plan calls for a standing room only viewing area in the north end of the stadium for the Timbers Army. But FIFA strongly recommends against any such viewing areas because of the potential for a "highly dangerous forward surge of spectators."
Now, it's not at all clear how much ice all this truth is going to cut. But the apparent absence of any real "standards" does shed further light on the vague and misleading nature of a lot of the sales pitch that the team and the city have been feeding the taxpaying public on this deal. And the fact that PGE can't come up to FIFA standards no matter what is done to it, does lead one to question why a new baseball stadium, rather than a new soccer stadium, is being planned.

Apanel may not get the PGE soccer deal killed, but he's certainly providing fuel for a strong case in the court of public opinion.

Red? Blue? Alas, it's all about the green.

I love my iPhone, but...

... I might not if it explodes!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

A heckuva fee

Looks like Brownie commands 10 grand to hang around a convention for three days. For that, attendees can hear "How Incompetent I Was."

It would probably cost 10 times that, and then some, for this guy.

Time's running out on that summer reading list

If you're serious about learning and thinking about health care reform, Atul Gawande at The New Yorker has done some interesting writing. A reader sends us to this lengthy piece, and there is plenty more where that came from.

Bean goes to the fights

"Ultimate fighting" is not our cup of tea, but our friend Bean is following it. He attended last night's card at the Rose Garden, and he files his usual knowledgable and thoughtful report here.

Saturday, August 29, 2009


Fight fans are having a big night in the Rose Garden tonight. So are the Portland police -- there are seven empty cop cruisers parked outside.

The mayor's next junket

I can't imagine Mayor Creepy and Fireman Randy will miss out on parading around through this place on the taxpayers' dime. (Sorry about the ad -- report follows.)

It sure makes for a swell story on a sunny day. But it might not be so pretty when it's 36 degrees and raining sideways. And who wants to live in these?

Why don't we do it in the road?

Collect solar energy, that is.

Another bright, sunshiny day

Here's another peculiar rah-rah story in the O. This one is about how biofuels are the promise of the future for Oregon's beleaguered farmers. No mention of how the market for these fuels has tanked (if you'll pardon the expression), and processors are going under left and right. It's little wonder that economic downturns tend to catch our state off-guard. There's a lot of wishful thinking going on.

Texting while driving = drinking and driving

Under one Utah law, the two irresponsible practices are equally culpable if the driver kills someone. One suspects that eventually, the two will be treated the same in many states, and even if no one gets killed.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Have a great weekend

Atrazine update

Earlier in the week we linked to a New York Times article about the herbicide atrazine, and how it's winding up in water supplies around the country; we also noted that it's used fairly extensively here in Oregon. We wondered aloud how certain we could be that it wasn't in Portland's water. The administrator of the city's water bureau, David Shaff, consistently responds to our posts on water matters, and he sent us an e-mail message in response to our post. He wrote:

I read your blog and asked our Regulatory Compliance staff to let me know if we test for Atrazine in either of our water sources.

The answer is that we test for Atrazine in both Bull Run and groundwater and have not detected it in either source. The latest test results from Bull Run were from March of this year and for groundwater it was August of 2008 when we last ran groundwater. We just finished our annual maintenance run of groundwater this year and we don’t have the results back yet, but I don’t expect a different result.

The CCR (Consumer Confidence Report) a.k.a. the "glossy brochure" is a highly regulated document we are required to produce on an annual basis by the EPA. The EPA’s guidance manual on CCRs says, “Do not include in the table contaminants that are not detected or are detected below the MDL." However, we are not prohibited from listing all the contaminants we test for elsewhere in the document, so your point is well taken, its hard to tell if something not in the CCR was tested for and not detected, or not tested for.

Atrazine is one of the regulated SOCs (Synthetic Organic Chemical) (as is glyphosate--commercial name Roundup--which is also mentioned in the blog), and we test for SOCs in both Bull Run and groundwater. It is a pesticide in wide use in the United States for broad spectrum weed control. It is most commonly used in agricultural applications. Atrazine is most heavily used in corn-producing states.

Another chemical mentioned in the response to the original blog: Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether (MTBE) is an unregulated VOC (Volatile Organic Compound), but is part of the standard suite of VOCs we analyze for in our lab.

More information can be found regarding our water quality testing here:


Worrying about Obama's tax agenda

One of the things that most heartened me about Obama's victory last November was his promise to make progressive changes to the federal tax laws. Under his administration, he said, the most egregious of the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy would be rolled back or allowed to expire. Particularly for taxpayers making more than $250,000 a year, we were told, taxes were going to go up. The estate tax on wealthy Americans was going to be reinstated on a permanent basis, and several key loopholes in that tax were going to be closed.

I fully support these principles. Under Bush the Younger, the rich made out like bandits. Take the income tax rate on dividends on corporate stock, for example. Before Bush stole the 2000 election, the top rate on that kind of income -- for the $350,000-and-up crowd -- was 39.6 percent. Within a few years, Bush and his pals in Congress had whacked it down to 15 percent. That's a nice deal for those fortunate enough to be able to live off dividends and never go to work -- you know, some of the same people who are now suddenly screaming about the deficit as the reason to do nothing toward health care reform....

Forgive the digression. The point is that Obama was going to make important changes to the revenue laws and set the tax system on a new course.

But now we have a problem, Houston. It's the end of August, and Congress doesn't seem to be anywhere near discussing the nuts and bolts of tax reform. Washington is completely engrossed in the health care war, and it doesn't seem to have an attention span for anything else. By the time there's room on their plate for taxes, the folks in Congress will be racing to get a budget passed, and who knows what else they'll be dealing with -- a swine flu scare or worse, maybe a bomb going off somewhere, another banking crisis -- the parade of horribles is long.

The murmurs we hear are to the effect that there isn't going to be any major, permanent tax reform this year -- that a set of gimmicky one-year "patches" will be enacted, extending a bunch of tax giveaways that are about to expire for another year, and maybe taking a bigger bite out of the rich, but only on a temporary basis. And according to some, even this weak a law won't pass until so late in the year that it will wreak havoc at the IRS, who will have an impossible task getting the tax forms published in time for tax season. The IRS might have to rewrite some of the forms even after they've been distributed because Congress may act so late. A serious, long-term tax bill, some tax pundits are saying, will have to wait until next year.

Now, that's a real problem. Next year will be an election year for the entire House and more than a third of the Senate. It's not impossible, but it's awfully hard, to get serious tax reform measures passed in election years. For example, Bush was smart enough to get his tax cuts passed in 2001 and 2003, when new Congresses were sitting. And this time we're talking tax increases, not decreases. By the time we get into 2010, there will be blood on the Capitol floor from the health care throwdown, and you can bet that out on the hustings this year's death panel screamers will be next year's tax increase screamers. In short, from a political standpoint, 2009 would be a better bet than 2010 for Obama's tax legislation, but the opportunity may be slipping away.

The month of September will tell us a lot. But if we wind up with crumbs on health care and little on taxes this year, a lot of people who worked really hard for change a year ago are going to be mighty disappointed, if not downright angry.

Guess who isn't getting laid off

A local reader sends along this graph, which his out-of-state brother uncovered the other day. The brother asks, "What kind of state do you live in?" We're surprised he couldn't tell just by looking at it.

How to get people to hate "green"

Keep rubbing their noses in how "green" their parking tickets are.

"Meter maids are giving out expired tag citations, and this is helping to clean our air." Such is the hard-hitting stuff coming from the Portland city auditor these days. Sheesh.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

No longer riding on the merry-go-round

The stock market continues to climb, while hundreds of additional bank failures are expected and true unemployment is the worst since the Great Depression. Do investors really think things are going to turn around soon for the nation as a whole? Or are they betting they can make a quick buck while the economy in general sinks deeper? Either way, some of us on the sidelines won't be inserting ourselves back into the game any time soon.

Nike bails on pro soccer

It's probably not something they wanted to begin with, but the Swooshers have sold their controlling stake in the minor league that they bought as part of the acquisition of Umbro. It's the league in which the Timbers currently play, but not for long.

Crisis in Jersey calls for Portland solution

The City of Englewood, New Jersey has issued a stop-work order on renovations to the property on which Libyan cutthroat Moammar Gadhafi wants to pitch his tent next month. And surprise, surprise -- Moammar's work crews are defying the order:

On Wednesday, with an armada of trucks and vans parked on the grounds, it was clear that new sod and a lawn-sprinkler system were about to be installed and that the roof on the house — a three-story, 25-room structure once known as Thunder Rock — was being replaced with reddish stone. Because of damage to neighboring properties, the city has issued a stop-work order, but it has been visibly ignored.
This is a job for Fireman Randy! He and his Greek Cusina hit squad could really make a name for themselves back there.

Ignorance is the mother of violence

Funny, I'm not hearing the law-and-order outrage about this. Can you imagine if a liberal Democrat had said this about Bush? Right-wing radio would have gone beyond ballistic.

It's obvious that some Republican politicians have no problem with playing patty-cake with the violent kooks in their audience. Obvious and sad.

Nice and easy does it

Heads keep rolling in Canby, and the FBI is busting chops, because a police officer down that way allegedly took steroids and tried to protect the people he was getting them from. Supremely dumb and dangerous conduct, but why is this such a federal case? If I had to guess, I'd think there were some steroid boys in every police force in the state, including trigger-happy Portland. And if the feds would like to go after some police misconduct, popping steroids is fairly small potatoes compared to some other stories we've seen.

Some thoughts for the day

It's a long story, but our acquisition of an iPhone has led to our spending more time with the hard copy of the Sunday Times' Week in Review section. Wherein this week we found the following in two separate articles:

Mr. Poirier himself cherished self-contradiction. He helped enshrine the nation’s literary classics at the Library of America, but he also wrote that "works of art are not required to exist. There is nothing outside of them that requires their existence. If Shakespeare had never existed we would not miss his works, for there would be nothing missing."

Literature, in other words, was not sacred or even necessary. But it mattered enormously, because, at its most potent, it insisted that we not take ourselves, or our words, for granted. "We ought to be grateful to language," Mr. Poirier wrote, "for making life messier than ever."

* * * * *

The organizer dedicated to changing the life of a particular community must first rub raw the resentments of the people of the community; fan the latent hostilities of many of the people to the point of overt expression. He must search out controversy and issues, rather than avoid them, for unless there is controversy people are not concerned enough to act....

It should be borne in mind that the target is always trying to shift responsibility to get out of being the target. There is a constant squirming and moving and strategy — purposeful, and malicious at times, other times just for straight self-survival — on the part of the designated target. The forces of change must keep this in mind and pin that target down securely.

Chloe busts into the Top 10

The most popular baby names of 2008 in the United States are out. It's Jacob and Emma holding onto the top spots, followed by Michael and Isabella. Isabella! Who woulda thunk it? Then Ethan and Emily. Ethan? Really? I missed that one.

The whole list, and lots of ways to play with the data from the last 10 years, are here. And for the record: Samuel, 28 and dropping; Randy, 301 and rising; Daniel, 5 and rising; Nicholas, 29 and falling; Amanda, 138 and falling; LaVonne, not in the top 1,000; John, 20 and falling; and Jack, 39 and falling.

Hard at work

Now that we see that the City of Portland's started a contest for a new banner for Portland Online, the city's official website, we're keen on getting into the hunt. A $1,000 cash prize is up for grabs here, and we could use the extra dough. We've got until October 19 to get our entry in, but already we've got some ideas. What do you think of this one?

Yo, Moammar, try the veal at Solaia

Now I've seen everything. The one and only Moammar Gadhafi says he wants to hang out in a tent in Bergen County, New Jersey. The Libyan Mission to the U.N. owns some property on Palisade Avenue in Englewood (note that Google Street View goes out of its way not to show it), and Reagan's Whipping Boy says he wants to camp out there.

Take it from a guy from Newark: This is not going to happen. And if it does, it's going to go very, very badly.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Reader poll: Which real estate pipedream is goofier?

A couple of wild articles in the local media tonight. First, somebody says that development in the Gateway District on the east side of Portland is about to take off, if only a few streets get changed around. Meanwhile, a luxury resort and spa is opening up to much fanfare -- in Newberg.


Which development story is more delusional?
Better roads in Gateway may spur developers
Luxury resort scheduled to open in Newberg
The two stories are equally delusional
pollcode.com free polls


A surfer from Cloverdale saved a kid's life at Cape Kiwanda in Pacific City last evening. And he was quite cool about the whole thing.

Here we are now, entertain us

Nothing says "fun" on Tri-Met better than when a large group of teenagers climbs into your bus or train car. Especially the ones wearing gangster outfits and carrying their weapons in their backpacks. You can expect a lot more of that fun now, as any kid showing a Portland high school ID (real or fake) will be riding for free, 24/7. This one may have good intentions paving it, but it's going to be a bumpy ride, and somehow we doubt that it will wind up where the do-gooders think it will.

If the Beaverton stadium doesn't work out...

... here's a great new home for Little Lord Paulson's baseball team. We'll take up a collection and help him move. The best part: It's 3,000 miles away from here.

House of cards bigger and better than ever

"The recovery's just around the corner." "More Bernanke ensures stability." "Housing prices are bottoming out." "Stock rally continues."

Uh huh.

Try "FDIC is running out of money."

Time to print up some more. It's gonna be $20 for a loaf of bread, people, I'm tellin' ya...


Willy Week plays the "Who Had the Pickle?" game with Portland city commissioners' expense accounts this week. A noble undertaking, but they found even less of interest than the O does when it does this sort of thing. The Double Dub wrote it up and made it a cover story anyway.

Sure, there are aspects of these slush funds that could tightened up. But compared to the far grander wastes of money in which the city is constantly engaged, kvetching over this $71,000 a year doesn't seem worth it. The PDC blows $71,000 an hour.

Who asked for it?

An alert reader is correct in noting my fascination with these, but some questions are best left unasked.

Straight from the top

Here's an important story that could be lost in the more pressing stories of the week -- Michael Jackson still being dead, Oprah and Obama, and now the whole Teddy Funeral:

There's now hard evidence that the torture that America inflicted on detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan was actually being directed, in great detail, by officials in our nation's capital. It was not just the work of rogue personnel out in the field -- quite the opposite.

Read this document -- even the heavily censored version -- and weep for our country.

Countin' flowers on the wall

The nasty apartment infill bunker that's slated for North Williams Avenue just above Fremont Street is back in front of the City Council this morning, and the opponents are still quite up in arms. The current issue is a tax abatement for the project as "transit-oriented," even as transit service in the immediate area is being cut. But the outrage extends to several other aspects of the building -- its height (four stories), its bulk (72 units), its big parking lot, its inadequate landscaping, its utter incompatibility with the little houses around it, its lack of true low-income units, the absence of any need for more apartments in an already overbuilt city -- the list of complaints goes on and on.

The neighbors also complain that while the builder has been making vague noises about "LEED" this and that -- the magic incantation that sends PC Portland politicians and bureaucrats into an ecstatic swoon -- there's nothing in writing anywhere that actually commits the owner to doing anything all that "green."

Yesterday we were copied on one e-mail message to the City Council in which an opponent complained that many of the units in the large complex will have bedrooms with no windows. Is that right -- windowless bedrooms? For this we're giving developers tax breaks? Has this City Council got no shame at all?

Busy work for the P.R. army

The City of Portland's tax receipts are dropping like a rock as the local economy continues to wheeze and sputter. Police precincts are closing, the permit bureau is being decimated by layoffs, budgets are being slashed...

Hey! I've got an idea! Let's redesign the city website!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Teddy's dead

That's what they said.

Blowing the whistle on Gatsby

Here's another prominent Oregonian who's critical of Sen. Ron Wyden (R-N.Y.).

Another FOH perp walk

Another Clinton pal is busted and charged with financial hanky panky. Some of this one may even rub off on Oprah's dinner date.

Skin deep

Mayor Creepy's web page makes him and his staff look so pretty! Let's hope it doesn't work like this.

Turn, turn to the rain and the wind

Bob Dylan is talking about becoming the voice of some car GPS systems. That might be a little too heavy for us.

Now in the Emerald City

The law firm to turn to when you're trying to site a LULU (locally undesirable land use) in Portland must be doing pretty well. The Ball Janik crew has announced that they've opened a branch in Seattle. This adds to their Washington, D.C. branch; the mother ship here in the Rose City; and an office over in Bend.

The PBJ story on the new branch contains an interesting description of the firm: "Ball Janik LLP, which was founded in 1982, specializes in congressional and administrative lobbying for a wide variety of public and private sector interests." It's interesting that that's who the cities of Portland and Beaverton have hired to negotiate with the Paulson family over their stadium money dreams. Can a firm that's used to twisting politicians' arms on behalf of the wealthy and powerful do the same thing in the opposite direction? I suppose it's possible.

E-mail me again when he shows some common sense

Several readers have sent me this story from yesterday. Fireman Randy had a hothead moment. And he's standing with Mayor Creepy, come hell or high water.

As much as I love goofing on our local politicians, and as deeply as I appreciate tips from alert readers, none of this is the least bit newsworthy. O.k., I'm a little surprised the guy in the truck wasted his breath, but that's about it.

Unseasonal rain explained

Yes, I really did wash my car last evening.

Sorry, not a winner

A reader writes:

During a moment of goofiness the other day, I bought one of those big, fancy Crossword Scratch-It lottery tickets. On one side, several paragraphs of printed instructions concluded with: "... Oregon Lottery profits help fund thousands of projects across Oregon each year."

One inch below that: "Printed in Canada."

Monday, August 24, 2009

Change that didn't happen

That Obama fella sure knows how to take orders, doesn't he?

Sleep tight

On the heels of Thursday's broad-daylight gangster hit near the public library branch in North Portland, we now learn that the man who died in his Southeast Portland home of gunshot wounds over the weekend may have been an innocent bystander hit in his own bed by bullets intended for someone else. The violence in our town continues to grow, and the politicians won't even acknowledge the trend, much less do anything about it. "Look over here! A sustainability center! Major league soccer! What's that you say? Gunshot noise? No, must be fireworks at the Beaver game."

Where Portland jobs will be going

Newberg! They're planning an industrial park that will not have any condos or Whole Foods. And probably a huge, wasteful parking lot! How backward. I'm sure no one will want to locate their business there.

New hazard on the road: Drivers distracted by making meth

Now that we've made it impossible to get Sudafed or Claritin-D without a prescription in Oregon, the tweakers are figuring out how to make meth out of a lot fewer cold pills. The new ingredient is found in "cold packs," which means that if you like those, you'd better stock up. Fireman Randy will have those locked up with the spray paint pretty soon.

Tipping point

The government is considering recommending routine circumcision for newborn baby boys, as a way of lowering their risk of contracting some sexually transmitted diseases, especially HIV. This is sure to stir up some serious controversy, and maybe even an analog to the recent "death panel" hysteria.

A lot of states don't cover the procedure under Medicaid; as best we can tell, the Oregon Health Plan doesn't. (See page 16 of this document.) It's another example of the class divide between the have-not's and the have's.

An extreme reaction

Maybe we could just call Dewar's "freedom whisky."

Score one for internet radio

The New York-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit has ruled against the record companies in their copyright lawsuit against the Launchcast internet music service. The court held that Launchcast wasn't interactive enough to trigger the highest level of copyright hassle and expense. The key fact was that the Launchcast listener had only limited control over what he or she was going to hear when he or she tuned in. The court declared:

In short, to the degree that LAUNCHcast’s playlists are uniquely created for each user, that feature does not ensure predictability. Indeed, the unique nature of the playlist helps Launch ensure that it does not provide a service so specially created for the user that the user ceases to purchase music. LAUNCHcast listeners do not even enjoy the limited predictability that once graced the AM airwaves on weekends in America when "special requests" represented love-struck adolescents' attempts to communicate their feelings to "that special friend." Therefore, we cannot say LAUNCHcast falls within the scope of the DMCA’s definition of an interactive service created for individual users.
Launchcast has recently been restructured to give users even less control than they had in the time period covered by the lawsuit, but other services, such as Pandora and Last.fm, bear a lot of similarity to the old version of Launchcast that was vindicated by the court.

Apparently the court decision means that many internet radio services will be able to survive in their current formats by paying a reasonable fee, as opposed to being forced to pay much more to the record companies (or being put out of business). Such news is music to our earbuds.

Goodies by the Gulch

Summer's in its last month, but a lot of the produce around Portland is still going strong. Yesterday, on a bagel run, the kids and I stumbled across the new Sunday farmers' market on NE 16th Avenue between Broadway and Weidler. Small but fine, and it runs until 3 in the afternoon for us morning-impaired types. We scored some excellent strawberries -- not Hoods at this late date, but a vast improvement over the turnip-like things that the big grocery chains sell all year 'round. And some peaches, too.

That block is the site of the somewhat cursed condo bunker that, in its planning stages, was peddled to the neighborhood as the home of the next Zupan's outlet. Zupan never showed, and the grocery space was chopped up and mostly left vacant. And so now, finally, food is being sold there, albeit in the street. Neighbors who like the idea would be well advised to show up on Sunday and spend some bucks, less the comestibles disappear.

A few hours later, the kids got an unexpected call from a friend, and they and the Mrs. headed out to a U-pick blueberry operation out around Troutdale. Buckets more of nature's bounty. They took some around to the neighbors, and we all ate our fill, with plenty left over. We're blessed.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Know your place

Here's a guy getting arrested for stealing software that can rip off small stock market investors in a matter of milliseconds. Hey, little guys aren't supposed to be able to do that! That capability is the private property of Goldman Sachs. (I wish I were kidding.)

A beautiful picture of a not-so-pretty object

(Click the square in the upper right corner to go full screen.)

How much atrazine, from forest to faucet?

Interesting piece in the Times today about new health concerns over the herbicide atrazine in drinking water. I was looking to see if any of that has ever been detected in Portland's water supply; the city's glossy official document doesn't list it (as it does the birth control drugs that show up). I'm not sure whether that means they tested for atrazine and it wasn't there, or that they didn't test for it.

One piece found in the wilds of the internet notes:

Atrazine is a dangerous chemical. However, the EPA only asked water suppliers to collect water supplies every three months for a year to find out if Atrazine is present above 1ppb. If it is higher, they will continue to monitor and treat the water. If low or no presence of Atrazine is found they discontinue monitoring for the pesticide. According to Stephen L. Johnson, the EPA’s assistant administrator for prevention, pesticides and toxic substance, 8 out of 200 US water systems have Atrazine levels significantly above the legal limit. Two water systems in Missouri, two in Kentucky, and various sites in Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana and Iowa are currently involved.
Atrazine apparently does get sprayed on Oregon forests from the air on a regular basis. It appears as though it's pretty common on other types of farms in our state as well. And it's been found in the lower Clackamas River, which some people drink. It's banned in Europe. That's as far as Google would take me.

Cancel the hoopla

There was talk a while back of Leonard Peltier being paroled and moving to Portland, but now that's not going to happen. At least not for another 15 years. And he's 64 years old.

Only in Portland

The Voodoo bucket!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Portland's fake New York quest continues

The pretention of the Rose City's development community knows no bounds. Now Hawthorne is going to be the new Hoboken, New Jersey. Whatever.

In case these guys (and their bankers) haven't noticed, people don't migrate to Portland for this kind of shinola. If they wanted to live in Soviet bunkers, they'd move to the real New York and get a job whose pay compensates them for the toll of living like that.

The real deal

Carl Yastrzemski turns 70 today.

Math check

One does not need 80 votes in the United States Senate to pass fundamental health care reform.

One needs 50, plus guts.

The Democratic Party has 60.

Dying institution exhibits acute senility

Randy Gragg is long gone, but the mindless cheerleading in the O for questionable developer pork lives on. Here's the latest -- note, there's not a trace of any critical thought anywhere in it. Go by streetcar!

Dear Fireman Randy

I know you like to read over the weekend, then come into work on Monday and... well... kind of proclaim yourself an expert on whatever it was you read. So here's a suggestion for your agenda for this weekend. Read it, and think about it. Especially this part:

Seattle political consultant John Wyble said voters were grumpy with a city government they viewed as out of touch. He cited the snowstorm and the continued push for a $4.2 billion tunnel project to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct, despite voter rejection of a previous tunnel plan.

"Whether or not the mayor is to blame, it just played into people's frustration that the city doesn't really seem to listen," Wyble said.

Don't touch the pigs at the Oregon State Fair

And get this: It's for the pigs' protection.

The United States of Blackwater

America's private army and spy agency has long tentacles.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Keep an eye on Coach

There's too much of this going on.

Have a great weekend

Clearance sale! All linchpins must go!

A big event on tap next month down at the SoWhat Discovery Foreclosure Center:

More on the Obama sellout

Krugman's take:

[T]here’s a growing sense among progressives that they have, as my colleague Frank Rich suggests, been punked. And that’s why the mixed signals on the public option created such an uproar.

Now, politics is the art of the possible. Mr. Obama was never going to get everything his supporters wanted.

But there’s a point at which realism shades over into weakness, and progressives increasingly feel that the administration is on the wrong side of that line. It seems as if there is nothing Republicans can do that will draw an administration rebuke: Senator Charles E. Grassley feeds the death panel smear, warning that reform will "pull the plug on grandma," and two days later the White House declares that it’s still committed to working with him.

It’s hard to avoid the sense that Mr. Obama has wasted months trying to appease people who can’t be appeased, and who take every concession as a sign that he can be rolled.

The whole thing, very much worth reading, is here.

What are you doing -- and where?

Do you want your tweets to say where you are?

Now *that's* a closing argument

In the trial of a wrongful death lawsuit, the lawyers want to make as strong an impression on the jury as possible. Often drama is involved, particularly in opening and closing arguments to the jurors.

But it's possible to be too dramatic, as this story out of Montana shows. It was a medical malpractice case, and the plaintiff's lawyer's closing argument was so potent that one of the jurors started to keel over in reaction to it. The doctor who was being sued jumped up to be part of the rescue. In the end, the whole case had to be thrown out and tried again.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Who's zoomin' who?

Here's an interesting twist: The City of Lake Oswego is suing the Lake Oswego Review over a public records request. The county D.A. says that the city has to give the records up, but the city's so adamant in not wanting to do that, it's suing.

Portland gangster hit in broad daylight

Vera Katz's boy is as incompetent as she was when it comes to dealing with this sort of stuff.

Laying himself off

Just as Bob Gerding is laid to rest, another architect of the disastrous SoWhat district in Portland will be stepping down from his job. Steve Stadum, one of the masters of malarkey up on Pill Hill, is packing it in. "Now is the time that OHSU’s mission leaders – in health care, education and research – will be most impactful with scaling and structuring programs optimally." Stadum was "impactful," all right, helping Neil Goldschmidt and Peter Kohler nearly bankrupt both OHSU and the City of Portland. The Network has its own safety net, however. Look for Stadum to show up in a Metro, Tri-Met, or Port of Portland gig before too long.

You can stretch right up and touch the sky

Yesterday afternoon, we had an errand to run a couple of miles from the house, and we decided we'd get there on our trusty bicycle. We applied the sunscreen, threw some ice and water in a red plastic water bottle, grabbed our backpack and helmet, and headed out into the day's record heat.

Given our primitive biking skills, we never ride fast, and under these extreme conditions, we really took it easy. At a slower pace, the ride was enjoyable. There wasn't much traffic, and we stayed on the green streets according to the bike map. A mellow scene, particularly since most of our route was shaded by Northeast Portland's wonderful canopy of trees.

Our destination was 52nd and Sandy, and man, when it's hot on a Portland afternoon, it doesn't get any hotter than Sandy. "Back of my neck gettin' dirt and gritty," indeed. The cars seemed louder and a little more threatening than usual, and everybody who, like us, was out in the open had a bit of a serious look on as he or she moved along in the blistering sun.

On our way back, we took a roundabout route and wound up at the liquor store in Hollywood. We parked a ways off of Sandy and crossed that street as a pedestrian. The corner of 39th was more brutal than ever, and we even heard a rear-ender nearby -- what a drag for the drivers involved. Inside the booze store, it was cool as a cuke, though, and some nice Motown was being pumped in. We got our bottle and headed back toward home.

Grant Park was an interesting scene. Hardly a soul was playing tennis at the height of the heat, but of course the pool was pretty busy. Lots of tykes on wheels, too -- most of them at about the same level of riding skill as ours. We managed not to hit each other, which was good, because a few of them didn't seem too alert for hazards.

On one bench sat a very pregnant person, who had that look of anticipation about her. Given the size of her tummy, it won't be long now. She didn't look as uncomfortable as we suspect she actually was. We recalled back when the Mrs. was at that stage -- twice -- and how all the folks who had already been there themselves advised us to savor every moment of it. They were right, of course.

It was nice spending some time outside on such a remarkable day. It reminded us a little of those neighborhood cross-country ski jaunts that we enjoyed back at the end of last year. They're both Portland. It's a blessing to be able to get out and experience the extremes for a little while. It's also a blessing to get back to the climate-controlled house and chill out afterward.


Question: What do you get when you put the school district bureaucracy, the city parks bureaucracy, and the city land use bureaucracy in the same room for a couple of years?

Answer: Something like this.

Stop streaming -- dam it

When you attend a live sporting event with your powerful smart phone in your hand, how much are you allowed to Tweet about it, or blog about it in "real time"? As much as you want? To the full capabilities of that gadget in your pocket?

Maybe. But the teams and the media outlets that make money off the traditional way of broadcasting the games are starting to feel a little threatened. And they're drawing some lines in the sand.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Can you fly an aerial tram at half staff?

Bob Gerding has died at age 71, which is a pretty young age to go. The guy had been a big part of changing Portland from a special place that we liked a lot to a fake New York that we don't like nearly as well. But he has just left this world, and it's not the time to speak ill of him. Sincere condolences to those who will miss him.

Sign o' the times

What has happened to our nation? Our favorite dandruff shampoo, made by Redken, used to be called "Solve." Today we picked up a new bottle -- only now it's called "Retaliate."

Double duty

Just an idea: If the Convention Center hotel gets built in Portland and it turns out to be a flop, it can be converted into a lockup for aggressive panhandlers.

Violent night

Mother Nature took a big bite out of New York's Central Park last night.

Bad humor

As a longtime grouch, I can get mildly irritated when the ice cream vendors come down the street playing their inane jingles. And in this, I am apparently not alone.

One less bell to answer

The committee that was looking into setting up yet another "urban renewal" area, this one west and south of downtown Portland, has cancelled its meeting for next week. Does this have anything to do with the fact that the Paulson stadium deal no longer has "urban renewal" dough in it? It was all about the Paulson deal, wasn't it?

Wood Village mixing up the Kool-Aid

"Urban renewal" slush funds, tacky condos, tax excrement financing, the works -- it's all getting ready to come the taxpayers' way out in Minnistown. I hope they don't forget the streetcar!

The $20 loaf of bread

I'm not the only one who sees it coming.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Seattle grocery bag tax lands with a thud

Maybe it was all the money the plastic bag makers spent influencing voters. Or perhaps people in Seattle just want the local politicians to run essential government services, rather than telling them how to live. For whatever reason, the proposed 20-cent "fee" on disposable grocery bags is being defeated by about a 3-to-2 margin.

Obama sells out

As told by every Democrat's pal, Ralph Nader.

Lawn signs for Little Lord Paulson

We just got a breathless e-mail message from the Oregon Sports Authority that it's launching an all-out campaign to get the City of Beaverton to build a new stadium for the Paulson family's minor league baseball team:

In the coming weeks, campaign representatives will be meeting with businesses and civic groups, and will have an active presence at a variety of community events. The campaign will also be distributing lawn signs, window decals and buttons, which are available for pick-up at the Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation Athletic Center, Play It Again Sports and the Washington County Visitors Association.

"I'm delighted to have the support of the Oregon Sports Authority in bringing the Beavers to Beaverton," said Beaverton Mayor Denny Doyle. "A multipurpose venue for dozens of community events that would also be home to Triple-A baseball in Oregon has the potential to be a home run for our community and our region."

Several area businesses and organizations have already expressed support for bringing the Beavers to Beaverton, including the Westside Economic Alliance, Vernier Software & Technology, Providence Health & Services and the Raccoon Lodge....

"What an opportunity for Beaverton and Oregon," said Ryan Deckert, president of the Oregon Business Association. "I grew up in Beaverton and this is our moment to help ensure Oregon remains a major league place to live, work and play!"

Wow. Just wow.

Here are the signs they've got. A little bland, don't you think? We should have a contest: Design a better lawn sign for this campaign. And some slogans -- they definitely need some catchy slogans. As a Portland taxpayer, I'd be greatly relieved to see some other municipality (one to whom I do not pay taxes) hop in the sack with the Paulson family. Let's pitch in and do our part to get that done.

McPile of Rubble

Remember that Lake Oswego McMansion that was built where it never should have been, and was devastated by a landslide over New Year's weekend? Well, it has been demolished:

Our sympathies to the homeowners.

Road Trip of the Future

An alert reader who just drove through Idaho reminds me that there's an establishment in Lewiston that I'm overdue to visit:

I have the t-shirt, but I need the steak and spaghetti.

How to spot a liar

Forget about their demeanor. Listen carefully to the words they're using.

Bring your gun

The Multnomah County Republican Party is going to hold its own informational gathering on health care next week. The organizers say it is "designed to ignite, energize, and mobilize those who wish to stop the slide into socialism." Speakers will include doctors who are opposed to abortion and assisted suicide, and somebody from the private health insurance industry.

The event will be held over by the Convention Center, but given the number of Republicans in Portland, they might consider moving it to an Econoline van parked outside the KXL studios. And what's this? "Near major Bus and Max lines"? Heresy!

"Parking also available at Holy Rosary Church, 375 NE Clackamas Blvd." -- now that's more like it. Confessions heard daily, people.

Guys, check your pits

Wieden & Kennedy says they could ruin your life.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Jerks, please lurk

There's been a lot of taunting going on in the comments section of this blog over the last few days. If you feel the urge to do that, please head over to OregonLive or the Portland Tribune site, where that kind of talk has become the standard fare and the comments are no longer interesting or bearable. Or go to your elected representative's next town hall meeting. We're adopting a zero-tolerance policy on taunting for a while, and our trigger finger is quite itchy.

What is a book of tweets called -- a twook?

Will it go 'round in circles?

The Blazers today unveiled a couple of old-school-style jerseys that they say they'll wear in the upcoming season. It's not clear how many times they'll wear them, but presumably at least once at home and once on the road. The new old look is here.

Just fade away

The co-ops envisioned by some backers would be nonprofit, member-owned groups that would assemble networks of health care providers and negotiate payment rates with them. The government would provide up to $6 billion to get them started.
That $6 billion will go straight into the pockets of insurance company executives, and maybe insurance company shareholders, and the co-op policies will be too expensive for anyone to afford.

This may be what Gatsby Wyden wants, but it isn't worth bothering with. If it's the best we can do, let's go work on something else. Like starting to make some long-overdue decisions about the tax code, for example. I'm sure Ron has a nice "centrist" approach to that, too. We should give him a call at the luxury box at Yankee Stadium and see what he thinks.

One guy got it right

I'll see your caveat and raise you a caveat

My new colleague Tung Yin reflects on the warning notice he received with his Social Security statement. (Comment over there.)

Oregon to spend "leftover" $35 million on Amtrak trains

Those 30,000 vehicles going over the Sellwood Bridge every day will have to wait for a solution to the problem that's crumbling beneath their wheels. Trains to Eugene are apparently a higher priority.

More legislators get real paychecks

Following in State Sen. Vicki Walker's footsteps, State Rep. Larry Galizio and State Sen. Margaret Carter have landed nice jobs on the paying side of state government. We can't find Galizio's new salary as a "strategic planner" for the university system anywhere yet. But Carter will be pulling down $121,872 a year (plus benefits, presumably) to start in the Human Services department. Nice work.

Guess it *wasn't* a crime

We've received an unofficial report that Multnomah County's fearless district attorney has decided not to prosecute reporter Lee Perlman in connection with his allegedly defacing a petition to recall Portland Mayor Sam Adams. If true, this report would not be surprising, as the D.A. has washed his hands of the Adams scandal right from the beginning. First he said he had conflict of interest; this time, apparently, his conscience is clearer as he lets Perlman walk away scot-free from a fairly egregious disruption of the electoral process. We won't try to figure out what motivates the prosecutors around here; we gave up on that long ago.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Health care reform is dead

There will be no "single payer." Now there will not even be a "public option." Instead, there will be some sort of insurance "co-op" nonsense that will leave the big private insurance companies calling the shots on whether and how you're treated for illness... if you're lucky enough to have insurance. The mega-profits, the obscene executive paydays, they will all continue, while regular people in this country will still be stuck going to the emergency room because they can't afford a doctor.

The Blue Cross fat cats are laughing hard and partying big tonight.

Oh well, that was quick.

Here the progressives busted buns to get control of Congress and the White House, even somehow getting 60 votes in the Senate -- a once-in-a-generation advantage -- and yet they can't get anything meaningful done on health care. As much as we dislike Nader, he was right about one thing: When it comes to being controlled by corporate money, there's no longer any meaningful difference between the two major parties. It's profoundly sad.

When Obama signs whatever charade legislation is finally passed on this, maybe he and Ron "I'm Taking on the Lobbyists" Wyden can go down to Guantánamo for the bill-signing ceremony. They can even include a signing statement.

Food for body and soul

Portland Pie-Off II is now in the record books. Seventy or so pies met a dozen judges and a few hundred pie fans at beautiful Peninsula Park this afternoon to celebrate the goodness that is pie. The overall winner was a crazy yet delicious mashup of honeydew melon, white chocolate, and cucumber, but there were so many entries worthy of high honors, it's impossible to pay tribute to them all.

And this year, with a large contingent of judges, no one took a bite of them all, either, as the three of us judges did last year. Each judge got a crack at all of the entries in two categories of pies -- and then a sample of the winner of each other category, in the hunt for the overall pie winner. We each took a bite of around 25 pies, as opposed to twice that many last year.

I joined two other judges in the savory and general fruit categories: caterer (and last year's overall winner) Tricia Butler, and ice cream maker extraordinaire Rudy Speerschneider. The savory pies were fantastic -- breakfast, brunch, lunch, and dinner were all well represented. The entries included a ham-and-egg pie, two lamb pies, a potato, a squash, a mac and cheese, a Cuban -- each good in its own right but pretty daunting in combination.

In the end, we agonized between the Moroccan lamb and the mac and cheese -- and if the event organizers didn't eventually demand an answer, we'd still be deliberating, it was that close. We kept taking bites of each, back and forth, and we might have wound up eating most of both pies if we had kept hemming and hawing. Both pies had pluses and minuses, but mostly pluses. Our final decision was the Moroccan, by the slightest of margins. (If the person who made the squash pie needs comforting, however, they should e-mail me for directions to deliver another one of those for [cough] further testing [cough].)

Over on the general fruit table, it was all apple, all the time, with the exception of a single red-white-and-blue berry combo. I was partial to a classic version of the apple pie, but the other two judges on the panel gave the nod to an apple-cranberry mix that was also quite good. A split decision for the apple-cranberry.

It was fun to see the winners get their prizes and bask in the glow of victory, but there were many other great products that missed top honors for one reason or another, and those pie makers should be just as proud. This was some seriously good home cooking, and it disappeared quickly once the spectators got their plates, forks, and chance to eat.

The city's blogosphere was well represented. Betsy was explaining some of the finer points of life with teenagers, Nancy Rommelmann was on the scene with pen and notebook in hand, we were all proud to be part of the Summer of Bean, and I finally crossed paths in the real world with Byron Beck. Of course, Lelo of Nopo was busy as a bee in her role as one of the organizers and chief operating officers of the event (along with Radio Gretchen). And was that Bix we saw taking photos?

The eating and the socializing were more than enough reward for fulfilling our judging duties, but we also came away with an exquisite handmade pie cozy, courtesy of Gretchen's mom, who once again cracked the whip as judge wrangler.

We Portlanders like to tell ourselves -- too often, perhaps -- what a great city we live in. But when those comments were made again today, they were spot-on. The proof was in the pie pans, and in the hearts of the people in attendance.

A Saturday in August

Quite the scene yesterday at the Portland Parks Summer Swim League City Championship Meet, which was held at the gigantic aquatic center way out at Mount Hood Community College:

Congratulations to all the athletes and coaches, who put on a truly impressive show.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

How it's done

We have enough money for a new $110 million* bridge so that new commuter trains and bicycle riders can get from the empty canyons of SoWhat to the wasteland surrounding OMSI. But if you don't pay another $10 or $20 a year to register your car, we'll have to let the Sellwood Bridge, which carries more than 30,000 vehicles a day, fall down.

* - Liars' budget figure. Actual cost will be greater. Does not include finance charges.

Brandon Roy sighting

In the Business section, no less: His photo is illustrating this story, but he's never mentioned by name. A bigger version, with i.d., is here.

Still a gem

Remember Emilie Boyles, Portland's first "clean money" City Council candidate, who took taxpayer money for her campaign, broke nearly every rule in blowing it, and then skipped town leaving taxpayers holding the bag? When we saw that the President was in Montana yesterday for his health care town hall, we thought we'd check up on old Emilie, who was last seen as a "news anchor" on a tiny TV station in Glendive. But when we ran a Google search to obtain an update, we found that her personal site is on a malware watch.

"This site may harm your computer." Thanks, Google. If only you had been that smart and helpful in 2006.

Pie is nigh

I had fun last night appearing on KGW's "Live @ 7" show with the leaders of tomorrow afternoon's Second Annual Portland Pie-Off contest. Once again, I'll be one of the lucky few serving as judges.

We invited viewers to show up and enter their pie into the competition, to eat the entries after the official judging is finished, or both. The event starts at 1:00 tomorrow at beautiful Peninsula Park. Last year there were 49 pies; this year, there could be twice as many. Tasty stuff! Work up an appetite at Sunday Parkways in the morning; then come up north and enjoy one of the nicest events that summer in Portland has to offer. The eating probably won't start until after 2:00 -- maybe even as late as 3:00. But do be there before the pie is gone.

Thanks to Tracy Barry and the Channel 8 crew for creating an excuse to get our pie enjoyment started early.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The mystery tramp

Bob Dylan had an interesting time at the Jersey Shore earlier this summer.

In focus

A reader sends along your Cute Moment of the Week.

Have a great weekend

Don't drop it on your foot

This is enough to make any lover of Portland's beautiful old neighborhoods nervous: The city is getting ready to take a pretty big whack at its zoning code. A report on all the proposed changes runs 266 pages and includes 62 separate items. Here it is -- "shovel-ready," as it were -- courtesy of Sustainable Susan and the gang.

The "stakeholders" know what's in there -- they always get first dibs on city policy -- but do the rest of us?

More cages at OHSU

Their whole "shock the monkey" operation is about to get bigger.

Giving new meaning to the phrase "flip cam"

You knew it would surface: Somebody captured the fatal New York helicopter-plane crash on an amateur video. Pretty horrifying. But we all have a curiosity for the ugly, don't we? And so if you haven't seen it and want to, here it is.

Meanwhile, back in the bureaucratic world, more things that make you wonder...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Another few words for the historical footnote?

John Edwards is reportedly going to admit the obvious, and then maybe get indicted.

Keillor on newspapers

I'm an old media guy and I love newspapers, but they were brought down by a long period of gluttonous profits when they were run as monopolies by large, phlegmatic, semi-literate men who endowed schools of journalism that labored mightily to stamp out any style or originality and to create a cadre of reliable transcribers. That was their role, crushing writers and rolling them into cookie dough. Nobody who compares newspaper writing to the swashbuckling world of blogging can have any doubt where the future lies. Bloggers are writers who've been liberated from editors, and some of them take you back to the thrilling days of frontier journalism, before the colleges squashed the profession.
The rest of this nice essay can be found here.

He's bad, he's nationwide

When former Jail Blazer Zach Randolph was recently traded from the terrible Clippers to the even worse Grizzlies, we marveled that he got in and out of L.A. without running into trouble with the law. Maybe we spoke too soon. [Via Dwight Jaynes.]

Final curtain

The other day, when we celebrated the 100th anniversary of the birth of Leo Fender, we were careful to identify Fender as "one of the fathers of the electric guitar." This was our way of acknowledging the other father, Les Paul. Alas, today comes the news that Paul has died at age 94.

Paul was a player, a songwriter, and a major entertainer as well as an inventor of sound equipment. If you've got a Les Paul model guitar, play a gentle riff tonight in his memory.

Guess it *was* a crime

Lee Perlman, the local reporter who allegedly defaced a Sam Adams recall petition, has been arrested and charged with criminal mischief in connection with the incident.


[This text of this post, which linked to the Portland Pirate Festival site, is withdrawn while we check into reports that there's malware over there.]

No Snickers bars? Blame Peak Oil

The ethanol stampede is contributing to a sugar shortage. Big Food's answer? Relaxing import quotas and hurting the American farmer. It's either that, they say, or lay off some people currently making your Cocoa Puffs.

Warning: Sewage overflow in Portland

Forget the rain; we're talking about the local print media. First the O has Mark Larabee go out and sell the Burnside-Couch "couplet" as a traffic improvement, when logic compels the conclusion that it will do nothing but slow traffic down. He really lays it on thick. Most of the article reads as if a city p.r. flack wrote it. He also neglects to mention that the public right-of-way will be handed over to developer weasels in the process. A minor detail.

Transportation Sue pops in to complain about how long it takes to get through that intersection now. It has a bit of confessional tone to it, since it's her job to keep things moving. The Portland solution? Block the intersection with a condo bunker right in the middle of it! That will help expedite things.

Then over at the Daily Journal of Commerce, they have Tyler Graf try to sell the proposition that it was the recession that unexpectedly derailed the Burnside Bridgehead project. In fact, the project was planned and approved during boom times, after many months of intense public process, but it never went anywhere because it was botched by the Don Mazziotti version of the Portland Development Commission, and the Potter PDC was equally unable to get anything rolling once it picked up the pieces.

All the tall-tale-telling in the newspapers would be maddening if many people were paying attention. As it is, it's just sad.

Off the record

A while back our five-year-old got me thinking when she started a conversation with: "Now, Dad, you can't blog about this...." But apparently, she's in good company.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Move over, Mom and apple pie

At the meeting, Larry Miller, president of the Trail Blazers, pitched a vision of a unique entertainment district that would honor the city's African Americans, green living, war veterans and Nike...
What? No organized labor, gay people, Native Americans, or Latinos? It's amazing how many different ways you can try to sell a Hard Rock Cafe.

Paulson Kool-Aid: Beaverton mayor drinks deep

Now the City of Beaverton is paying for a formal appraisal of the privately owned property whose owner has said he will never sell for the new home for the Beavers baseball team. And so the city's either planning condemnation or wasting money. Either way, somebody out there is really hot to trot.

Little Lord Paulson and his henchmen sure know how to stroke the politicians' egos, don't they? When it all blows up and the mayor's career is trashed by the whole experience, do you think LLP will hold his hand? I doubt it.

Trouble on the Portland wi-fi front

Clear has hit some bumps in the road. You might not want to rip that cable off the house just yet.

Every breath you take

One of the things that the iPhone has reminded me is that the cell phone always knows where it is at any given time. As long as it's powered on, at least -- and I haven't powered it off since I got it. On the iPhone, I can see on a satellite photo where the system has the phone located -- and it's eerie. The darn thing even knows which part of the house it's sitting in.

Who has access to this information besides me? I shudder to think, but I'm assuming the worst. Therefore, I don't find this story as upsetting as some people might. I also would be surprised if the (cough) lovely folks (cough) at AT&T can't also see which applications I'm using.

Oh, well. Great inventions tend to come with a high cost.

Here we go again with the Barcelona bit

Portland's determined to have a bike-sharing program, even though the first one tried here promptly crashed and burned, and even though Paris is starting to prove that it's not feasible to maintain one over the long haul. There's going to be a "demonstration" of the idea at this weekend's Sunday Parkways in southeast Portland, and I'm sure that on a one-day basis, with staffers from four different bike rental firms hanging around all over the event, it will be wonderful.

A permanent program, however -- now that's a different kettle of tofu. Here's the come-on:

Bike sharing systems are automated, self-service bicycle rental systems that allow people to rent bikes, usually for a short period of time. Bike sharing bikes are placed at various locations in the city for use and drop-off. Paris and Barcelona instituted large-scale bike sharing systems that have proven very popular and dramatically increased bicycle ridership....

Although over 100 bike sharing systems are in use internationally, Washington DC and Montreal, Quebec are the only North American cities that have installed the latest iteration of bike sharing systems. Bikes are usually checked out by a credit card or Smart Card at an un-staffed kiosk adjacent to the parked bicycles.

Now, Barcelona is one of the few cities I've ever visited outside the United States, and I loved the place. But when Portland City Hall starts playing the Barcelona card, you know something dumb and expensive is about to happen. Remember when Goldschmidt was pushing extending the Park Blocks from the back of Nordstrom's all the way north to Burnside, enriching his cronies on either side? That was a Barcelona sell all the way. "It will be like the Ramblas!" Uh huh.

Anyway, bike sharing is the next free municipal wi-fi, folks. Play while it lasts, because it probably won't last long. Portlanders are always ready to believe that human nature doesn't apply here, but it most certainly does.

As for Sunday Parkways, if the northeast version is any indicator, you kind of need a bike to defend yourself, and rental wheels should work fine for the purpose.

Paulson's hot dog vendors to get a raise

And although this story is maddeningly sketchy about the economics of it all, it appears that the taxpayers of the City of Portland will be paying at least part of it.

Ditto for the people who work for the parking mafia. And security guards and custodians employed by private companies that contract with the city. And people who work for contractors with the parks bureau.

Just how many non-city employees' paychecks is the city topping off? Anybody know?

Beau Breedlove supports the Adams recall

Does this mean he has to give the envelopes full of cash back to Mayor Creepy?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Don't talk on your cell phone while...

... surfing?

Portland hospitality

From time to time our travels take us past a Pacific Power substation over in the Lloyd District. Years ago they put up some faux walls around part of it to make it a little less awful to look at, and we've often thought that other such installations around town could benefit from the same treatment.

Lately someone has added a message to one of the walls. We're still trying to puzzle out its meaning:


For a long time, I have admired the work of Lee Perlman, who covers local land use shenanigans for the Hollywood Star News and other local publications. But this is bizarre. Isn't what he reportedly did there a crime? It should be.

Use it or lose it

That mailbox on your corner.

Here come da judge

And he ain't in too good a mood today.

New money pit to open

The wasteful Burnside-Couch traffic "couplet" is having a "groundbreaking" tomorrow afternoon -- at least, the east side section of it. Sources report that Mayor Creepy and Fireman Randy are scheduled to be joined on the jackhammers by Beau Breedlove, Archbishop John Vlazny, Erik Sten, Don Mazziotti, and Merritt Paulson. Chris Smith is rehearsing an interpretive dance number, and Dan Saltzman will recite a limerick he made up in his office yesterday. In a show of bipartisanship, Sen. Ron Wyden (R-N.Y.) also will participate.

There'll be some blather about pedestrian safety, sustainable this-and-that, and economic development, but it's really all about the apartment towers that the City Hall boys and their developer friends are hoping to slap up in the neighborhood eventually.

If there was ever a time to hold off on unnecessary junk like this, which is coming out of local tax money, it's now. But hey -- this is Portland. On bad ideas such as this one, common sense is nowhere to be found.

Meanwhile, over on the west side of Coupletland, Mike Powell has slowed way down in his plans to redo his flagship store as some sort of palatial development. He has been one of the big pushers of the planned major rerouting of traffic over his way. Perhaps his selfless concerns about pedestrian safety will wane now as well.

Cash flow is not the same as well-being

Here's an elegant argument that our economists are pushing the wrong numbers.

Monday, August 10, 2009

"Fill it up, please"

"Would you like hot or cold?"

Another wasteful congressional junket

Brian Baird's back from the South Pole, but now Greg Walden and his wife are off on important official business in farookin' Mongolia. Maybe we'd be better off if they stayed there.

It's Leo Fender Day

Leo Fender, one of the fathers of the electric guitar and a member of the rock and country music halls of fame, was born 100 years ago today. If you've got one of this legendary California boy's products, crank it up and give it a wail tonight to celebrate.

For us tax types, there's an additional twist: the famous Fender Sales case, which is still cited today for several important propositions of tax law, decades after it was decided.

Anyway, here's to Leo and his fabulous work. We're sending out all our four chords in his honor.

Another Obama letdown

Signing statements. Sheesh.

The same, but not exactly

Parallels are being drawn between the current health care protesters and the anti-war protesters of the Bush years. There's at least one difference, though: The Democrats were protesting killing people, and the Republicans are protesting healing people.

Can't you feel 'em circlin', honey

There are some great white sharks in the waters off Oregon these days. Not surprising, in that the water felt a lot warmer at the end of last week than it did at the beginning. There's some bloody video here and still photos here.

These predators mostly eat seals and sea lions, and so if you're going into the water, you should try not to look like one of those. Experts advise that you try to look like a lawyer, so that they'll leave you alone out of professional courtesy.

Upstream Saturday night

A tree may grow in Brooklyn, but a fish ladder in the Bronx? As one might suspect, there's an Oregonian involved.

Freedom? Oregon's fair to middlin'

According to this study, the Beaver State is the 27th most free place in the country -- and freest on the West Coast. (Based on updated data, we moved up to 25th.) Our neighbor to the north came in at an abysmal 44th, and the folks to our south were 47th.

The study's criteria are sure to engender controversy -- no doubt intentionally so. There were four categories: fiscal policy, regulatory policy, economic freedom, and personal freedom. Oregon's rankings were 27, 38, 36, and 7, respectively. Yay, personal freedom! Now that smoking is banned in all public places, however, our ranking will likely tumble a bit the next time the authors take a look.

This is all harmless fun, of course -- just a couple of young political science profs writing articles to get tenure. But it is an interesting subject to consider. [Via Cousin Jim.]

Sunday, August 9, 2009

I'm all thumbs now

The whole iPhone thing is just the bomb. Tonight I watched the CBS Evening News telecast in the palm of my hand. I remember Dick Tracy's gadgets in the Sunday funnies -- some of this is far beyond what even he imagined.

We've been playing with various "apps" on the phone -- some of which we have discovered on our own, and others that friends have shown us. Lots of time-wasters in there, to be sure, but some extremely helpful programs as well. Experienced souls are invited to lob some suggestions our way.

I have a confession to make

[Via Tony.]

Boston is catching on

It may actually be possible to ride a bike there pretty soon.

Quick fixes

The economic slide looks like it might be slowing down a bit, but is this good news going to hold up over the long term? The federal government is literally handing out $8,000 to first-time homebuyers and $4,500 to people trading in old cars for new ones. With those kinds of gimmicks in play, of course things will seem a little less bleak.

For a while.

One of the big problems with American industry (or what's left of it) is that most executives are interested only in short-term profits, which fuel their compensation packages. It's not surprising that our elected officials are behaving much the same way.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

PC check

We grilled up a beautiful piece of sturgeon for dinner tonight. Is that bad?

Hold you in his armchair

Portland's latest public-private partner is truly an impressive fellow. But remember, he's got a great deal for us locals. A wonderful opportunity.

Turning point

Thirty-five years ago today, some serious American history was made. Were you alive then? Where were you when the news broke? As transfixed as I had been for many, many months by the Watergate scandals, when the actual resignation speech finally happened, I missed all the live media coverage of the event. You see, I was in the middle of one of those great cross-country road trips that can change a person's life, and it certainly did mine.

On the day in question, some good friends and I were camped out on a bluff somewhere near Winona, Minnesota -- high above the mighty Mississippi and the legendary Highway 61. We had heard just before we set out from Milwaukee that something big was up with Nixon, but that had become an almost weekly refrain at that point, and it didn't really register with any of us.

It was a beautiful afternoon and night, and overlooking the river, under the stars, watching the lights of the boats that plied the waters below us, we made our own news. It was there, I think, that I laughingly dubbed myself "Cowboy Jack," but like so many jokes it had more than a kernel of truth in it. The next day, we said goodbye to our Midwestern pals and hiked back down to our car, to head out toward the Badlands. We switched on the car radio, and the announcer was talking about "President-designate Ford." The three of us looked at each other through the haze of the night before and shouted "Holy s**t!"

It was just the beginning, of course. For a young person who had never been west of Philadelphia, the beauty of the American West expanded with every 100 miles we covered in my buddy's Plymouth Duster. Here he is at Rushmore:

A momentous time on so many levels. The road stretched all the way to L.A., and then over to Tucson, which was my traveling companions' destination. Adventure after adventure. I flew back to New Jersey from there, but the West had won me over, quite handily. Nixon was gone, but as far as the East Coast was concerned, as a practical matter so was I.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Brian Baird led junket to South Pole on taxpayers' dime

He's also been to the Galapagos Islands -- all to "study climate change." Quite the clown, I'd say.

Linchpin lost

The O is finally getting around to admitting that Portland's SoWhat "district" is an unmitigated financial disaster. And of course, they're sure to run the story on Saturday, when their paid circulation is around 812.

Even buried that way, it's at best a half-fast admission that things are not so rosy: "incredibly unlucky timing and the riverfront view into the nation's economic malaise... The John Ross and Atwater Place have not gone into default or foreclosure.... South Waterfront's troubles aren't unusual in a recession where credit is as hard to come by as a brunch table on a sunny Portland Sunday." Leaving the psychedelic simile aside, whitewashes like this one make me want to hurl an epithet.

Vibrant neighborhood, generous view corridors, biotech mecca, economic engine, "smart" living, international tourist attraction, housing for people from all walks of life -- it was all lies. Lies told by the developers, the OHSU money-mongers, the Goldschmidt people, the editorial board of the O, and the local politician puppets. They all should be run out of town over this -- but funny thing, they're pretty much all still hanging around. That, unfortunately, is classic Portland power.

Have a great weekend

Let the iPhones run free

It doesn't take long for the average iPhone user to discover there's a whole underground of applications for that gadget that Apple doesn't want you to have. And one can get it to do things that somebody doesn't want it to do. Life is complicated.

Paulson jobs spiel smells like baloney

A concerned reader writes:

I don't know if you saw this, buried near the bottom of Geoffrey Arnold's story in The O Thursday on the Timbers, but I thought you might be interested: "Paulson said the Timbers have 34 full-time workers and the full-time staff will number somewhere between 40 and 50 in 2011."

You may remember the claims that were being made about job creation when this stadium deal was first being floated. I think 300 was the number, in addition to the temporary construction jobs. Now, they're admitting it will be somewhere from six to 16 jobs.

With what appears to be the imminent loss of the Beavers (as well as any business they drum up for the neighborhood on the 72 dates they play), it seems that this entire fiasco will not only cost us money, but will also mean a net decrease in jobs.

Boy, if it weren't for the increased international prestige that our mayor promised, I would say this just isn't a good deal.

Me, too. But don't worry, reader. The world is going to be really impressed that Portland has "major league" (by U.S. standards) soccer. We're sure of it.

Reducing their footprint

[Via UtterlyBoring.com.]

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Spook spotlight

I don't get it. If the United States is going to bomb other countries with drone aircraft, why does the CIA have to do it? Don't we have an army or air force for these sorts of missions?

Rashard Lewis busted for 'roids

Or something like that. When the NBA's laughable drug-testing policy is enough to catch you, you've really screwed up.

Where are the regulator types when you need them?

Hard to believe, but the horse-drawn carriage industry in Portland is completely unregulated. It seems to us that if folks are going to drive horses on the city streets in 100-degree heat, there ought to be some rules. Somebody needs to buy Fireman Randy a book on this.

The hurled turgidity

Like many, I'm saddened to watch the O implode. But man, there are days when you have to wonder which planet some of these folks are from. Here's an example. The headline? "New Willamette bridge to span cyclist-pedestrian chasm." A bit overwrought, perhaps? Then the reporter throws in this stuff: The bridge "may carry motorless people in such a way as to eliminate scraped knees and the hurled epithet."

Maybe they'd do better if they insisted that everybody in the place write in English.

Whoa-oh, here she comes

I think it's safe to say the honeymoon is over.

Ridden in a town car lately?

Me neither. But here's an interesting throwdown in progress among the town car operators, cabbies, and the City of Portland.

Who needs cops when you can have condos?

Here's breaking news: The guy Mayor Creepy has put in charge of the Portland Development Commission -- you know, the same guy who runs Melvin Mark Properties downtown -- wants to "get as many new construction projects off the ground as soon as possible."

The massive amounts of public money needed for these projects will apparently fall from the sky shortly.

Our way of life threatened

Twitter is under attack!

Gentlemen, start your crust

There is just a little more than a week to go before the second annual Portland Pie-Off. You can do it! (If not bake it, then at least show up and eat it.)

OMG! Unobstructed views of the Willamette!

Only $363 a square foot! Imagine the inspiration when the sewage is running. And now, for your convenience, a "foreclosure group"! Maybe next time, it can be you!

Ya gotta love these people.


Just a little fire up at Hanford yesterday. Nothing to see here, folks -- just go on about your business.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

What's bad for GM is good for Congress

Private jets, that is.

Busy afternoon

Breakthrough for Burnside Bridgehead

Finally, some actual construction action at the long vacant Burnside Bridgehead site on the east side of Portland's Burnside Bridge. We're getting very close to the groundbreaking, folks. Excitement is building. It's going to be grand -- a brand new... wait for it...

... fence!

They're going to hire local artists "to reflect and highlight the creativity and industry of the Central Eastside Urban Renewal Area by making this a dynamic corner." Literally covering up the fact that the city can't even give away this lot. It's all part of the "couplet" madness that will have a condo bunker standing in the middle of the intersection of Burnside and Sandy. It's nice that we have this kind of money lying around.

Strike 2

Little Lord Paulson's Beaverton stadium dreams seem considerably less feasible today in light of this story.

Always wear protection

Here's one of those e-mail messages that everyone gets eventually. We're usually on the tail end of the circulation. But in case you haven't seen it yet, it's a 73-year-old veteran at an event at which prominent Democrats are speaking. (Depending on where you work, the photo may not be safe.)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Post Office deserting downtown Portland?

An alert reader sends along this list of Post Office branches that are under closure watch. In Portland (page 11), in addition to the Central Station at 5th and Pine, the Gus Solomon Courthouse branch is on the list (apparently, but misspelled). And of course, the Main Post Office is doomed to demolition for "urban renewal." Nobody seems to want to be downtown any more -- even the Postal Service. Brooklyn's also about to lose its branch. And so it goes in the internet world. Go by cell phone!

Look what's "for the children" now

Surveillance cameras in your home.

They probably use smart meters

Here's a heartless way to raise revenue.

Bubba gets it done

It looks as though Kim Jong-Il has gotten the attention he craves, at least for this week, and so the captive American journalists will be released.

I wonder how much Bill is charging for this.

Badge of dishonor

Eugene's public water company is dropping the phrase "Water Board" from the name of Lloyd Knox Water Board Park. Too much similarity to the torture technique of the same name. They considered leaving it in and changing "Lloyd Knox" to "Dick Cheney," but decided against it.

Why we love Wheeler

The guy is doing a bang-up job. Read his right-on comments about "urban renewal," here.

Maggot in the Apple

We're quite impressed with our iPhones, but not with this.

Monday, August 3, 2009

They don't like it, either

There's an anti-Paulson-stadium opinion piece in The Nation today. Among other things, the authors raise the question of who's going to get the naming rights to the city stadium once the PGE Park deal expires next year. That's money that belongs to the taxpayers.

Ain't nobody home

I'm not sure what to make of this one. The Portland metro area has come in at number 10 on Forbes's list of "America's abandoned cities." Overbuilt, for sure, but "abandoned"?

And certainly it's hard to square with the Portland planning mafia line: "So many people are going to move here, any minute now. Where will they all live? Time to start infilling your nice old neighborhood with cheesy apartment bunkers."

Revenge of the nerd

TRP's geeky ways come in handy decades later on the autograph-seeker line.

While the feds hand out money...

... they're collecting a whole lot less than usual. Here comes the $20 loaf of bread.

Loss of blood begins

Too funny. As we predicted here, the City of Beaverton is hiring Steve Janik to cut its deal with Little Lord Paulson over a new baseball stadium. But outdoing the Sam-Rand twins, Beaverton's also picking up lawyers from Chicago. Hey, when you're being taken to the cleaners, you may as well go in style.

Take me out to the shell game

More revelations about the sweethearts at AIG and their fixer, Henry Paulson.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Streetcar Kool-Aid

The taxpayers of San Antonio are about to take a drink.

It's Sunday afternoon -- don't forget to feed the meters

Several readers have pointed us to this story, about an apparent hack into smart parking meters. It looks as though the prepaid parking cards are the security weak spot. Does anybody know if the workaround would provide free parking in Portland?

Part of the "fun"

The daredevil bike riders known as the Zoobombers had a bad casualty up on Mount Hood yesterday. It's surprising that this reckless group has pretty much been officially sanctioned by the City of Portland. At least no innocent bystanders were dragged into the game, this time. We hope the injured rider recovers; we also hope that others see her story and decide not to put themselves in harm's way as she did.

Our home, cont'd

Is there anything better than a local band playing in an Oregon roadhouse? Locals gyrating around, small-scale drama all over, the cold summer beer flowing. Then they launch into "Little Wing" or John Hiatt's "Icy Blue Heart" and you know right away, this ain't bad. For tonight or any night.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Call me Huck

Today I did something I had done only once before, more than a decade ago: paddle around on a river in a kayak. Growing up in Newark, floating on the nearby rivers was something one would never consider doing. Of course, not knowing what I was doing, I cut a comical figure out there today. Thanks to the locals for not saying what they were thinking.

At the end of the trail

Some of the cronies and I had a good, long time to sit around and swap stories last night. Among these were several tales about cross-country drives that took place more than three decades ago. They reminded me of what a beautiful slice of the American West we enjoy in Portland. Whatever one thinks of the politics here, just about everything else about the place is truly special.

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