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

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August 2010 Archives

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

First there is a website, then there is no website, then there is

It happened to them, it can happen to anyone.

Recipe for trouble

Will there be shortcuts in workmanship, or massive cost overruns? Hard to believe that this rush-rush project will be completed without one or both of those.

And if that sewer line caves, it's Katy bar the goal.

Meanwhile, it looks like the roof on the stadium will soon be gone for good. The soccer fans will be getting as much of a soaking as the taxpayers.

UPDATE, 10:17 p.m.: False alarm about the roof -- the Timbers website shows it will still be there:

Not sure what the point is of that roof-less version picked up by the Daily Journal of Commerce.

Pass the salt

I need a few grains for this report: Oregon's economy is "recovering."

A Portland killer cop pulled off street

Portland police officer Ronald Frashour, who killed Aaron Campbell last winter, has been placed on leave, and a review board has recommended that he be fired.

A post for your payday

The nice folks who put out Oregon Business magazine have been sending me free copies of their monthly print publication for a while now, and it's always a good read. This month they have a fine feature about how big-money college football has invaded our state. Collegiate athletics have become a greasy business just about everywhere you go, but reading the story of the local participants in that game really brings the point home.

For us, however, the highlight of the September issue is the journal's annual look at chief executive compensation at public companies headquartered in Oregon. We often ruminate about public employees' salaries on this blog, but looking at what the CEOs of these corporations rake in can rally take one's breath away.

Especially the public utility companies. These cash cows are regulated, at least to a degree, on the theory that their service is a matter of life and death, particularly to people of limited means, and their opportunities for profit-taking should be limited. That said, it's a bit eye-popping that the guy who runs the gas company -- former Goldschmidt lieutenant Gregg Kantor -- pulled in a nifty $2,418,958 in compensation last year, including a $446,000 salary, a $234,848 bonus, and a wheelbarrow full of stock and other goodies. Meanwhile, at PGE, James Piro raked in a lovely $1,433,807, including a $550,000 salary and a $370,194 bonus. But of course, they're both pikers compared to the guy running Standard Insurance ($3,723,004), or the CEO of Nike ($13,118,834). Even if he worked every waking minute, the Nike chief made around $2,250 an hour.

Are these folks worth that kind of money?

Of course not. No one is.

More mysteries of Google Street View

At this intersection near our place, on the southeast corner, you see an adorable sight -- a kids' lemonade stand. But move in any direction and look back at it -- it disappears.

Where the rubber meets the road

The road fights back.

Welches con man claims another victim

A first-time reader writes:

I was scammed earlier this evening (8/30/2010) on SW 11th and Yamhill. He started out with the usual line "Have you heard of Welches?" He told us his truck was stolen and he needed cab fare to get home. I totally thought he was legit and honest. Shortly after I gave him $20, my boyfriend googled his name. We jumped in the car and drove around downtown hoping to find him. I stopped a police officer and told him the story. Hopefully the d**che nozzle gets what's coming to him! Funny thing is... the police officer seemed shocked that we googled the guy and saw that he was a scam artist. How do they not know who he is?
It beats me, reader; it beats me.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Super Carole postpones the inevitable

The Portland school board says it will burn $22 million in reserves rather than cut services any further in the coming school year. Let's hope their financial picture doesn't get any worse.

August in Oregon

It snowed today (mixed with rain) in Sunriver. And they were cross-country skiing on Mount Bachelor.

How to save the wildlife on Hayden Island

When the Port of Portland paves over hundreds of acres for yet another under-utilized shipping facility on the island's west side, they can simply install one of these.

Insult to injury in the multi-modal mecca

The cyclist who was hospitalized after a crunch with a Tri-Met bus on the Portland transit mall on August 12 was given a ticket for failing to obey a traffic device in the incident, according to the BikePortland blog. [Via KGW.]

Metro chief peddling tax subsidies for you-know-who

One of things that the Portland region's "unique" Metro government has going for it is its primary role as keeper of the area's land use laws and regulations. As we understand it, many years ago, before there was a Metro, the lawmakers in Salem correctly figured out that city, county, and town politicians couldn't be trusted to apply land use rules honestly and wisely. But rather than have the state run the show, the legislature created a new level of bureaucracy, between the state and the county, to coordinate land use policy.

The wisdom of that move could be debated, we suppose, but if you ask Portlanders what they think of having Metro as the area's land use barons, most would probably say they like it. Metro has a reputation as the folks responsible for keeping urban sprawl contained, and stopping developers from paving over the Willamette Valley all the way down to Salem and all the way out to the coast.

But is that reputation well deserved? Is Metro's heart really in the right place?

Lately we've been having our doubts. A few weeks ago, we noted that the chief operating officer of Metro, a guy named Michael Jordan, had issued a bunch of documents that suggested that the region's smaller governments weren't doing enough to make more tax money available for development scams.

Now he's making speeches about it:

Jordan noted that there have been some challenges in implementing the 2040 Growth Concept, the region’s growth management plan adopted in 1995 that focuses population and employment growth in designated town centers, regional centers, transportation corridors and employment areas. He noted that having the plan is not sufficient and that there have been significant challenges to achieving new development, much of which is due to insufficient or poorly coordinated public funding to pay for the sewers, roads, sidewalks and other public structures that are essential for development to occur.
Translation: "We're not handing out tax dollars to the development crowd fast enough. We need more 'urban renewal.' The public pays for the infrastructure, our real estate buddies make a bunch of money selling apartments, and the construction boys down at the Arlington Club cash in on building all of it."

He sure doesn't sound to us like a watchdog for the earth. More like a salesman for the guys with the bulldozers.

Another Euro "green" company gets a PDC handout

This time it's a Swiss outfit, ReVolt, which is trying to make zinc-air batteries big enough for cars. They're going to be ensconced out by the airport -- just up the street from the Home Depot near I-205. In addition to a $5 million federal grant, they say they've lined up $6.8 million of "incentives" from the Oregon Department of Energy (criminal investigation pending) and the Portland Development Commission. The PDC, of course, just handed over something like $2 million to the Danish windmill manufacturer Vestas to keep its American headquarters in Portland.

Jobs are better than no jobs, and anything's better than the PDC handing out more money for condos and streetcars. But one wonders whether these "green" firms are going to make it in the long term. Take ReVolt, for example. Various big-time players (including General Motors) have been trying to get a vehicle to run on a viable zinc cell for decades, but without commercial success.

Eventually, ReVolt says, it will be manufacturing batteries on the airport site. Given its proximity to the City of Portland drinking water wells and the Columbia River, one suspects that some interesting environmental regulatory issues could crop up.

Just what the Portland real estate market needs right now

Fifty-seven more condo units! Who's crazy enough to blow money to build condos in the midst of the worst real estate trough of our lifetimes? You guessed it -- the Portland Development Commission. They've got $11 million into this turkey, including $3 million they coughed up just this past Friday. The deal has been staggering along for nearly four years.

When Fireman Randy asks you in November for money for his new firehouse and trucks, you could suggest that he should have used this money instead.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Seven more years of recession?

So says someone who knows what she's talking about.


The media reports about this Friday night car wreck involving an Oregon state trooper are mighty thin. Often, that can mean that the police officer was at fault. Anybody know what happened in this accident?

In the running

Will this video about Portland take honors? It appears the winner will be announced any time now.

UPDATE, 8/30, 1:25 a.m.: It appears that the Portland video won! At least, the home page of the contest now says "Congratulations to Riley Hooper," and she's the maker of the Portland entry. The first prize is a trip to Amsterdam -- Royales with Cheese all around!

Why Johnny can't learn

It's not safe for work, but this comment on our schools is well worth watching. (And you're not at work on Sunday, are you?)

Chief number cruncher at the Magic Kingdom

An Oregon City native left his mark.

Pretty soon we learn to fly

A volcano in Indonesia is erupting for the first time in 400 years.

Guess we've got about 180 to go.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Mary, Mary, where ya goin' to?

The slammer, apparently.

The Saltzmanites will no doubt jump all over this.

In P.C. Portland, it's complicated

We put the sue in sushi.

Problem solved

When confronted with a loaf of New Seasons ciabatta bread with a big hole in the middle, here's exactly what you do: Fill the cavity with Costco chicken salad.

Serve with Casal Garcia rosé. Divine.

So you think you know pro football?

The official rules for this year's charity NFL underdog pool are now posted, here. If you think you've got what it takes and want to use your gridiron prognostication skills to benefit your favorite charity, you might want to play with us this year. The games kick off in a little over a week. If you're ready to play and you haven't already let me know, now's a good time to do so.

I don't root for the taxing authorities much

But in this case, I'll make an exception.

Violence on Max green line already in full swing

Once again, with the trains come crime and gunfire. This is a large part of why most people in the 'Couv and Milwaukie have no real interest in getting them.

Doesn't add up

Here's one that sure doesn't look right. The Oregon Department of Justice is investigating a company controlled by John Kitzhaber's significant other, on which company's board Kitzhaber himself sat for many recent years -- but the state attorney general is out on the campaign trail stumping for Kitz? BlueOregon informed us on Thursday:

As Attorney General John Kroger told a group of volunteer canvassers Saturday before heading out to talk to voters about John’s stances on everything from economic recovery to education funding, "The other side isn’t going to have a grassroots effort because they don’t believe in grassroots support. They believe in raising a lot of money from huge corporations."
Nope, doesn't look right at all.

Premature allelopathy

It's a week before Labor Day, and already the foliage on some of the trees here in Portland is turning. It's been a cool summer, for sure -- nice and easy on the A.C. bills -- but it's too bad the leaves are turning red before the tomatoes.

Hole-y cow

We enjoy New Seasons bread, but not when we get this, which is a little too often:

You better sit down, Qwest

I'll tell you why, Qwest: Google's offering free phone calls anywhere in North America from any computer that's got a microphone and a Gmail account attached to it. And in our first experiments with it, it's worked as well as a cell phone call. The only drawback (if it is one) is that you don't show up as yourself on the call recipient's caller ID.

Say your prayers before you go to bed, make sure you get yourself to school on time...

Friday, August 27, 2010

Paul Allen: "I invented the internet"

Now the Blazers' owner is suing just about everybody who's anybody in internet commerce, charging patent infringement.

Without delving too deeply into the merits of his lawsuit, already it smells like the time he took the Rose Garden arena into bankruptcy. Allen thought he was "playing hardball" with the mortgage holders, but they cleaned his clock. He doubtlessly spent millions on lawyers, and definitely got nowhere. Given his utter failure with one business venture after another, the presumption regarding this latest courtroom frolic has got to be that he'll lose again, and badly.

The countersuits will no doubt be filed next week.

Have a great weekend

Roughed up by the feds

The Federal Aviation Administration has gone a little over the top with this one. [Via KGW.]

To the victors go the Astroturf

Now that they've fended off Little Lord Paulson, Fireman Randy, The Don, Mother Vera, and the Shipracks, it appears that the folks out in the Lents neighborhood in southeast Portland are being shown some proposed improvements for their park. They deserve the upgrade -- but already one can see that the encroachment of soccer onto the baseball field could be a bit of a bone of contention.

They'll get their rewards in heaven, I guess

Here's yet another good Samaritan who's gotten much grief after saving a drowning victim.

Underdog pool is on for another year (but alas, without Mom)

Our post of a few days ago, seeing if we have enough interest for another year's NFL underdog pool, elicited quite a few "yes" responses. So it's official -- we are going for it! The first lines will be posted on Tuesday, September 7 -- just 11 days from now. (The first game of the season is a Thursday nighter on the 9th.)

If you e-mailed me to say you were interested, watch your own e-mail over the next few days for further instructions. For those readers who haven't thought about this yet, here's the basic lowdown: The pool would operate pretty much the same way it did last year, but this year we'd start with the very first week's regular season action. Players kiss $20 goodbye -- it all goes to charity -- and slug it out, season-long, for glory and the right to designate which charity gets the pot.

The object of the game is to pick each week one NFL underdog that's going to win its game outright. Each successful pick wins points for the player equal to the number of points by which that 'dog was predicted by the oddsmakers to lose. The player with the most points at the end of the playoffs is pool champ and gets to direct the pot to his or her favorite charity. With enough players, we can have multiple winners, and several charities can benefit, as happened last year. More than $420 went out to a couple of charities last time around, as directed by our three top finishers.

If you'd like to play, just e-mail me at underdog@bojack.org, the official e-mail address for this year's festivities. I'll get back to you shortly.

This year's contest is dedicated to the memory of last year's third-place winner, Geno P's Mom. Geno wrote us the other day with these thoughts:

What’s life about? A longevity contest. Ask my octo-mom that, and she would tell you the lucky ones went quick while still vital, strong and mentally composed. That life becomes dreary when you’ve lost your partner and know you are in decline.

As her primary caregiver (a labor of love she would never admit to needing), I observed that her final months were consumed with missed doctor appointments and fruitless shopping trips -- going through motions which had long formed an identity but now just resulted in inappropriate purchases and the inevitable questions by me. "Do we really need an entire lemon meringue pie, and two loaves of bread?"

She longed for the sense of responsibility and accomplishment she once felt in providing for her family. Unfortunately, I was the only one near enough to visit regularly and sometimes stay in the guest room to keep her company. She was lonely but unwilling to make an effort to reach out to numerous friends and family who loved her dearly.

My biggest challenge was to recognize her dysfunction for what it was (part of the aging process) and not overreact and make her feel worse than she already did. What a sad existence near the end. My only solution was to rely on my wit to find the humor in an otherwise sad state of affairs. She was no longer a student nor a teacher but simply biding time before the inevitable.

My most satisfying moments were watching her craggy countenance break into a bright smile and hear the hearty chuckle well up from her core into a spontaneous belly laugh in response to some inane remark of mine about a shared observation.

We resolved the unnecessary food purchases by donating the excess to a local seniors food bank. She loved delivering the care packages and they appreciated receiving them. She was nothing if not a discriminating shopper and the food bank received top notch edibles from her.

When my father was still alive we would get together and make Sports Action picks on football games through the Oregon lottery. We all enjoyed the competition and occasionally won a little spare cash for the effort. We lost that shared moment when the lottery commission cancelled Sports Action because it was not as lucrative as the addictive video poker games.

When I announced to her last fall that we could once again resume Sports-Action-like betting except simpler -- picking one sure underdog winner for the week, I saw the twinkle in her eye. I would print the lineup each week and she would pick. She picked several long shots and eventually finished among the top three, winning a modest sum donated to a charity.

I cherished the look on her face when she would smile while reading the standings showing her success as one of the few women in the pool; and, at one time, leading the pack.

That experience was one of the highlights of what would prove to be the final year of her 83-year life. Thanks, Jack, for adding some joy to our struggles.

Just wow. Anyway, as I said, to play this year, start by sending me an e-mail message here if you haven't already done so. It should be fun, and some good causes will get a benefit, too.

Just like old times

The City of Portland's second quarter lobbying reports are out, and they show that the Port of Portland hangs around City Hall all the time, schmoozing the city commissioners for this thing and that. They have several people that they send over to whisper sweet nothings to the nose ring types on the politicians' staffs. But for the big scams -- like paving over bald eagle habitat on Hayden Island for a totally unnecessary shipping terminal -- they wheel in the really big guns from the Goldschmidt Network. Bill Wyatt and Tom Imeson themselves! I'll bet the walls tremble just a little when they walk in.


I've written about this earlier this summer, and I'm a little surprised that I haven't struck much of a chord with anybody about it: Isn't it a little weird for the O to have a happy-face photo of a reporter at the head of every story on its website -- even the grim ones?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

What's on your mind? (They'll never know.)

In Germany, the government's about to make it illegal for prospective employers to check up on job applicants on Facebook.

More money drama for Portland public schools

It never stops.

They don't even have a football team

But that other college in Eugene is leading the nation in something more significant.

Let's play House Hunters

For $400K, would you take the tiny 2-bedroom house in the Berkshires, the 1,038-square-foot Pearl District condo, or the "earthship" hobbit hole in Taos?

State budget hole: Now it's up to $1.3 billion

But hey, all aboard for that billion-dollar-plus Milwaukie light rail -- Linchpin City!

You were expecting?

Here's a nonblockbuster story: A group of rich sports team owners lied to get the public to build them a new stadium.

Of course, that could never happen in Portland. Here, the city doesn't even bother to ask the team owners to show how much they're making before the taxpayers are forced to pay part of the hot dog vendors' wages.

Please Mr. Postman

We blogged a while back about Oregon Secretary of State Kate Brown's plea to the U.S. Postal Service not to eliminate Saturday mail delivery, because such a move would screw up Oregon's vote-by-mail election system. The postal types fired back some pointed questions, to which has Brown has now responded -- well, to most of them.

Interesting fact that undercuts Brown's case, at least somewhat: 49% of the ballots cast in this May's primary were dropped off in person, not sent through the mail.

Drunk on debt

I really don't get this: Governments behave as if it's a legal or moral imperative for them to rush out and borrow every last penny they can get someone to lend them. And to encourage local businesses to do the same.

You hear it all the time. "How will we pay for this?" "Don't worry -- it will come from bonds." Or, "We've got plenty of bonding capacity for that [pet] project."

Gee whiz, people, it's borrowed money. You have to pay it back some day. Even if you get a good interest rate, you need to think about that before you sign up.

I get mortgage and credit card come-ons in the mail all the time. I'm sure I could get some great rates on money that I could borrow for all sorts of stuff. But like most responsible people, I'm smart enough to throw the offers away, because I just can't afford them.

The other bus project

This group of riders is none too happy with the way Tri-Met is mangling their bus service. They're staging a rally next Wednesday to protest service cuts and fare increases to take effect that day.

My, my -- don't those kids know to go by streetcar?

What? No shine sprites?

Williams Avenue cyclists who are also gamers must get a kick out of this.

A lion sleeps

George David Weiss, who wrote a stack of great songs in the '40s, '50s and '60s, has died at age 89. The shorter obituaries will probably mention "What a Wonderful World" (the Louis Armstrong one) as his best known song, but he knocked out many fine ones. "Can't Help Falling in Love," "Too Close for Comfort," "Lullaby in Birdland," and, would you believe, the two Stylistics hits "Heavy Falling Out" and "Let's Put it All Together"? He also worked on "The Lion Sleeps Tonight," in a tangled saga recounted here. The list of his tunes goes on for nine pages, here. Weiss also served for many years as president of the Songwriters Guild of America.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Stepmom fever -- sick of it yet?

I want to see news photos of Terri Horman on exactly three more occasions. Today -- she and Steve Houze making a totally unnecessary scene at some minor procedural divorce hearing -- was not one of them.

Is the Fourth Amendment only for the rich?

Better put up a barbed wire fence, I guess.

Equal time

A couple of weeks ago, we boasted about some delightful and cheap rosé wines that the Mrs. had picked up for us at Trader Joe's. Among the comments we received was a scold that we should be drinking Oregon wines instead.

We actually had a bottle of a Grenache Rosé in the cellar from Abacela winery out of Roseburg, and we have now consumed it. It was great. It cost twice as much as the cheaper vinos we reviewed, however, and it's an open question whether it was worth that much extra dough.

Tri-Met flip-flops on "unsafe" Northwest line

What a difference a day makes. Today they tell us that they're going to reopen the No. 15 bus line in Northwest Portland despite a hairy turnaround at the end. How? They're going to have flaggers on site to help the bus turn around, and eventually they're going to install some sort of warning devices to replace the flaggers.

The neighborhood meeting for tomorrow evening is still on.

Earl the Pearl wants needs-based Social Security

What's gotten into his bow tie? He talks with the New York Times here.

In defense of Oregon's business climate

Here are some smart people, with business smarts and actual lives, who think Oregon's not such a bad place for businesses:

Those who want to knock our business environment selectively focus on tax policies that put us at a disadvantage to other states. Yes, our income tax rate is high and our Kicker is just insane. However, our critics often overlook the fact that we do not have a sales tax or high payroll or gross receipts taxes and as a result our overall business taxes are the lowest in the region.

Frankly our fellow businessmen in the other states feel just as strongly about the problems they face as we do about ours. Businesspeople in every state of the region make statements similar to the quote from the owner of Becker Trucking, on page 4 of this report, about how the Washington legislature has not been friendly to business.

When looked at in this context, where are the jobs and businesses supposed to go? California with its near total fiscal collapse? Business people claim that they want to move to Nevada to avoid income taxes, but will they still want to do that after Nevada resolves its 50% cut in state revenues with new taxes and massive cuts in services? How about moving to Washington to escape income taxes with a ballot measure likely to add income taxes to their high gross receipts and sales taxes?

Arizona just added close to a billion dollars in new taxes, and the state is in turmoil due to its anti-immigration policies—a dynamic which will certainly make it difficult to recruit needed talent. Idaho claims that they offer advantages to Oregon business, but they have a corporate tax rate equivalent to Oregon’s, plus they have a 6% sales tax. Idaho also suffers from a small market and limited industrial infrastructure. Frankly, the closer one looks at the other states in the region, the better Oregon looks.

The whole thing is here.

The Newark Flash

Wayne Shorter turns 77 today.

Radio Free Metro

Portland's regional government hosts this mildly scary ditty on its website. And there's more where that came from if you scroll down.

Like a true nature's child, not

Portland's smart parking meters aren't so smart if you're on a motorcycle. People just steal your sticker, and you wind up getting a ticket, even if you fed the solar-powered beast and got it to work properly.

The solution? The city's going to sell monthly permits to motorcyclists and moped riders. For 40 bucks a month, they can park at any meter in town, but only for the posted time limit. For $10 less, there's a monthly motorcycle permit at the SmartPark garages. Or if none of that works, the city has this comical suggestion:

The City recommends that motorcyclists not interested in this monthly permit try the following other options to secure their parking receipt and proof of payment: pay the SmartMeter fee and secure the parking receipt on or near the motorcycle seat, write down the expiration time after paying for parking, and take a photo of the receipt with a cell phone. If a motorcyclist is interested in a more secure method to display their parking receipt, locking permit and receipt holders are available commercially.
Can you see the Harley riders standing there with their little note pads and pens, writing down their expiration times, and then whipping out their cell phones to take photos of the receipt stuck to their bike seat? Sure.

Kitz's other half, according to the internet

We're not exactly sure why, but our post of yesterday about the goings-on relating to former Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber's girlfriend and her companies sent one reader off on a tear, collecting a slew of items off the internet about her. A regular Cylvia Hayes file, is what he sent us.

Here she is running for the state legislature in 2002. She lost, but here's some speculation (capably reported by former Portlander Nick Budnick) that if Kitzhaber is brought back as governor, Hayes might run again.

Here's a somewhat shrill video clip of Hayes from 2006. Here's another one from 2009. This one's a bit of a howler: "We're not just visionary thinkers -- we're visionary do-ers."

Here's a mildly goofy come-on to businesses to join her firm's "stakeholders" group, for a mere $1,000 annual fee (for which you get three hours of consulting). The page also contains an endorsement from good old Bill Bradbury, identified by his state office.

Here's a Bend newspaper story about Hayes's starting up her private, for-proft company to supersede the nonprofit she ran for years:

3EStrategies isn’t a typical company; it will actually be made up of a consortium of independent consultants, including Hayes, from around the state.

Some of its clients include Metolian Resort, Redmond Airport, the city of Bend and the state of Oregon.

Uh huh. And then there's a puff piece from the Lake Oswego Review in 2007.

Here's a glossy 2008 report, apparently commissioned by an arm of the state government, but note the copyright notice:

If the ongoing criminal investigation into Hayes's companies' consulting contracts with the state bears fruit, perhaps some of these clippings will become more significant. For now, they're quite a file.

A chip off the old potatoe

Guess who's headed to Congress.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Golden Rule, Portland-style

Here's a story to get us all thinking about how "public" public education really is. The toniest public high school in Portland, Lincoln High, is out of money for a football coach -- but the principal's hitting up parents to donate $30,000 so that she can hire a good one anyway.

That doesn't sound like an option that anyone would even talk about at most public high schools in the city, or state.

If you accept the benefits of public education for your children, should you have to accept the same quality of experience as is provided at the other public schools in your district? Or should you be allowed to throw some money and buy up from what the taxpayers are handing you?

Extreme Caterpillar

That logging operation that we noticed last spring next to I-5 in southwest Portland turns out to be a major road construction project in which some serious earth-moving is going to take place on some pretty tricky terrain. Here's hoping for an accident-free next few years through that stretch.

Tri-Met apologizes to Northwest bus riders

The abrupt cancellation of part of the No. 15 bus line in Northwest Portland for safety reasons has drawn this notice of a neighborhood meeting for Thursday evening.

It ain't Klingon

But this solicitation for government translators is sure to provoke some comment.

No wonder D.C.'s getting a streetcar

The mayor takes money that the city collected from the citizenry for one purpose, and uses it for quite another, with a laughable explanation of how the two are connected.

Even Lake O. is in the hole

A heck of a time for them to be talking streetcar.

The latest place Portland wishes it could be like

The Rose City's inferiority complex knows no bounds. To sell their silly pet projects, the politicians and planning types always have some other faraway place we need to be imitating. Barcelona was a Goldschmidt favor. Vancouver, B.C. is a big one. Amsterdam pops up now and then.

Tonight, it's Sydney. Oh, and more Fake New York.

Kitzhaber's triangle: one girlfriend, two companies

The sudden hubbub about an Oregon Department of Justice investigation into a company associated with former Gov. John Kitzhaber's girlfriend has included some serious head-scratching about Kitzhaber's involvement with that firm. Even the ex-gov himself couldn't figure it out. As the O reported last night:

Kitzhaber confirmed he was once on the board of 3EStrategies. When asked if he is still on the board, he said, "I'm not sure if I am or not." A Kitzhaber campaign spokeswoman later said he is no longer on the board.
It's easy to see how there might be confusion, because in recent years there have been not one but two Oregon companies by the name 3E Strategies, and the Kitzmeister's friend of the female persuasion, Cylvia Hayes, has been involved with both of them.

According to the Oregon secretary of state, the first 3E Strategies was an Oregon nonprofit (public benefit) corporation formed in January 2002. Its original name was Earth Connections - Oregon. In July 2003, it changed its name to 3E Strategies, and it kept that name until February 2009, when it changed it again to what it is now -- Green Economy Institute, Inc.

The IRS forms that the nonprofit filed for 2007 and 2008 both show Kitzhaber as a director and Hayes as full-time executive director. The 2008 form wasn't filed with the IRS until Sept. 29, 2009, but the instructions state that people who were directors during 2008 are to be listed. Thus, Kitzhaber was a director of the nonprofit organization for at least some time in 2008. He is also still listed, to this day, as a director of the nonprofit on its website, here. Meanwhile, Hayes is still listed as the nonprofit corporation's registered agent for state corporate law purposes.

On the day the nonprofit changed its name in 2009, a new, for-profit limited liability company, named 3E Strategies LLC, was formed. The Oregon secretary of state summary page about the for-profit company is here. Hayes is listed as a member, but LLCs don't have "directors," per se, and Kitzhaber's name doesn't show up anywhere in the business registry for the for-profit company. The company's tax filings with the IRS are not public. And that's if there even are any IRS filings -- single-member LLCs are typically ignored for federal tax purposes.

It remains to be seen which of the two 3E Strategies entities the attorney general's office is investigating -- the nonprofit corporation, the for-profit LLC, or both. The focus of the inquiry seems to be several consulting contracts that one or more Hayes entities have landed with one or more state agencies, particularly the shadowy Department of Energy. According to the nonprofit's website, the nonprofit did consulting work as far back as 2004:

In 2004, 3EStrategies began providing consulting services on green building, clean energy, sustainable business operations, and economic development projects. The demand for those services grew steadily.

In 2008, believing that making the transition to a post-fossil fuel, low carbon economy, was no longer being hampered by lack awareness or concern, but rather by lack of actual examples of the green economy in action, 3EStrategies decided to become a limited liability company focused directly on policy development and consulting on concrete, successful green buildings, clean energy companies and low carbon footprint businesses.

This last paragraph doesn't appear to be true as a matter of corporate law. The nonprofit did not become a for-profit LLC -- it simply changed its name, and a new LLC with the same name sprang up the same day. But more importantly, there was apparently lots of consulting going on when Kitzhaber was indeed on the board of the only 3E Strategies that existed at the time. And so if the investigation results in any criminal charges being filed, it could be quite damaging for the once-and-(he-hopes)-future governor.

Corporate Bozo Move of the Week

Wow -- talk about dumb.

Monday, August 23, 2010


It's apparently the end of this story, although it could still be this one.

Kroger ready to assassinate Kitzhaber?

Maybe the showdown isn't four years from now, after all. Maybe it's now.

The first to be hurt for a mistake

Here's a sad story involving the WES train down in Tualatin. And of course, "[f]ewer than 15 people were on the train, he said."

A view from outer space

This story makes no sense to me. Is it news? Does it even have a point? From the headline through the rambling prose, I don't get it.

If there is a point, I guess it's this: Fireman Randy and Mayor Creepy have raised the price of their product to the breaking point, and spent a sliver of the bigger pie on marketing to try to convince the customers that they should pay more for the same old threadbare thing.

Speak into my lapel, Grandma

A federal appeals court in New York has struck a blow for people who surreptitiously record in-person conversations with others. This decision, from earlier this month, holds that the federal anti-wiretap law didn't apply to an iPhone taping of a kitchen conversation that was later used in a will contest. Since the person making the recording was a party to the conversation, the court said, he could tape it so long as he was not doing so for the purpose of committing a criminal or tortious act -- and that the act of surreptitious taping was not in itself a crime or tort.

The case is vaguely reminiscent of Portland-area police's attempt to bring anti-wiretapping charges against people who videotaped police officers (with audio) doing various nefarious deeds in the line of duty. As best we can tell, those charges have all been thrown out. But the statute invoked in those cases is an Oregon state law which reads quite a bit differently from the federal law involved in the new case.

Immigration inmates may get bounced from one county jail

A county sheriff in Massachusetts is fussing with the feds over money. As a consequence, federal prisoners held on immigration charges (the kind that the feds and the city are proposing to process in Portland's SoWhat District) may get shipped out of said sheriff's jail.


Knowing our fondness for the Laurelhurst Park duck pond story, a thoughtful reader sends along this blast from Portland's past.

Portland "urban renewal" tax suction: $92.4 million last year

An alert reader points us to this Oregon Department of Revenue document, which shows, among many other facts, how much "urban renewal" schemes around the state wind up draining in property taxes. Table 3.1 (toward the back) reveals that last year, Portland's 11 "urban renewal" districts ate up the property taxes on $3.79 billion in "excess values" -- the amount that property values have risen since the various districts were created. In other words, about $92.4 million in taxes was raked in by the Portland Development Commission. That's up 16.8% from the year before. Then there's another another roughly $14.5 million in special "urban renewal" taxes that show up on all Portlanders' property tax bills, not just those in the favored districts. That's quite a chunk of change for the PDC to play with.

It gets a little murky from there, but as best I can tell, Table 3.2 shows that if the $92.4 million of taxes on the "excess values" had gone where property taxes normally go, $23.2 million would have gone to Multnomah County; $32.6 million would have gone to education; $33.9 million would have gone to the city's general coffers; and $2.7 million would have gone to other public purposes. (For some reason, the state doesn't project where the other $14.5 million from citywide "urban renewal" tax would have gone, but since everybody in the city pays it, surely it would have gone somewhere.)

Now, the proponents of "urban renewal" will be quick to point out that without the streetcars and $20 million parks and free sidewalks and bioswales and totem poles and all the other PDC pork that's been lavished on the condo set, property values in the districts wouldn't have risen as much as they did, and therefore property tax collections would not have been as large. That's true as far as it goes, but the question remains how much the values in those areas would have increased even without "urban renewal." It might not have been the $3.79 billion value increase that we've seen since the districts' start dates, some of which go back several decades, but it would have been an enormous number, and the taxes on that increase would have been available for basic services.

Moreover, while the fans of "urban renewal" like to tout the tax revenue that's generated by government-subsidized gentrification, they don't often 'fess up to the greater ongoing expenses that it necessitates. As property values have increased in places like the Pearl District, so too have the costs of providing public services to those areas.

In both those important senses, then, "urban renewal" has stolen, and continues to steal, from other governmental units and their constituencies -- the poor people that the county serves, and yes, from the schoolchildren. Some "stakeholders," it seems, are more equal than others.

Maybe it's a homeless solidarity thing

A reader complains that as he announced his absurd gun control initiatives last week, Portland's mayor looked like he had slept under a bridge the night before.

TSA: Totally Senseless and Annoying

The folks at the airport security checkpoints do have some strange people among their ranks.

Eric Hemenway is still a really cool guy

About that good Samaritan we praised last week: It turns out, he's got an unsavory past. But if they lock him up now over his hiding from his unpaid fines, well, that doesn't seem right. Surely, there's got to be a creative way to put the whole thing to rest without punishing a supremely good deed.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Underage driver bust doubleheader

The one kid apparently drove all the way from Damascus, Oregon to Chehalis, Washington. The other kid was found with a 44-year-old guy and a 12-pack of beer in the car, in Southeast Portland.

Ewww. Just ewww.

Up where it's springtime

Our friend Doug the Mountain Climber writes:

Here’s a shot from a long hike yesterday (~15 mi, 3,000’ up and down including lots of scrambling) through the lovely alpine lake area called Jefferson Park just north of Mt. Jefferson to Park Ridge 1,000’ above the "Park." Although the generally grey skies meant that the light was mostly flat, I did catch a few moments of sun and clearing. At 7,000’, there are still substantial patches of snow along with "spring" alpine wildflowers. The view to the north shows Mt. Hood in the distance along with smoke behind Ollalie Butte from several wildfires caused by lightning a few days ago. Enjoy!

Play the pro football underdogs for charity?

The time has come to decide whether we're going to play the pro football underdog pool again this year -- the regular season starts on September 9. The pool would operate pretty much the same way it did last year, but this year we'd start with the very first week's regular season action. Players kiss $20 goodbye -- it all goes to charity -- and slug it out, season-long, for glory and the right to designate which charity gets the pot. With enough players, we can have multiple charities benefit, as we did last year.

The object of the game is to pick each week one NFL underdog that's going to win its game outright. Each successful pick wins points for the player equal to the number of points by which that 'dog was predicted by the oddsmakers to lose. The player with the most points at the end of the playoffs is pool champ.

We reflected on the game at its conclusion last season as follows:

Picking 'dogs for NFL upsets is a great diversion. Each week the players root for an upset, without the benefit of the point spread, which keeps things relatively wholesome. And yet the professional oddsmakers' predictions are still relevant, in that they set up the payoff for a correct pick. Some players pile up points slowly and steadily, while others unleash long bombs, at least as the season winds down. And having a skin in the game, however minor, keeps the players' eyes fixed on the Big Daddies more intently than they otherwise might be.
If you're interested, please shoot me an e-mail message so indicating, at this new e-mail address -- which I'm testing out for possible use in the pool.

Hee y'are, getcha Sunday Oregonian

An alert reader points out that Multnomah County Library cardholders now have access to scans of full editions of The Oregonian, for nearly every day from 1861 to 1972. On the library's main page, click "Research," then "Articles," then "The Oregonian Historical Archive," then "Oregonian." Amazing stuff.

Human nature

If you let people do this, they will do this.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Float on, float on

Spotted south of town late today: the Farmers Insurance blimp. Is there a big golf tourney or something in town? Are they here for the Hillsboro air show?

The green police, cont'd

You can almost feel the Portland bureaucrats squirm with delight as they contemplate buying this.

Another New York Times travel piece about Portland

But this time, it's another Portland.

It would be a lot more comprehensible

With all the controversy about redistricting in Oregon, maybe we ought to just switch to this.

Kissing Fireman Randy's ring

I see the boys at Beam feel the love.

A true outsider -- a maverick!

Breaking news: Sen. Ron Wyden (R-N.Y.) really battles those big corporations. He's for the little guy. Some examples:

No public option for health care.

Repeal the federal estate tax.

Slash corporate tax rates...

Hey, he worked for the Gray Panthers 30 years ago. Good enough.

Step right up, folks, for snake oil

Guess who's back in town selling the Lake Oswego streetcar. Yes, it's Matt Brown, the same guy who a few years back sold Portland the ridiculous OHSU aerial tram [rim shot] as part of the push to build the epic-fail SoWhat District. Back then, Brown was on the city payroll; these days, he draws a paycheck from Homer Williams and Dike Dame, the shady masters of condo disaster.

The opponents of the L.O. streetcar should resurrect Brown's track record in Portland and tar and feather him with it. (Not to mention Dike's bank fraud history.) How far our region has fallen that these fellow still roam about at large.

Mayor Creepy acts busy

Now that the gangsters on the east side are engaged in all-out war, Portland's sad mayor sends out a press release and cracks open another cold one. And gee, nobody's impressed.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Endless summer

We're no. 2 (and trying harder)

Oregon comes in near the top of this list, as we all knew it would.

On the other hand, there's this happy fact.

Have a great weekend

Trouble down the valley

It seems as if the municipal government in Lafayette, Oregon is imploding.

Any day now, we're going to get around to this

The final environmental study on the Sellwood Bridge is now ready for our reading pleasure. Meanwhile, go by streetcar!

Try, try again

You would think that after this steaming pile of atrocious blunders, the O wouldn't send the same reporter out on the Kyron Horman case. But no, here she is again today:

[I]nterviews with more than a dozen friends, relatives, former colleagues and neighbors paint a complex and contradictory picture of a woman with immense personal charm who can be both supportive and self-centered.... [N]ot one said they could imagine that a woman who has devoted so much of her life to children could have been involved in his disappearance.
Editors: Please, please, stop embarrassing yourselves.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Another day, another Top 10 list for Portland

This time it's fifth most tattooed U.S. city.

Also, a good place to be a vascular surgeon.

Thumbing their noses at the state constitution

It's amazing that no one is mounting a legal challenge to this.

A government-run bike rental system in Portland?

I am not making this up: Mark Twain called for it, in 1895.

Maybe they should put it next to an abused children's shelter

Here's a guy with no business sticking his nose into other people's problems. He should take care of his own issues, which will probably be around for centuries.

Sam's new magic beans

Portland's next foray into zany economic development schemes is to join with the federal government in essentially selling green cards to wealthy foreigners. Not only do they get to own a piece of a U.S. company, but they get to move here permanently as well. All it takes is dough-re-mi. There's an odor of desperation about the whole thing, but I suppose it can't hurt -- can it?

Word up

Now that the Oregon Historical Society has decided to ask Multnomah County taxpayers to increase their property taxes to pay for the society's operation, suddenly the word "Library" is going to be featured prominently in all its propaganda. Surely some high-priced political consultant has reminded the organization that county voters consistently pass levies for the county's public library -- but I'll bet the polls are showing that a new property tax for a museum isn't such a good bet.

Since when has it been called "the Oregon History Museum and Library"? In 32 years of living around here, I've never heard that phrase -- until now. Heck, the phrase doesn't even appear on the society's own website. How ham-handed can you get?

Stand by for "For the Children," in 3... 2... 1...

Unanswered questions about the Vestas deal

Yesterday's drama over the planned relocation of Vestas's U.S. headquarters to a renovated warehouse in the Pearl District is certainly worth more attention than our initial reaction, which we posted here. As we read around on the proposed deal, several additional angles have come to light.

First, we have this odd assertion by the mayor about the sweetheart interest-free loan that the city is making to the Danish company:

The city will give the company a 15-year, interest-free loan for $8.105 million. The company is expected to repay the loan within five years, Adams said.
What a load! If Vestas really has a 15-year interest-free loan, no legal strings attached, there's no way on this earth that its management is going to pay that money back in a third that time. If they did, they'd be breaching their overarching duties to their shareholders -- to maximize share value. The chance of an early repayment seem to be slim to none.

It's sort of like the mayor's crazy assertion that Portland is the "green capital" of America. How many other mayors in the country are blowing that one out their tubas? Wherever it may be, the center of sustainable moolah ain't the Rose City.

Then there's the whole set of questions that swirl around the details of financing the $66 million "green" renovation project. This story indicates that Gerding Edlen Development, which bought the building in November 2007 for $15 million, is going to be leasing the property to Vestas, and subleasing a small part of it back. Supposedly this is going to "revitalize" the office rental market in town. Really? Vestas and Edlen are going to be vacating quite a bit of office space when they move into their new digs -- how do lateral moves "revitalize" the local market?

But more importantly, what are the terms of the lease between Edlen and Vestas going to be? If Vestas goes broke, who'll be left holding the bag for the giant construction debt? I'll bet you it isn't going to be Edlen. I'll bet the city's in this deal up to its eyeballs, through the Portland Development Commission, and somehow a huge truckload of downside risk is going to wind up on Portland's taxpayers. The devil is no doubt in details that the public has yet to see.

The Spandex mindset

The bike crowd posted an interview yesterday with Paul Higgins, the aggressive cyclist who inspired Tri-Met bus driver Dan Christiansen to write his infamous "Kill this bicyclist!" blog post. After reading the interview, I can see what made Dan as mad as he was. Some highlights (censorship mine):

On traffic signals: "Neither do I recall pulling any other stunts on my way to work, though I may have blown through a light. (I always at least slow down and look and listen. I don't believe that traffic control devices are responsible for my safety on the road, it is my ability to identify and respond to threats and danger that keep me safe.)"

On his riding style: "When making my way through heavy traffic I'm big, aggressive, and loud. I get quite an attitude much of the time. Don't get me wrong, I love riding. I get a thrill out of it. I like knowing that I reached my destination by burning calories instead of gas. I like that my legs and a** are f***ing statuesque."

Higgins later adds: "My goal in life is to just be a good dude, I won't achieve that if I ride like an a**hole. My solution is rational, compassionate response to the people I share the road with, rather than a knee-jerk, fear-based reaction to people I perceive as threats." But from the tone of his comments, it's clear that his idea of being "a good dude," and most other people's, are far apart and will likely never converge.

Pass the Pepcid AC

The United States is pulling its combat troops out of Iraq, all right -- and pretty soon that will leave 2400 State Department employees there, protected by 7000 Blackwater-type rent-a-cops and 1400 armored vehicles.

Good luck.

I actually met a guy last month who's going to be one of those 2400 civilians. He's a heck of a lot braver (or crazier) than I.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Once a Jail Duck...

The concept of learning one's lesson is apparently too much for some of the Eugene scholars.

Terrorism -- hold the pickle

Even if this isn't true, it's funny, and all too plausible. A Portland reader writes:

Someone left a ham sandwich on a MAX train at the airport and the authorities labeled it as a "suspicious device." The German shepherd they had smelling the suspicious device instead ate the suspicious device.

Fireman Randy takes on the anarchists and hipsters

A match made in heaven. Have at it, boys.

Mummy dearest

Over in Japan, some of the "oldest living people on earth" turn out to have been dead for many years.

Just think: In Oregon, they'd still be voting.

Speaking of vote-by-mail, it seems it's not running so smoothly up north of here.

Portland being shot up by gangsters

Seven incidents last night, then this this afternoon.

Taxpayers shell out millions to keep Vestas in Portland

City and state leaders are vigorously patting themselves on the back today upon the news that Danish wind energy equipment maker Vestas is keeping its American headquarters in Portland. The company's not heading to the city's doomed SoWhat District as once promised -- it's moving to the former Meier & Frank "depot" in the Pearl District instead. But at least it's not leaving for Denver, as Portland officials had feared.

According to Portland's often-fact-challenged mayor, the decision means that the city will "retain 400 living wage jobs, put 450 construction workers back to work and pave the way for 100 to 200 new jobs in the next five years." Perhaps. And if so, good.

But the jobs don't come for free. There will be plenty of state and local tax money sloshing around as part of the deal. Jim Redden of the Tribune describes at least some of it:

The company will receive $1.25 million in state tax credits and $1 million from the state’s strategic fund for the project, on the condition that it add at least 100 new workers to its existing 400 employees during the next five years.

The Portland Development Commission will also give the company a 15-year, interest-free loan of $8.105 million for the project.

The benefit of that interest-free loan is huge. Our amateur calculations conclude that at 4% market interest, that's the equivalent of handing Vestas a check for about $2.1 million up front. And so the state and local handout described by Redden comes to around $4.35 million. If Portland gets 100 new jobs out of it, that's $43,500 per job. There may be more taxpayer subsidies as well -- one suspects that at the very least, some sort of property tax giveaway on the property is in the works.

Nor are the new jobs a sure thing. Vestas has been losing money hand over fist lately, its stock price dropped around 20% today, and it's talking about laying off 600 people at its home base in Denmark. But it's going to expand its staff in Portland? We'll see.

Meanwhile, the Usual Suspects from the Portland development gang will be there with their hands out. From the City Hall press release: "The building renovation team is led by Gerding Edlen Development, Inc., in association with GBD Architects, Glumac, KPFF, HHPR, Peter Meijer Architects, Skanska and Ankrom Moisan Architects." Of course, the building will be LEED-platinum, eco-roofed, solar-arrayed, and so on; employees will eat only sprouts grown on the premises and drink out of rain barrels.

The building was reportedly purchased by Gerding Edlen in October 2007 for $15 million. Given the city's track record, one has to wonder whether there will be some sort of land transfer deal whereby Edlen will make a profit on the property despite the real estate downturn over the last three years. It's the Portland way.

In any event, it's a relief that Portland's not losing another business. But the new worry is how much we're all going to pay to keep it here, and whether it is really going to expand as the bureaucrats are predicting amidst the popping of champagne corks today.

In Seattle, it's bikes vs. business

In most cases, these road restrictions have been shown to provide no measurable benefit to the bicyclists and pedestrians that the city administrators purport to champion. Rather, these actions seem to be an arrogant and capricious show of force by a small cabal of elitists intent on imposing their agenda. This agenda comes at the cost of obliterating the maritime and industrial sectors and eliminating the neighborhood-based small businesses that are the background of Seattle’s economy and vital to our social and cultural fabric.

It's ironic that most of those now acting to destroy the maritime-centric jobs and neighborhood dynamics that make Seattle so desirable were first drawn to move here by those very urban attributes they are now intent on eradicating.

The whole thing is here.

A "Bo Burger" to go, with a side of litigation

The state is going after Stanich's Restuarant for alleged wage and hour violations, and the matter has apparently gotten nastier than a waiter who's been stiffed on a tip.

Return of an icon

The Hung Far Low sign, which has been missing from Portland's Old Town for nearly two years, is about to be reinstalled. Far out! low!

Tell me what you see

Sometimes an under-inflated tire is just an under-inflated tire.

SEC going after fraud in muni bond offerings

New Jersey is reportedly the first state government ever to be accused of securities fraud -- but surely not the last. The problem? It had to do with funding the government employees' pensions.

Tri-Met hides ball on local taxes for Milwaukie MAX

"We've got our local tax targets all picked out, but we're not gonna tell you who they are."

Arrogance and stupidity -- so often, they go hand in hand.

No doubt a lot of the money to be poured down the Milwaukie light rail rat hole will be "urban renewal" property taxes -- from Clackamas County for sure, but from South Waterfront and other places as well.

Portland makes yet another Top 10 list

And get this: It's "10 Most Underrated U.S. Cities."

We're no. 8.

Brandon's back -- with a Mustang, no less

A wayward blogger comes back to the fold -- and gets some unexpected help from the Ford Motor Co.

Hold the chicken

The next time this English teacher goes to Starbucks, she needs to bring this guy with her.

Aloha? Oy.

The Hawaiian garbage isn't coming to the Columbia Gorge -- at least, not for now.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Eine kleine Schrunkmusik

Portland's fearless county prosecutor makes a bust heard 'round the world.

Together again: The Don and Edlen

Having bankrupted Portland, it's on to siphon the tax dollars out of Beaverton. Go by streetcar!

State's budget hole gets even deeper

We're up to a billion now. That $250 million in lottery money for the Milwaukie MAX line sure looks tempting, doesn't it?

Gotta get-get

Boom boom boom.

This should make jury duty more interesting

The judges in Oregon are often letting the jurors ask questions that the trial lawyers didn't.

Remember Chernobyl?

We definitely should.

Easier than browsing at Borders

This site, although not at all safe for work, cuts through the clutter and makes picking out a book a snap.

These greens are... well, green

Here's a golf course that's totally organic. But they still use water, I'm assuming.

Moving right along

Oregon Politico's helpful listing of Oregon public employees' salaries and benefits continues, with the latest addition being Metro, Portland's often-spacey regional government. A senior animal keeper at the zoo can make north of $71,000 in salary a year; the guy running the "strategy center" for the Interstate Bridge replacement makes a cool $195,000 plus benefits. They're showing about 40 employees with base salaries of $100,000 or more.

Beware the plastic bottle bomb

No kidding: Before you pick up that discarded bottle in the street or on your sidewalk, consider this story, this story, and this video.

It didn't just disappear

These marine scientists say that nearly 80% of the oil that BP spilled into the Gulf of Mexico is still there.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Next sports team to leave Portland: the Winterhawks

City Hall sure is killing professional sports in this town. Go by streetcar!

This project is a flop -- literally

Have you been following the construction debacle in Salem, with transit and county offices being moved out of a dangerous 10-year-old building on the double, and a transit mall moved away, before the structure falls down? Yikes!

But hey, it was "a 'green' designated building using earth friendly construction materials." A great thing even if it does wind up being demolished.

A jail by any other name is still a "detention facility"

The people who are expressing concern about the proposed new federal immigration detention tank in Portland's troubled SoWhat District are feeling the heat from City Hall and the developer cabal. We caught a nasty comment on this blog from someone working at GBD Architects, which was drawing up the plans for the facility without any scrutiny before the words "detention" and "cell" appeared on this blog and the firestorm began. The plans are still ongoing, but there's a lot more political friction being generated now, and the GBD folks apparently don't like working in sunshine.

The neighborhood association's land use committee is meeting tonight in the shadow of the infernal OHSU aerial tram [rim shot] to talk about the proposed facility. They've reportedly been catching flak from at least one prominent City Council staffer for daring to call the proposed facility a "jail." "It is not a jail!" we all keep being told.

But of course, it is.

Here are some dictionary definitions of "jail":

From Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary: "A building for the confinement of persons held in lawful custody."

From the American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language: "A place for the confinement of persons in lawful detention, especially persons awaiting trial under local jurisdiction."

From Merriam-Webster's Online Dictionary: "A place of confinement for persons held in lawful custody; specifically: such a place under the jurisdiction of a local government (as a county) for the confinement of persons awaiting trial or those convicted of minor crimes — compare prison."

It's clear that the to-be-remodeled building on Macadam can correctly be called a "jail," even though it's going to be run by the federal, rather than a local, government. It's a place where arrested people will be held awaiting their proceedings before a judge. Indeed, there's no better term for it than "jail."

At the very least, the proposed new facility can properly be said to include a "jail." And of course, it's that part of the proposed remodel that is driving its neighbors nuts. The City Hall types and architects can call it whatever they want, but the issue here, plain and simple, is the location of a jail.

From a legal standpoint, the more important point seems to be that the proposed facility will be a "detention facility" within the meaning of the city's planning and zoning code, which defines that term as follows:

33.920.520 Detention Facilities

A. Characteristics. Detention Facilities includes facilities for the judicially required detention or incarceration of people. Inmates and detainees are under 24 hour supervision by peace officers, except when on an approved leave.

B. Accessory Uses. Accessory uses include offices, recreational and health facilities, therapy facilities, maintenance facilities, and hobby and manufacturing activities.

C. Examples. Examples include prisons, jails, probation centers, and juvenile detention homes.

D. Exceptions. Programs that provide care and training or treatment for psychiatric, alcohol, or drug problems, where patients are residents of the program, but where patients are not supervised by peace officers are classified as Group Living. Programs that provide transitional living experience for former offenders, such as halfway houses, where residents are not supervised by peace officers, are also classified as Group Living.

"Detention facilities" aren't allowed, even in commercial zones such as the one on which the proposed facility sits, without "conditional use review," which we're told is a more thorough (and slower) process than the mere "design review" that the promoters of the project are pushing for. (Apparently, the property is owned by the Lindquist Development interests and under lease to the federal immigration authorities.)

Not that the facility couldn't pass muster in a "conditional use" application. It might. But among the criteria for approval is the sticky question of transportation, which is a real sore point in the entire SoWhat District. The proponents have to show that --

The transportation system is capable of supporting the proposed use in addition to the existing uses in the area. Evaluation factors include street capacity, level of service, or other performance measures; access to arterials; connectivity; transit availability; on-street parking impacts; access restrictions; neighborhood impacts; impacts on pedestrian, bicycle, and transit circulation; and safety for all modes...
That will be an interesting bone of contention in this case.

Meanwhile, the big question -- how many inmates the facility would hold -- is becoming slightly less mysterious. We're told by reliable sources that the capacity is to be 100 detainees -- with a projected "average" of 10 to 15 of them present at any given time.

Federal taxes haven't changed in 60 years

Overall collections, that is, as a percentage of gross domestic product.

Corporate income taxes, however, have declined quite a bit while social insurance taxes have increased substantially.

You might be an accountant if...

Or you might want to become one.

[Via TaxProf Blog.]

The crux of the streetcar and light rail problem

Ultimately we need to ask what constitutes transit's primary mission: to carry more people to work or to reshape our metropolitan areas for ever denser development. As opposed to buses, which largely serve those without access to cars, light rail lines are often aimed at middle-class residents who would also be potential buyers of high-density luxury housing. In this sense, light rail constitutes a critical element in an expanded effort to reshape the metropolis in a way preferred by many new urbanists, planners and urban land speculators.

The problem facing these so-called visionaries lies in the evolving nature of the workplace in most parts of the country, where jobs, outside of government employment, are increasingly dispersed. Given these realities, transit agencies should be looking at innovative ways to reach farther to the periphery, in part to provide access to inner-city residents to a wider range of employment options. Considering more than 80% of all commuter trips are between areas outside downtown, priority should be given to more flexible, less costly systems such as rapid commuter bus lines, bus rapid transit, as well as subsidized dial-a-ride and jitney services that can work between suburban centers.

Read the whole thing, here.

$20 loaf of bread gets closer

We're just printing money and handing it out now. We keep minting and stockpiling dollar coins that nobody wants, but pretty soon nobody's going to want our paper currency, either. Stagnation or inflation -- take your pick. (Let's hope we don't wind up with both, as we did in the '70s.)

You can see them from Chuck Wepner's house

Coming soon to the wilds of Bayonne and Jersey City, New Jersey -- and right behind the Statue of Liberty: wind turbines.

Be nice to Intel

Making chips and computer components exporting them to China seems to be the main thing the Portland area is doing these days. Apparently thanks to that industry, Portland is one of just four metropolitan areas in the country that doubled their exports between 2003 and 2008, according to a new study. Exports made up more than 20% of Portland's "gross metropolitan product," the experts say, with more than $1 billion of computer and electronic products leaving for China, in 2008.

Things have slowed down quite a bit since then, of course, but no doubt the region still has a lot of its eggs in that basket.

Winos don't drink Duck Pond merlot

Nor do they sit under Cinzano umbrellas sipping Kendall Jackson zinfandel. But poor people do like to cop a buzz off a 40-ounce malt liquor in the privacy of their own little apartments.

All of these truths have been brought to the fore in connection with the City of Portland's proposed ban on sales of certain types of alcoholic beverages in the downtown core.

To us, it's not clear why such a ban, if enacted, should be limited to downtown. Certainly the same beverages have been known to cause problems in many east side neighborhoods as well.

Don't worry, hipsters: Microbrews will be exempt. As one of our readers explained it, you will still be permitted to get drunk and act like a fool if you have money.

Don't kill the ref! Not this one, anyway.

Our friend Paul Hamann is back to blogging about his world as a part-time sports referee -- only now for the first time he's identifying himself in the posts on his site, Illegal Screen. Here's one of his first entries in his new digs.

Interestingly, Hamann's also going to keep writing about games he actually referees, but under password protection, so that only people he trusts can read those entries. It ought to be interesting to see how that experiment works out.

Phone support only

A real entry on Craigslist, until it expired early this morning: "Vindictive Cat free to home (portland)."

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Norma for Neil? Guess not.

Here's a funny one. They're holding a speakers' panel with three current and former Oregon governors: Kulongoski, Roberts, and Atiyeh. Apparently at one point they had former Secretary of State Norma Paulus scheduled as some sort of stand-in for Neil Goldschmidt, who as an admitted statutory rapist is no longer safe for public viewing. But now Paulus, whom Neil despised, has been yanked from the program.

Also curious, of course, is the absence of Kitzhaber.

Space oddity

While out in the back yard looking up for meteors early Friday morning (circa 4:15 a.m.), I spied an interesting object low in the western sky. It was moving north to south, and as it passed due west, for a second or two it gave off a bright white light, which then faded to nearly nothing as it continued southbound. I could have sworn I saw it go by along the same path, and do it again with the light, about 5 to 10 minutes later.

As best I can tell, it wasn't the space station, although the way the light came on and off it looked as if it were the sun being reflected off the bottom of the satellite. Anybody have any idea what the heck I was seeing? Or was I just having one of my spells?

Tales of retired warriors

One east of town, one south.

Craig Hemengway

... is a really cool guy.

Saturday, August 14, 2010


Nothing says delicious and healthy like Roundup-resistant beets.

Nothing succeeds like failure

The O joins the "urban renewal" p.r. effort with a silly piece trying as hard as it can to put a positive spin on an unmitigated disaster: the Beaverton Round.

Another idea for those ugly cell towers

Rather than dress them up to look like trees or smokestacks, how about something like this?

Tri-Met driver reportedly punched in face after hitting cyclist

According to this report, the driver, a man, was hit by "a pedestrian" -- not the injured biker, who was on the ground and had to be carried off.

We heard a rumor to a similar effect after the April 24 Tri-Met accident in which another errant left turn by a bus hit five pedestrians, killing two of them. Word was that one of the men on the scene badly beat the female driver who hit the group with her bus. We never saw anything in the media about those reports of retaliation, however; it might have been just a rumor.

Getting back to the other night, it seems to us that there's a bit of an open war now going on between Portland's cyclists and its bus drivers. Life in the multi-modal mecca, it seems, comes replete with a lot of hard feelings.

Portland property tax increase votes piling up

The latest one would be a new tax for the Oregon Historical Society -- to go before voters this fall along with the proposed property tax increases for the fire bureau and Tri-Met. Multnomah County commissioners vote Thursday on whether to put the historical society measure on the November ballot.

Add a couple more tax increases to the mix, and they might all go down together. But then again, this is Portland, where voters are usually pretty easy.

Another computer security worry

When you're on a commercial website, does that little lock icon at the bottom of your web browser make you feel more secure? Maybe it shouldn't.

Ansel Adams, or Uncle Earl?

A fairytale-come-true that maybe didn't.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Have a great weekend

Moyer tower project is deader than ever

It's official: The "anchor" law firm tenant has walked.

The Curse of the Virginia Cafe lives on. And more fine economic development under the Adams administration [rim shot].

There's still time left for this idea. Meanwhile, has a date been set for this trial?

Forget the tuppence

To feed the birds in Cannon Beach may soon cost you 500 bucks.

Movie time

The current edition of Northwest Examiner is here.

OMG! Tri-Met director actually asking questions!

One of the two newbies on the Tri-Met board of directors -- Steve Clark, president of the Portland Tribune -- has been turning heads in just a few meetings on the transit board. Unlike previous directors, who have gone along with everything the Tri-Met managers wanted to do, no questions asked, Clark is, amazingly, raising some issues. And even foiling some of management's cramdown tactics!

The latest such move came at this week's board meeting, where Clark convinced his fellow board members not to give management a blank check to buy property for the proposed Milwaukie light rail line before they even told the board how much it was going to cost. One of the foes of the new MAX train, who was at the session, tells it this way:

The real news was the... action they took to NOT approve the purchase of a key piece of property needed for Milwaukie... at 2040 SW First Ave. [in Portland]. It was rather comical -- the staff report said that the property was worth more than $500,000, and therefore required board approval; but it didn’t say what the actual price of the transaction would be. I pointed out that the board was being asked to approve a transaction without even knowing how much it would cost, so they couldn’t possibly approve it. Steve Clark brought that up, and no one from the TM brain trust even knew the assessed value; they knew the appraised value but said they couldn’t reveal that in public due to pending negotiations. Of course, this is all on portlandmaps.com anyway; market value is $2.7 million and assessed value is $2.1 million.

I also pointed out that TM has no known financing plan for the entire project at this point, so why buy the property now? Clark made the motion to defer a decision until November and the board approved 5-0. [Tri-Met general manager Neil] McFarlane just about choked on that one and pleaded to be allowed to bring it back earlier "if needed." Their chance of pouring concrete in the river next June for the new bridge is slipping away, and the longer it gets delayed the less likely it will ever get built.

If Clark keeps asking questions and demanding accountability, he'll be making Tri-Met history. Governor Ted, who's previously named one patsy after another to the Tri-Met board, may eventually look back on this particular appointment as his own David Souter. Way to go, Steve Clark.

Posting anonymously?

Maybe. It appears that even the ACLU may have to give up your identity. For the record, yours truly won't go to jail to keep it secret.

Big day for the original Dream Team

Fifty years ago, they were all college guys. But oh, what a team it was.

Keepin' it weird

The old Mallory Hotel in Portland has sure changed since it's been remade into the Hotel Deluxe. Would you believe doggie psychics?

Thursday, August 12, 2010


Portland photographer David Bliss was on the scene of this evening's unfortunate meeting of a Tri-Met bus and a bicyclist on the transit mall in the heart of downtown:

UPDATE. 11:27 p.m.: It appears it might have been another bad-news left turn, in this case off Sixth and onto Morrison:

All right!

Big news at 22nd and Broadway -- walking distance from our place:

Planning rout in Tualatin continues

Another victory for neighbors and taxpayers who have had enough.

Alas and alack

There's no Portland Pie-Off this year.

Cheap thrills with rosé

I rarely set foot in a Trader Joe's -- the joke around our house is that I think it's a chick thing -- but the Mrs. stops in there from time to time. And she's always looking out for my best interests. Knowing my fondness for wine, lately she's brought home a couple of fine, inexpensive rosés, pretty nice for the end of a hot (or even not-so-hot) summer day.

One is a rosé version of Portugal's slightly fizzy vinho verde, put out under the label Casal Garcia. I think this one ran about $8. The other is a calmer rosé with a goat on the label; it's called La Ferme Julien and it carries a 2008 vintage. I believe it's $6.

At those prices, you can't go wrong if the wine is decent, and these two go beyond that. Salud.

Memo to Port of Portland: Globalization is tanking

Rather than paving over bald eagle habitat on Hayden Island for another useless shipping terminal, why don't you guys just admit that the Port is never going to be a big deal, and lay off some of the people you have sitting around spending money? Maybe Bragdon could get some of them jobs in New York.

Kitzhaber and the old boys: The beat goes on

Oregon gubernatorial retread wannabe John Kitzhaber draws ever closer to the remnants of the old Goldschmidt empire with his hiring of Patrica McCaig as his new campaign manager, which signals that she would likely receive a plum position in any Kitz II administration. McCaig, former Metro council member, worked for many years for the now-disgraced Sir Neil G. when he was the public boss of the state's politics -- including political work she did on his ill-fated South Park Blocks scam, which died on the vine when his statutory rape problem surfaced in 2004. Her husband is Tom Walsh, the construction company owner, beneficiary of state and local tax pork, former Tri-Met general manager, and director of the company that Goldschmidt had dummied up when he was trying to take over Portland General Electric.

It doesn't get any more "old boy" than that.

Too bad for Oregon voters. Our choice for the governor's mansion this fall is going to be between (1) a Democrat who will continue to pump tax dollars to Milwaukie light rail and other boondoggles ordered up by the construction companies and unions, and (2) a Republican whose ideas, if he ever reveals any, will no doubt center on irresponsible tax cuts for the right-wing version of the very same type of fat cats. Average residents, abandon hope.

Eugene gets it right

They're ripping out parking meters downtown.

Good thing they don't have wasteful streetcar lines to pay for, or they couldn't do that.

Reader polls: the Kyron case

There hasn't been any substantial news in the Kyron Horman disappearance case in a long time, despite daily media postings of ever-diminishing content. With not much new to talk about, perhaps it's time to ask readers where they think things stand:

Is Kyron Horman alive?
pollcode.com free polls

When will an arrest be made in Kyron Horman case?
This month
October to December
Next year
pollcode.com free polls

War over "urban renewal" is definitely on

Yesterday we spotlighted the bureaucrat and developer interests foisting "urban renewal" on Portland's suburbs. Here are the have-nots.

Needless toys bought -- time to raise taxes for basic services

Now that Tri-Met has blown every available dollar on streetcars and light rail, it suddenly needs you to increase your property taxes so that it can buy new buses. Apparently, someone just noticed that the old ones are falling apart.

It's hard to believe how stupid they think the voting public is. As long as they're talking about blowing a billion and change on a train to Milwaukie, and talking up a lunatic streetcar to Lake Oswego, the only sane way to vote is no, no, a thousand times no. A complete nonstarter.

Right around the corner, via the Big Apple

There was a nice story in Sunday's New York Times about the shadowy, controversial deal that's brewing between Google and Verizon, and how it may or may not jeopardize net neutrality. And lo and behold, its author is from right here in Portland. Robert X. Cringely -- is that a real name? Anyway, he also has blogs, and one of them is here.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Not what you want to see

Earthquakes of an odd type, somehow tied to the Cascadia subduction zone. Scientists don't have a good explanation. Let's hope these tremors turn out to reduce, not increase, danger.

No gunfire? Good enough.

A lovely family outing to the Lloyd Center shopping mall this evening. Oh but kids, don't mind that woman in the next car in the parking lot -- the Lexus with Arizona plates -- performing fellatio on the middle-aged white guy. It's all part of the scene at Lloyd. Best place in town to go for certain things.

A change is gonna come

Here's an important alert to all Portland-area residents who have been complaining that this summer has been unseasonably cool: Please prepare to change gears this weekend, when you can once again complain that it's too hot.

Another trendy magazine hits Portland

The town has become a bit of an elephant graveyard for that particular form of communication.

You've been sued!

And it's for something you haven't even done yet.

No, it isn't worth it

Hard to know what to make of this story. It's an obvious puff piece on Portland city commissioner Amanda Fritz. But WW is trying to spin out a tale that the upcoming vote on Portland's "voter-owned elections" system (which it will no doubt endorse) is somehow a referendum on Fritz, who has had not one but two campaigns paid for by the city's taxpayers.

To us, it's a referendum not only on Fritz, but also on John Branam, Jesse Cornett, Chris Smith, Jim Middaugh, Jeff Bissonnette, Charles Lewis, Erik Sten, and of course Emilie Boyles, who together with Fritz have eaten through around $2 million of tax dollars on mostly throwaway campaigns while schools rot, police precincts close, and streets decay. "Clean money" is also an elaborate incumbent protection system, effectively insuring that no challenger will ever be able to outspend an incumbent (which is the only way to beat one). And it greatly favors union-backed candidates, who can get their hundreds of "seed money" contributions with a single phone call to union local headquarters.

About the only good argument we've heard so far for "voter-owned elections" is that Fireman Randy's against it.

Having a bad spell

This photo is generating a lot of e-mail.

Portland gets great rates on huge sewer bond borrowing

Apparently, the city's IOU gurus timed things well. The city's quite deft at racking up long-term debt; with this borrowing, Portland will be in hock in excess of $3.3 billion on long-term bonds and "interim" financing outstanding. We'll see -- and our kids will see -- how the city does at paying it off down the road.

UPDATE, 5:42 p.m.: Once again, the purchaser was Bank of America, and the true interest cost was 3.8586%. The 9½-year bonds will yield 2.69%; the 19½-year, 3.75%; and the 24½-year, 4.00%. Details here.

Bragdon's leaving Metro

He's taking a gig in New York City, according to the O.

Wow. Now the Goldschmidt crew will need a new ally in the Metro president job (for the next four months).

Ted Kulongoski? Bernie Giusto?

Selling "urban renewal," by the pound

The push by the developer-construction-contractor Mafia to bring Portland-style "urban renewal" schemes to the suburbs is showing the makings of an all-out war. Chastened by the recent rejection of "urban renewal" by the City of Tualatin, the proponents of "tax increment financing" and other budget-busting devices to build tacky apartments and pointless trains are girding up for real battle in places like Beaverton and Clackamas County.

Yesterday we had the chief operating officer of Metro make a curious announcement touting the advantages of "urban renewal" pork pots, and vaguely threatening disaster if localities didn't have them at the ready for the next developer wet dream. Today we discover that the commissioners in Clackamas County have hired a $50,000 political consultant to create a sales package for "urban renewal," to be taken to the county's residents.

The contract, between the county commissioners and a Portland public relations operative named Leslie Hildula, is here. In it, she agrees to create a "public information plan" entitled "Investing in Our Neighborhoods," which will "create an overall look and theme, i.e. a 'brand'... that inspires confidence, [p]ortraying efficiency, effectiveness and community understanding." "Investing" is the new word for "diverting tax dollars to developers" -- eerily, the same language was all over yesterday's greasy press materials issued by Metro.

The Clackamas contract with Hildula gets quite specific. It sets out a list of deliverables, and the price for each:

Brochure for distribution at public meetings (price does not include translation into Spanish)$2,850
Flyers about specific urban renewal areas$1,500, or 2 for $2,500
Survey through Survey Monkey$1,800
Update website (new photos and videos extra)$500 per month
Create Facebook account for "Planning Clackamas," modeled after "Planning Cleveland"$1,050, plus $125 a week for updates
Meeting planning and "facilitating"$125 to $200 an hour
Open houses$2,200 each

The county also signs up to pay Hildula $500 a week for "community relations" work on the existing Sunnybrook Boulevard and Harmony Road projects.

Hildula is an experienced government p.r. flack. She recently left a gig at Tri-Met, where she sold the MAX green line, and before that worked public relations for Opus NW on the dopey Burnside Bridgehead deal in Portland, when she was employed by a national outfit called Zetlin Strategic. She also apparently has been involved in promoting the Lake Oswego streetcar line. Until recently, she additionally served as volunteer chair of the "citizens commission" that rides herd over Portland's quixotic "voter-owned elections" system -- including sterling leadership during the many months of the Emilie Boyles ordeal. At least at one time, Hildula was an officer of the Forest Park Neighborhood Association out toward Kyronland. Apparently she sat knee-to-knee with Amanda Fritz at west side neighborhood shindigs for a while.

What is it she will be selling for Clackamas County?

For those of us who haven't been following matters down there too closely, we learn that County Chair Lynn Peterson and crew have grand plans to replicate Portland's "urban renewal" scams on a large scale along McLoughlin Boulevard. Not only will this divert local property taxes to pay for the insane light rail train being proposed to run between Milwaukie and Portland, but it will also include "mixed-use" development (translation: ugly apartments and Subway sandwich joints) all the way down Route 99E to Jennings Lodge:

To get this done, the voters down that way are going to have to sign up for "tax increment financing," which diverts all property tax increases in the area for the foreseeable future out to building infrastructure for apartments and giving away real estate to developers. With property tax revenues for basic services frozen, those services are inevitably cut as the cost of delivering them rises. It's an awful tradeoff, and one that has not worked in places like the South Waterfront district in Portland. Given the recent defeat of such a plan in Tualatin -- a defeat that was sealed by local firefighters' objections to a frozen budget -- Clackamas County is going to have a hard time getting this past a flat-broke public.

But it's going to have Leslie Hildula out front giving it the old college try.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Take it from east siders: The couplet stinks

I would like to extend my very strong support to the Better Burnside Alliance in their efforts to stop the West Burnside-Couch Couplet....

Data clearly shows that one way streets do not work. In fact, earlier this summer, a walkability audit was done in our neighborhood, Powellhurst-Gilbert, with proactive support from the City of Portland, as well as two other locations in the Metro area. National experts facilitating the audits and discussion repeatedly mentioned that installing one way streets was the absolute wrong thing to do for any urban environment.

As for the streets, NW Couch in particular would be a dream come true for any neighborhood in this city. A beautiful pedestrian friendly and vibrant street clearly connected to the surrounding community. I find it particularly hard to fathom the possible destruction of such a vibrant and robust and existing facility, especially when my neighborhood struggles with just trying to get contiguous sidewalks installed on all of our main thoroughfares.

The whole thing is here.

What they like about Sam the Tram

Portland's bizarre mayor knows how to do as he's told. Now David Bragdon of Metro, a key player in the old boy network, is publicly in love with Sam over the latter's impressive leadership on the Interstate 5 bridge deal. Oh yeah, things are going swimmingly:

[O]ther questions facing the project... include whether the current proposed design is workable. It calls for enclosing a light rail line, bicycle path and pedestrian walkway in a open-sided box beneath the motor vehicle lanes. Panel Chairman Tom Warne called the design unique, saying no such bridge of this length has ever been built before. Warne, a civil engineer, said more study and testing must be done to prove the design will work.
We're talking remarkable progress here, aren't we, with only $100 million spent so far?

Anyway, the old boys all love the Tramster when he's so easy. Handing over Hayden Island for a serious paving job at the hands of the other network cabal, running the Port of Portland, is doubtlessly part of the deal that has earned the mayor his latest gold star from the Arlington Club set. I remember when the Beau Breedlove scandal blew and they stood behind him in the City Hall lobby. Many Neilies were there, protecting their fragile investment.

The Bragdon-Adams love fest is eerily reminiscent of Fireman Randy's glowing testimonial to the mayor when Sam ditched the police chief and installed Randy's pick, Mike Reese, in the job back in May. "Skilled leadership," when you do what Randy wants.

Merge the Ports of Portland and the 'Couv?

Here's an idea that makes a lot of sense:

I say let West Hayden Island stay a natural area, and instead merge the Port of Portland and the Port of Vancouver into one regional body. After all, it's silly to expand Portland's industrial acreage into a natural deemed important to wildlife and the environment when the city across the river in Washington has that amount of land and more.

As enumerated in Scott Learn's Oregonian article, the Vancouver port has about 350 acres available for new terminals in its Columbia Gateway project. The Port of Portland says West Hayden Island, which it owns, is the only place it can develop large new terminals, and the 300-acre footprint is the smallest it can go. Aren't these guys and gals talking to each other at all? You have one river separating the two cities, and then you have one calling for cutting trees and laying concrete when the exact thing that's needed is available with people eager to develop it just across the water?

Now, just figure out a way that the West Hills overlords can get richer by going along with this, and you've got a done deal.

Metro chief: Area needs more public boondoggles

It seems the Arlington Club boys are mighty upset that there aren't enough construction cranes up around Portland burning taxpayer money building things that nobody wants or needs. Today one of their puppets, the main manager of Metro, shot out a series of documents warning that cities and counties had better shape up and keep throwing money at development scams through "urban renewal" and similar budget-busting schemes. The accompanying press release whines:

The recommendations call for cities, counties, Metro and businesses throughout the region to tackle looming financing gaps and inefficiencies that slow progress and increase costs. They also call for new state rules that would improve the efficiency and effectiveness of local investments.

According to the recommendations, when taxpayers invest in public structures and public systems it demonstrates a commitment that gives businesses the confidence to make long-term investments in their communities. The Community Investment Strategy seeks to leverage public and private investments to make the most of existing money.

Recently, the region missed opportunities to earn federal investments for important projects because local cities and counties could not guarantee matching funds and were not adequately prepared to begin projects quickly. To ensure similar opportunities are not missed in the future, the recommendations stress the importance of cooperation among cities, counties, service districts and the private sector. "We will do better competing for federal and state investments if we come up with a predictable source of match money within the region," Jordan said.

Yeah, let's bankrupt every local government entity in the region and let our kids figure it out. Maybe Rex Burkholder can take them on a bike ride.

The Portland region needs land use coordination and somebody to run the zoo. But other than that, Metro has become a pork barrel and a font of odd ideas. Go by streetcar!

The face of Portlandia

Another Rose City resident gets her photo in The New York Times. God love her.

Another major triumph at Portland City Hall

A second public toilet! And less than two years after the first one opened. Amazing. Congratulations to everybody involved.

I hear that next they're going to start up the planning process for a box of Band-Aids at the reception desk in the Portland Building.

A little well water with your Bull Run

The City of Portland started mixing groundwater from out past the airport Costco in with water from the Bull Run reservoir yesterday. It says it will be doing so for the next 10 days or so, as part of required maintenance of the city's well system.

Some folks say they can taste the difference when the city switches on the wells. We can't honestly say that we can.

More bureaucrat salaries to gawk at

The troublemakers at Oregon Politico are at it again. We blogged a while back about their publication of the salaries and benefit amounts of all of the Multnomah County employees in a searchable online database -- a gutsy step toward government transparency. Now they've done the same with the State of Oregon payroll.

Alas, there are the inevitable loopholes. The university system isn't included, at least not yet, and even when it is, there will probably be some dodges involving "private" charitable organizations paying some of the top dogs' salaries. OHSU isn't in there, either, nor is the lottery commission.

The big money on the new state list goes to prison doctors, the two main human resources dudes, and the Masters of the Universe who invest the state's money under Treasurer Ted Wheeler. While Ted pulls down a big $72,000 salary, his top investment officer, Ronald Schmitz, cha-chings in at $265,512. Plus benefits, of course, putting Schmitz's total compensation for the year at $318,265. Who does he think he is, the Duck basketball coach?

Anyway, by our unofficial count, there are 880 state employees on the list whose annualized base salary exceeds $100,000; 12 of those in excess of $200,000. All well deserved, no doubt.

You can still get a plastic bag at Fred Meyer -- for a dime

Last evening we had our first checkout from a Portland Fred Meyer store at which we weren't offered plastic bags for our groceries. (Actually, we had brought our own bags, and so we didn't need the brown paper bags they were using, either.) But just before we got to the checkout counter, we noticed a new rack on which hung plastic shopping bags that customers could purchase for 10 cents each. They were sturdier than the free plastic bags that used to come routinely with the groceries, and they had handles made of the same plastic as the bag itself, which made the suggestion of reusing them at least somewhat realistic. But make no mistake -- they were plastic bags.

A sign at the front door was soliciting online comments from customers on the new bag policy. It certainly will be interesting to see how the whole thing comes out.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Take this job and... woo-hoo!

What a way to go out.

Make up your own joke

The latest news about the insanely wasteful east side streetcar will no doubt prove inspirational.

More on the Salem condo stinker

The Daily Journal of Commerce takes a look at the "urban renewal" boondoggle that we blogged about last week. You talk about good money after bad -- the least they could do is draw up an eco-roof.

Ouch! They're starting to call SoWhat "the projects"!

An informed reader writes:

This is pretty good. Just talked to someone today who told me that among themselves local real estate agents are starting to speak of the South Waterfront development as "the projects." They can't sell anything down there, and as far as they can see its destiny is clear. Maybe the neighborhood jail isn't such a bad idea after all.
Wow. For those of you who are not familiar with the terminology, "the projects" is what they call multi-unit public housing complexes back east -- including many of the scariest dwelling places in the country.

Laurelhurst Park duck pond is drained dry

A reader writes:

I was at a concert in the park Sunday and walked over to the pond. The fence they put up is now surrounded by another, higher fence. The pond was drained, and some people I spoke with said that they were surprised at how fast it drained -- how shallow the pond was. I wouldn't be surprised if the bill for clearing the sediment, based on the depth they expected, will end up being much higher.
I suspect there will be other surprises as well.

Meanwhile, there's been no word on whether anyone's going to take us up on the question we raised on Saturday: Could the 2003 dog deaths in the park have been caused by the pond's toxic algae?

Anatomy of a crime

Why wasn't Portland police officer Christopher Humphreys charged with a crime in connection with the killing of James Chasse? Over the weekend, we learned from Maxine Bernstein at the O:

A Portland police training review of James P. Chasse Jr.'s 2006 death in police custody found Officer Christopher Humphreys never should have chased the 42-year-old man or knocked him to the ground because there was no evidence he committed a crime or was a danger to himself or others.
If you kill someone without justification, and in violation of the standards of care in your dangerous occupation, how can that not be a crime?

And yet Humphreys's commander headed off any finding of wrongdoing along those lines:

The documents, though, reveal the officers' supervisor dismissed much of the 22-page analysis by the Portland Police Bureau's Training Division. Then-Transit Division Cmdr. Donna Henderson [below] wrote up her own review in defense of her officers' actions. Her memo "apparently trumped" the training analysis before a Use of Force Review Board evaluating the officers' actions, city-hired consultants reported.

Although Henderson wrote that she agreed it would be "egregious" to knock someone to the ground simply because he was urinating, she said she was convinced Humphreys believed that Chasse was involved in something more. She wrote that Humphreys reasonably believed a crime was committed, citing "indecent exposure," and because of Chasse's unusual behavior, thought he was either drunk or on drugs....

Consultant Michael Gennaco also pointed out that internal affairs investigators learned of a different culture among officers in the Transit Division and concerns about lax supervision but were told by command staff "not to go there."

Few things are worse than out-of-control, brutal police officers -- but people who cover up for them surely are. And get this -- according to Bernstein, former Commander Henderson is now on the board of directors of Cascadia Behavioral Healthcare! God rest James Chasse, and God help Portland.

Name the SoWhat immigration detainee tank

Portland's a great town for its processes in naming public facilities. And so we might as well start thinking about what to call the new federal immigration agency complex about to be installed in the already troubled SoWhat district. It's going to be a place where an undisclosed number of federal detainees sit behind bars awaiting deportation hearings -- but we're not supposed to call it a "jail" because the people in handcuffs won't be there for more than 12 hours at a time, supposedly. The heavy armed-guard presence and double fence might send a different message, however.

Anyway, what should the place be called? And just to get the low-hanging fruit out of the way, we've already got enough stuff in Portland named after César Chávez. In keeping with the federal criminal justice aspect of the place, and the notorious location, the Dike Dame Federal Holding Facility might have a nice ring.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

And the hits just keep on comin'

On a sunny afternoon, in the summertime


Sign up now, see the world

Portland's own Wackenhut security outfit is starting up an elaborate fire department in Iraq.

They don't call it Providence bridge pedal for nothing

Several painful spills sent at least a couple of riders to the hospital this morning. All sorts of first-hand reports here. It was fun, apparently, if you didn't wind up in an ambulance.

The system worked

For 36 years now, I've felt that today should be a national holiday.

Head rolls for iPhone antenna screwup

The fired exec held his paycheck in his left hand, and it didn't work.

Four plates, three pairs of shoes, and two pots

That's the formula for happiness for one Portland couple.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Through Hanford on a kayak, Part 2

A little further downstream from the first installment.

What's it all about? Algae.

This week's news that toxic blue-green algae has been detected in an irrigation reservoir near Madras brings our attention back to the duck pond at Laurelhurst Park in Northeast Portland. The same type of algae has been detected in the Laurelhurst pond, which as readers know is about to be dredged and the unwanted muck trucked to the Cully neighborhood for dumping at that neighborhood's "future park" site.

Remember back in 2003, when more than a dozen dogs died after playing in Laurelhurst Park? The police had a suspect and said they thought he had fed the dogs poison sausages. At least some of the dogs had the restricted herbicide paraquat in their systems. But the suspect was never charged; the cops couldn't make out a decent case against him. Nor were any poison sausages ever found, although some of the victims' owners said the dogs had eaten something that looked like pepperoni in the park before they perished.

Could the algae have had something to do with the dogs' deaths? It turns out, that stuff can be deadly to canines if they swallow it. As we recall, it wasn't even discussed back when the dogs died. Algae has been an aesthetic problem in the Laurelhurst pond for decades, but as best we can tell, it wasn't until 2006, when some Sunnyside School students tested the water, that the toxic species of algae was discovered to be present.

The dog poisonings, officially unsolved for more than seven years, left a scar among dog lovers and park users across Portland. If the algae theory hasn't been thoroughly checked out, maybe it should be. Whaddya say, Commissioner Fish?

Boondoggles dying on the vine

It appears the federal government has come to its senses and is longer talking about planting an eco-wall up the side of its soon-to-be-renovated Green-Wyatt Building in downtown Portland.

Meanwhile, down in Tualatin, the demise of "urban renewal" means that the plug has been pulled on a Quasimodo memorial.

But don't worry, folks. There's plenty more weirdness where that came from.

How many inmates will SoWhat immigration jail hold?

Funny thing -- nobody wants to say.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Have a great weekend

Big perp walk on tap at the Multnomah County Courthouse?

Isaac thinks there might be.

"100 times better" than the central Oregon economy

Fort Collins, Colorado, that is, according to these recent transplants.

The 'Couv will vote on light rail next year

If the vote is favorable, light rail will be built across the Columbia!

And if the vote is unfavorable... er... well... um.... we'll cross that bridge when we get to it.

How many bureaucrats does it take to design a streetcar?

Let's see... The feds give the grants to Tri-Met... Tri-Met pays the money to the City of Portland... The City of Portland pays it to Mike Powell's streetcar nonprofit... The nonprofit pays it to Shiels Obletz as "project manager"... Shiels pays it to the engineering company that actually does the design.

Got it.

Oh yeah, and when the cash flow gets screwed up and the contracts need to be amended, it's always an "emergency."


You can't have it!

Bikes crowd out buses down under.

More on the immigration cells coming to SoWhat

KGW does a nice job fleshing out the story that was getting zero attention before we covered it here on Wednesday:

Sky's the limit when burning public money

This story reveals that the Port of Portland's new Shangri-la headquarters out at the airport cost $425 a square foot to build. And they're shooting for $420 a square foot for the new City of Portland-PSU "sustainability center" downtown, but more realistic estimates are probably $500 per square foot or higher.

Does that airline pilot smell like booze?

Don't say anything if you want to get home today.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Gotta hand it to Google

The robot they use to pick ads to place on this website has quite the sense of humor:

What's in your wallet?

Chances are, it's obsolete.

Vera Katz's dream fulfilled

Yes, Portland's SoWhat District is just like New York! Both fell for the "creative class" snow job and signed up for fiscal disaster:

A working-class neighborhood became a bohemian theme park, which in turn became a fantasyland for luxury-condo developers. Now, littered with half-built shells of a vanished boom, Williamsburg is looking like something else entirely: Miami.
The whole tale, painfully familiar to Portland taxpayers, is here.

Portland on its knees before the bankers

The big one is here -- the biggest borrowing the City of Portland has gone out for in many a moon. $412 million in one shot -- all for the sewer system. Some of the money won't be paid back for 25 years.

We've pried the sales document for these bonds out of the city, and posted it here. The sale is supposed to go down next Tuesday.

Those of you who like to crow about the city's supposed AAA credit rating will note that the ratings on this huge bond issue are Aa3 (Moody's) and AA (Standard & Poor's). It will be interesting to see what the interest rates will be on these puppies. Even at 3%, the interest on $412,000,000 is $12,360,000 a year.

Renting a car in Portland? Start in the 'burbs.

An alert reader writes:

The research shows that the U.S. cities where travelers incur the lowest total tax burden in central city locations, factoring in general sales taxes and discriminatory travel taxes, are:

* 1. Fort Lauderdale, FL
* 2. Fort Myers, FL
* 3. Portland, OR


The cities that impose the highest discriminatory travel taxes on travelers are:

* 1. Portland, OR

Last week my sister and her family rented two full-size cars in nearby Clackamas County and saved over $100 per car... purely taxes... for one week. Car rental taxes at PDX are around 17%, I believe (including Port and Multnomah County taxes, etc.).

While I had to pick them up and drive them down I-205 to get their cars, they could return the cars to PDX when their trip was complete Note: High car rental taxes are calculated where cars originate, i.e., where the contract is written.

I'm thinking I could offer a shuttle service to Clackamas for $25 per head and save travelers tons! Those that travel without babies/ small kids: I tell them to take the Red Line MAX train to Beaverton and rent a car there. Washington County has 0% car rental tax! (And return it to PDX and at end of trip, of course!)

Ah, but Washington County doesn't have a Convention Center or a minor league baseball stadium with luxury boxes to pay for, as Portland does. Go by streetcar!

By popular demand

Many readers have e-mailed me about the little girl whose lemonade stand was shut down by Multnomah County health officials because she didn't have a permit. The mainstream media has been all over the story, and I'm not sure what I can add to the numerous comments that have been left elsewhere.

I'll try, though. First of all, this stand was not in front of the girl's house. It was at the notorious Last Thursday drunkfest up on Northeast Alberta Street, which definitely needs policing, on several levels. I'm glad there are county health inspectors there. Second, the girl does not live in that neighborhood -- she and her mom drove up from Oregon City, which is a long way to go to sell kiddie lemonade. Maybe they should have stayed closer to home.

Condo monkey business continues to spread

We've seen the "urban renewal" vultures head out of Portland for places like Beaverton, Lake Oswego, Tualatin, and Milwaukie. They've also arrived in the City of Salem.

Public money for private apartments is bad, bad practice, as the taxpayers in all these little burgs are about to find out the hard way. At some point, it's also illegal under the state constitution, Article XI, section 9 of which states: "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."

Guess who's killing net neutrality

Yep -- Google.

Those guys have gotten waaaaaaayy too big for comfort.

Port of Portland deliberately contaminating West Hayden Island

And their greasy friends at the state DEQ are playing right along. Screw the bald eagles -- the Goldschmidt boys smell money.

Meanwhile, in addition to Isaac Laquedem's excellent piece of the other day regarding Multnomah County's role in the West Hayden Island saga -- and the connection to the new interstate bridge project -- a reader sends along some additional fuel for thought:

Most people miss the point of the business community about West Hayden Island. Metro has carried the whole 800+ acres on the books as entirely open for industrial or employment development. (This kind of use never gets urban renewal subsidies in PDX.) Metro has denied urban growth boundary (UGB) expansion for employment lands on the basis that there are plenty of available acres inside the UGB, including this parcel. WHI was intended to be a deep water port, until the area was left undeveloped for a number of years and trees, etc. grew back on it (it had been stripped), making it "habitat," and starting the current struggle over its future. The struggle started about 20 years ago, but most people don't follow this kind of news, and the city keeps dragging out the date to make a decision.

So, the Metro/city politicians have kept it labeled as industrial land to satisfy the industrial developers and industries themselves, and as habitat to keep their environmental supporters happy, and have called it both to keep the 1000 Friends happy (they want no UGB expansion), thereby lying to everybody by trying to keep everybody happy. Now that the day to make a real decision about it keeps approaching, the city keeps trying to postpone the day it has to confess that it and Metro haven't really meant what they said by their multiple designations and promises.

Add to this that the unions want the kind of industries associated with a port terminal, because they provide good paying jobs that can be organized. That is another reason the city keeps dragging its feet. Many local politicians are supported by these unions, and they have made promises they can't deliver on without crossing the environmentalists they have made opposing promises to. I f they satisfy the environmentalists, the industrial users will want more industrial land, which will make the 1000 Friends unhappy. The only thing that keeps everybody from complaining is to make no decision.

Natural evolution

Portland's buy-local, bicycle, and food-cart sensibilities come together in the next big thing:

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

State troopers to bust Hoodbombers

If they ever catch any.

Coming soon to SoWhat District: Would you believe an immigration jail?

An alert reader writes:

Here is a juicy tidbit about the SoWhat District I thought I would pass along. I have a friend who works over at GBD Architecture in the Pearl. S/he tells me that the firm is designing an immigration jail for ICE (the renamed INS) to be housed at 4310 SW Macadam. The building is right by the Old Spaghetti Factory and a bank of new condos. Obviously the city is trying to keep it on the down-low and ram it through without all the new or prospective condo homeowners learning about the prison.

The prison is supposedly going to be like the overcrowded NW Detention Center in Tacoma. I did some checking and it looks like the people who are housed in these jails are mainly convicted criminals from the state system (felons like drug traffickers, rapists, and other violent crimes) along with the unlucky individuals who get picked up in immigration sweeps. They sit in the jail until an immigration judge decides their fate. That can’t be good for local business or individual property values. I guess the city is more concerned about collecting revenue from the federal government than they are about the image of the SoWhat.

Looking at the permits on Portland Maps it seems like there is a flurry of activity on the building since June. I can only imagine they are trying to get the process far enough along that the SoWhat homeowners associations can’t stop it. I thought our progressive city wouldn’t accept an immigration prison but I guess I was wrong. The city was so quick to jump on the boycott Arizona with their self-righteous resolution condemning the law. Hey, maybe renaming NE 39th Cesar Chavez Blvd. was to make up for the fact they knew they were conspiring against migrants in secret. I wonder if they are going to transport prisoners by light rail? Go by streetcar!

Drove by today, and the Public Notice sign is up in front of the building. They are moving quick.

UPDATE, 8/6, 2:08 p.m.: KGW follows up on the story. Apparently, there are only going to be "holding cells," in which inmates (how many has not been disclosed) will be kept no more than 12 hours. Once the thing is built, of course, that practice could change.

Getting some fun out of life

Portland songstress Rebecca Kilgore plays to fine reviews in New York this week.

Kate Brown to Post Office: Don't kill Saturday delivery

She says it will hurt Oregon's vote-by-mail election system. Her testimony, dated yesterday, is also an interesting brief on the merits of vote-by-mail generally.

Second quarter loss at OnPoint Credit Union

Our quarterly checkup of the financials of OnPoint Community Credit Union -- our crude gauge of how the local economy is going -- shows a rough second quarter of 2010, as the credit union was required to take another large loss as a member of the deposit insurance pool of which it is a member. That charge -- called a "stabilization expense" -- amounted to $3,233,975, which put OnPoint into the red for the quarter. With the insurance charge taken into account, OnPoint lost $558,020 in the quarter; without the charge, it would have turned a profit of $2,675,955.

Like other credit unions, OnPoint was required to book similar expenses in 2008 and 2009 -- and show an operating loss for the entire year 2008 as a result.

OnPoint's net income for the first half of 2010 was $3,608,811, down 80.58% from $18,586,772 in the first half of 2009. Even without the insurance charge, therefore, it was a weak first half compared to last year. A part of the decreased returns were the $12,062,117 in loans written off so far this year, compared with $10,054,679 at this time last year.

Here are the balance sheet numbers, as recently filed with the National Credit Union Administration:

Item6/30/093/31/106/30/10Quarterly increase (decrease)12-month increase (decrease)
Total investments$449,482,460$556,611,186$624,081,87412.12%38.84%
Federal agency securities$274,981,426$420,887,987$492,671,53817.06%79.17%
Total reportable delinquency - total delinquent loans$26,526,766$31,397,462$28,487,420(9.27%)7.39%
Total reportable delinquency - indirect lending$5,096,962$3,598,018$3,206,668(10.88%)(37.09%)
Total outstanding loan balances subject to bankruptcies$13,911,518$7,004,332$16,007,824128.54%15.07%
Ratio of delinquent loans to total loans (percent)1.231.511.39    
Ratio of total delinquent loans to net worth (percent)10.6711.9610.88   

Delinquent loans are those delinquent for two months or more.

In the second quarter of 2010, deposits increased from $2,446,618,429 to $2,503,549,729 -- a fourth consecutive quarterly increase, of 2.33%. Deposits a year earlier were $2,411,602,745, and thus for the year, deposits were up 3.81%.

That brings us to our comparison of some of OnPoint's financial data with that of three other Oregon-based credit unions: Unitus here in Portland, First Tech in Beaverton, and Oregon Community down in Eugene.

One number that we've been tracking for the group has been the ratio of delinquent loans (two months or more) to total loans -- the higher the number, the worse the portfolio from a delinquency standpoint. Here are the percentages for all four credit unions in that department at three recent reporting dates:

Continue reading "Second quarter loss at OnPoint Credit Union" »

No surprise here

The Big Apple has discovered that the best strawberry ice cream is made with Hood and Totem strawberries from Oregon and Washington.

They haven't been the same since Efrem Zimbalist Jr. retired

Here's a wild one: The FBI is pushing Wikipedia to take down its high-quality image file of the FBI seal. Apparently the Wiki image is so clear, the G-men and -women think it might inspire counterfeiting. So it might, but to demand that the image be taken down throws a harsh spotlight on an agency that looks quite out of touch.

We're No. 1

Replacing the windows on the vacant Mount St. Helens visitor center came in as the nation's most wasteful stimulus project in this tighty-righty list of 100.

Why economists don't run the country

Here's an idea: Privatize unemployment.

In the early morning rain

Of course! I washed my car yesterday.

Local government admits mistake

Of course, it isn't Portland, whose politicians and bureaucrats invariably declare victory and move on from their recurring blunders. In this case, it's a Portland-style screwup, only smaller -- a mere $1 million.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Idiot of the Week

Another clown on a bike -- with a death wish -- gets his come-uppance.

Tired of sitting behind Tri-Met buses?

Relax. Your problems will soon be over.

Green, sustainable hypocrites, cont'd

While the City of Portland hands over West Hayden Island to the Port of Portland to decimate the wildlife there (if they can get away with it), it's clamping down on private industry out by the Columbia Slough in the name of wildlife protection.

CNN puts State of Oregon debt at $1,859 per person

It's not clear how they calculated it, but apparently it's at the state level only, and it appears not to count unfunded pension debt. Amazing, though, that the corresponding number for the City of Portland is around $5,273.

Washington State checks in at $2,226 a head, California at $2,362. The national median is $936.

Through Hanford, on a kayak

Getting a rosy glow on the Columbia.

Post Office condo scam will include hazmat cleanup

Portland's insane obsession with pushing the regional postal distribution center out of downtown -- and with it, lots of family-wage jobs -- continues apace. So hot are the City Council members to hand that land over to developers for some more of their distinctive, East Berlin-style human warehouses, that they're getting ready to way overpay for the property, all with money borrowed by the taxpayers under the "urban renewal" banner.

If it has its way, the city will probably pay $80 million for the parcel, which is actually worth about half that, and then sell it to a Homer Williams-Mark Edlen type for -- when you cut through all the smoke and mirrors that Steve Janik can cook up -- about a dollar. Next thing you know, we'll have another jungle of multi-story, eco-roofed apartment buildings and blocks and blocks more of vacant "mixed use" storefronts, with the occasional Clearwire store and a Starbucks or two thrown in. In other words, planner Nirvana (no offense to Nirvana). Meanwhile, the Post Office will wisely pull up stakes for some place like Troutdale.

Anyway, the latest episode in the crazy story is the release by the state yesterday of a new environmental cleanup plan that will be needed only if the post office moves out and ground is broken on something different. The post office says it isn't presently planning to move, but it's collecting millions from the city to keep talking about a deal that would send it elsewhere.

No doubt the mayor has already made the routine backroom commitment to his condo weasel overlords. And the state doesn't write cleanup plans for nothing. One can only conclude that along with minor league baseball, Portland can soon bid a wistful goodbye to a bunch of Post Office jobs. Go by streetcar!

There oughta be a law against you comin' around

I don't get it. It's an interstate freeway. It's a bridge that connects two states. We have federal highway experts. We have state transportation experts. Even if he were competent (and we all know that he is far from it), why would the mayor of one city, on one side of the bridge, parade around as though he had the authority to say anything significant about it?

We've blown $100 million on this thing already, and so far all we have are some drawings that should have "massive cost overrun" written on every page. It's time to let the grownups drive. And whoever it is that Mayor Creepy has promised a gig to, needs to wake up and realize that they've been dealing with the wrong person. Aside from occasionally crashing his truck in the vicinity, while allegedly reeking of beer and with his shorts unzipped, the guy has no credentials on this project whatsoever.

Boycott Target?

Sure -- the little people can shop at Nordstrom and Whole Foods.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Window on the past

Wait for this to load, then step back 70 years or so into a beautiful world.

Got soul?

This afternoon, while tackling some yard maintenance projects, we thought we'd put in the earbuds and play with Pandora on the iPhone. Just for kicks, we popped in "Rufus Thomas." And the rest was epic history:

Rufus Thomas - (Do the) Push & Pull, Part 1
Wilson Pickett - Barefootin'
Otis Redding - Security
Rufus Thomas - The Breakdown
Charles Wright & the Watts 103rd Street Rhythm Band - Express Yourself
Al Green - I Want to Hold Your Hand
Wilson Pickett - Something Within Me
Otis Redding - I Can't Turn You Loose
Rufus Thomas - 6-3-8
Lowell Fulson - I'm a Drifter
Branding Iron - Right, Tight and Out of Sight
Dyke & the Blazers - Funky Broadway, Parts 1 & 2
Rufus Thomas - Jump Back '75 (Part 1)
Otis Redding - Change Gonna Come

One commercial. We live in wondrous times.

Big Northern Lights show could be headed our way

I've never seen them. Maybe tomorrow night's the night.

Don't overtweet it

"On Twitter or Facebook you’re trying to express something real about who you are," she explained. "But because you’re also creating something for others’ consumption, you find yourself imagining and playing to your audience more and more. So those moments in which you’re supposed to be showing your true self become a performance. Your psychology becomes a performance."
Except for the heaviest social network users, I'm not sure I see the problem. But anyway, it's food for thought, here.

Birds all sing as if they knew

Here's a great story about a recently wed Portland couple.

No on 71 to 75; maybe on 70 and 76

Here are the numbers that have been assigned to this fall's Oregon ballot measures.

What's the poop (besides toxic)?

Better living through chemistry. You can run, but you can't hide from Dow Chemical.

Taking on the L.O. streetcar

Somebody with money -- it's not clear who just yet -- is starting to rally the troops against the proposed streetcar from Portland to Lake Oswego. The key arguments against this project are simple economics, but you can almost smell the Dunthorpe neighbors who like their yards and mansions just the way they are -- nice and quiet.

The opponents have hired p.r. operative Len Bergstein, who doesn't usually work for peanuts, and he reports:

[T]he 45 day public comment process kicks off with the release of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement [scheduled for September 27] and then a series of votes for a locally preferred alternative ["LPA"], beginning with the City of Lake Oswego and working up to Metro.
Good times in the forecast. Go get 'em, bluebloods!

Even the Reaganites are gagging

The day of national reckoning has arrived. We will not have a conventional business recovery now, but rather a long hangover of debt liquidation and downsizing — as suggested by last week’s news that the national economy grew at an anemic annual rate of 2.4 percent in the second quarter. Under these circumstances, it’s a pity that the modern Republican Party offers the American people an irrelevant platform of recycled Keynesianism when the old approach — balanced budgets, sound money and financial discipline — is needed more than ever.
The whole thing is here.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Ups and downs

The Times sports section caught up this morning with one of Oregon's own -- the manager of the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes.

I was thinking that I ought to catch one of the last baseball games ever played at PGE Park, but maybe it would be better to stay on the positive tip and take a ride to Keizer for a game down there.

It's just another night

A reader writes:

Your Welches con man David Wilson came into Chopsticks II on East Burnside about 6:30pm Sunday night Aug 1. He struck up a conversation with the bartender. He was standing right beside me. After he started his stolen truck story I told him I didn't believe him and said his face was recognized. He left without saying a word. I showed the bartender your blog posting -- she was thrilled. He hasn't changed his appearance at all.

The world according to a couch potato

An alert reader writes:

So you are looking out your condo window wondering why in the heck you paid twice what your neighbor did for this view.

Not to worry... see that tug and tanker out there? Wonder where it's from? Who owns it? Want a close-up picture?


Looking up, you see a plane on final to PDX. Wonder where it's from? How fast it's going? How high it is? What its speed and altitude profile for the trip was? Who owns it? Where it was today? A picture?


Then you hear sirens down below, some shouting, then gunshots. Another mental health treatment by the PPD? And is that a fire in the distance? Listen live on an internet scanner!


Want to see the flashing lights go by?


Someone must have said something at the yacht club

Suddenly Gatsby Wyden's all worked up about Portland's teen prostitution problem. It's a disgrace, all right, but where has this fellow been on this issue for the last 30 years?

John Callahan's finest moment

There have been many remembrances of the famed Portland cartoonist since his passing last weekend. He never made me laugh harder than he did with this one.

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