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

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December 2009 Archives

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Don't drive drunk tonight...

... but don't do this, either.

Tech Support Corner

A reader sends along this helpful exchange from an information technology website:

Dear Tech Support,

Last year I upgraded from Boyfriend 5.0 to Husband 1.0, and I noticed a distinct slowdown in the overall system performance, particularly in the flower and jewelry applications, which operated flawlessly under Boyfriend 5.0.

In addition, Husband 1.0 uninstalled many other valuable programs, such as Romance 9.5 and Personal Attention 6.5, and then installed undesirable programs such as News 5.0, Money 3.0 and Football 4.1.

Conversation 8.0 no longer runs, and Housecleaning 2.6 simply crashes the system.

Please note that I have tried running Nagging 5.3 to fix these problems, but to no avail. What can I do?

* * *

Dear Madam,

First, keep in mind, Boyfriend 5.0 is an entertainment package, while Husband 1.0 is an operating system.

Please enter command: ithoughtyoulovedme.html and try to download Tears 6.2 and do not forget to install the Guilt 3.0 update.

If that application works as designed, Husband 1.0 should then automatically run the applications Jewelry 2.0 and Flowers 3.5.

However, remember, overuse of the above application can cause Husband 1.0 to default to Silence 2.5 or Beer 6.1.

Please note that Beer 6.1 is a very bad program that will download the Snoring Loudly Beta.

Whatever you do, DO NOT under any circumstances install Mother-In-Law 1.0 (it runs a virus in the background that will eventually seize control of all your system resources.)

In addition, please do not attempt to reinstall the Boyfriend 5.0 program. These are unsupported applications and will crash Husband 1.0.

In summary, Husband 1.0 is a great program, but it does have limited memory and cannot learn new applications quickly. You might consider buying additional software to improve memory and performance. We recommend: Cooking 3.0 and Good Looks 7.7.

Good luck, Madam!

Frae morning sun till dine

As we ponder where we've been and where we're going, here's a place that's neither. Check out this fellow -- taking down our neighbor's big tree, limb by limb, in this morning's hard 37-degree rain:

Hats off to the working man.

Farewell, 2009

It's been a heck of a year to end a heck of a decade -- probably the most action-packed decade of the five-plus we've lived through. And much of the action was not uplifting. Fortunately at our house, it was the decade in which we became parents, and so there's been more than enough light to illuminate what for much of the world has been a dark time.

Here's to a perfect '10, and the will, human and divine, to make it so.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Playing it safe

I see the weather forecasters have a "chance" of snow in tonight's prediction for the Portland metro area. Having missed yesterday's snow and taking tons of flak for it today, they'll probably mention the possibility of snow in every forecast from now until Easter.

Have a great holiday weekend

A loss to the blogosphere

One of our favorite blogs is fading with the old year -- our friend TRP says he's knocking off blogging, in large part because he can get a lot of the same outlet from Facebook and Twitter. That's the first site that's fallen off our blogroll due to the rise of the "social media," and it probably won't be last.

Paulson stadium deal -- on the sneak?

The wheeling and dealing continues behind closed doors between the City of Portland and Little Lord Paulson for the ghastly expensive re-renovation of PGE Park (which he'll probably get the right to rename) for soccer. The City Council is scheduled to pass some zoning amendments relating to the stadium first thing next Wednesday. And in a recent letter to the Fish from Paulson himself, he points out that he and the city are currently hard at work to "finalize the final terms" of the financial deal, in which he'll get full control over the selection of the contractor and many other aspects of the project, and his father's buddies will get to lend the city the eight figures to pay the city's share of the construction costs.

Check out the letter. "Finalize the final terms" -- you've got to love language like that. "Finalize" is there to pressure the lambs on the city side into thinking that they now have to agree to something with the Paulson family -- if they don't, they'll be sued. And the "final terms" is there to signal that the Paulson pirates will be enforcing their contract rights in the future to their fullest extent.

There's something about the way this fellow talks and thinks that gives one the strong impression that large mistakes are about to be made, and that a major dispute with him -- probably in court -- is about two or three years away. Even if the "major" soccer league (by U.S. standards) survives that long, my intuition tells me that there is going to be some serious financial carnage on the Portland stadium deal. Normally one would think that if there's a screwup, the contract would leave the city holding the bag. Certainly that's the way Homer Williams and the Gerding Edlen boys always had things wired on deals like the Pearl and the SoWhat District. But they were smart guys who had been around the block on stuff like this more than a few times -- the same cannot be said for Henry III. Between him and the genius that is Sam & Randy, they'll probably leave ultimate financial responsibility in some sort of vague gray area -- which will eventually make some trial lawyers more than a little richer.

Paulson's letter says that the "development agreement" will be voted on by the City Council in January, and that construction will start in February. This seems quite dubious. The city couldn't possibly borrow the money fast enough to make that happen, and on this particular borrowing, there's a more than negligible threat that a petition drive could force the matter onto a citywide ballot. Maybe they'll start ripping up PGE Park before the city has its mortgage money -- nothing would surprise me on this deal -- but if they wait for the bonds, I would think we're talking spring break or thereabouts. Most likely, the February start is just another empty statement from a veritable font of empty statements over many months.

The strong warning signs flashed by the reality detach here makes the terms of the pending contract all the more important, of course. And it's disturbing that the talks are taking so long, with little or no public discussion of what's hanging them up.

What are the points of negotiation between the city and Paulson at this stage of the game? Has anybody in the media asked? Why can't the public know about them? Could it be that public scrutiny isn't really desired by the City Council? One would hope that a complicated deal like this fiasco-in-the-making would be thoroughly aired before a council vote, but more likely they'll show people the deal on Tuesday and vote for it on Wednesday. That's the Sam-Rand way.

Start making sense

Think Portland would ever consider buying some of this? I doubt it -- after all, it actually works.

Snowpocalypse hangs on

As Portland goes to sleep, the snow on the ground, having turned mostly to slush, may now be re-freezing, which could make the morning pretty interesting. Or not -- right now the thermometer reads exactly 32, when the forecast low was 34. Stay tuned to bojack.org Storm Center 9000.2 -- when it comes to weather information, we're almost as good as walking out on the porch.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Facebook is not a waste of time

Here's a guy who's getting things done on it.

More photo coverage from Storm Center 9000.2

The surprise winter storm that has crippled the Portland metropolitan area rages on. Here's a photo of conditions a few hours ago here in Northeast Portland. You can see the suffering that the weather is causing:

The snow was extremely wet -- perfect for certain types of violent activity. If you venture outside, you might get hit with a snowball by a neighborhood kid. You might even laugh. Don't let it happen! Remain indoors and stay riveted to bojack.org for all the latest news.

Neither rain nor snow nor sleet keeps these 'dogs from playing

Here are the lines for this Sunday's games in our charity pro football underdog pool. This is the last week of the regular season, and as is usual at this juncture, there are some teams who must win to make the playoffs; some teams that have nothing to win or lose because they've been so weak all season; and others that are coasting because they've clinched a top spot in the post-season. It may make for a difficult week for our prognosticators, and it's a crucial one. When the playoffs get here a week from now, there will be far fewer games and likely much closer point spreads.

Anyway, as usual, the object of our game is to pick an underdog (in caps) that will win its game outright, without the benefit of the spread:

13 KANSAS CITY at Denver
10.5 OAKLAND vs. Baltimore
8.5 NY GIANTS at Minnesota
7.5 NEW ENGLAND at Houston
7 ST. LOUIS vs. San Francisco
4 SEATTLE vs. Tennessee
3.5 WASHINGTON at San Diego
3 DETROIT vs. Chicago
3 MIAMI vs. Pittsburgh
3 GREEN BAY at Arizona
2 TAMPA BAY vs. Atlanta
1.5 JACKSONVILLE at Cleveland

No New Orleans at Carolina just yet -- but it may join the slate if a money line is available by Thursday.

Our standings are here. Readers, let's have some choice advice -- it's needed now more than ever. And good luck, players.

Updated forecast calls for more weather

Caught by surprise by today's snowstorm (as usual), Portland's TV meteorologists now have a better handle on the area's weather conditions and have issued a revised forecast for tonight. Computer models now clearly show that the snow will turn to rain in a few hours, unless it keeps snowing, in which case the precipitation will remain frozen. Eventually, it will melt, but until then, be alert for snowy conditions.

Do not go outdoors. Boil your water. And stay tuned to bojack.org Storm Center 9000.2 for all the latest updates.

Photo coverage of deadly storm

Our live coverage of the surprise winter storm that has dumped up to ¼-inch of snow in some parts of Portland continues, with photos just arriving at the Storm Center. Here you can see the rapidly deteriorating conditions outside:

Despite warnings from authorities to remain indoors and stay off the treacherous roads, some motorists defy all logic and take to the streets. Here's one fighting through the hazards:

Perhaps most distressingly, we have been receiving reports of frightened, confused wildlife seeking shelter from the fury of the storm:

Stay tuned to bojack.org Storm Center 9000.2 for further details. Remain calm. Do not go outdoors. Cease all normal activity until the threat passes, which officials warn could take weeks.

Urgent weather alert!

We interrupt our normal flow of blog posts for breaking news: It is snowing in Portland. Repeat: Snowing. In Portland.

Preliminary reports indicate that the snow is white and very cold. The state meteorologist at Portland State University warns that if the ground gets cold enough, the snow will stick to it, and it will become slippery.

Fireman Randy just issued the following advisory from City Hall: "If only we had an eight-figure computerized emergency alert system, we could be calling people right now to tell them that it's snowing. This would be a life-saving resource for people who don't look out their windows."

Remain calm. Do not go outdoors. Boil your water. Stay tuned to bojack.org Storm Center 9000.2 for further updates.

UPDATE, 3:09 p.m.: This potentially deadly storm continues to have major impacts on the lives of Portlanders. At the Storm Center, we have just learned that all schools in the area have been closed for the rest of the year.

Another $200K flushed

Here's another royal screwup by a city bureau run by the fellow who's now Portland's illustrious mayor -- and his good-looking, but largely inept, staff.

Is Portland throwing SoWhat under the train?

Portland's South Waterfront District (SoWhat for short) has been an unmitigated disaster for everyone who dealt with the people who pushed it -- the pushers being the developer weasels, Vera Katz (via her economic development "expert" Sam the Tram), and OHSU. The investors who bought into the condo towers, the banks who financed them, the suckers who bought condo units, the taxpayers of the city and state -- all have wound up with the opposite of what they were promised. Vibrant neighborhood? Economic engine? Biotech center? Property tax generator? Dream on. Just a bunch of ugly, oversized, half-empty buildings wrecking the nearby Lair Hill neighborhood and pouring tons of once-good money down a rat hole.

Now it looks as though the city has lost all hope of the district ever succeeding. They're raiding property taxes and developer charges from SoWhat and handing them over for the light rail bridge that will extend the MAX trains from downtown to suburban Milwaukie. The citizens' advisory group for SoWhat is pretty worked up about it, and they've written this letter in protest.

They're right, of course. A couple of light rail stations aren't going to do a darn thing for SoWhat. But this patient is terminal. Maybe the folks at City Hall have decided to pull the plug.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Da Bearss make good 'dogs

A thrilling Monday night football game made three of our charity pool players happy. Hank, Rick, and Andy all chose Chicago over Minnesota. Along with wins for our players this weekend by Tampa Bay, Houston, and San Diego, our standings line up as follows with just one game left in the regular season (and then three weeks of playoffs):

genop's mom - 36.5
Rick - 33.5
Hank - 33
Gordon - 30
Mark - 28.5
Doug - 28
Michael W. - 24
genop - 21.5
Andy - 21
Bad Brad - 20
Robert - 20
jmh - 15.5
Dan - 15
George - 14.5
Kevin - 13
Gary - 10.5
Michael K. - 9
Annie - 7
Sidney - 0
Flynn - 0

As you can see, things are mighty tight at the top, with the final three top finishers getting bragging rights (and their favorite charities some dough).

Lines for the first games of the new year -- last of the regular season -- will be ready tomorrow evening or Wednesday morning.

"Linksys" just won't do

When you set up a wireless network in your house, you're supposed to figure out a creative name for the network that you'll recognize, but that others in the neighborhood won't know is you. Over on failblog.org, we see that our own efforts in this regard have been woefully inadequate.

There's still plenty of time

It's been a month of tired sports clichés pouring relentlessly out of our TV set. When the Blazers lost one player after another to injury, the team's dreadful color commentators inundated us with the oft-repeated observation that "now other guys are gonna have to step up." Yesterday during pro football, when the discussion turned to playoff scenarios, we were reminded again and again who "controls their own destiny," or who would do so if this or that happened.

Some newcomers ought to take over the sports airwaves and inject some new life into the language. It could use it. I mean, come on -- on Sundays we're still having our brains turned to mush by the voice of Dick Enberg, who used to call the gladiators in the Roman Coliseum. There was one fresh new revelation yesterday, though: If you're hoping to lose some weight after the holidays, you need to eat at Taco Bell. I am not making this up.

New zoo boss being named today

Portland's "unique" Metro government is announcing the new director of its Oregon Zoo later this morning. Metro officials are mum about the identity of the new director, named after a national search, but well placed sources say it's this guy.

UPDATE, 12:24 p.m.: Only kidding! It's Kim Smith, from Chicago. Here she is on her first day on the job in Portland, getting a royal welcome from Greg Oden.

Is Tri-Met pushback finally starting?

It looks as though the modern-day equivalent of the Portland hippies are planning a good old-fashioned protest against the latest moves by the management of Tri-Met -- gutting bus service in a transparent attempt to force transit riders onto expensive trains that go where the local real estate developers tell them to. The far-lefties say they'll be staging some civil disobedience later in the week to protest this coming weekend's replacement of Fareless Square, which for decades has provided free bus and train rides in the downtown core, with a "free rail" zone, in which only the condo-shilling streetcars and gangster light rail will be free in that area.

The killing of Fareless Square is but a symptom of the problems that the protesters are complaining about. They say the general manager of Tri-Met, Crocodile Hansen, is overpaid; that his captive board of directors don't know what they're doing; and that the governor has stocked the board with political appointees to use the transit agency to further the agenda of himself and the Portland Old Money. The protesters think the Tri-Met board ought to be elected directly by the public.

You tell 'em, kids.

They're also putting Mike Powell of Powell's Books on the spot -- he's a big streetcar proponent who at least until recently had dollar signs in his eyes regarding his own real estate holdings. So far, he's got the protesters guessing which side he's on in the Fareless Square controversy; it will be interesting to see where that all shakes out.

Unfortunately, the marchers are going to be putting a major "class war" spin on the whole issue, which will probably turn enough people off that the protest won't get anywhere. I wouldn't be surprised if something ugly happens -- childish vandalism, a Humphrey-esque arrest or two, that sort of thing. But people with bullhorns chanting on the transit mall about Hansen's salary and the anemic Tri-Met board? That's great theater, and a seriously good sign for Portland.

Musical interlude

Where have all the dollars gone?
Long time passing
Where have all the dollars gone?
Long time ago
Where have all the dollars gone?
Gone for linchpins every one
When will they ever learn?
When will they ever learn?

Sunday, December 27, 2009

One sign that it's a bad day

You're cruising around on Facebook when you notice that your spouse is divorcing you.

Yule love these 'dogs

There are lots of games in play today as the contestants in our charity pro football underdog pool have made their prognostications. Here's who's got whom -- to win the listed points, the player's pick (in caps) must pull off the upset, without the benefit of any point spread:

14 TAMPA BAY at New Orleans - Mark, Gordon
14 ST. LOUIS at Arizona - Dan
13.5 KANSAS CITY at Cincinnati - Bad Brad, Flynn
12.5 DETROIT at San Francisco - Kevin, Gary
9 BUFFALO at Atlanta - Michael W., Robert
7 DENVER at Philadelphia - Annie, Sidney, Michael K.
7 CHICAGO vs. Minnesota (tomorrow evening) - Rick, Hank, Andy
6.5 WASHINGTON vs. Dallas (this evening) - George
3 SAN DIEGO at Tennessee (Friday, already a winner) - genop
3 HOUSTON at Miami - genop's mom
2.5 BALTIMORE at Pittsburgh - jmh

And here are this week's orphan games:

14 SEATTLE at Green Bay
8 JACKSONVILLE at New England
7 CAROLINA at NY Giants
5 NY JETS at Indianapolis
3 OAKLAND at Cleveland

We've got no pick from Doug on the board, and so he sits out this week. Everybody else, please let me know if anything looks amiss.

The standings are here, but don't forget to add 3 to genop's total for San Diego. He's in sixth place as of the wee hours of this morning.

Good luck, players, and enjoy the wintry games.

UPDATE, 1:10 p.m.: A big win for Mark and Gordon as Tampa Bay edges New Orleans in overtime. Both rocket into contention. Our leader, genop's mom, picks up 3 with Houston. Kansas City and Baltimore tease, but do not deliver. On to the second games, where I've got Detroit for a miracle at Candlestick.

UPDATE, 4:50 p.m.: No winners in the second games, although Denver gave it quite a run. On to the night games!

UPDATE, 9:38 p.m.: No winner Sunday night, as the Redskins were shut out.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Rock steady

Here's a Portlander making a big splash.

Yuletide story

The guy who used to drink cognac at halftimes of games that he played in says he "tripped over a box" at home and fell down the stairs after his team's Christmas drubbing yesterday. Whatever happened, he has a concussion plus stitches to show for it. And he'll disappoint his fantasy team owners around the globe by not playing tonight.

No word on whether Tiger Woods's wife tried to rescue him.

Barn door sealed shut after horse leaves

Now you won't be able to have anything on your lap, or get up, during the last hour of a flight. And don't carry anything on board if you can help it! Nudists are rejoicing, though -- their day is coming soon.

Pass the A-1 Sauce

We've known forever that tanning beds are bad for you, but some places are worse than others.

Turning point

This Paul Krugman blog post reminds us of what was going on on this day 233 years ago.

Two turtle doves

Today is the Feast of Stephen, and one of our favorite days on the calendar. Christmas is still very much in evidence, but the pressure's off and we can relax. (The relaxing starts at our place some time later in the day on the 25th.) On Stephenmas, there are still some gifts lingering under the tree, but they're becoming familiar possessions already. They have found their new homes.

It's a day to catch one's bearings. At some point on a day like this, we find ourselves thinking, "O.k., so what day of the week is it? And where the heck are we?"

Christmas reminds us a little bit of the Olympics. All the pageantry and buildup, but then it's over quick. It's an amazing spectacle, and expensive, with a lot of high-quality talent, but the best athletes don't always compete well. They show off what they can do, they enjoy and appreciate the many talents of others, but there's an inordinate amount of pressure placed on doing things that, at root, are pretty ordinary. A few performers set personal bests, but many more don't.

Today's also the day on which we celebrate the story about the 10th Century duke of Bohemia who set out to feed a poor man who was struggling just to stay warm. The weather was bitter cold, but there was a fire in the duke that kept him on his mission. Until this morning, I hadn't sung that one all the way through in many years. It's probably a better way to spend time on a day like this than standing on the customer service line at a retail store:

Asked and answered

Friday, December 25, 2009

Special report

We interrupt Christmas merriment (and dozing) for an important charity pro football pool update: Genop has picked the Chargers at Tennessee tonight, for a possible 3 points. He's currently 8 points out of the "money" and 15 points behind his mom, who leads the pool with an impressive 33.5.

I can't believe they're playing pro football on Christmas night and showing it only on pay-per-view. The closest I'll be getting is here.

Anyway -- you other players, don't forget to make your selection and get it to me by 11:59 p.m. tomorrow.

UPDATE, 12/26, 1:02 a.m.: San Diego won easily, moving genop up, with the rest of the crew still to play this week.

Also, an important note in the standings: Michael W. correctly points out that he picked Oakland in last weekend's major upset, netting him an additional 14 points above those listed in the standings as previously published. He's in fifth place, with genop now right behind him. Sorry about the oversight.

Merry Christmas

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord. This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger." Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests." When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about." So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Sleep tight

34 Cortland Street
Newark, New Jersey

December 24, 1958

Prior to the play, unnecessary roughness

Still first down.

Chris Dudley's taxes

The kids on BlueOregon are speculating about, among other things, the tax planning that Republican gubernatorial candidate Chris Dudley may have engaged in years ago when he was playing pro basketball. At one point in the discussion, one of them notes that I might actually be able to contribute something to it. That invitation seemed to have vanished overnight and reappeared this morning -- maybe I somehow missed it -- but in any event, here's what I think about the fact (as asserted on BlueOregon, at least) that Dudley lived in Camas, Washington while he was a Blazer.

It probably did save him a fair amount of state income tax overall, and it certainly resulted in Oregon collecting a lot less tax from him during those years than it would have if he had lived in, say, the Dunthorpe section of Portland. Washington, of course, has no income tax. But there was nothing "evasive" about it. Situating one's residence to avoid taxes is perfectly legal.

Here is the long version of the story:

If Dudley had lived in Oregon: Oregon taxes Oregon residents on their worldwide income. If another state actually collects tax from an Oregonian on the same income that Oregon taxes, Oregon gives credit for the tax that the other state got. But (a) few, if any states, have higher income taxes than Oregon, and thus Oregon virtually always gets a piece; and (b) Arizona, California, Indiana, and Virginia would not collect tax from an Oregon resident on income earned in those states -- Oregon would get its full pound of flesh there. (The Blazers play many games each year in California.)

And so if Dudley had resided in Oregon, he would have paid state income tax, to some state or other, at Oregon's high rates, on all of his income. Oregon would have gotten by far the lion's share of the tax, but not all of it. Some of it would have gone to places like Utah, Colorado, New Jersey, etc. But with its high rates, Oregon would likely have gotten a piece of the income Dudley earned from every game.

So what happened with Dudley (reportedly) as a Washington resident? He would clearly have been taxed in Oregon on more than half of his salary as a Blazer. On the income he earned in other states (less than half), however, Oregon probably would not have touched it. Oregon taxes nonresidents only on their Oregon-source income, and for road games outside Oregon, that's most likely considered non-Oregon-source. The Oregon nonresident tax form instructions explain:

If you have wages from an Oregon employer and you performed services for your employer in Oregon and another state while you were a nonresident, and your Oregon wages are not stated separately on your W-2, compute your Oregon source income using the following formula:

(Days actually worked in Oregon / Days actually worked everywhere) × Total wages = Oregon wages

Other states that have an income tax doubtlessly taxed some of Dudley's income, attributable to the games he played (and days he practiced) in those states. But as noted earlier, their rates are lower than Oregon's. And some NBA states besides Washington have no income tax at all -- Texas, Florida, and Tennessee.

Income from investments:
As an Oregon resident, Dudley would have been taxed in Oregon on all of his investment income. One can only assume that a guy at his income level has a fair amount of investment income. As a Washington resident, he probably wasn't taxed by any state on any of it.

Sales tax: Dudley probably paid quite a bit of sales tax, mostly in Washington but also a little in other states, during his years as an NBA player. Had he lived in Oregon, he probably would not have paid anywhere near as much sales tax.

The bottom line: Dudley probably saved a lot of state income tax by living in Washington State. His salary in his Blazer years ranged from $790,000 to $7.2 million, and so even a savings of 2 or 3 percent would dwarf most people's gross salaries for some of those years.

But of course, there are tradeoffs -- to be taxed as a Camas resident, you have to live in Camas! Head up there on I-205 some weekday afternoon at 5 and you'll see what I mean.

I don't hold smart tax planning against Dudley. I doubt I'll vote for him, but at least he has some common sense about money -- more so than fully two-thirds of the bobbleheads currently serving in the state legislature.

Trade Brandon Roy

Only kidding. But with all the other injuries decimating the Blazers' roster, they could hardly afford to have him sit out a game with a shoulder problem. Yet that's what happened last night. Despite this major handicap, the Blazers beat the Spurs in San Antonio, for their second improbable win in as many nights in Texas. Jerryd Bayless went nuts and scored 31 points playing Roy's position for 42 minutes. Juwan Howard added 12 points and 12 rebounds; LaMarcus Aldridge posted 22 and 8. The Spurs looked pretty creaky, while the younger Portland team just kept coming at them.

The Blazers host arch-rival Denver on Christmas night. The Nuggets have been without their quarterback, Chauncey Billups, who's had a strained groin. Last night Denver beat Atlanta, who had already won both their games against the Blazers back in November. But that was the healthy Blazers. The beat-up Blazers may be a better team.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Have a great holiday weekend

We know those guys

We're in the thick of sending out donation checks and acknowledgments from our Buck-a-Hit Day charity fundraiser when we come across this article about one of our seven benefited charities. A nice story -- let's hope that success doesn't go to their heads.

Speaking of charities, our buddies at Willy Week still have their fund drive going. If you missed our Buck-a-Hit Day, which they kindly pointed their readers to, maybe you could head on over there and drop a buck in their bucket.

Cracks developing in Fake New York facade

Two years in the Pearl District was enough for Eddie Bauer.

A Christmas sting

If you're headed down SE 17th toward Milwaukie around midday today, you might want to watch out for this activity. Given the crazy drivers out there this week, they'll be busy.

A thought for the season

The perfect holiday gift: Give money in your loved one's name to the Portland city government.

Hey, it's something.

Somebody else needs clubbing

I've grown quite weary of stories about Tiger Woods. But this one says more to me about the National Enquirer than anything else.

Writhe with us, cont'd

If the Blazers' season wasn't already over, it pretty much ended last night. I was at the Rose Garden yesterday doing some Christmas shopping in the fan store. There were no locusts in evidence there yet, but it appears they are next.

It was a nice win, but with only softie LaMarcus, grandpa Juwan, and the new kid Pendergraph underneath the basket, the Blazers are going to get their heads handed to them by many teams that have, you know, an actual inside game. A playoff berth for one of the upstart teams in the West -- Memphis or Sacramento or Oklahoma City -- looks more likely all the time.

'Dogs rest ye merry, gentlemen

Yes, Virginia, there is pro football on Christmas, and the Sunday after as well. Thus, it behooves the players in our charity pro football underdog pool to try to divine which underdog team (in caps below) can win its game outright, without benefit of the point spread:

14 TAMPA BAY at New Orleans
14 SEATTLE at Green Bay
14 ST. LOUIS at Arizona
13.5 KANSAS CITY at Cincinnati
12.5 DETROIT at San Francisco
9 BUFFALO at Atlanta
8 JACKSONVILLE at New England
7 DENVER at Philadelphia
7 CAROLINA at NY Giants
7 CHICAGO vs. Minnesota
6.5 WASHINGTON vs. Dallas
5 NY JETS at Indianapolis
3 OAKLAND at Cleveland
3 SAN DIEGO at Tennessee (Friday 4:30 PM PST)
3 HOUSTON at Miami
2.5 BALTIMORE at Pittsburgh

We still have quite a race going for bragging rights, and the right to designate the destination of our charity pool funds. The top three finishers receive those honors. Our standings are here; with the large points that players can rack up in some games this weekend, the identities of the final top three are far from clear. After this, there is one last week of regular season games, and then three weeks of playoffs.

Players, please note that the holiday may provide a huge distraction, and so please don't miss the deadline (strictly enforced) of 11:59 p.m. Saturday for me to have your pick in hand. If you choose San Diego, I must have that pick by kickoff time on Christmas afternoon (noted above).

It's a crucial weekend for the pool, and so readers' advice will no doubt be especially appreciated. Which teams have something to play for besides pride? Which teams have given up? Which teams are going to coast?

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

What's that thing on the Tri-Met buses?

A reader writes (and we've since confirmed with our own eyes):

I notice on the new Tri Met buses there is some sort of gizmo on the top, above the windshield, that appears to be a strobe of some sort. Strobes such as these are used by police and other emergency vehicles to change red lights to green. Is Tri Met trying to pull something?
I don't know what they'd be "pulling," but it would interesting to know what those gadgets do. Perhaps they beam a signal to Crocodile Hansen in Copenhagen or Sydney when a new payroll tax increase is needed.

Law firm bails on iPhone

They say it has too many security problems.

Creative class strategy: epic fail

Why anybody would trust a big city's economy to spendthrifts like Mayor Creepy and Fireman Randy is just one of those Portland mysteries. The mayor's laughably unqualified staff announces one bombastic "plan" after another, but they don't go anywhere, and they aren't going to. I hate to sound like a tighty righty, but it is evident that pretty soon the only family-wage jobs in the city are going to be nonprofit and government jobs. And then the government pensions are going to start eating up those even faster than they are now. Not a recipe for success. But hey! They're taking a survey! That ought to help.

Bring Phil Jackson to Portland?

Looks like he's unhappy in L.A. Plus, he's a Montana boy; this is the second closest NBA team to his hometown. (And I don't see him in Utah.) He'd have the Blazers in the finals within two years. [Via Dwight.]

Veal mutilata

Here's a story that makes one of our readers ask, "WTF?"

Mayor Creepy shows you how to make cheese

When the City of Portland goes bankrupt and they're trying to remember where all the money went, don't forget the advanced chicken and beekeeping classes. I wonder when they'll get around to offering courses on street paving.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Welcome to our Cyber-office Christmas Party

No way out

When they put one of those gizmos in your car that track your every move in order to tax you for moving, you'll still be able to protect your privacy by taking mass transit, right?

Stay off my dang roof

Stay tuned for some serious comedy

The "strippermobile" is coming to Portland!

Strippermobile Winter Tour 2010 will be filmed, and Beard hopes to have it broadcast on cable television. It might need to be on adult on-demand channels though, because the itinerary includes Portland, Ore. Beard says the decency laws there are lax, so the dancers will be nude during that stretch of the trip....

The strippermobile will then go up the coast, lingering in Portland for some extra exposure.

“You can be naked up there on the street so long as you’re not aroused and not arousing anyone,” Beard contends.

We can't wait to watch Fireman Randy's take on this one. How will he try to shut it down? It's just a naked bike ride with a motor, right? Especially if they agree to run the truck on bio-diesel.

Portland needs a Linchpins Anonymous

The real estate people in Portland really are ga-ga. Check out this doozy, in the middle of a deep economic trough and nothing but a jobless recovery in sight, if that:

Nevertheless, LAB hopes to turn the former industrial site-comprised of warehouses, grain elevators and a seven-story flour mill, all built between 1910 and 1940-into a culinary attraction, with restaurants, a farmer’s market, wine shops and even light food manufacturing.
Oh yeah, there's a winner. They'd probably be better off leveling the lot and rolling in some $4 burrito carts.

It ain't just the pilings that are rotten -- it's the business plan, too.

Of course, if people want to throw their money at pipedreams, it's nobody else's business. But this is Portland; I smell public funds and tons of bureaucrat time here. I shudder to ask.

Working 'round the clock to screw this up

I see that the toupees of the United States Senate are making a big dramatic scene in their health care show. "We worked all night in the blizzard! We're staying until Christmas Eve!" I don't know who they think they're impressing -- their drug company bosses, apparently.

I suspect they're staying in Washington so that they don't have to listen to their constituents tell them what they think of them.

One interesting feature of the latest game of charades is that they're trying to disguise the pork that they're throwing in to buy votes. Here's one such item that caught my eye:

Another provision would give $100 million to an unnamed “health care facility” affiliated with an academic health center at a public research university in a state where there is only one public medical and dental school.
That couldn't be OHSU, and they're paying off Gatsby Wyden, could it?

Buying Wild Oats was a bad call

So says the Whole Foods boss:

It's unfortunate for us that we had made the decision to acquire Wild Oats when we did. We bought that company at the peak before everything came crashing down, or we obviously would have paid less. We didn't realize of course that the Federal Trade Commission was going to try to block it.

In order to do that acquisition, the company took a lot of debt on, and at the wrong time, right before the downturn came. So when everything seemed to be falling apart last September, we were worried, and our sales were falling off the edge of the world. We were very concerned that, gosh, where's the bottom here?

And we were a little worried we weren't going to have enough money. Because we'd taken all that debt on and our sales were plummeting, it was like, wow, we need more capital. So we made that decision fairly quickly to go raise money in the private equity market, and we raised $425 million from Leonard Green (a Los Angeles private equity firm).

But it was more or less like we were buying an insurance policy. In case the worst-case scenario came about, we wanted to make sure we survived.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Some big 'dogs come through

It was an action-packed weekend in our charity pro football underdog pool, and with no one playing tomorrow night's game, we can wrap the week up. Genop's mom leaps into the lead with a second monster pick in as many weeks -- she and Andy get 14 with Oakland. [UPDATE, 12/26, 1:11 a.m.: And I missed Michael W.'s Oakland pick; he, too, gets 14.] Hank stays in the thick of things with 9 points for Carolina, and jmh and Michael K. scoop up six for Atlanta. Here are the new [updated to correct the Michael W. omission] standings:

genop's mom - 33.5
Doug - 28
Rick - 26.5
Hank - 26
Michael W. - 24
Bad Brad - 20
Robert - 20
genop - 18.5
Gordon - 16
jmh - 15.5
Dan - 15
Mark - 14.5
George - 14.5
Andy - 14
Kevin - 13
Gary - 10.5
Michael K. - 9
Annie - 7
Sidney - 0
Flynn - 0

We've got two more weeks of regular-season games to go, and then three weeks of playoffs. The playoffs have far fewer games, and few if any big spreads -- and so the next two weeks are going to be of great importance. First through third places get to designate dollars to their favorite charities: $300, $75, and $45. Plus priceless bragging rights.

We'll have the Christmas week lines Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning.

Coming soon to YouTube: federal trials

Trials of civil cases in federal courts on the West Coast will soon be televised, according to this press release. Wow, wouldn't it be something if the Chasse-Humphreys trial -- which is going to get moved out of Portland -- were beamed back from Boise or Sacramento or wherever, on video? Alas, the video program won't apply to jury trials, and the Chasse family will probably demand a jury. And even if they don't, who knows whether such a controversial case would be selected for the nascent video experiment by the powers that be?

Yin and yang

At a party the other night, we discovered two new things -- one good, one bad:

The egg nog cupcake, and the corn dog air freshener.

Don't miss our Cyber-office Christmas Party tomorrow

Everybody's welcome at our Cyber-office Christmas Party tomorrow. Your boss called and said he doesn't want you here until after 4:00, but to heck with him -- we're starting at 2:30 PST. He's got a lot of nerve expecting you to work this week, anyway.

We've been holding this party for a couple of years now, and it's one of those things that are much better in the virtual world than in the real world. At our party, it doesn't matter:

- What, if anything, you're wearing.

- Who your date is.

- Whether your date is moving.

- Whether you can remember anyone's name.

- Whether you can remember your own name.

You can stay in your cubicle and party at the same time!

It's BYOB, so get your favorite holiday libation ready and join us on line. We'll have YouTube videos to keep us entertained, and we'll probably play a few games. After everyone's made merry for a while, we'll all join virtual hands and tell stories of Christmases past, present, and future. We'll ask readers to share with us their own amusements. At the end of the festivities, no one will try to follow you home, because you will already be there. And hey -- no need for scented gum or Altoids!

In case you're worried about getting carried away, don't worry, we always have a designated blogger and a cabbie standing by.

Hope you can make it.

The Blazers are sleeping in

I don't blame them. Although some of them could probably get up early if they had to.

Around the far turn

The 'dogs are starting to smell the finish line. We're almost to solstice, when things start to get really serious among some of the Big Daddies of the NFL, and the players in our charity pro football underdog pool have made their selections for another week. Here's who they are predicting can win their games outright (without benefit of the point spread):

14 OAKLAND at Denver - genop's mom, Andy [and Michael W., whom I originally missed]
12.5 ST. LOUIS vs. Houston - Gary
11 CHICAGO at Baltimore - Kevin, Flynn, Robert
9 CAROLINA vs. Minnesota - Hank
9 SAN FRANCISCO at Philadelphia - genop, Bad Brad, Doug
7 BUFFALO vs. New England - Mark, Sidney, Dan
7 DALLAS at New Orleans (last night's winner) - Annie, George, Rick
6 ATLANTA at NY Jets - jmh, Michael K.

It has been a crazy week around here, and it is entirely possible that I have missed something, but I see no pick from Gordon or Michael W., which means that barring an error on my part, they sit he sits out this week. Here are the orphan 'dogs -- too much risk, too little reward, or both:

12 DETROIT vs. Arizona
6.5 TAMPA BAY at Seattle
6.5 CINCINNATI at San Diego
4 MIAMI at Tennessee
3 JACKSONVILLE vs. Indianapolis (Thursday, not a winner)
3 WASHINGTON vs. NY Giants
2 CLEVELAND at Kansas City
2 GREEN BAY at Pittsburgh

The standings as the week began were posted here, but don't forget to add 7 points for Annie, George, and Rick, who won last night. Enjoy the games and good luck, everybody (especially the Bears)!

With candy canes and silver lanes aglow

Things have definitely gotten Christmassy around here. We've got two Christmas trees going, the CCA got played last night, cards are being written, gifts are getting wrapped, the shopping list is being whittled down, and in honor of our ancestors, we even had a lovely brandy Alexander. What next -- grasshoppers?

The gutter guy

He looks as though he'll be enjoying my money -- and a lot of other people's.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Three for the 'dog tonight

Three players are going with the Dallas Cowboys tonight in our charity pro football underdog pool -- Annie, George, and Rick. Nobody picked the Jaguars on Thursday night (a good non-call, as they say), and so the other 17 players are hoping for victory tomorrow or Monday.

At the moment, Dallas is winning, 14-3, and thus it's looking good for tonight's trio.

UPDATE, 8:30 p.m.: And they win, for 7 points. Rick rockets into second place, just 1½ behind our leader, Doug; Annie finally gets on the board; and George hurdles over several competitors. Congrats to the three of them!

"More rapid than WES, his courses they came"

We have a clear winner in our Buck-a-Hit Day comments contest. Laurel Ann's Portland take on the classic "Visit from St. Nicholas" was the hands-down favorite among 100 readers who voted.

Congratulations to her on a most excellent entry, and now she gets to designate where $250 of our charity kitty goes. All we ask is that she choose a legitimate nonprofit organization that's recognized as a section 501(c)(3) charity. Laurel, who should get the dough, and if you don't mind our asking, why?

Yes, Virginia

Friday, December 18, 2009

Have a great weekend

The fire down below

What happens in California often repeats itself in Portland after a while. Yesterday readers sent us a couple of stories, here and here, that they suspect portend our future up here in the Rose City. I'd argue with them, if I didn't see the point.

Emerald City shakedown

Portland wouldn't sink this low -- would it?

It's got to be a hoax

An alert reader forwarded us an e-mail message yesterday that indicated that the Metro parking garage in Northeast Portland was being shut down for safety problems. And we thought, "Wait a minute! People who work for Metro, our innovative, green, sustainable regional government, actually drive cars to work? I thought that was a big no-no -- that the bobblehead politicians and planners over there all took mass transit!" Anyway, here's what the e-mail said -- it's got to be a fake:

Committee members:

Recent routine inspections of the NE Irving Street parking garage have revealed some issues that require immediate maintenance work. To ensure your safety and to expedite needed repairs, Metro is closing the first three floors of the parking garage until further notice. During the closure Metro will conduct additional inspections and repair work.

Metro hopes to complete the additional inspections and repairs quickly; however, the extent of potential repair needs will not be known until the additional inspection work is complete.

Metro and State of Oregon employees with monthly passes may continue to use the fourth floor of the Irving Street garage. Other monthly and daily patrons may use the parking lot at NE Martin Luther King Boulevard and Multnomah Street (enter between Burgerville and Starbucks). Monthly patrons should display their monthly parking passes to avoid a ticket. Daily patrons should contact the attendant.

Beginning on Monday, Dec. 21, additional parking will be available nearby at the Oregon Convention Center. Please enter the Convention Center garage via the P2 entrance on NE First Avenue just off NE Lloyd Boulevard. Monthly patrons showing their passes will not be charged. Daily patrons will be charged the Convention Center’s regular rates.

For more information about parking at the Convention Center please visit http://www.oregoncc.org/directionsandparking/parking/. Additional local parking options can be found at http://www.oregoncc.org/pdf/occ_nearby_parking_map.pdf.

Because the situation with the Metro garage is uncertain, please visit www.oregonmetro.gov/parking for the latest information and updates.

Metro apologizes for any inconvenience. Your safety is our top priority and we are working to resolve these issues as soon as possible.

Kelsey Newell, Regional Engagement Coordinator
Council Office

They drive? I'd be crushed. Say it ain't so, people!

Final version of health care "reform" shaping up

And the Senate is showing its true colors.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

How to get evicted from Peacock Lane

By the numbers

We picked up a late $20 this morning, which we'll match, and that brings this year's Buck-a-Hit Day fundraising total to $8,801. Fantastic! Thank you!

Here are this year's final numbers:

Oregon Food Bank$6,651
Sisters of the Road$500
Children's Heart Foundation$600
Human Solutions$260
Virginia Garcia Clinic$320
Ronald McDonald House$220
Charity to be named by comments contest winner$250
Grand total$8,801

Cyber-office Christmas Party will be Monday

Next week's going to be a total bust at work. They'll probably make you come in on Monday and Tuesday -- maybe even Wednesday -- but not much work is going to get done. What better time to stage our annual Cyber-office Christmas Party?

We'll start the festivities at around 2:30 on Monday. Be back here and ready to par-tay! We'll go until whenever.

Underdog pool schedule reminder

For you folks playing our charity pro football game, don't forget that there's a game tonight (Jaguars) and another on Saturday evening (Cowboys). Game time for both is 5:20 p.m. PST. If you want one of these, I'll need your pick by its respective kickoff.

Reader poll: Who left the best comment?

Yesterday's Buck-a-Hit Day was a nice success, and as a group we're going to give more than $8,700 to Oregon charities as a result. But there's one bit of unfinished business: We have yet to designate where $250 of the charity donations will be going. That decision will be made by whoever wins our contest as author of the best comment posted here yesterday. And the judges in that contest are you.

We never said what "best" was supposed to mean, and so you can vote based on any criteria, or none at all. But I must say, in the many years we've been doing this, this is the strongest batch of contestants we've ever had. Here they are, in chronological order:

Continue reading "Reader poll: Who left the best comment?" »

More on that tap water study

We blogged briefly on Monday morning about a new study that gives Portland's water a medicore grade for purity. Today The New York Times is all over that study. Portland's results are set out here.

Meanwhile, the city's army of spin doctors have their own take on the study, and it is here. Skoal!

And in case you missed it while we were begging for money last night, we commented here on the latest developments in Portland's recent E. coli flap.

Aussie airport security theater ratchets back a notch

I'm greatly relieved that the next time I'm Down Under, I can bring my crochet hooks on board with me.

The finish line -- thank you, readers!

We've had another fantastic Buck-a-Hit Day on this blog. Just before the stroke of midnight, the hit counter showed:

And one more hit crept in right at the wire, before we could get a screenshot. Those 4,505 unique visits mean that one of our benefactors is donating $4,505 to the Oregon Food Bank in honor of you, our readers. And to make things even better, readers donated $2,003 of additional funds, which will be matched by me and some other members of our gift-giving team. Finally, we're holding another $250 for donation to the charity chosen by the winner of our comments contest, which will start in earnest in a little while. That means that as the day comes to a close, we've raised $8,761 for charity over the last 24 hours. Our goal was higher than that, but in times such as these, we're proud to have raised more than 83 percent of our target.

Readers who played along yesterday -- and especially those who linked here on their own pages -- should be proud, too. Thank you all.

In some years, we get a few stragglers who make donations the morning after Buck-a-Hit Day, and we're leaving our match open in case some show up this year. Let's hope.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Welcome to Buck-a-Hit Day

Thanks for coming to this blog on our seventh annual Buck-a-Hit Day. Just by visiting here today, you have caused the bojack.org Gift-Giving Team to give $1 to the Oregon Food Bank. One of our readers, Mr. Fearless, has pledged to keep donating a buck to the OFB for every visit to this blog today -- through 5,000 unique visits.

Now that you've shaken a dollar out of us, please don't leave just yet. Don't miss your chance to subvert some of the action to your own favorite charity. The best comment left attached to this post will get to designate where $250 of our kitty goes. Make us laugh, make us cry, tell us why you gave, make us think, whatever -- the criteria for "best" are wide open. Something having to do with the spirit of the season would be welcome. Even a link to an original photo of yours would be good. We'll pull out six or so contenders from the comments tonight, and hold a reader poll tomorrow to see which commenter gets to make the call.

Last but not least, here is your chance to help our charities. Please click on one or more of the six buttons below and give generously to the organization pictured. You'll go to a secure PayPal site, which will take your credit card info if you don't have a PayPal account. (We pay all PayPal fees; every dollar you give goes to charity.) Please enter the amount of your donation, and "Update total." Then either log in to your PayPal account or click "Continue" above the credit card logos.

No donation is too small! Total reader contributions of up to $2,650 will be matched, dollar for dollar, by some special friends of this blog -- Michael, Anne, and John -- and by us:

For more information about these excellent charities, you can check out their websites here:

Sisters of the Road Cafe
Children's Heart Foundation, Oregon Chapter
Human Solutions
Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center
Oregon Food Bank
Ronald McDonald House Charities of Oregon and Washington

If you'd like a receipt (contributions are tax-deductible for you deduction-itemizers out there), just leave a note with your donation, or email me here. Be sure to include in the note your name and address, and the amount you've contributed.

If we get our 5,000 unique visits and fill out our match of $2,650, then adding in the $250 to the comment contest winner's charity, we'll be raising $10,550 for good causes here today. Now, that would be awesome.

Regardless of whether you donate or comment, thank you for coming by today. If you are a newcomer to this blog, we hope that you will look around the site a bit (the archives are on the left sidebar, if you're interested), and come back again another day. And please don't hesitate to get out the word to others who may want to visit and give before this day is out. We'll need lots of help to get to 5,000 hits.

UPDATE, 11:20 p.m.: We have 4,410 hits and $2,003 of reader contributions. Excellent! Thanks, everybody. With 40 minutes to go, we're zeroing in on our targets. What we don't make in visits to the site, we can make up in contributions (and matches), and so there's still time for you to make a big difference!

UPDATE, 12/17, 1:33 a.m.: We made it to the finish line with 4,505 hits. Thanks again, folks. A wrap-up is here.

It *was* seagull poop -- now get out your wallet

The question we posed last night was answered later this morning -- yes, the E. coli that was detected in a Portland reservoir over Thanksgiving weekend was indeed a nonpathogenic strain, probably from seagull excrement.

And yes, the city is going to use this incident as an excuse to blow more money on improvements of questionable value. From the official press release:

The Portland Water Bureau, along with the Portland Office of Emergency Management and the Bureau of Technology Services is finalizing a Request for Proposal that should be available December 28th providing vendors the opportunity bid on supplying the city with a state‐of‐the‐art city‐wide emergency alert and call out system that will enable city leaders to inform the public of emergencies such as the recent reservoir contamination event. The system will be robust and able to contact the public, businesses and organizations through a variety of methods including land lines, cell phones, email, pagers, text messages, VOIP, etc.
Don't we still have the "Emergency Broadcast System," using television and radio? Are there people in Portland who can't be informed by those means, but who are somehow going to pick up a Skype phone call?

Birds have been pooping in the reservoirs for a century, but now all of a sudden the situation is going to require tens of millions of dollars -- and that's just to tell you there's a problem, not to fix it or prevent it.

Meanwhile, just-released surveillance photos taken near the reservoir the day before Thanksgiving shed new light on how the contamination occurred. More power to ya, pal.

Another Facebook warning

A friend of ours posted this on Facebook today: "OMG! As of today, Facebook staff will be allowed to eat your children and pets. To turn this option off, go to Settings, then Privacy, then Meals. Click the top button to not feed the employees of Facebook anything. Copy this to your status to warn your friends!"

A holiday fable

A friend forwards one that's making the rounds:

It is near the Christmas break of the school year. The students have turned in all their work and there is really nothing more to do. All the children are restless and the teacher decides to have an early dismissal.

Teacher: "Whoever answers the questions I ask, first and correctly can leave early today."

Little Johnny says to himself "Good, I want to get outta here. I'm smart and will answer the question."

Teacher: "Who said 'Four Score and Seven Years Ago'?"

Before Johnny can open his mouth, Susie says, "Abraham Lincoln."

Teacher: "That's right Susie, you can go home."

Johnny is mad that Susie answered the question first.

Teacher: "Who said 'I Have a Dream'?"

Before Johnny can open his mouth, Mary says, "Martin Luther King."

Teacher: "That's right Mary, you can go."

Johnny is even madder than before.

Teacher: "Who said 'Ask not, what your country can do for you'?"

Before Johnny can open his mouth, Nancy says, "John F. Kennedy."

Teacher: "That's right Nancy, you may also leave."

Johnny is boiling mad that he has not been able to answer to any of the questions.

When the teacher turns her back Johnny says, "I wish these bitches would keep their mouths shut!"

The teacher turns around: "NOW WHO SAID THAT?"


A residual

An alert reader who's a Portland General Electric customer writes:

Today when I hit my PO box, I was greeted with an envelope from PGE. The return address read, "Portland General Electric Company Trojan Customer Refund Administration."

"Wow!" I thought, "I'd forgotten about this one. Maybe there'll be enough to pick up a bottle of Meyer's Rum for the family party."

Alas, my cut was only $6.94 which, PGE tells me in the attached letter, "is based on the type of customer you were (residential, business, industrial, etc.) during the refund period (Oct. 1, 2000 - Sept. 30, 2001), how much electricity you used during that time and how many other customers filed valid claims." They also state that it is "full payment for this claim" and invites anyone with questions to contact the "Trojan Customer Refund Administrator" at 1-800-288-1224. I think that spells, "800-screw-you."

So it's a loaf of bread and a stick of margarine for the holidays. Thanks, PGE!

'Dogs all weekend

It's time for another set of prospects for players' perusal in our charity pro football underdog pool. See any underdogs here (in caps) who can win their games outright?

Players, please note: At this point in the season, we have games on both Thursday evening and Saturday evening. If you want either of those, you'll need to get your pick to me by kickoff of either game:

14 OAKLAND at Denver
12.5 ST. LOUIS vs. Houston
12 DETROIT vs. Arizona
11 CHICAGO at Baltimore
9 CAROLINA vs. Minnesota
9 SAN FRANCISCO at Philadelphia
7 BUFFALO vs. New England
7 DALLAS at New Orleans (5:20 PM PST Saturday)
6.5 TAMPA BAY at Seattle
6.5 CINCINNATI at San Diego
6 ATLANTA at NY Jets
4 MIAMI at Tennessee
3 JACKSONVILLE vs. Indianapolis (5:20 PM PST Thursday)
3 WASHINGTON vs. NY Giants
2 CLEVELAND at Kansas City
2 GREEN BAY at Pittsburgh

The current standings of our players are here, and as you'll see, things are still pretty tight. I'm sure they'd welcome any advice they can get. Readers?

Why you can't get a life support machine for the next two weeks

I can't believe my eyes, but it appears that the heavily Democratic Congress of the United States is going to fumble the ball and allow the federal estate tax to go out of existence as of midnight on New Year's Eve.

That ripping noise you hear is the sound of the rich folks in the West Hills tearing up their "do not resuscitate" directives. If an estate tax extension isn't passed, and if Grandma makes it to January 1, she won't be subject to the federal estate tax, which takes a big chunk out of estates of more than $3.5 million. If she keels over tomorrow, they'll need to keep her going until two weeks from Friday morning. Her survival could save her family many millions in tax.

The latest word from our nation's capital is that the House of Representatives, which has passed an estate tax extender, is going home for the holidays today or tomorrow, but the Senate hasn't passed any such law and probably won't accept the House version. Which means that come the new year, there won't be an estate tax.

Oh yes, it may get reinstated, and maybe even retroactively, but don't count on it. Given that the Senate has devolved down to a fat cat hair club for men, that's probably how they want it, anyway.

This Congress will go down in history as one of the biggest blown opportunities in history for the liberal elements in our society. For those of us who burned with hope a year ago that things in this country were about to change, it's a real betrayal. Guys like Ron Wyden (R-N.Y.) turn out to be the biggest enemies that regular Joes and Janes could possibly have.

Meanwhile, on another front, this is highly disturbing. It's as if the government is going out of its way to create disrespect for the tax system. Eventually that sort of thing is going to bite the government where it sits. Reckless people appear to be in charge of an increasingly desperate situation.

'Dogs are on the way

We haven't overlooked the pro football underdog pool, and expect to have this week's lines up before lunchtime.


Microsoft is so easy to dislike. I just opened its inferior Internet Explorer product for a moment to check something on this site, and the next thing I knew, IE had declared itself the default internet browser on my computer. No, thanks.

The SOBs...

Portland water E. coli flap -- over seagull poop?

You would think that with all the excitement surrounding the boil-water order that the City of Portland issued over the Thanksgiving weekend, there would be an equal amount of interest in exactly where the E. coli in the Washington Park reservoir came from. Not so. Yesterday, KGW aired a news segment, posted here, that doesn't mention until the end, quite casually, that the strain of E. coli found in the reservoir has been identified. The reporter says that it was a "nonpathological strain" -- I think he meant to say "nonpathogenic" -- and he added that that means it couldn't have sickened humans, anyway.

An alert reader tells us that on the 11:00 news, KGW reported that water bureau had determined that the E. coli probably came from a seagull. That tidbit of information appears nowhere on the web at the moment. Does anybody know if it's true?

In any event, rest assured that the city will now embark on a nine-figure project to disconnect or cover the open reservoirs (or both). Fireman Randy, the water commissioner, will likely also continue to push to deputize the water bureau security guards and instruct them to shoot all seagulls on sight. And if they can't have guns, then they'll be instructed to chase the birds and shout at them: "Go away, you darn gulls!"

The city is also looking into the possibility that the seagulls are being attracted to the reservoir by the Greek Cusina.

I hate to sound like a tinfoil helmet type, but something about this whole E. coli incident smells to me like a grand set-up.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Thoughts on the climbers, from a climber

It's déjà vu. One body recovered, two fellow climbers lost, on Mount Hood in the first half of December. As a lover of the mountains, I carry this sort of story around with me for a while, and I like to ask my friend Doug the Mountain Climber what he thinks. Unlike I, Doug's been to the summit many a time, and he's even had to be carted off the side of Hood himself once.

When I asked for his thoughts on the latest episode, he remarked in a good-natured way that I was creating a niche for him in "dead and missing climbers" -- not the sunniest topic. But since his is the most knowledgable voice I know, his reaction is worth reading (links added by me -- I hope I got them right):

Based on the public information, it appears that these folks were headed up a route on the west side of Mt. Hood, probably either Reid Glacier Headwall or Leuthold Couloir. These are both routes that should be done in a day, say 8-12 hours car to car. They filled out the climber's registration form in the alcove at the Wy'East day lodge commonly known as the "climb cave" and I believe they started relatively early Friday morning. According to friends who have been up on the mountain recently, snow conditions were reasonably good, though the west side was probably somewhat icy and the weather was still cold and windy. The weather deteriorated over the course of the day with some precipitation by evening.

The alert went out late Friday or early Saturday when they did not return, and the body was found at the 9,000' level of the Reid Glacier on Saturday. Recent information indicates that he did not have a substantial fall (no broken bones, etc.), but that he did appear to have crawled for a distance. There was a water bottle near him and one extra glove, perhaps that of the
woman. It appears that he had a waist harness on, which suggests that he was roped at one point, but he was not roped when found. He was reported to have died of exposure.

What we're left with are questions. Why did the three separate? Did he decide to turn back while the others continued on? While that would be unlikely, I suppose it's possible. If he had no substantial injuries, why didn't he make it back? The upper Reid Glacier is only 30 minutes from Illumination Saddle which, in turn, is an easy 30 minute stroll to the top of the Palmer ski lift. Even in the worst weather, one can then follow the lift line straight south to Timberline Lodge. A fit person (these folks are all in their 20s) could literally drag themselves from the upper Reid to Timberline if it meant the difference between life and death. Why didn't he dig in, say dig a small snow cave? A snow cave, a tarp or space blanket, and a pad or pack for insulation from the snow could have given another day or more. Was there an injury to one of the other climbers and they separated so that one could seek help only to succumb himself? Who knows?

Jack, we could speculate endlessly, but it doesn't bring any more clarity to an unfortunate situation. These were young people with some climbing experience and with familiarity with Mt. Hood. Accidents happen to even the best prepared climbers. Last year, a Portland Mt. Rescue member had to be rescued himself when he fell a couple hundred feet after the ice chunk his picks were lodged in gave way. So it goes. I can say for myself (and suspect this would echoed by most climbers I know), that I've never felt more alive than when I'm up high on a mountain working hard to get to the top. Sure, there are objective dangers, gear can fail, people can make mistakes, weather can change unexpectedly, and the mountain is unforgiving. Despite that, or perhaps because of it, I'll be back up there soon.

Nate's rating slips

We're closing off our second Rate-a-Nate poll, which we started on December 4. This was just before the wheels came off of the Blazers' season. With 161 votes cast, Nate rates just a 4.9 on a scale of 1 to 10. That's quite a bit lower than the 5.4 he scored at the start of November.

Whatever happens next, Coach has the perfect excuse: injuries. But even before they struck, he didn't seem to be the leader to take the team to the next level. One has to wonder whether he'll still be around next year, for better or worse. We'll take another Rate-a-Nate poll in a few weeks, to recheck our reading public's sentiment.

As bad as things seem sometime...

... I thank heaven every day that we're done with the Chimp. The disasters he set in motion, however, will be with us for a long time. And who knows? Maybe we'll go back to his ways of "thinking" soon.

Someone left an extremely unkind comment on this blog yesterday, railing against the "Palintards." That's a slur against 'tards.

An old-fashioned all-nighter

We don't do it very often these days, but last night, facing the deadline for a large work-related writing project, we stayed up all night and got it finished before normal people's business hours started this morning. We heard the garbage men thumping around outside long before we called our project finished.

With that task completed, we can get back to the other items on our to-do list. But for the rest of the day, at least, things are going to be a little hazy.

The Bureaucratic Mind at Work

If you haven't taken your antacid medicine yet today, you may want to hold off clicking on this. It's a graphic depiction of the timeline for the latest round in Portland's "planning" juggernaut. Never has so much time, energy, and money been spent on something so valueless.

Cities, like all organizations, need to plan. But the Oz-like way that the Rose City goes about it, with its endless psychobabble and fake public involvement, is totally ridiculous.

Buck-a-Hit Day gets a bump

Another reader has generously stepped forward to offer to match readers' contributions tomorrow, when this blog embarks on its seventh annual Buck-a-Hit Day. My benefactors and I will give $1 to the Oregon Food Bank for the first 5,000 hits on this blog (that is, unique visits as counted by SiteMeter) tomorrow. And now we have a matching fund of $2,650, to match contributions that readers make to any of our designated charities via this site tomorrow. With another $250 that I'll contribute to a charity selected by our comment contest winner, our goal for the day is up to $10,550.

That's a lot to tackle, but first things first. Just come back to this site tomorrow and you'll be shaking a dollar loose for a good cause.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Git along, little 'dogies

The Niners stomped the Cardinals in pro football tonight, which was good news for Hank and Rick in our charity pro football underdog pool. They each gain 3.5 points for their correct pick, moving them up in the standings. Rick is tied for fourth place, 8.5 points behind the leader, and Hank is seventh, 11 points in back of first place.

With three more weeks of regular season play and three weeks of playoffs to go, here are the complete standings:

Doug - 28
Bad Brad - 20
Robert - 20
genop's mom - 19.5
Rick - 19.5
genop - 18.5
Hank - 17
Gordon - 16
Dan - 15
Mark - 14.5
Kevin - 13
Gary - 10.5
Michael W. - 10
jmh - 9.5
George - 7.5
Michael K. - 3
Andy - 0
Annie - 0
Flynn - 0
Sidney - 0

The top three finishers at the end of the playoffs get to designate parts of the pool pot to their favorite charities. Not much has been decided yet.

We'll have this coming weekend's lines posted tomorrow evening or Wednesday morning.

Soccer in a perfectly good baseball stadium

Here's a familiar scene in Canada's capital. It's part of a proposed resurrection of the North American Soccer League, which failed 25 years ago.

The wiki on the old NASL has some interesting information. It includes this passage:

Over-expansion was a huge factor in the death of the league. Once the league started growing, new franchises were awarded quickly, and it doubled in size in a few years, peaking at 24 teams. Many have suggested that cash-starved existing owners longed for their share of the expansion fee charged of new owners, even though Forbes Magazine reported this amount as being only $100,000. This resulted in the available personnel being spread too thinly, among other problems. Additionally, many of these new owners were not "soccer people", and once the perceived popularity started to decline, they got out as quickly as they got in. They also spent millions on aging stars to try to match the success of the Cosmos, and lost significant amounts of money in doing so.
Sound familiar, Portland? Go by streetcar!

Portland's new radio mogul

Here's a profile from Big Sky country -- Flathead Lake, to be precise.

How do you measure a day on a blog?

Don't forget amid all the holiday hubbub that this Wednesday is Buck-a-Hit Day on this blog. For every unique visitor to this site that day, a benefactor of ours has once again pledged to give $1 to the Oregon Food Bank -- up to $5,000. That's far more than the typical number of visitors this site receives in a day, and so we need readers to return here on Wednesday. It's the easiest way you can give a buck to charity -- just click.

In addition, I and some other readers have pledged to match up to $2,450 in contributions that visitors make when they visit here on Wednesday. We'll have a list of five Portland-area charities for you to choose from, and when you donate a dollar (by clicking on a link and paying), we'll donate a dollar, up to $2,450 of contributions by you. Together we'd be putting up $4,900.

Last but not least, another $250 will go to a charity picked by the winner of the comments contest we'll be running that day. Readers will be asked to post something appropriate for the season, and the best entry, as selected by readers in a poll on Thursday, will get to steer $250 of our money to a charity of the winner's choice.

And so all told, we've got $10,150 as our goal this year -- which would push us past last year's surprisingly excellent results. To get to that level again in tough times would be wonderful, but it is going to take you. And so please come back on Wednesday to make it happen, and please send other readers our way.

Married since Nixon

A Portlander tells a love story.

Portland water gets crummy grade

According to an outfit called the Environmental Working Group, it's 59th out of 100 big cities in the country in terms of purity. Coming on the heels of last month's E. coli episode, could this latest news cause a redeployment of water bureau resources away from water bottle giveaways and bumper sticker contests?

Of course not. This is Portland.

Tough times on the Oregon Coast

PBS surveys the not-so-bright scene in Lincoln City:

Wanted: tighty righties on fixies

[W]ith the white working class shrinking and the educated "creative class" growing, playing the populism card looks like a strategy of subtraction rather than addition. A more enlightened approach would be to go after college-educated voters, to make the GOP safe for smarties again.

What's needed is a full-fledged effort to cultivate "Whole Foods Republicans"—independent-minded voters who embrace a progressive lifestyle but not progressive politics.

Good luck with that.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Shakers call movers

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An outfit that has been planning a geothermal energy project in Central Oregon has thrown in the towel on another similar project in northern California -- reportedly because their processes may be increasing earthquake hazards.

Keepin' it weird

You thought remodeling PGE Park for soccer only was odd? People, you ain't seen nothin' yet.

Chilly 'dogs on the menu

It's looking like ice out there this morning in Portland -- a good time to switch on the Big Daddies of pro football and make a pot of oatmeal.

The players in our charity pro football underdog pool have made their calls for the week. Two of our contestants (genop's mom and Robert) picked up a nifty 10 points on Thursday night, but here are the rest of our hopefuls, whose teams (in caps) play today and tomorrow night:

10.5 ATLANTA vs. New Orleans - George, Sidney, Michael W., Andy
7 DENVER at Indianapolis - Flynn, Dan
6.5 SEATTLE at Houston - Kevin, genop
6.5 CINCINNATI at Minnesota - Mark, Michael K., jmh, Bad Brad, Gordon
4.5 TAMPA BAY vs. NY Jets - Doug
3.5 SAN FRANCISCO vs. Arizona - Hank, Rick

For our players to win points in the season-long pool, of course, their teams must win their games outright, without benefit of the point spread.

I see no pick anywhere by Gary or Annie this week, and so unless I missed something, they are riding the pines. Speaking of which, there are quite a few orphan 'dogs this time around -- either too crazy a bet, or offering too little a reward:

13.5 CAROLINA at New England
13 ST. LOUIS at Tennessee
13 DETROIT at Baltimore
3 CHICAGO vs. Green Bay
3 MIAMI at Jacksonville
3 SAN DIEGO at Dallas
1 OAKLAND vs. Washington

Now, see that? I'm loony enough to think St. Louis could pull off an upset. But then again, I have managed only one correct 'dog pick in the past 13 weeks, so don't go by what I'm choosing. Anyway, peeps, have a great day, and enjoy the games.

UPDATE, 3:12 p.m.: No winners in our pool today. That's why they call them underdogs, I guess. There are still two players hoping to make modest progress tomorrow night.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Mum's the word

Remember when Multnomah County put out bids for an interpreter who could translate Klingon? Good times. Please don't show them this, or we'll soon be honoring diversity by having a Na'vi speaker on retainer.

Legalized betting on the Blazers?

It could be coming.

Ain't it funny how time slips away

It was a week ago tonight that Greg Oden's knee broke apart as if it had been targeted by Lee Harvey Oswald.

It feels a lot longer than a week, doesn't it?

Replaced by the Minnesota Freeeway

People like Dan Haneckow, telling the story of our wonderful city, are a great blessing -- some of the riches of our community. If you love local history, click here, and then here, for another great tale about Portland's past.

Facebook quote of the night

Two things I've learned from the local news tonight: (1) Snowpocalyse 09 will kill us all, and (2) Jeff Gianola really needs to back away from the makeup counter.

Best $1 I ever won

We held the regular poker game at our place tonight. Quarter-50-dollar stuff, but mostly about fantastic food, music, vino, cigars, and friendship. I won early, lost it back, came back at the end, and ended up exactly a dollar ahead. One guy won around $35, the losses spread around among several players (I think).

Hanging with the cronies for an evening is such a blast. Two of the seven players around the familiar card table are retired these days, and deservedly so. The rest of us keep punching, with dedication and experience and skill. There was a time when we paid more attention to the odds on the hands we were dealt than we did to the person who was sitting next to us doing the dealing. No more. We are in a sweet, sweet spot. Long may it be so.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Have a great weekend

Here come da judge

And he just unfriended you on Facebook.

No liquidity problem here

A while back, we bragged that we had received two complimentary bottles of a particular wine from a Grants Pass winery that was doubtlessly hoping that we would try it and say a few words about it on this blog. It's the Troon Winery, and the wine is the 2007 release that they call Druid's Fluid. We popped the cork on one of the bottles the other night, and hereby report that it's fine stuff, the name notwithstanding.

Wine reviews never cease to amuse us. Hints of leather! Tobacco! Pepper! Pears! Barnyard! It's an 89! It's a 91! Where do these people come up with this stuff? Unable to understand it all, we'll have to describe Druid's in much more prosaic terms.

It's a beautiful blend of wines from red grapes of undisclosed varieties. Unlike a lot of northwest red blends, the wines in this combination don't compete or conflict with each other at all. The end product is smooth as all get-out, but the flavors are complex and satisfying. It's an inviting wine. Folks who shy away from fruit bombs and huge reds will like it, but hardcore fans of the region's reds will also find it attractive. You wouldn't cellar it for a dozen years and use it to try to impress your wine snob friends, but you wouldn't serve it to your grandmother who likes spritzers, either. We almost want to call it "charming," but that would be selling it short.

O.k., that was terrible. We'll never be a wine reviewer. Suffice it to say that we're looking forward to enjoying that other bottle sometime soon, with holiday guests.

Would we buy it in the store? Yes. On the winery website, they're selling it for 18 bucks a bottle, which is about the top of our range (except on rare occasions). But we'd say, without blinking, that it's worth it. We're not familiar with Troon -- maybe they're always this good, or maybe they just got lucky, but this release is a hit.

As dry leaves that before the wild hurricane fly

Before all of us in Portland get swallowed up by the Ice Storm of the Century of the Month, a reminder that next Wednesday will be the annual Buck-a-Hit Day on this blog. For every visitor that day (up to a specified limit), money will go to charity, and we'll have a place where readers can chip in if they are willing and able. Well also be running a comment contest -- post something appropriate for the season, and your favorite charity could benefit.

Already we've got some donation matches from generous benefactors lined up. It promises to be a fun day. And all you have to do is show up on this site -- the earlier the better. Be here!

You know you've got one

And here's a place to show the world. [Via OurPDX.]

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The quick Brown 'dogs jump over the terrible towels

We had an upset in the Thursday night pro football game: Pittsburgh 6 at Cleveland 13. And two players in our charity pro football underdog pool had the winning team: Robert and genop's mom. Each picks up 10 excellent points in the season-long game. This moves Robert into a two-way tie for second place, and genop's mom into fourth place. The eighteen other players try to succeed along with them on Sunday, and Monday night.

Winter storm watch posted

Portland could be in for snow and freezing rain starting tomorrow night. But the city's transportation bureau is already getting ready. They've been testing some of their new equipment up on Mount Hood over the last month or so, and they say they're in great shape for the first winter storm of the season. They've posted photos of some of the tests on the city's website -- here, here, and here.

Fun and games with Rule No. 6

We blogged last week about the Portland parks bureau "rules of conduct" for the new Director Park, a greenless downtown plaza also known as "Portland's carport." An alert reader has pointed out that one of the new rules is extremely broad. Here it is:

No person shall possess any graffiti instrument in Director Park with the intent that the instrument be used to tamper with, mar or deface property therein, or knowing that another person intends to so use it, or when a reasonable person would know that the instrument is likely to be so used. For purposes of this subsection, "graffiti" means the unauthorized spraying or marking of paint, chalk, dye or any other substance to any building, structure or surface. For purposes of this Subsection, “graffiti instrument” means any can of paint or other marking substance under pressure, which can be used to spray surfaces with the paint or other marking substance, or any ink, chalk, dye or other instrument or article adapted or designed for spraying or marking surfaces.
Wow. A "graffiti instrument" includes "any ink... instrument... designed for... marking surfaces." Like a ballpoint pen?

And you're not allowed to possess such things in the park "when a reasonable person would know... that another person intends to use it... to... deface property." I guess that if you have a magic marker on you, you had better take a good look at that person you're with. If a reasonable person would know that your companion wants to tag something on the property, you've just broken the rules. Cue Officer Humphreys.

The saddest part is that the parks bureau is being run by the only lawyer on the City Council. And this is what they're churning out?

Reader poll: Is Adelman getting a special deal?

Lincoln High School basketball coach David Adelman has been sentenced to five days in jail after his second drunk driving conviction in five years. But the 28-year-old son of NBA coach Rick Adelman is still coaching the Lincoln team. Some readers have complained that the younger Adelman is receiving preferential treatment from the Portland school district -- that if he were not the son of a famous father, he would have been fired by now. Do you agree?

Is David Adelman receiving favorable treatment because of who his father is?
pollcode.com free polls

And then along comes Mary

Big Pipe Saltzman is going to have his hands full in the new year. Now he's got four people running to dethrone him from the Portland City Council, and the latest one to throw her hat into the ring may give him a real run for his family's money.

It is Mary Volm, former spokesperson for the City's Transportation Bureau, and later for the Office of Management and Finance. She worked for the city for something like 20 years, and she doubtlessly knows where a lot of bodies are buried. As we get the story, she was unceremoniously bumped from her tranportation gig by Sam "Creepy" Adams when he took over that bureau as city commissioner, because Wonder Boy wanted all the media spotlight on his bad self. Volm hasn't forgotten, I'm sure. She was active in the unsuccessful recall effort against Adams.

In the years that we've been watching the shenanigans at City Hall, Volm's name has cropped up a couple of times. She was involved in a 2008 road rage incident involving a limo driver who allegedly almost ran her over when she was on her way to a "thirsty Thursday" Timbers game on her Vespa. Around the same time, she also served as a city flack in the infamous attempted eviction of Peterson's convenience store by the downtown powers that be. At one point in that episode, she actually told the truth to kids at the Merc, who then published it, much to the embarrassment of the connivers pulling the puppet strings behind the curtain.

The PBJ story about her campaign announcement includes a great money quote about Saltzman, and by implication his long-tenured City Council colleagues: "He’s been there 12 years. That’s long enough. During that time, this Council has not kept its eye on the delivery of basic municipal services. That’s our job, and things are falling apart."

While Volm hammers on Saltzman (and by extension, the Sam-Rand Twins) over the general malaise infecting city government, the incumbent will also be hearing it from another challenger, Jason Renaud, an advocate for the mentally ill. Renaud has been relentless in seeking justice in the fatal beating by Portland police of Jim Jim Chasse in 2006. Now that Big Pipe is in charge of the police bureau, he'll be forced to stand front and center when the civil case over that homicide is decided, most likely this coming spring. A huge verdict against the city sure will be an awkward moment for Saltzman, whose career strategy has been to say one thing, then the opposite, and then run for cover.

Stonemason Spencer Burton and family therapist Ed Garran are also in the running for his seat. And neither one of them is chopped liver, either. It could prove to be one of the more interesting City Council elections in a long time.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

KOIN News blooper video flap in national spotlight

A YouTube video of two KOIN-TV news anchors captured in various embarrassing moments on the set was yanked after KOIN complained to YouTube about it. But to make a mildly interesting local story a national one, KOIN sent an e-mail threat of legal action to a blogger who had merely posted a Twitter "tweet" linking to a YouTube search page that showed the video.

Having been on the receiving end of some copyright bullying ourselves, we have some advice for KOIN: Don't make threats against a blogger that you can't make good on.

"You have the right to remain silent....

... Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to a makeup artist...."

Sudden exit in the 'Couv

A stunner today from Brian Baird, the Democratic congressman from the 'Couv who votes like a Republican when he isn't taking dubious junkets around the world on taxpayer time: He's not running for re-election next year.

Wow. I thought his right-wing votes were all calculated to get himself re-elected. But if he's stepping down, that must mean he really believes the stuff he's been spouting. In any event, there'll be quite a donnybrook up there as they fill the void. Let's hope the Democrats nominate somebody who actually represents progressive values, as opposed to a Lars Larson Show darling channeling Joe Lieberman. If the district is going to deliver votes for clowns like George Bush and Tom DeLay, then let it be listed in the red column, where it belongs. It's a lot less confusing that way.

Return of the kitties

A big sigh of relief at Blog Central tonight, as our assistant editors, Billy and Lola, have returned to the office. These two generally prefer the outdoors nowadays, but when the weather turned brutally cold over the weekend, even the cozy shelter that we have constructed for them on the back porch wasn't warm enough, I guess. And so they took off for warmer digs at an undisclosed location.

When they didn't show up for meals Monday evening and yesterday, we began to get seriously worried. And puzzled -- we checked all the obvious places, and walked up and down the street calling them, but they didn't come out from wherever they were hanging out.

It hit 12 degrees this morning, but mid-afternoon actually wasn't that bad. The sun was out, the wind was calm, and it got up to a balmy 30. Our furry friends showed up for a snack, and we whisked them inside. They won't be going back out until the latest "Arctic blast" eases up. Last I heard, they say that will be over the weekend.

Road rash

Here's an intriguing civic battle brewing back in Brooklyn, New York: People in unusual garb clinging tenaciously to the teachings of their cult, out of touch with mainstream society -- and they're feuding with the Hasidic Jews.

How's the Portland Children's Levy doing? Who knows?

The City of Portland just announced that it's looking for an outside contractor to evaluate the various mentoring programs that have been receiving tax dollars from the special "for the children" property tax levy. And in explaining the need for third-party help, the request for proposals reveals that nobody has much of any idea how effective the money spent so far has been:

Over the past six years, the Portland Children’s Levy has provided approximately $1.4 million annually to support approximately 12 programs in Portland. The Levy recently granted funds to continue funding these services for an additional 3 years.

The organizations operating the programs have had varying levels of success with program evaluation of the mentoring programs funded by the Levy, and program evaluation is a requirement of the Levy grants to the programs. Many of the programs have limited capacity to collect, analyze and report data that measure outcomes of the services they provide. The Portland Children’s Levy staff have minimal time and expertise to provide technical assistance for program evaluation to the mentoring programs funded by the Levy.

The Portland Children’s Levy seeks to hire a consultant with expertise in mentoring programming and program evaluation to provide technical assistance to Levy grantees in data collection, analysis and reporting.

The contract is supposed to run for two years, starting in March. No estimate is given as to how much the outside services will cost.

Hot 'dogs for a cold day

Here is the rundown for this weekend's pro football underdog pool. Which of these underdog teams (in caps) will win its game outright?

13.5 CAROLINA at New England
13 ST. LOUIS at Tennessee
13 DETROIT at Baltimore
10.5 ATLANTA vs. New Orleans
10 CLEVELAND vs. Pittsburgh (Thursday, 5:20 PM PST)
7 DENVER at Indianapolis
6.5 SEATTLE at Houston
6.5 CINCINNATI at Minnesota
4.5 TAMPA BAY vs. NY Jets
3.5 SAN FRANCISCO vs. Arizona
3 CHICAGO vs. Green Bay
3 MIAMI at Jacksonville
3 SAN DIEGO at Dallas
1 OAKLAND vs. Washington

As you can see, the enigmatic Cleveland Browns are the Thursday pick -- players have until game time tomorrow afternoon at 5:20 to let me know if they wish to select them as this week's pick. Buffalo at Kansas City is off the board since they're a "pick 'em." (Pick 'em? You can have 'em!)

Choose a winner, and a player receives the points indicated in our season-long forecasting competition. Current standings are here. Nobody picked up any points this past weekend. We cannot let that happen again!

As the weeks in the regular season dwindle down, more of the games have serious playoff implications, which no doubt will affect their outcomes. Players and kibitzers, what do you think this time around?

Another thumb up for the OHSU "governance" model

This time it's Wim Wiewel, the president of Portland State, arguing that the best thing for his school would be to break out of the state's higher education system and become semi-autonomous -- which means nonaccountable, if the precedent of OHSU is any indicator.

Before Portland State breaks out on its own, but with taxpayers' dollars to play with, maybe we ought to make sure that it's sticking to its core mission, which is education. Lately it has seemed a lot more interested in getting into the real estate development business with the likes of the Portland Development Commission, Tri-Met, and the Gerding Edlen boys. If PSU wants state money with no strings attached, maybe it ought to refocus on what's important and stop making the Usual Suspects richer.

Buck-a-Hit Day is a week from today

It's time to start planning for Buck-a-Hit Day, our annual holiday gift-giving blowout on this blog. This will be our seventh year of doing this, and like last year, it's a tough time for philanthropy. The needs have never been greater, but the money people have lying around to provide help is as scarce as hen's teeth.

Hard times be darned -- we'll still give a hard-earned dollar to charity for everyone who visits here next Wednesday, December 16, up to $1,200, which is the Bogdanski family contribution this year. We'll also be passing the cyber-hat and ask readers to donate as well as visit. With any luck, our benefactors who have challenged readers in past years will return to up the Buck-a-Hit limit and match reader contributions. (You folks know who you are; please drop me a line as soon as possible if you can return in that role! New benefactors are also welcome.)

As is our custom, we'll run our annual comment contest, in which the reader who leaves the best comment relating to the season (chosen by reader vote) will get to steer part of the contributions to a charity of his or her choice. More details on that as we get closer.

Last year we smashed all expectations and raised $10,115 on Buck-a-Hit Day. It will be difficult to get to that level again this year, but let's hope the spirit of the season makes it happen. Even if you're too broke to donate, all you have to do to participate is show up here again next Wednesday, as early in the day as you can make it. Just by visiting this site, you'll separate me from a dollar and send it to a good cause.

Please stand by for 'dog lines

The official compiler of the weekly lines in our charity pro football underdog pool is running a bit later than usual, but we should have this week's tantalizing list posted no later than lunchtime.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

What to get the wife for Christmas

How about golf clubs?

Public option back to being dead

With Democrats like these, who needs Republicans? At least the Republicans send you a thank-you note the day after.

Young people, come to Portland!

Only $800 a month, and your apartment will be 300 square feet!

No practice this weekend

Coach is in jail.

Back surgery for Rudy Fernandez

Sheesh, what next for the Blazers?

Comcast turns on the meter

An ominous e-mail message this morning:

We are pleased to announce the pilot launch of the Comcast Usage Meter in your area. This new feature is available to Comcast High-Speed Internet customers and provides an easy way to check total monthly household high-speed Internet data usage at any time. Data usage is the amount of data, such as images, movies, photos, videos, and other files that customers send, receive, download or upload over a specific period of time. We do not monitor specific customer activities on the Internet to measure data usage.

Because the current data usage allowance for the Comcast High-Speed Internet service is a substantial 250GB per month, the vast majority of our customers do not need to be concerned about checking the usage meter. In fact, around 99% of Comcast customers use significantly less than 250GB per month.

Something tells me things are going to get Com-craptastic in a hurry.

You can't handle the truth

Remember when we all agreed that something serious had to be done about the hideous conflicts of interest that afflict the system by which corporate and government bonds are rated by outfits like Moody's and Standard & Poor's? An overhaul was badly needed in order for investors to get the straight scoop on the soundness of the bonds they were being offered.

Well, guess what. That reform isn't happening. Instead, we get what one noted economist is calling "Botox shots." It's a disgrace. Maybe the state attorneys general will show some guts. Let's hope so. The rating agencies are doing to our retirements what Joe Camel did to Grandpa's lungs.

So what's the deal with Minnis?

It's been two weeks since the governor and the state attorney general made John Minnis disappear from his gig as the state's top police training official. How long will he be on the out's before we finally hear what suspected crimes he's being investigated for?

UPDATE, 5:00 p.m.: Ask and ye shall receive.

Kim Jong-Il denounces Greek Cusina

In a surprise announcement, North Korea strongman Kim Jong-Il this morning declared that the Greek Cusina restaurant in downtown Portland should be closed for fire code violations.

The Communist dictator was effusive in his praise of the actions taken by Portland city commissioner Randy Leonard in sending out his "hit" team of city inspectors to turn up numerous code violations at the boisterous Washington Street eatery and bistro. Kim's press office released this statement:

The respected and beloved Comrade Randy Leonard's high ascension to BES supreme commander laid a decisive basis for ceaselessly carrying forward the great construction cause of livability pioneered and led to victory by the great leader Comrade Randy Leonard and gloriously perfecting the great cause of the sustainability revolution by firmly inheriting military-first traditions passed down like so many recipes for Caesarean salad.

The respected and extremely fit comrade supreme commander walks the path along the frontline tirelessly, climbing roofs of burning schoolhouses, because he considers on-the-spot inspections of the people's uniformed units an indispensable part of his revolutionary schedule devoted to the defence of the security of the homeland and the happiness of the people, and he stood in a trench along the long defence line this year, bravely side by side with the commander of the great Army of Timber in the face of withering challenge.

The beloved and thickly pensioned comrade supreme commander's energetic on-the-spot inspections of blighted properties are the fundamental source of numerous miracles and innovations in strengthening the politico-ideological and military technology might of his revolutionary armed forces and preventing great loss of life.

The respected and beloved Supreme Commander Comrade Randy Leonard, knowing danger when he sees it, fortified the military bastions of his revolution like iron walls by grooming the Water Bureau as a revolutionary army winning all victories under his great military-first politics and work-first revolutionary leadership, sacrificing personal life while paving the way for glorious victories and amazing changes in the people's do-or-die war of defending public-private partnership and sustainable construction struggle on the basis of the city's planning power.

Under the outstanding leadership of the respected and beloved comrade supreme commander, his army and people have been able to sternly smash the anti-PDC isolation and suffocation policy and aggression manoeuvres of the convicted pornographer murderers running amok to wipe out the republic, a stronghold of smart growth, in an ultra-hard-line counter strike, defend the homeland, and proudly demonstrate the invincible greatness and ever-victorious spirit of the Portlandia, in its many emblematic food carts, the paths of bicycles, the neon rose and other display accomplishments.

As long as the Papas brothers' hostile policy against the republic continues, he will further strengthen the military deterrent from concept to construction in order to adhere to the system, and, if the enemies press on towards provoking a war of aggression, his army and people will mercilessly wipe out enemies as chlorine does to bacteria by their military-first power and resolutely defend the dignity and sovereignty of the city and Metro.

The road to revolution is long and hard, but the great cause of the green revolution will be always victories as long as Portland has the military-first revolutionary leadership of the respected and beloved Supreme Commander Comrade Randy Leonard, single-hearted unity among its union ranks, and invincible revolutionary armed forces.

Kim also announced a new sister city relationship between Portland and his own country's capital city, Pyongyang.

Location, location, location

Can you imagine what would have happened to this guy in Portland?

Monday, December 7, 2009

A week about nothing

With the Pack holding court against Baltimore tonight, there were no winners this week in our charity pro football underdog pool. The standings of our players remain where they were last week.

We've got four weeks of the regular season left, and we continue to play our pool through three weeks of the playoffs (although there are far fewer games, and far fewer big point opportunities, in the post-season). Lines for this coming weekend should be posted here tomorrow evening or early Wednesday.

Something's rotten in Denmark

It's hysterical. If you need proof that the climate change movement is a little short in the critical thinking department, check this out: Fred "Crocodile" Hansen, the head of Tri-Met, is a featured speaker at the big shindig in Copenhagen. What's his topic -- "The Neil Goldschmidt Inner Circle Has Been Very, Very Good to Me"? The guy is running Tri-Met into the ground, but suddenly he's a world-class celebrity.

Sandy Rowe lays herself off

She'll be retiring as editor-in-chief of the O in a few weeks, Peter Bhatia will take her position, and Bhatia's current position as executive editor will be eliminated.

A new publisher, a new editor, and additional news staff layoffs due in February -- it will be interesting to see whether all the changes will result in a new point of view for Portland's monopoly daily newspaper. Certainly its coverage of local news will become even thinner, which is not a good thing; whether the paper will become more willing to challenge the local powers-that-be remains to be seen.

I don't think it's him

A number of alert readers have pointed us to an ad that's been running in the print edition of the O over the past couple of months. It's an ad soliciting donations for a facility that serves meals to the needy. Pictured in the ad is a man whom readers have thought might be David Wilson, the notorious "Welches" con man who roams the streets and bars of Portland with a fake sob story that he pushes to pry cash from unsuspecting strangers. We've spotlighted David on this blog since he defrauded us out of a few bucks in July 2007.

Not getting the hard copy of the O delivered to the house any more, we don't get to see the ads in the paper, either. Unlike the Times, which lets paid subscribers see an exact replica of the day's paper (as well as offering three other electronic views of the day's content to everyone), the O offers us only the workmanlike OregonLive.

Anyway, we tracked down a hard copy of the local daily at the public library on Saturday, and leafed through it to see if we could find the ad in question. There it was, on page A5. And folks, although there is a certain likeness, I'm pretty sure it isn't Wilson. The eyes are wrong. Besides, David doesn't want or need a free meal at a legitimate soup kitchen. He's got a much, much better gig going (although we wonder how he works it in the winter).

Dear Editor: It's Groundhog Day

An alert reader writes:

I don't know if you get the dead tree Oregonian anymore, so you might have missed it. Evidently the letters to the editor published in Saturday's edition were so insightful that the paper decided to publish all of them again this morning. No, really.
The reader's right; we no longer subscribe. Did this actually happen? Too funny.

Under the rug

Oregonian reporter Maxine Bernstein is doing a good job tracing the problems with some of the bad apples in the Portland police bureau, but her editors are doing their best to bury her work. It happened again this weekend with an important article that the O ran on Saturday, when circulation is at its absolute lowest.

It's a story of how the son of a Portland police officer was unnecessarily banged around in the course of an arrest for drunk and disorderly conduct. The young man admits he was in the wrong, but didn't appreciate what he says was the gratuitious knee-drop to his neck after he was cuffed, or the two purposeful squad car door slams across his legs.

And when he did as his father suggested and filed a complaint with the bureau over the incident, the family found out what many of us already knew -- that complaints of police brutality in Portland are round-filed. It's been three years, and the "investigation" is still "ongoing." The whole review "system" for police violence is an unfunny joke.

Anyway, if like most folks, you don't read the paper on Saturday -- or ever -- you might want to take a look at Bernstein's account, here.

The pungent odor of scam

Tri-Met's new Willamette River bridge is going to be a no-bid deal. Let's see -- who does the Goldschmidt network want to give the job to? Could it be... these guys?

We won't put a $135 million (liars' budget) bridge out to bid? This region really is slipping into oblivion quick.

First photo of Oden post-surgery

Here he is being released from the hospital. It looks as though he has a long rehab ahead of him.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


Here's public corruption of the lowest order, in plain view:

Despite the delays, the Portland Development Commission has spent $6 million to nudge the garage along. That money came from property tax revenues.

It included $3 million the commission paid OHSU in 2005 to reserve parking spaces for the future apartment renters. At the time, the League of Women Voters of Portland, a watchdog group, criticized the payment as payback to OHSU for covering most of the budget overruns on the aerial tram.

Before the commission could build apartments above the garage, it had to buy control of the air rights -- that is, the right to build into the airspace over the site -- that [Homer] Williams' group, North Macadam Investors, had purchased previously. In 2006, the commission paid Williams' group $3 million for those rights.

The city made the deal despite an appraisal that valued the air rights at half that amount, $1.5 million. A more recent appraisal done for the PDC pegged the value of the rights at $1 million.

And will anything be done about it? Of course not. This is Oregon.

Get a good look at that tree in the square

Its days are numbered.

No explanation for Oden knee collapse

The rosy glow that local sports fans felt after Thursday night's historic Civil War football game has been doused by the news of Greg Oden's season-ending -- and let's face it, possibly career-ending -- knee injury last night. The cause of the kneecap fracture -- it broke in two, by some accounts -- remains a mystery. Although several theories are circulating, team officials stress that they are all mere speculation pending inspection by doctors as part of Oden's upcoming surgery.

Blazers' new slogan

"Writhe with us."

How now, bow wows?

It's Week 13 of the NFL season, and the seventh week of our charity pro football underdog pool. The boys and girls who play our game have spoken, and here's whom they've picked (in caps) to win their games outright:

13 DETROIT at Cincinnati - Andy
9.5 WASHINGTON vs. New Orleans - Sidney, Robert
7 TENNESSEE at Indianapolis - Flynn, Bad Brad, Michael K.
6.5 TAMPA BAY at Carolina - Gary, jmh, Kevin, Rick, Doug (corrected -- my mistake)
5.5 ATLANTA vs. Philadelphia - genop, Annie
5 KANSAS CITY vs. Denver - Mark, Gordon
3 BALTIMORE at Green Bay - George, Hank

Genop's mom was unsuccessful on Thursday night with BUFFALO vs. NY Jets, which would have netted her 3 points.

This week's orphan 'dogs:

13 CLEVELAND vs. San Diego
11.5 OAKLAND at Pittsburgh
9 ST. LOUIS at Chicago
5 MIAMI vs. New England
2.5 NY GIANTS vs. Dallas
2 ARIZONA vs. Minnesota

Houston at Jacksonville and San Francisco at Seattle are both "pick 'ems," and so by rule they are not on our slate for the week. Our standings going into this week are here.

Have a great day, enjoy the games, stay warm -- and may your kneecaps be unbroken, by and by, Lord, by and by.

UPDATE, 1:52 p.m.: No winners today. George and Hank go for small points tomorrow night.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Blazers go from bad to worse

UPDATE, 9:40 p.m.: They got the win, at least. But Portland's dreams of advancing beyond last year's progress have become a bit attenuated.

UPDATE, 12/6, 1:32 a.m.: Looking forward, the observation of the night is in Willy Week: "If this is the lineup for the duration of the season (and please, please, somebody tell me it’s not), look forward to a lot of teams gunning for the paint with the enthusiasm and speed of Christopher Humphreys when he sees a 12-year-old girl riding the MAX."

Boom shaka-laka-laka

A rough night out at Kelley Point.

Nawaz Sharif Zardari

Here's a cool story from Long Island, New York.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Have a great weekend


An alert reader sends along this helpful flowchart to get you to the right source of comestibles.

Rate-a-Nate, Round 2

It's time for another checkup of Blazer fan sentiment toward head coach Nate McMillan. When we last conducted this poll, October 31 to November 8, Nate garnered a vote of only 5.4 out of 10, with 185 votes cast. Since then, his team has had some ups and downs, mostly downs lately, and so we're interested in what fans are thinking now:

On a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best and 1 being the worst), how well is Nate McMillan performing this year as the coach of the Trail Blazers?
pollcode.com free polls

UPDATE, 2:17 p.m.: With the first 47 votes counted, it's clear that Nate's performance rating has fallen. He's at 4.6.

UPDATE, 12/5, 12:29 p.m.: We've got 116 votes in hand and Nate's up to a 5.0. We'll keep a running score going in our left sidebar.

She ain't bound for nowhere

It's time for a new year with the Chinook Book -- some great deals in there, if you're willing to be a coupon-clipper. The 2009 book expired on Monday, and with it, a couple of offers we were intending to get in on, but never got around to. That free loaf of bread at Grand Central Bakery with a $5 purchase -- letting that one slip away really hurt.

Last year, we complained that Tri-Met had stopped putting free bus passes in the Chinook Book -- the cheapskates. This year, they insulted us even worse, by including two tickets to ride the WES train, the spendy commuter train that runs, mostly empty, between Beaverton and Wilsonville during weekday rush hour. And if you want to transfer to a bus or MAX train, the coupon's no good for that -- you have to pay.

Hey, Crocodile Hansen, don't do us any favors. You and your anemic board of directors have taken one of the country's best transit systems and driven it straight to mediocrity. Oblivion is next -- all aboard!

Andre, we hardly knew ye

Brandon Roy doesn't want to play with you, and so it appears you will be moving soon.

Edlen leaves town

Right now we’re trying to take advantage of our sustainable solutions to help others outside of Portland with their buildings. But it’s not as much fun as working in Portland.
He says he'll be back. But let's hope that by then the city has new leadership that will stop handing him the taxpayers' money any time he wants it. He's had enough "fun" on our dime.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The game nobody watched

In our charity pro football underdog pool, only one player -- genop's mom -- picked Buffalo to beat the Jets tonight. And they didn't.

Nineteen other players must take their shot by 11:59 p.m. on Saturday.

Another great moment for the PoPo

The union just took a vote of no car.

Pasadena via Duck

Congratulations to the Oregon Ducks football team, which beat the Oregon State Beavers tonight and thus heads for the Rose Bowl. The stronger squad won, much to the dismay of me and many other fans whose favorite team on any given weekend is the Ducks' current opponent.

Vancouver's Lieberman

The House voted today to extend the federal estate tax. But of course, Brian Baird, the supposedly Democratic congressman from the 'Couv, joined all 174 Republicans in voting against it. His good buddy Lars Larson will no doubt be proud.

No estate tax, no stock transactions tax, no health care reform -- the list of goofball positions by Baird goes on and on. If the folks up that way want people in Portland to take them seriously, they could start by finding a real Democrat to represent them.

Don't dunk drunk

Crazy pro hoopster Ron Artest -- the guy who ran up in the stands and started punching people out a few years back -- is at it again. Now he's telling the media that he used to drink Hennessy cognac at halftime when he was playing for the Chicago Bulls years ago.

It's hard to like "Ron-Ron," especially now that he's in a Lakers uniform. But somebody in heaven must like him -- I'll never forget the miraculous vision we all had of him five years ago.

Thanksgiving on the Rural Bus Route

[C]onsidering the fact that after dinner I felt like a dreary-eyed, pregnant Volkswagen, I think I would have had a hard time walking out to my car, let alone run 3 miles... I wasn't comfortable simply leaving my tender giblets to chance with a pair of cheap Walmart skivvies. I needed the added protection and sucktightedness that only a good jock strap will afford.
The whole episode is recounted here.

Hey tonight

Well, this is it -- the day of the historic Civil War football game between the Oregon Ducks and the Oregon State Beavers. If you haven't weighed in on our poll, now's your last chance to predict the winner, here.

We have no prognostication to offer, but we will certainly be rooting for the Beavers. The game will be shown on ESPN starting at 6 p.m. local time.

Good news, bad news on City of Portland debt

The City of Portland is out borrowing millions again -- this time for part of a new police dispatch system and for part of the city's troubled financial computer conversion. With the new bond issue comes a new official sales document for the city's paper, and as usual, it sheds light on some aspects of the city's finances that the mainstream media doesn't report much about:

There's some good news and some bad news in this document. First, the good news: The city's slacked off on borrowing money in the last half of 2009. The overall long-term bond load is actually down slightly from what it was six months ago. But in addition to this month's new IOUs, Portland's planning some humdinger borrowings in 2010, including $75 million for the water system in January; a monstrous new $430 million mortgage on the sewer system in February; and more "urban renewal" hock in SoWhat and Lents sometime during the year. But at least over the past several months, the crazy borrowers at City Hall appear to have taken a breather.

Now the bad news: In addition to the roughly $2.3 billion unfunded pension liability for police and firefighters, now the city has opened up a fairly hefty unfunded retirement liability for the rest of its workforce. That other segment of its workers, covered by the state PERS system, was enjoying a surplus of funding for a while there, but since the investment returns of PERS tanked along with everyone else's starting in 2008, now there's an unfunded liability of $259.2 million on the city's books as of December 31, 2008:

We've made adjustments in our City of Portland debt-o-meter (in our left sidebar) to reflect these new realities. For our estimate of long-term bonds and interim financing, we've set a new baseline of $2,874,288,790 as of November 1, 2009, growing at an annual rate of 4.7% (the rate the city's bond balance has grown over the last couple of years). For unfunded pension and retiree healthcare liabilities, we've set a new baseline of $2,687,987,638 as of December 31, 2008, growing at an annual rate of 6.5%, which is the last apples-to-apples annual growth rate we have been able to divine from the city's pension pronouncements.

With those new figures plugged in, the long-term city debt per resident is now pushing $9,825. With another $505 million of bonds showing up over the next quarter, that figure is going be well over $10,000 by the time the Easter bunny comes to call. Go by streetcar!

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Pearlies don't want a Randy potty under their balconies

Quintessential Portland comedy here.

UPDATE, 5:30 p.m.: All the juicy details here.

Grouch gets results

University of Oregon Professor Bill Harbaugh (right), a classic troublemaker, has been relentlessly hassling the administrators of his university for many years. As just one example, it seems likely that he's one of the voices (if not the only voice) reflected on the anonymous blog UO Matters. Back in September, he made waves when he posted to the internet a copy of an extensive manual on Oregon law regarding public records, which had been produced by the state attorney general's office. The AG's office had been asserting that the manual was subject to copyright protection, and it was charging $25 a copy for it. Oh, the irony.

Well, lo and behold, today that office has not only reversed itself and posted the manual to the internet, where it is available free, but also launched a serious initiative to enhance compliance with, and implementation of, the public records and public meetings laws. The press release from the state explains that, in addition to the posting of the full manual --

[t]he Oregon Department of Justice web site now includes a Citizen's Guide to Public Records and Public Meetings. The guide is designed for citizens who need a quick and easy understanding of Oregon’s open government laws.

A new online Public Records Request Form is also now available. Previously, public records request forms needed to be printed out and mailed or faxed. The form is designed for requesting records from the Department of Justice.

Attorney General Kroger also has created the Government Transparency Counsel, a new position in the Department of Justice designed to ensure that state government properly complies with state transparency laws.

The next step is a systematic review of Oregon's open government laws to identify weak points and suggest improvements for the 2011 Legislature. This effort requires input from the public, the media and government officials. To that end, Attorney General Kroger will conduct meetings around the state that will be co-sponsored by the Oregon Newspaper Publishers' Association.

Sounds like old cranky Bill has made a positive difference. And kudos to the AG for taking time out of his busy schedule of indicting Republican face cards to get something good done on an important topic.

When you don't care enough to send the very best

Here's a holiday gift suggestion for that someone on your gift list whom you wouldn't miss if he or she weren't there.

Tolls due on Portland roads by 2012

From Willy Week yesterday, we learn that tolls are coming to Portland-area roads, courtesy of the state legislature, sometime between now and September 2012. Remember the contentious public hearings on that bill? Me neither -- there weren't any.

No doubt this "pilot project" (surely it's only temporary, right?) is intended to save our planet. But more likely, it will damage the region's already anemic economy. Even Peter DeFazio can see that it's going to have some ugly consequences. But Governor Ted and the kids in the Legislature shoulder on. Green, sustainable, smart growth, union label, yada yada yada.

What is this "pilot project" supposed to prove? Big surprise: Wherever you put a toll, people will take the nearest route around it. If you toll enough places, eventually people will either take mass transit or move to a worker-friendlier city. Guess which option will be more popular.

In the end, we're all supposed to stay in our condo bunkers, pay our rent to Homer Williams and Mark Edlen (or whoever they sell out to when the banks catch up to them), and never venture outside except to walk to our barista jobs or to go organic grocery shopping. No, you will work near your apartment. For your occasional vacation, Comrade, you are to rent a Zipcar from Bill Scott.

I think we ought to put a toll on I-5, right where the legion of commuting state bureaucrats turn onto and off the Salem Parkway every workday morning. Double toll if you're in a state government car.

In any event, I think I'll vote no on Measure 67, just so that I can save all those increased corporate taxes that are going to be passed through to me as a consumer. After all, I'm going to need that money to pay my tolls.

An alternative for PGE Park

An alert reader writes:

Obviously [Merritt] Paulson needs a longer season for using PGE Park. And he thinks that "major league" soccer is the perfect fit.

Well, here's another league that may be a better fit, that doesn't need a special freezing mid-winter schedule, unique field, more porta-potties and all the other expensive remodel items! Maybe its such a good fit that he'll sell his business and a new guy/gal can put Beavers baseball and something else deal together.....

Unlike "major league" soccer, this league already has:

● Popular teams in 10 major league American cities like Seattle, Denver, San Diego, Dallas, etc.

● Doesn't need a new schedule.

● Doesn't have a zillion dollar franchise fee to try and recoup from fans.

● Has a championship bowl game ending the season.

● Can share its stadium time with Portland Public Schools and PSU without disruption. Can work with existing Beavers season.

● Doesn't need a special field for only its games.

● Doesn't need a costly remodel or dome. In fact, it could actually be helped by keeping the free viewing fence along SW 18th, unlike the new soccer plan.

● Won't have balls hit into traffic along MAX or cars on SW 18th.

● Has modestly priced tickets. Seattle prices start at $14 and go to $104 (before scalpers).

● Has fan-friendly players with names you can say, and yes, some divas too; and

● Has merchandise to generate extra revenue for the team owner. A sure thing for on-site beer and dog sales, too.

It's [probably NSFW] here.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Dark-day 'dogs

When the pro football season rolls into December, things start to get pretty serious. And so it is with our charity pro football underdog pool, where we have several players vying for top honors. But there are still weeks to go, as we play all the way through the playoffs.

Here are this week's entries. Which of these underdogs (in caps) can win its game outright, without benefit of the point spread?

13 DETROIT at Cincinnati
13 CLEVELAND vs. San Diego
11.5 OAKLAND at Pittsburgh
9.5 WASHINGTON vs. New Orleans
9 ST. LOUIS at Chicago
7 TENNESSEE at Indianapolis
6.5 TAMPA BAY at Carolina
5.5 ATLANTA vs. Philadelphia
5 MIAMI vs. New England
5 KANSAS CITY vs. Denver
3 BUFFALO vs. NY Jets (Thursday, 5:20 p.m. PST)
3 BALTIMORE at Green Bay
2.5 NY GIANTS vs. Dallas
2 ARIZONA vs. Minnesota

Houston at Jacksonville and San Francisco at Seattle are both "pick 'ems," and so by rule they are off the table for us.

Players, let's have your picks. Kibitzers, let's have your advice. If you want Buffalo, I'll need you to declare that by the Thursday time noted next to that game. For all the others, the deadline is 11:59 p.m. Saturday. The current standings of our players are here. Good luck, everybody.

Instant international film classic

I really do need to learn some Chinese. The good part starts at around 50 seconds into this clip:

Paulson soccer deal stumbles along

There's a curious story in the O this afternoon, reporting that there's nothing new to report on the spendy re-renovation of PGE Park for "major league" (by U.S. standards) soccer. The only item of information not heard before is buried way down in the story: Fireman Randy told Little Lord Paulson to "shut up":

On Oct. 13, Paulson uttered words that brought action to a stop: "MLS will not come to Portland unless I do a deal for a new baseball park."

Two days later, an irritated Leonard said he was ready to cancel the whole thing. Paulson and his lobbying team from Gallatin Public Affairs went to City Hall to soothe Leonard. The commissioner's advice to Paulson was to "shut up" about tying Major League Soccer in Portland to the fate of the Beavers if he wanted a final deal.

What a sophomoric exchange. But while these two geniuses haggle over who's going to buy the hot dog relish, the construction schedule gets tighter and tighter, which means the price tag keeps going up and up. The $31 million liars' budget for this one is likely to be off by eight figures on the low side. It will be interesting to see who really gets stuck with the overruns.

Meanwhile, that troublemaker concerned citizen Peter Apanel, who's trying to convince the city to scrap the PGE remodel and build a new stadium for soccer, writes us today to report that as reconfigured, PGE Park will have the fewest toilets per seat of any stadium around. By his calculations, the newly remodeled grandstand will have a seat-to-toilet ratio of 1:130, whereas the "major" soccer league's guidelines call for 1:47. Apanel writes:

There is a very thorough discussion of restroom ratios in the article, "New Ballpark Statistic: Stadium's Toilet Ratio," by John Branch, which was published in the New York Times on April 13, 2009. The article deals primarily with the issue of "potty parity," but also gives details on the number of restroom fixtures at the two new baseball stadiums in New York City that opened earlier this year, both of which have overall ratios which exceed local code requirements. The new Yankee Stadium has an overall ratio of 1:68, which exceeds the code by 43%. The new Citi Field/New York Mets stadium has an overall ratio of 1:62, which exceeds the code by 59%. And the new Meadowlands/New York Giants football stadium in New Jersey, set to open in 2010, will have an overall ratio of 1:63, which exceeds the New Jersey code by 88%.

By way of comparison, FIFA (the international soccer association) recommends a minimum ratio of 15:1,000 toilets and urinals for men; and 20:1,000 toilets for women; plus, 1:5,000 for family toilets, which would result in an overall ratio of 1:58.

Also by way of comparison, UEFA (the European soccer association) requires that stadiums have a ratio of 1:200 for toilets, and 1:125 for urinals, which would result in an overall ratio of 1:77.

It appears that a new cheer will need to be devised for the "major league" Timbers: "Hold... it... in!"

You've been to our living room...

I just got an e-mail from a reader pointing me to the "rules of conduct" for Portland's new Director Park. No radios, pens, Frisbees, hacky-sack, or chalk, kids. And no lying down on that bench!

Some "park."

Better yet, though, was a nickname for the new greenless facility that I hadn't heard before: "Portland's carport."

Goin' mobile

If you read this blog on a cell phone or similar device from time to time, there's now a mobile version that should load more quickly and give you a look at our latest postings at any given time. Just direct your phone browser to m.bojack.org, and you'll see it. (Or you will, within a day or two, when the name server propagation thingy is complete. We're already getting through to it on the iPhone now.)

The mobile site is still "in beta," as the kids say. We're working on some tweaks and adjustments to make it a little less clunky. But in the meantime, if it helps readers access and enjoy our writing, we're all for it.

Guilty of second DUII, still coaching high school hoops

There's something very wrong at Lincoln High School in Portland. It's little wonder the students over there have substance problems.

The next threat to your 401(k)

OK, when they built an indoor ski resort in the middle of the Arabian desert, maybe we should have sensed a speculative bubble in the making. But the financial mess in Dubai may be just the beginning of heavy government debt coming back to bite borrowers and lenders alike, in many different parts of the world.

Burn with the fire of ten million stars

Before there was the Honda Odyssey, many a family we knew rode around in a Volvo wagon. We haven't seen much of that vehicle lately, but that may be changing in a few years if this version catches on.

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