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

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June 2010 Archives

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Kyron's stepmom hires Steve Houze

Wow. I wonder who's going to pay for this. Media interviews are over, boys and girls. Probably police interviews, too.

Do Houze's clients ever confess to anything? Yesterday I thought this case would be wrapped up in a few weeks. Now it looks like an ordeal of months, even years, is ahead.

Meanwhile, a team of civilian search dogs has been out on Sauvie Island, retracing the official search for Kyron.

Nanny state says, "You blow"

Oregon's liquor control laws are ridiculous. And dealing with our state's ugly bottle return procedures is disgusting. But it could be worse -- you could live in Pennsylvania.

Sit back, relax, and enjoy the... AAAAAAARGH!

Passengers on Delta Airlines have all sorts of interesting experiences. But here's a new one.

UPDATE, 9:07 p.m.: As an alert reader points out, this was a U.S. Airways issue. When I saw Atlanta airport, I immediately assumed the worst.

Reader polls: Make the calls on Friday's World Cup matches

Who will win the first World Cup match on Friday?
pollcode.com free polls

Who will win the second World Cup match on Friday?
pollcode.com free polls

City of Portland continues hawking goods for private parties

Here's another one.

I wonder why they don't ever write a puff piece like that about this blog?

Maybe a reader out there could crank out some free copy for such a come-on.

More on the Denver penny droopy D

We blogged a while back about how we noticed that there were two different positions for the "D" mint mark on the 1970 Denver penny -- one low and one high. After peering at several dozen of these through a magnifying glass for a while, we figured out there were actually three -- a low, a middle, and a high.

Now we're going through the 1971s, and lo and behold, there they are again:


Given the many nerdly distinctions that coin collectors make, we're still surprised we haven't seen this discussed anywhere else. But if no one's writing about it, it seems likely that there were enough of each variety minted that they're all of equal value (which apparently isn't all that much).

As we've said before, though, it's about the thrill of the hunt.

Nothing burns money like Fire

Times are tough, folks. State and local government has run out of money, and here in Portland, your essential services are being cut back. Police precincts closing, potholes growing, and no P.E. for little Johnny at school. Water and sewer bills are going through the roof, too. People's morale is down.

Hey, I've got an idea! Let's redecorate fire headquarters!

Portland Fire & Rescue’s headquarters building, located at 55 SW Ash St, was recently remodeled and seismically upgraded. PF&R is fortunate to own many vintage artifacts, photos and ephemera that represent its proud history and traditions. PF&R would like to use some of these items to create an inviting environment in the building’s first and third floor public lobbies.
What's that? Well, yes, I know we already have a firefighter museum over on Belmont. And a firefighter memorial over by PGE Park. And we're building another memorial by the Hawthorne Bridge. But hey, you can't get too much of a good thing.

Of course, this is important enough to call for some professional talent, so the first thing we do, let's get right out there and hire a consultant. And heck, this such a great idea, let's not put a dollar amount on the contract -- we'll leave it open-ended.

1. Evaluate the lobby areas for potential interpretive exhibit configurations, visitor access, lighting and other technical concerns.

2. Review historical photographs, ephemera and artifacts located at the PF&R’ Historic Belmont Firehouse, PF&R’s Logistics warehouse, Portland Archives and/or other Portland area locations and evaluate their possible use as exhibit materials.

3. Work with a group of PF&R staff and community partners to develop a theme for the interpretative exhibits.

"Community partners" -- that's always good. Plus, the Fireman-in-Chief will show you his neon rose sign.

4. Work with PF&R staff and community partners to refine the final design.

5. Design museum quality interpretive wall, shelf, and freestanding exhibits, and signage, graphics and lighting for the 1st and 3rd floor lobbies at 55 SW Ash St. PF&R artifacts, photos, ephemera and other materials and objects may be used as appropriate in the final design.

6. Fabricate exhibits, signage, graphics and lighting to museum standards.

7. Install interpretive exhibits, signage, graphics and lighting.

This is gonna be great. Remember, lack of public awareness of fire bureau ephemera threatens Portland's sustainable way of life. It's worse than driving a car! We must do this, for the children.

A Fire Bureau artifact.

Is Portland loan to Homer Williams illegal?

We blogged last week about the disturbing news that the City of Portland had loaned money on below-market terms to the Homer Williams-Dike Dame outfit in 2006 to pay said outfit's share of the hideous aerial tram cost overruns. And the city had just borrowed that money from Bank of America. An alert reader points out that the Williams-Dame loan appears to violate Article XI, section 9, of the state constitution:

No county, city, town or other municipal corporation, by vote of its citizens, or otherwise, shall become a stockholder in any joint company, corporation or association, whatever, or raise money for, or loan its credit to, or in aid of, any such company, corporation or association....
Sure looks like a violation to me. And the loan's still outstanding, according to the O. Perhaps I'll send this along to the city debt manager and city attorney's office and see what kind of reply I get.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Stepmom fever goes national

The Kyron Horman case is currently on a tabloid crime show hosted by someone named Nancy Grace on the Headline News cable channel. Nothing new, but they did unearth the mugshot from the stepmom's drunk driving-child endangerment bust from a few years ago.

Good news for the Columbia River

The Energy Department's proposal to stop studying a nuclear power plant waste dump at Yucca Mountain in Nevada has been shot down by some administrative judges at the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. As some of us learned 30 years ago, if Nevada gets pushed out of consideration for that dubious honor, the dangerous old Hanford nuclear bomb factory site in Tri-Cities would no doubt be a large part of, if not all of, Plan B.

Nuclear power plant waste is going to continue to be stored above ground and in pools, at the power plants themselves, for many decades to come. What happens after that is anybody's guess -- but for the grandkids' sake, let's not have it all shipped from throughout the country to the banks of the Columbia River.

Window on the tragedy

Here's one guy's take on what's happening in the Gulf of Mexico.

Maybe we should declare the Fourth of July a day of mourning this year.

We can't have gym in Portland public schools...

... but we can spend $250 million of lottery money on a light rail train to Milwaukie.

What an utterly ridiculous state we live in.

Silence of the vuvuzelas

World Cup "football" now takes a couple of days off to get ready for the "great eight" starting Friday. Both our reader games continue apace, with the leaders in our game-by-game prediction contest spreading out just slightly, and the first round of our 16-team bracket contest sorting things only slightly as well.

In the brackets, we've got four players (including yours truly) who picked 7 out of 8; one with 6; two with 5 and one with only 4. Points for winning picks increase as the rounds progress, however; moreover, three of the leaders picked their losing team to win more games. And so the field is still essentially wide open.

Friday it's Holland vs. Brazil and Uruguay vs. Ghana; Saturday, Argentina vs. Germany and Paraguay vs. Spain. I'm now pulling for a Uruguay-Paraguay final, in honor of my old geography teachers.

Follow the public bidding laws?

Not if you're The Don. Not if it's "urban renewal."

If the state attorney general really attacked governmental corruption in Oregon, we'd have to build another prison to hold all the new convicts.

Bass ackward transit planning

We thought the idea of commuter trains was to help get people out of their cars. But down in Wilsonville, where Tri-Met's WES train has proved to be a colossal flop, they're talking about spending $27 million to build new roads to get more people to drive to the train:

The main project component extends Kinsman Road from Barber Street to Boeckman Road. The hope is to reduce traffic around Interstate 5 and expand commuter access to the South Metro Area Regional Transit (SMART) station....

This project, which extends Barber from Kinsman Road to Coffee Lake Drive, continues a project started in 2008 to provide street connectivity between the Villebois community and the WES commuter rail station. This project is in combination with three others that the city has designed with the help of the Oregon Department of Transportation.

As we understand it, access to the train is just fine as it is. The problem is that nobody has any reason to ride it. Are we missing something?

Why the cops Tased an 86-year-old woman

She "took a more aggressive posture in her bed."

According to the inevitable lawsuit, they also stepped on her oxygen hose. That'll slow you down.

Like the Welches con man, but on the internet

You steal a few bucks here, a few bucks there -- eventually it amounts to big bucks.

At least in this case, somebody's decided to take action against the thief.

Why burn coal when you can burn money?

The City of Portland's trying to force Portland General Electric to shut down the Boardman coal-fired electric plant as soon as possible, rather than in 10 years as PGE wants. The mayor slithered into a Public Utility Commission hearing last week to grandstand on the matter.

Fair enough. Coal stinks. But His Honor didn't come empty-handed. He showed up with a 17-page report put together by a hired expert consultant, Mike Burnett -- a self-proclaimed "'serial pioneer' in emerging sustainability areas":

I wonder how much that baby cost, and where the money's coming from. I thought that in our current budget crisis, the city was holding down the hiring of consultants to a bare minimum. Couldn't we leave the expert testimony to the Sierra Club?

And I hesitate to ask whether Burnett was paid out of sewer or water bills. Does anybody know?

Ring... ring... ring...

There'll be quite a few messages in this Portland lawyer's voice mailbox this morning. She's been identified as Kyron Horman's father's divorce lawyer.

Meanwhile, this just looks stupider and stupider by the day, doesn't it? Leave it to the O.

"Emphasize uncertainty"

Another royal hosing of consumers by American industry.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Eventually they may still have to nuke it

The relief well in the Gulf may or may not work.

Ridiculous Statement of the Day

Senator Ron Wyden's working to change the nature of Washington,...
Oh, yeah. Ron the outsider. What a joke.

Have Kyron's bio-dad and half-sister moved out?

He's divorcing the stepmom and getting a restraining order, according to KGW.

Measure 5 skeleton may come out of Portland closet

It looks as though we're not the only ones wondering whether the City of Portland's diversion of water and sewer bill revenues for unrelated purposes is illegal under state law. And we may soon find out what a judge thinks, at least on the sewer side.

Bargains galore out in Beaverton

Don "The Don" Mazziotti, master of "urban renewal," sure knows how to blow through taxpayer money. That contract that he just got the City of Beaverton into with his old Portland pal, to draft a "civic plan"? It's going to run them a cool $438,749, according to this document.

The best part is going to be when the average person in Beaverton catches a whiff of said planner's car-hater mentality.

Coupla cowboys, separated at birth

An alert reader notes that this guy is starting to look a lot like this guy.

God bless America

Ouch! Portland to pay 6.284% interest for Lents "urban renewal"

Interest rates are at an all-time low right now. You can borrow money on a 15-year mortgage at around 4.25% a year, if your credit is good. But just to show you how low the City of Portland has sunk, about a week and a half ago it quietly borrowed $36.8 million for the "urban renewal" games now under way in the Lents neighborhood at interest rates that run as high as 6.284% for a 14-year term.

The bonds were rated A1 by Moody's -- the fifth-highest rating and in the middle, not the top, of the investment grade pack. Only some of the interest will be tax-exempt to the lenders who buy the bonds -- probably because much of the money is going to be used for the benefit of private companies -- and that accounts in part for the high rates of interest. It's not clear if the federal government will be subsidizing the highest interest rates Portland will be paying here, but subsidy from Uncle Sam or no, 6.284% for 14-year money is darned expensive.

Now, the people who run these schemes are quick to point out that the bondholders can't collect from the city's sacred "general fund" -- which makes it sound as though the average Portlander isn't paying that fat interest. But as has been explained here before, that assertion is misleading, for two reasons.

First, every Portland property owner pays an "urban renewal" tax, and landlords pass that charge along to tenants, even if they don't live or work anywhere near an "urban renewal" zone. That tax is not for the benefit of the Lents "urban renewal" district, but it does feed, directly or indirectly, the voracious mouth known as the Portland Development Commission payroll.

Second and more importantly, because the bonds will be paid from property taxes collected out in Lents, any significant increase in the costs of providing city services out in the Lents neighborhood (salaries and benefits for city workers, for example) will be paid by Portlanders from other neighborhoods. That is, property tax increases in Lents will all go to pay the bonds -- Lents property taxes available to pay for basic services will essentially be "frozen" for decades on end. And if "urban renewal" actually "works," there will be plenty more people, and plenty more service costs, out that way over those decades.

And so anyone who lives in Portland should be aghast at those interest rates, because that's all coming out of our pockets. If it costs that much to finance these things, maybe we should be scaling back our delusions of real estate grandeur for a while.

Of course, that's not really an option. Much of the money that's being borrowed through these bonds has already been blown. Of the $36.8 million borrowed from Citibank and its customers this month, $21.7 million is being used to pay off a line of credit that the city quietly took out and drew upon some time ago for Lents. Chances are it was with Bank of America, the city's backroom lender of choice. Those "interim" loans don't stay open forever, and when they come due, the city has to find the cash to pay them, no matter how expensive that may be. Back when the line of credit was authorized, it was impossible to tell what the money was going to be used for. Now that the pricey permanent financing is here, it's either borrow new money or default on the old line of credit. Once the city puts itself in that position, the public never gets a chance to challenge the frivolous spending.

Only $11.7 million of the latest bond proceeds is going into a construction fund to build something now. The rest has been spent, or soon will be spent, on other things.

The final repayment of the bonds isn't scheduled to take place until 2030. And of course, if the city doesn't have the cash flow to pay at that point, it will just go out and borrow from Peter to pay Paul, at whatever rates are available for its credit rating at that time. Then again, a city bankruptcy in the next 20 years could conceivably change everything.

Anyway, it's funny to see who the city touts as the economic drivers in Lents. Here are the top employers:

Tri-Met, which doesn't pay property taxes, and Wal-Mart, whom the City Council would run out of town on a rail if it could! Good thing those bondholders don't think too much.

Here are the top property taxpayers:

There's old Wal-Mart again. And Blockbuster! Never mind that bankruptcy warning. Full steam ahead. Go by streetcar!

Heaven just got funnier

Marty Ginsburg, hands down the most gifted tax lawyer on the planet, died yesterday. Not only was he a spectacular advisor, advocate, teacher, thinker, and writer, but also an accomplished chef, and a hilarious comic when he wanted to be, which was often.

Leave it to Marty to depart this world when matters of death and taxes are unsettled. He and his previously departed colleagues are probably laughing it up right now over the fact that nobody knows for sure what the tax "basis" is in the stuff he left behind.

Our condolences to his family and to his many friends. There won't be another like him.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Calling Homer and Dike

Here's a place that needs some of that "urban renewal" condo magic.

I got just one word right now


Ted K.'s Ike moment

Wasn't it Eisenhower who warned of the military-industrial complex, as he was leaving office? Those words proved prophetic, but it was a shame that he waited to say them until it was too late for him to do anything about them.

The same goes for Oregon's governor's remarks of the other day. State government is too big, it's going broke, and it's paying out too much in employee benefits -- that would have been a great message three years ago.

You won't hear John Kitzhaber say anything like that. Just ask Greg Macpherson.

Spandex vendetta

The flap over the blogging Tri-Met bus driver who appeared on camera for his blog while he was driving has made a bit of a splash in the local, and even national, media. Al Margulies, who relentlessly heckles the management of the transit agency on his entertaining blog, apparently was long ago ordered to stop filming while he's driving. But now they're hassling him for allowing himself to be recorded by others, which as best we can tell has not previously been forbidden. Now it surely will be.

An interesting fact: According to KGW, the complainant against Margulies is a guy named Marcus Griffith, a resident of the 'Couv and a "correspondent" for the Bike Portland blog. Described at one point as a Clark College student, the 29-year-old Griffith also reportedly had time a few years ago to file a complaint against a downtown security officer for ordering him to move along instead of sitting on a sidewalk eating a burrito. He was reportedly the victim of a hit-and-run while biking near the college in the 'Couv two winters ago, and he was unhappy about the way the police treated him there, too. And he's currently working on getting nude bicycling legalized up that way.

There's no evidence that anyone who actually rides Margulies's bus is unhappy with his conduct.

I won't defend a driver's right to appear on camera for his blog while on duty -- it's definitely not the best practice -- but if I had to choose between Margulies and Griffith to help me get somewhere safely, I know which one I'd choose. And unlike the local TV stations, I'm not too terribly interested in a blogger flame war, no matter how far one side or the other wants to take it.

But for those who can't resist the petty drama: According to a readily available smart phone background check application, someone by the name of Marcus Griffith from the 'Couv did get cited in Multnomah County on May 15, 2006 for alleged criminal "nonpayment of fare." Food for thought.

More worthless cops, two more innocent people dead

A bleak story from Spokane:

"They arrest her over the weekend, knowing full well she’s going to have to sit in jail until Monday and miss a day of teaching school for having done absolutely nothing," he said....

Apple said the incident, like the earlier Zehm case, "is another example, in my opinion, of our police making mistakes or procedural errors, but never admitting guilt.

"We’ve got city attorneys telling the police to never admit they screwed up," the city councilman said. "It’s just wrong, and our community is paying the price."

Yawn and turn the page. Then one day they come to your front porch.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

The impromptu bracket predictions

Here (in a spreadsheet) is how our eight players called the rest of the World Cup.

Trouble in the blogosphere

One of our faithful readers, himself a ranting, blogging bus driver, finds himself in hot water for blogging behind the wheel.

The mayor's a joke

And in this case he's laughing right along.

A night at the Hotel Lucia

Al Gore's Second Chakra Problem, as envisioned by our friends in Taiwan:

[Via The O.]

Friday, June 25, 2010

Anybody up for a last-minute World Cup 16-team bracket?

UPDATE, 6/26, 3:45 a.m.: As we turned in for the night, we had eight players in this impromptu game. Any additional players who sign up by 7 a.m. will be eligible to join us. We'll post the complete brackets Saturday sometime.

Our main World Cup "pool" is providing a fair amount of excitement, but how about a bracket, like last year, on top of it? Winner gets glory and a beverage on me. Here it is:

I know it's short notice -- we're scrambling -- but if you want to give it a shot, here's what you do:

Send your picks for each game, plus the four tiebreakers, to me electronically. One way to do so would be by leaving your choices in a comment to this post. You could also e-mail me a filled-in version of this Excel spreadsheet. Or e-mail your selections to me any old way. On your entry form, please use the match number for each match, and don't forget the four tiebreakers.

Scoring will be as follows:

One point for every correct selection in the round of 16 (49 to 56).
Two points for every correct selection in the quarterfinal round (57 to 60).
Three points for every correct selection in the semi-finals (61 and 62).
Two points for the correct selection in the third-place match (63).
Five points for the correct selection in the final match (64).

The tiebreakers will be consulted only in the case of a tie in scoring. They will be applied in numerical order, with the earliest of the four breaking the tie. They are:

1. Total number of goals (not including goals in penalty shoot-outs) scored in Match 64.
2. Goals (not including goals in penalty shoot-outs) scored by winning side in Match 64.
3. Goals (not including goals in penalty shoot-outs) scored by losing side in Match 64.
4. Total number of goals (not including goals in penalty shoot-outs) scored, all 16 matches.

Here are the matchups, in a narrative form. If you like, you can cut and paste this to get your entry together:

Continue reading "Anybody up for a last-minute World Cup 16-team bracket?" »

Have great weekend

Bottle return hell shows signs of improvement

Let's hope this is a success and gets replicated throughout the metropolitan area. Given the high correlation between bottle returning on the one hand and alcoholism and mental health problems on the other, however, inner Portland will probably be the last location that makes this move. The place would be a magnet for all sorts of sad stories.


We've had a noticeable uptick of internet traffic all week, and when we checked to see where it was coming from, we discovered that hundreds of folks were arriving on this blog looking for photos of former Blazers center Sam Bowie. We scrambled around to see why that might be -- did he die? -- but then we realized the reason: Last night was the NBA draft, and Bowie's widely regarded as the worst draft pick of all time. The Blazers could have had Michael Jordan instead.

A few years from now, when Kevin Durant has locked in his place in the Basketball Hall of Fame, they'll probably be looking for photos of Greg Oden. I hope they don't find those photos.

Declare the pennies on your eyes

I'm all for bringing back the federal estate tax. For Congress to have let it lapse -- but for one year only -- is one of the stupidest things it's ever done, and that's saying a lot. What's gotten into their toupees? Gatsby Wyden and his pals on the Senate Finance Committee are squarely to blame for that one.

Throw Grandma from the train on New Year's Eve? Don't laugh, it could happen.

Anyway, even a "soak the rich" guy like me has to step back and gaze in awe at the gentleman from Vermont. If I'm not mistaken, he's proposing a 60%-plus federal estate tax on the few hundred very richest people in the country. Go for it, dude!

How to get people to sympathize with the police

There are times when I think some of Portland's police officers should be behind bars, but I didn't mean bars on the windows of the police union offices. The Red and Black set can really be self-defeating when they want to be.

Excuse me, are you a registered voter?

The Supreme Court ruled yesterday that if you sign an initiative petition, the state can disclose that you did so -- and give out your address, too -- barring exceptional circumstances:

The 8-1 decision is a partial victory for gay rights advocates who have used the "outing" of same-sex marriage foes as a political tactic. Same-sex marriage opponents in Washington state had argued that the signatures should remain secret — like ballots — under the protection of the 1st Amendment. They also claimed that, given the controversial topic, they faced a particular threat of harassment and intimidation that required anonymity.

Writing for the majority, Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. came down on the side of disclosure, ruling that in most cases the benefit of public petitions outweighed the "only modest burdens" that come with the disclosure. The justices left it to a lower court to decide whether privacy is warranted in this particularly controversial petition; however, a majority of justices seemed unsympathetic to the argument.

People who dislike the initiative process may see an opening here to chill petition signing even further. What if the state also required you to put your phone number next to your signature on the petition? Or your Social Security number? Could they disclose that, too?

Speaking of Washington State petitions, here's one that's likely coming back for a rerun.

Spare us the constant sales pitches

One of several disturbing trends we've noticed about Portland city government is its ever-increasing commercialization. Sure, the mega-million-dollar "public-private partnership" ripoffs are the most galling, but now the sellouts are seeping into routine operations. It's gotten so that City Hall can hardly get through a day without hawking some commercial outfit's wares, usually in the name of "green," "multi-modal transportation," "for the children," or some other foggy notion.

A few weeks ago we had Mayor Creepy hawking Visa cards. Now here's the latest -- Sustainable Susan & Co. drooling over a magazine about the latest hipness, "urban farming." From the city's web page:

Chock full of ideas and stories, Urban Farm is a great resource for beginning or established urban farmers. Read about successful fruit gleaners, the philosophies of ecopsychotherapy and lawn reformists. Get tips on foraging, raising livestock, wine making, setting up a healthy yard-sharing partnership, creating low maintenance water systems and container gardens.
As best we can tell, Urban Farm is published by a for-profit outfit based in Los Angeles. If the City of Portland's going to tout commercial products, it ought to get paid for the service. It can use the revenue to pay for the many children we have in City Hall grinding out Tweet after worthless Tweet, trying in vain to put lipstick on a pig.

Kyron's bio-parents go on national TV

Stepmom apparently doesn't appear on camera.

UPDATE, 2:31 p.m.: Nor does she appear in this KGW clip.

I'm still not buying it.

A slap on the wrist for Twitter

Their privacy breaches didn't wind up costing them much besides a little embarrassment.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Blazers' future clear as mud

Well, the Blazers have pieces falling off left and right today. Kevin Pritchard has finally been fired. There's no successor general manager in the picture so far. Martell Webster has been traded to Minnesota, in exchange for Ryan Gomes and the draft rights to a guy named Luke Babbitt. Gomes is a decent forward who can have his big nights statistically every now and then; his numbers are slightly higher than Martell's. Babbitt, a forward who doesn't play much defense, averaged 21.9 points, 8.9 rebounds, and 2.1 assists last year at the University of Nevada while shooting .500 from the field. The Blazers also drafted Nevada point guard Armon Johnson, who knows how to dish out assists, at least in a ho-hum college conference.

It's hard to know what the Blazers have planned, and now it's even unclear who's doing the planning. Head coach Nate McMillan, who's down to the last year of his contract, has reportedly been prevailed upon to hire some new assistant coaches who have a lean and hungry look toward a head coach spot next year. Owner Paul Allen's health, which has taken some serious hits over the past year, remains a question mark. There are still people prattling on about the team's future with Greg "Legs of Glass" Oden as the centerpiece.

The chances of the Blazers' becoming an elite team in the NBA seem more remote now than they have at any time since they drafted Oden on a star-crossed day three years ago. They'll keep us entertained in the winter, but they won't be playing on Memorial Day any year soon.

On a side note, it's interesting to see the Blazers strike a deal with Minnesota general manager David Kahn, who's lived a lot of his life in Portland and at least recently was a Denizen of Dunthorpe. As one opinionated national columnist remarked this week:

Under general manager David Kahn, the Wolves are becoming the organization that no one wants to send players. Kahn’s condescending, abrasive style is frustrating to rival GMs and agents because few people believe he has the background, knowledge or credentials to even hold the job.
I wonder if Kahn's controversial luxury wine resort ever got built down in Yamhill County.

UPDATE, 11:08 p.m.: I see that Portland also picked up Memphis guard Elliot Williams, whom they were reportedly quite eager to obtain.

So much for my soccer prediction prowess

Today was my worst performance ever in the World Cup "pool" -- 0 for 4! I have gone from being a contender on the leader board to a total bum. And I must confess to having watched exactly 0 minutes of live action, catching only the occasional highlight reel.

It was a tough day to make the right calls -- even our "pool" leaders went 2 for 4 at best. But those folks aren't going to be able to see me much longer, tiny in their rear-view mirrors.

Summer, finally

From Clatskanie to the big time

Here's an Oregonian gettin' it done.

Another one bites the dust

The blog Oregon Media Central, which was focused largely on the broadcast media, appears to now be defunct. If it is, it goes the way of its predecessor, Oregon Media Insider. Fare thee well, old chum.

What if they shut down City Hall entirely?

The idea is not as extreme as it sounds. Here in Portland, for a time there was discussion of merging the city with Multnomah County -- kind of the way it is in San Francisco. If things get this extreme in government finance around here -- and they very well might -- that conversation could pick up where it left off.

Tough times for critters

I'm glad I'm not a sea turtle. Or a wolf.

Duck pond cleanup re-bid delayed

Whenever government officials change public bidding rules on the fly, our hinky meter goes up. And so we warily view the news that the second round of bidding on the Laurelhurst Park duck pond cleanup in Portland has been pushed back two weeks. Originally scheduled for today, the bid deadline is now July 8.

How dumb are the taxpayers in Lake Oswego?

We are about to find out.

Gore wanted his "second chakra released," accuser says

If this person is telling the truth, she underwent a real nightmare experience. But we suspect that like Kobe Bryant's hotel accuser, she'll be singing a different tune quite soon.

Getting to know you, getting to know all about you

Hardly anybody who runs a website doesn't have some way of seeing how many people are coming to visit their site, when, and roughly from where. And if a visitor comes to the site from a search engine, it's nice to know what they were searching for that led them there.

When I started this blog, going on eight years ago, there were only a couple of options to get that kind of information, and I chose a free service called SiteMeter, which was the coin of the realm at the time. It tracks a lot of what's going on on your site for you, and even gives you a little icon thingie you can post on your page that shows how many "unique" visitors you've had since you started counting:

Since those early days, the number of outfits providing free and pay "analytics" for websites has multiplied quite a bit. About two years ago, I stumbled upon a new service called Clicky, which is based here in Portland. Clicky keeps track of visitors in a more detailed way than most of its competitors, and it gets the data to its clients immediately -- as in, within a second or two of each "hit" to the site. It's also got a positively addictive feature called "Spy," which lets the web site operator (that's me) watch the comings and goings to and from his or her site, from around the globe, in real time.

If you're a new blogger with just one site and not that much traffic, you can get a free Clicky account that will more than get you started. But if you've got multiple sites or if, like this blog, you get more than 3,000 page views a day, you've got to pay for your Clicky.

O.k., boo, I know. But one really attractive aspect of my signup with these guys was that they were willing to dicker! I made my case for a discount, and they gave it to me. And as I recently headed into my third year with them, we made an even sweeter deal from my standpoint: I'd write them up on the blog -- say whatever I wanted, no guarantees -- in exchange for a year of free "Pro" service. That level gets me all the bells and whistles, including "Spy."

I drove down to Clicky headquarters in deep southeast and had a sit-down with the Clicky staff. Turns out it's two nice guys with a great idea, tech savvy, and apparently, a good head for business:

Sean and Noah.

Their first venture was a site called NowTowns, centered around goings-on in Corvallis, Albany, and Eugene. It hasn't been a huge hit, for various reasons, but one good byproduct was the programming they had created to keep track of who was coming to the site, how long they were staying, what they were looking at, and so forth. It dawned on the two of them that they could sell the same service to clients, and give the other players in the field a run for their money. Today they say they've got more than 225,000 websites under constant watch, and a healthy number of those are paying customers. They're not getting rich off Clicky (yet, anyway), but they seem to be making a decent go of it.

Clicky's got a whole bunch of heavy-duty servers in a secure data center in Corvallis. It's fairly easy to run them by remote control on a laptop, but if something goes on the blink hardware-wise -- I've never experienced it, but it does happen -- they've got to call down there to an ally, or get on I-5 themselves and go fix it. They take matters seriously, and boast that customer service is their calling card.

It's a heck of a lot friendlier than dealing with Google, that's for sure. And if you're worried about some cut-throat weasels selling your information or using it for other nefarious purposes, it's hard to see a mean corporate streak in either of the two Clicky guys.

I asked them, So how does the thing work? They patiently explained to my ignorant ears that Clicky clients (like me) put some code on their web pages that tells every visitor's browser to send a signal out to the Clicky server. The Clicky server takes that signal, analyzes it, and makes the data about it available to the website operator (like me) to see.

Continue reading "Getting to know you, getting to know all about you" »

Super Carole cues up the next screamfest

In deciding where our children should attend school, one real drawback of the Portland public school system was the constant drama and uncertainty that its families face. Here we are just a day past the needless uproar caused the aborted high school closure plan, and now we're going to cut out gym, music, art, or foreign languages in all the grammar schools to balance the budget. Special ed staffing would be reduced, English as a second language would take a hit -- the list goes on and on.

Yesterday we all held hands and thought about how we could go about curbing youth gang violence in Portland. Further crapifying the public schools sure isn't going to help.

Look for the county income tax to come winging back onto a ballot near you real soon. And stop eating store-bought cookies -- there'll be a bake sale every day starting Labor Day.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Celestial orb wreaks havoc

Here at Blog Central, the reappearance of the strange yellow light in the sky has heated things up to where they haven't been in many months, and now the lightbulbs are all burning out.

While supplies last

An amazing find at our local Whole Foods this evening: Mexican cucumbers, conventionally grown, only $2.99 each.

Portland is a great place to do business

At least, that's the way it looks on this website.

A girlfriend for the Welches con man

It appears that notorious "Welches" con man David Wilson has a kindred soul down in Davis, California: the "crying girl."

Beaverton "urban renewal" insanity intensifies

Not only has Beaverton got Don "The Don" Mazziotti running its "urban renewal" slush fund, but now they've brought on John Fregonese, formerly a Metro drone, to draw up the "civic plan." Four planners from out of town were rejected, but hey, keep it in the family. "Clusters," yada yada.

Oh, and get this: They want to turn Beaverton-Hillsdale and Canyon into a traffic "couplet"! Too, too funny. The aerial tram to Sylvan is just around the corner.

TurboTax ate my Schedule SE

Remember when Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner testified about how he had screwed up his tax returns? Here's how it should have gone:

Meanwhile, Geithner's IRS throws the book at the little people with the same excuse. [Via TaxProf Blog.]

First there is a crisis, then there is no crisis, then there is

Gloom and doom down in Salem -- the governor's going to force every state agency to take a 4.6% budget cut. Teachers will get laid off. Prisoners will be set free. The sick will be left to die.

But look on the bright side: We've got hundreds of millions of state dollars to build a light rail line down to Milwaukie. The teachers, the prisoners, and the sick can all take a lovely ride to Bob's Red Mill, where they can beg for some gruel.

Actually, given the amount of crime that the trains attract, it's probably good to add a few if we're going to be locking fewer people up.

And they say it happened right here in Portland

This does not surprise me.

United States of Anosognosia

This article, sent by a thoughtful reader, reminds me of many people in government, on all levels, these days -- but the more local the government, the truer the story rings.

Weight loss in your future

Mark your calendars for Friday, Portlanders. That's when the empire builders out at the Port of Portland -- you know, the folks who build a themselves a new headquarters building every decade, whether they need it or not -- pass the property taxes that fuel a large part of their operation for another year. The ordinance they'll be enacting is here -- read it now, feel it when you get your property tax bill in the fall. If you're a renter, you won't get to see such a bill, but believe me, your landlord is passing it on to you, too.

Meanwhile, it looks as though the Federal Aviation Administration had a little bone to pick with the Port about spending airline taxes and fees on their new Shangri-La headquarters:

Operating Expenditures increased by $0.8 million due to: 1) A change to the methodology established to calculate and charge departments for their share of the Port’s new headquarters building capital and operating costs or "rent." The change is in follow up to the FAA’s review to insure the Port is in compliance with revenue diversion rules. 2) Revised projections for the administrative compensation program.
Ah yes, an increase for the "administrative compensation program." Maybe each of the Goldschmidt boys needed a new car.

Anyway, Friday's the day to kiss some of your money goodbye. It's only $9 million -- you'll hardly feel a thing. And remember -- they're getting an eco-roof, so it's all good.

Take me out to the stormwater management system

I am not making this up: It's a batting cage with an eco-roof.

So very Portland.

If you are outraged by this, don't worry. The cage is at Lincoln High School, which means that it will soon be torn down, along with the school itself, for a shiny new condo tower. In the meantime, one of the athletic coaches will probably get a nice buzz on some night and crash into the cage, which will bring the plants back down to earth.

Three out of four ain't bad

There's an interesting video up on Portland Mayor Sam Adams's website. It's the press conference that was held yesterday about the recent gang violence in North Portland. Adams kicks it off, blathering away from a p.r. flack's script about what Portlanders can do to help -- rat out gang members, volunteer for youth programs, and get involved with one's neighborhood watch. All of which has been said a thousand times before, to little or no effect, since the gangs moved into Portland from L.A. nearly 30 years ago under Bud Clark's watch.

Adams once again blames the economy for the city's problems. Double-digit unemployment for 14 months, not seen since World War II, yada yada yada. Translation: The city's going to hell in a handbasket, but it's not my fault, honest.

The mayor screws up by boasting that there were multiple "folks" in custody in the latest teen shooting death. The police chief has to clarify later that only one person has been arrested. The Goofy One also blows the name of the commander of the North Precinct, but hey, what's a few details when you are a visionary?

After Adams sputters out and steps back, three members of the police brass take over the podium, and they are actually pretty professional. They outline some steps that they are taking, at least in the short term, to try to cool things off among the young gangsters. It doesn't sound too promising, but at least they are up there acknowledging that there is a serious problem and that they need to make a stronger effort.

I've often wondered why public appearances such as these aren't more common. Adams's grandstanding is pitiful, but when young people are dying violent deaths, it's more than appropriate for the law enforcement honchos to stand before the public to outline what's happening, and what they are trying to do about it.

In one way, I feel sorry for the police these days. Trying to get anything positive done during the collective nervous breakdown at City Hall has go to be quite a challenge.

Meanwhile, Maxine Bernstein of the O does a great job with the story of the latest shooting victim. Words fail to describe the tragedy, but she comes as close as you can get.

Sultan of Scam heads south

Willy Week reports this morning that the City of Lake Oswego has hired Homer Williams, master architect of the financially disastrous SoWhat District in Portland, to create a development plan for a 30-acre project called the Foothills District. Doing the hiring for L.O. is a guy named Brant Williams, a former Portland transportation honcho who, like Uncle Homer, was active in foisting SoWhat onto the hapless taxpayers of the Rose City. More here (scroll down a ways). Go by streetcar, suckers!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Census, PSU still apart on Portland population

The U.S. Census Bureau's estimate of the City of Portland's population as of July 1, 2009 has been released. The feds place the population within the city limits at 566,141, a 1.75% increase above the estimate they gave for the year immediately before.

The federal numbers are still noticeably below the figure of 582,130, which the experts at Portland State show as the city's population as of July 1, 2009. The Portland State figure is 2.8% higher (15,989 people) than the federal census number for the same date.

We'll get another Portland State figure this fall, estimating the July 1, 2010 population. The results of the far more extensive federal census effort that's currently wrapping up won't be released until next spring.

In our City of Portland debt clock, we'll continue to use the Portland State figure, and a growth rate of 1.28% a year. But if the feds are smarter than Portland State, the population is actually a bit lower, and the debt per resident is a bit higher, than is shown there.

Who needs KOA?

Our faithful reader Rudie caught this scene this afternoon. It's a guy who's set up camp -- complete with barbecue grill -- in Waterfront Park down by Portland's Steel Bridge:

Maybe Fish and Zari will swing by for a photo op on their way home.

A new place to go to get pepper-sprayed

If you're tired of hanging with the anarchist hipsters at the Red and Black, you might want to mosey over to the old Saks store in Pioneer Place in downtown Portland. A new H&M store is moving in there, and that Swedish clothing retailer is drawing some serious flak for expanding into Israel. You can expect the picketers any day now. Maybe Officer Humphreys will show up and you can really savor Portland.

Just what Portland doesn't need

More office space. Maybe Congress ought to come up with a new LEED Platinum chapter of the bankruptcy code.

Ooooh, another cool word thingie!

We got our Portland water and sewer bill in the mail yesterday. After the wife applied the defillibrator to revive me, I was able to focus for a while and ponder how much of the bill was probably illegal under Measure 5.

Then we noticed that this fell out of the envelope:

It's a 3¾-by-8½-inch full-color card, the back of which basically told us to let our lawn go brown and to water the rest of our garden as little as possible over the summer. It's a message that could have been delivered much more cheaply, but when you've got three paid bloggers on staff, I guess they have to have something to do.

With the water system being used as a cash cow to fund all of Fireman Randy's wild, non-water-related dreams, you would think they'd want to sell more water, not less. But I guess the bill's going to go up, up, up no matter how much we conserve, and so they'd rather deliver less while they charge us more.

This ought to be worth a $1 million City of Portland subsidy

One big source of danger for bicyclists is being "doored" -- hit by a driver's side car door being opened by a car occupant who didn't realize that a bicycle was approaching from behind as they got out after parking. This invention might help, at least somewhat. [Via Cousin Jim.]

Monday, June 21, 2010

Beaverton lands new IBM jobs

Well, heck, that's good news for a change.

Final curtain falls on "Musical High Schools"

Apparently Super Carole won't be closing any high schools this year after all. And so a long, emotional exercise comes to naught.

Oh, but wait... the one thing the drama did do is get Mayor Creepy aroused into action:

"With your decision to delay (the vote)," he said, "I offer you the full participation of the city of Portland... to figure out the best sustainable way forward to make sure every Portland parent can expect their child to walk into any Portland school and walk across the plank with their certificate."

A legend leaves us

Arriving in our e-mail bag today while we were on the road was this message from Michael Whitmore:

I’m a daily reader, so thought you might want to post a piece about Bunny Mason’s passing last night at 9:00pm. I don’t know if you’re a golfer, but he was a great teacher of the game and also a very good PGA golfer in his younger years. Bunny was my mentor since I was a kid and when I played at the old Salem Golf Course. We teamed up later to design and construct some pretty neat golf courses including Skamania G.C. in Stevenson, Washington and Persimmon G.C. in Gresham, all told maybe a couple dozen golf projects together. Bunny was head PGA pro at Columbia G.C. here in Portland after Salem and then went over to Black Butte Ranch as the head pro for something like thirty years. He will be greatly missed by many. He was one of a kind and a great friend.

The hits just keep on comin'

Now Horizon Airlines is laying people off.

It's not just the field burning down here

We're spending the better part of this day in the lovely seat of Lane County. We stayed at the Valley River Inn. It's usually the best place in town for lodging, but the room we had last night had been recently occupied by either an 85-year-old person who had lost his or her sense of smell, or an international athlete whose last shower had been several weeks before his or her visit to the U of O as a prospective student.

Delayed-recognition scam

Add this one to the Oregonian bury-the-truth-on-Saturday pile: Remember when the OHSU aerial tram [rim shot] was exposed for running over budget, and Homer Williams and Dike Dame (not a typo) came up with $2.5 million toward making up the difference?

Well, get this: The city loaned Williams and Dike that money in a sweetheart transaction, at a below-market rate of interest:

With the developers, the city used its favorable credit rating to get a 5.75 percent loan from Bank of America. The city then lent the money to North Macadam Investors at 6 percent interest....

If the developers failed to repay the loan and the property couldn't cover the debt, the city's general fund would be on the hook.

Keep moving, folks -- nothing to see here!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Fit to be tied

Interesting factoid: If you had picked every match so far to end in a draw, you would be in second place in our World Cup "pool."

Key card

Just another day at the beach

We had a fantastic day in Cannon Beach yesterday, where we helped our team compete in the annual sandcastle competition.



Take this fee and shove it

Here's an interesting story: A Portland real estate bigwig is refusing to pay his five-figure "downtown clean and safe" bill because he feels the blocks on which his properties sit are neither clean nor safe.

Hey, Barry! Don't forget to look into a potential Measure 5 challenge. If you have to pay the fee as a property owner and you didn't order the service, it could very well be a "tax" subject to Measure 5, and it could push the city over the constitutional limit. (It's already over it with water and sewer spending gone haywire, but that's another story.)

Stepmom fever hits 105°

There's not much hard news to report in the Kyron Horman abduction case, and that opens the door for lots of silliness. We thought we were approaching the limits of absurdity yesterday with this post, but the O went out and outdid us 10 times over with this steaming pile of words.

Meanwhile, for a thorough bootleg collection of photos and videos about the case, try here.

Happy Father's Day

Circa 1964

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Stolen trailer, or just stolen photo?

Remember this post?

Check out this Craigslist listing.

I've already contacted these folks.

Good times out in Beaverton

Everybody at City Hall gets a raise. Woo hoo!

"Wake up and smell the couplet"

The folks who, like us, think the Burnside-Couch traffic couplet is a colossally bad idea have gotten organized to the point of this website. Their main pitch seems to be that the proposed one-way streets would be too friendly to cars. That may be an appealing come-on to attract the hipsters, and we applaud it for that reason. But don't expect Mike Powell and the developer sharks who want the couplet to take this lying down. Soon they'll be bombarding us with reasons why the couplet is the greenest thing since spinach.

The fact that the city is essentially broke and can't afford this useless make-work project will be a mere peep in the debate, if it's heard at all.

Stepmom fever -- catch it

Click and scroll down here for some interesting photos that appear to be of Kyron Horman's stepmother in a bodybuilding contest in 2005. They aren't very relevant to anything, but they're more revealing than watching that sheriff's captain dodging questions again.

Meanwhile, this statement from the family yesterday:

"Father's Day is Sunday. For the first time in seven years, we will not have Kyron around to hug and talk to. It hurts us deeply and our heart is broken."
No hope for a miracle return on Friday night or Saturday? They seem to have given up awfully easily.

Finally for now, many in the national press are misquoting the county sheriff's spokesperson as saying, "Terri is the last known person to have seen Kyron alive before he disappeared." He did not use the word "alive," as a simple review of the videotape of yesterday's press conference makes clear.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Idaho bomb plot story has Oregon City connection

It's a tangled web over there in Aryanland.

Now that Colorado's in the Pac 10...

... maybe some of the other attributes of that state will soon be imported to Oregon. D'ya think?

Have a great weekend

Our reputation precedes us

Looking for a city that burns money on whatever the hot trend is at the moment? Look no further than "progressive Portland." And wait 'til the SamRand twins get a load of this one:

In other news traffic light-related news, IBM is currently in the process of developing a traffic light that would turn off the motor of a car at a red traffic signal to conserve fuel.
Go by streetcar, or don't go at all!

Friday in the park with Fish and Zari

The Portland parks bureau's head honchos have responded to the recent focus on the city's Forest Park with new initiatives to protect the place while trying to accommodate everyone who wants to use it for their own purposes. One of the steps is going to be the hiring of a full-time park ranger for that long stretch of greenspace.

Paying for the new programs isn't quite settled yet, however, and City Commissioner Nick Fish says he'll look for "a dedicated source of regional" funding -- I guess that means a new tax to be levied by Metro -- as well as the dreaded "public-private partnership" stuff.

Frequent service

The "low-car" people, whose influence over Portland-area policies and spending is becoming legendary, have come up with another website on which to air their issues and views as bikers, pedestrians, and transit riders. And this time there's a four-page monthly print publication to go with it. Streetcar Smith is a honcho in the group, whose main web page is here.

Police eyeing Kyron's stepmom, says WW

Willamette Week has broken ranks with the rest of the local media and waded into the murky water of suggesting what police investigators are thinking in the case of Kyron Horman, the missing 7-year-old boy. The paper is reporting that several sources have confirmed that the boy's stepmother, Terri Moulton Horman, is a target of the investigation into the boy's disappearance, in part because her cell phone records may not match her story. The intense police focus on Sauvie Island is reportedly based on her cell phone's whereabouts on the day Kyron disappeared, which of course should be easily established by her wireless service provider's records.

Whether cranking up the pressure on Ms. Horman at this time will somehow lead to a break in the case is anyone's guess. Certainly WW's theory of the investigation would make some logical sense, and if correct, it would remove some of the intense mystery surrounding the case. What it doesn't do is make the story any less depressing. If Kyron has left this world, may the person who took his life pay for it.

(Meanwhile, over at KOIN, they had a rough time last evening, after they erroneously posted this. Bad oopsie. And if you'd really like to wig out on some new Kyron gossip and speculation, adjust your tin foil helmet and go here.)

Uh oh!

A recall.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Another great moment in NBA history

Fans around the world have to be thrilled with this.

Look out below

Portland home prices are projected to fall another 12% over the next two years.

The last thing that's needed

I can't remember Portland's public schools ever being in this much disarray. It's mid-June, and hundreds of high school students don't know where they'll be going to school in September.

What a time to suggest that the mayor inject his unique brand of leadership into the decision-making process. He's so good with the teenagers.

Nuclear bomb launched toward City of Portland's balance sheet

If like us you've been watching the City of Portland's slow drowning in red ink, here's a story that will be of interest. Yesterday, the outfit that sets the accounting standards for state and local governments -- known colloquially as GASB -- released a proposal that to our untrained eyes would take the city's balance sheet deep into the red compared to where it is now.

Under the GASB plan, government employers would have to report on their financial statements the unfunded portion of employee pension plans as a net pension liability -- something they don't have to do now. Currently, the unfunded liability gets pushed down to footnotes to the statements. You can see the numbers, but you have to know where to look. There'll be no missing them under this proposal. And many much-touted surpluses would likely vanish overnight.

As Ted Sickinger of the O reports today, this can have a serious negative impact on outfits like the state's PERS system, which it one time looked fairly healthy but has started to deflate with the end of the go-go period in the stock market. Think of how serious it's going to be for the City of Portland's police and fire pension system, which is completely unfunded. Under current actuarial estimates, the city's accrued liability to public safety officers is well north of $2.2 billion -- more likely something like $2.5 billion. Slap that up on the balance sheet? Ouch!

Speaking of which, GASB is also proposing to crack down on some of the hocus pocus that goes into putting a number on the unfunded portion of the pension funds. For example, a lot of state and local governments make wild assumptions about how much their pension investments are going to yield. Under the new rules, if benefit payments are projected to wipe out plan assets at some point, any liabilities beyond that date would have to be discounted to their present values using a high-quality municipal bond index, which under current conditions would bear a pretty low interest rate. Math-wise, that means that the pension liabilities would look even bigger. Of course, since Portland has literally no assets put aside for police and fire retirement, all projected benefit payments would be subject to the new restrictions.

GASB's taking comments on its proposals over the next few months. The bureaucrats in the state and local finance offices will likely be protesting, as will the public employee unions, and it will be interesting to see whether the governing board sticks to its guns. In any event, the endgame for crazy state and local government borrowing and pension promises may be in sight. Go by streetcar, while you can!

Another City of Portland parking contract -- for workers' kids

The contract for the day care operation in the Portland Building -- mostly city government employees' children attend, but apparently so do some others -- is up for a five-year renewal. The current contractor is a nonprofit known as Joyful Noise, which has had the deal since the city opened the day care center in 2000. The details of the contract renewal are here; a lot of the original contract is here.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Portland's Musical High Schools plan falling apart?

It sure looks that way. Not exactly inspiring confidence in Super Carole, would you say?

We're drawing up a roadmap to steal -- you can help

Here's a focus group meeting that's darned troubling. They're inviting neighbors to come and talk about the processes by which Portland's developer scoundrels are planning to buy up public properties like parkland and old schools for a song, and turn them into enclaves for rich people, or garbage infill.

Whenever the city sets up something like this, smart people smell a rat. Will anything said at this meeting curb the inexorable trend toward giveaways to The Favored West Hills Few? I doubt it. Will what is said be taken by those folks and turned around into a weapon to be used against neighborhood opposition? Likely.

When you're fighting these people, the best tack may well be to stay home, lawyer up, and make their lives difficult, individual scheme by individual scheme. You'll need to be plenty ruthless, because so are the money-grubbers. Singing "Kumbaya" at a "neighborhood coalition" meeting, in front of all the developer plants, dupes, and shills in the audience, may be counterproductive.

DIY Parking

They know how to do it in Beijing:

Smaller duck poop job draws half the bidders

The last time the City of Portland held a meeting for contractors interested in cleaning out the Laurelhurst Park duck pond, 45 showed up. This time, with a more modest contract up for grabs, only 23 were in attendance.

One man, six votes

How bad do you want a particular politician to win? Would you be willing to forgo voting in one race to give two votes to your favorite candidate in another? They're doing it in New York, under court order.

World Cup shocker

The Swiss beat Spain.

Are "voter-owned elections" unconstitutional?

While Portland voters ponder whether to keep or throw out "voter-owned elections" -- the city's quixotic taxpayer financing of politicians' City Council campaigns -- a new U.S. Supreme Court order throws the legality of at least some aspects of the Portland "clean money" system into question. Apparently the Court is unhappy with provisions of Arizona law that allow publicly financed candidates extra public money when their opponents spend more than the "clean" candidates. The Arizona rules may impinge upon the speech rights of the opponents, in violation of the First Amendment, as the Court has for decades adhered to the view that spending money to disseminate a message is a form of protected speech.

When last I looked, the Portland system had a matching mechanism in it similar to the Arizona law -- I believe Amanda Fritz and Erik "Opie" Sten both benefited from it in past years.

So far, the High Court has forbidden Arizona from shelling out more "clean money" to match opponent spending in the governor's race down there -- pending a likely full hearing on the merits of the constitutional claim sometime in the fall. Meanwhile, Portland voters will pass on the city's program on November 2. It seems highly unlikely that the Supreme Court will issue a final opinion in the Arizona case before then.

Going up

Portland's planning overlords sent us our annual yard debris schedule in the mail the other day (a seemingly unnecessary mailing, as the schedule is the same as always), and it included this notice:

The reference to a "monthly bill" is a little confusing, since our guy bills us every other month. But over here on the Idaho side of town, the rates are going up by between $1 and $2 a month. Some examples:

ServiceMonthly charge 2009-2010Monthly charge 2010-2011Dollar increasePercentage increase
Weekly pickup, 32-gallon cart$26.75$27.95$1.204.49%
Weekly pickup, 60-gallon cart$31.85$33.35$1.504.71%

The complete old east side rates are here, and the complete new east side rates are here. You folks on the west side can go here and here, respectively, where your rates take into account your hilly terrain. Noblesse oblige!

On to the next gimmick

Federal handouts -- thousands to buy a house -- have expired, leaving housing prices back in the doldrums. It will be interesting to see how summer auto sales go without "cash for clunkers," which propped things up in that industry last year. The month of May was apparently a pretty good one for carmakers this year, even without bonus money from Uncle Sam.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

In and out

Apropos our activities of yesterday, here's a wonderful site that maps recent migration within the United States, as documented by the IRS.

Where's the grease?

A thoughtful reader writes:

Is it me, or is something important missing with the BP oil spill coverage? More and more I keep seeing pictures of BP "workers" cleaning up the oil spill, in brand new white bunny suits with new floppy hats, new gloves and new safety vests. All without a single drop of oil or sweat on the employees or clothing. The scene always looks like a chain-gang in designer safety clothes to me.

OK, sure they're Photo Ops, and staged; but I would expect by now to see some independent on-scene shots or stories with hot, dirty workers doing hot, dirty work. Haven't seen one yet in print or video. And it always seems that there is a guy in a white BP hardhat nearby too, for interviews or guided tours. It looks like China's minder-style of media coverage is running full tilt in the Gulf. Is BP that big an advertiser that News gets told to follow Sales' instructions for proper coverage?

Actually CBS got a story of a PR photo op with a gaggle of media following a crew "working." The CBS crew then came back 30 minutes later to see them striping out of their bunny suits and back into their street clothes, beers in hand. After all the hours of mind-numbing TV coverage I watched while in the hospital, this was the only real independent news story I've seen.

I'm sure there is real cleanup work getting done down there, just why don't I see it covered independently without a BP PR Team employee nearby? Thoughts?

Pomp, circumstance, and silly string

This looks like it was fun.

Above the law

Here's a state legislator setting a fine example for his fellow Idahoans.

City Hall as crack ho

We've been bemoaning the City of Portland's dangerous addiction to bonds for years now, but the topic's currently gaining nationwide attention because municipalities all over the country are so deeply in debt that some serious defaults seem likely.

Voters have wised up to the failings of many grand, politically inspired projects, and when given the chance they've defeated new taxes and borrowing for them. But much state and local debt now exists in independent authorities whose borrowings are not subject to voter approvals. Some of these agencies have operated recklessly....

Taxpayers are only slowly realizing that their states and municipalities face long-term obligations that will be increasingly hard to meet. Rick Bookstaber, a senior policy adviser to the Securities and Exchange Commission, recently warned that the muni market has all the characteristics of a crisis that might unfold with "a widespread cascade in defaults." If that painful scenario materializes, it will be because we have too long ignored how some politicians have become addicted to debt.

Go by streetcar, my friends.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The medium is not the message

I spent the day today with hundreds of my closest friends, and this guy, who it seems to me is the real "world's most interesting man." Anyone who can convincingly establish that PowerPoint contributed to the space shuttle Columbia disaster obviously has quite a head on his shoulders, and his seminar on presenting information was truly absorbing. Not to mention full of great beauty and elegant expression, along with lots of amusement along the way:

Not many old hands can influence what I do in my day job -- or how I go about the grand hobby known as this blog, for that matter -- but today was an exception. The path has definitely been illuminated from a different angle.

Perhaps the most notable observation of the day: The computer mouse is on its way out. With the iPad, the touch screen has demonstrated its superiority and likely imminent dominance.

Arranged marriage

Whole Foods and street carts? I give it less than a year.

Do I what? Will I what?

The City of Portland has picked a contractor who will set up the spiffy new system whereby the SamRand Twins can call you on your cell phone and tell you that yes, what just shook the ground so violently for 60 seconds and collapsed the entire city was indeed an earthquake. It looks like the lucky winner is something called FirstCall Interactive Network of Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The new system is going to cost a bazillion dollars that we don't have, but hey, when you hear Fireman Randy's voice on the other end of the line at 3 a.m., you're going to rave that it was worth every penny.

Gatsby's latest idea

"Call up the bank we owe our mortgage to and tell them if they don't shape up, we're gonna retaliate."

Quite the looker

An alert reader sends along, for no apparent reason, this lovely photo of Portland's Rose Festival queen of 1915, Sybil Baker:

Guess who's joined the Fourth Estate

With the mainstream media slowly but inexorably falling apart, and alternative news-and-views sources such as blogs on the rise, you might think it would be a welcome development to have some of the newer media recognized by the government's regulatory apparatus.

But maybe it isn't such a hot idea.

I'm just saying

Many dogs look like their owners.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Stennie-in-chief suddenly weighs in on high school plan

The head honcho for "Opie" Sten's operation (before it abruptly shut down for reasons unknown) expresses his opinion on the Portland musical high schools issue. I guess he'll be in the next school board election. Go by Bus!

Why are we in Afghanistan?

To a declining superpower with a collapsing economy and serious natural resource problems, but still with enough military might to strong-arm the less settled places on the globe -- would this be attractive?

Just like I said

It's time to get a whole bunch of BP's assets in a safe place, to pay for the mess it's made -- before the corporate weasels have a chance to go hide them all somewhere. Alas, it may already be too late. This should have been ordered up weeks ago.

Poor Kyron

We have reached nine days now since seven-year-old Kyron Horman disappeared. Many dozens of people are out searching for him, but let's face it -- he couldn't have survived that long on his own. Either somebody is holding him, or he is deceased.

There are several theories floating around on the internet about what has happened to this boy. It's easy to find them, if you must. My own is that the authorities believe him to be dead, have a prime suspect, and are collecting evidence against that person now, as well as searching for the child's remains. I suspect there will be some breaks in the case soon.

It's a dark, dark story, and we pray for light, but it's hard to see any kind of good ending now. Lord have mercy.

What you missed in England-U.S. soccer match

You can see what you need to in about two minutes -- and without overwrought announcers -- after a 10-second commercial here.

England's in white, USA in blue.

And for the coolest place to see the whole schedule of what's been and what's to come, try this.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A sensible idea

A smart friend of ours has a good question: When they recently replaced the cable on the OHSU aerial tram [rim shot], what did they do with the old one? He suggested that they should have cut it up and sold pieces of it as souvenirs.

Eat, drink, and be merry

If you'd rather not think that our country is headed for an even bigger fall than it suffered a couple of years ago, don't read this:

ALBANY — Gov. David A. Paterson and legislative leaders have tentatively agreed to allow the state and municipalities to borrow nearly $6 billion to help them make their required annual payments to the state pension fund.

And, in classic budgetary sleight-of-hand, they will borrow the money to make the payments to the pension fund — from the same pension fund.

We are not done crashing yet, folks.

Another police shooting waiting to happen?

His mother thinks so.

Our area's mental health resources, and laws, really do seem to need some sprucing up.

Two more bureaucrats for Portland mayor's office

Now that he's taken over the police bureau (insert prayer here), Portland's creepy mayor has decided to expand his staff by yet two more positions -- a "director of public safety and peacekeeping" at up to $75,000 a year plus benefits, plus a "coordinator" to assist that director, at up to $50,000 a year plus benefits. I'm sure they'll both be people with good judgment, lots of relevant experience, and a truly independent mindset.

The 1970-D penny mint mark vertical anomaly

We continue to plow through the 20 years of pocket-change pennies that our reader, Ben, turned over to us for closer perusal. These days we're into the 1970s. Picking through the cents from the first year of that decade (or the last day of the preceding decade, for you nerds out there), we've been watching intently for the coveted 1970-S small date specimen. No dice so far, but in the course of that hunt, we noticed something else that we haven't seen anyone else write about in our study of all things Lincoln penny:


There are quite a few of both in our assemblage, which means that neither is going to be more valuable than the other. But come on, numismatic experts of the world -- you should have told us! There appear to have been at least two different pennies to track down from the Denver mint that year.

UPDATE, 9/16/11, 2:18 a.m.: More on this fascinating subject here.


Here's a distressing e-mail message that we received yesterday. The author says it's about the Sellwood youth baseball league in southeast Portland:

Please take a good look at the picture of the trailer below. It belongs to Sellwood Baseball and was stolen yesterday at a home near Berkeley Park. In the trailer is all of the league's field equipment, including our newly purchased mower, drags, and other important equipment. Please pass this on to anyone you know in the Eastmoreland-Woodstock areas as well as Westmoreland and Sellwood, etc. neighborhoods.

What a dastardly deed. Granted, it's not a distinctive color or anything, but how many of these could there be around town? If you see it and think you recognize it, Portland police have been informed that it's missing; give them a call. Or if you'd like to contact the folks who are reporting it stolen, please e-mail me and I'll put you in touch.

Friday, June 11, 2010

A perfect likeness

This artist has captured reality to a T.

Have a great weekend

Portland High School Closure Plan of the Day

Today it's close Jefferson and Marshall.

Tune in again tomorrow.

This week's Portland bureaucracy psychobabble

Here's a classic missive from City Hall's hulking planning machinery. Some day in the future, there will be a graduate degree available for translating this stuff into English.

Another world cup

We may be watching soccer, but my card shark nephew has made it to the final table at a limit hold 'em tournament at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. He's currently ninth at a table of 10 survivors from a field of 476, who paid $2,000 each to get in. Cards fly again at 2:30 this afternoon. Top prize is $203,600 -- he's guaranteed $12,561. Go, G.B.!

Fast and loose with the state constitution

Article XI, section 6 of the Oregon Constitution states in part: "The state shall not subscribe to, or be interested in the stock of any company, association or corporation."

But here's a story about the state making a huge loan to a startup company. Now, the tax lawyer in me knows that at some point, a so-called loan to a high-risk venture is more properly classified as equity rather than debt. In other words, as an economic matter it's a preferred stock, rather than a loan, because there's substantial risk that it might not be repaid. That's especially true if it's subordinated, expressly or implicitly, to other debts that the borrower owes.

Has that theory got any legs when it comes to the Oregon constitutional prohibition? And if so, on which side of the debt-equity line does this "loan" fall?

Then there's this slick maneuver here in Portland:

State rules prevent the city from investing directly in private companies. So the city considered lending the money instead.

Now, though, the PDC has decided to grant the money to a new, self-perpetuating not-for-profit organization.

That five-member group will hire an investment manager to handle the city's money and solicit private investment to augment the city's stake.

The "state rules" that the O reporter is talking about are presumably Article XI, section 9 of the Oregon constitution, which reads in part:

No county, city, town or other municipal corporation, by vote of its citizens, or otherwise, shall become a stockholder in any joint company, corporation or association, whatever, or raise money for, or loan its credit to, or in aid of, any such company, corporation or association.
Is that constitutional provision as easy to get around as the PDC is making it out to be? You just set up a nonprofit and launder the stock investment -- "the city's stake" -- through that group? Is the constitution that flimsy?

I know, I know -- this is Portland. I shouldn't even bother to ask.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Clueless but ready

We're less than nine hours away from the start of the World Cup soccer "football" tournament, and we amateur prognosticators are getting serious about our choices in the first two games matches, which take place in the morning our time. In our prediction game, players need to pick a winning team side of each game match, or call it a tie draw. If my understanding is correct, draws are a possibility worth considering in the early round because there's no overtime extra time played if the score is tied after the regular 90 minutes of play.

But I could be wrong. I really don't know what I'm doing. And yet I'm the commissioner of the game. I guess it's not that much different from baseball, after all.

Why I love animals

They have great instincts.

Never mind -- Portland sewer bill checkoff may be an add-on

We railed this morning against the City of Portland's plan to allow customers to designate part of their sewer bills to go toward public school bioswales. The press release we read on the subject sure sounded as if that would be the case. But an alert reader read all the way down to the fine print at the bottom of a different city announcement of this new idea and noticed that it isn't really coming out of your sewer bill -- if you make the donation it gets added onto your bill:

The city will add the amount of the GreenBucks contribution you choose to your bill each billing period.
That makes this program far less objectionable, although it's still a wonder why city employees are getting paid to solicit and forward donations to the public schools.

Really, really, really your last chance -- I mean it!

Time's just about run out for you to get invited to, and make your first picks in, our World Cup soccer prediction game. Mexico and host South Africa get into it at 7 a.m. tomorrow, and if I watch it, it will be from a bed. So if you want in, now's the time.

Check out the details here, and e-mail us here to get your engraved invitation. Winner gets free drinks and glory. We've got more than 30 players, and a solid consulting team giving some of us sage advice. Go, Côte d'Ivoire!

Here comes legalized online poker

And now Earl the Pearl is leading the charge.

More sewer bill shenanigans in Portland

This time it's "for the children" -- the City of Portland is allowing sewer customers to send some of their sewer bills to the public schools. It's supposed to help the schools pay for their hazardous drainage ditches bioswales and the like, but let's face it: Every dollar that some do-gooder checks off for the schools is a dollar that somebody else is going to have to pay to maintain, repair, and update the sewers that everybody uses.

Portland's fun and games with sewer and water revenues just get sillier and sillier. We're not all that far from this, really.

I'm more convinced than ever that there's a Measure 5 violation in here somewhere.

UPDATE. 12:52 p.m.: Hold your horses! It appears that the school donations will be an add-on to customers' bills, not a check-off of their existing sewer bill amounts.

Put 2 + 2 together? Not in the O.

One thing Portland's daily newspaper rarely does is connect the dots. Check out these two stories posted within three hours of each other:

The first is about the unmitigated financial disaster known as the South Waterfront (SoWhat) district along the river in southwest Portland. Even reporter Ryan Frank, who seems never to think critically about a fish story told to him by a bureaucrat, can't bring himself to say anything positive. The fat cat developers lied through their teeth and basically stole millions from the public. And their henchmen at the Portland Development Commission -- all Goldschmidt lieutenants at the time, placed there by Neil's best puppets, Vera Katz and Sam Adams -- handed it over to the real estate sharpies, along with a nice "consulting" check for Neil.

In a real city, people would be in jail over stuff like that.

Meanwhile, out in surburbia, the guy who steered Portland into the SoWhat black hole as head of the PDC -- Don "The Don" Mazziotti -- is now doing the very same thing in his new job. As development poobah for the City of Beaverton, The Don wants authority to cut a no-bid deal with a lead contractor, and he's holding out a blank checkbook for the number and types of "urban renewal" malarkey projects that he and said contractor can come up with. Of course, he's also talking all his familiar, tough-guy-deal-man talk about "skin in the game," blah blah blah.

Are the two stories linked in any way by the newspaper? Of course not.

Some folks wonder why the voters in this area never learn. A big part of it is that the mainstream media here won't, or can't, teach.

And a kid in the car with her

Just another Monday night in Milwaukie.

What Tri-Met consultants do at work

This is simply hysterical.

And if you want to see for yourself, I managed to download a copy of the original pdf file yesterday afternoon before it got sanitized. Just go here and roll your mouse over the photo.

Maybe Tri-Met's drivers aren't its only workers with attention deficit problems.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

BP's big coverup

And the Obama administration is totally in on it.

If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention.

More on the deadly Tri-Met accident

Outgoing agency chief "Crocodile" Hansen admits that the bus driver was way in the wrong when she mowed down five pedestrians with a green light in a crosswalk, and he releases an overall safety report from an outside consultant brought in after that horrifying incident.

Portland water: still with Advil

We got this year's colorful 12-page booklet on Portland drinking water quality the other day:

It had some interesting information in it, in addition to all the hype. One item was the news that the open reservoirs at Mount Tabor are scheduled to be disconnected by the end of 2015, with the water currently stored there being moved to the underground tanks at Powell Butte. The deadline for disconnecting the reservoirs at Washington Park is the end of 2020.

One blue note is the fact that they're still finding over-the-counter drugs in the groundwater out by the wells that the city uses in late summer and early fall, when the Bull Run reservoir is low. This has been happening since 2007, when they detected small quantities of acetaminophen, ibuprofen, a sulfa drug (an antibiotic), and caffeine. In April 2008, they detected two kinds of hormones from birth-control pills -- estradiol and 17 alpha-ethinyl estradiol.

One of the latest reported tests found detected 3.5 parts per trillion of ibuprofen. The city explains:

I'm not sure what actions the city can take, but I sure do wish people would stop throwing Advil down their wells.

You'll kick yourself if you don't play our World Cup game

By this time Friday, the World Cup soccer tournament will have begun in South Africa, and this blog's World Cup prediction game will be under way. Players in our game will pick winners in the tourney one day at a time, with choices not due until minutes before game time each day.

The first two matches are on Friday morning -- South Africa and Mexico, starting at 7 a.m. our time. The home team usually overachieves at the tournament, at least when it's held in an exotic place like Johannesburg, but... Uruguay and France, the other game in that group, kicks of at 11 our time. The tournament rolls on until the last head-butt on July 11.

If you want to compete for drinks and glory -- it's free -- just shoot me an e-mail message and I'll get you an invite right away. You'll need a Yahoo account (also free) to play. Beyond that, it doesn't matter whether you call it soccer or football, a field or a pitch, a team or a side, or chopped liver for that matter. You can be our champ.

And go, Cameroon!

Duck Poop Cleanup 2.0 will leave PCBs in place

We've taken a look at the City of Portland's new bid invitations for the proposed cleanout of the pond in Laurelhurst Park -- a project that is supposed to cost $775,000, but when last put out for bid couldn't be completed for much less than twice that amount. The difference between this go-'round and the last one is that now the city is stipulating that hazardous PCBs are to be left in the pond bed, rather than removed and disposed of, as the original bid specified. The city is also making street access to the site easier, opening up some residential streets north of the park (Floral Drive and Laurelhurst Place) to construction traffic. And it's giving the contractor a little more time to get the work done.

Curiously, although no contaminated fill is to be removed under the new plan, the amount of sediment to be taken out remains the same, at about 14,050 cubic yards. Under the old plan, 2,480 of those cubic yards were supposed to be of contaminated material. The old bid documents contained analyses of sediment samples that showed contamination by various hazardous substances; those are omitted from the new bid package.

There are three zones shown on the project maps as contaminated. They are marked with diagonal lines on this map. One is at the east end of the pond, one is along the south side toward the east end, and another is on the north side just west of the middle of the pond:

Those are some pretty big chunks of the pond. With that much of the sediment left untouched -- and the worst of it, no doubt -- is it worth doing the rest of this project?

One of the revised maps contains this new caution about turtles that might be disturbed by the dredging of the pond:

And oh, yeah: The city's revised, official project maps still call 39th Avenue by its old name, rather than César Chávez Boulevard.

More Portland sewer insanity

No one wants to do business in Portland any more -- and it's not hard to see why.

Top 2 primary system wins in California

Between the Golden State and our neighbor to the north, Oregonians will get ample chance to see what we missed.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

PR damage control: Buy up Google search terms

As a reader points out, this is kind of sad.

Does Adams deal put GE's hand into taxpayers' pockets?

I'm reading the glowing announcement by Portland Mayor Sam Adams [rim shot] about the wonderful new deal he's suddenly cooked up with General Electric to make Portland even greener and more sustainable than it already is. Oh yeah -- nothing says Care for the Earth like GE.

I'm really concerned about the third and final bullet point in this description of the deal:

According to the intent of the MoU, GE will partner with Portland to:

* Engage with local companies to help them develop and expand into new markets via global product licensing;

* Implement residential and commercial energy efficiency retrofits, develop EcoDistricts throughout the city, and work toward the completion of the world-leading Oregon Sustainability Center;

* Explore city finance needs via municipal, state and GE resources.

Looking at the agreement itself, I can find there nothing in it about that last part.

And so what kind of backroom deal has been made about city finances that nobody's been told about? Given the shadowy nature of the world of municipal borrowing, and the fact that the city's already way over its head in debt, this should be a question of deep concern to every Portlander.

We hold these truths to be un-PC

Surprise! Adams cuts backroom deal with General Electric.

Anybody heard anything about this before now? Apparently it's already been signed.

Here's an interesting provision of the contract:

The parties will work together to develop a mutually acceptable operating rhythm whereby GE and Portland will participate in information exchanges in development of the Shared Vision and projects, including semi-annual meetings between Portland and GE leadership, to discuss new technology, city trends, needs, and future projects.
If there's one thing you don't want to do, it's to get into an "operating rhythm" with our mayor.

UPDATE, 5:20 p.m.: It has indeed been signed.

Second oil well quietly leaking off Louisiana coast

If the bigger blowout hadn't happened nearby, we never would have heard about it.

In case you missed it

This comment from early this morning deserves a post of its own:

Hi! Sam Adams here. You might have seen me in Mens Room Romance III or Letter Stuffers IX. I'm taking a break from Twitter to tell you about my newest program to help you, Portland.

To keep poor people out of Walmart, we are going to use $20 million of sewer money to fund organic food stamps. These Sam Stamps are good only at Whole Foods, New Season, or Trader Joe's.

Why sewer money? Simple, my crack staff found an article in Mother Jones that says organic food produces smaller stools. Can you say "sewer savings"?

But there's more. Sign up for a new credit card at the Bank of Sam. If you spend $1000 at Whole Foods or New Seasons, the mayor will take credit for donating a can of organic corn to the Oregon Food Bank.

We love our readers.

Please, no one with any spine

Here's a funny one to get you through your Tuesday afternoon. The backers of Sen. Ron "Gatsby" Wyden (R-N.Y.) have wired us to report that we need to send money to Wyden right away because his opponent is an ideologue, and OMG, we can't have any ideologues representing us in Congress!

They've got a valid point. Their guy can't be accused of having rigid principles. He's full of surprises. Repeal the estate tax, cut corporate tax rates, kill the health care public option -- you never need to worry that Ron Wyden has any ideology. Particularly not a Democratic one.

Technical difficulties at Google

Service may be disrupted today. (Via UtterlyBoring.com.)

The Otis grand jury

I spent three and a half hours last night with the grand jury transcript in the Keaton Otis killing by Portland police. It's a riveting read, certainly captivating in its detail, and it will no doubt impress anyone who takes the time to look through it.

From the accounts of the six or seven police officers on the scene and many other witnesses, there is not much doubt that Officer Christopher Burley was shot a few seconds before most, if not all, of the 32 shots were fired by his fellow police officers. There was another, non-police-issue gun at the scene, which fired at least one shot. No fingerprints appear to have been taken from that gun. One bullet fired by it was recovered, and it had the wounded officer's DNA on it. The cartridge casing was in Otis's car.

It's not likely that Burley was hit by friendly fire -- his fellow officers on the scene were standing behind him when the shooting started -- and he never fired his own gun. There was no gunpowder on his clothing.

The police officers' stories all line up. Burley tried to grab Otis by the wrist through the front driver's side window of his car, and open the door so that another officer could reach in and pull him out. Otis pulled away and slouched along the front seat toward the glove compartment. Two cops shot their Tasers into Otis, who was in an extraordinarily agitated state ever since they stopped him, but that had only a limited effect. Otis pulled a gun out of a Crown Royal bag and shot twice, they say, or maybe it was three times (although only one bullet and one casing from that gun were recovered). Three officers then rained down a hail of hollow-point bullets, only one or two of which struck with fatal effect.

The victim was a severely depressed young man who had been locking himself in his darkened room for days and was starving himself to death. At 6 feet 4 inches tall, his weight was down to 155 pounds. Once in a while he would eat a bag of Doritos. One man testified that an enraged Otis had previously threatened him with a baseball bat in a bizarre incident. He clearly had serious problems.

His mother, with whom he lived, testified that she and her husband, who raised Otis, did everything they could to get him help. But he would not take it, and society would not force him to do so until he was more of a proven threat to himself or others. And so he was killed by the police instead.

Although it produces a gun and a bullet that hit Burley, which is what I needed to put my worst fears to rest, the grand jury transcript also points to an alarming circumstance -- the sickeningly thin reasons that the police officers gave for singling Otis out in traffic on Grand Avenue and tailing him. It was another one of the Portland police's amorphous "I had a bad feeling about that car" explanations, reminiscent of the James Jahar Perez killing a while back.

The main reason that the officer who instigated the incident gave for following Otis was how intently Otis was looking through his side view mirror at the police car behind him. Then a second police car got involved alongside the first, further upsetting the extremely sick kid. The police also said their suspicions were aroused because Otis was wearing his sweatshirt hood up on a warm evening, and the car he was driving was registered to a woman, and an older woman at that. (It turned out to be his mother.)

So they tailed him, and he reacted by cutting across a couple of lanes of traffic. Then he wouldn't pull over right away. And when he did, he screamed and cursed and refused to obey the cops' instructions. One of the police officers pulled out his gun, which got Otis even crazier.

Then more police cars showed up, boxing him in. Then one of the policemen reached inside the car and grabbed his wrist. He pulled away and got Tased twice. Then the Crown Royal bag appeared, and that was the tragic end of Keaton Dupree Otis.

I don't often agree with Portland's creepy mayor, but on this one, I think he's right: This sort of thing should not happen. Our community, all of us, should feel enough shame to try to do better, much better.

Public bidding? Just dodge it.

Those laws don't apply to UC Nike.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Grand jury, or "Oprah"?

I'm reading the transcript of the grand jury proceedings in the May 12 police killing of Keaton Otis. I'm 14 pages into it, and so far all I've read is the officer who was shot by Otis giving a firsthand account of his own fascinating life. The cop even stops and cries a little -- quite a scene.

This is a fair and impartial proceeding? Maybe over the next 694 pages, but not so far. Grand juries are led by the nose, and so far, they've clearly been led to a no-bill.

UPDATE, 6/8, 12:25 a.m.: Here's a lighter moment from the grand jury's long day:

Anarchists unite

No joke -- in Portland, that actually happens.

The Doctor is in...

... but after this Saturday night, he'll be only on the web.

You know who also hates Wal-Mart, besides Portland City Hall?


A matter most fowl

All of a sudden several people I know are raising chickens in their yards around Portland and vicinity. Although I enjoy getting some free eggs now and then, I could never imagine being ambitious enough to keep the birds myself. Plus, what do they eat? I almost don't want to know.

Cha-ching! Guess who makes out when City Hall borrows big bucks.

You'll never guess in a million years.

While we enjoy our iPhones...

... we should keep in mind that the working conditions for the Chinese people who make them are so bad, and worker suicides have become so commonplace, that they're now installing safety nets around the factories to catch people when they jump off the building.

More on Dan Saltzman's loot

After his BFFs at Willy Week (mayoral endorsement pending) wrote about Portland city commissioner Dan Saltzman's real estate bazillions last week, we asked the state government ethics office for our own copy of "Legend" Dan's annual financial disclosure statement, filed in April. It showed up Friday afternoon, and we're posting it here.

Here's his reported income for 2009:

The file we got from the state is hard to read -- at our age, we needed a magnifying glass for some of the numbers -- but our calculator comes up with $789,972. That was the aggregate of the "partner distributions" from seven LLCs and a limited partnership -- all of them save for one (which distributed only $21 to him) located at 1800 SW First Avenue, down on the streetcar line near the Portland Plaza complex. Also included is a "shareholder distribution," from an LLC at the same address. (No explanation was offered for the odd terminology -- usually, LLC owners are referred to as "members.")

It's interesting that the reported amounts are Saltzman's distributions. There's a distinction made in partnership and LLC accounting between income and distributions. The former is the share of partnership profit that was credited to the partner's capital account; the latter is the cash actually paid out to the partner. The two are not the same. If a partnership makes a ton of dough and pours it into new assets, that's still the partners' income, even though they received no cash. On the other hand, partnerships can make distributions to partners even in years in which they lose money. It appears Saltzman reported cash flow.

That is one heck of a fat cash flow. And Dan owns only 20% or 25% of these companies. If the distributions to partners were pro rata, the family raked in well north of $3 million for the year. This recession is so tough.

It's interesting that "Legend" also reported the amount of income from each source, whereas the state form requires only that the office holder "[i]dentify the sources of income... that produced 10% or more of the total annual household income."

On a related front, the disclosure statements show that the commish has interests in 17 different real estate companies, all at that same address:

Here, the instructions ask only for "all real property... in which... you... had any ownership interest,... located within the geographical boundaries of the public entity you serve." Since some of the entities that threw off distributions during the year are not listed among these 17 entities, this latter list may be only the Saltzman entities that own real estate within the Portland city limits. Who knows how many other real estate investments there are in the clan?

We were hoping to find some similar fireworks in the other commissioners' reports -- or in those of the Multnomah County commissioners -- but no dice, it's pretty mundane stuff.

In any event, for the Google search engine, here are the names of all the Saltzman companies typed out in HTML characters. It would be interesting to comb through the City Council records sometime and see if any of them crop up in city transactions. Have fun, internet sleuthers:

Continue reading "More on Dan Saltzman's loot" »

Tired, tired arguments

"If you use a cell phone, you have no right to complain about them sticking antennas on a pole 40 feet from your infant's crib."

"If you drive a gasoline-powered car, you have no right to criticize the way BP cares for the environment."

"If you use information from a newspaper on your blog, you have no right to criticize the way the newspaper is run."

What's next from the bicycle overlords

They'll be switching us over to angled, back-in parking for our cars.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

He even works on rainy days

From an alert reader:

I ran into the Welches Con Man today in front of a warehouse at SE 9th and Alder.

Asked if I know Portland and Welches.

I told him I had heard about his scam and he should leave. Damn, I should have taken a picture of him.

I read your blog on him earlier and that is what I connected onto. Thanks for the tip. Looks just like you said, same quotes.

There's a book here -- a short book, maybe 180 pages, but a book nonetheless. Handled properly, it could be a nice little property.

Super Carole goes all post-9/11 after boy disappears

Skyline School second-grader Kyron Horman has been missing from his Portland school for more than two days now, and the school district's superintendent is calling for better security measures there and at all the city's public schools. Today she writes:

Here is what we will put in place at Skyline elementary tomorrow:

* Our Crisis Response Team will be available to provide counseling support to Skyline students, staff and families all day on Monday and Tuesday. The school psychologist assigned to Skyline and Roosevelt High School will also be on site all day. Up to five professional counseling staff will be available in room 203 at Skyline.

* Two school resource officers will be in place to provide enhanced security at Skyline School.

Here are additional steps we are taking at Skyline and at all schools across the district:

* As of Monday, June 7, 2010, we are mandating the use of our automated attendance call system at every K-8 and K-5 school, so that families will be notified of any unexcused absence during the day the absence is recorded. (Because this policy is not currently in place at all schools, it may take a day or two to fully implement the automated system. Until the system is implemented, we are requiring schools that do not use the automated attendance system to call families directly when there is an unexcused absence.)

* We are re-emphasizing our existing policy requiring all school staff, contractors and volunteers to display their I.D. badges and for visitors to sign-in and wear name tags at every school, during school hours. Any visitors who refuse to sign-in and wear a name tag will be asked to leave.

* We have put in place a counseling hotline that is available to anyone who needs advice or support, in particular how to help children address the safety and emotional issues raised by this situation. That number will be staffed starting at 8:30 a.m. Monday morning. The phone number is: 503-916-3931.

* We are convening a team of school district leaders, including deputy superintendents, principals and school security services, as well as leaders of the Portland Association of Teachers, to review arrival and dismissal practices and identify ways we can ensure a smooth, well-coordinated transition of student supervision between families and teachers at the beginning and end of the school day.

As part of this effort, we will review our visitor sign-in practices for school events that invite large numbers of family members and community members into our schools.

Were all the grownups at the school signed in and wearing name tags on Friday morning? I'd be surprised if they were. But getting hard-core about that requirement now is going to be like the security theater that we go through at American airports. It's inconvenient, it's reassuring, and in the end, it's never going to be 100% effective against a determined kidnapper. (And that is not to say that there definitely was a kidnapper in the Horman case.)

Free hint: New Zealand isn't going all the way

Have you signed up for our World Cup "pool" yet? It's free to enter -- all you need is a Yahoo account (also free) and some time to predict the winners of the various games in the premier international soccer tournament, which begins this Friday the 11th. You can guess, and I'll bet you still won't come in last.

The winner of our game gets beverages and glory. Everybody else gets a reason to follow the Cup, if they didn't have one before. If you bet on the side, I'll be looking the other way. And you can cheat by following what the experts have to say!

To join in the action, just shoot me an e-mail and I'll get an invitation out to you lickety-prindle. As they say in South Africa (I think), Laduuuuuuuuma!

Highly viral

Here's a photo that will be making the email rounds.

Old watchdog still has a few teeth left

My friend Ted Sickinger over at the O probably knows more about money than any other reporter, and any editor, in town. And he's got a nice piece today on the wild roll of the dice that the Goldschmidt lieutenants who run the Oregon public employees' pension system have taken with the taxpayers' billions.

Oregon's pension fund now has $10.2 billion in private equity funds. That's one in every five dollars -- more than double the typical public fund's allocation to the sector. More than half of those investments are concentrated in funds raised between 2006 and 2008.

Another $2.3 billion is in private real estate funds, more than half invested during the industry's bubble.

There's a separate issue. The pension fund has committed another $8.2 billion to private equity and real estate funds. It pays hefty fees on those uninvested commitments, which could dent future returns. And if the private equity managers invest that money quicker than they distribute any profits from the current portfolio, it could give the pension fund cash flow problems and further skew its risk profile.

A bleak picture, but at least Sickinger provides some comic relief:

Investment officers from Treasurer Ted Wheeler's agency declined to be interviewed for this story. Since The Oregonian ran a series of stories this spring questioning the agency's travel policies and investment officers relationships with private equity fund managers, the department will only issue statements in response to written questions.
Wheeler's gotten himself involved with some of the darker forces in our state. Let's hope he cleans things up, rather than going over to that side himself.

His name is Kyron

Here's a deeply disturbing story. And I can't put my finger on it, but there's something about the details being given so far that doesn't sound right to me.

Anyway, if you see Kyron Horman (pictured above at the time he disappeared from Skyline School in Northwest Portland on Friday), call 503-261-2847. And if you pray, pray.

Testing 1-2-3 -- Is this thing on?

We got a couple of weird-looking e-mail messages that purported to be from Qwest yesterday. We figured they were phishing attempts, and we deleted them without opening. In the wee smalls of this morning, we received another message, which informed us --

In the last 24 hours you may have received two emails from Qwest with "email_campaign_revised" in the subject line.

Those emails were sent by mistake as the result of a systems processing error with our email address information. You may completely disregard them.

They were not fraud attempts. And they are not the result of any unauthorized disclosure of your email address or any other information about you. Your privacy and the protection of information about you are important to us.

We apologize for any confusion or concern those emails may have caused.

Lowell Miller, VP eBusiness Operations

"Email campaign"? Looks as though we can expect some spam from Qwest in the near future -- which we will once again delete without reading.

Qwest pounds our home relentlessly with unwanted advertising. We get all manner of snail mail urging us to switch over to their internet service -- they'll even hook us up with the satellite TV people. And they called us so many times at dinner hour with sales pitches that not only did we sign up on the national don't-call list, but we also purchased with our land line a service that chases solicitors away with a recorded announcement before it even puts calls through.

In essence, we pay Qwest $6.95 a month not to bother us.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Score one for the Rose City fuzz

This police officer did a great thing.

Bumper sticker, anyone?

There's still time to get your Bojack bumper sticker for a mere buck. The postage and envelope alone are more than that, and so we may have to jack up our "shipping and handling" fee to a dollar and a half soon. Get yours today -- the perfect Father's Day gift for your cranky old man. You're just a couple of clicks away.

Direct appeal

Spotted on a light pole in the Beaumont-Wilshire neighborhood this morning:

Moyer's hole -- the perfect solution

Here's downtown Portland's chance to go truly world-class...

... although I still think this should be given a shot.

It seems like years since it's been clear

Having experienced a rare dry day yesterday, Portlanders are confronted this morning with crystal blue skies and bright sun. Will they remember what to do under these strange conditions?

Friday, June 4, 2010

Have a great weekend

Condo tower infill: It ain't working

Portland gets a fairly prominent mention in this article:

In Portland, like in Miami, the fact remains that suburbia has not been abandoned. Despite the high density over-building in the Pearl District and elsewhere in the core, detached housing has become even more popular in the region. According to data from the Bureau of the Census, the share of households living in detached housing in the Portland metropolitan area rose from 63.7% in 2000 to 64.5% in 2008 (Figure 2).
Go by streetcar -- through what this author calls "the slums of tomorrow."

Please don't tell the Sam-Rand twins

Here's an interesting factoid from today's story in the O about the City of the 'Couv buying the newspaper building in its downtown:

The six-story, 118,000-square-foot building at 415 W. Sixth St. is at the epicenter of the city's downtown renaissance that unfolded for the first part of this decade. The building is south of Esther Short Park and next door to the Hilton Vancouver Washington, which is owned by the city.
Pray that the mayor of Portland and his ventriloquist in the firefighter gear don't catch wind of this and keep up with the Joneses by buying some hipster hotel somewhere in town. They'd probably use water bureau money, on the theory that hotels use a lot of water.

Another day, another page on the chart

Checking in this morning on the collective nervous breakdown that is the Adams administration in Portland, we find that alas, the patient is still quite ill. Now it turns out that saving all those uniformed police officers' jobs won't mean actually keeping them on the streets. They've laid off a bunch of civilian workers and are putting the arm on the sworn officers to take over the desk jobs that the civilians used to do. Another great moment from the Maestro of Mindscrew.

The tangled web of lies and misleading statements coming out of the mayor's office over his police bureau coup has become far too complex to follow any more. I guess if the falsehoods showed us anything new about this patient, it might be worth trying to sort through them all. But we've known for a long time what the problem is here, and for now it suffices to note that no progress is being made. Recovery will take another 2½ years -- maybe longer.

Coming attraction

As a kid growing up in Newark, I was always fascinated with the Holland and Lincoln Tunnels. These were the two main routes for cars and buses to get us into and out of Manhattan to do our New York City stuff. Our other frequent mode of crossing the Hudson was the Port Authority Trans Hudson (PATH) train. PATH had its own tunnels, one set into midtown and another down toward the battery, ending up at what in the '70s became the World Trade Center. There was also the George Washington Bridge that went into the uptown part of the island, but we used it only occasionally.

The tunnels were something in my youthful days. There were actually police officers standing in little booths along the side of the roadways, watching out for problems. What a life it must have been to be a tunnel cop. There was probably a fair amount of alcohol consumed after each shift.

We boomers had missed out on the building of the tunnels. Indeed, the Holland Tunnel had been finished around the time my mother and father were born, whereas the Lincoln was a child of the '30s and '40s. The PATH tunnels -- or "tubes," as they were traditionally known -- were even older than the Holland.

Well, now we're going to get a chance to see one of these babies being built. The New York port authority is getting ready to dig another set of twin tunnels under the Hudson for more commuter trains from New Jersey. This set will wind up at Penn Station on the New York side -- and apparently, somewhere in North Bergen on the New Jersey side.

Given how far imaging and communications have come over the decades, we should get some views of this project that the spectators of the previous tunnel projects could only dream about. But let's hope the project is kinder to the construction workers -- dozens of men died building the old ones.

Maybe he gets a break on his mortgage

Now Portland's bizarre mayor is hawking Visa cards. Hey, master of reckless borrowing -- he ought to know.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

And no end in sight

These photos are too tragic for words.

Toxic brew

Portland's hipster anarchist types meet its out-of-control police force over coffee. Can it get any uglier?

Ahead of his time

Here's a wonderfully cranky post by somebody who's merely middle-aged.

A question of semantics

A friend of ours asked us an interesting question last night: Is it a "recession" if there's no hope of ever bouncing back?

Your iPhone bill could be going down

Unless you burn through data more than most.

Lawyer Trivia Question of the Day

Who's the guy holding the Bible at John F. Kennedy's inauguration?

We're no. 2!

Oregon's got the second most knowledgeable drivers in the nation, according to this survey. Here we have something we're good at -- why does the City of Portland demonize it?

New twist on an old parade

An alert reader down in the Old Town-Chinatown section of Portland forwarded this e-mail message that he received the other night:

From: Brooks, John
Sent: Monday, May 31, 2010 7:32 PM
Subject: Grand Floral Parade

All --

I am a Portland Police Lieutenant in charge of the Grand Floral Parade this year. I am trying something very different this year by decreasing the number of sworn police officers working the parade from 266 to about 80. In order to accomplish this, I am looking to replace a number of positions previously filled by officers with citizen volunteers from the community. I am needing 30 volunteer cyclists who I could break up into groups of three citizens and one police officer (on a bike) to help with a section of the parade route. This cadre of four would have the responsibility for a 6 block section and would help spectators understand where they can sit and where they can't. Also, help with frequently asked questions like where is a bathroom?, Where is a Starbucks?, etc. For bike duty I am leaning toward 18 and older to help along the parade route. I am looking for people who interact well with others.

The parade is June 12th and we are generally out there from 8am to 2pm. I will be taking good care of all our volunteers.

The other part is the fiscal responsibility piece. The parade is a nice event. There is no reason to pay sworn police officers straight time and/or overtime for an event that does not require that degree of qualification. Hence the reason we are making this shift in how we do things.

If you are over 18, have a bike and helmet, and would like to serve the community in a fun way. I encourage you to get in touch with me. I would appreciate hearing from you.

If you have questions, my cell number is (503) 793-8353.


Lt. John Brooks
Portland Police Bureau
East Precinct
737 SE 106th Ave
Portland, OR 97216
(503) 823-4829

This reminds me of how things used to get done in these parts. Here's hoping that it works out well.

Super Carole wades in a little deeper

Here it is June, and Portland students headed for freshman year at Marshall or Benson High Schools now don't know where they'll actually be going to school in September. The latest tweaking of Musical High Schools includes some changes that would take effect this summer, rather than next as previously planned.

At some point, there's a question of competence, I think.

Nuke the spill?

Ain't gonna happen.

And now for some Supreme Court analysis

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

One more try for Laurelhurst Park pond duck poop cleanup

Having failed once in trying to get someone to clean out the duck pond in Laurelhurst Park for a mere $775,000, the City of Portland is trying again.

I wonder what essential features of the original plan are going to be cut to bring the price down to $775,000. The low bid on the last go-'round was nearly $1.5 million.

We'll soon know how he's doing in Farmville

Get set up on Facebook? Mission accomplished.

Your new competitor: City Hall

Local government has gotten way out of control in Portland -- mission creep in the water and sewer bureaus, especially -- but it may be outdone in Seattle. Up there, the city is talking about going into the second-hand store business. A little scary down here in our neck of the woods, where our city and county fathers are so heavily into the whole "ReUse" thing themselves.

Dan Saltzman made $790,000 last year from real estate

According to Willy Week, old "Legend" has "a dizzying array of real estate investments" on the side of his Portland City Council gig. Whoa. To throw off $790,000 in partnership income, you've got to be worth eight figures, no? But remember, he relates to all Portlanders, especially the children. And his real estate partners never get any favors. Really.

Interesting that this news gets broken after the election.

Multi-modal miff

Up in Seattle, the bicyclists are suing the streetcar.

Interesting Headline of the Week

Actually, it was last week, but still...

Nothing new under the Gulf

Same disaster as, only worse than, 31 years ago.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Neighborhood involvement

We checked in with the outraged neighbors at their protest of the new wireless antenna installation at Fremont and 37th in Portland this evening. There were three dozen or so people, mostly kids, standing out in the rain, holding signs and selling home-baked goods to try to scratch together attorney's fees to mount a legal challenge. Lots of horn honks from passing drivers, presumably of support.

Probably the strongest argument that the opponents will have is that the Fremont location does not comply with the city's siting standards for such equipment. The city's new system is supposed to maximize placement of these antennas on poles along streets designated as "priority" on the city's official map for the purpose. The Fremont right-of-way is priority 4 -- the lowest priority -- with the priority 2 venue of 33rd Avenue just four blocks away.

As best we can tell, while the city's map sounds good in theory, for the cell companies the key is finding an adjacent private property owner who is willing to have the ground equipment for the antennas located on his or her lot. At 37th and Fremont, the willing owner was the Wilshire Market, which is suffering a boycott now for having gotten in bed with Clearwire. At 23rd and Stanton, the owner is Qwest, which has a huge modern switching station tucked inside a historic building there. They'll presumably house the Clearwire equipment and collect rent for the privilege. But without a nearby landowner to go along, all the priority maps won't do the cell people any good at all.

But they'll probably get their way. The city criteria for siting are vague indeed, with the cell phone devils' "coverage needs" given as a sort of sick touchstone. It will likely be an uphill battle for the opponents, no matter how many cookies were sold.

Meanwhile, a couple of commenters on previous posts wondered how tall the poles at the new locations would be. Just to get some idea, we cruised down to NE 26th south of Fremont to view this AT&T installation. Having been slapped up with no notice to nearby residents before the new rules took effect, it is a large part of what has the northeast neighbors upset. We had to tilt our camera to get the whole thing into the frame:

Is that 60 feet? We're told that the 37th and Fremont pole will be about 60 feet tall, and that at 23rd and Stanton, they're talking 90 feet, because the signal needs to clear some of the neighborhood's grand century-old trees. What is becoming of our neighborhoods under the Adams "administration"? With one insult after another, it's gotten pretty shameful. As Portland's businesses head for happier climes, people looking for livability may not be far behind.

Facts trickle out, at the cops' pace

The official story of the May 12 Keaton Otis police shooting continues to dribble out, with the Portland police today for the first time identifying what they said was Otis's gun -- stolen in a 2006 burglary in Milwaukie. It will be interesting to see whether the two bullets that hit Officer Chris Burley actually came from that gun -- or whether they will ever be traced to any gun.

Willamette Week shows remarkable journalistic guts in describing a key fact: "Police say it was Otis who shot Burley." Yes, that is what the police say. Whether that in fact occurred, however, has not yet been conclusively demonstrated. The police say Otis had already been hit with three Taser shots and had just broken free from an arm hold when he reached over into the glove box, pulled the gun, and shot Burley twice with it before the other officers opened fire with 32 shots. That story seems worthy of some skepticism, especially since by the police's own account, 9 of the 32 shots -- 28 percent of them -- missed Otis.

If you want to read the official version presented as if it were fact, you need only head over to the Trib, where it is stated simply: "Despite being hit by the Tasers, Otis reached a gun and shot Burley." Maybe.

My point exactly

Remember Robert Reich? He agrees with me that the federal government ought to take over BP's assets now, at least for a while. He's calling for a "temporary receivership" -- an elegant way to put it. It's past time for the White House and Congress to get going on the idea.

Super Carole revising her musical high schools game plan

Fro the Portland school board we learn today that the superintendent "is making some revisions" to her high school reshuffle proposal and "and will bring an updated plan to the school board this Wednesday." That ought to keep people guessing. Anybody out there know what she's got up her sleeve this time?

Bustin' out all over

On the Idaho side of Portland

I see that the disappointed fans of Marshall High School are contemplating defecting to the David Douglas school district if the Portland school board insists on shutting down Marshall's general curriculum and sports programs.

That reminds me: What ever happened to the Portland City Council's quixotic (and arguably illegal) diversion of Pearl district property taxes to build a new school in the David Douglas district? The whole "satellite urban renewal district" -- that one's been quiet for a while. Silence usually mean that things are proceeding along nicely, under the radar. Just another violation of Measure 5 by the City of Portland -- where are the tighty righty taxpayer "watchdogs" and their lawyers?

The beat of black wings

When George Bush was in the White House, it seemed as though the mainstream media were giving us the war death toll every day. Lately, I hardly hear those numbers -- although maybe I'm not paying enough attention. Anyway, as of last Friday, here they are: more than 4,400 U.S. military and Defense Department civilians dead in Iraq, and more than 1,075 dead in connection with the war in Afghanistan. God rest their souls, and help this world.

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