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

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January 2010 Archives

Sunday, January 31, 2010

The Comcast Oregonian?

Here's one way to make pay subscriptions to online news sites work -- bundle them with cable.

Another terminology change

What we used to call "underprivileged" kids are now going to be relabeled again, from "at risk" to "at hope."

Why don't we just take that money and buy some of them some playground equipment?

My least favorite Olympic event

Copyright bullying. Second least favorite: Trademark bullying.

My favorite event: Karma.

People always clap for the wrong things

Of all the obits for J.D. Salinger, this one said it best.

Eliminate the middle man

Instead of re-electing Ron Wyden, why don't we just vote for Pfizer, or Blue Cross, or Comcast?

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Andre loves his shots

Over Thanksgiving weekend, I ran into our pal Fred Kerber, who covers the New Jersey Nets for the New York Post. Fred was in town to cover the Nets' annual visit to face the Blazers, and it was great to see him again.

I asked him what he thought of the addition of Andre Miller to the Blazers' roster. To me it was a great acquisition, and with Greg Oden coming into his own (it was a week or so before his knee spontaneously exploded), I thought the two might make a formidable pair.

Fred's reaction was less enthusiastic. He grinned and said: "Andre loves his shots."

Fred had seen a lot of Miller on the east coast, and so I took his appraisal to heart. Sure enough, since that night, the wisdom of his words has been proven pretty conclusively by Miller's performance for the Portland team. The guy is not shy about putting up shots, and often they're pretty ugly. Take this past week, for example. 'Dre shot 1 for 8 on Monday, 2 for 11 on Wednesday, and 1 for 6 on Friday. That's a 16 percent success rate in heaving them up -- not good.

But as Fred suggested, Miller will keep on shooting, and tonight he took 31 shots. The good news is, 22 of them went in the basket. He wound up with 52 points, the second-highest single-game output in Blazer history, and Portland squeaked out a tough overtime win in Dallas.

Yes, Andre loves his shots. And when they go in, we do, too.

Keep it in your pants

Here's a program that might have kept Greg Oden's private parts off the internet.

Bob Tiernan: Purity is aspirational, not mandatory

And I'm a vegetarian, sometimes.

Nothing like an intra-party slap fight on the Republican side for a chuckle.

Dear Lord, not again

Another deadly encounter with the Portland police:

While police were tight-lipped about the incident, two witnesses said they saw a man come out with his hands up and appeared to be cooperating with police. But they said police shot the man with a beanbag gun and then in the back with a shotgun.

"He had his hands up, just like this," said Kenny Boyer, demonstrating. "And he was looking down, like basically, he was just trying to surrender."

Let's hope this isn't going where we think it's going.

Here's the official version:

At 6:03 p.m., officers observed the man looking out from the back of the apartment. At 6:07 p.m., the man abruptly came out the front door of the apartment and officers began giving him directions in order to take him safely into custody. Initially, it appeared that the man was being compliant but then his actions suddenly changed. The man began making statements to the officers that they were going to have to shoot him.

Due to the man's actions, one officer at the scene deployed a less lethal bean bag round. The man continued to not comply with the officer's directions and in response, the officer fired more bean bag rounds. The lethal cover officer fired his AR-15 rifle in response to perceived threatening actions. The actions of the man that was shot will be fully released to the public after all officers and witnesses have been interviewed.

Officers at the scene immediately called for medical assistance but were not able to safely approach the man because they believed that he was still armed with a gun. The Special Emergency Reaction Team, (SERT), was activated and arrived on scene 23 minutes later. SERT is specially trained and equipped to safely approach and disarm potentially armed subjects. SERT medics attended to the man and pronounced him deceased at the scene.

Portland Police Homicide Detectives, as well as investigators from the East County Major Crime Team responded and began investigating this incident. The officer who fired the AR-15 is an eight year veteran of the Portland Police Bureau and is assigned to East Precinct. All officers and witnesses at the scene are being interviewed by investigators.

Sketchy, indeed.

"The actions of the man that was shot will be fully released to the public after all officers and witnesses have been interviewed." That may take months. Great.

Obama gets his Cheney on

Hmmmm, let's see... trash privacy rights? Check. Increase spending on nuclear weapons? Check....

Hitting up your family for money

With the Oregon Coast as the poster child.

Three for five on the comeback

Three of the five Oregon representatives in the U.S. House have signed onto a new effort to bring the public option back into the health care reform picture. We're oh so weary of the whole thing, but it would be something if they could get that done.

But cue Sen. Ron Wyden (R-N.Y.) to tell us once again what a bad idea it is... or he has a better idea... or anything but "I'll vote for it."

Belated apologies to the Mean Girls

Remember a few years back, when Multnomah County was actually advertising for a Klingon interpreter? We all laughed. But as it turns out, it might not have been such a bad idea. Check out this local band, which sings exclusively in Klingon and has been known to get into fisticuffs with the audience. What if Jeff Cogen wants to know what they're singing?

How to save newspapers

Tax Google.

We spoke too soon: Cornett will get "clean money"

Photo courtesy BikePortland.org.

We blogged with some relief the other day when we noticed that none of the candidates running against incumbent Dan "Legend" Saltzman for Portland city commission appeared capable of qualifying for "clean money" -- taxpayer financing of their pending campaigns. How wrong we were. As it turns out, unbeknownst to us, challenger Jesse Cornett was indeed gathering the necessary signatures and $5 seed contributions and has filed them with the city. He's way over the number needed, and so the chances are excellent that he'll get a bunch of dough from the city -- $145,000 -- to run in the May primary.

As we noted last week, even with money, he's a huge underdog in the race against Saltzman. Most likely he'll use this race to try to build name recognition, and then really go for it the next time there's a vacancy on the council. That worked for Amanda Fritz, who started out running against Saltzman on the taxpayers' dime four years ago, and perhaps it will work for Cornett. Of course, there are a few other folks out there who have already completed the first leg of that two-part turkey trot -- Streetcar Smith, Jim Middaugh, and Charles Lewis, for example -- and so unlike Fritz, Cornett would likely have some opponents with serious name recognition the next time there's a vacancy. (Maybe Mr. Warmth will find love and run off somewhere, like Opie did.)

But anyway, let's talk about now. We'd never cast a vote for Saltzman. And so somebody else is going to get our vote. Is Cornett the one? We're not at all sure. He's a dyed-in-the-wool Blue Oregon type -- Kari Chisholm's doing his campaign work, Cornett was a founder of the Bus Project (it seems they had about 682 founders), his face shows up on Bike Portland from time to time, and we're sure he was madly in love with Measures 66 and 67. Certainly he won't be breaking Portland's "progressive" paradigm in any serious way -- as a Dave Lister would. Cornett's last paying gig appears to have been working as a lobbyist for Portland State University, and for all appearances he's never been anywhere close to running a real business. That's a strike against him, in our book.

There are three major issues that we look forward to hearing him address:

1. What will he do about the city's growing debt load, and its proclivity for borrowing and spending on wasteful real estate development projects ("urban renewal" and otherwise) at the expense of basic services? Given that his old employer, PSU, has now blatantly morphed into the latest pork pot for greedy developers, we'd be surprised if Cornett were to stand up to that set, any more than Saltzman ever does.

2. What will he do about the city's ever-growing payroll costs, including employee benefits, which are gradually swallowing up the entire municipal budget? Will he lay people off? Will he be tough in union "negotiations"? (From what we've seen, in these proceedings, management wisely wears knee pads.)

3. What will he do about the city's out-of-control police bureau? What reforms will he insist on to improve police accountability and training?

If Cornett has some decent answers to these questions, he may get our vote. But the whole Blue Oregon-Bus kid-bicycle vibe doesn't bode well in any of these areas. In any event, love him or hate him, he'll almost certainly have lots of money to feed people like Chisholm, and so he's now officially someone to watch.

Also on Friday, hopeful Jason Renaud turned in more than the 1,000 signatures (and evidence of the accompanying $5 contributions) that would qualify him for his own $145,000 play fund to run against "Legend." Since he cut it closer to the minimum than Cornett did, his qualification is not as assured, but if he makes it, he'll be an interesting candidate. More about him later.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Have a great weekend

Time of the signs

The City of Portland's secret money room

The City of Portland is huddling behind closed doors today to decide among four proposals that it has received from banks for lending the city $12 million for as long as five years to renovate PGE Park for Little Lord Paulson's "major league" (by U.S. standards) soccer. Eric H. Johansen, the city's debt manager, who usually tries pretty hard to answer our questions, informs us that the city has received four proposals from prospective lenders. But beyond that, he won't tell us whom they're from or what they say.

According to the city's solicitation of bids, which we unearthed earlier this week, they're going to pick a bank today and close the deal by a week from today. Maybe at that point, we'll be deemed worthy to know the terms of the deal, to find out which other bidders were rejected, and to learn why. Or maybe not.

It's interesting that the city, which so often touts the awards it wins for its budgeting and accounting, is secretive when it comes to its back-room borrowings, which amount to hundreds of millions of dollars, on these "temporary" lines of credit. When they go out for bid, nothing is posted anywhere on the city's website. Johansen's office quietly sends the request for proposals to a list of banks that it maintains, posting a paid notice in one or both of the city's financial newspapers, the Daily Journal of Commerce and Portland Business Journal. Without a paid subscription to those journals, the public cannot see that the borrowings are under way.

When the bids come in, as has happened in this case, they are opened, reviewed, and accepted or rejected in secret. The City Council never passes on the lines of credit, and so they never see the light of day. It takes some pretty determined digging even to find out that they exist.

That's not right. We'll keep bird-dogging this particular deal, but it and all similar transactions should get a much more thorough airing -- before, during, and after the negotiations and closing -- where the public can see it, on the internet. Only then will the city's bragging about its opennesss be justified.

The Greeks had a word for it


Thursday, January 28, 2010

Looks like no "clean money" this year

It doesn't appear that any of the motley crew that's running against Dan "Legend" Saltzman are going to raise enough signatures to get "clean money" -- taxpayer financing -- for their Portland City Council campaigns. Which is fine by us, because you can't beat an incumbent in this town, no matter how much your money smells like roses. Saltzman's "dirty money" is going to win in a runaway.

Now the city can save that dough for paying Steve Janik his $400K on the Paulson stadium deal, and who knows how much to the Chasse family when they finally get their day in court against Officer Thumper. Hey, maybe they should change the venue of the Chasse trial to Glendive, Montana, and Emilie Boyles can beam back reports to Portland! Just an idea.

UPDATE, 1/30, 1:15 a.m.: How wrong we were! At least one candidate appears to have qualified for "clean money" -- $145,000, to be exact. And there may well be two.

Grim story becomes more gruesome

Do you think that maybe the Portland police have some training issues?

Oregon tax increase measures are good news

... for Vancouver.

Turd on the run

Here's a great visualization of how Firefox is running Microsoft out of the browser business. [Via UtterlyBoring.com.]


I can't take much of the announcers for the Blazers, either on TV or radio. They're all embarrassing homers, and when they're not screaming "The ref missed that call!" they alternate between amateur hour and funeral parlor. I won't get started on a list of particulars, but that might make for an interesting post at some later date.

Anyway, the reason I'm thinking of this right now is that I'm feeling serious bloggy admiration for a reporter who's assigned to cover a Blazer game and yet finds a way to work stuff like this in:

Jerryd Bayless to the line. The Blazers are not getting this down to 10, barring some of that miracle three-point shooting and a lot of dumb Utah turnovers. And I just noticed my leg shaking uncontrollably. At some point I saw an advertisement for pills that treat "shaky leg syndrome" or "irritable legs" or whatever they called it, and I think the side-effects involved vomiting, etc.. I’d rather have a shaky leg than vomit. I’m on a no-vomit streak that started before I even moved to Portland. Sometimes it has been rough—I remember a few times laying on the bathroom floor or leaning up against the wall of the Sandy Hut, waiting for the dizziness to pass—but I have not caved since eating bad chicken at Red Robin in like 2000 or 2001. I’m coming up on my tenth anniversary of quitting puking and I intend to celebrate it. By puking my guts out. In any case, I don’t want any medication that involves barfing. Or "suicidal thoughts and actions," which I saw on some pill ad recently. Terrifying.

Speaking of “suicidal thoughts or actions,” the Blazers are down 24. It’s 61-37. The crowd is chatty (and, funny enough, they seem too worn-out to boo at bad calls anymore).

There's also a splendid rant on Greg Oden Penisgate. We need a whole lot less of "The Blazers are on an 8 to 2 run" and a whole lot more of this.

False positive

Ford made a $2.7 billion profit last year. That beats the alternative, I guess, but whoopdee doo. The government spent $200 million more than that on "clunker" rebates.

Our kids are going to pay that in taxes as they work their fingers to the bone for their Chinese overlords. But hey, good for Ford, for now.

We're very much about "now" these days.

No excuses

Acting on a tip from the smarties over at WW, I headed over to FreeHeadset.org a couple of weeks ago and ordered one of their cell phone headsets for the car. I paid less than four bucks for shipping and handling, and zero as the purchase price.

The thing got here yesterday, and it's cool. It's a single earbud on a wire, with a mini-microphone in the cord at just about shoulder level. When it's plugged into the iPhone, the mike also serves as an on-off switch. If the phone rings, you click the little mike thingie under your chin, and you're on the air with your caller. When the call's finished, you click and you're done; it hangs up the phone.

This isn't going to enable you to place calls without breaking the law against phoning while driving, but at least if you think you've got one coming in soon, you can just plug this baby in before you start the car and be confident that you're not going to miss anything by actually paying attention to what's going on on the road around you.

For less than $4, you can't go wrong. That's about two days' worth of internet service on the smart phone, and it might keep you from killing somebody.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Lie after lie after lie

Commissioner Randy Leonard cheered the deal, which is scheduled to be finalized next week. "It insulates the city’s taxpayers and general fund from any liability..."
But it simply doesn't! As even the bureaucrats at City Hall now expressly acknowledge:
Should the Fund not be able to support the bond expenses associated with this agreement, the General Fund would be responsible.
It's one thing to say, "This is risky, but we're going for it anyway." But somehow the Sam-Rand twins can't do anything without lying through their teeth about it. It's worse than Nixon.

You can't be too careful

Nectar of the 'dogs

The checks have gone out to the charities benefiting from our pro football underdog pool, just concluded. Gordon sent the $75 second-place award to Mercy Corps for Haiti relief, and Mark split the $300 first-place haul between Mercy Corps and the Oregon Children's Theater. Since we've been holding the dough for several months, we added 1% for the time value of money, and so Mercy Corps got $227.25, and the OCT picked up $151.50.

We have been unable to reach genop, whose mom gets to send $45 to her favorite charity, and if anyone can help us find his whereabouts, please e-mail us here. As soon as we get her choice, we'll get the last check on its way and report back on this site.

Any slower would be reverse

Here's a great headline: "Congress Slows Down on Health Care." After screwing around and getting nothing done for a year, how can you slow down?

Unemployment? Not here.

Portland's mayor is looking to hire an "arts and culture policy coordinator." Wow, now there's something to get the city's economy moving again. This is on top of his "arts and culture policy director," and who knows how many other arrogant, overpaid, inexperienced, 20-something staffers who answer to the Big Creep when he's got his First Thursday on.

I'm surprised he doesn't have an in-house food critic. Maybe when Randy Gragg gets laid off.

Let's do the time warp again

Hey, everybody -- Burnside Bridgehead hearings! Think of it as going back and visiting New Orleans pre-Katrina.

Saltzman's bogus talking points on the Paulson stadium deal

Here's what Portland city commissioner Dan Saltzman told the Portland Timber soccer fans the other day about the plan to renovate PGE Park for their team and its owners, the Hank Paulson family:

· The deal protects taxpayers from risk – as no funding will be coming out of the City’s general fund. -- False.

· The agreement includes PGE Park becoming the first LEED Sliver certified stadium in the country. -- False. Utterly false.

· The nearby health clinic has committed to provide services to all of Portland’s citizens- regardless of types of coverage, age, or socio-economic background. -- Probably misleading at best -- the nonpaying poor patients will no doubt be a token few -- but even if true, this is reason to blow $30 million on a soccer stadium?

Back to drawing boards, Danno. How does the media let this guy get away with this?

New City of Portland computer system: It's the bomb

And we don't mean that in a good way. Yet another success story for the City of Portland and technology. "Commissioner Dan Saltzman, who oversees police, chalked up the complaints to usual growing pains." Yes, pain is going to be "usual" with the wrong people in charge.

I can't wait to see how Mr. Warmth & Co. do with the new eight-figure emergency phone call alert system they're insisting on buying. The thing will probably wind up accidentally dialing Rangoon a million times in a single night to tell them that there's a new post on Mayor Creepy's blog. For that the taxpayers will have to pay Qwest a few million.

Reader poll: Which realtor in the 'Couv should Phil Knight use?

Now that Measure 66 has passed, we can all expect Phil Knight to make good on his suggestion that he will move out of Oregon in reaction to the retroactive tax increase imposed on him. What is not clear, however, is whom he is going to engage as his realtor in Clark County. Knowing how busy Knight is, what with controlling the U of O and all, we did a little internet research on his behalf last night, and we came up with five candidates who seem worthy of his consideration. Here they are:

1. Kathryn Alexander. "Please feel free to set up your own 'Home Finder' account to look around and see what's available currently! If you ever have questions or want MORE information or pictures, just e-mail me and I will get you more information and many times, more pictures as well."

2. Mark and Janice Hall. "What if you have a question about Vancouver real estate that is not answered on this Website? Simply visit the Frequently Asked Question section and send your question to us via Email."

3. Crystal Boldt. "Whether you are looking to buy or sell, you've come to the right place - even if you are just looking - I'm here to help."

4. Scott Mikel. "It is human nature to want to wait until the local housing market 'hits bottom' before buying. . . but think. When will you know it has 'hit bottom?' You will know when it starts going up. It’s hard to believe it will get much better than this."

5. Elaine Armstrong. "Over 25 years in Clark County real estate and her knowledge of today's market will give you maximum experience in buying or selling your next home. Her experience, honesty and forthright direct approach, is refreshing in today's climate."

So, which one do you think Phil should call? Please explain your pick in the comments below.

Which realtor in the 'Couv should Phil Knight use?
Kathryn Alexander
Mark and Janice Hall
Crystal Boldt
Scott Mikel
Elaine Armstrong
pollcode.com free polls

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Blazer fans rally behind Oden

They took to the streets late today to show the big guy that they still love him despite his latest troubles. Oden also received a thank-you card this evening from Jeremiah Masoli.

Oregon tax increase measures are way ahead

A big lead for the yes side, especially in Washington County, says to me that they've passed. Bureaucrats rejoice -- PERS in da house tonight!

So long, Greg Oden

If this (NSFW) is true, the whole "He's such a nice guy" thing is over.

Important terminology change

No longer will wasteful private construction projects, financed with tax dollars, be known as "linchpins." Until further notice, they'll be called "catalyst projects." Please make a note of it.

We did it

Late yesterday, we dropped off our ballot in today's election at our local Public Library branch. Oregonians, don't you forget to vote -- if you haven't already done so, your ballot must be dropped off by 8:00 tonight. (And if you want my advice, it's yes on 66, no on 67....)

It's not the future that I can see, it's just my fantasy

Well, it looks as though the "creative class" is packing up and leaving Portland -- either that, or they were locals to begin with, and now they're moving back into Mom and Dad's basement. Either way, apartment vacancies are up, and likely to stay that way for a while.

And yet we still have fops parading around nattering about the "creatives" and their profound roles in our "built environment." This would be funny, if said clowns weren't running the city government.

Monday, January 25, 2010

New achievement for Ducks football team

The latest reports are that they're leading the league in steals.

Paulson stadium deal will risk city's general fund

Despite outright lies from the mayor to the contrary, the borrowing for the pending renovation of PGE Park for Little Lord Paulson's soccer team would indeed be backed by the City of Portland's general fund. Here's the request for proposals for the interim financing for the deal, which could amount to as much as $12 million and be outstanding for as long as five years. It specifically states:


The City pledges its Available General Funds, which are all taxes and other legally available general funds of the City....

Security Full faith and credit

Tax Status Taxable

Oh, and the whole thing is going to be negotiated and closed in a week. What a complete and utter disaster in the making.

Especially given the known fact that the permanent financing for this project is going to be quite unorthodox, if it's feasible at all, the terms of the interim financing are particularly important. And there's no mistaking that the city's general fund is the ultimate deep pocket for that borrowing.

Big Pipe Saltzman openly panders to the soccer hooligans

And they're all calling him a "legend." He'll be putting this one on the wall next to his "profiles in courage" award from OHSU and Homer Williams on the aerial tram [rim shot].

What next? A Timbers Army PAC?

UPDATE, 2:16 p.m.: As you may have discovered, the soccer children have blocked anyone from coming to their little message board from this site, but you can read Dan's solicitations of political support if you cut and paste the following addresses into your internet browser:



Here's what he wrote in the longer of the two messages:

Dear Timbers Supporters:

I wanted to thank each of you for your ongoing support and advocacy to keep Portland "Soccer City USA".

As you may have heard, Portland City Council has put the finishing touches on the agreement that will assure PGE Park to be the home of Major League Soccer in 2011. This was a long and arduous process that required a great deal of negotiations to reach an agreement that protects taxpayers and provides the needed improvements.

We are grateful to Timbers owner Merritt Paulson for his commitment to Portland. Without his personal monetary guarantees and dedication to building a world-class franchise, none of this would be possible.

Components of this deal that I fought for include:

· The deal protects taxpayers from risk – as no funding will be coming out of the City’s general fund.
· The agreement includes PGE Park becoming the first LEED Sliver certified stadium in the country.
· The nearby health clinic has committed to provide services to all of Portland’s citizens- regardless of types of coverage, age, or socio-economic background.

What was most important to this deal being a success was the support of you, the Timbers fans. I have no doubt you will continue to be the most active supporters in the country as we transition to MLS.

As you may also be aware, I am running for reelection as City Commissioner my opponents have criticized my support to bring Major League Soccer to Portland. I would like to have your support. To get involved in my campaign please visit www.dansaltzman.com ; for opportunities or call my campaign office at 503-222-5228.

I could use some Timbers style support at the upcoming “Candidate Olympiad.” It is a free event sponsored by the Portland Mercury and The Bus Project this coming Thursday, January 28th at Backspace (115 NW 5th Ave) starting at 7:00 pm. I expect to hear harsh criticism for my support of MLS among other issues- and it would be great to see some friendly faces and those green and white scarves!

Feel free to call my campaign office if you need any details.

Rose City Till I Die!


Dan Saltzman

Is Earl the Pearl true to his word?

Apparently somebody out there remembers what he promised, and wants him to make good on it. Good luck with that -- members of Progressive, Inc. have a short memory these days.

City will renovate PGE Park first, borrow to pay for it later

Here's a classic City of Portland weasel move, and of course it fits right in with the PGE Park stadium boondoggle, which has been marked by one strong-arm maneuver after another. The city isn't going to sign the long-term bonds for the city's $11 million share of the construction costs for the new soccer grandstands until after all the construction work is finished! It's going to go out in the near future and borrow the money on a short-term, temporary line of credit, and not enter into the permanent financing arrangements until after the renovation is done.

In other words, Portland taxpayers won't get to see (or pass on) the terms of the mortgage until after the stadium project is finished. All we will know when the city forks over the construction costs is that the final mortgage is apparently going to be some sort of subprime "zero coupon" bond deal, and the Paulson family will be finding us some of their pals who will buy the bonds (i.e., make the permanent mortgage loan). In the meantime, the city's putting $11 million on the equivalent of a credit card.

This latest twist on an already misguided transaction is spelled out on the next-to-last page of this document:

The Spectator Fund will contribute $11.9 to the capital cost of the project through a combination of cash and a future bond issue. Initially, the City's share will be financed through a line of credit until the project is finished in the spring of 2011.

At that time, decisions will be made on the amount of the cash contribution and the balance will be financed through a bond sale. The debt service for the new bonds will be paid for from revenues in the Spectator Fund.

How much leverage will the city have when the time comes to sell the bonds, which are likely to be far below prime? None -- less than none. The taxpayers will no doubt be taking it in the shorts -- the soccer shorts.

Will the opponents of the project ever get a chance to put the bonds up for a public vote? They're supposed to have that opportunity, if they can collect enough signatures to challenge the borrowing. What if the stadium's finished but the permanent bonds fail in an election? Will the city be in default on the line of credit? And is there going to be any chance to petition for a vote on the interim line of credit?

Particularly given the wildly unorthodox terms that the permanent bonds are likely to bear, this is outrageously irresponsible conduct by the City Council. Just as the no-bid nature of the construction deal makes a mockery of the public bidding laws, the build first/bonds later ploy makes a mockery of the laws providing for public accountability about large-scale municipal borrowing.

Even if these gyrations are legal, they certainly aren't smart.

Meanwhile, who's going to put up the interim line of credit on this one, when there's a good chance that the final bonds could get put up for a public vote, and perhaps fail, later? Wait -- let me guess -- Daddy Paulson's banker buds?

Her friends called her Hilda

Here for no good reason is the fascinating story of 078-05-1120.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

'Dogs end season with a whimper

None of our players picked up a thing in our charity pro football underdog pool today, as both favorites won their games. This leaves our final winners just as the standings were after the games of last week:

1st place: Mark - 44.5
2nd place: Gordon - 43
3rd place: genop's mom - 40

These three each get to designate charities to receive parts of our pool: $300, $75, and $45, respectively. Gordon told me the other day that he wants his share (which turns out to be $75) sent to Mercy Corps for Haiti relief. Mark and genop's mom, forgive me, but if you indicated your charity, I no longer have it handy. Please let us know, and I'll get the checks out right away.

Picking 'dogs for NFL upsets is a great diversion. Each week the players root for an upset, without the benefit of the point spread, which keeps things relatively wholesome. And yet the professional oddsmakers' predictions are still relevant, in that they set up the payoff for a correct pick. Some players pile up points slowly and steadily, while others unleash long bombs, at least as the season winds down. And having a skin in the game, however minor, keeps the players' eyes fixed on the Big Daddies more intently than they otherwise might be.

We had a few administrative glitches this time around, but we've learned some things and will have some technical improvements if we do this again come next season. Until then, thanks to everybody who played, and to everybody who offered advice to the players. And of course, congratulations to our winners.

Players, kibitzers, readers -- your thoughts on the end of the pool, today's games, and the upcoming Super Bowl are most welcome.

It's (everything but) the water

The mission creep at the Portland Water Bureau continues. Now, in addition to becoming "green" home builders, the "boil your water" folks have become solar energy experts. It's just a matter of time before they open an aquarium.


Here's an idea that might save some of Portland's failing high-end hotels. Something similar has already proven to be highly effective out toward the airport.

Sunday drive

Take a ride in Port-au-Prince with CNN. You can stop the truck, look around, or both if you like.

Top 'dog player crowned with final pool picks

The deadline is here for the final week's selections in our charity pro football underdog pool, and here's how the players have decided to go:

7.5 NY JETS at Indianapolis - Sidney, Hank, Kevin, Doug, Rick, Michael K., Flynn
4 MINNESOTA at New Orleans - George, Mark, Gordon, jmh

Remarkably, I have no picks from two players still in contention for Top 3 honors, genop's mom and Bad Brad. Unless they can show that they properly entered their choices with me and I somehow misplaced them (it has happened this season), they'll get no points for this, the final week.

Since Mark and Gordon both picked the same 'dog, Gordon (currently in second place) can't pass Mark (currently in first). And since genop's mom (in third) is a no-show, and no one else is within 7.5 points of Mark, Mark is the winner, and will get to designate $300 to his favorite charity. Congratulations to him!

Second and third places are not entirely settled, although Gordon will apparently take one or the other. Unofficially, here is how second and third will go, depending on the outcomes of today's games:

If Indiana wins: Gordon is second ($75 to charity), and genop's mom is third ($45 to charity).
If the Jets and New Orleans win: Hank is second, and Gordon is third.
If the Jets and Minnesota win: Gordon is second, and Hank is third.

Again, these are all unofficial results, but I'm pretty sure that's where things shake out. You can check my math if you like, with the full standings going into today's action, which are posted here. We'll have post-game festivities (including the traditional bragging and lying) after the second contest this evening. In the meantime, enjoy the games, pigskin fans!

UPDATE, 3:55 p.m.: At 11:14 this morning, Bad Brad notified me that he had picked the Vikings early Thursday morning; he sent along a copy of his e-mail message to me to that effect. It sounds legit, and so I'm ruling that pick good. Given the Colts' victory this afternoon, what this means is that if the Vikings win this evening, Bad Brad and genop's mom finish tied for third place with 40 points each for the season. Apologies for the confusion; if we do this again next year, there is going to be some foolproof system set up to make sure this sort of mixup does not recur.

Her dad, the mensch

A friend of ours who's done a little blogging in her time asked us to do her a favor this weekend, and in the rush of too, too much to do, we fell down on the job. The favor was to post something she had written about her dad on his 80th birthday, which up until a few minutes ago we had registered as being today, Sunday.

Well, now we see that doh! The big day was yesterday, and we never did get her writing about her father up on this page. But having been unable to wish our own dad the best on his 80th, which he did not get to spend in this world, we know where she was coming from when she asked us to get involved. And so here's what she wrote. Even though birthday wishes would technically be a day late at this point, words like these don't really have an expiration date:

My dad, Bert Rogoway, turns 80 on Saturday, 1/23/10. I know that most people feel that their dad is the best person in the world. In my case, it’s true.

Knowing how many Portland readers you have, here’s my thought: Could you post something about my dad and ask readers to email him with a happy birthday message? He would be so delighted. I did not inherit my need for attention/praise/glory from my dad. He is a humble man.

So the bio:

As a Portland native (a rarity these days), my dad has spent his entire life in this city. He attended Portland public schools through 12th grade (graduating from Benson High School), served in the Oregon National Guard for eight years and for over forty years, worked as a small businessman at his family’s business, LaRog Jewelers, on SE 82nd and Foster.

My dad married my mom Laurie in 1965, at the Benson Hotel and quickly started a family: by 1970 he had three children, two girls and a boy.

Despite the fact that my dad was older than most of the other dads during my upbringing (he was 40 when I was born), he was ahead of his time when it came to being a husband and father. My dad worked six days a week from the day he graduated from high school until his retirement at 67, yet he was always present; never missing a soccer or football game, Girl Scout event, holiday pageant, parent-teacher conference or birthday party. He was a "modern dad" at a time when many dads weren’t. As the mother of a three-year-old daughter, I see dads in the 21st century less involved in their children's lives than my dad was in the seventies.

Dad is now a very proud grandfather to eight and when he’s not busy volunteering, he spends much of his time doing activities with his grandchildren (and being the resident chauffeur to and from school, activities and outings.) He’s also an active volunteer at Abernathy Elementary in SE Portland where two of his grandchildren attend.

Which brings me to the reason why I think my dad is especially deserving of a little extra recognition – what he’s been doing with his time since retiring. While many men of his generation have looked at retirement as a means to travel the world or just sit tight in their recliner, my dad has spent the past 12 years as a devoted volunteer.

For 11 years, he has spent one day a week at Doernbecher’s Children Hospital where he oversees the bingo game for the children who are staying at the hospital. A few years ago, my husband and I were fortunate enough to spend an afternoon with my dad watching him in action at Doernbecher's and we both walked away from the experience with heavy hearts telling each other that there was no way we could endure the sadness of spending week after week with such sick children. It was a heartbreaking experience to us. But for my dad, it is a gift and he loves everything about Doernbecher's and looks forward to each Wednesday where, for a few hours, he gets to bring some joy to children who really need it.

My dad has also been a S.M.A.R.T. volunteer for 12 years and for much of that time, has worked exclusively at Marysville Elementary in SE Portland; one of the poorest schools in the district. Upon learning about the recent fire at Marysville, my dad was one of the first people to go out and buy new school supplies and backpacks for the kids. As a S.M.A.R.T. volunteer, dad works individually with kids who are having challenges with reading fundamentals. These are some of the most at-risk kids in our city and dad patiently spends individual time with them letting them work on their reading skills. Again, something that would be so difficult to do for many and something that brings such joy to my dad.

Dad’s also been a Meals on Wheels and Hospital volunteer and has devoted much time over his entire adult life volunteering in the Jewish community. It is not unusual to find my dad spending a weekday taking an elderly widowed friend to lunch or visiting with someone who is having a hard time living in a senior residence.

In the words of the fabulous, divine Ms. Tina Turner, my dad is simply the best; better than all the rest; better than anyone; anyone I’ve ever met.

We don't have Bert's e-mail address, but if folks leave him a note in the comments to this post, we're sure that somehow his daughter will see that he gets it -- when he gets home from his volunteer gigs. He sounds like quite a guy.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Merkley takes on Bernanke

Wow, a Senate Democrat actually acting like one -- how novel. You'll never see Gatsby Wyden (R-N.Y.) standing up to money like that.

Would you like to get fried with that?

We rejoiced when Burgerville started selling beer and wine at at least one location. Now it appears that Big Food is also getting into the act. Nothing like a Bud Light with your Whopper.

Tick tick tick

Players in our charity pro football underdog pool: Don't miss your last pick! It's due by 11:59 tonight. Even if you're out of the running for the Top 3, take a shot for the sake of your position in the final standings. And if you're still in the running, don't forget! We've got family business in the morning, and so any grace period after midnight will be quite brief.

Keep Portland flat

The maps for three of this summer's Sunday Parkways events in Portland have been released. They've taken Mount Tabor and the Alameda Ridge off the routes, but the Northeast event is going to swing all the way up to Woodlawn Park.

More fun and games at UC Nike

Down in Eugene there are guys throwing millions around the university sports programs, but remember, if you don't vote for higher taxes, they'll be cutting everything else.

An alert reader wonders whether you're entitled to a charitable contribution deduction on your tax return if you give money to a state school for the specific purpose of buying out the athletic director, whose job you then take yourself. Sounds like a law school tax course exam question.

Wash your hands twice -- it's contagious

Here's a funny one out of Boise. They're going linchpin over there, replete with a proposed streetcar line. And get this part of the sales pitch: "Installing a rail system can revitalize an ailing bus system, according to an address from the former Mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina."

Really? They ought to come over here to Portland, where with every new streetcar project, more and more bus lines are dismantled.

Anyway, this person's not buying the propaganda.

Fixers don't come cheap

Cha ching! Steve Janik, the high-end real estate lawyer who's putting together the Paulson stadium deal, just got his fee from the City of Portland raised. Janik's meter is now up to $415,000, and counting.

It's pretty funny -- between the time they drafted the contract amendment raising his fee and the time they got it onto the City Council agenda, his price went up by $15,000!

But worth every penny, no doubt. Janik would kill the deal if it was in the best interests of taxpayers to do so. Wouldn't he?

The real class war ahead, cont'd

The showdown between government employees and the rest of us over money draws closer by the day. Today we learn that a majority of union members in the United States are now government employees. Judging from the nasty personal comments left on this blog by some of the local thugs, I'd say this one's going to get mighty ugly.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Have a great weekend

Conan's last Tonight

He'll get a royal sendoff with monster ratings, the best guests falling all over each other to be on his show, $45 million in cash, seven months' forced vacation, and no need to work ever again. Poor guy.

Is Thursday night tagger night?

A reader writes: "Anybody else notice that there is more graffiti activity on Thursday nights?"

Another big First Amendment moment from the Reagan-Bush people

The Supreme Court justices who like to tell you that the Constitution is all about "original intent" have now decided that freedom of speech is there to protect corporations. Not letting corporate America control public opinion, it seems, is itself a form of "thought control" that can't be tolerated. My goodness.

It's sort of like state sovereignty. It's a big deal, except when it meant that Bush wouldn't be President. Then it didn't mean diddly.

If you're disappointed in Obama these days, just remember that he's the difference between another 20 years of this, and another 40 years.

The PGE Park sewer "surcharge"

There are a lot of interesting tidbits in the outrageously sketchy outline that the City of Portland has released of its deal with Little Lord Paulson for the PGE Park soccer renovation. But one of them that immediately jumps out illustrates how concerned the city is about the fragile 94-year-old sewer that runs under where the new soccer grandstands are supposed to go:

"...if the Tanner Creek sewer line should fail or surcharge..." It looks as though the folks at City Hall are expecting some serious trouble from that sewer line over the long life of the Paulson deal. And with good reason, no doubt. The city's own website on the Tanner Creek sewer explains:

Because of the age of the system -- some of the pipes dating back before 1900 -- a high percentage of sewers are in poor condition, there are hydraulic capacity problems and records of basement flooding. About two-thirds of the system is plagued with misaligned joints, cracks, and collapsing pipes, based on internal video inspections. Under peak flows, there is substantial surcharging due to backup from the Southwest Interceptor.

Condition problems are concentrated in southern portion of the basin west of I-405. Streets undergo surcharging with a water surface level less than 8 feet from the ground surface.

What exactly is a sewer "surcharge"? They're not talking about an item on your sewer bill:

Sewer main surcharging can happen during heavy rainstorms or spring run-off; the sewer system may not always be able to handle all the extra water flow. Water and/or sewage may back up into the basement through floor drains, unsecured clean-out caps on the sewer lateral piping system in the basement, or other plumbing fixtures that are below ground level. It mainly occurs in areas where surface water and sanitary wastewater share common piping systems.
Bottom line: The sewer mains down by PGE Park have had "surcharge" (backup) problems in the not-so-distant past, and they are likely to have them again in the future.

Shouldn't we fix a known trouble spot in the sewer system before we build a $30-million-plus stadium facility on top of it? I thought Portland was a world-renowned center of planning, This appears to be exactly the opposite of that.

Those of us who think this project is waste of money are tempted to hope that the sewer line breaks right away -- but justice would probably better be served if it waited until "major league" soccer opening night (if the league doesn't fold before that).

Meanwhile, the soccer hooligans are on a major campaign to scream at the City Council from now until next Wednesday about how they dare not vote against the Edicts of Paulson. Conveniently, they've posted this list of contact information for the city commissioners. Two can play that game, if you catch my drift.

Is the City of Portland wimping out on open reservoirs?

The folks who don't want to see the City of Portland cover or disconnect its open drinking water reservoirs, in Mount Tabor Park and Washington Park, are pretty much tilting at windmills. The city fathers -- most notably the city's RDE (Richard Daley equivalent), Fireman Randy -- already have a huge water storage tank going in at Powell Butte. And they've noted in several places that the days of the reservoirs, at least as functioning part of the water distribution system, are numbered.

Nonetheless, the open reservoir fans press on undaunted. In a letter to the City Council earlier this week, they wrote:

On December 16, 2009 EPA replied to Commissioner Leonard’s November 2009 request for clarification regarding the reservoir Variance application process. In this reply the EPA contends that the Variance provided for by Congress within the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) is not available for the open reservoirs.

Ten months ago in March 2009 EPA responded in the same manner to New York City, another city seeking to retain their large Hillview open reservoir. New York was not deterred by EPA’s response and New York’s legal team advised the Portland Water Bureau that the EPA’s interpretation of the variance applicability is in fact wrong. We agree EPA is wrong. The SDWA clearly authorizes EPA to grant a variance from the LT2 "cover or treat" Cryptosporidium "treatment technique" requirement.

New York’s Department of Environmental Quality spent more than a year compiling data, 161 pages, to support the retention of its Hillview reservoir. Unfortunately, during that same period of time the Portland Water Bureau focused a majority of its resources on developing and implementing fast-tracked reservoir burial projects, doing so without any public involvement.

New York City’s extensive undeterred efforts to preserve their open reservoir provide a clear blueprint for action by the City of Portland. The community expectation is that the City makes a serious effort to secure the available SWDA reservoir variance, an effort evidenced in part by a Water Bureau work product. A single late-date letter to the EPA regarding a reservoir variance is not enough.

The Friends of the Reservoirs offer the following advice:

1. Stop approving consultant contracts. The plan filed with the EPA in March 2009 gives YOU, City Council the power to alter the plan or the pace at which it is implemented. As noted in the fine print, the reservoir burial plan is contingent upon City Council approval of individual projects, it can be renegotiated with the EPA if the City Council does not approve the current schedule for any particular project within it.

2. Require the Portland Water Bureau to prepare a detailed report documenting relevant scientific data in support of a reservoir variance.

3. Seek an extension or deferral from the EPA from the burial projects. Community stakeholders have long recommended this action for both the open reservoirs and the source water requirement.

4. Engage the assistance of the City Attorney and/or outside counsel Foley Hoag.

5. Seek further assistance from Senator Jeff Merkley who has demonstrated his support for retention of the open reservoirs.

6. Submit the data to the EPA or state of Oregon if the state has assumed Primacy for the regulation; in 2006 the state legislature unanimously approved and the Governor signed into law a state provision for variances with the full knowledge that Portland would be seeking such a variance for its open reservoirs.

7. Do not rule out legislation. The opportunity for further Congressional intervention is not only possible but also likely in light of the acknowledged flaws with EPA’s source water variance plan.

Good luck, people. The fix is already in with the construction boys on the underground tanks -- and the condo boys will be moving in for the reservoir sites shortly. Go by streetcar!

Hot from Teacher

We've filled out our ballots in the Oregon tax increase election currently under way -- yes on 66, no on 67 -- but we haven't turned them in yet. And so the election junk mail keeps coming. We got two of copies of this one the other day:

I'm glad to see that the Oregon PTA has enough money to send us such high-priced, glossy advice. Its members must be doing pretty well in such hard times.

So is that the end of this cycle's election porn? I doubt it. There are still four mail deliveries until the balloting closes.

You got to mix it, child, you got to fix it

F-bombs are o.k., but don't call somebody (or something) a "bitch."

Ambulance settles for $600K in Chasse case

Some pretty interesting details in this story about the latest developments in the pending civil case surrounding the 2006 homicide of Jim-Jim Chasse at the hands of the Portland police:

Paramedics found Chasse at Northwest 13th Avenue and Everett Street, lying on his right side, handcuffed, with his feet tied to his wrists. Paramedic Tamara Hergert said she asked an officer what had happened, and was told the man had run from police and when they caught him, he continued to struggle until he suddenly stopped fighting, according to an AMR court filing.

Hergert said she had difficulty getting a blood pressure cuff on Chasse's arm, and looked at one of the officers to "communicate that I wanted the hobble removed. The officer said 'Not a chance' " and moved the patient's feet toward his arms to create more slack. She said she then was able to take Chasse's blood pressure. She said it was 119/73, calling that well within the normal range, and his pulse was 100, at the high end of normal, she testified in court documents.

She said she manually counted Chasse's respirations, and found his rate between 18 to 20 breaths per minute. She said she wanted to check his oxygen saturation rate, but found it would have been impossible because of a decreased blood flow to his hands from pulling against handcuffs. Instead, she considered his skin color. She found his face a little pale, but the rest of his skin color good.

Hergert said she had no idea Chasse suffered from a mental illness, and had overhead officers say they thought Chasse had drugs.

"Although in my opinion emergency transport to a hospital was not medically indicated, I offered to transport the patient. The officer declined and said the patient would be going to jail," she said, in a court filing.

How much do you think the city's going to have to pay on this one? $5 million? $10 million? Maybe a mentally ill guy's life is not worth that much money.

Of course, the shame of living in a supposedly "progressive" community where this sort of thing goes on unpunished, out of the politicians' subservience to the police union, is priceless.

No jumping allowed

"I'm not a racist... but..."

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Taken for a ride

Portland's mayor has returned from whatever he was doing in Washington, D.C. (one shudders to imagine) and announced that the city has "reached a final agreement" with Little Lord Paulson for the needless re-renovation of PGE Park for "major league" (by U.S. standards) soccer. Sure, there's got to be a City Council vote, and there could be a public referendum on the bonds, and nobody knows what the terms of the junk-bond borrowing's going to be, but hey -- Creepy and Fireman Randy are in love with His Lordship, and this is the "final" deal. Because they said so -- got it?

Of course, since this cozy arrangement has been in the works for many, many months, we'd all like to see the actual contracts that we've been waiting for. But the boondoggle-meisters at City Hall haven't favored us with them yet. Instead, we're sent to this page, which is pretty much a sales pitch rather than a set of enforceable legal documents. The actual text of the actual agreements? We'll be lucky if those show up on the internet much before the City Council vote. What you don't know can't hurt you.

I love the mayor's bullet points on this one:

· No impact to the City’s General Fund
· No impact to the City’s ability to provide basic services
· No Urban Renewal funding
Those first two are the same things he told us about the OHSU aerial tram [rim shot] and the SoWhat district -- probably the worst fiscal decisions made by the city in the last quarter-century, or maybe ever. But this time, there are no "urban renewal" shenanigans.

Or maybe not. Alert readers point out that down in the Goose Hollow neighborhood, where PGE Park sits, residents have been put on notice that "urban renewal" is coming to that neck of the woods. If the Paulsons don't get a piece of the action on the current deal, surely they'll get it when they come back looking for more money in a couple of years. (If the league lasts that long.)

Meanwhile, an alert reader with a view of the stadium from right across the street sends along some interesting photos looking from right field to left field. They've ripped up part of the turf and marked off where the 94-year-old sewer pipe sits, seven feet below the surface, waiting to make a big poopy mess:

It's amazing that they're going to try to play minor league baseball on that field starting in early April, while they're building the new soccer stands. If I owned a visiting minor league team, I'd be a little concerned that one of my outfielders might get hurt.

But from whatever corner it arises, resistance is futile. Another eight figures of public debt has already been earmarked for a building that's never made money for anybody in our lifetimes. Here we go. At least the latest documents say that His Lordship and King Henry II are going sign some personal guarantees of something or other in connection with the deal. When the "major" soccer league blows up, it will be comforting to see those two on the chow line with us taxpayers for a nice big plate of crow.

If I had to guess, I'd say that once the soccer deal is signed, the Paulsons will tell us that we simply have to build a baseball stadium for the Beavers somewhere in town, because if we don't, there won't be enough money in the so-called "spectator fund" (which as I recall is already tied up for many years to pay off the last genius renovation of PGE) to pay off the soccer bonds, which we're now agreeing to sign up for. Or something like that. Anyone who has studied Paulson Sr. knows that these guys set you up for one crisis after another, cleaning your clock at every turn. Come back to today's rosy term sheet in five years -- I've downloaded it here -- and I'll bet it will prompt a wistful laugh.

Radio tilts further to the right

It's curtains for Air America radio.

More cell tower madness

The ugliness and health concerns surrounding cell phone antennas don't faze most people, until they find out about them first-hand. So it goes at the Wilshire Market on the corner of Alameda and Fremont Streets in Portland, just up the road from here.

What is "progressive"?

One of our favorite singer-songwriters, Steve Earle, put on a strong solo acoustic show last night at the Aladdin Theater. He played most of his tribute album to Townes Van Zandt, and lots of old chestnuts. The guy's catalog is so deep and his career has been so enduring that part of the show was like an oldies act. Back in the late '60s, the novelty nostalgia group, Sha Na Na, was singing songs that were 12 years old. When Earle launched into "My Old Friend the Blues" -- well, that one's going on twice that age.

At one point late in the show, Earle, who now lives in Greenwich Village in New York, told the audience how lucky we were to be living in Portland, which the country looks up to as a "progressive" city. The Mrs. looked at me as if I was going to disagree with that -- as if I thought Portland wasn't "progressive," or that it shouldn't be.

It's easy to see how that misunderstanding can arise, but nothing could be further from the truth. When Earle sings about his heroes -- Woody Guthrie, Emma Goldman, Joe Hill, Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr. -- I can see how their value systems match those of most Portlanders. They were populists, and at least on its face, Portland is a populist town. And I'm a populist person. I agree with Earle that, however disappointing Obama may be at the moment, we're in a darn better place than we would have been under the people who ran against him.

But wouldn't the figures that Earle's songs conjure up from our past agree with me that the folks currently running our town have their priorities just a little screwed up? Wouldn't those heroes connect with our objections to throwing our city's future into real estate speculation? Wouldn't they see that shiny streetcar lines built through high-rise condo developments suck public resources away from our wonderful poor and middle class neighborhoods -- that is if they don't gentrify them and run the regular people out of town?

I think we need a New Progressivism in Portland -- one that looks after the poor and powerless in our community, but resists the fads that drain money away from that mission, and away from provision of public services to the community as a whole. You don't have to be a Republican to think that "urban renewal," even in its "green" costumes, is the wrong direction for Portland to be going. You don't have to be a tighty righty to think that traffic "couplets" and shiny streetcars are not really improving our livability, but in fact hurting it. You don't have to be a dittohead, or a teabagger, or whatever this year's word is for selfishness, to think that local government is spending too much money on things that working people neither need nor want.

Do you?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Opie's legacy: A $60,000 cleanup bill for "free" wi-fi

Remember Erik "Opie" Sten's goofy dream of free municipal wi-fi? He and his Bus kid minions kept telling us, over and over, "This doesn't cost the city anything." All the while, there was a city staff person, Logan Kleier, who spent full time, and then part time, on this bad idea -- one of many spouting from Opie. But in the mind of a genius, it was still free. (This was before he suddenly and mysteriously left town.)

Well, now it turns out that taking the antennas down off city property is going to cost twice or three times what the contractor, a failing outfit known as MetroFi, said it would. And the taxpayers get to pay the shortfall. Go by streetcar!

Of course, this is nothing compared to the cleanup cost on another brilliant Sten idea, the South Waterfront district. Add four zeroes onto the end of the "wi-fi" cleanup numbers for the hit to the taxpayers from that one.

Let's kill off downtown Portland once and for all

Jack up the cost of parking down there even higher. Jarrett, old buddy -- a lot of us ain't gonna ride your goofy streetcar, no matter how much you charge for a parking space.

Keep Portland beard(ed)

Some things never go out of style in the Rose City.

Another great moment in education

When the kid's smarter than the teachers, he and his parents need counseling.

It's official

This is the last year of the free online New York Times.

And the lights all went out in Massachusetts

Well, it was an interesting year. The Democrats had complete control of the federal government, including 60 votes in the Senate, and what did they do with it?


They were so ineffective, so unfaithful to their supposed party values, that they couldn't pass health care reform of any kind, in a whole year. And they missed the boat on tax reform and any number of other issues as well. Heck, they couldn't even extend the farookin' estate tax.

How did this happen?

The rich old boys in the Senate -- especially on the Democratic side -- sat on their hands and made sure that no serious change took place. Guys like Lieberman, Dodd, and Wyden. Their corporate patrons are so tickled today, they can't stand themselves.

Of course, plenty is still possible, if they're willing to take a stand. But they won't. "We can't do anything with 59 votes -- the Republicans will filibuster! And we can't have that. We have to do the responsible thing -- nothing."

And the little guy gets screwed deeper and deeper into the ground -- so far down that he'll never come back out.

This would never have occurred if the Democratic Party stood for anything. But it no longer does. Nader was right. The media and the blue types are tearing their shirts over Massachusetts, but really nothing has changed. It's the corporations and the bureaucrats against the common man and woman, and guess who's winning.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

That's my last 'dog painted on the wall

So here they are, the final underdogs of the year in our charity pro football pool:

7.5 NY JETS at Indianapolis
4 MINNESOTA at New Orleans

Players must choose which of the two underdogs (in caps) they think will win their game outright -- but of course, to move up past someone else in the standings, they have to pick a 'dog other than the one that that someone else chooses.

All of our players have played with great spirit and skill throughout the season, and we want final picks from them all. Here, however, are the six who still have a shot at placing in the coveted Top 3:

Mark - 44.5
Gordon - 43
genop's mom - 40
Hank - 36.5
Bad Brad - 36
Rick - 33.5

The three best scores for the season get to designate parts of our $420 charity pool to go to their respective favorite charities -- $300, $75, and $45, respectively. Ties will not be broken. For example, if two players tie for second place, each will designate $60 (half of the combined $120 for second and third places).

Oh, the scenarios here. If Mark takes the Jets and they win, he finishes first. But if he takes Minnesota and they win, Gordon could still pass him if Gordon takes the Jets and the Jets win. In any event, unless my math is off, Mark is guaranteed to be somewhere in the Top 3, no matter which game he picks and how it comes out, but no one else is conclusively in the "money."

This is it for the season, folks, and so we want picks from all players and advice from all readers, both about the games and about pool strategy. The full standings are here.

Players, we're back to the normal Saturday night 11:59 deadline, and if you're still in the running for honors and you know who your charity will be, let us know whom it is we'll be rooting for behind the Big Daddies of the NFL.

Recall 2.0 -- any day now

Supposedly, it starts tomorrow. Maybe they'll get the signatures, but unless something new breaks, they'll never get the votes. It will only make Mayor Creepy seem stronger. The opportunity for this was last summer -- too bad it was squandered.

Invitation to charades

The City of Portland has posted some of the design documents for the spiffy new soccer grandstands that the taxpayers are going to build for Little Lord Paulson at PGE Park. They've also announced that the "design review" and land use processes have begun, with hearings in a few weeks.

Of course, the heavy equipment has been on the scene doing renovation work on the stadium since before Christmas. Unless a burning bush talks to Dan Saltzman, and soon, Henry III will get to do whatever he wants, and the peons will learn to love it or else.

Meanwhile, City Council action on the financial side of this shaky deal has been postponed until next week, and the story is that Mayor Creepy, who's off in our nation's capital acting out his fantasies, has only two other votes on the money details. According to this story, Nick Fish and Amanda Fritz are ready to just say no.

Why Tri-Met can't give up on WES

A reader has what sounds like a plausible explanation:

Under federal law, if a transit agency decides a transit project is a failure and stops running it, it has to return the federal grants back to the feds. So if TriMet admits WES is a failure and quits running it, it would owe the feds at least $59 million. They might consider it to be less expensive to keep running it.
Go by streetcar!

Pull the plug

These guys are on acid. "One Waterfront Place is planned to be a 12-story, $100 million commercial office building north of the Broadway Bridge." Let's see: We've got one new downtown office tower almost finished and coming on line in the middle of a depression; another already started and in mothballs with a giant hole in the ground; and we're going to need another one?

Delusional projects like this are keeping lots of minions looking busy at the Portland Development Commission. What a waste of tax dollars. The sooner Portland puts "urban renewal" out of its misery, the sooner it will start to recover. Get city government out of the real estate development business!

Dude, you're all like busted

One of the mentally ill people who roam Portland streets at night spray painting and writing their inane "tags" on other people's property has been taken into custody. He's a 19-year-old kid, probably from the 'burbs, apprehended, apparently in broad daylight, last Wednesday. He's been writing "Glimpse" on things. If he's victimized you, you might want to contact the city's graffitti prevention coordinator (503-823-5860) to make sure he or his dad pay you for the damage.

Monday, January 18, 2010

What's under your backyard?

It's something definitely worth knowing.

Happy anniversary, baby -- got you on my... mi-i-i-i-ind

"I slept with Mayor Creepy -- people will pay to read my life story."

This will make cyclists safer?

Paint bike symbols on the pavement on every street?

Why I'm breaking up with you

You're not green enough for me.

The real class war ahead

The United States had 2.3 state and local government employees per 100 citizens in 1946 and has 6.5 state and local government employees per 100 citizens now. In 1947, Hodges writes, 78 percent of the national income went to the private sector, 16 percent to the federal sector, and 6 percent to the state and local government sector. Now 54 percent of the economy is private, 28 percent goes to the feds, and 18 percent goes to state and local governments. The trend lines are ominous.

Bigger government means more government employees. Those employees then become a permanent lobby for continual government growth. The nation may have reached critical mass; the number of government employees at every level may have gotten so high that it is politically impossible to roll back the bureaucracy, rein in the costs, and restore lost freedoms.

People who are supposed to serve the public have become a privileged elite that exploits political power for financial gain and special perks. Because of its political power, this interest group has rigged the game so there are few meaningful checks on its demands. Government employees now receive far higher pay, benefits, and pensions than the vast majority of Americans working in the private sector. Even when they are incompetent or abusive, they can be fired only after a long process and only for the most grievous offenses.

It’s a two-tier system in which the rulers are making steady gains at the expense of the ruled. The predictable results: Higher taxes, eroded public services, unsustainable levels of debt, and massive roadblocks to reforming even the poorest performing agencies and school systems. If this system is left to grow unchecked, we will end up with a pale imitation of the free society envisioned by the Founders.

The whole thing is here. It's sobering reading, even if there were no soccer or streetcar boondoggles on the table. Throw those in, and you can see the freight train at the end of the tunnel.

When Reagan was selling this line 30 years ago, he was mostly full of hot air. Not so now.

Is Phil Knight leaving Oregon?

At least, his weekend rant against Measures 66 and 67 seems to suggest so:

One Fortune Global 500 company remains. But its founder and chairman is not merely an economic man. He has webs between his toes. But he, too, has some limits.
I wonder where he's going to go to get away from taxes. I just don't see him at the Albertson's on Fourth Plain.

But seriously, it would be a shame if Knight packed up and left the state after all these years. Besides, there are so many other people we would like to see depart first.

UPDATE, 1/27, 5:27 p.m.: We do what we can to be helpful, here.

This app blows -- literally

Well, it's about time they came up with something useful for the iPhone!

We love dreamers


New York Times website about to go pay

And with it many readers will doubtlessly go away. Interesting, tough call -- there's no easy way for the news biz these days.

Sweet, bitter goods from Paula's Bake Shop

I can't stop watching this video. It's some of the worst acting you'll ever see, but I can't help savoring every second. The entire package is a work of art, but two moments jump out. At about 8 seconds in, the woman on the left goes into a total Paulie Walnuts delivery from "The Sopranos." Yo, check out "corporations"! And her quotation mark gesture seems fueled by some sort of artificial stimulant. Scary!

But then it gets more strangely seductive. At 14 seconds, the gal on the right sums it up, with a look that would wither concrete: "What a crock." She's seething with rage. The two women look ticked off enough that they might grab a couple of knives from behind the counter and go out and do something besides cut pie. Pinch me!

The poor middle-aged guy in the piece is completely upstaged. He doesn't even register.

I'll be glad when the election is over, because I'm hopelessly hooked.

For the day when the YouTube video is pulled, here are some memories that will linger on:

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Lone 'dog survives

The Chargers found a way to lose today, this year to the upstart New York Jets. In our charity pro football underdog pool, only Sidney picks up points this week -- his first points of the season. Here are the standings going into the last two games next Sunday:

Mark - 44.5
Gordon - 43
genop's mom - 40
Hank - 36.5
Bad Brad - 36
Rick - 33.5
Doug - 31.5
George - 31
genop - 24.5
Michael W. - 24
Annie - 23
Andy - 21
Robert - 20
jmh - 18.5
Kevin - 16.5
Dan - 15
Michael K. - 12
Gary - 10.5
Sidney - 7
Flynn - 0

Some things will be decided when the lines are posted on Tuesday or Wednesday, and since there are only two games next time, the pool may be decided before kickoff. We'll run through the scenarios when we post the points for the final games.

Eco-roof? Try an eco-wall.

When the feds pass out the pork these days, "green" gets a cut. This one will be fun to watch. What can possibly go wrong?

"Green" sells everything

Including Jesus.

Bend geothermal project still full steam ahead

The U.S. Energy Department -- the folks who run Hanford -- assure us that the earthquakes will be no big deal.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Election porn double feature

Times are tough, but the government employees unions seem to have plenty of dough to play puppetmaster with. Here are a couple of glossy mailers we received today touting Oregon's pending tax increase ballot measures:

It's the usual shakedown -- pay us more, or else Grandma and Daisy get hurt:

We're voting yes on 66, and no on 67. But the loathing that this sort of propaganda engenders is enough to make us want to vote no on both.

Hidden treasure

We've just come back from an incredible display of thousands of antique toys and banks:

It's right in the heart of Portland, but impossible to find unless you know where to look. Have you been there yet?

End up like a 'dog that's been beat too much

It's time for the big daddies of pro football to narrow it down to the final four teams, and so it's the next-to-last weekend in our charity underdog pol. Here are this week's selections:

7 ARIZONA at New Orleans - George, Annie, Robert, Michael K., Hank, jmh
7 NY JETS at San Diego - Sidney
6 BALTIMORE at Indianapolis - Kevin, Bad Brad, Doug, Mark, Andy, Rick
2.5 DALLAS at Minnesota - Gordon

My records show no pick by Genop (or his mom), Michael W., Dan, or Flynn. Please let me know if I've missed something, but if not, they sit out. (Gary's retired.)

The standings are here. This weekend could well decide some things, or maybe not. Enjoy the games, everybody!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Have a great holiday weekend

Hang in there -- summer's on its way

Here's news to make our short winter days seem a little longer. They've announced four of the five Sunday Parkways events for this coming spring and summer in Portland. They are:

May 16 - Northeast - connecting Wilshire, Fernhill, Alberta, and Woodlawn Parks

June 27 - North - connecting Peninsula, Arbor Lodge, and Kenton Parks

July 18 - East - connecting Lents and Ed Benedict Parks (coinciding with the East Portland Exposition)

August 15 - Southeast - connecting Col. Summers, Laurelhurst, and Sunnyside Parks (coinciding with the Hawthorne Street Fair)

That May one up here our way could be pretty wet. I can't imagine that thousands of inexperienced cyclists on a wet track would end well, and so we had all better pray for dry.

After our second parkways excursion last summer, we decided that the route between the parks isn't particularly friendly if you aren't on a bicycle. But the scenes at the parks themselves are fun -- worth driving to, even.

Turn on, but don't tune in

We had a pretty good discussion here yesterday about what the new Oregon cell phone driving law actually prohibits. "Using" a "mobile communication device" (including a cell phone) in any way while operating a motor vehicle is a violation, unless one of the exceptions applies. That would appear to include reading e-mail, checking sports scores, and using Shazam to identify that cool song on the car radio. Moreover, it appears that one is "operating" a vehicle if the ride is turned on and the driver is behind the wheel, even if it's just sitting at a long stop light.

However, it appears that merely turning the phone on or off, or turning any of its features on or off, does not constitute "using" it for purposes of this law. And so if you need an excuse, you might try, "Your honor, I was just turning the ringer off," and see how you do. Good luck with that.

An interesting question is whether using one of the local programs on a phone, which requires no internet communication, is an impermissible "use." My bet would be that it is, but that would seemingly discriminate between the address book on an old-fashioned Palm Pilot (which I think would be legal, because that's not a communication device, is it?) and the same data on a smart phone. If you're looking at your calendar on Google calendar, you're in trouble. But if it's just on your creaky old PDA, with no phone in it, you very well might be all right; that would be just like looking at a paper Filofax (remember those?). So stand by with, "Officer, it's not a phone -- trust me!"

Here's how the law reads, according to the official state legislature website:

811.507. (1) As used in this section:
(a) “Hands-free accessory” means an attachment or built-in feature for or an addition to a mobile communication device, whether or not permanently installed in a motor vehicle, that when used allows a person to maintain both hands on the steering wheel.

(b) “Mobile communication device” means a text messaging device or a wireless, two-way communication device designed to receive and transmit voice or text communication.

(2) A person commits the offense of operating a motor vehicle while using a mobile communication device if the person, while operating a motor vehicle on a highway, uses a mobile communication device.

(3) This section does not apply:

(a) To a person who is summoning medical or other emergency help if no other person in the vehicle is capable of summoning help;

(b) To a person using a mobile communication device for the purpose of farming or agricultural operations;

(c) To a person operating an ambulance or emergency vehicle;

(d) To a person 18 years of age or older who is using a hands-free accessory;

(e) To a person operating a motor vehicle while providing public safety services or emergency services as a volunteer;

(f) To a person operating a motor vehicle while acting in the scope of the person's employment as a public safety officer, as defined in ORS 348.270;

(g) To a person operating a motor vehicle in the scope of the person's employment if operation of the motor vehicle is necessary for the person's job;

(h) To a person activating or deactivating the mobile communication device or a function of the device;

(i) To a person who holds a valid amateur radio operator license issued or any other license issued by the Federal Communications Commission and is operating an amateur radio;

(j) To a person who operates a two-way radio device that transmits radio communication transmitted by a station operating on an authorized frequency within the citizens' or family radio service bands in accordance with rules of the Federal Communications Commission;

(k) To a person using a function of the mobile communication device that allows for only one-way voice communication while the person is:

(A) Operating a motor vehicle in the scope of the person's employment;

(B) Providing transit services to persons with disabilities or to senior citizens; or

(C) Participating in public safety or emergency service activities.

(4) The offense described in this section, operating a motor vehicle while using a mobile communication device, is a Class D traffic violation.

Have fun on the loophole hunt, everybody.


Today is my 56th birthday. And with all due respect to the people in my past, especially my mom and my siblings, I've got to say that I'm having the time of my life right now. I've knocked on a lot of doors; a few of them wouldn't open, but most of them did. It's great where I am, including (but not limited to) on this blog. Yeah!

Follow the brick sewer road

Shocking! The papers on the Paulson stadium scam still aren't ready for public consumption. But the construction project rolls on, of course -- work's already started. It's pretty obvious that with the possible exception of Steve Janik, the city's lawyer on the deal (sort of), nobody involved in this level 9 fiasco knows what they're doing. And they're hiding all sorts of stuff from the public.

The collective nervous breakdown known as the Adams administration continues -- now in its second year! Any more, when people ask me how things in Portland are, I act like I'm in Maine.

I thought they were shutting this turkey down

We got an interesting piece of junk mail yesterday. It came to "Our Friends at" our home address -- always a sign of personalized service. And it was immediately recognizable as a pitch for a health club:

A little pushy, though -- and lots of fine print:

Look a little closer, and the source of this mailing becomes more apparent:

There it is, on the return address:

I have a question for the younger readers of this blog. When you write "fail," does it have to be all caps, or can it be upper and lower case?

Mess with China? Better call your IP guy first.

Here's a distressing Google-related story out of L.A.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

We are not all witness

An epic battle on the hardwood floor in Salt Lake City tonight. Mr. Lebron simply took it to them in the fourth quarter, seemingly clinching the game with a remarkable individual effort. But then Cleveland missed some free throws, and an unknown Utah rookie from the D-League dropped the big three-point shot on them at the buzzer. The hometown timekeeper may have helped a little. Anyway, great theater. I've watched a lot of basketball, but I haven't seen much like that.

Change of venue

Last night, while watching Portland's quirky, irresistible sports talk TV show Talkin'
, we noted that they had moved from their old bar location to a new studio inside the Rose Quarter. The new set actually makes the panelists all look better, but the funky charm of coming from a bar booth is gone.

Now we see that they had to move -- the bar they used to broadcast from has closed.

You can't even text while stopped for a red light

At least, the Portland police are now ticketing for that. Seems a bit overzealous. If the car's not rolling, what's the harm? Can you look at the face of your cell phone at all?

Batteries on paper

What will they think of next?

East side neighbor

An alert reader reminds us that the sewer under the street that collapsed in the Buckman neighborhood three years ago -- swallowing up a huge city maintenance bureau truck -- was of the same type and vintage as the sewer running under PGE Park, which Portland is going to renovate for "major" league soccer. Huge new grandstands will be built over part of that sewer line. If there's a giant sinkhole at PGE (or whatever it's renamed -- maybe I [Heart] Goldman Sachs Stadium), let's hope it happens when nobody's there cheering on their favorite second-tier soccer stars. Or else Little Lord Paulson may call it a rollercoaster ride and charge extra.

Another odd moment in the Portland reservoir saga

The federal environmental folks have ordered Portland to disconnect or cover its open reservoirs on Mount Tabor and in Washington Park. The letter was sent on December 16, but Fireman Randy's office just noticed it this week, about a month later, because it had been "misplaced" over the holidays.

Uh huh.

Between this and the mysterious Thanksgiving weekend E. coli scare, the official story here just doesn't sound right. Something funny's going on. Do you smell that? Smells like... like.... condos! Or something equally nefarious.

But anyway, after all the craziness in 2002 and 2003, when Big Pipe Saltzman wanted to bury the reservoirs and the Fireman was literally knighted by the Mount Tabor neighborhood for derailing that plan (and Saltzman's other plan, to sell off part of Mount Tabor Park to the nearby Warner Pacific College, at the behest of the Scone), now the reservoirs will have to be decommissioned after all. And it sounds like Randy's decided that it's not worth fighting over any more. Mood swing?

Tri-Met: We did great in the snowstorm

Transit agency manager "Crocodile" Fred Hansen and bobblehead board chair George Passadore ought to sue their geriatrics physicians for malpractice. Something is definitely off with their medications.


A nation whose history is already one of great suffering now finds itself the victim of a devastating earthquake. The dead are expected to number in the tens of thousands. More than a million are without homes.

People all over the world are responding, including from our neck of the woods. Mercy Corps asked that I post something asking readers to help. I'm happy to do so. If you have a few bucks available to help try to restore a lost country, go here.

Some day, a big one will come Oregon's way. We won't be prepared for it, and we'll need a lot of outside help. Excuses won't sound too good to us then. Let's give up a few store-bought coffees and do the right thing with the money saved.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

PGE Park sewer issues float to surface

All of a sudden the sewer running under PGE Park has risen to prominence in the apparently tense negotiations between the City of Portland and Little Lord Paulson for the re-renovation of the stadium for soccer. We blogged pretty extensively about that sewer last week. It's old and creaky, and it may or may not withstand the blows that come from heavy construction.

Now all of a sudden the city's sewer director, Dean Marriott, is giving out interviews to the media (see the O's story here, and WW's here) about the problems that may arise with this crucial stretch of sewer in any stadium construction project. Either he's been directed by Mayor Creepy and Fireman Randy to do so, or he's defying the mayor's office (which under a previous occupant is said to have tried unsuccessfully to fire Marriott) and throwing his own monkey wrench into the Paulson deal. Either way, it seems less likely that we're going to see final papers on the transaction tomorrow, as was previously suggested.

The Tanner Creek sewer has an interesting history. At one point early in its existence, in 1904, it collapsed, swallowing up about a half dozen streetcars. This apparently took place at 18th and Alder, which is basically right across the street from where PGE Park stands today. After that, the sewer was shored up; current city records put its construction date at 1916.

The last time PGE Park was ripped up, in 2001 or so, Turner Construction, which also has the no-bid deal on the current proposed re-renovation, did a lot of work on the stadium. Did it do anything as part of that project to shore up the sewer line? We hear through the grapevine that it might have. But the best long-term solution, of course, would be to take a few years and re-route the sewer -- which, in the haste to accommodate "major league" (by U.S. standards) soccer, neither the city nor Little Lord Paulson wants to do.

Can you say "fiasco"? This one's going to rank right up there with the OHSU aerial tram [rim shot].

Basking in the glow of one's own stupidity

Here in Portland, when the bureaucrats screw up, they never admit it. They'll just tell you that what they did is a smashing success. Then they repeat that message over and over until the unemployed barista types and Portland State planning mafia start to repeat it. The chant grows louder and louder, and eventually it becomes the accepted wisdom.

Here's the latest:

As if.

Look busy

Old Dan "Big Pipe" Saltzman has got quite the cast of characters falling all over each other to run against him for Portland City Council, and so he's doing what he does for a few months every four years -- wake up briefly and do something. Yesterday he announced that he's sending out the cops to enforce the new state law against cell phone use while driving. It's fascinating that it takes a directive from a city commissioner to have that happen, but hey, it's something. I hear they even busted a certain prominent newspaper editor for an on-the-road cell phone infraction shortly after the Commish's announcement.

Big Pipe's also amping up his slap fight with Fireman Randy about whose bureau is more screwed up -- Saltzman's police bureau or Leonard's water bureau. Now Danno is making formal requests for water bureau documents under the public records laws. Meeee-ow! To paraphrase Martin Mull, "it's like high school with the taxpayers' money."

The whole feud between the two councilmen goes back to last summer's infamous Lents Park baseball stadium deal, which Danny killed. The Fireman couldn't make good on those dreams he had formulated with Little Lord Paulson on their moonlight ride through Central Park in New York. This disappointment came after the Police Chief Rosie told the mayor that she'd rather be writing parking tickets than have the Fireman as the police commissioner. He's probably looking for a bus that he can throw both Big Pipe and the chief under at the same time.

Meanwhile, it appears that Saltzman may try to stay on the City Council by running against Leonard instead of against his real opponents. If so, then friends and neighbors, we are going to have one heck of an interesting time the next few months. Especially with the Chasse trial going on -- leave some space in your diary.

So where is the panel of experts on the Paulson stadium deal?

Back in July, when the Portland City Council was basking in the glow of an early version of the PGE Park soccer deal with Little Lord Paulson, our mayor made a few of his trademark moves. First, as you'll recall, the deal wasn't finalized until 10 minutes before the City Council meeting at which it was aired, to the applause of the throng of scarf-clad soccer dudes who had been wheeled in for a show of sudsy enthusiasm. Other than Paulson, the Sam-Rand twins, and the hooligans, everybody in the room was ambushed -- no time to ask, or even to formulate, any questions.

But then came a truly classic Adams moment. He's never satisfied simply to lie to your face -- he always has to gild the lily with a little extra malarkey. For the thrill of it, I guess, although to know for sure you'd have to ask a shrink. Not only does he falsely deny having sex with the teenage intern -- he makes himself out as a mentor to the kid. Not only does he falsely accuse his opponent of lying about the scandal -- he makes the guy out to be a homophobe.

On this particular afternoon, as he rammed home the Paulson deal over dozens of unanswered questions, the mayor had to go one step further and add this tidbit (at around 74 minutes into the show, which starts with a few seconds of loud audio feedback):

Just one comment that I failed to mention at the outset. We'll be coming back to council with a panel of experts on facility renovations, so that will be giving the city council expert opinions on the contract that will be proposed. So, we're lucky that this facility was renovated within our lifetime, and some of the professional staff that worked on the previous renovation we have retained, or they have volunteered to sign up again. So we're gonna get really good experienced experts to give us the kind of due diligence rigor to make sure that this contract -- if it's eventually approved -- that this contract is really in the best interest of taxpayers.
Well, here we are more than six months after he banged that jerky gavel of his. We're told that we're all finally going to get to see the contract tomorrow. Will the expert panel's report be ready by then? Has the panel even met yet? Does anybody know who's on it?

If it's like everything else that's gone down on this deal, then there is no panel, and that was just one more little lie piled onto the steaming pile of falsehoods dumped on this city by its dreadful figurehead. And if the experts do show up, it will be quite amusing to poke around and see why they might want to be so enthusiastic about such a dubious project.

The 911 folks defend themselves

Here's an unusual posting on the web page of the City of Portland's 911 communications operation. It responds to a TV news story that questioned whether 911 systems performed as well as they should in medical emergencies.

Having once been greatly assisted by 911 in such circumstances, I'm a strong supporter of our local emergency operators. And thus it was some dismay that I read down their posting to this passage:

9-1-1 Funding – The Oregon Telephone Tax:

The 75 cent tax that is collected on your phone bill each month pays for a variety of services related to 9-1-1. In addition to paying for all of the 9-1-1 telephone-answering equipment throughout Oregon, this tax fully funds the Telecommunicator training at DPSST (the state's Department of Public Safety Standards and Training).

In early 2009, due to State revenue constraints, 8.1 million of the 9-1-1 tax and interest dollars were transferred to the State's General Fund.

Pass a tax on one premise, use the money for another -- not cool, but all too typical in our neck of the woods.

It was pretty gutsy of whoever wrote that post to mention the raid on the 911 office's funding. As we all ponder Measures 66 and 67, I suspect the pressure is on for all the bureaucrats to fall into step behind our fearless leaders in Salem -- and no questions asked, please.

Success story at Tri-Met

The only rational explanation for most of the recent decision-making by the management at Tri-Met is that they're trying to destroy what was once a decent, bus-centered metropolitan mass transit system. They're succeeding. Cut convenient, flexible bus service for a handful of clumsy trains and streetcar lines and yes, Virginia, your ridership will plummet.

Blaming it all on the recession is a nice spin, and there's always some scribe at the Oregonian who will parrot back what the old coots at Tri-Met tell him, but many knowledgeable folks in the community won't be buying that one.

Birds = 'dogs

The Ravens and the Cardinals are among the underdogs available for the players in our charity pro football pool this weekend -- the next-to-last week of our game. If any of the 'dogs (in caps below) win their game outright, the players who pick them receive the points listed, for purposes of our pool:

7 ARIZONA at New Orleans
7 NY JETS at San Diego
6 BALTIMORE at Indianapolis
2.5 DALLAS at Minnesota

Players, please remember: Once again this week, the deadline for your pick is 11:59 p.m. on Friday.

The underdogs are all on the road, and against rested opponents, as they always are on this weekend of the season. Last year, three of the four 'dogs at this level won their games, including our avian friends from Baltimore and Arizona.

Perusing the current pool standings, we find quite a handful of players who are still within striking distance of the top three finishes, which will get to designate gifts to their favorite charities. It will be easier to leapfrog other players this weekend than next -- only two games are on the slate the final week -- and so now more than ever, it is a time for wise, strategic choices.

And readers' advice, of course.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Coming soon to Fox

Sarah and Conan.

Can't wait to hear what Triumph thinks of it.

Yes, Chasse trial might move -- might

Readers are abuzz about the news that the City of Portland is trying to move the federal civil trial in the James Chasse homicide case out of Oregon. This has been pending for a while, and we noted it here just before Christmas. Knowledgable readers were quick to point out that the move is not automatic.

Every day now, I shall be released

An alert reader with too much time on his hands has noted with amusement our press release meter, plotting the number of media missives emanating this year from the state offices of Attorney General John Kroger and Treasurer Ben Westlund. And to put the Kroger number in perspective, the reader has charted the volume of releases issued by the attorney general last year, and by his predecessor, Hardy Myers, during his term of office. Why not?

The tale of the tape for Kroger in '09:

DaysWork DaysPress ReleasesPR/DPR/WD
May31 208 0.260.40
November30 19110.370.58

And here are Myers's numbers for 10 years in office:

1999 - 37
2000 - 45
2001 - 74
2002 - 62
2003 - 50
2004 - 54
2005 - 68
2006 - 67
2007 - 68
2008 - 69
Career total - 594

It appears that Kroger may pass Myers's career total in but a single term. And announce the fact, no doubt.

Google to China: Shape up or else

The Chinese may not be afraid of the U.S. military, but let's see how they deal with something even more powerful.

Splitting our ticket

The ballots are here for the two Oregon tax increase ballot measures in the January 26 election. We've been brooding a lot about these measures, and think they both stink from a policy standpoint. But we are not above the temptation to vote based on our own self-interest.

We're open to the suggestion that the well-to-do (defined as people with much higher incomes than ours) ought to be paying more than they already do for the wonderful lives that America makes possible for them. Under George Bush, federal taxes on the wealthy have been cut to the bone, and the Dunthorpe set has saved a bundle over the last eight years due to irresponsible revenue reductions at the federal level. They can afford to be soaked some more. Measure 66 does that, but Measure 67 doesn't. The taxes imposed by 67 would be passed on to the little guys -- the consumers and the workers -- by the big, bad businesses that the measure supposedly targets.

And so we're splitting our ticket -- holding our nose and voting yes on 66, but saying no to 67. As far as we're concerned, the legislature can have part of what it says it needs, and like the rest of us, it will just have to make do. Maybe it can lay off some of the 950 six-figure-earning bureaucrats listed in this Excel file. And the seven-figure football coaches with them.

The tempest

Fireman Randy's decided he's going to reform the Portland police bureau. He says that the thoroughness and transparency of internal investigations into alleged police misconduct should not depend on the "mood" of the bureau.

Agreed, up to a point. But this implies that the bureau is sometimes in the mood to play fair with the public about its mistakes. That rarely, if ever, occurs. The Portland police union seems to have only two moods: arrogant and more belligerent.

More importantly, the Fireman's new crusade is an interesting perspective from a guy who's been on the City Council for what -- seven years? As one cop atrocity after another has gone down with impunity. Why the bee in his bonnet all of a sudden? Can it be... I don't know... a mood swing?

That'll teach ya to come sniffing around

Here's a heck of a story: Some neighborhood activists go down to the Portland Water Bureau to look at some public records relating to a big construction contract. A bureaucrat watches over their shoulders while they look through the papers, then presents them with a bill for $57.72 for two hours of "supervision" and photocopies of eight pages.

And there's this:

Within the first few minutes, Jones noticed she wasn’t given any of the names of the people on the panel that reviewed the bids for this contract. Jones had specifically requested the names of the people involved in the review panel/contract award process, so we asked Small if she could help Jones get that piece of information. Small was told by Mike Stuhr (head engineer) and Annette Dubishinsky that PWB was not authorized to disclose panel member identities, by city code. Jones corrected staff -- city code prohibits the disclosure of reviewer identities only until the point when the contract is awarded. The contract for Powell Butte Res 3 has already been signed. Shortly thereafter, Mike Stuhr appeared with the names. The seven panel members were as follows: 1) Jerry More, PWB; 2) Michael Angerinos, PWB Citizen, 3) Crystal Yezman, PWB, 4) Stan VandeBergh, PWB, 5) George Lozovoy, Parks Bureau, 6) Tamra Dickson, citizen, 7) Teresa Elliot, PWB. Notice that PWB does not seem to be following the City Auditor's report on consultant contracts, which advises against loading bid review panels with Bureau staff.
Wow. And why would they be so touchy about the bid papers on a huge contract? I know what that means back where I grew up. Good thing we're in Portlandia, where that sort of thing never happens.

Nigel, you missed one

I see that Mr. Jaquiss of the Double Dub took the No-on-66-and-67 folks to task the other night for alleged inaccuracies in their campaign literature. Shortly after seeing his story yesterday, I opened my mailbox and found some election porn from the Yes camp:

I was particularly intrigued by this section:

Kind of makes it look like The Oregonian has endorsed Measure 67, doesn't it?

The truth, of course, is quite the opposite.

Even Willie Brown gets it

The government workers' unions are bleeding all of us dry. Public administration is collapsing under the weight of their pensions -- and it's going to get worse, much worse. When people ask how you can vote no on a tax increase measure that is going to "save the children," just tell them Willie sent you:

The deal used to be that civil servants were paid less than private sector workers in exchange for an understanding that they had job security for life.

But we politicians, pushed by our friends in labor, gradually expanded pay and benefits to private-sector levels while keeping the job protections and layering on incredibly generous retirement packages that pay ex-workers almost as much as current workers.

Talking about this is politically unpopular and potentially even career suicide for most officeholders. But at some point, someone is going to have to get honest about the fact that 80 percent of the state, county and city budget deficits are due to employee costs.

Either we do something about it at the ballot box, or a judge will do something about in Bankruptcy Court. And if you think I'm kidding, just look at Vallejo.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Linchpin countdown

Word on the street is that Portlanders will be deemed worthy to see the proposed contract between the city and Little Lord Paulson for the PGE Park re-renovation this Thursday. Given how screwy the last set of documents on this no-bid deal was, several months ago, it ought to be a humdinger. Junk bonds, rent holidays -- it's bound to have a lot of, shall we say, creative features.

It will be quite a relief to have a draft agreement in circulation, however, because until then, the most recent status update for the deal is as reported by Mayor Creepy, who said last Wednesday, "I feel like we're in the zone." What an unpleasant image, coming from him.

Never mind

We blogged over the weekend about the fact that the federal civil trial of the lawsuit over California's same-sex marriage law was going to be televised, but only in a few other courtrooms, such as the Pioneer Courthouse here in Portland. To us, that seemed pretty stingy. But forget even that -- the U.S. Supreme Court has blocked the video relay outside of the courthouse in which the trial is being held.

Maybe they ought to turn off the electricity and conduct the whole proceeding by candlelight.

Real "creatives" fight urban renewal

That's what's happening in Hamburg. Now that Portland has started streetcar madness on the east side in the hopes of turning Produce Row into the next Pearl District, will this sort of thing transpire here?

Attention: Span deficit

The planned I-5 replacement bridge over the Columbia River may be the first public works project ever to cost more than a billion dollars before they even start construction. Here's the latest flush of the public money toilet.

Passing a milepost

Earlier today, this blog had the 4 millionth unique visit in its 7½-year history, as counted by the popular SiteMeter monitoring service. That's a lot of visits, and we're grateful for all of you. Writing this thing is a lot of fun, and educational for us.

The last time we rolled the millions digit on visits was last February 1. And so it took us 344 days to gather 1 million visits, which works out to a rate of about 2,907 visits a day. The previous million had taken 380 days, or around 2,632 visits a day. That's roughly 10 percent growth in readership over the past year.

Thanks to all our readers, especially the dedicated group that's always sending us new material to write and think about.

Who ya taxin'?

It's high time we weighed in on Measure 67, the business tax increase referendum that we Oregon voters will be passing judgment on quite shortly. Measure 67 is the companion to Measure 66, which would raise income taxes on wealthy individuals living and working in the state. Proponents and opponents have lumped the two issues together for cheers or brickbats, but in our opinion, they're really different and ought to be considered separately. We blogged a bit about 66 here; now let's take up 67.

There's a lot not to like about this measure, and not a whole lot to like. One of the worst aspects of 67 is that, like 66, it's retroactive. Do you realize that we're voting now to raise taxes on money that businesses received more than a year ago? Taxes for the year 2009 should have been settled by the summer of 2008; instead, we're piling them on in 2010, in retrospect. Nothing turns business people off more than this sort of shenanigans. Taxpayers have a right to know where they stand before they make their investments and do their work. To wait until the year is over and then decide how much to tax people -- well, the legislature ought to hang its head in shame for such lawless conduct. Even a retroactive tax increase of a month or two is unfair -- but 13 months? Pool doesn't get any dirtier than that.

Another minus this measure has going against it is complexity. Among the things it does is treat partnerships, limited liability companies, and S corporations as taxable entities, whereas federal tax law ignores them. The more Oregon law deviates from the federal rules, the more complicated and confusing things become. Moreover, most small businesses in these categories are about to be taxed by Oregon for the first time. Granted, it's only $150 a year -- for now -- but it's a bad symbol, if nothing else. Not only are the owners of profitable companies taxed -- that's always been the rule, and nothing in 67 will change it -- but now the firms themselves would also have to pay a tax.

By far the worst part of Measure 67 is its regressive nature. The proponents are pontificating on our TV screens about how "banks and credit card companies" are going to bear the brunt of the new taxes -- making it sound as though we're voting to tax someone else. But people, business taxes are passed on to consumers and employees. The owners don't pay the taxes and then somehow neglect to pass them along.

Measure 67 is supposed to raise $255 million. Divided by the state's 3.4 million people, that's $75 for the average consumer or employee. And it's like a sales tax -- there's no graduated rate structure. The prices of goods and services are going to go up, and everyone who buys a unit of the goods and services will pay the same passed-on tax.

Unlike 66, this is not a tax on somebody else. Oregon consumers and workers are going to wind up paying whatever 67 raises. And it isn't going to be just the customers and employees of the banks and credit card companies -- it will be the customers and employees of pretty much every business in the state.

And it is not going to be cheap. For profitable companies, the top income tax rate goes up from 6.6% to 7.9% for 2009-2010. That's about a 20% increase in tax dollars charged.

One of the "parade of horribles" being wheeled out to show what will happen if 67 fails is the prediction that the state's credit rating will go down; without 67, we're told, the government won't be able to borrow as much money as it would if the measure passes. If ever there was a reason to vote against a measure, that's it, in our book! Government at all levels is immorally plunging our kids deeper and deeper into debt. It needs to stop. If failure of 67 contributes to cutting up the credit cards in Salem, that alone would be worth the inconvenience.

The prospect of taxing some corporations on their gross receipts, even if they're having a losing year, has definitely got the opponents' dander up. Under 67, corporations will have to pay the greater of their regular income tax (imposed only on profits) or a minimum tax based on their gross receipts. The minimum tax rate would be roughly 0.1% of Oregon sales. For a company with gross receipts from Oregon of $100 million, that's $100,000.

We don't find that aspect of the measure too troubling. Corporations play so many games with their deductions that the U.S. corporate income tax has become a bit of a laughingstock around the world. Companies who are making their shareholders and executives quite rich have figured out many devious ways to look as though they're losing money when the tax man shows up. For the government to have a gross receipts tax as a backup makes pretty good sense. Our neighbor to the north, the State of Washington, has had a gross receipts tax forever, and it seems to work just fine. Certainly nobody up there has died from it.

We'll leave aside, for now, some of the heavy-handed tactics that have been used to sell Measure 67. They're worthy of another post. But even if the proponents were behaving like angels, the product they're pitching doesn't impress us.

About the only argument in favor of 67 that we find appealing -- aside from the fact that state is desperate for money right now -- is the idea that the owners of business entities receive an enormous economic advantage from state corporate laws that limit owner liability. If harm is done to an innocent bystander by a corporation or a limited liability company, for example, the owners generally don't have to pay for the damage; only the company itself is liable. That's quite a privilege, and the state is well justified in exacting a pound of flesh for it. Even for an unprofitable company, $150 a year isn't a lot to ask.

In the end, though, we'll be hard pressed to vote for Measure 67. Disguised as a tax on the bad guys, it's essentially a tax increase on everyone who lives or shops in Oregon. Right now, we can't afford it.

1,000 jobs a week

That's how many the Portland area lost in 2009. It's going to be a long, long time getting those back. But hey! Let's build a soccer stadium -- maybe a baseball stadium, too! And raises for all the bureaucrats.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Miss Fareless Square? Try Wear-less Square.

We're not sure how to react to people riding around on Tri-Met in their underwear. It's fun when clean-cut hipsters do it as a goof on a Sunday, but surely you don't want to encourage this sort of thing for all of the mass transit customers, 24-7-365.

Next thing you know, this guy will be shaving people's legs.

Party's over

We're always one of the last households to break down our Christmas gear. But hey, the 12 days have come and gone, and this crowd is heading back into its boxes and down to the basement for another year:

As the raven flies, so go the 'dogs

The Ravens' victory over the Patsies today adds points to the season-long totals of five players in our charity pro football underdog pool. Here are the standings with just two weeks to go in the contest:

Mark - 44.5
Gordon - 43
genop's mom - 40
Hank - 36.5
Bad Brad - 36
Rick - 33.5
Doug - 31.5
George - 31
genop - 24.5
Michael W. - 24
Annie - 23
Andy - 21
Robert - 20
jmh - 18.5
Kevin - 16.5
Dan - 15
Michael K. - 12
Gary -10.5
Sidney - 0
Flynn - 0

We'll have four more games to play with next week. It should be quite a chess match for the players at the top. The slate of games will be posted here Tuesday or Wednesday.

Why build affordable housing?

Why not just convert all the failed condo units?

A true inconvenience

When the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit announced a while back that it was going to allow video cameras into federal courtrooms for civil trials, I thought: "About time. Let people watch the wheels of justice turn without having to go down to the courthouse, which they'll never do."

Well, surprise! Even with the cameras, you'll have to go down to the courthouse to watch. They just announced that the big federal trial of California's same-sex marriage case, which starts tomorrow, is going to be televised, but get this: The live feed will be only to a handful of other federal courthouses on the West Coast (and one in Brooklyn, New York). Here in Oregon, if you want to watch the trial, you'll have to head to the Pioneer Courthouse to watch the big screen in the courtroom there (if there's enough room for the number of spectators who show up).

With all due respect, that's pretty silly. First of all, we just spent mega-millions turning that courthouse into an armed fortress so that your average Joes and Janes will stay out of it. Now we're going to make it the TV viewing station? Will people on both sides of the case be allowed to stand up, cheer, and throw rolls of toilet paper when something good happens for their side -- or will regular courtroom decorum be required? (And if the latter, who will enforce it?) The scene at the Pioneer Courthouse might actually be more interesting than the trial itself. Perhaps we could put cameras in that courtroom, too.

But all kidding aside, confining the viewing stations to federal courthouses eviscerates the public accessibility aspect of this experiment, which I thought was the whole point. Sheesh, Ninth Circuit, could you spare it?

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Big quake off Eureka, Cal.

A place that produces some wicked bud gets some unwanted shake.

Three 'dogs might

Our players have made their picks (in caps) in this weekend's pro football games -- all trying to advance in the charity underdog pool:

4 PHILADELPHIA at Dallas (this evening) - Sidney, Robert, Rick, Flynn, Dan, Andy, Gordon
3.5 BALTIMORE at New England (tomorrow) - George, Kevin, Hank, Doug, genop's mom
3 NY JETS at Cincinnati (today) - Annie, Bad Brad, Mark, Michael K., jmh, genop

Nobody chose:

2 GREEN BAY at Arizona (tomorrow)

My records show that Michael W. is a no-show this week. Gary has thrown in the towel. The standings are here. Good luck, and enjoy the games, people.

(In the other pool, in which I play, I'm going with the Eagles this week. Until Dallas wins a playoff game behind Mr. Romo, I won't believe that they can.)

UPDATE, 8:30 p.m.: The Jets take care of business, and the Eagles fall flat. The pool gets a new leader.

As seen in the Big Apple

The battle of Newport, Oregon vs. the State of Washington makes a splash in the Times.

Seeing me go nowhere

I can't wait until our local constabulary starts using these.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Have a great weekend

Paulson stadium design showdown postponed

Little Lord Paulson has been telling Portlanders for around a year now that if we don't give him everything he wants as fast as he wants, well then, "major league" soccer won't come to town, and the world will end. But the guy can't ever seem to get his own act together in a timely way. Today we learn that the Paulson crew has requested a two-week delay in the city planning hearing on the PGE Park re-renovation design; it was supposed to be held on February 4. They're now not expected to get the final renovation plans to the city until the end of this month.

The city also confirmed today that as we reported here the other day, "there will be a separate Type III land use review required for the traffic study and adequacy of services. That will probably be submitted sometime in February."

Of course, the work on the project started before Christmas. Work first, approvals second -- that's the way it's done in Portland when the backroom deal was already made long, long ago.

Meanwhile, another alert reader informs us that the Multnomah Athletic Club, which is next door to the stadium and apparently still owns part of the land on which the stadium sits, has extended a "courtesy membership" to His Lordship and his royal family. The reader also reports that the MAC is planning to lease out some space from Paulson in a new structure that is going to be built on the south end of the ballpark. Yet another conflict of interest to add to the growing list, I guess.

Reminder to our charity underdog pool players

Picks are due by midnight tonight.

Familiar scene

Here's one straight out of the Portland playbook -- a convention center boondoggle, and the proponents are playing obvious shell games with the "pots of money" that are supposed to pay for it. We are not alone.

City of Seattle cutting top bureaucrat positions

Think this could ever happen in Portland? Fat chance. They just hired a consultant who came up with a new slogan for the Portland human resources bureau: "From Patronage to Pension."

"Major league" soccer may be headed for a lockout

The players are pretty unhappy. When it comes to treatment of its performers, the league is anything but top-tier.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Yet another key Blazer injury

This time it's Andre Miller. He's suffered a broken ego, and his career in a Portland uniform has entered a terminal phase.

The Blazers' next couple of games, against quality opponents, are going to be something. Something wonderful, something terrible -- I don't know which, but definitely something.

Maybe it's some kind of trick

I don't know how it happened, but at the moment this blog is ranked no. 10 on this national list of top local blogs.

Conan flunks out

At least, that's the import of today's rumors.

PGE Park neighbors: Is the fix in?

The latest edition of Northwest Examiner has a fascinating front-page story in it about conflicts of interest among officers of the Goose Hollow neighborhood association when it comes to dealing with Little Lord Paulson and PGE Park. One guy on the board's got a lucrative consulting contract that's dependent on the remodel of PGE going through, and another works for Paulson. The conclusion of NWE editor Allan Classen? "The organization is foundering on the shoals of conflict of interest, compromising its role as the voice of the neighborhood as it glosses over the private interests of its leaders, and the blame is spread broadly."

Despite this dark conclusion, the article does have its comic moments. Here's a passage that prompts a chuckle:

Mary Valeant, a member of the GHFL land-use committee, accused Beard of having a conflict of interest at the November board meeting. Board Secretary Adrienne Hill came to his defense, explaining that the concern was posed to Mayor Sam Adams’ chief of staff, Tom Milller, who found no ethical violation, and to Neighbors West/Northwest Executive Director Mark Sieber, who likewise uncovered no basis for a grievance.
Sam Adams? Ethics? Too funny, Allan.

Meanwhile, the story reveals that Henry III is apparently planning to build a new parking structure at SW 18th and Salmon. How that meshes with green, sustainable, LEED-super-duper Portland planning is a new mystery in the ever-expanding soccer stadium saga.

Blog hiatus in the works

One of our resolutions for the new year is to do a bit of traveling.

What was Portland's Top Word of 2009?

'Tis the season for naming the Word of the Year for the 12 months just concluded. Tweet? Unfriend? They're good ones. But what about here in Portlandia? We need to honor a word of our own.

In years past, we've had "linchpin," but surely by 2009, that one had run its course. Mentor? Groundtruthing? Crowdsourcing? Foreclosure? Patella? Loo? Thumper? Pie-off? Chavez? Pendergraph? Grimwad? Gridlock?

Readers, help us out, please.

Question of the Day

If this guy's name had been Abdul Muhammad, do you think they would have sent him home to Salem with a pat on the head?

What's the frequency, Kenneth?

Over the weekend we worried aloud about the potential for harmful health effects from exposure to cell phone radiation. Now comes the suggestion that there might be positive health effects from such exposure. At least if you're a mouse. Here's the link to the story -- worth it if only to read the sentence "The rest of the mice were non-demented."

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Why Saltzman must go

When Portlanders rail against the Sam-Rand twins for their frat boy approach to city government, they should be sure to include old "Big Pipe" Saltzman in there. When the chips are down, he parties right along with the other two.

At least Fish and Fritz are showing some sense.

Paulson stadium deal may need traffic and parking study

Peter Apanel, the guy who's made a major pest of himself in criticizing the Paulson stadium deal, has uncovered an interesting tidbit that could throw a monkey wrench into the rush-rush schedule for the project. Apparently, there may have to be a new traffic and parking analysis done before the renovation of PGE Park can proceed.

This is because part of the stadium redo project is going to affect property adjacent to the park, which is owned by the Multnomah Athletic Club. According to a city planner's e-mail message obtained by Apanel, when the MAC got its property rezoned in 1995 (from RH, residential, to CXd, commercial), one of the conditions of the change was that --

a new Traffic and parking analysis must be reviewed and approved through a Type III process prior to any development on this site other than the six uses approved in LUR 91-00740 MS and listed below: 1. An addition of 50,000 square feet to the west end of the clubhouse for athletic and club-related activities. 2. Remodel of baby sitting facilities in the Salmon Street parking garage. 3. Enclosure of open area for storage at the west end of the Salmon Street parking garage. 4. The use of 40 parking spaces in the 21st Avenue parking garage for 90th percentile events after 5:00 pm. 5. Development of residential housing on Block 2 (This has occurred). 6. Development of mixed use or residential housing on Block 7. The traffic and parking analysis may be based on the proposed development or may include the range of uses allowed in the CX zone. The approval criteria for the review will be that the transportation system is capable of supporting the proposed use or uses allowed by the zone or will be capable of supporting those uses by the time development is complete, as required by PCC 33.855.050.B.
If a Type III process is required, that will tie construction up for weeks, if not months, and so it becomes crucial to determine whether the stadium renovation will really be on the MAC site.

If you go onto PortlandMaps and ask it to superimpose the lot lines over the aerial photo of the stadium, it sure does appear that part of the park does indeed sit on the MAC lot:

That being the case, it may well be that the long transportation review is going to be needed. So much for the crash course that Paulson says we have to fly on.

The only catch I can see is that at least nowadays, the main MAC property is listed by the county assessor as Tax Lot 5800. Apanel's document places the restrictions on Tax Lot 46. Could it be that the MAC owns other property, and the restrictions noted here apply only to that property, and not the club itself? The restrictions by their terms refer to the clubhouse -- I'll bet the county just changed the lot numbering system between then and now.

A traffic and parking study -- what fun that would be.

The sewer under PGE Park

The re-renovation of PGE Park -- which has already started, despite the lack of any entry permit from the city to Little Lord Paulson, who's doing it -- has raised questions about the Tanner Creek sewer, which runs under the playing field, the existing grandstands, and the area that's about to be developed into new stands:

Checking over on PortlandMaps, we see that the city sent out a special crew in early November to check on the sewer, apparently by running a TV camera through it. The work order and the results are both available for our perusal.

Two lengths of pipe were checked: one, the 240 feet from the manhole on 18th Avenue at the Max tracks into the stadium; and the other a longer length, 580 feet, from the manhole in the stadium outfield to the one out in front of the facility on Morrison Street. Both stretches of sewer are listed by the city as being made of "variable material," and installed in 1916.

The inspection results on the first length, from 18th into the stadium, were "FAIR CONDITION: LT - MED DEBRIS, PIPE SHAPE CHANGE AT 196'." In 2004, this stretch of sewer was apparently included on a "candidate list" for replacement as part of the sewer bureau's capital improvement program. A 1997 inspection showed: "THE PIPE IS IN GOOD STRUCTURAL CONDITION WITH A LONGITUDINAL CRACK ALONG THE CROWN AND EXPOSED AGGREGATE ALONG THE SIDEWALLS. THE PIPE IS IN FAIR OPERATIONAL CONDITION WITH MINERAL DEPOSITS AND GRAVEL/ROCK DEBRIS ALONG THE INVERT."

The latest results on the longer length were "FAIR CONDITION: TAPS W/DEFECTIVE PLUGS LT - HVY DEBRIS IN WYE'S." In contrast, a 1997 inspection summarized the pipe's condition thusly: "THE PIPE IS IN GOOD STRUCTURAL CONDITION WITH MINOR MORTAR LOSS ALONG THE INVERT AND MINOR EXPOSED REBAR. THE PIPE IS IN GOOD OPERATIONAL CONDITION WITH MINERAL DEPOSITS NOTED." Unlike the shorter stretch of pipe, which was rated as in fair operational condition in both the 1997 and 2009 inspections, the longer stretch of pipe saw its operational condition downgraded from "good" in 1997 to "fair" in 2009.

The latest inspections assigned a "root rating" and "structural rating" of 1 to each of these sewer segments. In the 1997 inspections, both received a "root rating" of 1 and a "structural rating" of 5. We're not sure what these numbers mean, but perhaps a reader with knowledge of sewer matters can edify us.

Certainly the city is concerned about what the renovation project might do to the pipe. It doesn't even want Little Lord Paulson's contractors parking on top of it as part of their so-called preliminary work. In the permit that the City Council's scheduled to vote on today, it states:

Permittee [Paulson's new company] shall cordon off the alignment of the Tanner Creek sewer as it runs underneath the park using barricades, cones or other devices. This is being required to minimize vehicle movements over the top of the alignment and to prevent the parking of vehicles or equipment over the sewer alignment. Permittee shall protect the sewer alignment when vehicles must cross the alignment by overlaying the alignment area with plywood or metal plates.

Permittee will also video camera the Tanner Creek sewer line under the Property following completion of the Scope of Work. Permittee shall coordinate the video requirement through Bret Winkler in the Bureau of Environmental Services ("BES"). Permittee will provide BES a copy of the video tape.

Is it fair to ask why we're going to spend tens of millions to build new grandstands over a 94-year-old sewer pipe that's been deteriorating and listed as a candidate for replacement for years, without first replacing that pipe? Can you imagine how expensive it's going to be to fix that pipe once new grandstands are built on top of it? And of course, you know who will be paying to do the replacement work. Hint: It won't be Henry III.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Little 'dogs waddle down the stretch

It's time to announce the lineup of this weekend's pro football games for purposes of our charity underdog pool. Before getting to that, however, an important notice to our players: All picks for this week must be in my hands by 11:59 p.m. on Friday night!

That said, here are the lines. Players must figure out which of these underdog teams (in caps) can win its game outright; winning picks get the number of points listed:

3.5 BALTIMORE at New England
3 NY JETS at Cincinnati
2 GREEN BAY at Arizona

We'll have two more weeks after this -- four games next weekend, and two the weekend after that. The current standings of our players are here. Players, don't forget: Friday night is the deadline. Good luck.

And readers, whaddya think? All the 'dogs are on the road. Three games are rematches of last weekend. Green Bay looks good to me, but can the players do better than that?

Another retailer gives up on the Pearl

Adidas joins Eddie Bauer and Puma in bidding farewell to Fake New York. Pretty soon it may be as forlorn over there as in SoWhat. Go by streetcar!

"Creative class" snake oil dries up

The chief huckster on that one has a new mantra: Let dying cities die. I wonder what his worshippers around here will say when the death panel decides that it's Portland's turn to be let go.

Fireman Randy's storm troopers move in

A reader writes: "Thought you would be interested to know that the Portland Fire Department has four ladder trucks and another three or four vehicles posted around the old Greek Cusina."

PGE construction rumbles on, without permit

A reader who alerted us to the fact that there has been heavy construction equipment at work at PGE Park since the week before Christmas reports new actvity today: "This morning, the driller was gone, but there were heavy trucks at the center field entrance."

Do as we say, not as we do

One of our crankier readers wonders if the City of Portland is violating its own sign ordinance by draping this monstrosity across the entrance to City Hall:

Wild cowboy action on Paulson stadium deal

While critics fret that the City of Portland is going to pass a resolution to allow Little Lord Paulson to start banging away on PGE Park, even without a definitive development agreement with the city, they're likely missing the real outrage: Apparently the construction work has already started, even though the resolution won't be presented to the City Council until tomorrow.

Not one but two alert readers point out that some sort of crane-like device rolled into the stadium last week, and that they've seen construction activity going on from their viewing spot at the nearby Multnomah Athletic Club. "There was a big apparatus that looked like a big well-driller along the first base line," one wrote in an e-mail message. "I don't know what it was, but it was definitely heavy equipment."

The permit that the city proposes to issue Paulson shows that the work being planned in advance of the development agreement -- and apparently already started -- is not minor. Indeed, it's fairly invasive. He's going to be ripping up turf, tearing down the outfield wall, relocating an electrical transformer, and installing new urinals and plumbing, among other things. Once he's in that deep, any leverage that the city might have in any financial negotiations will be gone.

There's also concern that the creaky old Tanner Creek sewer, which runs under the part of the stadium that Paulson's going to be whacking on, might not be able to take the stress of the renovation project. As explained here, that sewer is old (as in a century or so) and overtaxed as it is. Since His Lordship is in such a hurry to get his soccer team upgraded, however, there's apparently no chance that the sewer situation will be improved as part of this re-renovation of PGE.

Moreover, as we pointed out yesterday, the number of different Paulson companies that crop up in the documents make it impossible to know who the city's really dealing with, and what assets those entities really own. The city has said it has never seen the financials of Paulson's various business entities. If that's true, and if damage is done in the construction, the city doesn't really know what it would be able to get in a lawsuit. For all the city knows, it could be dealing with an empty shell.

It's more obvious than ever that this deal is a runaway train. Mayor Creepy and Fireman Randy are letting Paulson do whatever he wants. They say they're negotiating a deal with him that will be good for the city's taxpayers in the long run, but their actions are lawless and reckless. It's a real shame that the other three members of the council are looking the other way and allowing a serious trespass to city property -- not to mention the extraordinary foolishness of starting an eight-figure construction project with no sense of how expensive the financing is going to be, or whether it's going to be available at all.

Homeless camp lawsuit settlement put off

The Portland City Council has postponed a vote, originally scheduled for tomorrow, on settlement of a lawsuit brought by homeless activists over the way police break up homeless camps. The settlement, as originally posted on the city's website, would have paid $30,000 to the plaintiffs and their attorneys (mostly the attorneys). But more importantly, the city would have agreed to new rules about camping, including the following:

A. The City will condition any funding of homeless shelter capacity on the contractual commitment of the shelter facility to allow meaningful access to the shelter by housing outreach workers.

B. The City will not enforce its camping law (PCC 14A.50.020 or successor) against persons who camp on public property or public rights of way that are open to the public if they comply with the following rules:

a. A camp may not contain more than four people after 10:00 p.m.
b. A camp must be out of sight and earshot or more than 50 yards away from any other camp.
c. Campers may not set up a campsite until 9:00 p.m.
d. A camp must be quiet after 10:00 p.m.
e. A camp must not cause any health or sanitation problems.
f. A camp must not draw significant complaints from neighbors.
g. A camp must be off the sidewalks and roadways and away from nighttime high volume traffic areas.
h. A camp must be packed up and removed from the site by 7:00 a.m.

C. The City will not enforce its prohibition against the erection of structures on public property (PCC 14A.50.050) against tents or other structures designed for the primary and limited purpose of protecting outdoor sleepers from the elements when the occupants of a campsite comply with the rules set out in subsection B and no more than two sleeping structures are present at a site.

D. The City will not enforce its camping law against people sleeping at night in vehicles as long as they comply with the rules set out in subsection B and the camp is limited to one vehicle and no more than two adults.

E. The City agrees that it will not consider sleeping in a bedroll, without more, to meet the definition of “camp” in PCC 14A50.020.

F. The City will conduct a pilot project to examine the feasibility and benefits of providing storage to homeless people living on the street. The City will issue a request for proposals for the creation and management of two types of storage: one for documents and other small valuables and one for larger items. The purpose of this effort will be to reduce the need for homeless people to carry large amounts of personal property through the community and reduce the potential for nuisances and conflicts with the police over nuisance abatement. The City will endeavor to establish storage capacity on both sides of the Willamette River. If the City is able to find contractors willing to run the pilot project, it will fund the project for at least two years. Continued operation will depend on whether, in the City Council’s judgment, the project proves to be practical and politically viable.

Continue reading "Homeless camp lawsuit settlement put off" »

Monday, January 4, 2010

Dr. No voted absent

The Democrats who jumped all over the fact that GOP gubernatorial candidate Chris Dudley missed voting in various elections over the years will no doubt be far less demanding of their own darling, former Governor John Kitzhaber, who wants to turn the clock back a dozen years or more and resume his underachieving throne. It turns out that Kitz missed five of the last 13 elections himself.

Is Paulson going to put up a bond?

The City of Portland is about to allow Little Lord Paulson to start renovating the city's PGE Park for his soccer empire without a definitive development agreement, which is more (maybe much more) than a month away. If the deal falls through, we're told, some Paulson entity will be required to restore the stadium to where it was before the renovation activities started.

Is Paulson going to guarantee that personally?

Because if he isn't, the city has no security for the promise to restore. City officials have said that they have never seen financial statements from the Paulson entities, and if that's true, they really don't know what's in those entities -- assets or liabilities.

The Portland assets that rest in the Paulson family somewhere don't look too hot at the moment. There's the existing Timbers franchise, whose league is in some serious turmoil at the moment. And there's the Beavers baseball team, which at the moment has no place to play. That's not much security at all, even without knowing what other liabilties Paulson's companies owe.

Whatever interim agreement the city may enter into with Paulson, the Paulson side of the deal ought to be backed by either a serious performance bond, or the personal guarantee of the royal Paulson himself.


Why does Oregon House Speaker Dave Hunt keep killing trees to send me a New Year's greeting card every year? I'm not even in his district. What else is he running for, and where does he get the money for this sort of thing?

The back of the card assures me that the mailing was not done at taxpayer expense, but it sure seems wasteful of whoever's dough it was. Can people who do stuff like this be trusted to spend tax dollars wisely? If I didn't know better, I might have thought that this was campaign literature from the No-on-66-and-67 people.

Speaker Hunt, next year, please don't send me another card. Give $1 to the Oregon Food Bank instead.

Cancel those loft projects

It appears the creative class is packing it up and heading back to L.A.

Though she has cried, Anderson says, about leaving the state where she has lived for 30 years, she's also a bit tired of being identified with "Keep Portland Weird."

"That was never something we intentionally meant to do," she says. And anyway, she adds, the "Keep Portland Weird" slogan is borrowed from Austin, Texas, which originated the mantra.

Baldwin, who has lived here for 10 years, sometimes gets a bit cranky about Portland and "all these young creatives sitting in coffeehouses and trying to look like James Dean, or whoever the latest guy is."

A reader of ours observes:

And it would seem, by this article, that it is true that the whole "weird" thing and creative thing is all artificial here. A bunch of midwestern nerds move to Portland and think it's the best place on earth, because everything is so creative. It really isn't. It's all fake, as they are bringing their own white bread selves together in this new land. People try too hard to make Portland something different, when really it isn't.

Dirty pool

The voter's pamphlet has arrived at our place for the upcoming Oregon tax increase election -- Ballot Measures 66 and 67. It's a pretty thick pamphlet for just two propositions, but even a quick perusal turned up some shenanigans. Check out the first argument "in opposition" to Measure 66:

The first argument "in opposition" to Measure 67, on page 75, is identical.

As you can see, these are really written by the folks who are in favor of, not opposed to, these measures. That's just wrong, and this sort of thing has been going on for a while. If the state can't stop people from abusing the voter's pamphlet with deliberately confusing material, then maybe we ought to dispense with the pamphlet and turn the whole debate over to the blogosphere.

Snakes in the artificial turf

Little Lord Paulson and his dupes at City Hall really do stoop low. Did you know that they held a design review meeting about the planned re-renovation of PGE Park for soccer on the Tuesday morning between Christmas and New Year's?

Few people did.

Meanwhile, Mayor Creepy wants to let Paulson start whacking on the stadium even though the city doesn't have a signed development agreement with him. This was also disclosed to the public during the holiday week -- 3:45 p.m. on New Year's Eve, to be exact.

You talk about some shady operators.

I hope the people who are running against Fish and Saltzman are paying attention. If they don't say something about these backroom dealings, voters will have to assume that we will get more of the same no matter who gets elected.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Fireman Randy wins! Greek Cusina closed.

So reports KGW tonight.

Eventually the building will go to one of the Fireman's pals, no doubt.

These code enforcement strikes come at his whim, with no guidelines or criteria other than mood swings. Who knows, maybe you'll be next!

New perk for Tri-Met riders

Free haircuts!

Move over, old 'dog

With Kansas City upending Denver today, there are new occupants in first and second places in our charity pro football underdog pool. Here are the standings as we head into the playoffs:

Gordon - 43
Mark - 41.5
genop's mom - 36.5
Rick - 33.5
Hank - 33
Bad Brad - 33
Doug - 28
George - 27.5
Michael W. - 24
genop - 21.5
Andy - 21
Robert - 20
Annie - 20
jmh - 15.5
Dan - 15
Kevin - 13
Gary - 10.5
Michael K. - 9
Sidney - 0
Flynn - 0

Next weekend is wild card weekend, with two games on Saturday and two on Sunday. Players, please take note: All picks for next weekend will be due by 11:59 p.m. on Friday, no matter whether you pick a Saturday or a Sunday game. We'll have the point offerings here on Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning.

New year, hot 'dogs

The players have spoken, and here are their picks for this week's games in our charity pro football underdog pool -- the last weekend of the regular season. Everybody's going long:

13 KANSAS CITY at Denver - George, Annie, Mark, Gordon, Bad Brad
10.5 OAKLAND vs. Baltimore - genop's mom, Robert
10 CINCINNATI at NY Jets - Kevin, jmh, genop, Gary, Michael K.
8.5 NY GIANTS at Minnesota - Andy
7.5 NEW ENGLAND at Houston - Hank, Doug
7 INDIANAPOLIS at Buffalo - Sidney, Rick

No pick in sight from Michael W., Dan, or Flynn -- unless I missed something, they sit out this week. The orphan games are:

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

The pool standings are here. The games are all today and tonight, and so the playoffs will be upon us by this time tomorrow. Our contest continues for three more weeks, but with far fewer games and fewer big point spreads from here on out. Enjoy the games, everybody.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Note to 'dog pool players

The New Orleans-Carolina game is off the table in our charity pro football underdog pool, as there was no betting line posted by Thursday.

We still have no picks from six players, with six hours and change to go to this week's deadline. Never say die, people!

There goes the Blazers' shot at a championship

Apparently, the end of time is scheduled for May 21, 2011.

Can you hear me now?

Here's a kick that I've been on for nearly a decade now: It's time to have a discussion about what is known, and what isn't known, about the safety of cell phone radiation. No study has ever proven a link between cell phone use (and proximity to cell antennas) and health problems, but no study has ever disproven it, either. Indeed, we are the study. You're holding right next to your head a device that is powerful enough to send and receive signals from a tower miles away. Does that do anything to your brain? Our grandchildren will know; we don't.

Let's get it over with

There's still some nasty, nasty stuff that's got to happen before the American economy can start moving forward again. All the gimmicks that the geniuses in Washington, D.C. are throwing at our problems are just delaying the inevitable. Here's one example; several others also come to mind. Why don't we have one really bad year, rather than three more years of treading water followed by a decade of steady-to-steep decline?

The administration is painting the many stopgap measures as being protective of the poor and the middle class, but after all the shenanigans that have gone on with the feds and the banks, it's hard to buy that line, even for a minute. My nose tells me we're propping up housing because some filthy rich and unduly powerful people want it that way.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Jerome Kersey may have to suit up

Unbelievably, the Blazers have lost yet another player. Steve Blake is in the hospital with pneumonia.

Can I go via Duck, just for a day?

Well, here comes the Rose Bowl featuring the Oregon Ducks. I rarely root for the Ducks -- I've got too much history as a Stanford alum and a one-time denizen of Corvallis. There's been the occasional exception, however.

The Ducks made it to a big bowl game -- I think it was the Rose -- in the early '90s. I was on the East Coast visiting the family, and knowing that I had replanted my roots in Oregon, everybody there expected me to root for the Ducks. And I did -- even bringing to the TV set a little plastic cartoon duck beak that emitted a quacking noise when you blew into it. The memory's pretty dim, but as I recall the Ducks lost.

I made another exception just a few weeks ago, when the Ducks played USC. It was a battle of two teams that I don't like, and Oregon was the lesser of two evils. The Ducks prevailed in that one.

Can I bring myself to cheer on the Ducks today? Nah. Nowadays it's like cheering for Phil Knight's money -- it doesn't need my help. With every win, the athletic department in Eugene gets bigger and bigger -- way past the size of its britches. Next year, they'll be talking about a national championship in football again, and if the Ducks win today, that might be a credible scenario. They're already doing stuff like taking away law professors' parking spaces and handing them over to football players; a Rose Bowl victory seems likely to bring on more of that.

But I can't root for "The" Ohio State University, either. Now, there's a school that sold its soul to the sports devil many decades ago, and they don't merit my suddenly jumping on their bandwagon. I'll have to stay neutral.

Meanwhile, I see that creaky old Brent Musberger will be calling the game on television, which means that I may have to drink regular coffee instead of my normal decaf. That or turn on the radio for the screaming homers.

Anyway, Pasadena on New Year's is always a wonderful spectacle, and it will be fun to watch, however dispassionately. Enjoy the game, peeps.

Play the over/under on Kroger press releases in 2010

One thing we've learned about Oregon Attorney General John Kroger's leadership style from his first year in office: He's not shy about telling us what he's up to. The guy's a veritable press release machine. He and his p.r. chief, Tony Green, pop announcements out like waffles.

As the last year wore on, I started to wonder just how many of these releases I'd received. But alas, I didn't keep track. Not so in 2010. We'll post a Kroger-ometer and keep a running tally. Ditto for state treasurer Ben Westlund, who although active on the press release front, can't hold a candle to the A.G.:

And let's give our readers a chance to predict where the final Kroger tally will end up a year from today:

How many press releases will we receive from Oregon Attorney General John Kroger's office in 2010?
Fewer than 190
190 or more
pollcode.com free polls

We did our part

Let's hope that dancing in the new year counts for something.

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